The next night we sat down and jumped straight back into our story. Lizzie’s wide eyes looked on me with excitement and wonder as I recounted the events from the previous night.
“…and so that monstrous looking entity bellowed ‘who dares to disturbed my slumber.’ Are we all caught up?”
“Yup,” Lizzie said, drifting into silence.
“Ok. So this ancient creature stands before you. It’s blinking yellow eyes trained on the light from your lantern. It looks almost like a human, yet its skin has the distinct texture of solidified mud.
‘My name is Ashoka, I am of the river,’ you call out. You’ve lied, though you are unsure why. Something in the air gives you pause.
‘Ashoka?’ the beast speaks every syllable with a slow, meandering pause, as if tasting each in turn, ‘human, you would do better not to lie to me.’
‘What are you?’ Your voice presses on, with a determination, ignoring its question.
‘Me?’ the beast sounds almost taken aback, ‘if you are not careful, I will be your reckoning.’ The hint of a smile pulls at the eyes of the beast, its face remains neutral. That is, if you could call such a sight neutral.
‘Speak, or never speak again,’ you announce, with quite a bit more confidence than you feel. You pass the lantern to your right hand, and draw your sword. The silver edge glows bronze against your lantern, yet with the palest hint of blue from the light of the beast.
‘You think you can damage me with this?’ the beast laughs, it’s a pained, guttural laugh, with such disdain, ‘what do you call your precious sword?’
‘This is Elendall, forged from the same fires as Durendall.’
‘Elendall.’ The beast’s voice breaths in a ghost like whisper, then, more loudly, it boasts ‘let me show you how feeble your mighty sword is.’ The beast’s arm raises slowly. You step back, wary as the hand extend closer to you, though it stops a short ten feet from you. It’s boney brown fingers glow red against the light of your lantern. The beast speaks an unknown word, sharp, clear, and steely. It sounds like ‘El-Dah,’ though it is so raspy and ancient you cannot say for sure.
Suddenly, Elendall begins to shiver. It looks like a gong, vibrating furiously after being struck. The shaking runs though your arm, until at last you cannot hold the sword any longer. Your eyes dart between the sword and the beast. The beast closes its hand into a fist, and you watch your shivering sword change. The silver blade shifts, to a burnt, angry brown, then to a molten, fiery red. The surface began to morph and twist, and little bursts of smoke began to roll off it. The once hard edges of the blade melt onto the ground into a puddle; bubbling, popping, and hissing as the molten turns from red to orange, with the hilt laying listlessly on the earth. Then, as if possessed, the liquid begins to move, rising into the air, and forming a sphere of molten. Waves of its heat scorch your face, but you stare, transfixed, at the sphere before you, unable to turn away. Then, the sphere suddenly shifts back through the color spectrum, until it sits before you as a pale blue ball.
‘Open your hand,’ the beast commands. Without thinking, you oblige. The sphere moves above your extended palm, then drops suddenly into your hand.” I stopped talking and sat in silence.
“Wha—come on!” Lizzies protested, “you can’t stop there!”
“It’s late Liz.” I brought my hand to my forehead.
“But what is—”
“Liz.” I said, in a tone more harsh than I’d intended. I could feel the fatigue against my eyes. Liz shrunk back in her bed, her expression hurt. I took a deep breath, “sorry Liz. I’m just tired. I’ll tell you more tomorrow.” Silence. She had turned away from me. I stood there for a moment, then walked to her doorway. I said a horse goodnight on my way out, then shut the door behind me.
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