The Seeress and the Stone 8
They all finished dinner and headed to their tents. The next morning they were all up before the sun eating breakfast. They began searching for the cave entrance as soon as it was light enough to see. Geoff decided to split them into groups to search the surrounding forest area. Angelia, Sparrow and French headed into the trees toward the hidden path. Geoff, Kya and Jord started making their way up the hillside looking for breaks in the rocks.
They searched all through the morning with no luck. There were no signs of caves or anything else, but later in the morning French came across the old trail that continued around the tall mountain. He called out to Angelia and Sparrow and they looked over the trail. It was grown over with weeds and wildflowers, but the rocky ground displayed evidence of past use. “If this really is the trail, then the entrance to the caves will be somewhere in between this trail and the other,” French thought out loud.
“We will have to search the woods in this area and up the hill further,” Angelia said in a frustrated tone. “I am tired, French. Let’s head back to camp.”
Sparrow looked closely at her friend. “You look pale.”
“I am feeling another headache coming on.”
“Let’s head back,” French suggested.
As they walked down the path toward camp they met up with the others. Their search had also been unsuccessful. Everyone was tired from the morning’s search, yet soon after lunch they started again. Angelia’s headache became much worse so she decided to remain in her tent. She lay down on her blanket and immediately fell asleep.
A few moments later she sat up and looked around. The tent was empty. Still, she felt like she wasn’t alone. She got up and went outside and stepped back in shock. The King stood before her, dressed in a dark cloak without the black armor.
“Hello, Seeress,” he said in a cold, calculating voice.
“Who are you?” Angelia asked.
“I am your King,” he replied. “Take me to Ellinsha, Seeress, so I may worship her as the King of the Ennalkai.”
Angelia gasped. She had only heard the name Ennalkai in the stories Celedand had written in the scrolls. They seemed like fictional characters and yet this King stood before her claiming to be their leader.
“I can’t,” she said in a choked whisper. “I…I don’t know where she is.”
“Oh I think you do and if you don’t take me then your friends will die.”
Angelia could now see the other soldiers that were with the King. He nodded to them and they disappeared into the trees to capture her friends. She nodded in terror.
“All right. I will take you,” she agreed unwillingly. “Please, just leave my friends alone.”
She walked woodenly up the mountainside. There was no path, but she instinctively knew where to go. The way became steep and she stumbled several times. Finally the ground leveled out and she could see a grove of trees near the base of a steep mountain rise. The trees had grown right up to the rocks imbedded in the mountainside. When she entered the grove she could see a pile of huge boulders up against the mountain.
She worked her way through the trees and around to the north side of the rocks. Suddenly the trees broke away and Angelia stood in front of a large opening in the pile of boulders. She kept staring into the dark opening in the rocks. She turned to look at the King, but instead saw only French and Sparrow. Confusion filled her face. It took a few moments before she realized who they were. She reached towards them and French hurried to her side catching her as she collapsed.
She opened her eyes moments later, feeling exhausted. “I guess that is one way to find the caves,” she said with a half-smile.
She tried to sit up, but she had no strength. French picked her up and carried her back down to the camp. They met Geoff and the others on their way down.
“What happened?” Geoff asked.
“I had a vision while I was sleeping,” Angelia replied weakly. “I had to get to the caves and somehow I knew exactly how to find the entrance.” She stumbled over the explanation not wanting to share all of the frightening details.
“Sparrow and I saw her. We called after her, but she just kept going. We scrambled after her and came to the cave just as she turned to us,” French added.
They made it back to the camp and French took Angelia to her tent.
“You need to rest. We can discuss what you saw later,” he said a bit harshly.
“Thank you,” she replied, wide-eyed.
She shrank back from his obvious anger. It made her sick to think that he was annoyed with her. She was silly to think she could hide anything from French. They had been friends and confidants since they were young children. She laid back on her blanket, pushing the disturbing visions to the back of her mind. Before she could review everything she had seen, she fell asleep. She awoke to the smell of dinner. She left the tent and joined the quiet group around the fire.
“Feeling better?” Geoff asked.
“Yes, much. Thank you.”
The group relaxed, but they still looked concerned.
“Well at least we know where the entrance is,” Angelia said with a strained laugh.
Geoff looked her directly in the eyes, all the disbelief gone, “Angelia what was your vision?”
She ducked her head and replied softly, “I told you, I had to get to the caves.”
She sighed. “Because he threatened me,” she mumbled, glancing at Sparrow.
“Who threatened you?” French asked angrily.
She could feel the blood leaving her face as she replied, “The King.”
“What king?” Kya asked softly. Sparrow took her hand encouraging her to share.
Angelia looked at their questioning faces. She knew they wouldn’t give up until they knew the all facts. “It was the King of the . . .the Army,” she said slowly. She wasn’t quite ready to lay out children’s fantasies like the Ennalkai for them to scoff at.
“The army?” Geoff probed.
“The one Grandfather…and I saw in vision.”
“Who are they?”
She looked from one questioning face to another. They all wanted to know. They all expected her to tell them. Whether she was ready or not no longer mattered. In her mind she understood what was going to happen. It all made sense when put in conjunction with the writing on the scrolls her Grandfather had given her.
She knew her answer would be confusing but she continued. “The Ennalkai.”
They all looked at her with disbelief. Geoff sputtered, “The Ennalkai! They are fiction. Stories told to scare young children into being good. You’re telling me they are real?”
He looked like he was ready to walk away right then and there, but one look at her face and he quickly regained control of his emotions. “Are you sure?” He threw this question at her leveling his eyes with hers.
“Yes, I’m sure,” she replied confidently. Of this she was certain.
“Where . . . where did they come from? Why are they coming here?”
“The King wants to see Ellinsha. No, he wants Ellinsha. So he is bringing his army here to take her.”
“The Seer Stone? I thought that was just a story,” Jord interjected.
Angelia looked around at the group. She hadn’t told them everything. She hadn’t told them about the Stone and that Ellinsha was real and that she could speak with her.
“She is real. Everything is real. All of the dreams, scary stories, fantasies.” At that moment everything clicked in her mind. “They are all real. Every legend, vision, prophecy. And it’s happening now.”
She shook her head, fear filling the pit of her stomach. The King wanted her because she was the only one who knew exactly where Ellinsha was and she was the only one who could actually communicate with the stone. He was coming for Ellinsha, but he would come for Angelia first. This knowledge frightened her.
French looked at her curiously and then asked, “Who did you think Sparrow and I were? When you collapsed, I mean? You looked at us with confusion and then passed out.”
“I was already coming out of the vision when you found me. Seeing you there confused me. One moment I was with the king and the next you were coming near me,” she sighed.
Everyone looked at each other, but no one would meet her eyes. Angelia suddenly felt tired and uneasy. They didn’t completely believer her. She didn’t blame them, for she would have felt the same way if it had been one of her friends, Yet their skepticism hurt. She desperately wanted to go home and talk to her grandfather. For the first time since the ceremony she felt a real need to share everything that she had seen. Her grandfather would understand more than anyone else.
With defiance she stood up. “I think it’s time we went into those caves to see how much protection they offer us. Then, I want to go home. I want to talk with my grandfather.” She turned and walked towards the trees. Her hands unconsciously fingered the crystal around her neck.
French followed her. “Angel, wait.”
She kept going and he grabbed her arm. “Angelia what is wrong?” he demanded.
Clear images filled her mind. She pulled her arm out of his grasp. “Nothing. I told you, I’m fine,” she replied irritably. She didn’t want him to react the same way Sparrow had.
“That’s not true and you know it. Why won’t you talk to me?” His face was full of frustration and desperation.
Angelia dropped her gaze to the ground. “Please don’t worry about me, it’s nothing.”
“Oh, it’s too late for me to believe that. Please talk to me.” He pulled her over to a fallen tree and sat her down.
Angelia cracked half a smile. “This is all so new to me.” She looked in his blue eyes and sighed with frustration. She stood and began pacing in front of him.
“French, you know me. I hate being in the center of attention for things like this. I just don’t want everyone asking me if I’m all right every time I stumble, fall, faint, sigh . . . Well you know. And then the constant ‘What did you see? What did you see?’ I hate it.” She folded her arms defensively. “And when I finally tell you what I saw, no one actually believes me. If you aren’t going to believe what I see then I don’t want you to worry about me. I’ll just deal with it on my own.”
She couldn’t hide her surprise she felt when he retaliated.
“It’s just hard to not worry about someone if you care about them.” He turned to walk away, but stopped a few feet away. He turned around to face her, struggling with the words to say. He returned and placed both of his hands on her arms
“When Jord and I pulled you out of the lake, I thought you were dead. It felt like my whole world was collapsing around me. I didn’t care what anyone else said or how they felt I just wanted you back so I could tell you how I felt about you.”
She stared at him in disbelief. This was what she had wanted to hear for so long and now it stung for him to say it.
French gripped her arms tightly making her wince. “But now you seem different. I know this is huge for you. It is big for all of us, and you act like you want to keep it all to yourself. You won’t tell any of us anything and you struggle with everything. It’s hard to believe in something that we can see you don’t believe in yourself.”
His words were like a slap in the face. “I didn’t ask for this,” she threw back at him.
“I know you didn’t, so why don’t you let us help you?”
She hung her head. “I don’t know how. Everyone’s reaction to what I do is the same. They all pull away from me or they don’t believe me. It hurts me.” She folded her arms defensively, unable to stop the tears that flowed. Once again her fingers closed around the crystal.
French hesitated for a second and then stepped closer, wrapping his arms around her protectively. “I’m not going anywhere.”
She leaned her head against his shoulder. He reached up and stroked her hair and then wiped the tears from her cheek. As he did so images filled her head. This time she saw French falling. The image was so vivid and clear, she gasped and jerked away. The scene disappeared.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to—I’m sorry,” she finished lamely. She stared at him wide-eyed and frightened.
He stepped closer and carefully put his arms around her so his skin didn’t touch hers. “It’s okay, Angelia. We all have to get used to the fact that you are now very—perceptive.”
She laughed. “I suppose that is one way to put it.”
“But you also need to understand that we care about you and we want to know about the things that frighten you. You don’t have to deal with this by yourself. It’s hard for us to believe in something that has never seemed quite real, so you will have to be patient while we all get used to it. Be fair to yourself and let us support you. Please.”
She leaned her head against his shoulder again. “I saw you falling.”
French said nothing. She looked up into his face.
He twisted his expression into a puzzled grin. “I guess I will just have to be careful where I step.”
She smiled. “Thank you, French.”
He hugged her fiercely. “You’re welcome.”
* * * *
“We found the caves, Celendar, but we have a lot of work to do.”
Angelia sat curled up in the large chair with a cup of tea, listening to Geoff give a synopsis of their trip.
“I want to explore the caves further, before we do anything,” Geoff was saying. “We don’t know how deep they go or what kind of protection they can give. I don’t want to go into this blindly.”
“I agree, Geoff, but we don’t know when this attack is going to happen. What if it were a week from now? We would not be ready for anything. We must start storing supplies. If we get enough people to help we can explore the caves while organizing provisions. It’s the only way I can think of to keep ahead of this,” Celendar said adamantly.
“I guess that will have to do,” Geoff agreed reluctantly. “Have you told anyone else about Angelia’s vision?”
“Yes. I spoke with Jexson Undreth today. He was skeptical at first, but when I described what happened he seemed open to what I had to say. That makes twenty-two families who have listened and are willing to make preparations.”
“How many people total?” French asked.
“About a hundred. There are still a few who have doubts and some stragglers I haven’t approached, but everyone is keeping quiet. Jexson said he hasn’t heard anything mentioned among the council members,” Celendar replied. “He is taking a big chance by associating with me. He could lose his job if the High Council found out.”
“He will be an excellent asset. He can monitor the feel of the Council and let us know if anything is happening that could affect us,” Geoff agreed.
“He actually had a good idea to communicate with the families that are involved. It will involve several of the children—”
“I reacted the same way, but Jexson’s idea is good. The children are always playing together and meeting in groups. No one pays much attention to them. We will divided them into groups and appoint group leaders. When we need to spread word the leaders can meet and then pass the messages. When school starts again I can send word home with the children.”
Geoff nodded, “It sounds like a good plan.”
“How are we going to collect the provisions and supplies without capturing attention?” French asked. “We can’t just start hauling them up into the mountains.”
Celendar shook his head, “I don’t know. There doesn’t seem to be any possible way.”
French emerged from his corner, “Are there any other ways to the caves, other than the trails we came on?”
“The trail continued north through the mountains,” Angelia replied.
“What if that trail led to the sea up north? We could ship supplies to the north shore and then pack them in to the cave.” French suggested
Celendar shook his head. “It would take too much time. We need to think of faster options.”
“It would be a good to have families put together their own provisions,” Geoff suggested.
French jumped in, “Some of the families in the outskirts of the city could take the trail up to the caves with their supplies and unload them. That way it would seem like family outings to the mountains.”
“Very good, French,” Celendar said. “We can do it little by little. Geoff I want you to start exploring the caves immediately. These kids can help too.”
“All right, Celendar. We will spread the word tomorrow and start organizing these ‘family outings.’ Do you have a list of the families who want to help?” Geoff asked.
Celendar went to his desk and retrieved the list.
Geoff reviewed it carefully. “All right. I’ll get started.”
“We can meet again in a week or so,” Celendar called as Geoff left.
Celendar sat in his chair thinking for a few minutes. French waited. Finally Celendar looked up. “French I want you to be in charge of your group. You kids are together all the time and it will look normal. In fact I want you all to be group leaders. You can spread the word to the other kids in the city.”
French nodded. “I’d better go. Aunt Le’ will be wondering where I am.”
Once he had gone Angelia moved to the sofa next to her grandfather. “It’s all very—exciting,” she said unenthusiastically.
“I think it is time you told me everything, Angelia. I know you have been keeping information from me,” Celendar said sternly.
Angelia nodded and then proceeded to explain every detail of what had happened since the first vision on her birthday.
“You spoke with the man who calls himself the King?” Celendar asked in awe.
“I don’t know how.”
“Look at your crystal. Do you see how the one edge is jagged?”
“I never noticed before,” she said, examining the rough edge.
“It was broken. Two brothers fought and the stone broke. I can only assume this King has the other half.”
“How was I able to communicate with Ellinsha? I thought she was just a powerful seer stone.”
“Every legend is different. Perhaps it is her connection to the earth.”
“Does she control things?”
“People control things. Always remember that. Ellinsha is a powerful tool used to understand many things.”
“Ellinsha. I can’t believe you actually spoke with her. What is she like?”
“I didn’t see her, she just spoke to my mind. She was very mysterious. I asked her about Celedand and she said she would tell me later. She also told me to be calm and not be afraid.”
Celendar nodded. “Angelia, I want you to always remember that you can trust Ellinsha. She will never lead you to harm.”
“Grandfather, there is so much I don’t understand.” She looked up into his shining hazel eyes.
“I should have taught you more. Prepared you better.” He shook his head sadly.
She could tell he felt like he had failed her in some unfathomable way. She didn’t know what to say.
“Angelia, every time you have a vision, no matter how simple, I want you to tell me. Will you promise?”
He looked carefully at her face. There was more. “Is there something else Angelia?”
Angelia hesitated and then continued, “It was so strange, Grandfather. The man who came to me, the King, he looks like you. At first I thought it was you, but he is so dark. And young. Just a few years older than French.”
Angelia looked at her grandfather and shuddered. The fear penetrated deep into her eyes. “His voice was so cold. I don’t understand how he knows about me. I can understand Ellinsha, but me? He thinks I’m the only one who can find her.” Her voice started to shake.
“You are,” Celendar replied quietly.
She shivered. “I’m afraid.”
Celendar put his arm around her shoulders. “I don’t understand everything, Angelia, but we will work together to figure this out. We will all work together to protect you and Ellinsha, all right?”
She nodded. Her hands still shook slightly so he squeezed them reassuringly.