Mar 09 2019

Daughters of Fate (Chapter 8)

Posted by Mathias in Daughter of Fate, Fantasy, Novels, Projects

Even in defeat, the nation of Hitithe lives on. Even in darkness, its light shines brightly.  Can you doubt the will of the Greater Goddess even  as her children fight on?  They await the day when The Storm will come to cleanse the world. 

-Cronicles of Marthi

Chapter 8 (36th of Elgatan 6198) 

The warmth of the fire melted the snow that had fallen earlier in the day. But it could not melt away the humiliation of failure.  As Anthony stood in the glowing firelight, he could still feel the stinging wounds left by the claw of sub-General Nightwing.  To hide his shame, he wore a thick patch of hide bound in place by a leather strap about his head.     

A voice shot at him from the other side of the flames.  “I can’t believe you disobeyed my orders!”  A tall man, nearly twice his age, paced.  “For three years we’ve been working on getting our people in The Palace.  Marcus and Erick were there for a reason!  We wanted to strike a decisive blow against Lord Hedric by assassinating as many of his military leaders as possible!  And you just endangered the lives of far too many people for my taste!  What do you have to say for yourself?”   

Anthony turned his vision up from the flames and onto the leader of the Hitithe Rebellion.  “Your tactics are far too passive to win this war,” he accused.   

“That is your opinion!”   

“No, Rwan.  It is the opinion of a lot of people who carry onward the name of Earoni.  It was my support that helped you win your current position.  Don’t forget that.”   

“You don’t know what’s at stake here!”   

“I know that we can’t let Hedric trample us like ants anymore.  Sooner or later, if we don’t start becoming more active and taking the fight to him, we’re all going to die off.  Sub-general Nightwing is our biggest threat.  She’s made it her mission to eliminate all members of the Hitithe Rebellion.”   

“You have a personal vendetta against this sub-general Nightwing!” Rwan shot back.  “Which is understandable considering that she killed your father, mother, and brother.  But that doesn’t give you the right to flagrantly disobey my orders!  You are either with us or you’re out the door.  Insubordination will not be tolerated.”  His words echoed and then fell into silence.   

Seeing Anthony was not about to continue this argument, Rwan angrily stomped off into the night.  

Anthony watched him. Just the mention of sub-general Nightwing’s name caused more pain than the wounds on his face.   

There was a light sound from the woods to his left.  Anthony turned to watch a young woman emerge from hiding behind a tree.  Her white robes caught themselves on a branch but she freed it before it tore.  She walked over to him, but he turned his eye from the woman and to the flames of the fire.   

“Anthony?” she questioned in a gentle voice.  It was the same gentle voice Anthony had grown to love over the years.  Her straight cinnamon colored hair came down to her waist and she stared at him.     

She did not seem bothered much by the cold. Anthony could feel the warmth from the silver pendant about her neck bearing the symbol of Earoni.  It was the same one as worn by all clerics of the Greater Goddess. Although there weren’t many these days.  

Legend had it, that they were the same as those worn by the very angels that watched over the heavens.   

She reached out to touch his wound, but Anthony kept her hand away from it.  “Daphney, no.”   

“Anthony, why won’t you let me heal your wounds?”  Her voice was dejected and hurt.  She reached out again to touch it.  But this time Anthony slapped her hand aside.   

“I said no!”  Anthony looked up and, seeing the pain in her face, apologized.  “I’m sorry.  Daphney, there are more important uses for your magic.  I don’t want the pain to go away.”   

“It’s not magic, Anthony.  It is Earoni’s will.”   

“You’re not strong enough to use your gifts on every minor scrape and scratch.  You know what happens when you use your powers too much.”   

“Anthony, minor injuries are simple enough. They really require very little of my strength.”   

“No.”   

“Anthony, why are you pushing me away?”  Daphney turned away, her hair flying about wildly.   

Anthony heard her as she started to cry.  “I – I’m sorry Daphney.  I’m going to leave.”  She turned about in surprise.  “Rwan and I just don’t see eye to eye.  I think this is the final straw for me.”   

Daphney dried her tears.  “Where will you go?  You can’t leave.  Anthony, I won’t let you go.”   

“This isn’t a decision for you to make. It’s time for me to go home.”   

“Then I’m coming with you.”  

“Don’t be silly.  If the Empire comes after me, you’d be in danger.”   

“Oh, I’m sorry,” Daphney whined sarcastically.  “Not like being associated with the rebellion isn’t dangerous!”   

“You know what I mean.”   

“No, I don’t know what you mean!”   

“I was thinking about going to Fimmirra first.  King Turon has been trying to get through to the elven kingdoms for years now since they went into seclusion and we just sit around and watch.  It’s time we try to reforge the alliance.  I think my knowledge may be of some help to him in as far as that.”  

“Please take me with you,” she begged again.   

Anthony forced himself to look away from her.  “I cannot.  I could never forgive myself if anything happened to you.  And the Empire will certainly come looking for the assassin that escaped the palace.”  He drew her close.  “You can’t go because you mean that much to me.”   

Daphney pushed away.  “Then go.”   

“Daphney, not like this-”   

“Like what then?  You just want to cast me aside.  I thought you actually meant it when you would say you loved me.  Now I can see that you love revenge more.”   

“Daphney I-” His words fell short.  Anthony turned away and began to leave her.  After taking a few steps, he turned back, “I’ll always love you, Daphney.  The miles and the days of separation can’t change that.  But the only way we stand a chance is for someone to take the initiative.”   

“The elves will only speak to the Child of the Storm, Anthony,” she reminded him without turning to look so he could not see the tears in her eyes.  “You are not the one they seek.  They’ll kill you.  Do you think that because some distant relative of yours had elven blood, that they won’t?”   

“The time is near, Daphney.  Don’t ask me how, but I know.  And I know that I have to go to Fimmirra.”  He reached out and touched her cheek.  “I won’t forget about Daphney, I promise.”    

Tearing away, she did not respond.  Instead, she simply stared off into the darkness away from the fire’s light.   

Anthony watched her for a second, wishing that he would not have to leave her like this.  Sighing, the young man turned and disappeared into the woods that sheltered the encampment from the eyes of the outside world.   

In the moments that followed the cold wind finally began to get to Daphney.  She shivered.  Bowing her head, she feared that this would be the last time she saw the man she had grown to love.  She feared that he was right.  She feared that darker days would come before Hitithe once again stood proud.   

“Earoni be with you Anthony,” she whispered into the darkness.  “Earoni be with you…” 

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