The strong winds lashing at my face make me wish I had never come up this hill. Trudging through all the tall grass and slick ground, I check my monitor, making sure I’m going in the right direction to the right place. The green flashing light moving slowly on the light gray trail telling me that, unfortunately, I am. My mind flees to this morning when I received an email telling me that the current mail carrier had fallen ill the night before, leaving me with her commission in my burdened hands. I wonder if this is all a prank, my brother’s idea of “loving” me.
I let this idea slide out of my mind like my feet struggling to climb the steep hill in front of me. My legs yelling loudly at me, complaining that I should have brought the big, white mail van. I silently agreed with my legs, but kept a poker face just to spite them. I nearly stumbled as my shoes reached the top of the mountain like hill, panting and sweating furiously. My head starts to throb when I put my hands on my knees and bend over, trying to catch my breath.
Soon I am up on my feet and staring at the massive structure towering over me. I guess that I was too out of breath to pay any attention to what was surrounding me, but I don't know how I could miss this castle surrounded with a large moat and bright green ivy crawling up the sides of the stone walls. I start towards the large fortress when I realized there is a human figure in the window about twenty feet in the air. I call up to her.
“Are you looking for your mail?”
Her face flashes with surprise and she runs out of my sight. The next moment the large oak doors creak open. The figure walks out. She wears a long, flowy purple dress with lavender flowers all over it. Her hair is auburn and tumbles down her back.
“Thank the gods you’re here. I need your help.”
Her voice flows over me like soft caramel and her eyes seem to look directly through my mind. That voice, the welcoming tone, seems so familiar, and this woman, she seems so familiar.
“I’ve been expecting you,”
She pulls a lever and a wooden bridge makes a slow descent to the ground inches from where I stand.
I look at her suspiciously and ponder for a minute. I could help this woman, or I could leave and never see her familiar face again.
“Oh, you don’t know who I am, do you? Pity.” She paces back and forth a little bit before continuing. “I am Scarlet, and you are?”
“Aria, what exactly do you want with me?” As I say this I see the confusion creeping onto her face. I feel the same thing in my mind. Why would I tell this stranger my name? She turns as if she forgot something and then spins right back.
“No, I’m sure it’s you, I had a dream and… and you were helping me.”
She says this more to herself than to me.
I study her face and detect no signs of lying.
“What were we doing?”
She doesn't miss a beat responding.
“We were killing my father.”
I start to leave hesitating in the slightest. Something about her makes me want to stay and help, but I have a job to do, and this is crazy.
“Wait! Come back! Really just give me a chance, I know you!”
I turn waiting for her to explain. She motions me to come closer.
“My father,” she says, “He is a sorcerer and he destroys anything else in his path, including me if he gets the chance, I must kill him.”
I know she’s lying, but I can hear the emotion seeping through her voice.
I let out a large puff of breath and join her on the other side of the moat.
“I really shouldn't do this.”
Scarlet doesn't respond.
We walk through long beautiful halls with elegant masterpieces hung on the cold stone walls.
“Here we are.”
Scarlet points to a large oak door embedded with small jewels and carved designs. She opens the door revealing rows upon rows of weapons of all sorts. I see swords and bow staffs, pistols and daggers. I look at Scarlet in disbelief.
“No backing down”
She has a look of certainty when she says this, and for crazy reasons, I believe her.
I slowly walk over and pick up two gleaming daggers that are about six inches each. Scarlet hands me a belt and I clasp the daggers to it. Scarlet walks over to a spear and places it on a strap on her back.
We walk out of the room hunters now. Scarlet looks a bit odd in her dress and spear strapped onto her back.
We flee to a small room carved into the stone.
“If we’re not careful he’ll find us first,” she says
As soon as the words leave her mouth I hear footsteps.
A sword comes crashing down in front of us. We scatter, both shaking. Scarlet runs down a hall, while I get chased through the other.
I reach to my side and pull the daggers, my mind fluttering. Trying to reach some distant memory of fighting with the weapons. As soon as that thought flys to my mind a wave of memories crashes through me. I suddenly realized why she was so familiar. The thought makes me stumble, nearly falling into the sharp blade swishing recklessly behind me. I run faster, faster. That is all I can think now. No time for explanations, not yet.
I start to slow and the sorcerer speeds up. Before I realize what’s happening he slices at my shoulder. A large gash in my skin appears and I wail in agony. My vision blurs and all I can see is the light of the candle chandelier slowly rocking above me. I spin around hastily and lunge seeing the man for the first time. His wicked eyes staring holes into my body, deeper and much more painful than the one on my shoulder. He is wearing long black robes and black boots. His hair, dark loose and shaggy, makes him look like the madman he is. The gray streaks that float around his head match the irises of his bloodshot eyes. He dodges my jab and then slashes at my leg and he only narrowly misses.
The man makes me think of Scarlet with his broad shoulders and confident gaze. Where is she? He thrusts his sword, but this time I’m ready. With one dagger I block and with the other I jab, skimming the side of his head. He flashes a smile and flips my blade. I grunt, but don’t back down. Soon he has me cornered my heart races in sync with my mind. I thrust both hands with both daggers in front of me. I start running as fast as my weak, tired legs will carry me. I turn a corner and see Scarlet planted, with her spear straight at me. I scramble to the side of the hall and stand strong with her. I point both my daggers at the evil sorcerer sprinting down the hall. He charges straight towards me and I close my eyes, thrusting my dagger forward. I feel my blade sink into his skin and yank it back only to see the once flawless blade covered in a goey crimson substance, unmistakably blood. A sharp howl penetrates the silence of deadly combat. His last move is to throw his sword at Scarlet which shaves the skin off of her right leg. She winces for a split second then her shock turns to anger as she kicks him in the chest. He falls to his knees and begs for mercy. Scarlet does not deliver. She says something to the man in a foreign tongue and plunges her spear into his flesh. He crumples to the floor lifeless. I close my eyes and start to sob. Scarlet hugs my shoulders.
“It’s ok,” she reassures me.
“No it’s not! I’ll never get to…”
“Trust me you wouldn't want to.”
She studies the wound on my shoulder and sighs.
We both hobble to a room with a big red cross on the door. I try to start conversation while she cleans my shoulder.
“I’m really sorry,” I start.
“No, I’m the one who’s sorry about you having to find out like this. If I had it my way you would have known how awful and we would have been-”
“We had to,” I cut her off. “I just wish I had known our dad for longer.”