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Chapter 1 (8)

CHAPTER I

(Ailintho)

I got up at dawn as I always did. I washed my face, dressed myself and went downstairs to the kitchen. Lendra was already waiting with oatmeal.

‘With dried blueberries as you like’, an old woman smiled to me as I kissed her cheek. Lendra always provided me with the best food. I have been her favourite since the day I came to the druids’ seat. Not a druidess herself but the main cook in the community, she was respected by the elders who entrusted her with bringing up the youngest children. I remembered myself as a five year old little girl walking to the storeroom or the garden holding on to her large skirt with other kids. I smiled as I realised that nothing has changed for her since then.

‘Thank you’, I said taking a small wooden bowl full of hot oatmeal and sitting at the table. ‘Has the warrior come for breakfast yet?’

‘He has’, she nodded. ‘But he didn’t want breakfast and only asked for water. He is waiting on a yard.’

I ate the delicious oatmeal, kissed Lendra again and went outside the building. He was indeed waiting and even seemed impatient. He did not say a word though, just got up and put his gear on.

‘I guess we’re ready’, I said. He did not answer so I suppressed a sigh and went directly the path leading to the forest. I remembered not go behind him though, I might not like the warrior but I wasn’t searching for an argument with him either so I walked next to him.

‘We have to find a glade distant enough from any human seats be it the druid community or the villages nearby’, I explained to him as we were leaving the gate. I did not expect him to respond to my words but to my surprise, he spoke.

‘May I ask you some questions? Not the personal ones.’

I was astonished and didn’t know what to say so I only nodded.

‘Could you please tell me why the windows are not symmetrical in the druid hall?’

‘The windows were like that so as not to hurt the tree’, I answered, satisfied that the question was indeed not personal. ‘We used some sort of spell to make it grow this way.’

‘It looks like a safety hazard to me’, he said. ‘An attack possible from any side.’

A warrior. No need to be surprised, Ailintho. He’s a warrior.

‘We included this risk, too. What you don’t know is that the windows can be made to disappear as easy as they were made.’

‘Clever solution’, he nodded. ‘In the room I noticed a strange contrast between the elaborately decorated furniture and the simple clothes of the elders.’

‘That’s easy to explain’, I smiled. ‘Shaping and decorating wood is our tribute to nature. Trees are the monarchs of the forest and druids themselves are only servants. We protect the nature and help the villagers who live close to the forest, that’s our task.’

‘I understand.’

We were walking in silence for a moment and I must say I enjoyed it a lot. Wanlorn’s energy was calm and slow, his thoughts were hidden under his magic-proof helm and his mouth was closed. I must have admitted that although he seemed distant and suspicious, his subdued behaviour was a clear contrast to the ones of talkative, jovial and overly familiar people whom I came across everyday. It was a true relief, I could not deny it. And the fact that Nomi, our cat liked him immediately, was the best proof he was not as warriorlike as he seemed. Animals feel the vibes better than people and stay away from these negative ones.

‘Can I ask one more question?’

‘Yes, please.’

‘All the other members of the council are significantly older than you and yet Master Orthus introduced you as the chief druidess. May I know why?’

I fixed my eyes in the path in front of me and suppressed a sigh as memories returned.

‘It is custom in our community that it is governed by a druid and a druidess, a man and a woman, as a representation of the cosmic order established by God and Goddess. My predecessor died a year ago and I was chosen to take her place. In case you are wondering why such a young girl became the chief druidess’, I couldn’t see his thoughts exactly but I noticed a slight shift in his energy. ‘Well, let me just say I have condensed skills. And I look younger than my real age.’

He didn’t ask any more questions and we reached the glade soon. I looked around and noticed a poplar immediately. Perfect.

‘Now I am going to do something you will find strange but please, trust me, I know what I’m doing’, I came closer to the tree and looked at him. His eyes were dark and impenetrable. ‘I will touch the bark of the tree and it may seem that I fall into a trance. I need you to embrace and support me now because if I use too much of my energy, I may fall down.’

If he was surprised, he didn’t show it. He approached me and very carefully embraced my waist. As I felt his body close and put my arm on his shoulder, I almost lost my breath. I could feel his vibes easy now, they were so calm, clear and pure that all I wanted was to absorb them endlessly. Luckily my mind and sense of duty intervened quickly enough, after all I had a mission to accomplish. I clenched my hand on the trunk, closed my eyes and concentrated. After just a couple of seconds my consciousness raised above the tree and I could see the forest with my mind’s eye.

My inner sight was spreading high now, I was capable to see a large area but the task was to locate the intruder so I had to expand my awareness while covering the whole area and to shrink it right after whenever my inner sight caught something suspicious. It was exhausting. ‘Don’t forget to breathe!’, a voice inside was reminding me but I was too eager and determined to find the crippled creature to listen to it. With every breath out my consciousness was expanding outside my body but it was coming back whenever I was breathing in.

I was playing a dangerous game with my body, I felt it was getting too little air to breathe but I was almost done, just a small area on the edge of forest was left. My body began to tremble but I sensed the unwanted guest was somewhere there. Just as my inner sight noticed the location, my body couldn’t stand this state anymore. I felt weak and darkness fell in front of my eyes.

When I woke up, Wanlorn was kneeling next to me, keeping my legs raised on his shoulders and staring at my face with barely hidden anxiety.

‘Are you all right, milady?’, he asked.

‘Yes, I am quite all right’, I nodded. I was still feeling dizzy and weak but I was coming back to my normal state. His strong, clear energy was flowing to my body through feet and I felt better much quickly than usually.

‘Is there anything I can do to help?’

I smiled. Most of the community was accustomed to me losing consciousness while performing clairvoyance but being a stranger he must have been shocked. And judging by his vibes he was clearly worried about me. I smiled widely. It was nice feeling to know he did care for me and I hated to admit that instead of searching for the intruder I’d rather stay like this with his hand on my shin and his dark eyes fixed in my face…

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Published under Creative Common License

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