The Curse of the Orthana by Nick Tamboia

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“I left my throne a million years ago. I carry the seal and hold the sword. They give me the power to split the world in two. Now open wide and . .Sayyy myyyy naaaam! Time Lord Mother. Mother!”

By the time the voice sang that last word, Alia saw the figure emerge from the misting fog, and gasped, as the figure came to a sudden stop, gawking back at her.

What she was looking at was a small boy riding on the back of a very large bull elk with a large rack of huge antlers on its head, and the boy had what looked like large black feathered wings on his back.

For a long moment the girl and boy just looked at one another while the elk just waited.

“Looks like you got yourself stuck,” the boy finally remarked.

Alia made no reply at first, just looked at the boy over wondering what he was doing this deep in the woods, riding on a bull elk. He looked small, about her age, only he had very tan skin tones, long wavy black hair that framed an attractive, oval shaped face. His eyes were large, and seemed to be glowing a gold coloring. And where those real wings on his back? He was shirtless, and wearing what looked like a loincloth that was a red-brown coloring, and boots that looked to be made out of vines and leaves.

Glancing away from the boy she looked down at her ankle and then tried to think of what to say. “What makes you think I am stuck?”

The boy put a cute expression on his face that suggested he thought the question a silly one. “Probably the way your ankle is wedged in that crack in them boulders.”

“It’s not.” She wasn’t sure she could trust him yet, and while she wanted help, she didn’t want to let a strange kid she had just met in the woods think she was weak and defenseless.

“It’s stuck,” the boy insisted.

The elk looked around, uninterested in the conversation.

“It’s not,” Alia insisted. “Maybe I’m just relaxing.”

The boy put a doubtful expression on his face. “Relaxing in the rain? With your foot stuck in a crack in a boulder?”

Alia frowned at him. “Who are you?”

“I am me. At least I was the last time I checked,” the boy replied. And with that he leapt off of the back of the elk, those wings on his back stretching out as he did so, and fluttered for a moment before he landed on the ground before the wall of boulders.

“Okay,” Alia said as she looked at the boy. “You have wings.”

“And you don’t,” the boy replied.

“I thought it was like a weird cape you were wearing at first,” Alia remarked.

“I don’t wear stuff like that,” the boy remarked as he paced around on the forest flower below her. “Not even when I am with the other Magi at important events and meetings and such. Not much for getting dressed up.”

“Obviously,” Alia remarked as she looked over what little he was wearing.

“Who are you? And why are you this deep in the woods?”

“My name is, Alia,” she finally told the boy. “I am hiding.”

“Hiding?” The boy glanced around as he asked that, as his wings stretched out and folded back against his shoulders. “Hiding from who?”

Alia sighed and decided to tell the boy what had happened to her. She doubted he was with the Witch Hunters since he had wings on his back. She explained how the Witch Hunters and a Puritan Man named Kane, who she was certain was not a real man, but a soul stealing demon pretending to be a man, were looking for her because she could use magic and they thought she was a witch and were going to kill her, and how she had been hiding with the old midwife, Nann, but they had showed up to the cabin and she had gone into the woods to hide from them, but had gotten lost.

“I was trying to get over these rocks, and my foot slipped and I slid down and got stuck,” she concluded.

“And you can’t use your magic to get out?” The boy frowned up at her.

“No. Obviously,” she replied. “If I could I wouldn’t be here right now, now would I?”

“Guess not,” the boy admitted.

“Who are you and why are you this deep in the woods riding on that thing?” Alia asked again.

“What thing?”

“That,” Alia said as she pointed at the elk.
The boy turned around and looked at the huge animal before looking back at Alia. “That’s Bob. He spells his name with a ‘K’. He’s a good friend of mine. And me? Most people call me Alowishus Devadander Abercrombie. I don’t like that name, so you can just call me, Raven.”

Alia frowned at that. “Okay, Raven. Why are you this deep in the forest alone, riding on Bob?”

“Well, that’s a long story, most of which I forgot,” the boy replied as he looked over the boulders in front of him with his gold colored eyes. “I guess I should help you get down from there. If you want?”

“Yes please.” Considering that he had wings on his back, Alia assumed he might be able to use magic like her, but what the boy next did just made her think he was crazy.

Leaning forward and putting his right hand to the side of his mouth, the boy shouted at the boulders. “Hay! Let her go right now!”

Alia rolled her eyes in a sarcastic gesture at that. “I think you’re mad.”

Ignoring that, the boy stepped up to the boulder and knocked the knuckles of his right fist against them. “Wake up stone head and let that girl go, right quick!”

Alia sighed and shook her head, sure the boy was insane.

That was when she felt the boulders around her suddenly tremble as little pebbles rolled down to the ground around her.

“Wake up Old Man, Stone Hill, and let her go!” the boy shouted at the boulders.

There was a deep rumbling that seemed to come up from the forest floor, like a roll of thunder. At the same time the girl felt the boulders and rock around her trembling. Then there came a loud cracking sound, and as the Alia looked down she saw the crevice her foot had been wedged in, slowly opening up. In moments her ankle was free and she pulled her foot out, looked it over to be sure it was okay, and then slid down to the ground.

Amazed by what had happened, the girl looked from the winged boy over to the hill of stone and boulders she had been stuck in.

“How did you do that?”

“I didn’t,” the boy remarked. “Old Man Stone Hill did. All I did was asked him to do it.”