From Under The Sea Part 5

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: The Imaginarium


I was facing writers block on where to take the story. This is the latest installment of "From Under The Sea" an ongoing collaboration J.R. Merrick and I are working on together. For the rest of
the stories go to my portfolio as well as J.R. Merrick's.



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Submitted: September 18, 2018

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Submitted: September 18, 2018

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Orin followed Selka over the portcullis and into the castle. The guards stood at attention as she passed, relaxing after she left. They found king Fergus in the war room along with his advisor Adair.

“Ah, you’re back,” said Adair, “What do you have to report?”

Selka took the lead, “You were right. We found a man from Morfir hiding in the Seerwood.”

Orin watched Adair’s face carefully.

“Really? A Morfir? What did he have to say?” Adair asked.

“He didn’t say anything. He didn’t have a chance,” Orin said stepping up, next to Selka. “He was too dangerous. Too aggressive to interrogate. I killed him.” Orin watched as Adair’s shoulders dropped a fraction of an inch in relief.

“Good, you have done Il’drea a great service,” king Fergus said.

“We still don’t know how he got into the kingdom but we have a few leads,” said Selka, “With your permission we would like to continue the investigation.”

King Fergus looked to Adair and when he did not protest he spoke, “You have my permission. You both have proven yourselves capable.”

Selka bowed to her father and Orin followed her lead.

“Now, both of you, go wash up for dinner. We will celebrate your victory,” said the king as he and Adair turned back to the large map of Il’drea spread out on the table.

Selka and Orin left the war room. They walked down the halls at a quick pace neither one talking. They needed to be alone and away from untrustworthy eyes and ears. Selka stopped outside a door.

“Where are we?” Orin asked.

“This is my room. It was closer than yours and I know for sure it is safe for us to talk,” she closed the door behind them and locked it.

Orin looked around the room. The room was full of ornate furniture carved from the same coral like wood he had seen in the Seerwood. Her large wardrobe was open displaying a variety of colored dresses. She had a large four poster bed with a trunk at the foot. Beautiful tapestries hung from the walls displaying different moments in Il’drean history. Orin stepped in front of a tapestry that caught his eye. The thread work displayed a man wearing strange cloth holding the orb that provided light to Il’drea.

“Orin, we haven’t got much time, we need to figure out our next move,” Selka said as she looked through her wardrobe picking out a dark red dress made from what Orin had been calling ‘water cloth.’

“I know. We need to talk about what that Morfir guy said, what was his name?” Orin said.

“Reiko, yes we need to find out if what he said about the Morfir wanting our orb is true or not. We won’t be able to hide him from Adair and my father forever,” she said folding her arms across her chest.

They didn’t talk for a minute, both thinking, Orin broke the silence first, “You’re sure no one else knows about the cave?”

“Yes, the cave is well hidden I’m sure only us and the Seer know where it is,” she said confidently.

“Well, why don’t we get cleaned up and think things over, after dinner we will meet back up here and tell each other our ideas,” said Orin.

“We can’t, we will need to meet somewhere else,” said Selka crossing her arms again to think.

“Why what’s wrong with here, you said it was safe,” said Orin looking around.

She looked at Orin with a playful smile, “Oh, It’s safe but somehow you forget that I am both a lady and a princess, it would not be proper for me to host a man in my bedchamber so late at night”

Orin felt his cheeks burn with embarrassment, “I… Your right…” he stuttered, lost for words.

She threw her head back and laughed loudly, “Don’t worry about it, think about a plan and we will discuss it later.” She walked Orin to the door; closing it behind him. The last thing Orin saw was her sweet smile as she closed the door. His heart fluttered for a second. He turned and headed to his room. He tried to clear Selka from his mind so he could focus on the issue at hand. Reiko had told them that someone from Il’drea, someone with in-depth knowledge of the orb, had told them everything about their orb. If the Morfir remove the orb from Il’drea the dome will collapse, destroying the selkie kingdom. Who but the wise man, Adair, would have so much knowledge about the orb? Orin asked himself. And why would Adair want to destroy Il’drea?

Orin got lost yet again looking for his room. Finally he found a guard and waved his hands around trying to convey he was lost. The guard understood and led him up to his room. Orin found a tub of hot scented water waiting for him and a stack of fresh cloths. He soaked in the hot water for a long time, clearing his mind trying to find a solution to their problem. He dressed in a long grey shirt and black pants, both made from water cloth. He swapped out the muddy sandals he had worn for a clean pair. He combed his hair and scrubbed his teeth with a cloth to clean them. He breathed into his hand and tried to smell his breath. He looked around the room. He was hoping to find peppermint plant, he liked to chew the leaves to freshen his breath. There was a knock at the door. Orin was surprised to find a servant not a guard, standing outside his door ready to escort him to dinner.

“Good evening,” he said. The man didn’t reply. Orin assumed he didn’t speak Gaelic. He tried English. Still nothing. Orin followed the man in silence. Focusing on every turn and hallway, determined to find his own way back after the meal.

They walked through the carved doors and into the dining hall, “Ka’har rir Orin.” Announced the servant.

Orin bowed and took the seat across from Selka. She smiled at him, the same smile that had been clouding his thoughts all evening.

The king stood, “Good evening ladies and gentlemen. I am glad all of you could attend the feast tonight.” He said looking at the men and women seated around the table. “We are here to celebrate a victory for Il’drea, not only did we will the battle, but my daughter Selka and my guest Orin, caught and killed the spy who was responsible for the attack.” Everyone at the table looked at Orin and Selka, murmuring and applauding. “Now without further ado, let’s eat.”

The servants brought out seven courses in total, by the end Orin thought he would explode. He loosened the drawstring in his pants giving his belly more room. Orin and Selka had been telling everyone the exciting tale of how they caught the spy. They seemed to enjoy the story, even though it was a complete lie. After the last course was taken away the king stood once more.

“I would like to thank everyone again for being here,” he looked at Adair, “Before I excuse you for the evening I have one last announcement. I am extending a promise, a guarantee that we will not live in fear of the Morfir any longer. I cannot go into detail, but I want to assure you Il’drea will be safe.”

The room applauded. Orin looked at Selka. Their eyes met, he could see the suspicion in her eyes.

“Orin, Selka,” the king said, “Don’t leave, I need to speak with the two of you.”

Orin rounded the table to stand beside Selka as the rest of the room talked and slowly filtered out of the dining hall, “I don’t like the sounds of this.” Orin said under his breath.

“I know. I don’t like it either,” said Selka turning to face him, “Follow me to the study in the west tower. We will discuss it further there.”

Selka and Orin walked to the head of the table where the king and Adair were talking.

Once the last guest left the hall and the door was shut the king spoke, “You two have proven yourselves, and I feel that it is important to keep you in the know. Even if my wise man disagrees,” the king looked to Adair whose face looked to be chiseled from stone, the grimace locked on his face.

“Adair has informed me about a way we can end this rivalry with the Morfir once and for all. I won’t lie, I don’t fully understand it myself, but Adair has assured me it will work,” Orin felt a cold sweat building up on the back of his neck, “I will get right to it, we will steal the Morfir’s orb.” He paused taking in Selka and Orin’s reactions, they did their best not to reveal any emotion.

Orin nodded, “I apologize, your highness, I’m still new to Il’drea, can you explain what that means?”

The king nodded, “Or course, I forgot you know even less than a child about our world. The orbs were given to us by the Seer. They create the dome over our kingdom and the Morfir kingdom. From what I have learned from Adair, is if we can take the orb from the Morfir kingdom their dome will collapse and our dome will double in size.”

“But what is stopping the Morfir from taking it back?” Asked Selka.

Adair spoke up, “The orbs are hold up the domes but only the Seer knows how to raise the dome after it collapses. In other words, once their dome collapses, it can never be raised again. The Seer is gone, he hasn’t visited us in many, many years.”

Selka wasn’t satisfied with that answer, “That doesn’t mean they won’t attack Il’drea. If there is only one dome doesn’t it make sense they will try to take this one from us?” Orin could hear the anger seeping into her voice.

King Fergus looked at Adair. Then back at Selka, “There is more to the plan. More to the power of the orbs. The orbs are different, made of contrasting energy. Adair assures me that if we combine the two orbs we will have the power to repel any attack from the Morfir.”

Orin’s stomach was rolling. His mind was racing, he took a breath then spoke keeping his voice steady, “Alight, what do you need from us?”

“We need to protect our orb and keep an eye out for more spies, I am giving you and Selka this task,” said the king, “I would rather assign you to the orb retrieval team but since you are not a selkie you couldn’t make the journey to Morfir,” the king spoke to Orin.

Orin nodded, “We won’t fail you your highness, and we will protect the orb and hunt down anymore leads on traitors.”

King Fergus smiled, “Good man, you two are dismissed.”

Orin and Selka left the hall not talking as they walked the corridors towards the west tower. Selka led Orin into a large room with painted windows. She was fuming. Pacing back and forth Orin watched her, not wanting to be the one who broke the silence. Not knowing what he could say anyway.

“Adair,” she said with loathing, “He is our traitor!”

Orin nodded. Her auburn hair whipped in the air ash she turned, “We need to stop him. We need to stop all of this.” Orin felt his skin prickle with goose bumps at the growl escaping Selka’s clenched teeth.

“We need a plan, we need to know everything there is about the orbs,” Orin said at last. “What do you know about the orbs?”

Selka shook her head, “I don’t know any more than you. My father told you everything there is to know.”

“Obviously Adair found some information on the orbs, how does he know so much?” asked Orin.

“He is a wise man, knowing things is his job. Only the Seer himself knows more about the orbs, and like Adair said, he hasn’t visited since before I was born,” Selka sat down in a large chair.

An idea came to Orin, “Is there a way to contact the Seer? Send him a signal? If we could find the Seer maybe he could help us stop all this,” Selka sat back, her arms resting on the arms of the chair, her fair skin in contrast to the red dress, and her legs crossed. She was thinking.

“There might be a way,” she stood up walking across the room still thinking, “The cave where Rieko is hiding. Somehow it’s linked to the Seer, whenever he would appear he emerged from the cave.” Selka smiled at him.

Orin’s heart started to race, he looked away realizing he had been staring at her, “Alright, it’s a plan, tomorrow we will explore the cave.”

She took Orin by the hand. His hands were clammy. Orin turned to look at Selka his eyes locked to hers, “I’m glad you’re here Orin. I don’t know if I could do this by myself.”

He squeezed her hand, “I’m glad too,” he was painfully aware of how close together they were. He reached up and moved a lock of her auburn hair out of her face and tucked it behind her ear.

She looked away, “We should get going. I want to get an early start in the morning.” Orin held onto her hand as she tried to walk away she paused looked back at him and he let her go.

“Alright, let’s meet in the stables tomorrow, just before sun up,” he said walking to the door. He held it open for her. She paused in the doorway turned to Orin and kissed him on the cheek before leaving. He watched as she disappeared down the dark castle corridor.

 

Orin was happy with himself. Finally he could find his way through the castle. It was the next morning; he was dressed and armed, ready for the day. He stood in the stable keeping a good distance from the kelpies. He thought he recognized Fable, Selka’s kelpie, but wasn’t sure. His eyes met the pale green ones of the water horse and it stomped its hoof, shaking its heavy mane. Orin saw a bucket of meat trimmings on the floor. With a sudden wave of courage he picked out a piece of tallow and stood in front of the kelpie he thought was Fable.

“I’m going to give this to you. Don’t bite me,” he said. He thought about holding out the meat flat on his hand like he would a regular horse but when he remembered the razor-like teeth he decided against it, “Let’s see if you can catch.” He tossed the scrap into the air above the kelpies head. Gracefully it swung its head and caught the piece of fat. He tossed the kelpie a few more pieces then reached out a tentative hand and pet the horse-like cheek.

“You ready to go?” Said Selka from the stable door, “I’ve got Fable saddled and ready to go.”

Orin looked at the door and back at the kelpie he was petting; he quickly jerked his hand back. His sudden movement scared the creature causing it to rear back on its hind legs.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to frighten you,” he tossed it another meat scrap.

“What are you doing?” Asked Selka.

“I thought this was Fable, I didn’t realize you had already taken her,” Orin said.

Selka laughed, “Did he actually let you pet him?”

“Yeah after a few treats,” Orin said pointing to the bucket.

“Ah, I see, we don’t usually give the older ones red meat. It tends to make them more aggressive,” she looked at the kelpie, “Looks like you got a new friend, his name is Loch. Put a saddle on him and let’s get going.”

Orin looked from Selka to the kelpie, “Saddle him?”

Selka laughed, “Fine.” She left and returned a minute later with the stable boy and a saddle. Once Loch was ready to go Orin gingerly sat himself down in the saddle.

“Don’t spur him too much until you get use to the way they ride,” Selka suggested as she led Fable out of the yard. Orin gripped the reigns and gently nudged Loch with his heel.

Orin and Selka rode across the landscape, Orin gripping Loch tightly with his legs. He still wasn’t used to how fast kelpies could run. They arrived at the Seerwood just as the light from the orb was beginning to brighten. They led their mounts around the tree line and down a small canyon. The cave was at the bottom of a rock cliff. The edge of the forest could be seen high above them. A labyrinth of tunnels led under the rock and under the Seerwood. They tied their kelpies to some rocks out of sight from the trail above. Orin followed Selka up to the cave mouth.

“Reiko?” she called into the cave. There was no reply.

“Reiko!” Orin said after a minute. They heard the shuffling of feet and clatter of falling rocks.

The large tan man emerged from the darkness at the end of the first room, “I thought you guys might have forgotten about me.” He was smiling.

Selka took off the satchel she wore over her shoulder, “We brought you some food.”

Reiko took the bag and started eating. He didn’t even look to see what he was eating, “Thanks. So, is there any news? Can I come out yet?”

Orin and Selka shared a look, “Sorry Reiko, not yet, things are looking worse than ever.” Said Selka. “My father just told us about his wise man’s new idea to steal Morfir’s orb and end our rivalry forever.”

Orin could see the blood drain from Reiko’s face, “That’s exactly what I told you the Morfir are trying to do. Someone told them about the orbs and the power they contain.”

“We know. It was Adair, the king’s wise man. We don’t know what his plans are that’s why we are here. For answers,” said Orin.

Reiko looked from Orin to Selka, “I don’t have any answers, I told you everything I know.”

“We know, were not here to talk to you, we are here to find the Seer.”

Reiko looked confused, “Why would the Seer be here? I haven’t seen anyone.”

“The Seer hasn’t visited Il’drea since before I was born,” Selka said.

“Really? We saw the Seer at the last harvest festival,” Reiko said.

Orin and Selka looked shocked, “You saw him? The Seer?” Said Selka.

“Yeah, he was a tall, older man. Maybe fourty, with hair cut real short, he was surprised to see us, but was happy,” Reiko said.

“Surprised? What do you mean?” asked Orin.

“It was just the look on his face, it looked like he wasn’t expecting to see anyone, or at least not be recognized by us.” Reiko shrugged, “He spoke for a long time with our elders and then left.”

Orin didn’t know what to make of this, “Maybe he doesn’t know about what is happening. Doesn’t know about the plans to steal each other’s orbs.”

“Or maybe he does, maybe he is the one who told Adair,” Selka’s voice was low and dark. She turned towards the cave and strode into the darkness.

Orin chased after her, “Selka wait.” He couldn’t see. Her eyes were better at seeing in the dark then his were, “Reiko you still have the light we gave you?”

Reiko produced a small orb. Slowly it went from dim to blinding. He held it up above Orin’s head.

They wound their way through the tunnels trying to follow the echoing sound of Selka’s footsteps. They caught up to her when the tunnel met a dead end. “Damn,” Selka swore pounding her fist on the rock. They had passed several other tunnels on their way; it would take time and patience to check them all without getting lost.

“Calm down, let’s work it out. If there is a way to find the Seer down here we will find it,” Orin said calmly. He removed a piece of chalk from his pocket, “I took this from the war room this morning. We can use it to mark the tunnels we have already checked.” He could see and hear how mad Selka was. Little growls punctuated evet heavy breath. Slowly she began to calm herself.

“Your right, I’m sorry. We can’t just stumble around down here, it would be easy to get lost,” She led the way back the way they came. Orin marked the tunnel with an ‘X’ he also marked the tunnel that led outside with an arrow.

“Next,” said Orin.

 

They searched for hours. Some of the tunnels were long others short. Orin was beginning to lose hope but Selka was as determined as ever.

“Which one should we go down next,” she said looking at a cluster of three tunnel openings.

Orin sighed, “I don’t know let’s just start on the right and move left.”

Selka took off towards the most right tunnel, “Wait,” said Reiko, “Look at this.”

He pointed down the center tunnel.  They followed the line of his finger and saw a symbol of an eye carved into the rock wall. Selka ran over to it.

“This is it. This is the mark of the Seer,” Selka smiled her beautiful smile at Reiko, “Good job.”

Orin felt a pang of jealousy, “Lucky break,” he mumbled.

He followed behind Selka down the tunnel. It seemed longer than anyone they had traveled yet, maybe it was the anticipation or because he was tired. Orin didn’t know.

“I can see the end,” Selka said. Orin’s heart was racing. It was a door. He stepped up holding his hand out. The surface was cold as ice and smooth. It’s metal, solid metal, Orin thought moving his hands across its surface. It was completely smooth. The only details on the door were the heavy riveted hinges and a threaded hole in the center. Orin drew his knife, hammering the door with the pummel.

“Hello?” Orin yelled, “Open up.” Silence. Nothing.

Selka stepped up banging on the door, “Please, we need the Seer, Il’drea and Morfir are in terrible danger!” She pounded both fists on the door, almost crying by the end. Orin sheathed his knife and held Selka as she fell to her knees, crying. Reiko drew his club hitting the door with all his might. The loud, solid sound, echoed through the cave. Selka had her face buried in Orin’s chest as she cried. There was a loud cracking noise. Followed by the whistling sound of air. Orin could see strands of Selka’s hair being pulled towards the doorway.

“Reiko, stop,” Orin was shaking Selka by the shoulder, “Selka look, I think its opening.”

The three of them covered their ears as the sound of metal scraping stone cut through the tunnel. Orin helped Selka to her feet positioning her between him and Reiko for protection. He drew his dagger and rapier. They backed up out of the way of the door as it opened.

Before they could do anything a young man with disheveled cloths and messy brown hair stepped into the doorway, “Thank god, you’re here, quickly I need your help.” He waved for them to follow him through the door way.

Orin looked at Selka then up at Reiko, then back at the now empty door way. The man reappeared, “Hurry, we haven’t much time. Orin looked at Selka again and when she nodded he followed the man.

Orin looked around in awe. He had never seen a place like this, even the ornate craftsmanship of the castle in Il’drea was nothing compared to the things in the large circular room they stepped into. There were moving images displayed on the wall above a desk, emitting a blue light. He looked at the images trying to make sense of them but they looked too strange. The young man was at the desk frantically moving his hands over the surface; which rippled like water at his touch. He looked back at Selka and Reiko who both stared open mouthed around the room.

“You, the big one, do me a favor and place that box on the platform there,” said the young man pointing from Reiko to a good sized box on the floor. Reiko looked at his companions before obeying.

“Center it please,” said the man. Reiko did.

The man touched the desk and looked back at the box. A beam of light shot out of the strange chandelier looking thing above the box, engulfing it in golden light. It began to sizzle, then crackle, and with a crash like thunder the box vanished. Selka jumped, grabbing Orin. She looked up at him cheeks red; she let go. Orin followed the man’s gaze to an image at the top right corner. The box that had just vanished was now in the image. He watched as a man opened the box and withdrew several items along with a note. In amazement the images below began to change. The fiery war like scene that was playing out before them calmed and faded.

The young man let out the breath he had been holding, “Thank you, this is only my second day and I didn’t think to pack the box after I placed it on the transporter.” Even though the man was speaking English, a language Orin understood, the meaning of his words were lost to him.

“So, what can I do for you?” Asked the man.

Orin looked at Selka then he spoke, “Are you the Seer?”

The man cocked his head to one side in thought, then realization hit him, “Yes! I am. I usually go by “The Watcher” I forgot that I named myself the Seer in your timeline.”

Again Orin understood nothing.

The man waved his hands in the air like he was wiping something away, “Forget about that. My real name is William. And you are?”

“My name is Orin, this is princess Selka, and he is Reiko,” Orin said gesturing to each in turn.

“Orin, princess Selka and Reiko. Alright, I don’t have long, what can I help you with?” Said William.

 

To be continued by J.R. Merrick


© Copyright 2018 JackCrawford. All rights reserved.

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