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First Chaos – Sixth Chapter – Elise

Posted: August 11, 2013 by eyeamelise in Chaos #1
Previous: Chapter 5 by Kella || Next: Chapter 7 by Kymele

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The party of Kyri, Ike, Anod, and Tris had made their way deep into the forests.  They had been traveling for a long while, as quickly as they could muster.  The sky was clouding up, and darkness comes more quickly when one is unprepared.  Even though Stonehaven was only a half dozen kliks away, and it still the middle of the afternoon, the extent of the injuries of the party made traveling in the dark slow and unsafe.  As they had traveled through the forests, away from the smell of the smoke and death, memories flowed into Tris.  The decade she had spent off-planet melted away as her memories of each tree and stone lit up brighter in her mind.  The smells of the mosses and soil filled her with feelings of energy and home.  She knew exactly where she was, like she had never left.

Tris was leading the group, and stopped before them.  “We need to stop,” she said.  “To rest.”

Ike looked at her fiercely through a pain-filled wince. “You nuts, lady?  We’re going slow enough as it is – they’ll be on top of us in a hot minute.” Kyri and Anod looked at their mother’s long-lost sister, similarly concerned.

“You could be leading us right to them!  We don’t know you, or what you intend to do here,” Anod hissed.

Tris had anticipated this reaction, which is why she had stopped at the precise point she did.  She turned away from the group, and touched the trunk of a rather large tree next to her.  She slid her hands over the bark, remembering.

“What in the hell are you doing?  We’ve got to go!” Ike snarled.  As he did, though, Tris’ hands had found the catch in the darkness, and a previously invisible door opened in the trunk of the tree.  Kyri’s eyes widened.  Behind the door the tree was carved out, and darkness slipped down inside, roots and dirt hollowed out, creating a room under the forest floor, large enough for the entire party.

“Get in,” Tris said, “We’ll be safe for now.  So we can rest.  We’ll make it to Stonehaven at first light.”  The rest remained skeptical at the notion of stopping, but their injuries became rather evident as they stood there, the pain filling them with exhaustion.

Anod was the first to slip down into the hole in the tree, holding his stubbed arm close to him as he used his one good one to catch himself on the dirt floor of the room.  He scuttled to the edge, to get out of the way of others coming down.

Silently, the rest followed, at a loss for another plan.  Tris was the last, and she heard movement in the forest, and saw a light through the trees.  She quickly closed the door behind her, and the tree was simply a tree once more.

Under the roots, the room was actually quite spacious.  It was quiet, the soil around them absorbed sound.  There was enough height to sit up or crouch without fearing bumping one’s head.  However, it was pitch dark.

Ike turned on the flashlight at his wrist. Tris shot him a look and hissed, “Turn that off!  Using your Cyrex is like a beacon!”  Ike turned off the light, grumbled, but agreed it was probably a fair assessment.

Tris felt around in her bag, and pulled out a small pouch.  She crawled to the center of the room and poured out a small amount of powder onto the dirt floor.  From the bottom of her bag she found some berries she had collected when she first landed hours ago.  She squeezed them over the pile of powder and the powder popped and began to glow from some sort of chemical reaction.  Growing up with Eltari medicine then spending ten years learning science aboard Altair’s ship had definitely combined the best of both worlds.

The pile glowed warmly, and the group got a good look at each other and their injuries.   Now that Tris had some light, she looked through her bag for potential first aid supplies.

Kyri looked around, and her hopes about this place were becoming realized.  The walls of the subterranean room were smooth but for etchings filled with paint.   The drawings were simple.  Children’s drawings.  This is the place Kyri’s mother had told her about when she was a child to help her sleep.  This was the place Misa and Tris played as children.  Kyri had never seen it but in her dreams, after hearing the stories.  This made her suddenly feel safe.  And then, a wave of sorrow overcame her.  Her beloved Geneth, the other half of herself, was gone.  Maybe her mother, too.  Her home was in flames.  She started to cry.

Anod looked at her across the room through the glow.  He had lost so much blood from the loss of his hand that he was barely able to keep his eyes open.  He wanted to go to her, to hold her and console his little sister but he stay slumped against the opposite wall.  Tris began to tend to his wound.

Ike scootched over to the girl.  He heaved a battered arm around her and she instinctively turned into him and began sobbing into his chest. She was too exhausted to care that he was a stranger, the person who brought this whole mess upon her world, and also potentially a demon.

“I know it, kid.  I know,” he said, as he patted her silver hair, glistening in the warm glow from the center of the room.

“This is a safe place, “ Tris said as she worked on Anod.  “They cannot hear us, they cannot see our light.  Breathe deeply and this light will also help with the pain.”  She laid Anod down on his back so he could sleep.  She went over to Ike and went to attend to him and he shooed her.

“Lady, as soon as we can get out of this place I am done with you.  I made a promise to protect this kid.  You brought your buddies here to blow us all up.  I’m only down in this hole because it seemed a hair better than the alternative.  I don’t trust you, and I sure don’t like folks who want to kill me.” He gripped Kyri’s shoulder.  She had stopped crying and looked at Tris.

“I know what this place is,” Kyri’s voice wavered.  “You really are my aunt.”  She looked into Tris’ amber eyes, looking for some kind of answer.  In the face of all the loss of the day, the realization of an additional family member was welcome, despite the harshness with which her mother had regarded the woman.

“I never thought I would be gone this long.  There were so many times I tried to come back.  Wanted to come back.” Tris absentmindedly rubbed her forehead with two fingers where Misa had kissed her.

“I owe you and Anod so much more than this.  Tonight we’ll be safe here, you’ll all heal.  We need to rest to be strong for … whatever Rell brings us tomorrow.”  They sat in silence.  They were too tired for panic, for outrage, for indignation.  Now they all lined the room, lying down around the glow, waiting for sleep to poke through the fading pain.  Tris spoke quietly into the air, telling a story to soothe her companions and herself.

“Long ago, when our people were new, there was a creature called Jymm. Jymm was small and furry but walked and spoke like an Eltari.  His eyes were black and careful.  Jymm was magical and protected the Eltari from the pale ones.

“He lived in a tree and could see for hundreds of kliks away.  All the way to the north, so he could see danger approaching.  He was happy to help the Eltari, but could only climb up.  To warn us he had to fall far down the branches to the ground. We learned how to make medicines to heal him, to repay him for his help.

“These medicines have made us strong and resilient.   Another gift from Rell.

“One day, Jymm fell from the tree to tell us what he had seen.  Far to the north he had seen so many pale demons with red eyes.  He told us they would destroy us all.  We healed Jymm and prayed to Rell to protect us.  Jymm did not climb back up the tree.  He told us if we traveled to the volcano and learned its properties we would be able to make a medicine that would keep him safe so he could fight the pale ones.

“We traveled to the volcano and learned about acidshale.  We learned about sootflowers.  We learned many secrets of the volcano.  We came back and made Jymm a potion that gave him great strength and power.  He had the power of flight!  He flew to the north and was gone.  But the pale ones never came.  We knew we were safe. Rell sent Jymm to protect us, and gave us the gift of learning. Through Rell’s love we are safe.

“We have forgotten how to make this potion, but we have not forgotten the sacrifice that Jymm made for us, and that we will be protected.”

The room was quiet.

“That story was ridiculous,” Ike mumbled. “A flying bear?  Magic potion?  You’ve got to be kidding me.”  He had to give it to her, though – the part about Eltari knowing their business when it comes to healing.

Kyri had heard versions of this story before.  It was a common bedtime story and brought her comfort as she faded to sleep.

Tris thought of Altair. She knew that despite the day’s events and her current precarious situation with the people around her, she may be the only one capable of setting things right.  She was beyond enraged, but knew she had to keep her head about her now in order to protect the remaining members of her family as well as the precious cargo up on the ship. She heard Ike’s breathing slow.  They were all three asleep. She quietly climbed up out of the tree.  They were safe for now, and she needed to find Altair.

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Previous: Chapter 5 by Kella || Next: Chapter 7 by Kymele