More words I’ve already written

Posted on October 7, 2016


They stood in a valley surrounded by olive trees.  Alvah sneezed.  He hated the damn things.  They always made his eyes water and his throat clog.

“Did we have to do this here?”

“I like the trees.  I always visit this valley when we travel here.  Also the spirits here are different.  Less tame.  They won’t come as soon as you utter the first words.  The practice will do you good.”  Telem looked around.  “That one.  Let’s go sit there.”

Alvah looked warily at the tree in full flower.  “Why?”

“Because it’s pretty.  And well shaded.”

Alvah sighed and resigned himself to being congested for the next week. “Whatever you say, Master.”

They situated themselves beneath the widespread branches.  The trunk was thick and gnarled.  It was an ancient tree.  Alvah wondered if any of his other lives wandered through this valley, saw the tree as a sapling or a young plant.  He shook the thought away.  Telem’s requests for stories of the past were making it difficult to separate then from now.  It was lucky he was learning to be a spirit walker.  They were reputed to be vague and talk to things others couldn’t see.

“Alvah, let’s begin.  Remember, the words are a conduit.  They reveal the path.  There will come a time when you don’t need them.  But for now, they will focus you, reveal the spirits to you.  Begin.”

Alvah closed his eyes and began the chants.  Soon the smell of the olive trees and the heat of the air was forgotten.  There was only the chant.  The chant and the energy gathering.  He could feel something shifting.  He focused on it.  As Telem said, he would be able to do this without the chants soon enough.  He just needed to see, to know, to feel the moment his vision and his senses shifted barely sideways.

The energy gathered and the air twisted and it was there.  Alvah focused and felt the exact moment.  Then he opened his eyes.

The trees were still there.  The air was dead and still as when they entered the valley.  But there was something, something not quite as it was.  Alvah squinted.  There was some kind of afterimage, as if he looked into the sun for a moment too long and his eyes couldn’t adjust back fast enough.  The effect was disorienting.

“Now Alvah.  Call them.  Call them and see if they bend to your will.”

He nodded and began another series of chants.  These he added weight to.  The first set were focused on himself.  These were focused outward.  He poured power into the call.  And something answered.

There was a cry as if from far off.  Alvah broke of the chanting and turned to Telem, smiling.  Telem’s expression was that of a man staring down his own death.  “What’s wrong?”

“What did you do?”  Telem’s voice was quiet.

“I did what you said.  I called to the spirits.  Something answered.  I thought that’s what we wanted.”

Telem shook his head.  “I wanted you to summon some wandering sprite.  Whatever’s coming isn’t some wandering sprite.  What did you do?”

“The summons.  That’s all.  You told me to focus and add power to the words.  That’s what I did.”    The cry was coming closer.  The strange vision overlay was wavering purple and growing darker.

“You added power.  You added power to the call?  How much power?”  Telem’s voice was rising.  There was a roar like an approaching storm but the trees didn’t sway.

Alvah shrugged.  “I don’t know.  I just wanted to make sure I was heard.”  The blue sky and darkening light was disconcerting.

“You were heard, boy.  But whatever’s coming isn’t something we can deal with.”  Telem grabbed his arm.  “We have to flee.  Now.”

Alvah shook the grip away.  “It will do no good.  You’ve dealt with benign spirits all your life.  They leave when they should and disappear if they are ignored.  If I’ve called something darker, it won’t leave because we did.  It will hunt me.  If I’m to face it, I would do so here, on my terms.”  He turned to face Telem.  “You should go though.  If the worst happens to me, so be it.  These spirits that live in the low places around the Earth can do little in the next life.  It can only hurt those that can call it.  I’ll move on.  You don’t get second chances Telem.”

Alvah could see the conflict on the man’s face.  But as the second sight darkened around them his expression became set.  “You are not the one who can release me from my duty, Alvah.

The boy nodded.  “Stay behind me.  And if something goes wrong give Niva my apologies.”

Telem stepped back.  “Why would my daughter need your–” Telem’s eyes widened.  “We have to talk about this.”

Alvah smiled and stared into the approaching darkness.  Man and apprentice stood, waiting their fate.

They didn’t wait long.  Inky blackness overwhelmed the sky and the shrieking cry blotted out all sound.  The wind that wasn’t there battered them and Telem rocked on his heels.

Alvah didn’t move.

A tear appeared in the darkness and un-light spilled out of it.  The slowly unfolding waves of darkness wrapped around man and boy.  Telem’s head twisted as he tried to follow the flowing darkness.

Alvah didn’t move.

A form emerged from the tear.  There was a feeling of immensity even though the figure looked small, as if by unfolding it could swallow the world.  It spoke and the voice was that of a thousand wracking coughs, the last pain filled breath of the plague victim.  “Who are you that would dare summon me?”

“No one summoned you creature.  You came unbidden.”  Telem’s voice was strong, unafraid.

The form followed the waves of darkness, circling them.  “You’re wrong mortal,” that sibilant whisper.  “I was summoned.  It was an open call, and there was so much power and yearning behind it.  I couldn’t help but answer.”  The form came to rest before them.  “Ah, I see.  The apprentice opened a door he shouldn’t have.  I should thank you, seer.  I’ve been waiting for an opportunity like this for such a long time.”  A palsied hand emerged from the shadows, reaching for Alvah’s face.

“Go back to your hole demon, while you still can.”  Alvah spoke for the first time.

The hand stopped.  Wracking, coughing laughter spit from the shadows.  “Who are you to command me, boy?  Your summons is why I’m here.  Your doom was writ by your own hand.”

“I know you, Resheph.  Go back to your feuding with Dever.  Go now while you still can.”  Alvah’s voice was changing, growing deeper, older.

“I will do no such thing mortal.  You’re just some boy who reached too far and will suffer the same fate as all over reaching fools.”  The other hand emerged.

“Look closer Resheph.  You have the eyes to see what I am.  Use them and then go while I still allow it.”

The hands paused.  Something shaped like a head tilted slightly to the side.  “You!”

“Me.  I’ve defeated you before.  Don’t make me do it again.”

The hands, the dark form, withdrew.  It swirled, staying clear of Alvah.  Then it went still.  “No.  I will have your power for my own Greysoul!”  Darkness swallowed the boy.  Resheph began laughing.

Three words thundered out from the middle of the darkness.  The laughter died as swiftly as it began.  The shadows whirled faster and faster.  Resheph began to cry out.  It may have been asking for mercy.

Golden light exploded.  Telem had to shield his eyes.

When he could look again Alvah stood alone.  The sky was clear and the valley was silent.  The nearest olive trees were blown over in a circle around them.  The distant sound of rocks tumbling down one of the valley walls broke the silence.

Alvah turned to Telem.  He looked as if we was about to weep.  “I’m sorry about your trees, Master.”