In less than no time Moira Goldfoot had made herself ready to accompany Jul Branden and Tom Varsen on their voyage to Spadin in Mandregon. One moment she was the impressive woman with the silvery white hair, the next moment they saw the old lady in her gray dress. Just for a moment, Jul saw her disappearing behind her house to see her coming back with an ash gray donkey.
Lady Moira, I don’t know if this means of transportation of yours, shall be able to follow Branco and June? A donkey, after all, isn’t as fast as a horse.’
The old woman mysteriously laughed at her two fellow travelers. ‘My donkey Hector, is more than he seems. Don’t let his appearance fool you and don’t address me anymore as Lady Moira. We’ll visit places where I’m better off being Mummy Moira. A white sorceress not only draws much attention we cannot afford, it also draws the creatures from the Other Side.’
‘Creatures from the Other Side? Like that one we have seen over the remains of the death Dulkas?’ Tom looked over his shoulder to the place where the burned remains of the warriors were still smoking. Moira had reduced them to a little pile of ashes with one of her scorching beams.
‘Indeed, that was one of them. The Other Side is populated with the Devils brooding and all kinds of demons. You would think that a sensitive person wouldn’t want to be involved with such creatures, but the opposite is certainly true. There are people who collaborate with this powerful enemy. Black witches and wizards who try to unlock portals through which they can escape. Fortunately, most of them aren’t strong enough to keep them in this world because you need strong magic for that.’ She frowned.
Jul Branden saw her facial expression changing. ‘What’s the matter, La… I mean Mummy?’ He rapidly had corrected himself when he saw the stern look of Moira Goldfoot.
‘The magic that is used for silencing Mother Ke Tuna is from a powerful kind. The one who has done this is from the Dark Side, only I can’t say at this moment if this person is from this or from the Other Side.’
‘Dark Side, Other Side, how many worlds are there, I’m a god-fearing man, but after what I’ve seen, you should think that Black Magic is stronger that the good one.’
‘You must never underestimate your enemy,’ Moira answered, ‘everyone who dies, leaves his shell in this world. His soul, his real being travels through the light to the Other Side. But even there you have, just like in this world, good but also much evil. Our soul, such as mine or yours, becomes stronger during a lifetime, more experienced. It accumulates, in a manner of speaking, of course, a sort of energy through our deeds in our life. This energy can be white, but also black. Finally, at our death, we are drawn and colored like we have lived.’ She looked at her audience who as two inquisitive students were eating up her every word.
‘Yes, if that’s a fact, I’ll have to wash my soul a lot, Mummy. I’ve not always been a gentle merchant.’
Moira Goldfoot turned her look to Jul Branden. ‘I know, Jul, and I can see that. We, white witches or Agoeteia, have the eye. We can see your soul.’
Both Jul and Tom were startled. Moira Goldfoot could see how they look on the inside, how their soul was colored. It was if one stood suddenly in his underwear. They felt a little ashamed, both thinking about what they all had done in the past that wasn’t very nice.
‘Don’t be afraid, you’re not servants of the Dark Side. Nonetheless, some of that prank can grow into something worse, the service to the Dark Side is a whole lot different from what you think. The real Evil has to be served in full awareness before your soul is stained by the Black. Just like the knights declare their loyalty to their King, so the servants of the Dark Side once swore their loyalty to Evil. Murderers, thieves and rapists and other kinds of scum without remorse get at a certain time a visit from one from the Other Side, a servant of the Black. Those who join their armies, get in exchange for their services, wealth, and power in this world. You would be frightened if you knew how much can’t resist this temptation.
‘But the good, the White Power, is it strong enough to fight these powers?’ Jul Branden was very interested. He often made songs about what he saw on his travels. Here there was a possibility to obtain some wisdom of life. The fight of a white witch with a demon that she had conquered with her powers would be interesting for everyone. His income as a merchant wasn’t always very high. Fortunately, he now had the skin of the Buldra that would make good money, both there were other times.
‘The followers of the Light are strong and numerous. My sisters and our Mother Ke Tuna are only a few of those on the White Side. But the Evil is cunning and never fights in an honest way, on the contrary. Sometimes they even pretend as one of us. There’s constantly a battle fought between them and us. One time the balance turns to our advantage, another time we have to taste defeat. I only fear that the magic that I saw just now could turn the balance to the advantage of Evil for a long time, with all the consequences connected to that. That’s why we have to hurry to Spadin, not for the yearly market, but to make peace with Wizard Bali Korga. He’s the man who can serve as a counterweight if things go really bad.’
‘Make peace with him? Forgive me my curiosity,’ Jul apologized, ‘is it so bad, that this man wants to kill you? Tom and I will help you, of course, but I suspect we aren’t the equal of that sort of man.’
Moira nodded. ‘No, there aren’t many who are equal to such a man. Bali is tall and strong as a human being, even at the time when he wasn’t a famous wizard yet people knew his name. There’s a story he, with his own hands, has sent ten Dulkas to the Other Side. Without a sword or a knife. So you can imagine if you add a large portion of magic to that, he almost becomes invincible. That’s what made me fear him.’
Tom looked surprised at Moira. ‘You are afraid of him? But he’s standing on the right side, is he not?’
‘Yes, Tom, he’s on the side of the Light. I still have a lot of admiration for this man. Once upon a time I…’ Her voice trembled and Moira stopped talking.
Jul Branden saw something in the old eyes of the woman, something he recognized.
‘You were in love with him?’ Jul softly said, when he saw a tear flowing along the old woman’s cheek.
Moira swallowed. ‘Indeed, Jul, a long time ago I was destined to become his wife. We were madly in love, but I was afraid of his crazy great power he possessed and I… doubted. Without explaining, I left to dedicate my life in the service of Mother Ke Tuna. I was too ambitious and was afraid to lose too much if I would marry him. I’ve heard on good authority he has never forgiven me for that.
Masaga had torn the hood of his habit, deep over his eyes. In the darkness of the night, you could hardly distinguish the blood red color of his clothing. His black eyes reflected the scarce moonlight. He had sneaked out the camp. Nobody would stop him.
He felt strong and almighty. Much more than this turgid guy Kulkadan he let dance to his tune. It was a bloodthirsty brute who had only one means to maintain his power. His brutal force and his army. Masaga needed an army to execute his plans. Kulkadan had what he needed and that’s why he put up with all the impoliteness and the lack of necessary respect.
At night, under the cover of the dark, Masaga had separated him from the rest to perform the ritual. His mistress had to be notified. His own blood and that of a guard he just had cut the throat would take care as always to open the portal.
Under his habit, he had a flask of the arterial blood of the soldier. The ritual demanded it had to be blood from the carotid artery and it had to be used the same night. Blood was a strong power, it amplified the charms to open the portal, the window to the Other Side.
Just a bit further, he reached the circle of rocks he had noticed before when they were riding along. You could find these circles both in Upper- and Downland. Nobody knew they had strange powers through the spilled blood. Masaga built a protected dome around him. It had fenced off the rocks and himself and nobody would disturb him at his night job.
On every top of the nine rocks, he trickled some blood from the little flask. With his hand high in the air, he called for the Dark Side. His rhythmical spells and charms flew from his mouth as dark and heavy clouds which condensed on the stones. A smell of sulfur rose from the bloodstained rocks.
Out of his habit, Masaga took a knife that possessed a bone hilt and cut with the sharp side of it over his lower arm. The blood welled up out of the wound and on the smoking stones, he dropped some of his own blood. A gray mist rose out of the circle of rocks and blended together in a cloud in the center of the circle of stones.
‘Barua, Barua, veni Barua. Sango di, sango mi, veni Barua.’ The mist became red and was ripped open. Two yellow eyes colored the black shiny skin of a gigantic serpent. Out of his drawn open mouth, two shiny fangs appeared and a forked tongue flashed back and forth. Masaga kneeled on one knee and bowed his head. ‘My Mistress Barua, your servant Masaga, at your service.’
The serpent straightened himself as if it was ready to attack and poison him with her frightful teeth, but her skin unfolded and her head broadened and suddenly a whole other being stood before Masaga. She was stunning, raven black long hair that coiled down her back and two eyes that glimmered as coals in the night. Her voice sounded like the hissing of a serpent. ‘Massssaga, Masaga! You’re late tonight, I thought wouldn’t come anymore. My loyal servant, what is there to say today?’ Out of her fingers grew fingernails that looked as sharp as knives.
Masaga stood up, fearless while the blood on his arm already began to coagulate and the wounds he had made with the knife already closed. ‘Kulkadan, that brutal fool doesn’t suspect a thing. The Stone of Creation will be his downfall, but our victory. When you have the Stone, Mistress Barua, you will dominate everything that is alive and everything that is dead. I’ll write your words down with the Stone and what is written will exist. What you will strike out, will cease to live. You will be a God!’
Masaga’s words weren’t cold yet, or with a powerful air flow Barua swayed with her arms and Masaga flew against the border of the protecting dome. ‘Never say that again, I won’t become a God. I AM already a God.’
The Red Wizard stood up and kneeled. ‘Forgive me, Mistress, you will be the only and real God that there ever was, is and always will be.’
Her ego now was flattered and Barua lowered her arms again. ‘Keep me informed of Kulkadan’s plans. The Stone of Creation will make it possible to open all the portals and to extend my kingdom to this world. Keep an eye on the White Force, they are preparing themselves. Dangerous alliances have been forged. They can’t intervene and thwart our plans. I’ve waited already too long for what belongs to me. Serve me well and you will be rewarded with power, Massssaga!’ Barua’s body flew out and her black robe became scaly and the gigantic serpent, with the forked tongue, retreated back into the mist.
© Rudi J.P. Lejaeghere