Monteria: Chapter: Imyrve
Words were spoken and fire appeared at the tip of a girl’s finger. A candle was lit. Its flame flickered rapidly making the shadows inside the room dance in successive wavy movements. Imyrve bore it carefully. Setting fire to a torch nailed to the wall, she felt a gentle rush of warmth wreathing on the skin of her face.
Outside an owl hooted. Its voice echoed repeating itself as it sped traveling towards distant places. It was still night out there. Imyrve wanted to have a look at the bird. From the window, she could see but a pitch black world.
Out of a leather bag set on the bed she drew multiple items. She upturned a small phial on her pinky. With the sweet smelling substance which was in it, she made half circles behind her ears, tipped under her arms, then traced a line on her belly. On her right hand she put a silver bracelet inlaid with cream colored stones. She let fall a pale priestess’s robe on her body. She donned her boots and slid a dagger inside the left one.
At daybreak Imyrve left her chamber. As she was going down, a faint light coming from the hall slightly enlightened the stares. The others are awake. She thought.
The door from which she entered was at the end of the long room. Beside it, a young fire was cracking in the fireplace. At the other end, was the gate that led outside. On the right, there was a lengthy brick counter. An open view on the kitchen was behind it. The rest of the space was filled with chairs and tables.
Her former master Gard was sitting on a bench. His neck turner and his eyes staring vaguely out of the window. He was clutching a cup of mulled wine. Dolly, the young fellow with the soul trapped inside a horse’s body was drinking water from a bucket on the floor. He raised his head and looked in Imyrve’s eyes to welcome her. She stroked the hair on his back and went to sit with Gard.
Seeing that the innkeeper’s wife was also present there, she called,“milk and bread and butter, please”.
Smiling friendly , Gard said,“Good. Eat well. A long day awaits us”.
“Do not worry Gargar. My appetite is unquenchable even in death”.
The man in front of her was twenty nine years of age, yet this unending journey made him look well aged. He had dark circles under his eyes and dry cracked lips. His back was now hunched more than ever. All his features showed signs of weariness. Imyrve sensed that now that they were at the last stage of their quest, his anxiety and tension increased further. She was surely afraid of what was waiting them at the end of the road. Be that as it may she was eager and energetic. Her mind was still well balanced.
If her judgment was correct Dolly seemed alright. He eats and drinks normally. Even so, she could not always comprehend him. At times he becomes cheery, jumps and runs in every direction and fills the world with his loud neighs. In other days he hardly nods when spoken to, she can not tell if there was a living human soul in that horse.
Their journey began when they left the harbor called Boats-Feast in the south western shores of eldariand. Arriving to the east of Marcolon, they crossed the country for it was safer to travel that way, but slower withal. The people that sent them on the quest knew the risks of a voyage by sea. Taking a boat from the Black-Rock, they landed in a small town called the Borders. Now they were in the king’s grave inn and soon will be leaving for the Bright Mountains.
Imyrve guessed that after nearly a year of travel, it was not unusual that her mates were at a bad state. She felt sorry for Gard though. When she was eight years of age he took her as his first apprentice. At that same time he was as old as she was now. For ten years he had been her master, the only fatherly figure she ever known. She had the sense of being protected and safe around him more than when she had been living with her mother as a child. He was kindly and caring towards her, yet she was not fond of the way he treated people, his gloomy side. He frequently showed aggressivity and mistrust when dealing with other mages and common folk.
“Another sleepless night ?“. Asked Imyrve.
“I got few hours before my mind was awake again.” Gard miserably spoke. “fright and doubt won’t leave me be.”
“You worry too much.” She took his hand in hers.“our plans were made by the high Masters. Hardly will something go wrong.”
He ended the talk with a squeeze of her fingers and a gentle,“yes”. He drew his hand.
It was still dark when they set out. The fresh breeze of the morning made Gard shiver. The sky was purple, sprinkled with blurry pale golden stars. Far in front of them, Imyrve beheld green coated hills and valleys. The road twisted and warped following the reliefs of the highlands. Farther, all sight is blocked by the wall of the Bright Mountains. The so called fiery peaks were grey now. The sun will soon be up and it will become hard to stare long at the summit. She thought.
She turned her head to have the last look at the inn. She grew fond of the place in three days only. It was small, clean, and not quite frequented, unlike the crowded filthy places they stayed in during their travel across Marcolon. There was a door in its hall that led to a garden. A great lord’s grave was built in the middle. Imyrve savoured all the hours she spent there, listening to the stories of jenny, the innkeeper’s wife. Apparently some old king died and was buried in that same spot. The wife told her that the grand sire of her husband’s grand sire put up the inn and the garden as a memorial for the lost man.
In Monteria, graves were called round beds. This king’s bed was grey stone and of circular shape. It was surrounded by a ring of water, all covered with rose petals. There was a miniature statue of a crowned man slaying a bear on it.
Even though she already read all about the land when preparing for the trip, Imyrve was well amused by Jenny’s tales. The old woman recounted the history of her region in a folkish enjoyable way, mixing the names of this lord and that king, adding made up events here and there.
Desiring to know what the Montarian folktales tell about the bright mountains, Imyrve had asked her to give her some accounts on the past of the heights which this country was most known for.
“Ages ago, the earliest men set out to roam and populate the lands. They found the mountains, a colossal chain of boulders, cliffs and turf. Many massive bright fire stones that held the sun’s radiance were scattered on top. The view frightened them. They felt so little before something so big, and the wisest and oldest saw the presence of the gods in these peaks which seemed ablaze from afar. And so Monteria they called the realm they set up later. Mountains of flames in the common speech”.Jenny had said.
Imyrve knew of course that there was no earliest men. In fact, the same people who traveled from Eldariand to Marcolon around five thousand years ago, came to populate Monteria after. Before that the continent waw overrun with white lions.
“Through the centuries, few unique people had learnt to master these fire gems to do exceptional things, to produce light and heat, to make hamers shatter the hardest rocks, and all kinds of spells.”
“Then came kolven the second or Boloven was it, I will ask my husband which was it later. Well, a sage king that gave his court the bidding of making mines under the mountains to extract the material. One of his descendants, maybe this one was Boloven, assembled the finest of these spell makers. That is how the notorious enchanters guild was born. The fiery halls were built and the enchanters thrived on making arms for the royal soldiers. The realm grew in power during that time. And until this day folk say that that line of kings was the greatest dynasty Monteria has seen since the dawn of time.”
“It was a dreadful night, when the white lions stormed the Mountains to take back what was theirs. Not a mere pack but thousands of them. It was said that their leader was capable of turning into a man. All the guild’s heritage of knowledge and artefacts was lost, trapped for hundreds of years inside what has become lion territory.”
Imyrve had thought that for a common innkeeper’s wife living far away from the city, Jenny knew a lot about the history of the land. She also wondered if all the montarians were as same as the old woman.
It was nearly noon when their path began to slightly slant upwards. The hill that they were ascending was mantled by a vast field of blood red lavender. Perfectly lined rows of scarlet buchs surrounded them. There was fences separating the road and the plantation. Vertical wooden swords held together by two horizontal poles. Every six feet or so, stood spruce carved ferrets carrying the highest pole in their mouths. Climbing vines with a sharp biting smell accompanied with notes of sweetness, was coiled around the sculpted wood. A buzzing sound filled the landscape. “The kingdom of bees”, whispered Gard.
A short while after, they reached the top of the hill. Imyrve swept her eyes about the area. Spotting a crouched peasant within the field, she said , “let me do the talking.”
“Won’t utter a word.” Answered Gard.
Before long they heard, “oi you! This is me lord Dardwick’s property and you would better get ...“, then he paused taking a long look at them,“oh, me apologies priests, me withered eyes did not recognize the robes.”
“No harm is done, sir.” She reassured.
“I am no sir,” he chuckled, “only a servant”
“Are we not all servants?” She replied wisely, just as what a real priestess would do. “What is your name, blessed man?”
“Anvelbe, me lady.”
“I’m no lady either, Anvelbe.”
“What is yours then.”
“Might i ask about you business in these lonely parts.”
“We make godly work, restoring wise circles all around Aysgrath.” She said.
Getting down from her horse and stepping towards him, she examined him closely. The man seemed old and bended. He stood leaning a spade. His hair was white. The tunic and trousers he wore, were extremely worn. His boots were in a better shape.
“We were told about one. Set beyond this hill.”
“All this land is called the kingdom of bees. Past this field you will find a yeffer forest. This same path will lead you inside it. A tower stands amid the trees. The circle is found beside it.”
“Thank you Anvelbe. We will pray on your health.”
Ahead of the hill, stretched a grassy valley. At its farthest parts sprawled the golden forest they were heading to.
They made it to the edge of the woods after an hour of march. The road split into a two tined fork. One path went on forward in the direction of the mountains. The other ran its course through the forest.
Imyrve felt grateful that the old man did not address Gard. Even at his age, her former master had not learned how to properly communicate with others. His life has not been quite an easy one. He had told her all about it.
His father had been a powerful and proud merchant. He had been the main trader that Eseryl the third and his court had dealt with. For nearly eleven years he had supplied all the king’s feasts with the most expensive wines and meats. Eseryl’s wife and her friends had dressed in his fine silks and jewelry.
His mother had been popular and well acclaimed and a very close companion to the queen and her daughters. Her advice and views had been greatly praised.
Despite the fact that they had been low born and without being members of the king’s council, Gard’s parents had had control and power over it.
When he had been born the midwife deemed him as frail and week, and had said that he would not survive for long. To her eyes, he had seemed too tiny to be a healthy ordinary child. Yet he lived.
As a young boy Gard had been sickly and often had needed the presence of a healer at their household. Some years after, it had appeared that the boy had had no interest in kids’ games and no skill at sword play or riding. Yet he showed a pronounced eagerness for books and history. And so his mother made sure he got the finest teaching there was
“All of that ended once Cerel, Eseryl’s brother, took the crown. Folk had named him the pleasant king for all the wickedness he had done. My parents, especially my mother and her companions at court had shown their disagreement with the way he Cerel ruled”.Gard had told Imyrve.”
“A word from his grace and all his opposers were slaughtered, their homes burned and their children enslaved…”
Yeffer grew neither in Eldariand nor in Marcolon. Its colors had amazed Imyrve when she had first landed on this country. The bark on its trunk was made of long roughly cracked patches of dirty dark brown. The crown of the tree was thick with golden liefs that made it glow radiantly under the rays of the sun. In summer, elongated fruits with an inky black color sprouted from its branches.
The area about them swarmed with yeffer and was flecked here and there with dark spruce. The dirt lane they were following was overrun with thick grass. Bees were whizzing around the flowering trees in masses. The forest floor was carpeted with green short swards. Shaded flowers and fat bogging mushrooms thrived under the shadows of the trunks.
They were not very far incide the woods when they heard the burble of a flowing stream. It was as clear as glass and no more than five feet of width. The rill went through the road and made a deep round pool where it crossed it. Its bed was paved with many sized smooth rocks. They traversed it, refilled their water skins, watered the horses, then went on.
At dusk they arrived at their destination. The absence of trees made a large square of free space. In the middle stood a great ring-shaped tall tour. Three feet of green bush walls was about it. The top of the building was garlanded with an immense number of mud nests. Grey winged birds with white bellies flitted in and out of their homes.
They left the river well behind, yet from inside the walls came a sound of water-rushes. The way which led within was barred by a tall gate of faded silver color. It was made of many swerving metal tongues in the likeness of vines. Its locked latch was located on its inner side, even so it could be reached from the outside. There was a wooden sign on top. These words were inscribed on it, ’Holy garden, The kingdom of bees, 943 AAOSM”. (After the appearance of the second moon).
Gard passed his hands between the bars and with much effort lifted the latch for it was rustes and has not been moved for quite a time. He pushed the gate with the last drop of power that was left in him then sat exhaustingly where the gate once stood shut. He appeared worn out and pale faced. He breathed heavily.
“I am going to have a look around the walls.” Imyrve said with a high voice as if speaking with an old person.“We will have dinner and rest after. Just be stronger for a bit more.”
The sky was growing dim and the sun was shying away behind the mountains. Murky shadows spread under the trees. For a short while Imyrve stood with closed eyes, listening to the music of the woods; the gentle cries of birds, the sound of the dancing grass, the murmur of the slithering air on tree leaves and far away trunks moaned in a crackling resonance.
what an enchanting place!. Though she did not consider herself as a great traveler nor did she journeyed that much, she supposed that Monteria was the most beautiful land on Arath.
Since she have been here, she came to agree with the words of the well revered eldariandi poet Doris broken-wing. A crippled boy who grew up to roam all the known lands and seas and to write many widespread common songs. Only few lines of his portrayal of this continent could she recall:
Her wild heart which was already aflame,
All men desperately longed to tame,
Her beauty put all the other ladies to shame,
Monteria was the precious maiden’s name.
The history of the realm this country had once been was packed with struggles and battles, yet its landscape seemed untouched by man’s hands, untainted with his befouled work of war. The local architecture gave Imyrve an impression that the buildings blended so well with the wildlife. Everything that commons constructed looked as if it has been part of the scenery since the beginning.
She drew a dagger from her boots, pivoted it in her hand so that the blade was hidden behind her arm. She went to do her inspection.
Upon her return to the gate, Dolly was uneasily nuzzling the face of a collapsed Gard. She ran toward them. Her companion waw breathing heavily and shivering with fever. She put his arm around her neck and pulled him up trying to drag his body into the tower. She was surprised when she found herself an hour later succeedingly making him a bed and lowering his heat.
Outside she found a pale of damp mouldy firewood. There was a good amount. She doubted that the logs were in a great state to produce rich flames, yet the wood burned fine as she kindled it in the fireplace. She put water in a kettle and brought it to boil, then tossed some potatoes and carrots that she got from Jenny for a coppery rofin.
(A golden coin is called bin, silver coins are called dins. The copper one is a rofin.)
When the soupe was nearly ready, she put few herbs that she picked on the river side earlier that day. Waking Gard, she gave him a warm bowl. “Eat slowly, there is yellow-feire and wolf-tongue in it (Herbs), it will help to ease the weariness”. He thanked her. She ate hastily, then went out to take care of the horses.
Dolly was chomping leaves from a shrub near the door of the tower. The other mounts were some feet away from him. She took them by their leads and moved to close the outer gate. Then it occurred to Imyrve that she has not yet explored the inside of the walls. There was a stone paved track which led from the entrance to the tower. At either side, thorn flowers spread viciously, entangled and arose high.
She walked past the tower, to the rear side of the garden. There, in the midst of the bushes was a pot shaped fountain dubbed with foamy algae. Some feet to the left, a well was dug and built. It was covered by a round trapdoor-like assembled wood planks. Finding a source of water cheered her up. She unloaded and released the animals to water them selfs.
Beyond the fountain, a wise circle was laid. Constructed of grey marble. An empty pool was in its centre. This is a modest one. Usually the widows yards had all sort of paintings, carvings and sculptures on them. The folk in Monteria were boastfully proud about their religion. Imyrve realised that once she perceived the costly expenses that were spent on the circles.
The skies were almost entirely dark as she entered the tower again. The building was quite spacious. A stair swiveled upwards around a pillar which stood in the middle of the base. Gard, not shivering anymore, was seated near the fire with his back to the wall. She moved past him and climbed the stairs.
The second floor was all empty but for a desk. Its top was covered by a mass of letters. Imyrve found a book buried among the papers. The songs of the gods.
A drawing of the widow was on the cover. The illustration was framed by an egg-shaped silver chain. The goddess was bathing in the shafts of the sunlight. Her hair fell on her back and shoulders in curtains of dense white silk. Although her face was peaceful and serene, her jaws were tense and tightened. On her lap sat two twin infants.Veya and Vadey, the mother and father of all men. One of her elder children was holding a golden crown over her head. Behind the figures, the world unfolded with all its stars and colors.
Imyrve discerned the moons, tiny as pearls, set on the widow’s rings. She opened the book on the fourth page.The second song, were the words written at the top of the sheet. She read the verses that were in front of her:
Through the wide dark world they flew, Fashioning the expanse as they wish,
Yet in the heart of the lady sadness grew,
For she could never feel no joy or bliss,
And only her mate knew what to do,
This curse of futility i can vanquish,
To her he vowed,
Vowed that her desires will come true,
Their gloom and despair he would banish,
So many a thing all together he brew,
Still what came out could not be but devilish,
To end it, all his vigour and power on it he threw,
Her wishes, the lady was now compelled to relinquish.
The lord brawled with all his might,
The strength of darkness was too great,
Its strikes shone awfully bright,
On the lord it put an extensive weight.
His determination for triumph was tested,
Chaotic was the music their clash emitted,
Space and time were briskly shattered,
His doomed destiny the lord accepted.
Dominion and control he had no more,
The pressure of the blows shook his core,
At the devil’s soul in despair he tore,
Thus their vital parts they could not restore.
Light and warmth swarmed the emptiness,
Suddenly, a cry of hope echoed widely,
The shake its Weight set on the world was endless,
The grace of the newborn sun was holy, Rock and water danced in a grand mess,
From it, green things sprouted rapidly,
Air was made of scents and dampness,
Up above, the golden stars burned hotly,
Mountains arose to a great highness,
Life was shaped into beings slowly,
Yet the fading of her mate the lady had to witness,
She felt the future in her belly lastly.
For a brief moment, Imyrve was filled with a great sense of hope. Then remembering how close to their destination they were, the feeling left her at once. She shut the manuscript and went down to make her bed.
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