Hello everyone, this is Asclepius, with the fifth chapter of a wonderful story from Belladonna Rose, entitled
Black Rose Chronicles
Background music by Smartsound
Waving with a small smile Edvard then turned and walked back up to the bridge. Standing in the middle he watched as the boat made its way down river and as the sun became hidden behind the mountain. Strange sounds started up again throughout the forested area. Soon the creatures would be on the prowl again.
Charlotte curled up as close to Bella as she could. It was hard to row the craft with the child nestled against her so closely but she did her best. Edvard did not lie about the dangers of the darkness. She could hear the moans and screams coming from the river banks. Rustling bushes and brush as things seemed to make their way out into the dark. This alone made her want to row faster but she was beginning to falter in her strength. She was so tired. Much had happened to her this day. No time to rest. Must get to Soltown. Where is Soltown? Exhausted she kept rowing praying with every stroke that she did not fall asleep or worse.
Hours in the darkness eventually became less as the sun began to creep up through the trees. She had been at sea so long that she forgot how long it took for the sun to rise. Having not been on land much of late she needed to get her bearings again for life on land. The river began to narrow putting the banks much closer to the boat. This worried her a bit…but the noises from the forest became less and less with the rising sun.
Up ahead she saw the faint light of torches. Light that will soon be extinguished once the sun was out. And there …..a dock. This must be the place. Please let this be the place. A man in strange armor stood at the end of the dock. Turning his head he saw the boat and waved them forward. As if she was not doing that already. Bumping along the edge of the dock the man reached down and gained hold pulling them up closer. He pulled the tether from inside the boat and tied it to a post.
Reaching down he put his hand out to help her onto the docks. She waved him off and hoisted the child up to him. “Take her please. We have just come from Solace Bridge. Edvard bade me to bring here here to her mother. I am Belladonna Rose, the Avatar.” Blinking she was not sure if this was how she was supposed to introduce herself or not. No one said otherwise how she was to do so. No matter. Titles were not that important save one. And seems that one is long lost.
“By the stars. It is true. Another Outlander has come to help. Thank the stars. I am Captain Stanley and this is Soltown. I am in charge here til Commander Cugel says otherwise.”
Bella pulled herself up on the docks and tried her best to stand tall. Fatigue was winning over for sure now and apparently the Captain saw this. “Lets get this wee one to her mother. I know her well enough. She is across the road in the refugee camp. Abigail will be happy to see her and will want to thank you personally.”
Bella honestly could care less about thanks right now. All she wanted was hot food and sleep. Hopefully this woman will take pity on her and give that much. Smiling softly she followed Stanley across the road to the camp. Looking about she saw several tents and people milling about a roaring fire. Many children scampered about playing at being guards. From the looks of things they got away from Solace Bridge with barely the clothes on their backs. Which she knew how that felt. That was all she had.
The refugees saw Stanley and ran to him….huddling around him like vultures. He pushed his way past them to the far tent. A tall woman came to the entrance of the tent and gasped as Stanley approached. Handing the child to her she hugged the girl tightly. Crying out to the skies she turned away with the child. Many of the others cheered and applauded. Among their own despair they were happy that at least one of them had some happiness returned to them.
Stanley went to the fire and gave a short account to the people. Telling them of Bella’s journey from Solace Bridge. He told them he had news from Edvard and was going to send a dispatch to Cugel in Ardoris. They were saddened by the news. Solace Bridge had fallen. Now they had to decide what to do and where to go. Many had already left. Making way to other places throughout the lands. Some to smaller towns some to outlying areas. The pilgrimage from Solace Bridge for some would lead them far and wide. Some would stay close just for the memory or just because they had lost all hope.
Seeing this in their faces caused a pang of regret in Bella. But that is what the Oracle said. She said that she would feel regret, sorrow and many other emotions as she travelled the lands. Forsaken Love. This is the path she was on. To restore Love to the people. How the hell was she supposed to do this.
She stood by the fire as the refugees walked by patting her softly on the back or giving her a quick embrace for what she had done. As they did so she watched the woman…Abigail..tuck her daughter under a blanket on a rickety cot. The woman turned and motioned for Bella to come to her. Walking into the tent she saw there was very little here. A sack which was probably all she owned. The woman fumbled in her pocket and reached out to Bella. Taking her hand she placed a handful of gold pieces in her hand. Looking down at the pittance she looked back at the lady. Sorrow and what looked like shame crossed her face.
“Tis all I have to offer M’lady for your service. You brought my daughter back to me when I all but thought she was lost to me. There is nothing of my husband I assume…not that I thought there would be.”
“Nay M’ lady. I do not know of your husband. I do not know much of anything as I am new here. I was sent to Solace Bridge and that is where I found Edvard. We then found the child and I was sent here. Other than that I am as lost as you seem to be.”
The lady looked at Bella with astonished eyes. “Outlander…Avatar. The one the prophecy speaks of. You have done more than you could ever know. Please take the gold and make use of it. Armor, weapons whatever will aide you. It is the least I can do.”
Bella smiled and took two coins and gave the rest back to Abigail. “Please…take the remainder of this gold. Make your way out of here. Make your way to a better life if you can M’lady. For the sake of the child.”
Nodding and smiling the lady took the gold and put it back in her pocket. Little that it was it might be enough for food to get her and her child elsewhere. She would figure the rest out later.