• ERIC BUTLER

The Ephraim Godwin Chronicles - The Early Years: The Awakening Part 15

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 14 contains Chapters 29 & 30.


CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE


"Honestly, I wasn't paying attention," Henry announced as he stood in the middle of the passageway. He held the torch out, searching through the murky light.


"That's all right," Ephraim said, struggling to keep the bite out of his tone. They were losing precious moments and he feared they would be too late to stop the giant's plan; whatever that may be. "Just take a deep breath and focus...I'm sure it will come to you."


"After all this time you choose now to find faith," Henry said with a sad smile.


He closed his eyes and after a few seconds, his lips moved silently. Ephraim bowed his head, hoping a little deference would help the cause. Or lead us to the way the giant left with Lady Farkus. As soon as Henry opened the cell, Ephraim rushed to the wall where they disappeared. They touched each brick, pushing on the crevices, and chipping at anything that stood out. Yet nothing happened and so they moved to the tunnels.


Ephraim gritted his teeth. I refuse to believe they just vanished. The thought appeared once again, before his mind wandered to his dream. The images flashed in a jumbled mess, leaving him confused about exactly what he dreamt. Was his mind trying to help him remember an important detail or was it just another nightmare from his time in the war?


He winced when a hand fell on his shoulder, grateful for holding in the cry of surprise he swallowed back down. Henry pointed down the tunnel with the torch and started forward. Ephraim sighed before following. At least we're moving again.


***


Lady Farkus woke on a bed of flowering vines. As she stretched and yawned, the vines shifted beneath her to keep her comfortable. She marveled at the sensation, content to slip back to sleep. A shadow fell over her, and she opened her eyes in curiosity. The horned giant studied her and nodded when he noticed she was awake.


"My dear Lady," his deep voice caressed her ears, "The time is nigh upon us."


He reached down and Selina stared at his hand, suddenly afraid of his touch. Don't be silly. Yet she made no move to take his hand. Rage danced across his eyes as his cheeks darkened in anger. She flinched as the giant clenched his jaw. He gestured once again, flexing his arm to emphasize his point.


"It seems the Lady needs more time," he said as she stayed frozen on the vines. He sighed and snapped his fingers. The vines slithered under her, no longer working to keep her comfortable but now looking to cover her in their thick green shoots.


Lady Farkus struggled to escape the green but the vines wrapped around her arms and legs before pulling her tight against the flowery bed. Her mouth opened but she wasn't sure if it was to plead or simply scream as the vines quickly wriggled over her and sealed her in a perfumed cocoon.


***


Baron Hall stalked through the fields outside his home. He had approached the barn in search of his favorite horse, but his mere presence sent the beast into such a panic it snapped its neck trying to escape through the wall. He frowned at the memory, disturbed the loss affected him so little. There was a time he loved that stallion above all else, but now...


His mind wandered away from the thought. There would be time later to dissect what was happening. It is for the best. Hall nodded as he strode away from the manor.


"Yes, the time is here to shed such mortal needs," the gem's voice echoing in his head.


Hall absentmindedly fingered his chest, the area still tender from the gem's invasion. The pain was gone, but he sensed a pulse that happened a half-second after his heartbeat. Since its placement, the gem worked to match his heart's rhythm.


Soon they would be one, and he would be closer to his dream of domination.


"We both will," the gem whispered in his head "Once the horned one is removed, no one will be able to stop us."


Hall nodded at the thought as he picked up his pace to a trot. This can be over as soon as I make it to Lady Farkus's abode. And then they would turn their attention towards the world.


CHAPTER THIRTY


Ephraim opened his mouth for the tenth time before closing it once again. Henry stalked down the third tunnel they had turned upon in the last hour, the torch held high in front of him. The first time he questioned his brother's choice of direction gained him a sharp look and a tongue lashing, unlike anything he'd experienced since leaving the military.


I shouldn't have asked if our wandering was all part of God's plan. He nodded at the thought, making a mental list of things not to say to his brother when lost underground; a list that seemed to be growing by the minute.


Ephraim pulled up, his head cocked to the side as he strained to listen. His hand shot out and gripped his brother's coat, pulling him to a stop. Henry spun around, anger clouding his face, but said nothing at the sight of Ephraim's face.


"Did you hear that?" Ephraim whispered so softly he worried Henry missed the words. Yet, he dare not ask again at a louder volume. Henry shook his head, remaining quiet.


A scrapping slither echoed down the tunnel. Henry's eyes widened at the noise, and Ephraim motioned for him to continue forward. The noise issued again, and he was sure it came from behind them. Most likely from the last tunnel, they turned from. It had the appearance of least used when they walked through it, but Ephraim simply hoped he was mistaken.


They hustled down the tunnel, with the scraping echo falling slowly behind. Ephraim pointed past his brother to an opening that exposed another offshoot. Henry stepped into the tunnel and gasped. Ephraim peered over his shoulder, disheartened to spy large rocks and piles of rubble blocked them from moving more than a few feet down.


"You've led us on a merry chase," a voice spoke from behind the brothers. "But now the game must end."



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