The White Handkerchief

Felix had not the first clue where to search for young Rielle. Stepping out of the house with the few items he was taking on his quest, he was suddenly overwhelmed by the space: by the sheer immensity of the world and the countless possibilities of Rielle’s present location. He almost broke down in despair. What if when he did finally reach her, the worst had happened - her life had been taken? And what if he never found her at all? With the world being so big, and he being such an insignificant man in the context of that world, he could wander for all his days searching for her and die with the quest still unfulfilled. Oh, could hope be lost even before it was found?

As Felix stood on the front step of the Facaute manor, paralysed by his pessimism and gloomy thoughts, he noticed something white fluttering in the corner of his vision. He turned his head to look more closely and saw a scrap of white material caught in the leaves of a tall tree a few metres from where he was standing. It might have been completely insignificant but some mystical deep-rooted intuition told Felix to go over to investigate.

Slowly, not quite daring to believe that a higher power had given him some much-needed aid, Felix walked across the grounds to stand beneath the tree and see better the material. Once under the umbrella of the deep brown branches, he thought he discerned upon the material some embroidery, in red thread, which made him feel the need to retrieve the piece of cloth for closer examination. Setting down his cumbersome sword and bag, he set about climbing the tree, finding hand- and foot-holds with difficulty for he was not a man who was practised in the art of tree-climbing. But, with perseverance and sharp reminders of the cause, Felix manoeuvred to the bough to which was connected the branch on which the white textile was caught.

Lowering his body of weight to improve his chances of balance, Felix slid gently along the bough until he was in a position where he could easily reach out and pull the cloth free. He was careful as he did so, feeling intuitively that this cloth was his first clue on his quest, but also that it was precious: a white thing caught in the grasp of a great tree with sharp branches as Rielle was a pure young woman trapped in a world of darkness and corruption.

Succeeding in freeing the white material, Felix saw that he had found a handkerchief. He gently un-crumpled it to look at the red embroidery in one of its corners.

Disappointment struck him, intensified by the fact that his intuition had been so convincing.

The embroidered initial was the letter B.

But then, he thought ‘Wait! Rielle is only a nickname!’ He was so used to calling her by it that he sometimes forgot her full name. Which was... Brielle! Starting with a B! Felix brought the handkerchief to his nose and smelled it. Yes, that was unmistakably Rielle’s perfume!

So this was a clue! Not a clue to her current location or condition, but ... the handkerchief had been in a tree. It must have got there by some means. So, he looked around himself, searching for other clues. He dropped lightly to the ground and examined it for hoof prints. There were none, so the handkerchief could not have flown into the tree from being carried away in the wind as a horse sped past. He frowned. There were no footprints or cart tracks either. For a good few minutes he was stumped. He went to pick up his sword and his bag, tucking the handkerchief into a pocket for the time being. He wandered the area around the tree, looking, thinking. A bird fluttered into a tree a short distance away and Felix suddenly stopped. Slowly, he raised his head, craning his neck until he was looking at the sky.

What if Rielle had been transported from this place ... through the air? Or, more precisely, on a winged creature? There were animals that existed in this land that could bear the weight of a human and still fly.

A Revenroll, for example...

Felix felt immensely pleased with himself. He had figured out how Rielle’s kidnappers had taken her from the manor. It meant that he wouldn’t have to waste time asking if horses or carts had passed along roads last night or this morning. But, unfortunately, it also meant that the distance Rielle had travelled could be much greater. Felix felt his heart sink. Once again, he considered the size of the world and felt like any attempt he made to pinpoint Rielle’s location would be futile.

He drew out the handkerchief again. Was that animal fur on it? The grey hair looked vaguely familiar, though Felix couldn’t put his finger on why.

He decided he would take the material to a Wise Woman - a woman trained in magical arts such as seeing the future and communicating with the dead. Felix considered the irony as he set off for the main part of the town Pireleas: he, an educated man - and a teacher - was going to seek the help of a Wise Woman, who many scientists discredited as silly and unreliable because of the lack of a basis in ‘proven’ science that their methods had.

Perhaps, along this journey, Felix would learn much about the world - things which books and science couldn’t explain or which the intelligent had deemed unimportant. But it wasn’t books and science which defined a person. No, it was their character, their heart. Felix thought of Rielle, so sweet and pure, and knew he would surrender all his books and learning just to see her alive and unharmed. He clasped her handkerchief against his breast, closing his eyes for a moment to pray for her safety, before putting it back into his pocket.

‘I’m coming, Rielle,’ he thought. ‘I’m coming and I will find you.’

The End

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