Chapter 15: The Journey to Corinn Ada
Table of Contents|
Chapter 14 appeared
in issue 136.
Renson stood on top of his carriage. Andina lay on the ground covered by a blanket. She lay so still the mage could almost believe she was really dead. Everything was going as planned.
Andina’s death had fueled Palance to fight like a soldier enraged by his passion. It was a hard thing to do that to a man, but he and Andina agreed it was necessary. If Palance had not seen her die, he would have fought tentatively. His hesitation to fight without worry for Andina would have gotten him killed.
Looking into the morning sky Renson felt like a man with a mountain on his shoulder. He hoped he could do this. Andina really did need to get hit with that arrow in order for her to believe she was dead. It was the only way. But, he hoped, she didn’t need to get hit in the heart. Just get hurt, he had told her. Once the arrow struck, he could complete the spell. He looked down at her again. She lay very still.
He had enough power left to do the two things he needed to do to ensure they all survived. Concentrating for a moment, he steadied his breathing. He gathered the air about him with a motion of his arm. He felt the air around him stop for just a moment. The rain fizzled away as it hit his robes. Tracing a line with a finger over Andina, he drew a sigil with his other hand until he felt an increase in rain. With a final gesture, he closed both his fists and waited.
He was beginning to think that it wasn’t going to work when Andina stirred. It was a slight movement and then she gasped and sat up clutching her chest. For a couple of moments she coughed and gagged. The blanket fell away from her beautiful face. Struggling and a little groggy, she pushed the blanket off of her. Renson helped her to her feet. The carriage was left in ruins and the ground all around was charred and blackened.
She looked around dazed.
“I’m glad you made it, Andina,” he said softly.
She turned in the direction of his voice. “I can’t see anything, Renson.”
Renson looked at her beautiful face. “It’s only the side effect, Andina. It will go away soon.”
“You healed my wounds,” she inspected herself with her hands. “I don’t even have a scar. What kind of power do you posses that you can heal wounds, as well?”
He nodded even though he knew she couldn’t see him.
She looked up gloomily. “Did he make it?”
He shook his head. “I don’t know. He went and fought the hunter of wolves.”
No!” she cried. “You were supposed to help him, Renson. You promised me.”
Renson had to grab her before she fell. She was still weary from the power of his magical weave. “I didn’t fail to keep my promise, Andina. I helped as much as I could. Your prince should still be alive. He defeated one of the twins.”
She shook her head. “That means he’s the one.”
“Yes, he is, Andina. It is destiny’s work that you fell in love with this man. Come. Careful, your eyesight shall return soon.”
He helped her down the hill avoiding as much of the mud that he could. She stumbled once and he kept her from falling. At the bottom of the hill men were gathering around the fallen prince. Men in black and blue watched him come towards them.
Two huge men in black picked up the prince and slung him over a horse.
“Is he alive?” asked the Seer, who was starting to squint a little.
Kendel came forward. “He’s barely breathing, Madame. I got here barely in time.”
Andina nodded. “Good, Kendel. If he’s breathing he’ll live. I have foreseen it. Where’s Eliath?”
A man with white short, cropped hair strode forward. “I’m here, Seer.”
“Good,” she said. “Have your men join with my horsemen. We will have to travel together now. Our survival depends on it. You men in the Iinnin Lodar do not be afraid. Larson, Soulcryst, guard Palance with your life as you’ve always done. This is Renson. He’s a mage and he’ll protect us as much as he can.”
Renson bowed. Some of the men looked at him intently.
Soulcryst turned to him. He was a fierce-looking man that resembled a hawk. “Are you powerful?”
Renson nodded. “Yes,” he said matter of factly.
The big man stared hard at him. “Then how come you didn’t help him?”
“I did,” explained the mage. He pointed to Alysses. “That man has a sword that protects him from magic. I was useless against him.”
Men moved towards the man Renson pointed at. Andina stopped them. “Stop! Leave him alone. Don’t get near him. Leave all the bodies alone.”
When some of the men hesitated, she said, “I’m sorry, but it needs to be done. If you mess with them, then you disrupt my Seeing, and don’t touch that man’s sword.”
Renson looked up again. The rain lessened, but only momentarily. He called Eliath and Kendel over. Both men came over without protest. Andina left him to go over to Palance’s side.
“We need unity right now,” he stated. “I need your horsemen to surround all the men that are on foot.”
The mage turned to Eliath. “I need your men to surround my carriage. It’s big enough to hold Andina and Palance safely. It will also give them privacy, although I doubt he’ll awaken soon.”
Eliath nodded his consent. “I don’t know you, mage, but I will follow. We trust you implicitly. Andina, Seer of Stonegate, is our daughter.”
Renson only nodded. His focus was on the hills beyond. Clouds still rolled in from every direction to a zenith right over the mage’s head. A sheet of rain was headed straight at them. It was as solid as a wall.
“Quick,” he shouted. “Make the ring! The rain won’t hold out for long!”
Eliath and Kendel instructed their men. Orders were shouted and given. Larson and Soulcryst took their spots at each side of the carriage. Palance was placed inside the carriage and Andina placed his head on her lap. Eliath took the rear and Kendel headed the front. Renson placed himself on top of the carriage. He placed his feet solid on the roof, stretched his arms out, and began tracing sigils and humming words of power to himself.
The soldiers felt the power centering around the mage like a cool breeze. They felt the warmth and the coolness of the gathering energies. None of the horses reacted. Trained in Stonegate, they were used to being around wizards. Many of the men gaped in awe as the ground exploded in the middle of them.
Renson continued to chant. From the ground, the dirt rose and started coalescing. It took only a couple of seconds for everyone to see the dirt was making four distinct figures. Four horses came into being from the mages power. Their eyes were black empty sockets. Their hooves were large rocks gathered from around the hill by the energies. Larson and Soulcryst heard it first. It came like a small breeze and then a slight gust of wind. Then came the stream of voices.
“Let us go...”
“Find a way...”
“Must be free...”
“Listen to them...”
“Now we go...”
“To the other side...”
“To be alive again...”
“Mortal once again...”
Then they paused. They looked like water coalescing into shapes. Formless they were, but like a stream of water they gathered around and passed between the men. At this the horses did whinny. Larson and Soulcryst could hardly believe it. It was a stream of spirits. Their bodies writhed in agony as one by one they sparked once and entered the horses’ bodies.
Renson continued chanting. Larson and Soulcryst watched fascinated. Suddenly a dot of light appeared in each eyeless socket. Then each dot flared to life. Larson and Soulcryst looked away. Flames sprung to life in each socket forming a dark sinister eye, and something else. Each horse was moving its head up and down. They stomped their hooves like real horses.
They were animated. They looked like puppets being pulled by strings.
“Let’s start moving,” commanded the wizard. As one, with each step the carriage horses began to take, all the soldiers began to move as well. It wasn’t that they were being forced they felt prompted. Renson continued to chant.
“The rain is coming!” yelled Kendel over his shoulder.
Renson prepared. When the rain finally hit them, the wizard was ready. The rain stopped high overhead and way to the side of the last man, as if a bubble covered the group of men. The longer they traveled north, the harder the rain tried to beat at them. All they could do was watch as sheet upon sheet of rain pounded against Renson’s invisible bubble.
The men trudged in silence. The ground beneath was turning to mud. Horses began to slip. Men began to slip. Some men stumbled and had to be helped to their feet. Many men were still bleeding from their wounds. Others were exhausted and ready to pitch forward where they walked. Some horses did fall and the riders walked. It was Kendel who finally lifted his hand to halt the company. He stepped off his horse and walked towards Renson. He ignored the animated horses. They were as silent as death.
“Renson, we need to change our course. The rain is not hitting us, but is slowly crushing us. We won’t make it to the border of Acrene Tarrynth if we proceed this way. Half of our remaining horses are ready to drop.”
Eliath came forward. “If we can’t make it to Acrene Tarrynth, then we should go east. Corinn Ada lies that way. We should reach it by nightfall.” He looked up. “Or by sunrise. Whichever comes first.”
Renson listened attentively. “East it is then. Kendel, command all your riders to walk. The raindogs will return soon. They approach us now as we speak. Prepare.”
As if on cue, the barking and baying began. Red eyes appeared all around them. Renson counted. Forty. The wizard hoped his bubble would keep the rain away.
To Corinn Ada then, he thought.
Copyright © 2005 by Julian Lawler