Previous Entry Share Next Entry
The Guardian Chapter 7
gracie113
Chapter Seven: Bria

The ride to Bria was exhausting. After spending the entire day hunting for him, riding through the night was grueling and draining to say the least. A few times, she felt herself falling asleep in the saddle.

She entered the North West corner of Bria just as the sun was rising over the city. Although Bria was much larger than the small farming and fishing town of Elyia, it was quite a bit smaller than Sarook.

“If he is here,” she thought to herself, “I should have no problem finding him.”

*****

After an hour of searching, she came across the small tavern Jamal had told her of, “The Cyphert Tavern.”

The moment she stepped inside of the tavern, the barmaid gave her a dirty look. She was a short, heavy woman with chubby red cheeks and scraggly strawberry gold hair. Her bushy eyebrows furrowed and her nose crinkled.

“Yes?” the woman questioned.

“Ma’am,” she nodded, “I am looking for someone who may be staying here.”

“You do not know whether or not your friend stays here?” the woman asked coldly.

“No ma’am. I am sorry, I do not know if he is here. I just received word from someone that they had seen him traveling this way.”

“Well, I can leave word that you were here, but we have a strict policy against breaking the confidences of our customers,” she said irritated, “If your friend is here, you can give me your message and I will tell him.”

“No, that will not be necessary. I am sure I can find him later.”

“Fine,” the woman snarled as she went back to cleaning the bar.

*****

She stood, waiting outside of the tavern, hoping to see him. Eventually, she walked over to a small furniture shop across the way. She talked with the owner for a while. When he went inside to tend to a customer she sat on one of the hand crafted benches outside the shop.

After a few hours, she was about ready to give up. Then, out of the corner of her eye, she saw a shadow at the edge of the building.

It was him. She just knew. Even though she had not seen his face, she knew. She knew how he walked, how he moved, how he talked. She knew everything about this man.

Yet, he knew nothing about himself. He knew nothing of his own importance. He had no idea how his own life fit into the grand design.

She slowly rose from her seat, trying not to be overly obvious.

As if on cue, the hooded figure slid from around the corner of the building out onto the street. He weaved between the carts and people on the street.

She kept her eyes locked on him as she followed.

He paused at a flower cart. His back was to her. It seemed to be an attempt to make her believe he was unaware of her presence.

She stopped and looked in a shop window. She tried to be inconspicuous and not seem out of place. She watched his reflection in the glass as he slowly walked around to the other side of the cart. She could still see him through the flowers.

He picked up a small bouquet of red Cormarinths. He examined them closely. She watched as his eyes closed and he sniffed the flowers deeply. As he set the flowers back down, he said something to the woman standing beside the cart then continued down the street toward the open market.

“No!” her mind screamed. If he made it to the market, he would be gone.

She took off in a full run. She weaved in and out of the people on the street. She pushed people out of the way, proclaiming apologies as she went.

She watched as he looked back over his shoulder. His eyes locked on her. The panic in his eyes was an all too familiar look. He was about to run, she knew it.

A large man with a basket of vegetables stepped right in front of her. She gave him a death glare as she attempted to dodge him. Unfortunately, the man’s son was following right on his heels. She tripped over the boy and fell forward.

Her hands hit the cobblestone first. It stung so intensely that it brought tears to her eyes. Her knees cracked against the street. She let out a yelp of pain.

She looked up in panic. The boy she had tripped over attempted to help her up. She pushed his hand away from her. He backed up slowly.

Her eyes scanned back and forth across the road between where she was and the edge of the market. He must have already reached the market’s edge. Fear rose up in her throat. She could barely breathe.

“No,” she groaned in agony, “No. No, no, please no.”

He was gone.

“Gaah!” she snarled and slammed her fist down on the ground. Her hand stung again. She pushed herself up to her feet, muttering and grumbling under her breath.

A few people were staring at her. She glowered fiercely back at them then moved out of the street. Making a scene and spectacle of herself would get her nowhere.

“His horse and all belongings are at the tavern,” she said aloud. “He will not leave her. He has to go back,” she paused, “I hope.”

She turned and headed back toward the Cyphert.

*****

The sun had already begun to set by the time she saw him again. She was sitting at a table in the corner of the tavern, looking out the window at the people in the street. Outside, the sky was covered in dark grey clouds and wind was howling ferociously.

He was standing in the doorway of the furniture shop that she had been at just a few hours before. He was had his hood pulled up over his head. In the shadows beneath the hood she could see deep blue eyes looking out across the street.

Panic swept over her. Last time, she slipped up. When he noticed her following him, he ran. The time before that, he saw one of them, and he ran. She knew that if he saw her, or any of them again, he would try to run.

She slid out of her seat and tossed a coin onto the table to pay for her drinks. She moved through the crowd of people making their way to the door. As they all poured out onto the street, she stayed behind a group of women who were talking and laughing. She payed no attention to their conversation, but kept her eyes locked on him as she moved with the group.

Without making too much of a disturbance, she maneuvered herself behind a produce cart at the edge of the street. As she hid behind the cart, trying to look out at him without being seen, the cart’s owner began packing up his belongings. When he saw her hiding behind his cart, he looked at her strangely.

She ignored his bizarre, questioning looks and she scanned the street, looking to see if any of them were watching. She did not see any of them, but that does not mean that they were not there, hiding and lurking in the shadows. She was sure she could hear their faint howls every time the loud wind blew.

He turned to talk to one of the merchants on the street. As he did, she snuck between the vendors until she was less than fifty feet from him. He stopped talking to the vendor and looked back out across the market. His eyes fixed on her.

She muttered one of the dark words under her breath.

He turned away from her and took off toward the market place.

Immediately she reacted, running after him.

She heard their howling in the wind yet again. She looked over her shoulder to see them running after her. She took off, running faster than before. The noises and images of the marketplace blurred into obscurity as she ran. He became the only thing that she could focus on.

She saw him turn onto a side road and knew that the only way she could catch him, without giving herself away would be to outmaneuver him.

She had spent enough time following him to know what his next move would be. He would try to get out of the city as rapidly as possible. The fastest way out of Bria would be south toward the forest.

She ducked into a back alley headed for edge of town. The alleyway stayed parallel to the main road. She turned into another alley until she came to the main road that ran through the center of Bria. As she neared the road she gradually came to a halt, then peered out around the corner of the building.

He was weaving in and out of the people that were walking along side the street. As he came closer she slowed her breathing and moved only that which was necessary, in order to make as little noise as possible.

When he passed the building she was hiding behind, she grabbed him by the arm and pulled him into the alley.

He pushed against her, trying to escape.

She pushed back, pinning his neck against the wall with her forearm and struggling to pin his arms with her free hand.

He fought violently, thrashing and kicking.

She had no choice. She kneed him in the stomach, hard, knocking the wind out of him.

He gasped for air as he fell to the ground. She flung herself down on top of him, straddling him. She pinned his arms down with her legs, pressing her knees into the palm of his hands. Her right hand clamped down over his mouth while her left hand tried to steady herself.

He kicked his legs wildly, trying to free himself from her.

She picked her knee up off of his right hand and kneed him in the chest again, knocking the air out of him once more.

He grunted as she pressed her hand down on his mouth again.

“Listen to me. If you do not stop struggling you are going to hurt yourself. I know that you know that I have been following you. But I also know that you have seen them following you, too. I was sent here to keep them from doing their job. They were sent here to kill you. So, unless you want to die a really painful and horrible death, you need to shut your mouth, and do exactly what I tell you,” she commanded.

He stopped struggling for a moment.

“I am going to let you up, but if you try to run I will tackle you and have to hit you again. So, do not even bother trying. Do you understand?”

He managed to nod very slightly under the pressure of her hand.

Slowly, she got up off of him and rose to her feet. He breathed heavily, trying to catch his breath, and then stood up beside her.

“Stay quiet and follow me and when we are safe we will talk about this,” she commanded. She turned and walked back down the alleyway.

He was not exactly sure why, but for some reason, he felt as if he could trust her. Although she had attacked him, something about her told him that her intention was never to hurt him, but to help him. He could not help but follow her.

She turned back to him and grabbed his wrist. She pulled him behind her as she stepped out onto the street.

“Who are you? Why are you here?” he asked.

“There is not time for me to explain. You will have to trust me and follow me. I will explain, but not now,” she pulled him into a shop.

He stood watching as she looked out the shop window. He knew she was looking for someone, but he was not sure who.

“But I,” he started to say.

“Stop talking. Listen to me,” she commanded, “Right now, your life depends on you keeping your mouth closed. So I want you to stop talking and do as you are told. Do you understand?”

He nodded in agreement.

“We are going to get out of this city. We will go south, to the woods, and then double back around the outside of the city. We will get our horses and belongings, and then we will figure out where to go from there. Understood?”

He started to say something, but she cut him off, “Good. Now follow me.”

She grabbed his wrist again and pulled him behind her as she walked out of the store.

She walked close to the edge of the stores, staying in the shadows. He remained as near to her as he could.

All of a sudden, she dead stopped. He was moving too quickly and ran into her.

“Don’t move,” she ordered.

He stood silently, watching her, waiting for her next command.

“Slowly look over your left shoulder. Tell me, do you see the figure by the edge of the dress shop?”

He turned gradually and saw a hooded figure standing there, “Yes.”

“What are they doing?”

“Nothing. Why?” he questioned.

“They are not doing nothing. They never do nothing. Look again, tell me what you see. Give me details.”

“They are watching us. I can see their eyes in the reflection of the window.”

“What else?”

“They keep tilting their head toward us. Are they . . . are they listening to us?”

“Yes. They have impeccable hearing. It knows that we know it is there.”

“So, what are they waiting for?”

“They are waiting for their master to give them permission.”

“Their master?”

“They would not dare to attack without the permission of their dark lord. Their master is a serpent, vile and evil, inhuman and soulless. But even he is not stupid enough to risk exposure in a crowded street such as this. He knows that his work is best done in secret. That it is people’s ignorance of him that makes him most powerful. However, he will not concede to the fact that no matter what he does, Yeill will prevail.”

He watched it shiver at the sound of that name, “Yeill?”

“My Master.”

“And your master, he wants to keep them from hurting me?”

“Yes. You are invaluable to him.”

“Why?”

As he asked, a loud screeching noise came from out of the skies above. It was a noise he had heard many times before. A noise he could not identify and did not trust.

“That is something I can not explain. Not now. You must trust me,” she leaned in closely to him and whispered, “we must go. Now. We must leave.”

She grabbed his hand and pulled him as she bolted down the street. He dragged behind her like a ragdoll.

Another screech crackled across the sky.

“What are they?” he said following on her heels.

“I will explain, I promise. But now we must run.”

A few blocks up, a shadowed figure stepped out from behind the corner of a building. It stood, cloaked in darkness. It waited for them in the middle of the crowded street.

Her eyes met with it and she came to a halt.

He crashed into her.

“Sorry,” he mumbled.

“Come,” she pulled him down another street, heading toward the southern edge of town.

A shriek echoed off of the buildings around them.

She dragged him forward, away from the center of town.

“Faster,” she ordered as she dug her fingers into his wrists.

He ran at full speed, yet he was barely able to keep up with her.

Fear rose up inside him. He felt as if he may be sick. His stomach turned and cramped painfully inside of him. Bile filled his throat. He felt dry heaves begin to consume his chest. He gasped for air as he pushed his body forward.

As they turned onto another street, he saw another one of “them.” A mysterious hooded figure waiting at the edge of the road ahead of them.

She turned quickly, and spun him on his heels. She ran the opposite direction, still pulling him behind.

Each street they would turn down would lead them closer and closer to the south side of the city, and still each street they found themselves face to face with another adversary. The others were closing in around them, boxing them in little by little.

He could hear her mumbling under her breath. She got slightly louder each time they were confronted by one of the others. He realized that even though he could hear her, he could not understand a word she was saying. Her speech was some different and unknown language.

He was about to ask her what it was, when her grip tightened on his wrist, pulling him closer to her as they ran. He briefly thought about how she was oddly strong for such a slender and lithe woman; however, his thoughts were interrupted as she shoved him down a side alley. He nearly tripped over his own feet as they stumbled into the alley.

“Quiet,” she mouthed, as she slowly led him down the alley.

He nodded, following her in silence.

Her grip on his wrist let up as they neared the opposite end of the alley. She released and turned to face him.

“I think we lost them, for now,” she whispered, “but we will not have much time. We must leave the city.”

He shook his head in agreement.

“Follow me,” she said softly.

She ever so slowly walked around the around the corner of the building back onto a main street. He followed directly behind her. She led him into a crowd of people who were moving down the street. Two figures running down the side streets was much more obvious than hiding in the cover of a crowd.

Once they reached a crossroad with the main road through the city, they escaped into a larger crowd headed for the city’s edge.

*****

When they reached the woods, south of the city, the last rays of sunlight had left the sky. Darkness consumed every inch of the forest around them. He stumbled over rocks and brush as he trailed behind her.

“So, are you going to tell me what is going on?” It was more a demand than a question.

“Wait.”

“Wait? What do you mean wait?” he demanded.

“You need to wait until we are safe. It is not safe here. It is far too open. We will get somewhere safe, and then I will tell you everything you desire to know. You have trusted me this far, and I have given you no reason not to trust me further. Just wait.”

“You have not given me much of a reason to trust you either,” he muttered under his breath.

“I heard that,” she snarled.

*****

She led him into the darkest, thickest part of the forest.

“There,” she said pointing in the darkness.

“What? Where?” he asked, “I do not see anything.”

“Exactly,” she replied, “You are not supposed to see anything. And though, their eyes are much more advanced than yours, they will see exactly that as well. Nothing.”

She directed him in the direction which she had pointed. When they came closer, she headed directly toward a giant pine. He watched as she brushed the branches aside and disappeared beneath them.

He slowly followed after her. His hands pressed against the pine needles, pushing them out of the way. Yet some of them still struck him in the face as he went after her. Then, he passed the barrier of pine and was in a hollow beneath the tree branches.

“I once heard it called a wayward pine. They are a refuge for travelers seeking to hide from the elements or other,” she paused, “dangers.”

He nodded in understanding.

“Help me build a small fire, and I will tell you everything you want to know,” she declared.

*****

After the fire was built, she encouraged him to sit down and rest as she explained everything to him.

“A long time ago, lived a prophet. Her name was Lyria. She was one of the most insightful, wise, powerful seers who have ever lived. Only days before she died, she gave a prophecy. The prophecy tells of a generation that will rise up and reunite and live in peace and harmony. My Master appointed me to trace the lineage of hundreds of potential candidates. I weeded them out one after the other. One by one, I slowly narrowed it down to a few lines of heritage. It all eventually came down to a matter of timing. After Lyria’s death, her son took her place as prophet and oracle. He gave a very specific time in which the prophecy would come to pass. He was very clear on the matter. And it must come to take place within the next ten years. The problem is, the only other candidates are mere infants. They will not come of age to father a child for at least that many years. Therefore, it had to be you. You, Adam son of Delaella, daughter of Tetro, son of Hollen, son of Pietro, son of Helez, the great priest of the last generation of the Isrols, are the man of which this prophecy has spoken. And because of this prophecy, my Master has charged me with protecting you and keeping you from the others.”

“Who are they?”

“All you need to know is that they are the enemy. And that, in time, all will be revealed to you.”

His eyes furrowed and he glared at her across the fire.

“I will tell you everything I can. But you must understand, there are some things I am not allowed to tell you. There are things my Master must reveal to you himself. So, I will tell you what I can and what I must, but you need to trust me in this.”

He cut her off before she could continue another sentence, “Why? Why should I trust you? What proof have you that you are who you say you are? What reason do I have to believe you are not the enemy?”

She lunged over the fire, tackling him and pinning him to the ground. From seemingly nowhere, a knife appeared in her hand. She made sure he saw the blade reflecting the light of the fire, “If I was the enemy, if I had intended to harm you or kill you, I would not have hesitated to do so when we were back in that alley way in Bria.”

She dropped the knife on the ground next to him, “Either you trust me, or you do not. There is no in-between on the matter.”

She climbed off of him and knelt down, her forehead almost touching the ground. Head still bowed, she picked the knife up in both hands and offered it toward him, “If I have not earned your trust, you may as well kill me and be done with it, because I have failed you.”

His icy blue eyes went wide, looking at the blade in her hand. He reached out and took it from her. The dagger was exquisite, like nothing he had ever seen before. The hilt was made of a dark black stone, some cross between marble and onyx. It was the length of his fingertip to his wrist and the width of his palm. A foreign symbol was carved into it on both sides. Beneath the symbol was inlaid a ruby. The crossguards came out half a hands length on either side. They tapered to points coming toward the wielder and had two flat yoku prongs running alongside the blade as would be seen on an old sai. The blade itself was not metal as it appeared from a distance. It was the same sort of black stone as the hilt, yet it was lighter in color and more metallic in finish. The blade was the length of his forearm. It was wider in the middle than it was on either end, leaving an interesting tapering effect coming away from the person brandishing the dagger.

After examining the magnificent blade, he placed it next to her and declared, “You are right. You have done nothing not to deserve my trust. There is one thing though.”

“Yes?”

“I do not even know your name.”

“Raella. My name is Raella.”

?

Log in