This is all I have to offer you today from my enigmatic guest.
This is the story of Montayna, a young woman born of both light and dark magik who never knew her parents. She earns her freedom with a bit of magik even she was hardly aware of, but her skill is growing and she needs to find answers. Who is she? Where did her powers come from? To find those answers she sets out on a journey of discovery, both inward and outward, of dark mysteries as well as light. Will she master them, or they her?
Inexperienced and facing incredible dangers in the course of her quest to defeat the darkness that is spreading inexorably across her world, her journey takes her through a landscape of wizards, elves, faeries and wolves, as she throws herself headlong into the fray to challenge the malevolent designs of a powerful Dark Lord.
It is a journey that will eventually change Montayna as well as the world around her.
Montayna was terrified; every word the woman spoke, dripped with evil. The fear she felt enveloped her. In that moment, she felt Sheerak. You can survive this. I cannot help you, and I will not be able to communicate with you after this, but you will survive. Find that strength within. I will be waiting.
The woman laughed a hideous ugly sound. “It is you, who may not use magik if you want to pass this challenge. This will be oh so easy for me. You will never survive. It is almost beneath contempt that they have sent me such a pathetic girl.”
Montayna felt hatred being thrown at her. It was like a physical thing, and then she was pushed to the floor of the cavern. She was held by an invisible force, and could not move for a very long time. She fell in and out of sleep, and when she could finally move, her muscles were cramped, and she was dirty and hungry. Slowly she began to move her stiff and aching joints. She had no idea whether it was day or night, or even how long she had been there. Her eyes had now adjusted to the darkness. She looked around and saw a bucket on one wall. Standing up, she stretched, then looked inside the bucket. There was water, though it looked dirty, but she was so thirsty. If she was to survive this, she needed to keep up her strength. She could not understand why the Nunnehi had put her here. From what Gilcune had said of them, they were honourable. Why would they have agreed to this? She finally drank some of the water, and it was indeed filthy. She could taste the grit, but at least it quenched her thirst. She was determined she would survive, no matter what.
Inspecting the cavern, she followed the walls, feeling carefully with her hands. There didn’t seem to be any opening. How was she to get out? She sat down and thought of all that had happened. There was obviously a reason, but she could make no sense of why she was being challenged in this way. If the dark side was trying to entice her, then this surely was not the way. Sighing, she stood up, and began to feel her way around the cave once more. Her fingers felt a groove in the rock. She could feel a breeze and knew this was an outer wall. This must be an opening. The challenge was how to get it open. Feeling around with her foot, she stubbed her toe on a rock. Without moving too far away, she picked up the rock and began working at the groove. It was a slow process. She was tired, hungry, and thirsty, but was determined not to stop. Finally, a great chunk of rock fell and she felt fresh air on her face. A tear trickled down her face, but she brushed it aside and continued until she had made a hole big enough for her to crawl through.
Once through to the next chamber, she discovered it to be much the same as the one she left. With the exception that it had an entrance. She could hear the sound of running water, and headed in that direction. She came upon a rock face with water running down into a pool. She drank her fill, and then washed her face. She tried to see where the water came from, but could not. It was just there. Being faint from hunger, she thought this was why she could not think clearly. She walked to the entrance, taking care to check there were no traps before she stepped through.
She stepped into a passage that as far as she could tell went a very long way. Of course, this was intuition rather than anything else. There was nothing else for her to do but go forward. She had travelled some distance, when she saw a faint light. It was not directly ahead, more off to the right. She increased her pace and arrived at another cavern. This one was clearly lit, with a table and chair to one side. There was warm bread and cheese, and a jug of cool water. Without stopping to think about it, she sat and ate and drank. Later, she realized that may have been a mistake. What if the food was poisoned? It was too late to worry now. What was to be her next step? As she had this thought a parchment appeared on the table. She picked it up and read:
She got up and stretched her aching muscles. The cavern had darkened except for an entrance opposite to where she had come in. She stood in the doorway trying to decide. She realized how much she had come to rely on her magikal ability. She closed her eyes, took a deep breath and turned left.
The passage was dimly lit and though she travelled for some time, nothing happened. She was just beginning to think she had chosen wrongly, when she felt that same evil malevolence she had in the first cavern.
“Well girl, you have made it this far. Either you had help, or it was dumb luck. Either way, you should have taken the other path. Now you have to fight me, and I am more powerful. So prepare to die, Chosen One.” This last she almost spat at Montayna. The hatred coming from the woman was like a suffocating cloak.
Montayna could still not see her properly. Her face was hidden by magik. They fought with fists like street brawlers. The woman threw Montayna to the ground and got her hands around Montayna’s throat. The advantage Montayna had was from learning to fight as a child. She relaxed her body for just a moment, which took the woman off guard. This gave Montayna a split second to throw her off. As lithe as a cat, Montayna was up, swung around behind her, got her in a headlock and twisted. She heard the breaking of bone and the woman went limp. She let go and slumped down gasping for breath. She realized she had killed the woman, and though she knew it was kill or be killed, she felt sick to her stomach.
She saw the way ahead become lighter. She stood up, walked towards it, and entered another cavern. There was a table with a jug of water, another parchment, and a beautiful sword. She drank some water, then unrolled the parchment.
She looked puzzled as she read this, for there was only one gift. The sword. It was beautiful. Made from what looked like silver, carved with Elvish writing. The handle, made from a dark wood, was carved in the shape of a dragon, with a large dark blue sapphire embedded in its throat.
She picked it up and it fit perfectly in her hand. It began to hum, just as her dagger had when she received it. The cavern filled with brilliant light, so bright she had to shield her eyes. She felt herself being lifted into the air and gently began to spin. She could hear hundreds of voices raised up in song, it was almost deafening. As the sound began to fade, she became aware of her surroundings. She had stopped spinning and floated to the floor. She was now in a room. There were beautiful tapestries hanging on the walls. The floor had a soft covering, and she realized there were no windows. She must be still underground.
The door opened and ShaYung entered. She came and knelt before Montayna, placing her fist across her heart as she spoke. “We honour you, Chosen One. We are yours to command, if and when you have need of us.”
Montayna soaked her aching body in the wonderful steaming water. She tried to come to terms with the fact that it had been so long. How had she survived that long without food? ShaYung had sent some food to her room. She ate a little, then climbed into the bed, and just as she was drifting off to sleep, she heard the familiar purr of Sheerak.
‘Welcome back little one, all is well. Sleep now.’
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