Journey to Ábrelyn - Part V
Journey to Ábrelyn (a tale of Emélrenè) - Part V - the Holy One
After a night of deep, restful sleep, Kélroth was woken by the light through the high windows that ran along the southeast facing wall of the hall of rest. An attendant waiting at the end of the hall rose and provided him with clean robes, and a basin to wash. Once he was clean and dressed, a simple meal was provided, and soon Ohláren returned.
"Feeling better, young man?"
Kélroth nodded, but he couldn't shake a deep-seated feeling of dread; and of concern.
"How is ... Lerélyn?"
Ohláren's troubled response didn't provide any reasurance.
"She is very ill. And the illness she is suffering from is ... beyond our knowledge."
"Many people are very interested in what you have seen, young man. And I hope that you may be able to help us to help Lerélyn. Do you feel ready to talk with my superiors?"
Kélroth felt a sudden rush of anxiousness, but silently chastised himself. He was alive, and mostly well. His companions and Lerélyn had not been so lucky. It was the least he could to share what had occured.
"Yes," he said. "Although, I'm not sure I really know what did happen..."
"Don't worry. All you need to do is tell what you saw. No one expects you to understand things beyond your years or experience, young Kélroth."
Ohláren rose from the bed opposite, and gently took Kélroth's arm.
"Come. The Holy One is waiting."
As they walked, Ohláren explained that he was taking Kélroth to the highest levels of the halls, to the personal conference room of the Holy One - the Dhéria-Ísvan. A wave of anxious nausea washed over Kélroth, but Ohláren, sensing his young companion's discomfort, tried to reassure him.
"Of course, a personal audience with the Holy One is most unusual; but you would have met her during your initiation in any case. And do not fear. She is mighty, but she is human. And she very much wants to speak with you."
Kélroth appreciated the effort, but wasn't sure that Ohláren was helping...
Before he knew it, however, they had climbed a broad stairway, and were on a wide landing, where two armed guards in full armour stood beside an oak woodend door.
Ohláren nodded to each, and spoke in a lilting tongue Kélroth did not recognise. One of the guards knocked on the door, and opened it. Ohláren and his young charge walked through.
The room beyond was brightly lit, with a large glass window with a view out over the mountain peaks to the west. It was well appointed, with rugs, tables, chairs and many rows of shelves with scrolls and codexes. But Kélroth's eyes were drawn instantly to the tall, imposing woman standing at the end of the room, looking out over the long valley of the Gadén.
She turned as the entered, and Kélroth was struck by the serenity and grace of her bearing, and her movement. She almost glided across the room, motioning to a chair next to one of the tables, and nodding imperceptibly to Ohláren, who returned the gestured, and backed out of the room. Kélroth was left, alone, with the spiritual leader of all Eméla.
"Please, do sit, Master Ámelar. We need to talk, and I have no need to stand on ceremony." Her voice reminded him, he realised, of Lerélyn's, but with greater strength and assurance.
He hesitated briefly, but mustered up his courage, and did as he was bid, feeling hugely out of place.
The Dhéria-Ísvan took no notice of his quite obvious nervousness, and sat herself in the chair opposite him, then, completely surprising him, reached out and took his hand. It was all he could do stop himself jerking it away.
"Young man, I know that you are most discomforted to speak with me so directly, and so soon after your arrival. But I have seen the warden you arrived with, and what I have seen has alarmed me greatly. So greatly that I have pushed aside all protocol. The urgency of this matter demands no less. I hope you understand."
He was completely speechless now, and could only nod woodenly.
"Also, I must ask that you allow me to hold you hand. I wish to feel your story as much as hear it. I trust you understand this also."
All he could do was nod. What else could he do?
"So, Kélroth. Tell me. From the beginning. Leave nothing out, however small it seems to you. And tell me what you felt, as much as what you saw..."
He looked up then, looking her in the face directly for the first time, and told his tale. And as he did, it seemed to him that the brightness in the room dimmed somewhat, and he felt the nawing-aching-falling that had come to him first in the face of the presence now three nights ago.
At first, the Holy One's impassive face betrayed no indication of any impact of his tale. But when he told of the darkness rising and the screams of his companions in the early morning a day ago, he saw that she blanched. The look of fear on her face shocked him, for he had already come to expect that her serenity would be unshakable. She mastered it in an instant, but that expression, almost more than anything else that he had experienced, rocked him to the core.
He completed his tale, and for a moment longer, she held his hand. She closed her eyes, and released his hand, gently laying it on the table. Silently, she rose, and walked to the window, and for several minutes stood, looking out over the valley.
Finally, she turned back to the young man.
"My apologies," she said. "That was unfair of me. You have shared with me, and I should have shielded you better from my thoughts."
She returned to the table, and sat once more.
"But, I could not. What you have told me, young man, and even more, what I felt through you, has revealed something beyond my worst fears."
Kélroth was appalled. He did not know where to look.
"I apologise again. But it cannot be helped. Something has happened that lies outside the lore of our people, ancient and deep as it is. The horror and darkness which you experience is known to us; but never, ever have I heard of it being so strong, and never has it been known to reveal itself in daylight hours."
Kélroth shuddered; if the Holy One was afraid, what was it he had encountered?
"Young man, I do not envy you, to be so young and to have already experienced one of the greatest terrors of our people. And more, to have done so in a way that defies all that we know of those we call the Eldest Ones."
Kélroth, amazing himself, found his voice.
"The ... 'Eldest Ones'?"
"That is one name for them. We know so little of what they are. Many have speculated, but encounters with them are rare, dangerous and often deadly. Generally, it is said they are beings as old as the very hills, ageless, dark, and pitiless. They seem to hate the light, and yet are drawn to it, to snuff it out."
"They appear in the 'weak places', where the fabric of the world is old and broken. There are many such places in the lands between the Es; the land of our Covenant. Keeping watch upon the frayed threads of the land is our honour and our sacred duty."
"But now... now this is something new. Your encounter with them was not brief, but prolongued. And they arose in the day, and stuck at many. All of this is new, and ... deeply, deeply worrying. I fear something terrible and deep is rising. And I know not what I shall do about it...."
She rose, and went to the door, and opened it. Ohláren was waiting outside, and she motioned him in.
"Ohláren, young master Ámelar has provided me with most urgent news. I must summon the High Council, and discuss these matters with them. Please take him under your charge, and ensure he is safe. His security is vital, as much as mine, you understand?"
If Ohláren was surprised at these instructions, he didn't reveal it. He simple nodded, and guided Kélroth from the room. As he left, Kélroth glanced back, and saw the Dhéria-Ísvan sink into a chair. Her face was ashen.
As he walked down the corridor accompanied by Ohláren, it was this last image that he could not shake. His very world seemed unstable. All he knew was one thing; things would never be the same for him again.
An overview of Emélrenè will be contained in the upcoming Venârivè publication. A future Kingdom of Emélrenè publication will contain detailed information about the realm, and the perilous dangers that beset it from within and without.