Tree of life
The valleys leading towards the plain with the odd cliff were steep and winding and also very narrow at places and the transition from mountains to plain sudden. The plain surrounding the cliff was filled with beasts now and the dark one was frustrated that he couldn’t just send them out to the other areas of this world to wreack havoc upon it, he just wasn’t strong enough for that and it made him utterly frustrated. If he could have accomplished this on his own, oh the glory and the power he would have gained and the respect, not in the least the respect. He was used to being treated like someone who was inferior and lowly and he hated it. His race knew that art to a T, hatred was something which had been bred into them from the very beginning and he had become a master of it. Now he was working with the expansion of the gate and it was very demanding. His focus was upon that, not the surroundings. The monster he had brought through already had to fend for themselves until everything was ready and the fact that they were that many didn’t really bother him.
Now huge packs did roam around, hungry and angry and ready to fight and this plain was very naked and barren. There wasn’t much which grew there and it had never held any wildlife to speak off due to that fact so the monsters were not very happy at all. Huge groups did move towards the mountains by sheer instinct, they were looking for food and when they heard a slight rumbling sound none of them did react at all. They didn’t have the intelligence to perceive the danger, nor were they smart enough to truly be afraid of anything. The dam had contained a whole lake, very long and very deep and as the valleys below it did split into several wider ones the water did take different routes. Thus the water did arrive at different times and the effect was horrifying. A black wall of liquid did burst from one of the valley openings, it was the valley which did lead directly up to where the dam had been and the water had a very straight path to take. The wave was at least twenty meters tall as it reached the plain, and it was just as much mud as water, mixed with rocks and dead trees. Its speed was tremendous, the front was pushed forth by all the water behind it and the first monsters which saw it didn’t realize what it was. There was no concept of such a thing in their tiny brains. Instead they just stood there, staring at the strange dark mass until it was too late. When their instincts did kick inn the wave was already within a mile from them and even if they tried to run it was useless.
Then the other valleys did spew forth water too, the waves did meet and congregate and formed a horrible pattern of maelstroms which did grind anything into shreds. The monsters didn’t stand a chance, they were huge and tough and made to endure serious injuries but the force of the water and debris mixed with the fact that they couldn’t breathe under water did spell doom. The waves did gush out over the flat plain and since there wasn’t a single hill or as much as a small valley there nothing did slow it down. The water found only a smooth surface and did slide along with the speed of a swift gazelle.
The dark one was busy with his work when he heard a strange sound, it was a distant woosh and he couldn’t indentify it. The palace from which he did work had no windows and he turned from the table he was floating by and felt the earth shake underneath his form. An earthquake? That was strange? He had been trying to give the crystals which did control the gate extra power to increase the speed of which it did open but he hadn’t been able to do much of a difference at all and his mood was not good. He made a gesture and a part of the wall became transparent.
He froze, the plain was turning black, something did rush forth towards him and his first instinct was to flee. He was still having memories of a time when they had possessed bodies all the time and his instincts were still there, buried deep within his very soul. He couldn’t leave the gate, it would become unstable and he was torn between his duty and his sense of self preservation. It was water, a horrible flood and the monsters he had managed to bring through were being thrown around as in a swirling river and it didn’t appear that any of them did manage to get away for where could they go? There was no place which was safe now and he put up a wall of defensive energy around the palace, the gate and the cliff. The dark wave of water and debris did stop abruptly and made the entire crystal building sway but it didn’t crumble and he could only watch in disbelief as the water did swipe all over the plain. In fact it did reach the far north of the plain and also the western part. The water did loose much of its speed and power on the way but the wave was still several meters tall and it did move rather fast.
The plain was covered with a several feet thick layer of mud, rocks and dead beasts and the dark one was stunned. No, he was frozen. This couldn’t be happening, it wasn’t possible?! How could this happen to him! The great ones would blame him for this, not that they didn’t have enough monsters to replace the ones who had died but the time it did take to bring them through? The great ones among them didn’t like delays at all and he felt small and weak for a few seconds. The idea of fleeing did touch his mind briefly, he could try to find some dimension where he could hide for some ages? No, they would find him, and then the punishment would be horrible indeed. He had to minimize the damage and make sure that this didn’t slow them down.
The water did calm down and the plain was turned into a bog now, the only monsters which had survived were the ones who had reached the outskirts of the mountains and had gone high enough to escape the flood. He had only a mere percent of his original army left and it as just dreadful. He had no idea of what to do and spun around himself for a while, trying to figure out how to bring the gate into a more efficient mode. The gates were holes through time and space and their creation as well as their continuing function was horribly power consuming. Was there a way he could make the crystals more efficient. He did stare at the crystal slab into which the crystal were embedded. Could he…?
He would have swallowed hard if he had been in a body there and then, there was one thing he could do but if it went wrong… Was he brave enough? Could he control it? He gathered his focus and laid his hands on the crystals, they were warm to the touch and very pretty but he didn’t see the beauty in them. He saw a machinery made to keep the gate open and bringing the entire control over had been a horrible business since it didn’t go well with the energy of this world. But he had done it and he was sure he could manage this challenge just fine. He started to move the crystals into a new pattern. Until now they had drawn power from this realm but if he did pull energy also through the very gate itself? It was of course a bit counter productive since he was to bring their home power, not take it from them but it was a small sacrifice and soon it wouldn’t be needed so why not really. It would speed things up, the great ones did appreciate some initiative.
The light surrounding the very gate itself did change, it had been glowing in an odd orange tone of red and now it became slightly green, it didn’t look good but he didn’t care. It wasn’t about how the gate did look, it was about how it did work. The gate did look like a hole in the air, a dark gaping opening which did glow slightly and it was spinning. The spin did increase, and the opening seemed to widen a wee bit. He would have jumped for joy if he had been flesh there and then, it did work. They would forgive the loss of some monsters wouldn’t they? It wasn’t as if they were valuable and there were plenty back in the home world. He did allow the gate to stabilize itself and then he removed the window, he didn’t need to see the misery the wave had left behind. Now he had to focus on bringing through as many new horrors as possible, he knew that some of his brethren who were tasked with creating these things were very creative indeed. They would love to show the great ones how efficient their creations were, yes, he would gain support from those of course. Forget about this tiny setback, it would be alright and he would achieve the influence he did deserve. They would see how clever he was and his fate would change for sure.
Resh’kha and the others had searched through the city, there were no enemies left there which they did see and Kulkar did know where to look for medical supplies. The rooms which were this city’s equivalent to a hospital was close to the great air shafts which made the very centre of the city and Kulkar found the closets and storages fast. They were rather well stacked, the city had to have been abandoned or something for nothing had been removed. Most of it was very old and useless but some of the things they did find weren’t that ruined at all. Floth’bha was very weak and the gash in her abdomen was indeed nasty, deep and torn and just ugly looking and Kulkar did find some thread and a needle and started sewing the wound. Floth’bha didn’t make a sound and Resh’kha did cringe, it didn’t look very good at all. Dharan did check the rooms for other things they could use and came back with a sack full of stuff. Geir did frown. “Please tell me there is something edible here?”
Dharan did grunt. “I doubt it, a lot! If there is food left behind it is way too old to be eaten. No, we have to leave the city, this place may be safe now but we cannot live here”
Resh’kha nodded. “ Indeed, I have got to get to that cliff, I know I am needed there. The chosen one must close the gate and I have to make sure that she doesn’t fail.”
Floth’bha did look a bit better, she managed to sit up. “Resh’kha is right, that is our goal”
Resh’kha did place a hand on her shoulder. “I don’t think you ought to go sister, it isn’t wise. You are wounded after all”
Floth’bha did close her eyes, her face was a bit drawn. “You are right my friend, I cannot follow you to the cliff. I am too weak. But I can move out of here on my own at least”
Kulkar turned to Resh’kha again and his face was very serious. “I will go with you Resh’kha. Geir can protect Floth’bha and we can find a good place where they can stay until this is over. It is only fair that the dwarves do their part of this job.”
Dharan did grunt. “I can help watch Floth’bha too, she did fight well and it would be an honour to watch her until you return”
Floth’bha did look moved. “I…You are willing to stay behind just to make sure I am okay?”
Dharan just shrugged and looked a bit smug. “Of course, besides, if Resh’kha is to reach that cliff I bet two is less visible than three”
Resh’kha felt very troubled, she didn’t want to leave Floth’bha behind, she had come to realize that the half orc was becoming way more than a dear friend and the idea of maybe losing her was terrible. But if they found a safe spot where she could heal until things were alright again? “Then be it, I and Kulkar will go to the cliff, and face whatever deviltry there is out there”
Kulkar had already proved that he was brave, terribly so. Dwarves are often seen as rather reserved and quiet creatures but he did prove that their blood did run hot when it needed to. “Then let’s get out of here and find something edible and a place to stay. Then we will go to face destiny, whatever it may be”
Resh’kha did help Floth’bha and they did make their way out of the dwarven stronghold the same way they entered. The valleys which did lead north from the dam were scoured clean but there were higher ones and Kulkar did lead them into one of those. It had some forest and a small lake and it was rather idyllic. After a few hours he did find a small cave and there was plenty of dry wood too. Dharan and Geir did take off and managed to shot a sort of sheep and the dwarf did find some bulbs in the earth which were edible. Mixed with meat and some herbs Dharan had nicked from the infirmary of the city they managed to make a good meal. Floth’bha did sit down with a groan, the wound had been very long and Resh’kha was afraid it would get infected. The filthy claws which had caused the injury weren’t exactly ideal for preventing infection and since Floth’bha was only half orc she wasn’t as immune to infection as a full orc. Normal orcs hardly ever got that sort of infections Resh’kha did fear, their wounds would close up without problems but she did know that Floth’bha never would admit to being in pain. She was a tough one and Resh’kha had only fondness for the other female. Floth’bha did eat with good appetite and Kulkar did put some herbs in a cup of water and washed the wound with them.
The two wolves were still there, waiting for them to leave and Resh’kha felt that the deity she carried was starting to make itself known again. She could understand the need for vengeance, heck, to an orc that was second nature of somebody did insult you or your clan but she didn’t want to trust Gholrae, the creature had been of a devious nature and the orc didn’t like to take chances. She wouldn’t obey Gholrae blindly, that was for darn sure. The day was at its end and they couldn’t leave in the dark so they had to wait for the morning and Resh’kha did lay down next to Floth’bha and listened to her breathing. She was afraid of putting her feelings into words, she didn’t know how to but she hoped that she would get the chance to open her heart later on, when and if they returned. The next morning she and Kulkar did prepare to get going, the dwarf had to ride the wolf Floth’bha had ridden previously as his pony wouldn’t be able to keep up and the dwarf did look a bit nervous but the animal did accept him. Resh’kha did hug Floth’bha and crossed her fingers, the wound didn’t seem to have gotten infected but such things could change fast and Dharan did swear to keep an eye on it. Resh’kha was suspecting that Floth’bha was weaker than she was showing them, she was proud and strong and didn’t want to cause concern among the others and Resh’kha did hug her before they did ride off, still not able to be honest about her feelings.
The two wolves did run very fast down the valleys, everywhere the ground was scoured clean by the rushing water and the air was raw and damp. Here and there the very bedrock seemed to have been torn open as if by a huge can opener and rocks and debris were left in piles here and there. But that was nothing compared with the plains, as soon as they saw the now black surface ahead of them they knew that the monsters were gone. Nothing could have survived this and Resh’kha just prayed that they would be able to get to the cliff without sinking inn.
Kulkar stared at the cliff and his face was stern, he did spit and patted his axe. “I will make sure that we win sister orc, if it is the last thing that I do”
Resh’kha did grin at the dwarf. “I know you will”
The huge cat did lead them down towards the plain again and Wenja remembered that there had been mentions of a sacred circle. Now there weren that many monsters around since this area was very steep and the valleys more like the steps of a stair than real valleys. It did cause problems here and there but they did manage to move forth without any mishaps. Wenja could feel that something was happening out there, a sort of restless energy which made her wonder and she knew that Resh’kha and her group was out there somewhere too. She hoped that they were okay. She had discovered something odd now, something she hadn’t noticed before. Both Rhawan and Ahravan were listening more and more to her, and so were the others too. She was suddenly being respected in a whole new way and it was a peculiar sensation. It wasn’t that they hadn’t truly respected her before but now they did bow to her will without even questioning it and she felt that it was strange for she had never been used to that sort of responsibility before. Ahravan would just laugh and shrug it off and claim that she after all was the Eth’ir and that they owed it to her. After all, she was being lead by the goddess now and she had proved her courage. They did travel down a valley with a small river in it and then they saw what was meant by a sacred circle. It was indeed a circle, made from stones and it was placed at the bottom of a small bowl like indentation in the earth. It did look almost like the pot holes you can find in rivers where rocks have been spun around and gnawed into the bedrock. The circle was made from seven huge stones and they were all very pale and identical. The place was eerie and Wenja felt that the hairs did rise along her neck. “What is that?”
Her voice was hoarse and Ahravan did frown. “I have no idea.”
Rhawan shrugged. “Neither do I my dear. I have never seen a site like that.”
The cat did saunter over to the circle and sat down, it did look almost smug. Wenja was helped down by Ahravan and she sighed. “I was to awaken the relic here, but I have no idea of how or what is meant by it. Awaken it? It is a glass jar damn it”
Ahravan did walk over to the first stone, it was so smooth it felt like touching well made glass and the ground between the stones was also very smooth, as if it had been polished. He did make a small yip. “Look here, look at the ground!”
They all gathered and Wenja did stare at the crystalline surface, it was dusty and odd but there seemed to be a sort of pattern in it, probably carefully carved into the stone.
Ayhrandur did run to get some water and they did throw some water skins over the surface and it became very shiny indeed. Like the floors of some palace. There was indeed a pattern there and now that they did wash off the dust it started to glow slightly. It was gorgeous and intricate and yet none of them had any idea of what it did mean. But there was a naked spot in the middle, very small and just the right size to place the glass jar. The group did wander about, staring at the pattern, trying to come up with an explanation to what this meant and what they were supposed to do. The stones stood there like silent sentinels and Gochil did go over and started washing the stones too with a saddle blanket, just to see if there were inscriptions there. The first two rocks were naked, nothing there except from a completely smooth surface. Then on number three he did cry out. “Here, there is something here”
They ran over and Ahravan did stare at a symbol he in fact did recognize. “It is the tree of life, I have seen it before. The shamans use it, to show that all life is one”
Darush was already eagerly wiping off the next rock and there were inscriptions also on that one. This symbol was not as easy to recognize but Khirhien did identify it as a symbol which did mean rebirth and growth. The next stone had a symbol which meant a union of some sort and then there was the two last stones. Wenja did wipe off the surface of the next in line, it was a symbol Rhawan did know, it did mean a spiritual awakening but it could also mean healing of the body through spiritual means. The last symbol was one of protection and they all stood there looking at each other, what did this truly mean?
Wenja did walk over to the naked spot in the middle and placed the glass jar in it, nothing happened but the jar seemed to glow a wee bit, as if it did agree on the position. Rhawan did scratch his head. “Something is missing”
Ahravan nodded and took a stroll around it, staring at the stones. “You are right, something is most definitely missing. Let us summarize what we do know about this thing, it is supposed to close the gate?”
Wenja nodded. “Yes, I am to toss it inn.”
Ahravan tried to think logically. “I bet the gate is powerful magic, and powerful magic always dances on a razors edge between success and failure. But it has to be stabile enough to last for a long time, I can hardly imagine that a mere glass jar will be enough to throw it off balance enough for it to be ruined.”
Rhawan grunted and Khirhien did squint. “You are right, it wont do anything as it is now. It came from another world you say?”
Wenja nodded. “Yes, probably one where the people had been wiped out by the monsters”
The silvery haired eternal did nod and his eyes were distant. “They would want to rid the world of this menace indeed. There has to be more to the relic then. It has to contain something special perhaps?”
The jar was seemingly empty but Gochil did make a small sound. “I think I may have an idea”
Everybody stared at the young human, he did blush like a beet. “I mean, the monsters are deadly, they ruin everything right? And I bet their masters are the same, only after causing destruction”
Ahravan did nod. “That makes sense yes, do continue”
The man did gesture towards the pattern in the floor. “It is completely symmetrical, can’t you see that? Perfect! And the symbols of the stones, it all adds up to one thing…”
Wenja did interrupt, her voice very small. “Life, we must fill it with life, but how?”
They looked at each other, eyes a bit large. “What is the life force then, blood?”
The idea of sacrificing blood made them all wince. Darush did let his hand slide along the rock nearest to him, just to move and the wet cloth did remove more dust and filth. There was a symbol there too, almost hidden closer to the ground than the other ones. Almost on floor level as a matter of fact and Ahravan saw it and went red in the face. So did the others too except Wenja who didn’t understand. “What?”
Rhawan did bite his lower lips, his eyes were filled with mirth and yet very serious. “What creates life Wenja mine?”
She did frown. “What creates life….OH! Oh my, I see”
The symbol was obviously placed there on purpose and Rhawan did snicker. “We do still use that one at times, we paint it on doors when visitors are to knock instead of just walking straight into a hut.”
Wenja felt warm all over. “So it basically means that somebody is…well, busy?”
Ahravan nodded, still looking embarrassed. “Indeed it does.”
Wenja stared at the two of them and her face felt a bit stiff. “Uh, does that mean that…hmmm we are to….”
Rhawan was looking at the skies and the others were trying not to look at anyone at all. “Uh yes, I do think that this is the idea. The energy of the act of making love, it is pure Wenja, it is life and it is something I bet the enemy have no concept of, love”
She blinked and felt silly, but she somehow knew that they were right. The jar had to be filled with life, with defiance of the destruction the darkness brought and she realized why she was to be the one to awaken the relic. She was to be in control and it would be through her that the jar was turned into a weapon against the dark forces. She gathered her senses, calmed herself down, tried to be in control of herself but it wasn’t easy at all. “Right. We are to…do it, here and now, in the circle. So how do we proceeed?”
Ahravan was blushing still, Rhawan did look very embarrassed and it was Khirhien who still was calm enough to think well. “I say we take the horses to the other side of this valley and make camp there. We will be out of sight then, and you can…ah…have fun in peace”
Ayhrandur giggled. “Yes, it isn’t as if we haven’t heard you before.”
Wenja swallowed hard and stared at her two husbands, both did look a bit more serious now and she took a deep breath. “Good, that is…great. Do that”
Khirhien and the others did leave the bowl shaped pit and Wenja took a deep breath. “I have a feeling of knowing how this is to be done, if it is allright with you?”
Ahravan did stare down at her, his eyes were gentle as always and she knew that he would accept anything she did suggest. In this she was the person in charge, it had to be that way.”The goddess is leading you isn’t she?”
Wenja did nod, she took a deep breath. “She is I think, I can feel what she wants me to do. And I know there is no other way. We are being lead Ahravan, and all we can do is follow, or else everything will be in vain. Are you ready to submit to my will?”
Ahravan did smile, it was endless trust in his eyes and Rhawan did nod slowly, he did seem to be in awe of the moment and Wenja did close her eyes and felt that this circle was more than just a monument. It had some sort of importance beyond its apparent beauty. “You are to be passive now, until I say otherwise. This is a ceremony to honour the goddess and the life of this realm, you have to accept being used”
Both males did nod and Wenja saw that the others were out of sight now. She felt her heart hammering, it was a solemn moment and she had never had this feeling of reverence before. This spot was sacred, way more than the cliff and it was old, much older. She could feel that the circle was eternal, a place which did exist in all worlds and realms and they were all interconnected and she realized what the goddess wanted to do. It was madness and yet not, perhaps it was the only way. She saw that the rocks around them started to look almost transparent and they did shine, a soft white light. A sort of dome did form around them so the bowl shaped pit became part of an orb and she raised her hands to the skies and everything went quiet. They didn’t hear anything, not even the sound of the river which wasn’t that far away. This was a world in its own now and the pattern on the floor did seem to pulse and glow, shifting and changing. “I am the tool, I am the chosen, I am the bringer of light. Let me be thy hand, let me be thy heart, let me hear thy song”
Wenja had no idea of where the words came from but she was part of something now, something very ancient and strong, something carried from mother to daughter since the beginning of time and she was no longer a poor shepherd’s daughter but the culimination of millennia of hope and prayers. She turned to Ahravan and placed her hand over his heart, her eyes did shine. “You are the earth which strengthens the root and from which it draws its life”
She turned to Rhawan and touched him the same way. “You are the rain, bringing relief to those who thirst and let the roots drink deep.”
She raised her hands again. “I am the seed, from which the tree of life start. It is so, may the great mother bless us all”
She saw that the outside world was invisible now, hidden by the glowing wall and she didn’t really care. She started to undress the two males, slowly and with gentle touches and they allowed her to do it, as if they were mere dolls. When they both were naked she removed her own clothes and the mark at the back of her neck did glow intensely and now they did see that it was the same pattern as the one on the floor of the circle. It was all connected and she felt how the life of this realm did flow into her, turning her into an incarnation of the goddess. She had never been more beautiful and she had never been more powerful, more at peace. This was right, this was as it should be and she wasn’t afraid at all.
Ahravan suddenly remembered the dream he had had, now Wenja was completely alike the woman in his dream, the green of her eyes had gotten some silvery grey in it too, and she was sheer power. He knew what she had meant, the love of one, the power of the pure spirit which was Wenja, ready to give her all to those she did love. The blood of two, the blood he and Rhawan had shed to save her by the sacred well. The power of three, the power within their union, three bonded together with unbreakable bonds of love and trust. The promise of four, the promise represented by her unborn child, the one who would turn three into four and create a new future for them all. This was a defining moment, the moment of destiny and truth and he did accept it humbly and with an open heart. He did know her now, and knew that she was chosen well, that the goddess had picked her brave caring soul among countless others and known that Wenja was the right one for him and Rhawan, and that she was brave enough to do what she had to do to save her future.
She started to gently caress Rhawan and Ahravan, slowly sliding around them both, following a rhythm dictated by the very earth itself. It was a sensual dance, meant to entice and tease and arouse and she did encourage them to touch her back. There was no hurry, time didn’t excist within this orb of light and soon everything was forgotten except the need to fullfill what life asked of them. Bodies did writhe in the ecstacy of touch and who’s touch it was didn’t matter at all. It was a dance of flesh and desire and love and absolute trust and Wenja did lead them, her intuition the tool which did show them the path to take. It had never been like this before, Wenja had enjoyed their love making immensely but this was on another level, it was spiritual as much as physical and they truly became as one. She didn’t really know where she ended and they started and it was divine. She gave them pleasure in every manner she could and they did repay that in full, she was aglow with the joy of being alive and each time one of them did climax the rocks around them did glow brighter and the hum from the earth itself became stronger. Ahravan and Rhawan had shared this many times but it was so much more now, their bonding went deeper than ever and they all knew that this meant that they never would feel the need for a new partner. They were three but one and it was a connection stronger than most other. The pleasure of the flesh became insignificant compared with the pleasure of knowing that they were safe with each other, that nothing now could make them question the feelings they did share or the loyalty of their bond mates. The earth drank from the love they did radiate and she did distill it and sent it back, multiplied and purified, it went back and forth, each time stronger, each time more powerful and more true until they too did glow like the circle itself.
It was building up to something incredible, something beyond this world and she was sure she saw glowing figures within the now almost invisible rocks, dancing and sliding around, sharing her joy. It was the spirits of the land and she did remember having drawn them to her and made them heal Ahravan and she was grateful to them. When the end finally came it was so strong it made them almost pass out, Wenja did see that the top of the stones did burst into beams of light which did congregate at the centre of the circle and she placed the jar there with a howl of ecstacy. It was done, it was fulfilled. The light from the rocks seemed to fill the jar and it burst into light, an intense light which didn’t burn their eyes oddly enough. The pattern of the floor did change, and so did the pattern at the back of her neck. Now it was more geometrical and way larger than before, covering the top of her back and it did glow brightly. The light from the pattern did fly forwards and entered the jar too and there was a booming sound and the dome did disappear.
The rocks were as they had been, they felt the cool wind and heard the river and the others were standing on top of the pit, staring and looking awe struck. Wenja kissed Ahravan and Rhawan, both were exhausted and so was she, it had taken so much out of them and she had to grin. The things they had done… But she felt the glowing spark which was the spirit of her unborn child within and knew that her daughter from now on would be something different, something new. The power of the circle had been destilled through that child and it told Wenja that her daughter would be unlike any other living being. It was a humbling thought and yet she couldn’t help but worry. But the goddess was with her, it would be alright, she just knew it would.
Ahravan did pant and managed to get up on his knees, his body slick with sweat and Rhawan was just laying there, looking a bit sheepish. “I have never been knocked out by love making before, pardon me Wenja but I am sure you could have offed us both there”
She did giggle and grasped the jar, it was warm to the touch and she smiled. Knowing that they now had the weapon they needed to destroy the enemy.
The dark one had been working like mad to bring through new scores of monsters and he had also managed to send some mental messages to his brethren back in their own dimension. They had brought forth the worst beasts they had managed to create and were very eager to show off their creations. He hadn’t asked the great ones for permission but he was sure that it would be alright, after all, the goal was all that mattered. The gate was sucking power from both dimensions and it did still expand and he was convinced that this would continue. The energy he felt from the cliff was annoying, he wished so badly that he could tap into it and use it. It would be enough to open the gate like never before, to let the entire army through at once. He wished that he knew what this energy was and why it was there, but he didn’t have the answers and couldn’t waste time trying to find out. He was about to revel in the arrival of a huge group of absolutely terrifying beasts when he became aware of something new, a sort of sickening sensation of having forgotten something very important. There was something there, something which did feel like a stinging blade through his very being and he reared back and yelled. It was pain, real pain, real agony and the gate did move, tossing from side to side as if blown by a strong wind. The connection between the worlds was rather long and it did take time to get the creatures through and he hadn’t expected to meet any problems now. There was a shriek heard, not in the physical sense but a mental one, from those on the other side. He did whimper, what was happening?
The gate did shrink a lot, the energy it had been drinking from this realm’s life force had been cut off, as if by a knife. Now only energy from his home dimension did feed it and it wasn’t that stabile, not as strong. The gate would collapse and he felt it, the wrath of the great ones. They would punish him, they would tear his soul into shreds and thrown them into the endless void between dimensions. He had to get the energy back and now! But the earth underneath him felt dead, barren. There was no life in it, or it didn’t allow him to feel it and he roared with rage. The palace was shivering and the blue colour did shift to nightblack for a few seconds. He did hear them calling out to him, accusing him of being useless, a failure and a disappointment. “Zhradhuu, you cannot even oversee this? We knew it, you are not to be trusted”
He did panic, there had to be something he could do! There had to be a way to avoid a disaster. The gate was not closing up any more but it was not going to let anything through as it was. It did look like a slightly open gaping anus and he was trembling, spinning around like a blurry cloud of mist. Then it did strike him, the idea! The solution! He didn’t hesitate, he didn’t have time to. He had created the crystal palace easily enough, all by himself by using his own innate energy. He could do that again. He would have been panting if he had been flesh and blood, his energy burning black with stress and despair. He did force rocks out of the ground in a long line from the cliff to the gate and then he did transform them into crystal. That was how they did empty worlds of energy, by transforming matter and consuming the very life of the world. The life of the living was useless, as free energy it could be exploited and thus all the death. He did form a long line of crystal, elevated above the ground on elegant pillars and he did extend the ends, one did dig into the very cliff itself and the other did slip inside of the open gate. The gate did suck energy, and now it did start to drain the energy from the cliff. A little at first, then more and more and the gate did expand once more and started to glow in a bright blue colour. He did yell with glee, he had done it! He was weakened a lot and he didn’t really know why and how it did work but that didn’t matter. He knew that his hide was saved for this time.
He didn’t sit there to rest on his laurels, he had to organize the new arrivals and he was truly not very strong now. He did feel a sting of annoyance and anger, he did need to go physical again and have that drink. He did walk over to the table and sent a mental signal through the palace, not trying to be even a wee bit pleasant. The creature did appear again from its lair, the head lowered and the odd body did sway as it made its way forth. He did kick it to make it speed up and he took shape and the creature did lift the flagon and did pour into the glass again. It did nod its head and he did open his mouth and the creature did pour the silvery liquid into him once more. He did wince and shuddered, it was never anything but unpleasant but needed. He did send it another vicious kick before he went to take a peek at the new arrivals. The creature did put the flagon and the cup back in its place, it didn’t make a sound but the eyes did glow again, a ominous and eerie glow of sheer hatred and if it had been able to make what a human would call a smile it would. The flagon was the only thing it had, its sole responsibility and its only chance. These creatures weren’t really regarded as anything except tools and their obedience was something which was expected and seen as a guaranteed. The creature did hiss, a very low sound which didn’t sound friendly at all. It had the memories of its ancestors, such things were inherited in their race and it knew what had happened to its home world and its brethren. They were patient, one individual didn’t matter at all in the long run but their vengeance would come, one way or the other. Time would be on their side and now it had seen its chance. The liquid within the flagon was in fact one made by these creatures, an excretion from a gland in their body and none of the masters knew it but they could change it by changing their own body chemistry. It wasn’t easy and it would ultimately kill the creature since it would poison itself but it was a price it was ready to pay. The liquid the dark one had ingested this time would have its effect, soon enough.
Resh’kha and Kulkar did make their way across the plain, it wasn’t really easy but they did avoid the most soggy areas and the devastation created by the wave was immense. There were dead beasts everywhere and the smell was overwhelming already. It wasn’t as much decay as it was the fact that they had all emptied their guts when they did die. The mud was thick but the wolves did seem to be able to avoid any dangerous spots and Resh’kha did see that there were monsters arriving at the cliff. There were huge packs spreading yet again and she hissed and wondered how they were to do anything at all. If they were detected they wouldn’t be able to get anywhere near the gate, whatever it was. Resh’kha could feel that Gholrae was impatient but she did also feel that the deity did guide her and she was clearly told to hide and wait. They had to get ready for the right moment and Resh’kha did agree, if they only knew when that was. Kulkar was eager, his eyes shining and his entire body language spoke of excitement. To a dwarf this had to be a sure path to honour and Resh’kha did wish that she was as confident as him.
The darkness did help them a lot, they did manage to get to the cliff and Resh’kha was in awe of it, she had no idea of what it had been but its might was stunning. The monsters were a problem but they were still on the front side of the cliff and they did arrive from the opposite direction. As they crept forth Resh’kha felt the magic from the cliff and it was staggering, like a pain almost and she did fear it almost as much as the horrible sensation the gate gave her. And the presence of what could only be one of the masters, a sickening sensation of almost touching something utterly vile and nasty. They did see the palace now and was shocked by its fragile beauty but the gate filled them with dread and they saw how it spewed forth more and more beasts, in a long stream of dark and twisted bodies. Resh’kha couldn’t even imagine how such beings were possible and yet, there they were and they were alive.
Kulkar did grunt. “See that crystal beam? From the cliff to the gate? I am rather sure that it will be my target”
Resh’kha did nod. “You are right, that will disturb things, a lot. But how are we to get close enough?”
The two wolves did wag their tails and letout some small wuffs, she did stare at them. “You will help us? That is great”
The wolves did sit down and since they were in hiding behind some boulders and debris Resh’kha didn’t expect them to be seen yet. But if they got closer to the palace there was no way they could hide. Kulkar did stare at the glowing bridge like structure and his eyes were narrow. “The goddess will show us when to strike, I know she will. All we can do is wait”
Resh’kha tried to smile back. “Yes, and hope that we won’t be spotted before we are ready for it”
Wenja and the two others did get dresses, she felt a bit sore and stiff and she was sticky in funny places but she did also feel quite amazing. She did kiss both Rhawan and Ahravan and she put the now glowing jar in her pocket and knew that she soon would have to use it. The others did still stare at them and Wenja felt a bit embarrassed, it was no way the others could have heard them but she did realize that they felt the change in her. She had become more than before, like a part of the goddess and it made her a bit self conscious. They had to rest for a while and Wenja did eat with good appetite, she didn’t really feel the fact that she was with child yet but soon she would and she wondered what Sefa would say when she got the good news. She was sure that her friend would be very excited indeed.
When they did leave the valley with the circle behind she knew that she from now on had to do things right. She had to listen to that voice in her head and make sure that she didn’t step out of line, not even once. Their opponent was terrible and clever and also very powerful and not to be underestimated. The huge cat did saunter in front of them and now they saw the cliff clearly. They were in the hills beside it and from a higher elevation they did see the masses which seemed to just appear out of nowhere.
Ahravan did frown. “We have to get you to the gate right? But how are we to get that far? There are monsters everywhere down there “
Rhawan did nod. “The plains looks as if they have been flooded? But the gate is open still”
Wenja did wet her lips, she had to toss the jar into the gate, and she felt that the goddess had a plan. A diversion would be set into motion. The problem was getting close enough, the area was crowded already and the beasts did spread out gradually. Ahravan took a deep breath. “I don’t think we will be able to fight our way to the gate. They are too many and these are larger and probably a lot harder to kill than the ones we are used to”
Ayhrandur had a serious expression on his face. “You are right, we cannot hope to get to the gate unseen. And they are indeed horrible, we are only six warriors, and even with good horses we cannot get that far.”
Ahravan tried to think, was there some sort of tactics they could use? The plain was bare and wet and there was no way they could use fire to deter the beasts. Gochil and Darush did look a bit scared and Khirhien was staring at the beasts down there with obvious hatred. “They have to be destroyed, all of them”
Wenja did nod. “Yes, but the most important thing now is to get the gate closed off”
Ahravan did grunt. “And to do that you have to get to it, safely!”
They stared at each other, it was a dilemma and one to which they found no answer. That was when Rhawan did point at the plain with a gasp. “What in the name of every deity is that?!”
Resh’kha and Kulkar were waiting and it wasn’t exactly what Resh’kha had expected to be doing. Sitting behind some mud covered slimey boulders with a dwarf, waiting for the time to strike. Orcs weren’t like that, they preferred to face the opponent openly and show their strength. Such sneaky stealthy business weren’t their way at all. It made her feel frustrated and a bit depressed too. Then suddenly she felt a sort of jerk and Gholrae stood there next to them, the strange entity did sneer. “I have things to do, the chosen one must not be hindered and I have been given a task. You will know when to strike Resh’kha, listen to the goddess.”
Resh’kha did gape. “Strike what? Gholrae? Wait!”
But the deity was gone as if vanished into thin air and Resh’kha did feel tempted to pull her own hair out in frustration. This didn’t tell her much at all. Kulkar did chuckle. “Oh I bet she has a trick or two up her sleeve. She knows them beasts you know, if they did destroy her home I bet she has some ideas for sure.”
Out on the plains the new hordes of monsters were running forth, spreading as they came through the gate and these were the ultimate creations of the dark ones. Each one a killing machine with very little brain and a very hungry gut and their instincts were blunted to say the least. They were bred and made to be expendable and they only needed to be smart enough to do what was expected of them. Eradicate all resistance so the dark ones could harvest ressources unhindered. It was a tactic the dark ones had started to use ages ago since it meant that they didn’t have to waste precious energy on fighting. Accidents can happen even to one who is superior and they eradicated that risk by letting others fight for them instead. It was a clever strategy for sure.
The beasts were created by mixing different species with the help of magic and then simply copied by the thousands, also with the help of magic. It was power consuming but it did assure that they had all the warriors they needed when they needed them and they had huge reserves too. The creators responsible for these new horrors were proud and very sure of their own skills. They had managed to make living beings which were simply too powerful to be destroyed by ordinary weapons. They felt no fear nor hesitation and had no sense of self preservation. They were perfect. Only that they were not. The dark ones had thrown away the cloak of flesh ages ago, they did no longer need a body with all its restrictions and needs and they did look down upon all beings which still needed to be physical. They had forgotten about how it was to be flesh and blood and thus they had no understanding of how it did work. They had simply forgotten.
The beasts were scurrying around, aggressive and hungry and then something did appear in front of them. Odd beings which seemed to rise from the mud and the beasts did stop and stare, confused. The beings did resemble them a bit but were smaller and more elegant and also brighter in colour. The huge beasts seemed to almost freeze, then they all roared and burst forth, eyes fixed on the smaller beings. The dark ones had never had use for females, they created their slaves without such and thus these males had never even felt the scent of one. The dark ones didn’t remember how it was to feel desire, they could have created genderless slaves but in their haste they didn’t think that far.
The monsters did charge forth, and the females did run too, out over the plains with amazing speed, spreading a trail of scents which did drive the monsters insane. Gholrae did hover above the plain, invisible as her creations did lure the monsters away. It was hard to create this illusion with both sight and smell but needed. If she was to get her vengeance this had to be done and she bared her long teeth and slid back towards the palace. Soon it would be her turn. The two wolves did run ahead of the illusions, spreading the scent which did drive the beasts mad since things made from thin air don’t have smell. It was a trick the Goddess did approve of her and thus Gholrae was allowed to borrow the two huge wolves for her purpose. They all had to cooperate now.
Ahravan did gape, the monsters did chase something slightly smaller like they were crazy and Wenja did grin from ear to ear. “A distraction, I knew it.”
Ahravan took a deep breath. “Right, we have to move now. Are you ready?”
Wenja did nod and she walked over and embraced him. “I am, I am not afraid Ahravan, I can do this. I have to do this. No matter what happens, I love you both”
Rhawan did hug her and kissed her and she gathered her courage. The cat walked over and she smiled. “Take care, keep them off my back and I will do my part of this”
She did climb onto the back of the animal and they started to move, Gochil and Darush weren’t experienced enough to ride out onto the plain to fight so they stayed behind, ready to give aide to anybody who needed it. The monsters were all running away from the gate, towards the creatures on the plain and thus there were few left, mostly weaker and smaller ones which didn’t dare to challenge the larger males. Wenja started to glow as she charged forth on the back of the huge cat, she felt no fear now, only determination. It would end this day, one way or the other.
Resh’kha and Kulkar were staring at the running monsters with huge eyes and Kulkar did snicker. “Clever, very clever. Not removing the balls of them beasts was a mistake. By my sisters sideburns, this is one sight to behold.”
Resh’kha did shiver, the monsters were naked, they carried clubs and other primitive weapons but no clothing nor armour and the fact that there were females near by couldn’t be hidden. It did look obscene and bizarre at the same time and the males were howling with lust the moment they exited the gate. It did obviously take away even the last remnant of obedience for nothing could stop them now. Resh’kha managed to tear her eyes away from the howling hoarde and heard a distant voice. “The crystal beam, now!”
Kulkar heard it too and he did run forth, axe ready. It was dangerous for the dark one would most certainly notice this and come to stop them but what else could they do? Resh’kha did gather her courage and joined the dwarf, clenching her teeth together. Nobody was ever gonna say that a dwarf dared when an orc didn’t.
The thick beam of crystal was beautiful and appearently very solid and Kulkar did see the energy flowing through it. He did frown. “The gate is drawing power from the cliff somehow, we have to stop that, but how? I doubt that our axes can do much to the crystal , I think it is very solid.”
Resh’kha stared at the spot where the crystal beam did join with the cliff. The material was greyish and dark and did resemble very hard bone but she took a deep breath. “It isn’t exactly grantite. We can surely free some chunks of it”
Kulkar grinned and lifted his axe. “Aye lass, let us see how good our blades are”
They ran over and Kulkar started hacking away at the dark substance around the beam and pieces did fly around their ears. They would be able to at least hinder the flow of energy and Resh’kha did put all her strength into the job.
The dark one had been busy calculating the number of monsters they could get through in one day and he discovered the spectacle by chance. He did look up and since he had a transparent window facing the gate he saw how the monsters started running the moment they left it. He frowned and turned around, opened a new window in the direction they were running and he did gape. What in the name of every dark star?! He just stood there for a few seconds, dumbstruck and confused and then he felt it. A new presence, intense and burning and he realized that it was something powerful, something with the potential to destroy it all. He did roar in rage and prepared to burst forth, protect the gate with all he had and he knew that no being of this realm would be able to fight him and live. He would eradicate this being which did bring such a burning light. Then the gate did shudder and the blue beam of energy did seem to fade. He shrieked and saw that two beings were trying to destroy it and he did panic. If there had been more of the dark ones there it would have been no problem but the monsters were seemingly uncontrollable now and he had to save the gate.
He did rush out from the palace, dead set on dealing with this threat and then the flaming energy.
Wenja did ride in the front, the few monsters which still were scurrying around did try to attack but the light from the jar did blind them and Kor’esh and Flint did tear into them. Suddenly the two enormous black wolves did join them too and Ahravan and Rhawan did use their swords with calculated elegance. The scent the wolves had brought out onto the plain was so spread and strong now they didn’t need to carry it further away and thus they could help the chosen one reach the gate. They were large and strong enough to tear into the beasts and a huge black female did also appear out of nowhere and started to fight, her teeth sharp and her will adamant. They would not allow these beasts to stop them, even for a second. Wenja felt the malice ahead, the dark cold from a world which had been destroyed and she saw that the beam of shimmering energy from the cliff did tremble. A distraction indeed, she knew it was Resh’kha and one of the dwarves and she had to smile, a stiff smile. They did put themselves in mortal danger thus. But she remembered the words of the creature which did give her the relic and she took a deep breath and closed her eyes. She did reach out, knowing it was dangerous but it was needed, a part of the goddess plan. She saw the cliff as if it was transparent and deep within the earth, buried for ages she saw the source of the energy the dark one was trying to tap into. She gave out a mental call to Resh’kha.
The female orc had been hacking away at the cliff with all of her determination when she heard the call, she recognized Wenja’s voice and rejoiced in the fact that she was alive but the message did puzzle her. “Throw the heartstone into the cliff, do it now! The dark one is coming!”
Resh’kha didn’t stop to question Wenja at all, she did as she was told. She did pull the heartstone out of its bag and threw it into the openings in the cliff. Since she was strong it did fly well and landed on the sand with a soft thump.
The dark one saw that the largest of the two figures did a swift move but he didn’t see what it was, he just had to stop what they were doing and he did attack with all his fury. Since he wasn’t flesh he couldn’t harm anything physically but he was energy and both were hit with beams of scolding hot power. Kulkar did fly backwards, he did collide with the cliff but he did wear armour and it did take much of the impact. Resh’kha did discover that the black armour made from scales protected her well. She did barely feel anything and she sneered and without really being aware of it she did activate the gifts she had gotten from the old dwarven shaman.
Wenja did see that the heartstone did land right above the source and she forgot about the gate and the fight which was going on. She reached into the stone and connected its energy with that of the cliff and her voice did ring clear and true. (RISE)
The ground did tremble, the heartstone did burst into an intense red colour and it did sink down, to join the one deep within the earth. The enormous amount of power Gholrae had gathered in her circle was suddenly unleashed, and it was strong enough to rip through the earth and free the power hidden deep within the roots of the mountains.
Resh’kha did swear, the dark entity was not something she could fight since it wasn’t physical and she did raise a shield around herself and Kulkar. She screamed to the dwarf. “Keep hacking!”
Kulkar did obey, his axe did resume its work and the dark one did roar and tried to get through the shield, beside himself with rage and fear.
The heartstone had kept one secret, the spirit which Resh’kha had encountered in the tunnels with the dead trolls and now it did awaken and sprang free. It wasn’t a very powerful entity, nor was it very wise. It was old yes, but such spirits are usually not very experienced. Yet it did know what to do and it was of the earth after all. It did force a wall of sand up from the ground and it did hinder the blasts the dark one did throw at Resh’kha and Kulkar. Her shields weren’t strong enough to withstand more than a few such attacks but this did buy them some time.
Wenja and the huge cat did pick up speed, she did clutch the jar in her hand and now the monsters became aware of her and the light. Most were still drawn away by the female scent but some were obedient and formed a wall to protect the gate. Ahravan and Rhawan were next to her, and now Ahravan did see what he truly had been given in Khor’ath. The unicorn did lower its head, the horn did grow again, a bright lance of piercing light and they plowed into the monsters like a sledgehammer. The wolves did rip the monsters into shreds, their speed and power terrible to behold and the energy from the gate was scolding hot and so very strong.Wenja did scream, the energy streaming from the gate was horrible, it was tearing into her very soul and trying to devour it but she felt that the spark which was her daughter’s soul did protect her and the cat didn’t slow down even if the energy did scorch its fur. She kept a steady course, not hesitating, not fearing.
The dark one did feel the energy of yet another entity but couldn’t see it and he got distracted, he tried to raise a crystal dome around the two to crush them and felt that it was hindered somehow, the spirit Resh’kha had shielded within the gem was doing its best to shield her. The ground did start to shake and the cliff did disintegrate, it became dust, a massive heap of dust the sice of a hill and yet that dust didn’t fly out over the plains as it ought to. The alluring females did disappear, the monsters were far from the gate now and the dark one felt how a most unwanted sensation did burst through him. He was shifting to flesh and blood, without wanting to!
The force hidden in the earth did rise, a wave of massive power and will and as it did rise it spread, adding to the power of this realm. Then the soul of that ancient dragon which had fallen from the skies reached the air again and took shape. The dust did raise once more, and its shape was suddenly visible for all to see. Enormous and terrifying and it did lift its head to the stars among which he never would fly again and knew its task. The dust did glow red, the power of the circle and the strange forest did fly freely, adding to the power of the land and around the former cliff a pattern started to glow in a bright green colour, it was the symbol of protection and it did make the very ground shiver. This realm did reject the powers from the other realm, all worlds would do the same now, awakened by Wenja and her mates through the holy circle.
The dark one did scream, he couldn’t control his powers like this, he was vulnerable and he tried to flee back to the palace but didn’t get that far. A tall and horrible figure did block the way. He had never seen Gholrae but he did recognize the species and he was stunned. He didn’t really have time to wonder before she attacked and he felt the first pain in a very long time. He did look down, long claws did tear into his very flesh and cut through bones and tissue, ripping into the beating heart and yanking it out of his chest. His last thought was one of complete confusion.
The great ones had sensed that something was going on and several were on their way through the gate, determined to punish their useless servant. Their sheer energy did expand the gate to let them through but then there was a sort of disturbance and they tried to speed up.
Wenja saw that the tall greyish figure which had killed the dark one did run forth, past her and dove into the gate. The massive dragon did shrink to the size of a man, the energy made it glow with dark light and it too did enter the gate. It was like swimming up a waterfall, getting closer was almost impossible and very painfull and the others couldn’t get this close. Only Wenja had that power now and she did see dark swirling figures within the gate, saw how the odd female was ripping into them and keeping them back so they couldn’t enter this world and Wenja lifted her hand and threw the jar with a scream of sheer defiance. She did throw it and watched it dance through the air, watched it glitter and glow and suddenly it appeared to be sucked inn. The gate did swallow it and instinct told her what to do. She covered her eyes with her arm and the cat did crouch down. The crystal beam did shatter like thin glass and Resh’kha and Kulkar were tossed to the side in a rain of splinters and smoke. The gate did swell, then it did shrink, suddenly and absolutely, from a broad open hole in the air into a pinprick and then with a loud boof and a bright flash of light it was gone. A wave of energy shot over the plain, almost knocking them all over, making the very air shiver and glow and a scent of something burned did sting their noses. Everybody was crouching down, waiting for the energy to calm down.
The dragon and Gholrae rushed through, reaching the other end before the gate did close. The grand ones who had been delayed by Gholrae tried to flee too but it was too late, they were utterly destroyed as the gate did disintegrate. The power within the jar did make contact between the realms impossible and the gate did simply seize to exist. The entire energy of several realms had been gathered within the jar, the life of living beings, of whole planets. Awakened and sanctified by Wenja and against it darkness didn’t stand a chance. The energy within the jar was that of a supernova and the very fabric of time and space was rewoven, changed and turned into something new. It was too strong to be torn through now, the great ones would never be able to leave their own realm again for it was sealed off, surrounded by an orb of impenetrable energy. All worlds were now connected, a grid of protection around them and nothing like this could happen again. The circles were everywhere, alert and armed and the Gods and Goddesses ready to defend their realms if the need should arise again.
On the other side the effect was horrible, an explosion of cataclysmic proportions, tearing into the very land itself and flattening the waiting armies, burning them to cinders as if a sun had fallen onto their world from above. The dragon felt the closeness of dark minds and souls hungry only for power and it did resume its full power again, fed by the power of the explosion. Gholrae did laugh, a wild and horrific laughter and here she too could become what she once was. She did retake what was taken from her and as the massive dragon did tear into the delicate structures the dark ones erected for themselves and destroyed them Gholrae did kill all the beasts she could see and she didn’t spare any of them. She wouldn’t be done before they all were dead and neither would the great dragon. Even the oldest of the great ones stood little chance against the flames of a being created to fly among the very stars themselves. The world was caught in a firestorm, the life energy stolen from dozen of worlds returned to where it came from, this was now a dead world and the great ones did pay the ultimate price for their arrogance.
They were sheer energy, they had thrown their mortal bodies aside and now their strength became their weakness. It was nothing there to keep them assembled, nothing to protect them. Being an ethereal being of power can be the ultimate freedom but also a death sentence and they had been digging their own graves for a long time. There was no unity, no feeling of wanting to protect each other. It was each one for his own and thus there were no attempt at creating a common front against the onslaught. If they had cooperated they could have survived, as it was their destruction. The power of the dragon flames did simply devour them and there was no afterlife, no hope left. The race which had been a scourge for so many others was eradicated and only dust remained of their constructions and vast armies.
Gholrae did laugh, her powers as a Goddess fully restored and she did rise above the scorched lands and on her command the crust of the planet started to tear itself apart, volcanoes did erupt violently, the surface was turned inside out and nothing would remain of what once was. This planet would maybe harbour life again, but it would never become a danger to other worlds and it would have limited time since the very sun was growing old. Gholrae did return to her own world now, she would free her people and restore it to its former glory and life would go on, as it was meant to do.
The dragon did leave the spheres of this world and did head out into the void between the stars once more, it had lost some of its might but not all of it and over time it would return to its former strength and power. It had all the time in the world and it would not allow itself to be pulled inn by the forces of gravity again. Its magic would protect it from such a blunder and if it at all thought about the impact it had had upon the world it collided with it didn’t allow it to affect it at all.
The blast had thrown everybody off their feet and the plain was trembling, the earth was screaming as the balance was reinstored and Wenja moaned and struggled to get back onto her feet. She felt very dizzy and everything was turning around in front of her eyes. Resh’kha and Kulkar did get up, both were cut in several places by shards of flying crystal but not too badly and they staggered forth. Ahravan and Rhawan ran to Wenja and helped her get up, both were visibly shaken and scared and the huge cat and the wolves did gather around them. Wenja had a ringing sound in her ears and she had to blink, what was going to happen now? The gate was closed, no doubt about that.
Ahravan did kiss her and Wenja did whimper, she felt horrible, as if she had been tossed down a steep hill. Resh’kha did shake herself, she had blood everywhere and she was covered with dust too. She did look terrible. “What now? There are still beasts out there?”
Ahravan did jolt, he did stare out over the plains and Resh’kha was right, the last ones which had passed through the gates were still there, nobody had killed them and they were many and strong, and now the dark one was gone, nothing did control them anymore. Wenja did gasp, she could feel them. They were confused and angry and they felt a sort of pull towards the palace which still stood there. “The palace will pull them inn, we have to get out of here”
Rhawan did whistle for their steeds and he was about to mount up when Ayrhandur and Khirhien came running, behind them Gochil and Darush did appear in a cloud of dust. They did look terrified and the reason was obvious. Everything the dark one had dragged into this world was being pulled back towards the palace, the last remnant of their own world left here. It was calling for them with tremendous force and it was not going to let them get away. The dark one had gathered a lot of his own energy to create the palace and it did still wish for its slaves to do their job. Ahravan did gape, what came down from the hills was fell trolls, hundreds of them, and behind them scores of the transparent demons. All pulled back and all ready to follow the final biddings of their master.
Darush was hollering “They are coming from everywhere!”
He was right, they were truly everywhere and coming from almost all directions. Wenja felt sick, the demons were like dark voids moving towards them, horrible cold minds set only upon killing and they did tear into some of the monsters and trolls as they went, only to get them out of the way. The huge cat did growl and Khor’ath did nicker, the unicorn did paw at the ground and Ahravan did pull himself together with a gasp. “We have to go, now!”
Wenja did stare at the palace. “It is calling them to it, it has to go”
Rhawan did toss her onto the back of the cat. “We have to deal with that later, now we have to get away from them”
Ayhrandur did throw himself onto his horse, the animals were wide eyed and on the verge of going into a fit of panic. “Where to? They are everywhere?!”
Resh’kha did point north. “There is a swamp to the north of where the cliff was, we may be able to evade them there?”
Ahravan did groan. “A swamp?! I have heard about it, I don’t think it is safe!”
Resh’kha did growl at him. “Maybe not, but safer than the monsters, Wenja is exhausted and Kulkar is hurt, we don’t stand much of a chance”
Rhawan did nod. “She is right, let’s go before it is too late!”
They did mount up and Wenja did stare at the palace, it did look otherworldly and it was beautiful but it was an ominous beauty, one with a dark secret. It was harbouring the will of its creator. They did ride towards where the cliff had been and the ground there was uneven and filled with craters. Wenja did turn her head against the palace, the blue crystal was beautiful in itself and she did see that an opening did appear in the wall. A strange creature did emerge, it was like a snake with several arms and an odd flat head and it did look very ill. She felt a strong surge of pain coming from the being, but also pride.
She did reach out to the being, sensing that this too was a victim of the dark ones, wishing to help. She did yelp as its memories did pour into her like a flood. “Oh Goddess!”
Rhawan rode next to her, his eyes were huge and he did bleed from some cuts but he wasn’t seriously wounded. “What?”
Wenja gasped. “That creature, it did poison the dark one, if it hadn’t then we would have been in worse trouble than we were”
Rhawan did turn his head too, the creature did collapse. “What is wrong with him?”
Wenja did cling to the dark fur of the cat. “It is dying, it did poison itself to poison the dark one, it did produce a liquid needed for the dark one to exist in another world than its own. It did sacrifice itself to save us all”
The creature did collapse on the ground and two of the monsters did tear into it immediately. There was a short shriek and then silence and Wenja did cringe. The thing had deserved a way better fate than this, it was tragic. They rode hard and Resh’kha had pulled Kulkar up onto Bloodjaw and held the dwarf tightly, it was clear that he was badly hurt.
The plain behind where the cliff had been was covered with debris but they made good speed and the monsters and the demons and all did follow them driven by their need to kill. Wenja was trying not to be overwhelmed by what she felt, it was a new sensation being able to pick up the emotions of other beings and they were horrible. It made her way more scared than the gate itself and she was shivering. They did see that the landscape did change ahead of them, it became more uneven and they saw a line of green ahead of them. Resh’kha did moan. “Oh Goddess, it is like that goddamn forest again!”
Ahravan did stare at her. “Was it that bad?”
The she orc did nod vigorously. “It was worse than you can imagine, it was trees but they weren’t trees, not really”
Khirhien did lean forth over the neck of his horse. “Trees and not trees at the same time?”
Resh’kha did roll her eyes. “Yes. They were just shaped like trees but in truth I have no idea of what they really were”
Rhawan did nod. “Better not to know I guess!”
The number of enemies at their heels was staggering and the demons were very fast but the sheer number did slow them down. Resh’kha felt her amulet glow again, it felt warm and alive and she did pull it out of the tunic she wore under the armour. It did glow faintly and she felt that her connection with the land did reawaken. This plain wasn’t polluted by the dark ones anymore, it was freed from their influence and she felt that it was angered by the presence of this evil. Wenja did moan, the spirits of the land were visible to her now, she saw them as swirling shadows and she did point forwards. “Ride towards the centre of the swamp, there is something there…”
They did obey her without questions even when the ground became soggy and odd plants did cover the land. It was at first tall grasses, then bushes and slowly trees became a forest. This was sickly and grey and the trees thin and reedllike but they grew older as they did push forth. The animals struggling with the wet surface and the mud and Resh’kha did see that the flood hadn’t reached this area at all. There had to be some reason why it didn’t drain itself but she had no idea of what. But as they did ride forth the surroundings did change, subtly. The forest did look more healthy, the sickly appeareance did disappear and Resh’kha could feel that it had been waiting for something.
The beasts did follow them, she had almost expected the trees to destroy them as it had in the forest Gholrae had created but here nothing of that sorts happened. They had to keep going and the amulet did feel heavy now, Resh’kha did feel that it was important. Ahravan too had gotten a weird feeling, as if something was scraping against his skin near his waist and he did grunt and scratched it but it didn’t disappear. He hadn’t been near any bugs and suddenly his fingers felt warm. He did look down, it was behind the small pocket he had in his belt and he frowned. Something in there was warm? He did steer Khor’ath with his knees and did open the pocket. It was the medaljon he had taken from the human who raped the two children, back before Wenja and the others reached the city. He did blink and stared at the thing, it was in fact very hot and he did cussed and put it in the sheath where he kept his daggers. It was thick and did protect him from the warmth. Wenja did turn her head swiftly. “What was that?!”
Ahravan did look sheepish, “A medaljon of some sorts, taken from dead dark priests I think”
Wenja did look very shocked, “By the Goddess Ahravan, it is powerful. Can’t you feel it? It is darkness, it does attract the beasts too!”
He suddenly felt like tossing it into the mud. “It does? Oh Gods!”
Resh’kha did grimace. “It is very wicked, I can sense it too. But you were meant to have it.”
They did enter an area with very wet ground, the animals were wading now and the forest around them had changed to giant trees they hadn’t seen from a distance. These had thick roots which did anchor them to the swamp and flat canopied. It was warmer there than it ought to be too and Wenja did wonder. She let the cat find the way and after some time they did notice that it was getting drier again. The ground did rise and now the beasts were just a mere mile behind them. They could hear them roar and grunt and they tried to pick up more speed to put some space between them and their pursuers.
Then suddenly they saw it, the tree. It was the largest any one any of them had ever seen, so massive it was hard to believe that it was actually real. Why they hadn’t seen it from the cliff was hard to say but probably due to magic for it did feel as if the very air was alive with power there. The tree was not of any species they knew of, it was made from several trunks and they did twirl around each other like dancers. Enormous branches did reach out like arms and the canopy was surprisingly green in spite of it being winter. Wenja did gape. “The tree of life”
Resh’kha did swallow hard. “We aren’t on the plains anymore are we?”
Wenja shook her head. “No, this is the spirit world, the world of the Goddess.”
The beasts were getting closer and they did ride up the slope towards the massive trunk. Wenja was in awe, she did slide down from the cat and reached out, touched the rough bark. “Please, what are we to do? We cannot hide here”
The tree seemed to shudder and the branches did groan and sway. Ahravan did turn Khor’ath and the beasts were just a few hundred meters from them now, howling with eager bloodthirst. That was when the goddess suddenly did appear in front of them and she did smile at Ahravan. “Toss the medaljon in front of you, you will know when”
Then she did disappear again and he did remember what he had been told, when the time is right it is right, not before. He did grasp the medaljon and the ground in front of the tree did change, it was water there in stead of solid ground and it was deep. It was like staring into a deep gorge and the blue colour was beautiful and tranquil. Wenja was transfixed and Resh’kha did pant. “She wants it back, all that they have taken. They are to be a sacrifice!”
The monsters did run towards them at full speed and the felltrolls and beasts were so close now they could smell them. They all backed away from the edge of the water and the attackers did in fact run on top of it, as if it still was solid ground. To them it probably was and Ahravan did wait with his heart in his throat. The beasts did growl and pant and leered and then he just knew it. The medaljon did burn his hand and he did throw it, it did fly in a gorgeous curve through the air and landed among the beasts, it did sink and so did they. Suddenly.
They sank as if they were made of lead and there was some splashing but not much, they didn’t even have time to scream. They were pulled down into the deep blue darkness by their own weight and Ahravan did see that they tried to swim but it was impossible. The Goddess wanted their lives in return for the ones they had taken, there was no mercy to be found. But the demons were not flesh, they were something else and did hover over the water, still moving forth. Resh’kha did gasp and she did raise her amulet, it did glow like a star now and she felt how her entire being did scream in disgust. The demons did rush towards them but the light from the amulet did make them stop as if they did meet a wall and Resh’kha did chant something she didn’t even understand herself. She did feel how the powers of the land itself were behind her, how she was the spearhead, swords edge, the tool of the light. The demons were clawing towards them, trying to reach them and she knew now that her patethic attempt at claiming that male for herself had been just silly, it had nothing to do with the fact that he had been murdered by such beings. She did growl and held them at bay and Wenja did join her in the chant. A deep male voice did also ring out over the water, it was rough and deep and Kulkar did cling to the wolf and he was swaying but giving his all. The young hunters did also sing and the air around the demons did shimmer. They did scream, pushing forth and Wenja felt the pressure from their terrible will as something physical, like a cold caress by dead rotting hands, slimey eel grass or something simply not natural. She did heave for air and then she did raise her voice even more.
The demons weren’t like their masters, they knew how to cooperate and they knew how to fight the light. They spun a cocoon of darkness around themselves and did move forth a bit, Resh’kha did moan in agony, the unholy beings did try to invade their minds and break their resistance and Ahravan and Rhawan did lay their hands on Wenja, giving of their own strength to her. And Ayhrandur and Khirhien did the same. Wenja did glow now and her voice was like thunder, Resh’kha did glow also and the two females were incarnations of the Goddess at this very moment. The dark entities were cloaked in veils of swirling black energy and they refused to yield. The tree did creak and groan and the ground did move too, as if in pain and repulsion. The two females gave their all, pouring all their hope and light and power into the magic holding these dark enemies back and yet it didn’t seem to work. The darkness crept forth, these demons were relics from a world so terrible not even the dark ones had dared to conquer it but they had managed to enslave some of its most dreaded denizens and turn them into their most horrible tools.
Ahravan was sweating and Rhawan was close to passing out, his eyes rolling in his skull. The huge cat did roar and the dwarf was panting for air, the pressure to give inn was horrible and the demons did stare at them with empty black eyes, like dead stars in a sea of life. That was when the unicorn did step forth, and he did roar. It was a sound nobody had heard before and the old stallion did raise its head and suddenly the horn did grow back out, the coat became shiny and sleek and it did glow. The horn was a lance of light and its eyes did shine as well. It did toss its head back and screamed and then it did charge. Across the blue water, as if it was weightless, as if the very winds did carry it. Ahravan did gasp and there was a shrill shriek coming from the beast as it did lower its head and the horn did pierce the cocoon of darkness. The demons howled, the pressure did disappear as they tried to flee but it was too late. Light did flood the cocoon, it did pierce the veils around them and then their very beings.
Awful screams could be heard as they writhed and clawed at the light but it did burn them, devour them and turned them into nothing. Khor’ath did neigh in triump and reared, it was an amazing sight and the demons let out one last cry and were gone. The water did disappear, it became solid ground again and Khor’ath did throw its head around and bored the horn into the soil. The sand did split and a spring did appear, water flowing out of it and creating a small creek, filled with sparkly clean water.
The tree did creak and roots shot forth, diving into the clean water and the canopy seemed to grow and become more green than before. The air was loaded with energy and Resh’kha did gape, what they just had seen was impossible. The unicorn did look young again, as if it had been rejuvenated and Ahravan did wet his lips. “You were never just an average unicorn now were you?”
The huge animal did shake its head and the horn did glow still, he did paw at the ground, as if he was eager to go. Wenja turned to the tree, its shape seemed to have changed, it did look stronger and more vigorous and she had to smile. “It was returned, everything that the dark ones did steal was returned to our world, to the tree of life”
Rhawan was standing next to Ahravan and he was just staring, his amber eyes were huge. “Is this real?”
Wenja did nod and she went over and dipped her hand in the spring. “It is, we did it. The gate is gone, our world is safe now”
Kulkar did grunt and he appeared to tremble. “Good, that is good”
He did tumble from the back of the wolf and Resh’kha did grasp him. “He is hurt!”
Wenja did nod. “I see, bring me a water bottle”
Khirhien did give her his own and she did fill it with water from the spring. “Remove his clothes, we have to see what is wrong.”
Resh’kha did obey, she did gently peel aside the dwarf’s clothing and they saw a horrible dark bruise which did cover his entire side, it was where he had landed when the dark one did blast him away from the crystal beam. It was obvious that ribs were broken and it was in fact odd that he was alive. A human being would have been dead as a stone already. Kulkar did moan. “The bastard did get me good now didn’t he? Goddamn hudr’akkh”
Resh’kha didn’t know the word and the elves did cringe. Wenja did look curious. “What?”
Ahravan did wince. “Uh dear, you don’t want to know for sure!”
Wenja did glower and Rhawan did giggle, his eyes filling with tears of mirth. She put out her tongue and he did grin. “Alright, but look here”
She did pour some water from the flask onto the bruise and it did slowly disappear. Kulkar did gasp and he touched his side gently. “It is gone?”
Wenja nodded. “Yes, fill your bottles people, this water will heal anything”
They did obey and Resh’kha did stare at the tree, her eyes were still filled with reverence and awe and she appeared to be almost in a trance. Wenja did lay a hand on her shoulder. “You did well sister orc, you did follow the Goddess and helped save us all”
Resh’kha did smile, her eyes a bit distant. “Yes, but…I wish the others were here, Floth’bha and Dharan and Geir are still in the mountains, Floth’bha was wounded and…Oh Gods!”
She got up and grasped her bottle. “I need to go, I need to go NOW!”
Ahravan did nod to her and Bloodjaw and Redfang did walk over, she did mount Bloodjaw and the giant wolf did take off. The orc did cling to it and shouted. “I will bring them with me back!”
Ahravan did just shake his head and Rhawan did grin, Wenja raised an eyebrow. “What?!”
Ahravan embraced her. “Nothing, I am sure that Floth’bha won’t be alone for much longer, a certain female orc shaman has taken a liking to her”
Rhawan tilted his head and nodded solemnly. “More than a liking I think”
Ayhrandur did sit down and the two humans did the same. Khirhien did check everybody for injuries and did wash their cuts and bruises with water from the spring and they did disappear. Wenja laid back, she felt at peace but also oddly wired up. It was over, it was hard to believe. She took a deep breath and closed her eyes. The power of the tree was soothing and gentle, like that of a loving mother and she did smile. “Let us rest, we are safe here”
The horses started to graze and some huge fruits did drop from the tree with soft plods. Rhawan did pick up a couple and sniffed them cautiously. “Are they edible?”
Wenja did nod. “Yes. They are for us”
Each fruit was the size of a child’s head and had a very sweet scent and Rhawan did take a bite of one and his expression turned to one of bliss. They all started to eat and Wenja had never tasted anything that sweet and savoury. It was wonderful and she ate until she couldn’t room any more. They all just laid there, resting and overly full. Wenja did rest her head on Ahravan’s thighs and Rhawan did rest his neck on her thighs, they laid there staring at the skies. It was so very hard to believe that it was over. Ahravan let a hand slide through Wenja’s hair and she did almost purr. Things were good again, no more monsters and no more fear. Rhawan did burp and covered his mouth with his hand and Ahravan did grunt and shook his head.
Wenja did lay there for a while, nobody spoke, they had enough with their own thoughts and the place was still warm and pleasant. Kulkar had laid down next to some roots and was snoring like a saw mill and the two young hunters did sleep next to each other, curled up like kittens in a basket. They were all weary and slowly even Ahravan did give inn to his fatigue and fell asleep.
When they did wake up there was a table standing in front of the tree, it hadn’t been there when they fell asleep and it was covered with things. As they woke up they did slowly venture over to the table, half of it was filled with food and wine and Rhawan did look very smug when he did find a bottle of his favourite wine there. Wenja did find some cheese and bread and she found that she in fact was hungry yet again. The other half of the table had objects on it, covered with a thin cloth and when they had eaten Ahravan did pull the cloth aside. The first thing they saw was a leather pouch with a delicate embroidery of the great tree on it. It was not very large but it was filled with something and Ahravan did open it hesitantly. It was seeds, huge seeds of different types and there was a small note there. He did read it out loud. “For Wenja, she is the life bringer. May the Eth’ir bring wisdom and peace to the people. Take this and plant these seeds all over the plains, the pouch will never be empty. This is your task now my child”
Wenja did take the pouch with almost religious reverence. It was a gift from the goddess. Ahravan did pull at the cloth again and several weapons were revealed. It was swords which did look almost identical but there were small differences still. It was one for each of the males present even the human ones and the note said that they from now on were the Goddess own knights, her champions. Ahravan did lift one of the blades with reverence. It felt perfect in his hands and had the delicate slightly curved shape the elves did prefer.
The last object on the table was a sort of horn and the sight made Kulkar tremble, he did take it with huge eyes. “The horn of Daradhin the noble. It has been missing for ages”
Wenja did frown. “Really, it is just a horn?”
Kulkar did shake his head. “No, it isn’t just a horn my dear, it is a symbol of our people. It may unlock our most ancient secrets. If I blow this horn even hidden cities will be made visible to my eyes. I am to find the old keeps of our people and bring the dwarves back to their forgotten realms. I am the kin seeker now, the bringer of a new age of strength”
He did cry and Wenja had to pet his back, the dwarf was beside himself with joy.
Khirhien did caress the sword he had been given. “Wasn’t there any gifts for those not here?”
Wenja did grin. “Oh, I bet there are, they have gotten them already I am sure”
Ahravan did sheath the sword. “I just hope that Floth’bha and the others are alright”
Wenja raised an eyebrow in an enigmatic grimace. “Oh I bet she is, just you wait and see.”