Inheritance: Part Eight
For a moment, Mabelle’s whole self was taken up in flames, her mind entranced by what she saw before her. It was a few heartbeats before she realized that Anhan and her aunt and uncle weren’t paying attention to her. She was free, and not bound up in the gypsy’s magic. She kept her gaze on them as she quietly stood up, and cautiously started to back away.
Then she bolted.
The fire had to come from her companions, or at least some of the other pets whose sympathies did not lie with their master. She had no idea where they were, but she had to find them. She didn’t think about whether or not it would be smarter just to run off to stay out of her family’s clutches. She couldn’t have done anything they had accomplished without either of them.
Her limbs froze again, and she jerked to a stop. A low chuckle came from behind her.
“You should really pay more attention to everything, sweety,” purred Anhan, slowly sauntering into her field of vision. “Half of my people would have escaped by now had I not possessed the ability to control them everywhere they go. Just a little blood works wonders when it comes to spellwork.”
Mabelle tried to speak, but the most that could come out of her was a loud grunt.
“You know, I have half a mind to keep you here,” mused the Zafara out loud. “You did run away, therefore making your inheritance null and void, so your ‘aunt and uncle’ won’t have to worry about killing you, and you are fairly quiet. Plus there’s all the training you’ve had at the hands of your family as well, with washing and cleaning.”
The Zafara prattled on, sure in her ability to keep the Ixi where she stood. She flung her hands up in the air, gloating, and Mabelle could almost sense when she was so drawn up in her own plans that she couldn’t notice anything else. She didn’t spot the Kougra behind her, crouched low to the ground with a dagger in his hand. His face was serious, eyes glinting with desperation and anger. Francois hid and waited, and as soon as she turned her back to him, he darted forward and plunged a knife into her back.
The glow fled immediately, causing Mabelle to stumble forward with the sudden release. Anhan let out a great cry of anguish, and slumped to the ground. She lay down, too still for her to be living.
Francois straightened up, breathing deeply. Relief etched his features, and he gave a grim smile toward Mabelle’s direction, who was staring with wide eyes. “She had this coming for a long time. Don’t feel bad for her.”
After giving his final words, he gave the Ixi a military salute and ran past her, disappearing past the corner of a wagon. She released the breath she had been unconsciously holding. Somehow this action had only further served to solidify the Zafara’s monologue about her servants. After shaking her head, she shot off in the opposite direction.
The flames had spread surprisingly fast, latching onto everything even remotely flammable in the camp. By now the air was thick with smoke, and an orange light settled over everything. Pets were running around all over the place, and a few seconds couldn’t pass by without somebody shouting out for something or crying with shock and pain. The chaos made her mind swirl, and it wasn’t long before she couldn’t tell where she was heading.
“Theo?” she said, projecting her voice. “Borano?”
At first there was silence, as relative as the term was at the moment, and then...
A big figure plodded toward her, and soon she realized it was the Ambassador, his cheeks puffing with exertion.
“Where’s Theo?” she asked, straining to be heard as something nearby exploded.
“The wagon over that way!” he said, pointing to the north, where the first explosion had been. “It’s where they hold all the grain and foodstuffs!”
She nodded, but as they started to run once again, her uncle seemed to appear from nowhere, a sword in hand. He raised it up as he came closer, but then the Kyrii stopped him, managing to grab his arms with both hands. Struggling to keep the blade away, he turned his face to Mabelle, and she nodded, his meaning clear. She took off, ducking between two tents.
As she ran, images flashed into her head. Images of when she was little, and she and Theo were pretending to battle in the back yard with wooden swords. She couldn’t seem to get rid of them, and they only made her panic level rise. She stumbled as she closed in on the food wagon, which was barely a pile of rubble as flames danced merrily away on top of it.
Her heart nearly stopped when she saw a form collapsed on the ground. Theo.
In a flash she knelt by his side, her hands hovering over his body for a moment before grabbing his shoulder. She strained, pulling him over, and his head rolled, eyes closed. His clothes were singed, and there were holes where some of the embers had fallen on the fabric. Overall he was uninjured, however, and she was ecstatic to find that he was still breathing.
“Theo,” she said, patting his face. “Theo, wake up! Theo, please! I can’t carry you out of here!”
His eyes fluttered, and a groan escaped his lips. A quick smile flew across Mabelle’s face, but then large piece of wood fell just a few feet from where they were, close enough that some of the heat washed over them, making her eyes water, both of them to cough. That startled the Lupe enough that his eyes flew open.
“Mabelle?” he asked, picking himself up with a wince. He held out his hand and helped her to stand.
Something creaked from somewhere higher than where they stood, and Theo looked up. A beam from the ruins of a wagon was hanging right above them, charred and blackened. Before she had a chance to think, a great snapping noise erupted. That was when the beam fell with a thud, and everything went dark.
A couple of elderly pets strode down the stone corridors of Meridell Castle, their movements slow and sure. They were talking excitedly, their thirst for gossip not dimmed by their old age. If one could only listen to them, and didn’t know who they were, they would simply think that it was a couple of young girls gabbing over the latest scandal or interesting news. A Xweetok in his late teens paused, catching sight of them, and bowed, setting them off in giggles before he resumed his business.
“So did you hear about the Daviau girl?” asked the white Gelert once they got over the majority of their laughter.
Her partner, a brown Cybunny with drooping whiskers, giggled a little bit more, and said, “Yes! I didn’t hear any of the specifics, though!”
“Margaret told me she’d been sent to live with murderers!” said the Gelert loftily, proud to impart such knowledge of substance. Her cohort gasped, and she continued. “It’s said that she ran off when she found out, and wound up in a gypsy camp.”
“I know. It’s amazing, right? Well, the murderers found her, and it ended up that somebody set fire to something, and most of those bad guys died. The last is in prison right now. An Eyrie, I heard. Anyway, the fire got out of control, and something happened to her, and the others who were with her. It was Ambassador Borano and his protégée, too!”
“How exciting! Are they alright?”
“The Ambassador is fine. He only got a gash to the forearm. King Skarl is awarding him later today for his bravery. As for the others... my source was unclear.”
“Oh my. I hope they’re fine!”
“Me, too.” The Gelert nodded sagely.
The throne room was buzzing with chatter as they waited for the ceremony to begin. All of them had heard tales of what had happened near Dewberry, and each one was eager to interrogate the ambassador for details. Light, happy music played in the background, and a few were eagerly sampling the delicacies being carried around. King Skarl rested in his throne with his bad posture as usual, looking half asleep, but a general feel of excitement permeated every surface in the room.
The chatter was drowned by a sudden blasting of trumpets, and everybody turned toward the double doors, some craning their heads to get a good view. There were some indignant noises as a few were pushed. Lisha snorted as she glanced at the impassive face of her neighbor, a shadow Gelert.
Everything grew silent as the doors slid open, and three figures walked through. One was the ambassador, his fur trimmed and styled to perfection, the second being a shadow Lupe, who was incredibly dashing in his tailored suit, and the third was a tiny little Ixi in a blue gown, dwarfed by the two standing on either side.
Nobody uttered a word as the King stood up, and addressed them. He spoke to each, listing off how brave he thought each one was in their own way, and handed them medals—a necklace for the girl, even though she wore a red gem around her neck. Peace and happiness enveloped the room, and all applauded as the Kyrii and Lupe left the stage.
The Ixi stayed still, smiling at the crowd, and opened her mouth to sing.
Mabelle Daviau had finally gotten the performance stolen from her so long ago.
Author's Note:Inspired by jokerhahaazzz, and I did have her permission to have Lockwood in here. Thanks also to my brother, hobbescalvin2000 for the use of Borano's name, and for all of the people who reviewed and supported me in this story. :D