Friday, March 09, 2007

Scrolls of the Gatekeeper (Part VI) Paladin

The road back home is long. Thirty hawk sitings have made it bearable, however. The bug juice on the window--not so much. Northern California, San Jose, is quite quant and I would like to update you on the Creative Spirit seminar later as well as the CineQuest film festival. In the meantime catch up with the Warriors, won't you? The chapter before can be found here.

“You thought otherwise?” Pernicious grunts, knowing his friend’s desire for him to return to all that is good. His voice is deep, raspy and depraved. It does not fit his appearance.

Paladin retreats, but no more than two steps. “How does it feel? Your former body?” he asks with a playful smile.

“No difference,” Pernicious muttered (a lie, in all probability).

Paladin grins and says, “I think you are most incapable of telling the truth.”

Talmud (acting more like Whisperer than Warrior) faces his foe and mirrors his every move. “So many scars on your body,” he snickers. “Does anyone care?”

“Many,” says the faithful Guardian. He kneels on one knee, letting the palms of his unshakable hand caress the freshness of soft grass. His demeanor, to say the least, bothers Talmud, who shifts within inches from Paladin’s face.

“Wouldn’t you like to join me?” he whispers. “I know you have thought about it. Struggled with it. Why have such conflict in your existence? I do as I please, take what I want, listen to no one. And there are things this world has to offer that have been kept from us, Paladin. It is all ours to take and to control.”

“What do you control, Talmud? Where is your kingdom?” Paladin asks. “Who is a part of your kingdom? There is not one you can trust. And it appears no one follows you either. I am but one Warrior crossing the river and those with you have scattered to the hills. And Tamarrah . . . did you not forsake Paradise for her? Yet you know she will never be yours. It is only desire, after all.”

“There will be no choice for her,” Talmud bellows. He is agitated now and turns his anger towards Paladin. The Whisperer takes one incredible Warrior-like leap into the cold night air taking dead aim for the Guardian.

Paladin’s skill takes him out of harm’s way. He pounces away like a cat on prey completely avoiding Talmud’s flight. Talmud lands hard on his back with a loud thump that echoes right through him. He rolls over, recovers slowly and sits like a wounded frog as madness and hatred fills his eyes. Talmud is wicked through and through and Paladin will not forget it.

The Warrior wipes his face, throws his sword into the Effervescence and stands ready to thrash his enemy.

“Fair enough,” Talmud scoffs. Charged lightning screams towards Paladin.

For a second time, the Warrior moves effortlessly out of the way and with unexpected swiftness seizes the forsaken Whisperer by the throat. A devastating blow to the chest knocks the air out of Talmud. Mercy abandons the Warrior. Paladin crushes his victim’s torso and shoves him deeper into the earth.

Talmud grimaces, wrapping his huge hands around Paladin’s throat. The Warrior smiles. He is not affected. “I don’t remember you this weak,” he says.

Paladin slams his right fist into Talmud’s sturdy jaw. Then, surprisingly, Talmud hammers his bony forehead into the bridge of the Warrior’s nose. They both stagger a few feet away from the other. Their blood drips generously. Each breath, for both, yields great effort to survive this contest.
Talmud tries one more time to lure Paladin over to his side. “Join me, Paladin,” he pleads. “We can do so much together.”

Paladin is not swayed. “There is nothing you offer that is worth betraying the King.”

“You’ve made your choice, then?” Talmud asks.

Paladin nods. “A long time ago, you coward. A long time ago.”

As he speaks those words, an inner strength fills the faithful Guardian. Talmud recognizes the source of that strength and is deeply troubled.

“And so it ends,” Paladin says. His attack is ruthless and direct. The fury of the elements clashes around them. True lightning strikes as wind blows water, dirt and blood together. The smell of doom is nearby.

An unwavering assault on Talmud leaves him dangling in Paladin’s arms. Every part of him is broken including his will to live. Yet live he must—in eternal agony, a deathless living in everlasting abandonment.

“Kill me, then,” he begs.

Paladin pities him but does nothing more. He watches the once mighty Warrior’s body change back to the spiny and worthless creature Pernicious has chosen to be.

At Paladin’s feet, Pernicious’ life lies sputtering in convulsions, defeated by his greatest enemy, though he cannot quite remember why he hates Paladin so. He just does. The earth scolds him as he whimpers away in loathsome puddles of mud. Why can’t I die, he thought.

Paladin turns his back. He walks into the Effervescence River where he eases his own wounds with the life-giving water. His scars remain, but fade from his memory.

Pernicious slithers slowly to the edge, “Let me die here in His water,” he hisses.

Paladin looks over his shoulder. “Your life cannot end, Pernicious. Do you not remember the consequences of your choices?”

Pernicious stumbles into the Effervescence hoping for an end, but the waters burn him alive. Paladin closes his eyes. A shell of a body floats upon the powerful river and carries it south to the Moribund.

1 comment:

Sharon Lynne said...

Hey Gatekeeper--Just want to say "Hi" and thanks for the kind encouragement on my blog! Have a great day! And keep up the great writing!