Divided We Fall

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

Chapter 12 (v.1) - Chapter Twelve

Submitted: September 18, 2019

Reads: 19

Comments: 2

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Submitted: September 18, 2019

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 They stabbed her, over and over again. Raquelle watched as Ani fell, nothing more than a shredded corpse. She screamed, and they turned to her. One took off after her. She screamed again and ran like she never had, trying to lose him in her twists and turns. The boy. The little boy who’d been stabbed.

They were coming closer. She grabbed the knife and cut his throat and took off again. Then she felt a shock of pain pierce her back. And her leg. And her head. She fell, just like Ani had, stabbed in the same places. 

Raquelle nearly screamed when she woke up. The dream came a little different every time, but it always started the same way. Ani getting stabbed. 

She whimpered and squeezed her eyes shut, but that only made the image more vivid. 

What she hated about that dream was that, besides the ending, it was real. Not a silly nightmare that would go away after you take some deep breaths. No. This had happened. And, Raquelle thought, all because of me. 

She looked around. Erik was awake, sitting up, rocking back and forth. His eyes were like stone, staring straight ahead, solid and still. Emilia appeared to be asleep. Erik glanced at her for a second, then looked to Raquelle. They stared at each other a minute. 

“You okay?” He whispered. 

“Of course.” She tried to hide the fact that she was still getting over the dream. “Why wouldn’t I be?”

“You’re shaking. And panting. And your eyes are like dinner plates.” 

She glanced down. “I had a dream.”

“Must of been a bad one.” 

Raquelle looked up at him. “It was.” 

“Mmm. Well, if it makes you feel any better, I am, too.” 

“Lola?” She guessed. 

“Ani?” He replied. 

Raquelle hesitated a moment before nodding. 

Erik nodded. “Yeah. Lola.” 

“You’ll get her soon.” 

Erik was quiet. “Not soon enough.”

Raquelle looked outside and sucked in her breath. “Erik,” she murmured. “Snow.”

Erik looked and his eyes flared. “It’s too early for this crap,” he muttered. 

“It’s just a light one. Maybe it will melt.” 

“And then a heavier one will take its place.”

Raquelle could sense his worry. “Not always. Sometimes we get these weird fall snows that melt and then we don’t get anymore for another month.”

“Sometimes.” Erik turned to her, his eyes trailing down to her injury. 

Raquelle shifted. “Erik, I can walk. I promise you, I feel a lot better, and I will be okay. But in case this is the beginning of winter, we need to get the hell out of here.”

Emilia had now awoke and seen the snow. She began to pack her things, not saying a word. 

Raquelle pulled on her belt and grabbed her bag. She patted her skirt, just to make sure she had her sword. She pretty much knew she did, but she had to check. Always. 

“If we go through the marsh, it will be quicker, but marshes really suck to walk through. Going around could be easier, which could save energy and lead to our advantage anyway.” 

Raquelle turned to stare at Emilia. She was honestly a little impressed with her knowledge of plants and wildlife. 

Emilia was looking at Erik. “Which way do you think?”

Erik thought. “Through.”

“Through it is.”

Raquelle followed them, ignoring the little twinge of pain in her side and the heat from the infection. She could see the beginning of the marsh from where she stood. It didn’t look so bad from half a mile away, but Raquelle knew Anarian marshes could be murderous if you weren’t careful. She could smell it now, the heavy, earthy smell, kind of like fish. 

Erik glanced at her. She could see he wasn’t at all comfortable with her traveling, but if the snows were coming, they had to get out of there. 

“You ever been in one of these before?” He asked her, gesturing to the swamp. 

Raquelle shook her head. “Heard of ‘em, never been this close to one. I’m assuming you have?”

“Yeah. me and Lola have been through more than a few of them. With each one, you think there can’t be anything nastier, until you reach the next one.”

Raquelle thought for a moment. “That sounds horrible.”

“It is.”

“Mmm. Wonderful.” 

They approached the swamp. The smell was so heavy Raquelle felt she couldn’t breathe. Erik pushed aside the weeds and took a step into the muck. It was firm, do to the frost, but none the more pleasant. Emilia went in next, gripping Erik’s hand. Her eyes were alive with panic. 

Raquelle stepped in next, struggling through the weeds. They were taller than she was. She got in and they closed around her, as if locking her in. She shuddered and took another step. The mud was thick, reeking of swamp. Raquelle kind of wanted to throw up, but she held it in. 

She tried to take another step, but her foot wouldn’t lift from the muck. She tried again, furiously, over and over, but she only sunk deeper. “Erik,” she said, starting to worry. “Erik, I need help.”

Erik turned to her and instantly his eyes widened. “Oh, God,” he murmured. 

Raquelle lifted her arms, letting her body go limp. She was still sinking deeper. 

Emilia raced over. “Don’t panic. It won’t drown you. You’ll only sink to your waist.” 

Raquelle nodded. “So what should I do?”
“Take small, slow steps. There you go. Now stop for a minute. Okay. Now walk again.”

With Emilia’s directions, Raquelle made it to the edge and was pulled out by the others. She flicked off as much of the quicksand as she could, and tried to ignore the sandy feeling in her clothes. 

She watched the ground now, trying to avoid the mucky spots. These were her only boots, and the best ones she had ever had. She wanted them to stay soft and clean forever. 

Emilia was holding up her skirt, trying to keep it out of the mud. Raquelle could see already the delicate floral pattern was ruined at the hem. 

“How long is this swamp?” Raquelle asked, trying not to sound whiny. 

“About a mile,” Erik answered, and cursed as he tripped on a rock and fell to his hands and knees. He swiped away the mud and looked at his hands. The mud slid down his hands in slimy strings. He made a face and shook off more. 

Raquelle found a firm spot and ran to get closer to the others. This place was giving her an eerie sense of being watched, and suddenly those Anarian fairy tales came back. She shuddered and looked behind her, seeing nothing. She inched closer to Erik, hating the fact that she felt safer close to him. 

From somewhere within the swamp, a noise came. The children froze. It came again, louder. It was not human, but it didn’t sound all that animal, either. Emilia squeezed Erik’s hand. Raquelle, however, had one hand on her hip and one on her sword, ready to pull it out and attack. 

A bear came out of the weeds just a few feet in front of them. It was a massive bear, so big it looked like you could fit five Eriks inside. 

The bear watched them with deep, dark eyes. Raquelle pulled out her sword. Erik turned to her at the sound of it being drawn. His eyes widened. “Are you sure that’s a good idea?” He whispered. 

Raquelle turned to him, the sword turning with her. Erik flinched as it brushed against his stomach. “No. Not at all. So if you have a better idea, please, speak up.”

Erik closed his mouth. 

Raquelle smiled a little and turned back to the bear. She stepped forward. “Back off,” she told it, trying to keep her voice from wavering. “Go on. Back now.” 

Instead, the bear stepped closer. The children stepped back. Raquelle heard Erik’s sharp intake of breath. She stared into the bear’s eyes. “Leave us alone, or I will kill you and roast you over a fire and eat your flesh.”

Emilia and Erik exchanged a look. 

Raquelle kept her eyes on the bear, sword aimed. 

The bear looked behind them and walked past. They turned and watched it. Raquelle had a small smile on her face, while Erik and Emilia’s faces held utter shock. Erik glanced at Raquelle. “It worked.”

Raquelle put her blade away. “You seem surprised,” she said with a little grin, and started walking again. 

The other two followed behind her. Erik looked at the part of her skirt which the sword was hidden in. “You seem pretty good with that thing.”

“I’ve been practicing since I was nine.”

They got through the worst of the swamp, avoiding most of the water. As soon as Raquelle could see the wide open prairie on the other side, she bolted for it. Her footsteps made little splashes in the brown/green water, one so big it got on her skirt, but she didn’t care. Soon she wouldn’t have to smell this nasty swamp smell. 

She made a dive for the grass when she got close enough. She landed flat on her stomach, all the wind knocked out of her. She rolled onto her back, gasping for air but smiling. 

Erik nudged her in the side with his foot. “You okay?”

She looked up at him and sat up. “I’m fine.”

“You must not have much patience for swamps.”

She stood up. “Nope. Lakes, valleys, oceans, sure. But not swamps.”

She looked at what was ahead. Nothing. Literally, nothing. Flat land covered in rocks and puddles, grasses and wildflowers, a few ground birds. She looked up at the sky. Deep blue clouds were moving close. She waved her hand in the air. It didn’t feel cold enough to snow, but she was still warm from her run, so it was hard to tell.

She looked at Erik. “Rain or snow?”

He studied the clouds and sighed. “I don’t know. We’ll find out soon.”

 


© Copyright 2019 Rachel Stone. All rights reserved.

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