Chapter 1 - AND CARRY ON
Boh dragged his fingers across the blackened surface and felt pain tear at his heart. The land was no longer the soft colors that one might expect for the beginnings of winter, then again, this was still a land that he did not know very well. Death and rebirth are common themes at that time of year; yet not this way. Dane's triumph had begun to taint the land outside the boundaries of the faun's fortress, something that they had expected. It seemed so unreal to actually be happening. The progression of darkness had been slowed by the great powers of many witches working on their individual areas, and bands of warriors fighting further hoards that supported the opposing side.
The wraiths were making a slow path for their masters - the wraith-makers. To do this they were being sacrificed against the wall of witch power. It was a hard thing to maintain and, as yet, the phoenix was not to join the fight. It had been voted by their council that the threat had not truly manifested itself yet and when it did, then they would, perhaps, join. Until then the phoenix remained outside the woes of the earth beings where they could. No amount of arguing or attempts at persuasion could move the queen and her council on their decision. Only those beings that could offer a hand up to aid in the fight had volunteered their services.
Still, even after the word had been spread of the wraith-makers forcing their way free of their bindings, not many beings thought much of this. It was even now regarded by most as only the alarmist attitude of a few that preached the possible end of the world and that stayed near the faun's fortress. Many witches even had ignored the impatient words of Uncle Dale and Mrs. Lennox when trying to explain the situation to them. Others had joined the forces now gathering at the front. Entire families had been relocated to the Grillion elf's forest and plains beyond, camping amongst human clans friendly with the other world beings cause, to maintain their hidden society.
Mrs. and Mr. Witcombe had been two of witches that had joined them at the forest, along with Mr. Pierce, Boh's father, and April and May's tiny mother, Mrs. Firy. By name, Mrs. Firy was by nature. She may have been a rather petite, well-groomed being, but she was not about to be pushed around or escorted by any of the bigger, seemingly harder warriors that had also come to the call of Boron and his many men. In truth, Boh could see that Mrs. Firy needed no more protection than the centaur Gaheris, who seemed to be possibly the most commanding of all the warriors in the gathering.
Now, Alesha Firy might sound a bit of a handful, however, she also managed to make herself the most ladylike of all women in camp. From one of the richest and most respected houses in the district of Marree, Mrs. Firy was raised with all the skills that made a lady a lady. It was a secret as to how this most proper of witches had learnt all the warrior arts that she seemed now to exhibit with perfect precision. Even her two daughters seemed amazed by the woman that they had only known to have been - well, proper. Revealing recently, by accident, a tattoo on her arm that encircled her upper bicep with a twist of design. A surprise that had stunned April and May and bought the rest of the close friends to utter words similar to what a cool mother.
"What are you doing out here?"
The words woke Boh out of his near dream state. In his mind, the image of April with her jolly, beaming grin, folded in on itself and faded into the reality that surrounded him. He smiled and considered what to say for a second, then went on with the truth. "I was thinking about how April and May are still acting oh so shocked at their mother's tattoo. Do you think that they will ever recover?" He grinned, broadly, these last words at his father.
"I suppose we all think that our parents are simply our parents and cannot think of them possibly being anything but that. Eventually we get beyond it." Mr. Pierce paused for a moment. "Don't we?"
This was a question for Boh, and he knew what was meant by it. His father was asking whether everything was alright between them, as he had never told Boh of his witch heritage when he was young. Boh nodded and looked back to the blackened stump he had been sitting near. "Why is the cause being ignored?"
"I think that most beings, especially witches, think that there is always someone else that will clean up the mess, so why should they run themselves out into a land that had been ignored for the last two or three hundred years. Only the beings and humans that live as their ancestors did have any idea of the spread of this land. The nearest town, otherwise, is more than five days' travel by horse in that direction." He nodded his head toward the north. Mr. Pierce sat down near his son. "No one comes here unless they have to, and then, usually, only because they are on the run for some reason." Mr. Pierce smiled and nudged Boh. "It is sort of funny really, as the humans believe that this land, this once beautiful forest, is cursed and a merciless land."
Boh humphed. There was a pause for a time. "Gordon's mother arrives today. Apparently she is coming from the far eastern ranges and she is bringing with her two of her sisters and a few other clan members. It is going to be interesting."
"Why is that?" Mr. Pierce seemed confused.
"I have never met an Edetornian."
"What about Gordon?" Mr. Pierce asked, "And Josephine. She is not an Edetornian, still she is a Cyclops. The biggest difference between an Edetornian and a Cyclops is the fact that a Cyclops has only one eye and the Edetornians generally have two."
"Yes. I suppose you are right."
"I have to go and take over the shift of your uncle's, nonetheless it would be important for you to remember that Gordon has not seen his mother for nearly ten years and presumed that she was, well, you know." Mr. Pierce stood and looked at Boh with eyebrows raised until he nodded. "It will be more difficult for him than it is for you and should be aware of that." Again Boh nodded. "Very well, I am off then." And with those words he was gone.
Boh raised himself, deciding that he should fly back toward the settlement that had been made, but he did not want yet to join them completely and landed himself near a log in a thick area of forest. It was a little dark, even though it was midday, then again he did not mind and he sat down while adjusting his neck which was giving him a little trouble of late. It was then that thoughts of the conversation that he had been having with his father popped back into his head. Most of all, Gordon. He had to admit to himself that he had not thought about how it was for Gordon, who had indeed thought his mother to have died - not that he had ever been told such things, however he had assumed it to have been so. His mother had been very sick and was told that she would not survive the illness, so he was sent to his uncle's house to live. Gordon had been convinced that he was either by now an orphan or very close to it.
A large rat came running along the ground and stopped itself just at the feet of Boh. He looked down at it and pulled a face. This was not a proper rat, instead it was an agouti that had probably been abandoned by its goblin master. Wraiths and wraith-makers have no use for such creatures, so ground creatures were mostly left to come and go as they pleased, ignored by all. This did not however mean that they had a desire to stay in the vicinity and have such neighbors as those that now dwelled in the faun's fortress and were doing as they were.
Boh, though he did not particularly like such creatures, he no longer feared them as over the last few months many had left the forbidden area on mass; in fact, most had tried to get themselves right out of the forest. That is rather odd, Boh thought and then voiced to the rat, "I have not seen any of your kind in over three weeks." Then, going against all that he might have otherwise seen as sensible, he reached down to pat the rodent.
"Not likely you will for a while either," the agouti said.