Chapter 13: The Treachery of Mages
The roar of a sovereign lion thundered from Wauldigg’s throat, burning several of the nakfyggrs. Ultimately the greatest poison to spirits is that of authority greater than their own, and when the firesong connected to Wauldigg it fully expressed a noble nature!
The glow of flames had extended from the lion pelt of flames and surrounded Wauldigg and even his strangely lifeless eyes had a spark of flame within them. Jadah cackled caught up in the flow of magic, the rush of power!
Wauldigg hardly needed to strike the spirits, his mere presence burned away at them. The nakfyggrs fled from him crying out in terror, yet they did not flee into the darkness. Instead they clumped together, forming a writhing mass in a vaguely egg-like shape. Had Jadah or Wauldigg not been carried away with the flow of magic, they would have realised what was happening.
The spirits were under the pressure and fear of Wauldigg, fusing into one being! More and more the countless flock of nakfyggrs amassed!
A droning desperate cry of fear and loss issued out from the spirit egg. The nakfyggrs on the outside grew devoid of colour and turning to ashes, vanished in the dark. Before what was within the egg could be revealed there was a second droning desperate cry and the very briars of the maze twisted out and surrounded it, and flowers of shining white ice blossomed from them.
This second egg pulsated.
Finally Jadah was roused from the flow of magic by this.
“RUKH, ITS TURNING INTO A NAKRUKH!” She screamed in terror.
Wauldigg too was brought to his senses by her scream and hearing her words turned around and fled with the greatest speed he could muster. Jadah not content with this speed urged the pelt of flame to Wauldiggs legs and the dwarf then had lion legs of flame granting him speed.
The briars of trees tried to impede them, but Wualdigg simply crashed through. He ran so long and fast that he felt he legs would be burned away by flame, but he did not stop, not with knowing what was being born behind him.
They burst out from the briar maze, back into the forest of the crow-leaf trees, back under that sleeping gaze.
The flame scattered from Wauldigg’s legs and Jadah was only able to recover mere scraps.
“What madness has driven the spirits to gather and hunt, to even end their lives by fusing like that?” Jadah asked aloud.
Wauldigg panted heavily pulling out a silver flash and downing the contents. His breath evened out a bit.
“There is something else stalking the forest, I knew it had disturbed the spirits, but… a rukh?”
Rukh are not the most powerful kinds of spirits, indeed some are even quite weak, but a rukh of any kind is connected to the concept of judgement. Just as dragons were considered Judges… so too are rukhs.
Judges of spirits, of the dead. No rukh is to be simply trifled with, much less one born from the fusion of so many other spirits.
“Master Wauldigg, what kind of creature is it that stirs the spirits so?” Jadah asked.
Wauldigg shook his head.
“I don’t know, whatever it is… sinister and cowardly, that is my gut feeling”
The dwarf looked back at where they came from, a shattered hole in the briars.
“We should keep moving, I don’t want to led astray by the nakruhk”
Jadah gently climbed off Wauldigg’s back. They walked carefully under the obscure gaze of the crows.
“I must thank you in full master Wauldigg, even if I had paid a cost to deal with those spirits, I would not have escaped from them birthing that rukh.”
Wauldigg tugged on his frayed braids.
“It’s nothing miss Jadah, I just did what any true son of stone would do… but what are you doing out here? This fallen realm is filled tip to top with lurking dangers. Your cottage should be safe…”
“Yes, it should be.”
Wauldigg almost stumbled.
“What? What has happened?”
Jadah moved in front of Wauldigg and looked into his eyes.
“Forgive me for this, but I must know what is happening… look… look… look… into my eyes…”
Wauldigg almost pulled away, but his body while still upright went strangely slack and he was lost in the unbroken whiteness of Jadah’s eyes.
“You are a good man, but you have fallen into the loop, you cannot see that the days pass by your mind is filled with fog, but through my eyes, you can see through that fog.”
A shudder passed through Wauldigg’s body and the air between his eyes and hers became hazy.
“Speak, speak to me of days that escaped your grasp, of the changes that happened, when the cottage changed, when the wards were sundered it cannot have escaped the depth of your spirit, though the loop clouded your mind, speak to me” Jadah asked.
The voice that replied was not Wauldigg’s, yet it was of him.
“Deceitful witch of compassion and defiance, you dare strain my master’s essence thus! Ever do your kind seek your own ends, and leave curses for all else to deal with! You dare to give speech to this power of his to give mind to the mindless! Curse you not a thought do you give to my master!”
A pained expression swept across Jadah’s face and guilt welled up from her very heartflame.
“Do not rebuke me, power of Wauldigg…”
“You deserve more than rebuke, would that your compassion was not so twisted! Your gratitude so heartless!”
“…please, just answer me, and this will end, I cannot drag your master free of the magic, so this is all I can do”
Wauldigg’s eyes became as two proudly blue opals.
“Your will is tainted, but to care for your kin is just, know that your wards fell after the smoke of your cottage turned wan and disturbed, when the whole forest cried out without any to hear it. Master did not see what caused it, but it was many many days ago. Since then, the loop changed and your wards were torn apart.
The next day he came upon ruins and bloodshed and lost his life in turn, many days passed, many times he was slain. NOT ONCE SEEING HIS SLAYER. Then as if it never happened it stopped, and the cottage was left intact except the wards, master and you three sisters left unslain. Return this power to mindlessness, before master is torn asunder!”
Tears worked their way from Jadah’s eyes and she closed them, the charm ended.
“I’m sorry, but I love my sisters… and… I’m afraid. I’m sorry” Jadah whispered.
Jadah hated her eyes. She hated the power they had. She hated how she would always, always end up using them. Most of all, she hated herself for using that power.
She fled into the darkness’ embrace, away from Wauldigg, away from her guilt.
When Wauldigg awoke from the scouring, he did not remember anything of what happened.
Not saving Jadah.
Not the Nakrukh.
Not what Jadah did.
He continued his struggle, his story. He was not unravelled by Jadah, and he had not yet unravelled Galshea.
The crow-leaves saw. The Forest saw, but as always it spoke not a word.
[One too many muck ups, I plan to be back on track]