Kara726Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡJTrRQgxC4V
The destroyed forest was quiet as I walked through the dead waste land. The ground was rough and coarse against my paws. The air smelt of charade meat and ash. I wanted to turn and run in the other direction but I had to cross the waste land to find my bond mate. There was no turning back.
It was only days ago that the new waste land was a beautifully overgrown forest, and within a matter of hours it was burnt to ash. The bodies of animals and humans alike littered the ground. Vultures had been ripping into the bodies at every angle, not much was left.
The smell made me want to empty my stomach, but I hadn’t eaten in some time so there wasn’t anything for me to spit out.
I stopped beside one of the trees that was still standing. The trunk was burn to a crisp and so were the branches. It seemed to only just be holding itself up.
The queen had destroyed as whole section of the forest. Killing innocent people who had done nothing to her; they only had a familiar by their side that they loved and wanted to protect. I needed to find my other half if I wanted to stop this.
I wish I wasn’t the one who had been chosen. Why was I the one who was to be bonded with the last chance for the familiar’s of the world. If my bond mate was as strong as the Great Owl had told me then saving my kind would be easy, but the only clue I had was that my bond mate was a young female who would have the hair as red as fire and eyes as grey as the moon.
For the past three months I had found girls with red hair but no grey eyes, and girls with grey eyes but no red hair. The search seemed impossible, but I continued. I couldn’t give up and fail my kind.
I reached the end of the waste land as the moon began to rise. I was tired and needed to find a place to sleep. I moved into a new stretch of trees and found a fallen tree. Beneath the tree was a large enough gap that I could curl up in and sleep, no one would see me. I jumped off the log and moved under it. The ground beneath the log was hard and cold, it wasn’t soft like earth normally is. I pushed at the dirt on the ground and silver gleamed from underneath. It wasn’t earth at all but metal. Oh no. It was a trap. I turned to leap from the space but a cage door slammed shut. I was stuck in a cage; one that belonged to poachers. I growled and dropped onto the hard surface. So much for saving my kind.
I sat in the cage for hours waiting for the poachers to come but it was quiet. The only noise around was the beeping of the cage. A signal that was meant to tell the poachers that their trap had caught something. But there was no sign of them.
It was closer to the middle of the night when I heard a twig crack. Poachers! I pushed myself to the back of the cage, ready to rip into whoever touched the cage. The breathing of whoever was outside grew louder, they sounded tired and out of breath. Almost like they had been running.
The person bent down in front of the cage and showed me her face. It was a girl. She was still young, barely seventeen. She tried to peer in the cage but it was clear she couldn’t see me. My black fur helped me to blend into the shadows. She pulled a knife from her pocket and pushed it into the gap beside the lock. I jumped at the door, scaring her.
She fell back into the moonlight. The glow showing her features clearing. She had red hair and grey eyes. She was the first girl I had ever found. It could be her, so I said, “What are you doing?”
Her face was shocked. She had clearly heard of talking animals before. Then again it wasn’t common for anyone to know about familiars.
“You can talk,” she said.
I didn’t have time for her to be shocked. I needed to get free. The girl broke the cage open and let me out. After she shook off her surprise at the fact that she could understand me. She hid me in her family barn.
This girl was it. I was her familiar and she had no idea about any of it. Her name was Taria and she looked the part, and she could also hear me speak. I had found her after months but she wasn’t what I expected. The Great Owl hadn’t warned me about any of this. I had just assumed she would at least know about familiars but she didn’t have a single idea. I knew I should have asked questions. Great Owl had also told me that the girl was an orphan, this one had a family and she seemed happy. It seemed wrong to try and rip her from her happy life.
I spent the night in the cold barn. After slipping into some of the loose hay, I fell asleep comfortably and woke as the sun’s rays slipped through the cracks in the old wood. A rooster on the farm crowed, no doubt waking the girl and her family.
Out of the bundle of warm hay the morning air was cool. I shook off the hay that stuck to my fur and frowned as my stomach growled at me. It had been two or three days since my last meal and I would need to fill up my stomach for the journey to back to the White Wood. The hardest part would be convincing the girl to leave with me.
I found a hole in the barn wall and slipped through. I heard a creak and a slam of a door. The girl’s father was up. I quickly moved along the fence beside a large herd of cattle. One of them would have gone down nicely but I didn’t have time, and I didn’t want the farmer to catch me.
I reached the woods and looked back as the farmer entered the barn. Good thing I woke when I did.
In the trees I quickly found a large rabbit, munching away on the foliage of a bush. I pounced and caught the rabbit with easy. As I tore into the now dead animal, my stomach happily hummed with the taste of fresh food. I didn’t know how I survived days without eating. After another two rabbits I found a stream to bath and drink from. The water was heaven and refreshing.
Around midday I made my way back to the girl’s farm. I needed to find her and talk to her. I stood atop the hill and looked down. The girl was on the back of a horse riding alongside a large herd of cattle. She whistled and clicked her tongue, moving the cattle towards a pen that already contained another lot of cattle. An older woman sat on the fence of the pen, counting as each animal moved past her. The farmer was at the back of the herd, two dogs at his horses heels. I would need to stay clear of the dogs, they would find me easily.
I slipped down the mountain as the last of the cattle were herded into the pen. I slipped past the pen and behind the barn as the girl rode towards another building. It was much smaller than the barn, most likely a bed for the horses. I moved quickly from the barn to the other building but spotted a dog looking at me. The dog started to bark and caught the attention of the farmer. I got behind the second building before the farmer could spot me.
I peaked my head around the corner and watched as the farmer yelled at the dog. “Killer!”
The dog fell silent.
“Heel!” said the farmer.
The dog whined and sprinted back to the farmer.
I let out a heavy breath and slipped into the building. Unlike the barn’s doors, this building had both doors open. Inside I spotted the girl. She had her horse tied to the door of a stall and she was brushing it. Besides the girl and the horse, the building was empty so I stepped inside.
I cleared my throat.
The girl frowned and turned around. Her face lit up as she saw me. “You came back.”
I nodded. “Yes, we have much to discuss.”
“When I went to the barn this morning and found you weren’t there, I though Pa had scared you off.”
“No,” I said. “I was out of there before he came outside. I was starving so I went for a hunt and then found a river to bathe in.”
“Fair enough.” She brushed her horse. With two large strokes she dropped the brush into a bucket and untied her horses lead. She placed the horse into the stall and said, “We should probably find a place to talk where there isn’t anyone to interrupt.”
“Where do you suggest?”
“I will meet you up the hill.”
The girl smiled. “I just have a few more chores to finish. I might be awhile.”
“That’s fine. Take your time.”
I moved out of the stables and went back the same way I came. I climbed back up the hill without incident and watched as the girl’s family went about their day. I found a comfy spot under the shade of one of the trees and lay down. The warm summer breeze blew through my fur. It seemed to lull me into a slumber. I dozed as the minutes went by until I heard human breathes.
I opened my eyes and watched as the girl climbed up the hill. She had a bow in her hand and a quill strapped to her back. She looked like she was going hunting. I stood from my spot and moved into view.
“Finished your chores?” I asked.
She nodded. “Yes. Pa said I had the rest of the day to do what I like.” She smiled. “We have plenty of time to talk.”
“Good. Shall we stay here or go somewhere else?”
“Somewhere else. Don’t want Ma or Pa finding us. And I don’t want my brother finding us either.”
“Yes. How did you know?”
“The annoyance in your voice. Sounds like something only a younger sibling could do.”
“Do you have any siblings?”
“No. A familiar never has siblings.”
We walked further into the trees and came upon the river I had been at earlier. I sat myself down on the bank, in the shade of a large tree. The girl sat beside me.
“What shall we discuss first?”
“How about you ask me what you want to know? I’ll answer what I can and then we can go from there.”
“Okay.” She sat silent for a moment. A look of contemplation on her face. She, no doubt, had many questions running through her mind. “Where do you come from?”
“The White Woods.”
“Wow, really?” She grew excited. I knew humans tended to avoid the White Woods, besides poachers, so it wasn’t surprising how intrigued she seemed.
“I’ve always wanted to see them but they are said to be dangerous.”
“They are only dangerous to people who don’t know their way around.” And it was true. The White Wood held many dangerous creatures and plant life. There were many cliffs to fall off and caves to fall into. Many humans had died trying to hunt down the rare creatures within the trees. Even those looking for a place to hide generally only found their death. For an animal, the White Wood’s were a peaceful and beautiful place to call home. Safe from the Queen and her guard. Safe from everything that meant them harm, besides the occasional poacher.
“Are there many familiars where you come from?”
“Yes, there are some. Not as many as their once was.”
“Do any of them have a... other half?”
“A bond mate?”
“Some do, some haven’t found theirs yet. It’s harder for familiars to find their bond mate these days. We can’t wonder around from village to village freely without fear of getting caught. And besides, it can sometimes take generations for familiar’s partner to be born.”
She looked at me confused. “How old are you?”
“I am seventeen in your human years.” To some I was still considered a child. I hadn’t been in the world long enough to understand it.
“Same as me. How old are you in “familiar” years?”
“We don’t keep track of time.”
“Why not?” She frowned.
“We have no need of time. Familiars are, in a sense, immortal. We are born and will grow to our adult size and then we won't change. We won’t age. We will simply stay the same until we find our bond mate. Once the bond is accepted by both the familiar and the human than the familiar will age. Sometimes powerful witches or wizards who have a familiar can live longer than the normal human, they can extend their life, so their familiar’s lives are also prolonged.”
“Can humans not have immortality like their familiars?”
“No one can live forever.”
“It sounds lonely.”
“Your life. You said you have no siblings and that there aren’t many familiars around where you live. And you have yet to find your bond mate.”
“I was never lonely; well, at least, not until I left home. I had many friends in the White Wood. Sadly, I couldn’t stay though.”
“That is the reason I needed to speak with you.”
“Okay.” Taria looked at me with intrigue. I am sure since our first encounter the night before she wanted to know everything about me.
“Several months ago I was told by Great Owl that I was the familiar for a very special person. My bond mate was a young woman who would do extraordinary things and could help save my kind.”
Her eyes grew with excitement. It sounded like a story for children and at first I thought that it was.
“However,” I continued. “She was hidden from the world for her own safety. She was to grow up in a place where her enemies would never think to find her, and when the time was right she would rise up and destroy them.”
“Well, that sounds... exciting.” Her eyes glowed and she seemed interested. But I could sense fear as well.
“Yes, and if you are her then we have a journey ahead of us.”
“How do you know it’s me?” Excitement was gone and fear overwhelmed her eyes. Her grey eyes seemed to darken.
“For one, you can understand me. You have the red hair and grey eyes, but you have a family.”
“What’s wrong about that?” She sounded offended.
“The girl who I am supposed to find is meant to be an orphan. She isn't meant to have a mother or a father, or a brother. Yet, you have it all.”
“Oh.” Taria looked down to the ground. She ran her fingers through her hair and focused on the green grass.
“What?” She knew something.
“The thing is that...”
“What?” I raised my voice. If it was something important I needed to know.
“My Ma found me when I was only a few weeks old.” She looked back up at me. Fear still cloaked her face. “She and Pa took me in and told everyone that they had adopted me.”
“So, you don’t know your real family then?”
“That changes things then.”
Taria nodded. She let out a heavy sigh.“I guess I’m the girl then.”
“Yes. I think we need to speak to your parents.”
“You mean, I need to speak to my parents.”
Taria was scared. And she had every right to be. I didn’t know what she feared though. I hadn’t even explained to her everything about the queen. And I wasn't going too. We would travel back to the White Woods and Great Owl could tell her. He was wise. She would trust him and he would make everything clear.
Taria stood up. “I need to get home.”
“Think of a way to tell your parents. We need to speak to them.”
She frowned. “Must we?”
I nodded. “Yes. Taria this is important.”
She sighed. “Okay, I’ll try.”
Taria began to walk through the trees but she stopped. She turned around with a frown on her face.
“What is it?” I said.
“You never told me your name.”
I frowned. No. I hadn’t. “Oh. I’m Kara.”
Taria smiled softly. “Pleasure to meet you.” She turned and headed home.ns 188.8.131.52da2