The Nolavia Curse Part Thirty

 

 

Anaira turned to face me as I walked towards her. Her eyes glowed like heated metal in the moonlight. She shrugged off her cape and it slipped onto the grass. Her white hair and skin were luminescent against the black of her dress. Her lips were strawberry red and parted and she looked breathtakingly beautiful. I had never noticed before how striking she was.

 

“Well, well Esereht is this a party of one? Is everyone hiding in the shadows? How dreadfully disappointing for you. You always fancied yourself a leader, didn’t you?” Anaira smiled.

 

“It is just me.” I said.

 

“Oh dear and I was so looking forward to a grand finale. And you noticed I brought all my friends? They will not be satisfied with such a paltry offering. Whether they like it or not Esereht, everyone in Nolavia is invited to the party.” She said.

 

“Anaira it is me and only me with whom you have a fight. Let it be.” My voice was steady and I felt no fear whatsoever. If this was to be my last hour I was ready. My shield was in place and Davalast; my dear Davalast was holding it firmly. I could feel the sensation of his energy around me.

 

“Esereht you are mistaken.” She spat. “I want the whole of Nolavia to quake with what I have in store for them. Not one man, woman or child will remain standing when I have completed my mission.” She stalked towards me until I could smell her breath. The scent of lemon zest and juniper was so distinctive memories licked at the edges of my mind and I shivered involuntarily.

 

“Oh dear, have I scared you?” She smiled again.

 

“Not at all. You first have to get past me Anaira.” She laughed a cold and mirthless chuckle.

 

“Oh Esereht you do make me laugh. I have three hundred Snilboglins, fifty dragons, eighty snoobabs and two hundred Vulcanas aimed at you at this very moment. I could crush you with a wave of my hand. Where is the sport in that?” She said.

 

“It has never been about sport for you Anaira. It is always about winning. I want nothing from you but it seems you want everything from me. I will not fight you. So you have to do what you will.” Her eyes darkened to gunmetal grey and she twisted my hair in her fingers. She drew my head to her and kissed me on the lips. I was so taken aback I froze. She took my bottom lip between her teeth and bit hard. I pulled away with a cry and put my hand up to my mouth. It was sticky with blood. Davalast must have kissed the coating away.

 

“You are so sweet Esereht but you see we are doomed you and I. In another world or another time, who knows we could have had something special. But you chose not to.” Regret flickered in her eyes for a millisecond and they became steely once more. “Your sacrifice will do no good, my dear. They will all die. I will personally see to it.” She stepped back and flicked her wrist.

 

The earth beneath my feet trembled as Vulcanas galloped towards me. I braced myself but when they hit all thought left me as I was flung up into the air. I hovered for what felt like minutes before plunging to the ground. I lay winded and gasping hearing their thudding feet once more. Three times they flung me into the air and three times I landed with a thud. The ground stilled as they snorted their foul breath on my face. My own breathing was rasping and my chest screamed. Flicking my hand weakly my lungs cleared and air rushed in unimpeded. I stumbled upright and shook myself like a dog.

 

Anaira gaped at me slack jawed. Fear flickered in her eyes and I felt overwhelming sadness that she was so tormented with hurt and anger.

 

“I Am Love Anaira. You cannot hurt me and I have no wish to hurt you.” I said. She shrieked and ran at me stopping inches from my face. Her beautiful features were twisted with rage. I did not avert my eyes from hers. She broke our gaze and stepped back flicking her wrist again.

 

The whoosh of dragon wings cut the air and panic made my legs heavy. ‘I Am Love, I Am Love’ I chanted under my breath. Massive talons seized my shoulders and I was lifted high into the sky. ‘I Am Love, I Am Love!” I shouted louder as the talons opened and I plummeted. I flicked my wrist and soared with less effort than usual. Flying has always been complicated for me but now I flew strongly weaving away from the dragon’s talons. I landed unharmed onto my feet on the grass.

 

A second later I was gasping for breath again as snoobabs hung on every inch of me snapping their sharp teeth into my flesh. Although they had not broken through the coating yet the pain was unbearable. My clothes ripped as I swung around and around faster and faster but I could not dislodge these fearsome creatures. My eyes rolled back in my head and my vision blurred. I tried to call out to Davalast but darkness was blotting out all sense of me.

 

To be continued…

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Drop me a Line 42! The Nolavia Curse Part Twenty-Nine

 

The underground hall fell eerily quiet. I raised my head from Davalast’s chest and gazed around at the people of Nolavia. Most looked discomfited and unhappy. A few like Loracas and Babarab stood tight lipped and belligerent with crossed arms. Tolenal’s face sagged and he staggered to his chair clutching his chest. At the same time chairs started to shake and clods of soil fell from the earth covering. I rushed over to Tolenal.

“Are you alright?”

“I have pains in my chest. Nothing to worry about, it’s probably indigestion. What’s happening?” Said Tolenal grimacing. The soil continued to fall. Something was happening above and we needed to get out of here.

“Don’t panic! Go back to your homes and stay there. The magical coating over your houses will withstand these tremors. We need to find out what’s happening. Go quickly but be aware and considerate of others.” I said. People ran in all directions screaming in panic. “Stop running!” I yelled and flicked my hand to force their legs to a walk. Yelps of surprise and frustration soon died as they all filed into the tunnels and made their way back.

Davalast and I helped Tolenal to his feet. Clumps of soil pelted down on our heads. As we entered the tunnel part of the hall caved in. Davalast and I closed it immediately not wanting our passageways to be compromised but they was useless to us now. We would have to fill in all the channels otherwise they could endanger us further. All our work of the last few days had come to naught and we were more divided than ever.

We entered our living room past midnight. Tolenal was feeling better and we felt it was safe to leave him. From his bedroom window we had seen the vulcanas storming in by the hundreds. Vulcanas only know how to run full tilt at something. Possibly the stupidest animals still alive they have formidable strength and numerous sharp horns. There is no getting up again once they’ve run over you. I was bored with Anaira’s strategy and frankly disappointed by her lack of imagination. When the snoobabs arrived the battle would begin. They were by far the most cunning of Anaira’s beasts. Perhaps it was urban legend but people swore that snoobabs could open doors and had been seen peering in fridges for something good to eat.

I was drained and exhausted but sleep was elusive. It was around three that I heard a strange noise. I crept out of bed and edged to the window careful to keep out of sight. Anaira was here. It was her cloak flapping in the wind that I had heard because the white unicorn tethered to the jungle gym next door was quiet. His pearlescent horn shimmered in the moonlight. I was surprised at his involvement. Unicorns are very discerning and will seldom assist in causes they don’t support. How had Anaira convinced this creature to join her? Then I saw the magical manacles around his hooves and the resistance in his demeanour. The dark shapes surrounding Anaira were most certainly snoobabs.

I shook Davalast awake.

“It’s time.” I said.

“Anaira’s here?” He was instantly awake. I nodded.

“Snoobabs in tow. Also a reluctant Unicorn.” I said. Davalast raised his eyebrows and shifted to the window.

“What now?” He said turning to me.

“I need to recoat myself. I’m not sure if it’s still effective.” I said shrugging off my nightdress. It cascaded to the floor. My hair hung freely down my back and Davalast came up behind me.

“I love the way your hair shimmers. Don’t put it up. It might distract Anaira.” Davalast put his fingers into my hair muttering the coating spell. I shivered as his hands slowly moved down my body.” When we both were thoroughly recoated I turned back to him.

“I’m going out there.” I said.

“Then I am too.” He said his eyes gleaming in the dark.

“Not yet. Promise me that you will give me some time. Help me with my shield but don’t show yourself yet. Promise me?” I seized his hands in mine.

“I don’t like this Esereht but I promise. If I think you are in danger I’m coming out.”

“No I will call out to you if I think I’m in danger. Promise me you will wait for my call? Promise!” I insisted. He nodded hugging me hard. I pulled away reluctantly and walked to the door.

 

To be continued…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drop me a line 41! The Nolavia Curse Part Twenty-Eight

 

I found this episode hard to write because it is the default for many governments and politicians and I wish so much it wasn’t. As Christmas approaches I ask everyone to hear the call of the I Am Presence in yourselves and create a New World. It has to start with ourselves or it will never happen.

 

Tolenal stood self-consciously and cleared his throat. “Well you’ve put me a bit on the spot Esereht, I thought you had a workable plan. Very well, I propose that we conjure weapons, powerful weapons and…”

“I have a basement full of stuff that may be useful.” Babarab called from the back. “I’ve made a prototype of a robot that fires a round of thirty six bullets per minute. I’ve only got one though and it will take ages to make more.” He said his voice regretful. “But I’ve got semi automatic rifles and some explosives that could do some serious damage…”

I gaped at him in horror. Davalast grabbed my hand and I squeezed his. I could not look at him. My head was spinning and I felt queasy. Loracas jumped up again.

“There is loads of stuff on the Webnet. Once we understand it we can produce hundreds of weapons magically. Floretina, you’ve done some experiments on bacteria and viruses that produce some devastating effects, haven’t you? We could use those against Anaira and her brutes.” He said his voice rising in excitement.

“Yes I have but I don’t think we should…” Floretina said. She was an unassuming witch who tended to keep away from people. She preferred tinkering in her laboratory creating potions for healing the sick. What was she doing creating biological weapons? Had the world gone mad? She looked flushed and uncomfortable.

“It’s perfect! We will have Anaira running for the hills or better yet dead on the ground. The only way to destroy this witch is to end her. Once and for always.” Loracas was flushed and Maya gawked at him as though she didn’t know him. I needed to get away from here. This was worse than I ever imagined. Tarem and his wife Etelette stood up. Yroyve buried his head in her neck and whimpered.

“No! Enough! Can you hear yourselves? Next you will be proposing that we create a bomb that will blow us all to smithereens. Have you all lost your minds?” Said Tarem.

“You would blow our children up? There are other mothers here. You think to teach our children this…this…destruction? Well I say no. I don’t want to live like this. I don’t want my children to live like this.” Said Etelette bursting into tears.

“Love, love, love.” Chanted Yroyve and he raised his tousled blonde head from her chest. I stood and felt my way to the front. Tears obscured my sight and my heart felt as though it would surely break. I did not know my people anymore.

“I cannot let you do this. It would be better to face Anaira and her creatures alone than to destroy everything I believe in. Stay here in this bunker. Hide from yourselves. Believe if you will that Anaira is your enemy. It is clear to me by destroying Anaira we will only unleash the monster that lurks within us all. I would rather die than live like this.” I groped to the side and Davalast pulled me into his arms. I buried my head in his chest.

“Are you all quite mad?” Said Davalast holding me tightly. “Do you not hear what Esereht is saying? Kill Anaira and another will take her place. Like the games for children hit one gopher on the head and two appear, hit two then four appear and so on. This violence has to stop. Do you want to tear Nolavia in two? Because I for one will not allow Esereht to face Anaira alone.”

 

To be continued…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drop me a line 30! The Nolavia Curse Part Seventeen.

 

It was a long time before anyone stirred. We were reeling from the unspeakable horror of it all. I stared at the place under the tree where Golagand had disappeared. The flowers decorated the area like a funeral wreath with no hint of malevolence in their beauty.

“What is this place?” Whispered Davalast.

“We should get out of here now while we still have a chance.” Said Tolenal. Every nerve in my body was in agreement. I wanted to hightail it down the mountain as fast as anyone but I knew that I could not abandon my mission.

“I understand if anyone wants to leave now. I will continue to search for the plant. I don’t know if I will find it or whether I will make it out of here alive but I will not be able to live with myself if I don’t try.” I said. I was shaking so hard my cloak fluttered and my voice was unsteady. I prayed that Davalast would not leave. I didn’t know whether I could bear it if Davalast left.

“I’m staying with Esereht.” Davalast said and I breathed again.

“Me too.” Said Maya. In the end everyone decided to stay. Ruatnac and the other Nirabuses stood further away. They did not look well. Their ears drooped alarmingly and I could hear their rasping breathing from here.

“Would you agree to be coated with magic?” I said walking up to them.

“Esereht that is not possible. We are beings that belong under the sea. Already we are struggling to breathe having been out of the water so long. A magical coating will hurt us further.” Ruatnac said.

“Then you must go back. It is not a debate, Ruatnac.” I said to still his protests. “We have lost two of you already. I will not forgive myself if more of you succumb. Please go now.” The Nirabuses nodded unhappily and trudged to the edge of the mountain. Ruatnac looked back and I waved. He flapped his ears once and vanished.

I looked down blinking tears away. Having the Nirabuses on hand had made me feel safer. I would miss them.

“How do we find this plant and what happens if it’s another friggin’ carnivore?” Maya said shrugging off her cape and scratching her head. “These darn things make my head itch.” Her short hair stood in spikes, as always looking as though she’d just got out of bed. I hugged her hard. “Hey what’s that for kiddo?” She grinned.

“I’m just happy you’re here Maya.” I said.

“It reminds me of the scrapes we got in as kids. Wouldn’t miss it for the world. Could have done without the man-eating flora but good or bad, I’m there for you kiddo.”

“Hey enough of the kiddo, I’m only a few months younger than you remember.” I said. “I don’t know what I’m looking for, to be honest. Anaira’s files were so obscure.”

“Esereht!” Davalast called. We hurried over to him. “There’s some kind of path going around this sharp bend. It’s a bit overgrown but definitely a path.” The track was tangled with weeds and overgrowth but Davalast was right, it seemed to meander up a jagged peak. We walked cautiously up the narrow path one behind the other using magic to clear it of weeds. I saw with surprise it was intricately patterned with mosaic tiles. Some of the tiles seemed to tell a story. I retraced my steps and studied the first panel. A knight in full armour on a white horse had lodged his sword through a jade dragon. I noticed it was the knight who was bleeding and had pain etched onto his face not the impaled dragon.

The second tile was about five hundred yards from the first and had the knight and dragon intertwined in a weird dance or embrace. The third a similar distance away had the knight on the ground. He looked dead and the dragon was flying out from his chest. It was all very odd. And then I saw it. On the knight’s armour was a picture, small and seemingly insignificant, of a flower. It looked like an orchid of sorts. Could orchids grow in this cold climate? I went back to study the first two tiles again and the insignia on the armour was the same.

“I think it’s an orchid.” I said looking up at the concerned faces. The fourth tile showed the dragon in the knight’s armour riding the white horse, which was now a unicorn. The insignia was the same. What could it all mean?

“It was a horse not a unicorn in the other tiles, wasn’t it?” I was too tired to retrace my steps again.

“Yes.” Said Tolenal emphatically. We walked on but there were no more tiles of dragons or knights. A star tetrahedron adorned the last tile. It was decorated with clear stones possibly crystals but could be diamonds they way they glittered.

“Isn’t it strange that there has been no snow on this path although snow is still falling?” Davalast said. I looked up and he was right. This was so odd. I had no idea what it all meant.

 

To be continued…

 

Drop me a line 26! The Nolavia Curse Part Thirteen.

 

I have taken liberties with this sentence sent by Lynne and pushed it further into the episode. It is strange but as this story has developed it is becoming more about the whole rather than the sum of its parts. I realise that time honoured themes are being highlighted as once again good tries to triumph over evil. Esereht has to accept herself and her propensity for love before she can lead others.

 The Nolavia Curse Part Thirteen

 

I touched Davalast on the cheek and his hand covered mine. He leant over and kissed me fleetingly on the lips. I tugged him closer kissing him in a confusion of violence and tenderness that left us both panting.

“So you forgive me Esereht?” Davalast said smiling.

“Whoa, it’s not going to be that easy but you’re now on probation. Although it’s difficult for me to think of anything but us Anaira is no doubt licking her wounds and plotting her next move. I’m tired of being on the offensive. It’s time to take control of the situation.  Are you with me, Davalast?” I said in a voice that was lighter than I felt. I was apprehensive about taking on Anaira so soon after the last time but we needed to be decisive and give her no time to regroup.

“Esereht, I am at your service now and forever. I have learnt a lot in the past seventy-five years not having you to distract me. I am a far more powerful wizard than before. Nothing would give me more satisfaction than helping defeat Anaira.” His face was grim. I nodded and took his hand.

“Come let’s find Assennav and get to work.”

Assennav grinned when she saw us holding hands and I glowered at her. The last thing I needed was any teenage wisecracks. I’d been alone for so long I wasn’t sure how to behave. In some ways I felt younger and more inexperienced than my sixteen-year-old assistant.

“Davalast how did you befriend a dragon? I thought that was impossible?” I said to divert attention.

“Well I’m not sure about other dragons but Anaira’s are disillusioned. She keeps them hungry and tethered by magical rope. I just removed the tether and shared my dinner with one. He declared he owed me and helped me escape.” Davalast said.

“Why didn’t you teleport?” Assennav said and I felt a pang of jealousy again. Why had it take so long for him to leave Anaira’s castle?

“Anaira placed a magical ring around me which prevented any travel. It was a bit like the leashes on the dragons but one I couldn’t break. It fell away the instant she was trapped in the Rack. I bet she wished she had taken all my magic but she was arrogant and enjoyed sparring with me.”

“Do you think we could do that with all her dragons? Lure them into the forest, feed and free them. Wait a minute, how do they go so far away from the castle if they’re tethered?” I couldn’t keep the suspicion out of my voice and Davalast flushed.

“The leashes are to make sure they come back. She makes it as long or as short as she needs. But don’t take my word for it. Let’s go to the forest and you can ask them yourself.” He said bitterly.

“I’m sorry.” I said touching his arm. He didn’t shrug me off but he didn’t take my hand either. We were both hyper sensitive with each other.

“When are we going? I can’t wait to truss that witch up like a Thanksgiving turkey.” Assennav smirked. How quickly the young forget their traumas I thought feeling old suddenly.

“I think we will need everyone to defeat Anaira. Not just the witches and wizards.” I said. Davalast and Assennav looked at each other questioningly and I swear Assennav rolled her eyes. I was too weary to comment. “Call the town crier. Tell everyone to meet at the Town Hall.” I said the weight of the world settling on my shoulders.

Davalast walked over to me putting his arms around my waist and drawing me closer. He smelt of sweat and smoke. His body was taut and muscular against mine as I leant against his chest breathing him back into my soul. We stood, our fingers interlaced as people poured tired and filthy into the town square.

“Please sit everyone. This is Davalast, a wizard I knew many years ago. He’s a good man and will help us to finally bring Anaira to her knees.” People clapped and cheered and Davalast bowed solemnly. “I’ve asked you to be here today because Nolavia belongs to you all. We talk of magical and non-magical people but that is not really true. Everyone has some magic in them.” Confused murmurings erupted from the crowd.

“For some of us magic is so overt that we cannot ignore it and for others it is subtle but there is no question magic resides in us all. The time has come to free it. It starts when you can look at the person sitting next to you and see it in them. When you look and see magic in your neighbour’s eyes then you can believe that magic exists in you too.” I regarded the eager crowd of people that I’d known for years and felt enormous love for them all.

“We need every witch and wizard to join us on our mission to Sednasi but we also need those left behind to hold a powerful magical canopy in place to protect Nolavia. We will teach everyone who is willing to learn. You may not believe it but you are all capable of mastering this spell. It will comfort us to know Nolavia is safe. It will take energy and commitment from you and we cannot predict how long our mission will last. So please think about it before you agree. Whoever is prepared to help please stand to one side? ” Everyone stood up, young and old and cheered.

“Break up into groups of twenty. One witch or wizard per group and keep it simple. No long-winded explanations. Tonight we will take shifts of two hours each to keep the canopy in place. This will give you all enough time to practice. Tomorrow the witches and wizards will leave for Sednasi but you, the people of Nolavia will keep the canopy in place for the entire time we are away. Are you agreed?” The roar of agreement was deafening and gratifying. With this much support Anaira would have a struggle bringing these people under her power.

I looked around the Town Square and saw Davalast staring at me. He smiled and I felt myself lift off the ground. I blushed. This must be what happens when a witch is swept off her feet. A wizard too it seems as Davalast floated over to me. I was hardly aware of the clapping and stomping of feet as our lips met.

 

To be continued…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drop me a line 25! The Nolavia Curse Part Twelve.

 

 

I did not use a given sentence today as this development seemed inevitable. It was time to show Esereht not as some form of ‘White Knight’ but as a woman with all the usual vulnerabilities.

 

The Nolavia Curse Part Twelve

“Esereht?” A voice croaked hesitantly. I looked up into a smoky but recognisable face. It was a face that brought back such anguish I could not bear to look at it. I scrambled up from the wet grass and strode away, tears pouring down my cheeks. Seeing him unleashed the tension of the past few weeks together with sadness I had never given myself permission to feel.

Davalast had been my joy and my love. I wriggled behind the hedgerows of the smouldering Town Hall and sobbed.

“Esereht?” I wiped my eyes.

“Go away Davalast. We have nothing to say.”

“Maybe you don’t but I have so much I need to say to you. Please Esereht come out from the bush.”

“No. I have no interest in what you have to say. Not anymore.” He pushed the bushes aside and sat down next to me his knees pressed against the prickly branches.

“I don’t fit as well as you.” He said. “This always was your favourite place when you were upset. I never could work out the attraction.”

“Why Davalast, why?” I said my eyes streaming once more. I wiped the tears away angrily.

“Esereht you must know I was enchanted by Anaira?” He said reaching for me. All the unexpressed hurts of years burst out in a voice full of bitterness.

“No! That’s too easy Davalast. Everyone knows a wizard cannot be enchanted. You went because you wanted her. You wanted Anaira otherwise she would have had no power over you.” I stood up. Davalast stood too and grabbed hold of my arm.

“Esereht, I don’t know how she did it. I’ve been ashamed for so many years. That’s why I never approached you after… But it’s been too long, a lifetime of years that we could have been together. I came back to Nolavia looking for you. They said you’d gone to Sednasi. I was about to follow you there when Anaira flew in on her dragon and set fires everywhere.” I looked into his beautiful face and saw with surprise his greying hair and the lines around his eyes. Wizards were so much more lax with their appearance than witches but I rather liked this more mature, weathered look.

“I can never trust you again. Anaira is my enemy. You know she murdered my mother. She’s tried to kill me too – many times. You were mine but she took you from me. How will I know that you won’t go to her if she calls? I can never trust you again Davalast.” I shook his hand from my arm and scrambled from behind the bush.

“Esereht, Anaira is my enemy too. She would kill me sooner than look at me. I showed her many years ago that she couldn’t control me.” He came out from the bush and stood in front of me. We stared into each other’s eyes.

“How did she manage in the first place?” I said again. Until I could understand I would never be able to forgive him. He lowered his eyes and spoke softly. I strained to hear him.

“I admit I was intrigued by her. I knew she had killed your mother but she seemed so damaged and misunderstood.” He grimaced. “She played me. I know she did but I never loved her, you must believe me. I have only ever loved you Esereht. I still do.” I sat down on the grass. It was still damp but the rain had stopped. The air was still thick with smoke and a headache was starting behind my eyes. He sat down next to me.

“That’s probably how she managed to enchant me. I was so angry with myself that I believed she needed my sympathy and support when she was pure evil. By the time the fog of her magic lifted I was a prisoner in her castle. For months I practiced resisting her power until I had created a shield that didn’t slip no matter what she did. That was when she realised I was not her ally. She had that disgusting goblin of hers follow me around the castle like a putrid smell. Eventually I befriended one of her dragons and escaped.” Davalast took my hand and this time I did not pull away. “I couldn’t leave until I’d…don’t you remember, Esereht?” He looked intently into my eyes and I did remember.

“The wizard that saved me from Anaira and her torture? That was you?” I said aghast. The wizard had worn a cloak pulled over his eyes and left as soon as the hands of The Rack restrained Anaira.

“Yes. When I found out you were the mysterious prisoner I plotted a way to save you. I was too ashamed to reveal myself and left as soon as I knew you were safe. Time has shown me that shame cannot keep me from you. Not anymore. Esereht please forgive me? I cannot live anymore believing that what I did was unforgivable. Please say you forgive me?”

 

 

To be continued….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drop me a line 24! The Nolavia curse Part Eleven

Shaun sent this line and it is really misleading because this is only the beginning. This sentence helped me to see that everything is perception. We are saved from being overwhelmed when we see only the edges of the next moment.

 

The tide was turning. “At last,” I said breathlessly. I knelt next to Assennav putting my arm around her shoulders. The girl stirred and then threw her arms around me sobbing into my neck. I held her trying to control my own tears. I was trembling and exhausted.

“Oh, Esereht it was awful. I was so frightened.” She said.

“I know we tried to get here as soon as we could. You are safe now.” I said stroking her back. She pulled away suddenly and her voice was sharp and accusing.

“You told me to wait in the cave! It’s your fault. All of it was your fault!” She shouted.

“Now wait a minute, young lady…” I spluttered. Assennav burst into tears again. We were both still traumatised by the events of the last few weeks. Yelling insults at each other would be unhelpful. I stood up and stretched my aching back. Sezloc was still whimpering on the ground like a wounded animal. I walked over to him and he recoiled.

“Hold out your hand, Sezloc.” I said

“No you will hurt me again.” He spoke through clenched teeth.

“I only hurt you because you wanted to hurt me, do you remember?” He said nothing but held out the bloody stump. I covered the jagged flesh with my hand for a few minutes and when I took it away the wound was clean and healed.

“Where’s my hand? Why didn’t you give me a new hand?” Sezloc complained.

“Because you will just use it to do more harm. Let Anaira give you a new hand.” I said walking away.

“Anaira is dead to me.” He said mournfully. “She doesn’t care about me. She promised me you but in the end she left me here to die, with nothing.” Assennav screamed and pointed to scores of dragons crouched on the wall surrounding the castle looking like hungry gargoyles.

“Call off your watchdogs.” I said to Sezloc.

“I have no authority with them.” He said moving nervously to the door. “They only obey Anaira. I suggest we go inside. We will be safe there.” I cursed under my breath. Assennav was still too hurt and I was too exhausted to teleport. Anaira remained a threat and although I yeaned to be safely home I hadn’t forgotten our real mission. I could not abandon Nolavia and the only way was to get the sacred plant on the top of Sednasi Mountain.

The three of us entered the castle. Anaira’s presence was everywhere. I hadn’t realised before how much the portraits looked like her and the eyes vigilantly followed our movements.

I wandered the castle aimlessly while Assennav slept. I thought of Ruatnac and sat in a large ornately carved armchair and closed my eyes.

“Ruatnac where are you?” For moments I heard nothing and then I heard the Nirabus’s voice amongst angry crackling and spitting.

“Esereht, we are in trouble, Nolavia is in trouble! Anaira and her dragons have started fires all over the Island. We are surrounded and…”

“Ruatnac…Ruatnac, can you hear me?” I shouted leaping from the armchair. I should have guessed Anaira wouldn’t be wasting her time licking her wounds. I have to get back to Nolavia. I woke Assennav who looked up disorientated. Her face was ravaged and so much older than before. “I have to go back to Nolavia. Anaira has started fires all over the place. Are you strong enough to teleport or should you stay here?” I said.

“Don’t leave me, Esereht, please I can’t…” She started to cry again.

“Come hold my hand and concentrate on Nolavia.” I said muttering the charm that would teleport us back home. We were already disappearing when Sezloc grabbed my arm.

I sprawled awkwardly onto the green grass around my little house and Assennav grunted as she landed hard on her bottom next to me. Sezloc, the uninvited stowaway landed in the fishpond with a splash.

Acrid black smoke hung in the sky and it was difficult to see. The whole world seemed to be burning. I held out my hand and muttered a spell to clear the air. Now the flames dancing out of windows and doors were clear for all to see.

“Assennav, we need to put out the flames. It’s the reverse spell of making a fire, do you remember?”

“Yes I remember.” She said breathlessly and we ran to the nearest building. People were scattering about in confused circles and the sound of screaming was intermingled with the crackles and sizzles of the fire. We worked rapidly. Assennav was a good student and she dampened just as many flames as I. I summoned all my strength to beckon clouds together and calling Assennav to help we sent a combined flash of energy into the middle of them. With a rumble of thunder the clouds released their bounty of water on Nolavia.

Assennav and I lay down in the village park as the rain poured down all around us. We didn’t have the energy to shield ourselves and she reached her hand out to me. I took it and started to laugh. We had to sit up for fear we would drown from all the water pouring down our throats as we laughed and cried helplessly.

 

 

To be continued….