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Maladrid tales of domi.., p.20

Maladrid - [Tales Of Dominhydor: Book One], page 20

 

Maladrid - [Tales Of Dominhydor: Book One]
 


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  “What have I done?” Maladrid whispered tearfully. “Yven, my love.”

  He could’ve stared down at her forever in sorrowful regret, but when his eyes slipped to the battlefield, need forced him to dash down the tower stairs. He emerged and quickly mounted a Wa-D’tila, spurred it to a gallop, and caught up to his companions who stood defiantly as a swarm of Shadaran flooded from the Castle Lochra. But as the Shadaran broke into lines, one of a different race stood among them, and when Maladrid joined the front line of his army, he stood beside Lislo who was staring, awestruck, at the tall man in the midst of the shadowy cavalry.

  “Do you know him?” Maladrid asked.

  “Sadly, yes, he is one of my kin, but I haven’t seen or thought of him in ages. Paerca was his name, but now I fear he has adopted a new one,” Lislo replied.

  “Shacore.”

  Lislo nodded, but when he faced Maladrid, his eyes widened with sorrow and fear as he asked, “Maladrid, where is Yven?”

  “Where is Yven indeed!” bellowed Paerca from the ring of shadow that roared with laughter. “Where, oh, where has my granddaughter gone?” he sang mockingly.

  “Paerca,” Lislo began,” how could you lend yourself to this evil? Our line has suffered enough tragedy.”

  “Please, call me Shacore. You’re right, Lislo, our kind has had its share of bad times. That is why you should be thanking me for restoring our prominence. What other race could tame the Shadaran?”

  “The Shadaran are mindless fools, and you are an even bigger fool for being proud of that achievement,” Lislo snapped.

  “When I was weak, comments like that would’ve hurt my feelings. Now I am king of Nave’s Bend, commander of the most powerful army in the world, keeper of the Cyrin, ruler of all Dominhydor!” he roared, and the earth shook with the power of his declaration.

  “The Cyrin,” Maladrid whispered as a slight breeze caught Paerca’s robe and revealed the tiny sparkle of a silver key on a chain around his neck. “I just saw a glimpse of Hana.”

  “Enough delay. I am very eager to begin my glorious rule, so let’s get your destruction underway.”

  From beneath his robe, Paerca drew a shadowy sword, and the Shadaran mimicked him with their own fatal blades. All of a sudden, Lislo plunged his sword into the ground and opened his hands to the sky. The ground began to shake, and from beneath Paerca, a large crack began to form. The Lord of Darkness stumbled as the crevasse widened, and with a sustained yell, he fell into the opening and disappeared; the underground cry ceased for a moment but then continued in a crescendo that peaked as Paerca floated out of the fissure and lowered onto the ground.

  “Lislo, did you really think that your feeble powers could destroy me? I am the most powerful being in Dominhydor. Why do you think the Shadaran chose me to be their master?” Paerca guffawed. “It’s just too bad that the rest of my Rani brothers can’t come around to my way of thinking. I’d save the best Hohmara women, and once the enemies of the Dark Lady are vanquished, our race would be renewed and we could repopulate the earth.”

  “That will never happen, Paerca,” Lislo said.

  “Shacore!” he screamed, and when he forcefully crossed his arms over one another, Lislo’s body suddenly split into fourths and fell to the ground in sodden sections.

  The army shrunk back from Lislo’s remains, and as much as Maladrid wanted to race forward and drive Vetna into Paerca’s heart, he was petrified to his spot.

  “Come, my friends,” Paerca shouted to the army of Shadaran. “Don’t be so shy. Charge!”

  Maladrid flinched as he expected the shadowy beasts to surge forward, but instead, they advanced calmly and bent their lined formations into a semicircle that surrounded Paerca.

  “What is this?” he cried in outrage as they continued to close in. “I command you to stop! As your leader, I command you!”

  “Shacore,” the Shadaran hissed.

  “Yes. Shacore. Obey me! Obey Shacore!” he bellowed, but the Shadaran began to cackle and then roar with laughter as they returned their swords to their shadowy bodies.

  “What are you doing? Attack them! Kill them, you worthless fools!”

  “Who are you to give us orders?” one of the Shadaran asked.

  “Fool! I am Shacore, Lord of Darkness!” he screamed and raised his hand to strike the shadow creatures with his magicks, but as the Shadaran hissed in unison, he found that his arm was stuck midstrike and his fingers frozen.

  “What’s happening to me?” Paerca shrieked.

  “We’ve come to know your power and acquire it for ourselves, and now, we exceed it,” the Shadaran growled.

  “How dare you defy me?” he shouted as he raised his other hand and started to strike, but then his arm suddenly bent backwards at his elbow with a sickening crack.

  “You are not Shacore,” the Shadaran snarled as they released their magick grip on him, and he crumpled to the ground in pain. “We just needed you to draw the spotlight while we learned your powers. Now we can become the true king of Nave’s Bend, the true ruler of Dominhydor.”

  One by one, they began to attack Paerca. They clawed and chomped at him and forced their churning bodies into his mouth. As they charge en masse, they streamed down his throat with violent strength and caused him to choke on shadow.

  “Fall back,” Maladrid whispered.

  “Syla mor!” Nonwe bellowed and the army retreated. “Re-ta!”

  Paerca’s body bulged and split as the Shadaran writhed about inside him, and as his flesh ripped apart, the army could see surging shadow between the cracks. His body stretched to its breaking point, and finally, it burst outwards and upwards, and what was within took the shape of a monstrously large Shadara. The shell of Paerca fell to the ground, and though most eyes were upon the mammoth demon looming over them, Maladrid kept his eye glued on the Cyrin that lay among Paerca’s shambles.

  “I am Shacore!” the shadowy monster roared, from within its great churning stomach, it drew a giant blade that cast a long shadow across the petrified faces of Yaliwe’s army.

  Maladrid trembled as he lifted Yven’s sword; intense fear bubbled through his body, and beads of sweat became streams that burned his eyes, but still he stepped forward and screamed, “For Yaliwe! And for Yven! For our Lady and our queen we shall destroy our enemy! For the prospect of good and freedom!”

  His voice grew soft and with tears welling in his eyes, he added, “Love can build you up and cause you to remake the world all for the sake of her name. Yven.”

  His ferocity clutched him again as he remembered her, or more appropriately the bastardization of her by the shadowy devils, and his rage soared. He lifted Yven’s blade again as if he were stabbing the sky, and then hurled himself forward in screaming attack. His companions followed after with their respective weapons aimed to kill, but when Shacore’s blade crashed down, it annihilated a line of the army. While it was buried in the ground, Maladrid sprinted around it and snatched up the Cyrin from Paerca’s severed neck. He hopped onto a Wa-D’tila and dashed away from Shacore just as it was sweeping its blade through the crowd, flinging the soldiers left and right and into the walls with snapping thuds. Maladrid located Nonwe at the back of the crowd. The Yaerla was limping and trailing blood behind him, and eventually, collapsed to the earth.

  “My friend, you’re hurt? Why aren’t you healing?”

  “The blade rushed in and severed me beyond repair. The Yaermini will never heal this wound; it is too deep.”

  “I know that pain,” Maladrid whimpered as the thought of Yven flooded his mind.

  “Maladrid, give us some comfort or some plan. Tell me you have something to overthrow this beast,” Nonwe pleaded.

  Maladrid reached into his pocket and withdrew the key that gleamed with a luminescence that was almost musical, and Nonwe’s eyes brimmed with joyful tears.

  “The Cyrin,” he whispered. “Maladrid Irlywe, you have the Cyrin. But how can it be wielded?”

  Maladrid’s mind drifted
back to the first days of his impossible quest. He had been fighting the wind and lost it, but there was a gain that day as well; it was the day Yven walked into his life. Her touch brought him visions such as he’d never seen before, visions of a snowy river and the sky fraught with churning clouds. They were dark and spoke of death, but there was also hope shining through: a brilliant keyhole in the fatal mire of mist. When he looked to the sky over the battlefield in Nave’s Bend, he saw a similar sight. The clouds were swirling like the flesh of the Shadara, and he looked at Shacore with perfect understanding. The clouds were within the Lord of Lochydor, and Maladrid had to help the light break through. He drew back his arm, and with the strength of Yaliwe Herself, he cast the Cyrin toward Shacore’s swirling belly. The radiance of the key broke into the beast’s body and the Cyrin exploded into beams of light that caused cracks in Shacore’s amorphous structure. As the light burned through its shadowy flesh, the demon’s shriek built into a high-pitched scream above the audible boiling of light and dark. With a tremendous release, Shacore and the sky burst open in unison, and black ash from the Lord of Darkness coasted down and blanketed the ground. But mingled amongst the dark bits were downy flakes of snow. They eased down from the erupted sky and turned what seemed like desolation into rebirth.

  The cool snow sizzled and steamed when it touched the skin of the fevered warriors, and they became covered in pristine white that glistened with the light of Yaliwe. Shacore and all of the Shadaran were gone and the Bend was silent in the snowfall, but victory was overshadowed by the great losses suffered, and the survivors could not celebrate for the casualty around them. The remaining Yaerla crowded around their fallen kin and wept for those that had bypassed Yde, while the Bartosca and Tylira sang dirges for their departed. Maladrid ran to the river where Yven lay. The water that trickled from beneath her broken body turned crimson from her influence, and the new fallen snow was spattered pink from the river rushing around her. He fell to his knees and his mind played her images: the first time he’d laid eyes on her, the deliciously bold way she fought her enemies, and lastly, her still body that was quickly being covered with flakes of white that turned pink on contact.

  The wielding of the Cyrin had destroyed the beast Shacore, but it had also brought glorious Hana down to Dominhydor, and for a short time, the grief of loss was alleviated. The souls of the departed were able to make their proper farewells. In addition, the first generation of Isil, who had long been trapped in the Isilmaerte, were given relief from their imprisoned state and welcomed into Hana. As estranged kin and friend reunited in joy, Maladrid sat alone on the bank of the river. His body burned with the pain of injury and loss, but when he heard the change in the water’s flow, he turned and finally saw the return of hope. She walked out of the river with her hair smoldering brightly around her pristine face, and as her sweet smile forced him to his feet, his eyes welled and she clutched his hand. The softness of her fingertips surprised him: the hands of a Hohmara. Yaliwe had restored her in every way, but his happiness for her could not vanquish his sorrow.

  He cradled her face and whispered, “Yven, I’m so sorry.”

  “Don’t be. I am a queen, and I understand what sacrifices that title requires of me. But you will go on, Maladrid. Don’t forget what you’ve seen and done. Don’t forget me,” she pleaded with tears in her eyes.

  “I could never forget you, my Queen, my love.”

  She buried her face in his neck and said softly, “We will see each other again.”

  She pulled him into a majestic kiss that made Maladrid weep for their destiny to break apart. He refused to relinquish his hold on her, but she began to fade nevertheless, and as she disappeared, she at last spoke the words Maladrid had longed to hear. They were simple and few, but when they rang across the sky, he finally felt at peace.

  In the wake of Hana’s return above, the soldiers of Dominhydor found themselves filled with new emotions. The second departure of loved ones inspired feelings of the first loss and also the healing of the wounds inflicted by it. For several minutes, no one moved or spoke a word, but when the spell of Hana had lifted, the troops were forced to turn back to business. Many lives were lost in the battle and many great warriors were returned to the earth from whence they came. While stretchers were made for the injured and strapped to the Tylira’s backs, reams of canvas were unrolled to swathe the dead. Afterwards, the army marched silently toward the limp body that lay strewn across the river and bowed their heads as Maladrid lifted their queen from the water. The soldiers genuflected as her body passed, and though her dripping hair soaked Maladrid’s shirt, his clothes were not as drenched as his cheeks. Her face was pallid and accented with patches of crimson, and even though he had closed her eyes, they inched open with each step he took. When he reached the end of the line, a length of silk was laid upon the ground. He knew had to put her down, but despite that, he struggled to let her go. Although the Shadara that had invaded Yven’s body had fled and her softness and color had returned, it had ravaged her insides, and even before Maladrid laid her upon the silk, her skin had begun to deteriorate. He nodded as Folcir reached into his satchel and withdrew a beam of bronze light; in his hand was the honor of Donir: her birthright, her crown. He placed the thin wire upon her brow and she shone with life, but in truth, she was only glowing death devastated by the advancing shadow in her flesh. As Maladrid’s tears fell upon her, the droplets shone as jewels on her crown, and though his hands trembled as they released her, he eventually set her body down.

  “We’ll take her back to Donir,” Folcir said.

  “Yes, but not like this,” he said. “The evil inside will devour her long before you reach the kingdom.”

  He paused as grief seized his voice, but he swallowed the lump in his throat and continued, “I won’t watch her fall to ash; I won’t watch the shadow destroy her again.”

  “What are you suggesting, Maladrid?”

  He looked across the crowd of loyal soldiers with his eyes brimming, and he answered strongly, “Start the fires. Give her body to the fire that raged within her spirit.”

  “You can’t be serious,” Folcir sputtered.

  “You love her,” Maladrid said. “She is your queen and undoubtedly you love her. Obviously, you don’t want her body desecrated, but it’s happening regardless.”

  “She may have been my queen, but she was also my friend,” Folcir added.

  “Mine as well,” Maladrid replied. “But she does not merely have my love; she is my love. She means more to me than you could ever understand, and so this hurts me far more, but I know this is what she would’ve wanted. Fetch the torches and bring the oil. If she will be ash, the fire will make her so and not the demons that violated her.”

  Folcir couldn’t help but surrender. The flames sparked beside him and the Rani that surrounded her silken cocoon splashed oil upon her swiftly rotting body and chanted for the continuing vibrancy of her soul in Hana.

  Maladrid bent down and laid his hand upon her cheek, and as the fires behind him were ignited, he whispered, “I will never forget you. Even when I pass from this world, you will linger in me. I believed you when you said it, my love: we will meet again.”

  A torch was passed into his hand, and with his body trembling, he rested it against her body, and when her clothes caught fire, the other torches were laid upon her. There, in the center of Lochydor, the queen of the Hohmara was engulfed in purifying flame, and a great dirge sounded from the throats of the Children of Yaliwe. The song carried lament, but it also carried hope as well as love that exceeded mortality and penetrated all realms.

  [Back to Table of Contents]

  CHAPTER TWELVE

  He awoke with a gasp and reality slammed back to his mind violently. The familiar view of his room confused him as he tried to come to terms with the surrender of his dream. When his senses were fully restored and he looked around, he saw his mother folding clothes beside his bed. She looked celestially radiant in the streaming sun and some
how different; somehow smaller. It had seemed an eternity since he’d recognized someone so quickly, and he joyously wrapped his arms around her neck.

  “Maladrid, you’re finally up,” she said. “You’ve been sleeping the day away.”

  “What are you doing?”

  “What does it look like?” she chuckled.

  “Where is she? Is she okay?” he asked in panic.

  “Who?”

  “Yven.”

  “Oh, so you’re on a first name basis with the princess now?” she replied with an eyebrow raised. “Sometimes you’re so much like your brother, it’s eerie.”

  “Has there been any news from him?”

  “I’m afraid it’s like every other day, my son. Your brother has sent no word,” she replied, but seeing the sweat beaded on Maladrid’s brow, she asked, “Are you all right? You look flushed.”

  “I’m just tired, I guess.”

  “Tired? You’ve been sleeping for hours.”

  “Yes, but my dreams were very strenuous.”

  He sighed and bowed his head sadly. He thought of his dream and his reality and how he wished that they were interchanged. Living in Donent brought him no satisfaction; he wasn’t who he wanted to be. Perhaps he wasn’t who he was meant to be. He longed to be the man he was in that dream, and from the moment he awoke, he knew that his life was destined for change.

 
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