Rise and Fall of the Frozen
Story #1: The Story of Almitra and "Mirra"
She felt their eyes. They were all upon her. She had preposed to tell them the story of her body sharing that night before they settled down to sleep. Almitra’s stone eyes regarded O’Yan’g, whose mind was bright with interest, while keen with suspicion. Rilken, Almitra felt, was ready for a good explanation. She smiled to herself. Va’haan sat poised, like she must have when they told stories among her tribe.
“I never asked for this power, mind you.” She began. “In fact, I was awaiting my own death at the age of 96 when this all came to pass.” She spread out her hands, as if to say “It is what is is.”.
“Well, you know how I came to know of you. I explained it that first day. I saw you in the gardens of White Estrid, when a panic welled in all our hearts. The nightmare I had feared to be true was passing before my stone eyes. I saw with my sight the horrifying entity inside your friend, and shrank in terror. It was so similar to that which hunted me, that which thirsted for the power of this stone…” She held up the 2 halves of the stone for all to see. “I still am unsure whether it was that darkest of darklings, or a servant, or an offspring… but regardless, there we were, by the vicissitudes of fate, hunter and prey. I was frozen with dread that it at last had discovered me. Once, I fell prey to this demon, and narrowly escaped. That is for another night, another tale…” Almitra wandered off, thoughtfully.
“Yes, so, there I was, not yet in the body of the young girl whom introduced herself to you as Mirra. That, in fact, is the name my former Master once called me.” Almitra smiled warmly at the thought of her former Master.
“So the name of the man whose body I shared then was Ivan. He was a kind man, who recognized my trouble when I was dying in the shared body before his. He heard me with ears trained by silence, and comforted me for I have had to break many vows, have had to go against my own conscience, in this quest of utmost secrecy.” She cleared her throat.
“The stone which I carried could not be revealed to just anyone. At first, it was hard to find a suitable accomplice to host my mind and spirit within. Anyone might agree, then turn against me and use the power to their own devices, though a foolish demise would certainly fall upon them. Which it did, once, but that’s another story.”
“So, there in the garden, Ivan and I were thinking madly about what this portended, when luckily the Demon Corruptor vanished. Quite a fright to the whole castle really, and everyone was tittering nervously for the rest of the night and the next day. A cover up was attempted by the authorities of White Estrids estate, who naturally ignored the resident monks as we were all sworn to silence. Ivan and I knew somberly what must come next. We had received a message, and were burdened to deliver it: We knew that sword which we witnessed burn the Dark Thing must be put to proper use. With the sight granted to Ivan, he revealed our hard and reluctant path.” Almitras voice dropped in a sorrowful pitch.
“We couldn’t reach you without leaving the castle grounds… but neither could we freely leave. We were bound by our life to serve and protect the life there sheltered at the castle. To leave was suicide; but as Ivan pointed out, so was staying.‘Our paths were crossed long before we first took breath.’ Ivan consoled me. ‘I daresay we will be together again.’ With a tremulous voice, Almitra took in a deep breath. It was obvious that she missed her friend… perhaps even loved him. She continued on.
“We never carried the stone on us, hiding it in our chamber. It was actually hidden within the monastery foundation, as we had helped build it many decades prior. With a single blow, we split the floor tile which concealed it. We heard bare feet scurrying nearby, clearly alarmed by the cracking stone. We barely had time to spring out the window, fleeing into the night, with maybe 2 hours to find a new vessel, or cast the stone into the sea and face our death.”
“Salvation came unexpectedly. Ivan was feeling inspired towards a particular direction. We could only trust in his intuition and foresight when we rushed into a door off a side street. Armored feet clattered down the street in pursuit, dwindling away. The sound of dropped a dropped pan brought us to our senses. We were inside a sweltering furnace of a bakery, with half a dozen brick ovens radiating heat. A young girl stared wide eyed at us, a few loaves tumbling off her pan. She cursed and set the tray down, dusting off the loaves that had dropped. She eyed us menacingly.
“We’re not open. Get going now. Don’t know what business you have coming to a bakery in the dead of night.” She didn’t move, staring holes into us.
“Well?” She asked forcefully, before turning to busy herself with stacking loaves.
A rough knock rattled the door in its frame behind us. We scurried to hiding, and the young bakers girl scowled at us suspiciously. “We’re closed!” She yelled to the door.
“Open in the name of our King!” Replied a rough voice just beyond.
She sighed and approached the door, opening it a crack. “What dya want?” She demanded.
“Have you seen anyone about?” Asked the voice, now cooler.
“No.” She spat. “Will ye leave me to my work? I’ve enough to do without you bothersome lot.” Ivan was amused by this brash child. The person beyond the door, however, was not.
“Let us take a look.” They replied brusquely.
“Not my place to invite you in, Ma’am.” She challenged. “I just work through the night and am not s’posed to have noone inside.”
Surprisingly, the voice beyond the door laughed. “You’re a cheeky scoundrel, aren’t ya? We could use tough nails like you at the castle guard.”
“S’pose you could.” Said the child dryly.
“Listen, if you see anyone out of place, call for a Sentinel, yeah?”
“Certainly. Be going now.” The child closed the door, bolting it shut. She busied herself with her bun as armored footsteps dwindled in the distance. “Well…” she said at long last. “I’ve helped you, now you can help me!” Her eyes gleamed. “One more bun spilled though, and I’ll alert the Sentinels!”
We passed the night there, well, what was left of it, doing the menial chores of supplying a busy central bakery. She seemed to enjoy us, well, Ivan that is, and seemed sorely in need of company. Her name was Grella. Didn’t take long for her to spill her story. Turns out the Matron of the bakery was a foul woman, who bought Grella from slavery and ‘adopted’ her. For the past 3 years, Grella had been working laboriously every night to supply the bakery. She was 9. A slave in White Estrids own kingdom. She had never been beyond the bakery kitchen and her upstairs room since arriving to the realm. We pitied her and knew some fate had brought us all together.
After learning all about her, she questioned us. To my surprise, Ivan told her the plain truth. She was wide eyed and asked.
So, there’s 2 of ye in there?’ Motioning to Ivan. At this, I spoke with my own voice, ‘Yes.’
Grella was impressed and astounded. So, then I told her my story, right up to the crisis we found ourselves in. ‘You mean to say,’ Grella supposed, “that I could help in this journey?”
“Yes.” We replied. Grella observed her surroundings with contempt.
‘How?’ She asked, eyeing us. So we told her. She was enticed by such a prospect, by playing a part in such a story. I could sense she was strong.
‘You will be changed when if join minds with Almitra… also blinded, among many things. You cannot go by Grella any longer.’ Ivan counseled. ‘You are sure you will do this?’
‘Anything to rid me of this miserable place.’ Grella nodded her consent.
While I was glad to find a way, I was worried of Grellas mind. I had never shared with someone as young as she before, but she was worldlier than any child I had yet met. Furthermore, I pitied her lot in life. I was keen to the dangers that await an undeveloped mind, but with no other choice, we went through with it.
I never took long, the process. I always felt a kind of sleepiness, and then it felt as if my body were swelling… growing larger than the room I was in, larger than the house, then shrinking, smaller and smaller, until I came to in a new body, with new senses.
‘Ahh!’ She hollered when we joined. Though prepared intellectually, the sudden darkness of being blind was frightening. Being blinded by a Goddess, the curse changed bodies with me. It was the only way for someone shrewd enough to tell who I really was. There are, in certain lands, the myths of the Stone Eyed Seer. Another time of my life, for a later story.
What happened next, you’ll excuse if I don’t tell you in detail. Ivan and I had shared a life for over 60 years. Leaving him behind, to his death, was unbearable. Before he left, he shaved our head. Grella and mine, that is. We decided to go by Mirra, the young name I had as a child, over 600 years ago…" Almitras voice trailed off again, seemingly lost in time.
“Well, soon enough we were out on the street without Ivan, who had been taken peacefully by the guards. He may still be alive in the monastery if his place succeeded. I do not know… Grella was very useful though she had never been outside the bakery after arriving; a secret slave. It was she who used her newfound might and my capabilities to cow that vagabond into our service, if only for a time. Wandering around as a lonesome blind child was certain to bring undesired attention. Then I felt the pull of dark energy, and saw in my mind the massacre that the corrupted one, Ma’nen, was currently committing under the evil influence. I knew the scene would bring us together with the party, you all, who were then like an arrow, or a beam of light gaining speed, poised to pierce the heart of the darkness in its darkest hour.”
Almitra was quiet for some time, drinking hot water a youth gave her.
“Yes, my only regret is being unprepared for the desire that bloomed in Grellas heart. Desire is so strong, so sticky, so overwhelming… my voice was drowned by it’s din. After a week with me sharing her body, she was over-confident and tempestuous. My council did nothing to keep her in check. She even dared to kill with volition. I sensed this danger from the first, but we had no other way open to us… When she poisoned our body, I was sparring inwardly for control, and gained it for a time. It was when she felt the pull of that ruby column that I lost it. Her naive mind could not resist. It was alluring, enchanting, mysterious… her death is on my hands, but even as I mourn the loss, I am grateful, for she did have the most important part to play. By her actions, the stone has been destroyed, and to my knowledge, is useless. Now it can never be placed in the enemies hand, for the enemies intent. After nearly 700 years, I am free to die.”