If you haven’t yet, you can read Davu and the Fallen Star | Part One by clicking here.
The language of the ancient Africans would perhaps be little more than grunts and gestures to the dark elves of Kervossa. But joy, anger, and, in the case of Elder Adaeh, fear were all easily perceived.
Adaeh ran across the desert floor, lifting her slender legs with the speed of a young hunter, which she was not, and calling out in her language to alert the tribal scouts to her position. She jumped, slipped, and slid down the sand dunes, icy-white in the moonlight, and followed in Davu’s footsteps through the jagged, thinly-carved canyon. Her bare feet splashed in the puddles of a recent rainfall, the sounds echoing off the rock walls like drums. Adaeh could smell it still, the scent of the fallen star, the goddess, crashing to the earth, and when at last she reached the place where Davu and the goddess had vanished from this world, she found the object of her gravest nightmares. Bending down, lopsided and crotchety in her old age, she found the glimmering blue stone that she’d seen Davu hold moments before he’d turned to dust. She fell to her knees, for she knew this stone. She’d seen it a dozen times in the dark of sleep.
Another scout came up behind her then, kneeling down and placing a large but gentle hand on her shoulder. “What is it, Elder?” he asked, in his way, as the shimmering stone reflected in his eyes.
“Davu has gone, Bakuba,” said Adaeh. “Davu has gone to bring the creatures of light, to start The War.”
“They’re coming,” said Keruvu. “Daravara spotted a horde of them at the Gates of Alva.” Keruvu, speckled dark elf and one of King Gudrun’s guards, kneeled at her king’s feet and spoke with the ease of a warrior. But like all the dark elves left alive in King Gudrun’s domain, few as they were, she was afraid.
King Gudrun looked over Keruvu’s head, gazing wearily at the doors that held the night and darkness at bay, protected by an ancient enchantment that seemed now to be so fragile. “Do you believe in fate, Keruvu?” asked the king.
“Fate? We are the craftsman of our own victories and demise, my king. Even in this–if you’ll forgive me for saying it.”
“There’s nothing to forgive. Four hundred years have our people thrived and reigned over all of Kervossa. Four hundred fruitful years have the dark elves commanded every shrub in in the dirt and wind in the air, since first Her Majesty Alva walked these lands. And here my greed has brought us, to the edge of this cliff over which I fall, taking with me every last defender of our people, our culture, our memory… But, Keruvu, it is in this same faithless, rotten hour that the last prophecy ever told by our elders comes to pass. The tale of our salvation coming to pass with the long-told prophecy of our destruction.”
Keruvu said nothing.
“How is Hilde?” asked the king.
“Can she fight?”
“My king, only she could say,” said Keruvu.
“Then find Ranveig and have him wake the human scout. The end of all things has come, yes, but with it, the beginning of something far greater.”
There was no light in the room where Davu slept. And Davu did not sleep. He lie awake, his thoughts steeped in unrealized imaginations, a realm of the mind yet to be discovered by the humans of ancient Africa. The darkness gave him a canvas to paint the sands of home with only thought, but it robbed him of the knowledge that Ranveig, son of King Gudrun, stood beside his bed.
In the darkness, Ranveig crumbled a small red stone in his fingers and sprinkled the resulting dust over a torch mounted to the wall, and the wick burst into hot flames. Davu reached for his blade, prepared to cut down his attacker, but he stopped short when he saw Ranveig’s solemn face. “The healers have my sister on her feet again,” he said, still rubbing the red dust between his fingers. “She’d like to thank you.” He turned then, without another word, and opened the door to the small sleeping chamber, revealing Hilde standing under the doorway, her silver hair braided like a whip down her back. Ranveig bowed and left silently.
“They tell me your name is Davu,” said Hilde with a warm, if not pained, smile. She sat on the bedside.
“Yes,” answered Davu. “But, I’m not used to saying it this way… Your language, these words, feel unnatural on my tongue, and in my head.” He leaned in, inspecting her torso where she’d been bleeding. “You are healed?”
“Mostly.” Hilde placed her hand on her stomach and closed her eyes, reliving the gruesome scene. “I was stabbed through by my enemy. But he took only his blade, not my life. He left me to die slowly, alone in the forest. I’d taken a stone sacred to our people, a stone that our elders used say was a vessel holding all of the universe within, and I was going to use it against our enemy. To send them far away from this place, as our goddesses Euthalia and Anahita would want me to do — to save the land. But I failed. Instead, I harnessed the stone’s power to take me somewhere safe, and it took me to you.”
“If I can ask,” said Davu sheepishly, “who are your enemies?”
Hilde’s face drew low, her cheeks darkening and eyes glazing with tears. “They are called the Adze,” she answered. “They’re disease-bearing bloodsuckers. They can look as a tiny speck of light, like a bug on a tree, or they may appear as any one of our own…”
“What do you mean?” asked Davu, goosebumps tickling his skin.
“I mean that anybody in this temple could be an Adze, right now, and we wouldn’t know it, Davu.”
Just then, even as the words were leaving Hilde’s lips, Keruvu arrived in the doorway. “King Gudrun requests that both you join him for a meal,” said Keruvu, and then she paused for a long moment. “He wishes to see how you’re doing, as well, my princess.” She took a shaky breath and then departed as quickly as she’d come.
Hilde stood and held a hand out to Davu. “Come,” she said, “I’ll show you the way.”
Davu rose and followed the princess, heir to her father’s throne, from the sleeping chamber and down a hallway that was crowned with jewels and gold lace. But Davu didn’t want to go, because now every face he saw was a potential enemy—even Hilde herself. These were no longer gods and bearers of magic and unforetold power, these were Davu’s tribal elder’s greatest fears manifested. Davu realized that he was bringing forth his tribe’s earliest prophecy. He was the bearer of the disease. He was the harborer of ruin. He was the bringer of The War. And he swallowed hard as he entered the ornate dining hall where King Gudrun sat at a long silver and gold table, awaiting dinner guests.
“Sit, please,” said King Goodrun, smiling as best he could and holding his hands out towards the decorative chairs surrounding the tables. “A meal is the least I can offer for your efforts in saving my daughter.”
While dinner was had at King Gudrun’s table, Keruvu was opening the temple doors for the return of the only other remaining guard of the Kervossa throne, Daravara, who had been scouting out the approach of the Adze. With Daravara there came no seen threat, but as the doors shut behind him and he opened his mouth to share his findings at the Gates of Alva, he instead dove for Keruvu and dug his teeth into her shoulder. She toppled to the ground, struggling for her sword and sliding it through the torso of her closest friend, but it was too late. Keruvu died and an Adze that looked identical to her took her place, an Adze which had traveled in as a bug on the back of Daravara’s imposter. And with the fall of Keruvu and Daravara, there were now three Adze inside the temple.
Bakuba moved across the sands with a band of scouts and hunter-gatherers at his back, each holding the shoulder of another, and the glowing blue stone was in his fist. Elder Adaeh kneeled outside her hut and stared at the stars. “Find him, Bakuba,” she said, in grunts and unformed words. “Save him.” Bakuba nodded his head once and squeezed the stone, and before the elder’s eyes the small army vanished into thin air.
The End of Part Two
Part Three, the conclusion, will be posted in two weeks. Stay tuned!
Did you enjoy Part Two? If you want more reading now, head over to the Quick Reads page and find something to enjoy! You can also take a look at the books I’ve published on my Books page. And speaking of which, if you’re from the Pacific Northwest, my books are officially on the shelves of Another Read Through bookstore in Portland, Oregon! So if you’re close, you should stop by and check them out, too.
Have a great week!
Weekly Writing Prompt:
The desert is a dark, cold place at night. What’s lurking beneath those dunes?