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Friday, April 18, 2014

Ghost of the Crystal - Part 7

It may be a bit jarring to see a time change in a post-by-post telling of a single short story, but this marks the end of the flashback and continuation of the first part, which you can link to at the bottom of this entry.  If you are confused, use the links at the bottom to catch up to speed.

Tyrin fell to the ground with a thud.  When he looked up from the bottom of the pit, he saw the Hunter tear the pole to pieces and scatter the remains.  A few scraps of wood fell on top of Tyrin before he could get to his feet.  Then the spirit turned its ghastly face towards him and chuckled, holding out a small shard of crystal.  It sang a soft, clear tone and emanated a deep blue light.  The sound was soon joined by a second voice, then several.  Tyrin and Morra looked down to the bottom of the pit.  One by one, critters about the size of a gelfling's hand worked their way through the earthen walls and paused near Tyrin.  Their eyes reflected the deep blue of the crystal as their wings fluttered together, creating their low thrum.  In a flash, Tyrin scrambled to the far wall and got to his feet.  He counted twenty of them.  Each one moved about on four sharp legs, using strange, jerking motions.  But it was the needle-like beaks that caught his attention.
"Peymakan!" Tyrin said.  Although he pulled out his knife and brandished it at the large insects, it did not give him any sense of safety.
"Hhahhh… hahhhh!"  The Hunter moved closer to the edge of the pit.  Morra could see that Minn's crystalweave cloak now hung from his side.  "I see the young gelfling is familiar with my pets.  They'll make you sleep forever, gelfling."
One of the peymakan jumped onto Tyrin's leg and stuck him with its beak.  There was no pain.  He swatted it away with the blade and yelled at them.  Already he could feel a numbness spreading into his leg.  The peymakan backed up for a moment and vibrated their wings in unison.  The sound grew louder, more menacing.
"Haahh hahh hahhh!  Make him sleep, my pets.  But do not kill him.  He will provide essence to the Emperor."  The crystal's light changed hue, from blue to purple to red.  It, too, began to hum with the note of the insects.
Tyrin pressed his back against the wall again and looked up at Morra and the Hunter.  A feeling of despair came over him as he realized that no matter what he did, he could not get out of the situation.  The peymakan drew closer and surrounded him.
"Hmmmmmmm…"  It was Morra's silvery voice rising above the thrum, matching the tone.  The insects hesitated at the sound.
"Quiet, you!" the Hunter said and struck Morra.  Her white locks fell around her face as she swung from the blow.
The peymakan continued moving towards Tyrin.  He jabbed his knife into the wall and took his gemshorn in both hands.  After a quick breath, the instrument was pressed against his lips in a familiar kiss.  Serenity flowed forth as a soft, dulcet note hung in the air.  Instantly, the insects halted and changed their tone.  Tyrin followed their new note, then led them to another.  They followed suit.  The light of the crystal shard shifted once again, going from red to a gentle white.  Slowly, the insects backed away from Tyrin and wiggled into the earthen walls with their sharp legs, disappearing.
"No!!  My pets!  This useless crystal!  I will never trust that bent-snouted thief, again!" the Hunter cried and threw the shard to the ground.  "Then I am just going to have to save this one to eat later."  He moved away from the pit and knelt down by the trunk of the tree.  There, he began to fashion a covering for the pit with all four hands working in tandem.
Tyrin wasted no time in looking for a way out.  He'd made it this far; he knew there had to be an escape.  It only took a moment of feeling around in the loose dirt before he found more scraps of wood that had fallen into the pit with him.  It was easy enough to work into small stakes, which he stuffed into his belt
When he was ready, Tyrin jumped up to grab the spear that still stuck out from the wall.  He pulled himself up onto it and pulled two stakes from his belt.  With all his might, he drove them into the wet dirt near his midsection, followed by two more at head-height.  In this manner, he began to climb out of the pit.
The speed of the Hunter's hands was incredible.  Tyrin was only half-way up the pit wall when the Hunter started to drag the completed covering back over to where Morra hung, still and limp.  "I must check my other traps.  You will wait hhhhhere.  If they escaped, doubtless they will come for you.  Now scream, gelfling.  Bring them hhhhhahh... here."  He walked up to her and reached up to grab her leg.  Before his hand reached her, however, she kicked hard and struck him in the head.  The Hunter reeled back with a loud cry and grabbed at his face, dropping the covering on the ground.  Something had changed in the spirit.  Somehow, that unexpected blow had made him more tangible.  She could no longer see through him.  His furs no longer looked as fine.  In his hands he held a mask they hadn't seen before, which he kept tight against his unseen face.
Tyrin had no time.  He pulled himself up to his highest handholds and pushed off of them into a leap.  His fingers grasped at the edge of the pit but started to slip a little.  Drawing his legs up near his belly, Tyrin gave one final kick and jumped to the far side of the pit.  The cold ground hit him in the chest, leaving his arms free to help him clamber out of his temporary prison.  The Hunter was still hunched over, working at his mask.  Tyrin ran towards him, but his foot slipped on something small and round and he tumbled over.  When he looked down, he saw the shard of crystal laying at his feet.
The Hunter affixed the mask and turned towards his prey.  Once again, he was a full spirit.  Once again, he moved with a celerity that caught Tyrin by surprise.  The gelfling reached for his knife and let out a gasp when he realized that he had left it at the bottom of the pit.  Before he had a chance to reach for the shard, the powerful grip of the Hunter was on his leg, lifting him upside-down into the air.  The last of the stakes fell to the ground; he just managed to grab the gemshorn by its strap before it, too, fell out of reach.

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