The Prologue for my Fantasy book called the Kingdom Of Arduaz.
Dark shadows flashed across the leaf littered clearing by a ring of densely crowded trees. In the centre of this clearing a ring of hooded figures sat cross-legged around a single globe of white light. Faint humming and whispering could be heard. A dim shimmer surrounded the group rippling whenever a leaf or stick drifted against it. As Coff and Dan hid behind a huge fallen tree trunk covered in a brown moss they watched with a childish curiosity. “Wha, what you think they are?” whispered Dan without taking his eyes off the strange individuals huddled around in the clearing of the Great God’s Tomb. “Dunno,” Coff replied in a hushed voice. The pair had been spying on the group for several hours now and Dan was beginning to fidget and move to bring some life back to his dead legs. SNAP! He stood on a twig and the snapping echoed around the clearing like a shout down a well. He froze, he held his breath and slowly he looked up and back to the strangers he choked back a scream of terror as he saw the distinct lack of light missing from the clearing. The complete blackness seemed to take his breath away, his chest clamped up and his limbs wouldn’t obey his primal urge to run as fast as he could in the opposite direction to the clearing. “Coff, Coff where you?” he called no longer caring about being quite, the figures knew they were here. “I’m here, run, there’s something in the trees” Came a reply to his relief. They could hear the sounds of rustling coming from the tree line. Coff grabbed Dan’s hand and dragged him back to reality. They ran. The full moon flickering in and out of the branches causing dark shadows to criss-cross their path disorientating them. They Ran. Last thing Dan saw was the ground coming up to meet him and the sensation of something grabbing his ankle and yanking him back the way he came. “Cooooffffff!” was all Coff heard over the snarling and growling of what sounded like a crazed dog. “Da… Da… Dan, you ok?” he stuttered into the darkness. He leaned forward and stared intently into the void and thought he could see the darker shade of a dogs head down as if eating something. He scrambled to his feet, snagging his foot on a root he stumbled forward landing on his face hard He struggled to his feet again ignoring the razor sharp pain drumming though his head. He ran. Sounds of pursuit came from behind him, a tree scratched across his cheek leaving a stinging line down one side. Running jumping, falling, was all he knew amongst the deranged lines of light and dark. Whip across the chest forcing him down yet again. He lay there afraid to move, he listened no sound of pursuit was audible. He rolled slowly to his feet and searched around for any clue as to where he was or heading. He caught sight of a huge shadow, which he knew to be a rock marking the beginning of the trail to the centre where the Gods Tomb lay. He muffled a shout of triumph as he bounded towards the rock. He caught another branch across the chest barely noticing the pain, as the rock grew larger and larger until WACK! He lay there on his back looking up into the branches and slowly became aware of being watched. As he came to the decision to roll over he heard a chilling growl and then another. Footsteps, he shut his eyes tight as if this would make it disappear. A foul odour and a slimy substance dripped on his face, heavy panting and the sound of sniffing. He opened his eyes quick and almost choked on the scream that escaped his mouth, he started to scramble backwards away from the beast. The beast stood there and watched as if waiting instruction, it paced back and forth smelling the air and drooling from its snapping jaws. “Who are you?” a voice said
“Co, Coff, we didn’t mean any harm we didn’t see anything we only just turned up” he blurted out as he started to sob.
“You should not have seen us, you should not have been spying in the dark”
“I shall spare you but I shall teach you a lesson in manners before I do” the voice sounded like it came from the beast itself. The large black dog had short hair and a thick set of shoulders that seemed to squirm and stretch under its skin. It started to move closer, circling him. He went to let out another scream but found he couldn’t make a sound, he felt the air rushing from his lungs as if he was screaming but no sound left. He grabbed at this throat. Scrambled backwards more until his back came up against the large rock again. He tried to shout for help, to make a sound anything but nothing came out. The voice started to laugh at him and he felt a cold chill run up his spine and with a blow to his head that felt like a club striking him he fell into a world of darkness. He opened his eyes and still blackness; he looked up towards the sky hoping to glimpse the moon between the branches and the clearing where the trail began but still nothing. His heart started to beat faster and faster as panic set in, he was blind and voiceless. He started to thrash and lurch about with all coordination gone he crawled amongst the leaf litter crying a silent prayer. He stopped. He listened. He tilted his head. He heard nothing, no heavy panting, no laughing, just the wind rustling the branches and the sound of his own thoughts racing though his head. Panic began to swell up again as he struggled to find his bearing with no sight. He clawed uselessly at his eyes, rubbing them and hitting himself in the forehead in frustration. He sat there in the dark in silence for a while thinking about how he came to be here, how he and Dan had rowed across from the main land to see what was in the woods on the strange island known as the Gods tomb. He hadn’t wanted to but Dan was older and always chose what to do, it was go along or be alone all day watching cows in the field. He caught himself from falling asleep as his head bobbed for the second time. He opened his eyes and gave a shout as he realised he was still blind only to find that his voice had also not returned. I might as well move, staying here nobody will find me, I’ll go this way he thought and pulled himself to his knees and crawled, over small rocks and branches. Soon the ground became smoother and he guessed he was on the trail. He kissed the ground and cried in relief that at least if he chooses the wrong way he will eventually be found by someone worshipping the Gods. He set off with a new sense of hope and soon came upon what he assumed was the rock at the beginning of the trail and there he stopped and waited to be found. He closed his eyes, not that it mattered he thought to himself and tried for sleep. A hand awaked him on his shoulder. He opened his eyes but nothing but emptiness met him. He searched around with his hands. “Are you okay” came a voice, not like the voice from before but a kind voice. He felt the tears swell in eyes and he fell forward, he had been found. He tried in vain to form words, talking, blurting everything out at once but saying nothing. Silence followed. He heard muffled voices, the sounds of footsteps, then silence. “Can you hear me?” came the voice again, “make a sign that you can” Coff jumped to his feet and started gesturing to his neck and eyes. “I think he can hear us, what happened to you? How did you come to be here on the island?” the voice continued, “I’m Gar-Su, I’m a member of the Protectors, I can help you.” And Coff felt a hand take him by the shoulder and lead him off. He followed with his head down, thinking. How can I tell them what I saw, I can’t read or write and now I can’t even talk he thought. At least I can talk to myself he thought and that brought a smile to his face. “That’s it keep you hopes up, you look like you’ve been through quite an ordeal.” Said the voice that said he was Gar-Su. Coff looked in the direction the voice came and nodded he looked away quick as he felt more tears swelling in the corners of his sightless eyes. They walked for what felt like forever until he noted the change in texture under his feet as he left the dirt road and climbed some wooden steps. They paused and he heard the recognisable sound of a door swinging open and the hushed voices of several male individuals. A hand touched him gently on the back and put enough pressure on to tell him he should move forward through the door. As he passed the thresh hold he felt a dramatic change in temperature. Inside was warm and welcoming compared to the chilling weather outside. He continued until he felt a pressure on his chest, he stopped and felt in front of him, he came up against a soft bodied male frame and as he worked his way up he felt a beard and quickly snapped his hand back. Instinctively he went to say sorry but he couldn’t. “Hello, my name is Nasan, I’m the head of the protectors sworn to protect the final resting places of the Gods.” Came a new voice, the voice sounded older than the one before and he felt a calming sensation coming from the man Nasan. “I’m going to talk to you through your mind, if you are okay with this raise your right hand.” Nasan fell silent and waited. Coff lifted his right hand relieved and scared at the thought of having someone in his head so he can tell what happened to him and Dan. The sudden thought of Dan filled him with a deep feeling of sadness and responsibility. He had to get word to his parents, tell them what happened.
“Good, it wont hurt, you may feel a warm sensation that’s the feeling of my mind entering yours, steady your breathing and all will become apparent” and with that Coff felt the warming sensation envelope his head and a deep feeling of openness.
Hello, my names Nasan, what’s your name? Came a voice from within his mind,
It felt wrong to have someone inside his head. He thought only of telling him what had happened and how he had lost his voice and sight.
My names Coff, I’m from a village on the coast of Scala. I came across with a friend called Dan. Images flashed past of the events as he spoke revealing everything down to his feelings on the boat as he rowed towards the black sand beach of the exciting unknown island.
We came to explore, we were bored. We were looking through the forest, we were heading for the middle, and we kept walking and walking. We were about to give up when we heard muffled voices. We followed the sounds and came to a clearing where a group of four hooded figures huddled around a globe of light chanting and humming. We watched for a few hours… He pulled back unwilling to thinking about what came next, he felt a feeling he can only describe as a door opening and closing and new images flashed past, the events he was unwilling to talk about Nasan watched instead. After he felt the images stop there was silence.
Thank-you for sharing that with me Coff, I shall have my best healer look at you and see if we can restore your sight and voice. Your friend, we shall look for, although I fear we shall find nothing but remains if anything at all. You are welcome to stay as long as you like, we have the resources to teach you to deal with your handicaps while we try and cure them. For now I will leave you, but I shall return with a way for you to be heard. He felt Nasan slip out of his head as the feeling of being trapped returned stronger now that he had spoken to another.
“Take him to Trudi, tell her I have sent him to be examined for magical ailments” The voice he now felt quite attached to said to someone to Coff’s right hand side. He felt a hand guild him back out the way he came and out into the cold again. He found himself wondering what time of day it was. Without his sight he was completely lost, dependant on these strange faceless people for direction trusting they are kind but unable to truly judge. Even if the worse was to happen he could do little to attract help with his voice gone. He thought back to the mental conversation and wondered what else he had seen. Did he know who these figures were? He was led to another set of wooden steps and he climbed and stopped as before. This time he heard three sharp knocks on wood, and then a hushed feminine voice came floating through the door. “Who’s this now, I swear to the gods I’m never left alone” came the voice. The door swung open and only the wind whipping past his ears could be heard.
“Hello, who’s this?” he guessed she meant him.
“Nasan found the lad out by the trial, he has lost his voice and sight and when Nasan did a mind connection he revealed some disturbing images.” Came another new voice. How many people were around him right now he thought. “He says he wants him examined for magical ailments.” the voice continued.
“I see, bring him in then, best get him settled first” came the voice he guessed was Trudi. He was ushered in and again he felt the welcoming change in temperature. He was eased into a wooden high backed chair. As he settled into the chair he could her footsteps leaving the room and shuffling coming from his left hand side, he reached out hesitantly with his left hand and felt a wooden side, he slid his hand a little further and felt papers and glass beakers he recoiled as he realised the shuffling had stopped. All of a sudden he felt a warm tingling around his head and felt someone slip inside his mind.
Well hello there, I’m Trudi I’m the Protectors healer, I’m going to have a little look about in here, see if I can find out what has happened to you is that okay with you? He hesitated but the possibility of him having his eyesight and voice back pushed back his fear.
Yes, that’s fine, please help me, I feel so lost without my eyes, I want to see the moon and the sun again, my parents, I don’t want to stay here forever. He found himself saying. He felt ungrateful as he said it but it was true he didn’t.
I will try my best, I shall just direct your body to the bed, hang on. He felt strange, as his body seemed to move from underneath him as if he was seeing it from above. As he watched himself laid down he felt the presence on Trudi return.
Right, now that your body is comfortable, relax your mind and allow me to take a look, keep from thinking to much as everything you think of that brings a memory image to the surface I can see no matter how hard I try not to. He relaxed his mind and felt the warm feeling intensify around his eyes, he felt fingers touching his eyeball and things behind his eyes he had never felt touched before, he could barely stand the sensations. It wasn’t painful or even uncomfortable but that sense that something was happening to you, you don’t understand or can even begin to understand. He felt the sensation move down towards his throat and he felt a click and sudden pressure he hadn’t notice until now when it was relieved. He let out a scream and was overwhelmed to hear that his voice came echoing out from between his own lips.
I have managed to mend your voice; it was a simple tangle of your voice chords. I’m afraid your eyes are not so easy; who ever did this to you has burnt out your optic nerve. I can attempt to restore it but it will take time and many sessions of work. I would also like to get a second opinion from a colleague of mine.
He felt the warm feeling leave and slowly he came back to his body on the bed. He lay there and fell into a fitful sleep muttering to himself just to hear his own voice aloud.
Trudi left the young man to sleep and went to find her apprentice to keep an eye him while she left to speak with Nasan.
As she entered through the large wooden door of the meetinghouse she sent out a message to Nasan using her mind.
Trudi, what have you found? Come up to my study I’m just going over this case. The connection ended and Trudi started across the large wooden entrance hall and ascended the stairs opposite. She strode along another hall past artefacts from ancient cults and civilisations long forgotten. She paused at the fifth door on the right and knocked.
“Come in.” Came Nasan’s voice from the other side. She opened the door and stepped inside. She walked across the simple sheep wool rug and settled down next to Nasan cross-legged on the floor in front of a fire crackling happily in a shallow hollow dug in the earth surrounded by stones. Erected over the top was a frame, which meat could be spit-roasted or a pot could be rested and stew cooked slowly. Small wooden stools were arranged around the fire.
“I managed to heal his voice, but that is all for now.” She announced looking at him from the corner of her eye.
“That’s good, can you mend his sight as well?” he asked as he looked into a globe of moving pictures, which she realised were the mental images he had seen in the young lads mind.
“I think so, it will take time and many sessions of intense tissue reconstruction.” She explained. “But it’s the figure that did this that disturbs me more, I haven’t felt such a strong magical force for some time now.”
“I felt it too, I’m glad you have confirmed it as I was reluctant to delve deeper without another’s opinion, I shall call a meeting in the next couple of days to discuss what this means and how best to deal with it.”
“I also sensed a slight talent within him, given a chance I think I could extract enough to give him gifts of healing” Trudi said as she lifted herself from the floor.
“You can ask if he wishes to learn, we can force him, if he wishes I have no objections to the lad learning. What of your current apprentice? What’s her name?” Nasan went on as he picked up the flat rock by the fire pit and placed it gently in the fire to heat.
“Emily, she’s almost finished her training, she would benefit from helping me teach a pupil by going over the basics and repeating them in a way that will help another student understand. She moved across the room, as she reached the door she turned. Nasan turned his head to regard her.
“Yes Trudi, is there anything else you wish to discuss?” he asked as he turned his head back to look at the flat stone in the fire.
“Doesn’t matter, sorry have a good evening” and she opened the door, stepped through and closed it behind her. She listened to her feet as she clicked her way down the corridor and out into to cold afternoon light.