** PART TWO **
Tossing and turning Oliana fitfully slept. The foliage of the Caledonian Forest she had tucked around her held her warmth and would provide some protection from the morning dew but offered little else. Visions of the past haunted her dreams. They flicked in her mind, jumping from one event to another. She saw her mother and father, both mages, had been well received by the people of Giffnock when they entered the settlement. And her subconscious knew that in return they had elected to stay and provide their services as healers to the town’s people and their livestock.
She was so little when they had come, barely eight, but still she remembered. These were happy times. In the year and a half she had spent within the small village she had learned how to tend to their afflictions and became a skillful healer. She had a unique affinity for animals and although she knew little of the magical arts, she had gained enough knowledge to be self-reliant.
The scene shifted. She was picking herbs in the garden when she heard the first sounds of the stampede. Looking out into the distance she saw a black mass moving toward her, encompassed in a cloud of dust, with colored flags flying high above. Its presence did not bode well. The rogue warriors came ever closer knocking down fences and trampling those who got in the way. The villagers were screaming and running for the safety of their homes. Laundry was pulled to the ground, while crates and baskets lay overturned their contents scattered through the streets.
She still held the half empty pannier of meadowsweet and her arms ached to put it down. But Oliana stood frozen, unable to do anything but watch as her parents bolted from their small cottage. She saw them work together to combat the raiders, drawing upon nature to thwart their advances. Few of the towns folk had weapons to aid in their own defense and so it was not long before her parents were singled out as the opposers.
A gesture from the leader of the barbaric horde was all that was needed; arrows sailed through the air and found their targets. Her parents slumped forward and fell to the earth one after the other. The trance was broken. Oliana screamed and dropped the pannier in mid run, desperately trying to reach her parents through the chaos.
It was too late, although they had time to console each other; both were dead before she made it to their side. Carefully she took her father’s ring from his finger and stashed it away in her shoe. Then after looking around again, she removed her mother’s necklace and tucked it deep within the confines of her bodice. Moments passed, denial came first, acceptance later, and then anger. The emotions flooded her mind and clouded her judgment.
She rose and concentrated all her efforts on the leader, intent on killing him. However all she managed was to pelt him with small hailstones. Amused by her antics he motioned again. The soldier to his right rounded his horse and rode toward Oliana. He wound his fingers through her thick black hair, jerked her up and laid her small frame across the front of his saddle.
She screamed again and again but this time her sleeping self screamed with her. None of the other villagers tried to help. They wouldn’t risk themselves for a burdensome orphan girl. They pacified themselves with the knowledge that she was an outsider, a mage, not of their kind, and just watched as she was stolen away.
Crying Oliana woke. These humans, they were her friends. They knew what fate awaited her and yet they did nothing. They had betrayed her, and she hated them for it. Years of torment had twisted her now broken mind. She soothingly twirled a dark curl between her fingers, smiled sinisterly and thought aloud. “Almost dawn, the Cu Sith should be along shortly.