Allyandrah and Kru’Nah: Part 8

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: The day I lost my wings.

If you like this, share it. If you love it, suggest a prompt to continue the series. The more vague the prompt, the better. 


To Part 1.


***Losing Flight***

 

Allyandrah slowly awoke to the lightened morning, the sounds of others moving wafting into their shelter. She shifted and realized that Kru’Dael’Nah was not laying in front of her. Pushing herself up, she looked around the tiny shelter. Where had Kru’Dael’Nah gone?

She adjusted her face covering, feeling to make sure her entire face was covered. Pushing some boughs out of the way, she crawled out and pulled the hood up. Everyone looked the same in their black capes except her and Kru’Dael’Nah, clad in white bear capes. She spotted Kru’Dael’Nah talking with one of the black-caped men. She didn’t want to risk being found out, so she crouched by the fire, keeping an eye out for Kru’Nah, but he never emerged from anywhere. As it died down, she added logs. Someone brought over a kettle and stand, filling it with snow and dumping a sack of dried items into the kettle.

“Watch this, will you?” he asked.

Allyandrah nodded and he walked away.

The snow crunched behind her, and she turned. Kru’Nah stood just behind her, and her heart caught in her throat. He looked at her, his eyes cold and unfamiliar, then he walked away without a word.

She turned the other direction, wanting to reach out, but caught herself. She scooped up some snow and added it to the kettle. Her face burned and tears stung in her eyes. Trying to make sense of his behavior, it dawned on her that she had done this herself. When she ran off, he must have believed that she didn’t love him. Or that she was too scared. Whatever he believed, he no longer loved her. The realization ripped through her and she struggled to breathe. Of all her mistakes, that was the worst. She had to leave. They both had to leave, before things got worse.

She looked over to where Kru’Dael’Nah had been standing, but he was no longer there. She searched the whole camp, but didn’t see him anywhere. She bit back a sob and cursed herself silently. She would have to sneak out and find the way back to his cabin. From there, she could at least try to come up with a plan to live out the rest of whatever life she had left. There was nothing left for her here. And she was entirely to blame.

Scanning the camp, she counted how many black-caped individuals milled about. She didn’t know exactly how these outposts worked, but there had to be a weak spot somewhere. Adding more snow to keep the water from boiling for a few more minutes, she stood.

As she tried to come up with an escape plan, shouting broke out on one end of the camp. Everyone raced to the commotion. She heard the shouts “Put it down! Put it down!”, but had no idea what it meant. Turning the other direction, she ran and came across the path the group had taken to get to this camp. She didn’t know where it led, but she did know that they would struggle to follow or find her, at least for a while.

 

***

 

Yet another soldier had come back from perimeter duty disfigured. Kru’Nah’s alarm grew at the frequency of these events. Already, this was the third lost since the group of soldiers had caught up with him just a few weeks before.

Putting it down before it spoke, everyone panted. The discomfort was palpable. Kru’Nah had to act radically in order to prevent any more losses.

“No one takes perimeter duty out of range of someone else,” Kru’Nah said. “Everyone stays together at all times, always in contact with each other.”

The disturbed faces of each remaining soldier turned toward Kru’Nah.

“No one even relieves themself alone. Better get used to no privacy.” Kru’Nah winced internally at the last of that order. He’d never so much as passed gas in range of someone else. He certainly wasn’t going to be able to relieve himself with anyone watching.

Besides, there was a more pressing matter. What was he going to do with Allyandrah in the camp? If they found out it was her, they would certainly kill her. Kru’Nah couldn’t even so much as let on that he knew her, even as painful as it was. Even this last encounter was too dangerous, approaching her as she knelt by the fire, but he couldn’t help himself. He just couldn’t stay away.

He also needed to learn who this other stranger was. His eyes looked just like his own, just like his mother’s, but who could this old man possibly be? There were so many things Kru’Nah had to work together seamlessly in order for this expedition to be successful. First, though, they needed to eat. He would try to ascertain the identity of the other traveler as they walked.

They returned to the main area of the camp, the morning stew boiling. Allyandrah was nowhere. Kru’Nah scanned the area, finding the unknown old man, but not seeing her. One soldier approached the kettle with small cups that he filled, passing around to everyone. They drank the stew in silence, each refilling until the kettle was emptied.

“Hey, where’s the other one?” one of the soldiers asked.

“The other one what?” another replied.

“The other white cape.”

Heads turned as everyone searched. Kru’Nah felt the desperation rise in him again and he fought to maintain his disconnected, royal composure. She didn’t run off again, did she?

“Spread out,” Commander Tra’Khil said.

“No,” Kru’Nah ordered against everything screaming inside him. “No one goes alone.”

Tra’Khil stood still for a moment. Understanding dawned and he gave new orders to search in groups of 3 for 300 paces, then to return.

“The white-cape stays with me,” Kru’Nah said. “In camp.”

The white-cape slowly approached Kru’Nah and stood an acceptable distance apart.

Tra’Khil nodded and broke the soldiers up into groups, issuing orders.

Kru’Nah abruptly turned to face the stranger.

“Who are you?” he demanded. “And what were you doing with her?”

The white cape pulled down his face covering, revealing a knowing smile.

“We haven’t much time, my grandson,” Kru’Dael’Nah replied. “She found me in the wilderness and I took her in and we came to find you.”

Kru’Nah took in a sharp breath.

“Yes, I said grandson,” the white-cape continued in a low voice. “I am your mother’s father, as you must have suspected. You are smart and good at royalty, as your mother is. However, if the story this slave tells me is true, your heart is very different. If the Guardians allow it, I would like to know you more.”

Kru’Nah had no words to respond. The camp was emptying of the groups, and there was no time to talk anymore anyway. Tra’Khil remained in camp with them and approached the fire.

“Who are you, stranger?” he asked, his eyes and face hard.

“I am an old man, banished to live the rest of my days out here in this inhospitable wilderness. I am no one of consequence anymore, I’m afraid.” He shook his head and looked off into the distance.

Tra’Khil studied him. “What is your name?”

“My name,” the old man said, chuckling. “It hasn’t been used in so long, I barely remember it.”

“Enough with your rambling,” Tra’Khil spat. “Tell me your name or I will kill you where you stand.”

The old man smiled sadly. “Maybe death would be sweet relief from a miserable existence, brave Commander. Perhaps it is why I wandered into this camp in the first place. Perhaps being taken in wasn’t part of my plan at all, but instead to be killed on sight.”

Tra’Khil betrayed no movement or expression on his face. “Where is the other one? Where did he go?”

Kru’Nah struggled to maintain his composure. They thought Allyandrah was a he! If she could remain uncaught, she would be safe.

“My companion? A nice fellow I met while I wandering. He told me there was a camp here and said he would bring me to it, that certainly I would be met with dispatch. I don’t think his intention was to be here at all. I think capture was an unwelcome part of this expedition. He is very clever, though, I suspect he dashed off, leaving no trace. I never saw footprints when he found me. It was as if he appeared out of nowhere.”

Tra’Khil scowled. “My patience wears thin with your lies and your old man storytelling.” He gripped the hilt of his sword.

Kru’Nah desperately wanted to stop Tra’Khil, but his mind was still reeling. His grandfather. For all his life, his grandfather had been dead. And now he was alive again. Here was someone who knew what the kingdom had been like before his mother had been crowned queen, before history had essentially been erased. The knowledge in this man. Kru’Nah had to save him, to keep him alive, but how could he do so without endangering everyone?

“I am a lonely old man, commander, I apologize. I suspect the centuries of being alone have taken their toll. I’m surprised I yet even know how to talk at all. Say, are those some of your men?” He pointed.

Kru’Nah followed his finger and a group of 3 had arrived back in camp. The others wouldn’t be far behind. Tra’Khil never took his eyes off the old man as the group approached the fire.

“We saw no trace of footprints outside the camp.”

Tra’Khil sighed and turned. “At least the three of you returned safely.”

They all nodded soberly.

The other groups arrived within minutes of each other, each carrying the same report: no trace of anything.

“He didn’t just fly away,” Tra’Khil said. He turned and circled the fire, searching the ground. “If there is no trace of new tracks, that means he followed old tracks. And old tracks lead back to the outpost or the direction they came in.

“We searched the direction they came in,” a soldier said. “They are the old tracks from yesterday. No sign of new tracks.”

“We searched the direction of the outpost. We saw nothing,” another said.

“I will search,” Tra’Khil said. He stormed off. Kru’Nah watched as he searched both directions carefully, crouching down and staring intently into the snow. He paused by the tracks leading to the outpost and searched more carefully, weaving his way around them, but never in them. After a thorough search, he returned.

“Take the old man as our prisoner,” Tra’Khil growled. “The other left toward the outpost, using our tracks as a disguise. We go after him. We go after him and we will find him. We will find him and then we will kill him.”

Kru’Nah nodded his agreement, but didn’t trust his voice to speak. This bought time with his grandfather, but it spelled disaster for Allyandrah. Was it possible at all she could survive?

“I surrender my wings,” the old man said, pulling his face covering up and securing his hood before holding out his arms in front.

Tra’Khil bound the old man’s arms and tied them to his waist. Kru’Nah would get nothing from him now.

“Sire, I respectfully request you follow me that I might track this missing man.”

“Granted,” Kru’Nah replied. “But how will you track tied to the prisoner?”

Tra’Khil looked at the rope. He untied it and tied the old man to one of the soldiers.

“He follows you,” Tra’Khil said. “Keep him away from the prince.”

“Sir,” the soldier replied, nodding.

Kru’Nah maintained his royal composure and fell in behind Tra’Khil, trudging back toward the outpost, back to the prophecy, back to unknown danger. Had Tra’Khil already forgotten the previous prophecy? Or was this all part of an elaborate plot by the Queen? Perhaps the previous reluctance to kill him was part of the plan of gaining his confidence and the arrival of these “strangers” giving the perfect reason to take Kru’Nah back to the outpost, kill him, pin it on the stranger, kill the stranger, report the job done and provide a sympathetic story for the public? Kru’Nah pursed his lips, annoyed that he’d been taken in so easily. Allyandrah had softened his ability to read the politics going on.

He had a very short amount of time to either resign himself to his own death or come up with a plan of escape. With no idea what happened to Allyandrah or where she was going, his desire leaned toward escape. But, out here, she was unlikely to survive, so perhaps death was best and they could be reunited in the afterdeath.

Kru’Nah sighed.

Love complicated everything.

 

 


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