Oh dear, I cannot believe it has been two MONTHS! Really, I am so sorry I let everyone wait so long! Life has just been crazy and time flying by at the speed of sound (or at least to me it feels like it did). Scarcely did I have time to sit down and write, which is why this chapter comes so horribly late to you. :(
Stitch: I hope you found the message I left for you on my profile. Thank you so much for prodding me. I was already half way through ch13 when I received your note, but still it definitely was a motivation-booster. ;) Also thanx a bunch for the lovely review on ch12. I'm super happy to know you're still following the Rise and hope you'll like the next instalments, too. *fingers crossed*
(Btw.: You moved half way across the world? Wow! All the best then for what I guess could be called a new life!? :D)
About this chapter: As you surely noticed already I broke "Darkness falls" down into two parts. I did so because while writing I noticed it became quite long and I wasn't even finished with it yet. So that's why here's the first half of it. It's more of an in-betweener I am afraid – it's main purpose being to prepare the main part. Still I hope it's worth the read.
As always my heartfelt thanks goes to my amazing readers: AFairy88, AnimePrincess, Stitch and Yen. And a super warm welcome goes to MJ and Teti – glad to have you onboard, you two! 3
Special thanx goes toTeti for giving this a first read, and to MidnightDew and Whisper without whom this story would have never found its way online.
Love you all!
And now, enough of my endless chatter! Go off reading. I really hope you'll enjoy the chapter.
Hope to see you again in part 2.
Chapter 13: Darkness falls part1
The crimson moon was moving slowly on the dark night-sky, its path already decided on eons ago. Turok's eyes lay intently on the satellite, his mind focusing on the faint magic that still filled the air. It had grown noticeably weaker since their first attack, but much to his displeasure it had not yet ceased to exist. The phoenix was still alive, trying to heal the wounds that he and his daughter had caused. But Turok was more than willing to not let that happen. Unconsciously he folded the fingers he had brought up to hover in front of his chest and interlaced them so that he could linger at the cave's entrance in his favourite pose. From behind him he heard the soft rustling of palm leaves fanning the stale air, their movements caused by his daughter's spell.
Rumina lay on the divan, her eyes slightly closed as she obviously was intent to relax. The colour had returned to her face and her breaths were even, the silken dress shuffling quietly as her chest rose and fell.
The young sorceress had recovered quickly from their earlier try and feeling her father's confidence fuel her own one, too, she stretched slightly before she tilted her head a little and let her gaze settle on the silhouette of the older man.
"We should make sure that this time he cannot escape", she spoke seemingly casually but there was something in her voice that told she was not taking it lightly. The amount of power the sorceress had felt radiate from the blood red stone was greater than anything she had ever encountered before and knowing she once more would try to get a hold of it and turn it against its holy source unsettled her as much as it excited her.
Her father, who barely acknowledged her words with a small nod, remained silent for a moment before suddenly he turned around and let his dark eyes find her.
"We know now what we have to expect. Sinbad might have found out what he is supposed to do, but it was sheer luck that guided him. This time we will be prepared."
Rumina watched him wordlessly before she shifted and waved with her right hand, letting the palm leaves sink to the ground with this simple gesture.
"I reckon it is time soon, father?", she then stated while her gaze strayed to focus on the crystal which lay idly still in the centre of the cavern. The once colourless object now displayed the same dark colour which it had gained through their earlier spell, yet there was something faint about its shade, something that spoke of weakness and of a power not unleashed.
Restraining a frown, the brunette finally sat up and left the divan, taking deliberate steps towards the stone. As she moved, she felt Turok nod at her silently before he, too, set himself into motion.
"It won't be long till the moon hits the second mark, and when it does we will reach out to its might once more."
The old sorcerer's voice sounded a little distant as he spoke, his mind obviously occupied with more thoughts than just this one. For a second, Turok seemed to mull over something when suddenly his gaze darted towards a certain point at the cavern's wall and next he stretched his right arm, sending a bolt of black magic to meet with the stone. Through the newly formed hole the strangely warm light entered the cave anew and as the moon's silhouette slowly crept to fill the emptiness he had created, his daughter saw with satisfaction how the crystal came to life again. Kneeling down right in front of it, she let her hand hover above the glimmering surface, her golden bangles clinking softly as she did so.
She could feel the power return to the stone, just like she could feel its source fill the air. Once more would she use it to unite her magic with her father's and once more would they attack the only beast that was left to protect this world. But this time, she was sure, she would not fail. And as Turok settled down next to her, she looked up into her father's eyes only to find them mirroring her own confident smile.
Sinbad drew a deep breath as slowly he made his way towards the sacred chamber where he knew his friends were already waiting for him. His steps echoed faintly in the vast hall that he passed, his gaze wandering around aimlessly as he tried to avoid the curious looks of the younger priests who lined the galleries in silence.
Each of them was attired in a crimson cloak - much like the one Malik had worn earlier this day. The prayers had not yet begun as they waited for the other priest to join and lead them in their task. Sinbad stifled a groan as he felt them watch him, grateful that the darkness hid most of their faces under its veil.
He had spent the last hour by himself, had thought about the words the high-priestess had bestowed upon him and about the truth which he so successfully had failed to see. He still had difficulties coming to terms with everything, but there was a certain peace he had found which lay in what Chiara had said and the same one kept him going now.
It was when he came to walk past the little rose garden which marked the centre of the hall that a rueful smile tugged at the edges of the sailor's lips. It had taken him long, too long almost, to understand. But finally he had come to see that what they had been so sure was a sign of Bryn's destiny had in fact all along been the revelation of his own.
The roses had not blossomed when the sorceress had noticed them at the market, that much he knew now, but when he had arrived at the fountain, too. He had seen it with his own eyes, yet he had refused to recognize the truth. He had surrendered to the simplicity of the solution his friends had offered; had believed in what would have been so easy for him.
He couldn't do so anymore.
Too much was at stake this night; too much he couldn't bear to risk losing. He wasn't sure whether it would truly be enough, but for once in his life the captain would do as he was told.
Sinbad, Master of the Seven Seas, was finally willing to let his heart take the lead.
It was late in the night when Maeve awoke from a dream, the remnants of the images she had just seen fading quickly as her eyes opened to the pale but strangely colourful light of a full moon.
For a second the young sorceress tried to figure out just what it was that had disturbed her in her slumber, but her mind was too foggy still to remember either the dream she had or anything else that might have been unsettling. Her chamber was quiet, the only sound coming from the mild breeze which ruffled the curtains framing the window she used to leave open – a habit that she had not abandoned although she knew that there would be no bird of prey swooping through it here.
Turning to her side, she took another moment to notice that everything in her room seemed untouched and peaceful with no change to what it had been like in the evening. Nothing appeared different, nothing but that dim red glow which her every surrounding seemed to be bathed in.
Her consciousness suddenly fighting sleep away quickly, the Celt sat up in her bed, her gaze settling on the crimson shape that hovered high above the horizon and which seemed to belong to a world so far away from the one she lived in. Taking it in, she felt a frown form on her face. She couldn't name what it was that stirred inside of her as she became aware of how the sky seemed to be illuminated by the star, but for some reason she knew that something about what she saw was meaningful, and most special.
Had she been in any other place, at any other time, she might have now become wary; might have even thought of seeking DimDim. But here, in this realm where nothing existed but the island and its two inhabitants, there was no need to be cautious. In those two years she had spent here no other soul had found the way to its shores, no other magic had penetrated the spell which kept them prisoners and thus, when she saw the crimson glimmer dance on her skin, she felt nothing but wonder and a certain kind of curiosity that for long had been missing from her heart.
Grasping for the brown leather vest which she still used to wear above her white linen blouse, Maeve gingerly got up, her eyes never leaving the bright red moon outside. While she got dressed her thoughts wandered to contemplate this that she saw and she wondered if it was something that was normal in this place, something that she just had missed on before, or whether it was a rare occasion that heralded anything to happen. Whatever it was though, the Celt came to the conclusion that nothing bad lay in what she felt and thus quietly she exited her room and headed towards the backdoor.
Leaving the little adobe behind, she passed the garden where the moonlight almost seemed to sparkle on the velvet petals of DimDim's white roses. And as she lingered for a moment, mesmerized by the creatures' beauty, she didn't notice how, from behind, the loving gaze of her master lay on her, watching her every step and sending a silent prayer to guide her well...
Malik inclined his head as Sinbad finally reached the sacred chamber.
"The high-priestess is already awaiting you", the young man spoke calmly, "as are your friends."
Then he stepped aside a little, pointing with his stick towards the door.
"I will resume my guard at the temple gates. You may enter whenever you feel the time is right."
Not seeing the necessity to voice a reply to the priest's words, Sinbad just bowed his head in gratitude, relieved for some reason that the other man granted him another moment or two to brace himself for what was to come.
Sinbad remembered quite well how Bryn had stood in the centre of the chamber earlier, her friend's gazes – his own gaze – lying on her intently as they expected her to work miracles.
While Malik set himself into motion, Sinbad exhaled sharply. He heard the quite shuffling of boots that passed the lithic temple floor and while there was not a single whisper to travel the distance he was well aware that some of the priests turned to steal one last glimpse of him. Feeling his shoulders stiffen at the thought, the sailor finally decided that he would much rather have his friends' eyes lie on him and thus he stepped forward and reached out with his hands to open the massive door. But right before their tips could even touch the wooden surface it creaked open, leaving Sinbad to flinch slightly.
For a heartbeat he stared at the entrance bewilderedly, his hands still floating in the air in front of him, before he came to notice the girl who stood opposite to the door, a knowing smile covering her delicate lips.
"I am pleased to see you, captain. Come, enter."
And with this she described half a circle with her right lower arm, inviting him in with this gesture.
Sinbad's head shook unnoticeably as once more it puzzled him just how the young one seemed to know things one would think to be hidden from her but then he remembered what she had told him earlier that night. And as he saw her at the far end of the room, next to the reliefs, the warm light of flickering flames once more enveloping her frame, he believed that what she had said had to be true.
"I hope I am not too late."
Sinbad spoke these words with a serious voice; however, he did not only aim to direct them at the high-priestess but also the priest who had positioned himself next to the girl. Lofar's eyes narrowed just a little as he understood the recourse to his earlier scolding when the sailor had been the last to join his friends before the first call. And just for a second the older man seemed tempted to say something. But as soon as Chiara's voice travelled through the chamber again, he straightened up, just for once ignoring the seafarer's words.
"What makes you think you could be too late? I promised you would be told when the time has come and so you were."
The young one seemed somewhat puzzled by Sinbad's statement and yet there was an unmistakable trace of humour in her tone that the sailor couldn't help but interpret as her having quite a fair idea of what he might have been referring to. But she seemed to know better than to comment on it any further and before the sailor even had the chance to ponder over how much she might really be aware of, the priestess turned to Lofar and nodded before she moved to cross the distance that separated her from the central pillar.
In the same instant in which the older priest received the sign, he signalled for the chamber's doors to be closed. Just like it had happened earlier that night, two of the priests who guarded it left the room in order to position themselves at the other side, making sure no one would enter during the ceremony. While the other two remained inside with their halberds firmly held in their hands, Chiara had already arrived at the centre where the holy stone rested securely in the warm light provided by the fires.
Her empty gaze lay on the stone and if one just watched her well, for a second it seemed that its crimson colour reflected in the hazy white that was the girl's eyes. Her own back straightened, the young one seemed to see something in the crystal that was only there for her to see and not for the first time it had Sinbad wonder just what the creature had truly given her when it had chosen her to be its priestess.
"Please, captain. The moon has almost reached the mark."
Her gentle voice had his thoughts dissolve momentarily and when despite how calm she sounded he became aware of the slight urge that lay in her words he nodded at her, letting the quite thuds of his boots follow as he made his way towards her.
Only out of the corners of his eyes did he thereby see his friends and family. Sinbad knew they were likely to have questions. He had avoided them ever since it had been revealed that he was the keeper, had needed the time for himself. And although he was sure that not one of them took this amiss he also was certain of that they worried about him. His friends had seen him change after Maeve had been washed overboard, and they had seen him be so close to giving in to the grief he could not voice out. They had seen her fire in his eyes and yet none of them could comprehend what it meant to him what Maeve had done. What it would set into motion.
Even he, himself, didn't know the latter.
"We're always with you, little brother."
Sinbad's head snapped upwards when he suddenly felt Doubar squeeze his shoulder lightly, a whisper accompanying the reassuring gesture. The older man's pale blue eyes sought his own before he briefly averted them downwards to where the bracelet gilded the captain's wrist.
"As will the Lass I know."
For a second Sinbad felt his brows rise in confusion, both from how obviously he had ended up pausing in his stride and from the words the other one had chosen. It seemed to him his brother knew to read what went on deep down inside of him, and that he was aware what secretly he wished for.
Fighting back a sigh, the captain moved his head in the smallest of nods, trying to express gratitude for what had been spoken. He knew that all the one man who was left of his original family wanted to do was help, and he felt his lips curve ever so slightly as he felt a certain kind of warmth flood his senses upon this thought.
Doubar had always been so much more than just a brother to him and even though the other man would just be an observer now his support and confidence – not only in his captain but also the young redhead who they all missed so dearly – meant more to him than he would have expected. And what was most remarkable about it was that, as he let his gaze stray to his friends who stood right next to the first mate, he could see the same kind of belief and trust in their eyes as well. Indeed it seemed none of them held even the shadow of a doubt and briefly Sinbad wondered whether their confidence was founded solely in him, or rather the Celt who had never really been absent from their lives. Deciding however that the answer to this unspoken question didn't matter he finally released a long and even breath before he broke the eye-contact he had with his friends and closed the gap on Chiara.
The young blonde looked up when eventually Sinbad reached the column, her blind eyes settling on his form instantly.
"The time has come, good Captain."
Her features were tense, her face now half-hidden in the shadows the fires behind them cast on her. Without taking her gaze off him she raised her right hand and as in that very instant the magical red light broke through the second Northern mark, she uttered:
"The time for blue flames to blaze!"
A/N: So that's part one. I have already started working on part two and am actually rather excited about it. I have been waiting to write that part and the following chapter (which would be number 15) for years (literally!) so now I'm rather looking forward to finally bringing my ideas down on 'paper'. Also I should have the next weekend off which might do for a great opportunity to sit down and write as much as I want. Thus, hopefully, the next instalment won't take me as long again! ;)
As always feedback is very much appreciated and guest review is enabled. =)