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Maladrid tales of domi.., p.10

Maladrid - [Tales Of Dominhydor: Book One], page 10


Maladrid - [Tales Of Dominhydor: Book One]

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  Maladrid immediately spat out the sap, and the grass that it touched instantly grew in height and luster. The Yaerla laughed and stamped their hooves in amusement.

  “I’m sorry, Maladrid, but I couldn’t help myself,” Nonwe chuckled.

  “So there’s no blood in this?” he asked.

  “Oh, there is, but don’t worry; it is perfectly harmless. We are here to heal you, not hurt you.”

  Maladrid cupped his hands again and sipped. It was thick with grainy sweetness, and nearly as soon as the sap slid down his throat, his pain was obliterated. His abrasions healed before his eyes and he watched in amazement as the blisters and burns on his palm disappeared.

  “It’s a miracle!” Maladrid exclaimed as he opened and closed his pristine hand.

  “It’s the healing blood of the Yaermaca. The sap has fused your wounds closed with fibers of Yaermini, the strongest wood on earth: unbreakable and resistant to flame. I guarantee that your palm will never be singed or marred again.”

  “What are the Yaermaca; how did they become as they are? Are they alive? Can they move?” Maladrid inquired.

  “They live as the trees live,” Nonwe replied. “Although they continue on, they have gone into the Yaermaca Sleep. As they remain alive, their souls are not in Hana but in Yde: the blessed realm of the Sleeping Yaermaca. There, they are as the Yaerla are. They are young again and free to roam that world until their tree bodies die in this one. In the early Yaermaca Sleep, they are the Waking Yaermaca and they can move and even talk. Now, they are all deep in the Sleep, except for Baliwa. He is close to Yde, but occasionally he talks and bows his head to the Forest’s twilight dawn. All of us here shall be as they are one day. We shall become the Yaermaca, go to Yde, and eventually join the rest of our kin in Hana.”

  “It’s glorious. The Yaermaca are glorious, and the Yaerla are glorious. Everything in this Forest is too beautiful for my eyes; they are scarred by the horrid things I’ve seen,” Maladrid said.

  “Would you like to speak to Baliwa? He tells wonderful stories of our beginnings. His words are wise, slow as they are.”

  “Would he really speak to me?”

  “Maladrid, you may not be as old or divine as we, but we accept anyone who possesses a pure heart and peaceful intentions. Let’s see if the old devil is still awake,” Nonwe said with a smirk and pranced over to a particular Yaermaca.

  “Baliwa?” he whispered, but the Yaermaca didn’t respond. “Baliwa?”

  Still, there was no response.

  “Baliwa!” Nonwe shouted, and his voice echoed through the Forest, but still, the mighty Yaermaca didn’t make a sound.

  Finally, Nonwe turned his back to Baliwa, rose upon his front legs, and kicked the Yaermaca forcefully with his back hooves.

  “What? What was that?” Baliwa exclaimed leisurely as he opened his eyes and looked around slowly.

  Nonwe crossed to his front to face the protruding head.

  “Oh, Nonwe! I might have known,” Baliwa yawned, and his jaw creaked slightly as he talked, as if he hadn’t spoken in years.

  “I’m so tired. Yde is so close that I can feel the soft grass beneath my hoofs. Perhaps it will be my time soon. At least then I won’t be disturbed by hasty young Yaerla who wake me for no reason.”

  “This is Maladrid, Baliwa. He is a fellow enemy of the shadow and a great warrior as well.”

  Maladrid blushed at the compliment.

  “He wishes to know of the beginnings, and you tell it better than any of us here,” Nonwe said.

  “That goes without saying,” Baliwa replied unhurriedly. “As a Second Child, you never saw the beginnings, but I, Maladrid, though youngest of the First Children, came directly from Yvinhe’s hand many centuries ago.”

  Maladrid sat down on the soft grass next to Baliwa, already enraptured by the words of the ancient creature.

  “It all began with Yaliwe, of course, but our lives truly began with Yvinhe,” Baliwa started. “Yvinhe came down into Yaliwe’s earth, and her hair became the rich soil and her eyes became the grass, and when she lifted her hand to the stars, she brought forth a shimmering dust that bathed the Forest in gold and silver. She bent to the earth and laid her Hanalian lips upon it, and when her love coursed through the roots and seeds in the ground, saplings began to grow. Those saplings were the Yaerla, and they grew strong from the earth and were woven into shape by Yaermini. The saplings grew as the trees but more quickly, and soon, they became the Yaerla as you see them now.

  “Yvinhe has a great love for us and has gifted us with knowledge and power, and she has protected us from those with darkened hearts. When the demon Forla came to power, we were called into action after many years of living alone in peace, but we were glad to fight in Yaliwe’s name, and I believe it to be Yaliwe’s blessing that we all survived the battle. Since the beginning of our time, not a one of us has perished, thank Yaliwe.

  “I’ve seen many ages of this earth, both beautiful and terrible, and the Sleep of the Yaermaca came as a blessing to me: a release from the pain of fighting impossible evils. One day I became very weary and lay down beside this tree to take a nap, and when I awoke, many years had passed and I was a Yaermaca. The tree had grown around and into me and my Yaermini blood mingled with it. The powerful union created the healing fluid that fills the blessed ponds below,” he said, and Maladrid examined his palm again in awe of the sap’s power.

  “Soon, I will go to Yde and be with my brothers and sisters,” Baliwa continued. “There I will dwell for centuries until my body dies away as all trees must in time. I will go to Hana then and join the kin who have gone before, and it will be a sacred reunion that will last for eternity.”

  “Amazing,” Maladrid sighed. “This Forest must truly be the most blessed land in Dominhydor.”

  “But there were others born in the Forest who are not so blessed, Maladrid: those called the Coltina. They came from the white Star Stones that fell from Mancyte, and although they look similar to our kind, their bodies were formed of Colti, the most durable stone in Dominhydor. They did not stay in the Forest long though; they chose to live in Colytaer, a land near Nave’s Bend. There, they were befriended by the pure-hearted Achnora who wanted nothing more than peace and beauty, but the Coltina were as hard in their hearts as they were in appearance, and they only sought friendship with the kind Achnora because they thought it would draw them nearer to the evil powers. But the Coltina didn’t just want to join the shadow; they wanted to overthrow the shadow and claim the power for themselves. They asked their Achnoran friends to help, but they were turned away. The kind Achnora then fled to the Balenta Glen, and there, by the grace of Yaliwe, they became the Bynts. We befriended them even before they lost the appearance of the Achnora because we recognized that they were pure of heart and only desired peace and beauty.

  “The Coltina finally joined forces with the shadow and when the Dark Lady swept her hand over their backs, their ivory bodies turned onyx and they became fearsome guards to her fortresses in Lochydor. They protect it with their black poisonous horns, which they use to gore innocents for their own amusement. Perhaps they continue to plot to usurp their master’s power, but I suppose it doesn’t matter. There are so many evils at work on the earth, and no one could possibly stop them all.”

  “That is my impossible quest, Baliwa,” Maladrid whispered sadly. “And though I wish I could listen to your wisdom forever, I must find Yven. She is in great peril, if she’s still alive. She has been taken, probably to Nave’s Bend, and I cannot fight this evil without her.”

  “You will find her; her part in Yaliwe’s great plan is not yet over. My fear runs deeper than my Yaermaca roots that you are right about where she is imprisoned, though,” Baliwa said slowly, and his voice dripped with grief. “But all hope is not lost, Maladrid. Take rest awhile to the voices of the Yaerla, for they are the song of the wood in all its joy and lament.”

  “Be in peace

  Yaliwe! Yaliwe

  Said, ‘
Be in peace.’

  As are the trees

  And the leaves

  Go forth, Spring life

  All the earth be Spring life

  Green and gold and silver

  And color that is within Her

  Wind, be the sound of Her voice

  Rejoice; be in peace

  As are the trees

  And the leaves

  And the breeze

  That carries the sound of Her voice.”

  The Yaerla’s song was the definition of beauty. The male and female Yaerla raised their voices to Hana while Baliwa, the last of the Waking Yaermaca, sang low and deep with his eyes slowly closing. They did not open again. The Yaerla bowed their heads as Baliwa fell asleep to Dominhydor forever and his soul went forth to Yde to join the kin who had gone before.

  “All of the First are now in Yde and no longer bound to this earth. The Second Children are all that remain; I hope we can live up to the glory of our forebears,” Nonwe said.

  Maladrid knelt before Baliwa, who was silent and still.

  “Farewell, Baliwa. I pray that Yde bears more light than Dominhydor nowadays. The shadow is creeping ever closer and we don’t have much time,” Maladrid said, and as he yawned and his eyelids fluttered wearily, he whispered, “Yven,” and fell into a deep sleep.

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  “Bring the girl to me.”

  Yven awoke to find her hands and feet bound. There was a bonfire burning in the dark, and the flames tickled the air with its long red fingers as ash rose and fell like gray snow. An army of Achnora sat around the fire roasting a bundle of Dalitants skewered on long sticks, and Yven watched in terror as the Dalitants’ fur burned from their bodies and frozen faces.

  “Forbor,” Yven whispered. “Maladrid.”

  “It’s a good thing we came upon these Dalitants. The smell of the Hohmara’s blood was driving me mad with hunger,” an Achnor said with drool running down its chin.

  “You shouldn’t even think of sniffing the Hohmara, brother. The girl is for Shacore. You wouldn’t want to enrage the master, would you?”

  “Still, she’d make a nice pudding,” the first Achnor hissed as it ran its black tongue over its chops.

  “The boy is ours. The next time we see him, we will tear the flesh from his bones like pulling hair from a Dalitant,” the second Achnor replied as it plucked a blackened hair out of the head of its supper and roared with laughter.

  Yven pulled at her bonds, but the threads sliced her skin as she struggled to reach her sheath. And upon making contact with it, she discovered that Vetna was not at her disposal.

  “Hey! What are you doing there, little Hohmara?” an Achnor said as it grabbed her wrists and lifted her into the air, but when the beast touched Yven’s hands, a vision fell upon her.

  She saw the Castle Lochra in Nave’s Bend; it was surrounded by Achnora and Anjila building stone walls and fashioning weapons of extreme ferocity. Then a formidable phantom stepped forward with a body clothed in churning darkness, and when it raised its hands, the sky cracked and roared; the clouds burst and consumed each other. Yven’s eyes shot open to see the wrinkled gray face of the Achnor, and as it glared at her, its breath was pungent with the odor of death.

  “What are you doing there, little Hohmara?” the Achnor growled.

  “I see your master. You may think that you are strong and that Shacore is powerful, but the army of the Dark Lady will fall. I will see your kin and every ally of your kin rot on the shambles of Nave’s Bend,” Yven hissed through clenched teeth.

  “See the master? How could she see the master?” an Achnor asked.

  “She said she saw Shacore.”

  “How could she?”

  Yven clenched her hands into fists with her jaw rigid and her eyes burning cruelly.

  “The sycte! The sycte!” the Achnora shouted in horror.

  “Wretched Hohmara witch!”

  An Achnor picked up a nearby rock, bashed it against the back of Yven’s head, and she crumpled to the ground, unconscious.

  “We’ll see what Shacore has to say about the witchy Hohmara,” one of the beasts said. “Scoop her up, brothers. We must get to Lochydor before she lays a spell on us!”

  The Achnora traveled by secret tunnels of which only they and the Shadaran were aware. They ran under forests and cities and into the heart of Nave’s Bend with no fear of discovery. Yven, however, was carried over the earth by an Anjil, and all the while, its terrible claws sliced at her body. She was in a terrible haze throughout the flight, but within only a few days, she reached her destination and the horrors of clarity burned through her. When she finally awoke, she was lying upon a stone table surrounded by armed Achnora.

  “Where am I?” she asked dazedly.

  “Where do you think, fool?” an Achnor hissed. “You’re in the Castle Lochra.”

  She raised her hands in a defensive instinct, and a massive outcry sounded through the crowd.

  “Sycte!” one shouted, and the assemblage of Achnora cowered slightly.

  Yven, noticing their reaction, held her hands up and brandished them as weapons.

  “Set me free!” she shouted. “Or I shall use my sycte to destroy you all!”

  The Achnora shrank back, except for one who stepped forward and asked with a sinister leer, “Oh, little girl. Why would you say something like that?”

  Yven was grabbed from behind by two of the beasts, who promptly pushed her down onto the table. Two more came from the front, took hold of her arms, and held her down until her face was pressed against the stone and her arms stretched out in front of her.

  “Shacore is too busy to deal with you now, but he has ordered us to keep you alive. This poses a problem,” the Achnor said, and the group grunted in agreement. “The sycte frightens my brothers, little witch, so we are left with no choice but to get rid of it.”

  Yven closed her eyes tightly and whimpered.

  “Don’t worry. I’m fairly certain you’ll survive,” it growled and nodded toward an Achnor that was armed with a massive axe.

  Yven screamed as the blade plummeted, and when it sliced through the air and struck against the stone table beneath her wrists with a clang, Yven’s vision faded into a morass of swirling colors. The last thing she saw before unconsciousness took her was the Achnora lapping up the pools of her blood on the table.

  Some time later, she was roused by a commotion outside the abandoned room: the sounds of screeching Anjila and Achnora yelling orders at one another blasted through the chamber window. Her eyes were blurred and tears burned her swollen face, and though pain shot through her entire body, her wrists, dressed in blood-soaked rags, throbbed with the most excruciating ache. When she looked down at her arms, grotesquely handless, and realized that she would not wake up from the nightmare, she screamed and her voice echoed through the small room.

  An Achnor flung open the stone door and stomped angrily toward her.

  “Filthy Hohmara! What’s the problem now?” it hissed as flecks of saliva hit her face.

  As well as her hands, the axe had removed the tethers around her wrists, but her ankles remained bound, and she whimpered as she tried to cling to the table by wrapping her arms around the sides.

  “I don’t have time for this, especially when there’s a damned Tylira attacking the Bend!” the Achnor growled, scampered away, and slammed the door behind it.

  Yven slid off the table and landed face down on the cold floor. The only window in the room was barricaded with three iron bars, and though crawling to it with no hands and her ankles bound was quite a struggle, she gathered her strength and was able to slowly pull herself to the window. She bent her elbows around the bars, and with all of her muscle, she was eventually able to pull herself so close that she could lift her body onto the window ledge. She found she could squeeze herself between the bars, but she knew that the long fall to the earth would surely end her. Gazing out upon Lochydor, she saw the T
ylira just beyond the gates tossing aside a handful of Achnora with its mammoth paw. A flock of Anjila came down from the sky and swiped at it, but the Tylira reared up, caught one of the beasts in its paws, and pulled it down to the earth with a crash. It dipped its large black and white head to the ground and snapped at the attacking Achnora with its massive jaws. After grabbing one of the beasts by its leg, it swung it around, released it in midair, and the Achnor crashed into the curtain wall and fell to the ground as a lifeless lump. The Tylira let out a fearsome cry as it barreled forward and crushed the advancing Achnora under its paws.

  “Yven!” it yelled over the roar of the attack, and she realized that the Tylira come to rescue her was her friend Dordin.

  “Dordin!” she screamed from the window.

  His ears swiveled as his eyes searched the sky, and finally finding her, he smiled, but he knew that as the Bend opened its stone gates, he had much more to contend with before he could reach her. Three large Coltina charged toward him with their nostrils flared and mouths frothing, and they dipped their heads to display their onyx horns, glistening with venom, but he leaped over them and landed on a group of attacking Achnora. He turned to face the Coltina, flattened his ears, and hissed viciously, and as they charged again, Dordin crouched low to the ground. When they neared him, he pounced over their heads and reeled quickly, swiping at them from behind and sending them flying across the ground. One of the Coltina, however, rose promptly from the tumble, dove toward the Tylira, and plunged its horn into his side. Dordin howled and stumbled in sudden pain, but he bashed his head against the Coltina and knocked the dark beast back.

  The gates opened again, and an army of bipedal Achnora charged out with their large swords swinging wildly, but Dordin bounded over them as soon as they were within reach. As he pushed his great body through the closing gate, the Achnora stabbed and chopped at his legs. A trail of blood dripped behind him as he ran through Nave’s Bend, smacking away the oncoming Achnora while his tail swung powerfully and knocked over those that charged from behind.

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