Flight into the Mountain
“Chalice … Chalice …”
Chalice opened her eyes and squinted, not recognizing the face in front of her. Jeremiah stood above her, nudging her shoulder. For just a moment, she had no idea where she was. Then, suddenly, the memory of the night before came rushing back to her. She nodded, brushed the sleep from her eyes, and sat up in bed.
He smiled. “Hey sleepy, time to get up. I woke you a little early. We’ve got to get going soon.”
Still drowsy, she glanced over toward the window. The day was just creeping in. Although, when she took a closer look, she noticed that it was still fairly dark outside. She realized then that the peak of Mt. Vaassa blocked much of the morning sun as it loomed over the Auramont Vale.
She peered around the room. It was large, with a soft, warm décor and plush carpets. She felt a rush of gratitude when she saw her saddlebags and cloak lying on the flowered divan in the west corner.
Jeremiah must have brought them up, she thought. She was happy that they had been reunited. What would I have done without him?
She pulled herself reluctantly from the blankets. She was stalling. She wanted to stay wrapped in their warmth forever. Stretching, she made her way to the divan and groped in her bags for her other riding dress. She removed a darker blue, un-embroidered garment that she slipped on quickly. Then, she placed the dirty dress she had worn the day before into the bag.
She looked down at the dark blue cotton on her body. She liked this one. It was simple and plain, but very comfortable and fit her curves to a perfection. She slipped on her boots and broach and began to do the buttons on the front of her dress as she walked to the window on the north side of the room. She was on the last button when her fingers stopped. In between two willow trees stood black sails. She moved closer to the window and glanced down toward the dock. At the end of the pier floated a huge brigantine. A flag was attached to a halyard on the mainmast. It was jet black and flashed a bright scarlet flame as it whipped in the wind.
“Jeremiah!” As soon as she had called for him, he burst into the room, breathless.
“Yeah, I know. I just saw it, too.” He rushed to the window next to her and opened it a crack to hear what was happening. Peering through the drooping branches of the trees, they saw two men lowering a wide plank onto the end of the pier from a tall hatch in the hull of the ship. Two others were securing the hawsers onto bollards. A large man dressed in a black cloak and mail strode casually down the plank onto the pier. The same sigil on the ship’s flag stood out brightly across his chest. He turned and glanced up toward the others who were leading horses carefully down the plank. Jeremiah and Chalice remained as silent as they could and listened. They could barely hear the faint words in the distance.
“Remember Ivan, no mistakes this time. The Fierain wants him alive,” the man in black shouted to the men. Him? Who are they looking for? Chalice wondered quietly as she glanced at Jeremiah. Just then, a red falcon flew from the main mast and came to settle upon the man’s outstretched arm.
“Hey! I know that bird. It tried to attack me yesterday when I was walking to the house,” Chalice said angrily. Apart from its color, there was something unusual about the falcon, although she couldn’t quite put her finger on it.
“We’ve got to get out of here, Chalice,” Jeremiah said as he bolted for the divan to collect her bags.
“I can fight!” she said defiantly. She wasn’t about to run like a coward.
YOU ARE READING
When Chalice sets off for Branbury in the middle of the night with her grandfather's instructions, she has no idea of the dangers that await her. The King's men have destroyed her home village of Canton and she is suddenly thrown into a Terravailian...