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Lowenna part 18 (Chapter 21)
By
rbo

Lowenna part 18 (Chapter 21)

Lowenna has survived a Demon-god and the raid, but what does fate have in store for her next.

Chapter 21 MAVENS

It was just getting dark when Kia shouted it was time to leave. Marchel had questioned riding after sundown as the trail would be harder to spot and he had been complaining about it since Kai had said that's what they should do.

Lowenna wanted to trust Kia but did think Marchel had a point, as the clouds were circling and it was probably going to be a dark cold moon time, with at least a bit of rain.

Lowenna was reattaching her arm guard, which Grilk had returned with the edge rounded off while Kia tried to convince Marchel it was a good time to ride

“We tie the horses together and I will lead. I can see as well in the dark as the light.” Kia said while giving Marchel a painful look. He didn’t really want to divulge this information but did want to catch up to the raiders, and the horses were ready to go.

“You’re a Maven?!?” Marchel asked with a surprised tone while placing his hand on his sword's hilt. “I thought they were extinct.” Marchel then looked at Lowenna, and his eyes narrowed slightly. "I thought you were extinct as well Lowenna, no one has heard of one of you in a long time, but Mavens.” He turned his head to look at Kia once more, “Even the name is spoken only in legends and old stories.

The only race ever noted that could see in the dark, and you live longer than normal men. Short, agile, Naturally skilled with swords and bows, and that is about all I know about your race. I suppose I could add they were conquered by the Lowenna and formed part of their army before the dark legion attempted to wipe them out. I have hunted a Lowenna before but never actually seen one till she turned up, but I've never even heard of a Maven living in modern time.”

Grilk then joined the conversation “Mavens were sneaky. Orcs war with them. Wiped most out after Lowenna fell.” Grilk turned his head and looked at Ryna and Rique, “You Maven too?”

Kia cleared his throat, to bring all the attention back to him. Lowenna was trying not to smile but couldn’t help it. It felt good not being the only survivor of an ancient race, although even in the failing light, she could see Kia felt uncomfortable. “I am part Maven and have obviously passed that onto my children. My father was also part Maven, and my mother was human. I can see in the dark, and age slower than humans.” He paused before looking at Marchel, “I have seen one hundred and four harvests in my life, making me the second oldest on this quest, isn’t that right Marchel.”

Marchel said nothing, but Grilk on the other hand, had more questions, “We friends, why you no tell me?” He said sounding a little hurt.

“I was trying to fit in, and since my wife was killed I didn’t want any extra attention. As everyone here has seen, different races are not the most welcome or trusted. I am a foot shorter than the average man, as is my son, although my daughter is taller than I am. She must get her height from her mother," Kia replied trying to add a little humour.

There was a short pause before Kia continued.

"There are very few stories known to non-Mavens. The Lowenna did conquer my ancestors, and they did form part of the Lowenna army. But when the Lowenna capital city and palace fell to the dark legion, some of my people rose up and fought against their former masters. The Lowenna had lost most of their magic and most of their best warriors, but he dark Legion was merciless and killed thousands of Lowenna and Mavens. Most of the surviving Mavens were then wiped out by what was left of the Lowenna for trying to betray them. What was left headed south on the mainland, but settled in orc territory, this started the war between our people Grilk. Only a few of the Maven survived the short war, and they scattered and went into hiding, like the surviving Lowenna. My father came to this land with me as an infant, but I can’t stay in the same place for too long, as I don’t seem to age and people eventually notice. They believing I’ve made a pact with a demon, or that I use life-sustaining magic, but the simple fact is me and my family have no home and the only difference between me and any other man, is I age slower and have exceptional vision.” Kia tilted his head and again looked at Marchel, “And I’m the best natural bowman you will probably ever meet.”

Marchel released his sword but didn’t take his eyes of Kia, “If you try anything Maven or try to flee, I will hunt you down and kill you!” Lowenna remembered Marchel had used the same threat on her but kept very quiet.

No one moved or said anything for a few moments. Vorn was staring at Rique while she was just looking down at her feet. Grilk broke the silence, “We go then, save children, friend Kia lead.”

A smile appeared on Kia's face, “Thank you Grilk,” he said, and with that, the group readied themselves for a long ride. Rique and Ryna tied the horses together in a long line before Kia mounted the front horse. The warg did not like anyone except Grilk and had snarled and snapped at Ryna when he had approached it, so Grilk had wrapped a rope around himself and tied it to Vorn's horse instead. Lowenna took the last horse in the line, with Ryna and Rique just in front of her. Vorn and Reath were next with Grilk off to the side and Marchel rode right behind Kia, watching him intently while holding onto his sword. Lowenna had wondered when Marchel had been behind her had he been ready to attack and now she could see that he had been.

It was dark and cloudy when they set off and there were no visible moons or stars. Lowenna was thinking about Mavens and the Lowenna. Wondering if she really was connected to that lineage. Suddenly she had an uneasy feeling like she was being watched. She had this feeling before, in the alleyways of Penbirth, so she looked around and back towards the bridge. It was too dark for Lowenna to see, so she tapped her crystal with the ends of her fingers. The pink light spread over the land, giving her a picture of everything around with a pink outline, just like when she had approached Penbirth.

There, on the bridge, was that a person? There was definitely movement. Lowenna quickly looked back to the others, “Rique,” she said quietly

“Yes, Lowenna.” Rique replied also trying to be quiet.

“Can you still see the river?”

Rique and Ryna both turned their heads “I can see the Bridge,” Ryna replied

“Can you see anyone?” Lowenna asked as she also turned her head to look again.

“No,” Ryna said, sounding a little confused.

“Sorry Lowenna, there's no one there,” Rique added.

There was nothing moving, no sign of anyone that Lowenna could now see. “I thought I saw someone, but obviously I didn't. Sorry, I disturbed you.”

There was a moment of quiet, before Rique asked, “What do you mean saw? Only my father, brother and I should be able to see the bridge from this far away.”

Lowenna didn't reply right away. She had a choice, to lie, or give another of her little secrets away. “I have a magic, which gives me the ability to see in the dark.” Lowenna said quietly so only Rique and Ryna could here, as she didn't want Marchel to know this. “It probably is not as good as your vision. I just thought I saw something move, but I must have imagined it. I am a little tired.”

“Me to” Rique replied. “I can sleep while riding, hope you can as well. Just twist the straps around your legs so you don’t fall off,” Lowenna nodded twisted the straps around her legs and closed her eyes.

There was a sudden noise, which made Lowenna wake with a start. Grabbing her dagger, she readied herself for a fight, but she was alone, or at least she could see no one. The rope that tied the horses together had disappeared or somehow had untied its self. Lowenna was about to touch her crystal to activate the seeing spell again, when she noticed a yellow glow from a fire, not too far ahead. As she approached it, she also thought she could hear singing. It was hard to make out the words, but it was defiantly there. A female voice sang a familiar tune, which Lowenna recognised, although she did not know from when or where.

Lowenna dismounted her horse deciding to approach on foot. When she reached the steep bank, she could see two dead body’s lying by the fire at the bottom. One had a sword sticking out of his chest, and the other had been hit by two arrows and was face down on the floor. She descended down the bank quickly, drawing her dagger, readying herself for anything.

Suddenly a skinny bald man appeared in front of her. Lowenna realised she had seen him before, in the dream at Vlad’s, before the raid. Lowenna took a fighting stance, looking straight at him. “That won’t do you any good,” the man said and then Vanished into thin air, just a wisp of smoke remained from where he had been. Lowenna spun around and there he was, at the top of the bank.

“What do you want?” Lowenna shouted at the man, but he vanished again laughing.

A woman now walked into Lowenna’s field of vision, not making a sound until she spoke. “I’m sorry this happened to you.” She was very beautiful, wearing a plain white dress, and had gold bands with gems around her wrists. Her voice sounded familiar, was it her who Lowenna had heard singing?

“Who are you?” Lowenna asked lowering her dagger, “am I dreaming again?”

“Yes and no," the woman replied. "You are asleep, but what happens here is almost as real as out there. You are accessing your past, present and future, although as you have proved, the future you see can be changed, but not every time.” There was a short pause before she continued, “I am from your past, from your memories and from your future.”

The woman suddenly fell down to one knee, her white dress now showing blood seeping from where her heart would be. “I haven’t long,” she grimaced in pain, putting one hand over the wound and offering the other to Lowenna. She opened her hand and Lowenna saw the pink crystal the one Lowenna wore around her neck. Lowenna touched where it should have been. “Take it, it’s bonded by blood and magic to you,” Lowenna took the crystal, as the woman lowered her head.

“Do you know who I am?” Lowenna asked. “How do I know you?” But the woman didn’t answer, or even move. “Please tell me!” Lowenna felt herself welling up. A tear run down her cheek and she dropped to her knees. She tried to touch the woman, to help her, but Lowenna’s hand just passed through her, like she was a ghost.

Suddenly Lowenna got a feeling something was watching her. She wasn’t alone, and she jumped up, wiping her eyes and turned on the spot determined to defend not only herself but also the dying woman behind her. She held her dagger pointing towards the darkness, waiting and watching for any sign of movement but suddenly something grabbed her leg.

It was some sort of material. It wrapped around her tightly and lifted her off her feet. More straps grabbed her other leg and her arm and one around her neck. All were squeezing and pulling in different directions. Lowenna was still holding the crystal in her hand, she jab it into one of the straps on her arm and the strap shrivelled away. Then she jabbed the crystal into the other strands of living darkness, which had wrapped around her legs and neck and she fell to the floor hard but was back on her feet quickly.

The shortfall had taken her back to Penbirth. It was still dark, but Lowenna could now see the streets clearly. The wind had picked up and there was a touch of rain in the air. The woman in white was nowhere to been seen.

The old lady from Penbirth market was walking towards Lowenna. She was holding the white crystal she had given her before the meeting. “You need this,” she said as she stopped and held out her hand. Lowenna took the crystal and put it in her bag. “No you need now, you do.” The old lady stated, sounding cross.

Lowenna removed the crystal from her bag and looked at it. It was an unusual but slightly familiar shape. Her pink crystal gave a soft glow as if telling her what to do, and Lowenna touched the two crystals together. There was a flash of white and when Lowenna reopened her eyes she noticed her bracelet with the Lowenna crest on her arm. It seemed also to be glowing and the hole where a stone should be was a similar shape to the stone in her hand.

Lowenna removed the bracelet and placed the white crystal in the hole. A second flash of white light filled the air, making Lowenna close her eyes again and when she opened them the bracelet was back on her arm. She touched the milky coloured stone and beams of white light shot out of it, forming some sort of magical shield. It only covered from her elbow to the end of her fingers but weighed nothing.

The old woman had disappeared, but Lowenna didn't care. She was looking at her new shield, the intricate beams of light, which formed a beautiful glowing lattice in an almost hypnotic design.

Lowenna looked around, she hadn't noticed that Penbirth had disappeared and she could now see nothing beyond the glow of her new magical shield. “Hello,” Lowenna called out, “is anyone there?” But no answer came. There was no obvious choice of direction to head in, and her horse was nowhere to be seen. Lowenna tapped her pink crystal. The pink light flowed over everything, leaving an outline that only she could see, but there wasn’t much. A few rocks lay off in one direction, and that was all she could see. She took a couple of steps, heading towards the rocks, and the sun started to rise, showing Lowenna the desolate sandy plain she was now standing in.

She was surrounded by sand, the air was cool but dry and there was very little wind, Lowenna had no memory of this place nor did it feel familiar. Was it in her future?

Walking in a hot rising sun, with no water, was not fun. It felt like Lowenna had been walking for ages and with every step, the temperature seemed to increase. She was so thirsty and she could feel her skin burning, even though the sun wasn't at its peak yet. Lowenna knew she wouldn't last too long in these conditions, but what else could she do except keep going.

Lowenna finally reached the rocks, which had taken longer to reach than she would have liked, and was hoping that there would be something new to see, but apart from a steep high dune there was nothing.

The dune was not easy to climb. The sand was soft and hot and kept giving way. Lowenna was starting to get desperate. If she didn't find shelter soon, she knew she could die out here under the blazing sun. She now knew what happened to her in dream-scape was almost real, so if she died out here, in this dream, would she die for real?

On the second attempt, she made it to the top. She had nearly given up when she had slipped on her first attempt, as she had ended up face down in the sand, but now she had made it to the top and she could see something else, something important.

Lowenna was on the edge of a steep embankment. At the bottom was an ancient temple. Lowenna could just make out the weathered embossed symbol of the shield and dragon head on the wall. Lowenna started to descend down the steep slope. Partly to find out why she had been brought to this Lowenna temple, and partly hoping for some shade from the sun, but the sand was again slipping beneath her feet and there was nothing to grab hold of. Lowenna slipped and fell, sand flying all around her. When she stopped tumbling she sat up, shaking the sand from her hair, and tried to spit the sand from her mouth, as the temple slowly faded from her vision.

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

Copyright © © 2015 by Robert Stevens All Rights Reserved

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