Monday, July 11, 2016

The King's Challenge (ILFIN OF ARC) #353 #354 and #355

TKC 353 354 and 355

I am unaware of the return journey, other than the blurred foliage that accompanies my race through the forest. The silence is absolute; not even my pounding footsteps upon leaves and twigs offer up a sound. Enris is a ghost beside me, matching me pace for pace. This means I am running as fast as a Warrior; my fear for Iniri has lent wings to my feet.

When we attain the shuttle’s position, there is no one there. I come a dead stop, my head jerking side to side.

“I bloody told them to stay here,” Enris states.

“In the shuttle,” I gasp out, and hurtle towards the twisted ramp.

Indeed they are inside. King Linus sits on the metal floor with Iniri’s head on his lap. Siri massages Iniri’s feet, and she is pale with the effort of not revealing her fear. Kay sits head in hands behind Siri, while Ross and the pilot are in whispered conversation at the controls. Commander Gennerin stares out of a cracked window, his weapon at the ready.

Mirlin has both Iniri’s hands in his, concentrating fiercely. His gaze is fixed upon her face and his lips move soundlessly.

My heart nearly comes to a dead stop as well.

Linus looks up first, his attention immediately moving to Enris behind me. One eyebrow lifts in question.

Enris does not respond to that; he instantly shifts by me to kneel beside his sister. “How long?” he asks quietly, speaking to Mirlin.

“Ten minutes now,” the Soul Keeper murmurs. He does not deviate from his focus on Iniri.

“Keep the chant going,” Enris says as he positions himself to reach more easily for Iniri’s face. “Father, maintain contact at all times as well.”

Linus simply nods and tightens his hold on Iniri’s shoulders.

“Siri, you need to let go,” Enris continues. “This requires Makaran souls.”

I blink and look at my Massinian sister as she swallows and shuffles aside. Kay lowers his hands to reach out to her. I swallow as well; I realise I am beyond pleased that Siri has someone in her life who will always take care of her. Siri and Kay cannot be my focus now, though; I shift my attention back to the woman who holds my heart in her keeping.

“Coltern,” Enris prompts. “Take Siri’s place.”

I do so. I kneel at Iniri’s feet and lift them into my hands. So cold; too cold. Dread moves through me, and fear, terrible fear.

“Be positive!” Enris snaps at me. “Give her fear and you will kill her.”

Rage takes the place of fear. “You can read me now?”

“Yes, because we are all connected.” Enris gestures with a lifted chin at the circle of hands upon a dying woman. “Now shut up and focus.”

I swallow rage and astonishment and I do as he suggests.

Enris places his hands upon Iniri’s cheeks, fingers splayed. Breath whistles from him; he has realised how cold she is, as I have. Leaning in, he places his forehead upon hers and closes his eyes.

No one moves then. Time and place freezes into a cocoon of immovability.

Then Enris speaks. His words are ancient, the words of a space beyond spaces, of time before, of places eternal and forever beyond reach. He speaks the tongue of his legendary grandfather, Ilfinay Makar.

We hear the words, but no one is able to translate even one syllable. It is as gibberish to us and yet I am certain every hair in the back of every neck present spikes to attention. Mine does, painfully. Gooseflesh races over every micron of my skin.

Iniri convulses.

Mirlin erupts into loud chant.

Linus Makar starts to hum an eerie melody that threatens to snap every spiked hair on body at the roots.

Suddenly the triskelion image shivers into being, causing me to blink rapidly. Swiftly I understand; I am touching Iniri while she is unguarded. I see her soul. And this is my part in this ritual. I must call her, talk to her, return her soul to awareness of this present.

Shutting out the actions of the others, I call to my reason for living.

Iniri.

Silence greets my summons.

I love you, Iniri.

C-c-colter-n?

Jubilation floods my every cell. I am here, my love. I am waiting for you. Come back to me.

Where am I? It is so dark.

Return to the light, Iniri. Follow my voice. Feel Enris’ hands on you. Hear the words and music also.

I h-hea-r …

She convulses again and then arches her back from the floor. A loud gasp fills the metal space as she inhales a massive breath of air.

Then she is coughing and shuddering. Together her father and her brother lift her into a seated position. I notice that Mirlin hangs onto her hands with everything he is, his face strained and ashen. It is not over, despite this animation.

Enris grips her face again and shouts words into her mouth.

Coltern?

By the stars, ice and flame races across my scalp simultaneously. I am here! Iniri, follow my voice!

Her head snaps back and she screams.

I clamber over her legs and shove both Enris and Mirlin off her. Gripping her to me, I whisper in her ear, “We are real, my love. Do you feel it?”

Again her head snaps backward … and then those glorious orbs, one emerald, the other sapphire, impale me. “I feel it,” she says hoarsely.

Iniri collapses into my embrace then, sobbing, clutching at me. Tears run freely over my cheeks as I hold her. Utter gratitude fills my being. To the day I die I will honour Enris, Linus and Mirlin with all I am for returning to me my heart and my soul.




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