The Circle and The Stone

Reads: 1040  | Likes: 0  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 1

More Details
Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 4 (v.1)

Submitted: January 24, 2012

Reads: 132

A A A | A A A

Submitted: January 24, 2012

A A A

A A A

Chapter 3.

 

 

She walked through the mostly now dispersed gathering still accepting congratulatory comments that were given to her, when she spied her mate with Fowland and Cory. As she approached, Fiddich looked her way and with his trademark sly grin welcomed her back, but now as Keeper.

“Keeper of the Great Tree” he began as he slightly bowed “we honor your presence”

“Be quiet,” she said with a laugh as she embraced him and gave him a nudge. 

“Now I know what you meant earlier,” Cory said “congratulations Cerridwyn” she finished. She felt no jealousy towards her, to the contrary; she relished the thought that her sister by mate held the authority of Keeper and though it made no difference with in the community, as it was simple tradition and just the way things were and always would be, but she somehow took a high road on the concept. Squirrels were mates for life so she knew Aaron would be the cousin of the next Keeper, and again it meant nothing to the general community, but it somehow did to her.

“Thank you Cory” she said to her and she then turned back to Fiddich. “Can you gather my father and meet us in the Great Tree?”

“Sure Wyn” he answered.

“Are you ready to see the Outlings?” she said to Cory.

“I guess it’s as a good a time as any” she answered.

“Good, we won’t be long” she said to her mate and Fowland “Oh, and I invited Wick to join us, he also wants to help with the Outlings”

The brothers nodded in agreement and left to find Aiden.

“Let’s go,” she said to Cory as they now stood alone watching there mates walk away.

They proceeded across the clearing to what was only a short time ago Cerridwyn’s home, but would know be the sole home of the few current Outlings. The tree that was hers was simple and modest, though over the past season, she created a massive nest that could shelter not only her but also any that were brought to her by council. They approached the base of the tree and Cerridywn stopped short as she perked her ears up, listening for something, that Cory was not yet aware.

“What’s wrong?” Cory asked as they stood at the tree.

“Usually when I have one that’s fresh from their parents, they squawk when any one approaches,” she answered.

“Are they really as dangerous as Council says?”

“This young one is,” she said

“Regardless” Cory said, “It’s still a young one and obviously discipline wont work, but a sharp claw should,” she defiantly stated.

“Your right but this ones not here” she said a little perplexed as she led the way up the tree and into her former home. They climbed through the opening at a cross in the trunk that separated the tree in two distinct halves, and it was here that a deep feeling of dread overwhelmed Cerridywn. She again stopped dead and surveyed the nest, now viciously torn apart by an apparent Outling.

“What happened here?” Cory said in amazement.

“I have one about mate age and the young dangerous one” she said “and it appears the older one has an issue with the other”

“Do you go through this every day?” she asked.

“No not really” she answered, “usually the older will flee into the forest before they become violent”

“I won’t stand for this Cerridwyn, I simply will not,” she sternly stated.

“Now you understand,” she returned, “I’ve had to turn two into the forest before they were of the age to survive”

“I didn’t know that” she sheepishly said as she realized her sister had sent two of them to their deaths.

“Your right; discipline doesn’t work with an Outling” she said as she turned to her “but unfortunately a sharp claw does”

“And it seems a sharp claw is needed with this young one” Cory realized.

Cerridwyn looked across the nest and the sight in a dark corner confirmed her foreboding feeling; it was the young lying limp and broken, torn apart from hind to head. Cory caught the sight almost at the same time Cerridwyn did and it grabbed her breath as she stepped back and almost passed out.

They both stood shocked at the pure nature of the violence inflicted on the young Outling at the claws and teeth of the other much older one.

“Let’s go Cory,” she said to her pulling her out of her trance “There’s nothing we can do here at the moment”

“I think your right,” she slowly said. “But where’s the other?”

“I’m not sure, but we need Councils help,” she answered in reference to Malvo and his loose Seconds ability to contain and if necessary repel a violent Outling. They were the voice of order and though Cerridwyn was going to curtail his ambitions, she realized that at a moment like this that he was invaluable.

“Let’s go to the Great Tree,” she said to Cory.

“Yes, let’s do that” she said, still in shock of the sight. They turned and headed out of the horrific scene and climbed down the tree to the safety of the forest floor below. Cerridwyn had no idea where the other Outling was and she no intention of searching the nest alone to find out. He probably vanished to the forest, like the rest before him, after he killed the young one she surmised, and now it would take several large males to find out one way or the other. They walked in silence from the base of the tree to the clearing and across it, to the Great Tree. Squirrels milled about the clearing as some young ones flew from the branches of the large oaks that peppered the tree line, and everything looked as though it were just another day, but the sisters by mate knew different. They approached the base of the Great Tree as Cerridwyn turned and spoke.

“Well this much I’m sure you’ll enjoy,” she said with a smile.

“I need something; that much is for sure” she sighed.

“Welcome to the Great Tree Cory” she finished as they began to climb towards the Welcoming dugout. Within a few short moments, they found themselves entering the dugout where the others were patiently waiting.

“Here they are Fowland,” Fiddich said as his brother was engaged in a conversation with Wick. Fowland turned towards the entrance as Cory and Cerridwyn approached and could clearly see his mate was upset. She immediately went to him and embraced him a way that he hadn’t felt in a few seasons.

“You all-right” he said in a low voice.

“It was horrible Fowland,” she said almost in tears as she continued to cling to him.

“What happened Cerridwyn?” Council asked as all immediately sensed something was wrong.

“The thirteenth is dead,” she flatly stated and she turned her attention to Wick “I’m sorry Wick” she finished in a subdued tone.

“How?” he asked.

“Killed by the other,” she answered.

They remained silent for a moment, contemplating this revelation when Wick gathered his composure and addressed Council.

“I’ll help you later,” he said and Council nodded in agreement to the unspoken job that needed doing.

“Let’s go in,” Cerridywn said as she led the way into the bowels of the Great Tree.

The Great Room opened to them, welcoming the new Keeper and the entourage that followed. Cerridwyn looked about; noticing the fires were growing low and her father also realized it.

“I’ll tend the flames Keeper,” he said to her and she nodded in agreement. The old squirrel left them to settle in on the floor as he disappeared, only to return a moment later with a goblet of natural oil, and tend to the small fire. The room began to grow brighter and the size of it became apparent to those who had not yet seen it.

“This is huge,” Wick said as he sat in slight awe.

“Wait until you see the rest” Cerridwyn said to him. “come father, sit” He joined the rest and settled his old frame on the floor as he had done for over ten seasons, but today he sat as just another member of the conglomeration.

“It’s a far different day today” Cerridwyn began “Our future as a conglomeration lies in the hands of the Night Sun, and the spirit of this tree. Have you two decided when you’ll leave?” she said to her mate and Fowland.

“Not yet Wyn” Fiddich said to her, immediately sensing the tears well up in her. She fought them back as Fowland spoke.

“We’d might as well make it shortly, Fiddich,” he said to his brother.

“Tonight?” he said back to him.

“Is that okay Cory?” Cerridwyn said to her.

“The sooner the better” she decided.

“Good than” she finished. “Now, Wick I want you go with them for a few nights, I know you’ve spent a lot of time exploring the forest, more than any of the rest of us, and perhaps you can give some advice?” She was right, Wick knew, he was a natural traveller and curious about the depths of the forest, and he once spent well over seven day cycles alone in it. He now knew why she invited him here, and it made perfect sense.

“Of course Keeper” he said to her “I’ll go for longer than that if they want me to. I know there chosen for the task, but I can be some help for a part of the journey, besides there still kids,” he said with a grin and a wink to the brothers. Cerridwyn smiled at the middle-aged squirrel and felt comfortable at his offer. Fowland smiled back at him, understanding the jibe and spoke.

“Is their anything to be really concerned about out there?” he asked.

“No, not really” he said in a serious tone “It’s just endless forest; however the only thing that actually concerns me is after many nights it begins to thicken”

“How deep in have you actually been?” Fiddich asked.

“Well” he said in a contemplative tone “never out of sight of the Great Tree for starters, but close. The last time was the deepest I’ve went, and I sat atop a massive oak and the Great Tree looked like more of a speck in the horizon, and to be honest, it was disturbing knowing that you could travel that far away from it. I climbed down after saw that and immediately started back. I was lucky I didn’t travel any further, imagine if I would have lost sight, I could still be out their” he finished as he trailed off into thought. Fiddich looked over to his brother and the apprehension began to rise up in him.

“But we have the Forest spirit” he reassured.

“Yes you do” Aiden said to them.

“I’ll go with you as far as you need me brothers” Wick said.

“Thanks, Wick” Fiddich said “but not out of sight of the Great Tree, that’s for us”

“I agree” Cerridwyn said and Wick nodded in agreement. “Tonight then” she finished for the moment.

“Now Cory” she again began “I want you to stay here with my father and I while Fowland’s gone, you don’t need to be home alone with Aaron”

She said nothing and just looked down at the floor.

“Stay here with them” Fowland gently whispered as reached to her and held her. She began to cry a little but nodded her head in agreement.

“You’ll be fine here with us” Aiden re-assured with a smile “besides I could now use some young company,” he said in reference to Aaron. The young one was scurrying around somewhere in the tree, but never far enough away not to hear the voices of the others.

“Malvo” Cerridwyn said as she addressed him “This rift with my father has to end and end it here we will. No one, that I’m aware of, is angry with either of you for holding the truth from us, and if anyone is; I’ll deal with them myself. I think we all understand that there really was no reason for the revelations to come out, until of late, of course. We need a strong voice in this community, Malvo, and not just mine, but a Council and a Keeper, and in this case a former Keeper, sniping at one another serves us no purpose. That goes for you also father,” she pointed out, “especially now”

“I understand Keeper” Malvo said “Aiden” he said to him “It’s not that I was upset at your decision to expose the truth, it’s the fact we don’t know if going to do any good” he began “I now believe their was no choice, and I’m very happy with our new Keeper, I’m sincere about that Cerridywn”. He said as he glanced over to her and she nodded in acknowledgement “and I believe that if any of this is going work we need a strong young Keeper, and Aiden if you believe this Forest Spirit has the answer, than I have no choice now but to believe you” he finished.

“Thank-you Malvo” Aiden said as he looked to him “we’ve been through a lot together lately”

“Yes, we certainly have, haven’t we” he resigned as he smiled and shifted his large frame “What it is that I can do for you Keeper?” he asked, readdressing her.

“You just did something, Malvo,” she answered. “But for today, we need you for the Outlings, and before Wick leaves tonight”

“Done” he simply said as he looked over to Wick, who nodded in agreement “Do we have any idea how far the outside world is, besides the distance Wick traveled?” Malvo asked, resuming the conversation on the trip at hand.

“No” Aiden chose to answer “but something tells me it’s between the time the Night Sun allows us to see her as a whole, and the next time, when she returns again as a whole”

“That’s a healthy amount of time” he stated in contemplation.

“Well, if you think about, it would have to be” he wisely began “otherwise we would have found it. Would any of us not be in this clearing, with the Great Tree, when the Night Sun returns in full? Never, none of us would leave here for that length of time, but would the Night Sun not allow us to see her as a whole from the ground? No, it was one of her original promises to us that she’s never broken; her light reaches the forest floor, as her light is the example of everything in between. So you see, the outside world must be clearing like ours, in order for us to see her as a whole, so it can’t be any further then the time between her appearances as a whole” he finished.

“It makes sense, father” Cerridwyn said as she looked at the others.

“One full time between” Fowland mused “That’s not really that long, if you think about it brother”

“Actually, you know, your right” he agreed.

“And that roughly translates to four trips back and forth to the point that I was at where the Great Tree almost disappeared” Wick added “ands that’s not that really that far in or out, or whatever” he finished, slightly confused at the thought of were they about to enter the forest or leave the forest. Cerridwyn laughed to herself as she read his confused thought, but she really had no answer for it herself.

“Well, Aiden” Council said “It actually makes me feel better that we have a rough idea of the distance and the approximate time they’ll be gone”

“Not as much as I” Cory sadly interjected.

“And myself also Cory” Cerridwyn gently said as she looked to Fiddich.

“Don’t forget us in all of this” Fowland said with a chuckle, bringing smiles to all their faces.

“Now it only a matter of this thirteen we’ve spoke of, and the time with them. That’s what’s unknown,” Aiden added.

“The time will be short,” Cerridwyn suddenly said as they all turned to her. The room grew quite as they waited for an explanation.

“Continue, Keeper,” her father intently said, realizing as only he could, that the Great Tree was suddenly, and with the subtle nature that he was accustomed, began to speak in her mind.

“I don’t know how I know that, but I feel it,” she said to them “you won’t be there that long at all” she finished with a wide smile.

“It means we’ll find it,” Fiddich said with confidence. He, as much as her father, knew of her ability to sense things that one shouldn’t be able to sense; he witnessed it on more than one occasion.

“And it’s out of the forest, Wick, we somehow live in the center”, she said directly to him in further revelation.

“A center?” he queried.

“Yes” she said “an unknown and mythical center”

“Mythical to whom?”

“The thirteen” was all she could answer.

 

The morning waned as afternoon approached and Cerridwyn, fueled by her revelation, felt confident for the first time of the impending journey. She knew they’d find the outside world, but she was still unsure of what was waiting for them. The small group climbed from the Great Tree, and the conglomeration milled about the clearing, some gathered in conversation, while others simply enjoyed the rest of the day. It was the day after the celebration and it suddenly felt far more festive than it had after Keepers telling. Aiden plunged them into the unknown, but his daughter gave them the hope to pull them all through it as she somehow began to understand all of this. Aiden and Cory gathered Aaron, left the group, and approached several squirrels near the base of her tree; she would quickly spread word of the meeting, and the conclusions they came to, to the rest of the conglomeration.

“Well” Council said as looked to Wick as they stood at the base of the Great Tree “We have some work to do”

“Yeah, let’s go find it” Wick resigned. They turned from Keeper and the brothers and headed to her former home for the unenviable task of forcing the last Outling out of their world. It was dangerous work, and they knew it, but they also knew that they could eventually overwhelm it with large claws and sharp teeth. They also had the task of burying the other, and that weighed heavier on Wicks mind, as it was his grand young ones body they were about to dispose of.

“Tonight then” Cerridwyn said as she turned back to Fiddich and Fowland.

“Tonight it is” Fowland answered.

“Most of the Night Sun should appear almost where she did last night” Fiddich said “and when she does we leave”

“With her at our back” Fowland added.

“When do you think this Forest Spirit will show itself to us Wyn?” Fiddich asked.

“I don’t know, she hasn’t shown itself to me yet” she answered “but she only asked for the both of you, so there’s a good chance she won’t appear until Wick leaves you and returns to us”

“Leaving us alone out in the forest, with only her” Fowland said with no real emotion.

“That was her idea,” she returned.

“I’m actually curious to see her” Fiddich mused.

“We all are,” she said with a smile.

“We will” Fowland added with confidence “The Night sun and the Great Tree have never lied to us before, and the Forest Spirit is somehow a part of both, so she wont lie to us either”

“That I’m sure of” Cerridwyn confirmed.

“Does it bother you Cerridwyn that it seems this thirteen know nothing of us?” he asked. She contemplated his words for a moment before she answered.

“That’s something again I don’t know” she said “But I feel it’s always been, somehow for our good, that they’ve never came here and we’ve never went there, until now that is”

“It still confuses me how anyone one or anything can stop the birth of the Outlings” Fiddich said.

“It’s in the hands of the Night Sun, she gave us life in the first place, and it’s her will we find them. She wouldn’t allow any of this if it weren’t to stop all of it in the first place. And my father never would be allowed to hear the words of the forest spirit, if again, it wasn’t her will” she said. “Also the Great Tree never would have given me the earlier clarification of where this clearing is in relation to the outside world; you’re meant to find them”

“That we’re sure of” Fiddich said.

“Well, right now I need to find lunch” Fowland said, “I’ll be back” he finished as he turned and began to head to his tree.

“That’s not a bad idea Wyn” Fiddich said to her “hungry?” he asked.

“Yeah, let’s go back in the Great Tree and see what my father has,” She said and they turned and began the short climb back up to the Welcoming dugout.

Malvo and Wick quietly approached Cerridwyn’s tree, there sensitive ears perked and there senses were on alert for any sign of the dangerous Outling. They looked at one another but said nothing as they reached the base of the tree. It was deathly quite, and both could smell the faint odor of stale blood wafting down from the nest atop, it gave Malvo a cold chill, but it served to raise Wicks temper.

“Let’s get it,” he quietly whispered to Council. Malvo nodded in agreement and they dug there sharp claws into the bark and began, with stealth, to climb towards the smell of the blood. Within a few moments they were at the split in the trunk were the large nest sat, and together they paused, again listening for any sounds of it, and entered her former home. The body of the young one still lye un-disturbed off in a far corner, and again there was no sign of the one responsible for it. Wick approached the body, as Malvo delved further into the nest, cautiously searching for the Outling. After a few moments, he was confident it wasn’t in the nest, and he called out to Wick.

“It’s not here Wick,” He said aloud from one of the large interior dugouts.

“Good” he answered “because I’d kill it if it was” He stood over his grand young ones limp body, but realized really what it was; just another dead animal. However it was still his bloodline, and as disturbing as that thought was to him, he knew it never would have had a chance at life anyway.

“Let’s get it out of here,” he said as Malvo approached. Together they rose on their hinds, effortlessly lifted the tiny body, and carried it a few steps towards the nest’s opening. They had no way to physically carry it down, short of in their mouths as they needed four paws to climb, and that idea appealed to neither. Squirrels, when it was their time to pass always went to ground, they never died atop for just that reason; how was anyone going to get them out. They looked at one another and knew the only other option. Together they simply tossed the body out on what would actually be its first and last flight from a tree. They watched it fall, land with a small thud on the forest floor, and together they began to climb down after it. They were almost half way, when the disturbance it caused below awoke the Outling. It bolted up straight on all fours at the sound of the impact, and smell of the blood; it knew something had touched his prey. It was nesting in the underbrush all the while, showing no fear of the others as his kind always had at that young age, he was the eleventh, and one who should have already left in fear. Instead, he sat in rage at this disturbance, and he watched as they climbed to the forest floor.

Wick spied him first as he bolted out from the under the brush, and attacked them both straight on. His young speed served him well as he caught them both off guard, and Malvo immediately found a set of sharp teeth digging into the back of his neck. The force of his attack knocked Wick to the side, but he quickly regained his composure, and with a rage of his own, he countered. He bore himself on it, as Malvo stilled stunned and almost helpless from the blindsided attack could barely manage to fight it off, and jumped in with strong claws and sharp teeth of his own. He immediately tore most off one ear off, reached under it with one paw, and slashed it across the throat, and in the same fluid motion he flipped it off Malvo’s back, violently entangling himself with the animal in afternoon sun. Malvo now suddenly realized what was actually happening, and he rose on all fours and went after it with a fury he hadn’t felt in a very long time. The animal didn’t stand much of a chance. Wick had a hold of it by its throat with his teeth as he was clawing deeply into its face, when Malvo jumped on it from behind and began; slashing across it’s soft under belly. Within a few moments, it stopped struggling and Malvo rolled of it, but Wick was staying to his word; he was going to kill as he knew that this eleventh was just far to dangerous to allow to leave the clearing. He knew it would return, and probably when he was out in the forest with the brother’s, and he couldn’t take that chance. He releases his grip on its throat and instantly slashed at the same area he was just biting into. He opened it up as blood pored from the wounds, saturating his fine grey coat and causing death to enter his eyes. Wick sat back, winded from the fight and watched as it took its last breath, while it withered around the ground in a death throw. No squirrel since the time of the first had ever taken ones life, there was never a need; they were family. Occasionally, and Wick was certainly one of them, they would have to kill another forest creature, but it was extremely rare as all steered clear of this place. Warm-blooded animals feared there sentients, but reptiles were the exception, and Wick had destroyed a few dangerous snakes and the occasional hungry lizard in his time. However, this was different, though it was an animal; it was also one of them.

“You okay Wick” Malvo said as he lye on his back, a few feet away, winded as well.

“Yeah, I think so, you?” he answered as he looked over to him. Malvo's ear was mauled but he didn’t look much the worse for wear.

“Got my ear he did,” he said with a grin as he reached up and felt the blood.

“It doesn’t look that bad,” he said to him. They remained silent for moment when Malvo spoke.

“Thanks” was all he said.

“Your welcome, but I don’t know what Keepers going to say about this,” he said in reference to the dead Outling.

“Technically, I guess it’s up to me, or it was anyway when Aiden was Keeper, so I say again; Thank-you”

“It would have came back you know” he said in defense of killing it.

“Wick, I agree with you whole heartily on that, the bloody thing tried to hunt us” he returned “Don’t worry about, you did the right thing, Cerridwyn will understand and I certainly have no problem it” he said as rose on all fours “Let’s get them buried first and then we’ll inform her of all of this”

They carried the young one out into the forest first and with their sharp, but slightly sore claws, they dug a shallow grave and placed it in it. The dead hunter came next and they put it beside his prey, filled in the graves, and headed cut and a little bruised, back to the Great Tree.


© Copyright 2019 chris r adam. All rights reserved.

Chapters

Add Your Comments: