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A Note about NaNoWriMo: Despite the joy and the draw of this story, my writing efforts have been quite often derailed by life and motherhood. There is still perhaps an opportunity to complete the story, to reach 50,000 words and to meet this personal goal. However, no matter what happens in the pursuit of winning NaNoWriMo by finishing 50,000 words, Willow and Poppy have grown too dear to my writer’s heart for me not to follow them to the end of their adventure. And, so, here is more of there journey.

Greed and Power

Without hesitation she turned to the back of the book, seeking to see what illustrations were included in the way of the rest of her journey and was disappointed to find that there were no paintings in the final chapters of the book. She turned to the words, hoping that she would find something to which she could cling, something that would offer her some sense of what came next, but it was nothing more than the familiar story. But the story must hold some meaning, she thought.

“You cannot see what has not yet been written.” It was Judah’s voice from just outside the mouth of the cave where she sat.

“This book is about me?” said Willow.

“That book is about truth,” Judah told her. “It is about what is happening and as for what has yet to be, it is about principles and hope.”

“My mother,” she began.

“What you suspect is true, young Willow,” Judah replied.

“I do not understand,” Willow said.

“You do not yet understand,” said Judah. “But the time is coming when you will see what you cannot see in this moment.”

“Surely the Elders knew the true cause of my mother’s death,” said Willow, “and yet they said nothing. They did nothing.”

“Fear is not the only factor that motivates men,” Judah said. “There is also greed and power.”

And with those words, Judah left her.

Willow let the words, greed and power wander around inside her mind as she recalled the Elders who guided her village in its daily happenings, and she considered each one in light of the idea of greed and power. She wondered how greed and power influenced a group of men entrusted with the well-being of entire populations and their course in life and community.  What more power could they require, she wondered, but it did not take too long for her to consider the power that the angels of darkness offered such smaller, lesser men. Her mind’s eye pictured each of the men that she had grown up with in her village, each one participating in the festivals around the fire and sharing stories or those who gathered each year for the Ceremony of the Fates.

Her mother had been such a gentle spirit and had been adored by everyone in the villages, not just their own, but in all of the surrounding villages as well. How could the elders have allowed the angels of darkness to take her away for nothing more than her love of her daughter, her love of Willow. Willow’s breath caught in her throat as she considered the idea that she was in some way responsible for her mother’s death. Her mother’s face appeared inside her mind and she felt weepy with the loss of her mother’s gentle spirit and love. Her sadness turned quickly to anger as she considered her mother’s funeral, the outpouring of sadness from the village, including the Elders. She considered how the Elders dared to feign such sadness and loss though clearly some of them were a part of the conspiracy that resulted in her death.

She squeezed her eyes closed and drove the images from her mind. She had too much information that she still needed to review before morning. She turned to Poppy’s book Beyond the Legend and left her mother’s journal for another time, perhaps tomorrow morning or perhaps later. She could not bring herself to consider her mother’s warning, the secret message her mother had obviously painstakingly created within the pages of her journal and she wondered what the truth was. Was it Poppy or was it something else?

With tired and weary eyes, she picked up Poppy’s book and began to thumb through the pages, wondering where she fit in to its story. For a moment she considered waking her friend who knew the story of this book so much better than she, but decided that she would do well to read the pages herself, scanning through some of the detail to discover what she might about her role in this battle against the angels of darkness. She could not recall any part of the story in the book that involved angels of darkness and hoped that her efforts were not a waste of time. She wondered briefly what her mother would tell her to do if she sat here beside Willow in this cave: would her time be better spent sleeping or reading?

With little else to go on but her instinct, Willow chose to read at least some of the book in hope of discovering at least some semblance of help for her journey. She held the book in her hands and decided to let it fall open where it may. With it open in her lap she peered down at the passage on the pages in her lap and began to read.

Kiera looked out over the horizon and steadied herself for the journey. Her mind swirled with too much information and she could not discern which of it to believe and so she chose to take all of it at its word. In the darkness she sought the speaker of Truth but she found him not and so she opted instead for whatever instinct she could muster in light of the challenges set before her. Despite the dire circumstances, young Kiera smiled and found that she uncovered a confidence that she had not expected and she stood boldly facing the darkness before her. Up until now she had traveled by the light of the day, but tonight, she steeled herself to head boldly into the night and to face down her doubts and fears.

Above her she saw the shadow of the beast as it flew back and forth above her in the light of the moon. It cast an ominous shadow and its presence caused Kiera to tremble, but she refused to be lowed into fear and doing nothing. She watched as the dragon-like figure circled above her and drew closer to the ground where she stood. Though she was sure that it could destroy her in a single breath of its fire, it did little but circle above her in the night, reflecting the light of stars that shimmered in the distance.

Kiera walked slowly and steadily, her hand poised upon her sword and her eyes upon the circling dragon of darkness.

Willow paused in her reading and looked to the sky, expecting to see a dark figure circling overhead and her breath caught when she saw a winged figure cast a shadow against the moon. For several moments she sat, holding her breath and watching the figure loop through the sky. She wondered how far away it was and if it knew she was bedded down in this cave. She squeezed her eyes shut and took a moment to picture things that gave her joy and when she opened her eyes once more she saw nothing above her in the sky. She turned her focus back to the book.

The eyes of the dragon glowed a fiery green against the darkness of the night and the moon gave its scales and its wings a luminescent shimmer. Kiera stood firm beneath its circling figure, her sword now ready in her hand. Behind her she heard the deep breathing of yet another darkened figure, but she dared not flinch. Instead she stood ready for either of the dark figures to draw near, her heart never missing a beat as she watched with her feet firmly planted and her courage steeled against whatever danger threatened.

Willow grew weary and found that she could read no further. She acquiesced that the book indeed told her tale as well as Kiera’s and she hunkered down into her blankets, her best friend barely a breath away and her thoughts circling far above with the angels and the stars. She stared into the heavens and sought the One who had called it all together, including herself and the angels of darkness. Certainly, she thought, the Ruler had ways of protecting those who sought to free the realm from darkness.

(Day 20 word count: 1150 for a total of 26,253/50,000)

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