Updated: Feb 3, 2021
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 22 contains Chapters 42 & 43.
The sky shifted from a bright blue to a dark gray as clouds rolled in from the west. Ephraim welcomed them as they provided relief from the relentless sunlight. He licked his dry and cracked lips, instantly regretting the decision as his tongue caught and tore on the dry and crusty scabs.
Ephraim stumbled to his knees as the first drop of rain struck his cheek. Maybe the storm will offer a brief respite from the continuous battle. The bodies, now piled higher than he stood were becoming more of an impediment than a functional defense. The stench was quite overwhelming and there was no rhyme or reason dictating when they might tumble down.
He had been trapped more than once under an unexpected pile of the dead; their weight slowly suffocating and crushing not only his physical body but his psyche as well. Who would have guessed being trapped under corpses would have such a negative effect? Laughter burst from his chest followed very quickly with a low groan of discomfort.
Will I ever gain relief from this? As if to answer his thought, a thunderclap sounded as the clouds opened up and rain began to pour. Tears joined the rain which ran freely down Ephraim's cheeks. He welcomed the cool raindrops as they washed over his battle-weary flesh. He watched in amazement as the bodies slowly melted down into the earth until they all disappeared and there was only mud surrounding him.
Ephraim leaned forward, placing his palms flat on the saturated soil. He sat like this for a moment before clenching his hands around the cool sodden earth, relishing the battle stopping as much as the cleansing rainfall. It seemed an eternity since he had been allowed a true break. His body shuddered as the tension released from his muscles while the rain continued to pour down.
Lightning streaked through the sky, offering quick blasts of illumination onto the now cleared battlefield. Ephraim glanced up; amazed at the distance he could now view after seeing only piles of the dead. Thunder boomed overhead, pounding on his eardrums like some mad drummer before the rainfall grew in intensity. Ephraim kept his eyes on the horizon, waiting for more lightning. There's something out there. The thought gave him pause, but the longer he waited for confirmation the surer he grew. Something was moving this way...something big.
Ephraim took a deep breath. Whatever it was, he would not face it on his knees. As he moved to stand, fingers rose from the dirt and wrapped around his wrists. He watched in horror as his hands disappeared into the muck. As he struggled to free himself, a force pulled harder. Lightning flashed, showing him how deep his arms were now under the soil.
He slumped to his stomach as the mud slid past his elbows, then his biceps, and finally both arms. Ephraim turned his head to take one last breath before his whole body sunk under the mire.
Henry sat at the table in his kitchen. Judging from the shadows, it was late afternoon. Dinner would be soon. Where is Ms. Morris? His lips parted as he took in a deep breath to call out her name when a knock came from the front door. Who could that be?
Henry stood, trying to remember the last time he had a visitor. Shaking his head as his face reflected his bewilderment, he hurried to find out who might be at the door. Another round of knocking sounded.
"I'm coming," he called out, more to encourage them to wait than to end the pounding.
Henry pulled open the door, "Hello, hello..."
No one was there. He stepped outside, looking left then right but still found no one. He scratched at his chin as he moved to enter the house. His mind otherwise occupied, Henry slammed into the now-closed door. Stumbling backward, he fell to the ground with a groan. First no Ms. Morris and now this?
"The church is safer," a voice called out.
"Lady Farkus?" Henry asked as he glanced around, still not seeing anyone. He pushed to his feet, wobbling on the way up as his head pounded.
He blinked as he rubbed the back of his head. Your church. The words more appearing in his head than spoken aloud moved his attention from his home to the building up the road. Henry shrugged and walked over to his home away from home.
As he entered he called out, "Hello?"
For a moment the only answer was silence, but as he made up his mind to return to his home in hopes of finding Ms. Morris cooking dinner, a tiny splash came from the font near the back of the sanctuary. Henry inched closer, suddenly wary of what might be there.
He peaked over the edge and gasped as he stared at Lady Farkus's face, "However did you get in there?"
"Henry, dear, we've no time for questions," she said fading in and out with each word. "I chose this because he has no power here. He must not know I've helped you in any way."
"Who...the Baron?" he asked before sighing, "or the rather tall fellow?"
Lady Farkus simply nodded before continuing, "You will need to remove the stone from the Baron's chest to have any hope of stopping him. Once he is down, you must cut it out, or he will return even stronger...every rebirth only enhances his abilities."
Henry opened his mouth to interrupt, but she held up her hand and waved him quiet. Her eyes lingered on his face a moment then she continued, "Wait until he defeats the giant's champion. The Godwin Brothers are not equipped to deal with both. Do you understand?"
"No time. I am using the little abilities I have as of now to explain this to you. You will need to get your brother. The giant will be occupied when you awake. Follow your favorite color until you find him. I'm so sorry dear Henry Godwin. If only we met earlier," she said, the finality in her voice tearing at his heart in a way he hadn't expected.
Henry woke with a groan. His head pounded, and a sharp stick jabbed him in the small of his back. How did that not wake me up sooner? The giant stood near the largest pod Henry had ever laid eyes on. It shook and twisted as if something was trying to emerge from within.
A blue butterfly fluttered around his head, tapping him on each cheek until he finally focused on it. Is this what she meant? He studied the insect as it moved around the clearing before flying in the opposite direction of the pod. Well...either way, it takes me from the giant.
Henry crawled away until he slipped into the foliage. Confident no one was following, he stood and began to chase after the small burst of blue leading him away.
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