Chapter Six

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Parting Ways

The ceremony that had been taking place inside the big building must have been ending. Several members of the tribe came out carrying large feathers that they were using to sweep the ground. The motion created a path from the hut to the lake. Their skin was a pale and creamy white color and their hair was fine and blonde. So blonde that it almost appeared white. She could not help but notice the similarity to Evangeline.

Maybe all spirit users or mystic healers had hair that color. They took no notice of Ryhan, but she did not want to be in the way so she moved farther back and observed from a distance. A few moments later, the rest of the villagers came out standing in line on either side of the newly created path. It was difficult to see through the wall of bodies, but she caught a glimpse of a young girl making her way to the lake slowly. Three elderly women followed the girl.

Surprised by the young girls nakedness as she emerged from behind the villagers, Ryhan observed the old women lift her onto their shoulders and throw her into the lake. The women, who Ryhan could see much more clearly, looked very bizarre. They shaved their hair completely off except for small strands around their faces, and there was some sort of circular disk inserted in their bottom lip so that it looked like a large plate stuck out from their mouths.

The only exception was a woman who appeared to be the eldest. It was obvious that she had a disk in her lip at some point, but where the object should have been was a loose hole big enough for her to stick her hand through. The girl did not fight them submerging her into the water. It was only when the women held her under and stopped her from resurfacing that Ryhan became concerned.

She started to move towards the lake. A firm hand grabbed her shoulder and stopped her. Turning around quickly she saw a large man tower over her by nearly two feet. He said nothing, only shook his head. Ryhan did not need him to speak to understand that she was not to interfere.

Nervously she looked back at the water to see if the girl had come up yet. She had not. What was going on? The girl started to move, but the women held her under firmly. It was at that point that the girl started thrashing around, clearly in a panic. Without thinking about it, Ryhan started to head for the water and the man behind her stopped her again.

"LET GO OF ME!" She screamed at him as she pounded her fists on his chest. He held her tightly around her waist. Ryhan yelled at the group of people observing the women who were drowning the girl, "WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE? SOMEONE HELP HER!"

Ryhan felt herself losing control of her emotions. She tried hard to calm the fire raging inside her, but it was too late. Pain erupted behind her eyes, and the sparks shooting down her spine crippled her. She slumped into the man's arms.

Fighting to stay awake and not lose consciousness she said, "I'm sorry, I tried."

Gavin's worried face was the last thing she remembered seeing. Evangeline's delicate voice assured her everything would be ok.

She was running as fast as she could. Her lungs felt as if they might burst. Her legs were on fire. She needed to keep moving and willed herself to go faster. A menacing laugh surrounded her. She could not get away from it.

"Ryhan..." The voice teased. "There is no use in fighting me. This is where you belong. The others will never accept you. Not like I will. Come to me Ryhan." The ruby-eyed man emerged before her suddenly and she managed to stop only a few inches out of his reach.

He held his arms wide open for her and smiled, "Come to me." His voice was seductive and she could smell him. His smell was intoxicating. Sweet and smoky, like flowers on fire. She could not think clearly. Her thoughts hazy, she took a step towards him. He grabbed a hold of her hard and let out a shrieking laugh of victory.

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