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Jogger's Trail the Story (Part 3)

A journey begins.

By Donna Fox (HKB)Published 8 months ago Updated 8 months ago 12 min read
15
Jogger's Trail the Story (Part 3)
Photo by Leo Chane on Unsplash

This is a continuation of Jogger’s Trail, Jogger’s Trail the Story and Jogger’s Trail the Story (Part 2). If you haven’t read them I suggest you do so before reading the following.

“There is only one that we know of…” Nakos began, sighing as he seemed to fall deeper in thought or possibly memory.

“The first of our kind were told that the only way to reverse what we have become is to find The Chosen One.” He continued, his gaze still distant as though he found himself elsewhere. “The Chosen One is a human that will give us the chance to redeem ourselves. In redemption, we will be allowed to transcend from what we have become to move on to the next plain.”

“And you think The Chosen One is me?” I inquired, narrowing my eyes as I watched him in disbelief.

Nakos nodded, observing with a look that suggested he could see through me. His eyes creased in the corners as he watched me but still held that distant expression.

“Your name means survivor, that can’t simply be a coincidence.” He replied, smacking his lips together in what I interpreted as satisfaction.

A cruel chuckle chilled the air from the shadows, we all turned to see Alaric as he stepped into the light. A delirious smile upon his lips as he laughed to himself, “That is the stupidest reason you’ve had yet.” He accused, reclaiming his seat along the fire with us. Wicking away a few tears of laughter, “First you thought Ezra because his name means chosen, then Alex because her name meant saviour and then Xavier for the same reason. You ever think your method isn’t all it’s cracked up to be?” Alaric added, battling a fit of laughter that threatened to escape his lips once more.

“And you think your method is any better?” Madra challenged, getting up and looming over him. “Oh let’s pick that one, I like the way they take charge. Hmmm, let’s pick that one, I like his brute strength. You just pick the ones that remind you of you.” She explained with extra emphasis on her last few words.

Alaric stood so that he loomed over her, as they began to squabble only the way an old married couple would. Their faces were inches from each other and rage present in their gazes.

“What are they talking about?” I inquired in a hushed voice, leaning near Mendel. But keeping a close eye on the growing hostile disagreement, before us as Nakos sought fit to chime in.

“Every year we each choose a human who we think has the most potential to be The Chosen One.” He explained, “You are Nakos’ choice, this year.” 

“So this has less to do with being chosen and more to do with if I survive whatever comes next?” I asked in disbelief, feeling a beat of sweat run down my back.

“From what I’ve gathered, yeah.” He replied, a little too casually, with a nod.

“Then why tell the story of The Chosen One?” I inquired, glaring at him in annoyance.

If there was one thing I hated more than being forced to do things against my will, it was being manipulated into it.

“The tale is true, just we aren’t sure how to tell which human is The Chosen One. So we thought this was the best way to find out.” He explained with an absentminded smile and glance of apprehension before turning his gaze to the bickering adults.

“Oh okay,” I replied airily, rising from my seat. “Well this has been fun but I’ve got to go now,” I announce nonchalantly and start to walk toward the cave entrance.

“No, you need to stay. You’re The Chosen One,” Nakos stated, breaking away from the argument and causing the other two to pause.

“No, I’m not. I’m a human that you have chosen. Not The Chosen One.” I explained, taking a couple more steps.

“That doesn’t mean you’re not The Chosen One,” Mendel stated, now standing with the others. A look of desperation in his grey eyes, his wings drooping sadly behind him.

“How will we know if I am?” I challenged, looking to Nakos for an answer.

“We will know once we’ve brought you to The Place of Creation and have faced the seven Perils of Efil. Then we will complete a ritual that will help us transcend and you will be rid of us.” He explained, a little too theatrically for my liking.

“And how many humans have made it that far?” I challenged, pursing my lips as my hands found their way to resting on my hips. My brows furrowed in an unimpressed expression as the heat rose to my cheeks with anger.

“We did get one passed the third peril,” Mendel replied with innocent excitement, smiling as he did so.

“That’s not helpful Mendel,” Nakos muttered with a glance of disapproval. “We’ve obviously never finished the perils or we wouldn’t need you.” He explained with a sobering look of apprehension.

“So you want me to do the seven perils with beings that haven’t even been halfway through all of them? Oh, and I’ll only know if I’m The Chosen One if I survive?” I questioned, wondering if anyone else thought this was as ludicrous as I did.

“Pretty much, yeah.” Alaric chimed in with an approving smile, and nod.

“Yeah, I’m still leaving,” I commented and headed for the exit.

“One toe out of the cave and I’ll make good on my promise from earlier,” Alaric stated, his eyes darkening in foreboding.

“You don’t even think I’m The Chosen One, so what do you care? And let’s face it, those two won’t let you lay a finger on me because they don’t want to damage The Chosen One.” I retorted, gesturing toward Madra and Nakos, giving him a smug grin as I waited for his response.

“Enough of this.” Madra intervened, “You’re not going anywhere because we chose you and you have no choice but to do what we say.”

“Or what, you’ll let Alaric eat me?” I challenged, looking at her in disbelief. My mouth hung slightly open as I watched her through narrowed eyes.

“Look, we just need you to cooperate and then we’ll let you go.” Madra implored, taking a step closer. Her brows pinched together in pleading.

“You want me to cooperate with the creatures who kidnapped me and only refrained from eating me because you like the meaning of my name? Only then to prolong my possible death in hopes of freeing themselves from a curse that they so far seem deserving of?” I asked, tilting my head in disbelief as I waited for the answer. 

Madra began to nod, “Yes.”

“You’re insane,” I muttered under my breath, shaking my head as I spun on my heels and headed for the corridor.

“Remember-“

“I know what you said and I don’t think you can make good on that at the moment.” I interrupted Alaric, rounding the corner and marching toward the mouth of the cave.

My feet hesitated a moment as the rock floor of the cave turned to forest soil. Resting my hand on the wall I observed the scene before me, a dark forest with who knows what other kinds of creatures lurking in wait.

Weighing my options I slumped against the wall and curled myself into a pout, watching the last light of day fade into darkness and the sky turning a deep shade of mauve. I watched the first stars begin to emerge from their blanket of slumber.

My peace was disturbed by the light sound of a single set of hooves coming down the cave corridor behind me. I didn’t bother looking over my shoulder as they settled in alongside me at the mouth of the cave and looked up at the stars too.

We sat silent, observing the star-littered sky above us for some time. The voices in the cave behind us continued to echo. Laced with undeterminable emotion and inaudible conversation from this distance.

“I suppose they sent you to bring me back.” I assumed begrudgingly, biting back some of the venom in my voice.

“No, they're having a row again and I usually like to duck out when that happens.” Mendel explained, “You just happen to be in my spot.”

“Oh, sorry for the inconvenience,” I replied sarcastically, flaring my nostrils in annoyance at his audacity.

He chuckled to himself, “You didn’t end up leaving.” He commented, still watching the stars with a look of admiration.

Glancing in his direction, I could see the night sky reflected in his grey eyes. The stars sparkled back at themselves as a pleased smile spread upon his lips.

For a moment I was mesmerized by the unexpected beauty of a creature so jarring to behold in the light of day. Giving myself a shake, I returned my gaze to the stars.

“I can’t see in the dark, it’s no use fumbling around in the forest and getting eaten by a wild animal,” I explained, knowing that was more excuse than truth. 

“Hmmm.” Mendel hummed thoughtfully, “Well I’m glad you didn’t leave.” He stated, looking at me with a weak smile. “I think it means we still have a chance to convince you that we’re worth the risk.” He explained, then shyly returned his gaze to the stars as I had done.

“When first light comes, I’ll be out of here,” I commented coldly, avoiding his gaze.

“That’s a shame, Nakos and I were hoping you’d choose to help us.” He professed in disappointment. “That’s what we think went wrong with the others that were chosen. They were forced into helping us instead of choosing it themselves and maybe that’s why they failed.”

“That’s a great theory but it won’t make me change my mind,” I commented. Finding a few pebbles at my feet, scooped them up and began to toss them into the dark forest, one by one.

“I figured as much, but I thought it was worth a try.” He nodded, watching the pebbles soar through the air.

“How can you expect me to volunteer for something that I have no understanding of and no idea what the dangers are that I will be facing?” I inquired, shooting him a look of unease.

“Do you always know what will happen before it happens?” He countered, blinking innocently at me.

“What do you mean?” I asked, glaring at him in suspicion.

“When you get into your car and drive somewhere, do you know you’ll arrive at your destination safely?” He inquired, titling his head and watching me closely.

“For the most part, yeah,” I replied, furrowing my brow as I wondered where he was going with this.

“How do you know that? How do you know you won’t get in an accident and die?” He questioned, his expression neutral and unreadable.

“Well, I don’t.” I admitted, “I just have faith that-“ I paused, with the realization of what he was getting at.

My eyes met his merl grey ones and we shared a look of understanding.

He smiled, “Exactly, sometimes you just need faith that everything will work out. That this is what is meant to happen and you only need to follow the path you’re given.” He reiterated with a pleased smile.

“But isn’t this a little different than driving a car?” I asked, almost feeling foolish at the inquiry.

“I suppose, but I’d like to think the only factor in this is how much faith you choose to put into us as your protectors.” He explained, with a slight tilt of his head as he observed me.

“It’s hard to argue with that,” I commented, looking to the stars once more in thought.

Whether I wanted to do this or not, I was destined to go through the perils. The best thing I could do was to willingly go with them and maybe I’d have a chance at surviving.

Nodding to myself, I turned my gaze back to Mendel.

“Why didn’t you just say you were out here to collect me?” I questioned, with a faux look of displeasure.

“I didn’t think you’d listen if I said so.” He admitted, groaning as he got to his feet and offered me a bony hand to help me up.

Accepting his offer, he pulled me to my feet with his cold scaly hand.

“Thanks,” I muttered following him down the corridor toward the fire and other Relliks.

The voices stopped the moment we rounded the corner and all eyes fell on me.

“You came back?” Alaric questioned with a furrowed brow in surprise.

I nodded and took a seat at the fire, warming my hands as I avoided their gazes. Still pouting that I had no way of escaping.

“This is great news,” Nakos stated with a stretched smile as he settled into his place near the fire. “We should all get some rest and we will head to The Place of Creation, in the morning.” He announced.

The next morning, we rose early and made our way north. Where exactly I was unsure, only that they called it The Place of Creation. Which only took a day to get to with me riding on Alaric’s back as we flew most of the way and then walked the last portion.

Finding ourselves at a ruin in the middle of nowhere, that looked like it had been devoid of life for longer than the human race existed.

Sliding off Alaric’s back, “Now what?” I asked, looking to Nakos for more instruction.

“Now we need a key.” He stated, examining the claw on his pointer finger as he hobbled towards me. “Come child.” He beckoned as he lead me up a set of crumbling stairs and to a small altar. The setting sun made the markings on the ruins hard to make out as I blindly followed Nakos and the others followed us.

He grabbed my hand and sliced the palm with his claw before placing it on the stone altar, where I could barely make out a faded handprint.

Immediately the hand print began to glow and small lines raced all around the altar, lighting up like glow sticks and illuminating the ruins upon the altar.

Nakos pulled my hand away as the top of the altar began to slide off its pedestal and reveal an opening.

Part 4:

Magical RealismFictionFantasyCliffhangerAdventure
15

About the Creator

Donna Fox (HKB)

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Comments (12)

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  • L.C. Schäfer7 months ago

    I fell behind on this series, can't wait to get stuck in to Part 4 in the morning 😁 I love their reasons for choosing chosen ones, they seem quite human in some ways 😁 I only have one teensy criticism so far: "Accepting his offer, he pulled me to my feet with his cold scaly hand" - that sentence needs something, I think 🤔

  • J. S. Wade8 months ago

    Wow. Read parts 2 and 3. I’m loving it. Great characters and love the pace. 🥰. Can’t wait for the next one. 😍

  • Paul Stewart8 months ago

    loving this! the dialogue is great and I am excited for the next part!

  • This was the best chapter yet!!! I loved the conversation. I was so glad she choose to go willingly. I can’t wait to get to part four tomorrow. I hope you break up each of the perils into separate chapters. However you do it I AM LOOKING FORWARD to reading them. Great job Donna your talent is really showing through on these stories!

  • Thavien Yliaster8 months ago

    This went from horror to comedy at the drop of a hat. Tesha's rock and a hard place are "So either You kill and eat me know our I go through the perils of Efil die there, and You guys still eat me cause why waste good food? I mean come on, let's be practical here and call a spade a spade. Either way, You guys are still in a win-win situation, and I'm in a win-lose situation. Though continuing to have Your curse isn't ideal, it's better than being dead." Nakos chooses by names, and Alaric chooses by selecting strong and/or macho leadership qualities. How do Madra and Mendel choose? Do they pick based on their personalities too? Madra: "What I'm motherly and compassionate. The world needs a little bit more love these days with some tlc." Mendel: "I don't pick shy ones. I pick ones that are cautious and observant." Alaric: "Your last pick was so cautious they developed IBS out of a fear of farting." I'm no wondering why they don't just choose more than one person per year, and even investigate stuff like reincarnation. "Hey, remember that time that contestant number 3 died?" "Yeah." "How many babies have been born at exactly that same time." "Ugh, I'll get the east." "See You in the west." "We'll check the north and south." "Make sure You remember their social security number, cause if it's a common name it's gonna be a pain." I like how You still continued the trend of reverse words. Perils of Efil, Perils of Life. When I heard about the altar, I thought they were going to sacrifice her to God then and there Old Testament style like how God tested Abraham. Wouldn't surprise me if they had to keep Tesha in a comatose state, while her spirit literally goes on a soul searching journey. I'm imagining a challenge could be for the relliks to starve while she tries to make amends with the people they've eaten. Hence, the relliks would have to be forgiven, and that would also mean that the people they ate would then have to move onto the afterlife. It would be cool to see a knife that kept somebody in a comatose state, but the knife would only start to hurt them if they began to lose faith. Complete trust, no pain at all, like the blade's not even there. I'm surprised that You said they went North. I always viewed this story as taking place in the U.S. or Canada. So, when I think about the origin of life when it comes to the Biblical sense, I'm thinking about a location near the Tigris river. If we're talking in a literal sense, I would be expecting Atlantis based on the theories of life beginning in the ocean. Could there have been earlier life forms? Possibly, but we may not know due to earth's history erasing itself. Lowkey, I did expect Tesha to have at least one of them escort her back to her home or a nearby car. I'm surprised she didn't pull a fast one on them by falling asleep through the night only to wake up earlier than them come the morning. I will say though that I did take Alaric a lot more seriously in part 2 than I did in part 3. Though, Tesha's nerve wracking fear might've played a role in that, I feel like Alaric just got demoted to himbo status. Mendel did make several good points though. I think he takes after Nakos. Either way, I'm currently up too late, reading and commenting.

  • ThatWriterWoman8 months ago

    Oh, I cannot WAIT to read about the perils! This series is so compelling! I am so glad they stayed! Honestly, I am finding the group of Relliks particularly enjoyable! I thought they'd be horrid monsters but they seem so lovely (if you ignore the people-eating!!) - They just want to be free! Brilliantly written as always my friend!

  • Novel Allen8 months ago

    SOOO! you are the chosen one then? Well, the plot thickens, great developing story Donna. Beautifully written.

  • Alexander McEvoy8 months ago

    Totally unexpected! I can't wait for this to continue! Really enjoyed the discussion that MC had with Mendel at the mouth of the cave, it employed a clever bit of philosophy that struck right in my cold, logical heart :) Also, I'm quite curious about what's going to happen with this Altar and the blood... these trials of Efil are tantalizing!

  • The seven Perils of Efil. Efil is life spelled backwards! I love these kinda stuff. I developed a habit of reading names backwards ever since I read the first Harry Potter book because of the Mirror of Erised. Speaking of Harry Potter, the slicing of the palm and using it to reveal the opening reminded me of the cave that required a blood payment for entry in which Voldemort hid the locket in the sixth book. I'm so glad Tesha came back. Wonder what the seven perils could be. I'm soooo eager for the next part!

  • Mark Gagnon8 months ago

    This is moving at a good pace with just enough dialogue to let the characters express their thoughts and feelings. Keep going, please!

  • Dana Crandell8 months ago

    You've got me hooked on this series, Donna. Looking forward to the next one!

  • Rob Angeli8 months ago

    Nice how this trail twists and turns into another change of genre, fine work. So the gates have been opened...

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