Tuesday, July 19, 2016

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A Solitary Crow - Elkall-Anuz - 9

Home They Brought Her Warrior

Of course it was Gwynwyffer who went down first. While men might talk, she was given to doing, and doing first. It was a deep ingrained habit with her, some semblance was given to her by her mother and father – but it had taken over as a child, to be one of the traits which marked her. Which is why she was talkative – even garrulous, in her nature. It was that she wanted to know that there were others who could enunciate in a language which she understood. When she reached the bottom of the floor, she hunched down and moved out of the way for the next jumper to the earth. She was a bit too the right, and without thinking about it moved her hands to find out if there was anything which said that this room had been inhabited. If everything was stationary, or crumbled, it was very unlikely. But if there was anything whole or solid, it would mean that some thinking beings had been here. But, as far as she could sense, there were only cobwebs, not even the signs of bats sleeping off the day. This disappointed her. She waited for someone to jump, not realizing that she was tapping her foot – her mind moved as fast as the speed of wind rippling through the grain – bobbing its way up and down and leaving behind the waves of tempest behind them.

Then down came Loria, but she was there one moment, and gone the next – even though Gwynwyffer only took her eyes off for a moment. Finally, be legionnaire jumped – but held his sword up, thus closing the portal behind him as did. She rather suspected that he had done something to erase the portal. It was not as good as what had been, but the cautiousness might have given them the chance against gargun or morgathi. Or at least it could be hoped it would.

Everything grew quiet, noiseless as the barrows from the North. A ping grew on Gwynwyffer's face – she felt the pang of the shadow roving out. She did not know if it was a vision – or a dream. While on the outside her face was calm, on the inside it was anything but. A welling up of feeling as if she would scream came in to the fore part of her brain. But she controlled it well, and no one was the wiser for it. This had not often happened, normally she was rational all on the outside and on the inside. It was as if a shadow had released itself – and meant that it was a vision, caused by the dark God – or one of his troop – and not merely her own rippling. At that point, on the outside, she looked around for the cause of it. And then her eyes became use to the dim light, and all at once, across the room, she saw a crow – that was not moving. It was then that she guessed that it was stuffed, but it had feelings that were not an animals – but a spirit. Is spirit that a God put in to the stuffed bird, and set it to watch. They were seen, and the spirit in the bird had reported their activities to the God which he served.

But crows did not serve Morgath. The species was particular to a God or Goddess. There were then to options: Navah or Sarajin. One of the two of these gods were watching the conflict between Morgath and the three of them. She did not know what they wanted, but as a guess, it would not be pleasant for them. But perhaps some advantage could be gained. This was her thought – in the length of time it took Loria and the legionnaire to fall. Yes, she was quick witted even by the best of her species.

At that point, she made a very gentle shush sound, and in a very low tone of voice – though enunciated clearly: “Over across the room from me, there is a crow that has been taxidermized – and gifted with some sort of spirit.” the rhythm of her voice was extremely low, because many years ago she had struck up a conversation with a man who made it his job to make lifelike birds. During this conversation he had mentioned that low tones would often not be heard by magical spirits that he would place in them. Of course his spirits were far less powerful, and it might be that this would be a more powerful soul – but it was the only chance she had.

The other two merely nodded, and then the legionnaire asked: “Who do you think it is?”

“If it were on the sea, it would probably be Sarajin – but it is far from that, so it would seem like the God of Death. And it may sound strange, but Morgath and Navah are not friendly with each other. I would say that Naveh wanted to know what is going on, but not to interfere unless absolutely necessary.” She was staring at the Crow, and she thought that it's right eye looked at her, though she could not be certain.

Over in Loria's position, a knife – meant for throwing flicked out of her white cloak. “What do you want me to do, kill it or let it be?” There was no malice in this question, it was matter-of-fact, in a way that someone who was quite capable of doing it had to be.

“Let the spirit escape.” Gwynwyffer had a plan.

With subtle gestures and the flick of the wrist, Loria expertly gashed into the crows belly. All at once, there was a puff that was magic. It was the spirit trapped inside the Crow, going towards the God that it served. It flew three times around the room, nearly brushing with every face, and then went down to the floor, never to be seen by them.

“It was as I thought – Naveh has its spirits below.” There was a nod from the other two, with this sorts of details, Gwynwyffer's mind was subtle.”It did not want to be seen – either by the living gargum, or the undead, which serve Morgath. Naveh has living supplicants – and places little respect for the dead ones – such as minding this passage. Morgath has fewer of the living ones, and places more faith in the dead ones.”

Looking down the dark corridor, and see very little but the hands that reached out – it was the legionnaire who remarked in the direction of Gwynwyffer, your new great deal about the Gods and Goddesses. Why then does no one who is a mage take power? The kingdom of the Gateway – Meldryn is close, but even there King is not a mage. Why is this? Is there some rule? And how is it enforced?” There was not really puzzlement in his voice, he was more as if he knew he was in a foreign land, and wanted to know how things worked – in this time, in this place.

Speaking faintly, his questions were answered – but the speaker knew that they would be at the entrance very soon. So replies were kept short, shorter then her long style. Occasionally there was silence, as if she had something more to say – but thought the better of it. “We are in the stronghold of the last mage who crowned him self King. Ever afterwards, by open or closed means – there was a phrase that no one called himself King could ever rule.”

“You did not answer who enforces this.” This line was filled with a eager grin, a sardonic expression tinged with grief. There was something more on his mind, though what no one knew exactly.

“There is a guild, and its root level is to anoint persons that claim some prestidigitation. Either they go to the Shek-Pvar and are tested, or they will not, but eyes are out everywhere to catch anyone doing anything when the king, or Queen, is crowned.” there was a dead sense, and it might be magical. The air was becoming heavy, and still.

“We have had many priests who sat on the throne, and more that were honored – they were not a member, but they were invited to the inner rituals. Why do not you do it that way?”

Gwynwyffer lowered her voice down to a whisper, and in a gravelly voice said: “Magic is stronger on this island.” Then there was silence. But there was something that the legionnaire had to do, and quickly, because he knew that there was a good chance that relatively shortly he would be dead. He hustled up to where Loria was, and made a quick motion with his hands.

“Do not talk, but give this to my brother, he is the Commander of the XXVI legion. It is an old and Honorable post, and he will leave it to the my death.” As he put his hand out, and felt a hand reaching down for it - he sensed that Loria knew what he was talking about. Someone would have to defend, while the other two whisk away. And since Loria was the engine, and Gwynwyffer was the guide – that left him to defend. In the old stories, it is announced quite plainly who is going to die. This was not the case here, he did not know that he was going to die until it was obvious. Obvious in that rank kind of way, there is almost a smell about it. In the smell was not tangible, but on the inside – where it was no less real. There was about 50 yards, and they needed a plan. But no plan left him alive. But as a legionnaire, this was expected. Legionnaires died, so that the next legionnaire could take up the flag and move forwards. This time it was his turn, and he did not relish it – but nor did he shirk it.

Then generally on his shoulder, he felt a long hand, which could only be from the Elf. “ now it is time to engineer are strategy.” in a human such words were far too long for their own good – Gwynwyffer used them, and she sounded odd. But elves were queer, and such words seemed natural in this state. Thus they gathered together, feeling by the war where the others were, at least approximately.
The high pitched, but soothing, voice of Loria began: “We are all aware that someone needs to mentally unblock the pseudo-stone.”

With earnest measure, they had moved to the door. It was a very slow conversation, because all of them spoke softly and gently. Legionnaire whispered: “I think we all know that that is your duty, that is why we brought you here. On the other side of this door is the enemies and the stone.”

“What you do not know, is why the Morgathi are here.”

“No, but I am sure your going to tell us.” Even the Legionnaire had quieted his voice and modulation. Gwynwyffer was perfectly still.

“The morgathi are here to kill the gargun, as strange as that may sound.”

“I thought the gargun were evil, and thus must be destroyed.” It was odd not seeing who one spoke to crossed the legionnaires mind. He wished he had some confirmation as to what the others were thinking. But it was dark of dark, even shadow did not describe.

“There not evil, as such. They take men, women, and children to eat – but that is their way. Lothrim picked them out for this reason. They are vicious, but not evil root and branch. Whereas, the followers of the Dark God are evil, and wish to have control over this land. For when it becomes time to crown their King, it will be here where they will do that.”

“Is their one close hand?” The legionnaire covered his mouth with a single hand, to make sure that silence, as much as possible, was maintained.

“They seem to think so, or the barrow shadow would not be restless. So we must drive out the undead, and send away the gargun, both. In the old stories, this is done at the very last minute. But that is not the way it really happens. The real time is when both sides are gathering, because each one wants to strike just for the other one is able to.”

“You mean now?”

“That is up to someone else for up in the hierarchy, with which we will consult. But, it is still in others hands.”

“So explain this to me.”

“There are two forces – one of true evil, and one that can be bent that way.”

“Morgathi and the gargun.”

“Absolutely correct. They both want Ekall-Anuz for their own purposes.”

“The gargun to feed of the living, and the Morgathi to rule over them if they have – what?”

“An undead priest King, and this would be the place to crown them.”

“Both cannot have it, and the morgathi are the stronger of them. But they have disadvantages.”

“Which goes with there being evil – yes. And we are the third, and must defeat both of them to prevail. Which is why we must plan precisely, and even then have a bit of, what you humans call – luck.”

“You elves do not call it luck?”

“There is no such thing as luck, we merely say it is being on the right side - this time.” Her voice did not go above a whisper.

“How do what?”

“The game is dealt many times, we just have to hope that this is the right time.” replied Gwynwyffer, her voice however came from a different place – above both of them, which was odd. But neither of the two could perceive how she was doing it. Loria could illuminate herself – but this was the first time that she was not. It was to hide herself, which was very unusual.

This point there was a ruffle, as if someone were dropping from the ceiling. Than both the legionnaire, and Loria, knew what was going on – some how she had wedged herself against the ceiling. The legionnaire then asked: “What were you doing on the ceiling?”

A gasp reinvigorated her lungs, and it suddenly became clear that her short words were all that she could do – there were other more important things. “I know that you both do not look at manuscripts, especially ones that are stored in forgotten libraries. But that is my specialty, and from one of these books, there was a note on Lothrim's way of devising his corridors. It noted that there was often a small slit to spy and watch over the other side. So I decided to check, and there is one.”

“For a woman you have great deal of common sense. I assume you were looking through it.”

“Many minutes. It is nice to hear you say that, even though it is already known.” When talking at a sotto voce, it underlined how many large words she used in her normal tone of voice. - she felt flat.

Slowly there was a nestling feeling, as if someone's face grew close to the legionnaire and Gwynwyffer – it was odd how their was a pressure to join with the face, even though know one saw it. They both turned their heads in the correct direction. Than they heard Loria utter: “My legionnaire, do you have more of the flame with you? I do not know what you have to do to evoke it.”

“I have exactly 2 committed to memory – but it will probably not work on the gargun, unless she allows it. The Morgathi, on the other hand, it will gladly do.”

“This will be good, we must divide our opponents. We should attack at sunset, and ends we can look out by the light – that will be easy to obtain the time.”

“You were here last night, weren't you?”

“The two of you were sleeping. It gave me something to do, with a headache that was from the stars gruesome. It is customary for my people to remember every detail of where they have walked, until the memory fades.”

“So what is your plan?”

“First we set the gargun against their mortal enemies – balancing the forces, picking one off against another. Then you burn yourself at one of the morgathi, holding the core of the body against the flame.”

“But there are two Amorvin.”

“We will take a certain amount of shots at the other one, because it is wounded. If it even shows up at all. Remember to shoot at the undead gargun first, because when they disappear it is forever.”
“You did some damage last night?”

“How much is in question, it is possible that one Gulmorvin was banished to another plane – perhaps.”

“Even if one is banished, that will be the betterment.”

“If it is true, but that is difficult to say.”

“Understood. What about the Queen?”

It was at this point that Gwynwyffer spoke up: “The Queen will be a slingshots problem. There are certain things that are best dealt with by precise means. This is one of them. An egg is a precious thing, and given a chance, she will do anything for one. Normally the King would not allow it, but in the hullabaloo, he will have other things to occupy his intention.

They waited for the coming of the summer dusk, with all that it had with it – for example in the summer twilight was shorter, as opposed to the winter. Loria had stuck her hand in the way of the slit, which Gwynwyffer had identified. Since they had been in the dark for a long time, the very faint light was all that they could see. And that meant it was bright, and the slow sinking of the sun, even though the sun was not there transformed it. Because as the sun slipped from world, these pseudo-stones light became that much stronger.

This was not as much information as any of them would like to have had – it was a pitched fever to just push the door down that the legionnaire wanted – but he knew that that would be a fatal mistake. So they waited, waited for the sun to go in to twilight. During this time, the elf was trying to grasp a three dimensional image – because elves thought in three dimensions, not having to discipline their minds to read, as humans did. In that way they are like the ancestral peoples of the world. In her minds map, what she was trying to do was to bounce out of the hidden chamber way, and leap towards the columns: and then snatch an egg and reveal herself. Be problem was with the guards, for unlike humans or dwarves, they did not have any particular goal. This was probably by design, because most races would stand in one place, and then move to another, in a ritual kind of way

Then the legionnaire spoke: “In my the only one who does not know the layout?”

“Certainly so, and therefore should last.” Replied Gwynwyffer.

“In my military, I should go first.”

“When we are in your military,” looking at him was Gwynwyffer stern face, “we will remember that. But this is not your military, and you have not been elected commander.”

For note the first time, the silence and darkness hid whatever expression the legionnaire had.

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