Chapter Two: The Tide Rises
Luna sat on a jagged rock hanging precariously at the top of a cliff. She had climbed up the mountain in the hopes of clearing her head so she could form a plan. In her hands she intertwined the stems of some herbs that needed drying and her legs kicked against the rock.
The news from a small party of elves, had informed her that her brother was alive. However it wasn’t all good news and after a moment of relief, Luna was hit with a terrible truth. Maas had been taken captive by a band of scavengers, who were taking any belongings and slaves that they could find.
The slave trade had long been banished in the kingdom however bands of scavengers still took people to sell to rich underworld bosses. Luna hated everything to do with the scavengers and underworld as the people were often mistreated and abused. Most of the time the abuse wasn’t physical, as this would lower the price of the slave, however mental abuse was rising. Physical wounds could be treated with herbs and treatments, but mental problems couldn’t be overcome so easily.
Maas had been taken along with several others into the forest and they were heading for a mountain pass. With the large group of people they would take longer to get through the pass, therefore Luna had time to plan for the moment. Luna couldn’t ask the other villagers for help, for they had already lost so much and a fight with the scavengers would most likely end in injuries or death. The villagers had also lost a majority of their weapons which meant there would be only makeshift options. The scavengers on the other hand had plenty of people and weapons.
Luna let out a long sigh and lay backwards, her arms folded below her head. She had to admit that she hadn’t a clue what she should do about it. Luna was a mere herbiest, she’d never raised a blade except to do a little hunting. She preferred healing more than dealing wounds but now she wished she was a skilled soldier.
Luna reached down and slid a slim dagger from her belt. She flipped the blade, watching the gleam on the metal. Luna had only ever wanted to use the blade as protection from wild animals in the mountains, but right now she could feel her blood pumping with a tethered rage. To protect her brother, who was the only person she had left, she would be willing to draw blood.
Birds sang from the tall pines surrounding Luna, almost as if they were urging her to sit up and enjoy the afternoon sunlight. The sun warmed her skin, however she couldn’t help feeling like her body was cold. Icy blood seemed to flow through her veins making her skin feel almost numb. The tweeting conversations of the birds got louder and Luna gritted her teeth with annoyance. With a short sigh, she sat up and shouted.
“Can you just be quiet and leave me alone?!” Luna yelled, opening her eyes as she said it. “I just want things to go smoothly and quietly for a moment!”
To Luna’s surprise she found herself looking straight at Raine, who was hovering in front of the cliff. His brow furrowed into a frown and he crossed his arms. His wings were a mere blur of green and black behind his back, keeping him hanging mid-air. Luna became aware of a soft hum which she assumed was an effect of the quick movement of the wings.
“Well, someone is in a bad mood,” Raine stated, his almond eyes narrowing.
“I wasn’t talking about you, I swear,” Luna explained quickly.
“I dare say you weren’t,” Raine said. “It would serve you better to be addressing the gods, especially as they may be able to help you if you get their attention.”
Luna sighed and rolled her eyes.
“I doubt they’re listening to me,” Luna said disparagingly. “They’ve ignored my pitiful state so far.”
“Well that’s only because you’re doing it wrong,” Raine replied, flying to the ledge and standing over her.
“Really? Should I go on my knees, or make an altar or go on a journey of self-discovery through the mountains?”
“Nothing quite so rash. I believe you just have to yell louder,” Raine said. “Gods have so much happening sometimes that you just have to do something that will drag their attention away from some young single folk who are asking for love or an old miser wishing for a chest of gold.”
Raine then flew up several metres, his wings humming once again as he took off. He then cupped his hands into a cone shape and lifted them to his mouth.
“Hey, gods!” Raine yelled at the top of his voice. “I think we may need your help right about now! You’ve got a young lady here almost in tears over the recent events, so if you’ll be so kind as to help her out, we’d both be grateful!
His yells seemed to echo and birds flew up from the trees around the area. Luna couldn’t help but chuckle as Raine returned to her side. Raine gave her a shrug and sat down next to her.
“Well, did you get a reply?” Luna asked, gazing across the valley.
“I’m afraid not,” Raine responded, looking across at her softly. “I dare say I’ve never been the religious sort, I haven’t been to a temple since I was twelve years old.”
“Too bad,” Luna replied with a shrug. “If you can’t get a reply, I doubt I will. I haven’t been to a temple since I was six and even then I was practically dragged there.”
“It’s a good thing you don’t have to rely on them then,” Raine said seriously. “I went for a fly earlier and discovered where the scavengers are. Rather than confront them by myself, I figured I could use some help.”
Luna turned to him with eager attention and reached out to grab his arm.
“Are you sure that it was Maas?” Luna asked hurriedly.
“I wasn’t close enough to get full details but there was a male child,” Raine replied.
“Was he looking well?” Luna asked worriedly.
“I won’t gloss it over,” Raine said, his eyes steady. “They were chained up and the guards weren’t treating them gently.”
Luna’s heart sank and she covered her eyes with her arm. Raine pet her head momentarily almost as if he didn’t know how to comfort her but the brief touch and reassurance did Luna a world of good.
“I figure if we leave in the morning, we can catch up to them and in that time figure out a plan to get your brother back,” Raine stated with confidence.
“Why are you doing this all for me?” Luna asked, slightly suspicious of him going to such lengths to help.
“For me I’m afraid it’s totally selfish,” Raine stated unapologetically. “My own parents are captured as well and I could use your help in this situation.”
“What am I to do?”
“Well they say two heads are better than one.”
“And you figure between me and you that we should have that covered at the very least?”
Raine chuckled and then nodded. Luna sighed because although she now had a helper, they had just as little clue as to what to do as she had in the beginning. Raine let her sit in silence for a while his own breathing seemed to be in the same rhythm as hers. It was actually pretty calming and Luna could feel her eyes drooping closed.
Luna was awaken early the next morning, even before the sun made its presence known on the east horizon. Several blankets had been lain over her form and they were of the softest material Luna had ever touched. Luna was no longer on the edge of the cliff but she hadn’t been taken far away, just far enough so that she wouldn’t have rolled off the cliff in her sleep. She was using her own arms as a pillow and she had several patterns sketched on her skin by the rocks and grass. Luna rubbed the skin in an attempt to remove the marks but it didn’t do much to help.
“Good morning, miss sleepy,” Raine’s voice awoke her sleepy mind.
“Morn-“ Luna began saying the greeting back but instead let out a long yawn.
Luna instead surveyed Raine through slightly blurred vision and noticed that his hair was wet. Luna tilted her head sideways but couldn’t seem to sort her mind enough to form the questions on her lips.
“I’ve just been for a wash in the stream a short walk from here,” Raine answered her unasked question. “It always wakes me up and it looks like you could use the cold water yourself.”
Luna was tempted to do just that, not merely to wake herself up but also wash her skin. She hadn’t really had time to clean herself off after the Rotbrute attack and her skin still felt muddy and sticky. However bathing alone in the mountains was hardly safe and she didn’t have any female friends around at that moment.
“I can keep an eye out for you if you want,” Raine said. “Don’t want any strangers walking across on you, do we?”
Luna noticed a small smile touch the edges of Raine’s mouth and she raised an eyebrow. She thought for a moment and then stood up with a nod.
“I don’t intend on undressing completely in the middle of the forest,” Luna replied. “However that won’t stop me from washing myself off a bit.”
“Want me to come along, just for safety sake?” Raine asked once more.
“I’ll be fine, thank you, I have my dagger on me just in case anyway,” Luna said, shaking her head.
Luna flipped the blade in her hand, just to reaffirm the fact that she knew how to use it. She then picked up one of the blankets and her pack and headed towards the stream.
Luna stripped down to her singlet top and rolled up the pants of her pants. She let her hair out of its ponytail, which had already mostly become loose overnight. She then lent over the stream and put her head under. Luna’s hair instantly felt heavy and darkened and she let the strands rest in the flowing water until she had to pull up for air. The water itself was cold and Luna instantly cupped her hands to have a drink. She even filled her water skin with fresh water, knowing that she’d need it later on.
A little while later and she stood up shivering from bathing her limbs in the stream. Luna grabbed the blanket she’d brought along and started to dab herself dry.
“Knock, knock!” Raine’s voice seemed to echo through the trees.
Luna reached for her discarded clothing, what little there was, and wrapped the blanket around her form.
“You may enter,” Luna called back.
Raine appeared from the tree line and approached casually. He leaned down to pick up her pack and then motioned for her to follow him. Luna followed without a second thought and Raine led her back into the open.
“We have to go, they’ve started moving again and we don’t want to lose them,” Raine stated, pausing back at the cliff.
Luna hurriedly clothed herself and folded the blanket. Raine reached for the blanket and tied it firmly onto her pack with an extra strip of leather.
“How are we going to catch up? We’ve got that swamp to cross, and before that we-“ Luna began to think out loud.
“Do you trust me?” Raine interrupted, walking straight up to her.
“At this moment, yes,” Luna answered carefully.
“Good,” Raine said simply.
Raine moved so quickly that Luna barely had time to utter a shout of surprise. He twisted around her suddenly until he stood directly behind her and his right arm hooked around her waist. Luna lost her breath momentary as Raine pushed into the air with his legs.
His wings began to hum again but since Luna was closer they were slightly louder. She hadn’t tied her hair back up after washing it and it fluttered around her face. Luna reached down and grabbed onto Raine’s arm for more moral support than actual support.
The top of the cliff was pretty high from the ground below but the height they flew to made Luna’s head spin as she gazed down.
“Don’t look down,” Raine warned.
“Too late,” Luna retorted back.
“Well, at least you’re not struggling like you did yesterday,” Raine said in a light tone.
“You know, I don’t mind if you actually tell me that you’re going to fly me places,” Luna said. “In actual fact I would prefer you do that in the future.”
“I’ll keep it in mind,” Raine answered. “Alright let’s go then.”
The world looked a whole lot different from high in the sky. The tsunami zone still looked horrible and at the site of several black fins, Luna shivered. However, beyond the destruction was a line of pine trees standing tall and sturdy. The world beyond the tree line looked untouched as if the disaster hadn’t even happened. Even beyond the contaminated mass of debris was the ocean, as dark blue as ever.
As they continued to soar through the air with the birds, Luna wondered what kind of fairy Raine was. Most fairies that Luna had known about, could only fly a certain height above the ground. Raine didn’t seem restricted however and his speed sent both of their hair trailing behind them. He also seemed to hold Luna effortlessly against him, yet Luna also noted that he didn’t speak much as they flew.
“Everything okay back there?” Luna yelled against the wind.
Raine moved his head and tilted his mouth down, as she could feel his warm breath on her cold ears. He paused for a moment and Luna wondered for a second whether he had heard her.
“Have you ever done something so stupid that you pretend it didn’t happen, but then everything just reminds you that you were stupid?” Raine asked so quietly that Luna almost missed it.
“Haven’t we all?” Luna called back. “And if you’re worried about another person, I find the best method is just to apologize. Usually they aren’t as angry as our minds let us believe. I find that our minds tend to be the biggest lies when dealing with ourselves.”
Raine was silent for a few more minutes and Luna closed her eyes as the steady stream of air made them feel dry. Raine straightened his head towards where they were flying and they sped up.
“Keep your eyes shut, don’t want a bug getting in them,” Raine spoke loudly. “And thanks… for your words, they’ve helped me out.”
“No problem,” Luna replied smiling to herself.
Luna took in a deep breathe and let it out slowly, however she kept control of her body movement as much as possible. She didn’t want to hinder Raine while flying, especially when they were so far above the ground.
“Shit, I wasn’t paying attention,” Raine cursed loudly. “Hold on, I’ve got to go down!”
Luna’s eyes flashed open despite Raine’s earlier warning. Luna tensed up as she spotted a line of people, on a road below them, surrounded by heavily armed elves.
Next Chapter (The Rip Tide) ~ Coming Soon
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