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Jessica Shaffer Jessica Shaffer
Recommendations: 9

The Meeting Tree - Prologue

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Under the Double Star - Chapter One

I've never written a fantasy story. But sometimes these characters come to me and I feel I must give them a voice. PLEASE feel free to make suggestions and if you notice any errors let me know. My fingers sometimes type faster then my brain can think...


       The forest was humming a low tune, it was a song only fog could sing as it hung low enough to cover the fallen trees. Early morning creatures rose from their slumber. They hoped to be drenched by the warm sun, but were greeted only by the cold wetness of dew and autumn. Nora sat under an old tree holding her knees to her chest. Her red hair cascaded down to the ground, keeping her face and arms warm. Closing her eyes, she blocked out the noise of the forest. I‘ll snap a  twig three times. When you hear this signal, stand if you are alone, stay seated if you were followed. Only then I will know if it’s safe for me to come out.  She tried her best to listen, but the energy of the forest bled together into one long note.
       All night she waited at the rendezvous, the large tree three miles west of the road. He called it the meeting tree. She had passed the oak many times in her life. With her father, while he taught her to hunt, and with her mother while they were berry picking. It was just an old tree. Tall and strong. Perfect to hide behind.        

Crack! Crick! Crack!

       Was that the signal? It was so vague. Nora’s heart began to pound and her palms began to sweat. A large knot formed in her throat. She began to fumble for her things when she heard it again.

Crick! Crack! Crick!

       Standing up, she became dizzy and held on to the tree for balance. The fog was so thick. How would she see him? Which way was he coming from? She began to wonder if she really heard the call or if it was wishful thinking. And as if it were the Reaper himself, she saw a cloaked figure protrude from the mist. It looked like he was floating. She started to tremble as nerves took over her body. His feet were light as they came face to face, the only sound was that of her breath. She gazed into his eyes for the first time in a long time. Nora couldn’t believe he was in front of her. She touched his cheek, caressing his unshaven face. Tears formed in her eyes, but she held them back. It was then that Errik finally leaned in to kiss her.
       “Are you sure no one followed you?” He asked pulling away. With her eyes still closed Nora wiped what was left of him off of her lips.
       “Yes. As long as I return with the elixir, I should be fine.”
       Errik pulled a small pouch from under his cloak. “Take it before I forget. That should be enough for all the horses.”  He stood almost a foot taller than Nora. She had never seen him so rugged, unclean. He had let his brown hair grow out and a beard was forming on his face.
       He’s changing his appearance, she thought.
       “People are starting to think you are dead… I was beginning to believe them. Rodderick assured me..” She had to stop. She started to cry. Taking a deep breath, Nora composed herself. “Your father is thinking of going to the sorcerers to find you. He knows, Errik. You have to come back.”
       “If I go back now Miikell will kill me. There have been some strong developments with the revolution. I can’t leave now. They need me.” Errik entwined his large hands into her tiny fingers. “Please look at me. Don’t believe anything they tell you, Nora. Don’t trust my father, or The Elite. You know why I left. I left for us, for this country…” His grip on her started to tighten.
       “Since you left, Kinnora is rethinking the treaty. Helm said with no heir to marry his daughter, he feels he has nothing to gain with Atkania. Miikell is very angry…”
       “Shh. I know Miikell is angry,” Errik said softly. “I love you. I wish we didn’t have to meet like this.” He came in a little closer to Nora, wrapping his long arms around her. “We don’t have much time left. Once the fog lifts it’ll be more dangerous for me to travel.” Nora rested herself against his body. It was familiar and warm. He even still smelled the same, like rain and pine. She wanted to tell him so much more, but he would only stop her.
       “Take me with you.” She dug her ear against his heart. Remember the beat, she thought. He took in a large sigh. She felt him quiver. There were very few times that Errik made himself vulnerable. With her, he did.
       “If you didn’t return, they would know. As long as you stay, they wont suspect anything.” Memories started to flood Errik’s mind. He wanted to take her. Sweep her away. But not yet. “Have they hurt you?”
       Nora kept her head down, shaking her head. “I think my father has convinced Miikell that I had nothing to do with your disappearance. I overheard him tell my mother that several Lieutenants would like to question me, but nothing has happened.”
       “The less you know, the safer you are.” He looked at her lovingly, caressing her pale cheek. “I must go now. Did Rodderick send you with anything?” She felt the heat return to her eyes. It was too soon. She needed more time with him.
       “This satchel. I didn’t look inside.” The only thing she knew was that Rodderick referred to it as the ‘latest developments’.  Errik was right. The less she knew, the safer she was. “When will I see you again?” She looked deep into his brown eyes. She wanted to remember this moment. Only his silence was the answer. He didn’t know.
       “I can’t promise anything.” And with that he leaned into kiss her one last time, lifting her up to meet his lips. She wrapped her arms around his neck, caressing his newly long hair. As they broke away, they both took one last glance at each other.
       “I love you, Nora of Green Wood.” He sat the hood of his cloak atop his head and turned. Nora fought back tears as she nodded. She couldn’t speak without crying. And as quietly as he appeared, he had left, engulfed in the fog. Nora listened for any signal that he was still out there, but only heard that familiar low hum that only the fog could sing.

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