Part 3: Terashan
Looking back along his own dream-path, into the distance, he could see the tendrils of that murky, shadow mass probing at the water’s edge encircling all the crystal realms of Terashan. It seemed the water itself recoiled, the tendrils of evil seeming to boil and steam, revealing disturbing and inexpressibly horrible shapes before they drew back like a wounded animal. When he tried to see more clearly, a monstrous, bestial sound grated across his nerves.
J’Ramzœ spoke the spells that lifted him out of the dreamscape and looked back one more time as he exited. He was surprised and rather pleased by the image he saw of his own fading dream form. He knew he was never so handsome or glowing in reality, no one could be. It was completely different from the rather squalid impression his dream form had given when he was under the binding curses of Razrushtel. The light and harmonics of the living crystal’s majicks and of his pure motives had transformed his dream form.
In the many cycles that followed, J’Ramzœ built up his kingdom with the help of his new brethren from The Empire of the Aledde. In gratitude, he renamed his kingdom — Allyrs’rahm, meaning “Allyr’s Rod” for Emperor M’Allyr, Father King of the Aledde. And, though The Oskvernyat empire refused to formalize a peace accord, the attacks seemed to have stopped. But, in the dreamscape, he could still see the probing and incursion of those stygian tentacles inching ever closer to his kingdom. J’Ramzœ’s gratitude to the Aledde was as boundless as the sorrow that he’d been unable to bring this hope to his now vanished castle lords. It struck him then, that he’d not even seen them in the dreamscape. They had simply ceased to exist. But, his citizenry now had a vigor they’d never known before. In the dreamscape, each citizen could be seen as a point of light. And, the new castle lords brought new life and laughter to his royal court, so far removed from the malicious, guttural emanations that had passed for humorous reactions before. He’d never realized laughter had been missing from his kingdom. This was proper laughter, filled with happiness and playful intent and with shining, friendly expressions.
It was dozens of cycles before the attacks began again. J’Ramzœ still felt strong, but saw the aged reflection looking back at him from the mirror. Over recent cycles, J’Ramzœ had seen the rising tide of crimson tinging many kingdoms in the dreamscape, which he interpreted as the tide of war. In the waking world, wars were rumored across the realms, brief but stunning in their ferocity. At the edge of every crimson tinged kingdom in the dreamscape, tortuous, twisting shadow tendrils prodded and, in some cases gripped the kingdoms. Even at the edges of his own kingdom, those stygian tentacles probed and prodded, encroaching around the villages. The Oskvernyat Empire was massing their black majicks and prodding the realms to war again. Then, all out war between the empires raged for a full cycle. Shadows were growing again in the corners of his keep. And, Razrushtel’s whispers came to him from those shadowed corners, tormenting him — promising doom to his Aledde brethren, and the shadowed protuberances stretched forth to engulf his kingdom again, one castle at a time. His people, his castle lords began to be vanished. He was so weary of dread and war… at times, he wanted to remain in the dreamscape, dive into the waters of the living crystal there and remain until his body in the waking world dies. But, J’Ramzœ could see that The Empire of the Aledde was Razrushtel’s main target. He could see that throng of oily-seeming tentacles massing the flank between Aledde and his own kingdom, the borders of the Oskvernyat Empire creeping ever forward, closer to Aledde. The thought that Aledde could be brought down, mired in the weight of Razrushtel’s binding curses made something in J’Ramzœ turn cold and sick feeling. Much as he longed to give up fighting, he could not let Aledde fall because of him.
Though death in the dreamscape had given him new and youthful life the last time, he had no way of knowing if he would again revive if he died once more in the dreamscape. Regardless, J’Ramzœ felt a Knowing that the real death of his body would mean a final end. War was raging outside the dreamscape, real and devastating. The lights of his brethren were dimmed and several had ceased to be. He’d lived a full life with his Aledde brethren and was again an old man. Those who yet survived were also aged and strain was etched in each face. They and all taken council with him and understood the danger of his next desperate gambit. As they somberly encircled him and wished him godspeed, J’Ramzœ again entered the dreamscape, leaving his remaining castle lords to watch over his real body. Weakened and disheartened though they all were, they swore to defend his body to the last defender. He did not know if his strength would carry both his kingdom and Aledde away, especially since he could give the other kingdom no forewarning of his intent. Gathering the crystal energies of the dreamscape, J’Ramzœ immersed himself in the majicks of the living crystal and began his spells. He wrenched his kingdom away, across the realms of the Great Empire, reaching back with a part of himself to pull Aledde with him.
The weight was too much. Aledde dragged at him and he saw greasy tendrils of the foul mass holding the edges of Aledde. In that moment, he crafted new and original spells to shear away those tendrils. Every touch of his mind at them burned like acid across every nerve. He reached called up waters of the living crystal, beating them against the tendrils which boiled and writhed, but held fast. A searing blaze of searing green fire and foul wind burst across the dreamscape and enveloped him. He used it to cut the tendrils free of Aledde and the mass fell back with a chorus of banshee screams within his mind. He was falling… and the kingdoms were coming apart…
And then… then, a presence was there. The presences was a Power like he’d never sensed before. He felt himself cradled as a child by the Power as it pulled the kingdoms back together, and did not so much move them as it transitioned the kingdoms to a place far north of the center of Terashan. He saw both kingdoms shining clean and free of the dark mass as he felt himself fading, saw his form shredding as a cloud torn apart by the wind. He clung to the sense that his people were freed and made whole again.
Pencil drawing, c. October 2000, by D. Denise Dianaty
Find pt2 here: https://steemit.com/writing/@momzillanc/the-saga-of-terashan-and-the-crystal-empires-chp1-pt2
Story © 25 October 2019, by D. Denise Dianaty