Chapter Fifty Five
For the first time in many years, Adin set foot on the castle grounds. Much had changed since the last time he had been there.
The Ravens were so excited to have their entire family at the castle. It was after all, a special occasion.
Many Woodland Elves had also arrived at the castle. They had already started preparations for the coming wedding. The field where they had so often trained had been converted into a great hall, created from roots and branches. Even everything inside the hall; tables, chairs, even a certain amount of decorations. Caitlyn, her daughter-in-laws and son-in-law added extra decorations to make it appear more festive. Some Woodland Elves paid more attention to detail, placing vases on the tables, growing a range of beautiful and colourful flowers in them.
Caitlyn also helped Saresse with her wedding dress. She was also helping Joseph with clothes for the big day. Though there was not much time to make him new clothes, his mother was not going to allow him to get married in his everyday Raven attire.
Despite everything that was going on around them, they allowed themselves a moment to smile and be happy for the wedding that would take place once Keara had returned.
Nightfall had approached fast; the winter was closing in. Keara started a fire, throwing blankets over Legacy to keep him warm. She sat there, staring at the fire, with nothing better to do. Playing with her own hair, she looked at the flowers and vines that had been braided into her hair, not so long ago at the home of the Woodland Elves. The flowers still kept growing. She hadn’t really paid much attention to them, but looking at them now, helped her realize that despite all the bad things that were happening, there was still much more beauty. There was a lot more to protect in this world, than there was to destroy. Knowing that her brother was to be married soon, was proof that there was still something worth fighting for. And though she had a lot on her mind, making it almost impossible to think about anything else other than the journey that was awaiting her, she couldn’t help but feel excited about the coming wedding.
Scander was in his chambers, diligently working on something, though he still made sure that no one was aware of what he was doing. One of Sharzak’s more loyal subjects entered the chambers without Scander realizing it. The person had started asking questions, wanting to know why he was constantly absent. He no longer attended the meetings when Sharzak demanded that he be there. This person had made the mistake of telling Scander that he was going to inform Sharzak that things were being planned behind his back; but before he could even depart from Scander’s chambers, he lost his life. Scander threw the body over his shoulder, and taking care that no one would notice him, he carried it outside. He had taken many turns to prevent others from seeing him. Finally reaching his destination, he threw the body through the bars that had been built over a huge hole in the ground. The creature beneath the hole, growled with satisfaction, before seeming to consume its unexpected meal.
During the evening, Keara came across many Mortags who were still wandering around the forest. At first she got a fright, thinking that she would have to fight them as she had wandered into their proximity without realizing it. But they had not noticed her. Her aura was still shielded. She breathed a sigh of relief and quickly disappeared behind the bushes before any of them could lay eyes on her.
As her path back to the castle required her to pass by them, she decided to remain hidden behind the bushes, deciding that being patient would be a much better option. They all seemed to be walking in one direction, just like they had that day at the castle. She still wasn’t completely sure where they were going, but she still thought that they might be heading to the Haunted Castle. Lenora had said that they were drawn to pure evil, and she couldn’t think of another being that was more evil than Sharzak.
She slowly dismounted and took hold of Legacy’s reins, leading him deeper into the darkness they had come from, also making sure that the Mortags weren’t behind them. Legacy lied down on the ground and Keara sat down next to him, letting him rest his head on her lap. She stroked his nose, still keeping a vigilant watch. For the first time since she started this journey, she refused to go into Reverie.
Michael had been staring at the fire in the Raven barracks’ common room for what seemed like forever. He knew that Keara was safe somehow, despite her being in the depths of the forest, but he still felt that he would worry less once she had returned. His wife sat down next to him and took his hand in hers. He emerged from his thoughts and looked at her.
She smiled softly at him, ‘She’ll be fine. She always is.’
‘I know.’ Michael replied.
‘I’m sure she would not want you to worry about her.’
‘I’m the oldest, it’s my job to worry about my siblings.’
‘True. But I’m sure they don’t want you to have any sleepless nights.’
‘I know.’ Michael admitted, like a child who realized that he had been caught.
Keara undid the bedrolls, throwing them over Legacy. She had put on her gloves, tightening her scarf around her neck and pulling her hood further over her eyes. She made sure that she was as warm as she could possibly be, even though she could not start a fire.
Legacy was still asleep, with his head still lying on her lap. She kept stroking his nose, but she was growing tired. Not because she had been busy, but because she had nothing to do.
It was just past midnight, and the Mortags had finally disappeared. But she still could not bring herself to go into Reverie.
Zarra was still in the archive. She kept finding more and more things that would be necessary to fix the ward, should Keara be able to convince the dragons to help her. Hardly anybody ever saw her. But everybody knew that she loved being among the books. She seemed to find it easier to spend her time by herself, learning as much as she could, rather than be around the others where she had to make conversation.
Adin and Deryck had been spending a lot of time together. Deryck had shown Adin around the castle and the castle grounds. Artemis had joined them from time to time, but he had become much more withdrawn than usual. For the moment, Deryck decided not to give it any thought and continued to show Adin around.
Morning had finally come, but Keara was still leaning against the tree. Legacy had already woken up and was grazing a few feet away from her. He had pulled the blankets off his back, lazily dropping them on Keara, covering her almost completely with it. She just looked at him, watching him, knowing that he was completely peaceful in that moment. She wanted to close her eyes and just go into Reverie for a few hours, but she also wanted to get back to the castle. She pushed the blankets away and removed her gloves, rubbing the drowsiness out of her eyes. Finally she pulled herself to her feet, rolling up the blankets and securing them to the saddle again.
It had not been long before they were off again. The first few hours of the last leg of the journey, Legacy just trotted along, seeming to know his own way back. Keara had finally gone into Reverie. By the time she had awoken, they had already covered a great distance. She remained awake for the rest of the journey, even though it was uneventful.