What follows is the final draft of Luthiel’s Song “The War of Mists” Chapter 1: The Dreaming. Read with the knowledge that book II is getting much closer to being published. I sincerely hope you enjoy.
SPOILER ALERT!! BEYOND THE FOLD IS FINAL COPY!!
I am dying!
Pain in her neck, wrists, and side made her back arch in agony. Breath
came in little explosions. Hands balled into fists, she struck the bed, leaving
smears of black on the white. Her Wyrd Stone—Methar Anduel—gave just
enough light for her to see the blood. But darkness pressed in from all around.
There was an owl. She was the owl. Torn. Pain filled her, like the gnash of
a hundred teeth.
She felt herself falling. Her eyes grew black and the light of Methar Anduel
Far away, she heard voices. But nearer there was a presence. If followed
her as she dropped away.
No! She is ours! shouted the Vyrl in her thoughts. Death shall not take her!
A hand touched her. But it seemed far away. Then, something hot and
wet filled her mouth.
There was an explosion of light. It was so beautiful tears fell as she opened
her eyes and saw Methar Anduel burning, bright as a star, on her belly. Slowly
breath returned, but in painful bursts. Her mouth was hot with Vyrl’s blood.
She could feel its healing energy coursing through her. The strength and a
sense of renewed life flooded back so fast it made her stomach sick and heavy.
Methar Anduel’s glow showed the three Vyrl—Ahmberen, Ecthellien, and
Elshael—standing over her like tall shadows, hands linked, voices lifted in anger.
The great rulers of the Vale of Mists looked down on her. Their black eyes
swirled with tiny flashes of light and unreadable emotion. Could they be afraid
for me? she thought. Can a Vyrl even feel fear? Through her bond with them she could sense only fury. Their thoughts flashed through her like lightning. She flinched at each violent and strange emotion.
I’ve lived with them for weeks, but I still don’t understand them, she thought
as she struggled to push them out of her mind. She felt shaky and wanted some
solace from their wild thoughts.
Turning her eyes from the Vyrl’s swirling gaze, she saw Mithorden standing
at the foot of her bed, a Wyrd Stone ablaze in his fist. Unlike the Vyrl, she
could see naked concern in the sorcerer’s eyes and though the rulers of the
Vale towered over him, his light and the shadow he cast filled the room in a way
that made him seem their equal. There was a sense of strength about him and
his steady smile reassured her. She gulped air and tried to calm the pounding
in her chest.
Her gaze shifted to Vaelros who clutched his sword tightly, seeming ready
to strike at an unseen danger. His strained face and stiff stance made her wonder
if he would ever fully heal from the curse that had nearly killed him. The
shadow of that nightmare still seemed to lay long and dark over him. He caught
her gaze and his eyes flashed—warm and worried. She struggled to smile—as
much to reassure him as herself.
Melkion perched on an overhang above her, dragon wings spread wide,
fanning cool morning air over her. He was small—no larger than a cat—and
his brilliant scales threw the light back in a hundred little rainbows. She felt
grateful for his comforting wing flaps. Her smile broadened as she faced him
and felt his cool puffs of air washing over her. She picked up Methar Anduel, sat
up, and tried to collect her thoughts.
Her hand touched the Stone and its light grew. The shadows fell back,
revealing the werewolf Othalas on her room’s far side. Here was the Vyrl’s
great hunter. The one they sent to gather children and take them to the Vale of
Mists. No more, she thought as the smile touched her eyes. Now he is my friend.
He paced by the far wall with worry plain in his massive yellow eyes. His great
bulk nearly filled the chamber, making it awkward for him to turn. He seemed
nervous as a hen and this sight brought Luthiel fully out of her daze. He looked
so silly she laughed aloud.
“Othalas, you look ridiculous!” she croaked hoarsely.
Soft as a flower petal falling, Melkion dropped from his perch and alighted
beside her on the bed. “She’s alive!” he whispered, as though afraid a loud
noise might break her.
The great wolf let out a growl before bursting through the Vyrl to give her
one great lick with his paddle tongue. Melkion’s eyes narrowed and he looked
sidelong at the great wolf.
“You never lick,” the dragon said to the werewolf.
Othalas flashed a row of knife teeth at the dragon. Melkion shook his head and snorted smoke.“Well I’m blessed. You actually care for someone.”
The great wolf looked away, pretending the dragon hadn’t spoken.
“Othalas wasn’t the only one worried,” Mithorden said with a kind, if strained, smile. “You gave us all quite a scare.”
“What’s happened?” she asked between breaths. She felt sore and beat up. As
if she’d just run ten miles and at the end fallen off a cliff. Wiping blood from her
mouth, she stared as the reopened wounds in her wrists and neck slowly closed.
“You nearly died. It took strong magic and Vyrl’s blood to bring you back,” Mithorden said. “As for what happened, I think you know quite a bit more than any of us.”
All eyes were on her. She sat still a moment, staring out the slit window,
doing her best to compose her thoughts.
Outside, the night slowly faded as the edge of Oerin’s ellipsis neared the
horizon. Spiders were out there—swarming beneath the Vale of Mists’ Rim
Wall, invading its forests. Like the spiders in my dream, if it was a dream. The
Widdershae who make all things their prey. She blinked her eyes, slowly remembering. This morning they were to venture out. To try and break through the Widdershae and their thick-spun webs of nightmare. To reach the elves and ask them to forgive Vyrl.
She turned her eyes away from the lightening sky and looked at her hands.
It is still only night. But it seems so much time has passed. If this adventure
were not enough, now there is my dream. A dream that wounded me. She shook her head as if that small motion could clear it of all worry and looked back at her
companions. They would want to know what happened.
“It is all still very odd to me. And the only thing I can remember plainly is
the death. But I will do my best to explain,” she said in a soft voice. “I dreamed
I saw through an owl’s eyes. It was spying on a meeting. Widdershae, a dragon,
Zalos’ riders, and a man robed all in black. They—I think they were planning
to kill me. When the meeting ended, the owl flew away. Then, I think the
Her voice broke and she couldn’t continue. Melkion hissed as Ahmberen and Mithorden leaned closer.
“You saw what it saw?” Ahmberen said. His swirling eyes seemed draw all of her inside them.
“And this happened to you when it died?” the Vyrl continued, motioning with a long-fingered hand to her hurts.
“I think so.” Luthiel looked around in amazement. “How could it happen?”
The Vyrl turned to one another and she could sense thoughts whispering between them. Finally Ecthellien spoke.
“The Dreaming,” he said.
Mithorden nodded. “Valkire’s gift. Now his daughter’s.”
Luthiel watched them with a growing sense of dread. “What’s The Dreaming? If that was a dream, I’ve never seen anything like it before!”
“It’s not a usual dream,” Mithorden said. “The Dreaming is deeper. Waking or sleeping, your father could share others’ experiences. Sometimes, he could speak to hundreds or even thousands as they slept. The danger is you can share a body. If the body dies—the Dreamer can die too.”
Luthiel put a hand to her head. She could still feel her heartbeat pounding there. “So that was real?”
“You’re hurt, aren’t you?” Mithorden said.
Luthiel stared at the bloodstains, still trying to take everything in. “I feel better now.”
“It’s the life in our blood,” Ahmberen said. “But for Melkion’s watch, you would have perished in your sleep.”