Tweet of the Day: 2011 Writing Progress Spreadsheet
“Shai kyr saesi!”
“Seere!” replied Simon. Figures in green cloaks dropped from the branches above. The leader approached the archmage.
After a brief exchange he turned to me, “This way.” The group of hunters closed ranks around us in total silence. We walked deeper into the forest. Lysandra stirred in my arms. Every few dozen steps my vision blurred for less than a second. Once it cleared, the forest look different somehow although I had no way of gauging the distance traveled. We reached our destination, a city that sprung from the forest floor. Ivy coated marble pillars with large glowing crystals floating above them. Children played among the buildings while women chatted at the edge of a fountain. In the distance a gleaming castle rose on a rocky promontory above the redwoods.
Activity stopped around us. Deep blue and green eyes stared at us. The lead hunter lead us into a small pavilion. He pointed at a pedestal in the center. I placed Lysandra on the polished mirror surface. A line of elven males filed in, dressed in flowing silk white robes. Simon pulled me back. “Elven clerics,” he said.
The holy men formed a circle around the pedestal. Their voice melded together in song. A tall woman, with soft brown eyes and a silver circlet on her forehead spoke with the head clergyman. Her entourage, two other eleven women and a man, stayed back. She then turned to me, “Are you the one that brought her here?”
“Yes,” I said.
She hugged me tightly, “Thank you, oh thank you!” I winced as her golden hair brushed the burned cheek.
The young elf in her entourage exploded in rage, “NANETH!”
She let go, “I haven’t forgotten my place, Ilidan, and neither should you!” The last word erupted from her lisps like thunder. I took a step back. Everyone else bowed. “Forgive my son, he is it over protective. I’m just happy that my Ly is still alive.”
By their reaction and her demeanor she had to be ruler of the elves, “Forgive me your Highness, is she your daughter?”
“Ly is my youngest. Please tell me what happened.” I told her about the battle in Walcom and how I failed to protect Lysandra. “No, you did not fail, young knight. She knew the risks.”
“Will they be able to heal her?”
“I’m afraid not. They managed to keep the poison at bay, but….” tears slid down the Queen’s alabaster cheeks.
I looked over her shoulder. Lysandra laid on the cold pedestal as if asleep. Memories of that night in the garden, the smell of her radiant hair, the sweet laughter from her lips, the ecstasy of her singing.
If only we had more time….
“There must be a way to bring her back.”
“Dargo-Lhud,” said the Queen.
The prince stepped forward, “Mother, forgive me, but by treaty no elf can intrude upon his realm.”
She nodded, “I know Ilidan.”
“I’m not an elf. I will go,” I said.
“I could not ask you to do such as thing, young knight.”
“My duty compels me, your Highness.”
“Very well,” she gave orders to the leader of the hunters.
Simon followed us outside, “Good luck Sir Jonah, where you go, I can’t follow, not without angering Dargo and putting your quest in peril. Know this, Dargo-Lhud is an ancient creature, even by the reckoning of the elves. Tread lightly and with respect or more than one life will be lost this day. And do not let appearances fool you.”
“Thank you Simon.”
“Followed me,” we left the village and plunged back into the ancient forest. Again, we covered miles in a few footsteps until we reached the edge of the forest. A mountain rose before us. The hunter pointed at the mountain top. I made my way though a narrow ledge. I stumbled in the dark, hugging the rock face. Every muscle of my body ached. My armor pressed down on my shoulders. My footing was uncertain. But I pressed on. The path ended in mouth of a cavern. The faint light of a half moon lit the entrance. I unsheathed my sword. “By the Twelve, I will persevere.” The glow of the runes illuminated a feet or so around me. Deeper I went, into the darkness. The ground sloped beneath my feet and I tumbled down. I rolled several times until I came to sudden stop. Something curved stopped my decent.
It looked like a foot of some kind, with large curved talons and gleaming golden scales. “Dargo-Lhud?”
Golden orbs descended to my level. A voice, which was but a whisper, filled my ears, “And who dares disturb me?” Torches came to life. Before me stood the form of Dargo-Lhud, a dragon of immense size. “I asked you a question, mortal.”
“Lord Dargo, my name is Jonah, Knight-Paladin of King Stephenson, Servant of the Twelve. I come on behalf of the Elven Queen.”
“A human speaks for the elves, curious. And what does her Majesty want with Dargo-Lhud?”
He snatched me up in a crushing grasp, “WHAT? WHAT HAVE YOU DONE MORTAL!”
The air bled from my lungs, “noot I…she needs…help…I must…help her…” I hit the floor with a thud.
I managed to sit on the cavern floor, “She was struck down by a revenant made by the sorcerer Malachi. I tried to heal her, but it was not enough. The Queen suggested that you might have a way to heal her.”
“I see. She must be cleansed of her affliction. But just like the elves can not come here, I can not go to them. Stand up human!” I did so, hugging my side. “You will be the vessel of my power. Are you ready?”
“Yes Lord Dargo,” I said.
The dragon maw opened and a torrent of flamed washed over me. I could do nothing but scream in agony as it seared me to the bone. Yet a second later I was whole again, tired yes, but whole. Dargo pointed at a side passage, “That way will take you back into the forest. Hurry, before it is too late.”
Through the mountain depths I made my way back edge of the forest. Hunters found me and guided me back to the village. By this time the weariness caught up with me. Each step took more and more strength. Grizzle nudged me on toward Lysandra. The holy men parted. “By the Twelve, I cleanse this body of evil.” I pressed a glowing hand against her temple. Slowly, she opened her eyes and smiled. What little strength I had left me and I slid into darkness.