Revanth manages to imprison Rialta. However, when he finds the women, they are under a spell and don’t recognize him. Marigold has him captured and goes to see to Rialta.
Slinging the door to Revanth’s cell open, Marigold confronted the helpless Rialtia. Hissing a curse, she pointed at the naiad, who clutched her throat, eyes rolling up in her head, as she collapsed on the bench. Convulsing, she twitched and shook. With a nasty smile, Marigold watched for several minutes until the seizure eased. A snap of her fingers, and the tremors began once more.
“How does it feel to be helpless, you vile harpy? To have your body do things you don’t want? Because someone has power over you. Evil. Vicious. Cruel. My children are grown, my home gone, my husband married to another. Because of you. May you rot!”
The door slammed shut and she stormed down the stairs looking for Revanth.
Alton was at an impasse. He’d lost the scent of Revanth, but caught enough of a hint on the wind, to know the general direction. The trouble was, the fair lands had ended and a desert sprawled before him. The harsh sun on the bright sand nearly blinded him. A child of cool woods, this sand and heat were almost too much for him. However, sand was dirt, wasn’t it? After reaching that conclusion, he stopped by the edge of the desert, running his fingers through the sand. Sending out questions, he waited for answers. If Revanth had been carried across, the creatures and plants of the sand would know. Constructing a hut of sand, he waited.
His thirst grew and a line of small insects showed him where to find water. Moving the sand aside, he created a well and lifted it until he could drink from the cool water below. Leveling out the sand, he made an oasis, leaving it as a gift for the inhabitants of the deserted land.
After a time, the wind brought him answers. His friend had gone to the northwest, steadily, directly. He was trapped at a castle built from living stone. Impervious to moisture, it graced the air, but sealed out sand. All life avoided it, choosing to take the chance of skirting death, rather than a sure end in the castle. Removing the horses’ saddles and tack, he took what belongings he could from the saddle bags, and let them go .With trepidation, he set out at dusk, seeking—something.
Night fell, and with it a deep cold. Glad he’d taken the bedrolls, Alton wrapped one around himself as he trudged along. Wishing for the companionship of the horses, he cast about with his mind. Finding a pack of jackals on the hunt, he dropped back into his own mind. Casting out once more, he touched something, but what? It might have been Revanth, but he wasn’t sure. Seeking more deeply, he thought he touched Velda. Recoiling, he realized he’d touched her mother’s mind instead. Filled with lust and longing, as well as the murderous, insane images of herself with—a horse? No. A black haired man—Revanth.
“Ew!” he wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.
The idea of Revanth with Rialtia filled him with disgust. However, he realized it was a part his brother was playing. Rather than interfere, he joined his energy with Revanth’s, doing his best to help his friend seduce Velda’s mother. There had to be something seriously wrong with that reasoning, but he knew he had to help keep Revanth safe.
The sun rose and the heat began almost immediately. To shade himself, Alton raised a shell of sand. It took a little while to perfect, but he firmed it beneath his feet and scooted himself along. Strangely, the magic didn’t make him tired. He felt revived and rejuvenated.
“There must be a source of power nearby,” he murmured as he skimmed the sand. “A very strong one.” Tapping into it further, he used it to guide him to the castle where his friend was captured. Did he dare hope that there lady loves were also here? It made sense. If this was Rialtia’s stronghold, why have them anywhere else?
Finally at the door, he shook the sand from himself, thanked his various companions, and eyed the edifice. Power unlike he’d ever felt, thrummed inside. Its energy seductive, sensual, exciting, he gave himself over to pure pleasure for a moment, before raising his hand to knock. Before knuckles touched wood, the portcullis rose, and the heavy door swung open.
“What took you so long?” Revanth said, motioning his stunned friend inside.
“Um….” Alton stopped at the door, toes on the line between inside and out. “Took me so long? I’ve walked the fekking desert! Two days travel in this heat, not to mention a day or two before that.”
He wasn’t entirely sure of the passage of time, but it had been more than two days, and less than a week—or so his inner self told him.
“Are the girls here? Have you saved them? What’s going on? Where’s Rialtia?”
Revanth opened the door wider. “Come inside and see for yourself. It’s a tale worth telling.”
Struck by the peculiarity of it all, Alton paused. “Were you captured?”
“Yes, I woke to find myself in chains.”
“But now you’re free.”
“Some quick thinking and good luck….” He struck a pose. “Here I am.”
“And the girls? Are they free too?”
Revanth’s face clouded. “Yes. But—you need to come inside.”
“Why? If the girls are here, let’s go. I’ve found a way to cross….”
“Just come inside!” Revanth lunged forward, grabbing at Alton.
The wood sprite jumped back and Revanth’s hand seemed to sizzle in the dessert sun. Gasping and cursing, he stuck his hand in his mouth.
“Damn you, wood sprite! Come inside!”
© 2019 Dellani Oakes
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