Chapter Nine - A Quest Is Born
“What will you do to them, me lady?“, a goblin sort of creature spoke, giving the appearance of a kobold; long and tall pointy ears, short in height, and breath so foul it could be deemed deadly.
“Well, I’m not going to just let them rot in that cell forever, if that’s what you’re asking.” Anita snapped back.
“Sorry me lady, I was just thinking . . .” the goblin began to speak before it was interrupted by Anita.
“Thinking what exactly? Questioning my ability to deal with these . . . children?” Anita spoke harshly, emphasizing ‘children’ to create a rather short yell.
The goblin looked to Anita whilst she spoke, turning its head the other direction to stare into the depths of the cavern. Trying its best to show it regrets ever speaking those words.
“No. Never me lady. I would never question your abilities of anything.” the creature spoke, attempting to dispose of the conversation the quickest he can.
“Good. That’s what I thought.” Anita said with a rather rasp. Slowly did Anita begin to lose airflow to her lungs. Her throat swelled as if to be choked by an invisible entity. She screeched and trembled in fear she was poisoned, “but by whom” she thought to herself. She pointed her now shaking index finger at the short beast that stood before her. Her eyes growing red in color, showing she was at a loss for air. A half step at a time she crept towards the creature, whose eyes have now grown, showing surprise and terror during the dreadful situation.
Anita fell to the cold stone floor, creating a smack upon contact. She gasped for the little air she could still breathe, creating a faint cry whilst she did so. After several short breaths, she managed to speak just a few words, “You wretched little piece of shit” she said, pointing the same index finger as before to the small creature.
The candles that lit the room, illuminating the cavern that encapsulated them, blew out. Quickly darkening the once bright room. The room was dark. The only light that shined in the cave was the dim distant moonlight that gazed into the enclosure from a crevice in the ceiling, creating a glare against several of the stalactites that hung from the roof, reaching down to almost touching the stoney ground. In the center of the room, against a wall that grew to the top of the cave, a bright, white light swelled, highlighting the dark cave that surrounded them.
“Orpheus.” the goblin welcomed whilst bowing, paying no attention to the struggling Anita beside him.
“Anita. You have captured the children, good. But you have taken part in torture that was not yours to take.” Orpheus spoke, “And so you shall feel the pain that you put upon that child Maida.”
“But Master?” the goblin tried to reason.
“No! Anita will suffer Dreidor” Orpheus spoke, refusing to listen to Dreidor’s attempt of reason.
“So now you decide to be such a saint?” Anita managed to speak.
“Silence!” Orpheus yelled, his cry echoing throughout the walls of the cavern.
All of the sudden the pain and suffering Anita had felt has passed. Her feeling returning to its normal state.
“That girl will be healed, do you understand?” Orpheus spoke with great anger.
“Yes . . . Master.” Anita spoke, her left hand holding her throat.
“Get up.” Anita spoke.
Maida opened her eyes, awaking from her slumber. “What is it?” Maida spoke, fear growing in her mind. “What is she going to do with me?” Maida thought.
“Dreidor pick up the girl and take her with me.” Anita spoke, gesturing from Dreidor to Maida.
“Yes, me lady.” Driedor spoke.
The shortish goblin waddled to the young limbless girl who sat on the cobblestone floor, tears beginning to draw away from her eyes; sticking to her eyelashes. Driedor grabbed hold of the youngling child, resting her stomach on his right shoulder, to carry her away.
“Maida! Maida!” Cedric had called when he noticed Maida had left. Once again had she escaped from his grasp. All he could feel was pain, the pain of losing his sister; a pain like no other. “Why? Why did you take her?” he spoke whilst sobbing.
“Oh shut up!” Anita said harshly “Your sister is fine”.
“She is?” Cedric spoke, his head perking up, his tears fading away.
“Yes. She is alright.” Anita spoke, emphasizing ‘yes’. Her head tilted a few degrees to signify her point.
“Where are you taking me!” Maida yelled, throwing her arms at the goblin, wailing incoherent sounds whilst she did so.
“I am not going to hurt you. I am taking you to Orpheus.” Driedor spoke, in hopes of reassuring the girl.
“Orpheus? Anita’s . . . Master?” Maida questioned. Instantly stopping the flailing and wailing. She turned her head to face the goblin’s back. “What does he want with me?” she asked.
“Orpheus, upon hearing of the pain Anita had brought to you, is going to heal you.” the goblin said.
“Heal me? Bring back my legs?!” the girl asked, asking about her legs with a delightful cheer. A sound she hasn’t made in weeks.
“Yes child, bring back your legs. Though I must warn you, with every deed comes a price.” Driedor spoke as he opened the large oaken double doors leading to a room with a table that sat dead-center.
“Set her on the table, Driedor.” Orpheus spoke. Driedor waddled his short legs to the table beside him, lying the girl down upon it.
“Now leave.” Orpheus said, gesturing towards the door.
“Yes, Master.” Driedor spoke, bowing towards Orpheus, exiting the room right after. Leaving Maida and Orpheus alone together.
“Maida is your name, yes?” Orpheus spoke.
“I apologize for the pain you have endured.” Orpheus spoke, staring upon the bandages that cover the girl’s missing limbs.
“But now you shall be healed.” Orpheus said. He walked towards a shelf that stood adjacent to the table. Upon the shelf were many potions, herbs, and powders. “Squirrelshroom gel, willowroot dust, some herbs, some powders.” Orpheus spoke, taking the ingredients from the shelf and setting them down on a wooden workbench below.
He poured the many herbs and gels into a bowl and mixed them. He did the same only this time with the powders, doing this in a different bowl. Once the ingredients were mixed up separately, he poured them all together, creating a gel-like substance.
Orpheus grabbed hold of the bowl and walked over to Maida, he removed the bandages on both sides of her amputated limbs. He stuck both of his decrepit hands into the mixture, then began to gently rub it into the skin and flesh of the wounds.
Slowly, he spoke: “Ha’res le bachrella tu re’mylar la centrok poc hakvar.”
All of the sudden, Maida’s legs began to grow back. The bones that lie in the center of the flesh grew through the newly grown skin, growing outward. Flesh wrapped itself around the bones, the skin following right after.
This was a painful process, Maida had screamed and cried during the growing of her legs. The wound had finally begun to heal, and now the bone and flesh had ripped through it, causing intense pain to the girl.
Then, it was gone. The pain was gone, it had left. Maida perked her head up to view her lying body, and there they were: her legs. She could walk, she could run, she could do anything. Maida lept off the oaken table she’d lied on and had given Orpheus a large hug, speaking: “Thank you so much Orpheus, I will never know how to repay you.” she said.
“As Driedor said, with every deed comes a price. You owe me a quest.” he spoke.
“What is it?“.
“Long ago, when I had cursed these lands to my following and I, I had created a barrier between us and the outside world. I need a gem, a very special gem, one with powers of fire. But, it is located in the Northern Plains, in a cave system that leads far under. I need you to retrieve this gem for me, for only humans can cross the barrier, and creatures, such as I, cannot.” he spoke.
“Orpheus . . . I will do it. May I bring my brother with me?” Maida asked.
“Of course. Exit this room, tell Driedor I told him to release your brother Cedric and bring him to me. Alone.”
“Okay.” she responded.
Maida left the room. Soon after, Cedric had entered. “You fixed her legs! She has legs once more! Thank you Orpheus, thank you!” Cedric said the moment he entered the room.
“Have you made your choice?” Orpheus spoke.
Cedric stood silent.
“Whom will I take to the underworld?” Orpheus spoke.
“Nobody. If you go to the underworld, you shall only take yourself.” Cedric spoke with great courage.
“Ah, I see. Well, there is good news, for both of you children. If the two of you bring back the gem I speak of, your lives will be granted back, and you shall survive the Curse of Orpheus, but if you do not bring the gem back, your lives I will have.” Orpheus spoke.
“Okay.” Cedric said.
“Head North, leave the forest and enter the Northern Plains. There will be a cave that lies near the large oak tree that sits atop the hill. Enter the cave and you shall find a chest, collect the gem and bring it back to me.” Orpheus explained.
“I will.” Cedric said, exiting the room right after.
Maida stood up from the stone-cold ground, ready to meet Cedric as he opened the double oaken doors. He speed-walked to her side and quickly wrapped his arms around her, twisting their bodies together whilst they gave their loving hug.
After just a few seconds, Maida pulled away from Cedric’s grasp, looking into his eyes to speak: “Well?” Maida spoke, referencing the venture to the Northern Plains Orpheus had spoken of.
“To the Northern Plains we walk” Cedric replied, releasing a slight sigh before beginning the sentence.
“Maida, did you get everything I asked of you?” Cedric questioned as he began piling supplies into a satchel sort of bag.
“Yes. Water, bread, cheese, a knife, and some bandages. Right?” Maida spoke, listing the supplies Cedric wanted her to retrieve.
“That’s all of it.” he said, closing the leather-bound satchel. He took hold of the leather strap of the satchel, pulling it around his neck so it hangs to his side.
Orpheus opened the oaken double doors to greet Maida and Cedric. “Follow me” he spoke, beginning to walk up several stairs leading to a far away crevice that housed the light of the sun.
The group made it to the outdoors, breathing in the warm air that surrounded them. Firs encircled the entrance to the cavern, pine needles layering the ground below.
Orpheus looked to Cedric and placed a tightly wrapped scroll in his hands. “Take this, you will need it.” Orpheus spoke.
Cedric unraveled the scroll, for it to reveal a map to the Northern Plains, where he is to retrieve the gem for Orpheus.
“May I ask, why is this gem so important?” Cedric questioned.
“You shall know when you bring it back to me.” Orpheus said in a snappy tone.
“Oh. Okay.” Cedric spoke, sighing right afterword.
Cedric brought the map to eye-level and began to study it. Exit the Black Forest to enter the Gardens of Orphecia, thus exiting that and entering the Forest of the Missing, further entering the Northern Plains. “Oh my. We have quite the trip ahead of us.” Cedric said, huffing at the end.
“How long is it?” Maida asked, making it so she could also view the map Cedric held.
“Long.” Cedric responded, not sure exactly how long the journey is to be.
Cedric rolled up the scroll and placed it in his satchel, then looked at Maida and said: “Are you ready?“.
Maida just stared into the abysmal forest for several seconds, then faced Cedric and spoke: “Yes.“, taking a deep breath before speaking the word.