Sunday, August 30, 2015

Trek Warrior - The Chronicles of Katlil - Part III





 © S. Bradley Stoner


-III-

Beguiler Beguiled - The Fall of the Wynan Gate

Katlil gathered his small kit, picked up his spear and took the first step into the unknown of the Wynan Passage. A rhyme coursed through his mind as he strode forward.

Beware the road to the gate,
only fools will meet their fate.
The guard, a witch so vile and cruel,
will summon up her ghastly ghouls,
or the innocent she will soon beguile,
toying with you as she would a child.
It is the secret of Wynan you seek
and it’s not prey for the timid or weak.
Steel your soul, control your dread,
lest you falter and end up dead.
Heed the eagle in the sky,
do not trust what strikes your eye,
for what you see are only lies
that will remain ‘til the old witch dies.
And when your hand the witch has slain
find the place where Beguiler’s lain
and when she plies you with her charms,
flowing hair and slender arms,
with strength of mind confuse her thralls,
and take her, then the gate will fall.

Katlil knew not where the rhyme came from. This was not the province of the Trek Warrior, but to ignore it was doom. It kept repeating as he made his way into the depths of the canyon, never quite at the surface, never impeding his perception, never obscuring the visions from the Sky Eagle, but always there.

At the old hag’s lair, the witch hissed, “Coming... he is coming.” She bent over the bones, studied them, and began her chant, raising the dead ancestors of the Wynan gate, but even she could feel their power ebbing. They could not long hold off the warrior. She dribbled the blood of a goat, mixed it with the blood of a Gardon in the dirt and called forth the demon of the gate. When the warrior drew near, she would set it upon him. Perhaps with the help of the ancestral ghouls, that would end him, or at least turn him aside.

All of this, the Beguiler watched, her training incomplete, but her power growing. In her was the brimming confidence of the young. The wind that marked the coming of the ghouls whipped her hairs and she stood tall and proud and beautiful. If the old witch did not conquer the warrior, she would. She felt the excitement course through her, hardening the nipples on her burgeoning breasts. If the old witch failed, she would keep the warrior from the gate. She could see events unfold in her mind... the dance that would entrance the warrior... the potion that would render him helpless... the dagger that would end the peril to Wynan.

The old witch glanced up at her as the demon awoke. “You dream of victory, child... but your pride clouds your vision. Clear your mind... this is no ordinary intruder.”

The Beguiler feigned obeisance, but in her mind she was certain the old witch’s time was done. She would learn the few remaining spells from the ancient scrolls... practice them until she had mastered them and then, if the intruder failed to end the witch’s reign, she would end it as the old witch had done to the one who came before her.

“Think as you will, child, I am still more powerful than you... you have much yet to learn. Do not contemplate destroying the knowledge only I can give you. Not everything is in the spell scrolls. You will know when you are strong enough, as will I. When that time comes, I will go quietly. Until then, mind your place and learn well.”

And then the old witch did something she would come to regret... she cast a limitation spell on the novitiate to protect herself from the ambition of the young one. Almost instantly, the Beguiler felt the surge of confidence leave her and was overcome with a sense of confusion. The old witch smiled. She would lift the spell and resume the training once she had dealt with the warrior.

Katlil stiffened slightly as he felt the chill that preceeded the coming of the ghouls. It gave him warning and he reached into the bag that hung from his gird, withdrew a small packet, and emptied its contents of herbs and dust into his hand. When the ghouls came into view, he opened his hand and blew the dust forcefully toward the apparitions. Their screams of rage diminished into wails of anguish as their ethereal forms dissapated and sank into the earth beneath. Katlil shifted the spear to his throwing arm and slipped the buckler from his back and secured it to his arm.It was small and light, but, made of ancient God metal, it was strong beyond belief. Through the Sky Eagle’s eyes, he saw the demon pacing yards from the witch’s lair... the venom dripping from its fangs, fire shooting from its nostrils. He would have but a single opportunity.

As he rounded the final tortuous bend in the chasm, he found himself face to face with the beast, its vermillion eyes boring deep into his soul. His mind clouded the piercing stare, his arm balanced the spear perfectly and, when the demon sprang, he unleashed the projectile with a powerful, fluid motion. The sharp metal blade found its mark... the soft spot under the right leg of the beast, and it bored mercilessly through the twin hearts, bursting them. The demon fell heavily and no sooner had it touched the ground than it began to convulse and shrivel, its body oozing away as quickly as life left it. Katlil retrieved the spear, sidestepped the stain where the demon had fallen and strode toward the lair.

The old witch rose from where she squatted, took a small poisoned dagger from within her shabby cloak, and rushed at the warrior, hoping to catch him off balance as she had others. She was remarkably fast, but Katlil was a Trek Warrior, and the best among his class. He easily turned the dagger with his buckler, spinning the old hag around, and silenced her forever with a single slashing stroke of his spear blade across her throat. The only sound that came to warn the Beguiler was a slight gurgle as life oozed from the old witch.

Now the rhyme grew in intensity until if fairly thundered in his brain. He plunged into the entrance of the cave... the witch’s lair... deeper and deeper until he came to the broad chamber of the Beguiler. For a brief moment, he was enchanted by the beauty of the virginal form that languished on the sleeping pillows, the gauzy fabric of her gown barely concealing the treasures that lay beneath. The rhyme rose again, blocking the spell... repeating in a crescendo,

with strength of mind confuse her thralls,
and take her, then the gate will fall.

with strength of mind confuse her thralls,
and take her, then the gate will fall.

Katlil’s ice blue eyes penetrated the fog she cast, boring into her, destroying her resolve. He was striding toward her and she was helpless to reisst. He did not wait... he stripped the gown from her and took her, leaving her breathless and begging for more. This was more powerful than any spell she had known before, and she was not even aware that the ancient ancestors left the gate unattended as the faded from the world. Wynan now lay unprotected, ripe for the picking.

To be continued... after another brief hiatus while I continue to work on a non-fiction book.