By Christine King All Rights Reserved ©

Fantasy / Adventure

Chapter 12

We Must Find the Three Protectors

The Forest air was heavy with a thick damp mist. From the lowness, spilling over, with impact; a waterfall, persistently lacerated, tearing away at the rocks ahead of them, down into this vast depression in the earth, crashing below into the unknown abyss, of a climbing fog. There was evidence that something massive had come through here! A threatening, but far off growl, echoed through the trees, from the remoteness of extent and distance. Adrian glanced over to read Elvia’s composure, to see if her expression, was one of fright; it wasn’t! Her face was a sincere and determined one, and Adrian seemed to love her even more now, in his discovery of her, to be just as impetuous, and hellbent, in finding the Protectors, as he was; if not even more so. What a sight to see, as they flew on forward; the Forest grew decadent with life, of all kinds of different greenery; of plants, on the Forest’s floor, and more, hanging from the trees, almost jungle like now. They kept going, and as they came upon, and up, and over, a giant rotten fallen tree, the sound of the waterfall, grew louder, and a hopeful light, broke through the deepness of mists.

Adrian and Elvia stopped! There it was, a majestic waterfall, flowing over the edge of a cliff; off to the right of their viewing. And below them, was revealed, just how and what, a deep abyss of mist, had been there under the earth beyond. They looked down in awe, and said nothing. It had no end! The water poured over the falls, so aggressively, it seemed to scream, go back... stay away! But Adrian stared at the falls, and declared. “I bet there is something hidden behind the waterfall...” Adrian flew off, and Elvia followed with haste, as he pressed on through the atmospheric vapor. The falls pounded loudly, forcing on down, as he came to them; and had dominated their ears, preventing them from hearing each other. Elvia couldn’t hear his voice, but she knew, he had said something. Her look of confusion, had told tale of this. Adrian decided not to bother with words, and just motioned his hand for her to come to him. They both flew off, to one side, of the falls, to investigate; looking for a ledge, or a hollowed out area in the rock. But they found nothing. Adrian went to the other side, and Elvia followed, but still they found not a thing; not a crevice, not a nook or a cranny, nothing, and no sign of an entrance. Elvia crossed her arms, fed up in loss of interest, growing agitated by Adrian’s useless actions; wild goose chase.

Something shiny caught her eyes! It sparkled, every now and then, a summoning phenomenon, behind the falls; slightly below, from where they rested in the air. Before she went on, to investigate this further, she looked at Adrian, to see what distracted, him in fertile imaginings; he was preoccupied, in finding, there to be something there, that wasn’t; now pulling at the loose rocks; searching for a stone that would open a secret entrance. The flickering beneath the falls, would tantalize her no more! Elvia flew on down, to see what it was. There was definitely something there, yes, a solid object, reflecting, or giving off, its own source of light; she had not known, but had to discover what it was. She thought about reaching for it through the rushing water, but if she grabbed for it, she would surely be caught in the current and forced down by the abundance of pressure, behind the powerful waterfall.

Elvia stared in temptation, at the shiny stone object that frustrated her so.

Adrian looked around for Elvia, she was gone! Adrian flew around in a panic, looking here, looking there... circling, and, spotting in every direction. Then, he noticed a flicker below, and looked there, and then found her. She daringly, dove through the waterfall, and snatched the shiny object, as the falls took her down with them!

Adrian dove after her, but Elvia fell faster than he could fly; he kept his eyes on her, and continued to dive regardless. The fall seemed to never end, but go on perpetually. There was no time… if he didn’t do something soon to intervene, she would drown, before reaching the pool of water; a bitter end, clad in shadows at the bottom.

Adrian had gathered his thoughts, and decided quickly, and knew very well of what he should do. But, suddenly, as if his prayers had been answered; in a blinding flash, a figure of blue light, dove on out, from behind the waterfall, and rescued Elvia! The blue light, carried her down, and what it had done with her, was unknown; after it had disappeared, in the heavy, smothering clouds, of mist therein; and within the depths below! Adrian chased the light being, but he couldn’t catch up to it, it just moved too fast. The mist grew ridiculously dense, he flew on down, cautiously, and it only grew thicker, making it near impossible for him to see, more than, three feet in front of him!

The mist started to lift, and then, completely cleared away, revealing to insatiable curiosity, to all that surrounded. There were carved steps, right ahead of him, leading down behind the waterfall; a luring path, with a look, and a feel, of ancient mystery of centuries, to broaden the already widest of spectrum, of what could have been through there, countless of times; how this throttled Adrian’s profound and fertile imagination. He followed up the steps, into a cave. As he entered, he took precaution, and scanned the ceiling, and walls, for habitants and danger. Then there, straight on ahead, he noticed a large stone, with foreign blue writings engraved upon it; a beacon, rejuvenating hope, on the contrary of the evident condemning despair, that plagued him insufferably. He came closer, and saw that it was the same type of inscriptions, in front of the temple, that he had found, on their successful, yet, also failing search for Astrid; to retrieve her, and bring her back, to the Elders. As he realized this, he looked around, for a temple entrance within the cave. He flew further into the extension of space, and then, just as he perceived… there it was. The temple was carved out into the rock, just beyond the stone with the blue engravings. The entrance was immense; a perfect rectangle entryway it was. Adrian was afraid to go near it; it was haunting, the chill coming from out of the darkness within. What lied in wait, for him there, he hoped nothing. His repeating thoughts, ‘I must find Elvia,’ rang louder, than the ever growing, pounding of his heart. He felt responsible for her, protective, and he had to go in, and find her. Coming to this conclusion, all his fear dissipated, and he flew on into the temple.

It was damp and cold, like a cellar, and smelled of mildew. Adrian couldn’t see a thing, literally, taking a shot in the dark! Unsure of how to go about, going on any further; He felt for the wall; it was wet, and then, grew a bit slimy to the touch. He took his hands off of it, and decided to take it slow, hovering on through the air. A nippy breeze, blew on by; there was undoubtedly an opening, a way out, on the other side.

Something ghastly brushed passed him, and he turned, and shouted in terror. He was both surprised and fearful. He gathered his bearings, and tried to rationalize what it might have been. He breathed heavily and stopped, then, looked around into the darkness and whispered out loud to himself, in wishful thinking. “It was nothing, just the wind…just the wind!” Adrian grew calm in survival mode, and continued forward. It surprised him, and gave him wild ideas, but it was nothing. A blast of whistling wind blew passed him, and then, he thought for sure, that it had been the same thing that had occurred before; it was just the wind.

A warmth came to the air, and then, a small amount of light, shined from on ahead; but it appeared as abundant, in the pitch-black darkness. Adrian looked down from the illusion of intense light, to there find, mushrooms, grouped around on the cave floor; those that are different from normal mushrooms, well, mushrooms that he knew to be mushrooms anyway; but what was anything anymore. He was delighted in this place, entranced by it, and lost in it... this hypnotic hell, and divine paradise. Now that he’d discovered, there to be no threat to him, in this carved out wonder; his actions were subdued no longer, he advanced onward swiftly. The light brightened, and opened up the beauty; the reflected colors of the crystals, pointing up from the ground, danced on the shiny thin film of minerals, throughout the entirety of the cave. Captivating and beckoning, this light was, at the end of the tunnel. He was rendered as ancient as his surroundings, but redeemed, and promised to be reborn anew, as he neared closer to the source. He came around a corner, and to his surprise, there she was; Elvia, lying on a square polished rock; which was just as enchanting as she was, in her pleasant sleeping state. He dashed over to her with exhilaration. “Elvia!” She awoke, as he scooped her up in his arms, then, she came to her senses. “The being of blue light! It was just like the being of red, when I was with Astrid! Where is it?” Adrian acknowledged, as he released her. “I don’t know! But I’m glad you’re okay!” Oh how this flattered her intuition; there was something, that had to be discovered, about these beings. Elvia stood up and flew off! Adrian followed her, and the light grew stronger; until they came out from the exit end of the cave, and the light settled, and promised to be subtle. They were in a completely different climate; and a younger part of the Forest, by far.

The ground was mostly rich soil, and there wasn’t any moss, or anything now, hanging from the trees. It was a masterful change, a magician’s trick; this place had to have some sort of magic about it; a spell, a charm, put upon it, or something of the sort. Elvia and Adrian looked around, in awestruck wonder, and total silence. Sun streamed down from between the trees, and the trees, were not the immense titans anymore, they were young; but even still, the size of an ordinary full-grown tree. The air had the smell of freshness and newness to it. They continued to look at the scenery, and a sudden, though, peaceful calm, came over them; what a paradise. It was quiet… but then, it wasn’t; off in the distance, the fragile sounds of young Creatures, frolicking and playing, tickled their ears. And as pleasant as all this seemed to be, it hadn’t lasted very long! A loud, high pitched, blaring sound, came out of nowhere, as like a siren, but hadn’t passed; just held steady, its loud obnoxious sound. They covered their ears, and looked around, trying to find the origin, of where it had been coming from. It was supernatural, celestial; the sound of a greatly angered manifestation, of some kind, would have made; if it were to make a sound. A light appeared in front of them; a tiny blue speck of light; but the sound still tormented them. The speck of light transformed, molding into the figure of a human; moving, how a thick liquid would do so. The sharp ringing stopped, and Elvia, took the shield of her hands, off her ears, and glanced at Adrian, who had done the same. They stared at the figure, for an unknown length of time. Everything stood still, as it would seem and, time, moved in slow motion. Then, the figure spoke! “You seek the three remaining Protectors, isn’t that right Elvia… and Adrian...?” Elvia was too shocked to answer. She just stared at the mindreading figure, with her mouth dropped open. There was a short silence, then, Adrian moved a little nearer to the blue being. “Yes, we are… that’s right! But how do you know about us?” The figure answered him, with an almost laugh, but collected the seriousness of the topic, by zeroing in upon it. “I know a lot about you both! I know that you came to the Forest as a human, and I know, that you’re concerned about the wellbeing, and the whereabouts of your brother; your brother Jack.” Adrian looked at the being, in surprise and anticipation! “Yes! Is he alive… is he alright? Do you know where he is?”

“Of course I know where he is… and he is alive… for now… for he is on his way, into certain disaster and destruction!”

Elvia dove into the conversation, quickly spitting, her words out. “Is it true, that the destroyer of the Tree of Beginning, must die, and their blood must be spilled, on the spot, where the Tree stood, before, to bring it back? Is there another way…?”

“Oh… you speak of Astrid the Trance Witch… the one which found the Forest, eight-hundred years ago! Her blood must be spilled, and, she must give up her life.... Though not if the Tree of Ending is destroyed, as well... but then, we will no longer go on existing…and the Forest, won’t survive either.” Elvia turned her head down, and away, drifting in this warped sense of time that moved so slow. “Where are the Three Protectors?”

The being spread out his arm, and his light brightened. “I am the Protector with the force of Water!” Elvia’s eyes grew wide, as she developed such an obsessive stare at the Protector. She hesitated for a moment, then, she flew to the ground, crouched low in a kneel, and bowed to him. Adrian took this as something of great significance; he flew to the ground, and bowed to the being as well. The Protector was indifferent, and humbled himself. “Arise. Do not bow to me. Bow to our Creator… the divine spirit, for the greatness of our Creator should be praised… and praised greatly.” Elvia and Adrian got up upon their feet, and then, flew back up into the air, within the welcoming proximity of the Protector. Adrian was stunned by this being. “Where are the other Protectors?”

The Protector said nothing. He stretched his hand out to the right, then, pointed it in the direction from behind him; and then, stood still. For a moment, nothing happened. Everything moved so slowly anyway, was this something that occurred only when near the Protectors... it was unknown. A blur of red and a blur of white, came zooming toward the Protector, from both of the directions, of which he pointed. The blurred lights, then, stopped next to him, quite gracefully, for how fast they moved. They collected in Elvia’s and Adrian’s view, also in the form of a human.

Elvia and Adrian, fluttered back a little ways, as they came up, uncommonly fast, but were stoic, and poised, and steady; monoliths of strength. “Where is my brother?”

The Protector with the force of Water, took the initiative. “He is far away from here… traveling to the Tree of Ending, to destroy it; journeying with the once Cloud Clan Queen, Lithia, and the Mydite Warrior, Cristoph; two of your other friends are with them…Angelus and Helen.” It was remarkable. Before them, were these beings, with unknown powers. Adrian knew what he had to ask, of all the Protectors now. “Will you help us find them, and save them from this Disaster you speak of…? I am asking this of all of you; help me…?” The Protectors, all replied at the same instant, like a choir of celestial beings, angels, singing a beautiful liturgy. “We will. Let us go with haste, time is running out!”

Time sped back up, and things moved normally; naturally, again. The three beings of light, passed right through Elvia and Adrian like ghosts, and then, flew off! They beckoned Elvia and Adrian to come, and they followed, in formation. A still atmosphere, was a short lived thing, amidst the lurking chaos, that would soon have them surrounded. Adrian was watchful for this, as the inimitable loveliness of the ambience, changed, as he predicted. Steadfast, to keep up, Adrian asked, as they all made their way onward and upward. “What kind of disaster awaits for my brother and the others?” The Protector, force of Water, was quick to answer. “Bougsmeith! The fallen Protector, and the most powerful of us all! He is the Protector that rules over the force of Earth!”

Elvia quietly listened to them, as they spoke of this, and contemplated her logged away memories of unanswered mysteries, that were now unveiled to her. The being of red light, was a Protector; what else could she learn from these celestial beings. Adrian thought for a moment, then asked. “The Protector with the force of Earth has a name… you three must have names… what are they?” The Protector with the force of Water replied, striking distinguished novelty information, that brought enlightenment to Adrian and, well… it was of the same affect to Elvia as well. “You’re right! My name is Soscorek!”

The Protector with the force of Air, spoke next, bringing chills to them indefinitely, by his powerful voice. “My name is Villicus!” The Protector with the force of Fire, said brightly, right after. “And my name is Zulmpreedor!” Then came the choir effect again, where they all spoke at the same time, together in unison. “We are the three Protectors.” Could they read each other’s minds... did they hear each other’s thoughts? Did they have a supernatural sense of the other... they must be able to communicate telepathically; that was apparent, but the mystery as to how? Yes, it was a tantalizing mystery, so was everything; one greatly concealed secret, hidden, and lodged away forever; in many other secrets, buried in a deep abyss of secrets. Clandestine and lost somewhere far away, left to rot, in a great deal of time, legend and myth. And it all started at the very beginning; an odyssey of the worlds; the suns, the moons, the stars; and of their existence.

That was where they were. Elvia, Adrian, and the three Protectors, continued on through the Forest, and it gradually grew darker and bleak; overgrown with moss, vines, and other plants, against the scent, of ultimate age and decay, of putrefied nature.

A crisping bog arose, scented with the undeniable aroma of fresh blood, and portrayed, so suddenly, there to be a giant phantom shadow moving from within. Yes like a shark in the water, it was a shadow in the fog. Then, it came dashing through the air, right at them. There hadn’t been enough time, for Adrian and Elvia, to escape this danger, to get to safety! Not enough time at all; but they could watch, in the short instance of the moment, and know their fate as, the Creature came plowing into them!

The beings would not have this. Soscorek, Villicus, and Zulmpreedor, sped up in front of Adrian and Elvia, and fearsomely grabbed hold of the Creature, before it had them, and threw it far off into the Forest, without even having to stop! They continued, flying, traveling on their way, as if the Creature was nothing more, than a small ineffective insect, that had diverted their path; a pest that needed to be squished. The incident was no longer than a flash before Elvia’s and Adrian’s eyes. Their lives had been saved, in a split second, roller-coaster ride of a graphic and barbaric way to go. They were alive. Elvia and Adrian, both looked at the three Protectors with wonder, and overwhelming astonishment. The three, then, fell back to the pace of Adrian and Elvia, and Elvia was overcome, and bowled over. “You saved our lives!” Zulmpreedor, the Protector with the force of fire, began to speak to the other Protectors. “Should we go on, without our power stones?” Villicus added. “Soscorek, it isn’t safe to leave them in the temples… especially now!”

Adrian and Elvia, were confused, by this subject of the Protectors’; this dialogue of theirs. They looked at each other, then, looked at the Protectors, and Adrian asked. “What are you three talking about? What are your power stones, and why isn’t it safe to leave them in the temples?” Soscorek, positioned in the middle of the three, answered thoroughly. “Our power stones, contain the powers of each of us! The force of Fire, the force of Air and the force of Water! And if someone gets ahold of any one of these Stones, they would then, possess the power of that Protector!” After he had finished answering Adrian’s question, Soscorek said, to the other two Protectors. “Yes! It would be foolish to leave them unguarded in the temples! We should go back for them… but time is running out to stop Cristoph and Lithia from destroying the Tree of Ending! We will have to take that risk, and save Jack, Angelus and Helen, from certain death; and stop Lithia and Cristoph!”

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