Welcome to Part 1 of Voyage of the Lotus, a series from the mind of Anders Lundell (aka Isharton), a talented freelance artist with a passion for Magic: The Gathering.
In the story of Voyage of the Lotus, the merfolk Latir has to protect the heart of her home from an alien threat. During this story, we will see Latir travel through worlds via a yet to be revealed means to find people that could help her in her quest.
Catch Up on Previous Entries in the Series:
Part 0: An Introduction
But it didn’t matter. She couldn’t afford thinking about her own body right now.
Behind her were the screams of the knights whom had been tasked to protect her. If she were to give up right now and fall to her knees, their sacrifice would mean nothing. She pushed on, running through the dense forest with branches ripping and stabbing as she made her way. She glanced back at the knights running behind her. Each one making sure none of the tentacles pursuing them ever got close to Latir, who was in the lead.
Latir had always been quick in the water. She always managed to swim great distances within seconds. On land however, each step just felt like one stab after another on her very being.
Still, she knew that if they didn’t reach their destination in time, before this otherworldly horror, her entire world would diminish. Thus she forced herself with each footstep to get closer to their goal.
Then, they came to a halt. Before them lay a large chasm.
"We’re doomed!” yelled one of the knights who was still catching his breath.
Behind them, closing in with a steady pace, was the unspeakable horror, ripping down trees as it made its way towards them.
Latir looked back, and gave it half of a second worth of thought.
"Does it know?… Does it know where we are heading?”
She quickly turned her back on the monster. She never were one to invite death so eagerly.
During her nineteen years of playing with gigantic sea monsters and krakens, making them chase her like some game of Cat and Mouse, she had learned one thing. There is always a way out.
She quickly scanned the chasm for any options at all. A branch, a bridge, a vine, anything!
She then noticed it, water was running out of the cliff side just a bit further down on the other side.
"Death is upon us! Lets invite it for one last dance!” the commanding knight named Bernard yelled out as they all now faced the monstrosity. All but Latir who was facing the other direction
"Never were much of a dancer” she thought to herself. With one motion with her arms she quickly gathered up enough strength to form one command within her mind: Save us.
Swiftly, the water suddenly burst out of the cliff-side, and much like a snake it slithered itself through the air and onto the side on which Latir and her guardians were standing. Latir quickly rushed towards the now airborne stream and with a short jump she landed onto it, like it was solid.
"Hurry!” she yelled to the knights who now stood awestruck at this display of magic.
Within seconds their instincts caught up with them, and they quickly jumped onto the water next to Latir who now were concentrating to keep it in the air. The ghoulish tentacles now were just a couple of feet away from their position.
"Come on! there’s still time!” she yelled to two knights who still remained on land, yet to mount the stream.
The two knights looked at each other and nodded.
"We’ll buy you time! Quickly, do not make our deaths go to waste!” they yelled as they raised their swords, charging the beast, swinging at its limbs.
Latir bit her lip. With one sweep of her hands she directed the stream the company was standing on towards the other side. They all quickly jumped off and without looking back, they headed into the thick vegetation once more.
"It can’t be far now. They said it would be on top of this hill!” Bernard shouted at Latir as they were making their way.
She was unable to reply, her stamina wasn’t as great as the knight.
"Will you be able to talk to it, Whisper-mage?”
Latir looked at him and finally uttered, "Let’s hope.”
Suddenly, she felt as if she had once more dived into the sea. A massive force suddenly met her straight on and she stopped. It wasn’t a malicious energy, but something that felt very familiar to her. The knights had stopped in their tracks as well.
"What is it? Is something wrong?” Bernard quickly asked in fear that they’ve run straight into an ambush or something alike.
Latir just stood there. Silent. Staring into the bush ahead until she broke the silence.
She made a dash towards the vegetation, catching the Bernard and his knights off guard resulting in them lacking behind.
After some seconds of running, ignoring that her muscles ache and her feet are close to bloodied, she came to a stop.
There, up ahead, it was. The Lotus of the World.
Shimmering with a warm and gentle light, the flower had govern the worlds magic and life for a millennia. Whisper-mages come to this sanctum each year on a pilgrimage to listen for guidance and plead for protection. This was the first time for Latir, and she didn’t have the luxury of staying. She once learned when she was young that the flower radiates an aura of motherhood, thus no creature would ever be able to harm it. For legend say that if the flower would ever die out, so would all life in this world.
But the being chasing them is different, Latir had tried to talk to it but to no prevail. She only knew that the monster was that of hunger and not of this world, listening to nothing but its instincts to feed on magic.
Bernard and his knights finally caught up with Latir, as she approached the flower with gentle steps. Now being closer to the Lotus, the knights too felt its gentle aura caressing their souls and it almost made them drop their arms.
Step by step, Latir was carefully making her way to the lotus.
"Can you hear me?” she asked in her mind.
"The world is in danger, overrun by these beings. They are destroying life and bringing calamity to us all and we need your guidance.” She continued but received no answer.
Now her hands were inches away from the petals, as suddenly a giant loud burst erupted behind her. The creature had caught up with them. She quickly glanced back at the knights who themselves turned on the spot to face the tendrils of the monster. Bernard who were standing closest to Latir glanced at her and spoke with a calm voice.
"Fulfill the mission and save the world.”
He charged at the creature with a mighty war cry, such that would cause any opposing side to take one step back.
Latir’s heart sank as she turned around hearing nothing but the sounds of meat getting ripped in half accompanied with screams behind her, but not a single sound from the lotus could be heard in her mind. Her fingers then gently grasped the stem of the lotus. Carefully she began pulling, like she was trying to lift a bubble from the ground.
Tears began falling from her cheeks as the screams and sounds of metal slashing slowed down behind her and she realized. She couldn’t do it. She couldn’t uproot the flower in danger of damaging it, even if it was to bring it to safety somewhere else. Her hands fell to her sides, and she once more felt the fatigue borrow itself throughout her body. Trying to remove the flower was like trying to strangle ones mother.
"I can’t do it… I have failed.”
Now it was almost silent behind her and nothing but the sound of slithering could be heard. Tears fell onto the ground as her head lowered itself. She now just awaited death to strike her in the back.
Then suddenly, she heard it.
Latir’s head snapped up. Quickly she made a leap forward, evading the unseen blow from the monstrosity that had stood right behind her. She makes a roll as she lands on the ground and quickly rose to her feet, now facing the beast with a determined look on her face. She glanced down as she was now holding the lotus gently in the palm of her hands.
"I wont let you destroy any more lives, beast,” she shouted before turning her back on the beast and scurried off, still carrying the flower in her hands ever so gently. The creature quickly began slithering after her like a snake and it didn’t take long before it was catching up to her. Latir was more determined now than ever that she needed to escape.
Then she noticed something at her left that made a chill go down her spine. There was another beast just like the one behind her.
Now there was two of them, and the one to her side was closing in very fast to her. Latir who still felt like she could collapse at any minute picked up the pace and pushed on through. She wouldn’t let them take her or the lotus. She was so focused on escaping the two behemoths pursuing her, she didn’t even pay attention to her path until it was too late.
Latir came to a halt as she reached yet another cliffside. She quickly searched for anything that could help her escape, but to no avail. No water, no branches, not even a decent route to climb down even if she had the luxury of time. No way out. Latir felt time slowing down as she turned around. A giant wall of flesh that had been unable to slow its momentum came crashing onto her, pushing both of them off the cliffside.
As Latir got pushed of the edge, still feeling how time became ever so more sluggish now, she thought to herself:
"Sister, I am sorry.”
And so she fell.