Authors: Bre Faucheux
He turned to go back inside letting go of her hand. She brought him the little food she knew his body required and came back to sit and wait for the healer’s return from feeding the horses. Upon his return, she attempted as best she could to express how they both wished to learn how he calmed others by touching them. She wished she had knowledge of their language, there being so much gratitude she desired to express.
The healer turned away from the horses and took her shoulder in his hand. She certainly felt something within this man’s touch. Her body gained composure of any worry she somberly carried within seconds of his skin touching hers. She knew that this was why he was made the healer of the tribe. Calming one with the simple act of touching them was crucial to helping those who were hurt.
If they could control of one’s apprehension of them through this tranquility, they could take blood with ease, and without causing great harm or fear. And now they could live off what little they needed. No one need die at their expense.
For a brief moment, she felt elated. For the first time, she gained an ability that she was certain Jayden hadn’t yet discovered.
A herd of deer scattered in every direction trying to find cover. Madison already passed them before they could disperse. She vaulted higher than she previously dared and landed atop the crag she once leapt from above the falls. Gracefully bringing her arms by her sides, she turned her head back for a quick glance. Jayden was only a few paces behind her. She grinned at the speed he gained as he launched skyward to meet her atop the cliff. She ran off to the ravine and sped passed all the trees and rocks before her. She hardly needed to use her hands to climb the landscape as she easily soared over all that stood in her way. She could hear Jayden behind her trying to catch up. He usually did now and again, but she being the lighter of the two could jump farther and faster than him. Or so he let her believe. She began liking her smaller frame more as the days passed and she recognized how useful it could be. She let her body fall freely down the length of the peak of the ravine and continued to run to the opening where the valley met the mountain range. Jayden sped along beside her and caught her shoulder. Pulling her back she stopped suddenly and nearly fell backward. The sudden change in pace caused Jayden to topple over. He didn’t need to be close to her now to know that she was smiling. The tall grasses began turning a darker shade of yellow with the approaching winter. The grass crunched beneath her feet as she ran. For a brief moment she thought herself still running, but her face met the grass with surprising force. She rolled atop the ground for some twenty feet before stopping and lifting her body upward to stand again. Jayden had tackled her to the ground.
“Did you truly just do that?” she grunted as he approached her.
He caught a hold of her arm and quickly brought her back to the tree line and the ravine just between the mountains.
“We don’t go passed the ravine, those are the rules we laid out, mistress. You will obey them.”
Madison realized he was right. They had agreed not to venture too close to their previous camp. They were still a great distance away, but they both still felt as though it was not safe to approach their previous grounds.
“By your leave, let us return then.” She was only slightly out of breath. She knew her body was getting stronger as was his.
“Lead the way, mistress,” he said mockingly, smiling at her whilst he thrust her forward.
“Now why must I always have you chase after me?” she asked.
“I would think the answer quite evident.”
She glared at him. His overconfident remarks as of late had turned to near flirtation.
“Or perchance I fear you will lead us into an abyss and I desire you to fall in first thus I have time to react,” he said.
Irritated more so than before, she left him with nothing but remnants of the strong wind her quickened passage created. The trail he carved behind her made little noise, but she knew he was only a length or so behind her. She reached the other end of the ravine near their current home with the natives and stopped just before crossing them.
“Shall we explore farther?” she asked.
“Yonder beyond their settlement. They are completely enclosed here.”
“And from what you informed me, for good reason. They want to be away from the Vam-pyr-rei-ak,” he said.
“But they can’t be everywhere. Especially now.”
He knew she referred to his slaughter of their people. He wanted to scorn her for having brought it to light once more, but he accepted it as an inevitable truth. Once prideful of his accomplishment, he merely thought of it now as an act subjective to his illness prior to having met the healer. Madison had accepted Jamison’s demise in the same fashion. Jayden suspected that their sympathetic disdain was an effect of the healer’s work. If they weren’t crippled by grief, in his mind they were a stronger sort of being.
“So where to then?” he asked.
“The other side of the mountains. “I want to see more of this land. With rivers, streams, valleys, and mountains so near, there must be more to discover.”
“Lead the way then.”
“Only if you think yourself able to keep up with my pace.” She imitated the grin he had grown fond of showing brightly whenever he felt he had surpassed her in some way.
She was gone within a second, leaving him to follow should he choose. Madison enjoyed their daily treks through these lands. Living from it and attending to it in the ways she learned from the natives made her feel more connected to the area than she ever felt attached to a home before. Their lifestyle was peaceful, humble, and spiritual. Even through the most riveting of lectures from Jamison’s preaching of morality and the frightening sermons from English priests on the necessities of forbearance, she never felt a strong transcendence of a divine nature until having watched the way these people lived. They had only the mind for their leaders and the spirits that kept their families safe. Their healer regarded the sun for life, the rain for nourishment of their crops, water and the animals for the nourishment of their bodies, and the night time sky as a guide to home. She took pleasure in the simplicity of it all. Their faith presided in their reverence for the elderly, not their guilt for past sins as it was in England.
Following the length of the enclosure from the native campgrounds, she sped through the trees and rocks. Climbing everything as if her body weighed nothing, she didn’t bother glancing back. She knew Jayden followed her. Whether from like-minded curiosity or a need to protect the only soul in the world like him, she found herself happy to have a partner in these explorations. They were almost like a game. She teased him to play along as she ran heights she questioned he could climb.
When she reached the end of the mountain side, she continued onward. Across another valley the terrain began to take on more features as she had seen before. They weren’t far from the coast. She trekked over rocks and rubble, the smell of the sea growing near. She loved not knowing what kind of scenery she would come across. Everything about these lands was versatile and changing. In England she had heard of mountains and seas all grazing each other within reasonable distance, but this land was exciting in its constantly changing setting.
She looked farther and saw the approaching landscape. The smell of salts invaded her senses and she saw a wide expanse forthcoming. She slowed down to a pace she could hardly have achieved so quickly before her transformation, and stopped at the edge of the white cliffs. They were roughed with sharp edges and the sound of the sea crashing into them was louder than she had ever heard. But then again, everything seemed louder when she focused on it.
Jayden stood next to her almost immediately and gazed at the ocean before them. He glanced at her briefly, again with a grin she knew all too well. He was about to challenge her.
As his feet lifted from the ground and his body began to fall, Madison dropped to the edge of the cliff, gripping the rocks hard in her hands. She watched as he fell from the precipice to the water below. Whatever lay within those waters, whether it was shallow or full of rocks, she knew he would quickly recover. She once would have thought him foolish for having jumped, but now she watched with fascination to see what his body would meet below. He dropped into the water with a crash and she heard the waves collide with impenetrable force. But to her surprise, Jayden didn’t crash with it. He was already a meter from the waves and swimming in the rough waters. He turned to glance at her, the challenge set between them.
Madison took a few paces back and ran for the edge of the cliff. She leapt higher and farther than he had and awaited the impending impact. The water hit her with the same power as if she had struck ground, but she quickly recovered and brought her arms before herself, pulling her body forward with her hands and propelling her weight with her legs. Jayden taught her to swim in the river that had once taken her to the abyss near death. And in so doing he snatched away any fear she may have had for waters or heights of any kind. This particular challenge was more to assure him that he had accomplished the task of teaching her properly.
She swam under Jayden and out in front of him. Breaking through to the surface, she took a huge breath when she reached it. She knew now from Jayden’s teachings and her speedy recovery that she would never be susceptible to drowning, but her lungs still snatched for air as she ruptured the surface. She enjoyed the feel of it as it passed through her throat and down into the pits of her body. If for any other reason, her senses loved every natural sensation she took for granted before, even if it was a slight one. Everything was heightened to an acute level, a higher awareness of the wonders her body could perform.
Jayden swam to meet her, his strong arms bringing him close to her within an instant. He brought her down below by her ankle and swam in front of her. She kept to the side of him and they remained submerged, covering quite a distance before stopping. They reached the ceiling of the waters and tore through the waves that would have otherwise crushed them. Madison swam a distance before seeing a sandy beach. Jayden followed her as she reached solid ground beneath them and walked up the shoreline. The gentle brush of the water grazed her ankles as she stepped on to the sand. She listened to the ocean behind her as it touched the coast. Each and every sound, each scent, the touch of the water on her skin when she swam through it, was sharper than it had been before. Even the green of the forest or the purples and blues of the night sky were crisper in her new body. She was tempted to ask if Jayden felt the same, but she knew it best to keep these small comforts to herself. He seemed to relish the power gained from their new senses rather than the smaller perceptions. Yet just as the thought crossed her mind, she saw him take his hands to the water and lift them to his head, brushing water through his skin and his hair. He clearly enjoyed the sensory touch of the water in the same way she did. Madison felt life flowing through it in every particle that caressed her. Perhaps that was the mystery. Where ever life presided, she gained from that energy, just as she did the blood of living men.
“How far would you suspect we traveled just now?” he asked her.
“I don’t know voyeur, enlighten me.”
“You believe we could reach England with that sort of speed?”
“Eventually, perhaps,” she replied. “Why, do you think of returning?”
“Sometimes. If my body can recover consistently as it does now, I imagine I could be there within a matter of days. Perhaps a week at best…”
“And how would you be guided? We have not the slightest inkling of where to go.”
“Use the stars as a map, just as we did before upon our ship,” he said.
Madison stood and stared at him for a moment as he observed the sea they had just passed. “It is easier to follow the length of the cliff side than to navigate the ocean. And what of the creatures who would swallow you whole?” she said sarcastically.
“What? Like the many we passed on our journey hither?”
“You are not happy here?” she inquired.
“Happy enough, for now. But I shall grow bored of this land, as will you.”
“I don’t know. These people have accepted us, Jayden. The women have begun to take to me and teach me their words. The healer has treated you well and welcomed you into his home. Why would you want to go back to land ravaged by war and men of thoughts of grandeur and conquering one another?” She spat the final part of her speech with disgust. The thought of returning nearly brought greater feelings of trepidation than when they arrived.
“Your brother and I both were men of grandeur. Why do you think he had you travel so far from home? To create a better way for you and him? No, he thought of adventure and conquering just the same as men had before him. New lands to behold are new lands to pillage, as they always will be.” He stopped and observed her, waiting for her to come to the defense of her brother, but she didn’t instantly react. She watched at him for a time while slowly searching for the proper words.
“Just because the Vam-pyr-ei-ak saw it thus, does not mean it will happen,” she said. “Others will be fearful of such a journey as far as we ventured. They may never find these lands.”
“You and I have seen the vastness of it from the mountains and the shores, mistress. They will undoubtedly find it. There are lands to be had. And England as well as other people will reach for their taking of it as soon as they realize of its possibilities. And they will take it without asking.”