Thursday, November 3, 2016
Thursday's Second Scene from Affinities Series Book 1 Escape #MFRWauthor #Fantasy #YA
As Bran entered the passage, he stumbled. The raw emotions of his parents and siblings battered his mind and strengthened his own fears and sadness. Tears flowed down his cheeks. He nearly dropped the bundle of torches he held. Without knowing why, his free hand moved to press the blue crystal against his chest. An easing of the feelings caused him to sigh. Soon he was barricaded from the keening emotions of his parents. He’d never been bombarded in this way before. During the training sessions with his mother and father, the feelings they’d evoked had been mere whispers. These thoughts screamed.
“Bran, Bran,” Ky tugged on his arm. “Ash says we must hurry.”
Her words penetrated the haze and his control slipped. He pressed the stone and sucked deep breaths. The groaning noise made by the entrance as it closed damped his parents’ sendings.
Then their voices rose as one. “Hold hope in your hearts. We’ll be together again, but not as we are now.”
With a snap, the entrance fused and the voices of his parents remained an echo in his thoughts. For a moment, he experienced an acute sense of abandonment. They were gone. He remembered their words, straightened and moved after the wavering torchlight.
“Did you hear them?” Ky asked.
“What did they mean?”
“Don’t know.” He thought of the old tales he’d read in the books of lore and legends. “Perhaps they’ll take wing like the Doma of the Skies.”
“Or become ottas and swim the river to escape the henge,” she said. “Do you think that will happen?” She sighed. “But they won’t be Mama and Papa.”
Her hand trembled in his. “Maybe not, but those are stories that bring hope. We’d better hurry before Ash and Jay leave us far behind.”
“I wish we could go back. How can we do anything alone?” Her voice rose to a shrill pitch and echoed off the walls.
What could he do to calm her? Of the four, Ky was the most daring when they played games. She never seemed afraid, except when she was by herself. “You’re not alone. We’re with you.”
“I know but that doesn’t help.”
Her panic lessened and Bran could breathe again. As they hurried after the others, he noticed the way the light from the torch revealed crystals like the ones they wore. The stones were embedded in the walls, the floor and even high above. He turned and saw the tiny colored lights of those they’d passed.
“I don’t like this place.” Ky’s voice vibrated with notes of panic. “Ash, how long will we be here? What if the torch goes out and we’re left in the dark?”
“Then you can call fire and light another,” Ash said. “We’ve more than enough to see us to the end of the road.”
Though Ash sounded positive, Bran felt his younger sister’s rising anxiety. He sucked in a breath and blew calmness into the air. “Look at the crystals in the wall. Aren’t they pretty?”
“I suppose. Oh look, those ones form a star.”
With Ky’s growing interest in finding patterns on the walls, her anxiety lessened. So did Bran’s.
Ash lit a second torch from the first. As they scurried along, Bran noticed the passage changed. Sometimes they had to walk single file. At other times the walls were so far apart, they seemed to be in a cave. Ash lit a third torch. Bran wondered if they walked in circles for the tunnel seemed to curve and twist like the path of a serpent.
Scratching noises and the tapping of claws on rock made him tense. He sensed no emotions from the creatures and prayed they wouldn’t come upon those that could cause harm.
Ash halted. “You’ll need to pull on your hoods.”
Bran tugged his over his head. The torch revealed a colony of bats clinging to the outcroppings in the tunnel’s ceiling. The torchlight must have disturbed them. With high-pitched screeches, the flock took flight, swooping over Bran’s head. They rose toward the high reaches of the passage where a beam of sunlight penetrated the rock.
Ky clutched Bran’s cloak. “Want Mama and Papa. Want to go home.”
Fear emanated from her with such force Bran had trouble catching his breath. “Please … stop.”
“I can’t.” She dissolved in gut-wrenching sobs.
Bran’s knees buckled. “Ky!”
“I’m scared. I’m tired. I’m hungry.”
Bran gulped breaths. “Remember … what … Papa … said.”
She clung to him. “What?”
“Courage … you … give others.” His reminder didn’t stop the waves lashing him. He closed his eyes. Balance her feelings. He saw giant waves churning inside her. He reached to still her fears.
She straightened. “What did you do?”
“Don’t know. Maybe took your feelings.”
“What will you do with them?”
“I’m not sure.” He needed to think about the problem.
Ky scrambled to her feet and helped him stand. “Ash, we must have walked past the midday meal. When can we stop? My stomach’s growling.”
“Soon,” Ash said. “There’s a place where Mama and I ate. A place of wonder.”
Through the bond between them, Bran caught his twin’s thoughts. Ash and Mama had used five torches and lit the sixth before they reached the place. She’d just lit the fourth. He hoped he could contain Ky’s emotions for that long. He shivered. Sad feelings had begun to trickle from Jay.
As they moved onward, Bran felt as though he walked through a fog. The grief, the fear of the younger pair beat against his own insecurities and the beats became stronger, louder. He staggered and fell. His knees cracked against the rocky surface. He closed his eyes.
“Bran,” Ky yelled. “Get up. Get up! Jay, help me. Bran fell. I think he’s sick.”
His siblings pulled him to his feet. He stumbled between them.
“Come on,” Ash called. “We’re here and quicker than when Mama and I came.”
Half-dragged by the younger twins, Bran lurched forward. When they rounded a bend, a blaze of light made his eyes water. Crystals embedded in massive columns of what looked like glass took color from the torchlight. A rainbow flowed across an expanse of clear water.
“The pool … take me.” Bran’s voice echoed in the eerie silence. When they reached the pond, he freed himself from his siblings’ grasp. “Leave me.” He knelt and thrust his hands into the icy water.
At first, the cold made him shiver. The clarity of the pool darkened. Inky stains spread from his fingers. Grief, fear, anger flowed from his spirit. The uneasiness that had engulfed him ebbed away. He watched the water beneath his hands go from black to gray, and then clear.
He rose and strode toward the three clustered around a small fire built from the ends of the old torches. He opened his packet of journey food, held a piece of flatbread over the flames. When it softened, he wrapped it around a slab of cheese.
“What did you do?” Ash asked. “I feared for you.”
Bran swallowed the bite he chewed. “Took Ky’s feelings into myself, then Jay’s. They made me feel … heavy.”
“I didn’t mean to harm you,” Ky said.
“You didn’t. I haven’t done this before, except with Mama or Papa. The things they sent were different, not as real as the ones today.”
Ash frowned. “You must take care.”
“I can’t help experiencing what others feel. You heard what Papa said.”
“There should be a way to block what happens,” she said.
“They never taught me how.”
She cocked her hear. “But you didn’t feel me and I’m just as sad as Ky and Jay.”
“You do something with yours.”
She nodded. “I guess I do. I want to cry, but I don’t. I cast my feelings on the wind.”
Ky drew the sword of red-gold metal. As she stared at the blade, tiny flames danced along the surface. “This is what I must do. Jay, see if you can use your staff.”
Jay rose. He thudded the staff against the cave floor. Small puncture marks appeared in the rock. He turned and smiled. “I feel better.”
Bran finished his bread and drank from the flask. “We should move on.”
Ash shook her head. “We came a long way in a short time and there’s still far to go. I need to rest.”
“I’m not tired,” Bran said.
“Then keep watch. When you light the fifth torch, wake us.”
Ky curled in her cloak beside Ash. When Jay joined them, Bran walked to the pool. He knelt and stared at the calm surface. What was happening to Mama and Papa? Had the army invaded the henge? He stilled his thoughts and blew gently on the water, hoping images would appear. None did.
He removed the scrying cup from one of the cloak’s inner pockets. The need to know burned. He filled the cup, then sat cross-legged and held the cup in his hands. Once more, he stilled his thoughts and rippled the water with his breath. He thought of his parents. An image formed. He saw the spiral staircase and the wall that contained the inner chamber. Of his parents, he caught no sign, but the hidden room was sealed against invasion.
He released the image and sought further. This time he wanted to see what passed beyond the walls of the henge.
Pictures rose in rapid succession. Men mounted on war steeds, their single horns polished to a silver gleam, followed scores of foot soldiers to the first wall. The secret gate opened and the army entered the gardens of the henge.
“Who has done this?” His question caused the water in the scrying cup to bubble. A distant figure grew larger. On a rise at a great distance from the henge, a man stood with his arms wide. The sides of his black cloak spread like wings. Bran shivered for the man resembled one of the carrion birds that feasted on the dead.
The water in the scrying cup stilled. Bran saw the man’s long pale hair and skin and knew this enemy wasn’t from the low lands. He was a Dom of high land birth.
The Dom raised his head. His pale eyes bore into Bran’s. He sees me. Bran’s heart beat a staccato rhythm. He tore his gaze from the face he’d never forget. His hands shook and the scrying cup fell. Water splashed across the cavern floor. Fear erupted inside him. Had he betrayed his siblings? Did the enemy know where they were?
He looked at the torch and saw it had nearly gone out. With a fresh one from his bundle, he touched it to the dying flame. Then he knelt beside Ash. “I’ve lit the fifth.”
She stretched. “Then let’s go.”
Ash woke Jay. Bran touched Ky’s shoulder. “Time to go.”
A spatter of flame zipped across the rocks. “Sorry. Did I burn you?”
Bran pulled her to her feet. “You must learn how to be awakened without singeing people.”
“’Tis only when someone rouses me. There’s no problem when I’m not disturbed.”
Before they left, they filled their flasks in the pool. “How long before we can sleep?” Jay yawned
through his words.
“Two torches,” Ash said.
Bran shook his head. “We’d better keep on as long as we can. Papa said not to tarry.”
The others nodded. “This way.” Ash strode around the pond.
Bran saw three gaping holes. “How will we know which is the right one?”
“In two, the air leaves. We’ll use the one where the air enters the cavern.
He was glad she’d come this way before. Otherwise, they could wander forever. She must have heard his thought because she grinned. He answered her smile with his, then frowned. When they stopped and after they slept, he would tell them what he’d seen in the scrying cup and what he feared he’d done.