Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Najia's Sacrifice, Chapter One

Chapter One

                “By the Goddess, give me strength!” Tia exclaimed. Having already tasted her morning porridge, she knew that somehow Kender had replaced the sugar with salt again. Just like he had put itch weed in the batch of new soap she had made last week, and a garden snake in her bed the week before that.
                Sighing, she got up and went over to the pot, scraping the ruined porridge out of her bowl. Over the last six years, she had grown fond of the little Pixie, but sometimes it was hard to remember why she had been so excited by his birth.
She must have been momentarily touched in the head, she decided with a shake of her head. With a grin, she remembered the many escapades Kender had gotten himself into since their move to the Falkerie city.
                Some of the pranks had been funny, she admitted to herself. One of the many times Najia had been called before the council for being friends with Briam was probably her favorite. One of the Elders had taken an immediate disliking of Najia; apparently this very fact offended Kender. She smiled to remember the surprise of everyone in the room as they had watched the wisps of hair rise one by one to form a large horn, like a Unicorn’s, on the top of the Elder’s balding head. By the time Kender was done, every last hair stood straight in the air, twirled into the horn.
                Giggling, she recalled the mortification of the Elder when some poor Falkerie had entered the room, and had exclaimed her shock over his new hairdo. Placing a hand on his head, the Elder’s face had flamed in embarrassment as he fought to undo the horn. Unable to budge the ridiculous horn and unable to leave before the meeting was over; the Elder had glared at Kender for the remainder of the meeting.
Tia recalled the effort she had put into apologizing to the Elder, but privately, she was glad Kender had stood up for Najia when she could not. It made having him around a little bit easier when she was the butt of his pranks.
                Kender’s best and worst prank had been at Armond’s commencement ceremony. Right before Armond had knelt to accept his sword and position into the rank of the Elders, his ceremonial garment fell from his body, as all of the stitching magically disappeared. Armond had been naked underneath the garment, and to be fair it was a very cold day. Needless to say, the ladies had had a field day talking about how little they had seen.
In fact, they still whispered about that day whenever Armond walked down the street. That had been the final straw though, and in the end, Tia had been advised to leave Kender at home with Najia whenever possible.
                A loud sound broke Tia out of her reverie; a mother’s fear for her child froze her in place; it was the trumpets! The agreed signal that the Phoenix had arrived for Najia.
                “Najia!” Tia yelled as she ran for the stairs. The Phoenix were earlier than expected.
                She watched as Najia ran down the stairs hand in hand with Briam. The pair stopped at the bottom to embrace quickly.
                “Go, Briam!” Najia urged him. “I am ready! It will be okay!”
                “I love you!” Briam declared, as he quickly kissed her again before leaving her standing there, staring stupidly after him.
                “No time, Najia!” Tia shook Najia’s arm to get her attention, and looked her in the eye. “Are you ready?”
                “I don’t know. I think so.” She bit her bottom lip. “What if I am not?”
                “We need to stick to the plan, Najia!” Tia said quickly. “We can’t back out now!”
                Taking a deep breath, Najia smiled at her Mama, and nodded her head.
                Tears welled in Tia’s eyes as she gazed at her beautiful daughter. She was so proud of her, of how she had turned out. There was some fear too, but she had to believe this was a part of the Gods’ plan. Smiling into Najia’s bright blue eyes, Tia shook her head to realize her little girl was now an adult. She was on her path to destiny, and she couldn’t protect her from this.
                “We don’t have much time; they came quicker than we anticipated,” Tia glanced at the door. “Do you remember what I told you about Searing?”
                Najia nodded.
                “Good. Now as long as Kender remains hidden, they will have no clue how strong you are.” Tia smiled into her daughter’s eyes.
                The front door flew open, and the pair found themselves staring at a huge Phoenix man carrying an enchanted crossbow.
                “Outside. Now!” he ordered coldly.
                Following as he backed out the door, Najia knew this was it; this was what she had been born for. Her heart hammered a tattoo in her chest, and she willed herself to stay calm. It was the only way she was going to complete this task. Gasping suddenly, and nearly falling down just outside of her door, she knew her Seared was very close by. Wryly, she realized the protection of the house had stopped her from feeling his approach.
                “That is far enough,” the too large Phoenix man growled, keeping his crossbow trained on them.
Both women stopped, and exchanged glances. Najia risked a peek at Tia’s hand to reassure herself, and sighed with relief as Tia flashed the pink jewel a Unicorn had bestowed on her.
She returned her attention to the scene playing out before her. Looking up, she saw Pegasuses circling the area. There were a few Firebirds too, but most of the beasts circling overhead were Pegasuses with riders.
After only a few moments, she was spotted by one of the men overhead and a horn signaled that she had been found. It didn’t take long for the Pegasuses to begin to land in a large circle around her. One man jumped down to the ground and immediately approached Tia, hostility written all over his face.
“So it was a Druid!” He sneered in Tia’s face. “I hope you are prepared to die, woman.”
“Leave her alone!” Najia pushed Tia behind her, and faced the man down. “Who are you to judge her anyway?”
Looking the man up and down haughtily, she noted that he was tall for a Phoenix man, with the normal red hair and gray eyes. Her studies had taught her that all Phoenix had these same features, with only varying shades of the colors. But this Phoenix was truly a giant, and if his reaction to her challenge was any indication, he was obviously in charge.
Red faced, his hands curled into fists, the man growled to the others around him, “Find Cahal. Now! We will finish destroying this place after we kill the Druid.”
“No!” Tia pushed Najia out of her way, and fell to her knees before the Phoenix man. “They are all innocent! It is only me who is at fault! Please let me explain!”
“If that is how you chose to waste your final words.”
“Please understand, the Falkeries are innocent!” Tia rushed as fast as she could. “I told them that I had mated with a Falkerie man who had been wounded in an accident near my village a few years before I stole Najia-!”
“Her name is not Najia!” the man snapped at Tia. “Address her as Adara!”
“Adara!” Tia replied immediately. “There was a Falkerie man who never healed enough to make the journey back to their city around that time. I lied, and told them Adara was our love child. She looks enough like them that they believed me, and have kept us safe. They have protected her because they believed her to be one of their own. We aren’t in the city because they believed I was her mother and they couldn’t separate a child from her mother – a Druid cannot live within the city’s walls!”
“Send word to stop the fighting, and find out where the hell Cahal is!” The Phoenix man looked perplexed by Tia’s words as he addressed the warrior standing closest to him. “If you lie, Druid-!” he broke off, realizing there wasn’t a threat he could use, as she would be executed shortly.
Giving Najia an odd look, he ordered Tia to stand and face Adara.
Najia knew she didn’t want to see, but she also knew that she needed to know what the Phoenix people were capable of. Tears welled in her eyes as she watched the man walk up to his Pegasus, and pull an evil looking scimitar from its sheath.
“We all have our destinies,” Tia assured her softly, as the man grabbed her hair and pulled her head backwards.
Staring into Tia’s eyes, she couldn’t stop the feeling of absolute horror as she watched the man draw the blade of his sword across Tia’s neck. Blood spattered Najia’s clothing as she opened her mouth to stop him. The wind had been knocked from her body though, and she watched incredulously as the man turned Tia’s face to his, and kissed her. Still holding Tia’s now limp body up by her hair, he turned in circles and displayed the dead Druid for all to see.
“I have killed the Druid who stole the Chosen One from us!” he declared to the crowd of warriors that had gathered. Using his free hand, he felt up Tia’s limp body, and tore the robe from her. Laughing, he swung Tia into his arms and began dancing around, as the warriors laughed and egged him on. “Shall I place her on my sword, and introduce her to my instrument of death?” The crowd roared with approval.
“Have you no shame?” Najia choked out, as he spun to face her. “She is dead! Is that not good enough?”
“Oh, such a sweet little innocent!”  the man taunted. “Would it bother you if I fucked her dead body?”
“You are a disgusting, filthy murderer!” Najia screamed in his face, truly disturbed by what she was witnessing.
“I am willing to bet she is a better lay in death than she was in life.” The warriors all laughed at the crude joke.
“You are a disgusting pig!” Najia was truly pissed off, and she allowed her body to erupt into flames.
Dropping Tia, the man quickly backed away from her, his face becoming ashen.
“You are worthless compared to my Mama Tia, but I will take your soul anyhow!” Najia summoned a fireball to her hands, and felt a measure of satisfaction to see fear on the faces of the Phoenix warriors. “How does it go? Oh, yeah. A life for a life.” She grinned to see the shock on the man’s face as she incanted an old Phoenix law.
“You can’t use that!” he cried desperately. “You share no blood!”
“The Gods chose her as my mother two hundred years ago; my soul was founded in her womb.” Najia grinned evilly at him. “I believe I can.”
Holding the fireball over her head, she used her magic to launch the flames at the doomed man. Suddenly, everything seemed to move in slow motion as she watched the fireball hurl toward him. Regret gnawed in her heart as she realized she was anticipating his death in a way that made her no better than him. Knowing the man was a casualty of her destiny, she watched as the fireball exploded against his chest and sent him flying backwards into a group of warriors.
Dropping to her knees, Najia grabbed Tia’s hand and assured herself that the stone was still there. Concentrating on what they had done to Tia, she winced as a great cry went up. The warriors had discovered that their leader was truly dead.
She had already known that; the man was dead as soon as the fireball touched his chest. Najia bit her lip to keep herself from crying. She knew it would take time to really sink in that she had just killed a man. There was no going back.
Chanting over Tia’s body, Najia magically cast her body to the healers in the Falkerie city who were waiting. For the first time in years, Najia felt very vulnerable and alone. Passing her hand back and forth over the area where Tia had lain, she extinguished her flames. As the flames dissipated, and the smoke cleared, she became aware of the fact that she was circled by warriors who all had their backs turned to her; except one. With only vague surprise, Najia found herself looking into eyes as blue as her own.
“Hello, Adara,” the man greeted simply. “I’m Cahal.”
Staring into Cahal’s blue eyes, Najia felt confused, and oddly attracted by the man standing in front of her.
“My name is Najia,” she muttered, weakly as she rose to her feet, forgetting that she was now naked.
“You will not call yourself by that horrid name,” Cahal snarled suddenly. “I don’t care what the Druids named you. You are my Seared, my intended mate. I wasted years looking for you because of those fanatics. You are Adara, and it is time you became her.”
“I am Najia,” she repeated, wondering why her Seared had to be so handsome. Feeling weak and woozy because of how much energy she was using, Najia tried to keep her eyes focused on Cahal.
“You will not go around calling yourself by that Druid name!” he ordered her firmly. “Do you hear me?”
“Try to stop me,” she slurred, weaving on her feet.
“I will!” he snapped at her, before realizing that she had lost all color and was unsteady on her feet. “Are you all right, Adara?”
“I think I am going to be sick!” She gagged as she fell forward onto her knees.
Vomiting suddenly, Najia puked all over Cahal’s pants and the ground. Violent tremors shook her body, and she realized that she was probably a little in shock. Najia felt her muscles going slack as the light faded from her vision. Not really believing this was happening to her, Najia passed out.


Copyright © 2012 Elly Mae Helcl
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof
may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever
without the express written permission of the publisher
except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

As always, if you are interested in purchasing this book, you can do so at Amazon. There is a carousel in the left corner of my page with the links.

No comments:

Post a Comment