Allyna knelt before the Goddess for a long time. She knew there was more to consider than just her people. Her life, her future was all at stake. Then another thought crossed her mind. Could she live with herself in the future, if she did nothing? Could she live without the Goddess' blessing? Then she remembered what Danu had told her, how she was the Goddess' only link holding her here. Could she take that from her people if she let Danu go?
She couldn't. She knew she couldn't. There may be a choice, but there was only one thing she could do. She had to fight. She was the heir they didn't know was missing. She would not leave them. She would bring Danu back and bring Lomash to his knees for all the pain he brought to her people.
Danu smiled down at Allyna. "I will do it. I will free them. No matter the cost, they cannot live like this. Help me, Goddess." Allyna said with her head bowed to her knees. A wind sighed through the trees around them.
Come here, my child. Come and accept my blessing. Danu held out her hand in a pose identical to her dream. Allyna reached out to take her offered hand, and the instant she made contact, she felt a great feather brush against her mind. She shuddered, then her entire body went rigid. Images poured into her mind, flashing by faster then she could see. Hundreds of thousands of memories implanted themselves in her mind.
After what seemed to be ages, the deluge stopped. The only thing holding Allyna up was Danu's grip on her hand. I have given you what I could, a gift of your past. I was with them all, every ancestor. You were not raised to rule, but they were. Their memories will guide you. I have also given you another gift. A part of me, to call upon what power I can wield in your plane. Danu released Allyna's hand, leaving a small token sitting in her palm. A silver ring with a single small gem, colored with shades of blue swirling towards the center in a frozen maelstrom.
Now we must return. You have been gone too long, and they need us. Many fear you are dead, some few rejoice. Do not fear, for even if you cannot see me, I am there. Allyna looked up at Danu, then back at the ring. She didn't know what it would do to her. Allyna stiffened her spine, she must have full faith in Her. She slipped the ring onto her right ring finger, the hand of the promised. As she put it on, she felt as if a mantle lay across her shoulders. The ring added a weight she was afraid to bare. She swallowed, then turned and faced the forest.
As Allyna gazed at the vast forest, she realized she didn't know how to get back to the city. She doubted she could even find her way back to the river that healed her. She turned back to Danu, to ask her if she knew the way. She was gone. Allyna had a flash of panic before she could control it. Have faith, the wind whispered, blowing her hair around again.
Allyna looked inside herself, to the memories to help her, not sure it would work. As she looked up at the pagoda, a vision of it newly built crossed her mind. Allyna gasped, this was the first! The very first temple her people built to worship Danu. The one her ancestor, Raella, the first of Danu's line was blessed at as a babe. Allyna experienced the memory as if she were there, standing by the Cheifton's shoulder as he blessed his daughter and praised Danu. Allyna wept at the sight.
With the memory of the event, came the knowledge of the surrounding area. It had changed in the few hundred years since, but her heart pointed her towards the city. It was not far, maybe two or three days of walking. Allyna wasn't sure how she would make it, but she decided to place her faith in Danu. After all, Danu had placed everything in Allyna's hands.
Allyna set out through the forest, following her memory more than any pathways that were long ago overgrown. The forest did not give her passage easily. It had reclaimed this part of her world. She wondered if, when all of this was over and she still lived, that she could have this path cleared. She wanted to bring this back to her people.
When the sun had fully risen, Allyna finally started to feel hungry. She had no tools to hunt with, and wasn't familiar with the plants. She had spent her whole life in the city. She stopped and looked around at the various trees and bushes. She wondered how to get the memories from her ancestors, and if they had any knowledge of these plants along with the path to get back to Danund.
Allyna leaned against a tree, and as her back made contact, a memory filled her vision. A young woman with hair the color of honey and skin to match fed a young man with dark hair and eyes a bright red berry. He smiled at her and then they kissed. The memory faded before the rest played out, but their kiss made Allyna blush. Then she noticed an overgrown bush to her right, it had quite a few of those bright berries from her vision. Allyna wasn't sure she had ever eaten one, but if her vision was any judge, the couple ate them and survived. She plucked a plump one from it's vine. She rolled it in her palm, and with a quick prayer to Danu, placed he berry in her mouth.
As she bit into it's skin, the flavor burst in her mouth. It was indescribable, and made her think of a world forgotten, of beginnings and Danu. Allyna swallowed and and savored every last taste. She then collected as many of the berries as she could fit in her limited skirt pocket. She had to hope it was enough. She grabbed one last handful to nibble on as she walked. If anything, they helped the day pass swifter by consuming her thoughts.
By nightfall, Allyna knew she couldn't keep walking. She may have been healed, and given a gift she didn't know how to use, but she was still human. She had human limitations. She started looking for a good place to rest, and noticed a slightly uprooted tree not far ahead. The roots had pulled up and created a small cave beneath them. Allyna rushed to it and ducked under the roots. It was much to low to stand in. Allyna had to crawl, but it was wide enough that she could turn around to face the hole she had entered through.
Allyna had a small fear that further night would bring a chill, but as the thought entered her mind, she felt Danu's presence. A fluttering went through her hair, and a whisper found her. Hush, and sleep Allyna. I will keep you warm, and no animal will disturb you. Allyna found Her comforting, and quickly obeyed.
Sunlight pierced the roots that created the ceiling of Allyna's cavern, coaxing her awake. Allyna stiffly crawled from the small haven. She stood up slowly, stretching to ease the aches from sleeping in such a cramped space. Allyna glanced around to remember which direction she should go in. Then she heard the sound of a river. She realized she had a need to relive herself, and did so quickly before heading towards the river.
Allyna didn't know if this was the very same river that healed her, but it's water looked safe enough. She knelt beside it, and washed the grime from her face and hands. Then she cupped the water in her hands and took a small sip. Allyna hadn't realized how thirsty she was, until it was finally sated. She took a few more handfuls, knowing she shouldn't drink too much, but craving more all the same.
Something about the river sparked a distant memory. Her ancestors had followed this to a great plain where many of her people gathered. It seemed like they gathered to share goods. As Allyna wondered what it looked like today, it evolved in her mind. She watched it grow as each generation brought something new. Buildings were built, then re-built with better tools. More and more people gathered, and more building were need to hold them. Allyna soon realized that this became the City of Danund that she knew and loved.
As she saw this disrepair it had come to in her own time, Allyna knew she needed to do what she could to save her people. They had come so far. Lomash had to be stopped. Allyna just had to find a way to do that.
As Allyna continued to follow the river, stumbling along the bank, slipping on rocks, and climbing over fallen trees, she tried to think of a way to dethrone Lomash. She wasn't sure how to get him out of the city. How could she make him leave? She imagined her people marching inside, grabbing him by the scruff of his expensive clothes, and tossing him out on his arse. As much as Allyna wanted to, he had other's with him. They had had 18 years to get comfortable here.
At the end of the second day, Allyna had run out of the delicious berries. Going by her memories, she should be in Danund midday tomorrow. She hoped she could make it all the way back to her bakery before she got too hungry. She grabbed a few more sips from the river, and this time she didn't get lucky with a fallen tree or cave. This area was too close to the city, and any fallen trees were claimed for fuel.
With that thought in mind, she knew she needed to stay out of site. Seeing as there were no places on the ground, Allyna looked up to the trees. Not far from the river, there was a thick tree that looked suitable. She would have to climb onto the shorter tree next to it to get to the lowest limb on the thicker one. She tugged the bottom of her skirt and tied it off to the waist to leave her legs free to climb.
As she started upwards into the tree, she heard a horse clomping through the forest. She was climbing up the opposite side of the tree, so she couldn't see who was walking through the forest at this time of night. She was afraid to continue up the tree, worried she would make a noise or her movement would catch his attention. So she clung to the trunk as the branch swayed a little under her weight.
A voice startled her, a deep humming. The stranger seemed to be headed towards the river her tree over looked. Allyna closed her eyes, a silent mantra ran through her mind, "Don't look up, don't look up, don't look up, please don't look up". The wind suddenly picked up, and the trees around her rattled their leaves. Allyna looked down to find the stranger looking up at her.
"Huh. You don't see that every day," He said as he scratched his head, causing his black hair to stand in all directions. "Are you, uh, stuck?" He added, after a few minutes of Allyna staring at him like a mouse caught in the open. Allyna stiffly shook her head, unable to speak.
The stranger looked down at his horse, patting his leg and thinking. He then looked back up at her. "Well, my name is Paetir, if you decide you need a hand getting down from there. I'm just on my way back to the city. If you're heading that way, you can join me if you'd like".
Allyna had to think fast. He seemed older than her, and who knew if he was trust worthy. How many people knew who she was? Were they looking for her? If she let him get her into the city, could they part ways without getting him hurt if he was innocent?
Let Me Know!
Ready for part 4?
Note From Ash
Hey guys, part 3 here. Thanks for waiting. I'm sorry I didn't get this up sooner, but I have a new laptop so hopefully I'll have part 4 up within the next few days. I love hearing from you, so as usual, if you catch any mistakes, be sure to let me know! Thanks for reading!