Hanuman thumped his staff on the ground and screamed. “Get your hands off me witch!”
“Watch your tongue hermit!” Zakhira raised her arm, palm-facing Hanuman. “That is the queen you are talking to.”
Shiv lowered Zakhira’s arm and gave her a fierce look. He turned to Hanuman “Hanuman what is going on?”
Hanuman hopped on his staff and scoffed. “It is not of your concern.” He looked at Esen and hovered up in the air and spoke before exiting the hole on the roof. “I’ll see you around Shiv.”
“Stupid hermit!” Esen slumped on her throne. “Come here dear.”
Zakhira walked forward and bowed before speaking. “As you requested.” She looked at Shiv and thought for a while thinking of what to address him. Should she call him a brethren, a half-blood, maybe a subject but all of these meant that he possessed some kind of power or ability. She did not observe anything that would justify that title. “I have brought the human.”
Esen urged Shiv to come forward with her hand. “I see you have been busy.” She glanced at his toned body and smiled. “Nigel has done a good job.”
“Thank you Esen.”
“Show your respects human!” Zakhira yelled.
“Control yourself Zakhira.” Esen touched Shiv’s long hair. It had grown long in the time since he had arrived. “Have you learned anything from Nigel?”
“We have been sparring.”
“Show me.” Esen looked over to one her guards. “You over there, fight him!”
The guard on the right stepped forward and bowed in front of Esen. He drew his large sword and swung at Shiv. Shiv dodged and rolled to his left. “What?!”
The guard moved in a flash and appeared behind Shiv he thrust his sword and Shiv sidestepped. “I don’t have any weapons!” Shiv dodged a series of thrusts and slashes until he was pinned up against the wall. The guard moved quickly and thrust his sword once more. Shiv jumped and landed on the blade of the sword. The guard looked up at him, his hood covering any form of expression on his face. Shiv kicked the guard and he fell on the ground. The blade fell on the ground and Shiv landed on his knees. He looked at the guard and then at Esen. His smile revealed his delight, Nigel’s training had paid off.
“Where are your powers?” Esen asked.
“Didn’t you just see it?”
“What?” Esen looked at Zakhira. “Did you see anything?”
Zakhira shook her head. “No queen, this human has no powers.”
“That is impossible!”
“I do have powers, I beat up your trained guard with no weapons or armor.”
“Anyone can learn to fight.” Esen slammed her fist on her throne. She could hear Hanuman’s chuckle reverberating in her head. “This can’t be.” Esen waved her hand at the guard and he returned to his post after retrieving his blade.
“Nigel told me…”
“That oaf does not know anything.” Zakhira turned to Esen. “He is but a human and his kind have no business in our kingdom.”
“You sound like them.”
“It is true! He has no powers! What use is he to us?”
Esen massaged her temples. Zakhira was right, if Shiv cannot use his powers he was completely useless. But the old woman told her...Yes the old woman! “Zakhira.”
“Yes my queen.”
“You have to take him to the old woman on Craven’s peak.”
“What will he get from the seer?”
“His powers are hidden and the seer will show him the way.”
“But my queen!”
“Enough!” Esen raised her hand. “Do as you are told or you know what will happen.”
Zakhira frowned. “Yes my queen.” She disappeared into a small room behind the throne.
“The seer?” Shiv asked.
“She is one of the God’s, the power to see all.”
“If she is one of the God’s why will she help us?”
“Not all of the God’s want to hurt us. God’s are selfish, some like to create, others like to destroy.”
“And the seer?”
“Neither, she likes to watch. She had foretold a prophecy long ago and she has spent her whole life watching the event unfold.”
“Have you seen her?”
“What will she tell me?”
“She will tell you many things, but be very careful.”
“You must find out what is the truth and what is a lie.”
“How will I do that?”
“Enough questions, you must get ready.” Esen waved her hand. “Anastacia!” A maid-servant appeared from a room to Esen’s right. The same maid servant that tended to Shiv since his arrival.
“Yes my queen.”
“Shiv needs to prepare for a trip. Make sure all the arrangements are taken care of.”
“Yes my queen.”
“Shiv.” Esen whispered in Shiv’s mind. “No one must know what I am about to tell you.”
Shiv nodded his head.
“After you have talked to the seer, I need you to kill her.”
Shiv turned to Esen with a look on his face that said why?
“She tells people what needs to be said to make the prophecy come to pass.”
“What prophecy?” Shiv asked in his mind.
“The death of us all.”
Shiv nodded his head and walked toward his chambers. He knew what had to be done but he did not understand it, he did not understand why. Many things in this world troubled him and he did not know why they needed him, why they did not just send him back to his home or why they took him in the first place. All he knew was that there is a struggle between the God’s and the half-bloods, that there is a war about to begin. Now he needed to find answers, his heart raced at the thought of discovering the truth. He felt nervous and light-headed. He reached his room and heard a voice.
Shiv turned around and looked around. All he saw were torches and shadows there was nothing else. “Who are you?”
Zakhira appeared from the shadows with a sullen look on her face. “What did the queen tell you?”
“You heard it all didn’t you?”
“Not what she said in your head.”
“I know you don’t understand why you are here, truthfully I also don’t know why you are here.” Zakhira looked up at Shiv and the look in her eyes, the look of longing, like she wanted something from Shiv, something that had been forcefully taken away from her. “Shiv I need you to come with me.”
“But the trip? The quest…”
“This won’t take a minute.”
Zakhira held Shiv’s hand and led him down the hallways. They climbed down a tower of steps on their right. Through another hallway which was different. It was completely dark and had several iron gates one after the other. “Where are we going?”
“I need to open your eyes.”
“I can’t see a thing!”
“Don’t worry we are almost there.” Zakhira turned to Shiv and he noticed that her eyes were glowing yellow.
“Is that your ability? Glowing eyes?”
“You haven’t seen my ability yet human.” Zakhira stopped short in front of a large iron gate.
This gate was different from the others, it was not built with bars but by a solid stab with four jewels embedded on all sides. “Were are we?”
Zakhira planted her palm on the gate and recited a short incantation. The solid iron structure disappeared and a long narrow bridge appeared. “Just follow me.”
“Isn’t that what I am doing?”
“Every single step!”
Zakhira pointed to the sides of the bridge. Shiv looked over the rails, it was completely dark and he could not see anything. “Where does it go?”
“Nowhere? It has to go somewhere.”
“It is the Abyss of the Damned, anyone who falls over will never go anywhere. There is no escaping it.”
“Why is there something like this here?”
“Whoever falls in will stay there for the rest of their life, slowly being drained of their energy feeding the monster.”
“Monster?” More questions entered his mind and he needed answers, he wished that Zakhira would give him the answers that he was looking for.
Zakhira gripped tight on Shiv’s hand. “There is no time for that. Quickly follow me!”
Shiv followed Zakhira and like she said every step she took. He darted, hopped, skipped and made sure his feet landed on stones with odd symbols that he had never seen before. The scripts looked round, very soft with no sharp edges or lines.
“We are here.” Zakhira recited the same incantation she had previously. Torches burst into flames and lit up the whole area.
Shiv noticed that they were standing in a large floating island. He looked up and it was all empty just like it was below. He took a step forward and kicked on some chains. “Why are there chains?”
“This is a dungeon.”
“Is that the monster?”
“I am no monsssster.” A rough voice hissed.
“Who is there?”
A large snake that seemed to be over five stories high slithered forward into the light. Shiv took a step back teetering close to the edge of the floating island.
“Be careful.” Zakhira pulled Shiv back.
“Is this him my child?”
“Yes father, this is the one that resembles Ryuu.”