Chapter 2 - Departure

Chapter 2 - Departure

A Chapter by VassD
"

Ania makes her exit.

"
Ania urged Jimande, the horse left to her by Alliania, onward over the rocky bottom of the stream. She had gotten out of the house easily enough, but even now she heard the sounds of the family guard pushing through the branches. Had they been women, it might not have been so easy to evade them, but only men were chosen to be petty guards. Women were the elite body guards and the experienced trackers. The men were mere guards of the stables and the outer buildings. Her mother would not have wasted good guards on her. 
Ania flinched as her horse slipped on a loose stone and let out a little whinny. Was she imagining it, or did a few of the of the closer guards stop making noise?
She let out a breath when they started moving again, away from her. She nudged her horse onward.
Having once belonged to Alliania, Jimande knew how to ride fast and undetected. Ania know the route well enough to let her mind drift and not lose the way. She thought of the note she had left for her parents. She had written exactly what Alliania had told her to, but she had added something at the bottom, after the promise to become whatever they wished if this failed. 
Mother, let me bring honor to that which you hate.
Ania didn't know if her mother would act the same as Alliania's had, but the fact that Anmita hadn't sent the elite female guards when she knew how good of a forester Ania was meant she didn't really expect to find her…or didn't want to. Ania wasn't sure if that was good or not. 
About an hour later, the noises caused by the men tracking her ceased completely. Just to be safe, she kept going until she could only see ten feet in front of her horse's head. 
She reached into her pocket for the little crystal Xanya had given her for her eighth birthday, the year after Alliania had died. She held it close to her mouth and whispered the trigger word. "Illumiera." A warm yellow-pink glow emanated from the little crystal. She breathed a sigh of relief. Nothing dangerous was around. Xanya had told her that if something dangerous was around, the glow would change to a bruised purple-blue color. She had only ever seen it happen once before, when she had been separated from the group on a hunting trip and stumbled into a wolf den. She had gotten out easily enough once the mother wolf had gone back to her pups. Ania always had had a way with animals, especially wild ones…and ones that had belonged to Alliania.
Ania held the crystal above her head. No one else was around, and even if they were, it wouldn't give light off for any but her and none could see it but her. Xanya had told her that the only way for another to see the light was to give it to them of her own free will, and then to say a quick spell. Ania could never remember the spell, and she never wanted to. She loved the crystal. Xanya had always been her favorite sister, and she had always been Xanya's.
The warm glow lit the surrounding forest as brightly as if it were noon day and only started to dim almost forty feet to any side. Ania look around, and soon saw what she wanted.
A small overhang of rock jutting out of the cliff face to her left. Ania had explored these mountain forests since she was old enough to walk, and this little ledge was the first of many shelters she had helped Alliania set up.
She hopped off her horse and patted her jet black nose, and turned to the saddle. It came unbuckled easily enough, but it was another thing entirely to get it off. Ania sat down on a stump, trying to figure out what to do. She considered just sliding it off Jimande's back, but discarded that almost immediately. She could drop it, or lose control when it was halfway off, maybe causing it to fall on her. The heavy saddle might have been an easy feat for the horse and the groomers, but Ania was small even for her young age. She couldn't hope to take the saddle off when Jimande was still standing.
Ania turned to the horse's head, and was just about to reach up and grab the reins--to do what with, she wasn't sure--when Jimande looked at her, and when their eyes met, Jimande knelt. Ania blinked, not entirely sure what to make of this strange occurrence, but then shrugged it off as chance. She slid the saddle off and placed it directly under the edge of the over hang to prevent it from getting wet if it should rain, and just to make sure, she put a few loose balsam boughs over it. 
The saddle taken care of, she turned to Jimande and took up the reins, leading her to one of the sturdy oak trees close to the cliff wall. Ania fished a piece of rope out of her pack, and, tying it to the reins, tethered Jimande to the tree, making sure she had enough room to graze. She didn't have to worry about taking the bit out, because her aunt had trained Jimande to ride without one. Jimande had refused to move the one time Ania's mother had put a bit on her, so Anmita had just let her ride to the way she was used to.
After she saw that Jimande was well off for the night, Ania turned to the cliff wall, and, finding the first hand holds, started up to the ledge. She had made this trip countless times, so her hands and feet flew up the rock wall. Mere seconds had passed before she stood on the ledge, not even winded.
She turned to the cliff wall and reached out toward the mass of vines that hung so thickly she couldn't see through to the other side.
Grabbing the far edge of the vines, she pulled them to one side. Like a thick leafy curtain, they parted from the wall to show a rather spacious cave behind it. A bedroll, some basic supplies, a few maps, even a few books lined the walls. Alliania had originally set up this shelter, and Ania had made sure that everything Alliania had placed there either remained there or was replaced by much the same thing. Ania had added to the stock pile with a few new things as well.
Ania stepped over to the bedroll and knelt down, removing her pack while she did. She untied the bedroll she had brought with her and laid it on top of the one already there. Most of the shelters she or her aunt had set up had bedrolls already there, but a few were in unprotected areas where they might have been stolen while they were away, so she always carried one wither her. If she visited one without a bedroll, she was prepared, and if she stayed at one that had its own, she would have a little more comfort on the hard ground.
She walked over to the ledge, not wanting to start a fire in the shelter. There was a stack of wood next of the cave entrance and a small depression in the ledge for this very purpose. There was also a pile of stones to ring the pit. She placed the wood and stones in their appointed places around the pit, then pulled a piece of flint out of her pack. She reached down to her boot and pulled a knife from its sheath. This was not the knife that Alliania had left her, but a simple, unadorned knife with a leather wrapped hilt and cross guard. But it was sharp, and it got the job done. 
A few tries later, and a small fire was burning. She was still close to her house, and even though she had stopped hearing the telltale sounds of her pursuers long ago, she didn't dare make her fire any larger. Her crystal may have only given light for her, but a fire was there for all to see. 
She grabbed a pot that was with the stash she and her aunt had made. A little water from her pack and some of the spices from the cave went into the pot, which was put on the embers of a fire already begun to die. A few minutes later, she had extinguished her fire and had gone back into the cave to eat her dinner.
After she finished Ania walked over to the maps hanging form the walls. She had never gone to the palace before, and she needed to figure out which of her shelters she should stay at. She had pulled out her crystal and was leaning towards the largest map hanging in front of her when she saw a flicker in the corner of her eye. When she turned to investigate, she saw a sparkling symbol on the wall, the same symbol as on the necklace, as on the knife. The hawk's head.
She turned to the symbol, her curiosity winning out over necessity. She knelt in front of it, and, more on instinct that anything else, she brought the necklace out from under her shirt, placing it on the symbol. A fine line appeared on the wall surrounding the symbol, and it drew a circle around the hawk's head, about four or five inches from the symbol at all times.
When the circle was complete, the enclosed area retreated back into the wall--the solid rock wall!--and sank down until she could no longer see it. The revealed cavity held several rolled scrolls. At once she noticed another envelope sealed with the hawk's head symbol.
She gently broke the seal and wasn't all that surprised at the message that followed.
Ania, these scrolls have maps that show the best routes to the palace. There is more than one, depending on if you want to avoid anyone. You'll see that each route follows a string of shelters…or rather; a string of shelters follows each rout. I built these shelters after I started making frequent trips back and forth between the palace and your mother's home.
Ania, the reason I knew you would find this is I know you have the crystal. I know, even though as I right this, it is only a few weeks after your seventh birthday. I left your house not three days ago. I told Xanya to make you the crystal for your eighth birthday. I am afraid I may not be here for it. 
Ania stopped. A hot burning sensation prickled at the back of her eyes. Alliania had died three weeks after her seventh birthday. She had written this a few scant days before she died. How had she known? I may not be here…How had she known?
Ania shook herself and rubbed her eyes, wiping away tears that were not there. The message continued on
Now, I have something to tell you that is very important. The next two shelters are the same for every map, but after that, they split. At the last shelter that is the same on every map, you will find something you must take with you. There will be more than one to choose from. I understand you may think it too dangerous to risk, because most of them will be feral. You may feel the urge to take the one that seems the least dangerous, but you must-MUST-take the one that chooses you. Trust me. You will be unable to make it very far with any but that singular one.
Again, all my love
Alliania Kyatei
Ania blinked. What was she talking about? This made no sense. What did she have to take with her, and what did she mean, choose her? And feral. A shiver went through Ania. She had heard of feral animals. They were vicious and very possible deadly. 
But, like Alliania said, Ania trusted her, and wherever Alliania led, she would follow. She only wished she knew where that path would take her. 
Ania replace the maps, determining to go over them in the morning. The letter she placed in the small leather wallet where she had stored the others. This taken care or, she turned back to her bedroll. Even with the heady emotions flying through her mind, she was more exhausted that she had even been in her life, and she fell asleep almost instantly.


© 2011 VassD


Author's Note

VassD
This one was rather interesting to write. There were a few spots where I rambled on and thought up random things to have them say and think with absolutely no clue how it would fit into the grand scheme of things. Hopefully, I ended up tying up all the loose ends.

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Interested to see this feral beast, I noticed a few misspellings like in the last sentence, "Even with the heady emotions flying through her mind, she was more exhausted [that] she had [even] been in her life, and she fell asleep almost instantly."
Instead of that I'm pretty sure you meant than and ever instead of even. Then in the letter it says " I know, even though as I [right] this, it is only a few weeks after your seventh birthday." instead of right it should be write and I think it would sound better if you took out though. Other than those little errors it is very interesting and I am curious to see if her sister knows more about what happened to her aunt XD

Posted 9 Years Ago



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Added on November 21, 2011
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VassD
VassD

A tiny random town-city-dimension, ID



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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..

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A Chapter by VassD