Word count: 1,855 Total word count: 66,829
Author's Note: There is a scene below with Hannah, where she refers to a demon -- and you've never heard her do that before. I made some changes in Chapter 4 during CampNaNoWriMo to reflect a subplot. You may consider re-reading through Chapter 4 to find the scene between Hannah and Taelor if you're wanting to catch up. I'm operating on the tactic by author James Smith that says: keep writing as if the changes were already made, and so I did, but eventually I got to a point where I could go back and insert the scenes as I needed.
Chapter 10 Entry 2
Hannah and Rin had to slow their pace so they didn't stumble upon Lianca and Dawn in the middle of the night. At this rate, Hannah figured they'd make Southern Tala'rico some time around her thirtieth birthday. She didn't think it was possible for anyone to ride a horse any slower, but each day, she'd witness the old woman do it.
Hannah occasionally checked over her shoulder, half-expecting to see a black shadow following her and Rin, pushing her towards finding Malisyn. But he never came to tell her she was too late, or she was running out of time.
A fate worse than death. Hannah recalled his words. But only if she's dead; not if I'm late bringing her.
“It’s not a Citadel horse,” Hannah said, staring through the trees at Lianca’s camp. “It’s no wonder the woman is going so slow, she’s got just some average village horse.”
Rin shook his head as he brushed the sweat and dirt from their horse’s mane. Hannah’s horse, a gift from her parents (as most hings were), was slender and muscular, and constantly wanted to run. Hannah led the dark colored mare with a stiff hand, and a whip when necessary. Rin had only been hit with Hannah’s whip once and that was all it took. Rin, like the horse, learned quickly not to disobey.
As much as Rin wanted to steal the horse and race straight back to the Citadel... he had no idea where they were, or how long it would take. He had only been able to follow Lianca and the Guardian, while struggling to follow Hannah’s every direction. Rin had grown up far beyond the walls of Tor'vic or the Citadel. He wasn't accustomed to this cold, empty land. He rubbed his arms to get warm, careful not to let Hannah see, then went back to brushing. Hannah returned to staring through the trees to make sure they weren't noticed.
“Where are we?” Rin asked as he started a braid in the horses' long, silky mane. He wasn't allowed near the horses in the Citadel, and often missed their smell. He missed many things about his home; horses were just one of them.
“It's been about six days. If that old woman made better time, we'd be there before the snow begins to fall. We're still headed south.”
“I don't understand why it has to be so cold.”
Rin wasn't certain exactly what Hannah's plan was once they found Malisyn. He had tried to ask Hannah just before their trip started—she threatened to have him thrown out of the Citadel if he didn't help her, and wouldn't answer any more questions. Rin couldn't go home. He didn't have any options other than to help her, but he promised himself when he got back, he'd leave the selfish girl for good...
He allowed himself on last shiver and went back to brushing. Hopefully they'd camp for the night soon. It was the only time he got a break from listening to Hannah's voice.
“How long are you going to let Hannah believe she's following us?” Dawn asked, barely able to conceal her smile over their small fire.
“Until they're too cold, tired and hungry to put up a fight. I give them a few more days.” Lianca said as she poked the fire with a stick.
Six days they'd been gone from the Citadel, and six days they'd been pretending to avoid Hannah. At first, Lianca believed the wretched girl would give up her pursuit. Hannah had nearly trampled their camp the first night when her Citadel horse had been spooked. A fact she had, loudly, blamed on Rin.
Master Jadae stared out the doorway a moment longer than was necessary. He placed his hand against the door and pushed, checking that the lock was secure. Not that it would hold a Frost Demon out, if it came to that. The morning sunlight alone couldn't provide the shadows he would need to defend Malisyn. He didn't want to take any chances.
“Did you use me as bait?” Malisyn asked when Jadae turned away from the door. She crossed her arms over her chest as she spoke.
“You? As bait? Little bird, you would hardly feed a mountain cat, let alone a demon.” He motioned towards the dead fire and lowered himself to the floor. He pointed across from him and Malisyn sat down. She brushed a wild curl from her eyes and looked across at him expectantly.
“But yes, I tried.” Jadae reached to the fire pit as he spoke. “The demon, I think, was drawn here by your blood relic. I could feel it this morning when I woke. Your first is very powerful—you should be proud. I certainly am.”
“My first blood relic?” Malisyn asked and turned to look in to the fire pit. “Proud?” She asked as an after thought, more of a whisper to herself than to her teacher. She hadn't noticed anything when she first woke—the demon had stolen all of her attention. But now she saw something glittering in the white-gray ash. Master Jadae had picked up a stick and now poked at the ashes, uncovering more of the glittering object.
Malisyn couldn't remember the last time anyone had been proud of something she'd accomplished. She blamed the warmness in her cheeks on being too close to the fire pit.
“The ashes may still be warm. Be careful, and you may lift it.” As Malisyn reached for the ashes, he used the stick to stop her hand. She looked up at him. “The memories inside are still very raw, little bird. Make sure you are ready.” Malisyn nodded slowly as Jadae snapped the stick in half and discarded the pieces in to the dead fire.
“What do you know about blood relics?” Jadae asked as he waited. Malisyn's nose wrinkled in thought.
“Not much, I'm not supposed to really know about them yet.” Malisyn admitted, staring at the ashes.
“Sent on your Apprenticeship Journey early, and you don't know about blood relics?” Master Jadae's eyebrows raised slightly but he softened his surprise with a smile. “Blood relics are created from the memories of blood mages and Transcenders—but that's only their origins, not their purpose. You've seen a blood dagger with jewels in the handle before?”
The only blade that came to mind belonged to a dead Transcender. She remembered Lady Wren's blood dagger, that had eventually ended up with Captain Nox. The blade was beautiful, and the handle had been covered in delicate stones. She nodded at the memory.
“Blood relics, when close to a blood mage or Transcender, amplify their natural powers. Like a piece of glass against the sun; they can take a small bit of blood magic and make it more powerful. Some blood mages put their relics on their blood dagger, armor or even jewelry. Third year students,” Jadae said, with an emphasis on Malisyn's upcoming year, “get their first blood relic added to their practice blade. I'll handle that part once we get to the next village with a decent blacksmith. I don't have the tools to do it here.”
Malisyn hesitated. She sunk her fingers in to the warm ashes and her hand closed around the glittering object. She pulled it from the depths and ashes slipped through her fingers. The ashes were warm but the blood relic itself was warmer. She closed her hand tightly around it, and the heat pierced her skin. Her hand and then her entire arm started to feel like it had caught on fire. She screamed, or she may have cursed—she wasn't sure. The pain made her lurch forward and Master Jadae caught her before she lunged in to the fire pit. He steadied her shoulders.
“I can't let it go,” Malisyn said through clenched teeth. “But it hurts.” The last word was barely more than an animalistic grunt.
His eyes met hers. Impossibly blue. Flecks of green. Like the bottom of a creek bed in the summer. Sunlight. Sunlight filled his eyes. She noticed the ash, black as night, how his sweat made it run down his cheeks like the shadows of tears. The scars on his jawline were sharp and raw. She could smell the powder in his hair, the sweat on his skin--
“Open your hand.” His voice was loud, it forced her hand open and pulled her eyes away from his. Her hand was shaking. Resting in the center of her palm was a tear-shaped piece of purple glass. Darker than the Glass Plains, it was almost black. The relic was still warm to her touch. She felt it pulse like a heartbeat and then be still.
“What am I feeling?” She asked as her throat went dry. The world around her seemed to spin out of control. She felt dizzy for a moment and Jadae tightened his grip on her shoulders. The world slowed down. She could feel his fingers tighten slightly and then release. As he pulled away, she instantly wanted to lean back towards him.
“Blood magic,” Jadae said with a slight curve of his lips.
“But I'm not bleeding—am I?” She stared at the blood relic in wonder.
“Not yet.” Jadae caught her stare again. “I'm afraid this is going to hurt, little bird.”
“What?” Malisyn asked as she looked up from the blood relic.
Before she had a chance to ask—her eyes went wide. She sucked in one, painful breath before she couldn't breathe anymore.
She had asked for a memory of her brother and her blood magic had answered. She didn't know what to expect; she had hoped for the sound of his voice, or to see the color of his eyes again. Even to see his tiny smile as he went along with one her ridiculous plans. She hoped she'd be able to see, with clarity, any moment of the time they had spent together as children. She didn't want to be left with the haze that was her childhood memories.
What she wanted to remember was his life.
The only memory magic gave her was an agonizing image of how his face looked, lying dead in a coffin. She saw his stark, pale skin. His mouth in stiff, flat line, a stern face he never made while his heart still beat. His eyes were closed so she couldn't even see his clouded, lonely brown eyes. His messy hair was matted to graying flesh; arms crossed over his chest, tiny fingers criss-crossed, never to touch anything in the world with wonder again.
No longer her brother; just an empty shell where his heart—her heart—used to be.
“That's not what I wanted,” was all she could manage around a throat that had closed and a mouth gone painfully dry. Pain took the rest of her words away.
A teardrop of blood fell down her cheek.
It was the first time Malisyn had ever felt her blood magic—amplified by the blood relic—and she wasn't certain she ever wanted to feel it again.
Jadae let her cry. It was all he could do.