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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 139






Breathing heavy on the shore of the lake, a jumbled mixture of fatigue, joy, fear, and exhilaration ran through him. Cliff diving was probably not the most brilliant thing to attempt at that particular moment, given his current state of mind, but the call to jump was just too tempting for him to ignore.

Looking up at the sky, he inhaled deeply and let out a long exhale, when he was suddenly awash with a strange feeling. Peace. For once, he wasn’t over-thinking, over-planning, over-analyzing. His mind was clear. He knew what he needed to do next. He needed to go home.

Sitting up, he pulled off his tunic and was alarmed to see a stranger looking up at him in the water’s reflection. He barely recognized the long, wild, jet black hair and filth-covered face, but he couldn’t deny that the large burn scar across his chest and clear blue eyes staring back at him were his own. With an empty laugh, he scooped up the water and got to work on removing the days of travel from his face and body. Dressed and washed, he was finally satisfied that boy looking back at him had some semblance of Damon Helvard. Grabbing his knapsack, he set off for the long trip home.

He knew approximately where he was, for he had traveled across the lands of Lateo many times in his nearly sixteen years of life. As the son of potion masters, the constant trekking was a necessity to acquire the rare and exotic plants for the lifesaving potions they crafted. It was strange to be alone, and he felt some guilt at how he left things with his family.

The guilt was short lived as his hair suddenly and inexplicably began to vex him. Although it had been long like his father’s for as long as he could remember, it was now causing him great irritation. He would have pulled it back like normal, but with his cord lost, all he had was his leather bracelet which was far too thick for hair. It stuck to him, blew into his face, tangled in his fingers, filled with leaves as he slept. How had he ever managed it before?

After a few days of this, he’d had enough. With nothing much to do as he watched the campfire burn, he sharpened a piece of flint on a stone and with a sharp intake of breath, took it to his tresses. As the first handful released in his grasp, he felt a wave of guilt and regret for an instant.

“No going back now,” he said aloud to no one as he chucked it into the fire and set to work on taking out the rest.

It was a laborious process, and he was certain it looked ridiculous, but the instant cooling on the back of his neck made it worth the fuss.

His final day of travel started normal, yet as he packed his bag, a feeling of anticipation washed over him. It was overwhelming, and he had to stop and sit for a moment until the dizzy feeling subsided. And then again, in the early evening hours he was within minutes of reaching home when he was stopped dead in his tracks, his feet seemingly turned to stone. He wanted nothing more than to sleep in his own bed and to eat a home-cooked meal, but he was nervous to face his parents. Or at least, the people he had thought were his parents for in Winguard it had been revealed to him that he had been adopted as a baby. Where were his birth parents? Had they died, or did they just not want him? He had so many questions, but he hadn’t stayed to learn the answers. Ahead were Sabina and Liam... no, they were still his Mom and Dad, and together, they had the answers he sought.

A loud crack and thunderous crash broke the silent serenity of the forest. Without realizing it, he had broken into a run. Toward the sound. Toward home.

He approached from the road at first, but seeing an unusually brilliantly light up ahead, he slowed his pace and left the path to get closer in the darkness and safety of the trees.

Hiding in the brush, he tried to take in the surreal scene before him. His home, built into and around an enormous tree, was smoking from some sort of damage. He didn’t notice the extent because his focus was on the phenomenal situation unfolding in the clearing. The entire area was encircled by ominous hooded figures standing still and holding flaming torches. Within the center of the circle were five additional figures: two in hooded cloaks who watched as a dark-haired woman was led from the house by another hooded figure holding a sword. Hobbling slowly after them was the fifth figure with hands held high, a crippled man with long, black hair. Damon had to fight the urge to jump into the fray as his mind reeled. The shock of seeing a dangerous object, he worried that his unexpected intrusion might cause harm to the hostages. His parents. His only option was to observe until the time was right.

The crunch of leaves behind him startled him, and from his hiding spot he saw a girl sneaking closer to the glade. Thinking her to be his sister, he swiftly placed a hand over her mouth and pulled her to the ground.

“Shhh,” he cautioned. He’d made more noise than he’d meant to, and held his breath as he waited for the commotion to resume. Once it had, he let out a sigh of relief and turned his attention to the girl next to him.

It was too dark to see much, but three things about this stranger were instantly clear: she had red hair, she was not his sister, and she was terrified.

“What are you doing here?” he whispered releasing his hand. The voice of his mother rang out, and he knew he needed to get back to assessing the situation. “Stay down and keep your voice low,” he growled as he moved away from her to peer around the bramble keeping them hidden.

“What are you doing here?” he asked again.

“I heard a scream and I followed it,” she replied quietly. Satisfied enough with her answer, he tried to focus in on the conversation.

“Shouldn’t we help them?” she asked beside him, causing him to jump.

“Are you crazy?” he hissed. “We are completely outnumbered. Look for yourself.”

He watched as she evaluated the situation, but oddly, she was not afraid. He looked again, but tensed at seeing the numerous guards standing at the ready and the man still pointing an illegal weapon at his mother. But she seemingly was not afraid.

“See, the couple both have swords pointed at them. Even if I could get past the men with torches, I would never reach them in time.”

She was quiet, maybe deep in thought, and then suddenly seemed to have an epiphany. “They aren’t there,” she whispered, though he wasn’t sure if she was telling him or talking to herself.


“It’s an illusion, like in the stories,” she replied. Before he could ask what she was talking about, she whispered, “Follow me.”

“No, wait,” he growled, but it was too late. Before he could stop her, she jumped up from her spot, intent on running out into the fray. He reached out to try and pull her back, but only managed to grab hold of her knapsack. She slipped free of the bag, and ran towards one of of the men with torches. No, she ran through him! Like he was nothing more than smoke or a ghost. Or an illusion. So that’s what she meant, but how had she known?

Everything stopped as all were surprised by her sudden appearance. Only his dad seemed to understand what was happening and whispered something to her. She shook her head and replied inaudibly.

“Right. Stay behind me,” he instructed, and began moving towards his wife. Without warning, a fire blazed up separating them from one another, causing both his dad and the girl to jump back from the intense heat. “Facinlor!” he called out. “End your tricks; we are on even playing ground.”

The figures in the cloaks appeared to be talking to one another, before one of them lowered his hood. He was a thin man, his face pale in the fire light and his hair the color of starlight reflecting on water. His companion, who remained hooded, made a slight motion with his hand. The man with silver hair snapped his fingers, and one by one Damon watched as the men and the torches surrounding the house disappeared, until the only remaining light came from the moon and the fire separating them.

“Satisfied?” the man, whom he assumed to be Facinlor, called out. He had a strange manner of speaking, for when he talked, he primarily used the right side of his mouth. “You must introduce me to this exquisite red haired friend of yours.”

“Never mind her,” called his father, seeming a little more emboldened. “This is about you and me, and right now, I want you to release my wife!”

“You will be making no demands here,” Facinlor replied coldly. “The rust may have seen through my spell, but you would do well to remember I am still in control of this situation, potion maker.”

“Tell me what it is that you want so we can finish this.”

“There will be no end,” Facinlor said quietly, desperately; dropping his cool demeanor. “I have no other choice.”

“What do you mean?” the potion maker asked, sensing this change. “Please, let us help you.”

The silver haired man spoke to his cloaked companion. Whatever was said seemed to restore his cold resolve, and he turned his attention back.

“This is only the beginning of the changes that are to come to Lateo. As for my demands, they are simple; you will come with me to primarily make the Ambrosia Elixir and anything else that could prove useful in the future. In exchange, you and Sabina will be given a comfortable life in my palace when I am king.”

A silence passed between both sides for a time; then, without warning, his father burst into a fit of laughter.

“You are threatening me with palace life?” he asked shortly after the laughter died away. Facinlor raised only an eyebrow, but remained silent. “What if I told you I was not interested?” he said defiantly.

“I will simply offer you something you can not refuse.” Almost instantly the fire between them blazed higher, only now it encircled the two men and his mother. “Your wife will be joining me tonight, whether you choose to or not.”

“Don’t do it, Liam!” his mother’s voice yelled from beyond the flames.

“Sabina!” his father shouted back unable to hide the desperation in his voice. “No, wait, this is absurd. You have destroyed most of my ingredients; it will take me at least a year, maybe longer, just to replace them so I can begin to make your potion.”

“Then you will have until the start of the Season of Fall and no later. Don’t bother following us. And I don’t recommend attempting a rescue, or you will surely learn what is worse than death.”

There was a blinding flash of light one instant, and in the next they were gone leaving only the pair standing alone under the clear moonlit night.

Damon, still very confused by what had just occurred, took off in the direction he believed the attackers may have taken his mother. As he ran, his mind was clouded with questions of what had happened moments before. Who were these attackers? How did they use magic? Who was that girl?

His instincts were correct, for up ahead, he found the two cloaked men with his mother. Her pleading was in a voice of kindness and reasoning, not the terror expected of someone who was being abducted from home. Knowing he could lose them at any moment, he took a chance and rushed up to them, hoping the element of surprise would work in his favor.

His attempt backfired spectacularly, and he was thrown backwards several feet by an unknown force, landing uncomfortably hard on his knapsack. His vision went dark and his ears rang, but as his senses returned, he could hear muffled voices. A soft hand touched his face, brushing his hair away, and as he looked, he could see a blurred vision of his mother kneeling over him.

“Damon, can you hear me?” finally came through and he groaned in response as she came into focus. “You can’t help me right now, but I’ll be okay. I need you to go home to your father and sister, and,” she whispered the last part, “I especially need you to protect that girl.”

“That’s enough,” said the silver haired man as he pulled her to her feet and away from Damon. “I let you say good-bye. Time’s up.”

“Mom?” he tried, still disoriented.

“I promise I will be okay. I love you. Help her!”

“Mom!” He jumped up and tried again to run after her, but the pair of kidnappers, having enough of his intrusion, reenacted the illusion spell and clones of them appeared everywhere. In a mass confusion, they fled in different directions all at once. Without a thought, he took off after the three that seemed the most likely to be real, chasing after them.

This is not how I expected my homecoming to go, he thought wryly as he ran into the night.

Submitted: January 15, 2014

© Copyright 2022 D Nichole Hanna. All rights reserved.


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