Chapter Eleven: Part Sixteen

Caden passes Kails over to Ayers and then comes back for me. He reaches up and I reach down. Once he has a grip on me I slide sideways off Firelights back and he catches me easily. I blush as I press up against his front, face inches from mine. He seems just as embarrassed as me and looks away.

Once again, I’m saddle sore. The blanket helped. I don’t have as many open wounds as I did this morning. Just a couple but I do have tender patches of skin and more aching muscles than this morning by far.

“True love really is a marvel, isn’t it?” a voice says behind me. I jump and whirl around, startled. The woman is standing behind me, grinning broadly, looking at Caden and me.

I feel myself blush scarlet and risk a glance sideways. Caden is rubbing the back of his neck and his face is turned away. But not far enough away that I can’t see the blush staining his cheek and neck.

“Now could you hold onto Firelight’s halter while I get him a room please?” the woman asks of Caden. He looks confused but he nods, stepping forward and taking the halter from her hands.

“How did you know his name?” Caden asked, putting a gentle hand on Firelight’s soft nose.

“He told me, of course.” The woman says, matter-of-factly, walking over to a large door. She opens it and I see a dining room on the other side.

“Hold on…” she murmurs. She closes the door and taps the handle twice with her fingers before opening it again. I’m shocked to see a completely different room on the other side; a kitchen.

The woman closes the door and repeats the process, tapping the handle and opening the door. This time it’s what looks like an alchemist’s work room.

“Darn it!” she exclaims. She slams the door a little harder than necessary, startling a small cry from Emma behind me. I quickly turn around and rush to her, murmuring soothing words to her and patting her hair and shoulders.

“Ah-ha!” the woman cries out behind me. I turn around and see that the door now opens into a horses stable.

“Alright, come on then, Firelight.” The woman says, turning around and holding the door open. Without any further prompting, Firelight turns and walks through the door, ducking his head elegantly at the woman as he passes.

Caden steps forward and follows Firelight through the door. The rest of us stand patiently in the hallway waiting while Caden gets his horse prepared for the night.

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Chapter Eleven: Part Fifteen

After a few moments the door opens to reveal a young woman with a mess of wild brown hair. She’s dressed in an overlarge tunic that hangs off a shoulder and a pair of patched leggings. She takes one look at Ayers and her eyes widen and she gasps.

“Your highness!” I hear her murmur. She quickly darts out and shoves him unceremoniously inside. I have to laugh as he stumbles through the door, turning to throw a glare at both the girl for pushing him and me for laughing. Out of the corner of my eye I see Caden’s shoulders shaking and a hand covering his mouth, suppressing his own laughter.

“Come in! Come in!” she exclaims, rushing down the steps toward us. She reaches forward and, without a pause for the massive beast, places a hand on Firelights nose. He leans forward into it and I feel the horse heave out a sigh below me.

“Come now,” she murmurs, voice tinged with magic. She walks backwards up the walkway to the house leading the horse, me and the girls still resting on his back.

“What are you doing?” Caden exclaims, rushing up beside us, staring incredulously at the woman as she leads Firelight up the steps and through the front door.

It doesn’t seem like he should fit through the small doorway but he does. I instinctively duck, nearly bending the girls over backwards as I do, expecting to hit the doorframe but we pass under it harmlessly.

“Shut the door, please.” The woman asks of Caden once Firelight is all the way in the entryway. Kails is looking around us in awe. I am too.

The house is gorgeous, if unusual. It all feels a tad surreal, however. I am sitting on the back of a horse in the middle of an entryway that looks like it would be much too large to fit inside the small house that we saw from the outside.

Caden shuts the front door behind us and then comes up to my side, reaching up expectantly. I bend forward and, with my arm around Kails’ waist, slide her sideways off the horse. She reaches as I slide her off and lands safely in Caden’s waiting arms.

Ayers comes up and he and I coax Emma off. She’s just as scared as she was the first time but still goes willingly into Ayers’ embrace. He steps back and stands against the wall, putting Emma on her feet and holding tightly to her hand.

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Chapter Eleven: Part Thirteen

Authors Note: If anyone is actually reading these posts and not just liking them, it would be wicked awesome to get some feedback on my writing and plots and such. The only feedback I get is from my sister. She says it’s all really good but she’s family so her opinion is a little biased so… please and thank you!  -Lisa

 

Hours pass. I can feel the saddle sores forming again and every step the horse takes is agony. We pass through the rest of the forest and are in open farmland after a while. Numerous farms go by and people call out to us passing from the fields but we don’t stop.

Throughout the day, both girls are extremely bored and I tell them stories as the day passes, my voice growing more breathy as the hours go by, pain forcing me to gasp as I talk.

It’s well after dark when we see the Citadel in the distance, shining with light. I gasp in awe at the beauty. The Citadel and the surrounding city are shining like a jewel in the dark and it’s beautiful.

It takes us almost another two hours and everyone is drained again by the time we reach the city. Kails and Emma are both asleep again while Ayers and Caden are both panting hard, worn through with exhaustion.

Ayers takes the halter from Caden and he leads us through the streets. I’m looking right and left at the various shops and houses. Most are made of flat planked wood or stone and it’s all very beautiful and a lot more high-class than I’m used to.

It’s so late that most of the streets are empty. We pass a couple pubs which are still bustling but all the shops are closed and most of the homes are shut up tight with no lights.

Soon, we’re standing in front of a worn down house which doesn’t look like it should be standing. It’s very haphazard in the way it was built. There are rooms built out at odd intervals, a tall skinny tower which shouldn’t be able to support its own weight, and overgrown gardens. It’s a drastic difference than the houses on either side, both of which are neat and tidy looking.

I can feel the magic in the air around the house. It’s resonating deep within my chest and I can feel it vibrating in my bones. It’s obviously magic keeping the house upright when it shouldn’t be standing at all.

Ayers hands the halter back to Caden and goes up to the house and knocks hard on the door. Both girls rouse a bit in my arms at the loud noise. Kails lifts her head from my chest and looks around, blinking blearily.

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Chapter Eleven: Part Thirteen

Caden shakes out the blanket we’d been resting on and throws it over Firelight’s back. Then he places the saddlebags over the blanket, arranging them so they’re rested comfortably on the horses back.

Ayers is standing next to me, holding a content Emma in his arms while I have Kails in mine. He’s looking at me, confused. Then he looks down at my legs and I blush at his scrutiny. I had decided not to wear a skirt, even though I feel ashamed of not doing so, but it would be easier to ride the horse without the extra cloth restricting my legs.

“What happened to your saddle sores?” Ayers asks suddenly. I flush and look away, fear rising up in my chest.

“They’ve all healed.” I say quietly, staring hard at the ground. Caden stops his adjusting and turns to look at me, shock lining his features. Ayers is looking at me as well, eyes wide. I sigh in resignation.

“Since my seal is broken completely, I suppose I’m able to access my magic.” I explain, gesturing to my legs with my free arm. “I healed myself without thinking about it.” Ayers and Caden both stare at me, eyes wide. I sigh and gesture to Firelight.

“We don’t have much time. I don’t have much time. We need to get moving.” I say impatiently. This gets them moving. Ayers comes forward and reaches for Kails. It takes some maneuvering but after a minute he has both Kails and Emma nestled safely in his arms.

Caden comes forward and I blush, looking him in the eye, remembering the kiss. His face colors a bit as well and I know he’s thinking of the same thing.

He bends down and cups his hands together for me. I put my foot in his hands and he easily lifts me up. I swing my leg over Firelight’s back and settle myself comfortably, muscles twitching at the body memory of the saddle sores.

Ayers comes forward and, after a moment of prompting on Emma’s part, takes her from Ayers’ arms and lifts her up to me. Kails is passed up a moment later and, once we’re all three settled on the horse, we head out.

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Chapter Eleven: Part Twelve

I quickly build a small fire and, after cleaning the rabbit, set it to roast over the edge of the fire. Once that’s done, I go through my backpack to see what all was taken and what remains.

I’m pleasantly surprised to find that my swan dress is still in my bag, as is all my clothing. The only things missing are Gannen’s mirror, my money pouch, and, most heart wrenchingly, my books. The child’s story book from my parents and the storybook from my Aimad.

I allow myself to grieve for the loss only for a few moments before I pull myself together and change into clean clothing. I make sure to put on one of my long sleeved tunics to hide the scars. I can’t stand to look at them right now.

I’m pulling on a fresh pair of leggings when I notice an unusual lack of pain on my thighs. I pull the leggings back down a bit and look at the skin. Where earlier there were scabs and scores, now there is only clean skin. The dried blood and other fluids is still there, but all the open wounds have closed.

I finish pulling the leggings up and lace them up, stretching my muscles experimentally as I do. There’s no lingering pain at all. None of my muscles are stiff or sore and it seems like all my open wounds have closed.

I stand beside the fire for a few moments, staring down at my boots, trying to decide why this has happened. The only answer I can come up with is that my body healed itself with the use of my magic. This scares me because, if I’m using my magic, this means that my seal is well and truly broken.

Once I finish changing, I brush out my hair and plait it into one long braid to keep it out of the way. I repack my bag and make sure everything is folded neatly in order to pass the time.

I wait until the rabbit is cooked and cooling before I wake everyone up. Caden and Ayers both have no problems waking up. They immediately converge on the rabbit and start eating while I go about waking up the girls and getting them dressed and cleaned up.

Emma is very calm and stays sitting on the blanket, eating from the piece of rabbit I gave her, while Kails is a bubbling mass of energy, running around and looking at everything, babbling a mile a minute. She always comes back to me, however.

She’ll be jumping around, stealing bites of food from Ayers or Caden, before turning and running back to me and wrapping her skinny arms around me for a moment before going off again.

We move quickly, however. Everyone finishes eating and gets their belongings together and packed back into their respective bags.

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Sara’s Vessel Soul

Sara's Vessel Soul

Another drawing I did in high school of Sara and her Vessel Soul.

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Sara age 17

Sara age 17

A picture I drew of my character Sara back when I was in high school. So… about four years ago. The little cat thing was a familiar she had for a while before I scrapped the idea. And, since I increased her age to 17, she’s actually 17. Not 16.

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