Ashera: Chapter 25
“M’lady,” A guard said. “M’lady?”
“Leave me alone,” Ashera said. Thick, itchy gloves had been placed upon her hands and her abdomen had been tightly bandaged. She knew what came next, and she was not looking forward to it.
“M’lady, the Alpha requires you,” the guard said.
“Tell him to suck it.”
Ashera sighed and stood up gingerly, careful not to put too much pressure on her wound. She made her way to the door, where the guards grabbed her upper arms. “There’s really no fighting you guys off, is there?”
“Just a precaution, m’lady,” the guard said. “Are you feeling okay?”
“Yeah, I’m fine,” she said. “Take me to the Alpha.”
They led her through the tower-up twisting staircases and dark corridors-until they came to a large door made of dark wood. “The Alpha resides here,” the guard said. “We shall wait outside.”
Ashera nodded. The guards wouldn’t be too difficult to dispose of if things went wrong. She took a moment, steeling herself, and walked through the doors.
Ashera: Chapter 24
TW: Blood, gore, kidnapping
When Ashera came to consciousness, she was still laying on the stone floor of the dragon’s cavern. Blood was pooling around her, and she was unsure of how much of it was hers. Her stomach still felt incredibly sore, and she groaned in pain.
Within a few seconds, Ryan’s face appeared above hers. He rushed over to her, holding a glass vial filled with some blood red liquid. “Ashera! Thank god it worked. How are you feeling?”
“I’m alive,” she grimaced. “What do you mean ‘it worked’? What worked?”
“You were-you were dying,” he said. “I didn’t know how I was going to save you but I had heard about potions that could heal and prevent death so I tried one and it worked and thank god it did because-”
Ashera: Chapter 23
TW: Blood, gore
Ashera looked up at the dragon standing before them. It was as white as the snow that fell outside of the cave, with two large, leathery wings adorning its back. It had an array of horns on its head, which looked like they formed a crown of marble. It had long claws on each of its feet, and its icy blue eyes stared down at the group with hate. It didn’t look surprised to see them; on the contrary, it looked prepared for an occasion such as this.
With a snarl, the dragon removed itself from the throne of treasure it had been seated upon. It made its way to the group, towering above them. It was only when Ashera drew her blade that it stopped its approach.
The dragon looked down at them, cool, calculating. In the deep, thundering voice that Ashera recognized from the puzzle room, the dragon spoke. “Ah, adventurers. It has been a long while since some made it this far.”
“Are you Rickshaw?” Ashera asked.
The dragon turned its head to her, tilting it slightly as it appraised the small figure that had spoken to it. “Yes,” it said. “It seems there are brains amongst you as well. This is good.” Rickshaw thought for a moment. “Sheathe your blade,” it said, and Ashera did so.
Ashera: Chapter 22
Ashera stood alone in one of the many hallways in the middle of the labyrinth, looking around at the stone walls surrounding her. Fox, Ryan, and Shadow had all been separated from her, and Ashera had no idea how she would be able to find them.
She quickly realized that this was the true test of the mountain. The hike, the riddle, the skeletons: all of them were merely building blocks leading up to this. She had to find the rest of her friends and, together, they had to find a way to defeat whatever was at the center of the maze.
It sounded so simple when she put it in words, but Ashera knew that it’d be a lot harder than it seemed, if the rest of this journey was any indication. The group completed each other; where one member was weak the rest were strong. They needed each other. Ashera didn’t have Fox’s brain or Ryan’s strength or Shadow’s ferocity; she just had herself, and she didn’t know if that would be enough. But it had to be.
Ashera tried not to think about all of the dangerous things that could be in this maze. She tried not to think about the certain death which was awaiting her. All that she knew was that she’d need everyone in their group in order to get out of here, so she would have to find them, which meant she had to get out of here.
Ashera: Chapter 21
After what seemed like an eternity of walking, snow, pain, torture, the group arrived at the peak of the mountain. They faced the mouth of a large cave, which towered over them.
“W-Well, th-there it-t is,” Ryan said, teeth still chattering. “Sh-Shall w-we?”
Ashera nodded and slowly, cautiously, the group continued into the cave.
As soon as they were completely inside of the entrance, her body started to feel as if it had been lit on fire. Ryan actually yelped in pain as the effect set in. “What’s happening?!”
“It’s the cold magic; it’s dissipating,” Fox said through gritted teeth. “Stay still.:
Ashera did, reminding herself that she had to be there for Saria, and eventually the feeling of her flesh being burned alive left her. She looked down at her hands, which were red and raw, but no longer frozen. Shadow licked her fingers, his tongue sending warmth further into her bones.
Ashera: Chapter 20
NOTE: I hate writing shivering so I apologize in advance.
Ashera woke up early the next morning and helped the group pack up camp. A fresh layer of snow had fallen over the night, and it now blanketed all of the ground, including the ashes from the previous night’s fire.
Ashera frowned at the rest of the group. The snow reminded her of the amulet around her neck. “It’ll get colder the further we go up. The magic cold is already coming through,” she said. “Stay close to me.”
They started the hike up the mountain. The further up they went, the colder it became. Fox and Ryan were both shivering uncontrollably, trying anything to keep warm. Even Shadow-who had been jumping around and cheerfully playing in the snow piles that banked the edges of the path-was now mellow; his fur felt like ice. They had taken extra blankets and tarps out of their packs to try to use for cover, but they provided no aid; the magic paid no attention to the layers they adorned. So, they went on, freezing.
“Ryan, one of you two should keep the amulet on. It doesn’t do anything for me that I can’t do myself; I have my magic to keep me warm.”
Ryan was shaking his head before she had finished talking. “K-Keep it. We n-need you alive m-more than ever.”
Ashera nodded. There were a few things that were pointless to argue with Ryan about, and her safety was one of them. “Thank you,” she said.
“Of c-course.” Ryan grinned through the cold and planted a frigid kiss on Ashera’s cheek. His lips cooled both her face and her heart as she remembered what Fox had told her last night.
“Ryan, I need to talk to you about something.”
Ashera: Chapter 19
For a moment, Ashera stood there, frozen, her eyes locked with the giant’s. She examined the monster, trembling with fear. The giant was at least 20 feet tall-she guessed it was much taller than that, though-with skin, hair, and even eyes that were the pale color of snow. She also noticed the huge club in his hand, which was now swinging towards her.
Ashera felt a nip at her ankles and she felt herself instinctively moving away from the giant. Shadow barked at her as they ran, urging her forward.
“Run Ashera!” Ryan’s voice came from a while away, into the falling snow.
“I’m trying!” Ashera called back. But, she was getting nowhere. The snow and ice covering the rough terrain made her slip and slide along, unable to speed up. The snow was falling heavily from the sky, obscuring her vision., In a few seconds, Ashera’s world was nothing but white and cole and the wind howling in her ears.
“Guys?” she called, her voice already too quiet for her liking. The necklace around her neck kept her core warm, but the cold still bit at any shred of exposed skin. “Guys?”
A black head, coated in white, appeared, jumping up from a pile of snow. Ashera grinned. “Shadow!”
The wolf, breathing heavily, planted a kiss on Ashera’s hand, warming it briefly. Ashera gripped the scruff of his neck with her hand and clung to him. He tugged her forward, leading her through the snow as well as he could. Ashera trusted him fully; she was completely blind and she knew that Shadow could use his hearing and smell to guide them through this storm better than she ever could.
Thud! Thud! Ashera heard footsteps approaching. They shook the ground, sending piles of snow plummeting off of trees. She stumbled forward, swearing under her breath. “Ryan?! Fox?!” Even as she called for them, she knew that they wouldn’t hear her. The storm was too big now; she could hardly hear herself.
Ashera looked around. She could see the silhouette of a giant approaching in the distance. “Well, Shadow, I guess it’s just you and me now.” She looked down to where Shadow stood by her side, but he wasn’t there. He must’ve disappeared into the snow.
The storm blocked her vision, the wind howled in her ears, and the snow had chilled her hands to numbness. She was completely and utterly blind, all of her senses were being stopped by the storm. She felt her hopes sink. How could you win a battle against something you couldn’t see?
Ashera Chapter 18
For a day or two of hiking, no one even spoke to Ashera. Neither Fox nor Ryan respected her decision of protecting Shadow, and she wasn’t willing to give him up. She couldn’t throw a harmless, defenseless creature out on its own, no matter how evil her companions suspected it to be.
There was another reason, too, that Ashera did not yet want to admit. Shadow was her tie to Bear. If this creature who was supposed to be evil beyond redemption could be a part of their team than maybe...no, she wasn’t going to think about that just yet.
Shadow and Ashera spent the first night huddled close together; Ryan and Fox were asleep in a different tent. Shadow looked up at her with those big, sad, smart red eyes.
“I know, boy,” Ashera said, ruffling the fur on his head. “They’ll come to their senses eventually.” She frowned, trying to convince herself of the words she was saying.
Shadow whined and licked the back of Ashera’s hand. She laughed and kissed his snout. She wouldn’t throw him out; no matter what Fox and Ryan said.
The next morning, while they continued their trek towards Rickshaw Mountains, Fox fell into step next to Ashera and Shadow, being cautious to keep her distance from the latter. Shadow gave a low warning growl as she approached.
Ashera: Chapter 17
NOTE: I’m still so unbelievably busy I’m so sorry I haven’t been able to upload as much but it’s all I can do to keep up with the WPW’s. Here’s chapter 17 of Ashera, I hope y’all enjoy it!
“-and let him always be with us. Amen,” the priest at the front of the church finished. He looked up at everyone. “Service dismissed. Remember to come to our dinner at my house this Wednesday.”
People began to file out of the church. Ryan glanced sideways at Ashera. “What do we do now?”
Ashera looked up at the front of the worship hall. The priest from before was talking to some women, smiling and laughing with them. “We should probably go up and ask if he knows where Quinn Kilo is.”
“More talking?” Fox groaned. Rolling her eyes, Ashera led her two companions to the front. They waited politely until the priest turned to face their group.
“Hello, welcome to our place of worship. I thought I saw some new faces out there. How can I help you all?”
“We’re looking for a priest called Quinn Kilo. We were told that they work here?”
“I am Quinn Kilo, although I prefer the title of Brother Kilo. How may I help you?”
“Oh, well, this is going to be kind of hard to explain,” Ashera started. “But Golivun is in great danger. A man called The Alpha is trying to find the Orb of Reality and we have to find it before he does. So we went to find Malic and ask-are you okay?”
At the mention of Malic, Kilo had stiffened. “Yes, yes, I’m fine. But I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you all to leave.”
“I have put that man and all of his business long behind me and it’s better if it stays that way.”
“I said for you to leave,” he said. “Now.”
Ashera wanted to say something else, but couldn’t. She sighed. Back to square one, and they were so close to having figured it out. Head down, she started making her way out of the church.
Ashera: Chapter 16
NOTE: I’m so sorry that I haven’t had time to upload a bunch of Ashera, I’ve been so so busy but my schedule is going to be getting less busy (hopefully) so I’ll have more time to write.
Ashera, Ryan, and Fox stood outside the jail, looking up at it in doubt.
“Do we really have to do this?” Fox asked. “I mean I’m sure there has to be another way to-”
“Come on,” Ashera said, grabbing Fox’s arm. She dragged her to the top of the steps leading up to the building. The stone was well-worn and it looked like it could fall apart at any moment. Ashera didn’t know how it held such evil, powerful people so securely. In fact, she didn’t understand how it hadn’t been destroyed long ago.
A guard stopped Ashera and Fox’s approach with her staff. “Name?” she asked.
“Ashera, Sneaky Fox, and Ryan Howe,” Ryan said, walking up behind them.
“We need to talk to Malic.”
“Maic is a high-security prisoner,” the guard said. “You’ll need written permission from the Captain of the Guard or some other authority figure of equal or higher rank to be permitted to see him.”
“What? No, please let us in,” Ashera said. “We’re on a mission. There’s this sorcerer that’s terrorizing Golivun and we think he’s after the Orb of Reality-”
“The Orb of Reality’s a myth. Hasn’t been seen in hundreds of years.”
“Maybe it is, but we need to talk to Malic,” Ashera said. “Please let us in. For the good of Golivun.”
The guard looked her up and down, then each of them in turn. “I’m sorry, I can’t help you. Talk to the Captain of the Guard.”
“We completely understand,” Fox said. “Thank you so much for all of your help.”
“We’ll be on our way now. Come on guys.”
Ashera squinted suspiciously at Fox. “What are you doing?” she mouthed. Fox waved the question away, grabbing Ashera and Ryan’s arms.
“Thank you so much!” she called over her shoulder as she dragged them away to the shade of a nearby tree.
“What the hell was that?!” Ryan asked Fox.
“Yeah! We need to get in there and that guard was the only way!” Ashera huffed and kicked a clump of dirt on the ground. “What were you thinking?”
“Oh calm down guys.”
“Calm down?!” Ryan exclaimed. “You just ruined everything! I am not going to calm down!”
“I didn’t ruin anything, you’re just being a bunch of babies. That guard is the only legal way in, sure, but-”
“What did you do Fox?”
Fox grinned slyly, reaching into her pocket and pulling out a ring of golden keys. “While you two were busy chatting, I did something actually useful.”
“Do you want to get in or not?” Ashera started to answer, then hesitated a moment. Fox’s grin got larger. “C’mon, let’s go talk to Malic.”