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Authors: Michael McCloskey

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The House of Yeel

BOOK: The House of Yeel
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The House of Yeel

by Michael McCloskey

Published by Michael McCloskey at
Smashwords

Copyright 2012 Michael McCloskey

ISBN: 978-0983843016

Cover art by Howard Lyon

 

For Stephanie

 

Prologue: The Far Coast

 

The forest stopped just a
few paces from the cliff. Here the trees allied with the rock of
the earth to defy the ocean’s progress, intertwining their massive
roots with the boulders strewn along the coast. The waves crashed
against the stone below angrily, pounding into every pore and crack
to wear it away. If the Far Coast had any beaches or bays, they
were far from here.

A stiff wind blew from the ocean. The
Crescent Knight contemplated the terminus of his quest silently. He
had donned his magnificent armor only a few leagues back, sensing
his approach to the ocean. The pearly armor would have given him
away anywhere in his homeland. The smooth plates were a finely
crafted treasure of the Moon Temple at Liscenium.

The knight waited for a
threat to materialize.
The coast rang
notorious in a
hundred tales of woe, but
it seemed a peaceful place…

The faintest noise emanated
from behind him, an almost undetectable vibration that found his
ears despite the wind and his heavy helmet. He whipped around in a
graceful motion, the rasp of his longsword being freed his answer
to the unknown behind him.

A small humanoid crouched at
the edge of the trees, clutching a twisted walking stick. The
knight warily raised his visor and took a closer look. It was a
man—stooped, crooked, and hairy, but definitely a man.

The old man nodded as if appraising the
armored newcomer. “A fast one for sure. Welcome to my home, man
from beyond the forest. I am Faverhind.”

“Of what people are you, Faverhind?”

“None. I live here alone.”

“How do you know I’m a
man?”

“Only a man would travel here,” the hermit
said cryptically. “Men come to explore distant places far from
their homes. There are always those who are looking for something.”
The hermit sat down on a large rock, letting his thin legs dangle
over the edge. The ruined strips of his clothes flapped in the
breeze.

“I came seeking the Far Coast,” the knight
said.

“I know that place well.
I’ve lived there for over a hundred years.” Faverhind pointed a
crooked finger at him. “You find yourself standing on it right
now.”

“It seems, then, that I’ve
reached my destination.”

“Not what you expected, perhaps?”

“There are stories…legends…”
The knight’s voice trailed off. He allowed himself to lean against
a rock, and looked out over the sea again. “Is this the point
farthest west in all the land?”

“Almost. It is that bluff slightly to the
south. That is the farthest spot.” The hermit leaned forward, as if
sharing a secret. “If you stand on that bluff, you can see the
House of Yeel.”

“The House
of…Yeel?”

“He is powerful beyond reckoning.”

“Tell me of this Yeel. What does he look
like?”

The hermit shook his head.
“I’ve never seen him.”

“Then tell me of his house. What is it
like?”

“Amazing beyond understanding. It stands on
the mist and never touches earth or water.”

“Perhaps I shall go and see it.”

The knight spoke casually. He did not mention
that he had traveled across half the known world to see this place,
or that he had heard countless stories and legends about it from
the sages in Woldwall, or that he had come to find out what became
of every explorer that had ever traveled to the Far Coast and never
returned.

The hermit’s beady eyes
danced over the fine armor of his visitor.

“It is a steep climb,” the
hermit squeaked. “Perhaps you should leave your armor here and hike
up without it. I give you my word, I’ll see that no harm comes to
it while you’re gone.” The twisted old hermit smiled broadly,
showing his pointy teeth.

For a moment the knight looked at the hermit
while the cool wind hummed across the rocks. He scratched his right
gauntlet across his perch, feeling the ridged lichen that grew
there. Then he inclined his head toward his host. “I appreciate
your thoughtfulness, but think I shall leave it on just the same,”
he said.

The hermit chuckled
energetically. “As you wish. You may join me back here after you’ve
seen the house. I would share your company and learn of the lands
beyond the forest.”

“I’ll do that,” the knight
said, and tipped his head so the visor fell back. He turned and
strode away to the south, fixed on the bluff. The westernmost point
of all the land…it was amazing to think about.

He followed the edge of the cliff until it
turned sharply out farther west. A small grassy strip wound up the
eastern side of the rocky bluff. The Crescent Knight took a moment
to rest, and then tackled the incline. His armor was massive and
the going was rough. The only small blessing was the cool ocean
wind that swept over the bluff.

After over an hour of steady trudging,
bordering on staggering, the knight approached the summit. Just a
few more steps remained. The grass here began to thin out. It clung
to the rocks tenaciously. The Crescent Knight stared at it as he
tramped the last few feet, his head lowered in exertion. Then he
arrived and looked up.

Before him floated the House of Yeel.

Amazing was an
understatement. He saw a multisided object the size of a small
keep, white as bone. The top smoothed out into a rounded dome. The
entire structure floated in the air as if anchored in the sky. The
Crescent Knight stood staring at it in awe, breathing in ragged
gasps. He saw no means of moving from the bluff to the house or
vice versa.

A tremendous blow fell upon
the knight’s helm from nowhere. He crashed to the earth, and
started to slide off the bluff toward the rocks below. His scabbard
caught on a protruding rock. He took a handhold on the stony ground
and pried himself up.

A savage scream erupted above him. The knight
looked up into the eyes of a gargantuan bird of prey. He gazed at
it through his visor, trying to recover. Somehow he found the
strength to draw his sword from its long scabbard.

The creature reared up,
calling out in anger. The knight saw that it wasn’t exactly a bird.
Its back half resembled the body of a great cat. A long green
serpent slid out from inside the giant hooked beak. The knight
realized that the snake was its tongue.

The harapin blinked slowly, examining him
with a huge yellow avian eye. Then it hopped forward aided by its
wings, seeking his arms with its two great taloned forefeet.

The knight yelled back in anger and fear. He
lowered his head and thrust his blade into the feathers and fur of
its powerful chest, aiming for its heart.

The wickedly sharp beak struck, clamping onto
his helmet. The serpent hissed and spat as it angrily sought an
opening in the metal. The knight clung to his sword with all this
strength, trying to drive it further into the attacking beast.

Then the monster twisted
savagely. A spike of pain erupted in the knight’s spine, then a
numbness that left his body limp. He watched in horror as his hands
released the sword impaling the monster. He started to slide away
in the loose gravel, toward the edge of the bluff. The creature
flapped its huge wings spasmodically in its death throes, pushing
him further away.

The knight struggled for breath that would
not come. He slid over the edge and fell into the mist below,
unable to scream.

Chapter 1: The House of Yeel

 

Eight months into her journey, Jymoor finally
looked upon the House of Yeel.

“It’s real!” she cried. “I
made it!”

She stared at the huge
floating dwelling for long seconds, drinking in its grandeur. The
house looked perfectly formed, colored an even shade of white
across all its sides. The arched roof seemed no different than any
other part of it, and Jymoor could not tell how it had been built.
As she stood watching, she realized it slowly revolved in the mist.
She took another step forward to get a better view.

Jymoor’s foot landed on
something with a snap. She looked down at the rocks of the bluff.
The bones of some awful thing were strewn about. Jymoor stared at
the refuse, wondering what kind of huge beast had died here at the
peak of the bluff.

Her eyes caught a glint of metal. A sword lay
among the rocks, almost consumed by rust. The precious metal
decoration of the hilt was practically the only thing left of it.
Jymoor stared at the gold symbol and gasped. The Crescent Knight
had met his fate here, at the very foot of the House of Yeel!

Jymoor looked about nervously. She hoped that
whatever the thing had been, there were no more. Still, she had to
attempt contact with Yeel. She had known it would be dangerous to
travel to the Far Coast, but had accepted the mission as her
duty.

“Is anyone there? Great
Yeel, are you there? I beg for audience with the Great Yeel!”
Jymoor called out. Her own voice sounded scared and lonely, she
thought.

The sounds of waves striking the rocks far
below had receded with the height but were still loud to Jymoor,
who had become accustomed to the cries of the forest birds and the
rustling of leaves in the wind. She listened patiently over the
noise, waiting for any hint that her request had been heard.

No answering call came, but
Jymoor sensed some shift in the floating house before her. At first
she thought it changed shape, then she realized that the entire
house floated toward her! As it neared she got a better idea of its
size: the house rose about twelve times as tall as Jymoor at its
apex and extended at least that far in diameter.

Jymoor kneeled. She pushed
back the wave of fear that tried to rise up in her chest. Yeel
himself was responding to the summons! She hoped she would not
anger Yeel. The legends spoke of a being of immense power. Jymoor
took a deep breath and readied herself for the task. Her homeland
depended on her. Only with the help of Yeel could her people hope
to survive. She had been instructed to offer herself to Yeel, even
as a sacrifice if necessary, to secure the help of this ancient
entity.

The house crept closer to the cliffside and
slowed. It came to a stop less than a single pace from the rocks.
One of the smooth, white walls confronted Jymoor, hovering close
enough to touch.

Jymoor remained on her
knees. “Forgive me, Great Yeel. I humbly seek an audience with
you!” Jymoor cried out.

Once again, no direct answer
came. Instead, a large segment of the wall descended toward Jymoor.
She whimpered and crawled away, uncertain. When she gathered enough
courage to look up again, Jymoor saw that a perfect white staircase
had descended onto the rocks of the bluff, allowing ingress into a
white corridor leading up into the floating house.

“My lord? May I enter, my lord?” groveled
Jymoor.

Part of Jymoor still wanted to flee, but
where would she go? She had traveled for so long, come so far, how
could she not enter? She stood and peered up into the white hallway
that beckoned.

Jymoor walked up the stairs to the entrance.
Touching the wall gingerly, she tested the surface of the dwelling.
It felt smooth like a fine wood or polished marble, but absolutely
white with no grain visible. It warmed her hand. She hesitated
again, gathering her courage. Many odd tales were told of Yeel, and
some of them had a sinister slant to them. Some told of an
eccentric recluse who would just as soon eat visitors as help them,
others described an insane sorcerer lost to the dark arts.

BOOK: The House of Yeel
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