October 4, 2009
"Oh no, where is it?"
Raskyn wrung her hands, eyes wildly searching her room. She had ventured outside the manor doors a few days ago, and had lost her precious silver locket. The locket was a gift from her uncle, and if he found out she had lost it, Raskyn did not know what he would do. Raskyn crumpled onto the bare floor of her tiny room, tears streaming down her pale face. She had not seen herself reflected in a mirror for many months, and if she did, she would be aghast at her appearance. Her nightgown hung in wrinkles, her frame so wasted away, the gown had nothing to cling to. Raskyn's eyes were sunken deep into her head, and her skin was almost ashen. Her life was very far from what she could vaguely remember, when her parents were alive, before her uncle had gone mad.
Raskyn heard the guards yelling, their gravelly voices loud and angry. She clambered to her feet, and pressed her face against the lone window in her room, straining to see or hear anything more. Suddenly, she saw three women running quickly toward the manor, flames shooting from their hands, swords and wands drawn. Raskyn gasped.
"Someone is attacking us? Why would....OH!"
As the women drew closer, Raskyn could see a small, silver chain dangling from one woman's hand. It couldn't be, she thought. It simply couldn't be.
Raskyn tiptoed to her door, and, easing it open, listened carefully. The front doors to the manor slammed against the walls, and she heard voices in the hall.
"Now what?" one of the woman said.
"We find whomever this locket belongs to, and try and find Raskin. We have to free that boy."
"Why do we have to give the locket back? Why can't we just sell it?"
Raskyn heard the voices begin to argue, bickering back and forth about her locket. She bit her lip, hoping against hope that kindness would prevail over greed. She waited, and the voices came closer. Raskyn peered into the hall and was greeted by a terrifying sight. The three women were less than one hundred feet away from her, and for the first time, Raskyn saw them closely.
Each of the woman was dressed in armor, but the one in the middle seemed to have huge, black wings sprouting out of her back. This woman was surrounded by shards of ice, whizzing around her body, and a soft, blue glow seemed to encase her. Her eyes were steel grey, and under a circlet of wild flowers, her flame red hair poured down her shoulders. She was holding a massive staff that crackled and hummed with energy. On her left was what Raskyn remembered as a warrior. Clad head to toe in steel armor, wielding an icy sword with both hands, her green eyes bored into Raskyn's very soul. Raskyn tore her eyes away from the warrior, and was amazed to look upon a glowing visage, surrounded by gentle, white light. Long blonde hair, almost like a halo, framed an oval face so peaceful, so lovely, that Raskyn wanted to never look away.
The woman in the middle cleared her throat.
"Um...is this yours?"
She held out the locket, and Raskyn gasped.
"Yes oh yes! Where did you find it? Oh thank you!"
The woman smiled, and placed the delicate chain in Raskyn's hand. Raskyn spun around joyfully, and as she did, a small key fell out of her pocket.
The warrior picked up the key, and placed it in a pouch she wore around her waist, but Raskyn did not even notice, so happy was she to have her prize back in her hands.
"Are you Raskyn?" the warrior inquired.
Raskyn nodded, her caution returning. These people had given her back the locket, but perhaps they were in league with her uncle, and were here to lock her away, or worse.
"We are looking for your uncle. We are here to free the boy."
Raskyn's eyes widened. No one had attempted this in so long, she had almost forgotten where his cell was, and how to access the tunnel to get to her uncle Raskin. She found herself unable to speak in the face of such bravery, and stammered to give a reply. The winged woman shook her head.
"It's alright, we can find him. Are you able to leave here? It's not suitable for a young woman to be locked in this manor with a mad man. We can take you with us, if you like."
Raskyn shook her head violently, and her next words came out in a whisper.
"I tried, once, a long time ago. I got all the way to the upper valley, but the crainis and the rabboxes were so vicious, so terrifying, that I ran back here. I can never leave, he won't ever let me go!" The last word was wrenched from her throat, and the three women winced at the sorrow and the power of Raskyn's grief and fear.
The women approached Raskyn, and held out their hands. She extended her own hands, and found them grasped by rough but gentle fingers.
"If we can find your uncle, if we can destroy him, and save the boy, perhaps we can save you as well," the youngest said, her soft blue eyes comforting Raskyn. "We are strong, we three, and I believe we can overpower your uncle, if we are careful, and if we are stealthy."
Raskyn gulped down her sobs, basking in the strength and warmth of these mighty fighters. Could it even be possible, she thought. Could she leave? What was the world outside this manor, this forest, like now? She had been away so long, so much had changed, so much had been taken from her. How would she even manage?
"Wha...what are your names?" Raskyn murmured.
All three women grinned, and at that moment, Raskyn saw the friendship, the love and the respect these women had for one another.
"I'm Loreis, this is Wasabion and the peaceful one is Shraeve. We are of the same clan, the same town, and Wasa and I are of the same bloodline. We are family, we three, and we fight to protect one another with our very lives. And if you will allow us, we will fight to protect and free you, Raskyn. Would you let us try?"
Her head nodded of its' own accord, and before she knew what she was doing, she led them to her uncle's secret room, showed them the safe, and helped them sneak back past the guards and down into the tunnel that led to her uncle, and his madness. Raskyn was afraid, and a few tears fell upon her cheek as she watched her new friends prepare for this great battle. Loreis cast spells Raskyn had never heard before, her hands waving in the air as her friends were surrounded by auras of protection, strength and speed. Wasabion pulled a massive spear from her hip pocket, and wielding it, glanced at Raskyn and laughed.
"Don't fret, young Raskyn. In no time, we will clamber out of here, boy rescued, uncle dealt with, and you on your way to freedom. Where would you like to live, once you are free? The grand City of Medieiva? Or a seaside town, like Trellor or Riverton? Maybe a magical place, like Vanlarra, or you could go to school in Bran..."
Loreis prodded Wasabion to get her attention.
"We have to go, there is a firestorm approaching and we must be able to fly."
Wasabion and Shraeve nodded their agreement, and the three friends hugged Raskyn.
"Go back to the manor," Shraeve said, "and we will find you when we are done. Be brave, and we will prevail."
Raskyn stood, gazing down into the well, as the wall crumbled, and her rescuers waved one last time before disappearing into the darkness. Her heart felt lighter than it had in a very long time, and as she raced back to her room, she could envision a life without limits, without sorrow, without madness.
Raskyn awakened with a start. Night had fallen, and yet her friends had not returned. She stretched, not really knowing how much time had passed. Perhaps they were resting? As Raskyn rose from her bed, there was a knock on her door. She laughed, and threw it open, knowing she would see the three rescuers on the other side.
Standing in from of her was her uncle, Raskin, eyes narrowed, surrounded by fire.
"They can never have him. NEVER! He's mine, and I will change him, I will change you, I will change everything!"
He cackled wildly, glaring at his niece as she slowly collapsed onto the hard floor. Raskin spun around, and ran back outside, down, down down into his tunnel, away from the light, away from Raskyn, away from sanity. He gingerly stepped over three bodies on his way back to his captive: three friends, with the best of intentions, three friends who died together, as they had always hoped to. There would be others, hopefully, who would dare to try, but on this day, evil and madness triumphed.
A lone trader wandered the road, using the stars to navigate. Suddenly, the ears of his Appaloosa pricked up, then laid flat. The trader looked about for what was spooking his horse, and then he heard it. A wail, a keening sound, so terrible, so full of sorrow, that it chilled him to the core.
"Come, Daisy, hurry up there", and the trader dug his heels into Daisy's flanks, and pulled his covered wagon just a bit more quickly past the dark trees that marked the entrance to Raskin's Valley.