Inheritance: Part Seven
By the time Mabelle crawled into her bedding, her wrist was healed. Or, at least, it felt healed.
After Anhan sent Theo and the Ambassador away, the gypsy had brought her over to the table and started to dip some strips of linen into a pot filled with some herbal mixture. She then rested them on the table to let them dry, and let Mabelle question her, even if her answers were snippy. The Ixi found out that the Zafara had been traveling with the gypsies for at least fifty years, and that her name was Anhan. She spoke of a youth that was filled with magic and potions, and claimed that she had changed species at least five times. She also talked of living with some strange creatures that many believed to be myths, so Mabelle wasn’t sure how much of the talk was the Zafara trying to pull her leg.
After that the older pet had wrapped up her wrist, putting enough pressure in the binding to ease some of the pain, and after that it seemed as if the hurt had disappeared, like magic. When Mabelle questioned the Zafara to see if she was a sorceress or not, the gypsy just snapped at her to be quiet, and not to pry into things that were not her business. She set the Ixi’s bed up, giving her a thick quilt to sleep under and a few of her many pillows, and lanterns were blown out.
Now, however, it felt she were alone. The warm welcome she’d been feeling as Anhan attended to her was gone. Why? It wasn’t as if they were in danger at the moment. The gypsies were protecting them. Her aunt and uncle wouldn’t think to look here.
She turned over and frowned, bringing her hand to her forehead. She needed to stop worrying if she was going to get any sleep. She needed to listen to her sensible side, instead of her heart. In her experience it had been wrong just as often as it had been right.
Blankets rustled behind her, and then the soft thud of footprints. Anhan must be getting up to go do something. A few moments later the door creaked open, and a slight chill rushed over Mabelle’s skin as the night air swept in. It shut with a slam, and this time she actually was left to herself. Unable to get rid of her uneasy feeling, she pushed the blanket aside and sat up.
Some light flickered in through the window at the end of the wagon, but that was to be expected. However, what alarmed her was that she heard raised voices. Was that some of the others, objecting to her presence here? Hesitating for a moment, Mabelle cringed as she heard a particularly loud shout.
It wasn’t how she expected it to sound, however. Instead of in anger, the voice sounded desperate. Afraid. Had she not gotten to know Theo and the Ambassador in the last few days, she would have thought it was them, but it wasn’t. She picked herself up and walked over to the door.
Mabelle paled considerably.
Francois was outside, suspended in the air and surrounded by a brilliant golden light. His entire body was tense, as if he were pushing against something with all of his might, and Anhan was standing right in front of him, her hand radiating the same stuff. She looked furious, from what she could see of her. The Kougra must have done something horrible to incur such a punishment.
Well, that answered her question about whether the old gypsy had magic.
Anhan lowered her arm, and her son slumped to the ground. He gasped, laying still for a moment as he breathed deeply, before looking up at his mother. She simply sneered and walked off.
Mabelle stood there for quite some time, too shocked to do anything else. For the first time since they had been guaranteed their safety here for the night, she was unsure of their benefactor. That look had not been the one of the gruff but kind pet who helped them earlier, but that of somebody who took pleasure in harming others.
Perhaps she was simply getting ahead of herself. She had always been one to predict the most extreme of any situation, and this was their haven. Still, she didn’t feel completely at ease, so she quietly opened the door and stepped outside. She was going to check on the others, and if they were alright and told her everything was okay, she was going to take their word for it and force herself to go back to bed.
Despite her misgivings, as she walked through the camp she noticed that everybody was asleep. The only ones awake seemed to be the sentries, who were walking as though they were trained soldiers. She began to stride confidently, instead of agonizing over each step.
Where were they? Theo and the Ambassador were not sleeping with the men, of whom many were sleeping around the fire. Could Anhan have changed her mind and sent them to rest in another wagon, instead? She frowned, and her eyebrows scrunched up in worry. She silently pleaded within herself that everything was not as it was starting to appear.
She rounded the corner of one of the wagons, and jumped. Sitting down and tied up were her two missing companions, and not far from them were Alan and Frederick, who were suffering the same fate. She accidentally bumped into a small pail, and knocked it over.
The loud clank resulting from it seemed to give energy to her limbs. She lunged down toward the nearest of them—which happened to be Theo—and began untying his wrists, her fingers clumsy with speed. As soon as he was free, he untied his feet and began to work on the Ambassador, who was watching them intently.
Anhan had betrayed them. Mabelle called herself a fool as she worked, inwardly kicking herself for her stupidity. She should have run the moment she was by herself instead of pushing her hope to ridiculous lengths. She was always the one to make the worst decision. Maybe she should have let herself stay with her Aunt and Uncle.
Before she knew it, all of them were untied. She pulled the last length of rope away from Alan’s front legs, and stood up.
“What are we going to do now?” she asked, figuring that it was yet another incredibly unintelligent question.
“We have to figure out a way to get past the sentries without alerting them,” said Theo, lifting his head up and looking around as if he expected somebody to turn the corner at any moment. “We could knock them out, but that would be too obvious.”
“We’ll sneak over to the back of the camp, boy,” said Ambassador Borano. “That witch is over this way, and it’ll do no harm to hope that maybe that will be a spot less traveled, unless anybody else has a better idea.” He looked at the two Unis. “Do you think you boys can walk quietly?”
“The ground is hard,” said Frederick, “but I think we can do it.”
“Good. Let’s go.”
Theo grabbed her hand, and grinned at her reassuringly. Immediately some of the anxiety washed away, and she allowed him to pull her along, ducking behind barrels and hiding from plain view. It reminded her of when they were little and sneaking into the kitchen to snatch an illegal treat, minus the part where they were running for their lives. Goosebumps swept across her skin, and she shivered.
The snap of a twig brought her attention back to the present. The large Kyrii was crouched behind a large crate, his face impassive as he peered over it, and motioning toward them to move closer. They crouched down as they practically crawled toward him, but the Unis held back.
“So where is she?” asked a voice. Shock made her freeze in place, and then frustration replaced it. Was anything going to go well for them? Her aunt scolded Anhan, speaking shrilly. “You sent us a message not long ago, telling us you had her.”
“Don’t worry,” said the Zafara. “In fact...”
All of a sudden, Mabelle couldn’t move. It wasn’t because she was scared anymore, either. Like Francois before her, she was surrounded by gold, with her only sense of autonomy being that she could breathe of her own accord. Theo fell backward, and the Ambassador shouted with surprise. Forces outside of the Ixi made her body pick itself up from her kneeling position, and drew her away from their hiding spot, step by step. Mabelle tried desperately to will her limbs to go the other way, but to no avail.
It was as if she had fallen back into a nightmare when she found herself staring at the faces of her aunt and uncle, who were smirking at them as if they were Kadoaties who got into the cream. Anhan’s finger twitched as her magic worked its horrible wonder, and she wore an expression of self-satisfaction that was so great it would’ve made her sick had she possessed the ability to do so.
“Get the others and put them back where we left them,” she said, and several pets ran toward the tents. Mabelle’s heart lightened as she saw the Lupe and Kyrii run off. At least they had a chance of escape. The Zafara then turned toward her captive. “You, dear, should really watch how a pet puts on your dressing. The slightest prick could do a lot of damage.”
The Ixi’s cheeks burned as she remembered how Anhan had ‘accidentally’ poked her with a needle as she made sure her bandage stayed wrapped.
“Bind her up and put her in my wago—”
A huge bang erupted from behind them, and the three of them whipped around. The glow disappeared from around Mabelle, and she dropped to the ground, collapsing. When she looked up, she could see a tall pyre of flames reaching up for the sky.
To be continued...