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2007-01-13 11:58:12
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The Eye of Midranda


Pristontale: The Eye of Midranda
Chapter G - Hellphoenix

Navisko was swarming with warriors, late that afternoon, while Daemon watched Lenaen and Bazz at work. They were trying to keep everyone in line as their people entered the city, over the great stairway and toward the Bellatra. Its doors would open to them and Navisko's people were preparing all kinds of provisions and constantly asked them if they needed anything else. Daemon saw that Lenaen and his people truly appreciated it, but he himself would rather have this to be over. He was getting more impatient by the minute and wondered when he could finally sit back down and relax, with maybe a large mug of beer in his hand.
A few meters away stood Tim, talking intensly with a strange man. The looks of him made Daemon's impatience slip away and replaced it with curiosity. The conversation seemed pretty serious, by the looks on the their faces. But it was the strange man itself that drew most of Daemon's attention.
He looked completely different from Lenaen's people. Not only were the marks on his face different, but his clothing and style of weapons too. While he stood there he was holding a banner, with the same weaponshield on it as Daemon had seen on top of Navisko's gate: a moon and a wolverine.
Daemon startled and turned, smiling up at Lenaen.
"You coming too?" the mage asked.
"Of course!" said Daemon and glanced back one last time at Tim and the strange man, before following Lenaen up the great stairway.
The mage stopped suddenly on top and turned, watching the sun's last beams disappear from the horizon.
"Daemon..." he said quietly, without looking down.
"Hm?" said Daemon absently, but restrained himself when he saw Lenaen's face. "What is it?"
"Do you..." Lenaen stopped for a second and then sighed. "Do you miss the Ice Lands?"
"What?" Daemon frowned. Why was he bringing this up now? "I guess so."
"Because I do." Lenaen heaved a deep sigh and smiled. "One day we will get them back and then it will be our home again."
Then the mage turned again and descended down the stairs. Daemon still stood where he was, gazing after him, feeling a dreading cold surrounding himself. He indeed missed the Ice Lands, his home. But there was a positive sparkle in it all and Daemon smiled. Lenaen said they would get back those lands and go home. That meant that Daemon would be able to go home too. Good, he thought. If their way leads me to home, then I will follow them.

There were so many people, Daemon couldn't believe it. Hundreds of warriors, almost in an equal number as in Ricarten, were swarming around on the square in front of the Bellatra, all eager to go in. Beam stood by the great doors with Bazz by his side, who was holding a warhorn in one hand. Lenaen signed to Daemon to stay where he was, and went to join Beam himself. Daemon stayed and looked around, amazed by the power that surrounded the warriors. He felt he fitted in a little bit, being dressed as a young warrior himself. He saw weapons and armors he had never seen before, not even in Ricarten, and many had strange glows among them.
Suddenly the muttering and talking were all silenced by the sound of the warhorn, and Daemon stood on his toes to see what was happening. His mouth fell open when he saw a huge black banner rising above all heads, with a great and splendid phoenix painted on it. It seemed that Lenaen was holding it and all heads turned toward Beam, and Daemon frowned at the looks on everyone's faces. They were all straight, concentrated, in a way in which he had never seen before.
"My friends!" Beam called out to the crowd. "Navisko has opened the gates for us, as our refuge. In time we will pay them back properly, for their kindness and generosity."
Daemon couldn't help but listening closely as well, but then noticed Tim and the other strange man joined them from behind.
"Today are dark days," Beam continued. "But we will stand through. Let's begin by sleeping well and safely tonight. Open the gates!"
"I may select five people who may open the doors for us," said Lenaen after Beam. "You all deserve the honor, but there are a few who we owe this. Please step up when you hear your name.
"Wayne!" A strong man, rather young and with short, spiked hair stepped forward.
"Pitar!" This was a young one too, with a beautiful blue cloak swooping behind him.
"Nympha!" A middle-aged lady, with long yellow hair and a large javelin on her back.
"Bahek!" This one was older and as giant as a rock and a face so cold, it gave Daemon the shivers.
"And finally, Daemon!"
It took a moment for it to occur to him, but then Daemon was startled by the mention of his name. Did he hear that correctly? He looked around surprised and then turned to Tim, who winked at him and motioned him to go. Daemon had no clue what to do next, but then remembered he should step forward. Carefully he put his one foot forward and then walked through the crowd to the front, to join the others. Lenaen grinned at his stupefied expression and then stepped aside, signing to Bazz. He nodded at the mage and brought the horn back to his mouth, blowing hard.
Immediately the selected warriors began pushing the doors with all their might, but Daemon only stood there watching it. Eventually Lenaen knocked him softly in the back and Daemon moved, pushing the doors with all the strength he had in him. Suddenly the doors moved with a shock and flew open, followed by a wave of cheers from the crowd.
The warriors Wayne, Pitar and Nympha smiled down at Daemon, who broadly smiled back. But Bahek didn't turn or look at all, he just walked straight through the doors and entered the Bellatra.
"After you," said Pitar to Daemon, who grinned as broadly as he could.
Daemon looked back at the crowd and couldn't resist his happiness.
"Let's go in!" he shouted and was more than delighted when everyone answered it with loud cheers.
Then he smiled at Lenaen and ran through the doors, past Bahek and into the Bellatra, while the stream of people followed closely behind.

The Bellatra was enormous and breathtaking. A splendid hall with high walls, covered with torches and painted symbols. The people of Navisko had already set down furniture for them and were now coming to bring lots of food and drinks.
Daemon had settled himself on a fine chair with his desired mug of beer, and glanced around as everyone was in motion. Most were unpacking their things, others were just celebrating and laughing, and some were actually battling a little bit. Lenaen stood by Tim talking to that strange outsider and Daemon couldn't keep his eyes off him. He truly wondered who he was and where he came from, as he had done with many other people in Ricarten.
Suddenly raised voices from behind made Daemon turn in his chair and saw Beam standing in the back, talking to a young boy with blonde hair. He was about Daemon's age, but his attitude wasn't likable. Daemon found the boy arrogant and spoiled, for the way he stood and how he was talking to Beam.
"How dare you... This is so unfair!"
Beam sighed. "You know why, Tal. So would you calm down?"
"I will not," growled the boy. "Why did he get the open the door instead of me?"
Daemon quickly turned away when the boy pointed at him as he spoke and felt a great dislike swelling up.
"That was Lenaen's decision," he heard Beam say. "And he has a perfectly good reason. So please get out of my way and unpack your things."
Daemon watched Beam passing him from the corners of his eyes, but didn't feel like turning to look at the boy. After a few minutes he past Daemon as well, taking large steps to show his anger. Daemon shrugged and took a gulp from his mug, as he watched the boy disappear outside.
As his eyes scanned the great hall of the Bellatra, they focused on a strange object between the crowd. He lowered the mug away from his mouth, unconsciously, and frowned. It was a low platform with a pedestal on it, holding a something that had a mystical atmosphere about it. Though it seemed like a normal hourglass, it was quite large and beautifully crafted. Daemon took another gulp and put away his mug on the small table next to him, standing to his feet.
Lenaen watched him as Daemon moved toward the pedestal and stopped when he was very close. He tilted his head a bit as a strange feeling overcame him, as if it was something familiar. But when he stretched out his hand toward the hourglass, he was awoken from his daydream by Lenaen's voice.
"Don't," said the mage and joined by Daemon's side.
"What?" said Daemon and frowned. "What is this?"
"The Hourglass of Destiny," Lenaen said quietly.
"Oh right," gasped Daemon and slowly turned back to the pedestal. "The one that -"
"- that trapped the Child of the Gods into stone." Lenaen shrugged. "Tricky kind of magic. No one has a clue how to break the curse."
"Can't you just destroy it?" said Daemon. "Destroy the source and you destroy the magic, right?"
Lenaen laughed a little sinister. "Go ahead and try it."
Daemon frowned and examined the hourglass. Then he drew his sword and grabbed it tightly, while his mouth was dry. The talking and muttering from around stopped and Daemon was very well aware that all eyes turned on him. Yet he tried to stay focused as he raised his sword and noticed the people were standing back. What was he thinking? Nothing at all. Someone else seemed to be pulling the strings as Daemon smashed his sword onto the hoursglass, but then screamed when he was thrown back hard. He landed on the cold floor on his back and moaned as he tried to sit up. His sword lay a meter away, covered in a red glow which was slowly fading. When it had disappeared, Daemon stared up the pedestal with open mouth and desperately wondered what had just happened.
"Are you alright?" Lenaen asked after a while and helped Daemon to his feet.
Everyone else seemed to be lifting their shoulders and went back to work, as if nothing unusual had happened. Daemon stared up at Lenaen and wanted to ask something, but he could find no words. Someone was handing his sword back to him and Daemon saw it was Tim, who had a serious frown in his forehead.
"Don't do that again," he said and sighed.
"But..." Daemon stammered. "What... How?"
"Magic," said Lenaen simply. "Midranda magic. This hourglass is not the source. The Midranda is."
Daemon heaved a sigh to pull himself together and tried to fight his anger swelling up. Why did Lenaen let him do that?
"Don't worry," said Tim and turned to walk away. "There is no way."
Don't worry? Daemon puzzled as Tim left them and put the sword back in its sheath. "So, turning this hourglass won't help either?"
"It would," said Lenaen. "That is the normal curse. But who is willing to turn it?"
Daemon didn't answer, for he himself was surely not willing to. He looked around at the people and decided no one was. He looked back at Lenaen, who nodded and walked away. Daemon sighed and went back to his chair, but was suddenly stopped by someone in his path. It was the blonde boy who had been talking to Beam earlier.
"Didn't work, huh?" he grinned. "Never thought someone was that stupid to actually try."
Daemon growled and held himself back. "People who don't try are cowards."
The boy's grin faded. "People who can't succeed are weaklings," he spat back.
"Well then," Daemon shrugged. "I opened the doors and you didn't. So you can decide who the weakling is."
With those words he went to sit back in his chair, sinking away and watched how the boy walked away, obviously insulted. Daemon smiled satisfied and took his mug back, gulping it away.

Night now came and Pillai grew ever darker, maturing the gloominess in the streets. Tyrank watched the stars as his thoughts were deep, the same as Dylane, who sat on the fountain nearby. Roldin had left for Navisko hours ago, to see what was new there. His people should be informed and he would rather do it personally than to send Fylla to do it.
Tyrank held Fylla's last letter tightly in his hand as he heaved a deep sigh, which made Dylane look his way.
"What's wrong?"
"Nothing," said Tyrank. "Just tired."
"Hm..." Dylane shrugged. "Cloudy times, huh?"
"Yup," sighed Tyrank. "Cloudy times."
"We'll come up with something." Dylane stood up and joined Tyrank's side. "At least we have Melocrie back."
"No, we don't. We have her statue."
"Oh, come on, Tyrank," said Dylane and frowned. "Try to stay positive now."
"I'd rather stay realistic." Tyrank turned and looked Dylane deep in the eyes. "We have to wait for Roldin to bring more news and I can hardly wait any longer. You know a shadow is upon us and it might destroy us all if we don't stop it. But we don't know what it is and so we can't do anything right now. That just frustrates me."
"I know," said Dylane and nodded. "It's all one big blur. I don't get it."
"Me neither." Tyrank laughed and turned back to the stars. "Me neither..."

The celebration was still going on, as Daemon sat on the steps of the great stairway, gazing at the moon above their heads. They were not allowed to cross over, for on the other side monsters were roaming Navisko. It was a weird feeling to know that the citizens were under a horrible curse, just on the other side of the steps, while they sat near the Bellatra, celebrating and having a good time. Tim had said there was nothing they could do, so that they might as well not try to. But Daemon's own words from before, that people who don't try are cowards, made him a little confused.
Meanwhile, Lenaen had told him a lot about the people he was with now, a guild called Hellphoenix. Beam was their leader, Lenaen his substitute and Bazz the general. Tim and Wayne were both teachers in battle, while Nympha and a girl called Jill were spell teachers. Pitar was a messenger and a hunter, and Bahek the personal guard and defender. When Daemon asked Lenaen what his own part to play was, the mage had just said he was guest. Daemon would have nothing rather, for being a guest means you can leave. And he did not tend to stay, for he would go home of his chance was there.
He had not yet shown anyone the map he had bought in Ricarten, for somehow he was afraid to. Afraid that it would be taken from him, while he felt he would need it sometime. He had come to imagine that one of the moving dots was himself, though still he wasn't exactly sure what to think of it. The last time he looked on the map the other moving dot had placed itself on Pillai, a place far away in the north. There seemed to be no connection and with these thoughts Daemon was afraid he wouldn't be able to sleep at all that night.
On the other side of the square he could Lenaen through the crowd, talking heavily with Beam. Somehow the dislike had sank away and Daemon now began to look up to him. Lenaen had told him that Beam was an orphan, and that the blonde boy named Tal was his little brother. They came from the same mother, though from a different father with different principles, and that make the two of them fight a lot. Lenaen didn't know exactly how Hellphoenix had came into being, for Beam hadn't really told anyone ever. But the mage did know that Beam was once like Daemon, a refuge, drifted away from home.
But the time was drawing near that the party should end, and one by one the people of Hellphoenix returned inside the Bellatra. Daemon watched as the square emptied and shivered when the horrible moaning of a Goul sounded from the other side of the stairs.
"Are you staying here?" asked Lenaen, as he passed Daemon on the way to the hall.
"Yeah..." said Daemon and sighed. "But just for a bit longer."
"Alright." Lenaen smiled wearily. "We're not closing the doors until the moon is right above our heads. Be sure to get inside before then."
"I will," promised Daemon and watched the mage leave.
A beautiful night it was, if only it wasn't for those monstrous sounds behind him. And if Daemon thought he had been left alone on the square, he was wrong.
Suddenly he noticed someone else in the shadows, on the other side next to the great statue. Daemon focused on it and he was getting cold, without being able to take his eyes of it. Then something red flashed from the darkness, but only for a second and Daemon felt the hairs on his neck raise. A person was moving in the shadows, large and cold, with silver hair swaying into the light every now and then.
The figure began to move forth and Daemon tried to stand up, but he couldn't move a muscle. It was like he had been frozen to the steps on which he sat and he feeling more scared by the second. He wanted to draw his sword, rather than to scream, but two piercing red eyes seemed to look right through him.
Then a hand came forth, as blue and cold as ice, and finally a body covered with a large, black cloak. The face remained overshadowed and Daemon's eyes grew wider as the figure kept coming closer. His heart pounded like crazy and was shocked when he could hear a whispering voice in his head.
"I found you..."
Daemon jumped to his feet and drew his sword, and on the same moment the figure shot into his direction and there was nothing he could do.
But it was stopped, held back by a sudden movement that left a trace of light and wind in the air. The creature from the dark hissed and for a second his face was shown, and the shock knocked Daemon back onto the steps. Then it waved its cloak and disappeared, without a trace, back to the shadows and gone.
"Are you okay?"
Daemon breathed heavily and tried to stop, but neither could he control the way his heart was rocking. He was still holding his sword tightly as he tried to stand up. Finally he looked up and saw it was the strange man, who had been talking with Tim earlier. His eyes seemed weary and dark, though they showed compassion and great suffering. But Daemon could hardly notice either of these things, from he was swallowing hard to get his nerves back.
"What..." he started and shivered again. "What in the world was that?"
"A shadow," the man said quietly and patted Daemon on the shoulder to comfort him. "It's gone now."
Daemon breathed and wiped his forehead with his sleeve. "Thank you..." he stammered and waited for himself to calm to before he put the sword back in its sheath.
"Come," said the man. "It's not safe right now. Navisko's cursed. Let's go inside."
Daemon couldn't answer, but nodded and followed the man toward the gate.
"Wait," he suddenly said and stopped. "What's your name?"
"Roldin," said the man friendly.
"Thank you, Roldin," said Daemon and smiled.
He looked back once more to see if they were not being followed by anything at all, and then walked back inside the great hall. But when he waited for Roldin to come inside as well, nothing happened. The strange man was nowhere in sight and Daemon scanned the square with a frown on his face.
"Boy, leave him be," said a voice from behind, and Daemon turned to see it was Pitar. "He's a member of the Lunan Guild, so he doesn't intend to stay. Just close the doors and get some rest.
Daemon didn't reply, but only stared toward the great stairway, while Pitar helped him closing the doors of the Bellatra.

Tyrank paced back and forth past the Warpgate and rubbed his chin. Dylane stood some distance away, also getting rather impatient. Finally a strange wind swelled up and a vivid light appeared from the platform, revealing Roldin in the dark.
"There you are!" said Tyrank and walked up to him, Dylane also. "So what's the news?"
"Well," said Roldin and scratched the back of his head. "I found him, that boy Daemon."
"What?" said Dylane unbelieving. "Are you serious? The boy from the letter?"
"Yes," nodded Roldin. "He's in Navisko with Hellphoenix."
"Who would have thought..." gasped Tyrank. "Did you tell him?"
"No." Roldin sighed. "There was some trouble. An intruder near the Bellatra."
"Intruder?" Dylane frowned. "Who?"
Roldin shook his head. "I don't know, I can only tell it didn't belong there."
"So what about your people?" Tyrank asked.
"They're alright, camped just outside Navisko on the west side. The people of Hellphoenix now reside in the Bellatra."
"Didn't they live in the east?" asked Dylane.
Roldin remained silent, but Tyrank noticed his face turning pale, which made a cold shiver run over his back. "What happened, Roldin?"
Roldin heaved a sigh. "Those radicals in the east we heard about? They are called the Disciples and they have taken over the east. I am sure that girl Farrah named them the shadows in her letter."
"Disciples?" Dylane gasped. "What kind of?"
"Well..." Somehow it seemed hard for Roldin to answer this question, so he swallowed a few times and looked at Tyrank, as straight as he could. "My guesses are... that they are the Disciples of Majok."
"What...?" Tyrank stepped back and felt as if the ground had literally broken away from beneath his feet.
Dylane's eyes had grown wide and he felt his own breath increasing, as suddenly the peace of Pillai had been washed away.

Have you ever had the feeling about a situation that you were almost certain of, but afraid to tell others because it might actually come true? A nightmare in your chest, struggling to get free? What about that one ghost from the past hunting you forever, even when you were never there to experience the horrors yourself?
What would you do, if this one nightmare breaks free, the ghost returns and all of your fears become reality?
Would you run, or would you stand and face it? One thing is for sure: it would be the most hardest decision to make than any at all before.

"How do you know?" Tyrank asked quietly, after a long while of silence.
"Because..." Roldin swallowed before continuing. "That intruder at the Bellatra... It was the opposite magic of the Midranda. Now, there are two of opposing kinds of magic."
"The Falcorra..." Dylane muttered. "And.. Majok."
"And it definitely wasn't one of the Falcorra," said Roldin, with great pain in his chest.
"But how?" Tyrank wondered and noticed himself panicking a little. "How? I thought the Gods had locked him away!"
"No magic lasts forever..." said Roldin sadly. "The Seals are broken."
"Both of them...?" Dylane breathed. "Of course... How could we not have seen? But, that means that..."
"They have both returned." Roldin grabbed Dylane's and Tyrank's shoulder tightly, as he heaved a deep breath. "Midranda and Majok."
"Their War almost destroyed the world once..." said Dylane quietly and cast down his eyes. "I wonder... what is to happen now."

Run, or stand and face your fears?

"We are not alone," said Roldin and nodded to encourage his friends. "We have the Falcorra's strength with us, and that of our own. If Priston unites, there is nothing they can do to harm us."
"Tomorrow we shall all go to Navisko," said Tyrank and agreed. "We will bring Fylla along, talk to the Lunans and Hellphoenix, explore the desert to the east and do whatever we can to break this magic of the shadows."
"You make it sound so easy," said Dylane and sighed. "But maybe it is."
"It's time for action," said Roldin. "Priston belongs to us. Let's keep it that way."

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