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Fire Sentinel (A Sacred Journey Short Story Book 2)

Journeying to the hot, volcanic plains of Qarkuma, Amaya seeks answers from her last journey, on the Ice Queen and the sword. With Cian by her side, she knows she’s protected from the dangers within the fire, but it’s not Amaya who needs to be protected. Someone else is watching and waiting for the right moment to attack.

 

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Fire Sentinel

A Sacred Journey Short Story

Copyright © 2017 Erin Maxwell

All rights reserved. Except for use in any review, the reproduction or utilization of this work in whole or in part in any form by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented, is forbidden without the written permission of the publisher.

Published by Erin Maxwell

Look for her online at: http://authorerinmaxwell.wixsite.com/fantasyauthor

 

Fire Sentinel

A Sacred Journey Short Story

 

Author’s Note:

Hey everyone! Just a quick note to let you all know that, just like Ice Guardian, Fire Sentinel, Book Two in the Sacred Journey Short Story Series, is a very short read. As I’ve said, I’m writing these books as an introduction to the main novel, Sacred Journey. It serves to introduce some of the side characters in the novel, giving you a deeper look into Planet Khrellia and its inhabitants!

Only two more books to go before Amaya’s story truly begins!

 

Thick clouds moved slowly above the dark and stifling hot volcanic plains of Qarkuma, a mixture of fiery oranges and blood reds among the inky blackness of the sky. The sunless valley of Qarkuma received its bone melting heat from below. The open chasms went deep into the mantle of the planet, and none could survive the steam and lava that escaped, except the dark ones who called it home. Amaya would have had less chance than a snowflake in a demon’s mouth had she not been walking inside Cian’s protective aura. Even in its protective layer, she had to toss off her travelling cloak that turn instantly to a cloud of grey ash, floating on the thermal winds like a thousand grey moths.

Leading the way across the stepping-stones that lay in a pool of lava, they stopped at the bottom of some large stairs, and took in the massive dome building in the heart of a volcano that would make Srak’ou seem small. A statue carved from the granite connected to the building, cloaked and holding a basin that dripped with magma.

Black trees, taller than the building, grew from the ground at the top of the stairs, with roots that had cracked the surface of the ground, and lava pulsating through their trunks.

“Long way up. You sure you want to do this?” Cian asked.

Amaya smiled. She could feel his curiosity burning inside her. She hadn’t told him why they were here. He hated not knowing her intentions, but she could feel his trust through the link they shared. “Let’s go,” she replied, climbing the first step, feeling the ground beneath her tremble.

Cian stayed next to her, eyes darting left and right. “Fighting an ice golem is one thing, but going straight into danger unknown is an entirely different matter.”

Amaya glanced sideways at him. He’d seen the dangers first hand, but she suspected he’d seen more than just their last visit. She’s decided against mentioning anything to him, in case she lost her nerve.

She was just thankful Cian was by her side now.

They reached the tops of the stairs and walked into the dome-shaped building. Inside was quiet and empty, except someone sat in front of a long bar, a flaming red drink smoking in his hands.

As if he sensed their presence, he turned in his seat and fixed black eyes on her. White teeth and sharp canines flashed in a smile. He stood when Amaya reached him, his arms held out. “Amaya, you look absolutely…ravishing.”

Cian shifted but Amaya placed a hand on his chest to keep him still, smiling at the demon. “ Loczeh, I’d say it’s a pleasure, but nothing is with you.”

Loczeh stood tall, wearing nothing but black leather trousers and a white shirt showcasing the faint scars criss-crossing his chest and arms. Blond hair fell in waves around his face, unkept and messy. Likely on purpose.

He growled and grabbed her. His hot breath fanned her cheeks, almost burning. She thought their noses might touch and wondered if his skin was as hot as the fiery flecks in his eyes. With his hands running down her back, he murmured softly, “I can make it pleasurable, if you’d let me.”

“Cian.”

Power poured from Cian, and a growl slipped from his lips.

Loczeh released her. “Okay, okay. No need to get emotional.” He eyed Cian. “Haven’t seen you in some time, Guardian. What business is it this time?”

“Where’s Muzureo?” Amaya asked, folding her arms and stepping back into Cian’s protective arms.

“Who wants to know?” A female spoke as Loczeh opened his mouth. Muzureo was beautifully tall with golden skin and flaming red hair, sharp red nails and blood coloured lips to match her deep crimson eyes. “Amaya?” Her perfectly shaped eyebrows rose. “What a surprise to see you here.”

“I have questions.”

“Don’t you always? Come, sit and drink with me. I’ll answer your questions later.” She sat upon the stool Loczeh had vacated and held her hand out. Instantly, a tall glass with orange liquid appeared. “Mmm…blooming fireberry.” She took a sip. “You should try some.”

“Thank you, but no thank you,” she replied, remaining where she stood. “I didn’t come here to drink. I came for answers.”

“You realise it is rude to turn down a drink when offered. Did no one teach you manners?”

“Muzureo—” Loczeh started, eyes darting to Cian.

“I have manners, but my body can’t handle the heat of that drink, you know this,” Amaya interrupted, stepping forward. “You owe me, Muzureo, or have you forgotten?” She knew she played with fire where Muzureo was concerned—literally—but she didn’t care. She needed her questions answered.

Muzureo narrowed her eyes. “You dare?”

“I dare,” Amaya challenged. “You tried to kill me once, and it backfired. Your word is oath.” The scar on her face burned with the memory. Muzureo had attacked her years before while she’d journeyed passed Qarkuma. As a demon who fed off emotions and blood to survive, Muzureo had been wounded and hungry, and saw Amaya as her next meal. She’d drawn her sword to fight off the demon, but Muzureo had been as quick as lightning, and turned Amaya’s attack on herself, resulting in her own blade cutting through her flesh. Cian had felt her pain, and had come to her rescue, saving her life. He’d wounded the demon near death but Amaya had stopped him from striking the death blow. Despite the blood pouring from her wound, she’d offered her blood to heal the demon, and the oath between them had formed as a result.

Amaya knew Muzureo hated to be in debt to anyone, especially a creature who’d spared her life out of pity.

Muzureo jumped up and, with her hand dripping fire, swung to strike. Just when Amaya felt the heat of flames stroke her face, a large hand closed around Muzureo’s fiery one, and the demon gasped in shock as Cian squeezed her hand in his. Fire flickered and flared as it licked his hand, plumes of black-grey smoke rising as the flames wounds their way around their hands like a snake.

Intense heat caressed Amaya’s flesh, but Cian’s hold didn’t waver. “Move to strike her one more time, and I will take your hand off.”

Muzureo pulled her hand from his grasp. Her eyes flicked between Amaya and Cian before she sat back down, resigned. “My oath is bond, ask away.”

Amaya’s heart beat hard. “The Ice Queen.”

Muzureo, Loczeh, and even Cian stiffened visibly.

“What of it?” Muzureo asked.

“What happened to her?”

She shrugged. “Legends say she perished, disappeared from the face of Khrellia.”

“I don’t want legends. I want fact.”

“The Ice Queen is but a legend, my sweet girl. It’ll do you well not to look too much into it.”

“You believe that as much as I do. I saw her, Muzureo, underneath Palacous.”

Once again, her brows rose. This time, less in surprise and more in shock. “You…”

“Saw her, stood at the head of a table, with everything around her frozen.” Amaya exhaled, remembering the surprise on her beautiful face. “What happened to her?”

Muzureo swallowed a mouthful of her drink before exhaling hard and long. Orange vapour left her mouth, curling and dancing in front of them. It spread over everything and everyone within the room.

Although Amaya felt Cian near her, she couldn’t see him through the smoke. Only Muzureo, who appeared translucent, seeming one with the illusion she created. The strong smell of fireberry filled Amaya’s nose when she inhaled, and her breath caught when a woman appeared before her, beautiful, tall and elegantly dressed in a floor length gown of shimmering silver. Her long, white hair twisted and plaited over one shoulder.

The Ice Queen.

Muzureo spoke as more of the illusion appeared, her voice reverberating inside Amaya’s head. “She is Queen Isolde.”

The Queen strode across the room and through a set of huge doors, and Amaya followed. Upon entering, she found herself within a massive room made solely of ice. She could see the walls were solid as stone and provided privacy for each separate room, yet strangely, natural light penetrated through the walls and shone through the room, leaving a glistening shine everywhere the eye could see.

Everything within the room was carved from ice, as if a master craftsman had spent his days here working away, yet Amaya could feel the magic that created it contorting the air, lifting the fine hairs on the back of her neck and arms.

Amaya expected to slip as she cautiously made her way through the room, but the floor felt comfortable beneath her, solid underfoot, as if even if she tried, she couldn’t slip.

At the other end of the grand hall, a staircase lead up to a huge door decorated with magical runes and signs. Two guardians woven from magic into armour of frost stood on either side of door holding Halberds. Amaya’s out stretched hand couldn’t have touched their chest plates if she stood on her toes, but her eyes reached towards the ceiling where the glistening Halberd points stretched high above the door pointing at the vaulted roof. Amaya knew though that these weapons would be wielded with deadly speed and strength if the need came to defend whatever lay behind the door.

Queen Isolde gathered the bottom of her dress in her hand as she ascended towards the giant ice guards. Amaya followed, eyes wide in wonder and excitement. What would happen once they reached the top? What magic lay beyond the heavily guarded door?

When Isolde reached the top, she dropped her dress and clasped her hands together. At once, the guards moved, straightening their halberds before Amaya’s eyes.

The door opened slowly to reveal a vast, ornate room, swaths of silver and pale blue cloth decorating the glacial white ceiling, where flurries of snow spun silently across the room. Pillars spiralled towards the ceiling in each corner of the room, vines of clear crystal twisting around it, and an intricate chair sculpted from the palest ice at the head of a raised dias. Everyone within the room bowed their heads in respect as their Queen passed.

Amaya jumped when Muzureo exhaled softly, having forgotten the illusion before her.

“She is a witch that, as you might have guessed already, has immense control over ice. She made beautiful structures and statues, and weapons sharp and deadly. She created the city of Ghutz.” Muzureo exhaled softly with a shake of her head. “Everyone loved her. Myself included.” She chuckled. “Yes, fire and ice, best friends and sisters, impossible as it seems. We were very close.”

Amongst the aquamarine glow of the room stood Muzureo, dressed in a red gown, a single rose growing through a blizzard’s snow drift, at Queen Isolde’s right side.

“Why is she, and everything around her, nothing but ice, lost beneath the snow of Palacous?” Amaya asked, her breath misting in front of her. She didn’t take her eyes of the Queen as she smiled at everyone within the room.

“You have to remember that she was well known. Well loved among all. There wasn’t anyone on this planet who didn’t know her name. As I said, everyone loved her…Nuare more so than others.”

Amaya’s eyes widened. “Nuare?”

He appeared, dressed in a suit that matched the Queens dress, red hair pulled back in a ponytail. He was handsome when he smiled, and bowed to kiss Isolde’s hand. Not the warlock Amaya knew him to be now, corrupted by greed, murder and power.

“My Queen,” Nuare spoke against her hand, staring deeply into her eyes.

“My dear, Nuare,” she murmured in return, eyes glittering in admiration.

Amaya turned away from the display of affection, heart hammering.

Muzureo nodded and sipped her drink. “They were lovers. He was besotted with her beauty and power, and she saw the kindness in his heart, but she never gave out hers. She knew the risks.”

“Risks?”

“If she gave her heart to Nuare, he’d have control over her and her magic. It’s an ageless curse passed down among the witches. Cursed to be forever alone. Forever unloved.”

The Queen, Nuare, and everyone in the room disappeared when Muzureo blew more spoke from her mouth. Another image formed. A great castle towering high into the sky, its frozen walls shimmering and shining, surrounded by trees of crystallised ice and shiny, clear fruit hanging from each branch like crystal ornaments.

Great, dark clouds rolled slowly above, and Amaya rubbed her arms as goosebumps skittered down her spine. Despite the beautify before her, the danger she knew would come made her stomach drop.

“A great evil cast a shadow among most of Khrellia, including her frozen city, although none of us could have known what evil grew among us.”

Queen Isolde appeared at the top of the stairs that led to her castle, eyes sparkling with worry while others waited patiently at the bottom. Muzureo stood a step below the Queen, head bowed, this time dressed in a deep red fur coat that trailed across the icy ground.

“Isolde felt threatened and unprotected, so hid herself, and her closest friends deep in a cave to protect her home and her people. As a fire demon, I could not go with her. Ice is poison to me.” Muzureo sighed as Queen Isolde wrapped her arms around Muzureo, eyes swimming with tears. “I promised to protect her location, and have done so, up until now.”

“You still have, I stumbled across her,” Amaya assured her.

She smiled. “No need to ease my worries. Her hideout, and protection, disappeared long before you were born. You see, she hid in a remote location far away from her home, but through ages of time, the ground beneath our feet has shifted and turned and her location disappeared, along with her.”

The image of Isolde and Muzureo hugging their goodbye changed. Large beasts appeared, mouths open wide with fire erupting from their mouths.

Amaya stumbled back, avoiding the blaze that would have scorched her entire body.

“The dragons met there downfall.”

Once more, the image changed back to the frozen city, now lost within the shadow of darkness that hung above it. The once shimmering trees in the courtyard, stood dull, almost lifeless. The apples lay shattered at the base of their trunks, forgotten.

“And the city of Ghatz crumbled in despair and ruin. I suspect her city fell when she became frozen.”

“So the city lived only because she did?” Amaya asked, surprised. Sadness spread through her like a whip, making her heart ache for the Queen she never knew.

“Her city was connected to her, heart, mind and soul,” she replied as the smoke began to dissipate, leaving them stood in the domed room once more.

Amaya chewed her lip and stared at her reflection in the mirror behind the bar. Seeing the Queen’s face reflected next to hers. “She was frozen in shock, or fear. Her hand outstretched.” She met Muzureo red eyes. “And everyone at the table sat frozen, halfway through eating, laughing or talking. They didn’t know.” That she was sure of.

“No, I suspect they didn’t. Isolde’s fear would have frozen them, and everyone in her kingdom. It was her way of protecting them. They cannot be broken nor can they be moved. It is a sight I wish never to see in any of my lifetimes again.”

“Do they know?”

“No, thankfully. Their minds are just as frozen as they are.”

“Except the Queen,” Cian added softly.

Muzureo met his eyes. “What do you know of Queen Isolde?”

“Nothing more than you’ve spoken. But I know magic. If she froze everyone to protect them, she would have had to freeze herself in order for them to remain protected. And we all know our abilities don’t work completely on ourselves. I could set flames upon you, and you will likely laugh, and likewise should you try it with me, as I’ve demonstrated. If the Queen was killed, then everyone frozen by her hands would have perished alongside her, just like her kingdom.”

Muzureo tapped her chin with a sharp nail. “You make a valid point, Siuhbeum.”

“So something scared her into freezing everyone, including herself?”

“Something…or someone.”

“Nuare?” His image appeared in her mind, not the handsome man dressed smartly, but of the monster she’d seen in a memory she wished to forget. Horned, ruined, and power hungry.

“I suspect so. The dark evil brewing among us, and his rise to power not long after the fall of Ghatz, is no coincidence. He wanted something of hers. Something he’d been after for quite some time. Something she refused to give him.”

“Her heart?”

“Unfortunately so. There are myths of a great weapon that enhances that which touches it. A great power to behold, for the wielder of the weapon.”

“But that’s a myth. There’s no truth in myths and legends,” Loczeh added, breaking his silence for the first time since Muzureo began her story.

Amaya closed her eyes, picturing the sword clearly, with the Queen’s heart encased in the dragons embrace. “I’ve seen it.” Silence met her words and she opened her eyes. “I’ve seen it,” she repeated. “The sword.”

“That’s impossible,” Loczeh stated.

“I’ve seen the blade, silver with markings, and a black hilt in which a dragon sits upon it, encased in obsidian and surrounded by dragons fire.”

Muzureo eye’s widened a fraction. “Then we can count ourselves lucky. I am the only one who can retrieve the sword and I plan to do no such thing.”

“You forget, Nuare is after the sword,” Cian murmured. For brief second, his eyes flashed.

Amaya felt a warning through their link. Cian sensed something, and it wasn’t good. She checked over her shoulder, but saw nothing out of the ordinary except thick, grey-black smoke that twisted and turned outside the arched entrance, obscuring the view of lava trees, and volcano’s in the distance.

“And without the Queen’s heart to activate its great power, it is useless to him. She is frozen and her heart protected.”

“Nuare already took her heart and the dragon protects it now,” Amaya told her as Cian placed a hand on her shoulder, easing her worries. She hated to see the fear etch its way across Muzureo’s beautiful face. “Nuare only needs your fire to break the obsidian and he has the most powerful weapon on Khrellia.”

“He will not get it!” She jumped to her feet, flames erupting from her hands. In a matter of seconds, they covered her entire body. Her hair whipped around her like a fiery storm and thunder rumbled loudly, causing the entire building to shake and crack when her orange eyes ignited like a volcano.

Amaya stumbled back and Cian steadied her, his aura pulsing strongly around her, when a whistle of air whipped past her ear, lifting the hair in front of her face.

Muzureo gasped and the fire surrounding her extinguished as quickly as she’d conjured them. She looked down at her chest, and grasped the end of a jagged piece of ice protruding from her skin. “Bunm, Nuare.” She collapsed, and Loczoh jumped forward to catch her before she hit the floor.

Cian and Amaya whirled around to face the tall, near skeletal demons entering the building with their sharp, jagged weapons drawn. Cian roared with the force that knocked them straight off their feet while Amaya jumped forward, drawing her sword and swinging it at the demon holding a bone bow. As its head hit the ground, she spun and her blade cut through another demon with ease. She kicked its body towards a creature close to her, and knocked it off its feet. In the same beat, she swung her sword, cutting the neck of a demon behind her and stabbed another that took its place.

From across the building, Cian grabbed one of the grotesque creatures around the neck and its entire body lit up in flames. The demons closest shrank back, their mouths open to reveal their sharp teeth. When the creature he held was nothing more than ash, he pulled his own sword from his back. Botzhukzeam. Destruction.

Amaya ducked an attack and lifted her sword to deflect another demon as it swung its sword. Her shield activated upon impact and the demon flew across the room, hitting the wall with a sickening crunch. She turned to see Cian dispose of the last standing demon, chopping through it easily. He met her eyes, and she knew he was reassuring himself she was okay and unharmed. She likewise assessed him.

Amaya wiped her blade on the tattered clothing one of the demons wore before she sheathed her weapon and rushed across the room to where Muzureo lay, breathing heavily. She knelt on the other side of Loczeh who dropped the dagger he held to grasp Muzureo’s hand as she gasped. No demon would have gotten close to her with the speed he wielded. “What can I do?”

“Ice is poison to her! There is nothing you can do,” Loczeh told her.

“Imb…a…” Muzureo gasped, her red lips turning blue in front of their eyes.

“What?”

“Imb’ma, the water nymph…a healer,” Loczeh answered. He stared down at her. “You don’t know if she can help.”

“Have…to…can’t die…weapon…” she gasped and moaned, tears streaming down her face. They froze before they hit the floor, shattering into a million tiny pieces.

“You have to die for Nuare to take your fire, don’t you?” Amaya asked.

She nodded weakly. “Can’t…let him…have weap…on.”

Amaya took hold of her other hand. “Where’s Imb’ma? Where can I find her?”

Muzureo turned to Loczeh, eyes wide and pleading. “Deep in the springs of Xuzoh,” he replied for her, never taking his eyes from hers. “Her home is the fountain of Yaizu.”

Amaya nodded and stood. “Can you keep her alive and safe until my return?”

Loczeh met her eyes, his brows raised. “We have healers who can keep her from death, but we will all be unprotected should Nuare decided to show up.” His eyes darkened. “His minions I can take care of, but Nuare is a power unto himself.”

“I will remain,” Cian told him.

Amaya turned to him. “You won’t be accompanying me?”

Cian smiled and stroked her cheek. “I believe you can do this, and I believe this is something you can do on your own. Muzureo needs me here.” Cian kissed her gently. “Even from afar, I can sense when you’re in danger. If you should call, I will be there within seconds.”

“Okay, will you take me?” At Cian’s nod, Amaya inhaled deeply, taking a long look at Muzureo, whose colour had paled alarmingly. “I’ll find Imb’ma, I promise.”

“How will you get there without aid?” Loczeh asked.

“I will transport her there,” Cian replied, placing a hand on Amaya’s neck. He needed skin to skin contact to be able to do it.

Loczeh watched with wide, wonderous eyes as as fire erupted from Cian’s hands, surrounding Amaya completely. She saw nothing but flames and knew nothing but heat, until the flames died down, and she no longer stood in the domed-shaped building within the heart of the hottest part of Khrellia. Instead, she stood waist deep in clear water. Different shades of greens and blues met her eyes, luscious flowers and beautiful trees reaching towards the bright blue sky above.

Large, lapis blue eyes stared at her from between the tall leaves of a plant. The eyes blinked once before a tiny face covered in a pattern of scales emerged, beautiful long sea-weed green hair twisting around her tiny body.

“I’m here to see Imb’ma,” Amaya told the tiny creature clearly.

She tilted her head to the side, never breaking eye contact, but made no move to show she understood.

“Muzureo is in danger, please,” she pleaded.

“Muzureo?” The tiny creature asked, revealing more of herself as she stepped fully from the plant.

“Yes, yes, she’s been poisoned,” she replied hurriedly. “Please, I need Imb’ma.”

“I take you. You carry me,” the creature told her and before Amaya could do anything, she scuttled up her arm until she reached her shoulder. “Nice hair. Pretty hair.” She smiled a tiny smile and then pointed ahead of her. “Go. Must hurry. Dangerous here. Be ready.”

Amaya nodded, slightly uncomfortable with the tiny creature in close proximity but pushed down the feeling and followed the tiny creatures direction.


Fire Sentinel (A Sacred Journey Short Story Book 2)

  • Author: Erin Maxwell
  • Published: 2017-05-26 09:20:09
  • Words: 4422
Fire Sentinel (A Sacred Journey Short Story Book 2) Fire Sentinel (A Sacred Journey Short Story Book 2)