The sphere the phantom o.., p.4
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       The Sphere: The Phantom of the West Rim, p.4

           Fandy Adams
 

  “I think it’s a pretty big problem.” said Rey.

  “Nah don’t worry, it wouldn’t be forever.” cheered Aska “We would be consumed by beasts or get poisoned by some plants in less than a week.”

  Rey was surprised and dreaded, “But you can turn into that giant eagle right? We could just fly straightly through the forest.”

  “The lightning attack has messed up the Gryphonite Sphere of mine. The only way to get it fixed is by bring it to some Magi to re-seal it. Good news is it wasn’t difficult to find any magi who can do art of sealing, but the bad news is the only place we can find large group of them is anywhere outside this creepy forest.” said Aska. “Don’t worry. We don’t need it to get out of this forest anyway. Before falling I’ve seen the forest boundary, we just need to walk straight for 4-5 hours and we can get out of here.” said Aska as he trying to convince him.

  “Then we'd better go to sleep now. Good night Aska.” Rey immediately lay down, spent a whole day with strange experience and exhausted is more than enough to make her eyes closed in seconds.

  Cold breeze of night chills his body, even with bonfire near to him. Seeing that, the big wolf then walked over to him and put down his body to warm him with his thick fur.

  “Good night ... pal!”

  ***

  Grimwood at daytime seemed doesn’t much different from the night, dark and terrifying as Aska said. Sunlight strives to penetrate the forest-roof only to dying into the dim light as if the grey sky before dawn always above them. The woods seemed whispering in cold winds to mislead them and the sound of nocturnal now turned into the groaning beast that hunt in the day. The scratching noise of their steps did not less terrible than eerie silence of the night.

  “Animorph Sphere?” asked Rey curiously.

  “Yeah, Sphere usually has a color of crystal clear like ordinary crystal ball while the green one I carried called Animorph Sphere.”

  “What’s the difference?”

  “Common Sphere gave you the abilities of sentient without make your body fluffy and full of fleas. The abilities it gives include physical enhancement like make your eyes sharper or move faster. Or it could be magical abilities such as fireball or creating ice dagger.” said Aska. “But these Animorph Sphere grant us Volk Tribe to transform into a beast.”

  “Looking at three of your Spheres, it seems that every being can be sealed inside, isn’t it?”

  “Of course, all living being except human or Great Ancient can be sealed.” said Aska "But even so peoples wouldn’t seal any sentient in the Sphere."

  “Why not?” asked Rey.

  "You're not going to seal a puppy inside isn’t it? Most people would seal sentient which had powerful or had useful abilities. If you managed to seal the three-headed dragon yesterday you will have a Sphere which will give you best magical ability of three elements, you can freeze entire cave with ice magic or devastated a forest by large lightning ball. In short you could do anything that can be done by that odd lizard. Of course it depends on your power.”

  “So that’s what you do in the cave? Tried to seal the three-headed dragon?”

  “No, I'm not a Magi so I can’t do the art of sealing. Moreover Zimeth is high level sentient, your ‘valia’ must strong enough to use it.”

  “Valia?”

  “Our thought, our will, to use a Sphere our minds must be powerful than the mind of sentient.”

  “If it weren’t for sealing the three-headed dragon, then what are you doing in the cave?”

  “For the eggs, Zimeth eggs is fairly rare item, it was very expensive in the market.”

  “Given what happened to us yesterday I think I would believe that it was worth of a pocket of gold.” said Rey.

  Suddenly Aska halted, “Shhh!”

  “What?”

  Aska gave no answer instead his nose sniffing like he could sense the danger far away. His ears strained to hear clearly the steps which sounds drew closer to them and he turned to and fro as if whatever it is came from any directions and surrounds them.

  “What is it?”

  “Bargest, run!” shouted Aska and he transformed into a big wolf in a sudden. He bites Rey on his shirt at once and threw him into his back. “Hold on tight!”

  Aska speeded up his pace, so fast he was as he trying to run avoiding the death. His eyes glanced around, watch everything surround. With sharp eyes he could see the shadows of pack running after them, one-third smaller than his wolf shape but has number about ten or more with comparable speed as him. From the tramp of running feet, Aska realized that the pack wasn’t only running behind them but also ran among the trees and shrubs in the sideward. It looks like they’re waiting for the right moment to ambush and attack them.

  From their left one bargest jumped to pounces Rey, but with reflex he managed to bow down till the beast knocked down by itself. But the beast doesn’t seem to give up so easily, having bounced so hard to hit a tree but still in no time it rise up and chase them both once again in high pace.

  Suddenly, out of the dark a Bargest sprang to them with maw open wide to bite them. But the horned wolf bite it first and at once slammed it hard into the ground. One even tried to attack from behind but he managed to evade them till it slip off and crashed to the tree by itself.

  Aska kept running and running but he didn’t see any sign that the pack would give up, they don’t even slow down, instead he found his stamina running out. The hunt for them ended as two Bargests leap him from left and right until the huge wolf down and bumped into the tree. Rey doesn’t have better fate – he was thrown with the horn of the huge wolf almost got him.

  Now the pack was encircled them both. They come closer, slowly, only shows a ferocious grin and fierce eyes. And with a crack of the twig, they start to attack one by one. Aska fought against them, claws, bites and the dagger of his horn were able to beat them one by one. But like before, it didn’t make them backwards, instead their scratch and bites wounded him pretty bad.

  Wounded and exhausted, he unable to keep his shape and soon he transform back into human. He gasped for breath and his body wounded bad. At once he fell, sat down and relying on the tree.

  “Hold on!” cried Rey. He immediately unsheathed the dagger from Aska’s waist and with trembling hand and cold sweat he brandished the dagger into the pack though he realized that there’s no chance to survive against them.

  Two of their prey has already helpless and ready to eat, some of them even hostile to each other to be the first taster for fresh meat. They grinning, showing their dirty sharp teeth and drooling greedily.

  But as three bargests sprang to them, suddenly a flame burst out of the ground and repelled the beast. Then the flame rose tall, whirling like flame tornado and formed a barrier of fire to protect them, beautiful but terrible at the same time. However, even with great flame encircling them those who inside feel no heat at all instead they felt a cold sensation on their skin. Rey then looked at his hand and strange, he was like saw a frost grew and spread on his skin.

  Outside the flame, the voracious growl turn into whining and the pack of predator slowly retreated. They might not be afraid to fight against big wolf like Amarok but against the forces of nature they’re powerless. Wounded and frightened, the bargests get away and leave their prey.

  “It must be her.” said Aska smiling in pain.

  “Who?” asked Rey.

  “Her! Just be careful when you speak to her, she’s little nagging and uneasy.”

  “Who you callin a nag?!” said the female voice, and suddenly the flame tornado sparked and hit Aska only.

  “Hey I'm just kidding.”

  Soon the flame faded up and as the flame barrier has swept away by the wind, faintly they saw a girl approached them. Pretty girl she was and young, her face was clear and flawless. Her hair was blonde, bright and smooth, like soft light of the morning sun, and the braids of her hair was thin and wrapping around like circlet. Her eyes were blue as an ocean, both k
nowledge and mysteries were in her glance. Noble she looked and elegant in her unique attire, especially with a scepter held in her hand.

  “Thank you Eorin.”

  Suddenly one slap landed on his face followed by scolding from her, “How many times I told you not to get in Zimeth’s lair. Not to mention that they were protected by kingdom, you’ll get trouble both by Ranger and Grove and what kind of fool that could fly over the Grimwood but chose to go on foot. You always...”

  Aska feels that storming words of her was little worse and more disturbing than the rush of beasts. However the expression on his face showed that he was very grateful by her presence.

  “My Gryphonite got messed, can you re-seal it?”

  “Not here, beside we must take care of your wound first.”

  “I don’t know if you care about me.”

  “I’m not, I just don’t want to pick and carry you in the back. Better you walk for yourself.” said Eorin while pulling Aska’s arm.

  “Oouchh!" Aska screamed.

  Heard that scream doesn’t make her being more careful or gently instead she roughly pull his arm. Wonder what kind of friendship she had with Aska but that girl seems enjoy his suffer, bit remind him of Asti. One Sphere in her bracelet glows and from the palm of her hand there’s something like cool breeze that covering Aska’s wounds. Aska look bit relaxed as if something has soothing his pain and what happen next the wound he suffer gradually recovered by itself.

  Suddenly Aska rise with cheerful face and new spirit as if nothing bad ever happened to him while few minutes ago they’re almost being devoured by a pack of wild beast.

  “I’m better now, let’s get outta here!”

  “Not that easy. Who is he anyway?” asked Eorin.

  “I ...”

  “He’s Rey, my cousin.”

  “Really, you never told me about him.”

  “He was the son of the uncle of my mother's cousin's half sister. Basically we like two apple at the opposite sides of the same tree, though he was plain-blood one.” Aska explained. Then he came closer to Eorin and whispered something in her ear. “His family had a quite black history so I never told you about him, and he somewhat a bit lunatic in some ways, barking self at full moon whereas he can’t even transformed. But overall he’s really good person.” whispered Aska, that spiky-haired boy smiled as he raised his thumb.

  “Whatever. Let’s get out from here. The way out about 300 meters there.”

  The gloomy forest seems grew brighter as they went forward. The leaves which were darkish now look more vibrant and youthful. The color of the forest now looks bright with various floras that grew there and there. The growling sound of the beast didn’t heard again and was replaced by the song of the birds and other sounds of friendly creatures. The flock flew peacefully above the woods and little creatures roaming freely among the grasses and stones.

  At last they came out of the woods. The sky was open wide above them, blue and white cumulus they greet with joy. A vast plain stretched before them, bright and green, with the edge trimmed into horizon. Two large stones stood there like a gate to the forest. ‘No-Entry’ warning inscribed on the stone at the right side while the left one describe the typical clause of government – that they’re not responsible if there’s someone break in.

  They walked down over the grassy plain and when they reached the edge of the hill suddenly Rey halted in amazement.

  “Welcome to Lucretia.”

  He looked downward and saw it at the distance height, a hill of a great city. The light of the sun had swept the entire hill and the city gleamed in pale white as if the entire land engraved by ivory. Some structure rose and grand, from a far they’re looks majestic among others, wonder it might be or just work of their greatness. And a great tower stood with pride as if trying to reach the sky, and he lifted his eyes as he saw something flying out of the tower. It was a ship, of the common shape, but it sailing in the air like some magic drove it. The city split by a great river, look grey in the stillness, some ship were there with few little boats like floating leaves. And the rail tracks stroke the city with black streak, all connected and centered near the green square at the center of the city.

  “Lucretia ...!” said Rey stood in amazement looking at the great city.

  Chapter 5 

  Ishtar Grove 

  The daylight grew and white clouds sailing among the wide blue, the air feel warm and shade became short as their forearm. Grimmwood wasn’t seen to them no more, eclipsed by hills behind them and the more they went forward the more they found crowd surround them, along with caravans and horses were seen bustling in and out if the city. And at the distant Rey saw a train crossed in the north but soon vanished as it enters the city.

  There, as they went forward he was halted and his eyes astonished by two grey giant ladies which stood towering and guarding the Archway with hollow eyes staring cold at humans who passed through the gates. They’re gigantic graven idols, the remains of the thousands years old of ancient regime, the two of the eight guardian of Ishtar which guard four cardinal directions in the city. Their left hand clutching a staff with great length that almost looks like a pillar for human eyes and their right hand was raised palm upwards into sky with rootless flame of magic lit on it. Amazed and frightened fell upon him as he went closer, the glory and grandeur of the ancient power in the past still reflected in the figure which stood firm in their silence.

  All of sudden two soldiers who stood near the pedestal halted them. Brown outfit and silver armor as the uniform and then they take off their helmet only to show intimidating face. At first Rey was frightened for he was the only stranger among three of them, but instead of him they rather look at spiky-haired boy beside him. Then one of them searched Aska and cynically interrogating him but Eorin and Rey were ignored by them as if the soldiers just want to make everything difficult for Aska, even to step a foot.

  “Let's go!” said Eorin.

  “But Aska …”

  “Just let them take him away, a few days here and you will often see this short of things happened to your bro.” said Eorin. “Relax, he will be behinds us before the train set off.”

  Later they went without Aska. Just then he turned back looking at Aska who still dealing with those soldiers but seems he will be okay as Eorin said. As he stepped out of the archway, suddenly he was halted and startled by the sound of roar – a strong and deep cry which reminds him of a winged creature that almost killed them yesterday. He looked up right away and there on the broken pedestal lies a mighty dragon like guardian of the gate. Dark he was under the shade of the arch but when the light smote his scales it gleamed in brown reddish. He bent down with wings folded and finger-horn hold on the stone, and the face of ancient watching the land and peoples beneath him as if guarding them with strong thrumming come from his jaws. Upon it sat a soldier, clad in red scale armor and bore dragon-shaped helmet. A bladed polearm he wielded.

  Then the dragon rider raised his weapon to command his winged steed. The dragon loomed up and the shade crept over them as the vast wings stretched, and with one stomp the dragon sprang to fly, soaring into high sky with roar trembles the air.

  “First time see Wyvern?” asked Eorin.

  “Yes, no, I mean just nice to see the one-headed that doesn’t intend to kill you. I’ve had bad experience with three-headed one yesterday.”

  “Zimeth and Red Wyvern is just an animal. They wouldn’t attack if we don’t violate them. You must be done something that made them go mad, isn’t it?”

  “Well, he just told me that he after the eggs.”

  “That stubborn fool, I don’t know what on his mind to deal his life with such concert.”

  “What concert?”

  “You’ll know soon.”

  Later Rey saw a block of restaurants, cafes and food stores. Each one has a name and a concept that’s sounds unique like Trickster Tavern, a café that sells imagination and has a target market for single and de
sperate, someone just need to bring himself to a romantic date with women he ever dreamed. Even on the board there is a special menu which offered at a very cheap cost, just 60 crone, 20 crone more expensive than the price of a glass of water and a piece of bread flour in the capital as Lucretia. But with 60 crone in Trickster Tavern someone can get the most delicious food they had ever eaten in the sense of imaginary, a glass of water can look like a colorful juice or a piece of baguette can be tasty and tender as a steak.

  Not far from the café there’s a weapon store that sells a variety of weapons, from swords, arrows, spears, mace till dagger and knife. Low-prices of weapon were placed in a wooden box and each were given a price tag at the handle ranging from 50 to 500 florin and the regular one displayed and filled on the wall. While the special one displayed behind the store keeper, they look very artistic for someway even more like an ornament than a weapon. But the weapon store looks quiet, not much visitors there except two peoples who just came to look around.

  And hundred feet from the weapon store, there are two Sphere stores which separated away by few meters. What has been done by Aska and Eorin with their Spheres made him thought that the Sphere was some kind of magical artifact which couldn’t be posses by anyone except them with the privileges or gifted one. But what he seen now have change his mind, now he think that the Sphere was no different than a common gadget in his world which everyone could posses it, either for good or bad purposes.

  Along the way, Rey have been made astonished by the unique thing and sight which he had never seen before. Unique architecture and eccentric fashion which only had been in imagination of human beings and magical technologies developed from an unfamiliar alien civilization. Somehow he felt strange and unusual for this places, indeed he was the kind of boy who never seeks for adventure except to the green hill outskirt of Cibadut but wherever he set foot on earth he would find peoples who are busy with his gadget. However this time he didn’t find a single person who’s smiling at their screen, instead he saw a tall guy with long disheveled hair, a long sword was on his back and a head of the odd monster was in his hand but strangely no one notice him but a few as if it was common sight for them.

 
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