A Missing Sheep – Part II

“Fin, how many times have I predicted the weather?” Arthema asked.

“Too many times, if you ask mother.”

Arthema snorted.

“You know how dangerous magic is! Mother always says— “

“It’s no magic!” Arthema cut him off. “It’s just… I don’t know. It’s like…” She pushed her lower lip forward. “A feeling in my stomach?” Fin raised an eyebrow.

“You know, like last time when I ate too much of aunt Aina’s berberry pies.”

Her brother’s expression got strained for a moment. Then he smiled and said, “So you know a storm is coming when you have to puke?”

Arthema hit her brother playfully on his head. “You’re as stupid as a stone golem!” she said, laughing. Her brother joined her. “And another one for the curse-jar!” he said. She stuck out her tongue, winked and pushed him softly. “Away with you!” He stumbled against a sheep before moving towards the end of the herd. “Ira! Up!” he shouted. Ira joined him and together they were starting to rally up the sheep and leading them back to their home. The first few sheep passed her and bleated her goodbye. Arthema watched them, lost in thoughts.

Magic. Forbidden by law and punished by exile or worse. She remembered how furious, angry and scared her mother had been as Arthema had told her, she could feel when a storm was coming. She was never allowed to tell anyone about it or the inquisitors and their hounds would find her and take her away. Her father had just looked at her without saying a word; a sad expression on his face. At that time she was completely confused because she thought she had a gift and that it would make her parents proud.

That was a few summers ago and they had never talked about it since. She had hoped that this gift – her curse as she was now calling it – would fade away. But as the summers passed, it only grew stronger. There were moments when she could see where her brother or her parents were, even if they were in another room. Their silhouettes would shimmer through the walls like the sun through a curtain. She felt, she could do so much more if she just reached out and grabbed that power. And that scared her like nothing else in the world.

“Ema?” her brother said, snapping her out of her thoughts. All the sheep already passed Arthema and were on the road back home. Ira drove them before her and barked at them, as if to say they should move faster. “Huh?” Arthema said, clearing her thoughts. Her brother suddenly hugged her tightly. “Be careful, will you?” he said. His voice muffled as he had his head buried in her jacket.

She smiled, closed her eyes and hugged him back, her chin resting on his head. “Always.” They said goodbye again and Fin rushed after Ira and the sheep.

Arthema took a deep breath and started walking towards the forest. Dark and quiet it stood there; the upcoming wind made the trees sway hypnotically. The wind was always the first sign which proved her forecast right.

The closer she came to the tree line, the stronger she could see the light of their missing sheep. The light was small which meant that the sheep was still a long way to go. It had to be the youngest and fastest one.

Just before Arthema entered the forest, she took one last look back. Fin, Ira and their flock were long gone behind a hill, but she could still see them shimmering through all the grass and all the hills, like stars through a cloudy night.