Know Thy Enemy

31 DaysDay 11: EVIL {the prompt follows at the end of this post}

{start}

Know Thy Enemy

The sunlight filtered through the forest ceiling and dusted the lush leaves with golden hues that highlighted the start of red, orange and yellow along the edges of the green leaves and carried with it the cooler weather coming over the mountains. Rawiyah stopped and stood collecting the golden light in deep breaths, the wind whispering its secrets in her ears. Rawiyah has learned early on that the wind held the powerful secrets of all creatures because it moved more freely than any creature. If one were open to its movements and its presence, if one listened carefully, she knew that one could discover many wonderful things.

Rawiyah smiled as the wind rustled her tunic playfully and loosed tendrils of hair from the loose knot of hair she’d piled quickly at the back of her head. She turned back to her duties, carefully selecting the reddest, ripest berries for her sister’s tarts. As she gently piled up the berries she could practically taste the delicate pastry and the sweet-but-slightly-tart raspberry filling melting on her tongue. She placed the last of the berries she could fit in her basket just as the wind shifted abruptly. Rawiyah froze, attune to the warnings of the colder feel of the wind and the tremor of the trees.

Grigor, Rawiyah thought. He must be on the move after all this time.

Rawiyah dropped her basket of berries and ran as swiftly as her long legs would carry her through the forest. As she drew near the Village of Rohn, she caught her breath. Smoldering piles of ash stood in the place where huts and wagons once were. Carefully, Rawiyah picked her way through the ruins of gardens and scattering of belongings, pots and pans, woven woolen blankets, iron tools, overturned wheelbarrows, shredded and muddied clothes. All of it appeared to have been trampled by several sets of heavily shoed hooves.

Grigor, Rawiyah thought again and shuddered. She hurried on in the direction of her own Village and was met halfway along the path by the stream by her younger sister, Kyna. Kyna threw herself into her sister’s open arms and held her tightly around the neck, choking back sobs.

“Shhhhhhhh,” Rawiyah whispered into her sister’s raven curls. “I’m here. I’m here. I’ve got you, dear heart.”

“Oh, Rawiyah, it was dreadful,” Kyna said when they finally separated. Rawiyah slipped her hand into Kyna’s.

“It was Grigor?” Rawiyah asked and her sister nodded.

Both girls glanced down the path in the direction from which Kyna had come.

“We should travel through the forest growth,” Rawiyah said, gently pulling her sister along behind her.

“Where will we go?” Kyna asked.

“We’ll need shelter for the night,” Rawiyah said and moved more confidently than she felt through the thickets and thickening trees. “We will seek the help of Zaniel.”

Kyna froze. “Zaniel? Is that wise?”

Rawiyah smoothed her sister’s curls. “It is all we can do. He is our only possible ally and refuge.”

Although Rawiyah meant to start through the forest once more, Kyna did not move, her feet rooted to the very dirt beneath her feet. Rawiyah took both of her sister’s hands in hers and her gaze strong and confident as she looked into Kyna’s earthy brown eyes. “You must trust me, dear heart. Can you do that? Can you do that for me right now?”

“Yes.” Kyna’s voice seemed small in the deep and growing dusk that draped over the two girls.

“Come,” Rawiyah said. “There is not much time.”

In the distance they heard the thundering of horses’ hooves and Rawiyah knew by the whispers and waywardness of the wind that Grigor was heading for the Abbey of Bellmead, the heart of all Truth and Knowledge. If Grigor were somehow able to locate the heart of the their existence, Rawiyah knew that all who lived in the Realm of Glasshollow would be enslaved evermore on until eternity according to the lore of King Tiernan.  And Rawiyah knew what they, what she, needed to do if they were to save the Realm of Glasshollow. With care and haste, she wove their way through the darkly shadowed forest toward its deepest core and toward Zaniel.

When Kyna stumbled in the darkness behind her, Rawiyah paused only briefly. “Come, dear one, we are not far now.”

A few minutes later the trees thinned out and Rawiyah and Kyna stood at the edge of clearing with a low wall of hedgerow starting a few feet beyond that was progressively taller the further around the clearing it went.

“The labyrinth,” Kyna whispered. Her voice trembled in the stillness.

Before Rawiyah could respond, Zaniel appeared before them in full armor, his large form menacing in the bare scrape of moonlight that fell across his chest. Rawiyah could feel Kyna shaking beside her and she squeezed her sister’s hand, conveying what little comfort she could offer in the small gesture.

“I have been awaiting your arrival.” Zaniel’s voice resonated deeply, almost kindly, in striking contrast to his armored presence.

“My Lord, we seek refuge within your mighty stronghold,” Rawiyah said.

“And, you are willing to sacrifice accordingly of your own accord.”

Kyna looked at her sister, but Rawiyah stared only ahead at Zaniel. “Yes, my Lord,” she said.

“Very well.” Zaniel raised a gloved hand in the air and several warriors stepped out from the shadows. “Remove the girl,” Zaniel ordered them.

“No, Rawiyah,” Kyna held fast to her sister. “I’ll not let them take you.”

“I’m sorry, Kyna,” Rawiyah whispered, and kissed her sister upon the cheek as two warriors stood on either side of Kyna and moved her toward the shadows.

“Rawiyah?”

“And so the deal is made,” Rawiyah said to Zaniel. “We will talk strategy over dinner.”

{stop}

{Just a reminder, we try to keep these writing exercises to 30 minutes maximum, but that’s not a hard and fast rule. And I will say that in order to keep my writing within the 15 to 30 minute time, I have created a playlist on Spotify that allows me to put together songs that come close to 30 minutes. When the final note plays on the last song…I stop writing.}

Writing Prompt: EVIL – write a fragment of a story about a villain who gets away with a serious and perhaps brutal crime and enjoys the fruits of his crime (or simply enjoys the fact that nothing happens after this crime. Consider that crime is often an act of envy). Love this character and try to make him at least somewhat lovable to your reader. {Exercise 29 from The 3 A.M. Epiphany: Uncommon Writing Exercises that Transform Your Fiction by Brian Kiteley. Note, this is an affiliate link}

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2 thoughts on “Know Thy Enemy

  1. These all feel like an excerpt from an already existing novel. Like I opened a page of a book to see what was in it and landed on a random page. This one reminded me of the Never-ending Story with Gmork who was chasing Atreyu. With a twist of LOTR.

    • judith heaney says:

      That’s a pretty high compliment. Thank you.

      This prompt about evil gave me pause because I did not want to write anything realistic, you know? So I decided to create a whole different realm and create an evil character whose evil fit their world.

      Thank you for reading every day.

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