Tuesday, July 31, 2018

A Lady's Prerogative Book II: Wounded Aerth - Part XIII

Shaela Becomes


Her pale skin despite its elusive emission held its silence in the darkness of the night.


Shaela's eyes pieced the air and she spied his front door looking through it and beyond as she approached it quietly. Within lay a man who contemplated what he'd been taught by the Culdar Rath. They'd kept their secret long enough and soon was coming the time when they would take hold of the entire colony. Their true name revealed to the public then, where they would learn of the new history that Culdar Rath had for them.


Shaela waited just outside of the front door to the house, waiting for Halden to catch up. She would need his help, but she was well prepared for her night even if he didn't. When Halden arrived she put her finger to her mouth signaling him not to speak. She then began casting, making no noises as she did. Every weave Shaela knew could be cast silently, though the verbally cast counterparts were often more powerful. This was amongst the first of teachings for those in the Order Of The Night Wytch.


Halden watched in amazement and fear as she moved her hands through the air gracefully. They flowed in a rhythm of their own, blurring until they were imperceivable. Then she stopped. Halden looked around as the fog settled in around the house. It was so thick that he could not see more than two feet in any direction except the house itself.


"That will keep the others at bay for now and keep our voices from piecing the night." Shaela said to Halden.


“But how do we see out?” Halden asked her.


“We don't. I do. I can see everything within the fog.” Shaela assured him.


She could see all within the fog and even further. The fog increased her awareness, even in directions that she was not looking. She could hear what was said within it, and she could see who or what moved through it. All of it.


"Alright. I need you to convince him to let us in. Tell him I'm your lost sister or whatever we need to in order to get in. I don't want him harmed until we know what he knows." Shaela asked Halden.

"Alright. You're my sister then. You arrived two days ago on the last supply Galleon, the Damsel Doubloon." Halden started.


"What's a Doubloon?" Shaela asked him.


"A coin made from poured gold." Halden told her.


"Alright. The Golden Lady. How sweet. My name then is Selana though we won't be using any of this for long." Shaela told him.


"Well, we might need this ruse again soon." Halden suggested.


"True. Let's get in there. I want to get some answers from him." Shaela stood next to him at the door.


Shaela pulled a veiled cap from her dress and put it upon her head, pulling a slightly translucent veil across her face enough to hide it and her striking hair colour.


Halden knocked, gently at first then a bit louder after he remembered the fog.


"Horace! Open the door. I was on my way home when this spell of weather struck!" Halden yelled then turned to look at Shaela.


"Sorry my dear Selana." Halden said to her, winking his eye.


"Hold your saddle, Halden and if ya'd like ya can hold your breath too." there was a bit of scuffling behind the door then the sound or a heavy latch.


The door opened and a portly man stood before them in his sleeping gown.


"Well, you've got some company I see. I'm Horace." the man smiled revealing a mouth bereft of teeth.


"Horace, this is Selana. She just arrived on the Damsel Doubloon and is staying with us." Halden nodded to Horace.


"Yes, I think I've seen you about town a few times. I'm sorry for your deceased husband." Horace said politely to Shaela though unable to recognize her.


Shaela flinched momentarily thinking about the Magistrate.


"That is quite alright. Yes it was quite painful and I may never be over it. This town is a nice way to start again. Yes, well I do like this place. So much going on right now with the hunt." Shaela poured a thick drawl onto her voice.


"How rude of me. Come in, though I haven't much to offer you." Horace let them into his house and led them into a sitting room.


The house itself was well constructed and quaint but ill cared for by its resident. He sat across from his guests.


"So besides the weather, what brings you to my humble abode?" Horace asked.


"Just shelter from the coming storm I suppose. You should be prepared." Shaela answered unsettling Horace.


Horace was not used to such a lady who would speak out of turn.


"Storm? Oh, the storm. Yes well the weather can get quite nasty at times but its mostly peaceful in these parts." Horace said uneasily.


"The cavaliers left a day and some ago. Apparently there is a big storm coming that they've been dispatched to clean up." Halden said to Horace firmly.


"Yes and after my day with the Magistrate yesterday, I thought it might be good to pay you a visit." Shaela said shedding a little of the drawl in her speech.


Horace was clearly unnerved and taken aback.


"What is the meaning of this? Why did you come here? Why did you allow this... Hussie into my house Halden?" Horace stood backing away from them.


Shaela shed her cap and veil revealing her identity to Horace who stifled a scream.


"He was my love. You took his life. He'd nought been with another for many years and when he'd opened up to me, you took him away!" Shaela's rage crept out of her.


"What are you talking about?! What is this nonsense? Halden! Take this tramp from the house immediately!" Horace demanded.


"You have answers to give her. To give us and the colony. This madness has come to an end." Halden told him calmly.


"It seems that you have come face to face with your worst nightmare. You gave the orders to have him killed, didn't you." Shaela stood stepping towards him, her eyes glowing with fury.


Horace cowered in terror flailing down the wall he'd backed himself into. Her form had become terrifying as had her voice. She appeared a horrible caricature of how the hunters had painted the Wytch kind to the colony.


"No! No! I'd never do such a thing! The orders were given me by the hunters." Horace responded throwing his nightmare something to keep her at bay.


"Since when do the hunters set policy above colonial law or run the legal enforcement of West View?" Shaela demanded of him as he whimpered on the floor.


"They are the colony's partners. We are in this together against the likes of you!" Horace justified the unjustifiable.


"Partners in crime or the real criminals. A death squad who vilifies and kills to make vessels to contain the sin of others? Why I hear they even stole a number of paintings that Widow Tanara had been working on before the hunt. The thief even signed them, claiming the credit for having painted them. So they stole her life, made her responsible for their sins, and then stole the credit for her art work as well. How many others have they done the same to? A hundred? A thousand? Where does it end?" Shaela remembered the details Evan had given her about the case that had spawned the whole wytch hunt.


"Maybe it doesn't! The weak always feed the strong. She and her pitiful husband were weak despite the fact that he was growing more successfully as a farmer than his neighbours. If you cannot protect what is yours, then is it really yours? If others stand against you to claim it isn't, then maybe it isn't. Maybe they were not part of the great plan. Maybe they were lambs for the slaughter! Meant to feed those of us whose claim it was to rightfully take credit for their efforts while we absolved ourselves of our wrong doing by placing it upon them. The greatest sacrifice that the weak can make for the chosen. Who wouldn't want to be a part of such a wonderful plan?" Horace spit as he spoke.


"At this moment I am chosen to deal with you, the weak. How fond are you of that plan? Yours are the vile words and beliefs of many who've etched their name upon history and left nothing but death and destruction in their wake. It is not a plan but a scheme. A con. Cheating innocents from their life and truth to feed the lies and lives of others while they stand absolved of their sins by placing them upon those innocents they felled? I say live by the sword, die by the same. This is a nice home you have here and I am in the market. So I should just kill you, take your home, belongings, accomplishments and then pile my transgressions upon you. Who would know? There are none who could see through this fog. You'd pass in the night and nobody would shed a tear for you. What do you think your friends, the hunters would do? They'd pile their sins upon you too and bury you a guilty man and your name despite the truth would be etched in the annals of history as a sinning nobody while they would be clean. You weren't a part of the great plan after all you weak wretch! I mean that's how it is when might means right." Shaela grew in ferocity.


Horace shrunk before her and would have crawled between the gaps in the floor boards to get away from her. Halden watched as he shook clearly terrified by the presence of the Night Wytch. After a long moment of silence he finally broke.


"It was Exeter! The orders came directly from him!" Horace cried as her visage grew more and more vile with each moment that passed yet somehow retaining Shaela's original beauty.


"Exeter is not an elected or appointed official of this colony! How is it that he has the power to order executions!" Shaela yelled at him.


"I... I don't know!" Horace cried.


"Because wretches like you will follow them! So Exeter ordered you to have the colony armed guard murder the Magistrate? I'd say we have a case now don't we?" Shaela looked to Halden.


"Help! Help! Wytch! I'm being attacked!" Horace screamed.


"Nobody will hear your cries this night, and those that do are going to ignore them." Shaela told him.


Shaela stared at this man who'd carried out the orders that resulted in the taking of her love's life. She struggled with her rage against him and against the hunters. His life was meaningless as were the lives of those who had taken part in this hunt that found its wings in the murder of a Widow.


Shaela fought with the temptation to just kill this wasted man. She'd be delivering the kind of justice he'd likely dispatched to so many and she fought with the intensity of her feelings for the Magistrate before a familiar pair of voices spoke to her from within.


"Shaela. You have succeeded. Horace must live to testify against the hunters and Exeter. Halden must be protected too as he is witness to Horace's confessions and much more. Only then will this madness be undone and shall the truth be restored. Don't become as they try to paint you and others. Your calling is to preserve truth and protect the people with your great abilities. Not to become as the monsters the hunters profess to hunt. They are those monsters, not you. Don't fall to that path. You will only give credence to their cause and their supporters will grow. Protect them." Evan's voice spoke, alternating with that of the Magistrate to calm her long enough to gain her senses.


Shaela stood silently breathing heavily clenching her fists.


"Damn you!" she finally said to Horace.


Halden looked to her giving time for her to return from her pain before she spoke.


"They're here. They're approaching the house." Shaela said aloud though her voice was distant.


Outside the hunt had begun. The fog had extended itself for a mile away from the house, nearly encompassing the town to the strip. The hunters had gathered a sizable force and had proceeded into the fog in the direction of Horace's house. They would arrive within the next twenty minutes.


"Halden. We must protect him at all costs. I am going to transport the two of you somewhere safe, where you will stay with him. I am going to stay here and deal with the hunters. You must make sure the truth makes it to Evan or to another representative of the colony that we trust. I don't know who is left, but there must be someone." Shaela's fierce visage faded and she had become herself once again.


"Alright. Horace, you're coming with me. I am placing you in the confines of the law for treason against the elected and appointed officials of the colonial government as stated in the Colonies Of The Americas Act. You will be kept in custody until a time that you will be required to stand before a court to face the charges against you..." Halden told him his rights and placed Horace under arrest though where he was going to bring him he had no idea.


Shaela by that point had already started summoning a portal that led to the stable outside of Evan's home. They would likely be safer there than here for they too would become targets of the hunters. What they knew was too valuable and they were witnesses in this investigation just the same.


"You must step towards that vessel of energy before you. It will take you to where you need to go. You will recognize it when you arrive. Go I say and without pause lest I get angry! Shaela ordered them.


Halden forced Horace through first, readying his arquebus in case he needed it on the other end. Horace struggled as Halden forced him towards the portal. Upon contacting it, he quickly disappeared and reappeared three miles away, outside of town near Evan's home.


"Be well and safe Lady Shaela. We will meet again." Halden said before stepping into the the mystical well Shaela had summoned for them.


The portal fizzled and disappeared as soon as Shaela's effort to sustain yielded. Horace was apprehended and Halden was no doubt safe and she'd succeeded at great cost.


"We did it." she said to herself quietly speaking to Evan and the Magistrate.


In the silence the hunters closed in towards the house. She could feel them and their presence through the fog. Some were fearful and others were full of hatred. They were there to kill her and anyone else in the house though she did not need the extra sensory awareness the fog had provided her to know that. It was time to summon her protector and to make her stand on what would be the longest night of her life.



A Sign Of Hope


Jasmer walked ahead of her in the distance as she wearily strode the gravel road. He feet stung as she took step, feeling each of the stones beneath her feet. She knew them intimately for the pain they'd caused her. Jasmer kept his pace ahead of her from within a hooded cloak he kept his silence.




She could tell it was him by his steady walk, and though he didn’t have his walking stick with him, he seemed to be doing fine. She stumbled as she attempted to catch up, there was so much to talk about. For one, she wanted to know why he’d been behaving so strangely. Kept. Distant. She stumbled and fell when her heel pressed a small rock into her cartilage. He kept walking not even stopping to see how she was doing. That was when the tears came and they flowed. She awoke as one dripped from her face onto the stone floor of the Sanctum.




She sat up, startled by the sounds of a battle being fought not too far off. She suddenly remembered where she was and how she’d gotten there. The sound of a quick pace and foot fall to match came from the cooridor behind her and before she could move, someone had tripped over her landing atop of her.




“Feylashar?” Yirfir said startled and in pain.




“Yirfir?” Feylashar returned, shocked by the face beneath hers.




Feylashar got to her feet immediately, holding her hands out in front of her as she probed Yirfir’s presence for any injuries. She’d felt a little emotional pain but nothing physically hampering to Yirfir.




“I’m fine! What is happening? How far has the battle gone?” Yirfir demanded of the healer.




“The battle started about four hours ago and has been continuing to excalate as the Sanctum’s defenses grow weary. The Itanicarum was sent forth about twenty minutes ago and has been keeping a good part of their forces busy while we tend to healing and repairs. We’re still outnumbered but holding. I was just on my way to the north wall to tend to a group of elementalists there fighting off some of the aerial Norbids.” Feylashar spoke catching her breath.




"Let us go there together and I shall join this battle. Let us hope that I can assist and help turn the tide of this battle.” Yirfir got her bearing and started running in the direction of the north stair well.




Feylashar calmed herself enough to follow Yirfir up the stairs and onto the north wall. They arrived up on the wall just as Thara had dispatched a Norbid. A long sinewy shadow form tentacle released the Norbid from its death grip. The tentacle disappeared into the walls from whence Thara had summoned it.




“Thara!” Yirfir yelled as she emerged from the tower stairwell.




“Yirfir. And none too soon do you join this battle. Welcome back my friend.” Thara greeted her as she began casting another barrier to envelope the hole the Norbids had managed to puncture in the exterior wall of the Sanctum. A group of elementalists helped her to reinforce it with their combined energy.




Yirfir peered out onto the battlefield where the Itanicarum was dismantling a catapult and flinging the parts across the forces of the Culdar Rath.




It had sustained some injuries itself and had lost a section of armour from its breast plate when one of the senior Norbid mages was sent to deal with the metal beast. The Norbid himself had nearly unfooted the Itanicarum after removing a section of its armour with its metalurgical knowledge of alchemy and transmutation craft. The Itanicarum stumbled and caught its balance before picking up and tossing a tremendous boulder upon the Norbid and a section of his men in a battle that would only be known by the survivors in the mid-space the Sanctum occupied.




Just outside of the walls of the Sanctum, the remaining forces of the Norbids and Culdar Rath were being held at bay by a make shift energy shield. Which the elementalists had been working on maintaining in shifts. The Culdar Rath and Norbids had adjusted their strategy and sent in a flotilla of aerial Norbids to dispatch the casters up on the walls of the Sanctum. The Norbid avians were quickly brought down by Thara and some of the other elementalists though many of Thara's forces fell to the wrath of the avians. Their bodies scattered the floor of the upper north wall, for Yirfir and Feylashar to see.




Feylashar wasted no time quickly checking each of the bodies for signs of life or recent death. She was exhausted by her efforts in healing the front line mages who'd fought to defend the Sanctum after the energy shield had collapsed under the onslaught of the catapults. Now she was busy tending to the elementalists who were left in order to make sure the barrier didn't break. If the Itanicarum fell, there would be nowhere to turn but inside where the fighting would be furious down to the last Mage and Wytch.




"Yirfir there's a line of Kakenbacks attempting to break through the elemental barrier. We need reinforcements at once or its going to come down!" yelled one of the elementalists whose energy reserves were dwindling as he quickly approached the point of exhaustion.




"I'll handle them. Thara, I'd like you to cover my back if you could be so kind. Feylashar, you're in charge up here. Keep this barrier intact and if you have it in your beauty, help the fallen you can revive. We'll need everyone we can get." Yirfir lay the plan before them and they approved.




Yirfir's energy reserves had multiplied many times over being this close to the Sanctum, and her link to the midspace elemental reserves. She was many times more powerful as a result of this proximity and planned to use it to turn the tide of this battle. She began casting an elemental aurum which enveloped her as she floated into the air. Her bodily aura extended in an aetherial wisp, surrounding her form, much like the shield that surrounded the Sanctum. She floated off the top of the castellan and proceeded down to the dark and rocky crags of the midspace ground. Thara followed her atop the shadow avian which had sustained wounds but was still healthy and strong.




Yirfir passed through the barrier first followed by Thara as they emerged a league from the Kakenbacks. They were large magical mountable beasts used by the Culdar Rath often when in battle against powerful magics. Kakenbacks could store up magical energy that was cast at them and invert the spell back at the caster. They also could store up the magical energy of any attack used against them for any spell casting they or their riders could cast. Their front and broadside was protected by a natural chitinous armour. They were particularly effective against elementalists but they too had their weaknesses. They were devouring the elemental energy of the barrier and using it to fuel attacks against the Itanicarum. Their riders were a task Norbids, who were regular and versatile troops often used for many generalized purposes by the Culdar Rath and the Power Lords.




As Yirfir flew forward one of the Kakenbacks noticed her, feeling her presence and the warp in the aether her presence created. The rider immediately pulled the reigns of the beast and directed it to charge at her. The beast channeled an enormous electrical bolt across its armour, where it sizzled across its surface held like a battery waiting to burst forth.




Yirfir approached the beast firing a barrage of wind blades at its rider. The Norbid dodged as they flew in getting clipped by the last one, leaving a gaping wound on its right shoulder. With its other hand it leveled a small crossbow at Yirfir and fired a lethal dart towards her sternum. The dart hit her aurum and disintegrated, flying into tiny flecks of metal.




She fired a bolt of lighting at the beast, which held its energy along with the trap it had packed onto its armour. Thara fired a barrage of shadow quills, which flew through the air slicing it and piecing the outer armour of the Norbid who fell motionless in his saddle before sliding down the side of the Kakenback and rolling to a stop. The Kakenback continued forward on determination and without guidance it was an even more deadly adversary.




Yirfir attempted to get Thara free of the path of the beast only to take the brunt of the impact herself. She flew through the air having taken the stored charge within the Kakenback's armour. Her aurum had nearly dissolved in the energy of the charge burst but still remained. She landed tumbling to her feet. She immediately welled up a flare of aetherial energy in her hands, holding it in an orb out in front of her. She flew at the beast as it approached Thara and her mount in attempt to gore them both with its armour. Yirfir hit the beast's face with the orb and the beast's eyes rolled, disappearing into its head a it shook. With a final scream it fell beside them.




"Ohhh, I like that. What was that?" Thara asked her.




"That's one that Feylashar taught me." Yirfir told her as she caught her breath.




"What does it do?" Thara continued.




"It heals. The beast must have tried to invert it. I was hoping for that." Yirfir replied.




"That's a trick I'll have to remember." Thara told her.




"One down, seven more to go." Yirfir yelled and Thara continued forth.




Up on the wall, the effect was immediate. The barrier strengthened as the Kakenback had died and the elementalists keeping the barrier were relieved just slightly leaving Feylashar time enough to attempt to revive the fallen.




"There's hope after all." she said quietly to herself.




The Two Twins


The waves crashed the shores of the island relentlessly as the twins from two distant times appeared in its middle. Nelony of the new looked upon the site with familiarity that seemed lost to time. It had no meaning now. They were as much two different places as they were two different times. She'd been here just days ago with the powers of the Gods in her hands. Now she was just Nelony of the new, here on this island beside Nelony of the True.




Where Nelony of the old had virtue, honour and valor, she had insecurity, fear and self loathing. Though she'd gotten the mountain off of her shoulders she felt helpless against the foes they were about to face. She was not even close to the lady that a distant time had produced. So much courage and determination from so much pain.




"Nelony, you must not focus on your faults. Do you think that your friends evaluate you in such a way? You must shed your pain for this conflict. When you feel doubt, ask yourself the questions you are most afraid to ask. Then ask yourself if it really matters as much as you give it weight. If it does, then prove your doubt wrong. Take it as a challenge, not as an edict." Nelony of the True spoke.




"Virtue is not just believing in others and yourself. It is believing in others and yourself even when you have no evidence that such belief will make a difference. Those who persist never fail. Those who give up defeat themselves. Don't defeat yourself sister. The world needs you. We need you." Nelony Theearin of the True spoke and the voice of the ancients listened.




The island began to hum and shudder. Around them the spirits appeared, each in turn. The spirits of the skies, of the ocean, of the land, of the animals and myriad creatures, of the stars. The spirits of the elders and shamans from every part of the world since its birth and the birth of the creatures upon it. The Aerth Mother had returned and the time had come to overturn the judgement passed against it. The Aerth. Nelony was never to become the destroyer. That fate was never meant for her.




Her fate was to become the Redeemer.




The twins of the Culdar Rath had arrived to destroy the civilizations of all humankind and subjugate the world to their ways. To undo the yearning and the learning to make way for the dawn of ignorance.




Nelony`s fate, both old and new was to undo this judgement and to redeem the world so that life could once again begin and progress through the stages of the yearning and the learning. So that we might learn that we are not the landlords here but merely the residents, who share this world with the other creatures of the world in all the varieties of life and living there is. The world we inherit when we are born is a living breathing wonder of existence bristling with life. The world we leave must be the same for if it is not, the world of the newly born will no longer be alive.




Nelony was here to redeem as much as she was to teach, but first there was the issue of the Twins Of The Culdar Rath.




"You have been called forth once again by the Lobeeshtofah. This is not your first time here and you shall leave soon to do battle with the greatest foe this Aerth has ever known. One of you will not return it grieves me to tell you." the Elder Shaman stepped forward to address the two ladies who stood before him.




"We have called upon you so that all the spirits of the Aerth may bequeath to you the great power. The power of the Aerth Mother to do battle with the Twins of old. They must fall so that the Aerth may be reborn, a fertile beauty as she once and always will be." Samaht the Elder Lady spoke.




"It will be as it once was. Do well by all the creatures of the Aerth, great and small. They are with you." Samaht spoke as the humming and changing began.




As they had from every continent of the Aerth, the tribes the world over, new and eld chanted, summoning the great spirit to bestow the Aerth Mother power upon them. The Aerth listened and all of the creatures and living became manifest above them.




A large burst of energy emanating from the ocean slowly crept its way to land encompassing the entirety of the island. The two ladies stood before Samaht who bowed down before them as the great spirit made way. The air around around them flared and the energy streamed into them spiraling inward from the exterior of the island in a clockwise fashion. The spiral found its center in the Nelony of new slowly encompassing her within its energy. Another spiral grew from within Nelony of the True, expanding in a counterclockwise direction outward from her. Where the two spirals overlapped, a rainbow of energy emanated and illuminated the island and all the spirits in its light casting shadows in the stormy air. The sky around them cleared as the spirals increased in speed and with a final climax, a shockwave was sent forth from the island expanding outward clearing the clouds from the sky.




Nelony of the old and Nelony of the new stood before spirits, who slowly disappeared as they proceeded to the edges of the island.




Samaht stood before them.




"One must go east and one must go west. The both of you will heal the lands as you do and restore life and balance as you do. One the other side of the Aerth is where you will encounter the Twins you seek. There, our fate will be decided. I bid you farewell. May you not fail us." Samaht spoke one last time before disappearing.




"My sister. I shall see you on the other side. Be safe and well." Nelony of the True floated into the air and to the west while Nelony of the new floated into the sky and to the east.




They healed the lands of the Aerth as they flew and the damage left by the Twins of the Culdar Rath was undone as they went.




On the other side of the Aerth, their fate and ours awaited them.

















To be continued...


Copyright © 2018 Brian Joseph Johns