Chapter IX

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To say that it was difficult to walk in that ground was not enough, as more than once one of us fell because of its irregularity, making a wrong step or a not paying enough attention to the many roots that reclaimed that zone as theirs.

"My house is on the North," had said Wiese in the morning after we had an improvised breakfast with some fruits and eggs I found not far from where we slept, as I was the first who woke up.

"Do you know how far?" Asked Pandora. I remained in silence, thinking nothing in particular.

"I'm... I'm not sure," they confessed. "I was... kidnapped. It was a couple of days ago."

"What? Who did it?" She asked suddenly.

"I never saw them before, but they had dark, blue skin and slanted eyes, pointed ears and were very tall," they shivered by remembering those creatures.

"Do you think those could have been dark elves?" Pandora asked me.

"I'm not sure, maybe, but why would they want them?" I said confused, as I didn't find it any sense.

"You know they often use blood in their magic, there's no other reason." She said simply. Wiese shivered at the thought and I hugged them, hoping that could help. Although I wasn't that sure about that idea, I didn't say anything else not to worry Wiese. There was something inside of me telling me that was not the case.

We finished eating in silence, each of us think on our own things. The days was very calmed and with nothing near to us, so Pandora decided to do a quick spell to know what path to follow. As we didn't have any clue where the North was while it was daytime.

She had some herbs she saved for times like that one, made a triangle in the most even part of the ground, said a couple of words, formed the same shape with her hands, with the thumps and index fingers touching.

Wiese looked at it still afraid, hidden behind me. I knew they was still terrified, but I was sure that, after a time, maybe they could see that magic wasn't evil, but neutral, and only the witch could define which change would be done, if malevolent or benevolent.

After a couple of seconds, the dead leaves began to float in the air, creating abstract forms as the spell took its shape, ending as a direct arrow at the height of Pandora's chest. Having a more specific and direct indication was impossible, and my friend smiled to see the result.

"If we all are ready, I think we can start with the trip," said Pandora.

We had been walking for a long while, until we all started to get hungry, and there was nothing on sight that could serve as lunch. I felt fine, I could still wait for some minutes, but just looking at Wiese's face made me know they really needed to eat.

"Why don't you sit for a moment while I talk to Pandora?" I asked them. As they was really tired, there was no need to say it twice. Their face of relief brought me a smile instantly. When I looked at Pandora, I had the impression she already knew what I was about to ask her.

"I know, but I cannot sense anything alive in this part of the forest," she said tired when I was nearer.

"Are you sure? I don't like to see them like that." I was concerned about Wiese, and their face seemed to be paler than before.

"Nothing at... Oh, splendid," she said, annoyed. "Go with Wiese, shadows coming."

She turned her back on me as I went in a hurry. "What's wrong?" They asked worried.

"More shadows," he trembled when I took his hand and searched for a hiding place. "I keep my promises, Wiese, and I told you nothing will happen to you, right?" They nodded and I saw a dead tree with a hole big enough for them to hide inside. "Then trust in me."

Pandora was preparing a defensive spell, just to give us some time. Many red circles were appearing in the surroundings as she draw the same rune, a square withing a circle, again and again. I recognized that one the moment I saw it, and new Wiese will be terrified.

Wiese, trust me, nothing will happen to you, I thought, hoping they could hear me.

Right after that, the first explosion occurred. This time, the shadows were several snakes with a poisonous tip at the end of the body. One of them had brushed one of the circles, causing it to convulse in the air, letting the flames devour everything.

Pandora started to make the same rune once again after it reacted, trying to keep the barrier as long as she could, but I was already taking my dagger. I knew it wouldn't take long for one of those engenders to get in and try to swallow us alive.

Despite Pandora had almost every corner of the zone covered, I kept an eye on the other side of the circle, until it happened. After one explosion, a creature came inside. I ran to it, cut off the head of a cut, and shouted to Pandora to remake the rune, only for it to explode immediately.

As before, I killed all the creatures I saw as soon as I was near enough. I was thankful that my royal dress had been torn apart a while ago, leaving me with a mini skirt that allowed me to move much more. However, I knew that that night I while need to redo the bandages that protected my legs from any harm.

"Alynne," shouted Pandora, doing three more runes, "there are already very few of them, hide." She didn't need to tell me twice. I ran to the three where Wiese was hidden, covering their head with the hands.

"There's going to be one final explosion, Wiese, and that will be all," I prevented them. They had their head hidden between their knees, but I saw their head saying yes. Maybe that was the best, as I would have been horror of a sight, all covered in blue blood.

I hugged them while the ground trembled, an effect of the spell. A wave of hot air came to us, and right after that, there was the silence. By adding a smaller circle inside the square, Pandora could provoke an explosion ten times bigger.

"It's okay, we can come out now," I said taking their shaking hands. "Don't be afraid, it's fine to go outside." The moment I saw their face, covered in sweat and tears, I felt I was making a mistake. I didn't know if it was okay for that child to see the bodies of so many dead shadows.

"Nothing happened, nothing bad happened, and nothing will happen to any of us, but we have to go out and find some place to rest and eat," I tried to sound confident but understanding at the same time. The insecure look on their face didn't help, but that was all I had. With their hand still in mine, both of us walked to where Pandora was standing. Wiese was still trembling.

"There are some trees with fruit near here," said my friend, visibly tired.

We all walked in silence, reached the place, ate as much as we could, took our time to rest, hidden in a covered zone, as Pandora was running out of mana, and when we felt better, we resumed the march.

It didn't take us long until we found the ruins of what seemed to be a big building; not a palace or a castle, but maybe a mansion, the home of a big family that no longer existed, with walls of Wiese height, little waterfalls everywhere, plats that reclaimed their rightful place and hardly any roof, but we could still spend the night in there still.

Considering what had happened in the last days, it seemed like a piece of heaven for me.

Considering what had happened in the last days, it seemed like a piece of heaven for me

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