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The Call (by Circe)

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1 The Call (by Circe) on Fri Oct 11, 2013 5:11 am

Nine

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    I'm sure that you all are sick and tired of me writing things, but I have the idea for this and I want to at least get it started so I don't forget it >3<


The Call

1. I'M WAKING UP


    "Ella!"

    I sat up, knocking my heavy blankets to the side as my name was called. It wasn't loud; more like someone very far away was calling for me. I looked outside, and to my surprise, the sun was rising. I tiptoed out of bed and went to the top of the stairs. From the looks of things, I was the only one awake. Just in case, I slipped quietly back to my room and pulled on a pair of sweats, then maneuvered back to the staircase.

    As I stepped down them, I made sure to take the sixth and seventh steps more lightly than the others. They creaked like nothing else, and if my parents were still asleep, the creaking would wake them up. Not something that would be received too happily, I might add.

    Mom was in the kitchen, and she looked like she was freshly awoken. "Mom?" I greeted nervously.

    She turned and smiled tiredly, "Good morning sweetie, you're up early."

    I shrugged and leaned against the counter and tried to peer around her to see if she had the blueberries out. It was Saturday, which usually meant pancakes. And blueberry pancakes were my favorite. We usually made a game of who could get the blueberries first - me or the pancakes - and Mom was already well into mixing the batter.

    The bowl of blueberries taunted me seductively from my mom's left.

    "I thought I heard you calling me," I informed her carefully. This wasn't the first time that I had woken up to someone calling my name. Usually, I was just hearing things, but they seemed to change in strength. Some days, it would be louder than others, and other days, it would be so faint that it just seemed like a whisper on the wind.

    Mom shook her head. "No, sweetie, I was going to let you and your brothers sleep in while I made breakfast," she answered absently. "Must be hearing things," she teased.

    This was a good morning. Mom wasn't usually so happy.

    "Is dad still asleep?" I had kept my voice low, because waking him up was the biggest no-no in our house.

    Immediately, my mom's smile faltered. Something was wrong. "No," she answered after heaving a sigh. "He got called into work. An emergency," she finished, turning back to her pancake making a bit too dejectedly.

    I frowned. Saturdays were usually Dad's only day at home. We would spend the day outside, playing kickball, or chasing one another around. But every now and again, there would be some emergency that would drag him away for days at a time. "Oh, well we'll just have to eat extra pancakes for him," I tried, attempting to lighten the mood.

    Mom sniffed and nodded, "Your brothers will make sure of that, I'm sure." She tried to smile, but looked so sad that I instantly went over and hugged her.

    "He'll be okay," I promised. See, Dad worked out of town on different jobs as many different things. He was a certified doctor, architect, AND farm hand. So, when people needed cows delivered, or someone's roof caved in, he was typically the one that people turned to. He had grown up on a farm, where he had been taught to build things and how to care for animals, and though his parents hadn't been too happy with the idea, he had left home and went to school so he could be a doctor.

    "I love helping people," he would say whenever his dad would pester him about spending so much time and money on school. "And saving a life is the most rewarding thing I could ever ask to do."

    I reached over and snuck a handful of blueberries out of the bowl. Before my mom could swat me away, I shoved the handful in my mouth and grinned cheekily at her.

    I was quickly shooed away, to which I responded my slumping my shoulders and trudging loudly to the front room, resisting the urge to laugh the whole way. I had a small victory with my handful of blueberries, but the war was far from over.

    Sitting down on the sofa, I stared out the front window to the vast yard that stretched beyond our home. I had spent all nineteen years of my life playing on that stretch of land, but lately, there had been an air of danger. Like there was some tragedy waiting to strike, and it kept me and my brothers wary of how far we strayed from our home.

    It was a lovely home, with three stories and a basement. The style matched the style of older homes, with worn brick exterior and a magnificent fireplace that warmed the whole house during the colder months. Fortunately, Spring was in full bloom, so snow was a thing of the past.

    I snorted, thinking of how much I loathed the snow. Just this last winter I had gotten frostbite while having a snowball war with my brothers and dad. My fingers still ached a bit from it, but I hadn't lost any, which I was incredibly thankful for.

    A few acres out from our home there was a forest. It wasn't huge, but it was big enough to get lost in. And I could have sworn, looking out there just now, that I saw someone - or something out at the edge of the woodlands. Watching our home.

    Standing, I went over to the window and crossed my arms and leaned to get a better look.

    Whatever it was, it was gone.

    I shook my head and went back over to the couch. Just as I sat down, my mom called from the kitchen:

    "Ella, wake your brothers up, will you?"

    "Yeah," I called back, rolling off the couch and heading to the staircase leading downstairs. My brothers were twins, and both of them made the most out of that. Their door stood open, so I wasted no time with the formality of knocking and proceeded to pull their blankets off of them. "Rise and shine princesses. The kingdom's food needs eaten," I claimed, trying to sound regal and demanding.

    Sullivan curled up in protest to his blankets being gone, "Five more minutes."

    The other one, Sam, didn't move. He snored loudly, making Sullivan prop himself up on his elbows and leer at him.

    "Give me your pillow," I whispered to him.

    A bit suspiciously, Sullivan handed over his pillow and watched as I snuck over to Sam's bed and brought the pillow down on his face. With his mouth hanging open as it was, there was a loud popping noise as the pillow came back up. I tossed it to Sullivan, and he quickly placed it down, grinning and quite amused.

    Sam's reaction to getting a face full of pillow could not have been any better. He jolted back into the waking world with a, "Huh? What?" and bat at his face so hard that he rolled off of his bed and onto the pile of his blankets on the floor.

    Both Sullivan and I burst out laughing.

    "Hey! No fair!" Sam protested, sitting up and rubbing his head. His mass of black hair stuck out in every direction (I was sure that Sullivan and I both also suffered from massive bed head as well), and the crazed look in his eyes only made us laugh harder.

    "Mom made pancakes," I informed them, then raced back up to the kitchen and claimed another handful of blueberries. It was a bit scrawny compared to the last one, considering most of the fruit had been used for pancakes, but I championed the last bit of them with a triumphant grin and took my spot at the table.

    Mom leered at me, but I grinned even ore broadly at her and said:

    "They're awake."

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2 Re: The Call (by Circe) on Sun Oct 13, 2013 8:57 pm

Champei

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Nice work! Has a bit of an ominous feel about it...

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3 Re: The Call (by Circe) on Tue Oct 29, 2013 11:23 am

Nine

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Thanks Champs!! And things are definitely going to get cooking! It's been really hard not working on this, since this will technically be my nano work

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4 Re: The Call (by Circe) on Tue Nov 05, 2013 12:55 pm

Nine

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The Call

2. War and Peace


    Breakfast was as it normally was: wonderful. The blueberries filled the pancakes with rich flavor, leaving a satisfied grin on my face as the flavors of the pancakes blended for the perfect breakfast.

    Everything almost seemed normal again. It didn't feel like there were a million pressures on us as the summer came into season along with my twentieth birthday and my imminent marriage.

    Just thinking about it, I could feel the frown forming on my face. A bit too aggressively, I took another bite from my stack of pancakes, but even the sweet tang of blueberries and sweet melody of maple syrup couldn't get this cloud from over me. I hoped that my arranged marriage wouldn't be to some greedy rich guy who didn't care about anything but money and his status. I had seen some of my girl friends stuck with jerks like that, and it was heartbreaking to see how miserable they had become.

    "ELLA!"

    The screech seemed to make the whole house shake. I choked on my bite of pancakes and began coughing as my heart raced. Mom and my brothers just stared at me like I was the strangest specimen that they had ever studied.

    They hadn't heard it, I realized with a sinking feeling. Heat rushed to my face as I stopped coughing, no longer choking. There were tears in my eyes, and I fanned myself, trying to brush it off like I Had just swallowed wrong. "I'm fine," I squeaked, trying to catch my breath.

    Sullivan rolled his eyes and went back to picking the blueberries out of his pancakes and eating them separately. Sam chuckled and muttered something that sounded suspiciously like, "Weirdo."

    Mom just smiled painfully at me, like she understood. But, how could she? Someone hadn't just screeched her name at her.

    My ears were still ringing. It was like someone had shouted through a bullhorn right next to my ears. I averted my gaze and stared at my nearly empty plate. I suddenly wasn't so hungry anymore, and half-heartedly pushed my plate away. The silence stretched, making each scrape of a fork against our plates seem louder than it really was.

    Finally, Mom set her fork down and spoke. "So," she began, "I have to go out to the town today to get some fresh produce from the market and to get fabric and yarn."

    Sam and Sullivan looked like they were torn. They loved going to town - we all did - but, they hated going shopping for groceries and fabric and yarn. They'd much rather look at knives and swords.

    But the big factor was the woods. The town was a three mile trip through the woods.

    And the woods were filled with magical creatures and other great wonders. We also got to ride horses through the woods, and nine times out of ten, we raced.

    "I'll go with you, Mom,"  I offered. It had been a while since I had gone riding, since during the winter we opted for the old carriage that offered some warmth for the trips.

    But, Mom appeared to have another agenda. "No!" she said a little bit too quickly. Sam and Sullivan cocked their eyebrows at her quizzically and leaned forward, suspecting that there was something secretive about this trip to the town. Mom wasn't phased, "Boys, take care of the dishes, would you?"

    They immediately groaned. "Why do we have to do them?"

    "Because I asked you to," Mom answered simply. Grumbling, the twins complied and began picking up the plates, glasses, and silverware from the table.

    I watched them quietly, still not quite over the shock from the sound of someone calling my name. Again. Every now and again, I peeked at Mom as she sat there quietly, staring down at her clasped hands.

    "I'm going to need you to stay here for this one," she finally said, albeit a bit reluctantly. She didn't look up to meet my eyes, and there was something almost sad about the way that she leaned against the table on her elbows.

    Oh, I realized with a start. She was going to be working on that. My to-be-arranged marriage. When the twins disappeared into the kitchen with their stacks of dishes, Mom finally stood. "Ella, we need to talk," she started, voice catching as she dared to look at me and my still bed-worn appearance.

    I nodded and rose from the table, then pushed my chair in and let myself be ushered into the living room. I had been told about this talk. It was the talk where you were told that your future husband had been chosen. It was the talk where you were practically ushered away from the only life you had ever known to be put into a new home with a new person, who sometimes you didn't even know, and the worst part? You were expected to come together and put up a front in public that you were absolutely in love and that you adored everything about your life that wasn't really even yours.

    I had thought that having to make new humans with a man that I might not even love would be the worst part, but after seeing my friends, once so confident and spry, worn down and looking like their souls were screaming for freedom, I decided that being wed to a stranger was the worst part of it all.

    And, I had my share of guy friends. Most of them were those who had helped out with the harvest, so I had heard the man's part of the agony of arranged marriage as well. Their lives weren't their own. They were expected to work back breaking hours in all weather, no matter what their health. They were expected forget any fancies for the girls that they had had when they were growing up.

    Steeling my will, I sat on the sofa and watched my mother anxiously. The color seemed to drain from her face s she fingered the worn leather and the woven decorations on the spiraling arm of her armchair.

    "I know what you're going to say," I blurted out. "I know that you've chosen my husband, but don't feel bad. It's the way that it is, Mom, we all know it."

    "What?" she inquired simply, as though the whole marriage ordeal was the furthest thing from her mind. "Oh, sweetie, you're quite imaginative, aren't you?" she laughed softly, confusing me more than I could recall ever being confused. "No, sweetie, I don't worry about your pending marriage; we swung quite an astounding deal, and neither us, his family, or you two will have to suffer like so many do."

    See, Mom and Dad were some of the lucky ones. Like everyone who was arranged, they had started loathing the other, but when there was a terrible storm that nearly demolished our entire home, Dad had saved Mom's life by bearing the blow of one of the falling ceiling support beams. He then rebuilt the home, bigger and better than it had been before. And, the two had been madly in love ever since. It was sweet, really. And both their sides of parents were thrilled when they came to visit shortly after I was born to see that the pair were smiling and laughing and so totally in love, that they had nearly forgotten about the troubles that had brought them there in the first place.

    But, that was twenty years ago, and the economic struggles of the past were but a distant memory for them. Now, it seemed that Mom was struggling with the stress that I felt. Of course, she knew it well. All women did. They had all been through it before.

    "There's a war brewing," Mom explained, her hands coming together for a moment, then slipping through her hair, adjusting a grey-brown clump out of the way of her eyes, then finally coming to rest on the arm rests again.

    I blinked. A war? What did that have to do with me? "Mom, I don't understand," I tried, trying to make sense of why she was telling me this.

    Mom sighed and clasped her hands on her knees, then rocked forward and shook her head. "You... Your father got called into service last night as a doctor for the soldiers," she explained slowly. "As did your future husband."

    My mouth went dry. Dad was going to be working the war? Worry coursed through my veins. I wasn't so worried about my future husband; I had heard the tales of disabled soldiers lashing out while they were recovering, suffering from memories of the war and of the blood and of the pain. Many doctors had died because of confused soldiers thinking that the doctors were enemies, holding them as captives.

    "No," I whimpered, my own posture coming to mirror my mother's. My fingers tapped on my knees until I couldn't stand it anymore and came to fold over and rest my forehead against them to keep them from drumming and driving me insane.

    Mom stood and put her hand on my shoulder. "We've had to reschedule the meeting," she explained softly as she sat down next to me and pulled me into her arms. "To next week."

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5 Re: The Call (by Circe) on Fri Nov 08, 2013 7:09 am

Nine

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The Call

3. Riding Out


    The next few days went by in a blur. It was the day. The day where everything would change.

    I stood in front of the mirror, staring at the reflection. My reflection, but not my reflection at the same time. It was weird to see my mass of usually crazy brown hair neatly done and falling in careful and graceful waves around my face and resting on my shoulders. My eyes were painted with shimmering makeup, and as my mom turned me around to look at her, she smiled.

    "You're pretty as a princess," she said, tears filling her tired green eyes. I hugged her tight, hoping to offer her the comfort that she needed while I was plagued by the unending question of who it was that I would be meeting today. I knew a good deal of the men in the city, or at least, I could recall their names when I saw their faces. I was pretty good with names, which Mom says that I must have gotten from my father, because he's like a name wizard. Though, I wasn't nearly as good as he was. For him, it was like he had known a person his whole life, even though they had just met. He could go months without seeing someone, and in the middle of dinner, suddenly recall that person and wonder aloud how they were doing.

    In this society, it was a good skill to have.

    Mother pushed me away and tipped my chin up so that I had to look at her. Or, maybe it was so that she could get a look at me. Either way, it was a lasting one. For as long as I lived, I would always remember the terrified, sad, and proud look that shone in her eyes.

    It wasn't the last time that I saw her. I know it sounds like that, but it wasn't. No, we would see each other many more times after this moment. But, right then, it felt like the last time. I took a deep breath and tried my best to smile. "I love you, Mamma," I said, terrified, yet excited. This would be a new beginning. A chance to be normal with someone.

    Someone who wouldn't look at me like he was expecting me to fall into a panic right then and there.

    Could I do it? Could I adjust to life with a stranger? Could I bring myself to love a man, even if he was as wretched as the scum of the earth? Could I even tolerate one as awful as that? My mind was reeling as my mom pulled me in to another hug.

    "I love you, too, Lamb," she whispered, resting her cheek on the top of my head. After a few long heartbeats, she sighed. "I'm sure you will be thrilled," she said, though it looked like she was forcing her enthusiasm. "He's a real gem."

    Yes. She was definitely forcing that enthusiasm. I let her lead me from my room and down the stairs. Her hand on my shoulder trembled as I opened the door to let her out first. The horses were waiting, but she didn't want to lose her grip on me. As her hand fell, I turned and caught it in mine.

    "Don't be afraid," I pleaded. "I can't be strong if you aren't." My voice cracked. No, I didn't want to do this, but it wasn't like there was any other choice. It wasn't any easier when Sully and Sammy rounded from behind the horses. My breath caught at the sight.

    They had been dressed up as well. The pair extended a hand to each of us and gave a slight bow. I knew how embarrassing this had to be for them, but they looked so at ease and so comfortable and without complaint that I stepped away from our mother without the slightest hesitation and let Sullivan assist me onto my horse. He smiled up at me sheepishly, as though he knew that I would never let the pair live this down, but also in a way that told me that he was proud to call me his sister.

    "Thank you," I whispered, looking away and trying to blink the tears from my eyes.

    Sully just grinned and stepped away. He wasn't going to let me live this down, either.

    Sam had helped Mom onto her horse, and together, he and Sully were climbing onto their horses that were positioned in front of Mother's and mine. I noticed that Mother was looking at me, and when I looked back, she turned her attention to the boys. Suddenly the weight of the makeup that had been weightless before became overwhelming. It felt as though each strand of my hair weighed a ton, and I had to raise my hand to shield my eyes from the sun's light.

    Everything seemed to intensify and spin. For a moment, I thought that I was going to hear another call of my name. But, that was absurd. It wasn't like I had fits when they were going to happen. They'd just happen and nothing would change.

    Something did happen, though. But, it was just a small gust of wind, and if my name was carried on it, I couldn't tell. As soon as the wind died down, though, things were back to normal. I wanted desperately to shake my head and to rub my eyes, but I had a feeling that doing so would be a crime and that Mother would insist upon spending another two hours fixing the damages done by my carelessness.

    I didn't have to wait long to be moving. Sam and Sullivan had readied themselves and were ready to get going. I adjusted on my own horse, not used to wearing a skirt and riding. I felt like I was too easily prepared to get knocked off, and almost did slide off when my horse started moving.

    Turns out that it was a lot easier to stay on once the horse was moving, though. Before too long, I was keeping pace with the twins and taunting them with the challenge of a race. However, our mother cut that short, claiming that my hair would never be fit to see the light of day if I let myself be sucked in to the tomfoolery of our usual shenanigans. We groaned, but I managed to tell the boys that we would race on the way home, and that seemed to brighten their spirits.

    The woods were stunning as they always were. It seemed that no matter what the season, there was a magical quality about them. And for good reason - the pixies and fairies and other woodland creatures took immense pride in this forest. It was one of the last in our area, and us humans did our best to protect it as well.

    We passed a mother dear and her fawns grazing lazily on the fresh Spring grass, and I thought that I saw a fairy picking berries from one of the bushes, but I blinked and then she was gone.

    The rest of the ride seemed to fly by, and before I knew it, we were in the city. The shops seemed to glimmer with anticipation as we rode passed. As the housing area came into view, my breath caught. One of these homes housed the person that I was about to meet.

    I hadn't thought about it before, but since we were in the city, that meant that whoever I was meeting had money. Not that it mattered, but it did make for reason to wonder at what strings my parents had to pull to land this deal. I hated thinking about it like that, but there was no denying that that was what it was.

    "This is it," Mom said after what felt like a lifetime of passing houses.

    A pair of men hurried out and greeted us. Before I could slide down from my horse's back, they had offered themselves to my aid. At a loss, I let them help me down, and before I knew it, they had assisted my mother and were herding our horses to the stables. I glanced at Mom and she shrugged. A welcoming party.

    Well, there was no use waiting out here. Taking a deep breath, I led the way to the front door.


------

    Something about the home was familiar. It was like I had been there before, but for the life of me, I couldn't seem to remember when that had been. When an elderly woman with wisps of white hair and warm brown eyes opened the door, it all came back to me.

    It wasn't the woman as much as it was as the smell of fresh brownies that seemed to cling to the interior of the home like the clasp of a leech. The familiarity hugged me like my mother had done when I had woken up with nightmares as a child. This was the home of one of my best friends from my younger days. It had been ages since we had last spoken, and with good reason; we had been in a big fight when we were ten, and had avoided each other like the plague ever since.

    Funny how now, I couldn't remember what that fight had been about. And I didn't even have any hostility when I thought of her. She had been three or four years older than me, so now I had to wonder how she was doing and where she was. I wondered if she had succeeded in her dream of marrying a man who had as much of a love for travelling as she did. I hoped so.

    "Mrs. Chifa!" I greeted, still getting over that it was her who had opened the door.

    Lindsay Chifa was probably the nicest little lady in Greensvale. She was always making brownies and cookies for everyone. More than once she had shown up on our doorstep, having walked through the woods just to give us a batch of her famous chocolate fudge brownies. She would always claim that she just "had a feeling" that we were in need of some good old fashion goodies, but really, I think that Mrs. Chifa was just lonely. After all, her daughters were gone and married, as were her sons.

    The crinkles that swept from Mrs. Chifa's eyes were highlighted when she smiled, "Oh, little Ella, how you've grown!" She made a show of spinning me around and smiled proudly at my mother. "Your little girl became quite a beauty!" she exclaimed, giggling a sort of shy schoolgirl laugh. "I remember how gangly and awkward she was growing up. But she filled out quite nicely!"

    I didn't know what to say, but could feel the heat flushing my cheeks an even deeper red. Mother stooped in with grace and saved me from stumbling over my words. "Oh quite! She always has been tall. But not as tall as your Nathan!"

    Nathan? Who was - ?

    Ohhhhh. That Nathan. Now it made sense. Nathan was the younger brother of my once best friend, Natalie. Natalie and I had had a fall out because I had told her that I thought that Nathan was cute, and she had caught him kissing me under the mistletoe at a Christmas Party years ago. The pieces were falling together, and since I was here, that meant...

    No. No way. I looked between my mother and Mrs. Chifa. They both had sly gleams in their clever eyes, and I knew without a doubt who I would be meeting today.

    But that also meant that he was going to be going off to war by the end of the month. My heart sank to the pit of my stomach. All my worries about being married off to some suitor who I would hate were pointless. I had had a crush on Nathan for years, but Natalie had always been there at the back of my mind, making me feel guilty every time that we spoke. I mean, it wasn't like the few conversations that Nathan and I had held since the fight between me and Natalie (I think I broke her nose and called her a few choice words) had been significant. He helped run one of the break markets in the town, and oftentimes we bought our loaves of bred from the one he worked at.

    Now that I thought about it, Mom had always sent me to get the bread from there. Never Sam or Sullivan. Ohhh these two were good. Maybe a little too good.

    "How long?" I heard myself asking over Mom and Mrs. Chifa's chatter. They turned to look at me, holding almost mirrored expressions of confusion.

    "What do you mean?" Mother inquired, feigning an innocent look.

    At that moment, Sam and Sullivan returned with the helpers who had helped Mother and I off of our horses. I bit my tongue, suddenly feeling as though asking how long these two had planned this marriage was taboo. "H-How long do you think the war will last?" I finally managed to stammer out. I tried my best to look concerned, which wasn't hard. My father was going to be at the forefront out there, helping to retrieve injured soldiers from the battlefield and to mend their wounds.

    Mrs. Chifa smiled kindly, "We don't know, sugar. It could be as short as a month and long as a lifetime." It didn't make me feel any better, but I smiled faintly as I had been taught. Stiff upper lip. No crying in public.

    "Okay," I nodded.

    "Ella." I almost thought that I hadn't heard anything, because it was just so faint.

    "What?"

    It slipped out before I had meant for it to. Too late, I realized that it been another one of the incidences with me just hearing things.

    Everyone looked at me. "What?"

    I cursed under my breath, then smiled. "I thought that I had misheard something, I am sorry."

    Sam and Sullivan snickered, but Mom smiled apologetically at me and shrugged to Mrs. Chifa. I stared down at me feet, knowing that I would get a serious talking to when I got home. Way to go, Ella. Now Mrs. Chifa's going to think you're crazy. Just great.

    "Why don't you all come in," Mrs. Chifa offered. "Nathan should be home soon. I sent him out to pick up some flour." She held open the door for us, but Sullivan quickly stepped up and held it for her.

    "After you," he offered with an awkward little bow. I grinned at him as I passed by, and judging by the look of terror in his eyes, he was now well aware that I was not going to ever let either him or Sam live down their day of gentlemanly chivalry. Which wasn't a bad thing, but from the two pranksters who did their best to make their lives a day to day laughing fest by pranking every unfortunate soul who happened to be around when they were scheming.

    Mrs. Chifa smiled at him and ruffled his hair. "Such a good young lad," she cooed admiringly. She then turned to look back at Sam, "Take notes, young man. Your brother will get a much better turn out than you unless you learn to be as well mannered as him.

    Unable to hold it back, I let out a laugh, but at a leer from my mom, I shut my mouth and grinned. Hey, the guy I was supposed to be winning the heart of wasn't here yet, and as far as I knew, Mrs. Chifa loved me. Well, I guess she had to if she had arranged with my mother for me to marry her son.

    The inside of her home was as magnificent as I remembered. The colors were a mix of earthy tones and warm colors, namely red. There were a few new things, like a painting above the fireplace of Mrs. Chifa and her late husband, who had died of cancer a few years back. I felt bad for her. No one deserved to suffer that much, and yet, Mrs. Chifa never stopped giving and never taking.

    Once, mother and I had grown some blueberries, but the batch had been greater than what we needed, so we came to give some to Mrs. Chifa as thanks for all the times that she had baked brownies and cookies for us. She had politely declined and insisted that we keep them, despite our insisting that we had plenty.

    Mrs. Chifa sat us down on her plush sofa and half-waddled to the kitchen as a timer dinged. Her plump form disappeared for a moment, and while it was gone, Mother turned to me.

    "Ella, no more of that hearing things nonsense," she chided, sounding harsh compared to how lighthearted she had sounded before. I nodded quietly, leering out of the corner of my eyes at Sam and Sullivan as they chuckled. They enjoyed it a little too much when I was the subject of chiding rather than them.

    Moments later, Mrs. Chifa returned, and with another person. My blood turned to ice as I realized who it was.

    Natalie.

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6 Re: The Call (by Circe) on Tue Nov 12, 2013 10:07 am

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4. Lofty Spring Daze


    Her nose was crooked. It seemed weird that she hadn't gone to one of the many sorceresses in the town to get it fixed. Especially considering that she and her family had more than enough money to do so. It did add a unique quality to her face, though.

    Natalie had always been pretty, but now she had a bit of an edgier look to her. Before, I wouldn't have thought to approach her because she looked so lofty and came from money. Now, I wouldn't approach her because she looked like she had been in her share of fights. Natalie held herself higher now. Sort of like she knew that others would look at her for the imperfection to her carefully painted face, but was daring them to say something.

    Admittedly, I was rooted in the spot in terror. And not in a good way. As hard as I tried, I couldn't bring myself to stop staring. It had been years since I had last seen her, and it definitely wasn't on good terms. Fortunately, she seemed to be in the same situation as me. Then, she started walking towards me. I flinched, expecting her to be angry.

    "Ella!"

    Was that just one of the voices, or was that her? It sounded too friendly and happy for it to really be her, so I peeked in time to get a massive hug. I hesitated, then hugged her back. "Good to see you, too...?"

    Natalie pushed away and held me at arm's length. "It's been forever, hasn't it?" she asked, smiling warmly.

    "Yea - Yes," I nodded, "It has."

    Natalie laughed. It was almost just as I remembered it. But it had developed into a fuller, more mature sound. And yet, it was still as
    winsome. "Goodness, I cannot believe that, after all this time, we haven't talked!"

    She seemed so genuine that I smiled, too. "It has been too long," I agreed.

    It seemed that my mother and Mrs. Chifa let out their held breath in unison. I managed to see them exchange a relieved glance, then turn back to us. Mrs. Chifa made a sweeping gesture, "I've set up a table in the garden," she said sweetly. "Why don't we head out there for some fresh air?"

    Natalie smiled and clapped her hands once. "What a splendid idea, mother!" she exclaimed and hustled off to open the door for her mother and the rest of us to follow. Though they seemed unsure about it, Sam and Sullivan followed. They stood a bit awkwardly, as though deciding whether or not to take the door for Natalie. Sam acted first, sliding his hand on the side of the door and swooping low with a bow.

    "After you, my lady," he offered, extending his free hand in a gesture to let Natalie through. I didn't miss the leer that Sullivan passed to Sam as he stepped through the door after Natalie. I shook my head; I'd never understand the rivalry between them. It was far more hefty than the one between me and either of the two, and it seemed that their constant need to show the other up created a bit of an awkward situation whenever we were out and about.

    The door closed behind Sam as he went to stand beside Sullivan. Mrs. Chifa set my mother and I down at the glass table that had a tray of brownies and various cookies resting on it. There was an elaborately carved dome of glass protecting them from the elements of the outdoors, and the pitcher of iced lemonade looked better than the sight of a field of melting snow.

    I shuddered. Just thinking of snow brought down my mood by several scales. But, Spring was in full bloom, and there would be no snow until the latest days of autumn, some seven or eight months away.

    Mrs. Chifa and Natalie sat down. They and Mother immediately became engrossed with talk of how the flowers were blooming and how the different markets were either doing phenomenally this season, or were not doing as well as they were normally doing. I didn't pay much attention and nibbled thoughtlessly on one of the snickerdoodle cookies.

    "Mom, I'm home with the flour. I put it in the cabinet with your other baking supplies."

    We all turned, and my breath caught. Nathan stood halfway through the doorway, and he looked better than ever. Then again, he always seemed to look better every time that I saw him. My memories didn't seem to do him justice.

    "Thank you, Nathan," Mrs. Chifa said with a nod. She seemed to be the only one who hadn't looked away from the conversation and task at hand when he showed up. She sipped at her lemonade like she had been trained to not turn and look at people when they showed up while she was in the middle of lemonade and sweets. "Why don't you get dressed up and join us?" she offered, finally turning to look at her son.

    It only then occurred to me that he wasn't as done up as the rest of us. He wore a simple white v-neck t-shirt and grey slacks. They looked like they had been worn for hard work, and weren't nearly as dressy as they would have been when they were first obtained. His blond hair was spiked up in the front like he had been running his fingers up through it all day. Nathan nodded and disappeared behind the door again, and the attention seemed to shift to me.

    Whatever expression had been on my face vanished. "What?" I asked, self conscious of how I was acting now. Though Mrs. Chifa had no issues with me, I was sure that there was still a long way to go before I really had her approval.

    I stared down at my glass of lemonade and peeked nervously at the three others that were seated around me. Mother looked amused, and Mrs. Chifa held a careful mask of pleasantness.

    Was that a tense frown I had seen from Natalie? I blinked, and it was gone just like that, behind a kind smile. But I couldn't shake the feeling that the past wasn't quite water under the bridge as she had made it seem like. And her grip on her glass looked tight enough to break it.

    "I do believe that she's still as blissfully unaware of it now as she was then!" Mrs. Chifa finally laughed. Mother and Natalie followed suit, creating a strange chorus of forced sounding laughter.

    I stared at them. "Unaware of what?" I asked, feeling more heat rush to my neck and face. They only laughed more. "What?" I insisted, hearing the desperation that I was trying to hide loud and clear in my voice.

    "Just you and your cute little crush on my brother," Natalie explained, smiling so sweetly that it could have been venomous.

    I blinked. Sure I liked Nathan, but it was obvious? "I'm afraid I don't understand...? I ventured, hoping that they wouldn't resort to some sort of mocking fest for explanation.

    Mother leaned forward with her chin resting on her hands. She feigned a lovestruck gaze and sighed wistfully. Mrs. Chifa, Natalie, and the twins burst out in a fit of laughter. "You've been smitten by that boy since you were a child," Mother explained, regaining her ladylike posture. "And since it was so painfully obvious..."

    "We decided it would be the best match," Mrs. Chifa finished for her. "See, Nathan has had a bit of interest in you as well, sweetie," she continued, acting as though it was no new news in the slightest.

    I looked between them, astounded that I was such an open book. I thought that I was pretty good at hiding what I was feeling, so this was news to me. I looked at Natalie, surely I could get an honest answer from her.

    "Yes, it is quite obvious," she confirmed quietly. "I'd always lose your attention when he came around."

    OH. Suddenly it all made sense. "Oh, Natalie, I'm so sorry!" I gushed. "Oh, it must have been terrible...I feel just awful!"

    Natalie blushed and stared intently at her drink. "I don't know what you're talking about," she insisted, tripping over the words.

    "You must have felt like I was pretending to be your friend so that I could see Nathan!" I explained a little too loudly. "Oh, Natalie, I'm so so sorry...I never meant to make you feel like that."

    "You didn't?" Natalie asked, looking up and appearing in higher spirits than before.

    "Well then, now I feel unimportant."

    We all turned, even Mrs. Chifa. Nathan had stepped out into the garden without us noticing. And, not to be repetitive, but he was definitely looking better than ever.

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7 Re: The Call (by Circe) on Wed Nov 13, 2013 4:09 am

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The Call

5. In the Garden


    I stood. I couldn't explain why I did, I just did. And as soon as I did so, Mother and everyone else was looking at me strange. Men stood for women. For a woman to stand for a man, well, it was backwards, apparently. Though I didn't mind the gesture or think too much of it, the wary eye that I received from everyone made me hastily sit back down and stare intently at my nearly empty glass of lemonade.

    The ice had melted down to tiny little lumps. Wistfully, I wished that I could just melt away like the ice, but my body seemed very content in remaining solid.

    How long did we go without talking? I'm not sure. It was long enough to feel awkward, and it felt like the sun was beating down with fresh waves of burning pressure with every breath that I took. Nathan looked between the four of us ladies sitting at the table, and then at my brothers. Slowly, he began to walk towards us.

    "Ah ah," Mrs. Chifa chided, suddenly not looking as careless as she had before. I would never understand how she and my mother could sit through the most awkward of silences like professionals. It was like they had been through some super secret training that taught them how to flaunt and appear as unburdened as a butterfly resting on a flower. Even Natalie seemed to not be bothered by the lengthy span of silence. "Be a good lad and get a fresh pitcher of lemonade from the ice box, will you?" Mrs. Chifa added, indicating to the nearly empty pitcher that sat on the table.

    Little leads of water clung to the outside of the fashionable glass pitcher. Every now and again, one of the beads would slide down and collect other beads until it hit the table with an inaudible splash.

    "Ella?"

    I looked up and blinked. Mother looked at me like she was worried, "Yes, Mother?"

    "You were staring at that pitcher quite intently," Mother said lowly, resting her hand on my leg. It would appear to everyone else as a comforting gesture, but they didn't feel the pinch she gave me. It was a warning. Get my act together, it said. You're making a mess of this, it said.

    I smiled, pretending that nothing secret had passed between us. "Was I?" I even added a small laugh for good measure. "I hadn't noticed."

    Mother nodded and shrugged to Mrs. Chifa and Natalie. They nodded in understanding and took dainty sips of their lemonade. My slip up would slide this time, but I had a feeling that they would not be so forgiving next time.

    Nathan returned with a new pitcher of lemonade. It took until he was right behind me and pouring some into my glass that I realized that he had returned, and now, I failed to notice anything else. My breath caught as I became aware of his proximity as he leaned around me with his free hand resting on the back of my chair. When he stepped away to fill the other glasses, I remembered to breathe again. He replaced the pitcher that had been on the table before with the new one once he had filled all of our glasses, then turned to my brothers and indicated with his thumb to the house. "You guys want to-."

    "Nathan this is not a day to hang out," Mrs. Chifa barked, sounding more annoyed than I had ever heard her before. Her emphasis on "hang out" made even me flinch, even though it wasn't directed at me. When Nathan's shoulder's relaxed from his surprised stance, Mrs. Chifa sighed. "Take the pitcher inside, then come back out, please."

    His lips were drawn into a thin line, but Nathan nodded and went without so much as a word of complaint.

    "Mr. Chifa must have had his hands full with you," Mother joked, attempting to lighten the mood.

    It didn't work.

    "Oh, he did," Natalie laughed. Mrs. Chifa shot her a look, and she went silent just as quickly as she had spoken up, only this time she had a look of terror on her face.

    Mother had a similar look of terror on her's as well. "Oh, I didn't mean-."

    "Oh, nonsense!" Mrs. Chifa laughed. "I'm just giving you a hard time. Lighten up, dearies!"

    We let out our breath that we didn't seem to know we had been holding and all did our best to laugh. Mrs. Chifa was an enigma. And now I knew to be more proper around her. She may be a sweet old lady with a knack for baking goodies, but she was incredibly strict when it came to things like manners and etiquette. I wondered how she felt now. Her daughter had married - or had she?

    I wondered now why Natalie was here. If she had married, then shouldn't she have been been with her new husband? There was a ring on her left ring finger, so I had assumed that she was. Maybe with the war, she had come home to help out her aging mother while her husband was away. But, Mrs. Chifa had Nathan, so then why would she need Natalie's help? I bit my lower lip as I thought about it and focused on the lovely garden that sat as a background to our luncheon.

    "Your garden is lovely," I heard myself saying.

    "Ah, yes," Mrs. Chifa nodded in agreement. "My Natalie has quite the green thumb! She takes after her father like that."

    "Oh?" Mother chimed in, and I had a feeling that she wasn't pretending to be interested.

    Mrs. Chifa nodded, "Yes, I'm afraid that, though I have a great deal of skill with baking and cooking, I fall a bit short on growing things." There was an undertone that made me wonder if she was saying that she had problems with more than just plants. "But Natalie here has been so kind to keep me company. My time will be over soon, and I am leaving the home to her and her husband."

    "Speaking of, where is he?"

    We all turned to look at Sam. His eyes widened as we did so; he apparently only just now realized that he was not invited to join in our conversations. I hadn't really given it much thought before, but I had assumed that our conversations would be of little interest to my brothers.

    "He is away at war, I am afraid," Natalie answered, fingering her ring a bit sadly. "But I have faith that he will return to me," she added with a tired smile. "If I don't, well, I'm afraid that I would go mad with worry!" she laughed, though I more wanted to get up and hug her than I wanted to laugh with her.

    Mrs. Chifa cooed and patted Natalie's leg, "Such a strong and brave girl. You make me so proud."

    Natalie smiled at her, and I had to blink away my tears. They made me remember that my own father was away at war. I worried about him endlessly, and I wasn't so sure that I could be as strong as Natalie was. She was inspiration for me once again. When we were younger, I had wanted to be just like her. Though her hair was golden like sunflowers, while mine was dark like the night sky, I had hoped that I could be as beautiful and graceful as her.

    "She's an inspiration to us all," I said quietly. I noticed Mother smile beside me, but I was too busy watching Natalie's expression turn from somber to one of joy. She quickly dabbed at her eyes with her napkin, but I heard her sniff as she smiled at me.

    "You're so kind," she whispered from behind her napkin. "I hope that my children are as wonderful as you."

    I stared at her. Children? As good as me? Oh, I was no one to look up to! I wasn't ladylike or proper. I would much rather spend a day riding through the woods or playing in the rain with my family than sitting out here and wanting to eat the remainder of the brownies on the tray, but not doing so because I had already eaten two of them, and any more than that would be disapproved of. "Only if mine are as marvelous as you!" I smiled, raising my own napkin to hide behind as I sniffed and dotted away my tears.

    She was my best friend. After all these years, that hadn't changed. We both looked up at the same time, then laughed and sat our napkins down. Natalie smoothed hers out, but I let mine remain wrinkled and crumpled up. "Oh, I have missed your company," Natalie said, laughing some more.

    "So have I," I agreed, smiling. Mother and Mrs. Chifa gave each other relieved looks. Maybe today hadn't been all about meeting my future husband like mother had said.Maybe today had been about rekindling the lost friendship that Natalie and I had once had. I was glad that we had done so, because I couldn't have asked for a better sister.

    Because, come on, what little girl doesn't wish every night that her best friend could be her sister? I know that I had done so many times before I had gone to bed when I was younger. I had eventually grown out of making wishes on the evening star, as everyone did at some point, but the magic of the world had never stopped stunning me.

    When Nathan returned, Mrs. Chifa stood. "Why don't we tour the garden?" she offered, smiling as warmly as the sun.

    The idea sounded amazing. It astounded me that someone could have a garden as large as the one that they had, but I supposed that with the extra hands that they had around the house, it wasn't all on one person to maintain.

    "Nathan, why don't you take Ella ahead? Mrs. Ross and I have some things to discuss."

    We both looked at her. I forgot how to speak. There was a mischievous gleam in her eyes as she waved us away with her hand, "Shoo!" Even she couldn't hold back her smile as we backed away. "Run along now, we will be along shortly."

    Still confused and stunned, I quietly followed after Nathan as he led me into the maze that was the Chifa Garden.

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8 Re: The Call (by Circe) on Sat Nov 23, 2013 1:09 pm

Wow Circe, I just read these for the first time and I'm really impressed. You've got a real knack for writing! You need to finish writing this story!


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9 Re: The Call (by Circe) on Mon Dec 09, 2013 11:19 am

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Thanks!! I'm gonna be working on this, for sure. I just got a little distracted with finals and stuff

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10 Re: The Call (by Circe) on Mon Dec 09, 2013 11:21 am

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6. Advice


    It was easy to keep pace with Nathan. Whether that was because he was intentionally walking slow, or because I was making an extra effort to take longer strides to match his, I wasn't sure. Either way, it was nice.

    We didn't talk much. I looked mostly at the arrangement of flowers. It was amazing how many there were, and all held in this one place. The backs of our hands would brush every now and again, and I would hastily clasp my hands behind my back and look away. Whatever it took to not let him know just how uncomfortable I was. I wished that it wasn't so hard. Why was it hard? He was just a guy. My brothers were guys. I could talk to them.

    And yet, every time that I tried to say something, my tongue would become useless and my mouth would go dry. I would peek every now and again to see if Nathan was having any of the same issues, but it was hard to get a read on him. He was stoic, to say the least. It was like I was blocked off.

    Or maybe, like me, he was trying to not make a fool of himself.

    Our hands brushed against each other again. I bit my tongue and hesitated for a moment before stepping a little bit closer and slipping my hand into his. More quickly than I anticipated, Nathan's fingers twined with mine, and we were walking together with a little less tension.

    Holding hands.

    I could have just melted into a puddle right there. Never in my wildest dreams had I imagined that I would be here, holding hands with Nathan Chifa. Well, I had had some pretty great dreams involving Nathan, but never had I thought that it would really happen. Mother was right, I had always liked him. I had always thought it was just a silly school girl's crush, but I had gotten over it, knowing that I would be married away to some man where I would procreate and all that great stuff.

    But here we were. I offered a smile, and Nathan returned one of his own. It was nice and pretty and even, unlike the goofy crooked smiles that my brothers had.

    "So, uhh..." I tried, but faltered. It seemed that I was still going to be unable to speak. Great. That was just what I needed.

    Nathan grinned and chuckled. He bumped his elbow against me. "You know, I'm not going to bite your head off. You can talk to me," he said. I don't know why it had any effect, but I could feel myself relax.

    I leaned towards him to bump him back. "Well, that makes it so much easier. Now I know you're not a big bad monster man," I teased. Wait. What? What was that? I was teasing him. I had no idea where it had come from, but it made him grin and laugh, which was all that I could have asked for.

    "Well, you never know," Nathan joked.

    I could have sworn that I heard giggling from behind us, but when I looked over my shoulder, I couldn't see anyone. It was probably just a figure of my imagination, considering all the times that I supposedly heard my name all the time.

    We wandered around for a bit before we came along an elegant concrete bench. Wordlessly, we decided to sit down to take a break and let our families catch up with us. They never did, but we didn't know that they were spying from a smaller distance than we thought that they were. There was a small gap between us, filled only by the fabric of my pale blue dress and our hands, which were still held together as her ran his thumb in small circles over the back of my hand.

    The day passed in what felt like the span of a breath. Before we knew it, the sun was setting, and we had to make the reluctant choice to head back to the large estate that the Chifas lived in. Nathan kissed my hand in farewell, and I'm pretty sure I smiled the rest of the way home.

    At least, until I remembered that he would be leaving for the war in an unknown amount of time. In the enjoyment of the day, I had completely forgotten to ask, and now, I would have to wait until the next time that we met to do so.



    The next week or so passed just as quickly as that day did. Each one was better than the last, and the greatest part was that I wasn't hearing the voices calling my name anymore. For once in my life, I felt totally normal and like nothing could go wrong.

    Until the morning that mother didn't wake me up with the sun as she had done every day since the one where I first met with Nathan. I was so exhausted, that I didn't think anything of it until I heard a loud crashing sound downstairs. Sitting upright in bed, I flung the blankets off of me with such a force that they fell off of my bed and onto the floor.

    After the large sound, it grew unusually quiet. No yelling to suggest that one of the boys had done something. I grabbed my robe and wrapped it around myself and dashed down the stairs. From the top of them, I couldn't see anything suggesting a disaster. "Mom?" I called out as I rounded the corner. My voice caught in my throat as I imagined something terrible happening to her, but what I saw turned my terror into anger.

    Three men stood around what should have been the entry way. The door was knocked off of it's hinges and laying uselessly on the ground and was cracked up the side. The side table that would have had the vase with roses and various other flowers was absent from its spot; now, the vase was shattered on the floor, and the fragments of the once ornate design were scattered along with a massive puddle of water and a mess of stems and flower petals.

    A photo frame that had a photo of the entire family was on the floor, splintered and with the glass shattered, and it's neighbor was lopsided on the wall, making it look as though the people in the picture (my father and mother) were getting ready to tip over a giant chasm.

    The men turned to look at me as I crossed into the room. One of them was a scrawny man, and when he saw me, he got this look like he was going to receive a special rain of hellfire for this mess. The second was a large man with a nasty scar down the left side of his face. He looked blank, as though he felt nothing for the disaster that he and his cohorts had made on the hardwood flooring of our entry way.

    The third man was boring and plain, and I pretty much forgot he was there.

    It was the second man who captured my attention. Mainly because he was the one to speak.

    "We are looking fro Franklin Ross," he demanded harshly. His face was a mask, so it was impossible to tell what his intentions towards my father were, but judging by their army uniforms, they were likely searching for him with the intent to bring him to the army.

    I tied the rope of my robe and folded my arms across my chest. "Well, he's not here," I informed them pointedly. The first man was still staring at his feet, intent to not become a part of this, but the second man was not as withdrawn.

    Above the army logo on the large man's jacket, there was a word stitched into the grey and green fabric. Wills. Wills scratched his five o'clock shadow, "Then where is he?"

    "He's gone to the war," I answered. I tried to keep my unwavering leer, but as I said it, it faltered. I was more worried than I let on.

    It seemed that my faltering convinced the nervous one. I tried to catch what his uniform said his name was, but all I could get out was that it ended with "gan." He elbowed his buddy and said something lowly that might have been, "Let's go." He then looked around at the mess and sighed, "Sorry to intrude."

    Then they left. Without offering to help clean their mess or even an apology for ruining our entry way. It took all of my restraint to not go after them and instead go to the shed in the back yard to get a large trash bin, broom, and dust pan. I lugged the supplied back into the house, but when I returned to the living room, I was in for a surprise.

    It was as though nothing had happened. There was no mud from their dirty boots, and everything was back in perfect order. The only difference was the smell of magic in the air. I dropped my things and groaned, not believing all the work I had gone through to get the cobweb-covered things from the depths of the chaos of my father's shed.

    Shaking my head, I lugged the things back to the shed. Instead of going back inside, I sat down on the steps of our back porch and stared into the distant. It was pretty warm for a spring morning, so I didn't mind being barefoot too much.

    It had stormed all day yesterday and the night before, but now there was not a single cloud in the sky and the sun shone merrily, casting gleams on the water that still clung to the leaves and grass and other plants.

    "Ella?"

    I looked over my shoulder to look at my mom. It struck me as odd that she hadn't been out there when the army men had made a mess, but looking at her now, I understood that she had gotten up early to go into town for some errands. "Hey," I greeted. It wasn't too great of my too be such a grouch to her, but I was still pretty ticked about the army guys.

    Mom sat down next to me and smoothed my hair, "What's wrong, darling?" I leaned against her, welcoming her comfort. My fuzzy purple robe contrasted with her sheer lavender dress, but neither of us seemed to mind.

    I told her about the events of this morning, and she listened quietly until I was done. Even after I had finished, she was silent. I sat up and looked at her.

    Her lips were drawn into a thin line and her eyes were stormy. "They shouldn't have broken in like that," she said flatly. I could tell that she was trying to reign in her anger. Then, she sighed. "At least it's all cleaned up, and it explains the smell."

    I nodded. Magic had a burning sort of smell to it, but it was different from the smell of a burning fire or candle. It was like burning mixed with the musty smell of a morning before a rain shower with a hint of something tangy enough to start to leave an impression.

    "Let's get inside," she offered, standing with practiced ease.

    I stood and followed after her into the kitchen. She indicated for me to have a seat at the table, and she sat down across from where I sat. I toyed with the fleece fabric of my robe, wondering idly what was going on.

    "Where did you go to this morning?" I asked after what felt like a too-long period of silence.

    Mother indicated to the bread basket on the table. "I went to get some fresh bread. Ours had mold." She watched me quietly as though she was wanting to say something, but was uncertain on how she wanted to go about it. "Ella," she sighed.

    "Yes?" I leaned forward and stopped messing with my robe. I put my elbows on the table and rested my chin on my hands as a show that my attention was all hers.

    "Elbows," she started, and I immediately dropped my hands to my lap. This was a serious discussion, then. She usually was fine with me leaning on my elbows like that. "How are things going with Nathan?" she asked. I couldn't be certain if she was asking as a distraction from what she was wanting to say or if she was asking because there was a serious matter regarding our ongoing courting.

    I shrugged, trying to play it off as though it wasn't going as magnificently as it was. "It's going well. We have a lot in common, and he's really easy to talk to," I answered, feigning a new interest in the lace of the tablecloth. "Why?" I asked, peering up at her through a clump of my hair and my eyelashes.

    Mother hesitated. "He was taken away for the war this morning," she said slowly, watching for my reaction.

    I nodded. This moment had been on my mind for some time now, but now it was more pressing than ever. "So now what?" I asked.

    Mother stood and came over to me and hugged me tight. "We wait," she told me, sounding more terrified than I had ever heard her before. She took a shaky breath and kissed the top of my head. "We wait."

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11 Re: The Call (by Circe) on Wed Dec 11, 2013 9:31 am

Another fabulous chapter, Circe!


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12 Re: The Call (by Circe) on Fri Jan 24, 2014 6:04 am

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7. News

Waiting was impossibly difficult. In my down time, I read books, but so many of them fantasized waiting as though the end of the wait was worth it, and how women were perfect and waiting with dinner for their husbands. They even had these cute adventures and experiences while their husbands were away, and were oftentimes accompanied by their children, who always had some sort of magic to add to the tale.

Well, I lacked children of my own, but I suppose that my two brothers could count. Life was never bland when the pair of them were up to their shenanigans, but since Father had left, they hadn’t seemed to rectify their habits of pranks and were downright boring.

I went on walks a lot and met all sorts of woodland creatures, and fairies seemed to have news of progress on the war. We were winning, but it felt impossible to believe it when next to nothing of the war actually reached the market town. There was news, of course, but few were called out from our home, and even then, they seemed to come home pretty quickly and had less than satisfactory stories to tell about their endeavors.

When I came home from one of those walks, I was particularly eager to speak with my mother. The fairies had offered me their blessings, and had left a mark of magical protection upon me. It was so fascinating, that I hardly noticed the foreign horses that were settled on our front lawn.

What was waiting for me inside made me forget all about my magical encounter.

Three men were speaking to my mother in the living room. They stood solemnly, and Mother was sitting with forced posture on the couch. The mood in the room felt as though someone had died. My brothers were listening from the hallway, and their faces were so pale that it was as though they had just seen a ghost.

The men and Mother turned to look at me as I entered. I was in trousers and an old blouse and was covered in mud. I could feel the embarrassment that my mother was feeling from my less-than-appropriate dress, so I scurried up the stairs to my room to clean up.

But first, I listened from the staircase, hidden by the fortunate wall that divided the stairs from the living room.

“Gone?” Mother choked.

“We can’t be certain,” answered one of the men. I recalled that one of them was the Wills fellow that had been in our home before, but what he was doing back, I had no clue. “We do know, however, that several of the transportation units that had been bringing troops to the camps have gone missing, costing us scores of men,” the man continued.

“And my husband was on one of those vehicles?” Mother asked. I felt my heart sink. Dad was gone? I didn’t want to believe it, but it was true.

“Yes,” answered one of the other men. “Your husband and about three dozen others.”

“We are sending sentries to look for signs of abduction,” informed the third man. “It could be possible that they simply got lost,” he didn’t sound like he believed it, but it was a better idea to hold on to than the thought that my father was being held hostage by enemies – or worse: dead.

“I see,” Mother replied, sounding braver than I ever could. “Thank you.”

There was some noise, and then a door opened and shut. I assumed that that meant that the men were gone. Hastily, I stripped out of my dirty clothes and put on a clean pair – even a dress to appease my mother. I took the dirty ones to the laundry pile, then rushed to my mother and gave her the biggest hug that I could muster.

Mother was shaking terribly and took several moments to return the hug. She wept into my embrace, and we stood like that for ages. At one point, Sullivan and Sam joined the hug. They didn’t cry, but their silence was enough of an indicator that they were as stricken by this as Mother and I were.

What would we do if we no longer had Father? He had always been there, supporting us and surprising us and being the best father that anyone could ever ask for. And now, there was a chance that he was dead, or that he was on a very fast route to being dead.

I soon joined mother in crying. The thought of losing Father permanently mortified me. We all loved him so dearly, and him not being there any more…the idea was unspeakable.

Eventually, Mother pulled from the embrace, and my brothers and I looked up at her, silently asking what we were supposed to do. She drew a shaky breath and answered, “We wait.” It seemed that she relied upon that a lot. But, waiting was easier said than done. It had only been two weeks since Nathan had left, and it felt as though it had been two years.

I sighed and slumped my shoulders, and for it, I received a leer from Mother. Begrudgingly, I straightened back up.

“But waiting is boring!” complained Sullivan.

Sam nodded in agreement, “Yeah! What are we gonna do?!”

I looked at Mother, trying as hard as I could to convey “I swear; if you say wait one more time” with a single look. She shrugged her shoulders at me with a guilty smile, and I rolled my eyes. “We wait,” I answered for her, sounding not happy about it.

Sam and Sullivan didn’t like that answer, either.

“Continue on like Dad is just out on a medical visit,” Mother suggested. “We could spend time caring for the horses, and we could visit the town.”

“But that’s no fun!” Sam whined. He looked at Sullivan, “C’mon let’s go find something not boring to do.”

Acting as though Sam had just said the wisest words ever spoken to him, Sullivan nodded and the pair raced off through the house to do who knows what.

Mother sighed when the twins were out of sight. “I don’t know that I can wait,” she admitted. “Oh how I wish I could just go out there and find him and bring him home from all of that danger,” she whispered, burying her face in her hands.

I had no idea what to do. What she said was exactly what I was thinking. The only difference was, I didn’t see what would stop her. “Then why don’t you?” I asked, resting my hand on her shoulder. “I can keep an eye on Sam and Sullivan. The people in the market know me, and I am almost certain that Natalie and Mrs. Chifa wouldn’t mind lending a hand!”

It looked as though I had just suggested to my mother that I was a serial killer. She looked mortified at the suggestion. “Oh, heavens no, Ella!” she exclaimed, putting her hands on my shoulders. “The war is no place for women like ourselves! We aren’t trained for that – the men would just walk all over us, and I couldn’t imagine staying sane knowing that each day another one of my friends could die.”

It wasn’t hard to understand where she was coming from. Mother wasn’t keen on the sight of blood or the thought of death. I remembered one day when Sam and Sullivan came in from one of our games of kick ball with dad, and Sam had gotten a face full of the ball. His nose had been gushing and mother nearly fainted at the sight of it. I wasn’t like that, though. More than once, I had helped my brothers with their injuries and had assisted father with making tourniquets and cleaning up messes left by some of his more gory patients.

Mother took a deep breath and shook her head. “We just have to wait, sweetie,” she insisted, though it seemed like she was trying to convince herself more than she was trying to convince me of it. She took off into the kitchen, and I heard some pots and pans banging as she started preparing to make dinner.

I stood there, and I had never been more certain that I had to do something in my life.

After everyone went to sleep tonight, I was going to sneak out.

I was going to find my father, even if it killed me.



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13 Re: The Call (by Circe) on Fri Jan 24, 2014 6:06 am

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The Call

8. Into the Night

It felt as though the night took its sweet time to come. At dinner, I was asked by Mother and the twins if I was alright - apparently, my hands were shaking bad enough for them to notice.

I had never run away before. Life hadn’t ever gotten to the point where I thought it was necessary, and now, I was preparing to.

How did someone just run away? I was terrified. The woods at night were terrifying. I was anxious about how much trouble it would cause for my family to learn that now there were two of their family members who had vanished without a trace. The difference was, Father had gone off to war and vanished; I was going to find him.

When the night fell upon the earth, I waited. Mother usually stayed up, doing projects or reading books. Every half hour, I tiptoed out of my room and peered down the stairs. But, for the first six tries, there was light indicating that she was awake.

It must have been well after midnight when I checked and found only darkness waiting for me at the foot of the stairs. Now was the time to go. I hurried back to my room and grabbed my bag. For a moment, I took a good look at my reflection. I was wearing a long sleeved black shirt that was tucked in to a pair of my brother’s cargo pants. They hung weird around me, but it would be loads easier to move around in them than a pair of my own pants that fit snugly around my legs.

My hair was braided and hung down between my shoulders. Wisps had come free and hung loosely around my face.

I grabbed my leather boots and tiptoed down the stairs, careful to make as little noise as possible. The front door shut with a small click behind me, and I resumed breathing normally. On the front steps, I put on my boots and stared out into the dimly lit world that waited for me.

The moon shone with enough light for me to see where I was going, and I made haste, doing my best to follow the tracks left by the soldiers that had visited. I was lucky that they hadn’t come one foot - tire and horse tracks were so much easier to follow.

My heart stopped when the tracks disappeared into the woods. There were stories about the foul creatures that came out at night. Things like creatures that would drain you of your blood and leave you to die - if you were really unlucky, you might even become one of them after you were fed on. There were also the dark pixies. It was said that their magic caused sensory deprivation if someone came in contact with it. An old man in town had been blinded for five years by a dark pixie.

"C’mon Ells," I muttered. "You can do this."

Taking a deep breath, I set off at a jogging pace through the woods. There was roughly three miles of the woodland between our home and the outskirts of the town at the thinnest part, but if I got lost, there could be as much as ten miles of danger spanning between me and my destination.

It was darker in the woods than I anticipated. Following the soldier’s tracks got more and more difficult as the trees thickened. At every little noise that I heard, I flinched and looked around. The last thing I wanted was to encounter a dark pixie. There was no telling how long the magic would last - sometimes it was only an hour, other times, it has lasted the entire remainder of the cursed victim’s life.

Just when things started to get lighter, things also started to get darker. I started hearing the voices calling my name again. But this time, it came from all around, and there was nothing friendly about them.

"Miss Ella," cooed one of the voices. It was raspy, almost like someone had rubbed sandpaper over the speaker’s vocal chords and left them dry for months. I hurried faster, definitely not tempted by the dangerous voice.

"Oh, do come dear child," urged another, sweeter voice. It still held the raspiness of the other, but this one almost sounded like my mother.

Out of guilt, I slowed down, but I never stopped walking. My eyes were trained on the path, but the voices grew stronger and louder and it soon became hard to focus on anything that wasn’t them.

"We just want to play," hissed another.

"Yes, do play our game, blessed one," one of the voices cackled.

"Yeah right," I breathed. There was no way that I was going to let myself be tempted into a game of Curse the Human.

"She doesn’t want to play," groaned one of the many voices.

"She doesn’t like us," whined another.

The next one was so close, it was like the owner was breathing down my neck. “Don’t you want to play?” it asked, it’s cool breath sending a shiver down my spine.

"No!" I cried out, and sprinted as fast as I could. My feet felt like cinder blocks as they thudded into the springy forest floor. I strayed from the path more than once, but I would find it and follow it again until I couldn’t run any longer.

Breathless, I collapsed against a tree. My hands were on my knees as I tried to catch my breath. My heart drummed like the beat of a hummingbird’s wings.

But at least it was quiet. The voices had vanished, and the sky was turning a kind mix of red, orange, and blue.

The sun was rising.

I had beaten the voices.

"We will have you Miss Ella," hissed a quiet voice. "Come out, come out, wherever you are."

Speak of the devils.

I sighed. My breathing and heart rate had slowed, but there was no way that I would be able to take off like that again. In defeat, I slumped down against the tree and sank down to be seated on the forest floor.

When the first of the strange creatures emerged into sight, I was shocked. It looked exactly like the fairies that I had befriended; the only difference was that this one had dark hair and glinting green eyes. “Dear child,” it said, voice hoarse like it had been shouting all night.

It’s friends soon joined it. They all had dark hair and eye colors that glowed ominously. I curled my legs up to my chest and watched the little creatures in fear.

"Do not fear us," urged one of the pale beings.

"We only want to play."

I shook my head, unable to look away from their alluring eyes. They were like gemstones that had sunlight shining brilliantly through them.

I should have known that there was magic at work. My mind began to grow fuzzy, like I was on the verge of falling asleep despite the lingering adrenaline that pumped through me.

"Sleep, dear child," urged the first of the woodland creatures to have appeared. They all had long flowing hair, but it felt like that one was a male. Something about his presence reminded me of my father, and I felt my eyelids droop obligingly. He fluttered up and ran his hand along my face. It felt like someone had taken a butcher’s knife and sliced open my face.

I yelped and swatted the little man away. He snarled at me, and I scrambled to my feet. These were dark pixies. Another moment and I would have been dinner.

Several of them cursed and stared angrily up at me. They were no taller than the length of the tip of my index finger to the ball of my hand. “I’ll step on you,” I warned, rubbing at my cheek where I had been scratched. It wasn’t bleeding too bad, but it hurt like none other.

My threat sent them into a frenzy of roaring laughter. They certainly didn’t believe that someone could do that, so, to put some credibility to my threat, I squashed the dark pixie that had scratched my face like he was a fly.

"Anyone else want to doubt me?" I challenged, leering down at the tiny beings. There was a shrill cry of terror, and the swarm of the dark pixies flew off like there was a forest fire. I sighed in relief, "Good riddance."

Now, to continue following the trail.



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14 Re: The Call (by Circe) on Sat Jan 25, 2014 2:14 pm

Just got the chance to read this. It's as awesome as ever, of course!


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15 Re: The Call (by Circe) on Sun Jan 26, 2014 4:18 am

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I'm glad you think so! I'm already in to the eleventh chapter, but I've hit a stump, so it may be a little while longer before it's ready to be posted c:

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16 Re: The Call (by Circe) on Sun Jan 26, 2014 6:20 am

Aww, well, hope ya find the inspiration you need!


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17 Re: The Call (by Circe) on Fri Jan 31, 2014 5:57 am

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9. Water

I followed the trail until the sun was high in the sky. Birds and friendly woodland creatures had emerged and carried on as though they were unaware of what had happened the night before.

The longer that I walked, the more that fatigue consumed me. I was famished, my throat was dry, and every step felt like it was seeping more and more energy than the last. When, finally, I sat down, I noticed signs that the day wasn’t as safe as I had thought it was.

There were little twigs with thorns carefully tied to the ends of them. Some of them had blood on them, and as I followed their trail, I saw the remains of some unfortunate woodland animal. It was mostly bone, but there was some fur sticking out at some places, and some of the bones - mainly the ribs - were gone.

Trembling, I leaned against a tree. There was some fuzzy green growth situated around it, but at the time, I couldn’t care less about it. My head spun, and before I knew it, I was starting to fall asleep.

I regretted it from the moment I woke up, late into the descent of the sun. I tried to stand, but my legs ached like nothing else, and my body seemed unresponsive.

"Hey," called a tiny voice. "I wouldn’t sit there if I were you."

I looked groggily around and lifted my hands to rub my eyes.

"No!" cried the voice, and before I knew it, there was a little fairy tugging my hand away. He wore little white gloves, which he disposed onto the forest floor as soon as he had released my hand. "Don’t touch anything," he warned.

I debated on whether or not to believe him, but since he was a whole lot kinder than the dark pixies I had encountered the previous night, I listened. “What’s wrong?” I croaked. It didn’t really sound like I had said much of anything, but the fairy seemed to understand.

"Stay here," he urged, then fluttered off into the forest. I squinted after him, but he was so little that he soon vanished from sight.

With a sigh, I tried once again to stand up. This time, it was a lot easier. My body was waking up, and though I was parched and hungrier than I could ever recall being, I managed to stay standing.

Wondering why it was so imperative that I didn’t rub my eyes, I looked down at my hands. A red rash had overtaken them, and as soon as I saw it, a painful itching sensation shot through my arms. It continued on my back and on my legs, and in terror, I looked at the green plant I had been sitting in.

Poison ivy.

"Of course," I groaned. My hands trembled as I held them out in front of me, doing my best to ignore the urge to itch. This wasn’t my first time with poison ivy, so I knew well enough that itching only made it spread, but now that I was off on my own, I didn’t have the means to tend the rash.

The fairy returned while I was staring helplessly at the rash. He sighed and fluttered over, a trail of water following in the air behind him. “Here,” he offered, and the water moved at his will. “Drink,” he ordered, more sternly this time.

I obliged. It was weird, having floating water whisk into my mouth, but the relief was instant. I didn’t have the chance to say anything before the fairy got to work.

More water appeared at his command and surrounded my arms in a thin coat. He chanted something, and the water began to glow. After several minutes, he fluttered around to my back, then to my legs, and continued the process. When he was done, the rash had subsided greatly, but everything stung, and the urge to itch was worse than before. “There,” he said, admiring his work. “That should help the poison ivy go away faster, but don’t itch, or else it will return,” he explained.

"Thank you." Despite the feeling of there being a thousand tiny needles pressing into my skin, and the itching being considerably worse, at least it would go away. "What’s your name?" I asked.

He turned back to me. There was a ball of water around his hands, and it looked like he was washing them. “I’m Sebastian,” he responded. “A water fairy.”

I nodded, “Nice to meet you Sebastian. I’m-“

"Ella," he interrupted. "I know."

It was weird that the fairy knew who I was, but this wasn’t exactly my first excursion through the woods, and I had grown up and played with the fairies when I was a little girl. So, maybe it wasn’t so weird.

"Why are you in the woods, Ella?" Sebastian inquired. "You are not safe here this late."

I found myself explaining everything. The arranged marriage, the war, my troubles with Natalie, Father’s disappearance, the strange visits from the army men; everything came pouring out and I didn’t even think twice about it.

Even for how little he was, the terror on Sebastian’s face was evident. “The doctor is missing?” he whispered. “He has done us many a good deed…”

Suddenly, Sebastian was fluttering right above my left shoulder. “I will accompany you on your search,” he said decisively. “You are much safer with a fairy companion, and I owe the doctor much.”

Honestly, I couldn’t justify bringing a fairy into the danger I was sure to face, but he looked so determined that it was hard to tell him no. Plus, his magic would be handy for more than just healing. And I wasn’t exactly an expert hunter. “I appreciate it, Sebastian, but are you sure?” I tried.

"Yes, yes," he nodded firmly. "I just need to inform my family of my endeavors."

My heart sank. My family didn’t know I was gone. Were they worried? Had they noticed and started asking around?

"Wait here," Sebastian urged. He began flying away, talking excitedly to himself. "Finally an adventure," I managed to catch. His enthusiasm made me smile, but it wasn’t enough to make my stomach accept being ignored for this long.

While he went to prepare and inform his family of his upcoming adventure, I began to look around for berries or something to eat. I had no fire, and without flints or any real skills for making one, hunting would be more trouble than it was worth. However, I knew enough about berries to know what was edible and what wasn’t.

Before long, I had found a patch of strawberries, as well as a small pond of water that I used to rinse them off. I ate them as I made my way back to where Sebastian had told me to wait, and it was hard to not eat them all at once. “A meal eaten slower lasts longer” was a lesson I had learned while growing up, and I wasn’t sure when my next meal would come, so I definitely had to make the berries last.

The sky was dark by the time Sebastian returned.

"Ella!" he greeted enthusiastically. Sebastian sat down on my shoulder and grinned into the darkness. "Sorry I took so long, I had to convince my mum and pa that they couldn’t come with me."

I laughed. I was certain that Sam and Sullivan would have wanted to tag along if I had told them that I was planning to set off on a crazy adventure to find our dad. It was why I hadn’t told them - I couldn’t bring myself to put them in danger, too. “It’s fine,” I assured him. “I understand.”

Sebastian pulled out a set of pipes that were made of some pale yellow material and began playing a quiet tune. “This is my first trip away from home,” he informed me after a while. “I’m kind of nervous.”

I was quiet. Nervous was how I had felt, too. But it hadn’t stemmed from the adventure itself. It had stemmed from the idea of leaving my family with no idea where I had gone. I was terrified that they would make themselves sick with worry, but finding my father was so important to me, that I had had to make the heart-achingly hard decision to sneak out.

"You hungry?" Sebastian asked. "There’s a lake nearby. I could catch us some fish and we can eat."

"I’m starved," I admitted.

Sebastian laughed. “Good! You’re going to be in for a treat - I just happen to be one of the best chefs of our tribe!” He flew ahead and laughed some more. “My mum is the best, of course. I learned everything I know about cooking from her.”

I smiled sadly. “Mom’s are pretty great,” I sighed.

"Yeah they are!" Sebastian cheered. "It broke her heart to know I was leaving, but I promised her I’d be back, and she wished me luck."

We finally came to the lake that Sebastian had mentioned, and while he fished, I began trying to set up a fire. Unfortunately, most of the sticks that I had found were wet, and the dry ones were not wanting to give off any sort of sparks.

Sebastian returned with three fish dangling below him. I was startled that he could carry all three of them, when each must have been at least double his size, but he made it look so effortless, that I didn’t say anything.

"Problems?" he asked, looking at our fireless fire pit.

I sighed. “Yeah, I’ve never been good at starting fires.”

Sebastian set the fish down on a rock and landed in the center of the fire pit. Water rose from the sticks that I had laid down in it and channelled into the lake, then Sebastian kicked some things around and picked up one of the sticks. He swiped it against a rock, then laid it back down on the pile and flew back to pick up his fish.

By the time that he had them once again, a small flame had picked up from the pit. It steadily grew as I fanned it, and the light shone enough for me to catch the pleased grin on his face. “Tonight, we feast!”



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18 Re: The Call (by Circe) on Fri Jan 31, 2014 5:58 am

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10. Slipping Away

There was some sort of magical protection that came along with traveling alongside a fairy. The next several nights as we walked through the woods were considerably less bothersome than my first. No dark pixies dared to continue their assault whenever Sebastian showed his face.

It was almost amusing to see how afraid they were of him. Tonight was no different.

"You should get some sleep," Sebastian urged. "I'll keep the first watch."

I itched at my arm through my sleeve. "If you insist," I sighed, trying my best to sound like he was pulling my leg. In reality, I was wiped. My legs were sore, and I was pretty sure I had at least two layers of dirt and grime caked onto my skin. I settled down against a tree - though this time I was sure to check for poison ivy.

Almost instantly, everything gave way as I leaned against the tree. All my worries and the mess of thoughts that had been pervading everything vanished, and a sweet, welcoming oblivion greeted me.

My dreams were strange. They were filled with fast cars and strange faces. Loud noises filled every last corner until everything was a deafening roar. Everything was white - white cars, white buildings, people dressed in white that were as white as snow with white eyes and white hair.

Then everything became eerily silent. The cars thinned out and vanished. People vanished.

There was nothing but the world. The ominously white world.

Slowly, a thin whine filled the silence. At first, it was like the whine of a mosquito buzzing in your ear. Gradually, it built up, becoming louder and louder until it was the only thing that filled the dream but a vast white expanse of nothingness. I tried to speak, but nothing came out. My throat felt like it had been sewn shut.

"Ella."

It was quiet. I wasn't sure if I had actually heard it, or if it was my imagination playing tricks on me.

"Ella."

This time it was louder, but not by much. Just enough to get my attention.

"Ella."

The volume rose as my name was repeated, always the same distance between them. Unlike before, once it got to a certain point, it stopped getting louder. However, it did get faster.

"Ella." drummed the voice, low and steadily like the beat of the drum. No matter where I looked, I couldn't find the owner of the voice. It wasn't a familiar sound, either. But, the tone held a certain level of worry in it that reminded me of my father. Maybe it was a doctor's voice out there saying my name.

The drumming voice thinned out, then became overpowered by a sharp sound like someone was honking a bicycle horn that had become the size of a horse.

A car appeared from the white smog, driving straight at me.

"Ella!"

I slammed back into the waking world just as the car would have hit me in the dream. My heart was racing like I had just ran a marathon, and my body shook with terror.

"You're awake," Sebastian sighed in relief.

Shakily, I brushed my hair from my face and stared at the water fairy. "What happened?" I was almost afraid to ask. Sebastian looked as terrified as I felt.

"You started grumbling in your sleep, begging for help," he explained. "Then - and I'm not making this up - you started to fade. Like, literally, you started becoming transparent!"

I shook my head. That made absolutely no sense. "I don't understand..."

Sebastian shrugged. "I don't either, but you're back to normal..." he looked to the side and crossed his arms across his chest like he was trying to not saying something.

"What's wrong...?" I asked, starting to stand up to brush myself off.

"Well..." Sebastian took a deep breath and summoned a pool of water to him. "You're mostly back to normal, but not entirely..." Reluctantly, he lifted the water into a flat circular shape and had me look into it. It reflected like a mirror, and what I saw made my heart skip a beat.

My brown hair, which hadn't ever changed in my life, had faded. It was pale brown like the inner part of a tree that was revealed when it was chopped down. I shook my head and looked to Sebastian for help. He shrugged and sent the water back to the lake, then looked at me with worry. "There's an elderly witch at the far edge of the woods," he tried. "The path we've been following seems to lead in that direction..."

I hadn't had very many good dealings with the witches I had met in life, but they were ones that were out there for money, rather than aiding the poor unfortunate souls that requested their assistance. "You get some rest," I urged, hoping to keep off the subject. "We can talk about it when you're rested up. I'm not going anywhere."

Sebastian gave me a skeptical look. He doubted that I truly wasn't going anywhere, and I didn't blame him.

"Well, at least not willingly," I added. "I'm not going to leave this spot. I'll just sit here and keep watch and think about what's been happening." And, so much had happened, that I was certain that there was enough to think about.

Though he nodded and fluttered up into the safety of the tree, I wasn't so sure that Sebastian was going to be getting much sleep. I sat down on a fallen tree that rested in the shallow part of the lake, removed my boots and rolled my pantlegs up, and dipped my feet in the water. Once they were, the cool relief that it offered was hard to resist. I had to fight back the urge to strip down and bathe, but with the night still being high, I didn't want to risk it. There were too many threats in the night, and I didn't want to begin to think about what sort of nasty creatures were waiting to attack an unsuspecting human that was simple-minded enough to go for a swim in the dead of night.

"What a week," I sighed, staring down at the ripples created when I moved my feet back and forth. At least I was in the company of someone who knew the woods now. I was safer, not being alone, and it proved itself over and over again when I noticed the lack of evil little voices and laughter. Eventually, I began to shiver and lifted my legs to my chest to get my feet out of the water.

I sat there, listening to the soft sounds of the woods and letting my feet dry. I didn't really think about the things that had happened, though. Thoughts drifted across my mind, but gained no hold to let me build on them. When light started to make the sky turn a pale shade of purple, I put my boots back on and stretched out. My legs and back were sore, but that was nothing new, and with some stomping around, I was able to forget about it.

Waiting for Sebastian to wake took longer than I'd have liked it to. It wasn't until the sky was all blue that he emerged from where he had vanished in the tree. "Morning!" he greeted cheerfully.

I nodded to him as he landed on my shoulder. "You ready to go?"

Sebastian nodded. "Onward, my trusty companion!"

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19 Re: The Call (by Circe) on Fri Jan 31, 2014 6:06 am

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So, I noticed that I forgot to post chapter 7, so I went back and edited so that Chapter 7 is now situated between Chapters 6 and 8. Sorry if that caused any confusion!

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20 Re: The Call (by Circe) on Fri Jan 31, 2014 6:09 am

That's alright! I'll have to backtrack to see what I missed. I'm really liking the story!


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21 Re: The Call (by Circe) on Fri Jan 31, 2014 6:31 am

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^u^ thanks! I also posted chapter 10, so that's here as well!

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22 Re: The Call (by Circe) on Fri Jan 31, 2014 5:33 pm

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Guess who's going to be staying up reading? >:3

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23 Re: The Call (by Circe) on Sat Feb 01, 2014 12:09 pm

Nine

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Is it Santa? I'm terrible at guessing games!!

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24 Re: The Call (by Circe) on Thu Feb 06, 2014 10:55 pm

Ailis

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>.> *Hides Santa Hat* Noooo.... It's... The Easter Bunny, yeah! Very Happy

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25 Re: The Call (by Circe) on Fri Feb 07, 2014 8:40 am

Nine

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Oh hey the Easter Bunny is cool, too!! Did the Easter Bunny like what it read?

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