Branches snapped under his heavy leather boots as he made his way through the dense vegetation beneath the canopy of towering trees, his thoughts reflecting on the places his journey had taken him too. Sunlight flickered through the tree leaves and danced along their mossy trunks. So much ignorance in a world so beautiful he thought. He missed home, the beautiful cities and vast wilderness that lay outside their city walls. He longed for the culture of his people, their passion to learn and create in a way that sustained their souls and the world they walked upon. Hopefully the people of this world can find such enlightenment like his people have.
Avnas had spent close to a year walking this new world alone while his sister Rhaessa rested and regained her strength. He marvelled at the chaotic nature of this medieval world. Often he would see people burned for the accusation of witchcraft or fights breaking out over tavern tables between drunken patrons. Once he even glimpsed a great army being lead to war, neighbour against neighbour he thought grimly. His journey through the Holy Empire and its neighbouring countries had been enjoyable, almost beautiful he thought. Sometimes during his observations he would have to cloak himself using magic, pulling the shadows around him to hide himself from keen eyes. He was always watching, never interfering with the world around him for fear it would bring the wrath of the Keepers upon him and those who he had interacted with.
There was no path in this part of the forest, often he found himself struggling through ankle deep mud or tripping up on an exposed tree-roots. He knew the hovel his siblings took shelter in wasn’t far, hidden in the depths of the forest by his magic so no strangers should fall upon it. Only a few more transitions through other worlds and then they will be home he thought happily. Memories stirred in his mind, how many years has he been apart from his family he wondered. And Alysia, his heart fluttered at thoughts of her, his love. Avnas inhaled deeply as though to conjure the very memory of her in front of him. He remembered how his fingers would gently move through her long scarlet-red hair, how smooth it was to his touch. Her eyes, a green so deep and mesmerising that even the greens in this forest could not match it in colour. His heart pained as he tried to remember her voice, so light and joyful but as he recalled her words the voice that he heard was his own.
“We will be together soon love.” He said quietly to himself, almost hoping that speaking the words would make it happen.
In the distance on a small hill amongst the trees Avnas saw the familiar hovel, its stone walls were overgrown with ivy and the wooden shutters were closed. Worry stirred in the pit of his stomach as he noticed there was no smoke coming from the chimney and the thatch roof seemed in disrepair. He slowed his pace and held his breath, listening as he crept forward towards the hovel. Avnas heard the birds sing and the gentle wind moved through the trees yet he didn’t hear the voices of his siblings nor any noise that would suggest this place was occupied. His worry took a hold of him and he straightened up and briskly walked towards the wooden door. The door was slightly opened, Avnas pushed it forcefully and with a loud crack it almost broke off its hinges. His eyes widened when he saw the large rusty-brown stains on the blankets on the bed and splattered all over the stone floor. Panic and fear, he felt it all rushing through his body and causing his heart to race and vision to narrow.
“Blood.” Avnas said to himself, kneeling down to look at the stains on the floor.
There was so much old blood covering the bed and the floor.A sob escaped as his body began to tremble. From all he has witnessed of this world so many scenarios were possible. Their appearance alone would no doubt scare the god-fearing. They were taller than the people in this world, with long, pointed ears and a sharper bone structure in their faces. The colour of their eyes even seemed brighter than the dull eyes of the people in this world. They would burn them to reinforce their message, that only their God can protect them. Avnas needed to find the truth to what happened, save them if they hadn’t been sent to the pyre yet. It was time to head home Avnas thought. He grabbed the blood-stained blanket from the bed and bundled in up, placing it on the hearth. It wasn’t long before he had gathered enough dry wood and tinder to build the structure he needed for his tracking spell.
Kneeling, Avnas stared at the hearth and filled his minds-eye with images of Rhaessa and Andras. Slowly he entered a trance, the physical world fell away and all he could see was the faces of his siblings. Around him he felt the flow of magic in this world and began to pull it towards him so it poured into him, filling him with a strong power. With more thought, he then manipulated the flow of magic towards the hearth and into the tinder. In his trance he didn’t notice the effect of time, the passing of hours only seemed like a shallow breath to Avnas. The tinder began to smoulder and before long flame leapt from the smoke and spread to the blanket and wood. Avnas fuelled the flame with his magic whilst holding the images of his sibling in his minds-eye. In another breath he felt his spirit pulled from his body and enveloped by the smoke before being whisked out of the hovel and into the horizon.
In his minds-eye he saw through the eyes of his spirit, the world below him whirling by as his spirit travelled East-ward. In another breath he found himself on the threshold of a small house in a large city, many voices flowing around him like music. Beyond the door he saw his siblings, happy and laughing with people from this world. In her arms Rhaessa held an infant that fed from her breast. Avnas felt the blow of the revelation hit him and it sent his spirit whirling back and thumping into his chest, his physical self was flying backwards across the room. Avnas pushed himself up on his hands and knees, gasping for air as tears flowed from his eyes. He sobbed for the loss of his siblings, never had he felt so alone, so betrayed.
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