As Jinnink began to set, I was able to find a little hollow for us to camp. It was only a small shelter for my ebrilli (companions) to lick our wounds after our losses. I said a prayer to the Wild. Under the moon I continued to pray for the power of nature to make me the channel for the speed of the birds, to hear the voice of the wind and gain the strength of the trees. After that I wiped the gore off my armour and weapons. I was tired but did not feel the pull of sleep. I needed to understand the rush of days since I had been Taken. Prophecy and madness cannot be sorted out from the back of a galloping horse or in an impossibly above the treetops looking down at Turminim Senitiaria. I need to understand the track that was my path. I was meditating about the past day and struck by a waking dream. I did not fall asleep. I knew that. (See Janarl and the Lonesome Path)
Images flashed through my mind like the rushing wind of a hurricane.
I could see myself from above near the forests of Firus Somak running with an orc and a human. It is like I was reading a story in a book. It was Berrona Umberfreeday, I am certain. That was Durgun and Donovan as we ran from the Zealots of the One not a week ago. It must have been a dream. Within this dream that was not a dream, I could once again hear the cicadas again but could do nothing. I screamed but no sound came out even as the light flashed again. Suddenly I was lying on the ground inside my body. I could sense Donovan and Durgen on both sides of me: I could smell the warm soil of the Somak not of Turminim Senitiaria. I strike to rise but cannot. Sentar itself seemed to be holding me down. There was only Darkness like filul.
My vision turned on a point. I hear the cicadas and go unconscious. I awoke alone and to the sounds and smells of the Enclave. I stood and looked for any other only to hear the voice of Argea. She said, “Janarl, you have been Taken. This is not as it should have been. It should have been a momentous religious experience but events have transpired to change how things are to have come about. In four days from now, you and your brillihand will pass under the Wall and fight a large battle with a necromancer. Nimbus and his father will Fall…” Kiucaos! Taken and afloat in time…
The scene turned on a point and changed to a dark riverbank.
“You are now on the River Styx and soon you will meet those two and another of your band. I am Rif’t and I am what you call the In-Between Men. We have a task for you all for which you have a unique role. We need you to find one of our own that became undead in your world when he was left behind. We will send you to Eoport twenty years ago to slay this bodak. This bodak was captured by an Avolakia called Oesslen.”
I saw Nimbus and Rin step towards me from the darkness. They then turned to look at a magician of unimaginable age that came from the other direction. In spite of his outlandish dress and incredible age, he seemed familiar. He walked up to Nimbus and they began to talk. It occurred to me that these men were related: father and son! Impossible! This is pure kiucaos! It was unfathomable. The levels of this cavern called prophecy are more numerous than the layers of a sharproot bulb.
The necromancer was called Mastof and him and Nimbus talked for some time about family business. Argea appeared again and said, “All is ready.”
Time turned on a point and we arrived at the dockyards in Eoport. Mastof took us to the House Leuette. Mastof arms myself and we found his sister, Aea. I watched Mastof in his room while the others searched the House. It was a long hour sharpening my khukuri…
I was brought in to the dining room and presented as a curio to Oesslen. Aea demanded that I remove my mask. I refused.Oesslen wanted to examine me in the dungeons below as part of some evil in his heart. Oesslen lead us below with Mastof, Nimbus and Rin. In the examining room, Oesslen challenged Mastof and they began to argue. Oesslen began to talk of the Bodak and a price for it. Mastof and Oesslen began to fight and he became the monstrousity of an Avolakia. Finally, Mastof struck him with lightning and Oesslen yielded. He offered the Bodak to us and Aea appeared. Oesslen stated a price of forty zombies for the Bodak and Mastof began to summon them. I struck him twice with Woodclaw to break his spell but raised two foul undead anyways. Rin and I vanquished them quickly.
Another argument broke out among Oesslen, Mastof and Aea. At one point Nimbus and Mastof left to get involved in some other kiucaos. Nimbus was able to get possession of some part of Mastof’s body that Aea had taken. Addled before they were set into the egg!
Eventually, Nimbus convinced her that he spoke for the Arbiters of the House and wanted to stop her from harming it with this Bodak. She agreed and we all set off to a cavern by the seaside late in the night. Oesslen had bound the bodak in the cave but it was still capable of using its hideous gaze to kill. We did not trust Mastof to fight with us so we three went into to dispatch it. I used a thunderstone to initiate our attack as we struck with averted gaze. I shot at it rapidly as Nimbus and Rin pummeled it. As I went to fire, I saw its burning eyes and all went black…
I awoke at the River Styx with Rin and Nimbus lying beside me in the cold, black sand. Apparently all of us had succumbed to its gaze and Mastof had rescued us. Clearly he saved us and in doing so had changed the past. Argea appeared before and said, “It is Time for you to be Taken. You will remember all of this only when it is right. While your memory fades though, hold in your heart the light that some good resulted here…”
Nimbus’ goal of redeeming his father may have succeeded. Perhaps there was a bottom to this swamp of filul after all…
Or was it? I calmed my mind and focused on the moon just setting behind the Firus Somak again, that fearsome woman Jinnink still laughing at me for my weakness. I was back to my time or was I not? I was like a biauya euu (literally a “baby caught in its egg”). That is when he appeared. I saw his face come out around the nearest tree. Or maybe it came out of the tree, I could not tell since I was looking at Jinnink. She still mocked me as I was helpless on the ground. He stretched out his thin blue arm to me and I rose to my feet. There was only him and I remaining: my companions were taken from me. All around us was swirling mist and he just continued to smile.
Finally, the mist cleared to a beautiful sunny day in a green forest that smelled like home. He spoke in a voice that was as calming as a mountain brook but eyes were black and cold like glacier ice: “Ah Janarl, you struggle and run and yet you are getting nowhere. Did Argea teach you nothing? Well I know she did teach you something for I was never far from you while she did. Yet you seem to have forgotten some things in your rush to learn other things. These humans in which are in brillihand have shown you bad habits. I have much work to do.”
“Who are you, faerie?”
“Ah you do remember some things. Very good”, he smiled and gestured for us to sit down. The sun was warm on my back as he spoke again, “I am Glanconer and you are right I am of the faerie. I am distant family of Argea and I am here to show you the Way of the Wild.”
“I know the Way. I learned it in the brooks and trees of the forests of Argea through many seasons. I follow the Path. I have not forgotten her lessons or the face of my father. I track with humans and yet my skills are sharp like needles on a cactus,” I said as I snarled.
“Oh yes, you track and you stalk like a wolf. You can strike down on your enemies like raven out of the sun. That is well enough and I do not need to teach you more about that. But you show the power and sense of a windstorm. That is what you have learned from your human ebrilli.”
Glanconer placed his hand on the ground next to a beautiful purple flower, lpurl bilius. On it was a spider was busily making a web.
“Janarl, this spider will survive the windstorm for all its strength and fury. The windstorm will rage and spend its strength and the spider will still be here achieving its purpose. In spite of its size, it knows more about this flower and this grass and the trees than you can hope to achieve. There is subtlety and power in a single blade of grass that you cannot imagine yet but you ignore at your peril. That is what I can teach.”
I looked at the spider and imagined its webs stretched in the wind but not breaking. I thought of the spider and its relentless labours to catch its prey even before the sun touched the morning dew. Argea had spoken much on this when I was younger but I rarely listen