|I do believe in fairies, I do, I do!|
A Tamora Pierce Fan Fic that i have started to write! Its about Kalasin of Conte and Kaddar.
The land of Tortall and most of the characters featured in this fan fic are owned by Tamora Pierce, and Tamora Pierce only.
Chapter 4: The Shadow of Death
“A crow may put on human shape or crow shape, but we remain crows,” he replied firmly. “Hawks, too, are the same, whether they are born in human nests or hawk ones. The nestlings must always be protected. Since you have chosen to protect these, I and mine will protect you.”
― Tamora Pierce, Trickster's Choice
Once again I am mentally kicking myself for my big mouth; Roald knew how I would react, he was playing me! I had almost forgotten what he was like, what we were like…it had been so long.
Instead of being confined to the castle grounds I was now locked inside my rooms, with actual guards at my door! They were treating me like a criminal! I suppose I should be grateful I’m not in the dungeons…maybe that would have prevented me from doing what I have planned for tonight! Until then alas I must wait, patiently, sprawled on my bed, watching the sun slip from the sky.
It’s amazing how slow time can go by when you’re doing nothing. Mother suggested I do needlework, or paint, or even practice footwork to bide the time, but I don’t see the point. I’d much prefer to be out in the sun, knocking arrows, watching tumblers, seeing friends, and stealing pasties, flying through alleyways, running from spying brothers… But no, I’m locked away behind walls, with people watching my every move.
I just want to be free…
My face is suddenly shrouded in shadow as the sun disappears behind the foreboding silhouette of the Palace Walls. By the time I'm ready, the city would also be enveloped in darkness, and the fun would have begun!
I start by binding my breasts with linen, for this time I do not intend to get caught. I don loose beige slacks that are commonly worn by the coves of Corus, and shrug on a worn, hunter green shirt. A rope belt holds the slacks up and the shirt down and a dusty brown jacket keeps me warm. This time I take no chances with my hair, and firmly braid then pin it, in a coil, to my scalp. A cap similar to the one I lost today fits snugly on my head and hides any allusions to my feminine identity. I gaze into the mirror, silently wishing that this was the real me; not the boy staring back, but the freedom and adventures that came with him.
“Well this is unexpected…!”
By the Goddess?! I turn around, grab the closest thing to me, and lash out with all my strength.
Strong hands block my blow and take hold of my makeshift weapon. Using my own weight and force against me my assailant pulls me crashing into an obviously male chest.
“A book? Seriously? That’s all you got?” murmured the voice, muffled through my cap. “Personally, I would have grabbed something more solid and deadly.”
“Hey, it was a split second instinct” I mumble, and then the voice registers in my mind. “Nate?”
I look up and a smile spreads across his face. “Miss me?”
“No” I say but the blush creeping up my cheeks says different. I'm thankful for the darkness of the night, and my complexion.
“So…what are you doing?” the curiosity in his voice is evident.
“Sneaking out” I say matter-of-factly. “What are you doing?”
“Seeing if you wanna…wait what? You’re sneaking out?”
“You can’t stop me!” I yell defiantly. Even though he is twice my size and has the strength of his trade behind him, I have guards posted just outside my door.
Goddess, the guards! They were bound to be barging through my door any second now, demanding to know what was going on and why I was shouting. Without a second glance I grab Nate’s hand and pull him towards the balcony. I fling myself over the railing and reach up to pull Nate down with me, but he’s not there. Instead I catch him giving the guards a cheeky salute before running and vaulting himself over my head. I gasp and wait for the sickening crunch of a broken bone or worse but am thoroughly surprised when he performs a neat tuck and roll and follows through to land squarely on both feet. I quickly scale the ivy I cling to, not confident enough to even attempt to copy my daring accomplice and fall the four metres to my death.
My feet have barely touched the ground, but I find myself being ushered into the shadows as a guard appears over the railing’s edge. He turns to speak to his companions and we take our chance and run, using the night sky to our advantage. It is not until we stop to catch our breaths that I realise where he has taken me. A horse nickers and pops it’s head over a stable door in greeting and I gently rub her nose. Nate whistles an unfamiliar tune and Stefan, the groom, clambers down from the stable loft. I smile and he returns the affection; I treat my mare well and look after her myself, he respects that.
Without a word he nods to Nate and walks into one of the empty pens, holding the door open for us to pass through. He bends down and searches for something hidden beneath the hay. Gripping hold of the handle he unveils a hidden trap door and Nate moves to step down into its gloomy depths. I hesitate, but Nate takes hold of my hand and I suddenly am filled with the confidence I require. I descend into the opening and darkness envelopes me as the door above is shut. Panic overwhelms me as I struggle to see Nate or even the hands in front of my face. I hear somebody whimper and realise with shock that it is me. I reprimand myself, I am stronger than this! But warm hands grip my shoulders and I find comfort at last, I lean back into his strong embrace and we stay like that for what seems an age. Too soon he pulls away and reaches for my hand instead, leading me through the darkness to whatever lays in wait beyond.
Oh how I had missed this! How I had missed these people! King’s Reach could never compare with the Dancing Dove, the Rogue or his court. I swear there was nothing else like it anywhere in Tortall; or in fact the world! It was refreshing to say the least, the Rogue sat with his men, drank, ate and talked with them is casual conversation. I myself was well known by him, and him by me; the adventures and battles he had experienced were amazing, and by one so young! His predecessor George Cooper would rest easy knowing the great Tylor Haze was in control.
I turn back to Nate and give him a warm smile, without him, I doubt I would have made it here tonight. He brightens and takes my hand in his, I give him a questioning look as he opens his mouth to say something, but before he can get any words out, the door bursts open and a man stumbles through.
“Can anyone help me? Please!”
“Hold ye ‘orses now” says Haze, “why don’t ye tell us ye problem?”
“There is no time! I need a healer now! She will not make it if we do not leave at once!”
For the first time I notice his cultured accent, words and clothes. He must truly be desperate to come to the Court of the Rogue for help; mayhap he was unaware of where he was and believed it to be a regular inn. Nate turns to me and I know what he is going to say.
“Kalis…” he begins.
“No Nate.” I interrupt. “You know what happened last time…why I won’t…why I ‘can’t…“ I sigh.
“That was five years ago Kali! You don’t know what will happen now! You’re older, more experienced…and besides, this is a human being; a person. Not a wolf.”
“But Nate!” I cry, “that is exactly it! Don’t you see? This is a real life person, and she needs help, help that I'm not prepared to give, because that is it, she’s not a wolf, she’s a human girl!” I take a mental note to apologise to Daine, the wild mage, about that statement. The wolves are her friends; she had of course lived with a pack of them for years when she was young.
“Kali” he sighs and looks directly into my eyes, “It’s Luce.”
Luce? By the Goddess I can hardly believe it’s her, lying there, unmoving before me. All colour is gone from her cheeks and her skin is a sickly pallor, clammy to the touch. Just by looking at her anyone could tell she had not long left.
“Please” whispered the Duke “is my daughter going to be ok?”
I look into his eyes and I know I have to try. The Duke loves Luce with all his heart; she is his only daughter, his world; and I cannot be the one to take her from him.
“I’ll try” I tell him, for it is the only thing I can do. Try.
I hold one of Luce’s hands and seat myself cross legged on the floor beside her bed; who knows how long this is going to take, I’ve had enough bad experiences of collapsing after using my gift to know the closer I am to the ground the better.
I close my eyes and relax, delving deeper and deeper inside myself until I find the glowing blue core that is my gift. I delicately tug on one strand and withdraw it from the pool; I then coax it towards Luce and let it flow up my arm and through my fingers into hers. Adjusting my sight I can see it slowly envelope her whole body in rippling Conté blue light. In my mind’s eye I picture it seeping through every pore, every fibre of her being until the evil that is inside her is pinpointed and the sickness that has been leaking from that point is eradicated.
Now I know where the culprit lays I tug another blue stand from my core and twist it as I pull it further out of my body. I pull it sharply to make sure it is strong and sturdy and then, using it as a kind of anchor, leave my body and dive straight into her chest. Here is the problem; dark tendrils of decay reach out for handholds as they look for something to infect. The heart itself is badly damaged and the delayed, shuddering beats are instantly worrying. I have no clue what to do here, this is far beyond what I have been taught. Father would know what to do…or maybe Alanna, his Champion…but me? This was someone’s life, Luce’s life, and I was nowhere near qualified enough to save her.
As soon as the seeds of doubt set in I know I am lost. I start to hyperventilate and I can feel my consciousness start to slip away as my vision blurs and the pounding begins to drum in the back of my head. I have to get back to my body and fast, before I lose the strength and the will to even try. Suddenly I notice everything is quiet, Luce’s heart has stopped beating; I grasp my lifeline and attempt to escape as her body completely shuts down, threatening to drag me along with it. A figure appears before me, beckoning, one hand outstretched, clothed in a cloak of every colour known to man and not, shimmering and changing with each slight movement. I shake my head furiously and tears start to cloud my vision as I know Death has come to claim me.
But I don’t want to go! I scream, it’s not my time! You’ve come here for Luce not me! Death cocks its head to one side and then walks towards me. As I accept my fate and bow my head a cool presence presses its lips to my forehead and vanishes. All of a sudden a feel drowsy and can barely keep my eyes open. I embrace the warmth and darkness overtakes me.