Chapter 4 “Of Rumors and Reflection”
Day 1 of Journey
Even though it is actually the second day of traveling, for most of yesterday we were still within the great walls of Walesmena so I will consider today as the first true day of our journey. Last night we stayed at the Ivy Inn. I expect it will be the nicest place that we will have to rest until we reach Hadfield. Father woke us all early this morning to begin our journey and we were on the road before daybreak.
Today I rode in the second wagon with Thanan and Jausho. The three of us took turns driving and they spent most of the journey spying and identifying the plants and animals along the roadway and telling me all about them.
They certainly know a lot for their age and it was interesting seeing them open up so much when they usually keep to themselves. I think they are both excited to be on this trip and seeing so close the things that they have only read about.
Although it is still not too far from our home it feels like a faraway land from a fairy tale. I could imagine that I felt the life of all the trees and flowers like it was something tangible. When we nooned today Thanan and Jausho wanted to explore more of the forest beyond the path but there wasn't time. Perhaps on our way home again we will not be in such a rush and they will have a chance to explore some more.
“The way home” I wonder somewhat if that will ever happen for us as a family. I am still determined to come again as soon as possible to help Grandfather but when all is over I wonder if there even be a city or home left to come home to. Thankfully I am able to keep busy enough not to dwell on these ideas or I think I should find myself in despair beyond reasoning.
Even though the forest blocks some of the sunlight we were able to travel a good twelve hours today and a gained a distance of about five leagues according to Father. Tonight we are camped in a small meadow. Father, Mother and Star will sleep in one of the wagons. We have arranged it so that Leymi and I will sleep in the other and the boys will lay out their bedding beneath it to help make sure that we are protected. I will continue to write more as time and circumstances allow.
Day 4 of Journey
The past few days have passed much as the first. We all have taken our share of driving, riding, and even walking so we do not get too weary of the jarring of our bodies. Riding for these long hours in the wagons certainly takes its toll on a person. My feet have blisters from the walking and my hands are sore and beginning to callous from holding the reigns. I also fear my backside shall never be the same again. We were only able to drive about four leagues today. The animals are also tired from the exertions. Everyone is still well though and the first few days are always the most difficult while bodies of human and animal adjust to the demands placed upon them of travel. Soon enough we will be better off.
Tonight we are resting at an Inn in a place known as Waygard. It is a small village in the forest. I think it cannot consist of more than ten families. Its purpose seems to mostly be a resting point for travelers along this road. Mother and Father inquired here about other families that have recently left from Walesmena and found that many have been here recently and gone on to Port Bell. We should reach there in another two or three days’ journey.
Father says that we will rest there for a night or two and let the animals regain some strength while he seeks out some of those families and inquires about their welfare and conditions. I think he knows more than Grandfather had thought but does not want to say anything that will alarm us. All of the secrecy is such a bother. I wish we could all just be free to discuss what is on our mind. Still I know if anyone is guilty of this I am. I wonder what the reaction will be when my plans are discovered.
Day 7 of Journey
We reached Port Bell earlier this afternoon. It is an amazing place nestled between the Western Channel and the GrayMist Mountains. I find it hard to believe that such a place exists even seeing it with my own eyes. Within half a day’s walk a person could go from the salty-spray and white sands of the beach to the high peaks of the mountains. Mother says just on the other side of the mountains is the Great Serpent’s Desert.
When we arrived some of the memories of coming here as a child returned to me. I remembered seeing the great bell the city is named for hanging over the boardwalk. As children we see things that seem so much larger than they really are. I had thought that my memory had played tricks on me when I recalled the mountains here and how tall they are. They are part of the same range that boarders Walesmena on the East so I did not think that they could possibly be as tall as I had remembered. If anything though, my memory did not do them justice. The mountains in Walesmena are indeed a magnificent sight- tall and strong, but these must be at least twice as tall, stretching far above the clouds.
I imagine that if someone was to climb to the top that they would touch the sky and see for at least 1,000 leagues in all directions. They tell me that no one has ever made it though, some have tried and gone far, others have tried and disappeared, but no one has ever reached the top and returned to tell the story.
The people here tell many stories of strange things that happen in those mountains. I think my favorite story is about a sea creature called Sephone that wandered out of the sea and began to climb the mountain thinking that the blue sky was an even larger ocean than what he had known. He began to freeze the higher he climbed. Finally he found some caves and went inside for refuge. Although he was warmer, he was still not warm enough so he began to dig into the earth. Finally he dug so deep that he reached warm water that lies deep within the earth and it bubbled up from the ground until it created a warm spring within the cave. He was grateful for the warm water and he liked it so much that he made a home there and takes pity on other travelers that get lost along their way.
There is so much to see here. Port Bell is much larger than Walesmena. Unfortunately, we only got to walk around for a little while today. Even though we arrived this afternoon it took us a while to find a lodging house where we could stay and then we had to be back in time for dinner. Mother and Father say that we can explore some more tomorrow while they take care of some things.
The warm water lapped lazily across Callia’s bare feet. She walked along the beach of Port Bell just north of where the docks for all of the ships were harbored. She had spent most of the morning chasing Leymi all over those docks as the little fireball excitedly ran from one ship to the next and back again curiously examining and exploring everything she could find. Eventually though, Leymi had fallen asleep in Callia’s arms, unable to walk a step further. After taking Leymi back to their mother Callia came back again, drawn to the water.
Ever since Callia was small she had loved the water. She had spent many hours sitting on the shores of the river and lakes that were near Walesmena. During the warmer months she delighted in taking long walks in the rain. She was not sure why but the feeling of water close by her helped her to relax and allowed her to organize her thoughts in a way that she had trouble doing otherwise.
She needed that peace and time for reflection now and was grateful for the few moments she had by herself to enjoy it. She waded out into the water further, not minding the wetness that began to make her skirts heavy. This far from Walesmena it was almost easy to forget all of the problems back home. She knew however, that no matter how much she chose to avoid thinking about them, the problems would still be there. Not for the first time on their journey she began again to reflect on the situation and what she knew to see if she could think of any answers.
Tired physically and emotionally she sank down in the water. At times it swept over her almost up to her shoulders. She felt the gentle pull as the water swept the sand beneath her back out into the sea. Still she sat while she silently contemplated all that had happened.
While she and Leymi had been at the docks she had heard some interesting things. A few men were talking about getting things ready for their next voyage. One trader mentioned how dangerous the trade routes were becoming for travel. More and more ships had simply disappeared recently and their captain was attempting to find extra men to hire on as guards. The man he was talking to said that he had heard a rumor that the people of the Xantheon Islands were responsible and that they were trying to capture supplies so they could come and conquer the people and cities of Tercello.
Callia was not sure what to make of this. Randowl had always taught her to keep her eyes and ears open, that it was difficult to know what might prove to be useful information in the future. He had also told her not to take things for truth without some sort of proof or evidence. She had seen the looks of the sailors and merchants though, whether the rumors were true or not, they were scared.
Randowl removed his glasses and rubbed at his weary eyes. For the past week since he had arranged for his family to leave he had done very little besides search through the books at the library. He had hoped to find something, anything, that might offer insight into what was happening or what might be done to help. As far as he knew, nothing he had found so far was helpful.
He finally began to accept the fact he had known all along. No matter how many books he searched, it probably would not make much difference. Because he could not be certain what it was that he was looking for, he had very little hope of recognizing it when he found it. His only real hope was in learning more about what the council was trying to accomplish.
The note from Callia and Naiyer had told him that there was a small handful of students that might prove to be a valuable resource. He decided to arrange a meeting with Naiyer’s friend Quinn and see if they could discover something that might help him. It was a long shot but better than anything else he could think of for the moment.It had been seven long days since his family had left. Randowl could not think of a time he had felt more alone. He was beginning for the first time in his life to feel old. He questioned the wisdom of sending them away while he stayed here alone and hoped that he would have the opportunity to see them safe again.