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The Summon of the Called – by Coral
Shalome quickened her stride down the dusty road, leaving the bustling village life behind. She glanced up at the the sky. The sun had already passed over the peaks, and the sky was beginning to fade from purplish orange to deep blueish gray. Hopping into a jog, she glanced into the forest’s growing shadows on either side. She was only halfway home, and her husband was likely already getting prepared to come out looking for her with their sweet little baby girl, even before dark. At the thought of her husband, she couldn’t help letting a smile creep onto her lips. Caydan was such a protector. He would do anything to keep her and their daughter safe and happy.
His reaction could not be predicted though. Everyday was different. She couldn’t help sigh. Yet, each day wasn’t really all that different from the one before or the one to come. Life continued each long, toiling day with only the shift of moods, occasional loss or gain of life, and little tragedies to define each one. It was the way it was, had been, and likely would be for centuries to come. Somewhere deep down, buried beneath reason, reality and good sense,she almost longed for, even desired, for something different and mysterious to happen to shake up their little, broken, mundane village. Glancing around slightly nervously, she shook her head and tried to push away the tears that had welled in her eyes. The last time that she had wished for her world to be shaken, life had taken her world, flipped it upside down, and left her heart beaten, broken, and bruised with wounds that still needed healing.
About fifteen minutes from the house and with the sky already painted with early night stars, she slowed her pace and tried her best to relax. The night air was cool and refreshing with only a slight chill, and a correlation of the night’s soft notes rang out from the shadows.
Suddenly, a low, disturbing moan startled her and interrupted the peaceful night lullaby. She nearly jumped out of her skin. A groan emitted from the shadows off the road. Her husband had taught her to tune her senses very keenly. The sound had come from behind a group of shrubs about six yards away. Another groan issued out. Obviously someone was hurt. Yet, how could she be sure? There was no doubt that she was’t imagining the noise, but there had been very cunning thieves wondering the lands lately. And what a prize a twenty year old young woman, alone, with no protection, would be. Since the king had gone back into the never ceasing war with the Sabrin, the robbers had thrived all over the land. In fact, it was said that the King controlled the war, and the thieves controlled his people. Another long moan of pain interrupted her thoughts. It tore at her heart. That couldn’t be fake. The sound of pain was much too strong to be false.
At least, she sure hoped so.
Slowly creeping toward the the sound, she held her breathe and pushed the overwhelming doubts out of her mind. Her heart beat erratically. She peaked around the shrubs and gasped. A middle aged man lay on the muddy ground, abandoned. He had a strong frame, unkempt dark hair, bloody and tattered clothing. Rushing to his side, she knelt and grasped his hand in hers, as he groaned again. He had a deep gash in his noble brow and two arrows stuck in his right side.
“Take… Take this… please,” he choked, obviously trying to keep his eyes trained on her face. Although he was fighting for his life, with the amount of blood loss, he only had minutes to live. He shook his head, as he coughed up blood. He released her grip and pulled something from a satchel at his side. His trembling hand reached up and pressed something into her own. She wanted to look down at the object, but she couldn’t take her gaze off the his wise, steady, suffering eyes. Though he did not speak it, his hard stare told her of the urgency in his dying words. “Take it… to the… the Called. Go to the mountain… to the old well in the stone circle… tomorrow night.” More blood gushed in a fit of coughs. Shaking her head, she wanted to speak. As if reading her hesitancy, he spoke desperately between chokes.
“Please… You must. Do it, girl… Just do it.”
“I will,” was all she could mutter, as tears began to stream down her cheeks.
He gasped, closed his eyes, and breathed his last. A peaceful smile still lay on his lips, almost as if he were sleeping. But she knew better, by the limp hand that still lay in hers, that he would never wake up. Wiping her eyes with the back of her sleeve, she stared down at object he had given her. A scroll tied with a dark ribbon and sealed with wax lay in her hands.
It looked as if she had gotten her secret wish once more, and yet again, it had ended with tragedy. Tears poured down her cheeks as memories flooded back. Standing to leave, she felt her hand trembling and glanced down. She was scared, but not scared enough to be trembling that much. Her hand turned from trembling to shaking to convulsing. Suddenly, it dawned on her. It wasn’t her hand that was shaking. It was the scroll. As the parchment shook uncontrollably faster and faster, the wax grew brighter and brighter from dark red to deep orange to golden yellow until it was blinding. Before she could react, the wax burst into an oblivion, and every limb in her body became paralyzed. Then, everything evaporated into thin air. Her body lifted, and she felt herself being vacuumed into the black abyss before her. Blackness surrounded her and consumed her mind. She knew nothing more.
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