Leaning against a tree, Eriane was struggling not to fall asleep as Jilan returned. Suddenly she trembled; she raised her head.
“I know. I felt it. Someone just crossed the bridge. Alia…”
“They have dogs,” the newly anointed priestess volunteered.
“What?” Jilan’s voice was filled with the same surprise she felt.
“I can hear them.”
Eriane stood fast; she shouldn’t have. Dizziness overwhelmed her once more but did not hide the sound of dogs barking; neither did it hide something else. A mighty presence also had come through, similar to that of a priestess only more aggressive. It was a warrior or…
“A Hunter. They have a Hunter. How is that possible? I thought they were all gone.” She fell against Jilan.
“Eriane, what is a Hunter?”
“It does not matter. We have to go. I am not even sure we can escape them. Leave me I will only slow you down.”
“We do not leave without you,” Ysanne said. “You are our guide, is she not Alia?”
“Ysanne is right Mother, we cannot leave you here.”
It appeared the novices understood that Alia though the youngest among them was the one to lead them if anything happened to her.
“Let us leave now then.”
Eriane leaned on Jilan and they took a path away from those who hunted them. Weak and tired Eriane was painfully aware of the burden she was for the group and she had lost that perception of her environment along with her strength. She usually did not spend as much but she had to maintain a circle while officiating the wakening. And they might as well be heading into another trap, one that they would not expect or be ready for or into a deadend that would force them to face their pursuants.
She suddenly realized they had left the protection of the wood and were in an open space. The way the wind blew told her that hills or even mountains stood on their right that would look over the vale where they had taken refuge. Behind her Eriane could feel the race; she felt the power of the hunter come closer and as its presence overwhelmed her space she realized the hunter was a Huntress as in the days of old. The woman’s might was such that she could slow them down. It was something pure and unique similar to the power held by hunters during the time when the gods walked the earth and who influenced the choices of their preys to bring them where they wished. Only they were not animals and they were not yet the preys. Eriane stopped in her tracks.
“Eriane, we must continue, take refuge in the mountains.”
“Mother, Jilan’s right. It is our only chance.”
“Are you sure?”
“Of course, are not you?”
“I am and that is the issue. The Hunter is influencing us. That is where they want us to go. I refuse.”
“But what if they catch up with us.”
“They will catch up. I am too weak and too slow to prevent it. I need strength to face her. That Huntress can track our auras; we need to confuse her. The others will not know.”
“Form a circle. I’ll need your help. I cannot do it alone. Now.”
She did not look, neither could she see what the novices were doing so assuming they were doing as she asked Eriane knelt and laid her hands on the ground before she lay down that her entire body be in contact with the grass and the humid earth.
“Alia, I need…”
She did not say more for Alia, revealing a little bit more of her strength, started chanting.
“Elvana, your high priestess’s in need.
Pray let her find in the earth
The power she offered as due
For your glory and service.
All your daughters beg you
Take our powers instead
That our guide might save
The one who adore you.”
“Great Mother I beg you
Forgive my insolence
For I ask for a power
Without paying the price.
Judge my soul and intent
Look into my heart and know
I ask that I may save others.”
The earth shook around them but the young girls and Jilan did not falter. They knew they must maintain the circle and they did. She felt the energy gathering between them before it plunged into the earth as it trembled once more. The quake passed and something soft, like a layer of fog surrounded her. She felt it as it entered her and measured her faith and intent; she had never used this spell and it was one dangerous. Now she understood why; the pain that racked her body was excruciating and she screamed. Beyond that fog of pain a voice rang stern.
“Do not let go Selene. Otherwise we are doomed.” She heard Alia’s voice filled with authority and a knowledge that she shouldn’t have. But she could not fathom why and the suffering within would not have let her think properly. When it finally passed she breathed out; something was inside her that was too powerful for her to comprehend. She knew though that when this power was used she’d need days to recover. She stood and turned to the girls who gasped; some brought their hands to their mouths in shock. She was seeing again… What a weird thing that sight could come and go like that. What did it mean?
“Eriane?” Jilan asked. “Are you allright?”
She willed a protection to surround them and she felt the air shudder around her as an invisible wall of sort rose around the girls and Jilan while she moved away from the group even as the hunting party crossed into the clearing. She heard Alia call but it did not matter; she was safe.
In response to the Daily Post writing prompt earth
This is the first draft for a part of a longer story… It needs editing but I don’t have the time today. I’m on vacation, I leave to catch my flight in 15 minutes. I won’t be having access to the internet for a week, maybe tonight and tomorrow but it’s not guaranteed. I’ve scheduled a couple of posts but will catch up when I get back next Sunday.