The City of Dusk: Chapter E
Pristontale: The City of Dusk
Chapter E - The Way to Navisko
Melocrie's party had no choice but to stay put. Roldin had been on the edge of death, and it had scared everyone. Yiro's madness angered Melocrie and her companions, for he had returned twice since the last time. For negotiations, he had said. But each time the Lunans were threatened even more. He did not hurt anyone else, but he did destroy tents, banners and more. Nobody dared to stop them, not even Tyrank or Cage. Melocrie and Kayleigh had stayed inside during these events, and watched Roldin as he slowly recovered. A week since the first fight, Roldin finally opened his eyes.
"Look, Kayleigh!" Melocrie said exited, but quietly. "He's coming to."
"I'll go get Tyrank!" Kayleigh said and hastily went outside.
Melocrie took a piece of cloth and draped it through the water. After she had squirmed it out tightly, she lay it on Roldin's forehead as he moaned and looked at her. His face was red and sweaty, his chest trembling with every breath. It seemed he had a high fever.
"Falcorra girl..." he moaned.
Melocrie looked puzzled at him for a second, but then decided it was the fever that spoke. "Calm yourself, Roldin," she whispered. "It's over, Yiro's gone."
"My people..." Roldin growled of the pain as he tried to sit up. "My people!"
"Lie back down," Melocrie said and stopped him from getting up. "Your people are fine, Yiro didn't hurt anyone else."
"Roldin!" It was Tyrank, followed by Kayleigh and Cage. "Roldin, my friend."
"Tyrank..." A weak smile appeared on the Pike's face. "I am so sorry."
Tyrank shook his head. "Please don't be. Just rest for now."
"So this is it then?" Kayleigh said upset. "No going to Navisko?"
"I'm not giving up without a fight," said Tyrank.
"What's that?" Cage frowned. "You'd fight them?"
"Of course," Tyrank said to him. "I'm not letting Yiro get away with this."
"Since when are so vengeful?" Roldin asked weakly.
"I've always been." Tyrank was able to laugh a bit. "You don't remember?"
Roldin laughed back. "Actually I do. Tyrank..." He suddenly turned urgent. "What happened to my people?"
Tyrank stared at his friend for a second and then lowered his head while he shook it.
"No..." Tears appeared in Roldin's eyes. "No..."
The Lunans who guarded the entrances to Navisko, were all slaughtered. That night, when the moon was high, a cry sounded in the distance, and Melocrie sat on a lonely stone on the edge of the camp. Fylla sat on a pole above her head, watching the sky like before. Melocrie understood that her kestrel could feel the evil to the south-east. For she was able to feel it too. Never before had she felt it, and it was scaring her. Yet she thought once more of Tyrank's words. He would indeed fight an entire army of Koltans himself, everyone knew this. Around a fire nearby sat her party, but Dylane was the only one who was standing. He didn't feel like sitting down, he had said. He was far too anxious. The time grew near for a big decision: Would they go back or go on? Cage had asked Roldin if they had tried to fight the Koltans all together. The answer was no. Tyrank seemed to be worried the most, but more about Roldin himself. Sighing, Melocrie slided off the stone and joined her friends, leaving Fylla on the watch. She sat down between Urani and Debhora, staring into the flames. Her thoughts wandered from one thing to the other. Questions swarmed in her head and she looked at the mage next to her.
"Urani..." she started. "Listen..." Urani looked at her and waited for her to continue. "I've been taught about the Midranda and the Galantia. They said they were two of the greatest tribes on Priston. When Majok appeared, they defended themselves, but it seemed hopeless. They joined with him in trade for their lives, but Majok destroyed them anyway. That's what I've been told when I was little. But that's not true at all, is it?"
Urani stared at her for a second, but then looked back at the fire and sighed. "No..." he said quietly. "Not everything of that is true."
"I knew it." Melocrie also sighed and thought deeply. "Then what did happen to them?"
"The Midranda and the Galantia," Urani said. "were indeed the greatest tribes of all, but.." Melocrie stared in the fire as she listened closely. "They really were amazing. They handed both magic and technology combined, and that's what made them strong. But their power was also dangerous. Together, they could be able to destroy the world. And as powerful as they were, above all they were arrogant, especially the Midranda. Their guardian was a giant beast, like a black dragon, named after the tribe itself.
"When Majok appeared, he feared the Midranda most of all. But they did not understood they had the power to overcome that evil conjuror. Majok had trapped the beast called Midranda away in the darkness. The two tribes were threatened and their villages destroyed. They did not feel like fighting a power like Majok, and decided to join him. Indeed in trade of their lives, but they wished their existence to live on. They did not care for the rest of Priston. Eventually, when Majok's evil wind scarred the land and all resistance seemed futile, the Gods appeared. Pritos, Tempritos and Skronipe were with them." Urani sighed again and then continued. "They fought Majok and managed to lock him away in the darkness along with Midranda. The two greatest tribes were just as scarred as Priston itself, and in their shame and fear of the Gods, they fled. No one knows where to. But before they disappeared, Midranda also spoke a curse over the land, and combined it with Majok's. Navisko used to be their capital city, and the Bellatra their palace. They swore that nobody would abuse them ever again."
Melocrie nodded thoughtfully. "And that's why the city is cursed."
"Not just that," Debhora joined them quietly. "Majok had also cursed Navisko, to scare the Midranda. So the city is cursed twice. And now with the Koltans around..."
Melocrie stared at Debhora, who sniffed once and gazed at the fire. "So... are you saying.. that it's hopeless?"
Debhora raised her shoulders and didn't answer.
"There's always hope." It was Dylane, and all eyes fixed on him. "Everything has a weak spot. People, curses, monsters. The quest is to find those."
"You want to go anyway?" asked Kayleigh unbelieving. "In spite of everything you just heard and saw?"
"Of course!" Dylane smiled at her. "Who knows? Maybe we have the power to overcome Yiro. But if we don't use it, we'll up end just like the Midranda."
Melocrie thought for long minutes. She thought of her father and of the Figon. Kayleigh's face floated in her head like as in the dream. Melocrie didn't know what it meant. But she did know, that if they would go through, someone would get hurt. But maybe that's just the way things go. She could never tell her companions not to risk their lives, for that is what they chose to do. And she herself? No more than ever did she want to go on. She felt warm, confident. What made her feel that way? Scratching her back, Melocrie looked around at the party. At Dylane staring at the sky as he drank, Tyrank who sat there thinking. Kayleigh and Debhora looking around anxiously, and Urani sighing one time after the other. Then she understood. Yiro found himself as good as the Midranda, but the Midranda were arrogant. And that's what made them weak. So that meant that Yiro was actually weak as well. Melocrie looked at Tyrank, and in her thoughts, she nodded to herself.
"I'm going," she said, and waiting for her friends to response.
As all eyes slowly fixed on her, Dylane said down, sighed, and looked at Tyrank, who watched Melocrie closely. It was like they all were discussing something in their minds.
"Are you sure?" Tyrank asked eventually.
Melocrie nodded quickly. "Positive! Though... I do wish you'd come along with me." She really wanted to go on, but knew that alone she could never do it.
"Of course we will come," said Dylane. "But we do need to think this through."
"I did," Melocrie smiled. The party looked at each other, and then turned to her, ready to listen closely.
Still weak, but capable, Roldin commanded his troops to gather at the entrace of the Forgotten Land. Melocrie and Fylla stood on the watch for Koltans, while their party armed themselves. The would march into the lands and split up into two groups. The one would go south and the other east. Melocrie's party, together with Roldin and Cage, would cross through the shortest way to Navisko. Fylla would be flying all around to warn troops when an other would be in trouble. As soon as one would meet with Koltans, she would cry out to the others. Navisko was heavily guarded, Melocrie knew. But they would not take the gate. Roldin recalled there was another way into the city, a crack in the wall which had never been fixed. One party would stay in the desert as a backup, while the other ones would go in.
"There's only one huge risk," Urani had said. "If the Koltans raise alarm, we're all done for."
"The backup party is a diversion," Melocrie said. "If the Koltans attack, it will be them. But Roldin said they're professionals, so they'll manage to lure them away."
"Yiro's not stupid," Tyrank had reminded her.
"No," Melocrie had answered. "But he is arrogant. And that will be his weakness. We'll need the best bluffers we can find."
It was like a childish game bully's in Ricarten would play. But then again, it almost seemed perfect. A game played on an epic scale would help to get into Navisko. Melocrie let Fylla take over for her, as she searched for Tyrank in the crowd. She found him together with Cage, sharpening their weapons.
"Once we get to Navisko," Tyrank said, "do not leave our sides. We don't know what to expect there."
"Got it!" said Melocrie. "But.. what if Yiro knows it's a trap and comes back for us?"
"Then we'll have to fight him," answered Cage.
Melocrie smiled determined. "Right. Are we still going to the Bellatra?"
"It depends." Tyrank looked at his axe slowly and nodded satisfied. "We Navisko's more than we can take, we'll have to leave."
"But still we have to do the best we can!" Melocrie said proudly. "I have great faith in this, Tyrank. I don't know what makes me feel this way... But I do know it's powerful." She wasn't afraid anymore to speak her mind, and it felt that this great warrior had become a true friend to her. And not just some babysitter looking out for her. She was a part of the team now, and they would go side by side all the way.
Tyrank smiled as he looked at her. "You know what counts, Melocrie," he said. "And nothing is more important than that."
A few hours passed and it was time. Melocrie had put Tyrank in charge, since he was a far better leader than she. He and Roldin waited for all commanders to be ready and sent Fylla in the air. The kestrel soared over the troops and let out her battlecry.
"This is it!" Tyrank roared to the Lunans. "Move out!"
"Yes sir!" called all the commanders as one and marched forth.
The Lunan army followed, straight but quietly. Melocrie and her party led the way. When the brown sand turned almost white, the groups split up according to plan. Melocrie nodded to Fylla as the kestrel flew to the party in the east.
"When we get close to Navisko, you'll lead the way, Roldin," said Tyrank.
Roldin nodded but didn't say anything. Melocrie looked at him and could see the rage beaming from him. She hoped he would able to control himself if they had to face Yiro.
"We can't draw any attention," Debhora said. "Try not to fight monsters if not necessary."
"We'll have to avoid large groups then," said Urani.
"We'd better do that," replied Dylane.
Just to be sure, Melocrie drew an arrow and smiled as she examined it. She attached it quietly to her bow and held it at the ready. Her friends smiled as they saw it and also carefully drew their weapons.
A few hours passed again and it seemed quiet in the Forgotten Land. Now and then a Crypt advanced, which almost freaked Melocrie out. Then some Skeleton Archers, who weren't a problem to Kayleigh and Urani's shield. The Armoured Beatle was a tough one, since it's armour was even thicker than Tyrank's. Melocrie had found the Bouma chillingly terrifying, because it looked like a giant, evil teddybear. The Bargon were no sweat to Dylane, and he chopped them down one by one. Melocrie had killed a few Crypts herself eventually, and found they weren't as tough as they looked. She noticed that fighting seemed easier with each battle they had fought, partly thanks to her Sereneo. She could feel herself grow stronger and was able to fire arrows quicker than ever. Also avoiding attacks seemed to go better, and she could tell by their faces that her friends were proud of her. This made her feel good and confident. Two days later the party sat around a small fire between some large rocks, as the sun was almost gone.
"Look up there!" Kayleigh suddenly said, after they had finished discussing former events. "I can see lights up ahead."
"They're coming closer," said Debhora and stood up. "Put out that fire! We have to move."
Urani quietly cast a water spell over the fire and the hissing sound was almost chilling. Tyrank moved everyone closer to the rocks in the darkest shades, where they sat down quietly. Melocrie's heart rocked again like before and tightened her muscles as she drew an arrow. The others also held their weapons at the ready, as the sound of voices appeared in the distance, followed by the sounds of footsteps. Men were talking and laughing loudly in hard and low voices. Melocrie could see feet passing them by in the light of the torches, and prayed they would not be seen.
"That sure was some game, huh?" she could hear someone say. "I bet that Roldin wet his pants when he fought Grollg!"
Koltans! Melocrie swallowed and tried to control her breath. She couldn't hear anything from her friends, no twisting sound, no breathing. She didn't dare to move.
"I wonder what Yiro is up to," said an other. "He hasn't told us anything yet."
"Would you relax?" said a third. "We'll hear all about it when we get to the Lunan's camp."
They're going to the camp! Melocrie watched the final footsteps passing her and waiting for the light to disappear, for the voices to completely fade. When the night was still again, it was Tyrank who came into the open and watched the distance to where the Koltans went. Then he turned to the party in the shadow.
"It's alright," he whispered. "They're gone."
Dylane started to laugh and jumped to his feet. "Did you hear that?" he grinned. "They're going to the camp!"
"There's no one there," Melocrie realised. "Ha ha! They're clearing our path for us!"
"They sure are." Tyrank remained serious. "We'd better look for an other spot to spend the night. More might come."
"He's right," Debhora said as she got to her feet. "We really shouldn't take any unneccasary risks."
"Let's go over there," said Kayleigh, who pointed at some ruins to their left. "We'll have more shelter there."
"I do wonder that Yiro's plan is," Dylane muttered as they settled themselves in their new hiding. "I really hope they won't bring us trouble."
"You can't prevent trouble from them," said Urani.
The night passed quietly and peacefully, but Melocrie was unable to sleep. She had become afraid of her dream. Every time she could see Kayleigh's face, but now also Fylla's cry sounded more painful. In the end, the Figon had vanished and a mad laughter had echoed through her head. She was sure it had been Yiro. But why, what was the dream telling her? Not capable of shaking the thoughts away, Melocrie stood her and left her tent. The remainder of the fire were as black as the night itself. Thousands of stars twinkled softly in the sky, with a real bright one every here and there. Melocrie watched the heaven and tried to make shapes from the stars and the clouds. She noticed zombies, hopy's and even Fylla herself. It was actually just a bird, but Melocrie figured it as her own kestrel. Then she realised how much she missed her. Melocrie scratched her back. It had been itching a lot lately.
"Are you alright?" Dylane's voice made Melocrie jump. He walked to her from the shades and in his hands he held a cup. "Can't sleep either?"
Melocrie shook her head. "No, too exited I think."
Dylane titled his head a bit as he watched her. "Something's bothering you," he said. "I can tell, you know. So what is it?"
Melocrie sighed and lowered her head. It was no use hiding it. After all, they were friends, weren't they? Didn't that mean she could just tell him. Melocrie decided it was. "I've been having dreams..." she started. It was hard to tell him. "Actually, it's just one dream that keeps coming back. And every time it goes even further."
"What's it about?" asked Dylane, frowning.
"It's..." Melocrie stopped for a bit. "It's about Navisko, I think. I keep seeing a Figon, and Fylla's there too. They're fighting something enormous. The last few times, I've also seen a face and heard a screech... Followed by Yiro's laughter."
Dylane shivered. "That's really creepy," he said as he stood beside her. "Who's the face from?"
Melocrie looked up to him. She didn't feel like saying, but knew it couldn't do much harm. "I will say, but please don't freak out, okay?" she said. "It might not even be a big deal." Dylane nodded and Melocrie sighed as she watched the stars. "It's Kayleigh."
Dylane almost choked on his drink and wiped off his mouth. "Kayleigh? What happens to her?"
Melocrie shook her head and felt her breath was trembling. "I don't know."
"Hmm..." Dylane took another sip and Melocrie could almost hear him thinking. "We'll, it's no use thinking over it if you don't know. Just try to sleep, Melocrie."
"Listen." Dylane finished his cup and lay it on the floor. "You say your dream might not mean anything. I say it might just do. I understand it can be frustrating, but if it indeed is important, we'll need to hear the end of it. Besides, you really need your rest. I do too. You coming?"
Melocrie thought for a second and then agreed. "Yes, alright. I'll be right there."
As Dylane moved back inside, Melocrie stared once more at the sky. Smiling at the stars that formed the kestrel, she turned and entered the tent.
A fire burned as bright as the sun, with two black eyes piercing through the flames. And there was Fylla, soaring through the sky, screeching. But then suddenly a face came forth, but it wasn't Kayleigh's. It was a square shape, gray as sand, with two blood red eyes. When it growled, razor sharp teeth were shown and a scream followed. Kayleigh's face flashed again, her skin turning gray. Melocrie shot up from her bed and screamed out. Immediately, the others woke up and tried the calm her. In the morning, Dylane made her tell the dream to the party, as they were eating breakfast. Kayleigh had been scared at first, but she managed to recover. Tyrank was the only who had not responded, and each time he had exchanged glances with Debhora and Dylane. When Melocrie was finished, silence fell.
"So, what does it mean?" she dared to ask after a time.
"It means danger," answered Tyrank, without looking directly at her. Instead, he looked at Kayleigh. "You'd better be careful."
Kayleigh nodded. "I will."
"I'm sorry," said Melocrie. "I really didn't mean to scare you all."
"It's good that you told us," Debhora said. "It really is.
"I'm glad of that." Melocrie managed to smile. "Thanks, you guys."
It felt like a heavy load had been lifted from her shoulders. The dream was much less terrifying now and Melocrie wasn't afraid of it anymore. For three more nights the dream continued even further. Now she could see Yiro's face, scarred and mad. She wondered how the Koltans had reacted when they had found their camp empty. Eventually, they could see the walls of Navisko rising before them. The sun had just risen above their heads as they reached closely to the gate and hid themselves behind some huge rocks. The entrance was guarded by four Koltans, the one looking more dangerous than the other.
"What do we do now?" Melocrie whispered to Roldin.
"We go around here, unseen," answered the Pike, pointing to the left. "Urani and Kayleigh, can you make us invisible?"
The mage and the priestess looked at each other. "We can try," Kayleigh said. "Though it would cost a lot of energy."
"We have to," said Tyrank. "You may start."
As the brother and sister began to mutter their spells, Melocrie began to feel light as a feather. She could see her arms disappear into nowhere, just as the others.
"We'll have to search for each other on feeling," Urani whispered. "That's the only way."
Melocrie could indeed feel her party agree with the mage.
"Try to walk on light feet," whispered Tyrank. "Or on rocks. We can't leave too many footprints."
Melocrie couldn't see her friends, but she felt their presence lingering about. She stepped forward into the sand, as light as possible, and stepped onto a rock. Slowly she walked to where Roldin had said, and knew that her friends were right in front of her. She held her breath as she watched how they passed by the Koltan guards, and prayed again they would not be discovered.
"Remember that lady in Eura?" said one. "He sure was something, haha!"
"You old dog!" said an other.
"Quiet!" said the third suddenly. "You hear that?"
Melocrie stopped dead in her tracks and felt her heart pounding like crazy. The guards were looking their way, but then they looked up and Melocrie could hear the sound of large wings. She looked up at the sky and could see a giant bird coming in sight. It was THE giant bird. Melocrie felt a shiver over her back, but it wasn't just her own. She looked at her party, but of course she couldn't see that. Right when she thought she was going to panic, she felt a large hand on her shoulder. It was Tyrank, she knew it. The bird soared over their heads and screeched, then disappeared over the city walls.
"Ah, she's back," said one guard. "You'd better report that Iyagi has returned."
"Yes sir!" An another guard hastened himself through the gate and only two remained.
Melocrie felt her party moving again and she followed, as carefully as she could. Because she kept her eyes fixed on the guards, she almost tripped over a rock. Urani caught her just in time.
"We must hurry," she heard him say in her mind. "Our spell is fading."
"Then let's go." It was Tyrank.
Melocrie stepped up and followed her friends around the corner of the city gates. The invisibility spell was trembling and they had to run the last part. Afraid they had been noticed, the party remained silent for another few minutes, their backs pressed against the wall and breaths still. Eventually, Roldin heaved a relieved sigh and motioned the others to follow him further. They stopped at a large crack in the wall, with a hole big enough to fit them through. Dylane knelt down and carefully looked over the edge. Melocrie could see his eyes grow back and he waved at the others to check as well. Melocrie knelt down next to Debhora and gasped. There weren't many Koltans around, but there were villagers! Plain, normal people wandering on and about. But it was maybe even less populated than Runen. The hole came out next to the grocery store, and straight ahead was the city square, with in the middle the Warpgate. On the other side, Melocrie could see numbers of small ally's and streets, all coming out to the square. Between those there was a broad stairs, reaching to the heaven. On top stood a gate with two large pillars, covered in a writing Melocrie had never seen before.
"That's the way to the Bellatra," whispered Tyrank when he saw Melocrie staring at it. "Don't go there if not necessary."
"If you don't mind me asking," Debhora muttered. "What are we going to do once we get in?"
"We must find the missing warriors," said Kayleigh quietly.
"Without being spotted by the Koltans," replied Cage.
"That's not going to be easy," whispered Melocrie. "You guys.. that Iyagi..."
"Hush, Melocrie," Kayleigh said softly. "We know. We all know."
Melocrie smiled and was relieved she didn't have to explain herself.
"We've fought that bird before," said Dylane. "Shouldn't be a problem now."
"Never underestimate your enemy," whispered Tyrank. "Okay, let's go."
Roldin stood up and waited for some Koltans to pass out of sight. Then he put one leg through the hole, then the other, and ducked to enter the city. He turned and waved at the others, then disappeared on the left. Next was Tyrank, and then Urani, who was almost spotted. He had to hide himself quickly behind a cart. Dylane and Debhora followed, and after Kayleigh it was Melocrie's turn.
"Go on," whispered Cage. "But be careful."
Melocrie nodded and turned to climb through the hole. One leg, the other, then her head and torso. She stood nailed to the floor as she entered the city. Cage hissed at her to move on, and Melocrie was startled. Quickly she gathered her wits and moved to the left, to join her party behind the grocery store. They looked out for Cage and saw him climbing into the city. But there was a Koltan approaching. He hadn't noticed Cage yet, but he was coming too close.
"Cage!" Tyrank hissed and waved. "Hurry!"
Cage turned and saw the Koltan coming his way, but his eyes were fixed on a piece of paper. The warrior hurried himself to the floor and quickly joined his friends.
"That was close," he breathed.
"What now?" Melocrie asked.
"We need cover..." said Debhora thoughtfully. "You think these people are friendly enough to take us in?"
"Friendly maybe," said Dylane. "But they might fear the Koltans too much to take such a risk."
Tyrank grunted. "We have to..."
"Who goes there?"
Melocrie froze. They were discovered!
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