The second light from Petina’s Inn flickered above the horizon, Cameron heaved a heavy sigh of relief. Despite feeling as if he was on the verge of collapsing upon the Path, he quickened his pace, willing his legs to go faster, even if it was for a little bit. If he could just get to the inn, he would be safe for the night. The longer he stayed on the Path, the more he feared that a Spirit were to spot him.
Cameron reached for that inner feeling of fear, a ring of gray Feiron appearing at his feet. He shot down the road with an explosion of speed. But with his level of exhaustion, it quickly died down. He didn’t care. His feet was already at the entrance gate of the inn. His hand leaned onto the wooden stilt support of the inn, taking in deep breaths to slow his heart down. He quickly climbed the stairs, his muscles aching by the time he reached the terrace. The door was now in sight and Cameron rushed over to it. With tired fingers, he pushed on the handle, and the door creaked open.
The merry sound of the tavern flared in Cameron’s ears, accompanied by bright lanterns that completely caught him off guard. His eyes squinted, attempting to adjust to the change in lighting. His ears felt numb after walking in silence for days to suddenly hear whooping and yelling filling every corner of his surroundings. People were up and about eating meals and sharing drinks as if they didn’t have a care in the world.
Cameron didn’t really have the energy to do so. His eyes landed on a lone free table in the corner of the tavern. He dragged his feet along the planks. Upon reaching the chair, his knees buckled and he slumped onto the wood. Relief flooded his legs and lower back, freeing them from long hours of continuous tension.
A waitress dropped by at the table. Cameron’s stomach growled at the mere mention of food, and it surprised him how long it took him to notice the smell of baked potatoes in the room. That caught his interest. That, and some roasted chicken with a glass of water.
As the waitress left, Cameron pulled his head back, his skull tapping the chair’s frame a little harder than he intended it to, sending the chair rocking backwards slightly. Cameron ran some basic facts through his head. His name, age, gender, what he was supposed to be doing.
There was something else.
He knew it was a feeble attempt, but he tried anyway. Concentrating, Cameron tried thinking back to a time in his childhood.
There was when he played with some of the other kids in the orphanage. There was one time when Alison gave him a bit of a lecture when she felt that Cameron was being a tad too self centered. He remembered the feast almost two years ago, and how he and his friends enjoyed clamoring over the food.
Then he hit a blank. A brick wall in his memory. There was nothing for him to tap into past that two year mark. Cameron sighed. “Still no luck, huh?”
He sat upright, hands reaching for one of the pouches clipped onto his belt. He brought out an empty glass vial, setting it on the table. Cameron held out his palm and closed his eyes. He thought of the time when he trusted Alison with a secret, just a little one, on how he was planning a little game for Nathan. It was a small deal, but Cameron could still recall how much he trusted the older women.
Droplets of bright emerald rose up from his hands. Cameron felt the energy surge through his palm and leaving him, Forming the Fragments he might need to use later on. Satisfied that he had created enough, he popped his eyes open. With a wave of his fingers, the droplets followed his movements rhythmically. He picked up the vial and pulled out the cork. The droplets found their way in, and Cameron sealed the mouth shut.
“That ought to keep me going for the next couple of days.”
While putting the vial away, he felt his fingers brush against the spine of a small book hidden in his pouch. A part of it was tempted to read, but another side deemed that it wold be too exhausting, not with his intestines slowly eating themselves. Deciding against reading, he closed the flap of his pouch.
Cameron froze. He felt a strange sensation, as if someone was watching him from the shadows. He turned his head behind him, only to find a group of people toasting to each other, not even giving him a single glance. Nothing extraordinary there.
The moment Cameron turned his head back, he saw them: a pair of striking violet eyes looking at him from the across the tavern. He nearly jumped back, but realized that they were the eyes of a girl with bright rose hair, probably around his age. She didn’t seem too threatening . . . right?
The waitress returned with Cameron’s meal, quickly snapping him out of his thoughts. The smell of food wiped everything else from Cameron’s mind. His hands grabbed a knife and a fork and he immediately starting eating. Only when his teeth dug themselves into the meat did he realize that he might not have enough Gelts to pay for the meal.
I’ll think about that later. For now, let’s eat!
As he kept going, Cameron could still feel the girl’s eyes on him. Every once in a while, he’d sneak a glance in her direction with a mouthful of potatoes. She didn’t seem to be staring at him, but he did catch the occasional peek in his direction. He tried waving once. He received no reply. So he just shrugged and finished up his food. Eventually, when his stomach stopped complaining with gurgles and growls, Cameron patted it, satisfied.
Cameron perked up his head, whipping towards the source of the sound. A group of men gathering around a table in the center of the tavern had a meaty finger pointed at him.
“Me?” Cameron blurted out.
“Yeah, you!” the man replied with enthusiasm. He started waving towards himself. “You look like a fun boy! Get over here, we’ll treat’ya!”
Cameron’s eyes lit up. “Really?” He might be able to pay for the meal after all. Though a part of him was a little reluctant. Should he be taking advantage of other people’s generosity? But the gentlemen seemed nice, and he wasn’t going to pass a chance of a possibly fun conversation. Maybe he could get some tips on how to survive out there in the Plains from them. Cameron slid out of his chair and made his way over, hopping over a fallen mug of wine along the way.
The man who called Cameron over, Wallace, pulled out a chair just for him. “Sit, boy.”
And Cameron did. “So, is there anything you want to talk to me about?”
“Nah,” Wallace guffawed. “You just seemed like a fun kid. You the type that enjoys listening to stories of heroic deeds?”
The men chorused a laugh, exchanging smirks with each other. “You going to do it, or is it one of us?” one of them asked.
“It’s alright, boys,” said Wallace. “You can take it easy tonight. I’ll entertain our new friend here.”
“If you’re all tired, you don’t have to!” Cameron quickly protested, fearing that he was inconveniencing these nice people. “I can always listen to your stories another time.”
“I’m sorry, boy,” Wallace mused. “I don’t think we’ll have another chance to talk.”
Wallace, with a meaty hand, socked Cameron in the stomach. The boy coughed up air, lurching forward. Alarms went off in his mind, but he wasn’t quick enough to react. Wallace grabbed one of Cameron’s hands and stood up. Cameron never noticed that the man was so tall. As Wallace stood naturally with his arm held just higher than his head, Cameron felt his feet leave the floor.
The people in the tavern shrieked and screamed, scuttling away from the scene in the center. They all moved away, forming a circle around the area. But none of them moved forward to assist Cameron at all. As the boy took a quick look at them, all he could see was people turning their heads around, uncertain what they were supposed to do. All of them seemed reluctant to help.
The crushing grip of Wallace’s fist yanked Cameron’s attention back to the large man. “You should be worrying about me, boy. Now, let’s see how much you’ve got on ya.”
One of the men reached for Cameron’s belt, popping open the flap to one of the pouches. Cameron wanted to do something. He wanted to fight back. But he was too tired. An entire week out in the Plains drained him completely.
“He’s got nothing but Fragments on him, boss,” a man replied.
“That’s it? Is he some sort of idiot?” Wallace leaned in towards Cameron’s face, stench of wine filling the boy’s nostrils. Cameron tried to recoil at the smell, but he couldn’t move.
“Where’s your money?” Wallace demanded.
A trickle of sweat rolled down Cameron’s face. “About that. I kind of spent it all already.”
A snarl escaped Wallace’s lips. “Then this is completely useless!” He swerved his arm, dragging Cameron with it. Wallace threw the boy forward. Cameron felt himself go flying before crashing onto the planks of the tavern floor. He slid for a split second before his back crashed into the leg of a chair, setting off a cry of pain from his lips.
One of the men threw a deep red vial at Wallace. He crushed the glass with a single grip of his hands. There was an explosion of Angon at Wallace’s fingers as he pulled the Fragments together into a dagger. “At least I’ll get the pleasure of running this through you.”
He charged, arm preparing to thrust the dagger forward. Each pounding step Wallace took towards him sent Cameron’s senses into a panicked frenzy.
Come on! Get up!
His arms and legs refused to budge. He had no time left. Wallace was right in front of him. Instinctively, Cameron shut his eyes as Wallace swung.
The sound of clashing metal resonated through the air. It took a while for Cameron’s ears to register the noise. When he realized that his stomach didn’t have a knife lodged in it, he pried his eyes open. Standing before him was the girl from before. She appeared out of nowhere and just took the dagger for him!
Cameron’s face paled. “You!”
The girl’s stance didn’t even flinch. But Wallace did. His dagger was stopped by a brilliant silver blade, the hand of its wielder firm. The girl’s eyes were solid and piercing as she bore them into Wallace’s. The larger man was forced to step back.
“You...” His voice lowered to a threatening growl as his gaze landed on the weapon. A blade that’s not made by any color of the Cederian Fragments. “You’re one of them aren’t you? The demons in disguise.”
The girl’s brows narrowed. She pulled her blade back, shifting into a neutral stance. A smirk curled up Wallace’s face. “That’s fine. I’ve always wanted to see what you horrid things are capable of!”
Wallace shot forward, bringing the dagger up. He planned on impaling the girl right through the chest. Her arm moved quickly, parrying his dagger without nothing more than the flick of a wrist. The next thing he knew, a foot was shoved right in his stomach. Wallace stumbled. The girl’s sword curved and stretched, as if it were a whip. She veered her arm forward, and the blade followed her movements. It snuck behind Wallace’s legs, and the girl tugged. The sword angled itself, its face ramming through the man’s feet. It knocked Wallace off balance, sending him sprawling onto the floor and the dagger slipping from his hands. His head slammed hard onto the planks.
“Boss!” Wallace’s men ran over to their fallen leader, quickly trying to determine whether or not he was alright.
The spectators were in just as much awe as Cameron was. He watched from the floor as the girl sheathed her sword into a scabbard hanging at her belt, and turned herself to face him. She held out a hand to him. Back still aching, Cameron took it.
“That,” Cameron began while the girl pulled him up to his feet, “has got to be the coolest thing I’ve ever seen anyone do.” Cameron realized that he was just about her height, and brought out a hand, ready for a shake. “I’m Camer–”
“I am so sorry!” The girl dipped her head into an apologetic bow. The action caught Cameron off guard, and he retracted his hand.
“I am sorry!” she repeated. “I apologize for taking so long to come to your assistance. I thought somebody would, but no one did. I’m afraid I stepped in too late to stop you from becoming injured.”
“It’s fine, it’s fine!” Cameron cut in, desperately trying to stop the girl’s stream of apologizes. “Really, I’m alright.”
The girl slowly lifted her head back up. Cameron decided that it was safe to give the handshake another shot. He offered a hand. “The name’s Cameron Verille. Friends call me CV.”
“Jerilyn Ennis,” she said as she returned the shake. “A handshake with me is alright?”
Cameron raised an eyebrow. “Why wouldn’t it be?”
Jerilyn seemed to hesitate in her answer. She brought out a vial from her belt, the same one she watched Cameron fill up. The little glass tube was small enough to fit within the girl’s index finger and thumb, the contents inside a series of bright green little marbles. “I believe this is yours.”
“Oh yeah!” Cameron took it from her hands. “Thanks. I’m a bit forgetful.” He popped the vial into one of his pouches. “Who knows when I’m going to need that.”
“It’s Trunium, isn’t it?”
“My master is looking for a Trunium user to join us. Would you be interested?”
A smile adorned Cameron’s face. “A Search Group invitation? Great! I am so in!” He paused for a moment. “You wouldn’t happen to have enough Gelts to pay for some roast chicken and mashed potatoes, would you?”
Did you enjoy my ongoing story so far? Please let me know what you think by leaving a review! Thanks, Pandonia_JeanetteWrite a Review