Friday, April 25, 2014


            Two vigilant trackers rode point following faint vicissitude of passage.  They were hours behind the other group, but they made steady progress gaining on them.  The astute ability to anticipate the others’ movements allowed for faster travel. 

           Nándor and Tién rode together. Her visage vivified by the humorous childhood story she told him, which had him chuckling.  Only the vim quickly left his face when unpleasant thoughts returned. 

“You are thinking about them again,” she chided.  

His lips tightened before he blew out a heavy breath.  “Yes.  My vexatious cousin and the Lady Ruya plague me.  I don’t understand what caused this venal act.  I’ve always watched his back as he has watched mine.  He’s been more my brother than even my own.”  A hand went to his throbbing side.  “The varlet will have much to answer for when I see him again.”

  Tién had no time to answer.    
Their scout had backtracked to the main group causing them to halt.  She pointed to the rock in the distance.  “They stopped there not long ago.  A second group joined them from the direction of the dark city.  They joined forces and went toward the city once more.”

“How many?” one of the Sylvan asked.

“Twenty horses.”  Holding out her hand, she revealed a ribbon.  “And I found this.”
“Ruya,” Nándor whispered.  
Ruya rode on Garrick’s lap, her head too heavy to lift.  She clutched at Garrick’s clothes as her stomach churned. 
Ahriman’s vulpine features filled her vertiginous vision and surrounded by a swirling violescent aura of her megrim.  “Does it bother you?”
Ruya said nothing.  

“I’m truly sorry for your discomfort.  It cannot be helped.” 

The verisimilitude of his statement made her already sensitive skin crawl.  His next words shot ice shards through her heart.  “The mithridate Alim gave you opened your mind to him.  I suppose the pain was inevitable.”

“What do you mean?” she forced out of her tight throat.

He grinned.  “My plans have always consisted of you, Lady Ruya.  Once I heard rumors of an augur of extreme power, I knew the time was at hand.”  When he saw her confusion, a vehement laugh escaped.  “You don’t understand, do you?”

Ruya cringed into Garrick’s chest.  She did not want to hear anymore, but she gave a small shake of her head.

“Your coming to Phaeris is no accident.  I knew Nándor would go to the Aerie.  I knew he would speak to you because I made sure you were the augur I consulted.”  His dark eyes glittered.  “Your gift fails to show you the most important details.  It has always ever been you.

“Garrick was traveling to the Aerie to take you.  Only he was surprised when you and Nandor walked into the inn.  It made things so much easier.”

Ruya did not have the strength to push away from Garrick at learning of his second betrayal, but the muscles in his arm tensed where they touched her back, shocking her.  Was it guilt or something else?

Ahriman’s verbose commentary continued.  “Who do you think hid the book at the Thorn?  I did.”  He thumped his chest.  “I knew when I found the book Alim would translate it and use the potions there.  It was so easy to tamper with them.  That fool didn’t even realize.  He thought my interest was in the lapidary.”

A manic grin spread at her horrified expression.  “You’re asking yourself how, yes?  How did I know you would take it?  Quite easily.”  His gaze flicked to Garrick.  “He knew which vials to steal if you did not succumb to your abilities.  He would have slipped you the potion on your journey.

“He has guided your journey every step of the way.  He has been invaluable.”

Turning her face away, tears fell, hidden in the arm.

The sun dipped low in the sky when Ahriman halted.  “Behold the once great Phaeris.”

Ruya lifted her head enough to take in the fabled city.  White granite hills, painted the hues of the coming sunset, rose like warriors, encircling it.  The vicinage was eerily similar to the dream.

“Years of planning and so many trips to prepare, but now it is finished.  Erra will be reborn.”

©djinnia 2014