Naiara: Chapter Five - Adnoctem

Chapter Five - Adnoctem

The year 491 of the 4th Age During the 8th Month of Geminus, As Darkness Has Fallen on the Windlands.

Naiara woke up wearily and in numbed pain. Her vision was hazy, and she couldn't really see much of anything, but her feet were dragging on the ground slowly as she was being pulled backwards. Naiara began to cry as she felt an intense sharp pain in her weak right wing, which she tried not to move until realizing that she couldn't move it at all.
Another's blood dried hands pulled her from between her wings and her arms. A voice weakly whispering in the dark, "We're almost there, almost to the tree, it's not too far now sister. Please don't let the rumors be true."   "Arienh!?" Naiara cried out, thankful she was alive. "Are you okay? How did we survive?" She questioned, tears flowing freely from her sorrowful blue eyes.   "You almost didn't. You must have broken my fall somehow, I don't know. Everything's been a blur, but I know we have to get to Druiarbor before it tracks us here in the dark where we cannot fight it and hope to be victorious."   Everything hurt for Naiara, but at the same time, everything was numbed. She didn't quite understand how either of them survived. Suddenly a wave of warm, comforting energy flowed through her, like a hearth's warmth during a cold winter night. Her pain was significantly less, but the numbness increased. She had been healed and felt the strength in her legs to rise on her own again.   "You have the gift of healing? When did this happen?" She asked as she examined herself. She knew that the radius, humerus bone, or both in her right wing were broken, but thankfully she couldn't feel any of it right now.   Arienh didn't appear to be injured at all from what she could see in the dim moonlight, she only looked frail and exhausted. The wound in her shoulder was surprisingly gone without any trace except the damage to her tunic. Her ability to do any of this regenerative power seemed to come at a high cost to her, as she was visibly weary.   Naiara did not question her sister further, as she was beginning to understand her desperation a bit more now. If her sister revealed her healing talents, she would be unlikely to stay with the paladins and urged to become a priestess of Dalila for being able to channel her healing light. Healers were very rare and were typically kept safe and secluded by those in ruling positions of power.   "We have to go to the great tree and wait for morning's light before it's too late. Please, tell me what they say about that place isn't true." Arienh asked.   Naiara shook her head as she dusted off her greaves. "No, it isn't haunted for as long as I've been stationed here. I think it's just very much more alive than your ordinary tree, it belonged to a druid after all. But you'd need another druid to tell you more than I know."   A haunting cackle echoed in the grove near where they stood. Arienh stood up straight and raised her scimitars. "Barghest. It's found us." She whispered.   Naiara had never seen one before but had heard enough about them. They were ghostly creatures summoned from the Void, only forced to take shape and form in the presence of an intense source of radiant light. They were the size of a bear but with the prowl of a wolf. Often seen as an omen of impending death, their paws said to strike a fatal wound that would never heal. She remembered the crackling fire of its red eyes and how her arrows passed right through its shadow. This had been the first time she has encountered a creature from the Void.   Naiara checked herself, finding that her quiver was empty and that her bow was missing. She fortunately still had her family's battle axe on one hip. She quickly reached into her belt pouch that she was also thankful that it and it's contents were still within. She retrieved a vial and popped it open, which immediately ignited like a candle as soon as its vapors touched the air. She poured the volatile fluid onto the blade of her axe as it ignited into a bright amber, and she held it out like a torch as she stood back to back with her younger sister.   "May this magefire be enough to protect us. It should burn long enough for us to get to Druiarbor. If we ignite the Vigilate's beacon, then help will come." Naiara explained. Typically she uses the alchemical magefire as a distraction or to burn the corpses of her enemies, especially trolls who were known to be able to recover from their wounds and revive themselves rather quickly.   They cautiously made their way to the old druid home of Druiarbor, avoiding patches of thornbriar and razorhedge. As they passed a hill, they saw a ruined circular stone pillared structure and a circular grove of oaks surround a giant maple-leaf oak.   As they circled the grove around towards the front entrance of the great tree, an eerie and unnatural dark shadow blocked their passage. The monstrous beast's eyes flared red as they turned their gaze upon the two elves, and it snarled, revealing huge menacing teeth. Out from its shadowy form stretched forward two dagger-like claws and broad backward-facing feet behind it. Naiara sensed that in the magical light of the burning magefire on her axe, it was forced to take shape and was most likely vulnerable to their attacks. Still, she had never seen a creature as intimidating as this herself before, finding herself preferring to see its eyes in the distant shadows.   "Together, sister." Arienh said, trying to sound brave. Naiara could sense the trembling fear in her voice, but she was working just as hard to show none of it as she matched the fiery gaze of the shadowy creature.   Arienh brushed the edge of her scimitars against Naiara's axe, covering them in some of the burning oil as well. Then the creature jumped high over them, just out of reach of their weapons as they swung at it. Some of the oil flung off with their swings, igniting small patches of grass on the ground. Fortunately, the ground was moist with dew, and the fire would not spread far. Instead, it would illuminate their surroundings for a short while.   It charged straight towards them, but for some odd reason, it stopped. It was being pulled away from them, once again just out of reach of their weapons. Dirt flung into the air as roots emerged from the ground, attempting to grapple the creature. Its claws shredded the ensnaring roots too easily and quickly to fill the sisters with much hope, however.   The sisters stayed on the defensive, waiting for the creature to make an error that they could take advantage of. The barghest kept its distance and seemed to be stomping in place as if it waiting on the roots to strike again.   "You need to light the beacon, we cannot lure it over to it, less it destroys our only hope. You've always been faster on the ground, sister." Arienh pleaded.   Naiara shook her head, "I won't leave you with it still prowling out here."   "It will outlast us. We must call for aid while we still have this light." Arienh gestured to the burning alchemical oil on their weapons, which would not last for long. The beacon was just to the south, on the outside of the surrounding grove. It was not too far from where they stood their ground.   Naiara then realized not only could she light it, but there was also enough extra oil to reignite their weapons till Elyithon or any other members of Vigilate could arrive. It was a bold plan and one that required great haste. Naiara benefited from her sister's healing and was in better condition. She knew she could do this, but was not sure her sister or what she assumed was assistance from the great tree could hold the beast's attention away from herself and the beacon.   The barghest still kept its distance as it circled them. If it could understand them, it showed no signs. Naiara nodded in agreement and smiled at her sister, "The Vigilate is never that far away when called upon."   Arienh was leading the charge, with Naiara staying behind her till the way was clear. The barghest met their charge but found further resistance as roots emerged from the ground, grabbing at its legs. Naiara then took this opportunity and bolted straight for the beacon. Arienh slashed at its face, burning one of its eyes, its dark ichor igniting into a bright blue flame as it howled. The creature broke free of the roots as Arienh struck a glancing blow at its side. With one paw, it pushed her back, its claws scratching thin marks into the surface of her breastplate. It then quickly jumped away and started after Naiara.   Naiara avoided it as in lunged at her, quickly climbing into one of the trees. As it attempted to jump after her, Naiara tossed her axe at it, striking it in the back towards its flank. It screeched as the flame cauterized the wound just inflicted upon it, and stumbled upon the ground, the axe breaking loose as it tumbled and growled.   Arienh swung at it again from behind, one scimitar cutting it in its flank, the other hitting its rear right leg. "Leave her alone!" She shouted, holding her flaming scimitars and defiantly challenging the beast as it turned its gaze towards Arienh.
Naiara leaped from the tree and onto the stone circle, then jumped and glided towards the large lantern-like beacon. She quickly recovered the flask of special oil used to light it, which was made very similarly to the magefire oil she used to coat their weapons. This flame, however, burnt a bright blue-green as it reacted to the water within. The beacon was lit, and she still had kept half of the flask to use against the horrible creature.   She rushed back quickly and recovered her axe that was still lying upon the ground, covered in a dark ichor. She coated her axe again with oil, and it burned a surprisingly hot and intense blue-white as it made contact with the dark ichor and smelled incredibly foul. She approached the creature from behind where her sister stood against it as it prowled closer towards Arienh.   Suddenly the evil creature lunged at Arienh, who ducked underneath its jump and stabbed her scimitars upward into its belly. The claw of its rear legs tore into her wings, knocking her backwards. It quickly spun around, the scimitars still in its gut as she held onto her weapons, twisting them, and bit her viciously in the abdomen. Arienh screamed as she pulled her scimitars loose, the blades ripping through the side of its chest as black ichor sprayed from the newly open wound. Its jaws tightened on her as it lifted her off the ground in its mouth, thrashing her about. It's terrible maw then dropped her, as its foul head fell to the ground. Naiara was hacking relentlessly into its neck as the white-blue fire enveloped its wound.   Naiara dropped to her knees, dropping her axe upon the ground and tore her cloak off to hold tightly against her sister's severe wounds. Help would arrive soon; she kept trying to tell herself, holding back her tears. Arienh tried to speak, blood already filling her lungs, and pointed towards the barghest.   "It's defeated, you'll be alright, the Vigilate is on the way, you'll be okay." Naiara nervously said, trying to keep the fading Arienh with her. Her sister kept trying to mouth a word, and it took her too long to realize she was trying to say "Heart" as she pointed to the barghest.   Naiara quickly turned around rising to her feet, as the barghest rose to his weakly. The wound on its neck was slowly regenerating as its head barely clung to its neck. It awkwardly snapped at her with its loosely hanging maw, forcing Naiara to fall backwards onto the ground. She reached for her axe, but a paw struck her in the arm. The creature's fiery gaze met her's once again.   Dread overwhelming her as she helplessly stared back at this demonic spawn from the Void, a creature from a nightmare that would forever haunt her. She tried to crawl backwards away, fearing the end of her life and her sister's, as she was almost in reach of her weapon she foolishly set aside, thinking the creature dead with its head having been hacked clean off. Even most trolls could not recover from such grievous wounds inflicted upon them. The barghest's eyes were lazy and rolling back, as it continued to slowly regenerate its neck. It bluntly struck her again with the stub of a front leg that had been nearly cleaved off. Roots wrapped around it once more, slowing its advance, and trying to free Naiara from its paw.   It suddenly looked upward into the night sky, the radiance of a bright white light shining upon it and growing brighter. It released its paw from her arm to shield itself, Naiara rolling away to recovered her axe, screaming in pain as it clawed at her legs. It struggled weakly against the roots that ensnared it as Naiara stood up, holding her family heirloom with both hands. It tried to reach and swipe at her again as she stepped out of the way and relieved it of it's dangling front leg.   It howled as it dropped to the ground, the roots holding it tightly to the ground. And Naiara once again hacked the damned creature's head off, and then hacked repeatedly into its chest, pulverizing it's still black beating heart till it stopped, and continued to cut at it screaming in rage until its body stopped thrashing around. She threw the remaining vial of the Vigilate's Magefire into its chest cavity, as its body began to burn away into ashes.   She returned to her sister, ignoring her own wounds, and continued to hold her cloak close to the deep wounds in Arienh's abdomen. She was losing a lot of blood, fading fast, and fighting to stay conscious. Her sister grasped her hand and smiled at her.   The bright white light continued to shine upon them, as it approached. Naiara looked, expected to see fellow members of the Vigilate coming to their rescue surprisingly early. She did not expect to see an elven male, statuesque with golden hair and glowing silver eyes, his pure white wings alight with a diminishing azure fire upon them. A champion of Asadela's she could only assume as she looked upon him renewed with hope, tears flowing from her eyes, "Save my sister, please!"   He knelt on the other side of Arienh, and his hands begun to glow bright white as he laid them on the cloak over her wound. Arienh's labored breathing eased, and she seemed no longer in any pain. Naiara expecting her to be miraculously healed, went to move the cloak away, but his hands halted hers as they continued to rest upon her sister. He looked at Naiara with a blank expression upon his chiseled face, "She will pass without suffering. I am sorry I am unable to do more."   Naiara collapsed next to her sister, exhaustion, and her own wounds catching up with her. She looked at her sister, regretting the plan they agreed upon that cost her so much. Arienh looked at her grieving sister with a weak smile. "Herald? Nelthunael? Is she safe now?"   He laid his hands over Naiara's wounds, his hands once again glowing a bright white, "I am no Herald. Yes, but she will need time to recover. Her pain is numbed, but her body and spirit are damaged. The demon fed upon her fear too much."   Naiara didn't quite understand, she only felt numbness and sorrow. Arienh reached out and held her hand, "You are safe now, sister. The Lady of Light sent me to save you this day, and I have fulfilled her request." They stayed like this for a time, until exhaustion overtook Naiara, and Arienh's grasping hand released her sister's.


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Uht Ceara
2 Jun, 2020 13:56

This chapter was great. There was great progression and emotive language. The only thing i really have to say is a more general descriptive note. Be careful not to overuse adverbs, especially in dialogue tags. i can't remember where i read this, but i can pretty much quote it from memory: Using adverbs in dialogue is the different between '"How dare you!" he said angrily' and '"How dare you!" He said, slamming his fists on the table with so much force that the plates rattled.' Of course there are times that you need to use adverbs for the sake of brevity, but using more descriptive language creates a much more experience for the reader.

3 Jun, 2020 10:39

Thank you once again! Will keep this in mind for the second draft. I also want to provide more information and final dialogue between the two sisters as the suspense builds up. I'm not sure I really hit the point that the gift of healing is exceptionally rare. While I wrote that Naiara knows this, I do not think I expressed that point very well to the reader, as I continue exploring the magic system of my world here.

Uht Ceara
7 Jun, 2020 19:01

I personally think that you did get this across. Earlier, in the library chapter, you mentioned that neither of the sisters had magic. That gave the impression that you were not guaranteed magic to begin with. Also by giving over how most healing magic users are cloistered, and Ariehn's determination to avoid this fate, did give it emphasis. Maybe give Naiara a greater sense of surprise when she realises her sister has this skill