Glyph’s eyes popped open, and he let out a long rumbling groan. Ishea was once again moving her hands over his leg where the bullet had ripped through his thigh muscle, and a servant was holding his leg straight and immobile as she worked.
Ishea let out a long sigh when she noticed him conscious again. “Oh, Glyph.” She said and shook her head. “What was it this time? What type of weapon can make such a clean entrance wound? Was it some type of spear?” She questioned him as she finished her ministrations.
Glyph just stared at her. “A gun.” He said and paused, catching the strange look on her face. “You don’t know what that is, do you?”
“I am sorry, I do not.”
“It’s a device that can shoot a piece of metal into your body over a long distance.” Glyph tried to explain.
“Like an arrow?” She questioned.
Glyph nodded. “Only about ten times faster, and the metal flattens on impact so that it can cause the most damage. It’s also much more accurate.”
Ishea looked appalled. “Did the necklace go with you?” she asked as she packed away a small bag of herbs and potions.
“I’m afraid not,” he said, unconsciously touching the rock. Ishea appeared upset, but said nothing.
Sitting up, Glyph swung his legs over the cot and stood up, immediately regretting his decision as long throbbing pains swept through his left leg.
“No, no.” Ishea called out and helped ease him back into a sitting position. “Your leg, especially the left one, has taken a great deal of abuse in the last two days. Even my healing powers cannot work if you continue to sustain these injuries. You need a complete recovery, several weeks of bed rest at least, and, and…” Ishea stopped short. Her hands fell atop her bag of healing herbs, her eyes teared up and she turned away from him.
“It’s not like I have any control over this, you know.” Glyph stated.
“I know, I did not mean it in that way. It is just that I am frustrated that I cannot do more to help you. I fear that Drathus will succeed in having you killed, and I will not be able to stop it from happening.” She said and sniffed.
“At least you give me a fighting chance. If it weren’t for you I’d have returned to a body riddled with dog bites. I’d have bled to death.” Glyph told her.
Ishea wiped a tear from her cheek, smiled slightly and gave a curt laugh. “Ironic, I think. If Simeon knew that the alteration he made to the curse to allow your physical wounds to transfer actually helped me to save your life…well, I do not believe it would be very happy, if demons are even capable of such an emotion.”
Glyph didn’t know how to respond so he sat there silently.
“Anyway.” Ishea suddenly proclaimed, moving to the other side of the tent. “I have arranged for you to be carried by wagon. I believe riding a horse is out of the question at this time.”
Glyph nodded his agreement. He sat and watched the tent being emptied by porters, until they finally carried him out to a covered wagon as soldiers struck the tent and began packing it away.
The wagon was comfortable enough; there were pillows for cushions, and flaps that could be opened for light or for fresh air. Glyph situated himself as Ishea climbed in after him. The wagon lurched forward into a steady even roll. Glyph wondered why Ishea chose to ride with him instead of on her own horse, but was glad for the company.
“I would like you to try something, Glyph.” Ishea said, breaking the silence.
“Sure, what do you got?” asked Glyph.
Ishea pulled a small round ball out of her pocket. “It is more of a game. Here, try to sit up.” she said, offering her hand to Glyph.
Glyph grabbed her hand and pulled himself up into a sitting position. The pain in his leg was starting to subside.
“Alright. Now, I am going to hold the ball here in front of me,” Ishea explained to him, while she extended her arm, with the ball stationed on the palm of her hand. “I want you to close your eyes, and tell me everything about the ball.”
Glyph did as he was instructed, and described the color and shape of the ball.
“Now I want you to concentrate on the position of the ball on my hand. Keep your eyes closed. Do you see it with your mind?” She asked.
“Yes.” Glyph replied.
“Good, now I want you to imagine that your mind is surrounding the ball.”
Glyph turned his head slightly. “I’m not sure what you mean.”
“Imagine that the air and currents around the ball are projecting from your mind; because they are from your mind, you can control them.”
“Okay I think I got that, now what?” Glyph asked.
“Look at the ball in your mind, and open your eyes.”
Glyph opened his eyes to see the ball suspended in the air in front of him. He glanced at Ishea, and back to the ball. “I’m doing that.” He said, making the ball spin in place. He moved the ball toward his open hand and plucked it from the air. Glyph’s right eyebrow rose as he examined the ball closely.
Ishea was grinning as wide as a river, and a tear rolled down her cheek. “Yes Glyph, yes, and you have extraordinary talent.” She wiped off the tear and chuckled. “It took me several months to do that.”
“What else can I do?” Glyph asked curiously.
“Anything you want. The power is in you. Your only limitation is dependent upon your physical stamina and the limit of your imagination.” Ishea spoke as if reciting from a manual.
“So I can create things too?”
“Yes, just keep in mind that you must take responsibility for anything you create. The larger your creation, the harder it will be to give it substance. Anything complex will take some study to master, and will also be harder to create.” Ishea told him.
Glyph had closed his eyes again, and was concentrating very hard. Ishea looked at him and wondered. Glyph reached out his hand and there appeared a beautiful white lily.
“For you, My Lady.” Glyph said as he handed the flower to Ishea.
“Thank you, Sire.” she said as she shook the shocked expression from her face and took the flower from Glyph. They both laughed again. “Very well done.” Ishea smelled the flower. “You only forgot one thing.” She said, smiling at Glyph again.
“There is no smell.” She said, extending the flower for Glyph to smell.
“Your right, I guess it is a bit hard to create things.”
They laughed again, and spent the rest of the morning practicing until the wagon began to slow finally coming to a stop. Toban stuck his head in and informed them it was time to eat.
“Excellent. I’d like to have that tapestry hung in my tent. I want to take another look at it.” Glyph said.
Toban nodded and left. Glyph moved to the back of the wagon with Ishea’s help and then scooted on his backside to the edge for the short hop to the ground. The king’s dining tent was almost erected as Glyph and Ishea made their way the short distance to it. Glyph couldn’t help but think of his new-found power, and its implications. On one hand, he couldn’t wait to try doing something else, and on the other wondered if he should indulge in this fantasy, that could end at any moment. They waited politely for the porters to finish tying the lashings of the canvas to the tent’s wooden framework before they entered. A table and chairs were brought in along with the Tapestry, which was quickly hung in the back of the tent. Glyph stared at it in amazement. The scene had changed again, this time quite drastically.
The old view was gone. In its place was a view of a mountain pass. The armies of men were on the high ground laying in wait for the forces of evil. The Demon leader stood in the middle of the pass nose to nose with the leader of men. Both appeared to be fighting. Glyph took note of the pass and the placement of the armies, and realized it was a depiction of his plan.
“You must be Drathus.” Glyph thought, looking at the Demon Lord. He was dressed in a black metallic armor that looked more like stone, and a brilliant hot plume of fire shot out of the top of his crown-like helmet. Thick coils of black smoke billowed near the top of the flames. Glyph’s eye was drawn back to the flames, and he moved in closer to inspect them.
“It’s moving! I can see the yellow and orange threads moving to make the fire.” Glyph almost yelled.
“Flame is constantly animated; for the Tapestry to show you a scene it merely slows time to an instant. Flame can change in the course of an instant.” Ishea commented as she walked over to the table. Servants were now bringing in plates of food.
Glyph couldn’t tear himself away from studying the Tapestry. He even took to viewing it from different angles to make sure he wasn’t missing something.
“Glyph, you should eat something. Your health is not perfect just because you feel better.” Ishea said from the table.
Satisfied, he turned away and went to join her. He sat down rather solemnly, and began to eat. There were two things he didn’t like about the scene. The first was that Drathus and he were the only two who were fighting; the second was that there was no sign of King Rokka and his men.
“Well?” Ishea finally asked. “What does it look like?”
“Hmm. Oh, it’s a view of The Pass. The armies are fighting. It looks like a pretty even fight.” Glyph casually tried to answer. He wasn’t sure why, but he liked knowing something she didn’t for once. Before she had a chance to ask to see his mind again, Glyph changed the subject.
“We should contact Rokka; I want to make sure he understands our situation.”
“It is the polite thing to do.” Ishea said.
Glyph shot her a look, and went back to his eating. As soon as the table had been cleared, Ishea brought out the Divinare crystal and placed it on the table.
“You have seen the map. You have a pretty good idea King Rokka would be in Deltur. This time I want you to find him.” Ishea instructed.
“But I don’t know how to do that.” Glyph said, putting his hands next to the crystal.
“It is rather simple once you know how. First you picture the map, then you concentrate on Deltura, and then on Deltur. As you picture the city, look at the larger buildings. If one of these is a palace or a fortress, then concentrate on that. As the building gets larger you will start to see people; find the one that looks like a king and concentrate on him. If he is the right man, you will appear to him; if not you will be pushed back to the view of the building. To come all the way back, pull your hands from the crystal.” Ishea stared at him blankly. “Did you get that?” she asked, smirking.
“Yeah, I got it.” Glyph replied, wondering what she was about to get him involved in. Glyph placed his hands on the crystal and did as Ishea said. After six cases of mistaken identity, he found himself in a great hall with King Rokka sitting on a throne about twenty feet in front of him. There were several other people there, obviously awaiting an audience with the King. Glyph walked a few feet towards Rokka and bowed; all eyes were on his glowing form.
“I am King Glyph, Your Majesty. I apologize for the intrusion, but I must speak with you.”
“I received your message this morning. I was beginning to think you quite mad, now this.” Rokka said, staring at the aura surrounding Glyph. “I have done as you requested. A great many of my ancestors perished at Drathus’s hand during the first war. I am certain I should return the favor.”
“I’m so glad you’ve decided to join us. Kahula, Lukret, and I are going to meet tomorrow at Muret. We plan on discussing the coming attack. I will keep you informed of the details personally.” Glyph said
“I would love to meet with you, King Glyph, but it would appear I have much work to do. Our ships are fast, but we have never mounted such a large attack force to sea before. I estimate a day to sail to Degruthra, and another two or three to reach the pass, if we can get to it. There is no known map of the wastelands, nor do we know anything about their defenses, if they even have any.”
“I understand your position, and there are still details to work out as we go, but there is one thing I’m sure of; Drathus won’t be prepared to handle an attack on both fronts. You and your men will give us the edge we need, even if you don’t make it through their defenses in time to join us.”
“I still believe you may yet be mad, King Glyph, but we are prepared to sail into the jaws of hell anyway.” Rokka jested. “We should have all of our ships loaded, and in the water by tomorrow. Check in again in the morning and I will give you an update.”
“I will do that King Rokka, and thank you for your support.” Glyph said, bowing slightly.
“Thank me when we meet over Drathus’s dead body.” Rokka replied, laughing.
With that, Glyph pulled his hands away from the crystal and the flash faded from his eyes. He glanced at Ishea, who was sitting and smiling.
“Outstanding, Glyph!” she said in awe. “You are truly adept.”
“Thanks. It did take several tries.” Glyph said humbly.
“Do not underestimate yourself, you have shown incredible promise.”
The flap of the tent pulled to one side and Toban entered.
“Excuse the interruption; we have just received a message from Priam.” Toban reported.
“What is it, Toban?” Glyph asked curiously.
“It is from Verto, High Priest of Priam.” Toban said, as he read the label on the outside of the small scroll and handed it to him.
Glyph opened it and read: “As war appears imminent, so too does the peace and cooperation between all of our nations. As it appears to us, so does it appear to Drathus. I believe he is planning to strike, and soon. We have massed our forces to the north of Priam, and the seers of Toleth’va stand ever watchful. I may not attend your conclave at Muret for I fear to be away when Drathus attacks. I send you blessings, and pray you see fit to come and fight against the evil here, before it comes to you there.”
Glyph rolled the parchment up, and handed it back to Toban. “Let’s get moving.” Toban acknowledged Glyph’s order with a curt nod and walked back out. Glyph sighed, and looked back at Ishea. “Should I pay this High Priest a visit?”
“What do you think, King Glyph?” Ishea responded.
Glyph couldn’t help but notice she used his whole title. He sat back down at the table and placed his hands onto the crystal. It took several tries again. This time the mountain itself proved to be hard to navigate, with multiple levels and thousands of rooms. Eventually he found himself in a hallway carved straight from the mountain which was very reminiscent of Kivas. A heavy-looking wooden door stood to his right, and Glyph pushed his head through first for a quick look.
There was a man in a long crimson robe kneeling before an altar with his back to Glyph. Upon the altar was a tightly bundled infant. The baby was hard to make out, but Glyph was certain he had seen a tiny hand move out and back into the blanket that swaddled the child. Verto was speaking words that Glyph could not understand and appeared to be performing a ritual that he read from a leather bound book. A small fire burned in a pit off to one side providing the light for the room, and a tiny pot behind the altar sent wafts of yellow smoke into the air. He watched a few more seconds, and became convinced it was a type of baptism. Glyph scanned the interior of the room for anyone else who might also be involved but realized that Verto and the child were the only two people present. Deciding it would be best not to interrupt, Glyph pulled himself back into the hall, and withdrew his hands from the Divinare crystal.
“Could you not find him?” Ishea asked as she stared at the perplexed look on Glyph’s face.
“I did, but he was in the midst of performing some religious ceremony, and I didn’t think I should interrupt him.”
“Oh. It is good that you did not. I failed to mention that there are certain protocols that should be followed regarding the use of the crystal and other people’s privacy. Since the visited does not know when or where you might appear, it is up to the user of the Divinare to make sure their privacy is not violated.” Ishea explained as she packed the crystal away. “You would not want to appear to someone who was bathing for instance. You were right not to interfere with Verto’s ritual.”
“Yeah, I see how that could happen. So, what should I do about Verto?” Glyph asked.
“You can always try again later. If not, we are marching to Priam, and Verto knows this. You could introduce yourself when we get there.” She replied.
Glyph nodded and turned around to look at the Tapestry. This time it showed a vast wasteland, filled with Drathus’s minions; the size of force represented there was staggering. “Pack it up, it’s time to go.” He said when two servants came up beside him. “I don’t want to see that anyway.” He thought aloud, as he turned to exit the tent.
Ishea walked him back to his cart. Glyph reached in and grabbed his sword and buckled it on. He then put on the chain mail tunic, and placed his crown on his head. He had no intention on riding the rest of this trip in a wagon and, as if reading his mind, a guard was bringing his horse by the time he turned around. Glyph mounted O’dista and waited as Ishea slipped onto her own horse, then they rode to the front and began to lead the march.
“Verto mentioned the seers of Toleth’va in his message. Who are they?” Glyph asked Ishea.
“The monks at Toleth’va live in a monastery on the side of the mountain. It is said that some possess the power of extraordinary sight. Some can see a bird in a tree several leagues away, and some are said to see through the mountains themselves.” Ishea told him.
“So they could see when Drathus was about to launch his attack, and the size of his army?”
“Conceivably yes, though there has been little proof to support their claims.” She said.
“Verto is the High Priest. Does that mean Priam has no King?”
“Correct.” she said, shifting her hair from her face with a slight toss of her head. “Priam is ruled by a religious sect. They answer to the High Priest; it has worked for their culture for thousands of years.”
“How long to Muret?” Glyph asked Toban as he rode up from behind.
“We will reach the Pylon that leads to the Great Lake by sundown, and camp there. Then we will ride through the portal, around the lake, and into Muret in by afternoon. We have also received news that King Kahula and his army are crossing the Mother River as we speak, which puts them a half day behind us.” Toban reported.
“Looks like we’ll have our little meeting tomorrow after all.” Glyph remarked.
The rest of the day was uneventful, and the sun was just starting to set as they made camp at the Pylon. The Pylon turned out to be a large stone obelisk; Ishea explained that it acted as a transportation device that would allow them to pass over a hundred leagues to the north and re-appear just south of the Great Lake near Muret. Glyph was intrigued, and Ishea promised to show him how it worked when he returned from his hour the next morning.
Glyph had made the suggestion earlier that he should really learn how to fight with a sword. Toban had taken it as a personal request, and showed up at Glyph’s tent to give him his first lesson. Within an hour the pair were sparring in the flickering torchlight.
“You have great skill, Glyph.” Toban said when they were finished.
“I keep hearing that.” he replied, smiling. “So, what do you think our chances are, against Drathus I mean?”
“They are what they are. We stand a better chance as a united force than we do alone, and far better to fight him at The Pass, than to wait for him to come to our homes.” Toban replied.
“What if we’re still outnumbered?”
“It makes little difference. Here or there, now or then, we will still fight, regardless. It is really just a matter of preference, and gaining the upper hand.” Toban said quietly, and then added as an afterthought. “Your plan is sound.”
“Thanks, Toban.” Glyph said, feeling strangely reassured.
“It was an honor, Glyph. Shall we resume tomorrow?” Asked Toban.
“I’ll be sure to find the time.” Glyph replied.
Toban gave a short bow and left. Glyph walked over to view the Tapestry once more before turning in for the night. Now it displayed a scene of seven robed sorcerers, pursuing Drathus and his forces as they ran toward some mountains in the distance. It was obviously a scene from the first war, and he found himself wondering which one was Ishea. Finally he turned away, put up his sword, and crawled into bed. He still felt a little weak from his previous injuries, and hoped that some sleep would take care of it.
Glyph awoke the next morning to servants bringing in food and drink. He sat up on the edge of the cot as Ishea entered.
“How do you feel?” Ishea greeted him.
“Still a bit sore around the edges.” Glyph replied, probing his left leg.
“Try to take it easy on them. Your injuries need time to heal completely.”
“Yeah, tell that to the evil fuckers who attack me all the time.”
“I am sorry Glyph, that is not…you know what I meant.” She said.
“I know, I know, it’s just hard to keep doing this over and over again. It gets old, not to mention the whole ‘life and death’ aspect of it.”
They ate, as usual, in polite silence after that. Once they had finished, Ishea went to leave, but Glyph stopped her.
“I’d feel a lot better if you stayed.” He said.
“Of course.” she replied, and took a seat beside the bed. Glyph laid down, and tried to relax.
“Yes, Glyph?” she replied.
Ishea smiled. Glyph reached over and grabbed his sword, holding it close once again, and tried to clear his mind. ‘The source of your power comes from your belief that it will work.’ he remembered Ishea telling him. Glyph willed himself to relax, then set his mind to believe without a doubt that his sword and necklace would come with him this time. He repeated it over and over in his mind until the air was stripped away, and the tent went dark once more.