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Rhialla Drin

by Michael Mayr 6 months ago in Fantasy · updated 6 months ago
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For your words have power

Rhialla Drin had always been special, born the seventh daughter of a seventh son and reportedly descended from the fey, it seemed hers was to be a charmed life. Her beauty, intelligence and grace were further complimented by a divine singing voice. Yes, everyone said that Rhialla would not only steal the hearts of many a young man, but that she was destined for great things

However...that all changed in an instant...a dark horrible instant. It was in her late teenage years on a beautiful autumn day when he came to the vale where Rhialla’s village lay. He was darkly handsome: tall and muscular with long raven locks tied back in a braid and the smooth, clean shaven face of a marble statue. But what stuck out the most were his eyes. Intensely dark burning coals that could look right through a girl. Rhialla was smitten the moment she saw him, and he seemed to be quite taken with her as well.

The dark man introduced himself as Zvim Ravensmane and said that he was a knight-errant seeking an ancient portal to the near mythical fey-realms. A portal rumored to be hidden in the forest near the Vale. He approached Rhialla and her cousin Kronade seeking a guide through the woodlands. Neither Rhialla or Kronade had ever heard of this portal, but his gold was good - though Rhialla had to admit that being in this man’s company was more appealing to her than a mere handful of coins.

Accepting Zvim’s terms, they hiked for a good hour into the woods to a cave - a cave neither Rhialla nor Kronade had known about, and they had dwelt in the valley their entire lives.

Kronade looked into the cave: “it’s dark and it looks like it goes back a ways. I wonder if anything lives here?” He said with a slight concern in his voice.

“Only one way to find out” Zvim said as he stepped forward and drew his sword - a long, beautifully crafted battle-blade - in his right hand, as he lifted his left hand to about shoulder height and whispered a quick word. A globe of soft white light appeared in his palm, as bright as any torch. Both Rhialla and Kronade stared at the Knight Errant with open-mouthed amazement. Zvim smiled back at them and said: “it is one of the most minor of magics, but come, let us explore. Stay behind me just in case.” And Zvim stepped through the cave mouth.

They walked several hundred yards in more or less a straight line and finally entered a small cavern. The cavern had multiple stalactites and stalagmites that glittered as if they were covered with jewels in Zvim’s magic light. However, what caught their attention was what they found at the far side.

It was like an archway, carved with strange runes and the images of horned men and women, as well as several skulls. In the center was a sheet of lusterless black stone. The archway filled Rhialla with dread and loathing.

“It is horrid.” She said aloud.

“It is meant to be horrid, better to keep away the idly curious.” Zvim said without turning. As he did so he reached up to a cobweb covered sconce on the wall and again intoned the whispered words, transferring the light to a cold torch. Once this was accomplished he sheathed his sword and began to study the archway and black stone.

Not wanting to interrupt, both Rhialla and Kronade stood silently.

After several minutes, Zvim said to them with obvious excitement in his voice: “quickly come over here! You need to see this!” His tone was infectious and quickly overcame any misgivings the pair may have had. Rhialla walked up and stood at Zvim’s right and Kronade was at his left.

“Is this the portal you sought?” Rhialla asked Zvim.

“It is a door.” Zvim answered simply.

“A door? How do you open it?” Kronade asked.

“How do you open any door? Why with the key of course. And what is that key you are about to ask? Well, that key is blood. Your blood as a matter of fact.” Zvim explained with an odd tone to his voice.

With those ominous words Zvim quickly reached to his left, his right hand was now sporting sharp, black metallic claws, claws that he used to tear through Kronade’s throat as he used his left hand to push the hapless lad forward toward the black stone.

As Kronade’s life blood splattered the stone, Rhialla began screaming. She did not notice as the stone absorbed her cousin’s blood. But as his blood unlocked the door, the black stone shattered like glass and the cavern was flooded with darkness. The darkness was akin to a vast tidal wave of emptiness, no lights, no sounds, no sensations at all, just a great void in which Rhialla floated, silently screaming.

After an eternity that lasted an instant Rhialla found herself on her hands and knees in a world of bone white sand and burning blood red skies. She was naked and despite the burning sky, freezing cold. She stood, shivering, her tears turning to frost on her cheeks, and surveyed this new reality. Rhialla heard the clash of blades and the roars of monstrous voices - but saw no battles. She heard the cries of lamenting and forlorn lovers - but saw no heartbroken figures. She heard the most maddening whispers - but could make out no words.

She looked about the desolate wasteland and saw only one structure - but what a structure it was! A massive castle at the top of a vast plateau. Towers of bronze, flying fluttering red pennants, surrounded by a wall of basalt. As she regarded the keep she fancied she could perceive screams of pain, cries of despair and the cruelest of laughter - but certainly at this distance that was impossible? But Rhialla’s musings were interrupted as she heard a scrape in the sand behind her.

Turning quickly, Rhialla looked upon a nightmare. Nothing she experienced thus far could have prepared her for the sight now before her, and she stumbled and fell onto her back, all thoughts of modesty gone as she desperately put out her hands in an attempt to shield herself. The figure was towering - standing at the height of two tall men. With two pairs of wings, the top pair were metallic, with razor-sharp bronze feathers. The bottom pair were crow black. Both pairs were unfurled to their full span. The figure’s hide was not a hide at all, for it had been flayed, and it’s flesh was the raw-red muscle of a skinless man. However, that was not its most terrifying feature, because it had no head - yet it still had a face of sorts, for in it’s right hand on a mahogany stick, it held a masquerade mask, an ivory Volta, heavily gilded with gold and silver, it’s mouth locked in a mirthful smirk. This figure was at once horrible and majestic as it stared down upon her.

Oh Rhialla, you are so delightful in your terror. Do you really find me so horrifying? You found me handsome mere moments ago. Handsome and desirable...I saw that in your thoughts. Oh, and the thoughts you had about me! Such scandalous thoughts from such a young maiden! Simply shameful. Said a buzzing “voice”. A voice that Rhialla heard as much in her head as she did in her ears, it was a voice she recognized

“Zvim? Zvim!” She cried out.

Why yes dear child, I am Zvim, as well as many other faces. Zvim replied in a bemused tone.

“What are you? What is this horrible place? Why have you brought me here?” Rhialla blurted out in despair.

Oh so many questions! Slow down, little rose! What am I? I am an angel, can’t you see? The Flayed Angel. What is this place? Part of the realm of my master. And why have I brought you here? Because little rose, devil’s and dark forces have whispered into my ear about you Rhialla. Not about what you are, but about what you could become. That and I brought you here to sing, you will sing songs of despair, but forever more you will only sing for me. The Flayed Angel’s voice darkened.

“No!” Rhialla wailed and tried to crawl backward.

Oh, stop. There is no denying it now. You will be a lovely flower in my garden of despair oh little rose. The Flayed Angel said as he advanced upon her.

As he stepped toward her vines grew from the bone white sand to entangle her. Green thorn-covered vines, that despite her nakedness, did not tear into her flesh, but filled her with a gentle warmth. Behind her a light shined, a clean light which lessened her fears. She tried to turn her head but could not see behind her.

An instant later a radiant maiden walked past Rhialla. She wielded a glowing mace in her right hand, and she wore a great cloak of red and white roses. And as she stepped next to Rhialla, the vines “imprisoning” her also sprouted beautiful roses.

Bitch! Begone from here! Neither you nor your so-called-goddess have power here in my Master’s realm! Zvim the Flayed Angel pointed at the Radiant Maiden with his left hand, the right still holding the masquerade mask, which had changed to represent an angry, scowling man.

“Wrong foul one! The door to the yonder portal is still open, held open by the courage and blood of a murdered boy. And you yourself have granted me power here. For your words have power!” The Radiant Maiden shouted at the Flayed Angel.

What? What nonsense do you prattle on about bitch? What words? What power? The Flayed Angel replied.

“The power of a name. And you have named this child, for she is indeed the Little Rose.” The Radiant Maiden rebutted.

NOOO! This gilt is mine! The Flayed Angel “screamed” in rage.

“And as names have power, I know your name brute. For you are not now, nor have you ever been an angel! For I know thy name! And now I use it to undo much of the evil you have wrought! I name thee Xizigoth, who as a man was called the Dark Apostle. He who was justly slain at the hands of my sister Vispira for your many vile deeds!” And with that pronouncement the Radiant Maiden vomited forth a great gout of roses upon the Flayed Angel and he was blasted apart like sand in a great wind.

The events and horrors of this day were too much for Rhialla and she gave into the merciful darkness…

Rhialla woke in a warm pile of leaves. At first she thought it had been a horrible dream, until she realized she was still naked. She then saw the Radiant Maiden smiling sadly down upon her. Rhialla sat up and started to speak, she stopped as she realized she didn't know where to start, or even how to give voice to her despair.

“Be calm Little Rose. You are safe now, but sadly your life is now forever changed.” The Radiant Maiden explained.

After a moment Rhialla spoke again: “Who are you?”

“In my mortal life I was Rameena the Priestess. Now I serve the Blessed Lady as an emissary amongst the Great Beyond, and I suspect soon, very soon, you will serve Her as well.” The Radiant Maiden replied.

“I know you have many questions, but my time here is limited. But one day the Blessed Lady will call upon you, and you must be ready to answer.” Rameena, the Radiant Maiden explained.

“And Kronade?” Rhialla asked, dazed by what had transpired.

“I am sorry Little Rose. It was his dying prayer that enabled me to reach you. But I assure you that he dwells in peace and glory.” Rameena, the Radiant Maiden answered sadly.

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Many years had passed, and Rhialla’s life had indeed never been the same. She had seen horrid darkness and evil. But she had also seen beauty and light. She had been both cursed and gifted with the sight and made her way through this world as a seer and a wandering songstress. Travelling from place to place.

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Images flooded her mind, broken badlands, a sulphuric yellow sky, horrific demonic entities amassed and prepared for war. Then she saw other sights, goodly knights, a triad of winged-warrior women - two in heavy armor, and armed with swords of power and the third armed with a bow. And then she saw Rameena the Maiden of Light. My savior! Rhialla’s heart leapt, as the Maiden of Light stepped forward with her cloak of roses billowing in the wind, and spoke to Rhialla. Her voice, strong and confident filled Rhialla with hope, a hope she had not felt since she was a girl and the world was new. "It is now your time Little Rose. Soon the world approaches a critical juncture, you must journey forth to aid the Blessed Lady’s greatest servants and their allies against a great evil". And with that the dream faded.

Rhialla awoke with a start, it was hours before dawn and it was still dark. She listened to the rain patter upon the roof of the old inn she was staying at as she willed her heartbeat to slow down. Then she sat up in bed, with her blanket wrapped about her shoulders. Finally the time had come, and hope and dread warred within her. She rose from her bed quickly and started to gather her belongings. She would leave immediately, for she had to travel far to the north. North to where the walls of this world wore thin, and where the people of the southlands spoke of the great demonic invasion. Yes, she had to travel north to her destiny.

Fantasy

About the author

Michael Mayr

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