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Fate's Secrets

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“Blaze, come here and see this!” My sister Briallen exclaimed as she burst into the food shop. I looked over at Saralee who I was helping make bread for the shop.
“Go ahead”, she sighed and nodded. I wiped my hands on an old rag then ran out the door. The people in our small village were coming out of their small mud and brick homes to see what all the commotion was about. People were walking toward the old road that ran alongside our village. I saw my closest friend Jazlyn and walked over to her.
“What’s going on?” I asked. She turned around to see me.
“I don’t know.” she said.
More people started pushing their way around us. “Move it kids” and “Watch it”s was thrown at us.
“Some people need to learn their manners.” Jazlyn muttered under her breath. Then she grabbed my wrist and pulled us to close to the front of the crowd. I saw Briallen across from us. The leader of our village stood in front of us talking to a man, a woman, an older man and a boy my age I’ve never seen before.
“And then we found this road and thought it might lead somewhere, so we started walking down it. So here we are.” the woman was talking a mile a minute. But our leader, Helena, was listening to her every word, and her ever present frown set on her face. In all of my sixteen years I had never seen her smile. All the old groups in our village say she lost both of her parents in the war. The war was when all the major countries started fighting with each other. It ended 50 years ago, leaving very few habitable places from the nuclear bombs and radiation poisoning. We learned it from the stories the elders would tell around the fire.
“Well,” Helena started. I could tell she was about to tell them to move on. We don’t have enough food or room. We were going through drought and nothing was growing properly. All I’ve had today was a piece of bread and a strip of dried rabbit.
“It sounds like you’ve been through a lot, and we’d be happy to help you. Stay, rest up.” Helena said. What?! Where would they stay? Who would feed them?
“Blaze, Briallen, come here.” commanded Helena. She could not be thinking what I think she’s thinking. My older sister and I stepped towards her.
“Yes?” Briallen asked.
“You have room, they’ll stay with you. Now back to work everyone!” Helena snapped. People ran to their corners like little kids who didn’t want to get in trouble.
The family turned to us, except the boy. He looked everywhere but us.
“I’m Briallen, and this is my little sister Blaze.” Briallen introduced us. “Hey”, I muttered, looking at the ground. These people were just going to hurt our village.
“Hello, I’m Maris, this is my husband Eli, his father, Carter, and our son, Day.” the woman introduced us.
“Well, follow us then.” said Briallen. We walked to our mud and brick house that our mother and father built. A pain of sadness hit me in the gut as I thought of my mother and father. My mother died in a fire at the food shop. The stove wasn’t watched well enough. And a couple of months ago our father fell terribly ill. He is currently in the doctors office with a few other people.
We entered the small house.
“There’s two rooms down that hall, and also a sitting area where we could make beds. Your choice”, Briallen said.
“I’m sleeping outside.” Day said, stepping out the door.
“Sorry about him… We really are grateful of your hospitality. We can just stay in here.” Maris said with a small smile.
I went and got blankets and pillows for them. I brought some out to Day and he just nodded, then went back to staring into our forest. Ungrateful snot.
“So, where do you guys come from?” Briallen asked as we sat in the sitting room.
“Oh, we’ve been traveling a lot. Our home was lost years ago.” said Eli.
“I’m sorry.” said Briallen.
“Me too.” he said quietly, sadness in his voice.
“I’m from The City!” Carter said, loud and proud. The City? The City was told to be a horrible and ugly place. Littered with broken buildings and war scraps.
“But no one has lived there for more than fifty years,” I blurted. He chuckled.
“That’s what you villagers think. It actually wasn’t that bad when I was there. That big village that helps make all your laws and rules, they live right by it.” he said.
I knew what he was talking about. Helena went there every three months. And they kind of did control us. They set rules for all of us to follow. Like, don’t attack each other. Never think of war again. Oh, and if you don’t follow their rules, they send soldiers in to take you away. But why would they live by The City? They are the ones who told us how bad it was. Stories of people disappearing and never coming back.
Helena always told us how nice and pleasant her visits were. But whenever she said it, it was hard to believe. Like when there was sadness in her eyes. But what if her visits were what made her sad? What if what the old man is saying is true? What if he did grow up in The City? What if what the main society is telling us, are lies? My brain rushed with these two stories colliding each other. Whatever was going on, I was going to find out the real and true story. I am not going to just let this go.

The next day I went to Helena’s small meeting area were she held village meetings. I let myself in and saw her sitting at a small table looking through papers. Not very many people knew how to read here. It didn’t really matter to the villagers because they were all to busy hunting or harvesting.; trying to feed their families. My father taught me how before he fell ill, he used a couple old books his parents left him to teach me; having me sound out words.
“Helena?” I asked.
She looked up from her papers, then saw it was me then looked back at her papers.
“Yes, Blaze?” she filed more papers around as she talked.
I guess I wasn’t that important to her.
“I guess I was just…” I tried to think of what to say. I knew if I said something wrong I might get stuck with more chores, from her and Briallen. I was already way in deep with chores from a small argument I may have or may have not started with her. I can’t remember the exact details of that day.
“Blaze, if you’re here to ask why I’m letting the family stay, I’ll tell you this” She looked up at me making eye contact. Her grey eyes bored into mine. I tried not to back from fear, “They might have valuable information on how the other villages are doing. So if they trust us then they’ll tell us”. She went back to shuffling around our papers.
“Why would you want to know how the other villages are doing? The same as us right? The drought is affecting us all. You even said so after you’re last trip to The Main”.
She stood up and walked over so she stood in front of me. She looked me up and down, processing me as if I was for auction.
“Can I trust you Blaze?” she asked.
“Yes” I said after a moment of thought. She could trust me. But I didn’t know if I could trust her. She did volunteer us to house a family we didn’t know without or consent.
“The villages that are close to us are the same as us, even worse in some cases. But the ones closer to main and main itself are fine. They have plenty of food. They’re pretty close so I’m sure they share, but only with each other. No one else. But they won’t tell anyone”.
I opened my mouth, but she held up a hand stopping me.
“I know this because I accidently walked in on one of their private meetings. But it wasn’t just the food they were talking about. There’s something in the city. They’re trying to hide it, but something’s coming up, something big. I just don’t know what” she bit her thumbnail thinking.
“So why are you telling me all these. And what does this have to do with Maris and her family?” I asked. Nothing connected in my mind.
“Because the grandfather says he’s from the city. Maybe he knows something. But I want to find out. And that’s were you come in. see Blaze, you’re stubborn and sneaky and a great liar when you need to be, so it’s hard to catch you.”
“Gee, thanks” I said flatly.
“Let me finish. I want you and two other people to go make a trip to The City. And you can say no. because it is dangerous, because you’d be in the forest for a while with nothing to protect yourself with except the people your with and your own skills. And a lot of things could wrong. And I know you want to stay her with your father and Briallen. But if you did this for me I don’t know how I could ever repay you” she looked genuinely hopeful that I’d say yes.
But how could trust her that this just wasn’t some way to get rid of me. We weren’t each others favorite person. This could be some trap for me to die out in the forest so she wouldn’t have to deal with me. How could I trust her?
“How can I trust you?” I asked repeating my thoughts.
“You won’t trust me, I get that. But if you do this. I’ll make sure your father has all the medical care he needs. And that you and Briallen have all the food you two need, plus I’ll find Maris and her family a new place to stay” she said.
I perked up at the medical care part. Everything else was nothing compared to having my father back. If he died too I don’t know how I could take it. Briallen and I don’t get along that well. She thinks there is no reason to fight for what you want when you could just go along with what the leader of everyone says. I get that lecture a lot.
But what I didn’t make it back. Would Helena still make sure my father got well for my efforts?
“Who would go with me?” I asked. She did say two other people.
“Your choice. So I suggest you choose wisely” she went to sit back down.
“How do you know I’ll say yes?” I asked defensively.
“Because I know you Blaze, and you care about your father. You won’t let this opportunity slide” she looked back to her papers “You leave the day after tomorrow. Gather what ever you need”.
And just like that I was no longer important to her. Feeling dismissed I left.
I couldn’t wrap my brain around the fact that I might actually decide to go. But if I did go it would show that she had power over me and I would just end up falling beneath her. But what if something big was really going on? It kind of scared me to think that the Main would be hiding something. I was in deep thought to realize that I was walking right onto someone. And that someone was Day.
I plowed into him knocking us both to the ground.
“Ow” I rubbed my elbow fell on.
“Sheesh, could you be anymore clumsy” he asked getting up. He looked down at me waiting for an answer apparently
“Uhh... ”. I searched my head for some kind of comeback but I came up blank. He just shook his head. And started to walk off leaving me in the dust. Stupid, stubborn, forest...Wait!
“Hey, Day! Wait a second” I scrambled to my feet.
“What?” he rolled his eyes. I took a deep breath so I wouldn’t yell at him for his rudeness.
“You were in the forest for awhile right?” I asked.
“Yeah, why?” he crossed his arms. Better hurry it up he seemed to say.
“Well I have to make a trip to the city, and you see I don’t really know that much” see now I’m rambling. I’m not good at asking for help. But if I don’t I would probably have to do this alone. A slow smile spread across his face.
“Wait” he stopped my rambling “Are you asking me to come with you to help you?” I could tell he was enjoying this from the way he was saying this.
I looked at my feet then nodded. His smile got even bigger.
He stood silent for a second, considering.
“Okay I’ll go, but you’ll have to listen to me, and don’t question anything I say to do. Understand?” he seemed way more serious about this than I thought he would.
“Okay” I mumbled. Just because I said I would didn’t mean I would have to.
“Good, when are we going?” he asked.
“Day after tomorrow” I said just wanting to get out of there.
“Okay you’ll need to get knives, food for about four days, blankets and a basic medical set” he listed the things of on his fingers.
I nodded again. I hadn’t even thought of half of that.
“See ya then” he walked off leaving me behind again. I wonder if that’s a habit of his.

That night when I told Briallen about the whole trip she about had a heart attack.
“No way!” she said sternly, “You are not going”.
“Yes I am. I’ll be fine Day’s going with me and…” I hadn’t really thought of whom else to ask. I was to busy trying to figure out how to tell Briallen.
“And? Who else?” she had her hands on her hips waiting for my answer.
“Jazlyn” I said. I hadn’t even told her about any of this, but I’m sure she wouldn’t mind to come along.
“And her mother is okay with this?” she asked.
“One hundred percent” I said. I really hope Helena wasn’t bluffing when she said I was good at lying.
She sighed and sat down at the small table we ate at.
“I just don’t want to lose you” she said quietly. It was kind of hard to be mad at her when she put it that way.
“You won’t” I said so confidently I almost believed it myself.
I could tell she was about to give in so I went the extra mile.
“I love you, and you could never lose me” I said softly.
“Okay. But I want you to be careful” she said. As soon as she said it she seemed to regret it. She played with her fingers not making eye contact. I felt sorry for her, so I kneeled down next to her and gave her a hug from the side.
“I will” I said “I promise”.
I left a little bit later to go talk to Jazlyn.
“You want me to what?” she asked standing in her door frame.
“Please?” I asked “I already told Briallen you were coming”
“Why?” she asked. She didn’t look mad just confused.
“So she’ll let me go. Jazlyn I really need you on this. Helena said there has to be three of us.” I waited for a minute she stood silent, thinking.
She sighed and knew she’d given in.
“Thank you” I said then gave her a quick hug. Just to let you know I’m not usually this affectionate.

The day to leave seemed to come quicker than I thought it would. Helena had us leave before the sun rose and everyone was asleep so no one would notice us. I had no idea what she was going to tell everyone else. I had only told Day and Jazlyn enough to know why I needed them to come with me.
Day showed up later than he was supposed to. I didn’t care but Helena did.
“You’re late. We had to wait for you” she said.
“I had to grab these” he set a large bag in front of us. He opened it and pulled out weapons. He handed Jazlyn a longer knife than the small butcher knifes I found and a small sling shot. I knew she didn’t no how to use it but she was a fast learner.
“Thanks” she said taking both and putting them in her small bag that was slung over her shoulder.
“Why do we need all this?” I asked.
“The farther we go into the forest you’ll see” he said.
For him pulled out two small daggers. He put them in his belt for easy reach. I was left empty handed.
“Good luck” Helena said. She nodded at me. I got the message. Don’t mess this up, she seemed to say.
I gave a small nod then started walking down the road, Day walked up beside me a little ahead of me, and Jazlyn a little behind me. I looked back Helena who was walking back to the village.
I thought of something my father used to say, “Never doubt were fate will take you”.
I wonder if fate had this in mind.



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