The Seeress and the Stone 24
She could feel the blood draining from her face.
“They’re almost here!” Angelia cried.
“Right now! He is almost here.” She opened the window seat and pulled a packed bag out. “I need to warn the others. We have to leave now.”
Christiana stood back unsure of what to do. “Others? What are you talking about?”
“Geoff Maithley and a few others are hiding in some caves up in the mountains above the city. They broke the decree and split off from the group in the pass and traveled to the caves. I have kept in contact with him through Scotch. They have been working on a way to evacuate the city before the attacks. There isn’t much time. I must warn them,” Angelia hurriedly explained.
“Now? But what about your father?”
“Father won’t believe me until the soldiers come knocking on the door.” Angelia stopped and looked at her mother. “You know I’m right.”
Christiana looked at her for a moment and then nodded. Angelia grabbed her trousers and a shirt.
“Mother if you believe me then I need your help.”
Christiana stood with a determined look on her face. “What do you need me to do?”
“Have Jerie get the horses ready. Pack warm clothes and food, whatever you can put into the saddlebags. I have to tell Sparrow and Scotch.”
Christiana placed her hand on Angelia’s cheek and then rushed out of the room. Angelia changed into her clothes and then ran down the stairs and out to the stable with her pack. The clouds in the west were building and the wind had picked up. She saddled her horse and then rode for Sparrow’s home.
Sparrow rushed down the front steps with a grin when Angelia arrived. Before she could say anything Angelia slid off her horse.
“Sparrow where are your parents. I must speak with them immediately.”
“What’s wrong?” Sparrow face immediately turned serious.
“We need to get the people out of the city. He’s here.” Sparrow looked at Angelia and then ran inside yelling for her parents. When they came Angelia explained what she had seen that morning. They immediately gathered their family and prepared to leave.
Angelia hugged Sparrow. “I’m going to warn Scotch and then Mother and I are riding up to the caves. Tell everyone who will listen—”
She stopped for a moment as a scene burst on her mind. She could see the army as they appeared in a cloud of dust on the northern horizon. The vision passed quickly.
“They will know very soon. I have to go and warn Scotch. Leave as soon as you can. My mother and I will join you shortly.”
“Your mother?” Sparrow asked in shock.
“Yes, I’ll explain later,” Angelia called as she mounted.
She galloped through the streets to Scotch’s home ignoring the angry shouts of the carts and people. She knocked impatiently on the door. The maid let her in and directed her to the parlor. Angelia waited impatiently for what felt like hours. A few minutes, later Scotch came strolling into the room.
“Hi Angel.” He took one look at her face and asked, “What’s wrong?”
“Scotch, we need to get to the caves, now.”
“They are here.” Angelia walked to the window and looked out. The window revealed dark clouds building on the western horizon. Thunder echoes across the city and lightening flashed in the distance. Her face turned pale as she whispered, “They are coming with the storm. Oh, I’ve been so blind! They are using the storms!” She shook her head.
Scotch broke through her thoughts. “What do you mean, Angel?”
“The storms. They used the rains to help them across the desert. I should have seen. I should have known.” Scotch did not look convinced. She pointed to the black clouds, “They are coming with that storm, and they will be here by nightfall or sooner.” Scotch looked at the clouds doubtfully.
“Scotch, please believe me. I’m telling the truth. We have to get to the caves,” she pleaded.
Scotch studied her face for a moment and then he turned and left the room.
Angelia watched him leave. Crestfallen she walked to the window. The storm was getting closer. She turned to leave when Scotch came back into the room.
“My father is at City Hall. I have to go to him and warn the others.”
“You believe me?”
“Yes, Angel. I believe you.” He turned to leave.
“Warn as many as you can,” Angelia called as she followed him outside.
“Meet me outside the city gates in half an hour.” Scotch grabbed his jacket.
“I can’t I have to help my mother. I will meet you at the caves.”
Scotch nodded and left and Angelia rode home. Her mother was waiting with the horses in the courtyard.
“The storm is picking up. We should stay here until it blows over. We can’t travel in this,” Christiana suggested fearfully.
“We have to go to the caves. That’s the only safe place,” Angelia countered. “If we wait it will be too late.”
Suddenly the wind stopped lessened and the air became very heavy and still. In the distance a deep, mournful horn sounded. A hush fell across the city. The horn sounded two more times and then faded into the silence. It was the horn from the Outpost sounding a warning. It was the only thing the city had to warn of impending danger.
In the past they had used the horn to warn of dangerous sandstorms. One call warned of a coming storm, two calls was the warning of distant danger, and three was an invasion. People came out of their homes and stood staring at one another. The horn had never sounded three times before.
Christiana looked at Angelia and then nodded her head. “All right we go up to the caves.”
Angelia cast a grateful glance at her mother. “Thank you.”
She fastened the full bags to her saddle and started to mount.
“Did you tell the servants to go?”
“I sent them home and told them to take their families out of the city for safety. I’m afraid not all of them believed me,” Christiana replied.
“I have to find Tiri. I promised Geoff I would take her to the caves when the alarm sounded. Her parents live west of the city.”
Angelia tossed the reins to her mother and went looking for Tiri. The house seemed to be deserted, but after a few minutes of searching she heard whimpering from the kitchen. She found Tiri hiding in a closet.
“Come on, Tiri. We have to go.”
Tiri was crying, “I’m afraid, Miss. I don’t want to go out there. They sounded the warning. We are being attacked.”
“I know, but we must go now to get away. Get your things, you’re coming with me.”
Tiri grabbed a small ruck-sack from her room in the servant’s quarters and followed Angelia out to the stables. No other servants were in the house. Christiana was already astride her horse. Angelia mounted quickly and pulled Tiri up behind her. They rode towards City Hall and the North Gate.
Geralde and a few other council members ran down the steps as Angelia and Christiana approached the Hall. “What is going on? Why was the warning horn sounded?” Geralde shouted at Angelia
Angelia dismounted and replied, “The city is under attack, Father.”
Geralde looked at Angelia with disbelief. “Do not play games with me. I will not allow this foolishness from your grandfather to pollute you as well.”
“Father, I am not lying. It is the truth.”
“Did some of your friend sneak up and sound the horn?” he asked again his face growing angrier.
“Father!” Angelia exclaimed.
She started to say more, but she was silenced by the sound of the west tower warning bell. Three rings, the warning of attack.
Panic erupted all around them. Council members rushed back into the hall and people started running in every direction. The western tower looked out across the forest that sat on the threshold of the city. The warning bell served as a second alarm for any approaching danger and like the warning horn was minimally guarded.
“Geralde, this is not a joke. The city is under attack,” Christiana exclaimed.
“We must go to the mountains, it is safe there,” Angelia cried.
Geralde shook his head, “No, the safest place is here.”
Angelia could see in his eyes that he still did not believe her.
“No, Father!” Angelia shouted. “I’m not going to be trapped in there.”
He slapped her across the face. “Don’t argue with me Angelia, you will do as I say.” He turned angrily away. “Christiana go gather our things and bring her back here.” He ordered and then turned and walked back up the steps and into the hall. Thunder rumbled in the distance.
Christiana shook her head and replied as he left, “No, you fool. I’m going where it’s safe. Let’s go, Angelia. We cannot save him.”