Far Away

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Chapter Thirty

Alice held her breath and let it out. She tried to keep calm but they had not allowed her to see Tim in days. She had to fight not to panic. Not knowing what they would do with her or with her brother was driving her mad. She did her best not to show her frustraition. The last thing she wanted was for Raven to know that his tactics were getting to her. Raven wanted to torment her because he was still upset that she had lied about the plants. He hoped that keeping her from Tim would driver her mad. Alice could only hope that he would tire of the keeping her from Tim and try something else.

She needed Raven to be bored for her plan to work but Raven was the type of man who never did anything for nothing. There was a reason for everything he did -- and did not -- do. Raven was a planner and hard-core planners are very rarely bored. He spends all his time planning!

Alice tried to come up with her own plan but her mind kept running into different scenerioes before finishing the first. She spent restless night after restless night without even half a plan. She may have rested better if she knew that Magnus the healer was making a plan for them both.

Magnus had taken the plant tinderly out of the rubbish heap and brought it back to the clinic. The poor plant was already dying. The edges of the leaves were turning brown and the thin stems were starting to wilt. The poor thing would not last long. Magnus needed to plant seeds. He could not see a way to get another of these plants. There were no seeds!

Magnus gently plucked a leaf for examination but he could not find the plants that made it up. He needed to go back to that alley along that house and find the girl that had been taken away. She had been the one to bring the poutice to the clinic after all. She must have some information that he could use. He would get back to that house the first chance he could.

It took a day or two before Magnus was able to make it back to that little alley. He saw the house and recognized it instantly. Now he just needed to find the girl. Knocking on the front door and asking after her did not seem like the best of ideas, still, Magnus knew he needed to do something.

He watched the windows, looking for a shadow; looking for any sign of her. He dove into the darkness when he heared shouting from the building.

“Where’s Alice?” Called a voice. “What have you done with her?” The voice sounded frantic!

Alice was the girl with the poutice! Magnus leaned his head to listen closer.

“Alice is no longer your concern,” another voice declaired. “The little game she played with those plants is over. She has been restricted to her room until she learns the value of obediance.”

She’s alone in her room, Magnus thought. Getting a message to her should not be too difficult. Magnus fought to stay still and listen closer.

“You know how many people can breed plants like Alice? No one has the instinct and talent born in them like she does... You need her.” Timothy spoke with a bleading voice and Magnus knew that the man who spoke cared for Alice even though he could not see the face.

“I only need the people I can use,” Raven declared and stalked out. He slammed the door and charged into another room.

“What can a do for you,” Alice’s voice asked sarcastically. “You haven’t been to see me in weeks.” Magnus recognized Alice’s voice coming from the corner room. He ran to another alley. He hoped that he could see faces once he got a different angle.

“I thought it might be best if we all had some time to think.” Magnus could hear the smile in Raven’s voice as he spoke. “Hamish can be rash when he is angry and you needed to remember where acting without thinking lands you.”

“It can be hard to forget when I can see the result infront of my face,” Alice reminded him. “Are you here to remind me again or is this tantrum finally over?”

“Are you still insisting that the whole thing was a misunderstanding?”

“That plant can do amazing things,” Alice insisted. “It can put you to sleep and save the lives of all those people at the clinic. The doctors told me that they work!”

“How did the healers get the plant in the first place, Alice?” Raven’s voice was full of anger and malace when he asked the question.

Alice took a deep breath before answering, “How else could I test the plant? Putting myself to sleep does not seem very productive. I’m sure you would not be happy with me if I put my guards to sleep.”

“Lets pretend that I believe you for one moment,” Raven said with anger dripping from his voice. “Why would healers be looking for this medicine?”

“The same reason you want it, I would think.”

“There is no need to get defensive,” Raven reminded her.

“There is a reason if you are accusing me of something. Just what do you think that I did?” The question came out sharper than Alice had intended.

“I know that you made that plant for a reason, Alice, and your reason was not the same as mine.”

“I made the plant because you asked me to,” Alice insisted.

“You made it to cure rott; something healers have been trying to do for decades. I cannot fault your ambition.” Raven smiled as he spoke. “You and I are very alike.”

His last comment drove all responces from Alice’s mind. Three heart beats passed in an eternity before Alice could find her voice once more. “I will never understand you. We are nothing alike.”

“You try to help people and I can only cause pain,” Raven spoke in a moking tone. “Is that what you think?”

“I think that you only work at helping yourself. A man like you could never put other’s first.”

“You think you know what kind of man I am?” Raven’s crooked smile vanished. He looked like the face of death now.

“You say that you’ll help men and my brother but your actions speak louder than words.” Alice spoke slowly, knowing that she was on shakey ground.

“What do your actions say about you?” Raven challanged.

“I’ve known men like you all my life. You wait and think but when the time comes for action all you can do is build another man’s tower up higher. You have no imagination and have to steal someone else’s creation.”

“I am a man of ambition, Alice. That makes up imagination and creation both with some to spare.” Raven’s smile was back now and more chilling than ever. “I have to travel for a few days. When I come back I want you to tell me what your greatest ambition is. If you refuse your brother will pay the price.” Raven slammed the door on his way out.

Magnus knew that this might be his only chance. He climbed up to the window and whispered, “pssst!” Getting her attention.

Alice gave a little jump before running to the window and lifting the glass out of the way. “You’re the healer! What are you doing here?”

“I followed you here after your guardian came and dragged you away. They led me here. I waited outside for you but you never came out. The guard did though and he brought the plant out with him! I am no expert but I know medicine. It must be the plant you used.”

“Hamish already through the plant out!” Alice sounded more angry than shocked. She expected these men to try to get read of it but she did not expect them to do it so soon.

“Don’t worry,” Hamish soothed her. “I rescued it from the trash for you. That poutice worked miracles. Is it possible for you to make more?”

“Not while they have me locked in here.”

“Can you tell me how to bred the plant? I think that I can reproduce it and make more poutice.”

“You said that you saved my plant,” Alice reminded him, sounding angry now.

“I did but it is dying now. I need to breed a new one. Does it have seeds or spores?”

Alice breathed out a frustraited sigh. “It’s a hybrid, like a mule. They can’t reproduce. You might need another botonist’s help to bread plants though.”

“I have you on my side, don’t I? The medicine you made can save countless lives. I don’t want to take credit or steal your thunder but people need your medicine. I’ll do whatever I can to make more for them.”

Alice saw the ernesty in his eyes. She trusted him even though she could hear Dan’s voice in her head saying not to. The eyes were the window to the soul and they did not lie. Magnus meant what he was saying. His goal was to save lives and not to win glory for himself.

Alice wrote the plants she had bred in the proper order on a sheet of paper and handed it to Magnus.

“What if I have questions and need to contact you?” Magnus asked.

“Leave a note on the underside of the window frame if you have questions. I’ll leave you a reply in the same place,” Alice promised.

Magnus nodded and disappeared into the darkness of night.

Dan paced around the room like a lion in a cage. The room the raiders had provided them was just as eligant as the council room. Decadance covered every surface of the place. The room seemed more like a palace than a prison chamber but the feel of the room said more about it than the look. The room felt more like a cage than a palace. Miko was lounging in a chair; acting like he saw this as more of a vacation than anything else.

“You need to calm down, boy,” Miko commented.

“We need to do something. Do you really feel that relaxed while we’re trapped in here?”

Dan wished that he could relax so easilly in this place. He did not know how Miko could ignore the charge in the room. Dan was so frustraited that he wanted to pick up one of the guilded chairs and through it! He restrained himself only by pacing to and fro. Engery surged through him and it needed to be let out one way or another.

Miko simply strugged. “I don’t mind this place so much. There’s no torture or chains; so as far as prisons go, this one is pretty nice. Would you really rather be on the road, sleeping in ditches and running for our lives? This place is great!”

“You’re joking right? I’d rather have a choice in life. I might be robbed on the road but at least I can decide what I wear while I’m doing it! Besides, doesn’t all of this,” Dan guestered at the rest of the room, “make you think that the raiders are keeping something from us?”

Miko burst out in loud, ruskest laughter. “Of course, they’re keeping something from us! They’re a whole society that thrives on secrets, boy. The raiders think we’re keeping secrets by telling them the truth and they’ll use every truth we tell agianst us, boy. Believe you me!”

“They can’t all be like that,” Dan protested.

“They can, boy,” Miko argued. “They can and they are!”

“If they’re all so suspicious than why are we staying? It sounds like we’ll never earn enough trust to get them to help.”

“Leaving now is a sure way to get yourself in a real prison, boy. Enjoy these comforts while you can!”

Dan gave an angry, frustraited sigh. Miko was never going to come round and see things as they were! “Miko, I plan on leaving in two days. They change the guards at midnight and no one is watching the door for almost two minutes then. I would like it if you left with me but I understand if you think it is too great a risk.”

“That almost sounded respectful, boy. You better watch your tone. I’m beginning to think you like me!”

“Does that mean you’re coming or not?” Dan asked in exasperation.

“It means that I’m staying here to cover for you.” Miko put his arm around Dan. “You’ll get a good headstart, boy. These raider buffoons will be so distracted that they won’t notice a shadoween rampaging through camp!”

“Thank you, Miko. You’re a good friend.”

“Darn right I am, boy!”

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