Takes place in the world created by Terry Goodkind add to it 12/04
|"I'll find help, I promise, Just hang in there." And with that there were three.
Three people kneeled together in the darkness, their only protection from the dreamwalker their connection to their elements. But still, he haunted their minds. As long as he was there, they were bound to their solid, human bodies. And they were bound in pain. But-that was secondary. Jajang had a talent for torture; and he came exceptionally close to what they had experienced in their lifetimes, but in the small part of their mind he could not reach they knew they could take more.
He was curious, yet enraged at the fact that there was a portion he could not enter. It also severly limited their use to his Excelency. He had found the four by accident. And he had lost one of them the same way.
Jajang made a fatal mistake, he thought that the four strangely clad people he had caught were like the Sisters that he had under his control. A ring pirced the lip on one of the three, the only female; the other he had lost in his mistake.
Isra would have cried if she had the tears to. As it was, she was on a mission. Her fellow brethren were unter the control of Emperor Jajang, and she had to find a way to free them. She had to find a way to allow herself to become human again as well. There were dangers for her to stay as a spark for too long. As she jumped on the winds she always found it easier to travel the lands at night, when there were many fires to jump to. This night was no diffrent. It didn't take long to get out of the sprawling camp of the Imerial Order with all of the fires they had set half-hazardly about. It was no wonder Rubric felt so dry and dirty. The filth was as far as the eye could see, like an ocean of humanity. Jajang had said that his enemy was to the south. The dreamwalker had all but the Wizard's Keep in the Midlands, and sorely wanted it just as much as the People's Palace in D'Hara; having D'Hara blocked from his path and having lost the Wizard's Keep he was in a foul mood. He wanted nothing more than to conquer and to extinguish those like her. She raced south to find her only hope. After all, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. So the saying went. And Richard Rahl was one powerful enemy if he could keep the dreamwalker from his mind.
"Tell General Miffret that a small force will be easier to keep down here than a larger one. We are here to support the people here. Not fight for them." Richard said to the messenger beside a campfire. Now that the bond was re-established, he had been getting messages again from the army up north. He wished that he could get a message to Zedd, but he was deep behind ememy lines in the Wizard's Keep, and the only way to him would be through the Sliph. Which was dangerous enough. Since magic was not restored as he had thought, he didn't even know if she was still helpful. But he didn't want to risk it either. To awaken the Sliph could also give Jagang a way into the keep. Kahlan leaned into his shoulder as the messenger nodded. He wasn't entirely giving orders to the army, but he had his life back in him again. "We are going further south. Victor and his army there need our help," Richard smiled. "We aren't here to invade them, we are here to give them the help in their fight for freedom. If they want it, we won't need our own men down here. Besides, they are needed up there. Jajang can't have the prophicies that lie in the People's Palace."
"Yes, Lord Rahl," The messenger said. Richard waved a hand.
"You'd better get some sleep," he said getting up and turning away from the flames, "I'll take first watch." Kahlan could tell that something was bothering him. As he took a spot on an out croping of rock, the warm air that was strange to the early spring rustled past.
"What's troubling you?" she asked as she sat beside him for a spell. He let his eyes adjust to the darkness before answering.
"I don't know. Something in the wind."
"The wind? You don't think it's the temple?" Kahlan asked, worry in her voice. The last time that the 'winds hunted him', he ended up going to the Temple of the Winds beyond the Underworld, and she feared that she had lost him forever. Richard shook his head.
"It sounds more like a cry of pain on the winds, like it's in pain or something." He ran his fingers through his hair. Looking at her he smiled, the light from the full moon dancing in his eyes. "Get some sleep." He kissed the top of her forehead, holding her close. "I love you," he whispered before letter her go.
"I love you too," she said, getting up and gliding to their camp roll.
Isra was getting tired. The fires were getting spread further and further apart; in the old world there didn't seem to be such a large need for them in the end of Spring. She had spent weeks searching for the elusive Richard Rahl. The search wasn't in vain though. She had found the encampment of his army a week out. Carful to stay well away from the ones with Sisters, she found out a great deal. They were all protected by the dreamwalker for one thing. For another, there was a force getting ready to meet up with Richard in the Old World; the place where they said he was. From the flame of a lamp, she found out exactly where. It wasn't going to be easy to get down there fast. She could try and stay with the army, but come day the lights would be extiguished, and as it was, they didn't hold too many fires at night either. She had no clue or indication how many people they had. If she went by the number of fires, she would say the force was minuscule. By the way that the Prelate and General talked they had a good sized amount, though it was no comparision to that which lied with the Imprial Order.
Isra made her way out of camp quickly, finding sparks of laterns to jump to, from travelers in the early evenings to their campfires and eventually to the glowing embers in fireplaces in homes along the way. Durning the days, when fires were not going, she rested in kitchen hearths where cooking fires were kept going. She absorbed the sents and aromas of the bannock and bacon, the stews and porriges made her wish she could have a bite. She hadn't eaten in what must have been weeks. Not that in her elemental form of Fire she needed to eat anything but wood, but well, Isra wasn't born fire after all. She dared not go into even a partial human form, for fear of the dreamwalker finding her. She knew he was avidly searching. To him, she and her fellows were nothing more than tools to be used and discarded. His blantent disreguard for all life left them appalled to no mild end.
It was no easy thing to get south. She wondered what was faster, travel by fire, or travel by horse. She mused the possiblitiy on this night, like many nights past, keeping her thoughts as human and trivial as possible. She was rather deep into the Old world now, and found a place where the very air was like fire. Taking a deep breath, she could feel revitalized. There was no fire to be found, not from wood or rock at anyrate, but she found enough energy to form a flamming visage of herself. As human as she dared to go without going completly. Even with that little bit, she could feel Jajang's tendrils reaching to her mind, demanding her return. She let the pain run through her, and sent an apology to her fellow elementals in the pain they had to endure with her absence. He had let it known to her in that tenatious grip that he was giving them plenty of pain for her disobeyance. A tear did fall from her face then; as it fell, like a spark it went out before it hit the ground at her feet. Getting resolve in that brief touch from the emperor, she let go of her human shape and shot off again using all the power she could to shoot to the next fire she could sence. It was all she could do to keep moving. She had to find Richard Rahl that night.
Richard turned to the fire, sencing that something wasn't right. Kahlan, Cara and Tobias, the messenger were asleep, the fire was just settling down. He glanced at it, wondering what had caught his attention. It was the fire. He walked up to it and frowned. The wood was nearly all charred and ash, but the fire was much too strong to indicate the lack of fuel. He reconized the touch of magic in it. It wasn't there before. Surely the Chimes weren't back...
"Sen..." he began, when the fire jumped as if in anticipation of his word and... fear. He stopped mid-word to see the other three wake in the jump of flames. Kara had her Agiel in her hand and by the look in her eyes, he could tell that additive magic still worked.
"Lord Rahl," she said causiouly, looking from him to the fire that he was looking at.
"Richard?" Kahlan asked, moving to his side. Just then, a figure appeared in the flame, a part of it, yet human-like in shape. They all took a step back in surprise.
"Richard Rahl?" the figure said in question. This was new. It wasn't a chime, as from what he remembered, they didn't speak. And he had banished them- or so he thought. "My name is Isra, and I need your help."
"My help?" Richard said surprised, but sitting down. The female form nodded her head.
"I am sorry that I startled you, but I cannot come to you any other way. Emperor Jagang has my brethren, and you are his enemy. Somehow, you have protection from the dreamwalker. We need that protection." Isra sat down cross legged in the fire.
"How do we know that Jagang isn't with you now?" Kahlan asked taking a seat next to Richard.
"But he is," Isra said with a tilt of her head. "He can see that which I see, though he cannot influnce me or take over my mind."
"So if what you say is true, then you have some protection from him," Richard said. "If he has you and your brethren, then why haven't you killed us already, why hasn't he won this war?"
"It is not as easy as you say Richard Rahl," Isra said. She seemed to be in pain, her eyes crying in the flames. "He cannot take control of that which he is not. Or you would have to worry about all the creatures; bird, horse and dog alike." Richard nodded. Just weeks back he had killed a Slide, whom did just that. He had almost lost Kahlan then; he pushed the memory aside.
"Jagang can only control human minds, and those with the gift are easier conduits." Isra nodded. "So you are human then, but partially?" He said, putting the information together.
"I am an elemental. Me and my kin are human as you say, but the gift is diffrent in us. We are part of our chosen element."
"So you are an elemental of fire," Richard said, starting to understand. "When you are as your element, you are not quite human, so the dreamwalker cannot control you, correct?" Isra nodded with a smile. "How did this come to be about?" As far as Richard knew, the wizards hadn't created any weapons from people in such a fashion.
"We are born this way." Isra said flatly. "We are born with an affinity for an element. We train our whole lives from the time we are young until we are grown in the use of our gift."
"But I have not heard of you before," Kalhan said, knowing all of the creatures in the midlands. By Isra's intonation she wasn't from the old World.
"We are not from this land. When we first came, we were in some form of our element. My Brother, Aquilo took us upon the wind here, my self as a spark, my Sister as water drops and Rubric as dust. When we came here, and returned to our human form, we were fine for awhile, but then the dreamwalker came to us in our dreams one night and we were forced to go to him in what's known as the Midlands."
"So how did you get away?" Kahlan asked.
"Jagang does not know of elementals. He saw us as those with the gift. He knows that we can turn into our element, but other than do the smallest of things in our human form, most of our power lies with us in this form. He planned to use me to burn through the D'Haran army to get to the People's Palace. When he allowed me to turn into my element, there were...unforseen concequences."
"Unforseen consequences," Richard repeated. "He found that his hold over you was lessened." Isra shook her head.
"His hold over me was completly gone," she corrected.
Isra held up her firey hand.
"As a spark on the wind, a flame in a fire, I am little more than that. With thought. With nothing more than just my spirit and thought as fire, I am far from human. A creature of magic. He could not access my mind. When I found this out, I stayed as fire, and told my brethren that I would find help. The enemy of my enemy is my friend," Isra said guesturing Richard. "Jagang hates you. And he cannot get into your head, so he also fears you, though he will not show it. There is no one that his Excellency trusts, unless he can get into their head." Isra shook her head. "I hope that you could give me your secret to keeping him out of your head. I cannot stay fire forever. To stay so long requires a price. If I stay much longer, I will not be able to return to myself." Richard looked at the figure in the fire for a moment before giving a laugh.
"It's simply really," he said, "You just have to swear fealty and loyalty to me, and the bond will protect you." He said. Isra looked at him with a surprised look, then narrowed her eyes.
"I don't give my oath lightly," Isra said darkly, her voice like the fire she is. "What says that you are a man worth following?"
"We fight to keep magic in the world," Kahlan said, "So that people can live their own lives, as they see fit." Richard nodded and hugged his wife.
"You must be the Mother Confessor, Kahlan," Isra said as if seeing her for the first time.
"Yes, please, call me Kahlan," she said, wrapping an arm around Richard. Isra shook her head. If what she had heard was true, in this land, Kahlan was something close to an elemental in her own way.
"You may join us, I will not force or coherse you into it," Richard said simply. "What my wife says is true. The only thing that I would ask of you should you swear loyalty is that you not harm any of my people, or those who have done you no harm. And obey the laws that would be common to all." Isra thought this over, rolling the ideas over.
"Sounds fair enough. And there is no lie in the tone." Isra stepped out of the fire and went to a knee, bowing her head. "I pledge my loalty and service to Lord Richard Rahl with all of my heart and soul." As she finished, the fire around her went out, and the fire behind her returned to the level it sould be, mere embers. Cara added wood to stoke the flames. In the darkeness, all they could make of her form was that she was slender. And they could hear her stomach. Isra smiled.
"If you are going to join us, say the bond the way it was meant to be said," Cara said, her voice quite serious. "Master Rahl guide us. Master Rahl teach us. Master Rahl protect us. In you light we thrive. In your mercy we are sheltered. In your wisdom we are humbled. We live only to serve. Our lives are yours." Tobias reflexivly bent his knees, but stopped himself, and just mummbled the intonation with her. Isra looked at Richard.
"You said that my life would be my own. This...devotion...would say otherwise." Isra said looking up. Cara gave the barest hint of a smile.
"Lord Rahl has turned the world upside down," she said placing a hand on her hip.
"My ancestors are the one who made the spell to protect their people from the dreamwalkers, not me," Richard explained. "Your life is yours alone. Not I nor anyone else can tell you what to do with your life." Isra nodded. Then with the help from Cara, she repeated the devotion.
"Master Rahl guide us. Master Rahl teach us. Master Rahl protect us. In your light we thrive. In your mercy we are sheltered. In your wisdom we are humbled. We live only to serve. Our lives are yours." When Isra had repeated the devotion three times she stood. "Master Rahl, I thank you for freeing my mind from the dreamwalker."
"Please, call me Richard."
Isra smiled. It was definatly a beutiful thing to see even in the late night. "Richard then." Then, she collapsed.
The sun was bright overhead, and Isra could feel the cool shade of trees when she awoke to see the Mother Confessor dabbing her forehead with a cloth. She motioned to sit up, but the Mother Confessor and Lord Rahl both held her gently in place.
"Easy there," Richard said, smiling. "You gave us quite a fright there, Isra." Kahlan nodded.
"You are weak still,"Kahlan said holding a waterskin up for the elemental. Isra took it readily and gulped down the soothing, cool water. When she had her fill she smiled at the sweet taste and rested her head.
"Thank you. How long have I been out?" Isra asked trying to understand the posistion of the sun.
"For the better part of the day. We moved you to a spot closer to the shade, but you seem very weak," Richard said, finally letting her sit up. Isra ran a hand through her hair, combing the long black and red streaked hair to some semblance of order to her. It looked like it had a mind of it's own, but Isra seemed content at somepoint and let it be.
"I don't mean to trouble you, Lord Rahl," Isra said looking at the small fire beside her. "But I haven't eaten since I left Jagang's camp." Richard nodded, and handed her a bowl that was sitting by the outer edges of the fire, keeping the food warm. Camp porrige with a few berries and spices. Isra took it gladly and inhaled the sweet aroma, savoring it and the warmth that seeped into her hands. For several seconds she just breathed in the aroma, glad to just be able to have such a simple pleasure again. When she took her first tenative bite, the heat dissapated on her mouth leaving the sweetness of the food, a good balance of grain with berries and spices dancing on her tounge. She let the spponful linger there, letting it go down slowly. Eating slowly and deliberatly, she not only savored the food, but she let her body adjust to having it again.
"Thank you," Isra said halfway through, as she forced herself to pause. "I have been traveling for so long, I had nearly forgotten the taste of food."
"How long have you been traveling?" Richard asked, seeing that she was restraining her enthusisim over the food deliberatly, and not out of just polite manners. After a few more slow bites, she answered, letting that which she had swallowed to digest.
"I'd estimate a few weeks," Isra said sadly. "It took me a week to find your camp with a General Miffret and find your location. Then from D'Hara to here about two weeks possibly more." Richard stiffened at the news, but Isra allyaed his worries.
"Jagang would not know how many people you had even with my help. The D'Haran camp has so few fires, it seemes like a town fighting against the world of the Imperial Order. I am sure that with as well trained as your men appear to be, Rubic and Aquilo, elementals of earth and wind respectivly, would not know what size of force you have. They treat the land with much respect, as well as quiet upon the winds. But outside of Jagang's camp, I doubt they could hear their own thoughts. Jagangs camp moves like a plaugue through the lands, his trail like a scar, and his camp can be heard from many miles away. Campfires are so abundant it's a wonder there are forests left there, and waters unspoiled." Isra sounded sad at the last part, and angry at Jagang.
"So D'Hara is safe for the moment." Richard said with a nod thinking. Isra nodded, stirring her porrige, taking another taste. "Weeks, and you haven't taken human form since?" Isra shook her head.
"No, Lord Rahl. I dared not. The closest I came to it was in a place not far from here, where the very air seemed to be made of fire."
"That must be the Pillars of Creation," Kahlan said, remembering the place well enough.
"Well, there was enough energy there for me to gather to make this last jump to your fire." Isra took a deep breath. "I am glad that I found you when I did. I am sure that had I spend another day in the fire, I would have become the fire."
"What do you mean become the fire?" Richard asked, refilling Isra's bowl as Cara returned from the trees.
"Well, there is a price to pay in being with out element," Isra said, thinking of how to explain. "It requires a lot of energy. That's why we can only chose one element to become. There are other reasons, but that is the main reason. I do not know how to explain it to one not of our kin. One who had not grown with this magic. THere is nothing for me to compare it to that you would understand, but I will try."
"In essence, we give up our bodies to our element, letting the element bond and become part of our flesh." Isra frowned.
"You mean that your body becomes fire?" Richard asked. Isra tilted her head.
"No. No, it does not 'become fire'," Isra waved her hand, "Fire would consume it. I simply...let it go. It is not a pleasent experince. But the trade is worth it in some ways. My sences are changed. I can control heat. The very essence of it. But, if I stay as fire too long, then I lose connection with my human self. I can get a hunger, to eat."
"Hunger?" Richard asked looking at the campfire. "Like the chimes?"
"Yes, but no." Isra shook her head, she pointed to the fire, "In order to have a fire you need some sort of fuel, yes?"
"Yes," Richard said with a nod.
"Well, if the fire had emotion, or if you thought of it as a living entity, then you could say that fire eats the wood." Isra ran her hand through the flame, "As long as there is fuel, the fire is there, as long as it has food to feed off of."
"So this hunger you speak of is like the need to eat-burn fuel?"
"I suppose you can say it like that. But I lose touch of what that means. I would forget the smallest things at first, like the way something feels or smells. Anything connected with sences of the flesh." Isra indicated herself. Her clothing was of leather skintight armor, similar to Cara's but black and red with Orange in a flame like pattern. "Then we forget ourselves. When we lose that last part, we have lost our bodies."
"So then you become like the chimes," Cara said frowning at the thought of the magical beings. Isra thought.
"No...I don't think so," Isra said thinking on it. "The chimes made it impossible for us to change back into our human selves. We lost a lot of our people then. When they were destroyed, we knew that they were gone when we could change back. If the Chimes were still here, I would have long ago become fire. Now, I'm not sure what would happen. But I don't think that we would become chimes."
"How do you know?" Kahlan asked adding a stick to the fire.
"The Chimes I am told are of the underworld. Having not been a part of the underworld, we cannot become that which we are not a part of. Does that make any sence?" Isra said looking into the flames. She had finished her third bowl and shook her head at the offering of another.
"You have a human soul, and were born with additive magic. The shime were not created with additive magic and were only of subtractive. Since you have both, if you became fire, you would still have some balance of additive magic to the subtractive that you possess." Richard said packing the bowl away after cleaning it. "The Chimes being creatures of the underworld were without souls and made of purely Subtractive Magic. Because you have some form of additive even in your elemental form, you would still be of this world and not a chime."
"Yes," Isra said nodding with a smile at Richard. "That's why."
"What do you plan to do, now that you are free of Jajang?" Kalhan asked as they got ready to pack up camp. They needed to get down to Victor and Nicci, they ahd already been delyayed quite enough.
"I need to rescue my brethren," Isra said simply. "But I cannot travel to them now. It would take months to get there on foot or horseback, and I cannot return by fire."
"Why not?" Richard asked looking at her.
"Like I said before, the price for magic is high," Isra said paitiently. "My body has not yet fully recovered. It has gone for weeks without food. If you went for weeks without food or sleep, do you thing you could just take a nap and a meal and go do such a fast again?"
"I see what you mean." Another thought came to Richard. "Isra, what of your people? If they are down here in the old world, wouldn't Jajang have more of them with his army? Aren't they part of the Imperial Order?"
"No Lord Rahl," Isra said standing slowly. "We are beyond what you call the Old World. About two and a half years ago a boundry that had been created nearly a milineia ago failed giving the old world and our world access to each other. I do not belive that Jajang knew about it, but he knows about it now."
"So If you are not from the Old world, why are you here?"
"To find the person who relesed the Chimes. Our land is open once more to the dangers of the old world. We were sent here to take that person back for judgement. Also to find the person that banashed them and saved our people from dying out completly."
Kahlan felt bad then, knowing that they had found her.
"I was the one who relese the Chinmes," Kahlan said quietly, but with athority. Isra looked surprised. "I did it to save Richards life," she said not really wanting to go into the details. Isra's shocked expression softened.
"Lord Rahl was the one who banashed them," Cara said as if in challenge to Isra. The Mord-Sith wouldn't allow harm to come to either the Lord Rahl or the Mother Confessor and she let it be know in ther tone and stance. Isra nodded and thought it over.
"Well, I don't know the circumtances, but if it's as you say, then it was for good reason. If ill chosen. To save one life at the cost of many..." seeing Cara's face, she held up her hand. "Like I said I know not the circumstance. But as they were not called out in malice, then I can find no fault in her ations. I do not thing that my brethren will either." At that thought she looked saddened.
"Travel with us for a bit, and we will see what we can do about recuring your brethren from Jajang. Before he uses them against D'Hara." Richard said, shooting down Cara's glare. "Just how strong in magic are you?" he asked as they mounted their packs. Isra shrugged.
"Not very, I'm afraid. I could probably take all the heat out of the air in a ten foot radius around me and make a fire, But that is the exent of my ablities in my birth state."
"And your friends?" Richard asked assessing the treat to D'Hara. Isra shook her head.
"About the same, repectively. Probably about as strong as some of the sisters under Jajang's command, just not as useful. He can't use our power the way he makes them to. And we'd rather die than serve him. We serve no master."