Found Part Forty
Read parts One through Thirty-Nine here.
We trudged on into the darkness, following our mysterious guide. The woods grew denser as we pushed forward, and I found it difficult to keep up. I don’t know how long I can keep this up.
“It’s not much further,” the unknown person called from ahead.
“How do we know you aren’t leading us into a trap?” Cyrus asked.
“Please, trust me,” the person pleaded. “I want to help. I promise we’ll be there soon.”
The lantern light cast strange shadows around us. The light didn’t bounce as candlelight should. The shadows didn’t dance. Its soft amber glow reminded me of the light that used to glow from my staff. I wanted to reach and take it. I longed to feel that warmth in me again.
“The light in that lantern,” I called out. “It’s Magical.” No one answered.
We reached a thick curtain of vines and branches. No more path laid before us. Cyrus rushed forward.
“Where have you led us?” he demanded.
“To safety.” Our guide walked through the curtain, and we were cast in murky blackness. “Come through,” their voice called from beyond. Dasha ran through, and Cyrus hurried her. I stood alone in the dense entanglement of forest we were led to. I was unable, or unwilling, to move. I waited for some sort of intuition to kick in, to tell me whether to follow or run. But nothing in me responded.
The secret savior emerged from behind the curtain, the tawny lantern light illuminating those strange, blue eyes. They extended their hand towards me. I looked at them, trying to make out any other features, but those eyes dominated everything.
“That light is Magical,” I repeated my thought from before. Was it the light that made those eyes stand out like that?
“It is,” they answered. “You are too.”
“Not right now. Not anymore.” They came close and took my hand. A sense of calm and weariness overtook me. My body was heavy with sudden drowsiness, and my head swam with dizziness.
“What have you done to me?” I slurred. Whatever they answered I didn’t hear. Night closed around me, and my body collapsed.
A damp cloth was pressed against my forehead, and my hand was clutched by another. Unknown surroundings greeted me. This seems familiar. The room was small and warm. It was littered with fresh flowers and the scent of tea leaves. Sunlight weaved in around corners, catching different stones and crystals. The plush bed underneath me nestled my hollow body.
“You’re awake,” a voice called. I know that voice. “I’ll go get your friends.” Footsteps trailed away. Before I could call out for them to wait, Dasha appeared in the doorway.
“Nox!” she rushed over and crushed me in a hug.
“What’s going on? Where are we?” She pulled away from me, and I saw Cyrus standing behind her. Neither of them seemed harmed in any way. “Are we safe?”
“It would seem so,” Cyrus answered. He sat in a chair beside the bed, and Dasha perched next to me. “We’re in a small farming village called, Wrencrest. Just off the Farnfoss River.”
“But that’s—” I began.
“I know,” Cyrus said, holding up a hand to stifle my fresh panic. “But we’ve been assured that we are safe here.”
How was that possible? There was no way we could have been safe. I’d known of Wrencrest. I’d been brought there for many a punishment. The Farnfoss River ran behind the castle. I was sure if I looked out the window, I’d be able to see it.
“We can’t be here,” my voice trembled. “I can’t be here.”
“It’s okay,” Dasha soothed me. “We are safe.”
“No, we aren’t! We’ve got to go!” I scrambled up out of the bed. My legs gave out from under me, and I fell to the floor. Cyrus and Dasha shot up. “Why are you still sitting there? We have to go now!” I tried to pull myself up, but I was weak.
“Nox, please calm down,” Dasha said. Cyrus pulled me up, and sat me back in the bed.
“Perhaps I can explain.” That voice. I looked up and saw a person in the doorway. Long, frizzy brown hair, golden complexion, small frame, and those bright, remarkable blue eyes.
“You,” I gasped.
“Hello. Could you two give us a moment, please? It may be easier to talk to him alone.”
“Of course,” Cyrus said.
“I’ll go check in on Papa,” Dasha added. I watched with trepidation as they left me. They aren’t afraid, I thought to myself. This person didn’t seem threatening.
“I won’t harm you,” they said. I stared into those eyes and wanted nothing more than to believe those words. “You can trust me.”
“We’re close to the palace, aren’t we?”
“You can see it from the highest point in Wrencrest.” They sat next to me in the bed, and I pushed myself away. I didn’t understand what was happening. I wanted them as far as I could get, but part of me hoped they’d never leave. A force of some kind seemed to radiant from their skin. It was warmth and solace. It was loneliness and chaos.
“What did you do to me? Why did I fall asleep when you touched me?” We sat in silence for a few moments. I felt drawn to this person in a way I didn’t want. I remembered that flash of jealously I felt when that azure gaze locked onto someone else. What was that feeling?
“I am sorry about that. It was the only way I could think of to get you out of the woods,” they smiled and skooched closer to me. There was no more room for me to back away.
“Sorry, again. I understand you’re uncomfortable with the close proximity of strangers.”
“I’m not,” I breathed, pressed against the wall attempting to put as much distance between us as possible.
“I do apologize. It’s a necessity for me, I’m afraid.”
“I won’t harm you,” they repeated.
“You keep saying that, but I don’t know you. I don’t know why you’ve brought us here, or what you want with me.”
“My name is Lucian. You do know me. We met a long time ago, on your first visit to this town.”
Featured Image by Mystic Art Design, courtesy of Pixabay