Magician Chronicles: The White Daffodil - Part Two
Light from the torches flickered in the ascending stone staircase. The sounds of a march echoed off the stone as Torin and his guard started to climb the stairs. To the top of the tower they were going to bring their collections to the King in his throne room. As they climbed, they passed many hallways and doors. One door in particular was barred, unwelcoming to any visitors.
"I have always wondered what the King hides in that room, haven't you?" whispered a Kougra guard to a Bori, who nodded his head in agreement.
The guard moved on up the stairs, marching on at a constant pace until they reached a pair of doubled door detailed in gold and silver. Torin knocked once on the door and faintly heard a voice say, "Come in."
Opening the door, the guard marched into the throne room, which was cluttered with the King's treasures. In the corners piled high were stacks of gold and jewels, behind the throne boxes were overflowing of silver. Along the side of the wall sat an old Zafara wearing royal robes; it was he who had called Torin into the throne room. Yet the old Zafara looked like a worn out rag doll that had been played with too much when compared to the figure in the large gold throne, a royal Kyrii who looked strong and was well dressed in gold and silver. When the guard reached the bottom of the throne, they bowed down to the ground.
"Your majesty, we have brought the collections to you," said Torin, his head still bowed. The King reached down and plucked a silver necklace from Torin's arms.
He sighed, frustrated. "Put it in with the previous collections..." the King grumbled as he tossed the necklace aside.
"Yes, your majesty," said Torin and he motioned to his guard to do the King's binding.
"Torin, look out the window," said the King.
Torin noticed a ring of boredom in his voice. "Yes, your majesty." And he stood up and looked out the large window which the throne faced.
"Tell me, Torin, what do you see?" said the King.
"I see your city, your majesty. Your beautiful-"
"Don't lie about my city," interrupted the King. "I do not see beauty when I look down upon the roofs, nor do I see the villagers paying respect to my rule."
"If you want, sir, the guard can fix that. I can strike fear into their hearts so that they bow toward your window every morning, and bring feasts for you during the day," replied Torin.
"That will not do," said the King as he looked away from his city, out past the stone walls that protected the kingdom. "My heart aches, Torin, I have drained the riches from this kingdom, I control those unhappy villagers by removing all of their power. I could care less if they bowed to me and showed me praise, as I know it would be false. No, Torin, I want to leave this kingdom."
"Your majesty?" said Torin, now confused.
"I want to go out there into the wilderness and tame it. Bring its power back to my kingdom where I can control it, just like I control the silly little people of this city." The King sat back, a large smile now spread across his face.
"You speak of foolishness, Salamen." The old Zafara had spoken up. "You cannot just wander out into the wilderness and tame it so easily."
"That is King Salamen to you, old fool!" spat the royal Kyrii from his throne. "How dare you try to try to push your failures onto me. I am the king now, not you! And I will not fail like you. For I will be the strongest and most feared of all in this land. I will tame the wilderness and the lands that lie beyond the forest that you old man, are so afraid of." King Salamen stood up in his throne, glaring down upon the Zafara.
"Torin, take him from my sight; he is a bother to me." King Salamen stepped down from his throne and put his paw on the window, a devilish smile on his face. "And then, Torin, you shall wander into the forest and tell me of your findings. Go now."
"Yes, your majesty," replied Torin as he grabbed the old Zafara by his arm and led him out of the throne room.
"Isanu, do you mind going out into the forest and bringing me back this list of supplies?" Aierania said as she picked up plates from the table ending their breakfast.
"Sure thing, Mom!" a happy teenage shadow Krawk replied. "It is a beautiful day. I would love to go wander the forest." Aierania handed him a list and a small leather bag to collect the flowers, nuts, and roots she needed. Isanu took both items, walked through the door and waved goodbye to his mother, who smiled back.
Once outside, the young shadow Krawk ran happily around the large trees and skipped off of the uprooted rocks. As he played in the forest, Isanu grabbed the items that Aierania requested as he came upon them. The Krawk enjoyed being outside very much, which was probably a good thing as it was all he had ever known. And just like his mother, Isanu had grown up with a love for the wilderness. His mother had taught him to survive out in the wild, how to navigate by reading the stars, how the sense bad weather before it came. She had also taught him about the many plants that she had collected and how to care for them properly. Isanu had one secret from his mother, though, and that was where he was going now, to his secret place.
Isanu had loved his mother's garden very much, yet it was not his own. Many years ago he had wandered farther than he ever had; he had found the edge of the forest, where the tree and the cliffs met. And that is where he had made his own garden. Many of the flowers he had found himself while exploring the forest, some of the plants were grown from a single leaf cutting from his mother's garden. And then, some of the flower had just appeared in Isanu's garden, like magic.
Once the cliffs were in sight, Isanu knew he was close. He had also collected almost everything on his mother's list as he journeyed to his garden. Bounding past the last few trees, Isanu came to where the forest and cliffs met; he saw his garden to the right, striving in the morning light. Walking through the dirt entrance he had made, Isanu walked to the back of his garden, where he had planted two rose bushes. Underneath them sat a bucket. The forest had not had rain in many days; his garden would need to be watered. Thankfully a small stream ran nearby, where Isanu gathered some water in his clay bucket and returned to his garden and started watering his plants. He had to make quite a few trips to water his garden; it had grown to such a large size over the years of his collection. After an hour of watering, Isanu had watered everything but his single white daffodil. This plant was his favorite out of his collection, for Isanu had never seen another one like it. Even his mother did not have one, and never in his exploring of the forest had Isanu come across another like his daffodil.
Running back from the stream, Isanu had the last bucket of water that he needed for his garden, but before he entered his garden to water the daffodil, Isanu stopped dead in his tracks. There, in the center of his garden, stood a stranger.
The stranger appeared to be a maractite Eyrie. His back was turned to Isanu. He seemed to be overlooking the garden. The Eyrie must have sensed Isanu's return, for when the Krawk had stopped in his run, the Eyrie spun around and smiled. "Your garden reflects the delicate work that you have put into it," he said with a smile. Still shocked and cautious of the stranger, Isanu only nodded to the comment.
"Someone with such knowledge might be able to help me then," the Eyrie continued as he pulled his hand from his robes. "You see, I have badly burned my paw, and I am no expert in the healing powers of plants. I was hoping you could help me."
Isanu didn't see any harm in helping the stranger, and he had just the plant. "Yeah, I can help you." Isanu walked past the Eyrie and turned left to a smaller part of his garden that was made of sand. "I know that I always use a White Squid Root to heal minor burns, and I happen to have some in my seaside plants I have collected." Isanu dug through the sand, searching for the root. "You see I wanted to grow the seaside plants up here so I moved this sand up to my garden along with the root so I could grow them. This way then I don't have to travel to the ocean to collect them."
"I see," replied the Eyrie. "You must not be afraid to leave the forest even though there are many dangers."
"My mother taught me how to protect myself," Isanu said as his right hand touched the root he was looking for; he knew this of course because the White Squid Root had tentacles just like a real squid. "I am not afraid of what I don't know; I have been taught to survive. Besides..." He stood up now with the root in hand. "This forest has just as many dangers as the ocean or beyond."
"Well spoken," the Eyrie said. "Now what must be done to the root?"
"We need to place it into a fire until it turns black, then crush the remains and spread them on your burn," stated Isanu and the Eyrie smiled.
"Then we shall need fire. Come, my cave is not far from here. We can build a fire there and enjoy a cup of tea."
Something about the Eyrie caused Isanu to agree and to follow him. He was interested in him and how he had come to find his garden and seek his help.
"Oh, and you can call me Rai," the Eyrie said as he lead the way towards the cliffs.
"And I am Isanu, nice to meet you," replied Isanu, as he followed the Eyrie.
The duo wandered up the cliffs. Isanu was amazed by the view of the cliffs as they over hung the ocean below. A thick mossy vine had covered the sides of the cliffs, and Isanu could not help but want to try to take some back to his garden and grow it. "I know what you are thinking, Isanu," said Rai without looking at him. "And I would suggest against it; this type of vine will overtake the ground wherever it has planted. It also lives off of the salt that it gets from the ocean spray," Rai informed him, and Isanu nodded still and wondered how the Eyrie knew what he was thinking.
Then suddenly Rai jumped down off the side, landing on a small walkway below the cliffs. Isanu paused, looking down. "I thought you said that you did not fear the wilderness, Isanu," Rai said in a taunting voice.
An adventurous smirk came across Isanu's face as he jumped down to the walkway. "I'm not afraid, Rai. Lead the way."
Walking carefully along the walkway, the two made their way around to the other side of the cliff, Isanu paused to stare at the beautiful sight he could see out over an ocean harbor. On the other side stood a tall castle. "Are there others over there?" he asked Rai, who nodded as he stopped along a flat face of the cliff that was covered by the vine moss.
"And now do you want to see the special ability of these vines?" Rai looked back at Isanu, who nodded.
With a swift stroke of his paw, the Eyrie cut through the thick growth of the vines. "Quickly!" Rai shouted as he jumped forward, Isanu nimbly following. Rai's urge to move fast was soon apparent as the vines he had cut down quickly start to grow back into place. Within a few seconds the vines had recovered the area that Rai had chopped away.
"I see why you said not to take any with me..." Isanu said as he gazed amazed at the vines. "What an interesting ability...."
Rai had walked over and had started a fire before Isanu could turn around. "How did you do that?" Isanu gasped in more amazement. "You started that fire so quickly; there is no way that it was-"
"I will go get us from tea leaves. Please place the root into the fire," Rai stated, purposely cutting Isanu off. The Krawk did as he was told and placed the White Squid Root into the fire as Rai came back with makings for tea.
As they waited for the fire to die down, Isanu sipped his tea without speaking to Rai. He stared into the flames of the fire still trying to figure out how the Eyrie could have created it so quickly when it took him and his mother five times as long. The fire slowly began to subside and Isanu looked at Rai.
"Let me see your paw now," Isanu said as he grabbed the root as Rai held out his paw. Crushing and smearing the burnt root on the burn, Isanu looked up at Rai. "There you go. Just leave it on for a day or so and your burn will be healed."
"Ah, but it seems that it already has healed," Rai pointed out. "Thank you for your expertise."
"What, but how?" Isanu was dumbfounded again.
"Never mind now. In return for your help I would like to present you with a gift tomorrow. Come back around noon. I take it you can find your way?" Isanu looked into Rai's eyes. He was intrigued to come back and find out the many tricks that Rai knew. Isanu nodded in response.
"Good, but you must bring something along with you," Rai continued, still looking into Isanu's eyes.
"And that is?"
"Your white daffodil flower; it must be brought up here just after it has been picked," Rai stated.
For a moment there was silence as their gaze was unbroken. Did Rai know that the white daffodil was his most favorite and rarest plant? Picking off the flower would surely kill the plant. Isanu might never find another one, and would he kill his favorite plant to receive a gift from a stranger? But yet something in the Eyrie's eyes told him that the gift would be something of greatness, something that he could never gain again in his life. Finally Isanu nodded in agreement and Rai smiled. "You've made an important choice, Isanu. Now I suspect your mother is growing worried about you. It is time for you to return home."
Isanu nodded again and cut the vines to leave the cave, and as he wandered back home, he suddenly wondered how Rai knew about Aierania.
Torin was troubled by his mission from King Salamen. He himself had never stepped outside the wall that protected the city. Yet now he had been instructed to do so. He worried for his life that such a mission would not allow him to come back to his home. He feared the forest just like so many of the other villagers; they had been taught to fear the forest by the previous king. Before Torin was to leave the city, he stopped into a popular eatery before his mission, maybe his last mission. Sitting down at an empty table, Torin gazed outside the window as a Lenny brought him his favorite drink. This was his favorite place to eat after all and the workers knew that the fury of the king would be unleashed if they did not serve Torin well. But today he did not feel like arguing with the waitress or the cook. He gazed outside the windowm pondering what was to come.
"This city has fallen to its greedy ruler."
Torin glanced over his shoulder, trying to spot who had said that.
"I agree with you completely. I saw that the guards raided your house last night. Are you okay?" said a Korbat to the Lupe that Torin had collected from the night before.
"They took everything; I have no idea what I am to do when they come back again. I have nothing left to give. That king has ruined everything that I had and held dear," said the Lupe to the Korbat.
Torin had heard enough of bad talk of King Salamen. These villagers needed to have a lesson taught to them, and it was obvious that taking their belongings was not good enough. But before Torin could stand up to take action, the Korbat spoke again.
"I know how you feel," replied the Korbat. "I hate the king as much as you, though I blame the magician up in the cliffs."
"Yeah," grumbled the Lupe. "Things would be better without that magician. Think of how different things would be!"
That information stopped Torin from taking action. He had never heard of a magician that lived high in the cliffs... Did the villagers know something that King Salamen did not? And then an idea came to Torin; he would run back up to the castle and tell King Salamen of this good news. A magician would be able to give him the power that King Salamen was longing for. Leaving the eatery without paying for his food, Torin ran back up the streets to the castle. He swung open the doors and ran towards the staircase that would take him up to the throne room. Torin didn't listen to his body as it ached with pain as he took the steps two at a time; and when he reached the throne room doors, he didn't even bother to knock as he barged in.
"Your majesty, King Salamen, I bring news." Torin panted at the back of the throne.
"And what would it be that made you come to me so urgently? It must be very important for you to forget to knock," replied King Salamen. His voice sounded annoyed that Torin could have done something so awful as not knocking.
"King Salamen, there is a magician that lives up in the cliffs across the harbor."
"What?" This had caught the king's interest now as he stepped off his throne down to Torin's side. "Good job, Torin. I knew I could count on you. Gather all of your guards. We leave at once. With haste we can be there by evening. Go now!"
Doing as he was told, Torin sprinted from the throne room and gathered his guard. He had them sharpen their weapons and get the royal carriage ready for travel. When King Salamen walked down from his throne, he was pleased to see his guard ready and mounted on their Unis for fast travel.
"Torin, you shall lead this expedition. I want to be there by the time the sun sets," commanded King Salamen as he stepped into his carriage. Torin nodded as he lead the guard at a dead run out of the kingdom grounds and through the forest and on to the seashore.
For hours, they ran at a breakneck pace until they reached the bottom of the cliffs by the ocean. When Torin halted his Uni, the guard did as well, and King Salamen stepped out of his carriage.
"Torin, cut down the vines; we need to climb the cliffs!" King Salamen ordered. Torin turned and hacked away at the vines with his axe, but with every swing he made the vines just grew back into place.
"Your majesty, it is no use!" Torin called back. "These plants keep growing back faster than I can remove them."
"I see...." The king glared at the vines, knowing that if he was to find the magician he would need to remove the vines to reduce cover and allow his men to climb the cliffs. "Then fetch a torch from my carriage, and find wood. We shall see how fast these plants grow as they are being burned!"
The guards did as they were told and gathered nearby wood from the few trees, building many small piles of wood they set each of fire under the vines, which could not re-grow fast enough to compete with the flames. Soon the cliffs had a raging fire spreading up the vines towards the top.
"And now we climb!" shouted King Salamen as he led the group up the cliffs, where the fire had destroyed the vines leaving a path to follow. As they got closer to the top, King Salamen noticed the cave that they were nearing. "Torin, take your men and investigate the cave."
Following orders, Torin and four others walked past King Salamen and neared the cave.
"Have your weapons ready, men," whispered Torin outside the cave entrance; and then they ran in, charging the Eyrie that was sitting on the ground, waiting for them.
"I am sad to see you like this, Torin..." Rai said with a sigh. The Tonu paused at the magician's knowledge of his name. "You had so much potential and yet you have wasted it all to serve a greedy tyrant."
"Quiet, magician!" Torin shouted. "You are now a prisoner of King Salamen and will do his bidding!"
Rai bowed his head. "Then I shall come willingly, though the actions of the one you call a king are anything but noble." Standing up, the Eyrie walked over to the Tonu and held out his front paws. Torin handcuffed him and led the magician down the cliffs to be brought to his king.
To be continued...