I gave in.
All was silent as he disappeared besides the roaring cackle of the enraged fire. Brynn looked away from the castle, unable to bear watching her home be destroyed. She could hear voices being carried on the wind, harsh male voices that she did not recognize. She tried to listen harder, to pick apart the words, but she could not understand them.
A warm breeze passed her by as she waited anxiously. Her ankle throbbed and she took off her shoe, pressing a finger gently to the tender skin. Her face screwed up in pain.
Brynn turned her head in the direction of the voice. It was faint, but familiar. Her eyes fell on Julea and she smiled in relief. She hated to be alone in the dark, waiting. “Julea! Oh my, am I glad to see you. Have you seen my mother and father? Sorlin?”
Julea shook her head, her frizzy gray hair shaking with her wrinkled face. Brynn frowned and tried to wiggle her foot back into her shoe. Julea sat down beside her quietly and watched the flames absorb the castle. Brynn wished that she were at the front door, rather than the side entrance. She could hear more voices carrying toward her.
“Can I look at your ankle?” Julea asked. Brynn nodded and stuck her ankle outward. The pain was becoming excruciating and was traveling up the entire length of her leg now. She clenched her jaw as she resisted the urge to let out an agonizing moan. Her toes tingled and felt slightly numb. She clung to the desperate hope that Julea could help her.
The woman moved toward the ankle and observed it closely. She reached out to place a hand on the delicate skin.
“Brynn, get up!” Cyrus yelled from across the courtyard. Brynn stared at him in confusion. He knew that she couldn’t get up; her ankle was in intense pain. He was running across the yard then as Julea ignored him and placed her hand firmly on the swell.
The pain was more than she thought was humanly possible. The shock of Julea’s hand on her skin, coupled with the pain in her ankle, made Brynn scream in agony. She curled over and panted as Julea held her firmly for a few moments longer. Brynn could hear nothing. She only felt pain.
Julea stepped away, but it was too late. Brynn writhed in agony as she felt something cold surge through her entire body. Cyrus stopped at her side and watched her face screw up in pain. Julea had begun to retreat, but Cyrus was quicker than she was. He stopped in front of her, “What did you do to her?”
“Only what was requested of me.” Julea replied simply. They could hear Brynn moaning in pain on the ground. Cyrus winced. Over Julea’s head, he could see Neruba coming from the distance, running quickly.
“And what was that?” Cyrus breathed angrily, “What do the shifters want with her? Why her?”
“The shifters want a great many things.” Julea replied cryptically. Cyrus could have punched her in frustration. The night was quickly spiraling out of control. Brynn’s breathing was coming out in labored gasps. Her mother was at her side, tears streaming down her old face. Cyrus rubbed the back of his neck gently as his eyes turned back to Julea. She was gone.
© Alexis Leno 2008