When training begins, how far will Beckah be willing to go to stay ahead?
The sunlight broke through the hole in the top of the tent and burned my eyes. I bolted up from my bed and I didn’t recognize anything around me. I swung from side to side as I frantically tried to remember where I was.
As I felt the hot sun on my back the memories began to settle in. The Commander’s talk. The lake.
I rubbed the back of my head and set my feet down on the floor. I leaned over as side began to hurt ever so slightly as a reminder that it was still there. It held me back and I hated it.
I heard a groaning from the other beds in the tent and saw bodies rolling around on the mattresses. I rubbed my eyes and stood up. I wobbled on the balls of my feet before taking a step forward. Something shined in the sun and caught my eye. Across the room, there was a weapons rack filled with swords, bows, axes and small knives. I walked closer to the rack to examine it with a closer eye. The steel from the swords glistened in the dim light.
The weapons looked new and stronger than anything I had ever seen before. I felt the urge to pick one of them up and perhaps try one out on the sleeping men in the tent. In a trance, I reached out to grab one of the swords and my fingers ran along the sharp edge when I heard Huntress behind me.
“I can’t say I’m surprised you’re awake.” She spoke.
I pulled my hands back from the rack and spun around to see her standing by the tent entrance. I turned my head to look her straight in the eye, yet I didn’t respond. I waited for her to ask me something else so I would feel better about speaking, but she only came closer and placed her hand against my shoulder.
“What are you afraid of Beckah?” She asked, watching me,” What did they do to you?”
I continued to stand there in silence and she slid her hand off my shoulder and stepped back. She walked away from me and I turned to look outside of the tent. I could see the sky lighting up outside.
Groans of disapproval filled the tent as the other two were roused, but got up out of bed anyway. I kept my back to them and lowered my head to the ground. I could see the weapons rack just out of the corner of my eye.
Part of me didn’t want to fight, but there was a survival instinct that burned inside of me. It ate away at my morality.
“Beckah, come here.” Huntress commanded and I stepped backwards so she could see my face.
“Breakfast is being served at the bonfire, please take as much as you’d like.”
She stepped away from us and left the tent and I was the first to follow her out. I was on her heels all the way back to the bonfire where a conversation was loud and I could hear laughs bubbling all around.
It was a strange feeling at the bonfire. Everyone seemed calm as they grabbed spoonfuls of cooked meat and fruits. I stepped close to the bonfire and a tall man waved me over to stand in a line and handed me a stone plate.
I felt it’s worn edges in my hands and followed in line with the others. When I came to the top of the line a woman took my plate from my hands and handed it back to me filled with what looked like ham, grapes, and apples. I nodded and she smiled back to me before I wandered out of line.
I stood there by the blazing bonfire and looked for somewhere to go. I saw the two men from the tent and there was an open spot beside them, but when I went forward to sit next to them I caught sight of Troy and rushed over to him.
He smiled when he saw me rush over and scooted over to allow me room on the log next to him. I plopped down next to him and felt a sigh of relief being next to something familiar. Troy turned to me and smiled.
“How did you sleep?” He asked, popping a grape into his mouth.
I shrugged and tore off a piece of ham,” Fine, although the tent seemed oddly empty.”
Troy nodded, leaning in close to whisper to me,” They won’t have many warriors leftmost were killed in the last attack on the Academy. I don’t think there are many of them left now.”
He quickly moved away and continued to eat what was left on his plate. I looked over at Huntress Cara, who had moved into the line herself.
I sat with Troy for almost an hour as we ate and talked. He told me about how he had met yesterday after we split ways. I questioned if I should tell him about how I left camp, almost left him behind. I didn’t. I didn’t know how he would react to that and I didn’t think I needed to worry Troy anymore than he already was.
People began to trickle away from the fire and towards different parts of camp. Huntress Cara told us to get a change of clothes from the tent and meet her by the forest edge in twenty minutes. However, I didn’t want to leave Troy.
He walked with me back to my tent and the two men pushed past us to enter the tent, one of them huffing as they passed. I knew he had to leave as well, but we stood at the entrance of the tent for a moment and watched as other soldiers made their way around the camp.
He finally had to leave, but before he did he promised he would save me a spot by the fire for dinner and left me alone by the tent. I watched him wander away before I hopping into the tent where the two men were still changing.
I did my best to avoid eye contact with any of them. Although I was use to changing clothing in the open, I didn’t know how long these two had been inside the Academy and they not have the same opinion about me being in the room.
On my bed was a change of clothes. I was thankful to get out of my blood soaked clothes and quickly slipped them off. I stood in the open for a moment after taking my old shirt off and felt the scars along my forearm. I could still feel the scar. I quickly slipped on the new shirt. I didn’t want anyone to see the scars.
The new clothes hung loose around my body, but the trousers slipped on just fine. I could feel one of the men watching me, but I did my best to control the impulse to confront them. My hip began to ache as my wound shifted and rubbed against the bandages. The skin around the stitches became raw and I moved stiffly. After I had finished I walked over to the weapons rack and once again stared at the line of blades.
I wanted something I was use to wielding, so only the long swords made sense for me to grab. I took a holster from the rack and slid my arms through two small holes so the swords would sit comfortably on my back and not drag across the floor on my hips. Feeling the rough handles, I slid them into the leather holsters on my back and their weight lifted a dread that had been looming over me. I rolled my shoulders and left the tent.
The bright lights no longer burnt my eyes and I watched my surroundings closely. Once I had my swords again there was a fire inside me of that had been blown out yesterday. I felt the fight again.
I had time before I had to meet Huntress by the edge of the woods, so I took the time to wander around camp. I strolled down the dirt paths like they were streets and the tents were buildings that smelt of bread and metal. If I closed my eyes I almost believed that i was in a city with busy streets and stores all around me. I haven’t been in a city since I was a child and the moment brought back bittersweet memories I had long since forgotten.
I figured it was time to make my way down to the forest, so I turned off the path and made my way out of camp and towards the field of long grass. I kept my eyes in front of me and ignored those around me. I could feel the two boys following behind me as I wandered out of camp and into the grass. I could barely see Huntress over the top of the grass. A gust of air and color blew by me as one of the boys dashed past me to make his way over to Huntress before I could. The other still lagged behind.
Soon I came up to Huntress and the other one fell in behind as well. Each one stood on to my left and right and I noticed a similarity in their faces. While one was clearly taller and older than the other, they both had the same eyes. Blue and melancholy that couldn’t have been replicated except for those born from the same mother.
I have seen that blue before and for a moment I couldn’t breath.
The taller one looked down at me with a strange sadness in his eyes, but his gaze was drawn away by Huntress.
“Our ground forces have been severely diminished by our last attack on the Academy, so I have decided that the three of you will be our brute force alone.”
“But that is impossible!” The shorter brother said,” There is only three of us! We cannot possibly have enough manpower.”
“What I have decided is not to be discussed,” Huntress snapped back,” You’ve all brough with you a weapon, hand it over.”
I unsheath my swords first and handed them over to her. She took them gently before tossing them onto the ground beside her. Next, the shorter brother handed over two large battles axes, the same kind that Thorne uses. I hated him. Lastly, the taller one handed over a boy and his quiver. He seemed the type. A silent weapon for a quiet man.
“Since our ranks are so small, to be successful you mustn’t be extraordinary in one category, but in every category. One cannot possess only brute strength, but instead be adaptable to any situation in front of them.”
I didn’t understand why we had to give up our weapons, but Huntress was persistent and handed each of us a weapon that another one had brough. I received the bow and the shorter one got my swords. I was burning inside.
“You will teach each other how to use the weapon that you have chosen you are best at. To survive you must act as a team or none of you will it back alive.”
She turned away and faced the dark woods and pointed into the thick forest. She lifted her head to see the sky hitting the tops of the trees.
“In the forest, you can find a variety of creatures,” Huntress turned back to us,” Bring me back a creature from the forest. The smaller the animal the more you will need to bring me. I will not accept just one bird. You have until sundown.”
She stared at us for a moment and could tell the question we all had on our minds,” Anything that happens in the forest is none of my concern. I will not intervene under any circumstance.”
She walked away from us and left the three of us standing awkwardly in the field. I slung the bow and quiver onto my shoulder and approached the forest. When neither of them followed I swung around on my heels.
“Well, come on then.”
I entered the forest and the two followed in behind me. Someone ran up beside me and when I turned to look I saw the taller one beside me.
He wasn’t too tall now,I looked straight him, but I was definitely a few inches shorter. As we walked he held out his hand,” I’m Caine.”
I looked at his hand and took it cautiously,” Beckah.”
Caine seemed relieved that I answered him and smiled at me. He pulled back his hand and stared out into the forest. I caught him glancing backwards at his brother who was lagging behind. I felt him kicking rocks at the back of my legs. Caine only sighed.
“I’m sorry for my brother,” He apoligzed,” Olin hasn’t grown up anywhere outside of the Academy.”
I nodded. I didn’t have much to say to him, nor did I want to talk.
We walked further into the forest until we were devoured by darkness. Caine grabbed my shoulder and I saw him point between two trees. There was a family of white tailed deer. As quietly as I could, I took out the bow and reached to grab an arrow.
With Caine close behind and Olin sitting on the ground like a child, I carefully approached the deer. I lifted the metal bow and fit the arrow into place. As I tried to hold the bow in place my hands began to shake from the weight and I felt Caine stand behind me and fix my position He placed his body against mine and shifted my hands up the bow.
“Stand like I am. Put all your weight in your front leg and arms,” He whispered into my ear,” Okay, now pull back. The more your pull the straighter the arrow will go.”
I took a deep breath as I held the bow. I have used a bow before, but I was really never good at it.
With Caine guiding my hands, I let the arrow go and the string snapped back against my ear. It flew the deer and into the ground. The doe looked up at us and quickly ran away, leaving the buck behind.
“Here try again.”
I placed the bow against my check and pulled the string back. I straightened my back and felt my arms burn just as I let the arrow go again. I heard the sharp cry of the deer as it fell onto the ground. I slung the bow over my shoulder and rushed towards the deer. I hadn’t killed it and instead it struggled on the ground with the arrow deep in its side. I took another arrow from the quiver, but Caine took it from my hand.
“Here, arrows are delicate. You can’t just stab the deer with it.”
He took the arrow and the bow from me and in a quick motion fired another arrow at the deer, but it didn’t cry out again. I knelt down by it’s head as Olin came up to us. He held the swords in his hands, but he couldn’t tell how to use them.
“Can I have one of those?” I asked and he handed one to me.
I ran my fingers along the spine of the sword and began to hack off one of the buck’s antlers. I chopped it off and held it in my hand. It spiked off like a tree and was unwieldy.
I heard the sound of hooves on the hard ground and I lifted my head to see the doe from earlier. I got onto my knees and placed the antler onto the ground as silently as I could and raised my bow.
“Beckah that’s too far away from you, you’ll never hit it.” He warned me, but I pulled the string taut anyway.
“Beckah.” He whispered again, but I ignored him.
I breathed down the string and released it. I watched the arrow fly through the air and hit the deer in its chest. It collapsed to the ground without a cry. I slung the bow over my shoulder again and picked up the antler again, placing it in the holster still on my back. I walked over to the doe and it laid dead on the ground. Caine came up from behind me and never said a word and just handed me a knife from his belt. I took it and sliced off the deer’s tail and placed it in my trouser’s pocket.
“Do you think this will be enough?” I asked, looking up at Caine.
He was still gazing upon the deer and nodded,” Yeah, yeah that should be enough.”
“Is something wrong?” I asked.
“Those bows aren’t supposed to shoot from that far, hitting the deer should have been impossible for someone who has never shot before.” He mumbled.
I stood up and walked right next to Caine and smiled,” I’ve never said I haven’t shot before.”
I began to walk back to where Olin had placed himself on the ground when a haunting music filled my ears. I stopped moving and turned to face the source of the music and began to wander into the forest. I began to briskly walk towards the source of the music and I heard Caine rush up behind me. He never spoke or asked where I was going and just followed silently behind me.
As I wandered through the forest I came across a lake and a pair of eyes just above the surface. I recognized this lake and the spot between the trees where the sun could creep through. I was here last night. I rushed to the edge of the lake and I noticed the absence of Caine. Didn’t he want to know where the hauntingly beautiful music was coming from?
“Beckah don’t. Come back.” He whispered, trying not to frighten the creature in the lake.
I really didn’t care what he said for all I wanted to do was reach the eyes in the water. I took a step into the lake and I felt the water swirl around my feet as I felt it wrap around me. The eyes in the lake began to slither closer to me and a head emerged from the water’s surface. It came closer to me and a body emerged from the water with a violin in hand from which he played a sorrowful melody. It was a creature that had emerged from the water and his skin was blue, but I didn’t think this was strange. I was so enthralled with the music that I could barely hear Caine’s cals from behind me, telling me to step out of the water. I ignored him and took another step into the water and another while the water swirled around me.
The creature began to morph into a man and the violin got louder. He was close enough now that I could reach out and touch him and I lifted up my arm and reached forward. My fingers barely missed its face, so I prepared to take a step deeper into the water. I lifted my foot and when I went to take a step forward I could feel the absence of ground before my footing. If I stepped forward I’d fall deep into the lake, but I couldn’t stop myself from moving.
Strong arms wrapped themselves around me and I was pulled away from the man before me. He held me tight to him and pulled me out of the lake. I fought against his grip. I needed to reach the music! It grew louder and louder and I knew that all I had to do was keep myself firmly in the water and soon the music would reach me and I would have release. Caine stumbled backwards and fell onto the bank of the lake. Half of my body was emerged in the cold water and I watched the man walk through the water.
He came closer and closer to me and pain erupted from my head. Caine lowered himself farther into the lake to keep me close to his chest. Water covered my body up to my shoulders and I felt Caine behind me as we both sat in the lake and he pulled something out of his pocket and threw it into the lake. I saw it land on the lake surface and saw a small metal cross sink into the surface of the water.
My breathing began to slow and everything felt heavy and I heard Caine began to yell something out across the water.
“Nyk! Nyk! Naal i vatn. Jomfru Maria kastet styaai i vatn! Du saek, aek fly!” His voice boomed through the darkness and the man in front of us began to twist in agony as his skin turned back to a dark blue and the water around him began to boil, yet the water around me felt cool. The creature flung himself back into the depths of the lake and all of its hold fell away.
I felt lightheaded and nausea instantly and I was lifted up from the water. I wrapped my arms around Caine’s neck to balance my dizzy head. We were both soaking wet and I began to shiver from the cold as Caine picked his pace up to a run.
The heat of the sun took the chill of the air away as he ran outside of the forest and into the sun.
“What happened?” Olin’s voice came from the forest as he came racing out behind us.
“It was a Nøkken,” Caine spoke out of breath as he laid me down on the bed of tall grass.
Olin slapped the back of Cain's head,” Speak english dammit!”
I lifted myself onto my elbows and addressed Caine,” What’s a Nøkken.”
I have heard of things like this before; Huldra, Mares, Blatniks, yet I had never thought that they were actually real.
Caine knelt down beside me and his eyes shined in the sun. It only made me sad again.
“It’s a creature,” He spoke, trying to word everything carefully,” It eats women and children by tricking them into lakes and rivers where it drowns them.” He looked at me with sympathy,” It uses it music to draw you in.”
I turned my head away. I was embarrassed I allowed myself to be pulled in like that, but I turned back to look at Caine again.
“What did you do to it? You boiled it alive.”
“Metal, it boils the water around them. And this,” He handed me a small notebook. I flipped open the pages which were filled with creatures of all kind.
One of the first pages was labeled Nøkken. It was written out neatly and told of it’s every weakness which I learned moments before and some words I had never seen before, yet sounded familiar when I read them aloud. The unfamiliar language was written and underneath was the translation which read as so; Nyk! Nyk! Needle in the water. The Virgin Mary steel in the water! You are sinking, I float.
I handed Caine back his notebook and he placed it back in his damp pocket. The sun seemed brighter than it ever had before and burned my eyes. I couldn’t see Caine or Olin above me anymore, but I could still hear him speak.
“Did she get her kills?” Olin asks.
“Yeah, two deer. Why does that matter?”
“How long until she can go back into the woods Caine?”
“Olin she can’t go back there! I’ll come back with you after I take Beckah back to camp.”
“Caine I don’t care! She has a kill and so do you, so if I don’t do this then I am lagging behind. Let me do this and I’ll be back with her shortly.”
I felt Olin grab my hand and I was pulled to my feet which made my head spin and I felt nauseous. I was dragged through the long grass and behind us raced Caine who was trying to change his brother’s mind.
“Olin leave her be. Just go back on your own, you’ll be fine.”
“Yeah, yeah. You’ll be fine.” I mumbled to myself. I felt strange and my head felt light and I felt my legs collapse beneath me.
I felt the cover of the trees darken the sky and the air cooled instantly around me. I watched the ground as I was dragged through the forest. I watched my feet get pulled through the dirt as Olin huffed and lifted my body off the ground. He suddenly stopped dragging me and I gasped for air. It was feeling like my lungs were collapsing. I could hear the haunting tune still in the back of my head. I was dropped onto the ground and my body began to convulsed on the ground as the lining of my throat burned.
“There.” Olin pointed into the depths of the forest.
I shook my head,” There’s nothing there.” I said through forced breaths.
I then saw it step out of the shadows. A gigantic black bear threw it’s paws against the trunk of a tree and it sharpen its claws on the bark. I body shook as Olin held the swords in front of him. He didn’t know what he was doing and he was about to get himself killed.
“Olin, it’s too big for you. You won’t make it.”
“Axes and swords are the same thing! It can’t be that hard.” He screeched, causing the birds to close by to flutter away.
The shadows loomed everywhere around us and created monsters just out of sight. Olin approached and his feet crunched the grass beneath his feet.
“Olin, don’t.” I whispered as I crawled over to a tree.
“Just tell me where to aim.” He hissed.
Nothing I said would make him turn back now. He was going to die if I didn’t help him, but I could barely stand up on my own. I was livid. Olin was a child and could barely survive on his own.
He approached the bear silently, but he was clumsy. He tripped over his own feet and hit the ground hard. He laid as still as he could on the ground like he if didn’t move the bear couldn’t see him. He was wrong. The bear began to approach and Olin’s face was filled with fear as the bear began to charge. Olin had thrown the swords away from him and was stumbling to reach them again.
I rested myself against the trunk of a tree and everything seemed to slow down and I watched the bear charge. My whole body ached, but I knew that I could reach the swords before Olin could.
I pushed myself to my feet and stumbled over to the swords which were thrown. I snatched the sword and my head felt heavy with rocks and I fell onto the ground. I dropped to my knees, but held tight to the sword in my hands. The bear was coming fast and I fell onto my back and felt the rush of the bear above me. I thrusted the sword into the bear’s soft fur and I cut into the beast. I felt drained of everything in me and I grew dizzy and I let go of the sword.
I’d ripped into the bear and I felt it’s hot blood against my face as it spilled over the grass and crashed into the trees. I could hear it crying on the ground, but I couldn’t move. I laid on the ground, prone. I heard footsteps behind me and Olin came up and knelt down beside me. He didn’t say anything and instead, he only smiled. I growled at him as he knelt before me.
I could see in his eyes that he questions whether or not to leave me here. He found joy in that. Watching me lie there on the ground because of him. I had saved his life, but I got the feeling that Olin wasn’t the kind of person to be embarrassed by another. Everything became blurry and Olin stood up.
“Goodbye Beckah.” He mocked before trailing out of view.
My mind grew heavy and so did my eyes as I struggled to keep them open.
“Dammit, Olin what did you do?” Caine’s voice boomed through the silent forest.
I didn’t hear his reply as my ears were filled with cotton and my head filled with air. I tried to lift myself off the ground, but my body barely moved. Caine lifted my body up and off the ground.
“Olin who’s blood if this?”
Olin didn’t answer and Caine helped me off the ground. I slung my arm over his shoulder and I began to hobble through the woods.
“What is wrong with you?” Caine asked, but once again was met with no response.
Everything began to fade away, but I snapped back to reality when I lost feeling in my left side. I wanted to look at my stitches, but I could barely move.
We reached the edge of the forest and I felt like tumbling into the grass and just falling asleep.
“Come on Beckah, just little farther.”
I saw Huntress Cara bound through the long grass and she screamed at us,” What happened?”
“There’s a Nøkken in the lake. It attack Beckah when she got to close.”
“Ahh, I should have warned you about that.”
“What?” Caine asked exasperated,” You knew about that?”
I began to breath heavily and clawed at Caine’s neck to keep me from falling over. I wanted to keep moving, but Caine wanted to fight Huntress for something. Nothing good could come out of this and Caine must have known that, yet he still insisted on continuing.
“You could have warned us about that before sending us into the woods!” He fought strongly, but Huntress seemed surprisingly calm.
“There are worse things inside those woods than a Nøkken Mr. Holt. You and your brother need to learn how to work with others before I can teach you anything else.”
I waited for Caine to say something in reply, but nothing came out.
“Did you get the kill?” She asked and Caine nodded dumbfounded and then grabbed the deer tail from my pocket and the antler from my holster.
“How about your brother, did he get his?” I nodded weakly,” Where is it?” Huntress asked.
I went to answer her, but my mouth couldn’t comply and instead, my legs gave out and I fell into Caine’s grasp again.
“Take her to the infirmary at the top of the hill and then come back to me.”
Huntress turned away and Caine helped me hobble up the hill. He was forced to carry most of my weight because my legs were straw and gave out every few steps up the hill. When we got to the mouth of the cavern we should outside and one of the Røx stepped outside to great us. She leaned against the side of the cave and puffed smoke from her lips and watched it swirl around in the air and fade away.
When her eye caught us coming up the hill she backed away and held her hands out in front of her face.
“No no no.” The Røx spoke frantically,” She isn’t welcomed here mhmm.”
“But she’s wounded and needs help,” Yet the Røx still shook her head.
“No no, she is a bad patient. She is disrespectful mhmm. We will not help her.”
“But you have to, she was attacked by the Nøkken in the woods.”
“Nøkken!” Interrupted the nurse,” This one killed the Nøkken?”
He took a moment to pause and nod,” Yes, she did,”
She clapped and threw her hands up into the air. I felt like I was about to vomit.
“Yes yes, Oh of course she is welcome here! Come come quickly inside.”
Caine helped me inside and to the back of the cave again. I groaned in annoyance as he laid me down on the bed of straw. He sat down next to me and watched as Røx surrounded me and either whispered about how I killed the Nøkken or what they needed to cure whatever I had. There were five of them and together they rushed around the cave like one coherent being and each brought me back something to help with the pain or numbness.
One came up to me with a glass of a liquid which smelled like sweet apples and she helped me sit up and drink from the glass. Although the drink smelled sweet it tasted sour and was rough on my tongue and I quickly handed it back.
“Please drink it all Miss mhmm.”
I took a deep breath and poured the mix down my throat and shook off the feeling of disgust that laid underneath my skin. I fell back onto the straw just as another nurse came up to me. I closed my eyes and wished for sleep as the nurse started to speak to me.
“Please, eat this too Miss.”
I groaned and tried to sit up, but I immediately crashes down onto the ground. I didn’t respond and just kept my eyes closed. I heard the soft footsteps of a Røx and the sudden force of food being shoved forcefully down my throat. I rocketed up from the straw and coughed up bits of breaded food and blood.
“Oh, I’m so sorry Miss. I thought you were asleep mhmm.”
I wanted to speak and I felt the angry energy rise back up inside of me, but nothing came out. I couldn’t speak. I tried to speak, but it only came out as croaking and sorrowful noises. My throat was sore and rough.
“I’m sorry Miss, but speaking could hurt you so please refrain from using your words.”
I scowled at the nurse before lying back down and she leaned over and tried to hand me the food she tried to suffocate me with.
“Eat,” She ordered, but I turned my head away. I heard her growl at me, but I kept my face turned away.
“Sir she needs to eat this mhmm,” The røx spoke directly to Caine who glanced down at me.
He didn’t say a word and just stared deep into my eyes and seemed to ask if it was alright if she gave me to food. He didn’t make much of a sound and yet I turned back to the nurse and she placed the food in my hands and walked away.
Caine helped me sit up against the stone wall behind me and I took a bite of the food which tasted like buckwheat. I stuffed the rest of it in my mouth and started towards the entrance of the cavern where the sun shone through and I wished to stand up and step towards the light. I tried to stand back up, but i immediately fell back down onto the ground and pain rocketed through my side.
I lifted up the corner of my shirt and saw skin discoloration around the stitches on my stomach, but I tried to ignore the pain.
I turned my head to look at Caine who was also staring off at the distant light and I knew he wanted to go out there as well, but instead, he stayed here with me in the dark. I wanted to ash him why, but my voice still only came out as whispers and croaking.
Three more of the nurses came by, one by one, each with a different remedy that was necessary that I ate, drank, touched, on and on. As different things were brought by I began to fall more and more asleep and the more I became willing to comply. However, there was a feeling in my gut that kept me awake. I wasn’t worried about the røx, yet I was worried that if I fell asleep and woke up I would be alone, left in the darkness of the cave. Part of me wondered if they gave me the remedy to take away my voice so I couldn’t cry out when I woke up alone. I kept myself awake and breathing so I wouldn’t be left alone.
When I closed my eyes the image of Olin came into my mind of him standing over me and smiled. He would have left me there if Caine hadn’t come along and found us. He would have left me.
Caine and I remained in the darkness of the cave and we watched from a distance as the sky outside changed colors from blue to bright orange as the sun began to fall from the sky. The hours passed us by and my voice began to slowly return to me and soon I could say a couple of words at a time before the croaking would return.
As we sat in the cave I looked over at Caine and he was watching the sky outside too. One of the røx passed by and he called over to her. She came up to us with a sad smile. He took a look at me as I stared at the roof and he leaned in close to whisper to the nurse.
“ How much longer will she be here?” Caine asked.
“She’ll stay overnight mhmm. We can’t be sure if the Nøkken’s hold is gone yet. This will be a rough night mhmm. You are welcome to stay here with her sir.”
I heard him sigh and then take to his feet and look outside. I turned my head to look at him, but I was too weak to stand up with him. He glanced down at me and smiled sadly as he did when we first met and began to walk away, but I reached up and grabbed his hand. My arm was sore and burned, but I gripped Caine’s hand and he looked at me out of the corner of his eye. He looked concerned and surprised at the same time.
“Don’t.” I croaked quietly,” Please. Don’t leave me alone.”
Caine knelt down beside me and squeezed my hand,” I’m not leaving, I’m just going to get some water.”
He stood up again and waited for me to let go of his hand. I held to it for a moment before letting my arm drop back to the ground. I watched as he stepped away and towards one of the røx.
I wanted to cry. I hated the fact that I needed people and I hated the fact that it made me feel weak. I was so use to having someone always by my side that now I didn’t know what to do when I was all alone.
I was scared. It clouded my judgement and filled me with doubts I couldn’t escape. I was helpless and alone.
Thoughts flooded into my head and although I tried to push them away, but they came rushing back to me.
It was always cold at night and the silence was deafening. It spiraled all around me like a disease. I sat in the corner and listened to the voices flood through the stone walls. I was foolish for allowing myself to get caught like this. My body felt sore and bruises began to show on my arms and I could feel the blood that matted my scalp and elbows. I hugged myself to try and fight the cold around me, but it still nipped at me with sharp teeth.
Whispers from the guards frilled my ears and they spoke about me and what I had done to be locked inside the cell. I pushed myself farther into the corner and my hand slipped and I cut myself on something sharp. My hand stung and I searched in the dark and found a small stone swindled knife made of stone in the darkened corner. I picked it up and held the sharp edge along my fingers I could barely see it through the thick black of the room, but I knew what I held in my hand. Someone must have spent months on this here, but never got to use it. I gripped it tightly in my hand and looked over at the door in front of me.
Large amounts of movement on the outside of the door as it was being unlocked. My lungs burned with fire and energy pushed through me. I pushed myself to my feet and watched the door open before me. The hallway behind the man in the doorway was dark and barely lighter than the cell. He stood there before me . He called for me in the room. He couldn’t find me in the dark and he wondered further into the cell while he searched for me.
I rushed at him and thrusted the knife into his chest. I felt blood seep over my fingers and the man grabbed me around the neck, but I just thrusted the knife deeper into his chest and his hands dropped from around me and his body smacked against the stone floor.
Blood lined my arms and began to pool around my feet. My shoes were now useless, so I slipped them off and left them inside the cell.
I slipped out of the door and closed it behind me so no one would see what I had done. I locked the door and dashed down the hallway. My heart was pounding and I could barely breathe. I didn't get very far. They were waiting for me around the corner.
Headmistress Coral stood at the end of the corridor with crossed arms. Two more guards stood side by side with her and she just shook her head dismissively at me. I stood frozen at the end of the corridor just at the sight of her. She came very close to me and placed one of her long fingers under my chin and let her ginger hair fall over her eyes. Her azure eyes burned holes through me.
“What did you think you were doing?” She mocked.
She turned away from me, but didn’t stop talking.
“You thought you would do what exactly? Escape?” She laughed at the thought of me before turning back to me, screaming,” This isn’t some fairytale girl! You can’t go skipping through life thinking you can do everything right. Think you can make a difference!.”
I began to back up and tried to slip back around the corner, but someone came running back up from behind me.
“The guard outside her cell is dead.”
Headmistress looked back at me and raised her eyebrows in excitement.
“Well well look who’s my little monster,” She pointed her witch finger at me,” You are deary.”
I tried my best to remain as calm as I could, but I couldn’t help but feel anger rise up inside of me. I am not a monster.
She came up to me once more and looked me dead in the eye. She looked so cold.
“I see Auriel inside of you, that fire, that spirit, but you’re wild. Tame yourself Beckah and maybe someone would actually care.”
“Beckah!” I heard my name be called, but no one’s lips moved,” Beckah!”
“Take her to the pit,” Headmistress commanded and her two guards came close to me.
I lunged forward at Coral with my knife still in hand. She smiled as I lunged for her, but the guards grabbed my arms and pulled me back away from her. She laughed and I screamed at her.
“Beckah!” I heard again, but it wasn’t coming from anywhere.
I struggled against the men, but their grip was too tight and I couldn’t free myself. I screamed through the halls, but they went unheard.
“Beckah! Beckah, wake up!”
I flew up from the straw bed and stared straight into someone’s eyes. I frantically tried to claw myself to my feet, but someone held my shoulder down to keep me on the ground.
“Hey hey, Beckah. It’s me.” Caine’s voice cleared my mind.
I stared straight into Caine’s eyes. He seemed anxious and afraid. We both sat there for a moment, not sure what to say.
After a while, Caine leaned back and cradled his face in his hands and took a deep breath. He lifted his head and grabbed something and handed me a skin of water. I took it gratefully and turned the lid before guzzling down half of the water from the skin.
“Beckah, what were you dreaming about?” Caned asked and I laid the skin down beside me.
I thought about whether or not to tell him about what I was dreaming about. Although he saved my life twice I didn’t know anything about him. All I had was Troy, but I saw him every once in a while.
“The Academy.” I replied.
He didn’t need anything more . He stood up and came to sit down next to me and I felt his shoulders against mine. I laid my head on his shoulder and I could feel his steady breaths going in and out and I syncopated my breaths with him.
“Thank you.” I whispered.
“For staying here with me. I guess, just for being kind.”
He remained silent for a moment as he tried to figure out what to say in reply.
“It’s alright if you don’t want to say anything.”
I felt him rest his head against my own and I closed my eyes. I was filled with comfort and all the anxiety melted away and I felt cleansed. It was like I was sitting next to a beating fire and it’s flames licked against my skin.
I heard footsteps approach, but neither Caine or I moved and instead I just listened to their conversation.
“How is she?” Huntress asked.
“She is doing well,” A røx replied,” We would appreciate it if you would allow us to keep her here for the rest of the night to make sure she is completely well mhmm.”
“Of course, take all the time you need. I just wish that you tell me when she is ready to resume training.”
“Yes yes mhmm, of course, Miss.”
There was another softer whisper from Huntress,” What is he doing here?” She asked.
“He insisted on staying the night here with her MIss. I can ask him to leave if you’d like.”
“Oh no, not at all. When he wakes up however, can you give him this.” There was another pause as Huntress handed a paper to the røx,” It’s very important he gets this soon.”
“Yes miss, mhmm of course.”
I heard Huntress walk away and everything grew silent. I felt Caine move around me.
“You remind me of someone Beckah, but I can’t tell who it is.” He whispered.
“I got the same feeling too.”
I moved closer to Caine and he wrapped his arm around my shoulder and pulled me closer to him. I fell asleep listening to him breath.