Eyla stirred as she awakened out of her meditations. She stretched silently as there were still other Berserkers around her. They were all in their trance meditations and they tended to get aggressive if they were awakened before time. She smiled as she saw the peaceful expressions on their face and gentle smiles on some. This was what Berserkers live for, a chance to get peace, a moment where they do not have to be on guard holding down the rage inside them. There wasn’t one of them here who would be willingly go on being a Berserker, they would all give up their abilities, do anything, for a chance to have peace. Eyla rose up lightly and crept easily away from the group, wincing every time she stepped on a twig or her feet crushed the dry leaves loudly. But no one so much as even stirred. She muttered a prayer of thanks to the Great Spirit that all Berserkers pray too. She felt a strange sense of sadness and guilt as she remembered that is was such a long time since she had prayed. She didn’t deserve to pray to the Great Spirit unless she was in good standing with him and she was not. She muttered an apology and felt slightly better. She sighed and shook her head; all her peace and meditation had been wasted.
The trees thinned and Eyla found Soriah prodding at the dirt with a stick. The blind woman was kneeling and her hands reached into a pouch at her side and took out several leaves. She began rubbing them between her hands. Soriah jerked her head up, her face serious, and then she smiled.
“How was it?”
Eyla grinned, “How do you always know when it is me? I am sure that I did not make any noise.”
“You didn’t,’ Soriah acknowledged, “but you moved the wind, blocked the sun and your shadow fell on me. I knew the shape of your shadow by the area that it blocked on my skin.”
Eyla raised her eyebrows, “You are….I do not even know what you are.”
Soriah laughed. She straightened out and reached out her hand. Eyla took it and they strolled down to the village together.
“How long did I stay in trance?” Eyla asked.
“Not long, about a week,” Soriah replied.
“Hmmm,” mused Eyla, ”The others will be out in about another week. I could never stay that long.”
They passed the village and walked down to the river. The sun was already past noon when they reached it. They sat down by the river bank and dipped their feet in the brown water. Silence passed between them and finally Eyla turned to face her.
“Why do you think we have not heard of the Griffin yet?” she asked. Soriah’s face was blank.
“News travels slowly across great distances and much people do not know that there is a village of Berserkers here. And that is for the best.”
Eyla took that in, “Could you, you know, use your herbs again and ask the Dyads?”
Soriah thought for a moment, “I could but it will most likely kill me.”
“But Queen Rashizvia said you informed her that I was coming,” Eyla said confused.
Soriah nodded, “Yes, but i took a great risk in doing that. Dryads are quite hostile towards strangers. I had to tell her.”
“Oh,” Eyla said. And they sat there till nightfall.
The next day Eyla asked if she might go fishing. Soriah nodded and she dashed out. She joined the group of young male Berserkers that were going and they all ran down to the Egren. One of the boys, Titan, raced alongside her and he kept looking at her. She smiled at him and when he did not stop, she frowned and dashed forward leaving him behind with his mouth open. They all stopped at their usual spot and stripped off their clothes. They stood in their under garments, took a deep breath and dived. The water was cold and brown.
Eyla’s vision was blotted out as she sank beneath the flowing water. Berserkers did not need rods or anything like ordinary people, their rage was all that was needed. She rose and saw the black heads of the boys. Titan was smiling back at her. She smiled back uneasily. She did not quite like the look of admiration in his eyes. She ducked and surfaced again and he was gone. She sighed in relief and looked to the sky. She was muttering a prayer of thanks when she noticed that there was a line of dark clouds lining the NorthWest sky. She frowned; it did not look any rain clouds she had ever seen. It looked somewhat deliberate. She shrugged it off, sucked in air and dived again.
Under the water she became enclosed in a wall of brown wall of water. She relaxed and closed her eyes. A deep seated rage was caged in her mind and bar by bar she released it. She felt the slow tickling of power oozing out and when the last bar was lifted, the rage exploded. She felt her body stiffen then relax, her muscles tensing unable to contain the urge to release the energy pent up in them. Her eyes flew open; the water was a light blue color as if it was glowing. A little way away she saw the sleek bodies of the others in the water, their eyes glowing spots of blue light. They were also seeing as she did. Suddenly one of the boys moved and she saw a blur. He burst out of the water with a fish in his hand. Eyla grinned and joined in the fun.
They whooshed though in the water leaving streams of small bubbles in their wake. The bodies dipped and rose like fishes, while their hands snatched up fishes that moved too slowly to escape them. Eyla felt the joy of the Berserker side of her as it overwhelmed her senses. The sweet bliss of release was something she never got used to or liked. It was as though there was another being inside her that ruled over her rage; she did not like the fact that she was not in control. She shook her head; the seething rage was ebbing away. As she rose to the surface with a fish in her hand, she saw that the others were also moving slower.
She tossed the fish onto a now sizable pile on the river bank. The other boys’ heads were not above the surface yet. She shook the water out of her eyes and looked toward that strange supposed rain cloud she had seen. It had not grown.
“That’s strange,” she said to herself.
“What is strange?’ asked a voice.
Eyla turned to face Titan.
She looked back to the cloud, “That cloud hasn’t grown yet. A rain cloud would have grown or gotten darker right?”
Titan turned and looked at the cloud. His brow creased. He was rather cute Eyla thought.
“Should,” he replied, “But not all the time. Maybe it is so far that any growth would be indiscernible.” Eyla smiled.
“True” she agreed.
Titan turned back to her with a grin on his face, “Eyla..” he began then paused.
“Yes?’ she said to encourage him.
“I…” he began again.
“Hey you two, we are done so let’s play some water fighting,” a boy called out.
His eyes flared blue and a second later Eyla was dragged under the water. She lashed out and caught the boy in his jaw; his grip loosed and he floated up. Eyla grinned, flared her eyes, dove, caught another boy and flung him clear out of the water. He crashed with another boy in mid air and they both hit the water with a satisfying splat. One boy snatched at her legs again and she did a cork screw spin as fast as she could and the boy let go with a hand over his mouth and looking sick. Titan grabbed her waist and no matter what she did she could not shake him, so she slowed down and then burst forward. His grip slipped to her ankles. She looked back and grinned at him; then shot forward rising higher and higher till she leapt out of the water taking him with her. She flipped through the air and brought him down hard on the water. He hit the water as if it was a stone wall, while she ricocheted off the surface and dived back down ; her side stinging.
“That hurt Eyla,” he yelled after her. She laughed and went looking for another victim. They kicked, half drowned each other and got each other bloody. Eyla surfaced near Titan.
“I’m going out,’ he said, I have cramps.”
“Alright,” Eyla said.
He paused, “Will you come with me?”
“I want to play a while more,” she replied, “I will join you later.”
Titan looked disappointed, his jaw clenched but he sighed and nodded. He swam off to the bank. Eyla dove back in. a while later she surfaced and saw that he was gone. Her eyes took back on their usual color.
“Rils!” she called, “Did you see Titan?”
Rils glanced at her, “Nope, probably went to pass water Eyla.” Then he got dragged back down again. Eyla twisted her mouth, she felt uneasy. Rils came up again sporting a busted lip.
“I’m going to get him,” she said.
“Ohhh, Eyla likes Titan,” he sang.
“What?” another boy surfaced, “Eyla likes Titan? Good match I say!”
“I do not like Titan!” Eyla yelled.
“She’s yelling,” Rils said a matter-of-factly, “So it must be true.”
“Oh you!” Eyla exclaimed swimming for shore.
“Make sure you pour your heart out to him!” yelled Rils after her. Eyla shook her head as she clambered up the bank.
She threw on her tunic, tucked her fishing knife into her belt and walked into the forest.
“Titan!” she called. There was no answer. She frowned, her mind was restless. Something was not right. She strode into the trees. Inside was cool and semi dark. She stepped over a fallen long.
“Titan?” she called, “come on Titan. This is not funny.” She looked around and saw a spot of black some distance away. Eyla put her hands on her hips and called out loudly, “Titan get over here. I can see your hair so game’s up. Titan!” he didn’t move or say anything. She sighed and began to walk toward him. Suddenly she saw a shimmer of white. “Titan?” she asked.
An overwhelming fear gripped her and she began to run. She dashed pass trees and branches. Twigs snapped under her weight. Whatever was with Titan did not move. She burst through the trees into the clearing and screamed. Titan lay on the ground, his mouth open in a soundless scream. His eyes were wide with fear and pain. Eyla stumbled back. A creature was kneeling over him. It was a milky white and blades protruded out of its body which stuck through Titan holding him to the ground. From its face a long black tube was stuck into Titan’s chest.
Eyla heard sucking sounds and saw Titan’s body convulse. His fingers gripped the dirt. She covered her mouth and bile burned her throat; he was alive! Blood spurted from his wounds as the creature rocked over him to get more of his blood. Titan’s head rolled back and the dirt moved with him. She saw the deep grooves that his limbs had made. Suddenly the world turned blue and the creature was an orb of bright yellow light. Eyla slipped out her knife. The rage she felt was so calm that she didn’t notice it was there until it had burst out and drove her to walk.
The creature looked up and saw her. The tube ripped out of Titan’s chest, the end of it was open and she saw the fine teeth that edged the opening. The creature rose and leapt at her. She gathered her anger and as it came to her she dropped and then rose with the speed of lightening and struck it under the chin with her free hand. The creature went flying, crashing through trees. She watched it as it disappeared. The world then went back into colour.
She dropped to Titan’s side and took his hand. His breath was coming fast and his skin was pale.
“Eyla,” he said, his voice hoarse. Blood bubbled out of his mouth. Eyla felt tears well up. She gripped his hand harder.
“I’m here,” you will be alright,” she said she voice cracking.
“I won’t” he said.
“Yes you will,” she said desperately, “All you have to do is turn berserker for a while and you will heal faster.” The tears ran down her face.
“Eyla,’ he said and reached up and touched her lips, “I wanted to win your heart at the dance, but now I will never get my chance.”
“Yes you will, “Eyla said brokenly, “I will be waiting for you.” He shook his head.
“Titan…” she began then stopped her throat too tight.
“I love you,” he said, “I always have Eyla. Now I die in peace.”
“No Titan,” Eyla insisted, “You can’t die!” Eyla felt her heart burning, it wanted to explode. She didn’t know what to do.
“In peace,’ he said softly, his hand slackening their grip, “finally.” His eyes flared blue for the last time and then all the life slipped out of him. Eyla sat dumbstruck. The world suddenly became cold. She took a breath, then another and they came faster and faster. The pressure in her chest was too heavy to bear. She couldn’t take it. Eyla raised her head and she screamed loud and hard. She gathered Titan’s body in her arms and cradled him against her. His blood was still warm on her flesh, but his body was getting cold.
“Titan,’ she screamed, “No Titan come back. NO!” but he didn’t move. She knew that he was gone but her mind was not taking it in. Her tears spilled on his face was she caressed his hair. Rils dashed into the clearing.
“Oh Great Spirit!” he said and ran to her. “Eyla what happened?”. Eyla looked at him her tears blinding her.
“Something killed him,” she said.
“What?” Rils asked. Eyla shook her head, her heart was cold and she began to harden it also. She sighed.
“Take him back to the village,” she told Rils. Rils took Titan’s body. Eyla held the cold hand for a while then she started into the forest.
“Where are you going?” Rils asked. She turned to face him, her heart feeling numb.
“Hunting,’ she said and dashed off before he could say anything to stop her.