The Stone Call
Author: Stephanie Bretherton

Chapter 2
The Prophecy

11.14am.
Bragverla

Aeridel walked contentedly towards the fields she had always ventured through as a child. Her life was simple, no danger, and no evil, just peaceful and happy. However, the burden she carried from her parents was kept alone, for the reason she left home to stay in the fields was to master a magic, which is forbidden in her lineage.
Her auburn hair hung loose past her elbows, shining in the afternoon sun. She whistled a merry folklore song, which she had learnt from a passing storyteller.
Then she stopped, frozen by what she saw as before her lay two people; a boy and a girl, dressed in strange clothes and remaining motionless.
Aeridel shouted for help until every ounce of her lungs had gone.
A crowd of people soon emerged as she was gasping for breath, looking confused and dazed as the sight of these two youngsters suddenly disrupted the peace that wrapped protectively around Telbrek.
Murmurs spread through the people as to who the fallen were, and where they had come from.
Then, the crowd parted, to make way for an elderly woman, limping heavily and relying on her strangely shaped staff towards the pair.
“It’s just as I envisioned. Take them to my home and let them rest.”
Two large muscled men roughly lifted the unconscious bodies and followed the old woman, whilst the crowd merely watched on, amazed, signalling a new beginning to the normally quiet village of Telbrek.
Bridget was the first to wake. Everything was dark as she slowly sat up from her straw mattress.
“What the…?” she said to herself aloud.
She rested her head in her hands, the memories of what had just happened to her dripping from her mind like raindrops.
The tree, the darkness, the light, and falling, forever falling, and the cold, the arctic cold…
She shivered as she remembered and came to realise.
Where was Tim?
She stepped up from the straw and inspected her whereabouts.
There were shelves full of books, unlit candles, and jars filled with strange substances that stood next to the draped doorway, providing only a flicker of light through the material.
She turned around, and then when she saw Tim with his eyes closed and resting peacefully, only then did she feel comfort and relief spread through her.
She also realised she was wearing different clothes; medieval peasant’s clothes, but they felt nice and soft to the touch. Fabrics of red, cream and white, stitched together in a neat dress. How did she get these clothes? Moreover, where was my uniform?
Bridget crept over to Tim, and sat next to him.
It was so quiet in the room that she could hear Tim’s deep soothing growls. She noticed he was also wearing strange clothes; a loose brown top and brown trousers, with a leather belt and some leather boots.
She felt so odd about what had just happened; it seemed unreal, unnatural.
She was curious about the future, and what exactly was going to happen to them now that Tim’s dream came true.
It was all too sudden…
She held her face in her hands again, confused and distressed by what was happening.
She heard a whisper;
“Hey, don’t cry. What’s the matter?”
She looked up so fast that made her neck twinge with pain; it was Tim.
She coughed nervously,
“Oh, it was nothing, my head just spun a little when I got up.”
She was embarrassed about showing her feelings; she rarely wants him to worry about her.
When they were younger, they always used to confide in each other about everything. That is how he knew about the death of her parents.
He sat up gently.
“Don’t worry, Bridge. We will be fine. This is what we, well, we kind of wanted, wasn’t it?” he asked, speaking reassuringly.
“I suppose…,” she murmured, “But I can’t help the feeling that something bad is going to happen to us.”
He rested his hands on her shoulders with a stern look;
“Have I ever gotten you hurt before? If we stick by each other, everything will be fine.”
Bridget turned away; she could not bear to look at him, the sense of danger stirring her feelings about this new place was unnerving her completely, and she felt like he was not exactly taking the whole thing seriously.
To him, this was like his precious videogames, except this time you could not cheat to victory with infinite lives and expect everything will be fine.
He gazed at her questioningly, ‘What is wrong with her?’
Suddenly, there was a knock against wood and an old woman barged through the draped doorway.
“Ah, I see you scallywags are awake. Come this way.”

~X~
1.46pm.
England.

The bell that marked the end of dinnertime bellowed through the school. A rush of pupils clattered the corridors for the umpteenth time to their last lessons.
The History lesson was about to begin. The teacher, a young chestnut-brown haired woman by the name of Miss Statham, started the register.
She paused as she reached ‘Barnsley’.
“Does anyone know where Bridget is?” she asked, with her high pitched, child-like voice spreading around the room and reaching the pupils’ ears.
Everybody shook their heads and continued their work in silence; no one had seen her for the past hour.
Elsewhere, in a geography class, Mr Jackson, who had spiky blonde hair and brown eyes adjusted his bright red tie before handing out some GCSE text books for his class.
Absentmindedly, he reached Tim’s desk and said,
“Now Tim, I hope you’ve done your homework on Glaciers or else I’ll have to give you another detention. I can’t bloody get some peace from you, boy”.
Another boy, his acne looking like micro volcanoes and hair as greasy as a chip pan muttered,
“He can’t answer ‘ya, Sir”.
“Oh and why is that then?” Jackson asked not looking from his textbooks and papers.
“Cos’ he isn’t here.”
“That bloody kid! Where has he gotten to?” Jackson shouted furiously.
He tried to sit down at his desk, but blinded by his fury, he did not notice that his chair was too far back, and he fell, clutching the desk with his hands.
At this, the whole class were in streams of laughter.
A girl with gleaming ginger pigtails and a piggy nose covered with freckles, snorting through fits of giggles told her friend,
“You see, I told you he does stupid things when he’s pissed off!”

~X~
12.04pm
Bragverla

The village of Telbrek, rather than being serene and quiet, was now bustling with the gossip of the two new occupants.
As Aeridel wandered past the crowds, she caught small snatches of conversation,
“That girl looks so pretty, and as graceful as the stories foretold! She could be the one we’ve been waiting for!”
“Nonsense! The legend told of a great warrior! Tall, dark and handsome! I am telling ‘ya it’s the boy who’s to save us”.
Aeridel made her way to the Minstrels’ cottage. The minstrel had delivered a message to her parents the day after Tim and Bridget had fallen from the sky.
She was asleep at the time when her parents both came bursting into the room, before dawn, clutching the letter.
Aeridel was confused by what was going on, as she was forced to quickly get dressed and lead out the door, where her mother gave her a bag of supplies. A tear fell from her cheek onto her woven dress as she hugged her lovely daughter. Her father gave her a kiss on the cheek, and whispered a tearful goodbye to his only child. Aeridel had no idea what they were talking about. She was simply told to go to the minstrels’ house in between gulps of air from sobbing and breathless ‘I love yous’. Within another five minutes, she had arrived at the minstrels’ house.
The wooden fence, well, if you could call it a fence, was more of a row of sticks shoved into the ground, than an actual fence. Her chimney was puffing large clouds of smoke, in a variation of colours that would seem impossible to Tim and Bridget if they could see, but appeared perfectly normal to Aeridel.
Aeridel knew that the Minstrel had special healing powers, mixing magical spells with the ingredients to make her medicines.
She could almost cure anything.
She walked up the neatly cobbled path, and gently knocked on the wooden door.
She heard a slight murmur, and assuming that was permission to enter, she opened the door and went in, shutting it after her.
The main room was dark and dusty. Her eyes struggled to focus as she looked around the room.
Everything would be pitch-black if it was not for the dim flickering glow coming from the candles and the fireplace. The heat was unbearable; the fire that was fiercely burning was boiling a large pot of some oozing liquid that Aeridel did not know.
Her instincts were right as she heard a voice coming from the other room;
“Don’t worry, child, that’s just some medicine I’m brewing for a villager.”
Aeridel jumped with surprise and walked towards the kitchen.
She found the old woman sat with the two teenagers she had found on the grass.
She replied; “I’m sorry; I didn’t know you were in here.”
The minstrel nodded. “I see you’ve already met these two,” she gestured towards Tim and Bridget, who raised their heads sharply.
They had been busy discussing what was in the Honeysuckle Tea they were drinking. The minstrel said; “I was just about to explain to them about what is going to happen. You came just in time.”
Aeridel got a chair and sat down in silence. She sensed that something important was going to happen to her and them. She introduced herself; “Hello, my name is Aeridel.”
He shook her hand, though she did reluctantly, which made Tim wonder, and noticed a strange symbol on it. It was a birthmark, but in the shape of a five-pointed star. Aeridel shook Bridget’s hand, and smiled pleasantly. “I‘m glad to meet you,” said Bridget, “My name is Bridget and my friend is Tim.”
“Now that introductions are over,” said the minstrel, “we can continue. Now, you two gave the whole village quite a start when you appeared in our fields. Bus as you might have heard, Aeridel, is that there are rumours going around about you two.”
She pointed to Tim and Bridget solemnly. “You see, there is a legend, a legend so old that nobody knows now whether it is true or not. It all began about 10,000 years ago, but seems its merely something to tell your children before they went to bed. Not anymore.”
She coughed huskily, and took a sip of her tea.
She poured a cup for Aeridel, just to let the information sink in. It was working, because Tim and Bridget had no idea about any of this legend, but Aeridel had heard of it when she was little.
She could not help feeling there was more to this story than she thought. The minstrel continued;
“Well anyway, the hero and heroine, the story told of two people and not one, had long ago defeated an evil that threatened to destroy the beauty, peace and love amongst Bragverla. They travelled many places, but in order to save this world, they had to face a great evil.”
Tim and Bridget looked at each other, both shocked by what the old woman had just said.
‘So, one of us is going to die…’
Bridget’s intuition was obviously right. They continued listening to the minstrel;
“Now, the saviours knew this evil was going to return later in life, I’m not sure how, but they vowed that another boy and another girl will stand to fight, and save Bragverla once again.”
Aeridel was surprised; she had never heard this side of the story.
“I believe that you, Tim and Bridget, fell from the sky for a reason. This prophecy is now beginning. You two are the descendants of our heroes.”
Tim’s eyebrows rose up past his long fringe, and Bridget clasped her hands to her mouth in shock. Aeridel merely looked at them, confused.
“So, what am I here for, ma’am?” she asked the old woman.
“Why, you are the key to their journey, Aeridel, and will assist them on their travels. They would be lost without you. I can see you have lots of potential, from what I‘ve taught you about healing magic.”
“Of course.”
Both Tim and Bridget looked at her in surprise.
“Oh, and by the way,” the minstrel said, in a whisper, so that only Aeridel could hear, “I know about what you have been doing in those woods, my dear; I have seen it with my own eyes.”
“Pardon? I don’t know what you mean…” Aeridel replied nervously, her face beginning to turn red.
“Don’t worry, your secret’s safe with me,” the minstrel soothed, patting her shaking hands. Aeridel breathed a sigh of relief.
“Thank you, ma’am. My, if my parents knew of my secret, I would certainly be banished from the house forever. For you see, it is against my family’s wishes to practise such a thing!”
“Practise what?” asked Tim innocently, but Bridget quietened him.
“No, its best we don’t ask; she barely knows us.”
“Thank you kindly, Miss,” Aeridel said.
Tim stood up and bowed, replying; “Please call me Tim.”
Bridget laughed, and Aeridel frowned at him. The minstrel interrupted,
“Young boy, this isn’t a game! Aeridel, your parents should have packed a map in your bag.”
She rummaged through her supplies and found a large, rolled up parchment.
“Tim, Bridget, we have provided you with bags filled with some food and some money for your journey. Aeridel, I want you to take them to the next village, and go to the Foxglove Inn. You have been there many times so you should be fine. An old friend of mine may be able to help you more; I sense he has something that might relate to the heroes of the Legend.”
She nodded, packing the map away. The minstrel stood up, shook each of their hands and led them to the door.
“I wish you luck on your travels,” she said and quickly shut the door.
Tim placed his leather bag around his shoulders and sighed,
“Oh the irony, we decide to go on an adventure and here we are risking our lives to save this world…”
Aeridel seemed angry at this;
“Err… Excuse me, Bragverla is a real place, with real people! In addition, did I ask to come with you? I was happy before you fell from the sky!”
“Hey calm down,” said Bridget trying desperately to reassure both of them, “What choice did we have? As crazy as it sounds, me and Tim went through a tree and it transported us here. I think that we were supposed to do this.”
“Yeah, but I‘d rather not risk my life, Bridge. And none of us want to get hurt,” Tim mused.
“Maybe it won’t have to be like that,” replied Bridget with emphasis, “Maybe things will turn out okay if we just believe in ourselves.”
This seemed to ease Tim’s worries.
Aeridel suddenly felt less angry; perhaps she could use this to her advantage, and put her magic into practise in real-life situations.
“Fine, I shall help you on this so-called quest,” Aeridel said, flicking her long brown hair. She had a small evil glint in her eye, which made Tim feel afraid.
“But,” she continued, “If you wind me up or get me into danger, you will suffer by my hand.”
She raised her right hand that had the strange mark on and pointed at him; “This is aimed at you, Tim. I don’t trust boys.”
“Oh My God, so sexist!” he exclaimed prudently, hand on his heart. “I’ll adhere to your rules this once.”
“So, why doesn’t this apply to me?” asked Bridget.
“Because,” Aeridel said, “You seem like a nice girl, and you’re innocent enough. I’m sure we’ll make good friends.”
“And why the resentment towards Tim?”
“It’s personal; let’s just say I’ve had some bad experiences with the opposite sex…”
“Ah, okay,” was all Bridget could say.
“Well, destiny calls,” Tim, said, and he began walking out of the garden, closely followed by the girls.
Aeridel shoved Tim sideways, and walked briskly ahead as Tim lay buried in a heap of leaves, attempting to dismantle himself from the bush.
Bridget just looked at him in a sarcastically sympathetic kind of way. They felt like intruders as they walked quietly through the gate.

~X~

 

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