Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The King's Challenge #307

TKC 307

Perhaps our father had prepared for the day his younger brother turned traitor. Watching Lorn, I give thought to that likelihood. Clearly Lorn had no hand in our father joining Enris and me, and thus is this magic something he is unable to manipulate. This is an advantage. Clearly also the joining had displeased Lorn when he learned of it, and it still did. This, too, is to our advantage.

There is also a chance, of course, that it catapulted Lorn into his devious plans. He hoped to have his son Brandt on the throne before Enris and I made our stand. That advantage is Lorn’s, for he knows the kind of detail we are only able to guess at.

Right now, the point of this trap is to keep us from our father. It means he is still well enough to cause issues of succession for Lorn. Well, we shall see who will be seeing whom soon.

I squeeze Enris’ fist. “Keep it strong,” I whisper and sense rather than see his nod. Releasing our hold, I step aside. “Gennerin, aim for his feet.”

It occurs to me a sorcerer is ever protected by a personal shield, but few think to guard their feet.

“Iniri, I must have words,” Lorn states.

He is uncertain of my actions. He cannot hear me, but he sees my movements. Thus I shall keep his attention focused on me. I step into position alongside Enris, thereby blocking Gennerin from view. I hope the man is swift and silent; I shall gift him greater cover.

“Where is our father, Lorn?” I demand loudly, flapping my hands in a beseeching manner. “Please. Our father needs us.”

“Lorn, is it? No more ‘uncle’?”

“You lost the connection of family when you poisoned our father!” Enris growled.

Excellent. He has shifted Lorn’s attention … as Commander Athol Gennerin acts decisively for the future of the Ilfin.

And now, in a lighter font ...

Osgiliath, Dead Marshes and Dol Guldur

Monday, May 23, 2016

The King's Challenge #306

TKC 306

Lorn Makar is a tall man, spare of frame, his hair long and dark. He too possesses two different coloured eyes, but it is hard to discern on first viewing. One knows there is something odd about his eyes, and yet it requires close scrutiny to realise the blues are of different tones. After a time of knowing him one does not see it anymore; it is simply who he is.

The tall man, cloak swinging, laughing, wanders out of the darkness eclipsed by mine and Enris’ combined green glows.

Lorn Makar.

Uncle Lorn.

Sorcerer Extraordinaire.

Enris hisses and releases my hand to shape a fist. This he raises towards the approaching man in warning, while keeping his sword levelled. “Stay back, uncle!”

Damin makes a sound; he has understood who it is we now face. This is not a Glonu; this is an Ilfin who set a trap and has now sprung it.

“Please, whelp,” Lorn murmurs in his gravelly voice, “you cannot frighten me. Douse your light; you are blinding only yourself.”

Rarely have I known Enris to doubt himself, and now I see it in him. His sword shivers and the greenness wavers markedly. With resolve I thus clasp my hand over his raised one. The eerie glows strengthen again.

“Where is our father?” I demand.

Coming to an arrogant halt a few feet away, Lorn regards us with his superior smile, eyes flicking from me to Enris and back. “I admit I am surprised you two survived despite all that has happened. It appears you father knew what he was doing.”

“Meaning?” Enris frowns. I feel how his hand shakes under mine.

“Your father told me, his younger and loved brother, how he created in you the ability to act as one entity, claiming it would stave off death and also engender in you strength. And here you are.” Lorn spreads his hands.

Gondor and Rohan

The capacity to be alone

Friday, May 20, 2016

The King's Challenge #305

TKC 305

“Go back,” Damin whispers on the edge of hearing.

Tap tap tap. Tap. Tap. Tap.

No one moves until Leffandir suddenly shifts through us to stride into the darkness ahead. Then we are all in motion; in fact, I am running to catch up with her. Damin is on my heels, swearing foully under his breath.

“Empress!” I hiss.

“Iniri, this must be done.” Her voice floats back disembodied.

The sense of enclosed space abruptly gives way to a sensation of limitless nothingness. My immediate thought is that we fell into a void between stars.

Two beams bob nearer from behind, strengthening as Kay and Ross close in. In the resultant illumination, I stare into a massive area of the ship, a space empty, a space comprised of darkness.

Damin is beside me. “What is this?”

“A hold,” Gennerin murmurs, one of his cheekbones highlighted by Ross’ torch.

“It feels empty,” Mirlin murmurs somewhere.

“Something must be here,” Enris says.

“It is not empty,” I hear Leffandir state, but I no longer see her.

Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap. TAP.

Utter silence arrives then, filled with the echoes of our breathing. Briefly I wonder what our expressions would reveal had there been light surrounding us. Most of it will be fear, I think.

Laughter erupts to bounce off metal walls, insane cackles. “Welcome to my parlour!” a gruff voice declares.

“By the sands!” Mirlin blurts.

I cannot know what caused his reaction, but mine is one of fear. Without thinking, I launch the orb, hurtling emerald brilliance into the darkness. Hissing, Enris draws his sword and points it – a twin emerald fire spews from it into the emptiness. He approaches to take a position at my side and we, again without thought, link our free hands.

The mighty green brilliance intensifies into light able to blind.

From that intensity, a man emerges, laughing and shaking his head.

Witch's Garden

Thursday, May 19, 2016

The King's Challenge #304

TKC 304

How is it possible for a Glonu to be aboard an Ilfin vessel? There are three ways. One, the Glonu is a prisoner captured in battle. Two, the Glonu has infiltrated the ranks as a spy. And three, a Glonu is invited, as Leffandir has been. Her ‘invitation’ is open to interpretation, of course, but Glonu mediators have in the past been invited.

If a Glonu has set up a tapping rhythm in the bowels of this ship, he or she is not present via invitation.

Thus there are two possibilities. One, a spy went and got him or herself lost. Two, a prisoner escaped and is confounded by the innards of an alien ship.

Something more occurs to me. Ha. There is an additional likelihood to consider.

We have entered the deep cells. There may be more than one Glonu down here; there may be other criminals also. Ilfin murderers are ever taken away from general society, even from general prison conditions.

“Deep cells?” I demand of Commander Gennerin, addressing that one first.

“Not on this carrier,” the man murmurs, “and never is the access sealed.”

“We entered via a potential escape hatch, not the main access,” Kay says, throwing a thumb over his shoulder in the direction we entered from.

“True, and yet I say to you there are no cells,” Gennerin insists. “It is more likely that a Glonu infiltrated and got lost.”

That is one of my options, yes, but the reality does not fit after all. No one is able to become that thoroughly lost on this vessel so as to never find the way out, whether Ilfin or Glonu. There are communications panels everywhere. This individual is so lost, he or she resorts to code tapping, hoping for rescue? Something is wrong with that scenario.

We look at each other at the same time.

This is a trap.

Mordor and Minas Morgul

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The King's Challenge #303

TKC 303

Tap. Tap. Tap tap. Tap.

Tap tap tap. Tap. Tap. Tap.


By the stars! The sound will cause insanity before an hour is out!

I hear Ross mutter under his breath, no doubt as affected. I wish to scream. Siri is silent behind me, but Leffandir swears continuously in a whisper. I do not blame her.

Soon Ross’ light illuminates movement ahead. The set of Damin’s shoulders is the most welcome sight ever. I manoeuvre past Ross to him, directly into his arms.

“Don’t let it get to you,” he murmurs in my ear before firmly setting me aside.

Easy for him. The last five years he lived amid the bustle of many, ever surrounded by sound; I spent those same five years in the countryside, with silence my companion. I give him a wry smile. It has already affected me, but I will attempt to control my reaction.

Kay’s torch is lit also and in the twin glows from his and Ross’ light, I realise this is a corridor. Metal lines the walls, with acoustic tiles overhead and underfoot. We are, in fact, still on a spaceship; my feelings of a maze and another world sit more in imagination than reality. The maze may prove true, but will be of the technological kind.

Tap tap. Tap tap. Tap. Tap.


I frown. There is a pattern in the tapping. A code, perhaps? Moving to Gennerin, I gesture for him to give me his ear. He leans closer and I say, “A code? Are you able to decipher it?”

He swivels his head to murmur, “It is a code, but one unknown to me. We have discussed this while we waited for you. No one here knows it.”

Damn, and now what?

Leffandir shoulders forward to where I stand with Gennerin. Taking my arm, she pulls me close and blurts into my ear, “That is a Glonu rhythm.”

The King's Challenge #302

We are in the final stretch. Only 64 episodes to go before we reach our target of 366 (because it's a leap year!) and then all will be gathered into one book ...

TKC 302

I am alone with Siri and Leffandir in padded chamber. This does not thrill me in the slightest. Yet I may have dealt with such a situation if it had been merely a padded chamber. The gaping dark hole the men vanished into thrills me even less.

The tapping is much louder and far more insistent. It becomes a rhythm beating into my every thought, weaving through the beats of my heart as a refrain of malevolence. Yes, malevolence. I am not comfortable at all.

Something is wrong.

Leffandir speaks first. “I feel a presence. It wants to destroy.”

Swallowing, I can only nod. Her words prove to me that I am not being fanciful; there is something other positioning itself and it may be to our detriment.

Siri whispers, “That door was sealed away for a reason. We should have left it alone.”

Hell. She is correct. Why do men always act without thinking?

A head erupts into our space, causing all three of us to flinch hard.

Ross grins at us. “Commander Gennerin sent me back for you. You are to follow.”

Unfortunately the commander is correct also. We cannot stay here. If the men do not return, we will be trapped. If we choose to follow into the darkness after too long a delay, we may be lost.

I incline me head. “Lead the way, Ross.”

The head vanishes and, drawing breath as if I will never again know oxygen, I swiftly step into the darkness and follow. I do not look back, but am aware of Siri behind me, with Leffandir trailing her.

Ross switches on the small light seated on the shoulder of his uniform, to my relief. “Keep your torches off,” I hear him say, “and follow mine.”

He is correct also. Too much light is a dead giveaway. The possibility exists also that we may need our torches if we are in darkness for a lengthy stretch; best not to expend them simultaneously.

It sounds as if we are entering a maze created to confuse us, one erected on a giant world lost in space. No longer does it remotely feel as we are aboard a ship.

I am not comfortable at all. Something is definitely wrong here.

Write even when the world is chaotic