Luthra's Awakening: Death, Thy Master
Banshee Words and Names
Danem - tribe, group, caste, division
Triakar - Council of three
Mashagar - "Warrior of Darkness
Luthra - "Foe of Light"
Alafra - "Exalted Daughter"
The third and final installment in the trilogy of short stories. The first one and the second are Death, Thy Lover and Death, Thy Father. They follow character of Luthra as she comes to the realization that all she believes is a lie. Luthra is a character in the story that I plan on doing for Nanowrimo this year, which is Legend of the Green Wizard: The King's Bride.
My soul clawed its way up from the deep darkness into which it had fallen, and I found myself laying on a bed in what appeared to be a cave. Despite the furnishings of the cave, which implied that it was someone’s dwelling, there was no living thing present save me, and I was not quite sure that I still lived. Breathing slowly, I glanced about the place. There was a bookcase made of fine oak against one wall. It was full of books, but I could not understand what was written on their spines. My eyes then turned to what appeared to be the entrance to the cave. Just inside, steps had been carved by a mortal hand into the hard stone, and it looked as though beyond the stairs there was a passageway. Where am I? I wondered to myself. Is this Death’s Realm? Was the man in white, Death himself?
Suddenly, the sound of a door closing came to my ears from beyond the stairs. Then I heard the tramping of feet on the stone. Finally, the man in white came down the stairs, and as he saw me, a kindly smile once more graced his lips. “So you are awake, Luthra,” he said in a gentle voice. “Welcome to my humble abode. I am Phoibos.”
“Did you bring me here to kill me?” I snarled.
“If I wished you dead, dear Luthra, I would have left you on that field of death your people made,” he replied with a voice full of warmth. “I have no desire for your blood.”
“Yet you are human.”
“Did my ears give me away?” the man asked.
“Why do you not wish me dead? I am your foe.”
“You are no foe of mine,” Phoibos replied. “You are my sister for we are both children of the first parents.”
“I am a child of the gods,” I sneered.
Phoibos gave me a sorrowful look as he shook his head. “The gods that you worship with such fiery passion are lies and liars,” he replied. “They were but men. Men of great power to be sure, but men all the same. They took your ancestors and twisted them with their dark magics, simply because they could.” A tear rolled down Phoibos’ cheek. “Be enslaved by lies no longer. You know the truth for you have seen it.”
Never before had I seen anyone act as he now acted. As a human, he should have hated me, but I saw in him only grief for me. I saw in him pity, the gift of a kindly soul. “Why did you bring me here?” I asked. “Why did you not just let me die?”
“Would you have preferred to die?” Phoibos asked.
In that moment, a dam broke within my soul. Tears welled up within me and spilled forth as I sunk to my knees and wept. “No, no,” I said as I trembled..
“And I had no wish for you to die,” Phoibos replied as he lay a comforting hand upon my shoulder. “Your journey is not yet finished, yet you must tell me how it began.”
Turning my tear stained face to him, I asked, “What do you mean?”
“How did you become a Screamer of the Banshee?” he pressed.
“No, no,” I said as that the evil memory came to my mind. “I cannot speak of it.”
“Yet speak of it you must,” Phoibos replied.
Trembling, I finally bowed my head. “Why?” I asked.
“For your own sake,” he replied. “You must be broken before you can be reforged.”
With a shudder, I began to speak of that horrid day when I was changed forever.
*** *** ***
The tongueless servants of the Triakar led us through the twisting labyrinths that were the home of the Banshees. The Vatri Crystals glowed with a faint light to show us our way. At last we came to the famous arena of The Warrior Danem, The Fighting Pit. Above it on a throne like chair, which was covered in ornately stylized serpents, sat Mashagar himself. His imperious red eyes seemed to bore into our very souls as they looked down upon us like those of a judging god. Then a smirk came to his lips, and his empty eyes seemed to fill with joy and pleasure. It was the first time I had ever seen such in him.
“The time has come,” he said in his rasping voice, “for your final test, my students. Are you ready to serve Death, Thy Master.”
As one we bowed our heads to him and said, “Yes, Lord Mashagar.”
“For four years, you have trained and fought as one,” Mashagar said. “You have overcome every test, which I have set for you as one. No more! Only one of you shall be Death’s servant. Kill each other.”
For a second Alafra and I stood as one in stunned silence. How could we fight each other? How could we kill each other? Then I let out a snarl as my hand fell to the hilt of my blade, and I drew it forth to kill her who had saved my life in the village. Spinning towards her I struck, but Alafra was not slow either as her blade leaped into her hand and met mine with the sound of ringing steel. So we both began to dance once more with death.
Our moves were graceful, and we met each other blow for blow. In truth, neither of us possessed more skill than the other. We moved about the fighting pit with deadly grace as Mashagar watched us. Steel rang against steel. Then we hurled words like venomous spears at each other. We taunted each other in the hopes of drawing out anger, which led to error, but both of us were far too disciplined for that.
Then by mere happenstance, Alafra’s foot came to rest on a loose stone, and she fell to the ground. As her sword arm hit the ground she lost her grip upon her blade, and I without pity, without remorse, and without hesitation, stepped forward and plunged my blade into her chest. I saw her eyes fill with terror, and I laughed. Only as they rolled back into her head, did I realize what I had done.
Grief swept over me as I looked down on her who had once saved my life. I fell to my knees. How could I have done this? What had possessed me to bring death to one who had been my friend. Then the cruel sound of clapping reached my ears. Looking up, I saw Mashagar standing before his throne. His eyes were full of ecstasy as he looked down on us, and I realized in that moment that this was what he enjoyed. I hated him with all my heart.
Slowly, Mashagar turned to one of the tongueless servants. “Bring the prisoner,” he said.
The servant dashed from the room, and Mashagar turned back towards me. “Well done, Luthra of the Warrior Danem,” he said in a pitiless voice. “You are one of Death’s Chosen. You are Death’s servant from this day forth, and Death is thy master. Now, come receive your master’s reward.” With that he leaped down from his elevated position. Part of me wanted to laugh for I was sure that he would die, but as he held out his hand, his descent slowed. He came down and landed like a feather.
The door to the fighting pit swung open, and the tongueless servants led in a human man. Mashagar walked up to him and said, “This man is a wizard among his people. He is a somomancer, and now, his power shall be yours.” Taking a blackened dagger from the hands of one of his servants, he plunged it into the man’s heart. I felt an oppressive weight fill the room as Mashagar pulled the dagger out of him.
Slowly, Mashagar approached me, and I was too afraid to move. Then he plunged the dagger into my heart, and darkness encompassed me.
Hours later, I awoke. New strength filled my body, and Mashagar stood over me. “You are a Screamer of the Banshee.”
*** *** ***
“Old dark magic,” Phoibos in a sorrowful voice. “It is an old method of giving the power of one to another.”
“You know of it,” I asked with a trembling voice.
“Of course,” Phoibos replied. “It is said that even the old gods as man calls them used it.”
“Why did you save me? I am wretched and accursed.”
“Because your journey is not finished,” Phoibos replied. “The ways of your people will
lead them only to destruction, but you were born to show them a new way.”
I looked at him for a moment, and then I bowed my head. “What way?”
© 2014 Joseph Ray