The Dark Times

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The Dark Times; Part 14

'You must leave immediately. Repeat immediately. Will explain later. Licorne'

Aituár stared at the paper, reading the message over and over again. When she finally moved, it was to wipe the claws of Déomarr clean from ink and put him in the metal case. She gathered the pages she had already finished and then, hesitantly, she took the message, folded it, and put it into her skirt pocket.

'Must leave, must leave' she murmured to herself while she went in search of Abraham, her head full of thoughts of the future. When she finally found him, busy attacking the weeds in the kitchen garden, she handed him the finished pages and said:

'I must go - I - I have received an urgent message!'

The monk straightened his back and peered worriedly into her eyes.

'Are you sure? Silly question, I can see you are serious about leaving us' he replied. He dug in his pockets and handed her a couple of coins as payment for the pages she given him.

'You go and gather your things - I will prepare some food for you to take on your journey.'

Aituár hastened to her room and gathered the few things she owned. As she put the metal case into her shoulder bag she looked around the room one final time to check that she had remembered everything. She had been happy here, and she was already beginning to miss the feeling of being comfortable, and safe. Who knew what the future would bring?

Outside, the short and sturdy monk was already waiting for her, as was Wotan. This did not surprise her much, as she had gotten used, by now, to his habit of meddling in her business. While she stuffed away the package that Abraham handed her, Wotan unfolded a map. Conferring over it together with with the monk, he finally exclaimed:

'North! We will go north - it is probably the safest way!'

Aituár and the bearded, one-eyed man left the village and, looking back, Aituár felt a pang of regret as she waved goodbye to Abraham. But there was not much she could do and she turned her back on the village that had become her home for a few days, trying to concentrate on the road ahead of her.

The air felt chilly, and Aituár could see the first signs of the approaching autumn around her. She almost had to run to keep up with Wotan, who did not speak much. He sent his ravens ahead of them and time after time they would return and land on his shoulder, whispering into his ear. Every now and then they would pull back from the road when people were approaching and wait until the others had passed, hidden in the bushes.

After a short midday break, they continued their journey. It was growing darker, and just as Aituár was about to tell Wotan that she was too tired to go on much longer, he stopped.

'We will spend the night here!' he said, and pointed. Aituár peered around him, and saw the ruins of what appeared to have been a castle ahead of them.

'Find yourself a nice sheltered corner - I will keep guard!'

Aituár searched the ruins and managed to find a place where she could sleep; just beneath the crumbling wall of what appeared to have been a small stone hut, where she gathered some fir twigs and arranged them into a bed. After feeding Déomarr, she unwrapped the package from Abraham and hungrily attacked the bread and the dried meat and the tomatoes. She looked around for Wotan, but could not see him anywhere, so she packed away the remaining food.

Aituár lay awake for some time, contemplating the starry sky with Déomarr contentedly snoring next to her. Fondly she regarded the sleeping dragonling who was now the size of a kitten, thinking that she would soon need to find a bigger case - the snake catcher's case was almost too small for him now.

Finally she managed to fall asleep, but it was a sleep full of restless, worrying dreams. Suddenly Aituár was awakened by a big hand clasped over her mouth, and someone whispering into her ear:

'Not a sound!'

Where is Wotan when you need him?

Who is trying to silence Aituár - and why?


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