Chapter 27: A narrow escape

Chapter 27: A narrow escape

A Chapter by Gosia

May bent in half and was panting heavily, trying to catch a breath. After a while she straightened her back to see a skinny, gray-haired elderly lady with an aura of dignity and wisdom surrounding her. May assumed she was Lavena, the witch of the Riada Swamp. The witch was a total stranger, but the warm look in her grey eyes told May, that she could be trusted.

“It’s a miracle you made it,” the old lady said with relief in her voice.

Lavena looked at May with pity, scanning the girl up and down. May looked terrible after the whole day and night on the run �" her thin cotton dress, once white, was now dirty and torn, shreds of fabric hanging from the girl’s bare shoulder. May was covered in mud from toes till neck; her hair was a mess; blood was sipping from her injured shoulder and she had nasty bruises around her throat.

“I’m fine,” May assured Lavena.

The silver-haired witch nodded, not entirely convinced. She glanced nervously at the still opened door to the tunnel and bit her lower lip, troubled. Then she lifted her head and strode towards May. Lavena gently took a hold of the girl’s chin and forced May to look her in the eye.

“I know, that you came here from the World Beyond the Veil through the soul-switching mirror,” she said, the tone of her voice deadly serious. “Now tell me, traveler, why did you come here? What is your purpose?”

May furrowed her brows, feeling as though Lavena just accused her of having some evil intentions.

“I don’t have any purpose, I just want to get home!” she exclaimed, fiercely returning Lavena’s wary look. “I got my soul switched by that damn mirror by damn accident! I looked into this cursed mirror and the next thing I knew, I was already here.”

Lavena was observing May’s face for a longer while, not saying anything, but staring into the girl’s eyes. Then, she released her chin and the stern expression on the witch’s face softened.

“I saw no lie in your eyes,” she told May, sounding much less hostile now. “Didn’t you know of the Kal Laismarr before?”

May shook her head and Lavena sighed.

“You have the worst luck then,” she informed May.

“I guess so,” May muttered, agreeing with the sorceress.

Lavena smiled gracefully and placed her elegant hand on the girl’s shoulder in a calming gesture.

“Don’t worry, your misfortunes will end very soon. I’ll return you to your world right away. The Messanger will soon be in position, the portal will open,” the silver-haired witch sincerely assured May and glanced towards the other door, the ones, that were slightly opened. “I almost forgot, someone’s waiting for you. Come, child!”

May let out a joyful sigh, when she saw Eren, who was darting towards the underground chamber, a wide smile on his lips.

“May!” Eren exclaimed, throwing himself onto the girl and trapping her waist in an almost crushing embrace.

The both of them were hugging each other without saying a word. They didn’t need to �" the happy smiles on their faces said all, showing their joy from the safe reunion. May felt the tears of relief and joy run down her cheeks. She lifted her head and looked at the witch.

“Thank you, thank you very much,” May said, her voice cracking. “You saved our lives.”

 Lavena smiled, looking at May and Eren, and slammed the door shut, right in time.

The door barely closed, when something heavy collided with the wood, creating a loud thud. Eren shrieked and May instinctively stepped back from it, pulling the child after her. The banging noise was repeating over and over again, as though someone tried to get inside �" and May perfectly knew, who it was.

“Calm down!” Lavena exclaimed, seeing the terrified looks on May’s and Eren’s  faces. The witch folded her arms confidently. “The wards around this chamber are strong. Even Aedain won’t get through.”

May nodded, acknowledging her words, but the constant banging on the door wasn’t helping her to calm down.

“No more wasting time,” the witch spoke energetically, ignoring the heavy atmosphere inside the dimly lit chamber, and stalked towards the middle of the room. “I’ll start preparing the gateway.”

May sat down on the dusty floor, comforting trembling Eren, who attached himself to the girl like a baby koala to its mother. May was patting the child’s head, while looking around the chamber.

The underground room was spacious and filled with items commonly classified as junk. In fact, the place reminded her of the professor Hatchets’ basement house back in Baltimore �" the books mixed with ancient objects in the same unruly way. Lavena was struggling to remove a large piece of cloth from a tall thing. Once she finally pulled the thick fabric off it, May could see, that the object was a mirror. It was about ten feet tall, the triangular shape was encased in solid frame made of sparkling transparent crystal. The stone looked too fine to be mere quartz; May suspected to be made of genuine diamond. There were markings carved on the edges of the mirror, but May couldn’t read them.

The girl felt a sting of fear when she was looking at the mirror �" she had bad experience with a magical looking glass before. Lavena began setting tall candles and drawing complicated patterns on the floor around the triangular mirror.

Eren clutched May’s dress tighter, when the banging on the door stopped for a while. Somehow the silence was even more unsettling that the constant noise �" before she at least knew where Aedain was.

May sighed, when she observed Lavena weaving some spell, which was supposed to make the portal work. Eren kept eying the door suspiciously. The boy squeaked and flinched when the pounding sounds began again.

From time to time single noises resounded throughout the chamber, as Aedain tried to barge in from the outside. So far there was little success, but the sounds were coming from all of the directions, even from under the floor. It was a bad sign. It meant, that the demon began thinking and was searching for a weak point in the magical barrier set around the chamber.

Then, the whole room shook, as something hit the ceiling powerfully. There was a series of rumbling sounds and then the stones began assuming a red color. Eren inhaled the air sharply and yelped, scared. May had the impression, that it was beginning to get slightly warmer in the chilly chamber.

“He wants to smoke us out,” Lavena said grimly, making a short break in her incantations to look at the ceiling.

The witch applied the finishing touches to the pattern on the floor and stood up, looking at the huge mirror in front of her.

“It’s nearly ready,” Lavena announced, closing her eyes.

She touched the diamond frame and began muttering some incoherent words. May couldn’t make out, what they were chanting, but the words had a certain strange monotonous melody.

May jumped onto her feet, as the diamond frame began sparkling, as though there was light coming from the inside of the gem. The winding pattern on the dusty floor flared with bright silver glow, as the candles lit all of a sudden, all by themselves. There was magic at work here. May took Eren’s hand and hesitantly approached the mirror.

Then, the mirror broke into million pieces. To May it looked like it exploded; the shards began circling Lavena and breaking into smaller pieces till they were reduced to the size of a grain of sand. The mirror dust flew towards the pattern on the floor. As the tiny pieces of the looking glass touched the glowing lines, they became liquid like mercury. The strange liquid first covered the pattern, Lavena had drowned, and then it filled the inside of it, creating a small pond of silver.

Eren gasped and entwined his arms around May’s waist, as though scared to be separated from his friend by force. He shook his head and looked up, silently pleading to take him along on what journey laid ahead of May.

The girl nodded with a gentle smile on her lips. There was no way she could leave Eren in the Callesmere. She wanted to keep the child safe from Aedain, but there was another reason as well; by whisking the Guardian of the Key and the Key itself out of the demons’ grasp, she’d save the humankind in the Callesmere Empire from the power thirsty Aeadain and the others like him.

“Eren’s coming with me,” May announced to Lavena. “Aedain will kill him if he stays here.”

                The old witch stared at the girl and the little boy for a while, but then nodded in agreement.

Suddenly the chamber shook violently; the fragments of the stone ceiling and dust began falling to the floor. May looked up, wiping the sweat out of her forehead �" the stones building the ceiling were enlightening the cellar with an orange glow, heated by the dragon fire. The temperature in the room rose so much, that May felt the clothing glue to her damp, sweating body.

Then, the chamber shook again, as a stone block fell from the ceiling in the far corner of the room.

“Oh no,” Lavena muttered and looked at May. “Get ready, girl!”

May bit her lower lip, she was scared. She knew what was happening �" Aedain was about to barge in.

Lavena started chanting the final part of the spell; her chants were hastier, as the witch struggled to make it in time before Aedain got inside.

“Hala Veiten Lar!” the witch exclaimed in the Laismaran language, the language used in all spells she knew.

“Calla Etne Seancinne!” Eren added his part of the spell, finishing the incantation. The bright light suddenly erupted from the sapphire pendant on the boy’s chest and traveled towards the passageway, opening it.

The pool of liquid silver glowed brightly now and its surface slowly became foggy, as the reflection of the ceiling was disappearing. May clutched Eren’s hand tighter and jogged closer to the portal, stopping only a step away from the passageway. She took a deep breath, knowing that she’d be soon home. If Aedain didn’t get inside sooner.

Eren squeaked when more stone blocks fell inside the chamber and May coughed as the dust filled her lungs. She glanced towards the source of commotion and stiffened.

The light of sun was engulfing the chamber in its warm glow when half of the ceiling disappeared, along with the entire tower which used to be over the cellar.

Then, everything happened just too fast. May saw a glimpse of crimson scales, as a huge dragon landed into the chamber. The deafening roar made May’s ears ring. The beast batted its wings and the blow of the air knocked Lavena off her feet. May lost her balance and fell backwards towards the pool of liquid silver; she slammed into the surface, which turned out to be solid, and reached out for Eren’s hand. She saw barely anything in the dust and steam.

The girl felt her fingers brush against the little boy’s fingertips, when the floor swayed once again under her. May tried to support herself on her elbows, but all of a sudden the firm surface became soft and gave in, sucking the girl into the darkness. May gasped, feeling an unpleasant tingling in her body. She tried to free herself, but soon the softness engulfed the rest of her body as well. She wanted to call out, but once the mirror swallowed her, she felt as though she was suffocating. May felt Eren’s fingers slip out of her hold, she tried to grip them more firmly, but then an excruciating pain shot through her body. May opened the mouth, desperate to get a lungful of air, but there was no air in the dark emptiness.

Then, all the torturing sensations stopped, leaving her in the darkness. May drew a breath, panicked. Her first instinct was to get on her feet and look around, but she couldn’t move properly. Her heart began beating faster, as the fear overwhelmed her �" she could barely lift a limb; she felt as though she was laying on something hard, with a foreign object digging in her back. She shifted and heard rustling all around her body.

“He…” she began, wanting to call out for help, but something filled her mouth when she opened it. May began coughing, spitting it out. She lifted her hand to her mouth, getting rid of it �" she recognized by the taste and scent that it was sawdust. She suspected that wherever she was, she was laying in sawdust.

The girl took a deep calming breath. Actually, it wasn’t the worst of signs. At least she knew, that she wasn’t stuck somewhere in space between the worlds �" she doubted that the mystical Veil separating dimensions would consist of sawdust.

A little bit less panicked, she reached out with her hands with the intention to carefully explore the place she was stuck in. She found a solid surface in front of her and ran her fingers over it. The wood. May bit her lower lip, trying not to panic. She was locked in some sort of a wooden case, like in a coffin. Her rational mind told her to keep her calm and use as little oxygen as possible, but she wanted to thrash and scream. May began pounding with her fists on the wooden surface. She was hitting it so forcefully that her knuckles hurt, but she didn’t stop.

“HELP!” she yelled, wildly knocking on the case with the fists and knees.

May felt tears wetting her cheeks, as she was screaming and hitting the inside of the wooden case.

Then, she heard a creak and light blinded her.

“May!” she heard a familiar voice and then a pair of hands pulled her out from the coffin-like prison.

May looked at her savior and exclaimed with joy:

“Professor Hatchets!” she cried and clutched the old professor, feeling a wave of relief wash over her.

She made it. She returned home.

The girl’s heart filled with joy, as everything she experienced in the Callesmere Empire was nothing but a nightmare now and she had just awoken. Then, her eyes snapped open, as she remembered something very important, something she forgot because of her fear.

 “Eren!” she breathed out and spun around. She looked at the wooden case, she was locked in. Inside laid a triangular frameless mirror, a similar one to the artifact in Lavena’s cellar. The mirror was covered in the sawdust, which protected the item from shattering. May desperately reached inside, frantically throwing the fistfuls of sawdust away, but there was nobody there. Her bleeding hands hit the solid surface of the mirror.

May closed her eyes and shook her head, realizing that she came through the mirror alone. She failed the little boy. If only she was holding his hand stronger…

“I’m so sorry Eren,” May whispered. She was about to turn away from the mirror, when she saw a glimpse of something sparkling in sawdust. She reached there and found a small object, probably the same, which was digging into her back a while earlier. May fished it out and opened her palm to look at it.

She gasped, when she saw it.

Eren’s sapphire necklace.


© 2013 Gosia

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PS: I think you meant to say drew here: "first covered the pattern, Lavena had drowned, "

Posted 10 Years Ago

I really liked the train of thought involving the sawdust. nice touch.

One suggestion; Lavena may have any number of motives: to stop the war, to get revenge for her friend etc, but sending May back out of pure altruism seems kinda a bit much considering her hot redheaded warrior woman got killed and her tower got decimated and now she's got an angry dragon trying to kill her. I would have liked a stronger sense of why Lavena's willing to take all these risks.

Posted 10 Years Ago


10 Years Ago

I guess you're right about this one. I'll have to fix this in the next draft.

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2 Reviews
Added on October 1, 2013
Last Updated on October 1, 2013




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