Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Saturday, October 23, 2010
The forest surrounding the Howling Caves was much darker than the village. Full of shadow and mist, I thought it ominous. Encroaching storm clouds threatened to shut out what little light filtered through the thick canopy. The twisted penuke trees, draped in long, weeping vines and the lonely howls echoing from the caves brought sadness to my heart. It was as if they were telling me nature itself was out of balance here, and injustice had left its mark.
“You feel it too, don’t you?” Galadin whispered.
Unexpected tears clouded my eyes. “Yes. What happened here?”
Galadin sighed. “Pirates. The Goldtooth and others. They take what they want and leave the land barren. The people here have learned to protect themselves, but the wildlife isn’t so lucky. The bear are starving, since the plunderers kill off their prey. The poison on our arrows should dispatch them quickly.”
A little farther in, we found bear tracks. We concealed ourselves and followed the trail until we came upon a mother bear several feet away. Not far behind was her cub. Saggy skin hung over prominent bones. The little one cried pitifully to its mother, who couldn’t have had any milk to give. I raised my bow, took a deep breath, and shot the mother in her neck. The poisoned arrow worked quickly to put the weak mother out of her misery. Galadin did the same with the cub.
The wind picked up, and leaves blew all around us. We dropped concealment and continued through the forest. Light rain began to fall.
Galadin studied the sky. “I think the storm’s headed this way. We best turn back soon.”
We had reached a large rock outcropping, where the wide, dark mouth of a cave yawned before us. Growling echoed from inside. My skin crawled. We quickly concealed ourselves, but the huge bear that lurched out of the shadows either smelled or spotted us, and it charged our way. Galadin fired an arrow into the beast’s chest. The bear stumbled, but pulled itself up and charged again. Galadin dropped his concealment and ran backwards while he nocked another arrow, but he tripped over a root and fell on his backside. His last shot only managed to graze the bear’s shoulder, further enraging the animal.
Terror gripped my heart as the bear hurled itself toward Galadin. In one instant, I had an idea. There was no time for doubt. I nocked an arrow with a glowing hand. Searing fire erupted from my fingers as I aimed and shot. A fiery shaft flew from my bow, hitting the bear as it made a final leap toward Galadin. The bear blew apart, filling the air with singed fur and flesh.
Galadin lowered his arm from his eyes, shook bear parts out of his hair, and stared up at me. A grin spread across his face. He held out his hand, and I helped him up.
“You never fail to amaze me, Caliphany Aranea.”
I picked some bear flesh off his vest. “Call me Cali.”
Friday, October 22, 2010
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
[This is the heroine, Caliphany] It had been little over a month since Galadin and I had met. The Festival of Peace would be over back in Leogard. The month of Inver gave way to the month of Feyth. Autumn’s chill settled over me as I ran down the road leading west out of Faewood. The road rose gradually toward the mountains. Night fell, and I depended on the roadside torches to light my way until the road narrowed at its entrance into the mountains.
In the darkness, I scanned ahead and saw nothing but the faint outline of road. Behind, I saw nothing but the lights of Faewood below and the edge of the light thrown by the last road torches. I dropped concealment, pulled my cloak around me tightly, and continued on my way.
When it became too dark to see the path, I stopped and looked around me. I thought about summoning a flame in my palm to light the way, but I decided it might be too bright and could give away my location. A faint blue light shone under some tall trees. From my botanical studies, I knew it to be the iridescence of Alder mushrooms. I picked one of them, turning the mushroom over to reveal the glowing gills underneath.
“Luminae aldero si,” I chanted, waving my hand over it.
The light intensified just enough for me to see the road ahead, and I smiled. Holding my new light source in front of me, I shivered at the vastness of the mountain forest. Owls hooted somewhere overhead. Something scampered nearby. I trembled. To my right, a footpath veered off the main road. I took a deep breath and ventured down the path, hoping to find a village eventually.
After a long trek, I came to a clearing. No sign of civilization. Instead of going further, I decided to make camp. Never in my life had I slept outdoors. I gathered up some dry wood and placed it near a fallen log. The mushroom light finally faded, but soon the light of blue fire in my palm lit up the clearing. I flicked a small burst of flame into the wood, and before long, I had a warm, crackling fire.
I was quite proud of myself, though beyond the perimeter of the fire’s light, total darkness closed in. Sinking down onto the ground, I rested my back against the log and wrapped my cloak as tightly around me as I could. When my stomach rumbled again, I remembered the evynfruit. I took it from my satchel and bit into it, savoring the tangy, starchy flesh. It didn’t take long for me to devour it. I had just wiped my mouth with the hem of my cloak when I heard a noise behind me.
I froze. It was very subtle, just a small crack of a twig. Then another. Flipping around, I unsheathed Galadin’s sword and crouched behind the log. Whatever was behind me was too close to hide from. I’d have to fight it off. I tried to remember everything Galadin had taught me about sword fighting. My hand shook as I clenched the heavy weapon.
Behind me came a growl, on the other side of the fire. I flipped around again. My heart threatened to leap from my chest. I was surrounded—how would I fight off more than one thing? The growl in front of me grew louder. I held the sword with both hands; my arms shook violently when I saw the reflection of yellow eyes.
I sneaked a peek behind me, behind the log. I saw nothing, but thought there might be more of whatever it was. Turning my attention to the eyes in front of me again, my breath caught when it came charging. A wolf rounded the fire, then leapt straight at me. I held my sword aloft, hoping to impale it. As it landed on me, I toppled over, and it yelped. But, the sword hadn’t even pierced it. I stared at its limp body. An arrow stuck out from the wolf’s side.