Part Twelve: Bloody Psychics
They had breakfast in the clearing. Berthond was finding it hard to eat. ‘It seems so…quiet now. So empty.’ He forced himself to swallow the bread he had been chewing for three minutes. He glanced up at Selebriar. The Elf never seemed to eat anything, at least not when Berthond was around. He wondered if Selebriar ate in secret, or if Elves lived off the energy in the air around them or something. ‘Just like when I first set out, huh? When it was just you and me.’ The Elf didn’t look up. Berthond made a sound like humph. ‘You’re just as talkative, too.’ Berthond lowered his gaze. ‘Of course, this time we’re alone because everyone else is dead.’ He fingered his bread, and felt sick.
He was sick. I fact, he was sick all over Selebriar’s boots. Selebriar kicked him with the sick-covered part of the boots, and then cleaned off the sick, so that then there was sick on Berthond but not on Selebriar. Berthond wasn’t particularly happy about that. ‘Aw, now I’ve got barf on my new tunic. I had that tunic made specially for the quest.’ Selebriar looked doubtfully at the tunic in question. Berthond had worn it since day one of the adventure, and it wasn’t exactly clean. It was actually becoming somewhat brown from the dust and earth – although now part of it was turning yellowish-green. With bits in.
Selebriar found a stream nearby in which Berthond could wash himself. Then they packed what food they could find that wasn’t covered with Berthond’s breakfeast, and set off towards the Shadamount.
I’m the only one left, thought Berthond. Four kids set off from home and I’m the only one left. ‘Well, you have got the Lestines’; Selebriar pointed out, ‘so that’s incredibly impressive. They didn’t die in vain.’ Berthond stared at the Elf. Did he just read my thoughts? he thought. ‘Yes’, said Selebriar. Berthond scowled. ‘Well, stop, then!’ And inside his head he wondered if Selebriar had been reading his mind the entire trip. ‘Yes, I have’, said the Elf. ‘That’s how I knew about your mother and the singing. I wasn’t reading it all the time, though; don’t worry.’ ‘Don’t worry? Don’t worry?’ Berthond was getting annoyed and nervous, which was not a good combination. ‘How much do you know about me? Oh. My.’ Berthond clapped a hand over his mouth. ‘You know about Keila. Tell me you don’t know about Keila.’ Selebriar laughed. ‘Calm down, I can only tell what you’re thinking, but I can’t see memories. I don’t know anything about any Keila. Well’, and his expression changed, ‘I do now.’ Berthond covered his ears with his hands. ‘Get out of my head!’ he yelled. ‘I’m not in your head; I can just see what’s going through it. Anyway, I’ve stopped now.’ Berthond relaxed, but only by the tiniest fraction. ‘Never do that again.’ Selebriar grinned. ‘Hey, no promises.’
They had reached the foot of the barren mountain. A steep, winding staircase crawled up the side of the Shadamount, up to a doorway near the peak. Berthond couldn’t see anything past the doorway; it seemed shrouded in liquid darkness. He gulped. A cold, chilling feeling had just crept over him. ‘Are you sure about this?’ Selebriar had suddenly become deadly serious. ‘You could take the Lestines back to Torresten and wait for a more competent hero.’ Berthond looked Selebriar gravely in his crystal blue eyes.
‘Nobody else even got past the dragon. We’ve made it all the way to the mountain. We’re a chance in a million. There will be no “more competent” hero.
‘We’re it. I’m it. I have to save the world, right here, right now. I’m not asking you to come with me. I’m just asking you to let me complete the task that was appointed to me. The task I was born to complete. This is me. This is what I do. Save the world. Nothing less.’
Selebriar was silent, then slowly spoke. ‘You give good speeches. A shame you wasted it on me. Your companions deserved it more. But the dead have no ears. The dead have no eyes. The dead cannot think, or remember.
But we can remember for them. We can remember them. And in their memory you must complete this task, this task that they began, this task you must achieve. Because it is just you now, and no-one else. You are the hero. You must do this. It is what you were meant to do, and what you will do, and what you will be remembered for doing. Dres fin Dán. It is you.’
Berthond nodded, and started up the mountain. He didn’t bother to look back. He knew that Selebriar would still be at the bottom. And this was because he was right. They were both right. It was up to him now, and him only. Berthond Gellcomar, the hero of Belecostar. But he wouldn’t be like the other hero. He wouldn’t leave his realm behind. He would be its protector until the end. Let them try and stop him. Let them try.
He reached the doorway. It seemed to be full of pure dark energy. He knew that once he stepped through, there was no going back. It was get rid of the Darkness or die.
He took a deep breath, and realized that he had no idea how he was going to defeat the Darkness. Certainly he would use the Lestines, right? The Lestines give off light. Use the Light to banish the Dark.
They weren’t his thoughts. They seemed to come from somewhere far off. Whenever he thought, he thought in his own voice, and this wasn’t his own voice. It was familiar, though. Almost like…
He glanced down to the ground at the foot of the mountain. He could only just see Selebriar, a tiny green blob in an ocean of green and brown blobs. This is it. This is when you shine. The voice came again, clear and silvery in his head. Turn on the Light.
Berthond stepped into the Darkness.