Updated: Nov 26, 2018
The air was crisp and clear. Sandriel loved the smell of the lavender fields near their home. She would run hand in hand with her sister, laughing in the afternoon sun. This was their favorite time of day. The chores were all done, Lauriel having just finished hanging the laundry and Sandriel having gathered the vegetables for dinner from their garden. She knew they should head home, but she thought Papa wouldn't mind having dinner a bit late. It was such a beautiful day. Sandriel looked to her sister and her smile faded, “What is wrong Laurie?" Lauriel pointed to the crimson sky streaked with orange, waved her hand and gestured over her heart and stomach. Sandriel nodded and said, "I know, but we can play for a few more minutes." She grabbed a handful of lavender, stripping it from the stem before throwing it in the air, showering her sister in their fragrant scent. Once again, more urgently this time, Lauriel gestured home. Sandriel sighed and said, "You're right. Let's go home, Papa will be waiting."
Holding hands the girls walked toward their tiny cottage and Sandriel noticed the light fading, the night approaching surprisingly quick. Behind her, the sun still showed, tracing its way to sunset, but in front of them was an eery darkness. The absence of light was odd. She knew the day hadn't set yet, but suddenly she felt a chill. Looking in all directions she noticed the dark shroud only surrounding their home. Instinctively, Sandriel placed a hand across her sisters chest to stop her and a finger to her lips to gesture silence. Slowly they approached, watching for twigs and leaves, careful not to make a sound along the path to the cottage. The temperature seemed to drop with every step and for a moment time seemed to stand still. Unfortunately, the moment that was frozen in her mind was just after she opened the door. The puddle of blood that held her motionless father, the creeping silence, the last inhale of breath before her father's last words, "Sandriel, search for Nilrem, he will protect you." Stifling a scream and sitting upright Sandriel awoke from the horrible dream drenched in sweat.
Shaking in panic, Sandriel listened for the noise that awakened her, confused to why she didn't recognize her surroundings. Looking to her right she saw her sister still sleeping, her lightly snoring form nestled against a tree trunk. Where are we? she thought. She realized they had hastily made camp inside a wayward pine. Sandriel tensed as movement outside the tree drew her attention. Slowly, she moved closer to the mossy opening of the tree while rummaging in her satchel. She listened carefully and smelled the air, there was definitely something outside. Grabbing the closest weapon she could find, she gathered her courage and stepped outside with a rock. She gripped the jagged stone that barely fit in her tiny hand. Heart pounding, she looked around slowly for any trace of movement. Suddenly from her right something stirred and instinctually she threw the rock from her palm. She missed. Out of the brush, a small doe emerged and Sandriel sighed with relief. The tension in her body finally leaving her. The doe, scared as well, leaped across Sandriel's path and away to safety. "My gods, you scared me." Walking around their camp, she checked for more intruders before returning inside to look in the satchel. She huffed. "Where is it? Where? I'm so tired. I have to be more careful, Papa trusted me to keep Lauriel safe. She is all I have." Finally, she found what she'd been searching for, a thin piece of wire. "What are the words…Oh, the spell book!" She pulled the leather-bound journal from her bag and flipped to a worn page written neatly in her mothers hand. Sandriel wiped a tear trailing down her cheek, "There is no time for that. I have to be strong for both of us." She flipped a couple more pages, and with the wire in her hand, she crept back into the entry of the wayward pine. Then she drew a door in the air, gesturing as if she were locking it. Speaking the words, "Mrala efas." Sandriel heard a tiny ringing in her ear, then silence.
Sandriel took a deep breath and exhaled before taking a seat near her sister. She began emptying her satchel to take stock of what they'd been able to grab and what was already in their fathers bag. Besides the blanket she'd covered her sister with she removed from the satchel a flint and steel, a half full waterskin, a coin purse with 8 gold, 3 silver and 7 copper, a small mess kit, and a sheathed, dull utility knife with an ornate handle. She thought to herself, I should have grabbed that instead of a rock. Shaking her head she continued and removed a half-worn candle, some short wires, chalk, some trail rations and dried fruit, as well as the fresh beans and tomatoes she'd picked from their garden earlier. "How are the tomatoes not crushed and how does all of this fit in such a small bag?" she asked herself. Next Sandriel pulled out a small compass, 6 vials of some kind of thick, murky liquid, each a different color, an old wand made of obsidian wood, a pair of worn gloves that looked to be barely stitched together, 3 grey, marble-like stones that stayed cool to the touch, a sling with 10 bullets and a cloak. Sandriel whispered, "The next town. We can find help in the next town." Softly she wept as she thought to herself, Are we even going in the right direction? Papa always lead us. How will I know I'm not leading us astray? No, there is no time for that kind of thinking. I will keep us safe. We will find Nilrem. Someone in the next town will be able to point us in the right direction. We will sleep tonight and keep traveling tomorrow. We have food, we have water and we have each other. Exhausted, she moved to lie next to her sister, hugging her tightly before falling fast asleep.
The ringing in her ear jolted her awake. An intruder. Sandriel looked over to her sister but Lauriel was already awake and clutching her necklace. "Did you see anything?" she asked quietly to Lauriel. Shaking her head no, Lauriel continued to hold onto her necklace and placed one hand in her sisters. "Stay here, I will make sure its ok." Again shaking her head no, Lauriel held tighter to her sister's hand. "Ok, then come with me. We can't stay here if there is danger." Sandriel gathered their things quietly, trying not to make a sound. Shielding her sister, Sandriel made her way to the opening of the tree and peered outside. She wasn't sure when she'd fallen asleep or how long she'd slept but the beginning rays of the morning sun were just beginning to break through the treetops. "At least we made it to morning," she muttered. Holding Lauriel's hand, she inched out of the tree looking left and right for any movement. Content with a moment of safety the girls emerged. One step. Two steps. Turning to her sister, Sandriel smiled saying, "I think we are ok," just as a net fell, encasing the girls. "Well look what we have here," billowed a deep, resonate voice.