Windstorm: Part Four
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.”
“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
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...