“You need to leave NOW!” The words resonated in my ears, bringing with them a throbbing headache. I pressed onward, running swiftly down the tiny path. It could have passed for a deer trail, but I knew it like the back of my hand. The moonlit my way and, if I didn’t know where I was headed, I’d have missed the faint trail that abruptly split off from the main path I’d been traveling on. I darted down the trail and refused to glance behind me. If someone had been watching me, they would have probably thought I was out of my mind the way I was running. A wry grin slipped onto my face and just as quickly disappeared as I remembered what had happened only a few hours before. I scowled…. I knew he was going to get himself killed. I skidded to a halt as a small cabin emerged out of the glade of the forest.
The cabin was old and appeared to be abandoned. Of course, that had been the idea when we had built it. Ever since the invasion, those of us who had managed to survive had developed different ways to remain hidden. However, due to recent events, we had needed to….make some changes to the way we concealed our headquarters. After making sure no one was around and watching, I opened the old creaking door and slipped inside.
If anyone had come inside with me, they would have probably run right back out. I have to admit; it looked like a haunted house. Spider webs were everywhere, and layers of dust coated the broken furniture. I cursed under my breathe in the ancient tongue. Then I walked into the backroom, pulled a book part-way from the shelf. The shelf slid over to the right side, revealing a dark passageway. I slipped inside while pulling the book again. The shelf started to move back into place, and anyone looking at the shelf wouldn’t have been able to tell that anything had moved at all.
“Lig lasair a bheith ann,” I murmured, and a small flame appeared flickering above my hand. I padded down the passageway silently yet hurriedly. There was a door at the end, and when I came to it, I knocked. Twice, paused, once, paused again, then rapped three times on the door. The door unlocked and opened soundlessly. Inside there was a dimly lit room, and I waved my hand and closed it. The flame disappeared.
“Ashilah!” I called out softly, a few moments later, and I heard the faint footsteps of her approach, her jet black hair streaming behind her.
“Your back,” the sixteen-year-old said happily, “Where is-?”
“He’s gone,” I cut her off,” His sacrifice…. Let us not let it be without value.”
A moment of silence passed as Ashilah, and I grieved for our lost comrade silently. However, we both knew we had work to do. We needed to continue, complete the work, the mission, we had started.
“I’m going to my quarters. I’ll be back in a few hours.” I nodded towards Ashilah as I swept past her, an intent look settled on my face. She nodded meekly and hurried off to continue whatever I had interrupted.
Once I reached the solitude and isolation my quarters provided me; I sat against the wall. I buried my face in my hands, and a single tear leaked from my eye. I wiped it away, and the tear almost burned as it had rolled down my cheek. Then I glared. That’s quite enough Llyiera! I scolded myself silently. You’re 18 now. You’ve been through enough now to realize it won’t get any better. It’ll only get worse. Now pick yourself up and get to work!
I got up off the floor and went over to my desk. “Fosgail mo dhuilleag agus tòisich a 'clàradh.” My journal appeared and waited to record what I was about to say. “ Today was successful… but not without sacrifice.” My voice broke as the word, sacrifice, left my lips. I cleared my throat and continued.
“My brave and honourable comrade has fallen. Killed during our mission.” I paused and took a deep breath. “Nathan was not only my brother at arms, but he was also one of my closest friends. I will miss him dearly….But even though he is gone, I will continue to press onward. I will complete our goal and bring peace and order back to my planet. The resistance will not fall to ruin! WE WILL SUCCEED!” I flicked my hand outward and to my right, “Clàradh deireannach.” The recording ended, and my journal disappeared.
I clenched my fists. I won't let his death be in vain. Remembering how on his last mission, the mission I had just returned from, he had told me to run, to reach safety while he battled countless Invaders. And I had obeyed him! I had run away from the fight. Me, Llyiera Ashatay, known by many as the Blade of Blood, and as a daughter of that house. I was a ferocious lion who would not turn and flee from the sight of battle, but who would relish the thought and be the first to join the fight…. But things are different now. I sighed heavily. All the death and destruction I have had to endure, it is worth any sacrifice I must make to gain my life and my world, and to return my planet back to normal again.
“What is wrong with me? Who have I become?”
I spoke the words around but didn't care. I was in my quarters, and the walls did not have ears. It was safe to say what I wanted.
I cleaned up and changed into more comfortable clothing, before going back to the meeting room. Even though I was home, I chose to remain with my weapons. We were going to need to plan our next course of action, and I wanted to be alert and ready for anything.
Some people think that the resistance I'm apart of is useless. But they are wrong. We must succeed for we have no other choice. Our choice is to either let our world fall to ruin and be taken as slaves... Or fight.
The thoughts circulated my brain like a tornado.
“Ashilah! Please come to the meeting room when you can,” I called as I passed her quarters. I didn’t wait for a response and made my way down the hallway and into the meeting room. I stared at the large table. I had a map rolled out and different pieces all over it. Some marked battle positions, others marked troop and supply movements. My left hand gripped the corner of the table. So many have fallen...We won’t last much longer unless we gain some victories. Our loses are too great.
Ashilah came in then, and I pushed my worries to the back of my mind. As High General, only I knew the real state of things. Ashilah was Second now that Nathan was gone. It was time she knew how things were. It was time to reveal my plan to her.
“Ashilah, thanks for coming quickly.”
“Of course, Llyiera.” She was only sixteen, but she had the mind of someone several times her age. She was the youngest general our nation had ever had.
“I’m going to tell you this bluntly. I don’t know any other way.” I began. She nodded understandingly. “I’ve been thinking of infiltrating the enemy….”
“Llyiera No!” A horrified look spread across her face. “You know what they’ll do if your caught!”
“It’s a risk I’m willing to take.”
“But what about us, the resistance? We need your leadership!” Ashilah protested.
“Ashilah, we both know you are just as knowledgeable as I am when it comes to leadership,” I said kindly. I knew that what I was saying was hard for her to hear.
She sat quietly for a few minutes, clasping and unclasping her hands in her lap.
“I’ll miss you, Llyiera.” She spoke softly and hesitantly like she couldn’t believe what she was saying. “When will you head out?”
I pondered the question for a moment then, “As soon as I can get my things together.”
She only nodded.
“We won’t last much longer unless we act now, Ashilah. You know this, look at the table, and show me that I am wrong.” I pressed gently.
“I know… but still. I don’t want you to go.” Her voice broke, and I knew she was close to tears.
“You may go now, Ashi.” I hadn’t used her childhood nickname in ages, and I hoped it would help her cope with me leaving.
She paused at the door. Without looking back, she said, “Llyiera, my elder sister….. Take care and come home one day.” With that, she fled from my presence.
I meandered slowly down the hallways on my way back to my quarters to pack my things. I paused at the door of Ashilah’s quarters, and as I was about to knock on the door when I heard quiet sobbing coming from the other side. I lowered my hand and kept walking.
After making sure I had everything I needed from my room, I made my way to the storeroom. I raised my hand and shoved forward then down in a counterclockwise motion. “Fosgail an trannsa agam.” I threw my stuff into what looked like empty air. My stuff disappeared. Now, whenever I want to get my things, I’ll just pull it from the storage dimension. Ahh… feels way lighter. Now I don’t have to carry everything with me. I smiled.
I heard a noise and whirled around, Ashilah stood in the doorway. In her hands was a parcel. She stepped towards me and offered me the gift. Taking it gingerly, I asked, “What is it?”
“Open and see for yourself, Lia.” She grinned at me, and I smiled back. ‘Lia’ was the first name she ever called me. It was when she was little and couldn’t pronounce everything. As she got older, the term became her favorite nickname for me.
I tore open the package and saw a long, black curved dagger with intricate marking engraved along the blade. Without really reading them, I knew the runes on the dagger meant that a spell had been cast on it when it was made. What startled me was that I recognized the blade. It had been my mother’s prized dagger. After she died, I assumed it had been lost forever, because no one could find it.
“How did you find this?” I gasped.
“I didn’t find it. The night mom died, she asked me to give it to you when the time was right. I asked her when that would be, and she said I’d know. And now, I believe with a deep conviction that now is the time for you to have it.”
Ashilah’s words were like a knife to my heart. At the same time, I was shocked. “I have always wondered where it may have gone. I gave up hope when the invasion took place.”
Ashilah nodded in understanding. “Of all the things I kept close, Mom’s dagger was the closet. It was her dying wish that you have this. And nothing was going to stop that from happening.”
I sheathed the dagger and strapped it onto my belt. Then I stepped forward and hugged my sister. “I will always keep it close,” I promised her. “Farewell, sister. Take car,e and stay alive.”
“Stay safe and see you again, Sister,” she replied.
With that, I walked out the door and didn’t look back. I looked forward because whatever happened, I was going to succeed.