Escaping the spectres …
The erfin and his companion pleaded for sense but the keepers all joined in one voice, casting the two out of the valley forever.
‘These things have been looking up at the sky too long? They are possessed! Take up the sword, now!’
Mirrortac’s hand slipped around the handle of Moongleam and before he could think, he drew out the blade with a clean violent action.
Twx stared at him in horror. ‘You must not! Mirrortac!’
The erfin came to his senses but his eyes were bright with indignance.
‘Let us go! We have no place here.’
In the near dawning sky, the clouds drifted into the opening and shut the valley in under a grey shadow of mist. Mirrortac and twx fled, pacing over the tiled courtyard and into the arcade of menacing pillars. They stopped at the head of the arcade and stared at the rows of statues. A thin film of greyish light had enveloped them, animating them with shimmering spectres. The erfin stepped out into the arcade, keeping eyes fixed ahead.
‘Stay with me, twx. Do not look at the likenesses but keep walking,’ he instructed.
Twx did as he was instructed, keeping close to the erfin as they negotiated the long arcade. Shivers of fear bristled Twx’s fur as they walked. They dared not glance up at the statues. The arcade seemed much longer than they had remembered and, try as they might, neither could shield their eyes from the shimmering half-light nor the burning stares of the statues’ gem eyes as they passed between them. Twx was frightened and grasped the erfin’s arm, sobbing softly. Mirrortac swallowed hard and forced his feet forward. The columns converged in front of them and the shimmering light moved around on their pedestals.
‘Oh Mirrortac. I am thinking these are spirits returned from Nerthule. What are they wanting with us?’ Twx sniffed.
‘I am not so certain, brother twx. There is a coldness about these.’
As he finished talking, all doubt was removed as the shimmering spectres separated from the statues and floated out into a group above the arcade, barring the way to the gateway. The spectres were formless except for shining red eyes and colourless lips that were able to take any shape. The erfin and the Ra-finelle shuddered as the spectres called out in rasping whispers.
‘Come!’ said one.
‘Come!’ voiced another.
‘Come! Come! Come!’ the spectres chorused.
Mirrortac turned to flee back up to the palace but there were more spectres behind them, hovering over the tiles with glowing eyes and misty forms. Twx was near panic.
‘What below Ra are these?’ he gasped.
‘I do not know. My sword will be useless upon these. They are spirits and I fear they mean to bring us ill.’ Mirrortac spoke abstractly, searching his mind for a solution.
The spectres hovered near, whispering in voices that carried through the mist like echoes. The whispering merged into a haunting jumble of sound that was words yet not words at all.
‘We will be dying now,’ twx cringed, hiding his face into the erfin’s chest.
‘Nay, that will not be so, twx. Be at ease.’ Mirrortac embraced his quaking friend. Despite the threat, he was smiling. And addressing the wraiths in a clear voice, he said: ‘Ra loves you my dearness poor spirits. May Ra’s blessings be upon you!’
Twx grumbled into Mirrortac’s chest. ‘What are you doing?’
The erfin did not answer. The wraiths stopped whispering as though listening.
‘Ra be with you wretched spirits. Be of peace and allow us passage,’ he told them.
The wraiths floated together as if considering a bargain. None moved.
‘Come twx, we must go now!’ Mirrortac dislodged twx and urged him to move on but the Ra-finelle clung to him like a desperate and frightened child, burying his face in his hands and bowing low to the ground. The two of them edged their way towards the silent wraiths that still floated motionless as though stunned.
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