Sunday, 8 January 2017
Mamelon 2 - Chapters Eight and Nine
It was twilight in leafy Tunbridge Wells where Gail Wright was pacing her garden path. The boys were late home, very late. True, they may well have been invited to tea or supper at a friend’s house. It was not unusual, especially during school holidays when they seemed to think all normality was suspended. Even so, it was unusual that neither had called to let her know. Nor was either of her sons picking up his mobile phone. She frowned and tried in vain to ignore the suspicion threatening to drag body and spirit into a downward spiral.
Gail sighed. It would have to be an evening when Tim has to work late. I need him here. I can’t do this on my own. They are his children, too, for heaven’s sake.
A barely audible sound like a leaf rustling on the trellis of roses near where she stood startled her and caused her to turn sharply. An elderly but still beautiful woman, while hair piled high, stood in the trellis arch smiling at her with a radiance that was simultaneously comforting and alarming. “Mother…!”
“Yes, daughter, it is I, Etta, your mother. That is to say, my dream self so do not attempt to touch me.” The voice was as sweet and faint as distant birdsong.
“The children…” Gail began, but did not need to finish the question on her lips since she already knew the answer.
“They are in Mamelon, yes, but you know that. Ignore your innermost feelings at your peril, daughter. Heed them, and it can only be to everyone’s advantage.”
“Are they alright? Are they safe? No, they cannot be safe or you would not be here? Did father send you?”
“He does not know I am here. Not yet, anyway. Astor has troubles of his own.”
“The children…?” Gail was impatient for information and reassurance.
“Peter is among friends, but Michal…”
“He is in danger.” It was not a question. Etta nodded. “He needs me. That’s why you have come, to take me back.”
“You will come, of course.”
“Of course, although…” Gail hesitated. Etta lifted an eyebrow questioningly, full quivering with a hint of impatience. “He is alive?”
“He lives, yes.”
“Druids...” Her daughter’s gasp of horror told Etta she need say no more…yet. “They mean him harm. Their leader, Ygor, his magic is stronger than mine, much stronger. Yours, on the other hand…”
Gail pulled a face as she swallowed the bile that leapt to her throat. “Last time, coming back…it was hard.”
Etta, misinterpreting the other’s expression, commented dryly, “Coming or going back anywhere is always hard.”
“Tim…I need to leave him a note…” Desperately anxious though she was for her children, it was all happening too fast. Frantically, Gail played for time, knowing in her heart it was a pointless exercise.
“Tim was once a Holy Seer,” Etta pointed out, a cutting edge to the musical voice. “Do you honestly think he needs a note? He knows, just as you have known all the while you have been wearing out the stones on this path where you stand. He arrives even as we speak.” Almost instantly, the voice softened. “Time is not on our side, daughter. We both know it. Now, come, and be sure Timon will see you back safely.”
“The children too…?”
“The children too,” said Etta with a show of considerably more self-confidence than she was feeling.
“I promise. Now, come.”
Mother and daughter ran towards the house, Etta silently berating herself for making a promise she feared she may not be able to keep, Gail struggling to rise above a fear that had been stalking her for days with all the stealth and purpose of a would-be assassin.
In the bowels of Lunis, City of Moons, Ragund the Dark Mage stared in disbelief into the seer bowl. Nothing, I see nothing. What or whose are they, these forces that are bent upon foiling me at every turn? In so far as his plan was to keep young Michal out of Astor’s grasp and within his own, it had worked up to a point. Whoever had the upper hand in the young Motherworlder’s destiny would ultimately shape the destiny of all Mamelon. Astor was not easily distracted but he, Ragund, had succeeded where so many others had failed. So where am I going wrong? What am I missing? How is it that dastardly rogue druid, Ygor, has succeeded where I have failed? For it has to be he, there is no one else...
Only fleetingly did Ragund contemplate the possibility that he might have underestimated Astor’s powers. Who else but the White Mage, for example, could have enabled that fool, Ricci, to journey through solid rock? To create an illusion to fool the majority while allowing a select few to penetrate it, though, was one thing... “But it was no illusion, I am sure of it,” he muttered as anger gave way to frustration. Yet, if not Astor, who is taking sides against me and meddling in my affairs? Ragund continued to fume.
While Ragund knew he must never underestimate the she-devil, Galia, nor could he quite believe her powers were any match for his own. No, not even taking into account her relationship with that whore of a Magela, Etta. It was only to be expected that Etta would give her daughter what help she could, but that help was limited, surely? Beware, Etta, of trying to defeat my purpose for your own ends. I can destroy you at any time should so I choose, and well you know it. At the same time, the wily mage was well aware that, were he to carry out his threat, Astor’s revenge would put even their bitter rivalry in the shade. He sighed. Only if absolutely necessary would he dispose of Etta. Could it be possible that I still have feelings for her? He sighed again. What am I thinking? I must be getting old. Once, many lifetimes ago, he and Astor had been friends. Even now, he sometimes wondered how far loving the same woman, and Etta choosing Astor, had resulted in one friend choosing the path of Light and the other the path of Darkness.
Having only moments earlier attempted mind-talk with the Krill leader, Radik, and been thwarted every time, by what means he would give much to know, Ragund glared into the seer bowl. In vain, he drew upon all his energy to summon images that would tell him exactly what was happening at the heart of the Purple Mountains. Yet again, there was no response, the bowl as lifeless in his hands as the gold that shaped it.
Meanwhile, in another room nearby, Ragund’s consort, Shireen, was giving vent to frustrations of her own, not least by throwing every movable object upon which she could lay her beautifully manicured hands at its door and walls. “How?” she screamed, “How?” How could it be that Arissa, whose mind body and spirit she had taken for herself, corrupting the original to nothing more than kikiri, suddenly found a way to communicate with the very beings that threatened not only her, Shireen’s, ambitions but also her life.? “Who is doing this, who??” she screamed again. Not Ragund, she was certain of it. If he ever suspected she was plotting against him, he would destroy her as soon as look at her.
Shireen found herself drawn to the long mirror that stood against the north wall. Was it a trick of the imagination or had Arissa’s beauty started to fade? I cannot be as I truly am, I cannot she raged.
Pride and ambition aside, Shireen was in no doubt that Ragund’s rage would know no bounds were he to discover he had been making love to a shrivelled crone for the best part of a lifetime. Radik had guessed the truth and would remain a threat for as long as she had need of him. But of the Krill leader she was not afraid. Radik, she could manage until the time came when she would destroy him. No, it was only Ragund whom she had good cause to fear. Had she not witnessed at first hand the lengths of savage cruelty to which the Dark Mage would go in order to impose maximum pain on his victims, and lasting for as long as he so desired? Radik was a worm by comparison. Shireen smiled into the mirror and showed her gleaming white teeth. She would enjoy crushing the worm when the time came. As for Ragund, he too would discover that the woman whom he had bedded for the greater part of his life still had a trick or two up the sleeve upon which she wore her heart.
Shireen licked her lips with relish, only to freeze with shock and horror when the mirror image did not do the same.