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The Guardian Chapter 8
gracie113
Chapter Eight:

They stayed up for the majority of the night talking about the prophecy. As she had expected, he had many questions for her. Most of his questions, she was not allowed to answer yet. Much to his frustration, she had to repeatedly explain to him that she had to wait for permission from her Master to answer most of his questions.

The fire started to dwindle down to subtle embers as the sun slowly began to rise.

“Traveling in the light of day is just too dangerous,” she said, “it would be best for us to sleep now and then travel at night.”

“My horse is at the tavern still. So are my belongings. I need to go back for them,” he told her.

“As are mine,” she replied, “we will go tonight for them. For now, we must rest.”

“Fine,” he mumbled.

She stood up and stamped on the remaining embers, putting them out completely.

As he lay down to go to sleep, a sharp screech echoed through the woods.

She watched as his body tensed, Don’t worry. Not them.”

He cocked his head sideways, questioning.

She gave no answer, only let out a long, high whistle, then went silent.

After a few minutes, the silence was broken by rustling branches above them.

He watched as she stood gazing up into the tree. Branches moved over head, causing pine needles to rain down on them.

He looked up to see a red tail hawk fluttering from branch to branch. It let out soft, squeaky chirps as it flew.

After a few minutes, the bird swept out of the branches above and came down to rest on the ground at her feet.

Raella plopped down on the ground by the hawk, crossed her legs beneath her, and extended her arm out toward the bird.

Adam watched the hawk hop forward onto her forearm and climb up onto her shoulder.

It clicked noisily at Raella. She shushed it. It clicked even more loudly.

“You are being rude,” she said.

He questioned why she was talking to it.

“This is Nika,” she patted the bird’s head, “He is my traveling companion.”

He watched as she doted on the bird, ruffling his feathers and gently playing with and petting him.

The bird suddenly stopped playing with her, then turned to look directly at him.

Nika cocked his head to one side then let out a high screech.

“Say hello,” Raella directed at him.

“Uhm,” he stammered, “Hello?” His greeting came out as more of a question.

Nika screeched again.

“Nika, this is Adam.”

The bird turned to her and chattered furiously.

“Yes, yes. He knows some. Only what I am allowed to tell,” she said.

Nika continued his noisy speech.

“I know that. You think I do not know that? I do. Stop harassing me and calm yourself.”

The bird finally went silent.

“Tonight we will return to the tavern for our belongings. For now, he and I need sleep. Will you stay watch?”

Nika clicked once then took off back into the tree top.

He let out another cry as he flew away.

“You should rest,” Raella said.

“Probably,” Adam replied.

She slowly propped herself up against the tree’s trunk and attempted to get settled in.

“Sleeping like that cannot be comfortable,” he said.

“I’m fine,” she said slightly coldly.

His mouth hung open slightly. He wasn’t sure why she snapped at him that way. He started to say something to her, but then thought better of it and decided to go to bed instead. He rolled over, and crossed his arms under his head as a pillow.

Neither of them spoke another word before he drifted off to sleep.

Raella, however, stayed awake longer, keeping watch, until her eyelids finally grew too heavy and exhaustion overwhelmed her once again.

*****

Raella woke a few hours later. The sun had set beyond the mountains and night had overtaken the forest. Beneath the wayward pine, she was shrouded in shadows and darkness.

She glanced over to where Adam had been sleeping, only to find an empty space where he should have been. The pine needles were pressed down where he had been laying, but there was no body there.

She choked on her breath as she realized he was gone.

“No.” She gasped, “No, no, no. Please no.”

She scrambled to her feet. In panic, she grabbed her knife from her bag and ran from beneath the shelter of the pine.

Footprints led from the edge of the pine deeper into the darkened forest.

She ran after him, until she lost his tracks in the underbrush.

“I will kill him. When I find him, I will kill him myself,” she muttered.

She bent low to look at the bushes she stood in. Green Kallinberries grew in clusters on the bushes. She noticed all the ripe berries had been picked away. A few small twigs were snapped sideways along the south side of the bushes.

Raella followed the trail of broken twigs through the brush to a small clearing in the woods.

Adam was bent over a small cluster of bushes at the opposite edge of the clearing. She quickly darted through the tall grass to where he stood.

“Are you out of your mind?” She asked, “What were you thinking? They could have found you. Why are you out in the open? They would have killed you,” she hissed.

He turned to face her. Red smudges streaked the corners of his mouth. At first, she thought it was blood, but upon closer inspection, realized it was berry juice.

He extended his hand out to hers in a closed fist.

“Here,” he said.

Raella placed her hand, cupped, beneath his. Adam dropped a handful of ripe, red Kallinberries into her hand.

“Thought you could probably use something to eat.”

“You still should not have left the…”

He interrupted her, “I also caught this,” he bent over and picked up a dead rabbit off of the ground.

“Oh. Well…”

Adam interrupted her again, “I believe the words you are looking for are ‘thank you.’”

For a moment, she stood there utterly speechless, then she softly said, “Thank you. We should go eat this, then go back to the tavern for our belongings.”

“Probably,” he agreed as he grabbed another handful of berries of the bush.

She grabbed his wrist and led him back across the clearing toward their hiding place beneath the pine.

*****

Darkness shrouded the city as they made their way back to The Cyphert. The dimly lit, dingy tavern reeked of damp horse hide and the feint smell of red clay.

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