The journey to Duskmere seemed long and limitless. Keira spent most her time peering out the carriage window, admiring the beauty of Dor'rithia's rural countryside. She giggled to herself as random thoughts were interrupted by the loud snores of Thomas, who slept for a duration of the trip. The semi-silence of their travel had not bothered her in the least; it merely played a tool, helping her come to terms with the various thoughts that flooded her mind from the night before; in addition to the painful decision of leaving her family behind.
Unfortunately, Keira knew she could expect to hear more stories along the way, and so prepared herself for the worst. She knew that the few revealed pieces of historical knowledge were not the only bits Thomas had kept secret from her. And while she was unable to change much of her said destiny, she realized that there truly was no way of turning back now. She merely welcomed the thought of what was to come with open arms. Deciding to place her trust in the care of Brother Thomas, the monk guide, and lifelong friend, who would help lead her through her travels, learning the truth of her predestined fate.
Soon their peaceful, journey had neared its end. In the distance Keira could make out the beginning of a short and narrow, stone-paved bridge, leading over the running waters of a lengthy sized river-bed. Duskmere was a beautiful land, and as in Durnshire, Keira found herself lifting her eyes to its amazing tree tops, watching as the leaves swayed softly in the wind. She admired the majesty of the land, and its dimly lit forest. Flat, rolling grounds of green, covered mainly by large clusters of tall trees, and brilliantly painted amber-colored leaves, lay scattered across the vast reaches of enchanting forest. As the carriage drew closer to the stone bridge, Keira studied the graceful glides of the thick, undulating moss, that draped itself over every protruding stump, rock, or root bearing tree it touched. In some areas of the forest, where the sunlight could not stretch its heavenly rays, there hovered clusters of beautifully lit fireflies illuminating from beneath a canopy of darkness.
The air of Duskmere was moist, reminding her much of the smell of wet grass and soil after a hard day's rain. And although the forest held a mystic beauty, Keira noticed that its overall appearance could be quite deceiving. A questionable mysteriousness, where various areas ran rampant with a light haze of mist, lurking and weaving from amongst the trees, as if breathing. It was a sight that filled her with a sense of unease, giving the land a dark and hindering feel on its eastern border. On the other hand, towards the western edge, the forest appeared welcoming, inviting -and when casted beams of a radiant, golden glow pierced through the vast tree line by the sun's rays, it was absolutely beautiful. It was these two opposing forces that caused Keira a slight discomfort. A feeling that perhaps they were being watched. Suddenly her thoughts were disrupted once more by the abrupt sound of the monk’s voice.
"Aww... Duskmere Forest," Thomas yawned, waking from his afternoon nap. “We're nearly there." he continued, as Keira pulled her gaze from the window to face him.
"Thomas, who is it that we're traveling to see in Duskmere?"
"Maedoc," replied Thomas. “A very old friend of mine".
"But... why have you brought me here?"
Just then there was a strange noise heard in the distance, it was a shrill, high-pitched laughter. Thomas hushed Keira, as he raised his ears to the side of the cabin wall, setting down his wooden staff.
"Get down!" he demanded in a low whisper.
"What... why!?" she asked, confused.
The noise grew louder. Thomas could hear, what sounded like that of a tiny voice, followed again by a shrill laughter that grew closer as the carriage hustled across the threshold of the bridge.
"What are you listening to?" Keira asked, unable to hear anything, or understand what was happening.
"Shhh..." Thomas interrupted, waving a hand in her direction. Then, in the distance, Keira could hear what it was that demanded his attention. The voice grew closer, its pace quickening with each passing moment. She realized it was not the voice of a human. The tone was much too high pitched, and unlike anything produced by that of a child.
This was something Keira had never heard before. Suddenly, Thomas turned in his seat, and banged on the wall of the cabin wall behind him, attempting to alert the driver to the creature's presence. But before he could say a word, the carriage took an abrupt halt, causing the two passengers to lunge forward in their seats, and they watched as the carriage door slammed open. Phillip, their driver, a short, semi-muscular young man, with a weasel-like face, dressed in nothing more than a simply black suit, had hurled himself into the tiny cabin. Collapsing and nearly planting himself between the two delicate legs of Keira’s feet, his face press against the edge of her toes.
“A-humm!” Keira cleared her throat as she the gave him a cockeyed grin.
"Uhmmm... sorry.” he whisper in apology. “Uhh... so... Thomas what do you think it is?" he asked in an alarmed tone, picking himself up. Phillip quickly gasped for a breath of air, as he clumsily tried to regain his balance.
"A Sylph." Thomas announced, as he kneeled down upon the floorboard of the cabin, peering over the edge of the window sill. “And it’s traveling rather quickly." he added.
"A Sylph!?" questioned Keira.
"Shhhh!" Thomas hushed her. "Quite down or you'll get us all killed girl! And whatever you do, stay down!" Thomas whispered in a firm tone, hoping not to alert the approaching creature.
"Sylphs are mischievous creatures, always causing trouble. If not, always bring it with them." Phillip whispered to Keira. His green eyes raised towards the bright beam of light, that streamed through the carriage window, invading the privacy of the cabin.
“It would be best if we all keep quite." he continued.
"Quite or not, why in the world are we staying in here? Shouldn't we be running or something, or I don't know, driving away -quickly!" replied Keira.
"Well... actually... running only seems to provoke them... or persuades them to alert others to follow... and then..."
"Others?" Keira asked.
"Trust me, one sylph is enough to deal with... it's better if we just deal with it one on one from here... if possible, -that... or... ah -take cover." he interuppted.
"Take cover? Right... and how are we going to defend ourselves, hide from it to death? This is insane!" Keira spoke hysterically. Thomas rolled his eyes, attempting to ignore their brickering.
"Phillip, did you see anything when you were out there?" he asked.
"Afraid not, I don't know what type we're dealing with." Phillip replied.
"Type? Now -there's a type?" Keira replied, raising her voice.
"Will -you -keep -quite girl!" Thomas snapped.
"Yes, there are several types really... ahh... water sylphs, fire sylphs, nature sylphs..." Phillip went on as he threw up a finger for each of the names he spoke. Thomas continued rolling his eyes, as he listened to the young man's nervous, flapping tongue. "Now, if we just knew what kind we were dealing with... which, hopefully if it's not a fire sylph... we'll be okay!”
"Oh, that's comforting!" Keira hissed.
"Well kinda... now nature sylphs... they're common to these..."
Thud! And before Phillip could finish his sentence, Thomas threw out a swift palm smacking him dead center on the forehead.
"Oh, would you stop talking you blabbering idiot!" he snapped, as suddenly the tiny voice once heard in the distance, was now heard just beyond the cabin wall. The disturbance caused the three of them to crouch lower to the floorboard. Thomas reached for the window sill, attempting to catch a glimpse of what lurked outside. To his expectations hovered a small, pale reddish-gray figure, with translucent wings that fluttered about, as the creature hovered in the air above them. Suddenly, Thomas heard as a mischievous giggle fly out of the creature's mouth, followed by a unnerving sound of snake-like whispers, as the tiny creature made its presents known.
"I seeee you," it hissed.
Slowly, Thomas pulled out from beneath his hooded cloak, a long, thin, glass-like rod; it was a crystal wand. Keira's eyes widened with shock, as she realized that Thomas, her monk guide, and lifelong friend, was a Wielder. She watched him in awe as he unleashed the tiny weapon from beneath his cloak. Positioning himself carefully, under the sill of the window, and within moments he popped up from beneath the sill. Whipping his wand out in tight circular motions, and one by one, fiery-red, flaming orbs of fire blasted off through the small glass window. Shattering it into several shards that laid scattered about the cabin floor, as the firey orbs flew across the sky towards the pale figure. The sylph responded with shear laughter, attempting to dodge it's attacker's wraith.
"Stay down!" Thomas yelled, as he threw out his arms, pushing his companions backs towards the entrance of the carriage. "Get out of the carriage! Stay behind me, and make sure that what ever you do -you stay low to the ground, and out of sight!"
Soon after, the sylph responded to the monk’s attack, a large, rotating orb of flaming fire came hurling down upon the three passengers, as their pace quickened to escape the hold of the cabin. Quickly the managed to slip away in time before the orb could come crashing down upon them, and instead smash into the side of the carriage, brushing ever so closely past them.
"Ahh... so you do want to play, don't you?" the sylph cried out, laughing hysterically.
As Keira and Phillip attempted to flee, Thomas twirled himself about, facing his opponent. He whirled the crystal wand through the tips of his fingers, slamming the base firmly upon his thigh, and pointing its tip in the direction of the sylph. Suddenly, the wand's length expanded, its width thickened, and its shape transformed into that of a solid, long shimmering glass-like staff. Thomas gripped it tightly, thrusting the staff into the air as the creature approached him.
Within moments, the monk's hands became engulfed in a wispy, blue, flame-like mist, that circled the length of the stone staff, dispersing itself to the tip. A cold blast of air erupted from staves end, crashing vigorously into the sylph's gut before the creature could manage to fly away.
But the sylph refused to flee; instead it smiled at the monk’s failed attempt, baring its large, yellow, sharp-edged teeth. The intense color of the creature's amber eyes brightened, and pulsated, like too shrunken suns trapped within the skull of the creature's head. Thomas watched as the grinning sylph raised a single hand into the air, laughing menacingly, as its grin stretched further across the width of its dome shaped face. It's thin, boney fingers, and long, sharpened claws, balled into a tightened fist, shaking until the creature began to conjure its next attack. Still, Thomas stood and braced himself, gripping tightly upon the crystal staff, waiting to reflect the creature's next wave. He watched as the sylph's fist became engulfed in bright, yellow-orange flame.
When suddenly the creature unleashed its fury, and one after another, balls of fire rained down from the sky, flowing out of the sylph's open flame engulfed palm. Scattered orbs fired in every direction. All the while, the creature continued to laugh in a high shrilling, unruly manner.
Merrily, he watched as one flaming orb nearly pinned Keira in the back of the head. Aware of the oncoming threat, she launched her body out of the way, and landed onto a pile of soft moss covered soil.
"Oh, come on! Don't run away! Come play with me!" It screamed, as its body fluttered around in circles through the air. "I promise... I won't bite... much." The sylph grinned, snapping its skeleton-like jaws together in a tighten clench, its tongue flickering through the holes of its teeth, hissing menacingly.
Still in shock from the occurring chaos around her, Keira watched as Thomas remained unshaken, and unfazed. Standing firm against the creature's fury, he clenched down upon the crystal staff, preparing himself. She watched as he continued to counter each ball of flame the sylph sent his way.
Quickly, Keira raised herself to her feet, gripping for Phillip's outreached hand, she followed him and they scurried away to take cover behind the safety of a nearby boulder. But their movement did not go unnoticed. Aware of their presence, the creature refocused it's attention upon them. Following from behind them, it hissed, it's tounge continuing to flicker, as it reached out it’s hand in attempt to launch another orb in their direction.
Thomas, realizing he no longer held the sylph's attention, began to run towards their direction, attempting to block the next wave of blows the creature offered. But it was obvious he could not reach them in time, the flames would engulf them. As the next ball of fire launched its way towards Keira, she felt herself become overwhelmed with fear and apprehension throughout every inch of her body. She threw her hands into the air, attempting to block herself from her attacker's wraith.
When suddenly, by an unknown submission her body grew warm, her limbs stiffened, her arms trembled, and a piercing pain shot through her spine to the base of her skull, as her head was thrown backwards. The burning pain numbering her mind of all thought, or sense of regaining control. And within moments, a burst of bright blue electricity, flew from the tips of her fingers, thrusting into the sky like streams of lightning. They scattered throughout the sky in random directions, and slowly her body was lifted, hovering in the air, until only the tips of her limp limbs could reach the ground beneath her.
The sylph, fearful of her instability, flung itself in the opposite direction, attempting to avoid the erratic behavior of the flowing currents. Still, the creature did not flee, it quickly turned back towards Keira, attempting to launch another attack.
But before it could, Thomas ran in Keira's direction, hoping to block the next wave of flame. When surprisingly, from the direction of the rubbled carriage, came a large, blue, rotating orb from an unknown source, launching its way towards the menacing sylph. The creature was instantly encapsulated, it's body solidifying into a large ice block. The frozen figure still hovered in the air remaining for only seconds before crashing towards the ground, and shattering into a thousand tiny shards.
From behind the carriage walked a small figure, the source of the creature's defeat. Keira, though in a slight state of disarray, watched as the tiny, solitary figure stepped quietly out into plain view. Appearing to stare back at her from a distance. But her vision had become blurred, and suddenly she fell towards the ground like a limp bag of coal, drained of any energy in her body.
Thomas and Phillip, raced to her side, pulling her back to her feet, and lifting her arms above their shoulders. In a lethargic fashion, Keira attempted to steady her legs, assuming to regain their previous strength, but she was too weak. She watched in a blurry haze as the once still figure approached her. Her eyes trying to regain focus as she realized that the tiny figure was that of a small man, who wore nothing more then a similar robe as Thomas, carrying alongside him a staff of his own. A wooden stick, topped with a large, purple, glass-like stone. In her slightly sluggish state, she attempted to continue focusing her eyes upon the strange man's burlap robe. But as her eyes struggled to regain their strength, she realized the robe lay draped over the body of a small green goblin-kin man. To her amazement, her jaw dropped; widening her mouth in the look of utter disbelief, before finally her head gave way and flopped towards the ground. She had lost all consciousness and officially entered into a world completely unknown to her. Thomas, and Phillip erupted in chuckles at their nonresponsive companion, as Thomas greeted the appearance of his long lost friend.
“Aww... Maedoc! Thank Evo you're here old friend!"
"I thought you might run into a bit of trouble on your travels. I figured I'd make sure you arrived safely. Come... we don't have much time here. I suspect others might have been alerted. Word has it these days the sylphs have been running amuck in these lands. Come, we can go to my cottage. We'll be safe there."
© Copyright 2008 Nataliya Maize. All rights reserved.