The Society – Part 2
This is Part 2 of Clever’s short story, “The Society”. If you haven’t read Part 1, you can find it here.
Myla wakes in her own home to the sound of too many voices. When she tries to sit up, she notices her hands and feet are bound. That’s when it all comes flooding back.
She tries to twist free of the ropes, but it’s no use. A man in a black cloak notices her struggling. He points a sword to the other side of the living quarters, where Alainn and her family are also tied up.
“I wouldn’t try to escape. Your family will pay the price, girl,” he says.
“Momma, Poppa, I’m so sorry. This is all my fault,” Myla tells them.
“Hush now. We’re just glad you’re alright,” her father replies.
Another sinister looking man walks into the room. His eyes scan Myla, and she holds her breath. He pulls the necklace from his cloak and holds it up.
“How many wishes have you made?” he asks.
“Just one,” she replies.
“I’m willing to be kind,” the man says. “I’ll let you make two more wishes. Then, I will take the necklace and leave you be. All I ask is that you don’t try to stop me.”
Myla laughs. “I know you don’t have a choice but to let me make my last wishes. The genie won’t answer to you until I do. You’re doing me no favors. Besides,” she continues, “how do I know you won’t harm us, once you have the genie?”
“Clever girl,” the man says with a smirk. “Since we’ve done away with the pretense, you will make those wishes, or I will start killing your family one-by-one. As for how you can ensure your safety, you can simply wish that no harm comes to you all by me or my men. Use your other wish for a fortune or a handsome suitor for all I care.”
The man ignores her and squats in front of Myla. “Just make those wishes. Now.”
“Just give me a moment to think of what I want most,” Myla says. “Then, I’ll do as you say.”
Satisfied, the man steps back. Myla’s head swirls. She needs a way out of this that doesn’t leave this man with the power of a genie. She doesn’t know what happened to the woman from the market, but she clearly went to great lengths to keep the necklace from him.
“I’m ready,” says Myla.
The man hands her the necklace. His men grab her parents and hold knives to their throats.
“Try anything funny and they will die,” he tells her.
Myla gulps and nods her head. “I wish for myself and my family, and Alainn and her family, to be safe from these people…in a place far from here,” Myla rushes out the last bit, before the men can act.
The necklace flares to life. Myla sees a flash of rage on the man’s face, and then they are gone.
Zynia picks her way through the market, feeling a pull to the north. She stays aware of her surroundings, knowing the Black Cloaks could be searching this very place. She swipes a few provisions, since her coin purse is now gone.
Exiting the market, Zynia finds a secluded spot by a stream to eat and fill up a waterskin that she took from the market. She will need strength if she runs into the Black Cloaks, which seems likely. She is about to rise, when a pulse thrums through her body.
Someone has made another wish. She only hopes it is the girl.
A moment later, the feeling that had been pulling her to the north shifts directions. Interesting. The wish must have transported the bearer.
Zynia chugs the last of her water and refills the skin. She turns toward the southwest and begins walking. She grins. It appears the girl has made an escape.
Myla appears in a small cabin with a crackling fireplace. Everyone starts talking at once and asking questions of her and Alainn. Alainn calms everyone and gathers them on comfy couches around the fire. They tell their tale, as their families listen with wide eyes, interjecting with questions now and then.
When they are done, silence fills the cabin. They have all been transported far from their homes, with no idea when it will be safe to return. Myla can think of only one thing to do.
“I wish we had precisely everything we will need to make the trip to The Society,” Myla says.
The necklace glows bright. At first, it appears nothing has happened, and Myla wonders if this wish is also forbidden. Then, there is a whinny from outside.
They rush out the door to see two horses loaded with provisions. Myla turns to Alainn and places the amulet around her neck. It pulses once more.
“Are you ready for an adventure?” she asks her friend. “Or would you rather stay here with a husband and mounds of gold?”
Alainn opens up one of the saddle bags and peers inside. “I’m sure there’s gold in here somewhere.”
Myla laughs and links arms with Alainn. “And I bet there are plenty of dashing men along our path.”
“It’s settled then,” replies Alainn.
“Now,” says Myla, “let’s see what we can learn from these supplies.”
Alainn raises her eyebrows, as Myla starts sorting through the items. She carefully inventories the food.
“For two people, this is about three days worth of food. Since we have horses, wherever we are going must be a three days ride from here,” Myla says.
“Oh, that’s brilliant, Myla,” Alainn says, as she understands the purpose behind Myla’s last wish. She begins looking through the provisions, as well. She holds up a head-wrap that is used in the south to protect from sun and sand. “It looks like our journey takes us through the desert.”
Myla pulls out a map and lays it on the ground. The map has a star on a spot in some foothills outside of a small town no more than two days from the desert. She looks at her surroundings for the first time. The cabin sits in a hilly countryside. She draws a large circle around the star, encompassing the area within a three days ride. She then sections off the area that would take them through the desert, before continuing to look for more clues.
“Why would we need three bed rolls?” Alainn asks.
“Maybe one of us sets ours on fire,” Myla replies, as she holds up a firestarter.
“Ah ha!” Alainn says as she holds up a handful of coins.
“You found your gold,” Myla says with a laugh.
“Not just any gold,” Alainn replies. “Usoyan currency.”
Myla returns to the map. She sections off the path to the eastern desert kingdom.
“We head to the south-east, and see what awaits us.”
Zynia will need a horse if she is to stay ahead of the Black Cloaks. They will likely head back to their fortress to regroup, which takes them in the direction she must travel. As dusk approaches, she finds an unoccupied stable on the outskirts of town.
She makes off with a strong black stallion, and rides down the main road until it’s fully dark. She searches by moonlight for a spot to camp. She makes sure she’s a good ways into the woods before tying the horse to a tree and building a campfire. Just before she drifts off to sleep, she hears voices.
Bolting upright, she douses the campfire. Zynia creeps through the woods toward the noise. She sees the shadows moving ahead, but it’s too dark to see them well without getting close. A fire flares to life, lighting up the group. Black Cloaks.
Zynia creeps back from the camp, choosing every step with care. She reaches her horse and unties him, willing the mount not to make a sound. She leads the horse through the woods, away from the Black Cloaks. Only once she is a good distance away does she hop into the saddle.
Now that her adrenaline is pumping, she races through the night, putting as much distance as she can between her and the Black Cloaks.
After a night’s rest at the cabin, Myla and Alainn depart on their quest. All they have is a general direction in which to look for The Society, but it will have to do. Myla tracks their course with a compass and the map, and Alainn makes good company. Before they know it, they are nearing the desert.
They decide to stop for the night at the last river before entering the wastelands. At the first light of dawn, they rise. Making sure they drink plenty and fill their waterskins to the brim, they mount their horses and ride on.
When they reach the sands, they pause only to wrap their heads in the silk cloth. The heat is nearly unbearable, but they try to conserve water. Even the horses are showing signs of exhaustion by the time they reach Usoya.
They stop at the first town they see, built around an oasis. They roam through the streets, nearly overwhelmed by the colorful silks and spicy aromas after a day in the desert. They turn down a side street, in search of an inn, when Alainn feels a tug on her arm.
“Lost, are you?” a man says, never letting go of her arm. Another man sneers from beside him.
Alainn tries to yank her arm free, and the pendant slips from beneath her shirt.
“Ooh, what do we have here? I think you should hand that pretty necklace over, girl.”
Shaking, Alainn grasps the necklace and starts to pull it over her head. “I wish someone would save us from these men,” she says.
The men’s chuckles are cut short by a flash of light. Two more men turn onto the street and, taking in the scene, pull scimitars from their belts. After a brief clash, the would-be-thieves run off, only to be hauled away by two more men.
“Don’t worry about them anymore. They’ll get what they deserve,” one of the rescuers says. “Are you alright?”
“We’ll be fine, but do you know the way to the inn?” Myla asks.
“I rather think we should escort you,” the other man says.
The kind strangers lead them to an inn, where they inquire after a room. The price of a room, stable for the horses, and two meals adds up to the exact amount of Usoyan coins in their possession.
“It looks like this is the final town before we reach our destination,” Alainn says.
“But where do we go from here?” asks Myla.
Neither of them has an answer, so they take their supplies to the room and head back down to the tavern for their meal. They are served lamb kebabs with yogurt sauce and mint rice. They are nearly finished eating when another customer walks into the tavern. Myla’s jaw drops and she elbows Alainn.
“That’s her,” Myla says. “The lady that left me with the necklace.”
What do you think of the story so far? Click here to continue reading Part 3! If you enjoyed this short story, we would love for you to leave a comment, or even buy us a cup of coffee! We promise to share!
Thanks so much for reading!
-Clever & WTF