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Maladrid tales of domi.., p.7

Maladrid - [Tales Of Dominhydor: Book One], page 7

 

Maladrid - [Tales Of Dominhydor: Book One]
 


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  A tiny stone fell from the tunnel ceiling and hit Maladrid’s head, and when he looked up, dust cascaded into his eyes.

  “Are you all right?”

  “I’m fine,” he replied and looked to the ceiling again; just in time, in fact.

  A colossal boulder had been dislodged from the ceiling above Yven’s head, but Maladrid quickly threw his body against hers and knocked her out of the way just as the massive rock crashed down and broke through the floor of the tunnel. The force of its impact split the foundation beneath Maladrid’s feet and, when it started to crumble, he struggled to pull himself away from it. Yven reached out to him and he reached back, inches away from salvation, but when the tunnel floor tumbled down into the abyss, it dragged Maladrid with it. When his scream eventually died out, Forbor and Yven hung their heads over the hole, desperately searching for some sign of his survival, but they saw nothing but perpetual darkness.

  “He’s gone,” the Dalitant whimpered with tears rolling down his cheeks.

  “No,” Yven said as she frantically peered into the chasm below. “He can’t be.”

  She cried out his name, but her own echo was the only reply. The infinite darkness had devoured him, and Yven, with sorrow streaming, whispered a prayer for his soul. She eventually forced herself to stand, turned away from the hole, and shakily began to walk out of the tunnel.

  “Where are you going?”

  “To try the last passage. This one is obviously too unstable,” she replied mechanically.

  “Yven, you can’t be serious. Maladrid is gone. What if this next tunnel takes you as well? I’ll be all alone.”

  “Are you suggesting that we abandon the mission and our companion? Maladrid may have fallen, but we can’t be sure of his condition. What if he’s just lying somewhere, seriously injured? He could be waiting for us. He could be waiting for me. I won’t abandon him.”

  “Yven, you’re mad if you think he survived that fall.”

  “So it seems you have a choice to make, Forbor: follow me into the madness or take flight toward death. But consider this: in my care, I promise you will remain safe; I doubt the wilderness and the demons that haunt it will make you such a vow. If you do choose to flee, I want you to remember for the rest of your short life that had you fallen, Maladrid would not have abandoned you.”

  “You’re right. You may be mad, but you’re still right,” Forbor sighed.

  They exited the passage and directly entered the last of the three. Being fairly straight, it was similar to the previous tunnel, and as Yven walked, she ran her fingertips over the course wall and the sycte brought flashing images to her mind. She saw the walls erode; she saw the moss grow and then die away, but when the vision of Shadaran flooding into the mountain came to her mind, she was forced to a halt. She watched them in furious curiosity as they knocked down sections of wall and dug up the mountain earth until a great mysterious light was exposed. She couldn’t tell what caused the illumination, but she knew that it was powerful and that the Shadaran coveted it relentlessly. Her bare hand slipped into a crevasse and the shadow creatures in her mind were replaced by the image of small red crystal shards that shifted and rolled of their own volition. The sycte’s trance was still upon her as she withdrew her hand from the chasm, and the tiny shards were withdrawn with it, crawling over her fingers and clinging to her skin. They whispered and sang to her in a language she couldn’t decipher, and when she shook the sycte’s vision away and blinked her eyes, her hand was bare and the soft, foreign voices were gone.

  “Yven?”

  Forbor gazed up at her with wide, curious eyes and his head cocked in fearful wonder. She let her sleeves fall past her fingers, but although the visions were gone from her sight, they remained alive in her mind, terrifying her. But she pushed the fear deep down into her belly and continued walking in silence. As he’d just gotten used to speaking again, the thick quiet between Forbor and Yven was torturous; although he was not alone, he felt as though he was.

  “Pardon the disturbance, milady,” he finally piped up. “If you’re not up for chatting, don’t feel forced, but if you are, may I ask: where is your army?”

  “Donir,” she replied.

  “Why?”

  “Because that is where they live.”

  “Yes, but why did you venture forth without them? Surely they would’ve been useful on this quest.”

  “No, Forbor. My soldiers fight for honor and freedom. I have waged this war to avenge those who were taken from me by Shacore and his dark minions,” she replied.

  “They are the enemies of all of Yaliwe’s children, Yven. So, by killing them you are doing the world a great service. What you’re doing is honorable, and it will result in our freedom.”

  “Thank you, my friend. When I deem myself worthy enough to wear my crown again, I promise that things between our people will change for the better. The truce shall be restored, and you shall once again have the protection of the Hohmara.”

  “Who is protecting the Hohmara while their queen is off braving the wilderness?”

  “The army of Donir, of course,” she replied with a smirk. “Careful. There appears to be a sharp turn ahead.”

  However, it was not a quick bend in the tunnel that awaited them, nor any other path; there was only a dead end. Yven pushed against it and found it immovable, and in fuming frustration, she collapsed onto the tunnel floor. She buried her face in her hands and screamed, and after her echo faded and she lifted her head again, she gasped at the powerful glow that suddenly filled the cave with verdant light. She stood slowly and peered into one of the many small holes in the craggy walls. It appeared empty, but as she drew closer, a lidless emerald eye burned within it. The pupil contracted as it followed her every move, and when the eye faded from the wall, Yven whispered, “Maladrid was right. We’re not alone.”

  “Take one more step, and I’ll shatter my foundation,” a rumbling, conglomerated voice boomed through the mountain. “The ground that supports you will crumble and you will fall to your death.”

  “Very well,” Yven replied calmly. “I shall stay right here then until Yaliwe takes me; I have time, and, I’m assuming, so do you.”

  “Do not mock me!” the mountain bellowed, and its many green eyes illuminated the tunnel.

  “Who are you?” Yven asked.

  “I am the one. I am the many. I am the first fashioned and first forsaken. I am those who see; those who are the living dead. We are home, and yet, we will never be home.”

  “I’m not fond of riddles,” Yven replied. “Stone is simple, and it should speak so.”

  “And I am not fond of trespassers, little girl. This is my land. Do I enter your lands and insult you?”

  “I suppose not, but I’ve never seen a mountain enter my lands nor cross into any other.”

  “I didn’t mean it literally and you know it!” the mountain roared. “You’d do well to remember that I am your current shelter, and shelter is capable of collapse.”

  “You would destroy yourself just to destroy us?”

  “Shacore stole my light, and I will have all allies of that demon obliterated.”

  “We are not servants of Shacore. The Dalitant and I are loyal subjects of the Lady Yaliwe.”

  “Why should I believe you?” the mountain asked.

  “If you cannot hear the obvious truth in my voice, you are a stone fool.”

  The Isilmaerte roared and its body shook with violent tremors.

  “Trespassers!” it boomed. “Garyli Wynher will see the sins upon your soul!”

  The floor rumbled and shifted until the rock beneath Yven and Forbor cracked opened and swallowed the alleged intruders whole. Down they fell into the crushing darkness with chunks of rocky earth following their descent, and though Forbor clung to Yven’s shoulders and unfurled his wings to slow the fall, the raining stone hit him on the head and knocked him out cold. As if they were rocks themselves, Yven and Forbor hurtled heavily down into the abyss. The swirling in
finity of the plummet overtook them, and there seemed no sign of it ever letting go.

  [Back to Table of Contents]

  CHAPTER SIX

  Even though he was falling at an incredible rate and his terror remained at its peak, Maladrid had stopped screaming long ago. His stomach felt as though it were in his throat, but he had actually gotten used to the abnormal feeling that accompanied the fall, which would either end at his death or never end at all. Neither falling forever nor falling to death turned out to be Maladrid’s fate, however. What lay at the conclusion of his descent was not a rocky mountain floor as he had expected but a vast, choppy lake of amethyst water. Still, he understood that with the speed at which he would hit the water, the lake might as well have been comprised of rock. Luckily, strung twenty feet or so above the water was a net to cushion his fall. When he hurtled down into it, the net bounced back, but much to Maladrid’s surprise, he did not. Its threading was sticky and clung to his skin and hair, and as he thrashed and struggled to break free, he only became more entangled in the gummy web. But as terrified as he was by the entrapment, his fear was drastically heightened by the legion of black spiders rapidly approaching from all sides. Their small fat bodies hung low while their long spiny legs crooked upward and plummeted down to small hooked feet. The thousands of shiny-backed creatures streamed over him until they completely covered his frozen body, and their thorny feet punctured his arms and tore at his lips. When Maladrid had been saved by the net, he had felt momentary relief, but as the spiders started to flood into his mouth, he only felt his impending death. A low hum that started to rise from somewhere beneath him seemed to startle the spiders; they halted in their tiny tracks, and when the pitch climbed, they began retreating frantically back to their shadowy corners. Maladrid continued to struggle, and before long, the threads of the web stretched and snapped and Maladrid fell into the violet water below. His muscles burned with each broad stroke, and whipping water rushed down his throat as he pushed through the violent waves and toward the rocky shore. When his hands finally found the slippery stones of land, he pulled himself up and collapsed on the bank, panting in exhaustion.

  “I’ll let you rest,” a soothing voice said, “but not for too long. There is business to attend to.”

  When Maladrid lifted his head, he beheld a man no more than five feet in height with long white hair that was pulled back from his immaculate face. His long robe was as dark as the night sky, and he wore a crown of twinkling blue stars that set a ring of light around his head. As he bent down and ran his hand tenderly across Maladrid’s slick brow, the man’s sparkling eyes somehow vanquished the exhaustion burning within him.

  “The part you play is crucial. Pain and weariness are the least of your troubles.”

  “Who are you?” Maladrid asked.

  “I am the Protector of Children and the Daian of Watching. My true name is Lia, but the Children of Dominhydor know me as Garyli Wynher,” he replied with a grand bow.

  “What are you doing here?”

  “The Isilmaerte is my home away from Mancyte. But it is Dominhydor that matters now, Maladrid. Dark days have come to Yaliwe’s earth.”

  “My Lord, my mind is fatigued by such talk. Please, speak to me of a place without darkness. Tell me about a time when there was only light.”

  “Very well; I will indulge your wish, but afterward, we must turn to talk of darkness,” Garyli replied. “Before Dominhydor, there was Mancyte, and before the Children came to the earth, there were only Yaliwe and we, the Daian. We spent an eternity together, the Daian and our creator, and it was the truest bliss one could ever know. There was no want, no fear, and there was no contrast to our perfect lives. My brothers and sisters lived in a way you could not imagine and I could never explain. My happiest days on this earth cannot compare to the time when the Daian swam side by side through the Sea of Stars with our Lady at the lead. When She told us of Her longing to create a new world, and how She desired us to take part in its creation, we bowed our heads and gladly offered our hands to do Her work. When the world was finished and life teemed within it, Yaliwe granted us the privilege of visiting and even living in Dominhydor. When I came down to the earth, I took the shape of the Isil, for they were the first Children I saw, but they knew immediately that I was not one of them. They called me ‘Garyli,’ the Watcher of Children, and many years later, the Hohmara named me ‘Wynher,’ the ancient guide. I became the Protector of all of Dominhydor’s Children and the Protector of the Cyrin, although I am lacking in the latter as of late.”

  “What do you mean?” Maladrid asked.

  “All in good time, Child. Your friends should be dropping in at any moment,” Garyli replied and turned his eyes upward.

  “But the web is destroyed. With nothing to catch them, they’ll be dashed to bits!”

  “Maladrid,” the Daian said with a smile, “it’s all under control.”

  Within seconds, Maladrid heard faint screams that grew as Yven and Forbor fell like stones toward the broken net and the wild amethyst water below. Garyli raised and opened his hand, and from the blue wreath of stars, a healthy cobalt glow covered his body. Maladrid cringed as Yven and Forbor hurtled downwards; not wanting to see their destruction, he covered his eyes, but there was no splash, and no sound of breaking bones. When he looked again, his friends were suspended in the air a few feet above the choppy lake. Maladrid sighed in relief as Garyli pulled them toward the shore and lowered them safely upon the bank. Yven’s face was one of joyful bewilderment at her survival, but she was so happy that Maladrid was safe, she didn’t give herself a second thought.

  “I knew you were alive,” she whispered with her arms wrapped tightly around him. “I knew that when I saw that light extinguished, it didn’t belong to you.”

  “No, it wasn’t Maladrid’s light, Yven, but it is true that a light has been stolen from the Isilmaerte, a very important light.”

  Yven gazed at the man who was not a man and immediately fell to her knees in gracious awe.

  “Daian,” she whispered as the tears filled her eyes.

  “Do not weep, Yven, queen of Donir, daughter of Lonho and Vetna,” Garyli said with his hand on her head. “Your quest brings joy to Yaliwe because you do Her work, though you may not have initially set forth with Her work in mind. The destruction of the Dark Lady’s influence in Lochydor is important indeed, but there is a greater goal in this mission than you think.”

  “But I am so weary, my Lord,” her mind whispered to him.

  “All that dwell on the earth in these times are weary: weary of life and death. Do not bow to me, Yven; I should bow to you. You are queen as you were born to be, and we are all Children of Yaliwe,” he replied in thought and added aloud, “We have much to discuss. Let me lead you somewhere a bit more comfortable.”

  The Daian shone radiantly in the dark, and as he walked along the bank of the river that sprouted from the lake, his azure hue mingled with the violet water. As they strode the incline, the void above them became filled with horizontal structures that extended above the center of the lake like three arms of stone, and Maladrid eventually recognized them as the tunnels that branched from the mouth of the mountain. As they ascended the cliff beside the tunnels, Maladrid, Yven, and Forbor not only realized just how far they’d fallen but also just how immense the Isilmaerte really was. It didn’t seem to take as long as it should have to traverse the steep cliffs; perhaps because they were in the company of the Daian Lia and his enchanted stride enchanted theirs as well.

  Although Maladrid had taken great joy from the Balenta Glen, the Isilmaerte had its own endearing splendors. The jagged and random angles of the rocky walls were oddly beautiful. Occasionally, Maladrid caught glints of green peeking out between the stones, but as they passed through a veil of moss that hung over the opening to Garyli’s cave, it was crimson brilliance that flooded his eyes. The cavern was amazingly large, as long as it was tall, and the stairs of stone that wound around its perimeter led up to sev
eral more levels with gaping holes sprinkled throughout the walls. Each opening was filled with small red crystals that moved slightly, and Maladrid couldn’t help but be captivated by the strange shards that seemed to be humming.

  “You gaze upon the Ione, Maladrid. They sing the praises of Yaliwe, though their words would be difficult for you to understand. They speak in a language that can only express joy and beauty,” Garyli said.

  “Are they alive?”

  “Not as you are, but they are alive with the breath and love of Yaliwe.”

  “This mountain is alive too, isn’t it? It has a voice,” Yven said.

  “And eyes,” Maladrid added. “Green eyes that watch every move we make.”

  “It lives because of those who no longer live. You see, the mountain is not only my home; it is home to the first race of Dominhydor as well.”

  “The Isil?” Yven asked.

  “They don’t live in Hana? How did that happen?” Forbor asked.

  “It was not as far back as the beginning of all time, but it was in the beginning of Dominhydor’s time. When Yaliwe first created the earth, the Isil were the first Children to roam it. The farwe that birthed their kind fell first, but the other Star Stones soon descended and more races were born into the thriving world. For many years there was peace, and the Children of Dominhydor were certain that they would live in the splendor of Yaliwe’s earth forever, but they did not know what the Daian knew. We knew of the Children’s fate, and although we talked with them, it was different then. Some were too in awe of us to speak, and many feared us because they didn’t understand what we were. The Isil weren’t aware that there was such a thing as death and they certainly didn’t think to ponder what came after. In fact, at that time, there was nothing to come after; Yaliwe had not yet conceived of and created Hana, so when the first generation of the Isil died, their souls had no resting place. It was a tragedy, for certain, but because of it, a wondrous light was born: Yaliwe created Hana. Unfortunately, as the Isil were already dead, their spirits did not find the way to the Kingdom of Souls and they came here to rest. Soon after the creation of Hana, the key to Hana was also created. The Cyrin is Yaliwe’s light made substance, and when it is wielded, it is said that Hana will be brought down to the earth.”

 
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