CHAPTER 3: STRENGTH OF HEART

It was just getting dark when I awoke later that day. Anděl was just pulling the horse to a stop, Martin stopping his horse behind him. Anděl slid himself off the horse landing soundlessly to the ground, helping me down the moment his feet touched the road. "What's goin' on...?" I asked rubbing my eyes with the back of one hand.

"We're resting here for the night." Anděl said leading me and the horse to the side of the road. "It's to dangerous to continue in the dark."

I could barely make out Martin taking something out of a bag on the saddle of his horse. The two of them busied themselves setting up the camp for the night. While I sit here moping in self-pity. I watched while Anděl fought for a moment with the flint and tender to get the fire going. Then the fire sparked to life dancing in happiness of being free. Both of them weren't letting what just happened get to them. Martin had went through something so horrible and his whole life changed all in the matter of minutes. He wasn't letting that get to him, he walked and spoke with purpose.

Even Anděl, who I quickly realize had spent all his life, being abused because of his heritage. I feel sorry for calling him 'lizard-man' behind his back now. Although he's more than likely been called worse. No wonder he acts so cold and indifferent at times. No wonder he hid himself behind that giant cloak. He was rude and mean to me, but he still showed me kindness; although it was a weird way of showing it. No one seems to have ever treated him as a living being before, with a thinking mind, that had feelings. He didn't know how to react.

I stood up so abruptly the two of them snapped their heads in my direction. "I'm sorry..." I whispered out, my head hanging. I straightened my back holding my head up. I realize now that Anděl was right in calling me 'kid'. I was acting like a spoiled rotten child. Taking a deep breath I calmed myself. The two of them gave me a questioning look; Anděl's eyebrow raising higher by the second. "The... two of you have bigger worries than my mental break down right now."

Martin sat the food he was rationing out down. He stood, stepping over Anděl's outstretched tail, to place both hands on my shoulders smiling at me. "It takes great strength to stand and fight, and even greater to admit that you're afraid." He smiled warmly, his blue eyes twinkling. "Do not worry about what you can not do, focus on what you can." There isn't anything that I can really do, nothing that would matter in the long run for now. But for now, I can focus on stop acting like a brat. I smiled, and Martin's face brightened up as well.

"Thanks." I grinned. "Both of you." I looked over at Anděl, he glanced sideways. Martin went back to finish portioning out food, while Anděl sat by the fire. His tail tapping up and down as if he were thinking hard. His gaze followed as I sat down beside him by the fire.

"So you're better now?" He asked still looking at me.

"No I'm horrified, I just want to go home, but getting emotional isn't helping anyone." I bit my lip concentrating on the fire crackling. "But I think I can get through this, because I'm not alone."

"Hey, Selene."

"Hum?" I looked up at Anděl.

He had a wide grin plastered across his face. "Stop trying to talk so mature, it isn't like you!" He howled in laughter plopping his hand onto my head roughly. After he was satisfied he had messed up my hair enough he withdrew his hand. I brought my hands to my head rubbing my throbbing scalp. Martin shook his head and sighed, trying to hide the smile on his face; by covering his face with a hand.

I remember that cat's don't like it very much when you grab the end of their tail. It'd twitch and try and jerk it back to itself and look all pissed at the world. Heaven forbid if you mess up its fur. With that in mind I took a hold of Anděl's red scaled tail as he continued to laugh in his humor. As expected his tail twitched up and he tried to pull it back to himself. He stopped laughing as I pulled his tail toward myself, and he, back to himself.

Payback is going to be a bitch. I thought smiling evilly. I noticed imminently a small gold band around his tail. A swift tug and it was free as his hands came toward me. Dropping his tail I jumped to my feet clutching the band to my chest. I know he could have caught me faster than he actually attempted. We ran around poor Martin and the fire twice before he grabbed me up and plopped back down where we had started. "Here." I laughed trying to unpin my arms from under his.

His chin plopped onto my head as he settled me into his lap. "Keep it." I wiggled my hand into the band letting it settle onto my wrist. I looked at Martin smiling and shaking his head at us.

Martin handed us our share of food, it was real awkward trying to eat. With my arms pined under Anděl's. I stopped fighting trying to get free after half an hour. He wasn't going to release me for some strange reason. I'll just stick a piece of fruit up his nose when he's not looking. I giggled out loud.


Anděl had us awake early the next morning to continue back to Weynon Priory. The trip back was relatively silent. No one wanted to really talk anymore. The area started looking pretty familiar now. The town that we had left before to find Martin was coming into view. Speaking of Martin, I looked over at him, neither of the guys had told me what was so important about finding him. He was just a priest or something right? I'm glad he's with us and all; I feel like I can trust him.

Not because he's a human and Anděl a half elf. There's just something about the man that makes you feel like you've known him forever. Never mind whatever reason he's with us; what do I have to do with all of this. It isn't like I can just ask them where I fit into all of this... because one they wouldn't know and two I don't even belong here to begin with.

I don't belong here. In a world where there are elves and magic. And people in weird red robes attacking churches... wait woah! The church that we had left before, people were killing the priests! What is going on! Anděl jumped down to meet that rude elf from before, he was panicking and with good reason. One of those men in red robes were chasing him down the hill. Martin jumped from his horse to grab onto the one I was on. She was getting spooked and about threw me off.

"Stay here!" Anděl shouted pulling his sword from the corpse at his feet. I fell off the horse and Martin caught me. I stared wide eyed at the blood pooling under the dead man, and it ran slowly down the cobble stone road.

"Do not look." Martin said as he covered my eyes. I had already seen to much and felt sick. I closed my eyes tightly together and buried my face in his robes. The screams and clash of weapons began dying down soon after. Now it was quiet, well for a moment. A man screamed something about an 'amulet of kings'. And doors were slammed, Anděl shouted about him being an idiot, and leaving it where it could be found.

It was only quiet for a few minutes before Anděl bantered on. "This is horse-shit! I can't believe you lost it!" I peaked out to see him turn on a balding man. The older man stared him down demanding respect.

"We have no time to argue about this. We must get Martin to safety..." He looked to Martin and me. "Who is this!" He placed a hand on his sword staring at me.

"A companion of mine." Martin stepped in front of me protectively.

The other priest gave a scrutinizing glare. "Are you sure she can be trusted?"

I could hear the smile in Martin's voice. "I trust her with my life." He doesn't even know me, how can he say that? You're way to caring and trusting Martin, I hope that doesn't end up hurting you later.

"Look I'm not waiting around for you forever." Anděl grit out placing a hand on the saddle of our horse. That reminds me, where is brother Maborel?

"W-where's Maborel?" I peaked at the other priest from under Martin's arm.

His eyes looked sad then as if just remembering something horrible. Don't... tell me that he's... "He has passed on."

Martin looked down at me and placed a hand on top of my head. "Everything will be fine." He whispered to me. What kind of sick people would kill priests anyway. This whole world is twisted! I know it has something to do with Martin; what's so special about him. That could cause these things to happen. I know there is something about him, I'm not that stupid. Here isn't the place to have that discussion though. Anděl helped me back onto the horse as our bigger group got on its way.

I could see the older man that had just joined us whispering a prayer under his breath; keeping his head bowed until he had finished. Martin and him had a hushed conversation that I couldn't make out anything in detail. It had something to do with their religion I think, I can't be to positive on it. There's that 'Oblivion' thing again, and something about a 'May... Mayrunes? Daygone?'

"Anděl, who's Mayrune Daygone?"

"Mehrunes Dagon." He corrected me. "He is the Daedric Prince of Destruction. He resides in the Plane Oblivion his realm is known as the Deadlands. He is obviously not content in his barren wasteland... and is seeking to take over this realm." So he's the ring leader behind that hell portal that Anděl had to go into. I... don't even want to know what the inside of that place looks like just from the outside. And poor Anděl didn't have a choice in that matter, he had to face hell head on.

He didn't seem to act any different, but it did take a tole on him physically as well as mentally. What ever he had seen and gone through in there wasn't a walk through the park, so to speak. "You alright?"

He snapped out of his daze he had been in since he started talking about Oblivion. "Merely thinking, I am fine."

I chewed on my lower lip for a bit. "Hey Anděl, where are you going once we get Martin to that temple place? You're going to leave aren't you?" I noticed my tone got slightly worried. I didn't want him to go, it was like he had already became my security blanket. "Do you have someone to go back to?" No clue why I asked that! "Never mind it's none of my business!" I've gotten this bad habit lately of just blurting out what ever I mean to think, but it comes out instead.

He chuckled slightly. "Yes, I plan on leaving as soon as possible. And to answer your previous question, no I do not." Chatter was kept short from then on. The men didn't want a surprise attack on us, and I have to agree with that one hundred percent. But at least with a larger group we would be better protected. Anděl knows how to fight, apparently the older priest Jauffre knows what he's doing as well, but Martin I have no idea what he's capable of. And I'm just a sitting duck if something does happen to go wrong.

Anděl protected me once, but would he do it again is the question. I'm starting to get the impression that he would. He doesn't seem the type to just allow someone to be killed right in front of him if he can prevent it. That thought gets me thinking, I really don't want to die. I try to swallow but my throat is dry by this point. If I were ever to become separated from Anděl, Martin or Jauffre, I would be dead.

I know nothing about this world at all. I don't know what awaits just around the corner for me. If there are other things like those Daedra, or even worse. With every shadow that passed over us and every bush, rock and tree I began to feel even more afraid. I didn't even notice as my hand latched onto Anděl's around my waist. Would praying to God out here help, would he even hear me so far from home?

I know I said I wasn't going to be a whining brat, but I don't think I can handle this. I'm just a high-school girl! I'm supposed to be with my friends hanging out at the mall, not in the middle of a forest. I watched a dark group of trees as we passed by. They seemed so innocent and calm, but something could be hiding waiting to attack us. How much farther was it going to be before we got to where ever it is we're supposed to be going!

"Clam down, you're going to have a nervous break down." Anděl whispered over the top of my head. Calm, how can anyone expect me to be calm. This place is a nut house! I'll try though, I've already had one break down. I don't want to have a repeat of that episode either. Yet I don't like feeling so powerless. If something were to happen what would I do1? "Selene, everything is fine."

"Why couldn't I have just stayed home!" I attempted at rocking back and forth in the saddle. "I should have been a good sister. I should have just let the jacket go!" I continued to ramble on until Anděl placed his hand over my mouth muffling out anything I said.

"As soon as we get Martin to Cloud Ruler Temple. I'll take you home." Anděl spoke slowly removing his hand from over my mouth. "Until then I need you to calm down." I relaxed again sitting still, and finally noticing that I still had Anděl's hand in a death grip. That only ended up with me fidgeting nervously picking at the saddle horn. Anděl released me for a second to grab my hand and returning his previous hold, trapping my hand under his.

He wasn't saying anything else now. I guess he figured he had said enough. Besides he gave off that he was to much of a man to be to sympathetic. It was enough though to make me calm down somewhat and stop panicking. I wonder though if it is possible to get home from here. If there was a way to be brought here, then there should be a way back. At least that's what I would think.