Seven

Seven

A Chapter by Eddie Davis
"

Gevin struggles with the magic of the great forest, which seems determined to defeat him.

"

7.

All men's misfortunes spring from their hatred of being alone.

--Jean De La Bruyere

 

 

He didn’t know what time it was, but when he opened his eyes, he was lying in his bed in Shellington on a cool spring morning and Lyssa was resting against him.   Yet as she awoke, sensing him moving, she suddenly changed from the little cousin he’d known to the sensual princess, fully mature and erotic that had given him such an icy brush-off when he’d returned to see her.   She propped up on her elbows, her crystal blue bedroom eyes seducing him with a look.   Gevin glanced at her in horror, for she was naked and so was he.

“Kissing cousins,” she purred, leaning up to brush her full red lips against his and though he was confused at the strangeness of everything, he felt a powerful desire cross through him and he began wildly kissing her in return.  She yielded to him readily pulling him to her as she slid onto the bed and he changed positions, feverish for her.

He spoke to her, needing to say something, to ask anything, to justify his feelings or condemn them, but he could not speak with her hungry lips pressed against his own.   He could not break free to speak or even turn his head and he knew right then that she was drawing his very soul out through their foreplay.

Gevin pulled back with all of his might, against her nails raking against his back, he could hear her laughing fiendishly though her mouth was still clamped tight against his, and then-

Gevin popped awake with a shout, bolting upright and sending the still sleeping Applemint sliding off to one side, entangled in their cloak blanket.

“Get away from me!  Don’t touch me!” he shouted, still waking up.

Applemint’s red hair was going in all directions as she looked at him with uncertainty and a hint of fear, “Sir Gevin?”

He blinked wildly, the nightmare fading quickly to join the terrible one of the previous night.   He gulped down the morning air and worked to calm his thundering heartbeat.   Though the morning was still chilly, his face and neck was bathed in sweat.

“Sir Gevin, are you alright?”  Applemint asked again as he continued to glance around with a wild expression.

“What?  Oh…Apple, I-I’m sorry…I’m okay; are you alright?”

“A bit rattled from your nightmare; I’d hoped you’d left them behind last night.”

“No…I did, but…but it’s this place…this forest…it’s forming the dreams, tormenting me and bringing up terrible things…we’ve got to get out of here!”

“That is exactly what I was hoping you’d say!”  She said cheerfully, slipping out of the cloak and combing down her long copper hair with her hand before neatly folding the garment.   It was past daybreak and the dawn had even penetrated the atmosphere of the depth of their forest clearing.  A heavy mist covered the grass all around them and a slowly dwindling fog hung in the air.

As Gevin glanced around in the dim, but growing light, his eyes stopped where the enchanted suit of armor should have been, next to the remains of the ‘tree monster’.

Both were gone, leaving no trace, as if they’d never existed.

With a gasp, Gevin jumped to his feet and turned to see if the sword he’d pulled from the tree monster was also missing, but to his relief, it remained where he’d placed it the night before.

Applemint followed his gaze and gave an apprehensive sigh, “The armor and that tree thing are gone!”

“Like they were never there,” he replied, “But the sword I extracted is still with us.   I wonder if the armor and tree monster simply vanished or if they reanimated and are waiting for us somewhere?  Let’s see if the path out is cleared now.”

Together they walked the short distance to the spot, both of them silently praying to find a clear trail that would lead back to the entrance to the enchanted forest.

But the trees and underbrush still were there, seeming denser and more imposing.

“Oh no,”  Applemint groaned, covering her face with her hands and Gevin gently put his arm around her for comfort as she cried.   He knew with complete certainty that the path leading deeper into the woods would be there, awaiting them.

“We’ll see what’s up the path, maybe there will be a divergent path along the way that we can take.” He said tenderly to the Halfling girl.

“Oh, we’re trapped in here, sir!   I’ll never see my family again!”

Gevin pressed her against his chest where she buried her face and wept for a while, trembling and tightly clinging to him for support.

“It’s alright, Apple; don’t worry, I swore to you that I’d get you out of here and restore you to your parents and I plan to keep my word.”

“But how, sir?” She asked with a sniffle, looking up at him with her big green eyes ringed in tears, “This forest is alive and moving us around like chess pieces!”

“Yes, but every game has a beginning and an end.”

“It’s the end that scares me, sir!”

“Well, I happen to be very good at chess, dear girl, so don’t worry.”

Whether it was what he said to her or his choice of calling her ‘dear girl’, Gevin didn’t know, but a bit of her fetching shy smile peeped through and she nodded.

“Sorry,” she apologized, drying her tears on her apron.   Seeing the condition of her garment, she frowned, “My goodness, my clothing is so dirty!   I wasn’t prepared for camping out.”

“Hopefully we’ll come across a stream somewhere and can wash up and get some water to fill our canteens.”

“How far do you think we’ve come so far, sir?”

“It’s hard to say with the enchantment on this place, but I’d say seven to ten miles.”

“That doesn’t sound so far.”

“In open terrain it isn’t, but in a forest, it is a fair distance.” 

“Should we get started, sir?”

“Fine by me; we can stop and eat something when we feel tired.   Unless we come across another obstacle or trial to pass.”

“I don’t even have a weapon.”  Applemint said as they packed up their bedding, “If we meet another nasty tree-thing or that suit of armor is roaming around waiting for us…”

Gevin reached into his pack and surprised her when he pulled forth a footman’s mace.

“You pack strange things, sir.”

“Well, it has come in handy; here, use it like a club and don’t hesitate to strike hard if we’re attacked.    I don’t think anything we encounter will expect anything less.”

Applemint took the mace and tested the weight, then practiced a few swings.

“It actually isn’t that heavy; I think I can use this, especially if I’m scared.”

“I’d give you a dagger, but you have to be very close to your opponent to use one properly and I think that is very dangerous in this mysterious place.   You can strike at a greater range with the mace, just swing with both of your hands.”

“I hope I don’t have to use it.”

“I do too, but I have doubts that we’ll be that fortunate.”

They loaded up his pack and he shouldered it, “Well, shall we be off?”

 

***

 

Shortly they were trudging up the forest trail away from the clearing where they had camped.   The forest quickly closed in near to them, creating a tunnel feeling as they walked.   Gevin had Applemint walk directly in front of him so he could better protect her from all sides.    The overwhelming heaviness and stillness of the forest made both of them wary of talking.  Though there was absolutely no noise, both felt as if something (or some things) were tracing their every move.    For many hours they walked, barely uttering a sound; the morning warming up to take the chill out of the air and melt off the fog, though it remained very dark under the canopy of the tall, thick trees.

At a point that they judged to be around midday (though it was impossible to tell in the dimness of the thick foliage), they stopped and finally ate something, seated together on an old dead tree that partially had fallen across the path.

“Are you tired?” Gevin asked Applemint softly, though there was no evidence of anyone actually around listening to their conversation.

“I can keep going,” She replied as she bit into an apple that he’d given to her from his pack.

“It is so quiet - no insects, birds or anything to be heard.    It makes the air feel heavy and ominous.”

“I feel like we’re being watched.”

“Yeah, I feel that way too.”

“Why do you think this forest is like this?   Surely all of it can’t be enchanted.”

“I don’t know, but it is said that at one time there were many Elves living here and from what I’ve heard, they were powerful wizards and masters of magic.    Perhaps over the course of thousands of years, the forest simply absorbed some of it into its very fiber of being.”

“It feels like it’s all…alive, like we are just little fleas on the hide of a big animal.”

Just as Gevin started to reply, suddenly from directly behind them something rushed out of the forest brush with a terrible snort.   Applemint screamed and they both leaped to their feet just as a huge black boar lunged at them.   Gevin jumped in front of the terrified Halfling and the massive pig rammed him, throwing him backwards over the log they’d been sitting on, the enchanted sword pinned underneath his body when he fell.   The boar moved toward him, large sharp tusks slicing and stabbing as it gored him.    He managed to pull the magic sword out from under him and swiped blindly at the beast yet it was too close to him for him to find a mark.

But it was Applemint who saved the day this time.   She attacked the hog from behind,  fiercely swinging the mace into its ribs and back.  It snorted and spun to confront her, but it was the opening that Gevin needed and he chopped savagely at the creature’s neck.    The sword cut very deep, spraying both Gevin and Applemint with the pig’s warm blood as it quickly died from a severed artery. 

“Oh my God!” Applemint screamed, dropping her weapon as the pig blood dripped into her eyes.   She rubbed it away on her dress sleeve and then noticed Gevin weakly trying to get to his feet, his chest oozing blood from where the boar’s tusks had ripped at him.

“Sir Gevin!” She cried out as he slid back down on his knees, coughing up his own blood.   He knew the injuries were very serious; this was no dream this time.

“Never…heard him…coming…” he said weakly, gasping for breath as blood filled his mouth.

Applemint was beside him, trying desperately to stop the bleeding from several terrible wounds.

“Oh, what am I going to do!  Yesh help me!” She groaned hysterically as Gevin felt himself weaken moment by moment, “Water!   I’ve got to get water!”

As if her words had conjured it up, Gevin grew suddenly aware of the sound of a trickling stream somewhere just ahead on the path, though he had not heard it before she had spoken of it.

Applemint apparently heard it as well, for in a wild panic she went running toward the sound, not realizing in her haste that she had nothing in which to put the water.   Gevin slipped to the ground, realizing grimly that his final moments were nearing.   To survive a hundred years of battles and be killed by a boar seemed a pitiful way to die.

Gasping for breath, he thought he heard Apple splashing around somewhere and the sound of her sobbing.   The poor girl would be alone, he thought grimly and he said a quick prayer to Yesh asking protection for her and to provide her with a path out.

The world began to fog and swim around him, he sank down onto his back, his limbs growing cold.    Then in a blink of an eye, someone in plate armor was standing over him, looking down at his dying form.    Through clouding eyes he glanced up and it seemed like it was the same suit of animated armor they’d encountered the previous day, but somehow it was different.

“Doest thou now cherish life and seeketh restoration, thou being on the threshold of death?”   A loud male voice spoke, but it was inside his head.  

I don’t want Applemint to die here in this awful place.’ He replied in his mind.

            “If I restoreth life unto thee and healeth thy wounds, wilt thou set aside thy pursuit of death and destruction and remember thy vow of chivalry and charity unto others?   ‘Tis the heart of thy faith, Gevin, knight of Greidour.   Sweareth unto me thou pledge and I shalt restoreth life and health unto thee.”

‘I swear it, sir, for the sake of Applemint and her family that loves her.’

“For thy sake also, Sir Gevin.” The man (or perhaps only the armor) knelt and an armored gauntlet touched his forehead.   Burning white light flowed over him in an instant and he felt as if a million ants were crawling frantically across his entire form.   But only for the space of a heartbeat, then the light faded and the hand that touched him withdrew.  

‘Who are you?’ Gevin asked as he felt his body fully mended even as he spoke.

“Thou knoweth who I am, thou does not knoweth thyself.  Don this armor before thou drinketh of the yonder stream. Fare thee well.”

The voice faded away and as it did, the plate armor fell to the ground with a loud crash.   Gevin sat up, still covered in his own blood but completely healed.   

“No!” he heard Applemint scream from somewhere up ahead, “I need a jar or a bowl!   Dear Yesh, help me, I have nothing to carry it with!”   She was already running back toward him, perhaps having heard the crash of armor and she skidded to a full stop when she saw him sitting up and the same suit of armor they had encountered the day before, lying inert in front of him.

She was so stunned that she stood there for a few seconds, her green eyes as huge as saucers and her mouth hanging open.    But she wasn’t certain what had happened, and he was still covered in blood, so she snapped out of her surprise and rushed to him.

“No, Sir, please, lay down!  I-I’m trying to…I need to find something…for water…” She glanced at one of the greaves from the suit of armor, and had just decided to utilize it as a container, when Gevin grabbed her arm to stop her.

She screamed so high and loud that his ears rang for five minutes afterwards, but he held up his palm to her and shouted over her hysteria, “Apple, I’m alright!”

“W-What?”  She stammered, her eyes darting back and forth between his bloody tunic and the dead boar, then the armor scattered on the ground.

“I’m alright; completely healed; see?” He showed her his neck, where a terrible gash had been.   It was completely gone, as were the cuts he’d received fighting the tree monster yesterday.    Applemint touched his face numbly, confusion slowly dampening her frenzy. 

“But…what…the armor…was it…was it real?   Did it actually all happen?”

“Yes, but I was healed.”

“How?”

Gevin gestured to the armor, “I saw a vision of…someone…wearing that armor.   He…laid his hand upon me and…I was healed.”

“The armor did that?” She asked, glancing fearfully over her shoulder.

“I think it was someone wearing it.”

“But…who?”

“Um…well…” he hesitated to speak his suspicions, but she knew immediately who he met, and her eyes again grew round in awe.   She plopped down on the dirt and pine needles next to him.

“Oh…oh, wow, sir…and you think…it all happened?   He was really here?”

“I think so.”

“Did he say anything to you?”

He repeated the conversation, including his instruction to put the armor on.

“He wants you to wear it?”  Applemint asked to verify that she’d understood what he’d said.

“I guess so; apparently that was why I was compelled to put it on yesterday…I was supposed to wear it.”

“Oh…this is spooky, sir; I’m getting goose bumps.”

“I think I’ll try it on; my clothes are ruined from bleeding out and why would He heal me if this was all a scheme to trick me?  If it wasn’t…Him…then I would have just been left to die.   No, this is a gift to help us, Apple; a divine gift, I think.”

“Then put it on sir; for you said that He told you that you must be wearing it before you drink water from the stream up the road.”

“You found a stream?”

“It is cold and clear and I’d say it was safe to drink.   It isn’t very deep and the path goes down into it and up the other side.   It only came up to my knees.”

“Did you drink any water from it?”

“No; I was too desperate to bring some back to you.   How stupid of me, sir!   I panicked and just left you there!   If it hadn’t been for…um…for Him…you would have died before I ever returned with water!   And what good would it have done for you anyway!   I can’t believe I lost my head.   I’m so sorry, sir!”

Gevin shook his head, “It’s alright, Apple, it could be that you were supposed to react that way.    This whole thing could be part of a greater plan.    Our next task is to drink water from that stream.    I don’t know why, but it must be important.    However, I need to try on that plate armor first.”

“I’ll help you sir; you don’t have a squire around to assist.”

Gevin got to his feet, amazed that he felt no pain or even soreness in his muscles and limbs.   Every last scrape and bruise was gone.   He now scrutinized the plate armor, but it didn’t take him long to find a problem.

“There is no arming doublet amid the armor pieces.”

“An arming doublet?”

“It’s a specific garment that the armor actually attaches to; it’s essential for wearing plate armor.

He had no more explained this then in a blink of an eye, suddenly it was there, almost as if they had somehow simply missed it altogether.  

“Magic…” Applemint whispered, both of them awed and filled with dread upon seeing evidence of it.   Gevin didn’t hesitate, but picked up the garment, which, unlike most arming doublets, was one garment that covered everything from neck to the bottom of the feet in a combination quilted padding, bits of mail and leather and plenty of straps for connecting the metal armor pieces.

“I’m sure there is also a hood to cover the head as well, attached to the back of the neck,” he said aloud, not just to Applemint but to whoever - or whatever- was working the magic here.    He wasn’t surprised at all to find the hood exactly where he’d suggested that it should be.

“I hope this isn’t a mistake, sir,” Applemint mumbled as Gevin removed his boots.  He hesitated to take anything more off in the middle of the forest around a young girl.    She noticed his hesitance and said, “You should just ask for your bloody clothing to be replaced with the doublet.”

“Are you serious?”

“Why not?   It would save you a lot of time and think how quickly you could prepare for battle.    I’d give it a try, sir, unless you want to strip out of your clothes right now in front of me, in the middle of an enchanted forest.”

Gevin certainly didn’t want that, so with a sigh at how silly it would sound, he took Apple’s idea, “Um…I want to replace my bloody clothes with the arming doublet and all the pieces of plate armor, in their proper place and perfectly attached.    See, Apple, that was…WHOA!”  In an instant, what he’d spoken aloud was done and the bloody clothes he’d been wearing were piled at his feet.   He was completely dressed in the magic armor and doublet, including the helmet (with the visor up so he could see and breathe easier).   It was extremely lightweight; far lighter than it should have been, though it was definitely fine steel.   As he was glancing at the armor, however, to his alarm, it suddenly began changing color from a shiny silver to a glossy black.

“Uh oh!  Take it off, sir!  Take it off!”  Apple warned and he quickly yanked at the helmet, prepared to find it unmoving and perhaps even constricting as he clawed at it, but instead it just unbuckled easily and slid off his head.   The color remained glossy black though.    Still ill at ease, he tried to remove a gauntlet and it too came off easily, as did the breastplate (with Apple’s help).

“What about the doublet, sir?  Can you loosen it?”  She asked and he opened the collar easily.

“Yeah, it seems fine.   It’s not getting tighter or anything like that and I don’t have any sinister urges to go pillaging and looting.”

“So why did it turn black when you put it on?”

Gevin shook his head, “I don’t know; maybe it somehow knows that I am the son of the Black Duke.   He wore glossy black armor too.”  An idea came to him and he spoke out loud to the armor, “Armor, change color to silver.”

They waited and waited, but nothing happened.   Gevin spoke the command aloud again and still nothing happened.   So he tried something else he thought of, “Armor; disengage from the arming doublet and fall into a neatly stacked pile in front of Apple.”

Immediately the armor vanished from him and reappeared in front of the Halfling.

“Okay, very good; armor, reattach to my arming doublet in the correct position, fully attached.”

At once the magic armor obeyed.

“That is really amazing, sir!”  Applemint said with a grin.

“Yeah, that is rather neat.   I’d heard tales from the old days about magic suits of armor, but I never heard that they could do this.”

“Well, at least this suit can.   Notice that the color hasn’t changed; it stays black.”

“I guess that’s okay; we’ll probably learn why soon.”

“So what now, sir?”

“I was told to have this armor on before I took a drink of water from the stream you found, so I guess I should follow up by doing that next.”

“What if that is what activates a curse on the armor?   Maybe it will wait until you take a drink of water and then it will become jinxed.”

“I don’t think that will happen - why was I healed if I was only going to be jinxed a short time later?”

“That’s logical, sir, but it still worries me.”

“It worries me as well, Apple, but at least we’ve received some supernatural direction and it could be our only chance of getting you out of here.”

“Getting us out of here, Sir Gevin.”

“Yes, of course, I meant us.”

“I sincerely hope so,” The Taphelo Halfling girl responded, giving him a somewhat suspicious look.

“I’ll pick up my bloody clothes and we’ll go have a look at that stream.”

“It would be perfect for washing your clothes in, sir…downstream of where we get drinking water, of course.”

“We’ll fill up the canteens, even if there is some still left in them - who knows when we’ll cross another clear running stream.”

Gevin quickly grabbed up his stuff, amazed at how freely he could move, totally unencumbered while wearing the magic armor.   Apple led him about a hundred feet up the trail, around a dip and curve in the path and there it was; a fast moving creek, about ten feet wide and perhaps two feet deep at its’ deepest point in the channel.

Apple dipped one of their canteens into the water, filling it, then handed it up to him.   Then she submerged a second canteen under the running water.

“Let me try it first, in case there is a curse,” he told the girl as he brought the canteen to his lips.   Applemint paused and watched as he took a small sip, then, tasting the clear cold water, a lengthy drink.   Swallowing the last gulp, they waited for a long time and nothing seemed to happen.

“Hmm…” Gevin mumbled, wondering now about the credibility of the vision he’d had, “Go ahead, Apple, I think it’s safe.”

The Halfling girl quickly complied.   He saw her take a long pull of water for only a second before suddenly everything shifted and changed in the span of a heartbeat.



© 2020 Eddie Davis


My Review

Would you like to review this Chapter?
Login | Register




Request Read Request
Add to Library My Library
Subscribe Subscribe


Stats

9 Views
Added on November 16, 2020
Last Updated on November 16, 2020
Tags: Synomenia, Nihility_Gate, fantasy, elf, sword_and_sorcery, magic, knights, Halflings, Drow


Author

Eddie Davis
Eddie Davis

Springfield, MO



About
I'm a fantasy and science-fiction writer that enjoys sharing my tales with everyone. Three trilogies are offered here, all taking place in the same fantasy world of Synomenia. Other books and stor.. more..

Writing
One One

A Chapter by Eddie Davis


Two Two

A Chapter by Eddie Davis


Three Three

A Chapter by Eddie Davis