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Chapter 16: Celebration and Vigil

So far, the deed, the seal, remained under Conrad’s bed. Domain continued the case with Acacia and Jason being the added beneficiaries. The jury agreed to revise the deed’s date and the issue was decided on by the Droughts and Alexander’s consensus. This gave equally to both families thus all was momentarily the same.

The families burdened themselves with grief over family friend, Conrad, and they tried to remain restful as they pushed back the search parties who sniffed out the Alexander inheritance. Most of all, the Alexander’s were relentless, knowing of Acacia’s hunt. The Droughts occupied their grief while helping the search parties.

Ever since their disappearance, outsiders became terrified of the divided town. Secret armories were rumored. Riverside fisheries and markets closed the day of Conrad’s death. Sums equal to the amount in the will were placed aside for his family and the jurors were silent.

A mass from Dominion Church erected a place behind the cathedral with stained glass and a rose-colored dome. Conrad was to have a memorial erected between one of the endless orchards.

The sky moved quickly as if preparing for the congregation of the mass on the hill. Crowds lined up from the base of the knoll to Dominion Private College to begin the trek. Conrad’s mother stood at the front of the crowd, and in her hands, clutched a small chest. Conrad’s father, a sailor, and former lawyer buried his head inside the shoulder of her mackinaw coat.

As the crowd huddled and the air dipped cooler, Acacia raced on the other side of the Earth.

The sun rose through a crack in the lost city’s tunnel. After silent retrieval of two nights’ worth of rest and the gathering of supplies, the earth became shallower as the party moved on. The clay became damper as the tunnel careened to-and-fro through the catacombs of the city. It had been three nights since the first spectacle of a firebird.

Chiron first spoke. “The rebellion against our kind is just as much from our rebellion.”

“Why do you bring this up?” Circinus challenged. “Just as well, we rebel against our own who don’t follow us.”

It was no challenge. “We might as well prepare for the party.” Acacia reasoned. She rested in no mood to ignite another quarrel where it was easier to take a partisan defense.

The tunnels forked in many directions, but their branch ended with a wide dip and a covered entrance on the ceiling poked with four distinct holes, one hole allowing a shaft of light to pierce the waning darkness. The only thing leading up to the escape were rocks scrambling up the dip in the tunnel, creating a slippery staircase toward the light.

Acacia clambered up the rocky slope. To her misinterpretation, the entry was too high for her reach. She allowed the tip of her gifted horned spear to move the lid, but it could not clamp the edge of ground to lift and push her upward.

Circinus watched in anguish and with a leap ran up the scree and lifted Acacia above his flank. Chiron carried Andelko, but with Chiron’s enormous weight it was harder to walk the rocks. Circinus carefully rolled Acacia down his back as to avoid her touching his horn. Acacia heaved herself toward the full breadth of sunlight, but the two other partners stayed behind. She squinted and took in the whole view but decided to keep the full majesty a surprise.

“Can I assist you?” Acacia jested.

Chiron coughed, “Grab Andelko’s hand. Don’t worry, as a way out will be made for us. Do watch out for each other as one watches the sundial.”

Acacia hoisted Andelko up and as she saw the too-large steads gallop back through the dark. Even as she saw Andelko’s relieved face, her heart sank. One of the tunnels branching left gave Chiron a good instinct, he whinnied and with this, a slight relief did come; however, she did not decide on whether it would be wise to be noticed in Medora or stay undercover.

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