Chapter 20: The Canyon of the Encased Sleeping

It looked at first glance to be a pitch black endless canyon. Where the land of the fallen realm was icy earth just transformed into fathomless darkness.

This however, was once a mountain range.

These mountains collapsed inwards when the realm fell, though the mountains became pits, everything else on and within the mountains was covered in a darkness like rock. Plants, beasts, birds and bugs, everything became rocks so dark they could not be seen. Each one was asleep, each rock breathed out slowly in sleep, even if what was within had no breath. The breath was as a whisper and this whisper was a wind.

It was gentle within the canyon, but above? The sleep of those within the rocks turned to dreams, dreams of hunter and prey, of prey becoming hunter. The wind became gale. The gales battled, making a storm. Each day would bring a victor, but the magic of the fallen realm would return the breath of all those sleeping in stone with each new day, and thus the battle would start again.

Was this a consequence of the magic that created the realm? Was it the design of come cunning mind? Jadah did not think of questions like these. She had come with rather different questions in mind. Dwelling within the canyon was a being that could enter and leave the fallen realm as it pleased. A being Jadah hoped could give some answers.

Orapele Devourer of Obscure Things.

Jadah was glad that she was not an obscure enough of an existence for Orapele to consider devouring her. Rather than devouring… the greater danger would be that she’d not encounter Orapele at all.

She stood at the edge of the canyon and walked out. It looked like she was walking in the air amidst the darkness. In Kigan things have a propensity to form mazes and such. In the shadow-world of Awarth, this is even more apparent.

The motion, that is magic, creates patterns.

Checking her surroundings, Jadah pulled a lidded dish from her hat. The dish was in the shape of a cat’s paw. Within was a golden paste, a rather simple creation.

It was mostly just leaves from her hatbush and various paints. With a fairly plain brush, Jadah coated the soles of her boots with it. She stamped about a bit and with each stamp she did, she left a glowing foot-print. Satisfied she nodded her head and walked further into the darkness.

Normally one would have no sense of distance or direction while in the slumbering canyon. There would be only darkness all around and a person would be unable to tell walls from floor or ceiling. Jadah however seemed to be moving with distinct purpose, this was because she had known where to go ever since she had first set foot inside the canyon.

Outside she had not been able to hear it, but inside? Above the whisper of the sleeping rocks, there was another sound. Somebody was loudly munching, and cracking sounds came with each munch.

Jadah was following the sound of this eating.

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Chapter 19: The Right Question?

The irises of Yovra’s eyes were as mirrors, but Koolah, being a brew-witch had seen far too many unsettling sights, she was not phased. Of course, part of this was that she had encountered Yovra once before. She did however, make sure to look at those eyes without gazing into them. A magician who does not keep their awareness of the unusual is one who dies quickly.

As one arch-mage put it, ‘It is best to have some small part of a mundane hick-farmer’s mind, personally I keep mine asleep in amulets’. It should be noted that while the essence can be correct, the execution can to put it mildly leave a lot to be desired.

So, Koolah without the mindfragment of some unfortunate bumpkin, made sure there wasn’t anything amiss about Yovra. The sword-maiden herself smiled. Koolah was shocked. Never had she seen a face so utterly transformed. Yovra’s face was normally cold as ice and just as emotionless, a smile gave it a kind of smothering cute innocence. Koolah’s mind could not decided whether she despised the face or was enchanted by the purity of it.

“Thank you…” Yovra began.

Koolah decided that it was better to just not look at her. She concluded that the desire of dragons are terrifying.

“…this mirror, you healed me and through that I experienced a love I may never feel again, it cannot replace what you have lost, but take it.” Yorva said.

Not being one for ceremony, when Koolah heard the words ‘take it’ it was snatched and hidden away inside her hat.

“I don’t suppose you know what it does?” Koolah asked.

Yovra began to do stretches on her mirror-sword, alarming cracking sounds coming from her limbs.

“I’m terribly sorry, but I haven’t the foggiest, I’d imagine corrupt beings wouldn’t like it one bit though”

“How helpful, a mirror made of tears that might cause nasty things to react badly, I must say, I am thrilled. Well, as riveting as talking about this is, I believe you know why I am here”

“Something went wrong” Yovra said.

She sniffed the air, staring at Koolah, her forked tongue flicked out.

“You died? More than once?”

“That much I know, I met the Wanderer and it just gave me a bunch of cyptic nonsense before saying that I was asking the wrong question, which was who killed my sisters and I?”

Pacing back and forth on her hovering sword, Yovra considered Koolah’s situation.

“I saw an explosion, I can remember that, I didn’t dare come near to your cottage, I have trouble enough keeping myself together in this place. Milord Judge sent me only to observe.”

“What went wrong? Who caused it? That kind of question?” Koolah asked.

“Perhaps, but I think I can help with that other question of yours… you got a good long look at that wound of mine, did you not”

Koolah nodded.

“You were attacked by something that…”

She paused, struck by a thought.

“Yes, you work with plants don’t you? In some of your brews I imagine” Yovra said.

“It probably isn’t a coincidence…”

“I’m afraid that I couldn’t see what attacked me, it ambushed and then fled as soon as it found that it couldn’t break my skin or scales. I had wandered out from this lair, since something kept destroying the mirrors I sent out to observe this realm, it was then that it struck”

“Do you have any more ideas as to what it was?”

“Cowardly, chlanic, connected heavily with plants and highly disturbing to spirits, I can’t think of anything other than that… but, if this being is your creation, how did it come to be… what have you been brewing in your cottage? Why did you sisters come here?”

Koolah thought about it for a bit, before silently taking out a broom made from the frozen crowleaf trees and slipping away, too prideful to admit she had damaged memories. Yovra would have liked some answers herself, but she was not a being that was ungrateful. Even her mighty master knew when to press on and when to retreat, how could she not do the same.

Besides… the most important thing was recovering her full strength, especially with something vile stalking the fallen realm.

Yovra in her cold heart, wished Koolah well.

[Started another course, updates will be Mondays and Wednesdays, until such a time as my workload becomes too weighty, then it will just be Wednesdays.]

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Chapter 18: The Thorn of Hate, the Balm of Love

Dragons are a creature from which many things can be born. Serpents from the tail, warriors from the teeth and countless things from their potent blood. A dragonewt can in some ways be viewed as a larval dragon, though, they are not the young of dragons.

A dragonewt is a being revived with the blood of a dragon. A oncedead given new life, though there is dark talk of dragons breathing life into bodies without spirit or soul. Regardless, making a dragonewt is like throwing a person into a pot and boiling them into a new form.

Some say a new person.

Of the many servants a dragon can create, dragonewts are fortunate in that should their master allow it, they can in the fullness of time, mature into a full dragon.

The sword-maiden, Yovra did not speak, instead she slowly turned in the air, showing her back to Koolah. A hiss expelled from Koolah’s mouth as she saw the wound that Yovra bore.

There were claw marks that had failed to break the skin, but there was a sinister green rash around these marks. Seeing that Yovra was unwilling or unable to speak, Koolah took it upon herself to examine this wound.

Looking with magesight revealed quite a different picture to that of the physical flesh. All beings of with a Form in Kigan have patterns that arise from the interaction of the flow of magic with this Form. Yovra’s patterns were as shards of a mirror, shining bright with reflected light, and coiled and shaped more like a dragon than her Form was. Within her form, beyond these patterns was a small pure mirror with a pink flame within it. A refined heartflame. Not true fire, but the spark of life, creator of motion.

Yovra’s Form was quite alright, but her patterns, there was a torn tattered mess on her back, and in the middle of this mess, was a knot like a weed, trying to feed on her patterns to take root in her Form. Yovra was actually slowly pushing it off of her patterns. It was clear to Koolah that eventually Yovra would eject the intruder from her spirit, but she would be greatly weakened and would likely have to spend quite a lot of time and resources to recover her power.

Examining the knot Koolah determined that it was in line with it’s appearance, a pattern of plant origin, and awash with powers of Vim. She was considering purging it of its aggressiveness, thus allowing Yovra to cultivate a spirit plant in her own patterns. It could only be a good thing to have the sword-maiden owe her for turning a bane into a boon.

Just as she was about to start doing this, she let out a low hiss.

“Chlanic!”

She slapped her hat and red ethereal scales formed a sheet around her.

Yovra let out a gentle nod at Koolah’s cry of fear and disgust.

In Kigan it is sometimes said that there are three kinds of wound. Normal regular wounds, vorpal wounds, that is to say wounds carrying the essence of death, wounding and destruction, that are filled with fatal omens. The final kind, is Chlan.

Chlan means many things, but in particular a chlan wound does not bring mere simple death. A chlan wound is a wound that twists. That breaks.

That corrupts. That makes a being… wrong.

If Koolah had any dislike of Yovra that was now replaced with admiration for being able to remain unsullied by such vileness. She was under no illusions as to the grit of her own character. She rummaged around in her hat. She had something that she could use, but she was hoping to find something else.

Alas, the chlanic is not so easily dealt with.

“You’ll owe me for this. Just answering a few questions won’t be enough. You’ll owe my family. My sisters.” Koolah hissed.

Yovra said nothing.

“Not convinced I see… If I bring it out, you’ll know.”

Koolah pulled out a wooden jar. It was a simple, normal looking jar. It had however a faint humble feel to it.

The spirit plant on Yovra’s patterns twitched, as if sensing something that filled it with fear and loathing. Yovra let out a gasp as the plant struggled.

Looking with at Yovra with truly sour face, Koolah slowly pried the lid of the jar. The laughter of children arose, and the plant shivered in fear. This was not cruel laughter, as children are sometimes wont to have, but a laughter of joy, full of warmth.

As Koolah fully pulled the lid free, more sounds came, the gentle whispers of a mother’s love. The stable voice of a father. Koolah was almost drawn back to when her parents yet lived. She stiffly cleared some tears from her eyes.

“A moment of innocence, pure, untainted by ignorance, not stained by duties unkempt. A moment of true love. Turned to a balm for the greatest ills.”

Koolah for a moment resentfully stared at Yovra, but she could not maintain such bitterness with the balm’s scent reminding her of simpler, untwisted sentiments.

“It was never meant for someone other than my pride but I offer it for your sake and mine. My Sisters and I, we each brewed our sorrows, this was mine, sorrow made into memory of joy. Dare you take the cost of it?”

Yovra shivered as she made the effort to speak.

“This cost is heavy, but as you love your family, I love milord Judge. For his greatness, I dare the cost”

Koolah closed her eyes and let loose a low shuddering breath.

“So be it. Sword-maiden, hold the vile thing tight. It will try to flee from this, and if it succeeded it would be the worst for both of us”

With no ritual, no mystic words, no cast of heartflame’s sparks, Koolah simply started kneading the balm into Yovra’s back.

There was at first a shriek of terror from the knot, quickly silenced by soft murmur of parental and filial love. It struggled mightily and it for a moment seemed like it would tear forth from Yovra’s back.

Yovra was however a servant of a mighty dragon! How could she just allow such a thing to happen?

Its struggles grew ever weaker, and Yovra found her spirit and body filled with the curious warmth of love. A few shining tears fell from Yovra’s eyes.

She did not know why she cried, but the diamond like tears would not stop.

Koolah was surprised when the tears began circling Yovra’s head, she did not stop applying the balm. Only when the chlanic pattern was fully gone would she relax.

Just a bit more than half of the balm was used up, but the knot was gone, purged without even a whimper.

Yovra’s tears gathered together and froze in the form of a small plain mirror which fell into the palms of her hands.

Then, finally, she opened her eyes.

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