Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Lady Elaryindril & Cyrus Knowles the Quarterback: Book 1, Part 2

LE&CKQ Front Cover.JPG
the Quarterback

Volume One of the Kingdom of AtoL Serie
by Marty Reeder

Book I:
Sorcerer of the Order of the Extraction Lode Stones

Part 2

Cyrus Knowles the Quarterback and Lady Elaryindril both came sputtering out of a pool of water, all around them a murky haze concealed anything within a thirty foot radius.

“Dewter-man! What’s going on? Is this some kind of joke?!”

Elaryindril’s first instinct was to lift her latest fantasy volume out of the water. Then she found her footing. “Dëwht-åh-mæhrø?”

The Crater High School teens looked around the mists but saw no one else.

“Well, he’s having his laugh now,” Cyrus Knowles the Quarterback wiped water away from his eyes. “Maybe Vice-Principal Miller put him up to this. You know, to teach us a lesson or something.”

Lady Elaryindril’s eyes squinted, “How can you possibly--”

“Silence is critical at this juncture,” a voice whispered through the haze.

“Dude, Staff Man,” Cyrus Knowles the Quarterback exclaimed, “not cool! I had a wallet in my pocket. And now I’m going to have to take a shower, ‘cause who knows what’s in this water!”

With increased intensity Dëwht-åh-mæhrø hissed, “I know what’s in this water, and if you would like to remain the Chosen One for much longer, you will need to lower your voice and follow me immediately!”

Momentarily humbled, Cyrus Knowles the Quarterback waded towards Dëwht-åh-mæhrø’s voice. Lady Elaryindril slipped behind him. After a couple of steps, Elaryindril shoved Cyrus from behind and whispered fiercely: “Don’t flatter yourself, Jersey Wearer, just because every dull-headed, make-up caked girl in school throw themselves at your feet doesn’t mean you can make a move on me.”

Cyrus Knowles the Quarterback could not have demonstrated more horror on his face had he seen the whole Bison Valley Defensive Line blitzing him. “Listen here, Book Addict Anonymous, I don’t know what you think a move is, but I didn’t make one on you!”

“Then who keeps touching my leg?”

In that moment both of them felt a sharp stinging in their calves. “Quickly!” Dëwht-åh-mæhrø suddenly appeared to the side of them, his face contorted as he wielded his staff to the area of water just behind them. “Straight forward as fast as you can to the shore. Don’t look back!”

The pain in their legs momentarily released, and they both lurched forward, feeling the ground coming up quicker on them. As they started splashing through the shallows, they saw a churning all around them of fish, mouths gaping open, all flying in their direction before seeming to hit a wall which forced their bodies to contort and drop them back into the water.

Lady Elaryindril tripped just as they crested the shoreline, her book flying onto land, but she dropped into the churning shallows. Cyrus Knowles the Quarterback immediately turned back and hefted Lady Elaryindril up in a single motion and tossed her to shore. Several fish flew at him, and he batted them away before tripping onto shore himself.

The recovering teenagers then watched a highly focused Dëwht-åh-mæhrø wading deliberately towards them, his staff held out in front of him and the fish frothing all around him, yet leaving a perimeter of about a foot around his body where he remained untouched. By the time Dëwht-åh-mæhrø made it to shore, his energy was spent and both Elaryindril and Cyrus jumped up to keep him from collapsing.

“Their strength increases,” Dëwht-åh-mæhrø muttered. “I hope we are not too late.”

Cyrus Knowles the Quarterback walked back towards the water and picked up a fish that had flopped onto shore. “Dude, Power Stick Man, this is just a salmon. Are you telling me that we were being attacked by a bunch of salmon?”

Lady Elaryindril piped in, “I would have thought they were the Swarming Lake Dwellers of Frauliçtek.”

Still breathing heavily, Dëwht-åh-mæhrø said, “All creatures in the Kingdom of AtoL have been subject to our powers in the past, but with the Wraith Lord’s rise, the creatures have grown increasingly violent. It takes inordinate amounts of energy to fend them off from our subjects.”

“Wraith Lord,” Lady Elaryindril muttered with a mix of horror and thrill.

“Look, Buddy,” Cyrus Knowles the Quarterback turned to Dëwht-åh-mæhrø, “I ain’t no fish whisperer like you, so I don’t know why you think I can help.”

“Saye Rünowele da Dertjerack,” Dëwht-åh-mæhrø replied, “is a great legend among our people--the ultimate hero. We knew that if anyone could confront this foe before us now, it would be you. As one of the few survivors of the Order of the Extraction Lode Stones after the Wraith Lord’s extermination plot, I was sent to find you. By following the ancient threads of Lode Stone power to their place of origin, I have done so. Now you will save the Kingdom of AtoL from utter annihilation.”

“How do I save a fairy tale land from annihilation?” Cyrus Knowles lifted his hands up in the air.

“Some sort of talisman,” Elaryindril said, while gathering her book off the ground. “Is there a sword he must retrieve? Or a piece of magical jewelry?”

“Nay child,” Dëwht-åh-mæhrø shook his still sopping beard, “Saye Rünowele da Dertjerack has within him all the qualities of the ultimate hero. He must go face the Wraith Lord himself. I am to take him there.”

“Where is the Wraith dude?” Cyrus asked.

“Just a two minute walk from here,” Dëwht-åh-mæhrø replied. “Now, we must hurry. If the fish are any indication, we could be assaulted by other unseen foes at any moment.”

“Two minutes!” Lady Elaryindril said. “Wait, wait. Oh, great sorcerer, Dëwht-åh-mæhrø, I do not mean to interject, but I think we’re going about things all wrong. First of all, it is about at this point that you provide us with at least a chapter’s worth of exposition detailing the history of this land, its magic, the Wraith Lord’s ascendance to power, and the impossible quest to remove him. Cyrus Knowles the Quarterback is then supposed to go through moments of self-doubt. Then we are to make a long trek through the land and encounter companions of various races, along with exciting adventures and close calls from the Wraith Lord’s minions (the fish thing was a good start). Finally, after obtaining a talisman and having gone through some unorthodox training, Cyrus will discover his inner strength and we will conquer the Wraith Lord, though we’ll leave some semblance of residual power so as to allow for a lengthened series of future adventures.”

There was a long pause as both Dëwht-åh-mæhrø and Cyrus Knowles the Quarterback stared down Lady Elaryindril quixotically. Finally, Dëwht-åh-mæhrø spoke, “While I do not doubt your wisdom in these affairs, my child, I’m afraid we do not have time for any of that.”

“Right,” Cyrus Knowles the Quarterback said, “let’s head.”

Dëwht-åh-mæhrø took a deep breath and then stepped into the swirling mists while Cyrus and Elaryindril followed.

Though still bemused by the quick chain of events, Lady Elaryindril did take a moment to speak. “Cyrus Knowles the Quarterback, why are you suddenly eager to perform this heroic deed for a man that you spurned only minutes earlier?”

Cyrus Knowles glanced back at Lady Elaryindril for a moment. “I … I don’t know. I guess when the dude hit his stick to the ground and we ended up here …” he shrugged “... I guess it’s like when a ref blows the whistle and the game starts. You forget everything else from before, and you just play.”

Elaryindril shook her head. “But you realize that we don’t know anything about the Wraith Lord or his powers. The dangers could exceed anything our small little minds could ever anticipate!”

Cyrus grinned. “That just gets me more fired up. People said we were huge underdogs against the defending State Champ team, but we proved that we had bigger hearts!”

Lady Elaryindril absorbed this statement thoughtfully, not sure whether it was boldness or bravado. As she weighed the matter, it reminded her of something else. “Speaking of showing big heart,” Elaryindril paused as if her statement pained her, “I must thank you for picking me out of the lake as we were being attacked.”

Cyrus had not expected Elayrindril’s show of gratitude. “Oh  yeah,” he mumbled, “Well, you know, thrill of the moment, I guess.”

Had the Wraith Lord’s fortress been farther off, their conversation might have developed into something more interesting, but just at that moment Dëwht-åh-mæhrø crouched low behind a rock outcropping and beckoned the others to join him.

The trio stared into the drifting haze and eventually recognized the silhouette of a black, block shape, about the size of a two story house, sitting before them. Elaryindril’s eyes took it in, then she spoke, “So, I assume this is the gate house to the Wraith Lord’s domain?”

Dëwht-åh-mæhrø kept his eyes on the shape in front of them. “It is not. This is the Wraith Lord’s personal residence.”

“Wait, this is it?” Elaryindril appeared on the verge of elaborating her disappointment, but Cyrus interrupted.

“So, do we ring the doorbell or what?”

The ancient man gave another confused look to Cyrus Knowles the Quarterback. “He has no bells of which I am aware. However, I sense that there are about two dozen guards in the vicinity. Give me a moment to focus in on their location so that I can help us navigate to an entrance.”

Dëwht-åh-mæhrø closed his eyes to concentrate and Lady Elaryindril could not help but mumble, “Two dozen? That’s the Wraith Lord’s formidable army?”

Cyrus Knowles the Quarterback smiled. “You got pluck, Elf Chick, I’ll give you that. It’s too bad this fantasy land of yours is like going to play your opponent and it turns out you’re playing the junior varsity team instead of the varsity.”

Suddenly, Dëwht-åh-mæhrø’s eyes snapped open. “Gåtesbuî the Great approaches!”

Cyrus and Elaryindril searched for another figure in the mists. “Do you mean ‘Great’ like, ‘Cool Dude,’ or do you mean ‘Great’ like, ‘We’re Dead Meat’?”

“He is among the nobility in the Kingdom of AtoL. Recently, he has been trying to help those of us in the Order of the Extraction Lode Stones to fight the Wraith Lord’s increasing powers.”

Suddenly from behind them, they heard a shuffling of steps. “Dëwht-åh-mæhrø, I’m glad I found you.”

Gåtesbuî the Great was a short man dressed in a white tunic that had a red-blazoned fabric on the front showing the letter “A.”

Lady Elaryindril could not help but exclaim in excitement, “Ah--a dwarf! And he is wearing the uniform of the Kingdom of AtoL. He is most definitely a welcome addition to our company.”

Gåtesbuî the Great, distracted, looked at Elaryindril. “I do not know who you are, but I am definitely not a dwarf. I may be slightly small of stature, but I’ve also been crouching so as not to be seen by the Wraith Lord’s guards, which may have affected your perception of my height. And while I do wear the scarlet emblem of the Kingdom of AtoL on my tunic, I will be the farthest thing imaginable from welcoming if you insist on calling me a dwarf.”

If Lady Elaryindril felt intimidated by Gåtesbuî the Great’s diatribe, she did not show it. Instead she turned with a giddy expression to Cyrus Knowles the Quarterback, “Dwarves always act grumpy, but they’ve got the kindest hearts you can imagine!”

“Milady,” Gåtesbuî the Great seethed, “I am just short! And if you--”

Dëwht-åh-mæhrø interrupted, “I have the Chosen One. We were about to confront the Wraith Lord just before you came.”

Gåtesbuî the Great’s demeanor suddenly changed as he scrutinized an uncomfortable Cyrus Knowles the Quarterback. He then bowed, an act which compounded his height deficiency. Before Cyrus could tell him to straighten up, however, he lifted his head and said, “Chosen One, Dëwht-åh-mæhrø, I bear difficult tidings.” He did his best to ignore Lady Elaryindril as he spoke. “The Wraith Lord’s power increases faster and more intensely than we could expect. He has already gathered the dispersed Night Screechers and now has wärgs past the outer defenses of AtoL.”

Dëwht-åh-mæhrø’s face hardened, “Then we are not a moment too soon. We must penetrate the Wraith Lord’s domain before he uses his powers to harness more vile beasts to his evil will.”

Gåtesbuî the Great grimly shook his head. “The innocent citizens in the Vale of Œdïthe Hhowørtyn witnessed the great herd of Caped Horned Beasts migrating for this very spot. With much caution, I found the creatures esconded in the dale just behind the Wraith Lord’s abode. He only awaits someone to spring his trap.”

“Fµlchãnkürst!” Dëwht-åh-mæhrø spewed.

“I know that’s not good,” Cyrus Knowles the Quarterback caught a knowing look from Lady Elaryindril.

The old man’s face showed an immense fatigue overwhelm him. “I could have handled the guards so that Saye Rünowele da Dertjerack could face the Wraith Lord. I’m afraid, however, that I am nearly spent … a whole herd of Caped Horned Beasts would finish me and the rest of you soon after.”

An ominous silence overcame the group. Finally, Gåtesbuî the Great spoke in a defeated tone, “What shall we do then?”

Dëwht-åh-mæhrø tapped the top of his staff with his finger and then turned to Gåtesbuî the Great. “Is there not time to summon Län Gstøn the Huge?”

Gåtesbuî the Great shook his head sadly. “The Wraith Lord overcame him and M’Illæ Bïknsn with the Caped Horned Beasts just after you disappeared for the Chosen One’s world.”

Cyrus Knowles the Quarterback tried to pay attention, but he began getting lost in all the weird names and the complicated plot twists. His eyes drifted above the mists where he saw a dark, amorphous form drifting in their direction. “Dudes, I think a storm’s coming. Check it out.”

Dëwht-åh-mæhrø and Gåtesbuî the Great lifted their eyes only to shudder. “The Night Shriekers have already arrived. We are finished. The fury of their attack will alert the Caped Horned Beasts of our location. Even if we managed to survive them, the Caped Horned Beasts would finish us.”

Dëwht-åh-mæhrø closed his eyes and withdrew into his wrinkles momentarily before his eyelids snapped open with new resolve. “Saye Rünowele da Dertjerack is all that matters now. You must save him, Gåtesbuî the Great. Take him to the Temple of the Goddess of AtoL. Perhaps there he will receive guidance and our kingdom may yet be saved!”

Gåtesbuî the Great held Dëwht-åh-mæhrø by the shoulders. “But the temple, the Wraith Lord ruined it.”

Dëwht-åh-mæhrø managed to give a weak chuckle. “‘Twas not the building that brought the visions; ‘twas the visions that brought the building.” Sifting his hand into his robe, Dëwht-åh-mæhrø removed a small, black pellet. “Take them to the place of visions and toss this to the ground.”

Gåtesbuî the Great mindlessly pocketed the pellet. “But, Dëwht-åh-mæhrø, what about you?”

Renewing a grip on his staff, the wizard muttered. “I will delay the Night Shriekers’ arrival for as long as I can.”

Lady Elaryindril had been mesmerized by the dramatic conversation, but at this point she could not help jumping in. “But Dëwht-åh-mæhrø, you are already weak from defending us against the Swarming Lake Dwellers of Frauliçtek, you can’t possibly--”

“Salmon, you mean,” Cyrus Knowles the Quarterback callously interrupted.

Lady Elaryindril ignored him, “You can’t possibly hold off the Night Shriekers and the Caped Horned Beasts. Plus, the wärgs are on their way. We refuse to leave your side!”

“Noble Lady Elaryindril, if I have to use my powers to force you to leave, I will. That would, of course, diminish me further, so I must ask you to flee at once for the Temple of the Goddess of AtoL.”

Cyrus Knowles the Quarterback stood up. “You heard the dude, let’s go. Gatty the Great, you know the way, right?”

Elaryindril seemed reluctant, but Cyrus grabbed her wrist. “Hey, Long-Hair Braider, we gotta get outta here. The dude’s gonna do the blocking for us. We’d better make sure it ain’t wasted. Look, the Night Something-or-Others are almost here!”

As Lady Elaryindril allowed Cyrus Knowles the Quarterback to tug her through the mists behind Gåtsbuî the Great, she captured a final vision of Dëwht-åh-mæhrø standing erect, arms extending, staff trembling as the Night Shriekers descended from the sky in a direct line towards the Last Sorcerer of the Order of the Extraction Lode Stones. It was one of the most tragic, and therefore, most beautiful moments of her life.

End Book I: Sorcerer of the Order of the Extraction Lode Stones of Lady Elaryindril and Cyrus Knowles the Quarterback: Volume One of the Kingdom of AtoL Serie

©2014 Marty Reeder