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Amy ´the Ames´ Perkins

"The Strength of Cassion 5-8" by Amy ´the Ames´ Perkins

SciFi/Fantasy text 2 out of 15 by Amy ´the Ames´ Perkins.      ←Previous - Next→
 
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Just an update....I'm completely starting over on this one. Ideas have been tossed around and the mechanics of the plot have been altered. So this version is making fast friends with the recycle bin. I'm leaving it up currently so if you want to read it, I'd be looking for comments in regard to the plot, not necessarily grammatical errors. Comments as to the necessity of certain sections are welcome. Please, be harsh, I promise my ego can take it, but Tara might take offense

In short, the maturity of this piece is below my writing level currently and I cringe every time I read it.

Crits of myself:

Denali is too immature, he needs more character development
The narration is weak and filled with unnecessary details when I could be dealing with plot
Adrian needs to pwn some a.... I mean, make an appearance, maybe
The dialogue is weak

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←- The Strength of Cassion 1-4 | Strength of Cassion Alternate Ending -→

Chapter 5

            The fairgrounds were loud and noisy.  People from all over Cassion were gathered at the main arena where 10 riders were showing off their best skills and talents.  Tara was in the ring with those riders.  Denali’s foster-father had loaned her a sorrel mare for the early stages of competition.  With the right rider the mare could go to the finals as Denali had done so earlier.  The original group of riders had totaled 100 but as competition went on, riders were continually eliminated from the ring.  

            “Rider number 24, please leave the arena” Denali looked to Tara and saw it wasn’t her.  Instead it was one of his best friends Kiven.  He’d wanted to go with the group for so long but just did not have enough skill to progress farther than the semi-finals each year.  Denali turned his attention back to Tara riding the mare.  She was doing so well.  It took special talent to ride that particular horse.  The mare had trusted her right away.  It had taken Denali over a year to win the mare’s confidence.  Denali had no idea how Tara connected with the mare so quickly.  

“Hello Denali.” said a singsong voice as someone’s hands covered his eyes.  He groaned.  Of all the people to come and talk with him he least desired Emalia.  They had been friends when they were younger but soon Emalia discovered men.  She began to change and dress like young women with the latest fashions showing off what little chest she had.  Gone were the days when they would climb trees and sneak around the town getting into mischief.  Now all Emalia concerned herself with was attracting attention.  Denali had to admit; she wasn’t ugly, or pretty but fair.  He just wished sometimes that she hadn’t changed.

“You know Denali, I heard there was an animal in the temple last night.  Isn’t that amusing!  Denali looked at Emalia, shading his face with his hand.  Without realizing it he began comparing her to Tara and so far, Tara was the better of the two.  Stop it Denali!  You’re just here to watch the Festival.

“Oh Denali, isn’t Kamal just wonderful!  He’s rider number 31 on the bay.  I really hope he wins.”  As Denali turned his gaze toward Kamal the announcer asked him to leave the ring.

“I guess he’s not good enough.”  Emalia sounded downcast.  Denali guessed that Kamal had been the center of her attentions for a while and now he just didn’t meet the standards.  Apparently frustrated by Denali’s lack of conversation, Emalia left to find some of the other girls who were flirting with Tino, the baker’s son.

            Denali returned to watching the riding.  Gradually the number of riders dwindled to four.  Tara was among those four and while the other three were getting nervous she looked indifferent and calm.  The announcer came into the ring and stood between the riders and the crowd so both groups could hear him.

            “We will now be bringing in the yearlings.  One yearling will be assigned to each one of you and you will have one hour to saddle and bridle the horse.  Good Luck.” 

 

Tara stared at the announcers back as he left the arena.  The reason she looked so calm was from the concentration she was giving to talking with the sorrel mare.  The mare was very gossipy and knew much information about the goings-on in Cassion.  Tara found mares invaluable sources of information.  Unfortunately, what she usually wanted came mixed in with barn gossip.  There was, apparently, a flirtatious filly that was making the rounds with some of the stallions and all of the older mares disapproved.  However, this filly had escaped from the pasture one day and found the four yearlings hidden away in the woods.  According to the filly, one yearling seemed very different. 

            Her opportunity to learn a little more and gain an edge on the competition was waylaid when she was asked to dismount and prepare for the yearlings.   Denali came out to take the mare. 

            “You looked great out there, Tara.  I’ve never seen the sorrel take to anyone so quickly.  Please be careful now.  Some people have been seriously hurt in the final stages.”  Tara nodded in reply.  She wanted to speak as little as possible.  Though she could disguise her appearance readily enough, her voice was another matter entirely.  The less people suspected her, the easier it would be to move around and attract little to no attention.  Tara dismounted smoothly from the mare and gave her a pat before handing the reins off to Denali.  The mare was still going on about the flirtatious filly and Tara’s thoughts were absorbed with the conversation.  She was so focused that Denali had to shake her to get her attention.

            Tara, they’re calling you to get the yearling assigned to you.  Please focus, you need to win.”  Tara walked over to where the yearlings were being held.

            “The bay in the far corner of the paddock is your assigned horse.  Good Luck rider 100.”

            Tara looked over to the corner the announcer had pointed out.  She almost laughed out loud.  Her ‘yearling’ bay was no more than her own horse Mer du Cheval.  She could see why they considered him untamable too.  He had been brought to her as a foal and only she could touch and handle him.  Even Clyde, as she liked to call him, was sometimes fussy when she was riding him.  Tara’s spirits were raised considerably.  Her challenge of winning the festival had just become very easy.   She put her fingers to her mouth and gave a loud, sharp whistle.  All four yearling’s heads snapped up to look at her.  They all began to move toward her.  Tara had a knack for getting a horse’s attention and when she did get it, she made sure that they would not be distracted.  The other three competitors, along with the entire audience, watched in disbelief as Tara calmly took a halter from the fence, walked up to Clyde, and easily haltered him.  He offered no protest and nuzzled her happily. 

Clyde projected feelings of joy and then worry and then joy again.  Tara’s success in communicating with him lay in their mental connection.  He understood her thoughts and she could interpret his emotions as actual words.

            -I know Clyde.  I need you now to protest a teensy bit for me.-  Clyde reared up a little and shook his head.  Tara patted his neck and whispered, “good boy,” she then began muttering sweet nothings for the benefit of the audience.  To Clyde, she was instead instructing him how to behave.

            -I am in a competition to go on a long trip with many other horses and a boy.  You remember Adrian don’t you?  Yes, well this is his brother.  I need you to protest and throw a fit when I ride you but calm down after about five minutes.  After that you must be on your best behavior and do exactly as I instruct.  If you don’t follow my instructions we will not be able to remain together and I will have failed.  Do you understand Clyde?  No horseplay and none of your sarcastic wit.-  Clyde nodded in affirmative and gave her the warmest feeling of love he could.  –I know you love me Clyde.  Just do what I want.  Thank you my friend.-  

            Her conversation with Clyde a success, Tara led him toward the gate, the perfect picture of obedience.  Meanwhile, the other competitors were having much worse luck.  Their yearlings wanted to be with Tara but she had ignored them and they were now misbehaving.  Events were going exactly as Tara had planned.

 

Chapter 6

 

About three hours later

            Tara stood in the winners ring with Denali and Clyde.  She was proud but not surprised.  The competition had been a breeze.  Clyde had done exactly what she wanted and the other yearlings had, simply, not.  Tara was chosen as the thirteenth and final rider for the group.  They had one day to prepare to leave.  Leaving was not a problem, at least for Tara, but she also wanted to say good-bye to someone too.  Tara waited impatiently for the awards ceremony to be over.  The festival chairperson was giving long speeches that were infinitely boring.  Denali was beaming with happiness that she had won.  Tara merely looked tolerant of the situation.

            “We would like to congratulate Mr. Tark on his achievement in this competition.  Now Mr. Tark, we are offering you something that has never before been done.  We are offering you any prize of your choice.  What would you wish?”  Tara looked up to the announcer.

            “Sir I would like something but I do not believe you will give it to me.”

            “Oh, nonsense.  What is it?”

            “I would like the yearling I was assigned in the festival.  We have developed a very close bond.”  The announcer looked indecisive and leaned back to discuss the matter with the rest of the committee.  Every now and then one of the men would glance back at her and then go back to the conversation.  Tara waited patiently with a small, knowing smile on her face.  Come on my friends of the council.  I shouldn’t need to give you that much of a mental push.  Denali glanced at her amazed that she had asked such a request.  He then noticed that the indecisive murmuring of the council had ceased.

            The chairperson stood up.  “We have decided to honor Mr. Tarks request and will give him the bay yearling.  I personally doubt any other person could ride him as well as you.  The council has ruled that the herd escort will leave tomorrow morning at sunrise.  We suggest the mounted escort sleep tonight and sleep well. Other people in the village will prepare the horses for you.  The council has spoken.”

            Later that evening, as dusk fell on the land and objects acquired an indistinct quality, a young, female figure led a horse off into the gloom of the Ryitwas Forest.  The trees seemed to open for her and then closed off the path obliterating all signs of her passing.  Tara sat easily on Clyde’s bare back and let him pick his path through the woods and rocky trail.  He knew where she wanted to go and needed no direction.  He came to a stop in front of a thick wall of ivy covering what seemed to be a cliff face.  Tara embraced the pool of radiance that continually beckoned to her and directed threads of air to gently lift the vines.  Without hesitating, Clyde began walking forward and through the cliff face.  The rock seemed to ripple as Tara and Clyde passed through.  As they disappeared into the rock, the vines fell back in place as if only a breeze had shifted them.  

            Inside the hidden cave, Tara jumped lightly to the floor.  She gave Clyde a pat on the neck and looked up to find Carrick standing in the doorway to another room in the cave.  He turned as soon as she had seen him and walked into the next room.  Tara followed him silently.  The adjoining room was furnished comfortably with rugs hanging on the walls and on the floors to hide the bare rock of the cave.  The majority of the rugs were handmade by Carrick himself but some were otherworldly imports that Tara had given him 15 years ago.  In the center of the room was a low table with pillows placed around.  Carrick seated himself on one of the pillows in front of the tea set.  Tara sat down opposite him and breathed deeply.  The room smelled faintly of lavender and sage and was relaxing to the mind.  Tara was transported back 15 years before when she and Adrian had made the same journey to Carrick.

Tara!  Come this way!  Carrick is over here!”  Adrian’s face glistened from the exertion it took to reach the cave entrance.  “You’ll love Carrick.  He’s such a great father!  Carrick, it’s Tara, she’s finally come!”

Tara smiled at Adrian’s enthusiasm.  She reached up, took his outstretched hand and climbed over the final boulder to reach the entrance.  Sweetly scented smoke drifted out of the opening in the rock, moving around the robed figure waiting impatiently just inside the cave.  Tara walked toward the figure that moved out to greet her.

“Welcome most honored of the Anicham Xesued.  I have waited many years for your coming.  Come inside, tea is on.  Would you care for cream or sugar or both?  My name is Carrick, this is my wife Ina and son Adrian.”  Tara was introduced to a smiling, pregnant woman.  She guided Tara toward the table where a tea set was laid out.

“Thank you for your kindness.  This visit is such a pleasurable way to begin my visit here.”

  Unfortunately, her visit this time was far from pleasurable.

            “It’s him isn’t it?”  Carrick looked up from the tea to look at Tara.  She returned the blank look with a level stare.  “Don’t play games with me Carrick, I read the letter and it’s changed from the last time.”

            “Would you like cream or sugar or both?”  Carrick acted as if he had not heard the question.  He turned back to the teapot and busied himself with pouring the tea and distributing cream and sugar.

            “Please Carrick, I need to know.  I don’t know if I’ll be able to do what I have to without knowing.”

            “I know no more than you. If anything, you should know the most.  Except…”  Carrick paused with a doubtful note.

            “Except what Carrick?”  Tara made her voice hard and cold.

            “I have seen, no, don’t interrupt me girl, I have seen black clouds and a storm brewing in the west.  It is no storm I have ever seen except before, when you left with Adrian.  It’s not a weather storm but more a magic storm.  There is something going on with Kaie and his apprentice that I am worried about.”  Carrick ended but Tara felt as though he had purposefully concealed information.

            “What did you tell Denali?  He didn’t act like someone who would just give up his life to go on a dangerous adventure.  What does he know?”  Carrick sighed. 

            “I told him what I had to get him to accept the responsibility.  About his family and all that.  He got a bit upset upon learning about his mother.”  Carrick avoided her eyes.

            “Did you tell him about his father, Carrick?  That he still has family on this God-forsaken world?  Did you just happen to mention that you’re his father and his older brother’s whereabouts are currently unknown because he went off on a very similar wild adventure?”

            “Don’t say that so loud!  I didn’t tell him that.  I couldn’t.”  Carrick glanced nervously about.

            “No one can hear us here.  It’s not like we’re in a tavern common room.  It’s just you, me, and the Dryads from the forest.  I believe we are quite safe so I ask again, is it him?”

            “Is who what?”

            Dammit Carrick!  Do I have to spell it out for you?  Is Adrian Kaie’s new apprentice?”

            “Is that what you were worried about?  That Adrian failed because of a mistake you made together?”  Tara’s shoulder’s slumped down in exhaustion.

            “I won’t be able to sleep soundly until I know for sure.  I keep thinking back to the day he I parted.  There must have been something I could have done.  To change things.  Though I hate to think of things this way, it would honestly be much easier to deal with Kaie if Adrian died 15 years ago in that room.  I don’t what I’ll do if it’s Adrian that’s become the apprentice.  I just wish I knew.  You know, I called up Kaniel to have him look at the Pattern but for some reason, access is denied to everyone from 15 years ago to the present.  The building with the loom in it will not unlock for anyone, even myself and I have highest security access.  It seems that a disguise spell has been placed on time from when I left.  We know nothing except what happened before I left.”

            “I honestly couldn’t tell you anything Tara.  You really do know more than I at this point.  All Denali knows is that he has a brother and that the weight of the world has been placed on his shoulders.  I had really hoped we could have tea in peace and talk of happier things.”

            “Thank you for your honesty and the offer of tea but I really must decline Carrick.  The herd travels with the sun.  I need sleep.  I hope that next time we meet, the world will be a better place.” 

            Carrick watched Tara ride off into the forest, as midnight fell, bringing blackness to his eyes and mind.  However, the night seemed like day compared to the dark cloud on the horizon, Tara and Denali’s destination.  Carrick whispered a phrase not even the Dryads could hear.

            “May you find peace, sweet Queen, when troubles are past and evil forgotten and may this perilous journey find you safe at home with those you love.

 

Chapter 7

 

            “I think this is as far as I’ve ever been from Cassion.  No, wait a minute, maybe it was at the last brook.  No, maybe not, I remember that twisted tree up there.  Oh, wait, was that a mile marker?  No I really haven’t been out this far, we must have traveled far quicker than I …”

            “Will you please be quiet Denali?  Everyone in the party is getting a little strung out with your babbling.”  That was Derk, one of the leaders of the herders.  The escort had only been traveling one day, it was nearing nightfall and the scouts were up ahead looking for the first campsite.  The herd of horses raised a dust cloud high into the sky and all of the riders wore cotton cloths around their mouths and noses to keep out the dirt.  Tara and Denali had been assigned to either side of the herd to keep the horses from wandering.  Denali had not had a chance to talk to Tara since the Festival.  She had left immediately afterward for the woods and had come home shortly after midnight.  In the morning she got up on her own to prepare for the journey.  Denali desperately wanted to talk to her.  He hoped he’d get the chance soon enough at the camp.

            “You, boy,” Derk called to Tara, “ride on ahead to the ridge to scope out the terrain.  We camp here.”  Tara nodded and kicked her horse into a gallop and quickly disappeared out of view.  Denali was left to help set up the camp for the night.

            Clyde quickly picked his way up the steep hillside, pausing every now and then to receive directions from Tara.  When they reached the top, Tara dismounted and dropped the reins.  She scanned the grassland below, noting how the terrain swiftly changed from rolling grassland to stark desert.  The path they were on now took them into that desert.  To the south, Tara could see the distant ocean, unknown to most of the world’s inhabitants.  The grassland continued northward, ending only when it reached the base of the mountains that laterally encircled the world.  Cassion lay behind her in the east but west was her destination.  Knowing she was alone, Tara removed a pair of binoculars and began scanning the western horizon.  As she focused in on where the sun was setting, Tara began to see dark clouds.  They were blacker than night and seemed to be swiftly moving yet remaining in place.  The rest of the sky was cloudless and on the eastern horizon, stars were beginning to appear.  Having confirmed her suspicions, Tara put away her binoculars, remounted Clyde and rode back to the camp.

            As soon as Denali saw Tara finishing making her report to Derk after returning to the camp he raced towards her and dragged her into the tent they were to share.

            Tara I want to talk with you.”

            “Are you out of your mind Denali?  Do not call me Tara until I say you can.  These people think I'm Tark, not Tara.  I’m male, not female.  If they discovered that then it’s all over and we have to make our way across the desert without the protection of the herd laws.  If we can reach the town of Byron safely with the company then that’s when we break away and travel on our own.  Do you understand why you can’t call me Tara until we break away?”

            “Yes, Tara, but where are we going after Byron?”  Denali was thoroughly chastised but still felt the need to obtain information.

            “We go west after Byron.”

            “Do you think it will storm tomorrow?”

            “Why do you ask that Denali?  There are no storm clouds on the horizon.”  Tara looked at him quizzically.

            “Yes there are, far away on the horizon.  I just noticed them once we rounded that last bend.  The horizon should be slightly bumpy from the mountains in the west but instead it was flat.  The flatness must result from a storm brewing in the west.”  Tara smiled at Denali, who wondered why she didn’t see them as well.

            “Good job Denali, I didn’t think you would see them.  There is a storm brewing in the west but not the kind of storm you’re thinking of.  The black clouds will remain in place, they won’t move like most weather.”

            “But all weather moves from west to east.”  Denali was again confused, Tara pretended to be dumb and then seemed to know more than he did and with extra information besides.

            “The storm you see is not a weather storm.  It’s a magic storm.  There is a very powerful wizard in the west gathering together as much power as he possibly can. That same wizard is the one we need to defeat.”  Denali looked at her hopelessly.

            “That wizard is Kaie, isn’t he?  The one we have to defeat, right?  If he has that much power, how will we ever win?”  Tara sat down across from him in the tent. 

            “First, there are a few things you have to realize.  Different signs in nature let us know what kind of magic a wizard or any creature is using.  Usually, black storm clouds indicate destructive magic is being gathered only to be unleashed.  Hence the name, Dark Magic or Black Magic as some cultures call it.  Clear skies or white puffy clouds mean pure or good magic.    Wait; let me continue, weather is part of magic.  Nature itself is magic.  Your world is magic Denali so the weather can show magic.  You’ll notice that you have had clear skies over Cassion ever since I arrived, correct?  My magic is good, it’s pure, and therefore we have the clear, blue sky.  Weather results from the two types of magic, good and bad, in nature interacting.   Opposites attract, correct?  We’ll use lightening as an example.  One culture defined lightening as an electrical discharge that results when the clouds have one charge and the ground has the opposite, positive and negative, or, good and bad.    Nature always prefers balance so positive ions, or bad magic, leaps to the ground to balance out the charges.  This causes the lightening.”   Tara stopped talking.

            “What do you mean with words like ions and eelektreekal and charge?”  Denali hated being confused, especially when Tara used words he didn’t know.

            “Don’t worry about that.  Do you understand how nature has magic?”

            “Well, yes, sort of.”

            “Good.  Let’s get some sleep.”  Tara pulled a blanket over her and blew out the lantern that was lighting the tent.

            Tara, what did you mean by piece of cake, cross that bridge and that other thing?”  Denali was still curious.

            “Go to sleep Denali.”

            “How could you have been here 15 years ago and still look like you’re under twenty years of age?”

            DENALI!  Shut up now!  If you don’t, I will bind your mouth shut with magic.  Good night.”

 

Chapter 8

 

            The next two days passed uneventfully. The usual problems resulting from horses straying from the herd were prevented by Tara keeping a close mind’s eye on the thoughts of the herd.  If one began to think of wandering off to find a shady grazing spot, Tara persuaded them to remain with the rest of the horses.  So it was without mishap that the thirteen riders and the herd arrived in Byron midmorning five days after the festival.  Before the riders entered the town, the horses were enclosed in a permanent field held just for the Cassion stock.  The horses used for riding were taken in the town and stabled at the inn.

            “Okay men, be back at the inn before midnight but you have the rest of the day on your own.”  Derk looked around at the company from Cassion.  “I don’t want to hear about anyone getting into trouble with the local law.  Denali, stay with your cousin, your mother was worried you especially might get into trouble.”  Denali nodded in agreement as did Tara.  Tara motioned for Denali to wait until the rest of the men had gone off by themselves.

            Denali, now is the time we separate from the men from Cassion.  I want you to take these coins and buy supplies for our journey.  We need enough food to last us for about a week until we reach the next town.  If anyone from Cassion sees you and questions your activities, you thought you needed food.  Understand?"  Denali nodded, understanding Tara’s need for secrecy.  “I’m going to find clothes for us.  I don’t want to be wearing male clothes at all after this town and it may help to disguise us from spies.

            “Oh, and one more thing.  If anyone tries to sell you something that is supposedly magical in nature, do NOT buy it.  It is most likely overpriced and not magical at all.  I have to make a few stops so you go buy supplies and two packing sacks so the horses can carry the supplies.  I’ll meet you back here in two hours, at noon.  If you end up in a tight spot I’ll know and come quickly, but still be safe.  Okay?”  Tara turned around and disappeared into the crowd and Denali was left all alone in a strange, foreign town.

            Suddenly the noise and din of the village became overpowering.  Everywhere Denali turned, there were people shouting, hawking their wares, arguing, and drinking.  The buildings seemed to tower above him.  The largest building in Cassion was the temple, nothing was allowed to be taller in deference to the goddess.

            Here, buildings competed for views of the sky and tallest height.  They leaned dangerously over the street, seeming to be ready to fall on the people down below.  Denali stared up unsteadily at these buildings, not sure if it was safe to be walking by them.  He started walking down the street, blindly looking for a place to buy food and other supplies.  Suddenly a hand grabbed him from the side of the street.

            “Please, young sir, can’t you spare a coin or two?”  Denali stared down at the dirtiest man he had ever seen.

            “Uh, no, I don’t have anything for you.”  Denali began backing away from the beggar and found himself locked in the grip of another man.

            “Aren’t you going to give alms to the poor, boy?”  Denali twisted around and looked up into the face of the scariest man he had ever seen.  His face was crisscrossed with scars and one of his arms looked like it had been burned badly.  Denali had seen only one other man who looked like him and that was the tanner Pilk Turner in Cassion.  Pilk had a large accident with his tanning vats and had almost died from his burns.  The sight still scared Denali.

            “N…. nuh, no, sir.  I don’t have enough.  Please, I need to go.”

            “Then what do you call this fat little purse here?”  The man reached down to Denali’s pocket and pulled out his small bag of coins that Tara had given him.  “I think this is a sufficient contribution to our cause, don’t you Oistin?”

            “The beggar grinned with a toothless smile.  “Oh yes, Ren, I believe that is what this young child must do.”  Ren ripped the deerskin bag from its ties and pushed Denali away.  Denali stared at him, not believing that a person could be mean enough to steal from another in such a public place.  Ren stared back.

            “What are you staring at now?  Go on, run, before I start ripping appendages off of your body.”  He contorted his face, scaring Denali who proceeded to flee in the direction in which he had come.

            “Whoa, there, kid.  Slow down.  What’s the matter?”  Denali shut his eyes, not wanting to see another scary person.

            “Please, that other man took all my money, I have nothing, please leave me alone.”  He cringed expecting the person to hit him or rough him up.

            Denali, it’s me, Tara.  I told you I’d come if you got in trouble.  What happened?”  Denali could only point back the way he had come.  Finally the words took shape in his mouth and he was able to tell Tara the events of the previous few minutes.

            “Did you say their names were Ren and Oistin?”  Denali nodded.  “It figures.  Stay out of this.  I need to deal with them on my own.  As a matter of fact, here’s some coppers.  Go into the inn where the horses are stabled and sit down, order something to eat and drink, and I’ll be back in about twenty minutes.  When I get back, have our horses ready to leave immediately.”  Denali walked to the door of the inn and paused, watching Tara stride off towards the two men.  Hoping the best for her, he went in and ordered a meal for he was very hungry.

 

*          *          *          *          *

 

            Tara strode purposefully down the street, her cloak billowing out behind her.  She was now wearing a linen dress with divided skirts for riding and her hair was back at its original length.  The thought occurred to her that skirts were not very good for striding purposefully but she dismissed it for other, more important thoughts.  It was no time at all before she located Ren and his associate Oistin.  She had dealt with them during her last visit and she dearly hoped they remembered her. 

            The scars and burns Denali had noticed on Ren were her doing.  He had been a highway robber fifteen years ago and had chased after her and Adrian in an attempt to steal their horses and money purses.  She had had a close knife fight with him on horseback, resulting in his facial scars and then, in a last resort, thrown a fireball at him.  Oistin was in the same role as ever, looking sorry for himself so travelers would take pity on him, stop to assist and then get attacked by Ren.  The beggar looked significantly worse this time and Tara assumed it was the landslide she had pulled down upon them.  They did not notice Tara as she approached busy as they were, counting the coin they had stolen from Denali.

            “Excuse me, but I believe that money belongs to a friend of mine.  I’d appreciate it if you’d give it back to me.”  Tara stood behind Ren’s back, but facing Oistin.  Oistin looked up from his money and a look of fear crossed his face.  His eyes remained locked on Tara’s face and his mouth started opening and closing like a fish out of water.  Ren did not turn around or look up from his coins.

            “Excuse me, but I believe you have it wrong missy.  That boy there had taken our money, we were just getting it back.”

            “I don’t think so.  If you still disagree, I’d be happy to give you matching burns on the other arm to go with what you’ve got already.”  This time Ren looked up at Oistin.  The beggar was now pointing at Tara and was hoarsely whispering.

            “It’s her, the girl, fifteen years, oh gods help us.  The girl, Ren it’s HER.”  His whispering turned into a wail.”  The large man turned around to stare at Tara.  An evil smile flickered across his face.

            “I see you haven’t changed that much, magic girl.”   He sneered at her, the act contorting his scars.

            “I see you have Ren.  I guess our little fight and then that landslide must have done a number on your below average looks.  Now they’re just plain failing.  If you’ll please, I’d like that money back.  If not, I may have to take some desperate measures.”  Tara waited, her hand outstretched, for Ren to give her the coins.

            “Not so fast, sugar.”  Ren grabbed her wrist and started twisting with the intent on breaking it.  Tara calmly let loose a small shock of electricity into his arm and added small stabs of fire as he let go.  She briefly inspected her wrist, no broken bones or sprains, and returned her attention to the matter at hand.  

            “If you didn’t like that Ren, you should hand over the purse now.  I really don’t want to create a scene.  It’s bad enough people are staring.”  It was true.  While people passing by may ignore a young boy being harassed, they were quick to notice a grown man hurting a woman, especially when that woman suddenly turned the tables.  “C’mon Ren, you don’t want your reputation being tarnished when a single, weak girl can beat two grown men up, though I really don’t think Oistin counts.  What do you say?”

            “No.  I don’t think you’d show off your magic here in the open.  Haven’t you heard?  The Wizard Kaie has forbidden the practice of magic by anyone except his followers.  I don’t think you’d follow him.  He has spies everywhere.  I’m not giving anything back.”  Ren smiled again. 

            Tara shrugged her shoulders.  “Fine, have it your way.  I really don’t care what anybody sees at this particular moment.”  She wrapped cords of air around the two grizzled men and lifted them up an inch off the ground while at the same time, removing the purse of money from Ren’s hand.  She then began administering flicks of a whip of air.  Wanting to leave before anyone noticed the unusual position the men were in, Tara tied off the magic strands allowing them thirty minutes before disintegration.  The whippings would go on for another hour before stopping but Tara did not want the men following her and Denali.  She walked in front of Ren’s face.

            “I would suggest that next time someone asks for something back, you give it to them.”  Ren spit defiantly into her face.  Tara paused and wiped the spit out of her eyes.

            “I’ll forget you did that Ren but just to be sure you understand me, you will not forget the pain for the rest of your life.  Anytime you lay eyes upon a person to take advantage of them; the lashings will come back and last for a day.  For each new incident, the lashing will last twice as long.  Have a nice day.”  Tara turned and walked the other way to the inn where she had left Denali.

            Once back at the inn Tara found Denali waiting anxiously for her.  He had followed her instructions and had their two horses ready to go in the stableyard. 

            “Where’d you go?  What happened?  Did you get the money back?”

            “Patience, Denali, is a virtue.  You will learn all answers eventually.  Are we ready to go?  Excellent.”  Tara mounted Clyde and turned him to leave the yard.  Denali followed suit.  She led Denali out into the streets and followed the road down to the west gate.  The road led, of course right past Ren and Oistin.

            “Tara,” Denali asked, “aren’t those the men who …”

            “Yes and if you know what’s good for you, do not look at them directly or give any sign that you met them earlier.  Keep your eyes on the other side of the road or straight ahead.  I don’t want the people here realizing that we were here earlier.”  Tara urged her horse into a trot and they quickly moved past the two struggling men.  A man and woman watched as they quickly rode out of town, just as they had watched how Tara had dealt with Ren and Oistin.  Fifteen minutes later, two carrier pigeons flew off toward the dark, stormy horizon.

 

←- The Strength of Cassion 1-4 | Strength of Cassion Alternate Ending -→

DateNameComment 
2 Jul 200645 Anonymous
i like the way you keep the story flowing, i think it was great the way Tara delt with the robbers. theres just a few nitpicks i saw

where it said 'Denali had to admit; she wasn’t ugly, or pretty but fair', it should be 'Denali had to admit; she wasn't ugly or pretty, but fair' but the describing words could be better.

also 'It is no storm I have ever seen except before, when you left with Adrian' maybe 'it is like no storm i have ever seen before, except when you left with Adrian', but that still doesn't flow right *sheepish smile*

'Your world is magic Denali so the weather can show magic' this sentance is all right but the word magic shouldn't be repeated, also there should be a commer after Denali

last nitpick, 'If you end up in a tight spot I’ll know and come quickly, but still be safe. Okay?' you're spreading the sentance out too far, it would be better if it was like this 'If you end up in a tight spot I’ll know and come quickly. But still, be safe. Okay? or ' If you end up in a tight spot I’ll know and come quickly. But still, be safe, okay?'

other than that the story is really great, keep up the good work
^.^)>

58 Amy ´the Ames´ Perkins replies: "Excellent, I shall incorporate the edits asap. Thanks for the critique!"
19 Jul 200645 Brian Rich
This is coming along nicely. I like the interaction between Tara and Denali - how she sometimes loses her patience with him as he isn't completely in the know about everything that is going on. I initially thought that he would grow into an unlikely hero but so far he seems to be more of a bumbling sidekick.

I know that there is this overall story element of having to face the dark one or this great evil but that currently seems to have taken a backseat to more mundane events such as the horse festival or Denali getting his money stolen. I'm not certain I've connected some of these events in my mind with the big picture yet. Nothing wrong with that because you don't want to give it all to us at once. There is much telling yet to be told with this story so I look forward to that gradual build to something climactic.

One thing that I think is really neat is how you have nature reflecting the magic of the world. For instance, the black clouds meaning dark magic is at work and white clouds denote good magic. Those unique ideas really make the story.

I've enjoyed what I've read so far. I should have time this weekend to come back and check out more.

52 Amy ´the Ames´ Perkins replies: "  He *will* become the hero. At this point in the story, he just hasn't matured much to appear that way. He's still very naive and ignorant and has no clue how to take the next step forward. In parts that I haven't posted yet, he does take the lead and grow up, essentially.

Thanks for the kind words and I look forward to seeing more comments!"
30 Sep 200645 Cecily
Um...If they weren't desperate and likely half-starved bandits they wouldn't be attempting a mugging in broad daylight...

:-) Amy ´the Ames´ Perkins replies: "...touche"
29 Dec 2006:-) Annie Harrington
"Denali had no idea how Tara connected with the mare so quickly."

Umm. . . Denali? Have you forgotten that Tara was a UNICORN just a couple days earlier? I'm guessing horses and unicorns might share some sort of empathy thing, you see. . . Hehe, Denali's cute. I just found that funny.
Ehhh, I'm thinking this whole thing is just going to be cut out unless I can figure out a better way to write the scenario... anyway ...

I have to agree with Beth above that the scene with Tara and Ren was pretty awesome. But I also like Oistin's name. I'm interested in the story behind the whole "landslide" thing. And I'm just wondering how they survived Tara's wrath the first time. (He he. No offense or anything, Tara.) Tara: I prefer not to kill people unless absolutely necessary and .. [defensive]
Amy: Tara... calm down

So, yeah. I like how it's going. Yayness!Well I'm glad! I'll try to keep the rewrite close enough to this version, although Denali's character has changed a bit, he's not so meek anymore.
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'The Strength of Cassion 5-8':
 • Created by: :-) Amy ´the Ames´ Perkins
 • Copyright: ©Amy ´the Ames´ Perkins. All rights reserved!

 • Keywords: Boy, Destiny, Evil, Girl, Horses, Journey, Magic, Quest, Wizard
 • Categories: Humourous or Cute Things, Magic and Sorcery, Spells, etc., Mythical Creatures & Assorted Monsters, Romance, Emotion, Love, Royalty, Kings, Princes, Princesses, etc, Wizards, Priests, Druids, Sorcerers...
 • Views: 735

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