Monday, January 26, 2009

New Chapter 4

Chapter 4

Birds song filled the air as the morning sun steamed the dew off the green grass. Bella was woken by a large slobbery kiss from Silver, her golden retriever puppy. The dog was barking excitedly and running back and forth on the red dirt road. Bella sat up rubbing the sleep from her eyes. She wasn’t in the clearing anymore. She was sitting on a red dirt road at the edge of the forest. In front of her was a small green hillock.

“Where are we Silver?” She asked looking around.

She stood up and walked up the hill, following the dog that was running back and forth. The earth was wet and spongy beneath her feet. When she got to the top her eyes went wide with amazement as she looked over the gently sloping land.

“Wow. It’s amazing.” She said in a whisper.

The landscape sloped gently down from where she stood. The red path continued on either side of her, winding like a snake through the many green hills. Between the hills were countless small farms, all with large white plastered farmhouses with red tile roofs. Each farm grew a certain type of flower and the result was stunning. A checkerboard of colors spread across the terrain. Large clouds of bumble bees and white butterflies ascended and descended in the perfumed air.

Far away in the distance, the crowning jewel stood proud, a white castle with large white walls and red tiled towers. Climbing rose was slowly spreading at certain points on the five white towers and the side of the great wall. The two red roads that encompassed the entire land both met at the castle in the distance.

“Hey, you up there!”

Bella turned to see five soldiers on chesnut horses and covered in shining silver armor standing on the road. They didn’t seem very friendly. Silver growled and pulled on Bella’s dress. Bella got the message and began to run down the opposite side of the hill, into the field of red poppies. From behind her she heard the calls of soldiers and the gallop of horse hooves.


The sun burned down on the slimy, mold covered docks. Lines of people were standing in rough burlap sack-robes, tied to each other and a large metal stake in the ground every few feet. Some of the new slaves were twitching and shaking with fear, awkward puddles forming beneath them, adding to the general stench of the slaveyard.

Stultius was walking wobbly across the pier, trying to shake off the effects of the last bottle of whiskey he had indulged before coming here. Life was easier for him when he wasn’t so sober. He belched loudly, snorted, and scratched himself as he began looking over the line of slaves.

The night before his mistress had visited him in a nightmare with specific instructions. He shuddered even now as he recalled the dream. There was a reason she was a Grand Matron. Words would never be able to express how the nightmare scarred his soul. But she had gone, and left with very specific directions. Look for the slave with the pale flower mark.

Even now Stultius was scanning the rows and rows of slaves, looking for one marked with a pale flower. He checked all thoroughly, but there was nothing even close to anything pale or floral on any of them. As Stultius staggered away from the yard, he heard a commotion from an alleyway. Two people were fighting.

The one was a tall, thin, man with a hooked nose and beady black eyes. His yellow teeth and foul fingernails proved he did not believe in bathing, and his short black cane he swung hard and vigorously that he did not believe in mercy.

The person he was beating was a young girl, probably only fourteen or fifteen, with fire like hair, blazing oranges, scarlest, auburns, and tinged with blond here and there. She wore another one of the slave burlap sacks, but as she blocked a swing of the club, Stultius saw her hand.

Her skin was tanned copper from the sun and its burning light, but on the back of her left hand was a birthmark. Pale and white it stood out blatantly on her hand, the mark of a five petaled flower. He had found her. Stultius walked up to the two in the alley way and as he did, he pulled out his deck of black cards.

“What do we have here? A little disturbation of the peace?” he chuckled and hacked a ragged cough.

“Wha ya want? You ah dock guard o’ somthan?” the hook nosed man slurred.

“No, no. Not ta fear. I’m just a humble gambing man looking for someone who’s willing to play my game.” Stultius said smiling as innocently as he could.

The girl was momentarily distracted and the thin reedy man clubbed her hard across the back of the head. She crumpled into a heap on the floor. The thin man gave her a hard kick in the side before he turned back to Stultius.

“I’m a waggeren’ man meself.” the reedy man intoned, “Come own in. Ah was jus teachify’en won o’ my new slaves a ting or two ‘bout respect.”

“She’s a spirited one for sure.” Stultius followed the man in through a side door in the alley.

They stepped into a dark room, dimly lit by a few smoking oil braziers. The air was thick and stank of smoke and rotten food. Stultius could barely make out rough, stained pillows scattered about the room. In a corner, a few sticks of bitter, resinous incense rose lazily and snake-like to the roof.

“Be’en spirited can be good. When dey know whose da boss.” The man said smiling, indicating several girls heads sticking out of the doorway. Their hair hung like cobwebs and their eyes were smeared heavily with black ochre, making them all look corpse like.

“Well now, what game would be yer pleasure?” asked Stultius, as his eyes bore into the bead like eyes of the nose hooked man, shuffling the deck of black cards.


Nicholas was surrounded by white infinity, but it felt like he was in a small space. He focused really hard on his surroundings, and slowly they came into focus. He was not surrounded by infinite white light, he was in a white room. The walls seemed to be made of glass and the light was outside the glass. He reached to touch the white glass, when he heard a voice. It sounded warm and motherly, like a soft glow inside when you get a hug.

“Where are you little one?”

“I don’t know. I think in a glass box.”

“No, not the dream. In the real world. Where are you?”

“In the forest I think.”

“Which forest?”

“The Black Forest. The last think I remember was the green robed people coming out into the clearing,”

“Ah, so you have seen the Woodlings. That must mean you are in the Encircling Forest.”

“Who are you?”

“The one you truly seek. Tell me, so I can find you, where in the forest?”

“Well, when we came in the sun set to our right so we must have com in from the…”

“Nicholas!” Came another voice, like a chorus of young children.

In the middle of the room two rows of green stars appeared. They floated on either side of Nicholas, and he suddenly felt like he was drifting down a river. Or like he was being carried by many hands. He heard a sound like lightning splitting a tree, and his eyes snapped open again.

Nicholas looked around as he sat up. He saw Ivan sleeping soundly next to him on a red dirt path. He stood up blinking as sunlight hurt his eyes. Wait, sunlight! That meant he was out of the forest. He looked around as he ran over to Ivan.

“Ivan, wake up! Look, we’re out!”

“Five more minutes.” Came the mumble.

“Ivan, I mean it. Wait, how’d we get out?”

“Maybe the giant spiders carried us out in comfy web hammocks.”

“I’m serious.”

“And I seriously need five more minutes after last night.”

“Um. Ivan, where’s Sahrina?”

Ivan sat up and looked around, squinting.

“Don’t know. You think the spider got her?”

“What! Stop talking nonsense! Why would they eat her and not us? And why would they carry us out here?”

“Do I look like I know?” Ivan said getting up and stretching, “The point is, we’ve been separated. So, now let’s see if we can find Bella. Sahrina is sure to be looking for her too and so we should run into her. Right?”

Klaus was about to reply but his mouth just hung open as he stared in disbelief at the sight that greeted his eyes. An old, faded red cart pulled up on the road. It was driven by an old, scraggily looking woman, with bushy white hair extending to the seat and a large grin on her face. She wore a large white burlap robe with faded red trim, and a faded red scarf to keep her hair back. Her milky white eyes stared in their direction revealing her blindness. And in her hands were two leather reigns that extended and hung on nothing on the air in front of her.

“Come now young un’s. I can sense yur der, even ifen these ol eyes of mine aint what they use to be.” She said chuckling to herself. “My name is Goodwife Aconite, the Healer. Are ye by any chance looking for a young girl and a hound?”


Bella looked back and saw three of the horses crest the hill behind her and two come galloping into the field from either side. The red petals flew in the morning breeze as the chase went on. The horses were gaining on her, but just as the gap was closing fast, Bella ran into the field ahead of her, a large sunflower field.

She was hidden by the sunflowers and crept stealthily through the green stalks and rows, trying hard to be quiet and listen for the soldiers at the same time. She heard two of them hacking at the sunflowers on her left and turned sharply right. She kept going until she couldn’t hear them anymore. Bella and Silver came out into a small clearing in the middle of the field, where a lone scarecrow stood guard over the area.

Bella rested next to the scarecrow, when she heard a noise behind her. She spun around straight into the floral design on the Captain’s shining armor. Silver launched teeth barred at the captain but a second soldier brought the heavy end of a spear down on the poor dog’s head. The helmeted Captain spoke with contempt as he nudged the unconscious animal with his armored boot.

“No one ever escapes the Royal Guard of Alexandria. You’d do well to remember that little girl. Tie her up. This is the one the Queen is looking for.”


“Phrek! Magga Phrek!” cursed the beady eyed man as Stultius showed his winning hand, and taking the pile of gold on the table.

“Well now, how ‘bout one more round?” Stultius grinned wickedly.

“Ha! I’m fearin’ that ya plan on takin’ all mine money!” The reedy man said thickly as he sat back on the stained pillows.

“Awe, come on. What say we make one last wager? A chance for you to win all yer money back.” Stultius reeled the man in, choosing his words carefully, a master at his art. “In fact, I’ll let you have yer money either way, win or loose.”

“Hmmm. Tha’ sounds arwfully temptin’. But, wha do ya want if ya win?” the beady eyed man slurred as he drank and spilled something dark and foul smelling from a rusty cup.

“Well, now.” Stultius laughed and hacked, “That’s the best part of the wager. If I win, then I take that slave girl you just bought off yer hands! That way, you get all the gold, and you can go buy a better slave!”

But the reedy man did not share in Stultius’ laughter, sitting back and merely stroking his chin. The young slave girl still lay unconscious at his feet, and his gaze now dropped to her. He snapped his fingers and called something out in a foreign tongue.

“Now tell me. Whay should I tek that wager… wen I can jus tek your money an’ keep my slave?” At least thirty guards carrying dangerous looking mismatched weapons hustled into the room.

“Have you ever seen a magic trick before?” Stultius said, shuffling his cards as if he hadn’t seen the gaurds.

“What are ya babblin’ ‘bout?” the reedy man asked eyeing him suspiciously and getting up from the pillows.

Stultius fanned the balck deck out in front of him, his cold clouded eyes sparkling slightly. In the next instant several things happened at once. The young slave girl stirred slightly. The large group fo soldiers closed in on Stultius. And the fat man grabbed a card, threw it up into the air, and for a split second all saw the omnous glowing rune on its face.

“Wha-” was all the reedy man could say before it happened.

The card seemed to glow and then it burst into flame, sending a large ring of fire outward, like a flaming wave, crashing over the guards and the reedy man. Stultius reached down, grabbed the slave girl and the bag of gold and ran for the door, the floating card still sending out cascades of fire right behind them. After everything in the room was sufficiently torched, the card reformed and flew back to Stultius, who had already thrown the unconscious girl on a mule he stole, and was heading down a red path leading into the marshlands.


Sahrina clenched her fist angrily as she stormed through the last part of the forest. How would those two be able to even take one step without her? They’d be captured or worse if she didn’t get to them first. And then she would do a lot worse. As she came out into the midmorning sunlight, she found herself on a red dirt road. After climbing a hill she saw the two roads end both at a castle in the distance. A couple of farmers were in the middle of their poppy field, shaking their heads and pointing at large portions of trampled crops.

“Good morning.” Sahrina called to them.

“Gud morn tvo yous.” Spoke the famer in his deep bass voice.

“You didn’t happen to see two dimwitted boys walk past here this morning?”

“My apologees.” spoke the deep voiced farmer. “De only dimvit ve haf seen dees morn vas dat steupid captan of de castle. He ruined a whole field of de best poopies.”

Here his wife came in as well.

“It vhill be alright. You vhill see. But I fear for de girl he took. I herd heem say dat he vas acting on orders from de Queen.”

“Excuse me but what is the fastest way to the Castle?” Holly asked urgently as she noticed the tracks in the field were Bella and Silver’s.

“Vhell now,” The farmer said stroking his beard. “Both roads tek about de same time to get to de castle. But if you vant to get der faster, der is alvays de harvest road. It runs directly through de fields to de castle.”

“Thank you.” Holly called as she set off at a run down the indicated path.


“Oh aye. I do remember yon olden days. Back before the wick’d Queen Alexis took the trone. She’s an hard handed tyrant that un. Mark ye well. See how she works the poorfolk. All so she can send the flowr’s away an take most of the money. Tis truly a sad state of affairs.”

“And you say she’s the one who has Bella?” Nicholas asked as he adjusted himself on the faded bench of the cart.

“Oh aye. My doves did come and tell me all ‘bout the struggle yer friend put up.”

“Why would soldiers capture an innocent girl? It doesn’t make sense.” Ivan called from the back of the cart.

“Well, as I was sayin’. After the new Queen took contr’l, she passed all manner of strange un’ unnatur’l laws. They say she ain’t all there ‘n the head.” Goodwife Aconite said smiling, “But then, there are some that say the same of me.”

Nicholas and Ivan smiled as they continued down the path and arrived at a house where a farmer waved Aconite down. She came up huffing and puffing and showed the healer to his house. The three entered after her, and were surprised to see how large the inside of the farmhouses were. But even more surprising was how many people lived inside of them.

The famer showed them to a small cot at the end of the room, where several old women sat around a small boy, breathing shallowly and sweating all over. The old women looked up at the three, glancing only briefly at the two strangers before addressing Aconite.

“It ees de fever. Vhe haf sent two strong boys to fetch Feverfew blossoms from across de roads. But dey have not returned yet. An everyday, he becomes veaker.” said the first old woman. “Please, help us.”

Aconite motioned for everyone to clear the area around the boy, then she took a strange medallion from around her neck, placed it on the boy’s chest, and put her hand gently on it. Her milky white eyes glowed brightly, as her entire body, the medallion, and the boy, all began to shimmer with a faint white light. She continued to intone strange words, and then the glowing stopped. The boy stirred faintly, and she took the medallion back and placed it in a pouch.

All the people in the house gathered around, thanking Aconite and offering her all manner of payment. She refused them all, instead giving only instructions for further care of the child. Then she, Nicholas, and Ivan all turned and left.

“Wow that was incredible!” Ivan said eyes wide with fascination, “How did you do that?”

“Oh that was noting.” She smiled and her eyes seemed to dance with laughter, “It’s just a pinch of white magic to do the trick.”

“So wait.” Nicholas said reluctantly, “Are you a… witch?”

“Heaven’s no child.” She laughed, “I ain’t no witch. I’m what ye would call a healer. You could call me a white witch I suppose, but white witchcraft aint nothing like them dark arts.”

“But you do use magic.” Ivan asked, skeptically.

‘Well, the best magic, I alwas say, comes from mother nat’r herself. The wonder’s pow’r of herbs can do wonders.”

“Why didn’t you accept payment?” Nicholas asked, looking across the flowery plains.

“People oughtn’t have ta pay a price to live and thrive,” She said as she flicked the nothing pulling the cart. “Now, yur friend. She’ll be kept in the dung’n I suppose. If ye want to save her, as I’m figur’n ye do, ye’l need to get into yon Castle. I think I might have a way.”


The bees bumbled lazily in the afternoon sunshine. Sahrina was still jogging up the overgrown path when she came to a fork. She figured the path must be working around a field and meeting back up again so she decided to just keep going through the field. It was made of giant tulips, and she had a difficult time making her way through the rubbery stems.

As she was going along, she suddenly felt the ground beneath her left foot begin to give way. She jumped forward of the crumbling ground. Her heart jumped into her chest and she felt a ting of panic as she felt no solid ground but instead the rushing air as she fell into a large deep pit.

Sahrina hit the ground and rolled instinctively. Standing up she felt a pain in her left leg. It didn’t feel broken but the throbbing continued none the less and she knew she wasn’t going to be able to climb out. She sat down and looked around. To her one side, where the path should have been there were stairs coming down to the bottom of the pit. She looked closely and saw that the floor was actually paved with stones that had been overgrown with moss over the years.

Getting up painfully, Sahrina began limping along the paved path towards a wall of earth. She placed her hand on it, closed her eyes and buried her finger tips in the soft reddish brown dirt. Feeling the ground. Then she pulled her arm back and slammed her fist against the red, packed earth. Cracks spread across it, and then it fell inward, revealing a dark, unused passage. Slowly and deliberately Sahrina stepped out of the afternoon sun into the dark, damp passageway feeling her way with her hands on the root covered walls.

1 comment:

  1. Well its about time! ;) lol! jk! I really liked how you bought the "old" story into the "new" one but with new and interesting elements. I am very curious to see how Stultius's story coincides with the main plot! Don't forget to go back through and double check all the name changes (Holly and Klaus! ;).

    I know it must be frustrating to go back through and rewrite it all but don't give up! You have a seriously awesome story going here!!! :D