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Lowenna part 13 (chapter 15)

Lowenna part 13 (chapter 15)

After surviving a Demon-god, and an attack on Penbirth. What is next for Lowenna?

Chapter 15 VLAD’S STORY

Lowenna awoke with a groan. Her head hurt, and the bright light was stinging her eyes. She could tell she was back in her room, due to the scratch on the ceiling, but had no memory of going to bed. As the numbness of sleep passed, a shooting pain raced through her arm, and it took her a few moments for her to remember, she had been shot. She tried to sit up, but her body decided it wanted to stay lying down.

Giving into what her body wanted, Lowenna slowly turned her head and saw Rique sitting by her bed looking at the floor. “Hi,” she finally said, after watching Rique for a while. Her mouth was dry, and her mind was throbbing.

Rique jumped up. She couldn’t believe her eyes. “You’re alive! You’re alive!” She shouted ecstatically.

“I wouldn’t feel so bad if I was dead.” Lowenna tried to laugh, but it just hurt too much, so settled with a smile.

"The Healer couldn't wake you. Said all we could do was keep you comfortable, and to pray to the Angelous. Everyone has been so worried."


“Well, me, Vlad and his wife, Mrs Ziggle, Ryna and Korri. We have all been up here. There has always been someone by your side, and others have been asking about you.

“It’s nice to be wanted.” Lowenna joked but was surprised how many people had visited her.

“You saved us all, but Vlad told us not to tell anybody.”

"I don’t want any… unwanted attention and Vlad knows that. I’ve been told that some people don’t like the Lowenna, and I really don’t need any more trouble. I seem to attract enough, without looking for it.” Lowenna’s mind was still slightly cloudy, trying to piece everything together.

Rique nodded, looking slightly concerned, “Do you want a drink of water?” She asked trying to change the subject, picking up a jug, which was on the table, and pouring a glass.

“Please. How long have I been asleep?” Lowenna asked.

“A whole sun and a moon. I was so worried," Rique replied.

Lowenna smiled at her friend. She wondered why she had slept so long, but was glad she hadn't had any visions this time.

"The settlement is in chaos. There is a meeting later, just after high sun, The Mayor of lower Penbirth is organising it. Everyone is going be there, even one of the Lords is going to attend. They want to talk about the missing people, repairing the shops, the gate, and security of Penbirth.” Rique said as she passed a glass of water to Lowenna.

The water was cold, but Lowenna only had a couple of sips, to try and moisten her mouth and throat. “What missing people?” She asked after the drink.

“My dad told me that several children and young adults. One of the missing is a young gate-guard.”

“Could they be dead?” Lowenna asked, forcing herself to sit up. She was stiff, and her body resisted the movements, but once she was sitting up, she did feel a little more alert.

“I suppose, but they haven’t found their bodies. Mr Valery said that his daughter was forcibly taken,” Rique replied. "Poor Eryn," Lowenna noticed that Rique looked really sad.

“Eryn was taken?” Lowenna asked, feeling a little guilty. That had not been part of her vision though it was very unlikely, she could have saved her, along with everyone else from her dream.

“Yes, as were others. The youngest was just four harvests old. Almost all of the shops and properties in the area were hit and many people were hurt or killed. If it wasn't for you…” Rique’s words trailed off into silence.

Lowenna went to throw off the sheet, which was covering her and give her friend a hug when she realised she had nothing on underneath. “I’m going to get up, now,” she said, but then there was a loud knock at the door. Lowenna made sure she was covered while Rique went over and opened it.

Grilk clumped into the room, very slowly. He had a slight limp and his arms and left leg was wrapped up in bandages. He held a small sack in his hand. For a moment, he looked miserable. Then he saw Lowenna sitting up in bed, and his expression changed from miserable to astounded, to ecstatic. “Wenna!” He shouted jumping around the room making the furniture shake. “You alive!”

Lowenna couldn't jump, but she was also very happy to see Grilk was alive as well. "Hey, Grilk, I'm glad you are all right,” she said weakly.

“Ha! Me fine. Healing good, healer says.” Grilk slammed his fist into his chest, and then grimaced, showing he was still in pain, before he offered the sack to Lowenna. “Think this yours,” Grilk said, as he poured the contents onto the bed. In the sack was Lowenna’s two shoulder bags, the water pouch, some of her now broken incense sticks, the dark green gem ring, her wristband with the Lowenna symbol, and the broken remains of her jar. “Your knife taken ill… ill-legal weapon.”

Lowenna was glad to get her stuff back, but as she looked at it all. She realised that some of her possessions were still absent “There are a few things missing.” There was a purse full of money, a gold nugget, my arm guard and a small dagger with red and green gems in the handle, which were taken from my room as well.”

“Me no see money, or guard, someone must have taken. Me think me saw knife. Krakett said was his.”

“Who’s Krakett?” Lowenna asked after she had another sip of water.

“He’s the head of the Gate guard,” Rique answered the question for Grilk, who nodded. “He was lucky he wasn’t killed. Most of his troop was when the gate was blown up. Most of the moon time troops were killed as well, but not him. He was still in the back, stuffing his face and barking orders, my dad said.”

Lowenna suddenly felt a little guilty she hadn't asked about Kia or Ryna. She had seen Kia and others trapped in the dream-scape, “how is your dad? And how is your brother?” She asked hoping for good news.

“Dad is well. He shot a few of the raiders when they were retreating, but Krakett is taking the credit for that as well.”

“How did he get out of the fire?” Lowenna asked. Rique and Grilk looked at each other, and then Grilk smiled and thumped his fist into his chest, and instantly grimaced in pain again. “Me smash through wall…”

“You fell through the wall you mean,” A familiar voice said, interrupting Grilk. “Then my dad helped you out.” Both Grilk and Rique turned their heads as Ryna came into the room. He had a blackened eye, and his left hand was bandaged up, but he had a big smile on his face.

“Hey Ryna, how are you?” Lowenna asked, last time she saw him, he had been lying on the floor, not moving.

“I’m going to be fine,” Ryna said with a smile, “my head still hurts a bit.”

“You should be resting. You were hit very hard,” Rique said with a glare.

Ryna ignored the comment, his sister had made and continued. “Anyway, Grilk smashed through the wall, to the gate house, and the other guards climbed out. My dad helped Grilk out of the fire, and then he ran up a ladder to the top of the wall and started shooting the raiders with his bow.”

“Me owe your dad my life,” Grilk added to the story, a little late.

Lowenna then had a thought. In the dreamscape, it was the fire-wielding raider who shot Grilk, not the one with the lightening. There was no way he would have smashed into the gatehouse, and rescued Ryna if it had happened like she had seen. It was like Lowenna had been given the dream to change it, and the changes she had made had not only saved Grilk but Kia as well. Was it just luck that it had happened or was it a bigger part of a plan, which Lowenna seemed to be stumbling through? Had someone manipulated her into saving Kia, Grilk and the others? Was that what she had been sent here to do?

Lowenna closed her eyes, trying to bring the memory of the dreamscape into focus. The only person she didn’t know about was the old lady from the market. She was the only person who Lowenna had seen dead.

“How did you know my dad was trapped in a fire?” Rique suddenly said, looking confused.

Lowenna looked at her, and then glanced at Grilk and Ryna. Grilk probably wouldn’t understand dreamscape, but Ryna would she thought. Lowenna cleared her through, “I dreamt it,” she finally admitted, in a quiet voice.

Ryna looked confused, but Rique’s eyes opened wide. “Oh,” she managed to say.

Grilk however, seemed to know exactly what Lowenna had said, “You have future dreams?” he asked, then carried on like Lowenna had already answered yes. “Me knew you could do magic and you strong fighter” Grilk smiled, he was very pleased with himself, for working this out.

“I dreamed your dad was trapped. Ryna was hurt. Rique and Vlad were in the bar and you Grilk were blown through the door by the raider, whose hands were on fire,” Lowenna explained.

Grilk’s expression changed after a few nods, Lowenna could tell he was thinking. “That not what happened,” he finally said.

“No, because I changed the future, changed our fates,” Lowenna replied, trying to explain. “I threw a knife at him, and he missed you with his fire magic, and you killed him.”

Rique looked confused as well “I’ve never heard of a vision, which could be changed.”

“Me no too,” Grilk agreed.

“An old woman, in the market, told me the future is not set, and to take dreamscape as a warning. No dreamscape is exactly the same as real life, but from what I have seen, it was very close.” Lowenna was doing her best to explain, but it had sounded better when the old lady had explained it to her.

Grilk now looked even more confused. Rique was trying to work out what Lowenna had said and Ryna had given up trying.

“I’m going to get up now. I want to have a word with Vlad, and I’d like to go to this meeting.” Lowenna said, after a long silence.

Grilk grunted, and all three of them went to leave. “I’m glad you are all well,” Lowenna said as they left the room.

All three of them looked back, “We glad you good too, Wenna.” Grilk replied, as they left, shutting the door behind them.

Lowenna didn’t move for a bit, she felt that she hadn’t explained the dreamscape very well, but didn’t really understand it herself. She eventually forced herself to get up out of bed, the sheet falling to the floor. Her arm still ached and her head was still fighting the tiredness she felt.

She looked down at her crystal, its colour still hadn’t returned to its original state, but it was a dark pink now. “Thank you,” she said to it. The magic had saved her again. She had been fighting very well, but when the raiders had started to use magic, she had been very glad, she had her own to defend herself. Lowenna held the crystal in her hand, and it glowed, responding to her touch. She was thinking, that it must have also helped her heal. This was why it hadn’t fully recharged yet.

She walked slowly to the wardrobe and put her hand behind it. The bag of gems and gold was still there. A small smile flickered on her face. The raiders had not done, that good a job searching her room. She removed the purse and put it in the shoulder bag, she had bought from the old woman.

She opened her wardrobe, and noticed, someone had hung up, what was left of her clothes. She grabbed the beige top and trousers, she hadn’t worn yet and got dressed. She put the broken glass jar in the bin, before putting most of her stuff in her bag. She left her book, her incense and the bag she had obtained from the spawn of hydra, on the bed. Then she tied her hair back and left the room. Heading down the stairs to find Vlad.

At the bottom of the stairs, Lowenna saw Korrina and Mrs Ziggle. Both of them were whispering, but when they saw Lowenna they suddenly stopped, and awkwardly smiled at her. “I’m so glad you are well,” Korri stated, walking up to Lowenna and giving her a hug. “The healer said he couldn't wake you.”

Lowenna gave an uncomfortable smile. “I guess I was very tired,” she finally said, but Mrs Ziggle was giving one of her customary looks of disbelief, over her glasses. “Have you seen Vlad? I wanted a talk to him about the raiders,” Lowenna asked.

“He is in the bar, tidying up.” Mrs Ziggle answered. “The place is still a bit of a mess, Low…”

“Thank you,” Lowenna interrupted. She didn’t want anyone else to know, she was a Lowenna. Although she was sure that, someone would have already told Korri.

She still wasn't completely sure she was a Lowenna. Although she was sort of hoping, that she was. That would at least give her a place in the world, even if some people were afraid of her.

Lowenna turned to leave, but paused and looked back at them, “I’m glad you are both well.”

“We are glad you are well too… Wenna.” Korri replied, smiling, and Lowenna headed into the bar, looking for Vlad.

The room was still a mess. Scorch marks and bloodstains, still visible on the walls and floor. The main door was boarded up, as was the high window, which Grilk had been shot through. This had removed what little natural light there had been in the bar. The bar itself had been completely destroyed, and a couple of long tables had taken its place.

Vlad was repositioning what was left of the furniture. The remaining tables were all against the walls, and chairs were being arranged in a sort of semi-circle. When he saw Lowenna, he stopped and walked over to her. “Before I forget, I want to thank you for saving everyone, you were amazing.” He shook Lowenna’s hand, real gratitude showing on his face, but only for a moment. Vlad composed himself putting his serious face back on, “So how are you? Rique told me you were up, a miraculous recovery.”

Lowenna smiled. Vlad was showing genuine appreciation for her saving him and the others. “I’ve felt better, but I will be all right. I wanted a talk with you about the raiders,” As Lowenna said this the smile suddenly faded from Vlad’s face.

“Oh?” He replied, as he lifted up the nearest chair, and started walking away.

Lowenna smiled, lifted up another chair and followed Vlad. “The man in the hat who was throwing lightning around, he seemed to know you.”

Vlad put the chair down and went to get another. “Yes, well I haven’t always been an innkeeper, at one time I was a soldier in a small private army as was Troy."

“Troy?” Lowenna asked.

“The raider who knew me,” Vlad explained. “We were on a mission to retrieve a magical Gemstone, similar to yours, from a village on the edge of a jungle. We were also, to assassinate the man who had stolen it. I disagreed with my commander’s decision, to attack the village and cause as much damage as possible. This was to hide the fact, we were only after one person and one item, no matter how powerful, but I was ordered to attack, so I did.” Vlad paused, he hadn’t talked about this for a long time, but the memory was still as strong and painful as ever in his mind. He remembered it as if it happened only a few suns ago.

“So? What happened?” Lowenna asked. She wanted to know and felt Vlad owed her an explanation, as an exchange for the fact, she had saved his life.

“Well, Troy, Gallon and I, were responsible for getting the item. While the rest of the men, went about, causing as much destruction as possible. We got to the house, smashed our way in, and retrieved the item without any problems. Gallon killed the thief, but as we were leaving a young girl, couldn’t have been more than eight harvests, ran into the room. I just stood there. I didn’t know what to do. I’ve killed soldiers, and thieves, and even some people who didn’t deserve to die, but never a child. But Troy just drew his crossbow and killed her without a single hesitation. Gallon laughed, but I couldn’t believe what had just happened. Troy had never shown any regard for the enemy, but a little girl...” Vlad trailed his speech, before starting again. Lowenna could see the memory was still quite painful for him.

“We started to argue, me against Troy and Gallon. I said something like. You didn’t have to do that, but Troy said, no witnesses. I pushed past them to see if the girl was still alive, but Troy shot me in the leg, laughing and calling me a traitor."

"Well I wasn’t going down without a fight, so I drew my sword and dagger as Gallon charged at me. He was made for brute strength, where I was fast and skillful, even with a bad leg, I avoided his attack and stabbed him through the chest. Then I threw my dagger at Troy before he could shoot me again. Hit him in the arm, I think. He dropped the stone, we had been seeking, and ran out of the room. He was always a coward when he didn’t have an advantage. As he left, he started a fire, which spread through the house quickly. I grabbed the magic stone and managed to smash my way through the back door, but my arm was badly burnt.”

Vlad paused for a moment and cleared his thought. Lowenna found that she was completely taken in by the story. “And then what?” She asked.

“Rather than return. I made my way through the jungle. I was just trying to get away from the General and Troy but was captured by a native tribe. After a couple of moons, they released me, but they kept the stone and my sword. I didn’t really care. I just left, hoping my former colleagues wouldn’t be able to find the magic stone. Before I had even got out of the jungle, I could hear screams and when I turned back, it was like every tree was on fire. I ran back to the village and came face to face with Troy. I picked up a sword, from one of the dead tribesmen and we fought." Vlad coughed, remembering the little details and how the smoke had tasted.

"Then what?" Lowenna asked again, hoping Vlad would continue the story.

"Well, because of my leg and arm, I was a lot slower than usual. Troy cut my arm, then my back and disarmed me. I fell to my knees. Troy was about to kill me, but there was an explosion of magic. Troy looked straight at me, his face had been scarred and burned by the magic, and then he ran.”

Vlad closed his eyes for a moment, and swallowed hard, as he thought about that sun long ago. “I must have passed out, as the next thing I remember, I was on the edge of the jungle, lying face down in the mud. I went back to the village but found no sign of life, not even any dead bodies. I travelled for six moons before I arrived here, and as you can see my arm never fully recovered, and I have had the limp ever since. A constant reminder of the harm I helped to cause.”

Vlad smiled at Lowenna, “he knew I was here, came and found me, tried to kill me, but was chased out of town by the lawmen.”

“Lawmen?” Lowenna asked.

Vlad threw Lowenna a curious look, “They keep law and order in the towns, cities and settlements.”

“Of course they do,” Lowenna replied, trying not so sound like she had never heard of them.

“There aren’t many of them left in Penbirth, even less now I suppose. Most of Penbirth’s lawmen were killed a few harvests ago. Before the raid, as far as I was aware, there were only twelve full lawmen, and three trainees, out of the original thirty. All but two of the remaining lawmen were ordered to upper Penbirth, and the two gates were built. One to protect the Lords, and the privileged. The other, to defend the entire settlement.

The gate was to stop attacks. Those who broke the law, were kicked out, and not allowed back in. It was supposed to protect the people, but Troy and the others… They used the gate against us, killing most of the guards and trapping everyone inside.”

Lowenna nodded, she could see Vlad was feeling remorseful, like some of what happened was his fault. “You aren’t to blame,” Lowenna said, trying to make him feel a bit better.

“If I had stopped him when I had the chance…”

“Then someone else would have attacked. I think they were looking for something, deploying the same tactics and causing as much damage as possible, while finding what they were looking for.”

“The only problem with that theory is, Troy came here. He was the General's most trusted, so he should have been after, whatever they were looking for. And as far as I'm aware, you are the only thing, which might be worth anything to them here. But Troy didn’t know about you did he?”

“Maybe the general retrieved it himself, or maybe Troy wanted to kill you first,” Lowenna suggested.

“He had plenty of chances, to kill me. When I worked with him, he didn’t have such magic. Something else was going on, plus they wouldn’t have left without what they were after." Vlad paused for a moment. Lowenna could see his mind was racing, trying to think of an answer. "They took prisoners too; that’s a new tactic. You can’t travel as quickly when you have hostages. I just don’t understand what they were after, and if they got it, why take Eryn and the others?”

“I don’t like to say this, but maybe they're dead, just taken to put us off from what they were really after,” Lowenna replied after a short pause.

“I don't think so. Troy said he had to take Rique. Said she would be useful although I don’t know why. At the time I thought it was because Rique and her family are different, but they took other children and young adults, including my niece, Eryn.” Vlad shook his head slowly.

“Rique is different?” Lowenna asked, not understanding what Vlad was talking about.

“Her eyes, I’ve never seen such deep blue eyes.” Vlad explained, but a sombre look was now etched on his face.

“So what’s happening, with all the chairs?” Lowenna asked changing the subject. She was worried about Eryn too, but knew Vlad, didn’t want to talk about it anymore.

"There’s a meeting here later, to discuss the missing children and the safety of Penbirth. Everyone’s welcome.” Vlad looked around the room, “Hmm, I might need more chairs. I am glad you are well, but if you could excuse me, I have to finish setting this up.” Lowenna nodded at Vlad and left the room, leaving him to his work, thinking about what he had said.

This story is protected by International Copyright Law, by the author, all rights reserved. If found posted anywhere other than with this note attached, it has been posted without my permission.

Copyright © © 2015 by Robert Stevens All Rights Reserved

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