A Stormy Quest
Part 29 of Quest
Part 14 of A Quest Special Event:
& Part 1 of Istan’s Solo Quest: Chasing the Cross
“Lie still, Father Storm,
through storm’s eye you fell, lie still.
Let storms rage, lie still.”
~ ~ ~
Istan remembered a portal spider-
spun, floating there like a sideways puddle.
Currents of magic’d rippled like eiders
sailing across a lake; their wake muddled
the image reflected there of a cross.
A vision unspooled; a lone mountain peak,
crowned with snow and a recently used cross.
The blood stains and nail marks– of loss they speak
and something more that called him to follow,
to seek and discover a truth that set
him free from the maelstrom’s mental chains; so
when he’d seen that cross in the portal set,
he’d crossed that threshold and fallen, tumbled,
landed jumbled, ‘neath a storm that rumbled.
~ ~ ~
“Lie still father of storms,” said a man with a painted face.
Yellow lines winged up from dark eyes that could have pierced but instead, some emotion softened their depths. A red dot between those lines sat on a palette of white that caked his dreads and the bush that covered his chin, which hid an unsmiling mouth.
Father of storms, the man had called him. Istan shook his head and regretted it as his mind rolled back and forth like a loose stone, slamming each wall of his skull for good measure. He winced and raised a shaking hand to his brow.
“Not Father of Storms…lost the mantle…it went to…another…”
The wind howled and gnashed its teeth, pelted their shelter with sticks and stones. Good thing the dim walls weren’t made of bones. The old rhyme brought a ghost of a smile to Istan’s lips that faded as his head throbbed.
The man’s eyes sharpened by the whetstone of Istan’s words. The news didn’t please him that someone else held the title and the blame for the storm breaking outside.
What are you god of then? His painted caretaker’s eyes asked. Or maybe Istan had read that thought from his mind. After all, he did possess the mind gift–the one magic that was forbidden to both gods and men.
Without Winter’s Mantle to suppress it, that gift bloomed, sending out shoots and runners in every direction. More minds lay within easy reach–a community perhaps? All of them huddled, shut away from the violence outside.
Hail battered a roof obscured by shadow. He blinked and looked for the source of the dim illumination. Seeing nothing that gave off even the faintest glow, he realized that the light came from him. He was a blanket wrapped candle exuding light from every fiber of his being. Every part of him was infused by magic thanks to his godhood. It didn’t matter that he descended from a broken pantheon.
“Rage storm, vent your pain
spin your anger, funnel it
twist tight tornadoes…”
So spake a voice on the wind–one Istan didn’t recognize. Yet that voice whipped the storm into a frenzy. The air charged itself readying a lightning strike. Bolts he’d once held and hurled though never at a living soul.
“Save us dear savior,
transmute lighting into sun
part those angry clouds.”
So prayed the villagers. Their fears pressed in, smothered Istan where he lay. A community cowering, waiting for the storm to tear down their walls and sweep their loved ones away.
“Come savior, protect,
come with love to deliver,
come with haste, save us!”
Snatches of prayers that rang in his mental ears drove him out of the hut. Animal hides stretched over the bleached bones of what were once enchanted trees that now served as flimsy protection.
No mantle meant no elemental power, not directly at least. That storm throbbed in his breast; the wind buffeted him in time with his breaths. Not the Father of Storms, no, but he was the son of a storm god. The wind’s power was in his blood for he was kin to it. Not a power he could access to stop a storm, no, he’d need the mantle and its crown for that. He was the only son of a storm god who’d not inherited his father’s elemental power.
The wind hounded him as he staggered; it nipped at his skin, tore at his clothes and hair but it could not topple him. His bare feet connected with Mother Earth and held him steady, upright and moving ever forward. Passed more huts he went, heading towards a rough circle in the village’s heart. Its hail-trampled green drew him.
The painted man’s gaze followed him but the man kept to his hut. The storm’s increasing violence penned him in. Kept him stuck there waiting, hoping he had salvaged their salvation.
~ ~ ~
In prayers Istan saw flashes of a cross.
A man–no a god–hung from its timber.
Blood wept from nails driven into that cross
through his hands and feet, soaking the timber
cut from a tree that had lived centuries.
All their minds held that image and cherished
the sacrifice given that day centuries
past; a man who had that evening perished.
Istan saw that sacred blood running down,
outlining shapes–the old runic language.
He understood what must be done; sharp ground
cut his soles, he bled magic; shed baggage
he couldn’t use, his father’s magic, traced lines
in the the earth that the funnel cloud must mind…
~ ~ ~
The tornado paused
Clouds crossed brilliant lines and changed
a gentle rain falls.
~ ~ ~
The painted man nods.
Wisdom whispers of a quest.
Great deeds await him.
~ ~ ~
Istan’s Quest continues in Emperor’s Quest Part 1.
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