• ERIC BUTLER

The Ephraim Godwin Chronicles - The Early Years: The Awakening Part 11

This story takes place 5 years before the first Ephraim Godwin Chronicle Serial. It will be longer than a simple stand alone story so I will be releasing parts of the tale every Wednesday. Part 11 contains Chapters 21 & 22.

CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE


Lady Selina Farkus sat on the edge of her bed. It would be night soon; a day and a half...then freedom. A sad smile flittered to her lips at the thought. Freedom was something she thought she would never truly have. Then the gods intervened, demanding my first sacrifice, but promising me retribution.


Her fingers slipped to her stomach, feeling the long scar through her dress. Lady Farkus's eyes glazed over as she thought back to that day when fate stepped in to show her the destiny planned for her.


***


Deep in the forest, away from the eyes of her people and from the Baron's men, Selina sat on a patch of soft earth in a small clearing. Her back rested against a thick oak, and while the sun warmed her skin and dried her tears, she slipped into a peaceful slumber.


"Wake up child," a deep voice said, each syllable a rumble.


Selina woke with a gasp. A giant stood in the clearing, as broad as he was tall, he held himself with a grace Selina had never seen before. His face was wider than a normal man's, stretching his features and giving him an exotic appearance around his mouth and eyes. Long dark hair hung to his waist, unkempt and wild like the man himself she suspected. But the most extraordinary thing about the giant in front of her was the beautiful horns growing from his head.


The set of antlers sprang from his hair and stretched out towards the heavens. The man stepped closer and offered a smile as bright and warm as the sun had been earlier. He reached out and after a moment's hesitation, Selina grabbed his hand. The giant led her to the center of the clearing and turned to face her.


"Are you ready my child to fulfill your destiny?"


Selina nodded, aware his offer was better than what she planned to do this day. If he came too much later, my fate would have been sealed.


"The words child," the giant rumbled.


"I am ready," Selina whispered, "for my destiny."


The giant reached out and cupped the side of her head. He offered her another smile and slipped his hand to her shoulder. With his free hand, he pressed his palm against her stomach.


"There is a price, a price you must give up freely...but I sense this will be no problem," the giant said as his touch radiated with heat. Selina's knees grew weak, and she fought to stay standing.


"Any price... I must know," she begged as her body grew weaker by the second. "The cards spoke to me, with each flip they told me of a great destiny, but I did not believe...help me believe."


The giant threw back his head and roared in laughter, "My child, having the Baron's spawn is no destiny. Compared to the power I am prepared to offer you, the Baron's gift is but a curse. So you have a choice, my child, accept his curse and stay a slave or reject his curse and become all-powerful.

"How did you know?" Selina asked with a voice so meek it seemed she truly wanted no answer...


The suspected outcome, confirmed earlier, was never in doubt for her. The Baron simply appeared and forced his way into her wagon every night for a week. Her face burned hot as she remembered how her people ignored her cries for help. How they pretended to not know what the Baron was doing every night, and left her to suffer through the day in terrified suspense.


Those visits lasted for seven nights, then stopped. Selina's stomach tightened as she thought of those nights after his visits, the constant dread of waiting for him to arrive. Yet he did not return, although fourteen days later his man did. And he came bearing gifts for her and her people. Selina refused, but her people accepted him and the Baron's gifts without hesitation. Her stomach turned at the thought.


A week later the man, Mr. Risewell returned, an old gypsy woman in tow. Selina recognized the woman, as did the whole clan, for she was the most powerful seer for many leagues in any direction. They entered Selina's wagon, and there in the shadows the woman performed a number of tests; pausing only long enough to whisper in Mr. Risewell's ear.


When she completed her examination, she offered a nod and cupped Selina's chin, forcing her eyes to rise before saying a single heart-wrenching word, "Felicitari."


Selina fought the urge to scream as the word hung heavy upon her. She pushed past the two and burst from the wagon, sprinting towards the lush green forest. She glanced back as she approached the edge, noting all watched her but none followed...


Selina blinked, her eyes refocused on the giant as her memories faded. She stepped back, spreading her arms wide in surrender. She would do anything to end this nightmare...had planned to do something quite permanent but if the giant could offer more, well she would not hesitate.


Her eyes widened as a shocked breath slipped past her lips. The giant rammed his horns through her stomach, the pain overwhelmed her senses and Selina slumped to the ground as a pool of her blood spread around her.


"Sleep child," the giant said, his voice fading away as he spoke, "When you awake, we will begin to return the land to the wild and exact revenge on those that have wronged you."


***


The memories faded, brought Selina back to her room, her hand still resting on the scar. Twenty-five years she had waited for her revenge, and she finally stood on the precipice. Did I make the right choice? In the end, will the cost have been too high?


These doubts started the day she ran across the Vicar and his brother, two intriguing men. Two intriguing distractions at the very least; But she had come too far, sacrificed everything for her revenge...nothing and no one could get in the way of that.


Selina glanced at the mirror in the room and gasped as the giant stood behind her. He stooped low, wrapped his thick arms around her, his lips tickling her ear as he whispered, "So close my child, so close to the wild taking over this land, and your vengeance being completed."


CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO


Risewell stood in the kitchen, the sack from Lady Farkus clutched tightly in his left hand. He inspected its contents on the walk back and surprisingly found more of the same brownish powder she had provided before. Don't know why I expected something different? But honestly, he had thought the final dose would be something new.


Although, once he thought about the situation, the same was fine. Better than fine. He would serve it once again in the Baron's favorite dessert, the only way to ensure it is consumed. Once it was over, Risewell wondered how long he'd have to wait for the final act of the Baron.


Lady Farkus shared nothing of her plan, except when absolutely unavoidable. Risewell wondered if the two realized how alike they were to each other. Probably not, but those type of people rarely do. If he was being honest, it was exciting to be rid of one of them soon. Then he could focus on the good Lady.


He poured the sack's contents into the Lord's pudding. The sack he laid to the side as he finished up, but it would soon join the others in the fireplace. Not a wise idea to leave gypsy magic lying about. Laughter bubbled to his lips at the thought. A sharp pain in the middle of his back stole his breath. His laughter died, coming out a wet gasp instead.


The pain doubled as something twisted around his spine. The Baron's face slid next to Risewell's from behind. He wore the smile of a madman, and Risewell's bladder released. The pain increased as the Baron pressed his cheek against Risewall's.


"Do you think me a fool?" he hissed, spittle splashing against Risewell's face. "DO YOU!"


Risewell shook, terror building in his chest until it dwarfed the agony shooting through his limbs. The pain in his back dulled and red bubbles popped as the butler battled for breath. The Baron's tongue slipped out, running up Risewell's cheek.


"You are cahoots with the witch, and by the end of the night you will both be dead."


Risewell's eyes struggled to stay open as the Baron let the man fall to the kitchen floor. Squatting down, the Baron held up a large knife he brought back from the war.


"Before you leave I have one more service for you to complete," he said as he slid the blade into his servant's soft belly.



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