The wind ruffled my hair, as we drove along the black beaches of Houdnjord. It was quite an experience riding at such high speeds. I must admit, I was petrified at the beginning, but I quickly grew accustomed to it.
Fitz was surely enjoying the ride. He stuck his tongue out and barked at the seagulls.
I turned my attention from the scenery around me, to Sarah. She always seemed as though she was in a world all her own.
“How long have you been here?” I asked.
“As long as I remember,” answered Sarah.
“Doesn’t it get a bit boring?”
“That depends,” Sarah answered.
“Boring as in boring.” I clarified.
“What about lonely?” I inquired, whilst leaning back against the seat.
“Well, old Yogthart visits me here and there.”
“The thing that-“
“Yes,” Sarah interrupted as she turned left behind the mountain.
As she turned, a tiny town resting on the shoreline came into view.
“This is it?”
“This is it.” Sarah replied as she halted in front of the entrance.
The town was quite a depressing sight, with dingy white houses, scattered along the town’s dirt roads. A little church rested in the middle of the town, with a minuscule marketplace not far from it.
Walking through the town it felt so empty, as if the houses and stores were no more than simple rocks on a beach.
The church which resided in the heart of the town seemed to be different. It had peculiar symbols on its doors of ghastly creatures. The cross which should have been on the very top had a man with a bird’s head on it.
“Over here,” Sarah called out.
Approaching the store, everything was abandoned, and yet everything was in its place, including the very jackets on the hanger.
“Here is some frozen meat,” Sarah took out a large rib and gave it to Fitz.
“If they are all gone, then who do you protect?” I inquired.
Sarah stood up and went out of the store. “I like to reciprocate information.”
I looked at her, frowning my brows in confusion.
“You tell me why you are here, and I will tell you why I’m here. Does that sound fair?”
I halted for a moment, and hastily answered. “Fair enough.”
I halted to reminisce, and at last uttering. “I was on my way to deliver a package, when I crashed my floating house in a valley. That’s where I met Fitz and also where I was attacked by the hounds.”
Sarah turned to me, gazing down in the corner squinting her eyes in disbelief. “And I was sent down by Zeus himself on a flying chariot to save this island, becoming its queen.”
“I’m telling the truth; you can ask Fitz; he was with me the whole time.” I countered.
“Sorry to disappoint you, but I don’t speak hound,” Sarah uttered as she pushed a boat out into the sea, tying it to a wooden pole.
“Well, that’s what had happened, whether you believe it or not.”
As I uttered those words, Sarah stood up straight and with her head down, she uttered. “My family was sent here to protect the people. After they left, I stayed.”
“Why?” I quickly asked.
“Because I like it here,” Sarah responded in a monotone, as she walked behind me. “If you sail north, you’ll get to the far land ports in two days, if you have good weather. From there you can climb onto a ship and sail where you want. It was nice meeting you...?”
“Augustine,” I murmured.
“Well then, safe trips Augustine.”
While Sarah put her hands in her pockets and left, I my chest began to feel tight and yet I held back so many words which I desperately wanted to utter. I turned my gaze to Fitz. His head tilted to one side as if in confusion gave me courage to ask the question which I had been holding back.
“Could we stay?”
Sarah halted in her steps and turned her head slightly towards us.
“Stay?” Sarah faced us, with her blank stare.
“Just for a couple of days-“ I stopped for a moment, “Fitz and I truly need some rest.”
Sarah stood there for a moment, and with a faint smile uttered. “Sure, a few days wouldn’t hurt.”
I sighed in relief and lifted Fitz in my arms, following behind Sarah.
“So, Augustine, what package are you to deliver?” Sarah questioned with sarcasm in her voice.
“Well, Sarah, I like to reciprocate if you don’t mind?” I jested.
“Ah, I see.” Sarah lowered her head with a tiny smirk lifting the corners of her mouth. “What would you like to trade for that particular information?”
“Why did your family leave you?” I inquired increasing my pace to walk beside her.
Sarah’s face changed, her levity dissipating. “They didn’t want to be here anymore,” she quickly answered.
“That seems a bit odd to me,” I answered with a judgmental tone.
“Well, we’re not all alike now, are we?”
I bowed my head in shame and kicked a small rock across the street.
“I just meant it sounded odd.”
“Well, your story sounded odd too, but I didn’t judge it,” Sarah raised her voice.
“I didn’t mean to upset you.”
“It’s all right, let’s just forget we ever spoke of it.”
As we once more, climbed onto the horseless carriage. I felt different; the weight on my chest was lifted, and I drew a deep breath. For the first time I felt a sense of safety and freedom. For the first time I could actually enjoy the gentle wind and salty scent from the ocean.
Later that night, Sarah pulled out an extraordinary contraption. It appeared to be a racetrack with brass horses attached to it. She later gave me a copper box with a stick protruding from the top.
It was covered with buttons and tiny levers.
“I will show you how to use this.” Sarah said as she handed me the box. “This is the ‘start’ button.” Sarah pointed at the button painted green “This is the button you push when you want to stop.” She pointed to the red button. “This is the lever you use to propel forward or backward. Do you understand?” She asked.
Looking at the contraption, I squinted my eyes and hopped to god I remembered it all.
“Great, let’s play.”
Sarah hastily pushed down on her box, and her horse propelled forward.
“Whoa, wait a second” I raised my voice while pushing down on the green button.
My brass horse quickly followed behind Sarah’s, and the race began.
The racetrack went in a simple circle, and the turns were the only places where I could gain an advantage. The first time I barely caught up to her. The second time my horse nearly collided with hers, but she managed to skid away. The third time I was nearly had success, as I propelled the horse as fast as I could. However, I encountered a problem when I had to make the turn which was too sudden for my brass horse. The horse slid of off the track and fell underneath the cabinet.
“Hah,” Sarah exclaimed with a mischievous smirk.
I quickly rose to retrieve the horse beneath the cabinet. Kneeling to grab it, I noticed a sliding compartment, hidden above where the brass horse lay on the dusty floor. I looked back at Sarah who was still intent on winning the game.
An idea quickly came to me and I was wrestling whether to carry it out or not. Impulsively I removed the dagger from my coat and quickly stuffed it in the compartment.
“I found it!” I exclaimed, as I stood up, flashing the brass horse.
“Well, I win.” Sarah uttered with pride.
“Did you make this game?” I asked.
“My father and I built it,” Sarah answered with a stutter.
“Was he an engineer or something?” I inquired.
“He worked for the Order as a machinist,”
“Vermilion?” I asked, concerned.
“Well, after the war, he moved over to the Sentinels. That’s when we came here,”
“And then he just left?”
Sarah stayed quiet, gazing at the track, biting at my lips.
“I’m going to sleep,” I stuttered. “Goodnight.”
Turning my back to Sarah, I climbed the stairs to my room.
“He didn’t just leave,” Sarah raised her voice. “When the hounds came, Sentinels told us not to let the people leave the island, that the word wouldn’t spread. My father didn’t listen and helped the people,”
Sarah voice began to crack. “So, when they found out, they came for us. I hid in the lighthouse as they took my dad and my sister.”
“And your mother?” I cautiously asked.
“She hid with me.”
I turned my gaze toward her, she attempted to do the same, but failed.
“Fever took her a season ago,” Sarah sniffled.
“I’m- I’m sorry I-“
“Oh, don’t- Its ok,” Sarah gazed into a corner and smiled, “Rest well.”
Returning a faint smile, I climbed up the stairs, and went to my room.
Fitz waited for me, still filled with energy. He wiggled his tail and attempted to jump up onto me.
“Oh, come on little one. You are no match for me!” I teased.
For a while Fitz and I played, and as Fitz grew tired, I lay down on the bed, gazing at the celling, reviewing all that had happened, and thinking of all that might happen.
“This might be what I have been looking for .” I whispered to Fitz. “This might be it.”
I felt a sense of contentment. I did not have to traverse any more land or water. No more blood had to be spilled. This might be at last the alternative end. I may be selfish or self-centered, but I had no strength in me to go any further. This would be, I hoped where I would at last halt.