• Welcome to the Fantasy Writing Forums. Register Now to join us!

Chapter 26 - Questions Unanswered

When Ashlyn opened her eyes, she found herself trapped in a giant bird cage. Her prison was built with slender steel bars and a rounded dome at the top.

“Girithane!” She got to her feet, tugging at the bars. “This doesn’t solve anything!”

It was quiet where she stood captive. After scanning the layout of the place, Ashlyn realized she was completely alone. Damien and Girithane were nowhere to be found.

Her hands glowed with power, and the metal bars soaked it up like dew. But the cage did not break under her force.

“That blasted bird,” she cursed to herself. “Who does he think he is?”

Taking in a breath, Ashlyn summoned all the mana her body could handle. It welled up inside her before spewing outward in raw form. The bars shook under her power, glowing hot with magic, but they did not bend.

Angrily, she hit the bars with her fists. “Girithane!”

She waited, listening for any signs of stirring. After a long while, she sat down and curled her legs in.



Back in Girithane’s laboratory, Damien awoke on the examining table. The leather straps were still in place. Looking down at himself, Damien was relieved to see there was no permanent damage to his body. His dark veins would certainly fade in time.

He felt normal, save for the chronic headache that was now taking over. Looking to the side, he saw Girithane scribing his notes and observances down in a book.

“Can you untie me now?” Damien called to him.

“In a moment.” Girithane raised his hand. When he was done writing, he went over to Damien and unfastened the buckles holding him down.

Damien sat up, rubbing his head. “Did I hurt anyone?”

“No.”

“Good.”

As Damien put on his shirt, he noticed how silent the place was. He sensed he was forgetting something, but his mind was exhausted by the idea of remembering. “Did you find what you needed to see?”

“Oh, yes,” Girithane said, examining the boy’s neck and arms. “A fascinating specimen you are.”

“So, what are these answers you promised me?”

Girithane handed him the book. “These are merely my conclusions of the matter,” he said. “My conclusions are most often accurate.”

“Because you’re so old?” Damien smirked while opening the book.

“Yes, I am most knowledgeable.”

“And obviously not the most humble.”

Damien looked through the notes, mumbling as he read. He stopped when he came to an alarming passage. “Descendant?” he winced. “Descendant of– Uthunil. What is Uthunil?”

“Primitive humans,” Girithane explained. “Consequently, they were the first human tribes to clash with the dark elves. One particular leader developed a strong resistance to dark magic. By the Age of Ithilié, few were practically impervious to it. You have similar traits, boy. Traits that I can only conclude are from possible Uthunil ancestors.”

It was not the answer Damien expected to hear, let alone wanted to. He placed the book aside and stood to his feet. “I can’t give any truth to what you say,” he admitted. “Both my parents are dead. I…don’t know where either of them came from.”

“That is most regrettable,” Girithane said. “I do not have the tools to decipher your blood line.” He smirked. “That is more the work of a Sorceress.”

“You mean Ash?” Damien’s eyes widened. “Ash.” He spun around, looking for any sign of her. “Where did she go?”

Girithane folded his hands. “It seems she did not approve of the procedure you agreed to. She became hostile, so I placed her somewhere safe.”

“Could you take me to her?”

“Take you to her,” he laughed. “Mortals are not allowed to tread where I have placed her.”

“I’m not going without her,” Damien said. “We came together, so we leave together.”

“You are not leaving. Our work has barely begun.”

“What else could you possibly need to learn? You saw what dark elf blood does to me.”

“Yes, and that was a small sample. Now that I understand your potential, I can increase the dosage.”

Damien pointed and hissed. “You. Ash is right about you. I am not a bag of meat to be tested on. I had enough of that in Eolnir!”

“So you have already reached your full potential? Fascinating. I must see it for myself.”

“No. I want no more of this.” Damien backed toward the circle of candles.

“If you leave now, you may never learn what you seek.”

Damien was about to reply when a sharp pain came shooting through his skull. Amidst the swelling agony there was a voice. Ashlyn’s voice. He sensed her calling to him, echoing around his thoughts.

“Urr…” he hunched over, willing himself to focus on Girithane instead of the disturbance.

“Ah,” Girithane’s eyes flashed. “She is speaking to you even now.” He came forward, taking the boy by his arm. “Tell Ashlyn that you will not be joining her anytime soon.”

As he hauled Damien back to the exam table, the boy’s eyes began to dilate. His irises shifted into a black shade just as the veins in his arms and neck swelled.

Damien took Girithane by the throat and pulled him in with a forceful grip. “Let her go,” he said tightly, crushing the muscles in Girithane’s neck.

“Dah!” Girithane cried out in uncomfortable pain. He struggled to break free from Damien’s hold but the boy was unnaturally strong. Likely, his powers were still at large. “V-very well,” Girithane choked.

He breathed in sweet air once Damien released him. Then he disappeared, vanishing as he had before.

Damien waited several minutes, wondering what was taking so long. When a gust of wind came blowing throughout the den, he turned and saw Girithane holding Ashlyn. Her nice clothes were cut where something had scratched her.

Damien frowned. “Just hand her over,” he said, keeping his guard up.

Ashlyn wrenched herself from Girithane’s grip and ran over. Damien shielded her with his body as they moved to the doorway.

“Ash, get us out of here,” he said, keeping a steady eye on Girithane. “Thanks for your knowledge, but I think it’s best if we don’t come here again. Ever.”

Girithane cracked a smile. “I have plenty of knowledge to share with you. I know what you are.”

Damien forced himself to stay still, and to keep from spouting insults. Behind him, Ashlyn raised her arms to work the doorway. She grunted heavily as the den faded and their bodies were carried to the top.



Once they were on the surface again, they both collapsed inside the circle of stones. Some unknown force had made them both dizzy, and it didn’t help that the world was now covered by night.

Damien felt Ashlyn’s body laying solid against his chest, her lungs moving in rhythm with his. “Uh…” he scooted out from under her, gripping his head. “Why do I feel so strange?”

Ashlyn sat up, massaging her temples. “Because I had to counter Girithane’s wards.”

“Figures.” Damien looked at the ground to gather his senses. Eventually his eyes found their way to Ashlyn’s scabbed shoulder. “What happened to you down there?”

“You don’t remember, do you?” she asked, folding her legs in. “It doesn’t matter now. Girithane got what he wanted.”

“Ash–” Damien looked at her, growing puzzled. “–you fought to protect me, didn’t you?”

“I was worried,” she admitted. “What I saw you going through, I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. Not even my worst enemy.”

“Aww, how touching.” He pushed himself to his feet, but once he stood he began coughing. At first it was a trivial sort of cough, but it grew heavier. Seconds later Damien hunched over, holding his stomach. A wispy black substance came oozing from his mouth, dripping onto the ground.

“Damien?” Ashlyn reached for him, and the very moment she touched his skin her own flesh began to sting. “Ouch!” she jerked away. “What is this? This isn’t supposed to happen.”

Damien keeled over, letting the black ooze leak out of him and onto the ground.

Ashlyn jumped away in fright as the grass withered around her. It wilted before poofing into pieces of ash, leaving a naked ring of dirt beneath it. As the ooze faded, Damien rolled onto his back.

He allowed himself to rest on the ground for a moment, heaving in slow breaths. He saw Ashlyn standing over him, a look of empathy on her face.

“Don’t look at me like that. Please.” He sat up, pulling himself off the ground once again. He felt so much weaker than a few moments ago. Ashlyn noticed this and came closer to support him.

“You are not well,” she said. “Whatever Girithane did to you, it took a large toll on your body. Your scars have returned.”

“Why not just call them what they really are?” he said. “I can only handle so much dark magic in my veins.”

“Yes, it seems your body struggles to find balance. Some of it stayed inside.” She took his arm to examine it. “Let me see what I can do to purge the rest of it.”

“No, I feel fine now.”

“Did you not see what it did to the grass? It’s not good for it to stay inside you. Please, let me help.”

“Ugh, fine. I don’t want to go back home yet anyway. Not like…this.” He gestured to the deep markings on his arms and neck.

“Come on, let’s get away from here.” Ashlyn placed Damien’s arm around her as she moved. “So, what did Girithane have to say about your abilities? I hope it wasn’t for nothing.”

“Not nothing,” Damien panted. “He said something about Uthunil. How I’m descended from them or something.”

“Uthunil?” Ashlyn puzzled. Her silence stretched on for several moments as she pondered over it. “Of course. There must be some connection between you and them.”

“I don’t know what to think.”

“When I found you, you were in the ruins of Githal. And you did tell me that Baldemar adopted you. For all we know, you very well could be one of the Uthunil. In fact, it’s what I thought when we first met.”

“You thought I was one of the Uthunil?” Damien asked, squinting.

“Because you were in Githal,” she repeated. “What else was I supposed to think?”

“That’s true,” he said after a moment. “I wish I knew for certain.”

Ashlyn sighed. “One more question unanswered.”
About author
Lynea
Teacher by day, writer by night.

Portfolio entry information

Author
Lynea
Read time
7 min read
Views
689
Last update

More entries in Book Chapters

More entries from Lynea

Top