Thursday, February 9, 2017

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Learning to Burn, part 22

Please start at the beginning.  And remember... you're reading my unedited first purge of this story.  It'll be better after I read it over... I think. hehehe

Ofonode jumps out of sleep and onto his feet. “Did you have another dream?” Os asks.
“Yes. We need to leave now.”
Binia's lizard head raises slightly and Eminghare has risen on an elbow. Oseratin addresses them, “We must leave immediately. Ofonode has dreams that come to life very soon after he wakes. We must depart.”
The groups is running with Os in the lead and Binia bringing up the back in the early morning darkness within five minutes of Ofonode waking. Their senses on high alert, they pay careful attention to their path to avoid falling.
“We fast approach the place. We must run harder. They will be ready for us if we take too long!” Ofonode pushes himself and comes head-to-head with Os. He glances back and is relieved to find both Eminghare and Binia keeping up very well.
“So we are running toward the problem, I gather.” Os seems to speak as though they were on a mild saunter in the best of circumstances. Ofonode wonders as the invisian's ability to run to hard and fast and breath as though he isn't.
“Yes.” Breathing hard, he pauses between each word, “If we didn't we would be caught. They wanted most to hurt you and Binia. We must run faster.” Ofonode pushes himself harder and gets a little ahead of Os before the invisian increases his pace.
“All will be well. We were up and away much faster than last time and we made it through that, didn't we. The Lord is on our side. We'll make it through this, too!”
Ofonode feels himself relax into running and is able to push himself a little harder as a result. He glances back a few times to check on the other two. Binia looks just like Ofonode. Eminghare, though, looks like this pace may be getting to her. We have to get far enough past the place to avoid the attack. Where was it? That… yes, it was there. It's only a little bit farther and we can slow down a little.
“Have we raced far enough, Ofonode?” Binia asks, sounding a bit worried and Ofonode is sure she is worried about Eminghare.
Still breathing hard and having a difficult time speaking Ofonode responds, “Not yet. Must get far enough past the place. We only passed it a moment ago.” He can hear Eminghare breathing raggedly behind him and dares not look to check on her. He looks, instead, at Os. He's sure his eyes are pleading with his friend.
Os speaks nothing, but slows slightly. When Ofonode sees him out of the corner of his eye again, his anxiety for Eminghare dissipates. The girl is in Oseratin's arms. How in the world did he pick her up while running? And now running as fast as he was before… this guy is amazing! Os, unaware of Ofonode's exact thoughts, but seeing the boy's relief over the girl, smiles. His breathing is no longer with ease and he is concerned over his ability to maintain the pace long, but he is pleased that his young friend cares so deeply for this girl. She is just special enough for him and Os finds himself hoping that the two will choose to spend their lives together.
“I think we can slow our pace for a bit.” Ofonode doesn't really know how far past the point of ambush they should run, but he feels so tired they have to slow down because he can't keep going like this.
They run and run, slower than at first. Surprising as it seems to him, Binia calls to Ofonode and Oseratin from what sounds like a bit of a distance, “Stop. We need to rest.” The two stop and turn to watch as Binia catches up. She doesn't look winded or uncomfortable with the run as she reaches them. Ofonode looks to Os wondering why she would ask them to stop when she looks like she's having no trouble with it at all. Os shrugs.
“I'm tired. Surely we've run far enough now.”
Again Ofonode looks to Os. “Have we run far enough now?” Os asks his young friend.
“I… I guess so. I mean, for now. We can take a short rest, I guess.” Ofonode is grateful that someone else has called for a break, but he feels uneasy that it is Binia because she seems perfectly fine to keep going. And why was she so far behind us? I never heard her breathing get uneven or difficult… when did she fall behind?
Ofonode loses track of his thoughts as the group settles for a rest and a bite to eat. Oseratin has a difficult time waking Eminghare. She doesn't wake completely, but enough so that she can eat a few bites and falls back into what seems a deep sleep.
“Maybe we should stay here for the night. Eminghare doesn't look like she's doing well.”
The hair on the back of Ofonode's neck rises. He knows the words Binia has just spoken are good and probably true, but something about them sets him on edge. What is it? Why am I so troubled?
In his mind, Ofonode hears words that are not his own, “I, too, am troubled. We should not stay here. I do not know what is amiss, but Binia's words do not fit or feel right.”
Ofonode feels great comfort in the hope that Os is speaking directly to his mind and that his friend has confirmed his own irrational-seeming concern.
“We must go on. I think we're still too close to the place in my dream.” Ofonode speaks, closely watching Binia. She seems to tense and frown slightly at his words, but recovers herself quickly.
“And I can carry Eminghare much farther. She weighs so little.”
“Stopping now or later will not matter much. We won't reach a town or anything before nightfall. We should stop here and rest until she is completely well.”
Anger swells in Ofonode's heart and explodes out of his eyes and sparks from the ends of his hair, fingers, and toes. He feels completely surprised by the fire bursting from him, yet also completely comfortable with it, which is a first. His flame circles his head and holds there. Flickering in the air. “We must continue. I do not know where we will rest for the night of if we will walk through the night, but we will not stop here. We will leave in a few minutes.”
Binia cowers away from Ofonode. As he stares at her through the flames of his fire, he sees a shimmer and shift… as if she changes slightly. He can't quite figure out what he's seen, but feels sure it's as if some of Binia's features have changed from her own to another person's for the briefest moment. What is going on here?
“What troubles you, my young friend?” Os asks in his mind.
I'm not sure because I'm not sure what I've seen!
“Try to tell me and we can puzzle over it together.”
There. It just happened again! As I stare at Binia, it seems… I don't know… it seems like some of her features change and she's not quite Binia any more. But that can't be… can it?
“It should not be, that is for certain, but it is possible. Perhaps this is why we have felt troubled each time she speaks even though she has said fitting things… Yes, that would make it all fit together.”
What? What makes it all fit?
“Binia fell behind. None of us saw her for some unknown amount of time. When she caught up, she seemed untired by our run. It could be that this is not Binia at all, but a camouflaged invisian of the Drack Order.”
Drack Order? What is that?
“No need to get into the details of is not. Suffice it to say that they are those who are against and fight those like me of the Holy Order.”
An invisian has taken Binia?
“Likely those you saw in your dream. I'm sure it's more than one. Only one could not take Binia down.”
So, that means they have her?
“Almost certainly.”
How do we get her back?
“We must restrain this one and then I will enter a menspar and, hopefully, obtain her location. We can determine what we will do after we know where she is.”
What should I do?
“Restrain this one.”
Me. By myself?
“Yes. You are more than capable. Don't you see how comfortable you are in your flame? It is still about your head. Bring it to your hands and hold this interloper. You are unlikely to truly damage it unless you flare uncontrollably.”
What do I do?
“Figure it out as you go along. I'll follow your lead. I still hold Eminghare, remember.”
Still staring at the fake Binia, Ofonode stands, “It's time to go now. We've had a long enough rest. I think it would be a good idea for you to lead and set the pace, Binia. Since you fell behind before. We don't want to lose you or for you to get hurt and we don't know it!”
Binia nods, rises, and takes the lead. She runs smoothly and doesn't look a bit tired. Ofonode follows with Os, holding Eminghare, taking up the rear.
The group runs a few miles when Ofonode sees a potentially protective outcropping that has the regular curve, but also an almost-roof. With a burst of speed, he catches up to the Binia look alike and, allowing himself to feel anger and imagining the anger flow into in his hands, grabs both of the faker's upper arm in his flaming hands. He slows and lifts the invisian so that he doesn't trip in the maneuver.
“I was thinking we could take shelter under that outcropping while you do whatever you need to do.”
“Yes. That sounds like a good plan. I will rest Eminghare on the ground away from the interloper. If you can lay it down, it may be easier for you to restrain it while we battle.”

“Battle? What do you mean?”
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