The Bleeding Dagger

A girl, Angel, seeks to find something long lost... perhaps something that has been lost for far too long. After falling from a tree in the middle of the woods, she can't remember what she was doing, or even how she got there. As she stumbles into Canlagos by mere luck, she then realizes that this may be just what she needs to find 'herself'. Though quickly she comes to the conclusion that this town has more than what she first intended for. A mystery to be remembered for ages to come is about to be revealed to her. You, being the reader, will have the sole authority of deciding which of the two paths she will take at the end. (In other words: there will be two different endings that you can choose to follow.) Artwork and Photography by Mitchell Kile.


9. Chapter 9: On Trails of Hope


     The wind whistled above, and the chill was finally starting to penetrate my clothes; though, standing next to Ben and under his coat made me feel warmer. I rested my head on Ben's chest for warmth on my frozen cheeks as we walked back to Canlagos. When it finally got quiet and all we could hear were the fallen branches snapping under our feet, we spotted a white mourning dove in its nest staring at us while we walked below. It tilted its head and seemed to be grasping every small detail trying to make sense why two strange little kids wandered about the forest.

     The clouds above parted just enough for a gleaming ray of sun to shine down on the dove. The frills glistened like a halo around the dove's neck. The dove plunged its head into its nest and came out with an olive branch clenched in its beak. It then looked up to the small fraction of the sun that was showing through the clouds and for a short moment, looked back toward us. We two strange little kids seemed to become of least importance to the bird in an instant. Suddenly, the dove parted its wings and flew up into the white sky where promises had apparently been waiting for the white dove.

     We looked up into the sky trying to track the dove as far as we could, until it just blended in with the rest of the colorless clouds. We started walking again when I felt a slight tap on my shoulder. Frightened, I turned around with nothing behind me. I looked carefully around searching for the culprit; though, when I looked at my feet I saw an olive branch.

     "Hey, that's good luck," Ben said with a smile.

     I hunched over and grabbed it, then held it in front of my eyes and replied, "Oh? And what makes it good luck?"

     "Well, there aren't any olive trees around here; it had to have been from that dove we just saw." I stood thinking how that branch even drifted its way here, but then Ben hastily added, "Come on, we should really pick up our pace; otherwise it'll be morning by the time we get back to Canlagos." He put the coat back around my shoulders again, and we started walking again.

     The path we took was narrow and overgrown with bushes and hanging branches full of snow. The walk was calm with the sound of birds singing off to each other orchestrating a euphonious chorus. As we went on talking about what I was doing in the woods to begin with, we approached a bush covered in a pile of snow.

     "So who else is invited to Henry's inn?" I asked.

     "Well..." He paused and thought for a moment, "I think it's just Raguel, you, and me."

     "Oh well then when do you think..."

     "Watch out!" He shouted loudly while pushing me into the bush.

     I cried out loud, and the snow on the bush completely engulfed and covered me filling my pockets and shoes. When I looked up to see what happened, Ben was just chuckling at the sight. Infuriated, I puffed the hair in front of my eyes out of the way so that I could be sure that my glare of disapproval reached Ben's eyes. With my arms crossed, Ben tried to hide his smile, reached out his hand and said with a chuckle, "Sorry, I just had to."

     "You're such a..." I stopped and held in my anger; I guess it was a little funny after all.

     "Hey come on; I'll help you up," he said with a grin.

     "Oh fine," I reached out my hand just inches away from his and then said suspiciously, "Actually no, I'm quite capable of taking care of myself here, and I would very much rather trust myself instead." I pushed his hand away and rose to my feet seeing clumps of snow fall from my thin coat onto the ground.

     "Okay have it your way then," Ben said while shrugging his shoulders.

     I can't believe that just when I was starting to enjoy time with him, he pulled that stunt on me. It was so cruel... almost as if he had no heart to begin with! When we came to the top of the hill where we could see Canlagos just below us, we started picking up our pace. The chimneys of the houses were puffing with smoke and the sun light was starting to fade away into darkness and farther behind the clouds.

     On our way down from the hill, after minutes of silence I asked, "So, which house do you live in then?"

     "Well..." He went on steadily, "Sometimes I'll be allowed to stay in the church with Raguel, or even with Henry at the inn. The people here are nice enough to share what they have with orphans."

     I stopped to think a moment and then also asked, "Where's your brother, Michael, was his name? Where does he live?"

     Quickly, Ben seemed to withdraw himself and then murmured, "Being an orphan does have its fair share of sicknesses..."

     "Oh," I tried to sympathize, "I'm sorry, Ben." He still was a bit quieter than normal, which I guess I should have been thankful for, as it was quite rare. With the void of noise that was almost like a constant echo, I bent over and within an instant I had a handful of snow down Ben's back.

     He wailed and ran around until the snow fell out of his coat, "What in the world was that for?!"

     "Sorry," I said and continued with a wink, "I just had to."

     He smiled at me with squinted eyes and then replied, "I suppose I deserved that one."

     "Yes, you did," I reassured nodding my head.

     Following the winding, covered path down to Canlagos, I looked up toward Ben who glanced back. "Something on your mind?" Ben asked noticing that I was still looking at him.

     I slanted my smirk to the right and then responded, "Yes, actually." I took a short breath which froze into mist in front of me and then continued, "Do you know who Rosangela is?"

     "Rosangela?" Ben said confused, "Well... no, why?"

     "I just wondered; I guess. Are you sure you don't know anything about her though?" I asked with ignited hope to hear about her.

     Ben just laughed and repeated, "No, I don't know anything about her. You seem to know more than me."

     The need to know who this girl or woman was burned in my head. I knew I had to find out one way or another; though, after all the talking that Ben did I couldn't believe that he didn't even know the name. Why couldn't he know something that was of at least some importance?

     As we walked back into the town's square, we walked past the old well and went down a street toward the inn. From head to toe, I was covered in snow, and Ben still had his despicable smirk showing. I started brushing myself off when he then remarked, "It could have been worse, you know."

     "I don't know how though." I said while giving him a gentle nudge.

     When we came to the inn, we stomped our feet at the door and walked in. The warm indoors embraced us with its welcoming voice and accompanied it with the fresh, delicious smell of the preparing dinner. When we came to the kitchen, Eleanor in a nice black dress was cooking with Henry in a casual suit. "Welcome you two," said the couple simultaneously. Kindly, Eleanor then went on, "You can go and seat yourself with Raguel in the other room over there. Dinner will be out shortly."

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