06 February 2009

Merlin. 5 - Fairgrove


Troy: “I saw a vision inside of it, what is the cauldron for?”

Merlin: “to see things far away”

Troy: “it looks like a surface of water, but when I touched it, it froze solid and the image vanished.”

Merlin: “when he would hit it with his hammer it would freeze. That is why the doors exist.”

Troy writes into his journal - {: it freezes on impact and fractures but through melting, slowly returns to a watery vision pool. You may then again witness it. }

By the account of Merlin, the time had passed long enough so that they could continue their wandering through the golden field. As time proceeds, they find themselves encroaching into a marsh area with scattered trees and a rocky terrain with a river leading into the distance running along the hillside. They soon find a path that leads them to a hillside road that follows the river upstream.

Suddenly a bright and large blue flaming phoenix flies into the rocky hillside beyond them crashing with the impact sounding loudly, like someone fluffing a pillow only once. A plume of smoke billows from the distance. As they near a crater of smoke and ash, the largest pile begins to water-soak from within and a small grey phoenix of rebirth begins to roll out and emerge.

Troy: “what is it?”

Merlin: “A phoenix and it’s your new pet.”

Troy: “but is it dangerous?”

Merlin: “not yet”

Troy walks towards the impacts site, which has burnt back the grounds surface, in a circular ring of destruction, the ground still too hot to approach. Eventually it cools enough that he can approach without damage to the souls of his feet. He reaches into his sleeve and pulls out a Pomegranate. While he breaks it open, he leans in and begins to feed the fruits internal delights to the fledgling bird. The bird appeased, crawls out of the ashes and begins to make leaps small distances, still yet unable to fly. As they notice, it begins running about, stumbling and rolling about on occasion. As the moments pass, it begins leaping loftily around them.

The bird was small enough to have hatched from an egg laid by creature that had fallen moments prior. From the impact of the bird, the dying phoenix had not only scorched the ground in places, but also in others turned the earth and stone into Obsidian. Merlin extends his hand and raises a piece of the newly formed black shining earth and with the other, pulls a dagger from under his cloak. Holding the blade out with the sharpness turned away from him after a small motion of his other hand he begins to spin the darkened and shining burnt earth, shaving its edges, nearly until it is a perfect sphere twice the size of the fledgling fire fowl. After doing so he grasps the ball, causing the remaining debris to shed a light dusting unto his hand slightly, then takes a piece of leather from inside Troy’s bag, a piece he had put there after a meal a few days earlier, cuts the leather patch in two, then replaces the dagger to its resting place. He gives the lesser half of the piece to Troy.


Merlin: “take this and wrap the bird up in a small sack until it can sit on your shoulder and to tie to your belt.”

Troy: “Is it safe?”

Merlin, holding the leather in his hand picks up the ball and stands in front of troy with the fingers of his second hand dancing, as if he were moving it with his mind and playing with the solitary ball.

Merlin: “if it lays an egg you must tell me immediately”

Troy leans in offering the bird another piece of the fruit, while holding the leather in the other hand, urging it to feed itself. While crouched over, the bird leaps to his shoulder.

Troy: “What should I do?”

Merlin: “The bird is safe there. Do not run anywhere, just yet, while is still small and white. You will notice once it becomes a bit cleaner.”

Merlin spins the dark rock into a perfect and shining sphere. It casts a light one direction onto the ground and is so smooth that troy can see his reflection in it. They, including their new avian, stare into it dazedly as it slows down to a halt.

Troy: “It’s a trap for big burglars?”

Merlin: “There are a few uses for this, but for now it is pretty yes?”

Troy: “yes it is… Is that how the medusa guards made these?”

Merlin: “Yes, but we should leave this impact before anyone sees us here.”

Troy shows one of the marbles to Merlin and the smallish bird, leaping from his roost on Troy’s shoulder, snatches and eats it, landing head first on the ground in a hazardous roll. Troy kneels with his hands cupped offering to pick the bird up. Without any haste, it quickly runs up his arm and leans into his head. He returns to his feet, the bird hanging to his hair by its beak in order to stay perched on his shoulder, and turns to Merlin.

Troy: “did it just eat that?

Merlin: “yes but it is fine. It was bone.”

Merlin with a smile puts the newly formed Obsidian sphere, into his sack. He proceeds to makes two more of close size and gathers a few pieces in their natural form and ads them to his pouch. He snatches the extra piece of leather from troy, begins to gather a pile of the broken obsidian dust and ash from the ground, and ties it to his waist. Then taking a stance, looking ahead he begins to walk on. Troy amazed attempts to dust the bird, occasionally feeding it more fruit pieces, and then finally catching up with Merlin.

Merlin: “this will be good for a thief if not for a trade.”

They begin again on their way along the dirt path. The lone sun, looming above the horizon, finally sets to reveal a large city, likely the site of a nation capital. From where they stand, they can tell the city is still several days away. As they watch, it begins to look more and more like a modern city as lights begin to glow in, on and around it.

Merlin begins a fire and troy, takes up a branch and begins making a crude spear attaching it to his rope, heading toward the river. His javelin skewers a large reddish-golden fish and brings it to the fire. They eat the fish giving the remainders to the bird who sits almost directly in the fire.

Merlin: “now that you have had the beast, you can speak to its soul and control its bones. Try to raise the bones away from the bird without contact.”

Troy: “how do you suppose I raise a dead bird Merlin?”

Merlin: “When I say to you raise I mean lift boy. Try to will it to move”

Troy begins to imagine the bones being lighter and then flying eventually closing his eyes and contorting his face awkwardly as Merlin looks on. He looks to Merlin who immediately points back to the bones and amazingly, he calmly and unwittingly urges the scraps to jump from in front of the bird and into the fire. The frantic bird immediately chases the pile to where it lies, Troy moves them again, this time raising them away from the ground, lifting the clinging bird and stretching its neck as it tugs back finally lashing about. The bird intended the bone, to be broken for its inner marrow. In midair, eventually the bird breaks free of the brawl with a piece from the bone’s and swallows it whole, whilst the remaining collective pieces fall into the fire. The young bird follows them directly into the flames and retrieves them, swallowing the last possible pieces, some that had a visible flame, with its head tipped back, and then rolling around in the ash for amusement.

Merlin shows him how to make a marble from the bones, and the young apprentice spends much of the night trying to make one that is perfectly round. Merlin occasionally takes one here or there, perfects it, and polishes it occasionally making it glow a dark mixture of black and red, then placing it into his pocket. Troy though occupied with wearing pebbles to dust, lays eager to see the people of the city ahead whom Merlin might trade the pearls. In between, he eats more and remembers the Confrontation between Merlin and the two ‘would be thieves’, days earlier. Merlin sets aside some of the scales and the tail.

Under a sky of countless stars, after having an unnecessary altercation with the head of the fish, the bird sleeps often and long once, it has its fill. In the Morning, a cold Merlin, wretched awkwardly across a pile of rocks, wakes first. He sees Troy, with his bird against his head, surrounded by broken pebbles and a pile of dust. The dust is scattered and covers the whitish bird and most of Troy’s head. In the distance, again too far for the apprentice to see, Merlin, using a magically cast eagle’s sight, can see an old man and two younger ones holding torches, fishing with poles with netted rings at the end. The river leads past them towards the city.

A new doubled dawn rises to show them new warmth. The bird lets out a tiny squawk and bounces around almost happily, to the sight of the double suns. Standing on both of its feet, it stretches it wings out, holds its head high, and mystically grows a third of its size larger stretching and laughing. The sound of the screeching bird wakes troy, he tosses his feathered friend into the river, and it swims under and then launches out of the water’s surface and back to the smoldering fire, picking at and playing in the dying embers. Troy who watched intently notices that the Phoenix has grown almost a dozen golden feathers on its back as Merlin walks over to a tree and cuts off a piece of bark. He walks back while breaking it into pieces and gives them to the phoenix that cautiously picks apart the meal wasting much of it pecking the wood apart more than it eats but ingesting some of the arboreal flesh.

Merlin: “An easy pet to keep but they eat the eggs here so try not to misplace any and be sure to let me know about any it makes.”

Troy: “Of course I will. We could wait here and warm up. Are we ready to go?”

Merlin: “I was ready before the morn. I was waiting for the bird.”

Merlin leads the hike along the river, in the direction of the city that hides behind the second larger blood red sun. The second sun, which seems to be the one that lit the sunset the day before, was smaller and now seemed to burn a glowing green above the other. The three strangers were all now fishing together, running frantically back and forth from their spot in the river to a position at its edge. Each had their own nets, walking to the shore, and piling the fish onto a large pelt, eating handfuls as they went. They approached to find that it is a tiny fish no larger than a coin, with a glowing white stripe, that the two could see, even in the bright sun.

Old man: “You can take a handful with you if you’d like. It’ll be the last time they’ll be free before the city.”

Merlin: “How far is it to your city?”

Merlin takes a handful and puts them into his pocket as Troy does the same. Occasionally, while the old man is distracted, and the others are heading back into the river he grabs another handful with his phoenix in the other.

Old man: “it is about 2 days walk towards where the sun sits. Follow the river. where it bends you’ll be able to see the city however bright it may be.”

Troy feeds raw fish to his hungry pet that enjoys them quite much as Merlin wastes no time enjoying the small and shiny fish heartily himself. They walk along the steep riverbank at a somewhat slow pace with the hillside path being narrow and damp. The flourishing trees along the swift banks are tall and straight, growing branches where only birds could find seat. Their trunks are white with cracks that often reach around the eerie trees as if painted and grew overnight. Troy imagined them as lighting upside down among the sight of the odd colored horizon.

Another night, bright as day, passes lessening Troy’s silverfish keep with frequent but short visits from tiny crossbreeds of cats and dogs, who climb the trees up and down collecting seed eager to watch their party walk along the river. Another, albeit endless, morning comes and once again troy and his bird rest serenely, together near a dying fire, with a pile of dust and pebbles next to him once again. This time the bird has eaten his full of meat and marrow and lays out across the mess on its back engorged and unconscious.

The sky begins to sway as the heavens turn dark in a colorful phase of green to blue and lastly to black. It begins to rain, much to the disappointment of the bird, which starts a slow irritating series of howls, that some might describe as a crude song. The uneven clucking eventually stops and it begins attempting to fly in the downpour. Clumsy at first, the bird begins mastering its dexterity, many times being thrown to the ground either from the rain or the wind.

As the two men look out, they see the river turn up into the mountain. The water filled with salmon jumping at the raindrops as if they were flies and the city in the distance below, its lights coming on and strangely enough, off again.

Troy: “like glow-flies after the storm”

Merlin: “like people shutting their windows. You’re going first.”

At that time, they notice the bird has become an intermediate at mastering its flying abilities, as it flies in front of them. It turns their attention to the city when stricken by lightning, without incident. Unscathed, It circles again, lands across the river, and walks into the water enough so that it can take a fish, one small enough for it to grasp in one of its claws, and take it off into the distance only to scourge it.

Below the city, one can see the vague design of cattle and crop, fence and farm, designed in a concise pattern. An endless coastline, lined with mountains standing aside the city and their river running. In the distance up along the coast, the land turns to winter and they can see an intense winter storm and its snowy squall ridden with lightning. Looking back across the city from above, its design is like a spider web in a perfect pattern. The city center is closer to the coast than its border to the farms. Its roads evenly measured, in every line of its streets.

Merlin looks to Troy as he points over to the city. Troy reluctantly wades into the water that he finds is waist deep and colder than he expected with a strong current, but eventually crosses. Merlin enters the water, but as he does, he holds out the dark orb before him, causing the water to remit around him as low as his knees.

As they come closer to the city, a beam of light reaches into the sky and burns out a hole in the storm that rolls the clouds back in an even circle, directly from the source near the center of the city. The sky, where once was day was clear night and full of stars.

Troy whistles for his bird and it comes back to his shoulder. He opens his pack and ushers the bird in with the rest of the fish from his pocket and it follows into the bag. As he wears the bag in front of him, the bird makes no sounds of objection and they walk on toward the city heading to the nearest road among the stockyards.

Many of the paths among the cattle had guards on steeds. Ranchers, patrolling slowly in the rain and one of them soon came to meet them as they trudged through the soil. As they looked upon him, Troy notices that he vaguely resembled them but was, in a slight way, different. Taller and less tinted than two suns would make a man, with a large brimmed hat like Merlin’s but without the pointed space for stolen trinkets. Among several odd things, not common to the world past visited, was his boots had an added heel that his had not. Sturdy layers, which would help the rider, stand taller. Immensely, the most odd was the riders coat was full length from his feet to his shoulders with another sewn layer, draped across his shoulders, made from some cloth, woven in a stitch much tighter than any seamstress could do.

The cities lights loomed over its walls and showed signs of motion behind the walls, which were no parapet but tall and smooth metal walls, many buildings tall. Merlin walked past him looking up only once and Troy followed him not far behind. The deluge began to offer the land more lightning, which only caused the bird to fall asleep. He notices the gates were massive weighted gates from which large raised floating doors, hung at the entrance to the city. As they finally came close enough, he found the presence of only one solitary guard per gate. Each man thin as a door themselves but taller than him, an obvious stoic opponent in any confrontation. They stood, each with a staff, as tall as they were, beside them, with a glowing light emanating from the end, which pointed upward.