The Wind and Fire is the first book released in the series and tells the story of two Fourborn Guardians, Kofi and Lela and how the prophecy of the waning moon gives them both direction in a world without freedom.
Kofi Magoro is an unlikely hero:
Second son to Gamba and Sade Magoro, Kofi has been called many things. The village boy, the over protective brother, the rebellious son, the hesitant warrior but nothing has suited him more than being the unlikely hero of his own making.
Brother to Ayo, Xola and Jomo, Kofi inherited his need for adventure from no one in his family. This doesn't stop him from pursuing his dreams, even though he has to work through his uncertainty and the lack of direction that frustrates him.
The open, jovial face in the crowd, Kofi makes friends easily and family takes on an important role in his life. An intelligent spiritualist he has strong ties to his homeland of Zjarri and to it's people and will stop at nothing to keep these ideals safe.
The sacred Fire of Zjarr is everything to Kofi. When he finds himself away from his element, Kofi armed with only his belief and inner strength is forced to kindle the Fire that lives within him on his own even if it means insurgency.
A practicing archer and amateur fire lighter, Kofi likes to start his days off early, rising in time to bask in the sun and all her wonders. He is a keen hunter, an elephant fruit addict and makes the ideal companion if you want to stick around for just one more cup of kava.
As his story grows, Kofi assumes the role of leader of the Fourborn Guardians. Armed with a fierce determination and the Fire that burns inside of him, he will always find a way to continue to fight for what is right.
Lela Iboro Asar is an outcast princess:
The creation of a frowned upon love between Hakim Asar and Thema Kibibi Iboro, Lela was born a despised, motherless child. An only child she grew up with the elements of two very different worlds raging on inside of her.
Roaming the red dunes, Lela is taken in by the outcasts of Brissan society, but this doesn't stop her from fighting the link she has with the Wind. Outspoken, hot headed yet sensitive Lela stands against her father's people while her desperate need for acceptance drives her closer and closer towards Zjarr and the Fire.
In her mind being accepted by her mother's people means that she needs to abandon the Wind completely. Lela soon learns that this is not the case when Wind briefly dominates the Fire. Instead she learns that both elements have to live together in order for her to grow.
Witty, kind hearted and determined, Lela loathes camels and early mornings. A girl of impeccable night vision, unruly hair and a peculiar fashion sense using Brissan colourless glass and crystal bracelets - she is at her happiest next to a roaring camp fire out in the open plains of Zjarri, a cup of kava in hand while she shares stories and honey cakes.
Megan Futcher's Mini-Bio:
People and cultures have always fascinated me and I enjoy thumbing through heavy books on anthropology and archaeology. My novels and novellas dive into an unknown world before recorded history and I love asking the 'what if' question while I share online and write the 4 born, a fantasy spin on human evolution and freedom exploring strength and beauty of multiculturalism.
Wind and Fire Synopsis:
In a world where the four elements rule as gods, the Gaias of Wind, Fire, Water and Earth determine the existence and fate of every man and women. Threatening this seemingly perfect world is the Fourborn – a yet to be identified baby born of all four races and the only one who has the power to set mankind free from it's elemental shackles.
Divinely chosen in the pending chaos is a guardian from each race. With the words of an ancient prophesy as their only guide, they must find and protect the Four born at all costs or risk losing everything they hold dear.
I slept restlessly that night and by the time it came for us to leave Zjarri, I was wide awake.
Day had not yet broken and the world around me was still grey and shadowy, hidden by thick Chuman mist.
I crawled towards the opening of the tent being careful not to wake Lela who had shared the small covered space with me when I felt her grab my arm.
I drew back surprised by the sudden movement, my heart pounding in my chest.
“Don’t leave me alone with him,” she whimpered, “Promise me, please.”I sank down beside her, taking her in my arms.
She was trembling and even in the half light I could see that her green eyes were wide with fright.
Was she warning me against Bryn or was it a warning against some creature that she had seen in a bad dream? I didn’t have the time to ask her though as I heard footsteps coming towards us.
“This isn’t the time for a morning cuddle.
We need to leave before the sun rises if we are to make it away undetected or has the plan changed without my knowledge?” declared Bryn sharply.The man in question looked refreshed and rested as though he had had the best sleep of his life.
Annoyance and anger worked it’s way up inside me.
This journey was easy for him.
He wasn’t about to leave the safety of his home behind him.
He was a traveller, a wanderer who didn’t know the meaning of the word home.
He had no idea what this journey meant to us or what was at stake.
Why would he care about Lela and her concerns or mine for that matter?I kissed Lela gently on the forehead, whispering in her ear, “I promise I won’t let you out of my sight.” Crawling out and standing up to my full height, I looked down on a shorter Bryn, “We will leave when I say we will.”The Joran and I stared at each other for a long moment, when Bryn finally lowered his blue gaze in defeat.
Regardless of what this meant, I had proved that I was the greater of the two of us.
Babu and I hadn’t agreed to Bryn’s trade terms so that he could pass judgement on matters that didn’t concern him.
I had hired him to get Lela and me safely over the Kalima Mountains.
That was his only task at the moment and carrying it out well should have been the only thought on his mind.“Of course,” Bryn muttered, disappearing into the mist.Releasing the frown that sat between my eyes, I turned to help Lela with the packing but she had already rolled up the little tent and was securing it onto the back of a hide bag.
The bag I would carry.
We had both decided to travel light and had traded or given away almost everything to do with the lives we were about to leave behind.
All I would be taking with me was my tent, sleeping mat, the drinking horn Ayo had given me when we were children and, of course, my hoard of weapons.
I had played with the idea of only taking my walking staff and runga with me, giving the rest to Babu to take home with him for safekeeping, but he had refused.
My wise old grandfather had persuaded me with the words of a Keeper to take all my weapons with me, saying that I would be lost without them in the forthcoming battles.
I immediately paid attention to his warning, knowing that I needed to be ready for whatever was waiting for us on the other side of the mountains.Thinking about it now, I know my heart wouldn’t have allowed me to leave any of my weapons behind anyway.
They had helped me to define who I was and the memory of the people who had given them to me would remind me to remain strong and true to the Fire.The walking staff I had had with me for as long as I can remember was the same one Babu had given me and it would help me maintain a sure footing up the Kalima Mountains.
I would keep the short-bladed runga that Ganya had given me, clean and sharp, using it to defend myself while I fought for what was honourable.
The bow and quiver of arrows which Pilli had placed into my hands on the first day my archer training would remind me not to over think things while I was in battle.
I would wear the leather armoured vest Neoh had insisted I wore that day out in the dunes, not only as a tribute to him but because I knew it had the power to keep me alive.My metal kava pot and the tiny cup that went with it would be coming with me too.
They would be missing the strong black brew that defined my people for a long time but I couldn’t leave them behind.
Lela and I had shared so much over that pot and cup and I wasn’t about to give up what they meant to me.Lela had packed even less than I had and by the look of it, all she was taking with her was her white and red woollen blanket and a small bag.
Whatever possessions the bag held in it’s hidden depths, I knew, that the rag doll Lela’s mother had made for her, would be among them.The memories we keep of loved ones are enough for some people, but once again Lela is unique in this situation.
The only other items she has are the beads and traditional red cloth her mother wore and her colourful rag doll.
It’s with these possessions that Lela creates her memories while keeping her mother’s spirit alive.
Shida was coming with us too.
There was no question or argument about it.
The creature that so many were convinced was part-monkey, part-human had won me over and I no longer saw her as a burden or a pest nor was she something that could just be packed into a bag.
Shida was a trusted companion and one I was very happy to have travelling with us.
I believed she had the ability to keep us level-headed and steady and I was determined to listen to her little noises.
I knew their meaning would become known to me.
Either way we would need her guidance on our side whatever happened.
Lela and I were ready to leave within minutes and it was still ages before the sun would appear on the faraway horizon.
I bent down to pick up a clod of damp Zjarrian soil.
I rubbed the rich soil between my calloused hands as I turned to the Moto Mountain.
I closed my eyes, hoping I was doing the right thing.
Zjarr would only be there to show me the way and I would have to rely on my inner strength if I was going to get through this adventure and the possible dangers to come.
I would finally have to take my own advice and believe in the Fire.
I tipped my head towards the mountain.
It was a ritual I carried out every day but it was one I feared I had now preformed for the last time.I turned to Lela taking her hand, “Ready?”“As I’ll ever be.” We made our way over to where Bryn was crouched in the tender green grass waiting for us.
“Shall we go?” I asked.“If it pleases you,” Bryn bowed amiably, “It would be my pleasure to guide you.”The gravel path leading up the mountain pass was a well-travelled one.
Countless feet made the journey up and down the mountainside everyday.
Bearing that in mind, I thought all it would take would be a deep breath of fresh air and some sturdy walking boots.
It would be as simple as that.
How wrong I was as I soon found out within the first couple of steps that this wasn’t going to be the case.
My vision was not yet clear in the pale dawn light and I was already having a difficult time navigating a simple step forward without falling to my death.
Contributing to this, the path twisted and turned as it wound up the mountain in a steep incline.I imagine we would have had an easier time if the path had been made from dry, compacted earth but this wasn’t the case.
That was a dream about another mountain.
We were faced instead with a path that consisted of churned-up soil.
It was so thick and loamy that it stuck to the bottom of my boots and resulted in my slipping and sliding everywhere.
The worst part was still to come however.
Mixed within the soil lay an assortment of sharp shards of slated rock and fist-sized stones.
These stones began to roll down the path when they were even slightly disrupted, bringing a landslide of soil and slate with them.
I found that with every step I took forward, I ended up taking two steps back.
I still wouldn’t be fit enough for the Kalima Mountains even if I spent my whole life in warrior training and I was convinced that nothing could prepare a person for this climb.My back was wet with sweat within moments, despite the chill in the morning air.
This climb was going to take forever and the sun was climbing up into the sky far faster than we were able to make our way up the path.
“How long is this hike going to take?” Lela asked breathlessly, in front of me.I was just thinking the same thing.
I was exhausted and had lost count of how many times I had had to steady myself with my walking staff.“Well, that depends solely on you and, of course, the weather,” Bryn stated, staring from under his hood, “and then there’s also the bridge to bear in mind and that’s a challenge on it’s own.”I understood that our guide was a seasoned Kalima traveller but he didn’t have to walk the path with such obvious grace and ease.
“So how long then does it usually take you to reach Joro?” I asked, annoyed by his words.
“Sometimes it takes two days,” he shrugged, “Sometimes three.
One day up.
One day down and sometimes a third day to wait out the weather.”“Three days?” Lela said, her voice cracking, “Where will we sleep?”“On the mountain, of course,” Bryn declared, a disturbing smirk spreading slowly over his pale face.Lela became silent after his comment.We had been walking for what felt like a million sunrises and soon I was tired of looking at the same treacherous ground beneath me.
I stopped in my tracks and looked up.
The sun was almost at her highest and her strong golden light illuminated the Kalima Mountains perfectly in all their glory.
They were almost beautiful with their crags, overhangs and irregular rock-face.
I craned my neck back to see if I could see the peak of the mountain.
I hoped it wasn’t too far ahead of us and then my stomach sank.
The peak - our resting place for the night was way, way up, sitting high in the sky.
It was incredibly far away and clearly unachievable.
I sighed heavily.
It was going to be one very long day.
Shortly after that Lela cried out for a rest.
Bryn reluctantly agreed and she slumped straight down where she stood, her cheeks red with exhaustion.
Lela reached for her water skin while steadying her breathing, holding the spout up for Shida to drink.
Once she saw that Shida was satisfied, Lela then raised the heavy skin to her own mouth and drank with abandon.I looked down the path from which we had come and then gazed out over the open plains.
I had never seen Zjarri from this high up and I crouched down allowing the beauty of my homeland to wash over me.
The life I had had there looked so small and insignificant now.
I had watched the sun rise for the final time over my home that morning.
I was sad to see her go, but it was now time to move on to a new sun and a new land.
I had no idea what the prophesy meant and I wasn’t sure I actually believed it.
But one thing was for sure, Lela and I had come too far to go back and we now had no choice but to continue.
We were just like any other travellers on this mountain now, tugging along, taking one step at a time, two, if your name was Bryn.
However it was our destination that made us stand out from the likes of Bryn.
Lela and I had a goal at the end of this climb.
We had a task to carry out - we needed to find the Four, potentially kill the mayi and save everyone else from the Darkness, whatever that was.
I paused in the middle of my thoughts to take a long drink from my drinking horn.
Whatever happened after we were done was in Zjarr’s hands.
I just needed to trust in the Fire.“The two of you better get moving if you want to reach the peak by nightfall,” Bryn said ten strides ahead of us.
“You can’t sleep here and at this pace, it will take you a week to cross the Kalima! I want to be back in Zjarri in a week’s time and, at this rate I’ll have no choice by to leave you behind.”I frowned at his hooded form.
He always wore his hood pulled up, as though he was hiding something.
Maybe it would have been a better idea if Lela and I had set out on this climb by ourselves.
“Annoying little man,” Lela clicked her tongue as she sat beside me.I helped her up, giving her hand a little squeeze of encouragement, “Take your time, we’ll be alright without him if he does decides to leave us behind.”Bryn didn’t leave us as he had threatened which was unfortunate.
“I don’t like to pry but tell me what is your intended business in Joro?” he asked.“We’re looking for someone,” I said casually.“And who might that be? Joro is very populated, you know.
It’s quite common to bump into many of my people and never find who you’re actually looking for.”“We’re looking for someone my mother once knew,” Lela piped up.“I don’t believe I have ever seen a dune-dweller in Joro.
Are all the women just as stunning as you are?” Bryn said and stopped to stare at her.I didn’t like the way this stranger looked at Lela and I could feel her discomfort too.“Lela’s mother was Zjarrian,” I said, drawing his attention briefly away from her.
“Was she? Well that explains why you are such a beautiful creature.
The Wind and the Fire.
The ability to blaze and burnout simultaneously.
Now is that not a wonder to behold?”Shida hissed at him.Bryn had a way of speaking with a honeyed-tongue and I felt it was becoming increasingly difficult to trust him.“What do you plan to do when you locate your mother’s friend?”“Nothing has been planned or decided yet,” Lela said simply.
Bryn nodded, moving on, “After you have located this friend, how long do you intend to stay in Joro? My home doesn’t have many foreign visitors and you will surely be a sight to be seen.”“Not long,” I replied, “Now why don’t you tell us about your home, Bryn?”He was being too nosey for my liking.
It was a rude habit and I refused to reveal anything more.
Babu had told us to keep our wits about us and that’s exactly what I was doing.“All right,” Bryn started, “My home is nothing like Zjarri.”“In what way?” It was my turn to ask questions.“Zjarri is simple where Joro is not,” Bryn said plainly.
“Our lands are covered with lush green hills, where yours are victims of drought and fire.
We live in peace and abundance while you suffer from war and famine.
We live off the land while you live on it.
Our Mother Jora provides for us where Zjarr does not.”This traveller had no idea what he was talking about.
“Why do you leave Joro then?” Lela asked hotly.“We Jorans produce many things the Zjarrians desire.
It’s my task to trade with your kind, taking back whatever I think might amuse my people.”“Why aren’t you taking anything back with you this time then?” I inquired.He certainly travelled light for a trader.
Where was he keeping his items of amusement? He didn’t have a bag or a pouch.
He didn’t even have a water skin or a walking staff, come to think of it.
There was something that didn’t quite gel with this stranger.
“But you are mistaken, my friend.
I am taking something of value back to my people.
Something of great value, in fact,” he answered, turning his stare on me, “Yes, I do believe my people will be very pleased.”Lela and I reached the mountain’s summit just as the sun was disappearing in the west.
“Well, that was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my whole life,” Lela exclaimed, propping herself up against a rock while she caught her breath.
Her cheeks were rosy and her hair was wilder than usual but she looked great.
“I’m proud of you,” I nodded, with a smile.
I was too cold, tired and hungry to comment any further and, at that moment, the only thing I had on my mind was getting out of the raging wind.
It was howling and it was cutting right through me so that even my core was freezing.
I had to get a fire started.Bryn had chosen the spot that would serve as our camp for the night.
It was exposed directly to the wind and I knew I could have chosen a better spot.“If we stay up against this boulder it should protect us against the worst of the wind,” he stated, sitting down against a rock that just happened to be exactly the same size as him.I snorted at his idea of protection.
The wind was blowing so heavily in his ‘protected’ spot that it was ripping his cloak clean-off his body.
His knuckles had even gone blood red from the effort of holding onto it.
I shook my head, holding back a laugh.
This so-called expert Kalima climber was a complete idiot.
“So you’re content to just sit there the whole night?” I inquired.He blinked at me in confusion, “I don’t know what you mean? This is how I always spend my nights on the Kalima.
I have grown quite fond of this spot actually.”“Well, that’s fine by me but I’m not going to sit here and slowly freeze to death,” I frowned leaving him to his decision.
The light was fading rapidly.
I needed to move quickly.I had made a point of collecting as much dry wood and tinder as I could find as I’d made my way up the mountain.
I had also managed to spear a few rabbits.
I was starving and there was no chance in hell that I was going to even try to sleep on an empty stomach.
There was one problem though that meal depended solely on a fire and lighting one in these conditions was going to be a serious challenge.“Lela?” I called out, “I need your help.”She was at my side in a moment.
“Tell me what to do.”“I need you to crouch down very close next to me.
We need to make a human shield against the wind if I’m going to have any chance of lighting a fire.”She nodded and crouched down beside me.I struck my fingernails together, determined to produce a spark on the first go.
My hands were shaking with cold and frustration by the fifteenth or twentieth strike however and I was just about to give up when Lela grabbed my hands, holding them in her own.
Much to my surprise, they were hot! I looked up at her, questions racing though my mind.
She shrugged, “I don’t know how or why it happens but I do know they have saved me from many icy nights in the desert.”“Well, whatever causes the heat I’m grateful for it.” I smiled, the aching in my fingers subsiding.Lela held my hands until they were glowing with warmth.
“Give it a go now,” she suggested.I positioned my hands over the firewood again and took a deep breath.
I struck my nails together and sighed with relief when a spark came from them.
The tinder burst into flames and soon the wood was on fire.
I wasted no time getting the skinned and gutted rabbits skewered and cooking over the roaring flames and it wasn’t long before the smell of roasted meat filled the air.
The fire was doing it’s job.
It was slowly warming us up and was it me or had the wind eased off a bit? I sat down, crossing my legs in front of me, when Lela placed the kava pot down next to the burning wood.
Lighting a fire and setting a pot of kava to boil beside the flames was now second nature to us.
It was what we did after a long day.
I convinced myself that a cup or two of hot water would be better than nothing but this didn’t stop me from voicing my true desire.“I’d kill for a cup of kava right now.”“Me too,” Lela groaned, sitting down next to me, “I can taste it’s nutty, earthy flavours even now and I can feel it running down my throat.
It’s steaming hot yet silky smooth…”“Stop!” I moaned, “You’re making it worse!”Lela laughed, getting up.
I closed my eyes trying to banish the sensual sound of her laugh from my mind, but it refused to leave and soon it was joined by an image of Lela drinking the nutty, earthy liquid she had just been describing.
My eyes opened in a flash and I cleared my throat.
I needed to concentrate on something else and I decided that turning the meat was it.
It wouldn’t be long now and my stomach would be full of roasted rabbit.
I would feel much better after eating.
I sat back still reeling from my fire-starting capabilities, when I caught a whiff of something earthy and nutty on the wind.
My mind had to be playing tricks on me.Surely it wasn’t but I asked anyway, “Kava?”“Would you like a cup?” Lela smiled, holding a steaming cup out to me.
Her eyes were glowing in the darkness and she never looked more beautiful than in that moment.
I took it from her and brought the tiny cup up to my lips.
Slowly, I let the hot, bitter liquid run down my throat.
I felt alive once more and, in that instant, I was determined that Lela felt the same way.
I rose to my knees and reached for the pot.
I filled the cup and handed it to her.
I then watched with pleasure as she drank from it.
“That’s better,” she said, letting out a slow breath.
“but wait, I have one more, no wait, two more surprises for you.”She placed the cup back in my hands, then stood to picked up her bag.
“I had to stop Shida from getting to them the whole way up here,” Lela continued, while rummaging though the bag.
“It was a challenge but now we can enjoy them together.”She finally stopped her searching and pulled out two bundles, each wrapped in white cloth.“How about some flatbread to go with the rabbit and a honeycake or two to finish?” “First the kava, now these? My day has just become even better,” I declared, “Where did you get these?” “A girl never reveals her secrets,” Lela answered, with a shrug.“Thank you,” I said, reaching up to kiss her gently, “You’ve made this night more bearable than you can imagine.”I was just biting into the juicy flesh of a rabbit leg when I noticed a hooded figure coming towards us.
My hand went instantly to the hilt of my runga.
“Would you be so kind as to share your fire?” Bryn asked, a pleading half-smile on his face.I had totally forgotten about him to tell you the truth.
It had always been just Lela, Shida and I for a long time now and I was taken aback by his request.
Bryn was our guide and he had helped us up the mountain today but that’s where our association ended.
It didn’t change the fact that he wasn’t a friend nor was he a Zjarrian.
He was an intruder to our little group and I felt a strong need to protect it.
“Of course you can,” Lela said suddenly.I frowned at her, but she darted a look back at me.
I nodded reluctantly just as Bryn sat down.“Would you like something to eat?” Lela asked.
A look of disgust crossed Bryn’s face as he slowly looked at the roasted meat.
He then turned his attention to the flatbread and then to the honeycakes.
He finally stopped, settling his gaze firmly on Shida, whose cheeks were stuffed with honeycake.
She then started to lick her honeyed fingers and I smiled as Bryn’s eyes grew wide in horror.“I’m fine,” he shuddered, “I prefer not to eat when I make the mountain crossing.”I nodded, lucky for him he had made the right choice in declining Lela’s offer.
Sharing my fire with him was one thing but sharing my food with him was a step too far.“Don’t you get hungry?” Lela asked.
“Of course but the pain forces me to focus only on the crossing.
I remove myself for the equation and in this way I’m capable of anything,” he paused to stare at her, “Abstaining from human desires and needs during this time makes me pure of mind.
It’s only at the height of my hunger and thirst that I feel at one with our Mother Jora.
All is not lost though, I will receive my reward.
A lavish feast will be waiting for me when I return to Joro.
All the pain I have suffered will be erased and I will eat and drink beyond my fill and sleep soundly.”“Do your Keepers teach you this?” I asked, tossing rabbit bones into the fire.
Our Mother Jora is the great provider.”“Well, Zjarr is with me all the time and I don’t have to starve to death to feel her Fire burning inside me.”“Do your Keepers preach that?” Bryn questioned, shaking his head.
“They do,” I answered without hesitation, “That as well as restraint and sustainability.
My people only take what they need from the land.
The rest is left to flourish and prosper.
We live in a balanced society at one with Zjarr and with the land around us.
”“You speak of balance, my dear friend, but I have been a visitor to your land for many years now and all I see is instability.
You say your people practice restraint and sustainability but I don’t understand why that would be a such difficult task when you have nothing worthwhile to restrain yourself from in the first place!”I glared at Bryn over the fire while I imagined my fist punching his face.“Perhaps we should accept each other’s differences and learn from them?” Lela stated firmly.“You’re right,” our guide said, his blue-eyed stare settling fondly on Lela’s face.
“I apologize for my critical words and for any anger or discomfort that I might have caused you.
My fault-finding just now was uncalled for and I’m sorry.”Arrogant and condescending one moment and amiable and sincere the next.
This man had a disease! “I’m sorry too.
My words were harsh and I should have chosen them more carefully,” I said, more for Lela’s benefit than my own.
Bryn tipped his head at me, a forced smile crossing his pale face.
I nodded back warily.“Well, I guess we have an early start in the morning,” Lela said getting to her feet.
“I think I’ll sleep near the warmth of the fire tonight, if it’s appropriate?” Bryn said.“What happened to your boulder?” I mocked, adding more wood to the glowing embers.Bryn ignored my comment, turning to Lela instead, “May your dreams be filled with pleasant things.”Lela hesitated, “Thank you, I think.”That night on the mountain was the worst night I had experienced in a long time.
The wind had picked up again and it was howling.
It blew with such force at one stage that it ripped right through our little tent.
The wooden support poles had no chance and instead of being a tent it became a sleeping bag and to make matters worse, the rock beneath me was hard and uneven and I fidgeted for what seemed like forever until, finally exhausted I feel into a deep sleep.
Soon I began to dream.
The images were clear and I quickly realized that I was walking through a dense forest.
I was surrounded by tall green trees.
It was cool and misty but, despite that the sun streamed down through the leaves and the branches ultimately reaching my bare chest.
The sun’s rays were warm and bracing and I was instantly filled with a sense of peace.
Suddenly, without warning, the warmth faded and was replaced by a sharp, icy breeze which swiftly turned into a strong, gusty wind.
It whirled and howled around me and within moments my ears were aching.
Soon my head was pounding in agony too.
I sank down and doubled over onto the moss-covered ground, my hands trembling as I reached up to cradle my pounding head.
Something warm began to trickle down my arms.
I pulled my hands away not wanting to believe what I saw.
Blood! My ears were bleeding! I fell forward again as my vision blurred and my stomach cramped and I twisted in agony.
I moaned in torment as I vomited up blood.
This was just a dream.
But what was happening to me? Why were the images so vivid and terrifying? Why was the pain so real? I needed to wake up now!Suddenly, I heard the echoes of screaming and shouting coming from behind me.
I spun around but a thick mist had blown in and I couldn’t see a thing until it was too late and they were on top of me.
A mob of masked figures armed with strange-looking weapons were standing over me as they whispered to each other in words I couldn’t understand.
It was then that I noticed the detail on their masks was a white and grey blur, the only thing in the nightmare that was unclear.
Behind each blurred face however, I could just make out a pair of eyes - brown, blue and green in colour.
All their eyes were different and they were all trying to tell me something.
The wind blew directly into my eyes just then and I was forced to blink.
When I looked again, the eyes behind the masks had turned into dark, lifeless voids.The next thing I knew I was on my feet and running, running away from the mob of masked creatures who were gaining ground.
I thought, at one stage, that I was making ground when I tripped over something and fell to my knees.
I screamed in agony as blood started to pour from my ears again.
I needed to get away but I stumbled again and again as I tried to get up.
My efforts were in vain, the mob was on me once again.My eyes opened unexpectedly as I woke up with a sharp intake of breath.
I was sweating and trembling and my head and ears were aching.
I could still hear the whispering from my nightmare.
Rolling over, I groaned in agony as I battled to breathe.
Suddenly, the tent I was sharing with Lela felt close and claustrophobic.
I needed to get out! Crawling my way out of the collapsed tent, I scrambled to my feet, pulling my woollen cloak firmly around my quivering body.
I needed to get near the fire.
I looked around for it but everything was dark and blurry.
Had it gone out?I didn’t understand it, I had added plenty of wood to the burning embers before I went to sleep and I had even watched as the wood caught alight.
The wind was howling but it wasn’t strong enough to put out a fire of that size, surely? I looked around again as I tried to find Bryn but he was nowhere to be seen.
Had he put out the fire? If so why? A sharp pain shot through my head without warning and, suddenly, I didn’t care about our suspicious guide.
The pain was so intense that I was sure I was dying.
There was no way I would be able to light a fire in my current state.Managing to pull my hood up over my head with shaking hands I sank down to the rocks beneath me, rolled up into a ball and lay on my side.
Closing my eyes, I tried to block out the sound of the wailing wind and the whispers from my dream.
Zjarr and her Fire were leaving me.
I had outrun death too many times of late and now he had finally caught up with me.
I was going to die up here on this rock, I was sure of it.
Why was I here? I should have just given up.
I should have just gone back but instead I had failed everyone who was important to me.
I had failed Ayo.
I had failed Lela.
I had failed myself.