Nightmares’ Quest Part 4
Part 50 of Quest
(Picks up where Nightmares’ Quest Part 3 left off.)
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Solara opened her mouth to answer but no words escaped.
A ball of gold fire plunged
through the oculus, knocked crystal
made pendulum swing
The globe swung in a wild arc throwing its white light deeper into the room. Its glow struck Undreal and she bit her lip expecting its touch to scald. The baby sitting on her lap giggled and clapped his hands and his protection held. Still she remained tense.
Everyone had moved to the window–the Sun Twins and Heneth, blocking all sight. Chero and Anasril stood on the sill looking out, their butterfly wings a blur of excitement. Blue-violet curtains swirled in the breeze. Undreal remained in her shadowed corner with the baby.
“What in the blue blazes is going on?” Eloaysa rubbed her eyes as she entered the spare bedroom. Without her blue-violet kerchief to confine her gray-streaked hair, it hung in loose curls down her back. Clutching her shawl, she stared first at Undreal and then her gaze bounced to the Sun Twins, glowing in all their godkin glory. Her mouth fall open and words tripped over themselves to exit as she pointed. “You’re a…and they’re…”
“Yes, I’m formerly of the Undeem horde and they’re the Sun Twins,” Undreal said to the Groundling woman, who looked smaller than her three foot stature. The baby took that opportunity to fret and that broke Elyoasa’s fascination. She snapped to her duty as host.
“I’d best get the wet nurse for him.” Elyoasa fled, clinging to her mundane task as if it was an tasliman against further supernatural drop-ins.
Solara backed away from the window, her movements slow enough that she drew no eyes by Undreal’s. Sunlight infused her golden skin and the cloth of gold gathered at her waist. Crouching down, she held out a hand burnished by the sun.
“Quick a bargain we must make.” Solara glanced over her shoulder but whatever spectacle took place outside the subterranean cottage stayed out there either by choice or design.
Strike bargain with gods
lose everything in the end
no gain in return
Undreal but her lip as that truism beat in her brain. Once before she’d dealt with powers and it had cost her life, left her a shadow wraith that supped on pain and life-essence.
Solara’s gold eyes blazed as she peered into Undreal; her gaze scalded Undreal’s insides.
Solara’s voice split so she spoke in three octaves at once–one to invoke, one to seal, one to speak the bargain’s terms.
Save from tyranny
draw one life back into light
with friendship’s balm heal
“–by sun and shadow swear to do this and for each life you piece back together, you’ll claim a piece of your own life back back from the dark powers that claimed it. Swear it now or lose your chance to be free.”
Undreal nodded unable to speak. To be free of that wretched Undeem Queen and her vile influence–what a dream that was. Even now she felt the compulsion to return worm its way beneath her dead skin, slide up her nerves and try to master her. She would not go back, never again would she join the horde for the hunt.
Once more she tried to produce words but the summons choked her. It lashed her limbs to invisible strings that tried to jerk her upright, phase her being into a shadow that could slip between reality’s layers. No, she would not go back. She would not…she would…she…
Thoughts disintegrated. Queen’s pulling hard on an invisible leash trying to drag her home like a recalcitrant dog. Unlife required no breath. So suffocation was not possible, no helpful blackout hovered on the horizon either. Just unbroken agony as pins jabbed her everywhere making her whimper. Her arms slackened about the baby, whose anxious eyes looked on unable to help; he was of the light with no power against the dark influence overtaking Undreal.
Solara extended her hand, nails shining, her gaze intense. “Strike the bargain. Take my hand. It’s the only way out.”
Undreal willed her hand to rise, to grasp that promise of aid extended to her. Her mouth opened and a silent scream emerged. Her numb arm lay motionless on her thigh, its substance boiling away as she faded back to a fell shadow imitation of life. A tiny hand plunged into that shadow and took her hand. Tar surged out of her side wrapping her arm in substance again.
With his other chubby fist, the baby clutched Solara’s fingers. He smiled, pleased to be a bridge between them, his eyes bright. Poor lamb, he thought this a game. When one played with the principle powers, one never won anything but an illusion of victory. Out of options, she had no choice but to accept the proposition and hope this time, conventional wisdom was wrong about the fickle nature of the godkin.
Solara spoke, her threefold voice ringing with power as it laid a compulsion to do her will that obliterated the Undeem Queen’s hold.
“Be light in darkness
a lamp for another’s path.
shine where good dare not.
This task I charge you
live for others, guide and aid
your life gain in trade.”
Three times Solara repeated those words and on the third repetition, light blazed blinding Undreal. She cried out as her flesh burned and fire raced over her skin. Solara withdrew her other hand which had branded Undreal. The Undeem Queen’s influence was gone though; she was free in her own mind again.
The baby chose that moment to scrunch his face up and cry, reminding all that he’d not had his breakfast yet.