Author's note: I wrote this a while ago. It's not completely revised and the spelling and grammar may be... Show full author's note »
Chapter Four“Don't say a word!" She took my hand and pulled me along with her to what seemed like an extremely large rabbit hole, hid with overgrown blades of grass. She led me in it first. The only way for my entire body to fit in it and have enough room for the witch was if I lay down on my back. I could hear the hooves coming closer and fast. I could almost feel the tremble on the earth from the creatures we were hiding from. She climbed in quickly. My back was on the dirt and the girl was above me. Her
The sound grew closer and soon the march of about five hooves was right beside us. They came to an immediate halt directly in front of where we are. Everything was silent. The girl and I held our breaths. There was a low hissing sound coming from the enemies and they began to circle around where we were. Finally, they left the way they came. The hooves fading away in the distance.
Ava crawled out and I followed. We both try and to catch our breath, almost wheezing for air. Suddenly the sound of hooves was back and closer than ever. The witch grabs me and pins me up against the nearest tree. I could hear the slow and steady steps directly behind us. I'm not entirely sure what I am thinking, but I have to see what these creatures are. I lean further down, my back against the tree, and slowly twist the upper half of my body. I peer over the bark and my stomach drops. I want to scream at the sight of these creatures. They are on beastly horses that bulge with muscles from head to toe. The horse’s varies in color and their eyes shone red. But, the horses didn't compare to their riders. They wore long black capes that hid their faces with hoods. For that I was grateful. Still, through the darkness of the hood you could see their bright eyes shining like the horses they rode upon. The capes rode down, almost touching the ground after covering the horses back. The creatures on the mutated horses held reigns with long, white, and wrinkled hands. Their nails were black and many inches long, coming to a curl at the tip. Ava grabs my shirt and spins me back around, straightening my stance behind the tree.
The creatures drew out a long hiss in unison and rode off again on horseback. We stood still for what seemed like hours. Then, Ava finally peeked around the tree and nodded towards me. "Their gone." She still whispered.
"What was that?" I nearly cried pointing to where the creatures exited.
"The elders." She says. "Their just keeping patrol on the forests. But, if they were to see you." She cringes.
"If they were to see me, what?"
She slowly looks up to place her lavender eyes on mine. "They would surely kill you."
"What? Why, because I’m human?" I ask in outrage.
She nods. "They would kill me too for being with you. You see, there are only three rules in Cardinair. One, no one shall leave Cardinair for the outside world. Two, no one from the outside world shall enter Cardinair....And three, if you broke rule one or two, you shall be punished with death...."
"That's a little harsh."
"It is." She agrees. "That's why you must leave."
"Leave? I'm not entirely sure how I got here."
She sighs. "We must find a way. I won't allow anything to happen to you."
I smile, thinking about her words. "Nothing will happen. They won't find me."
"Yet. We have to get you home right away."
I agree with a nod. I didn't want to leave her. But, I knew I would have to eventually. I wouldn't risk being selfish over her life.
"You appeared here on the tower. So, tonight we'll go there and hopefully that will send you back to your world."
"Yes, hopefully." I say halfheartedly.
"Until then we have to keep you safe. We're going to visit Bristal."
"He's a friend of mine. Don't be afraid when you meet him." She shrugs. "He's a vegetarian."
"Why would I be afraid?"
She smiles but says nothing. She took my hand in hers and my legs instantly felt like jelly. The setting suddenly changed. We were in the same forest, just deeper into it, beside a huge fort where Bristal must live. She releases my hand. I should have known. The only reason to even touch me is to get me here. How stupid I am for thinking otherwise! I shrug off the thought. "Why couldn't you have done that earlier, while we were hiding from the elders?" I ask her.
"The elders can sense magic being used. They could have followed us through my portals easily. I couldn't risk that. It was safer to do it as it was done."
"Who are the elders exactly?"
"They’re most evil ones in Cardinair. Besides the King Demontritus himself and his offspring." She says through clenched teeth. Her small hands balled up into little fist. I didn't reply, not wanting to anger her any more. She sighs, "Again, there's nothing to be afraid of." The fort is made from limbs and grasses woven together to create a masterpiece. We slowly walked in together.
"Bristal." Ava calls out with one hand cupped slightly over her mouth, like the princess's in Walt Disney's films has often done. She is a princess; in my eyes at least. And I'm the hopeless sucker that falls for her, kissing the ground she walks on only to be put to shame by the prince who comes along and steals her heart. She's Cinderella; I'm the pathetic and tongue tied mouse in the green sweater and goofy hat. She's Snow White; I'm the poor and clueless Dopey. She's Ariel; I'm Flounder, a different species entirely. She's Jasmine; I'm the flying carpet who secretly loves the feel of the dark-skinned girl on his back. I know, babysitting my six-year-old cousin for free is not worth it. But the point is, she's way out of my league. No, that's not right. Way out of my galaxy. Yes, that sounds more like it.
There's a loud booming sound nearby and with it, the earth underneath my feet begin to shake a little. That's when Bristal came into view. He is several feet taller and has brown reptile skin. On either side of his head there is two pair of horns. His two bottom razor sharp teeth sticks out of his mouth up over his top lip. His width is tremendous; he is a monster.
It is the most hideous thing I’d ever seen in my life. I thought about making a run for it but, I wouldn't dare leave the girl with this beast.
My eyes search for anything I can use as a weapon. I find a stick and lunge for it, like Golem would for his precious. When I stand up straight I see that I'm only inches away from the beast's foot. I scurry back, in front of Ava, keeping her behind me. The stick is held out in front of me, like a sword or magic wand. But of course with my unfailing luck it's no stick. It's a twig. It’s a measly twig that couldn't shield us from a friendly encounter with a rabbit. Ava's calmly speaking nonsense in my ear. Can't she see that I need serious concentration to defend us both? The ogre-look-alike bends down, placing his face in front of mine. I can smell his foul breath and see the slime in his nostrils that are the size as my fist.
"Get back!" I built enough courage and dignity to scream at the beast. Too bad my voice cracked with fear. Somehow, Ava stands in front of me, planting herself in between me and the beast. What is she thinking? She's suicidal! I want to scream at her to get behind me, to run out and save herself. But, with everything going on, I'm still fully aware of her small and fragile hands cupping my elbows. I hold my breath, momentarily forgetting about the beast. She's saying something, her expression is serious. "He's a friend." I hear her say. "He won't hurt you. He's a friend." She repeats. I look behind her to the beast that is now standing up, we are level with his grimy knee caps. I want to trust her words. Though I nod and try to relax I still manage to stand semi-in front of her. Ava smiles. "Larson, this is the infamous Hashard. His name is Bristal." I don't trust my voice to speak so I keep silent. Bristal grunts, rumbling the air around us. He holds out one hand that has five to six apples placed on his palm. "Want apple?" He roars. I can't be sure but, I think I flinched at his voice.
We are all sitting down in the middle of Bristal’s fort. Though the Hashard looks very threatening and highly intimidating, he's not. He has a kind heart. And most people won't ever know that because they runaway at the sight of him. It's a shame. Bristal is throwing apples into the air and catching them in his mouth, like I would with grapes. I'm on my third apple and Ava has just finished her first. She picks up another one and licks her lips. I lean over and clear my throat, ripping my eyes away from Ava. But, with my peripheral vision I can see her bite into the red flesh of the fruit and I pray that one day that could be me. I shiver just thinking about it. I would love that, yes. But I would love to hold her, to hear her voice, to watch her eyes light up, to listen to her laughter, and to stroke her hair even more. I could deal without what every man is really after. But, only if I could spend a lifetime with her.
"Larson," She says it again. My name. I used to think it was weird and ugly. But, when she says it she turns it into the most beautiful word ever to exist. I turn to her, mesmerized. She smiles at me, "Did I mention that Bristal saved my life?" I had to replay her words because I was too preoccupied watching her mouth open and close. I turn to Bristal, "Thank you." I say. I mean it. Ava laughs, "Do you wish to know how?"
"Yes." I stare at her.
"You see, I was in the forest one day where the evil twins Cynthias and Cypress spotted me." She was very enthusiastic with her story telling. "Cynthias used magic to send me up into the heavens and when she releases me I fall to the ground. The drop would kill me, no doubt." I cringe. "But, Bristal shows up out of nowhere and he catches me in mid-air." She laughs; it's the icing to her stories end. I look back to Bristal and it almost looks like he is blushing. I lean closer to him saying once again, "Thank you.", with as much sincerity in my being. He grumbles a laugh and says, "Me no need thanks." He was a gentle and humble beast. No, not a beast. A Hashard. And Hashard’s like Bristal only exist in this magical world of Cardinair. And I have to leave it all too soon. But, worst of all, I have to leave Ava.