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       Cassiea, p.1

           Megan Lane
 
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Cassiea


  Cassiea

  by Megan Lane

  Cassiea

  by Megan Lane

  Copyright © 2017 Tienchi Tang

  Illustration Design Tienchi Tang

  All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the author, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.

  Table of Contents

  Prologue

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Prologue

  He came, just as she had predicted. When he is died, there would be only one left to go. She smiled at the thought. They had appointed three of their highest level of magic to kill her. And, they were pathetic. She had already taken care of the first one. He was the weakest. The second, will die soon. And the third, the betrayer, would meet his end very slowly. Already she could sense the battle outside winding down. She cupped her mouth to silence her laughter. The sounds of her enemies' cries made her want to laugh. Soon, very soon, it would be all over and she would have everything. But first things first: target number two has arrived.

  He knew she was there but it was too dark to see anything clearly in the cave. The only light source was from the moon that seeped through the cracks above. Outside, a war was dwindling down and he prayed that his side was winning. But, he couldn't think about that right now. He had to concentrate on defeating her, the leader and the most powerful witch of blood magic.

  Foreign sounds penetrated the stillness of the cave and he held himself still, trying not to make any sudden moves that might give his position away. He waited for his eyes to become accustomed to the darkness before viewing the area around him in search of her. Suddenly, a movement darted to his right. He forced himself not to react; to stay still and wait. Closing his eyes, he opened up all of his other senses trying to pinpoint the noise.

  It was hard to identify where the noise was coming from. It was moving too fast from one place to the other to get a fix on where she was. Suddenly, the sound became chaotic and indistinguishable. He shifted slightly to his left hoping to get a better range of where she would be before dodging to the right and then sprinting away from where he was hiding as bolt of lighting struck. He cursed to himself for his mistake and quickly returned fire, but it was not quick enough. He braced himself for she was already in the air and was as about land right on top of him. Her cries of victory echoed through the cave. He could see the madness, from the blood magic, had finally taken its toll on her and hoped that he still had enough power within him to kill her.

  Chapter 1

  It felt like a dream. I would tell Uncle Ned every time he asked me why I always went through the park during my ungodly hour shift. That was what he called my morning shifts at the 24-hour diner where I worked because I would have to get up at the crack of dawn and cross Central Park to get there. I told him, as I had said many times before, I loved to watch how the sky slowly changes from a grayish hue to a soft pastel yellow then a light blue. Wisps of clouds would appear and come alive. And, the smell of the early morning sweet-scented grasses and flowers before it was tainted by the fumes of the rush hour traffic. Ten minutes of heaven. It always seemed I was in another world. He would then say, “Be careful, Cass, there are a lot of crazy people out there.” I would then roll my eyes and kiss him on the cheek before leaving.

  Sometimes he would accompany me through the park, but not these days. Though he would not admit it, I could tell by way he moved and the slowness of his breath that something was wrong. It worried me—scarred me in fact. He was the only family I had left. My dad and my mom died in a car accident when I was twelve. Since then, I had been in one foster home after another trying to blend in with the other kids or making myself as inconspicuous as possible. I was sixteen when he had appeared and gave me my life back. I remembered that day very clearly. We both were afraid and uncertain as we watched each other with suspicion and hope. He never explained or made excuses. He just asked me if I wanted to live with him until I was old enough to take care of myself. And from then on, it was just him and me.

  I promised him that I would take my usual walk through the park and enjoy it for the both of us while he went to his appointment at the hospital for a checkup. He assured me that there was nothing to worry about and that there was no need for me to accompany him. But all I could think about was how scared I was of losing him. My ten minutes of heaven wasn't enough to lift my spirits.

  It goes without saying that I was distracted, thinking about my uncle and how I could convince my boss to let me leave early so I could be with him at the hospital. And so, I did not hear anyone coming up behind me until I was flat on my back with all the air knocked out of me. Before I could even fathom what had just happened, the creature—and I called it that only because, from my view point on the ground, that thing did not look human—was already miles away. The creature was short, stout, and hunched over with a limp in one leg.

  I sighed and sat up. As upset as I was, I really didn't want my morning to be ruined further by arguing with whomever or whatever had knocked me over. I was about to get up when something made me hesitate. I looked down and saw a necklace, with a crystal attached to it, on the ground next to me. It was clear but as I moved it around, it became slightly murky. Then several round bright lights, of different colors and sizes, started to appear and swirled around until it slowly faded way.

  It was very unusual and must be worth something. I should keep it, I thought, he or it doesn't deserved it. “It is mine,” I said out loud.

  Then, I shook my head in surprise. What had come over me to think such thoughts and to say such words. I was taught better than that. Sighing again, I got up and started to run after the creature. I was half a mile away, ready to give up, when I saw him—it, at a clearing. As I got closer, I realized that it was a man. A very short man. Sensing I was behind him, he whipped around, bared his sharp teeth at me and started to hiss. I was taken aback by his hostility and also his appearance. He looked like, like a troll.

  “What the—Hey!” I shouted.

  Before I could even blink, he grabbed the necklace from my hand. And, before I could even utter another word, he drew an invisible line in the air with the crystal. The line started to glow, then it slowly opened. It was amazing. On the other side was a forest with a path that led out to the distance. It didn't look anything like this section of the park. The troll stepped into the forest and started to run. I was stupefied, but only for a second, before I got angry. First he knocked me down, then not even a thank you for returning his necklace, he ran off again. I was definitely not going to put up with that.

  “Hey!” I shouted at his retreating form.

  I hesitated only for a second before I stepped into the opening. Then I turned to see it slowly closing behind me. The park, with its manicured lawn and agriculturally designed flower beds, bushes and trees that I was familiar with, disappeared until what was left was an unfamiliar over grown and untouched forest. I turned around to find that the man was gone. For such a small person, he could run really fast. I sighed again and ran after him. The road went for miles with no end in sight and I was beginning to tire.

  “I should just keep the damn thing,” I mumbled to myself. “He definitely doesn't deserve it. It's mine anyway.”

  I stopped then and wo
ndered what was wrong with me. The necklace was his, not mine. After a half mile, I regretted following him and was about to turn around to find my way back when I heard a scream. I ran to where the sound was coming from. The scream was getting louder and I could hear the agony and fear in his voice. As I turned the corner, I halted. A few feet from me were two humongous beasts. I was too far away to see any details, but by their general height and shape, they reminded me of ogres. One of them was holding the man, by the neck, up in the air.

  I couldn't make out what they were saying, but it didn't look like they were greeting a friend. My brain was screaming for me to move, to hide, but I was paralyzed. My eyes wide open as I watched, in a daze and horror, as one of those monsters pulled on the man's head until it came apart from his body. There was no sound of blood-curdling screams of agony, just a spasm of his body before he went limp. They've killed him. He was dead. A small sound came from the back of my throat and I was about to scream when someone covered my mouth and pulled me into the bushes. A sensation of being safe and calm came over me even though the image of the dead man lingered in my mind.

  “Stay still and keep quiet—they are coming this way,” A voice whispered into my ear.

  I closed my eyes praying that we wouldn't be found. It felt like an eternity kneeling in front of this person who saved my life. I had no doubt that if he hadn't covered my mouth to prevent me from screaming and pushed me down to hid me with him, those monsters would have killed me too. A twig snapped. My eyes widened and I forced myself not to scream in fear. He tightened his grip on me. Suddenly up in the sky, a high-pitched noise sounded.

  “Run!” He yelled, unconcerned that he gave our location away.

  Before I could even react, he was off the ground and running, pulling me with him. It was a weird sensation, running with him. The trees blurred and it felt like we were flying. I couldn't remember ever running this fast before. And every time I felt myself tiring, there was a small burst of energy coming from his hand that was holding onto mine and spread throughout my body.

  I could hear the rustle of leaves, branches, and high-pitch squeals behind us. My heart pounded and I forced myself to keep going, to run. They were gaining on us and it was only a matter of time before they caught us and killed us. The sound of a whistle shrieked through the sky. My savior stopped and pulled me behind him, as he turned around to face the direction we had just came from. We stood listening into the stillness of the forest; to the disturbingly quiet atmosphere that fell before us. And, we waited. We waited what seemed like hours before we heard the sounds of movement coming towards us from every direction. I grabbed a fist full of his shirt, plastered my body to his back and shut my eyes really tight. When it was all quiet again, I slowly opened my eyes. Then it widened, not in fear, but in surprise. There were a lot of them surrounding us and they were astonishing.

  They reminded me of those mythical creatures, Elves, that I read about when I was little. All that was missing, were those pointy ears. They had light tanned faces, almond-shaped eyes with colors of either, golden brown, pale blue or green. They had long lean bodies, some more muscular than others but all were tall. I felt very small compared to them, but then I was only five-foot-three not even close to average height. The colors of the clothing on most of them were green with blends of brown and tan mixed in, almost like a camouflage outfit, but not in any army style that I knew of. Others wore light colors, mostly earth tones. And a few wore outrageously colorful clothing. Their style of clothes was a blend of old-fashioned looks with a few new modern twists to it.

  A few wore their hair long, some in an elaborate fashion and some in simple brads, while others wore their hair short, down to their shoulders. All the ones wearing camouflage clothing had hair colors of dark brown to black with varying shades of green or tan for highlights. The hair colors on the others were either very light blonde, dark blue, brown, or jet black, with a hint of purple highlights, or white. As crazy as it sounds, I must have stepped into another world, another universe since it was impossible that such beautiful and elaborated people could exist in ours. And I wondered, who or what they were.

  I had turned a full circle, taking my time admiring each one of them, when I came face to face with my savior. He was just as beautiful as the rest of them. He had long black hair with streaks of green and brown mixed in. His eyes were blue like the ocean. It reminded me of the one by the beach that my parents and I went to one summer years ago when I was only a child. I don't remember the name of that place, but I do remember the roaring of waves and the color of the ocean. I stared at him, entranced by those eyes. Someone nudged him on the shoulder and he turned his head slightly but kept his eyes to mine. The person nudged him again and another called out to him. Reluctantly, he turned and walked over to the man who stood a few feet away from us. I watched them, curious about the man that my savior was talking to. He had an air of command about him by the way he moved and the manner in which he spoke with the others. Even though, I couldn't hear what they were saying, I could tell that they were acting out his orders. He must be the leader of this group.

  I was slowly becoming aware of being watched and I looked to see their prying eyes boring down on me. I started to fidget, uncomfortable by their assessing eyes. It was a relief when he came back with the leader following close behind him. Suddenly, all of them converged around the three of us. I moved closer to my savior unsure of what was happening. He took my hand and a sense of calmness spread all over my body. The leader pointed his index finger into the air and drew a line. Like before, there was a glow and then a opening started to form; another scene appeared. It looked like a camp-ground and I could see people moving about. One by one they entered the place. I didn't want to go. I had made the mistake of following the troll here and I wasn't going to do it again. Who knew what it would lead me to. My savior took my hand again when I took a step back. A sense of calmness spread through me again.

  “Are you doing this?” I asked, meaning the sensation of calm that was spreading through me.

  “We must go, the elders are expecting you.” He said, avoiding my question.

  I took another stepped back, confused and scared by what he had said. “Expecting me? How did you guys know I will be here? I didn't even know I was going to be here.”

  He tightened his grip and I could feel myself calming again.

  “Stop that!” I demanded, “I don't need you to make me feel safe when I know I'm not.”

  He let go and the sensation stopped. “I am sorry. I was only trying to help.”

  “Then take me back to the park.”

  “I am sorry I cannot do that.”

  “Fine, then I'll find my way home.”

  “Please, you must trust me. We must leave, the moricks will be coming soon. They know about you now.”

  “Who are the moricks and how do they know me?”

  “The moricks are those creatures that were chasing us before. Others like them will be coming shortly. You must trust me. No harm will come to you when you are with us.”

  “I don't know who you or your friends are. Why should I trust you?”

  “My name is Von. I was sent, along with the others to protect you. Please, the elders will tell you more. We must go.”

  There was a sound of a horns blasting in the distance, not far from where we were.

  “They are coming,” he said with urgency in his voice.

  I bit my lip, not knowing what to do. I had a feeling that if I stepped through the opening, my life would never be the same. And, it scared me; the not knowing what I was walking into. Was he telling me the truth? Would I be safe with them? He and the others did save me. But was their intention honorable or did they want something from me that I may not want to give or can. I felt like I could trust him, but how did I know if it was my true feelings or if he had done one of his tricks to make me feel this way. He probably did make me trust him, to believe in him, like the way he had made me feel calm and safe with jus
t a touch of his hand. There was a small part inside of me, at the back of my mind, that was telling me I shouldn't go with him. He and his kind would destroy me if I stepped into their camp. That, I didn't belong to them. As I listened to the creatures getting closer, there was one thing I knew for sure, if I stayed here, I was definitely going to die. I had made a choice, whither it was for the better or for the worst. I took a deep breath and stepped through.

 
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