Tweet of the Day: Fire-Chap 1
“Rise Sir Jonah,“ said the King.
I did. The commendation hung heavy on my neck. Applause thundered across the hall. Other members of the order shook my hand and patted me in the back.
Lysandra came over, “Umm, that’s pretty big and…shiny.”
I took the medal off, “Here you can have it.”
A man in deep blue robes made his way among the crowd toward us, one of the King’s archmages. Simon’s steel gray eyes matched the streaks on his full beard. “Congratulations, Sir Jonah. May I have a word with you?”
“Sure, Lyandra this-” the mage cut me off with a raised hand.
“This concerns her as well,” he said.
We followed him to the garden. “I apologize for taking you away from the festivities, but the King will be dispatching his forces to Al-Calais to deal with a situation there.”
Rumors of pirate activity along the western shore infected the capital. “I take it we won’t be going there,” I said.
“No, I’ve examined the revenants that attacked his majesty and discovered that they came from Walcom, to the northeast. We lost all contact with the village. On behalf of the King, I order you to investigate the village and seek out the source of these abominations,” he said.
“Will do it,” said Lysandra before I could answer. I nodded in agreement.
“Very well,” Simon pulled a dark blue crystal from his within his robes, “take this.”
“Oh, a gate crystal!” said Lysandra. “I’ll take it, I know how to use it,” she put it in one of her many belt pouches.
“Anything else, Master Mage?”
“Only that time is off the essence,” he bowed, “may the Twelve protect you, Sir Jonah.”
I fetched Valiant from the stables. Lysandra secured a young wild mount that buckled under her. She did not seem to mind. By the time we galloped though the cities main gate, the creature had settled down and kept pace with Valiant and Grizzle. We rode hard through the countryside. Stretches of farmland extended from horizon to horizon on both sides of the road. Farmers went about the back braking labor of planting wheat and corn. Somewhere along the way I pulled beside Lysandra, “What is going on?”
“I don’t know what you mean?”
“You were quick to agree to come with me on this mission.”
“It’s my mission too, or did you forget why I was in the marsh?”
“You never told me, my Lady?”
“Oh for heaven’s sake, never mind,” she blushed. “I should I told you sooner. Got caught up in all the excitement, I guess.” She took a deep breath, “I’m hunting seven criminals, each one a traitor to my Queen and our Ways. I managed to capture or kill five of them, the last one being that apparition in the marsh.”
“That was an elf?” I asked. It seemed impossible that any elf could be related to such demonic forces.
“The broken soul of one, at least. A twisted thing that sought immortality as a shade,” she shook her head. Strands of red hair danced around it. “A fate worse than death.”
“That doesn’t explain why you are here now?”
“Besides accompanying a handsome human knight? I recognized the revenants that attacked the procession. Malachi, one of the criminals I seek specializes in ‘manipulating’,” the tip of her nose wiggled as if she had smelled something unpleasant, “corpses and transforming them into weapons.”
“Yes, and a deadly one at that. Hopefully we can catch up to him before he grows stronger.”
“How much stronger can he get?”
“Depends on how much time and bodies he has at his disposal. The last time I fought him he raised an army to depose my Queen. he nearly succeeded. That was seven months ago.”
We reached Walcom at dusk. The village square was deserted. Grizzle growled at the air. I took our mounts to the nearby stable. As I came out, the sunshine rushed away from the town as water ebbs in low tide. Cold air cut through my vestments.
“There no one here,” said Lysandra.
“I’m not so sure.” At that moment the bell’s on the clock tower rang with a deafening ding. Lysandra golden eyes glowed with inner fire as did Grizzle’s coat. A thin man, with long filthy matted hair, which descended like curtains over his face. Green flames danced from his forearms to his fingertips.
“Malachi,” said Lysandra.
“So, you come at last, and you brought Him with you,” he said.
“Surrender, and I promise you the swift justice of King Stephenson,” I said.
“Justice? There is not justice in this world, Avatar. This farce will soon end, one way or the other. KILL THEM!” A torrent of green flames shot out of his hands toward me. I managed to raise my shield just in time.
“By all that is holy, Keepers of all that is Good, protect this faithful servant from all that is evil on this world.” Runes appeared on the rim of my shield. They kept the flame at bay, but I felt the metal of my maille shirt burn through my undercoat and into my skin. Revenants jumped from roofs and came out of from alleyways. Lysandra and Grizzle worked as a team, keeping the undead at arms length. Then Lysandra fumbled with her pouches. She retrieved the crystal. At that moment, a revenant reached her, Long metal claws raked her back. She fell.
The left cheek blistered under the intense heat. The crystal rolled a scant inches from my left food. I moved, slowly until it was between my feet, crouched with the shield angled for maximum protection and took the crystal. Grizzle circled behind me, howling at the approaching mass of undead. Some were the size of children. I gripped the crystal with my right hand, it glowed briefly then died.
Malachi high pitch laugh merged with the ding of the bells, “This ends NOW!”
Another blue crystal came though the elf’s chest. Lighting bolts arched toward the revenants. A score fell to the magical onslaught. Armored knights appeared in bright flashes of light. Spears and swords hacked at the enemy. A fireball arched over my head and blew apart a group of undead. Reinforcements had arrived.
I dropped my shield and ran to where Lysandra lay. Her breathing came in short, ragged breaths. My left hand twitched in pay, but placed it on her wounds. Poison boiled away as the power of the Twelve course through me. But she did not wake. The Archmage Simon knelled beside me, “Her wounds are of a magical nature. Whatever created these abominations has poisoned her. Only her people can bring her back.”
I picked her up, “Then I’ll take her to them.”
“I have a better way,” he said. He put a hand on my shoulder and struck the ground with the butt of his staff. The village disappeared, to be replaced by tall pines.
“Shai kyr saesi!”