I had the pleasure to interview Myloe Yeager for the Writing Is Hard Work podcast this week. Myloe sent a wonderful little short story to me which I have decided to publish here on the blog. She reserves all rights to this story.
by Myloe Yeager
Miranda collapsed behind the enormous oak tree to catch her breath. Her lungs burned as she skinned her cheek against the rough bark. She held her breath for a count of ten while she strained to hear any following boots or hoofs or claws for that matter. Every manner of beast seemed to be after her. Even the men she had seen chasing her had seemed wild and strange. She wasn’t safe. She had to find a place to hide.
Gathering her skirts around her, she tied them up as much out of her way as possible. She had already broken the heels off her shoes to make it easier to run on the uneven ground. Getting chased into the woods in a formal was not in the plans, but she was not going to let vanity hurt her chances of survival.
Shadows of purple, green, and black played across her face as she strained to see further into the forest. Each time she thought she had found a place of safety, it would turn out to be just darkness in the clearing or a blind alley with no exit. She trembled as exhaustion and terror began to burn through the adrenaline, and when an owl spoke over her head, she screamed and started to run blindly.
“Where is she? I heard her!”
“Bring the dogs back around! Get the hawks back into the sky!”
“Find her! Kill her! But get the ring!
Kill me? And what ring? Miranda tiptoed off the gravel and on to a grassy area that she hoped would be a quieter area to walk on until she could get away from the pursuit again.
A huge hand painfully gripped her mouth as another arm grabbed her around the waist and hoisted her off her feet. She tried to scream, but her captor’s grip made her gag when she opened her mouth. The stranger was strong enough that having her pinned against him was not limiting his movements. He started to run with her immediately, but away from the other voices.
Miranda tried to keep the panic at bay. She was physically helpless but not mentally. Trying to calm her mind, she looked around to see if she could figure out where the sinister stranger was taking her. Unfortunately, it all seemed like the same woods she had been lost in for hours. She had never been one for the outdoors, let alone being carried on a hard run by a crazed lunatic, so she wasn’t able to pick up much in the way of landmarks. But the sounds of the hounds and horses were falling far behind them, a thought that both excited and terrified her. If he wasn’t with that group, who was he and what did he want with her?
The stranger halted, sniffed the air, ran a few moments further, and then abruptly dropped her. Miranda was so startled that she just sat and stared up at him rather than thinking to scream or run. Her mind and emotions took a short vacation while she struggled to take in her new reality. The man, if that is what he was, was almost seven feet tall and was completely wrapped in cloaks and shawls. The only things she could see clearly were his eyes, which were a piercing, icy green that seem to have her frozen in place. She tried to speak, but only a small squeak came from her throat.
“Go ahead, little one. I’ll let you talk if you tell me where the ring is. Let’s end all this misery. I don’t see it on your finger, but I can feel it’s power. Where are you hiding it?” The gravel of his voice sounded like it came from a lifetime chain-smoker, but she thought the flames he had been breathing may not have been cigarettes.
Miranda tried to stand but found she couldn’t move and only a little more sound came through her mouth. How am I supposed to tell him anything if I can’t talk?
Because I can hear you just fine, love.
You can hear me in my head? Hey! You also don’t sound so scary in my head either. Where’s the gravelly voice?
That’s all show. It’s part of the pirate facade. It doesn’t pay to appear friendly in the pirate business. Plus, it hurts my throat to talk that way, so I’m sure not going to do it in my own head.
So, I’m confused. Are you a bad guy or a good guy?
I’m an ex-bad guy recruited to the good team who is still pretending to be a bad guy, so I can spy on them for the good guys. Get it?
Look, we need to get you safe and then I can explain everything. Do you have this ring everyone is after?
No, I don’t know anything about a ring. I was at prom and suddenly people started chasing me. I’m not even wearing any rings. The only jewelry I’m wearing is …. oh!
My mom’s necklace. The stones from it came from two old rings. Do you think that could be it? Even though it’s not a ring anymore do you think that’s what everyone is after?
May I look at it?
Yes. It’s not like I can stop you anyway but thanks for asking.
Oh, right, sorry. Let me release that spell.
Miranda grunted as she fell to her side as the paralyzing spell was released. The man offered his hand to help her up. She was surprised that he was gentle as well as strong. She wondered if she saw a smile in between those wrappings.
“Thank you,” Miranda said as she started to brush herself off. He put his finger to his lips.
Don’t speak aloud. We don’t know for sure if we are alone and who is on our side. It is safer this way.
Miranda nodded and allowed him to step forward and look at her pendant. It was a heart made of two gems with several smaller jewels around the edges. He looked at it for a moment, said a few words under his breath, and let it fall back against her breast.
You said this necklace is made from the combination of two rings?
Yes, my mother and stepfather both had engagement rings from previous relationships, and they decided that taking those and creating a new piece of jewelry from them would be making a fresh start.
One of these rings was the ring the Host has been searching for; the other was a standard ring. However, somehow the combination of this new piece has made it stronger but for good not evil. They cannot use it.
That’s good news, right?
Yes, but they are not going to just stop to listen to us tell them that and they will still kill you. We must get you and this necklace to safety.
Sounds good to me. You can just have the necklace and take care of it. Can you just put me up for the night and I’ll head home in the morning when it all blows over?
The stranger’s eyes were no longer icy green, but that of a freshly mown lawn and she couldn’t quite remember how she saw him as sinister. He bent down to look at her and touched her on the shoulder.
Miranda, you can’t go home. They will follow you and hurt everyone you have ever cared about if you stay here. You must leave here and never return.
A chill went through her body, and she took a step away from him. Had she misjudged him? Was he about to kidnap her again?
I’m not going to force you to go anywhere. But if you go home, The Host will follow. The only safe place is to come with me, to my kingdom.
What are you talking about? I’m not Cinderella. I’ve got to go home. I start college in the fall. My parents will be worried if I’m not back in the morning. We will just go to the police, tell them about this gang, and it will be OK.
You going to tell the police about the spells and the mind-reading too?
Yeah, well. I was going to write that off to a possible roofie.
There is no roofie, and there can be no police. We are already in my kingdom, but barely on the border, which is why I don’t feel completely safe. But if it helps to explain things, and maybe you’ll understand and feel safe coming with me, I’ll show you something.
Me! By the way, my name is Garrik Aeberos, not Sinister Stranger.
I don’t know. Sinister Stranger is easier to pronounce.
Oh hush, now pay attention. I rarely show myself to outsiders.
Garrik stood to his full height, which seemed to grow before her eyes to past seven or even eight feet tall. As he unwound the wrappings around his head, fair hair fell around his shoulders to his waist. The dark cloaks fell away to show a handsome man in a forest green tunic standing before her. A sword hung from his waistband, and a bow and quiver were thrown over his shoulder. He looked like he knew how to use both. Then he moved a piece of hair behind his ear.
Oh, an elf! Wait, is this real? That can’t be real!
Yes, Miranda. I’m real, The Host is real, and the fact that your life is about to change is real. I’m am very sorry. But I will be with you, and I can guarantee that if you come with me, your family and friends will stay safe.
I just don’t know. It’s not fair. I only borrowed my mom’s necklace for the prom and now I can never…what’s so special about this necklace anyway?
The legend is that there would be a ring, brought in from a child from a foreign land, that would unite the powers that will lead these lands for the next thousand years. It was spoken of as an evil ring so The Host was anxious to get ahold of it so they can rule. However, whatever the previous alignment of the ring, when your parents remade this piece, it became aligned to good. I don’t know if that is against the original legend or if the Oracle knew about that all along. That’s the problem with oracles.
So will your people rule now, Garrik?
Miranda noticed that Garrik was staring off into the distance. At first, she was annoyed that he was not listening to her, but then she began to hear what he had gotten his attention. Drums, guns, dogs, wolves, and men. Lots of them. And getting closer.
I thought we were in your kingdom! How did they follow us?
Like I said, we are just barely beyond the borders. I didn’t want to come in too far in case you insisted on going back. Once you tarry too long in the land of Fae, there is no way out.
I thought I didn’t have a choice.
Humans have free will. Going back would lead only to disaster, heartache, and death. The Host would kill you and your family and then learn the necklace is useless to them and destroy it and go on to the next thing to destroy. But I cannot force you to come with me. It must be your choice. But please make it quick. I do not want those heathens in my land. I want to close the borders one way or the other. Do you want to be on this side of it or that side when the walls go up?
Can you just make it where people over there don’t worry? Can you let my folks and my friends know I’m OK?
Of course! We are not ones who want people we love to be in pain. I will send messages to your family and friends in their dreams.
Miranda hesitated. She thought about her situation at home. She was enrolled at the local community college for the fall semester but had no idea what she wanted to study. She was only going because everyone expected it of her. Her family didn’t have the money to send her to school, so she was taking out loans and working. But how she had a chance to do something exciting and save her family at the same time.
I’m in! Lower the gates! Then let the adventures begin!
Want to have some fun with The Host?
Of course! How?
They have a horrible fear of spiders and I just so happen to have a friend who lives along my border who owes me a favor. Remember the big spider in Harry Potter? Yeah, he was the inspiration for that character and all his children.
Ah, the sounds of screaming bad guys in the morning. My kind of alarm clock!
If you liked this story, go check out Myloe's blog where she posts other stories from time to time. If you want to follow this blog, simply follow me on any of the social media below or simply click on the RSS feed and follow me using Feedly or any other feed reader.