I did not end up writing at all last night. I had a raid so I took the night off. However I did manage to right with a vengeance this morning and just broke 40,000 words. Since I wrote about 4,000 words today I am hoping that I can do the same if not a bit more tomorrow. I would really like to leave the weekend sitting at 45,000 words so I can hopefully finish up by Thursday. If not I guess I can write next weekend as well. Things are starting to come together in my mind and I think the timing is going to work out just fine. We are barreling towards the main conflict being resolved and I have about 10,000 words to go.
Here is the story so far if you want to catch up. Once again… completely raw and unedited.
- Shadowed Stone
- Little Giant Girl
- Birthday Wishes
- The Gifts
- The Incursion
- The Watch
- Rough Landing
- Dragon Bone
- People of the Storm
- The Lady
- Cambridge Beneath
- Prisoner of War
- Parting the Veil
- People of the Earth
- The Pack
- Brittagus Escape
- The Lightskimmer
- The Nightlords
22 – Reckoning
Merowyn knelt at the cliffside watching the sprites darting in and out of the keep below. She thought to herself, something must be controlling them. They all looked as though they had been drained of their light and where simply going through the motions like puppets. She knew that they would have to rescue them, but she was not entirely certain how. She had used the power of spring to inspire and empower the little pixies before, and she wondered if it would be enough to wake them from their present stupor. The problem was that on this side of the wall there was simply not enough “life” to gain power from. Her magic would be extremely weakened and as such she was hesitant to act without a backup plan.
Kale and Jace, they both had proven themselves to be more than competent fighters during the conflict with the reavewolves. But she did not want to harm the spites, they were in essence her children. They had adopted her as their “Lady” almost as a patron diety. She felt needed and loved and everything she was missing when she ran away from Avalon. She didn’t want harm to come to any of them, and how could she ask Kale and Jace to go into a situation like that with their hands tied. There had to be another way to save the sprites.
She wondered if they rushed the keep, could they possibly take down whatever force had done this to them. Maybe then the effects of this dark magic would reverse itself. That was just speculation because really she had no idea what might have caused them to be in this present state. They looked like they had been drained and turned into dark versions of themselves. Hell for that matter she had no idea if she even could reverse the effects. This indecision infuriated her almost more than the fact that someone had attacked her children. She felt helpless for the first time in a really long time. She was a woman of great power… how could she be paralyzed like this.
She heard someone walking up to her side and looked noticing it was Jace. The boy had an excited look on his face and spoke in hushed words as he got close to her. “I might have an answer… Kale and I scouted around and found a pipe that leads into the keep.” He said with determination “We can probably sneak into the keep through the sewer system. It appears unguarded.” Mero beamed “Great Work! This might just be the answer. Lets ready everyone and get going then.” She stood gathering her things.
At the news Jace closed his eyes and concentrated as his cloak morphed around him into the leafscale armor. Picking up his lyre and staff the morphed them as well into the sword and shield. He slung his pack onto his back and was as ready as he would ever be for the journey ahead. He crossed the cliff to Kale who was doing the same. She already had the great silver hammer slung across her back along with her pack. He took her hand in his and squeezed it tight, and she returned his glance. “We ready for this?” he queried and she nodded with a stoic look on her face. “Lets save the sprites.” Kale replied as she released his hand and began walking towards the path leading into the ravine below that lead to the drainage pipe.
As she walked she was met by Mero, Dobin and the other sprites all of which ready for battle. They were storming the keep, and hopefully no one would notice until it was too late for them. They would take the central chamber, either capture or destroy the enemy and hopefully save the sprites. She was certain that the sewer was not left completely unguarded, but they wouldd deal with whatever came along the way. Dimcy buzzed ahead of her lighting the way as they neared the drainage pipe. Kale grabbed ahold of the iron bars and concentrating and summoning her strength she managed to dislodge a couple so that they could slip inside.
She noticed that it felt as though she was gaining strength on this side of the wall. There as something about it, the desolation and cold seemed to feed her. She found herself more restless, more hungry for battle. When they first arrived at the cliffside and saw the keep below, it was everything she could do to keep from charging ahead and attacking the keep face on. It was only Jace that had calmed her enough to start looking for another way in. She secretly hoped there would be lots of things inside that she could fight. She craved slamming the hammer down on her foes… and this scared her more than a little bit.
Kale hopped up into the pipe and helped both Jace and Merowyn into it as well. The surroundings were much like you would expect of a drainage pipe. Cold dampness made slick with little bits of a purple moss and slick patches of frost. Thankfully the light of Dimcy warmed it up slighty, made her remember what the sun felt like. They walked carefully along the slippery corridor and ahead to a junction where another pipe met it and began a slow ascent upwards. The upwards pipe lead to a great stone cistern, and from there multiple hallways leading up into the keep. The question is which Hallway would lead us to where we needed to go.
Merowyn stared around the cistern looking at each of the paths. She could send a sprite down each to scout it out, or she could just make a decision. The problem is she had no idea where they were going. Mero’s ears perked up at a sudden sound, it seemed to be coming from each of the hallways. As she strained to listen it was a rapid clicking sound, almost like a beast’s claws against a stone floor. “Reavewo..” she started to say as one of the great beasts slammed into her knocking her off her feet. From each of the hallways came a small group of the wolves quickly filling the cistern in snarling madness.
The wolf was pushing down on Merowyn trying to bite her, as she struggled to hold it at bay with one hand pushing up under its jaw. With the other hand she desperately reached into a sheath at her waist. After some effort she managed to retrieve a small silver dagger that had been hanging there hidden underneath her dress. She brought the dagger up sliding it between her fingers and up into the beasts jaw, pushing hard as it slipped into its skull. There was a muffled yelp as the beast began convulsing and then after one violent siezure fell silent. She pushed the mass off of her and got back to her feet.
She looked across the room to see Kale pounding away at the beasts with her great silver hammer. Seeing her like this reminded Mero of Morrow and her own weapon of choice. The girl was amazing as she met the beasts mid flight as they charged at her, knocking them back to the ground with one powerful blow. As a result she had gained a ring of beasts around her all cowering slightly, not certain if they wanted to charge in again only to be struck down. Each battered and bruised from the strikes they had taken before, but still hungry for the meal that her and her companions represented.
Almost too late Merowyn noticed that another beast was charging, as she braced for the attack. Jace rushed in from beside her bringing his shield between her and the beast and knocking it away. He leapt with great precision bringing his sword down on the beasts skull in one quick motion. As the beast shook against the ground he turned to strike another reavewolf down with his shield only to repeat the leaping motion bringing his sword down to bear against it. She stood dazed as the combat played out around her. It felt like she was watching the entire scene in slow motion. She was never the warrior that her sister was, she had always shied away from battle and preferred her magics instead.
She felt like she had to save every drop of her energy however if she hoped to save the sprites. She only had one big spell in her, the entire time they had been on this side of the wall she felt as though she was being drained of her power. The elfen had made the summer wall and created a realm of eternal summer, and as such the Trogjan had done the same creating a desolate world of eternal winter. On this side of the wall it was not her place or season and she was left near powerless. She could not risk casting a spell on these assailants for fear it would drain her completely before she was able to save her children.
Thankfully it seemed that Kale, Jace and Dobin were more than capable of defending her. The little sprite was making up with fervor what he lacked in raw power. She watched as Dobin swooped down on a reavewolf landing on his back. As the huge beast tried in vain to swat the sprite off dobin grabbed hold of its fur with one hand and with the other he began jabbing his pike into the wolf’s neck. The creature yowled in pain as Dobin struck, his pike eventually severing the spinal cord causing the beast to collapse over on its own weight. The little sprite released his furry hold and flittered off looking for the next fray.
Her defenders made short work of the slavering beasts and before long the room was filled with nothing but the heavy breaths of her companions and a myriad of odd gurgling sounds from the dying wolves. During the fight standing back as she did, she noticed that more wolves seemed to be coming from the central hallway, so she surmised that it must lead to the main chambers of the keep. She also surmised that the fact they were just attacked by the reavewolves meant that their entry into the keep did not go unnoticed and that more than likely other forces were on their way. They had to move quickly to take advantage of the pause in action.
Merowyn motioned to the others and the group began moving up the hallway. Jace had taken the point and Dobin and his wing of sprites taking up the back. Kale had decided to stay close to her just in case something lept out of the shadows again. Dimcy buzzed along to the other side of Kale, it seemed as though the little sprite was protecting the her and not Mero. She had noticed in their time travelling that Dimcy seemed to be deeply bonded with Kale, even more so than she was with Jace. The two of them were both extremely quiet by nature, and I think the little fire sprite found in Kale a kindred spirit. It is not like Jace really needed much protecting as he had grown into quite the formidable warrior.
The hallway spilled out into a large circular room which seemed as though it must have been the central chamber of the keep. At the far end of the room there were two curved staircases leading up to an upper chamber. This keep looked to be originally of Elfen make, but it had been repurposed during the Winter war as a Trogjan outpost. However the bones of the building and of the interior were still familiar to her. The upper chamber would be the main audience chamber of the keep lord, and that was likely where they would find their quarry. They would have to cross the staircases to get to that chamber, making them vulnerable.
“We have to go up there” Mero said pointing up at the upper chamber and the two staircases. “I think it is best if we split sending a group each stair. Hopefully we will flank whatever is up there and it will give us the upper hand.” The others nodded in agreement and the group split with Dimcy, Kale and Merowyn going up the left stair and Jace, Dobin and the other sprites going up the right stair. They pooled at the base and when Jace gave the signal they all began ascending together. As they reached the top chamber they were shocked to see it mostly empty. There were no torches lit, and the natural light spilling in from the keep windows case the chamber in shadow. Across the room there was what would have been the throne of the keep lord, but it took was cast in deep shadows.
For a moment Dimcy burned brighter bathing the room in a warm amber light. It was then that Mero noticed that the throne was not in shadows… it had an unnatural shadow resting on it. The shadow began to coalesce and move and raise up off the throne forming the rough aproximation of the shape of a man. A Nightlord…. what in the nine hells is a nightlord doing here. The shadow began to laugh, with a hollow laugh that sounded much like the rustling of dry leaves. “Yoooou haaave noooo pooower heeere” it gasped in a scratchy and unnatural voice. The shadows in the room began to move and pool into the Nightlord causing it to increase in size.
“Why are you here abomination? Why did you harm my children? Answer me!” Screamed Merowyn in indignant fury. She knew she should fear a Nightlord, but she was past the point of reason. It would answer, and it would pay for what it had done. The response came in the same raspy scratching as before. “Chiiiildren feeeeed meeeeeee. Wiiiinter loooord noooot truust Baaaigan traaitor. Khaaaaaaloth breeeach waaaalll iiiinsteeead. Noooow yooooou feeeed Khaaaaaloth aaaaalso.” Khaloth gasped as the shadows began to swirl around the feet of Merowyn.
The shadows began covering Mero’s feet and she was unable to break free of them. She could feel the power leaching from her. Similarly the shadows had enveloped the other members of the party. Kale was furiously fighting them but losing the battle quickly as the shadows surged up her torso and spreading out to her arms. Jace was gasping for breath as the shadows wound over his throat choking him. As the darkness passed over Merowyns face, for a moment she saw a blinding orange light. From the edge of the room the light flared and the room was bathed in a glare so bright it seemed as though they were all staring directly into the sun.
The light flew across the room and into the body of the Nightlord. The abomination made a piercing dizzying scream as the light began breaking through its body in shafts, causing the shadow to dissipate and shrink away from it. The light however was relentless and continued burning brighter. Merowyn closed her eyes tight against the onslaught of light. She felt the shadow retreating from her, letting go of her body… she could move again but under the onslaught collapsed to the floor. Then suddenly the room was dark again, and as her eyes adjusted to the sunspots and after images she saw that the shadowy shape of the nightlord had disappeared.
Kale feared what had happened and as she ran across the room she saw a small body laying there on the cold stone floor. Gone was the bright fiery glow, but she immediately knew that it was Dimcy laying there smoking slightly. “Noooooo!” she screamed dropping to the ground picking up the little firesprite. “Dimcy why did you do that?” the little sprite opened her eyes slightly and tried to speak “Is okay now… Dimcy save Kale and Jace.” Kale felt warm tears spilling out over her cheeks and driping down off her chin “But you burnt yourself out… why… you can’t go.” The little sprite nuzzled into Kales big hands “Is okay… Dimcy save Kale…” Dimcy curled up into a ball and snuggled into the hand and was still.
Jace walked over to Kale kneeling beside her. He reached down with his hand and laid it against the little sprite feeling a weak heartbeat. He turned to look up at Merowyn “Is there nothing we can do?” The spring lady looked down at the badly drained firesprite shaking her head slowly. “She chose to burn all of her energy into the attack against the Nightlord. She saved us all… but she gave up her spark in doing so.” Kale looked up at Mero with sad teary eyes “But why… she can’t go?” The other sprites had formed a ring around Kale staring down at the fallen Dimcy.
“She gave her life to save us Kale, to save you. She loved you that much. Honor her memory by letting her go. She is in pain now, but holding on for you.” Kale shook her head furiously not wanting to hear those words. She could not let Dimcy go, she was her friend… she had lost so much in her life, been the victim of so much pain. Why did she have to let her friend go too. This just was not fair but as the tiny sprite nuzzled into her she noticed Dimcy shaking with the cold. She placed her other hand on her pocketing her, bringing her up to her face and kissing the little sprites cheek.
She knew what she had to do, she knew it was the right thing, but she didn’t want to. She closed her eyes trying desperately to calm the anger growing inside her. She opened her hands slightly and whispered. “Thank you for saving us Dimcy… its okay you can sleep now.” The little sprite opened her eyes slightly looking up at her “Dimcy love Kale” she said in a quiet shaky voice. Kale felt another rush of tears as she furiously tried to blink them away. “Kale love Dimcy too” she said quietly. The firesprite closed her eyes nuzzling against her hand once more and slowly stopped breathing as though she were going to sleep forever.
A faint glow began seeping from the fire sprites body, it started as soft amber and then increased rapidly until it was a piercing light. Kale watched in shock as the little body disappeared turning to a white blaze in the palm of her hand. She had to close her eyes against the brightness and when the glow had fade she opened it to see a tiny spark of flame resting on her hand. As her eyes adjusted she saw within the blaze as a tiny girl. The little girl smiled up at Kale “I said is okay, Dimcy Love Kale” said the child version of Dimcy. Kale gasped with joy as she nuzzled the tiny firesprite child.
Merowyn looked down at the tiny Dimcy with shock and amazement. She had heard legends that fire sprites if they burned themselves out for someone they loved, that the love would rekindle their fire. She had always thought these were just childhood tales, because she had sadly watched more than one sprite fade into nothingness as their light was extinguished. She wondered… if love could rekindle the fire of a sprite… could her love save her sprites? She did love the sprites, they had given her purpose and meaning. They had sheltered her and hidden her from the outside world. The revered her as their mother, and she protected them with all of her might. She would be truly lost without them.
Merowyn closed her eyes as she imagined each and every one of them. She remembered the good times they had, the times they had laughed, the times they had cried. She felt a warmth growing inside of her and as it grew a warm green light filled the room. Kale and Jace turned to look at Mero who was now glowing much like a sprite. The warmth and glow spreading until it filled the entire chamber. Little jets of green began shooting out from Mero and out through the windows of the keep. Happening slowly at first but quickly increasing like hundreds of green lasers firing at once.
As the glowing ceased Mero collapsed to the floor. As quickly as the glow had stopped a stream of green sprite lights began streaming into the room. Hundreds of tiny lights swarming the body of their fallen lady. They lifted her still breathing body up into the air and placed her on the now vacant throne. Merowyn sat there for a moment gathering her strength. When she opened her eyes she saw all of her children swarming around her. She gasped for air and a huge smile permeated her being. She said softly “My children… you are alright.” The tiny chorus of sprite voices responded in unison “The Lady has saved us” which became a chant echoing through the chamber.