Well I am officially back on the wagon after taking Wednesday off from writing. I did not really write as much as I had hoped last night but I am up to 13156 word count which still puts me a tiny bit ahead of the curve. I hope to write quite a bit today, especially now that I have a decent chain of events I want to follow. Oddly enough really looking forward to seeing some of the news out of Blizzcon today. All the big announcements generally happen on the first day, so here is hoping that we see something cool. Without further ado… here is the next chapter. Again zero editing went into this as of yet. I plan on sitting on this until maybe January and then working it over then, once I have some distance from it.
7 – Rough Landing
Jace awoke to a sizzling sound nearby and the smell of smoke drifting into his nostrils. For a brief moment he thought about the breakfasts Uncle Benj would cook with heaps of thick cut maple bacon and huge stacks of pancakes. For this brief moment everything was right with the world and he expected to hear Benj calling up to him to wake up. The memories unraveled around him quickly and replaced as a sick realization that things were very not alright. He gasped for air, sitting up quickly opening his eyes and looking around in a panic.
The world around him was a thick inky blackness perforated only by a flicker of light coming from a nearby fire. Hunched down beside the fire was Kale, tending to what looked like a slab of meat cooking on a stone. Looking around he saw absolutely nothing he recognized, the trees were not trees at all, but instead thick ropey tangles of vines leading up to what appeared to be a canopy of mushrooms. He remembered the battle, he remembered Aunt Beth, he remembered Kale grabbing hold of him… then nothing. Wait… not Aunt Beth, but mother… why did she never tell me. Jace felt tears welling up inside him but he tried hard to push them back down.
Kale looked over at him, hearing him stir slightly. “Good you’re up, I was concerned. We took a bit of a spill coming through.” she said quietly. Jace stared back at her blankly, trying to pull himself out of his sudden onslaught of memory. “Where are we?” was all he could muster. “I am not honestly sure what to call this place. It is kind of a shadow of our world, so I guess that fits as good as anything.” She cocked her head slightly as she thought about it. “We aren’t too far from the Wildfae camp where Dobin lives. Your.. Mother… said we should find help there.” She stumbled over the words not really sure what to say about that.
“How long have we been here?” Jace asked after sitting in silence for a bit. “You’ve been out for roughly a day, best as I could tell. Day and night are pretty different here, so it is hard to tell.” She looked at him sheepishly as she pointed to a sharpened stick near the fire. “I got hungry waiting on you to wake up, and I figured you would be too.” She looked down at the cooked meat sizzling on the stone “I am not really sure what this is, it looked like some kind of giant rabbit. It moved fast but I moved faster.” She tore off a chunk of a piece she had cooked earlier and tossed it at him.
Jace caught the meat and he had to admit it smelled pretty great. He was far hungrier than he had realized because he had eaten most of it before realizing he never really said thank you. “Thanks for looking after me” he mustered still half chewing. “Why did you look after me? You barely know me… and definitely didn’t owe me anything” He said without really thinking. Kale gave him a long angry stare before responding “She told me to protect you, and I did.” Realizing he had offended her he stumbled over his own words. “I’m sorry, I was never really good at saying the right thing. I appreciate it, really.”
He got up and stretched, looking around the tidy little camp that Kale had built for them. He had to admit it was pretty impressive. On the far side of the fire there were two large packs sitting there, puzzled he asked “Where did those come from?” Kale turned to look at the direction he was pointing “Those must have been sent through by your Mom somehow, they were there already when I recovered myself from the rough landing.” Jace walked over to examine one of the packs and inside were all the gifts his aunts and uncles had given him. Inside the other was a cloak similar to his, what looked like a small hammer that was cool to the touch, and a mirror. Kale motioned to the dagger she was using to slice the meat “This was in there too, not sure what the other things are all about.”
Jace felt overwhelmed, this is the first time he had really been without Benj to tell him what he needed to do. He knew that Bethilda would want him to be strong, and do what needed to be done… but he just didn’t know exactly what that was at the moment. He thought back to what Kale had just said and remembered what Beth said before they made the leap to this world. Seek out the Wildfae… so that had to be what we were meanted to do. Feeling a bit more confident Jace suggested “We should pack the rest of that meat and get moving to that Wildfae camp you talked of earlier. Mom..” he paused at the word it feeling odd in his mouth “thought we could find help there.”
Kale nodded in silent agreement as she stamped out the fire preparing to break camp. She stowed her knife and picked up the back, beginning to walk towards what appeared to be a trail. Jace fell in behind her as they walked together into the grove of treeshrooms. “I really do appreciate your help” Jace added to break the silence. Kale glaced sideways at him softening her gaze a bit and replying “I said I would protect you, and that is what I am going to do.”
“Papa! How much further?” replied the small dark silver skinned boy as he bounded after his father, who walked slowly and deliberately ahead of him dragging his crescent staff through the loose ground. “Not much further Bai” replied Oakswurv stopping to neal down to his son’s eye level. “You see those fires in the distance, that is where we are going” replied the man smiling broadly at his impatient son. Oaks could tell his son could barely contain the excitement of getting to attend a conclave.
When the pair arrived the other members had already seated themselves. At the head of the table was the very formidable looking Burlguff, to his left Sarenth, and to his right the lady Morganth. Together they represented the Court of Winter, one of the strongest of all the Elfen Courts. Noting the arrival of Oakswurv, Burlguff cleared his throat chiding “So good of you to join us Oakswurv.” He made a motion at Baigan “Why exactly did you bring your offspring?” Oakswurv shrugged deeply “It is high time he see how the business of our Court is conducted” he said taking his seat at the end of the table opposite Burlguff.
“While I admire your civic duty, this is hardly the time to start. We have important matters to discuss.” With a motion of his hand, Burlguff summoned a retainer who took the young boy by the hand escorting him outside of the circle. Bai hunched down on a stump outside the circle and listened as intently as he could, hoping to catch a glimpse of what was going on inside the conclave. Within moments the retainer moved off to return to the circle, and the young boy ever so cautiously inched closer to the circle until he could hide behind a plant and hear the proceedings.
“No it is you who do not understand!” Shouted the loud booming voice of Burlguff. “Too long have we suffered silently under the yoke of the Spring and Summer Courts. Are we not as powerful as they are? Is not the might of Winter even more powerful?” Oakswurv shook his head and sighed deeply. “Burlguff, we have had our generations… now is the time of Spring and soon it will be the time of Summer. Just as surely it will be the time of Fall and Winter will rise after that. You suggest a chance in the order of things that is just unnatural.”
Burlguff grew angrier as he rebuked “You are mired in the old ways. The time for change is now, you have sold your people for a place at the council.” He looked at Sarenth and Morganth narrowing his eyes. “We will seek a new way, and new more powerful allies. A power rises in the north, that if combined with our own might would crush Summer. Is it not right that the most powerful lead the way?” Oakswurv pushed his chair back from the table, standing up abruptly.
“It is you who will lead us to our doom. It is you who wish to break the natural order of things. Each season has its place.” Bellowed Oakswurv. “If you act, you do so without my support. Know that I will fight you every step of the way.” He turned to walk out of the circle yelling “Baigan, we are leaving… the talks have finished.” Seeing Bai sitting there in the bushes, he held out his hand and the young boy nervously took hold of it. Burlguff stood screaming at the top of his lungs as Oaks walked away “You’ve signed your own death Oaks! Winter is Rising!”
Baigan remembered looking up into his fathers eyes, worried about what was to become of the conclave… worried that he would never see his friends again. In the coming months a war did indeed start, and the combined forces of Summer, Spring and Fall pushed the Court of Winter further into the northlands, eventually sealing them off by erecting the summer wall. This was the moment that changed Bai’s life forever. How could his father have turned his back on his own people, how could he have betrayed them?
Baigan pushed back the memories taking in the realization that he was now laying face down on the floor of the stone antichamber from which he opened the waygate. A sudden rush of feelings washed over his body as his legs began to stir pushing off the ground with his hands into a kneeling position. There was a sharp pain burning into his side, and as he looked down he saw one of Bemels arrows tearing into the flesh there. As he allowed himself to breath in he screamed out in pain as the arrow seemed to have punctured one of his lungs. Reaching down he grasped the shaft of the arrow and in one quick jerk he pulled free the arrow screaming again as the fletchings sliced into him.
Baigan reached inside of his jacket and pulled out a stoppered vial with a green-grey liquid. With his thumb he popped loose the cork and put the vial to his lips drinking roughly half of it. With the rest he pushed a finger into the vial coating it. Biting his teeth, and closing his eyes shut, he rammed the finger into the pulsing wound in his side. Screaming again he withdrew his finger, collapsing back down onto the cold stone floor. Within moments a cool feeling washed over his body, causing every inch of him to tingle. The bleeding slowed to a stop, and over the next few moments the wounds closed.
Finally he allowed himself to breathe in deeply. While it still hurt quite a bit, the pain was subsiding. Now sitting up on the hard floor he frantically surveyed the scene. It appeared the other had not made it through the portal after all. From the corner of the room there came a soft orange humming glow. Baigan let out a chuckle as he realized he had succeeded. He had trapped the queen in the crystal and gotten away with it. The master would indeed be pleased, his father’s betrayal had finally been answered. Now it was time for the courts to answer as well.