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Friday, January 26, 2007 Genilda's Advice Part 2

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(Revised Edition)
Robert and friends are now walking inside Genilda’s shop as though it’s their own home. They follow Genilda through the front room, the shop section filled with decorations and bouquets made from preserved and dried flowers, and then into the family room. They see Genilda’s two daughters, age nine and four, each wearing a wreath of flowers and playing with Chiel the micha (a winged, mouse-like magical animal) and their dolls. The dolls are placed in rows as though they are the audience, and the children are dancing, skipping and singing in front of them, making an act, an operetta show. The micha also acts there as the children’s playmate.
The act soon finishes, the girls bow to the dolls, and the hunters give them a hearty applause. Chiel also does somersaults in mid-air happily.
‘Beautiful, girls. So well done,’ says Andreas.
‘Lauryn, Marjan, that’s a good one, girls, but you better help out in the kitchen now. It’s almost dinner and Uncle Chris is famished.’
‘Aw, mom, do we have to?’ says Marjan.
‘Mom must work now, sweethearts. Don’t argue with me or we all won’t have dinner tonight.’
‘Oh, awright...’
Marjan’s elder sister, Lauryn goes straight into the kitchen without saying a word. From the look of her face, we can say that Lauryn doesn’t like too many people (strangers in particular) staying in her house, even for a few hours.
Genilda then takes the hunters into another room. This room looks like an office or a meeting room, and piles of documents are sorted neatly, categorically and alphabetically on the racks. Scent of chamomile comes from the vases kept on the walls, on the left and right side of the windowless room. It’s a typical, well-organized office run by women.
But one can judge by a few posters pinned on a wooden board on the wall that it’s not an ordinary office. And if we see the posters more clearly: wanted criminals, monsters to hunt, items and treasures on demand, we can obviously conclude that it’s a hunters’ guild.
Genilda takes her seat, and after her guests are well-seated (except Robert, who in his nature prefers standing this time) begins talking casually but inquiringly.
‘So, what’s the big hurry, guys? You can’t wait to cash the goods in, can you? I didn’t expect you to get the Uthul frog galls so quickly.’
Carolyn answers sheepishly, ‘Er, actually... we didn’t bring ALL of them. We didn’t complete the task.’
‘Yeah,’ says Iris, ‘something just came up.’
‘Jolly holly! What kept you? What made you end your spotless record? Well, whatever it is, it better be good.’
Robert answers, ‘Now listen to me and I’ll tell you everything. You see, Genilda...’
Robert goes on, telling Genilda about his dream and everything he has told his comrades. Genilda listens patiently with full attention and only comments when Robert finishes his explanation.
‘So, you abandoned your task to follow a vision, a mission given in your dream?’
‘Yes, I am. I too doubted her at first, just like you to me now. But after she showed me so many things and even explained about her weakness, I have no other thought but to go there and find out either it is real or a trap. Whatever we do, we are ready and we’ll see it through to the end for the sake of mankind.’
‘Good thinking, Rob. But let me get this straight. You’ll be risking your necks out there just like Enia’s Sanctum and this time there are going to be only five of you. Are you sure you don’t want to bring anybody else there? I mean, “ancient dragons” can be absolutely, infinitely nasty, you know.’
‘I appreciate your concern, Ilda. But I think we made quite an improvement since Sanctum, from our jobs and journeys around Aurelia. We have experienced much, if not, Algaban wouldn’t have called us.’
‘Well, no point stopping you then, if you are so confident about your team. I’ll help provide for your provisions and tell you the quickest way to Mount Hvalgarr. But let me analyze the situation first. I believe you told me that Algaban has given eight weapons away from the arsenal. Deathscythe Crow, Terra Nakroß, Deathblade Kraal’shazar, Chrono Chakram, Colathaloc, Viper Cane, Carrion Halberd and the daggers stained with cursed blood: Ultimatum.’
‘Kraal’shazar is in Adler’s hand now. He is still the prime suspect for being Vordac’s real new host, and is watched closely by his partners, Eidos Crydias – the holder of Chrono Chakram and Hernan Parvaez. But judging from his behavior until now, I think Vordac’s spirit is still weak and dormant, hiding somewhere or is still sealed in the sword, or perished with Paliades. Alexis holds the Colath’aloc, Desmond the Terra Nakroß, and the Ultimatum, you know who owns them... the rogue assassin MacLair – he is still at large, the most wanted man in Aurelia. I don’t know where the Crow Scythe and Carrion Halberd are now.
That leaves the Viper Cane. Do you know who owns it?’
‘I don’t know, Ilda. And neither do the rest of us.’
Carolyn cuts in, ‘Ilda, from the sound of your voice, you do know who the owner is, right? I mean, I thought the Viper Cane was lost for ages!’
‘You’re right, Carol,’ answers Genilda, ‘I know who’s the new master of the Viper Cane. She is called Zal’fira, a native Bresconnor. She once was a dark witch with no repute, until she took up necromancy. No one knows when and where she found that cursed cane, but it only took her five years to perfect her necromancy crafts. And one more thing, I heard she made a spiritual bond with the ancient dark dragon, Omegron the Tiamat, and she has sold her soul to Sodomos. The reason why you never heard of her is she never did anything big until now. All she does are experiments, with corpses, poisons and alchemy, and she meditates a lot.
With Omegron on her side, she now possesses one of the mightiest forces in Aurelia. Beside Sylvanian dark forces, Zal’fira is most likely one of the “great forces” Algaban fears. I tell you this so you’ll be prepared for anything lies ahead. Remember, if you must fight Zal’fira, be extremely careful. Well-known enemies of their well-known methods – like MacLair, for instance – are easier to fight against. But this Zal’fira... it’ll be extremely harder to fight someone you hardly know about.’
‘But how do you know her?’ says Iris. ‘You said even Bresconians hardly heard of her.’
‘That’s because we used to hunt together as a party when we were young. She is five years older than I am, yet I used to save her life so many times that she harbored envy towards me. Her envy turned into hate when I and Kluyvard were married. She liked ol’ Kluy, you know. She left our hunting party without a word and didn’t come to our wedding party either. I didn’t hate her because of that, but I never expected her to be this terrible.’
Chris concludes, ‘So, in other words, we must prepare to fight against the heir or the heir’s minions, Zal’fira, or plus Algaban herself.’
‘And the chance of us getting out of Hvalgarr Mountain cave alive is as thin as a strand of hair split in half.’
‘You said it.’
‘Bring them on.’
‘We have promised, so we’ll go as soon as possible,’ says Robert. ‘Thank you for your invaluable information, Ilda. I really appreciate it.’
Genilda answers with a slight remorse. ‘Jolly holly, I knew from the start that I can’t always depend on you guys as my meal ticket. I knew you’ll go far away again, only this time I fear that I won’t be seeing you again for a long, long time.’
Carolyn responds, a bit concerned. ‘Aw, Ilda, don’t be like that. I know we will meet again soon. But what will you do without us?’
‘Don’t worry about me, my friends,’ says Genilda. ‘When I decided to open this secret guild, I planned ahead to make this guild grow. Hunter guilds are illegal in Bresconnor, but with the flower shop as camouflage, I managed to assign several good hunters to do the tasks. There are fourteen of them active now. They are never as good as or better than you guys, but they proved to be a great help with a good rate of job completions. So, go. I and my kids will be okay.’
‘I’m sure you will, Ilda,’ says Carolyn with the sweetest smile she can put on. ‘You have been so resourceful since the first time we met you. I’m sure you’ll be all right.’
Genilda smiles back at Carolyn, saying, ‘Well, in that case let us dine, prepare and pray, may Vadis take care of you in your mission. Now what took the kids...’
‘Hey, what’s that?’ says Iris, puzzled.
Iris and the others look around to find the source of the grumbling sound. As they see Christopher rubbing his stomach with his two hands with a grimace on his face, they know at once that the sounds were from Chris’ empty stomach. Instead of being sympathetic to Chris, they all – except Robert – laugh out very-very loudly, amused with Chris’ attitude.
Robert shakes his head slightly with his ever-serious face. And Chris, of course, feels so ashamed in addition of his hunger. His face blushes like a little kid and he rushes out from the room towards the kitchen, under his friends’ continuous laughter.

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