Hello everyone, this is Asclepius, with another chapter in this thrilling saga by Lendrick.
CHAPTER TWO OBSESSSION Secret Cave Diamond Falls, The Forsaken Vale. One Year Later…. The water falling became a sheet of white pearlescent diamond blanket. Glyndrel sat in his secret cave, staring at the falling water, eyes glazed and distant. The thought of the falling water being a blanket made of diamonds gave him cold comfort, as he wished he could grab it, and wrap himself in it allowing it to consume him, to lose himself. Shaking his head slightly, breaking him out of his reverie, Glyndrel leaned back against the cool stone rear wall of the cave, knocking his head against it a couple of times attempting to dislodge his troubled demeanour. Letting out a sigh, Glyndrel glanced, half lidded towards his treasure stash. For the past several years, Glyndrel was collecting and hoarding treasure here, in his secret cave, unbeknownst to anyone else. Shuffling over, Glyndrel grabbed a handful of coins and brought his face close to them, examining them with a close eye. Copper coins, which he flicked uncaringly back into the iron weather-beaten chest that he kept it all in, although now it overflowed somewhat given the amount of collectables inside. Frustration and anger gave way, as Glyndre’s worry for Slyphania increased exponentially. Throwing the remaining coins, Glyndrel grunted in frustration and grabbed his temples with his hands. The frustration of knowing something wasn’t right was coupled with the lack of communication with her and his concern for her wellbeing. Pacing in the cave, Glyndrel willed himself to action; deciding to combat these wanton feelings he would just go to her tree-house and confront her about the book. The book, the damnable tome that she took from the cave. Ever since that day, she was distant and Glyndrel attempted several times to break through her walls and find that carefree, smiling girl he had laid eyes on in the market that day. Given the constant rebukes Glyndrel was receiving, he needed some time alone, and any other time, coming to his secret cave behind the waterfall would allow him to focus and recharge, always leaving feeling better than when he entered. Not this time though, the cave wasn’t working. Glyndrel had to attempt something else, and the last thing he was going to accept was that some strange book that appeared out of nowhere would come between him and his new friendship. By the Great Tree, why had this happened? Was it foretold in some dusty prophecy, written in one of the Obsidian halls of damnation? It was such a massive forest, yet they just happened to be running on the spot where the ground would give way? Slyphania wasn’t even that heavy, especially if Glyndrel could lift her, as he wasn’t that strong, so how could she have caused the ground to give way? Was something else, more sinister at work here? All these questions rushed through Glyndrels head as he made his way out of the Waterfall, feeling the cool water wash over him, shocking his system due to the coldness. Having somewhat already dried from coming into the cave, Glyndrel was wet all over again. Glyndrel didn’t mind so much, it always made him feel more vibrant after an impromptu shower. Making his way back toward the village of Highvale, Glyndrel felt better with every step. By confronting Slyphania about his fears and concerns for her, he would force her to speak with him and really let him know what was going on with her and her behaviour over the book. The village itself was a quaint tree-house vista comprising numerous styles, the tree-houses had the access ladders built into the trunks, with planks and exquisite carvings causing a unique and exotically wooden flavour to the architecture. The style allowed for as little interference with the surrounding forest as possible, the Vertas respect and worship the forest and all that it provides. The virtues of deities that the Vertas worship is to ensure that the balance of the forest is maintained. Slyphania’s family had recently arrived, a pair of expert clothiers, Slyphania lived in a modest three room tree-house with a circular door to the main chamber, a large willow leaf etched in bas relief above the door. A symbol for prosperity and peace. Glyndrel walked up, the nerves almost getting the best of him and causing him to turn and run. Steeling himself that Slyphania was his friend and you don’t abandon your friends, Glyndrel took several steadying breaths before knocking lightly on the door. Myphanis, Slyphnia’s mother, answered the door knock, and Glyndrel couldn’t help but notice a sadness about her look and nonchalant demeanour. “Well Met, Ma’am, I am here to speak to Slyphania. Do you think she is up for a visitor?” “She is not here, Glyndrel. She is off with him. He has been constantly coming around and they go and lock themselves in that room for hours on end. All over that infernal book. Now she has left with him, where I know not, but I am concerned. What to do?” I couldn’t even tell you where to look for her, perhaps the local tavern?” “I am concerned too, Myphanis , I have been attempting to decide what is the best course of action, possibly getting a hold of that book and hiding it, until she learns to come out of the shell and speak with us.” Stated Glyndrel. “I just want my daughter back, Glyndrel, she spoke of you, that first night, and she was so excited and full of life, especially to have found a new friend so fast. Jaylah and I were really concerned about coming to a new village she would not find anyone. Not fit in. But then she found you, and it was like it was meant to be” Myphanis exclaimed. Glyndrel flinched at that comment, memories of his concern for it being premeditated washed over him like another falls shower, and he couldn’t help but feel somewhat guilty. If she hadn’t met him, she would still be her old self. “I will do what I can to help get to the issue here, I promise I will do my best” “Thankyou, Glyndrel, you really are a good friend, I really appreciate it”. Myphanis breathed, tears flowing that she quickly wiped away. With that, Glyndrel turned and left. The local tavern was probably a good starting point, but frustration and despair threatened to overwhelm him. Having managed to keep it together for the sake of her mother, now that he was alone again, it was almost too much. At this point, Glyndrel decided some good company was in order and veered off towards Alexyius’ home. Perhaps seeing his best friend would allay some of these fears and doubts that were clawing at his insides like a Thornackle beast. Alexyius was found behind his house, practicing with his bow. A ready smile played across Glyndrel’s features as he stealthily crept up behind him. Alexyius was a solid Etryan, only a year older than Glyndrel, and had shoulder length green dyed hair, tied behind with a pony tail hanging down above the remaining hair that hung straight. Smooth facial features and penetrating blue eyes were marred by a scar on his left cheek he had received from falling from a tree when he and Glyndrel had been playing Hide and Find four years earlier. It bled like a war wound and even the village mystics healing poultices could not fully remove the injury, resulting in a scar. Alexyius would come to take it in his stride, claiming now he would be even a bigger favourite among the elf maidens. Alexyius had his bow drawn, about to fire an arrow, when Glyndrel, having successfully snuck up behind him leant in close and quickly clapped his hands right behind his head, the wind generated caused his hair to flutter and the sudden noise made his shot falter. The arrow flew wide and stuck itself in a tree twenty yards beyond the intended target. Alexyius rounded on Glyndrel and tackled him to the ground. Wrestling around, they both ended up on their backs laughing. How good it felt to laugh again thought Glyndrel, having been mired in a fog of misery for quite some time. “I told you, you were an awful shot Lex!” Glyndrel exclaimed propping himself up on his elbow. “Well, isn’t that because you taught me?” Alexius stated, still chuckling in retort. “Is that so? Well, we might have to put that to the test”. Glyndrel replied, coming to a sitting position. Glyndrel sighed, the misery sweeping back in. The joy was short lived. “Ah, Lex, what am I to do about Slyphania? I am at a loss”. “So she’s still not talking?’ replied his friend with concern, also sitting up. “No, not to me, not to her family, only to him”. The “him” Glyndrel was referring to was a human that had arrived in the village three months ago. Having spotted Slyphania reading her damnable book under one of the Fen trees, just on the outskirts of the village, he had approached and taken a keen interest in what the book was about. Since then, if she wasn’t at home, in her room, studying the tome, she was with him. Glyndrel attempted to desperately remember what his name was, he was a sibilant man, balding and drawn, dressed in robes, and looked to be around sixty years old. The village gossips claim he was some kind of mystic or magician, but Glyndrel didn’t put much stock in gossip. What he did know, however, was that he didn’t like or trust the man, as he had taken away his newfound friend with a connection that Glyndrel couldn’t understand, and caused Glyndrel to harbour feelings of jealously towards him. What did he have to offer that Glyndrel didn’t have? Glyndrel and Slyphania had, or he thought they had, a special and pure friendship bond. Now though, it was like she was a stranger to him, and all she cared about was that book. That book and that Human. “I’ve got an idea on how to take your mind off all this” Exclaimed Alexyius all of a sudden, bringing Glyndrel out of his stupor with a quizzical expression and raising an eyebrow at him. Glyndrel gave Alexyius an expectant look, waiting for him to continue. “Let’s go for a hunt! We haven’t been for ages, and I hear there is a herd of bison roaming nearby. You know they always cheer you up” Alexyius announced triumphantly, taking obvious joy in having such a great suggestion. “I don’t know, not sure if I am in the right frame of mind” Glyndrel replied forlornly, although not flat out refusing. “Come on, it would be great” Alexyius stated standing up and brushing the dirt off his breeches before extending a hand to help Glyndrel to his feet. Accepting the offered hand, Glyndrel also stood and brushed himself down. “Ok then, I guess, we going now?” “No time like the now!’ replied Alexyius, “let me gather my bow and quiver and get my spare one for you.” He added. Shortly afterward, Glyndrel followed close behind Alexyius, moving quickly but quietly through the underbrush. The forest this time of year was alive with sensations. The smell of the honey dew leaves sweet and cloying played at Glyndrel’s nostrils, reminding him of a fancy free time, years ago. The birds chirped happily and all seemed right with the world. Unfortunately, invariably, Glyndrel’s thoughts kept getting dragged back to Slyphania. A flash of guilt that he went to Alex and not immediately to the tavern to begin his search, yet, what good would he be if he was too burnt out to really help her? Glyndrel needed this, needed this release from the world. When he thought about her now, instead of the smiling, happy Vertas that had so captivated him that fateful day in the marketplace a year ago, only now she wasn’t smiling, and he seemed he could only picture her in his mind’s eye through a haze, like looking at her through a frosted window. Glyndrel needed to get past that, to be able to see her clearly again. That was what this hunting trip was for, to help him see clearly again. Alexyius gave some quick hand motions Glyndrel almost missed from being in his reverie. Quickly he crouched down behind Alexyius, who looked back over his shoulder at Glyndrel and in the softest of whispers: “Up ahead, a buck, looks like a big one, we are downwind, so he doesn’t know we are here. This one is yours, shoot well!” Alexyius stated, moving back on his haunches to position himself behind Glyndrel, putting Glyndrel at the fore. Glyndrel’s pulse quickened as it always did when prey came into sight and he edged closer. Slowly, inch by inch, Glyndrel moved forward until he could see it clearly. On what looked to be a game trail stood an impressive sight, chewing at the surrounding foliage. A large buck, massive antlers and strong, muscled body, with tan and white spots speckled over its rear haunch. Where Glyndrel crouched, the buck was side on and gave Glyndrel a good view on how large and majestic an animal it was. Slowly, taking no breath, Glyndrel unshouldered the bow, and then, also with smooth precision so as to make no noise, withdrew a broadleaf arrow from the quiver on his back. Notching the arrow to the bow, Glyndrel took some quick, steadying breaths before taking a large one and holding it, bringing the bow and arrow to bear. Sighting in the buck, Glyndrel took aim. It just stood there, oblivious to the doom poised to strike. Something strange happened then, a calm came over Glyndrel, a sense of knowing and understanding, almost like an epiphany. The arrow poised on the buck, all Glyndrel had to do was let go. Let go. Glyndrel no longer saw the buck, but standing there instead was Slyphania. Glyndrel blinked, shaking his head and drawing a curious glance form Alexyius. Was he hallucinating? Looking back he saw the buck, no, Slyphania, sitting there, in the meadow, surrounded by light and sunshine, smiling and playing with a flower, just as he remembered her. The arrow wavered. Glyndrel looked on and saw the buck, its head raised and looking directly at him. It didn’t run, it wasn’t scared. It just stood there, looking at him, peering deep, just like Slyphania did a year ago. Glyndrel started to sweat and shake, his arms and arrow wavered. Looking into those beautiful, innocent, eyes. “I can’t do it.” Glyndrel sighed, lowering the bow and standing. The act causing the buck to skitter and run off. Alexyius scrambled to his feet, genuine concern flashing across his features. “Glyn what is it? You have never let one go before!?” “I know what I must do, Alex, but it won’t be easy.” Glyndrel began the trek back to town and handed the bow and quiver back to Alex on the way past. Alex turned to follow, but Glyndrel stopped him. “I need to be alone for some time Alex,” Glyndrel stated forlornly before adding: “Please let me deal with this, and then I promise we will go on another hunt” “I’ll hold you to that, my friend” Alex replied, still appearing concerned. “I bet you will” replied Glyndrel before turning and walking into the foliage before disappearing. ****** “How goes your Study?” The soft, sibilant voice asked, as the male figure paced around the female one. “So you are studying substantially? Came the insistent whispering. “Yes, Rannick, I have been, can I show you?” replied Slyphania. “Proceed.” Said Rannick. Slyphania went through some mental exercises she had learned and began the first incantation. A flame sprang up in the middle of her left palm. “Excellent work, please continue” Rannick stated, “Now, expand it to multiples”. Slyphania began to sweat, yet through great effort, ensured that every candle in the premises was ignited at once. Slyphania was in a wooden shack, about a half hour jog from the village to get there, she would come here often, to meet up with Rannick and practice her studies. At the moment, he is teaching “pyro kinesis”. Slyphania had been studying the tome she found in the cave for a year now, but only had the tutoring of Rannick for the past three months. At this stage, she wasn’t required to carry the book everywhere she went anymore, yet she hated to be away from it, it almost felt as though a part of her was missing. Almost like an amputee, you knew the arm was gone, but you could still feel it. Slyphania could still feel the book and the need to possess it. It was like an itch in her mind she could not scratch and was very distracting. “I’m tired Rannick, can we please stop for the day now?” Rannick had a flash of abject hatred and anger cross his features, but seemed to compose himself before speaking. Rannick was a mystery to Slyphania, having just turned up at the village three months prior, he seemed practically to hone straight in on her and recognise a dormant talent for magic. A scrawny balding man with rat like features, possibly in his fifties, he would only wear modest robes which gave him the presence of a mage or wizard. Slyphania often wondered to herself, was it her he was interested in, or the book? “Right then, enough for today” Rannick said turning away from Slyphania. At this sign of dismissal, Slyphania left the shack and started to walk back to the village, it was well after dark now and she no doubt would receive a lecture from her mother. Well, she was tired, frustrated and missing her book so therefore was in no mood for any arguments with her. Still, something within her, perhaps her inner child still feared a rebuke. Her pace quickened. ***** Glyndrel arrived back at Slyphanias, it was getting dark and he was sure she would have returned by now, to which he found that she hadn’t, but her mother was happy to have him wait in her room until she did, claiming she had never failed to come home after dark. Glyndrel went to her room, and even though knowing she wasn’t inside, still knocked, it was only the polite thing to do. When no answer came, he slowly opened the door. Inside the room was sparse, a bed, a table and dresser. On the table were various vials and scraps of this and that. The one thing that glared at him on the table however was the purple gold trimmed tome that she had found in the cave. It was just sitting there, innocently, yet Glyndrel eyed it as you would a deadly viper about to strike. Glyndrel circled around, keeping his distance, and all heat felt as though it had left his body. Glyndrel shivered. This was the thing that had taken his friend from him, which spawned an idea in Glyndrel’s mind. ***** It was well past dark when she finally opened her bedroom door. Glyndrel was there, sitting in the dark, on her bed, a thousand scenarios spilling through his imagination on how the scene would play out. Walking in, there was not much light from the rest of the dwelling and Glyndrel could her huffing of exasperation and then something unexplainable happened. With a flick, numerous candles, scattered around her room all flared to life. The sudden, and while not terribly bright, candle light caused Glyndrel ‘s eyes to squint and water, bringing a hand up to his eyes. Her eyes immediately went to Glyndrel, a flare of hostility in them that was unexpected and ugly, causing Glyndrel’s stomach to tighten. Before saying anything, her gaze swept immediately to her desk where the book had been laying. The book was not there, the space it had been in seemed gaping. “Where is it!? Where is my BOOK!?!?” Slyphania screamed at Glyndrel. Glyndrel expected this and gave her a quizzical look. “Book?” In a blink, Slyphania was across the room and had Glyndrel by the scruff of the tunic. Glyndrel didn’t resist. “I’m your friend, Slyph, I am here to help you. You need help” “what…I…need..is..my…BOOK!” Slyphania exclaimed slowly before yelling the last word. Slyphania then, with all her strength slapped Glyndrel across the face, causing him to drop to the floor. Slyphania stood over him, panting hard, looking about the room in a frantic haste before she started turning over things. Glyndrel brought his hand to his cheek, which stung profusely, as he stood. “Slyph, just stop. Stop. I will give you your book, but this reaction speaks volumes about the help you need. Don’t you remember the budding friendship we had started? That day in the market? Glyndrel pleaded with her, attempting to break through to the person he remembered those long months ago. Slyphania didn’t appear to be listening, continuing to search for the tome, tossing and turning her room. Glyndrel slowly walked to her bed and lifted her mattress, the tome lay beneath. “There”. Slyphania swept in and clutched the book up. “Now get out, GET OUT!” Slyphania screamed, and Glyndrel left, concerned looks from her parents as he walked out, giving them a despairing look. Glyndrel left the tree-house, looking back to Slyphania’s windows where the candlelight emanated from, flickering and allowing her the sight to continue to study the infernal book. A tear escaped, what was he going to do? ******* The next morning, Glyndrel had collected Alexyius and re-visited Slyphania’s tree-house. “I need to apologise for last night, Alex, it was a selfish test, but I had to do it. I am hoping, that she has calmed somewhat and will join us to break the fast. “Glyndrel said. “I hope so too, I don’t know her as well as you, but from what you told me, that was completely out of character for her.” Alexius agreed. Arriving at the treehouse, Glyndrel knocked. “Besides, it’s just a book, I mean really, what harm could it really do?” Glyndrel asked. Someone was at the door. “Oh, I hope she has calmed, I hate the thought of her being angry”. Slyphania’s mother opened the door and looked as though she had been crying. Cold, hard dread settled in the pit of Glyndrel’s stomach. “What’s happened?’ Glyndrel croaked. “She’s gone. She left late last night, with that Human she wouldn’t tell me where she was going, only north and to not worry”. Her mother started to cry again and slammed the door, leaving a stunned Glyndrel and curious Alexyius. Alexyius put a comforting hand on Glyndrel. “I’m so sorry, what are you going to do?” Glyndrel barely heard him, still reeling from the shock of the news. “I’ve got to go after her, I must” “Well, I’m not letting you go by yourself, I am of course going to have to come with you, but I have to say, you are taking it very hard, why is that?” Glyndrel slowly looked to Alexyius, tears streaming down. “Isn’t it obvious?” Alexyius gave Glyndrel a quizzical look. “I am in love with her.” TO BE CONTINUED>