Rebekka thought over his tale. It was a sad one, but also a dangerous one to know.
“Why do you tell this to me?” she asked.
“Mediums have the power to control many elements of the world, both physical and spiritual.”
“And you think I can help you?”
“No, I know you can’t. I just want you to understand where this may put you.”
It didn’t take long for Rebekka to understand what he meant and what she uncovered frightened her.
“It isn’t coincidence that we are being taken to the Axon One!” she exclaimed.
“No it isn’t, but the coincidence is not for the reason you are thinking. You are a witch, and they know this. Mason is also a witch. I think they will try to make a formidable soldier and the creature–”
Jude lifted an eyebrow. “Acidine would be used to shatter and destroy enemy ranks.”
“What about Wert?”
“I don’t know his significance yet, but you and I know both know no one it sent to the Axon One unless they are of greatest value.”
“And they plan to use each of our value… But they don’t know who we truly are yet, do they?”
“No, but they will soon.”
“Soon? What do you mean soon? How many days have I been out?”
“Three!! How many days until we reach the Axon?”
“Two. We resumed travel yesterday. We have been traveling by wagon. They should start once more in a moment.”
“What are they waiting for?”
“They’re watering the horses.” He moved to the tent flap and opened it a crack. The bright sunlight outside made Rebekka squint. “Yes, they are about done.” He moved back to the fur rug and sat cross legged to assume prayer position.
“What are you doing now?”
“Can’t you see that I’m praying? I’ve been doing it for a few days now and I rather not be bothered in this time.”
This news greatly surprised Rebekka and she couldn’t help blurting, “Have you been praying for me?”
Jude opened one of his closed eyes. “Don’t you think it’s a bit rude to ask someone what they are praying about?”
Rebekka looked away, blushing bashfully. Yes, she knew better, but it seemed a little ridiculous if someone were to pray for her wellbeing. It was just her after all.
“But to answer your question, some of my prayers were about you.”
Rebekka felt her blush deepen. “You didn’t have to.”
“But I did. Now get some rest. You’ll need it.”
Not knowing what to say, Rebekka eased herself into lying position. It was a kind thing for him to do, praying for her, and quite unexpected. She wanted to ask why he had done it, but she felt it was a little too personal. Besides, it wasn’t proper to ask why one does such acts of kindness. But she had to say something, didn’t she?
“Thank you,” she said quietly.
“For what?” he asked.
“For being my healer despite my heedless action against your warning.”
He dipped his head, his eyes still closed. “You are welcome.”
For the rest of that day and the next Rebekka continued to have Jude as her company. And the two were off to starting a nice friendship. Since there was nothing more to do, they traded many stories about their lifetime. Rebekka, being such a young woman, didn’t have much to tell, so she spent most of her time listening to Jude tell his. He was a man of great interest, having traveled far and wide and lived so many lifetimes. Rebekka listened in wonder as he told of his travels and discoveries.
She learned a great deal of history, about how things came to be and why they are as they were now. He had traveled the entire Mainlinds and had even sailed across to neighboring land masses. While he claimed that there were many mysteries he still hadn’t known, he knowledge was so vast that it became hard to believe his claim.
When Rebekka told the stories of her past, she didn’t think they were as wonderous as Jude’s, but he listened to them with great intrigue. She couldn’t tell why he was so interested in her simple life, but he was. But then at times she thought he was pretending to show interest…
Wert stuffed his hands into his pits and shifted his stance. How come he was the only one standing? Better yet, why was he the only one walking? All of the Superiors were up on their horses, Jude was tending Rebekka, in tent, on a wagon. Mason also had a place on the wagon; a nice cozy spot on a bale of hay. But him? He had none of these luxuries. And this disparity made him quite glum and very moody.
The company had stopped once more to water the horses. A thin stream was somewhere nearby, rushing with fresh mountain water. Wert could hear its gurgling from where he stood. He leaned back against the wagon behind him with a sigh, slipping into thought. The noise brought an odd peace over him–it reminded him of home. The peace was odd because it was accompanied with bitter realization. He would probably never see his home again, but he was at ease. Perhaps he had accepted that he was to be made into a soldier… moreover, he probably wanted it that way.
Wert shifted his stance again. His feet ached fiercely. He was tempted to sit on the ground, but he denied himself this simple rest. He had to show his strength. Strength meant perseverance in this world of war. Maybe if he were strong enough, the Superiors would put a good word in for him at the camp. He scoffed at the thought right after. They would never do that. Though tall, he was scrawny and slightly clumsy. And he still had the looks of a boy. Well… he was only a year into manhood…
Wert Shifted his stance again. Now that Rebekka, she might get a word or two said about her at the camp. But those won’t be words of good favor. They’ll be of fear.
From what he had heard, any who had come into contact with the creature died. It was either from being ripped to shreds, chomped to pieces, or being poisoned from its bite. Rebekka should have died, end of story, but she survived. There was no doubting that she was a witch. Only those who were either magically able or spelled could ward away such encounter.
What troubled Wert was the fact that Rebekka didn’t look like a witch. He had only thought she was some quiet, sorrowful maid girl. Of course, he didn’t believe the little story she had told about her fight against the High Officer, but now he wasn’t so sure. He sighed miserably. No one goes to the Axon One without reason.
“What’s the matter?” he heard Mason ask.
“Nothing,” he muttered without giving her even a glance.
He heard her giggle. “Oh, I see. You all grumpy because you have to walk. Your feet probably hurt.”
At that, he whirled to her with scowl and snapped, “I said it was nothing!”
“Aye, you boy! Keep it down over there!” one of the Superiors shouted. He went back to his work right after.
Wert sourly glanced the Superior’s way. The irony. To shout for quiet. Mason’s giggle drew his sour expression to her. She was giggling at his misfortune!?!
“Don’t worry Wert,” she said. “I know of just the thing.”
Wert watched as she began to whisper into a hand. He saw a flash of light, and then she flicked a set of fingers his way. Instantly the pain in his feet vanished. Actually, all of his aches and pains disappeared. It was so sudden, he gasped.
“You’re a witch,” he said to himself which caused Mason to begin giggling again. Her giggles stopped, however, when Jude poked his head from the tent entrance. It was always so surprising to see how long the man’s hair was. It made Wert think that he was probably an elf. They were known for their long hair… or so he thought.
“Mason were you casting again?” Jude asked.
“Yes,” she said quietly.
“We’ve talked about this.”
“But it was just a harmless–”
“Doesn’t matter. You know the rules. Abide by them please.”
Jude ducked back into the tent leaving Mason to grumble and pout to herself. Wert knew it was probably none of his business, but he could resist his curiosity.
“Why can you use magic?” he asked.
“Don’t you think that’s none of your business?” Mason asked.
“Oh,” he replied feeling his face warm. Once again she giggled.
“Older people are so serious. It’s not that I can’t use magic. It’s just hmmm, how do I say it… Oh! Whenever I use my magic, my spell might be too powerful. But not for charms. Jude will never give me my credit, but my charms have saved us more times than he can count.”
“I heard that,” Jude said.
“Don’t you always?” Mason replied and began swinging her legs, humming.
It seemed the conversation had lapsed, but Wert suddenly had so many questions to ask. He didn’t think Mason would mind, so he rekindled their talk.
“Is he your father?” he asked and motioned his head to the tent.
“Jude? Heavens no!” Mason said.
“You’re not related.”
“None whatsoever. He’s just my guardian. People think that we’we’re siblings.”
“Oh… Is he an elf?”
Mason laughed out loud. “Goodness you’re funny. Where do you get these ridiculous ideas from? He doesn’t have pointy ears does he?”
Wert didn’t know that she had expected him to answer, but when she raised her brows expectantly, he answered, “Oh, uh, no he doesn’t.”
“Well, he isn’t an elf.”
She looked out across the horizon and smiled to herself. “If you’re asking because of his hair, he never cuts it. He uses it to tell how many years have passed. It only grows about a bitty-bit of my little finger here every year.” She showed the finger to demonstrate.
“So… he’s very old?” Wert thought out loud trying to piece the information together.
“Not old Wert. He’s lived for many years.”
“Like how many?”
“Over five hundred.”
Wert thought for a moment and then asked, “You sure he’s not an elf?”
Mason giggled her giggle and replied, “Yes, I’m sure. Being an elf isn’t the only way to live long.” She looked across the horizon again, but this time her stare was tainted with a sadness. Wert decided it was best to let his questions rest. For a moment, the two of them were watching the cold skyline together. Wert shifted his stance and remembered Mason’s charm.
“You don’t have to thank me,” she said just as the words were ready to spring from his tongue. She looked down at him with a grin and he just couldn’t help grinning right back.
“Aye, you boy!” one of the Superiors snapped from horseback. “Get over here and get to gathering some wood.”
Wert sighed and began trudging to the location the Superiors were. He heard Mason jump down from the wagon and looked over his shoulder. Yes, she had gotten off and was plodding up behind him.
“You’re coming?” he asked.
“Doesn’t it look that way?” she replied.
“But why? I mean, you usually don’t.”
“You mean Jude usually doesn’t let me. He’s always afraid that something would happen to me. We’re just getting wood though. Worst that could happen; I get a splinter in my finger.”
“But then that could get all infected, turn purple or whatever, and they could saw your finger right off.”
Mason cut her eyes at him with her bottom lip stuck out. Wert couldn’t help himself and began laughing. Of course, he wasn’t serious, but the look on her face when he said it. He could tell she was used to hearing these types of ridiculous possibilities and outcomes from Jude.
“Come on, then” he said. “Might as well show you how it’s done. We’ll have to be quick about it. The Superiors don’t have the patience at all.”
Mason’s face suddenly brightened with so much excitement, Wert smiled despite himself.
(to be continued..)
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