Chapter 20 – Fear

A strong wind suddenly picked up, roaring down the valley. The sound strangely familiar, akin to sails and a forceful gust, but magnified at least twenty times over. The trees creaked and swayed as they were suddenly buffeted with the passing, displaced air. The shriek of large wings, whistling overhead at speed. Tiffaniel woke with a start, her hand clutching the device that sent them here. She glanced around, disoriented. The flames of their little fire leaning and almost blowing out in the bluster of wind. Sitting up, she whispered Groyven’s name, reaching out to find that he was not huddled behind her. She whirled, her eyes darting around the small hollow in the trees, searching. He was not there.

 

‘Groyven?!’ she called out in a low and forceful voice.

 

She turned, hearing the wind rushing over the trees again. It was in the distance, on the opposing side of the valley and growing closer. She hurriedly looked around, searching for a place to hide. The sensation was crippling as it approached, the fear was driving her to her knees, she needed to hide, she could hear it coming for her. The fear inside her mind grew to a fever pitch and she looked around unseeing. Glancing straight up, the light of the moon was momentarily blacked out, the whistling sound had raised to a deafening shriek that cut through her body. Making every hair raise as it passed at speed, buffeting the treetops with great force.

 

Her voice was trapped in her throat, her need to scream only allowing a half-strangled whisper. Then her eyes settled on movement at the edge of the firelight. Her brother stumbled out from the trees and towards her, his hands clamped over his ears, the look of terror on his face. He reached a hand out and snuffed the fire as he ran towards her. She felt his arms clamp around her as they both tumbled to the ground. In the low light they moved away from the clearing and into the underbrush, trying to find more substantial cover. As they pulled each other along, Tiffaniel reached into her pocket to find it empty. She stopped, turning back, her eyes on the ground, a tight feeling in her chest as she saw it.

 

‘Wait Ven!’ she quickly moved back to retrieve it, only to find that it was glowing, pulsing golden light in the darkness, half obscured by leaf litter.

 

She reached down, Groyven rushing to her side. He looked down into her hands, the glow washing over their faces. The golden sun was pulsing with light. She reached to twist it again. Looking at his face, she saw him shaking his head. Groyven grabbed her hand and dragged her along. Again the roaring sound of wind started to build, the piercing shriek drawing closer. Tiffaniel looked at her closed hand, the glow even stronger than before. No longer pulsing, the gold sun was surging with light as the shriek grew louder. Both Tiffaniel and Groyven cowered under the trees, hearing the great beast’s approach, the fear tearing at them mercilessly. For a short moment the moonlight was blotted out, the device let out an almost blinding display from where it had been dropped between them from when they had covered their ears. Groyven looked into Tiffaniel’s eyes, quickly picked it up and handed it to her.

 

‘We try.’ he said.

 

Without a second thought, she activated it, the glow immediately built among the trees. Unlike earlier in the night, it did not stop, the light forming into a transparent sphere as it had done on board the ship. The mechanical whirring and whining sound building until it was all they could hear, blotting out the sound of the shrieking wind from above and an unexpected roar of surprise from a tremendous beast. As before, Tiffaniel’s hands were locked to it. Groyven looked at the inside walls of the globe in wonder and back to Tiffaniel as the sensation of crippling fear suddenly lifted. She stood there, her eyes closed, rooted to the spot.

 

The ground shook underfoot, as if an earthquake had taken place nearby. They both looked at each other, Groyven with a questioning expression and Tiffaniel shaking her head. A few short moments passed, the walls growing opaque, the light blinding, causing them both to close their eyes as sparks started to form, floating around them. Groyven shielded his eyes, looking at Tiffaniel, she was smiling. It was then that he noticed that the floating sparks had gone, and a few moments later the bright light was losing its intensity. He reached out and touched the wall of the globe, it was slowly becoming transparent. He shook Tiffaniel’s shoulder. Desperation on her face as she looked at the device in her hands, she started wrenching at it to no avail, it was locked in place. Instead the whirring sound slowly started to drop in pitch, the globe became like glass as it had done when they arrived in the forest.

 

Tiffaniel stood silent, strangely unsurprised as her hands were released and the sun rotated back to its starting position with a firm click. Unlike before, the sun held its glow. As the light hung amongst the trees, the whirring sound faded and in the distance they heard a tree fall, with a crashing thud. Groyven looked at Tiffaniel and the despondent look on her face as she slipped it into an inner pocket of her robes. He turned back to the trees as a deep rumble followed by a thud shook the ground slightly. He felt his sister at his side as he looked in the direction of the distant sound. Tiffaniel came up behind him brushing against him as they both stood silently, listening.

 

‘I’m sorry, Ven.’ Tiffaniel said quietly after a while.

 

‘There is nothing to be sorry about. We tried, it failed.’ he looked at her, ‘Whatever that thing was, it is gone now. Maybe the light frightened it off.’

 

‘Maybe.’ said Tiffaniel, glancing at her brother, ‘Where were you? You were not there when I woke.’

 

Groyven started walking back to the hollow they arrived in, ‘I was gathering more wood for the fire.’

 

‘I was sleeping?’ she asked in surprise.

 

Groyven nodded, ‘For a little while.’

 

Reaching their makeshift campsite, Groyven quickly brought the fire back to life.

 

‘Ven?’

 

‘Hmm?’ he responded as he shifted some of the wood around, adding more.

 

‘Ven, it did not work, and well. It had power. It did everything the same, like we were about to jump to another place, and then it stopped.’

 

He glanced up at the moon, now shining down through the trees and into the hollow, ‘Like we were already at our destination?’

 

Tiffaniel nodded slowly.

 

‘Then here is where it was designed to go to.’ he said, shrugging slightly.

 

‘But, Selera said that even the maker did not know where.’

 

Groyven looked at her in the mixed light from the strange moon above and the firelight.

 

‘Maybe those papers she was given were all that survived. Maybe the rest were lost. It does not matter. We are wherever it sent us.’ he threw another stick on the fire, sending up sparks.

 

‘Maybe, might have, too late. We are here. We only have one goal, everything is secondary, a hope a wish.’ he looked her in the eyes, ‘Our goal, my sister, is to survive. Find safety. Once we are safe, we can entertain other thoughts.’

 

Tiffaniel watched his face, his hard expression unflinching, ‘But that,’

 

‘That was something we have no understanding of, but we can’t move in the night. We wait until morning, then we move.’ he looked back at the fire, ‘We both need rest, or we won’t get far tomorrow.’

 

Tiffaniel nodded slowly, her eyes on him, ‘But you need to rest too.’

 

He shrugged, ‘I will use an ampule if I need to.’ he said as he sat, resting his back against a log. ‘Unfortunately, they only work with me. Come, sit or lay, I will be here.’

 

She looked at him and nodded. Sitting beside him, she also watched the fire in silence. Time was lost as they sat there, the moonlight no longer hanging over the break in the trees. Groyven felt her slowly sag against him as she dropped into sleep. He carefully lowered her onto her side, arranging an arm into a pillow. She shifted, nestling into her arm. Going to the bag she had brought with them, he drew out a thin blanket that she had managed to take and draped it over her.

 

He sat again, bringing out the rectangular black amulet. He looked at it carefully in the firelight. Letting the flames light the two crystals from behind, adding an orange flicker to their glow. As he ran a finger over the black surface the etched designs of an ancient language and the symbol of the trident came to life shining like a spiderweb in the moonlight. He traced the blood emblem of his family. He immediately remembered the morning, waking in Sialin’s warm and soft embrace. Those tender moments, where he finally felt safe and valued above all else, where his feelings of pain and pent up anger melted away, felt as if it took place an eternity ago. He remembered Sialin’s tears when she found out that she was the caretaker of the great defender of the family line. He smiled, blinking back tears. Then Selera dropping to a knee and placing her trust in him.

 

Groyven clenched his fist around the amulet, feeling its sharp corners digging into his hand. He had wanted to wait until the morning, but after the events of an hour or so ago, he couldn’t wait. He was tiring, the lack of food, dehydration and loss of blood was wearing at him terribly. He had summoned him before, over a year ago with their mother watching on approvingly. He knew on his first summon as the new head he had to offer a sign of respect to the great protector. He knew what he must do.

 

Groyven looked at Tiffaniel, she was sleeping soundly, exhaustion finally dragging her into a deep sleep. Leaving her side, he walked into the trees, quickly retracing his steps to another small clearing, the flicker and flame of his fire visible amongst the trunks. The glow of the moon providing just enough light for him to see, he knelt at the edge of the clearing, facing the centre. Laying the amulet down on the ground, he took out one of Sialin’s ampules, placing it beside it. Drawing a knife from his belt, he nicked the flesh of his thumb and quickly re-sheathed it. He squeezed his thumb until the blood dripped freely, letting it fall on the amulet, turning the faintly glowing, white-blue etchings a deep red. Groyven cradled it in his hand and broke the seal on Sialin’s ampule with his teeth. Concentrating past the searing pain in his cut thumb, he poured the blue water over it, bathing the amulet in the ethereal flames of its caretaker. Leaning his head down, bowing over it in respect, he looked at it, the blue flame surrounding and caressing the black surface, settling into the two holes where the gems were set. His blood shimmering a rich gold where it was smeared on the etchings. He nodded to himself.

 

‘My great protector, Hendosphyre, I have need of your strength, I welcome you and am honoured by you. Come to me.’ Groyven said in a reverent tone as he brought his hands together, his fingers laced together around its angular edges, awaiting the family line’s defender.

 

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