~ The Pass ~ pg 9

Alex watched from his vantage as Fiora worked her charm on even Chink. Did she have any idea at how she had dug her way into each of their hearts? His walls were not the only ones tumbling down. He had not heard Chink or Borris talk of Avery with anyone but each other since she died. Not even to him… especially not with him. He realized with a sigh that both Chink and Borris were just as vulnerable to Fiora’s whims as he was. 

Hadn’t she first caught them all by grabbing at Demil’s wife-hunting heart? Overhearing her conversations with them, they freely talked about things they had not spoken of for over ten years. Their defenses were down and their hearts were opening. They were all fools to allow it. The healing she brought for today was only temporary. They would all lose her again by day’s end. 

But how could he be against this? Even a day of feeling whole again was worth it. She had said that the Birchwood brothers would live on in her heart, but did she know that she already lived in all of theirs? Alex refused to compare her to Avery as if she were some kind of replacement, but he did have to admit that Fiora was the first since Avery’s death, to capture all three of their hearts so effectively. 

The day wore on and the sun made its path across the sky. Alex’s stomach was grumbling for dinner when Civyl called for a stop from the front of the column. He dismounted and took his sword out of its sheath. Worried, Alex quickly followed suit leaving Nivia with his horse as he joined Civyl. “What is it?” he whispered in a hiss. 

The look in Civyl’s eyes was even more crazed set off by their mismatched color. “This is it,” he whispered excitedly. “The Pass is just around this next bend, I can feel it! I have almost reached my quest!” Alex’s heart began to pump quicker. So soon?! He sensed Fiora’s pulse quicken, too, where she sat. “We go the rest of the way by foot,” Civyl ordered as the other Birchwoods filed in behind Alex. “Be on guard! Anything could happen from here.” With his sword ready in front of him, Civyl took off at a light jog and Alex followed trusting the others to stay close behind. What opposition would they find? His heart thrummed in his ears as a battle excitement took hold. 

Around the last corner they all spilled out onto a vast plateau. It was covered with a blanket of new snow that sparkled with the brilliance of the setting sun. Lands without end spread out before them with both forests and plains and more mountains beyond. The sight took Alex’s breath away. He’d never known… never even thought to consider what lay beyond Mount Enundale. Something in his mind shattered… something that used to consider the mountains the edge of the world. 

The End

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