By T.K. Wilson
Word Count: 15261
Rating: PG for depictions of PTSD panic attacks and violence
Summary: When Lady Goewyn of House Meridian meets the long missing treeman of roses, Lord Rhodon of the Western March, her eyes are opened to a new world of danger, magic, and healing.
Chapter 11: Fight Fire with Fire
Goewyn, now seated in Rhodon’s throne, listened as the lords and ladies discussed what to do about the fire witch.
“I am not abandoning my garden!” snarled Rhodon.
“No flowers are worth your life!” Ablach shot back.
“All Ablach is saying is you need to be prepared for the possibility that you’ll have to leave should the witch resurface.” stated Maia.
“Nothing is saying she will, she may have run back to wherever she came from.” put in Betsan.
Goewyn leaned her chin on her hand grunting
“Good night, Rhodon, have you always been this stubborn?”
Goewyn turned her attention to the creek that ran through the middle of the garden. She knew it flooded every year, and quite heavily from what she knew. A plan was beginning to form in her mind, something that might grant victory in this battle.
“Excuse me, Lords and Ladies, I believe I have an idea!”
The elves of Meridian were busy from lunchtime (the very earliest they could get organised) to the night and through it, contracting with the animals of the forest and the two Lords of the Marches to put Goewyn’s plan into action. The idea was to force a flood close to Rhodon’s garden, soaking the ground and making it impossible for the fire witch to use her powers, but still leaving the opportunity for Goewyn and the dryads to use theirs. It was risky, but it may be the only chance. Betsan and Goewyn maintained command over what was going on all that night. Dried out trees were brought in and thrown down into the creekbed, at a place where the banks were not as high. Only a few trees were needed to make the dam that way. Bags of stones and sand reinforced the back side of the wall, and the cracks stuffed with clay and moss. The ground nesting animals were evacuated to higher ground by elves with the talent to speak to and work with them.
“It doesn’t have to be perfect, we only need it in place for a few hours, half a day at most. By then the witch will have made her move.” said Goewyn.
“Are you certain this will work?” said Rhodon carrying one of the white roses out of Akasma’s memorial.
“Positive, she can’t light the forest on fire if everything’s wet! It will at least protect the garden. Look, the water’s already rising!” said Goewyn, pointing to the water.
“What did this witch look like?” asked Betsan.
“It was very strange. She was young, can’t have been older than twenty three earth years. And she was angry. I don’t think she was really evil-”
“She is a witch, Goewyn!” snapped Rhodon.
“Not all who turn to magic are evil. Some only seek solace and some with true talent are seduced to the side of darkness because they know no better.”
Rhodon knew this was true. He looked down briefly.
“I am sorry. I spoke far out of turn. Please forgive my ignorance.”
“It’s alright, Rhodon. I understand your feelings. But this girl seemed more hurt than anything else. I don’t know any more about her, not even her name.”
Rhodon looked to the east. The sun was rising over the forest, shining through the wisps of smoke that rose over the Eastern March. His roses were safe on the high ground, and almost all of Akasma’s roses were moved out. Rhodon looked at Goewyn, sitting in his throne, directing what she could. So much like Solana! But even she would not have thought of a scheme like this… Rhodon only hoped it would work.
Ablach entered the garden dusting off his hands and clothes.
“Well, that’s done it! The dam is completed, and this place is going to be a swamp before long!”
“Excellent! I think we’ve all earned a good meal and some rest!” proclaimed Betsan.
Goewyn and the other elves dozed after eating breakfast around the area of Rhodon’s cottage. Rhodon himself was awake, thinking.
“Crown for your thoughts?” asked a voice behind him. Rhodon turned, it was Ablach. The treeman of apples sat down beside his kinsman.
“Where is Maia?”
“Sleeping. We all worked hard last night. My question is, why aren’t you sleeping?”
“I am not sleepy.”
“Come now. I know you had one of your attacks yesterday. You must be exhausted.”
Rhodon swallowed hard.
“How’d I know? Something about your eyes. Oh, you go to great lengths to hide what and when it happens, but you get like this haunted look. I was there when you had your first one, I know what it looks like.”
Rhodon looked at his hands, flexing his fingers.
“I am tired, but I cannot sleep. I know I will see it again.”
“Yes, the smell of smoke still lingers, and that always brings them back. I will not break down in front of all these people. I cannot put Goewyn through it again, the poor girl must have been terrified.”
“Rhodon, I still get nightmares too, you know. I blamed myself for awhile, I would think I should have gotten to you before he did. Then Akasma would be alive and you wouldn’t suffer so.”
“You should not have done that.”
“It’s natural to wish you could have done something to stop a tragedy. But you feel things so deeply, it is also natural that you react this way.”
“Goewyn said so.”
“Perceptive girl, Goewyn is. But don’t you feel better, now that you’re not alone? I realise you’re an introvert, but you must feel so much better not to be alone anymore, to have a friend that’s not me or Raven.”
Rhodon thought about it. Yes, it was good to have someone to talk to, someone who understood him and did not push him into things, and shared his enjoyment of flowers. Not as a romantic partner of course, but still a friend.
“Yes. Yes, I do feel differently now that I have Goewyn as my friend.”
“That’s good. That’s very good. Now how about you getting some sleep?”
Rhodon nodded and shambled inside his cottage, asleep almost before his head hit the pillow.
Rhodon awoke with a start after what had seemed to be only a few minutes, finding Goewyn shaking him.
“Goewyn, what is the matter?”
“We’ve got trouble, she’s right outside!