You must login to vote
Greetings readers and writers. This is episode Six in the Edendorn series. The first episode "The Gates of Edendorn", which was created as a stand-alone short story, is currently being transferred into graphic novel form by the artist John Lynch who originated the idea of the Blind Bowman with a series of drawings and paintings. Mareena the water elemancer has been renamed Orinaiya after suggestions from PeterP and Philo. An M rating applies.
The story so far,
On another world, not so far away,
After escaping from political arrest in Sofia, two young royals and two wanderers are rescued from giant flying reptiles, the Sythe, by the blind bowman. Guided by this super-sensed colossus, they seek a path to New Edendorn under the mountain ranges and through the catacombs of ancient Edendorn, the so-called City at the Center of the Sun, a city of gold and jewel encrusted tombs set in a spacious man-made cavern. Here they are attacked by Elemancers - magicians or mancers who control an elemental such as Air or Fire and their minions. The party has been split apart, and the Sofian pursuers employing Kirrabelli tribesman as trackers and mercenaries have caught up with them. One of the party has already fallen in battle; another kidnapped by a giant rock creature that disappeared into the cavern wall; another trapped inside a cell of air bubbles in a tower high above the cavern floor where the blind bowman battles on against super-natural and human enemies....
Chi fell onto his side on the white temple step. He could feel the life draining out of him. The smell of sweat and blood filled his nose. Alexis shrieked and called his name. He could see her arms and head poking out of the small hole partways up the half-pyramid of the Temple of Kiami. Chi wished Alexis would hide before the mercenaries grabbed her. An arrow sizzled by his ear and splattered the face of a bearded warrior about to bring a spiked war-hammer down upon his head. The stout warrior plummeted backwards down the white staircase. Chi felt a shadow looming over him and saw two broad arms sweep the air with a skull-head bow.
The bowman's sweeping blow cleared six of the attackers off the steps, two cracking their skulls as they landed and lay dying; three in various states of distress from broken bones and internal injuries. One was impaled on the horned skull of the bow, writhing in agony from the wound in his chest.
The mercenaries hesitated, waiting for reinforcements to join them. The big blind bowman lifted the bow with one prodigious arm and slowly pulled the now-limp figure free of the spike. He held the burly warrior in one outstretched arm as if he were weightless and threw him far from the temple over the heads of the warriors to land crumpled on the cavern floor at the foot of the Sofian marshal Urgan.
Urgan ignored the figure, shouting instructions from the rear. "Spread out and some of you men get above him. Surround him and attack all at once!" The Sofian Marshall gazed up at the giant figure feeling an intense focus reflected back.
"Archers!" Urgan called to three men at the rear readying their bows. "Hurry up! Hurry up! Put some haste into it!"
His warning came too late. The blind bowman had already sensed these three figures with his super-sense of hearing and echo-location. Drawing three quivers he fired one after the other with such speed that he used the one draw of the bowstring to fire one, then fitting, aiming and firing the other two as the string still reverberated back and forth from the first extension and release. Almost as one the three archers were struck, the arrows smashing through their bows first, breaking them in two before piercing the heart of each man.
One of the warriors on the lower steps of the temple lost his nerve, and turned to flee. He took only a few steps when one of Urgan's throwing stars struck him square between the eyes and he fell lifeless to the cold stone of the cavern floor. The remainder of the Terrikan warriors growled or cursed at Urgan but turned back to face the bowman. The muscular hulk stood in front of the fallen Chi on the step below in a pool of blood from his fallen comrade. The blood ran down this step to the next and the next snaking it's way to the level where a large black marble statue of a Sythe stood guard over the entrance to the Temple of Kiami interior.
The men fanned out and began to flank the bowman by climbing wide and high around him. Two fell on his right when the flaming arrow loosed from its string sliced out the Adam's apple of one warrior and embedded in the temple of the axeman beside him. Another two went down from individual shots at the men gathered two steps below him. With a roar, the rest of these clambered up the step below, thoughts suspended as the war-lust spread its madness through their minds. They had at last succeeded in surrounding the purple-hooded bowman brandishing and flailing all manner of sword and club at the goliath who simply stood teeth-bared and nostrils flaring as he tasted the air for telltale molecules.
Zurvan could hear the sounds of battle and cries of dying men. The bird master or jalugar realized he was in one of the towers they had seen as they descended into the city of tombs. What had Alexis called it? The Sola Foray. No the Sola Falray. That's right. He thought. What did this air mancer want with him he wondered, his mind turning to the circular chamber. He looked it over again. Blue drapes, astir in the breeze covered the walls. The white cloth on which he sat seemed to be floating on a layer of particles. When he tried to crawl across it, the sheet moved beneath him so he always stayed in the center of it and the room. The jalugar had attempted jumping from the air-bed but even though successful at leaping clear of the sheet he had struck an invisible air barrier and rebounded back onto the sheet.
A figure appeared near the only window. Unlike the air elemancer Valeris, who, though naked and curvaceously feminine, did not have genitalia or nipples on her breasts, this fulsome figure was immediately recognizable under the thin veil of a mesh robe. A short curvaceous figure topped with long curling brown hair. On her broad forhead a diamond framed tattoo of an eye, marking her as a ministra. Ministra were priestess woman with psychic links to the animal world. Three of the jalugar's five wives were ministra. He wondered how one had arrived here. Perhaps brought here the same way he was.
"Do you find me desirable?" The woman asked, a seductive lip curl lifting one corner of her mouth.
"What?" Zurvan blinked rapidly and automatically looked down at the curves and contours that rippled as the woman approached him.
"Does my form cause you...." The heart-shaped lips hesitated as the glistening tip of her tongue poked through and Zurvan saw peach-colored eyes look down towards his groin..."..arousal." The word seemed to roll around in her mouth as she said it
A gentle stroke of air brushed his cheek and he jerked up involuntarily. “Why ministra..” Zurvan felt himself pushed backwards by an unseen force. “You are the most beautiful ....” He began but the advancing woman cut him off.
“Does my image not suggest a soft fresh firmness of flesh?” Her peach-colored eyes smoldered as she straddled his prone form, but still she did not touch him. There was a continual hum and all the air around them seemed in constant flow and flux.
“Why yes..you....” Zurvan stuttered but the woman interrupted again.
“Do those frequencies which bounce off me fry your higher functions?”
“Do what...do what?”
“Tell me truly. Are these radiations stimulating the primal particles in your receptors?”
“You aren't a ministra are you?” Zurvan cursed himself for being so gullible. He shook his head. Women were a weakness of the jalugar caste.
The women straddling the jalugar changed to the form of the white bodied air elemancer, Velaris. She grinned and their was a wild glint in her bright orange eyes.
“I can be anyone you want jalugar.” Velaris said changing form or more correctly, changing frequency into another voluptuous woman and kissing the jalugar at which point Zurvan promptly blacked out again.
Velaris immediately resumed her normal form and sat looking at the unconscious form under and sighed. “I would have preferred you awake, but no matter.” She said as her long flowing locks plucked at the jalugar's buttons and draw string like fingers.
In the underground chamber where Hallion sat in a dazed and semi-stoned state, the earth elemancer Elrok was monologuing to the boy, who just nodded occasionally. Being alone for such long periods had there effects on magicians as well as people and Elrok missed the company of conversation, even if it were all one-sided. Hallion rocked slowly back and forth on the chair, his vision blurred and eyes watery.
"...then she wants to make love." Elrok was saying, looking up at the roof of the chamber. He took another swig of his drink. "But how could I?" He burst out, looking directly at Hallion, who raised his eyebrows and tried to focus. "I have a wife and oath to stand beside. Back there." He gestured over his shoulder. Hallion looked up squinting, expecting to see someone there but Elrok meant his life back in the Tigaro Islands.
"How are you feeling my lord?" Elrok said suddenly drawing Hallion's attention back again. He tried to talk but his dry tongue felt like sandpaper and nothing came out. Elrok looked him over and chuckled.
"Might have given you a little too much juice, methinks." He said, his eyes bright and wide in contrast to Hallion's reddened slits. "Better lie down, boy." He said.
The wall shimmered and a arm emerged followed by the leg and then the torso and remainder of a large rock elemental controlled by Elrok. The creature picked Hallion up and strode to the rear of the chamber where a stone bed was covered with furs and cushions. He placed Hallion down gently and stepped back into the wall, a ring of concentric circles left where he disappeared. Elrok walked towards the wall, took a look back at the sleeping boy and then he too vanished within the rock.
On the steps of the Temple of Kiami, the mercenary force had encircled the blind bowman who remained standing absolutely motionless. As one of the warriors stepped into his range the bowman swung the bow and the string sung in the air as it sliced through the sinew and bone of the warriors neck, decapitating him. The bow-string was made from the gut-lining of the Sythe and though almost hair-thin, it was virtually unbreakable and almost totally inflexible. Only the super-human strength of the bowman could stretch it. Used inventively, the bow could be deployed as a variety of weapons.
The bowman had been waiting for that precise instant when someone stepped inside his killing zone. Now he became a machine. His sense of hearing allowed him to picture both in front and behind him and with his acute sense of smell he could detect weaknesses such as fear or uncertainty. The battle plan was already mapped out in his mind. Who were the weakest chinks in their army. Who were the strongest, the most agile, the most experienced and the least. He was a micro-second away from implementing his strategy when there was a loud cracking sound from lower down the temple. Then a groan as of heavy metal grinding against metal.
Something crunched and a screeching shriek followed. It was as painful as a spike in the eye to the super-sensitive hearing of the bowman and he gritted his teeth and growled in frustration. Then remembering the leather ear balls he had made, he retrieved them from the base of his quiver and plugged his ears. Fortunately for him, all the warriors spun around to find the source of the unholy sound giving him time to do so.
Chi clutched at his boot. The bowman could sense the whites of the man's eyeballs showing. He crouched down beside him as the dying man mouthed something. The bowman nodded and the foreigner fell back dead.
There was another shriek, louder and higher pitched. A young Terrikan warrior stood in the puddle of blood which had snaked across the white steps and dripped down. The warrior, called Makas followed with his eye the red river to where it pooled around the base of the large black Sythe statute. When he looked up, the statue turned and glared back at him. The last thing he saw was a great claw with twelve-inch talons closing on his head.
"Naiya!" the fire elemancer called out to Orinaiya as she left her underwater lair. Naas had been waiting since she had disappeared into a pond inside one of the tombs, a place he could himself not enter. The water mancer hesitated, looked set to flee and then stopped and turned back. She took one step and glided towards Naas as if on ice.
Immediately he caught the worried look on her pale elfin face. "What is it?" He said.
"I don't know, but I seek your input." Orinaiya and Naas had a turbulent relationship but most-times they saw eye-to-eye and had become the closest of the four elemancers to each other. Orinaiya could flip-flop emotionally, while Naas was impatient and irritable. They clashed often,
but when one had a problem it was inevitably the other they turned to.
Orinaiya proceeded to explain how while summoning more Wisps, the water elementals which were her minions, one of the souls had escaped. It had been summoned but did not condense in elemental form. Neither had ever had this happen before.
"There were only eight and there should have been nine." Orinaiya said, looking up at Naas with her eyebrows pinched together in concern
A Spark appeared, one of the fire elementals and jumped onto the shoulder of Naas hissing and crackling. It glared at Orinaiya, before leaping down and shooting off into the darkness again.
"Elrok is coming." Naas was almost invisible in the near dark of the tomb's shadow. Only his eyes and mouth stood out. "Let us quiz him about this and the boy." He said. Orinaiya nodded and they moved off together to meet the earth elemancer.
Like the grasses showing tender faces to each other, thus should we do, for this was the wish of the Grandfathers of the World.