The psygon had loped swiftly and far through the labyrinth of halls, until he collapsed in an alcove of dripping rock. Raena paused briefly over his sprawled body, and searched him. He had a knife wound in his side that had torn his organs. Raena found no useful items or clues on his person, and after hiding him in the shadows of the alcove, she loped on in the direction that he had been headed. She knew that the body would likely be soon found. Psygons had the sense of smell of wolves.
Resen crept through a natural tunnel in the caverns. It led up, like a large wormhole...or a hole for an subterranean eel. Smyrna was known for it's semi-aquatic eels. Many of them were nasty, if tampered with. Resen hoped he wasn't trespassing. He did not like those things. Still he continued to inch along.
Soon after Resen began to hear voices. They were ill-tempered and sharp. He then came to the rough lip of the tunnel, and cautiously peered out from the shadows. Down below was a large chamber lit by dozens of torches spitting red light all around. A strange light came for a the face of the far wall, stretching up about a hundred feet. It gleamed, and then Resen realized it was of sheer, rough crystal.
A towering psygon was quarreling fiercely with those around him. An iron band sat around his head, with a single large claw attached to the side, coming alongside his yellow eye. By his appearance and his behavior he was obviously the leader. Those around him wore traditional loin clothes, whereas he wore a cloth of saborr skin. It was likely that he had made the kill himself. Which said much about his physical strength and skill. His stature was not as large or muscular as many of the others, but a balance between strength and lean speed.
They were still squabbling in their own tongue about something, the sound of it rough and harsh. The leader, or boeshan as the psygons referred to them, gestured impudently at his lessers as he turned and stepped up the rise in the rock formation of the ground that led to the crystal wall. Now he turned to them again, grinning with pride and insolence. His voice rose, and he tilted his head as his grin broadened. Apparently given an order as the boeshan motioned with a wave of his arm, a few of the other stepped towards a set of chain pulleys and began to work them. Resen's eyes froze over when he saw a man descend from above, dangling from his wrists. Long messy black hair lay over his down-turned face. It was King Origen.
The boeshan arrogantly stepped down and said something to him, laughed, then punched the king's face. The sound echoed in the cavern, and the others grunted with pleasure. King Origen's eyes opened as he turned his head to return the boeshan's gaze. His eyes were both bright and deadly cold.
Raena had been inching along in a tunnel far above and closer to the wall of beryl. She looked out to see its glimmering surface, and she watched it for a moment, entranced by its sheer size. Then a ripple of moonlight rays swept through the water behind it, and it was briefly illumined. Raena held back a gasp as the gigantic form glided back and forth on itself, twirling in a slow dance. It was an aluvon. They had captured an aluvon.
Just then Raena looked down to see the psygons below lower a figure from a cleft in the wall, who dangled from chains. Her eyes snapped and her jaw tightened. Utmost rage filled her soul as she saw it was her father. The utter indignity of his treatment and his state of health infuriated her beyond anything could have.
Raena leapt from her hiding place almost at the same moment as a resounding yell was cried from her left. It was Resen. He too had been in hiding, and now he leapt among them. Raena landed on her feet, and all psygons froze for a brief moment, looking from the man to the woman that had dropped from above them. Then almost instantly they jumped into action, slashing out weapons with a savage yells as they lunged to attack, yellow eyes blazing and teeth bared.
Unsheathed with a ring, Raena's knives flew through the air and sunk into the necks of two warriors coming up from the far end. They fell face first, hands awkwardly scrabbling at their necks. Resen whipped out an arrow and sent it through a psygon who had been guarding Origen, and now was running towards him. He fell with a howl, and Resen turned to sword-work as he battled two psygons aided by the snarling boeshan. Having cut down a couple other warriors already, Raena now battled a monstrously tall warrior with ragged teeth. He fought with a large bladed mace in swift, strong swings. Raena and her long slender sword could not take the full brunt of the attacks, but she made them glance aside as she tried to force an opening. At that moment Resen was still battling the three, the boeshan throwing in attacks with lightening speed. Raena and her opponent were up upon the rock pile, coming closer to the other group. The boeshan saw this and glancing round again, savagely drove the pommel of his sword into Raena's side just after he slashed again at Resen. Raena cried out in pained rage, and risked a quick slash at him, ducking a swipe from the large psygon. The boeshand leapt away out of reach, and cut down onto Resen as he just batted aside both of the other psygon warrior's axes. Resen glimpsed the attack and tried to dodge aside, but the blade cut into his shoulder. Raena was gripped by her opponent's enormous grasp on the arm, and he flung her away. With a hard, pained grunt Raena landed, and the shock of the fall made her lose her grasp on her sword. She felt something sharp beneath her, and her fingers closed over a shaft. The warrior plowed towards her with a bellow, and with a cry Raena lunged forward on her knees, bringing up a pysgon spear and jabbing it into his stomach as he came upon her, and upwards to his heart as he toppled forward. Raena instantly spun out of the way, releasing the spear as the psygon fell upon it.
Resen swept upwards with his knife, parring a blow from the boeshan who still was dealing in attacks behind his soldiers. Resen's anger was at fever pitch. Not only was the boeshan heartless, he a coward as well. With a sudden cross slash Resen cut down one of his attackers, and caught his axe as it fell from his grasp. With a savage whirl and swing his sword and axe ripped the other psygon down with a howl. The boeshan's eyes glazed over with shock and anger, as he saw his last warrior fall, and he turned to Resen with his lips curling in a snarl, but Resen was already upon him, attacking without mercy. With an endless round of battering Resen pushed him back, up onto the rock pile, and just at that moment Raena leapt from her kill, sword in hand. Just as Resen forced him back with his furious blows Raena rose and her blade flashed forward, sprouting from him neck, and Resen slashed, cutting him across the neck. The boeshan escaping breath came with a gasp as he fell over and his sword clanged to the ground. Resen and Raena briefly glanced at each other, then rushed over to the king.
They quickly undid the chains that bound him. “Milord,” Resen said softly as they eased him down.
“Father?” Raena asked in concern. Her heart was leaping with joy at having found him alive, along with being terribly pained at seeing him suffering from such indignity and ill health. The psygons themselves had paid with their lives.
“I am so relieved to see you both. My prayers have been heard,” the king said with a cough. “But they will be of little use if we do not move swiftly. We must get to the queen...my wife...as soon as possible.”
“Yes Father. We are doing what we can to unveil Slorda's treason. Alexis is tracking her servants as we speak,” Raena reassured, putting his arm around her neck.
“The Athondul, Abban,” Raena said with a soft smile.
King Origen paused and looked at her, utmost disbelief and hope in his eyes. Promises long waited for were truly kept until the time they were need most.
“Let us get back now,” Resen said.
Raena looked back to the beryl wall. “I have something to tend to Abban,” she told them seriously. Her eyes met her father's, and he nodded with firm understanding. “Do what you must,” he said.
Resen looked at her and nodded, reassuring her he'd take care of the king. Raena then turned to the wall of crystal and quickly surveyed it. She espied a tunnel that went up from the top of the wall. Hastily she mounted it, and disappeared within. Her hands gripped the rock surface firmly as it was wet and treacherous. The tunnel led up, and finally opened into a moonstone shaft. It was then that Raena realized she had found the old crystal egg-shaped cell holds for the grettildein beasts of burden that the first generations of the Smyrnan royals used. They had long ago been released back into the wild, as they had not happily or easily adapted to life with humans. And they had disappeared from the wild after that; whether they were extinct or had simply chosen new grounds was a mystery.
The moonstone shafts opened into the heights of Aysel, where the moon let in light, and the moonstone reflected it down the shaft into the cell, where the crystal further caught the light. And there, calmly, gracefully dancing in the water, was the aluvon. Now knowing the situation, Raena quickly looked for where the doors and operating levers might be. The old paths and roads of the forsaken caverns were diverse and had been scarcely traversed in the old times, only in the care and use of the old mounts. The gate would open into the caverns, but Raena had no idea of how to find her way to the other side.
Then, with a shimmer of moonlight brightly lighting the cell for a moment, Raena caught sight of the grill gate, near the bottom of the cell. No doubt the controls were on the other side.
Raena now stood contemplating. She knew what she was thinking was dangerous. Raena straightened her posture, then with a strong leap dove into the water. For the briefest moment Raena was looking straight into the aluvon's brilliant flashing eye, before her propulsion carried her past. The graceful curves of the the aluvon's body continued to swirl and dance as Raena forcefully swam down, doing her best to avoid the curls of its body. It was like being inside a colossal dancing ribbon of flesh and lethal power.
Dodging a lifting curve and it's trailing fin, Raena made for the bars of the gate. With little trouble she pushed herself through, and quickly scanned the outer wall. Just as she caught sight of the operating levers she grabbed one and pulled down with all her might. It was rusted and crusty from mineral growth, but the sudden force applied to it jarred its mechanisms. With a screeching rumble the blue bars of the lower and top ends of the gateway began to retreat into the wall, then jarred to a stop.
For the briefest second Raena was going to panic, but just then the aluvon burst through, shattering the remains of the gate. The gigantic creature powered through the cavern, heading towards a light at the far end.
From a far vantage point in the open sea, the aluvon suddenly burst from the concealment of the oldest foundations of the Emerald Mountian. With a strange song the aluvon swept into open water.
Raena saw the aluvon making towards the light at the end, then she immediately turned back and made for the top of the cell. With a great shuddering gasp she broke from the surface.