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Authors: Callie Kanno

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BOOK: The Threshold Child
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Her fears proved to be well founded.

The relief that they felt when the whispering forest came into
view was quick to die. A warning cry from the back of the group brought all of
their eyes behind them.

A party of Shimat were riding towards them at full speed.

“To the forest!” shouted Adesina as she spurred her horse forward.
“The
vyala
will offer protection!”

Chapter Fifty-two:
The Boon
 

They rode as fast as they could, but the Shimat were gaining
ground. Somewhere along the way they must have switched horses, because these
ones ran as though they were fresh.

Adesina turned in her saddle to give instructions to L’iam as they
rode. “Take them deeper into the woods, where they will be safe.”

As they broke through the trees, she swung one leg over her
horse’s neck and dropped to the ground. Then she turned, preparing to fight.

L’iam’s voice was filled with panic as he realized her intention.
“Adesina, no!”

But they had all ridden past her by now. Only Ravi had been able
to stop quickly enough to join her.

She called forth her power, which was severely depleted, and
waited for the few seconds before the Shimat came upon her. She desperately
wished she had not lost her Blood Sword in the fortress. She felt vulnerable
without it. All she had now was her father’s dagger and what was left of her
vyala
.

As her limbs were filled with energy, she became aware of the life
of the forest. The fringe, where she stood, was not quite as awake as the heart
of the woods, but it still felt as if it were conscious of her presence.

She grabbed a low hanging branch and pulled herself up in order to
give herself a better attacking position. She crouched on the limb just in time
spring forward, grab another low branch and swing around, knocking the lead
Shimat off of it’s horse.

The other Shimat pulled up sharply, drawing their weapons in
preparation of a fight. Ravi gave a frightening roar, sending the horses into
chaos. Adesina jumped lightly higher into the trees, using the shadows to hide
herself. She snatched two throwing knives from her belt and hurled them with
deadly accuracy.

The Shimat saw the source of the knives and Adesina had to move
quickly to avoid their counterattacks. She moved deeper into the forest,
leaping from tree to tree, and Ravi followed on the ground below. Their enemies
were not far behind.

As she moved she saw flashes of white flitting around on the
ground below her, and she heard the voices of the spirits that resided in this
refuge. She did her best to not be distracted by their presence, but their
words filtered up to her ears.

“Dark souls have entered our haven.”

“There yonder doth our sister flee.”

“We must lend her aid!”

“Nay, we ought not interfere.”

Peace.

The silent voice resounded in Adesina’s soul.

The time has come. Are you prepared?

Somehow, she knew that the question was meant for her. She had no
idea what the forest was talking about, but anything had to be better than
trying to defend a group of helpless L’avan against armed Shimat.

“Yes!” she cried as she scrambled through the foliage.

The earth began to rumble and the trees began to moan. A powerful
wind ripped through the leaves and threw the pursuing Shimat off balance.
Adesina was forced to grip the branches around her to keep from falling.

YOU ARE NOT WELCOME HERE, CHILDREN OF
MEN! FLEE OR BE DESTROYED!

The words were not spoken audibly, or even in what could be
classified as actual words, but the meaning could be felt even by those who did
not have the gift of
vyala
. Fear was
apparent on the faces of the Shimat, but all of them held to their training,
which told them to stand their ground.

The ground opened at the feet of the pursuers, swallowing several
of them. Their screams were cut off as the earth closed again. Trees came
crashing down like fists upon the heads of the Shimat, and the powerful winds
tossed them through the air like dolls.

Adesina clung to a branch and searched frantically for her
guardian, who was somewhere on the ground with them. “Ravi! Ravi!”

Her shouts couldn’t be heard over the howling gale.

Suddenly, she felt an invisible power take her from the branches
as gently as if she had been an infant. At first she struggled against it, but
it was as useless as fighting against water.

Peace, my child. I will not harm you.

Adesina stopped straining, but still scanned the ground for her
friends. The invisible force wrapped her in a warm blanket of darkness and
whisked her away.

The silence was profound, especially when contrasted to the tumult
of the moment before. A sense of peace settled on Adesina’s weary heart,
refreshing it in a way she had never experienced before. Her entire body was
filled with a reviving energy, warming it and leaching away every ache and
pain.

When she opened her eyes, she was looking up at a forest canopy.
The late afternoon sun filtered down through the leaves, warming her face. She
could hear the carefree trilling of birds above her head, and she could see
butterflies fluttering from flower to flower.

She sat up and looked around, trying to figure out where she was.

Ravi lay a few feet away, his eyes closed and his form very still.
Adesina crawled over to him, feeling strangely weak as she moved.

“Ravi?”

His eyes opened at her touch. “Ma’eve? What happened?”

She shook her head. “I do not know. I am not even certain where we
are.”

Her guardian sat up and looked around carefully. He studied the
position of the sun for several moments before saying, “I think we are far
north.”

Adesina frowned in confusion. “Do you think…the forest…?”

“Transported us?” he finished for her. He got to his feet.
“Perhaps. I have never heard of anything like that, but the old
vyala
had powers we cannot imagine.”

With the help of a nearby tree, Adesina pulled herself up to a
standing position. She tested her weight on her legs, and found that her
strength was slowly returning. “We need to find the others.”

He nodded in agreement and waited while she scanned the area with
her
vyala
.

Once again she felt the life of the forest, but this one was
different from the one they had been in before. It was less wild and more
peaceful. It felt wise and calm, undisturbed by the troubles of the outside
world. It did not speak to her, but it was very aware of her presence.

Adesina pointed in the direction they needed to go, and they began
walking. The horses came into view first. They stood in a group, grazing
peacefully, as if they had not recently been in the midst of battle. Her sharp
eyes spotted the horse she had been riding, and she search for any sign of a
rider.

There was no human form in sight.

“L’iam?” she called out with a hint of desperation. “E’nes?
Father?”

Her guardian shouted from the trees. “Ma’eve! Over here!”

She ran towards him, ignoring the stings of the branches that
whipped her arms and face. She burst through the undergrowth and saw the still
figures of perhaps a dozen L’avan. Most of them were the unfamiliar faces of
the rescued prisoners, but at the far end she saw the pale face of her brother.

“E’nes!” Adesina rushed to his side and put a hand on his
forehead. “E’nes?”

He moaned softly and turned his head back and forth. Finally he
opened his eyes, squinting against the light. “Adesina? What happened?”

“The forest sent us north, somewhere.”

The others were beginning to stir as well. She searched each face,
feeling a sense of panic rise in her chest.

She turned back to her brother. “E’nes, where are the others?”

He was still looking slightly dazed. “What?”

She did a quick head count. There were only fifteen L’avan in the
glade, which meant that two people were missing.

“Where are L’iam and Father?”

The magnitude of her question hit him. He sat up so quickly that
she had to jerk back to avoid a collision.

“They went back for you.”

Adesina was finding it difficult to breath. “They did what?”

“They told me to continue leading the L’avan deeper into the
forest, then they turned their horses around to ride back to help you.”

In a flash, she was on her feet, calling for Ravi as she hurried
back through the woods. “They must be back closer to where I woke up. We have
to find them!”

Her sight was tinged light green as she cast her gaze around the
trees. A strange kaleidoscope of color caught her attention from the corner of
her eye, and she saw that her guardian was the glowing source. She decided
against asking questions for the moment, but she knew that somehow he was using
his own unique gifts to help her.

“There!” he said, running even faster.

Me’shan lay half sprawled beneath a bush. Adesina pulled him out
as gently as she could, checking to see if he was injured.

“Father? Can you hear me?”

He was severely disoriented when he became conscious. “E’rian?”

She shook her head. “No, Father, it is Adesina.”

Me’shan sat up and looked around. “Where is L’iam?”

“Do you remember what was happening before you were brought here?”
she asked.

Her father focused on clearing his thoughts. He pointed in a
direction away from where she had come. “I think he was to my right.”

She threw a glance at her guardian as she headed that way. “Stay
with him, Ravi.”

Adesina used her
vyala
once more to search for her lost friends. She couldn’t look as far as she
normally could because of the interference she received from the presence of
the old
vyala
. Even so, it wasn’t
long until she spotted one more form on the ground.

She almost tripped in her haste to get to him. “L’iam!”

He was already waking up by the time she reached him. He wrapped
his arms around her as she fell into his embrace, holding her as tightly as he
could.

“You reckless fool!” he said in her ear. “Never do that again! How
did you expect to take on half a dozen Shimat by yourself?”

Adesina half laughed and half sobbed. “I had it under control.”

L’iam raised himself up on one elbow, looking down at her with the
sun illuminating her features. He brushed the hair off of her forehead and
cupped her face. “How many times do you think I can bear losing you?”

Her heart gave a quick jump at his words. She looked up into his
gold and light green eyes and saw them shimmering with deep emotion.

Suddenly, she realized what it would have meant for her if she had
lost him.

“You will not lose me,” she said softly. “I promise.”

A brilliant smile slowly spread across his face. “Good,” he
replied simply.

The soft tread of Ravi’s feet could be heard approaching them.
“Ma’eve, we need to get back to the others.”

The two L’avan got to their feet and L’iam took her hand. Me’shan
stood next to Ravi, looking pale and worn. He gave them a small smile before
turning to walk away. They made their way back to the others as quickly as
possible.

They were greeted with relief by all the L’avan. E’nes looked
around, trying to account for all of the prisoners. “Is this everyone?”

Adesina nodded slowly as she scanned the group again. “Yes, I
believe so. We must hurry now. The boon of the forest has brought us most of
the way home, but I am anxious to reach Yavar.”

All of the L’avan agreed. Everyone gathered together and set off
again, hurrying through the trees. As they came to the edge of the forest and
onto the open grasslands, they all stopped in their tracks.

The sun was setting, giving the sky a blood red tint. Clouds of an
approaching storm blackened the horizon, and a chilling wind began to blow. In
the distance, smoke could be seen rising from the remnants of war machines and
the damage they had done to the surrounding area. The fields were trampled by
the running feet of thousands of soldiers, and their bodies lay where they had
fallen in battle.

It was as if Adesina had stepped back into her Dream, only now it
had become a heart- wrenching reality.

Chapter
Fifty-three: Resolutions
 

“We must reach Yavar.”

The wooden tone in L’iam’s voice chilled Adesina’s heart. She
tried to speak as gently as possible. “There may be nothing left. The Shimat
would have certainly destroyed the capital city.”

He shook his head stubbornly. “If there are any survivors, they
will be in Yavar.”

She nodded, and gestured for the others to follow her as she
nudged her horse forward. They headed south, towards the lone mountain where
the capital of Pevothem was located. The sound of quiet weeping could be heard
from every L’avan as they passed through the carnage.

BOOK: The Threshold Child
9.35Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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