Carlita Harmell: Loathed

College student, Carlita Harmell, is pulled from her life to the past to fight back an evil that threatens her and everything she has ever known. Accompanied by a friend, Svana, and a mystical being who protects her, Carlita is shoved down the past to face odds of magic and evil and lots of untold secrets.

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1. Prologue

The peace of the summer night was broken with a lurid crack. Thunderclouds rolled one after another till they ruled over the thin canvas that had been a starry sky just minutes back. Explosions of lightning zapped across the solitary city, sometimes voicing crashes, sometimes sharp hisses. Masses of citizens scuttled away from all unsheltered land and into stables, houses, caves alike. It was not just the incoming rainstorm that caused the unstill fright but the cause of it.

Along a coarse path, a horse-drawn carriage dragged its ragged wheels along, consorts of armoured men on either side. The – seemingly – significant assembly came up to a cavity at the foot of Mountain Ararat. One of the carriage doors opened and a robust man, robed in a plain black and his head hooded, stepped out. His hands secured themselves inside the robe, holding on to something of great importance.

A dazzle of purple lightning struck the mountain, outlining the robed man’s bodily features. He was not remarkably tall, rather of average height, and he had a face of meagre structure. Tousled black curls made up a short beard and, despite the extreme measure of wrinkles, vulture-like nose on his face and a rather bald head, he was competent to be a man in his mid-fifties.

He took a single unyielding step forward, almost unwilling to head towards the cavity resembling a cave as thin streaks of clouds swirled by its stony structure. He threw his rat-like head over his shoulders and pointed his fingers at two of the armoured men. In response to his gesture, they accompanied him to the cave.

Upon reaching the stony structure, the guards removed a giant boulder in front of the entrance, giving way to a dark, fear-provoking passage in the hollowness of the cave. The man stepped forward, as the guards moved aside in respect, and peered into the darkness. While his gaze remained fixed, his arms had started quavering with anxiety. After he had had an extensive, fruitless glance trying to see what was ahead in the cave, he turned to his men.

           “No one comes in,” he commanded, pronouncing every word clearly with great emphasis.

The soldiers nodded and stood guard at the entrance while the man gradually entered the cave, the blackness consuming him as he went.

 

The cave, enormous as it had initially appeared, narrowed down to a never-ending tunnel as the man walked on. His breaths, which had been no different than that of a bull earlier, had now calmed and he was steady in his pace. The tunnel was soundless and voices would have echoed if the rainstorm did not drown them with its own rage. Deeper and deeper the man went till the storm’s noises was more of loud whispers than screams. The darkness of the passage had grown obscurer, but the man could feel that he was in the right place and had no need to move ahead.

Cautiously, he stopped to examine the darkness, breathing in the damp stench of the cave. He placed one hand out and started to feel the moss-covered walls of the stone tunnel. He ran his fingers on the subtle rocky surface all round till his flesh made contact with wood.

The robed man gave a sigh of stressed relief and fixed his hand on the wood, pulling at a latch which the darkness didn’t allow him to see. However, it was not the first time he had been here and he opened it nevertheless. There was a heave and the rotten doors pulled apart, enabling the man to enter, as he secured both hands inside the folds of the robe again.

“Al-Fazal enters,” the man announced to nobody but thin air.

It was not much of a commanding voice and he could not disguise the slight shiver that enveloped his tone. Immediately, at the words, the wooden doors closed themselves after him and, somewhere in the room, a candle-like glow appeared.

The light, though very dim, showed the ancient skeleton of a staircase entreating down the ground. The man drew in a deep breath and climbed down the rotting stairs with short steps that rang in the hollowness like strangled gasps for oxygen. At the bottom of the staircase, there was another door, greasy, black and small enough for a ten-year-old to pass in with much ease. Setting his finger and then resting his left hand, and keeping his right hand where it was, on the door, the man pushed, managing to heave it open. Given the fact that it was oily, the door didn’t bother to make any noise than that was a small squeak as it was pressured.

As he entered inside the door, another glow appeared.

The man waited with somewhat impatience as his eyes adjusted to the inadequate glow and he saw seven tunnels in front of him, each snaking its way out to a different path. Straining his hooded eyes, he made out a black symbol imprinted at the side of one tunnel. The horizontal symbol resembled a convulsive merge of two crescent moons, their stout arches overlapping one another partly, and a single line, smaller than the entire symbol, penetrated right through the middle. If seen from another perspective, the symbol also had a slight impression of an incomplete spider.

Exhaling in relief, as if he had seen it for the first time, the man hastened his way to and through the tunnel. It was barely narrow enough for two people to squeeze through, but the robed man was slender enough to go by with ease. The light, despite being so murky, was curiously erupting from nowhere to meekly lighten his path ahead. Still, he walked through the obscurity till he found himself in a ginormous, striking corridor. A gold-coloured chandelier hung down some way ahead on the ceiling and, on either side of the corridor, there were spiralling pillars with bold furnishes and splendid colours. In front of the man, and right at the end of the corridor, lay an enormous gate painted a glazing emerald.

The man nodded to himself and walked through the corridor, not much interested in the surroundings as his attention was fixed on the gate. Upon reaching it, he again used one hand to turn the ornate handle that had its end embedded in the glaze and strode into a soundless hall.

The gates shut behind him with a heavy thud and he swallowed, meekness seeping all across his body.

“Who enters?” boomed a bodiless voice in the dark.

“Al-Fazal,” replied the man, disguising his growing anxiety the best he could.

“What do you seek?” the voice pursued, calming down to a slight extent.

“The time has come,” the man responded, sliding past the question securely, and he took a bold step ahead towards wherever the voice emerged from.

There was a scattered hiss as if the being had been startled by his action.

“The princess,” the man went on, managing to appear courageous, “Have you found how to destroy her name, her family name, once and for all?”

“O Younus al-Fazal, surely you did not distress your feet to come all the way just to question about the princess?”

“I did. All the more the reason to sentence half of your legions to the eternal depths of Hell,” replied the man coldly.

“You would not dare!” came the infuriated gasp.

“I would. I will. You are under my command, and shall do as I abide lest you wish such horror to descend upon your people – and you.”

There was another splutter of realization from the voice and then the man, Younus al-Fazal, removed his hood from his bald head and witnessed all the torches of the room go ablaze, filling the hall with an even light. He felt his anxiety mount down to a dull feeling and his satisfaction overcame him as he spotted a towering pedestal, constructed of pure ivory and studded with seven colours of gemstones, standing some paces away.

Younus al-Fazal moved himself ahead and slowly climbed the three steps that raised him chest-high to the ornamental bowl on the top of the pedestal. He looked down and placed himself a little closer to it so that his robe was just a few inches from touching it. There was a cloud of darkened blackness growing in the bowl and Younus al-Fazal allowed a satisfied smirk at the sight. The cloud swirled rashly and rose up till it was four times as big as the man’s face.

 

“Well?” inquired Younus al-Fazal to the cloud.

The same voice rang through his ears in answer. “We have uncovered the key to your desire.”

“I had hoped so,” came the cold statement and then added, with a hint of supremacy, “I found the fourth Spirit of the Amulet.”

He finally took both hands out of his robe, holding something in doublings of brown rags. The cloud whirled in attentiveness. Younus al-Fazal smoothly removed the cloth and held up a gleaming, green gemstone, his face glowing with more evil than pride. He waited for a few seconds and placed it in the decorative bowl which held already held three similar stones, different in only colour.

 

“See, I have succeeded yet again,” he whispered to no one in particular but his tone gave him justifiable superiority. Then he raised his head, making sure he did not appear tense, and stared straight at the cloud, which had been silent out of respect, and spoke:

“What did you find? Do not displease me.”

“The princess… She still exists.”

“What!” Younus al-Fazal screamed, more furious than surprised, “Impossible! How!?”

“We went to the extreme, O Younus al-Fazal,” the cloud answered, not shaken in the least, “I sent my people to the future. There is where she exists.”

“Find her!” screeched the man, “Bring her to me! She shall exist no longer. No longer!”

 

 

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