Yes, it’s true! After nearly five years, I am revisiting and writing new Wyvernshield material for all of you! I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it. 🙂
“It is this way, but we must hurry before this…”
A deafening clap of thunder above our heads shook the very earth we stood upon. Dark rolling banks of the storm swelled, threatened. It signaled how fast our luck had changed.
“Yes! Yes, it is this way, but we must hurry before this infernal storm worsens,” the old farmer said, waving his hand for us to hasten. He had a floppy straw hat on and a long, brown wrap-around robe with well-worn work boots of some type of leather. Stitched all over his face were deep wrinkles and frown lines.
“We are sorry to disturb you on a night as this,” Kaydaa said. Draped over her own shoulders was a thick, tattered quilt over a hooded jacket and purplish scarf at her neck. In her arms, swaddled in several furs, she tightly cradled a small bundle.
I held a dented bulls-eye lantern over my head to light the wet path ahead. My steps were sluggish, weary with the weight of my long bow, quiver and over-stuffed backpack.
Waving his hands, he dismissed her concerns. “Nah, nah, do not fret, young lassie. I am happy to shelter you and yours from this horrible rain. I do so wish the barn was in better conditions. Since my wife’s death, I have not tilled the land. My boys have taken on some of the land to support and feed me, but they have their own tools and barns so this one has fallen on some hard times I am afraid.”
We walked around the ramshackle ranch house, following a trail of partially buried, quartz stones. They led to a short stack of descending steps. My lantern illuminated a set of wide, double doors, an entrance to the horse barn at the end of the gravelly path. I saw indeed the structure was worse for wear as it had a few, wide holes in its thatched roof from past lightning strikes.
I held my hand to my forehead blocking the rain and squinted in at the holes. “Is there a spot inside where there will not be leaks? Perhaps a stable square or an underground feed well?”
“Rhenden!” Kaydaa scolded.
The old man laughed and held his hands up showing he took no offense. He nodded his head. “Oh, yes. There is a warm stable square. And I promise I will come back soon with some dry blankets and a kettle of hot poor-boar’s soup.”
I handed him a pouch with the last pennies we had. The farmer looked pained to take them, but he dropped them inside his side jacket pocket all the same.
“You go to the east side, near the back. You will not have any leaks there. And there is plenty of loose hay and some bales you can build as a nest around your family.” He winked and nodded at the bundle in Kaydaa’s arms.
As the downpour intensified, we bid him goodbye and stood awkwardly in the gloom of the musty, empty barn.
“Family?” Kaydaa whispered then giggled softly.
“He will sell us out,” I said. “Seriously. He is desperate. This is the most logical place to head to in the area with the coming of this storm. They are sure to find us.”
She shrugged. “Not tonight. Besides, it is not his fault. He has to do what he can to survive. We will leave before the first morn light and set out a false trail.”
I grunted in response.
While I was not happy with her answer, the sudden storm had left us little options. I followed her into the shadows of the barn where we found the east corner and its promised hay. She laid her bundle down gently near her legs and the lantern. I propped our backpack at the base of a wooden support pole as I went to work on building a small stone fire pit. I could not help but watch her as she prepared for sleep.
Shaking out her long ebony hair, she untied the cloth bands keeping it braided and used her quilt to dry some of the locks. Next, she unbuttoned her jacket and removed her scarf, exposing patches of dark brown spots dotting the side of her neck and along her shoulders. Her simple beauty was compelling and captivating to me.
She was a Duradramyn. The first of her kind I had ever met. Breathtaking even among the others of her kind. She was several years older than my eighteen years. Once a Fayalyte, a village healer. Then a slave. Now a fugitive in the eyes of the Law and Founder.
We both were.
Kaydaa laid her bedroll down, rolled up the quilt for a makeshift pillow. She glanced at me, her smile all warmth. “Peace and dreams among dreams, Rhenden.”
I smiled back at her. “Rest. I will take to bed in a few. Then before the first rays, we will head out. We dare not push it beyond that. You promise?”
“As you advise.”
She wrapped her right arm around the bundle at her side, snuggled it closer to her.
It was six months ago when everything faded to black for me. When my world evaporated like morning dew on a summer morn.
Every filament of my life washed away when the terse currents of the Leostoy River pulled me deep into its frigid depths. I remember only the way I sank deeper and deeper. It was as if the hands of the lost souls who had drowned before, were committed to bringing me into their fold. Another water-bloated corpse to join their ranks.
A numbness flooded my chest as the river water ballooned my lungs inside my ribcage. The periphery of my vision clouded and collapsed upon itself into a tightening tunnel.
Only I did not die…
My breath gone, but my consciousness sparked awake and alert. My arms and legs spasmed on their own accord, my chest heaving and straining for air. Helpless in its grip. I floated like driftwood near the gritty silt bottom of the river when I heard the roar of a mighty splash. Then a vortex of bubbles washed over me as I saw a dark shadow plunge frantically into the water coming straight at me. Upon reaching me, the swimmer clasped my shoulders in his hands, hauling with all his strength to bring me to the rushing surface.
Upon landing on the muddy riverbank, I was rolled onto my left side, and he pounded mightily on my back. Finally, a series of gasps and choking sputters cleared my lungs and throat. My vision broadened and cleared. Hot, moist air streamed back into me as life bloomed once more in me.
Exhausted and on my back, I stared straight up into the bright, cloudless sky above me. Relief and joy overtook me!
However, I had no idea at that point, my descent had not been stopped, it had only begun! My life was about to go in a drastic, downward spiral.
At least, until I found Kaydaa.