Two Children, an Enchanter, and Three Horsemen; Chapter 9

Fiction By Teal // 2/24/2009

Chapter 9

The next two days passed uneventfully. The children had spent the first night under a clear sky, but as they ascended the mountain, the temperature dropped. A chill wind now whistled around them, and the second night, they were obliged to sleep in a shelter that Will made out of pine branches.
The third day was the most grueling by far. Not only were the children’s feet sore and bruised, but now a cold breeze nipped at their faces and chapped their lips. Andrija hiked on and on ceaselessly, but Will and Jane would hike, then rest, and trudge on once more.
Worst of all, they seemed to not make any progress at all. The flowing grass had given way to endless evergreen woods, and though the children marched on, they never seemed to get anywhere. The trees around them never changed, the dirt path never ended.
At the end of the third day, the children were exhausted. They slept as though dead, and in the morning of the fourth day were so stiff, sore, and grumpy that Andrija took pity on them and slowed her pace to suit theirs.
In the early afternoon, they saw scattered heaps of snow about. By mid-afternoon, they were crunching along in a white forest, the trees laden with heavy burdens of sparkling snow.
The wind howled on.
* * *
The man in black sat upon the silver throne and eyed the three horsemen with eyes dark and hard as obsidian.
“We have come, O Enchanter, to you, for you are the Great Ruler over us all. You are the Mighty King,” Blancshoyc spoke in a smooth tone.
The man sat forward, and his black eyes gleamed. “Spare me your flattery, Blancshoyc. Have you found the children?”
Blancshoyc’s ice blue eyes wavered. “Yes…and…no…”
“What do you mean?” The Enchanter leapt to his feet and rose to his full height. His voice was harsh and cold.
“We have found the children, Milord, in the Northern Woods. But we did not capture them, for before we could, the Hermit (a thousand curses upon his name) hid them in the wretched forest of his. I know not now where they are, for it has been many days since we left the Northern Woods for your capital city to inform you of our progress.”
There was silence for a moment. Then:
“Progress?” It came as softly as a cat’s purr. “Progress?” This time it came in the roar of an enraged lion. “You have made no progress. I will have the Book. Fools! Fools! Two children could outwit you!” His evil face crinkled into a malevolent leer. “I will give you a month to find the children, men. I will give you a month to find the Book and bring it to me. Then I shall find the Diadem of Power.” His eyes gleamed, and he suddenly turned to the horsemen with a final warning. “If you fail me…let us say that your death will be slow…and your agony great…” His voice trailed off into a whisper.
Blancshoyc gritted his teeth and bowed low before the Enchanter. “We will find the children, Milord, or perish.”
Marshivoc and the skeletal rider bowed low behind him.
“Begone from my sight! All of you! Now!” The Enchanter screamed.
The guards beside his throne came at the horsemen with their spears, and the horsemen leapt to their feet and left the hall.
The Enchanter sat back on his throne, and his dark eyes were full of malice. “They will find those children and bring me the book that I might know the great mystery of where the Diadem of Power lies… Then I shall kill them. I shall kill them all.”

* * *
“I can’t go a step further. I can’t!” wailed Jane, sitting down in the snow. Her tennis-shoes were soaked from hiking in the deep snowdrifts, her lips were blue, and her eyes were filling with tears.
Will threw his pack onto the ground. “Me either. I’m so tired and cold. We have been hiking all day long. We need to rest.”
Only Andrija remained calm. “Rest? Rest where? Will, Jane, look around you. We are nearing the end of this forest. Perhaps there will be shelter beyond it. Maybe we can get out of this wind.” She smiled encouragingly at them.
Will hefted his pack, and Jane sat up, rubbing the tears out of her green eyes. “Do you really think so?”
Andrija shivered as the wind came in a powerful gust. It whistled through the pine trees.
“Look!” Will cried, pointing ahead of them. “I saw a house!”
“A h-house?” Jane stuttered. “A house on this m-mountain? You’re s-seeing things, W-will.”
“No, really! I do see a h-house. A b-big house! It is dark grey and over there, b-beyond those trees to our right.”
Jane looked where he was pointing, and sure enough, there was a great house in a clearing. It rose imposingly over the pine trees and had many dark windows. A great chimney rose from the tip of the roof and great billows of smoke came from it. A snowy path led to the tall intimidating door of the house.
“Let’s g-go and s-stay there for the night,” Will said. “I-It’s better than staying out here in the cold.”
“Yes!” cried Jane. “It will be w-warm. Surely the people there will n-not refuse us.”
Andrija alone remained skeptical. “I don’t know, Jane. I never knew of a house being on this mountain. I have always firmly believed- and still do, that nothing on this mountain is good. How do we know that the owners of this house are not enemies?”
Will sighed in exasperation. “Can’t you see that we will die out h-here? Look at Jane. She can’t last another night out here in the c-cold.”
Andrija looked at the ground, her large blue eyes worried. “I…I don’t know what to do, Will. Have it your way. But I’d really rather not go near that house…it looks dark and uninviting.”
Will and Jane had not stayed behind to listen to her, however, but were hurrying along the snowy path to the door of the house. Will knocked three times and Jane stood on the doorstep, shivering now with anxiety and cold. Andrija came up behind them and waited for what seemed like eternity for the door to open.
There was a ghastly click and the door slowly swung open. The children froze on the step. Slowly, a thin, angular face peered around the door. The man’s eyes flickered over their faces for a long moment and then lit up with surprise.
“Why! Ford, I do believe we have visitors,” he called as he swung the door open and gestured for the children and Andrija to come inside.
Jane looked around her. They were in a great dim hall with an enormous chandelier hanging overhead. The walls of the hall were bare and the floor was of cold marble.
Andrija shivered. This house was just as uninviting inside as it was from the outside.
The very tall, thin man gave a half-smile as if he did not smile very often. “Welcome, welcome to this house,” he purred, his fingers picking distractedly at a button on his woolen sweater. “I do hope that you will stay the night here, out of the cold.” He gave his lopsided smile again.
Though Will thought the man looked sinister, he nodded his head. “If you don’t mind, Mr…”
“Ruther.”
“Mr. Ruther, if you don’t mind, we would very much like to stay for the night, for it is very cold out and we could not find decent shelter for miles,” Will finished.
Mr. Ruther smiled ingratiatingly and rubbed his hands together. “Fine, just fine. Please do. But I really must know your names and your purpose for hiking this mountain so late in the year with only few provisions.”
Andrija shot a look at Jane and Will. “I am Isabella Grey,” she told him, smiling sweetly. “And these children are my brother and sister, Thomas and Dorothy. We are…taking a dare. You see, a few weeks ago, our distant cousin bet twenty raeves that we could not hike the whole mountain in two weeks. We set off in a hurry, as you can probably tell, judging by our skimpy provisions. But seeing how cold it is up here, we have decided to return to the valley tomorrow morning and give up the dare. It was a foolish thing, anyway.”

Mr. Ruther fixed Andrija with a crafty eye. “I see,” he murmured after a moment. “And I must introduce you to my brother, Ford.” He pointed to the children’s right, and they turned.
There stood the fattest man Jane had ever seen in her life. His fluffy beard and unruly whiskers caused his face to seem droll at first, but then she looked into his eyes and saw only distrust and cruelty.
Nevertheless, he managed a bow and said in a very deep voice, “I hope you enjoy your stay, my dears.” Then he chuckled loudly, waddled down the hall, and disappeared down a corridor.
Mr. Ruther giggled nervously. “Please do not mind him. He lives in his own world nowadays. A bit touched in the head, you see… But I must show you your chambers.”
He led them down a musty hall and escorted Andrija and Jane into a dark apartment. A great canopy bed lay in the center of the room with wooden legs carved into dragon’s claws and a bronze chandelier hanging above it. Will’s room was next door to the girls’ room and it was also dark and stale-smelling.
Jane was going to change into a soft robe that Andrija had packed for sleeping, but Andrija stopped her.
“Sleep in your clothes.”
“Why?”
“It is always best to be cautious when you do not know whether your host is a friend or an enemy.”
Jane slipped into the adjoining room to tell this to Will, and then returned to her room and crawled into the dusty bed. The thick woolen sheets were scratchy, but she curled up in a warm ball next to the older girl and fell asleep instantly.

Comments

Not only are the horsemen

Not only are the horsemen evil, they're cowards. If I have to have an enemy, he should at least be honorable. Unfortunately, most enemies aren't that way. I almost like the enchanter better. Except that he's having other people do his dirty work, and then killing them. It's like Captain Kidd. Can't say I exactly trust those guys on the mountain. Great chapter!

"When reality sucks, try insanity." - Unknown

Bridget | Thu, 04/23/2009

"I always wonder why birds stay in the same place when they can fly anywhere on the earth. Then I ask myself the same question." - Harun Yahya

I like this chapter!

I like this chapter! And I have a sneaky suspicion that those people that they are staying with are, well let's just say... evil??? Am I right?
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"Their most active years are the first six months"--Old Fashioned Girl, referring to cats.

Kendra | Mon, 04/27/2009

<>/\<>/\<>/\<>/\<>/\<>/\<>/\<>/\<>/\<>/\<>/\<>/\
"Are you sure this water is sanitary? It looks questionable to me! But what about bacteria?"--Tantor the elephant from Tarzan.

Your "sneaky suspicion" is

Your "sneaky suspicion" is quite correct. :)

~ Teal

Teal | Mon, 04/27/2009

YAY!

Yay, my sneaky suspicion is correct!
-------------------------------------------------
"Their most active years are the first six months"--Old Fashioned Girl, referring to cats.

Kendra | Mon, 04/27/2009

<>/\<>/\<>/\<>/\<>/\<>/\<>/\<>/\<>/\<>/\<>/\<>/\
"Are you sure this water is sanitary? It looks questionable to me! But what about bacteria?"--Tantor the elephant from Tarzan.

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