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Jogger's Trail (Part 11)

The Last Peril: Lust

By Donna Fox (HKB)Published 7 months ago Updated 7 months ago 10 min read
12
Jogger's Trail (Part 11)
Photo by Michele Wales on Unsplash

This is part 11 (the second last installment), for other installments of Jogger's Trail please click below:

Joggers Trail - Jogger's Trail the Story - Part 2. - Part 3. - Part 4. - Part 5. - Part 6. - Part 7. - Part 8. - Part 9. - Part 10

Suddenly I feel flush, my cheeks burn and my heart begins to race as though I’m running a marathon. My body erupts with a warm and tingly sensation, my stomach turns on itself in excitement and it feels like butterflies.

Emerging from the veil, the Realm of Lust reveals itself to be nothing more than a cave. Dimly lit by torchlight, the flames flickering and reflecting off of hundreds of goblets that sit on shelves along the walls.

In the centre of the room, sits a pedestal with a small basin on top. The inside is filled with a still, clear and harmless appearing substance.

As I continue to observe our surroundings I notice that not only has Mendel not dissipated but I am still in my usual form. But before I can address this, my gaze is drawn to gold lettering that suddenly appears on the wall above the goblets.

“What does that say?” I ask, pointing to the lettering overhead.

“The perils are almost done but all is not yet won. With a time limit you will have to choose, risking death should you lose. Your companions will soon transform, and their immortal lives may be mourned. When time is about to end, you must exit with your friend. Choose carefully which form you prefer as lust can cloud your judgement when changing the lives of murderers.” Mendel mutters, furrowing his brow as he translates and then looking at me in confusion.

“What does that even mean?” He asks, chewing his cheek as he reads it over once more.

Before I can answer, I hear a ticking like a clock. Turning to see a digital clock with golden numbers counting down from five minutes, on the header of the doorway that held the veil.

I thought my heart couldn’t race any faster than it had when I entered this realm, but I was wrong. Seeing the time limit and the time starting to count down, I begin to panic. Walking to the goblets and beginning to examine each one for a hint of what the riddle was trying to tell us.

“What are you doing?” Mendel asks, stepping alongside me and observing my movements.

“These goblets have to mean something, I’m trying to see if there is anything particular about them,” I explain as I examine a few at a time and turn each one over in my hands.

I suddenly remember the basin at the centre of the room. Selecting a goblet at random and turning to the pedestal, I let my feet lead me to it. My hand automatically dunks the goblet in the clear liquid and I hold it up to the light as I examine the contents. The liquid doesn’t seem harmful, but I still feel unsure for some reason. Sensing this is no ordinary basin of water.

“What are you doing now?” Mendel asks, watching me in curiosity.

“I think the transformation the riddle talks about has to come from one of us drinking from these goblets,” I explain, slowly bringing it to my lips.

“Then I’ll do it,” Mendel states, intercepting me and taking a swig from the goblet.

Immediately he is engulfed in a rose-pink cloud, as the goblet falls to the ground with a loud clang. Then out of the cloud emerges a small orange house cat. It meows at me, blinking it’s large blue eyes looking at me in need.

I wait for the cloud to dissipate before realizing this orange cat is Mendel. I stand there in shock, unsure of what to do but my thoughts are interrupted by the ticking of the clock and I come to my senses.

I rush over and grab a couple more goblets, scooping the liquid in one and offering it to cat Mendel.

He has a couple of licks and emerges from another pink cloud in the form of a bronze statue.

In a frenzy, I start rapid fire trying goblets and offering them to him. Next, he’s a dog, a fish, a pig, and a human.

Pausing momentarily, I admire him in his teenage form.

He’s skinny but still well-formed, he has freckle-specked almond-coloured skin. His paprika-coloured hair is cut short with gel-styled bangs that form a point, his square jawline has a light five o’clock shadow starting to form.

“Do you like this form?” I ask, still considering him.

Mendel appraises himself, considering it for a moment. “I think so.” He replies but doesn’t seem convinced.

“I thought we might get to be angels. I never had the chance to be one.” He admits with an air of disappointment.

“Okay well, I’ll set this one aside and we can look for that one,” I say, placing this goblet near the veil.

We begin rapid fire, trying more goblets and Mendel continues to transform. The more notable transformations are two more human forms, his Rellik form and eventually an angel.

The angelic form wasn’t what I expected, I’d always imagined them to be more human-like with an ethereal glow. Instead, he presents as more fairy-like, his skin sparkles like it's been dusted with glitter. Blue in tinge as the glow of his skin ebbs in a manner like coals at the bottom of a fire pit. His wings are translucent and with ice blue lining, iridescent as they beat gently behind him.

I take a second to admire him and then set that goblet aside, making note that it’s the one made of silver and has ice blue gems upon the bust.

“This is the one I want.” Mendel states, watching as I go to grab another goblet.

I pause for a moment, considering his words and then the riddle.

“I liked the original human form we saw,” I state, walking back to the goblets I had set aside. I chose the one I suspected to be the original, a humble wood carved with no embellishing upon it.

“Can we try this one, one more time?” I ask, offering it to Mendel.

He nods and has a sip, transforming back into the red-haired teenager from earlier. Mendel appraises himself once more and makes the same lacklustre expression.

“I still like the angel form better.” He states and I hand over that goblet for him to change back.

Looking at the clock we have ten seconds left and I begin to panic, “I don’t know what to choose.” I say, looking at Mendel for guidance.

“Trust your heart,” he mutters before handing back the goblet and pushing me toward the doorway.

Just as we are about to pass through the veil, I drop one of the goblets. Making my choice just as the clock is finishing out and the veil begins to seal behind us.

Stepping back into the Hall of Perils, Mendel is transformed back into his Rellik form.

Madra wraps her arms around Mendel, sighing in relief to see him back.

Turning to the doorway, I wait for the veil to fade from sunset pink to grey but nothing happens.

“The veil didn’t change.” I protest, turning back to my companions.

“So did we pass or not?” Alaric asks, looking at Nakos with concern.

“I- I’m unsure. The text above the door is the same, but if you had failed you wouldn’t have been able to cross back through.” He replies, also holding an expression of concern.

“Well, what do we do now?” Alaric asks, looking at everyone in bewilderment.

Suddenly my eye is caught by the sight of gold lettering appearing over the header of the original veil at the centre of the room.

“What does that say?” I point to the text, walking toward it with growing apprehension.

Nakos is suddenly at my side and muttering the words inaudibly to himself.

“It’s a recipe," he explains, his eyes scanning the text rapidly.

“Mendel I need you to go get her locket from the other side of the doorway.” He begins, “Madra, I need a lion’s paw and a pig’s tongue. Alaric I need you to grab a bear’s brain, then a snake’s fang. I will go get a peacock feather and a fox’s tail.” He instructs and then takes off, “Oh Mendel, can you also grab a goat’s heart.” He adds and then leaves through the veil, followed by the other three.

Meanwhile, I am left to wait for everyone’s return.

I pace around looking at the veils of the past perils, wondering why the veil to the realm of Lust hasn’t changed yet. My thoughts are interrupted by Mendel re-entering the Hall of Perils.

Mendel smiles as he waddles through, holding out my mother’s locket in one hand and the other bearing a blood-soaked bag.

“Bet you thought you’d never see this again.” He states, handing me the locket with care.

“A bit of an understatement if you ask me,” I reply, accepting it with a smile and quickly placing it around my neck again.

Next came Alaric, Nakos and Madra.

With everyone assembled and holding bags of ingredients to this less-than-palatable recipe, Nakos returns to reading the text.

“I will take the goblet you have chosen, child.” Nakos holds his hand out expectantly.

Realizing I still held it, I jump to life and hand the goblet over.

Nakos hands his bags to Mendel and begins to examine the goblet.

It’s basic at best but he is looking for something in particular, a symbol or ridge of some kind. Running his bony fingers along its surfaces in search of something unknown to the rest of us. Finding the mark at the bottom of the goblet, under the base, he squints to appraise it.

“There it is,” he mumbles to himself and then begins examining the floor beneath his feet.

“What are you-“

“Shhh.” Mendel interrupts, taking a step close to me. “He’s trying to work something out and if we interrupt him, he won’t be happy.” He explains out of the corner of his mouth. Watching Nakos with a hint of apprehension.

I nod in understanding and continue to watch alongside the others, as he finds the marking he is looking for. Bending down and squinting, he runs his fingers over a circular symbol and then flips the goblet over to compare it. Turning it over again, he plunges the base of the goblet into the floor.

Immediately an earthquake erupts and the floor beneath our feet begins to crack open as something emerges from beneath the earth. The doorways around us collapse into piles of rubble, but before they do I get a glimpse of the veil to the realm of Lust and see it change colour.

If I wasn’t panicking watching the Hall of Perils collapse around us, I’d be relieved to see the peril cleared. The only doorway that remains unchanged is the one at the centre of the room.

Just as quickly as it all began, everything ceases and when the dust settles I see a stone cauldron beside Nakos. A flame beneath it is fully lit and crackling as if it had always been there.

He smiles at us with a twinkle of excitement in his eyes. “It is time.” He says, approaching the cauldron and the rest of us follow.

The liquid inside is already bubbling.

“We shall add each ingredient in the order we did the perils. So wrath is represented by a lion’s paw.” He explains, gesturing for Madra to bring forth her ingredient. She drops it into the cauldron and the liquid inside continues to bubble as it turns rose-red. Like the veil was before the peril was completed.

“Next is pride which is represented by a peacock feather,” Nakos announces, dropping the feather and letting it cascade into the boiling water. Which turns the liquid sky blue, like its veil.

“Sloth is represented by a bear’s brain.” He continues, as Alaric comes forward and deposits the contents of his bloody bag. Turning the liquid lilac-purple just like the veil.

“Greed is represented by a fox’s tail,” dumping his bloody bag. The liquid turns sunflower-yellow.

“Gluttony by a pig’s tongue.”

Madra dumps her last bag and the liquid turns cantaloupe-orange.

“Envy by a snake’s fang.”

Alaric drops it in with a small splash and the liquid turns sage-green.

“And last Lust is represented by a goat’s heart.”

Mendel adds it with a splash and the liquid turns sunset-pink.

Now the room is still, except for Nakos who is now examining his claws like he had before we entered the ruins.

Part Twelve:

Young AdultPlot TwistMagical RealismFictionFantasyCliffhangerAdventure
12

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Donna Fox (HKB)

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Comments (12)

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  • The Invisible Writer6 months ago

    This was my favorite so far! Really smart and intelligent I was wondering where you were going with that spell. You really out did yourself tying it into the perils and what a cliff hanger. I’m going to be sad when I make it through all the parts and don’t have any more to read.

  • ema7 months ago

    I love the idea of ​​the cauldron, old fashioned, but always interesting, because the magic needs real ingredients and not just some superpower!

  • Rob Angeli7 months ago

    That must be some very strange soup they'll concoct with that. Not only a good episode on the Lust Peril, but also great job bringing the various characters and strands of plot together!

  • ThatWriterWoman7 months ago

    This is 100% my favourite chapter! I love how you effortlessly pulled all the characters together in this peril. The mystery! I love love LOVE this! I am on the edge of my seat!

  • Novel Allen7 months ago

    I am amazed at how fast your helpers got you your ingredients, I need to borrow them to work some magic of my own. How the heck do you come up with these fantastic ideas. You patience and attention to detail is nothing short of magical. Alas, I go to the final one. Great job dear D.

  • Lamar Wiggins7 months ago

    That was pretty exciting and nerve wracking. I'm sitting there hoping they get it right, waiting for you to throw a wrench in because of all the previous unexpected turns, but I'm satisfied and relieved. And don't want it to end, lol. Another great episode, Donna! 🤩

  • J. S. Wade7 months ago

    Wow. Excellent episode …. Except …. I’m hanging by my fingernails with the tension. Great writing!! This is a masterful tale! The pace is impeccably managed. 🥰

  • Thavien Yliaster7 months ago

    I'm glad that I was able to have a bit of downtime to read this. Sadly, I wasn't logged in then. So much to comment so little time. The realm of lust with its wall of goblets reminds me of the episode from "Regular Show" in which Rigby goes into a coma from eating eggs (which he's allergic to) and Mordecai finishes the eggcellent challenge and gets transported into a room full of hats and crowns. The test was that he needed to pick the right hat to crown his end or else it would've resulted in instant death. That's what this challenge instantly made me think of. I was like, "Whelp, shit, Tesha's gonna die right here and now and the relliks are gonna need another chosen one, either that or Mendel's going to perish, or they're both going together." I was like, "Please, pick the right one, and find out whatever puzzle is here." Not having Mendel dissipate made me think of "Oh no, Mendel has to overcome his lustful desires for Tesha. Like, I know that angels have bred with humans before, but I didn't think that it would still be possible after Noah's Ark. Like, are they going to have to use their reasoning to overcome an aphrodisiac? Are there oysters, roses, a bubble bath nearby, maybe some soft candlelight?" "Your companions will soon transform, and their immortal lives may be mourned." - I'm going to assume that they've grown fond of each other and when they eventually become redeemed it'll be the last time she'll see them in her mortal life, but they'll still be watching over her. Though, in several theories, especially when it comes to spirituality, time is not linear. So, it wouldn't surprise me if all of the relliks originated from different time periods. Especially if they live for centuries on end. Worst case scenario, Tesha makes the relliks mortal like herself, and they even perish before her due to her own wanton desires. Though, due to their need to eat human flesh, I'm assuming that they're only immortal if certain conditions are met. Though, they do continue to age. Just look at Nakos, Alaric, and Mendel for example. If they were all the same angel it might make sense, especially at different stages. It's like we're looking at the Pokemon evolutions right in front of us. Also like the sphinx's riddle about "four legs in the morning, two legs in the afternoon, and three in the evening." Though, with those three it's more like: skinny -> buff -> withering. Okay, I know that You were thinking of the monsters from the 2002 Scooby-Doo Spooky Island movie when You were making the relliks, but that basin in the center of the room sounds like that giant bowl where people had their souls being placed while their bodies were being possessed. When Mendel turned into the cat I was like, "Oh, that's cute." Though I'm surprised that You didn't play with this idea a little more. You made it obvious that it was still Mendel as the cat, but it would've been hilarious if he began thinking and acting like a cat too. Imagine Tesha chasing Mendel's cat form around the room while the clock ticks down. The other relliks would've been having a collective heart attack watching as the clock neared zero if Mendel was still in that form. He could've jumped up on the shelf with all of the goblets and Tesha could've been pleading for him to come down only for Mendel's cat form to start grooming itself, then once she's at her wits end, have her start throwing chalices at him trying to knock him off. Lowkey, I do wonder if he would've sprinted for the door if the other relliks on the other side of the veil would've tried to meet him, ensuring that he couldn't pass through to the other side. They'd have to become a flesh wall preventing him from leaving just so Tesha could grab him. It'd be hella funny watching her trying to splash him with more water from a different chalice or trying to dump his whiskers into a cup. Heck as a cat, he could've knocked off a bunch of chalices in casual cat fashion. I also wonder what would've happened if he just drank the water straight from the basin? Mendel Cat: *sips water* Tesha: "No wait!" Mendel Cat: "Meow?" *explodes* Madra: "Mendel!" Nakos: "Our tests! Our redemption!" Alaric: "Holy shit! I'm glad that wasn't me." Tesha: *thinking* "So, that's what people on Instagram keep commenting about?!" There was such a comedic goldmine right there, I'm surprised that You don't have a bloopers section for this Donna. When Mendel transformed into a Bronze Statue did he die, or was it more like a state of suspended animation like in the anime "Dr. Stone" where people were still conscious but they're bodies petrified? Cause I saw that and just wondered if he lost all sentience, consciousness, and if he still needed his vital functions to continue living. If he stayed like that would he suffocate, succumb to dehydration and/or starvation? That's a terrifying concept to me: the gifting and removal of consciousness. Did Tesha just pour the water from another chalice onto him, or was he still capable of moving his lips and drinking at the time? When Mendel transformed into his teenage version he sort of reminded me of my character, Fergus, from "Treacherous Surfaces" being that they're both handsome redheads. I like how You made Mendel's aesthetic match his rellik form, and highly appealing to Tesha, as this is her having to overcome her lust. “I thought we might get to be angels. I never had the chance to be one.” He admits with an air of disappointment. - Donna, that is a gold mine of a nugget. When I read that my thoughts instantly started rushing. Especially since, "Madra wraps her arms around Mendel, sighing in relief to see him back." - Now I'm highly suspicious that Madra has a very special connection with Mendel. It wouldn't surprise me if she's his mother. Cause before in part two Nakos says, "That is correct. Relliks are what we have become but what we once were is something entirely different. Are you familiar with dark angels? Dark Angels are a nickname given to those guardian angels who failed to keep their humans safe a few too many times. We were dark angels who fell from heaven and became what we are today. After the first of us fell we soon began to breed and create the next generation of fallen angels, which intern came the creation of what humans know as Rellik." Which means that it would make sense for Mendel to never have been an angel like Alaric, Madra, or Nakos cause he could be one, or two, of their offspring. It makes sense for Madra, but the question is who would be the father? Nakos for his intelligence and wisdom, wooing her with words, or Alaric alluring her with his leadership skills, or her luring either of them with her womanly, compassionate, (and motherly) wiles? Though, it wouldn't surprise me if Mendel also created when one of them mated with a human. Cause such things have been recorded before (think of demi-gods in ancient history). However, Mendel could also be an orphan not having a real family until he met either Madra, Alaric, or Nakos. There's so many options here, and some mannerisms just seem too coincidental in my opinion. "Instead, he presents as more fairy-like, his skin sparkles like it's been dusted with glitter. Blue in tinge as the glow of his skin ebbs in a manner like coals at the bottom of a fire pit. His wings are translucent and with ice blue lining, iridescent as they beat gently behind him." - I was surprised You didn't go with the Biblically accurate angel route by giving him extra wings, eyes, and rings of fire. Also, when I read this I thought, "You've been reading the scary fairy lady's- Uhhh... I mean Gina C.'s stories again haven't You, Donna?" One of my sibling's has been reading the Bible more fervently these days. When my sibling told me about the Lord entering the Tabernacle there's flames that are lit upon His presence being there. My sibling described the Lord as "Energy, as life, that comes. Fire is one of the rawest forms of energy that we can witness, feel, experience but is still intangible to us even though it has very real effects upon our living world." So, I say that it makes sense if he's glowing more like a blue flame being that those tend to be some of the hottest flames, like a lot of the stars in the night sky. Especially since we tend to associate hellfire and demonic flames to be more akin to red, orange, and even yellow sometimes. I like how You make them conflict between Mendel wanting to remain in his angel form and Tesha wanting to see him in his original human form. That's a nice example of how we lust for what we want to see and who we want to be. Before they leave though, when Tesha has him transform into the original human form again, did she grab his rellik chalice again? I feel like I have to assume so, unless he left the veil in his original human form and then transformed back into a rellik upon exiting the veil. Though, I feel like if that were to happen then Tesha would perish and they would have failed the lust veil. Hence, it makes sense for her to have grabbed the rellik chalice and have Mendel sip it on their way out of the veil, or maybe just by holding it in her hands as they left, by not altering their true (current form), she overcomes her lust to change the murderers how she sees fit. The veil should make it self-evident to me, but my stubbornness has to ask, "Did she grab two chalices or did she always have the rellik chalice on her person after finding it?" I thoroughly enjoyed the recipe parts: lion's paw = wrath (though I'm surprised that You didn't use something like a Komodo dragon or a steer as a raging bull though 'mama lion' or 'tiger mom' works), pig's tongue = gluttony, bear's brain = sloth (since bear's hibernate they were thought of as lazy), snake's fang = envy (since Oh Morning Star took the form of a serpent in the Garden of Eden and was envious of how humans were considered to be filthy by Angel's terms though they would have to serve us (such as guardian angels) also cause snakes don't have legs unlike most land animals thus making them envious of losing their legs), peacock's feather = pride (makes sense especially since the males have a lot of plumage, but why a peacock over the classic lion as the sin of pride?), fox's tail = sin of greed (classic), and goat's heart = lust (horny old goat and also a classic). When Nakos was examining the chalice for a symbol on it to match the room, I was wondering if all of the other chalices had similar symbols as well. Hence, instead of rapid firing drinking experiments, would it just be easier for them to have find the matching symbols (that is if they knew about them in the first place). Now the room is still, except for Nakos who is now examining his claws like he had before we entered the ruins. - I had to go back and double check to make sure that this happened, and the continuity in this is superb. Great work on that, Donna. Now, I wonder if Nakos has to cut Tesha's hand again or something else. What I really don't know (or remember) is if Tesha is just walking around without her soul, or if her body is lying down unconsciously as her soul is doing the perils of Efil.

  • Omggggg omgggg omggggg! How could you leave me hanging like this??? Oh nooooo. Now I gotta wait. ISTG, this series of your is like watching a tv show that only airs one episode per week. But in a good way because I'm totally hooked! The basin on the pedestal reminded me of the Pensieve from HP and also 6th HP where the locket if hidden in the basin in the cabe. The timer reminded me of the Saw movies. The goblets reminded me of 6th HP where Harry scoops the contents of the basin for Dumbledore to drink. The transformations following drinking the contents of the goblet reminded me of The Emperor's New Groove where Kuzco keeps transforming into different beings as he drinks from different vials. You are like extremely brilliant! Also, that was a great way to make us panic when the veil didn't change to grey. I really like the soup they're making with each ingredient representing each Peril. I really wonder what's gonna happen next! At the risk of sounding dumb, I have no idea how what happened in the realm of Lust had to do with Lust. If you don't mind, can you please explain that? I'm so sorry 😅

  • Mohammed Darasi7 months ago

    Seems like the final chapter is coming soon. Nice build up with this one for sure! Great chapter Donna 😊

  • Alexander McEvoy7 months ago

    Argh!! A cliff hanger!! More! I need more! I was a little confused by this challenge 🤔 was she supposed to overcome her carnal interest in the human form? Loved the characterization in this one!! It was sososo good!! I cannot wait for the ending even though I don’t want it to end!

  • Mark Gagnon7 months ago

    Okay, you left me hanging again! I think there should be a veil for cruelty which is what you just did. 😈You have a real masterpiece going here. (There is a typo where you left out the l in sloth.) I hope the final chapter is very soon, like now!!

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