Part two continues with the blackheart curse as a warrior becomes seduced by his own mighty sword.
The Pit of Raeben
After the near miss of the evil spyters, Tagmir convinces the Elderneisse elite that Ossimer has become addicted to the trees and therefore the protection of Elentria lies in their hands. Compiling their own attributes they then commission the forging of a great and terriblesword.
The mind of Tagmir has been taken over by the Mytya, the Blackwitch. The sword is to be presented to Ossimer in an effort to rekindle his spirit of old... while at the same time making him more vulnerable to defeat. Privy to all via the enlightened trees Ossimer has other plans however as he declares the sword was never meant for him but for one of them...
Chapter 22: Solareth and the Twelfth Son of Ossimer
Still in sight full moons eclipse
beyond the clouds yet in the midst
of mist and all that does exist
in moments fair Lxndra kissed.
Pakoble stood looking at the tousled form that lay so quiet, and vulnerable, before him. There was no mistaking; it was her. Sectera had not killed Queen Mycera. No, Mycera had endured. She was breathing though in a stupor. A strange malady had taken hold; a curse of Sectera’s undoubtedly— for which finding a cure would be all but impossible. Still, Pakoble would try. The Web worked in mysterious ways. He thought of all that had needed to come to pass in order to find her and drew strength. He would see she found care for as long as she drew breath and throughout she would remain his only Queen.
“Comrades, long will we remember all the strands of this day for Queen Mycera has been found!”
“Are you sure it is her? She is strangely umbrageous and, try as I might, I can only just barely make her form.”
“Inconsequential! Can you not hear her song in the wind or have you lost touch with the Old Chorus so readily?”
“I’m sorry Pakoble. Forgive me but it has been many days since I’ve heard anything other than the drum.”
“Yes, it has,” Pakoble agreed. “It has been many long days indeed.” He looked about smiling for he saw it as a sign. “We’ve traveled far enough. We will stay here for I feel a measure of peace. Angora! Heksis! Forge a path to the cliffs and set the guard. Trachu! Damal! Locate a shelter suitable for the placement of a Queen so might rest undisturbed, protected in a hammock of impermeable shade. As for the rest of you; scour the terrain; see what it has to offer!”
* * *
(Silent but deadly serious, in I barge… after the terrifying siege of the spyters upon Elentria, the most-gifted of the Firstborn Elderneisse gather in secret. Standing in their very midst is Tagmir and as usual he is found without shortage of words.)
* * *
“We have repelled our foe but at what cost? The anger of those who sent them will only be greater incensed and other rapscallions will soon be dispatched and so the question is posed: what measures will we pursue to ensure our survival?”
“It is a fair question Tagmir and you are right to ask it but should we not take these concerns to Ossimer and seek his wisdom on matters as these?”
“Ossimer— yes,” he paused. “You know there was a time when I would have agreed with you Zarfean and I doubt I would be standing here now if not for him; but I fear those days have long since passed. Think on it; the Ossimer of Old has not been seen for quite some time. Indeed, when was the last time anyone saw him at all? I did— barely two nights and four waxing of the moons ago; though he seemed not even able to remember my name. I led him to his home like one might lead a child; no less than he did I when my illness had stolen from me both wit and way.”
“He has much on his mind. The trees beseech him with many visions. It is no easy burden that has been thrust upon his shoulders. He carries the weight of us all.”
“Thrust upon him, Stynen? No— he has chosen his fate. Which one of us asked that the Great Tree be moved inside of the gates of his grounds? You— Hayleo? You— Naomir? No! It was by his bidding that this feat was achieved— and the hobbled backs of the vanished Mekhali,” he continued.
“But you are right Stynen. He does bear the weight of us all and it is taking an unmistakable toll. It is etched in the lines of his face; his bent posture and misplaced steps. The Great Tree wields a force beyond reckoning. Amongst all of us here there is not one who would not falter beneath such a deluge of information in a manner of moments. Yet we choose to view Ossimer as somehow immune. I think even Cyren, should he still be with us, would pose doubts as well― if not for any other reason than the well-being of a friend!” Tagmir glared at that all in turn.
“No― no one could traverse such cavernous entropies of knowledge and not show some signs of negative noesis. To believe else wise is goose prattle! Ossimer is not immune― just look at him! Look at anyone who has gotten too close to the Trees― has not ill-luck befallen them all? I fear Ossimer does not take as much from Nyan as she takes from him! If we are to save him surely the first step is taking some meager measure of weight from his shoulders!”
“Ossimer will see the signs; he will recognize them and, if all this be true, he will save himself!” Tagmir sighed loudly, allowing his shoulders to sag.
“I hope you are right Zarfean― but tell me where was Ossimer during Elentria’s most recent time of need?” When no answer seemed forthcoming he continued.
“It seems not one of us here can say. Besides myself, I doubt any of you have laid eyes upon him since his adoption of the three― one of whom now appears missing― as well as Oronan! We’ve all heard the rumors! Things are changing! Ever since Nyan was moved; since the poisoning of Gelon― twisted roots have sprung up and taken hold. Do you recall how he looked; his disheveled appearance and distracted mannerisms? I fear for him greatly. Last night I dreamt he’d been pulled beneath a cluster of branches and the more I cut; the quicker they grew to keep him in their clutches! First Cyren; then Pensia— poor, sweet Pensia!”
The room fell silent while many of those assembled shuffled uncomfortably.
“Fear not friends; all is not lost yet for much thought have I devoted unto saving Ossimer and I believe at last I’ve found a way― if we all work as one! We must meld our gifts and talents; marry them together as one and, in doing so, we can not only return Ossimer to his former stature of Old but at the same time save Elentria from whatever might wish to prevail upon it!”
“How Tagmir? Tell us your thoughts and we will consider them carefully.”
“I fear the time for lengthy contemplation has long since passed, Naomir. We must act; swiftly and decisively! Listen and then tell me if my proposal earns the validation of my illustrious peers.”
And thus it was agreed by the so called Most Elite of the Elderneisse that no longer could they count on Ossimer to maintain the best interests of Elentria if they truly deemed his own welfare no less important.
“The seduction of knowledge has reduced Ossimer unto a state no longer affordable. If Elentria is to endure her protection must be afforded by us! True might is not forged by borders but by the resolve united within― and have no fear, great strength lies within and all those who confront us shall soon discover this— and cower for the Elderneisse United will find no equal.” Such was how Tagmir, so eloquently, put it and thus his plan was, after much deliberation, sanctioned and the master craftsman Lenthar was commissioned the task of forging a great and mighty sword.
Lenthar worked day and night, taking no rest for his roots stemmed primarily of the Mekhali, and it was not long before the Firstborn Elderneisse once again found their selves gathered in secret. Lenthar was the last to arrive and he came cradling something in his arms as if he’d held an infant. He laid it gently upon a table and slowly pulled away the silky blue cloth swaddling it. A gasp arose and the Firstborn Elderneisse shielded their eyes while trading gawks at the long, stalwart handle less blade which gleamed with such lethal severity it sliced into the very vision of itself.
The gifted Firstborn then, ceremoniously each in turn, offered up several strands of their own precious hair. These Tagmir braided meticulously together about a heavy brass cross with a diamond shaped hole at its apex, all the while utilizing the utmost care as if the hairs he was turning, twisting and spinning had been comprised of the most delicate gold. His hands glided skillfully to weave the shimmering colorful strands, over and over again, until at last, bound singularly, they began to resemble the formation of a firm and menacing handle. He stopped for a moment to appraise his efforts and a multitude of blazing hues were quickly absorbed, as if judging their own worth, in the razor sharp reflections cast outwards with fulgent impatience.
Being one not only of deft dexterity but stipulation, Tagmir inspected his work most painstakingly as he went, ensuring that every imaginable finger hold had been crafted within the hilt so a perfect grip might be awarded regardless of the sword’s handling. At all three of the handle’s extremities Tagmir wound and knotted repetitiously until upon each of them a hard, smooth pommel had been formed. These would allow the blade to be spun around by either two hands or one with great effect while the central diamond shaped hole presented a rotation possible to be achieved by one or two fingers alone.
Tagmir picked up the blade portraying an over exaggerated diligence in keeping it swaddled within its soft cushioning of blue. He slid it cautiously towards the emblazoned handle and as the blade got closer it started to glow. The handle then brightened as if in acceptance though one could not be sure if this wasn’t just a reflection of the beguiling blade. Tagmir released his hold and stepped away. A look of tremendous concentration embraced his face though there were none that looked up and so neither did they witness it. The handle began to quiver and shake and then suddenly in a miraculous tirade of shooting color it leapt towards the blade, impaling itself upon the tang and thereafter it lay portentously still.
After some time, though not surprisingly, it was Tagmir who found daring enough to address the newly acquainted sword. Covering its vibrant handle with the blue cloth, while being exceedingly cautious not to by chance lay even a finger upon it, he dipped it into a bath prepared by and large of the Rhuda tree’s impervious sap. Nothing would ever mar it; not stone; not steel— not even the tiniest bloodstain could tarnish the brilliant splendor of its finish. Tagmir spoke, addressing the weapon as if it were an entity in its own right― and the vast majority of those gazing upon it felt it surely was.
“May every finger that reaches towards you dread their parting as if dismemberment. Let every face confronting you realize the wisdom of a hasty retreat. Unleash the fury of fire to keep your friends warm while foes grow ever dim.” Tagmir crooned on.
“Learn every passion to hunger and you will epitomize desire. Be it blood, muscle, sinew or bone: fulfill your destiny― for you are Solareth; the might of Sol and reconciler of Areth! Ossimer shall be pleased, for regardless of the journey, there is no other way his path might lie.”
“Are you sure,” questioned Lenthar, suddenly exuding real hesitance. “After all, he has forbid the forging of weapons.”
“Of course I am sure,” countered Tagmir unperturbed. “Who could refuse such a splendid gift? Rest easy Lenthar, you worry too much.”
“Worry too much? Perhaps― but it was I who forged the sword in spite of his will― not you!”
“Calm your nerves; you shall see. We shall take it to him in the shallow light of the morn and you will then see it is all as I said. Then you shall witness how this mighty gift might recover his spirit; and the Ossimer of Old shall awaken and be glad. Then he shall step away from the dominion of the Great Tree and accept this call. He shall then become the Chief Guardian of Elentria― our guardian!”
“I thought you said true might lay in resolved unity?”
“Yes of course Naomir but it does not begin overnight; it takes time to build such stability― but you are so right for this is what we strive towards! But, while aspiring towards greatness, we must constantly ask ourselves: is there anything to our advantage that we employ now? And the answer is yes― an instrument of immeasurable power― and who else might wield it but Ossimer? I myself fear even its touch! Speak now should you feel opposed but I feel certain no one but he might master so lethal a force! The might of Solareth will demand even the most subtle nuances of his faculty. From the very instance the blinding blade is laid upon his hands I predict every withered leaf shall flee his mind and he shall be exuberantly grateful unto us all! You shall see; you shall very much soon see!”
The very next day the sword Solareth was set carefully into a beautifully crafted chest of Lenthar.
“Come,” urged Tagmir. “Let us hurry to present Ossimer with this mighty gift of the Elderneisse and when he shifts his gaze to Solareth his fingers shall be pried from Nyan and he shall fall headlong into recovery and free from her seductive boughs.” He said excitedly.
“Then he shall grasp the full measure of Solareth’s supremacy and find breath as if for the very first time. He will praise the selfless wisdom of the glorious Elderneisse and claim the vengeance of Elentria as his own. Follow with me and we shall see if it is not so!”
The chest of Solareth was hoisted by Lenthar and Rayoust in front and Grunlin at the rear. Tagmir led the way, following the cobbled pathway that wove slowly upwards through the hills, out of Elentria and towards the Halls of Ossimer, where far below a nearly leafless Gelon marked the ever watchful pit of doom.
The remainder of the gifted Elderneisse followed behind the chest bearers— Maiko, Zarfean, Stynen, Hayleo, Lagelo, Naomir and others and as the cortege slowly made their way they were joined by more and more and more. Even Ordan the Wise, enticed by all of the commotion, did not hesitate to join the procession. The ever-lengthening convoy drew all kinds of speculation as all wondered as to the contents locked within the beautifully carved coffer.
Elderneisse, Eldernit, Firstborn, Secondborn, Third and Fourth— all fell into tow. The sons of Ossimer quickly gathered, wondering how the Elderneisse summoned such courage as to try the patience of their father uninvited. They marveled, shaking their heads in dismay, at the unanticipated parade marching towards their gates.
It was at these same gates that Ktaryn met them, demanding to know their purpose― but before any could answer— the Gates of Ossimer swung wide and Ktaryn stepped aside, gesturing them forwards.
“It would seem you are expected,” spoke Ktaryn and she fell into stride.