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The Hand & The Broken Star

By Steven Passengers All Rights Reserved ©

Adventure / Fantasy

Quahrzu's Tomb

Nobody can remember exactly the time and the location where it happened but it did happen and that's fair enough for everybody. Fair enough to admit that it's actually true. There's a number of considerably large tomes that talk about this particular event for over more than five hundred pages in length approximately. About the time a young man climbed the spiral staircase of a tomb in the form of a tall erected tower that tried it's very best at scratching the face of the heavens. Almost reminiscent of a drill ready to penetrate the clear blue sky. People who know about it say it happened when the foliage of the trees were changing their colors. Others say it happened when heavy blankets of snow covered the mountains or when the weather had never been better, perfect in every way imaginable. The last one is true. The young man was busy searching for a mystical island where fantastical creatures resided away from harm's hand. His boat wasn't anything to boast about but it functioned and that's all that mattered to him. Small waves rose every now and then only to later collapse producing a strong "whoosh" sound that blew salty air into this young man's face.
Xalbius was his name. He was quite aware of how weird his name sounded to foreigners, but the land where he had come from all the people who lived there were given equally strange sounding names. Some more difficult to pronounce than others. At least that's what the books are able to say on these matters. Anyways, Xalbius was pretty good at steering his boat to where the wind pushed faster, gaining extra speed, advancing farther into the ocean. Farther into the unknown. He had a compass, a water pouch, and a navel telescope hand-crafted out of wood and discs carefully cut from blue crystals that allowed him to zoom in or out for a clearer view of things. Xalbius, as many a young man his own age, wasn't prone to starting or ending conversations, but he managed moving around them either way. Inside of him lay the heart and soul of an adventurer.

Curious by nature, eager to learn about all that waited for him patiently to be discovered. Now and then he would talk to himself. He would talk about his parents, about his brave grandfather who died at the age of seventy one. About his sister who was mastering the Science of Alchemy at the time. He talked so he wouldn't forget where he came from. Curtains of the night descended upon him. Waves shook and pushed his boat near a collection of broken rock fragments close to a cliff. The ocean captured him, hauled him downwards, then spat him out. Waking up the next morning on a bed of cream colored sand. Xalbius had finally arrived to the island after several months of being a sea-traveler. Sections of water still covered his legs as they sunk over the edge of the island.

It was a piece of subcontinental land that had drifted apart from the other islands at a slow pace in time. Many say it wasn't large at all, more of a peculiar looking islet if nothing else, surrounded by crystal clear water where all sorts of marine life coexisted in harmony. Fins and tails of all shapes and sizes tickled his toes, and brushed his legs as they swam back and forth in a state of panic. He stared at them and thought of underwater rainbows. Straight lines of vibrant colors dancing before him. The next part of this story tells us about how a mysterious voice spoke softly to him, but we all know how people enjoy modifying the original source to suit their own which we are not going to do with this one! What really happened was that a powerful need to satiate his hunger got a hold of him as he stared at the bank of delicious fishes, multicolored and bright. He picked himself up. Scavenged for materials he would later utilize for crafting purposes.

"I need to make a fishing pole."

This was a young man who had his priorities in order. Xalbius walked around, left footprints along the way. He provided himself with a torch, made a campfire. He had sufficient lighting for when he needed to see at night or for when his stomach demanded he cook a meal or two most likely fishes stacked on a stick. Xalbius searched diligently for silk, a long wooden branch, and something he thought could work as a hooking device. Fifty steps away from the edge of the islet he stumbled upon a beautiful Silk Moth Tree stump. Paper-thin wings of silk moths trembled and flapped as he stole the amount of silk he had sought for.

"Sorry. Won't bother you anymore."

Silk moths flew in circles carefully landing on the surface of the tree stump once more. Darkness approached him faster than usual. He returned to camp, at least it was his intention, for in the process of retracing his steps his handy torch died on him making it impossible to survey the area. Plunged into a torrent of ever-expanding shadows, he felt his way through. His hands came to press a stack of bricks ascending to an incredible height. He dragged the palm of his hands around its circumference until he landed on what appeared to be a wooden door. He pushed it all the way back. He had discovered main entrance. Not knowing whether he should step inside or not, he ended up risking it. To his surprise blue radiant light emanated from within. He saw a long spiral staircase goin all the way up to the top covered in human bones and fractured skulls. His nose caught a strong odor: an awful smell that reminded him of death. The only way to go was up.

In front of him stood a series of steps. He was determined to see what was at the other end of the spiral staircase. The door he had previously opened swung and banged against the wall clothed in dust then returned to its original position. Soft light blinked on and off. It came from the mosaic of a hand that grabbed a pentagram with one of its pentacles broken. He had never laid eyes upon a thing like that one. A mystical symbol inscribed on the face of an ancient shield. He detached the large, deeply concave, circular shield made of wood and bronze from the small weapon hanger. Equipped it on his right forearm without a second thought. Waltzing fog came down from the visible slit underneath the door that stood at the end of the spiral staircase upstairs. Fog so thick it created figures of ghosts that lingered for awhile only to vanish. He began to climb the steps one after the other. Seconds, minutes, an hour. Two hours. Three hours. He was getting tired. That was the moment where Xalbius came to a stop. The door before him opening itself in a long slow motion controlled by archaic sorcery of the darkest kind.

"You may enter, mortal!" A strong yet delicate voice ordered booming from inside. His eyes witnessed a levitating sphere enveloped by an array of shades of pink, suspended on a mass of never-ending twirling fog. Shield strapped onto his forearm he went in trying his best not to show any fear to the creature who had spoken to him. Marble and alabaster mixed up to a point where it was hard to notice where one reached its end or decipher the starting point of the other.

"Do you not know who it is you are standing in front of, dumb mortal?!" Her voice escalated through a variation of high-pitched and downright furious tones.

"Tell Me." Xalbius said.

"Tell me?!" She cackled. Offended by his lack of knowledge on the subject at hand. "Even the frail monks of the Palisade Monastery know that I exist!" She paused, then tried again. "Aren't you terrified?!"

"No, not at all." The truth was that he was scared to death but he had was a master of concealing all of his emotions. Only his sister could scan and detect how he was truly feeling in that moment. His eyes glued to the alluring effigy of the fairy residing within the levitating orb. "Having ears did you not hear about The Many Carriages of Death?!" Quahrzu's wings glimmered as she screamed from the top of her lungs. "Allow me to engrave it on your memory so you never forget, mortal!" Quahrzu's and Xalbius eyes hooked unto each other. Xalbius had fallen under her spell, but when the shield scintillated its soft light at him he regained consciousness. Long silver hair covered her sculptured naked body. Silence choke her private chambers. The flames of her candles dimmed soon afterwards then the orb cracked in half setting loose even more fog that molded into a staircase. Quahrzu descended the stairs with each step advancing to the next one. He saw her morph into the exact height he was or maybe a bit taller than him. Her toes came into contact with the marble and alabaster floor tainting it crimson black, like stones thrown into the lake, creating a series of successive ripples. Her head, without a warning, tumbled down from her neck to the floor with a heavy "thunk".

It rolled, then, with the power of levitation, transported across the room delivering columns of electricity that pierced through the center of her translucent irises. She struck them like arrows at the walls, at the ceiling, even at the floor. He stood upon something that looked like an oval platform. On its center one could notice a carving of the same symbol on his shield. The symbol flashed. It burned with uncanny luminescence. Everything felt like a dream sequence and Xalbius couldn't wait to wake up. From her chest, after she forcefully ripped it apart, with all her vital organs and bone structure intact, escaped hideous evil entities breathing out the blackest of flames.
"I hope that I have managed to scare you. Have I scared you?!" She laughed.
He could see everything inside of her. Muscles, bones, and veins. It was completely disgusting.
"It is not the end until I say so, mortal!"
Outside of Quahrzu's Tomb lightning struck from the sky. The heaven's were angry. Rocked the earth with the power of thunder. It wasn't over yet. Xalbius had managed to deflect Quarhzu's hits by super-charging his shield. He boomeranged them back at the things that had emerged from her nasty entrails. It made him think of fireworks. Sparks of color rebounding north, south, east, and west inflicting serious damage upon her colossal Nightmare Things. Bags of blood splashed and brushed the room.

"My babies! What are you doing!"
"Stop! My babies!"

Her Nightmare Things were three things at once. A spider, a serpent, and a dragon. Xalbius wasn't sure what words to use when describing it. If you could somehow combine them in your head by dissecting them then stitching them together in the most inconceivable of ways that would be the closest you could get to what a Nightmare Thing looks like. Head of a serpent, neck of a dragon, spider abdomen with its share of spider eyes and spider legs. Add a pair of dragon wings and dragon tails for the final touch. There's rough sketches of these things out there somewhere but it's best you don't introduce your eyes to them unless you desire for them to rob you from your sleep.
Excessive amounts of electricity stored within her reacted by bolting out in full force causing instantaneous disintegration. Ripping the whole creature to gory shreds. Quahrzu's Tomb shook so hard it summoned seismic waves out of nowhere. The foundations of the tower trembled to the point where the act of dismantling was unavoidable. Strong vibrations scared to the head of the tomb from the already cracking floor deep in the underground. The impact of Quahrzu's body lead to her Nightmare Things colliding against the marble and alabaster walls now tainted in crimson black, bashing their own repulsive bodies to the floor. Xalbius heard their spines crack in unison.
He heard the sound of bodily fluids gushing down the spiral staircase, spilling out the small windows. It was, as historians refer to it: "a scene too nasty we would rather not describe."
Just like that the greedy hands of havoc and destruction had claimed the tomb. Xalbius ran down the spiral staircase as everything crumbled behind him. A wave of ruin followed him to the entrance. When he was out, the tower collapsed. I can't blame you for finding this story rather farfetched, but do believe me when I say to you that it gets far much worse. With the shield still strapped unto his forearm, and the face of darkness erasing bit by bit, it was time to head to camp near the edge of the islet and a couple of footsteps away from the Silk Moth Tree stump he had found hours ago.
His boat had been wrecked. It's sail and mast destroyed. This wasn't good news at all. It meant that he was going to be staying there for awhile longer. Xalbius sighed, sat on the sand, and buried his toes in it.

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