Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The King's Challenge #314


TKC 314

I struggle to sit. By the moment I seem to be weaker. Is it being in orbit that leeches from me my energy or has the lengthy journey through space finally caught up?

Feeling less than capable is hard to accept. Always I have been at the forefront of both action and thought. I seized the day, and now I am barely able to sit and that after a rather long ‘nap’.

I begin to suspect something else is at work here.

“Majesty, you need more rest.”

By the stars! Moravin’s voice irritates me. The man may be Brigadier-General of the Ilfin army, with the voice to match, but that tenor truly drives me insane. I feel as if the man speaks in a whisper through a megaphone and ends up sounding like a bloody foghorn. It rattles my psyche. I wish he will go away.

“A man can only sleep so much,” I snap at him. “Get me some coffee, will you?”

I do not see him, but I hear his footsteps recede, and finally I am alone. Moravin takes his duties a bit too seriously, in my opinion; ever he is around. I believe I will ask that a common soldier assume the duty of guardian in this sparse hideaway. A soldier will not dare to address his king unless invited to do so.

After a struggle and some succinct words, I lean back against the pillows, more or less in a seated position. Where is this cure Lorn keeps telling me is on the way? I begin to think my brother is lying. Perhaps there is no cure.

How fares the confrontation on the planet below? No one tells me anything, afraid bad news will set me back. Damn it, I am physically debilitated, not mentally unstable.

It is time to take up the reins again; to here and no further. I am Linus Makar and I do seize the day.

'... the agony of not being able to read it fast enough ...'

Thank you, Monique! 

Infinity's photo shoot!

Recently had a few photos taken (because my camera cannot deliver anything like this!) and here are some of the results :)

Money Drawing Spell

Monday, May 30, 2016

The King's Challenge #310 to #313

TKC 310 - 313

Enris grips Lorn by the throat. “Your son will not long sit on any seat, uncle. I swear it.”

In that moment I realise Lorn does love his son. It is not simply ambition that has caused him to reach for glory on his son’s behalf, for he deflates as if someone stuck a needle into him.

“He will talk now,” I say. “Enris, release him.”

My brother shoves Lorn against the padding, and lets him go. “If you value the life of …”

“Brandt means everything to me,” Lorn spits. “If you promise to leave him alone, I will talk.”

“I cannot make that promise,” Enris responds. “Our cousin has designs on the throne of Makaran and that makes him a traitor.”

Swallowing repeatedly to clear his throat for air, Lorn shakes his head. He attempts to lift a hand to the affected area, but the burn there is too much agony and thus he goes on swallowing.

“Wait,” he gargles, and swallows a final time. Then, gazing directly at Enris, he says, “Brandt knows nothing, I swear that on my life. Your cousin merely believes that you are lost either to time or death and therefore assumes he will be declared the heir in your stead. I have made it clear that if anything happens to our king, I will not rule. Brandt is innocent, although I admit he is ambitious. He will not easily step aside, but he does not deserve to die.”

Enris purses his lips and sucks loudly at his teeth thereafter. “Fine, he will have the opportunity to speak for himself. Now talk.”

“What do you want to know?”

Leffandir falls to her knees beside the man, her lips pulled back in a snarl. “Did you kill my daughter?”

Lorn swivels his eyes to her. “She was an abomination. Yes, I killed her.”

“Damin!” I screech as both Leffandir and Enris launch at the man, both beyond rage.

Damin instantly abandons his post at the torn exit and wades in to bodily haul Enris away. Gennerin, bless him, takes hold of Leffandir and pulls her off. She fights him, but he manoeuvres her to the other side of the small space and there he pushes her into the wall and holds her still.

“Murderer!” Leffandir spits.

“Coming from you, Empress, the accusation holds no weight,” Lorn states. “No one in this room is as guilty as you are. Perhaps it was your fate to lose someone you loved, given how many loved ones you caused to mourn over time.”

Leffandir slides down the wall and her head lowers into a cradle of arms. Sobs shake her entire body as she weeps. It seems Lorn hit a nerve and she cannot deny his truth. I want to feel sorry for her, but she has killed many; perhaps it is her fate. My attention moves to Enris; he is unmoving and Damin has released him.

Abruptly he swings and punches the padding, doing so over and over in absolute silence. My heart breaks for my brother.

“You came to me, remember?” Lorn murmurs, watching him.

Enris straightens and is unmoving. He stares at Leffandir huddled into herself, shaking with the force of her grief. Eventually he nods, a slow and deliberate gesture. “Yes, I came to you.”

Leffandir’s head jerks up. Tears roll over her cheeks.

Enris swings to Lorn. “I came to you, for I did not know what to do next. The woman I loved was revealed as Glonu and that meant my neck in a guillotine if anyone heard of it. How did I know? Our daughter was not completely flesh; she was part ethereal. Half a light being. Part Glonu. That too would have seen me killed, and yet I was prepared to run with the woman I loved and our daughter. I needed help and came to you.” He paced away to stand before Leffandir, looking down. “Two days later our daughter was dead. I thought she died because her dual state weakened her.”

Blinking, Leffandir stared up. She uttered not a word.

Enris closed his eyes. “Given the terrible words we said to each other when I realised you were Glonu and given the death of our child, when you disappeared I believed, after a time, it was better for both of us. I believed grief and anger caused you to flee.”

“Did you look for me?” Leffandir asked, her tone without emotion.

“For many months.”

Lowering her head, she sighed.

“And my search uncovered the salient fact that you were the bloody Empress of the Glonu Empire,” Enris snarled. “By the stars, Leffandir, what was I supposed to think then?”

“What every Ilfin automatically thinks,” she muttered from her lowered position. “No Glonu can be trusted, not ever. Go away, Enris. There is nothing left. My one consolation in all this is that now I know you had no hand in Didra’s death.”

Lorn snorts. “You set your sights on the Makaran throne, Empress. Where is the trust in those conditions?”

“Let it go,” I snap. “Lorn, how long has our father left? What did you poison him with?”

Silence filled with heavy breathing descends. Leffandir seeks to control herself and breathes fast, while Enris is so deliberate in his inhales and exhales that I understand he attempts to control his fury … no, he attempts to control the Warrior within. I glance at Damin, to see him watching Enris carefully. Damin is aware that Enris can explode into the kind of action that has no remorse.

“Your father is tough,” Lorn mutters. “Another man would have succumbed by now, but he holds out. I had hoped his ‘illness’ would fell him, but we are at the point where we may need to help him along.”

Enris is a blur of movement … and so is Damin. Damin is faster, for he is not bowed in this by emotion, and he decks Enris solidly in the jaw. My brother goes down hard and does not move. Damin laid him out cold.

“Stubborn,” Damin mutters, standing over the prone form shaking his hand. “Bloody hard jaw, too.”

“Take me to my father,” I say to Lorn.

He glares at me. “I cannot walk, remember?”

I gather myself to stand. Then I inhale the courage needed to go to the man. The sight of his burnt hands makes my stomach churn. “I will heal your feet and, if you take me to my father and tell me what you used to slowly poison him, I will heal your hands also.” Kneeling, I lay my fingers on his boots. “You will lose your powers in the healing, but you will be alive and whole.”

Those two blue eyes stare at me. “Girl, I do not want to live without my powers. Besides, your father will kill me if he is renewed. I have no life left either way.”

“Then do it for Brandt,” I urge him. “I give you my word, uncle, that I will speak to Brandt’s innocence. I will ensure he lives a long and full life.”

Lorn Makar stares into my soul. That is what it feels like, so intense is his scrutiny. “You got it all, didn’t you? Every talent? Iniri, what a sorcerer you will make, far more than what I am capable of, if only you will accept who you are. I suggest you step up, for that is the only way to discover what kills your father. I will take you to him and then it is up to you.”

I shiver. He means it. Lorn Makar is a dead man and his final act is to create as much chaos as he is able to. Fine. I will do what I must, no matter what it costs me.

By the alone for the alone

Thursday, May 26, 2016

TKC Collage (Iniri 2)

Fourteen images later!

The King's Challenge #309

TKC 309

My stomach continues to roil even after Damin and Ross dump Lorn Makar in the small and insulated chamber. Never had I used a talent to cause harm and I do not know how to deal with the result of my actions.

Retreating to sit legs drawn up opposite where Lorn lies, I remain silent. Damin flicks me a searching look, but as the focus must be with our captive he soon turns away. Suddenly I feel bereft.

Siri sits beside me, briefly leaning her shoulder against mine in support. She understands. Now I do not feel as lonely.

Leffandir paces, her face expressionless. She looks at no one; she has focused her attention inward.

Siri healed Lorn enough for the man to be conscious and Enris props him up against the padded wall opposite me and Siri. Enris crouches at the man wounded feet. “Well done, Commander,” he murmurs, indicating the two bolts that felled the man.

Gennerin stares down wordless. He holds a small crossbow in one hand, a new bolt attached. Lorn Makar will not get away from him, even if he was able to. “The crossbow is silent,” Gennerin eventually remarks in answer to Enris.

“Indeed,” my brother murmurs. “Unfortunately, Lorn was a bit vocal.”

“They will be looking for him now,” Damin says in a grim tone. Jerking his head at Kay, he indicates that he and the westerner take up positions at the torn hole. There the two men stand guard; Ross, upon sign from his commander, joins them.

It is time for Lorn to talk. Gennerin stands at the man’s left, while Mirlin hunkers to his right.

Enris stares into our uncle’s two-toned blue eyes. “Talk.”

Lorn is lucid, although agony assails him, clear in the way he twitches. “Boy, I have nothing for you.”

“Then you die now.”

“If I die, your father does as well. Go ahead; my son is ready to sit on the throne back on Makaran.”


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The King's Challenge #308

TKC 308

I hear only a whisper of sound, which means Lorn is deaf to it. While I marvel at Gennerin’s ability to move stealthily, I silently urge him to be swift.

He is.

A bolt smacks into the arch of Lorn’s left foot, piercing the leather as if it is mere paper. As our uncle screams another bolt penetrates his right ankle. Screeching, Lorn Makar hits the floor hard. I sweat the second arrow shattered his ankle.

Lorn can no longer stand, never mind walk. Advantage is ours. Well done, Commander Gennerin.

Enris and Damin hurtle forward together and hold the flailing man down. He continues to scream, now obscenity and agony.

Kay whispers in my ear from behind, “Incapacitate his hands also. A sorcerer does not need his feet to dispense spells.”

The westerner is on the mark. I immediately stride forward to kneel beside our uncle. Without looking at either Enris or Damin, I smack my glowing hands onto my uncle’s and grip hard.

The man screams as if devils pursue him, and fire licks over my shin and his. Green fire. By the stars, it is an odd sight; there is actual fire and it is hot as hell’s acid, but my skin remains whole. Unfortunately I cannot say the same for Lorn’s hands.

His fingers blacken and curl, with foul tendrils twirling upwards. It is sickening to witness, but this man poisoned our father; there is no mercy he deserves.

Enris lays one hand on the burning clasp. “Enough,” he murmurs. He must feel the unholy heat, but he keeps his hand in place. “Let go, Iniri.”

I let go. Stumbling up, I turn away to retch repeatedly.

Lorn Makar is silent; he is unconscious and I do not care.

Siri kneels beside the prone form, touching him briefly. Drawing in a breath, she looks up at me. “We need him to talk, yes? Then he needs some healing. He will die otherwise.”

“I don’t care!” I shout.

“But I do,” Enris says grimly. “We have to know how far this goes. Siri, heal him only to stave off death.”

About Silence

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

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The King's Challenge #299, #300 and #301

TKC 299, 300 and 301

The accusation of throne stealing will set Enris off.

I know how much he has avoided being close to it; he left Makaran to deny not only the expectation, but also proximity. My brother has a horror for that kind of rulership. Our father gave his blessing for us to leave our homeworld, having realised Enris in particular required distance.

I step between him and Leffandir. “Let it go,” I tell my brother and then swing around to the Glonu Empress. “And you keep quiet. If you truly know Enris, you will know how untrue your claim is.”

Silence reigns for a few moments before Leffandir says, “Fine, as you say.”

There is a lilt to her words and my eyes narrow in speculation. “But?”

“There was a smoking urn, Iniri, and having heard what Damin says, it can only mean sorcery was in play the night our daughter died.”

Blinking, for I hear her underlying sorrow, I twist back to Enris to stare at him.

“I did not kill the child …”

Child?” Leffandir hisses.

“Hush; let Enris speak,” I insert softly.

“… but I wished for a way out of a terrible situation,” Enris murmurs. “Did my thoughts cause what happened? I hope not, but having also heard what Damin tells us, I now wonder if Uncle Lorn didn’t step in.”

“Did Lorn know of your relationship?” I ask.

“He knew there was someone, and he was the first to see me after the birth.”

Closing my eyes, I move away. Even a fool will understand, after all that we have learned, our uncle the sorcerer did something about a situation untenable to Makaran rulers.

“I would never hurt a child,” Enris snaps at Leffandir.

“But you call her a ‘child’. She had a name!”

Enris steps back. “It is how I deal with my grief. It gifts distance.”

Leffandir stares at him. “Grief?”

Enris does not reply; I think he is incapable. I glance at Damin to find him watching me instead of the by-play between my brother and Leffandir. “What is it?” I frown at him.

“Souls return,” he murmurs. “That baby girl drew breath …”

“What are you getting at?” Leffandir almost screams.

“She is part Ilfin,” Damin responds equably. “All Ilfin are original souls. Your daughter has or will return.”

Enris looses a fist into the insulation padding. “No more!”

This time the silence is unbroken, for there is now too much emotion in the small chamber. Gennerin, I notice, stares fixedly at his feet. He no doubt understands, as I do, to bring Enris into fury will unleash an unstoppable phenomenon. The Warrior will assume control.

Into the silence there arrives a different sound, something external. How that is possible I cannot say, for this small space isolates sound as well as temperature, but we all hear it. Heads lift and eyes track for direction.

Tap, tap, tap.

Either someone mighty strides on metal legs somewhere beyond, a size and weight that translates into sound despite the insulation … or someone taps on a pipe that feeds directly into this chamber.

Damin moves to the far side of the small space and puts his ear to the padding, as well as one hand splayed. Closing his eyes, he listens intently. No one makes a sound; we wait with bated breath for his announcement.

Tap. tap. Tap.

Kay carefully approaches to lay an ear also. A huge frown mars his features.

Abruptly Damin steps away and in that same moment Kay straightens with alacrity. The two men stare at each other. Without explanation both begin pulling at the insulation material, hands and daggers tearing and cutting.

Enris marches in. “Explain!”

Damin throws a look over his shoulder. “Quiet. Just be quiet.”

The hairs on my arms lift as foreboding assails me. Without thinking it, my hands erupt into multi-hued glows.

“Control it,” Damin whispers. “An Elemental at this point is as dangerous as an angry Warrior.”

His voice is low, and his words barely carry. Swallowing, I force myself into calm. My hands return to normal, although my heartbeat does not. I lay a calming hand on my brother’s forearm.

Tap, tap, tap, tap …

Hauling a slice of padding aside, Damin and Kay reveal the metal walls … and a door.

We all stare at it.

Tap, tap, tap, tap.

Now the sound is loud. There is someone on the other side of the hidden door. An entrance deliberately sealed? I do not like this.

Damin puts a finger to his lips.

No one dares move, until Damin gestures Mirlin closer. The man moves in, a silent and stealthy tread that has my hair standing up again, and leans his forehead against the exposed metal.

I realise Leffandir and Siri have taken up positions on either side of me, close, and both faces ashen. I realise they hope I will protect them. For Siri it is not so strange, for she knows what I can do, but for Leffandir to seek my protection is decidedly odd. Clearly she knows what I can do as well, but her relying on it is an entirely new sensation. She is vulnerable and suddenly I view her in an entirely different light.

Mirlin steps back, nodding.

Damin instantly lifts a leg and kicks the door inward. A might resonance erupts as metal shudders in the impact. Damin hurtles into the darkness beyond and Mirlin and Kay vanish also. Gennerin marches past us, his face as stone, and Ross follows. They too vanish.

Become the universe


Thursday, May 12, 2016

110 000+!

Thank you for visiting! HUGELY appreciate you!


The King's Challenge #296 - #298

TKC 296 and 297 and 298

The troubles afflicting Massin becomes secondary to the present. The conflict ever existent between Ilfin and Glonu is now less than what we face.

This is life and death for a father we love. This is also about the convoluted realities surrounding relationships, and thus our entire world is narrowed into one tiny space. Surrounded by the insulating material an engine room requires not only to regulate temperature, but also to dampen sound, we face each other.

Given everything that has happened to this point, we are the final players in a game of survival. We will determine whether the way of life we have known until now will continue, or whether a new order will arise from the ashes of the old.

Somewhere nearby, my father hopes for a cure, while others seek to murder him. In this claustrophobically padded chamber in the bowels of a mighty ship, we must choose a path.

Commander Athol Gennerin is the soldier we will rely on to stand forth on behalf of our armed forces. His nemesis in this is Brigadier Fenn Moravin. That is one relationship, and the two men are a match. I assume Gennerin gives thought to the confrontation ahead and the determined set of his mouth tells me I am correct in my assumption.

This is a quagmire of relationships, for there is Mirlin and Kay, the two surviving westerners that have assumed importance despite ages of divide between the sea and plateau dwellers of Massin. Somewhere in their past they were in positions of responsibility. Thus far both have proven trustworthy, although I still cannot say I like Mirlin much.

Then there is Kay and Siri Mur, as there is Damin and me. I have known Damin a long time, but Kay and Siri are new to each other and to love. With the Marsh Devil watching their every action, it cannot be easy. Speaking of love, there is Enris and Leffandir, and theirs is an ancient connection, one filled with obsession and accusation. I wonder how it will influence this present; my impression of what lies between them is one of an explosive nature. One or the other may create chaos and it may become the kind of chaos difficult to lay to rest again. They now watch each other more than Damin keeps an eye on his sister.

First point of decision is to determine how much time we have available to us and, to that end, I swivel to stand directly in front of my brother. He does not see me, for his focus is with Leffandir. I sense her gaze boring into the back of my skull, however; she is more aware than Enris is.

I jab Enris. “Look at me.”

He blinks and his gaze settles on me. “Why is she here?”

“We can discuss that later. Right now I need to know about our father. Enris, focus! You saw him, you say. How is he? How much time does he have?”

He swallows and passes a shaking hand over his hair. “Bloody hell, this gets way too complicated. Yes, fine! We caught a glimpse of him when Mirlin shifted through a locked door.” Enris points to the left. “That way, a few corridors removed from this space. We needed to retreat when we saw how many soldiers Moravin has around him.”

“By the stars, Enris, tell me about father,” I blurt out.

“He can still walk, but is bent as if enduring much agony,” Enris whispers. “He seems somehow removed from what happens around him.”

“How long?”

“Not long.” Enris closes his eyes. “He will fall into a coma soon.”

“Or Moravin will kill him,” Mirlin states grimly. “And then he will use your father’s body as a trophy to claim power. Whatever the upstart Makar believes back home, he will not be king. Moravin aims to take all power unto himself.”

“You got all that from one glimpse?” I frown in Mirlin’s direction.

He shrugs at me. “I read people. Think what you will, but I am not wrong.”

“Moravin has ever been ambitious,” Gennerin inserts, his tone flat. “With power this close to hand, he will not now relinquish it.”

“What of our uncle?” I ask of Enris.

“We did not see him.”

“He is close,” Damin puts in. “I read a red sun, which is fear and reflects your father’s state of mind, and I also see a silver sword, which can only be Moravin’s ambition. Beyond a host of flitting images, which I assume are the guards, there is also a smoking urn.” Damin draws in a breath and moves to a position beside Enris, from where he looks directly at me. “Iniri, I have seen the black urn wreathed in vapours only on Makaran and only when I was at the healers’.”

Damin has remembered his past self. I swallow and cannot find the words to continue the conversation.

He offers a lopsided smile. “Some of what was returns, but what matters now is the symbol of the urn. That signifies great talent. The presence of sorcery.”

“Uncle Lorn Makar,” Enris states.

“A smoking urn,” Leffandir murmurs. “How enlightening. The night our daughter was murdered a wispy vessel hovered in her chamber.”

Immediately my brother shifts around me. “Are you accusing me of sorcery?”

She braces, her gaze unblinking. “You killed her. Yes, I accuse you of sorcery!” She throws an arm wide. “Are you not perhaps in league with your uncle, Enris? Maybe you are tired of waiting for your throne!”

Ost-in-Edhil and Khazad-dum

Amon Sul and Carn Dum