Chapter 18 - Lost
The blinding light started to recede in the small clearing. It was slowly losing its urgency after the sudden, violent crack of thunder that shook the valley announced its arrival. The surrounding forest still held a bated breath as the golden sphere that had suddenly appeared calmed somewhat. The nearest trees were bathed in the golden light, standing in sharp relief and casting shadows further back upon others. Small woodland creatures hid themselves away in fear, the attack of noise and light an affront to the surrounds. The distant sound of a river was drowned out by the almost mechanical whirring that accompanied the otherworldly arrival. Before long, the shell of light started growing transparent as the noise receded. Revealing two unconscious children, a girl straddling a boy with her hands wrapped around a curiosity. In the distance the cry of a wolf could be heard, just breaking over the din of the glowing sphere.
Within the sphere, the girl stirred. Tiffaniel shook her head slightly, immediately noting that the roaring had lowered its pitch as if it was withdrawing and that the sharp light was becoming bearable again. Her face was pressed against her brother’s chest. It was then that she realised she had passed out momentarily. Struggling to her feet, she found that her hands were still locked around the device. Tiffaniel looked around, the walls of the globe were becoming transparent as the whining continued to drop. She stared at her feet, noticing that they still stood on the floor of the cabin and that beyond the transparent walls all she could see was darkness and strange unfamiliar shapes.
She tried to remember what had happened immediately before she had lost consciousness. They were in the Captain’s cabin, she saw Sialin’s desperate face as she grabbed at Selera’s shoulder. The look in her sister’s eyes was strangely calm and mournful. She remembered screamed out, unable to even hear her own voice as it was lost to the terrible thrumming wail that continued to build around her and her brother. She saw Sialin mouthing the words, ‘I love you.’ as the deafening scream reached its crescendo. As the walls inside the golden globe became opaque, she looked down in panic at her hands as blinding light spilled from them. Everything was so overwhelming, she could not tell if she was screaming or not, just that her mouth was open, and her whole body was pressurised as if she were. The high pitched whirring sound had evolved into a steady roar, the sensation they were moving at speed, in the pit of her stomach.
She managed to look down at Groyven, his unconscious form between her feet, laying on the floor of the Captain’s cabin. She remembered herself laughing, the floor of the cabin was still underfoot. The thought that they were still on board came back to her. At that moment they were also strangely transparent, she could see the blinding glow of the device through her hands. Slow moving sparks floated around inside the globe shortly before a sharp thunderclap that accompanied a flash of light. Momentarily deaf and blind, her tears continued to fall. She vaguely remembered sinking to her knees, feeling Groyven’s thighs against her behind as her legs were unable to support her any longer. The only thought she had as she fell forwards onto her brother as everything went dark was, what had she done?
She glanced around, the transparent walls almost as clear as glass. She choked slightly as she made out trees, leaf litter and the mossy soil of the clearing, all things that were alien to her. The feeling of solid, motionless ground underfoot was immediately unnerving, when only bare moments earlier there was the constant rock and sway of a ship at sea. Not believing her eyes, she looked down, they were standing on a round cut out of the floor of the Captain’s cabin. Looking out at the forest, concern knotted her brow. It was night, there was no light amongst the trees. She looked directly up, through the glow she could just make out the pinpricks of stars in the night sky thought the trees.
‘What is this place?’ she whispered to herself.
Suddenly her hands were freed, she cupped the device in her hands as a sharp click came from the dragon retainers and the sun rotated, returning to its starting position with another defined click. She stared at it in the soft glow that bathed the immediate area. Feeling weak movement at her feet, Tiffaniel looked down and crouched over Groyven. He was still unresponsive. His black hair matted and gummy with blood above one ear. She remembered Sialin’s demonstration. Something small that she drank, she was gesturing to Groyven with desperate urgency. She started checking his clothes, his pockets and as the golden light dimmed in the clearing she became acutely aware that they would be very shortly without light. She shivered lightly and sneezed, steam rising from her breath. She continued to search Groyven’s clothes, the black amulet sliding out. Its two quietly glowing gems catching her eye. Tiffaniel looked at it, reached out and touched it reverently, holding it carefully in her hand.
‘Please great one, come to us. Your master has been hurt. Please, hear me, Hendosphyre. Please.’ she pleaded.
She watched the amulet, there was no response. She knew it was a desperate attempt; the only one able to summon him was Groyven. She slid it back into his clothes. The light, now no greater than the subtle glow of moonlight.
‘Ven? Please, wake up. Sialin showed me, but I…’ suddenly something caught her eye; a blue glow gleamed from his belt.
Her eyes narrowed as she carefully opened the pouch, blue light spilling out and over her hands. She smiled, quickly taking one ampule and looking at it carefully. The glass had a glowing blue liquid inside of it. Propping his head in her lap, she pulled the stopper and inserted the end of the ampule between his lips. After the last of it drained, he coughed and swallowed. Tiffaniel sat in the dark, holding her brother, the remaining golden glow having faded. She looked around the dark forest, shivering slightly in the cold. The sounds of nightlife slowly returning.
She tried her best to see, but was bereft of her elven sight as she as she was still too young. She pulled over the bag of things she had taken, feeling around inside of it. Finally giving up, she felt that Groyven’s breathing had become steady. In the dark, time seemed to stretch on for an eternity. She sat quietly, his head in her lap. He had lain still for a long time
‘What have I done, Ven?’ she said to herself to fill the silence, ‘She wasn’t dead. She came for us. I panicked, and now we are here, wherever here is.’ she looked around, her eyes straining in the dark, taking comfort in hearing her own voice amongst the trees.
‘We are in a forest, it is cold, I don’t recognise the stars above us. I can hear animals, and sounds of the night. There seems to be a little more light in the sky then when we arrived.’
She looked up through the gap in the trees at the night sky, ‘Maybe a moon has risen? I am not sure. I don’t know where we are. Lera said that it could send you to a parallel world, or a different dimension, or other places.’
She leaned back a little, feeling something hard and cold on the ground behind her. She picked it up, recognising it as the device that brought them here. She turned it over in her hand; a faint golden glow was visible inside the sun between the dragons.
As she looked at it she spoke to herself, ‘What if it can go two ways? If I use it again.’
She gently extracted herself from under Groyven and stood, ‘If I use it again, we should go right back.’
Standing over her brother, she depressed the safety latches and twisted the sun in the dragon retainer. A sharp click came from the device yet again as it was activated. Tiffaniel unexpectedly laughed as a gentle shimmer of golden light stole through the trees around them. She smiled through her tears as the glow built into a stark glare, casting deep shadows as the familiar whirring sound built. Suddenly a strange noise came from the device and her hands were freed, she looked down to see it resetting itself as the golden light rapidly receded. She did not know when she started to cry, just that tears were falling onto her hands. It had failed.
With her eyes closed, she sobbed quietly. She was surprised to feel a pair of hands in her own, carefully taking the device from her. She quickly blinked away her tears as she saw her brother inspecting it quickly before handing it back to her.
‘Tiff, I think this only goes one way.’ he said, his voice quiet.
She stepped forward and hugged him, wrapping her arms around him desperately.
‘Ven, I am so sorry. I, I thought the ship was going down. You fell and there was blood from your head everywhere. There was nowhere to hide, so I.’ she glanced away, ‘I.’
Groyven winced, blinking, ‘You used the dimensional key to escape to who knows where.’
He looked around the clearing dazedly in the faint golden light, ‘Are you injured, Tiff?’
She shook her head as she watched him waver on his feet.
‘Sialin showed me a blue vial, she pointed out what to do.’
He nodded slowly as he noticed the boards from the deck, ‘Thank you.’
She quickly steadied him and helped him sit.
He looked around, ‘Are we in a forest?’
‘I think so.’ she said as she glanced around.
He nodded slowly, wincing. The sensation that an angry dwarven blacksmith was inside his head with a large and heavy hammer seemed fitting as his head pounded relentlessly.
Covering his eyes with a hand, he spoke, ‘Tiff, while we have light, gather those boards and some sticks, I will light a fire. We need the heat and light.’
Tiffaniel nodded, quickly dragging the boards and piling them. As she hunted for some nearby sticks and branches he brought out another of Sialin’s vials and looked at it carefully. He reluctantly opened it, bringing it to his lips, letting three quarters of it spill into his mouth before re-stoppering it. It did not feel like liquid as it warmed his mouth. Instead it was a strange sensation; he could feel it, soft on his tongue. His eyes opened as he understood, each ampule was a condensed sample of Sialin’s ethereal fire mixed with purified water. It was faintly sweet and refreshing, leaving the scent of rosewater and the gentle, earthy tones of bracken. The warmth spread through his head, calming his thoughts and rejuvenating him, blunting the hammer strikes and placating the anger of the dwarven blacksmith. He looked at the ampule, the quarter remaining within it. He shook his head, scrutinising the small flame sitting atop of the water. He concentrated, making the small, contained flame flicker.
‘Groyven?’ said Tiffaniel in a small voice, her feet shuffling, ‘The light, it is gone.’
He looked around, noticing the darkness that blanketed them. Snapping his fingers, flame suddenly burst out from his hand, he opened it and a small flame settled and grew steady in his palm. In the flickering light he made out the wood that Tiffaniel had gathered, and with just a look a gentle flame started burning at its core. He extinguished his hand with barely a thought and looked at the fire. Sticks popping, their bark flaring as they caught alight. He withdrew his influence, letting the fire burn on its own, crackling as it drew in fresh air. Smoke rising above as the flames cast dancing shadows around the small hollow.
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I am J. M. Matheis and I would just like to say hello to all of those interested in becoming entwined in the worlds that I imagine.
I don’t have a dog or a cat, but I do have a laptop with an ailing keyboard.
My start with writing began with a younger version of myself looking in frustration at the last page of the latest book from my favorite author. It had ended with a decent hook and that infernal last page was an advertisement for the release date of their next title… At the end of the following year. A small tantrum and a few hours of nail-biting later I grabbed my nearest notebook (note book with paper pages, not a laptop computer being called a notebook in a wild attempt to reinvent the wheel) and put mechanical pencil to paper to feed my addiction.
Mid 2020 I returned to my beloved hobby of writing after a long hiatus. The tales in my head evolving and continuing as the characters lived their lives despite my lack of meaningful effort in putting pen to page. Since then it has been a steady stream of story, taking the living world in my mind and placing it on the page with the aim to satisfy myself and anyone else who decides to come along for the ride.