Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2286737-Through-The-Veil-of-Ifria
by brom21
Rated: ASR · Short Story · Fantasy · #2286737
A prince with his faith must save his sister from magical beings in another realm.
Eutychus stood at the highest tower of Castle Evercrest looking between the twin mountains of Ifria through an open window. He sighed and shed a tear as he took an exasperated breath. “Oh, my sister, Opal. My heart aches for you. May God speed me on my quest and reunite us.”

Eutychus felt a hand on his shoulder and turned to face who touched him. “Eutychus, you can’t go after her. All who have ventured into the realm of Ifria have been lost forever.”

“But Nithose, none have been so desperate and so intent on going there. When knight Cortan and all who went before him never returned, it is because they all were just seeking glory or curiosity. Moreover, none have had the faith I have.”

Nithose nodded. “Indeed, your reverence for God is admirable, but I am not assured even that would save you. And can you honestly say you are not bent on revenge for the being from Ifria for stealing her away?”

“Perhaps, but that is just why I feel more guilty for not keeping the kidnapping from happening.”

“There is nothing you could have done. The inhabitance of Ifria are mystical, shadowy and powerful magic users who can appear and reappear at will,” said Nithose.

“But why did they take her?”

Nithose shrugged. “We can only guess.”

“I do not expect you to understand,” said Eutychus as he pushed Nithose’s hand off, leaving him as Eutychus went down the steps to the main hall of the castle. Royalty strolled about, not showing any concern for the lost princess.

Eutychus exited the castle into the courtyard, where flowers bloomed and statues of the kings of the past stood. His father came to his son’s side. “Nithose told me of your intentions. You must realize my stance on the issue, that I forbid you to go.”

“But father…”

“My mind is made up.”

Eutychus looked away and muttered something under his breath. He paused before speaking. “As you wish, father.”

King Bronus turned and reentered the castle.

Eutychus went to a bench and sat, contemplating as the sun was setting. How can my father be so cold about his own daughter? he thought. He stood then left the courtyard and began walking in the direction of the Grand Cathedral which was not far away.

The prince came inside and approached the head priest who was at the front of the building, kneeling and saying prayers with his back to the prince. As soon as Eutychus was before the head priest, the man stood and faced him.

“Priest Thaylus, you have always kept my secrets like a true friend. I am going to rescue my sister, Opal.”

“If you do go, I will inform the king.”

“Can’t you just be silent on the matter?”

“Lying is a sin and speaking the lie would be the same as not telling your father.”

Eutychus sulked his shoulders. “Very well.”

“Now then, I have done all my vigils and I am tired. I will be going home,” Thaylus said as he went past Eutychus and left the cathedral.

The destitute prince sat on one of the chairs and hung his head with grief.

“Eutychus, it is I, Priest Nemphis.”

Eutychus looked up and gazed at Nemphis. “May I help you?”

“I can help you.”

“What do you mean?” asked Eutychus.

“I am endowed with spiritual insight and power just like Priest Thaylus. I can give you a holy blessing just as he can and hold my peace. That is what you seek is it not?”

“But you would be lying.”

“I will say nothing. You will be the one doing the talking. I disagree with Thaylus’s reasoning.”

Eutychus narrowed his eyes and frowned. “This sounds a little duplicitous for a man of God.”

Priest Nemphis shrugged. “Personally, I strongly disagree with your father. But even as priest, I can bend the rules,” Nemphis said with a wink. “Just tell him you are going on a sojourn to the kingdom of Wrethmire. That is about as far as the entrance to the realm of Ifria is.”

“I still cannot believe you are willing to do this.”

“I am looking at the big picture,” said Nemphis. “I think there are times when it is acceptable to bend or break the rules.”

“Very well.” Eutychus kneeled before Nemphis.

The priest put a hand on Eutychus’s head and spoke a prayer. “May you be blessed and guided on your journey and filled with the might of God. May his angels guard you from all sides and grant you victory over your foes and bring back to us our beloved princess. Amen.”

Suddenly a cloud filled the space around the two men. It swirled around Eutychus and it seemed to permeate his body as he breathed it in. He stood and felt like he had been reborn into another being, endowed with power.

“Now you are ready,” said Nemphis. “Advise your father of your feigned destination as soon as possible.”

Eutychus took a deep breath and nodded. “Very well. Thank you, Priest Nemphis.”

“God speed, fair prince.”

Eutychus left the cathedral and made for his chamber, deep within the castle. When he arrived, he fell on his bed and fell asleep. He had an alarming dream of his sister, Opal, who stood in chains inside a transparent sphere. “Please! Save me!” she said. Next to her was a man in a dark, blue cloak with an onyx crown on his head. “You have one day to come here, then she dies,” said the man.

Eutychus awoke startled and in a sweat. “I must go to my father and enact the plan now!” He jumped out of bed and rushed to the banquet hall where the king always ate breakfast.

When the king arrived, the servants bowed as did the lower royalty. He sat down to eat and his son came to him. “Father, a servant from Wrethmire has come telling me a friend of mine needs to discuss something important. May I have leave?”

“Hmm… seems quite dire. I wish to know the nature of this summons when you return. Leave when you desire.”

“Thank you, father.”

Eutychus left without eating and ordered a servant to gather a bag of victuals and fetch a horse. The prince was careful to pay the servant off for his silence. When that was done, Eutychus rode out of the kingdom and gazed at the twin mountains of Ifria, shrouded in mist.

The way there was full of trees, animals, and lovely flowers. As time went on, the surrounding land became gaunt and baren with dead leafless, trees and a subtle mist began creeping in around him, like a drifting spirit.

The sky was covered with a red-purple hue that blocked sunlight. The portal must have been close. While Eutychus rode he came across a statue of a man with a sword and shield. It was all alone, with no other statues around.

Eutychus found it odd and approached it. He reached to touch it and a light glowed where his hand made contact with the stone image. It began to crack and break off like an eggshell revealing the extremities of a real, living soldier. When the stone had fully broken away, the warrior fell to his knees. He looked up at Eutychus. “Who are you? You released me.”

“God’s power has done this through me, his vessel. My name is Prince Eutychus from the kingdom of Evercrest.”

“I am sir Ativus, knight of the kingdom of Wrethmire.”

“How did you get frozen in stone? Was it a being from Ifria that did it?”

“No. A wizard did this. There are several sorcerers who have this area as a haven from those who would hunt them. God’s power within, which you stated, must be considerable to free me.”

“What are you doing here?” asked Eutychus.

“I seek the secrets that lay beyond the veil of Ifria. I had five companions, but they were slain by the wizard who trapped me in stone,” said Ativus.

“I am on my way there. If you are still intent on going to Ifria, I would enjoy some company,” said Eutychus.

“I would say no, but with such power that you have, me may prevail.”

“Excellent. Hop on.” Eutychus helped the knight onto the horse and they strove onward.

Soon a scent like rusted metal filled Eutychus’s nostrils and he coughed as did Ativus.

“We should be close. That metallic scent must come from the Striver’s Keep. It is an ancient metal stronghold where the wizards of new and old gather,” said Ativus.

“How do you know that?” said Eutychus.

“I was eavesdropping from around a corner inside the keep with two of my five companions and we saw them siting at around table. They happened to mention the name of the metal structure. I inferred this is where they gather because of silk emblems of a manticore on several standards displayed against the walls; they wore the same image on their cloaks which linked them to the metal castle.”

Suddenly, a great beast, like a giant scorpion, crawled over a large boulder and hissed at the two companions.

“My sword is useless against the armor of this monster!” said Ativus.

“Give it to me.” Eutychus took the blade and dismounted. He felt the spiritual power well up and fill the sword so that a white flame encompassed it.

The scorpion leapt off the rock and landed two yards away from them.

Eutychus brandished his blazing weapon before the beast and it backed away.

The scorpion and Eutychus circled each other. The beast opened its left pincher and grabbed for Eutychus’s torso.

He stepped back but the force of the pincher hitting the ground in front of Eutychus sent him stumbling back.

The brave prince lunged back and cut off the pincher of the beast as the creature reeled back in pain, black blood staining the ground.

The enraged beast flared its mandibles and spat out a thin stream of green acid as the prince rolled to the right.

“Ativus! Make for that hill! I will make short work of this abomination.”

The knight obeyed and rode for a high hill covered in mist, out of sight of the scorpion.

The beast reared its long black stinger overhead and as it came down upon Eutychus, he made a vertical slash, cutting of the bulbous stinger. The scorpion writhed in pain and backed away.

Eutychus pursued the beast and thrust through its head and it fell to the side.

The white flame abated and Ativus returned to his companion. “In heaven’s name! How awesome!”

“Once again, it was not my power that ignited the sword. It was the Spirit that is in me. Let us make haste to go on.” Eutychus mounted and they went on.

At last, they made it to Striver’s Keep and the sound of clanking hooves on a metal bridge filled Eutychus’s ears. Two torches were on each side of the open archway leading inside the keep.

“The torches are lit but no one is here,” said Ativus.

“Not so,” said a voice from the shadow of a corner.

Eutychus reeled the horse to the side and was about to take out the sword when the voice spoke again.

“I come in peace!” A man in a green cloak emerged from the shadow. “I am Trophimus. I have come to help you.”

“Lair!” spewed Ativus.

“Let us hear him out,” said Eutychus.

“I will be brief. My fellow wizards have made a pact with the ones from Ifria and have taken up permanent dwelling there. Only I remain in this keep. But my fellow sorcerers are fools. The Ifrians promise my brothers power in exchange for their help. But I know they will be betrayed by Ifria. I know you seek to go there and I have come to give you this. It will grant you passage through the veil of Ifria without being detected.” Trophimus gave them a glowing emerald with a metal needle of some kind inside.

“Since your fellow wizards are in communication with Ifria, do you know of a maiden named Opal?”

“The princess, of course.”

Eutychus widened his eyes and gaped his mouth and his heart raced with joy. “Can you help me recover her!”

“Only you and your great power to do that. I can direct you to her though.”

“You can sense the Spirit within me?” said Eutychus.

“Indeed. It is quite potent.”

Eutychus felt calmed and assured by Trophimus’s words. “Why did they take her?”

Trophimus frowned. “I know only it regards the fate of the whole realm. Now you must leave! The exit to the keep is just down the hall.”

“You said you would show us the way to her location,” said Eutychus.

“Ah, yes. The stone I gave you will allow me to direct your movement. Just follow the pointer inside the emerald.”

“You have my deepest thanks,” said Eutychus as he dashed for the exit.

Outside the other side of the keep, the companions reached a row of trees leading to a speckled, grey wall of mist.

“The veil to Ifria. At last,” said Ativus.

Eutychus stuck his hand into the mist and it felt tingly and cool. “I will tie the horse to that tree. It will be too much trouble to bear.”

When that was done, Ativus did not hesitate to enter the portal. Then Eutychus did so as well.

The two found themselves flying through an azure tunnel of light. It lasted for another minute until they appeared in a strange forest. The leaves of the trees were the color of gold and diamond dust glistened in the air. Perched on one of the branches were two birds shaped like ravens but had a sharp, silver glean rather than a black appearance.

In the heavens was a green and blue borealis with three small moons. Also arrayed in the heavens were bright nebulae and galaxies in close view.

“This place is serene and beautiful. It is hard to believe such hostile, wicked beings live here,” said Ativus.

The sound of an animal like a whale’s call merged with a dove’s coo resonated in the wide space.

The needle in the emerald pointed straight ahead. And afar off, in that direction, they saw a collection of spires or thin towers that gleaned like ice.

“The direction the needle points must indicate where your sister is,” said Ativus.

“Indeed. But I do not see anyone out here. Do you think they all live in that score of towers?”

“Duck!” said Ativus as he pulled Eutychus’s down by the hood into the tall grass.

“I saw someone,” whispered Ativus.

Eutychus peeked over the grass that swayed in a light gale. “Trophimus said the emerald would keep us from being noticed,” he whispered back.

Ativus rose slowly until he was in line of sight of an individual in a blue cloak. After three minutes, Eutychus was persuaded they were indeed unnoticeable.

Despite the power of the emerald, they moved cautiously. As they went, they saw more inhabitance of Ifria.

Then an anxious knot formed in Eutychus’s gullet. Three men in cloaks were looking at his lower body frame as though it was not invisible.

“Ativus, I think they can see the grass brush erratically against our passing.”

“Stand still! They’ll look away!”

Both did as Ativus said. And after several minutes of staring, the three Ifrians looked away.

Suddenly, a great wind ruffled the waist high grass.

“Run! Before the wind abates!” said Eutychus.

Both men dashed in the direction of the structures that sparkled like ice. They scurried up a hill and came to a stony plateau where the scores of towers stood. They found themselves looking over a still sea of dark water like shiny onyx on the other side of the towers. They were in the form of a filled circle lined with a ten-foot wall going around it.

“I see no entrance or gap of any kind going through the wall. Perhaps if we follow it around, we may find something,” said Eutychus.

The two walked around the plateau until thy came to other side and found an immense metal disk in the wall.”

“That must be it. How do we get in?” said Ativus.

“Let’s wait. One of them must pass through it and when they come through, so will we.”

Thirty minutes later an Ifrian walked up to the disk and touched the base of it and the object rolled to the left. The being passed through and Ativus and Eutychus followed.

Within the circular wall, all the towers had open arches at the bottom.

Scores of Ifrians along with green-cloaked wizards weaved in and out of the arches.

The two intruders walked as straight as possible passing under many tower arches until thy came to a dome with no archways.

“Whoever is inside must be the king or ruler. The extremities of the dome are giant and wider that any of the towers,” said Ativus.

“And I think I have seen the image of such a king,” answered Eutychus. “I saw something in a dream last night.”

Suddenly, a section of the wall of the dome disappeared, leaving a square gap. Two Ifrians came out and soon as they were out of the way, the two men slipped inside then the gap was filled in the wall of the dome.

Within, tall, wide hourglass shaped pillars held up a vaulted ceiling. Pools of water with porcelain fountains shaped like lilies doted the enormous space of the chamber. And in the center of the circular layout, a large step pyramid supported four golden thrones, arrayed side by side. Four beings sat on them had robes that glowed a hypnotic azure hue. All four of the beings had crowns, each one made of a different precious stone: one was made of jade, one made of emerald, one made of sapphire and the last one was of an onyx.

The emerald that was given by the wizard, Trophimus, started to heat up and grow brighter. The needle pointer flickered with a white burn like smoldering metal.

“Look! Whatever the case, we have certainly reached our goal. But where is my sister?” said Eutychus.

“Let us get a closer look at those four seated beings,” said Ativus.

Both men traversed the distance to the base of the pyramid. Just as they made it, one of the Ifrians bumped into Eutychus and he dropped the stone and it rolled away. He and Ativus became visible and all eyes in the dome looked at them.

But more dire was the glare of the four seated beings looking at the two intruders below.

Eutychus pulled out the sword and it ignited with white flames.

The one wearing the onyx stone stood with a malicious grin. “Welcome, Eutychus. I am King Dracmire-one of the rulers of Ifria. I suggest you release that sword.”

Dracmire snapped his fingers and a floating, glowing, transparent sphere appeared containing Eutychus’s sister, Opal.

“Opal!” Then Eutychus pain turned to anger. “Why have you taken her!”

“To make a deal,” said Dracmire.

“What do you want?”

“Your soul for hers.”

Eutychus shook his head. “If it was me you wanted why did just take me, like you did with her?”

“It is because of the power and essence of God inside your soul protecting you.” Dracmire held up an angry fist in response to the situation he described. “Curses to our weakness as inferior angels!”

“Angels?” said Ativus.

“Help, Eutychus!”

“Hold on, Opal!”

“Do we have a deal?” said the one with the sapphire crown.

Eutychus inched his way up the stairs of the pyramid holding the sword. He stopped three stairs from the throne surface. “And what if I decide to cut the four of you down right now?”

“I would take her life with a thought before your stroke even fell,” said Dracmire.

Eutychus raised his eyebrows and gritted his teeth in frustration. “And what will you do if I am filled with so much anger I would trade her life for senseless revenge.”

“You wouldn’t,” said Dracmire with a glare and narrowed eyes.

Opal’s plead filled Eutychus with grief and anxiety. He looked at her with deep empathy. “I will trade her for my own self.”

“No, brother! You must find another way! I know the answer is in God you serve!”

Eutychus looked down. His sister was right. He sensed within himself a holy power greater than even the blessing of the priest in his own kingdom. And because he knew it was a spiritual fight, he bowed his head and uttered a prayer to beckon God’s help.

Suddenly he felt a quickening within his soul that even permeated the people and objects outside of his body. The four rulers went tumbling backwards in their chairs. The whole domed chamber began to shake and crack.

The sphere that held opal faded and she fell on the stairs and the four rulers began to convulse and shriek in pain.

Eutychus helped Opal up. “We must leave!” he said as he took her by the hand and ran down the stairs of the pyramid with Ativus following.

All the Ifrians were running erratically in fear, trying to exit the dome simultaneously, crowding the space that opened in the wall.

Suddenly, a giant beam fell from the ceiling, obstructing the three humans’ and the panicking Ifrians’ way out. Eutychus took out Ativus’s blade and cut the beam a sunder as ice and stone went flying everywhere.

When they had squeezed past the crowd, the entire collection of towers were teetering and crumbling. Somehow, they avoided all the falling debris and the giant cracks that were appearing on the surface.

Eight minutes later, they exited the surrounding outer wall. It was like the entire heavens had been smitten as lighting and falling rock-like objects struck the ground. A hurricane-like wind was heaving waves on the black sea that was on the other side of the towers. The three retraced the route circling the cracking wall.

The three humans pressed against the power of the wind.

Not too far off, the grey wall of mist had reappeared.

“Look! We are almost there!” said Ativus.

When the three were five yards away from the portal, one of the rocks falling from the sky hit Opal’s feet and she fumbled to the ground. She tried to rise but she could not. “My ankles, it hurts to put weight on them! Ack!”

Eutychus saw her ankles were severely bruised and swollen. “They are broken. I must carry you.”

Opal’s brother picked her up and slung her over her shoulder. The added weight significantly slowed his speed. He began to panic as the misty portal was beginning to fade and close. And he knew that at his present speed, he wouldn’t make it to the portal in time.

“Leave me, brother. If we go on like this neither of us will make it.”

“I cannot!” said Eutychus. “I know all of us are to escape together. I feel it in my spirit. Something will happen.”

Eutychus resumed running. Once again, he reached deep within himself, but many times deeper. He delved into his soul and evoked all his will and focus. He prayed an unutterable prayer inside his spirit-so much that his mind reverberated with the message like a silent hymn.

Then, before he could take two steps farther, a giant phoenix landed in front of them. “I come on behalf of the Great King who has given me the command to help you! Quickly! Climb onto my back!”

None of the three humans hesitated or voiced a question but immediately mounted the bird. It shot forth through the air and in minutes, they were at the veil of mist.

“Will you come with us?” Eutychus asked the phoenix.

“I have no place in your realm. But like you, I have a place in heaven when I pass from this life. Go now.”

The three people went through the portal. After flying through the deep blue tunnel of light, they were back on Earth. But things had changed. The dreary, foggy sky was penetrated by a bright sun. The baren trees, were changing shape to beautiful deep brown color with straight, stout trunks. Birds seemed to come from nowhere and perch. Flowers and leaves were budding as grass rose from the ground before their eyes. The smell of cool, crisp air filled Eutychus’s nostrils. The sky was almost cleansed from the drabby curtain of red, pale hue and white clouds coalesced above the three humans.

“How awesome!” said Ativus.

“The destruction of Ifria must have lifted this…curse-like state,” said Eutychus.

“Wait until I show this two our father, King Bronus,” said Opal.

“I will show this to Wrethmire, my kingdom,” said Ativus.

“All the kingdoms of the realm will be amazed. It is the dawn of a new era of peace and safety,” said Eutychus.

Eutychus untied his horse from the tree.

“Look! Another horse is just standing there!” said Ativus, observing a white horse about three yards away.

“I am no horse. Can you not see my horn?”

“A talking unicorn! Where do you come from!”

“I am a helper sent from priest Nemphis. I was taken from the Garden of Eden and was sent here by him.” The unicorn neared Ativus and neighed. “Let us not waste any more time. Climb on, Sir Knight.”

Ativus mounted the animal. “Are you to part with your master called Nemphis?”

“I will return to him when my task is done.”

“I hope our paths cross again, my friend,” said Ativus to Eutychus.

“As do I.”

Ativus rode for Wrethmire and Eutychus with Opal, made for Evercrest.

When the whole realm knew of the undoing of Ifria and the sweet, gardened place where the mist portal was formerly located, a spiritual awaking overtook the land and the fear of Ifria was gone.

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