Fade to White
Bright warm sun shone down on the roof of the quiet cottage while the birds chirped in the trees, giving the illusion that Ramo had stumbled across an abandoned magical hideaway. If he hadn’t known otherwise, he would have been tempted to wander into the building to look around and to find out if the place was really as pristine and quiet as it looked. It was important that he put Jerek’s bag somewhere that it could easily be found, to prevent it from getting lost and never reaching Jerek at all. That meant close to the house.
Dismounting his horse and holding tightly to the shoulder strap of the bag, Ramo skulked around, cautiously making his way closer to the front door. Everything remained completely quiet, and when he reached the front door and put the sack down onto the ground, he relaxed his shoulders. Next was the sword. Jerek would be furious if he didn’t properly take care of it, so Ramo undid it from his belt and carefully reached over to prop it up against the outside wall. The front door swung open, causing Ramo to stumble backwards and fall down.
That girl was there, standing stunned as she stared down at him. In one of her hands was a bucket, while her other hand still rested on the door. Scrambling backwards, Ramo started to pick himself up with the intent of running, but she said “wait,” and he felt compelled to stop.
“Who are you?” she asked, frowning at him as she took in his black clothes and gloomy appearance.
“Nobody,” Ramo replied, standing up and dusting himself off before turning around to walk back to his horse.
“Did you bring these?” she inquired, stepping outside and picking up the bag, opening it enough to peer inside.
“Make sure that Jerek gets them.”
“Are you Jerek’s friend?” She pulled the door shut, taking a couple steps closer to Ramo.
Looking over his shoulder at her, Ramo replied, “We grew up together.”
“Really?” She smiled, then seemed to realize something that made her pull back slightly. “You’re with Nosaj, aren’t you?”
“Then why haven’t you tried to kill me yet?”
“I’m not . . .” Ramo trailed off, wondering how he should explain it. “I’m not a fighter, and I’m not supposed to be here.”
“People who work for Nosaj are more complicated than I originally thought. Last month I could have sworn to you that all of Nosaj’s minions were blood thirsty murderers who destroyed everything they could, and now I’ve met two of you that break out of that stereotype. What’s up with that?” She laughed slightly.
“I’m Jerek’s best friend,” Ramo blurted out. “I would never do anything to hurt Jerek, and I would never shove away from me no matter what he did.”
Her face grew serious after he said that, and she looked sadly at the ground. “I’m glad that Jerek has a friend like you.”
“I’m just here to help him out. That’s all.”
“Thank you, I’m sure Jerek will appreciate it.”
Curiosity got the better of Ramo, so he casually asked, “How’s he doing?”
“He’s sleeping right now. I just barely finished bandaging up his back, and it looks like he’ll be fine in a couple days. It’s horrible how he was whipped like that, he must have been in a lot of pain.”
“I tried to get him to fight his punishment, but he refused to . . . He said he deserved it.”
“Oh dear.” She put her hand up to her forehead. “That’s probably my fault.”
“Yes it was your fault!” Ramo started fuming, glaring at her. “He didn’t deserve it, but he was hurt because of you.”
She didn’t reply, turning around and picking up Jerek’s sword as well. “I’m sorry,” she whispered, pushing the door open.
“Don’t tell Jerek!” Ramo said before dashing off.
That girl was most definitely a siren, Ramo was sure of that. There was some undefinable characteristic about her that made him want to like her, yet at the same time hate her all the more for using that power in such an evil and manipulative way. Poor Jerek, he had been ensnared by that girl’s enchantment and he was convinced that he loved her, but at the same time Ramo did trust Jerek with her, at least physically. She wouldn’t kill him. She didn’t seem like she was capable of actually harming someone, instead she seemed to be more of the type to use psychological warfare.
Mounting his brown horse, Ramo reaffirmed his conviction in his mind that they needed to get rid of the girl for Jerek’s own good, though he knew now that Jerek would resist and be devastated when it happened. Ramo would be there for him though, to help him pick up the pieces and move on. Perhaps, Jerek would choose to move on with him. Ramo giggled. Yes, that was going to happen. Everything would turn out okay, as long as he trusted in the Commander and stood there for Jerek, no matter what Jerek did or said. Nosaj would help him to win Jerek back.