The Spirit Warrior

Obsidian goblins – faces tortured and motionless – watched our trek. As a young one, I swore I heard their chatter in the catacombs. Their ghosts would give me night terrors until my father took me to the Ritual of Spirits.

The sound of water trickled from the stalactites above us. The sulfuric scent in the cavern was masked only by the amber crystal I carried in my hand.

I stopped at a fork in the cave and turned to the young ones behind me. For our yearly pilgrimage, we all would take the path to the right, warning: “never take the left.” Every few years, one would dare it and not return. It was a lesson that none forget.

I smiled and turned toward the left corridor. Their faces bespoke no fear, but their posture became rigid. My mate nodded to me at the end of the group and ushered the young ones towards me.

Trista ugar nabulosum. Trista ugar nabulosum,” my mate and I chanted.

Our crystals lit up showering light upon the spirits surrounding our party. We had entered their land. Without the chant, without the amber, we would be lost here.

A shriek echoed through the cave, and the spirits shrank away. The eyes of the young ones widened.

“Tavykha,” I heard my name called. I looked back upon Tav’i, but she shook her head.

I followed the path as I always had until we reached the throne room. Here the spirits did not enter. With the young ones inside, Tav’i closed the door and we circled the perimeter – our chants lighting the chamber. The group gasped at the remnants of the Troll Dynasty before them. Beast-skulls lined the walls; our sigil hung over the throne. In the centre of the circular room was a raised platform bearing a large fountain.

The door to the chamber rattled. I heard my name, but it was best I ignored it. Spirits were not allowed to speak with the living.

I ushered the young to sit down in front of the fountain and placed my hand inside it. I drank from my cupped hand.

“Long ago our troll ancestors lived in this cave,” I began.

“One Winter, the Obsidian Basilisk could see our people dying and invited us into the cave to live until summer returned,” Tav’i said.

“The basilisk protected us from our enemies, the goblins, and turned any that entered into obsidian. The troll dynasty built this throne room for our Troll-king. But after a whole winter in here, the Troll-king started to show signs of madness. The basilisk realized that we could not see what she could see and fed one of us her milk.”

“That’s when the first Spirit Warrior was born. He saw what the basilisk saw.”

“The cave was touching the underworld,” I said. “And the spirits were maddening the king. The basilisk and the first spirit warrior made a pact. The Spirit Warrior would protect all peoples from the spirits, and the basilisk would stop any spirits from speaking to the living. If ever they did, she would turn their spirit to obsidian.”

“And thus we have remained protected since. The amber and the chant stop us from losing our way during the ritual.”

The door rattled once more. Voices echoed within.

“Tavykha!” I heard.

“The basilisk is dead!” another cried.

Suddenly the door swung open.

Jumping over the fountain and the young ones, I swung my weapon at the spirits pouring in with Tav’i at my side. We swung at foe after foe, but spirits kept coming in. Unable to stop the onslaught, I watched in horror as our group met the spirits’ touches. Defenceless, their souls were snatched from their bodies.

“Run!” I cried as I pushed through the door, grabbing Tav’i’s hand. We had to warn the others. Tav’i and I hacked our way through the mob, but still they pulled on our souls.

Tav’i shrieked, her hand going limp. I dared not look back, but I knew the truth. My mate was gone.

I kept running towards the obsidian goblin entrance. If I could reach it, I could protect my clan.

The amber crystal glowed bright as I reached the goblins. The spirits grabbed hold of me.

I slammed the amber crystal into a stalagmite. The igneous stone exploded. Stalagtites crashed down, trapping us inside. As my soul was pulled from my body, I smiled. The crystal’s magic had worked. The spirits could not escape here today.


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How to Test a Relationship

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It starts simple. An argument – the eponymous lover’s quarrel – begins somewhere. For you it might be the way the trash can is clearly full but he/she keeps pushing it down to avoid taking it out. Or it might be the way you nag about his or her driving habits. Or the way the toilet roll is always in the wrong direction on the holder. It’s usually the little stuff, or a combination thereof. Sometimes, it’s something big, though.

In this instance, it is one little word: Renovations.

Don’t worry. There’s always a honeymoon period. When you and your significant other realize it needs to be done and start talking at length about how to do it and how great it will be when it’s done. The arguments might not even start at this point. You may agree on everything. You may be formulating the way it needs to be done in your head, though; you may even be planning without including him or her into your thoughts. Keep doing that. That’s Step 1.

Step 2: Initiate dispute at the hardware store. It needs to be in a public place to heighten the annoyances of both parties involved. Perhaps it will start with hushed voices in the corner in front of the spanners or whatever tools you need to complete the job. You may notice a couple of people glancing over their shoulders at the pair of you. This is the moment you need to make a decision, but you won’t have any control over it. It will be your nature that will drive you to become either embarrassed or emboldened. Whichever it is, the result is usually the same – a raised voice. “Let’s talk about this at home.” “All these people can see how I’m right and you’re wrong.”

Step 3: After agreeing that you have too many eyes on you, move to the important part of the hardware store. The place where you will pick the integral product that needs replacing. For this, let’s say a kitchen faucet. This is where that earlier planning comes into play. Be sure to stand your ground on the type you want. This will increase your partner’s anger, who is still in a heightened level of rage from the aforementioned whisper battle. Involve the shop clerk. Maybe your partner will ignore the fact the clerk is there while you are deftly aware of how you are wasting the clerk’s time. You may even start thinking about how it must look as they watch your marriage devolve into a pissing contest. More embarrassment is great fuel for the burning remains of your once strong relationship.

Once you’ve finally agreed on what you are doing (note: this may take more than one tripto the hardware store), Step 4 begins: the actual renovation. The key to this step is to ignore everything your significant other is saying, “Hold that here.” “Shine the light there.” Because you are now not invested, you will do the opposite inadvertently. Encourage the raising of voices so the neighbors can hear every word. “I AM HOLDING IT THERE!” (trust me, caps, bold, and italics doesn’t do the yelling justice. It. will. be. loud.) There may be moments where you will want to storm off and can’t. Grinding your teeth may help you get through this time.

Once you’re done installing, consider your next move for Step 5. Maybe you were a little wrong. Maybe this was the worst fight you have ever had. Maybe you don’t ever want this to happen again. Maybe you should kiss and make up. Or. Maybe you can’t consider kissing and making up. Maybe you should see a marriage counselor.

Step 6. Congratulations! You survive the test. Have a drink. And for the love of God, if this is what happens when you change a faucet, don’t suggest painting the inside of your house.


(I might be painting my house right now. I’m shocked to say it is going very well.)