Authors: Cassandra Morgan
Tags: #adventure, #fantasy, #magic, #young adult, #teens, #prophecy, #princess, #elves, #dwarves, #wanderlust
Pasalphathe was King of
the race of Humans. And though the magic of the Elves eventually
perished, the magic of humans is far more resilient to the effects
of orenite, and persistent in its survival. From only a few years
of age, all humans are forced to wear some form of orenite. And all
because one man decided he wanted more power.”
Again, Piper stared at the knot on the
table, everything coming together at once.
And if the boys and I are
the returned souls of the Kings, then Taraniz may be—”
Gran nodded. Piper closed her eyes, and held
her head in her hands.
I can’t do this, Gran. I
don’t want it. Jayson, Jack and Leo, they are innocent in all of
this. I cannot allow them to be hurt or killed, or to kill someone
themselves. They are not even from our world. It would be wrong to
place any burdens of Chartile, past or present, on them. What do I
The old woman stroked Piper’s hair. She
swallowed hard, but her voice still cracked. “That is your decision
alone to make. Only you can decide if you wish to take the path
that has been laid before you, or forge your own. Either way, there
is a young man back there who is still injured, am I right? Even if
you are fearful of your own path, you have always been
compassionate and selfless. If that is not the quality of a true
leader, then may the Gods help us.”
There was a small opening in the cave to the
right of the main entrance that had gone unnoticed when the boys
first arrived the evening before. Now, as the sun rose over the
mountain, a shaft of light fell across Jayson’s face from the
opening. He raised his arm against the light and immediately
gasped. He clutched at his side and gasped again. His entire body
felt as though he had been hit by a semi-truck. His ribs were
bandaged, but he couldn’t remember why. Everything was a blur.
His eyes focused, and he took in his
surroundings. He was in a cave. Jack and Leo were sleeping around
what was left of a fire. He blinked a few times and memories began
to make sense of themselves out of the fog in his mind. Their
arrival in Chartile, Piper’s story, and that strange creature that
had nearly killed him. The thought of it made Jayson wish he had
been hit by a truck. He attempted to turn to face the wall. The
pain in his ribs was so intense it made his already dizzy head swim
even more. He yelped and nearly lost what little was left in his
stomach from the night before.
Leo was at his side in a matter of moments,
a water skin in hand. Jayson took it and drank without a word. The
cold water hit his stomach like a kick in the gut. He wiped his
mouth and found a piece of bread in his hand that Jack must have
placed there. He sighed and ate in silence while his friends looked
at each other from the corners of their eyes. Occasionally they
dared a glance at him.
He finished the flavorless hunk of bread and
stared at the wall in front of him before finally speaking. “I’m so
sorry you guys.” His voice was barely whisper as his broken ribs
made it difficult to even breathe.
Well, it was bound to
happen eventually,” said Jack with a grin.
There’ll be plenty of
time for apologies and pay back later,” said Leo also
I don’t know, Leo. This
could be a once in a life time opportunity. I mean, when was the
last time you remember Jayson Hill apologizing for anything?” Jack
patted Jayson’s shoulder gently. Jayson grimaced and wondered how
the pain he felt at Jack’s touch could cause such a pounding in his
already throbbing head
Leo laughed and said, “So true! But, you
just rest. You’re no good ‘till you’re no longer broken.”
Jayson did not smile as his friends rose and
went to tend the fire.
frookin’,” he muttered to himself and gently laid back down, “I’m
never going to live this down. Like, ever.”
Piper returned to the cave just as Leo and
Jack had figured out how to restart the fire. She had smeared soot
across her nose and around her right eye, and wore a long, heavy
cloak, though the weather was already warm.
It was a precaution,” she
explained, “so I would not be recognized. I was fortunate. Few were
awake and no one took notice.”
She pulled two pouches of herbs and a thick
leather cord from a bag slung over her shoulder. She, Jack and Leo
gathered several long and thick sticks from the wood pile, and
fashioned a tripod to hang a pot over the fire to boil water. Piper
made a tea from the first pouch of herbs to help Jayson sleep and
ease his pain. It smelled horrible and tasted even worse. She made
a paste from the second pouch of herbs and applied this to the
wound on Jayson’s head.
Ow! That stings!” cried
Jayson. He pulled away only to grab his side and cringe in
Piper did not reply or move from her
poultice-applying position. She raised her eyebrows at Jayson and
gave him a stern look with her piercing green eyes. Jayson sighed
and leaned toward her slowly. A gentle smiled pulled at the corner
of Piper’s lips, and she finished wrapping his head. “You will like
what I must do next even less.” She reached for the leather cord at
her feet. Jayson’s eyes widened. Ignoring the pain, he held up his
hands and cried, “Whoa! Hey! Look, I’m sorry, okay! It’s just a lot
to take in at once, you know? What are you—”
Jack and Leo each grabbed Jayson by an arm,
despite his protests and helped support him perfectly up right.
This is going to hurt,”
Piper said, silencing Jayson’s struggling cries. “Your ribs move
freely inside. We need to immobilize them while they
With Jack’s help, she pulled Jayson’s shirt
over his head. Even though Jayson knew Piper had already seen him
without his shirt before, he still flushed red at the thought of
her seeing his lack of abdominal muscle. She wrapped linen cloth
tight around his ribs, then began wrapping the cord even
The rope helps to keep
you as still as possible, while giving you the freedom to use your
arms and legs,” she said, “We will loosen the tension over time as
you heal. It also serves as a physical reminder to limit your
movement, especially bending and twisting.”
It took a few tries to get the tension just
right. All the while, Jayson complained without reservation that a
lady’s corset would have been easier torture. In the end, he lay
bandaged and roped, resting very straight on the bed.
Leo and Jack stood at the mouth of the cave,
arms folded, and leaned against the cool stone while surveying
It’ll take weeks for him
to get better,” Leo whispered.
So, what do we do?” asked
Jack, squinting up and the sun.
Well, we obviously can’t
Yeah, but we can’t really
go anywhere anyway. Especially not dressed like this.”
Leo nodded, and kicked at the loose stone
below his feet with his bright white tennis shoes.
Later, Piper helped Jack and Leo find their
own small cave close by. It was just large enough for a small fire
pit and space for sleeping. They came together for meals and
hunting, but there was just something odd about sleeping so close
to a girl that the boys couldn’t seem to get over. Piper helped
them modify their clothing with furs from the animals they caught
and fabrics they acquired from Gran in the village. The mountain
nights were chilly, and the fashions of 1997 Swansdale were not
made for such. She taught them what plants to look for that could
heal wounds or flavor their meals, and how to hunt with an arrow
By their third day in Chartile, Jayson had
insisted he join them.
I am so bored!” he
whined. “You can’t just leave me here all day.”
They gave him his bow and quiver, and, to
their surprise, found he was not only able to use it if he moved
slowly, but that he was also a decent shot. Jayson shot two rabbits
and some kind of small bird on his first day hunting. They used
these for trade through Piper’s Gran, and eventually had enough
leather to fashion more appropriately styled shoes.
When they weren’t hunting, Piper took the
boys down to the base of the mountain where she had first met them.
She taught them how to use the weapons they had used during the
attack by what they now learned were mountain trolls. They learned
to use them all, but each seem to find an ease and strange
familiarity in the weapons they had first wielded that fateful
It was on their fifth day in Chartile that
Jayson made a particular amazing shot by at what Piper called a
diten mouse. Leo said it seemed to be a strange combination of
guinea pig, gopher and chinchilla, but his friends ignored him.
Jayson pumped his fist into the air and did not wince in pain.
Piper looked at him a bit stunned and slightly concerned.
Oh, yeah! One shot and
down! Boo-ya!” Jayson fist pumped the air again before noticing his
friend’s stares. “What?”
Dude, you broke your
ribs, like five days ago. Did you forget?” asked Jack.
Jayson lifted his tunic and removed the cord
and bandages. The bruising was gone. He twisted and turned, flexing
No pain,” he said and
Did the prophecy say
anything about the kings healing really fast?” asked Leo turning to
look at Piper.
Piper did not reply. She looked at the
ground and frowned. They watched as she broke from the group to
retrieve the diten mouse and headed back towards the mountain path.
Jayson picked up the bandages and cord he had dropped and followed
Piper and his friends back up the mountain.
The trip back to Piper’s cave was long and
uncomfortably quiet. Leo started the fire, and Jack cleaned the
arrows while Piper skinned and prepared the diten mice they had
caught for dinner. They had agreed not to think of home until
Jayson was well again, but they hadn’t expected it to be for
another few weeks. Jayson’s sudden recovery had sent their heads
It does, doesn’t it?”
Jayson asked, staring into the flames.
What?” asked Jack. He had
finished washing his socks, and laid them by the fire to
The prophecy.” Jayson
looked at Piper. She had refused to look at them since returning
from their hunt. She sat cleaning a pelt laid out across her lap.
“The kings had the ability to heal quickly, didn’t
She tried but could not ignore Jayson’s eyes
staring at her any longer. Wiping her hands on a damp cloth, she
stood and turned to face him.
I honestly do not
remember, Jayson. I cannot recall the entire poem. But,” she
addressed all of them now. “Your abilities to use weapons, your
healing, your unexpected arrival. I do not know what else to make
of all of this.”
From stranger lands,
return again, bringing to right the wrongs. Shnikies, could it be
anymore vague?” Leo sighed loudly and shook his head.
For real,” said Jack,
“How do we even know what we’re supposed to do?”
The next morning was warm and inviting. A
cruel taunt, Jayson thought, as if the world was trying to act
completely innocent. He was the first to wake, and sat up to watch
the embers of their fire smoldering and hissing beside him. He
didn’t move, he just sat and thought. They had stayed the night in
Piper’s cave. No one would admit it, but they all feared that with
Jayson’s injury healed, something else would happen – though what
they didn’t know. They had talked all night, attempting to solve
the riddle of the prophecy. Piper had tried desperately, but to no
avail, to remember the rest of the poem.
Was there ever a written
record of the prophecy?” Leo had asked.
Or maybe you know someone
who knows all of it,” Jack suggested.
Piper looked up from the fire she had been
tending. “Gran had made a copy when she worked at the palace, and
had given it to my mother. But it was destroyed during the
The original might still
be at the palace,” said Jack brightly. “We could go there,
Are you out of your
mind?” Piper cried. “I am at large. They’ll kill me the moment they
set eyes on me. And not just anyone can walk into the palace and
start sifting through the documents of the royal libraries. Some of
them date back hundreds of years, and are extremely delicate. It is
impossible. There must be another way we have not thought of
We’re either stuck here
until we can figure out a way into the palace, or we make an
opportunity to get the heck out of here,” Jack winced as he looked
at Piper, “Er…no offense.”
How about both?” said
Jayson. Leo Jack and Piper whipped their heads around to him. Any
plan was worth presenting at that moment, but Jayson was the last
person they had expected to hear from. “We go to the palace, steal
some guard clothes, and then we can walk around, right? I mean,
that’s what they’d do in the movies…I think.”
And what of me?” asked
We say you were
pretending to be Piper, but really aren’t her. We say we’re on our
way to take you to the dungeons for questioning.” Jack smiled at
his ingenious idea.
It is impossible.” Piper
snapped and rubbed her temples. “You do not know any royal
etiquette and your accents would give you away instantly. We would
be walking into their hands with rope on our wrists.”