6. The fourth gift, the black horror and the beating heart
Another five years came and went and Weo turned twenty and this was an important year of Weo’s life for she had not spent her time idly but practiced every day with shield and axe and magic helmet and these weapons, because they contained the souls of the great national heroes who had wielded them in ancient times, had imbued Weo
with great skill and mastery so that, at twenty, Weo was a warrix greater than all the Warriors and kings who had ever defended Kenglund, and Kenglund was blessed to have such a champion at that time because it was in that year that Klawhanna raised her army of a million shadows; soldiers of solid darkness born from a flood of liquid night that had bubbled up out of her hell-well.
As promised, the Goddess appeared before a twenty- year old Weo with the fourth gift
And this time she appeared as a field mouse with feathery wings and she was climbing up the limbs of a longbow and this time Weo knew the importance of all and she knelt and bowed her head low before the bow climbing mouse.
“This is my fourth gift to you, Weo”, said the mouse, not in squeaks but in the voice of an infant, “It is the traveling bow of Wirrowen, the archer; the greatest archer of old Kenglund and it is no ordinary bow for any arrow fired from this shall hit its target no matter how far away and no matter how small and, when it is held in both hands, it will transport its owner to any place that they wish”.
And Weo received the gift with the proper reverence and respect for her goddess and
waited patiently for a warning but, this time, there was no warning. Instead the goddess said, “You are now old enough and skilled enough in the ways of the warrix to be entrusted with your first quest”.
And the little winged mouse, fluttering over and settling upon Weo’s right shoulder spoke into Weo’s ear, “Within the dreaded isles of Garog overwhich Klawhanna rules is a small island called Klagock upon which is kept Klawhanna’s heart. Only when the heart is thrown into her hell-well will it be destroyed; taking her and her darkling army with it but the heart is kept deep within a cave and the cave is guarded by the
giant black horror of Klagok, a monster that is half spider and half cat with sleek jet black fur, six cat legs and six green cat eyes, sharp cat teeth and sticky webs that it spins from its whiskers”.
Weo thought this description terrifying but the Goddess was confident of her victory, “Don’t worry Weo. You were born to do these things and you hold me and my power within you” said the Goddess and, winking her right eye, vanished.
Weo immediately went to tell her parents that she would have to leave home to face the black horror of Klagok and recover Klawhanna’s heart and her parents strove to smile and be happy and proud and to fill their daughter with confidence and drive from their heads any unpleasent thoughts of failure and death and, weeping between her words, Homa made a speech.
“Oh, Weo; my blood, my life”, she said, “The hour hand casts these irreversible changing spells. It turns the naked child within my arms into a woman in armour and the little half of me into a hundred women in one. You have grown treelike
while my eyes have stayed as small as seeds. I must accept that the picture has outgrown its golden frame. The frame must expand or else break. Ignore my tears; tears always come when the eyes are suddenly made to stretch. See, instead, the sun of pride between each tear and know that my faith in you is stronger than my fears and take my faith in you and convert to it because you are God’s chosen champion and you will come home again and bring the severed head of darkness with you; I know”.
Weo stayed with her parents all night and, in the morning, she took her travelling bow in both hands and willed herself to the island of Klagok and found herself standing upon its rocky shore with black swirling, stormy water behind her and, infront of her, the only thing upon the island; a large, dark cave and, within that cave, the skulking black horror.
And Weo said to her helmet, “I dare not enter that cave. It would be like entering the mouth of the beast itself”.
And the helmet, that had the soul of Marzel within it, replied, “No. It would be wiser to lure the beast out; bring it to the edge of the waters and force it into the waves”.
And so Weo fired two arrows into the cave mouth, knowing that the arrows fired from her magic bow could never miss their mark and the arrows that Weo fired sought out the black, furry hide of the beast and sank their arrowheads into it like two sharp teeth and this so enraged the beast that it came crawling out of its cave and Weo’s face was stretched with terror and she struggled not to scream as she saw the terrible screeching and hissing horror emmerge from its cave.
It was, as the Goddess had described, a giant black cat with as many legs as a spider
and six bright green eyes upon its head and a roar like oceans of thunder and, for a time, the beast perched itself ontop of the cave like a mountain of black, growling moss clinging to the rock and did nothing but glare at Weo, studying her, but then, suddenly, it shot out its whiskers like long sticky, spider threads and they clung to the edges of Weo’s shield and tried to pull the shield from Weo’s grasp and the shield cried out, “Weo! Don’t let it take me, Hold on!”,
And Weo’s axe called out, “Use me! Use me!” and so Weo swung the axe and its blade chopped through the spider-cat’s sticky whiskers and so now, even more angry, the spider cat picked up a large black boulder in its six legs and, lifting the boulder over its head, hurled it at Weo but Weo, who was swifter than any common mortal,
moved out of the way of the crashing boulder.
So now the creature hurled itself, pouncing, with all six enormous legs, upon Weo but Weo raised her shield and swung with her axe and held her ground and, chopping left and right, cut off two of the spider-cat’s large hairy legs so that now it only had four but, even with only four legs it was still a giant, ferocious beast and just as determined to kill Weo and so it pounced again with all its power but, this time, Weo moved quickly out of the Spider-cat’s path and the creature went crashing into the black, stormy sea and, because it could not swim, it waved its arms wildly, roared with terror and drowned.
And, once the black horror was safely buried beneath the sea, Weo entered the mouth of the cave and, as she did so, her magic helmet glowed brightly to light the way.
And, inside the cave was a long corridor carpeted by bones and blood rusted armour of warriors who had been killed by the terrible spider-cat but, though it was dismal and frightening, Weo continued forward.
And, as she moved deeper into the cave, Weo could hear a knocking like a woodpecker or a hand knocking at a thick, wooden door and, at the end of the dark coridoor, she saw a room full of treasures. There were jewels as big as apples and solid gold coins piled up,everywhere,like little molehills and she was tempted to snatch up some of that wealth but her helmet warned her against it, “That is cursed wealth”, it said, “To distract searchers from the real treasure and it will only bring sadness, death and misfortune to those who take it”.
And so Weo ignored the glitter of gems and gold and continued to search for the source of the mysterious knocking and, under a small pile of gold coins, she discovered a little casket made of ebony and engraved, all over, with golden mystical symbols and, when she lifted the casket to her ear, she could hear the knocking coming from within, and, when she opened the casket, she saw the heart of Klawhanna, still alive and beating in the box.