No prompts this week. Things are hotting up for our boys. I apologise for the little cliffhanger - er, no I'm not :D
“You would dare to interrupt a sacred ritual?” the Druid roars, his voice magnified by the cave walls and sent back in endless echoes.
“You promised you would wait?” Mother says, as father holds back a furious King Aleric.
“I said the ritual would take place at sunrise.”
“The ritual is almost at its end.” Mother has changed since she came from the temple. The Great Mother would not speak to me, so she retired to the inner sanctum alone. She assures me The Mother will save our love, but it’s hard to believe.
“Preparation is not the ritual.”
“You play with words, as you play with people. You have lost your way.”
“My way is that of the land, and not for you to question.”
“The land still belongs to The Mother. It would be wise you remember that.”
As Mother and the Druid continue to argue, I realize that Castien’s eyes are alert. He is no longer in the thrall of the Druid. Why, then, does he do nothing?
Castien holds out his hand to me. Does he want me to go to him? Am I permitted? I glance at the Druid whose attention is all on my mother. My father struggles to prevent King Aleric drawing his sword. What should I do? The Druid is the most powerful man in the land. He controls the magic that comes from the earth. All living things are under his control; his command. What would he do to me if I disobey?
Castien’s eyes darken. He sees the coward I am. That I would stand by and let him sacrifice himself, and our love for…what? What if he does have some higher purpose? What if he is destined to save us? If I selfishly cling to my love, will I doom us all?
Castien’s hand falls and he looks so…defeated. No. It cannot be wrong. This feeling; this love. I would sooner die now than live the rest of my life without him, knowing I stood by and did nothing.
The cave is not big, but it seems a long way. As I run, the Druid turns and orders me to stop, but by the time his words leave his mouth, Castien’s hand is in mine, and they have no more power over me.
“Get back where you belong, boy. Do not think you can defy me or deny me. I will not hesitate to hurt you if I must.”
“Kai, how could you say that?”
Castien squeezes my hand. “We must go into the fire together,” he says and the world holds its breath.
“But…but I can’t. I’m not magical. It would burn me, like the starflower dust.”
“No. It won’t. Will you trust me?”
“But…but you don’t know what it can do. You can’t….”
“No, but…. I can’t explain. She told me not to listen to anyone who says we can’t do this, because we can. We can do it together. We can be together and no one will be able to part us again. I know this is true. Will you trust me?”
How can I trust him? I know what will happen if I go into the fire, but he doesn’t. And yet…. “How? How do you know?”
“She told me.”
“Who is She?”
“A lady. She said she’s The Great Mother, or an image of her. She said I’m not Druach but something more. We’ll have power. Both of us. Together we can save both our lands. I know it here.” He takes both our hands and presses them over his heart. “Do you trust me?”
“Yes.” I must be crazy, but I do. I thought our bond had broken but gazing into his eyes it’s easy to see that there are some bonds not even the Druid can break. He is the other half of my soul and if walking into the fire ends my life, at least I will end it with him. The truly crazy thing is I don’t believe it will end me. He says I will be safe, and I believe him.
Castien leads me toward the fissure and I realize for the first time that the cave is still and silent. I glance back over my shoulder and freeze. Everyone else is frozen, too.
“I don’t know, but we must hurry while they can’t stop us.
As Castien reaches the cleft, the Druid breaks free from whatever spell held him. Suddenly he is there, right beside us. He grabs my shoulder and flings me away. I fall heavily against the altar and pain blossoms in my shoulder. Even so, I struggle to my feet in time to see the Druid strike Castien hard with his staff. Castien cries out and stumbles against the wall, raising his hand to his head. Blood runs down his cheek and I am spurred to do the unthinkable.
Drawing my sword and ignoring the pain in my shoulder, I surge to my feet and strike the unsuspecting Druid with the hilt, driving him back, away from Castien. Then the point of my sword wavers before his chest.
“Touch him again and I’ll kill you.”
I expect the Druid to attack me with his staff, but he simply takes a step back and starts to laugh.
“Your cub has claws,” he says.
Castien tugs at my sleeve. “We must go. I-I….”
I half turn. Castien stands erect, but his face has lost all colour and he sways. I sense, rather than see the Druid’s attach and fling Castien through the gap, leaping after him. The Druid’s staff catches me across the back and I fall to my knees. He grabs my ankle but I manage to kick my foot out of its boot and stumble to my feet, throwing myself forward.
Peach light surrounds me, blinding me. The fire burns, but I feel no pain as I slowly dissolve into nothing.
Now go hunt down the rest of the flashers for even more literary delights