NZ Forest Native Birds
Albishadewe: Quest for the Unicorn

Albishadewe: Quest for the Unicorn can now be purchased on Amazon in Kindle format, for which you don’t even need a Kindle. The is available for desktop and laptop computers: Mac Windows and is even available for iPad and iPhone.


Albishadewe: Quest for the Unicorn
can be found here.




Chapter 5
The Sorceress and the Fallen One

“What do you want of me?” Esmé was careful to keep her voice as expressionless as possible.

      “You’re going to help me restore the jewels in these robes and bring Ignarius back to life.”

      Esmé was unable to hide her surprise. “Is he dead then?”

      “He might just as well be.” The sorceress’s voice was hard and bitter and her eyes blazed with hate-filled accusation. She held out her hand imperiously. “Come: I’ll show you.” It was a command rather than an invitation.

      Esmé ignored the hand but struggled out of the pile of feathers with as great a show of difficulty as she could, grabbing the lamp as she did so. She didn’t miss the glint of scorn in Mirabell’s eyes or the curl of her lip. That’s a good start, she thought with satisfaction.

      She was surprised to find the eagles’ feathers had been placed on top of what looked like a pile of hay. She held out the lamp to see if she could work out where she was, for her surroundings looked strangely familiar.

      Then she saw, with shock that went through her like a bolt of lightning, that Mirabell wasn’t alone: behind her stood a tall, slightly stooped man in a black hooded cloak. He stepped past Mirabell and gave Esmé a mocking bow, sending out a stench of death and decay that almost caused her stomach to revolt. From within the depths of his hood his face was well hidden but his freakishly large eyes, like black orbs, were surprisingly noticeable. Esmé had to suppress a shudder at sight of them.

      The voice from inside the black hood was harsh and grating. She felt her eardrums shrink at the sound. “Welcome again to the Kingdom of the Dead. I don’t believe you’ve had the privilege of meeting me: I am the Lord God and Guardian-Governor of this place. All who enter here must obey my laws. The evil, fish-eyed one in taking first my name and true title from me, and then even my rank as god of the dead, gave me the name Fallaneinan ignoble name for a god. You will call me either Sir or Master like everyone else until the noble Lady Mirabell restores me to my rightful place as Lord-God and Guardian-Governor of the Land Beyond the Grave.”

      Esmé glanced from the half-hidden face within the hood back to the sorceress. Again she saw Mirabell’s lip curl in scornand knew instantly which of the two was master here.

      “Come!” the sorceress commanded, turning away. She opened the shade on her lamp and held it up.

      And Esmé found herself staring straight at one of the huge black doors that were the entrance to Nidari, the Underworld. Both doors stood wide open. Clutching her own lamp tightly and forcing herself to keep her head high, she passed between them in Mirabell’s wake. Fallanein took up the rear, every movement of his black cloak wafting his stench over her. The doors clanged shut behind them.

      The stone floor of Nidari’s great hall was uneven enough to be unpleasant to walk on. The echoes of the doors closing died until nothing but the sound of footfalls could be heardthe loud clatter of Esmé’s riding boots and the whisper of the others’ softly shod feet. Mirabell stopped short so that Esmé nearly collided with her. The sorceress turned her cold hard gaze on Esmé.

      “Take off your bootsthis is a sacred place,” she ordered.

      Reluctantly Esmé did so, wincing as Fallanein scooped the offending footwear under his cloak. They walked on, the chill of the stone floor seeping quickly through Esmé’s socks.

      Presently they came to an archway in which was set a heavy door. This, Esmé guessed, was the refrigerated room in which Mark had glimpsed the bodies waiting for Fallanein’s terrible resurrection techniques, and where he had locked in two of the guards.

      Mirabell stopped at the door, thrust her lamp into Esmé’s free hand, placed her palms against the smooth metal of the door and closed her eyes. After a few moments the edges of the door gave out a faint glow. When it had died, Mirabell took the lamp back from Esmé and pulled the door handle with her other hand. The door opened smoothly.

      Esmé’s whole being revolted at the idea of stepping through that door. But even in her confusionand with the pain from the wyvern’s talons still racking her bodyshe knew that moving forward was the only way to avoid Fallanein’s evil touchto stop him from pushing her into the roomso she followed Mirabell with as much dignity as she could muster in stockinged feet.

      The room was really a huge cave. In the centre, beneath a golden canopy with deep back and sides, was a large and elaborate bier with candles burning all around. In the centre of the bier lay Ignarius in a simple white robe. The Godking’s treasures surrounded him. The gold of the canopy reflected the candlelight so that the intensity of the light was almost blinding, setting the jewels in the treasures ablaze with all the colours of the rainbow. Because of the canopy the light reached no further than the bier itself, making it all the more startling against the surrounding gloom.

      A silver coronet was Ignarius’s only adornment. No king could have looked more regal or dignified. He lay as though dead, not even breathing. It was hard to believe, looking at him in sleep, that so much evil existed within him.

      “Touch him!” Mirabell hissed into Esmé’s ear.

      Esmé felt herself move forward as though something other than her own muscles propelled her. Reluctantly she put out her hand to the hands folded on the still breast. With the tip of her middle finger she touched thembut even this contact sent shudders of revulsion right through her. Ignarius’s flesh was as cold as meat straight off the ice. She found it impossible to believe living flesh could be so cold.

      Mirabell whispered into her ear again. “We’re going to drain the warmth from your body to warm him, transfer the beat of your heart to his, drive the breath from your lungs to make him breathe again.”

      Esmé felt her heart lurch in shock. Did Mirabell mean what she thought? She turned to look at the sorceressand the glint of relish in Mirabell’s eyes told her the answer. Horror flooded through her. Its frigid touch seemed to send shards of ice right through her bloodstream.

© L A Barker Enterprises
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