Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Chapter Eighteen-One Step Forward

         "I'm waiting." Talia said with a raised eyebrow.
         "I-I was looking for you because I was told you had connections with the Rebels." I said feeling my heart pound in my chest.
         "What makes you think that I have connections with the Rebels?" she questioned.
         "I heard from one in another village that there was a woman here in Karmus that has connections with the Rebels. Then when I asked the guard at the main gate about a woman like that he instantly said your name." I explained still hoping that she doesn't attack me.
         "It's very foolish going around asking about someone connected to the Rebels. Just asking the wrong person could have gotten you reported to those priests that work for Charlie." she pointed out.
         "Trust me I'm well aware of the dangers that Charlie poses. I just need to find Will and I've heard that he's with the Rebels." I replied.
         "Why would I help some love sick girl?" she laughed.
         "I'm not a love sick girl." I snapped. "I need his help in getting home."
         Before I had a chance to blink she moved across the room slamming me against the wall pinning me there with her forearm. The only thing keeping me from retaliating was that she was my only chance at finding Will any time soon. How had she moved so fast? As far as I could tell she was nothing but an ordinary human. 
         "Getting a tone with me child is not too smart." she said. "I don't just help anyone get to the Rebels. Give me one good reason why I should help you?"
         I bit my lower lip trying to think if I should tell her the whole truth. Could I trust her with the information that I'm from another world? I didn't know anything about this woman besides the fact that she's got ties to the Rebels. For all I knew that could be some kind trick to lure in true members of the Rebels so she can hand them over to Charlie. The whole time I was contemplating all of this she watched me closely waiting for an answer. I eventually took a deep breath before finally making my decision.
         "I've been held captive by Charlie for several months and I recently managed to escape." I told her.
         "And you want the Rebels to protect you?" she inquired.
         "No, I'm looking for Will. I know that he can help with getting me home." I repeated.
         "Why would Charlie be interested in keeping you? You don't seem like you're anything special." she smirked.
         "You keep asking me if you can trust me but shouldn't I be asking if I can trust you? For all I know you're actually working for Charlie." I retorted.
         "You're definitely a mouthy one." she commented.
         "Well you're either going to help me get to the Rebels so I can find Will or not." I said looking her dead in the eyes.
         Her eyes narrowed for a moment as if she was trying to examine me. It looked like she was trying to figure me out. Was I really there for the reason I was saying? Could I be a spy that Charlie had sent? Who knows what was going through her head. What ever it was that she was thinking about it caused her to step back and remove her arm from across my chest. Her face softened a little bit but she was still clearly on alert. I could tell that she didn't think that I was a threat any more but the question as to whether or not she believed me was about to be answered.
         "Why would you be looking for Will? He's not the most charming person out there." she wondered.
         "I was with him and Liam a while back before I was kidnapped by Marcus. I was hoping to find at least Will because he was supposed to help me get home." I told her.
         "So you're that Riley." she said the tension completely leaving her body.
         "You've heard of me?" I asked confused.
         "Liam came through her about a month ago and told me about you. He's been looking for you since that night." she explained.
         "Liam was here? Was he doing all right?" I asked in one breath.
         "From what I could tell he was doing just fine. He also explained to me that you're not from this world." she said finally sitting back in her seat.
       "Don't worry about not telling me right away that you're from the other world. It wouldn't be information I would just hand out to everyone myself. I'm not too sure as to why Charlie would want some little girl from the other world. Care to enlighten me?" she wondered head cocked to one side.
         "Charlie believes that I'm capable of creating portals between my world and this one. He had sent Marcus in to my world to get me and bring me back to him." I told her sitting down on the bed.
         "Why would he want you to do that?" she inquired.
         "Not sure. He never laid out his giant master plan to me. I spent most of my time with him being taught by Lucia how to use magic in general." I shrugged.
         "Sounds like to me that I should get you some places that's a lot safer than Karmus." she finally said.
         "Thank you." I sighed relieved that she had finally said that.
        I was just about to ask her when we were about to leave when she suddenly threw herself across the room. She grabbed hold of my collar of my shirt pulling me down to the ground with her. In that instance an explosion at the window went off engulfing half the room in flames. Talia had managed not only to get out of the way in time but pulled me to safety as well. Lifting my head up I was able to see the gaping hole in the my room the edges still burning softly.
         "I think now will be a very good time to leave Karmus." Talia concluded.
         I couldn't agree with her more on that statement. Talia grabbed my wrist pulling me up to my feet pulling me behind her as she opened the door. I followed her in to the hallway to find the priests from the church in the center of town blocking our way.Each of them had a silver dagger in their hands with a single ruby on the hilt. They must have been the ones that had caused the explosion in my room. It looks like we were going to have to fight our way out of here.
         Before I had a chance to even try to think about a plan Talia shot forward like a bullet from a gun. I hadn't even blinked before she was across the hallway. Each of the priests were lying on the ground groaning in pain. At the end of the hallway Talia looked back at me waiting for me to follow her. I quickly ran after her stepping between the priests lying on the ground. I followed Talia down the stairs in to the front of the inn where there were even more priests waiting for us. Just like up stairs she darted forward barely visible taking down each of the priests without killing them. I should really learn how she does that. Maybe it will make staying away from Charlie ten times easier. Moving at that kind of speed would be ideal in fighting almost anything and any one.
         Running out of the inn out on to the street we found us surrounded by even more priests. How many priests were in this town? It felt like there was an army of them at this rate. Even with how fast Talia I very much doubt she could keep up with that speed forever. I'm sure even Talia has her limits like every person does. Even so Talia braced herself for a moment the entire street going silent as the priests waited for what she was about to do. The priests all had to blink several times when she suddenly vanished. The next thing they knew their comrades began falling left and right. I stood there wondering what exactly what I should do now. Sure enough that answer came quickly.
         Two of the robed men jumped at me grabbing my arms in an attempt to make sure I didn't go anywhere. They each squeezed there hands tightly around my arms seeming like they were sure that they had me. The two were surprised when I set flames a blaze over my arms burning their hands. They both jumped back howling in pain getting the attention of a few more of their friends. Several of them rushed forward towards me clearly mad that I had hurt their friends. I quickly reacted throwing out a pulse in front of me knocking all of them back. I managed to knock all of them on to their backs dazed for a few minutes. I knew better than to just stand there like a dear in the head lights. There were still a great deal of robed men standing all around me each one now watching me cautiously. None of them want to be taken down the same way their friends were.
            Just then Talia showed back up at my side grabbing a hold of my upper arm. I saw the men around me take a few steps back unsure of what Talia was going to do next. After seeing so many of their friends taken down so easily by her they weren't too keen to jump on her.
            "Take a deep breath." Talia said under her breath to me.
            "Why?" I asked confused.
            She doesn't bother explaining before pulling me with her. I wasn't sure what happened next but the next thing I knew the world around me became a blur of colors and rushing wind. It felt like the air had been sucked out from around me making it hard to get a good breath. In a way it felt like I was on a roller coaster going as fast as a bullet can travel. When I began to see little spots dancing around my vision due to the lack of oxygen was when I came to a sudden stop.
            We stopped so suddenly that I tripped over my own feet falling down to my hands and knees. It took me a minute to catch my breath now that I was able to get a full breath of air. My head was spinning a little as I stayed where I was till it felt like everything was steady again. When I got my bearings back I slowing got back to my feet making sure I didn't fall over again. Looking around me I saw that Talia had pulled me deep in to the forest plunging us in to the darkness. I wasn't really able to see much before the clouds passed shedding moonlight in to the surrounding area. I was surprised to see that Talia had two packs at her feet. I recognized one of them as mine. How had she had time to pack everything up with all the robed men trying to stop us from going anywhere?
            I jumped when I heard sudden rustling in the bushes behind me. Talia instantly got on the defensive stepping between me and what ever was behind me. Turning around I sighed with relief when I saw Cloud coming out of the darkness. I put a hand on Talia's shoulder telling her that it was all right. I walked over to Cloud placing a hand on the side of his neck. Talia gave me a quizzical look before shrugging her shoulders and relaxing a bit.
         "What are we going to do now?" I wondered.
         "What makes you think that we're going anywhere together?" she replied.
         "Why else would you help me get out of there?" I pointed out.
         "Touche." she sighed. "After learning who you were I knew it wouldn't be long till the priests came looking for you."
            "How do you know that?" I questioned.
            "They work for Charlie so it was only a matter of time before they learned that Charlie is looking for you. They probably wanted to catch you in order to get some kind of reward from him." she explained. "It also means that you're better off staying far from hand town or city."
            "Why is that?" I asked confused.
            "Because if Charlie wants you back bad enough he'll make sure that everyone of his followers knows what you look like. He'll also make sure to let everyone know if they try to hide you there will be some serious consequences. There are too many people scared of him right now that wouldn't turn you in without a second thought." she said.
            "So what are we supposed to do?" I asked.
           "We start walking." she stated.
            I groaned slightly really wishing there wasn't any faster way to travel besides walking. I was so tired of walking everywhere but at least each step got me closer to getting back home. With each step I was closer to seeing my parents again. With each step I got further and further away from Charle. So I just kept putting one foot in front of the other since it was all that I could do at the moment.


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Chapter Seventeen-Karmus

         I wasn't too sure how I had managed it but even through the darkness of the night I managed to get my bearings again. I was able to get myself using the map that I had been given back in the right direction towards Karmus. Throughout the entire night I kept thinking that I heard cackling coming from behind me. I was constantly worried that those little creatures were able to spring out on me again. I wasn't sure what they were but I was sure that they weren't going to be friendly to me any time soon. I was pretty sure they would turn me in to a feast first. Even Cloud seemed to be a little edgy after the ordeal we had went through. He would growl at the slightest noise he heard or if even the brushes rattled in the breeze. I didn't blame him after being tied down and nearly skinned. At least we had each other to watch the other's back.
         When I finally saw the sun coming up I sighed with relief knowing that we had managed to get through the night without any more incidents. Now it was the matter of staying awake through the day till we got to Karmus. At least when I got to Karmus I could rent a room at an inn or something for the night. That way I was less likely to become something else's meal in the middle of the night for a while. At the very least till I found this woman that has the connections to the Rebels. From there I'll hopefully get some place where I was safe from even Charlie till I found my way back to my world.
         Just as it was a little past noon I finally saw Karmus ahead of us. I was so glad to have finally gotten to Karmus. I wasn't just happy that I would get some rest now since my feet were killing me but it was safer than being out in the wild. I was less likely to have to look over my shoulders wondering what's lurking in the bushes. Then again when I got my first look at Karmus I wondered maybe I was safer out in the woods. The walls around the city were covered in what looked like barb wire that had been tangled in to each other. You couldn't see the wall behind the barb wire because of how thickly it had been placed. The wall was only visible about twenty feet up. The barb wire it's self was about twice as thick as what I've seen back home and seemed to have a shine to it like it was coated in something slimy. The massive gates leading in to the city were made of two solid pieces of dark wood each with dark steel running across it in three different places. There was a tiny door at the bottom of the right side of the gates where a guard in dark armor stood with a long spear in one hand. Even the guard standing there didn't look like he was friendly. I was beginning to all ready get a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach.
         "State your business." the guard snapped as I approached.
         "I'm here to see a friend." I replied.
         "Who's your friend?" he wondered.
         "Well the rumors has it she has connections to the Rebel's and I've been trying to find her." I answered unsure of how the guard was going to react.
           "You're here to see Talia Reign then." he concluded.
         "Yes." I said glad that he didn't make a big deal over the Rebel's comment.
         "You can go in but that thing has to stay out here." he said indicating towards Cloud with his spear.
         "He's perfectly harmless I assure you." I said.
         "I don't care if he's a purring kitten. That thing is not entering the city seeing as it is far from any kind of traditional pet." he said gruffly.
         I felt Cloud nudge me forward before he backed away slowly. I sighed knowing that he understood what was going on. I didn't like the idea of leaving him out here on his own but at least I knew he was smart enough to take care of himself. The guard stepped aside letting me walk in to the city on my own. When I walked in to the city I had a pretty good sense that a lot of the people were probably going to have the same attitude as the guard. Every person as the walked they kept their spines so straight that it seemed like to me they wore a stick built in to the backs of their clothing. Each person's expression seemed be either blank or a sneer was plastered on their face. Everyone wore clothing that were a mixture of black, white and grey. The very first thing that I thought about this city is that it was very depressing. Why would any one willingly live here?
         I could understand why the people in the previous town were depressed. They were being terrorized by a monster on a nightly basis. Here the streets were clean and were even lined with polished cobble stones to even out the road for the wagons and carriages that went by. The buildings were built closely together and didn't seem like there was even the slightest crack in the buildings. There were no plants growing anywhere in the entire city to give it some color. The only thing that seemed to really stand out in Karmus was giant black obelisk tower in the very center of the city. Looking at the tower it reminded me of the Washington Monument back home just shorter and thicker round. The steps leading up to the tower had strange golden writing all along the edges. There were men walking in and out of the tower wearing long robes that had the same golden writing around the hems. It seemed like this might be some kind of church of some kind. The men in the robes had a rather stern look on there face as if they were judging every person that walked by. Some thing told me that those men were probably why Karmus was so dull and depressing.
         I quickly found the nearest inn that had a room that I could rent. The inn keeper was a tall thin woman that reminded me a little bit like a spider. She looked me over with a look that clearly said she didn't approve of what I was wearing. All the women here wore dresses that had very high neck lines and hems that went all the way down to their ankles. The sleeves of their dresses were long as well even though during the day it was quite hot outside. How do these women walk around without falling over from heat exhaustion wearing a dress like this every day? I've got a feeling if I were forced to wear one of those dresses on a daily basis I would probably look unhappy like all the women here do.
          When I finally got my things up to the room I was going to be renting I took a deep breath knowing now I had to find this Talia Reign person. I just hoped I had enough money to keep renting this room till I found her. The last thing I wanted to worry about is getting kicked out on to the street where there wasn't even a piece of trash on the side of the road.
         "Excuse me, I was wondering if you could help me." I said tentatively approaching the inn keeper.
         "What is it?" she sighed.
         "I'm looking for a woman named Talia Reign. I was wondering if you knew where I could find her." I asked feeling like I was talking to a stern teacher.
         "I don't know who you're talking about." she snapped spinning around on her heels turning her back to me. 
         I quickly walked away feeling like I had just gotten in trouble for wasting an adults time. I was really hoping that everyone in Karmus wasn't going to be like this inn keeper. I wasn't going to get anywhere if they just snapped at me and turned their backs on me like that. Sure enough though every person I talked to through out the afternoon were the same way. No one seemed to know this Talia Reign person safe for the guard that I had met at the main gates. As soon as each person I talked to told me they don't know Talia they each gave me a rather nasty look. By the time night rolled around I hadn't gotten very far in finding Talia Reign. When I finally got back to the inn I felt like all I had managed to do is waste peoples time. With each person I spoke to it seemed like each person was less friendly than the last. All I could wonder was what had crawled up these peoples butts to make them so mean? 
         I thought that there might at the very least be one person in this entire city that would be remotely kind. After the evening I have had talking to people I wasn't sure there were any friendly people in Karmus. There was at the very least a few decent people in New York City back in my world. Here it seemed like no one knew how to show any sort of kindness towards any one. Did any of them even treat each other with any sign of kindness?
         As I walked up the steps of the inn to my room my legs felt so heavy. The bottoms of my feet were sore and felt like they were slightly on pins and needles constantly. Just carrying to plate of bread and cheese up to my room seemed a little hard for me right now. My eyelids felt so heavy from being up for more than twenty four hours. I had a feeling that there were probably dark circles underneath my eyes by now and the whites of my eyes were most likely lined with red. Right now all I wanted to do was go up to my room in the inn where there was a nice bed waiting for me to sink in to. When I wake up tomorrow I can search for Talia Reign a lot easier when I don't feel like my legs are dragging along the road.
         When I walked in to my room at the inn I had to light the oil lamps by the bed to see anything properly. It was when I turned to the high backed chair in the corner of the room by the window I nearly jumped out of my skin. Sitting in the chair was a woman that looked like she was probably in her early forties with the shaped that reminded me of a cello. Her dark chocolate skin went well with the auburn shade of her curly hair that fell down to her shoulders. I only had one word to describe her and that was beautiful. Between her full lips and the almond shape of her eyes that were a very light shade of brown. She wore the same dress as every other woman that lived in Karmus yet she seemed cool as if it was the beginning of spring. What was she doing in my room?
         "I hear that you've been looking for me." she said with a raised eyebrow.
         "You're Talia Reign?" I asked.
         "Yes no you've got five minutes to tell me what you want before I lose my temper." she sighed. "I prefer to stay out of the spot light and you wandering around asking about me is hindering that."
         I was really hoping that I didn't make a mistake by coming here to find her because she looked like she was far from in a good mood. I guess the people of Karmus' attitude must have rubbed off on her. I just hope that she doesn't lash out at me as well. I was hoping that she doesn't lash out worse than the people I spoke to today.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Chapter Sixteen-Tasty

         With in the first few days of leaving the town behind me I was all ready missing them. I missed being able to sleep on a bed as well as getting hot meals. Most of all I missed the human company that I had back in town. It was nice having Cloud traveling with me but having someone that actually spoke back was nice. With in the first night of sleeping on the hard ground my back felt stiff when I woke up the next morning. It made me miss the bed back at the inn even though it wasn't the greatest thing in the world but it was still softer than the ground. The good thing about traveling so much is that my skin was steadily developing a nice tan. I was no longer as pale as I used to be and now I had a natural tan most girls my age would spend hours trying to get in a tanning salon back home. As much as I missed the town I had just left I knew that I had to keep moving along.
         As I traveled I noticed that the forest seemed to steadily change from bright green leaves on the branches of the trees to a dark forest green needles like on a pine tree. These weren't like any pine trees I've ever seen before. The trees didn't point up towards the sky the needles growing out straight. These pine trees had rounded tops with needles that were growing so closely together you could barely see the branches. Instead of pine cones growing on the tree there was a tan flower growing that kind of reminded me of a lily. It was only fitting that I would come across plants I've never seen since I'm in another world. I wasn't too keen on trying to climb these trees though since those needles didn't remotely look friendly. The ground was littered with needles and some crushed flowers that had fallen from the branches. I wondered what kind of animals lived in this forest with trees like this.
         At night when I'm finally going to sleep I have to push aside as many of the needles as I can. A few of the needles would stick in to my skin feeling like I had just gotten a paper cut or a splinter in my finger. Even when I made a fire to cook some of the fresh meat that Cloud caught I had to make sure there were no needles. If I had any of the needles in the fire it would smoke very badly. I didn't need to give away that I'm here in case that there were some people around that weren't friendly. I just wanted to be able to make this journey to Karmus without any real incident but I was pretty that was going to turn out to be wishful thinking. So far things have been going smoothly but who knows what tomorrow was going to bring.
         It's been a week since I left the town where I had killed the Shadow Vine. I've gotten lucky that I haven't come across anything that wanted to eat me yet. Then again maybe having Cloud around was making anything lurking in the woods too scared to come near me. Every so often I would catch a glimpse of some kind of creature moving through the brush. I would hold my breath expecting something to jump out and attack us. When nearly ten minutes pass I sigh with relief that nothing had jumped out. With how paranoid that I was about something attacking us I really wished I had some medicine for the anxiety. At the very least a brown paper bag in case I start to hyperventilate.
         Tonight as I was slowly turning a rabbit that Cloud had managed to find. I watched the meat slowly change color as it was being cooked. From what Mato told me when he gave me directions to Karmus I should be able to reach the town some time tomorrow. I wasn't going to sleeping under the stars tonight since a steady rain had began falling. We had managed to find a small cave for the two of us to curl up in so we could stay dry. The fire helped with getting rid of the cold from the rain as well as curling up close to each other. I was able to warm up a little more when the meat was finally cooked and was making its way down to my stomach. When I was finally full I leaned against Cloud's stomach wanting to get as much sleep as I could tonight. I wanted to reach Karmus as soon as possible tomorrow so I'll need to rest so that I have energy to move as fast as I could tomorrow.
         I was just about to doze off when I was suddenly startled by Cloud growling. The rumbling from his throat went all the way to his belly shaking me slightly. I became even more alert when I realized that what had woken me was Cloud growling. The fire was still going but outside the cave were in I could see very much. What could Cloud see that I couldn't? 
         I slowly stood up feeling my heart beginning to pound in my chest. Cloud slowly got up from the ground the growl still rumbling in his throat. Usually if there was something that was a threat to us he would act right away. Why was he just sitting there growling at whatever was out there? Could something be out there that's more dangerous than any thing we've come across before? The most important question was that were there multiple things out there wanting to eat us? There was a sliver of a thought that crossed my mind hoping that whatever was out there would just move along. Sadly that thought was a firefly in the night compared to all the other thoughts that were flashing through my mind. It wasn't long though before all those blaring thoughts were quieted.
         I felt a sudden sharp pain in my left arm that felt like a bee sting. Looking down at my arm I saw a dart sticking deep in to my skin. The dart was made of a dark wood with what looked like feathers that belong to a parrot tied to the end. I let out a string of curse words just as the world began to tilt slightly. I could feel myself beginning to sway as my legs began to feel like they were losing strength. I barely noticed that I had fallen to my knees till I heard Cloud come crashing down beside me. I saw at least three darts sticking out from the side of his neck. I was probably going to end up like him in a few seconds and I was hoping that didn't mean we were going to die. When I finally began falling to the ground it felt like it was happening in slow motion. It felt like minutes passed before I finally hit the ground and darkness began creeping in around the edges. Just as the darkness was about to envelope me I could hear cackling coming from around me.
         The whole time I was out cold I felt like my body was floating like a feather in the breeze. I've never felt like this before. The closest feeling I can think of to this would be when I was put under to go in to surgery to get my appendix removed when I was seven. Whatever the darts had been laced with was probably a similar drug that doctor use to put people under for surgeries back home. What kind of people had I come across that would use a dart to knock out both Cloud and me? I was really hoping that I hadn't managed to come across people that had a taste for human flesh.
         I could feel my eyes opening slowly feeling like they were weighed down. When I finally opened my eyes my head felt like it was pounding and full of cotton balls. The light from the massive camp fire in front of me hurt my eyes. I closed my eyes again wanting to stop my eyes from burning any more. I kept lying on the ground trying to will the pain in my head to go away. As I was lying there I could just make out some people talking in hushed voices. I wasn't alone right now and I had no idea where Cloud was right now. I didn't open my eyes again till the pain began to subside. As soon as I opened my eyes and took a good look around I wished that I hadn't woken up after all.
         Looking around at the camp fire there were bones littered all around me. There was a break in the trees above me and I was able to see the night sky had cleared up showing the stars. When I rolled over I found myself face to face with a human skull. I gasped sitting up right suddenly quickly backing away from it. It didn't take long for me to realize that my hands were bound behind me rather tightly digging in to my wrists. Looking out across the fire I could see Cloud who's wings were bound tightly to his body. There were several ropes tied across his body pinning him down to the ground. He was awake like me and was trying very hard to break free of the ropes keeping him pinned down. When I heard the talking again is when I tore my eyes off of Cloud. To my right a little ways away were creatures that stood up right like a human but were only as tall as a ten year old child. They definitely didn't look like they were remotely human.
         The creatures had clothing that looked like it was sewn together from a variety of animal skins. Their skin was so pale it seemed ghost white as if they had never seen a single second of sun light. The ears on the side of their heads seemed to droop down and looked like a cat had torn at the edges with its claws. Each of them had long hair that was not only matted but was filled with what looked like dirt as well as some bugs. All four of the creatures had hooked noses save for the fifth that looked like his nose had been smashed in. Their eyes though were rather big but seemed like they were the most human part of them. I had no problem that they didn't look human. My problem was that they all had rows of sharp teeth that looked like they were stained slightly from blood. I really didn't want to be one to add to the stains on their teeth.
         I quickly tried to reach around my belt but groaned when I found that the dagger wasn't there. Looking around I saw all my things piled up just behind where the creatures were talking. On the very top of the pile was the dagger that I had been given. I knew that I could just move it across the air to me but the creatures would notice that right away. I looked back at Cloud who was still trying to us his brute strength to break through the ropes. If I could some how free him there is a chance that Cloud to create enough of distraction so that I could get the dagger to free myself. I knew that Cloud would be able to handle himself long enough so that I could get myself free.
         "Me thinks that we need to skin the lizard. The shiny skin looks like it will be too tough eat but could get us lots of money for more meats." one of the creatures stated.
         "Me wonders if it can be cooked like crispy bacon?" another asked.
         "Best not chance it. Could be poisonous that there." the first one pointed out.
         "Why not could a little and test it on the girlie?" the third stated. "If girlie gets sick then we know the scales are not safe for our tummies."
         "Fine, either way well get to eat the girlie too." the first shrugged.
         Hearing that little part of the conversation didn't make me feel any better about my situation. I watched as they all turned to face Cloud a slight glint in their eyes. I quickly turned my attention back to Cloud knowing that he wasn't going to like what I was about to do. In one sharp breath a made the flames from the fire jump higher. The flames arched forward in tendrils each hitting a different part of the ropes holding Cloud down. Cloud let out a slight whine from discomfort just as the creatures let out squeals of surprise. In a flurry of ropes and fire Cloud sprang up spreading his wings as far as they would go. He didn't miss a beat swinging his tale across in front of him knocking all five of the creatures across the camp site. It wasn't hard to tell that Cloud was pissed off with being tied down like that. Cloud went after the creatures with a nasty snarl making them run in all directions.
         While Cloud had the creatures running all over the campsite trying to avoid him I began getting my focus on my dagger. The dagger rose up in to the air moving over the heads of the creatures and Cloud towards me. Out of the corner of my eyes I saw one of the creature rushing over to what looked like a pack digging in it. I instantly let the dagger fall to the ground turning my attention to that creature when I saw it pull out a wooden tube along with the same darts that had been used to knock me out earlier. With a twitch of my chin I sent the darts flying out of it's hands before making them turn around mid air. The dart sank deeply in to the side of the creatures neck. The creature swayed a couple of times before falling over out cold. A light bulb went off in my head as I watched the creature drop several more darts on the ground.
         I lifted each of the darts in to the air making sure to take careful aim. Once I was sure I wouldn't miss I sent the darts flying through the air. A smile spread across my face when three out of the remaining four of the creatures were hit with the darts. In a matter of seconds the three had fallen to the ground out for who knows how long. While the last creature still standing was caught by surprise that it's friends had just fallen over Cloud jumped on it pinning it to the ground with its feet. I quickly turned my head away as Cloud arched his head up opening its mouth wide. I heard the sound of Cloud's teeth crunching down on the bones in the creatures skull. When I opened my eyes again the creature was now a bloody mess while Cloud looked very pleased with himself. Cloud moved over to me reaching around me and carefully using his teeth to break the ropes around my wrists.
         There were bruises ringing all the way around my wrists from tightly the ropes had been tied. I quickly got up grabbing my things not wanting to stick around this camp site for much longer. I didn't want to be around when those things woke up especially to see that their friend is dead.
         "Come on Cloud let's get out of here before they have a chance to find out if your skin tastes like bacon." I said swinging my pack over my shoulder.
        Cloud let out a small growl as his way of saying my joke wasn't funny. Before leaving the camp I made sure to grab as many of their darts as I could. Having something like this would be useful in the future. I all ready knew that I wasn't going to be getting any sleep tonight wanting to get as far from that campsite as I could. I had a good feeling that those creatures will be coming after me just so that they can get revenge for their dead friend. This just meant that I needed to get to Karmus all the faster. You never know maybe they get too scared to come after us after what Cloud did to their friend. All I knew was that tonight was going to be a very long night but being afraid of those things coming after me will keep me from sleeping tonight. My even bigger worry is that I was now lost all over again. At least one of the elders in the town had given me an old map they had. Hopefully I'm able to read it well enough to be able to get myself back on track to Karmus. Once I reached Karmus I was going to have an all new set of worries to deal with.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Chapter Fifteen-New Life

         Over the next couple of days the town's people got to work on rebuilding their town. Now that they didn't have the fear of the Shadow Vine looming over their heads they were able to live again. The town was ready to start over without the reminder of all the suffering that the Shadow Vine had caused. I helped out where I could with repairing buildings or even in planting new gardens for fresh grown food. Even Cloud helped out with the heavy lifting for rebuilding people's homes. These people have a chance to rebuild their lives and I was more than happy to help them out especially since the most recent damage was caused by me. Throwing around the fireballs had left some fire damage around town so it was only fitting I needed to help with the repairs.
         No one really tried to ask me to many questions about who I was or where I came from. I liked it like that way because it meant that they would less likely find out about where I was from. Every so often they would ask me little questions like what kinds of foods I enjoy eating or about the kinds of things I've fought before. I would just smile and answer their questions as much as possible without giving away who I really was. As far as everyone was concerned though I was the person that saved them. To them they had no reason to worry about me or to even miss trust me. I was really hoping that I could keep it that way till Cloud and I left.
         Thankfully it looked like Cloud's wing was healing quickly. In a matter of days he was able to move his wing without wincing in pain. After a week the bandages were able to come right off. He wasn't able to fly just yet but at least his wing was healing properly. As much as I hated seeing that his wing was hurt but I would rather he be healing than being killed. Even the cuts that had been all over his body had closed up and fresh scales were starting grow. From what I could tell he should be fully healed in another week or so. Once Cloud was all healed we could leave hopefully before any of Charlie's minions could show up.
         Cloud and I had just finished with helping one of the families rebuild their house. We were on our way to the inn where we had been staying. My stomach was growling loudly after the hard work we'd done. I could hear Cloud's stomach growling as well. Behind the inn there was stables that the inn keeper had been allowing Cloud to sleep in so that he wouldn't have to sleep outside. The inn keeper had also been making sure to leave a fresh bucket of meat for Cloud each night. By now everyone in town knew that Cloud wasn't a danger to them. Cloud has even played with some of the children and none of the parents think twice about it. I was glad that the people in town were being so nice to Cloud.
         I made sure to walk Cloud all the way to the stables where he curled up on a large pile of hay. Sure enough there was a rather large bucket of raw meat waiting for him. Cloud quickly began chowing down eager to eat. I left to eat his meal while I went inside to get something to eat myself. Inside the place looked completely different from when I had first arrived in town. This time the room was brightly light with candles and a roaring fire in the center of room inside of an iron pit. Even the people were brighter and actually laughing as they enjoying each other's company. I sat down at one of the tables with the towns people wondering what they were talking about. Within minutes of sitting down the inn keeper, Mato, had brought me a plate of food.
         "Did you hear the Rebels broke in to one of Charlie Macour's fortress' and stole quite a few of his top rate weapons." someone said.
         "I even heard that someone among the rebels managed to completely reduce the fortress to nothing but rubble." another person commented.
         "Who are the Rebels?" I wondered.
         "You could say that they are the one's who aren't afraid of fighting back against Charlie Macour. How do you not know that?" the person on my left asked.
         "I guess it slipped my life." I laughed nervously.
         "Does any one know who it was that toppled the fortress?" someone wondered.
         "Heard it was that Will kid who did it. That boy has some serious anger issues." Mato commented.
         "Any idea where I could find the Rebels?" I asked feeling excitement rising in my chest.
         "Not too sure especially since they keep moving around all the time. No one really knows where they call home is." Mato replied.
         I sighed wishing that there had been even some clue as to where to find the Rebels. Maybe if I could some how find my way back to Will and Liam they could help me with getting back home. Having me get out of this world as soon as possible might be in their best interest. Especially with Will possibly being part of the Rebels it would make sense he would want to keep me from Charlie. Charlie had made it clear that he wanted me to open portals between this world and mine. I wasn't sure for what reason he wanted me to open portals to my world for him but I very much doubted it was for anything good.
         "Is there a way to even contact the Rebels?" I questioned.
         "Not too sure." someone shrugged at the table.
         "I've heard there was someone in the village of Karmus that has contacts in the Rebels." Mato answered.
         "How far away is Karmus from here?" I asked.
         "It's about three leagues north of here but why would you want to contact the Rebels?" Mato wondered.
         "A friend of mine has become entangled with them and I wanted to get them out before they got in too much trouble." I lied.
         "Well the sooner you get your friends away from those Rebels the better. Everyone that gets tangled with them either ends up dead or lose quite a lot of people they care about." Mato agreed.
         I eventually excused myself from the table to get some sleep before another day of helping rebuild the town. The moment Cloud's wing was fully healed the two of us were going to make our way to Karmus. I needed to find the Rebels as soon as possible. I had a better chance of getting home if I was with the Rebels and it would give me a better chance of staying away from Charlie. I was out cold almost instantly when my head hit the pillow. Doing so much work in rebuilding the town tends to wear out the body pretty quickly. The whole time I was asleep I kept finding myself dreaming about Will and Liam. When I finally woke the next morning I was pretty sure the my subconscious was trying to tell me I was eager to make my way towards Karmus.
         When I rolled out of bed I could hear cheering come down stairs. Walking downstairs I found people hugging and laughing as they seemed to be dancing with each other. I managed to stop Mato to find out what was going on. In one breath he told me that a woman had given birth to a baby in the middle of the night. He even said that if it weren't for me killing the Shadow Vine that baby might not have survived or even lived long. I quickly grabbed a loaf of bread before running out the front door eager to see the new baby that had been born in the middle of the night.
         A lot of the towns people had told me how they feared having children during the time the Shadow Vine was terrorizing them. They were all afraid that even the young children around town would think it a good idea to go outside at night. Everyone of them were worried that their child could be taken away from them at many moment. Now the parents were able to allow their children to run around town without worry that there was something hiding in the darkness. I was even more happy that I had gotten rid of the Shadow Vine only a couple of weeks ago.
         I had to bob and weave my way through the crowd of people celebrating the new life that had been born in the middle of the night. I eventually got to the house where the new baby had been born. The house was decorated in tiny pink flowers that when asked I learned was to signify that a baby girl had been born in that home. Inside the house was crowded with people eager to see the new baby. As soon as people noticed me walk in through the front door I was pushed to the front where the mother sat on her bed. In the mother's arms was a tiny baby wrapped in a delicate white blanket. The baby didn't have very much hair on her head but like her mother it was a very light brown. The baby's fair skin didn't have any blemishes on it save for the single strawberry red mark under the left side of her jaw. She was so tiny it was hard to believe that she had a strong heart beating in her chest.
         "I'm glad you came." the mother said.
         "What's her name?" I wondered.
         "Willa Rose."
         "Why name her after me?" I asked.
         "Because I want her to have a name that belongs to a strong woman. Hopefully she'll grow up to be as strong as you." she answered.
         "I don't think I'm that strong." I muttered.
         "I don't know too many that would be brave enough to stand their ground against a Shadow Vine. You did everything to save your friend not giving up. I want my child to become a person like that. Someone who won't turn their back on those who are in need." she explained.
         "I'm honored to hear that you've named your child after me then." I smiled.
         The woman gave me a warm smile before she began singing a song to her baby. She gently began rocking her baby back in forth her voice sounding like warm comforting blanket. I sat there missing my own mother and the way she could comfort me with just a simple embrace of her arms. It was nice though to see that even though this town has nothing but tragedy for the past year they are able to celebrate new life. It was definitely a very simple yet powerful reminder that even though things may be happening in the world that are terrible miracles like this were happening every day. Every day there was a new life being born in to this world and my own.
         When I finally left the woman's house I was started when I quick shadow streaked across the ground in front of me. Looking around I couldn't see anything that would cause something like that. It took me a minute to notice the people around were looking up in to the sky. When I finally looked up I felt an enormous smile spread across my face. Shoring through the sky was Cloud wings spread out wide on either side. I could feel my heart swell with happiness seeing that he was able to fly again. This meant two things for us. One that his wing had finally finished healing and two it means that it's time for us to head out. We couldn't really afford to spend too much more time in this town. Who knows how close Lucia and Charlie could be to finding me again.
          When I got back to the inn I went up to my room packing up all my things. I knew people wouldn't be happy about me leaving but I needed to get moving as soon as possible. I was very grateful for these people taking care of me while I was here. They had given me clean clothing and even a dagger to wear at my side to defend myself with. Even Mato had given me all my meals for free. It was best if I was far away from this town when Charlie came looking. They were more likely to be safer with me long gone.
         Down stairs I went to find Mato behind the bar in the kitchen getting some fresh stew cooking for the people that were staying at the inn. When he saw me walk in with my pack on my shoulder he looked at with a raised eyebrow. He placed a cover over the massive pot before giving me his full attention.
         "I'm assuming you moving on?" he said.
         "Now that Cloud is fully healed we need to get moving." I nodded my head.
         "Any chance I can talk you in to stay longer?" he wondered.
         "I'm sorry but I need to get to Karmus as soon as possible." I told him.
         "Well here take some food with you since it's going to be quite a journey till you get there." he sighed.
         He quickly wrapped up some bread for me along with some meat he had dried out turning it in jerky. I thanked him grateful that not only he was giving me food but he wasn't pushing for any more answers. No one in this town needs to know the real reason I'm wanting to go to Karmus and get in touch with the Rebels.
         Mato made sure to let me know which way I needed to go to get to Karmus as we walked out of the inn. As I was making my way through town several people walked along side of me. Each person asked very much the same questions as Mato had. I answered them all in pretty much the same way so that it was general information that wasn't too close to the truth. I was eager to get as far as possible today. Each morning I woke up worried that I would find Lucia or Charlie standing over me. I needed to put as much distance as I could now from this town not only for my safety but for the people in this town.
         When I got to the edge of town Cloud flew over my head. I knew that he would eventually catch up to me. Even while we were helping with the repairs of the town he wasn't too far away from me. At this point he has probably realized I tend to get myself in trouble and wants to keep a close eye on me. Cloud gradually came back to the ground to travel beside me as I turned around to wave at the towns people. There was a huge crowd of people waving back at me. I wished that I could just stay with them but I needed to find the best chance I have of getting home. So I turned around and began my walk towards Karmus where I can hopefully find this woman that can get in touch with the Rebels. This at the moment was my new life and I was just going to have to do my best till I made it home.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Chapter Fourteen-Midnight Sun

         I rushed down the stairs trying to not to trip as I went down. Several people glanced over at me as I ran through the inn wondering why I was in such a hurry. I could hear the man behind the bar yelling at me to stay inside but I ignored him. All I knew was that Cloud was in danger right now and I had to do something to help him. Bursting out on to the street I looked around trying to find out where the Shadow Vine and Cloud had gone to. I couldn't see them but I managed to make out the sounds of their fighting coming from my left. I began running towards the sounds hearing things crashing as they moved around. 
         The only light that I was able to see by was the moon light. The shadows that were cast by the buildings were long making the town seem like it was nothing but darkness. Rounding a corner I managed to find Cloud and the Shadow Vine circling each other. The Shadow Vine was definitely in the shape of a wolf like the man at the inn had said it would be. What was fascinating about it was that you could see that it's body was actually vines very closely intertwined to each other to create the shape of a wolf. Where the eyes of the wolf should be there was nothing but darkness. It's eyes were just two black pits that made me feel a chill go through my bones looking at it. I noticed that the claws on the paws of the Shadow Vine were actually thorns that were growing all over the Shadow Vines body. I felt my heart skin though I saw the cuts all over Cloud's body from fighting the Shadow Vine so far. I had to do something before the Shadow Vine killed Cloud.
         I immediately created fireballs in each of my hands quickly hurtling it towards the Shadow Vine. One fireball smashed in to the Shadow Vines hind quarters while the second hit it in to the side of its face. The Shadow Vine jerked around snarling at me in anger. Where the fireballs had hit I saw that the vines had actually been burned falling away to the ground. The spots I hit were quickly mended though because within seconds the vines were moving to close up the gaps I had created. As soon as the wounds on the Shadow Vines body were closed up vines shot out from its body streaking across the distance towards me. I quickly threw myself out of the way rolling back to my feet only have to dodge all over again. Each place I had been the earth was torn up with dirt flying all over the place. I was so focused now on making sure that I wasn't hit with one of those vines that I wasn't watching Cloud any more.
         The Shadow Vine only stopped attacking me when Cloud barreled his entire body against it. The Shadow Vine went flying rolling across the ground several times before coming to a stop. At that point it was clear that this thing was completely pissed off. Cloud reared up swinging is wings several times creating mini tornadoes that spun toward the Shadow Vine. While the Shadow Vine was busy with avoiding the tornadoes I threw even more fireballs at it hoping to slow it down enough to be hit with one of those tornadoes. Sure enough it wasn't able to dodge the last tornado in time. 
         I watched as the Shadow Vine was sucked up in to the tornado. The force of the moving air caused the Shadow Vine to lose it's shape. The tornado now looked like a swirling mass of dark vines and thorns that seemed more dangerous than the tornado was before. When the tornado was finally slowing down the Shadow Vine was thrown all over the place. Vines littered the area around Cloud and I as we waited to see what would happen next. I gasped when I saw the Shadow Vine began dissolving in to the shadows around it. Within in seconds there wasn't a single trace of the Shadow Vine left. I remembered instantly something that the man at the inn had told me. That this thing could move among the shadows which is where it hid during the day. At this moment Cloud and I have no idea where this thing was and it could pop up at any given moment. I could see why the towns people haven't been able to kill this thing after so long. It can repair it's self when it's damaged along with hiding out where people can't get to it. I really wish that we had just kept moving along instead of stopping in this town.
         I cried in surprise when out of nowhere Cloud takes a hold me with his tail throwing me off to the side. As I hit the ground I saw out of the corner of my eyes the vines shooting up from the shadows. The wind was knocked out of me as I hit the ground. Rolling over I saw the Shadow Vine had completely wrapped around Cloud. I could see Cloud trying to break free of the Shadow Vine that was steadily tightening its self more and more around Cloud. I could feel panic rising in my chest watching as my friend was being killed before my eyes. I began throwing fireball after fireball at the Shadow vine hoping that I could annoying it enough that it would let Cloud go. Each time I hit the Shadow Vine it would just repair its self and then just latched another vine around Cloud. If I didn't think of something better soon this thing was going to kill Cloud and I'll be very much alone in this world.
         I was frantically looking around trying to come up with a way to get this thing off Cloud. It was then that I noticed that it was avoiding being hit by the moon light. Each time it got anywhere near the light it would cringe back. Could light be more damaging to it than the people of this town even realize. Well this would be the time for me to figure out what I can do.
         I held my hands about six inches apart in front of me and created a concentrated ball of fire. Once I had the fire going I forced all my focus on making it as hot as the sun it's self. Maybe if I'm able to create actual sun light I could kill the Shadow Vine. The fire in my hands steadily became brighter and the heat that was coming off the fire was starting to become painful. I was pretty sure that at this rate I was going to burn my hands but I would rather burn my hand so I can save Cloud. I began expanding my hands so that I could make the small sun in my hands all the bigger. When my hands were spread out as far as possible on either side of me I began to see the Shadow Vine cringing in the light. Seeing that made me believe that what I was doing was the right move. 
         With one last cry I threw the small sun up in to the air as high as I possibly could. When the small sun I had created was up as high as possible I threw forth one a single burst of power. When that burst of power hit the sun I had created the sun exploded shining sun light in to every corner of the town. Suddenly the air was filled with a high pitched shrieking that forced me to cover my ears. Looking out in front of me at Cloud I saw the Shadow Vine releasing him. In fact it looked like it was rotting away like a weed hit with weed killer. Each part of the Shadow Vine fell away swiveling up till the vines were nothing but dried up pieces. I felt my jaw drop when a huge clump of vines moved aside to reveal a beating heart. Before I had a chance to really examine it further Cloud's tail came done on top of it with so much force that he sent pieces of the heart flying all over the place. 
         I sighed with relief knowing that Cloud was going to be all right. I rushed over to his side looking over him to make sure that he didn't have any serious injuries. A side from all the cuts on his body from the thorns on the Shadow Vine the only real serious injury he has was on his wing. From what I could tell some of the bones were broken due to the Shadow Vine squeezing him so tightly. He wasn't going to be flying any time soon but at least he was going to live. 
        I felt Cloud gently nuzzle my hands noticing that there were burns on them from creating that small sun. I gave him a small smile knowing that I very much needed to bandage up my hands as soon as possible. I gasped when out of now where Cloud spat on both of my hands. I was very much disgusted but that soon passed when I looked closer at my hands. The burns on my hands were rapidly healing. It reminded me of the healer back in Liam's home town. Apparently Cloud has more tricks up his sleeve than I knew about. In minutes my hands looked like they were sooth like a baby's bottom. I gently hugged Cloud around his neck unsure of how else to thank him for healing my hands. 
         I jumped ten feet in the air when out of nowhere there was a sudden roar of cheers rang out around me. Suddenly people came poring out of their homes surround Cloud and me. There were so many happy faces around me that I wasn't sure who I should look at. There was such a sense of relief coming from the crowd that they were finally free of the torment the Shadow Vine had created. There were even a few crying tears of joy. Stepping out from the crowd was the man that I had spoken to at the inn. 
         "We can't thank you enough for getting rid of that thing." he said.
         "There's no need to. It's just nice to know that I was of some use to someone." I replied. 
         "At the very least allow us to help in mending this creatures wing. It needs to put in to a sling so it can heal properly." he pointed out.
         "Thank you."
         Several women came forward carrying strips of bandages as well as small wooden pieces to brace the wing. Cloud winced as he laid his wing down to allow them to bandage up his wing. The women seemed hesitant at first getting near Cloud worried that he might hurt them. Cloud just sat calmly allowing them to see that he wasn't a danger to them.
         "What is your name? So that when people ask us who killed the Shadow Vine we'll know what to tell them." the man asked.
         "It's Willa." I answered giving him a fake name. 
         "Well Willa thank you for saving our town from that monster." he smiled.
         I just smiled at him thankful that I was able to come up with a name on the spot. It was better if none of them knew my real name in case Charlie's minions came looking for me. If they showed up in this town the people would be safe because they would have never heard of someone named Riley. I was even more thankfully knowing that I was not only able to protect Cloud but I was able to save his life when he needed me the most. It was nice knowing that I was capable of protecting those that I care about now. Maybe if I got home and Charlie decided to send people after me I'll be able to protect my family. I very much doubt I'll ever become strong enough to fight Charlie himself but at least I could do something if he threatens the people I care about again. I refuse to let Charlie ever hurt me or any of the ones that I hold most dear.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Chapter Thirteen-Village Crysis

         As Cloud and I continued walking through the forest together I soon found myself talk to him. It was a very much one sided conversation the whole time but it was nice to have someone that just listens. I was able to get so much off my chest that by the time we finally settled to get some sleep at night I felt that I could breath a little easier. Even though Cloud looked like he could bite my head off at any moment when he curled around me softly I laid my head down in its side. His body was so warm to the touch that when he draped one of his wings over me I was warm throughout the night. It was the best sleep I've had in months. No nightmares or rolling round because of the pain in my back. By the time I finally woke early in the morning I was far more rested and ready to do more traveling today.
         Over the next couple of days Cloud and I made sure to stay close together. There was no telling what we were going to find out in the wilderness. Just the next day we ended up coming across a pack of what looked like hyenas with fangs the curved down out of their mouths. We spent quite a bit of time running from them dodging every which way to avoid being pinned down by them. During that little run I did learn that Cloud was able to manipulate the wind. With one massive flap of Cloud's wings he created two tornadoes that tore across the ground towards the hyenas. While the hyenas were busy trying not to be hit by the tornadoes. I was startled when Cloud wrapped his tail around my waist lifting me high off the ground. We had flown through the air for what felt like hours before Cloud finally brought me back down to the ground. When we finally got back to the ground I was able to see all the scratches on my legs. I guess the hyenas had managed to nip at me a few times that I was too busy running from them to notice.
         I was very sure after about two weeks of traveling with Cloud that if he wasn't with me I wouldn't have gotten very far. Between all of the predators we seemed to come across and the terrain as well it made travel a little slower. There was even a few instances that the earth gave out from under me opening up to a dark abyss. If it weren't for Cloud catching me each time I probably could have fallen ending up with some broken bones or even breaking my neck. Katherine wasn't kidding when she warned me that it was dangerous wondering around this world on my own. At least with Cloud I'm not alone and I have a better chance of surviving. I hated to admit it but because of Lucia teaching me how to use magic I was able to protect myself all the better as well. Between being able to us magic and having Cloud at my side I was able to get through each day with at the worst of my injuries being cuts and bruises. At least at this rate I was putting some good distance between Charlie and me.
         I ended up eventually losing track of the days that it's been since I left Charlie's castle. I even ran out of  the food that Kathrine had packed for me. I was forced to scavenge around the forest for food. Cloud even brought me some small rabbits at night for me to cook. It was a good thing I remembered watching Will skin an animal during the time I spent with him. Even better was that I still remembered all of my mother's cooking lessons. I was able to easily cook the meat from the rabbit so that it wasn't just edible but tasted good as well. The only time Cloud ever left me on my own was when he went hunting for his food. I always wondered what he was. I did entertain the idea that he might be some kind of dragon but when I asked Cloud he just shook his head. In all the studies I've done with Lucia I not once came across anything that remotely resembles Cloud. For now to me he was a giant flying serpent that was extremely intelligent.
         While traveling I was startled when we came across a dirt road cutting through the middle of the forest. I instantly became excited when we found this road because all roads eventually lead to some kind of village. Maybe if I found a village I would be able to get some clean clothes or even a proper meal. I just hoped if I met any people they would good people like Liam and even Will. I could definitely use some good people in my life at the moment. Don't get me wrong Cloud has quickly become my friend but at the same time he doesn't respond the same way a human would when I talk. Part of me did wish that I could understand what he was thinking so that I at least new why he was so keen on following me. Why he wanted to protect me? Then again creatures do tend to know things that humans don't. Maybe Cloud knew something or even could at least sense something that I didn't.
         We had only been traveling along side the road when I heard something rumbling behind us. Turning around there was a man sitting on a wagon being pulled by what looked like an ordinary horse. In the back of the wagon were several different sized boxes each with some kind of red label on them. The man riding on the wagon looked like he's seen some better days. He looked to be somewhere in his eighties with a back that was hunched over from years of hard labor. There were liver spots all along his arms and some along side his face. The man brought the wagon to a stop beside me smiling down at us.
         "You look like you've seen better days dear." he commented.
         "You could say that. I've been kind of lost in the woods for a little while." I replied.
         "How did you get lost?" he wondered.
         "Teleportation spell went haywire on me." I laughed.
         "Looks to me you need more than just a hot bath. Is that thing safe?" he questioned.
         "Yes he's harmless." I assured him.
         "Then why don't you hop on and I'll take you to the nearest town. It should only be another twenty miles but I'm assuming you've done plenty of walking by now." he smiled.
         "Thank you."
         I quickly got up on to the empty spot next to the old man while Cloud climb up on to empty spot in the back of the wagon. I learned that the mans name is Leon and that he was in the middle of delivering some supplies to the town up ahead. When he began asking me questions about myself I made sure to give him some general answers. The last thing I wanted was to tell the wrong person that I was on the run from Charlie and that I was from another world. Either information could put not only myself in danger but possibly even someone around me. It was best that no one knows anything about me.
         It was sunset when we finally reached the town he was talking about. Cloud and I hopped off the wagon at the entrance to the town waving good by to Leon as we went on to make his deliveries. Walking in to the town I was instantly began to get worried. Every building seemed to have pieces missing. In a way it looked like something had tried to dig its way through the wall. It looked like a tornado had gone through the town. There shatter barrels lying everywhere along with shards of glass from the broken windows. What had happened here? There were gashes in the earth that were a couple feet in length. As I was walking I noticed people peaking out through the windows at me clearly terrified. I wasn't sure if I should stay in this town any more.
         When I was near the center of town I came across a building that had a sign hanging still over the door.  I was relieved to see that it was actually an inn. Maybe they'll have a room for me to stay the night in. Walking through the front door I wasn't too happy watching Cloud stay outside since he couldn't fit through the front door. Inside the inn looked just as run down as the rest of the town looked. The burly man behind the bar looked at me without any emotion as I walked up to him. He slid me a key without a word telling me the price is two silver for every night I stay. I made sure to place the two silver on the counter for him grateful that Katherine had slipped me some money. Upstairs the room key had a number on it corresponding to the room it went. Opening the door I found myself looking at a very small room with a single bed in it. Looking down in to the street below from the window I saw Cloud still curled up beside the front door. I guess he was going to guard the front door till I came out.
         Curling up on to the bed it was a nice change from the hard ground even with how thin the mattress was I was still wondering what happened to this town. It couldn't have always been this way and Leon wouldn't be making a delivery to a town that wasn't still busy. I heard my stomach growling suddenly so I decided to go back downstairs in hopes of a hot meal. When I got down stairs I was a little surprised that there actually a couple of people sitting around tables eating in silence. I went at to sit at the bar since I didn't have any one to actually sit with. The man behind the bar gruffly asked me want I wanted. It was obvious he wasn't too happy that there was a stranger in town. I asked him what they offered for food and he only had stew with bread along side it. I asked him for a bowl and a loaf wanting just to eat something I didn't have to prepare myself. As I was steadily eating the stew placed in front of me the man behind the bar began asking me questions.
         "So what brings a stranger in to our forsaken town?" the man behind the bar asked.
         "Just passing through." I answered.
         "Well lady you've picked a pretty bad town to be just passing through." he commented.
         "What makes you say that?" I wondered.
         "This town hasn't been a safe place for a very long time. That creature of yours outside alone makes everyone nervous. We don't need any more trouble than we all ready have." he replied.
         "So is there something that caused all the damage to the town?" I inquired.
         "The same thing that shows up every night for the past year and kills any poor soul out on the streets. I don't know how long that pet of yours is going to last out there." he said.
         "What is attacking your people?" I asked.
         "A Shadow Vine." he answered.
         "What is that?" I asked.
         "It's a creature that can move between the shadow world and ours. It usually takes on any form it finds most pleasing. This Shadow Vine likes to take on the form of a rather large wolf that has a rather wide set of shoulders. Since it hates the sunlight it only comes out at night especially since the shadows are darker and cover the entire town." he explained.
         "Why haven't any one fought back?" I asked.
         "We did at first but we only ended up getting more of us killed than doing any real damage to that thing. Instead we just stay inside during the night. So long as the Shadow Vine doesn't see any one it doesn't attack them." he answered.
         "Is there no way to kill it?" I wondered.
         "None that we've been able to figure out." he shrugged.
         With that said he went to go fill up some of the other peoples mugs with what I assumed was some kind of beer. Looking around everyone looked so depressed. They were all very much alive but they don't seemed to be doing much living. This Shadow Vine had demolished the morale of the entire town and now everyone's so scared that they didn't even know how to be happy any more. The sadness was so strong that you could feel it in the air pressing down on to you. I could imagine this how I was while I was trapped in Charlie's castle. I wish that I could do something to help these people but I wasn't sure that I would be able to defeat something that they couldn't even after a year.
        When I finally went back upstairs to go to bed I looked out the window to check on Cloud. After hearing about that Shadow Vine I wanted to make sure he was all right. It made me nervous having him sleeping out there with the Shadow Vine prowling out there. Lying down in the bed I wanted to be able to have Cloud up here by my side. I was just about to drift off in to sleep when I was jolted awake when the entire building shook suddenly. I heard a loud snarl coming from outside. I instantly recognized Cloud's snarls mixed with what sounded like a snarl that came from under water. I rushed out of the bed realizing instantly that Cloud was in danger. I had to protect him no matter what. He's done so much to protect me and I had to protect him as well. That's how a friendship works. You protect each other and right now my friend needed my protection.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Chapter Twelve-Going The Distance

         I kept walking through the forest in no particular directions just as long as it was far away from the castle. It was difficult moving through the forest in the dark and I ended up tripping several times. My determination to get as far as possible made me ignore how frustrated that I got when I tripped every few minutes. The whole time I moved through the dark I kept looking over my shoulder wondering if I was going to come across any predators out here. I wasn't too sure what could be out in these forests but at the moment I would rather face that down then Lucia or Charlie.
         I was so focused on how far I could get during the night that I just barely noticed how clear the sky was. Each star seemed to shine brighter than any that I've ever seen before. The moon was bigger here than back home with its white light cutting through the tree lines giving some light for me to travel by. There was a shimmer across the night sky from where there was a milky way. I would admire how beautiful it was more if  I wasn't so busy trying to get as far from Charlie's castle as possible. The only thing that truly butted in to my mind as I continued moving through the forest was hoping I didn't run in to anything nasty out here. Katherine is right about how I wasn't sure what I would come across out here. For all I knew I could come across some kind of creature that I wouldn't know how to handle. Even worse there could be something out here hunting me right now that I couldn't see. If I stopped for a moment to worry about what could be lurking around me I was sure that I would probably have a panic attack.
           As the sun started creeping up I began to wonder if any one had noticed that I was missing yet. What would Lucia do when she came to get me for my lesson only to find that I'm not there? I didn't envy any one near her when she finds me gone. I most definitely didn't envy the person that had to tell Charlie that I was gone. Who knows what he would do to the messenger? As bad as I felt about what is going to happen when Charlie learns that I was gone my need to get as far away was stronger. I wasn't sure why Charlie needed me to create portals in to my world but I refused to help him. After everything that had happened helping him was the last thing that I want to do. 
         My eyes were burning from being up all night and I could feel the bags that had formed underneath them. My legs were sore while my back felt stiff from walking all night long. How exhausted I felt right now reminded me of the journey that I took with Will back when I first got to this world. This time though I was sleep deprived as well. With barely sleeping very much over the past couple of weeks my body wasn't in the physical shape it needed for all this walking I was doing. There was also the fact that my back was still healing from the burns that Lucia had caused. Physically my body felt like it was running on empty and was in need of a long nap as well as a big meal. As tired as I was I couldn't stop just yet. I had to keep going to get as far as I possibly could. The world around me seemed to tilted ever so slightly when the sun was fully up in the morning sky. At the moment the only thing that was keeping me from falling over was my will power. The drive to be free from Charlie was the only thing giving me energy to keep going. The need to be with my parents again kept each of my legs moving forward. I knew at some point I was going to have my body shut down to keep me from going any further because it needs to rest. I just wanted to get as far as I possibly could before that happened.
         I was pretty startled when I walked out of the tree line to come face to face with a river. The river was a good two miles across with no visible way across going in either direction. I was glad that the water moved calmly which meant that I could just swim across if I didn't find any other way across. I began walking along the river in hopes of finding a bridge or even a massive tree that had fallen across. I had barely walked a mile before I suddenly felt my legs give out from underneath me. My legs felt like they were lead surrounded by jello and each time I tried to stand up I fell back down. I could feel my heart pounding against my chest and as I was lying on the ground the world steadily began spinning. This was where my body was finally giving out saying that it needs rest. I was really hoping while I was out cold that I didn't have something or someone that would be a danger to me finding me.
         My heart rate sky rocketed when I saw something moving out of the corner of my eye. I turned my head to face the river. Climbing out of the river was a serpent that looked like it could be the size of a horse if not a little bigger. There were two small horns just above its eyes that were a very bright green. I watched as it pulled its self forward with two clawed feet. When it sudden spread out two massive bat like wings shaking water off them I could feel my heart skip a beat. It's grey scales glistened in the sun light as it's thin tongue darting in and out of its mouth. I really hoped that this thing was friendly. It took the creature a minute or two to notice me lying there on the ground. I steadily inched closer to me either thinking it has a free meal or was just curious about me. Black spots began dancing around my vision just as the creatures head was right over mine. When everything went black I was praying that this thing didn't decide to eat me.
        The whole time I was unconscious I kept seeing images of Charlie and Lucia. Each time I saw Lucia she was chasing me each time catching up to me before biting in to the back of my neck. I could physically feel the pain as her teeth punctured my skin. As she drained blood from my veins I could feel my body become weaker and colder. I was literally dying. The times that I saw Charlie I would see him standing over a massive pile of bodies blood sprayed across his face. I recognized several of the people that were in the pile in front of Charlie. I saw both Will and Liam each looking like they had been stabbed so many times that all their clothing was just a scarlet color. Even Liam's younger sister was in that pile her eyes staring wide open at the sky. I felt my heart drop when at the very top of the pile I saw my parents. They each had their throats slight and looked like someone had taken a meat cleaver to their heads. This couldn't be what's waiting a head of me. I refused to believe that all this death was going to happen.
         When I felt my eyes opening I was surprised to find that I was actually alive. I had blink a couple of times for my eyes to adjust to the low light. When I was able to see clearly again I saw that I was lying in a cave that had holes in the ceiling letting in shafts of light. I steadily sat up groaning slightly as I felt the sore muscles in my back and the scabs cracking on my back. Looking around the cave I saw several small bones scattered across the area. So the creature that had found had brought me back here but chose not to eat me. Why had it kept me alive? Was I meal it was saving for later? The bigger question was where was the creature.
         It took me a minute to get to my feet since my legs were still a little shaky. When I was sure that I was sturdy I took a few steps toward the entrance to the cave. I had only taken a few steps forward when the creature suddenly appeared. It looked at me for a moment or so before it moved a little closer to me. I could feel my heart pounding in my chest as it got closer. I wasn't sure what I was supposed to do. Should I fight it so I can get away or wait to see what was about to happen? I was surprised when it lowered its head at my feet and a couple of apples dropped out of its mouth. As soon as the last apple hit the ground I moved past me lying down in the center of the cave watching me. I wasn't sure what to make of this. Had this creature actually brought me some food? Was this just some kind of trick? Could I even be dreaming all of this?
         I made sure to keep my eyes on the creature as I bent down to pick up one of the apples. I noticed that as the creature watched me there were hints of intelligence behind those eyes. I very much doubted that there was a typical intelligence of a creature that lives in the forest. In fact it felt more like it may have the same intelligence level of a human. When I bit in to the apple I half expected it to be poisonous but all I tasted was it sweetness. Juice from the apple trickled down my chin and my stomach growled demanding more. In a matter of minutes I managed to eat every apple that this creature had brought me. Why would this creature want to make sure that I had food?
        The creature had even made sure to bring me my pack in here. I picked up my pack inching closer and closer toward the entrance to the cave wondering if this creature was going to let me leave. I sighed with relief when I was able to leave the cave without it attacking me. When I was a good distance from the cave I turned my back to walk away hoping that it doesn't come after me. I had barely walked a mile when I heard movement coming from behind me. Looking over my shoulder I saw the creature following after me. It wasn't charging after me like a wild beast. It seemed to be following me more like it was a lost puppy that had just found the human it wanted to bound with.
         "I've got the feeling that I'm not going to traveling alone for a while." I sighed.
         I jumped when I saw it shake its head as if it was answering no to me. "Can you understand what I'm saying?"
        It nodded its head watching me intently. We kept eye contact for a while before I sighed motioning my hand for the creature to follow me. I was really hoping that letting this creature follow me around wasn't going to be a decision I was going to regret. At least now I wasn't traveling alone but I wasn't sure if this thing was following me because it was hoping to kill me when I was watching. Then again this creature could be the equivalent to that of a dog back on my world that only really attacks people if they are provoked. Most dogs back home that are remotely vicious usually are that way because some human has mistreated them. I was hoping that this was the case this time around and that this creature wouldn't hurt me unless I hurt it first.
         I wasn't sure where I was any more but at the same time I was really hoping that I wasn't getting any closer to Charlie's castle. I may be lost right now at the same time I was glad I wasn't back there any more. I wasn't too sure how long I had been out cold for but it looked like me that it was only a few hours in to the day. I had only been walking for about an hour before grey clouds rolled in and a light rain began to fall. Even though it was raining I kept going thinking that at least it wasn't a full blown storm. I just kept my held down trying to watch where I was going wanting to keep going forward. The creature and I walked for several hours through the rain and by then I was soaked. I didn't stop till suddenly I heard the creature following me begin to growl deeply. Slowly turning around I saw the creature baring its teeth a deep rumble coming from its throat. I guess I had a made a mistake letting this creature follow after me.
         As I stood there wondering what I should do now I noticed something. The creature wasn't looking at me. It was looking past me at something that was behind me. Turning back around I wondered what could be there that was making this creature act this way. Sure enough looking around I noticed something that didn't look quite right. There was what appeared to be a gap between the rain and the ground. It seemed that the rain was hitting something else rather then the ground. There was definitely something there that was a danger to me and the creature behind me saw it before I did. Maybe I might not be wrong about the creature following me.
        I let out gasp when the creature jumped over my head it's wings spread out slightly. The creatures mouth was wide open showing two long thin fangs the length of my forearm that folded out like a cobra. I watched as it landed on top of the thing that the rain had been falling on. As the creature wrapped its self around the thing the air shimmered ever so slightly before what was there became visible. What I was looking at looked like a panther you would find in the jungle back home. I guess it developed the skill to become invisible as a way to survive and hunt prey. I watched as the two trashed around biting and clawing at each other. The air was filled with the sound of them snarling and growling at each other. In a way it sounded like they were throwing around insults in the process. All I could do was stand there watching with my jaw wide open the realization of the creature following me was trying to protect me right now. I finally shook my head knowing that I had to do something to help this snake like creature following.
         I pulled on the powers that Lucia had helped me in learning and pulled the water falling from the clouds in to a ball in my hand. I quickly pulled the water in to three separate orbs then quickly chilled it so they were all balls of ice now. I made sure to carefully aim before launching the balls of ice forward. One of the balls of ice hit the cat square in the face dazing it. The second hit it in the right shoulder and the third ended up going wide hitting a tree. All it took was that moment I dazed the cat and the creature managed to sink its fangs in to the cats neck. The cat let out yowl thrashing around several times before going completely still. When the creature was sure that cat was dead it released the cats neck letting it fall to the ground limply. The creature unwrapped its self from the cat coming over to my side as if it was checking to see that I was all right. I reached out my hand feeling quite nervous about this but I relaxed when it pressed its nose in to my hand. The creature closed its eyes and to my surprise it actually began making a sound that seemed like it was purring. After everything that I've been through it seemed like there was a chance that I may have found someone, even though its a creature, that has my back. Someone that isn't wanting me around because of something I can do for them.
        "Is it all right if I call you Cloud?" I wondered.
        A smile spread across my face when it opened its eyes looking at me for a moment before nodding its head. Together we continued on through the rain leaving the corpse of the cat behind for any hungry predators in the area still lurking by. At least now I wasn't traveling alone. Maybe this way I'll have a better chance of getting back home to my family. I wonder how they will react when they see Cloud. I could see my father going for a shot gun scared that Cloud would hurt his family. My mother on the other hand would most likely try to put herself between Cloud and me. I guess I won't find out till I actually get home and whether or not Cloud would follow me to another world.