Kara587Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡN9380D08fs
Jasper was someone I would describe as a handsome, talented, middle aged man with the personality of ten-year-old trapped inside. He talked non-stop about random topics that seemed to pop into his head, and he would become distracted by anything we came across. Theo seemed to be used to his behavior and would just go along with him, but would bring him back into focus if he would go too far off. It was like a balancing act.
We had travelled some distance from their home with the tug in my chest pulling me in every direction. Jasper said it was like a compass. But instead of pointing at north it points to what, or in my case who, you are looking for. At first it seemed to just go straight. It directed us West towards the valley, my home and the place I had been trying to get Tiara too. It was when we arrived at the crossroads it suddenly pointed north.
The East Mountain crossroad was the main road for all travelers through the mountains. It was also an enchanted entrance to the valley. Anyone from the valley knew to take the path that led south. It would take you south for some time before the path would disappear and from there you would find the entrance, but not just anyone can see it. If Tiara and Daniel had chosen to take the south road then they would have most likely walked straight past the entrance.
The tugged in my chest was telling me north though. The northern road led towards the top of a mountain where an old stronghold stood in shambles. It was normally filled with murders, thieves, and poachers. If Tiara and Daniel picked the northern road then I feared for their lives.
“What’s going on in that head of yours?” Jasper knelt beside me.
We had been stopped at the crossroad for a good few minutes, impatiens was apparently setting in. “Are you sure your spell worked correctly?”
He nodded. “Course it did.” He stood and held out his arms. “I cast it.”
Theo snorted. “Remember the shrinking spell you tried out on the horses?”
Jasper frowned over his shoulder at Theo.
“Oh, and the enlarging spell you tried on the rats.”
Jasper sighed. “Fine, maybe not everything goes to plan but I’ve done this spell plenty of times.”
“Why do you think something is wrong?” Theo turned to me.
I looked up the northern road. Shivers ran down the length of my back just thinking about it. “The tug in my chest is pointing up the northern road.”
Jasper’s face became serious for the first time. He was suddenly a mature and serious warlock. “If they are up the northern road then they are most likely in big trouble.”
“Why would they go up there?” said Theo.
“They aren’t from the mountains. They don’t know about the road,” I said.
Jasper rubbed his hands together. “It is possible they were captured and taken against the will. Whatever the case, let’s go find them and get you all where you need to go.” He seemed so sure of himself. It almost sounded like he was being cocky.
Jasper began walking down the northern road. He strode forward with a look of determination. His hands clenched and swinging beside him. He was marching into battle.
Theo stood beside me. He reached down and placed his hand in the middle of my back. “I know Jasper can be extreme, but don’t worry, he will save your friends.”
I wanted to smile and say ‘thank you’, but to him it would mean nothing. Instead, I nudged his leg and began to follow Jasper.
The northern road wasn’t much of a road. It was more of an overgrown path filled with fallen trees and potholes. There was no clearly marked path, and the tugging in my chest wasn’t pulling me up the hill then I would have no idea, and the looks of confusion on both Jasper and Theo’s face made it clear that they wouldn’t know either.
I felt like I was wandering around. Everything was beginning to look the same and I couldn’t help but want to just turn around and go back to the valley. I knew it was the fear of what we would find if we found Tiara and Daniel. If they had stupidly chosen this path then they would likely be dead, captured or stuck in a trap. Or the chance they had been taken up this path by someone else, then they were no friend, and a fight was ahead for us all.
The tugging in my chest suddenly started spinning. It wasn’t pointing in a certain direction. I stopped and tried to concentrate. Jasper had mentioned if I got distracted by other things I wanted, such as going home, the spell would begin to lose Tiara, and he didn’t know if he would be able to get it to work again.
The tugging didn’t stop. It seemed to be going insane, like suddenly Tiara was all around me, but all I saw were trees.
“What’s going on?” said Jasper.
“The tugging, it’s strange.”
He frowned. “Strange how?”
“It feels like its spinning in a circle. It’s like Tiara is in every direction all around me.” There was nothing though. Trees, snow and the last rays of sun slipping by.
“Something is interfering with my spell.”
“Another warlock?” said Theo.
Jasper shrugged. “Don’t know. And I won’t until I find out what the interference is.” He knelt and placed his bare hand into the snow.
Theo turned and moved towards a tree. He dropped onto the ground and crossed his legs. “Get comfortable,” he said, “this could take a while.”
I stood for a moment and watched Jasper. His face was set in stone. Concentration pushed his laugh lines into straight lines across his forehead. There was no emotion or recognition in his eyes, they were glazed over. And his didn’t seemed to move at all, not even a sign of breathing. If anyone would randomly come across him they would think he was nothing more than a statue of a man.
After a few minutes of waiting Jasper showed no signs of movement. Instead of gawking at him I walked over to Theo and sat down beside him. He was watching Jasper too, except he seemed to study everything that Jasper was doing. It made sense since he was Jasper apprentice, but there was also curiosity in his eyes, along with amazement and wonder. It was almost like what Jasper was doing were new to him.
Sitting down I nudged his leg.
Theo broke his intense study and turned to me. He smiled. He placed his hand gently on my back in-between my shoulder blades. He said, “Jasper is trying to locate the magic blocking his spell, if you’re wondering. He is using the magic that runs through the earth to locate its source.”
Sounded simple enough. I rested my head on his knee and continued to watch Jasper. And I tried to ignore the sick feeling in my chest from the spinning. I didn’t need to regurgitate my last meal for Jasper and Theo to see.
I grew impatient as the minutes ticked by and Jasper remained a statue. Theo pulled a book from his backpack and began to read, while I stood and paced; and the longer Jasper took the faster I walked.
I nudged a tree stump with my paw. I jumped up onto the top and looked at the perfectly cut stump. The top was completely smooth almost as if it had been smoothed down. There wasn’t a single inconsistency, it was perfect. Looking around the stump I noticed how the snow didn’t seem as deep around the roots. Snow seemed to pile around the stump not on it or its roots. I jumped off the stump and turned to get Theo’s attention. Maybe the stump had something to do with the magical interference. But Theo was gone.
Theo no longer sat against the tree, no book in his hand. There was no trace, not a single footprint of him anywhere. Jasper was gone too. He was no longer kneeling in snow with his hand plunged into the ground. Where had they gone?
I spun around in a circle but all I could see were trees, and more trees. “Jasper!” I said. Maybe they were pulling a magic trick to lessen the tension of the situation. Maybe Jasper had found something and managed to find the magic block. Or maybe I had done something and made myself disappear.
I examined the stump; all I did was walk over it. Maybe it was a portal or a doorway. Had I accidentally stepped through some doorway? I knew I was still on the east mountain. The tree Theo had been sitting against was still there. I pulled myself up onto the stump and looked at the top. There was nothing out of the ordinary that jumped out at me, it looked like a stump.
I stepped of the other side and almost jumped when I could see Jasper and Theo again. Jasper still had his hand plunged into the snow. Theo’s nose was buried in his book. I looked back at the stump. It had to be a portal.
Jasper gasped and pulled his hand from the snow. He began to blow onto his fingers and then buried it under his jacket. “You need to remind me not to do that in winter.”
Theo looked up at him over the top of his book. “Would you listen?”
“Fair point.” Jasper turned to me. “There is a barrier blocking the spell. That is what is making it go all funny.”
He nodded. “Like the one surrounding my house. You must find the doorway to enter. Hopefully they won’t have locked it. Figuring out another warlock’s password could take a while.”
I looked back at the stump. “Can the doorway be anywhere? On anything?”
“Anywhere you can think of,” said Theo.
“I once made a doorway under the roots of a tree. Only way to get in was to climb underneath.” Jasper looked proud of himself.
Theo snapped his book shut. “We ended up with countless animals getting inside.”
“They were my friends.” Jasper pouted.
Theo stood and walked over to us. He said, “They were pests.” He looked at me. “I made him move the door and add a password. Plus, it saved us on having to wash our clothes every time we left the house.”
“Why not just have a password in the first place?” I said.
Jasper sighed, and said, “Passwords are a lot harder to add to barriers. Once you’ve installed a barrier you have to add an extra layer which contains the password.” He opened his hands and a white ball and a yellow ball appeared. “You essentially have two barriers.” The yellow ball wrapped itself around the white ball. “One around another.” The balls disappeared. “But it also takes a lot of energy and power. Took me three days to recover from the spell.”
I was surprised. Not many spells could wear warlock’s out that easily.
“Okay!” Jasper clapped his hands together. “Let’s find this entrance.”
I wanted to laugh. “About that.” I walked over to the stump. “I found it by accident.” I jumped up onto the stump and watched as Jasper and Theo watched me with intrigue. I jumped off the other side and landed in the snow.
A moment passed before Theo came over the stump followed by Jasper. Both smiling.
Theo said, “That’s a clever place for it.”
Jasper smiled. “Never would have thought to look at a stump.”
“I’m guessing most warlock’s hide them?”
“Yes,” said Jasper.
“Then I’m guessing that this warlock isn’t really fussed about hiding the entrance or he is smarter then you both,” I said.
“What did she say?” said Theo.
I smiled and turned away from him. The first time I had stepped through I hadn’t noticed that the spinning in my chest from the spell had stopped, but it had. The tug was back and it was pointing up the mountain.
Jasper stretched his arms out. “So, in what direction do we go?”
“Up the mountain.”
“Hey, Jasper.” Theo caught our attention. He was walking in the direction we had to go but he stopped at a tree. He touched the trunk gently. “There is something carved into the tree.”
Jasper walked over to him and examined the mark. “Nothing magical.”
I stepped in-between Jasper and Theo and looked myself. The mark in the tree was simple. An arrow pointing up. “It’s a mark that poachers make so they know where to go, and don’t get lost.”
“How do you know?”
“Because I’ve seen them look for markings. If they ever get lost they look for marked trees. The arrow points in the direction of the east mountain. They always know which way is home.” I walked passed the tree and carefully examined other tree trunks. A couple of meters away I found another. “There is another here.”
Jasper walked over, Theo just behind him.
“They are pointing in the same direction we need to go.”
“Maybe poachers kidnapped your friends.” Jasper reached down and placed his hand on my back.
“Don’t worry, Kara,” said Jasper, “we will find them. I promise.”
I wanted to believe him. But the truth was we didn’t know what we would find. Tiara and Daniel could be dead or alive, we didn’t know.
“Jasper,” said Theo breaking my chain of thought.
“What’s wrong?” said Jasper.
“If Kara is right, and these markings are from poachers, then that means a warlock is working with poachers. That can’t be a good combination.” Theo looked worried.
“No, it can’t be. Poacher cause enough trouble. They seem to bring more and more of the queen’s guard into the woods every day. Having a warlock on their side could cause ever more grief for us all.”
I said, “Why would a warlock help poachers?”
“I don’t know. Warlock’s have a law that we are all bound to follow. Whether your intentions are good or evil, we have rules that we don’t break. This warlock, whomever they are, are breaking laws that not even I dare break.”
“We need to find the warlock,” said Theo.
“No.” I growled at him.
He jumped back.
“We need to find Tiara and Daniel.” I froze. The plan was to never mention Tiara’s name in case someone was to recognize it. “We need to find my friends.” I hoped that neither of them noticed the slip of their names, but Jasper’s face said otherwise.
“Tiara and Daniel?” said Jasper.
I said, “Yes.”
“Is Tiara the name of your bond-mate?” asked Jasper.
“And Daniel is her father?”
I nodded again.
Jasper smiled softly. “Well, what are we waiting for? Let’s go find Tiara and Daniel. Lead the way, Kara.”
Theo reached out and grabbed Jasper’s shoulder. He said, “Jasper, don’t you have a-”
“Theo.” Jasper stopped him. He grasped Theo’s hand and gave him a serious glare. He seemed to be speaking through actions.
I was clueless.
Theo seemed to understand. He nodded and dropped his hand.
Jasper’s smile returned. “In which direction do we go?”
“Up.” I swung my head towards the mountain top.
“Let’s get climbing.” Jasper rubbed his hands together and walked passed me.ns 220.127.116.11da2