In the Morning Twilight
In the dark morning twilight, group of crows leapt out of their niches – to find food, not for themselves but for their children. All at once it went from quietude, to a perpetual noise – throaty calls and the beating of dozens of wings. The sky, at the moment, was still mostly clear – though who would know what it would be like, natural or not. Loria look down at the two sleeping humans, covered by her gracious invisibility – and she touched them each on their forehead – giving them rest. She had other plans in mind. So she set herself off towards the east, with the foothills waxing and if one had good site – beyond them lies the mountains which are the pinnacle of any that are on Hârn, with its towering mountains holding the island in equipoise, not responding to tectonic shifts which other continents responded to.
The trees were few in number, for they were constantly cut down by both humans and other denizens of the wood. There were few that lived here, but many past through here – to make the pilgrimage to the Temple, the Temple of the Dead – or so it was called. Loria had been here many times, though she had forgotten most of them, except times which were special – such as when long-term resided here. There were stories about these times, which she had lived through. The son would come up behind her, and light her back. She suspected that there was something untoward at the Temple - and not is why, even for these times - there were few people making a pilgrimage. The likely course of action would be the consumption of pilgrims, because it had not gone around that something inhabited the Temple. She was there to find out – though every step was agony to her. The power to walk gateways was traced into her bones – and the power that guided this temple, and many others along Hârn, and throughout the world, and into other worlds was the same kind, but different in nature.
Keeping beneath the trees, as best that she could, she was watching both the long pool, and beyond it to the Temple. As things were, it was a very simple structure – not like so many that were ornate. Even at this distance one could see a circular dome, and she knew well that there were two flat projections – held up by columns. As was the nature of the earthmasters leader style, the columns ever so gently bent inwards – making it seem as if they were perfectly straight. It was a trompel'oeil.
She moved through the glassed sheened surface of the pool, knowing not to touch it for it was pleasant. The trees behind it had grown a little bit larger, making a rough projection of the trees in the backdrop, with the Temple at its midpoint, and gradually the projections upwards of temple columns, which were the same as the once which held up the annular dome. Even though she had seen this many times, it was still an odd vision – the pseudo-stone remained the same, while the pushes, trees, and even mountains changed with time. She could begin to see that the arched vault was translucent in color. She did not yet see if there were shapes which could tell you if anything living was in it.
Moving past the pool, carefully controlling her pace – such that even birds would not notice the movement she created – that came a point where she knew that there was something living in the Temple – and it was alive, not undead.
If she were being careful, she would have turned around – and walking her to companions, and explained that they would have to enter it from a more hidden angle. The curtain would not enter the room which held a tower, roughly 7 1/2 feet tall, of an obelisk. They, like her, would feel the pressure in their skull from the transformative pressure that radiated outwards from it. If one knew how to do it, one could touch it and allow anyone following you to disappear and then reappear in another place – though not a different time. That was a secret that if the earthmaster's knew it, they had not encoded in the designs.
But She was not so careful as this, and instead weaved from tree to tree, so as to find out both the kind and the number of the gargun. She could already smell them, including the rounded figure of the Queen, who laid eggs, and the King - for as long as he was able – for unauthorized them.
The pattern of her spell made it possible to walk among the living, and if she was careful, if they had detection if they did not look directly at her. In this case, she had tuned the spell to resonate with the gargun, making it more difficult for them to see her. But it was hardly an invisibility spell, and eventually they would catch her in the act.It was also getting to be dawn – and in an hour the sun would crest the Eastern rim of the sky. Thus she had to be careful, and their was that balance between hurrying up, and moving quietly. But this balance was ingrained into her bones, and she did not think much about it. Gradually she made her way past the pool, and was struck by the smoothness of earthmaster construction. There was nothing like it in the world, every scheme was perfectly constructed – not even the ornate puzzlement of dwarves had the same effect.
It was obvious by now that the male gargun were sleeping around the Temple. They were just inside so as to be hidden, but not much inside, because the noise would creep in two drives them mad. This was not the underlings idea, instead it was a trap. The only thing that was good for everyone was the feast of humans that came through, but that was not the point at all.
Now it was possible that the legionnaire would draw his gladus – the name he used for his short sword – and we had into the thicket. Or at least he would think about it, though he knew that be wrong. Very wrong, even all three of them together would not have very much of a chance, and would have to sneak away. The problem was there Queen – because she alone produced eggs. Without the Queen they would have two weight for two years before a new Queen was raised. And another year for she produced offspring. Then there would be a fight, and the new King would have to take time to mature. It was a long process if the Queen was killed. If she knew that her time was limited, she could produce new Queens, and a batch of new Kings – and they would be ready to take her place, and his place whether you liked it or not. But having a hive here was definitely not good.
What actually needed to happen than, was they would have two engage in stealthiness – which was not what the legionnaire did. Or not the first time, she wondered why had been attached to this mission – there was something in the mind of the human who did so. It could simple – like having the legionnaire report to his superiors on the continent – but that would be less ornate than would be expected. The great Empire on the land produced much more scheming minds, even if there was something really to scheme about. It also probably was not just to annoy them – because even a dunce could see that nothing could annoy either of the two women involved. At this point a human would indulge in conspiracy fantasies. In truth, there was a case to be made for some of them – but only in a passing manner. That left the dark conspiracies looming ahead – which she dismissed, but only because she knew where there were secrets to be had – such as the leader of the Morgath worship in the Western most city on hard was undead. He would not be able to keep it a secret mind you, but for the few years he did so, he would be an excellent spy. But this was in no way connected with any of the real conspiracies. There was bets that were made, with no interest has two the outcomes – save for the interest of the betting parties. She rather suspected that that was the case, because even gods and their minions like to wager on the goings on of mortals. That is because mortals had free will, and thus could surprise the gods. This was different from the elves, who could fool the gods in little ways, but over the large scale they would be themselves, and the gods knew that.
Or thought they did. Because there were certain caveats, such as the born not on this world, and worshiping not to of the gods or goddesses who had enshrined them selves over this land.
So instead of seeking a way – as a the would have done, nor stepping out and fighting, the way a warrior or mage – there was only two things that she had to know – where was the queen, and how did they have two kill her. The rest would play out the way they had wanted to, and she suspected that the way to kill the Queen was to get the Morgathi two do the deed. Because then she would have a surprise for the Lord God of death, they would step through pseudo-stone and vanish. Because the gods could not use the obelisk in that way, nor could any of their servitors.
At that point the trees had run out, and before her was the translucent dome, glowing with a light that was unnatural, for it did not come from the sun, or yael – the moon. So she had a choice to make, but she knew more about gargun then most people knew. One thing that she knew is that they were actually intelligent, as bright as a human being. But they did not live long, and therefore had no experience. So in quick judgments they were as nimble as any – but when it came to actually thinking, there they had problems. Which is why she was not going to reach into the Temple through the front way with her spell running, because even though it would confuse them for a few brief moments – they would eventually see her and attack her. And she healed very slowly, and eventually would be torn down.
Trickery was the answer – she gathered up small stones, which would be the road used by smaller gargun to beg for milk – and eventually she would throw them against the top of the dome, which would hit them from many directions. At that point, she made a guess that they would surround the Queen, which would be fine with her – because that would indicate where she was, though she was hidden. Then she would leave, because though and attack were possible – it probably was not going to succeed. And success, for an elf, was absolutely paramount.
The only thing that she needed to worry about, was the intrusion of others. Morgathi for most, but any undead or alive visitors who might be planning something. In other words, though she loathed to admit it, this would have to be luck – unless she had a plan. She thought for a moment, and realized she did not – though one would happen to her sometime later she supposed. That was the way of things – eventually you would come up with better solution, and implement it on some later moment. This is why humans pick a profession, so that they can use already planned out scenarios. This is why elves challenge enemies with different occupational hazards, and hope that they will not come up with anything better in the split second that they have two think about it.
So she girded up her legs and through herself into action.
All was according to how she planned it: the stones fell in random directions, the two guards woke up the sleeping ones, and formed a tight circle around the Queen, who was indeed hidden from view. Then they looked about for the danger, wall to nurse maids checked the little ones – in case they had wanted milk. She was going to sneak out. When something disastrous happened.
It was not that she did not expect it, but she did not expect it in the way that it happened. In a circle there were two gargun which had glowing eyes. And began attacking the other gargun. She could see that these were undead, and under the control of a black morgathi – who, like herself, was hidden outside the dome's light. She also knew that the undead creature would know exactly where she was, it was a gift to see in two the blind spectrum that bees and other things could see. She looked around, hoping to get a glimpse of the undead creature – because the gargun would handle their undead traitors with ease.
It was a race.
Somewhere in the tangle of bushes branches and tree bough limbs, there was a figure made out of dark, with only twin eyes that were white. And the only thing that she could look for was the hands that were shaping the conjuring part of a spell. It would be easy if someone pointed it out – and most hard if you had to be the first to see it. But the last catch was the hardest – when the hands stopped moving, she would feel a wave of pure hatred. And then nothing at all, she would be consumed into the shadow of the demigod – Klyss. Then, forever afterwards, there would be a sign that she was the underling of the dark God. What she knew, and few others did, at the very split second of the spell, she would have a choice. Go mad, or take the drink and be one with Klyss. No other choice was in any way – good. One was a torrent of madness, where one did not know that one served Morgath, the other one you knew you served, and had no choice about it. Was the lack of choice hanging over your head that led to despair.
It was almost up, this race – and she knew she was losing. Their was a distinct low sound – like the taming of a little drum – which said that her time was almost up. She looked up and to the Pine trees, and the Maple trees, and even onto the mighty oaks. She cast her glance down at the ground, both the grassy deck and the soiled earth – because it could seep deep in two the ground, with only its hands showing. But wherever she looked, or swept with her feet, there was nothing there. In the sky, in the trees, in the turf, and even below the ground, there was no sign of the Morgathi presence.
But then one of the living Gargun snapped his eyes up and to the left, and by instinct she knew that it was the shadow, and so pointed her bow at him and drew. Their was a short whistle, which was lower than any bow that humans drew, and one arrow – enormous in size, struck something, something which came from without, something which was not dead or living, but a queasy unlifelessness – which was not from this earth. There were no lights per se, but there was a distinct difference between dark, as morning were treated, and dark, as the other world made it. At this point, Loria poured another shot, and then another – and the blackness ran, though not in this world. She had not dispelled, it was she hoped it was going to recuperate in the land of Yashain, where it was reborn. But she was not sure.
She still had to avoid the living gargun, but that was significantly easier, especially as they needed to look for her – and she vanished behind an oak tree, a very old oak tree, dripping down one of its last mast of acorns. Then as the light grew stronger, she spirited away, eventually to tell her companions that they would have two find a different way through. Because this morgathi was not the one in the Barrows, but served him in looking for people ready, or unready, to serve his God. She knew that his power was much greater than hers, so it would have to be by treachery – which she could not use and would not discuss with anyone, because she was not sure, absolutely sure, that treachery would occur to either Gwynwyffer or the legionnaire. Sometimes she did not know what humans thought, it was a mystery, as the same went.
Then the sun came up and hit her face. The trees were knocked down, it was a ritual of the “barbarians”. Only she did not think of them that way, because only they met by pale moonlight with the dwarves and elves. They would share deep rituals that were from the older gods. The older gods that had learned that they should be secretive, and let the humans worship such pretenders as they did.
She cuffed her cloak, and proceeded in shadow. All the time figuring out what she was going to say, and how she would say it. Each time checking whether she would reveal things that humans ought not to know about either the elves, in general, or herself, in particular. Though she did wonder about what went on in the heads of humans, for example, why did so many of them fill the syllable “Mor” and ”Mur” with the air of death.