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The Coming Of The Young One - Fictional Novel


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#1
Kokeshi_Doll769

Kokeshi_Doll769

    oh hey i didn't see you there

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Prologue
The old withered crone crouched patiently in the rapidly darkening cave. She studied the bones she had scattered on the ground before her. Her eyes narrowed for an instant, and then her face, a pile of wrinkles, split in a toothless grin. She cackled wildly, raising her skin and bones form up to stand.
"I knew it!" she rasped, still cackling. "I knew it. After all these Turns...the time has finally come!" Her dry voice trailed off. She glanced about her, snatching up a threadbare cloak and slinging it about her frail shoulders. She gingerly picked up the bones, tucking them safely away beneath the grimy covering. From another niche in the rock, she carefully extracted something, and tucked that away also. She smoothed the trailing wisps of white hair back away from her face, black eyes sparkling with a secret none could guess. With one last look at her surroundings, she hobbled out of her cave, pulling the filth ridden cloak tighter about her withered frame. Muttering to herself, she quickly disappeared into the thick darkness of the descending night.

Edited by Kokeshi_Doll769, 10 July 2007 - 03:03 PM.


#2
Kokeshi_Doll769

Kokeshi_Doll769

    oh hey i didn't see you there

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Chapter One

The forces of evil were gathering. Every day she sensed them growing stronger. That was the way it had always been for seventeen year old Alys Morganhorn. Ever since she could remember, she had been able to sense them. There wasn't a word for the black presences she oftentimes felt, they were simply there.

"Alys? Hello? Earth to Alys, geez."

Alys turned, her strange silver eyes focusing on the other girl who sat across the table from her. She gave her friend a faint smile.

"Sorry," she said apologetically. The other girl nodded, pursing her lips and feigning an irritated sigh. She fixed Alys with a stare of mock annoyance.

"Oh yeah. Sure you are. And I'm the Queen of Sheba. I don't know why I put up with you." There was a hint of a smile, and then she turned serious. "Sometimes you get this funny look on your face, as if you were listening for something. What's up with that? You scare me when you do it." Alys could tell the other girl was perfectly serious. She studied her for a moment, then shook her head.

"I don't know, Priscilla. I don't know." She heard Priscilla give a snort and took comfort in the fact that her friend was back to her usual ways. It took a lot to worry Priscilla Johnson, and Alys hated to think she could be a reason. Then Priscilla pushed her chair away from the small white table and stood, stretching.

"I've got to be home by three, I promised Mom I would be. You want me to take you home?"

Alys almost didn't hear her. She had noticed a young man, about her age, sitting two tables away. He had been staring at her. There wasn't anything malicious in his gaze; still, Alys felt she should know him from somewhere. He had dark hair cropped short and he wore it spiked. As Alys studied him she realized suddenly that he had silver eyes. Just like me, she thought. She was startled out of her reverie as Priscilla, beside her, threw up her hands in a gesture of defeat. Alys looked up abashedly at her exasperated friend.

"I'm sorry again, Pris, I really am," she said, calling her friend by an old nickname she had used when they were children. "I was looking at this guy sitting over--" She stopped in mid-sentence. He was gone. There was nothing to indicate he had ever been there. Priscilla peered at her, placing a hand on Alys's forehead.

"Are you sure you're okay? You have that funny look on your face again. You don't have a fever..." Priscilla let the sentence die and Alys waved her hand away. She looked up into Priscilla's anxious face, lined with worry, something Alys seldom saw. She laughed to ease the mood. The worry changed to indignant anger at her laugh and Alys caught at her friend's hand as she turned to storm off.

"Pris! C'mon, Pris. You should know me better than to think I was would make fun of you. We've been friends since we were in diapers."

"Yeah, maybe that's part of the problem," Priscilla muttered, still a little ruffled from being laughed at.

"Look," Alys said, grabbing Priscilla by the shoulders and turning the girl to face her. "I didn't mean to laugh at you. You just looked so funny...anyway. I'm fine. Let's just go home. I've had enough fun today to last me the week." Alys turned her still somewhat indignant friend around and propelled her forward. She didn't let Priscilla see the smile leave her face, or the curious glance she threw over her shoulder at the table where the strange young man had been.

#3
Kokeshi_Doll769

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Chapter Two

Toren Hadwyn watched the two girls round the corner and disappear from sight, then breathed a sigh of relief. It had been close; the other girl had almost seen him. In fact, he hadn't intended for the Young One to see him either, but he wasn't surprised that she had. They would have a proper introduction as soon as the old one made it through the Portal to deliver...Toren blinked. He realized he didn't know what the clairvoyant had for the Young One. He gave an easy shrug. It would all be revealed in time. He glanced up at the sun, blinking his strange silver eyes. The Twelve were expecting him back within the hour. With one last look at the empty table, he melted into the shadows of the building.
* * * * *
Her breath rasped in her throat, coming in short, ragged puffs. The old crone clutched her grimy, threadbare cloak tighter as she listened to the nightjumpers howling. They were closing in. She knew they would catch her, but not before she had given the Young One what she had been sent to give her. She must make it to the Portal. That was all that mattered now. A flash of dark gray-black caught her eye. They were all around her now, waiting for her to stumble, to fall. Setting her jaw, she limped ahead determinedly. The Portal was only a little further.
* * * * *
"Well, here we are," Priscilla said as she pulled up in front of Alys's house.

"Thanks Pris. I'll call you or something, okay?" Alys climbed out of Priscilla's car. She slung her blue jacket over one shoulder and waved as Priscilla pulled away from the curb. She turned and walked slowly up the driveway, enjoying the warmth of the sun filtering down through the leaves of the great old oak that had spread-eagled its branches high above the lawn.

"Hi, Alys. Did you and Priscilla have a good time?" Alys looked up and smiled at Sheila Whitman, the only mother she had ever known. She thought back to the time when, once she had been old enough to understand the difference, Sheila and her husband Terrence had told her that she was adopted. They'd found her playing with their own children. It was discovered she had no parents or relatives, and so the Whitmans had adopted her. She hadn't been more than two or three at the time. It was true that she loved the Whitmans and it was evident that they loved her but sometimes Alys grew unexplainably lonely for her real family. Whoever they are, she thought to herself. The only link to her past was a silver bracelet with the name Morganhorn carved into it in delicate lettering. Alys shook off the memories and speculations and knelt on the ground next to Sheila, who was planting flowers. "I had a good time. We went to see 'Devil's Race' like I've been wanting to, and then Pris took me to lunch," Alys said, pushing her hand into the soft, warm soil. She picked up some and let it sift through her fingers.

"Sounds like fun," Sheila commented, brushing away a tendril of red hair. "Was the movie as good as it looked?"

Alys gave a short not, her dark curls falling forward to frame her face. "I enjoyed it. The graphics were out of this world, but the storyline could have used some help," she said with a wry smile. Sheila returned the smiled with a laugh.

"That's usually the way it is with movies these days, isn't it?" she asked. Then she gestured to the gardening tools lying beside her.

"Want to help me finish the zinnias? Then we can go inside and have dinner," Sheila said, and Alys shrugged.

"Sure, why not?" she said, picking up a trowel and scooting closer to the flower bed. Two heads, one bright and one dark, bent over their work and the sound of friendly conversation drifted away on the late afternoon breeze to settle in the warm, dusky air.

#4
Jason Solo

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Very interesting, I look forward to reading more. :)

#5
Kokeshi_Doll769

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Chapter Three

A dark figure paced the immaculate, black marble floor. It was a man, solid and strong in stature, and well muscled. The large cowel he wore shrouded his visage. His hands, folded beneath the dark drapings of his heavy black cloak, were large and strong like the rest of him. He was awe- and fear inspiring, and fully conscious of it. His pacing was interrupted as something small and squat scuttled up to him.

"Master, I bring tidings," it croaked. The man stopped squarely in front of the creature, and it trembled visibly.

"What news have you of the old one?" His voice was soft and menacing, deadly for all its quietness. The thing before him gulped, a strange thump-sloshing noise.

"She has reached the Portal, Master. Through it she went, yes, before my fellows and I could stop her." The goblin gulped again, growing increasingly nervous as the minutes passed.

"I see," the man said, and there was a rustle of dark robes as he reached up, seemingly to push back his hood. He merely pulled it further forward, shadowing his mysterious face. "So she is on the other side?"

The goblin ducked its head once, shaking with fear. "Yes, my Master," it managed to squeak out. The man clucked disapprovingly, as a mother would to a wayward child.

"This news is greatly disturbing, and I am displeased. I don't like to be displeased, no, not at all," he said, his voice cold. "Those who displease me don't get much of a chance to warn others against the folly. Pity," the man mused, stroking his chin thoughtfully. His voice seemed to take on a kind note. "You were faithful and loyal--" He paused, fixing his piercing gaze on the pitiful, shivering creature in front of him. His voice was suddenly hard and cruel.

"Apparently not loyal enough. You failed me. In failing me, you allowed those of the Order to gain the upper hand. We of the Chaos cannot afford to have failures among us. Therefore, those who are slack in their callings must be eliminated." In one swift, sharp movement, a knife appeared in the man's hand, gleaming wickedly in the half-light. The poor goblin gave a terrified squeak and tried to scuttle out of the way, but the knife fell, burying itself to the hilt in the pitiful creature's back. It gave an agonized gurgle, twitching and flopping, still trying to escape. Finally, it lay still, the tattered carcass lying in a crumpled heap. The man nudged it none too gently with a booted toe, then retrieved his bloodied dagger. Gazing at it, he cocked his head and showed his gleaming teeth in a feral smile. He ran his tongue along the edge of the blade, cleaning the darkness of the blood from the white glimmer of its metal. Once all traces of the blood were gone, it disappeared beneath his concealing robes. Giving the goblin's battered body one last, disdainful glance, he snapped his fingers and several more of the creatures scuttled out. Their thin moans of grief for their companion fell on deaf ears. The man stood apart from them; cold, aloof, unfeeling. Quickly, the other goblins cleared away the mess and left the man alone. Alone with his frustrations and his thoughts.

"So she has reached the other side," he rumbled, seating himself in a great marbled throne. His voice echoed throughout the cavern, sounding even more formidable as it was amplified a thousand-fold. It sounded slightly muffled, emerging from somewhere in the depthless cave of his hood. His eyes glittered redly as an occasional shard of dim light glanced off them. He drummed his fingers on the cold hard stone beneath his hand. Suddenly, he was upon his feet again.

"Curse them! Fools, all of them, to let her slip through their grasp!" he cried, pacing furiously. His voice took on a plaintive note.

"So close...so close!" he said, then he stopped his restless pacing. He stood still, his eyes closed, arms at his sides. When he opened his eyes again, they glittered a deep, cold sea green.

"I shall have to do this my way." He turned his head slowly, gazing around the cavern, his eyes piercing the blackness around him.

"Leave me!" he roared suddenly, and his voice was oddly sibilant. "Leave me..." he whispered again into the dark. There were shuffles and scratchings as hidden creatures slithered out of the chamber. At last he stood alone with the night. He stood absolutely still. There was an odd series of sounds, the hollow, blood-curdling sounds of bones creaking and stretching and popping in unnatural ways. The man's chest heaved violently and he raised his eyes to the opening in the ceiling. His cowel fell back, revealing his terrible, scarred face. There was a blinding flash of non-light that swallowed the darkness whole and left a void of nothingness. The sound of heavy breathing filled the chamber. Half-light glinted off steel-gray claws and white fangs. There was the sound of hard scales on rock as a great lithe form moved into a large pool of moonlight. There was a rush of sound and wind as the form spread its wings and took flight through the opening in the ceiling of the chamber, and then a silver dragon was silhouetted against the night sky.

#6
Kokeshi_Doll769

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Chapter Four

Alys sat alone in the dark on the front porch. It had been a long day, but an enjoyable and rewarding one. And yet, that strange young man at the cafe...something about him was frustratingly familiar, and it bothered Alys that she couldn't put her finger on it. Behind her, the porch light clicked on, startling her. The screen door creaked open and shut, and Sheila and Terrence appeared next to her. "What a beautiful night!" Sheila breathed, taking her husband by the hand and seating herself next to Alys. Terrence and Alys both nodded.

"Yeah. Look, the stars are out," Alys said, raising her face to them and blinking her silver eyes. Sheila reached over and brushed Alys's curls away from her face with a cool, gentle hand. Alys allowed a fond smile.

"We love you, honey, very much. We always have. We always will. But there is something we never told you." Sheila paused and Alys turned her silver gaze on the woman next to her.

"What?" she asked. Sheila looked away; Terrence studied the ground. Neither would meet her eyes.

"What?" she persisted, and Sheila sighed sadly.

"We told you we found you playing with Scott and Jen one day. But that is only partly true. There was a woman with you." Sheila paused again and turned her brown eyes to meet Alys's silver ones.

"She looked barely older than eighteen, but she seemed ageless. She spoke to us. She told us that you were to be left with us, and that we were to raise you. She said that we were chosen because we would not let you stray. Then she knelt next to you and spoke in a strange and beautiful language that you seemed to understand. She kissed you, and then she simply turned around and walked away. We never saw her again." Sheila's large brown eyes were pleading. Alys looked away, staring at nothing in the darkness beyond the pool of the porch light. Her throat hurt, strangely enough, and she swallowed several times to dispel the tightness.

"You knew my mother? Why...why did you not tell me this before?" she asked, her words tumbling out in a sudden rush. She realized how incredibly full of her hidden longing they had been, but it was too late now to recall them. She blinked against the sudden sting of unwelcome tears and glanced at the woman next to her. Sheila was also struggling with tears and Alys felt a twinge of guilt. But before she could speak again, Sheila broke the silence. Her gentle whisper was full of the pain that tore at Alys's own heart.

"We were afraid that if we told you before that you would...would leave us. We've grown far too fond of you, I'm afraid. The woman - your mother - said that one day you would leave us and we would never see you again. I guess we were trying to prevent the inevitable," she said. A single tear crept down her cheek, and in a sudden gesture of love Alys reached out and brushed it away. She mustered a smile, pushing her own feeling of betrayal out of her mind. She realized that it had been just as painful to reveal as it had been to hear the revelation.

"I understand," she whispered softly, although deep inside she did not. Sheila reached over to smooth away an auburn curl. Her brown eyes spoke her thanks to Alys for her acceptance of the truth that had been so hard to tell. They were silent for a few moments, and then Terrence's uncomfortable cough broke the spell.

"It's, er, awfully late. We should be getting to bed, don't you think?" he asked, and Sheila nodded. She gave Alys's curls one last ruffle and stood.

"Don't stay up too late, love," she said softly. The screen door opened and shut, and Alys sat alone again, a newly-enlightened outcast. She let her tired head sink slowly to her drawn up knees, seeking release from the emotional pressure this new information had brought. Hot tears squeezed out from beneath her closed lids. She was so tired, suddenly stripped of the security she thought she'd found. A grief she did not understand gripped at her heart, squeezing, always constricting. She felt hollow, drained of all that she had been. What was she now? Who was she? Thoughts flitted restlessly through her tired brain, teasing at her, calling out fragments of memories she could not quite grasp. Her mind drifted farther and farther from reality, and she dozed. She was nearly surrounded by the more comforting folds of sleep when a touch at her shoulder startled her awake. She looked up into the wizened features of an old woman. She looked older than the mountains, older than life itself. Wisps of hair floated freely about her face, making a halo of white. She spoke.

"You are the Young One," she said in a creaking whisper. Alys simply stared at her. The crone shuffled closer, and Alys swallowed hard against the lonely ache for her own people that came in a sudden throat-constricting rush.

"You are the Young One," the old lady repeated, her rusty voice insistent.

"What are you talking about?" Alys said, standing up and backing away. "Look, ma'am, if you're looking for the local shelter, I can -"

The old woman cut her off with a single sharp glance. "You know very well what I am talking about, Alys Morganhorn," she said, and Alys froze in her tracks.

"How do you know my name?" she said in a small whisper. She tried to move away from the crone, but her body would not respond. The old woman pointed a skinny finger.

"A great many things I know about you, Alys Morganhorn. You live in this world, yet you are not of it. You can sense the evil gathering, growing stronger every day. You are the Young One. The Twelve have told me so. The Twelve know," she said, her creaking voice growing stronger with every affirmation. Alys stared at her in amazement. The old woman reached beneath her tattered, dirty cloak and brought something out in a tightly clutched fist. With the other hand, she took Alys's wrist. Her grip was surprisingly strong, and Alys didn't resist it. She allowed the old woman to place something round and smooth in her hand and close her fingers tightly about it. The crone let go of her wrist. Alys pulled her hand in close to her chest, keeping her fingers wrapped about the smooth orb the old lady had given her.

"A precious and powerful thing have I given you, Alys Morganhorn. Keep it well; see that it does not fall into hands that would use it wrongfully. My time grows short. The longer I am in this world, the more danger I am to you. Farewell, for we will not meet again," the crone said, and turned to walk away.

"Wait!" Alys cried, confused. The first inklings of apprehension were clutching at her heart. The woman turned back to her and waited for her to speak.

"What am I to do with this?" she asked, her silver eyes wide. The woman looked at her, her black gaze piercing Alys and holding her where she stood.

"On the night when the moon hides her face and the wind is restless in the trees, you must take it to where to stars are the brightest. There you will find one who can help you." With that, she turned and disappeared into the inky darkness beyond, leaving Alys alone.

#7
ghurka

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w00ties! i love it!

#8
Kokeshi_Doll769

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Chapter Five

Toren strode quickly towards the chamber where he knew the Twelve were waiting. He reached the great oaken doors and the guards stood aside, one of them opening the doors so he could pass through. He stepped through into the warm dusk.

"My apologies, great ones, for my tardiness," he said loudly, his voice ringing with a confidence he did not quite feel. Going before the Twelve was always somewhat nerve-racking. From various points in the room there was the rustle of robes, but no answer. As Toren's eyes slowly adjusted to the dim light, he began to make out the Twelve councillors seated on the raised semi-circle. All were cloaked and hooded, all but the one in the middle. She sat a little higher than the rest, and her cowl hung down her back. A single beam of light knifed through the dusk, illuminating her features. Her dark chestnut hair was smoothed away from her high-cheekboned face, and her silver-gray eyes tilted upward slightly. She gave Toren and small nod and he bowed low.

"My Lady," he murmured, and stood again.
"Has the old one accomplished her task?" she asked in a low, melodious voice.
Toren nodded. "She has, my Lady."
"It it well for us then, Toren Hadwyn. You are aware of your next task?"
"I am, my Lady."
"Then go, and return with the Young One."
"I will. I take my leave. My Lady." He acknowledged her with another low bow, and departed from the chamber.
* * * * *
"You can't win, Jagganath," the old crone called into the night. "I have delivered what the Twelve sent me to deliver; I have accomplished my task. My calling has ended. Come and get me, ******* son of the Chaos!"

She stood tall, her hair flying wildly about her face. Her eyes shone, and the years seemed to fall away. From a distant corner of the grove, she heard a snuffle. She watched in triumphant silence as a dragon's lithe, snake-like form slithered out from its hiding place in the trees. The moon, hanging full in the star-choked sky above them, glinted off his dangerously sharp talons and teeth. He spoke, and his voice seared the old one's mind.

-We meet again-

The crone nodded once. "Yes, Jagganath. One never ending round," she said softly. His voice was a fire storm in her head.

-You challenged me. Do you stand to your challenge- The great dragon was coiled and wary, ready to counter and move she might make.

"My word is my bond, Jagganath. I see you choose to face me as the Wyrm, though. Are you that fearful of me, old friend?" she said. Her black eyes glittered with a strange light.

The dragon rumbled deep in his throat, and thin wisps of smoke curled about his quivering nostrils. -Fool! What makes you think I fear you? I am all-powerful. I fear none. The Wyrm is merely a manifestation of my powers-

"Really now. You always did make an awful liar, Jagganath."

The dragon made a furious sound deep in his throat and flame licked around his mouth. -Let it begin-
* * * * *
"How much time did she say?" Gregor asked again. Toren sighed.

"How many times must I tell you, wax-for-ears? She didn't. All she said was 'Then go, and return with the Young One.'"

Gregor smiled in his imp-like way. "Aye! Of course. I remember now." He struck a gallant pose. "Soon the Young One will meet her knight in shining armor!" He paused and looked to see if Toren appreciated his statement. His friend merely rolled his eyes and shot him a wry smile. Gregor was certainly handsome, with his silver-blue eyes and his mop of black hair. However, his rakish attitude seemed to hinder more than help him. Girls avoided him like the plague.

Although Gregor and Toren looked a lot alike, anyone who looked at them would not have guessed the two of them were best friends. Toren was quiet, Gregor was loud. Toren was pragmatic, Gregor spent most of his free time running risks and pushing the limits. Toren was dependable; Gregor, of course, was just the opposite. But the two had grown up together and, as unlikely as it seemed, were inseparable.

Toren stuffed the last of his clothing into his knapsack and slung it over his shoulder.

"What makes you think she will be any different than any of the other girls you chase?" he asked. Gregor grinned and winked at him.

"You'll see," was all he would say. Then he grew serious. "Take care, my friend. Many dangers await you," he said, clasping Toren's had and shaking it firmly. Toren nodded.

"I will. You take care, friend, to not scare the girls too badly while I'm gone." He half-saluted Gregor and strode away down the long hallway to the main entrance. The guards parted to let him pass through, and then with a loud, hollow boom, the doors sealed behind him. He stood still for a moment, letting the fullness of his next task sink in. Then he squared his shoulders and took a deep breath. On to the Portal.

#9
Kokeshi_Doll769

Kokeshi_Doll769

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Chapter Six

Alys could not get to sleep, no matter how hard she tried. Upon the old woman's leaving she had opened her hand to see what she had been given. It had been somewhat disappointing to see it was only a simple marble. A rather large and beautiful one, perhaps, but a marble nevertheless. It was translucent,with silver flecks that danced and swirled endlessly about in it. When held just right in the light, she could just barely see a faint pearly sheen to it. But for all its apparent beauty, Alys could see nothing very special about it. After coming in the house and going upstairs to her room, she had set it on her night stand and fallen into bed, feeling so tired that she should have been asleep in minutes. But, here it was, three in the morning and she was wide awake, staring at the marble and wondering at it. She stood slowly and went to her window, gazing out at the thickly clustered stars.

"On the night when the moon hides her face..." she murmured to herself, not truly comprehending the words her mouth formed. She let her eyes wander up and down the quiet street; not a soul was awake with the exception of her. No, wait; there. She saw it again. A flicker of movement, across the street. She narrowed her eyes and then gave a small gasp. It was the young man from the cafe'! He was cloaked and hooded but something in the way he moved told her it was him. He turned toward her and pushed back his hood. Their silver gazes locked for a moment, and then he was gone. Alys blinked in surprise and her eyes flicked up and down the street, searching...but he was gone, suddenly and unexplainably.

"How strange..." she said softly to herself. Letting a silky lock of her hair curl gently around one finger, she turned away from the window, leaving it open to the night air. She was incredibly tired. She pulled the covers back on her bed and climbed in. She was asleep before her head touched the pillow.
* * * * *
Alys woke the next morning to bright sunshine streaming across her bed, and the pain in her heart dulled to a hollow ache. She lay quietly for a moment before pushing herself up to a sitting position.

"Man," she said, yawning. "What a weird night." She stood and stretched, letting the warm sunlight wash over her. It felt good and the hurt of last night faded a little more. She smiled in spite of herself.

"Alys?" Sheila's voice came drifting up the stairway, breaking through her reverie.

"Yeah?" she called back.
"Breakfast is nearly ready. Could you make sure Scott and Jen are awake? Then you three come on down."
"Sure." Alys slipped her nightshirt off and pulled on jeans and a nondescript green T-shirt. She walked down the hall and knocked on Scott's door. There was a grunt, a moment of silence, then a sleepy-eyed Scott cracked the door. He squinted out at her.

"What do you want?" he asked, running fingers through his unruly flame-red hair. Alys smiled cheerfully as she pushed through and walked to his window. She flung open the curtains with a flourish.

"Behold the light of day," she said with a grin.
"Yeah, yeah. I see it," the 18-year-old grumbled. "Now leave so I can dress."
"Certainly, dear brother," she said, and bowed mockingly. She straightened and, grinning impishly, bolted for the door, barely escaping the pillow thrown her way. She heard it plump against the door as she closed it and headed for Jen's room. She knocked softly.

"Come in," came the gentle response. Alys pushed the door open slowly and stepped inside. The bed was already made neatly, and her 15-year-old sister lay sprawled on the soft cream carpet, reading. She looked thoroughly absorbed; but then again, Jen managed to look thoroughly absorbed in nearly anything and everything she did. Alys plopped down next to her.

"Whatcha reading?" she asked. Jen turned the book so that Alys could read the title, and kept on reading.

"The Mystics of the Lost Realm," Alys read aloud. She cocked an eyebrow. "Is it good?"

"Mmmm-hmm," came the slightly muffled reply. Alys nodded.

"Cool," she said. She pushed herself up. "Mom's got breakfast. Do you think you can put it down long enough to eat?"

Jen glanced up and smiled a sugary smile at Alys's smart aleck comment. Reluctantly, she marked her book and set it on her dresser.

"Don't worry," Alys said, her silver eyes sparkling mischeivously. "It won't go anywhere." She laughed and then darted away as Jen reached out to slap her shoulder. Scott joined them in the hallway, catching Alys in a headlock and allowing Jen to bestow the noogie. Alys twisted free of Scott's grip and they all three ran tumbling down the stairs, breathless and laughing, into the kitchen where breakfast was waiting.
* * * * *
Outside, in the great old oak, Toren was waiting, too. Time passes too slowly for one who is waiting, he thought to himself. He suppressed a sigh and shifted to find a more comfortable position. The large branches swayed slightly with his movement and he took care to move more gently. It wouldn't do him any good to be discovered by the Young One's Earthside protectors now. His sensitive hearing caught a sudden change in the pitch of the wind; barely audible, though not hidden to one trained to hear it. He had spent all of his nineteen Turns honing his senses and his body and was rewarded by moments like these. The front door slamming and the sound of voices startled him. He peered through the dark green of the leaves and caught a glimpse of the Young One's male guardian, the one they called Terrence Whitman. His wife, Sheila, was with him. Apparently, he was leaving for work. Toren sat back. He let his gaze meander, following one of the branches upward and upward, until he was squinting against the sun. Closing his eyes, he let his acute hearing do the work. He heard the car start and pull slowly out of the driveway; he heard Sheila call her good-byes and the shuffle of her sandals on the porch as she stepped back inside. Then he was alone again. He turned his attention back to the strange note in the breeze. It was a thin wail, undulant, rising and falling always. It whispered of a storm, of thunder and lightning. But it did not sing of rain. Toren smiled grimly. Tonight was the night. Tonight, he would bring the Young One through the Portal. Tonight, her would bring her home.

#10
Pada-Wan Kenobi

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I'm only at the beginning of chapter 5, but so far I LOVE it! It's got an echo of Ann McCafrey...

#11
ghurka

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it's cool that you're coming back more often pada.

i know i know, it's a shame that i haven't posted anything on here yet. one day it'll all come out in my book :) . no worries.

can't wait fr the other chapters! i LOVE reading!

#12
Kokeshi_Doll769

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Chapter Seven

The forest rang with the cries of heated battle. In the lone clearing the old one stood, her clothes even more ragged and her hair singed. But her countenance shone. The great, lithe dragone circled her warily. She had proved to be a more difficult opponent that he had originally thought. No matter, he reasoned. She was weakening rapidly, her strength gradually draining away. The magic she used was taking its toll. His mouth gaped open in a feral smile and saliva dripped from his fangs. He spoke.

-You grow weak, old one- he taunted, searing her aged mind with his own fiery thoughts. She simply smiled strangely.

"I knew this day would come, Jagganath. As did you. There is nothing hidden between us. You and I both know you will emerge victorious. But that does not mean I will give up so easily."

The dragon snuffled, laughing, and tiny hints of flame flickered and licked about his snout. -Yes. You always did make me fight for what I wanted. I will not deny that you taught me many great lessons. But you remain a fool. The Order is a lost cause. We of the Chaos will dominate-

Without warning, he struck, his powerful neck snaking forward with lightning speed. The old crone darted out of the way, but she was not quick enough. White-hot pain stabbed through her and she looked down to find her shoulder laid open to the bone. She clamped her hand onto it and the dark red of her blood oozed between her fingers. The dragon laughed again, scalding her mind. He ran his dark tongue over his fangs where they were stained with her vlood. She stood still, one arm limp and wet with blood, the other rigid as she clutched her wound. Her black eyes blazed. Her voice was soft and deadly.

"Take me, Jagganath. Cast me down and rip the heart from my chest. Drink my blood. But beware the Order, Jagganath. You may have won this battle but you have yet to win the war."

She watched as the dragon coiled himself and made ready to spring, watched as he launched himself at her, felt the great, bone-crushing weight as she was knocked to and pinned to the ground. She saw him draw back his head and his chest swelled; she head the fire within him, deep down inside. Then it was all about her, one raging hell. It seared her skin and burned the flesh from her bones. With one great cry, she gathered the last of her failing strength and called out in a strange language. A great white light exploded about her, enveloping her. She saw the dragon jerk back in surprise...and then he stood alone. She was gone. He looked warily about him, searching for some sign of her. There was none, save for a faint shimmer to the air. He scratched at the ground in front of him and sniffed at it. The his head jerked up as he heard, faintly, the echo of a triumphant cackle.
* * * * *
Although the pleasantness of the morning had promised otherwise, by nightfall thunderheads had appeared on the horizon and were growing steadily larger. Alys watched their approach from her bedroom window. The peaceful afternoon had taken on a mean note, gusting through the trees and dancing with their branches. Alys felt strange; all day she had been wary, and for no reason she could pinpoint. Now, as she gazed out at the menacing billows of blackish gray, it suddenly dawned on her. With a soft cry, she whispered the words of the crone to herself.

"On the night when the moon hides her face and the wind is restless in the trees, you must take it to where the stars are the brightest...There you will find one who can help you..." Her whisper died away and she stared off into space.

One who can help you. The words rang in her mind. One who can help you. Alys felt strangely comforted by the mysterious phrase. Her mind drifted from the present to recall the strange events of the day before...first the boy at the cafe', Sheila's confession, and then the old woman last night. She felt somehow they were connected and instinct told her that tonight she would find out. A sudden chill made her flesh crawl. The angry thunderheads were overhead now, and the gusting wind was growing stronger. Alys nodded grimly, barely conscious of the motion. Tonight was the night. But where? Alys's silver eyes narrowed briefly as they focused on Tamar's Point. Then her eyes widened as the idea came.

"Of course!" she said aloud. "Why didn't I think of it before?" A slow grin spread across her face, but there was no mirth in it. She left her room and walked downstairs. Terrence was gone to work. Sheila was outside finishing the gardening, and both Scott and Jen were out with friends. She picked up the phone and dialed Priscilla's number.

"Hello, Pris? Listen, Pris, I need your car tonight. There's something I have to do."

#13
Kokeshi_Doll769

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Chapter Eight

"My car? Why mine?" Priscilla's voice was incredulous. Alys closed her eyes and swallowed hard. Priscilla's car was her most prized possession She rarely ever let it out of her site.

"I...I need it for something." Alys could feel her face turn red. This wasn't going to work.

"For what something?" Priscilla asked in her no-nonsense voice. Alys sighed. The game was up.

"I need to get to Tamar's Point. Tonight. And Terrence has the car. He won't be home in time."

"In time for what? You're crazy. Why do you want to go to Tamar's Point in this weather? You're kidding me, right?"

Alys sighed. Maybe this hadn't been such a good idea after all. "No Pris, I'm not. I need to go to the Point tonight."

"Can you at least tell me what inspired this craziness?"
"No."
"No? NO? You call me up and ask to use my car, and then won't tell me why? I don't think so, Alys. What's going on here?"
"I...I can't tell you. I don't know why, but I can't. I can't let you get involved."
"Either way, I am now. You can use my car. On ONE condition. I come." Priscilla's voice told Alys that there was no room for negotiation. She sighed.

"All right, I give up. I need your car and if the only way I can get it is if you come...then you'll have to come."

The minute the words were out of her mouth, she regretted them. She heard Priscilla's derisive snort.

"Thanks for making me feel so loved, buddy ol' pal. It makes me feel so warm and fuzzy inside to know you care so much."

Alys winced at the bitterness in the other's voice. "Pris, I--"
Priscilla cut her short. "What time?"
Alys winced again. "I...I'm not sure."
Priscilla made a noise of disgust. Alys's heart sank. She wasn't going to...
"Look, whenever you're...ready or whatever...for this spur-of-the-moment jaunt, call me. I'll come get you." Priscilla's voice was bitter and resigned, and Alys felt a twinge of guilt. In all the many years they'd been friends, they had never once kept anything from each other. Until now. True, she had not been told by the old woman to keep this under wraps, but something inside would not allow her to utter a word of it.

"Pris, I'm sorry. I just...this is something I can't share right now," Alys said, but she sensed her apology wasn't going to help.

"Sure, I understand. Call me when you're ready." There was an audible click as Priscilla hung up and Alys slowly did the same. She started as the front door slammed and the tall Scott bounded in. Alys wrinkled her nose as he passed her. He saw her distasteful expression and laughed.

"What, you expect me to smell like some June rose after basketball practice? You're nuts." He ran a hand through his damp red hair and plucked at his sweat soaked tank top. Alys stuck her tongue out at him and he did the same. Then he reached into the fridge and pulled out the water jug. He had pulled off the lid and was about to take a swig when Sheila walked in from the outside.

"Ah ah ah, Scottie. I don't think so. We have a cupboard full of glasses and you know where they are," she said, and shook a finger at him.

"For shame, Scottie. You know better than that. And once you're done with the water jug, refill it. No, I don't want to hear it! Rules are rules, Scottie."

Alys shot Scott and I-told-you-so grin and ambled out of the kitchen. She peered outside at the low-hanging clouds. Was it her imagination, or were they a funny purplish color? She closed her strange eyes and slowly shook her dark head. She was beginning to have doubts about this, but it was too late to turn back. One who can help you. The old woman's words rang again through her doubts, chasing them back to hide in the dusty and forgotten corners of her mind.

"Something wrong?"

Alys's eyes snapped open at the sound of Sheila's soft-spoken question and she mentally scolded herself for being so jumpy.

"No. Nothing's wrong," she said softly. She felt Sheila give her shoulder a reassuring squeeze and then the sting of unwelcome tears. She felt lost and confused, but tears wouldn't help anything right now. She swallowed her grief and pushed her nagging doubts away. Everything was in order for tonight. All that was left to do was wait.

#14
ghurka

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:) ..
cya lu

#15
Kokeshi_Doll769

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...why am I even posting this...it's s***...*sigh*

#16
Pada-Wan Kenobi

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No it isn't. This is good stuff; you're really good with descriptions, which is the one area I have serious trouble with. I like how you're telling this story--keep going!

#17
Kokeshi_Doll769

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argh, stupid dial-up connection...I'm not going to be able to work on this as often as I'd like

#18
ghurka

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Kokeshi_Doll769:
argh, stupid dial-up connection...I'm not going to be able to work on this as often as I'd like :(

augh!

#19
Pada-Wan Kenobi

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*yawns and leans back in chair* That's the problem with long stories that get posted here. They never get finished...

*whistles innocently*

It's ok, we can wait patiently :)

#20
Callista, Jedi Knight

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It's excellent reading Kokeshi_Doll! thumbs_u

#21
Kokeshi_Doll769

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Chapter Nine

Ryu Fortress was a bustle of activity. There was much to do before the Young One was to arrive. The Twelve had ordered the Fortress cleaned from top to bottom, and everyone was working in a frenzy, for it was the eve of the second day since Toren had left them, and they did not know when he would return with the Young One. The Twelve had thought it better to be safe than sorry. But there was an excitement in the air, and many felt that this was the night. And oh, what a night it was! Dark clouds roiled overhead and the magical tension was so great that the air virtually crackled with it. Those who carried the magic within them felt the every growing animosity between the naturaly forces of the Order and the Chaos, and the burden was a heavy one. Several of the younger Apprentice Mages had found their way into the Healer's Corridor, their faces white and drawn with the strain. The Healer, Kellen, did what he could for them, although he also suffered some mild effects himself.

In the mess hall, Gregor grew increasingly nervous as the hours passed. He glanced at the great old clock several times in the course of half an hour, yet it seemed to him that the hands never moved. The evening meal had long since been done and cleaned away, and the large, echoing hall seemed to be the only place where Gregor could be alone. He had done his share of the work with unusual quietness, being carefully thorough. He didn't feel he could stand being called back again and again to redo a job when his nerves were shot already. He glanced at the clock again. Toren had been gone for what seemed to Gregor a very long time. Would this intolerable waiting never end? Gregor was not, by nature, a very patient person. He itched to be in the thick of things, with the spotlight on him and only him. Gregor slowed his furious pacing and pressed his fingers to his temples, massaging them slowly. He forced himself to calm down, to stretch his patience beyond its normal span. He heard a tentative knock on the door and rolled his eyes wearily. What now? The young daughter of the cook stuck her head in and Gregor stood with his arms folded across his chest, lips pursed. The young girl bobbed a curtsey.

"Beggin' thy pardon, sir, but all the Mages are askin' after thee. They say the Twelve wants to speek to thee." Her girlish voice was high and sweet, accompanied by the lilting accent that was characteristic of those who dwelt in the lands around the fortress. She gazed up at him with innocent brown eyes. Gregor judged she couldn't be more than nine or ten Turns at best. Forgetting his inital annoyance, he cocked an eyebrow at her.

"The Mages? And the Twelve, you say. Do you know what they want me for?" he asked, squatting down so that his silver-blue eyes were level with her wide brown ones.

"Oh no, sir! Not me. I'm only a simple maid-girl," she said. Gregor smiled at her innocent honesty and, winking, chucked her gently under the chin.

"And a pretty one, too," he answered. His smile grew as she dimpled, blushing. Then a faint call drifted towards them.

"Lannie! Lannie? Drat thee, girl, y'keep a-runnin' off and thy chores isn't half done yet!"

Lannie's brown eyes grew wide and she bobbed another curtsey, made a hasty apology, and dashed off before Gregor could say a word more. He stood and chuckled to himself. He gazed after her a moment, then turned and headed the opposite way, his mouth set in a grim line. If the Twelve wanted to see him, then maybe things were not going as well as they'd hoped. He quickened his step.

Outside, the Chaotic storm stewed and boiled, sullen and gray-black, preparing to make this night one utter, living hell.
* * * * *
Alys jerked awake, astonished to hear her labored breathing and find herself in a cold sweat. She gazed about her room, trying to find was had seemingly frightened her so, but the search was in vain. A sudden bright flash of light demanded her immediate attention, and she looked out of her open window at the purple, green, and black masses of clouds that hung low and sullen in the sky. She slowly swung her legs over the side of the bed and sat, silent and staring, at the roiling, angry mass. Something had awakened her, she knew it. She felt it. Her silver eyes swept across the room again. Then something moved. Something large and dark and hairy. Twin points of green burned brightly and the sound of the thing's suddenly heavy breathing reached her ears. Alys choked back a scream of terror as the creature moved slowly closer. It was big, and bristling with grayish-black fur. Alys could see the powerful muscles bunching and knotting and rippling. Its muzzle was wet with stringy saliva, and its canines curved wickedly to sharp points. It growled deep in its chest and stopped, tensing, in the middle of her room. Alys tried to move, but found that her muscles would not respond to her near-frantic mental commands. The monster crept closer, and finally, sheer terror of the thing drove Alys to movement. She scrambled backwards over the bed and crouched down, so that her bed was between her and the intruder. The creature pulled its lips back over its teeth, and Alys had the unpleasant impression that it was leering at her. She realized, with a sinking feeling, that it had expected her to do that. She knew that if it had expected that, it was anticipating her every move. Her mind raced. Her gaze darted about the room. The door was to her left, her desk was at her back. The creature watched her keenly, still tensed and ready to spring. Alys slowly reached behind her, keeping her eyes locked on the monster across the bed from her. Her fingers brushed the leg of her desk chair and her hand closed on it. Alys watched the creature to see what it would do. It sat, seemingly relaxed, but Alys caught the telltale bunching of muscles in its powerful shoulders. A moment later it launched itself at her, and with a surge of adrenaline, she yanked the chair away from the desk, and bringing it around in front of her, twisting it so the back of the chair hit her knees and the legs were up in the air. She had just enough time to brace herself before the creature's weight slammed into her. It nearly knocked her over backwards, but she saw, with grim satisfaction, that one of the chair legs caught the monster square in the throat. It gave an agonized snarl and twisted away from the blunt pike. Seeing her chance, Alys shoved the chair savagely forward, driving the legs into the creature's exposed ribcage. It yelped and Alys scrambled to her feet. She snatched a heavy ceramic paperweight from her desk and raised her arm as if to throw it. By that time, the hulking beast had managed to regain its own footing and was crouched, snarling, in front of her. Alys suddenly remembered the marble and snatched that up, too. She nearly dropped it again. It was burning with an intense heat, and Alys opened her hand. It glowed a golden-orange, and the light emanating from it seemed to pulse. The silver flecks in the center were swirling madly about. Alys grit her teeth against the searing pain, against the white-hot burning. The creature in front of her caught sight of the talisman and emitted a low, hateful growl. Alys looked from the marble to the beast and an idea came to her. Setting the paperweight down on the floor, she held the marble out in front of her, wincing slightly as the hot glass burned the tips of her fingers. The monster suddenly seemed smaller, less menacing. It continued to growl its hatred, and then, to Alys's complete and utter astonishment, it began to blow away. First it blurred around the edges and then, like sand driven before the wind, it simply disappeared, a little at a time. Alys watched open-mouthed as the thing slowly disintegrated, until nothing was left but the twin points of green fire that were its eyes. Words formed in her mind, the dark thing's words.

-You cannot hide from the Chaos-

Then the two green lights winked out, and Alys stood alone, shaken and confused. The marble she held had ceased to glow and the burning was gone with it. Still dazed, Alys dressed quickly and made her way quietly downstairs. At the entrance to the kitchen she hesitated. She'd told Priscilla she'd call when she was ready, but now...Alys shook her dark head. This was something she had to do by herself. She pulled her shoes on and, with one last look around, stepped outside.

"Ready or not, here I come," she whispered, and disappeared down the street.

#22
ghurka

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awesome! i love it

#23
Kokeshi_Doll769

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Chapter Ten

"Step forward, Gregor Kaye." The command came suddenly, startlingly, from out of the darkness. Gregor, fighting the butterflies in his stomach, took a step forward and dropped to one knee, bowing low. He kept his eyes riveted on the richly polished wood he stood on as he raised himself up.

"Look upon me, Gregor Kaye."

Gregor slowly raised his silver-blue eyes, and they came to rest on the face of the strikingly beautiful Lady before him. Her countenance was calm, her silver-gray eyes piercing.

"Gregor Kaye." There was music in her quiet voice. Their gazes locked. "Do you know why you were called before us?" she asked.

"No, my Lady."

"You are one of the Order's finest spellworkers. We commend you for your achievements." She paused. Gregor opened his mouth to thank her, but she held up a slim hand to stop him. "You are trustworthy, when you choose to be. You are diligent, when you choose to be. You are capable of great works, when you choose to be. We have called you before us because we need you, Gregor Kaye. We need you to be trustworthy, diligent, and most of all, brave."

Her candor and her reprimands stung Gregor, but he shoved his feelings aside and nodded in acquiescence.

"What would you have me do, my Lady?" he asked quietly. The Lady's eyes grew imperceptibly wider and she hesitated, but for the merest instant only.

"We need you to contruct a Wall of Forbidding."

Gregor's jaw dropped. "A Wall of Forbidding? But, my Lady, that spell has only been cast successfully twice in all of our history!"

"Remember also that we have only had need of it twice before in all of our history."

"Forgive me, my Lady, but I cannot do what you ask of me. I am only newly adopted into full Magehood! It would be sheer madness for me to even consider going out there tonight. The wood will be crawling with the minions of the Chaos and they would rip any creature of the Order to pieces in mere seconds!" Gregor's voice rose, growing steadily louder. The Lady simply watched him, her smooth face placid as she listened to his protestations.

"You think I do not realize this myself?" she asked, her melodious voice full of reproach. "I know full well the dangers you face. I also know that your friend, Toren Hadwyn, will be facing the same." She paused, her silver-gray eyes piercing Gregor. "And you know as well as I do that Toren would do the same for you. If what you say about the outside world is true, then you must do this. You forget that the Young One is on her way to us, and Toren's protection alone will not be enough. His own magic will be wearing thin, for going through the Portal is a draining task. In his weakened state, he will not be able to offer the Young One sufficient protection from the forces of the Chaos, and she does not yet fully realize all her powers. It is vital that she reach our Fortress. If you will not help, she will surely be overcome and lost to us forever." The Lady's voice was calm,, but it was apparent that she was struggling to hide her true emotion. Gregor gazed at her in amazement. Her hands were clasped together tightly, and her clear silver-gray eyes were clouded although her face betrayed nothing of her inner struggle. They looked at each other for a long moment, and then Gregor nodded. A hint of relief flooded the Lady's face and she allowed a quick smile. Then she was once again regal, composed. Gregor couldn't be sure, but he thought he had seen the glimmer of tears in her eyes. Before he could be certain, she blinked. If there had been tears, they were gone.

"Then go, and prepare yourself, Gregor Kaye, for tonight he brings her. You are dismissed."

Gregor bowed low again and turned, striding through the great oaken doors that were held open for him. The Lady watched his retreating figure, and she felt her composure slip. Her bottom lip trembled and tears stung her eyes, though she fought to control them.

"I wish to be alone," she said quietly, her voice breaking. There were small noises and a rustling of robes as her eleven councillors departed, making their way to their personal quarters. Then she was alone in the dimly lit chamber, and the guards slowly swung the great doors shut. She felt a tear slide down her bronzed cheek, but she did not move to brush it away. She whispered softly into the ever-deepening dusk.

"Go, Gregor Kaye, and bring my daughter safely to me."
* * * * *
Deep within the Wulfsbanne, where centuries of water's work had carved the stone away, there was a network of caverns of all sizes. Most of them were large, damp, and forbidding. A few low-burning torches lit some of the more frequently traveled passageways, but for the most part, all was dark. Throughout the whole mountainside, an ominous, repetitive booming sounded. Many of the mountains inhabitants were pushing their way deeper into the labyrinth, heading towards the booming. As they came closer, the tunnel began to grow lighter, pervaded by an eerie greenish glow that would flicker and fade, then flare up furiously. One by one, the creatures following the light pushed through into the main cavern. This was the source of both the light and the booming. The deep booming sound emanated from hundreds upon hundreds of drums. Twisted figures bent over them, pounding away furiously with long, bleached bones. They all encircled a large bonfire, the infamous Helfyre, around which danced more gnarled forms, mere shadows lost in the confusion, silhouetted against the pulsing greenish light of the raging fire. At the far end of the elliptical cavern, a dark figure sat alone, raised high above the fire and its fascinated children. He radiated evil, and the powers of the Chaos. He was once again cloaked and cowled; only his eyes were visible, and they glittered a piercing ice blue. He watched the whole frenzied scene with a hint of amusement. The sheer pandemonium pleased him greatly. The creatures in front of him were getting so carried away that some of them were flinging themselves into the bonfire. The cave filled with the pungent odor of charred flesh.

The dark figure raised himself up, standing straight and tall, towering high above his minions. There was one final, resounding crash of the drums, and then a hush fell over all those in attendance. Those who encircled the great fire ceased dancing and all were still, their eyes riveted on the forbidding figure that stood high above them.

"You know why we are here," he said loudly, and his voice echoed across the great cave. "Many of you have waited hundreds of years for this night. And now, it is finally here! What say you to that, my friends?" he asked. There was a great tumult as thousands upon thousands of hoarse voices cried out their approval. The man raised his hands for silence.

"I, too, have anticipated this night. Not only is the land ours for the taking, but tonight is the night that the Young One comes. Once she is through the Portal, we will claim her as our own. I myself will be there to welcome her." The howls of excitement rose in pitch and frenzy, and the man raised his hands again.

"But before we make our way to the Portal there is one thing left to do." He paused, and the silence grew suddenly loud. When the man spoke again, his voice was little more than a whisper.

"I must be Reborn."

#24
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#25
Kokeshi_Doll769

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