Chapter 2, Part 1: The Shift
“He is insubstantial… wraithlike.” said an elderly, pensive male voice.
A pensive, young female voice asked, “Have we lost him?”
“I cannot tell for certain,” said a second, rasping male voice, “Insubstantial though his form is, he seems still to be breathing.”
Yet another, male voice called from a near distance, “Lady Sha’Do, during the Shift, I saw your brother, Tir’Zukor, become a wraith and fade from existence before me.”
The young woman’s voice sobbed lightly and asked, “Were many were lost in the Shift?”
Yes… many are just gone, like Tir’Zukor” an older woman’s voice replied.
“And, our king may follow them soon,” rumbled one of the older men’s voices.
The male’s voice continued his report, “We few are all who remain in Allyrs’rahm. Soran and K’Aigh went back to Aledde, which we think faired better. However, all who survived have been strengthened and our majicks returned to full capacity.”
J’Ramzœ’s eyes felt glued shut and he felt he was floating in the crystal waters of the dreamscape. However, he heard the discussion of his courtiers and the fragile sniffle of child-like tears that followed. His limbs felt weighted. He simply hadn’t the strength to move. He tried to speak. A wretched, mewling sound escaped his lips.
“Oh, quickly! Concentrate!” called the young girl’s voice. J’Ramzœ heard her softly singing and felt a cleansing rush of majicks surround him and flow through him.
“It’s working, his form is solid again and his strength is returning,” said the rasping male voice.
Finally, J’Ramzœ opened his eyes. Her face very near his own, young Lady Sha’Do was his first sight. Her tear filled but smiling eyes forcefully reminded him of her mother, High Lady Sha’Rèné. Sha’Rèné had been among first vanished when Razrushtel’s terror again clawed at the edges of J’Ramzœ’s kingdom. She had been among the greatest song mages in all the Crystal Empires. Sha’Do, now the last of her seven children, was the first song sorcerer born in Terashan in a dozen generations.
After then Lady Sha’Rèné’s much older husband, Lord Tir’Nath had passed in his sleep before their last child, Sha’Do, was born, she had come to Allyrs'rahm with her three still young children, two quick-witted and rambunctious sons, plus tiny Sha’Do, an infant. The idea of someone dying in their sleep after a lifetime of peace remained a wonder to J’Ramzœ. She had come at the behest of Sha’Zukor, her twin brother. Her grown elder children, two sets of twins, had remained in Aledde and, alas, had died in battle just this past cycle. Sha’Zukor had joined J’Ramzœ a dozen cycles before his sister and had risen through the ranks to become a duke and High Lord Advisor to the King. When he met her, J’Ramzœ was immediately drawn to the shining aspect of Sha’Rèné. She had been like calming music to his battered heart. Would that I could have deserved to call her my queen, he thought, recalling her beautiful smile and her musical light in the dreamscape. As he and Sha’Rèné had grown to love each other, the infant Sha’Do became as his own child.
J’Ramzœ smiled at Sha’Do and struggled to sit up as strong hands caught his shoulders to support him. Looking around, he saw his Field General, K’Zel at his side, gripping his shoulders, “Easy now, my liege. You’ve dreamt nearly these nine days.”
J’Ramzœ was stunned. So long? He looked at his people. K’Zel stood strong and determined, as always. Before the war, he’d always held himself to fastidious neatness and his laughing eyes could always bring a smile to those around him. As the war progress, a scruffiness settled about him, and when J’Ramzœ had entered the dreamscape his light became more and more feeble. In the waking world, he had gained a look of hardness about him. Now, he was still aged, but J’Ramzœ sensed with his dreameye he was less feeble.
Turning to the older woman who had reported the losses in the Shift, J’Ramzœ asked, “Seeker Sha’Ahnara, do you sense any lingering grasp of the evil?”
Clouds seemed to move in the woman’s eyes as she emitted a rumbling murmur that did not come from her vocal cords, and which that vibrated all around them for several moments. When she closed her eyes, the murmur stopped. Her expression when she opened her clear green eyes was one of amazement. “Your majesty, we are in the central realms!”
J’Ramzœ’s eyes lit with gleeful astonishment, “I had no expectation of carrying us so far! In the dreamscape, there was a Power that lifted us to this place. I…” He gripped her hand and wrist and gripped Sha’do’s shoulder, “My friends… I think… I think I touched the Crystal herself in the dreamscape!”
After an excited burst of chatter among themselves, Sha’Ahnara asked musingly, “My liege, is the living Crystal an herself?”
His mouth started to answer, then hung open as his brain floundered for an answer. He could only shrug. J’Ramzœ turned to the two elderly gentleman. “Sha’Zukor, J’Ordon, tell me how the kingdoms fair? Where do we find ourselves now?”
Both men smiled, and for a brief moment, J’Ramzœ saw the young faces of his friends when he’d first knew them. All the cycles they’d stood together, built the kingdom, guided it and defended it.
“You’ve regained an air of youth again,” Duke Sha’Zukor, his Second, rumbled gruffly at him, touching his own bald pate, dotted with age spots. “And your face is unlined!” As J’Ramzœ finally gained his feet, he gripped the bent old man’s arm in the warrior’s greeting.
“Drat you! Your spine’s as straight as the Great Elm,” rasped his War Marshal, J’Ordon the Tenacious, cantankerously from his hunched view, as he shakily gripped J’Ramzœ’s hand in greeting, with a coughing chortle.
J’Ramzœ gripped both their hands with sudden strength and commanded, “Hold tight as you may!” Both old men looked up at him in mild confusion, surprised by the harmonics in his tone. J’Ramzœ began mumbling a spell, the words coming from where he knew not. His eyes glowed and light coruscated rhythmically down his arms and up the old men’s arms. Everyone in the chamber stood motionless, yet seemed to spin as if in cyclone. J’Ordon’s bent spine straightened so that he seemed to grow, and he breathed in, a bold cleansing breath at last. Both men stood straight, with squared shoulders, and the weariness left their expressions. The spinning sensation stilled. The coruscating light surrounded all of them and music rose around them as the Lady Sha’Do’s eyes also began to glow and she began to sing, her music matching the harmonics in J’Ramzœ’s tone. Her words spoke the same spell, as J’Ramzœ’s mumbling words changed, becoming strong and sure. Light seemed to spill from Sha’Do’s mouth. Light seemed to flow into all the corners of the room, dispelling every shadow. After they’d repeated the spell in perfect unison three times, J’Ramzœ and Sha’do finished on the same instant. The light coruscate around them pulsed a moment more, then was absorbed into them.
Everyone blinked, and the last of the light faded finally from J’Ramzœ’s eyes. He looked at his friends. All of them glowed with health and renewed vigor. Even the Lady Sha’Do had a new blush to her lovely and youthful face. The rush of the majicks had made all the kingdom feel new and clean again.
J’Ordon reached lightly into the dreamscape and gasped, “My liege… it is most wonderous! I do not sense the Terror near at all”
J’Ramzœ stretched his own senses. Only lightly, as if from a great distance, did he feel the touch of that evil. Have I finally freed my kingdom?
High Lord Advisor to the King, Duke Sha'Zukor
Pen and Ink drawing, c. October 2000, by D. Denise Dianaty.
Find the previous section, Chp1, Pt3 here: https://steemit.com/writing/@momzillanc/the-saga-of-terashan-and-the-crystal-empires-chp1-pt3
Story © 25 October 2019, by D. Denise Dianaty