Thursday, February 11, 2016

The King's Challenge #211 and #212

TKC 211 and 212


There are scuffling sounds in the darkness. I hear a woman’s voice and a man’s murmur in reply. They seek a place to relieve themselves.

Grinning, Marian gets up to help them, swiftly disappearing into the antechamber.

Soon all is silent again.

Hal sits with his chin on his chest, breathing a deliberately slow rhythm. I do not speak, aware he has sent his mind travelling. Beside me Kay is as wordless, but his concentration seems to have moved elsewhere. Perhaps he too sends his mind travelling, perhaps into memory in search of what his talent possibly is. Maybe something happened in his past he could not explain before and now he will see it differently.

I wait in this silence. It is unnerving.

A soft sound teases the edge of my hearing and my spine straightens in reaction. This sound has an element of stealth; careful tread, masked breathing, and a sense of expectancy. Is someone out there? If so, why employ secrecy? Are we not in this together?

I want to shake Kay into awareness and yet I remain still, choosing instead to listen.

A soft plink comes then, as if a toe accidentally nudged a stone, and Kay too turns his head … to the darkness behind us, to the deeper spaces we are yet to discover. Every hair on my arms and in the back of my neck spikes to attention.

Hal moves, lifting his head, and I reach out to grip his arm, placing a finger over my lips. He blinks, but nods and remains silent.

Kay rises carefully, hand on his blade, and creeps cautiously into the recesses. I want to scream, I am that unnerved.

Tense moments go by, and then Kay returns.

“Someone else is in these caves,” he murmurs. “He or she has retreated.” Frowning, he sits facing the space behind me. “We need more people and more light to go after whoever it is.”

Fingers of fear crawl along my spine. I shift to better watch the darkness. This space now contains the element of danger, an unholy intention from an unknown watcher.

Hal whispers, “Glonu. I am receiving a vague impression of the maze symbol.”

Kay curses under his breath. “We must …”

“No,” Hal interrupts. “He or she is alone and moving fast into the deeper cavities. I say we track him after we have had some rest.”

Marian returns then. “And?” she demands of Hal. “Did you get anything?”

Damn, yes. Has Hal managed to contact Damin? “Hal?” I prompt.

The Messenger leans forward. “Nothing specific. What I mean is, I see images, but they are jumbled. I think that implies I sense thoughts of more than a few, and now I need to sift through them to find the one that may be Damin. Of course, he no doubt guards his thoughts …” He gives me a wry smile. “I’m sorry, Siri, I have no answers yet, but I am not giving up.”

“That’s all right and thank you,” I respond.

“What kind of images?” Kay asks.

“Yellow knots, red splashes, blue … I think flowers or a leaf construction …”

“Fear and death,” Kay mutters. “Damin and I discussed the meaning of images …” He pauses to grip my hand, probably reading my horror. “Siri, no; maybe Hal’s symbols are different.”

“Fear and death is correct,” the Messenger says. “They are engaged in battle.”

“What happened to having no answers?” I blurt out, dread infusing my every blood vessel.

He closes his eyes. “Sensing a battle is not the same as knowing how it fares.” His eyes snap open suddenly and he stares at us, his mouth opening and closing.

“What is it?” Kay demands.

“Glonu,” Hal states. “They are everywhere.”

“The ships have landed,” Marian whispers.



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