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BRINGER of BALANCE - Book II of THE LAND series

By smatusky All Rights Reserved ©

Fantasy / Adventure

Chapter 28 - Evils of our Ancestors

We spent a short time in the City of the West before traveling back to The Land. During our journey home, protectors branched off with various parties for introductions to city leaders. When we reached home, Riley and I received a grand welcoming.

The Land teemed with activity, and a street fair like the ones I remembered before the wrath of my father unfolded for the returning alliance. The Grand Ballroom no longer housed fatherless children, and dancers filled its hall. Orphans had homes with families from my clan and work that had been so difficult to accomplish in the past was practically finished. I was glad to be home.

The next morning I went down the hill between the town and my castle. I picked a nice grassy space between some tombstones and took Great Grandfather’s present from my pocket. I opened the box, revealing my seed of hope. It was so little, just the way I had been when first entering the east woods. I could not imagine a massive tree taking hold from such a tiny thing, but it just needed my attention to grow full and lush.

So many things helped me along the way too, especially Riley and my family helped me grow just as much. They watered me with knowledge and strength: great grandfather Christopher with his book, The Prophecy; Christian with his guidance; Grandfather Orielle’s bravery, and Grandmother Rose’s insight.

The seed I planted would need my attention and, in turn, I would need its blossoms to keep my powers under control. I took my shovel, making a hole in the fertile soil, and planted the dull, brown seed. It was time for the Scarlet Ribbon Tree to be reborn.

After planting my seed I went to the castle to search for Riley. I found him sitting at a table that overlooked the courtyard he used to tend. Papers and scribbled notes occupied the desk and my husband gazed out the window. His thoughts told me that he wanted to be Riley the servant. He longed for simpler days.

“I know how you feel.” I said. Riley spun around.

“You startled me.”

“Sorry. I imagine you realize now that humans change much like our world. We’re not as timeless as protectors.”

“Yeah,” he sighed. “I thought that when we came home my life would be the same as before. It’s so different now.”

“We’re never the same person we were the day before.” I said and gently took Riley’s hand. “Come on,” I pulled him out of his chair. “I want to practice mating.”

“Really?”

“Yes, really. We’re home and we have the castle to ourselves. Come on!” Riley pushed back his chair and left his worries behind.

A week passed before I left for Seven protectors in eagle form flew gracefully across Noore. Sir Edward, Wolfe and I were on the backs of three and we wore Grandmother’s enchanted cloaks. Although Riley wanted to travel with us, he stayed in The Land while we set off to find Sir Gabrial. Three protectors would remain at while another was needed to carry Sir Gabrial back. I hoped he would be all right.

“Land over there, just outside of the City.” I said while pointing to a secluded location. “We’ll walk to the Governor’s Tower. Stay above and out of sight. You’ll know when to show yourselves. Sorry Tilly, this might take a while. These humans don’t like me very much.”

As soon as we landed the protectors reverted to their original forms and hovered far above us. “Are you sure we don’t need any weapons?” asked Sir Edward. “I feel so unprotected.”

“We’ll be safe as long as we stay together and keep covered. Don’t lower your hood for any reason,” I demanded.

“Yes, dear,” Edward said sarcastically. “You already told us that hundred times!”

“Well, I mean it! How are you doing, Wolfe?”

“It’s hard to walk in this and the sleeves are too long.” He raised his hands to show me. “I hope I don’t trip.”

“Sorry,” I said. “Grandmother never considered who’d be wearing these.” I fiddled with his hood so he could at least see where he was going. “I’ll lead. You two stay close, on either side of me. If anyone touches us they’ll freeze or if they block our path we’ll have to bump into them. One more thing, do not utter a word.”

“Do you have our shackles ready?” Sir Edward muttered while lifting his arms, showing his wrists.

“Oh, stop badgering me and just do what I ask!”

“Yes, dear.” Edward replied, smiling, and then covered his head with his hood.

We set off for the entrance to the city. Everything seemed different from the first time we visited, when I had been so delighted with ’s grand style. This time nothing impressed me and I focused on our arrival to the Governor’s mansion.

While walking the busy streets I brushed against two people and did not paralyze them. I hoped my grandmother’s spell would do what it was supposed to. As we made our way toward the city, questions flooded the minds of people on the streets. They asked the guards about who we were. Soon, Governor McCook would be warned about three magicians headed for his mansion. Besides the concealing cloaks, our silence made them nervous as well. I telepathically told Sir Edward that the council had been warned about our presence.

Yes, dear, echoed in his thoughts. My mind expressed agitation with his quizzical behavior and I heard a slight chuckle from under this hood.

We stopped at the main entrance to the City. A line of guards faced us on either side of a massive fountain. Their formation spanned an area right and left of the elegant fountain, blocking our path to the mansion. I headed for the guards to our right and they pushed together, making a tighter weave.

“You’re not allowed any farther, by order of the Governor,” barked a guard, and we stopped in front of him. “Whoever you are, do not proceed beyond this point.”

I stood a moment with Sir Edward and Wolfe practically at my heels. Then, I stepped even closer until inches from the taller guard. He could not see me in my hooded cloak.

“Go back!” he yelled.

I pushed into him and he strained to keep me from passing, but my magical force nudged him gently out of the way. My trio passed through the front line and they stood astonished by our boldness. Never did a word slip our tongues.

We reached the doorway of the mansion, which led to the Governor’s Tower. Sir Gabrial was most likely locked in the tower the same way I had been.

“You’re not allowed!” shouted another guard from the entrance. “Go back or we shall have to take you into custody for disobeying our laws.” We approached with the same pace, silently and concealed from head to toe.

“You heard us!” yelled a different guard. “Stop!” Of course, we did not obey. My feet touched the first step leading to the door and the guards drew their swords. “We warned you,” he said.

By the time my feet landed on the top step the guards were ready to strike at us.

“Ouch!” Every sword fell to their feet, their blades a bright orange. “Grab’em!”

Their attempt to capture us revealed the first sign of my grandmother’s enchanted spell. Each man who came upon us froze instantly and we passed through the doorway without straining a single muscle. Our pace had not been broken and we headed for the Governor’s council room with little harm from the mystified guards.

I like your style. Sir Edward telepathically said as we made our way through a long hallway. Every guard who swung at us or tried to grab us stood silently. When turning a corridor, at least twenty guards were frozen in place, just as they had touched us.

The door to the council chamber had been sealed tight. It took mere seconds to disintegrate the metal holding the wooden door in place and my winds knocked it down. A loud bang echoed and guards rushed toward us. Like the others, they stood in place posed to strike, yet helpless.

“Get out of here!” shouted the Governor. We walked up to him without hesitation and the council members stood from their seats in a panic. Wolfe and Edward turned to watch my back as I advanced on the Governor. “Come no closer! You’ve violated every rule under law.” He sputtered.

I faced the Governor, lifting my head, and although the cloak covered me, he saw my shadowed features.

“I bring you a gift, Governor. A vision from our past.” I reached out with lightning speed and clasped his wrist. There was no escape and he stood paralyzed like everyone who had touched me – obviously the cloak worked its enchantment on anyone I attacked. The Governor and I linked telepathically and the vision from the memory stone formed in our minds. We watched young Sabastian Elderbee having dinner with his parents soon after they had been run out of

“Daddy, why must we stay here?” asked the little boy to his father. Mother, father and son sat at a tiny table eating their minuscule meal of potatoes and wilted greens.

“It won’t be for long.” assured the father. “They can’t hate us forever. Besides, we’ve done nothing wrong.”

“Being who we are is the problem.” said the mother. “They’ll never let us back. My sister is nice enough to share her home, but we must find other lodging. I wish you’d never listened to Jim.”

“It would have taken fifty men to move that anchor!” the husband protested. “Besides, why should we hide our talents all the time, especially when we can help?”

“Because, Francis,” replied the wife, “people don’t understand us and they’d rather have magical folk out of their lives, no matter what our intentions are.”

The father shook his head in disbelief.

“Why can’t you make them leave us alone?” asked the young boy to his father. “You can use magic and then we can go back home. I hate it here.”

“Never, Sabbie, never use magic against anyone,” his father insisted. “It will cause even more bitterness toward those of us who can use magic. As it is, too many barriers have been placed between us, especially from that new Governor.”

“That man hates us!” snapped the wife. “I saw him gaining support in the courtyard and he promised the people that magic would be buried forever if he made office. His thoughts made me cringe. He’s evil, Francis, pure evil.”

The conversation subsided, and after dinner the little boy went upstairs to play while his parents cleaned the kitchen. They had almost finished when a faint rumble emanated from outside and the couple looked at one another with concern.

“I’ll check it out. Get your sister. Tell her to keep Sabbie upstairs and quiet,” said the husband. The wife nodded and left the room.

Five guards on horseback rushed up to the house and stopped in front of the father.

“Are you Francis Elderbee of ?” asked a guard.

“I am Francis. But I no longer reside in If you haven’t noticed, you’re in . We left your city months ago.”

“You have been summoned by our new governor, Wallace T. McCook, to appear before a trial for your magical misdeeds. We have been ordered to take you and your wife by force if necessary.”

“Get inside!” shouted the father to his wife who had just stepped outside.

“No, Francis. Don’t go!” she insisted. “They have sinister plans and intend to harm us. They have no authority here. Let’s just go back inside. They can’t do anything.”

“If I go and face your charges, will you allow my wife to stay here?” asked the father.

“The Governor insisted that both of you return, now!” the guard yelled.

“No!” shouted the father.

By this time, Sabbie was looking out of the attic window while his aunt held him from behind. Her hand cupped his mouth as he struggled to break from her grasp.

“Come on, Francis.” The wife tugged on the man’s arm, urging him to go back into the house. She pulled him back until an arrow pierced her abdomen. She clenched the wooden shaft as her husband cried out in rage.

Francis held his wife in his arms. While he was trying to comfort her, a guard swung his sword at him. His head fell to the ground, spraying his wife with blood, and a ghastly scream came from the injured woman. It was silenced as the same fate took her life.

Tears streamed down the little boy’s face. The aunt, barely able to contain her own sobs, struggled to hold him and muffle his screams.

An older guard on horseback trotted close to the bodies.

“You know, Laddie,” he said to the guard picking up the heads, “she was right. We’re out of our jurisdiction and had no right to do this.”

“Shut up!” shouted the guard. He placed each head into a burlap sack, seeping blood turning the fabric dark. “He planned to kill’em no matter what and wanted evidence that they were dead. We did what he asked.”

“Shouldn’t we at least bury the bodies?” Asked another guard.

“Leave’em!” He said and they raced south out of town.

The aunt finally let the boy go. “Sabbie, No!” she cried while chasing him downstairs.

Outside, the boy held his mother’s hand. When the aunt tried to take him away from his parents, he used his magic to knock her back with an invisible force. His tears faded while staring at the decapitated bodies of his mother and father.

The vision ended and I stared at Quintin McCook.

“Wallace McCook?” asked the Governor.

“Your grandfather, who passed his hatred of magic to you,” I replied.

“And, Sabbie…he was Sabastian?” He asked and I nodded to him.

“A magical boy who passed his hatred for non-magical folk to his grandson, my father,” I said. “So, Governor, it seems we have something in common. We’re victims of our family’s hatred and touched by a single deed that sparked years of bloodshed. Evil begets evil, and our future will carry the same grudge for generations if we follow the mistakes of our ancestors. I’m inclined to forgive past transgressions. The question remains, will you?” I let go of his hand and he stumbled to a chair behind him, sweat covered his face.

“Sit,” I said to the council. Without reluctance they did as I asked and the Governor sat silently, probably for the first time in his life. “My last visit here, although terribly unpleasant, was for the purpose of fighting the plague. You saw the protector with your own eyes yet denied your help with fighting the plague. I’m willing to overlook this council’s lack of judgment and explain our truce with the protectors. Thanks to one of your own, who is now imprisoned by this man…,” I pointed to Governor McCook. “We are free of the plague and have an agreement with all protectors. will be decades behind the Cities who have joined in our alliance with Protectors, but because of the loyalty Sir Gabrial, I’m willing to make an exception.”

My thoughts reached out to Tilly. In an instant, the seven protectors hovered behind me while gasps spread across every member in the room.

“Tilly,” I said and she walked up to me. The men were shocked to see a naked female standing in the chamber. “She is ancient and knows more than all the humans on Noore, so be careful with your casual lack of respect for youth and beauty.” I spun my head to a bulbous man at the front of the group who had reprehensible thoughts about her sleek form. He sank low in his cushioned chair as my eyes narrowed. I explained our truce to the council and gave them a mere minute to decide if they would take part. I had been too kind already. Every member raised a shaky hand, showing support, except Governor McCook who sat motionless, pale-faced and weak.

“Now,” I said while walking close to the Governor. “Tell me where he is.” He did not speak. His eyes, wide and glossy, told me where to find Sir Gabrial. He was locked in a cell in the highest part of the tower. I telepathically told Edward to follow me then asked the protectors designated for to remain with the council. The other protectors would meet us outside by the courtyard fountain.

We headed for the highest prison cell with no trouble from guards. Word had spread of our invulnerability and as we passed the dull corridors, flames burst from unlit torches. Our path had been lit by my magic and the dark dungeon gleamed, showing its filthy walls. Indeed, those locked in the dungeon had been forgotten, and when we reached the cell, I found a crumpled figure in the corner. The pile hardly looked like a man.

The iron bars of the cell glowed brightly and turned into molten metal that splashed against the stone floor. Then I imagined the molecules slowing down until frost formed on the puddles of hard iron. I walked across straw bedding to Sir Gabrial and he gazed up at me.

The figure hardly resembled the same person. The noble knight had been transformed into a sickly old skeleton of a man. His long hair and beard were matted, and a soiled cloth covered his mid-section. The poor man was barely alive and he wondered if death had finally come to take him away.

“No, my friend,” I responded to his thoughts. “Give me your hand.”

“That voice,” he whimpered. “It sounds familiar, like an angel.”

His weak hand gradually lifted, his nails were longer than I had ever seen on any person, and I grasped him, pushing my life energy into him. Like Sulimi, the crane from The Barrens, I became weak as my nourishment revived the once healthy knight. Sir Edward touched my shoulder and I released my grasp.

“No more,” he said aloud. “We still have to get out of here.” I nodded and we left quickly. Sir Edward held Sir Gabrial up while Wolfe helped me walk. Now two of us were weak, but we managed to make our way slowly down the tower to the entrance of the mansion. I called Tilly in my mind and the four protectors transformed into eagles in the courtyard. It was almost dark, though hundreds of residents saw the display. The council would have to explain much to everyone in the City.

After Sir Gabrial and I were secured, Sir Edward and Wolfe crawled onto their eagle. People rushed over and gathered around us to see the incredible scene. I signaled our departure and whispers rippled across the masses until we were too high to see them.

The return of the Queen of The Land would be long remembered by these people, especially by Governor Quintin McCook.

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