Crystalline Aura – Chapter 18

Crystalline Aura
Oracle of Light
By Cil Gregoire
Alaska Sci-Fi Queen

Chapter 18
The Final Battle


Rahlys froze to a halt in her front yard. The others, also curious as to why Ilene had returned, were soon right behind her. Rahlys turned toward them, already steeling herself in preparation for battle. “He’s coming!”

“Who’s coming?” Vince asked.

“Droclum.” The enormity of the situation silenced them all. “I want everyone out of sight and out of danger,” Rahlys said with urgent concern.

“What about you?” Maggie asked.

“I have to face him,” she said with decisive, quiet reserve that masked the cauldron of fear simmering deep inside of her.

“I will not just stand by and watch you face Droclum alone,” Vince said, holding his ground.

Rahlys knew there was not much time. Quickly she turned to Quaylyn, “Quaylyn, I need you to stay hidden for a while. I don’t know why, but I feel you are an important key to the outcome of all this. I’m sure you will find an opportune moment to make an appearance. Until then, I want to keep you in reserve.”

Quaylyn neither spoke nor moved, his eyes and face a motionless void of expression, his mind in a quandary over what he should do. Droclum was coming. Droclum, the scourge of the universe…his father…was approaching. Quaylyn removed the miniature box Theon had given him from his shirt pocket, opened it, and removed the little gold chain necklace with the tiny silver rune. “Here, take this,” he said, to his own surprise, handing it to Rahlys as though it were a good luck charm. “Perhaps it will work better for you than it did for me.”

Perplexed, Rahlys opened her hand, receiving the amulet. Then without further explanation, Quaylyn simply vanished away. Not knowing what else to do with it, Rahlys opened the pouch that hung from around her neck, and dropped the little necklace in with the crystal. Pushed by the need for speed, she turned to Maggie.

“Maggie…please…go and intercept Ilene,” Rahlys said after Quaylyn was gone. The day began to darken as ominous blackness boiled in from all directions, consuming the sunny sky. “And stay out of sight.”

“Take Ilene with you to the house,” Vince called after Maggie as she started to leave. The darkness grew.

Maggie turned toward him in protest, but decided to keep her own counsel. She would intercept Ilene and they would keep themselves hidden in reserve until an opportunity to help presented itself. With fear gripping her heart, Maggie headed down the trail to meet Ilene. The unnatural, quickening darkness continued to close in overhead, urging her to pick up the pace.

“Where’s Melinda?” Rahlys asked looking around.

“She’s still back at the guest cabin,” a frail looking Theon informed her.

“Go, and watch over her,” then she softened the command, “…please.”

“I’ll go check on her,” Theon said, not moving.

“Vince, you must let me confront Droclum alone,” Rahlys said, turning toward him. Reading the hard lines in his face, she added, “You could cover me from the edge of the woods.” Still Vince and Theon didn’t move, their eyes glazing in horror at the darkening sky. “Go!” Rahlys shouted, stomping her foot to jar them into motion. To her relief they both stirred.

Stepping just out of sight into the woods, Vince conjured his gun and ammo from home, and quietly loaded the rifle while keeping a watchful eye out for Droclum. A bullet should kill a sorcerer as easily as any other man, he reasoned, loading the chamber and taking the gun off safety.

Melinda had hung back when the rest of the group left the newly completed guest cabin to join Rahlys and Ilene. She didn’t know Ilene, and wished to sit alone in the late summer sun and think, immersed in the clean smell of new wood. Theon found Melinda standing in front of the little cabin, gazing up at the sky as the swirling dark closed off the last spot of blue. In a matter of minutes, the bright sunny day had been transformed to lingering dusk. She turned her gaze toward Theon as he approached. He was from another world, she knew, as was Quaylyn, but she did not fear him. He had tried to help rescue her from Droclum, and had been badly hurt in the effort. When Raven transmitted images of a somewhat worried-looking Ilene coming up the trail, Melinda received the images as well. But she was unaware of the Oracle’s second message.

Why has the sky turned dark? Melinda asked him in alarm.

“Droclum is coming,” Theon told her. “I think it is best you stay inside.” Melinda nodded silently in agreement, her youthful face transformed into an expression of horror. Theon followed her into the cabin and pulled out two pistols from his pack, which he quickly loaded, although he was less certain than Vince of their likely effectiveness against Droclum. “Stay here,” he told Melinda as he strapped a gun holster around his waist and walked back out, closing the door behind him. Melinda ran to the window, and looking out, caught a fleeting glimpse in the mounting darkness of Theon’s back headed in the direction of Rahlys’ cabin. The darkness rumbled and flashed.

As Ilene walked up the trail from the railroad tracks, recognizing some of its features from the week before, a strange darkness started consuming the sky. Her heart raced with foreboding. Quickening her step, she was startled out of her wits when in a blind curve in the trail she nearly collided with Maggie in the almost dark. They both came to a halt, hearts beating wildly.

“What’s happening?” Ilene asked with frightful concern, recognizing Maggie, even in the eerie darkness.

“It’s Droclum,” Maggie cried. “Oh, you wouldn’t know…”

“But I do,” Ilene said, her alarm increasing. “Theon told us about him. Where’s Aaron?”

“Aaron? We haven’t seen him since he left with you. Why? Is he missing?”

“Yes…I thought he was here, trying…,” Ilene paused, then decided to finish off her sentence after all. “…trying to steal the crystal.” Lightning lit up the sky, punctuated with a rumbling boom of thunder.

“Why, that fool! The crystal can’t be stolen, at least not by the likes of him. Well, if he’s here, he hasn’t shown himself.”

“What about Theon?”

“Theon’s here, but he’s still weak from his last encounter with Droclum. I doubt he will be of much help.”

“He had an encounter with Droclum? What happened?”

“Theon contacted Droclum to give Rahlys time to sneak in and rescue Melinda.” Ilene didn’t know who Melinda was, but she didn’t stop Maggie’s dialogue to ask. “When Droclum figured out what they were up to, he dealt Theon a terrible blow. It pretty near killed him, but Rahlys managed to help him recover…somewhat,” she added.

“Where is he? I need to see him,” Ilene said with urgency.

“Surely, whatever you want to tell him can wait. Droclum is coming!” Maggie explained. “Rahlys wants us to stay out of sight.” But Ilene would not be deterred. Determined to reach Theon, she continued on.

“I’ll go with you,” Maggie said and the two women headed up the trail together. As they drew near, they slowed their pace looking out for signs of danger. Cautiously, they skirted the edge of the clearing, weaving their way through the dense underbrush in the thickening darkness.

Hearing rustling in the brush, Vince lifted his rifle to his shoulder aiming in the direction of the sound. Then Maggie and Ilene dimly came into view. “Don’t shoot, it’s us,” Maggie whispered loudly.

“What are you doing back here?” he said, lowering the rifle. “I told you to take Ilene to the house.” Vince did not sound at all pleased.

“I must see Theon,” Ilene said, heedless of Vince’s rebuke.

“Now?” Vince asked incredulously, as another surreal flash of light preceded another roll of foreboding thunder. Ilene and Maggie didn’t answer him, their eyes focused on Rahlys, transfixed in the middle of the clearing, the boiling dark swirling above her.

Unmoving, Rahlys stood in the center of the yard drawing in power as she watched the sky apprehensively. Then a tremendous flash charged the dome of her protective shield, blowing it asunder. The reverberations from the destruction of her spell knocked Rahlys a blow that sent her careening to the ground. The protective shield was no more. Regaining her footing, Rahlys willed herself under control, gasping for breath, as the foul stench of iniquitous evil seeped into her being. Despair. Horror. Pain. Sorrow…all infinite…overwhelmed her senses.

Droclum appeared before Rahlys in his true essence…what he had become. Sorrow…and endless heart-wrenching grief…flooded her psyche. Rahlys staggered under the weight of immeasurable, unquenchable sorrow…a burden of sorrow too deep to ever know gladness. Horrific dread and hopelessness overpowered her mind, robbing her of her will to live. Pain and grief…horrendous, horrifying, unceasing pain and grief…Rahlys shuddered uncontrollably as her soul cried out against the crushing writhing agony that permeated her being…more anguish and suffering than could be eased in all of time. How could she hope to endure?

Rahlys struggled to focus. She had to fight! But how could she fight such insurmountable corruption? Fight! You must! You can’t let this evil consume you…and the others…the whole world. Clenching her fists with the strain to gain control, she drew on the elemental forces around her.

“Rahlys,” evil hissed like a dying breath.

With all her strength Rahlys struggled to repel the debilitating despair, drawing on the power within her. You must fight! Good must prevail over evil, or all will die. Pulling in energy from around her, she compressed it into a superheated fireball and flung it hard. “Burn in hell!”

With ease, Droclum curved the fireball’s trajectory, hurling it back toward her. It missed her only narrowly as she dived and rolled to avoid being struck, the fireball searing a charred path to the fiery combustion of a spruce tree.

Up again and running, Rahlys dodged a volley of flashes. A searing flash streaked through her clothes and across her back as she dived behind the full woodshed for cover. Gritting her teeth against the intense, burning pain, she crouched behind the protection of the woodshed, trying to catch her breath. Fight! Don’t be a coward, she reprimanded herself. You must fight or all will be lost. Taking the offensive, Rahlys teleported herself out in the open within close range, pulling in such tremendous energy, it charged the very air around her, and flung the charged bolt with all the force she had, knocking Droclum back only a step.

Recovering quickly, Droclum struck back, the impact sending her sailing. Landing in a painful fall, she went into a roll, then quickly shifted position, barely avoiding yet another strike. Bruised and battered, pain cruising through her body…Rahlys vanished an instant before Droclum’s next hurled bolt of energy exploded, leaving a hole in the ground where Rahlys had been.

Theon, hiding in the strip of woods between the house and the guest cabin, was about to step out and unload his pistols into the abomination Droclum had become…when Rahlys vanished. Now, he couldn’t be certain of her location, and he didn’t want to take the risk of hitting her. An image of the raven beside him flittered across his mind. Looking down, sure enough, there was Raven, the medallion Theon had thought was lost secure in his beak, the rune’s phosphorous glow the only thing discernible in the eerie darkness.

Theon took the disc from Raven’s beak as Droclum struck in what he perceived was Rahlys’ direction, hitting his mark. Rahlys took part of the force of the blow, barely managing to deflect the blunt of it. Pain wrenched her left arm and shoulder as she went rolling down the slope toward the creek. Taking cover behind a patch of alders, she rematerialized, writhing in pain, barely able to move.

Having located Rahlys, Theon stepped into the clearing as Droclum’s dark form headed in pursuit of his victim. Holding up the medallion, he invoked its power. The runes glowed brightly as they sent out their signal, the recipient exceedingly near.

Droclum turned to face Theon, “You dare to summon me again?” he growled.

“You doubt my loyalty?” Theon asked, approaching closer. Then quick drawing, a pistol in each hand, he emptied both rounds, rapid-firing nearly point blank into the gruesome horror that was Droclum. The bullets pierced and the demon roared hideously from the impacts, but remained standing.

“Traitor!” Droclum boomed, drawing on the darkness around him, imploding it into great density, then fired the spear of darkness at Theon…bringing him down.

“No!” Ilene screamed as Theon fell. Without thinking of the danger to herself, she jumped up and headed for him. Vince quickly grabbed on to her and pulled her back.

“Stay here!” he said, pushing her down. “And stay low.” Maggie and Ilene crouched lower into the concealing brush. Then Vince left to try and rescue Theon, if he was still alive. Ilene wept on Maggie’s shoulder while Maggie tried to console her.

Before Droclum could finish Theon off, Vince teleported himself in front of him, and fired his rifle repeatedly point blank into the heinous corruption. Droclum howled in anger, knocking the rifle out of Vince’s grasp.

Then Vince felt something clamping down forcefully on his throat. Suddenly, he couldn’t breathe…the need for air rapidly became agonizingly urgent. He was being straggled, he realized, and frantically groped at his throat with his hands as he gasped for air, but there were no hands there to remove.

Rahlys picked up on Vince’s stress, and gathering strength from she knew not where, teleported herself back up the hill. Drawing on unknown reserves of power, she hurled all the force and vigor she could muster toward Droclum, stunning him momentarily, forcing him to release his stranglehold on Vince.

Vince gasped repeatedly, painfully filling his lungs with air as Droclum turned his attention back to Rahlys. Seizing the opportunity, Vince grabbed hold of a groaning Theon, and teleported with him, not questioning at the moment how he did it, back to Ilene and Maggie in the comparative safety of the forest.

“Father!” Ilene cried softly, bending over him tearfully.

Father? Vince and Maggie glanced at each other in startled surprise. Ilene cradled Theon’s head in her lap, willing him to live, trying to ease his pain.

“Daughter,” he moaned in a whisper, unable to say more. But it was enough, for Ilene heard it clearly.

Then Rahlys felt her own throat painfully constricting. “Surrender the Oracle!” Droclum demanded, bringing her down to her knees. She gasped for breath and the vice grip clamped down harder. While straining with all her might to oppose the crushing pressure at her throat, she clutched the pouch containing the crystal and necklace. Pain coursed through her body, as she struggled to remain conscious, struggled to breathe, and struggled to maintain possession of the pouch and its contents.

Then suddenly Quaylyn appeared beside them. “Father, stop!”

In shocked surprise, Droclum mentally let go of Rahlys and faced Quaylyn. With enormous relief, she took in deep gulps of air, refilling her searing lungs.

“My son,” the monster said softly, after looking him over, reading his signature, assuring he was real. “…Quaylyn.”

“You must stop this, Father. What you are doing is wrong.”

“Righteous, like your mother, I see.” Droclum crept closer. Quaylyn, his heart numb to any threat, did not step back. “Don’t make the same mistake she did, my son. Forget these…creatures,” Droclum said, as though casting a forget spell. “Come with me, and I will make you greater and more powerful than you ever dreamed!” Quaylyn began to shake as Droclum moved ever closer. Whether it was in fear, or in rage, Rahlys couldn’t tell. She regained her feet, drawing on her draining energy reserves, waiting for Droclum or Quaylyn to make a move. Then Quaylyn broke like water over a dam, burning with hate, burning for answers.

“You destroyed my world!” he shouted in rage. “You destroyed everyone’s world! Why? Why did you do it?” Quaylyn paused, his body trembling. “You defiled my mother, and stole me from her!”

“Your mother was a fool. I offered her the universe, but she failed to see our potential together. She wouldn’t love me, so I took what she loved most dearly…I took you…and placed you in safe keeping. I planned on coming back for you, but now I see that you have conveniently come to me. How unfortunate…for you.” Then without warning, Droclum drew on the darkness, flinging out a lance of powerful dark energy.

Quaylyn fell to the ground.

As Quaylyn fell, Rahlys struck. As though drawing the lightning from the sky, she struck Droclum with one bolt after another, driving him back, away from Quaylyn’s still, unmoving body. Most of the strikes were blocked, but a couple brought forth sharp cries of pain. With her surge of energy exhausted, Rahlys prepared to teleport to cover, her sights on a nearby tree at the edge of the clearing. But before she could make the jump, Droclum struck her with full force, sending tortuous pain radiating throughout her body. Writhing in agony, Rahlys fell to the ground, losing awareness of the things around her, her entire being consisting only of pain.

“Give me the pouch!” Droclum roared.

“No!” she managed through gritted teeth, her trembling hands grasping the pouch, clasping it to her heart in an effort to protect it. She had to prevent Droclum from getting the crystal.

“Give me the pouch!” Droclum roared again.

“No…,” Rahlys groaned, weak and hurting, clutching the pouch to her. Droclum stretched mentally toward her, magically drawing on the pouch, beckoning it to him. She could feel the pull and strained to maintain possession.

“Give me the pouch…or all of your little warriors will die.”

“Why don’t you just kill me instead?” Rahlys gritted through clenched teeth.

“My pleasure.” Instantly, the pull ceased, and Droclum flung a blazing ball of energy in her direction. But Rahlys was just as quick, launching a similar shot in return. The two blazing spheres met in mid-space, bursting into brilliant fireworks that momentarily lit up the arena.

“Give me the pouch!” Droclum demanded again as the fire and light show ended, advancing on her quickly.


What? To Rahlys’ astonishment, the message had come from the Oracle. But why would the Oracle want her to surrender the crystal?

“No!” she cried out, clutching it to her all the harder.

GIVE HIM THE POUCH, the Oracle repeated, even more emphatically. She felt an overwhelming compulsion to trust the Oracle and relinquish the pouch. Reluctantly…Rahlys relinquished the crystal.

“Here, take it,” she said, and she let go of the strain to maintain possession. Instantly, Droclum had the pouch in his possession.

“Finally, Anthya, you are under my control,” he said fondling the soft leather, with relish. Then he emptied the contents of the pouch into his open hand.

Droclum’s roared with unbelieving horror as the little gold chain with the silver rune fell out of the pouch. Upon contact, the necklace stiffened into glowing life in the shape of a small, but deadly, serpent, the silver rune forming the snake’s head, and the golden chain defining its body and tail. The screams of countless nightmares ripped through the air as the little glowing silver and gold serpent circled Droclum’s form, around and around, leaving a smoking trail wherever it passed. Droclum screeched and bellowed, bringing forth blood-curdling cries that sent chills down Rahlys’ spine. Frantically, Droclum struggled to rid himself of the deadly omen, howling in terror as Anthya’s spell unfolded. Frozen in time, Droclum smoldered, screaming, crumbling before her eyes, until in one last defeated howl…what had been Droclum…crumbled into a pile of dust, and was no more.

The rune necklace fell lifelessly to the ground.

Trembling, Rahlys stared at where Droclum had been in astonished disbelief. The swirling darkness dissipated rapidly, letting through increasingly more light. Soon Vince and Maggie were by her side.

“Kaw! Kaw!” Raven flew in to inspect the dust pile. Then Ilene and a very weak Theon joined them in the clearing as the sun’s rays began to filter through.

As the sky brightened, they gazed down at what remained of Droclum, a non-threatening pile of dust.

“Great job, Sorceress Rahlys,” Vince congratulated her.

“You did it. You destroyed Droclum,” Maggie said.

“It wasn’t me, it was Anthya’s magic that destroyed Droclum.”

It was true. Droclum was gone, and in the end, it was Anthya who had finally destroyed him. The protection charm she had created to secure the life of her son as an infant, united with the crystal she had empowered with her magic, had produced magic of their own.

“Quaylyn,” Rahlys said, and they rushed to where he lay unmoving in the summer grass. Gently they rolled him over, checking for signs of life. He was still alive, but barely. Grasping his hand and forehead Rahlys sought for healing strength to share with him. To her surprise, Ilene joined her.

“I can help.”

“Let her,” Theon said, “My daughter is a healer.”

“Daughter,” she murmured in shocked surprise. It was evident by their demeanor that Vince and Maggie had already heard the news. “As you can see, I’m standing,” Theon offered as proof.

Just barely, Rahlys thought, but she gladly bowed in agreement. In her drained, exhausted state, she had little strength to spare. Poor Quaylyn, she thought sadly. His life had been shattered. Rahlys wobbled in an effort to stand, and Vince stepped up to offer her support.

What happened to the crystal, Rahlys wondered. Had it been destroyed along with Droclum and the pouch? Involuntarily, she reached for the pouch she had grown so used to wearing, but it was no longer there. She tried summoning the crystal to her. Instantly it appeared, hovering before her, its soft light glowing.

So that’s the crystal Aaron covets, Ilene gasped silently. It looked exactly like the one in the painting, only more solid.

As the sky lightened, Melinda opened the door to the guest cabin and peaked out. Sunshine winked back at her, beckoning to her. Cautiously she stepped out. Raven flew over sending her images indicating for her to follow him. Where’s Droclum? She asked the raven, as they reached the clearing. Raven flew to a pile of dust not far from the rest of the group, and landed beside it. The sun came out in full force, shining brightly in a crystal blue sky.

Walking up beside the raven, Melinda stared at the innocuous little hill of ash. Then she reached down and picked up the little necklace that lay hidden in the grass, and walked over to where Ilene was administering healing energy to Quaylyn. Is he going to be okay? Melinda asked.

Ilene looked up at Melinda in surprise. A young girl she had never seen before was standing beside her, and she had spoken telepathically. Could she speak to the girl like she did the image of the crystal, Ilene wondered, and gave it a try. I hope he will be alright. I’ll do all that I can to help him, she said.

Are you from another world, too?

I am Theon’s daughter.

Satisfied with that answer, Melinda knelt down in the grass beside Quaylyn and placed the chain and amulet in his unmoving hand. The tiny silver rune glowed softly.


“Anthya is coming,” Rahlys announced.

The air was charged with anticipation. Except for Maggie and Theon, the others had never actually seen the Councilor before. Maybe she will be able to help Quaylyn Rahlys hoped.

And then Anthya was there amongst them, gleaming in the sunlight. All eyes were riveted on her; Ilene and Melinda stood in greeting. The crystal flew over to Anthya, circling her excitedly, before returning to hover near Rahlys.

“Congratulations, Sorceress Rahlys, Guardian of the Light! You have completed your First Mission,” Anthya said, bowing to her respectfully.

“Councilor Anthya, greetings,” Rahlys said. “Please, can you help Quaylyn?

“I have come to take him home.” Anthya went to Quaylyn, and levitating him up to her, touched him tenderly, placing a patch of light on his forehead. “Quaylyn has suffered much heartache and sorrow, in addition to the blow from Droclum. We will do for him all that we can.”

“Will he be alright?” Maggie asked still concerned. She thought about how different it was going to be without him around. He had been so changed these last few days, she felt that she missed him already.

“He will be fine, over time,” she assured them gently. “I would also like to take Droclum’s ashes, if I may.”

“Sure, of course,” Rahlys said. No one objected.

Anthya pointed a pale, slender finger at the pile of ash that had been Droclum. It disappeared as though sucked by a vacuum. Then she turned toward Theon.

“Greetings, Warrior Theon.”

“Councilor Anthya,” he replied politely, bowing his head in respectful greeting.

“I can also assist you in returning home, if you so desire.”

“Thanks, Councilor,” Theon said, “I appreciate the offer, I really do…but I want to stay near my daughter.”

“As you wish,” Anthya bowed in return and turned again toward Rahlys. “Sorceress Rahlys, you have fulfilled your destiny; Droclum has been destroyed.”

“It was Anthya who defeated Droclum, not I.”

“She couldn’t have done it without you. The powers of the Oracle and the crystal are yours to keep. Their power will endure through your lifespan only. Remember to always use them wisely.”

“Thanks…I think.”

Anthya smiled warmly, “I see you do understand. Before I leave you, do you have any requests, Sorceress Rahlys, Guardian of the Oracle?”

“Would you let us know how Quaylyn fares, and…” Rahlys choked on a sudden rush of emotion. “And thank him, for us, for all his help,” Rahlys said recovering.

“Yes, of course.”…and then Anthya and Quaylyn were gone.

I was born in New Orleans, grew up in the Louisiana swamp, and then settled in Alaska as a young woman. After decades of living the Alaska dream, teaching school in the bush, commercial fishing in Bristol Bay and Norton Sound, and building a log cabin in the woods, life had provided me with plenty to write about. The years of immersion in the mystique and wonder, and challenges and struggles, of living in remote Alaska molded my heart and soul. It is that deep connection I share with my readers.