Chapter 8 - Alone

Chapter 8 - Alone

A Chapter by VassD

The consequences for our actions are often much harsher than we ever imagined.


The rain came down harder now. Ania didn’t think she had ever been colder, wetter, or more miserable in her entire life. The sky was a mottled grey-purple, and the clouds looked like they wanted to swallow her whole.

Regardless of the waterfall that was emptying itself on her head, the bandages Ehmita had wrapped the majority of Ania’s body in held firm, and she suspected that they were the only parts of her that weren’t completely soaked, although the deluge of liquid bricks that was pouring over her head made her wounds ache with a ferocity that made their relative dryness a small consolation.

Jimande stopped, and suddenly Ania was aware of a cliff face rising out of the ground a few feet in front of her. She looked around and tried to make out some of the scenery around her. There were several massive oak trees that towered to the west of her, identifiable only by the deeper shadows and the change in sound from constant pattering to quick leather slaps with intermittent splashes. A little ways to the south, she heard the ploinking sound of wet-on-wet where she knew a small stream ran. This was the right place, even though she hadn’t been consciously guiding Jimande towards it.

With a firm grip as she could manage on the pommel, Ania brought her injured leg up over Jimande’s sleek black flank. She clenched her teeth and tried not to think about the jarring pain that would come when she hit the ground. Jimande’s so tall, and my arms aren’t strong enough right now. I’ll fall for at least a span. By all that’s sane, that’s going to �"

Ania’s eyes felt like they were going to pop out of her head when her boot touched the rough surface of an oak stump that reached Jimande’s knees. I forgot �" Da helped her cut down the tree so I’d have a mounting block. I couldn’t even see it in this light. How on earth did Jimande stop right next to it?

Ania stopped thinking about it when her already-injured head began to ache. She was too tired to puzzle out the mysteries of the universe. Putting most of her weight on her unhurt leg, she pulled Jimande’s saddle and tack off. She stuck her hand into the bulging saddle bags for the first time, trying to figure out by touch alone what all her sister had packed for her. She was mildly pleased to find a lead rope. She extricated it, careful not to dump any of the special bandages ou into the mud, and tied it to Jimande’s bridle. Ania climbed off the stump and stumbled her way over to the cliff face, where she felt around in the darkness until she found the sturdy hitching post her aunt had put up over six years before. She felt the beams �" they hadn’t rotted in the four years since she’d last used it �" and tied Jimande of before feeling her way to the cave entrance a few strides along the cliff face.

The sudden cessation of the pounding water on her body made Ania’s limbs feel like they were about to float away. Every inch of her felt battered, and she pretty sure her bruises were bruised now. She set the saddle and her rucksack down with a thud and staggered over to where she hoped the lamps were still in one piece.

After a few seconds of fumbling in the dark to find one that still had oil, Ania grabbed a piece of flint from beside the lamp and used her belt knife to light the wick. The warm yellow light was welcome, even if it hurt her eyes.

She turned back around to face the care shelter tahat she’d helped her aunt put together when she just six years old. There were stacks of fire wood, extra snares and bowstrings, and leather wrapped bedrolls that, upon inspection, were, while dusty, still in one piece and a lot drier than the one tied to her saddle.

After she laid out her own soaked bedroll to dry a bit, she sat down on a flat boulder and started to unwrapped the bandages. To her surprise, her shin no longer looked misshapen, and the bruise had already begun to turn yellow. The places where her skin had split open under Sanna’s blows had the gummed looked of a week-old injury that was trying to scab over but hadn’t yet seen the light. When she removed the bandage from around her forehead, her eye felt weak, but she could open it all the way, and the image was no grainier than from her unhurt eye.

When the last bandage lay at her feet, Ania stared at them. Ehmita didn’t tell me what to do  after I’d changed them. I’d clean or burn regular ones, but these are magic. What am I - ?

At the same time, the faintly shimmering clothes all disintegrated, leaving not so much as a pile of while thread behind. Ania blinked as her heart tried to remember how to beat. Was it about to do that anyway, or did it do that because I took it off? How did it know I took it off?

She was half expecting the regular bandages to jump up and start dancing in front of her, but she was quite relieved when she finished rewrapping her injuries without further incident.

Even though she hadn’t set up a camp site in four years, and the last time she’d done it was uninjured and with help, it didn’t take long for Ania to care for Jimande’s equipment and set up a dry bedroll for herself. With a piece of dried meat in her mouth, Ania stripped off her saturated clothes and dug through her pack for something dry to change into.

While she searched, Ania let her mind wander to the last time she’d come here. She and her aunt, Alliania, had been on one of their camping trips, and it had been raining just like this, except the water had been a little warmer that side of the summer feast. The sound of rain had been deafening, and as a seven year old , Ania had been afraid of all the noise that could come from just one storm. Alliania had calmed her down by telling her that when it rained, you could hear the world talking.

Every time the rain drops hit, the sky tells the ground how much it missed it. The trees play games with the rain drops, and they race to see who will be the first to the ground. The river laughs because the little rain drops  have never seen so much water in one place before. Can’t you hear it, little Ania? Can you hear the world talking?

Ania closed her eyes, listening to the sounds that echoed within the cave itself. The stream laughing, the raindrops racing, the sky and earth calling out to each other �" she heard it all. She heard individual drops as they fell, and suddenly the voices split into a thousand different shards, each telling a different story.

Can �" can you �" can you hear us �" hear us? Can you hear us, Ania? Ania �" Ania �" Ania �" Can you hear us? Hear us �" hear us �" hear us? Remember, Ania. Remember �" hear us �" Ania �" Ania �" Remember �" Remember �" Remember �" Can you hear me, little Ania?

Ania felt something brush her shoulder, and she thought she heard, over the hundreds of thousands of voices calling out in the storm, a footstep behind her.  Only half paying attention, she thought she recognized the touch. She turned around a tired smile growing on her face, and said, “What took you so long, Aunt Alla? I was beginning to think you’d �"”

There wasn’t anyone there.

She blinked hard. Of course there’s no one there. She’s been gone for years, of course she isn’t there. She brought her arms up to hug herself, a piece of clothing from her pack still clenched in one first. She hadn’t done that for years. At first, she’d felt her aunt all the time, and she would break down crying when she realized Alliania wasn’t really there. It didn’t matter where she was. She would jus sit down and cry, waiting for someone to come and make it better. Her mother had always come running, and would just hold her until the crying stopped. The ache in her chest grew until it feld like someone was drilling a hole through her breast. A tear  ran down her cheek, and she lifted a hand to wipe it away.

Ania’s hand stopped before it reached her face.

Her fist was still clenched around the shirt from her pack, but it wasn’t a traveling tunic. It was the white feast day shirt that she’d put back into her wardrobe, the one Cerna had so painstakingly made her last year. Ania’s hand shook as she ran a finger along the embroidered story. A young man and woman from different lands who fell in love and went an adventures while the rest of the world was fighting. They saved the lives of strangers and they saved each other more times than they could remember, but above all they never left each other’s side. Even when Death sought toclaim them, they were never alone.

Never alone…

I’m along.

Ania’s shoulders began to shake back and forth, and air came in deep gasping breaths as her eyes filled with tears biggere than the rain drops outside. She was alone. Her mother wasn’t going to come saver her ever again, because she wasn’t her mother anymore. Ania had run away, and broken everything.

I know I had to leave, but why does it have to hurt so bad?

Ania sobs became audible, and the wails of an eleven year old child who was completely alone in the world reverberated off the walls of stone and water that boxed her in and cut her off form everyone she loved. Ania clutched the white shirt to her, holding on to it as tight as she could even though it couldn’t fix what she’d had to do. As she sat there crying, the only thing a passerby would have been able to hear over the cacophonous rain storm was a single phrase, repeated over and over.

“I’m sorry, Mama! I’m sorry!”


© 2013 VassD

Author's Note

I'm not sure what to say about this one. What's your opinion of the emotion? This was the start of a difficult stretch for me, because Ania's character started to change temporarily. It was a real challenge to avoid making the whole situation super melodramatic.

Anyway, I would really appreciate feedback for this. Specifically, I want to know how engaging the story is. I have a lot of plans for this story, and I want it to fly. So, with this in mind:

►What did you like?
►What didn't you like?
►What was your favorite line?
►What do you want to see in the future chapters?

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Added on May 1, 2013
Last Updated on May 1, 2013
Tags: black horizons, draft two, edit, fantasy, knights of the covenant, ania kyatei, randen derris, alliania, vassternichdrauka, vassternich, drauka, novel, chapters



A tiny random town-city-dimension, ID

I'm a fledgling author with dreams about as big as one of Robert Jordan's books. Maybe more than one on top of each other. I love writing fantasy and science fiction stories (No matter how long a piec.. more..

Synopsis Synopsis

A Chapter by VassD