The City of Dusk: Chapter F
Pristontale: The City of Dusk
Chapter F - Cursed Navisko
A tall man with brown hair and a moustache stood before them, with an axe in his hand.
"You can relax," Tyrank said quietly. "We're not here to do you harm."
Melocrie now understood it was a villager and she sighed relieved.
"Who are you?" the man demanded to know.
"We're a party from Ricarten," said Dylane. "We're looking for our fellow warriors."
"Oh!" The man lowered his axe and eased himself. "You have to leave!"
"We can't do that," said Urani, frowning.
Footsteps sounded close to them and the man before them froze. When voices sounded near, he waved to the party.
"They mustn’t find you!" he said. "Come with me to my home. Act casual, but be careful."
Melocrie grabbed hold of Debhora's belt as they followed the man inside the grocery store. Thank the Gods they hadn't been seen. Inside it was warmer and Melocrie couldn't help smiling. It all looked so comfortable and it was long since she had been in a real house. A fire burned quietly in a fireplace on the other side of the room. The man led them around the counter, where a lady stood counting some products.
"Honey!" she gasped when the party passed by. "What is this?"
"Hush, darling," said the man with his finger on his lips. "These are warriors from Ricarten."
"Really?" the lady grabbed a sign from under the counter and quickly hang it on the door. It said 'Closed'.
"Come this way then," she said hastily and motioned the party up the stairs.
The stairway itself was lit by torches along the walls and the ground covered with red carpet. There was a living room upstairs, with two bedrooms and a kitchen. The man sat the party down on the couches and chairs, and the lady hurried herself into the kitchen.
"Tea?" she asked over her shoulder. "Or something else maybe?"
Tyrank looked around the party and they all nodded. "Tea for eight would be very kind, ma'am."
The lady chuckled. "You can call me Keira," she said. "And this is my husband Fron."
Fron sat down on a small chair and examined the warriors before him. "It's nice to meet you all," he said friendly.
"From the same indeed," Roldin said. "You have saved us."
"But you cannot stay long," said Fron. "You must leave Navisko!"
"But why?" asked Dylane.
Fron looked at his wife for a moment and swallowed. "The last party wouldn't listen, either," he told, "Save for one, but no one would listen to him. Now we, the villagers, have decided to stop any party from crossing through the city."
"Sounds familiar," Dylane muttered and spotted Roldin from the corner of his eyes, who ignored him.
"We let the former parties here through, hoping they could defeat the Koltans," continued Fron. "But there is no way."
"There's always a way," said Tyrank as he took a cup from Keira. "Thank you, m'lady."
Keira smiled warmly and continued to give out the tea. Melocrie took hers a little shyly and nodded thankfully. A strange atmosphere covered them and for one second, it gave her the chills. She knew that the one man, who had tried to stop his own party, had been her father. Melocrie had to find him. The Lunans had wanted to stop them as well, and they were convinced. Maybe they could also convince the villagers somehow.
"Then what way do you see?" Fron asked.
"So many," Melocrie said carefully, still a little afraid to interfere. But after all, it was her business too. "By taking out their leader Yiro, for instance."
Fron shrugged. "I believe you could. But you'd have to get to him first. His weapons protect him."
"I don't assume you are talking about his armour," said Dylane. "What weapons?"
Silence fell in which Keira and Fron looked at each other. Roldin and Cage anxiously watched the party and Melocrie could read some fear in their eyes, and she remembered the dream. That huge monster with the square face. And then there was Iyagi. She sipped from her tea and muttered the name to herself.
"What was that, girl?" Fron said suddenly.
Roldin and Cage looked up.
Melocrie startled. She looked around at her party, but their attention was also turned to her. "I said... Iyagi and her brother..."
Fron stared at her. "How... how do you know?"
"We heard the guards talking about Iyagi," said Debhora quickly. "I giant bird which we have fought before in Runen."
"And her brother...?" asked Keira. "How do you know about him?"
"I've been having dreams," Melocrie said, trying not to hesitate. "I believe it shows me events of Navisko yet to come. It is a gray creature with red eyes in a square-shaped face. And it has some black manes running over its back."
Fron and Keira gasped. "The Titan!" they called together.
Dylane again almost choked on his drink. "The what?" he moaned.
"The Titan," repeated Roldin and glanced at Melocrie. "The reason why Navisko's off bounds."
"It's a monster from the far north," Cage filled in.
"It can't be..." muttered Tyrank. "Why?"
"Everyone fears a Titan!" Fron said. "That's why it's their weapon!"
"But not just that," said Keira quietly. "They say that the beast is cursed, by an evil spell of the Midranda. They also call him the Guardian of the Bellatra."
Melocrie swallowed and found herself turning cold. She looked around at her friends, but they were all thinking deeply. Perhaps all those warriors, who had been sent on the quest, hadn't just vanished after all. What if the Titan had...
"That does it," grunted Tyrank. "We'll have to kill this so-called guardian. And that bird too. We'll place Yiro under arrest and that will be it."
"Nice plan," said Roldin. "Although, how do you think we can defeat a Titan with all those Koltans around?"
"I'll ask Yiro for a fair fight," answered Tyrank quietly.
Dylane shrugged. "And what makes you think Yiro will give you a fair fight?"
"All Lunans will have to back us up," said Urani. "We might even stand a chance."
"If we find the missing warriors," continued Kayleigh, "we've already won! They're with so many, the Koltans will be no match."
"How are you sure they're still alive?" said Cage, but then looked at Melocrie and fell silent.
"We don't," said Melocrie, also to comfort Cage. "But what other choice do we have?"
"Hold on!" Keira said suddenly and hurried herself down the stairs. Melocrie watched her disappear and wondered what she was up to.
Debhora and Kayleigh constantly looked over their shoulders at Fron, who was not looking back. He had walked to the stairway, and on his face was an odd expression. Melocrie found it hard to say what he was feeling, or what Keira had went to do. Dylane smiled at her for encouragement, and Melocrie found it very nice of him. Tyrank wasn't saying a word, he was just staring straight ahead of him. Cage and Roldin on the other hand were looking around, and sometimes they watched the stairway hopefully.
After a while that seemed extremely long, footstepts were banging up the stairs and Keira appeared in the living room. She was breathing exited and Fron took a small package from her arms.
"What are you doing with this?" he asked surprised.
"Oh honey!" Keira seemed pretty happy. "I know it's your heirloom, but this might actually help our good warriors. Don't you think?"
"But..." Fron stared at the warriors and then he seemed to make a decision. Slowly he began to unfold a piece of cloth that was covering the object of the package, and when he was done, he held a shining crystal ball high in his hand. "Yes, this may help you."
One by one the party jumped on their feet. But Melocrie was unable to move and kept staring at the ball. It was a monster crystal, but not just a regular one. A small, enchanting fire moved within, in the colors of yellow and red, mixed into orange. It became darker at the bottom, until it was as black as coal. It was a Figon.
"Where did you get this?" Dylane said, his voice sounded squeakily, as he examined the crystal.
"My great-grandfather gave it to me," Fron explained. "It was an heirloom. But right now I believe you need it more than I do."
"It's a Figon..." Dylane replied slowly and turned to Melocrie. His eyes became larger and Melocrie felt herself turning red.
"Are you sure about this?" asked Tyrank. "Isn't this important to you?"
"It is..." said Fron. "But right now it's important to all of us."
"Thank you so much," said Kayleigh. "I wish that there was something we could do in return."
"Win," said Keira simply. "Win and free us."
"We will," promised Tyrank. "Thanks again, the both of you." Then he turned to the party. "Who will keep this crystal safe?"
"I think Melocrie should," Dylane said hastily, but then controlled himself and sharpened his throat. "She has proven herself enough by now. I think she would be perfect for it."
Melocrie became a little nervous when all faces fixed on her, but she truly thanked Dylane in her head. Then she nodded and took the crystal from Fron, and hid it safely in her bag. She wanted to promise something, but she wasn't sure about the words.
"Use this at the right time, in the right place," said Tyrank, just to be sure.
Melocrie promised with a nod and remained silent. She carefully looked at Dylane from the corners of her eyes, and he winked at her.
"Alright, all of you," said Keira, to break the silence. "I suggest you spend the night with us. Then you will also have enough time to discuss your plans."
Dreamless. There was no Figon, no Fylla crying out, and no Kayleigh covered in blood. Even the Titan wasn't there, not roaring or staring with his piercing eyes. And yet Melocrie was sweating all over and her back burned like crazy. She moaned as she woke up from the pain, and noticed that Debhora and Kayleigh were looking down on her. They had been offered Keira's room, and the men were in Fron's. Those two themselves had decided to sleep downstairs to give the party some privacy. Melocrie tried to sit up, but flinched from the pain in her back.
"What's wrong?" Kayleigh asked worried. "Are you alright?"
Melocrie moaned and opened her mouth to talk, but her throat was too dry and she coughed instead. Debhora quickly grabbed some water from the kitchen and let her drink. The water felt great and it even softened the pain a little.
"Helps?" Debhora asked quietly.
"Yeah..." Melocrie breathed a few times and moaned again. "My back really hurts..."
Debhora and Kayleigh looked puzzled at each other.
"Turn around," said Debhora eventually. "Let us see what causes it."
With great effort, Melocrie managed to turn herself around and lay on her stomach. She covered her face in her pillow to resist the pain, and hoped the girls could help her.
Kayleigh carefully removed some of Melocrie's nightshirt to the top to reveal her back. And when she did, she gasped, but quickly slew her hands to her mouth. Melocrie had not heard it and she only felt her back aching, like a heartbeat during an escape.
Debhora looked at Kayleigh and swallowed. "How long has this been bothering you?" she then asked Melocrie.
"Since I was very little," Melocrie moaned as she tried to recall. "I fell on my back when I was just a few years old and something must have gone wrong. The doctors said it was going to trouble me forever, but only a little. Lately it has been itching a lot, but it has never been as bad as this."
"I see..." mumbled Debhora and looked at Kayleigh again. "Can you do something against the pain?"
"I could try," said the priestess and made her hands hover above the painful back.
Melocrie felt something cold breezing over her for a minute and the pain began to wane slowly. Only then did she realise how tired she was, and she felt the last bit of pain disappearing before she fell asleep again.
"I'm telling you, it was there!"
Voices were coming from the living room. It was Kayleigh, talking to Tyrank about something.
"Are you sure that's what you saw?"
"Of course!" Kayleigh sounded both upset and nervous. "It was shaped like a kestrel."
Melocrie yawned and sat up straight. She swallowed a few before getting up and joined her friends at the table for breakfast.
"Kestrel?" she said sleepy, as Kayleigh's words occurred to her.
"Yeah... It was Fylla!" Kayleigh said hastily, but then smiled. "Good morning."
"Same," smiled Melocrie and took a sip from her tea, which Keira gave happily to her. "What's with Fylla?"
"We saw her," said Debhora and nodded. "She was soaring just outside the city this morning."
"So she's alright." Melocrie chuckled and took a bite from her bread. She felt far too sleepy to notice anything unusual.
Roldin and Cage were sitting by the window, discussing something quietly. Dylane and Urani glanced a few times at them, a bit offended.
"Good morning, warriors!" It was Fron, who had came up the stairs and greeted them friendly.
Good mornings were all exchanged and then Fron and Keira disappeared downstairs to open their shop. Melocrie looked around at her party and then noticed they all seemed anxious. She looked at Kayleigh, who quickly turned away to get another cup of tea. Tyrank and Dylane looked at each other for a moment and then silently began to eat their bread.
"What's going on?" Melocrie asked hesitating.
Nobody seemed to dare answering. Finally, Tyrank grunted and shifted in his chair.
"Melocrie..." he began, but then chose other words. "Have you heard the stories of strange events, that happen here in Navisko at night?"
Melocrie hadn't thought about it at all, but she knew, so she nodded.
"We now know what they are..." continued Dylane nervously. "You were asleep, so I don't think you noticed anything."
"What is it then?" Melocrie was getting scared.
"Monsters," said Kayleigh quickly, when she got back from the kitchen. "The villagers... Fron and Keira, they..."
When she seemed to choke on her words, Debhora quickly took over. "They changed into monsters."
"What?" Melocrie almost dropped her cup and hastily recovered herself. She stared at the stairway and then looked at Tyrank, puzzling. "I.. I didn't notice anything..."
"When I took the pain away from your back," said Kayleigh, "I also made it easier for you to sleep. But you were so fast asleep, that you didn't wake up at all, when we were..."
"We were fighting Fron and Keira," said Urani, his voice trembling. "But then we realised who they were, because their eyes were human! So we had to lock them up downstairs."
"When dawn came," said Debhora, "they didn't remember anything, so we didn't tell them. They thought they had been sleepwalking..."
"It's a curse..." Melocrie mumbled. "Isn't it? One of the many curses?"
"We think so too," nodded Urani. "When we looked outside, monsters were all around, roaming the streets. Every single villager had changed. We now think that this quest is even more harder than we thought at first."
"We have to move fast," continued Tyrank. "With the Titan, Iyagi and now villagers turning into monsters... We need to go to the Bellatra."
"What?" Melocrie couldn't believe her ears. "But.. Dylane said..!"
"I know what I said." Dylane sighed. "But it turns out we have no other choice."
"There lies the answer," said Kayleigh. "That's where we saw Iyagi land last night... And we saw the Titan."
"Greater than a Bargon, greyer than the sand." Tyrank stood up as he finished his tea. "With eyes as red as blood and a cry that gives you the chills. They only come at night, I believe."
They had seen the Titan. The Titan was here in the village, it had been so close to them. Melocrie couldn't believe what she was hearing. With the many troubles the Koltans had gave them, she hadn't though about the curses at all. She was relieved when Dylane said they wouldn't go to the Bellatra, but now they had to. It seemed logical, though. After all, it's the Bellatra that most people fear, not Navisko itself. Melocrie also believed there would lie the answer, even though she was afraid to. But she had to find her father. And now that she had the Figon, things were clearing up a bit.
They would come at night... Kayleigh's flashed again in her mind and she shivered. If the Titan would come, bad things would happen. But only during the night.
"Then we must do it by day, got it!" Melocrie quickly finished her own tea and stood up too. "So what are we waiting for?"
Fylla spread her wings wide and floated still in the air for a few seconds. Then she dove down with great speed and snatched a mouse from the ground. As if chuckling happily, she flew back to the troop she was spending the night with. The Lunans smiled up at her when she passed, as they sat around the fire. They had camped for the night at the south-west of Navisko, and watched for whatever sigh from their party, now that the sun was rising up.
Many wondered what their leader was currently doing and hoped that Yiro wasn't anywhere near him. That monster... He's no better than the Titan itself.
A great bird soared softly in the distance, and when Fylla noticed it, she stroke down between the Lunans and cried quietly.
"There's Iyagi," muttered the general and pointed at the air. "She's going to sleep soon, I hope."
"I just hope that Roldin is doing alright," said a female Pike. "And what about that girl?"
"The Falcorra girl?" The general shrugged. "I'm not sure if I believe in her. She didn't seem very strong."
"That's because she's young still," said the female and stroke Fylla's feathers slowly, who was eating her mouse with great delight. "Young people act from the heart."
"That's probably the only good way to act," grunted the general and stood up. "I'm going to bed. Call me if you want me to take over."
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