Chapter 8A Chapter by thuaners
Ginessa sat down on the small wooden stool and lovingly rested her fingers on the strings of her harp. She loved this harp. Her big sister Anna had taught her how to play this very harp when she was little; those were cherished memories to Ginessa. She remembered her sister had been so patient with her. She couldn’t picture her sister’s face anymore, but when she thought of her, she just remembered long blonde hair and kindness.
The fireplace crackled away nearby. It was nighttime and the gentle fire was the only light in the room. Ginessa got a little churning feeling in her stomach; it was a good feeling. She was so happy. She was living a charmed life and was now about to relax and play the harp. Could life get any better?
Her husband Anton had just left to do some night fishing with Narteb, and now she had some quiet time to herself. Playing the harp was one of her favourite things to do. She found it so fun and soothing, and it also gave her nostalgic memories of her late sister Anna, and her life when she was a little girl. She brushed her fingers lightly along the strings once, and then began to play.
Beautiful music filled the room, and the small tongues of flame in the fireplace danced along joyfully.
She was playing a song called ‘Canyon of the Soulflame’, and loving every moment of it. She really liked this song. She let her eyes close, and allowed the tune to go through her body, leading her imagination. The story of the song came into her mind, a story that was faint and ever changing, like a million objects inside a whirlpool. Today the song made her think of dark green forests, waterfalls, bittersweet adventure-
That sure interrupted her lovely daydreaming. It was the sound of Paddles, their little black terrier barking. One minute he had been curled up content by the fireplace, the next he had run over to the front door of the house and was now barking loudly.
Ginessa stopped her harping. There was something unusual about the way he was barking. It sounded urgent, as if he was trying to tell her something, or get her attention. She got up and walked to where Paddles was; he looked up at her and began scratching at the door with his paw.
“You want to go outside, Paddles?” said Ginessa. She opened the door for him, and to her surprise, he just bolted out!
“Paddles!” she said, and ran outside after him, into the darkness. What had gotten into him? Had he sniffed a cat nearby or something? She ran and chased the little dog down the front path of their house. She didn’t have to go very far, because just a few metres down, there were two people standing in the dark. One was her husband, Anton, and the other was a woman that Ginessa had never seen before. The most noticeable thing about the woman was that she was holding a small glowing ball in her hand. It looked very mysterious. Her husband and the unknown woman seemed to be in the middle of a very intense discussion.
Woof! Woof! Woof!
Paddles was standing in front of Anton, facing the woman and barking ferociously at her; it seemed as if he was defending Anton.
“I’m sorry,” said Ginessa, and she went over and scooped up Paddles, “I thought he needed to go do a nature’s calling, but he just ran over here. I’ll take him back inside.”
“No,” said the woman, “You should stay. There is something I need you for, actually.”
“Leave her out of this,” said Anton, “This is between you and me, Maruska.”
“I’m sorry, Anton,” said Maruska, “But you don’t make the rules.”
“Ginessa,” said Anton, “Leave now. Don’t go back into the house. Go find Narteb.”
Ginessa could sense something really serious was going down.
“I’m not leaving you, Anton,” said Ginessa.
Maruska laughed, “How very noble of you. Of course, maybe that is because you don’t know the gravity of the situation. Let me tell you what the current circumstances are, and then you can decide whether or not you want to stay. Not that your decision will have any effect on the outcome.”
“Maruska,” said Anton, “I said it before and I will say it again. You can do whatever you like to me, but leave my wife out of this. She has done nothing to you.”
“I am well aware of that,” said Maruska, “And in fact I harbour no ill feelings towards her. Except that she is beautiful and I am marginally jealous. But she must play her part, in order for me to get my revenge upon you. You see, I have only one of these orbs, and alas I must make a choice on whom to use it on. My instincts tell me that you will suffer far more seeing her hit by this, than yourself. Is that true?”
“You will not use that thing on her,” said Anton sternly.
“Ah…” said Maruska, “Finally, the Anton of old. I was a bit worried that you might have gone soft, living among these gentle country folk.” Then she looked at Ginessa, “This, my dear, pretty little thing, is one of the deadliest objects in the world. The secrets on how to make it, shrouded in mystery, discovered by people in the past who have long been forgotten by the passage of time. These people knew how to do real magic. And I discovered their texts and ancient tomes. And this orb, was their most powerful spell. It is irreversible!”
Maruska paused for a moment. The orb in her hands was suddenly feeling uncomfortable to hold. It was a cold, numb feeling; a lot like holding a block of ice. It had always been cool to touch, but now it was distractingly cold. It was almost as if the orb knew that it was about to be used. That the time for its sinister purpose was here, and it was getting its internal magicks ready. This actually scared Maruska somewhat, but nevertheless, she continued. “It took me a long time. I travelled far and wide to collect the ingredients. Climbed to summits that went higher than the clouds, and gathered ingredients from the bottom of the sea. In the end, I made it. In all its deadly beauty. It is called a Ha Ni Sao in the ancient tongue. But I call it the petrification orb. When I throw this orb at someone, that person will be turned to stone. Forever.”
“No way,” said Ginessa, “That’s impossible. Isn’t it, Anton?”
“I don’t know,” said Anton, “But that crazy look on her face says she thinks it’s real. Let’s just assume that it is for now. Now, Ginessa, go quickly. And if anything happens to me, remember that I love you.”
“I’m not leaving,” said Ginessa.
“Go!” said Anton.
“Oh, you two make me sick,” said Maruska and she threw the orb at Ginessa.
Anton saw everything happen in slow motion. He saw the orb leave Maruska’s hands and start flying through the air, straight at Ginessa (and Paddles). Anton instinctively leaped at Ginessa and tackled her to the ground. Husband and wife (and dog) landed on the ground. Anton saw a soft pink light pass over him, and felt relieved.
It had missed!
He turned and saw the orb land on the ground some metres behind them. He wanted to relax, but he couldn’t yet. The orb had not shattered! It was lying on the ground, unbroken.
Then an idea popped into Anton’s head. It was the only idea he had, so he went with it.
“Let go of Paddles, Ginessa,” said Anton.
Ginessa let go of their terrier, and as soon as she did, the little dog darted straight at Maruska!
It started biting at her heels and viciously tearing at the loose robes near her feet.
Anton got up, grabbed his bucket and fishing net. He ran over to Maruska and while she was distracted by Paddles he put the fishing net right over her head then slammed a bucket over it. Now she was wearing the bucket and couldn’t see!
“Ye Cads!” said Maruska. She couldn’t see with the bucket on her head and she started flailing her arms around helplessly. She tripped over something small and furry on the ground (Paddles), and landed face first on the ground. The little dog was still biting into her robes. It was really annoying!
“Let’s go! C’mon Paddles!”
It was Anton’s voice.
Maruska fumbled and tried to get the bucket and fishing net off her head as quickly as possible, but the faster she tried to do it, the longer she took! Finally, she got it off, and sat up. She looked around.
She was all alone.
Maruska stared down the path into the darkness, and was quite certain she saw some dark figures running away in the black of night. She stood up, and dusted herself off. Then she went over to her orb, which was still lying harmlessly on the ground. She picked it up carefully, just in case it had been cracked. Thankfully it wasn’t. She tucked the orb into her robes and turned to face the path away from Anton’s house.
Husband, wife and little dog had gotten a head start on her, but Maruska was not worried.
You can run, she thought, But you cannot hide forever.
© 2011 thuaners
Added on May 3, 2011
Last Updated on May 8, 2011
Passion of the Liger
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