Wicken Tales Chapter 8: The Prophet of Tarabel

Tyler Golec,

Bonfire

They reached Cahrmarch before noon the next day.  Edipen rode at Malick’s left, Meyhill rode at Malick’s right. Malick bore the flag of the Trinity identifying them as friends to the followers of the prophet.

The city was not large enough for the thousand or so followers that had migrated here. It was meant as a military harbor. As they rode by a frozen over dock, Malick saw people loading onto the steel clad behemoths.

“How do those float?” Meyhill asked.

“Buoyancy,” Edipen answered.

“Oh,” Meyhill answered.

Malick squinted at the boats through the seemingly constant snow. He’d read about them, they were called Ice-cutters. He wanted badly to see one cut its way out of the harbor.

The city was built in planned rings with the stronghold of the city on a hill at the center. That however was not where they were headed. Their destination was the small church in the City. There the mass of people thickened and their progress was slowed. They had to wait for the tide to part.

The Prophet was speaking to them from the steps in front of the city. “Tarabel has given to his people the gift of the Cahrmarch, now he offers us the far greater seat of Steilina where we can grow strong! We must have faith enough in him to brave the winter waters! Lead your families to the boats, we sail when all are on board.” The Prophet was encompassed with light that spread and touched everyone in the crowd. Malick felt his amulet of the trinity grow cold and heavy.

A look at Edipen and Meyhill confirmed that they’d felt it too. “Let’s keep our guard up while we talk to this, Prophet,” Malick said.

The Prophet saw them. “Friends from the Monastery, I’m glad you have come so soon, had you waited yet another day I may have been at sea! Come, let’s talk in the chapel.”

The three Wicken dismounted and passed their reins to the Prophet’s men who offered to take them. The Prophet was young. Malick guessed that they were close to the same age.

“My name is Malick Amora.” Malick reached out his hand when he reached Prophet.

“My pleasure,” The Prophet said excepting his grasp. Malick’s amulet started to chill his body, and felt like ice through his shirt. He had only felt his amulet react like this in the Fae.

The Prophet led them into the Chapel. The worshiping house of the Trinity had been remodeled. All the decorations and religious symbols that had adorned the wall had been removed. And the priest now only wore robes of simple white.

“Tarabel does not require the idols that the Trinity once required us to hold.” The Prophet began to explain, noticing the Wicken looking around confused. “Tarabel cares only for the light, so that is why we honor him with these simple white robes.”

Malick nodded. If it wasn’t for the frigid metal amulet on his chest he might be enjoying this new take on religion. “Tarabel? How do you talk with him? Shouldn’t he be as far from reaching us as the rest of Heaven?”

“He stayed behind,” The Prophet answered. “In the Mortal not the Fae.”

“And after thousands of years he appears now?” Malick asked. Malick’s partners were clearly uncomfortable and were adjusting their amulets constantly. Malick was trying to act easy with the Prophet.

“Yes, Hell is coming. And Tarabel now needs us to take his light and grow strong so we can fight the hordes when they arrive.” Something in Malick’s face must have betrayed him, “You know this? You don’t act surprised?”

“Over a month ago I was investigating a source of corruption in the Fae. We found a pool where something from Hell was crossing. I watched a Faery kill the thing.”

“Then you know our time is desperate.”

“I figured action was needed,” Malick said. “The Wicken will stop Hell from crossing into the Fae.”

“What about crossing to the Mortal, can you stop that?”

“That’s not possible.”

“I have seen it; it was Hell that destroyed Ironmore.”

Malick couldn’t believe that. It was too soon, yet he couldn’t deny what his amulet was telling him. Malick had as much conversation as he desired. “Well thank you for the conversation Prophet. We’ll be returning to the Monastery now.”

“No, not yet. Tarabel has told all about the threat of the Wicken. We tolerate your witchcraft for your service of taming the Fae, but your thousand years of necessity are over. Sorry friend, the light will now fight its own battles.” The doors to the Chapel shut. The three Wicken were surrounded by ten armed men and a dozen robed priests. “Please drop your weapons. I do not want to see blood flow in this holy place.”

“Holy?” Meyhill laughed. “This place is holy corrupt.” He tore his amulet from under his chest. “Look.” You could visually see air cooling around it. “We might as well be standing in Alrule shaking Disinner’s hand while bending Belghrah over a table!”

Malick didn’t wait to see how the Prophet would react. They were less visibly armed than most of the Prophet’s men – Malick counted two firearms among all of them; he mostly saw crossbows, crude swords, spears, and even a few clubs.

Malick had the two pistols on his belt holster out in a too-swift-to-see motion. One was trained on the Prophet the other he pointed at Prophet’s men as he spoke. “We’re going to leave. Someone open the door and someone else go and get our horses.” Meyhill and Edipen also had pistols in their hands.

The Prophet flickered. Malick pulled the trigger. The Prophet vanished. The room erupted. Malick fired his second pistol taking out a man as he went for his rifle. The other Wicken found targets. Malick holstered his pistols and drew two more from inside his coat. He found two more targets as he ran to a window. He holstered those two pistols and drew two more, also from his coat. He fired them but never looked to see if they hit. Protecting his face with his arms, Malick threw himself through the stain glass window. He hit the ground and was able to roll. His chin was hot from were glass had sliced him.

His exit onto the street quickly attracted attention. He drew his rapier then drew one of his last two pistols from his right sleeve. When fighting a creature from the Fae you don’t have time to reload your pistols, a Wicken’s most effective weapon. To combat this, their coats were designed: while being strong enough to take a bullet they were able to handle the bulk of four pistols concealed in the chest and one up each sleeve. They were smaller guns than those he wore on his waste, but they worked quite well.

Edipen and Mayhill were soon through the broken window. The three of them charged through the mass of followers, luckily none really stood in their way.

“We need our horses,” Edipen said.

“We can’t get the horses. We don’t know where they took them!” Malick shouted back.

Malick heard the voice of the Prophet carry over Carhmarch. “See the Wicken flee us, they are not of Tarabel’s Light!”

Malick saw an older man walking two horses. He rushed him knocking him to the ground. ”Sorry.”

Edipen hopped on a horse and took off. Malick jumped onto the second, he barely managed to calm the animal before Meyhill jumped on behind him.

“This is insanity,” Meyhill said before Malick kicked there horse into motion. The Three Wicken fled Cahrmarch.

“Anyone following us?” Malick asked.

Meyhill looked backwards. “No. Malick, I thought Hell had only managed to reach the Fae?”

“I guess we were wrong.”

******************************************************************************

Strom massaged his temples. His head had hurt since his encounter with the Wicken.

“It was their Fae presence. They are little different than the common warlock,” Tarabel spoke as he stood beside Strom at the stern of the lead Icecutter. The fortress-palace of Steilina had just come into view. The ocean fog was starting to clear.

“So when do we remove them.”

“They will remove themselves, we have our own concerns.”

“Steilina?”

“No, Steilina I give to you.” The air buffeted the deck as Tarabel took off. The Shield of the Mother and Sword of the Father materializing in his hands – Strom watched Tarabel descend as a ball flame into Steilina.

******************************************************************************

Fire on the Sand Screams. All she could hear were screams. Her father had run outside when the fires had started – when Steilina had started burning. He hadn’t returned.

“Marsha!” Marsha’s mother ran through the front door of her home; the door Marsha had been starring at. Her Mother’s face was covered with ash. Her scalp was bleeding. A single drop rolled down the creases of her forehead to clot on her eyebrow. She stepped inside the door. Then the door and the walls exploded.

Marsha was lying on her back – her head was ringing. She rolled to her side. The front of her house was gone. Her mother was gone.  Replacing them was a winged monster wreathed in fire, barring a weapon – a blade that felt hot enough to burn the soul. And a shield – a great black mass that absorbed light. The creature’s eyes bled flames and they were looking right at her.

Her father had told her that monsters weren’t real but her mother had told her stories. None had been this terrible. She didn’t feel anything, no fear, no panic, no awe. It took a step towards her.

“Tarabel,” Marsha said without thinking. Without knowing why.

It stopped, tilted its head and examined her.

“I know your pain, I know how you fell,” Marsha said, empty to all feeling. It pointed its sword at Marsha, and that was the last thing she saw.

******************************************************************************

A woman pulled away from the orb of Adaen and looked east across the Oderick Sea, towards the mainland. “I spoke to him.”

“Tarabel?”

“I found a mind open enough to touch,” She said. “A child’s.”

“Did he say anything?”

“No, but now he knows we’re watching.”

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