Chapter 4

Gaweia paused a moment and closed her eyes. When she opened them once more, they were not the same bluish-violet that had captivated Blake before, but a murky gray color. And her pupil was gone entirely. In its place was a swirling darkness that frightened Blake immensely.

Then Blake jumped back and screamed in surprise when she saw that the fire was once again changing. But this time the fire did not simply go to a different color. In its depths was a swirling cornucopia of different colors. And it also seemed like it was making…noises.

Blake moved as close as she could stand to be to the fire without risking burns. She strained her eyes as hard as she could, though in the back of her mind she realized how irrational that was because she couldn't very well see sounds. But Blake ignored this logic and kept a steady eye on the churning mass.

And she was glad she did, because if she hadn't been looking so closely, she knew she would've missed it. In the dead center of the whirling colors, the twisting seemed to stop. If you weren't looking closely you wouldn't have seen any difference. But Blake saw it, and as she kept looking, the small still spot seemed to grow larger. It kept getting bigger until it consumed the whole of the fire.

Until then Blake hadn't really paid too much attention to what the now steady jumble of colors looked like. But as she tilted her head back and looked over the colors as a whole she realized one thing. This was not just a random mixture of colors. This was a picture.

The picture was so vivid it looked more like a photograph. It depicted a large castle that loomed ominously on a mountain top. It was hard to discern any details about it, as the background was dark and stormy with bolts of lightning passing by too quickly to illuminate anything thoroughly enough. The noises she heard were of the wind whipping and the thunder booming. And one other sound that was almost completely drowned out by the thunder. The sound of a woman screaming.

Blake glanced up at Gaweia and saw that her eyes had gone back to normal, for which she was glad. Then Gaweia once again started up her story. "In a kingdom called Manshye there lived a king named Sade, along with his queen, Clarissa. They had only one child, named Hale. Together, this royal family ruled over the land of Lakadia, and was loved by all its inhabitants.

"But King Sade had a dark secret. He did not love Clarissa. Queen Clarissa herself was completely oblivious to this fact, and she loved him with all her heart.

"King Sade made sure that no one ever found out about this though, as he did not want to leave the queen. He knew how much his subjects adored her, maybe even more so than him. And he also knew that if the couple were to fall apart, so would his rule and kingdom.

"But then he met Isabella and his carefully woven web began to unravel.

"Isabella was a sorceress and-" before the woman could say anymore, Blake interrupted her.

"A sorceress? Would you mind explaining to me what exactly that is?" Blake knew that she was being rude by interrupting, but she also knew that this was probably her only chance to get some real answers.

"Well, sorcery is a type of witchcraft. But it is much more powerful than any other type. It is also incredibly rare to have therefore not much is known about it. The few people out there that do possess the power of sorcery are…well hunted would be the best word for it."

"Hunted?" Blake blurted out incredulously. Just the thought of actual people being hunted down made her cringe. Then she thought of another even more horrifying thought. "What happens when they're found?" she said quietly.

Gaweia sighed before saying, "Well that really depends on who finds them. Some people try to study them and their powers. Others try to use those powers for themselves."

Both women were silent a moment. Then Gaweia said softly, "Does that cover all you need to know about sorceress'?"

Blake immediately snapped her head up towards the Alsi, as she had been staring intently at the intricate carpet design beneath her. She then remembered that she had interrupted Gaweia's story. Blake nodded her head slowly, thus consenting for Gaweia to continue on with her story.

"Now, as I was saying, everything began to change once the king met Isabella. She had been captured by some of King Sade's best warriors, in hopes that she could heal Prince Hale."

"Heal?" asked Blake.

"Yes, not long after the prince's fifth birthday, he became very ill. No one knew how or why. Many different people came from all around Lakadia to heal him. But no one could. The king soon became desperate. His feelings towards his wife were irrelevant when it came to his son. King Sade loved his son more than anything and it broke his heart to see him so sick.

"His advisors then told him that there was a possibility that his son could be healed with sorcery. They had waited until they were sure that there were no other alternatives before they told him about it, as they knew how unlikely it would be to actually find someone that possessed sorcery.

"King Sade had heard of sorcerers before, but had never really considered using them as a means to help his child. But after much consulting with his advisors he decided to send some of his most trusted warriors to find her. He made sure that all of this sorcery business was kept from the public though."

"Why?" Blake asked.

"Because even though the hunting of sorcerers is quite common, it is heavily frowned upon by the public, for obvious reasons. The king did not want anyone to know that he was stooping down to such a barbaric level.

"The warriors he sent were very trained and skilled. The king trusted them all greatly. Especially their general, Jakob Krelm, who also happened to be a very close friend of the king.

"Well, as luck would have it they did indeed stumble upon a sorceress. Isabella had been staying in the same inn as them and Jakob saw her healing the foot of a young girl that had fallen off a horse. Once the child had run back to her parents and Isabella was all alone, Jakob had quickly struck her over the head with a rock, then had her bound and gagged before she could even fully comprehend what was happening.

"She was then quickly brought back to the castle. Once there, she obediently healed Prince Hale, in hopes that they would let her go if she acquiesced their wishes. Of course they did not."

"What? Why wouldn't they let her go?" wondered Blake.

"Well, think of it from their perspective. They had an amazingly powerful creature in their possession, with the power to bring people back from the brink of death. They would have been fools to just let go something that everyone sought after.

"And they needed to make sure that the young prince stayed healthy. While it might have seemed like he was completely healed, they had no way of knowing for sure. For all they knew, the second Isabella left, the prince's illness would come right back. So she stayed.

"She was kept in a nice room and was provided with everything she could ever need, but still, no matter how pretty the cage, it's still a cage, and she was still trapped. King Sade felt very bad about all of it, but he knew keeping her was in the best interests of everyone.

"He would always bring her food to her personally and made sure to be extra pleasant to her, even if he had to fake it. He wanted to stay in her good graces and he wanted her to feel like she had a friend there, even if it wasn't true.

"But after a while, he didn't have to pretend to care about her. The more he was around her, the closer he grew to her. It wasn't soon before he fell in love and started having an affair with her. But there was something the king didn't know about Isabella.

"He wasn't the only one having an affair with her.

"Jakob also became quite taken with the enchanting sorceress in the time that she was held captive. But neither man knew about the other. They both knew that the other was also visiting Isabella regularly, but never suspected anything other then friendship being made, up in her quarters."

Blake frowned at that. She wasn't sure if Gaweia knew that her wording led to inappropriate thoughts.

"Both relationships went on without either man finding out about the other," Gaweia continued on, "but then it happened. Isabella became pregnant. And she had no way of knowing who the father was. She then told both men about what had been happening. Both were enraged, of course. Especially King Sade, because now he might have an illegitimate child that would technically be royalty.

"Jakob was of course very hurt by the fact that she had been with another man, but he was nowhere near as panicked as the king was at the prospect of having a child. He had no wife or children of his own, and despite her betrayal, still loved Isabella deeply.

"King Sade and Jakob were at odds. The once close friends became bitter enemies. Isabella then told them both of a way to find out whose child it was. She showed them a small pendant that she always kept on her person. It was a beautiful scarlet ruby kept on a thin silver chain. She said that if the child belonged to the man she truly loved, then it would be able to wield the incredible powers of the ruby and would rule all of Lakadia,"

"Wait, wait hold on a second. You had me up until the ruby thing," Blake interrupted.

"What do you mean?" questioned Gaweia.

"I mean…you were telling me this weird love story, and then all of a sudden there's this business about a ruby pendant that has the power to control Lakadia. It just…I don't know…it just seems kind of out there you know?"

Gaweia simply stared at her for a beat. Blake would've been afraid that she had offended her, if it weren't for the small smile curving the corner of Gaweia's lips. Then Gaweia said, "Hmm…yes I do understand what you mean. But you must remember that this is just a story. It doesn't have to make sense."

"Um…okay," Blake said slowly with her brows furrowed. "It's just…it seems strange to me that Isabella just happened to have this amazing pendent thing that will not only tell her who the father is, but will also have give someone the power to rule the world."

Gaweia shook her head while making a tsking sound. She still had the beginnings of a smile on her face. "No, no. You obviously weren't paying close attention to the story. The pendent didn't tell her who the father is. It merely showed her whether or not the child belonged to the man she truly loved."

"Hold on. 'The man she truly loved'? I thought she loved both of the men she was having an affair with."

"No, she did care for both of them very deeply, but she only truly loved one of them."

"Which one?"

Gaweia's small smile turned into a full-fledged grin as she said, "Ah, ah now we are getting ahead of ourselves."

"Okay…well can you tell me why?"

"Why what?"

"Why the ruby showed her whether or not the child belonged to the man she loved. I mean, it just seems like an oddly specific power for a pendent."

Gaweia gave a small chuckle that sent warm tingles down Blake's back. "Yes well let me tell you something that should help you out in life, especially life in this world."

Blake held her breath and leaned forward a bit. Then she leapt right back, as she was two inches away from a charred face. She had been so caught up in Gaweia's strange story, she had forgotten all about the fire before her that showed the ominous castle. She quickly forgot about it once more as Gaweia started speaking again.

"Love is the most powerful magic of all."

Blake felt the breath she had been holding leave her in a hefty sigh. She had thought that Gaweia was about to depart with her some ancient wisdom. But instead she was told a line similar to one she had read in an old Christmas card she had gotten from a friend last year.

The Alsi's smile did not falter, despite Blake's obvious disappointment. In fact, it seemed as if her smile had gotten wider. "Oh now, listen to me, child. It's true. Both love and hate are powerful emotions that drive people's actions. And here in Lakadia, they are what fuel people's power," stated Gaweia.

"What do you mean?"

"Well, it's hard to explain. You would have to really experience it to understand it."

At this point Blake was starting to get frustrated with the old woman. Gaweia was just talking in circles. Blake was promised answers but instead was getting more questions. Questions, she suspected, that would never be answered.

Gaweia then said, "Oh, don't worry, child. Believe me, one day you will know about the connections between powers and emotions better than anyone."

'What?' Blake thought. Did she mean that Blake would have powers herself? Blake highly doubted that. She couldn't even do the penny behind the ear trick. It was impossible for her to even begin to picture herself doing real magic, or whatever it is these people did.

"Now, back to your original question," Gaweia began, "you asked why the pendent showed her if the child belonged to the man she loved. Well the ruby in the pendent was no ordinary ruby, as you should already know. It was found deep within Sheralict, which is a large set of tunnels and caves that span all over and under Lakadia. I believe you went through a small portion of it on your way here."

Blake remembered the tunnel she went through to get here quite vividly. So it had a name? That was a bit odd.

"The ruby was found by the ancestors of Isabella, and was passed down from generation to generation. Isabella comes from a very long line of sorcerers and every time it was passed down it picked up a little power from the person it was on. By the time it came into the possession of Isabella, it was absolutley teeming with raw power.

"Now as I said before, love is a very powerful magic. If the child was born from true love, then when the ruby came into it's possession, the combined forces of the kid's power and the love that created the child, would completely overflow the magic within the ruby and set off all of the dormant power. Thus giving the child the power to rule all of Lakadia.

"Back to the story now. When the men found out about this they both had strong feelings on the matter. They were both hurt obviously, not only because Isabella had been cheating on them, but also because she didn't love one of them. And she refused to tell them which one she loved until after the baby was born.

"They were also thinking over what would happen if the child really was able to control all of Lakadia. What would happen to their world? Neither of them could even begin to ponder the possibilities, good or bad.

"King Sade was in a panic. He couldn't have some lovechild that may or may not belong to him becoming all-powerful and tearing down the empire that he had so meticulously built. So he took action. He didn't want to hurt Isabella or her unborn child. So there was only one other option. Destroying the ruby.

"Now King Sade was no fool. He knew that destroying something that powerful was not only incredibly hard, but incredibly dangerous. So he waited until the ruby was at its most vulnerable. And that would be when the baby was born."

"Why would it be vulnerable when the baby was born?"

"Well as you know, each time the pendent is passed down, it takes power from its new owner. In order to do this it has to…well, open itself up in a way. It has to let down its barriers and let itself become weaker in order to absorb the new powers. Therefore it is vulnerable.

"So time went on and soon it was time for the baby to be born. Which brings us to this," Gaweia said pointing towards the fire.

Blake looked towards it and saw that the image of the castle was slowly fading and in its place was what she guessed was the inside of it. She saw a room that was dimly lit with several torches. Inside the room was a large canopy bed with three people gathered around it. It was hard to make out any features on them, as it was so dark. But she could tell that there was a woman at the foot of the bed and two men on either side. She could also make out what looked like a crown on one of the men.

But what was more interesting was what was on the bed. Lying across it was a woman that was clearly in labor. She was the source of the screaming Blake had heard when she first saw the image of the castle. Blake assumed that the woman giving birth was Isabella and the two men next to the bed were Jakob and King Sade.

Blake saw the man she assumed was King Sade move forward swiftly. The other three in the room were too preoccupied to notice his sudden movement. He pulled back just as quickly and then walked away from the bed, towards the center of the room. Once there he dropped something that was in his hands. A red glint shown off it as it dropped to the ground with a loud clank. Suddenly all three heads turned towards him.

He then took a sword from a sheath that Blake just now noticed on his hip. He raised the sword high above his head and swung down towards the object on the ground. Blake didn't have to look closely to know what it was. Just as the silver sword sliced through the air and hit the object, Isabella gave a loud guttural scream.

Blake looked towards her and saw that she had her back arched high and her eyes shut tight. Jakob was clutching her hand tightly, but he was not looking at her. He was watching as the king's sword crashed into the ruby, creating a large flash of red light that made Blake shut her eyes. When she opened them back up she saw that the light was dimming down enough for her to see scarlet shards of the ruby flying off in all directions. King Sade dropped his sword and held up his arms in front of his face to protect himself against the onslaught.

And then all of a sudden Isabella stopped screaming and started sobbing just as the sounds of a baby crying invaded the room. Blake couldn't see the baby because of the woman that was in front of the bed. All was silent save for the sounds of Isabella's sobs and the baby's cries. Jakob draped a blanket over Isabella as the woman at the foot of the bed walked away and out the door, baby in tow.

King Sade walked over to Isabella only for her to scream at him, "What have you done!? How could you destroy the ruby?"

He looked at her somberly for a moment before saying quietly, "It was for the best."

Isabella gave another heart wrenching scream and buried herself in Jakob's shoulder. King Sade stared at them for a moment with a torn look on his face. Then he walked back over to his sword and picked it up off the ground. After sheathing it, he walked towards the door the woman had left through without looking back.

Blake moved her gaze back to the bed and saw that Isabella was either passed out or had fainted, realizing belatedly that the room had gone completely silent. Jakob then walked over towards the shattered remains of the ruby and began to gather the scarlet shards into his hands. Once he was sure he had picked up all of the shards he pocketed them and walked back over towards Isabella. Then he bent down and gave her a kiss on the forehead before walking out of the room himself.

Blake jumped back as the images suddenly disappeared, and in its place were the green flames from before. She looked back up towards Gaweia and said eagerly, "What happened after that?"

"You saw Isabella on the bed right before Jakob left, right?" Gaweia asked. At Blake's nod she went on saying, "Well she was dead."

Blake reeled back in shock. Gaweia said it so bluntly, she was completely unprepared. "So what happened to the baby?" she said softly.

"The baby was raised by Jakob. Even though there was a chance the baby might not be his, he decided to take full responsibility for it anyway."

"Okay. So…is that the end of the story?"

"Hmm…not quite."

"Oh? So then how does it end?"

"It doesn't. Or at least it hasn't yet."

"What? What do you mean?"

Just as Gaweia opened her mouth to reply, there was a rustling sound coming from the entrance to the tent. Both women looked towards it and saw Elias opening the flap. He walked in and smiled at them. "Gaweia do you mind if I speak to you for a moment?" he said politely.

"Not at all," Gaweia said with a smile of her own as she stood up. Both of them started walking away towards a flap in the back of the tent, but Elias turned back towards Blake before walking through the flap. He smiled at her and said, "Don't worry, it shouldn't take long."

Blake nodded and said, "Okay."

Once they were both gone, Blake stood up and stretched her legs. She raised her arms up over her head and yawned widely. She then sat back down. Had she been a more curious person she would have taken the opportunity to snoop around a bit. But she wasn't that type, and knew that it would be impolite to do so. She also knew that it would be incredibly stupid.

She didn't know this place and what lied in it. She didn't know what kind of dangerous things lurked in those jars. And she also didn't know what would happen to her if they caught her digging around the tent. So she stayed put.

She briefly entertained the idea of running away. The tent flap was wide open and there was no one around to stop her. But she quickly dismissed this thought. Where would she run to? And besides, she was promised answers here. That was definitely more appealing to her then running out into God knows what kinds of things out there.

She looked up as she heard footsteps nearing and saw Elias and Gaweia walk back towards her. Gaweia took her original place by the fire while Elias simply chose to stand next to Blake. He looked down at her and said, "Are you hungry? I'm sure it has been quite a while since you have eaten anything."

Now that she thought about it, she realized that she was starving. She had been so caught up in Gaweia's story that she hadn't noticed. She nodded, prompting Elias to say, "Well then come with me and I'll take you to my hut where I can cook you something to eat." He held out a hand to her, which she took and he helped her up.

She looked at Gaweia questioningly. She was hungry yes, but she wanted to get more answers from the Alsi. Elias probably guessed her thoughts as he said, "Don't worry. We can come right back after you finish eating."

This put Blake at ease. As Elias started walking out of the tent, she had no qualms at him leading the way, or the fact that he still had a hold of her hand. She didn't know what might pop out at her here, and holding his hand gave her a sense of reassurance.

Walking through the area was much the same as it was before. No one paid them any attention. Blake didn't mind though. She was sure that this was better then having them come up and talk to her.

Before she knew it they had stopped walking and were now in front of a large hut, which she assumed was his. There were no decorations or plants in the front of it, but she hadn't really expected any. Elias quickly walked towards the wooden door and muttered a few words she couldn't understand. He then swung open the door and let go of her hand, motioning for her to walk through it as he held open the door. Once she had stepped into the hut he closed the door and said a few more quick words she couldn't comprehend.

Once he turned back to her she said, "What was that?"

He looked at her puzzled for a moment before saying, "Excuse me?"

"I mean, what was it you were saying a second ago?"

"Oh, it was just a simple enchantment that keeps other people from coming in."

"Oh, alright," Blake said in understanding. Elias sure did seem to know a lot of enchantments. Which made her think of something. She didn't know what Elias was. It had never really occurred to her to ask. "Hey Elias, what are you?" she asked, realizing belatedly how rude it sounded.

"I'm a wood elf," he replied back easily.

Blake thought this over. So he was an elf? She wracked her brain trying to remember what Bane had said about elves. She was pretty sure he said that their kind could be either good or evil. She hoped he was the good kind. She looked over him for a moment, taking in his flawless alabaster skin and long black hair. His amber eyes offset his sharp features beautifully. He was very tall, probably around over six feet, with a lean build. There was no doubt about it, he was definitely too good-looking to be human. She was about to ask him what exactly a wood elf was, but then she heard a noise behind her, so she turned around.

And then gave an ear piercing scream.

Hey, I know its been nearly two months, and I totally wouldn't blame you if you hated me. I certainly hate myself. This chapter hasn't been edited so please bare with me if there are a lot of grammar mistakes. And can I just say, I'm really sorry about the way this chapter turned out. I don't know, I just really don't like it. Feel free to ask me any questions about it or give me any kinds of critique.

And thank you soooo much to my reviewers Peachie Miss, Gabby, and HGiel! And thank you to everyone else that has read this story.