Divided We Fall

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

Chapter 4 (v.1) - Chapter Four

Submitted: September 08, 2019

Reads: 25

Comments: 4

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Submitted: September 08, 2019

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Raquelle insisted she could travel, and Erik finally relented. They made it a few more miles before resting again. Then they ate bread. Tough, chewy, flavorless bread that makes your teeth ache because you have to chew it so long. 

“How are you feeling?” 

Raquelle resisted the urge to slap him. It was only the fiftieth time that day he’d asked her that. “Fine. We can keep moving.” 

“How much does it hurt?” 

She shrugged. “A little, I guess.” 

“Even if it was really bad, would you admit it?”

She thought. “Depends. Admitting weakness can save your life or kill you. In general, I hide as much emotion and feeling as I can. I build up walls of contentment or formality and hide behind it. Works quite well, I’ve found.”

Just then a hollowing scream echoed through the hills. Raquelle dropped her bread. 

Now, she’d grown up with traditional Anarian stories, about women near water who lure innocent children to their deaths, or evil spirits who scream to attract victims before turning them into one of them. Even the ones about the Jaglar, beautiful, angelic women with knives in their heads that roam the hills, looking for someone to capture. Even if she was fourteen, those stories were pretty dang creepy, and a chill ran down her spine. It didn’t help that the sky was dark and the ground was wet and looked like the perfect setting for one of those stories. 

She and Erik shared a glance, then he stood up. Raquelle wanted to turn around and run, but her side was a little too fragile for that. Besides, she’d humiliate herself in front of Erik. 

He took a few steps forward, looking. “I think it’s coming from the north,” he said, as another gory scream echoed through the wind. 

“Do we need to find out?” She asked, nervously.

Erik turned to her. “We probably should,” he said, but didn’t seem all that thrilled. 

She hesitated. He turned around. “What? Little scared?” 

She shook her head and started to follow. 

They followed the screams, each more heart-twisting than the last, until they approached a lake. Raquelle knew there was a lake; she could smell the sickening fishy smell, but she wasn’t expecting anything like this. It was huge. You couldn’t even see all the way across. 

On the sand there was a young woman, maybe a couple years older than Raquelle. She had long white-blond hair that fell in soft waves. Well, the pieces that weren’t part of the elaborate, intricate braid system on her head. 

Erik walked up to her. She raised her head, revealing two enormous glassy blue eyes, lined with tears. “Hello?” It came out like a question. 

“Hello,” Erik replied, with a gentle smile. “I’m Erik, and this is my friend, Raquelle.” He jerked her forward with a firm tug on my wrist. 

She gave a little wave. “Hi.” 

“Hello. I’m Emilia.” She looked back to Erik. “I’m sorry if I scared you. My father--he just died. He was only sixty-six. I wasn’t expecting anything so soon.” She wiped her face. “He must have killed himself, but...it just doesn’t seem right.” 

“Where do you live?” Erik asked.

“Half a mile from here. My father was a shepard. But I know nothing about sheep, so I just let them all go. And all of this--losing my father and my future and having nowhere to go or no idea what to do--it was too much. I had to get it out. So I wasn’t being attacked, just had a little meltdown. Sorry.” She gave a small, apologetic smile. 

“Oh, it’s fine. If you want, you can travel with us.”

“Where are you going?”

“Hawkeye castle, then she’s going to Ueryk to be an assassin or something.”

“Spy,” Raquelle cut in. 

Erik waved her off. “Same thing.” 

Emilia tilted her head. “Hawkeye castle? God bless anyone who‘s willing to take on Riker. That son of a b-word, literally.” 

Riker was truly his mother's son. Evil, horrifying, abusive, and down-right creepy, the only difference was their looks. While his mother was known for her less-than-queenly appearance, Riker had a head of curls that could make nearly any girl swoon. That is, if she didn’t mind all his not-so-great qualities. 

Raquelle noticed Emlia didn’t get attacked when she talked about the off-chance of defeating Riker, but she didn’t say anything. 

Emilia considered, then flashed a smile. “That would be wonderful. So you aren’t related?” 

They shook their heads. “I found her in a pile of weeds after the raid of Vyseren. She got injured, then made it out of the town before she went unconscious.”

“Oh. What was your injury?” She asked, studying. From her view, Raquelle probably looked fine. 

“I was stabbed.” She patted her side. 

“Oh, you poor thing.” She looked back to Erik. “Thank you, so much. I don’t know what I would have done by myself. Really, thank you. I am forever in your debt.” 

She smiled sweetly at him, and he returned the gesture. 

“So what are you doing now?”

“Walking,” Raquelle answered. 

Emilia nodded. “Of course. That was a stupid question.” 

Raquelle thought so too, but didn’t say anything. 

They were going uphill against the wind, which was so strong Raquelle was sure if she stopped trying to keep her footing, she’d be blown away. 

Erik and Emilia, however, looked undaunted. 

“So where are you from?” Emilia’s sickly sweet tone pierced the wind. 

Erik looked at her. “Malarkai, originally. Me and my sister moved to Vyseren after the Leokes got close. But I guess it didn’t matter, because they came to Vyseren, too.” He shook his head. “Where are you from?”

“Terya. Or, the outskirts of Terya. I grew up on a farm.” Emilia winced, as if she’d just said something wrong. 

Erik didn’t seem to notice. Raquelle kind of wanted to slap him. It was obvious from all the hair tosses and sexy smiles that Emilia wasn’t just being friendly. She was being flirty, and Raquelle couldn’t believe that Erik wasn’t taking notice of it. 

“That’s a nice knife there,” Emilia said, gesturing to Erik’s little knife in his belt. 

He looked at it. “This dinky little thing? It’s been well used. And not very well,” he added with a tiny wry grin. 

Emilia shrugged. “My father always said it’s not the knife that matters, but the skill of its owner.” She studied him. “You look skilled.” Her gaze dropped to the knife. “May I see it?”

Erik handed her the knife. “Maybe. Never had much experience. Or information about how to safely use a knife.” He flipped his hand, revealing a long scar across his left palm. He looked ahead, his eyes somewhere else. “Me and my sister, we didn’t get much of an education. Or discipline. Or instructions on healthy living.” A little grin crossed his face. “I remember whenever we’d get ten cents or so, we’d go to the market and find that we could get an apple or a little cake. The little cake always won out.” He shook his head. “We were wild children.”
Emilia smiled. “That’s okay. I like wild boys. I find them...infatuating,” she purred, and handed the knife back, sliding her hand over his like a snake before pulling back. She gave her hair a little toss and walked ahead, swinging her hips.

Raquelle watched Erik as he stared, his eyes filled with wonder. Emilia stopped for a moment, looking. Erik caught up and she turned to him. “So where are you going after you get Lola?”

“Whitewood. It’s just along the border, if you’ve never heard of it.” 

“Can’t say that I have,” she answered. “Is it safer there?”

Erik shrugged. “If it isn’t, Enlinia is next door. We can flee if necessary, even though it’s illegal. If we’re careful we wouldn’t get caught.”

“What if you did?”

Erik looked up at an eagle in the sky. “Enlinia has very weak security systems. Just break out of prison and go somewhere else.” 

Emilia smiled. “I guess it’s as good a plan as any right now.”

They were on top of the hill now. Raquelle stared in wonder at the world below her. It felt like she was miles up. Every little rock and bush seemed so tiny and perfect. A hawk flew over, making it look like a painting. It couldn’t possibly be real, with the wind blowing and the grass blowing and the rain falling… It sent a rushing surge of something through Raquelle, something that made her gasp. It was so, so beautiful. Too beautiful. Then she looked at Emilia, and it didn’t seem so pretty anymore. 

Emilia gasped in shock, her big pretty eyes all wide and glassy, her pretty little hands at her mouth. “I’ve never seen anything like this,” she murmured in her pretty little song bird voice. “I’ve never been to this part of Anaria before.” 

Erik looked at her. “I didn’t know Terya was different.” 

Emilia nodded. “Oh, yes. Very flat, prairie-like. A lot of wildflowers, in the summer.” 

“Sounds pretty.” 

Emilia sighed. “It was.” 

Raquell could feel her annoyance level rise, but fought to keep it down. Keep it in. There was nothing she could do besides keep her mouth shut and walk. So that’s what she did. 


 

Blood was everywhere. The screams echoed from everywhere and nowhere at the same time. So much screaming… 

Emilia pressed her hands to her ears, but it did nothing. The screams still got in.

 

Emilia bolted awake, still panting. She forced herself to take deep breaths. You are okay. You are safe. 

She looked around. Erik was the only other one awake. She studied him as he watched Raquelle sleep. 

His gaze shifted to her and flinched a little, realizing she was awake. Emilia felt her heart melt. He was just so adorable…He was perfect. 

“Hi,” he said.

“Hello,” she replied. Their gaze shifted back to the sleeping girl. 

“Don’t tell her, but I drugged her to keep her asleep longer.”

Emilia smiled. “I won’t.” 

There was a silence that Emilia found a little awkward. “So what are you going to do today?” She asked, and bit her lip. Stupid, Emilia. Come on. You can do better. 

Erik’s eyes flicked back to her and he grinned slightly. “This morning I’m going to look for food. We’re almost out.” He looked back to Raquelle. “And she eats a lot. Which is a good thing, because it shows she has an appetite, and she needs the energy, but it’s kind of hard on our food supply.” 

Emilia nodded. “There’s a lot of roots around here, I noticed. And rabbits.” 

He looked back to her. “You hunt much?”

She shook her head, though it was a lie. Being a farm girl, an Anarian one nonetheless, she grew up with the system of: Feed the stock before yourself, water the crops before you take a drink. If they don’t provide enough in the end, you live off whatever free food the land has to offer, and you do better next year. Needless to say, it was a bit of a tough lifestyle. Emilia didn’t want to look like a hick farm girl, though. She wanted to look like one of those perfect rich girls who read poetry and danced with the grace of a gazelle. She wanted to look proper, refined. Attractive. 

Erik nodded. Emilia racked her brain for something to say. “I’d like to learn, though,” she said, and bit her lip again. 

Erik’s eyes now had a glimmer of interest. “If you want, you can come with. I’ll teach you.” 

Her eyes lit up and she wanted to squeal with victory, but instead she smiled and placed her hands in her lap like a lady. “I’d like that very much. Thank you.” 

Erik grinned. “You’re welcome.” 

Just then, Raquelle stirred. She sat up and looked at them, her eyes narrowing just the slightest fraction when she reached Emilia. 

Emilia smiled sweetly in return, though inside her heart squeezed. I need to be alone with him. She needs to go. 

Erik studied Raquelle. “Good morning. I think today we need to get some food.” 

Raquelle smirked sarcastically. “Yeah. Maybe we should look into that, Erik.” She fell to the floor and stretched. Emilia noticed Erik’s eyes were on her, and her own flared. She never thought that this kid might be competition. She wanted to slap herself. Obviously. He had saved her. They were alone together for who knows how long. They might already have a thing. How old was she, anyway? Fourteen, fifteen? Emilia clenched her teeth. This might be harder than she thought. 

“So, Erik,” Raquell asked, rolling onto her side, “what sort of food gathering do you want me to do?”

“Emilia says there’s a lot of roots around here.” 

The girl sat up. “There is. I’ve seen them. That’s it? Sure, no problem.” She glanced at Emilia. “With her?”

Erik shook his head. “Actually, me and her are going to go hunting.” 

“Oh.” She shrugged. “Okay.” She looked out the door. “I think I’ll get started on that, then.” 

Emilia and Erik watched as she left, then looked at each other. “I guess we should start, too,” Erik said. “I don’t want to be out-worked by a twelve-year-old girl.”
Emilia’s interest piqued. “She’s twelve?”
Erik shrugged. “That’s my guess. She’s tiny, though. Who knows how old she is. Maybe she’s thirty.” 

Emilia grinned. “Maybe she’s sixty-three and just looks young.”

Erik laughed. “Maybe.”

They walked for a while, looking. Emilia got lost in Erik’s backside. It was fit and lean and covered in leather, and maybe-just maybe-she thought looked a little better than his front side. Then he turned around to look, and she quickly turned that notion away. It wasn’t possible for anything to look better than his front side. 

Emilia scanned the area. She spotted a rabbit at the same time Erik did. “Get down,” he murmured, and they crouched behind some bushes. “Now we aim for the eye.” Emilia nodded, pretending this was all new to her. 

Erik pointed his arrow right at the pupil, but Emilia could see it was just a little too far to the left, and a little far down. Had she not been pretending she might have said something about it, but then he shot and it was too late anyway. The arrow pierced the rabbit just beside the eye, like Emilia had suspected. Erik cursed under his breath. “And that’s not how to do it,” he said gamely, and went to retrieve his food. 

Emilia giggled. “Good to know.” She followed him, trying not to get stuck in the mud. She looked up just as a raindrop hit her nose. She flicked it off. “It’s raining,” she said. 

Erik turned to her. “In Anaria? Shocking. Honestly, it’s always so wet around here it doesn’t even matter if it’s raining or not.” 

“True.” They started walking again, and inside, Emilia felt sparks. This was perfect. She smiled as she trotted along, trying to look ladylike. She clasped her hands and said a silent thank-you to God. Maybe she could fix things after all. 


 

Raquelle’s hands were stiff with cold and scratched from all the rocks. Blood pooled underneath her fingernails. But all through it, she just bit her lip and kept working. Then what felt like about an hour passed, and they weren’t back. Raquelle wiped the drops of sweat beading on her forehead and lifted her head to the rain. I shouldn’t have to work this hard. She instantly slapped herself. You’re not working that hard. Shut up and get over it. She fell into the grass in spite of herself. She looked at her pile of roots. Twenty-three. She moaned. That wasn’t going to go very far. 

She could see the sun through the clouds. It was in the middle of the sky. Which meant it was about lunchtime. Raquelle rolled her eyes. What were they doing that was taking this long? She shook her head and looked back at the mound of mud in front of her. She sighed. There was only one thing she could do. She kept digging. 

When they finally came back it was about three o’ clock. Raquelle had been digging since sunrise. She perked when she heard footsteps and turned to face her acquaintances. “That took a while.” She said it lightly but hoped they would take the hint. From the looks on their faces, they didn’t. 

She picked up her roots she had placed on top of one of her petticoats. “I got eighty-seven.” 

Erik’s eyes flared a bit. “Eighty-seven? That’s impressive.” 

Raquelle grinned a little. “I know,” she said, and placed a hand on her hip. She pushed away her annoyance. It wasn’t hard until she looked at Emilia. “Were you guys successful?” she asked, flicking her eyes back to Erik. 

“Yeah. We were.” He and Emilia shared a glance. Raquelle wondered just what had happened while they were gone. 

“I’m glad you’re back,” she said, feeling a little vengeful. Words formed on her tongue, tempting her to say them. She licked her lips, considering. “A wolf showed up while you were gone,” she said, maintaining fierce eye contact with Erik so he wouldn’t know it was a lie. 

His eyes widened. “Really? What happened?”

Most people would panic at this part, but Raquelle had the next words locked and loaded in a matter of seconds. “It was on that rock,” she said, gesturing to it. “It came pretty close to me. I looked down and backed away. It left eventually.” She didn’t squirm or look down. She didn’t do anything that would expose her lie. “Fortunately nothing happened. I’m just glad you’re back now.” She smiled a little weakly, perfecting the charade. 

Erik closed his mouth. “Thank God. I’m glad you’re okay. Next time we won’t be gone so long.” 

Raquelle looked up at him with a small, shy smile. “Thank you.”

“Of course.” 

She picked up her roots. “I’m going to wash these now. I’ll see you soon.” She turned around and started walking. A little wicked smile crossed her face despite the little twinge of guilt in her stomach. They deserve it, she told herself. They ditched me all day long. She shook it off and dropped by a puddle, splashing some water on the roots. Besides. It’s too late now. You can't change it even if you wanted to. But obviously she didn’t. 


 

Emilia knew exactly what to do. Cut it, let it bleed out. Peel the skin off. Cut off the feet and tail, then the head. Take the guts out. Wash the carcass. She hoped Erik did too, because she did not want to be the girl who was a natural at butchering rabbits. That didn’t seem attractive at all. 

Fortunately he did, and a while later there was blood everywhere and a headless rabbit. Emilia tried not to look at the blood. She closed her eyes. You’re okay. Calm down. It’s alright. She swallowed and looked down at her hands. She stuffed them into her pockets. She couldn’t bear to look at them and the blood. 

“So, Lola. How old is she?” Anything to get her mind off the blood. 

“Ten.” 

“When’s her name day?”
Erik lifted his head, as if thinking about it. Emilia could imagine what he was thinking. 

When is her name day? Hmm… 

She smiled. 

“March.”

“Nice. When’s yours?”

Erik smirked. “No idea.” 

“What do you mean? You have to at least know what season.” 

He shook his head. “No. Seriously. I know nothing about my name day.” He looked at her and grinned. “What about you?”
“Some time in summer.”

“You don’t know yours either then.” 

Emilia shrugged. “I guess not.” She thought, then smirked. “We don’t know our own name days. How sad is that?”
“No sadder than three orphan children traveling to get a little girl out of captivity and then get the hell over to where it’s safe. Unless it’s not, in which case they’ll cross the border illegally and probably be arrested.”

Emilia didn’t know why, but this made her laugh. “We’re so freakin’ pitiful.” 

Erik started laughing. “It shouldn’t even be funny.”
“I know,” Emilia said, laughing harder. 

“What are you doing?”
They turned to see Raquelle standing there, looking at them like they were crazy. She looked back and forth between them, an eyebrow quirked as a silent, Well? Spill it.

“We were just talking about how pitiful we are right now,” Emilia said, catching her breath. 

Raquelle’s brow furrowed in confusion. “And that’s amusing?”
“It’s a you-had-to-be-there kind of a thing,” Erik said. 

Raquelle thought. “I can see the headline now: Three children desperately trekking across the bitter wilderness, fighting for survival, stopping at nothing to save a captured little girl and find safety.” She smiled a little. “It is kind of funny, I guess.” 

Erik nodded. “It is.” 

Emilia looked over the hills. They looked endless, and she knew that wasn’t even half the distance they had to go. So she looked away.


© Copyright 2019 Rachel Stone. All rights reserved.

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