BY: WRITTEN (A.M.G)
The Jorah Saga
When Edrenn was dragging her out of the palace and throwing her on a horse, Vorrell desperately wanted to ask her how she was going to get back for Qasette’s wedding. Ereth was a four day ride away. She had attempted to bring it up several times. But after Edrenn’s run in with the queen, she had been elusive and distant. Vorrell knew she was hiding something and wished her mentor would confide in her. Unfortunately, that was not how their relationship worked. Vorrell was forced to live her life as an open book while Edrenn had the privilege of wearing the impenetrable robe of Jorah’s Seeress.
Reluctantly deciding to trust that her mentor would get her back in time, Vorrell opened up her senses to the world around her. The deafening sound of hooves pounding against the hard, packed ground filled her ears. The morning air was refreshingly cool and saturated with the sweet smell of blooming flowers and dew laden grass. To pass the time, Vorrell began counting heartbeats. The first thing Edrenn taught her was how to hone her hearing to detect that faint, life giving murmur. Before she could walk, Edrenn had imparted the importance of being aware of her surroundings and who she was sharing them with. Since Vorrell couldn’t see those around her coming and going, the easiest way to know how many people were about her was listening for heartbeats.
Fifty beating hearts later, Vorrell tapered her hearing back down to normal. There was a total of twenty five horses and people including her and Edrenn. Vorrell couldn’t help feeling that having twenty three armed escorts was a little excessive. Not mention her rear was sore from the rocking-horse motion of riding for over two hours. Slowing her mount down to a canter, she was resolved to turn around and deal with Edrenn’s wrath later when the subtle mustiness of cedar and hay filled her nostrils.
“Going somewhere, Oracle?”
A deep voice penetrated Vorrell’s cool exterior and for a few seconds a small smiled played on her lips. “Apparently not. Don’t you ever get tired of being my babysitter, Reagan?”
The soldier’s heart-warming laugh broke through the monotonous sound of horse hooves. “I consider it a great honor to be a part of the Seeress’s royal guard, Oracle. Besides, I’d rather be out riding then stuck behind Novean’s walls.”
“Well,” Vorrell shrugged. “I feel quite the opposite. Being behind those walls makes me feel safe. The thought of ascending to Jorah’s next Seeress and having to interact with the rest of the world makes me feel—“
“Anxious?” Reagan interjected playfully.
“No,” Vorrell cocked her head in his direction. “It makes me angry.”
With four words, Vorrell dispelled all of the happiness out of the air around her. She listened as Reagan shifted uncomfortably in his saddle and several horses flicked their ears nervously. “Uh,” Reagan cleared his throat. “I understand that you were born with a heavy burden. You have no idea how long you might live after you ascend before the next Oracle is born. It wouldn’t hurt to try to find some way to do your duty and be happy at the same time, would it?”
The concern radiating from Reagan was overwhelming. Vorrell forced a smile and flashed it in his direction. She could hear the muscles in his body relax as the tension between them began to dissipate. “I’m afraid my definition of happiness varies greatly from those who came before me. As long as Jorah and its people were thriving my predecessors were content. I am not that selfless.”
An involuntary shiver coursed through Vorrell’s body as Reagan covered her hand with his own. His tough, calloused thumb gently caressed the back of her hand. “I have known you your whole life, Oracle. Selfish is not a word I would ever use to describe you.”
Reluctantly, Vorrell pulled her hand out from under his. The moment she separated from his touch, she inwardly mourned for the brief moment of warmth his closeness provided. “Yes, we have known each other a long time. When you were five you gazed down at me as I cooed in my cradle and give me a small wooden horse as a birthday gift. When you were ten, you placed me on a horse and taught me to ride. At fifteen, you found me sleeping by a rock pool when I got lost in the woods and carried me home. A day after you turned twenty, you killed two men who tried to hurt me when I was out for a morning ride. And here we are. At twenty seven you have dedicated your life to me but are forbidden to even call me by my first name.”
“Please, Oracle.” Vorrell could hear Reagan’s arm flex as he reached for her again.
Vorrell reached out, grabbing his wrist before he could touch her. “That is why I am selfish, Reagan. After more than ten years of friendship, I wish you could say my name. I wish you were able to be more to me then a guardian. I wish,” Vorrell gently pushed his arm away. “I was permitted friends.”
She listened as Reagan maneuvered his mount closer to hers. His leg gently bumped against her own as he leaned as close to her as possible. “Me too,” he softly whispered in her ear.
As Reagan once again created a space between them, Vorrell began to notice the world around her again. The sound of hooves trampling the ground had diminished. In fact, the only two horses still moving were hers and Reagans. “Why are we stopping?”
“Because,” Edrenn’s voice floated towards her. “We have arrived.”
“Arrived?” Vorrell halted her mount. “We couldn’t have been riding more than three hours. Ereth is four days away. I thought—“
“You thought I would purposely make you miss Qasette’s wedding?” A shameful blush spread across Vorrell’s cheeks. “My dear, yes. The original city of Ereth is four days away. But after the Lorrae’s banishment, they thrived in their new underground home and their city and population grew.”
Dismounting, Vorrell walked towards her mentor’s voice. “How far did their city grow?”
“Well,” Edrenn brushed a curly, magenta tendril off Vorrell’s shoulder. “We are standing above it.”
“What?” The young Oracle replied hoarsely. “So close to Novean?”
“We are standing on their border.” Edrenn gave Vorrell’s hand a reassuring squeeze. “They are not permitted to go any further. But over these last thousand years the Lorraes have exceeded all expectations and have done very well for themselves.”
Vorrell listened as the soldiers around her dismounted their horses and armed themselves as if to go in to battle. “Do my—the king and queen know how close they are to our home?”
“No,” Vorrell winced as Edrenn forcefully grabbed her shoulders. “And nor will you tell them. Our relationship with the Lorrae is strained at best. But they are powerful allies and we need them on our side. You,” Edrenn bore her fingers in to her charge’s skin, “need them on your side.”
“I understand,” Vorrell softly sighed as she broke from Edrenn’s grasp. “What about the soldiers? Won’t they--”
Edrenn laughed. “Tell? Vorrell, they are my royal guards. Soon to be yours. They don’t betray their mistress’s secrets. Do you, Reagan?”
“No, Seeress.” Vorrell could hear Reagan’s sure steps as he walked over to them. “We do not.”
“See,” the Oracle could hear the smile on Edrenn’s face. “Nothing to worry about. Now, Reagan you will accompany me and Vorrell in to Ereth and the rest of you will wait here. I will call if you are needed.”
Vorrell listened as the soldiers nodded or replied in agreement. For the first time she was seeing a more intense side of Edrenn. Her mentor was not just powerful because she was Jorah’s Seeress. She was powerful because she understood she was in a position of authority and was not afraid to wield the control that came with it. As Vorrell stood by listening to Edrenn give orders, a thought keep popping in to her head. If Ereth was below them, how were they supposed to get to it?
Vorrell honed her hearing, trying to pinpoint exactly were her teacher had gone. “Edrenn, how are—fifty one.” The Oracle shivered as the air around her grew colder. She quickly counted the heartbeats again. Yes, there were now fifty one. “Edrenn, someone is here.”
An apprehensive silence fell over the party. Vorrell suddenly felt Reagan’s presence looming protectively beside her as a smooth, velvety voice filled the air around them. “I see you finally arrived. We are honored by your presence, I suppose. My name is Kanaline. Allow me to escort you to our High Priestess.”