Authors: Kathrine Emrick
Tags: #Romance, #Paranormal, #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Fantasy, #Paranormal & Urban, #90 Minutes (44-64 Pages)
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The simply but elegantly furnished room was filled with tension. Hawk stood silently as his queen raged at him. He knew he'd gone too far this time; even if he didn't, her palpable anger filled the room making it obvious to all those present. He sighed to himself. He couldn't even defend his actions to her, he'd been sworn to secrecy by Geraint and despite the closeness between his King and Queen he knew there were some things Geraint kept from Isolde to ensure her own safety. He wasn't about to blow his cover even to justify his own actions and deflect her anger away from himself. He wasn't stupid either; he also wasn't prepared to be the one to tell Isolde her husband kept secrets from her. He valued his life far too much.
He stood tall with his head slightly bowed, trying hard not to flinch as the queen berated him; failing miserably as she continued.
"You have crossed the line, Hawk." She pinned him with icy cornflower blue eyes. "This time you have no excuse for what you did, you have exceeded even you in this latest venture of stupidity." She placed a hand on her slim waist as she paced around the throne room. "I can't believe…what on earth were you thinking? Why do you think you can consistently flout the gravest laws of our people and get away with it? You believe Geraint will save you from my wrath? You dare defy me and expect me to look the other way?" she stepped up to him, her body tense from anger. "This is the end of the road for you Hawk, I've had enough."
There was finality in her voice which caused a shiver of alarm to go through his spine. "Isolde," he began, "Your Majesty please just wait for His Majesty to get here. I promise he can explain everything." He knew his life was in very real danger. This time, the King was going to have to come clean or he was going to lose his head.
"What? So now you mock my intelligence? It is not enough for you to play the part of the fool but you must cast me also as one?" She took a deep breath and walked back to her throne.
Hawk stared at her as she sat on the throne; the very air around her seemed to crackle with the intensity of her anger. Yet when she spoke there was no longer any trace of the rage she had just displayed, instead her voice was cold. Hawk was now seriously worried, Isolde was even worse when she was icily angry. Where was Geraint?
"Hawk, as you very well know, according to our laws it is forbidden to use the gateway to Earth without the express permission of the Council. You did not have that. The penalty should be death but I am merciful."
There was absolute silence in the throne room as everyone who was present paused, waiting to hear the Queens's verdict.
"I have made my decision." Isolde continued. "Since you seem so enamored of the earth realm you will live out the rest of your days there." She paused for effect, "Stripped of all your powers."
Hawk stood there paralyzed with horror as she muttered the words that would make her pronouncement binding. He should have protested, he opened his mouth to do as much but it was too late. Suddenly, everything he knew faded and was replaced by complete and utter silence.
The first thing he felt was the wetness followed closely by the bone chilling cold. He realized it was raining and as he looked around him and saw exactly where he was, he knew the rain was the least of his problems. Isolde had cast him out in the middle of some mountains. He stumbled around frantically searching for the gate he'd used while carrying out secret missions for his King but it had completely disappeared. He was well and truly locked out. He sat down on the wet grass in shock, the steady pour of rain now a mere irritation. For the first time in his life, he was totally and completely alone.
He began to shiver and absently cast a covering spell to keep the cold away but nothing happened. He frantically waved his hands and muttered the spell again; nothing. That was when he remembered the second part of the queen's pronouncement. He had no powers. The thought struck terror in his soul. He had no powers! What was he supposed to do without his powers? They defined him; made him who he was. He suddenly felt a chill of a very different sort. By stripping him of his powers, Isolde had unwittingly stripped him of his identity.
He had no idea how long he sat there, in those desolate mountains. But when his teeth began to clatter from the cold, he knew it was time to move, if he didn't he would die from exposure. Slowly, his movements clumsy from the cold and the effects of the shock running through his veins, he stood up and began to place one foot in front of the other. He located a small track and decided to follow it, the slim hope of shelter propelling him forward.
He understood Isolde's anger but she had no idea what she had interfered with. They may all be in danger and he had been sent out by King Geraint to gather intelligence. He knew he needed to find a way back, across the gateway but at that precise moment, the cold was a more pressing concern.
Dera Lloyd opened her eyes blearily, the strident noise ringing in her ears making her grit her teeth. She'd been up very late the night before sorting out inventory for her market stall and six a.m. had seemed to come around rather too quickly. She looked at her alarm clock with distaste and seriously contemplated throwing it across the room. Luckily it was sitting on the sideboard out of reach; she always placed it there deliberately so she was forced to get out of bed to switch it off. She hated getting up in the mornings, especially when she'd had a late night.
After silencing the offending clock she thought about her coming day, it was Thursday so she needed to get herself motivated. Carog, the beautiful, historic village nestled in the shadows of the North Wales Mountains where she lived had an outside market on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and they were her busiest days. She glanced through the open latticed window of her bedroom and sighed with relief, good, the sun was shining. The weather forecast the previous night had said it was going to be a beautiful autumn day and that hopefully meant lots of new customers as well as her regulars. The tourists would hopefully be out in force and she'd be able to sell much of her older merchandise thus giving her the much needed funds to invest in newer stock.
Kicking back her duvet she stretched and yawned, a cup of tea to help wake her up, then her shower she decided. She'd have her breakfast in the café old Mrs. Jones ran in the market square. She'd be very ready for her bacon sandwich by the time she'd set up her stall and she needed to set up in her favorite spot before anyone else got there before her.
Dera looked around her and sighed happily. She loved the autumn, especially days like today when the air was crisp and sharp. Living so near the beautiful mountains of North Wales wasn't so bad either, she loved living away from the smog and fumes of the cities. She'd spent several years living in London and had missed the Welsh countryside of her childhood. Leaving her corporate job and returning to her roots had been one of the best decisions she'd ever made.
After setting up her stall to her satisfaction she leaned over to the elderly lady manning a knitting wool stall near to her, "can you watch my stall for me whilst I go grab a bite to eat from Mrs. Jones? I'm starving."
Gladys nodded and smiled, "No problem Cariad" she replied, "Here's some money, can you fetch me something back as well?" Affection flooded Dera as the old woman spoke the welsh term of endearment. Translated it meant 'sweetheart' and it always made her feel nostalgic. It was something her mother had always said, with love, when Dera and her sisters were younger.
She grinned at the old lady and shot over to the small market café where the smell of bacon wafted making her feel even hungrier. She added two cups of tea to her order of bacon sandwiches and exchanged pleasantries with the older lady whilst they were being prepared.
Once she was back, both women sat back and enjoyed their simple breakfast whilst Dera ran a practiced eye over her stall. She had a different section for each of her wares and she wanted to make sure they all looked their best. She loved meeting the people, both regular and tourists that came to buy from her stall, but she also had a sharp business head on her shoulders and her wares had to look their best. Her herbs and potions were her biggest sellers; she carried a few trinkets from some of her more artistic friends, who made them in the nearby picturesque town of Llangollen, but mostly she concentrated on her herbal remedies and potions. She had a number of diehard regulars who swore by her concoctions as well as the tourists who were usually fascinated by what she had on her stall, so she was looking forward to a busy day. She smiled to herself. It was a good job she was a Twenty First Century girl, only a couple of hundred years ago she'd have been accused of witchcraft; the thought made her smile secretly to herself.
The market soon began to fill up with people and she shortly had a small crowd milling around her stall asking for advice on various ailments. Dera had a strict code of conduct, she never diagnosed an illness in anyone and she always advised her customers to attend their GP if they were asking advice about anything that was less than minor. Having said that she could tell with just a touch of her hand whether anyone was seriously ill or not, she had never had to worry about inadvertently making anyone ill or their condition worse.
She had just finished selling some herbal tea to one of her regular customers for dyspepsia when she had the weirdest feeling. It felt as though someone was staring straight at her. She turned around quickly but couldn't spot them so she shrugged and turned back to her customer.
"Here you are Mrs. Roberts, make an infusion of these leaves, steep them for ten minutes and then drink the liquid slowly. Add some honey to sweeten the taste. I have some homemade honey here from Mr. Davis's bees if you don't have any, it's not expensive. Keep away from fried food, it plays havoc with your digestion. And go see the doctor if it doesn't get any better, he'll want to check up on you"
"You're a good girl Dera." Mrs. Roberts replied. "You're a real credit to your grandma, you've done her proud."
Dera felt a prickle of tears at the back of her eyes and blinked them away. "That's a very kind thing to say, Mrs. Roberts." She said softly, "I like to think I've remembered most of what she taught me but sometimes I'm not so sure, I still miss her so much."
"I don't think she could have done better herself." The older woman replied gruffly. "We were friends for years, it's wonderful to see you carrying on her work."
Dera hugged the older woman. "Thanks Mrs. Roberts, you've just made my day." She watched fondly as her grandmother's oldest friend walked away. Now in her eighties the little woman still walked with a back that was ramrod straight.
It was getting close to mid-afternoon and the crowds were gradually starting to thin out as the air became cooler. Dera shivered though not with the cold, she could feel eyes boring into her and even though she had searched repeatedly for whom they might belong to, she had not yet been able to pinpoint who it might be. She decided to forget it, she was hungry again and a late lunch sounded a good idea. She decided to shut her stall up for half an hour whilst she ate her packed lunch and checked her eBay store for orders. Thank heavens for mobile internet she thought wryly to herself as she got settled onto her fold up chair.