The Chovihano gestured for Gerontius to sit by the fire and as he did so, Polinda sat next to him. Gerontius felt her hand gently close round his, it felt so small and light in his huge sun baked hand. He was more nervous now than going into battle, he was in the midst of a Magia camp and there were others around with weapons that he could not see. He should have taken the gold and run. The thought made him smile and he relaxed a little.

“Here Sun-walker, drink this.”

“What is it?”

“It will help you travel with Polinda. You are not of the Magia and so you need some help. The broth will help you see beyond to the world that exists all around you.”

“Should I not be able to see it then?”

The Chovihano held the cup close to Gerontius and squatted down in front of him. “We call you sun-walkers for this very reason, you are blinded by the light and see very little beyond what you want to see. You call us Magia but in truth we have many names, we too walk by day but we also walk by night. We know the sun warms us and keeps us alive but it also blinds us to the stars that are in the heavens. They are still there when the sun shines sun-walker.”

Gerontius grunted. The stars disappeared with the coming of the sun, whether it was Apollo chasing Diana or as the Magia had just said, he needed to know no more, he saw what he saw and that was real enough for him. Gerontius nodded and spoke quietly. “With respect, can we get on with it Magia, we have battle to win and little time, much hangs in the balance.”

“Indeed Gerontius. Drink and open your eyes and when you do, watch over my Polinda, keep her safe for we both put her in harms way.”

Gerontius paused a moment and then asked. “Harm? Would you put your daughters life at risk for gold, Chovihano?”

“For the sake of the Magia I would, for all our sakes Gerontius. The gold is useful but not needed. She is doing this to protect the people of the Magia against Carinus, against The Order. If Carinus becomes the Emperor of Rome, The Order will be more powerful than it has ever been and will try to destroy everything in our world, everything that is Magical. The creatures of the Myst, good and bad exist in harmony with the greater world, in harmony with the sun-walkers. The Order seeks to destroy our world, to them it is a threat and a danger. Drink Gerontius, do your duty and know that we are on the same side in this battle.”

Gerontius took the cup and drank deeply, the bitter warm liquid burned on the way down and he closed his eyes tightly. His hand clenched and he was surprised to find Polinda was squeezing his hand just as hard, it was almost painful! It felt as if he she was pulling him over and at the point that he was going to topple he opened his eyes to stop his fall, he screamed as he realised he was far above the earth and the forest below him and it was Polinda that was holding him up.

“Take me down woman!” he screamed, panic rising in his chest. She laughed lightly and pulled him along as they both flew above the forest below. He held on tightly, cursing and closing his eyes only to open them again to find that they were still high above the earth.

“We are flying!”

“In a manner of speaking but stay strong Gerontius, we are not alone. Look to your sword now.” With that she pointed at the sky in front of them and he saw the creature coiling and snaking around itself in the air. Directly below it, the battle camp of the enemy in standard order. Gerontius was in familiar territory again and took in the scene. Below the creature, the forces of Carinus and to his left, Diocletan’s. The enemy were vast and he knew then and there that Diocletan was right, they would not last out the coming day. His gaze rested on the bright red and gold tent in the centre of the enemy camp, the tent of the commander of the West, the command post of the would be emperor, Carinus.

“What is that thing?”

“That, is a Hellion Gerontius, it is a creature of the Myst, a creature of Magic like The Magia and it feeds off the pain, specifically the pain of one. Can you see how it feeds?”

Gerontius looked closer and could see the snake like creature writhing in the air drawing in spirals of what looked like smoke, his eyes followed the tendrils of smoke down to the camp and could see them emanating from a single legionnaire. No! Not just any legionnaire, that was Titus Aristobulus! The commander of Carinus’ Pretorian guard, a living legend.

“What does it feed upon? Is it killing him?”

“These creatures are drawn to vast human emotion, so vast it must be all consuming and when it is, the human spirit is no longer powered by hope, challenge or a greater love but by something else. It begins to feed off itself, off its own emotion and at the same time it gives the emotion power, an endless self consuming loop. This is what the Hellion feeds off. It is a parasite that prevents the wound of the soul from healing and will feed for as long as it can.” Gerontius watched her as she described the creature. “This one is feeding off the all consuming emotion of jealousy and vengeance.” She paused as if listening for something and then a moment later said, “That man, Titus is torn between loyalty to Carinus and vengeance. He believes Carinus seduced and slept with his wife but has no proof other than rumour. It consumes him and it is only the presence of the Hellion that is keeping him from acting on this emotion.” Polinda looked at Gerontius and smiled. “When the moment is right, you must strike at the Hellion.” She drifted from him and as she did, her appearance changed. Her golden hair darkened, her eyes were now green and her campfire clothes had become the finest of white gowns. She was adorned in jewellery, a princess of Rome indeed!

“How will I know when the moment is right?” He called after her but she had turned and floated down to the camp, leaving him alone in the sky above the camp with the Hellion. Its black oiled skin glistened and pulsed as it fed. Gerontius drew his gladius, focussed on the creature and drifted closer. He had altogether forgotten that he now floated high above the camp without the aid of Polinda.

Copyright Faramond Frie © 2016


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