Two Children, An Enchanter, and Three Horsemen; Chapter 25

Fiction By Teal // 8/12/2009

 

Chapter 25
 
 
          When Jane’s eyes finally adjusted to the light, she gave a gasp of delight. A lovely figure reclined gracefully in a wicker rocking chair, long raven-black hair falling in loose, gleaming curls to her waist. The resemblance this Luella shared with her elder brother Matrim was very strong: her dark hair and handsome complexion. The girl was very young, not quite eighteen, and her charming face was pale and exquisitely featured. She was dressed in a simple gown of pale jade which perfectly complemented her sea green eyes.
          With a warm glow of admiration and awe for the Luella’s astonishing beauty, Jane advanced towards her, holding out her hand.
          “Luella! It is so good to have finally met you! I am Jane, sent by your brother to stay here awhile.” Beaming, Jane waited for the girl to speak.
          Luella continued to stare in that gentle, distant way. Jane raised her eyebrows. She cleared her throat.
          Silence.
          “Um… Hello! I’m Jane. I’ve… I’ve come to stay… here for a while. Do… do you hear me? Luella? Hello?”
          In the dreadful silence, Jane’s heart beat fast. Then she gave an awful gasp. “Is she dead?” Horrified, she leapt for the door, knocking over a footstool in her haste, dropping her satchel in her terror.
          “Miss Biggs! Oh no! Miss Biggs! Luella, something is wrong with Luella!” Heavy footsteps came pounding up the hall and Miss Biggs came storming into the room, her gray hair hanging in disordered curls about her face.
          Scanning the room in one glance, the woman gave a sigh of relief and collapsed weakly against the doorpost. But only for a moment—she stood up quickly, seemingly ashamed of her momentary idleness. Thumping about the room, Miss Biggs thundered at Jane. “Heavens, foolish girl! How you frightened me! Ah, my soul.” Miss Biggs inhaled deeply and stood soothingly beside the wicket rocking chair where the lovely girl sat, her vacant sea green eyes fixed on some place beyond the wall.
          Suddenly Miss Biggs stumped across the room and patted the frightened Jane briskly on the back. “Oh… My dear, I am sorry. What a fool I am,” Miss Biggs murmured, patting her apron apologetically at her sides. “I, being so used to Miss Luella’s… Miss Luella’s…” The woman paused, searching for the right word. “Condition! Yes. I being so used to Miss Luella’s condition, did forget to warn you.” Miss Biggs sighed, and began going around the small room straightening various items on spotless shelves. “But you see, Miss Luella has so few visitors that I, being her only companion, oftentimes forget to inform others about her sad case.”
          Jane had to take a deep and shaky breath before she continued. “What… what exactly is wrong with her?”
          Miss Biggs frowned protectively, and smoothed Luella’s glistening curls affectionately. “I had better tell you her story then, my girl.” Sighing, she sat on a small bed in the corner, gesturing for Jane to join her. “And I must start at the very beginning…”
 
*        *        *
 
          The mounted cavalry sped up the dusty path. Fifty thoroughbred stallions foamed at the mouth, sleek muscles rippling beneath their shiny hides. Polished hooves struck the path at a gallop, sending up thick clouds of dust.
          Leading the mounted riders were the three horsemen themselves: Blancshoyc, Marshivoc, and Skeletos-- riding their wraithlike stallions. Marshivoc’s red eyes gleamed. “Now-- now is the time we have long awaited: the day these rebels shall be crushed underfoot! After our triumphant return, the Enchanter will don the Diadem of Power, and our long mission shall be finally accomplished. But first…” He cackled madly, his red saber held high in the air. “…First we shall pour red blood upon this turf!”
          Laughing brutally, the three disappeared in a cloud of dust.
         
*       *         *
 
          Quietly, Miss Biggs began Luella’s history. Listening attentively, Jane closed her eyes, seeing the remarkable story unfold before her mind’s eye…
         
          As the warm setting sun shone gentle rays of golden sunshine onto her willow-white shoulders, Luella sat on the bank of the lake, watching the undulating waves lap gently onto the sandy shore. The pale-skinned, dark haired girl with the glowing emerald eyes was of a quiet and meditative nature, unlike her passionate and fiery elder brother, Matrim.
          Luella and Matrim had been raised in the walls of the Imperial City ever since their birth. Luella’s earliest memories were of her wise and loving father, the King, and her gentle prudent mother, the Queen. In those days, the land of Zion prospered. In the Northern forests, birds sang and squirrels frisked. The people flourished, with a fair and noble leader who cared greatly for his subjects.  
          Luella sighed and thought back to the days of her golden childhood. As children, she and her brother were the best of friends. Known for their childish pranks and plays, they would rampage wildly throughout the palace. They were beloved of everyone in the palace: their nurses, the maids, the nobles and ladies, the guards, the grooms--they were best friends with the Palace weaver, who, along with brilliantly colored cloth, wove stories delightful enough to enthrall any child. On rainy afternoons, the two rascals would scamper downstairs to the kitchen, where Cook would teasingly spank their bottoms with her ladle, then sneak them a treat or two behind the back of the Head Chef. Together, they would slip into the Counseling Chamber. Sliding beneath the heavy marble table while their father conducted one of his extensive lectures to his advisors, they would tie the counselor’s feet together with the lace they had acquired from Mother’s best nightgown. Luella smiled at the memory—then her brows knit together and a shadow fell across her face.
          Luella and Matrim’s joyful childhood years were cut short when their beloved father died shortly after returning from a long voyage he had taken to a distant territory in the west. Despair struck the land-- what would they do without the guidance of their most wise King? The Prince Matrim was much too young to succeed the throne, so the advisors of his late father would govern the land until he reached the appropriate age. Shortly after the King’s death, the Queen also died of grief, leaving her two children stricken with sorrow.               
          Luella watched a weeping willow leaf spin leisurely through the chill spring air. Three years had had passed since her parents’ death and she was now fifteen, Matrim thirteen. Three years her father’s advisors had ruled the land. But now, mysterious rumors had entered the city causing confusion and turmoil. For there had been news that the long-lost brother of the late king had arrived, claiming the throne.
          Though the man would not give his name, he had been granted an audience with the Counsel and at that very moment they were in the Counseling Chamber. Luella wondered what this supposed uncle of hers would look like. Would he remind her at all of her father? Luella sat up as a thunderous explosion split the air, flashing colors illuminating the now dark sky. “Firecrackers?” Surprised, she jumped to her feet, her green eyes sparkling in the darkness. “What could it mean?”
          Barefoot, she sprang up the bank. Over the lush lawns of the palace courtyard she flew, past the astonished guards of the rear gate and into the palace. Then she came to a slippery halt on the marble floor. She was in the coronation hall, and it was filled with people.
          Lords, ladies, all in their dazzling finery stared down at the girl who had suddenly burst through the double doors. It was so silent. Luella felt her face grow hot with shame as she realized how she must look. She was wet; her dark hair was tousled from her swim in the pond, and her bare feet muddy. Stammering apologies, she backed towards the door. Suddenly a tall figure rose from the crowd and in a commanding voice, the stranger hailed her.
          “Stay yet, girl. Would you not greet your uncle?”
          Luella stopped. Her eyes lifted deliberately from her feet and rose to the man’s face. His midnight black hair fell to his shoulders. His dark eyes were deep-set in his pale, arrogant face. He was dressed in a tunic of brilliant scarlet. So this was the man who claimed to be her uncle, who claimed to be the rightful heir to the throne. 
          Luella opened her mouth to speak but found she had lost her voice. The man gave a great booming laugh and came down the steps towards her. Luella felt vaguely uncomfortable, as if something was wrong. Everyone was too quiet. It was a tense silence that held the coronation room under a spell. The girl knew she must say something.
          “Welcome, Uncle.” The word seemed to stick upon her tongue and came uneasily. Gathering her courage and summoning as much grace as possible under the circumstances, Luella gave a low curtsy. The dark stranger bowed courteously in return. Immediately the tense silence was broken as the spectators about the coronation hall gave a mighty cheer.
          Luella waited until the applause died away before she spoke again. “I did not expect the coronation hall to be so crowded. It has not been used since my father died.” The last sentence was spoken quite coldly as Luella swallowed the lump in her throat that was beginning to choke her. This stranger had no right to be here, even if he was truly her uncle.
          Her cold manner did not go undetected by the multitude and there was an uncomfortable pause. Hurrying steps came across the marble steps, and Luella looked up to see her elder brother, Matrim, twelve at the time, standing beside her. His deep black eyes looked anxiously into her own as he slipped a protective arm around her. The stranger had reached them by now, and he took them both by the hand. “My dear nephew and niece, it is delightful to have finally met you after all these years. Yes, the very children of my brother, I can see it in your faces.”
          The stranger patted Matrim on the head with an icy hand as he spoke in a sympathetic, purring tone. “I understand the trouble you have experienced these last three years. The loss of your beloved parents has been very hard, has it not, children?”
          Luella nodded, but refused to meet the pitying gaze of this intrusive stranger. 
          “As has been the heavy burden of governing this land?” The stranger continued, addressing Matrim.
          The boy looked up, astonished. The stranger smiled—bitterly, Luella thought. Then, turning to the crowd surrounding them, the man proclaimed loudly: “Thus I have come, to relieve the burden of rule from these children’s hands, for I am the brother of your late King Menylaes and the uncle of his children.”
          The whole host rose to their feet, clapping and cheering. He held up a hand and summoned for the Counsel to join him. Quietly, many of the aged white-bearded men, the counselors and cherished advisors of Luella’s father, came from the crowd and stood behind this stranger.
          As if in a dream, Luella watched each man step forward and give his proof of this stranger’s kinship to her father with legal documents, letters, historical family papers…
          She felt betrayed.
          Slapped in the face.
          Horrified.
          How could this man be her Uncle? She knew not why it troubled her, he seemed kind enough, but all the same, something was wrong. Something was very wrong.
          Suddenly, she pulled away from the stranger and went running through the double doors, out into the chill night air. Above her head, fireworks roared and hissed, their shimmering lights curling into brilliant serpents writhing in the night sky.                         

*          *         *
 
          Casia was dashing through the thick wild thorn bushes that made tall, prickly walls on either side of the path to the village. She was covered in her huge cloak of tough animal skin, that the thorns might not tear her skin. Panting for breath, her ribs aching, her throat dry, she finally saw the small opening through the bushes on the right. She sank to her knees and crawled through to the opposite side. She was in perfect time. Carefully, Casia opened her satchel to check on the small red Ciris chick. It blinked up at her. Casia smiled. “Now all we must do is wait, my friend.” 
 
*        *         *
 
          Blancshoyc cursed as he dismounted and surveyed the tall thorn bushes all around him. “We shall have to march,” he muttered to Skeletos. “The path to the village is rough and narrow. Leave the horses here.” The skeletal rider waved his arm and the fifty cavalry riders dismounted.
          It was a long procession that wound its way up the mountain slopes.
 
*         *         *
 
          Andrija swallowed anxiously. Everything was going as planned so far. She gripped her pitchfork tight as sweat trickled down her face. Then, she smiled grimly. If someone had told her a year before that she, sweet gentle Andrija would be leading an army of two hundred women against an experienced cavalry, she would have dismissed them with great laughter.
          She heard a rustle behind her and turned to see Ali, a young peasant wife. “The children are safely hidden, Miss.” Andrija gave a sigh of relief. “Excellent. Now hurry along to your section.”
          Ali disappeared into the bushes.
         
*         *        *
         
          It was Marshivoc who sighted the bend in the path. “We are very near the village, my friends, silence in the ranks!” He smiled maliciously. “There must be absolute silence in order for our surprise celebration to be complete!” The men quieted, and the only sound heard was the tramp, tramp, tramp of fifty feet marching in unison.
         
*        *        *
 
          Casia heard the men coming. Hastily, she slipped out of the bushes and into the midst of the path. She was breathing hard with terror, but readied to reach inside her satchel. Suddenly, around the path came the first rank, led by Blancshoyc. He yelled unintelligibly to his men and Casia sprang into action. She reached into her satchel and withdrew the red chick. Immediately hundreds of red objects were diving down at her from all angles, furious mother Ciris birds! Casia curled into a ball and rolled to the side of the path, where she vanished into the opening amidst the thorn bushes. She carefully tucked the small red chick back in the satchel.
          The Ciris birds, in a frenzy, began to attack everything in sight. Blancshoyc screamed as a scarlet bird flew at his face, and put up his hands to guard his eyes. Birds were attacking the soldiers, diving at their faces, clawing at unprotected necks and hands. Ultimate pandemonium reigned! Soldiers were dropping to the ground and curling into balls, but still the furious birds continued their attack.
          Satisfied, Casia took one last look before she scampered off into the thickets, ready to warn the next station of the first success.
*         *         *
 
          Back at the Imperial Palace, the soldiers turned to see the Enchanter, still standing on the raised pedestal, standing in the ring of smoking ashes. He gave a low and triumphant laugh. “You believe you have won, you fools?” He jeered malevolently. Then, he slipped something from his robe and held it high above his head. Sparkling in the sun, the Diadem seemed to shine in a brilliant aura of golden light.
          “I shall place this Diadem on my head and rule all of you! You all are mine! My slaves, in both thought and action! Mine!” Insanely, he threw back his dark head and laughed uproariously.
          Matrim’s followers shivered. A dark beast of vile appearance had suddenly appeared and seemed to be perched on the Enchanter’s shoulder. Matrim narrowed his eyebrows, and then gazed pityingly at the cackling wizard.
           “Sir! Be wary lest the dark powers of the Diadem eat you alive! Change your mind, for your own good! The Diadem was forged for good purposes-- but the dark powers of it are so strong, they will destroy you if you use them. Throw away your evil intentions and plots and use the Diadem in the way it was originally intended for: the good of your fellow man.”
          The Enchanter stared down at Matrim, a lopsided smile on his pale and arrogant face. “Are you, young fool, trying to frighten me? Let it be known, that I, the Enchanter of all, am not afraid of anything! Anything!” He raised his hands into the air and placed the Diadem upon his head. In one moment, the Diadem flashed a white light! The whole world was white! Blinded, the soldiers stepped back.
          The brilliant whirlwind of light whipped around them. There was a whistling as the strong wind roared around them. Like a whirling snowstorm, the whiteness surrounded them entirely. It encircled the peasants, the reformed soldiers, forming a luminous orb about them. Every man’s face shone as gold. There was a sweet yet wild fragrance in the air. The earth rumbled once beneath their feet as a fiery explosion sounded.
          Then, as suddenly as it had begun, the white light receded. And the sun shone over the Castle courtyard. Birds sang, filling the air with their various sweet calls.
          Matrim and the men standing behind him shook themselves from their reverie and gazed around them. The Enchanter was gone, and on the ground where he had once stood lay the Diadem, resting on a pillow of flower petals. But it had changed. Silver no longer, the new Diadem had transformed into a Crown of Gold.

Comments

Excellent chapter, Teal.

Excellent chapter, Teal. Luella sounds very interesting. Oh, and I especially liked this line--Above her head, fireworks roared and hissed, their shimmering lights curling into brilliant serpents writhing in the night sky.  

Wonderful description.                       
 

Annabel | Thu, 08/13/2009

*sighs with delight* Amazing

*sighs with delight* Amazing chapter, Teal! I have the sinking feeling though that we're nearing the end of this marvelous tale! Are we? The descriptions were astounding and the tension...wow! I literally had my nose glued to the computer :P Wonderful as always!!!

Ariel | Thu, 08/13/2009

*****************************************
"To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme. No great and enduring volume can ever be written on the flea, though many there be that have tried it." -- Herman Melville

Bravo!

Well done, Teal! Awww, are we close to the end?

One note: when Luella is thinking about the advisors ruling the land, it says that she's fifteen and Matrim thirteen. But later on it mentions Matrim as twelve and her older brother. Thought you might want to know about that.

Good chapter! I'll be sad to see this story close....

Heather | Thu, 08/13/2009

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
And now our hearts will beat in time/You say I am yours and you are mine...
Michelle Tumes, "There Goes My Love"

Annabel- Thank you, I’m

Annabel- Thank you, I’m glad you liked it!           

OFG- Thank-ee! Yes, I suppose we are nearing the end… *sighs sentimentally* I won’t know what to write when this story is over. Perhaps, I shall write a sequel. Maybe. I would like to write something different before I do. But take hope! There are still 5 chapters of glorious adventure yet to be written before… THE END.
   
Heather- Thanks! I was having a little difficulty with their ages… I couldn’t make up my mind if Luella should be younger or older than Matrim. When I finally decided to make her younger, I forgot to change that. Thanks again! What would I do without all you wonderful people?!? :D

Teal | Fri, 08/14/2009

Excellent, Teal! I'm glad

Excellent, Teal! I'm glad that there are still five chapters left!! But I still don't understand why Luella is in this, er, condition :)

Laura Elizabeth | Mon, 08/17/2009

*************************************************
The best stories are those that are focused, unassuming, and self-confident enough to trust the reader to figure things out. --

http://lauraeandrews.blogspot.com/2014/05/dont-tell-me-hes-smart.html

Laura Elizabeth-

The next chapter should explain it. :)  

Teal :)

Teal | Wed, 08/19/2009

AAACCCCKKKKK!!!!!!!  Hurry,

AAACCCCKKKKK!!!!!!!  Hurry, hurry, HURRY!!!  I want to know what's happening!!!!!

Waaiiiit, only five chapters left???

Oh, I just realized this: Luella's uncle is the Enchanter, isn't he?

@@@@@@@@@@@@@

"Life's disappointments are harder to take when you don't know any swear words." - Calvin and Hobbes

Bridget | Thu, 08/20/2009

"I always wonder why birds stay in the same place when they can fly anywhere on the earth. Then I ask myself the same question." - Harun Yahya

Bridget:

Well.... the Enchanter says he is Matrim and Luella's uncle... *wink* But if I were you... I wouldn't trust him very much. : )  I am almost done with Ch. 26! 

 ~Teal  

Teal | Fri, 08/21/2009

Navigation

User login

Please read this before creating a new account.