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2006-10-08 16:18:45
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The Eye of Midranda: Chapter A


Pristontale: The Eye of Midranda
Chapter A - The Hour of Fate


A white blanket covered the tops of the trees, same as the roofs of the houses, pretty much as always. Eura was one world apart from the others, one giant glassier, ever frozen.
Daemon watched the snow falling from through the window, and sighed as he sank lower into his chair. That day was like all the others: white, cold and boring. Nothing really happened ever in Eura, except for the sudden travelling warriors, who had clear passage ever since Navisko had been freed. It had happened a few years ago, and still people were on about it all the time.
Daemon could hardly care, though he had noticed a few other changes in his village, but those were so small he could barely count them along. His father, for instance, had been away more and longer than he used to. Everytime Daemon asked him why, he simply said: "Those are not the worries a child should have."
Daemon shrugged. A child? He was already sixteen, and no one seemed to care.
And mother had changed too, and even though it was only a little bit, it had been strange. She went back to her old hobbies: knitting and sewing. All day long would she sit behind her desk, making warmer clothing. Like it could even become colder.
Even so, Daemon gazed outside in longing, for he was grounded again. How he wished to get up from his chair, walk out the door, and join his friends in a snowball fight.
Daemon was not an easy child. He had been anxious, impulsive and arrogant for as long people could remember. His mother had tried so hard to raise him properly. Still it hadn't been for nothing. Father always said that if it wasn't for her, his son would be Demon instead of Daemon.
What do they know? Daemon heaved a sigh again and glanced over his shoulder, where he could see his mother being busy again. She had bend over her works for a closer look and was muttering words to herself.
"Where's father?" Daemon asked eventually, more out of boredom than curiosity.
"He's out hunting, honey," said mother, without looking up. "He'll be back soon."
Daemon had already expected such a short answer and turned to the window again, as he hated all the happiness and beauty outside, because tonight he couldn't be a part of it. He had to stay in his room all evening, cleaning the carpets or something. Sulking about his boring life, Daemon stood up from his chair and ascended the stairs to his room.

A dark place, a hallow place, silent like the grave. A prison made of cold stone, colder than his own heart. A scarred man sat on the floor, where he had been for the past few years, leaning against the back wall. He had no chains whatsoever, for those were not necessary. For those years ever since the turns of destiny, he had been sitting there, staring into nowhere. Starved, frozen, but still he had not the ability to die. His punishment was even worse than death, like it was meant to.
His memories went back to that one fateful day, over and over again. He knew nothing more than anger and hate, which he had become in person. Yet he kept praying for an escape, to perform his revenge. They had stolen everything from him; his pride, his life, his people.... and his precious beasts.
The ground began to shake. It had done that before, many times. But this time it didn't stop, but it went on for several minutes. The man moved his head and looked up, which he had not done for a long time. A grin appeared on his face, as he suddenly began to feel warmer. He had a plan, it just came into his head. A great power was swirling up inside him, around him, above him. It felt like his own, yet different. He know that this power had been sleeping for ages, forever, but now it was returning. The grin grew into a smile, a laughter than broke the ancient silence.
The ground shook again and was followed by a heavy tuck of some sort. A great cloud of dust and sand appeared over the hill top, and Cage raised his head, startled. He turned around and signed to the other guard, who signed back. Then he carefully began to walk up the hill, his sword at the ready, as the cloud began to clear.
A sudden wind moved the sand beneath his feet and the air before him had cleared again, Cage could not believe his eyes. For there was nothing on the ground at his feet, nothing. Cage looked around from the corners of his eyes, trying to spot anything other unusual. But nothing else there was.
The giant, ancient skeleton, which had lain in the sand of the Cursed Land since ever, had disappeared. Gaps were shown in the ground, but were quickly covered again by the sand, that moved back and forth on the wind. What had just happened? Cage knew something strange was at work and he tensed his muscles. The skeleton was gone, just gone!
A sudden scream from behind made him turn, and Cage was horrified when he saw his fellow guard fall to the floor, his throat been cut open. As he fell, he revealed his killer behind him, who stood there with the stolen knife in his hand, an insane smile on his face.
Cage could not believe what he was seeing. A terrible rage raised up in his chest, but he was unable to move. Shock had prevailed and he could do nothing else but stare, and wonder how his prisoner could have escaped.
But before he could switch thoughts to actions, something from behind the dungeon exploded and a large figure shot into the sky, and a thundering roar was released. A black shadow it was and for a second it seemed to block all light in Cage's heart. The killer before him laughed out loud, as he was swallowed in a vivid light, that covered all of the Cursed Land. Cage had to hide his eyes from it and screamed out when the floor beneath his feet seemed to sink away.
Then silence fell and the shaking slowly began to die away. Parts of the dungeon had collapsed and a mist of sand now hang all around. Cage coughed a few times, before running down the hill, to his friend. There was no life left in him. Cage clenched his fists, but his rage was suddenly turned into fear, a cold, freezing fear. They had been on their guards ever since that fateful day and yet destiny slipped through their fingers. He squeezed his eyes closed as he fought the tears, the shivers and the mere memory of past events. That man got what he deserved and yet he managed to get away from it. Cage wondered why and he wanted to scream out his questions to the world. He needed to tell someone, immediately. Then he understood. There was only one person who would know what to do.

Tyrank sighed one more time and swallowed, as he stared at the lovely door before him. Seeing it again made him feel warm, and happy too. He had not been here for so long and it felt strange, as if he had found something that had been lost to him.
The door belonged to a home - his home. His wife would probably be inside, cooking as always. Tyrank hadn't seen her in years and he wondered if she had thought of him at all. But their memories together made him smile, and this he kept with him as he walked to open the door.
"Honey, I'm home!"
Tyrank slapped his hand to his forehead. 'Honey, I'm home?' Those were the first words he came with, but they sounded so much better in his head. He had no time to consider further action, for sudden footsteps suddenly banged down the stairs and woman appeared. She was wearing an apron, her hair was blonde and she had a perfect skin. Yet her eyes were tired, as if she had been watching the sky forever. She gazed at Tyrank for a long moment and wrinkles appeared on her forehead. Tyrank felt his own head turning red and he stared to the floor.
"Tyrank..." The woman's voice was as clear as the sky itself and her eyes began to lit up. "Tyrank? Is it really you?"
Tyrank shrugged. "No it's my uncle!" he said sarcastically and the woman started to laugh out loud.
"Oh Tyrank!" she gasped and ran into his arms, crying from joy. "I cannot believe it's you!"
Tyrank hugged her back and sobbed. "You really don't?"
"No of course I do!" said the woman and slapped her husband on the chest as she laughed. "When I read your letter I couldn't believe you were coming home. But now you are here and I believe, Tyrank. I do! Oh!"
She jumped into his arms again and Tyrank laughed as he hugged her. He felt happy, a strange feeling it was. Somehow it had grown unfamiliar to him. Yet he knew that this was indeed it and it felt good, really good.
"I'm glad to home, Mora," he muttered into her ear. "You still look beautiful."
Mora shrugged and punched her husband on the chest again. "You still haven't lost any weight, have you?"
Tyrank blushed. "Dear.. Could we not discuss that?"
Their house was located away from the great cities, deep in the Land of Dusk. Mora had herited the house from her grandmother, who had been Guardian all her life. Her purpose was to guide lost warriors to either Pillai in the north, or Ruinen in the south. Now this was Mora's job, though only rarely warriors showed up anymore. Those days, they all just warped from one city to an other and live of the Land of Dusk had become lonely. Especially after Tyrank had left for Navisko.
He been stayed away from home ever since, thinking about his life and about the future. In his search he had been waiting for answers, for clues of whatever fate was waiting for them. But eventually he realised all his fears were just shadows in his mind. Now his was home again and peace would find him, in which he had enough space to finally clear his mind. Though one memory would linger forever, the memory of a little girl. Mora had heard of her too and she proud of her husband, proud that he had saved the world alongside her.
"That's when I decided to go home," Tyrank told his wife that night at dinner. "I just thought I needed some time to recover, but now I know I can only do that here."
"I'm just so glad you have returned," said Mora. "I was so worried, I didn't know what to you. When I received your letter, my heart leaped over! I was so happy.
Tyrank smiled faintly and felt aching in his chest. There was another reason why he had not returned home earlier.
For almost two years he had travelled around Priston, with the Lunan leader Roldin by his side. Together they had been searching for a way to lift a strange curse from them, a curse the Koltans have gave them. They were both poisoned inside, an unknown magic swirling past their bones. Tyrank couldn't remember how it felt to be strong anymore, for strength was drained from him everytime. There seemed to be no possibility to recover, no time to do it. No priestess that could heal them, no spell to lift the curse and no medicine, for it was no decease.
But now he had a chance to be happy again. Shadows had been drawn from his mind and his vision on life cleared. He finally had the courage to return home and see his wife, whom he loved more than anyone else.

The sun was sinking and its light gave the Land of Dusk a most beautiful, golden glow. Some Egons were scurrying around in the shade of a rock, while two Sans stood beside the road as lampposts. Some Northgoblins were banging each other on the head and mutated rabies were licking their furs.
A man hurried himself through the land, past the rocks, in the warmth of the burning sun. He barely had any breath left as he ran, but knew it wasn't the time and place to give up. His throat was soar, his mind clouded and his body ached all over. Ignoring the monsters around him, he managed to reach the door of the house, that lay hidden between the hills, beside a small lake. Raising his aching fist, he banged on the door with great effort.
Mora jumped and threw down her napkin. "I say!" she said, rather upset. "Who in the world could it be, at this time of the day?"
"Honey, please, stay here," said Tyrank and stood up. "I will go see."
"Alright," said Mora and shrugged. "But it had better not be one of those bounty hunters, searching the place for that Moriff! If it is, kick him out of here!"
Tyrank smiled. Typically his wife, he thought. But his mind was quickly turned when he opened the door, and had to catch a stumbling man from falling in. He was soaking wet from sweat, with deep scars in his face and around his neck. He was breathing heavily, his chest trembling when he exhaled. It was as if he had been running for days, and to see his friend like this, Tyrank felt sinking back into shadow.
"Cage!" he cried out and lifted his friend in. "Cage, what happened to you?"
"I... I..."
But no more words came from his mouth and Cage fell unconscious. Mora gasped at the sight of it and hurried Tyrank up the stairs. There they lay Cage onto a spare bed and Mora began to treat his wounds. After a few moments, Tyrank took over and his wife disappeared downstairs for the dishes.
His friend was almost paler than milk, his chest still trembling with every exhale. Tyrank wondered desperately what brought him here to the north, far away from the dungeon, and in this condition. Something terrible must have happened.
Tyrank shook himself awake and saw Cage opening his eyes.
"Tyrank..." he said again and then moaned.
"Hush," said Tyrank and draped his piece of cloth in the water, before tapping the wounds lightly. "You need to recover."
"No..." Cage clenched his teeth to stop a painful stain and then heaved a sigh. "There's no time... Tyrank, he..."
Tyrank waited for a moment. "He - what?"
"He's back..." Tears suddenly sprang into Cage's eyes and Tyrank understood it was deadly serious. Those weren't tears of happiness or sadness, but of fear. "I don't know how..." moaned Cage. "He escaped..."
Tyrank stayed his hand and his sight dwelled into nowhere. It was as if his heart had completely been frozen and light faded. It couldn't be.
"Yiro..." he whispered. "Cage... You go sleep now. And when you wake up, I want you to tell me every single thing."

His hands were aching, while Daemon sat bended over by the carpet in the upstairs hallway, as he tried to brush out the dust. He couldn't believe he was stuck with his stupid chores, while his friends were having fun in the snow outside. Father had returned from the hunt in the meantime, and was now finishing his late night dinner. Mother had turned all her attention to him and Daemon kept sulking over his dirty job. Suddenly a young and playful face peeked around the corner of a bedroom on the right.
"Still not done, are you?"
Daemon growled and threw the brush at his sister, who quickly moved away. "What do you want, Farrah?" he said grumpily.
His sister chuckled from her bedroom and threw back the brush. "I'm going into town with mother tonight, to see the fireworks. But looks like you will be stuck here for a while!"
Angrily, Daemon stood up and banged her door closed, while he stood there boiling in his shoes. The last thing he needed was his sister to get all annoying and spoiled. The reason he had been grounded was because he had pushed her down the stairs, for she had been teasing him like always. But there was nothing he could do to make her stop. Mother had become furious and said that Farrah was only so young, for she was seven years old. Daemon did not care: little or not, she had to learn how to act normal. Everytime they had only a little fight, she would go to her mommy, crying, and Daemon would get blamed for the whole thing. And tonight he was already grounded, so it was better to control himself. He hated his sister, he hated his life, and he hated the fact that his mother never believed a word he said.
Deciding he was done with the carpet at his feet, he threw the brush hard against his sister's door and locked himself up in his own bedroom.
"Humpf... Fireworks," Daemon sulked as he threw himself on his bed. He felt like he could cry, but of course he had to stop it. "Don't be a baby..." he said to himself.
But it turned out that his sister had fooled him again, for mother came up the stairs, asking Daemon if he felt like coming along to watch the fireworks. He was all too happy he could go outside, so 'no' was not an answer.
The main square of Eura was very slippery that night, but still people kept gathering all around at the square. Once again the people celebrated the founding of their city, a special day to many. Daemon, on the other hand, found it all too cliché. No one could even remember when precisely Eura had been founded and it was so long ago. Even so, the villagers enjoyed it every year, and also then people had done their very best to make it an ultimate festival. There were ice-sculptures, small portable playgrounds for the little children and many streetperformances. Daemon only enjoyed the firework, though even that became boring in a few years. Yet he was glad he was outside again and he kept scanning the crowd for any of his friends to be near.
Daemon jumped and spotted Mikey, one of his best friends, from the corner of his eyes.
"Daemon, you ungrounded?" he whispered.
Daemon glanced at his mother for a moment. "I think so," he hissed at his friend. "Why?"
"Pal, you wouldn't believe what we have just discovered!"
Mikey sounded really exiting and it rushed through Daemon's chest, as curiosity overcame him.
"What?" he said anxiously and grinned. "Where?"
Mikey motioned his finger... "Come on, we'll show you!"
Daemon glanced over at his mother again and when he felt it was safe to leave, he followed his friend out of the crowd. It became quieter as they reached the edge of the village, but Mikey didn't stop there. He went further, beyond the snowy hills, to a place where the festival lights couldn't reach. It was one of the ruined temples around Eura, where all children used to play when they were younger. Daemon and his friends still hung out in them from time to time, but the adults didn't like it at all. They said that things happened in those temples they shouldn't be proud of, and that they were best forgotten. Yet Mikey led him further through the ruins of pillars and large stones, and only stopped when they reached a spot under an ancient roof, which seemed to be falling down any minute.
Mikey started kicking away some rocks and old bricks, and Daemon quickly turned to help him. The rocks were insanely heavy, though together they managed. When they had removed the final pile of bricks, a stone stairway was revealed, which was going deep under the ground.
"What's this?" asked Daemon, stunned. "Stairs?"
"Yep!" said Mikey proudly and rubbed the dirt of his hands. "Me and Dion found it this morning. Looks like no one has been here for years."
Daemon considered the stair below him for a second and moaned. "No way we're going to tell the elders," he grinned. "Okay, Mikey, lead the way!"
Mikey clapped his hands together and descended down the stairway. Daemon followed closely and was startled by the overwhelming darkness below the earth. He quickly grabbed his friend's coat from behind, who was walking forth with his hands on the walls, and tried to make good steps in order not to fall. The stairway went deeper and deeper, and the stones cracked beneath their feet. A soft sound of dripping water came nearer and finally could Daemon see a light at the end, that grew larger with every step.

"Careful," said Mikey, when they reached the end of the tunnel. "You'll have to jump the last bit here."
Daemon let go of his coat and watched his friend disappear below. He could hear him land to the floor with a grunt and decided to follow. He could see nothing but an orange light beneath him, no ground for him to land. He slowly slipped down the rocks and let himself fall, and noticed the ground was closer than he had thought. With a moan, he stood up and patted the dust off his clothes. After a second of breathing, he looked up and saw they had entered a large cave with high ceilings, filled with ruins of old buildings. As he was gaping at the surroundings, two of his other friends came running up to them, shouting.
"Don't you like the echo?" said Dion loudly. He was a boy about Daemon's height, with longer brown hair, tight in a ponytail.
"This place is gorgeous!" chuckled Gina, a girl smaller than they, but still of the same age. Her long, blonde locks of hair swirled around as she ran.
"Well," said Mikey eventually. "What do you think?"
"Awesome," breathed Daemon and then grinned. "Imagine what we can find in here!"
"Exactly," said Dion, frowning. "But weren't you grounded, Daemon?"
Daemon shrugged and raised his shoulders. "My mom let me watch the fireworks, so I think that's over."
"You'll never get out of trouble, do you?" said Gina, laughing. "Anyway, guess what we have found already!"
"Err.. I don't know," said Daemon exited. "Come on, tell me!"
"We'll show you," said Dion and entered the cave further.
"What are you waiting for?" laughed Mikey and gave Daemon a little push in the back. "Let's go!"
They all quickly ran after Dion, who stopped near the ruins of a tower. The bricks all had the exact same color of the cave itself, so it was hard to tell which was ruin and which was wall. It was a strange sight, for the ruins of the tower seemed like a chameleon against the walls of the cave.
Dion knelt down by the foot of the tower and removed a rock before him. He stretched out his hand into the ground, and when he withdrew it, he held a paper scroll. Daemon examined it a bit while Dion folded it open, and noticed it was a very old map. A map of Priston.
"How did you get this?" he gasped and looked around his friends.
"We found a chest with lots of old stuff," said Mikey proudly.
"It was locked," explained Gina, "but it's so old that the lock almost fell off itself! We only had to hit it with a stone and BAM!"
"Stuff like old necklaces and wands," said Dion happily. "And then this map! There are pieces on it which aren't even on the new map. Look!"
All friends knelt down beside him and bend closer over the map. There were indeed places Daemon hadn't see before on the official one, but also places which weren't on it, like Ruinen Village.
"We should have the newer map," he said after a while. "And compare these two."
"I have one!" said Mikey immediately and started searching in his backpack. Eventually he withdrew an other scroll, folded it open and lay it beside the old one.
"You carry around a map of Priston?" said Gina, who frowned and started laughing.
"Hey, you never know!" laughed Mikey back. "All those warriors always talk about places far away and I just want to know where they all are."
Daemon patted his friend on the shoulder. "Man, you've got way too much free time."
The friends laughed for a while and then turned back to the two maps, starting to compare. They found more lost places, like a temple south of Navisko, in the Oasis. But also cities in the Land of Dusk, the Cursed Land and the Valley of Tranquillity, which all seemed to have other and older names. The map was so old that most writing had faded, and it was very hard to read the names. They were also written in a very curly handwriting, like a code that's hard to decipher.
All places were also marked with crosses in the colors of red and blue. Daemon and his friends tried to figure out their meanings, but they didn't seem to make any sense. Navisko was colored red, for instance, along with the Cursed Land and the old castle south of the place where Ruinen should be. But the temple in the Oasis and Eura itself were marked blue. The friends scanned the map a few more times in silence and suddenly Daemon gasped.
"Look at that!" he said and pointed at the map.
His friends bended over more closely and they could see a green dot south in Priston, by a village that had become Ricarten. And it was moving. It was slowly turning east, then north and east again.
Dion quickly stood up and stepped back, followed by Mikey and Gina.
"What's that?" stammered the girl as she pointed at the map with a trembling finger. "It's moving! Why is it moving?"
"I... I don't know!" breathed Daemon. "Oh, look!"
The green dot had stopped when it reached Navisko, but then started to move north. For a moment nobody said a word, and Daemon could only hear the sound of their breathing and the dripping water above their heads. When the dot had stopped when it reached Eura, Dion stepped forward and knelt down again, examining the map. Slowly the green dot began to fade away, until it had disappeared entirely.
"It's gone..." Dion muttered. "Whoa! This map is magical!"
"Hold on!" said Daemon. "It stopped in Eura... Why?"
"Don't know!" laughed Dion. "Does it matter? It's magical!"
"What a founding!" cheered Mikey.
Gina laughed and joined them on the floor. "This might be the map of an ancient tribe!"
Daemon froze. An ancient tribe... The Midranda? He still froze at the mere thought of it, the name he kept hearing in his dreams, every night. He had seen swords and staffs high, in a red mist, with people screaming. He had heard a terrible roar, like raging fire, while he had seen castles being destroyed. That very name was the thing people had shouted in his dreams, that they had feared. And he feared it too. Every night still he woke up, sweaty and breathing, with horrible images in his head. The first couple of times it seemed like no big deal to him, but after a week or so, it just wasn't funny anymore.
It was Gina, who stood up and grabbed his shoulder. "Are you alright?"
Dion and Mikey stood up too and looked at their friend, who stood nailed to the floor, staring into nowhere.
"Daemon!" shouted Mikey and began to shake him. "Wake up, man!"
Daemon startled and stepped back, breathing heavily.
"What's the matter?" said Dion worried.
Daemon swallowed and shook his head. "Nothing..." he breathed and quickly recovered. "Sorry, I was just..."
"You look sick," muttered Gina. "Come on, we'd better go back."
"Yes..." said Mikey slowly, still looking at Daemon. "Let's go, guys."
Daemon nodded. He appreciated their understanding, something a grown-up would never give him. His mother had barely heard him out when he told her about the dream, and Farrah had only laughed at him. Therefore he was very thankful his friends didn't do neither, but they guided him up the stairs and to outside instead.

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