Forced to flee with her village, priestly apprentice, Althessa, discovers that danger comes in many guises and salvation is often unexpected. When their undead pursuers are slain by an unknown force, Althessa assists her mistress in consecrating their remains to ensure they cannot return from the dead, yet again. But magick calls from a nearby forest, and another life is in danger. One of those responsible for bringing down their pursuers is balanced on the edge of death. With the priests too busy to assist, and only her wizardly brother to help her, can Althessa perform the healing required, or will the attempt bring death to all who dare it?
Magick on the Forest’s Edge is a fantasy short story, where two children investigate a magical alarm, and face the consequences of trying to do the right thing against great odds.
First Page: Magick on the Forest's Edge
They were three weeks into their flight before the forest came into view. It had been hard, moving an entire village with little more than a night’s notice, harder still to avoid the undead warriors pursuing them. Winter was drawing perilously near. It meant respite from the endless pursuit, but certain destruction if shelter for the season wasn’t found.
Althessa was wakened by Rowany, her mentor and priestess to Beresia. Having slept the day, they hurried to receive the evening meal Althessa’s mother, Mallee, and the other village women had prepared.
It was bread, cold mutton, and cheese, again, but no one minded enough to complain. The food was filling and took little time to prepare and consume. Time took precedence over even the smallest of matters in their flight, and the laird had promised a change to their diet as soon as they were free of Escarlion’s borders, and the creatures on their trail.
Once they’d eaten, Rowany took Althessa to join the other priests in their evening supplications. Tonight their prayers would call the starlight and the snow breezes; one to guide them, the others to cover their tracks.
Althessa rejoiced in the prayers. She could feel herself growing in Beresia’s favor and power each time she communed with the goddess. She reveled in the goddess’s pleasure, rejoicing in the service she had found.
Even the king’s prejudice against the priesthoods could not spoil her joy. Althessa lifted her voice and blended it with the prayers of the other priests, calling the goddess’s attention to the villagers’ need once more. And, once more, Althessa felt the gods answer in chorus and her eyes filling with tears of joy at their reply.
She saw the intensity of her feelings reflected in the faces of the other priests. All had had felt the comfort of their gods, before, but this chorus of gods was something still new to them, and they treasured it.The starlight shone around them, gilding the coming night in silver. Althessa stared in wonder. Around her, the same wonder touched all the villagers’ faces, as they arranged themselves in the marching order dictated by their laird. Tonight they would reach the forest’s edge, and safety.
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