The Faerie Blade: Chapter 21

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Chapter 21: Kaelyn in the Catacombs

Kaelyn was just trying to fill her belly, but she got a lot more than she bargained for when she decided to save the life of a Faerie.

 

“The sister of spirit and steel,” I gasped; the words so quiet that it seemed Vesha had not heard them, even in the current eerie silence of the catacombs.

 


 
Author's Note: Here's chapter 21 of The Faerie Blade. Sorry, this chapter should have been posted on Sunday, but life got in the way and yesterday I kept getting backend fetch fails when I tried to access the site. No chapter of FoN this week either because I've been having issues focusing and just muse problems in general the past week. ~Amethyst.
 


 Chapter 21: Kaelyn in the Catacombs

Vesha saw me staring at the black scales and frowned as she attempted to get me to focus on something else. “What is that mark on your hand, Kaelyn? The spirit mentioned a gift.”

I glanced at the odd-looking golden glyph on the back of my left hand, but I had no idea what it might be. Sharai’s mental voice sounded very tired as she offered, -It is a binding glyph, though I have not seen such a thing since I was in Tarin’dol.-

Sharai went on to explain that they were far more common during the war with the Demons, but that some noble families still used them today. Nobles of high station would use them to bind an enchanted object to themselves, or several, since more enchantments could be bound once the mark was imbued in their flesh. The imbuing process was expensive though and only the upper echelon of Fae nobility could usually afford it. The marks could be passed down to a chosen heir when one was dying though, so there were some binding glyphs that had been passed down through families since the war. Any enchanted objects bound to the glyph would then be passed on to the heir as well.

-In your case, Kaelyn, I would assume that her armor was bound to the glyph; moonsilver armor is expensive, even for high nobles, and she would have wanted to ensure that it could not be stolen or fall into the wrong hands. In armor from the war, it was often enchanted so that it could be summoned when needed, to reduce its weight, to magically repair any damage to it, and to keep itself in pristine condition. I would assume, given its condition, that this set of armor has such enchantments,- the Faerie spirit concluded.

“The dark defender bears the key to your safe passage,” I muttered, quoting Tanna’s prophecy. I quickly explained it to Vesha and we both stared at the armor that was laying on the ground. Still, in that brief silence, I found my eyes drawn back to the blackening scales on Vesha’s arm. “What is happening to her?” I asked Sharai in concern.

Sharai wearily explained, -She was stabbed with a weapon made from concentrated tainted mana and I believe that it is corrupting her from within. She is becoming Tainted. It is happening slowly, but being so close to the dark zone is probably not helping her, Kaelyn.-

My heart skipped a beat. “No! She cannot… Surely, there must be something we can do. It... it has not progressed far, perhaps we could use faery fire to purify her?”

-Kaelyn,- my spirit guide gently but tiredly prodded, -I have never seen this happen before, it is possible that trying to purify her could do more harm than good. She could lose her arm, or it could kill her. Remember, Tanna said that the eternal flame would hold Vesha’s answers, and her salvation. The shade also indicated that she should hurry to the chamber of fire. If we are going to save her, this is probably the best chance that we have. Now quickly, we must make our way into the catacombs. We all require rest, and we should not do so in the open here on the surface, lest more Darklings be drawn to our presence.-

“Aye, let us go,” I agreed with a sigh before tearing my gaze away from Vesha’s arm and glancing at the armor once more. “How do I summon it, Sharai?” I asked, glad that the former owner was a Faerie so the armor would have openings for my wings.

-Focus on the mark, and through it call to the armor. Envision it protecting you.- I closed my eyes and thought about the golden glyph on my left hand, pictured myself wearing it, A moment later, I felt a faint pulse of magic in both the glyph and the armor and felt a weight settle upon me.

It was lighter than I thought it would be, but I guess that was not surprising with the enchantments that Sharai had mentioned. It was certainly more comfortable than I had been expecting as well, padded in several places to dull the strength of blows and some that seemed to support my breasts as well as protect my chest. The cuirass was tight in a few places, but there were straps to adjust that and at least it wouldn’t fall off. It felt like I was wearing star-spider silk rather than armor, though I later discovered that I was since there were simple garments of the fabric underneath the armor that Sharai thought were meant to prevent chafing and discomfort.

That was when I realized that those garments had replaced my own, save for the moonskin that I could still feel covering my nethers. There was even a pair of soft-soled boots beneath the greaves and sabatons. The Woodwarden clothes that I had been wearing before, for ease of movement, were now haphazardly piled where the armor had lain but a moment earlier. Vesha looked from my clothes to the armor that I was now wearing, and I could have sworn that her cheeks flushed.

Sharai, meanwhile, was muttering. -We shall have to find an enchanter to see if your sword belt and Neva’kul’s sheath can be added to the summoning enchantment. Being separated from your weapon and me in an emergency would be a problem.-

I gave her a mental nod in response and quickly belted Neva’kul back in place over the armor before adding my cloak as well. Then, after hurriedly packing the remainder of my clothes in my traveling satchel with the food and supplies that were already inside, I turned to Vesha and said, “Let us go, we should find a place in the catacombs to rest for the night, preferably further away from the dark zone.”

~o~O~o~

I was bone weary by the time we finally found a place in the catacombs where we felt it would be safe to rest for the night. It was a maze of long-forgotten graves, and we were forced to battle nearly a dozen Tainted before I could no longer sense their dark mana nearby. They were monstrous creatures that had once been rats, insects, and various burrowing animals, but between Vesha’s strength and flames, my faerie fires, and Neva’kul, they were easily disposed of. My new armor had likely saved my life several times already and I was getting valuable experience in using Neva’kul in actual combat.

Once we had ensured that the crypt that we had decided to sleep in for the night was as secure as we could make it, we ate a portion of the food that we had brought and then were swiftly claimed by slumber. I was the first of us to wake, though that was unsurprising since Fae generally need less sleep than most other Races. I allowed her to rest until she awoke, while I watched her in concern. Most of the scales on her upper arm were black now and the flesh that they did not cover was an unhealthy gray.

When Vesha awoke, we shared a meal of travel bread, some dried meat, and watered-down wine in silence before continuing onward. As we walked and attempted to navigate the maze of tunnels while avoiding Tainted, I often cast worried looks toward the Dragonkin beside me and the blackening scales on her arm. She had been trying to hide it, but I could tell that the darkness that was trying to claim her was causing her a good deal of pain and that only worried me more.

I was considering calling a brief rest when something diverted my attention from my concern over my companion. I could feel something, an unfamiliar pulling sensation that emanated from somewhere ahead of us. I stopped in my tracks, and I scarcely noticed when Vesha stopped several paces ahead and turned around to ask in concern, “Are you okay, Kaelyn?”

Sharai, whose mind had been slumbering within Neva’kul since we found our shelter the night before, was suddenly very awake. -This feeling… one of the other Vos’oraik lies ahead.-

“The sister of spirit and steel,” I gasped; the words so quiet that it seemed Vesha had not heard them, even in the current eerie silence of the catacombs.

The Dragonkin regarded me with a worried expression. “Is everything okay? Are you sensing more Tainted?”

I shook my head in response before I managed to find the words. “One of the other Vos’oraik is down here, somewhere ahead of us. I believe that is what I am here to find.”

“Wait, so there is someone down here with one of the other four magic swords like yours?”

-I do not know,- Sharai thought in answer to Vesha’s query. -It has not moved while we have been standing here, though it is possible that the bearer is simply resting and waiting for us to come to them. The Vos’oraik are not all like Neva’kul though. Each weapon was forged with the gift and combat style of its chosen wielder in mind. Neva’kul is no mere sword either. It is a mageblade.-

We began navigating the tunnels once more as my spirit guide explained in further detail what had been passed down from her predecessors about the Vos’oraik, and I attempted to summarize for Vesha. Joarra, the first bearer of Neva’kul, was both a fine swordswoman and a competent mage, and her gift allowed her to concentrate the mana around her into the blade of her sword and release it in a blast of destructive magical energy along the path of the swing or thrust of her blade, earning her the title ‘Joarra the Cataclysm’. When the Elven sage Darion forged Neva’kul for her, he created a Faerie-styled blade that would also allow her to not only channel her spells through it, but to amplify them as well.

The other Vos’oraik were similarly well suited to play to the strengths of their intended wielders. Niyr’votak was a wand made for Darion’s own son and apprentice, Cerric. He was a potent mage in his own right and he possessed the most powerful healing gift known among the Fae during the war, so the wand was meant to both channel and amplify his magic as well. Mek’simna was a massive cudgel forged for the Spriggan warrior, Torl, whose gift could increase his strength twentyfold. The fourth was called Fal’hevar, and it was forged for a Changeling swordswoman known as Alara the Unbloodied, due to her gift to make her skin as hard as steel.

The final Vos’oraik was a scythe named Quo’zarin, forged for a Pixie named Cecily. Despite her tiny size, she was a fierce fighter and possessed a gift that allowed her to command the wind itself. It was said that if she wished it, she could batter her opponents with the force of a hurricane while her scythe unerringly sought their weak points.

I wondered which one we would encounter as I followed the pull of the other weapon through the catacombs. Thankfully, I was sensing fewer Tainted as we got further from the dark zone, and it was mostly an easy matter to avoid them. Still, I worried for Vesha. By the time that we had stopped to eat a light meal and rest for a few minutes, the darkness had claimed almost her entire left arm and she was no longer able to hide the discomfort that it was causing her.

We needed to hurry. I would have gladly given up the chance to find Neva’kul’s sister weapon and succeed in my trial if only we had some idea where this chamber of fire was, but we had no idea other than it was somewhere within the catacombs. The only course of action that we had was to continue toward the other Vos’oraik and hope that we would find some clues about the chamber of fire as we did.

Not long after we ate our meal, I found myself staring at the tunnel before me in a mix of frustration and concern. Unlike the catacombs that we had been exploring thus far, this tunnel seemed to be a natural formation with a downward slope and lacked the semi-open burial chambers and occasional crypt doors that lined the walls of the catacombs we had explored until now. I could also feel a source of mana down there, something that I could not identify. It did not feel dark or evil, closer to chaotic if I had to put a word to it, and it was far more potent than anything I had encountered before. It felt even more potent than the dark zone.

“Are you certain that is the only way?” Vesha asked, gritting her teeth from the pain in her arm. Seeing her in such pain was like a knife to my heart. She was usually so confident and powerful, but right then I just wanted to be able to comfort her and assure her that we would find what we needed to purge the darkness. I could not though. I had no idea how much time we had before sunset while underground, and even less whether Vesha would last that long if we did not find what we were looking for.

“Aye,” I told her sadly. “We already checked the closest branches of these tunnels. They all double back or take us in directions away from the Vos’oraik. It is down there, I am certain of it, and so far, all we have seen up here are crypts, nothing that even gives us a clue where the chamber of fire or an eternal flame could be unless it is the source of this mana that I am sensing.”

“I guess it is the only lead that we have so far,” she agreed. “Time may very well be running short as well, so we had best hurry.”

I nodded, took a deep breath to steel myself for the unknown, and then gripped Vesha’s good hand in mine as tightly as I could. We were in this together and I would not give up until we found this eternal flame that Tanna had said would be Vesha’s salvation. “Let us go then,” I agreed, squeezing her hand in mine.

The slope of the tunnel was steep, it curved and twisted constantly, but it did not branch off at any point, so at least we did not have to choose between paths. It also began to feel ever warmer until finally, the tunnel opened up into a massive cavern. Before us lay the ruins of an underground city, or perhaps more like a small town, not as grand and vast as the one on the surface above us, but it looked equally ancient and better preserved. I could feel that we were close now, somewhere inside those ruins, one of the Vos’oraik awaited.

The thought of retrieving the proof of my adulthood was secondary for now though, because Vesha’s salvation was in sight. There were no signs of life that I could discern with my senses, but the vast chamber was almost uncomfortably warm for me, and the ruins were bathed in ruddy light by a pillar of flame at their center that reached to the ceiling of the cavern. It was the source of the chaotic mana that I was sensing, and I knew that it could only be one thing. We had found the eternal flame.

© 2022 - 2024 Amethyst Gibbs
All Rights Reserved

Further chapters are available to the public on my Patreon page.

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Comments

cool chapter hon!

they found the eternal flame, but how can it help Vesha, and are they in time ?

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Thanks, Dot

Amethyst's picture

Things are looking grim for Vesha, but hopefully they'll get her there before she becomes fully Tainted.

*big hugs*

Amethyst

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Don't take me too seriously. I'm just kitten around. :3

Maybe

The enchanted item in connection to the flame will allow her to burn the corruption from the infected arm safely. It's great to win through to all the puzzle pieces, but you still have to figure out how to use them.

yup

Amethyst's picture

There were clues in the prophesy, they just have to think things through.

*big hugs*

Amethyst

ChibiMaker1.jpg

Don't take me too seriously. I'm just kitten around. :3

Safety, Healing, Powers

BarbieLee's picture

The extra weapons and powers will be needed and helpful to avenge the world against the dark mana. Provided she learns how to use everything she is receiving before she is killed or her friend is consumed.
Hugs Amethyst, nice cliff hanger in this chapter
Barb
Life is a gift meant to be lived, not worn until it's worn out.

Oklahoma born and raised cowgirl

Thanks, Barb

Amethyst's picture

Yup, she has the tools, but she'll need to live to make use of them. If she and Vesha live through this it will be a major step toward taking the fight to the Demons.

*big hugs*

Amethyst

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Don't take me too seriously. I'm just kitten around. :3

Could it be

A dragon kin will become the next sword bearer?

Anything is possible

Amethyst's picture

Or is there a bearer already and they're hiding out for some reason?

*big hugs*

Amethyst

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Don't take me too seriously. I'm just kitten around. :3

Faerie Blade

The series started a bit slow but it has steadily ramped up its appeal to me.

I hope the series is a real long one as it would be interesting to look into the intent of the 'opposition' once things really heat up and this band of Travellers may have to make a stand.

Thanks Kimmie

Amethyst's picture

This story was a bit of a departure for me in style and I wanted to do a slow buildup. As for the length, it is up to chapter 34 and over 100K words already on Patreon and still going strong. This is looking to be a long one.

*big hugs*

Amethyst

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Don't take me too seriously. I'm just kitten around. :3