Seven days and six nights. We were supposed to be out of the forest by now. If Stefephon hadn’t let Gideon lead our carriages, we would be in Vildriff by now. The journey from Brinemount to Vildriff only takes three days by the Main Road, but Gideon strongly suggested that he knew a shortcut. Everyone knew Stefephon was not happy with his slave, he never is. The whole camp is surprised he’s survived under Stefephon’s wrath for this long.
“Hold!” A shout comes down the line. Magnolia snickers at the sudden stop. It’s dangerous to stay in these woods. The Main Road would have been much safer from bandits and wolves.
“Bring me Kara and Arak!” Stefephon’s voice rang so loud and clear, no-one bothered to restate his command. A small boy and girl stumbled from behind me, their walk the same pace, their faces blank of emotion. Shivers ran up my arms and back as they walked towards the front. Nobody knows where they came from or who they belonged too, just that Stefephon brought them to the main tent during rehearsal and claimed them as new residents of our little, make-shift home. They’ve never spoken except in Old Tounge, a language that died before the world grew to understand. Nissa Borges, an elemental witch, once said “Their from the Underworld. They are here to take away Stefephon’s soul yet, he has none. Kara and Arak cannot go home without taking his soul to Horael, the God of Death.” She was talking to Morte, the fire-eater and Pauline, the earth nymph but I know she saw me listening in. Ever since my parent’s died, many have looked at me in horror, thinking I was responsible. Now being the fortune teller, I’m not sure what to believe except that their death still pains me.
Magnolia shifted her feet, agitated to move. My mind snapped back to the scene in front of me. Forest so quiet and still, not a bird singing nor a chipmunk scratching. Someone was here, someone dangerous. Even the rain fall began to soften, as if time slowed from all around. I wildly scanned the trees around me, my hand flying to the crystal ball hanging around my neck. It’s heavy weight reminding me of all the death and destruction that follows. A sharp crack echoed through the trees. Even now, Gideon was cowering under his master. Nissa smirked at Stefephon as she combed her hair. No one recognized the shadow looming over our very hearts. An arrows flies and hits the tree just inches from my head. My heart beats wildly and yet, everyone is still calm. Morte lazily picks up his sword, too interested in the hangnail on his forefinger. The shadow shifts, attacking him viciously but Morte’s attitude doesn’t change. With one hand he fights the small figure while stares at his other hand. I stare in horror and awe, unable to comprehend the hand grabbing my wrist before it is too late. Magnolia has reared, tossing me to the side. The ground comes closer to me. A small crack rings in my ears. Something or someone covers my face, muffling the lazy battle. A sweet smell of poppies and lavender wafted into my pores. My head felt heavy, drunk. I struggled to fight but the barring scent weighted on my lungs. My body became a sack of potatoes, easy for the shadow to sling me over it’s shoulder.
“Was I now free from the hand of Stefephon or, did I just fall into a fate worse that before?”