Caution: Quills may be sharp Circulation: 81,645,694 Issue: 153 | 16th day of Hiding, Y6
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Windstorm: Part Four


by sara_mossflower

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In the Paws of the Prophesized

We departed from the apartment and wordlessly followed Alysoun and Terzin. Dayne had come too, even though I would have preferred otherwise. The Zafara and Lupe brought us to the edge of the trees that surrounded Neopia Central. As we silently padded through the woods, the dappled light adorning our fur, I couldn’t help but feel that we were coming into the presence of something or somewhere of a mystical, unknown origin.

We soon stood before an enormous oak with gnarled bark and an ancient air to it. Its thick roots splayed out partially above the ground and had formed the entrance to a large alcove beneath the tree. Alysoun, remaining silent, crouched down and dropped down into the niche. The three of us followed. As I turned to look back up through the opening, I realized that a sort of gauzy veil lay over it – odd that I hadn’t seen or felt it before. I reached out to touch it…

“Don’t!” shouted Alysoun, shattering the silence.

Too late. As soon as my paw brushed the strange curtain, I felt a sharp sensation, like I’d been burned, only severely. I cried out in pain and fell to my knees on the ground, where I inhaled and exhaled deeply, shaking off the shock of the sudden agony.

“What were you thinking?!” Alysoun exclaimed. “That’s a fire aura shield to prevent others from entering!”

I gritted my teeth, wincing at the still-present pain of the burn. “Well how was I supposed to know that?!”

“Didn’t you see it?” asked Terzin.

“Well, yeah, but…”

“Then that’s all I need to hear. The Windstorm should be able to at least see, if not use, magic. Just be more careful next time.”

“Wait!” I exclaimed. “How is it that you two can do stuff like that? And what was all that stuff about ‘examining auras’ when I met you?”

Terzin explained. “The two of us are sort of… amateur mages. We’re not able to burn things to a crisp or anything as extreme as that, but where we come from, magic is more common than you’d think, so we have some skill with it. Sorry for any confusion.”

I got back to my feet, rubbing my paw, which was slightly blistered. Terzin turned towards a wall of the alcove and made a swift motion with a paw. The white Gruslen, still perched on his back, yipped in excitement. The wall vanished, as if it had never been. “Awesome,” breathed Dayne.

Terzin took the lead through this tunnel, Dayne following. Alysoun and I brought up the rear.

I continued to finger my injury, and Alysoun noticed my agitation. Looking up at the earthen roof of the tunnel, she wound a thin root around her paw and yanked it out of the soil above. She continued to stroll along beside me, but pressed the root between her paws as she did so. When she removed one of her paws, the root was moist with some kind of nectar. “Here,” she said, placing the root on my seared flesh and charred fur. The juice stung at first, but then eased me into comfort.

I sighed with relief. “Thanks,” I said.

“Don’t mention it,” replied Alysoun, smiling. Her countenance hinted that her tough exterior was only half of who she was. “I know a but of healing herbs and they tend to come in handy.”

“Here we are!” called Terzin. We stopped.

Before us was a crossroads of tunnels. I stepped forward, and could feel wind rushing by in all four directions. “What is this place?” I asked.

As usual, Terzin jumped in with an abrupt, oh-so-obvious, tour guide response. “This is where the Four Winds connect. They form the Roads that stretch between worlds as well as states of mind.”

“What…?” I muttered.

Alysoun stepped in. “Just stand where the Roads ford – at the center, and take the path you’re tugged towards, but only if it feels right.”

“Why?”

“It’s important!” she snapped.

I reluctantly took a pace forward, then another. Eventually, I was in the center of the winds. I turned around, and Dayne, Terzin, and Alysoun were gone. I felt as if I was in some other dimension. Suddenly, I realized I was moving, only more so drifting. Wind whipped by my face, at first meandering zephyrs, but they became biting scythes. I cried out, but the winds tore my voice away, as if I’d never spoken. The gales carried me toward a tunnel, but I didn’t want to go. It appeared as the shadowy throat of some monstrous being. It was like I was being swallowed, heading for a realm of nothingness. Desperation gripped me, and I knew that I could never go down that tunnel – there was only dark within it. I turned to face the wind, and from behind me I could hear whispers, looping around me like silent, deadly nooses. Although I could not distinguish any words, the mere sounds were cold and chilled the blood in my veins. I forced myself, wrenching myself away from the vortex.

I drifted towards kinder breezes, and my fearful heartbeats slowed. My mind was clear, and I suddenly knew where I was going. I closed my eyes and beheld a vertical flash, and the hum of steel. The sword. It was what I’d been brought here for.

Purpose surged through me and my quest to bring justice to Frey’s memory was more important than anything. “The sword,” I whispered, not completely to myself.

“The Windscythe!” answered Frey.

I opened my eyes and found myself in a small chamber with a floor and walls made of some kind of crystal, but it wasn’t iridescent or glittering. It was smooth and dull, only showing me a reflection of my Cloud-covered self. Instinctively, I tread towards the center of the room and stood there, and I knew I had to wait for something, but I knew not what.

My eyes closed of their own accord, and I felt my body go limp and slide down onto the floor. Suddenly, I was no longer physically within the room, but mentally on the field. Before me, wind swirled, unnaturally visibly. Wisps of indigo and strands of azure danced before me in anticipation. I concentrated. Speaking the same words Frey had not minutes ago, I commanded them, “The Windscythe!”

The threads of wind immediately jolted together, winding around each other as if in living frenzy. Binding as one, they formed the shape of a double-edged broadsword, a little shorter than me. Energy seemed to build up within the form and it radiated a silent, celestial white blaze. Suddenly, the light faded, and the blade dropped to the ground, its point lodged in the earth.

Striding forward, more confidently than I felt, I approached the sword and slowly lowered my pale blue paw to grip the hilt. I closed my fingers around the soft leather-bound handle and felt a strange rush of exhilaration.

It was as if the power of a tornado raged within me. I suddenly knew that wielding this sword for Frey was truly my purpose.

The white blaze contracted, becoming a dense glow, but then expanding again, shooting to the boundaries of my imagination, drowning me in light. I wanted to close my eyes to block out the glare, but remembered that this was all happening in my mind – I didn’t really have any physical eyes to close, nor was my grip on the sword hilt real.

My eyes were jolted open, and I was back in the real world. The windroads swirled by me, more gently now, as if their tension of anticipation was now ebbing.

I staggered towards Dayne and the others, exhausted. They were wide eyed in awe. I was too tired to ask “What?”

“You’ve got it,” breathed Alysoun.

It was then that I looked down and consciously realized that my right hand gripped the sword. I couldn’t help but widen my eyes in amazement. How had it gone from being only a vision to a true object of steel and leather?

Terzin sighed proudly. “So the blade has been placed in the paws of the prophesied one at last.”

Dayne didn’t look especially interested, her expression greatly contrasting Alysoun’s, who looked ready to let out a whoop of glee. “You did it!” she squealed. “Only the Windstorm could find that weapon!” It looked like she was barely restraining herself from collapsing my ribs with a hug.

I pushed their reactions to a far corner of my mind for now and admired the Windscythe. Silver-bladed, straight and true, like an icicle in winter perfection, the sword was a noble weapon indeed. It felt so natural to feel the smooth leather-bound handle against my palms.

The others began leading the way out of the tunnels, and I let the sword fall to my side.

As we ascended to the crowded streets of Neopia, a question suddenly transfixed my train of thought: Who would I be fighting with my new blade? Whose blood would be spilt?

To be continued...

 
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Other Episodes


» Windstorm: Part One
» Windstorm: Part Two
» Windstorm: Part Three
» Windstorm: Part Five
» Windstorm: Part Six
» Windstorm: Part Seven



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