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28 January 2006 @ 12:49 am
CH 5  
finally, an update! chapter five is up and ready to read.

Christopher runs up to the group gathered outside of the Chasez home. "It was hard for me to get away. What is the purpose of this meeting?" They are all eerily quiet. "It was I who called this meeting." Jim finally speaks; he wrings his hands together and sighs. "Lance has asked permission to go to the cities to fetch medicines for Joshua. I have sent him with two guides."

The elders all rumble with commotion. "What were you thinking?" "He’s blind!" Eleanor approached Jim. "We promised to never go back. Never!" "I had no choice, Eleanor. I saw the look on my sons and Karen’s face and I could not bare it! What was committed on Joshua was a crime."
The elders are all quiet as the wind blows, echoing in their ears. "How could you have sent him off alone? He’s blind." Jim blinked back tears. "He has more faith than all the villagers combined and a will to live. I trust him."

"Let him go." Everyone turns to Christopher, who has tears shining in his eyes. "Let him go. It was faith which built this place. Why not let him have it?" The other villagers nod and bow their heads to pray.

***

"Do your very best not to scream." Lance moved towards his father. "What?" Jim opened the forbidden shed and led Lance within. "There is an odd smell." Jim held Lance’s arm as he led him further into the shed. "What is ahead of me?"

Jim does not answer and Lance reaches out to feel before him. He feels something smooth and wraps his hand around it. He moves his hand down and feels a sharp point. He jumps back with a start. "Those we don’t speak of!"

His father wraps his arms around his son to calm him. "Shh! Do not be frightened. It is farce." Lance shudders as the costumes of the beasts that torment the village swing from hooks, squeaking back and forth.

***

“So, everything, it was all a lie.” Jim sighed as the wind blew the hair away from his eyes. “There was talk of creatures in the books I used to teach the town. Myths of creatures who live in the woods. We simply played off of this.”

Lance nodded, tears falling unmercifully from his blind eyes. “What about the markings on the doors? The ceremony of the meats?” “The elders did all this. We made the markings and remove the meats from sight of the villagers.” “What of the skinned animals? Are the elders responsible for this, too?” Lance asked, anger escalating in his voice.

“Lance, you must understand. We had to keep the villagers from leaving. There are those of us who started this place in the name of hope. There has not been one in our village who has not lost someone. Who has felt so deep a loss that they have not questioned the merit of living at all.” Jim took a moment to choke down his sobs. “I feel sad for you, papa. For you and all the elders.” The father and son sat together as they hugged eachother for comfort when Lance felt something being pushed into his hand.

“Listen carefully to my instructions. You will be escorted by two guides into the woods. After a day’s journey, you will reach a road. From this point on, you and only you will go onward until you reach a wall. Climb over it and you will have entered the cities. Give whoever you can find this list and offer them payment with your grandfather’s watch. Don’t answer any questions about where you came from, just find what you need and hurry back.” Jim stroked his son’s face. “Your husband’s life depends on this.” Lance let out a sound halfway between a chuckle and a sob, throwing his arms around his father in thanks.

***

Lance stood facing the woods. He did not have to see the ominous black sky and the dying trees to feel the fear that lingered in the air. Behind him stood Glory, one of the bravest of any of the town’s women, and Joseph, who cowered behind. When they began to step into the woods and Lance couldn’t hear three sets of steps crunching the leaves on the ground, he turned in his brother in law’s direction.

“Joseph, you have nothing to fear. We carry the magical beads. They will not harm us.” Lance said, holding a small moleskin sack filled with shiny pebbles. “Why have we not heard of them before? And why do we wear the cloak of the safe color?” Lance fought to hold back tears. “Please?” Joseph shook his head. “I can’t, I’m sorry.” He sobbed before turning and running back toward the town and away from the doomed woods. Lance tasted the salty tears as he pulled up his head, only he and Glory beginning their journey.

***

A fierce ice storm made their day’s journey expand into two. By the third night, Lance felt a hand on his shoulder. “Lance, I cannot stay with you. There is something in these woods, it turns my stomach to rot.” Lance felt his stomach drop.

“They will take pity on you because you are blind, and they may even fear you because you are a man. If I am left alone while you fetch medicines, they will surely kill me.” Glory squeezed his shoulder. “I am so sorry, but if anyone could accomplish this, it is you.” She pulled the magical beads from her pocket and placed them in Lance’s hand before kissing his cheek and running off. Lance squeezed until the pebbles spilled out in a mad fury, each echoing as it hit the ground.

When Lance made camp that night, another ice storm hit. Eerie noises plagued the woods and robbed him of his sleep. The whole night, he held his hands to his ears and sang a hymn to himself, tears freezing in tracks to his cheeks while sending his heart out to find Joshua to tell him he would succeed in his journey.
 
 
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