7-The Chariot

7 The ChariotImage from The Dark Fairytale Deck by Luis Royo.

The Chariot

The sun was setting in the land on the Fae and high wispy clouds caught the dying rays and turned them into smoke and fire. It was her third day on the road and Jeralyn felt tired in a way she had not know could even exist. Her feet and back ached savagely and her legs were almost numb from the constant walking.

She really had no idea where she was, all she knew is that it was not her home. She had activated the talisman in the broach only feet outside the castle gates and watched her world fall away like a chalk painting in the rain. First the sky had started to blur and then run down into he trees, which in turn flowed into the ground, creeping closer and closer to her feet. Briefly, she wondered if she should run, if this is what was supposed to happen, but the entire world suddenly spun off it’s axis and swirled like colorful water down the drain. She only had enough time to think that she would have liked to have seen that in the daylight to get the full effect before she was roughly deposited on a rocky hill top somewhere in a world as different from her own as could be imagined.

In her three days, she saw things that even her fertile imagination would have balked at. The most terrifying was the beast that looked like a chimera of a bird and a goat. The thing hopped from branch to branch, finally coming down to settle on a rock right in the path she was on. It cocked its avian head and looked at her with the strange hour glass eyes of a goat. It’s little hooves tapped a staccato rhythm on the rock while it sized her up. Great glossy wings, as wide as a vultures stretched out to beat at the air, blocking her path and it gave a hiss like a cat. The curved beak looked wicked sharp and a black forked tongue was briefly visible.

Jeralyn had been paralyzed with fear. Was this thing going to try and eat her? Was it dangerous? She had no weapons and no idea what the thing even was. She stared back at it, afraid to look away. The creature cocked it’s head the other way, hissed again and was suddenly air born. The huge wings beat the air so hard dust and leaves were thrown up around her as if a whirlwind had caught her. In panic she covered her head with her arms and crouched down to the ground, bracing herself to feel the evil looking beak on her skin any moment, but nothing happened. She heard the rattle of branches far over head and then nothing. She stayed there, huddled like that for a long time after that.

This was proving that she had no idea what she had gotten herself into. The memory of the goat bird haunted her as she walked along a highway. The hard packed road was wide enough for two large carts to pass each other, but in the hours she had been on it, she had yet to see a single other traveler. She had no idea if she was even going the right direction now as she trudged along. Her bag was very light now, the small amount of food she stashed in it was almost gone, and her water was dangerously low. She found a stream that looked clear and clean in the forest, but saw no animals drinking from it its crystal clear waters. A deer like animal approached it from the opposite bank but bolted after one quick sniff. She did not dare fill her bottles from this source. Her poorly formed plan had her finding a town or city and being able to get food and water there, but this place seemed almost devoid of civilization.

At some point this was not the case, there were ruins and crumbling towers scattered about the country side, and this road was clearly not abandoned, it was in excellent condition. She could not explain it. She staggered to the top of yet another rise and gasped in surprise. In front of her was a wide plain, black now in the gathering gloom, but it seemed to go on forever. She could see yet another tower, jagged and bone like on the distant horizon and miles and miles of deep green grass, slashed through with the scar of a road.

A soft breeze blew across the plain, bringing Jeralyn a scent the reminded her of heather and wild roses. How that combination could be growing together she could not imagine, but it made her feel calm and at peace. She stood there, breathing the sweet air and watching the last of the sun fade slowly away behind the trees behind her, her shadow growing longer and thinner before her.

She swayed, a vague smile on her face, feeling like she was in a trance when the thunder of horses hooves jarred her from her half sleeping state. They were coming up behind her, and she barely got off the road and into the brush before a great black carriage flew by, two enormous horses with flashing red eyes pulled it with alarming speed. It was not the Fae horses that had her attention though. Holding the rains of the great beasts was an honest to goodness angel. Her dark hair streamed out behind her and flowed across her large white feather wings.

Jeralyn stood, staring in awe at the sight.


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