Make your own free website on Tripod.com

Avalon

Home

Avalon Publication(June 2002) | The Quest For Truth and Hope Part 2 | Avalon Publication (April 2002) | The Quest For Truth and Hope Part 1 | Birthday Surprises By Constance De'Beir | Avalon Publication (December 2001) | Nothing | Pay Back Time | Avalon Publication(August 2001) | NOD | Violated | Constance's Wonderland | The War | Avalon Timeline | Avalon's First Anniversary | Avalon Publication(June 2001) | Avalon Timeline | The Crimson Sun | Darkness of the Queen | From Two Different Worlds | Free Day | Atropa Belladonna | Imladra | Metre-Mia | What Avalon looks like (people and places) | Diamond | Avalon Castle (Haven's Light) | Authors Wanted | Arripool | Menkosu Sr. | An Unexpected Friend | Gods and Goddesses of the Realm | Mia | Harmony | Harmony | Nadara | Adon Chac | Shanea | Elisa | Dormin | Serenity | Celeste | Devon | Neptina | Ciela | Terdon | Lyndra | Arion | Amros | Amorsa | Coroban | Alora | Avalon Publication July 2000 | Avalon Publication (September 2000) | Avalon Publication (Feburary 2001) | Avalon Publication(April 2001) | Sun and Moon-Night and Day | Life's Lessons | How The Seasons Came To Be | Adon Chac-part 2 | How the North Got its Just Desserts | Faye Bluewater | Rain Seduction-Two Shells | Chapter 4-Goldflame | The Journey Begins | The Newcomer | In the Beginning | Underworld | Not Again | Goldflame-Chapter 3 | In The Beginning | Goldflame Chapter 2 | Not Again | Meetings | A Father's Story | Adon Chac | A Beginning | On the Road | Goldflame | Altheia Summers | Village Bonfire Night | Friends and Foes | A New Beginning | First Love | Cast of Characters | NOD | Veyseili | Grai Star | Want To Join? | Jayne HawThorn | Susanna Silverbreeze | Altheia Summers | Constance De'Beir | Tenar Goldflame | Contact Me | Archives | Avalon Publication:Feburary 2002 | Stephanie's Song | December 2000
Village Bonfire Night

Susanna Silverglade

Village Bonfire Night
Susanna waved goodbye to Sebastian and Dania as they rode off towards the village. She wished they could have stayed for bonfire night, but they had to be with their mother. She sighed, and turned to Aran. "Well, are you going to stay here for bonfire night?"
With a shrug, Aran said, "Fine with me!"
Susanna grinned. They walked into Susanna's house, and sat down. While they talked, Susanna thought about life. It was a year since she had fallen off the cliff and been attacked by strange demonic wolves. She was now 19. Surprisingly, she hadn't seen the Stranger since that time when he had tried to outwit Sebastian, Susanna, and Dania and had failed.
After a few hours, she looked at the clock. She smiled. 9 o'clock. She glanced out at the village. They had obviously started their bonfire party. A huge bonfire had been lit there. She smiled, and told Aran about it.
"Well, we can have our own bonfire..."
Grinning, both of them went outside into the cool night air. Susanna thought about a spell she had been practising, and Aran wandered over towards the open ground. Aran walked in a circle, clapped his hands and shouted a phrase. The ground inside the circle burst into hot orange flames. The circle glowed orange, and then disappeared with a flash. Susanna cupped her hands, and put a tiny bit of her Gift in her hands. She split it into lots of spikes, and then put each of them in the ground. Aran did some too. They walked back a little way. With a click of the fingers, all of the spikes shot into the sky, exploding into silver and orange sparks with a large explosion. Susanna smiled at Aran. Aran smiled back. Susanna saw something in his eyes, but it was gone, and Aran turned away to look at the village. Confused, and sure she had seen something important, Susanna looked that way too. She thought of the village, tempted for a moment to go and join their party; she decided against it.
She shivered from the cold. Aran, seeing this, gently moved her nearer the bonfire where it was a bit warmer. They spread their cloaks on the ground, and stared into the fire. Susanna blinked, seeing a red dot. She looked closer, but it wasn't there.
"What is it?" asked Aran.
"Oh, nothing. Nothing much."
She looked at Aran, to find him staring at her. Finding this slightly uncomfortable, she looked at the ground. Then she looked up at the pale moon. Aran glanced up at it.
For some reason, Susanna stayed cold. No matter how close to the fire she was, she couldn't b warm. Something, somewhere, was wrong. The back of her neck prickled, and she glanced into the darkness behind her. Seeing nothing, she looked at the fire again.
"Do you get the feeling that we are being watched?" She asked Aran.
Aran started. He had been gazing in her direction, but he had clearly been thinking about something else. He looked around. "Err, no. Sorry, but I can't feel anything."
Susanna sighed. She shivered again. Seeing this, Aran picked up his cloak and wrapped it around her. She felt warmer, but only a fraction. She glanced at the fire again. With a large bang, the fire turned blood - red. She screamed from the shock. Aran quickly put an arm around her shoulders to calm her down. She could feel that he was also quite scared. The fire showed a picture. It showed a village. They looked harder, staring into the fire; they ignored the scorching heat, or rather, the lack of it. She saw a fireball erupt from the shadowy tree nearest to the road. At once the village was alight. It burned with a brightness that blinded Susanna temporarily. People ran screaming from their homes, and were rounded up by dark clad warriors. A leader slowly rode around the burning village. He too was wearing dark clothes, but also was wearing a bronze helmet with a red plume that ran down the top of his back. Susanna shivered. She couldn't see his eyes, hands or face.
With a flash, the fire went out. Silver moonlight bathed them both. Aran realised that Susanna was shivering violently. He muttered a spell and warmth spread through Susanna's bones. Her shivering stopped. They realised at the same time that Susanna was sheltering from the fire in the curve of Aran's arm. Aran jumped away as if he had been electrocuted. Susanna looked curiously at Aran. Again she felt as if she had missed something.
Suddenly she realised what the vision in the fire meant. She forced Aran to look at her.
"Aran, the village in the fire; Emelan!"
"Emelan?"
"The village on the road above the cliff top. Where Sebastian and Dania are!"
"Oh Goddess!" He shouted, and jumped up. Susanna followed close behind as he ran in the house. They picked up their swords and wrapped their cloaks around them, pinning them in place. Aran took his golden shield and his golden helmet, and ran out to his horse. Susanna had already mounted her new horse. They turned their horses towards the path to the village, and set off at a gallop.
They arrived at the entrance to the village and dismounted. The fire was still raging fiercely, and it grew even hotter when Aran approached it. The flames seemed to be attracted towards him. He swept his hands down towards the ground and the flames shrunk; most of the flames went out, but a few stayed behind.
They strode into the village, and looked around. Everywhere there were the ruins of buildings. Susanna searched the village with her Gift, but Dania, her mum and Sebastian were not there. No one else was, for that matter.
While she was looking around with her magic, Aran found something. He called her over.
"Look at these tracks." He said.
Susanna peered at them. They were horseshoe shaped, but there was something odd about them. Then she realised what it was. They had a symbol in them. It was very faint, but it looked like a dragon holding a spear in its left paw. She stepped back, puzzled.
"Haven' I seen that somewhere before?"
"I am sure I have, but I can't remember exactly who the crest belongs to."
Susanna paused, thinking. She turned to Aran. "Look, we have to find them. Sebastian, Dania, their mum, and all of the villagers have gone with these soldiers."
Aran shrugged, and got back onto his horse. Susanna, seeing what he was going to do, did the same. They rode back to their own house to get supplies, and some sleep.
The next morning Susanna woke up with the sun. She quickly got things ready, and was all packed when Aran walked in, carrying a pack. Susanna put on her light blue cloak, and fastened it with a silver pin. She ate her breakfast and went with Aran to the horses. They rode to the village to pick up the tracks.
Susanna spotted them first. She pointed them out to Aran, and then left him to search for clues of the identity of this person while she went to Sebastian and Dania's house. She searched through the ruins, and found that most of the house was unburned. She found three cloaks; one was green, one was black and one was yellow. Then she found and took some arrows, a dagger, a few bowstrings and Dania's bow. She then had a last quick look round the empty house. Glancing underneath a chair, she saw a shield. It had a dragon holding a spear in its paw on it. Sebastian's shield! She picked it up, and found his sword next to it. She took them.
When she got back outside, she found Aran waiting for her. She quickly tried to pack some of the things in her saddlebags, but the bow, sword, and shield wouldn't fit. Aran took the sword and shield and put them in his own emptier saddlebags. She would just have to carry the bow.
They rode along the road out of Emelan, stopping now and again to check the tracks were still there. When it was about midday they stopped to have something to eat. Susanna ate her food hungrily. She was starving, as she had never ridden for so long before. Aran seemed not very hungry, and was puzzling about who the strange crest in the horseshoes belonged to. They were about to get up, when another figure rode up.
Susanna studied her carefully. She had long brown hair and had dark brown almond-shaped eyes. She dismounted from her chestnut horse and sat down with them.
"Hi." She said. "I'm Lucinda." She gave a dazzling white-toothed smile and went on. "I saw what Emelan looked like, and then I saw you two following these tracks. Did you know someone who lived in the village?"
Aran was very willing to tell her. "We are looking for two friends and their mum. Why? Have you lost someone?"
Lucinda nodded. "My sisters. All the rest of my family are dead, and so my sisters are the only family that I have got left."
"Do you want to ride with us?"
"That's what I was hoping you'd ask. It's lonely riding on your own." She gave another of her sparkling smiles, and then stood up. Aran jumped to his feet, followed by a reluctant Susanna. They mounted their horses and rode off, following the tracks.
While they were riding Lucinda told them about herself. They found out many things about their new friend, like she was 18. Susanna really liked Lucinda, but she was annoyed with Aran...she didn't know why. She forced herself to think of something else. They must be near to Corus, the capital of Tyra.
Aran dismounted for the hundredth time to check on the tracks.
"They go into the woods here."
They rode along a faint path through the dark woods. Slowly a scene emerged. The forest stopped here, so they could see Corus' walls standing there in all of their shining white glory. Sentries were patrolling the tops of the walls, and lots of archers were also there, loosing arrows at the monsters that were attacking them. The monsters were strange beings. They were called Stormwings. They had human heads and torsos, yet they had sharp fangs that stuck out just over their bottom lips. Their steel feathers shone in the sunlight, and sharp steel claws, as long as Susanna's hand, glinted as they slashed and scratched.
Susanna turned, and shouted to her friends, pointing into the sky. Lucinda and Aran turned in time to see a group of about six Stormwings fly over their heads. They ducked just in time, feeling the wind from their dangerous wings. Susanna muttered a spell, and a silver mist rose from her cupped hands. A Stormwing flew into it, screamed, and became shiny silver bones. The skeleton dropped to the ground. Lucinda pulled a short axe from her belt, and tackled a Stormwing that was nearby. Aran threw a fireball at a Stormwing, but it missed as the Stormwing dived at Susanna's back. Aran shouted a warning to Susanna, but she didn't hear it.
As she drew her sword to fight off a worryingly close Stormwing, white hot pain raked up her back, and then moved up the back of her neck, and across to her forehead. She ignored the pain, and raised her sword as the Stormwing that had her blood on its claws flew over her head. She jumped out of the way as the Stormwing fell to the ground, its head split open. She just avoided the flailing wings of the dying Stormwing.
With a blood-curdling war cry, Lucinda killed the Stormwing she was duelling with, and turned her attention to the others. Seeing Susanna wounded and trying to fight, she ran over.
"Want me to help?"
Susanna shrugged, and winced from the pain. "Yes please. I'm not sure how long I can last for."
Lucinda grinned. A Stormwing fell from where Aran had caught it with a jet of flame. The other Stormwings backed off.
"You humans!" cried one Stormwing, who was wearing a jet crown and had black hair and equally black eyes, "I will not forget you three! You belong to Zahneth Bitterclaws now!" What was left of the flock laughed, and flew away with their queen towards the fighting on the walls. Susanna moved into the shelter of the trees. Aran came to her.
"You're hurt..."
"I know that!" snapped Susanna. Then she stopped herself, and smiled. "Sorry."
Aran grinned, but he looked concerned. He looked at her back, and saw the shallow gash across her back. He began to say something when...
"How are you?" shouted Lucinda, running towards them. Aran stopped, and looked at Lucinda. She ran up to Susanna. "What did they do?" Then to Aran, "We must stop the bleeding a bit. Can you do healing magic?"
Aran shook his head. "No, I can't." Lucinda walked a little way away, and sat down under the tree thinking. "But I wish I could." He added sadly. Lucinda didn't hear, but Susanna did. She smiled. Aran didn't see the smile, as he had wandered over to Lucinda. Susanna walked over to them to hear what they were discussing.
"...could take her to the castle in Corus. She needs looking to." Lucinda was saying.
"Umm...well..." Aran glanced at Susanna, and nodded. "That's the best idea we have." Sighing, he stood up. "Well?" He asked Susanna. "Is that okay with you?" Susanna nodded, looking slightly worried.
"It isn't that bad, is it?" she asked.
"No, of course not." Replied Lucinda, with a smile. "It's just that we don't want it to get infected or anything. You never know, we might be able to stay the night there..." she glanced at the sun. It was very low in the sky, and the sky was slightly pink.
They approached the gates of Corus. It took them about 5 minutes to argue with the guard behind the gate that they weren't evil monsters or shape-shifting enemies. Another man behind the gate shouted to the guard to let them in and to stop giving them such a hard time, and they were let in. Susanna was immediately taken to the healers. Aran wanted to go with her, but he and Lucinda were ushered another way by a guard. He looked annoyed at this, but didn't have any choice in the matter.
Once the healer had done with her, Susanna was taken to a small room where she could sleep. It was quite dark by then, and she needed a candle to light up the room. She felt tired and gave the most gigantic yawn. She was glad her injuries were healing. There was a knock at the door.
"Come in."
Aran walked into the room, carrying a tray. He put it down on a small table under the window.
"How are you?"
"Much better thanks. Where did you go? One minute you were there, and the next you weren't."
"We were taken to meet the King," he said. Susanna gasped. The King? Why him?
"He wanted to know about why we were here and lots of other things like that. Boring stuff. We told him about the village and the kidnappers, and he seemed to want to think about that, so we left. See...nothing interesting." He grinned.
Susanna smiled. "Okay." She yawned again.
"Sorry. I am keeping you up."
"It's okay. I am not too tired." With that she gave another large yawn. Aran grinned. "Yes you are!"
"So what?"
Aran sighed, and walked to the door. "Get some sleep." With another smile, he closed the door. Susanna ate a little from the tray, but soon was so tired that she fell asleep as she rested her head on the pillow.
Susanna stirred. She opened one eye, and immediately shut it again. It was too bright. She opened her eyes and squinted at her room. Confused thoughts swamped her. Where was she? What was she doing there? Why did her back and neck ache?
Slowly she remembered everything. Yawning, she got out of bed and got dressed. She splashed her face with some cold water. That woke her up! Feeling wide-awake, she opened the door, and went to find some breakfast.
A few hours later they were back riding through the forest. The tracks were slowly spreading out. At that moment Lucinda raised their hand, and stopped. She dismounted, and the other two followed suit.
"What is it?" Aran asked.
Lucinda put a finger to her lips, and then whispered to them that she could hear signs of people. Lucinda and Susanna crept silently through the trees, leaving Aran to look after the horses. They dropped to the ground when they saw a low earthen wall. They peered over it.
The camp was huge. There were many tents behind the wall, and hundreds of men. They were all clad in dark clothing, and were talking, drinking, and sharpening their weapons. Susanna started as another man came striding out of a tent. He was the same man that kidnapped all of the inhabitants of the village and was carrying a flag. She pointed him out to Lucinda. Lucinda nodded, and then saw the flag. Her eyes narrowed.
After they had looked at the camp for a few minutes, they crept back to Aran and the horses. Susanna quickly told Aran what they had seen. Lucinda sat under a tree and thought.
At last Lucinda stood up and walked over to them. She whispered to them that the flag she had seen was the flag of a neighbouring country called Galla.
"Anything that another country is involved in that involves soldiers should be told to the king. So one of us must go as a messenger. I can ride fastest of us, so I think that I should go. Any other suggestions?"
Aran and Susanna shook their heads.
"Right. See you sometime." Lucinda whispered, and mounted her horse. She rode off through the trees, leaving Aran and Susanna wondering what to do in her absence.
"Let's wait till this evening, and then look for the village people. That okay with you?" asked Susanna.
Aran smiled, and nodded.

The evening came quicker than she expected. Leaving their horses hidden by large bushes, they went around to the other side of the camp. They saw a large fence on this side, and there was only one sentry. Obviously they didn't expect to be attacked from this side. Susanna could see why; the forest was too thick to get an army through it. She grinned. 'But we're no army." She thought, grinning. When the sentry had moved away from where they were, they looked over the fence. They saw the people who lived in the village tied up in the far corner. Aran pointed out Dania and Sebastian. Sebastian saw them, and his eyes widened. Susanna quickly put a finger to her lips. Sebastian glanced at the sentry, and nodded. Susanna grinned, and ducked as the sentry cast his eyes over where they had been. Slowly they wriggled back to the horses, untied them, and brought them into the thicker part of the forest, a bit further from the camp. They were less likely to be caught by any patrols if they were here. Susanna went to sleep, while Aran kept watch. They couldn't have a fire, as it would be seen, so she wrapped herself in the blankets she had brought with her, and was thankful for them.
The morning light woke her up with a start. She sat up and looked at Aran. She grinned. He had fallen asleep leaning on a tree stump. Quietly se walked over to her pack and took some food out. She sat there munching it. Aran stirred, and woke up. He looked shocked that the sun had dared to rise while he was 'keeping watch'. He sighed.
"Sorry. Guess I wasn't good at keeping watch."
Susanna grinned again. "Well, doesn't matter too much."
"I only closed my eyes for a second. I didn't mean to go to sleep..."
"Of course. Whatever you say, Aran!"
He glared at her. "Stop being so annoying. It's the morning, for Goddess' sake!"
Susanna laughed quietly. "I know. I'm not that stupid!"
Aran smiled, and stood up to get some food from the bags. "I didn't suggest you were."
They tried to think of a plan. Aran was all in favour of waiting until Lucinda arrived with help, but Susanna pointed out that the villagers would probably be used as hostages. Aran sighed.
"So. You are suggesting that we wade into the midst of that army to rescue the villagers."
"I'm not!" replied Susanna, "What I think we should do is just pick off the sentry, and free the villagers. We can escape into this part of the forest, because this forest is too thick for an army to get through."
Aran thought about this plan. "Right. Okay. I can't think of anything better. Let's do it!"
It was evening again. Two dark shapes emerged from the forest. They were in dark cloaks. Aran saw the sentry pacing the top of the low earthen wall in front of the fence. Quietly he took a dagger from his belt. He held the blade loosely in the palm of his hand. When the sentry was in the right place, Aran threw it. The sentry crumpled to the ground silently, dropping his spear and shield.
They quickly ran over the wall, and climbed over the fence. The villagers were asleep; it was getting quite late. Susanna found Sebastian. He was half asleep, so she shook him awake.
"Hmm?"
Susanna put her hand over his mouth, and then whispered in his ear to stay very quiet. Only when Sebastian nodded did she remove her hand. She cut him loose, and then started cutting the other villagers loose. Dania came over.
"Where is a weapon?" she whispered.
"We have them with our horses. But for the moment could you tell all of the villagers what is going on, and to be quiet?"
"Sure" came the reply.
Susanna ushered the villagers that were free over the fence and into the forest. She took them to the place where she and Aran were staying. She told them to be quiet, and then went back for more. At last all of the villagers had been freed. Susanna looked back at the dead sentry, and walked over to him. She took his spear, helmet, armour, cloak and shield, and removed the dagger from his throat. Dumping all those things with Aran, she went back and pulled the body into the bushes.
She returned to the villagers. One was trying to light a fire, and she stopped him. Then she comforted some of the other villagers while Aran got Dania's cloak, bow and arrows, and Sebastian's cloak, sword, and shield. He gave them to their rightful owners, and then gave the extra cloak to Dania's mum. Sebastian and Dania offered to watch through the night. But Aran and Susanna wouldn't hear of it. While everyone else slept, Susanna and Aran did sentry duty. It was a cold night. They stomped around, trying to get warmth into their numb feet. Aran offered Susanna his cloak, but she could see he was shivering as much as her. She refused the offer.
There was a rustling in the bushes. They watched it with caution. Lucinda burst out of those bushes, and saw Aran and Susanna.
"Goddess! Where have you guys been?" Lucinda said in an angry whisper. "I didn't know where you were at all. It was lucky I saw your tracks, otherwise I would have thought you had been captured!" Then she glanced at the bodies lying all over the clearing. "Who are they?"
"They're the villagers that were captured," replied Susanna, "We rescued them because they were probably going to be kept as hostages. Why else would a mysterious soldier camp want to kidnap the whole of the nearest village?"
Lucinda thought about that. "Yes, I see what you mean. Well," she said, getting back to the subject, "this forest is being surrounded at this very moment. The King's soldiers are used to fighting in woods, and so they'll have the advantage. I was told to tell you that if you could get the villagers out, some weapons are being left further away from the camp for them. As you have rescued them," she eyed the sleeping forms, "then I suppose we better find them."
"I'll do it." Offered Susanna.
"I'll come with you if you want..." said Aran.
"Thanks." She replied.
Lucinda sat down on the tree stump. "Well, I suppose I am to stay here and guard this lot." She said.
"I'll help."
Lucinda, Susanna and Aran looked round for the speaker.
"Sebastian. You don't have to."
Sebastian walked over. "I want to. And you haven't introduced me to your friend."
Susanna sighed. "Right. Sebastian Dragonspear, Lucinda Whiteflower."
Lucinda and Sebastian smiled.
"Pleased to meet you." Sebastian said, and sat down next to her on the log.
As they started chatting, Susanna and Aran walked off in the opposite direction to the camp.

They walked for about an hour, when they heard a sudden crash, which seemed to start lots of people whispering angrily. Aran and Susanna kept low to the ground and very well hidden while looking into the clearing that was ahead of them. Aran smiled, and stood up. Susanna was wondering why when she saw the small flag fluttering in the breeze. By the light of the dawn breaking in the east, she saw the flag and thought that the silver unicorn on a blue background was very familiar. Realising what it stood for, she also stood up; she was glad that the King's men were here already.
There were about fifty people here. Thirty of them were dressed in blue tunics, chain mail shirts and silver helmets. These men carried round shields with the same unicorn on them, and spears, swords and daggers. The other twenty men were mounted on horseback, and wore red tunics and light brown breeches, leather armour, shin guards and light leather helmets with red plumes. They were carrying halberds and had a quiver of arrows and a bow on their backs.
Aran and Susanna walked out into the open. A man in infantry uniform, carrying a helmet with a blue plume, walked over. "I suppose you have come to pick up the extra weapons?" he asked, smiling
Aran nodded. "Yes, we have."
"Right. Follow me." He walked over to a pile behind the troops. "Here they are."
"Thanks...err...what was your name again?"
The leader grinned. "I never told you my name. It's Sir Gareth Oakenshield, a major of the King's infantry, and a knight of the realm. But you can call me Gareth." Then he glanced at his troops. "Could we stay in your clearing? This clearing is too far away from the camp to make any attack."
"Well, I suppose you could. But it isn't really a clearing. The trees are just more spaced out."
Gareth grinned. "I don't mind. We are used to it. We will reach the clearing as soon as we can with these weapons. After all, you can't carry many of them, and our cavalry's saddlebags could carry much more."
"I didn't think cavalry could get through those woods."
"Oh, don't you worry, mi'lady. They can. Believe me, they can."
After a talk with the major about the plans of attack, Aran and Sebastian started out for the part of the woods where they had left Lucinda and Sebastian.
They were walking over to Lucinda and Sebastian, when Lucinda put her finger to her lips, and silently came running over to them. Susanna saw that Dania was stringing her bow and going to join Sebastian. When Lucinda got to them, she whispered to them that there was a patrol of about ten men walking the other side of the bushes. Susanna listened intently. Yes, she could hear them. They were actually being quite noisy. Lucinda whispered to Susanna and Aran to get over the other side of the patrol. When the second arrow was shot they were to attack. They had to be as quiet as possible.
Quickly Aran and Susanna ran around the back of the patrol, keeping under cover. They managed to work their way a little ahead of the patrol, on the opposite side of Lucinda, Sebastian and Dania. Aran drew his dagger, and balanced it ready for throwing. Susanna got ready to attack them with magic. An arrow whizzed through the air, embedding itself in the bank. The patrol stopped, stared at the arrow, and then ran over to it to look closer. As soon as they were gathered around the arrow, another arrow flew out of the bushes and stuck into a man's back. He stared at the earth bank in front of him, before falling over on his face.
The other men looked around in confusion. There was no one in sight. Aran let his dagger fly, and it hit a man in the throat. The man crumpled with a gasp. Susanna muttered a sentence, and silver mist rose out of her cupped hands. She waved it in the direction of the men. Two men ran into it, screamed, and were reduced to a pile of clean white bones. A bolt of lightning struck another soldier, and he froze, fire racing over his body. He slowly collapsed to the ground, twitched once, and lay still. The remaining five men raced up the bank towards them drawing their swords. Under direction from their leader, one soldier raced back towards the camp. His friends didn't see him fall to the ground, an arrow in his back. Lucinda and Sebastian ran out of the bushes and raced up the bank behind the soldiers. The soldiers turned around and looked at Sebastian and Lucinda in confusion. Aran stuck his foot out and tripped up one of the soldiers. The soldier fell into the soldier in front of him. They quickly got up, and as two soldiers tackled Lucinda and Sebastian, the other two whisked round and attacked Aran and Susanna.
Susanna quickly drew her sword as the leader brought his down. She stopped the blow, and drove her sword underneath his, but it was stopped. Sebastian's attacker went down, a gaping hole in his stomach. Lucinda kicked her enemy in the face, and he staggered backwards, knocking into the man who was fighting Susanna. They both went down. Susanna avoided the sharp blade sweeping down, and jumped as an arrow embedded itself in her enemy's back. Aran swept his blade across, and the other soldier went down as his head rolled down the bank. Susanna saw it, and felt sick. The leader got up, and backed away until he was brought up short by a large tree trunk. He raised his sword and grasped his shield harder. Aran advanced on the soldier, but bent almost double when the soldier kicked him. Susanna saw this. Her eyes narrowed. With an eerie silence she walked towards the soldier. The soldier kicked Aran out of the way. Susanna, seeing this, kicked out with her foot at the soldier. It landed against his shield. She saw his sword sweeping from her left; she ducked underneath it. She thrust her sword underneath the rim of his shield. The soldier stared at her, before collapsing. Then she turned around and helped a still groaning Aran to his feet. As she took him back to the camp, the others collected the armour and weapons that the soldiers had. As Aran and Susanna got back into their camp, the cavalry rode up. A man on a large bay stallion dismounted and walked over to them.
"Where would you like the weapons?" He asked.
"Erm... over there, near the tree stump, please."
"Okay"
The cavalry dismounted and started dumping weapons where Susanna had told them. Susanna looked at the villagers and found they were starting to wake up. A blonde man got up and strolled over.
" 'Scuse me, bu' as you've rescued us an' all, should'n' we 'elp fight the buggers in the camp?"
"If you would like to," was the reply. "The King's men are going to attack them soon, and so if you would like to get the people who wish to fight and bring them over here, we can sort them out. Okay?"
"Right, madam," he said, and walked away towards the rest of the villagers. They soon arranged themselves into two groups. One group walked over to Susanna and the growing pile of weapons; the other sat down in the clearing. The group who wished to fight stood in front of Susanna, waiting for directions.
"Look through that pile and find a weapon that you know how to use. If you don't know how to use any of them, come and see us." She pointed at Aran, Sebastian, Lucinda and Dania. The group kept staring at her.
"Well go on then!" she said, annoyed. The group obeyed. As the crashing of rummaging through a pile of weapons started, Susanna told them to be quieter.
A few hours later, the major walked out of the forest, followed by the infantry.
"Good afternoon. Are your villagers all ready to fight?"
Susanna nodded. Why did she seem to be turning into the leader in this?
"Good good. Well. I must talk with the general about the enemy."
"What?"
"Well, I think they are going to realise that they have lost a whole horde of villagers and a sentry..."
"And a patrol..." interrupted Aran.
"Eh? A patrol too? Oh dear. Anyway, they're going to come after these villagers and whoever took them, killed a patrol and a sentry. They will realise that we are here, and then I don't know what will happen."
"How are you going to talk with the general?"
"With a mirror."
As Gareth walked away, Susanna stood there, puzzled. A mirror? She quickly walked after the major to see this magic mirror for herself.
By the evening, no more patrols had been sent out by the enemy, and all was quiet. A plan had been made. The whole army was to attack at dawn, at the signal of a fireball exploding in the sky. This was to be done by Aran. The villagers were to chop their way through the thick forest during the night, and then hide in the bushes and surprise any soldiers that tried to attack or run away during the attack. They were to stay in reserve.
Susanna watched the villagers, led by Sebastian, slowly and as quietly as possible clear the way between the trees. She hoped that he would be okay. She walked over to Dania.
"Lets get some sleep. We've got a long day tomorrow." She yawned. "Goddess, I'm tired."
Dania grinned, but the grin turned into a yawn. "Same here."
They walked off to where Dania's mum was sleeping. They lay down nearby and went to sleep, warm cloaks wrapped around them. Soon they drifted into a sleep.
The rising sun saw a clearing full of activity. Soldiers were quickly forming groups of ten men. The other villagers were getting weapons just in case they were attacked. Aran was waiting for a signal from Gareth. The signal came. Everyone was ready. Aran pointed at the sky, whispered a word, and a bolt of lightning shot into the sky. It blossomed into a huge fireball. Aran looked rather pleased with himself as the soldiers started to advance. The cavalry walked after them. Susanna and Aran walked along beside Gareth in silence, while Dania walked rode with the cavalry.
Sounds slowly emerged as they got closer to the camp, like the clashes of steel against steel and the battle cries of the fighters. Susanna and Aran were told to stay behind the soldiers and act as war-mages. So they stood on a small hill that was near the battlefield, and watched the King's armies attack the mysterious soldiers' camp, while the dark uniformed soldiers scrambled to get ready to attack them while the soldiers' horses panicked. The whole camp was surrounded by men in blue and red. Aran threw a lightning bolt at a tent, and the tent burst into flames. They men inside it ran out, their clothes on fire. He was about to throw another, when Susanna put her hand on his arm.
"What?"
She pointed to a rider that had managed to escape from the battle. This bronze helmeted rider was the same one that led the people who had been to the village and kidnapped the villagers. He was definitely not abandoning his soldiers now, especially when he had caused all of this trouble. Aran saw him, and then glanced around the battlefield. Their friends were winning quickly. He glanced back at the soldier that was running away, and then looked for Susanna. But she wasn't there! She was riding away after the soldier. He grinned and found another horse, and rode after her.
Susanna was trying to catch up with the man in front of her, but he was riding too fast. She tried to make the horse go faster, but it couldn't. She thought about the situation. Hearing hooves behind her, she looked back. Aran was there, galloping along after her. She grinned. Then she had a thought.
The man looked round, saw he was being chased, and prodded the horse with his spurs. Susanna suddenly had an idea. She held onto the horse with her legs, closed her eyes, and shaped the wind into a funnel with her mind. She opened her eyes, and made the funnel fly in front of the runaway. He saw it, and tried to avoid it, but it hit him full in the face. He couldn't see where he was going because of the swirling leaves that were in his face. Susanna grinned. The horse the runaway was riding had had enough, and bucked. Her rider flew forwards and crashed into a tree. Susanna and Aran caught up with him as the horse ran off. Susanna dismounted, and drew her sword. The man stood up.
"Leave me alone."
Susanna sniggered. "Why? You burnt my friend's village, and kidnapped the villagers. Why should I leave you alone?"
The man looked around wildly. "Some people in my country wouldn't want me to be killed. If they found out you did it, they would hound you until you died as well."
"Well, that's a chance I will just have to take."
The man backed up against the tree, and drew his sword. He picked his shield off the ground. The man narrowed his eyes, and struck. Susanna deflected the blow, and lunged with her sword, but it met with the figure's shield. Like a silver snake, his sword shot out and caught Susanna on the shoulder of her sword arm, making her arm go limp. She took her sword with her other arm, and swung it at his legs, forcing him to jump to avoid it. She was a much clumsier sword fighter with her left arm. The man swung his sword at her head, but Susanna raised her sword. The strength with which he swung his sword made hers jump from her grasp and fly backwards. Susanna was left without a weapon. As Aran jumped from his horse and drew his sword, the man swung his sword down towards her head. She jumped out the way, but not fast enough. She felt the blade of the sword grate down the bone of her sword arm, and screamed. She collapsed on the ground, tortured by the pain.
"I'm glad there is poison on this sword." The man said, grinning. He parried a blow from Aran's sword, and jumped onto a horse. He rode away quickly.
Aran was confused. Should he chase after him, or stay with Susanna? As an answer, Sebastian and Dania rode past hot on the heels of the man. Aran looked at Susanna, and then dropped his sword as he tried to think of a way to heal people. It hurt him to see her in pain. He knelt by her side and closed his eyes. He got a wire of his magic, and put it into the wound. He could see the black haze that was the poison. Gripping the wire, he burnt out all of the poison and the infection. Then he opened his eyes, and ripped off his shirtsleeve. He ripped it into strips, and bandaged the large wound and the deep cut on her shoulder that had ripped the muscle. She was biting her lip, but seemed to be less in pain now. Quickly he hoisted her up onto the saddle of the horse that had stayed behind, and then got up behind her. They quickly rode out of the woods and back to the clearing where they had left all of their things.
Susanna was fighting the white fire that tried to make her scream with pain. It hurt more that anything else that had ever happened to her, and the jolting of the horse didn't help. She cradled her crippled arm with her other hand, wishing it would stop hurting her. Curse that rider! He better watch out in future. She realised her eyes were closed, and opened them. They were back at the clearing where the villagers were. Aran lifted her off the horse and gently lay her down on a blanket. One of the women that had stayed behind walked over.
"I'm the village healer. Let me look at her."
Aran let her take care of Susanna, but he was worried. This wound shouldn't be life threatening, but... supposing he hadn't got rid of all of the poison? He couldn't lose Susanna. Shaking himself, he banished such thoughts to the back of his mind, and knelt beside Susanna and the healer. He hoped she would be okay.

Susanna slowly woke. She was staring at a ceiling. A ceiling? She sat up in bed, and looked around. She was... somewhere. She recognised it. Where was she? Seeing a woman past her slightly ajar door, she got her attention and asked her where she was.
"You're in Corus, my dear."
Susanna looked around in confusion. Yes...she had been here before. She remembered now. She smiled. Stiffly, she got up and closed the door totally. She got dressed, and walked out into the corridor. Another woman, seeing Susanna looking around as if she was lost, took her to see her friends. Lucinda, Aran, Dania and Sebastian were sitting in a room that looked as if it was Aran's room. She stumbled in, and sat down on a chair.
"Hi."
"Hi" said everyone. Then Aran asked, "Do you feel okay?"
Susanna nodded. She felt much better. She could move her arm a bit. She glanced at her arm, and saw it was still bandaged up.
As if Lucinda knew what Susanna was thinking, she said, "It isn't quite healed. All of the veins, skin and muscles were taken care of by the healers, and they said that you should keep the bandage on for a while for support." She grinned.
"When are we going home?"
"Well," said Sebastian, "We have been asked to stay here for a while. About a month...?"
Susanna shrugged. "Okay." She grinned. She would like to stay here for a bit.


" 'Scuse me, bu' as you've rescued us an' all, should'n' we 'elp fight the buggers in the camp?"
"If you would like to," was the reply. "The King's men are going to attack them soon, and so if you would like to get the people who wish to fight and bring them over here, we can sort them out. Okay?"
"Right, madam," he said, and walked away towards the rest of the villagers. They soon arranged themselves into two groups. One group walked over to Susanna and the growing pile of weapons; the other sat down in the clearing. The group who wished to fight stood in front of Susanna, waiting for directions.
"Look through that pile and find a weapon that you know how to use. If you don't know how to use any of them, come and see us." She pointed at Aran, Sebastian, Lucinda and Dania. The group kept staring at her.
"Well go on then!" she said, annoyed. The group obeyed. As the crashing of rummaging through a pile of weapons started, Susanna told them to be quieter.
A few hours later, the major walked out of the forest, followed by the infantry.
"Good afternoon. Are your villagers all ready to fight?"
Susanna nodded. Why did she seem to be turning into the leader in this?
"Good good. Well. I must talk with the general about the enemy."
"What?"
"Well, I think they are going to realise that they have lost a whole horde of villagers and a sentry..."
"And a patrol..." interrupted Aran.
"Eh? A patrol too? Oh dear. Anyway, they're going to come after these villagers and whoever took them, killed a patrol and a sentry. They will realise that we are here, and then I don't know what will happen."
"How are you going to talk with the general?"
"With a mirror."
As Gareth walked away, Susanna stood there, puzzled. A mirror? She quickly walked after the major to see this magic mirror for herself.
By the evening, no more patrols had been sent out by the enemy, and all was quiet. A plan had been made. The whole army was to attack at dawn, at the signal of a fireball exploding in the sky. This was to be done by Aran. The villagers were to chop their way through the thick forest during the night, and then hide in the bushes and surprise any soldiers that tried to attack or run away during the attack. They were to stay in reserve.
Susanna watched the villagers, led by Sebastian, slowly and as quietly as possible clear the way between the trees. She hoped that he would be okay. She walked over to Dania.
"Lets get some sleep. We've got a long day tomorrow." She yawned. "Goddess, I'm tired."
Dania grinned, but the grin turned into a yawn. "Same here."
They walked off to where Dania's mum was sleeping. They lay down nearby and went to sleep, warm cloaks wrapped around them. Soon they drifted into a sleep.
The rising sun saw a clearing full of activity. Soldiers were quickly forming groups of ten men. The other villagers were getting weapons just in case they were attacked. Aran was waiting for a signal from Gareth. The signal came. Everyone was ready. Aran pointed at the sky, whispered a word, and a bolt of lightning shot into the sky. It blossomed into a huge fireball. Aran looked rather pleased with himself as the soldiers started to advance. The cavalry walked after them. Susanna and Aran walked along beside Gareth in silence, while Dania walked rode with the cavalry.
Sounds slowly emerged as they got closer to the camp, like the clashes of steel against steel and the battle cries of the fighters. Susanna and Aran were told to stay behind the soldiers and act as war-mages. So they stood on a small hill that was near the battlefield, and watched the King's armies attack the mysterious soldiers' camp, while the dark uniformed soldiers scrambled to get ready to attack them while the soldiers' horses panicked. The whole camp was surrounded by men in blue and red. Aran threw a lightning bolt at a tent, and the tent burst into flames. They men inside it ran out, their clothes on fire. He was about to throw another, when Susanna put her hand on his arm.
"What?"
She pointed to a rider that had managed to escape from the battle. This bronze helmeted rider was the same one that led the people who had been to the village and kidnapped the villagers. He was definitely not abandoning his soldiers now, especially when he had caused all of this trouble. Aran saw him, and then glanced around the battlefield. Their friends were winning quickly. He glanced back at the soldier that was running away, and then looked for Susanna. But she wasn't there! She was riding away after the soldier. He grinned and found another horse, and rode after her.
Susanna was trying to catch up with the man in front of her, but he was riding too fast. She tried to make the horse go faster, but it couldn't. She thought about the situation. Hearing hooves behind her, she looked back. Aran was there, galloping along after her. She grinned. Then she had a thought.
The man looked round, saw he was being chased, and prodded the horse with his spurs. Susanna suddenly had an idea. She held onto the horse with her legs, closed her eyes, and shaped the wind into a funnel with her mind. She opened her eyes, and made the funnel fly in front of the runaway. He saw it, and tried to avoid it, but it hit him full in the face. He couldn't see where he was going because of the swirling leaves that were in his face. Susanna grinned. The horse the runaway was riding had had enough, and bucked. Her rider flew forwards and crashed into a tree. Susanna and Aran caught up with him as the horse ran off. Susanna dismounted, and drew her sword. The man stood up.
"Leave me alone."
Susanna sniggered. "Why? You burnt my friend's village, and kidnapped the villagers. Why should I leave you alone?"
The man looked around wildly. "Some people in my country wouldn't want me to be killed. If they found out you did it, they would hound you until you died as well."
"Well, that's a chance I will just have to take."
The man backed up against the tree, and drew his sword. He picked his shield off the ground. The man narrowed his eyes, and struck. Susanna deflected the blow, and lunged with her sword, but it met with the figure's shield. Like a silver snake, his sword shot out and caught Susanna on the shoulder of her sword arm, making her arm go limp. She took her sword with her other arm, and swung it at his legs, forcing him to jump to avoid it. She was a much clumsier sword fighter with her left arm. The man swung his sword at her head, but Susanna raised her sword. The strength with which he swung his sword made hers jump from her grasp and fly backwards. Susanna was left without a weapon. As Aran jumped from his horse and drew his sword, the man swung his sword down towards her head. She jumped out the way, but not fast enough. She felt the blade of the sword grate down the bone of her sword arm, and screamed. She collapsed on the ground, tortured by the pain.
"I'm glad there is poison on this sword." The man said, grinning. He parried a blow from Aran's sword, and jumped onto a horse. He rode away quickly.
Aran was confused. Should he chase after him, or stay with Susanna? As an answer, Sebastian and Dania rode past hot on the heels of the man. Aran looked at Susanna, and then dropped his sword as he tried to think of a way to heal people. It hurt him to see her in pain. He knelt by her side and closed his eyes. He got a wire of his magic, and put it into the wound. He could see the black haze that was the poison. Gripping the wire, he burnt out all of the poison and the infection. Then he opened his eyes, and ripped off his shirtsleeve. He ripped it into strips, and bandaged the large wound and the deep cut on her shoulder that had ripped the muscle. She was biting her lip, but seemed to be less in pain now. Quickly he hoisted her up onto the saddle of the horse that had stayed behind, and then got up behind her. They quickly rode out of the woods and back to the clearing where they had left all of their things.
Susanna was fighting the white fire that tried to make her scream with pain. It hurt more that anything else that had ever happened to her, and the jolting of the horse didn't help. She cradled her crippled arm with her other hand, wishing it would stop hurting her. Curse that rider! He better watch out in future. She realised her eyes were closed, and opened them. They were back at the clearing where the villagers were. Aran lifted her off the horse and gently lay her down on a blanket. One of the women that had stayed behind walked over.
"I'm the village healer. Let me look at her."
Aran let her take care of Susanna, but he was worried. This wound shouldn't be life threatening, but... supposing he hadn't got rid of all of the poison? He couldn't lose Susanna. Shaking himself, he banished such thoughts to the back of his mind, and knelt beside Susanna and the healer. He hoped she would be okay.

Susanna slowly woke. She was staring at a ceiling. A ceiling? She sat up in bed, and looked around. She was... somewhere. She recognised it. Where was she? Seeing a woman past her slightly ajar door, she got her attention and asked her where she was.
"You're in Corus, my dear."
Susanna looked around in confusion. Yes...she had been here before. She remembered now. She smiled. Stiffly, she got up and closed the door totally. She got dressed, and walked out into the corridor. Another woman, seeing Susanna looking around as if she was lost, took her to see her friends. Lucinda, Aran, Dania and Sebastian were sitting in a room that looked as if it was Aran's room. She stumbled in, and sat down on a chair.
"Hi."
"Hi" said everyone. Then Aran asked, "Do you feel okay?"
Susanna nodded. She felt much better. She could move her arm a bit. She glanced at her arm, and saw it was still bandaged up.
As if Lucinda knew what Susanna was thinking, she said, "It isn't quite healed. All of the veins, skin and muscles were taken care of by the healers, and they said that you should keep the bandage on for a while for support." She grinned.
"When are we going home?"
"Well," said Sebastian, "We have been asked to stay here for a while. About a month...?"
Susanna shrugged. "Okay." She grinned. She would like to stay here for a bit.





Avalon Publication July 2000

Enter content here

Enter content here

Enter supporting content here