Today we continue with the second to last part of Roxanne's story. Please remember to give me your ideas for the name of this story so I can add them to a poll. On to the story.
Roxanne's breath caught in her throat. They were finally there.
The structure was massive and built of black rock, gleaming with a reddish glow like cooling obsidian. It wasn't a beautiful place at all, but rather ominous and monstrous, with twisted towers and irregularly placed gargoyles. Their faces were malicious and twisted; pointed or forked tongues sticking out unnaturally long from their open maws, slanted eyes glinting with red or acid green gemstones and clawed hands holding all manner of weapons.
It was a fearsome sight.
No one in the party dared to speak. In silence they made their way into the palace.
The inside of the building was similar to the outside. The obsidian-like walls were not at all smooth, but rather looked like the spewing of a volcano, which had been allowed to drip and twist into place. The floor, which flowed out as an extension of the walls, was equally jagged and cracked in places. Some of these cracks were so thick that one could see into the black dungeons below.
Sounds of torment reached them through these cracks and Roxanne was truly afraid.
Yet they pressed on. They didn't speak as they passed through the dim passages of the palace, except for the moment when they had to light their own torches. The passages became so dark that not even Samir could see easily in them. They lit their torches and continued onwards.
Once or twice they passed black robed figures who hissed at them and recoiled from Roxanne as if she were a poisonous snake, but these mysterious people never spoke to them or attacked.
It was all very strange.
At the end of a particularly extensive hall, was a very large room. There was a throne-like structure in the very centre of this room, which seemed to grow out of the floor, forming a union with the rest of the structure. It was the same glowing black and red rock and was truly more of a pedestal than a chair.
It had wide steps going upward to where a man was seated.
His hair and eyes were the blackest of blacks and his face incredibly lined and drawn. The circles under his eyes testified of many sleepless nights and paired with the sallow tone of his skin, it made him look ill, as if he'd been sick for the longest time. His hair was long and tangled, oily and slick; a complete mess. His mouth half-smirked at them as they entered.
When he got to his feet and started down the steps, Roxanne could see how incredibly emaciated he truly was. The cloak he wore hung about his thin frame in tatters, torn in so many places that bare threads held it together. In his skeletal hands, he held a book, which, like his cloak, was falling apart. As he descended, a page fell from it, drifting lightly on some unfelt source of wind.
"Ah." he said sadly, his voice quiet and melancholy. "Another one lost."
Even as he spoke, the page shrivelled and blew into a fine dust, lost on the wind before it touched the ground.
If this is him, Roxanne thought, he's a very sorry sight.
But it was him. She knew it in her heart of hearts. The thin, sad man before her was the Trickster; her enemy. For some reason Roxanne felt incredibly sorry for this sad, meagre man. She didn't want to hurt him, but she rather wanted to save him.
"You must be Roxanne." he said in that same sad voice. "Do you know who I am?"
He took a step closer and Reinhart stepped in front of Roxanne, blade drawn. "Come no closer, fiend." the knight spat.
"Ah." said the Trickster.
Roxanne took a tentative step forward, gently pushing Reinhart to the side. "I know who you are and I have come to help you."
There was a stunned silence in the hall of the Trickster, before he threw his head back and laughed. So slight was he that it seemed he would break with the shaking motion the laughter caused, but he did not stop. The sound was a strange one, always tinged with a miserable, mirthless note.
"Help me?" he demanded when the laughter suddenly stopped. "Can you begin to understand the weight upon my shoulders, girl? Can you imagine the pain? The suffering? THE AGONY?" he roared. His eyes were suddenly mad and wild.
But Roxanne stood firm. "No." she said. "But I can take it away."
The Trickster shot forward, shoving Reinhart out of the way as if he were no more than a fly buzzing around. The knight fell to the ground in a clamour of armour. "Take it AWAY?" he shouted, taking Roxanne into a grip so tight, she thought it would split her in two.
She was completely calm. For the very first time, she knew exactly what to do.
That's all for today! Tune in for the ending of this story in two weeks time!
I hope you have a fabulous weekend.
Stay beautiful and be kind to animals,