The Cavern of Sethi

A Way to Freedom Novella - A Young Kalena Tale

Sneak peek of an unedited Chapter One

Chapter One

Kalena turned in bed, pulling the blankets up further to cover her head.
‘I’m not listening Adhamh…I am sleeping and hoping that you trying to wake me up is just a horrible nightmare.’
‘You promised me Kalena.’ Adhamh put just enough disappointment into his mind voice to put a small crack in Kalena’s resolve.
Wincing to herself under the blankets, Kalena then mentally kicked herself. She did promise to help Adhamh. But not just before the crack of dawn on a Freeday. Why did he want to do this now?
‘Can’t it wait until after breakfast?’
‘No. It cannot.’
‘You’re not going to leave me alone until I come will you?’
‘No I will not.’
‘Okay. Fine. I’m out of bed and getting dressed in the freezing cold dark morning air.’
‘You cannot guilt trip me Kalena.’
“Doesn’t mean I can’t stop trying Adhamh,” Kalena grunted allowed as she slipped her last trouser leg over her pajama clad legs and pulled on her jacket and pushed her socked feet deep into her boots. All the while grumbling about Hatar’le’margarten who have no respect for the sleep habit of humans.
‘You do know that I can hear you.’
“I don’t care. I wanted to stay in my nice warn bed a few hours longer and then go and have a nice, warm breakfast in the mess hall.” Kalena could not keep the grumpiness from her voice as she fastened the final button on her jacket.
‘The early bird always gets the worm’.
“Or the early bird gets eaten for being half asleep and stumbling around in the dark of dawn.”
Adhamh did not answer and Kalena could imagine him showing those pointy teeth of his in a feathery grin.
Kalena left her room and crept quietly through the Hatar Kalar dormitories. Once outside she halted as the cold morning air hit her and felt the skin on her face freeze and watched as her breath puffed into the morning air.
‘It is cold now, but you know it will be nice and warm once the sun comes up.’
“Knowing that does not stop me from being cold now.”
Adhamh did not reply, so Kalena pulled the collar of her jacket closer around her neck and trudged grumpily towards the Hatar’le’margarten Quarters.
What had his feathers so ruffled that whatever he had in mind had to be done right this instant? Adhamh had extracted her promise of help without telling Kalena what she was helping with. Not asking is something that Kalena will never do again. She will chalk this experience up as another life lesson of not to agree to do something until you have all the information needed to decide. Even friends need to hear a No every now and then.
There were not many people around at this time of the morning except for the Kalar Watch. These people either nodded or watched her walk passed them. Kalena felt very conscious, and a little irritated, of their gazes. It was a Freeday, and she was allowed to wander in any of the public areas she wished. She just hoped that whatever Adhamh wanted help with was worth it.
“What is it Adhamh that could not let me sleep for a few more hours?”Kalena snapped at the Hatar as she pushed through the leather curtain into his room.
Adhamh was standing at his desk with his back to her and Kalena resisted the urge to step on his feathered tail to get him to look at her.
‘Come and have a look at this.’
Adhamh’s excitement buzzed across her mind and the emotional wake of it made her forget to be annoyed that he did not look at her as he spoke. Kalena tried to give him a melodramatic sigh, but all that came out was a half gurgle, half cough.
“What is it Adhamh?” she said in order to rescue what was left of her decorum. The phrase had been repeated a lot this morning and Kalena was beginning to get tired of it.
‘Come and look and see for yourself.’
Kalena could not help rolling her eyes even though Adhamh could not see it, and stepped around his tail, and ducked under a half folded wing to stand by his shoulder at the table.
Piled high on the ends of the table were books. Lots of books. Poking out from between the book stacks were the ends of numerous scrolls, mingled with folded pieces of parchment paper. Taking up a majority of the space on the desk was a large sheet of parchment which Kalena saw was actually a large and very detailed map of Darkon. Some of the map had been marred by large, red crosses that, judging by the spatter, looked to have been made in a hurry with something larger than a stylus.
Kalena looked down at the large feet next to her and found the offending claw still tipped in red ink.
“It is a map of Darkon, which you have smudged red ink all over.”
Adhamh let go a short snort that fluttered the edges of the tightly packed scrolls and papers.
‘Yes. It is a map of Darkon, but it is so much more than that. This is a map into our history.’
Kalena frowned, a little confused.
“You want me to help you study history?”
Adhamh shook his head and then looked down at her with that smug, superior way he had. Kalena ignored his look and glanced closer at the map. Adhamh’s red marks were set not in Darkon, but around its outskirts in the surrounding foothills. Most of the crosses were clustered to the Northeast with a lone cross sitting nearly opposite to the South.
‘No. I want you to help me find something. It is from an old myth of the Hatar’le’margarten and I want to see if it was at all true. My mother said that it was, but I have never seen it mentioned in any of the records here.’
Kalena glanced up at the Hatar, an eyebrow raised quizzically and she hesitated a moment before speaking, unsure of how to broach this with her best friend. In the end Kalena decided that bluntness was the only way.
“Are you telling me that you want to chase around after children’s tales?”
‘Not a children’s tale. It is a legend. A very important one for my people. And a legend which I think actually finished her in Darkon.’
The tone in Adhamh’s voice was defensive but firm and gave Kalena the last piece of information to decide upon. Whatever this legend is, it was clearly important to him. And as his friend, the only thing she could do was help him. She slowly let go a pent up sigh and let her shoulders sink slightly in defeat.
“Okay Adhamh. But before we start to do or look for anything, you need to tell me the tale of this legend. That way I’ll have a better idea of what I’m looking for.”
‘Very well. Come, perch yourself down and listen to the tale.’
Adhamh laid himself comfortably on the floor and Kalena settled herself within the feathered nook of his foreleg. It was warm and comfortable and Kalena knew she would have to watch herself so as not to fall asleep.
Once they were both ready, Adhamh began to speak his tale.