Friday, March 8, 2013

Friends and Enemies: Chapter Two: The Secret Way

Yay! I've finally finished the second chapter!

Emmeth's decision to bring Willow to his headquarters of Essgarothe by a route called The Secret Way was made wisely, for on Tashra {a planet living in a style like of that in the movie Prince Caspian} the Shadow had a strong hold, and persecuted the Codebearers {who made up almost all of the population} mercilessly {even sending some to the dreaded Shadow Games held on Dolor twice a year}. And because of the de-thronement of Emmeth's father {who was a Codebearer} Tashra was no more a Resistance planet, but a Empire/Shadow planet. And for that, the Shadow gave King Tashmath {Emmeth's evil uncle} a thousand orc soldiers for use as an army. 
They were used to patrol the Forbidden Forest {literally forbidden, for they used it as an orc camp} and demanded ID on anyone they caught. Even with ID, they'd most likely send you to the slave market anyway, especially if they were in sour moods.
   And that was why Emmeth was escorting Willow to Essgarothe by this secret path. It was really just a worn footpath through the Forbidden Forest {which really was not very foreboding at all, but really quite pleasant, in the daylight of course}.
   "It's really quite pleasant," she remarked thoughtfully, gazing about at the trees {being 'Elvish-grace' of the second gold ring, she naturally liked woods and plants and the like}.
   "Yes, quite pleasant. When there are no orcs around. They live here, in this forest. Acursed things," he replied.
   "So why are you taking me to this 'Essgarothe' place? It's your headquarters, right?" the young Prophetess asked curiously.
   Emmeth grinned and replied. "Yes, it is our headquarters. It's the safest place, mostly because it's very hard to find. And the orcs hate it. They think it's haunted or something. Fools." He offered his hand to Willow to assist her in clambering over a fallen log across the path.
   Accepting his assistance, she leapt easily over the log. "Why do they think it's haunted? Was there a battle there or something?" she asked, adjusting her sword belt.
   Emmeth shrugged. "I'm not sure. When he arrives, you should ask Sir Richard, for he is very adept in these matters. He seems to know everything."
   "Only the Author knows everything," countered the Prophetess. "But I've known one or two people like that. One in particular. He's a *Shining One, actually."
   "A Shining One? Whom, may I ask?" asked the young prince.
   "His name is Estburn. He trained us when we were first chosen," she answered.
   "Ah, I've heard of him. I met him once, actually. Quite a pleasant fellow."
   A sudden crashing sound erupted from the bushes, startling them.
   Emmeth grabbed Willow's arm. "Hurry, to those large oaks. We can climb them to be out of reach of the orcs." No sooner had he whispered that when four hideous orcs leapt out of the foliage and surrounded them in a wide circle.
   "Well, well well. What do we have here?" rasped the most horrible of the beasts. "Travelers? Losts? Speak!"
   Emmeth attempted to gather his wits. He knew very well that if any of the royal guard saw him {which they would if the orcs captured them} they would recognize him instantly. And if these orcs didn't report back to their camp by the appointed time, which would happen if they disposed of them, they'd search the forest. Thankfully, Willow put his mind to rest by coming up with a handy solution.
   Reaching into the large pocket on her trousers, she pulled out a handful of ripe strawberries, which Teclemith had packed them for a snack. They looked very tasty, and she knew that the orcs probably didn't get a whole lot to eat, and they would be quite excited to get a bit of yummy strawberry. She was right. The minute they saw the gleaming fruits they stopped stock still.
   Then, in a sing-song voice, Willow called. "Treats! Strawberries!" The orcs looked greedily at the strawberries.
   "Treats?" they chorused.
   "Yes, treats. Go get them!" then using the Author's Force, she threw the berries down the path behind them and into the trees and down a short ravine. Without a second thought the orcs hurled themselves after the fruits, cursing and clawing at each other as they raced after their treats.
   "Quick!" Emmeth grabbed her wrist and darted down the path, then to a tangle of blackberry bushes. A tiny tunnel wound through the brambles, which forced them to crawl of their hands and knees for at least ten minutes. Finally, Emmeth slowed his pace. "We'll rest here for a moment, I don't believe that they're following us."
   Willow dropped down and leaned against a tree, panting with weariness. Emmeth surveyed their surroundings, muttering to himself.
   "It will take another three hours to reach Essgarothe from the Ruined Place, so we should stop there for the night." he explained. Willow pinched her lips together. He could tell that she thought it wasn't proper. And it wasn't, but there were several hidden rooms in the Ruined Place, so they could both stay in separate rooms.
   Willow shrugged. "Lovely. But what's this 'Ruined Place' thing anyway?"
   Emmeth pointed through a thick knot of trees. "The Ruined Place is right over yonder, and the orcs and such hate it. It's actually quite lovely, in the sun and not at night."
    She squinted through the thicket. "You mean that old church looking building?"
   "Yes. We've used it as a hideout at times. It's equipped with several rooms. It should be safe." Her eyebrows went up at the should, but she said nothing.
   "Okay, so you're, like, sure we'll be safe there?" Willow asked, twirling a piece of her dark chocolate colored hair that had escaped her ponytail. "I mean, waking up in the middle of the night to fight for my life isn't exactly normal with me, though I've had to do it a fair amount of times."
   Emmeth smiled. "Then you'll feel perfectly at home here. Come, we have still about fifteen more minutes of walking until we get to the Ruined Place."
   Though the Ruined Place seemed rather close from where they viewed it from the clump of trees, in reality it did take about fifteen minutes to reach it, mostly because of the blackberry bushes that threatened to choke the miniscule footpath that ran through them. The trousers that Willow had borrowed now had a few rips in them, thanks to the bushes, but she ignored that when she got the full effect of the Ruined Place. The sun was going down, but it was summer, so the light was soft and golden.
   The Ruined Place was an old church, and an immense one at that. It stretched high into the now pale purple sky, it's pale stones rough with age. It was obviously pretty old. Emmeth led Willow to a rope that hung down over one of the walls, hanging down from a turret.
   Climbing it took a while, mostly because climbing a rope that high took a while, and the fact that Willow really never liked climbing like that, so she didn't practice it very much, making it even harder for her.
   Finally, sweaty and panting they made it to the top. The view was, in Willow's words, majestic. Emmeth pointed out that it was fine, if you liked woods and sky.
   He then led her to what she supposed was some sort of meeting room where the food had been stored. Well, bread, cheese and some water. But hey, when you're hungry, bread, cheese and water are pretty awesome.
   The Ruined Place was really a pretty cool old place. Even though it was falling apart, it had an air of mystery behind it. And reverence. There were plants growing out of random cracks in it's massive walls, and a small pool of water had gathered beneath a dangling rope, which Emmeth said had been placed there by his group, so you could climb down easily.
   After a short meal {of the bread, cheese and water} Emmeth showed Willow to a surprisingly comfortable hidden room, then departed for another hidden room, somewhere down the hall, he said.
   Willow waited until she heard Emmeth close the door to his room, then collapsed onto the bed. Closing her eyes, she prayed, "Thank you for helping us get away from those orcs. And please, help me to find out what I'm supposed to do here."
   Then exhaustion overwhelmed her, and she fell into a deep sleep.

Stay tuned for the next installment, Chapter Three: Essgarothe

*Shining Ones are specially chosen by the Author to carry out certain tasks throughout different worlds.