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Chapter 1 >>>> Click HERE! <<<<
Aiden’s mind was reeling. Him? Murder? He hadn’t had a good feeling about this journey in the first place but now things were just completely out of hand. This couldn’t be right! He had never been hunted down before, for anything! Why him?
“Hey…. Aiden, you still in there?” Torrance questioned him, waving a hand in front of his face.
“Y-yeah…” he stammered. He shook his head as if doing so would put his thoughts back in order. Of course something so simple didn’t help. “You’ve got to be joking… right?”
“You know me. I’m way too lazy to fly this far for a joke.” Torrance replied bluntly.
Aiden let out a frustrated grumble. Of course he was right, that big goof would have never flown this far this fast just for a prank. He had probably just picked a random town close to Plume and flew to it too. He didn’t really want to know either way, he already felt slightly nauseous from shock.
He got to his feet, wound far too tight now to take sitting down. What could he do now? They couldn’t just continue on their way could they?
“The priest also said that Lady Catriona was missing.”
“She‘s fine, she’s with me… er, not at the moment, but… ugh! You get the idea!” He rambled. He had to stop this stuttering!
Torrance took a long drink from a canteen he carried with him. At least it looked like someone had a chance to prepare for the flight out here. He paused long enough to ask another question. “We know they want you dead, but what happens if they take Catriona back? And stop pacing would you? You’re making me dizzy just watching you.”
Aiden barely even heard the last remark though he did pause in his pacing. He couldn’t just let them take Lady Catriona back home could he? He nearly flinched when a memory came back to haunt him. The image of her body slumped lifelessly against a tree in the forest was still fresh in his mind. At the time the sight had nearly made him sick.
“No… they can’t find her either, the priest will kill her… already has once…” he murmured.
Torrance suddenly broke in to a fit of coughing. It looked as though this had come as a surprise to him seeing as how he’d spit out the water he’d had in his mouth as well. “What?! But why?” he exclaimed. “She died?”
“I helped the Elder find her, and when we did she was…”
“Wait, you were with the Elder? How?”
“I don’t know! I guess I just happened to be the closest person to ask for help! I was just standing on guard duty and she came running up to me in a panic asking me if I could help her find her granddaughter. What was I supposed to do? Say no?” Aiden snapped before he even realized it. He hadn’t meant to sound so angry. He was most definitely losing his cool which he tried to regain by taking a deep breath. He looked to the sky, “Why me?” he grumbled.
“Hey, calm down, you were saying?”
“When we found Lady Catriona she was … dead. I don’t know who exactly killed her but the Elder used a resurrection spell on her and ordered me to take her to Archosaur.” Aiden finished quickly, a very condensed version of the story.
Torrance went wide-eyed “Woah… you actually saw a resurrection spell?”
“That’s beside the point! What the hell am I supposed to do now?”
“Well… sounds like Arch is still your best bet. It’s not Wing Elf territory.”
Aiden nodded slowly. “Yeah… yeah you’re right. What about my family?”
“They’re fine. A little shocked and upset, but if it makes you feel any better, they don’t think that you’re a murderer.” Torrance replied sincerely.
Aiden let out a sigh. He should hope his family wouldn’t believe that of him no matter who it was that told them. He opened his mouth to say something else but a sudden noise caught his attention. It sounded like a voice. He couldn’t make it out but it was a shout, that much he could tell for sure.
What if they had found him already?
“Quick, hide!” he exclaimed quietly, shooing Torrance off into the forest.
“What about you?”
“Don’t worry about me, just get out of here. If they see you they’ll want you dead too!
“Ling! I think there’s something over here!” A voice shouted, a lot closer now.
It didn’t take any more convincing for Torrance to vanish. Aiden knew he didn’t want to leave him alone but at the moment he didn’t have any other choice.
Aiden did his best to stay silent as he tried to make his way back to the manor. He had to get Lady Catriona and get out of there as quickly as possible! His heart began to race when he realized just how close the search party was. He could hear someone up ahead, they stepped lightly but his hearing picked it up well enough.
He hid behind the nearest tree just as one of the search party appeared through the brush. Everything sounded too loud, even his own breathing as he tried to remain still and as quiet as the grave.
The archer bent down and picked up an arrow from the ground. Probably from one of the Pyrogolths that Torrance had opened fire on earlier. She studied it. “Hmm, a regular arrow… it fits…” she mused aloud.
Aiden nearly screamed when a loud thud violently caught his attention. An arrow had embedded itself into the tree right next to his head! He could have sworn that his heart skipped a beat. He had been found…
“Turn around but stay where you are!” a voice ordered him. One he recognized.
He swallowed back a lump of fear and turned slowly, coming face to face with Guard Ling. This was serious… Not often had she been sent out like this, one of the better archers around from what he had heard.
“Well you’re a bold one aren’t you? Not even wearing armor.” She spat.
What could he do? He was trapped! The other archer that had been close by was already coming to Ling’s aid and if he so much as twitched the wrong way he was sure that the arrow she had aimed at him wouldn’t miss. To top it all off, she looked very angry.
“Where’s the Lady?” She demanded, her bow aimed at him at point blank range now.
Aiden looked shocked, speechless already.
“Speak or I may decide not to take you back to Plume alive for your trial!”
That was when he saw it; a quick flash of hawk-like feathers in the trees above. Torrance? Or was it someone else ready to swarm him and take him back to plume? He tore his attention away from trees and back to the situation in front of him… the one that wasn’t looking very good.
“I-I really don’t… I… you don’t understand…” He stammered.
“I will only ask you one more time.” Ling stated in a warning tone. “Where is Lady Catriona?”
Just then, someone dropped from the trees above nearly on top of both archers facing Aiden. Ling never saw what it was that hit her before she fell unconscious to the ground.
There was no time to think! Before the other archer could turn to see what happened, Aiden rushed her.
She regained herself from the shock enough to take aim at him but her shot was sloppy and Aiden managed to avoid it, but barely. The arrow left a small line of red on his neck as it streaked past. The archer was out cold as well before she could nock another arrow.
That was far too close…
But the mess he was in had now just been made worse. Once they found the both of them, they would know he was here and from the looks of it…
He felt as though he could be sick. He had never bargained for this! “Oh no… no, no, no, no this is not good…” he murmured as he stared down at the two unconscious Wing Elves.
“You really owe me one, my friend.” Torrance stated.
“W-we just … just knocked out… ohhh….”
“You don’t look like you’re feeling so good.”
Aiden barely heard him. “You have to get out of here. Now! And don’t repeat anything I told you or they’ll try to kill you too! You were never here!”
Torrance frowned. It was obvious he was conflicted. After that close of a call he would normally have never left a comrade behind, but this situation called for it. “You look out for yourself.”
“I will… Please look after my family for me. I don’t think they’re in any danger but--”
“Hey, what are friends for? You just try not to die.”
Aiden let out a small sigh of relief. “Right. Thank you.”
“I’m sure he’s fine.” Edna said. She was trying her best to convince me, but I had a bad feeling. I didn’t think that Ling and her party would just stop in town and look and that was all. They had to be searching more thoroughly than that.
Edna had made every effort to calm me. I was once again in the room that I had been staying in before. She had gotten rid of my old clothing, which was probably a good thing, and given me new ones. I was pretty sure that by now she had an idea of why my old clothes looked like they had when she tried to wash them and the “mud” just wouldn’t come out.
The new clothes, or old clothes rather, that she had given me she said she had worn at one point in time. They were comfortable and the high collar of the shirt covered my neck, which I was grateful for. I had said thank you enough already but my worry for Aiden stayed at the front of my mind. It had been a while now since Ling had left…
Aiden was out there, alone, with no idea of what was going on! He was in danger and I couldn’t help but to feel it was my fault.
“What’s she fretting over now?” Roarke asked. Call me crazy but for once I think he looked slightly concerned.
“It’s her friend.” Edna said. She gave him a scowl before adding. “The one you sent to look for the map I’m sure.”
The old man made an genuine effort to look confused. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. What map?” he replied quickly.
Edna let out a heavy sigh, shaking her head before continuing on with her thought. “Could you please go find him?”
“Yes! Please, this is important!”
“Alright, fine, fine. I’ll do it.” he said, beginning to storm off. He didn’t bother to close the door behind him.
Not but a moment later there was a loud noise from the hallway. It startled me for sure. Edna’s attention had certainly been grabbed. It sounded like something had hit the floor!
“What was that?” I questioned.
“I-I’m not sure.” Edna replied, getting up and cautiously going to peek around the door into the hallway.
“Edna!” Roarke shouted. Once again he didn’t sound happy but when had he ever? “I found him!”
“I am so sorry sir! Honestly I didn’t mean to--”
“Shut up and just help me!”
I knew that voice! It was Aiden, he was back! “Aiden!” I exclaimed, getting up from the bed and running into the hallway. I was so relieved to see him back here, at least some of my nerves were calmed now.
Certainly not all. Especially when I took note of the trail of blood running down the side of his neck to stain the collar of his shirt. I frowned. It could have just been a scratch but my gut told me differently.
He helped the old man to his feet. It looked as though he had come rushing around the corner and hadn’t seen the manor host quickly enough to dodge him. He apologized the whole while and once the old man was standing he seemed to have a thought. “Here, if this makes up for anything, I found this.” he said quickly. He pulled a piece of parchment out of a small pouch and handed it to Roarke.
The old man looked at it with a wrinkled nose. “What…” he began. When he unfolded it and looked at it his eyes lit up. “It’s my map!” he exclaimed. “But… why is it wet?”
“That’s…. a uh… long story.” Aiden replied turning a shade of red.
“Pyrogolths gave you trouble didn’t they?” the old man laughed.
My appointed guard sighed, his eyebrows furrowed. “That wasn’t the only thing…”
I frowned. He seemed panicked. From what I had gathered about him through our short conversations already it didn’t seem that much could make him lose his cool. From the look in his eyes though, I could see it. His emotions were so plain through his deep blue eyes; something had him very upset.
“What happened to your neck?” I questioned as he made his way past the old man to me.
“Huh?” He put his hand up to it as if he hadn’t even noticed it until now. He cringed when he looked at his hand and saw the blood on it. “Oh… It’s nothing… but I need to tell you something and I-I‘m not sure …” His sentence trailed off as he seemed to search for the right words to say. “Everything’s changed. The whole situation at home…”
I looked to the floor in front of me. “I know.”
Aiden looked confused. I was rather confused as well, how did he know what was going on now? I thought that he wouldn’t. It looked as though he thought that I wouldn’t either.
“Soldiers from Plume have already been here.” Edna explained.
“They’ll be coming back.” Aiden said quickly without any further hesitation. “They’ve seen me, they know I’m around here.”
I couldn’t help but grit my teeth to keep from crying. I would have asked if this day could get any worse, but I figured that I didn’t want that question answered. The second I asked I knew it would.
“Well let’s not waste any time getting you both ready to leave.” Edna stated.
“I’m sorry all of this has happened to you.” I said quietly once the old woman had hurried off. “I didn’t mean for anyone to get dragged into this mess with me.”
“It’ll be fine, it‘s not your fault it‘s my damn luck.” he said, the least reassuring I had heard him sound thus far. “Everything will get better once we make it to Arch.” He said. He seemed more as though he were trying to convince himself that things would turn out okay.
Edna peeked her head around the corner she had vanished behind earlier “Hurry up kids! We don’t have all day! Let’s get you both on the trail!”
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