"Helen!" a middle aged woman called at her door. Helen opened it and smiled.
"Good day Leila, what's up?"
Looking past her, she immediately noticed Doris, Leila's 8 year old daughter crying.
"Oh, what's wrong Doris? What can I do for you?"
The little girl just grabbed her mothers skirt and hid behind her.
"She was playing by the river with her friends, when she slipped jumping over a rock, just like I told her not to, and scratched both her knees," she sighed. "She wouldn't let me take her over to the doctor so I brought her to you, I already cleaned up the wounds, I just wanted to make sure they weren't dirty or anything."
"Well then, come inside Doris, you know I don't bite and I have no needles."
Slowly, Doris left her mothers' side and walked inside. Her face was red from crying.
"Obviously she didn't want to go to the doctor," Helen said noticing Doris'face.
"Yes," Leila said, "she hates to get shot, a silly fear, I've told her it's for her own good."
"Well I understand her," Helen said smiling at Doris. "I hate them too. Now lets take a look at your knees shall we Doris?" Shyly, Doris nodded.
Doris sat down on her usual 'I'm hurt' chair and lifted her skirt.
"Well now, let see..." Helen examined the wounds carefully and looked up at Doris. "You are a very lucky little girl, did you know that?" she then addressed Leila, "it's clean. No pebbles nor dirt, nor anything her body can't take care of."
She looked at Doris. "Now let me get something on it so it will sting less."
She stood and walked toward the kitchen.
"Mama, it doesn't hurt any more!" Doris said happily.
"I bet it never did honey, you were just scared because of the fall."
Helen walked in with a small bottle and some bandages. "Ok, let me put on some of this to stop the swelling and a bandage to cover it up."
"Ok...will it sting?" Doris asked.
"Not really...there all better now."
Doris ran and hugged her mother. Finishing with that, she left running to return to the place of her accident.
"The healing powers of the young never cease to amaze me," Leila said. "There she goes back to the river and jumping over rocks again, I do hope she is more careful this time. Seriously Helen, you should start charging for your nurse duties with the children." She chuckled softly.
"Oh please, how could I? Besides, you would owe me a fortune already."
They both laughed.
"And let Doris enjoy the few last years of childhood she has left."
"Yes," Leila said. "That is another reason I wanted to see you about. Where is your mother?"
"Mama is down in the fields with Jessica, we picked less wheat than we should have and Jessie offered to help mother today."
"Oh, and your father?"
"Over by the lake helping build that stupid fortress for who knows what," she was clearly annoyed.
"So you're taking the day off then?"
"No, I already finished doing my part of the work, in fact I just got here, you came just in time."
She looked past the older woman down at what had once been a beautiful land. It still was lovely, despite it all. The forest still stood majestically beyond the river. The mountains farther back. She could still see the great waterfall were the river was born. The fields of wheat where her mother and sister now worked looked golden in the light of the early afternoon. To her right was the village once grand with color and flowers now pale compared to her memories. To her left a dark castle, imposing over all and making all seem small and defenseless.
"Then I shall tell you," Leila said, her tone of voice changed to turn colder. "We have found a way in."
"Yes, silly we didn't notice it before, a back door hidden all these years under a sea of vines. A group of us are going in, we where wondering if your parents would join us."
"No, I'll go, it's better that way, they can always say I was on my own and without their knowledge if anything goes wrong. If they go and are discovered we all pay."
"You know they will not approve."
"They don't have to know, that's the idea."
"As you wish, you can ask Daniel to come along as well."
"Don't you think we are too many, besides we have no idea what we are looking for."
"That's the point, we shall split up upon going in. What we are looking for is in there, if not then why did he order everyone to stay away? There has to be something that can help us in there, your own parents told us a book burned in front of your eyes for no good reason."
She remembered. It seemed like yesterday not fifteen years ago. That was something she wasn't she was going to forget any time soon.
"Yes, he's hiding something there, something important, something we must find at all costs."
"We will meet at my house after dusk. Will you ask Daniel?"
"I guess, he's always looking for something daring to do, this little job shall be of his liking."
"As if working in the castle isn't daring enough," Leila mused.
"You have no idea, we planned on seeing each other this afternoon so I'll tell him then."
"I must be leaving now, still have a few people to visit and a supper to fix." she turned and started for the door.
"Good luck Leila, see you after dusk then."
Helen walked her friend outside nodded her goodbyes and closed the door. Finally after years of waiting something had gone right. She felt the excitement begin to swell inside of her. She only hoped all things turned out right for her families sake.Part 2