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Maladrid tales of domi.., p.9

Maladrid - [Tales Of Dominhydor: Book One], page 9


Maladrid - [Tales Of Dominhydor: Book One]

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  “But Nomil would not be silenced. He understood his part in Yaliwe’s great plan and proclaimed to his kin that he had spoken to Yaliwe during his travels and that She had given him permission to create the new language. His reward for it, She had said, was eternal life, and though he had become daunted at times, he continued to believe that he was doing Yaliwe’s bidding. Nomil faced a world of judgment, but he remained committed to his path, and because of him, a new and blessed language was created and now, it is the preferred tongue of Dominhydor. Yaliwe, Herself, speaks it regularly.

  “You are like Nomil, Maladrid. You have a blessed mission, but you are daunted because you’re wondering who you are, as a commoner, to undertake it. But Yaliwe has Her eye on you, Maladrid, and Her hand is upon your heart.”

  “What happened to Nomil? Did Yaliwe deliver the eternal life she promised?”

  “Nomil died as all mortals must, but he did not die to the world. Yaliwe promised him eternal life on Dominhydor and Nomil did receive it. What he did for the world will live forever. His deeds have changed us all and because of it, he now lives every day in every word spoken, and his soul in Hana is high in Yaliwe’s court.”

  “Is that my destiny?”

  “I don’t know. I can only see so far ahead. No matter what, you must do as your heart instructs, Maladrid.”

  “After all of this, my heart longs for a seizure; it is my soul that still seeks victory.”

  “And honor,” Yvinhe added as she laid her hand on his face and whispered sincerely, “You will have it, soldier, but you must walk your path first.”

  “To the Forest of the Yaermaca,” he said.

  “Yes, that is an ideal destination, but one cannot simply stroll into the Forest. When I created it, I also created a web of magick to surround and protect it. The entrance is hidden by a veil of maddening mists, and when penetrated by those who are corrupt, they become lost within it. At first, they only forfeit their sanity, but their lives always follow. They become petrified by the torments of the fog, and there they remain as statues for eternity. It is the Golasle: the Mists of Madness.”

  “What about the uncorrupt?”

  “Everyone who enters is judged, and if there is darkness in the heart, my charm will reveal it,” she replied solemnly. “Come, Maladrid. You are weary and the deep night is soon fallen.”

  Yvinhe raised her hands to the sky, and Maladrid watched in astonishment as her toes burrowed into the earth and her legs fused back together and became wooden again. Branches grew out from her chest and arms and her hair sprouted large vibrant leaves. Her features melted away as she became the lovely willow again, but her voice continued to vibrate through Maladrid’s mind.

  “Lean against me, my Child. Let me envelop you with my soft foliage and lull you into sleep.”

  Maladrid nestled against her trunk, and as her branches wrapped around him, her roots emerged from the earth and covered him like a blanket. The blossoming flowers became his bed and their petals his pillows, and as he drifted into sleep, Yvinhe sang low and sweet in a voice that carried across the world.

  “Take your breath in swaying strides.

  Do not rush your life.

  The movement of the rushing tides

  Will calm your painful strife.

  The wind and leaf

  Will bring relief

  With joy, you will be rife.

  Slowly take your footsteps.

  Gently make your round.

  Forget the tears that you have wept

  That rained upon the ground

  The truest goal

  Within your soul

  Is to understand what you have found.

  What life I have is soaring

  And wherever I may roam

  Through the harrowing and alluring,

  I will always find my home.

  I will pray

  To Yaliwe

  And She will lead me home.”

  When he fell asleep, he was at peace. Once dreaming set in, however, his mind was overcome by horrible scenarios of Yven’s torture. When he awoke, his eyes burned from exhaustion and his limbs ached, but as he stood and brushed away the leaves, his dreams were still upon him. The willow had wilted and turned gray, and when he touched her, the gnarled bark that had once been so smooth crumbled to ash and fell to a large dull pile of dust at his feet.

  “The gold is fading. The silver too,” he whispered.

  He looked down his path and it was wrought with uncertainty, but at least he knew where it would lead. The ancient Forest of the Yaermaca awaited him, but what of the mists protecting it? He began to question the purity of his heart and the demons that possibly lay hidden within.

  The morning was cold and Maladrid shivered as he trudged with his hand continually wringing around the hilt of Yven’s sword. The rain began midmorning; drops like icicles speared his cheeks and hands. He spent the first night of travel huddled under a tuft of brush and the second upon a deserted plain with no shelter whatsoever. The second night, he hardly slept at all, but he could see the Forest in the distance and it filled him with hope. The impending Golasle clouded the glimmering trees, of course, but he knew that they were there, and for a brief moment, he truly believed that salvation lay just beyond the mists. On his third day of solitude, Maladrid saw the entirety of the Golasle and its billows of ivory stretching as far as he could see. As he stood before them, misty fingers reached out from the clouds, and he recoiled in fear. Although he drew Vetna in defense, he was more in favor of fleeing than fighting, but he remained firm while the maddening mists continued to beckon him forward. He closed his eyes and walked into them, but as soon as he felt the cool fog lay drops upon his cheeks, Yven’s blade was knocked out of his hand and he was suddenly thrown to the ground. An Achnor leaped on top of him, but he quickly jerked his knee upward into the beast’s belly and threw it back. He scrambled to his feet, and when he saw the clan of Achnora circling him, he also saw the glimmer of Vetna, far out of his reach.

  “Well, well, brothers, what do we have here?” one of the demons hissed.

  “Looks like the filthy boy who was traveling with the queen.”

  “No, looks like breakfast,” another howled, followed by the cackling laughter of its cohorts.

  The Achnora licked their lips and frothy saliva rolled down their chins as they closed in on Maladrid. His eyes spun over them as they approached, but as terrified as he was, when the Achnora began to lunge at him, he ducked and darted without pause. He sprinted for Yven’s sword and was intercepted by an Achnor crashing into his side, but when Maladrid slammed his fist into its face, he snatched away its blade and twisted it into its belly. He turned just in time to slice the throat of a charging Achnor, and he rolled under grasping arms and plowed through reeking bodies until his fingers wrapped around the cool hilt of Yven’s sword. But when he stood, he found himself alone. There were no Achnora; there was nothing except for thick billows of white. His face was slick with condensation, and although his heart was still pounding from the battle, imagined or not, he continued through the mists as calmly as possible. Occasionally, he thought he saw eyes burning through the clouds or the gleam of ravenous jaws; he even heard a growl and felt something cold and alien brush against his arms. He was no longer alone. There were beasts in the mists, tall ugly beasts with iron claws perfect for ripping flesh from bone, but there were also faces of Hohmara and Lyraera scattered in the fog. Although they didn’t glare at him with the violent rage of the demons, their eyes were cold and their expressions hard. The inhabitants of the Golasle surrounded him on all sides and as his feet pounded the earth, the yelps and screams continued, but below the shrieks, he heard someone crying his name. He immediately knew who it was; he’d heard her cries, both real and imaginary, many times before, but although he ran toward the sound, he never seemed to get closer. All of a sudden he stumbled, and he was launched forward onto a bed of rock; as he lay panting on the pile of stones, his hands and knees torn from the fall, th
e voices and faces overwhelmed him.

  “It’s just a test,” Maladrid whispered. “I cannot trust my senses.”

  But it was too real to ignore. The monsters hissed at him mockingly, and all the while, Yven stood sweet and silent between them. An Achnor lunged at Maladrid and he squeezed his eyes shut and screamed as he thrust out Vetna and the beast fell slack upon the blade, but when he opened his eyes, he gasped and dropped the sword in distress. It was not the Achnor he had skewered; it was Yven. He gingerly withdrew the blade from her belly, and as he wrapped his arms around her limp body and buried his face in her neck, he sobbed in pleading sorrow.

  “It isn’t real!” he screamed as her blood began to soak into his clothes. “Please, don’t let it be real!”

  He didn’t notice the surrounding faces slip away because he was focused solely on hers, and he didn’t hear the shrieks die out for the volume of his grief. He closed his eyes and the tears rolled rampant down his cheeks, but as the mists lifted and light flooded over him, Maladrid cracked his swollen, anguished eyes open and looked at Yven again. She was no longer cradled in his arms and her blood wasn’t staining his garments; however, he was wrapped around something: a statue of a female Hohmara. Although a few of her features were similar, it was not Yven, and he heaved a sigh of relief. It was then that he realized he was surrounded by nearly a hundred statues; creatures from nearly every race in Dominhydor were present and frozen in action with expressions of either fear or ferocity. He was encircled by Lyraera and Wa-D’tila, Grechla with scales of stone, and Anjila with their massive wings unfurled. He ran his hand over the stone face of the Hohmara woman beside him, across her furrowed brow and full pouting lips of gray rock. Her eyes were unnaturally wide as if she’d been frozen in a moment of pure terror, and although he did not know her, his heart ached for her.

  “Well, you must be Maladrid.”

  He lifted his head and beheld the proud creature standing in front of him. It was seemingly timber yet moving, and its skin looked like polished wood. Its body resembled that of a gazelle, though modestly larger, and from its forehead extended a long crooked branch that was dark brown and covered with tiny leaves that danced in the gentle breeze.

  Maladrid realized that he’d been staring at the creature with his mouth agape for some time before he finally replied, “Yes. I’m Maladrid.”

  “My name is Nonwe. Welcome to my home, Maladrid.”

  “Thank Yaliwe; I’ve finally reached the Forest of the Yaermaca?”

  “More or less,” Nonwe responded.

  Maladrid observed his surroundings and they seemed plain; they weren’t nearly as beautiful as the Balenta Glen and definitely not more so, as Laia had indicated.

  “Do not judge so quickly,” Nonwe said, reading Maladrid’s thoughts. “You have not yet seen the true Forest of the Yaermaca; it lies deeper in the wood. The Yaerla tend and guard this place as well, but the beauty you seek lies behind the gates. This is simply where the statues reside.”

  “Who are they?”

  “Those who did not pass the Golasle’s test: trespassers with ill intentions. The Mists of Madness ensnared them before they could do us any harm,” Nonwe said as he stamped his cloven hooves and twitched his stubby tail. “I trust the journey through wasn’t too harrowing?”

  “No, it was fine,” Maladrid replied with a forced smile.

  “You must be weary. Let us get to the gates, and on the way, perhaps you will tell me of your journey so far.”

  As they walked slowly through the woods, Maladrid poured his heart out to the gentle Yaerla who listened intently to every word. The forest became thicker and darker as they progressed until Maladrid was forced to squint in order to see where he was going, but seemingly out of nowhere, the gates of the Forest of the Yaermaca appeared and flooded him with brilliant light. The large double doors, woven entirely of silver-tipped leaves and dark green vines, glowed brightly and stretched to the height of the tallest trees. Maladrid gasped as he gazed at the immense doors, struck numb by their grace, but the soft singing coming from the other side eventually broke his trance.

  “Is that the Yaerla singing?”

  “No. They do, of course, but that sounds more like Dyngyli,” Nonwe replied.

  “Dyngyli? I’ve heard that name before. There was a creature in Ladyndal, a creature of many colors, and its song entranced me as never before.”

  “That’s Dyngyli, alright,” Nonwe said. “He pops into the Forest often and we welcome him gladly. Truly, one cannot be displeased while in the presence of a Daian, especially one as lighthearted as Dyngyli.”

  “I didn’t even realize he was a Daian,” Maladrid replied. “He must’ve thought me quite the fool.”

  “Don’t be so hard on yourself, Maladrid.”

  “How can I not be? I’ve somehow taken on this incredible task, and I can’t even recognize a Daian when I see one.”

  “From what I’ve heard of you, I’d say you are assimilating this new world rather well.”

  “You’ve heard of me?”

  “The Forest awaits. Let Dyngyli’s song chase your worries away.”

  Nonwe touched the tip of his twiggy horn to the doors, and they began to open. In the silence of the Forest, the doors rumbled, and as they opened wider, a great light shone through the aperture and caused Nonwe’s wooden skin to gleam. They walked through the gates into a circular clearing where twenty Yaerla stood with their skin glittering likewise. Surrounding the clearing were numerous tall, ancient trees, and as Maladrid gazed upon them, he understood what Laia had meant. Beautiful, though, did not seem the correct word to Maladrid; “glorious” was more appropriate. The bark of the trees shimmered like the Yaerla, and some of their trunks bore odd braches that resembled the Yaerla’s legs and even heads accented with magnificent branch horns that were covered in golden leaves. The rest of the leaves on the unique trees were gold as well, and in front of each was a pool of amber, syrupy-looking liquid.

  Maladrid sat among the Yaerla and watched in amusement as Dyngyli danced before them. His colorful body skipped wildly from side to side, and with each step, his feet jingled as if there were bells attached to his toes. As he sang, his voice bounced around the Forest and caused those listening to unknowingly bob their head in rhythm.

  “In the fair beginning days

  Only the tiny roamed the earth,

  But soon the large and formidable

  Had their Hanalian birth.

  Tall and long, black and white

  And burning with Yaliwe’s light

  Were strongest of Dominhydor’s might

  And the smallest came to spite.

  The little Morcs of the grassland

  Were hungry only for the green,

  But the Tylira fed on Morc flesh

  And on that, the Morcs weren’t keen.

  ‘Numerous we may be,’ they cried,

  ‘But half of our ranks have surely died.’

  ‘Come,’ said the Tylira. ‘You all have lied.

  Ten thousand more kin our eyes have spied.’

  ‘Why must you hunt us?’ they asked.

  ‘Please stop. We wish that you would.

  Why must you seek to devour us?”

  The Tylira asked, ‘Why must you taste so good?’

  ‘But it isn’t fair; it isn’t right

  That you should have the deadly might.

  All we can do is scratch and bite,

  But we’re too meek to put up any fight.’

  ‘Then make yourselves scarce,’ the Tylira said.

  ‘Disappear if you value your blood.

  If our sizes were reversed, you’d hunt our kin.

  On our lives, we bet you would.

  So the battle is one sided, little ones.

  So the match is surely unfair,

  But there are far more Morcs than Tylira,

  And in sudden danger, you quickly disappear.’

  ‘That’s true,” said the Morcs. ‘We can,

t can’t we just be friends?’

  ‘We have plenty of friends, but no lunch,’ they replied.

  And with a snap and a gobble, that’s where the tale ends.”

  Maladrid giggled and the Yaerla stamped their hooves in approval of Dyngyli’s song. The Daian bowed dramatically, and with a laugh that sounded like silver bells, he disappeared.

  “Feeling better?” Nonwe asked.

  “My nerves are settled, but my body continues to ache.”

  “Come then and drink from the Pools of the Yaermaca so that you may be restored,” Nonwe said.

  Maladrid looked at him worriedly as he bent down to one of the ocher Pools.

  “Don’t worry; it’s only sap,” Nonwe said, but when Maladrid cupped the sap in his hands and brought it to his lips, the Yaerla added, “And the blood of the Yaermaca.”

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