The Blue Crystal
Athryll shivered as the cold wind blew across the hills. A few birches and oaks still feathered the narrow ravines, or occupied in dwarf-clusters the hollow plains of the moor as they rode through. Now gradually they were disappearing; a wide country lay before them, swelling into bare hills of dark heath, intersected by deep gullies. These being the routes by which floods forced their course in wintertime while during summer they channeled the tiny rivulets that wound their way among heaps of rocks and gravel. Athryll felt happier than she had been for some time; the beauties around her had pushed away the thoughts of the past and worries of the future.
The fraeveers, casroth and snipe were calling out in the meadows from within their nests; she felt like singing along with them. Asoarb noticed the change and felt his spirits lifted; he felt more cheerful and began to hum merrily as he rode on. There were hawthorn bushes young and green, celandines and primroses, along the austere little hills. All this added a pleasing aroma to the air. Soon the trees ceased at the edge of a steep gorge. Pastel shades of green and blue could be seen everywhere, to their right tinges of red and brown were moving without rhyme as the wind danced through the grass, yellow, orange, violet too, all dancing as if to music.
It had been another hour and the sun now rose toward the center of a colourless cloudless sky, the winds seemed to cease and all became still, there was no draught of air now to whisper amongst the branches, the music of nature’s orchestra had ceased.
From the rocky crag looking north, the view was foreboding, turbulent the sea that day, dark the gathering clouds. The rustle of the wind through the short bushes surrounding them sounded like wailings of the banshee heralding the darkness gathering to the north. The pale blossoms starred the distant glades and dells, clinging to tree roots and climbing the numerous crannies of stone rock that overshadowed the trees. Huge hedges of yew and holly could be seen below the looming tower. Ancient majestic oaks stretched their arms over the broken walls of a once surrounding fortification, giving a melancholy secluded appearance to the place. They climbed a torturous gully filled with sharp rocky edges, here they moved with redoubled caution as the gully ended abruptly and a lengthy slender ledge wound downward into the valley.
Athryll, Ameliah, Asoarb and their escort of RoHirags had reached the strange desolate looking valley. It was the only way for them to go, as to travel around would take them on a much traversed route and most likely into the path of patrols of soldiers.
“I don’t like this place,” Asoarb said shaking his head.
“Neither do I,” agreed Captain TurAbb.
“We have no choice in the matter,” Ameliah responded, “We must press onward.”
Down the sloping path into the mouth of the valley, the small group rode their eyes nervously searching the hillside. It was a still quiet place, and the hillside was covered in darkness and a sense of strange forebodings.
Then out of the darkened shadows came a hoarse cry, “Araguth sukula duh!”
Valhath the Necromancer emerged from the shadows and stood upon high, his hands spread forth as he recited strange and long forgotten words.
“Artalath, skrae sabat due malketh!” Valhath shouted forth from the hilltop, his eyes gleaming with malice.
Strange unnatural rumblings shook the earth and the ground moved as if in waves
“Dothers psalthim retch,” his guttural voce commanded in the ancient tongue of the dragons.
Then the sky darkened and cold winds spread across the valley. Scratching and gurgling noises accompanied by the clanking of metal and the stomping of feet followed the strange words. As the earth opened and armed skeletal warriors emerged.
Athryll and the others looked on in horror, what obscene evil was at work here that the dead came forth to fight.
“The warriors of the lost, the souls of the damned,” responded TurAbb the captain of the RoHirags, “it is an evil place we have happened upon.”
“Evil or not captain we have the power of the gods at our disposal, and such filth shall flee before it. My friends rise up and advance, onward upward and ever on,” cried out Athryll.
Ameliah and TurAbb turned to her in amazement, this young Rethmell girl had suddenly taken control, yet one look at her face and its heavenly glow assured them it was best to obey.
“The hour is now, the time is ripe, so we move forward into battle, a new day has burst forth, a new life has given birth, a new day has begun, and now the page turns forever past and never to return. Darkness spreads its power is great, it seems that even the dead shall fight. But we have at our disposal a greater force than these, we have the Blue Crystal!” Athryll held forth a glowing blue crystal in her left hand before lowering it once more into her pouch.
“The Crystal,” cried out Asoarb, “the Crystal, the Crystal!”
A loud chorus of cries bursts forth from the RoHirags. Then the army of skeletons advanced steadily with no sound other than the clanking of metal and creaking of bones. The RoHirags swords ready sat upon their arevis. Ameliah and Athryll fitted arrows to their bows and took aim and Captain Asoarb took his position at the front with Captain TurAbb.
“Now, fire,” Captain TurAbb commanded and Athryll and Ameliah let forth volley after volley of arrows, yet they were to no avail, the dead moved onwards arrows protruding like bristles from their fleshless bodies.
Then Captain TurAbb signaled his men and Captain Asoarb and the RoHirags charged down to meet the army of skeletons. In a loud clash, the arevi and riders collided with the strange army sending many dashed in pieces and scattered to the earth. Yet, in horror, they watched as they but reassembled themselves as if nothing had happened.
Bravely they fought on showing no sign of fear or thought of flight. Yet, one by one, they fell while Valhath laughed in ghoulish glee.
“Victory is mine; your fighting is useless, for the dead cannot die!”
Then it was that a great booming voice ripped through the air and all eyes spun upward to where a huge rider sat upon his dorb upon the hillside.
“Have at ya, ya bunch of dried up bones, I’ll feed ya all to my dog!”
The rider Stormbringer by name came riding into the fray his great sword lopping the skeletons into pieces as he rode.
“By the griffin’s beard It reminds me of the Valley of Skeletons again. Why, a man has tae fight a bunch of dried up old bones these days? Ha, what has become of the days of glory, the great and valorous Knights of the Light ehh? These days a man has tae fight dead dried up bones and particles of dust and such. Why, I fought dragons, griffins, warriors galore, sorcerers and sorceresses but bones! Bah, they say changes are good, they bring forth new life, ehh what good do they bring I ask, what good. Give me the old days of glory and honor and where a man could be a man!”
Again and again he slashed and smashed the skeleton army and every time the broken bones came back together and reformed into a fighting warrior.
“What evil trickery is this?” yelled Stormbringer, “can’t the vile things realize they're dead and stay so?”
Strong as he was Stormbringer soon sensed he could not win this fight for soon he would tire. Asoarb and the last remaining RoHirags fought their way to his side and stood beside him protecting the women who were at the end of the valley.
Athryll feeling it was time now withdrew the blue crystal from her pouch and held it high in the air. Then it was that Athryll felt the power of blue energy come upon her and filled her and burst within exploding into rays of blue light and power.
“Back thou filth from below, back I say,” screamed Athryll as the power of the Blue Crystal moved her.
“For your time of judgment is at hand. You have no place here amongst the living, back I say to the grave, back to the dust and darkness.”
Athryll then lifted her hands forth, her arms stretched forth straight, her fingers spread out, as tiny bolts like unto lightning shot forth from her fingertips. Asoarb and Ameliah watched in amazement as they saw the skeletons disintegrate into dust and disappear in a gust of wind.
Stormbringer sat on his dorb and shook his head in amazement. “By the griffin, what need have we of warriors these days, by the beard of old CasKell did ye see that lass in action? Why we can all go to bed and let the women fight. If only you had been with us in the Valley of Skeletons.”
Valhath stunned at this turn in events, was filled with hate, lifted his great staff outward he pointed it at Athryll muttering more ancient runes.
“Hmm, so what have we here then, a young Rethmell sorceress it seems, but one not so used to the energy loss from the casting of spells I see.”
Athryll was sweating and dizzy from the energy that had rushed through her.
“Sdana tooba, rufms falthl durab,” muttered Valhath whirling his hands anticlockwise.
Whirling dust rose from the valley floor, turning into figures like unto mortals, driving forth toward Athryll, howling, moaning fingers opened to latch upon her. Athryll stood unafraid her eye alight with fire.
“Begone I say, for the gods hath decreed this day to me as victory!”
Again, she stretched forth her hands and blue light shot forth everywhere and the dust devils broke into billions of particles and fell once more to the ground. Stormbringer though had not been idle and meanwhile he raced his mount upward toward Valhath fearing not the sorcerer.
Valhath turned to see the great giant bearing down on him sword swinging.
“Join thy ancestors,” roared Stormbringer as he lopped at Valhath.
Valhath was not easily defeated in one unbelievable move of sorceries he leapt clear over Stormbringer and his mount landing behind him and turning malevolently toward him.
“Bah trickery like that will not save you,” cried Stormbringer turning his dorb to face him again.
“Fool, you would dare to pit your puny strength against me!” taunted Valhath as he raised his staff to conjure forth more evils. Below, Athryll waiting no longer for the next attack looked up at Valhath and cried aloud.
“Creature of evil, vile wraith your time has come, released you were for a season now I bind you! Aruthel marbeth cartel. Do strum elea fardeth.”
Asoarb and the others looked at Athryll for this was not her voice that spoke through her. Though Asoarb knew what she meant, for he knew of the wraiths. Ameliah and the remaining RoHirags did not but stood rooted to the ground in awe.
Valhath stopped and turned to her forgetting Stormbringer for he sensed something more powerful from her.
“Asalem Rabeth! Ferlem Narten zenel!” Athryll seemed to glow with a pulsating halo of blue energy surrounding her, emanating from the crystal in her hand.
Then the sky cleared and a blue light shone forth from the crystal into the heavens bursting in a powerful explosion and raining back down in rays of pure violet light that engulfed Valhath encasing him in a cone of blue pulsating fire.
“Back creature of the dead to thy eternal prison and wait the day of thy judgment. Asgorem rameth baslen vorem,” cried Athryll, her eyes blazing with purple fire and her hair whirling around like snakes.
“No, no, noo!” he screamed contorting as if in agony clasping his head in his hands. The heavens darkened, the wind blew in spirals around them all.
So bright was the fire surrounding Valhath that they hid their faces from its blinding power. A dark spot appeared far up in the heavens as if some door had been opened, then the cone of blue fire spun around faster and faster and whirled skyward like some tornado spiraling upward bringing Valhath screaming towards the dark spot.
When they looked again, Valhath was gone and Athryll stood victorious.
Stormbringer looked down at the frail looking figure, which had so recently been a vehicle of great power and destruction.
“Now Athryll,” said Stormbringer as he recognized her, “if that doesn’t prove that energy of the Blue Crystal is more powerful than these sorcerers of darkness then I don’t believe anyone could be convinced.”
Stormbringer removed his great helmet and knelt down in respect. Asoarb and the others did likewise.
“Don’t kneel to me Stormbringer,” responded Athryll as she recognized him, “I was but a channel of the gods who chose to win this victory through such as I.”
“True lass,” Stormbringer answered, “true indeed, but, ah, it was your yieldedness and yer humility and faith that did it. Without that, why then the power of the Blue Crystal could not have channeled through you. So my little one I an old and seasoned warrior salute that in ye lass, for not many people that walk this world could give of their self in such a way as you have.”
“This is Stormbringer, son of Ravenhawk,” announced Athryll to the others as they gathered round to stare at this aged giant who honored her.
A muttering went through all present for was there not songs and poems and legends regarding this great warrior who fought in the great wars. Here was a legend come to life before them and kneeling in honor to a young Rethmell maid.