My unnamed story I wrote in 1988 continues. Don’t forget to check out chapter 1 first.
Lorenai paced through her chamber, her gnarled fingers twisting and turning over one another like they so often did when she was in deep thought. Suddenly, there was a knock at the door.
“Lorenai, it is I,” said the voice from behind the door.
The door opened, and a tall, dark, lovely creature walked in. Her name was Adrienne. She was clad all in black, and it could be told just from the way the girl stood that she was a trained fighter.
Lorenai remembered the first time she had seen Adrienne–a tiny, helpless baby who had no parents. Her mother had been slain by barbarians in a raid, and no one knew who her father was. She had been given to Lorenai by Gordan, a gnome who had found her abandoned in the woods among the dead. Gordan had found a young boy with Adrienne, her brother, and his name was Darien. He had been about five years old at the time, and Gordan still smiled when he remembered how Darien had tried to kill him when he came near.
“What is it, Adrienne?” said Lorenai.
When she saw how empty Adrienne’s eyes were she said, “Speak, child.”
There was a pause, and then Adrienne said slowly, “Can’t you feel it? Danger–danger is drawing near.”
“Yes–I can. I have felt it for days now.”
“Something is going to happen, Lorenai. Something drastic.”
Cochran, a big burly man, stood in the doorway but did not speak.
Adrienne finally looked at Lorenai. “What can we do?”
“All we can do is wait.”
Cochran spoke. “And when the time comes, Adrienne, we shall fight.”
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Adrienne waited out the days like a person in a dream. Then, the day finally came when Cochran heard the thunder of hoof beats approaching.
Darien looked at his sister and squeezed her limp hand. He could feel his fear for her constrict his throat when he said, “Fight well, sister.”
To their surprise, a band of Easterners–called Nieromen–had come. The people of the East were a strange people, and they had come to be feared. After the great war, they had become very religious and were seldom seen.
The man who seemed to be the leader came forward on his horse and held up his hand. “We come in the name of Niero, the eternal. Let me speak with your leader.”
Lorenai, who had kept back, now stepped forward.
“I welcome you, Guad-Shon. What is your business here?”
“We have come on a pilgrimage to receive the woman-child.”
Darien noticed the same fear in both Adrienne and Lorenai’s eyes. What was it?
Lorenai rose her voice so those around her could hear. “Once every one hundred years the Nieromen go to the lands of the North or the lands of the South. They request a woman-child of great strength and skill to come with them and become their sacrifice to Niero. The woman-child must be special and cannot refuse if chosen. It is a special honor.”
“Yes, Lorenai. That is our custom. We shall observe your women-children for the next two days. On the evening of the second day, we shall leave with our choice.”
With that, Guad-Shon moved his band through the street, and the people dispersed to let them by.
Darien could feel his sister’s tension as she stood next to him, and he saw how the Nieroman leader, Guad-Shon, had nodded his head in respect to her. How did she know this man?
When all the people had gone back to their homes, Darien pulled Adrienne aside. “What does this mean, Adrienne? How do you know the Nieroman leader?”
“I do not know him. I believe he just–knows of me.”
“You are the one, aren’t you? Are they going to take you a–”
Suddenly, Lorenai walked up. “Enough. Do not question her, Darien. She has many of her own questions.”
Darien bowed his head in realization, and then moved away.
“Adrienne, look at me,” said Lorenai. Adrienne looked up from the ground.
“I do not want you to be afraid. You and I both know that you are the most likely choice for the Nieromen. You have been trained as a sorceress–you have also been trained as a fighter. I never thought of these implications as I educated you.”
“It is not your fault, Lorenai.”
Lorenai took Adrienne’s hand and said, “If this is what the Gods have planned for you, then so be it.”
“So be it,” repeated Adrienne.
Come back next Thursday for chapter 3!