Photograph legally purchased from Dollar Photo - additional elements added by Samuel Pray
Dangerous is an Erien setting story. Erien is currently being used as the setting for Battle Skies, a table top 3D fantasy aerial combat game from Final Sword Productions. RPG is in the works.
“Ally,” he whispered under his breath and swore as he stumbled behind her. “We shouldn’t be doing this. If we turn around now, they’ll never know we were gone. Come on, Ally, you haven’t thought this through. You know we’re forbidden to…”
“If you don’t want to do this, then go back. I won’t stop you.” She glanced back over her shoulder and stuck her tongue out. Brothers! What use were they anyway? All her brother ever did was whine, sulk and try to take all the fun out of her life. Now he’d insisted on tagging along with her when she’d tried to creep out without him. He couldn’t even keep quiet. How many sticks had he broken so far? And she didn’t want to think about the amount of times he’d found himself half snagged on a branch. She brushed a strand of hair back behind her left ear and tried to bring her emotions back under control. “It’s not like I can’t do this on my own.” Great, cowardice now, just when they were so close. “Go on, go back. I don’t need you.”
“Not going to happen.” He muttered, the words barely carrying even to her ears. “You’re stuck with me. If you’re going to do something this stupid, then I’m not going to let you go through this on your own. You’d do the same thing for me, right?”
“Sure,” Ally grinned and edged a little further through the trees, keeping low to the ground as they moved. Silent, they had to remain silent. Any sound might be enough to alert their prey. Maybe he was right and they shouldn’t do this, but the temptation – she’d waited a long time for an opportunity like this, long enough that Ally was all too well aware that it might be some time before the chance arose again.
Mom’s going to kill me when she finds out. They both are. Is he right? Should we turn around? Should I give up on doing this?
Well, not, not exactly kill, but the lecture – Ally shuddered at the thought. Their mother was the queen of painful lectures. The last one had lasted the better part of the day, the one for this infraction – would go down in the history scrolls. That, of course, would only happen if their little adventure was ever discovered. If – if is good.
“How much further?” Ben edged closer and hissed. “The longer we stay out here, the harder it’s going to be to creep back in without being caught. They’re going to be watching for us – I mean they will be if they find out that we’re gone.”
He was right, of course, but Ally wasn’t about to tell him that. She glared at him, putting the full force of her scant fourteen years into the look she shot his way. “When did you turn into such a whiner? You weren’t always like this. You used to be fun.”
“Dad won’t like it if he catches you name calling, you know what he thinks about that type of thing.” He stuck his bottom lip out. “Not like we can do anything with them if we find them. You know the rules. Look, but don’t approach.”
“You’d have to tell him what we were doing,” something Ally knew full well that Ben would never do. Not Ben the good one, the obedient one of the family. She was safe from that aspect if for no other reason than Ben wanted to stay in the good graces of their parents. That was just who he was and Ally doubted that would change anytime soon. “And yeah, I know the rules. Not like I’d want to hurt any of them.” She just wanted to see one – to know they were real.
Being the favorite child carried a price – and for once she was relieved that title fell on her brother instead of herself.
“Well, no but – gah. Fine. I won’t tell him.” He snorted, the noise a sharp note of derision. “Just don’t expect me to cover your ass when he finds out what’s been going on. Then there’s mom – it’s going to be…” he snorted again.
Ally froze, every muscle in her body tightening. If those sounds, his thoughtless snorts, carried to their prey… “Be. Quiet.” She kept her voice pitched low, not a whisper or a hiss that she knew would carry further than either of them wanted.
She lifted a hand, silencing him, or so she hoped.
Brothers. Can’t live with them, can’t push them off a cliff. Fine, he was sorry, but that wouldn’t fix things if the sound had carried. Hunters. Their family were hunters and healers – a powerful combination. It was time she used that knowledge – even though their father had made it clear, she wasn’t to go hunting on her own just yet. Too dangerous, too easy to be caught up in the power and be left unable to find your way back. Not that she believed the warnings – she’d always managed it before.
Sure, one or both of her parents had helped her. That wasn’t the point. She was stronger than they were willing to admit. At least this time she’d be able to prove it – even if she could never tell them. She could this without a guide, without a parent, and without anyone else telling her that she was but a child still learning her place within the world.
Ally bit back a sigh and listened.
Bird song, low but there. Did that mean meant the sound hadn’t been enough to send a warning through the trees? As she listened the song increased and she frowned. Not good. The noise had been enough to trigger a change but had their prey heard? Had there been enough of a cry, an alert from the birds, to warn them? She didn’t dare move. Not yet at least.
She knew what had to be done but if she rushed in, then there’d be a greater chance that she’d make the very mistakes her parents had warned her about. She frowned, focusing for a moment, going through everything that she’d been taught by her both her parents. Her father had focused on the skills of the hunter, her mother on the healer. Both meant becoming one with nature – it was one of the many tricks that her family had shared. The art of becoming either a hunter or a healer – if you were at peace with yourself, with the world around you, it became easier to slip through the cracks created by life, by the energy given off by each and every living thing.
Or so both her parents believed.
I can do this. They’ve shown me, walked me through this several times. It’s easy enough as long as I don’t lose focus.
Easy, as long as she followed the rules. She glanced around once, letting her gaze linger for a moment on the blue lichen that coated one side of a fallen branch before she settled down behind hit. Ally let the tension ease from her body, breathing with the release as she let herself sink into the sensations that surrounded her. Her heart rate lowered, skin prickled as she dug her fingers into the earth, the cool, damp earth beneath them. Life. She could feel it all around them. Worms, bugs, things so tiny she didn’t know their names.
She blinked, stunned at how easily she’d been able to sink a part of herself into the earth without either of her parents there to guide her. Don’t try on your own, they’d told her. Not until you’re older. Not until we think you’re strong enough. Her jaw clenched as she recalled their warnings and for a moment, a heartbeat, she lost her connection with the earth.
“What are you doing?” Ben edged closer to her his movement silent this time. “You’re sinking – Dad told you not to do that. He – he said it’s dangerous to do it without a guide.”
“Unless you know what you’re doing,” she didn’t look at him. Not this time. It was close. The energy, the way to find their prey, to bring them to a state of calm. It would work even on them. She had to believe in that or it would be for nothing. Energy rippled through the earth and into her fingers, calling to her, tempting her. A little more, a little longer and then it would over and done with. It was all so close. Within her reach if she only…
A hand tightened on her shoulder, the grip painful as it yanked her back, forcing her to the earth.
Birds screamed out warnings. Sounds echoed through the trees. Animals, small and large, taking flight at the sudden disturbance even as she glared up, forming the words she would need to tell her brother exactly what she thought of him.
Ally blinked, swallowed once and closed her eyes, hoping she was wrong.
“Allisandria, what in the name of the Guardian’s do you think you’re doing?” A pair of brilliant golden eyes stared down at her.
“Dad – I…” She didn’t want to look at him. She didn’t want to admit that she’d been caught. Her fingers curled into claws, the need to curl them back into the earth sang through her. She’d been close, so very close to the energy she’d needed. Maybe she could squirm back away from him and reach out the power once more? He wouldn’t be able to stop her if she moved quickly enough.
A soft giggle carried through the trees. Ally tensed, her head turning in the direction of the sound. Soft giggles. Tempting. Teasing. Almost childlike in nature. Their magic, she could feel it vibrating through the air. Innocence and power combined – who wouldn’t be tempted by them?
They were close. So very close. All she had to do was…
“You don’t know the temptation… you’re not ready for this. I warned you, that neither of you were ready to do this on your own.” Her father growled, looking down at her. “You’re not focused enough to use the magic. Any of the magic. You’re a child.” He reached down, taking hold of her by the wrists before he yanked her to her feet. “Don’t make me shut you down, child. Don’t force me into a position where I block from you from the magic until you learn to control yourself.”
Shut her off from the magic? He couldn’t. He wouldn’t! “Da…”
He shook her, his fingers digging into her upper arms, eyes flint like as he stared down at her. “Who am I?”
His grip tightened. “Wrong answer!” His words little more than a growl. “Who. Am. I.”
She hissed, her gaze narrowing on his face. Her throat tightened as she looked at him. His jaw tightened but she followed the line of it up, past his hair, to the tips of his elegantly pointed ear. There, handing from the lobe, was the single earring that marked his rank. An arrow formed in silver with a single, tiny ruby at the stud.
Her gaze shot back to meet his eyes. Fear rippled through her, the knowledge of his rank, his power and exactly what he could do to her, all struck at the same time. She swallowed down bile, cold sweat coating her flesh as she tried to pull back, to pull free from his grasp but he held her fast, his gaze locked with hers, forcing Ally to remain in place.
“You’re- you’re the Triath,” Chief, leader, king – the word meant so many things for their people, but above all it meant father – father to them all.
“And who do you obey? Whose rules do you follow first and foremost? Where does your loyalty lie?” He leaned in, his words a low, cold growl.
“Those of the Triath.” Look away. She had to look away from him. Break his hold on her – if only for a moment. “My – my loyalty is to the clan and to the Triath.” She all but choked on the words even as the reality of those same words sank in. “It’s always been to the clan and to my Triath.”
He nodded, once, but didn’t loosen his grip on her arms. “Then you will accept my words and fight me no longer.” His eyes flashed a brilliant gold.
Energy. Magic. No!
She tried to fight, tried to pull away from him but it was too late. The power, his power, tore through her, following the lines of family, blood and clan, lines she could not block. Walls, solid and unbreakable, formed before she could find a way to prevent it. She sobbed, twisting in his grip as pain, brilliant white shards of pain, lanced through her.
Her brother’s scream?
“She will learn.” The Triath’s words sliced through her scream. “If I have to lock her down for a hundred years, she will learn not to disobey me. Be thankful I’m not doing the same thing to you, Benjouranth.”
Allisandria looked up into her father’s eyes even as her ability to access the magic that ran through her veins was torn from her. Thought fled. All she knew in that moment was pain. Sheer, blinding pain and then…
“I warned you this was dangerous, daughter-mine. You dishonor your training and your family both by your actions. Perhaps, now, you will accept my words and my leadership.” Arms. Strong arms that should have offered her safety, wrapped around her, lifting her up from the ground until she nestled against his chest. He said nothing more as he walked away, picking up the pace, and she lacked the strength to protest. Her body would need time to adapt to life without magic and then – then she’d find a way to bring down the walls.
She wouldn’t give in. No matter what her father did, she wouldn’t give in.
Tired. Even a mental rebellion left her drained. He’d done something else to her, something more than cutting her off from the magic. From the very potential she would need come the selection at the next full moon. She didn’t know what, exactly, but she’d find out. She had to find out and fight back…
Battle Skies information can be found HERE
Fiction re-releases of Dragon Prince and Fae Born coming soon