One more Forever
The night would be upon her soon. Rachel knew she had to make it to the cabin before morning. She rode Lazareth harder than she should have but he was strong and would carry her until he collapsed, this she was sure of. She and Lazareth had been together since the day her father had told her he was dead. Refusing to believe it was so, Rachel had gone in to the stables where he lay. Closing her eyes, she had whispered words that her mother had taught her. Her eyes had filled with tears, thinking of her mother, gone for three years. Rachel had spoken the same words over her mother as she whispered in Lazareth's ear. They were strange words, spoken only in times long ago forgotten that her mother shared with her when Rachel was very young.
"You won't die, Lazareth. Papa only thinks you dead but I can feel your heart beat as if it were my own. Listen while I whisper words of life in your ear. Take them and feed your tired body."
She remembered the smell as if it were only a day gone by. The sweetness of the grass bales that laid near the stall was breathed in by her and Lazareth. The fragrance was like sweet clover after a gentle rain. The smoke rose from the grass and circled her head, pushing it's way into her brain through her nostrils. She leaned forward and breathed the smoke in to Lazareth's nostrils. With a few more words whispered to the horse, Rachel stood and watched. She saw his back legs kick out and caught the fluttering of his eye lids. Rachel reached out and while touching the huge horses mane she said aloud, "One more forever for you my friend." With those words spoken, Lazareth stood and shaking his head, he neighed loudly as if to say "thank you, I am alive." Yes, he would carry her tonight, taking her to the cabin, or Lazareth would die trying.
Darkness fell faster than she wanted it too. The Forest was only a stones toss away. She could already feel her body begin to tense as the first shadows from the trees stretched out to touch her. Lazareth tried to slow his pace but Rachel urged him on with gentle squeezes to his sides. She heard the soft spoken voice of her mother as she entered the forest.
"I am here with you, Daughter. It has been so long since I have seen you."
Not needing to speak aloud, Rachel answered. "Mother, I am sorry I have been away so long. Father needed me to help with the land. I must get through to the cabin."
"Why the urgency, Rachel? Who is hurt? I know you would not travel through this forest at night with out cause."
"It is father... he is terribly ill. The people came and tried to destroy our home and father fought them. I used what powers I had left to try and help. I did little good. He was hurt and the injuries became festered. I need the powers with in the cabin to heal him."
As she waited for her mother to answer, Rachel felt the sting on her cheek. She could feel blood trickling from the wound. She did not cry out for fear she would attract more of the forests keepers. Lazareth suddenly stopped, tossing Rachel head over heels across his head. She landed hard on the ground, feeling the rocky road beneath her.
"Damn you, Lazareth, why did you stop?!?!?" Looking past his head, she saw them. There were hundreds of them. Tree dwellers, the size of a large dog, reaching down from the trees to touch her. She shuddered with fear as she watched their arms stretch in un-natural ways, their fingers elongated, filthy with tree sap and pieces of bark. Rachel pressed herself tight against the rocky road as their fingers missed her face by mere inches.
"What do you want here, young girl? Have you decided to call this your last forever?"
Rachel, now feeling her powers surge through her stood. She swiped away the fingers that reached for her. The imp screamed at her touch and moved back to the top of the tree. "I do not need to answer you to go forward. You have no powers as long as I am not afraid. Go back to the trees before I hurt you."
"Hurt us??? Not afraid? Perhaps we can help you with that. Your powers are weak and we are many."
"Please, I must get through before morning. When I am finished with my business, I will find a way to repay you for safe passage."
Rachel watched as the imps, one by one, melded together. The creature before her began to grow taller with each meld. He was grotesque and the evil oozed from his lips. He now stood directly in front of Rachel and Lazareth. His voice alone made Rachel shake with fear, fear she could not afford to show.
"I will take your horse as payment for passing. If you return and bring me something special, I will give him back. If you do not, then I will Eat him! Or you can try to pass without this deal and I will simply eat you both now."
Rachel stared in to the eyes of the best friend she had. She knew that this creature could over power her at this time. She also knew, she had no choice. Putting her arms around Lazareth's neck, she cried into his mane. Somehow she knew that he understood her. "I will be back for you, my dearest friend. I love you."
"You better hurry, little girl, I think I feel the sun rising."
Rachel knew he was lying. She didn't have a lot of time to reach the cabin, but the darkness was still heavy in the air. With a glance back at Lazareth, she ran towards the cabin.