[Starshield] SM: Healer's War, Chapter 10
- OOC: Man, it's been a while! I've been having trouble finding time to write lately. I finally decided to do something about it today. I woke up at 4:00 a.m., and couldn't get back to sleep until around 7:00 a.m. So, that gave me some time to concentrate. So, here's the next chapter in the story. Take care, everyone!-------------------------------------------------------------------------IC: The shadows themselves seemed to have come to life! A dark shape detached itself from the cavern wall, and a clawed hand buried itself into an unfortunate Morda's chest. There was no blood, but as Ewan watched in horrified fascination, the victim withered away to a dessicated corpse. The hand withdrew, and the victim collapsed to the floor, writhing spasmodically. Then, the corpse struggled to its feet, grasping a battleax, and moved to attack its former comrades!"What foul sorcery is this?" he muttered to himself. The sounds of battle he had heard were his own people fighting their fallen comrades! An unreasoning terror threatened to overwhelm him, and he fought it down with great difficulty. " 'Ware, Mordani!" he shouted at the top of his lungs. "Death and Madness stalk the Hall!"Having raised the alarm, Ewan charged into the eerie battle in an effort to save his fellow Warriors. A shadowy hand swept toward him, and he dodged the blow. The hand grazed his shoulder, and a numbing cold gripped him, followed by a surge of weakness. Ignoring it, he swung his battleax in a mighty blow, severing the hand of his opponent.An unearthly shriek of pain and anger filled the air, and Ewan winced involuntarily. The shadowy creatures could be fought, then. He took heart from that knowledge, and swung again. The blow missed as the shadow seemed to shrug away from his blade, but he managed to parry his opponent's next attack.The shadowy head tilted slightly to one side, issuing an order without words. From the corner of his eye, Ewan saw Erik Mac Conal and several other Mordani moving in his direction. "About time, lads!" he cried out jokingly. "I was beginning tae think that I would have tae fight these beasties all alone. What do ye think they are?"There was no reply, and Ewan realized his error too late. Erik and the others were under the control of the shadowy creatures. The flat of an ax connected with his skull, and the world exploded into pain and vivid colors. He fought to remain conscious, but in the end, he fell into darkness.* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *"We are very close to Aurania's Chalice," said Aryllon confidently. "The Goddess has made this known to me. See that tall peak due north from us? It is there that we'll find what we seek. Take heart, my friends!"Kallas' spirits were buoyed considerably at the prospect. Aryllon and Maryssa had said that the Chalice could hold the key to curing his family. His heart sang at the thought of the reunion that he dreamed of, and he felt giddy with excitement. "This will never do," he said to himself with a frown. "Focus, Sword-Dancer, focus. If you allow your emotions to cloud your judgment, you could grow careless. The success of this quest depends upon alertness and levelheadedness."Shaking his head, Kallas began the Dance, humming a Song of Focus while he moved through his accustomed routine. The rhythmic movements helped to clear his head, and he felt his emotions coming back under his control.A dark presence invaded his thoughts, cold and menacing. A soft voice spoke to him using Mindspeech. "You have been deceived, Tuathan. The Chalice cannot heal your family. My brother is only using you to serve his own selfish ends. Join me, and be reunited with your family. Only I can release them from the curse. Don't be a pawn in the Healer's little game. Take control of your own destiny."Kallas lurched and stumbled, losing the Focus he had managed to obtain. The usual surge of Power that followed a successful Dance did not come to him, and he felt weak and drained. The dark presence was an unbearable pressure upon his mind, and he struggled mightily to free himself from it. Using a portion of the Power he retained, he formed his thoughts into a dagger of light, thrusting at the unwanted presence within him."Get ... out ... of ... my ... head, Witch!" he thought, and the dark presence fled before the onslaught, laughing cruelly. Kallas sagged to the ground, clutching his head against a surge of pain. It passed after a few moments, and he returned to the others. His Power was substantially diminished, but there was no time to perform the Dance again. He would have to make do with the Power he had. Hopefully, it would be enough.* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *- To be continued
"May our relationship be a Harmonious one. May the Protector watch over you until we meet again."
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- Maryssa took in the scene with horror. Kallas was a good friend, and she couldn't allow him to die in such a senseless manner. There was only one way to save him. The time for keeping secrets was past. She leaped from her horse, transforming in the blink of an eye. As a swan, she sped toward the plummeting Tuathan, using her own body to break his fall. Her strength was not sufficient to bear them both aloft, nor were her webbed feet capable of grasping anything. Both tumbled in a heap, and the impact of the fall knocked all the breath from her lungs.Her mind was no longer able to maintain the concentration necessary to retain her swan form, and she reverted to her Human form. Brightly colored lights spun before her eyes, and pain wracked her body as she struggled to take a breath.The weight that had pinned her to the ground vanished, and a pair of hands turned her over, helped her to sit up, and wrapped a cloak around her nakedness. Then, Aryllon's voice spoke soothingly in her ear. "Easy, my love. The kitraal is gone, searching for easier prey. Kallas will be fine; you saved his life. You don't appear to have broken any bones. Other than a few scrapes and bruises, you're as lovely as ever. Breathe deeply and slowly, so your body can assimilate the oxygen it needs. There you go, my love."Gentle hands massaged her back, and Maryssa started to relax. The first few breaths were torture, but eventually, her breathing settled into a normal rhythm. Her body ached all over as Aryllon helped her to her feet, but she felt a sense of accomplishment. Kallas was safe, thanks to her quick thinking. The pain was worth it."We'll be going no further today," said Aryllon, raising his voice to be heard by everyone. "Maryssa and Kallas need to rest for a while. Aurania's Chalice can wait a little longer."Ewan Mac Niall, the Morda, was staring at her as if she were some sort of monster. He made a sign to ward off the Evil Eye, and stayed as far away from her as possible. So be it, then. What she had done had been necessary. Why should the opinion of a stranger matter to her? All those who really mattered accepted her for who she was. With that thought, she comforted herself.* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *The Dragon was temporarily sated, and Karylla revelled in the Power he gave her. Somewhere in the shadows, the six Draks awaited further orders. The Dark Priestess considered the creatures. She knew that only the Dragon kept them from consuming her own Life Essence, and she was wary in their presence. Should she anger her benefactor further, it was very likely that he would lift that prohibition. Therefore, she resolved that she would not fail him again.They were still no closer to finding a way into Finnan's castle. Focusing upon her hated twin brother, yet careful to keep her presence well hidden, Karylla listened in on his companions and him.That was interesting. One of the Cave Folk had survived the Draks' attack upon his people. Apparently, he knew how to reach the castle in the clouds. Probing his thoughts expertly, she soon had the answer to her dilemma. There was a portal hidden in the aerie of a giant eagle.Karylla smiled in triumph as she broke off contact. All she needed to do was bide her time, and the Chalice would be hers for the taking. She began making plans immediately. Let them take care of the difficult part. Then, she would step in and snatch victory from their grasp.The Dragon would be pleased. She and the Draks would follow Aryllon and his companions to the portal, and prepare a trap against their return. At last, she would achieve total victory over her twin, and Azman would walk Talira. Then, let the world beware!* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *- To be continued"May our relationship be a Harmonious one. May the Protector watch over you until we meet again."
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