Savior of Aemysa Isle - Part 3/3
Tales of Havek: Volume One - Short Story
The first part can be found here.
The second part can be found here.
Summary of previous post: The man discovered that his name is Helyand and there are faithful followers that believe him to be their protector. He tapped into a power that he didn’t know he had and answered Batyg’s prayer. But the invasion hasn’t been dealt with and the Guardian still awaits on the opposing side of the bridge.
Savior of Aemysa Isle - Part 3/3
Helyand stood at the midway point of the bridge. The seemingly conscious fog shied back from his presence, its draining aura no longer stripping him of his faculties. After smiting the Mundrkang in what he called the realm of chaos, he recalled the partial memories of a past wrought with war and destruction. However, small details remained obfuscated, hidden from him. Who was the woman? Why did she believe in him when others did not?
The Guardian, or Mundrkang, awaited his approach, all six arms poised to strike. Helyand would fight it if he must. He’d stripped a rather solid tree limb bare and sharpened one end to a point with a rock. Not ideal when battling an ancient, powerful foe, but he made due. Unfortunately, his power had left him. He was unsure how he’d regained control of it in the first place. But he felt stronger for having wielded it, no matter how temporary.
Helyand took one step forward, then another. The planks continued their squeaks of warning, but he no longer cared. The world around him faded away, the Mundrkang his only focus. The longer he stared at the foe’s silhouette, the more panicked he felt inside. Why did it simply stand there, unmoving? How could it remain so patient, forever ready to beat him down?
Helyand’s bare foot landed on a drastically different surface. Glancing down, he realized he’d reached the other side of the bridge. The surface of the ground was not as he’d expected, although he wasn’t quite sure what he’d expected. It was soft on the bottoms of his feet, springy and warm, but solid unlike grass that grew divided and prickly. It was a yellowish white that glowed brighter around his touch as if he was activating something beneath the surface.
As mystifying as the ground was, he could not afford to be distracted. He returned his gaze high and leveled on his target, his makeshift spear lifted to chest height. The Mundrkang hadn’t advanced on him, hadn’t reacted to him, hadn’t moved at all. Something about its form seemed off at this new angle, but the fog was so thick around the creature that, even at this short distance, its features were cast in dark shadows.
“What are you? Why do you taunt me and keep me locked away on the island?”
No response. No reaction.
The darkened visage of the Mundrkang up close didn’t necessarily look like the demons of his past. When it failed to move even an inch, Helyand stepped closer, the fog rolling back in a final wave that revealed to him the horrifying truth.
The Mundrkang had never been living at all. It was but a statue. No, statues, three in all, each one lined up behind the other with arms outstretched at different angles. Helyand nearly collapsed, his legs suddenly weak. He dropped the spear and stumbled forward to understand what he was looking at. The statues–raised high on a thick base of glossy obsidian–shared his likeness. The only discernible differences were the garb that each statue donned, their familiarity like an itch that he couldn’t quite scratch. At the foot of the first statue stood a plaque, perfectly preserved as if erected only yesterday. He read what had been etched into its surface:
Do not touch, lest you become one with yourselves.
Confused, Helyand looked up at the first statue whose expression was overwhelmingly pensive, cold and distant. Long hair rested on square shoulders, a magnificent beard reaching its midsection. In the left hand, a wild bolt of lightning was gripped like a javelin, and in the right hand the representation of a leather-bound book. The figure wore long, flowing robes frozen in time, while a crown sat atop the regal head, one glossy pillar rising from the forehead crest.
Beyond the statues, the fog was nonexistent. The realm was an endless, eternal void of serenity. It beckoned to him, the soft blues and yellows on the horizon of white calling to him in a silent promise of peace and freedom from the island. He moved toward it.
Thank you, Helyand, a voice said out of the silence.
Startled, the voice–her voice–broke him free from the horizon’s embrace. He turned his head to gaze upon the middle statue; a warrior standing in a victorious pose, bellowing a mighty roar, a sword in one hand and a shield in the other. Without thinking, he reached out and placed a hand on the carved stone and was brought to his knees from a shock that rattled him to the core.
A life long lived as a man tore through his mind like a dam bursting, the memories like water overflowing the gaps and filling him with more than he ever thought possible. Love. Happiness. Grief. Hate. Fear. Desperation. Anger. Forgiveness.
“Batyg,” he said, gasping for breath. “Your name was– is Batyg, and I died to protect you and our children. I died to protect the people of Aemysa Isle.”
Helyand had existed in the realm of chaos even while trapped here on the island. He’d split his consciousness, or at least that’s how he understood it, into three parts that acted independently of one another. In order to save Havek, Helyand had created the island as a prison to shield himself from the allure of omnibenevolence in order to act on behalf of his followers. The fog was a necessary obstruction, pulled from the Dark realm to hide him from his counterparts.
The full history of this central statue solidified in his memory. He had led his faithful people to the last territories free from corruption. The Isles. He’d protected them for centuries, but his power faded over time. Their belief had faltered, and thus his connection with himself wavered on the verge of severing altogether. Batyg maintained her belief. She’d been his anchor. And she had taught him what it meant to be human. That had been worth dying for.
He didn’t have to look at the third statue to know what he would see, but he did so anyway. The statue was of him as he was now, a bearded man in a simple tunic. His eyes were closed with arms outstretched to either side. The hands were missing, the stone at the wrists ragged and unfinished.
Helyand knew that he had constructed these statues. Their peculiar positioning signaled to him that even that had been intentional. That maybe subconsciously this was all a test he’d meant for himself. But something had gone wrong along the way. He hadn’t taken into account the severity of the Dark’s ability to corrupt. The fog he had used to obscure his actions had also worked against him.
He faced the tranquil void once more. The iridescent sea of bliss and ignorance begging him to join as one in infinite harmony. But her voice still resonated inside him, her prayer having awoken him from a lifelong dream. He had a responsibility, a duty that could only be fulfilled by him and him alone. Could he walk away from that? Did he want to?
The answers were yes. But those were not the questions he needed to answer.
Batyg held her boys close as they exited the hut. Below, the village was dotted with small fires being extinguished by the villagers. A half sun loomed on the horizon, the sky set aflame with streaks of orange and pink. Men and women clutched loved ones either killed or injured in the first wave, while others prodded the piles of ash their enemy had been reduced to. Helyand had done more than Batyg initially realized.
A raven squawked and landed on Myka’s outstretched arm. He listened to it with closed eyes and then signaled his mother to look out to sea. To the north, a fleet of black ships approached Aemysa Isle. They were unlike any ships Batyg had ever seen, sail-less hulls cutting the choppy waters with slow determination. She counted roughly two dozen ships in all, not including the few that had already made landfall, which were driven atop the sand along the coast. Batyg felt a sense of unease constrict in her stomach.
Despite her renewed faith that her late husband now watched over them, she couldn’t help but fret that Helyand’s power was limited, his sight too narrow to see the greater threat coming to their shores. She had no idea what he was capable of, not really. He hadn’t explained much during his time with her, he’d kept that part of him guarded as if he were ashamed. Or was it more closely related to fear, fear of rejection or hatred?
“Thank you, Helyand,” Batyg whispered. She wasn’t certain he could still hear her as she was no longer channeling her prayer, but she believed so anyway. He’d told her to believe, and so she did.
The heavens above darkened unnaturally. Clouds formed where clear skies had existed only moments before. Thunder boomed as flashes surged through the emerging amalgamation of black rage, vast and all-consuming. This storm was power beyond human comprehension. Villagers dropped to their knees in awe, several bowing in prayer for the first time in their lives.
Myka and Ozryk looked up at her, wondering what was happening. She had no words to explain it, but deep down she knew that Helyand had heard her. That he would never leave her as long as she maintained her faith in him. The dream of protecting his people was no longer a dream, but a reality fulfilled even in death.
A brilliant light erupted before them, and Batyg shielded her eyes. The sharp crack that followed split the air and echoed into cacophonous thunder. It thudded her chest so hard she feared her heart might stop. But it didn’t. Instead, it raced ever faster at the sight of the fading bolt. It splintered down like an upside down tree, striking each ship of the enemy’s fleet with an explosion of fire and light. The ships rocked and slowed, reduced to mere floating pyres backlit by the evening sunset.
As the charred, burning ships sank into the depths of the sea, Batyg crouched to wrap her arms around her boys. She desperately appreciated them. That they had not been taken from her like the man she had loved with all her heart. She was thankful that his death had not been in vain, and he’d ascended to greatness once more. From now on, her faith would never falter. Batyg would make sure to spread the truth about the Almighty, Maker of Storms, Ungdl of Oudun.
His name was Helyand. He was a father, a husband, and a warrior. He was the Savior of Aemysa Isle.
This tale has ended, but more are on the horizon. Stay tuned for the next Tales of Havek short story!
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Until next time! ~ WM