Chapter 4

The next morning they awoke at dawn, and set out, once again, towards the border.  This time, however, they divided themselves between the two carts in a more regular fashion.  Midgecat was in a cart with Katsei, Kimna (her supposed mother and father), and Sasha (her sister).  Scytha, Rashelle, and Aharya were in the other cart.  The tension of the day before had dissipated, leaving behind solid boredom.  By now, all the charms of the cart and countryside had worn off.  Midgecat spent the morning walking behind the dusty cart, or up front with Kimna.  By mid-afternoon, however, she had exhausted all the diversions the cart could offer.  Finally, she asked Kimna the question that had been on her mind all day.

"How did you come to meet Aharya?"

Kimna looked startled, puzzled, even.

"I mean, what makes you follow her?  And why does she have to…fight evil?"

This wasn't exactly what Midgecat wanted to say, but it was as close as she could get.  Kimna sighed.

"It's a long story…complicated too."

"Well…we've got lots of time…"

Midgecat looked hopefully at Sasha and Katsei.  Sasha made as if to stand up.

"I'll take the reins.  Go on, I don't think we've ever heard the full story either."

So, Kimna and Sasha switched places, and, once everyone was comfortable, Kimna began her tale.

"A long while back, most of us lived in a…town…a long, long ways from here.  Except for Rashelle, we met her later on.  Well, anyway, we lived in this…town.  It was an orphan town.  Every time a child became an orphan, they came to this town.  You can imagine…no adults, except for the ones who brought us food and stuff.  We were mostly free to wander about.  It was pretty rough.  We had a Queen, about 10 years old (everyone left at 16, so 10 wasn't a really young age for a Queen).  Her name was…Tyran.  She was powerful, and cruel.  She had no pity, no kindness in her icy heart.  She ruled with an iron fist.  Anyone who stood up to her was bent to her will.  It was her eyes.  They bored into your very brain, and forced you to your knees."

"Well, Scytha and I had been friends since we were really little, and, well, we didn't like Tyran.  We were much too afraid of her to do anything, though.  Then we met Shira, and…Aharya.  She had another name then…but, never mind.  You know, we still don't now how she and Shira met.  Anyway, we started this sort of, rebel group.  We were all terrified of Tyran, except for Aharya, but we wanted to do something about her.  And well, Tyran seemed to be careful of Aharya.  Not afraid, mind, just, cautious.  She also seemed to want to get Aharya on her "side".  She might've wanted more power, because Aharya certainly had power, or maybe she just didn't want Aharya as an enemy.  She kept tempting her, with displays of power, and stuff like that.  Finally, Tyran's temper blew.  She summoned Aharya and Shira to her throne room.  I don't know what happened then, since Scytha and I were in a dungeon at the time, and Aharya won't talk about it.  And Shira, well, we never saw her again.  Aharya said she was…possessed by Tyran, not dead, but hidden.  I can't say I understand it, but Shira certainly never came back.  I guess Tyran thought it would be easier to get to Aharya, with Scytha and I gone, because pretty soon after, she threw us out of the town.  I can't tell you about anything after that."

Kimna sighed, her throat very sore.  The telling had taken several hours, because of numerous interruptions.  By the time she had finished, the sun was low on the horizon.  Katsei was the first to break the hushed silence.  She came out of her reverie, poked her head out of the cart, and called back to the others,

"Reckon we should find a place to stop?  The border's still a good way off!"

The others agreed.  Soon, they were settled around another roaring campfire, sheltered from the wind by the trees around them.  Midgecat shot a glance at Kimna.  She had been sad and silent ever since she had finished telling her story.  Rashelle came over to sit next to Midgecat, by the fire.

"Memories" she muttered softly.

"Sorry?"

"Our whole purpose is centered on memories.  We cannot escape." 

Rashelle looked, and sounded, exhausted.  But she wasn't finished yet.

"Our entire 'quest' is based on our memories.  Her memories", she nodded towards Aharya, "And yet, we must banish memories if we are to survive.  We must concentrate fully on the moment, to achieve our goals."

She lapsed into silence, her hazel eyes bright with tears.  Aharya was watching both Rashelle and Kimna very closely.  She stood up.

"The memories are too close tonight."

As if this was a signal, everyone stood up, and retired to their various beds, leaving Aharya and Midgecat staring at the fire.  Aharya turned to Midgecat,

"I'm afraid I'll have to ask you not to ask for any more stories about our past.  The memories bring pain, even now."

Midgecat nodded silently.  The gloom that had settled over the campsite had affected her as well.  Finally, she too retired to bed, leaving Aharya sitting by the fire.