Get tangled and lost in a book!
You'll get out... eventually.
You'll get out... eventually.
Note: Old stories may not be continued, at least for a period of time
“I don’t see why I came to the outskirts of town instead of my uncle’s tower,” Teagan huffed.
“And yet, you’re here,” I pointed out unnecessarily.
“So, how did you know my uncle was hiding something?” she asked.
“It was… I don’t know, just the way he fidgeted. There was something off about him.”
“That’s… not evidence. Okay, look, what do we know for sure?”
“In order to get the cure, we have to get really close to the cows- which is just about impossible unless we find cownip, which is equally as impossible. And we still have to get enough to cure everyone in this town…”
Teagan sighed and brushed some dead grass off her wool coat. “This whole thing is madness. How did my mother ever figure this out?”
“I don’t know, but this is crazy! I can’t believe the cure is-”
“Don’t talk about it- it’s absolutely disgusting. To think that my mother died just to-” She stopped abruptly. “Never mind.”
“Alright. Let’s not dilly-dally. We have to cross the Sunshine Woods. That should take about two days time.”
“I don’t think we should leave yet. We need to tell our parents and-”
“No!” I cried. “We can’t tell our parents. My dad can’t know that I’m risking my life for him, they’ll never let me leave! And your dad… I’m pretty sure he doesn’t want you going outside of this town, especially with me.”
“Who knows what my father will do if I disappear?” Teagan said.
“No one is going to get hurt.” I said reassuringly, but more for myself. My parents would freak out too, but I couldn’t afford to worry about that.
“Say... we leave the day after the Cow Carnival?” she compromised.
“Alright,” I grudgingly agreed.
* * *
Despite the hostility surrounding the cows, The Cow Carnival was still an important day in the village. A sacred tradition, it was to honor and celebrate the gift of the gods, and that wasn’t just going to go away. Clovers were in shop windows and littered across the streets. Being the favored food of the cows, it was an important symbol of the holiday. Each household has at least one pot of clovers for each family member.
At sunset, we would begin the Cow Crossings, a reenactment of the cows’ journey from the sky to our earth. Every villager held their own clover pot, and walked all the way down to the cow pastures. We then lay our pots onto the ground and wished the cows a long and content life. (Some with a distinct level of sarcasm, but none dared to not partake in the event.)
It was when night draped over the day that the carnival truly began. Peasants and nobles alike shared drinks and the air filled with excitement and chatter.
“Are you ready for tomorrow?” Teagan came up to me as I filled my plate with the small portions of plain bread and potato at the peasant buffet table. She was dressed in a black and white silk dress worth more than my house.
“Yes,” I replied.
“I’ve packed a map, clothes- oh!” she exclaimed when Nikolas accidentally bumped into her.
“Sorry, ma’am,” he ducked his head in apology.
“Hmph,” Teagan turned coldly.
Nikolas glanced up and glared at Teagan’s back. I could see his fists clench. His eyes were puffy and red like he’d been crying earlier.
“Why do you have to be this way? I don’t care who you are, mayor’s daughter or not, you have to stop being so rude. My sister has mad cow disease and no one is doing anything about it! Not you and not your father,” he hissed. I flinched a little at the sudden outburst. He didn’t seem the type, but I knew where he was coming from.
Teagan’s eyes glared angrily at him. “Well, if you must know… ” I frantically motioned for her to not finish that sentence but she was too focused in putting Nikolas in his place. “I’m already this close to getting the cure to the disease for your sorry lot, so maybe some respect is in order.”
“Wait… you are?” his eyes widened.
“We are,” I corrected.
“You too?” Nikolas whirled to me.
“Um, yeah,” I didn’t dare meet his eyes. I couldn’t bear to see the hope. What if we fail? It’ll break his heart. Plus… I really thought it’d just be me and Teagan, and didn’t really want a random boy who had condemned me to come along with us.
“I want to go,” he firmly demanded.
“Ugh, not you too. Elliot is already going. I don’t want another peasant to accompany me,” she said.
Ignoring her insult, Nikolas continued to say, “I’ll do anything for my sister. She’s the only living family I have. I need to go with you. Please. I can help, I-I can cook, scavenge--please!”
“Teagan,” I said hesitantly. She was looking at Nikolas curiously, as if weighing the benefits and doubts in her head. I had a feeling I knew what she was going to say.
“Well…” Teagan said.
“Teagan!” I said pleadingly, all of my instincts on edge. “I don’t think we should-”
“Fine.” The words were out of Teagan’s mouth before I could stop them.
“Really?” Nikolas said in absolute shock, jaw hanging open. “Thank you, thank you, thank you so much! When are you leaving? I don’t need to eat much, I-”
“But you two have to sleep in the same tent.” Teagan said pointedly.
I was even more against Nikolas coming along with us now. I wanted to tell Teagan this, but couldn’t bring myself, not while Nikolas was staring at us like a stray puppy.
“We leave tomorrow before dawn,” Teagan whispered, glancing around us cautiously. “Bring only the necessities and meet on the southern outskirts of town. We need to head into Sunshine Woods and through Requose to get to the Meadow of Multorum.”
“Why do we have to go to the Meadow of Multor-” Nikolas asked before Teagan shushed him.
“We’ll explain it tomorrow,” she said. “See you later- the Mayor’s speech is starting, and I need to go up with him.” She gave a small thin-lipped smile to me, and a slightly larger one to Nikolas. “Pack lightly!” She disappeared into the crowd to head to the stage.
I stood in stunned silence as Nikolas attempted to smile at me. “Guess I’ll see you tomorrow.”
I sat on a bench and mulled over everything that had just happened. I supposed Nikolas coming wasn’t worse-case scenario. I did have a bit of a history with him, but he really needed this cure just like me. I still wasn’t sure about it, but it wasn’t like I could make a difference when it came to Teagan’s iron will.
“Attention townspeople! Let the Cow Carnival begin-” The mayor, who was standing on a small stage was interrupted by a loud ruckus on the other side of the crowd.
“No!” A large group of men stormed through the mob of parting people, who were gasping in horror. I stood on my bench in an attempt to see what was going on. What I saw made me freeze.
Farmer Tamble, one of the more respected and beloved members of the community was standing in a line of a dozen other farmers. In his hands he held a body of a small figure. I recognized it as Farley, his adorable 5 year old daughter.
“I refuse to participate in the honoring of these monstrous beasts!” Farmer Tamble cried angrily, face stained with tears. His wife stood besides him weeping. “My daughter was just plagued and murdered by the mad cow disease! This makes it the fiftieth death in our village alone! When will you realize that these cows are not a blessing, but a curse?”
Murmurs from the crowd around him, some agreeing quietly, some whispering in horror that little Farley Tamble was dead. I stood in complete shock. This…. this was unheard of.
“I demand action! I want those carnivorous cattle killed! Kill the cows!” The men behind me pushed and shoved, chanting loudly, all remembering the dozens of deaths that had occured over the past year.
“ENOUGH!” the mayor’s face twisted in a purple rage. “I lost my wife to the cows! I think you all know that, even you, Warren!” Farmer Tamble paled. “If I could, I would slaughter every single one of those cows myself. But I can’t-”
“Why not?” someone shouted. A chorus of others chimed in to agree.
“The Gods will punish us all! Have you lost your minds? Yes, we’ve all lost someone, whether it be a sister or brother, husband or wife, mother or father. But destroying a gift would be the equivalent of declaring war. Do you want to kill us all? Is that what you want?” he roared.
“The Gods would never do anything like this to us!”
“Ha! Then why have they brought these cursed beasts down upon us?” the mayor spat. “Everyone just calm down. I can’t promise you that no more loved ones will die. All we can do for now is wait. Wait for a cure, wait for a blessing, a sign. Calm down, Warren. I promise, Farley will get a fine ceremony, I’ll pay for it myself.”
“I don’t want a fine ceremony,” Farmer Tamble’s voice cracked. “I want my daughter back.”
“I’m sorry. If this happened to my daughter I’d feel the same way.” He looked back towards Teagan who was standing behind him, staring blankly at Farley’s body.
“What about Mom?” Teagan questioned loudly, visibly shaken by the death of Farley. Heads turned to look at her. “You didn’t avenge her… but I will.”
“Now what does that mean-” Teagan ran off the stage, ignoring the Mayor’s suspicious tone. I saw Nikolas’s blond head follow after Teagan into the woods. I wanted to follow too, but the crowd around me was pushing in, eager to see what was going on.
“Excuse me, sorry,” I mumbled, getting off the bench, struggling to get through the throng of harried townspeople. But before I could get anywhere I felt a hand grip my arm. I turned around and saw my mom staring at me with frantic eyes.
“Elliot! I’ve been looking for you all day! You scared your father half to death. I think- he needs- I was so worried-” she cut herself off with a loud sob, clutching me with a back breaking hug.
I sniffed and held onto her tightly. Teagan would be fine. Right now, more pressing matters awaited.
Kaylee C. (Cow Chron. and TSC)
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