Where to now? Well, the castle, obviously. The place I imagined would be the safest.
“Xavier, hurry up,” Soleil called out. She crossed her arms.
“Yeah, yeah. I’m here.” Xavier appeared at the entrance to the hallway.
Dash and Ianto had supplied us with thick jackets and snow boots. After they had finally gotten Xavier to accept the offer, they rummaged around in a large trunk and brought out several jackets. Most of them didn’t fit at all, but it’s not like anyone was about to complain.
“Okay, now off to the castle to tell them that people are looking for the Forbearer’s Blade,” Rumour said cheerily. I had completely forgotten about the blade. Until now.The panic washed over me once more as I remembered that if we had to help that lady from the house, Quinn, find the Forebearer’s Blade, the place we were headed wasn’t going to be as safe as I once thought. People–creatures, rather– were looking for this knife, and wherever it was, they’d surely be as well. My worry must’ve showed on my face, because Soleil put a hand on my shoulder and gave me a reassuring smile.
I zipped up my oversized jacket. The faux fur trim on the hood immediately fell into my face. As I struggled to keep the sleeves from falling over my hands, Ianto pulled my hood back from my eyes. I smiled and thanked him.
“Everyone ready?” Xavier asked, scanning our ragtag group of travellers. I looked around and everyone stood, winter gear and all, ready to leave.
“Thank you for taking us in for the night, and I hope we weren’t too much trouble,” Soleil said, turning to Ianto and Dash.
“Oh, of course not. You guys are great company. I hope you’ll come visit sometime,” said said. Everyone exchanged hugs and goodbyes and suddenly we were outside again.
“If you walk that way you’ll eventually find a road, busses come along there often,” Ianto called after us. “Don’t forget to write!”
“Ianto, nobody writes letter anymore,” Dash said, exasperation evident in his tone. “Just call if you guys need anything,” he clarified. I turned and waved once more.
“Here we go again,” Vesstan said under his breath.
“I know. All we’ve been doing is walking to somewhere we can take shelter for the night and setting out on our journey immediately after,” I replied quietly. I looked around at the group. After spending the night at Dash and Ianto’s place we were rested enough to walk. As we walked, I felt the air slowly becoming colder. Light snow began to fall, but didn’t gather on the ground, thankfully. I was tired of trudging through snow. Despite my new jacket, I shivered. Snowflakes fell from my hair and drifted to the ground. I thought about the conversation I had with Vesstan the night before. He had been friends with Xavier, Soleil, and Rumour. I wondered why he said that Xavier hated him. There seemed to be a story behind them, I could see it in the was they acted towards each other.
In my distracted state I tripped over something on the ground. I sat up and brushed off the dirt. I looked at the palms on my hands and found several splinters, but I decided it wasn’t important.
“Lake, are you…” Soleil’s voice faltered. The group had gathered around, but weren’t looking at me. They were inspecting the thing I had tripped over. A tiny bit of metal protruded from the dirt, I don’t know how I managed to trip over such a small disturbance in the spongy, already uneven ground.
I heard Vesstan make a soft choking noise, the bend down to touch the object. He began digging with his hands and soon revealed half of what seemed to be a large ring of metal. He slowly pulled it from the dirt. He immediately dropped it again and put his hand over his mouth. I bent down and picked it up, cautious because of the way the rest had retaliated like something poisonous. I recognized the object as a crown. I suddenly felt as though I shouldn’t be touching it. Me, an irrelevant orphan, holding a crown that most likely belongs to royalty. The sides were engraved and precious stones were set around the rim.
“What now?” I asked, turning to the group of shocked people standing around me.
“It’s mine” Vesstan said quietly.
“I mean, it’s nice, but ‘finders keepers’ doesn’t really apply here–”
“No, it is actually mine. I lost it on the way to Morrow Inn when I was taken. I didn’t want tell you… I didn’t want it to be a big deal…” He took it from my hands gingerly, but didn’t put it on.
“You’re royalty?” I asked quiety.
“Elven prince.” His voice was barely loud enough to hear. If he was the prince why wouldn’t he put his crown on? He must have had his reasons. Instead, he somehow managed to shove it into the pocket of his jacket. He looked around at the four of us watching him, then pushed past and continued walking. I gave Soleil a look. She shrugged in response and followed him.
I can’t tell you how long we walked for, I am not very good at guessing, but I can say the sun was high in the sky. Rumour walked alongside Xavier at the front of the group, talking and laughing.
Eventually we came to the road that Ianto had told us about. A lone but stop sat at the side of the street. On our side of the road was forest, and on the other was a large expanse of empty dirt. In the distance, I thought I could see a cliff and I was reminded of my dream. However, I was distracted from that by a bus speeding down the relatively empty street. Soleil waved her arms to pull the driver’s attention to the small bus stop. The bus roared to a halt and the doors open.
“Fair is two bucks each,” the driver said roughly. The man behind the wheel watched us and we all gave each other nervous looks.
“I have the money,” Rumour said, taking a wallet out from the pocket in his jeans. Soleil let out a breath of relief and clapped him on the back. He smiled and started taking out coins to pay for everyone’s fair.
“Will this bus take us close to the Elven Kingdom?” asked Vesstan.
“Almost right up to the gates,” the driver responded.
One by one, we boarded the bus and found seats. There was only one other passenger, so finding seats was easy. Soleil and I sat across from the three boys. The bus started again and along with it the last part of our quest to make it to the castle. I looked out the window and watched the scenery pass. What would await us at the kingdom? Had Vesstan been tied up at Morrow Inn for a long time?
“Excuse me,” a voice behind me said. An older woman sat there. “Are you human?” she asked.
“Yes. I am,” I said simply. Suddenly, I noticed small horns just barely poking out from her curly white hair.
“What is it, dear?” She tipped her head to the side slightly.
“You’re not human,” I said before I could stop myself. She laughed, putting a wrinkled hand on my arm.
“You’re quite right; I’m not human. I’m a satyr, my name is Jaidi.” The woman offered her hand. I shook it. I had heard of satyrs in class. I had only heard of half-man-half-goat. I’d never heard of female satyrs.
“I’m Lake,” I said once the shock had worn off. I glanced at her goat legs and she laughed at my amazement. I felt a blush creeping up the back of my neck. She had her hooves painted pink and her nails matched. I turned back towards the front and noticed a passenger had just gotten on the bus. Recognition showed on their face as their wide eyes trailed on Vesstan, who had fallen asleep on Xavier’s shoulder. They just passed and didn’t say anything. It seemed like they were embarrassed to see him in such a situation.
I thought about how Vesstan had said that Xavier hated him. I couldn’t control myself. Curiosity may have killed the cat, but that’s not the full saying. What people don’t know is that satisfaction brought it back.
“So, um, Xavier,” I began. He turned to look at me. “W-what happened with you and Vestan?” I swallowed nervously. He sighed and I hoped I wasn’t crossing a line.
“We used to be really good friends,” Xavier said. He was silent for a second, then continued. “We were close once. Born only one year apart and best friends since we met. Rumour is the only friend that could rival out bond. That is, until I turned sixteen. About a month after my birthday, there was a court trial. His grandpa tried to threaten my dad into leaving the area because he thought my dad and his daughter, Vesstan’s mom, were in a relationship. He hated my family. His grandpa was quite intolerant. They weren’t actually together; they were just close friends. Vesstan’s dad asked him to say, in court, that his grandpa was innocent. Vesstan knew that he did it and was even a witness to most of it. Anyways, he did what his dad said, regardless of the truth. When I talked to him about it he got all defensive and acted like he believed that his grandpa was innocent. I haven’t talked to him for three years.”
“No offence, but… isn’t that a little harsh?” I asked. He shook his head.
“It would seem so, but it wasn’t. Vesstan did a lot of this kind of thing. He would know the truth but lie and pretend that everything was fine and that he was never wrong. He did this a lot. Among other things,” Xavier said, looking towards the front of the bus. Vesstan shifted on his shoulder and he glanced at the elven prince, finally asleep. The silver crown peeked out of Vesstan’s pocket.
“I see,” I said after what felt like years of silence. Then I turned back to the window.
I wondered if my friends from Lil’ Angel’s were missing me. Were they wondering where I was? I suddenly felt something pulling at my heart. What would happen if I never made it back? Would the orphanage even bother looking for me or alerting the police? Tears began to form in my eyes but I blinked them away. I refused to start crying again. Instead, I decided to start a conversation.
“Why was Quinn so worried about the Forebearer’s Blade?” I asked Soleil.
“It can be used to destroy and Arrow Brandeds,” she said simply, not looking away from the window. Her voice was just barely above a whisper.
“H-how do you know?” I asked. She turned towards me with a blank expression.
“A note Quinn left in the map. I found it and didn’t tell anyone.” She handed me a piece of paper and looked back out the window. I unfolded it uncertainly. It read; I’m sorry about this, it wasn’t supposed to happen. At least, not in your lifetime. Anyways, make sure you kids get to the elven kingdom and tell them to gear up. We’re going to need all the help we can get. I’m going to look for the Forbearer’s Blade. Why is it so important? It could destroy our entire community if it got into the wrong hands. Love you! -Quinn.
“Wow… comforting,” I said quietly. I handed the note back to her.
I thought about my dream. Was now the time to tell her? I took a deep breath and summoned all the courage I required.
“Uh, Soleil?” My voice cracked slightly. She looked at me calmly.
“What is it?” she asked.
“I had a dream last night,” I said. She gave me a weird look so I tried the sentence again. “I had a dream and I know it’s crazy but I feel like it has something to do with our situation.” I had expected some kind of reaction, but she just stared at me.
“What do you mean?” she asked.
“The lady from Morrow Inn was in it, and she somehow morphed into another person. She was destroying random things in a village. It seemed to be a village inside castle walls. Then Vesstan was standing on a cliff and he was bleeding and…” I trailed off. Half because of the look Soleil had on her face, and half because I wasn’t quite sure what happened. The memory felt as though it was slipping through my fingers. I closed my hands into fists, as if that would help. “Something bad happened.”
“Let’s, um, not tell the guys about this just yet,” she said, looking at the three boys. Her eyes were wide and I could almost say she looked horrified. Vesstan was still asleep and Xavier had also succumbed to the exhaustion of travel. Rumour was just staring towards the front of the bus.
“Why? I think they should–” I began.
“No, Lake. Don’t say anything about it.” Soleil stared deep into my eyes and gripped my arm.
“Fine… not a word,” I said.
The bus approached a large gate. It looked exactly like the one in my dream. I shuddered and ignored the horrible feeling in my stomach. I felt like I was betraying the boys by keeping this from them. Soleil must have a reason for this… Right?