It wasn’t usual that Flynn was eager to start the days chores, but the excitement of seeing the cloud clay in action spurred him on. He picked up his pace to keep up with Dawnella’s quick strides. Following his mother out of the Glasshouse, they made their way along the gravel pathway towards the Boulder Patch near the Eastern Gate.
When they passed through the wall of bonegrass, Flynn was once again uncomfortably reminded of the Spider Queen’s skeleton on the alter. That memory was really troubling him for some reason and he couldn’t quite figure out why. His mind was caught up on that morbid thought when Dawnella turned back to him.
She was buzzing with excitement, “I was thinking of starting the Floating Garden here, over the bonegrass wall.” She spread her arms, pointing above the harsh border. “It would look much more cheery, don’t you think?”
Flynn had to agree – the tall, white stalks of bonegrass were quite depressing, especially in his current state of mind. Dawnella continued, “I thought something like a series of hanging garden trellises would be lovely. Wouldn’t they?”
“Yeah.” Flynn agreed. He wasn’t sure what hanging trellises were, but he had to admit that anything would be an improvement on the stark, curling stalks rising up into the air.
“But first, we have to spread the bog-root paste on the Boulder Patch.” Now that she was finished envisioning her future Floating Garden, Dawnella noticed the concern etched on her son’s face, “Is everything alright darling?”
“Yeah, I’m just a little… I don’t know… ” he paused trying to think of how to put words to his feelings.
Dawnella tried to ease his mind, “It’s alright darling, let’s keep strolling and you can think about what you want to say. Sometimes moving your feet gets your brain moving as well.”
“It’s okay. I’m just not sure how to say it.”
Dawnella gave her son a reassuring pat on the back and began to stroll at a slow pace. “Whenever you’re ready to talk, I’m listening.”
Flynn followed his mother and believe it or not, the simple act of moving his feet one step at a time, unclogged his thoughts and his mind began to flow.
When the thoughts became clear, he stopped in his tracks, “I got it now Mom.” Dawnella stopped to listen while Flynn continued, “When we were in the Spider Queen’s Hovel, something happened…” All of a sudden, his brain decided to stop again. He paused trying to think of a way to describe what had happened, “It was when we went into her burial chamber…” and he fell silent again.
Dawnella tried to help her son think, “That’s where the Relic recharged, right?”
“Yeah, but there was more than that. It was…” Flynn trailed off again cause he wasn’t sure how to explain what he was thinking.
“It’s okay, your father told me. That’s also where the Enchantress sprung her attack.”
“Yes, but that’s not it either. It was before she attacked.” Flynn tried to gather his scattered thoughts. Dawnella gave him time instead of trying to finish his thoughts for him.
“Let’s keep walking.” She encouraged.
They began to stroll again. Almost immediately Flynn’s thoughts started to form again. Walking really did help him focus his thoughts, so he started to speak quickly while the thoughts were clear in his mind, “It was when I saw Tarantu’s skeleton on the alter. Her bones… they… they just…”
“Ahh!” Dawnella understood straight away, “The Cursed Bones.”
“Yes!” Flynn said. He remembered Dad mentioning Cursed Bones when they were in the Hovel. “I just felt… I don’t know…”
“Drawn to them?” Dawnella knew, “You felt like you had to touch them? To FEEL the Power that was surging within them?”
“Exactly!” Flynn didn’t know how Mom knew this feeling, but that was the exact sensation that he had felt.
“The Power never leaves an Enchantress – even after they’ve passed away.” Dawnella went on to explain, “A long time ago, thieves used to steal Enchantress bones from their graves. The Power that remained in their skeleton was worth plenty of gold to the right buyers.”
Flynn was revolted by the thought of bone thieves, but Dawnella continued, “They were called Bone Wranglers and they made a fortune by stealing Dead Bones. They desecrated so many burial chambers, that Enchantresses began to place curses on their own Bones.”
Flynn thought this was a very clever idea. It was obviously very effective since the Spider Queen’s skeleton still remained in her burial chamber with only a curtain of webs to keep intruders out. But one thing confused him, “They cursed themselves?”
“Yes, but the curse would only take effect whenever the Enchantress passed away. Their remains were safe with this curse protecting them. Nobody would dare to steal their bones unless they wanted to suffer a terrible fate. You see…”
Dawnella was interrupted by a humming vibration shimmering through the air. She stopped short, recognising the familiar protective charm surrounding IvyHold that signaled whenever one of the Outside gates had been opened.
“That was the Western Gate. Your father must be back already.” A look of concern crossed her face as she continued, “He said he would be returning just before moonrise.” The hint of worry in her voice was due to the fact that it was not even midday yet.
She turned down the path and rushed towards the Western Gate. The containers within her satchel clinked rapidly with her quickening pace. Flynn could sense there was something wrong, so he doubled his own pace to keep up with his rushing mother.
Limping silently down the pathway, Brady met them where the paths crossed. He flung his bulging pack onto the ground with a muffled clatter and lifted his cloak to reveal a brutally discoloured bruise on his thigh. Dawnella dropped her clinking satchel and rushed to her husband’s aid. The sight of the wound put a knot in Flynn’s stomach – he couldn’t imagine the pain it caused.
Pretending not to feel the pain, Brady tugged at Flynn’s cloak playfully, “I coulda used you out there buddy.” He couldn’t hide his pained laugh though.
Dawnella hushed Brady’s playful banter and assisted him along, “Quiet now Love. We must apply a salve to that fracture.” She lifted her clinking satchel from the ground and pulled out a small, round tin.
“It’s not a fracture, just bruised.” Brady defended.
“I think I know a fracture when I see one?” Dawnella snapped back, “Over the years, you’ve come back with enough bumps and breaks that I know a fracture straight away. You should too,” she continued, “You DO see the colour of your leg don’t you?”
They all looked down at the grotesque bruise on his thigh. Brady winced as she applied the salve to the discolouration, “Maybe you’re right.” In fact, Brady knew his wife was right. The hobbling walk back to IvyHold was torturous, he just didn’t want to admit it to himself.
“Of course I’m right,” Dawnella said as she continued to apply the salve to his leg, “We’ll get you some milktree sap to soothe the pain.”
“That is, if Flynn didn’t drink the whole supply already.” Brady joked with a pained chuckle.
Flynn laughed guiltily, knowing that a good amount of the delicious milktree sap was guzzled down this morning. Hopefully there was more around to help heal his father’s leg, otherwise he would be in big trouble.
Dawnella brought him out of his guilty thoughts by calling to him, “I’m taking your father back to the house, if you could run to my Garden and get the medical chest?” She wrapped her arms around Brady to take the weight off his injured leg. “It’s the big blue case – You know the one don’t you?”
“I know Mom.” Flynn said.
“Thanks Sweetheart. Oh, could you also take my satchel back to the Garden please?”
“No problem Mom.” Flynn lifted her satchel from the ground.
“Wait Buddy.” Brady interrupted. Flynn could hear the pain in his Dad’s voice as he limped along, “I took the chest yesterday.”
“Did you?” Dawnella asked, “Where did you leave it Love?”
“It’s down in my study.”
“Oh.” Flynn said with disappointment. His Dad’s creepy study was the last place he wanted to go, “No problem.” He lied.
“I think it’s on my worktop… I think…” Brady scratched his head wondering if that’s where he left it.
“I’ll find it Dad.” He tried to sound like he wasn’t bothered.
Flynn adjusted his Mom’s satchel over his shoulder and sped back towards her Garden. His father’s study was located far underground in the dark basements beneath the sprawling Glasshouse. Flynn always referred to the study as ‘the Depths’ and he never liked to go down there.
Brady, on the other hand, spent most of his time down in the Depths. Either wrapped up in his journals or tinkering with random objects that he brought back from the Outside. Brady had managed to make quite a cosy little den for himself down there. Mom had her Garden and Dad had the Depths.
Flynn ran to the Glasshouse, wanting to get this over with as soon as possible. He swung the doors open, banging them against the wrought iron frame and entered the Glasshouse. Instead of continuing down the fragrant hallway lined with plantlife, Flynn turned the first corner he came to.
He ran down the long corridor which led to a heavy, iron door barred by a thick wooden plank across it. Flynn thought this plank was a bit excessive, but his father said that it was necessary, otherwise the door would be blown open from the drafts coming from below.
By lowering his shoulder and hefting upwards, Flynn managed to lift the plank with a bit of effort, unbarring the door. He pulled up on the latch handle and the iron door swung open with a rusty clang. An icy breeze rose up from the Depths giving Flynn the chills.
Pausing to gather his courage, he ducked through the low doorway and began to descend the stone staircase that spiralled down into the Depths. He hurried down the clumpy spiral steps wanting to get the blue medical chest and leave the Depths as soon as possible.
Reaching the bottom of the staircase, Flynn entered the arched vault of the Depths and made his way over to Brady’s worktop. It was a long counter covered with random objects that Brady was working on at the moment. His father always had about five projects going on at the same time, so the worktop was always a bit of a mess. Standing there, Flynn browsed the counter, but saw no sign of the blue medical chest.
He had a good idea where it could be though. In the far corner, stood a large oak bureau where Brady kept all of his tools and other private matters – as he called them. Flynn didn’t like to go near the bureau though because it was near the entrance to the Deep Depths.
This was the main reason that Flynn didn’t like coming down here. The entrance to the Deep Depths was another iron door like the one at the top of the spiral staircase. However, this door had more than a wooden plank barring it’s way. It was secured by a series of crisscrossing steel beams. Each of the massive beams were wrapped up with a ridiculous amount of bulky chains and locks.
Flynn always had the feeling that something terrible was right on the other side of this door – something that was never supposed to be let out. But he put that thought to the back of his mind. He was down here for the medical chest, so he was going to find it and get out.
As he approached the bureau, Flynn swore he could hear a scratching behind the barricaded door. Hoping it was just his imagination, he crept towards the iron door with caution. He was a few paces from the door when it began.
The whole chamber began to quake. Flynn jumped in surprise as dust came raining down from the low-arched ceiling with each BOOM! He may have imagined the scratching behind the door, but knew he wasn’t imagining this. Something was trying to get out of the barricaded door – and it was rocking the entire chamber with it’s force.
Panic-stricken, Flynn turned and ran up the spiral staircase as quickly as his legs could carry him. His mother’s satchel clinking rapidly as he pounded up the steps and rounded the top of the staircase. Once on the other side, he slammed the iron door closed and dropped the heavy wooden bar across, hoping to stop whatever was trying to get out.
Exhausted, Flynn leaned against the heavy iron door thinking he was safe for the moment. However, the banging continued to rattle the entire Glasshouse. It seemed even louder up here if that was possible. Sweat dripping down his face, Flynn came to realise that the banging wasn’t coming from the Depths at all – it was coming from up here.
Gathering himself, he raced down the long corridor, turned the corner and ran outside the Glasshouse. His eyes grew wide, taking in a scene of total chaos. The whole of IvyHold was alight in flames and smoke. Through the overhanging trees, he saw figures whizzing through the sky – IvyHold was under attack from above.
The intruders were swooping around the sky, blasting everything in sight. Flashes and sparks erupted from a series of explosions scattered all over IvyHold. Flynn now knew that he would have been much safer if he had stayed within the creepy confines of the Depths.
He turned back towards the Glasshouse for shelter, when a swirling fireball came crashing down over his shoulder. It smashed into the Glasshouse entrance, splintering the doorway where he was standing moments before. Without delay, Flynn turned and dove into a thicket of prickly bushes, scratching and tearing at his cloak.
More flaming balls showered down from the sky, exploding all over IvyHold. There was no escape from the carnage. Flynn stayed under cover and kept a watchful eye as all of the attackers joined up together. Hovering in a swarm, they began to launch an all-out blitz at a single point now. Flynn didn’t need to guess the focus of their attack – he knew their target was his house.
The intense barrage of explosions echoed across the entire Western Reach. The relentless attack continued until it reached it’s sudden crescendo. Everything went silent for a single moment, when a single mega-flash lit up the sky. The sheer absence of sound was absolutely deafening. Then came the inevitable concussion of impact. The shockwave sent Flynn flying off his feet, hurtling through the air. His senses went from an extreme flash of bright light to total darkness after he crashed forcefully into a thick tree trunk.
His body went limp from the impact, then his mind went blank. Losing consciousness had recently become a very unhealthy habit for Flynn.