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Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.
Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of language.
Chapter 27 of the book Quest for the Neckulet
The quest discover ancient writings.
"Writing in the Ruins"
In their quest for the stolen neckulet, Radolf and his friends must travel around Mageron to retrieve it.
Well past midnight, Jewelletta shook the mercenary. “Jahm,” she whispered.
Sleepily, he looked at her and pulled her into his arms. “I’m glad you’ve decided to curl up to me, Jewelletta. I was getting cold.” He buried his face in her raven hair.
Jewelletta smiled at first, comfortable in his arms. This is where I’d like to be. She let her yearnings get the best of her. I must stay in command of the group until Radolf is confident to lead. “It’s your turn for guard duty.”
Sheepishly, he cleared his throat. “Go to sleep, Jewelletta. I’ll keep watch for the rest of the night.” He caressed her hand.
She returned the gesture and climbed into her own skins. I need him more than I realize but to openly acknowledge it now would prove disastrous for us. I must stay in control of myself. That’s what made me a Majutsu Master. It will serve my purposes again.
With that thought, she drifted asleep.
By the time Jewelletta awoke, sunlight shone through the cracks in the walls. The others sat in a corner whispering to each other.
“It’s about time you got up.” Radolf grinned broadly. “You’re lazy this morning.”
“And you weren’t up half the night keeping watch.” She smiled, walked over and hugged him.
Even if I can’t accept Jahm’s affections, I can show my feelings for Radolf. He’s gotten to be like a son to me.
Radolf returned her hug and kissed her on the cheek. She needs the closeness as much as I do, and Jahm is more than willing to provide it to her. Why won’t she accept it?
Someone needs to guide us, Radolf, until you’re ready. Jewelletta is the oldest and wisest.
What makes you think I’ll be guiding us someday?
Instincts, and I, like Jewelletta, have learned to trust mine over the years. Just don’t worry about it. Grow and learn. Now where’s breakfast?
“Anarra’s complaining about being hungry.” Radolf gazed into the dailam’s twinkling blue eyes.
“And I’m afraid she might decide to sample us for breakfast if we don’t feed her soon.”
“She’s not the only one hungry,” Chrystella said. “If I remember right, none of us got any supper last night. Lunch was a long time ago. At least, she got a mouthful of meat last night. That’s more than we got.”
“We don’t have much of anything to eat,” Jewelletta said. “Go hunt, Anarra. You’ll have a full stomach then.”
She barked and ran from the ruins.
Someone shouted in Nolado and Veldestra outside the ruins.
“Our friends are back,” Jewelletta grumbled and arose. “They don’t give up, do they?”
“They are very persistent.” Vidad brushed dirt from his pants and stood.
“Can you understand what they’re saying?” Jewelletta turned to Vidad.
“They want us to come out,” Vidad said
“Sorry to disappoint them. I’d rather stay safely in here.” Jahm stretched.
The others nodded in agreement.
A grin spread across Jewelletta’s face. “Jahm, did your friend happen to say what the goddess Kaynora looked like?”
“No, and I don’t have the faintest idea either.” Jahm looked at her.
“Don’t look at me.” Vidad shrugged when the sorceress’ gaze turned his way. “I never heard of her until last night.”
“You have an idea?” Radolf asked.
“A germ of one anyway,” Jewelletta said. “But we need to find out what she looks like. If we can, I think maybe I can get us food and freedom.”
“Surely there should be a likeness of her in the temple,” Radolf commented. “I’ll go find out.”
He rose as Anarra bounded in.
“No,” Vidad ordered. “I’ll go. If you get caught, you won’t be able to defend yourself. I can speak the language enough. Anarra, will you come and be my guard? You can tell Radolf what I find if I don’t happen to get back. The rest of you can get out safely.”
Chrystella jumped up and threw her arms around him. “I don’t want you to go. Please be careful.” She kissed him.
Several seconds later, they broke apart. Vidad grinned. “Be back soon. Come, Anarra.”
Vidad crept from the rear of the ruins, carefully stepping over vines that could trip a person up. He circled around back of the temple, searching for an entrance. Something rustled near him, and he slipped into a clump of bushes. Two tribal men dressed in long gold and crimson ceremonial robes appeared. The tallest tapped on a stone three times, and when a door opened, they entered. It closed behind them.
“Looks like we’re going to have to do our snooping quickly and get out fast,” Vidad whispered to Anarra. “Well, at least I know how to get in. Maybe we won’t have to go far to learn what we want.”
Vidad looked around; no one approached them. He crept to the stone and touched it three times like the priest did. It slid open, and he and Anarra stepped in. His gaze darted around for possible trouble. When it closed, he turned around to find out how it opened. He pushed down on the handle, and the door opened again.
“Our way out,” he murmured.
He and Anarra stood in a workroom. Statues in various stages of completion cluttered the tables and shelves. Vidad ambled along the wall, examining them. He hoped to find out what the dark goddess looked like.
“Keep an eye and ear out on that door,” Vidad warned. “I don’t want our captors to find they have unexpected company nosing around their temple. Don’t think they’d take kindly to that.”
He finally came upon a picture at the far end of the room. A beautiful nude woman with fiery red hair and blazing green eyes opened her arms as if welcoming a lover. In front of her knelt a nude man, gazing up at her, his eyes glazed with lust. Underneath the caption read, “Kaynora and Krator.”
He slammed his fist on the wall as anger built within him. He searched the room only to find more nude golden statues of the goddess passionately entwined with different men in the act of love.
“Let’s get out of here before I destroy this place.” He spat and strode to the door. Vidad opened it, stepped out, and disappeared in the brush.
Adrenaline rushed through him like water over a waterfall, and blood pounded inn his ears as he ran for the ruins. He took deep breaths, trying to put that room and all its defiling art as far behind him as he could. Before entering, he paused and took another deep breath as Anarra sprinted in.
“Where’s Vidad?” Chrystella’s asked.
“Right here.” He came up from behind and hugged her.
Radolf embraced Anarra.
“Did you find anything?” Jewelletta paced.
“Yes,” he answered. “But you won’t like what I’ve found. Kaynora and Khlorae are the same goddess only they’ve managed to distort Khlorae and everything she stands for.” He told them what he had seen.
Radolf’s eyes narrowed, and his jaw tensed. He cursed them in Spatali.
“Radolf, I know how you feel but. . . .” Vidad started, but Jewelletta cut him off.
“Let him get it out of his system. You were furious when you came in. I guess it was for the same reason. If it would make us all feel any better, why don’t we all tell them what we think of their goddess.”
While others spat a few curses, Radolf still spewed off degrading names by the time the others finished.
“Are you almost finished, Radolf?” Jewelletta asked. “I need to get on with my plan.”
He grinned. “Yes, I’m quite finished. Actually, I ran out of names to call them.”
“Now I can cast an illusion on the front of the ruins and instruct the Kanballi to allow us safe passage through the jungle.”
“You think it’ll work?” The youngster inquired.
“That’s a stupid question,” Jewelletta scolded. “If I didn’t think it would work, I wouldn’t try it.”
Radolf hung his head. “Is there anything I can do to help?”
“No, as a matter of fact, no one can help.” She strode to the corner. “Leave me alone, so I can make my exact plans.”
The others sauntered to the far side and discussed their chances of getting out alive.
A short time later, the Kanballi shouted at them again.
“I sure hope she’s ready. I know your friend said they don’t come in here, but with our luck, this might be the time they get enough courage to brave the ghosts,” Vidad said.
Jewelletta left her corner and strode to the largest part of the ruins shielding them from the natives. She raised her arms in the air and chanted in magic’s secret language.
Outside, the natives quieted and intoned, “Adoree Kaynora.”
“I’m going to see what’s going on,” Vidad said.
“Be careful,” Jahm warned.
Vidad slipped out the back again, stepping over vine-covered stones. He stole around the ruins to the brush in front. Crouching behind a large bush, he peeked over.
A sea of green-skinned Kanballi, on their knees, continued their intonation. On the front wall, a woman in the image of Khlorae/Kaynora appeared. Fiery red tresses streamed down her back like a bright red waterfall. Her green eyes glared in anger like highly polished emeralds. Her skimpy halter kept her voluptuous breasts from spilling over, and the same material barely covered her feminine triangle. The fabric matched her eyes.
One of the natives whispered to the one next to him. The second rose and darted to the temple. A few minutes later, several priests, garbed in the same ceremonial robes he had seen earlier, joined them. They knelt, paying their respects.
Vidad recognized Jewelletta’s voice. “You have displeased me, my servants. You must not always believe everything your friends from the outside tell you. They have misled you. From now on, listen only to my commands and forsake those who do not dwell in my realm. Those people you captured are my Chosen Ones. They are on a mission known to only me. Your actions might have put my plans in danger. Feed them, give them provisions, and let them leave safely. Is this understood? Is there anyone out there able to speak to me?” The phrase came out with a touch of frustration and disgust.
“Oh, Your Eminence, Lady Kaynora.” A gray-haired priest raised his head to speak. “I am Vidallia, your most humble priest. We are intolerably sorry and ask forgiveness. Your mercy is great, Your Eminence. How must we atone for our sins?”
“Your promise to not disturb them except for food, drink, and safe passage is all I require. After all, you were led astray. Leave all food, water, and travel provisions at the entrance of the ruins. Only cheese, bread, vegetables, and cooked animal meat will suffice.”
“We will do as you asked,” he said.
“If you anger me again, I shall wreak havoc on your jungle. Keep the faith and trouble me no more.”
The goddess vanished. The jungle citizens rose and left.
After everyone had gone Vidad returned to the interior. “That was quite a performance, Jewelletta.”
“And I need to rest. It took more strength than I expected.” She collapsed. Jahm picked her up and laid her on her skins.
Jewelletta awoke several hours later to the smell of food. She sat up, yawing and stretching. Jahm and Vidad brought several platefuls of delicious aromas in the ruins. She stood and walked to the rest of her friends.
“Looks like the natives made good on their promises of food,” she sat. “And I’m starved after that difficult magic this morning.”
“Jewelletta to the rescue.” Radolf raised his bark mug. “What would we ever do without you?”
The others joined in the toast and drank. Jewelletta let the cool water slip down her throat. She bit into the meat. Musky and tangy, she decided it was some kind of wild boar.
Her gaze wandered to the walls. Someone scribbled all over them. She fidgeted, anxious to find out what it said.
After eating, Jahm returned their wooden platters to the front, but kept the cups and pitcher of water. He brought back twelve packets of jerked meat.
“Divide this among the packs. Hopefully, they’ll bring more.” Jewelletta strode briskly to the wall and pulled away the vines. “Help me clean this stuff off.”
They removed vines. Chrystella brought her some water, a rag, and passed out more to the others. Jewelletta scrubbed away centuries of dirt.
As they exposed more, Jewelletta jumped around. “I can’t decipher all these. But this one says neckulet.” Jewelletta wiped away more dirt.
“I have a steady hand,” Chrystella said. “And I have seen runes like this before.”
“Where? Can you tell us what they say?” Jewelletta asked. Her tone echoing a bit of breathlessness as her heartbeat increased.
“In some of the things my cousin Davanor brought back from Susjed. He studied at the university there. But I don’t know what they mean,” she answered.
A hush fell over them. Jewelletta’s shoulders slumped.
Radolf brought out paper, ink, and quill. “Here, Chrystella.”
She took them and copied as the rest cleaned off the walls. The sun barely peeked through the ruins when she handed the copy to the sorceress.
“We bring more food, water, and provisions as promised,” someone shouted. “Tomorrow when we bring breakfast, we will have freshly baked bread and goat cheese.”
“Thank you,” Jewelletta said in her Kaynora voice.
Once the noise outside quieted, Vidad and Jahm got the provisions and brought them in. Anarra left to hunt. At first, everyone ate in silence, but finally Jewelletta spoke.
“We leave first thing after breakfast. I know where we can get the runes deciphered.”
“Where?” Jahm asked between bites of meat.
“The monastery in Yasak Cliffs. It’ll be a hard climb. They should have old books of ancient writings in their library. I was there once though many years ago.” She paused to take a breath.
“That’s in the Tolsada Mountains,” Jahm said. “We have to go over them anyway to get to Veda.”
“I’ve heard of strange things happening at the Mavi Ocean. I should like to see if they are actually happening or if someone made them up. We go past it on our way to the cliffs.” Jewelletta said.
Jahm suggested, “If we’re going to get any early start, we’d better pack and get a good night’s sleep. I know the trail between here and the beginning of the Yasak Cliffs. It isn’t hard traveling. However, the foothills and the cliffs themselves are treacherous. And we’ve still got to make it through the jungle with its dangerous plant life.”
“You’re right.” Jewelletta handed her trencher to Jahm.
He and Vidad left them outside. Anarra returned from her hunt too.
“How far are we to the edge of the jungle, Jahm?”
“Not far, but maybe Anarra should scout for us.” He drank some water.
Anarra bounded from the ruins.
While she was gone, they packed more supplies and unpacked their sleeping skins.
She returned some time later.
“The main path is only a short way from here,” Radolf said. “It’s a few miles to the end of the jungle and the Mavi Ocean.” He hugged Anarra.
“Thank you,” Jewelletta said. “I don’t think we need a guard tonight.”
Like the others, the Radolf crawled into his sleeping skins, but his mind spun like a child’s top.
The legend did not mention the Mavi Ocean, but maybe Vatara’s awakening affected it. Or was it the other way around? An earthquake in the ocean? Hmm.
That whirled around until he fell asleep, too tired to ponder the problem anymore.
|The book continues with The Holy Fathers. We will provide a link to it when you review this below.|
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