Night was silent as it ever was, little there were sparks or commotions in town, and residents had shut their windows tight to keep the chilling wind from blowing in. As the lights of the little windows one by one switched off, left was the rustling trees to accompany animals of the wild and strays, but with some merry-making of crickets pulling their fine strings into music of nature, as well as the eerie and irritating owls hooting their flight into the darkness hunting their prey, which startled the field mice and made them squeak when they scampered, they kept the place from a total slumber.
The last bus drove on slowly on the road, shining its powerful lamps to light the journey, wary of safety to avoid any mishaps not accounted for. And it happened to be the sole vehicle on road, from its last stop at Starvane driving straight to Heimfirn. Only three passengers were on board – a girl, long blonde hair with fine locks resting over her shoulders, still in her blue-blouse, black-skirt uniform, a red-haired man, and a young boy, looking tired and worn, but maintained a wistful calmness. They were the last persons travelling in the dark.
The bus dropped them off the usual stand on the main road, the deserted road where the three stood, left by the bus driver who cared less to send them each to their doorsteps. Dim street lamps as minimal sources of light were guides for them, as well as the bright moon, which seemed to follow their trail. They paced unhurriedly on with no usher.
“So, shall I call you by your name, or shall I remain calling you, Phil?” asked Elyn as she treaded on the sidewalk, foot by foot down the lane, in the line of three. Philip answered, “It’s best you still address me the way you have always. We need to keep this secret very safely from others. Remember Elyn, you must tell no one about it. No one.”
“Not even my friends?” she implored, “not even Yvonne?”
“I know Yvonne's a close friend, but strictly, no one must know. I don’t want matters to get complicated after rumours spread about us. The Council would be unhappy then.”
The short walk finally ended at the gates of Elyn's home. There, she saw her mother standing at the lawn waiting for her return. At the sight of her, Elyn's mother rushed of the house.
“Where’ve you been, Elyn? I’m so worried. It’s so late and… oh, Mr. Stanley is with you! And Hewlett! Oh, in that case, it makes me more relieved to see both of you with her.”
“I’m very sorry, Mrs. Forrester,” Philip apologized humbly, partly on Elyn's behalf, “I shouldn’t have kept your daughter from home late in the night. I’ll make sure it’ll never happen again – ”
“Oh, that’s all right,” Mrs. Forrester cut in, “as long as you’re with her, I won’t see danger would befall my child. Thank you for watching after her.”
“Well, then I guess I’ll be going. See you tomorrow,” and Philip walked off after bidding farewell for the day. Elyn and Hewlett waved behind him, watching him until he disappeared into the darkness, to where he resided.
She woke to the morning from wonderful dreams of past nights, in which she thought them to be very real, to some extent. Yet, deep contemplation as she sat at the edge of the mattress realised it was not a mere dream – they were all too bizarre to even crop out of an imagination, too ridiculous to stage in one’s hallucination. She turned to look at the shoes by the door – quite muddy and soggy, soil from the wetlands. Then, something hanging over her neck reminded her of a chain, and she took it out from beneath the collar to reveal a pendant – not rusty any more, but glittered as light shone upon the smooth surfaces, an amulet resembling a hammer featured.
She remembered deep in a heart word by word Philip told her that day before: she was chosen to stand with the celestials, her destiny of greater things awaited her.
She stared out through the open windows of her bedroom, to see the many buildings of homes high and low, large and small in her neighbourhood, the streets with few pedestrians strolling with pet dogs and cyclists paddled, all under the sunrise that was bright and glowing, nothing ominous, just a sign of a perfect day. After getting dressed, she made her descent to the kitchen for her breakfast, which would be prepared by her loving mother, often bacon and eggs in rich sauce. At the dining table, she saw her meal nicely served in an oval plate, a chair in front reserved, waiting for her to be seated. Beside her plate there was another, almost empty with leftover scraps of gravy, thickened. There was no other occupant in the house except Hewlett, the boy who came to lodge. “Has Hewlett eaten?” Elyn asked. “He’s out already,” answered her mother in a cynical tone, hinting her that she was slower than Hewlett.
Elyn sat down in a quiet daze, giving much thought to the boy, who seemed young but was no immature child. She knew him by the name Huginn quite well, as she had read of his name in school about Gods. People portrayed him as the eye of Odin, meaning that he watched the world for the Allfather. His name alone suggested the meaning of ‘thought’, as he was often said to be wise. In a raven form he flew the world, he must had seen the whole world, every nook and cranny; he must be knowledgeable of almost everything, his past experiences were a thousand times more than a sage. She once treated him as a boy, but now, she felt herself more like a girl.
She went to retrieve her bag after swallowing the last bean on her plate, and bade her mother a goodbye before she left for school. Surprisingly, as she opened the door, she watched her good friend Yvonne waiting patiently at the gates, waving to her when noticing her emerged. It was indeed a pleasant surprise, as Yvonne lived nearer to Heimford, but took all the way down to meet her at her house. With haste, Elyn tied her shoelaces, and ran to her friend for the first morning greet.
“I came over to company you along the way,” Yvonne explained, “ and I thought you’re not going to school. Yet I can see you robust and rosy. You look great, Elyn!”
“Thanks for your care, Yvonne. I’m better because I have friends praying for my health. I should thank you.”
“Let’s do away all the courtesy. We’re off to school now, do you want the bus, or should I flag a cab?”
“I prefer to walk,” Elyn answered, “It’s such a fine sunny day to waste. Besides, I need the fresh air all I can get.”
So they started off the road, with their backpacks strapped to their shoulders. They headed for the main road, and crossed the busy street to the other side, where the stalls and shops had conducted their businesses early. All along the sidewalk the people were moving about, of school children and businesspersons rushing their way to avoid being late, elderly housewives doing their grocery, and some walking the dogs. The bustling morning was lively, Elyn loved to be in the crowd once in a while.
Yvonne followed behind her jovial friend, watching Elyn skipped her way cheerfully among the people, humming her own tune. Yvonne was the daughter of a wealthy businessman, her father was the famous Mr. Timberlake who owned a chain of general stores in Norway. Even though she was far better off than Elyn, as her friend lived a more simple life, she found no reason for her to walk along with the other rich and pompous children of her father’s associates. Yvonne felt more comfortable with Elyn, she sensed a speciality about the blonde girl that made her so adorable. Her fond grew for Elyn the first she met her in first grade. Kind, generous, magnanimous, these were the great values that Yvonne saw of Elyn's nature. Though sometimes Elyn might be stubborn and rash that landed herself in a lot of trouble, Yvonne still enjoyed the friendship, willing to share the burden. All the same, she wished for Elyn to be safe and happy. Being the only child in her family, she treated Elyn more than her friend, more like a younger sister. They both shared a vow to be best friends and best sisters, forever. And this vow they kept till today.
“HELP! THIEF!” a sudden cry for help, a damsel’s voice, rang out from the crowd. The people on the road took the shout with great astonishment, but none had been prompt to react. A man, clad in a shirt, vest, and slacks, dashing his path with tremendous speed, jostling through the moving pedestrians brushing past anyone who did not make way. Yvonne saw him charging forwards from behind; in his hands was a lady’s handbag, which he grabbed onto it tightly. Yvonne knew the danger, and stepped aside for him to pass. She yelled a warning to Elyn in front of her, but Elyn was too late to do anything before the man knocked into her. The robber’s long legs snared Elyn's and made her trip, but amazingly, the man continued his run without even falling.
“Are you alright?” Yvonne rushed to Elyn's aid, helping her up from her sprawl. Nothing had been more important than her friend’s safety, she would have blamed herself if anything should happen to Elyn. Fortunately, Elyn was fine, no bad injuries, just a bruise marked on her knee. “You’re fine, Elyn!” Yvonne exclaimed, “I’m so glad you’re alright!”
“Now who’s that bonehead who did this?” fumed Elyn crossly. Following, they both watched a fat, old lady running comically down the sidewalk, still shouting anxiously, “Help! A snatch-thief robbed me of my bag. I’ve several hundred dollars in it! Somebody please help!”
“Don’t worry, ma’am. I’ll catch the thief for you,” offered Elyn to the lady, startling Yvonne. Elyn jumped up, and called for her friend, “let’s go, Yvonne. We’ve got to return this lady her belongings.”
“But how?” Yvonne was dumbstruck, “that thief runs like wind, we can’t be able to catch up with him! And we don’t know how to nab him too, you know, he’ll be stronger than two of us!”
“Trust me, Yvonne, I know I can. Now let’s make haste.”
The two girls sped down the road, chasing after the thief who was already far. They made a turn into an alley – the girls knew the area well, and took the shortcut, hoping that would help them shorten the pursue. They put their agile legs into action, running as fast as they managed, making swift turns into alleys and hopping over broken crates that blocked their path. Finally, they made a final dash and darted out of the alleys into the main street again. Gasping for breath, they looked around for their wanted man, assuming they overtook him. To their dismay, he had been quicker by a few paces, and never seemed to be tired of the entire running.
“That lanky guy is nippy!” exclaimed Yvonne, “what do we do now?”
“Stop him first,” answered Elyn, very confidently. Bending down, she picked a tiny stone on the kerb, a hard rock which she took aim at the man’s calves. She was unsure if she had the strength and accuracy to hit him at his legs, but it was for certain she would borrow the powers given to her. She remembered what Philip had told her, about her duty to watch over Norway, and keep the peace of her home. This was the chance to prove her skills and courage, the chance to exercise her first job.
She released the stone at her fingertips with a jerk, and like a bullet, the projection zoomed towards with superb speed. Next, a painful howl wailed as the man fell and dropped the bag, his hands clutching his leg with agony. Two men at the roadside perceived what happened, and arrested the man. Elyn and Yvonne rushed up to them and retrieved the bag. The man who held the thief commended her, “you’re a big help in catching this rascal. You two girls are very brave. It’s indeed a courageous act.”
The fat old lady rushed up to them with her hands waving. After taking back her bag, she expressed her notable gratitude. “Thank you girls, oh thank you. Do you wish for something to repay for your kindness? Anything, I can reward you if I can.”
“No, it’s not necessary,” Elyn declined, “it’s my duty as a chosen… err… uhm… as a good citizen, yes, a good citizen!”
Elyn accepted the many thank-you-for your-helps, blushing with pride, and then quietly slipped away when the attention turned towards the robber. She never knew it felt so gratifying being a hero for the day, a worthwhile act of goodness. Surely, Philip would be pleased when he heard of this, Elyn thought.
“How did you do that?” cried Yvonne, dumbfounded by the amazing hit on the target. “Well, maybe just my stroke of luck,” replied Elyn gleefully, still remembering she had to keep her powers a secret from everybody, not to reveal even to her best friends. Anyway, she hoped someday she would be allowed to disclose this secret, and to have at least somebody to admire her.
The grand front of the building stood erected all those years, and prevailed, but crippled at the interior, razed. There was the unusual lacklustre looming at it, a shade of grey that tinged. Many were still at the shock of the incident that turned one-day old, which fortunately claimed no lives.
The two girls went to school as always, walking along the long hallway. Nothing changed, every arrangement of the school remained the same; everyone under the same roof looked normal still, except that hardly anyone wore a sociable smile, perhaps, all because of the fire the previous day. Elyn could not help feeling a bit guilty (for she believed that she held responsible) and sympathy for them, wishing that the dreadful event had not happened, and would never had happened.
She walked past the junction that led to the North Wing, which was now sealed up, not very properly, with a few boards nailed and a canvas spread as a cover. Charred remains scattered around the section, swept clean by workers earlier, but slight breeze blew in more from the ruins. Elyn stopped short looking at the gaping hole (which merely played in her imagination, for wooden planks had it covered), as though she saw the out-stretched corridor till the far end, the room to the right that opened, the darkness enveloped, the ghastly guffaws thundered as green pupils gleamed, the claws which sparked flames, the explosion that quaked, the heat that scorched, the threats that lamed the soul, forlorn at the brink of passing. She shuddered, her mind overwhelmed with fear, her encounters still seemed very much alive, with no one near for her to seek comfort and safety when she needed most, only a vicious demon who kept tantalising her, chanting for her deathbed.
“Elyn,” roused Yvonne seeing the glaze in her friend’s eyes, “stop thinking about it. It’s all over now, there’s nothing to se scared of – you, we’re safe.”
Tears spilled from her eyes when Yvonne patted her back as a show of care. She appreciated the kindness of Yvonne, always there to lighten her dismal spirit, to back her on any situation. But there were many things that she had not told her, the man whom Philip identified as Loki at particular, thus Yvonne knew little about the danger she faced. She responded with a grateful hug, squeezing Yvonne tightly at the body, resting her chin tenderly on her shoulders, gently rubbing her cheeks on her neck.
Equally as caring as Yvonne was her own mother, who kept asking about the fire and her safety, nagging her to be cautious everywhere she went. There were other friends who concerned much; Monica for instance, was the first to question for her well being when she stepped into class. Monica was benevolent in many ways, helpful and giving most of the time. Elyn could not help but gazing at her compassionate eyes behind the clear, thin glasses, which seemed to soothe people who were troubled or gloomed. Elyn said silently in her heart: if I were to discover bosom friends, I would surely put you next to Yvonne.
She closed her eyes, casting away all vexing thoughts harassing her. Perhaps the day would be better, but she did not put much attention to that.
Wherever Miss Goon be there entailed a creepy obmutescene, as a hushed lot stared attentively at the white chalk markings wriggling across the blackboard, forming words and numbers, lots of numbers, and equations, symbols and all. Unspoken words jumbled in their minds – some hated her with anger, others bowed meekly; but all in all, there was no ease in the class, just tension.
Elyn studied the pages where she had her notes copied. Her concentration focused on the questionary of mathematical problems, many of which she had no answers to them. While her brain was put to strain, the pen gripped between her thumb and forefinger twisted round the phalanges deftly, fiddling.
“Elyn Forrester!” a loud, sharp voice suddenly called up to her, making her jolt, thinking that Miss Goon had summoned her to do some questions on the board. She panicked, fidgeting over the pages of her book, yet no solutions she found to the questions that awaited. She searched for Miss Goon, hoping that she forgot whom she had called for. However, surprisingly, Miss Goon was still busy writing on the board. Instead, the person shouting her name turned out to be Mrs. Klipton, a fellow teacher in school. Elyn left her seat and went up to her, supposing Mrs. Klipton had a word for her.
“Mr. Stanley is waiting for you in his room.”
Elyn could not believe her ears. Philip, with a room! It was the least expected for him to have an office to his own. “Which room?” she asked. “Room sixteen, the Sports master’s room. Just walk down and turn right and you can find it. Or perhaps I can escort you?”
“No thanks, Mrs. Klipton. I know my way. Thank you,” said Elyn politely with a smile. The teacher smiled back with a nod, then walked away to the other side.
Whenever the name of the man came to her she drifted into a delusional ecstasy, as her heart escalated in beats, blood rushing up through the capillaries, reddened cheeks resulted. In her, there was only sheer excitement whenever she was about to meet him, good feelings about him whom she could say respect or she was too young to love. Not capitulating into either interpretation, she waited for things to develop with time.
Two knocks at the door and she turned the knob. Philip was seen writing his work on a wide table. The office was nothing more similar than to Madam Hallard’s, all but smaller in space. The close of the door got his attention, and raised his head with a light-hearted grin. “Elyn, you have come,” he called. She saluted him with respect, and eased herself on a seat extended to her, this time comfortably, unlike past experiences inside Hallard’s room, just irrational panic and fear when she was in there, as commendations were fewer than punishments for those summoned into her purgation chambers.
“A very nice room, quiet enough for personal stuff and keeping confidential beyond this point,” remarked Elyn with a sense of sarcasm, but not wholly meaning it. Philip just laughed and said, “you guessed right of what I’m intending to do. You’re getting clever, Elyn. You’re right, it’ll be much easier for us to discuss in private.”
“So, any assignments for me so far?” asked Elyn eagerly, hoping for a task as a peacekeeper. Philip put down his pen, and a sudden change of his mood after that, a frown on his face as he said, “there are a few, recently, but there’re also reports that spoke bad about you. The Council’s Observers have been spying around, and they spotted you in a big fault this morning.”
“I’m at fault?” Elyn cried out in protest. Thinking back, she then remembered her encounter with a daytime robbery, but nothing she understood wrong about helping to catch a thief. “Are you saying that arresting a thief is an offence? What about the job as a peacekeeper?”
“You’re terribly wrong, Elyn,” Philip said sternly, almost as frightening as Madam Hallard, “the Council does not allow intervention on matters concerning ordinary folks, or in other words, no powers shall be used against mortals. You’re only permitted to use your powers when dealing with supernatural forces. On other occasions, strictly no magic!”
Elyn sat back glumly, looking angrily at the red-haired man with a mixed feeling of hate and disappointment. Deeply unsatisfied with the explanation, for her actions she took were merely intentioned to do good, she felt that Philip had ridiculed her. Instead of praise, she got herself a reprimand.
Philip had sensed for a while that he had been too harsh on her. Nevertheless, she was still green in handling the responsibility she was not fully prepared for. He softened his tone, in an attempt to appease her, gaining her confidence. “I should say sorry to you, Elyn. It’s not entirely your fault, but my mistake of not informing you earlier. Sorry Elyn, I hope you van forgive me.”
Elyn looked at him with a suspicious gaze, finally relenting and broke into a slight smile. At times, she knew why Philip was so adorable – he was good at socialising, he knew his approach to levy the tension, he could change the ambience flexibly. A good conversant he was, no doubt, and sometimes drawing people too close to him till they felt great amiability between themselves.
“Before you go, I’ve something to tell you.” Saying so, he rummaged into the drawer, and pulled out a sheet of white paper, scribbled, of some sort of address. “I’ve placed an order on a book for you, Elyn. You can collect it later after school. Here’s the bookshop.” He shoved the paper to Elyn across the table. Elyn studied it, and exclaimed, “Mr. Gibbs’s bookshop? What can I possibly get there, a history book?”
“Something better than any book you had read, you’ll find out as soon as you’re there. Now I’ll excuse you, your classes are waiting,” and he gestured her out of the room.
The afternoon was exceptionally hot, the glaring sun too scorching, alike an untimely summer. There were occasional showers, but fewer in the year. Radical climate changes affected the weather all the same.
She stood in front of the shabby, old-fashioned shop that was built of wood, retaining the brown colour of its paint. She brought Hewlett along for company, arriving at the place without reference of the address, for she already knew where situated the place, often described by friends as a dumpsite of ancient scrolls, particularly nothing interesting, with only an old man by the name of Lambert Gibbs running the business, clueless of where he channelled the fund for the operating costs of the poor trade, when only old folks visited for some leisure novels, and some historian geeks who purchased some very old books too defaced to fetch a good price, worse when they scorned at the price and haggled for a cheaper value. For once she had hesitated to enter, and thought Philip had been mistaken to find something aspiring here.
The door creaked, and as she opened, first that came to her view was the counter, an old man sitting at it, bespectacled, straining his eyeballs over some accounts he kept for record. However, with all those concentration, he still noticed his customer making an entrance, and politely greeted, “Good noon, come in.”
Elyn stepped in cautiously, for the floorboards did not look convincing enough, brittle ones might give way at some weight. Hewlett provided an escort for her. The old shopkeeper squinted at her, and with a small exclamation mark, he cried, “oh, a young pretty girl, I see! It’d been a while young lasses come to my bookstore, I think ten years, a full decade! Look around, lady. I’ve quite a collection here: classics, vintages; you name it, you get it!”
Doubts roused, but what the old man said about getting classics was convincing enough, at the sight in the little reputable compartment, books racks arrayed in rows and columns, packed, leaving space for a person’s pass between each, heightened to seven or eight shelves high, and to reach for the highest a rickety ladder was prepared. The furnish of the outer part was still new and presentable, yet as Elyn explored further into the treasury of tomes, there were dust and cobwebs hanging all round the beams, shelves, books and everywhere else, musty emanations that took some nerves to bear. Stuffiness, dingy lamps hung low all make to a past medieval atmosphere, reminding her of how a library was back in the olden days, in comparison to the present when screens dominated the public reading rooms.
“Find anything of interest, lady?” asked Gibbs when Elyn walked out from the racks, still sitting at the counter, but now more helpful in manner. Elyn shook her head. “I have a book reserved here. I’m to collect it.”
“By the name of whom is this book reserved in?” his eyes widened for an answer. “Philip. Philip Stanley.”
“Stanley!” the old man exclaimed, “Philip Stanley, quite a man indeed!” He lowered his head and examined Elyn standing in front; looking above his glasses he screwed his eyes, his hands adjusting the spectacles. “Ah! A fine, young impressive lass! Can tell from your eyes, the flaring spirit you have your gaze, very strong. Immeasurable strength within you. Ah! A prominent scar above your nose bridge, the birthmark of the evangel! The Great One chose you right!”
Elyn scared stiff when she heard those words. How possibly did Gibbs know about the secret? What about scars on her forehead? There was just a dent at her brow since the first day she was born, and nothing spectacular about it.
“Ah, the book that you want, I almost forgot! Wait, my child.” He bent his body down and rummaged a stockpile of old dictionaries. Then, pulling out a large one, he placed it on the table with a hard slam, dust flying all over. He choked, and then blew the dust from the cover. “There you’re, my child! The Lexicon of Ragnar!”
Appalled she was staring at the ancient tome, probably dug out from graves, and as curiosity stirred, she flipped through the pages meticulously, afraid of tearing the leaves. “This is the Lexicon of Ragnar, the very book to provide you with all the information you need about this godly world. You will find all your answers to everything you feel amazed about.”
“Who’re you?” Elyn began to get suspicious, “how do you know about the Gods? When do you know about them?”
“How do I know? When did I know? Ha ha, I know it even earlier before you were born, my child! Ha ha! I’ve nothing to hide from you, really. I’m the Scribe of the Gods, which means writer of scrolls and keeper of tomes. You can just call me a book keeper in service of the Gods.”
“You’re a God? Immortal?”
“Nah, I’m just an old man, about to die at my age. This job is just a heredity from my father, just like he from his ancestors, a long service in our family lineage.”
“My name is Elyn. This is Hewlett,” she introduced. “I know,” he said, “Stanley spoke to me about you,” and looked at Hewlett, “I should give you my duly respect, Lord Huginn,” and bowed his head. Hewlett responded with a nod.
“Perhaps you might want to try out this book,” Gibbs suggested, “You might want to learn more about the foes you’re dealing with.” Elyn agreed to the suggestion, and started flipping through the pages, all indexed by the alphabet. Gibbs shook his head with a snicker. “No, that’s not the way,” he said, “You need to show more charisma pertaining to these things. Ordinary people turn pages – you, however, turn them with your mind in command. You’re the Lexicon’s master, not slave to it.”
Elyn, after hearing those advices, began a deep thought in her mind: bring me the malevolent Dark Stalkers to my display, let me unearth them from their outer morbidity to their inner darkness. In an instant, the book flipped its pages by itself, very magically, and opened to the title “Dark Stalkers”, complete with an illustration of a ghastly figure in robes. The text read: Dark Stalkers, prominent agents of evil who carry out duties of their Lords. Being great assassins, they can hunt their prey to the ends of the worlds, especially mortal men. They are often in form of human men, for they were once men lured into the biddings of darkness by infusion of defiled blood….
There was a sudden tingling sensation she felt after reading the excerpt, and a warm, glowing heat at her breasts. A faint gleam shot out from slits of her buttoned blouse, an aura of bluish-white. Mr. Gibbs, too, sensed uncanny, as he raised his eyes around him, searching the air. “What’s wrong with Mjollnir?” asked Elyn, and as she took out the pendant, it was still emitting white light. “It’s warning you,” Gibbs said, “Your foe should be near.”
Through the embossed glass of the door, they made out roughly a dark figure approaching with two knocks at the door. Mjollnir started to vibrate, and a faint blue light pointed to the door. “One of them making an entrance,” said Gibbs twitchily. “One of them?” the girl thought there were more. “Yes, there’re still a few outside – I know their ways, they come in packs, like vicious wolves, beasts.” True enough, another man walked by the window, casting a huge shadow blocking the sunlight. Elyn squirmed; her weakened legs trembled when she recalled how the Stalkers pursued her once. And they had come back for her.
“Run to the back door, Elyn!” commanded Gibbs, “I’ll take care of them to buy time. Hewlett, you must notify Stanley about this, immediately!” The boy transformed into a black bird instantly and flew out of the little window.
Elyn took leave quickly as fast as she could, Mjollnir dangling loosely round her neck. Dashing out of the exit, she jumped into an alley, quite a long alley that could not see ends, and cloistered with high walls, stretcher-bonded with red bricks. There were tall leafy trees behind the walls, and fallen leaves strewn all over, colouring the lane yellow. For once Elyn could not decide where to go, but fortunately there were only two alternatives and not more. A choice she made, a wild guess, by running right (which seemed much safer).
A dozen wide steps after, she stopped at her tracks. A sudden blustering wind blew, hitting her body violently; Mjollnir shook, glowing warm. Not far she saw a man advancing from the opposite direction. As he was about a few feet close to her Elyn noticed his evil snarl: she knew the man was a Dark Stalker, in guise of a man. Realising the danger, she turned back with haste. The man followed, still steady in pace, seemingly he did not put in any effort to chase her. Elyn wondered why.
The alley yet again split into three at a crossroad, giving her more headache of where she should go. When she spotted another man up ahead, it narrowed her to the junctions for her to decide. Her footsteps thumping and her heartbeat followed rhythmically. She took another right swerve to stumble upon a man leaning against the wall, waiting for her. She retraced her steps, turned to the opposite, and shocked to see another with arms folded, sharp fangs showing. No sooner, the two other men caught up with her, having her surrounded completely. Their dire sneers and sniggers chilled her.
“Nice to meet again, young mortal!” one of them cackled with an evil grin, ghastly voice. “You’re not going anywhere,” another laughed, “we’ve once underestimated you, but not anymore! It’s time to get the job finished, or the Master will be very mad. You’ve lived your last!”
They drew out huge swords of coal-black, the blades burning in noxious black auras. Menacing sharp ends pointed at her, an in this terrifying situation, Elyn clasped her palm stiff on the amulet, in her heart calling for Mjollnir’s aid. It happened before, and that moment it recurred, glints of light effulged, and the hammer appeared, charged with renewed energy, ready to strike first blow. She clutched it firmly, her body transfused with great power. No shrinking violet she was in that confrontation, for she was determined to play her role as a peacekeeper by eliminating them.
A gust of wind suddenly flurried, and scattered brown leaves taken into the current, swirling round the place in circles, like confetti, intensifying the rage of the battle. Often this phenomenon occurred when there was a clash between great forces, a common result of interference of dark and good energies, conjuring shockwaves. Elyn stood unmoved with Mjollnir posed to strike when the men make their first move. The Stalkers waved their swords, their evil red eyes shone fiercely.
It was in less than a split second when one of them lashed out his sword at her, making Elyn jump in fright, but her hand guided the hammer in defence, colliding with the cast-iron with a loud clang. At the same time, another leapt onto her with sword slashing viciously. She ducked, and saved herself with a narrow miss as the sharp edge cut her sleeve torn a few inches wide but left her arm uninjured. She retaliated with a thrust of Mjollnir at the brutal attacker, hitting him a heavy blow, while her sturdy leg kicked another one behind, who then flinched from his advance. Swinging Mjollnir, she struck the fourth down, a mighty whack on the head.
She had bought only little time enough for her to think her next move. In this critical moment, recalling how she drove them away the last time, she decided to repeat the ground-shaking attack that deemed effective against them. However, unfortunately, the situation was not helping her. Being outnumbered, she could only remain on her defence, while they attacked her simultaneously, allowing her no time of rest. They swung blades above her head or swiped under her shrinking legs as she jumped, thrusting and piercing at her. Elyn kept pace with the ferocious assault, but sooner or later when exhaustion overwhelmed, and she would fail to resist them any longer.
At time there were pauses when the Stalkers reshuffled for a different approach. She remained vigilant but panted heavily; her hands ached, as she held on to the cumbersome hammer she was not used to wielding. She quivered, her heart trembled. How she wished for someone to rescue her.
Suddenly, she heard a call for her name. “Elyn, come over here quick!” It was like her hopes answered. The familiar voice she recognised, the hoarse voice of an old man. She turned to the call, and without mistake, she watched Gibbs standing erected not far away, with a long staff in his hands for a weapon, as it seemed. At the same time, Gibbs had also the Dark stalkers distracted. Taking the opportunity, Elyn sneaked past them, and dashed for cover next to Gibbs, trusting he would protect her. Moments later when they realised this, they started chasing behind her madly.
They were gaining on her, and Elyn was still far from reaching Gibbs. She wondered if she could ever make it, or being pinned down by them. Then, she heard another cry from the man, “get down on the ground, Elyn!’ He sounded serious, so she obeyed, lying down with chest pressed closely on the floor. Meanwhile, Gibbs raised his staff and forcefully knocked the tip on the ground. Instantly, from where the staff thudded, a mighty shockwave zoomed forwards, flying past Elyn above her head then greeting the upright Stalkers with a loud explosion, tossing them off their feet. Each fell down with a loud thump.
Elyn picked herself up immediately after that and joined Gibbs by his side. Regaining strength, the old man was also gasping for breath as much as her. “How long have you been using the hammer?” he asked. “Two days,” answered Elyn. “What? Two days! I reckon you know little of using Mjollnir. Let’s prepare for the worst. Run whenever you have the chance.”
“No, I’m sticking with you!” she dismissed his suggestion, “since I’m given this responsibility, then I shan’t back off. Phil has high hopes on me, I don’t want to let him down.”
“Well spoken, my child, those words of a person with great chivalry. That’s the spirit of a warrior! Well then, we’ll stand our ground till we breathed our last. We’ll stay together even if the sky should fall from heavens or heaven itself falls; or should the earth break into a thousand pieces, we must prevail good, and triumph over evil and all seeds of sin within….”
Meanwhile, the fallen Stalkers slowly recovered themselves, staggering with their plunged swords supporting them, inching towards their hunted. They seemed to be invincible, powerful blasts had little effect on them. It had become an uncertainty on how to defeat them, noting their imperishable strength and durability. Then sudden darkness enveloped, the lights went out abruptly and a huge shadow cast over them. Then came a deep swooping of a low-flying bird. Elyn and Gibbs looked above. There was a huge raven, gliding with enormous wings spread, and someone riding. “Elyn, pass me Mjollnir!” the man cried from on top. Thinking less, Elyn flung the hammer up to the sky. Mjollnir never came back by itself, but brought a diving Philip holding it. His swift appearance was never explained, instead, sprinting towards the Stalkers with incredible steps, and hurled the hammer at them.
It happened very fast, too fast for eyes to capture the whole action. One second Elyn saw him landing with a graceful somersault; the next second Mjollnir flew towards the Dark Stalkers and hit them once. In the third second, they disappeared into shatters, what was left of them was black ashes strewn on the floor.
“Phil!” Elyn shouted as she rushed up to him, with Gibbs following behind. “What happened?” Philip caught the hammer that returned to him. “Vanquished,” he said, “they’re gone for good. At least the others won’t be bothering us for a while when they knew this,” turning to her, he smiled, “ you did great today, Elyn. You have shown great courage facing your enemy. You have proven yourself a denizen-protector in the eyes of the Gods.”
“Phil….” Her watery eyes twinkled as she uttered, touched by his tender words. She could suppress no more of her emotions, and hugged him, as an appreciation, and a place of comfort she seek to overcome her anxiety. Gibbs received another, a respectful one. Finally, kneeling down, she gave a hearty squeeze to Hewlett (in his human form then), scratching his smooth raven hair.
The sun was still in shines, peeking over patches of fluffy, white clouds that spread their amoebic fringes with the wind, across the azure firmament, in respite.
That night, in her diary added another line, which significantly marked another considerable change and progress in her life, and destiny about to be. There were mixed uncertainties of what her future might hold, because many incidents veered her from a normal life into an unpredictable journey of unknown course, and some too strange for her to believe herself. People searched for fantasy in their dreams; she found it, in real life experiences.
The pages closed after a full stop dotted the end of a log. Then, putting down her pen, Elyn flipped open the Lexicon placed beside her diary. In front of her displayed the many peculiar contents she could find, of long descriptions about almost anything that were once regarded as a myth. Sketches of creatures and places that she had never seen before filled the book, like Gibbs said, an answer to all things she did not know.
By accident, the pages turned to a leaf, featuring a drawing resembling the mighty God of Thunder, Thor, and words accompanying: “…a prodigy born to lead the Gods, with power and strength of no comparison to any mortal men of immortal beings, and thunder as he raged, and thus placed the highest honour beside Heaven’s Eye, and henceforth the defender of the walls of Asgard and heavenly protector of men….”