Chapter 9 Last Bit of Advice
The night was so beautiful, the most beautiful I had ever seen. The stars were sparkling, and the silver moon beamed and smiled down on me. I purposely decided to ignore the dark, foreboding clouds that were growing on the horizon. It would be at least a few hours, or a few days before they overshadowed my home. By that time, I will be long gone…away with Peter.
This is going to be wonderful. The words floated through my mind like a dream. This will be the one of the best nights of my life. I was finally leaving; I would able to see things for myself. I could finally learn.
As I came closer to my cottage, my brisk walk began to slow. My hands began to sweat when I remembered I would have to tell my parents, my father. I bit my lip, and tried to think of what I would say. I have to be firm, but gentle. I am going, and I will not be gone too long. It will only be a few months, at most. This is a once in a life time chance. I will not be going by myself, I will be with Peter, Anna, and Frederick.
I tried to picture Father’s response. “You cannot go. It is dangerous! You know nothing about what is out there.”
This is my chance to find out, my only chance. Let me see for myself. I promise I will be careful, and I will be back soon. I nodded in approval. “That will be fine. The worst he can do is say no…yes, that is the worst. But I am going with or without his blessing.”
I opened the gate and walked towards the door. As I reached for the latch, guilt flooded my soul as I remembered my last words to my father. I have no plans to run away, not without your blessing. I love you too much. I sighed. “Try your absolute best to not leave without his blessing.” I opened the door.
“I knew it.” Father was seated in his usual chair across from Mother. “You are back before the curfew, though you are later than what I expected.”
“What?” I asked. “How long has it been since sunset?”
“Half hour.” He looked up and smiled, though it did not touch his eyes.
“Did you expect problems?”
“Never mind how I figured it, but the fact is that you are here early. Either you and Peter have had a fight, or he told you something very exciting that you feel you must share it immediately.”
“Well,” I took a seat. This was not going as I expected. “He did tell me something rather interesting.” I glanced at Mother, who was sewing hastily. She kept her head low, but I knew she was listening. “His family is leaving tomorrow.”
She glanced up. “Why do they have a sudden urge to leave?”
I tried to think of the best explanation. “It must be because they are travelers. They probably do not like staying at one place too long. But they plan to come back here after a few months.” When neither of them commented, I decided now would be the best time. “I plan to go with them.”
Again, silence met my words. Mother looked away, and Father stared at me, his face blank as parchment. I refused to drop my gaze, and made sure I appeared determined. Finally, he sighed. “Well Maggie, it seems to me this path has been made for you. I would follow it at all costs.”
“You have my blessing to leave.” He paused, and did not seem to understand my shock. “You can leave.”
“You want me leave?”
“No,” He sat straighter and looked at me hard. “I do not want you leave. You are my only daughter, and I do not want you to be harmed. But I also know you. You want to leave, you want to have a chance to explore. Here is a chance. Please, take it. Frederick is a reasonable man, and you have been courting Peter a few months. I have no reason to not trust them.” He stopped, then stated slowly. “I hope, more than trust, that you will be smart. You have been rather foolish, especially these last few weeks.” I flinched as his words stung. “That being said, you can be bright when you want to be.” He knelt in from of me, and took my hand. “You will be free to make your own decisions, but I only ask that you obey these last rules. Seek what you know to be true, never stray from that path. Identify what is important, and stick with it.” He paused. “Use your head and heart, but never your heart alone. It can be deceiving. Finally, do not drink anything that appears unnatural.” He squeezed my hand. “Understand?”
“I promise.” I stated. Despite the realization that I would not be seeing them for a while, I smiled. I could leave with a clear conscience.
“Well,” Father stood up. “I guess we had better help you prepare.” I jumped out of my seat and kissed him on the cheek. I could hardly contain my excitement. He smiled ever so slightly, but it still did not touch his eyes. He turned away and began to rummage through some of his things. I saw him grab an old pack made of red clothe and a wooden frame.
Mother stood up slowly, and I gave her a kiss on the cheek as well. “Maggie, are you sure?” She asked tentatively.
“I am.” I stated confidently.
“I believe this is the best thing for her, Ella.” Father said. He studied the pack for a moment. “Your mother made a number of biscuits, might as well give you all of them. There is some dried fruit leather in the cellar, and I think we can spare a bit of cheese and dried meat as well.” Mother nodded in agreement, and made a few suggestions for clothes.
We searched the cottage for useful items and packed till the moon reached its zenith. Father then stopped the progress and demanded we get some sleep. I reluctantly obeyed, but I was so excited and nervous I was not sure if I slept at all. My biggest fear was sleeping in and missing them.
As if my body sensed my fears, and somehow kept track of the time, I awoke with a start an hour before sunrise. My parents also rose from their beds, and helped me with last minute packing. Father positioned the stuffed pack on my back, placed a filled water skin on my shoulder, and Mother found an old cloak which she quickly wrapped me in. I had a horrible feeling that I looked like a hunchback.
“Just one more thing.” Father stated. He pulled out his soft, deerskin pouch and placed it around my neck. “I managed to save four Colbones, and two Greescents. I am giving you two Colbones and one Greescent.”
I shook my head. “I do not need that much.”
“Yes you do.” He said firmly. “Your mother and I lived off of only one Colbone before, we can most certainly make it with two. Spend them wisely, and only when needed. Do not spend anything on trifles at this time.”
I nodded, but added. “It still seems to be too much though. Peter said he only expected us to be gone for a few months, at most. I imagine we will be back before you know it.”
A strange look passed through both my parent’s faces. “Just stay on the path you know to be right,” my father ordered, “and do not look back. Keep safe.”
He opened the door, and gestured for us to go out. Before I could take a step, Mother grabbed my arm. “One more thing.” She took off her necklace, and placed it around my neck. “Give it back when you return, that is a promise you must keep.”
I smiled. “I promise.”
We stepped into the cold, lightless, and lifeless night. Not a sound could be heard, and the black clouds I had seen on the horizon had successfully plundered the sky of its light. I could not see our mountains, and the cottages were nothing more than dark rocks jutting from the ground.
At the thought of rocks…stones…I remembered the brooch. As swiftly as possibly, I slipped the brooch out of my pocket and into my father’s pouch. It should be safe there. I reasoned.
Before we were fifty feet away from the cottage, the warm light of a lantern pierced the darkness. The deep voice of King Frederick met our ears. “A rather unexpected turn of events, but at least this one is welcome.” I wondered if he truly meant it. His face appeared grim with a hint of alarm. I had a feeling he would keep that expression for a little while, but I sure hoped he would not look at me that way.
“Grammarcy, Frederick.” I said. “I promise I will not be a burden in any way.”
He smiled. “I am happy to have you, Maggie.” He turned towards my parents. “She will be safe with us.”
“Safer there than here.” Father stated. I glanced at him, drawing my eyebrows together. “She has a lot to discover for us.” He tapped my shoulder.
Was there something I was missing? Was there an actual danger occurring here? Suspicions. I inwardly groaned. They have nothing to worry about.
“We will see.” Frederick said slowly.
I embraced my parents one last time. “I will miss you.”
“And we you.” Mother whispered. “Do not stay away for too long.”
With my final goodbyes still on my lips, I followed Frederick towards his cottage. Peter and Anna stood at the gate, waiting. Both were wearing packs and traveling cloaks. I noticed that Peter was clenching his hand at a slightly awkward angle. It was resting on a pommel of a sword that was strapped to a belt around his waist. When he caught sight of us, he bounded forward and took my hand. “Ready?” he asked.
“Let’s not waste time then.” Frederick stated as he led the way towards the woods. I realized that he was wearing a sword too, a rather magnificent one that gleamed even in the night. “We will take the Eastern route through Betach Mountains, and that should lead us to Sunoida.”
“How long do you think it will be?” I asked.
“To Sunoida, three days at most.”
As we passed the last cottage, I heard Anna mutter. “Here we go again, life behind us as the world before us.” As if to support her words, the first beams of sunshine broke through the night.
I think, for now, this will be the last chapter I will post for Traitor of Tipharah. I’m hoping, God-wiling, it will be published by the end of the year. I might post segments of another book I’m working on, but it’s still pretty rough. Thanks for reading! : D