Arboroth crossing over to Terras Firdel
It was early dusk in Arboroth and Ruth struggled to keep her feet in the encroaching darkness. She slipped and slid across a barren field. Large, hard drops of rain fell, adding to her journey’s difficulty. Everything was wet: the ground, the trees and Ruth. She was dressed in a woollen brown robe. A cowl covered her head and shielded her face. Both her hands were needed to cope with the basket’s weight. She could not prevent the basket from banging painfully against her right thigh with every step.
Ruth saw the beginnings of the forest ahead and knew she was not far from the cottage. Her foot slipped in the mud and she fell. The movement jolted the small baby cradled in the basket. The baby howled. Ruth felt her heart pounding in her chest and expected someone, drawn by the noise, to leap out of the darkness.
‘Hush now, Catalina,’ said Ruth in a scared voice. The baby settled lower in the basket. Her cries diminished. Ah, she is such a clever child already. Do not worry little one, you’ll soon be safe from harm. To no one in particular, she uttered sharply, ‘Damn wizards and their faraway abodes!’
Ruth climbed back to her feet and searched for a sign of pursuit. When she was certain she was alone, she set forth again, heading toward a little cottage that lay nestled in the fringe of a dark, silent forest.
She pushed herself across the treacherous ground, her bare feet sinking in the clinging mud. She had been running for three days straight and knew she had little strength remaining.
‘We will be able to rest when we reach the cottage,’ she said to the baby. She could hand her over and sleep. Sleep for a week at least. ‘The wizard will take you to your new home, where you’ll be safe.’
Ruth blundered towards the forest. She was close enough to the huge trees to hear their leaves whispering. Strange sounds startled her. An owl hooted and an animal scrambled under a bush. Sometimes she paused and listened carefully for the footsteps she was certain were behind her. She could see the light glowing in the window of the cottage ahead. At least someone was home.
The rain began to fall harder so that she could hardly see anything of the world in front of her. Finally, just as Ruth felt she might collapse, exhausted, she found herself standing before the cottage door. She placed the basket gently beside her feet and reached out to rap lightly on the door.
The door flung open and a maddened figure, his face as red as his long flowing robe and his eyes ablaze with fear, screamed, ‘Flee! The witch is upon us; flee now and save the babe or the world is doomed!’
‘What? How? Where?’ gasped Ruth.
‘There is a crossover point not more than fifty feet over there!’ screamed the wizard, spittle flying from his mouth. His long, bony finger pointed to a spot left of the doorway. ‘Hurry now; the witch must not find you here. I will fight her while you make your escape, but you must be quick for the witch will soon vanquish me. The babe must be safe in Terras Firdel before that happens. The witch will not be able to catch you once you pass through. Now hurry!’
With the last of her remaining strength, Ruth ran south in search of the promised crossover point. After several frantic moments she found what she was looking for.
Ruth saw what looked like a large picture hanging in midair. She knew little about the crossovers. Only that they were supported by an ancient magic that no one really understood and that they could be difficult to find if the view of the destination blended with the crossover’s surrounds. Luckily for Ruth, this crossover point showed a quiet countryside—a land very different from Arboroth. It was the realm they would be transported to.
Before his defeat, Hubert had told Ruth that the baby would be safe once they crossed over. He had also told Ruth that the Realm was called Terras Firdel.
‘Be aware,’ Hubert had said to Ruth before he had left to face the witch, ‘that in Terras Firdel, no one really believes in magic anymore.’
‘But the baby…’
Genre – Fantasy
Rating – PG