Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The King's Challenge #244 - #247

TKC 244, 245, 246 and 247

Amassing at the treeline, we await the Ilfin flyover. Barely has light greyed the sky before it comes to pass.

A mighty roar of sound enters our space, deafening and debilitating, and then a host of shuttles are swift and intent above us. As one they head east on a slightly southern trajectory.

I watch carefully and make note of the relevant landmarks we will use to reach the same destination. There isn’t much to pinpoint, given the obscuring achieved by the Glonu, but it will suffice.

I point out the nearest feature to Damin. “There. See the outcrop slightly darker than the rock around it? We aim towards it.”

He has marked the same pointers, and simply nods. It means we will cross the open space before us. Damin calls out, “We go now while this half-light offers us protection!”

He steps out and hastens forward. Swiftly the others follow.

As the sound of the Ilfin ships die away, Lyra comes to a halt beside me, watching Damin lead our troop across. “We came further north than I did before,” she murmurs. “We were truly lost.”

I glance at her. “You need to look inward more and trust what you see there. Lyra, we are out of time here. We have to get to that spire before it is fully operational.”

She nods, shrugs and moves to cross the openness. Halting abruptly, she swings back. “You are frustrated. Enris, the truth is, you need to see this time, not what was before. You too will be more effective.” She then goes on walking.

I stare across the space. She is right. I tend to base current decisions on previous encounters, when in this current era there are changes. The Glonu soldiers are flesh to the last for this war, where before they were both of form and ether. The soldiers are markedly better trained also. In previous encounters, they were clumsier. And this time the Glonu have the numbers.

It is time indeed to re-evaluate mind-set and strategy.

Bringing in the rear, I follow the others.

The river is flowing fast, but it is shallow and we cross without issue. On the opposite bank the stone is sharper, more like flint. It must be due to the run-off from the edged outcrops in the distance.

I stop to stare into the distance.

Those rock faces were mined, which is why they no longer possess the roundness of what we have encountered to date. They were mined for the Spire. My heart thuds in my chest, for a recall one of my instructor’s words, a time long gone, a man long passed on. Ha, do not base what you do now on what went before, true, but do not forget the lessons learned then either.

Enris, one day a rock will stand in your path, whether great or insignificant, and it will be an obstacle or an answer. The choice will be yours, for how you regard it will determine your actions thereafter.

I already know perception is power, and therefore it is the rest of his words that hold the true meaning I now seek.

A rock is of time, Enris, and will reveal to you the age of on edifice or the freshness of a nuance. You will understand what I mean. My advice? See the rock. Read the rock. Feel the rock. Know the rock. There is your answer.

I remember laughing at the man, for it was too cryptic to have meaning. I also remember that he repeated it word for word, forcing me to commit his ‘advice’ to memory.

See the rock. I see it, indeed. Read the rock. I recognise it as mined.

Feel the rock.

Swiftly I bend to gather up a few slivers of the shale underfoot. Rubbing them between my fingers, I concentrate. They have a soapy feel, as if they are soft, quite unlike the hard stones we have stumbled across until now.

Know the rock.

Porous. This rock is porous. Not only is it easier to mine, but it allows for ethereal beings to enter and exit a space created from it with greater ease.

It is doubtful my instructor spoke then of an actual physical rock – he may have inferred any type of conundrum whether physical or of the mind – and yet never has advice been this accurate. Laughing under my breath, I thank the man for forcing me to commit it to memory.

“Damin!”

He chivvies the others into the trees and when the last man has vanished from view, he lopes back to me.

“Enris, get under cover.”

“In a moment.” I point at the outcrop we marked earlier. “Would you agree that has been mined?’

The fair man squints through the gloom. Eventually he nods. “It has the look of a disused quarry, yes.””

I show him the slivers in my hands.

Frowning, he takes one. He is aware I am trying to make a point. He, too, rubs it between his fingers, an automatic reaction. His brow clears moments later. “Soft,” he whispers. His head jerks up. “If the Spire was raised with this …”

“… it will fall easily, yes.”

“Damn, I wish we still had horses,” he mutters.

All our horses scattered when the fighting began, unfortunately. I get Damin’s point. At least one of us on horseback to make up the time to the Spire will have helped at this point.

He is staring fixedly at me, causing me to shiver. I may be Enris Makar, but Damin Mur is the Marsh Devil; he has talents suited to this world also and can be intimidating.

“You are a Warrior,” he states. “Time to run, Enris, with all your strength and stamina. Find the Ilfin commander and tell him how to bring the Spire down.” Still he stares at me. “I will lead the others.”

Inhaling sharply, I realise Lyra is correct again. Think for this time … as Damin does. I am the Warrior. I am able to run for days and, right now, that is what is required of me.

“You are on the mark,” I murmur, and shove the rock samples into a pocket. Swivelling my shoulders, I step forward. “Take care of my sister.” I prepare to run …

“Lyra is a Makar too, isn’t she?”

I smile over my shoulder. “Yes.” Jogging forward, I inflate my lungs.

“What about me, Enris?” Damin calls out from behind me.

“You will know soon enough!” I throw over my shoulder … and pick up speed.

Soon all is a blur. Trees, rock, sky and earth.

Damin’s faint curse causes me to grin.

I run.



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