Ashera: Chapter 14
A story by Writerial.
NOTE: It’s been a while since I’ve written a chapter of Ashera since I was working on Quest For A Cure for so long, but I’m back to working on it. Enjoy chapter 14!
Ashera’s entire body stiffened. A lump caught in her throat. This couldn’t be true...it just couldn’t be.
“That’s not true!” she said. “Bear is dead! He’s been dead for a while…”
“I promise you, he’s very much alive,” Jill said.
“He’s not! I saw-”
“You saw what? A staged death of that stupid horse?” Glenn asked. “He wanted you to find that. So you wouldn’t catch onto the fact that it was all him.”
“Even if he was alive,” she said slowly. “He’d never do those things. Bear is good! He’s one of the best people I’ve ever known. He would never torment innocent people like that.”
Jill shrugged. “Believe what you will.”
Glenn thought for a moment. “Actually, I have a picture of him in my bag. If you’d so kindly hand it over.”
Ashera raised an eyebrow at Ryan. He shrugged and tossed her a beat-up black satchel. She glanced inside to make sure there were no weapons, and handed it over to Glenn.
He didn’t have much wiggle room in the hands department, so he took the bag in his teeth and dumped all of its contents on the floor. He stretched and picked up a small piece of parchment. “That’s it,” he said.
Ashera crossed over to him and took the parchment in my hand. In the photo, there were lines and lines of people and Calidi. She spotted Glenn and Jill in the third row. But at the very front, a small Calidi by his side, was Strength of Bear. His face looked different-paler, thinner-and his hair was cut short. But it was unmistakably him.
“No,” Fox said, appearing behind me. “It can’t be…”
“But it is,” Jill said. “And if you don’t untie us soon, he’s going to kill us. So, can we please get a move-on?”
Ashera looked up at her face; her pitiful, arrogant face who had committed thousands of evil acts for the thrill of it. And light filled her. But it wasn’t the good light from before. The health, the laughter, the happiness. This light was hot, painful, and all-consuming. Ashera scowled, a new-found malice filling her eyes. “Oh, you don’t have to worry about him destroying you,” she said.
Later, when Ashera thought back on that event, she wouldn’t be able to remember what happened. She’d remember a headache and a blinding white light. Fox and Ryan would tell her that it was a massacre. That she ran wildly into the forest even after she had killed the scouts, in search of the Calidi who had ran away. That even though her light magic immediately cauterized the wounds her sword formed, that by the time she was finished, the bodies were unrecognizable.
When the anger in her died out, she fell to the ground in a heap of sobs. Her entire body shook and her face was numb from her emotions. “Why couldn’t he have just been dead?” she asked Fox as she lay there.
“You don’t actually wish he was dead, do you?”
“I had dealt with that. This…” she trailed off.
“It’s not that much worse,” Ryan said. Ashera looked up at him, wondering if he was really serious. “I mean at least he’s alive. You’ll get to see him again.”
“Yeah. Right before I have to kill him,” Ashera said. “Why’d he have to be evil? Why couldn’t he have died a hero? Like he wanted to?”
“Oh, Ashera,” Fox said, cradling Ashera’s head with her hands. She allowed herself to sob into Fox’s shoulder.
“I don’t get it, who says you have to kill him?” Ryan asked.
Ashera looked up at him, confused. “He’s-He’s evil,” she said.
“You said yourself that he was a good person,” Ryan shrugged. “There’s things-spells, magic items-that can corrupt people. Change who they are. This whole ‘Alpha’ business sounds like one of those.” Ryan shrugged. “Usually, there’s ways to remove such effects so they no longer control their victim.”
Fox said, “So you’re saying if we found a way to remove the Alpha’s power from Bear-”
“He’d be himself again,” Ryan said. “No more killing, no more evilness, no more kidnapping small children....Are you okay Ashera? Why are you looking at me like that?”
Ashera jumped to her feet and threw her arms around Ryan. “You’re a genius!” she said.
“Oh, um, thanks,” Ryan said, blushing. He cleared his throat loudly. “I think we should head to Cambridge and do some research on what can remove effects like these. Shall I go pack up our stuff?”
“Yes,” Ashera said. “I’ll come with you.”
“Hold on just a moment, Ashera,” Fox said, a warning in her voice. “I’d like to speak with you. You can go along, Ryan.”
“Uh, okay?” He raised an eyebrow. “Let me know if you need anything.”
Ashera watched Ryan disappear towards camp, then turned to Fox, who was scowling at her. “What?” she asked.
“What are you doing?”
“What do you mean?”
Fox sighed loudly. “Don’t you see what you’re doing to Ryan? How excited he gets when he’s around you? And what about that time you kissed, does that mean nothing to you?”
“I don’t understand.”
“Ryan’s in love with you-”
“No he isn’t.”
“Oh really?” Fox raised an eyebrow.
“Of course not, he can’t be,” Ashera said.
“Yes he is!” Fox said. “Are you completely blind or just stupid?
“Hey!” Ashera said. “Listen, Ryan isn’t in love with me. He just can’t be!”
“You tell yourself that,” Fox sighed.
“Whatever. Is this all you wanted to talk to me about?”
“Okay, then I’ll be heading back to camp where I’ll actually be useful,” Ashera said, rolling her eyes. She heard Fox sigh loudly as she walked back towards camp.
“Hey Ashera,” Ryan said, looking up from the shelter he was tearing down. “Uh, what did Fox talk to you about?”
“Nothing important,” she shrugged. “I wanted to thank you for how understanding you’ve been about all of this.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, we swept you up from your home and made you come on a really dangerous quest with us where you’ve almost died multiple times and you’re still sticking with us, even when there’s nothing in it for you.”
“Oh, it’s really no problem. I’ve loved being out here,” Ryan said. He grinned, “And you’re wrong about that last part.”
“There is something in it for me.”
“I got to meet you,” he smiled. Ashera felt her face go red. “Listen, Ashera, I’ve felt this way about you for a while now. You’re the first person who I can really be myself around, who I can talk to, who I love.”
“Oh shit Fox was right,” Ashera murmured.
“Oh, uh, I said ‘the way you feel is right’,” Ashera said. “Because I love you too.”
“Really,” Ashera said.
“Oh my gosh you have no idea how happy it makes me to hear you say that,” Ryan said.
“Good,” Ashera said. They stared at each other for a moment. “So, uh, are you gonna kiss me or…?”
“Oh, right!” Ryan said. He leaned in and touched his lips to hers, softly at first, but quickly gaining speed and power. And they kissed and they kissed and they kissed and they-
“Ahem,” Fox cleared her throat, appearing behind them. They both whirled around, faces red. “Are you done sucking on each other’s faces now or should I go back into the woods?”
“Oh, uh, right,” Ryan said, swinging a pack over his shoulder. “Let’s head to Cambridge.”
Ashera waited until he was out of earshot, then she looked at Fox biting her lip. Fox crossed her arms. “Okay, so maybe you were a little right about Ryan.”
“No duh,” Fox said, shaking her head. “C’mon, let’s go.”
Previous chapter here!
Next chapter here!
Leave a Reply.