The Seeress and the Stone 29
Christiana awoke suddenly. The cave was dark and silent. She reached over to the place where Angelia had fallen asleep. The blankets were cold and empty. She fumbled to light a candle. The pale glow cast flickering shadows across the room. No one stirred. Christiana made her way to the entrance of the caves, fear and dread filling her body.
Geoff was standing just outside the cave staring at the eastern sky and mumbling to himself. Christiana tapped him lightly on the shoulder. He swung around.
“Oh, Christiana, you startled me.”
“Angelia is gone,” she replied.
“Gone? Where?” His face became very concerned
“I don’t know. I woke up and she wasn’t there.”
“Where would she go?”
A sinking feeling filled her chest. There was only one place Angelia wanted to go besides the caves. “I think she went back to the city,” she whispered, wanting to cry. “She said she left her little crystal at home and I wouldn’t let her go back to get it. She told me she needed it, but it was too dangerous to go back. The soldiers were there and I couldn’t let her go...Geoff, I think she went back alone.”
Geoff stared off into the trees, deep in thought, his brow wrinkled with concern. “Her crystal? The blue stone she always wears around her neck?”
“Yes, that’s the one.”
“This is a setback,” he muttered.
“What do you mean?” Christiana’s voice was full of fear now.
“Angelia uses that stone to communicate with Ellinsha. We have to find our way through these caves,” he said pointing into the dark opening, “and we were hoping Ellinsha could help us. Without Angelia and her crystal we don’t know if we can even get through the caves.” He shook his head.
Christiana watched Geoff and then looked towards the eastern sky. Pale pink light was glowing on the horizon. Her heart was afraid for her daughter.
“Geoff, I want to go and find her.”
Geoff put his arm around her shoulders. “We can’t risk going into the city by day. It is too dangerous. There are soldiers patrolling the hills. We have to wait for night. I will put together a small group to go and search for her.”
Christiana started to protest, but a guard interrupted them.
“Geoff, there is another patrol moving through the foothills. They’re getting closer,” the guard said.
Geoff shook his head. “Go find Jord have him come here.” He turned back to her. “Christiana, the patrols are getting closer and we can’t risk being caught. We cannot wait any longer. We have to move further into the caves.”
“Without Angelia and her crystal? But you just told me we needed the crystal to go through,” Christiana argued.
“We might not have a choice now. We were planning to move further in anyway, but with these patrols getting closer we can’t risk being caught. I need your help organizing the people here and helping them prepare to move.”
“I’ll help where I can, but I won’t leave without my daughter,” Christiana said firmly.
Jord came towards his father, interrupting their conversation. “What is it?” he asked worriedly.
“How far into the caves have you gone?” Geoff questioned.
Jord pulled a rough map out of his back pocket. “I would say maybe nine or ten miles in.” He laid out the map. “There seems to be a steady trail with a lot of side passages. Most of them are shallow, but we keep finding several longer ones. A few could go further out, perhaps to other entrances, but several of them are caved in. Why?”
Geoff studied the map for a few minutes and then replied, “I want you to begin moving the people deeper into the caves, to the furthest point. Send scouts ahead to keep exploring, but follow this main corridor for as long as you can. We can only pray this is a way through the mountains.”
“I thought we were going to follow Celendar’s trail,” Jord said confused.
“There are too many patrols to move a group this large. We would be captured for sure,” Geoff answered firmly.
“Yes, father.” His eyes showed confusion. “But why don’t we just have Angelia lead us? Doesn’t she know the way?”
“Angelia is no longer here,” Geoff answered wearily.
“She’s not here? Where did she go?” Jord asked anxiously.
“Christiana thinks she went back to the city.”
“Why would she do that?” Jord looked incredulously from his father to Christiana.
“Angelia left her crystal at home. I think she went back for it,” Christiana answered. “I know she wouldn’t put herself in danger, unless she knew what she was doing.”
Geoff’s face barely concealed his frustration. “We must begin traveling now. I am afraid there is danger approaching and I don’t want these people trapped here. The time to move is now.”
“We could be trapped anyway,” Jord replied.
Geoff nodded. “I know, but we don’t have much of a choice anymore.” He motioned to a few of the watchmen. “Call a council. I want to begin preparations to leave.”
He turned back to Christiana. She watched his face, but he hid his feelings well. She knew he wouldn’t let her help search for Angelia.
“Christiana, I need your help. You have to trust me.”
“But I want to find Angelia,” she cried.
“I know. We will find her, but I need you to help me.”
She stared at him, wanting to argue, but knowing her arguments would be brushed aside. “All right, Geoff. I trust you,” she said uncertainly.
“Good. I need you to organize the women and children and supplies. I don’t know how long this journey will last, but we have to make sure that we have enough food for several weeks, perhaps even months. I need you to find out how much food we have and then ration it out.”
“I will do my best,” she replied distractedly.
“Thank you.” Geoff started to turn away.
She put her hand on his arm. “Geoff, please bring her back to me. I just got her back and I can’t lose her again,” she said urgently. “I won’t make that mistake a second time.”
“I will find her, I promise,” he replied gently.
The people around them were beginning to wake up and a few moved closer to listen to the conversation. Geoff scanned the group.
“Where is Scotch, I haven’t seen him at all,” he asked
“He was on watch last night. Maybe he fell asleep,” Jord replied.
Christiana turned back. “Maybe he saw Angelia,” she said hopefully.
“Send out a few of the boys to look for Scotch and Angelia and tell the group leaders that I want to begin traveling tonight,” Geoff directed
The camp buzzed as supplies were organized and everyone was divided into groups of twenty. Christiana kept busy all day. Jord had reproduced maps for each group leader and sent some scouts into the caves to mark the main path. By afternoon they were ready to move out.
No one had seen any sign of either Angelia or Scotch. By evening Christiana was deeply concerned. If something had happened to Angelia, there was no way they could help. They had little means of fighting soldiers and were sadly outnumbered in arms and skill. Geoff had chosen a small group of four to accompany him to the city.
The travelers rested briefly in the afternoon and at sunset Geoff sent them on their journey into the mountain. It was almost an hour later when the last group began their descent into the caves. Jord led the last group and Christiana brought up the rear. She watched Geoff prepare a pack for the next few days and organize the small search party.
Jord went to Geoff’s side. “Good luck, Father.” They embraced.
Christiana’s heart pounded, and a silent fear crept into her heart at the obvious emotions crossing both their faces.
Geoff held his oldest son tightly. “Take care, son. We will catch up with you as soon as we can.” His voice caught and he turned quickly away.
Christiana watched the small search party disappear into the trees and then, with a feeling of dismay, she turned to catch up to her group.
Scotch sank to the ground when the soldiers appeared and grabbed Angelia. He watched helplessly as the king spoke to Angelia. He wanted to rush from his hiding spot to rescue her, but he knew he would be killed immediately. His heart sank as they led her down the street toward City Hall.
He waited for almost an hour before bolting across the street and into the trees next to his home. When he had discovered Angelia’s horse missing he had a feeling she had returned to the city, but he didn’t understand why. He had returned hoping to catch her, but he never found her. He entered the city and spent the day at his house. When he finally found Angelia, it was too late.
After he reached the garden, he climbed over the wall and then ran as hard and as fast as he could to where the horses were tied. He surveyed the area for patrols and then galloped up the mountainside leading Angelia’s horse. It was not long before he met up with Geoff and a small rescue party.
“Scotch where have you been?” Geoff demanded.
“Angelia’s been captured,” Scotch replied urgently.
“She went into the city. The King must have known where she was. He knew right where she was hiding.” Scotch shook his head. “There is no way to rescue her there are too many soldiers.”
“I’m sure they took her to City Hall. It’s the most fortified structure in the city.”
Scotch continued, “Even if we did find her we would never escape.” His thoughts were churning in his head.
“There must be a way to help her,” Geoff exclaimed. “I won’t leave her behind. If we don’t have Angelia we could wander in those mountains until we died and still never see the light of day. We have to find some way to rescue her.”
“I am not suggesting we leave her there. I don’t think he will hurt her, he needs her for something.” Scotch looked into Geoff’s face. “You know why, don’t you?”
“I am not sure of anything right now.”
“Geoff does this have to do with Angelia’s…abilities?”
Geoff nodded. “We think the King will use Angelia to find Ellinsha.”
“How does he know about Angelia?”
“I don’t know. I wish I did, but Angelia and Celendar didn’t share everything with us. I wish they had.”
“What are we going to do?”
“I want to go down closer to the city.”
“What about all of the people up there?” Scotch asked.
“Jord led the last group out early this morning. I wanted them to be deep in those caves, beyond anyone’s reach.” Geoff looked up at the mountains above them then back at Scotch. “How well do you know the caves?”
“Pretty well, but Jord knew them better. Do you think the King will go up there?”
“I think that is where Ellinsha is,” Geoff replied.
“How do you know?”
“Angelia went in there one night about a month ago. When she came out I could tell she’d had another vision or something. Why else would she be in those caves in the middle of the night except to speak with Ellinsha?”
Scotch looked skeptical. “Perhaps. So if the King forces Angelia to take him up there we could ambush them.”
“I thought about that, but I don’t know if it would be a good idea,” Geoff replied hesitantly. “Those men are trained soldiers and we are simple people.”
“I would like to get moving, it is getting late. I want to find a safe place to hide near the city.” He motioned to the rest of the small rescue party and they began hiking down toward the north wall.