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The Guardian Chapter 3
gracie113
Chapter Three: Close Encounter

​She was up before the sun had risen over the mountains. Refreshed and replenished, she knew she needed to be on her way as soon as possible.

​She took a piece of parchment from a night stand in her room and scribbled a quick note, Thank you for your hospitality. I hope to complete my mission and return to see you again soon. All my love. Your Little One. She slid the note under Methad and Elani's door before she left to retrieve Mallokai from the stables.

​Mallokai and Nika awaited her in one of the stables.

​The three of them quickly headed out of the palace and toward the northern valley exit. The next two days would be torturous travel through the mountain boarder between Edaria and Tarisia.

*****


​​The journey out of the city, through the northeastern country side, to the foothills at the base of the mountains took all day. Clouds began to roll in from the other side of the mountains.

​The Telamar pass began in the foothills. It was a green soft path through the hills, so harmless and benign. It soon turned and led deep into the mountains. There, at the mountains' base, the pass led into a gorge between the rocks. Green grass stamped flat against the earth, and vines clung to the wet rock.

​Going into the mountains at night would be an icy, snowy death trap. Yet, wasting the time to make camp, to sleep, to pack in the morning, and then begin the journey, was beyond her. All that mattered now was finding him, and that could not wait any longer.

​Forward into the mountains, she led Mallokai. He whined at her urgency, protesting entering the mountains in the darkness, even though he knew she would force him in anyway.

​The wind whipped through the pass, eerily hissing as it went, bringing cold damp air down around her. She shivered as the wind bit at the exposed skin on her face and neck. Her hand dug into one of the saddlebags and pulled out the heavy cloak Elani had lent her. She quickly tied it around her neck and pulled the hood up over her head. The thick material clung to her skin, helping to block out some of the nasty, bitter wind.

​The pass climbed up into the mountains, further and further into darkness. She looked back over her shoulder, outside the gorge she could just barely make out the faint lights from the city, twinkling against the black night sky. She longed desperately to go back to the city, to turn around and head for Elani and Methad, to be in the comfort of the big bed in the palace. She desired nothing more than to end this quest for this man, to be free of her obligation to this person, to his future. Yet, she forced herself on into the pass, into the night, and she would continue on until Mallokai could no longer carry her.

​Three hours into the journey, she had ridden upward, high into the mountains. The path narrowed between the rocks and as she turned a corner around the gorge, she was faced by a solid rock wall. From there, instead of weaving between the mountains, the path continued up the side of the mountains into the darkness.

​Mallokai protested at driving upward into the mountains. The rocks slid under his hooves as he trudged forward with her on his back.

​Nika had been circling above them, but the wind had become too much to bear and he was forced to come and land on her shoulder. His talons dug into the cloak, yet he was careful not to dig too deep and go into her skin.

​The path grew more and more narrow as she rode higher against the mountain's side. She felt wetness against her cheek, a snowflake. Soon after, another followed, and another, and another.

​Within moments, the snow was falling heavily on her. She clutched tightly to Mallokai's neck. The wind blasted up against her skin, pushing the snow into her eyes. She felt as though her nose was going to freeze and fall off of her face.

​She pushed them into the storm. The wind whistled as the snow beat against her. The ground vibrated beneath her. It would do her no good to turn back now; it was equally as far back to the gorge as it was to the other side of the mountain. On one side of her was the snowy rock face, to the other was a straight drop, plummeting into the darkness below. The snow began to pile up around Mallokai's hooves, making it harder for him to continue up the trail.

​The earth shook again, snow slid down the mountainside behind them. She urged Mallokai to go faster; however, the fastest he could go was not much greater than he was going now.

​Thankfully, she knew a cave existed not much further down the path. She would make her camp there for the rest of the night, in hopes that by morning, the storm will have passed on.

*****


​The cave was just barely tall enough for Mallokai to get into. Thankfully, it went deep enough into the side of the mountain that it allowed her to get them out of the storm. Mallokai lay down in the back of the cave while Nika hopped off of her shoulder and fluttered across the floor of the cave.

​“You okay?” she asked. Mallokai snickered at her. “I know, I know. I'm sorry.” She walked over to Mallokai and removed his bridle, saddle, and saddlebags.

​Nika clicked at her.

​“Come here,” she beckoned, “Let me see you.”

​The bird hopped toward her and settled by her feet.

​She bent over and brushed the snow off of Nika's head. She sat down, picked Nika up, and set him in her lap. Then she began to gently pick the ice chunks off of Nika's feathers. When finished, she set him back on the ground.

​“Bed time boys,” she explained as she lay down against Mallokai's stomach. Mallokai snorted in agreement as Nika flew up onto a little ledge on the cave wall. She grabbed her blanket out of the saddlebag. She wrapped it around herself then got herself comfortable against Mallokai's soft belly, and she fell fast asleep.

*****


​She awoke with a start, her heart pounding heavily in her chest. A screeching howl echoed in the wind outside of the cave. At the sound of it she shivered. It was them; they must have followed her out of the city. Her hands shook. Two more nasty, higher pitched screeches called out through the storm, undoubtedly females. The hair on the back of her neck stood on end and small bumps rose up on her arms.

​"Please do not let them find me," she hoped silently. "Surely there are too many of them for me to take them on, she looked out toward the mouth of the cave to see ice and snow flying in the air, especially in this storm. "I cannot do this. I cannot get captured. I just cannot. I have to find him." She prayed silently, “Yeill help me. Protect me and guide me. I cannot do this on my own. I need you now more than ever before. Father, please protect me, blind their eyes so they will not see.”

​She continued in silent prayer, begging for guidance and protection.

​More than once, she watched the shadows pause as they passed the mouth of the cave. Each time, she prayed harder.

​The howls grew louder and increasingly frustrated. And then, with no warning, they stopped all together.

​“They must have given up for now,” she thought. “Thank you. Thank you Father.”

​She waited up until she was sure that they were gone. Finally, she forced herself to curl back up against Mallokai and go back to sleep.



*****

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