Joined: 25 Oct 2009
Location: Running through the plains of my mind, my wolf spirit at my side (but doing so in the UK!).
|Posted: Sun Mar 18, 2012 10:57 pm Post subject: SparkleSteps - Chapter 17: Part 3 is up now!
|Here we go, the grand finale. I really hope I don't disappoint, as I found this part really, really hard to write. Without further ado, I present the final part of chapter 17 and the end of our story. Hope you enjoy! :)
SparkleSteps ~ Chapter 17: Part 3
Tianna took a deep breath, as she contemplated the epicness of what she was taking on. Though Mot and Sorren were there to do their part, the majority of responsibility was now set firmly upon her shoulders, and she was dubious, as to her ability to pull it off. Her powers, though present and strong, were nowhere near the level they'd been before her spirit had split, and she knew there was a good chance that they would fail her.
For what felt like the thousandth time, she lamented their choice, all those years ago. Their arrogance at thinking that the three of them could defeat the Veeka by themselves, and remain unscathed. She'd paid dearly for that mistake, but if she didn't succeed this time around, the entire Elven race would be paying for it too. She turned to her current companions, who were standing behind her. Both were watching her intently, though Sorren's eyes remained painfully grief stricken. Her heart went out to him, for she knew how he was feeling. Her thoughts drifted back to her memories of Religan, of their time together as lovers, which was now forever tainted with the image of him being ripped limb from limb, by the monster that they were going into battle against. She gave a shake of her head, to clear her thoughts, so that she could get back down to the matter at hand.
"We stand more chance of succeeding, if I'm having to control Chanah for as little time as possible," she said to both Elven men, then she spoke to Sorren directly. "We'll need to get her close to the clearing, so someone is going to have to carry her. If you're not feeling up to it..."
"I'll do it," Sorren replied sharply. He stepped forward, and kneeled to scoop up Chanah's body, but Tianna stopped him.
"Wait," she said gently. "I'll need to capture her soul first. By the time we get there, it may have already dissipated."
Gesturing for Sorren to step back, Tianna positioned herself beside the body of her fallen kin. Standing there, she lifted her arms, placing them parallel to each other, and extended, so that they were directly above the body. She stood very still, her feet together, and took a few deep breaths, getting herself prepared. Then she began to focus her mind on the task at hand. She closed her eyes, and let her awareness flow out of her, reaching outwards and down, and entering Chanah's lifeless body. She found what she was looking for immediately, a dimly lit pulsating orb, glowing a deep vermillion, it's energy clearly almost spent. She wrapped the tendrils of her awareness around the orb, embracing it lovingly and tenderly as if it were a tiny baby, before lifting it up and out of the physical body. Though Tianna didn't open her eyes, she could still see it, swaying in the air before her, cradling it gently with her mind, drawing it up and further away from it's prior residence, and towards her. As it reached her chest, Tianna felt a sudden rush of warmth, as Chanah's soul passed through her flesh, and into her body, and settled there, it's essence mingling alongside her own comfortably. The feeling made her smile.
She opened her eyes, and turned to face the two elven males, who were stood gaping at the display.
"That was..." spluttered Mot, his expression incredulous. "...I've never..."
Tianna approached him with a gentle smile, and laid a hand upon his shoulder.
"You've never seen anything like it," she finished for him, stroking a finger down his cheek. "It's old magic, Mot. The kind that was beginning to grow rare even before I came here all those years ago. It doesn't surprise me to learn that it may have died out completely."
Sorren continued to look at her in awe.
"Is she..." he began. "I mean...can you feel her inside you? Feel her thoughts and spirit...?"
She looked at him with sad eyes, and nodded before speaking.
"Her thoughts no, but her spirit burns brightly. I can feel her courage and love, and her stubborness and pride, all filling me with their presence." She smiled at him. "You were a lucky man, Sorren. She loved you, deeply, to the very core of her soul, and more than life itself. That part of her almost overwhelms all else."
She closed her eyes for another moment, placing her hands over her chest, feeling the heat exuding from it. Then she reopened them, and looked back at Chanah's lover, gesturing to the corpse of his beloved.
"We have to go, as time grows short."
Sorren unhesitatingly moved forward, and took Chanah's body into his arms, holding her close to him. His grief was written all over his face, though he stood gazing at Tianna, his expression telling her he was ready for whatever had to be done. She nodded to him in acknoledgement, then turned towards their path.
"Come," she said to her two companions. "We're close."
A shudder shook through the wall of trees, as Jem climbed, causing him to have to stop, and hold on until it had subsided.
"What the hell...?" he muttered, slighty dazed by the sudden motion, which had taken him completely by surprise. Once he was sure it was over, he reached above him to clasp another branch to hoist himself up further. Then another and another. Jem had always been a strong climber, almost as soon as he was old enough to walk. Even so, the thick tangle weaved together in such an unnatural fashion was causing him to have some difficulty. But at the back of him mind was Milo.
'The boy is my flesh and blood,' he thought to himself. 'I owe it to him and to his mother to keep him safe.'
The thought kept him going, making him push unheedingly through the barrier, snapping the thinner branches clean away from the rest and tossing them back the way he'd come.
Suddenly, a cry of terror broke through the air around him. The sound made him halt once more. He recognised it's maker.
"Milo..." he breathed, glaring furiously at the trees that barred his way to his nephew, as if to burn a hole straight through them. A fierce fury coursed through him, and with that he started upwards again, tearing through the branches relentlessly, allowing nothing to get in his way. They ripped across his person, creating gaping holes in his clothing, and leaving jagged whelts and gashes on the bare flesh of his hands and face. But he paid them no heed. All he could think about was that his nephew was scared and in danger, or in pain. Either was enough to fill him was an anger so tangable he could almost taste it.
Finally he reached the top, and clambered awkwardly around and through the thicket of twisted wood, until he could see into the clearing on the other side. And what he saw filled him with horror. Before him sat the Veeka, it's tentacles swaying around it, and the awful wet sucking noise of it's breathing grating against Jem's ears, making him cringe. Turning to his left, he saw Milo, pressed tightly against the tree trunks, his features a mask of terror. And across from him, grinning wickedly, was a creature that Jem had only seen in his nightmares as a child. In all his years of living at Amethyst Estate, despite his many explorations of the forest, he'd never set eyes upon a Grottbiler, though it's visage was unmistakeable as being that from the book back at the house.
The creature was huge, standing well over seven feet tall, it's long, swaying arms heavily muscled, it's face brutal and cruel. It paced slowly towards Milo, it's mouth and chin dripping with thick, glistening drool, setting off it's hideous smile perfectly. The boy was looking around frantically for an escape, needing to get away from the creature, but without minimising the distance between him and the Veeka.
Suddenly the Grottbiler let out a loud, wet-sounding roar, and plunged forward. Milo bolted sideways, managing to get out of the way just in time, as the creature smashed into the wall of trees, making them shake, causing Jem to shoot out a hand to grip a nearby branch tightly, so as to prevent himself from falling. Looking down, he saw that Milo was now situated almost directly below him. The Grottbiler had turned, and was advancing slowly upon the boy once again. Now was the time for action. Jem reached behind him, grasping the cool metal of the spear in his hand, drawing it forwards and looking at it as it sat innocently in his palm. So many tales had he heard about the fabled weapon as a child, and now here it was, in his grasp, and the enemy before him. Without another thought, Jem steeled himself, and leapt, hurtling to his destiny.
Milo's heart was pumping fiercely against his ribcage, as he turned back to the monster once again. The Grottbiler had nearly got him that time. If he'd been just seconds slower in his reaction, he would have been crushed to death, or worse, remained alive and captured...probably eaten. The thought made him want to cry, but he didn't have time for such things. The creature was advancing upon him again, while it's master let out a thick, wet laugh from where it sat watching.
Milo looked around him for what felt like the hundredth time, seeking any gaps or holes in the barrier that surrounded him. But, as with all the other times, there was nothing.
'I'm going to die...' he thought to himself, a sob catching in his throat. 'I came here to save the world, and now I'm not going to get to grow old in it. It'll end here, in the jaws of a monster...'
His thought were interupted by a sudden shout and a thump, as something landed heavily beside him on the forest floor.
"Uncle Jem..." he breathed, looking at the man in disbelief. His uncle was facing the Grottbiler, his stance ready for action, and his face set into a mask of angry defiance. In his hand, Milo saw that Jem grasped a spear, the gleaming golden weapon of Tianna, and he was brandishing it at the beast. The Veeka let out a cry of fury.
"YOU!..." it bellowed, before sucking in a damp breath. "DECIEVER!...YOU...DARE...TO...RETURN...HERE! KILL HIM!...KIIIILLL...HIIIIM!"
It seemed that Milo was temporarily forgotten, the Veeka's fury over Jem's part in the earlier escape of Winnie clearly overcoming all else. The Grottbiler looked at it's new foe with glittering black eyes, studying the man and his weapon with slight wariness. Even so, it advanced upon Jem, circling around him, trying to find an opening in which to charge without being skewered. But Jem didn't allow the creature the luxury of time to plan it's next move. With a cry, he raced forward, meeting the beast head on before twisting and dancing to the side, and skirting around it, jabbing the spear into the monsters flesh as he did so, pulling it back to find it covered it thick, black blood.
The creature screamed, a hand reaching to it's side, and finding it's palm to be covered in a layer of dark wetness. Furiously, it spun around to face him, only to find Jem advancing swiftly once again, this time stabbing at it's chest, fighting the beast with a skill that Milo was in awe of. Jem spun away again, escaping unscathed. The Grottbier groaned in agony and anger, swiping furiously at the blurr of the man attacking it, but to no avail. Instead it's eyes came to rest upon Milo. It was closer now, much closer, and Milo could see what it planned to do. He made to run, but it was too late. The beast charged, reaching for the boy with long, sinewy fingers, and finding purchase around his neck. He couldn't breath. Every attempt at taking in air was for nothing. The Grottbilers hand was wrapped firmly around his throat, crushing his windpipe, attepting to choke him to death. The world around him began to grow blurry, the colours fading to grey, outlines dimmed...
Suddenly cool, sweet air filled Milo's lungs, and he began to cough and splutter madly, sucking in the precious oxygen greedily, though his throat hurt terribly. Jem's face came into view above him, speaking to him, though in his disorientated state, Milo couldn't make out the words.
"Uncle Jem," Milo rasped, his throat feeling closed and dry, and he winced in pain. 'Guess I should have known that, if breathing hurt, speaking was going to be worse,' he thought to himself, as he tried to sit up, all the while coughing heavily. His vision cleared, and he looked around. The Grottbiler lay on the forest floor, Tianna's golden spear buried in the back of it's neck, and it's black blood steaming and spreading across the ground beneath it. The Veeka sat where it had been, strangely silent. Milo saw that it's many eyes were focused upon an area to his right, and, upon looking, he saw that the trees had parted, creating a wide gap. He turned to his Uncle excitedly.
"Uncle Jem, look!" he rasped, before his face fell. Jem was lay on the ground beside him. His eyes were closed, and his chest was a mess of torn skin and flesh, which bled profusely. "Uncle Jem..."
Milo struggled closer to his Uncle, tears trickling down his cheeks. He touched Jem's face with his finger tips, and bent his head to listen, finding a brief respite of relief when he heard the short, shallow breaths uttered from his Uncle's lips. But it was short lived. Glancing again at the ruined chest, and Jem's quickly paling palor, Milo knew it wouldn't be long before he was dead.
"To save me..." Milo whispered, a sob catching in his throat. "You will have died to save me..."
Already weakened from his own ordeal, Milo, a boy who'd been forced to grow up so quickly since he'd arrived at Amethyst Estate, curled up beside his dying Uncle, and nestled against him, turning back into the young boy he'd been before. Before the Veeka and Tianna and Chanah. Before the sparkling footprints that had begun his and Winnie's adventure. Before the deaths of their parents. While the tears flowed silently down his face, Milo gave in to unconciousness, and everything faded to black.
Tianna, Mot and Sorren approached the solid wall of trunks and branches, halting in front of them.
"How are we to get through?" Mot asked the beautiful elven maid, his senses tingling at how close they were to the enemy.
"I'll get us through," Tianna replied, her voice and visage confirming her surity in the statement. She turned to Sorren, and indicated for him to place Chanah back on the ground. He did so, bending at the knee, and laying the body of his former lover gently on the forest floor.
Tianna took a deep breath, closed her eyes, and sought inside herself once again. Wrapping fingers of awareness around Chanah's soul, she grasped it and drew it out of her body, lowering it gently back inside it's owner. Though it had been inside her for such a brief amount of time, Tianna's living soul seemed to have given it a boost of power, which radiated from it strongly, and caused her faith in their plan being successful to grow slightly.
On the way there, she'd explained what they were going to do to the other two, and now Tianna mentally took stock of how much further her powers would stretch. Though Sorren and Mot both possessed magic, theirs was not a match for those of her generation of elves, and they had neither the strength nor skill that she did. Much of the plan's success rest firmly upon her shoulders. As it was, she wasn't sure that she could do it. Their powers being used together would make her own stronger in itself, but still...she was dubious.
After a moment of contemplation, Tianna took a steadying breath, and extended her hands once again over the body before her.
"By air, and water, and earth, and fire, I bid you arise! Chanah of the Vale of Storms, arise! In life you were our ally, be so in death...ARISE AND FIGHT!" For one brief moment, wind gusted noisily around them, rain poured upon them, the earth trembled beneath their feet, and a ring of fire rose around them. And as it did, Chanah's eyes opened. She sat up, while Sorren and Mot looked on, their mouths open in shock, then got to her feet. Her movements were smooth, yet almost mechanical, and she turned to face Tianna, her eyes unfocused and unseeing. Then the ring of fire died, as did the rain and the wind, and the shudding earth ceased in it's motions. Together, Tianna and Chanah turned, and faced the barrier again. Chanah's chest glowed with the soul trapped inside it, while Tianna's entire person shone like a star, ripe and blooming with unsheathed power and magic.
"Grant us passage!" she boomed at the trees, her voice sounding strangely elevated and dettached from her body. At her words, the trees creaked and began to part, leaving the snapping and splitting of branches in their wake. Tianna stepped through the gap and into the clearing beyond, followed closely by Chanah, and then by Sorren and Mot. Her gaze found the Veeka immediately, and she glared at their foe, lighting bolts flashing inside her eyes, matching the power that flowed through her, making her fingertips tingle. She looked to her companions, gesturing for them to take their places. They did so, including Chanah, who moved unflinchingly to her place on the opposite side of the Veeka to Tianna, who stood to the north. Mot took his place east, and Sorren west.
"What are...you...doing?!" the Veeka demanded, his rattling breaths being drawn more urgently. But he gained no answer for his troubles.
As one, the four elves extended their arms in front of them and slightly to the side, each reaching for two of their companions, palms facing the sky and closing their eyes.
"Air, water, earth, fire..."chanted Tianna. "Air, water, earth, fire...air, water, earth, fire...air, water, earth...FIRE!"
Suddenly great beams of light shot forth from the fingertips of the elves, each one reaching to that of the others, the beams meeting with a crackle of lightning, fizzing and popping erratically. Their eyes opened, each showing irridecent white, glowing with an unearthly light. The Veeka shrank back from their gazes, fear written in it's own eyes.
"BY THE POWER OF AIR!" cried Tianna, as a great gust of wind flowed through the air around them, causing their hair to dance around their faces.
"BY THE POWER OF WATER!" she called to the night sky, and was answered with a flood of torrential rain, which mingled with the wind to bluster through the clearing.
"BY THE POWER OF EARTH!" At her words, saplings burst from the ground around the Veeka, wrapping the monster in an unwelcome embrace. Up until this point, the Veeka had been sat in shivering silence, overwhelmed by fear. But now he screamed.
But his cries were ignored, as the four watched the young trees twist around his hideous form, all but hiding it from view.
"BY THE POWER OF FIRE!" Tianna bellowed, and her words were met with a whooshing noise, as the trees surrounding their foe became a riot of flames. The Veeka's screams shattered the air around them, filling the forest with the monster's dying cries, telling the story of his final moments. Mere seconds seemed to pass, before all that was left were the charred skeletons of the saplings, and a pile of dimly glowing embers at their heart.
When it was done, the four elves, the fire, rain and wind all dead, and their energy spent, each fell to the forest floor, breathing heavily with the effort their plan had cost them. Tianna's whole body ached, and yet she couldn't help but smile despite the pain.
"We did it..." she breathed, her body filled with a warm glow. "We did it..."
Milo awoke to the feeling of the summer sun upon his cheek, it's light making him squint against the glare. Shading his eyes, he glance at his surroundings, and found himself to be in his own room. With a soft groan at the ache in his bones, he sat up in bed, and looked around. Winnie was sat in a chair beside him, her form flopped forward over the bed, and her eyes closed in slumber. Milo smiled at her, and reached out a hand to stroke her head fondly.
Though his body protested against it, he pushed back the covers, silently noting that someone had changed him into his pyjamas, and swung his legs gingerly out of bed. He got to his feet, wincing at the movement, and limped across the room to the bathroom, needing to heed the call of nature. Afterwards, he took a long look in the mirror at his appearence. Though battered and bruised, he seemed to be okay. His colour was a healthy shade, and none of his injuries looked permanant.
Suddenly, his thoughts went to his Uncle, remembering how badly he'd been injured the last time Milo had seen him. He rushed from the bathroom as fast as his battered body would allow, and shook Winnie awake. She looked up at him with sleepy eyes, which soon widened, filled with joy.
"Milo!" she cried, throwing her arms around him. "You're awake!"
He returned the gesture, wrapping his own arms around his little sister, and kissing the top of her head. For a moment, the two were lost in their embrace, before Milo backed away slightly to look down at her.
"Win...Uncle Jem...is he...?"
"He's okay," she whispered, with a smile. "Tianna and the others, they saved him...though I did think..." Her eyes filled with tears for a moment, at the memory, but she swiped them away quickly. "He's in bed too." she went on. "Though he's been awake for a while now. I was going to and fro between you, but he told me to stay with you, to make sure you were okay." She smiled wider and slipped her hand into his. "I'm glad you woke up at last. It was getting a bit lonely."
Milo looked down at her questioningly.
"So...Tianna and the others...?"
"They left yesterday," Winnie replied. "They stayed as long as they could, but they said time had run out, and they had to get going. But Tianna left you this."
Winnie put a hand in her pocket, and drew out a piece of folded paper, tied with a rust-coloured ribbon.
"She told me to give it to you when you woke up," she went on, her eyes filled with curiousity. "I don't know what it says though. She wrote it when she was alone."
Milo looked down at the prettily wrapped note, and nodded, deciding that he would find a spare moment later, when he was alone to read it.
The afternoon blossomed, and Milo found himself in the garden alone, sat with his back against the tree in which they'd found the book. Winnie and Jem between them had told him of Chanah's death, and the downfall of the Veeka. Upon hearing the former, Milo was filled with a strange grief. Though he and the elven woman had only known each other for a short time, and they'd fought and argued for much of that, he felt a fondness for the fiery, outspoken female, and his heart wept to hear of her demise. He was also sorry he'd missed bidding the others farewell. They'd taken Chanah's body back to their own world with them, claiming that it wouldn't be right to leave her there, outside her own kind.
And now Milo sat with the notelet in his hands, just staring at it. Finally, he took one end of the ribbon, and pulled, untying the bonds that held the letter closed, before unfolding the paper, and beginning to read.
I haven't much time left to write you this, so I will be brief. By now, no doubt, you will have been brought up to date on the situation. The Veeka is dead, and Chanah along with him, much to my great regret and sadness. We mourn her loss even as we celebrate his demise, in a strange mix of both happiness and grief.
It grieves me that I must leave before bidding you farewell, and also thanking you, Milo. None of this would have been possible without you, and neither I nor the rest of the elven nation will ever forget it - ever. My heart pleads that we may meet again someday, under different circumstances.
The very best of wishes to you, my warrior, my saviour, my friend.
By the time he'd finished reading, Milo found his cheeks awash with tears. He would miss Tianna. She was Violet, Rosie and Old Bob combined. Three people he'd come to know and love in his short time living at Amethyst Estate, all gone. Yes, he would miss her.
Taking a deep breath, and wiping his face dry, Milo got to his feet, gazing around him. The grounds, the forest, the house itself. All were beautiful and all had become home to him. With a smile, he tucked the note into his pocket, and headed towards the house, wondering what adventures might befall him next.
There is an epilogue to follow shortly, though it will have to wait, as I'm way, waaaay past my bedtime.
Thankyou so much for reading, and to all of you who've read it all, whether you've been following from the story's beginning, or taken the time to catch up, I am truly grateful.