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The pool was a brilliant shade of blue, a dazzling contrast to the rocky hill of Red Jasper that housed it. Many alive on Samsarras believe that the demon realm of the Sribinet can not house such beauty, but they are wrong. There are sites of natural wonder in that damned place that would leave them in tears. While many of its denizens are monstrous in appearance, there are others who match that grotesqueness with their inhuman beauty. Those among the living that have seen them are hard pressed to say which they fear more.
A log popped and hissed loudly, sending sparks drifting into the stone room. Grahlius drew her child a little closer into her breast, sighing heavily. The little girl reached up, her small fingers twirling around her the wispy hairs protruding from her mother’s chin, just like her wife had used to do. She stroked her child’s hair tenderly, feeling the lack of ease this night always brought with it.
Qua’Jon’s body hit the ground with a thud. He lay there for a moment, unsure of what was happening. He had seen Gwenich walk behind him with the knife, and suddenly his body was no longer supported by the bounds that held him. He rolled to his back, soft black dirt clinging to his tattered garments. Gwenich stood above him, knife in hand. The strange smile had never left her face.
“I know you like the elf, Eernon, but we can’t be riskin’ him being close to his people. He’d find some way to alert the guards and you won’t ever learn no magic. This is crazy. Jus’ let me put a point in ‘im and we don’t have to worry.”
Eernon looked at Vanlaug with anger in her eyes. “The elf lives. I’d sooner kill you at this point.”
“He’s right, Eernon. We don’t have to kill him, but we can’t take him with us.”
The voice was Ingdols. Gwenich could recognize it, though she could not see its source. He sounded far away, as if he were yelling through a wall. Her eyes were full of ghost images of the forest: vague outlines of trees and brush, a grey smudge where the cave had been. It was all fading slowly to black, leaving her field of vision a dark impenetrable curtain.
“Gwenich! Yarlloth fight me, girl. Can you hear me?”
She wished she could count the rain drops. They came through the air in an ever increasing rate, causing a beautiful anxiety to well up in her stomach. Gwenich was anticipating something, though what it was she did not know. There was something in the very air itself that she couldn’t quantify. It was like the charged electricity before a storm but different. It was softer and more deadly. It felt like whatever waited behind it all could tear the world apart. Continue reading “The Coming of the Astar Uln, Part 12”
Venul ran her soft hand over the child’s face, smoothing her hair and caressing her jaw. She was careful to stay away from the now bandaged wound Mishtil had sustained. She gazed at the unconscious goddess lovingly, a small amount of concerned pain milling with the peace in her eyes. Her finger tips trembled despite herself as she thought of what would have happened had Tadis not been hunting and came upon her.
“Sweet Tadis. You are truly a blessing. You are stern, yet soft of heart. Thank you for saving our young goddess.”
Mishtil and Drugar Wormchomper had wandered around the woods for half the day. Dusk was starting to blanket the land as the sun sank behind the western hills. The brilliant shades of autumn afternoon were giving away to soft shadow bathed in crisp air. Still, the other companions we’re not found.
Currently, the pair sat with their backs to a great oak. Mishtil had found some apples in the wood that she now cheerily munched on, her feet swaying back and forth to some imaginary tune. The child goddess had begun to worry, but that dissolved as the sweet juices of the fall fruit sat upon her lips. Her free hand stroked Wormchomper’s head as the badger nestled it against her leg.
Echos of a song ran through Mishtil’s head. The words and melody were far away and it seemed she forgot more of it with every fleeting moment. The child god’s eyes were closed against the light. It had flared unimaginably bright for a moment and created an impossibly loud boom that seemed to split the very sky asunder. Everything was disorienting and she could no longer feel Yurilda. It was as if some sixth sense she has always had but never recognized was suddenly gone. A surge of anxiety welled up in her throat.
It had been a ten day and the winds would not let up. Qua’ Jon had not been permitted to leave the cave in that time. The mage had spent as much of it as he was able trying to teach Eernon anything about magic, but it was hopeless. Her mind was very regimented, the hallmark of a good warrior. Magic could not be taught through practice and study alone, however. There was a certain weaving of reason and belief that was a necessity. It was not enough to know how a spell would happen, one had to know, without a shadow of a doubt, that it would indeed happen.
Somewhere, a distant tide crashed upon the shore. Qua’ Jon was vaguely aware of it, the rhythm of the waves matching the blood pulsing in his head. Each set of waves surged behind his eyes, increasing in pressure, never easing but only doubling their efforts with each contraction of his heart. Even more so, it started to become apparent in his shoulder, as if it wanted to burst out of his skin.
His eyes opened to a blurry world, the fire burning beside him more like a fog of light. The mage’s brow was soaked with sweat, yet a chill ran through his body. Outside of the cave’s mouth, the rain continued to pound down, having increased from when Qua’ Jon was last conscious to witness it.
Qua Jon wandered alone with his familiar through the forest, the increasing winds rattling the tall pines around them. Fat drops of rain had started, slapping against leaf and pine needle alike. He drew his tattered and worn green cloak tightly against himself, drawing his hood down low over his eyes.
Despite the worsening weather, the man had a wide grin on his face, like a child in awe of the unexplained. He even giggled slightly, drawing attention from the badger that crept around at his feet. Wormchomper stared for a moment, her head tilted to the side. Appeased that the noise did not mean anything immediate, she went back to shuffling along the ground, rooting in the soft decomposed pine needles and sniffing the air.
“And if you lose em, don’t bother coming back. Bunch of damned fools that should know better. Who the hell would leave paradise? Everything you need, and you all run off to some demon spawned shit hole”
Drugar looked over his creations, pride showing on his face despite his bluster. The gods had gathered on the edge of the storm and had split off into two groups: those that would go and those that would stay. For those that would leave, Drugar had crafted a gift to help them on their way. He presented them, one by one.
Druhaus stared out her window, watching the fury of the winds whip about loose dirt and stone. Her home, which she shared with her brother, hung on the edge of the eternal storm. Never had the tempest advanced on their dwelling, however. She spent much time looking into its depths, mouthing words no ears would ever hear. It was as if their shack was the divider between chaos and order, existing in a place that was neither.
“I will remind you again, sister, that we have a task. You voted yes at the council, so I would expect you would work to find a way into Samsarras. Unless, of course, you changed your mind.”
The table was carved from the Tadilisus tree itself. The gods that sat around it would fade from memory long before the table turned to dust. It was carved by Drugar himself with axe, knife, and chisel forged by his own hands. Hewn from a single piece of wood, the piece was near unbreakable.
Around it sat the nine gods of the Astar Uln. They had been called to council by Silwyn to discuss leaving the realm of Yurilda for the first time to explore Samsarras. There would be danger and none knew what would happen to Yurilda if all the Astar Uln were not present. The debate lasted a long time.