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View Full Version : The Incorruptible: Chapter 3.1 of the Emerald Archon



monseratthefool
December 31st, 2012, 07:21 PM
The beginning of Chapter 3 of the Emerald Archon. All critiques most appreciated and welcome :)

3

The Incorruptible

Ramlin held tight on the reins and turned his head to yell back to Arjuna, “I can see the river up ahead, that must be the house! How’s he doing?”

Arjuna looked down at the old man’s head resting in his lap. His face was grey and sunken, and his breathing came in wisps and gasps.

Arjuna shouted over the sound of the rumbling cart, “I don’t know Ramlin, just please hurry!”

Ramlin shouted at Janpa the grey shire stallion, “Let’s go Janpa, hya!”

Walok had only experienced a moment of consciousness since his collapse, during which his few recognizable words were about The Sapphire House in West Witscar.

Without warning, Janpa shrieked and jammed his shoes into the dirt. The driver’s bench jerked violently and slammed into the horse’s rump, sending Ramlin screaming over the front of the cart. He landed with a dull thud on the dirt road. Arjuna and Walok slid and smashed into the cart’s wooden wall, spraying hay wildly into the air.

Janpa somehow managed to keep upright, scuttling frantically to a whiney stop. Ramlin’s breath was choked; all air had been knocked from his lungs. Arjuna, hearing the boy’s struggle, tried to push himself upright to see where Ramlin landed.

Something hard between his shoulder blades shoved him back down into the hay and onto Walok’s limp body. He turned to look behind him, and saw the tip of a silver hunting blade.

“Please don’t move,” said the man at the other end of the sword. “Who are you and what are you doing rampaging down the road this late at night?

Arjuna tilted his head to get a better look at his attacker. The man was clad in black and brown mobility armor, leather over plates of paper-thin, super-strong Vinsa iron. He had the shadow of a beard and long, brown hair tied back into a warrior’s knot. A hand protected by thick leather gauntlets lowered the blade towards Arjuna’s eyes.

“Well?” asked Mokai. He recognized the crimson robes of the old man, but considered that it may be a disguise. The streaks of black tears down the boy’s face, however, were clearly genuine. For now, Mokai would keep his composure until he was certain.

Ramlin was now audibly moaning, writhing in pain among the stones in the road. Arjuna tried to steady a voice shaken from fear, “We are just…just trying to get help for Walok,” he gestured towards the grey man now half-covered in hay.

“He’s a shaman from the Scarlet Wilds and he is really, really sick and he asked us to bring him here. He’s probably worse now, please…please we don’t mean any harm,” he begged. “Can you help us?”

Mokai held the blade steady and peered down the road, seeing nothing unusual. He looked towards the Sapphire, folded his tongue and sent a shrill whistle in the direction of the house.

The front door swung open and Arjuna turned to see a beautiful woman in a blue dress run out of the Sapphire in Ramlin’s direction. Arjuna watched her kneel next to him, before being yanked to his feet by the larger man in black.

“My apologies for the violence, young master,” said Mokai as he sheathed his sword, “but the mistress’ safety is my primary concern. Come, let’s move this man inside.”
-

Walok was out of sight now, resting calmly in medicinal, foamy water in the Sapphire’s therapeutic bath. Sylani emerged from behind the privacy curtain, and motioned for Mokai to help her.

Mokai once again lifted the metal bucket from the ashes of the fire and poured the steaming water into Walok’s bathtub. Sylani opened a glass jar of tiny, white pebbles and poured a handful into the tub. The water once again started to foam and sizzle, filling the room with a briny, salty aroma that reminded Mokai of the sea.

After hours of frantic worry, Arjuna was finally beginning to feel the panic subside. Walok had looked peaceful as they placed him in the water, and he seemed to be in very capable hands. Sylani was loving and skillful, and something about her movement made Arjuna feel more at ease. She was like a canoe gliding softly through a lake, not making so much as a ripple in the water around her.

He watched her movement around the room; swift but without rushing, mixing colored crystals with vials of water. Her eyes were clear and sharp, and impossibly tender. Her wavy brown hair hung loose past her shoulders, and Arjuna could smell the essences of oranges and jasmine each time she flurried past.

She had changed out of her Ceru gown and into a more practical set of white evening clothes, but now even moreso did her shapely figure resemble one of her exotic perfume bottles.

The standard-issue Ceru gowns, as well as the retriolian tea given to Bartolo, were meant to conceal the intoxicating parts of the female body in order to allow true communion to occur with clients. Otherwise, men (and even women from time to time) are wont to feel as if the priestess owed some type of debt that she surely did not. Human sexuality is tricky this way, which is why the priestesses took such care to reduce the volatility of this variable.

The Sapphire Priestessess, of which Sylani was one of the most fair, had many important tasks to perform in the world, not least of which was to serve in preserving the balance of relationship between women and men. And also from time to time, to heal the physical wounds of women and men.

Walok knew this, and also knew that only the acolyte of an Archon would understand why his Sinasho had poisoned him. He was fortunate to have reached the ear of young Arjuna before being swept back into unconsciousness.

-

Ramlin was lying facedown on a soft mat on the floor, while Sylani rubbed a pea green salve onto the bruises on his back.

“What is this stuff?” asked Ramlin.

“Mostly an arnica rub,” said Sylani, “with yarrow, calendula, comfrey, and a few other lovely herbs. It’ll reduce your swelling and bruising, and will help quicken the healing process.”

She giggled a little and exclaimed, “And doesn’t it feel just wonderful on your skin? That’s the beeswax! You’ll be so smooth by morning!”

“But I think someone owes you an apology for giving you these lumps in the first place!” Sylani shot a mischevious glance at Mokai,

Mokai looked up from gathering Walok’s robes with an unapologetic smile, “Apology? That was the most impressive flying somersault I’ve ever seen, he should be thanking me!”

Sylani yelped, “Mokai!”

Arjuna, unable to continue to holding his worry, blurted out, “I’m sorry to interrupt, but do either of you know what’s happened to Walok?”

Mokai looked embarrassed. “I apologize my boy, were you very close to him?”

Arjuna’s eyes brimmed with tears, “He adopted me when my parents disappeared. I…I don’t even remember them, save for the stories Walok would tell. If I lose Walok, I’ll have no one.” Arjuna’s composure disintegrated, and he wept openly.

Sylani moved to Arjuna’s side and placed his head on her shoulder. She rubbed his back, “Don’t worry sweetheart; Walok looks like he’s going to make it through. His body is in the process of detoxifying now, with the help of some really special medicine from the Sisterhood. You were right to bring him here.”

Arjuna sniffled. “He asked to come here. I had heard of Sapphire Houses before, but I didn’t really know anything about them or what happens here.”


Sylani softly nuzzled her head into Arjuna’s. “These houses are the temples of the Cerulean Archon,” she explained. “Its part of her contribution to the health of our world.”

“Our healing practices, for the physical as well as spiritual bodies, are all by her divine example. We are taught the power of allowing our lives to flow like water, and to make changes by grace, not by force. No matter what happens to you, if you can flow into it, like water into a new container, things will be better for you.”

She looked up at him. “Why don’t you try it now? Try to imagine that Walok’s sickness is an important part of his story, and that you are filling your divine purpose by bringing him here, and weeping for him.”

Arjuna, still filled with sadness, felt a little less overwhelmed. He straightened his hunched back a little and felt better. “So this is what you do here? You help people feel better about their lot in life?”

She motioned to the circular room around them. “These houses help to keep our practices and medicines alive. By keeping our bodies and our communities healthy, our societies can continue to survive.”

“However,” she said as her tone became more subdued, “accepting the events of your life does not preclude you from trying to make them better. It’s a very delicate paradox, but one that is very important.”

Arjuna thought of the Seven Secrets. Every Truth Must Contain Its Opposite.

“Pollution spreads quickly,” she continued. “Just as poison in one river can affect many others, one sick or violent individual can affect ten more, which will affect ten more.”

She locked eyes with Moksai for a moment, and then looked in the direction of Walok.

“Something has poisoned the Sinasho plants, and I’m afraid that something sinister is afoot.”

Arjuna lifted his head and looked into Sylani’s eyes. “What…what if it was just a bad plant? Surely all of the Sinasho plants in the world couldn’t have been poisoned,” he asked.

Mokai spoke up, “We’ve examined the Sinasho already, and it had not been tampered with. It, unfortunately, is pure.”

Sylani shook her head gravely. “Although this plant may have been miles away from its nearest relative, and a thousand miles away from where the plant originated in the Scarlet, they are all connected. Separateness, for them and us, is simply illusion. It’s the same for plants and elements and humans.”

“Think about what happens when an angry person enters a room, she explained. “They need not venture a word to begin to affect the people around them. We can feel it, and we are affected. The field has been disturbed, and so it is with the Sinasho”.

She looked in the direction of her pouring waterspout. “It’s harder to imagine that plants could react this way, but think of the water. It’s much easier to see how quickly an infection could spread.”

She thought of the Great Plague, but didn’t dare mention it aloud.

She stood up and faced the boys. “I wish with all of my heart that I’m mistaken, but I believe something has happened to one of the Archons.”

Ariel
December 31st, 2012, 08:07 PM
Now things are starting to draw together.

At one point you have Mokai's name as "Moksai."

The banter between Sylani and Mokai really emphasizes their familiar relationship and, to me, feels like that of a brother and sister.

Still love the voice in this piece.