Warning: VERY emotional chapter
I didn’t rest for many hours, flapping and flying until I felt my wings ache. I followed Ferbish and Grigor through the darkness. They both had given me horrified looks when we’d met up some time after we’d fled the queen’s lair.
I knew what they saw but I didn’t want to believe it.
Gently, I glided down to the ground of the Cave of Woe, settling on a rock, not wanting to let my friend go.
And then I saw in horror what my friends knew.
Holly drew in a breath and wept, burrowing her face into Francisco. Even Francisco’s eyes were swollen and red.
Tears streaming, I stroked Brenden’s cold face. There was no smiling. No funny jokes. No worried looks. My friend. My best friend was dead.
I gathered him closer to me and I cried, “How? How could this happen? I can’t believe it.”
Ferbish said gently, “Come, Miss. We best be going. The queen’ll be here befores we knows it.”
“Let her come. I’ll burn her alive if she does,” I cried.
Ferbish nodded. “I understand, Miss. We all are sad. These are dark times yet…”
I blinked. A wet drop trickled down my face and I tried to swallow down a lump, not wanting to wail in front of everyone. I needed to get out of there. “Yet what?”
He shrugged then gestured toward Brenden. “This elf here believed in ye, Miss, and well, he gave his life for somefing bigger than himself. And ye being the Wishcaster was his belief. If that be true, well then, ye better start acting like it. The realms needs ye.”
Ferbish pointed at Brenden and said, “He said ye could do anyfing, right? Well, I knows a Wishcaster can wish on anyfing for a price, o’ course. Ye get free wishes, mind. Use one o’ them.”
“Three wishes?” I said. “But I’m not the Wishcaster. I can’t wish my friends back to life.”
Holly eyes brightened a little. “Yes, Athena, he’s right. A Wishcaster gets three wishes to use in times of trouble when they don’t have their wish book handy. The price is that it’s not an easy wish. You’ll have to figure it out.”
“But I’m NOT the Wishcaster! I didn’t go through the third trial! I didn’t find the real Wish Book! And Queen Oria hasn’t sworn me in!”
Ferbish rubbed his wrist, face somber. “It’s all right, Miss. I just thought I’d suggest it. But we gots to go now. The queen…”
Gazing into Brenden’s face, I realized his body was just a shell. It was the most horrifying thing I’d ever seen and I’d never forget it. He was gone. My friend was gone. “I can’t leave him.” Although I knew it was pointless, I hoped that by me thinking about Brenden alive and willing him to wake up that it would happen.
I squeezed my swollen eyes shut and sniffed. “I can’t be the Wishcaster. I can’t,” I choked out.
Shaking Brenden, I said, “You’ve got to wake up! I need your help. Without you, everything is lost.” But when he didn’t move, didn’t breathe, I cried, my chest shaking with misery.
I thought about how he did everything for us. For me.
Even sacrificing himself as a traitor so he could use his elf powers to save us. And all the while, I had the ability to free us, but I just couldn’t do it.
I never could do what he wanted me to.
I wasn’t the Wishcaster.
Bending down, I laid my head on his chest. “I’m sorry,” I whispered.
Ferbish, Grigor, Holly, and Francisco helped bury my friend. We all cried, holding onto one another.
I understood then why it was called The Cave of
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