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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28 thoughts on “The Spirit Warrior

      1. No, you did make it look like a fantasy. My comment was too short. The cave world was relatable to me as early human, but the signs were there before the spirits started talking. I do agree though that this has the potential depth to be much longer.

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  1. I love the details in this; The igneous rock, the spirits, the obsidian, The basilisk, the Troll and Goblin histories, the amber crystal. They all helped to project a clear picture of this world and its inhabitants. I did have a question about the smell of sulfur and the amber crystal — how did the crystal mask the smell?

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    1. Thanks, Asha! I wish I had more space. I had to cut around 200+ words to get it into the grids as it was. One of the things I ended up cutting was to do with the crystals’ properties. It had a strong smell of incense.

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      1. Melony! This is so interesting. I was wondering whether you had to cut to fit the word count. It’d be cool to see some of those details make their way back into the story (maybe as another “chapter”?).

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  2. Good tension with taking the young ones down the forbidden left path. I wasn’t sure if the narrator’s intent was good or bad at that point. The end makes it clear.

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  3. I really liked how you built the tension – telling us that the basilisk would stop the spirits from speaking to them, but weaving in the whispers… there are so many rich details here. I’d love to see this spun into something longer – as I’m curious about your characters and world!

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  4. Lots of things happening in this story — I like the sensory details. I was pulled out of the story a smidge (likely my own fault) when you talked about basilisk milk. The only basilisk I’ve ever seen depicted was in Harry Potter and seemed very reptilian — which would mean it would produce no milk.

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    1. Thanks so much. 🙂 I did think about that. I wondered if it would pull anyone out of the story, but I was looking for a secretion from the basilisk that could be consumed without making someone cringe too much. I figured since a basilisk is a fantasy creature, I could get away with it anyway. hah Thanks for the feedback!

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  5. The way you wrote this lent itself to the fantasy storyline. The narrator referencing lore especially made this tale feel expansive. I would have liked to have lingered longer in the moment where the spirits infiltrate the cavern. What did the spirits look like? The “suddenly” felt too abrupt. More active verbs could be included in the story, too. “but their posture became rigid” could be “but they tensed”

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    1. Thanks, Nate! I wish I had more space. I think I will need to expand on this, as 750 words didn’t give me enough time to continue with the descriptions I was able to do in the first half of the story. One of my goals for 2018 is to work harder on my verbing (I can make up words, right?). hehe Concrit has been great to show me that this is one of my weaknesses. 🙂

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  6. Nice work on the details! I could really see everything in my mind. I’m confused about one thing. Did they go left? Because if so, “I followed the path as I always had” doesn’t make sense unless she always goes left? But in the beginning it implies they never go left or they won’t come back. How could she have gone left and come back all of those times but not this time? Or were they just eliminating spirits in the left fork but going right? Maybe it’s just me 🙂

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    1. Thanks, Stacie! They did go left. The young ones were selected to be part of a ritual to become Spirit Warriors. The crystals were used to protect the group, as the properties within them shined a light on the spirits. Once in the throne room, they were all going to drink from the fountain, which was the basilisk’s milk, but the ritual was interrupted by the broken pact. That was one of the details I trimmed to pretty much non-existence to get within the word count, so completely understandable it was confusing. Apologies for that!

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  7. I’m so impressed by how complete this story is in such a short space, and it’s in a made-up world that you have to introduce. The pacing was good for me on this, but I had a few odd questions early on. I’m echoing others here, but the amber masking the sulfur and the choice of the path they weren’t supposed to take made me stop and question. Small details though. Well done!

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    1. Thanks so much, Michelle! 😀 I wish I had had more space. haha I had to cut so much to make the word limit and had hoped I’d left enough detail. I’ve tried to answer some of the more burning questions above, but happy that despite all that you still enjoyed the story. 🙂

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      1. It’s a genre that I don’t read often because it can feel so contrived or hard to understand (re: I feel dumb). But I was hooked here. I think it was totally contained but if you build on it or expand on it, I want to read it, please!

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