Lights shine the way
He was able to subdue the water, it was slowing off anyway as he uncorked the little vial and let the rays of sunshine beams out into the tunnel. The water evaporated in an instant, the light’s rays almost making the water disappear before his eyes. Such power, he thought to himself as he then sped on through the tunnel, sploshing in the occasional puddle that remained on the muddy floor.
He passed a broken box, the remains wedged into the side where a little alcove cut into the walls. A hand buried partially into the sides of the wall which looked soft and wet from the water. The magic seemingly nearly gone from the body, he wondered why it had not lasted. Still, no matter. He rushed on through, knowing the tunnel system well, weaving and slithering down the tunnels; back to where he had left the woman and the boy.
He suddenly came to a fork in the tunnel, which was not a part of his memory. It looked as if the water had burst through from another section, a ghostly side of the tunnel system that he was unaware of. He poked his head around the side, looking deep into the darkness. The light from this vial, which he’d bottled back up, cast a glow and a line which he directed downwards, the tunnel sloping slightly. He thought he heard something. He held his breath and listened. There! That sound, what was it. Singing, someone was singing down here. The lady of the jars, what did she, or any of them have to sing about?
For some reason, this angered the gentleman of the boxes further, as if in the face of all his plans that endeavoured to betray and harm them, they had a cause to sing.
The song grew steadily, echoing now around the hollowed-out tunnel. It sounded choral, enchanting. As if little fairies were whispering delicately into his ears. He shook his head, trying to think straight. But the sound grew stronger, and he was suddenly aware of how tired he was. His eyes now becoming heavy. He looked down the tunnel and saw a little blue light weaving and bopping up towards him. It was like a blue candle as it swayed his way, lulling him along with the ethereal voice of song.
Before he knew it a blue mist was swirling all around him, little hands seemed to be stroking his head, his back and arms. Comforting, calming. The touch of another that he’d not had in so long. He closed his eyes for but a moment, allowing the soothing state to take over. But then he snapped back, his mind present in the now and assessing what was happening. But he couldn’t move, his arms were glued to his side, his eyes couldn’t even scan around him; stuck looking forward as he saw the girl explode forth from the candle like a dam breaking.
He tried to speak but found he could not. He was at the mercy of her now, the girl from Europa; the one he wished to consume and then destroy. She looked at him, her sapphire eyes gleaming in the glow from all around. His muddy eyes glowed back, an anger rising in him much more potent than he’d care to admit. For the gentleman of the boxes no longer knew where he and the magic ended and began. Indeed, the cells of his body were encased now in the darkness which had corrupted like a cancer. She sensed it, she felt it now as she hovered her hand above his heart. The oil inside, dripping and sludging through his soul. He tried to shut his eyes, but it only made them shake and puff out of his head slightly, as if he was holding his breath.
She leant forward and placed her finger on his forehead, and his world turned inside out.
They both breathed in the cold night air as they burst out of the ground. Ezra and the lady of the jars found themselves surrounded by mounds of snow many feet deep at the base of the huge trees of this part of the forest. They also found themselves at the feet of a man that they thought, for a moment, was the gentleman of the boxes.
“Are you alright?” Malthrop asked kindly, extending a hand and pulling them both to their feet.
“We are now, to be out of that damn warren.” Ezra said, dusting off his clothes of the soil that had smeared in their ascent.
“Thank you, yes.” The lady of the jars said, rightening and taking in the sight of the new soul before them. “A pair we must look like”. She added, knowing they both must look like they had been through quite an ordeal, and indeed they had.
“It’s late to be out, do you mind if I ask if you know anything about the light.” Malthrop asked, smiling with his eyes, letting them know he was of no danger.
“And who are you when it it’s at home?” Ezra said, rather curtly.
“Ezra, manners.” The lady quickly added. Malthrop shook his head apologetically.
“Oh, I’m terribly sorry. My name is Malthrop, I live not far from here. I noticed the strange light from the Mondol stone.” He said, pointing off over through the trees. Just as he said this, Tanker came bounding over the nearest drift of snow and tumbled down to their feet, woofing and hollering. He sneezed where he landed, the snow fluffing off into the night air and then he turned his attention to Ezra, jumping up at him and barking, a friendly bark.
“Tanker, down. Get down.” Malthrop said, starting forth to pull the dog away.
“He’s fine, as long as he’s friendly.” Ezra replied, lowering down to calm the dog, petting his cold fur.
“The Mondol stone you say, is it alive, shining?” The lady asked, excitedly.
“Indeed, it is. Well, it was when I set out. But just as we came across that bank there.” The man said, pointing behind him. “Another light burst up into the sky. Green this time.” He finished. Tanker skirted to his feet now, circling the man before going up to the woman and sniffing her clothes. She stroked his head, soothingly.
“Wonderful. Just wonderful.” The lady said, smiling to herself.
“So, you know what this is all about then? Are you a witch too?” The man asked, though no alarm rippled through his voice.
“Well, I’ve been called that before, but I assure you I’m on the good guy’s side.” She replied.
“Then there’s a bad side?” The man asked.
“There definitely is. And he’s a right old bastard I can assure you!” Ezra added indignantly.
“Ezra, language.” The lady said. “Though I admit, he’s been quite the pebble in our shoe I must say. The gentleman of the boxes.”
“He is no gentleman. What kind of gentlemen goes around trying to kill people!” Ezra cut back.
“He dangerous then?” Malthrop asked, concerned.
“You got that right bud, and he’s about in this forest doing deeds and wanting to make things pretty miserable for everyone around here.” Ezra said.
“I see.” The man said, taking in this new information. He looked up through the trees to where the lights were beaming up from the stones. “And the stones are a part of this? I usually avoid the area, but they seemed to call to me tonight.” He added.
“They are ancient and knowing, they speak to the deeper souls. Though who know love and loss, right and wrong. I sense your heart is recently heavy, I can see it in your eyes.” The lady said. The man was silent.
“Well, we best go and see what all the fuss with the stones are about then, if you think this is the answer to all of this. Would be nice to have a rest and let things be for a while.” Ezra said, rubbing Tanker’s back.
“Come, let us go through together. Safety in numbers, these woods have been pretty dangerous as late.” Malthrop said.
“Dimian.” The lady replied.
“If you say so.” The man said, smiling at her, helping her up the bank of snow that led deeper into the trees.
The boxes and the bones washed their way out of the tunnels and into the clearing, smashing over one another and the stray rocks that strew the area. The slosh of water and snow made for a freezing scene, the blue and green light emanating from the Mondol stones made it look like a giant lake, glittering in an atmospheric hue. As the water flow finally ceased, it seeped away back into the soil, staining the ground with it’s rush of recent travel.
It was down in the ground where the Dimian were still trapped, encased in the power of the gentleman of the boxes. They twitched and murmured, thronged and ached to be free. Suddenly, like a spark of light, freedom overwhelmed them. Their invisible chains were cast aside, and they exploded in movement, their minds frothing and hungry for the power they could feel all around them and could now devour.
Pearl learnt it all then, his memories and thoughts rushed inside her like icy water. She saw and felt the pain, the disconnection, the hatred. Yet deeper, longer back she saw a love, a lighter energy that had never been extinguished, but merely buried in an inner box. He felt no pain as she walked through his life in her mind. Instead, it was as if a boil in him had been lanced, gushing forth all the toxicity.
She looked into his eyes, and she saw humanity. She saw a love for another that had followed her from one planet in the solar system, to another. The eyes that looked back were no different from the eyes of her family on Europa. The light that shone there was made from the same cosmic dust that illuminated those souls on her home planet. The same light, just in a different vessel.
She moved her hand down to his chest and felt his heart beating. Spasmodically thumping in fear and uncertainty. She knew he felt remorse, but there was something else there, something hiding in the dark shadows of his soul. She searched, sending her vibrations through him like sonic waves. It was there, lurking. Something that didn’t want to be found. She pushed on, desperate to find it, her hand feeling the way over his heart. There, a flash of crimson. She nearly got it, her mind hurrying now past trauma and loneliness.
Her eyes flew open, and she gasped.
It was as if it had bit her, little teeth snapping at her soul. She let go of him and he shook his head, shaking off her aura that had swelled around him like a fine mist.
“What, what are you doing?” He coughed up, dry and hoarse. When had he even spoken last?
The girl looked at him, assessing him still.
“It’s too late, it’s all too late.” He said and hung his head.
“Then you need to put it right.” She said, turning her back to him and stepping forward into the tunnel. Like a rope pulling him, he was tugged forward and with a blink of an eye they were suddenly rushing out through the tunnel, the walls blurring as they sped past in the blue stream of light.
“Look, there.” Malthrop said, coming out of the clearing.
They had seen the lights of course, two beams pulsating upwards into the cold night’s sky. But now, coming to the clearing, they could see the Mondol stones, both of them at once. The original stone stood where it always had, cast down from the skies like the mythical peach pit discarded. The other sat across from it, on the other side of the clearing, about twenty strides apart. It’s green light too pulsed up into the sky. It had been forced up out of the ground, as they had seen, now stuck in the open as if it had been there for years.
“They look exactly the same.” Ezra said, as he flicked some snow off his shoulder which had fallen from the nearby tree.
“Perfectly the same.” The lady said, smiling.
“You know about all this then?” Malthrop asked, they all were entranced by the lights given off by the stones.
“A little, that I hope helps.” The lady said, casting her eyes around the clearing. Her smile evaporating.
“Look at all that.” Ezra said suddenly, referring to the boxes and bodies which they could now make out on the floor of the clearing.
“Are those bodies?” Malthrop asked, stepping forward.
“Yes, they are.” The lady said. She had not moved, the wind catching a tear that had crept at the side of her eye. She watched for a moment, as Ezra and Malthrop stepped forth, out of the woods and towards one of the nearest broken boxes. The sound from the Mondol stones echoed around them, like a crackling fire, the light splattering disconnectedly around the scene.
“Who are all these people, all these things?” Malthrop asked, coming across the body of a badger. The fur had been sheared off in places, and a strange little wooden frame had been placed through the skin, forcing its arms and legs outward, it’s eyes swirling with a strange dull red light.
“Don’t touch them, not yet.” The lady said, coming over to him. She knelt down, looking at the creature. “The magic is faint, but still there slightly.” She shook her head.
“People, I can’t believe he did it to people.” Ezra said, standing near to them over a mangled body face down in the grass. “Building some unnatural army!”
“We need to set all this right.” The lady said, standing now and looking towards the stones. “We need Pearl.” She said. “If we all spread out…..” The lady stopped. Malthrop had moved away from her, towards another body which stuck up awkwardly from the ground. The box it was in had crumbled around it but was still intact slightly, the body lulled half out of it like a tongue out of a mouth.
“Malthrop….” The lady said, a sudden realisation coming over her as she saw the scene. “Oh, no.” She said, her heart sinking.
Malthrop bent down and picked the body up into his arms, a sob extended out quietly where they were, but spread quickly and painfully around the clearing, like a pebble dropped into an agonising lake.
It was sudden and explosive, two lights very different from each other tracking silently in the woods suddenly flared on either side of the clearing. The blue misty glow on one side, and the greeny red bubbling on the other. As if it had been planned by some twist of fate, each burst through the trees together, showering those within the clearing with confrontation.