Cythera Chronicles: The Aftermath: A Team Chronicle: Part 2
The Spire is a lofty mountain, peaking very sharply with only a few square feet flat at it's zenith. It overlooks the path to the Pynx, and is the highest point in all of Cythera. Upon its summit, snow covers the ground year round, not because of its incredible elevation, but because of a perpetual low pressure in the air. Strangely, clouds very rarely envelop its peak, leading some to believe magic is holding them at bay. Because of this, one can see clear to the Kosha ruins and the Land's End Volcano from its peak. The Spire is rarely climbed, because for centuries it was believed to be the home of an ancient Arc-Mage, who lived here experimenting with magic and the weather.
Slowly the pair trudged towards the top. By the time they had reached the summit, the sun had set and it was dark.
"Now the question remains, how do I open it?" asked Avatara.
"Ok, let me think," he paused a moment, "do you remember how to summon up Ethereal energies?"
"I think so," said Avatara.
"All right, begin charging your staff with those energies, and move it in a circle in the sky there," he pointed to the sky near the gap between mountains.
"Like so? Say, are you just guessing or did he give you instructions on how to do this?"
"No, no. He gave some instructions."
"Now, picture a door. See the abyss beyond it."
"How far did the instructions go exactly?"
"Would you just-"
"All right, all right."
Avatara closed his eyes. After a moment or two, the staff he held began glowing a bright white/purple. It followed his staff in the circle until it had reached completely around. When it did, Avatara stopped circling, and opened his eyes.
"Now what?" asked Avatara.
"Now, open the door." commanded Zephyr.
With that, the circle of energy grew a bright white and the intervening space turned a brilliant purple.
"I think that's it. That's what it looked like in my dream," said Zephyr, "now what do we do?"
"You don't know?" asked Avatara.
"No, he just said to open it."
"Okay... Dragon!" Avatara shouted into the portal.
"I'm not sure if that's how it works."
"Oh yeah? Then who's that?" Avatara pointed into the portal.
In the far off distance, Zephyr could see a tiny shadow growing quickly. "Let's just hope it's him."
After a few minutes, while Avatara and Zephyr were sitting on rocks, waiting, Dragon fell through the hole and hit the hard rock below the gate. As he passed through the bright white circle, a bolt of lightning blasted the gateway, presumably attracted by the energy involved.
"Dragon! Are you all right?" asked Zephyr.
"Yes, cough. But my energy has been sapped, I have to wait somewhere to regain it," said Dragon.
"That's fine, let's get down to the Hall."
With that, Avatara, Zephyr, and TheDarkDragon began descending the mountain, slowly, towards Land King Hall.
Behind them, the portal remained open.
Avatara sat, brooding, in his unlit study. They had returned in the late hours of the night, and the Dragon was resting in one of the chambers, regaining strength.
"I have to admit, I will be relieved once Alaric returns." He finally spoke, waking Talos from his silent reverie. A moment of silence passed before the Land King stood and walked over to the basin of water, peering down at the depths in it. "It's almost like a hundred years have been stolen from my life in the space of one." Avatara numbly fingered his hair, the ends of which were showing a slight graying.
"And the tremors," he continued, "They never really went away. They come upon me at the oddest hour, betraying my deteriorating strength." As if a bad omen, he clasped his hands together to hide their slight shaking. He turned his gaze to Talos, who had wisely remained silent. "Most of my youth has been drained from me." He sighed wistfully.
"Do you think Alaric will be the same as when he left us?" Talos ventured.
"I don't think anybody will be the same," Avatara replied. "I can't tell, dying is different for every person."
Ignoring the puzzle of his words, Talos continued, "And what of the Dark Dragon?"
"I'm not entirely sure about him."
"Zephyr trusts him."
"I don't entirely trust Zephyr. I think I know his allegiances, but I am not certain."
"And what about the foreigners? We have a man that has traveled from far across the ocean. Not to mention an elf that shows dislike of you," Talos reminded calmly.
"Rest assured, she won't try to harm me. Not yet, until the true Land King has returned, there is too much of a risk for her. But, I would appreciate it if you would keep an eye out, I have a feeling the plainswalker is the key to Alaric, and he won't be ready for at least a week."
Another moment of silence, Avatara seemed to be considering something.
"Shall I leave then, sir?" Talos asked. Avatara glared at him, but Talos apologized with the hint of a grin on his face, then excused himself.
Avatara stood up, pacing for a few minutes, before slipping through his study and into the chamber of the void. He did not light the braziers, but rather walked to the balcony, observing the dark shifting hues of the void. Now, Saracen... something about him just doesn't make sense... The empty night refused to answer his question.
As Talos exited the study of Avatara, the man, who was known as Jaln to those he had long ago decided to trust, quietly stole into the room the two men had just vacated. He had been listening at the door to their conversation, and now wanted more. He was especially curious as to the new arrival, and to the reason Avatara had left so soon. Inside the study, he dragged a chair over to the door in front of the chamber of the void, striking a nonchalant pose, and waited for something interesting to arise.
Shivering and dripping rainwater, Dhieva wrapped her arms around her frail body and forced herself to keep walking. The freezing rain had long penetrated her thin white cloak, soaking her, although the white material was barely distinguishable under the mud which splattered as she stepped.
She glanced upwards and winced as lightning split the sky in two, quickly followed by a crash of thunder. Would the storm ever stop?
Lifting a clawed hand to her head, Dhieva wrung out her sopping hair, but it was futile. The rain immediately drenched her again. Staring down at the road she was treading, she wondered where it would lead her. She really had no clue where she was going- just away.
Maybe at the end of the road there'd be a house. Maybe there would be a family, and they'd take her in for the night... maybe she could have a warm meal; it'd be the first one in three days. Maybe they wouldn't mind her lavender-colored skin, her claws, her cat's ears, and the blue markings on her face. Maybe... maybe...
Flinging herself down on the half-dead grass by the side of the road, Dhieva lay there and just cried. There wasn't any point in going on, was there?
Another bolt of lightning illuminated the world, and in the brief flash of light, Dhieva spotted a pair of eyes watching her. Animals! She couldn't see it any more, but it was still there. Cruel sixth sense...
Creeping back behind a rock, Dhieva watched the spot where it had been. Terror did not wait long before taking hold, and she began to run blindly, tripping over the hem of her cloak. She fled all the way down the road, not caring where it went.
Eventually exhaustion won and Dhieva collapsed again. Looking up, pulling her hair from her face, she peered through the darkness. Was there something there? It looked big- like a building. Dragging herself through the mud, Dhieva tried her best to stand. She fell to her knees again, sobbing. Futile.
Lifting her soaked head to the sky, Dhieva stared at the clouds, blinking away raindrops. She wasn't going to die here. She had to make it to that building.
Walking was hopeless. Ignoring the mud and stones, Dhieva crawled on hands and knees all the way up to the building. As she approached, she could see that it was large, very large indeed.
Suddenly a voice called out, halting her. "Hello! Who goes there at such an hour of the night?"
Dhieva tried to call back, but her voice was hoarse from disuse. She slowly crept up to the gate and spoke weakly. "My... my name is Dhieva. Could you please..." she looked up at the guard, her eyes filled with a forgotten hope. "May I have lodging for the night? Please?"
"Oh-ho!" the guard exclaimed. He hauled her to her feet, supporting her thin body, and called to the other guards, raising his voice against the wind and rain. "S'a bit late to bring her to the Land King, eh? Should we give her lodging?"
Another guard nodded. "She doesn't look like she could do anyone any harm right now. Take her in. Not a night fit for man or beast; hasn't been for quite a time. We'll take her to see his Majesty Avatara in the morning."
After dinner, Saracen was shown to the guest quarters assigned to him. He closed the door as his guide left, and looked quickly about. The room was fairly simply furnished, having a bed, a dresser, a mirror, desk and stool, and a bench along one wall. There was also a rug, covering part of the floor.
Saracen removed his heavy swords, laying them on the bench, then stared speculatively at the rug. He knelt in the center, stretched his hand out to one corner, and began to move his fingers in a peculiar way; once finished, he moved on to the next corner, then the next, until all four had received the same treatment. He stood up, and grunted in satisfaction.
Since the night was still early, he returned to the dining room - the nearest Land King Hall seemed to have to a communal area. Several of the people he'd met that night were already there; aside from those that were obvious, his sharp eyes spied Onyx, sitting alone in the shadows.
"Saracen, come sit by the fire," the man named Talos called. Saracen chose a chair facing the man, welcoming the warmth of the flames - Cythera was far cooler than the lands he was used to.
"Those were strange swords you were wearing," Talos continued. "I don't think I recognize the design."
"They are called 'falchions'; they are a common weapon in my country."
"I prefer a scimitar, myself."
"Some of my people, also, would choose such a weapon; but if you have the strength to wield it, a falchion is best."
Talos was about to dispute Saracen's assertion, when a guard entered, carrying the bedraggled, shivering form of a young girl - or a young something. She appeared very frail; her clothes were soaked through, and caked with mud.
"Excuse me, please," the guard said, "but this poor thing appeared at the gate begging for shelter, and then collapsed. We'd best let her warm by the fire, while quarters are prepared." Talos and Saracen quickly stood and pushed their chairs out of the way, and the soldier laid his bundle down as close to the hearth as he dared.
As the guard left, Saracen knelt down next to the girl, felt the coldness of her cheeks, and checked her heartbeat and breathing. He reached into a concealed pocket, pulling out a small tube of a dark red colored liquid, and allowed two drops to fall on the girl's lips. She moved restlessly and licked her lips, ingesting the fluid.
"What was that?" Talos queried.
"Juice from the fascha berry," Saracen replied. "It is very rare, and much treasured in my homeland - it has some restorative virtue."
Saracen replaced the vial, then reached out and quickly traced a rune over the girl's heart, and another on her forehead, with his finger. They glowed briefly; but as they faded, the girl's eyelids began to flutter. Her eyes suddenly snapped open, and she gasped in fright at the sight of the people bending over her.
"Rest easy, little one," Saracen soothed, placing a hand gently on her cheek. "You are safe here, with us. Sleep, now."
A look of wonder crept into the girl's eyes, but was rapidly overshadowed by a tired calmness. Her features relaxed, seemingly for the first time in a great while; her eyelids drooped closed, and her breathing became deep and regular.
Saracen stood up, smiling softly to himself.
"The pieces join; the threads entwine. It shall come to pass."
Onyx looked up sharply at the strange words, quietly spoken; it had almost sounded like Saracen was quoting something. She studied the dark man appraisingly, giving him slightly more attention than she'd deemed him worthy of earlier.
Although he'd removed his... falchions, he'd called them, he wasn't entirely unarmed; there was a curved dagger in a sheath, tucked in his belt. The grip and scabbard were of brightly polished metal, encrusted with gems; it looked quite valuable.
"I'd like a closer look at that, sometime," she thought to herself. She had no intention of stealing it - but she was used to doing things her own way. It never even occurred to her to ask.
Zephyr was sitting on a chair in the dining room, picking at a piece of meat. He was disappointed, but he didn't know why. The immortal who had saved Cythera had returned, and Alaric would soon sit on the throne again. Still, he was disappointed. He stood up and walked towards the door. Taking a right, he passed a pair of guards carrying a weak girl in rags towards the dining hall. "Hmm..." he thought to himself. He walked out the main gate and climbed the rocks behind him to the top of the great stone door frame. He sat down, perched above the guards, his head in his hand.
It must have been the lightning. Lightning always made him depressed. Interesting how such power and energy made him feel so worthless in the greater scale of things. It flashed again. A bright white bolt of energy struck the ground beyond Cademia. And yet... no. It was nothing. A lightning bolt hit the ground near where the last one had. There it was again! No, it couldn't have been. It had seemed as if the lightning had disappeared for a bit, a gap between the two parts. Maybe it was the darkness, the sun hadn't shown through the dark clouds in weeks. One could hardly tell where it was light and day. This was getting to be a little much for him. "I need some sleep," he muttered to himself and began climbing down the rocks to the hall.
Dhieva kicked her legs restlessly and her eyes flickered open. She was staring at the ceiling. Where was she?
Thinking back, Dhieva remembered finding the castle- then waking up in that room, with the strange dark-skinned man leaning over her- and she couldn't remember anything past that.
They must have taken her to a room, and that's where she was now. She attempted to sit up, and it worked, surprisingly.
Dhieva peered around. It was a small room, plain and sparsely furnished, but it was much better than wet dirt in the middle of an endless storm.
There was a wardrobe, a mirror, a table and chair in the corner, and of course the bed she was sitting on. It was a nice bed... soft, with white sheets and a pale blue quilt. She fingered the material, wondering what good fortune had smiled upon her so that she had wound up in such a nice place. And such nice people, too!
Dhieva wondered if she could stand. She tried and, to her delight, she could. She tried walking around a bit. It didn't hurt any more. What had that man done? She had to go thank him!
She walked over to the door, then paused. What if that man had already gone to bed? She didn't know what time it was. Turning around, Dhieva looked at the window on the other side of the room. It was pitch-black outside, although given the recent weather conditions, that didn't necessarily mean that it was still night.
Well, no matter, she could check anyway. She opened the door, slipped out, and shut it again. Peering down the hallway, she suddenly realized that she didn't know where the dark-skinned man would even be.
Dhieva fought back tears and slumped against the door. Everything seemed hopeless... she shook her head in annoyance, rubbed a hand across her eyes and stood up again. It couldn't hurt to explore, could it?
She crept down the hallway, glancing back over her shoulder every now and then. When she reached the end, she checked the next corridor. Empty.
Scurrying around the corner, Dhieva hurried to the end of that hallway. She paused again at the end, thinking she heard something, but the corridor was still empty. She turned around and rounded the corner, running smack into someone coming from the opposite direction.
Dhieva fell to the ground. She peered up at the person through her hair. It was the same guard who had taken her to the dining hall.
"You again!" said the amazed guard. "What are you doing? I'd expect you to be asleep at this hour, eh?"
Dhieva stared up at him, a frightened expression on her face- rather like a puppy who's been kicked one too many times. "I- I'm sorry... I wanted to go see if that man was still awake, you know, the dark-skinned one..." she trailed off.
"Well, he's probably sleeping, like you should be." The guard gently helped Dhieva to her feet again. "But if you really want, I'll help you find him, ok?"
(To be continued)
(This message has been edited by Slayer (edited 06-11-2002).)
Good job, Dragon. I hope we will finally see how this story line started so long ago wraps up.
Slayer's Guide to Cythera Chronicles
Don't make your dividers too long. If they are too long it messes up the formatting of the pages. This is perfectly adequate:
Only use "it's" if you could replace it with "it is". In all other cases(possesives and such), you should write "its".
Ah, almost time for you to add something new!
BTW, Dragon, if you want to know what Saracen was doing to the rug, just e-mail me. You don't have to include it if you don't want.
On second thought, I think I'll do the next segment myself before turning it over to Ty.
Dividers: sounds good, I didn't even realize I was doing that.
Its/it's: ok, it does get a bit confusing sometimes.
Existance is simple: find the food, press the button, hit the treadmill.
If you're a follower in a group of one, you're in deep trouble my friend.
(url="http://"http://homepage.mac.com/thedarkdragon/")Visit the Dragon's Den(/url)
(This message has been edited by TheDarkDragon (edited 07-03-2002).)