In honor of my fantasy writing series, I’m going to share with you the bones of a fantasy story I’m writing that I’ve totally fallen in love with. It obviously needs SO much work, but it highlights so many things I love about fantasy.
This story progresses further by various writing prompts given in Author’s Tale, so the direction of the next section is never really known by me until I get a prompt that I can incorporate.
Prompt: Opportunities wait for no one, but there’s always a second chance. You only have to work hard to get it.
If you like this, share it. If you love it, suggest a prompt to continue the series. The more vague the prompt, the better.
In the days that had lazily passed since her arrival at Kru’Dael’Nah’s, Allyandrah ate and slept, and for the first time in her entire life, felt rested. The squall had blown itself out and now, even though it was still dark outside, Kru’Dael’Nah was pulling out winter gear.
“I have an idea of where to begin looking,” he said as he tossed out boots and coats and scarves. “I suspect if they picked him up, they’d be at the outpost not too far from here. We’ll start there.”
“What if he ain’t there?” Allyandrah asked, pulling clothing on in the layers Kru’Dael’Nah instructed.
“Well, in that case, we’ll come up with another plan.” He pulled on clothing layer upon layer, then wrapped a satchel around himself and Allyandrah and stuffed them with food. “The storm has only just blown itself out, so they won’t have gone far, if they’re gone at all. Unless there is a particular urgency to leave, I don’t think they would leave immediately. There would be things they need to do in order to secure the outpost.”
“You know lots about these things.”
“I’ve had three centuries to watch and spy and learn,” he said with a wink. “That’s a long time.”
“Alright, are you ready?” he asked, his voice muffled by the layers. All she could see were his sparkling green eyes.
“Yes,” she replied. Turning, he walked out the door and she followed him closely, not wanting to lose him in the darkness. The cold was a shock on her exposed eyes.
“It always gets very cold after a squall,” he said, sounding like he was trying to shout through a pillow. They walked at a slow pace, which annoyed Allyandrah. She wanted to get to Kru’Nah and she wanted to get to him now! As they walked, the sun struggled to poke through the clearing sky.
After walking nearly all day, only taking a few short breaks, they came upon the outpost just as the clouds finally broke up. It was abandoned. Kru’Dael’Nah looked around and found the footprints leading away.
“Always a second chance,” he shouted from behind his clothes. “Just have to work hard to get it!”
He pointed and then continued walking. Allyandrah was surprised that she wasn’t as tired as she expected to be after so much walking. Perhaps all the food, rest, and their pace were paying off.
They continued walking through dusk. The moon was full and bright, and to Allyandrah’s surprise, they continued walking. As the fatigue set in, she began stumbling every so often, but Kru’Dael’Nah continued forward, on and on. Finally, they came to a cave where he turned in.
He unwrapped his head. “We’ll stay here tonight. No fire, though. Stay here for a moment.” He disappeared into the cave for a few minutes and then reemerged. “It’s safe. You take the back, it’s warmer back there.”
Allyandrah crawled into the small cave.
“All the way to the back, love,” he said. “It’s not deep.”
Crawling all the way to the back, Allyandrah laid down with her back touching the back of the cave. He laid down in front of her and to her surprise, the cave grew warm. Allyandrah only managed to stay awake for a minute or two before drifting off.
Allyandrah ran and ran through the forest, screaming voices behind her. Her legs felt like lead and wouldn’t move for her. She saw a figure ahead and she struggled and struggled to get to it. As she got closer, she saw who it was. Dropping to her knees, she reached out and Kru’Nah walked toward her, but his face was hard and unkind. His lips curled into a snarl and he dove.
Allyandrah woke up with a start. Her heart was pounding. It was still dark outside and the cave was still inexplicably warm. Kru’Dael’Nah was still laying down in front of her. She tried to calm her breathing and slow her heart, but it was a long time before she fell back to sleep.
“Wake up. Wake up, love,” a voice said. Allyandrah woke to a gentle shaking and the friendly face of Kru’Dael’Nah. “Ah, there you are. Come, come. We must continue.”
Allyandrah’s body felt heavy and tired, but she crawled out of the cave and forced herself to stand. It was still dark. She swayed for just a moment before steadying herself. He pulled out some food from his bag. “Eat, eat,” he encouraged and Allyandrah pulled food out of her own bag. As she ate, she began to wake and feel strong again. She scooped some snow and ate it.
“Where to now, boss?” Allyandrah asked.
“Oh, no, no,” he said. “No boss. Either Kru’Dael’Nah or, if you’re very brave, Grandfather.”
She looked at him for a few moments before speaking again. “Okay, where to now, Grandfather?”
His entire face lit up with a smile. “That’s the spirit, love.” He rewrapped his head and face and then motioned for her to follow as he turned and walked on. They followed the trail of footprints in the snow, crisscrossed by the tracks of various wild animals. Allyandrah’s stomach dropped at each intersection of tracks, worrying about whether Kru’Nah was still safe or if they’d all been eaten by wild animals. She continually reassured herself that as long as the tracks were visible, he was fine. The sun crawled over the horizon and then seemed to speed through the sky as they spent another entire day walking, eating lightly from their stash, and taking small mouthfuls of snow every so often. Allyandrah’s body was starting to wear down from the constant movement, each time moving after taking a break was harder and harder.
“Remember, love, you have to work hard to maximize this second chance,” he reminded her at each break, his eyes shining whenever he looked at her. Allyandrah had never had anyone older look at her like this before and it made her want to dig out mountains or swim the ocean for him. As the walked in the moonlight again, suddenly Kru’Dael’Nah stopped and crouched down. Allyandrah ran into him and tumbled into the snow. He helped her up and her eyes followed the line of his arm as he pointed. Up ahead, she saw light from a fire. Her eyes bulged as she turned to look at him and he nodded. He motioned for her to follow and they walked a different direction for a short distance before coming to a downed tree that concealed another cave. He crawled in and she followed.
Once inside, he pulled off his head coverings and indicated for her to do the same.
“That them?” she asked breathlessly.
“I suspect it was,” he replied, smiling.
“So now what?”
“That is the question. These men will be highly trained, so sneaking in isn’t an option. They may have orders to kill you on sight, so walking in may not be the way to go, either.” He pursed his lips as he thought. Allyandrah’s mind sailed high into the sky knowing that her beloved was nearly in sight.
“I believe I know what to do, but you will have to stay here,” he finally said.
“What are you going to do?”
“Never you mind that,” he said, his face and eyes serious. “I’m not sure it matters whether I live or die here.”
“It matters to me!” she cried out with more passion than she’d realized was inside her, leaning toward this man she’d grown to love in just a few short days. “You said there’s always a second chance, we just have to work hard.”
He looked surprised by her outburst and opened his mouth to speak, but then closed it again. She couldn’t read his face, but she could tell that he was rethinking his original plan.
“In that case,” he said slowly, “we could try something more brazen if you’d like.”
“I would!” she cried, again surprising herself.
“We could simply try walking up to the camp, fully clothed so they can’t see our faces and take our chances.”
Allyandrah smiled and they rewrapped their heads.
“Let me do the talking,” he said. Allyandrah nodded.
Crawling back over the tree, they followed their own trail in the bright moonlight and turned back toward the direction of the camp. As they approached, Allyandrah was grabbed from behind and shoved into the deep snow, the freezing crystals stinging her eyes. She tucked her chin in slightly so that she could breathe. She waited, expecting a sword to sear through her at any moment. This was it. She was going to die and would never see Kru’Nah again. Tears welled up and she struggled to catch her breath. After a moment, she was yanked upright and dragged into the camp.
“Found these two sneaking into the camp,” the one behind Kru’Dael’Nah said.
Allyandrah glanced over at the old man and then followed his gaze. Her breath caught in her throat and tears stung at her eyes. Coming out from one of the makeshift shelters was none other than her beloved Kru’Nah! She cried out just a little but clamped down her mouth, her knees buckling slightly. As he walked toward them, his cape billowed out slightly. His green eyes were serious, his jaw set. Fear struck into her heart and she backpedaled a step into the person behind her.
Kru’Nah’s eyes rested on Kru’Dael’Nah for a moment before turning his attention to Allyandrah. If he recognized her, he didn’t show it. Allyandrah’s breath quickened as he continued to stare.
“Warm up some food and drink for our guests,” Kru’Nah commanded, then turned and walked back into his shelter.
Allyandrah turned to Kru’Dael’Nah, her eyes wide. He shook his head at her as they were led to the fire and released.
He unwrapped his head and leaned toward her, “What did I tell you? Work hard and you’ll get it.” He winked and motioned for her to unwrap her head. Allyandrah’s heart began to pound again and she found she was only brave enough to pull down her face mask when they brought the tea and mush. She ate gratefully, not realizing until then how hungry she actually was.
“I am Commander Tra’Khil,” a man said, bowing slightly to them. “The Prince has asked me to show you to a shelter where you can sleep. He will address you in the morning.” He stepped away and Allyandrah jumped to follow him to the edge of the camp. A tiny shelter, just big enough for the two of them, was there. Allyandrah crawled in first, like when they were in the cave, and Kru’Dael’Nah followed. As the space began to warm, she drifted off to sleep and dreamed sweet dreams of her love.
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