Within the next month and a half we got into a good rhythm for work. We kept having visits from different creatures, and they all came in groups of three. They never seemed to hurt anyone, but they did like to cause a lot of mischief. Each time that I would intervene the smallest creature would come up to me and sniff me before scampering off with the two bigger creatures. I had no idea what was bringing them to our campsite. More and more though I thought about the three figures that I had seen after the fire. Could all of these creatures and those three figures be connected in some way? Frankly I didn’t think that it was impossible. I’ve seen a lot of crazy things during my time here.
Another interesting thing that had happened during that month and a half was that I now looked exactly like the girl from my visions. I had all of the same tattoos that she had. I still got visions and weird dreams from time to time. Things were slowly starting to piece together for me. My mind was trying to put together some of the pieces that I had but there were still gaps that I couldn’t close. Like I still didn’t understand who I really was in this world. I knew that I was from here, somewhere.
I knew that I had some part in starting the war, and I knew that I was connected to Avin from some past encounter that I have yet to discover. My life was a little chaotic in my head but I didn’t let it show on my face when I was working during the day. Only at night when Tray had fallen asleep on my lap did I look more at my thoughts. During the end of my second month at the camp we had an unexpected patient in the healer barn. Val had come in with some minor wounds and when I had gone to see him later that day I saw that his arm was up in a sling and he had a black eye. Ohh, that looks like it hurt.
“What happened to you?” I asked Val as I wrinkled my nose in a joking manner. “You look like crap.”
“I got ambushed by an animal trap,” Val said as he patted the ground beside him. I sat down beside him on the hay covered floor. He was smiling shyly at me as he played with his bandages with his unwounded arm. Wouldn’t he had seen part of the trap? I tried desperately not to laugh but I just couldn’t stop myself. I fell backwards onto my back laughing, hysterically.
“Shut up,” Val muttered as he shoved me playfully with his good arm.
“I-I’m sorry!” I told him as I gasped for air between laughs. I just could totally see him doing that almost like I had seen it before…Oh no, nasty headache coming on. I groaned and covered my face with my hands. The darkness slowly changed into vibrant greens and other bright colours that belonged in a forest. I was watching from above the trees of the forest but I couldn’t really see what was going on, I could only hear it. I slowly began to get closer to the trees until I was just below the leaf line of the trees.
I could see myself walking along in the forest with Val but he looked a bit different, still younger but older than my last vision of him. He was wearing armor but it was different than the Elf armor that I had always seen him wearing. He had on a chest plate, helmet, wrist guards, and shin guards on, while the Elf armor usually only consisted of a chest plate and a helmet. We were talking and laughing about something that I didn’t really understand.
I followed them for a little bit but they really didn’t do anything else interesting. Why was I remembering this? It didn’t really seem that important. Just as I was trying to figure out if I could get out of this vision something in the brush a head of them caught my attention. Oh no. I watched and waited to see if either of them would notice what was in the bush, but neither of them seemed to notice it and Val was walking right towards it. Don’t step in the bush!
Val stepped around the bush. Just before I could breathe a sigh of relief it happened. The trap sprung and seconds later Val was dangling from a tree branch by his ankle. The other me in the vision and me floating above them now both burst out laughing. The reason being was because of the hilarious expression on his face as he dangled from the tree branch. Oh, so that was why I thought that it was so funny. Then the flash of bright light came and I was staring back at the present day Val.
“Hey, are you okay?” Val asked looking concerned. “You kind of zoned out there for a minute.”
“Yeah, I’m fine just thinking about how funny it must’ve been to see you dangling from a tree,” I replied and barely managed to suppress another bout of laughter. But the trap didn’t explain how he got the broken arm.
A trap would cause bruising for sure and maybe bleeding depending on the trap. Something else must’ve happened out there that he wasn’t telling me. I looked Val over once more, this time more thoroughly, checking each individual wound. I just told him that I was inspecting the healer’s work so that he wouldn’t question me as I worked. After I had checked over all of the wounds, one thing was for sure, Val was lying to me. There was no way that an animal trap could cause this much damage.
“I really don’t like being lied to Val,” I told him as I looked into his eyes, completely serious. Val looked like he wanted to deny what I had said but thought better of it and hung his head in shame.
“Alright, I was lying about getting caught in a trap but I’m not lying about being ambushed,” Val told me. His face was as stony as Avin’s was normally and his voice was flat. But that thought made my heart ache a little bit, I was really missing Avin and he hadn’t paid us a visit as of late. Which both made me happy because that meant that he wasn’t wounded, but it also made me nervous because it could also mean that he was severely wounded or dying. I tried to force my attention back onto Val so that I could push the nervousness and longing aside for the time being.
“By whom?” I asked as calmly as I could so that Val wouldn’t know where my thoughts had gone. Val looked at me kind of funny for a second before he responded.
“I’m not really all that sure to be honest, I didn’t see them,” Val told me thoughtfully. He didn’t know what had ambushed him? That was just like what had happened Deeno and Verron. It might just be a coincidence but I was starting to think that there was no such thing as a coincidence anymore.
“Do you mind if I look over your wounds just once more?” I asked him seriously. “There is one more thing that I want to check for.”
“Yeah, sure thing Doc,” Val replied half-jokingly. “Did you want me to move or something?”
“Actually yeah, can you stand up for me please,” I asked him as I stood up and took a step back to give him some space to stand up. In response, Val slowly got to his feet. I could tell that it was painful for him to stand there, so I tried to make my inspection as quick as possible. I checked over every inch of his skin for the bruise like thing that I had found on Verron. Thankfully I didn’t find one anywhere on his body.
“Okay, you can sit back down Val,” I told him once I was finished. Val’s legs shook while he was standing and they only got worse when he tried to sit back down. I helped him as best as I could to sit back down on the hay covered dirt floor. Once he was back on the ground he let out the breath that he had been holding in.
“Ouch…” Val whispered from his spot on the ground. He sounded like he was in a lot of pain, it was most likely from me making him stand up for so long. Also probably from all the poking and prodding that I had put him through.
“Sorry Val,” I told him as I knelt down and put my hand on one of his legs. The least that I could do was give him some form of relief. So I used my powers to lessen his pain a bit. “But the good news is, is that you’re clean.”
“Okay, but clean of what exactly?” he asked and began to relax as I healed up his sore legs.
“Parasites,” I murmured to Val not really wanting to tell him. Although all of the healers knew what to look for now, that didn’t mean that all of the wounded needed to know what was going on. “We had a bit of an incident a little while back so we’ve been taking precautions ever since.”
Val stared at me with his mouth hanging open, and his eyes wide. His mouth moved but no sound came out. Then he shook his head vigorously before focusing back onto me. He seemed really stunned and confused by what I had said.
“But no one has been able to use parasites for centuries, rarely anyone even remembers the spells anymore,” Val murmured mostly to himself. “Plus if anyone did know how to use them it’s strictly prohibited to do so, with the penalty being death.”
Well apparently death did not scare whoever was casting these parasite spells. From the rumours and incident reports that have been going around the campsite it didn’t sound like these guys were even of the Elven species. The people who had seen them had said that they saw a shadow of some sort attack them, other people just didn’t see anything because the creatures moved to fast for them to see. I didn’t like it. These new creatures made me very cautious and wary about each person that came in…and each person that didn’t.
Each time the scouts had gone out they report more dead people than they did survivors, and what survivors they did report looked like they really shouldn’t be alive. Thank goodness that the healers and scout had learned a lot in the last two months, otherwise we would have lost the surviving soldiers that had arrived back at the camp. Well, all except for one soldier that is, he didn’t survive the night. There was barely anything left of him to put back together. I was scared to see him alive in the condition that he was in. whatever had attacked him, had eaten most of him. There was nothing we could do for him except to ease his pain as he passed. That was not a good day for anyone.
I opened my mouth to say something to Val, but the sound of hurried footsteps coming towards us made me stop and turn around towards the hall. In the stall doorway appeared a very tired looking Elf with white blonde hair, light blue eyes with white spider webs etched into them, and pale skin. She seemed really petite and bony, but I’ve seen her knock out a guy who was running around in a panic. Her nice and pleasant demeanor didn’t mean that she was a weakling by any means. I think that her name was Spideena.
“Miss Lucy, we think that we have found one,” Spideena said and then quickly dashed away, presumably back to the place where she was working on her patient. Whoa, and we were just talking about the parasites too.
“I’ll be right back Val, I have to go supervise this,” I told him as I got up and jogged out of the stall, not waiting for him to respond. I saw a small group of people standing outside one of the stalls. That was probably the one that Spideena had come to tell me about. Great, that’s the third one this month. I walked through the crowd of people and into the stall to watch and assist if needed when they removed the parasite from the person’s body. The people who have been infected with the parasite always take the longest to recover. The poison that is secreted by the parasite takes a while to get completely out of the system. Thank goodness this guy wasn’t too far gone with the parasite. He was an easy fix with us just having to remove the parasite. He was up and moving around in about a week.
Val stuck around for about two weeks to let himself recover. He helped out around the camp as best as he could with his broken arm. For that entire time that Val was with us at the camp we didn’t have a visit from any kind of three creatures, so we actually managed to get some work done. The construction crew had finished up with the building that they were working on and now just had to build a second well and fix up the last dishevelled barn so that we could have a place to actually get some sleep. The second well though was their main priority at the moment. We were badly in need of one. We could survive without separate bedrooms for a bit longer.
The day after Val left the three creatures reappeared, as foxes this time, but they didn’t do anything. They just wandered around the camp for half the day and then left. It was almost like they were watching us, or perhaps even watching over us because they never came more than a few feet onto the camp. It was odd behaviour for them, very odd. I needed to go out and have a look around the camp for myself. Shortly after the three creatures had left I went to go talk to Aquaphira.
“Hey Aqua, I need to go take a look around the camp, do you mind taking over for me until I get back?” I asked her as I poked my head around the corner of the stall’s doorway.
“Sure, just let me finish up here,” Aquaphira said as she finished applying a salve to some charred skin. Then she wrapped the arm in a damp bandage and pinned it in place. “There we go, should be as good as new real soon.”
The wounded solider smiled up at Aquaphira and said something that I didn’t quite catch. But it sounded like a thank you to me. Aquaphira smiled and said that he was very welcome in Elvish. Then she got up and walked with me out of the stall and out of the barn.
“Okay, what’s really going on?” Aquaphira asked me as soon as she had closed the barn doors. “You’ve looked really nervous all day.”
“I just have this weird feeling so I want to go look around to soothe my nerves,” I told her and then looked out towards no-mans-land, but the weird feeling wasn’t coming from out there like it should. It was something within the camp borders that was bothering me.
“Alright but at least take someone else with you, I’d hate to lose one of our best healers,” Aquaphira replied with a half-smile. She was worried and trying to be funny, I really appreciated that.
“Okay, I’ll see if Inka wants to come with me,” I told her as I started to walk away, but I could still hear her chuckling from behind me. Inka was one of the best scouts that we had at the camp. The reason why Aquaphira was laughing was because he absolutely loathed me. Most times he would just avoid me, and other times he would just flat out ignore me unless I wanted him to do something special for me.
The rest of the scouts were out doing their rounds for the afternoon, today was Inka’s day off. He usually hung around with the garden Elves, well actually one Elf in particular. How no one else seemed to notice was beyond me. I headed in the direction of the gardens to see if he was there first. I stepped around the side of the barn and saw Blossom and Inka kissing, quite passionately if I may say so. It kind of made me a bit jealous, as thoughts of Avin not being around came back into my mind. I couldn’t really do that with him, even if he was here, because he was engaged to someone else.
I wanted a moment or two to see if they would take notice of my presence but they were much too distracted by their own endeavors. I cleared my throat to draw their attention. Inka and Blossom separated faster than a rabbit running away from a coyote. They were both red faced and kept staring at the ground, neither tried to look over at me.
“Inka, can I speak to you for a moment?” I asked trying to keep the smile off of my face. It appears that I’ve interrupted their private, I’ll make sure that they can get some more once we get back.
“Look, Miss Lucy, its not what it looks like,”Inka said once we were around the side of the barn, and out of the sight of Blossom.
“I don’t need any of your lame excuses,” I told him as I folded my arms across my chest, I can’t believe that he was trying to deny what I just witnessed. “Besides you would only hurt her more by trying to deny what you two have, so just stop right there and consider yourself lucky that you can do that. Now what I need is for you to come with me on a little excursion to the forest that bordered the far side of the camp. Something really doesn’t feel right, and Aquaphira doesn’t want me to go alone. So did you want to come with me to the border?”
“You knew about us the entire time, didn’t you?” Inka asked me accusingly.
“I don’t know what you are talking about,” I said feigning ignorance, but ruined it with the wink that I threw in right at the end. I turned and headed in the direction of the animal barn. There was a short silence behind me before there was rapid footsteps, and suddenly Inka was beside me. Once we were in the barn Inka saddled up one of the rescue horses that we had saved from no-man’s-land, and I saddled up Mirage. We rode out to the forest border in silence. The only sound that could be heard was the pounding of the horse’s hooves. There were no birds singing or any other animal noises, even the trees were silent. My hunch was right, something was amiss in the forest. We slowed to a walk and began to look around the forest’s edge.
“It’s way too quiet out here, where are all of the other creatures?” Inka asked confused, as he looked around the brush.
“Perhaps something has spooked them so they are staying silent?” I suggested as I scanned through the lush tree branches above us. This was getting really spooky, where were all the other critters?
“Lucy in the tree,” Mirage whispered into my mind, “and over in that bush. There’s only two that I can find.”
Well that was two more than what I had known about a couple seconds ago. My arms suddenly got all tingly like they did when I was preparing to use my flames, but it felt a little different. Kind of like something was trying to get my attention.
“More…” a different voice whispered into my head, this voice didn’t sound like Mirage’s voice at all. It was much more masculine than Mirage’s voice. The thing that it had said about ‘more’, what did he mean? Did he mean that there was more than just the two people out here but we just couldn’t see them? How was that even possible? There weren’t really all that many places for people to hide out out here.
“Inka, do you see anybody?” I asked him as I continued to look around for any sign of people or life of any kind frankly.
“No, but it kind of feels like we are being watched,” Inka commented quietly, before something seemed to catch his attention. He leaned forward in his saddle and squinted at something in the distance. I tried to see what he was seeing but I couldn’t really see anything out of the ordinary. I looked at the trees, the branches, and the little plants that were growing around the base of the trees. But something did look a little funny around the base of the trees, there was something about the shadows. I looked up at the sky and then back down at the shadows, a couple of the shadows were facing the wrong direction for where the sun was in the sky. I looked further down the path and saw that there were a lot more shadows that were all facing in the wrong direction in the parts that I could see.
“Inka, do you see what I see?” I whispered to him as I leaned further forward in my saddle to get a closer look at the shadows. After a couple moments of not getting a response, I huffed a sigh and turned to look at Inka, getting rather annoyed that he picked now of all times to ignore me. I looked over to where Inka was supposed to be, but he wasn’t there anymore. In fact nothing was there anymore, just thick fog. I whipped my head around to see if he had moved to somewhere else but again all I could see was fog, even the forest had disappeared.
I turned back around to look down the forest path the only thing that was left, was the shadows on the ground. As I watched the shadows, I saw them slowly start to rise up off the ground and stand in the fog. I jumped when I heard the eerie laughter start up all around me and slowly get closer and closer, and louder and louder. I tried to grip Mirage’s reins for comfort, but I felt nothing. I looked down and saw that Mirage was missing too and that I was now standing on the ground. I noticed that there was about a one foot expanse of no fog around my entire body. My body looked like it was practically glowing in the dense fog as the shadows drew nearer.
“Princess Lucinda,” a male voice boomed from somewhere in the fog. The voice seemed like it was coming from all around me. “You said that you would not interfere.”
Wait was that voice referring to me? Why was he calling me a princess? As confused as I was by that I just really wanted to snap back at the voice because the tone that he had used sounded like he was talking to a child. Ohh, he really had no idea who he was messing with, but what could I say to the voice? My mouth seemed to have a mind of its own and wouldn’t let my head catch up with what I was about to say.
“After what you did, how could I not interfere?” I told the voice calmly, but I could feel myself smile at the end. Why was I feeling so sassy and confident? Don’t get me wrong I liked it but I still had no idea who I was talking to.
“We shall see if you are still so confident when you are dragged in front of us to watch the rest of them destroy each other,” the voice boomed making me wince. A menacing laugh echoed all around me making me cover my ears and close my eyes in an attempt to block it out. When I opened my eyes after I was sure that the sound had stopped the fog was gone and the shadows were back to normal. I removed my hands from covering my ears and looked around confused. What the hell?
I felt a hand fall onto my shoulder and I nearly screamed and jumped out of my skin. I whipped around in my saddle and saw Inka was back and staring at me with an eyebrow raised. I quickly swallowed my scream and tried to act like he hadn’t just scared the crap out of me.
“What were you freaking out for? The animals are back and the birds are singing again. I really don’t understand what you were so worried about,” Inka said to me and then started off back towards the camp without another word. Inka hadn’t seen or heard anything that had just happened, he was completely oblivious. What had actually happened anyway? I felt probably just as confused as Inka was but for a completely different reason.
“You appear quite shaken, Miss Lucinda,” Mirage’s voice chimed into my head, reminding me that she was here too. “Did something happen that I wasn’t aware of?”
“Yeah something happened, but I’m not really sure what it means yet,” I told her absently. In my mind I kept running over what the voice had said to me in our short mostly one-sided conversation. The voice had sounded very familiar but I just couldn’t put my finger on it. I puzzled over the conversation for a couple days until I just got so busy that it practically forgot that it happened for a while. Until one night when I got a horrific nightmare.
The nightmare started with me sitting on a throne and then everything started to crumble and burn down around me, but I couldn’t move off of the throne. The voice was back and it just kept laughing at me as I tried with all of my might to get out of the seat and go help the people who I could hear screaming in the distance. Nothing that I tried ever worked. I woke up gasping for air and shaking uncontrollably. I tried not to let anyone see exactly how badly that dream had really affected me. Everyone else would think that I was crazy if I had told them what I had actually seen. I couldn’t afford to have that happen just yet.