"Draw your chair up close to the edge of the precipice and I'll tell you a story." ~F. Scott Fitzgerald

06 May 2010

a new way...

Alright, so I've decided not to keep putting every bit of my story online. Instead, I'm just going to post some of my favorite sections and leave it at that.

This next little bit comes at the end of Syndria's stay in Caron. This is also one of the first introductions to some of the...magical, I guess is the best word, stuff in the story. So, here goes!

“So far, no one has had reason to doubt Sir Lawrence’s loyalty or my identity, so we are in no hurry.” Syndria spoke quietly, suddenly much calmer than she had been in the city streets just moments before. “If I am correct, this gate you and the Councilman speak of is the one used by the last True Wizard in his escape 600 years ago. Searching will accomplish nothing. This gate opens on its own, but only to those deemed pure of heart.” the Healer stood before the wall only a moment more and then turned away. As she walked toward the bench in the center of the garden, Syndria spoke quietly. “Come. Rest a moment and wait.” Frederick reluctantly followed. Usually a man of action, the young man couldn’t understand waiting for a hidden gate to open on its own. However, he could not bring himself to go against the wishes of a Healer and sat down beside Syndria. Still tense, he was startled when the Healer suddenly got off the bench and knelt beside the pond.
“Are you positive that the gate is located in the wall, or is it just found somewhere in the garden?” she asked, her voice suddenly excited.

Frederick thought for a minute before replying. “I suppose I made the assumption that the gate is located in the wall, since that is the only logical place for a gate to be found. Perhaps it is possible for the gate to be somewhere else, though I do not see how.”

“It is not only possible, it is most likely,” Syndria said. “A gate in the wall would be visible from the other side, and the walls outside the city are kept clear of foliage. This is the gate,” she finished, staring down into the water.

Frederick said nothing. Though he feared the girl before him must be crazy, the last five years Frederick had spent every day in Guardsman training, in part learning the proper etiquette of the Royal Court. During that time, Frederick had learned that the Guards were never to argue with the Healers, and he assumed that rule still held true when said Healer had apparently lost her mind. So he knelt next to Syndria, hoping she would not waste too much time staring into the water. Something deep in the pond caught his attention just then, a tiny glimmer in the darkest waters. He leaned closer, straining to see the mesmerizing light. As he drew nearer the strange light seemed to grow and change, taking on a yellow glow and dancing in the water. As he watched, the light spread to encompass the entire pool. The water, the plants in the water, the fish--everything disappeared, swallowed up by the light. Beside him, the Healer stood and stepped into the light. Frederick’s hand shot out, ready to catch her when she fell into what had been a deep pond just moments ago. However, when she stepped the light vanished as suddenly as it had first appeared, revealing a steep spiral staircase disappearing into darkness.

Syndria never hesitated. She hurried down the stairs into the dark, calling back, “If you wish to accompany me, you had better follow quickly.” Glancing around, Frederick sped down the staircase behind the Healer.

Much to her surprise, the staircase that had appeared in the pond wasn’t slick or even too dark. Though there were no torches or lamps lighting the path, Syndria had no problem seeing what lay before her. When she looked back, however, she could see nothing but blackness. She knew Frederick had followed--she could hear his footsteps falling behind her--yet she hadn’t seen him since she started down. Once the Healer reached what seemed to be three stories underground, the stairs began to lose their steepness. Soon the path was flat, and much wider than the staircase had been on the way down. As Syndria looked around the tunnel around her began to lighten. Soon she could see not just the path before her but also the rock walls on each side of her. The young Healer stopped, her breath taken away by the beauty she was seeing. The stone glittered as if it held some growing light inside, shining through and giving life to the intricate carvings which covered every inch of the tunnel walls. Lines swirled and spiraled from floor to ceiling, all weaving together to form designs Syndria had never seen, even though she had spent her life in the castle. Nothing King Simann’s artisans could create even began to rival these walls. The swirls and spirals seemed to be moving, winding their ways up the wall or down the hallway, flowing streams of gold and silver. Any trepidation the Healer had felt when she first stepped into this enchanted underground world melted away. Somehow Syndria could just feel that this was a safe place.

“This is amazing,” Frederick said in awe, coming up beside Syndria. “It is hard to imagine that I have lived my whole life with this under my feet and never knew.” He started toward the wall with his hand stretched out, drawn to the shining streams. As her escort moved closer to the wall Syndria began to feel uneasy. Just when she opened her mouth to tell Frederick she thought it would be a bad idea to touch the wall, he did.

Nothing happened. “It feels like glass.” Frederick gently glided his hand over the ribbons of gold and silver. Syndria silently chided herself for giving her doubts and fears room to grow as Frederick let his hand drop and took a step back toward the Healer. As soon as he set foot back on the path, a strange sound began buzzing through the tunnel. The shining metallic ribbons suddenly grew brighter, filling the underground passageway with blinding light. The buzzing shot up to a deafening roar, crushing the two intruders under its weight. Syndria felt her knees buckling, saw Frederick crumble to the path beside her, but she refused to fall. Though the pain was tremendous and flooded her body from head to toe, the Healer had spent most of her life taking excruciating pain upon herself. She dropped her hands from covering her ears and forced her eyes to open despite the light. Before her, forming out of the gold and silver streams, was a figure.

It didn’t look exactly like the form of a man, but Syndria couldn’t describe it any other way. There was no face, but somehow the young Healer could still see expressions she recognized. The first emotion she saw was surprise, seemingly a reaction to her stand against the pain. That was quickly followed by recognition. Syndria couldn’t understand how, but she was sure that the presence not only knew her, it knew everything about her in an instant. The young Healer felt her every fault being revealed in the searing light. The knowledge that someone, or something, could essentially see right through her made Syndria feel weak, a feeling she wasn’t used to experiencing as a Healer. That was when a thought occurred to her. This gate was thought to only open to those pure of heart, but perhaps that was not the case. Maybe it opened to anyone who knew it was there and determined worthiness and intentions once the traveler ventured down into the tunnel.

Syndria fought the urge to fall to her knees under the weight of her faults. Instead, she struggled to think about her strengths and the purpose of her journey, hoping the being she faced would deem her worthy of the path she followed. Then as suddenly as the presence appeared it vanished.

The Healer felt a great weight lifting off her shoulders as she blinked rapidly, trying to make her eyes adjust once again to the dim light inside the passageway. Looking around, all seemed to be as it had been. The gold and silver streams wound their way up the walls and down the length of the tunnel, stretching as far as Syndria could see in the soft light. She looked back expecting to see Frederick where he had fallen when the mysterious presence had first appeared. No one was there. She started back, went a few steps, and then realized she had to keep moving forward. She didn’t know what had happened to Frederick, but if she was right about the passageway he had been proven untrue to her path. She took a deep breath, picked up the pack her escort had been carrying, and walked on. To where, she didn’t know. Once she reached the surface again, Syndria knew it would be almost impossible to know who to trust. If necessary she would avenge Nedra’s death herself, though she hoped it would not come to that. Surely she would find others who could see Simann for what he really was.
“What do you mean, ‘He lost her’?” Ilcren raged, flying to his feet. The man before him flinched but stood their ground. They were used to the Wizard’s temper and knew he needed them too much to cause them any harm--at least for now.

“They went into some kind of gate behind Councilman Lawrence’s house where Frederick says they met some kind of horrible beast. It knocked him to the ground with one clawed paw and the next thing our guard knew, he was once again standing in the Councilor’s garden,” Erik answered. The Guardsman responsible for the district of Rues, Erik had been put in charge of finding someone unknown to the Healer who would be able to get close to her, someone loyal to Ilcren yet trusted by the Councilman. Frederick had been a perfect choice. His younger brother was already close to the Councilor’s daughter Lydia, so it proved simple to have young Fitzgerald suggest his brother escort his own date’s “cousin.”

“I had her in my grasp,” Ilcren hissed, his eyes sparkling, “and you fools let her slip away! You must find her. I will not let the enemy have her and have the ability to be healed to attack more than once.” The Guardsmen stood still, not knowing if the temperamental wizard was finished with them yet or not. If he was, waiting a moment more would be nowhere near as ad as leaving too early if he had more to say. “What are you waiting for? Go find her--and bring the Councilman to me!” With a slight hand motion, Erik led his guards out of the room.

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