Jefferson Middle School newsletter
Chapter Sixteen: In Which Flake Meets Some Acquaintances
I’m coming back.
Those three words echoed in Flake’s head. What? Who was coming back? Was it another dream? He tried to reply, and found that he couldn’t. Where was he, anyway? He could think, but he lost his contact with the outside world. Was he sleeping? Flake was pretty sure that wasn’t it. He never knew anyone who could think while he slept. Then again, he never met anyone who had weird meetings with Oracles either.
He was still trying to figure it out when he felt a sharp jab in his sleeve. He groaned. Then he noticed he groaned. He also noticed that he could feel the pain in his arm where something sharp had gone in it. He cracked one eye open, then the other.
The first thing he saw was a big face peering down at him. It was a woman, with chocolate brown eyes, curly hair, and an observant expression that made Flake a little nervous. He let out a small yelp.
“Ah, so the patient’s alive, I see.” The woman turned around. “Spruce! Get some of the fernworts for our little patient here.”
He wiggled his fingers and toes. All accounted for and in good condition. He sat up. He was in a small, itchy cot, in a big room with blankets draped on the walls and light pouring in from the windows which were covered by the blankets. “What happened? Where am I?” He remembered that he was out in the forest with Pebbles, looking for Snow… but what happened after?
“You’re at the village healing cabin, dear boy. I understand that this might be a bit disorienting for you, having this dreadful sickness and being in the woods and all that-”
“Snow,” he said suddenly. “Do you know where she is?”
The woman frowned. “Snow doesn’t fall very often out here in the woods. I think you might be getting a bit delirious. Just calm down a while, and the shock will wear off.” A young boy, a bit older than Flake, came into Flake’s view.
“Got the fernworts, Violet.” The boy, which Flake assumed was Spruce, held up a bunch of dirty looking roots. The woman, Violet, looked delighted. She clapped her hands together.
“Yes! Bring them here!” She placed the fernworts on a wooden table next to Flake’s cot and started grinding them with a stone. “Now, little boy, what brought you here to our humble abode?”
“What she means is, how did you end up sprawled on the ground in the middle of the forest, half-dead?” Spruce said, leaning on the wall and watching Flake with a curious expression in his eye. “It took our best healers an hour to find the right remedy to bring you awake.”
“I was one of those healers by the way,” Violet said. She put all the ground up fernworts, now practically a powder, onto a big spoon. “Open up, little boy. It might taste disgusting, but it does wonders on your body.” Flake leaned back, staring suspiciously at the brown powder. “I mean, it tastes like honey flavored sugar sticks, and has the bonus of actually being healthy,” Violet corrected, bringing the powder closer to Flake’s mouth.
Flake took the spoon and reluctantly gulped down the powder. It tasted like dust particles, but once it took effect, his mind felt clearer. He realized, that apart from Violet and Spruce, he was alone in the room. There were many other cots in the room, but they were all empty.
“Can I go outside? I feel better now. I can just get my horse and be on my way.” Flake swung his legs over to the side of the bed.
“Where are you going?” Spruce asked.
“To find my sister. She’s missing.” Flake did not disclose any more information.
“You can go, but first you need to meet Alder. He’s in charge of everything that happens in this Village.” Violet stood straight and motioned Flake to follow her. “Come along now, dear boy. I hope you find your sister.”
Chapter Seventeen Part 1: In Which Rose Receives No Attention
No one remembered that Rose saved someone’s life. No one cared. All the focus was on the nearly dead boy and none was on the person who saved him. Rose was fine with that, as long as someone gave her recognition afterwards, but after five hours of no one so much as looking at Rose, it was clear that she wasn’t about to be noticed anytime soon.
Night passed and the sun rose the next day. It was morning when Rose finally saw the boy walk out of the healing cabin, Violet and Spruce alongside him. She wished that she could just run up to the boy and tell him that she was the one that found him in the woods and saved his life, but she knew she couldn’t do that. The best she could do was make hand signals, and that would probably just mark her a crazy person.
Rose ran to the village clearing. Alder was standing on the sacred circle in the center of the village, banging on a big metal shield, which meant everyone had to gather. She frowned. Alder didn’t do that unless he was distributing jobs, and today was a rest day.
“Listen, fellow villagers! We must now welcome a new villager. He is here temporarily, but treat him as one of us for his short stay here. I will now welcome him to the sacred circle,” Alder proclaimed. Rose stared at Alder in disbelief. He never had welcomed anyone like that before. Strangers were strangers, to be kept separate from the locals. Rose was well aware of that boundary. Why would a random boy be any exception? And welcomed into the sacred circle? That was very unusual. There had never been a time where anyone but the village leader stood in it. She looked closer at the boy. He seemed normal, other than his white hair and pale skin. Or maybe he was more than she thought he was.