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Maladrid tales of domi.., p.2

Maladrid - [Tales Of Dominhydor: Book One], page 2


Maladrid - [Tales Of Dominhydor: Book One]

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  “Now look what you’ve done,” the creature said. “You’ve completely destroyed my home!”

  “I’m sorry. I was just looking for something to eat,” Maladrid explained calmly.

  “That makes absolutely no sense. Why would you try to eat my home?”

  “Well, I didn’t know it was your home.”

  “What did the boy say?” a different wormy creature asked as it inched out of another fruit.

  “Doesn’t matter what he said, but what he tried to do,” yet another replied, popping into the conversation.

  Before Maladrid knew it, the entire orchard was abuzz with annelids, furiously and simultaneously questioning him as to his stupidity.

  “Do you eat Mosecora homes?”

  “No, but—”

  “Hohmara homes?”

  “Well, of course not, no, but—”

  “You certainly wouldn’t eat Shadaran homes, would you?”

  “No, but I—”

  “Exactly. So why would you eat my home?” the first creature asked in frustration.

  Maladrid had become quite flustered by the muddled conversation, and he still hadn’t eaten. But being a stranger in Ladyndal, he didn’t want to upset its denizens, so he set the creature down on a high branch and retrieved its bruised house.

  “I really didn’t mean to cause you any trouble,” Maladrid started. “It’s just that I’ve been traveling for so long. I suppose my hunger got the best of me.”

  “It’s understandable. Just, please, put me back where I belong,” it replied.

  Maladrid matched up the broken stem of the fruit to the broken stem on the branch, and much to his surprise, when they touched, they fused together flawlessly. The vermicular creature inched down the tree swiftly and squeezed through the hole in its house.

  “What a mess! What a mess indeed! Oh, surely that can’t be replaced! Oh! This was a wedding present!” it shouted in outrage.

  “Excuse me, but what is beyond this orchard?” Maladrid asked cautiously.

  The creature popped its head out of the hole and smiled condescendingly.

  “You really aren’t very smart, are you?” it asked, and Maladrid shrugged his shoulders and kicked his feet through the grass in embarrassment.

  “Well, I assume that you’re the owner of the ship making residence on the shores of Dominhydor, so you could always hop back aboard and go back to where you came from,” the creature said stiffly.

  “I hear the Balenta Glen is quite lovely to visit, but it’s probably too tough a journey for someone like you,” another remarked.

  “Beyond the Glen, I do not wholly know,” the first worm said. “The orchard is my home, and I’ve grown tired of your presence in it. You can go to Lochydor for all I care.”

  “That’s far too dangerous for a simple creature like him,” one commented.

  “I could make the journey if I wanted,” Maladrid murmured.

  “No, you couldn’t. You’re just a child.”

  “No, I’m not. Besides, age does not dictate courage or ability.”

  “You’re dreaming and, most likely, a fool. Creatures like us don’t belong outside of our homelands. The world is too big for those as small as us,” the first replied.

  “Do you even know where I come from?”

  “No, and I don’t much care,” it replied. “Oh dear, I have so much cleaning to do.”

  And with that, the creatures disappeared into their houses and left Maladrid alone once again. The purple skin of the orchard’s generated community bounced the fading sunlight into oblivion, and when he turned away and peered into the distance, Maladrid saw a glimmer of hope in the form of the Balenta Glen. The sight of it was enticing enough, but the sound emanating from it was even more so. A song drifted on the air from the Glen, and though it was different from the one the colorful being at the cliffs had used to lure him, it was just as entrancing. He felt it sweep around him and pull at his arms and legs with each pounding beat, and torrents of music raged through his ears and burrowed into his brain. As he marched toward the Glen, it felt to Maladrid as though a rope had been attached to each knee and the music played the puppeteer that bade him follow an invisible path of uncertainty. But as he continued to walk, Maladrid noticed that the soft short grass was increasing in height and growing coarser with each step. Before long, the grass had reached his knees, then his waist; eventually, the grass was as tall as he was, and Maladrid was truly walking blind. There was nothing to see but spiny stalks of grass everywhere, and though unnerved by the development, he was not daunted enough to turn back. Thirst, hunger, and pure curiosity drove him on, but part of him knew that, in time, he would wish he had turned. He stretched his arms out in front of him to push the stalks aside, and when he had a clear path again, he began his cautious hike. Caution did little to prevent injury, however. A bristly stalk slipped in front of Maladrid’s arm and slapped him across the cheek, and in complete shock, he dropped both arms to clutch his throbbing face. Consequently, two armfuls of coarse grass struck the bare parts of his face and backs of his hands. He knew that his face was marked with shallow gashes because of the wind’s mocking course over his face, and his hands were covered in weeping lacerations. He clenched his fingers into fists until he started to tremble and his knuckles turned white; as the dark blood trickled over his pale skin he shook in shock and pain.

  “Like a red river in the snow,” he whispered as he beheld his frightening hands dripping with blood.

  Maladrid shut his eyes, and when color painted the darkness, he saw a snow-enveloped river in his mind; in the middle of the river, there was a strange blockage causing the water flowing over and around it to turn red. With his eyes closed, he tried to peer at the obstruction to see what it was, but when he squinted, his eyes opened slightly and holes of light broke through the trees and the river in his mind. He sighed sadly as he opened his eyes, but despite the throbbing pain throughout his body, the hope of rest and nourishment lying beyond the stalks pressed him on. He pushed through the high barbed grass until, finally, the stalks started to diminish and he could at last see distant scenery between the shoots. It was still a good length away, but he saw the great trees in the distance, beautiful and shining with golden leaves and silver bellflowers. With all remaining strength, he pushed himself through to the end of the spiny field and collapsed onto the soft pasture before him. He clutched at the grass in desperation and ripped out large handfuls as his chest expanded and contracted against the earth.

  “Give up!” the cruel wind screeched as it rushed past his ears.

  Maladrid was exhausted. He was starving and his throat burned from dehydration. He was bruised and battered from head to toe, and to add insult to injury, the wind was mocking him. Face down on the ground, his fists began to tremble and his chin began to quiver. His entire body shook with rage as he lifted his head slowly toward the sky, and he gnashed his teeth as he pushed himself up from the ground with his body tense and shuddering. He stood rigidly and stared into the clouds as he tried to nail down the exact location of the wind, but the clever breeze became still and the ceased to blow as he stood motionless with his eyes circling the pasture. Suddenly, there was a rustle in the grass, and Maladrid dove toward it, falling emphatically on a patch of seemingly empty green.

  “Now I have you!” he cried with the wind trapped under his hands. “Now we’ll see who gives up!”

  When Maladrid began drawing his cupped hands together, he felt the cold sting of the wind’s fierce tongue slicing his palms, but he found it more exhilarating than painful, and with a brutal scream he declared, “I have you! This is the end now!”

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  “What are you doing?”

  The surprising voice caused Maladrid to flinch and when he released his grip on the wind, it disappeared into the field of prickly stalks.

  “Dammit!” he shouted.

  He threw his fists to the ground and beat at the soi
l violently, but he eventually relaxed, and the grass before him bent as he panted heavily. For a minute, he lay there in silence, and his head wilted woozily as he stared at the intricate, dizzying patterns of grass. But farther down the pasture, there stood something far more interesting. He saw her toes first, followed by her legs, waist, chest, and finally, his eyes found her glorious face. He could tell that the female Hohmara standing before him was slightly older than he, but the glow of youth radiated in every movement of her body and each tiny smile that graced her lips. By her stance and expression, he knew that she was powerful, but her eyes were tender and their sparkle comforting. She was draped in a glittering bronze robe that hung shapeless and fluttered in the casual breeze, but beneath it, her slender body was clad in bronze armor. The hem of her skirt reached the ground, but when the wind danced around her, it lifted it and revealed her bare sculpted calves. Long sleeves flared from the dress and covered her bony hands, and the neckline plunged to the middle of her chest where glistening beads of sweat sat like majestic jewels on the fair skin above her breastplate. Maladrid found it hard to rip his eyes away from the vivacious red hair pouring down her body in wild knotted locks and her eyes shining like emerald icicles, sparkling and fierce amidst the ringlet flames. Inch by inch, her sandaled feet tunneled through the grass as she began to approach him with her smoldering eyes penetrating his and full pink lips pouted. She extended her arms to him with her slender hands blanketed by the bronze sleeves, but when he reached out to her, he plunged his hands inside her sleeves to meet her flesh, and she suddenly jerked back at his presumption.

  “What do you think you’re doing?” she asked sharply.

  “I’m sorry; I didn’t want to pull on your robe.”

  Using her sleeve-covered hands she grabbed Maladrid by the shoulders and pulled him to his feet, and with an eyebrow crooked and a smirk cutting up the side of her cheek, she asked, “So you want to feel my hands, do you?”

  She pushed up her sleeves and stretched out her emaciated fingers as she took a giant step forward that left her and Maladrid face to face. He could not anticipate what would happen next any more than he could see her arms fly out to the sides and come crashing into his head with an intense grip. When her nails dug into his skin, he could feel little else but pain. Then, there was nothing but cold darkness. But when he peered off into the void, he saw a single glimmering speck. It shone ivory in the black distance and eased leisurely down from above, and as he ran toward it, the miniscule fragment of pure white winked at him from afar, but no matter how much he ran, he never seemed to get any closer. But more bits of white followed. In abundance, they began sailing down through the darkness until the void was no longer endless black with a spattering of white. The specks had accumulated and become deep ivory drifts with tiny dots of black peppered throughout them. But suddenly, and faster than anything he’d ever seen, a river surged from the distance and cut a jagged blue waterway through the pallor. Maladrid watched it course past him and out of his sight as it dipped and split through the lofty drifts of ivory. The specks continued to ease down and settled on his hair and clothes, but he didn’t feel the coldness or dampness of them until he realized that it indeed was snowing.

  The chill hit him with sudden force, and his feet and hands stung from the biting cold as they began to turn a chalky pink. As Maladrid followed the snowy river downstream, he saw it dammed by an alien blockage, and the water rushing over and around it was a pinkish hue by its influence. Suddenly and with a flash of light, everything was gone and it was dark again. Massive clouds of gray and black began to swirl over Maladrid’s head, and as the sky billowed violently, it roared, “I am everlasting! I see you on the brightest of mornings and the darkest of nights! I am the master of all and you must obey until you can see me no more!”

  Black consumed the gray and gray broke free of the black, but in the midst of the battle of haze raging overhead, there shone a beam of sunlight. It shattered through the clouds, piece by piece, until a keyhole of pure white light radiated in the firmament. He stood silent as he stared at the churning sky and watched the clouds violently smash into and mix with each other, but as much as the mist swirled around the keyhole, it never broke the illuminated shape. The keyhole seemed so bright and inviting that Maladrid felt as if, could he stretch his fingers out a few inches more, he could touch it.

  A series of contrasting colors flashed before Maladrid’s eyes, and when his vision returned to normal, he was staring at the pasture below him. He saw the stalks of prickly grass behind him and the Glen glimmering far away, but most of all, he saw the Hohmara girl gaping at him in petrified astonishment.

  “What happened?” Maladrid asked. “Who are you?”

  The girl looked at him with her eyes blank and wide and her arms still floating rigidly in the air beside his head. With her hands clenched into fists, she lowered her arms slowly to her sides and the shimmering sleeves covered them completely.

  “My name is Yven,” she replied softly. “What’s yours?”

  Maladrid could feel an inexplicable rage bubbling up in his throat and clawing at his tongue as if ready to explode with torrents of furious confusion. He opened his mouth, prepared to demand that the girl answer his every question, but all that came out was, “Maladrid. My name is Maladrid.”

  While he waited for a response, he looked at her. He looked at her like he had never looked at anything before. He took notice of every insignificant particle that made up Yven and suddenly each and every one became significant, and as he examined her in enamored awe, he saw a brief smile creep across her face.

  “You’re hurt,” she said as she knelt down and began to examine his wounded leg.

  “It’s not too bad,” he replied, even though he was starting to get lightheaded from the pain.

  She pushed his sweaty hair out of his eyes and laid her covered hand on his forehead.

  “You have a fever. How long have you had this injury?”

  “I don’t know. It was from the sea, from the ship. A couple of days, I suppose,” he said woozily.

  Save for her piercing eyes, her face became blurry in his sight; they remained well-defined and fixed as the rest of the world melted away, and though he lost his senses and his vision, her emerald eyes never faded. When Maladrid awoke and his eyes cleared, he focused on Yven, who was dabbing a bit of damp cloth across his forehead. He noticed that his leg felt unusually cool, and then realized that she had dressed it with cloth and a strange salve that oozed between the bindings. The stuff glistened green in the daylight, but when Yven noticed him reaching out to touch it, she snapped, “Don’t.”

  “Excuse the harsh reply, but I’ll touch whatever I please.”

  “Fine,” she said as she threw the washcloth aside. “Don’t listen to me. I’m just saving your life.”

  He surrendered to her order, inched closer to her, and met her in the lock of a glance.

  “Why are you helping me? Who are you?”

  “I’ve already told you: my name is Yven, and you should be ashamed of speaking to me in such a manner. I am the queen of Donir and sovereign of the Hohmara.”

  Maladrid bowed his head and apologized.

  “I could see instantly that you were greater than I. But now I see unequivocally that you are a Queen. There is so much honor in your eyes.”

  “I hope that’s not the only place where it exists.”

  “Your Majesty, why are you helping me?”

  She looked as though she wanted to answer but was unable to find the words. She opened her mouth to reply but then abruptly closed it and turned away to dampen the cloth again, but when Maladrid laid his hand upon her shoulder, she turned back to his pale but emotive face.

  “Yven, what’s happening to me?”

  “I don’t know. I don’t know who you are or what you’re doing here, but I do know that I’ve never seen a vision like that before. And now I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forget what I’ve seen. I doubt you will either.”<
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  “But I don’t even understand what I’ve seen. I don’t understand any of this,” he whimpered. “And most of all, I don’t understand why you entrance me so.”

  A slight blush rose to Yven’s cheeks as she lowered her head to hide her smile.

  “Royalty,” she replied. “We have a way of drawing one’s eye.”

  “Well, there’s one answer. What about the others?”

  Yven placed a sleeve-covered hand on his shoulder, and then helped him to his feet.

  “Come with me, Maladrid. We will find the answers together.”

  * * * *

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  Though entranced as well, Maladrid was somewhat unnerved by being in Yven’s company; not only because of her supreme station or warrior status, but because of the strange power in her hands that had brought such foreboding sights to his mind. During the vision, he’d felt as though his body were broken into pieces that scattered in the breeze, and as they started off together toward the Balenta Glen, he still felt slightly disconnected. But each time Yven turned to glance back at him, a bit of his entirety returned; perhaps it was because he knew she had chosen him to join her, or because in her company, he finally had the beginning of a purpose. But he believed most of all that his true aggregation occurred in the realization that each time her eyes settled upon him, he felt that she truly wanted him there.

  Fortunately for Maladrid, Yven was far more equipped for a journey than he. Although her food was scarce, she still had some varied fruits and meat and plenty of water, and she gladly shared all that she had with him. With appetites appeased and thirsts quenched, Maladrid and Yven began their march toward the glistening Glen. Through the walk, Maladrid began to notice all of the things his starvation had overpowered: her weapons, for instance. A bow and modestly stocked quiver were slung across her back and a few varying-sized daggers were sheathed in her belt, but it was obvious which weapon she favored above all others. She carried it proudly yet gently, and when she drew it, the blade sung a dulcet warrior’s song. Its silver blade and bronze hilt shone brighter than any Maladrid had ever seen prior, and the name by which the queen called it seemed bolder than that of any other weapon he’d heard of. She called it “Vetna the Olfir.”

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