The Dark One
“Your power grows, oh Dark One. It shall not be long before your power is at full strength again.”
I was having another vision. This time I could see a dark chamber, the light so low that I had to strain to see. Something sat upon a throne made of bones and skulls, disgustingly beautiful in a sense. The voice that spoke was the Lady of Irinis, she stood aside the throne.
“But your replacement brat still lives. Alys… She still lives. You should have killed her. You will kill her in time.”
I didn’t recognize this new voice, but I could tell it was mainly female at least.
“Alys was a failure, yes Dark One, but her power is stronger than that which had lay dormant in her mother. You could drain her of this power; use it to fuel your own.”
“Very well, should she be captured then I will drain her of her power. I may even keep her alive for a while, break her very soul. That would be a pleasant sight to behold.”
The Lady nodded. “If you so wish it, Dark One. Shall I send him after her?”
“Fine. Make haste, I do not like waiting, call him here, now.”
“As you wish, Dark One. Come forth, Morrowgrimm, it is time to prove yourself to our Dark One.”
Out from the shadows of a pillar, came forth a man wearing a tattered black and red robe, hood up to hide his face. In a skeletal hand he held a staff made of a dark ebony wood, atop sat a bleached skull that had dull red glowing eyes.
“You called for me, oh Dark One? Lady Irinis as well? Well isn’t this my lucky day.” The man’s chuckle was dark, foreboding.
“Silence Morrowgrimm! It is rude to spea-“
“Hush, Irinis, let him jest while he can. I have a task for you, necromancer. It is imperative you capture Alys, a young female witch. Bring her alive, and mostly well. The less you hurt her, the better.”
“What of those who are with her? Surely a mere girl wouldn’t travel alone…”
“Capture any who have magic in their blood, kill the rest. Do your best not to overly injure the magic users, perhaps with a display of my dark power they’ll rethink where there allegiance lies.”
The necromancer Morrowgrimm bowed. “So sayth the Dark One. Where shall I find this Alys?”
“She has come back to the surface from Vale, this we know. She is in Sungrasp, but will quickly be on the move towards the capitol. It is when she is on the road you should strike, not within a town. I don’t want my future army harmed.”
“Yes, Dark One. I shall do as you ask. I will capture her, and bring her to you.”
“Good. Now go, move with a purpose.”
The necromancer stood up to leave, using magic to quickly disappear.
The Lady of Irinis smirked. “You should rest, Dark One. I will wake you when the girl is here.”
The vision dissipated and I slowly came to, a muddled voice was calling to me. I became physically conscious first; someone was shaking my arm urgently. I opened my eyes, the world a blur. The voice cleared up along with my vision, bringing me face to face with Verulus.
“Alys! Alys wake up!”
“Ver… Verulus?” My throat felt raw and scratchy, the weak feeling still plaguing me.
“Alys! Thank gods! What were you thinking?!”
“What… happened?” I could feel a bed underneath me. “Please… water…”
Verulus turned away from me, granting me view of Meryl, holding her daughter, gently bouncing the child as she looked at me with worry.
Meryl, I had saved Meryl! I quickly tried to sit up, though I quickly became dizzy. Someone on the other side helped me sit up, my back against a propped up pillow. It was Meryl’s husband that had aided me. I was in a guest room, that I could tell. Verulus handed me a cup of water, mumbling briefly I should drink it slowly.
“Alys, thank you…” Her husband placed his hand on my shoulder, gently patting it.
“Never mind a thank you! Alys, what were you thinking?!” Verulus demanded.
“My thought was to save Meryl’s life. I see I succeeded.”
“You nearly killed yourself! You used a life force spell; those are as dangerous as the dark spells!”
“Life force spells? Is that what that spell was?” I muttered before drinking down half the cup.
“Yes!” Verulus shook me again. “Don’t use it again!”
Meryl came over, shaking her head. “Verulus, stop shaking her, you’ll make her spill. Alys, dear, thank you for what you did, I am in your debt.”
I smile. “I’m just glad you are alright… No child should grow up without a mother, especially if that mother was you. You’ve been so kind to me, a stranger. You do not need to hold yourself in debt to me.”
She smiled and the child began to babble. Verulus smiled, looking up at his niece. Something inside me panged, I felt sad for myself. I briefly felt jealous of Verulus, even his foster mother and father had loved him, and he only knew his foster mother for a year. I felt left out, that I had been cheated, as my foster parents did not show any signs of love for me as I grew up. My real mother had died when I was born, and I didn’t even know who my father had been.
I shook my head as if that were to dispel the feeling.
“Verulus, I had another vision.” I said to him, causing him to frown.
“The Lady of Irinis was speaking with the Dark One. They’ve sent a necromancer after me.”
Verulus frowned and mumbled a curse under his breath. “This is bad… I was able to find a way for you to get through Irinis, we move tonight.”
I nodded and got up. “How long was I out?”
“You were out the rest of yesterday and most of today. I had my husband bring you to a room to recover. Verulus used his magic to help me heal more so I could come see you. I need to speak with you briefly, so if you boys would leave…”
“Meryl, there isn’t much time.” Verulus protested.
“I know which is why it will be brief, brother. Go on, wait in the hallway.”
Verulus rolled his eyes and left with her husband. When the door shut, Meryl turned to look at her child, smiling.
“Would you like to hold her, Alys? Please, you should hold her once…”
I nodded, carefully taking the day old baby into my arms. I had done this a few times before with several newborn children in Irinis, giving the poor mothers a break as they ate the bread I gifted them. The little girl looked at me with curiosity before smiling and babbling at me, unafraid of the stranger that held her. She looked much like her mother.
Tears weld up, blurring my vision slightly as I smiled back at her. “What’s her name, Meryl?”
“Actually, that’s what I wanted to talk to you about. I want you to name her. My husband agreed with me when I told him this is what I wanted. We can’t thank you enough for saving me.”
“Are you sure? What if you don’t like the name?”
“I’m sure you will give her a good name.” She sat beside me, hugging me.
I thought for a brief minute, tears running down my cheeks. This was the first time I had ever cried holding a baby, I was so happy for this child and Meryl.
“Eilonwy…” The name left my lips, and the child ceased its babbly, frowning with a minor whine.
“I like that name, it suits her well I think.” Meryl smiled.
I smiled, the little girl’s smile returned. “Hello Eilonwy. I’m Alys. You will be good for your mommy, please? I will return to you as soon as I can, I promise.”
Eilonwy babbled and I gingerly handed her back to Meryl.
“I’ve said this before, and I will say it again, but you are welcome back anytime. If it isn’t too much on you, please even consider us family.”
I nodded. “Thank you Meryl. I should get going; Verulus is probably getting annoyed at me.”
She rolled her eyes but nodded. She lifted Eilonwy’s tiny hand and waved it. “Say bye-bye to aunty, Elli. Bye-bye aunty, come back soon.”
I giggled and left the room.
“Took you long enough, what was that about?” Verulus asked as he started rushing to the kitchens.
“I just named your niece.”
He looked at me, shocked. “What did you name her?”
He paused briefly. “That name is familiar… anyway, we need to go. I’ve arranged a cart driver to move through Irinis, you will be hiding in a pile of hay.”
“Great, I’ll be itchy and bored. The guards will probably poke the pile.”
“That’s why you’ll be in the portion under the driver’s seat. Just don’t move and we’ll be through in a few hours.”
I frowned as we left the Wandering Wizard Tavern, towards a waiting cart.