The Seeress and the Stone 38
Scotch waited anxiously in the trees next to the little garden shed. He planned to wait there each day until Angelia could send a message to him through Larea. The hours dragged on and soon the sky began to show streaks of dim light. He decided to search the building.
Scotch made his way around the perimeter of the Hall just within the tree line, searching for some way into the building without being seen. Every window was barred and every door guarded, an efficient prison. He knew he would simply have to wait until he could speak with Larea.
He made his way back to the tool shed and slipped inside just before the first streaks of dawn brightened the sky. Shortly after he entered the shed the stillness of the garden was broken by the presence of a guard. Scotch did not recognize him as the guard who usually watched Larea while she worked in the garden. He walked over and stood by the kitchen door and waited.
Nothing happened and Scotch relaxed. Just before sunrise he heard stirring outside the Hall. He crept to the door and peaked outside to see what was happening. He could see a small group of people being gathered near the kitchen door. Most of them he recognized as city officials and members of the High Council. After some commotion the group was marched toward the street.
Confused, Scotch waited, hoping for some sign of Larea or another servant. He did not have to wait long. The kitchen door opened and several servants were pushed outside. Larea was one of them. Then Scotch saw a soldier walk over to where she was standing. It was the same one who had stood guard while she worked in the garden. He spoke to her. She nodded her head and walked fearfully toward the garden shed, the guard followed closely behind her. Scotch knew he would be discovered if they both came into the shed. He hid behind the door as it opened and prayed for a miracle.
“I need you to gather all of your seeds and bring them to that group of servants,” the guard instructed firmly.
“Yes, sir,” she replied sarcastically.
“Do you need any help?” he offered kindly.
“No,” Larea snapped. Scotch was glad the guard didn’t seem to want to challenge her temper. She opened the door and walked to the back of the shed where the sacks of seeds were being stored.
“Larea,” Scotch whispered. She jumped and turned to where Scotch was hiding. “What is happening out there?”
“The King is forcing Lady Angelia to take him into the mountains. The rest of us are being taken away.” Her voice shook. “I don’t know where they are taking us. I’m afraid.”
“What are you doing now?” Scotch asked confused.
“The guard instructed me to gather all of my seeds and supplies.”
“When is the King leaving?”
“Within the hour. What are you going to do?”
“I have to get out of here and up into the hills. Geoff is waiting. If Angelia leaves before I do we will never catch them by surprise.”
“Were you going to try to ambush them?” she asked in disbelief.
“We wanted to surprise them and take Angelia.”
“There are too many soldiers going with them. You would never succeed.” Tears began to trickle down her cheeks. “I’m so afraid.”
Scotch started to reach out to her, but pulled back when he heard a gruff voice at the door. “What is taking her so long, Chetnyte? Tell her to hurry up!”
Larea shuddered. “I am almost done,” she called, hastily grabbing four sacks of seed and depositing them in the doorway. “There are seven more.” She kept her eyes fixed to the ground.
“Thank you,” the kinder voice of the guard replied. “You don’t have to be rude to her, Zygon.”
“And you don’t have to tell me how to do my job, Captain. Bring them here.” Scotch heard the first voice call, “You two, come take these sacks.” Two boys rushed over and picked up the four bags. Larea deposited four more in the doorway.
Scotch waited until she was back in the shed before he asked, “Larea, can you distract the guards when you leave so I can slip out of the shed. I must warn Geoff. I may already be too late.”
Her lips quivered. “Yes.”
“Please don’t let them take me. I am afraid. Take me with you, into the mountains.”
Scotch did not know what to say. “I will try—” he started.
“Hurry up, girl. You are wasting time. Are there any more?” Zygon asked gruffly.
“These are the last,” she replied as she place the last three bags in the doorway and stepped out of the shed.
“Come, we have to join the others,” Captain Chetnyte said.
Scotch peaked through the cracks in the shed. He could see the soldier who had guarded Larea while she worked. Larea glanced back into the shed and nodded. She pulled the door closed behind her.
Scotch whispered, “I will find you, Larea, I promise.” She gave no sign that she heard as she joined the waiting group with a small sack on her back and tears trickling down her face.
Scotch watched through a crack in the shed wall. The soldier who watched her every day put his hand on her shoulder. “Don’t be afraid. We will not harm you,” he tried to comfort her.
Larea pulled her arm away and looked into the young man’s eyes. Her own eyes blazing, “How dare you! Do you see this city, and the people staring in fear? You have taken away everything we hold dear. And now you have the audacity to say you won’t harm us?”
By now the entire group had turned to watch Larea. She turned back to the group and took one step and dropped to the ground with a cry. Everyone moved closer to see what had happened. Scotch watched as the guard desperately tried to help Larea to her feet, then slipped quietly out of the shed and into the trees.
Behind him he could hear her shouting, “Don’t touch me.”
Scotch turned back as he stepped into the cover of the underbrush and caught the faint glimmer of a smile on Larea’s face as he disappeared. He paused a moment and watched as two other guards dragged her to her feet and pushed her into the group of waiting servants. With her face full of triumph, she looked back to where he stood and nodded ever so slightly. Scotch took a deep breath.
“I will find you, Larea. You have my word,” he promised and then turned back to the trees.
He made his way quickly through the park. His only hope was to get out of the city without being seen, and into the hills to warn the others. As he approached the main road through the city he knew he would not have a chance. The road was busy with soldiers patrolling the streets and escorting large groups of prisoners to the northwest. They were taking them out of the city.
Scotch waited until mid-day when a break in patrols allowed him to cross the street and dash into the bushes next to his home. From there he had only to scale the city wall and then make his way into the hills. It took him the rest of the day to reach the foothills, because he had to dodge more patrols. His exhaustion slowed him down, and his frustration drove him on. If the King and Angelia left earlier this morning they would almost be to the caves by now. Without the element of surprise there was no way they could help her. He pushed on. Darkness closed in as he approached the caves. He crept along close to the ground to avoid being seen. A few minutes later he stopped when he heard a twig snap.
“Scotch?” a voice whispered.
Scotch turned in the direction of the whisper. Geoff and two others stood next to some tall pine trees. He walked to where they hid.
“What happened?” Geoff asked.
“I tried to get a message to Angelia. I was delayed when I tried to leave.”
“What is happening in the city?”
“They are taking everyone away. The King left with Angelia this morning and everyone else is being herded out.”
Geoff nodded, “We went down near the city when you did not return. We saw Angelia leading the King and several guards up the path to the caves.”
“Yes, he is forcing her to take him to Ellinsha,” Scotch said bitterly.
“We couldn’t have stopped them even if we wanted to. There were too many of them. They reached the caves about an hour before sundown. Two of the guards are at the cave entrance. We will have to wait for a while before we remove them, so we can follow Angelia. I believe they are camping in the main cavern. I tried to listen, but I could not get close enough,” Geoff said, the frustration apparent in his voice.
“Was Angelia all right?” Scotch asked.
A puzzled look crossed Geoff’s face. “She looked very calm, like she had everything in control.” He half smiled. “The King looked more disturbed than she did. She knows something.”
“Then we will just have to follow her lead.” Scotch yawned. “Do we have a watch set up?”
“Yes, every two hours. Get some rest. You look exhausted. I will wake you in a few hours.”
Scotch nodded and then found a spot under a bush and fell asleep.
Angelia lay on the cold cave floor, a thin blanket the only barrier between her body and the rock. She tried to rest, yet sleep eluded her. Her mind continued to run the images from her last dream through her head. The last thing she remembered was seeing French’s face. Someone must have carried her to her room and laid her on the bed
This morning when Jarr’oshed told her they were leaving she tried to make excuses. “But I am not ready, Your Majesty.”
“You have stalled long enough, witch,” he said angrily. “We are leaving this morning for the mountains. I will not wait any longer.” He came to her and grabbed her chin, his eyes looking deep into hers. “I have seen your dreams, Seeress. You cannot fight your destiny any longer.” She pulled her face away.
“Guards!” the King shouted. Two men immediately entered the room. “Gather all of the prisoners and prepare to move them to the fortress. I want the city empty by nightfall. Twelve men will come with me. We will be in the caves by dark,” he looked at Angelia, “and then you will watch your precious city burn to the ground.” His face was cold and cruel.
Angelia’s head snapped up. “No!” She started toward the King and the guards held her back.
Jarr’oshed looked into her eyes and spoke slowly. “You never should have deceived me, Angelia.”
She shuddered with this thought. He had never spoken her name before. The venom in his voice as he did so made her shrink back. She shook her head to clear her mind of the memory. Night had come and she knew they would soon come and drag her out to watch as Viecity burned. Her heart felt as if it could break. She was responsible for the destruction of the city. She cried quietly in her corner wondering how she could have stopped them. What would the fugitives do after Jarr’oshed’s army left? Those that escaped would be left with nothing. Her thoughts kept rolling though her head until she heard footsteps near where she lay in the dark cave.
“Get up,” the guard commanded. “You have been summoned by the King.”
Angelia got up from her blanket. The soldier grabbed her arm and walked her to the entrance of the caves where Jarr’oshed waited for her. He took her to a small outcrop of rock. It was the only spot that gave an unobstructed view of the city. The night sky glowed bright orange before her.
She stared, too emotionally exhausted to cry. The flames licked the walls and roofs of the buildings and thick smoke floated up into the air. In the distance she could hear shouting and screaming as the people watched their city burn. In the distance she could hear the sound of stone falling as buildings began to collapse.
Jarr’oshed forced her to watch for half an hour and with each minute that passed she became more and more determined to defeat this man who called himself a king and guardian. Her fear was replaced with a deep, angry resolve. Her eyes narrowed and she turned to face Jarr’oshed.
“You should never have deceived me,” he said facing her.
She said nothing, just stared at him with loathing.
Jarr’oshed grabbed her arm to take her back into the caves. She pulled out of his grasp and marched back to her blanket. She sat down and stared unblinking at the wall. She heard his steps behind her, but he left her alone. Instead she heard him instruct the captain of the guard to prepare to move into the caves within the hour.
Angelia slumped against the wall of the cave. A few minutes later Jarr’oshed stalked over to where she sat, “You will take me to Calle’ Thelelle.”
She didn’t even look up at him.
“You will take me to Calle’ Thelelle, Seeress, or people will die.”
Angelia knew she could not argue with him. He would do as he said. She simply nodded her head and turned her back to him.
She glared at the wall thinking, “I will take you to The Meeting Place and there you will meet your destiny.”
Somewhere in the back of her mind Angelia heard a soft voice reply, “Yes. He will meet his destiny. All of you will.”