Friday, February 13, 2009

Chronicles Of Greeves {part 2} (Friday Fiction)

This week's Friday Fiction is hosted by Julie @ Surrendered Scribe. Click here to read and share more great fiction!

Author's note: Sorry for this post being a little late. I've been fiddling around with a half-dozen different ways for this second half to play out, hopefully without disappointing the expectations brimming from the first part. Unfortunately, I cannot fit as much story into it as I would like, this week has been far too busy for me to finish (and edit it) as nicely as I'd like, but I threw in a few new characters, We get to see Dwynn, the incredible talking horse-lol-for a brief moment, and four other new gifted heroes. I hope you enjoy this second installment-Have a great weekend and thanks a bunch for reading!

“Sondra?” Bri’en asked, gently, urging his mount to keep pace with hers. “Be you all right?”

A shudder passed over her and then the head held up stiff, erect. “Just fine, Bri’en.” She murmured, polite. “Just fine.”

“You couldn’t have done anything.”

“Maybe.” She forced the word through her lips.

“Sondra…Captain…” He tried again. “It wasn’t our fault. It wasn’t your fault. It was theirs. They could have sought our assistance if they had needed it that badly.”

“No, Bri’en they wouldn’t have.” She closed her eyes. “There were helpless and innocent people within those walls. Those smoldering, burning walls. And for the sake of politics alone, we cannot help them!” She scoffed. “Help. That’s all we would have done. Helped them. Did you not see them? Did you not see the faces? The homes…the flames…” Another shudder passed over her.
“There was not much we could’ve done…Lorenth said there were at least twenty of them and-”

“And there is thirty-seven of us, four with gifts powerful enough to do a hundred times that. There were children there, Bri’en. Children! They no longer have homes, and the city itself…you saw, empty! Sacked! It’s either a Baulden forest or a desert filled with sinking sand. We’re just lucky that we made it through without running into more than one cluster of them at a time. That city! Those people. Something there wasn’t right. It was just….wrong, very, very, wrong!”

“You cannot burden yourself with the ‘what ifs’ in your position, Captain. I understand that this may have been…what I mean is, perhaps even if you had known, there might not have been anything we could have done. We can’t impose ourselves on-”

“To save lives?” Sondra shot back. “That is wrong?”

“If they do not wish to be saved-”

“I should have sent a scout or something.” Sondra cut in.

“Maybe.” Bri’en allowed. “I am not sure. The elders themselves were quite…adamant in their arguments. They wanted nothing to do with us.”

“But because of their leadership, the people are doomed?” Sondra countered. “No, Bri’en, I do not think that is fair. Please…I would like to think this through on my own, if you do not mind.”
Bri’en hesitated, then slowed his horse, dropping back. “Of course.”

They had scarcely passed the city when Sondra held up her hand to halt the procession. “Lorenth, I need to talk to Dwynn.” She nodded towards the dappled gray horse. “Alone, please…” She dismounted, waiting.

Lorenth blinked, staring at her for a long moment before he finally handed the reins down and switched horses. “Everything okay?” He darted a glance over his shoulder, as if looking for the culprit to cause such a strange request.

“Stir the riders.” Sondra murmured. “and get me Malachi, Raul and Lavender…and probably Quile as well. Might as well make the whole thing official. I’m going to ride ahead several paces…don’t follow.” She spurred Dwynn forward, launching herself into the new greenery.

Sondra felt some of the tension drain away as the greenery flew by. She reached upwards and touched the ruby earrings, before double checking the flask to be sure it was secured to her belt.
Dwynn?

He snorted. About time! We’re being followed!

I know. What is it?

Who, not what.

All right then, who? And where exactly are you taking me? Sondra shifted her weight forward.

Safe.

Dwynn…

He slowed to a walk and then shook himself lightly. Down.

Sondra gratefully slid from the saddle, keeping a tight hold on the saddle horn. “Some ride.” She mumbled.

Dwynn whuffled softly into her shoulder. Not so loud. Someone could hear you.

An uneasily feeling slid over her like cold creamed corn. We already know that Dwynn, get to the point, please? Any time now?

Those were strange bandits that attacked that city. Strange elders too. Strange person following us.

What’s strange about it?

No marks.

Marks?

Yes. Think. No marks. Surely you saw?

Sondra felt her strength slowly ebbing away, she sagged against his warm side, the metal stirrup digging into her side. “I did.” She closed her eyes. “Why am I so blind, Dwynn? Ylyander has won another victory it would seem.”

Dwynn twitched his tail, shuddering. Please get on. I would feel much more comfortable if I knew I could save you by running…rather than sacrificing myself.

A smile threatened to break to the surface, but Sondra barely managed to pat his shoulder and heave herself up into the saddle. There we go. I’m up. No heroics okay?

The steady drumming of hooves reached her ears and Dwynn shied sideways. “Easy now, Dwynn. That ought to be Lorenth, or else he’s much more-”

A white horse broke through the branches, prancing almost, to a halt before the half-hidden duo. The lilac robed figure riding smiled widely from beneath a scarf-covered headdress. “Captain.” She tilted her head.

“Lavender.” Sondra maneuvered Dwynn out from his sudden, impromptu hiding place. “that was quick. I ought to give Lorenth more credit.” She peered over her shoulder. “Where is he?”

“Bri’en caught him.” Malachi spoke over Quile’s shoulder as the golden horse stepped through, bearing two riders. Malachi murmured a word of thanks, sliding down to stand next to Raul who had trailed behind them on foot.

Sondra winced. “This isn’t going to go over well, then.”

“Probably not.” Lavender said cheerfully, hiking the sleeves of her robes up to her shoulder, showing off her bare arms. “Would you like to see?”

Sondra shook her head quickly. “No, not that anyway. I want you to see something else, I’ll tell you in a moment.”

Lavender shrugged. “Whatever you’d like, Captain.”

“We’re going after the bandits.” She said bluntly. The reactions were exactly what she’d expected.

Lavender’s smile blossomed several degrees brighter. Quile winced and promptly looked in the opposite direction. Malachi nodded, cracking his knuckles and rolling his neck side to side. Raul just grinned.

“Malachi, I want you overhead. Find out any and everything that you can. Even if you think it’s not important, think ahead of where we may be in a few days, all right? You’re welcome to go any time now.”

“Gladly.” He rolled his neck back. “Must take good care of my cloak…gift from my mother’s side, you know.” There was a soft slurping sound and the pool of black fabric dropped to the ground.

Raul bent to lift the robe from the ground, offering a hand to the glistening black and burgundy bird lying underneath. “Very well done, Malachi.” He said approvingly, with a toss upwards.

Powerful wings carried him upwards quickly and Sondra shifted her attention from him to Raul next. “Raul, I hate to give up any element of surprise, but what I want is transportation. Once Malachi can tell me where these scumbags are, we’ll give them a little something to remember us by and I want you to get us there fast. Can you handle it?”

Dancing blue eyes smiled back at her. “Naturally. It would be a pleasure.”

“Good. Thank you. Lavender…I want to know what they are doing, where they’ve been and whatever they’ve done up to now.”

A quiet moan came from Quile’s direction. “Please.” He spoke faintly. “Please, my dearest, darling captain, please do tell me you are not sending me off on-”

“Catch our shadow, Quile.” Sondra hid at smile at the mournful look he sent in her direction. “and it shouldn’t take you long, nothing to whine about.”

He sighed. “I know. That is what you always say. And that is why I always worry…” His voice trailed off and his image flickered, then flared, before disappearing completely, horse and all.

Raul chuckled. “Bet you five guild I’ll finish before he’s back.”

“Deal.” Lavender smacked her fist into his palm. “Get a move on so I can get some work done here.”

He offered a salute. “Ladyship, Capt’n.” He broke into an easy jog, disappearing into the foliage.

Lavender shuddered. “I can hardly to stand to be in these woods.” She rode over to Dwynn. “Makes me nervous, because I would never see them until they were close.”

“I know.” Sondra searched her face. “But let me worry about that now. Give me something useful.”

The young woman smiled, then took a deep breath. Her head rolled to the side and her eyes rolled upwards into her head. Sondra leaned across to tilt her forward onto her horse’s neck. “Dwynn.” She muttered.

He whuffled, pressing closer to allow her to steady Lavender.

At first, there was just a faint sparkle of rainbow color along her arms and then the colors began to swirl around, forming into pictures that intensified, motion beginning to show. Sondra sucked her breath in as the moving pictures played across Lavender’s arms.

She squinted, trying to sort them out.

“Sondra!” Bri’en’s voice cut through the air, tinged with annoyance, touched with relief. Lorenth rode up behind, a deep blush coloring his face. “What’s going on…?” His gaze flickered from Lavender to her and his eyes grew hard. “Tell me you are not chasing after those bandits.”

“I wouldn’t lie to you, Bri’en.” She said evenly, returning her attention to the kaleidoscope of images playing across Lavender’s arms. “Lorenth, come here…tell me what this says.” She pointed to an image flickering across Lavender’s left elbow.

Lorenth dismounted, hurrying over to see. His brow furrowed in puzzlement. “Well, it’s ancient writing.” He said at last, staring at it. “I can’t quite make it out…it’s too blurry, but it seems like the…” He swallowed.

“Yes?” Sondra prompted.

“It seems like…the prophecy scrolls.” The blush had faded from his cheeks, now replaced by a near unnatural white.

There was a hiss from beside them and Lorenth stepped back, jerking Dwynn’s reins along with him.

Lavender stirred, the images slowly fading away. Her head raised up, one hand going to her neck as the sleeves drooped down over her bare arms once more. Surprise flickered briefly through her face and then she grimaced. “Oh…I was out again, wasn’t I?”

Sondra nodded. “Thank you. I’m not quite sure what to make of what I saw…but Lorenth believes you saw something to do with the prophecy scrolls.”

“I did.” She winced. “I traveled through several slots of time, all different people…” She shuddered. “Couldn’t get too much on the bandits, sorry, they’ve been careful, but I have seen plenty of other things.”

“That is quite all right. Thank you, Lavender.” Sondra offered a smile. “you may go...”

She smirked. “Gladly…I would much rather be elsewhere than here for the next ten minutes.”

“Lavender?” Dala called tentatively. “Is that you? There's something over here I think you should see for a moment.”

Lavender sighed. “Yes of course. Who else would it be?” She turned back to Sondra. “I’ll stall them, have at it.”

Sondra opened her mouth and then shut it. There wasn’t a suitable reply at hand for that particular remark. An awkward silence hung in the air for a moment and then Lorenth tugged on Dwynn’s reins.

“Oh! Sorry.” Sondra quickly swung down from the saddle, heading to her original mount instead. “Thank you, Lorenth…Dwynn, I appreciate it.”

“You appreciate what?” Bri’en snapped. “What were you thinking riding off like that? Flask and all? I see you one moment and you’re gone the next. Might I remind you that the original mission is to safely see you and the flask to the Morgofe Mountains? To insure that the Ancient’s Artifacts are united to defeat Ylyander and his-”

“Tell me something I do not know, Bri’en.” Sondra sat tall in the saddle. “Lorenth, kindly stir the riders, please. Let them know we are readying for an attack.”

“Yes, Captain.” He wheeled around, urging Dwynn forward in the direction where they’d come.

“You don’t know how to leave well enough alone.” Bri’en growled. “Every time we come across even the most scarce example of injustice, you cannot let it alone to progress towards an outcome for greater good! You simply must plow straight towards it with naught but your own sheer stubbornness to-”

“That is enough, Bri’en.” Sondra hid her own surprise the coldness beneath her voice. “You do not have to agree with all that I do. You must simply follow the orders you are given.” She took a deep breath. “We’re going to track those bandits down. We’re going to ask them some questions. And when I am satisfied with the results, then we will continue. Until then, I do not wish to hear you opinion on this, am I understood?”

Bri’en’s hands tightened on the reins, his body turning rigid. “Quite clear, Captain.” He offered a stiff salute. “I take my leave.”

“Captain!” A bored voice cut through, a flicker of silver shimmering and then solidifying. “I found it…I mean, him.” Quile let go of the arm of a young man, who quickly jerked away, rubbing his shoulder. “The follower I mean.” He offered an artificial smile. “I am tired…this tracking business…makes me tired. I’m going to take a nap.”

The boy scoffed. “I wore you out then? Needing a nap and all?”

“Go, Quile. Thank you.” Sondra wearily inserted herself within the newcomer’s line of vision.

“Hello there, you do not know me, but I think it would be a good idea, if we didn’t get off on the wrong foot. Quile needs his naps…and I’ve learned not tease him about it. It would be wise for you to do the same.” She frowned. “He said you had a horse…what happened to it.”

The boy looked away.

“oh right.” She sighed. “I am Sondra, this is Bri’en.” She gestured towards her left. “And you would be…?”

“Richard.” He scowled. “What do you want with me?”

“I would very much like to know why you were following us, for one. Second, I would like to know where you are from.”

“You’re a lady knight.” He nodded towards her. “A real one and all that.”

She shrugged. “I am, but you did not answer my questions.”

“What are you doing here?”

“She asked first.” Bri’en glared at him. “Answer.”

“I wasn’t following you and I’m from nowhere.” He shrugged, palms turned upwards. “Can I go now, or am I your prisoner?”

“We don’t take prisoners.” Sondra said quietly. “And no, that does not answer my question.” She unhooked the flask from her waist. “You look thirsty, drink?” She offered it, uncorking the top.

Bri’en grew very still.

The boy eyed her skeptically, then gingerly reached out and took it. He sniffed it for a moment, then took a swig. “Thanks.” He took another swallow, then handed it back.

Sondra smiled, capping it and retying it to her waist. “You’re welcome…so tell me, what is your name?”

His eyes glazed over. “Richard Prusse.”

“Ah, I see. And where are you from, Richard?” She asked, pleasantly.

“City of Tanderk…not much of a city anymore.” He laughed, harshly. “Burned to the ground you know. Bandits. They stole everything. Everything I had…and killed whatever I loved.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.” Sondra said, sincere. “But why are you following us?”

He rolled his eyes. “Not following you…following the bandits. I’m gonna make them pay for what they did.”

Sondra blinked. “You? By yourself?” Her brows knitted themselves together in puzzlement.

Bri’en made a strangled noise in this throat, the expression on his face one of pure disbelief.

“Take a breath.” She advised, unable to resist teasing. “And thank you, Richard. We’re going after the bandits too.” She drew her sword from its sheath, blowing softly on the lightly blue-tinted blade. There was a soft hum and a ring of energy sprang to life around it. Sondra twirled it expertly with one hand and then sliced the air directly in front of Richard.

The haze disappeared from his eyes and he staggered back. “Hey!” He yelped. “Watch where you swing that thing!”

Sondra smiled, tucking the sword safely back in its sheath. “Sorry. But I had to know where you stand.”

As if on cue, he doubled over, clutching his stomach. “ugh…what was that?”

“You do not wish to know.” She smiled. “But, we are bandit-hunting, are you with us?”

He coughed, spitting on the ground, one hand rubbing his stomach. “Do I have a choice?”

Bri’en seemed to revive. “No. You don’t.” He wheeled his horse around. “Any further orders, Captain?”

“Captain?” Richard gaped openly. “You’re a woman!”

The stubbornness lifted enough to touch her with a feather of mischief. She grinned. “Last time I checked I was.” She held out a hand. “And if you do not mind that, then I have an offer for you. Would you care for a ride? We are leaving now. You're welcome to ride with us, under our protection. When you're seeking revenge, you should do it within the realms of the law.”

“He’ll ride with me.” Bri’en interrupted, crossing in front to offer his hand over hers.

Richard hesitated, then took the hand. “Thanks.”

“Hold on.” Bri’en looked upwards. A large black burgundy bird was circling overhead. The weariness over him seemed to ebb away and a faint smile touched his face. “Looks like it’s time.”
“Seems like it.” Sondra murmured, her eyes locked onto his. The unspoken conversation ended with a smile. “Shall we ride?”

© 2009 Sara Harricharan

1 comments:

Shelley Ledfors said...

I'm late on commenting this week (had company over the weekend), but I like this. I like the characters you introduced in this part, and, for some reason got more "into" the story and scene this time than in the first part. (Most likely due to the time frame in which I read them...not your writing! :-)) Thanks!