Caution: Quills may be sharp Circulation: 119,635,638 Issue: 241 | 26th day of Hunting, Y8
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The Marked Ones: Part One


by liannachick

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"Stop!" cried Alana. The wind rustled the brown Acara's coat and rushed dust into her eyes. She ran faster through the pouring rain while thunder clapped in her ears and lightning made streaks of yellow run in her eyes. She cried to stop once more, but there was no chance; the thief was too far ahead. She stopped running and watched the thief escape, his cape twisting in the wind. Once he was out of sight, she turned around and faced the wind; she then trudged through the pouring rain and huge puddles and found her family standing outside, waiting, with fearful looks on their faces. Once they saw the look of despair on Alana's face, they knew that it was gone. It had protected Alana's family for many years; these were dangerous times with the wars and kidnappings.

     "So, the Eternal Amulet is gone?" asked Alana's young daughter, Ally, a small green Acara.

     "I'm afraid so," Alana replied sadly. She looked around the small village and at their quaint cottage. A long, large lightning flashed and the family of five hurried inside their cottage and locked the door. Alana was the last to enter, she grabbed her wrist in pain and pushed up her long tattered sleeve, the golden mark on her wrist was glowing and she knew she let her family and the village down…

     They lived in a small part of Meridell which was suffering from poverty from the wars. It began with Lord Darigan, but now someone new was attacking them and no one knew who or why.

 

      "Eighteen, nineteen, twenty!" Ally called. She stood in a shady clearing on the outskirts of the village where she lived. Three years had passed since the stormy night when the family treasure was stolen. "I'm going to find you!" she called to her little brother Eric. Ally was eleven and Eric was five. She looked around trees, stumps, and grassy hedges, and finally found him.

     "Boo!" he cried and jumped into her arms. They both fell down laughing. "My turn!" Eric yelled, as they both stood up. It was nice to play outside again.

     Ally heard something in the distance, "Wait," Ally said, hushing him, a tone of urgency in her voice.

      When everything was quiet she could clearly hear someone yelling; the sound was coming from the direction of her home. Pulling Eric with her she ran to the edge of the clearing and stood behind a large green tree. A crowd of villagers were gathering around her house!

      "What's going-" Eric began to ask, but Ally hushed him. "Follow me and stay very quiet," she said, dashing from tree to tree and bush to bush pulling Eric along with her. She reached her house to find it on fire… again.

      "Did you see that?" one loud yellow Pteri was saying, "He just ran in here and set the whole thing on fire! Did you see it? Was I the only one?" The Pteri was wearing a large red dress that was frilly, puffy, and discolored.

      By now the fire was almost under control. Ally's parents and other helpful villagers were running back and forth from the small stream near the cottages and dumping water on the house with pails. Ally watched with fright. Why did this keep happening? When was it going to stop? She wanted to cry, but she couldn't. She had to look brave so Eric wouldn't get scared. "It's okay," she told him. "The fire's almost out; it will be gone soon." Eric hugged her and nodded.

      When most of the crowd had disappeared, Ally and Eric walked over to their mother, father, and older brother. "What happened, Mom?" Ally asked, putting her arm on her mother's shoulder.

      "I'll tell you what happened!" said the loud, obnoxious, Pteri, Petunia. "Some sneaky looking Eyrie walked into our village. Most people didn't pay much attention to him, but I watched him, I saw him do everything! He just walked over here with a little potion, and POOF the place went up in smoke! But don't worry, little guys," she gave each of the children a peck on the cheek and the adults a knowing look, "I'll be here to help! Well, I think most people want to know exactly what happened, so I'll be on my way to fill them in!" She walked away.

     "Eeewww!" Eric yelled, furiously wiping his cheek with his paws.

     "Why does she always have to get into everything?" Ally asked, very annoyed. "Can't she ever mind her own business? I don't care if she is here to help, I don't want her help! And if she was watching this guy the whole time, why didn't she do something?"

     "Well, that's just her nature, honey. She tries to help, I think," Alana said, putting her arm on Ally's shoulder.

     After Ally collected herself and was calm again, she asked, "Did you look in the house yet? Is anything ruined?"

     "We didn't check yet," Alana said. They walked into the house. A patch of the roof was burnt away, and the small couch and table were burnt badly. The old raggedy rug was fringed at one end, and some papers were lying on the floor, black. "There isn't too much damage," Alana continued, inspecting the place. "We are lucky. We will need to get the roof patched. Can you do that, Jason?" she asked her eldest son, who was a fifteen year old brown Lupe with patches of white and black on his face and paws. His face was stiff and hard.

     "I will, but why? It will just happen again! This is the second time, and it's already happened to some of the other houses here! This place is not safe." He stomped out of the house. He used to be very kind and happy before the wars, when he was young. Alana watched him sadly.

     Ally was lying awake in bed. She shared the small room with her brothers since the cottage was small. There were three other rooms: the largest room, a combined kitchen and living room, a second bedroom for her parents, and a small bathroom. She heard her parents talking in the other room.

     "What are we going to do? If this doesn't stop, we will all be in danger. It all happens when we least expect it. I finally thought it would be safe enough to let the kids play outside today, but it wasn't. If the circumstances were a little different they could have been in great danger," Alana said, staring in to her husband's deep brown eyes. He was a red Lupe.

     "I know," he said. "I want to move away from here and find a sunny farm in a different place where the kids can grow up happily. I know I've said this to you before, and I don't understand why you object."

     "It wouldn't matter," Alana said, "I know why they're here. Anyway, did you see where the Eyrie went?"

     "I saw him run into the trees, but what did you say? You know why they are here?"

     Ally sat up in bed so she could hear more clearly. No one in any of the villages knew why the attacks were taking place, or so she thought. Her mom knew why these wars and small events were happening and she never said anything?

     Alana pushed up a sleeve of her long stained brown dress and revealed the small golden glowing mark. "It only glows when there is danger."

     "What is that?" her husband asked, taking her arm and examining it. "How come I have never seen this before? Why do you have it?"

     Ally couldn't see what they were talking about. She craned her head so she could listen more closely. Suddenly she gasped and grabbed her wrist. After breathing hard for a minute she uncovered her wrist and saw a strange, small, glowing mark that she had never seen before. It showed two diamonds attached with a circle in the middle of them. In the middle of the circle there were strange signs and vines reaching up. She couldn't stop staring at her wrist, and she missed the rest of her mother's story.

     The next day began as usual. "Ally!" Eric cried when he woke up in the morning.

     "Hold on!" Ally said, walking over to her little brother's bed. "What do you want?" she asked in a sweet little voice, picking him up.

     "Juice," Eric said.

     "Then let's go get some!" she replied. When they got to the kitchen Ally got him some orange juice and talked happily to him, although inside she was very anxious to speak to her mom. She looked at her wrist and could faintly see the marking that she could see so clearly the night before.

     "Do you want to play hide and seek again?" Eric asked.

     "Not today, I need to help Mommy with chores. Maybe you can do something with Daddy."

     The whole day Ally tried to get her mom alone, but couldn't do so without being obvious. People kept crowding Alana and asked about the fire. Then Alana would do chores in the kitchen where, very close by, Eric was playing a game on the floor with their dad. It was very frustrating for Ally. Finally she got her mom alone in her bedroom.

     "Mom," Ally said cautiously.

     "What is it, sweetie?" her mom asked, looking her in the eye.

     "I've been wanting to tell you something all day," Ally said looking away. There was a long pause.

     "Well, what is it?" Alana asked, sitting on the bed, pulling Ally with her.

     "I heard you talking with dad last night and…" Ally told her mom the whole story of what she had heard and what she had discovered.

     "Can I see the marking?" Alana asked delicately. Ally rolled up the sleeve of her old yellow dress and pointed at the unfamiliar marking. "I see," Alana said, studying it and comparing it with her marking. They were the same.

     "So what does it mean exactly? And why are the people attacking us?" Ally asked.

     "Well," said Alana, "It's a long story. It all began with the war with Lord Darigan. You weren't alive then, and I was pretty young myself. Lord Darigan and his minions brutally attacked the people of Meridell and so there was a big war going on. Illusen came to help us with the war and she cast a spell. All people who had pure hearts and brave souls would find a marking on their wrist which would glow in times of danger. Few people got these markings, but those people had a very important destiny. They had to protect Meridell and were a key part in the war. We defeated Lord Darigan, as I think you already know. But now I have a suspicion that Lord Darigan's followers are back, and are trying to kill off all of the marked ones, so they can take over the world. I think they are also taking all the tools that were given to us, to use against us. That is just my theory."

     Ally nodded. "So you think that is why our amulet was stolen?"

     "Yes, it was a very powerful tool. As long as it was around, no harm could come to us. So if someone evil has it, no harm could go to them. I have been talking to people and thinking about this so much. My ideas may be correct."

      That night, while Ally was lying awake in bed she thought about all that her mother had told her. If her mother was correct somebody out there was out to kill her and her mother. But her mother said it was up to the marked ones to protect Meridell back then, so they must have to protect it now.

     I am a marked one, I have to protect Meridell, Ally thought. So many bad things were happening and she was just sitting around. She made up her mind; she was going to run away and save the world! She knew it sounded crazy and she had no idea what she could do, but she was determined.

To be continued...

 
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