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Half-Truths and Deception Part 4

By Hir i-Chorvath · Nov 6, 2019 · ·
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  1. Kalishan was soon shouting at Thornstaff who replied through clenched teeth until it seemed as if they had reached an impasse. Thornstaff would not go to the temple but he felt like he had to recompense the bard for not having done as he said but the only recompense that Kalishan would accept was for them to go to the temple.

    Finally Kalishan huffed and said "Very well, druid, you win. I will look over your apprentices slight and will not require that you escort me to the temple and help me retrieve the pipe."

    Thornstaff narrowed his gaze in suspicion and Ryjah let her shoulders slump in disappointment, it would have been fun to go on an adventure for once instead of the normal rounds around Thornstaff's lands. Even if they would have only been able to find an enchanted pipe.

    ""After all..." Kalishan added slyly "I couldn't have companions with me that were too afraid to come, it would not do at all. No, I could not have a coward as a companion."

    Ryjah gasped softly from her place on the ground. Nobody had ever called Thornstaff a coward before, she looked to her mentor wondering if he would attack. But Thornstaff just hissed at Kalishan his hand was clenched tight on his bow, then he growled "Fine. Where is this temple?"

    Kalishan's tone was smug as he replied "The Valley of Cumathion."

    "Then get on your horse, bard. We're leaving now." Thornstaff snapped "On your feet, girl, be quick about it." He didn't wait for an answer, transforming back into a horse.

    Ryjah scrambled back to her feet and remounted as quickly as she could to avoid irritating her mentor further, as did Kalishan though he did so with a self-satisfied smirk. Perhaps Thornstaff noticed because he did not gallop as he had before instead going at a steady walk. Kalishan followed but it only took a few moments before he began to complain "Why aren't we going faster? We will never make it anywhere at this pace!"

    Thornstaff snorted but picked up the pace. He led them through the forest as Kalishan told Ryjah stories of all his mighty deeds, several of which she was sure were exaggerated but entertaining all the same, until they entered the long valley of Cumathion. It was filled with a thick unnatural fog and they all stopped to watch, awestruck, as a large white temple emerged from the fog. Its many slender pillars and graceful curves gave the temple a delicate look. There was a deep rumble when the temple settled into the ground as the last of the fog disappeared.

    "That's it!" Kalishan shrieked and kicked his horse galloping towards it. Thornstaff followed, though at a slower pace. When they drew nearer to the temple they found that it was surrounded by an unnatural silence. It had a cold empty presence and despite its delicate look it felt foreboding. They halted at the temple steps where Kalishan waited for them scowling impatiently. "Hurry up! I didn't come all this way just to be waiting on the steps."

    "We're coming!" Ryjah slid off of Thornstaff's back and started to skip up the steps then slowed down and walked the rest of the way. She didn't want to seem too excited or annoy Thornstaff again. The Druid reverted back to his natural form and was quick to catch up with her. Kalishan hurried up the steps after them but to her surprise made no attempt to pass them. She found that strange but it wasn't going to stop her from going in. Ryjah moved to pass Thornstaff, who had overtaken her, and be the first one to see what the temple looked like on the inside but he held her back. Ryjah gave him a confused look. "Aren't we going in?" she asked.

    Thornstaff turned to face her with a stern expression "Kalishan and I are, but I want you to wait out here."

    "What? Why?" Ryjah could not believe it! He wasn't going to let her be on a real adventure? Hadn't she proved herself capable? Then Ryjah thought back to earlier that day with a sinking feeling. She had been told to wait while he scouted, or to turn into a squirrel to keep up and then to untie the bard instead of helping with the fight. She hadn't helped with anything at all today, all she ever did was tag along! "I'll be useful this time! I promise, Master Thornstaff!" she begged.

    Kalishan rolled his eyes at her from where he stood at the doorway. "What is it now? We are right outside the door! Lets go in! Your apprentice is far more trouble than she's worth, druid." he complained.

    Ryjah's shoulders slumped as she tried not to cry feeling that, for once, Kalishan was absolutely right. Thornstaff, however, snapped at him "Enough, bard, you are no fit judge of how much use my apprentice is to me. If you want to go in then go in. You have no need to wait on me, I'll catch up."

    Kalishan grumbled but didn't go in instead leaning against one of the slender white pillars with a scowl.

    Thornstaff scowled back muttering 'Who's the coward now?" Just loud enough so that Kalishan could hear as he turned back to Ryjah who saw Kalishan bristle at the returned insult but didn't reply. "Ryjah." Thornstaff said recapturing her attention "I don't want you to come in because if the rumours are true then it is unlikely that we will come out and I don't want to take that risk with you. You will wait here for an hour and if we don't come out by then then you are to leave and go find Isilniath, you can wait longer with her if you wish or she will help you contact your father to send someone to bring you home and find you a new mentor. Do you understand?"

    Ryjah shook her head desperately "No! I do not understand! and I won't do it! I don't want a new mentor, I can help! And if you go in without me then I will just follow you later."

    Thornstaff frowned, displeased "I can keep you from following me, girl."

    Ryjah changed tactics, realizing how petulant she was acting. "I won't leave and if you make me, I'll only come back. I want to go on a real adventure with you! Besides, you can't be certain that I will be safe waiting here for you. Or how long it takes for, whatever it is that happens so that no one ever comes back out, to happen! Maybe it counts for people on the steps too. Please let me come. I can help! I'll be useful for once " Ryjah persisted ignoring Kalishan's continued sounds of impatience.

    Thornstaff appeared to consider what she said then growled to himself in annoyance before muttering "Fine, but if you come with me you have to swear to do exactly as I say."

    Ryjah grinned and nodded eagerly "I swear!"

    She held her breath in anticipation as Thornstaff sighed pushing open the door and let them in. Inside, it was white and grey marbled stone. Elaborate murals decorated the walls of the temple depicting the goddess Adara as the goddess of knowledge and wisdom. Ryjah moved closer to Thornstaff though, because many of the murals looked like they were watching her.

    "Where's this pipe you are looking for? The sooner we can find the thing the sooner we can leave" Thornstaff said shattering the still silence of the temple.

    "I don't know." Kalishan replied looking around the place as he studied the murals.

    "What do you mean 'you don't know'?" Thornstaff hissed glaring as he turned to face Kalishan.

    "I mean, I don't know, no one had ever come out of this place so how am I supposed to know?"

    Ryjah added her two cents in an attempt to be helpful "Most of the temples that I've been to have the artifacts in the middle."

    "It's better than I don't know." Thornstaff muttered "There's nothing to lose by trying it."

    Kalishan merely shrugged. As they moved further into the temple they began to see incredibly detailed glass statues of people of all races. Humans, Dwarves, Dragonborn, Elves and so on including a few small animals every now and then. The carving was so exquisite and fine, down to the last hair, scale or feather that it had to have been created by magic. Then one of the statues turned its head and looked straight at Ryjah.
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  1. CelestialGrace
    Fantastic :) I'm really enjoying this tale.
      Hir i-Chorvath likes this.