Monday, July 1, 2013

Friends and Enemies // Chapter Five // The Calm Before the Storm

 Knock knock. Willow grunted, then used one hand to hold her in-progress hairdo and pulled the hair pins out of her teeth with her other hand. "Who is it?" she called.
"Kadesh," a guy's voice replied.
   "Come in," she invited, turning back to face the mirror, returning to her hair preparation.
   Nineteen year old Kadesh poked his head into the room. "Killian wants to know if you're ready," he informed her. She grunted again.
   "Not quite. Have you ever tried to do a braided bun thing without help?"
   Kadesh couldn't help laughing. "No, never." She glared at him. He choked, but managed to stop chuckling. "But I have helped my sister with her hair from time to time. I could try to help you with your, ahem, "braid bun thing"."
   Willow pointed wordlessly to the brush on her nightstand. He took it and managed to help her twist her unruly dark brown hair into its assigned style.
   "Thanks Kadesh," she sighed with relief. "I'm not used to doing my hair {in the more complicated styles} on my own, I guess."
   He shrugged. "Happy to help. Now we must get going or Killian will burst a blood vessel."
   I almost wish he would! Willow thought rather spitefully as she followed Kadesh down the winding stone steps. The last few days in Essgarothe had been rather hectic as they all prepared for {what they were all sure was going to be} a rather electric confrontation. Plans were thought of, discarded, chosen and modified. Roles were finalized. Partners were assigned. Weapons were prepared. Clothing was selected. And through all of this Willow was getting to know all of them.
   She had been introduced to many youths, but Sir Richard's son, Kadesh, had become a pretty good friend. He seemed to generally like her and offered to watch over her for the "duration of her stay" as Killian put it.
   Willow's personal opinion was that Killian liked to make sarcastic comments about her, probably because anyone else would have given him a black eye. Not that she couldn't, but he was at least six inches taller than her. That didn't help the situation much either.
   She had been assigned to attend the council with Kadesh, disguising themselves as a peasant brother and sister.
   Killian had been put in charge of the operation, with Emmeth overseeing. They had all been debating if he should be there himself. Side #1 was that if he went he could inspire the people with his presence. Side #2 was that he could get captured or killed if he attended.
   I'm not sure that his uncle wants to kill him. Willow thought uneasily. She had an uncomfortable feeling about that idea, and wondered what on earth it could possibly mean. Maybe he has more sinister plans for Emmeth, and not just a thirst for power. But whatever it is, it can't be good.
   Her musing were interrupted by Killian impatiently remarking, "That took you long enough." Kadesh shot her a warning look, just in case. She rolled her eyes back at him sarcastically. They both so reminded her of Cole.
"Are you ready? You're assigned to enter the capital by tomorrow morning. We're lucky a rainstorm delayed the Council for a week so we had time to prepare," Killian remarked.
   Kadesh nodded. "We're ready. We'll stay at Condereth with some of my relatives overnight, than enter the capital tomorrow morning at about ten o'clock."
   Killian nodded. "Good. Now remember, we can't have a scene at the council. Unless we give the signal, everyone must stay put," he instructed, giving Willow a long look. She narrowed her eyes.
   Kadesh nudged her. "Shall we? We don't want to be caught in a rainstorm on the way to Condereth," he commented, taking her elbow and leading her towards the tallest turret in the precise center of Essgarothe to let Emmeth know they were leaving. Knocking gently on the door at the top of the stairs, Willow pushed it open.
   "Emmeth? Kadesh and I are leaving now."
   Emmeth looked up from the table full of maps, his eyes baggy with lack of sleep. "All right. The Author be with you," he said, using a traditional Codebearer farewell.
   They waved and headed back down the spiraling steps down to a map in a frame on the stone wall. Kadesh pushed it to the side, revealing an surprisingly wide opening, then joined his hands together and nodded for Willow to put her foot into his makeshift step. She stepped gracefully into his joined hands and crawled into the opening, stopping for him to catch up.
   There were at least a hundred different secret entrance/exits in Essgarothe. It was tons of fun to learn were all of them were located. Some were in walls behind picture frames. Some were in the floor, under rugs. Some were even in the ceiling.
   Kadesh crawled ahead of her after he readjusted the map over their escape route. "Come," he directed, starting forward. Now, if you've ever crawled on your hands and knees through a spiderwebby, dusty and dark tunnel, you'll know what I'm talking about. This was obviously one of the "less frequently used" tunnels, as Kadesh put it. I should say! Willow grumbled to herself as she inched forward, already hot and perspiring. The air was starting to get stifling. Then it finally ended when Kadesh shoved a tattered cloth curtain aside and slithered out of the hole. Willow gasped for the cool, damp air as she tumbled {ungracefully} out of the tunnel.
   "Ew," she shuddered, trying in vain to brush the dirt off of her dress and pulling the dusty webs out her hair.
   Kadesh smothered a smile as he picked webs out of his hair. "Here we are. We're just a couple of hours outside Condereth. It shouldn't take us too long to walk to my aunt's abode." Willow nodded and trotted after him down a cobbled pathway. They sure do talk weird here, she mused. I wonder if they notice how different I talk from them? Willow was from the Veil, from the US, so her way of speaking was totally different from the Tashrians. She sounded streetwise, while they sounded old-fashioned. They do sound pretty cool though. I almost wish that I could talk like that.
   They walked in silence for a good long while until they passed through a picturesque little village.
   "My uncle and aunt live about a mile outside of town," Kadesh explained.
   Clambering over a waist-high {for Willow} stone wall and into a quaint English-style garden, Kadesh hurried up to the back door and rapped lightly. An attractive older lady with brownish and kind grey eyes opened the door and greeted him.
   "Kadesh, my dear nephew! I've not seen you for a while! And what brings you here, so far from my dear brother-in-law's province?" the lady asked sweetly.
   Kadesh smiled at his aunt. "Aunt Adira*, this young lady and I are traveling to the capital for the Council of Knights," he explained, gesturing to Willow. The lady smiled kindly.
   "Hello, dear. Why don't you both come in and have a cup of tea? My husband is away, he's attending the Council as well, he will be so sad he missed you," she invited.
   Willow immediately liked this lady, and she only liked her more once they were shown into a pleasant parlor and told to stay put until she could prepare some snacks. 
   "You sure have a nice aunt," Willow commented as she took in the decor.
   Kadesh nodded. "She's my mother's sister. She's always been kind to us. As has my uncle. You'll probably meet him later."
   They didn't have time to converse any longer as Aunt Adira bustled through the door with a tray piled high with buttered and jammed scones and piping hot tea. Willow's mouth watered as she politely chose a scone and a delicate tea cup and saucer.
   "Thank you for having us, Ma'am," Willow offered, unsure of how to address their host. Adira's eyes twinkled merrily at her young guest.
   "Love, please call me Aunt Adira. Even the prince calls me that, and I much prefer it over "ma'am" or "lady"," she insisted. "But I am not privy to your name, my young miss. Who are you, and where are you from?"
   Willow glanced at Kadesh for approval. He nodded, then spoke up.
   "Dearest Aunt, this is the prophet from the Chosen Four from the Author's Writ. Her name is Willow Elvish-grace. I have been assigned to escort her to the Council," Kadesh hurriedly explained.
   "Oh my goodness! Is this true?" Willow blushed and nodded. "Think of it! I am entertaining the very one who will help the prince set all to right here!" cried Adira.
   The distant chiming of a church tower clock set her mind back to the task at hand.
   "Well, you'll both stay here tonight, of course. I will go upstairs right now and prepare your rooms. Why don't you two finish eating, then I will come and fetch you, and we can all read the Writ together before we go to sleep," Adira insisted, getting up and brushing off her skirt. She was halfway up the stairs before Willow or Kadesh could offer the help her.
   Willow grinned at Kadesh. "Your aunt sure knows how to take charge!"
   Kadesh grinned back. "Quite! Now, let's finish these scones so we can get a good nights sleep and get an early start tomorrow."


"Wow! This is the softest nightgown I've ever worn!" Willow gasped as she fingered the embroidered slim-fitting nightdress. "It's beautiful! Did you make it yourself?"
   Adira beamed. "My dear husband purchased it for me at the capital last year. I already have a nightdress, so I stored it away for a time. And now I give it to you to keep forever."
   Willow's jaw dropped. "Oh no, I can't keep this! I mean, it's yours!"
   She smiled sweetly. "You need it more than I do, dearie. Now come along down to the parlor so we can have our devotions." Smiling, Adira took Willow's elbow and led her down the stairs. It was dark outside now, and the parlor was illuminated by at least a dozen candles. Willow took a seat on a cushy chair, while their host took a seat on the couch next to Kadesh. She gently lifted the Writ from his hands and settled it on her lap.
   "As iron sharpens iron, so we sharpen each other," she read. She then continued to read the passage, her gentle voice lulling the teens to sleep. Willow and Kadesh fought to keep their eyes open, but the gentle summer warmth, the flickering candles, the cushy seats and the soft lulling of Adira's voice was too much for them.


"Wakey wakey sleepyheads!" a musical voice teased. Willow yawned and blinked in the morning sun. Where am I? Oh right. Man, this chair is really comfortable. On the couch across from her, Kadesh was rubbing sleep out of his eyes.
   "Come into the dining room and get your breakfast once you get changed, you hear?" Adira chirped from the kitchen.
   "Yes Aunt!" Kadesh agreed, shoving the blanket she had draped over him aside and clattering up the stairs. Willow {much less enthusiastically} blearily pushed aside the blanket and dragged herself up the tidily swept wooden steps.
   She found her clothes neatly folded on the clean bedspread in her room. Wow. Talk about showing hospitality. This lady's got it down in an art form! She dressed quickly in her borrowed dress and adjusted her now messy braided bun.   Then racing Kadesh down the steps, they both arrived breathless at the kitchen table. Adira waved a wooden spoon at them.
  "Kadesh, be a dear and set the table, would you?" she asked.
   "Of course," Kadesh agreed, grabbing a stack of china plates, embroidered napkins and pewter utensils.
   "Anything I can do?" Willow asked, glancing at the clock to check the time.
   Adira smiled. "Could you please bring the food into the dining room?"
   Willow nodded. "Sure," she agreed, balancing the plates easily and delivering them to the table. Kadesh held her and his aunt's chair for them. Adira smiled warmly at them.
   "Let us say grace," she offered, and all bowed their heads and folded their hands. "Dearest Author, please watch over these young people as they strive to bring justice upon your enemies. Please allow the Council to go well, and that no blood would be shed. And please protect my husband. And please bless this food and that it would give us strength. Amen," she prayed.
   "Please pass the biscuits," Kadesh requested. Willow handed him the basket after helping herself to two.
   "This is really good, Aunt Adira," Willow complimented after taking a bite.
   Adira smiled at her. "Thank you, dear."
   Once they were all finished, Kadesh cleared his throat. "We should be getting on now. But thank you, dear aunt, for this calm before the storm."

Stay tuned for the next chapter, The Council of Knights!

Condereth: Cohn-der-eh-th
Adira: Uh-die-ruh
Kadesh: Kuh-deh-sh


  1. This book is destined to become a classic someday. I mean it! How on earth can you write so well? Seriously, it's like reading this New York Times bestseller, only better. <3

    I love how you described Aunt Adira's adobe. And you made Kadesh sound so, I don't know, REAL. I'd love to meet him! Course I'd love to meet everone in your stories. Except the bad guys. :D


    1. Thanks so much! I really appreciate the feedback!


We are so happy that you have decided to say something about one of our stories! Also, our blog has four authors and four books going, so please make sure that you are commenting to the right person. But please keep in mind that if your comment is in anyway inappropriate, it will not be posted. Speak, friend, and enter :)