Caleath Invades Troubled Waters — Part II

Caleath Invades Troubled Waters

Beware! When serial snapshots collide mid-fiction, the future will never be the same. Find out what happens as … Caleath Invades Troubled Waters.

If you haven’t read Part I, you better hop over to Rosalie Skinner’s Blog first. Part III follows tomorrow at Francene Stanley’s Blog.

Caleath struggled free of Sasha’s grip to ward off her latest knight. “We were only talking. Nothing more.”

“Boris!” Sasha’s gasp of excitement drew Caleath’s attention. Would she really marry the giant although she roamed the woods with Aron?

A fist slammed into the side of his head. He stumbled with the impact. Sasha squeaked. Obviously Queen Sasha maintained a stable of knights. Given a choice, dodging blows from Aron seemed preferable to keeping out of Boris’s grasp.

As his head cleared, Caleath ducked and stepped clear of the attacker’s reach. His instinct to retaliate remained in check. Rather than harm these people, he needed their help. How else could he figure out where he was and a means of leaving?

Boris fought with gusto and enthusiasm, but his weight slowed him. Sasha called encouragement from a safe distance. Caleath couldn’t quite figure who she supported. Her enjoyment seemed evenly balanced between moments when Boris’s fists found their target and those when Caleath dodged and the giant overreached.

As Caleath’s fist made contact with the behemoth’s shoulder, the jarring jolt left him breathless. He sidestepped but failed to evade Boris’s grasp as huge fingers sought a hold of his jacket and tossed him like a child’s toy across the clearing. The sudden impact with the ground freed several loose ideas inside Caleath’s head. Grinning, he scrambled to his feet, finally aware of where he was.

Dialect and obscure references swirled in a miasma of memories. Names, places, people and myths coalesced with a certainty he found exhilarating. For whatever reason, whoever manipulated the matter transporter had dumped him on Old Earth. Britain, Merlin, Corn World, it all made horrendous sense.

He ducked, dodged and swivelled clear of Boris’s fist. The next blow brushed his shoulder.

“Stop dancing, you dratted butterfly,” Boris barked.

“Stop complaining, or I’ll fly away.” Unable to remain completely clear of the huge man’s anger, Caleath felt he controlled the battle. A blow to his kidney caught him on a wound not yet healed. Pain speared through his side. The sudden surge of adrenaline prompted Caleath to finish the fight.

He kept the giant off balance, offering easy targets, making the most of the time it took for the big man to recover. When Boris accidentally slammed his fist into a tree, he doubled over, clutching his hurting knuckles. Caleath landed three quick punches before striking a knockout blow to the giant’s jaw. Sasha’s shout of dismay dissolved into a startled gasp. Caleath spun to see what caused her change of heart.

Charging out of nowhere, Aron swung a huge lump of firewood. Before he could react, the makeshift club knocked Caleath clear into the Abyss.

* * *
A rock pressed against Boris’s shoulder blade, another against his chin. No, not possible. He opened his eyes and stared at black trees and a dark sky. Where? He groaned, lifted a hand to his throbbing chin. Who? Oh, right, that other skinny young buck who had his hands all over the woman he meant to marry.

Boris sat up and shook his head. Still dizzy. Where was she? Glancing around, he spotted a lump under an old yew tree. Boris struggled to his feet and trudged over. The groping stranger. Huh. So he did knock the badger out. Rubbing his chin, Boris wondered who sent him into dreamland then. No matter, he had to find the woman. His woman. He stomped off searching for signs and pulled the tiny shell on a string from his pocket. She’d shown him the way once before. At first he thought she’d lost the necklace. But how could she? She’d placed it at eye level on a branch for him to find. But why? She’d run away with that Aron fellow anyway. Like they all did. Women ogled him, smiled at him sometimes, but they all ran when he got too close. Afraid. The whole lot of them.

But then he’d promised to marry her, and he would. He’d never met anyone like her before. So delicate and good with words.

He’d found traces of the woman and man leading towards the sinking sun. Footprints, a tuft of the fur strip she’d wrapped around her legs. And the little shell on a string.

Shells grew in the sea. She’d left him a message, told him where they were going. She wanted him, so he followed.

A scuffle ahead. Footsteps. He approached slowly.

There. She stood motionless, all by herself, craning her neck. No noise now.

Two more steps, then one. With one hand he grabbed her shoulder, pressed the other over her mouth and pulled her against his chest.

She flung out her arms. A muffled scream seeped through his fingers. Then her arms dropped. For a sickening moment, he worried he’d hurt her. She relaxed against him. One hand slipped over his and gently pried his fingers from her mouth.

She turned around and smiled at him. “Boris!”

The sound of his name coming from her lips made his knees tremble.

“I knew you’d come. And not a moment too soon. Help my companion.”

“Waa?”

She nodded in the direction of the scuffle. “Save him. Do it for me.”

His head shook instinctively.

She frowned. “You can’t even do that? Are you afraid of these ruffians? A bulk of a man like you? Aron knocked out the stranger who attacked you. Help him!”

* * * *

The fresh air in the forest comforted Cerridwen with cool leaf buds above and mossy ground underfoot. Branches embraced her as she pushed through their cover after Trevly. His muddied golden strands hung just below his ears and showed signs of a recent cut. She’d offer help next time to avoid the ragged line.

It felt comforting to have a man by her side who’d risk his life for her. She slowed. More rocks lay scattered ahead. She concentrated on where to place her bare feet. Surviving against all odds, in a land populated with brown- and black-skinned people, she realized that she must be here for some purpose. Something about the way the sun came through to the earth had weakened others of her kind. In the before-times, many white women couldn’t reproduce. She heard stories about some process called Ivy they’d used when they wanted to make babies. When the floods swept everything away, all that changed. Over the years, her family and friends died off, leaving just her. Perhaps one day she would find others.

“Ouch.” She bent to rub her toe.

Trevly turned back and scanned the area before his gaze settled on her. “What’s wrong?”

She studied him in amazement. There he stood in tough boots wondering what caused her to stop. Raising her eyebrows, she straightened. “Don’t worry about me. You go on.”

His features squeezed up in self-reproach. “I’m sorry. I should have been more considerate.” He glanced around, as if he could find a tree sprouting shoes to fit her amongst the twigs. He stepped close and looked down at his boot dwarfing her bare foot. He shook his head. “I’d let you have them, but I doubt you’d be able to walk in them.”

She chuckled and touched his arm. “I dreamed once about a place where you could find rows and rows of shoes. All sorts and colours. Not plain, but fancy, pointy, straps with metal things catching them. I selected some long red boots. A lady helped me find some that would fit my feet that were the same style as those I picked.” She laughed. “Guess what―she slid the leg section apart as if cutting it with a sharp knife. After I put my foot into the bottom, she slid the leather together again right up to my knee. They were wonderful.”

Trevly studied her. “Very strange.”

“Never mind.” Her dreams of the before-times puzzled her even more. She set off again when she spotted a slumped figure in the grass of a clearing. Trevly! See the body there?” No longer watching her steps, she hurried towards the prone figure, pulling Trevly after her.

“Careful, Wen! We don’t know who he is.”

Cerridwen’s instinct told her he did not sleep. No aura surrounded him. She kneeled by the dead man’s side, while Trevly stood watch. The stranger breathed. Not dead but no colour pulsing around him? Even animals had primitive auras. Who or what was he? Puzzled by his skin, as fair as her own, and his hair, only slightly darker than Trevly’s, she glanced from one man to the other. “He could be your brother, Trevly.”

“Mother Nature has already taken my brothers.” With his own aura the colour of violet, Trevly squatted beside her. “What’s wrong with him?”

“I’m not sure. Why don’t you build a fire to keep us all warm?”

Trevly sniffed. “There’s a fire burning close by.” His voice dropped to a whisper. “Careful, Wen. There might be someone in that cave.”

Cerridwen glanced around. Many footsteps had flattened the grass.

“I’ll check it out.”

She grasped his arm. “Don’t risk anything.”

“I don’t hear voices, breathing or heartbeats close by. We should be safe.”

Relieved, she let him go and turned her attention to the injured man. She examined the already healed gash on the back of the stranger’s head. No caked blood. This must be an old wound. She touched it, sensed heat and a swelling. Very strange. What amazing healing powers did this man wield? At a slight moan, she whisked her hand away. He slowly eased on his back. His eyelids flittered.

“Can we move him?” Trevly called.

Cerridwen turned to see him return with a burning piece of wood held on the other end.

“I’ve found a cozy nest.”

* * * *

Rogue mules tried to batter their way to freedom through Caleath’s skull. He concentrated on settling his heartbeat before he risked opening his eyes. Voices, not bickering, but still speaking a bastardised English, intruded on his headache. Smoke, the scent of damp forest and a subtle odour of talent teased his nostrils. No food. He drew a deep breath and explored the areas of pain, remembering contact with the giant with regret. Certain he would heal, and if needed, could defend himself again, Caleath opened his eyes.

Two figures watched him. For a moment the flickering light of a single burning log wedged into the ground illuminated an angel. Caleath blinked. The girl gasped. No, not a girl. He sensed the strength of a woman, though she still carried herself with the innocence of a virgin. Her black hair, blue eyes and fragile figure reminded him of the fairest of the Vergöttern. He stifled a sudden impulse to spend the rest of his life protecting her. Glancing toward the male hovering at her side, he realized where the urge originated. He didn’t envy the man his role. The words offered on his arrival echoed in his head. He must not interfere with the quest this girl embarked on.

“He’ll live, Trevly.” The woman’s voice possessed a magical quality. He wondered if she understood the power she could summon.

“I don’t think we should trust him,” she whispered. “There is darkness, a writhing knot of vipers twisting through his soul, preventing his aura to radiate. He frightens me.”

“Wen, he doesn’t look dangerous. I won’t let you to come to harm.” Trevly stepped out of Caleath’s sight. His voice dropped. “We should help him. Look.”

Wen turned her head. Caleath didn’t risk following her gaze. The mules finally gave up their continuous pounding and he didn’t want to annoy them again.

An awed hiss came from the woman’s throat. She pointed. “What are they doing, Trevly? Three hares coming to your hand?”

“They understand his need for food. Our need. We won’t go hungry today.”

“We never go hungry with you as provider.” Wen’s voice trembled. Caleath smelt the first breath of fear emanate from her trembling throat. “This isn’t right.”

Comments (8)

FranceneApril 28th, 2012 at 7:21 am

Is this magic? Find out tomorrow. I’m so excited to share this three-way mini-story.

Lady Rosalie SkinnerApril 28th, 2012 at 8:28 am

I think it this has a magic touch. Great fun and a wonderful experience sharing characters!

EdithApril 28th, 2012 at 8:39 am

It sure is great fun, magic or not. :-)

Wendy LApril 28th, 2012 at 9:43 am

Oh my word, this is complicated now. I’m worried you’ll confuse your characters and they might forget to which series they belong, because I’m sure they’ll have a hard time finding their way back to their most recent books. Maybe they will want to link up forever in cyber space with or without magic. I see the authors are having great fun here.

EdithApril 28th, 2012 at 9:56 am

Valid concern, Wendy. Sasha would certainly love to keep Caleath around, or sneak away with him to a different world. Wen and Trevly might help him escape though.

Lady Rosalie SkinnerApril 28th, 2012 at 10:40 am

I think Caleath could get used to Corn World! Don’t know how things elsewhere would turn out if he didn’t return.
It’s all fun.

EdithApril 28th, 2012 at 11:27 am

Ah, no time to rest for the wary space traveler… Poor Caleath, but at least there are no dragon lords around in Corn World. At least as far as we know.

FranceneApril 28th, 2012 at 5:12 pm

Dragon? Did someone mention a dragon? I thought Aron made them up or repeated tales from his childhood. Be afraid, Corn World travellers.

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