Fantasy & Sci-Fi

Gelfling Hand Chapter 5

By Dawn McCall

Entering the teeth of Skreesh, the two gelflings smelled death beyond the path. They did not want to go further, but they had to get to the Dark Crystal before the Great Conjunction. Groping along in the darkness the two plunged deeper into the putrid tunnel. After a while, Tira and Scora came up to three tunnels, but only one is correct. Before they could decide, the dungeon master grabbed them. "Knew you would come, gelflings! Not be afraid. Am here to help you! Make peace now. Yes?!"

Scora screamed, "No!" The grotesque skel-in pleaded for the gelflings to fall for the trick, but Tira was too quick for the skel-in. Tira stabbed the skel-in in the arm with the shard. At the very same moment the shard cut deep into the dungeon master's arm, far away from the castle in the wilderness, Ursol the Chanter holds up his arm and, like the skel-in, the ancient chanter of the mystics is wounded. And in the sky, the three suns draw even closer.

Back in the tunnel, the skel-in still holds Scora and refuses to let her go. Tira threatens him with death. The skel-in yells, "Never!" and pulls part of the rafters down on Tira to bury him alive. Only Tira's hand peeks out from under the stones that have rained down on him.

In the throne room, Skeksil, the dungeon master, enters with Scora. The skel-ins scream, "Gelfling!" and recoil in fear.

Skekzok, the ritual master, blares out, "Gelfling must die! Skel-ins sworn to kill all gelflings. End to prophecy! Kill gelfling now!"

The dungeon master urgently consults with Skektek, then turns toward Skekzok with defiance. "First we take gelfling life force to make essence, then take life."

Tira remains buried. Skeltek aims a beam of light directly into Scora's eyes. Scora tries to contact Tira through their dreamfasting and beneath the piles of rubble he stirs and groans. Tira is not dead. Through dreamfasting, Tira's urgent call travels back to Scora and renews her courage and her will to live. Then Augra, who was captured and put in a cage in Skeltek's Chamber of Life, cries out to Scora to use her gift. It is hard to think or to concentrate on anything other than the life draining light. Summoning her rapidly vanishing reserves of strength, she begins to call out in the tongues of the creatures of the wild. The skel-in tried to silence her and she bit him. As Skeltek leapt back in pain he saw to his horror that Scora's cry for help has done more than awaken his captives from their lethargy; it has caused them to struggle to be free. The first creatures to break free attacked him, driving him back closer to the gaping pit. With his final, fateful steps, he falls into the deadly lake of fire below. The same instant Skeltek is consumed in the lake of fire his mystic counterpart, Urtik the Alchemist, shares the same blazing death. Freed from the chains that bound her to the chair, Scora went to look for Tira.