Chapter 6

Written by: dannyo77

Dilara watched one of the older women heft her shield over her shoulder. Despite the training and resolve, the effort was awkward. Dilara felt a pang of guilt at turning these peace loving folk into a sisterhood of war and revenge.

Suddenly Dilara noticed an aged woman she did not recognise standing among them. The woman looked at Dilara, then turned and slowly walked out of the clearing into the wooded surrounds.

“Hey, wait!” called Dilara. The rest of the troop looked at her quizzically. “Did you see that old woman?”

“Who? Talesa? She’s here,” replied one of the women.

“I’m not old!” chimed Talesa.

“Wait!” said Dilara, “Just… remain here.” With that, she leapt into the undergrowth after the old lady. She caught a flash of white hair up ahead and surged forward, heedless of the grabbing, scratching foliage.

The woman always appeared just ahead. Dilara could not close the distance between them. On and on she chased. Sweat dripped from her nose and stung her eyes. She leapt over a fallen tree trunk and landed in a small clearing, where the woman now sat on a charred cloth. Dilara shrieked in surprise, but the woman smiled.

“The woman from my dream,” she uttered breathlessly.

“I have some more bread for you child,” said the phantom, “come and eat.” Dilara stood her ground.

“Do not fear,” said the woman, “sit and eat. All will be well.” Dilara sat, but kept her distance. A small brook tinkled nearby, and the afternoon sun bathed the clearing in warmth.

The old lady sighed, “I want to see this curse lifted as much as you, child. It was I who called the curse upon that village, and I have been bound to it all these centuries.”

“You are the priestess?” asked Dilara with realisation.

“My spirit has been left to wander until the curse is lifted. My anger and hatred punished the chief and his village, but set off this age old feud as well.”

Dilara nodded, sensing the heaviness of the woman’s words.

“There is only one thing to break this curse – the power of true love. And there is only one man who can now break it.”

“Who?” asked Dilara.

“Up there,” the woman pointed to a cave part way up the next valley. Dilara strained her eyes, but could see no one. She turned back to the woman, but she was gone. An elaborately decorated, double edged knife stood, point down in the soil, where she had sat.

 

As Dilara sat and contemplated the encounter, the rest of her small band of warriors burst into the clearing. After explaining the visitation, they all set off with trepidation for the small cave. They reached the mouth in the last few rays of sunlight.

A small, withered man, sat just inside. His weathered skin clung desperately to his frail skeleton.

“Who are you,” they asked in awe.

The old hermit drew a long and laboured breath, “I am… or I was… the chief of yonder village.”

 

 

Comments

There are some pieces of writing that you know are good because something happens emotionally and I get a tingling down my back. This is one of them. You described the apparition in a way that reminded me of the way rainbows keep moving. And the characters were so real in the way they reacted to one another. So they became part of the same group bouncing off one another. And the chief ... with the spear point down in the ground. Vivid and you make the unbelievable believable and that is masterful writing. Brilliant!