Knights of Iyatula

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic


Ersus learns that his destiny is far greater than he might have ever thought, for him the journey has just begun.

Chapter 4 (v.1) - A Wedding and a Prophecy

Submitted: January 16, 2018

Reads: 58

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Submitted: January 16, 2018

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Ersus watched his daughter as she attacked her brother with an underhand thrust, shield held high. The sun danced and played off her golden hair and made her look even more beautiful, if that was at all possible. His son, Enoch, blocked the thrust and hit her shield with an overhand lunge. Ersus was amazed at how she was able to keep her balance, as Enoch was much bigger than her. When the boys started roughhousing with their sister, Ersus was always afraid that she would be hurt by the bigger boys, yet she was always the one healing their cuts and bruises.
Ersus went back into the house that he had built for his family at the edge of the Elf forest. He had purchased the land from the Elf King with his severance pay from the army. Here he knew that he would be able to protect his family, as one had to cross through the forest to reach them, and the Elves did not take kindly to intruders. It had been fourteen years since he had brought Cassandra home and they had loved her as one of their own from the start. He heard a cry of pain from outside and he knew that Cassandra had just beaten Enoch again. He turned and peered through the window and saw his son lying on the ground holding his arm, while his sister was doing some kind of dance around him. This had been a ritual since they were small, first she’d hurt them, then gloat and then heal.
“Well, what say you big brother? I am waiting, and my patience wears thin.” Cassandra said while dancing around Enoch. 
“I will not ask you today, I would rather die!” 
“Very well,” Cassandra said picking up her sword and shield and heading toward the house. 
“Okay, okay, please your majesty, queen of the five brothers that are stupid idiots, pigs in your Realm, would you do me the honour of healing these wounds that you have so graciously inflicted upon my unworthy body?” Enoch finally cried unable to take the pain emanating from the cut in his arm. Cassandra had forced the boys to say this every time they wanted her to help them after she had beaten them. Although Enoch was the younger of the five, it was usually Hothosis the oldest that had taken the most punishment from his sister. 
“Oh very well, your lowliness,” she said, dropping the sword and shield and walking over to her brother. She rubbed her hands together and put them palms down just above his wound. A bright white light shot from her hands and washed over the cut, healing it instantaneously so that not even a scar was left behind.
“Now I’m going to get you,” Enoch said jumping up and chasing his sister around the house. She ran from him, shrieking with delight. Ersus watched them a little while longer and turned to his wife that was busy cooking lunch over open fire in the fire place. “When will Hothosis return?” He asked his wife while she was stirring the stew she had prepared for lunch. 
“I am not sure; he has gone to speak to Giselle’s parents about the wedding. You know how her father can be. Besides, we will all be there in two days for the wedding anyway, so I do not think he will be coming this way until afterwards,” she said, still stirring the stew. 
“I see, but he’s actually not the one I’m concerned with, it’s those three lazy brothers of his, who went with him to escape their chores.” Mona stopped stirring and turned to face her husband. 
“Oh Ersus, leave them be for this once, they will all be back after the wedding and besides, with Giselle and Hothosis coming to live in the house you built for them , you will have grandchildren to keep yourself busy,” she turned back to the stew and spooned a little out to taste.
The idea of grandchildren appealed to Ersus, and he smiled a little. Since leaving the army and hiding his family from prying eyes, he has devoted his time to building a successful farm with his five boys, and now he might have some grandsons to carry on his legacy.
There was a knock at the door and Ersus shouted.
“Oh by the gods, come in Zane, how many more times do I have to tell you that this house always welcomes you. Have you not become like a brother to me, I mean it’s not as though you want to leave me alone.” Zane came in through the door with his teeth showing through a huge grin. Ersus had told Zane of Cassandra when they were well away from the camp at the Halume River. He had told Zane that he was to keep the secret and that this act would absolve him of the duty he had toward Ersus. But Zane wouldn’t hear of it and he became Cassandra’s uncle and mentor. It was Zane that had taught her to read and write, identify all the magical creatures in the Realm, the good as well as the bad. It was Zane that had taught her how to fight like a true soldier. He did this in secret, as he always enjoyed seeing her brothers lose to her.
“Hi, Mona, has Mr. Grumpy got nothing better to do than torment you the whole day?” Zane asked as he sat in a chair opposite Ersus. 
“You know him, the boys are out having a good time, Enoch and Cassandra are grownup, so he takes solace in tormenting me,” she answered with a smile. 
“Would the two of you like to be alone to discuss me, I could go and tend to the sheep,” Grumbled Ersus, not amused at their banter. Both Zane and Mona burst out laughing. It was so infectious that Ersus started laughing as well.
Enoch and Cassandra came running through the door, wondering what all the excitement was about. They stared at the people in the house who seemed to be laughing at nothing in particular. When the laughing fits finally died down, Zane enquired as to when they would be leaving for the wedding. 
“I have to take a cow, a sheep and some vegetables to the Elf King this afternoon. When I return, we will pack, ready to leave before the sun’s first rays,” Ersus answered him. 
“So that means the two of you should get packing right now. No more horsing around, lunch will be ready in an hour,” Mona said to her two children. Cassandra and Enoch ran up the stairs, two at a time, to pack for the big occasion.
“I am worried, Zane. I have hidden that child from the world for so long, I am afraid to take her out there. What if someone sees through my deception?” Ersus said as soon as his children were out of earshot. 
“Do not worry my friend; I will be there to help protect her. I don’t think anyone will think it strange. Besides, the Shadow King believes all the healers to be dead. So stop worrying and let’s go and have some fun for a change,” Zane said, before standing up from his chair. 
“I will gather some carrots and beets, they are big this year. You can get the livestock and we’ll meet up at the forest’s edge. We can take the offering together,” Ersus said to Zane as he was leaving through the door.
2
Zane waited at the edge of the forest. He disliked going into the forest of the Elves. Although he had survived many battles, nothing scared him like the Elves. They were as mean as they were malicious. Most feared them, because Elves were the eldest race of their world and they had a highly developed civilisation. Even armies of terrible and inexorable enemies showed respect for the armies of the Elves. Elves have a paleness colour of the skin and noble, beautiful lineaments. It is said that Elves are immortal and not as susceptible to illness as, for example, dwarfs or humans.
In their early years, Elves were prepared to fight, and taught war skills. Therefore, Elves were masters of the sword, bow and spear. Elves of noble descent also learned to ride with exceptional dexterity and normally entered into an elite unit of soldiers. Their weapons and armour were skilfully crafted and were normally handed down from father to son. The armour consisted of a rare metal most commonly referred to as ‘sky silver’. The best weapons were the ones forged from sky silver in dragon’s breath, but as dragons spent most of their days avoiding everyone, these weapons were extremely rare. One such weapon was a sword and shield that had been crafted for the first King of Iyatula, but these had been lost to the royal family for close on nine centuries. 
Elves refined their sorcery to a high standard, but female Elves were known to excel and possess exceptional skills. The female Elves possessed a further natural ability to charm animals and were known to ride only unicorns. However some females would wait for many years to possess such a creature as the unicorn selected the Elf. So it was safe to say that Zane feared these creatures.
He spied Ersus coming up the slope toward him and waved; Ersus saw him and headed in his direction, leading the sheep and cow. As he reached Zane, Ersus handed him a bright red flower the size of a chestnut, with triple rows of petals, glowing as bright as the sun. Zane took the Dragon’s Blood from him and popped it in his mouth, chewed and swallowed. 
“Are you sure this will protect us from Elf magic?” Zane asked anxiously. 
“Well, it always has, besides we are giving them food, I don’t think they’ll bite the hand that feeds them. But just to be sure…” Ersus popped a Dragon’s Blood in his mouth and chewed on it. 
“From what I’ve heard more and more Elves are arriving every day to hide from the Shadow King. That means there will be earth Elves in this forest. So soon we’ll be mining rocks as well, to keep them happy.” 
“I don’t think it’s that bad, let’s get this over with, we still have to pack the wagon,” Ersus said stepping beyond the boundary into the forest.
They reached the clearing just as the sun was reaching its zenith in the sky, but instead of the usual quiet clearing with nothing and no one in sight, there was a gathering of Elves from every part of Iyatula. The King was standing on a tree stump in the middle of the clearing, trying to get the crowds to calm down. 
“Please, quieten down before I lose my temper!” He shouted above the noise. The gathering of Elves immediately fell silent. Ersus cleared his throat and a multitude of Elves were made aware of their intrusion. They assumed an attack formation, wands, swords, spears and bows at the ready and awaited the order from their King. 
“Calm down, they are my guests,” the King said, exasperated. The King stepped off the stump and walked towards Ersus and Zane. Aenarion and Alarielle ruled the Elf Kingdom and they were able to transform into the figures of their deities. Aenarion was known to transform into ‘Orion’, who is the god of the forest and earth and Alarielle would transform into ‘Ishar’, the goddess of the air. Both were protected by an elite guard called the Phoenix Regiment. These warriors swore a holy oath never to speak and they were all halberdiers. It was these guards followed their King as he approached the visitors.
 “Greetings man and man’s friend,” the King welcomed them, “leave our food and go back to where you came from.” With this he turned and walked back to his stump. 
“We will graciously accept your offer your majesty, but I have come to ask permission for a crossing,” Ersus replied, leading the livestock to the centre of the clearing. 
“I see, we shall discuss these matters in private, follow me, man.” The King turned and disappeared into an overgrown area on the opposite side of the clearing.
Ersus and Zane followed and they could feel the thousands of watchers following their every move, weapons still at the ready. As they passed into the denser area, the shouting from the clearing started up again. Ersus saw the King sitting on the branch of a tree with his head in his hands. 
“What’s going on, King Alarielle?” He asked the King as he approached him. The King noticed that the Phoenix guard had followed them and told them to leave. Ersus and the King had been good friends, ever since he had bought the piece of land from the King, but the King could never show this to his people. They were not allowed to be friendly towards any man, a rivalry that went back many centuries. But the King liked Ersus, for he saw the good in him.
“It’s that Shadow King; he has started capturing all manner of magical beings. It is said that he has built a machine that can suck all the magic from their bodies; the problem is that he specifically wants Elves. All my children have started fleeing here for protection, as the Elf forest is still quite impregnable, but for how long, I don’t know?” Ersus could see the despair on the King’s face. 
“Has he gone mad? No army has ever dared attack the Elf armies; they have proved too strong across the centuries.” Ersus’s concern broke through his normal placid exterior. 
“Is there anything I can do to help?” Ersus asked. 
“You know that Elves will not except help from man, besides you still eat the Dragon’s Blood flower before visiting. There is just too much distrust in our worlds. So, no Ersus, you cannot! The truth is that he has become stronger in his magic and the fact that he is using the dragons, well, that is what gives him the edge over us,” the King said and sighed. Ersus knew that this was not true and noticed that the King was hiding something, but decided not to ask. 
“I understand the wedding is at hand, and I suppose that is why you need to cross the forest. You have my permission. Please Ersus, return safely. Our days are becoming increasingly darker and who knows maybe we will have to learn to trust one another soon?” Ersus nodded and watched as the King returned to the clearing, his head hanging. Ersus had never seen the Elf King so worried, something was very wrong.
Both men left the forest with heavy hearts; it was becoming clear that the Shadow King was getting stronger and bolder with every passing day. As they stepped from the forest Zane looked at Ersus and asked, 
“Do you know if there is any resistance left?” 
“I have heard that he has entered through the northern border and that Licentious and his blood thirsty armies are marching over one village after another. There are still small bands of guerillas making life difficult for him, but, at the rate he’s going the whole of Iyatula will be completely destroyed by the end of the year,” Ersus’s training had taught him to be calm on the outside, but he was worried. 
“What’s he after, I mean he has effectively taken over the Kingdom, what more could he want? Total annihilation makes no sense, who will he rule over?” Zane asked as they neared the house. 
“I don’t know, but he is after something, and knowing him it, can’t be good for us.” Both men agreed and left the Elf King and the forest behind them on their way home. The men entered the house and put their worries aside for the time being. Mona had already dished up and the men took their places at the table. Both Cassandra and Enoch were already seated. Mona sat down and Ersus took up his spoon and started eating. As was custom, no one was allowed to start eating until the head of the house started. 
Cassandra grabbed her spoon and started wolfing down her stew, stopping only long enough to break off chunks bread to dip in the sauce, before wolfing it down as well. “Slow down, Cas, you’ll choke if you’re not careful,” Ersus said to his daughter amused. “Okay dad,” she said in a muffled reply through food filled cheeks. 
“I’m amazed at how much she eats, yet she stays thin as a rake,” Zane commented. The meal finished with conversations over Hothosis’s wedding and growing excitement at the impending departure. Cassandra was especially excited as she had never been off the farm.

3
The band of travellers set off early in the morning, before the sun had risen, Cassandra was unable to contain her excitement and was the first to go into the forest, even though the sun’s rays weren’t even strong enough to break the early morning grey. The other four passed into forest, finding themselves surrounded by thicker and more lush plant life than they were accustomed to on the farm. To Cassandra, who was already well ahead, this was more beautiful than anything she had seen before. 
The forest was unusually quiet and this worried Ersus. He was sure that the Elves were planning retaliation on the shadow King; they would not be satisfied with anything less. What was most worrying of all was the fact that the shadow King had attacked the Elves in the first place. He thought it prudent to catch up on the local gossip once they reached Unicorns Keep.
They followed a moss covered path to a bubbling stream; Ersus led them across a shallow section that he knew well. Ahead of them the path dipped into a steep slope. Zane and Ersus made their way carefully down the slope, their sliding feet causing stones to tumble in front of them. After them Enoch guided the cart down, hanging onto the back to slow its descent. Behind him came his mother Mona and sister Cassandra. 
“Look out you two, it’s very slippery,” Enoch shouted while doing his best to slow the cart and horse. 
Just ahead, a gigantic boulder stood in their path, Ersus knew that the Elves had placed the rock in the path to create a bottleneck should an army want to intrude. In this way, few Elves would be able to hold off the invaders, leaving the rest of the Elf army to prepare an effective offensive.
 They would have to circle around one side of it through an opening; only one at a time could pass. 
“I think the Elves put this here to protect the path from intruders. This part of the path had completely slipped my mind. Take only what you can carry, we’ll get the cart and horse when we get back,” Ersus said seeing the small opening. They all followed Ersus around the rock and came to the edge of the forest. Cassandra drew a breath as she looked down into the valley below; she had been wrong before, as this was surely the most beautiful sight she had ever seen.
The valley below reflected the bright blue sky that seemed to form a dome above, below silver rivers snaked in and out of green shrubbery and wild deer could be seen darting in and out the lush green foliage. Cassandra could no longer contain herself and ran down into the valley startling the deer and some beautifully coloured birds in a nearby tree. This sudden spark of colour added to the beauty of her surroundings and she was mesmerised into a trance of absolute tranquility. 
“Slow down, Cas, we’ll get there,” her father shouted, but to no avail. She was lost in paradise.
The rest of them finally caught up to her, finding her sitting beneath a pomegranate tree. “Father, this place is so beautiful, why do we live in the valley between the Elf forest and the high mountains?” She asked as her father stepped into the shade. 
“We will stop and rest here,” Ersus said to the others and turned to his daughter before continuing. “The soil is very fertile and perfect for farming, young lady.” 
“I’m no lady, father!” He beamed a massive smile at her father, stood up and went over to help her mother with the food.
After they had all eaten a lunch of cold chicken, eggs, beef sandwiches and ginger beer, Ersus hurried them on their way again. 
“We must reach Unicorns Keep before sunset, so let’s get moving,” he said. They set off once more. As they travelled, the scenery was as beautiful all the way. The rest of the journey was quite uneventful, to Cassandra’s dismay. They reached the village just as the last rays of the sun disappeared for the night.
4
Unicorns Keep was a small trading village that sat atop a hill and had been built by the first settlers nine centuries ago. It was one of the oldest villages in Iyatula. The streets were lined with buildings that housed some of the richest people in all the land. In the days before the Shadow King, Unicorns Keep was the money capital of Iyatula. However the taxes imposed by the shadow King had even impoverished this great village and most of the younger villagers had left to seek their fortunes elsewhere, leaving the older inhabitants to fend for themselves.
As they walked, the grandeur of what once was a great village, could be seen in the dusty signs in the shop windows. Gold embossed lettering that read; ‘Tax Consulting and Gold Trading’. 
The words at the bottom, which the owner had probably written himself in white paint, told of the hardships they were now faced with; ‘FOR SALE, see owner’
Hothosis was at the door waiting to greet them as they came in through the gate of small house at the end of the main street. The travellers eagerly greeted Hothosis and followed him into the house. Inside Hestes’s bride-to-be and her parents welcomed the weary travellers to their home. 
“You must be starving?” Giselle asked. 
“We are famished,” Ersus agreed as he looked at the beautiful young woman his son was about to marry. She was neither tall nor short and her dark brown eyes and honey blonde hair accentuated her beautiful twenty three year-old face. Her parents, Jensen and Hilda had always been very proud of her. As their only child, they had doted on her every waking moment of their lives. In contrast to Cassandra, who was built athletically and by all accounts was as hard and sinewy as her brothers, Giselle was petite and womanly. Ersus smiled inwardly and wondered how his son had gotten so lucky.
Moments later Hilda called from the kitchen and they all went to sit at the table. She served them roast chicken with vegetables and they all ate hungrily. After supper the women, including Cassandra who was going under protest, went to tidy the kitchen. The men retired to the lounge to talk amongst themselves while they waited for their women to rejoin them. 
“Where are your brothers?” Ersus asked Hothosis. 
“They’re visiting the triplets,” Hothosis said, with a sly smile on his face.
“What triplets?” Ersus asked concerned. 
“They’re known as the triplets of Unicorns Keep. Every young man in the region has tried to visit them, but it seems although they have taken a liking to your three boys. I’m sure old Patrick is none too happy about it,” Jensen said. Ersus wanted to find out more, but there were more pressing matters to discuss before they were joined by their better halves.
Jensen had been one of the top bankers in Unicorn, and was always privy to plenty of information, so Ersus asked, 
“What’s going on with the Shadow King?” Jensen walked to the door and peered to see that the others were still in the kitchen, when he was satisfied he walked to Ersus and spoke in a whisper. 
“It is said that the monks from the high mountain have been unable to ordain him true King. He believes it is because he needs all the ancient relics to increase his power, so now he has all his henchmen destroying the rest of Iyatula to find them,” he said. 
“But why is he attacking the Elves, if they were to launch an attack, he might lose Iyatula to them,” Ersus stated, still whispering. 
“That’s where you’re wrong; the attacks were just a diversion. You see what he was actually after was the princess Ariel, the King’s daughter, and from the latest news from my spies, he managed to capture her.” Ersus was startled at this news, as the old King had told him nothing.
“You see he wants to hold her to ransom and force the Elves to collect the relics that he thinks he needs,” Jensen continued. 
“He’s mad, but I hear talk of small bands of guerillas still attacking his camps.” 
“That is true also, but his worst enemy at the moment is the pirates. They have been raiding his merchant vessels quite successfully. It is said that they are led by a man so fearless that death itself will not come for him.” 
“These are dark times indeed; he will completely destroy us this time. If he cannot be ordained King, he will gladly destroy whoever stands in his way. Back when I was leading his armies, I believed that it was for a good cause. I will never be able to make up for my deeds,” Ersus finished just as the women entered the room chatting and giggling. 
They finished off the evening with talk of the wedding, and other lighthearted matters. Giselle showed them to their rooms and they all retired to bed. Ersus heard the front door open just as he was getting into bed, and knew that his other three sons had finally decided to return. He turned onto his side and was snoring loudly before they had even started up the stairs. 
That night Ersus had a strange dream. He was running in the forest of the Elves, chasing Cassandra. In his dream his feet felt as though they were dragging through mud. He called out to his daughter; he could feel the approaching danger. 
“Come father, the magic is just ahead,” he heard her shout from up ahead. He reached the stream and tried to cross in the shallows, but found the water deep. His worry for Cassandra pushed him forward and he plunged into the stream. As he hit the water the stream turned into a raging torrent and the water opened a hole that looked like a mouth filled with fangs, as sharp as darning needles, and swallowed him. He came to in a desert and there sitting in front of him was an old woman. He saw that she was at least two hundred years old, she was blind and had no teeth in her mouth and her skin had become dry and paper thin from age.
“Ah, son of Tok, you have made an incredible journey. Tomorrow at the wedding, you must look for me as I will be there. Be sure to seek beyond your imagination, otherwise you will not find me. I bring you great news, important news. Now awaken and find me!” Ersus sat upright in the bed trying to catch his breath, the dream had felt so real. He saw the sun shining through a crack in the curtains and realised that it was morning. He stood up, washed the beads of sweat from his forehead, dressed and headed downstairs, leaving his wife to sleep a little longer.

5
Everyone was busy with the day’s preparations and Ersus had no-one he could talk to about the dream that kept nagging at him. He had tried to mention it to his wife, but she had been busy arranging flowers and had asked whether it could wait. Eventually, he just gave up and poured himself a mug of ale. He was sitting under a nearby tree, watching as everybody scrambled to finish in time. Tables, laden with roast pig, roast chicken, roast lamb, sweetmeats and other delicacies were being watched over by the women to ensure that no little hands were digging in before it was time. His dream re-surfaced, and he sat wondering whether it had just been a dream, or whether he was to look for an ancient, toothless woman.
“Hello father, you seem to be far away?” Cassandra said as she rounded the tree where her father was sitting. 
“You startled me, child,” Ersus said as he swung around to look at his daughter. “I was just watching everybody get ready, and feeling quite left out,” he lied. 
“Oh well, I’ll keep you company for a while,” she said. They both sat in silence watching everyone bustle around. Ersus enjoyed it when she sat with him and he hoped that it would always be this way, but he knew that there was a change coming and that he could do nothing to stop it.
Cassandra and Ersus were still sitting in silence when he noticed that Jensen was passing the tables, heavy with food, holding onto the arm of an old woman. Ersus’ heart skipped a beat as he realised that the woman was the one from his dreams. She seemed even older than she had in his dream. He recalled what the woman had told him and jumped up from he had been sitting. Cassandra was startled by this sudden movement and was brought back from the day-dream she had been having. 
“What now?” she asked. 
“Excuse me for a moment dear, I’ll be right back,” Ersus said handing his daughter the empty mug that he had been drinking the ale from. Cassandra saw the fear in his eyes and took the mug from him. 
“I’ll come with you,” she said starting to stand up herself.
 “No, just wait here,” Ersus sounded harsher than he had intended to be. Cassandra obeyed him without question and sat back again.
He caught up to them as they were strolling down the path that led to the front of the house. 
“Sorry Jensen, but the lady looks familiar to me,” Ersus said stuttering, as he was not sure what to say. 
“Oh, this is my aunt Ahgma, she used to work for the old King, doing what I don’t know?” Jensen said stopping in the path. 
“Ah, General Ersus, I thought I might see you here,” Ahgma said in a cracked voice that sounded ancient. 
“You can go now, my boy, the General will walk with me,” she continued. Jensen let go of her arm and Ersus stepped up and took her arm gently to continue her walk. He felt that her arm was thin and brittle with age and wondered how old she was. They started walking as Jensen turned heading back towards the back of the house.
 “I am one hundred and twelve years, General.” Ersus stopped walking, looked at Ahgma and stuttered. 
“How did, I mean, I…” She gently patted his hand that was latched onto her arm and said, 
“All in good time General, now come I need my exercise.” They started walking again, following the path. They continued walking in circles around the house, both quiet until the old woman stopped and said that they should sit under a nearby tree.
Once Ersus had helped her to sit on the wooden bench that was under the tree, he sat beside her. She lifted her thin arm and pointed one of her skinny stick like fingers towards the high mountains in the distance. 
“We need to go toward the high mountains to reach the Swamp of Sorrows tonight. It is time for your daughter to fulfill her destiny,” Ahgma said still breathing quite heavily from her walk. 
“What destiny? I rescued her from a horrible death. If anything, she has no destiny as she is not even supposed to be alive,” he whispered harshly, trying to avoid their conversation being overheard. 
“Oh no, no dear General Ersus, if she did not have a destiny she would have perished in Anthea on that day. You see destiny has a plan for both of you and you will have to accept that.”
Ersus had had the foreboding of impending doom for a long time and in his heart he knew that Ahgma was right. He had always hoped that the high chancellor’s words would not come back to haunt him, yet here they were in his head as clear as the day when he had spoken them, 
“…that there was another that had the ability to become a protector…” 
“Yes General Ersus, you saved the last protector.” Ersus’ eyes widened again and he was about to ask the question, but Ahgma answered before he had formed the words in his mouth. 
“I can read minds and I have the gift of foresight. We must leave tonight under the cover of darkness.” 
Ersus pondered her request for a moment, gazing into the distance. He would have to come up with a very good excuse to alleviate his family’s suspicion. Returning to reality he noticed that Cassandra had left the place where she had been sitting and was helping the others again. He turned his head back to the old woman, still trying to work through her words.
“I will have to tell my daughter, and we will make ready and the two of us will go as you ask,” Ersus said, finally accepting what the woman was saying. 
“No, General, the three of us will be leaving tonight,” and with that she stood up from the bench and walked over to the house. Ersus was surprised to see that she had suddenly started walking with the gait of a woman in her twenties. 
“All is not what it seems, go and tell Cassandra and meet me at this tree on the stroke of midnight,” she said over her shoulder walking briskly through the front door. Ersus felt dazed and confused at what had just happened and worst of all he had to tell his daughter, whom he had learned to love as one of his own, a secret that had been hidden from her for fourteen years. He had no idea how she would take it. Finally he stood up, mustering as much courage as he could under the circumstances.
Walking back around the house he called to Cassandra and sat back down where he had before. Cassandra rejoined her father and sat down next to him once more.
“What’s wrong, father?” she asked spotting the concern on his face. Ersus cleared his throat. “You and I must go on a journey.” 
“Really, where are we going?” Cassandra said, suddenly excited at the prospect of seeing more of Iyatula.
 “My child, these past fourteen years I have hidden a secret from you and the time has come for me to face my past and explain the decisions I have made.”
Cassandra held up her hand before he was able to continue.
“You know, sometimes your father might be the man that breathes life into your blood and sometimes, your father is a great man that has saved you from certain death and raised you as his own. You have loved me as much as any father could love a daughter, therefore you are my father, so please you have nothing to explain,” she said matter of fact.
“How do you know? What I mean is can you remember these events,” Ersus asked completely surprised.
“Sort of, but just as I have known how to heal, I have always known that I had a great destiny and that you are somehow part of it.” She smiled at him. Ersus shook his head and reached out to hug his daughter, who hugged him back as hard as she could.
“Go now, my child and ready yourself. Tonight, at the stroke of midnight, after the festivities, we go and face our destiny together,” he said finally, breaking the embrace. Cassandra jumped up and skipped into the house as if she had on an invisible cloak that protected her from the evil in the world.


© Copyright 2019 PJL Dawson. All rights reserved.

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