The screaming flames surround me. I feel the scorching heat dance its evil steps along my skin. Fear is all that guides me now. I run from the fires, muffle me ears from the cries of pain. My sobs echo in my head, as I rush for the lake where I spent countless summer days fishing. It's the only place safe from the searing death that has swallowed my entire village. I dare not look back, the wind thumps with every beat of those monstrous wings. I dare not look back. "Run Tydun, RUN", were my father's last words, as he turned to face the ancient terror that razed our home. No doubt, he fought bravely, but a man in his sixties barring only a walking staff is no match for the horrid creature that ambushed our small town. Father was over forty when he and mother married. He raised me with all the love and honor of two parents. My mother died as I was born. How odd the things that race through a young man's mind when faced with such peril. My body rushes for the cliffs near Champion's
Lake, yet my mind floats in the past.
The burning stench of the fiend's breathe sears my back, still I run. A thousand times I stood at the bluff's edge wanting to leap into the waters arms. A thousand times I stopped, as every boy in our village has. Legends tell that a great champion, a man of noble birth and king's blood, leapt to his death from these cliffs some years ago, leaving a life of fame and adventure behind. His magical lance and enchanted shield raised in salute as he took his last step. His final words still echo in the soft breeze that rustles along the reeds and cliff walls, "FOR HER". Many journeyed to the shores and rocky precipices in search of the hero's mighty tools of war. Jahrma, my aunt, would tell me the tale with such vivid detail, "Our village was born from those who settled for farming and fishing when no treasure was found."
I wipe away the stinging tears of my past. No hesitation in my step, no falter in my stride, at full sprint I soar from Champion's Bluff. The Wyvern's flames reach out with fierce ravaging tongues of destruction as the water's saving cloak envelopes me. The impact bolts through my body, yet dread howls just above the surface. I watch in terror as the bat winged brute's shadow circles above me. I feel my lungs begin to ache, as my body uses the air it so desperately needs. A glint of light guides my eye to a small cavern notched into the cliff wall. I swim with every essence of life I can muster. Reaching the caves entrance, I dart in. The glint of salvation in front of me I say a silent prayer that life giving air awaits just feet ahead. My brain howls in pain as the last of my will is used to keep my lungs dry. Just as I can hold my breath no more, I leap from the water, and the darkness takes over my mind.
Damp molded air seeps into my nostrils, as my eyes begin to open. I lay on the cavern floor my legs still dangle in the cool water. My chest and arms pound in rhythm with my head and heart. I smile at the pain, for it means I am alive. I focus easily in the dimly lit room. I find the source of the only light in the room as I struggle to lift my exhausted body. I step forward slowly both because my body is weak and I fear that in the limited lighting I may fall. I approach the glow of what appears to be a door way. Luminescence seeps from the seams of the wooden portal. I creep ahead cautiously. The mildewed scent of the watery cave is replaced with the acrid stench of smoldering death. I wait, listening for any tale of the devastating monster that herded me into a leap of destiny. No flapping menace or shrieks of horror seep from the doors frame. Only the smell of death lingers. I ease the door forward allowing the lights source to spill into the cavern. My eyes adjust to the amber glow of a lone hooded lamp. The sounds of stifled cries suddenly halt as Jahrma's tear streaked head snaps up at the sound of the opening door. "Tydun, is that you?" With out even a moment to answer my aunt bounds the distance of the small rocky room and embraces me. Her hair and clothing singed from the dreadful events that fell upon our family and home. Suddenly she faces me one hand holding mine and the other waving in the air. In her fear soaked excitement I can barely make out what she is saying. I grab her arms shaking her out of her rant. "Jahrma where is my father", I plead. "He is dead my dear, like all of the rest of our village" her head falling into my shoulder as she continues to weep. I let her cry as I peer around the room. Very little furnishes the small space. Opposite the door I entered is its twin being, I can only assume, the way my aunt entered. A simple oak desk and chair accompany the lamp in the far corner. The remainder of the room lays empty save a large ornate chest in the center.
After allowing her to sit and collect herself I spoke with my aunt, "Jahrma where are we." She looks at me for a moment, as if deciding something in her mind. "It is time you knew the truth" her eyes shadowed over as she began her tale, my tale.
"His name is Harbasch. It is a name older than time. He feeds on our people when the hunger strikes him once every generation.' Her tears begin again as she continues.
"Uschious the Wise, the first king of the clans, chartered the nobles to send one son of fighting age to the capitol city of
Kearsia. Leorn of Gyle, the King's champion trained the young nobles for years in preparation of the Wyvern's hunger. It is then that the Order of Gyle was born." Jahrma raised her eyes to mine. "Harbasch rose from his slumber and stretched his shadow towards the border towns of Kearsia. The King's Oracle predicted his awakening. The Order of Gyle was already in place, waiting for Harbasch. The finest horses armor, and lances, was issued to each young noble. The people of Kearsia, cheered as the Order marched in formation, thirty strong, into the on coming Wyvern. Just as Pysher, the King's Seer predicted, Harbasch crossed into Kearsia as the dawn broke over Navier, a small farming town very much like ours. The brigade of young nobles fought like lions till shortly before dusk. Harbasch took that long to devour the last of them, and the horses too. Gorged on noble flesh and war horse, Harbasch returned to his slumber." She lowered her head facing her hands as they lay on her lap. I knelt next to her begging her to continue. "The noble families of Kearsia languished in mourning beseeched Uschious not to order anymore of their sons to certain death. Yet, the wise King knew something had to be done or the denizens of the outer kingdom would fall to Harbasch losing hundreds of people, generation after generation. The king ordered Leorn to Navier to find an answer to the dilemma. Devastated by the loss of his beloved soldiers, Leorn returned to Navier, dropping to his knees at the very place his valiant knights perished. Cradled in his arms was a broken lance left as a reminder of the terrible power of Harbasch. Overcome with grief and guilt Leorn roared with anger and grief. His tears washing down his face fell upon the shattered lance. Villagers of Navier that sat at the field's edge watching Leorn later told that a great wave of blinding light filled that battle ground, just as twilight bowed its head. When the rolling light had filled the arena the spirits of the lost Order of Gyle rose from the earth an!
ched the center where Leorn now stood. The fallen lance he held was once again complete, glistening in the remaining light of the day. As the lost noblemen approached Leorn, each saluted and touched the lance. All thirty spirits, in turn, had returned their mystic souls to that weapon. The king's champion returned to Kearsia's castle and presented his Lord with the Lance. Pysher could not explain the phenomena, but believed it held the power to defeat Harbasch. Leorn, in hopes not to cost the nobles of his beloved country anymore sons promised his own unborn child to wield the Lance or Navier.
Jaron Gyleson was trained daily by all the strongest fighters, and wisest educators in the land. Prepared not was anyone for what had occurred when Harbasch returned decades later. King Uschious and Leorn had both passed. King Uschious the Second was just and wise, his people prospered and the kingdom grew. Yet, as always, in the midnight of every heart and mind lay the story of Harbasch. When the day came that Pysher predicted, Jaron was in place waiting for Harbasch with only The Lance of Navier, and a shield his father had given him. Just as foreseen, Harbasch ascended from the clouds and dove towards the fishing
Dushier. None of Jaron's training could prepare him for the fearsome sight, the great ravenous beast bore down on him, tendrils of noxious flame preceded what was apparently Jaron's demise. The young warrior's mind snapped out of the fear and with mere seconds before he was dowsed in acidic fire raised his shield. Looking into the back of the shield as it protected him from doom, Jaron saw his father smiling face. With renewed confidence, knowing the spirit of Leorn was with him Jaron lifted the mystic lance into the air as Harbasch landed in front of him."
Jahrma now stood in the center of the room. She walked slowly toward the chest that until then, because of her marvelous prose, I had forgotten about. I walked to the other side of the locked box. We both kneeled on apposing sides of the chest hands clasped together, she again continued.
"Jaron stood defiant of the looming monstrosity. Lance of Navier still held high he announced to Harbasch that the Order of Gyle will not allow another Kearsian to perish. Then to the surprise of Jaron an insidious demonic voice growled from the maw of the murderous creature. "Your precious Order is dead boy. I will devour you first then cleanse this town with my hunger" Jaron stood his ground, pounding the hilt of his lance to the earth he shouted to Harbasch, "The Order of Gyle lives forever in my heart". Just as those words escaped his lips a low rumble began to grow, its epicenter directly under Jaron's feet. In the light of the rising sun Jaron could see fear rise in the deep Hell dark eyes of the Wyvern. Then, as the fields of Dushier rumbled, the wraiths of the thirty noble warriors reappeared in full force to challenge Harbasch. The sight of the ghostly force shook terror to the root of the creatures black heart. The Brigade once again rushed him like a flood of demons. The undead lances struck deep into the monsters scaly flesh. Black molten blood trickled from multiple wounds. Harbasch tried in defense to claw and bite the apparitions but to no avail. His strikes swept through their astral forms like smoke. Rearing back, Harbasch sent a surge of ruinous breath at the assailants. Still the killing wave of ghost continued. Jaron stood in pride watching his father's soldiers push the beast back away from the village. Riddled with bleeding punctures Harbasch took flight, leaving our land never to be seen again."
Jahrma still holding my hands stood and again looked deep into my eyes.
"Harbasch could not return because the ancestors of Leorn held the lance and shield always at the ready, devoting one heir from each generation to a life of duty and defense of our great nation. The chain continued until recent events that I am afraid concern you directly my young nephew. You see Tydun, you are Leorn's descendent."
Shocked I reeled back ripping my hands from her grip. "But how am I a noble champion's heir" My aunt stepped around the jewel laden chest approaching me as I backed against the earthen wall. Her hands at her waist she again looked at me. "You must hear the rest of the story boy; listen for it begins just twenty short years ago.
Centuries raced by and nothing was heard from Harbasch. In all honesty most had forgotten the tale of the Order of Gyle save for a few historians and of course the Gyleson family. After so many years most considered the duty of the bearer of the shield and lance to be ceremonial at most. He was ordered to appear at various noble gathering, harvest festivals and religious functions. The only other required duty was to marry a noble woman and produce a male offspring to continue the requiem's of the lance and shield. That is until Love got in the way. The latest Gyleson with the predisposed honor of bearing this load was Yohanus Gyleson. He was a true noble, arrogant, stubborn and very pretentious, but handsome and truly a good person. As fate would have it all that changed the day he went to a small temple near here. He was required to attend a ceremony for a monk that had been especially loved by the King. Accomplishing his duty he stayed in a nearby
Inn before returning to Kearsia. Awaking the next morning he went to retrieve his steed from the stable master only to find his daughter was tending to the horses that day. Yohanus didn't notice the stable girl at first. After all he was nobility, surrounded daily by courtiers, women of expensive ilk. He was betrothed to Eleinia of Sansetua, a rather beautiful woman, as pretty as money can buy, but very difficult to get along with. So he wouldn't have noticed the stable girl's profound unwavering eyes, the color of dark sweet chocolate, but he describes them often like that afterwards. He was seconds from leaving the small hamlet when the stable girl, handed him the reigns to his mount, their eyes joined. It was but a brief flash of time, but to each of them it felt as if an eon was passing as they stared bewildered at each other. Yohanus dropped the reigns and held Darria's hand instead. That's right Tydun, the stable girl, Darria, is your mother, my sister. I know this story all too well, for you see my nephew, I was in the stable when your parents met."
I stood with a confused glare in my eyes that I'm sure Jahrma saw. "I know what you are thinking" Jahrma said as she lifted a finger to my lips to quite the question she knew was coming. "Yohanus Gyleson is not your father's name. Jothan Yarmer was the name you knew him by. Your father spent nearly a month in our small township across the lake, every moment he could steal your mother away he would. He stayed until the King's messenger showed up declaring he was urgently needed at the capitol. He left with the weight of more than a lance and shield on his heart. He returned as often as his duties would allow. Often messengers and soldiers were sent to retrieve him. Finally the time came when departing was no longer an option. Your parents had been hiding their relationship for nearly a year. Darria was pregnant with you my dear, and when she told Yohanus he was delighted. Marriage to a commoner was not allowed for the one chosen to bear the Lance and Shield, it was feared that only noble blood could wield the weapons with success. Yohanus cared not for the tales of monsters and heroes. He only knew Love. A life without Darria, and his unborn child was no life at all. When the messengers came again to retrieve Yohanus he refused. Then soldiers came, again he refused even brandishing the lance to chase them off. Darria knew that wouldn't last, and he soon would have to face his family. Yohanus told her when that day comes that no matter what she must trust him. Her fears came to fruition on a picturesque summer day almost eighteen years ago. Your grandfather arrived with a company of soldiers. He fumed at Yohanus demanding his return and denouncement of you and your mother. Yohanus refused and told his father that his love for Darria and the baby was all that mattered. As Yohanus expected the soldiers tried to detain him, but he fled. The chase led to very bluffs above us now. With shield and lance in hand Yohanus stood on the lip of the cliff. He faced his father and twenty armed men. Then he did somethin!
cted. He raised the lance into the air, stared directly at his father an uttered two words, "FOR HER." Then he just stepped off. Yohanus Gyleson died that day, and Jothan Yarmer was born."
Amazement flushed my face as the truth of what my aunt had just told me weighed in. I would have dropped to my knees if not for the wall I leaned against. "You see Tydun," she placed a hand on my cheek and continued. "You are a Gyleson, and the true defender of our nation.
"But what of the shield and lance", I asked as I realized what those tools could bring. "If it is my duty to defeat Harbasch, why did father dispose of them" The heat of revenge began to burn in me at that moment. Everything my father sacrificed for love was being destroyed. Jahrma stepped back to the chest as she spoke.
"Your father new he couldn't allow the water to devour the two most sacred objects in our history. He hid them here after diving into the lake. This chest was prepositioned here and he had already found this cavern. Your home lies above us. He built his entire life and the roots of our village over this site." She once again knelt over the beautiful gilded box. "He only told me about it a few short months ago; for he knew the time of Harbasch approached and feared the legends may be true. I have been trying to open it for hours exhausted I fell to the chair. Then you walked in from the other door. Please Tydun, think did your father leave you a key, or a clue as how to retrieve the shield and lance?"
I was still awash with the realization of my destiny, and the sense of duty that my father had always preached. I approached the chest to examine it better. The box was twice as long as it was wide, solid brass, and framed in gold. Jewels of all shapes and sizes encrusted the coffer. I investigated further concentrating on the characters carved into the golden frame. The etchings appeared to represent a festivity of some noble stature. Elegant men and women dancing, and the king and queen seated on thrones. The strangest part was all the figures had ridiculous clown like smiles, all save one. I came to me feet trying to remember what my father had said about Jesters. "Aunty, did you notice all the carvings on the chest had very pronounced smiles" Jahrma walked around the trunk, nodding as she said, "except for the jester Tydun, the face of the jester is frowning." I had to smirk as the words my father spoke returned to me. At the end of the feast it is the jester that has laughed the least. Never live your life as a sad jester son. Your life should be more than what you do.
I crouched again facing the sad mouth of the clowning courtier. I looked up at Jahrma, "father said the jester should always be laughing. He should never allow the job of making others happy sadden him" Simultaneously as I spoke those words to her I reached for the jester's mouth. Grasping the edges of the frowned lips and forced a turn. The down turned lips nudged under my twisting pressure. I smiled to Jahrma, "I think I got it." I continued to twist forcing the sad little clown to smile. With a popping sound the lid was ajar. Jahrma and I stood next to each other, I slowly lifted the top of the chest and revealed what appeared to be a tapestry wrapped item as long as a man and half as wide. Jahrma held the lid open as I removed the covered items. Carefully I place them on the floor of the small cave and began to unwrap. In just a few seconds I revealed what was to be my fate. Rising to my feet, this simple farm boy held the Lance of Navier and Shield of Dushier.
Jahrma stood in front of me tears of fear streaking towards pride’s smile. "He has to be stopped. Harbasch hasn't eaten in centuries; one village will not cure his need for flesh." Then Jahrma's face went pale. "Tydun, the next village is Gansdier. That is where your father and mother met." Quickly as prudence allowed Jahrma and I retraced her steps to the remains of our house. Nothing was left except smoldering skeletons of buildings. I thought it was odd that the smell of burnt flesh was not imbued in the air. As we made our way in the dark with only the lantern to guide us it was obvious as to why. The creature has eaten every living thing in its path. Its hunger must be so great that it devoured every person and animal it could find. We approached the eastern rim of
Champion. Darkness was fading and the first fingers of dawn's light flickered on the eastern horizon. On the breeze an unfamiliar resonance drifted. We continued towards Gansdier, Jahrma whispered to me tales of our family there. How her and Mother growing up, would secretly dream of running away. “Life she then was far less interesting”, she sighed.
We could see the first farms of the township as we came around the last of the winding lake shore. That's when the clatter we had heard began to rise to a roar. We slowed but continued, the noise increased and it was all too familiar. The breeze had carried most of the smoke away from us but the glow of the flames was unmistakable. Harbasch had continued his feasting. I feared we may have already been too late. Leaving Jahrma at the farm's edge I continued towards the clamor. At almost a full run I crossed the field towards the first burning building. There I saw the beast. The scorched bodies of a family, their wagon, and a team of horses lay under its massive claws. The creature had just devoured the lead horse, as it turned its lizard like head in my direction. The voice of the beast oozed its evil across scaled lips. "I KNOW THAT SCENT" the voice boomed. The monster now stared directly at me. Its eyes black as death staring at the shield and lance. "YOU REAK OF GYLE BLOOD BOOOOYYYYY" My brain was screaming for me to run. My legs quaked, and sweat began to sheath my body. The carcass of the half eaten mare thudded to the ground. Harbasch turned his body towards me his gaze was fixed on the lance and shield. The Wyvern's snake like neck writhed as the face of my impending doom was now only feet from me. Breath of decay waved over me, and vile gray green smoke began to plume from the foul creatures nostrils. I froze with fear. I knew it was a grave mistake to allow a monster of such strength to get so close. Yet I stood there motionless. My mind pleaded for me to escape, my body still as a stone statue. Harbasch inhaled and I knew what was next. My life would end in a ball of green flame and acid. The monster raising its head chuckling with a deep rumble of disdain, took in all the air its putrid lungs could hold. Still I can not move. Then I saw such a simple and beloved thing. To my disbelief a small blue bird fluttering by lands on the brow of the beast. The pure insanity of the sight forced a smile !
on my fa
ce and it was what I needed to make myself react to what was about to occur. The monster, ignoring the bird spewed its killing breath at me. I recovered from my statuary stance and, as my ancestor did, allowing the Shield of Dushier to protect me. Just as Jaron had so many centuries ago, I to see a face in my shield. It is not Leorn but my own father smiling at me with pride. Harbasch is certain I have perished in his attack. I can here his chuckle grow to a thunderous laughter. The remains of the flames and noxious fumes dissipate. Raising the lance into the air I call to Harbasch, "The Order of Gyle Lives in MY Heart!" I pound the hilt to the earth and ripples of power wave towards the beast. The blinding light crests away from me like a radiant pool. I can hear them now. The ghostly nobles attacking the abomination and the bellows of the wounded beast fill my ears. I am still blinded by the tempest of light and sound but I feel the victory and peace surround me. Above the clatter of the melee I hear again the demonic voice booming, "I WILL NOT SUFFER THIS FATE AGAIN BOOYYYY" A sudden wind washes over me. I stumble, as I cover my eyes from debris. Harbasch has taken flight. He refuses to return to centuries of starvation. He hovers just out side the reach of the ghostly hoard that hunts him. He is wounded. I see the viscous ooze of dark oily blood seeping from his several wounds. Fear again enters my heart. The Noble Ghosts can't reach the monster and finish their destined purpose. Again the horrid beast calls to me, "I HAVE HAD CENTURIES TO PREPARE FOR THIS DAY BOY. TO DEFEAT THE ORDER I MERELY HAVE TO DEFEAT YOU." I realize the truth in his words. My vulnerability evident as Harbasch descends towards me teeth and claws ready to tear my flesh as an eagle does the trout. Fear grips me body again. I have no training, no education, I'm not a warrior. Doubt, fear, and panic are all I know. The voice is faint. It comes to me like a sweet flower scented summer breeze. "Throw it." I blink. Harbasch is abo!
ve me no
w his dive scant feet from my position. "Throw it" again the voice whispers. I can feel the dripping acidic saliva falling from the maw of my death. I can feel the hot noxious breath searing my hair and eyes. "THROW IT" the voice now in my ear screaming. I reach back heaving the lance with ever part of my body and soul. All I know now is darkness.
For the second time in one day my eyes blink open to a small ill lit room. Voices surround me. Low murmurs of funeral like tones. Then I feel it. Stinging pain coursing through all of my being, yet I manage a smile. I know I am alive.
Three weeks passed since my mortal clash with Harbasch. It took half that time to completely remove his body from the outskirts of Gansdier. The Lance of Navier pierced into the creature's heart killing it instantly. Some say it was divine intervention, other claim dumb luck. The thick acid like blood of the monster destroyed my ancestral weapon. The dead carcass of the beast fell from its deadly dive landing on the small farm house behind me. Its massive spiked tail however found a roost upon me. The Shield of Dushier absorbed this crushing blow to it own demise. The monster is dead. The Lance and Shield are destroyed. The only question that remains unanswered is whose voice was it I heard. What divine entity directed my hands to launch the lance? That my friend is another story.
All rights belong to its author. It was published on e-Stories.org by demand of James Reeves.
Published on e-Stories.org on 22.12.2007.