To my honey bee ;), who is only halfway through both her adventure…and this adventure…
Chapter 19: Graduation Day (Part 1)
Katja was a beautiful woman.
No history, no family, no story to speak of other than the fact that she was nothing more than a mystic created by Delilah and turned by a ruthless magician against Augustus during his journey and foray into an unknown underwater mess. It should be noted, however, that Katja was quite the scapegoat in everyone else’s problem; a pawn to be played by a mind so evil that hell itself spat him back onto the Earth. Of course, all in an effort to stop Augustus from achieving his ultimate goal which is to reach Delilah.
Katja, however, had no play in anyone’s table. A simple dice roll that, if turned correctly, could make riches for whoever dared turn her…and make poor whoever relied on her. This was never her intnetion nor the intention of who created her. Though perhaps it’s better to start from the beginning.
"Wise Mage, I come to you in a time of desperation and I’m afraid I’ve not much time…"
She looked around perilously, desperately…nervously toward the door that was held together by a few simple sticks of thin wood which could’ve been set ablaze by the sun itself. They lazily sat against a support beam which opened gaps in between, allowing anyone who passed by an easy vision into the darkened shack. The only protection she had from anyone recognizing her was the fact that given the bright sun outside, looking inside would only yield darkness. She could breathe easily until Victor’s horsemen would come riding through town for their daily provision and pass by the huge gaping hole in the door, wondering what the darkness will this time reveal.
"I need a favor…" she rushed a whisper from between her soft lips.
"Speeeeaaaakkk careeeffullyyy princessss…." the voice slithered along the air as that of an old woman or a man, it was honestly very difficult to tell. Though she was more surprised at the fact that it knew who she was.
She shook her head and figured this was the business…this was how things worked, one doesn’t ask for favors before revealing who one is unintentionally. The Mage had done its homework and made sure who was riding along…no use in hiding who she was, the Mage knew 2 days prior.
"Whattt youu ask…is nothinngg easy to sayy…beee carefffulll whatt youu wisshh forrrr", the Mage slurred its words and spoke in quick, hushed tones sitting further back in the dark from where her adobe stove and wooden fire on the bottom lit and cooked something awful, terrible to smell. It hid with a hooded robe, stashed away in the darkness as if night first existed in this part of the shack and only came out when the sun set. The woman’s softer features appeared as she moved forward a little and showed her face from a stray beam of sun striking through the thinly slitted walls.
"I need a mystic…a protector…a guardian to be created and used for someone that I can’t keep close to…I’m not even sure where he is but, surely…I ask wise Mage that you add the vision of the Gods so in that way this mystic is to find him."
She stares with a look that says this is her last option…and begs with her panting soft breath that she not be sent away. She could feel the Mage watching her carefully however.
"…Princessss…beware, I am to make this mystic for you but…there is onee cautionaryy tallee that must be told…"
The woman leaned in a little closer and sat on a wooden stool near the stove, unafraid but curious.
"Mystics are influentiall…and leaveee themselves openn tooo being turnedd…if I am to make this for you, bewareee of the evil that may surround itt…for whomever it becomes attached too, it’ll surely try to enddd his or her lifeee if giveeennn a pushh in the wronnngg directionn…"
The woman sat and thought about the situation for a little while, rubbing her chin and staring at the fire for a few minutes while it danced on her soft face. Her deep brown eyes focused deeply on the decision at hand, thinking out all the variables and possibilities. On one hand, she didn’t want the person that was to be protected, to get hurt in any way…but on the other, without a guide this particular person would end up lost to the dark and obscurity, never to be found on the same route again. Victor’s horse guards and foot soldiers passed the shack with such a loud, bombastic entrance it startles her and rushes her heart and mind.
"Do it…I assign you wise Mage to create this mystic and inform me when it is prepared, understood?"
The Mage stood up suddenly, defiantly…walking toward the fire and tossing the cup of whatever it was drinking aside; the pottery shattering as it hit the dirt layered floor and rest in pieces as it walked toward the fire and stepped up onto the altar. In a sweeping move, the Mage raised its arms and stretched its fingers sky high, its skin black as night with white dots to signify the stars; constellations drawn with thin white lines connecting all over its skin. Cracking knuckles and bringing its hands down, the Mage deftly dropped a powdery substance into the pot that smelled terrible, causing a great deal of smoke. Its hands swirled about and caught the smoke as if it were manipulating water in mid air, shaping it softly as if responding to the touch of a tender woman then violently batting it out of place, destroying the shape it had started to build and starting over again. This time…success. A shape of something created and suspended in time and space, the woman felt as if the Sun were slowly blotting out from the sky as if night had suddenly washed over and a gentle wind began to push. Dust and pieces of small pottery skittered across the floor as the winds raised, howling now through the small slits in the wall and door empowering the shape to move and slowly become something…humanly…vaguely feminine.
The Mage stepped off the alter and raised its sleeves demonstrating complex tattoos that covered it from fingers to shoulder, forming a shape as he got to his knees, bent his arms up from the elbow and put his forearms together shaping a triangle tattoo with a vine traced around the edges…an unusual symbol forming in the middle. Speaking in a much deeper, masculine voice the Mage struggled on his kness and sounded almost as if he were pushing a mountain.
"Into the light…I command thee…", his arms shook and his whole body stiffened. "…into the…light!…I command…thee!!"
The smoke in front of the princess now reached out and grabbed her shoulders, turning her around and revealing her face of horror as she batted away the thin hands which now held her. It tried to jerk her and move her, toss her against the wall as the Mage suddenly turned around and grabbed the wrists of the form that had become alive, wrestling it down into the dirt floor and speaking in a language unknown to the world for thousands of years. The figure struggled, the dirt moved, the wind howled.
Its hooded robe blew off and revealed a black man with white tattoos patterned all over his face, his eyes big and drawn into focus upon the figure wriggling on the floor now resembling more of a person than what it did before. The Mage yelled, scolded the figure in his own language and the figure calmed down and stopped wriggling. Apparently getting through to it, the Mage looked deep into the eyes that had now formed on the figure and not moved…his voice was deep and sounded wise as he spoke to the woman.
"You must not let her get near that which is known as evil…"
"What is it?" the woman asked.
He sighed deeply and closed his eyes, drawing in a deep breath as the pain from his heart revealed through these next few words.
"She’s my love…
I am cursed princess…
She’s my love and my mystic, she only listens to my commands because at one point a mystic was assigned to me and I fell in love with her. She turned…she became deceptive by another’s influence but I love her so much that I can’t find the heart to leave her between the winds so I live with her forever and call upon her when I need her…”
The Mage, speaking clearly and starkly, looked back toward the woman and told her directly.
"Please…it is I who is begging you princess…do not let my beloved fall to the winds."
The woman nodded and kept her eyes focused on the magic that was smoke which turned into a beautiful brunette figure, eyes dark and deep just like the princess’s and skin as smooth as sandstone. The man rose and allowed the figure to rise with him, he leaned into her ear and whispered something. His silent voice tinged with a romantic tone as the figure’s body began to writhe in pleasure, her hands running over her skin as she smiled and whispered something foreign…her eyes closed and her tongue softly licking her lips. She bent her head back toward the Mage and laid a passionate kiss on his lips as while she parted them softly with her tongue, his hands wrapped around her waist, buckling something golden around her which stiffened her body and made her moan…not in pleasure…but in pain.
She winced and almost fell to her knees as her naked body became clothed and her pleasured face shown with sadness.
"What have you done to me…" she whispered passionately, longingly…heartbreakingly…to the Mage.
"My love…if I don’t lock this golden belt and pendant around your waist, you will be lost to me forever, it’s the only thing that keeps you in human form…please understand…I don’t want to lose you, I love you…"
The Mage passionately held his beloved and kissed her as the pain seemingly washed off her face for she was simply happy that he was still there to call on her. He backed his lips a little bit from her and stared into her eyes deeply, caressing her face with his tattooed hand…whispering something once more against her lips as she smiled…nodded…and turned toward the princess, now with fear but amazement stuck in her eyes. The figure walked toward her as the Mage dangled something.
"My love…you are not to forget this…"
A pair of golden, layered gloves with a ruby implanted upon each palm was slipped onto the figures arms…they glowed beautifully and gave her powers beyond what any human could understand.
"Princess…my mystic is now your mystic…take care of her and bring her back please, do not allow anyone to remove this golden armor or gloves…for if they are to fall into the wrong hands, that would certainly spell the end of us all."
The princess nodded her head and kept her eyes on the figure.
"What’s her name…", the princess asked.
"Katja…", the Mage answered.
The horse’s hooves pounded down hard on the sand, its tempo not slowing from the previous romp through the market and quick escape which was made from the other horsemen. Another quad set of hooves beat not so far behind from this first set, keeping pace and not losing an inch of distance between them. Quite a scene, however, as the Sun lowered its face and touched the mountains with a gentle kiss, being, at once, kind to those who lived on this world and lowering the heat as it too was preparing for darkness. The two men on horseback raced toward the temple before the stars caught up with them and the moon washed the land in milk white light.
They reached the entrance and dismounted, heaving of breath and falling to their knees…one of the horsemen going it a step further and falling to his back, laying on the desert sand with his eyes up to the sky watching the purple and pinks of dusk arrive and play with the horizon. He breathed heavily.
"Good God…please tell me we don’t have to do that again, I don’t think I can last."
The other man, on his knees next to his own horse, looked over as the beasts themslves found a minute for rest and slowly collapsed onto the sand; heaving and chomping at their bits they whinnied and snorted through their nostrils, hot air skating across the sand.
"No…no, I think they’ve had their fill for the day, we do fit quite the quota for people like them so surely…they’re planning their next move allowing us our rest as it were…since a game like this is played as an exact science…’let them think they’re resting while we horsemen plan their demise’…no, no more for today but tomorrow will probably be more than we can handle."
The man on his knees puts a hand to his forehead to wipe the sweat and stare in the opposite direction of the sun, sand caked on his lips and cheeks. He squinted to make sure there wasn’t anyone else hard on their heels. It was quite the relief to know that even though their deaths are assured the next day, they have the rest of this evening to rest…and so…he too laid on his back next to his horse, gazing at the sky as his partner did just the same thing.
['Speak friend and enter'…now what in the hell did he mean by that? Sucks that I was stuck in a freaking potato sack the whole time but…I mean, if Silas really meant to drag my ass way out here for both of our sakes, then…what that man said has to be a new step or…a new something, somewhere near where we are now.
Incredible I can’t really tell just what exactly all of that meant.
I honestly don’t care…I just want to be with her. I want to get to her and tell her that all this time she’s the one that has fueled me, tell her…that I love her because indeed I do…I won’t ever let her down.
Amazing…that face and those eyes, I still remember the forest back home and when I first kissed her in front of that fire.
Ha…and George…oh George…I miss that beast. *sigh*
A dream…that’s been taken from me.
"I’m right here", she said.
"Oh…wow…there are you are…", he pulled a book from the shelf named Delilah, and opened its first few pages.
Her image stayed once again as the background faded this time to the front of the temple and a giant door that guarded its entrance.
"You have to get through here…" she said, turning away from Augustus and walking toward the door while running her hand along the inscription printed on it.
"Speak friend and enter…it’s a riddle" she looked at Augustus and smiled that beautiful smile, running back to him quickly and hugging him tightly before she kissed his lips and whispered against them…
Augustus’ eyes spread quickly, opening suddenly as he found himself simply a few minutes departed from when he laid on the sand and fell asleep, to this moment that he springs up from the ground and turns toward the entrance of the temple, hurried and excited…finally the next step doesn’t have to be planned and their deaths won’t have to be imminent. He ran quickly over to the door, kicking sand up as it landed on a passed out Silas, waking him too as he wipes his eyes and curses.
"Ahh hell Augustus!!" he screamed as he watched the other run to the door, "…what did you find?", his voice suddenly calmed by the discovery.
Augustus, still panting with breath running his hands over the inscriptions, the same ones that were in his dream with Delilah as he thought about the riddle that their foreign language displayed to all those who stood at this door.
"Speak friend and enter…Silas!", Silas not far behind as he limps toward Augustus still brushing sand from his face, "Silas!! The Draconian version of ‘friend’…what is it?!"
Silas looked on in slight confusion as he thought for a minute and spoke: “…Melrrog…”
The door, as it had lain sealed for perhaps a century, unstuck itself from the foundation and made a loud cracking noise, pulling back as chains that were above and below grinded against rusted, sandy gears that drove the 4-foot thick sandstone slab aside and into the wall…opening the entrance to a temple that hadn’t been stepped in for that same century.
"Thank you Delilah…" Augustus whispered with a smile as he was the first venturer into the temple, watching as the torches on the wall remained lit and the floors were clean, lined with stone and not a footstep shaped into their surface.
"This place…Augustus…this place hasn’t seen a human being inside of it for a hundred years, maybe more…", Augustus remained speechless, continuing on as he listened for Silas to continue the history lesson, "…the locals only come in here once a century to pray to their goddesses for blessings of a new century and protection. There were once witches that ruled this land and destroyed whatever the locals attempted to do…their crops were done for, the land cursed to never grow anything again…", Silas’ hand drawn upon the walls as he takes a torch and follows Augustus closely down the long corridor, taking note that no torches or light was beyond the opening at the end.
Entering a darker part of the temple at the end of the hallway, Silas held high the torch…and heard the slab close behind them violently…quickly…their horses and equipment outside as all the rest of the torches blew out from the harsh wind done by the slab. They both looked back down the darkened hallway as both now remained in an entirely pitch black room, their only light the torch held by Silas and absolute silence surrounding them.
The light given by the fire only providing a small radius of 5 feet around for the both of them to see the floor. They stuck close together and feared the worst.
"Keep close Augustus, back to back…take my knife…", Silas handed Augustus an impressive blade that could cut rock with one deft move, "Whatever you do, don’t step on a stone with a hole in the middle…these are traps laid by the witches that now inhabit this temple."
Augustus listened and held tightly onto the blade, his eyes slowly adjusting to the dark and seeing the configuration of this temple. Given, however, the echos of their voices and the inability to see any close by walls…this temple was large and hollow. The dark gave no hints, it was a terribly smart player in this game.
Silas turned his torch toward Augustus’ direction as both looked and focused hard.
"Silas…" he whispered.
And the torch blew out.
[To be continued ;)]