Second Book of the Darkness Trilogy
by K Griffin © 1998
"Hope is Light in the Darkness. Despair is Darkness
in the Light. The self aware,
extract from the "Chaos Codex'"
Skye soared under the heat of the midday sun and gazed down at the earth below. Once he'd thought that dragons were sleepy lazy creatures as a result of the energy that must be involved in lifting their bulk into the air., but he found flying almost effortless. He smiled wryly to himself and corrected that errant thought. The effort involved was the inner strength he drew on not to lose himself in the ecstasy of the freedom. He feared that letting down his guard and submerging himself in this aspect of his nature, could prove fatal. His recent altercation with the Drakken pack was proof enough that dangers still existed.
Skye usually only flew under the cloak of night. It was a long time since he'd flown in the daylight and the pulsing of energy in his blood was far stronger under the
golden heat of the sun. From this height he could survey the lands for miles. The dark green bulk of Yang'grir looked less daunting from here, but it did sit solemnly on the landscape like a sleeping giant. Skye could see the damage to the forest. The unnatural cold that gripped the land was eating into the very heart of Yang'grir. The forest was slowly dying at the edges and shrinking. To the north he could see as far as the frozen wastelands, but beyond was a black brooding presence that blocked his view. He didn't need to see it to know what it was though. To the north was the heart of the darkness that was the stronghold of the Master. To the north, was Lysis.
It was the eastern lands that made him most curious however. His night wanderings had taught him not to fly that way. Many times in the dark of night he'd been brought crashing to the ground by some force that held sway over the High Plains. That was the one place where he did not have a choice, where he had to walk. He'd never been this high in the daylight though, nor in such a contemplative mood. Until now he'd presumed that the sparkles of silver he'd seen over the eastern high plains were simply the reflected moonlight. Now, in the harsh light of day, he realised his mistake. The eastern lands sparkled, even in the daytime. It was as though a shimmering silver net enveloped them. The silver net was just as effective at blocking his curious gaze, as the black cloud to the north.
To the south, Skye could see the ancient parkway disappear into the Great Northern Tunnel that linked these wild lands with the peaceful haven of St. Helen's. The dragon blood in him seemed to answer the call of the crags and yearned to soar to the very top of the towering peaks. The most magnificent peak of all though, stood isolated and alone on the western edge of the dividing range. He'd made that trek many times now and Dragonslair Mountain was an unmistakable landmark.
Although he could reach it easily and quickly taking this high road, he determinedly turned his back on temptation and banked into a long glide that would land him at the edge of Yang'grir.
As he neared the ground, a deep voice began to sing in his head. Yang'grir seemed to pulse with a soft glowing green, the brightness of each pulse coinciding with the beat of the song in his head. Skye could see wolves lining the edge of the forest and fanning out into the open ground in a semi circle. The silent audience should have been unsettling, but their
gaze was not focused on him. The subject of their intense scrutiny was a lone figure, who stood near the edge of the forest. The figure was dark enough to have been Maryx but the mode of dress was far different. Where Maryx adopted dark leathers, this man wore thick luxurious pelts. Skye watched as the man drew intricate symbols in the dirt with an enormous wolf paw. Skye had only meet a man like this once before during his wanderings through Yang'grir. This
man was a Guardian and the guardians were reputed to be awesomely powerful.
Skye listened to the song in his head and felt drawn to the circle of silence that surrounded the shrouded figure. Since this was where Maryx was most likely to emerge from the forest, Skye allowed himself to be snared by the song. He landed as far from the man as he could and joined the watching wolf pack as an audience to the ceremony. The Guardian looked up at him as he landed. Two piercing blue eyes locked with his for a moment and it was as though in that moment of inspection, his soul had been thrown open, examined, weighed and judged. Why it mattered as to whether he passed or failed inspection, he wasn't sure, but he felt relieved that he seemed to have passed.
There was an almost feverish urgency about the dark figure as though he could barely contain the energy of the song he was weaving. Skye lost himself in the song, letting it course through his veins. Something inside him seemed to be attuned to this song and he felt a strange tingling in the dragon scales that melded his wings to him. In the distance he could hear wolves howling. A half thought crossed his mind and he murmured to himself "More wolves are coming". The distant howling was disturbing his enjoyment of the song. Finally the howling distracted him enough, for him to realise that it was not distant at all. It was the wolves of the circle and it was his own mind that had been distant. The wolves
were disturbed by the ceremony. The howling was building a wall of fear, and none of the wolves could cross it. None could reach the Guardian to stop this ceremony.
The recent, peaceful cleansing in the sunlight gave Skye the strength to draw his mind fully back from the song. He managed to observe the ceremony being enacted before him. A slight shiver crept up his spine as he realised that not only was the fear building here, but also the power. He studied the dark figure at the epicentre of it all and could see beads of sweat starting to gleam on a straining forehead. The clear blue eyes that had searched his soul so piercingly, were closed as though to hold in some great pain. Skye realised with dismay that the Guardian probably was in pain. The great totem of the Guardians, the wolf claw, had been used to draw blood. Great red wounds marked the Guardian's arms deeply. The wolf claw tips dripped with blood and were renewed by the flow of fresh blood dripping down the Guardian's arms. Skye searched his memories but could not recall any legends that spoke of such ceremonies. Blood magic had never been the way of the Guardians. Legend spoke of their wondrous magic and their ability to walk the shadow plains. They were the beloved of the Silver Lady and her way was not pain.
At that moment the Guardian opened his eyes and looked straight at Skye. The eyes were no longer clear and blue. Instead, it was two dark black eyes that stared into his soul. Sky could feel the hatred in that gaze. A cold horror washed over him as he recognised these new eyes that gazed from the body of the Guardian. A protest burst from him in one sharp exhalation of air. The one word he managed to utter was barely audible. It was "Lysis!"
He tried to break the stare. He tried to back away. All to no avail. The earth here had become so cold that it was as though his very boots were frozen to the ground. He dragged his eyes heavenwards for a moment and realised the sky was darkening. Black clouds were building around them, cutting off the warmth from the sun. He closed his eyes trying to fight the darkness. No words would come. He couldn't name the darkness, he could only feel it. He opened his eyes to find a transformation occurring. With each pulse of the song, the power of Lysis grew. The body of the Guardian seemed to waver and blur before
the watchers' eyes. An indistinct black mist settled over him and began to slowly solidify.
Skye could see black, flowing hair tumbling down against alabaster pure skin. A husky feminine voice joined the deep voice in the song and the hum of power grew to an unbearable pitch. Skye could hear the scream of protest in the deep voice, but the husky voice was alive with excitement and filled the gaps in the song. The song was now being sung by a siren of temptation. She had lured the Guardian into her trap with the temptation of power. Now she was sealing his doom with every other temptation he could imagine. The song whispered of dreams of pleasure and as her body took form, she forced the Guardian's own hands to explore the changes. His strong callused hands, still dripping with his own blood, reached up to explore this new form that was once his body. Skye watched the strange parody of the man's hand exploring the emerging female body.
Skye could hear the delight in her song, her joy in tormenting the holy guardian. As he watched, the hands started to caress her perfect body and he could hear a soft moan of arousal. Whether the moan was male or female was hard to distinguish but he knew she'd keep up this debasement until the mind of the Guardian retreated into insanity.
Skye strained to move; he tried to yell; he wanted to help; but he couldn't. The transformation reached the hands now and soft delicate female hands now slid down the delectable body. Skye closed his eyes rather than watch what she would do. At that moment a hand touched his shoulder and an urgent voice rasped in his ear. The voice said "We've got to stop this abomination, Skye". Perhaps it was the act of closing his eyes that broke the spell, or perhaps it was the horrified human voice that spoke at his shoulder.
Maryx had arrived. Skye felt shame wash over him at his inaction. Avoiding the beautiful dark eyes that mocked his helplessness, he focused his outrage into one burst of action. Drawing his sword, he leaped at the Guardian and taking a firm grasp of the blade, he wielded the weapon like a club. The sharp blade bit into his hands, drawing blood, but he ignored the pain. One swing was all Skye could manage, but it was enough. The Guardian was knocked cold by the impact and crumpled to the ground. The illusion was gone and no part of Lysis lay unconscious on the cold frozen earth.
Skye glimpsed the still form of the Guardian at his feet, before the black mist settled around him. The cold enshrouded him and he was again frozen into immobility. The voice of Lysis crooned softly in his ear "You shed your blood for me, Skye. Shall we resume where we left off?"
Maryx watched in dismay as the mist enshrouded Skye. He smelled the blood in the clearing and realised how Lysis reached these targets. Grabbing the latest kill from his pack, he thanked the Gods that he'd not yet gutted and cleaned it. One slice of his razor sharp hunting knife was enough to split the rabbit open. In desperation he scattered the fresh innards into the black mist and saw the mist dissipate slightly before re-forming to its full blackness. Turning to the wolves, he pleaded "We need pure blood sacrifices to clean the tainted circle. Please..." Praying that they understood, he turned and stepped into the mist, reaching for Skye.
Maryx could feel the cold, but the only blood on his hands was not his own. Lysis could find no way to enter his soul. Maryx reached for Skye and gripped the bleeding hands tightly. The warm human touch seemed to reach Skye, because he opened tormented eyes and locked his gaze desperately on his friend's face. Maryx spoke softly but firmly "Today is not the day, Skye." Skye nodded and again the mist wavered. The song was fading without a corporeal singer as a focus for Lysis. When the song finally died, a scream of anger split the air and the mist was gone. Lysis would not claim another victim today.
The two friends surveyed the scene. Before each wolf was a small bloody carcase, but the wolves still hugged the perimeter of Yang'grir, seemingly unable to move closer. Maryx addressed the silent audience, saying softly "Thank you. Your actions saved us all". A groan from the body still lying at their feet, drew their attention back to the fallen Guardian. Maryx bent to examine the wounds, but a small dressing would be all that was required for the flesh wounds. Maryx had prior experience of Lysis though, and suspected that the mental scars might require more attention. Almost as though in response to Maryx's unspoken thoughts, a voice commented "We will help him as much as we can. Time walking the shadow plains will give him some respite from this pain. When he is ready to forgive himself, then he will be ready to ask the Silver Lady for forgiveness as well".
Maryx looked up to find that two Guardians had arrived. They helped the old Guardian to his feet and supported him between them. Without further comment, they turned and walked back into the forest.
Skye picked up his fallen sword and carefully cleaned the blood from the blade. He looked up but avoided looking Maryx directly in the eye. "I need a bath, Maryx" he muttered, as he turned and continued on his journey.
Maryx decided now was not the time to discuss the day's events, and simply followed him.
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