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Member Since: Oct, 2003

JANET M BELL, click here to update your pages on AuthorsDen.

Heart of the Soul
Monday, December 08, 2003

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This story picks up where Eyes of the Soul leaves off. There are more trials to overcome, many new struggles to face and an old enemy to struggle with. I have submitted this new work for publication and am currently waiting to hear from the publishers. With luck it will be published soon.

Roc rushed to where he and Maus had left the horses.  Liam was there working on a small gray mare. 

“Liam, is one of my horses ready?  I have to find something quickly.”  Liam looked up at the tall young man with concern on his face.  “Yes, I finished both yesterday.  Is everything all right?  You seem on edge.”  Roc looked at the man working on the small horse.  “Maus is not doing well.  We encountered two of those Dark Ones you made mention of.  He now has a fever and is shaking uncontrollably.  One of his arms is swollen and is dark with poison.  I have to go find something that will get the poison out.”  Liam’s face went white at the sound of the Dark Ones being here.  He thought this would be a safe place from them.  Nowhere was safe anymore.  Roc broke the man’s concentration by speaking. 

“Can you keep Sky here for a while?  I will pay you extra for his keep.”  Liam waved his scarred hand. 

“No, I will take no extra payment.  I understand your urgency.  Your horse will be safe with me.  You concern yourself with you friend.”  Roc thanked the man for his kindness and promised to return with food for the horses so the man would not be out anything.

Roc led the large mare Luna by her reign out of the small village.  On his way out he got directions to a near by swampy pond.  He should be able to find what he was searching for in a place like that.  A small bucket was placed around the horn of the saddle to put his capture in.  A small sack was strapped to the back of the saddle for the rest of his find.  He headed south in the direction he was given.  The ground was rocky at first, hard with the cold that had settled in.  At first, he rode slowly watching the ground under him.  Something in the back of his mind urged him to hurry.  Roc spoke quietly to Luna telling her this was to help Maus.  Luna bobbed her head up and down in understanding.  She knew the spot Roc sought.  The dark mare moved swiftly making good time.  The ground began to grow softer the further south they went.  Soon they were splashing through cold puddles of water.  They were nearing the swamp so Roc would have to walk the rest of the way in.

With purpose, Roc dismounted.  He let Luna know she would be back as soon as possible.  Taking the bucket off the horn, he started out on foot.  Thankfully, he had his tall boots on.  The water here was over his ankles.  Roc walked cautiously searching for as firm a footing as he could find.  There were reeds and thistles in the way.  His hands pushed as much away as possible.  The water was rising higher on his legs, almost to his knees.  Roc picked up his feet slowly trying not to splash making even more of himself wet.  As he picked up his foot a dark spot on it caught his attention.  He inspected the dark thing with a dry stick.  It was soft and moved.  He found the prize he had sought.  Now he needed several more.  At least he knew he was in the right area.  Once he had secured the leech in the bucket, he checked his other foot.  Sure enough, there were two more.  Hopefully in a few more steps, he would have enough.

Luna was waiting for Roc where he had left her.  He placed the bucket half filled with water and at least two dozen of the squishy slugs back over the horn of the saddle.  Roc jumped on Luna’s back talking softly to her.  She seemed to understand what he was talking about.  The horse galloped off in a direction only she knew.  There was one more thing Roc needed to help his friend.

Roc rode along in quiet thought.  He had already lost so much.  He did not know how he would handle it if he lost Maus as well.  That was not something he could think about right now.  He needed to concentrate on helping Maus and getting on with their work. 

The edge of the Misty Vale Forest lay ahead.  Luna pounded the ground with her hoofs pushing the ground away under her massive feet.  Roc felt as if he were flying on her back.  With the speed she was moving, Roc should have been bounced all around hanging on for fear of his life.  Instead, he sat calmly on his saddle and watched the looming forest grow closer.  Luna crashed into the forest without slowing her pace any.  She rounded trees standing in her path, avoided logs and rocks that stood between her and her destination and still Roc sat effortlessly on her back.  It was almost as if she had wings on her back, so smooth was the ride.  The forest grew denser yet, with trees growing closer and in clusters, but still Luna did not slow any.  Roc watched for low hanging branches and easily ducked to avoid being thrown off.  Obviously, the horse seemed to be following a path that was difficult for Roc to see.  He marveled at how agile the massive animal was.  Her run showed no signs of strain or stress.  She was not winded, did not appear worn or spent.  She truly was a treasure to behold. 

Luna rounded a bend in the path she followed and greatly slowed her pace.  Ahead to the right was an area devoid of trees.  It appeared to have been cleared with herbs planted in the area.  Someone certainly had to be tending the garden here in this out of the way place.  Roc looked around, scanning the area for signs of who that someone might be.  No one could be seen.  He felt awkward going into someone’s garden without permission, but this was an emergency.  He lightly jumped off Luna’s back and began rummaging through the garden looking for the herb he needed.  The book said bruisewort would make the wound drain and thin the blood.  It was suppose to also help take the swelling down.  This was a big garden and it was late in the year.  He did not know if he would be able to find it.  The drawing in the book showed a long oval shaped leaf with a point to it.  It also said the leaves would be prickly.  He needed both the leaves and the stems.  Roc inspected any and all plants that had the right shape leaf none of them had prickly leaves.  Roc was beginning to panic.  This was taking too long.  The longer he was here the less chance for Maus.  This garden was huge.  It could take days to go through the whole thing before he found the right one.  He walked up and down rows inspecting the plants as he went.  Roc had never felt so alone.  He could not do this on his own.  Why was everyone leaving him?  The pain of loosing his love and his best friend was almost too much to take.  Right there in mid stride Roc planted himself on the ground as if he was one of the herbs, sitting with a big sigh.

Roc sat with his legs crossed under him, his elbows resting on his legs and his head in his hands.  His big blue eyes shut and he stared at the blank inside of his eyelids.  Staring at his soul, spread open for him to see it.  It felt like a cloud was settling into his mind.  Nothing seemed to make sense anymore.  Jem was gone and Maus was drifting away from him.  He was alone in a strange world.  What business was it of his what happened to these people?  Why should he care?  He owed them nothing.  No one was helping him, why should he do anything for them?  This was more than he was prepared to handle.  He should just walk away now and leave everyone alone.  After all, everyone had left him, why should not he do the same? 

Roc remained on the ground in thought.  A visible cloud-like mist had settled on him.  It was gray, damp, and musty.  The longer he sat in thought the more he felt isolated.  Everything and everybody he cared for was being taken from him.  He could feel things slipping away.  He could not remember ever feeling such despair.  All Roc wanted to do was lie down and sleep.  He wanted to get away from this awful feeling of being alone.  Every time the thought of sleep came into his mind, something pushed it away.  It felt like he was being kept away from it.  A nap, that is all he wanted, just a nap.  Was that too much to ask for?  Why was he being denied what he needed?  This was not right.  What was it that was keeping him from his desire?  A noise.  Something sounded terrified.  What was it?  Roc had to stop the noise so he could sleep. 

It took all the effort he could muster, but Roc opened his eyes, just a slit at first, to see if he could locate the noise.  Slowly his eyes became full open.  It was Luna.  She was making the noise.  She reared up on her hind legs pounding the ground with the front ones.  Her nostrils were flared and she was covered in sweat.  She was letting out a shrill cry.  She was frightened of something.  What was it?  What on Earth could upset her so?  Roc gawked at her for a time trying to understand her urgency.  She came close to Roc pounding the ground then backed away as if in pain.  The big horse did this repeatedly.  Roc was confused by her actions.  Why was she acting like this?  There was nothing here to scare her so. 

Roc moved his head from side to side trying to locate the reason for her fear.  It was an agonizingly slow process.  He felt like he was moving his head against a strong current.  There was something desperately trying to keep him from moving.  That was absurd.  Why would anything want him not to move?  The harder he tried moving his head the more force was applied to keeping his head still.  Something was absolutely trying to keep him still.  He was certain of it now.  This was wrong.  With the little movement he had made with his head, he could see nothing amiss.  With all his strength, Roc picked up his head from his hands.  His hands fell with a thump to the ground next to him.  Feeling the dirt and leaves that were all around him startled him.  That was funny.  Roc did not remember sitting on the ground.  Yet here he was, on the ground with Luna going crazy just ahead of him.  Luna!  Something was wrong with Luna.  Roc had to help her.  He needed to move.  There was a force keeping him where he sat.  What was going on?  He had to recall what he was doing.

Soul searching.  That is what he had been doing.  It was still there spread out before him.  His soul lay bare for him to see.  He had been giving up.  That is what was going on.  How could he give up?  His friends depended on him.  They needed him.  He stared in disbelief.  No he was not giving up, rather something else was giving up for him.  Something had crept into his soul while he was not watching, something black, and ugly.  He could see it setting in the middle of his soul, laughing at him. 

Roc had to stop it.  The more the thing laughed at him the angrier he got.  Using all his mental strength, he stretched out his arms towards the thing.  It was so busy laughing at him it failed to see Roc growing in strength.  He reached in with his bare hands, wrapping them around the thing surprising it.  He had it by the throat.  As Roc stood, the thing was yanked up off its feet.  Roc dangled it in front of him.  There was a familiarity to it, like Roc had seen it before.  They began to wrestle.  The black creature in Roc’s hands placed one of its’ hands over Roc’s heart.  He fell to his knees almost loosing his grip on the creature in his grasp.  It felt like an icy cold blade had pierced his heart.  Roc fell to the side taking the creature with him.  They rolled toward Luna.  The horse shrieked in distress.  Roc dropped one of his hands from the creature grabbing for the knife he kept on his belt.  Freeing it from its sheath, he brought the knife down slamming it into the creature’s shoulder just missing the neck.  The black, monstrous, thing let out a scream so loud the leaves from near by trees shed.  Again, they rolled on the ground each trying to gain control over the knife.  This time the creature slammed into a large tree.  It shuddered.  Once more Roc had his knife in his hand and brought it down with such force that it became impaled in the creature’s leg hitting the bone.  The creature howled in pain.  It tried to pull the knife out but it stuck.  Green blood oozed out of the creature’s wounds.  The ground was slick with it, an awful stench rose from where ever it lay.  Roc had all he could do to keep his stomach still.  The black vile thing rose to its feet and rushed at Roc knocking him off his feet.  The two adversaries roll together fighting as they went.  They rolled into a tree the creature hitting its head on a rock, one last screech escaping its’ vile mouth.  Luna had been dancing in a nervous agitation.  She reared up on her back hoofs landing with loud thuds.  The last time she came down her front hoof landed on the creature’s head.  The force of Luna’s feet landing cracked the creature’s head open sending gray matter spraying out.  The creature laid still, blood covering it. 

Roc shook his head.  There was no effort to it now.  The force holding him still lay dead on the ground at his feet.  With the cobwebs cleared from his mind, Roc was able to think on his own now.  He looked at the creature lying on the ground and recognized it now for what it was.  It was one of the Dark Ones.  It had been trying to get him to surrender his soul.  Roc walked over to Luna and hugged her neck.  If it was not for her, he might be lost forever.  “Thank you girl.  You saved me.  How do I repay you for this?”  The horse nuzzled him happy to have him back.  Roc once again centered his thoughts to the here and now.  He still needed to find the herb for Maus.  He and Luna walked side-by-side searching for what he needed.  Luna stopped suddenly.  Roc looked at his companion with a question unspoken on his face.  The horse nodded her head in the direction of the garden.  There, on the backside of the garden sat a small man. 


       Web Site: EYES OF THE SOUL

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Reviewed by Phyllis Jean Green 11/12/2004
How imaginative!! How well-written!! Makes me want to read
more!!! 'Soon as I can afford it, I am going to buy book #1.
You have a gift, & what is even more important, the discipline
to use it well. 'Pea' <3

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