Merlin 2:36 “Inside the City of Glass”
Two boys and a girl of kindred spirit and age of kith in youth run and play in an endless meadow, they play a game where the last one touched it the next to touch the next, nearby them is the forest and their home. A day in distance as the crow flies is a largess mountain and at its peak is a white castle small to their small eyes. They hold hands and dance encircling themselves with giddy rote, the weak grass bends beneath them as they release handheld games to fall on the golden glade. In their distance is a torch stuck firmly in the earth, a wooden staff split atop it beholding a frosty stone, radiant starlight shines from its quotidian center, and a steel cap over the magical stone bound by thin steel cables to avoid becoming diffident and minatory. Between the shadows of the branch the light cast reflects on the snow falling and gathering, the little children notice it and investigate. It snows in the sphere of eminence by the cold the light creates, colder becomes the air by each their steps of curiosity, the moisture of air crystalize and increase with the breeze as one of the boys pulls his hat from his pocket and closes his overcoat in the pleasant pasture. With deference and timidity he watches a snowflake touch his skin to melt, closer with much forbidding from his friends the boy kicks the cold lantern to the ground where the blades of grass shatter like glass, wherein he lifts the light by the utmost end and runs to his village with his vociferous allies in pursuit.
Within the base of the mountain, the caves amortize light, unlike the others Ana has perspicacity in the darkness, her night vision she follows her fellows up the tunnel and watches Merlin grab Nickolas and pull him alongside the front of the posse. He pulls a chain from his vestment that has a ring dangling from it, which glows ocean blue on the painted walls of the subterranean conduit, elegant paintings of extrajudicial executions entering the earth.
A light at the end of the tunnel, the sound of soldiers summons anxiety thru the aversion for combat, but it is only three drinking servants in a small cave cellar, which from it departs two adjacently upward tunnels. As they notice Merlin and Nickolas, they clamor to their knives in mean to intimidation and Ana enters the room by the grace of consternation.
Ana: “Stand well errant, I am loth to know, which is the way to the throne?”
Baker: “…but ma’am, are you Etain?”
Ana: “Of bloody course, else not would I’ve danced in the grave land!”
Baker: “This’n here is to the hall, and that’n to the court.”
Quinn and his men hide in the harrowing tunnel, hallowed apart by darkness and determination.
Ana: “…and what will you do if the commoners somehow have followed me?”
Baker: “"They won't escape until the blood is set free."
Ana turns on her feet, walks to the right of where she recently stood, and enters to the rising hallway duly right, Nickolas takes the chain from Merlin, and chokes the guard with it as Quinn’s men rush the small cave and silence the remaining. By his gesture, half of Quinn’s men move into the left tunnel, as Quinn and Merlin and the other wayfarers follow Ana.
Aghen leads the troop without Quinn, the upward ramp is short and near a cold mountain air where the bright light of morning shines on a courtyard encompassed by a lengthy rectangular hallway encased by a wall with several exits. Across from the cold stonewall are pillars few and far between, holding a second balcony, but by the magic of the wintry witch there are two more levels made entirely of ice above those built of stone, and amidst the courtyard there is a masonic pond filled and frozen solid. Across the pond hangs the hall doors, open and revealing their insurgence, it is here in an instant the battle for their lives begins.
Halle elsewhere stands in her chambers solemnly and resolute with the nightmare blade, it shines the light of torches and sharp glare, holding the handle she lifts her empty hand and waves the point of the dagger over her palm as she watches the distant children at the edge of the plain enter the forest with her stolen torch. As to scratch her skin with the tip the metal passes thru the skin of her fingertips, without blood or spoken blasphemy it passes painlessly intransitive with the threshold of the flesh emitting intemperate light. Scrolls clutter a table in her room where she pours a libation to misinfer assignation as she walks to a room of scribes and scriveners dutifully looking thru books and writing notes of sacred quotes, listing the places and the languages needed and translating the writ by thus decree of imperialism sends.
As Merlin and his allies quickly pass, thru hallways, Nickolas is last in line as they search for enemies and the ice witch, he diverts from the fellowship when a knight catches his attention, he jogs toward the soldier of small figure unbeknownst of the trap he hath triggered. For the antechamber of the court is stockade with healthy recruits now warned of Nickolas arriving. The foyer is a hall before the doors of the court, which has two hallways that wrap around the royal chamber, thus with the main door shut any number of warriors can angle their attack from two defilades. They stab and cleave Nickolas to yet another of his deaths then begin to unleash arrows at Quinn’s rebellion insurgency, they toss tables and furniture and retreat to the corners of exits to avoid projectile penetrations, Merlin behind a table stops arrows his way with the magic of wind as Quinn’s troop returns the favor. Behind them, the enemies who have fled from Quinn’s second group begin to attack behindhand.
The generals under self-imposed imperial pressure gathered in a regency council in the royal court as the ice sorceress mavens, is consigned to lordship with title no less than war, the table across the floor infrontof a seat of gold has no less than twenty soldiers of professional fortune armed to the teeth. On the throne presiding a menacing warlord of lesser abdication, behind him hangs the bloodstained banner of war upon it an embossed gold battleax. The tyrant king and his rooks take upon this battle an impressment by honor and duty, cherishing death in determination and bandying their bolt throwers, broadswords, and starflower maces, to take outright a strong fight.
Nickolas rises from the dead to upset the fortified advantage, he kills six before they merely think that he, in bloody ragged wares, is not dead and thereby decide to kill him again, two rooks pass him and then three, and then doth he stealth into their court. Nickolas kills three then runs across the court to the other door and kills two rooks and two others by assassination until slain and thrown into the court before the minister of war.
In the upper levels, stone recedes where ice walls and sculptured pillars of serpents with eyes of eternity adorn the manse macabre, where alarmists cause a spate of reinforcements by alarming the morning slumberous of quarters and barracks into capricious warfare.
Ophiuchus is the emir of the mercenary council and emissary of the insidious and didactic witch of ice magic, but he is both meticulous and unawares, tho ubiquitous in disposition. Silent in minutiae he toils with runes around a dead body on a sacrificial altar made of cloudy ice, across the table there is a wall of transparent ice that as Ophiuchus idylls a scaly black snake coils and foils thru the frigid water. The corpse on the dry ice is one of Halle’s mercenaries, imparted with black magic, venomous blood the one of death becomes a Draugur, whose skin becomes youthful, and eyes become shadowed. Ophiuchus opens a box containing three magical orbs and in doing so invites the ire of the aqualung viperine behind ice that swiftly swims then stops at the ice window to see oviparous illumines.
In the lands to one side of the mountains daylight dies, revealing the ashen clouds are in fact the smoke of the burning forest, now thru hamlets and towns, scorching at the foothills. Nickolas rises to fight the warlord in the throne room, he swings his fist to miss from behind his foe, he angrily swipes again, misses twice, then thrice, and blocked his third, then blocked are all his attacks at strikes counting seven times, then nine, then eleven. Fit they are both in combat that neither places deathly advantage to the other that Merlin and others watch them deflect contusion and toss each other around the room, in a good volley Quinn’s archers fill the sinister minister with arrows from toe to head. Nickolas unsatisfied slaps his hands to the ground and enters the doorway buried behind the disrupted thrones without words, sneaking for another fight he silently discovers Ophiuchus.
A shadowy room with lacquer work for opulent nickel and brass, lacuna lacustrine, laddish Nick hides, lack eventide and morrow as faint smoke from candles flows to the ceiling.
Ophiuchus: “I promised you would return.”
Draugur: “Gone I was, how long?”
Ophiuchus: “You have had three weeks staring in modicum. I have something for you, take this orb and let no one who sees it survive, or I will take it from you. Now tell me how you feel.”
Halle bursts into the altar room with determinate frustrations and indefinite anger, as she passes she extends her arm and circles her fingers, the chilly aquarium does not pour from window but the massive black snake exfiltrates the icy prison and onto the floor sleeking into the room.
Ophiuchus: “What are you doing?”
Halle: “If you haven’t fie noticed there’re hundreds of spies within my fortress, the mountainside is a furious blaze, and because the walls are ice, there is a man hiding from you in this room.”
Nickolas shouts in terror and leaps over an empty slab to avoid the snake, Ophiuchus approaches him as she takes the two remaining orbs and stands by the door.
Halle: “Have not here your dalliance, go destroy all.”
By the time the draugur and the termagant can acknowledge her, she is vanished.
Merlin walks the ice caves inside the city of glass underneath concave crystalline ceilings, remit to using wind in the cold halls on each random passing foe, he carries a spark that crawls on his fingertips as each wave along the other, his steps thereof slide along the saturnine floor adroit most adrift. Halle, however, throws aside a crimson fabric to reveal two large challises filled with blood and solidly frozen, she wipes the rid ice clean with her hand making them instantly melt to liquid form, and she rests each sphere separately. The orbs begin to spin and coat in sanguine blood that blackens as each levitates from the overflowing cups, the ground shifts and the castle rumbles, in of the fires nigh and anon all whom are wake are witness, she raises her arms in conductive ceremony and branches of black lightning arc twixt the spheres. Again, the castle trembles as she summons a dispiriting cold in the skies and the hearth of her winter bastion.
Halle spins round to stare with a primordial loathing as she begins a new courtesan recant, pacing death’s trail through desperate abattoir, the infiltrators set fires sating hateful desires, a sanctuary of cold becomes aglow within the night. The sycophants beholden to the white witch battle Quinn second to defending themselves from Merlin, he blinds knaves and thwarts the path of arrows in patience verily divine, culling malfeasance of rotten leaders beyond incarceration by the similarity of murder and the reclusion of contagion. The flames of doors and the dead burn against ice and immolation, a scene of fallen scape, the fascicular papers flipping in the winds of chaos, festal gage against the wage troth by partisan vengeances. As the tidings of slow connotation bind the cold shadows of dawn over the mountains of darkness, Merlin enters the open doors of the altar room where Halle conducts the actions of sorcery unabashedly. Her hands are coursing with the blood of ages of frozen rage, the manna of her powers and invocation slowly disintegrates the banners behind her altar, and the castle lowly creaks again.
Merlin: “The cold does not keep the snow from falling.”
Halle: “You absolve me, you cannot trick me, unlike the devil, and you do not exist.”
Merlin: “Of where it was that comes and goes, if all your friends and foes that no one knows.”
Halle: “Clerisy halcyon gone, meiotic question, arcana set the make against what magnifies faith.”
Merlin: “Leave, could you, bereaved but unscathed.”
Halle: “Mystery me.”
Merlin: “More has been made clear these last few months, in realms I dared not examine, than ever before in this existence.”
Halle: “I know what you want now, I understand better who you are, and it is beautiful, you are the loveliest, and I see how we can be.”
From her scurrilous hand, she throws golden coins at Merlin, which are heavier than air and stronger than the winds to that he summons. Of what does bode in his judgment reprieve he clasps one with his fingers, but the tokens are ensorcelled in bellicose hex and by twines of lighting bridging between the chits bound is he by violet lightning on palatial ice.