Hi guys, sorry again for the delay in this one-won't bore you with details. Instead, here is chapter 12! Please let me know what you think-I'll try and get the next one up this week.
Light blasted in an already darkening sky. Above the earth a tiny patch of the world swirled, growing larger and larger, it was quite close to the ground when four small figures were thrown from its cavernous mass. Some of them still looked as if they were running; they lay there winded, exhausted and numbed from what they had seen.
Raven hated travelling through the Portal in his winged form, it was dangerous and took a terrific amount of concentration to stay on course, but it had been the only form of escape. After all they had seen that day, he couldn't stand that he had to force the children through more. Painful travel was bound to crush the last of their fortitude. He was still trying to come to terms with the fact that he had let another die.
'If I can't protect them what use am I? The fate of Morae weighs on all of us. How can we succeed if I can't protect them from harm? I will not risk losing another,' he pledged to himself, 'They are too young to face such odds. They are brave and true but have no experience, how can I let them face such peril as prophesied? They did not ask for this burden, they do not deserve it. Two have already paid the price."
He resolved as he flew not to lead the rest to Malgar and death but he, and only he alone should face him and finish what was started a millennium ago.
He soared out into a sombre twilight, rich, deep valley grass a green blanket beneath. He changed, his light feet a far cry from his heavy heart. The children had dragged themselves up reluctantly, most looked how he felt though he dare not show his true emotions. Only three were standing. His eyes softened a moment as he saw Taifrae once again curled like a squashed mouse. She began to pick herself up. Raven stooped low offering his hand to her.
In the half-light he saw the fear in her eyes.
She pulled herself away from him. Confusion and horror on her face. She struggled up alone. Raven still crouched, stared first at his empty hand and then at the children, all but Kayra had eyes cast low.
It struck Raven as a blow to his chest, that the look in Taifrae's eyes was not of sadness, remorse or even reproach for another bruising journey, but one of cold, unblinking terror. The children were frightened of him! Their guide, sworn to protect them and they were afeared.
He saw now why they kept clear of his steps. Had his power been so terrible? To destroy a dark creature was his duty, even in such anger at the loss of Morri. It had been so for an age and his parents' time before that. All Skyes were bound to the protection of the tribes against the dark forces of the world.
It seemed only Kayra could bear to meet his eyes. Mind reeling, he stood, straightened and strode on. He led them a little way on till they reached a great oak with shelter clinging to its branches, here he stopped.
The children busied themselves with unpacking their rugs whilst Raven called forth a fire to heat a pot of stew, which lay unassumingly by his feet. The meal swiftly cooked was eaten in silence; Raven perched on a boulder, at the base of the tree, touched nothing, eyes deep in thought, face expressionless. Exhausted by the day's harrowing events, the children, confused and frightened and greatly saddened, fell into an uneasy rest. Only Kayra remained, sitting alert, turmoil reflected in her emerald eyes. She sat by the fire, concentrating on the tamed flames, tending with a broken branch.
Raven was unsure whether he should speak or not, he knew Kayra did not fear him but she had been through too much today, more than he ever feared they would have to. He sensed Kayra and Morri were close friends, he wondered if she blamed him for his death.
"She has every right." He thought darkly. It was his fault. He, Raven had failed them yet again. It should only be him facing Malgar; after all it was Raven who held the responsibility for Malgar's continued existence. He decided to speak. "Kayra it is late, the day has been harrowing, you should take some rest."
Kayra said nothing, merely sitting in silence gazing at the smoking flickers. He knew she'd heard him maybe speaking was too much after today. He knew thoughts were better for quiet but maybe, his brow furrowed, "She does blame me," He was about to stand, to take watch in the trees when she spoke.
"Does it ever frighten you?" The words were small, tremors running though them but they rang heavy with resonance.
"Does what ever frighten me?"
"Your power, that you can do so much with one flick of your hand, with one breath of your voice, does it ever scare you?" Her wide, green eyes found his, full of the fear she'd fighting to hide.
Ah, so here was her concern. He wondered if she had been keeping stoic in the face of her comrades. Raven considered, trying to choose his words carefully, to defend himself without frightening her further.
"No, not in the way you mean. I grew up around people who used this power over day to day affairs so I am used to such strength of magic. It was how my parents used theirs before and their parents before them. Fear and uncertainty fade with experience and time."
"But what of control? I have no idea of how to harness what is inside me and you can do it with a hand or word. I can't. It scares me that I don't know when it will take over again." Her nerve failed her, casting her eyes back to watch the dancing flames almost whispering her final fear, " I might be looking at one of us next time."
Realisation hit him like a blow to the jaw. This was something he had not expected. She was frightened of her OWN power? The tree demon she destroyed so eloquently? How could she fear what was her natural birthright? Then he considered, calm rational marshalling his thoughts. When he was young this would have been commonplace. But now? Children and their powers, their earth-given magic are nought but legend and tales for infants. Children of today had no knowledge of this, no understanding. The worst breeding ground for fear.
Raven leaned forward a little, keen to allay the terror in her eyes, "Kayra, you forget I have had an age to learn and practice, you, only a day. The tribe I belong to were born with certain abilities, more magical than the other the other six. I learned from a young age to harness my own. Your power comes from deep inside you, as does mine and the rest of the warriors. It is why you are the chosen ones, the prophecy foretold, but you must remember, you have only found yours today. It will take a lifetime to truly understand it. It takes great concentration to use even more to harness it as a weapon and its takes strength from you in the process."
At his words she softened a little but there was more to learn.
"Am I wrong then to feel strong after such a day? My mind feels cleaved in two. One half despairs at Morri's fate, but the other half feels as though nothing could harm me, by fire, ice or earth. I don't, I don't understand." She bowed her head, shoulders slumping.
Raven ignored his warning thoughts, following his knowledge she needed help and comfort. He sat by her, "Kayra."
She looked up at him, suddenly looking long past her 12 years, her eyes old and knowing as though she could read his thoughts. "I know there wasn't anything you could do. There was nothing any of us could do, it happened so fast." She swallowed hard, trying to form the next words, " I can't let myself dwell on Morri, if I do my heart stops and sinks like iron," She cleared her throat, "anyway it is Evro who bears the guilt, which is uncalled for." She sighed, "I know the others fear you."
"Yet you do not." His question lay behind the words, he wanted to know the reasoning."No" she looked straight at him in an emerald blaze. You are sworn to protect and lead and us from harm. I know you bear us no ill will. The others will see that, it's just that you seem so different. Angered, powerful and terrible. Your voice changed, deeper and harsher, that is what made them afraid." "What of you? What darkness today brings such terror to your soul?" "It's the power" she whispered, "when it has been wielded by my hand or yours, it only brings destruction."
"But I have told you already that my people used such powers in daily life for harmless action easing toil or building great edifices. Does that not bring you any comfort?"
"Not enough; that was the oldest days, now times are dark all I have seen with my eyes are destruction and death. I fear a darkness lives inside me, brought me the power to destroy life in any form. It scares me."
Raven finally understood; he frowned remembering his own troubles learning how to wield his powers wisely; it had taken him days to learn the simplest enchantments. But Kayra was learning like an apprentice in the dark, cold and afraid. He frowned again; he found it harder than usual to push memories of his family from his mind. He spoke again.
"Kayra, do not be afraid, no malice lies in your heart, for I can see into your soul. Turmoil fills you but you shall find your own balance in time when you can direct your actions at will. You only dealt with that demon in such a way because it was the sheer volume of energy being awakened after lying quiet for so many years. Your energy was untouched in order to preserve your life. And mine, well…"
"Please," She beseeched him, "go on I want to hear."
"Tis a dark tale. Bitterness and woe still bite strong. When I was young on the earth, I lived with my people, Clanock of Ravens, part of the seventh tribe, Skye. I lived as any child did with parents and friends."
"Did you have a different name then?" She asked, unable to bite her tongue in time.
"I did, Draconfen, son of Flacondren, leader of the Raven Clanock. When Malgar rose the first time, we joined with the rest of the people of Morae. The last time the seven tribes were united. I was a boy of fourteen, proud to fight for my people. Malgar could roam free and smote many of our numbers with terrible spells, deep in dark magic. Many, many good people died that day. Malgar slew my family before my eyes. I fought him. That was when my true power was awakened, the only thing which kept me alive. I destroyed Malgar and imprisoned his blackened soul deep in the bowels of the earth in an attempt to bring an end to his terror."
He sighed, trying to shake the all-to-clear memories from his vision,
"My power is based on experience and ancient spells. I have fought in many a great battle and sharpened my skills for defence and attack. Even now I wield my skill with great care for it can bring terrible damage to the natural order if the world's balance is disturbed too greatly. It is Malgar's presence which so upends the scale as we speak, why Morae is so changed and demons walk freely; only we stand in the way of his conquest. Today," He struggled to find the right words, " I…I had not lost my control like that for many a year. It was just such anger and pain boiled inside me that I could not save Morri."
"I place no blame on you, Raven, no blame on any of us," Her voice gaining strength once more, the flame cast shadows on her face fading in the fires that burnt within her once more. "Morri gave his life for friendship and I know that he would want no guilt on us for his fate. You are our guide and I will follow where you lead." The conviction in her voice was deeply heartening, " You have given great comfort with your words, thank you. I am sorry for your kin. We shall rid Morae of Malgar together."
Raven smiled at her.
"That we shall, but first Kayra, you must get some rest, the evening wanes and midnight approaches. We shall be in need of haste on the morrow dawn. Sleep now, I shall take the watch."
Raven stood and walked a little away to the shadows then changed, soaring higher to the leafy sanctuary above, watching over the four slumbering children. Kayra's last wakeful thought wondered if Raven ever slept himself.
Raven's mind was far too full of warring thoughts to even contemplate rest; he now knew the children didn't trust him as much as before. Fear was a terrible weapon, and one of the hardest demons to fight. Now he couldn't act as he'd planned. He'd wanted to lead the children away from Malgar, leave them in safety and face him alone to finish what was started. But now, now he'd have to take them all the way or suspicions would run unduly and he knew that could lead to further danger. They may want to run from where he would leave them heading into danger. No, he'd have to keep them with him; he could protect them as best he could then, then keep them out of peril somewhere, a cave? Cavern? Safety? It didn't matter where so long as they didn't have to face Malgar. That settled in his mind, he resigned himself to the watch, waiting for the dawn.
Sorry this one is a little slower than previous-I hope you liked it! Please let me know what you thought! Reviews are made of joy and happiness!