Chapter Six – Push
Eldrian floated down to the heels of his shoes atop the mountain peak. It wasn’t as graceful as his winged companion, but he managed. The wizard ceased flying and beside him the crow grew and shifted back into the human it was earlier. Around them were the ancient ruined remains of Inca stone.
Beyond the various faded walls was a drop of emerald green. They were incredibly high in altitude, but it wasn’t fear that caught the wizard’s eye, but the beauty of thew view he was given. The air was fresh and cool, and the mountains surrounded the area were thickly covered in trees and grass. There was not another soul around them as well—just Eldrian and Daveon standing at Machu Picchu, waiting for the others to catch up. They would be arriving soon, but until then, they had a moment of quiet.
“Why are you here, Eldrian?”
“What do you mean?” the wizard asked in quick reply. “To figure out how Rend got so powerful. Lucy asked me. If she asks me to look into a matter, I probably do it.”
“But, why exactly? Are you going to take the power yourself?”
“Besides not really wanting to look like he did… No, I wouldn’t anyway. I want to be a powerful wizard, but I’m not going to take some great power out from under someone’s nose. If someone offers me help, I’ll take it, but I’m not here to take anything, no. Really, I’m just curious!”
“Curious to see what’s here?”
Eldrian nodded. “An ancient group of magicians…”
“I don’t know that much about them myself, you know. Like I said, we might not even be able to get inside. I’ve heard only the legends of the Inca Monks. Stories tell of a group, hidden away from even wizards, who practice magic and guard dangerous artifacts from falling into the wrong hands. One more question, though, Eldrian. Why are you even trying to be a great wizard?”
“Why wouldn’t I? Being a wizard is a lot of fun. And I guess, I can protect people, especially the ones who mean a lot to me.”
“We made it!” shouted Kevin.
Both him and Deena came up and around the bend, reaching the top to join their companions. They looked a little winded, but the two approached Eldrian and Daveon, and finally they were back together. All four could enjoy the sight.
“Flying is one of the most tricky types of magic,” Deena said.
“I’ve been practicing really hard,” responded Eldrian. “I figure it’s about time. I’ve been getting better, and when is flying not useful? So, just tell us where to go, Daveon. I’ll be right behind you.”
Daveon nodded. He started his way through the ruins. Visitors came here often, but it’s unlikely any knew of the hidden location, magically secreted among the ruins for countless years. Some knew, and Daveon was one of them. He brought them around the walls and eventually into one of the broken structures. Inside was nothing but smooth stone and silence. Not even Eldrian’s magic eyes noticed anything obvious.
Slowly, the druid knocked his knuckles against the wall. He placed his palm with fingers out-stretched, and embraced the coldness of the rock. Around this, a delicate hue of arcane figures wrapped a circle near his hand. It rippled, and the magic soon subsided.
“Did it work?” Eldrian asked.
“I don’t know… I heard that all you need to do is knock, and signal with magic. I’ve never actually been in before.”
“What if it doesn’t exist?” Kevin spoke. “That would suck.”
Eldrian shook his head. “It has to exist. I can feel it. Legends start for a reason, and you’re slowly going to realize that in the word of wizardry, very little is impossible.”
“Sorry, guys. Maybe this is the wrong place,” Daveon said with a sigh.
A moment more passed before finally, a whisper sent a shiver down each of their spines. Whether they realized it or not, the voice was in their minds. Not another person could hear but those four. Their gazes shot around to find the source, before one by one, they came to the same conclusion that this magical speaking was telepathic.
“Why have you come, wizards?” spoke the voice.
“We heard a power of yours might have been stolen recently,” came a reply from Daveon after a moment of hesitation. “We mean you no harm.”
“Leave. You are not wanted here, strangers.”
Eldrian spoke up. “Me and my friends fought Rend Devilclaw. Somehow he stole something from you guys, and we want to investigate. We want to help. Rend is captured now. You don’t have to worry about him anymore.”
There was a long pause this time. At first, they thought they were completely ignored, but in reality, it was the voice that was hesitant—thinking.
“It was you who apprehended the demon?” it finally said.
“Yes. Me, Kevin, and Deena..Daveon we just met, and I’m already getting a little tired of girls swooning over his name, but…”
“You may enter.”
Despite the thinness of the wall, an opening split to the sound of rumbling stone. A magic gate was open now, and they stared through to see a marble walkway lit by braziers. However, the flames seemed to give off no heat at all. It was bright, because as they quickly noticed, it was opened to the sky.
They stepped inside, and the door closed behind them. As they stared up, they could see the sun and the clouds, but something seemed off.
“It’s a fake sky,” Eldrian said quietly as he took in the view. “It’s like we’re in a little pocket space.”
Before them were two men and a woman, each of them without a hair on their heads. They were dressed in robes with sleeves long enough to completely obscure their hands. Each was decoratively designed with vibrant colours and patterns. Alike the other citizens, their skin was a darker tone.
“I am Huanca,” spoke the first. He was dressed in mostly red. His face was narrow.
“I am Pachama,” spoke the woman. She was dressed in mostly green. Her nose was long and pointed, like a dousing rod.
“I am Urco,” spoke the last. He was dressed in mostly blue. He had a rounder face.
Each, as they spoke, bowed in an exact manner to the next. Their formality was impressive. Despite how kind they sounded, none of them showed an obvious smile. It was Huanca that spoke first beyond introductions, almost immediately after the others.
“We greet you, Eldrian, Kevin, Deena, and Daveon. Welcome to the Temple of the Inca Monks. You must understand our distrust for strangers. Even before the incident, we hid, but now we are in high alert. One of our sacred relics was stolen, and we still had no idea how.”
Urco spoke next. “None of us saw the demon in question, and nobody heard of a suspicious individual entering or leaving our temple during the time of the item going missing.”
“We will need to accompany you at all times. Please understand our caution,” said Pachama.
“It’s fine,” replied Eldrian with a short laugh and a smile. “Lucy just wants us to find out how Rend got so strong. Can you tell us anything?”
The three monks looked to each other.
“They represent a demon themselves,” whispered Pachama.
“But she does seek to contain her kind,” replied Urco.
“Come,” Haunca said with a gesture of his hand. “Follow us. We can converse more on this matter in a better environment. We will go to a room for discussion. We will sit and talk over tea, and then we will decide if you are to be trusted.”
They nodded in agreement ant began behind the three robed figures. The four of them were led through a beautiful garden, filled with trees and colourful flowers. The area’s size was unknown, but it seemed to be gigantic. Around them they saw various other decorated people—some in robes, some in other types of clothes, but all were just as vibrant as the three.
Best of all, many of them were practicing magic.
Eldrian looked around, and spotted a couple fly through the air above them. From someone’s fingers, a wave of flames erupted. Thankfully, nothing was caught in the blaze. It was unlikely to happen, he figured. The control over magic these people had was obvious.
He saw a few people practicing the same spell over and over again. They stood firmly in the ground, and thrust out their palms. Nothing visible came forth, but objects in front of them shook, as if a wave of force was travelling out of their hands, like a close range shock-wave. Push!
“For hundreds of years,” Huanca began to speak. “We lived here. The world was not and is not ready for magic. It’s too dangerous in the wrong hands, and people have come to understand it even less in modern times.”
At the other end of the garden, they found themselves entertain a beautiful building. The floors were smooth, and so clean that they could nearly make out their reflections. They moved across the tiles, and soon to a room with a large oval table.
“Urco,” spoke the woman. “Can you please start some tea for our guests?”
“Naturally,” he replied, and walked off.
Everybody took a seat. Not long after, the man in blue came into the room with a teapot and cups. Each of them was pristine, but they were priceless and ancient. Steam arose as he filled each cup and distributed them to the other monks and their guests.
Deena slowly raised the cup to her lips. She blew, and took a quiet sip. It was delicious. However, her expression didn’t show you enjoyment. Her eyes turned to Eldrian slowly.
“Why did you mention Lucy?”
“They deserve to know the truth, and Lucy’s my friend.”
“Demons are rarely to be trusted,” the woman in green spoke quietly.
Urco nodded. “She is correct.”
Deena placed down the tea cup and sighed. “Apologies… to you, Eldrian. Demons are not always evil. And if it wasn’t for Eldrian and Lucy, Rend would have likely killed many before the government caught him. And what if they didn’t kill him, but used him?”
“Evil or not, somehow, we lost something. Over the past hundred years, we’ve lost only two sacred relics. No longer can we be careful,” said the man in red.
“Oh. What were the relics, anyway?” asked Eldrian curiously. “Magic items are so cool.”
Letting out a sigh through his nose, Huanca began to speak. “First, we lost the Megaton Gauntlet. Now, this Rend Devilclaw somehow stole the Elixir of Strength. If people are hurt because of this, the shame falls on us. The few items we have left we will guard with our lives. You are only allowed stay for now because it was you who stopped people from being slain by Rend.”
“The worst part,” Urco added. “Is that by how things sound, it may have been one of our own to betray us and allow the Elixir to go missing. It is impossible to break into this place. Somebody had to have opened the gate.”
“What would push somebody to do that?” Eldrian asked with a shake of his head.
“Something strong. That’s what I fear,” Pachama said.
“How long can we stay?” asked Kevin. “This place is beautiful. I never want to leave.”
“Them staying is dangerous,” spoke Pachama.
“I agree,” Urco said.
Huanca sipped from his cup. “It is. But we have gotten nowhere solving our own mystery.”
“I have an idea, Huanca,” the man in blue said. “They are too large in numbers. Perhaps if only one stayed to help, we would have less difficulty keeping an eye on our guests.”
He nodded. “Perhaps… I’m hesitant to have even one within our halls. If we are to have aid, I am inclined to agree with Urco. One of you may stay until decided otherwise.”
“Who stays?” asked Eldrian to his friends.
“I think I’d be pretty useless,” said Kevin with a shrug. “I have this sword, but I’m not all that clever, and I’m not even a wizard.”
Deena added, “Tempting, but I believe you would do better in this situation, Eldrian.”
“I’m new here, and feel a little out of place. I kind of want to stay, but to relax, not to solve a mystery. You seem pretty cool, Eldrian. I wouldn’t mind leaving if you’re going to stay.”
“What? Seriously?” Eldrian responded with a raise of his brow. “Well, I definitely don’t mind staying. Count me in, guys. I’ll help figure this out. Being a wizard isn’t just about blowing stuff up. It’s about mind-power! Solving the mysteries of the universe. Like a scientist, but with more sparkles.”
“You may fit in here more than you think,” Pachama said with a bow of her head.
Huanca looked upon his guests. “It is agreed upon then. After tea, all of you shall depart for the time being except for your friend Eldrian. We will then begin the investigation on the disappearance of the Elixir of Strength.
Pachama spoke. “Now, please. Let us enjoy the rest of our drinks in peace. No more discussion for now. The herbs used to brew this tea are nothing like what outsiders would find. Not anymore. You may say this tea is… so cool?”
Stay tuned for Chapter Seven – Complementary Colours!