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Lowenna part 21 (Chapter 24 and 25)
By
rbo

Lowenna part 21 (Chapter 24 and 25)

The party has survived a powerful adversary, but paid a high price. What is next for Lowenna

Chapter 24 THE JOURNEY TO THE RIVER

After leaving the hills, the party had hit the flat and managed to pick up the pace. As the sun had rolled on, the weather had got steadily worse. The wind had picked up and showers had plagued their riding slowing their progress. The party had been riding for what seemed like an age, but for now, the rain had stopped and the party was riding hard.

Lowenna kept looking over and Rique and Ryna, both were being very quiet, but Lowenna didn’t really want to talk to either of them. The loss of the twins and the chat with Rique had affected her more than she would have liked. She also felt guilty that she had not enjoyed her time with Reath and had hardly talked to Vorn at all.

“River Nort is just around these hills,” Kia suddenly shouted.

Lowenna looked around it was later than she had thought, and it was starting to get dark. The party had not eaten or even stopped for a toilet break since they first started riding after the pass. As she thought this, she realised how hungry she was, and how badly she needed to pee.

“Whoa,” Kia suddenly shouted and jumped off his horse. Lowenna and the others all pulled up, and Grilk dismounted his warg, wincing in pain as he did. “Is that blood?” he asked, upon seeing a large red mass on the ground.

Kia touched the red earth and shift, “It is, and I’d say it’s less than two sun old.”

“Is it one of the people we are trying to rescue?” Ryna asked which Lowenna had also been thinking.

“No way to tell, no body,” Grilk answered, but a lot quieter than normal.

Marchel pulled up alongside, “nothing we can do for whoever it was.” He said before resuming the ride down the track. Grilk remounted his warg, but Kia wasn’t ready to go. He suddenly pointed to a field to the side of the track.

Kia vaulted over the wall, Lowenna, Ryna and Rique all dismounted and followed him, but Kia put his hand up to stop them, “Rique, Ryna do not come any closer.” Both Rique and Ryna stopped, but Lowenna kept going until she could see what Kia didn’t want his children to see. The body of a headless young man was lying in a pool of blood, just dumped in the long grass. “This was Samuel,” Kia whispered to Lowenna. “He was a young lad with dreams. He wanted to be an artist and work in the higher district of Penbirth.” Kia cursed, “What have we got ourselves into?” he asked Lowenna, feeling worried about his kids.

Lowenna was silent for a few moments, before answering. “I don’t know, the raid, the deaths, all of it has to stop. We have to rescue the others and all of us have to get back, We aren’t losing anyone else agreed?”

“Agreed,” Kia stated, but for the first time Lowenna could here doubt in his voice and his kind smile was no longer on his face.

“Let’s go, the others are getting too far ahead.” Lowenna and Kia walked back to where Rique and Ryna were.

“What’s over there?” Rique asked

“”Nothing important,” Kia replied with a smile, “we are on the right track.”

Dumar could not believe his eyes. All of them were dead. Benwa was the most powerful of Zarkar’s remaining men and now he was missing and all of the other men sent with him lay lifeless on the ground.

Dumar looked again at the pile of burnt bones, was this Benwa? He hadn’t done a head count but had only found two boys bodies, other than Zarkar’s men. A cold shudder ran through his body as he realised the charred bones were all that was left of Benwa. Beside them was his whip, cut and damaged, but definitely his.

"How did this happen?" He asked himself. He had only spotted six horses and a large beast. These were obviously elite warriors. No simple soldier or guard should have been a match for Benwa, but then Dumar thought, “no one should have been a match for Troy either.”

Someone would have to tell Zarkar what had happened. HE would have to tell Zarkar! This thought was not a pleasant one. Zarkar had killed one of the captives for no real reason and had killed two of his own men when he had heard the news that they were being followed and the fact Troy was dead. Would he take the news about Benwa any better? Don’t kill the messenger, didn’t really work with Zarkar. Plus the fact that these elite, magic-wielding, super soldiers, who had killed ten of Zarkar’s finest men, were gaining on them.

He wasn’t going to tell Zarkar. Dumar valued his life too much he would order someone to tell him, someone expendable. Dumar had one final look around, and vanished, leaving no sign he had ever been there.

Kia was the first to see the river, and it wasn’t exactly a spectacular view. The landscape was barren and dusty, with just a few hills of in the distance and some reeds by the river. The earth had a strange yellowish colour and the river its self, was more like a muddy stream.

There was something else that had caught Kia's eyes. There was some sort of staff standing up right in the middle of the track. “Rique, Ryna stay here! ” Kia shouted as he raced down the track to the river. Marchel and Lowenna followed, unable to see what had got Kia so incensed, but as they got closer, Lowenna realised it wasn’t a staff. It was a spear with a head mounted on it! The three of them stopped side by side looking at the head. “Samuel,” Kia said rather quietly.

Marchel dismounted his horse and removed his hood and mask. His long pale grey hair flowed down his back, and his wrinkled old face surprised Lowenna. He looked older than the old man who Lowenna had not wanted to come on this journey, in fact, she thought he was the oldest man she had ever seen and he looked extremely angry. Marchel grabbed the spear and removed it from the ground, throwing it into a pile of long reads. “When we catch up with these bastards, I am going to kill them all!” He stated aggressively.

“That was not our mission,” Lowenna said, trying to remind Marchel of what he had said to her earlier.

“I don’t care!” Marchel shouted with anger and frustration. “I might not trust you Lowenna,” he turned his head to look at Kia, “or you Maven, but from what I have seen you both have honour. These raiders do not! And they have crossed a line you do not cross.”

“I have my own children to think about!" Kia said looking straight at Marchel, "And am here to save as many of the captives as possible. The moon time rescue makes a lot of sense to me. Get into their camp, free the children and get out no casualties on our side.”

“You coward,” Marchel shouted looking right into Kia’s eyes.

“I am no coward,” Kia replied, taking offence to Marchel’s statement.

“Yes, you are! You want to run away and save your own pathetic family, rather than stop this Zarkar and his men. You hid in Penbirth for how many seasons. Your own children had to talk you into coming on this quest, and if it weren't for the Lowenna, you would have already left or even be dead.”

Kia did not take his eyes off Marchel. “Some of what you said may be true, but I’m not going anywhere. Nor am I going to throwing my life, or my children’s lives, away for you.”

Lowenna stepped between them, as she was convinced they were about to come to blows. “We save the hostages, that's the most important part. If we run into this Zarkar, we kill him. He was in charge of the raid. But we don’t put ourselves in unnecessary danger and everyone here makes it back home.” She turned and looked straight at Marchel, “Everyone!” Marchel did not reply, nor had he taken his eyes off Kia. “Kia go and get the others. We make camp here for this moon. If we leave at sunrise, how long before we catch them?” Lowenna asked trying to keep the peace between them.

Kia turned his head a little to face Lowenna but didn’t take his eyes off Marchel, “We will make the canyon of the crescent moon before sundown. They could be already there, but I reckon they won't arrive there till the new sun. We will catch them if they stop at the canyon.”

“What if we kept riding through the moon?” Marchel asked.

“We would catch them sooner. If they have stopped we would properly catch them before sunrise, but the horses need a rest, and we may have to make a quick retreat.”

“Hmm,” Marchel replied glaring at Kia. “Coward!” He repeated before he turned and launched himself across the river.

“Marchel we have to stay together,” Lowenna shouted after him, but he did not turn back. He stood there looking over the desolate plain in the dying light.

“Let the idiot go!” Kia shouted so Marchel could hear. “They're well ahead of us, and the old fool will probably get lost, or if he does find them he will get himself killed alone.”

Marchel did not move. Kia was right, but he would not admit that to him. He cursed quietly to himself. He didn’t normally get this emotional, but he would be damned if he went after the raiders alone and got himself killed. He turned and started to walk back. He was an old fool, but he had survived this long. One more sun before he met this Zarkar. That would be the end of one of them, of that Marchel was sure.

The others had started a fire before Marchel re-joined them, but he kept his distance, sitting on a rock and sharpening his sword. Rique and Kia had Lowenna’s book and was starting to translate it. Lowenna believed this was mainly to distract Rique from what happened. Ryna was polishing his and his father's bow, readying them for tomorrow, and Grilk had removed his armour and was already asleep. The wound in his chest looked nasty and infected, Lowenna walked over to him, as he snored. Grilk distrusted magic, but that wasn’t going to stop her. Lowenna stroked her crystal and placed her hand on his wound, the magic pulsing through him, healing him and taking away the pain. Grilk smiled in his sleep and rolled onto his side breaking the contact between him and Lowenna, but the wound already looked a lot better. "He will be fine now," Lowenna thought, before lying down herself and closing her eyes.

Chapter 25 STORMY SEAS

There was a loud noise, like thunder, that woke Lowenna. The sun was just starting to rise and there were even some singing birds, chirping away. She saw Marchel was a little way down the track in front of her, and there was no one else around. Lowenna started making her way towards him, but when he turned around to look at her, Lowenna could tell it wasn’t him. This lawman was much younger.

The Lawman removed his face guard and helmet and Lowenna looked into his eyes. She hadn’t realised how handsome he was when she was approaching him.

He walked up to her, sliding his hand up Lowenna’s face into her hair. He hadn’t said a word but she felt like she knew this man. His touch excited her, his lips touched hers as passion started to spark between them. Lowenna started unbuttoning his shirt, as the kiss became more passionate. He lifted her up, his hand sliding down her body, as her clothes melted off her. She closed her eyes enjoying his touch and when she opened her eyes again, they were both naked. The warm feel of skin on skin as they kissed again. Lowenna noticed a large black tattoo on his torso and a scar over where his heart would have been. He lowered her down onto the ground. Lowenna moaned softly, as he kissed her neck, her hands running down his muscular frame. She arched her back and closed her eyes as he kissed her neck again and again. Just little kisses slowly heading down towards her breasts, his hands slowly caressing her naked body and she gasped in pleasure opening her eyes.

A rumble of thunder and a flash of lightning illuminated the room as Lowenna opened her eyes. She looked around desperately looking for the man she had just been kissing before realising she was alone and in dream-scape. She hit her hand against the floor. She had wanted that vision to continue. The touch of the lawman was all she could think about and she really hoped that was part of her future and not her past.

Lowenna looked around the room again. There were no lamps or candles, just a glow from the single window. She punched the floor again, it was made of wood, but this time the whole room seemed to move. She tried to stand up, but nothing was stable. She was on a ship.

She staggered over to the door at the end of the room and went through it, into a poorly lit corridor. The only things she could see was an empty bottle rolling along the ground and a damaged handrail.

Lowenna looked down at herself, but she didn’t recognise what she was wearing. "At least I’m not naked," she said quietly with a smile. She was wearing a simple white hooded robe, tied at the waist and simple sandals on her feet. Her crystal was hanging loosely around her neck, which she tucked into the robe before starting down the hallway.

The whole ship suddenly listed to the left, and Lowenna had to grab a rail on the wall else she would have fallen. She made her way along the poorly lit corridor until she came to some stairs leading upwards.

There was a door at the top, which was swinging open in the wind, and the rain and sea spray was gushing in at every opportunity.

She paused before starting up the slippery wooden steps, still thinking about the lawman, who had kissed her. His touch had excited her, and this was the first dream-scape, which she was looking forward to if it came true. The lawman had been extremely attractive, and Lowenna had wanted him as much as he had wanted her.

The thoughts of the lawman faded from her mind when suddenly the ship rose up and crashed back down. The rain and salty seawater, poured in through the door, drenching Lowenna. It was cold and a very sobering moment, as she held onto the rail to stop herself being washed back to the bottom of the stairs. She pulled herself up the steps fighting the wind and rain as she climbed onto the deck.

Lowenna pulled herself along in the driving rain. It was almost too much for her. She looked up at a higher level and gave out a gasp of surprise, as she saw the man in the church, from her first vision. “Ricardo,” she whispered. It was definitely him, she pulled herself along to some more steps, going up to the same level. She could see that he wasn’t alone. Ricardo looked very impressive, standing in red robes, shouting orders as the ship passed through the storm, the rain and wind, not bothering him in the slightest.

“Hold down that rigging,” Ricardo shouted, “starboard turn, into the waves” he suddenly thrust his hand into the air. A magical light started raining down illumining everything. Lowenna noticed the young girl from the church was holding onto his leg with all of her might. “Don’t be afraid, I won’t let anything hurt you.” He said to her trying to reassure the little girl, but another flash and crash of lightning and thunder made her grip even more tightly.

Another tall older man joined Ricardo. He was dressed very similar to Ricardo and Lowenna, except his robe was dark green and a small white bag hung around his shoulder. “We need it now!” He shouted as a wave splashed onto the deck making the boat lean and the timbers groan under the strain of the storm. Lowenna held the railing even tighter, she was getting soaked and could taste the salt in her mouth from the spray of the sea.

“Agreed,” Ricardo shouted back to the man in green.

The man in the green robe walked to the middle of the ship and grabbed something from his bag. Sparks suddenly started shooting from his hand and his eyes glowed bright gold. He thrust his hands out to the side, as magical energy flowed from them. A bubble formed around the ship, protecting it from the storm. The man then slowly lowered his arms and the ship started to rise out of the sea's mighty grasp.

“How long can you keep this up,” Ricardo shouted to him.

“As long as I have to,” the man in the green robe replied, “but please, get us out of this storm quickly.” Lightning suddenly struck the bubble, it held but the man winced in pain and dropped to one knee before re-standing. “And stop that bloody lightning,” he joked.

Ricardo smiled too, “Lower the sails, wind bearer’s, water weavers, get us out of here,” he commanded.

The sails were lowered and a man or a woman stood beneath each one, they were wearing the same simple robes that Lowenna was wearing but some in different colours. All the people pushed their hands up in the air and suddenly they were moving really fast. If Lowenna had not been holding on to the rail, she would have fallen overboard.

“Can I help?” the young girl asked Ricardo now sounding a little excited.

“Just hold onto me. You are more important than any water weaver, or wind bearer J...” suddenly there was another crash of thunder and lightning struck the bubble again. This time, the bubble vanished and the ship fell back into the sea's rage. One of the masts snapped due to the storm. Everyone scattered, as the part of the mast crashed down on the deck. Another part was heading for Ricardo and the young girl. Ricardo thrust his hand out the mast stopped moving. He threw his hand to the side the broken mast also flew away, as if it was just a little stick, crashing into the sea.

The man in the green Robe reactivated the bubble. There was a little blood running from his nose. “Sorry my lord, princess. I will make it stronger this time.”

“We will.” Ricardo shouted as he raised his hand into the air, the bubble suddenly flashed and shone with different colours reflecting inwards. Lightning struck the bubble again, but this time it held both men were standing strong and showing no sign of strain. The other Lowenna all raised their hands in the air again. The ship started to move quickly, and after a little time, they were out of the storm.

The older man looked tired, “May I be excused Lord Ricardo,” he asked

“Of course Varlo, you saved the ship, go rest,” Ricardo replied. “All of you who helped rest and recuperate and…" Ricardo was looking at Lowenna. His eyes open wide, she hadn’t considered anyone would see her before she woke up. Ricardo thrust his hand at her, like he had the piece of the mast, “Be gone dream!” He shouted, and suddenly Lowenna was flying off the ship.

The water was cold as she hit it. The magic was forcing her down deep under the surface. Lowenna swam upwards eventually breaking the water to breathe fresh air again, but something had her leg, trying to drag her down. She reached down, to find out what and ensnared her, but she was pulled back under the water. Her head went under, as she was dragged down again. She couldn't free her leg, something had her. She watched the surface of the water, fade from her site and darkness surrounded her. She needed to breath!

Images of people flashed in front of her eyes: A crying Rique. Vorn and Reath laughing, swinging swords above their heads. Grilk eating her dinner in Vlad's, A man with glowing tattoos and a black cape, a beautiful woman with dark hair and her guard in gold armour, the lawman who kissed her and three other lawmen standing behind him, the King and Ricardo from her first vision, a little girl with one ribbon in her hair laughing. Lowenna couldn't hold her breath any longer, as the images faded into the darkness.

Lowenna sat up gasping for breath, it was still dark and everyone was asleep except Kia who was on the lookout. “You all right?” he asked quietly. Lowenna wasn't sure, the dreams had been very vivid, and she had swallowed a lot of saltwater, which she could still taste.

Lowenna closed her eyes remembering what happened in the dream. She couldn't help think that young girl on the ship was her, and she admitted to herself that she would have rather of stayed on the ship than wake up. Once she had seen Ricardo and the little girl, nothing else has seemed important. Even the lawman that had been kissing her had gone to the back of her mind. Lowenna wanted to know what had happened to the little girl and the other Lowenna. If she was that little girl, the only thing she knew for sure was she has survived. "Are you all right? Kia asked again, a little more concern was noticeable in his voice.

“Yes,” Lowenna replied, after a pause. “Would you like me to take over the watch? You look like you could use some sleep.”

“Mavens need less sleep than other races, but you are right I am a little tired. Wake me,” he looked at the dwindling fire and placed a log on it, “Wake me when that log has burnt out.” Lowenna nodded and sat on the rock that Kia had been sitting on while he lay down on the ground and closed his eyes.

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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