This is the second of my five-part novelette The Great Kasdran and the Fairy Queen that I am posting here and on Wattpad on Sundays. There is adventure, action, some drama, and a bit of romance against a mythological, legendary backdrop.
You can read part 1 here.
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The Great Kasdran and the Fairy Queen – Part 2
“This is the River of Songs,” said Alynna. “Your melody defined the ways the River will run to the west. Since I do not know this song, I cannot foresee our path.”
“But the ballad I sang is very well known, how is possible you heard it not?”
“I was raised here in the Kingdom by the Fae people. Your world is strange to me.”
“It is yours as well.”
Alynna went silent. They followed the course of the River, turning right and left, and sometimes running down. The leaf revealed itself as good as any boat. The River of Songs flowed north for a while and passed by a building in ruins. Broken towers and blackened walls captured the eyes of the Great Kasdran.
“Whose palace is that?” he asked.
“That is no palace. It was a cathedral. An ancient one, known as Angels’ Dwelling. Once the Kingdom was a place where all beings came to enjoy life, angels, Fae, and mankind alike… But no more.”
“The War of Tears. All sides endured great losses. Each race lives in its own world ever since.”
“And what caused the war?”
“A war is set in motion by a lot of things, lost thief; by a lot of feelings. Greed, envy, fear, pain, love… Hardly any side is innocent.”
The cathedral faded away as the River of Songs carried them on. Kasdran said, “I am most grateful, lady Alynna, for you saved my life by suggesting this quest. The Fairy Queen would have me dead.”
“It is too soon to be grateful. This mission resembles a lot an execution. But since I am here, the odds of your survival have improved a little.”
“I am glad you are here.”
Since no word came from Alynna, the Sword Sorcerer spoke, “I would say you hide something in your mind, lady Alynna. Something regarding the Fairy Queen. This quest is no random idea, and I find difficult to believe it is only about jewelry.”
“You see farther than I expected, lost thief.”
“Therefore I am not mistaken.”
“You are not. The Yllysh stole the heart of the Fairy Queen, not only the royal jewelry. My Queen cannot love any longer. She is in pain, and does not even know why.”
“Will not anyone tell her the reason?”
“No, for the Counselor said so. He holds great power and the Queen’s graces. I am certain he is involved in what happened. He said it will be easier for the Queen if she remains unaware of her condition, and most fairies agreed. No one does anything. All life is threatened in the Kingdom, though; one can barely see a fairy wandering where once there were thousands. The Yllysh may strike these lands any time now. Fear grows, and the Kingdom reflects the Queen. As I said before, these are dark days… And then you appear at our borders. You say you are heeding the call of the sword of the King, the one you bring along, and this might be the only chance to recover the Queen’s heart and the Kingdom itself. I did save your life for now, but it was not only for your sake. Most of all, it was for the Queen and the Fae World. I am sorry if I made you understand it otherwise.”
“You shall not be,” said Kasdran honestly. “The Fairy Queen will be proud and grateful for you. We will succeed, I give you my word. I shall see this world restored, as well as the Queen’s wellbeing. Now, please, clarify me. Who are the Yllysh?”
“They are dark Fae. They live in the shadow, and are resentful of the Queen and all fairies of the Day Lands; they wish to spread the night over all things. As you can see, one can learn much from the whispers of the court.”
“Indeed. Worry not. I know how to make us enter the Fortress of Dread unharmed, though I possess no knowledge of where it stands nor who guards it.”
“Neither do I, for I have never come this far away from the Palace of the Queen. Nonetheless, I guess we will find out quite soon.”
They were deep into the Night Lands. The starry sky eased the darkness; there was no moon up above. From the River of Songs they only saw the vastness of empty plains. At least until Alynna was able to distinguish two trees not far from the riverside. She said the trees might point the way, so they left the River of Songs, and it dispersed itself in smaller streams until them both could not find a single one anymore.
Alynna released the leaf they sailed on in the air, and it flew away in the breeze; she thanked the Primal Tree in a short prayer. They could not see the Tree from where they were.
They approached the two trees they saw from afar. The trees were black and leafless. The Great Kasdran spoke to them, “Trees of the Night Lands, can you give us any sign of the way to the Fortress of Dread? For I much desire to meet its ruler.”
The trees writhed, and one of them answered with a dry-wooden voice, “You stand on the Fortress’ gate. We are the sentinels.”
The other one followed, “Who are you and why do you wish to meet our ruler?”
“I am Kasdran, a traveler from distant lands, and she is my human prisoner from the Fairy Queen’s court. I bring a gift of great power to your ruler, the sword of the late King of the Day Lands. I earned its possession, and now I intend to pass it on to the Night Lady. The prisoner is a proof of my allegiance to her.”
“If you speak truly, leave the sword on the ground,” said one tree.
“And then a servant will take it to the Mistress,” said the other one.
“This sword cannot be handled by any other being but I, for it grants its willingness to only one bearer. I shall take it to the Night Lady myself. Let us pass.”
The trees mused for a moment, and came to a decision, “You can enter the Fortress of Dread,” said a tree. The other added, “But you two shall bathe us with a few drops of your blood.”
The Great Kasdran unsheathed his own old sword, not the King’s blade, and did a little cut in his hand and Alynna’s. Their blood fell upon the black roots of the two trees.
“The offering is done,” a tree spoke. The second tree finished: “Now you fall.”
The ground beneath them was no more, and they fell into the earth. They slid down a tunnel until they reached an open space. Then the Great Kasdran made them float safely to this new, stone ground.
They were in a strange underground hall, where stones of different shapes and sizes formed irregular walls and columns. They were neither precise nor harmonious. There could only be a very strong will so they were possible to stand. At the end of the hall, there were two doors and a throne made of dead roots and obsidian stones. A little chest of silver trappings rested beside the throne. Someone was sitting there, but rose up when the two arrived.
This Fae was tall, of violet skin and long hair made of roots that seemed to merge with the throne itself. She wore a black armor of obsidian stones and others that the Sword Sorcerer did not know. Black were also her eyeballs – ones that could be looking at you at all times and you would not know.
There was something about her that made the Great Kasdran uneasy – a sense of unknown, imminent danger. Alynna grabbed the right arm of Kasdran, like a warning. Then the Sword Sorcerer asked, “Are you Vyanlystr, Mistress of the Fortress of Dread?”
“I am,” she declared. “And you said you are Kasdran, the traveler of distant lands. Why do you wish to give me the sword of the late Day Lord?”
“How we come to be right in your presence, my Lady? We just stood at the gate on the surface.”
“One could spend a Fae lifetime lost in the Fortress until finding this hall,” she said. “However, I can bring anyone to my presence if I so desire, and thus here you are. Now, answer my question.”
“Certainly, my lady Vyanlystr. I just witnessed with my own eyes how powerful your magical artistry is. Therefore, I presume you would reckon your invincibility with the possession of such blade. How can any force in this world or others overcome she who ultimately masters blade and magic alike?”
The Sword Sorcerer took little steps towards the Fae Lady as he spoke. Alynna followed him, silently, head down.
“Why would a young human cross such distance from the human lands until here and give up this legendary sword?” asked the Night Lady.
“Neither good nor sane man would,” the Great Kasdran declared, and drew the Fairy King’s sword. “Ever.”
The King’s blade sweated flames and ire, and screamed for revenge. The Great Kasdran attacked the Yllysh lady, but soon she took hold of an obsidian dagger that she used to reflect the young man’s strike. It was reflected with such power that Kasdran and Alynna were thrown back to where they first landed on the floor – yet that did not prevent her from whisper to the little chest to go to her hands.
They rose to their feet, and then Kasdran understood the feeling that made him uneasy before Vyanlystr the Vile. He recognized it, for all humankind felt it. It was a universal fear.
The Yllysh was the very fear of the dark.
Her eyes became crimson and her mouth stretched abnormally showing teeth of an ominous beast. Vyanlystr started walking towards them with the dark dagger in her hand. The voice that spoke entwined the moaning of wraiths and the grunt of a ferocious creature, “Such foolishness. You cannot harm me nor leave my fortress with this chest. Not even the Queen of the Day Lands dares to defy me, and yet you did try. Now, you shall learn why humans call my kind the Nightmares Fae.”
In a blink of an eye, Vyanlystr was upon the Great Kasdran, who swung the flaming Fae sword aiming for the Night Lady’s head. However, fast as a lightning, the Yllysh defended herself with the dagger, spun on one foot and drew a second obsidian dagger that pierced through the flesh of Kasdran.
The Sword Sorcerer pushed her away and pressed his hand over the bleeding wound. The blade that hit the Great Kasdran was not dark any longer. Now, it shone scarlet. The young man felt terror take over his mind. The fear was much stronger. That was no common strike of a dagger.
“It astonishes me how foolish it was of you, human, to think that with only this sword you could defeat me. You know nothing about the Fae, even less about my kind. The Nightmares Fae do not hurt only flesh, but the spirit altogether. I bereaved you of your courage.”
The Great Kasdran had lost his willingness to fight. In an attempt to survive, he dropped the Fae sword, and started to run to one of the doors at the end of the hall. Vyanlystr laughed, then threw the second dagger towards him. It hit, and Kasdran fell. The Night Lady took back her blade, and it was scarlet too.
The Sword Sorcerer was now deprived of his memories. He had no reckoning of his past or who he was, where he was or why. He did not know how to fight anymore neither cast spells. The monstrous creature of violet skin, crimson eyes, and atrocious mouth was upon him, and its horrendous smile would drive him mad at any second.
“That is despair, fool human. Taste it, and taste it well, for it is the last thing you will ever feel.”
Kasdran beheld the Yllysh raise her hand to deliver his death. He was petrified by terror; he could not even comprehend what was happening before his eyes. No memory, no courage, and unimaginable fear. No men could stand such challenge.
A light as bright as the sun flooded the hall: Alynna had opened the little chest and the light burst out of it; it was the light of the Fairy Queen’s heart. Vyanlystr felt its touch like fire, and soon she was burning. She screamed, and was brought to her knees. Alynna stood before her, shadowing part of the light, with the late Fairy King’s sword in her hand.
“The dark can only be undone by light,” she declared. “You murdered the King, but the Day Lords defeated you. The nightmare you cast is now over.”
Alynna thrust the King’s blade through the Yllysh head. Vyanlystr the Vile ignited on a blue fire and burned to nothing. A shiver ran across the foundations of the Fortress of Dread.
The red-haired woman closed the chest with the Queen’s heart, and the light was gone. Then she came back to Kasdran, who was trembling. She grabbed the daggers and offered them to him.
“Hold them, and all shall be fine.”
He hesitated, but finally did so. His courage and memories returned – the Great Kasdran was himself again. He said, “I wonder if one day I will be able to thank you properly, lady Alynna. You saved my life once more.”
“Perhaps. We shall leave this place at once firstly. Here, your sword.”
She handed him the sword of the late Fairy King. The Sword Sorcerer refused, and said, “You made great use of this blade, and saved the Fae by finishing Vyanlystr off. It let you do so. You shall bear it.”
“No, we cannot assume the Fae are safe yet, and I am no swordswoman. It yielded itself to you, not to me. You are the Sword Sorcerer, Kasdran. Only by your hands this sword will fulfill its destiny; I am a sorceress, I foresee it.”
The Great Kasdran took hold of the sword with some reluctance. When he did, however, he felt, more than ever, a great power. He felt excitement and relief. These sensations were from the consciousness of the sword.
“We shall go now,” said Alynna. “Vyalystr said one could spend a lifetime lost in this fortress, and I do not doubt it.”
Suddenly, the Fairy King’s sword started pulling towards one of the doors. They followed the sword guidance and found themselves in a maze of dark corridors and tunnels. Soon Fae servants appeared and tried to kill them, but the Sword Sorcerer slew every single one of them. The dark fairies were monstrous, some skinny and some robust. They sprout from the ground and wall rocks, most of them eyeless, with sharp teeth, and mouths like worm’s suction cup.
“Lady Alynna!” he called while running. “I am quite curious about one thing.”
“Funny time to feel curious!”
“Indeed!” Kasdran laughed, despite the dire situation. “I assume the chest was locked. Was it not?”
“How did you manage to open it?”
“I spoke the right words!”
“You are quite the mysterious sorceress, are you not?”
“I wish you could find that out,” she said, and Kasdran’s heart almost stopped. “But it seems we are following a sword which is leading us to nowhere!”
“Trust it! I believe it will save us!”
“It is not like we have much choice! Run!”
Many more of the dark Fae appeared, screaming and exposing their sharp teeth and trying to hurt them. If the Yllysh made one single scratch, they would suck something too valuable out of Kasdran or Alynna, and that would mean a horrible death for both.
They went down a very long narrow tunnel and came out in a large cave with an underground river making its way into the deepness of the world. The sword pointed to the river. Alynna said, “If we follow the river we will just be farther and farther away from the Day Lands! And we do not know if it can make it out to the surface.”
“It is the only way,” said Kasdran. “It is this or dying in here!”
“We cannot go west any more, it is madness!”
From up the tunnel, they could hear the ravenous dark fairies approaching.
“Then… Then we shall reverse the course of the river,” the Great Kasdran said to the astonishment of Alynna. “Do you know how to speak to rivers?”
“I… Yes, I do. But I doubt I possess enough magic to reverse a river of the Fae World…”
“If there is a river possible to reverse that is a river of the fairy lands,” he assured her. The first Yllysh came out of the tunnel; the Sword Sorcerer took down one, and the other grasped his blade. It set itself on fire and the fairy burned away. “And if there is some sorcery able to do it… I am certain you can perform it.”
Alynna smiled. She would try. “I shall hold them off,” the Great Kasdran said.
“Thank you, Kasdran,” she said. He noted that was the first time ever she called him by his name.
He had not much time to appreciate the moment since more Yllysh sprung from the tunnel. The Sword Sorcerer relied on his magic to seal its entrance with ice, using the water from the river, and thus giving them more time.
Alynna was concentrated, making gestures and speaking relentlessly. The river became more and more agitated. It seemed somewhat angry.
The ice wall shattered soon, and Kasdran regretted sealing the tunnel for now he had to fight innumerous dark fairies off at once. He stood near Alynna in order to focus on her protection. The King’s sword was eager than ever to meet the Yllysh, and the Sword Sorcerer performed his fatal dance.
The Great Kasdran was in a rampaging battle with the dark Fae when Alynna called him with a weakened voice. He only needed a second to see the river running backwards to the east; he uttered words of fire, a blazing wave swept the air of the cave in front of him, and then there were no more fairies.
The Sword Sorcerer put the sword back in the sheath and embraced Alynna. “You are the greatest sorceress I have ever met,” he said. “Now, hold me. We go together.”
Another group of dark fairies appeared. Alynna held Kasdran with all strength she had left, and they dived into the river.
The underground river went on and on through strange, dark places they hoped never to see again. The waters carried them for hours until they saw a light at distance. It became closer and closer, and then they fell down a waterfall.
The Great Kasdran realized they were in a beautiful lagoon in a forest in the Day Lands. He felt safe and relieved, for no dark Fae would expose himself under that bright sunlight.
Little he knew that his greatest adventure in the Fairy Kingdom was about to commence.
[End of Part 2]
Part 3 next sunday. See you!