Running Toward Destiny

Chapter 5

Water Fight

Camrin opened his eyes slowly, the dull light surprisingly bright.  He grew frightened looking at the unfamiliar surroundings.  Then his memory came crashing back and he realized he was back in the main hallway, where the gate had been to get into the room.  His bar was still holding open the door.  He had managed to hold on to the staff and the crystal, and now held each in a separate hand.  He stood up with the aid of the metal staff and then looked at the crystal still in his right hand.  There were six spikes, and one smooth side, which made it look like it as though this was one of two objects that had been broken apart, for three of the spikes was cut in half.  Whatever it was, it was now attuned to him, for it had unleashed its power upon him.  He stuck it into his small belt pouch along with his food spells.  Glancing at the bar still inside the door, he quickly pulled on it.  It came out easily, and the gate finished its drop, crashing to the floor.  The sound was echoed throughout the hall.  He held onto the bar with his right hand, and walked down the hallways, peering into the rooms to find one that looked good.

Soon thereafter Camrin stopped, gazing into a room that had a pristine lake in it.  This required further investigation.  The fact that a lake was inside of a castle was preposterous, but this castle had shown its share of odd things already.  Besides, the water looked good, and Camrin was getting thirsty.  It'd been a long time since he'd drunken anything.  Camrin put his foot in the door and then placed the bar in the corner of the doorway to stop the falling gate.  Then he bent over and slipped under the small spines, avoiding the bar with both person and staff.

When he stood back up, he got a better view of the two sides of the room, which included a small copse of trees and a few other plants and flowers.  The main feature was still the lake, which shone a blue-green color.  Most of the lake appeared deep because of the dark hue it gave off.  Camrin walked up to its nearest bank and knelt down.  He could see his reflection as though the water were dark glass, though if he looked close enough, one could see through into the water.  He could see the bottom for about four feet out before it dropped off into the unknown.  He knelt down beside the water and put his face to it, drinking deeply.  There was an aspect about the water that seemed strange, but he couldn't figure out what it was.  The water tasted fine, and that was all that mattered right now.  He did remember, however, not to drink too much water, in case it was poisoned.  If he felt fine after a half-hour, then he would drink more.  For now, he would wait, resting slightly to recover more from his recent battle with the giant avian.  It had taken a toll on him.  He lay back on the grass, setting his staff beside him where it could be easily retrieved.  The ceiling was nothing more than the usual stone, as were the walls.  Only what was inside the room was strange.  Camrin let his eyes close, and he thought about his recent events and what was to come.

It was movement again that woke Camrin, the same type of movement that had been felt before.  There was nothing there however, and he thought himself the fool for being deceived again.  Setting up slowly, He wondered what was setting off that sense in his mind.  Was he really scared of what lie ahead?  It just wouldn't stop.  Maybe it was just the castle mood, but as to how that would affect Camrin was a different matter.  He glanced around again, taking careful note this time on what was in the room.  The lake took up most of the room with only a little room on all sides that was filled with grass, and a few trees dotted the landscape.  At one side of the lake, a small wooden bridge with no rails arched up over the water only to fall down and stop in the middle of the lake.  It was odd that such a bridge be constructed in that manner, so Camrin decided to go and look at it.

The bridge did not stop at the surface of the water, Camrin saw when he stood at the bridge where it touched, but instead it continued, sinking into the darkness of the water.  Why would someone construct half a bridge underwater?  He looked over to the far side of the lake and saw that the bridge returned to the shore over there.  Camrin really didn't want to go across the bridge anyway, and certainly not through water.  He turned around to go back the way he came, off the bridge.  He hadn't taken two steps though before he fell into the cool water and over his head.  Camrin knew very well how to swim, being raised near a small pond, but as he tried to swim back to the surface, it seemed as though something were holding him back, forcing him downward.  He started to sink toward the bottom quickly.  Having no breath left in his body, Camrin took in a breath.  It had been a mistake to expect death, for when he opened his mouth, he managed to breathe in air.  Could this be air?  No, it's not, quite air.  The water was so thin that he was breathing it.  No, it's not that either.  Camrin could still feel the presence of water against his skin.  I must be in enchanted water.  That explains why half the bridge is underwater.  People wouldn't go on unless they knew about it.  But why would anyone want to live here.  Camrin had almost reached to the bottom now.  It was already visible through the clear water.

Camrin's feet lightly touched the bottom, and he stirred up some of the sea floor as they fully landed.  The surroundings were amazing.  Many colorful types of plants acted almost like bushes, and fish streaked through the water, making small ripples that coursed by him.  A number of other animals scuttled along the lake floor.  This is such nice scenery, but there has to be some point of all this being here.  Camrin walked along the bottom of the lake in the direction that he thought led to the opposite site.

It was only a short time later before Camrin reached a point in which the view changed drastically.  There were no plants, fish or animals to be seen.  It was all bare terrain, as if everything sought to avoid this place.  Moving on, Camrin caught a few glimpses of animals and realized that they were there, but they just wanted to stay hidden.  It was then that he heard the rumbling of a beast, distorted through the water.  Looking around proved fruitless, there just wasn't anything there.  But the sound came again, sounding closer than before.  Then it was there, and as Camrin spun around, the yellow eyes upon a black head were upon him.  A water wolf, one of the less seen but still feared animals that ruled the water, was there now, almost on top of Camrin.  Water wolves were quite large, and this one was almost as tall as he was, it's head almost meeting his.  It was a wonder there were no animals around here, as they either left or became prey eventually.  The animal was sleek, and it smelled of carrion.  And it was coming closer.

The huge beast jumped at Camrin, leaping off the soft dirt with its jaw opening.  He had to think fast lest he be crushed or eaten.  He put his legs to good use and jumped clear of the gaping jaws.  It was a little slower down in the water, so his quick reflexes allowed him to escape.  On land, it would have been impossible.  The monster landed neatly behind him, turning almost before he touched ground.  Camrin hit the ground and rolled to his feet, running away from the predator.  It immediately began to pursue, catching up quite quickly.  Suddenly Camrin turned around, staff blurring, to catch the wolf on top of the head, and then swung the staff upward to catch its throat.  The wolf's head flew back and then it fell limp.  It crashed to the ground, lifeless, only inches from Camrin's feet.  But now the trouble only seemed to get worse, for now there were three wolves approaching, all from different directions, probably alerted by the one that lied dead in front of him.  Being trapped as he was, Camrin had no choice but to try to fight the demon wolves.  Bringing his staff up to a ready position, he looked about for the first one to appear.

Two broke into view almost together, running at a pace that no person could have matched.  The third came only seconds later, going almost as fast.  Camrin ran toward one of the wolves, staff in front of him in a defensive position.  The water seemed to slow him down quite a bit; making his muscles work much harder to move throughout the enchanted water.  The wolves however seemed to have no such hindrance.  Pointing the end of the staff directly at the wolf's head, Camrin rushed to meet it, only to have it move out of the way at the last second.  Camrin's staff met the soft ground of the lake floor and sank in, causing Camrin to slide to a halt.  Bringing the staff up again, he had to slash at the wolf that was almost next to him now, and then he twisted suddenly to catch another of the wolves on its leg.  It managed to connect, and the wolf had to jump away with only three working legs.  Camrin had to swing around yet again to catch another one of the wolves, but it moved and he was thrown off balance, almost falling to the ground.  He managed to recover though, but it was almost too late as the other two wolves met him.  He barely touched one with his staff and had to jump over the other, but the third wolf was right behind him.  Camrin pointed the staff downward and smashed the wolf in the head, landing on it with such force that it knocked the wolf's head into the ground and jarred the staff out of Camrin's hands.  Now there were only two dogs left as he rolled back up into a standing position, but now Camrin was left with only the most basic of weapons.

Unsheathing the two daggers, Camrin turned to face the black creatures once again.  They appeared to be accessing the situation, looking first at one dead mound and then the other.  He was breathing hard, and he knew that he couldn't keep this up much longer.  One of the black wolves attacked him while the other stayed behind, probably waiting for the perfect chance.  Camrin feinted first one way, then the other, trying to draw the charging animal off guard.  At the last second Camrin managed to drop down and plunge a dagger into its side as the wolf ran past.  The howl that the animal made, distorted through the water, made Camrin's ears cry out in pain.  The wolf did not stop though.  It turned, and Camrin was left with only one dagger, the other remaining buried in flesh and muscle.  He dropped down to the ground covering his ears, and instantly the two wolves were upon him, circling him, waiting for the chance to make the final blow.  They jumped….

"NO!"  Camrin's yell was heard rippling along in the currents.  A yellow glow enveloped him, and as the yell continued the sphere grew, then shot outwards in all directions, gaining speed.  The sphere hit the wolves and they were destroyed by its power.  It continued on, traveling through everything it touched, and they died too.  As the word died off the sphere grew fainter and was lost.  Camrin only huddled there, breathing hard and shaking, trying to clear his mind of what had just happened.

Finally, he stood a terrible headache and stiff joints accompanying him.  He walked over and bent to retrieve his staff, feeling his aches all over.  His other dagger was gone, and he sheathed the one in his hand back to his belt.  He looked around.  There was nothing there.  Everything had been destroyed by that magic.  Only the sand remained.  Camrin turned and walked in the direction he thought was the right one.

Where had that power come from?  Camrin pondered that question to himself as he traveled on after about an hour.  He'd tried to forget everything and had failed.  He knew that there had been sorcerers alive once, long ago, but their powers had died with them.  What had happened back there had been magic and it had come from him.

Ahead of Camrin appeared a small rectangular shadow in the water that slowly resolved into a cottage.  Who would live here, in these monster infested waters?  He ran toward it, hoping that someone was home.

When he approached the house Camrin realized that the bridge came right down and attached to the side of it.  So, he went to the door and rapped on it a couple times.  Through a small window, he could see someone coming.  The door opened and a small older woman was standing in the doorway.  "Hello," Camrin said.

"Hello," she said.  "How are you?"  Her voice was horrible.  Camrin almost shuddered, but stopped himself before he could embarrass her.

"My name is Camrin.  I'm from Sharent.  What's your name?"

"Agnes.  My name is Agnes.  Come in, come in."  Camrin followed her into her house.  It was a small homely house with pictures on the wall and bare wooden floors.  It was different when he walked in the house and was suddenly relieved of the pressure the enchanted water had.  The house must have had some kind of enchantment on itself so that the water did not touch it, although it appeared to.

"How did you come to be down here?"  Camrin asked when he was eating.  Agnes had been cooking soup and had more than enough, so she had filled a bowl for him.  It was good.

"I've always lived down here.  My mother lived down here, and her mother before that.  Ever since the castle was built.  My daughter moved out to find a husband, and I haven't seen nor heard from here since.  It is quite lonely down here, but I don't want to leave.  I've been here too long to go anywhere else."  She sat down across the old oaken table and began to eat.

When they were fully sated Agnes showed Camrin to a small spare bedroom that had obviously been her daughter's room.  A large chest of drawers with a mirror on it and a full-length mirror on the other side of the room took up quite a lot of the space available.  The only other thing in the room was the bed, which looked very comfortable.  A door on the left went to a small washroom.  Camrin went there only to wash his face before returning to the bed.  He took off his shirt and trousers before lying down in the soft cotton sheets.  He couldn't sleep though, still puzzled by recent events.  He was also worried about his mother.  What had happened to her?  And what's going to happen to me?  Snuffing out the one candle in the room, Camrin pulled the sheets over himself and rolled on his side.  He was in his dreams a short time later.