Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Truth of Shadows Part 1.2

Where have I been?

Where the hell have you all been?
I have been right here waiting for all of you people. It is just rude to keep a woman waiting.


Fine, it was all my fault... Life has been a little busy for me. I was just foolish to think summer might actually be less work for me.

However; I do come baring a peace offering. The next installment of my little story. Hope you all enjoy it, and if you haven't read Part 1.1 you can find it here.

            Protests from the gate guards faded behind Andrea. The valley, a grassy field that stretched for miles connecting the kingdom's various districts, was the only thing that lay before her. Waves of moon lit blue grass swayed in the late summer breeze. It was beautiful on the valley paths at night, but not safe. Since the time of the great war it had been infested with nasty nocturnal creatures. Lost souls that wander about, devouring whatever they come across. Andrea hoped one day the peace of the kingdom and its districts could spread into the valley.

            Pushing her brilliant white stallion harder, Andrea raced to the west mountains. Called the metal district for the precious metals they mined. Redd lived in a small house at the base of the mountains. A large volcano looming over the south side of the village, while the rock cliffs blocked in all but the north entrance. A path that weaved and dipped in strange places. It was hard to maneuver, and it was there around one turn Andrea found Redd. Laying face down under the gentle nuzzling of his loyal horse. 

            Andrea's cold stone face fell into panic. Her heart leapt forwards into erratic beats as she raced to his side. Jumping from her own speeding stallion, and onto the dirt path. The elegant cream and blue gown symbolizing her royal status soiled by the red dust cloud that rose from her harsh descent. None of it mattered, not like it would have to all those nobles in court, Redd was what mattered now. His limp lifeless body face down in the dirt, a young life slowly slipping away before her eyes.

"Redd?" she called out shaking at his shoulders. It was just to difficult to tell if he was breathing from this position.

            There was no response, Andrea's heart sank farther into panic. Tugging at his shoulders she tried to roll him. Pulling at his shirt so hard it ripped as she fought with his heavy muscled body with little success.

"By the Great Goddess, answer Me!" she yelled now pulling with everything she had.

            A small groan called out from Redd's fallen body. It was faint and small, but it brought a sense of hope. At least he had not fallen completely to the poison that was rushing through his body.

             Foot falls echoed off the hard rock walls that surrounded the path. Someone or something was coming. That was enough to throw Andrea into alarm, drawing a dagger that she kept safely in the heavy folds of her dress. It would do little against the demons that roamed the valley at night, but it was something.

            Andrea's heart jumped to life as the sound grew closer. Her hand gripping the dagger, sweating with eager anticipation. This was not fear, this was a thrill. That thrill warriors get just before battle. Knowing that their life is on the line, and training is a happy fairytale compared to what was about transpire.

            Heart racing, knuckles white from gripping the dagger, and blue eyes fixed on the bend just a few feet ahead. She was ready for it. Ready to rush whatever it was, even in her heavy gown, she was ready.

            First it was just a small portion of shadow that emerged from the sharp turn, then more and more shadow appeared. Gripping the dagger tightly, Andrea readied to attack. Anything to defend Redd in his weak state. The shadow grew to a full sized man, as it took another step closer Andrea's breath rushed out in relief. She knew that form, knew that shadow.

"Andrea?" Erin asked seeing the dagger in Andrea's hands. "Is everything alright?"

"No," she huffed tucking her weapon away and turning back to Redd. "he has grown far worse. We must get him to a safer place."

            Erin's strides increased as Andrea motioned to the fallen Redd. He was slipping away right in front of them. Dieing from some unseen enemy that none of them could fight.

"The village is only up the next incline," Erin replied, tugging at Redd's arm to lift him. "he will be safe inside the barrier."

            Each district of the kingdom had their own way of fending off the creatures from the valley. Some constructed walls and fences such as the capital. Others used traps and guards to keep watch at night, and still others relied on magical barriers. The barrier for this district was crafted by the Willows who resided deep in the mountain range. Deeper then anyone as ever admitted going. Their magic filtered down to the Rock dwellers which lived inside the mountains closer to the Redd's village. There the crystal catalyst for the barrier was under guard. Without the scared Ruby the barrier would not blanket the district or Redd's village.

            Redd's arms draped over Erin and Andrea's shoulders as they carried him toward the village. A small well established place nestled into the base of the rocky cliffs. It felt cozy and safe despite the looming danger of the volcano. They approached the boundary of the barrier, and Andrea had to jerk back.

"Erin," she called to him. "I must be invited."

            The barrier kept those with ill intentions, dark hearts, demon blood, and anyone else it felt was a threat to the region at bay. Without a spoken invitation a person rejected by the barrier could not enter. Andrea was one of the rejected, a secret Erin had kept for since their first diplomatic trip to the village. Whispering the words "I extend the protection of the Willows," each time they had business in this district. It was no different this time as he raddled off the swift invitation allowing her passage.

            They would be safe now, protected from whatever might wander up the path or even the person responsible to Redd's condition. Their ill intent would trigger the barrier, forting any other attempts at Redd's life. Andrea had her doubts that even now Redd could be saved, dropping his limp body onto the small wooden bed.

            Skin pale white, sweat soaking his clothing, and his body in violent shivers none of which were good signs.

"Get some water from the well," Andrea barked at Erin ripping at Redd's shirt. His built chest glistening with fevered sweat.

"We must keep his body temperature from raising any farther." Andrea said again reaching for a cloth at the bedside table, running across his forehead.

            The poison racing through his system had entered the most critical point. This type of rare poison was crafted from an herb grown under special conditions. It was unique, it fooled the body into thinking it was cold. A sensation of heat was how it started, dizziness, and then cold. The feeling of your whole body being submerged into frigid artic water. When in reality the poison caused the body's internal temperature to soar. Boiling the victim from the inside out.

"Your efforts are in vein." Nika said in her clam chilling voice.

"Where have you been?" Andrea growled to the figure of Nika standing in the doorway.

            Nika ignored the panicked Andrea, waving her hand at the princess to leave Redd's bedside. Andrea took a step back, and watched with concern as Nika looked over the afflicted Redd. She raised his eyelids, opened his mouth, checked his chest, and neck before standing straight again.

"Is there nothing you can do for him?" Andrea finally asked seeing that Nika had completed her exam.

            Silence reminded as Nika pulled a small wooden tub with a cork in the top form her vest. The air in the room had grown so still despite the raspy breath of Redd, and typical night sounds outside. It was like the world stopped moving, then rushed forward to catch up as the sound of a cork popped. A faint smell of sweet mint and tangy blood fruit filled the small one room house.

            Nika's hand lifted Redd's head by the back of his neck, forcing his head to fall back and mouth to open. Pouring the contents of the tub down his throat.

"We will know more in the morning." Nika announced, pulling one of two small wooden chairs to the bedside. From here it was a simple waiting game, still it looked grim. Andrea could see it in Nika's face. Her typical stone mask was cracking slightly. Nika's red eyes shined with a mother's concern like she had only seen once or twice before.

"I could do it," Andrea finally spoke up. The words no sooner left her mouth, then Nika turned swiftly and barked a "No".

            The noble blood lines contained the ability of magic. There were able to call upon the elements to perform a variety of spells, some far more skilled then others. As years passed and the blood lines became more diluted, the magical abilities diminished. There was hardly any left with actual ability to study in the magical arts. Violet was one of the few that had a great deal of potential in the magical realm.

            Andrea was something completely different. Her abilities touched a plane that Nika had never witnessed, and because of that they had kept it hidden. Not even the King new about her abilities or strength. Even now for her to use her magic it was dangerous.

"I do not think even you could pull him back now." Erin added to put Andrea a little more at ease.

            Silence fell between then once again. The night started to grow later, Redd's ragged breathing and violent fits were the only sounds. Filling the room with more and more tension. Aggravation, worry, doubt, and the mystery of who or why this was happening worked over Andrea's mind. This was not typical, things like this did not happen in the kingdom, not anymore.

"Why?" Andrea finally asked. They had all been thinking it.

"Why Redd?"

            That was the most troubling question, next to the outcome of his condition. It would have been so easy to use twice as much poison to kill him instantly. Instead this new enemy choose a slow death.

"Perhaps to get to Violet?" Erin's reply unsure.

            Even that made little sense. Violet was venerable outside of the palace, even with Redd. This attack was deliberate as well as brutal. It also sent a very chilling message.

"What is this Nika?" Andrea asked out right, seeing the strained look of thought on her face.

"It is rather unsettling" Nika said rubbing her chin with two fingers. "This assassination technique has not been used since the Great War."

            A very unsettling truth, but what spoke that loudest about this attack was the poison. It took years to create and a skilled person to deliver a dose that managed to inflect a prolonged effect. The worst of all the facts, was only a Mia had access to the herb required. 

            Andrea glanced from Erin to Nika. Even if the evidence pointed to a Mia she trusted them. Trusted their abilities, their honor, and their word. Neither one could have done such a thing, and betray their people, oath, and life's quest.

"Perhaps Erin should return you to the palace." Nika said with a glance over to Andrea. "It will be safer there."

"I am not leaving. Both you and Erin are here. The barrier is in place." Andrea argued back "This place is just as safe as the palace."

            The King would be in a rage at this, but Andrea did not care. The only thing on her mind was Redd, and making certain this would not be his last night alive. Toying nervously with the ends of her brown hair, Andrea watched as Redd's head tossed from side to side. Wondering what nightmarish images plagued his fevered sleep. Redd had seen so much danger and hardships in his young life. There was no telling the events that were replaying in his mind.

"Not to seem rude," Erin whispered to Andrea. Resting against the wall beside her, he leaned in closer. "When did you start showing concern for Redd?"

"Do not be shallow."

"I am simply wondering at what point your extreme dislike of him turned to actual affection?" Erin added.

            The implication was just appalling. Andrea's concern came from the knowledge that a resident of the kingdom was near death. That a life was fading from the world, and in a manner most disturbing.

Or was it?

            Andrea let the strand of hair she was twisting in her fingers fall. Her blue gaze fixed on Erin's red eyes. Searching for any reason for his revelation. Their gazes, fire and ice staring at each other held for a long moment.

"Do not tell me you are jealous?" Andrea finally concluded.

            It was no surprise, the whole kingdom practically knew. At least all the palace staff did. Erin had been Andrea's guardian for the last ten years. He was still considered young in his clan, but Mia's aged slower. When he took the post Erin was already in his late twenties, but in the Mia clan he was still just a child.

            Since then the relationship between Andrea and Erin turned into more than just a simple duty. Erin protected Andrea with a type of passion and resolve like no other before him. As they grew older, he had started to use her first name. Talking more informally with her, and despite all the cold bitterness that seemed to follow the princess. Erin remained at her side. Now whispers of his eligibility to be Andrea's husband had started to spread around the palace. As much as Erin tried to deny the allegations, they were more then true, at least for him.

"That is ridiculous." he growled finally pulling his gaze from her.

            His body hunched over as he folded his arms across his chest. Putting a little more distance between him and Andrea, Erin looked back to Redd. Andrea didn't say another word as they waited. Time seemed to pass so slow, inching by as the full moon rose high, and then sank into the distance.

            Glancing to the window pass Erin, the sky had started to lighten. The dark blue of the night becoming more lively. Dawn was only moments away, and Redd's condition had not changed.

“It is nearly morning and his fever is only getting worse.” She stated looking for comfort and reassurance from Nika.

“Maybe we were too late.” Erin jumped in with a short almost crude reply.

“Show a little compassion.” Andrea snapped.

“It is true," Nika's voice catching Andrea's attention. "We might have arrived too late. My serum is only prolonging his pain.”
            Mia's were noble, honorable people that lived by a code all their own. In some regard they were members of this kingdom, but they still lived by their own rules. Their beliefs were not to prolong pain and suffering. For a warrior like Redd it was to honor him by ending it as swiftly as possible. That was what Nika was suggesting, that was want she wanted. To stop the fever fueled nightmares, and lay a noble warrior down for his final rest.
 ~~~~~~~~~To be Continued~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Yeah did you really think I was going to end it with a nice neat little break. You all must not know me to well.

Keep an eye out for more soon.
Till next time My Sexy Demon Minions!!