An Unfortunate Adventure! #freewritemadness: Day Fifteen

#freewritemadness Day Fifteen! The official half-way mark!

Today was a struggle. Word-wise and life-wise. 🙂 That’ll happen! I have no rambles in me today.

The prompt word for today was – sweating.

My wordcount for today is – 1485
My overall wordcount is – 28780

 


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DAY FIFTEEN

“Miss Katéa,” Nessie sighed. “You need to wear it.”

That fucking elf was nuts. Even after the attack —an attack that was likely caused by the bloody necklace itself— she still wanted her to wear the blasted thing… and to go outside while wearing it. Why the hell not? Let’s call the beast down to them once more!

“You want me to go back out there? With it on? After what just happened? You’re mad.”

“You have no choice!” The elf flung her arms up into the air, her emerald eyes transforming into rubies once more. She was no longer the sweet and gentle creature Katéa had come to know, but was now a demanding woman whose demands were all that mattered. It was her way or no way, and she knew that face all too well; hell, she had worn that stubborn face herself many a time. Nessie spun about and stalked away, and shoved past Draven as he entered the parlour. “Only three days remain til this cycle’s optimal alignment. Speak sense into the girl!” she snapped.

“Draven!” Katéa leapt up from the rocking chair and into his arms. “I was so worried-” his coat was ripped with a huge chunk torn from the back, almost as if a large hand with sharp claws had grabbed at him. One of those gargoyles. “What happened —are you okay?”

He raised an eyebrow and offered his dimple-summoning half-smile as he took an exaggerated glance around the parlour. “Of course I’m okay. If I wasn’t… well, Father would not have been able to hold the barrier for much longer by himself.” Nessie’s corri-door slammed and his smirk widened, as though amused by the elf’s anger. “She seems feisty. Just what sense am I supposed to be speaking?”

“There’s no sense about it!” she extricated herself from his arms and pulled the necklace from her pocket. Its silver sheen seemed to hold a light of its own as it met that of the candles, and she winced as the black orb stared back at her, almost gloating. “She wants me to go out there while wearing this. She wants me to siphon Serenithyl’s energy, whatever the fuck that means.” The fireplace was right in front of them —perhaps she could throw it in there just as she had her phone. She stayed her arm. “She handed it to me out there and then, within seconds, we were attacked. Serenithyl didn’t wait for night; the fucking bird created its own night!”

Draven looked at the necklace and furrowed his brow.

“It seems different.”

“She said that she cleansed and restored it.”

He shrugged. “She knows what she’s doing. Serenithyl is regaining her abilities, and little Nessie is right; that energy needs to be siphoned soon. She believes that task to be yours and I trust her judgement. And it’s not as though you’ll be alone —she’ll need to accompany you.”

“You’re both impossible! How can you be so calm right now?”

His hands settled upon her shoulders and she fought against impulse as his thumbs lightly traced her collarbone. Peering down, his gaze softened as he stated, “Because I have to be.” He drew her in close, his whisper warm against her ear. “It’s faint, but you’re gaining a second aura. Best lighten these dark days before you’re unable and we all suffer, including those yet to draw breath.”

Taking the necklace from her trembling hand, he clasped it about her neck and held her tight for a long moment. She did not feel the cool silver touch her skin, and was unaware of it as it gained warmth. What was he talking about? Her heart beat faster, her pulse soaring along her veins. “A-a second aura?” she moistened her lips and shook her head. “Can I ever take this thing off or am I cursed to wear it forever?”

“Miss Katéa,” Nessie reappeared, her eyes downcast. “I apologise for my anger…”

The elf’s words faded into the background. Katéa stared at Draven, watching as his lips moved. They were both talking but she could not hear them. The necklace was becoming noticeably warmer, spreading its heat throughout her body. She shivered —that couldn’t be good. Her sight swayed and Draven caught her as she fell, concern glimmering within his eye.

A canopy of white leaves intertwined with pastel vines appeared overhead, replacing the wooden beams of the ceiling. Draven’s arms were around her, holding her in place, and yet, she was swinging through the branches alongside three elves, all with flowing golden manes the same as Nessie boasted, and the necklace was fixed to her neck as she moved with an agility and grace unknown. Fear was their motivator. Loud wings beat high above, unable to be seen through the thick foliage; Serenithyl was near, but they were safe —for now. They were heading for the mountains and she had the most important of assignments. All of their lives depended on it… on her. She would not fail them.

“Katéa?”

Draven’s voice broke through, but only for a moment. The mountains were ahead, but the forest edge was near. They would be vulnerable whilst Serenithyl flew. An elf —Ceth’na— touched her arm and silently motioned to the ground. From the talons of a great bird to the webs of an ancient spider… they would take the old underground passages. Pray Azothinne yet slept.

“Katéa!”

Draven came into focus. She shivered. What the hell had just happened —and why was she sweating so much? “Azothinne must slumber,” she muttered. “The Council cannot risk another.”

Nessie’s eyes widened. Hurrying to Katéa’s side, she quickly tried to unclasp the necklace, “Memories must be embedded within… it would not be wise to allow them power over you. Perhaps you should wear it when we reach Serenithyl’s cavern, instead.”

The necklace would not come free.

Katéa swallowed, her voice shaking as she asked, “This will keep happening?”

“Aye, miss Katéa. Until the imitation orb fulfils its purpose.” Worry spread across the elf’s face and her emerald eyes shone with unshed tears. “My restoration failed. A thousand apologies!”

Draven helped her upright. “Come, I will not have you fall and injure yourself.” Or our child.

She narrowed her eyes —did he say that out loud or did she think it?

“Katéa?” Blast it all. Why did I place that thing about her neck? Should’ve waited for the damned elf.

His thoughts were as clear as though they had been spoken. She reached for his hand, gently entwining her fingers about his. “You were just trying to help.”

Ugh. It was so uncomfortably hot! Sweat dripped down her back, coursing along the curves of her body, making her boohoo dress stick to her skin beneath Draven’s thick coat. Her eyes were heavy. Sleep would be so wonderful right now. He picked her up —warm hands picked her up and carried her inside— she smiled, draping her arms about his neck. When she had passed out on the cottage steps, it was Draven who had found her. He was the one who carried her inside, gently placing her before the fireplace. Of course; who else would have bothered?

The coat came off, allowing fresh air embrace her skin. The bed was soft beneath her body… that was quick. It seemed only a moment ago they were in the parlour. Draven was beside her; her eyes were closed but his presence was there, his warmth, his fingertips caressing her face. Her languid arm pulled him closer and she nestled into his body.

I’m not leaving you alone.

“Good,” she murmured.

His fingertips paused, then travelled along her jawline to beneath her chin, lightly lifting her face. Lips parted; the softest of kisses, then a hushed whisper. “Are you hearing my thoughts?”

“You’re not leaving me alone.”

“Damn right.”

His arms tightened about her, holding her close to his chest. Purest love beat within. She was safe.

White tree-tops transformed into a dark tunnel, blanketed by thick spiderwebs, woven so tight they were near impenetrable. Sharp blades sliced through with ease. They would fulfil their purpose. The heavy beat of Serenithyl’s wings were gone. As clever as she was, she was too large to fit down here, but she had to know. The bird would fly to another entrance and await their arrival. The orb around her neck weighed heavy, yet she ignored it; thirty lives went into the making of this imitation, and they would not be squandered.

Torches were placed as they passed through the dark passageways, each one lit with an ethereal flame. They would not get lost down here… could not. There wasn’t enough time! The optimal alignment was nearing —the stars and moon would not reach such equilibrium for another three cycles— by that time, the humans would have murdered them all. They needed Serenithyl’s essence. Now.


(An Unfortunate Adventure header made by me! Courtesy of an image from Pixabay, and images from Vidar Nordli-Mathisen, Johny Goerend, Alan Labisch, Erol Ahmed on Unsplash!)