You are on page 1of 6

TAILS: Journey to the Blink TAILS: Less Than Divided TAILS: Hoof, Wing & Horn

CHAPTER 1: Letter Sent and None Received I said Im leaving! Nate yelled, storming through the door as he spoke. Ettie followed him, keeping a safe gap between herself and the angry farmhand. They walked a great distance in silence, passing cattle as they moved through the field. Not wanting to push her luck, Ettie never asked Nate where he was going. She felt certain that his bad mood would eventually peter out and they could return to the farmstead as though nothing had happened. The lass was used to Nates frustration regarding his place at home. She knew all too well that he felt trapped living the way he did, and that he longed for more than just the life of a simple farm boy. She knew all this, yet she was shocked at his sudden outburst; it seemed to come from nowhere. Still, she followed. Ettie knew she had done nothing to provoke or deserve Nates anger, but it was their friendship that pulled her along after him. She stayed Nates silent companion the entire walk, not needing to know where they were going or when they would return. If she had asked, no answer would have come, for Nate had no destination in mind and was too flustered to realize that Ettie had followed him in the first place. Nate was only aware of his legs, and the pull he felt away from the farm. Finally, Nate slowed as he came upon the old bridge. This place marked the border of their parish, and was typically the spot where, repeatedly, Nate would turn around after much internal turmoil and march home defeated. Like the countless other journeys that brought him here, Nate stood motionless, struggling with two equally powerful concepts that warred within him. On one hand, he wanted to choose his own life, make his own decisions; he wanted to be free. But the cynical, and perhaps more logical part of Nates psyche knew that he was being ridiculous. His brain tortured him with memories of past failures, reminding him of his place in the world: the second son of a humble farmer with no money, no prospects and no worldly ambitions to speak of. He knew all this, and was quite aware of his position in the world. He was nothing more than a peasant. Time to head back, dont you think? Ettie finally spoke, her eyes tilted towards the sky. It was quickly growing dark, and storm clouds were sweeping over the horizon. Im sure itll rain, and I dont fancy being outside when it does she sighed, lowering her eyes on his with a slight smile. Her tone was light, but held humour in every syllable. Nate jumped slightly at her address; he thought he had been alone for the entirety of the journey. His cheeks reddened slightly as he answered. I didnt know you followed me he grumbled moodily, you shouldnt have come. Embarrassment tinted his features, temporarily distracted from his pending decision. The youth looked back across the bridge, letting his eyes wander closer to the distant forest he never dared enter. He always flirted with the concept, never quite getting there. The tumbledown stone bridge he stood in front of had always

kept him from crossing. Perhaps it was the state of the thing that made him wary, or the unknown dangers he would meet on the other side. Or maybe, it was simply the act of crossing over that had kept him for so long. The finality of it weighed deeply in his consciousness. Somehow, he knew that if he ever strayed far enough, he would never go back again. Well, I did follow you, cant change that, Ettie couldnt help feeling slightly impatient, her eyes drifting towards the foreboding storm clouds rolling closer with every passing minute. Nate glared at her defiantly, wordlessly daring her to continue. She smirked slightly before neatly tucking her dress behind her as she sat down, folding down the long blades of grass at her feet. What are doing? Nate frowned, furrowing his brow. It appears youre going to be a while, so I may as well get comfortable she yawned. Oh really? he huffed, aware that his attitude was souring. Dont bother, Im not going back. Ettie raised her eyebrows, mildly amused that he was upholding his charade. Yes, alright, she answered flatly of course youre not coming back this time she said rolling her eyes as she futilely brushed her hair out of her face. The wind was picking up, and like the weather, Etties mood was darkening. What s that supposed to mean? Nate snapped, clenching his fists heatedly. He turned from her, judging the distance once again from the bridge to the forest. His heart pounded loudly in his ears, making his thoughts muddy and confused. What do you think it means? You do this every time you get upset! You march up here until you calm down, and like always you go home. Not this time he spoke lowly and they stared at each other as silence swept over them once again. Ettie got up from her place in the grass; she could tell that it was pointless to argue with him any longer. Fine, lets go then she spoke flatly, walking past Nate. He watched in awe as her footsteps echoed off the old stone of the bridge, her gait never faltering for an instant. He gaped at her, unable to move until she reached the other side and turned around, waiting for him. As if years of uncertainty had vanished in an instant, he raced across the threshold of the bridge, running to catch up with the girl. Below him, frogs jumped into the water from their rocky thrones as his feet thundered over them. A low rumbling in the distance warned them once again that a storm was nearing. Finally, Nate reached the other side; a strange feeling began twisting within him. He scowled at her accusingly as he doubled over, catching his breath. She ignored him, turning on her heel as she began walking towards the forest. He stumbled, mouth open incredulously as he chased after her. What are you-youre not, you cant go! He stuttered, his voice growing louder and less coherent. The shock of crossing the bridge had loosened any sense the boy had left for speech. Ettie made no effort to stop or slow down as they approached the forest. The tree line grew ever closer and more ominous as the air around them thickened with moisture. Why shouldnt I? Ettie demanded, turning her eyes on the lad sternly.

Because your family needs you! Nate looked away as soon as the words left his mouth; Etties countenance had blackened, matching the skies that were now directly overhead. Oh, they need me do they? she asked, throwing her words like knives as she spoke. Im the only daughter of a blacksmith! My father has no hope of passing along the family trade to me. She looked away, tossing her hair over her shoulder as she did so. She started mumbling words under her breath. Nate only caught random phrases, some of which sounded suspiciously like would have been better if I was a boy and something that sounded similar to wouldnt miss me anyways. He watched her with a mixture of sympathy and irritation. She wasnt allowed to get angry with him! He was the one feeling upset, and now somehow she had managed to put him in an uncomfortable situation. But before he could come up with something to say, good or bad, he noticed they had been walking through the woods without realizing it. To his alarm, he had never planned what to do if he ever actually reached the forest. Ettie! Wait, where are we going? Nate shouted, grabbing her arm. This time, they both came to a stop. I thought-you mean? What? So, you didnt have a plan? Etties voice was barely audible. They both began to silently panic as they observed their surroundings. It was nearing dark, and the rough, overgrown path they had been trekking on seemed to vanish completely; they were lost. Rain had taken the woods almost as quickly as night had fallen. The two friends huddled together under a large oak tree. What little light the moon provided them was now completely gone; obstructed by the canopy and the rainclouds overhead. Thunder mingled with the sounds of the forest. Nate was sure somewhere in the distance he could hear a dog barking. Do you hear that? he whispered. Nate had been silent for a while, and wasnt surprised to feel Ettie start at the question. I think so, what do you think it is? she shivered closer to him, peering through the darkness. Im not sure, but I think its getting closer. He held his breath, listening hard for the barking noise. He could hear something moving towards them through the underbrush. His heart started hammering, overtaking all other sounds in his brain. Ettie began frantically pulling at Nate to stand up. They broke into a run, not caring which direction they were going. Their only desire was to put a good distance between themselves and whatever was coming towards them. They made their way, stumbling over roots and vine, tripping here and there over fallen logs and gashes in the wet earth. The thunder grew louder, drowning out all other sounds. It became nearly impossible to hear anything other than rain and the occasional lightning clap. During the run, Etties dress had caught and torn on several branches, forcing her to stop. Nate was nowhere to be seen, and no matter how hard she screamed, the wind howled even louder, as if trying to silence her. Cuts and bruises lined Etties exposed skin, making it difficult for her to move around. She had grown tired from the run, and cold from the rain; a hopeless feeling was taking hold of her. The girl gave up calling for Nate altogether, listening for any

sign of movement in the black of the forest. She could see things in the trees and bushes now; her eyes had become accustomed to the darkness. She couldnt be sure, but every now and again, small pairs of glowing dots would catch her eye, reminding her that she wasnt alone. When she would turn to look for them, they would vanish temporarily, existing only in her periphery; she was being watched, that was certain. From the maple tree where she had come to rest, Ettie could hear the sound of snapping twigs; something large was moving towards her. Its breathing could be heard over the calming rain, and one massive lightning flash illuminated the beasts silhouette. Bear! Ettie shrieked, causing the animal to charge towards her. She threw herself into a run, stumbling this way and that, crying. She chanced a quick look over her shoulder, and to her horror, she could just make out the blurry image of a large wolf running after her, followed by a towering shadowy figure behind it. Nooo! She pleaded desperately to no one. But it was too late: two large, wet paws collided hard with her back, knocking her down. For an instant while she was falling, everything flashed a brilliant white. Strangely, when she landed under the weight of the beast, the ground was dry. Ettie expected to, at any moment be ripped to shreds, torn to pieces by her attackers. But to her immense surprise and relief, the creature removed itself from her back, and began licking frantically at her ears and neck. Uhhn a voice moaned from the ground next to her, whyd you run? Nate?! Ettie struggled to right herself. Yeah, I was trying to find you. He spoke, helping her sit up. But look! Jennie found us out here! He patted what Ettie could now see was a dog, Nates collie, Jennie. She looked an awful mess: her long, beautiful red fur covered in earth and rain. Ettie smiled, imagining what she must look like. Im sorry, I thought for sure you were a bear or something! She laughed, catching the bewildered look on his face. Jennie wagged her tail happily, completely unfazed by their current position. Wait! Etties smile vanished, your familys probably worried sick about you! Why else would they send Jennie out here to look for us? They didnt send her, Nate retorted, stroking the canines ears fondly. She missed me, thats all. Isnt that right girl? He said playfully. She wagged her tail in approval, licking here and there at his cuts. I guess it doesnt matter how she got here, Ettie agreed, picking herself up. Im just happy she isnt a wild animal. She grinned appreciatively at the canine. Nate started snickering. Look at you! Youre absolutely filthy! he laughed. Well, youre no better! the girl snapped, we wouldnt even be in this state if you hadnt left home! What set you off this time? She yanked him roughly to his feet, recalling the pained look on his face as he burst through the front door of his house. Ettie had made sure to wear her favourite blue dress before making the two-mile walk to Scofeild farm. Hertfordshire had been her familys home for three generations, and the surrounding parishes had come to respect them for their fine craftsmanship. The farmlands her family lived amidst provided a steady need for her father and his work. The closest farm, Scofeild, was the most enjoyable for Ettie growing up. She would accompany her father whenever he went there, and could hardly be persuaded to go anywhere else. Two boys her age lived there, becoming

her favourite playmates. They became fast friends, spending nearly everyday together. Sometimes, Nate and John would walk Ettie home when it was time for her to go. Etties mother used to fuss over her lack of female companions; worried shed grow up to be unladylike. Unfortunately for her mother, Ettie grew up to be a fine tomboy, spending her sixteen years in the company of two farm boys. Try as she did, the blacksmiths wife could not stop her only daughter from walking, for what seemed like the thousandth time to Scofeild farm. It was completely futile, and somewhere inside, she knew Ettie loved that place. She loved the fields and the animals. She loved the peaceful way of life they had. She loved everything about the farm and the years she spent there, but more than anything, she loved Nate. She walked those miles to see him, everyday. Like always, she could see the farmhouse long before reaching it. It was a large, stone building with a neat little chimney that was always smoking, regardless of the weather. It was very old looking. Vines had grown all across the right half of house, and cracks were forming here and there in the face of the rock. Still, it was quite lovely. There was a sort of rustic beauty about it that enchanted all who visited. Ettie was almost at the threshold of her neighbours home when the door burst forth, making her jump out of the way. Nate barged past Ettie, yelling over his shoulder. Ettie called after him before he completely left the front walk, though, she got the same treatment as his parents. Still, she followed him. Nothing set me off, he grumbled bitterly. John wrote me. Oh. Ettie looked away sheepishly, reality flooding back, everything okay? Yeah, nothing serious happened or anything. He just wrote telling us that he wont be home for a long time. Said something about a coalition being formed. I didnt get a chance to read it myself, but father seemed thrilled. Kept going on and on about the bloody French, and how proud he was of John fighting in Wellesleys regiments. Nates face grew red and blotchy. I didnt want to hear it. Nate- No! he cut her off, hating the pity in her voice. John got leave Ettie! He got to escape this place, and Im stuck here, existing. Youd rather be in the militia then? Ettie spat angrily, crossing her arms over her chest. Youd rather die? Johns not dead! Hes out there, seeing things, living free. Nates eyes flashed dangerously. Etties hands began trembling, and she couldnt help but cry as she answered. You hate it here so badly do you? You hate it here with your family and Jennie? She started fidgeting with her dress, violently wiping tears out of her eyes as she continued. You hate it here with me? Nate stared at her, not knowing what to say. He looked away, angry with himself for hurting her. Jennie whined sadly at his hip, nudging each of them in turn. I dont even know where here is, said Nate, changing the subject. His eyes scanned their surroundings, taking everything in: the ground they had fallen on was completely dry, as was everything else around them. He moved past the dog and the girl, standing with his back to them, staring at the ground. Whats wrong? asked Ettie, finding her voice again. He didnt answer, but merely waved her off, motioning for her to follow. Nate, whatre you-

Look. Nate gestured to the place where they had collapsed just moments earlier. Day was breaking, and the dim light of the early morning was just enough to reveal shallow depressions in the ground: the place they had fallen. Yeah, we hit the ground pretty hard, didnt we? sighed Ettie. No, we didnt, Nate stepped, forward making small groove in the dirt with the heel of his boot. This is soft, there should be footsteps all through this path. Leading up to the crash, no marks of any kind could be seen. Thats impossible! Ettie ran forward, skidding here and there in the direction they came from. We ran this whole way! She looked frantically between Nate and Jennie. What about Jennie?! I dont see any paw prints! Upon being addressed, Jennie walked forward, tail wagging to receive attention, leaving a small trail of prints in her wake. Thats just it, nothing appears to be wet either, as if it never rained. Nate looked dazed, gazing towards the horizon. Looking horrified, Ettie crumpled to the ground, going over the nights events in her mind. She looked over her ruined dress, and the state of her body; they were all soaking wet from the rain, and covered in dirt. This isnt right. Ettie spoke quietly, almost to herself. She shook her strawberry blonde head, willing her mind to make sense of what had happened. It was dark, and we must have been confused. Nate spoke in the most convincing voice he could muster. Then how do you explain our clothes being wet? Ettie snarled. I dont know. said Nate, who was still looking towards the distant sky. But youre right, were not in the forest anymore. What are you talking about? Of course were still in the forest! Weve been lost in here the whole damn night! yelled Ettie. Oh, were in a forest of some kind. Thats for sure. But, were not where we think we are. Nate had a mad look in his eye, smiling slightly as he spoke. Ettie looked past her companion, and noticed the sun coming up through a small clearing in the trees. Nate! The sun! I know, theres two. Ettie couldnt move. She just stood, open-mouthed facing the spectacle. There in the sky was the sun, but orbiting around it just as clearly was a smaller glowing star, vanishing and reappearing with its sister in a brilliant dance. CHAPTER 1 - END