Kylie and Peron embark on a quest to avenge their master's murder.
|"I wish we didn't have to take the long road, Kylie," Peron complained as the two teenagers trudged up the rocky, dusty path.
Kylie stared in disdain at her dark headed companion. "Why must you always complain about any task Mannen gives us?" she asked breathlessly, pausing for a moment to study the terrain. It was so beautiful up here. The air was so pure, the sky blue with a few fluffy white clouds. All around, as far as you could see, there were beautiful trees, just budding with the flowers of Spring. Kylie breathed deeply of the fragrant air and then set off again.
"Kylie, wait up, don't go so fast," Peron panted as he ran along behind her. As he caught up with her, he tugged lightly on her long golden braid. "I know we have to go to Mannen's cottage, but why must we take this rocky path? There is a road right through the mountain. We could have ridden!"
"Oh, Peron, why don't you just-" Kylie stopped and held up her hand for silence. She crouched down beside the path, her dusty brown clothes helping her blend with the scenery. Peron knelt behind her, trying to quiet his breathing. He listened carefully but all he could hear was his heart thudding in his ears. Kylie's sharp green eyes scanned the area, but to no avail.
"Do you see anything?" she whispered. Peron shook his head, taking off his silver rimmed glasses and wiping them with the hem of his shirt.
The two friends stood and brushed themselves off, starting cautiously down the path. Kylie had her boot knife drawn, and Peron clung to her shirttail, hoping she could defend them against anything they might encounter.
* * * * *
"Did you see them?" a scratchy voice asked from the shadows of a small hut on the other side of the mountain.
A tall warrior, dressed in brown and green with a dull brown cloak over his shoulders, stepped forward. "I did," he replied in a low monotone.
"One was a female, tall, gold of hair, stepped with a surety that her companion did not possess. The other was male, short, a bit rotund, dark hair and silver glasses. Very timid that one," the warrior answered.
A rusty wheeze signaled a laugh in the shadows. "Young?" the voice asked.
The warrior nodded. "I believe the female is a bit older than her friend, however."
"Excellent," came the scratchy reply.
* * * * *
"Mannen? Mannen?" Kylie called through the half-opened door of a small cottage at the base of the mountain. "There is no answer, and I do not hear a sound," she said softly to Peron.
"Should we go in and see if something has happened?" the boy asked, pushing his glasses up his snub nose.
Kylie shrugged and peeked in the door. The room looked ready for visitors; the tea laid out on the table, a log ready to be lit in the fireplace. "Mannen?" she asked again, a slight tremble in her voice. She stepped into the room, pushing the door open with a soft creak. "Peron!" she cried.
Peron entered the cottage to see the bloodied and mangled body of their master. He shuddered, the tears falling down his cheeks. "What happened?" he asked in a hoarse whisper.
"I..I don't know," Kylie answered, gripping Peron's hand and staring at the old wizard, his white hair stained red and his blue eyes staring blankly at the ceiling. She swept her gaze around the room again and noticed the wizard's blue cone hat crumpled in the corner. She stepped towards it and lifted it in her trembling hands. "I will avenge you, Master Mannen," she whispered to the old man, lifting the hat to her lips tenderly, the hot tears running unchecked down her cheeks. She turned on her heel and ran out of the cottage, Peron close behind her.
* * * * *
The waterfall sparkled and glittered like fine cut diamonds in the June sunlight. There was a gentle breeze, which cut the heat from the glaring sun. The townspeople gathered in the town square to hear the latest news from the far land of Lorr.
Mayor Ukin stepped forward. "My people," he said in a loud, clear voice, "Today is a day of celebration. Our armies have sent word that the Lorrians have been defeated at the battle of Locreya!" He paused for the sudden eruption of cheers from the crowd. After a moment, he held up his hand for silence. "We have lost many in this war, but we have won many battles. Now is the time to pray for guidance and strength as we enter the last battles of this war. Master Gareth, would you lead us in a prayer to our great Lord?"
Master Gareth stepped forward and nodded. "Let us pray," he said in his soft baritone. There was a rustling as the townspeople knelt to the ground. "Oh, most high God, be with our people in this, our hour of greatest need. You know the dangers that our armies have faced, and you know the peril that they will face in the near future. Give them strength, courage, and wisdom to do what is right. We thank Thee, oh Lord, for Thy care and love. Be with us and comfort us in this troubled time. Amen."
"Amen," the crowd answered as they rose to their feet.
"Thank you, Master Gareth," Mayor Ukin said as he shook the priest's hand. "Now, fellow Rothians let us go about our usual activities. I will call you together once more when I receive the next post." With a wave of his hands, the Mayor dismissed the people.
"Well done, Mr. Mayor," Ithmael said as he followed close on the mayor's heels. "Not even King Jules could have made a finer speech."
Mayor Ukin rolled his eyes at the young scribe's prattling flattery. Little did the town know, but the armies were not doing as well as he had hoped…
* * * * *
"I had no idea it was going to be this tough," Orin grunted as he met his opponent's sword with a swift block. All around him, the Battle of Candora was raging, his fellow soldiers dying where they fell, the enemy seeming to grow in strength and number. "Will this never end?" he shouted as he jabbed with his sword.
"Just shut up an' fight, will ya?" Nathe shouted to him, running a Candoran through with his blade. He pulled the sword free and ran to help his friend. "Orin," he grunted as he fought by the younger man's side, "you are too young an' inexperienced to be fightin' here. Go home…" Together they finished off the large soldier and turned to see what the others were doing.
"I can't leave now. I'll be branded as a coward forever," Orin answered as the two ran to join their troupe on the other side of the blood soaked meadow. "Besides, I'm fine. I can make it through."
"An' what am I supposed to tell your mother if ya die?" Nathe asked, removing his helmet and running his fingers through his thick red hair. He clapped the helmet back on his head. "I don't want to be facin' your mother when she's in a rage."
The two friends laughed and then rejoined the battle, fighting side by side.
"Did you see that?" Kylie asked Peron from where he was nursing her most recent wound.
"See what?" the boy answered, his eyebrows knitted as he tried to think of the spell to heal her.
"That soldier," Kylie sighed softly. "He looked awfully young to be fighting." She winced as Peron dabbed a bit of strong medicine on her side, drying up the blood that was oozing from it. "Must you use that foul smelling ointment? No one will be able to stand being within two lengths of me."
"Quit your complaining and just be glad I don't go tell Rachael where you are," Peron said with a knowing look. "And don't even talk about being too young. You're only seventeen… and a girl besides."
"Shut up and finish with me so I can get back out there," she snapped.
Orin turned and met the strong blow of a sword aimed for his skull. He grunted at the force of his enemy's sword. As he opened his eyes, he stared straight into the most beautiful face he had ever seen. "Why… you're a girl!" he exclaimed in astonishment.
"Doesn't mean I can't gut you alive," Kylie answered through gritted teeth. She raised her sword over her head and brought it down, but Orin was fast. He stepped out of the way, sending Kylie tumbling to the ground, her purple plumed helmet rolling on the grass and her golden hair spilling around her face. She looked up in horror as her secret was revealed to everyone.
* * * * *
"Young lady, how could you deceive us like this?" Captain Harris asked, his arms across his chest, a scowl on his face.
Kylie looked up at him defiantly. "I'm the best soldier you've got, and you know it… Captain, sir," she added as an afterthought.
"I do not doubt that you could help us win this war, but you're a woman and I cannot allow you to participate in this any longer." The captain paced across the room, unsure of proper military proceedings in cases such as this. Finally he stopped and stood before her, medals gleaming on his crisp navy blue uniform. "I order you back to your family where you will tell them what you have done and where you have been these past 3 months. After that, you must go before the Board, and the Women's Council, and tell them what you have done. I am sure they will think of a suitable punishment," he said, thinking on his own town's Women's Council and the punishments that they had doled out to him in his youth.
"Yes, sir," Kylie said, hanging her head humbly. As the captain left the guardhouse, Kylie stuck her tongue out at his retreating back and then stood, beckoning for Peron. "Come on, let's go home."
* * * * *
Orin sat in the nurse's bunker, his head bandaged and his arm in a sling. He was too sore to rest and the nurses were out of medicine, so he just sat and let his thoughts wander. He thought of green eyes and golden hair, the face of an angel and the lean body of a soldier. With a deep sigh, he stood and crossed to the window, staring towards the distant hill where the fighting was heavy. He knew the girl wouldn't be there; her captain had dragged her off to his quarters. But he still worried about Nathe, and Raphael, and his other friends fighting for their lives on that hill. He noticed some movement heading towards the bunker to his right and he peered into the darkness, trying to see the color of the uniform or the flag the soldier might be wearing.
"Nurse?" he called softly. A young woman in white stepped forward. "There is someone out there. I am going to see who it is."
"No, sir," the nurse replied gently, taking his good arm and guiding him back to his bed. "You should be in bed getting your rest."
"But you don't understand," Orin insisted, sitting on the bed to humor her. "It could be an enemy soldier out there… I need to check it out so I can protect you and the others."
"The officers took your sword and shield. How could you defend us?" the nurse asked in a slightly amused voice.
Just then, the door to the bunker flew open and a soldier was silhouetted in the moonlight. He stepped fully into the room and the lamplight caught his face.
"Nathe!" Orin said in relief. "Why are you here? You aren't hurt are you?"
Nathe shook his head, his fiery hair curling over his forehead. "No, I just wanted to tell ya, the battle is over. We lost, an' our men are retreatin'. Best get packed up and head out too."
* * * * *
"This is horrid," Kylie complained as she sweated in the tobacco fields to the east of town. "I could be fighting, helping our men to win this war… or better yet, finding Master Mannen's assassin, and instead, what am I doing? Picking bloody tobacco!"
Peron laughed from his shady spot at the edge of the field. "I told you not to go running off to war," he said in a singsong voice as he sipped a bit of the lemonade Rachael had made for her granddaughter. "Wow, your Grandmamma makes great lemonade."
"Yeah, yeah," Kylie grumbled. "You know, you could come help me and then it would get done faster and we could go on some real adventures."
Peron shook his head. "I didn't go off illegally to war, you did."
Kylie threw her head back and screamed, the two ribbonned braids slapping her shoulders. "Drat this bloody child's dress! And damn these bloody braids!!" she shouted, pulling the short dress down towards her knees with no success.
Peron fell backwards laughing under the scowling stare of his best friend.
* * * * *
The first day of Autumn began with a shout. "The war is over! Lorr is victorious!" rang the cry amongst the streets of Candora.
Kylie sat up in bed and ran to the window, staring out into the streets, bathed in an orange glow as the sun began to rise over the horizon. "Is it true?" she called to the people rushing by.
"Yes," they would answer back. "Lorr has won the war! Long live King Berg!" The answer was the same every time.
* * * * *
"Kylie, where are you going?" Peron asked as he followed his friend towards the southern hills of Lorr.
"I told you, I promised to avenge Master Mannen, and that's exactly what I intend to do," she answered with a slight toss of her head. "And I told you, you can't come with me. So go home."
"Why can't I go with you? I learned more magic from Master Mannen than you did. Don't think that sword fighting will get you an easy victory alone, because it won't," Peron answered, showing the stubbornness of his fifteen years. "Now, it's getting late and the sun is sinking. I think we should rest for the night."
"We? I never said you were going!" Kylie exclaimed, turning to face him. "I learned a bit of magic from our master as well, you know."
Peron sat on a moss-covered stone and stared up at her. "So, you're expecting to be able to think of spells while you are trying to ward off blows from a sword? Get real, Kylie," he scoffed.
She sighed and sank down into the soft grass at his feet. "It's just… well, it's dangerous, Peron. I don't want you to get hurt. You're like the little brother I always wanted and never had…" Her voice trailed off as she stared at the ground, her cheeks pink and burning.
"Oh, Kylie, I don't want you to get hurt either. That's why I want to go along. At the very least I can heal you if you get hurt," he insisted, scuffing at the grass with the toe of his boot.
Kylie groaned. "Alright, fine, you can go. But, " she added as he opened his mouth to respond, "you have to stay out of my way and fend for yourself. I am not your mother."
"I know, I know. Thanks, Kylie," he said with a grin, the moon reflecting off his glasses.
"Let's make camp over there," Kylie suggested, pointing towards a small copse of trees to their immediate left. "It will be safer there."
They made their way to the trees and set up the small tent Kylie had in her backpack.
* * * * *
"They are headed this way, sir," the tall warrior informed his master.
"Are we ready for them?" asked the scratchy voice from the shadows.
The warrior nodded and returned to his lookout post.
* * * * *
"I would think we'd find something by now, wouldn't you?" Kylie asked as she cut through the underbrush with her boot knife.
Peron nodded, wiping the sweat from his brow and hoisting his backpack higher on his shoulders. "It feels as though we were fathoms from any civilization at all," he said breathlessly.
Kylie nodded in agreement and continued on, Peron close on her heels.
"Look at that," Kylie said softly at the two emerged from the weeds and brush.
"Yay! Finally, a house!" Peron exclaimed, running towards it. Kylie reached out to stop him but she was too late.
"Peron! No!" she cried, starting after him.
* * * * *
Mayor Ukin stood at the outskirts of the town of Prynce, his eyes scanning the horizon for any sign of the approaching soldiers. He saw a small cloud of dust appear as one of his aides rushed forward.
"Here they come, sir," the red-coated aide announced importantly.
The Mayor nodded. "Yes, Marin, I see them," he said impatiently, dismissing her with a wave of his hand. He turned to the Master of Ceremonies. "Get everything in readiness. They are approaching the city."
The band and the parade got in line, ready to celebrate the return of the men they had all missed so much. The M.C. nodded to the circus performers to hold themselves in check, ready to perform at a moments notice. He smiled at the Mayor. "All is ready, sir."
"Good." Ukin turned back to gaze at the approaching army. The numbers were fewer than he had anticipated. The reports he had received must have been wrong! He grabbed a looking glass from the nearest lookout and scanned the group. They were dirty and tired but they marched with their heads held high, their backs straight, and their weapons hoisted proudly. Ukin was proud of his men; even in defeat, they were soldiers. He lowered the glass and smiled.
"Here they come," he announced. "Strike up the band!"
The group of musicians began the Rothian anthem, playing loud and strong as the soldiers marched through the city gates. Orin's eyes took in the scene, his fellow townspeople cheering them on as they came home in defeat. He threw his shoulders back, proud to be a citizen of such a country. As they marched through the streets to the beat of the cheerful music, he noticed people disbursed through the crowd with tears streaming down their creased and sunburned faces, families of the ones who would never come home. His heart went out to them, and he patted his pocket where a letter to Raphael's parents was folded up, waiting to be delivered.
A few hours later, Orin and Nathe walked the streets of the town, listening to the children playing and the salesmen hawking their wares.
"Ah, home," Nathe grinned. "There's nothin' like it, is there lad?"
"Home," Orin repeated softly, removing the creased letter from his pocket. "Do you mind if we stop here?" he asked, pausing in front of the tavern Raphael's father owned. As Nathe shook his ruddy head, Orin entered the small room, pausing to let his eyes adjust to the low light.
"Orin," Michaela said as she stepped forward. She took the tall youth into her motherly embrace. "And where is that rash son of mine?" she asked, holding Orin out at arm's length to look at him.
"I-I'm sorry," he answered softly, tears welling up in his eyes as he handed the letter to her; the only tangible memory she had left of her nineteen-year-old son.
Michaela's face fell and the tears starting streaming down her careworn cheeks. "He…?" she asked in a hoarse whisper. At Orin's nod, she sat down hard in the chair nearest her, the letter pressed to her lips. Orin stepped out softly, rejoining Nathe in the busy street.
"Where are we headed now?" he asked the tall redhead. "Someplace exciting, I hope."
Nathe looked him over and then smiled. "I hope you're ready for a bit more travel," he said with a wink. "We're headin' back to Candora."
"Candora? Why?" Orin asked curiously, keeping pace with his friend as they strode down the street.
"Why not?" was Nathe's answer as they approached the stables. Orin shrugged and saddled his horse.
* * * * *
"Peron?" Kylie hissed from across the room. "We've been here for 2 months now. Why are we staying?"
The boy glanced at her before returning to his studies. "Master Alkor is the strongest wizard in the world, Kylie," he explained slowly, as though speaking to a child. "He wants me to learn from him. Who am I to say no?"
"You are Master Mannen's former student, that's who you are," Kylie retorted hotly. "And I really think…" She stopped and lowered her voice as the warrior turned and glanced at them. "I really think they are the ones who killed him," she finished in a whisper.
"That's nonsense," Peron laughed. "All they want is for us to be the strongest wizard and warrior in the world. Is that not what you want?"
"That's not the point," Kylie grumbled, slouching against the wall, her half-polished sword lying across her lap.
"Polish, young one," the warrior commanded without turning his head toward her.
"How does he do that?" Kylie whispered, picking up the polishing cloth and getting back to work.
* * * * *
Orin halted his dappled stallion at the base of the hill and shaded his eyes with one hand. "How much longer are we to ride in this direction?" he asked, squinting against the sun.
Nathe laughed and tilted his wide-brimmed hat back on his red head. "Just a wee bit longer, lad," he answered good-naturedly as he turned his chestnut steed in a slow circle. "Good, we aren't bein' followed. All right then, let's go."
Orin groaned as he followed his best friend up the hill, whispering encouraging words to his horse while sending a silent glare westward at the sun.
* * * * *
"Good, Kylie," the warrior praised in an unexpected outburst of excitement. "Never have I seen such grace and beauty in a warrior. I believe it has helped you overcome your fears and rise above your flaws."
Kylie smiled, basking in the praise as the yellow tabby cat basked in the sun on the garden wall. She wiped a hand across her forehead, her skin glowing with the sheen of perspiration. "Thanks, sir," she said, darting a glance at the small house where Peron studied with the old wizard.
"You may take a short rest before our next lesson," the tall warrior said softly, his voice cutting like a thin blade across the surface of her happiness. He turned with a swirl of his cloak and disappeared into the house.
Kylie sat on the stone bench near the garden wall, her sword across her knees, and took off her fencing helmet. She leaned her golden head against the stones and stared up at the fluffy white clouds. "I wonder," she breathed as she listened to the soft rumble of the tabby's purrs behind her head.
"What do you wonder?" Peron asked as he walked into the garden from the house, cleaning his glasses with a soft cloth. He sat next to her on the bench and closed his eyes.
"Well, I know how loyal you are to Alkor and how you believe in him and everything," Kylie began.
"Master Alkor," Peron interrupted.
"Whatever," the girl grumbled, tossing her blonde braid over her shoulder. "Anyway, I know how loyal you are, but I still believe he knows something about Master Mannen's death."
"That's nonsense," Peron exclaimed. "All either Master Alkor or the warrior have done is try to teach us and help us and make us feel at home. How can you say that they could have killed Mannen?"
"Oh, Peron, I don't want to argue with you," Kylie sighed. "But if they want to be kind to us, why don't they let us leave and go visit our families? And why are they so secretive about everything? We don't even know the warrior's name!"
"Are names so important?" Peron asked with a dismissive air. He pulled a small book from his pocket and began to read silently.
"What's that?" Kylie asked, peering over his shoulder as he read.
"Master Alkor gave it to me. He said I should learn the spells in here. He says it will make me stronger than even he is!" Peron's hands trembled with excitement.
"Oh my! Stronger than Master Alkor? I can't believe that!" Kylie's voice dripped with sarcasm as she grabbed the book and ran towards the rose arbor. "Hylekig Japne Meajik Ka," she chanted musically, reading from the open pages.
"Kylie, no!" Peron shouted, running to stop her. He reached out to pull the book from her hands, but before he could reach her, Kylie's body became as light and disappeared into the pages of the tiny book.
* * * * *
"What's this?" Orin asked as they came upon a small cottage about twenty-five miles from Candora.
"Never mind about the cottage," Nathe answered, reining in his horse. "What was that?"
Orin shook his head as the flash of light disappeared. "I have no idea. Do you want to go check it out?"
Nathe nodded and dismounted, tying his horse to the nearest tree. He and Orin crept around to the back of the cottage where they beheld a young boy in a long blue robe holding a small book and sobbing in despair.
"What-what's wrong?" Orin asked softly as they approached the lad.
Peron looked up and started in fear. "It… she… it wasn't my fault!" he wailed. He held the book close to his chest as though to protect it.
"Are you a wizard?" Nathe asked curiously, still thinking of the flash of light that had seemed to illuminate the whole sky.
Peron nodded sadly. "I'm an apprentice to the greatest wizard in the world," he explained slowly, staring down at the book, salty tears splattering the pages. "She knew some magic, but she didn't realize how strong…" His voice trailed off as Alkor stepped from the cottage.
"Who are you?" the gnarled old wizard asked in his rusty voice, pointing at the two Rothians.
"I am Orin Yesmth, and this is Nathe Rebold. We come from Roth," Orin explained, stepping towards the master wizard.
"Stop!" Alkor commanded, holding out a bony hand. "Boy, where is young Kylie? The warrior is ready for her next lesson," he asked Peron.
At this, the young lad burst into fresh tears. "She didn't know, Master, I promise," he sputtered through his sobs. He held out the book apologetically.
"She-?" Alkor asked in disbelief, reaching for the book with both hands. Before he could grasp it, however, Orin snatched it from Peron's hand.
"What is this? And who is Kylie?" he demanded to know, ignoring the warning glance he received from Nathe.
Alkor raised his hands and summoned the force of the wind to hold and bind Orin, raising him a few inches from the ground. At a motion of his finger, the book began to slip from Orin's fingers.
"What are you-?" Orin asked before the air filled his mouth and stopped his speech. His eyes bulged as his jaws were forced wide apart.
"Master, please, you're hurting him!" Peron pleaded, plucking uselessly at Alkor's robed arm. Nathe stepped forward, his hand on his sword's hilt, ready to cut his friend's bonds, if he could only see them. Alkor pointed at him, and he stopped midstep.
"I would not try to help if I were you," the scratchy voice said dully, tying off the magical flow and leaving Orin suspended in thin air. He removed the air from the young man's mouth and Orin immediately gulped huge breaths of air, grateful to still be alive.
"Now," Alkor said as he took the book from Orin's frozen hand, "tell me, young Peron, what has happened to Kylie?"
"She read the words from the book aloud without learning what they mean," the boy explained, wiping his silver-rimmed glasses on his robe. "And then she disappeared, almost as though she entered the pages…" He trailed off, staring at the ground, awaiting his punishment.
"Why did she have the book?" Alkor asked, stepping towards the young apprentice. "I told you to guard it with your life. Are you not still living and breathing? If she read it, you should by rights be dead."
Peron held his breath and braced himself, already trying to think of a counterspell.
"I am not going to kill you, however," Alkor sighed softly. "But you must spell her out of the book. And the only way to do that is to enter it yourself."
Peron looked up. "How am I to do that? I have been studying the book; I know what the words mean."
Alkor nodded knowingly. "You must go to the end of the book and read from there… You have surely not studied the whole book already?"
Peron shook his head. "But will I go to where Kylie is if I do not enter at the same place?"
"That I do not know. You may have to find her. And she is probably not where she was originally as she has more than likely been wandering, trying to find her way out." Alkor opened the book to the last page and held it out to Peron. "Read," he commanded.
"Wethid fesnot jylip nad," Peron said softly, closing his eyes against the brightness of the light from the open pages. He felt himself get lighter and then there was nothing.
* * * * *
Kylie looked around as music filled her ears. It sounded like a hundred children singing some beautiful yet haunting melody. But the words were not in her language.
"Hello?" she called. "Can someone help me?" She peered into the shadows, but she saw nothing but mist. She couldn't even see the floor she was standing on. She took a tentative step forward, still calling out for help, when she heard her name being called in the distance.
"Peron?" she asked the mist. She listened carefully. The name now seemed to be coming from her right when the first time it was coming from her left. "Peron! It's me!" she screamed. Her voice was echoed back to her in hundreds of tiny echoes. She sank to her knees in the damp vapor, tears welling up in her large green eyes.
"Oh, Peron, will I ever find you?"
* * * * *
Alkor studied the two Rothians across from him, a scowl on his wrinkled face. "Did you have a purpose in coming here?" he asked.
Orin glanced at Nathe, noting a slight shake of the older man's head. He clamped his lips shut, not meeting the old wizard's gaze.
"Shall I cut out their tongues?" the warrior asked from behind the Rothians.
The wizard shook his head. "I do not think that will be necessary. You see, they must have been coming to rescue the children… but you see, our plan worked. We have them trapped forever, along with the others!" He threw back his head with an evil cackle.
Orin and Nathe exchanged looks, the former a look of fear, the latter a look of war…
* * * * *
"Kylie!" Peron called as he ran through the darkness, a small blue orb of light directly before him everywhere he went. "Answer me!"
Suddenly he came upon a large wooden door. Peron reached out his hand and touched the doorknob before thinking, and the knob disappeared.
"Fool!" he hissed at himself. "Use your magic." He chanted a few words in Fantasian and the door swung inward slowly. He stepped into the new room, extinguishing the blue orb since the new room was filled with a bright white light.
"Kylie?" he asked as he heard a sound from the other side of the room. He ran towards the sound and found a young girl sitting forlornly on a bench by the wall.
"Hello," he said in his kindest voice. "I'm Peron. Who are you?"
The girl looked up, her eyes blank and colorless. She reached up and tugged at the brown curls that framed her heart-shaped face.
"I am Pelinna," she whispered tonelessly, a small sigh causing her small shoulders to sag further. "Did he trap you here too?"
"Who?" Peron asked, kneeling down in front of her.
"Alkor of course," Pelinna said matter-of-factly. "Who else?"
"Master Alkor would never cause someone to be trapped here on purpose," he said angrily.
"He has fooled you too," she said, shaking her head slowly, her eyes on her small hands that were folded in her lap.
"Have you seen a tall girl with golden hair?" he asked, changing the subject and ignoring her implications.
Pelinna shook her head, the curls bouncing around her shoulders. "Shall I help you find her?" she asked, standing to her feet.
"Thank you, that would be great." Peron walked along the brightly lit wall, looking for another door. "Where does all this light come from anyway?" he asked the girl.
"This is the page the book is currently open to," she explained, tapping along one section of the wall. "There we go," she said as a portion of the wall swung open. A gray mist drifted into the room, causing the ends of his hair to curl damply.
"Where does this lead?" he asked, stepping through the opening cautiously.
Pelinna shrugged and followed him through the opening.
* * * * *
Nathe paced the length of the small garden, aware that he was being watched, but not caring. "How are we supposed to get outta here?" he asked his companion, running his fingers through his unruly red curls.
Orin shrugged. "I believe they have a magical barrier that is keeping us from leaving. If one of us could learn the spell to undo it…"
"Forget it!" Nathe roared, turning to face his friend. "Neither of us has ever done any magic, and I'm not about to start now."
Orin walked to the garden edge and tried to climb the small stone wall. Suddenly he was thrown to the ground, landing hard on his back.
"What are ya doin'?" Nathe asked, running to the younger man and helping him to his feet. "Ya know we can't get outta here, so why even try?"
"I thought maybe I could feel the magic… the weave, so to speak. If I could figure out how he made it, maybe I could figure out how to un-make it," Orin explained once he caught his breath.
Nathe looked at him, a puzzled frown on his sunburned face. "And just when did ya learn this nonsense about magic and weaves?" he asked.
"My father was a magician," Orin whispered, studying the area surrounding the garden and the cottage. "All spells are like a woven fabric. You just have to figure out what goes where and you can easily unravel it." After this explanation, he walked closer to the garden wall. "Look!" he exclaimed, pointing beyond the cottage. Nathe joined Orin at the wall and stared in the direction Orin was indicating.
"How in bloody hell did they get out?" Nathe wondered, watching the warrior and Alkor walk along the path to the nearby woods.
"Maybe there's a hole somewhere?" Orin suggested doubtfully, studying the two figures as they grew smaller and smaller as they walked into the distance. "Wait!" he said suddenly. "They always wear that cloak and cape whenever they leave the house, even if it is warm outside," Orin mused thoughtfully.
"What are ya gettin' at?" Nathe asked curiously.
"Maybe their coverings have a weave on them to help them pass through the protective wall," Orin said slowly.
"So, we gotta get those coverings," Nathe grinned.
Orin nodded slowly and headed back into the house, Nathe right behind him.
* * * * *
"Hello," came a voice behind Kylie as she sat in the mist, waiting for help.
Kylie screamed and jumped to her feet, her sword at the ready. As she whirled around, she came face to face with a young man about her age with chestnut brown hair and brooding hazel eyes. She lowered her sword and took a step backwards.
"Who are you?" she asked softly.
"My name is Yosef," he answered, a roguish grin on his face. "What's your name?"
"Kylie," was the tentative answer.
"Kylie… You look as though you need help," Yosef said, stepping towards her.
"Can-can you help me?" Kylie asked, not daring to believe it.
Yosef nodded and reached for her hand. "Come with me," he commanded gently.
She placed her hand in his and followed him.
... to be continued