Chapter 11

The Moonfalls

Standing amongst the scattered debris, a heavy tightness clenched in the pit of Flynn’s stomach. Consumed by shock and horror, he found himself unable to look away from the tangled bones sizzling within the Queen’s Web. His recent triumphant thoughts of slaying a Witch were short lived when faced with the reality of Ventille’s remains continuing to burn before his very eyes.

The grotesque sight left Flynn paralysed. He stood in the middle of the chamber, fixated on the gruesome scene. The smoking bones in front of him were a grim reminder of the brutal events that just occured. The entire sequence of events replayed over and over in his head. He could still see Ventille thrashing in pain, he could still feel the whipping winds of the cyclone tearing at him, but worst of all he could still hear the sounds of her agonising screams echoing in his ears.

As hard as he tried, Flynn couldn’t shake these sensations from his mind. They played on a haunting repeat until a deeper, more primal feeling took hold of him – Survival. 

Pushing his morbid fascination aside, Flynn knew that he needed to get moving. His instincts kept whispering to him that other members of the Coven were most likely lurking around IvyHold, so he needed to find a safe place to go. Looking at the chaos surrounding him, the Depths no longer felt safe. 

The problem, however, was trying to convince his legs to move. They were cemented in shock, indecision and fear – a very dangerous combination. 

Eventually though, Flynn recalled his mission:

Resting Relics, Journals, Lost Explorer…

Resting Relics, Journals, Lost Explorer…

Resting Relics, Journals, Lost Explorer…

Focusing this mantra in his mind, Flynn managed the mental strength to force his right leg to take a step forward. Luckily his left leg followed. With another effort to make his right leg step forward, his left leg kept going as well and he was in full stride.

His forced march led him to the bureau where the contents lay spilled all about the floor. Ventille’s cyclone had raged all over the cellar in her death thralls, scattering the Relics, making Flynn’s search a bit more difficult. 

First he searched for his mother’s leathern satchel – collecting the Relics and journals was the most important task. 

Resting Relics, Journals, Lost Explorer…

Resting Relics, Journals, Lost Explorer…

Resting Relics, Journals, Lost Explorer…

Once again, this mantra helped him keep focused on the task at hand. Eventually finding the satchel, he picked it up, scrambled around the chamber and stuffed the Relics inside. The foggy looking-glass, the burnt torch and scaly mask were all found quickly and flung into the satchel.The milky white stone embedded in each Relic glowed a dim hue as he scooped them up one after the other. 

With all of the Relics collected, Flynn began the search for his Dad’s journals. Ripped covers and torn pages littered the chamber, but Flynn salvaged every last bit of the journals – He couldn’t risk missing a single page. Finally, when he was certain that he found all of them, he turned his attention to collecting weapons – he needed to defend himself after all. 

There was no short supply of weaponry scattered about, but there was a choice to be made. With his satchel bursting full of Relics and his arms cradling the journals, he didn’t have space to carry much more. Not wanting to be defenseless though, he picked up an assortment of blades and stuffed them into the pockets of his cloak. 

He eyed up the heavy battle axe that started the commotion. His visions of wielding it heroically vanished quickly, knowing it was too heavy to carry along. Already overloaded, Flynn turned and shuffled towards the stairs. The effort to get across the chamber proved too much though. Sweat began to drip down his face and each time he readjusted his heavy load, the blades stuffed in his pockets jabbed painfully into his side. He stopped at the base of the spiral staircase to gather himself. 

Knowing that he had no chance of making a stealthy escape hobbling around with this clattering load, he regretfully discarded some of the heavier blades. What was he going to do with fifteen daggers anyways? 

While dumping the blades onto the tiled floor, a morbid reminder caught his attention from the corner of his eye. Unable to stop himself, Flynn turned to stare at the Queen’s Web wrapped tightly around Ventille’s sizzling remains. 

This horrifying display in front of him proved that the Relics were the true Power in this room, not the blades scattered about the floor. Flynn’s stomach clenched as he recalled the phenomenal Power the Queen’s Web was capable of – nets didn’t usually incinerate whatever was caught inside of them.

He wanted to collect all of the Relics, but as he approached Ventille’s crisped bones, he thought twice about taking the net with him. Even though he would feel safer with the Queen’s Web in his possession, he honestly couldn’t face the gruesome mess wrapped up within it. With a heavy mind, he turned away from the crumpled heap, deciding to leave the Spider Queen’s Relic where it was.

On his way up the stairs, Flynn knew that the vision of Ventille’s death was going to stay with him for as long as he lived. He was responsible for the death of another person – Becoming the Legendary Witch Killer didn’t feel so heroic now.

Flynn lumbered up the stairs with burdens weighing heavily on his shoulders and mind. Leaving the Depths behind him, he shuffled down the long dark hallway and outside of the Glasshouse. He stood in the broken doorway intently listening for any other intruders amongst the rubble and ruins of his home. Now faced with a decision of where to go for safety, he watched the sun setting over the crumbling walls of IvyHold. 

The sun was going down! 

That meant that the Moon was about to shine!!

Flynn knew EXACTLY where to hide for the night!!!

He shuffled as quickly as he could down the gravel pathway, towards his secret haven. There was only one place in IvyHold safe enough to spend the night – the Moonfalls. The hidden chamber behind the cascading waters of the Moonfalls would definitely offer protection for the night. But with the sun quickly reaching the horizon, he needed to move fast if he wanted to get there in time. 

Rushing against the sunset, Flynn lugged his heavy load through the Sunken Oasis, past the burning Hedge Maze and rounded the corner to reach the smooth pond surrounding the Moonfalls. Taking a brief moment to look up through the shattered walls of IvyHold, he could see the sun getting even lower – Time was quickly running out.

He had skipped along this pathway in the pond a countless number of times. Normally, he would be able to hop across the stepping-stones blindfolded, but with the awkward load he was carrying and his rush against time made the stepping-stone path seem much more daunting. He couldn’t stop now though.

Picking up his pace, he wobbled and nearly fell into the smooth waters. But fortune was on his side as he managed to keep his balance atop the stones in the pond. His urgency increased as he got closer to the flowing Moonfalls. Only a couple more steps before he was safe.

Without hesitation, Flynn bounded across the final two stones and leaped through the falling curtain of water. He disappeared into the chamber behind the Moonfalls just as the sun was setting.

 ~ ~ * ~ ~ 

  

Now safe on the other side of the Moonfalls, Flynn’s surging adrenaline was replaced with a massive sense of relief. Shaking off the water running down his back, he dropped the armful of journals and the heavy satchel in the centre of the hidden chamber. He stripped off his dripping cloak, balled it up and tossed it into the corner of the tiny chamber where he kept a collection of his other belongings. 

His panic and stress began to melt away as he relaxed in the security of this familiar chamber behind the Moonfalls. This was his own private space where he came whenever he wanted to disappear from the world and he had never wanted to disappear more than he did at this moment. This little hideaway offered the safety and protection that Flynn needed. 

There was only a thin curtain of water separating him from more hostile intruders, but that was all about to change. The atmosphere behind the Moonfalls surged with Power as the sun sank below the horizon and the moon came out to shine. 

An unnatural coolness fell upon the chamber while the air started to crackle and hum. Under the strong beams of moonlight, the flowing waters began to thicken and slow down. Unfazed, Flynn watched in pleasured relief as the Moonfalls began to crystallize before his eyes. Slowly at first, but then a rapid chain reaction kicked in, transforming the cascading waters into a solid wall frozen in place. Fully crystallized under the moonlight, the Moonfalls now offered Flynn protection for the night. 

He was safe.

The rising moonshine lit up the crystal curtain in a glorious glow, calming his stressed mind. In a moment of pure release, Flynn collapsed onto the floor. Finally able to stop his racing thoughts, he simply stared into the shimmering glow cast throughout the carved-out chamber. He usually spent a lot of time behind the Moonfalls, but very rarely after moonrise. The eerie lighting took some getting used to.

Not knowing how much time passed, Flynn eventually came back to his senses. In the morning he must leave IvyHold behind in search of the Lost Explorer, so he desperately needed to come up with a plan.

Gathering the journals around him, he settled down in the middle of the chamber. He lifted the clinking satchel and spilled the contents onto the uneven, stone floor. The Relics clattered out, echoing throughout the moonlit chamber. Safe within his private space he had set up over the years, it was time to have a look at the stash of Resting Relics now. 

“What a strange assortment!” he thought to himself. 

He had seen them briefly back in the Depths, but now he could study them closer without a Power hungry Adept hovering over him threateningly.

The only hopes of saving his parents lay within these random objects and a stranger called the Lost Explorer. He must not have been that great of an explorer if he was lost himself. But Flynn couldn’t think that way now, he needed to think positively about saving his parents – but first he needed to save himself and get out of here. These Resting Relics were of little use now. The answers to his escape plan lay in the journals surrounding him.

Flynn turned to his father’s journals sprawled on the cold stone floor and picked one up. He began to read by the moonlight shining through the crystal curtain of the Moonfalls. Straining his eyes to see, he searched through the journals in the growing darkness. He didn’t dare light a torch since it might draw attention from whoever could be lurking outside. 

Skimming through the journals, he saw they were simply records that his father kept on the surrounding areas. The diaries made for dull reading, but they were strangely comforting. Reading over the words that Dad wrote made Flynn feel like his father was here with him right now. Most of the passages dealt with the lands of the Western Reach surrounding IvyHold. Important information, but quite mind numbing in all honesty.

However much he needed to plan his escape in the morning, Flynn’s exhausted mind simply couldn’t do anymore. After a couple more minutes of looking over the dull descriptions, he began to unwind and relax. Getting ready to sleep, Flynn balled up his damp cloak to use as a pillow. 

As soon as he lay down, a faint click-clack of footsteps was heard crossing the frozen pond surrounding the Moonfalls. In total shock, Flynn stared intently at the moonlight streaming through the frozen wall. 

Waiting in terror, the footfalls became louder. They were soon followed by the appearance of a shadow approaching the crystallised curtain of the Moonfalls. Flynn jumped up, hands to his mouth, holding back a terrified yelp that he desperately wanted to scream out. Pulling his cloak tightly around himself, Flynn froze in fear.

The shadow reached the Moonfalls and began knocking rhythmically against the crystal falls, searching for a way inside. It disappeared for a moment then the passing shadow returned, still scanning the frozen wall. It stopped in the centre of the Moonfalls and slapped it’s open hand against the solid wall with a hollow clunking sound. 

Clearly visible, the palm of the small hand began to glow a misty grey colour. A foggy cloud surrounded the hand, forming a mist which clung to the exterior of the crystal curtain. The fog quickly spread across the entire wall, consuming it totally.

Covered in cloud, the Power outside began to surge – buzzing and humming ferociously. Flynn backed away to the far end of the chamber, frozen in horror. He knew that there was no way the shadow could get inside the Moonfalls during hours of moonlight, but what if…

The Power increased, making the frozen Moonfalls vibrate ferociously, but the crystallized wall remained as sturdy as ever – resisting the Power inflicted upon it. 

Regardless, Flynn was terrified. Just knowing that somebody was out there… only a few steps away… wanting to get inside… sent shivers through his bones. And once the moon set, what was to stop them from getting inside then? 

After what seemed like ages, the assault of Power stopped as suddenly as it began. The shadow disappeared soon after, as if it was never there. In an attempt to comfort himself, Flynn wrapped the damp cloak tightly around his shoulders. 

He stood behind the frozen Moonfalls shivering long after the intruder vanished. The cloudy shadow may have gone away, but Flynn’s fears kept him company all night long. He stood guard with vigilant eyes for as long as he possibly could, but eventually Flynn drifted off into a deep, dreamless slumber that can only be brought about by pure exhaustion.

Once again, everything went black.

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