The Power of the Dark Lord

                                                                                 By Bert McKenzie 

                                                                                  Copyright 2010

 

 

Chapter IV

"Trust you, this man?" Rood asked.  "If he would send harm to one just for
the sake of this money, what honor would bind him?"

"It's a cashier's check," Scott explained.  "We will have proof that Alex's
debt has been paid in full."

Rood looked confused and shook his head.  He didn't understand the strange
sounding words that Scott had spoken.  "Scott, he's speaking Tuathan,"
Jennifer pointed out.  "And you answered him in English."

"The chrism of communication must have burned off," Rood said, referring to
the magical oil with which he had been anointed, and which had allowed him
to speak and understand the human language.  Now that the magic was gone,
he couldn't comprehend what his human friends were saying when they spoke
English.  Scott, who was bilingual because of his previous experience in
the land of Faerie, had not even realized when Rood had shifted back to his
own speech.

"This could pose a problem," Scott said in Tuathan.  "You can't very well
go as my body guard if you don't understand our conversation."  Rood had
planned to accompany Scott to the agent's office to drop off the check.

"His strong passion of before must have burned away the magic," Robin
suggested, being careful to speak in his native tongue so Rood could
understand.  Robin was also bilingual and did not need the magic to
communicate in both worlds.  "I shall have to accompany you."

"Nothing doing," Scott argued.

"No, my lord," Rood protested at the same time.  "I cannot allow you to
jeopardize yourself because of me.  I am the captain of the guard, and
these men have proven themselves violent before."

"There is but one solution.  I shall go as your guard."  Caseldra, who had
been sitting quietly in the corner, finally spoke up.  Since the magic oil
was still working for her, she could understand both languages.

I don't think so," Scott said.  Caseldra's outward appearance, her
extremely pretty, petite figure, only five feet tall, and her long, thick,
jet black hair, gave her a school girl quality which belied her actual
nature.  She had trained herself as a warrior, and was quite a formidable
foe when angered.

"Either she or I shall accompany you.  Make your choice, my love," Robin
said.

Scott would much prefer Robin to be with him, but he knew Rood would never
allow it.  So he decided on his only real alternative.  "Okay, Caseldra.
Let's go.  But just remember; let's try to avoid trouble if we can."  He
worried about her quick temper.

"That is always my intention, lord," she smiled.

* * *

Stan had been sitting in the park for about three hours and was beginning
to grow impatient.  He finally pulled his cell phone out of his back pack
and called his partner.  "George," he said when they had made contact, "the
subject is still in the garage."

"You sure?" the thin voice came back in his ear.

"No other way out.  Only two doors and one window, and I got 'em both under
surveillance.  I think I ought to take a closer look."

"Roger," George replied.  "Proceed with caution."

"Right.  I'll call you back later."  He closed the phone and dropped it in
his bag.  He then got up from the bench where he had been waiting and
looked around before crossing the street.  Stan pushed the iron gate open
and walked directly back to the carriage house.  He made a bee line for the
side window, but stopped at the rose bush.  Unlike the man he was tailing,
Stan was dressed for summer in tight jogging shorts and a loose tank top.
He wasn't sure if he could get between the bush and the open window without
those wicked looking thorns ripping into his bare legs.  But then again, he
knew his job wasn't going to be easy.  Taking a deep breath, he squeezed in
against the building and vaulted up and through the window.

As Stan rolled onto the floor inside, he cursed and rubbed the flesh on his
calves and thighs.  The rose bush had raked long, red stripes on his
smooth, brown skin, causing a sharp stinging sensation.  Ignoring the pain,
he got quickly to his feet and looked around.  The room was empty; no sight
of his subject.  "What the..." he exclaimed as he suddenly noticed the
tunnel at the back of the structure.  That must have been how the man he
was following got out.  Then he realized the impossible nature of what he
was seeing.  The tunnel stretched out where there should have been a wall,
and an alley, and another back yard to another house.  Stan began to walk
down the unusual rock structure, just to check it out.

* * *

"We want to see Bernie," Scott told the lady at the reception desk.

"Do you have an appointment?" she asked.  It was the classic receptionist
dodge.

"Just tell him I have something for him from one of his clients."

"You can leave it with me and I'll see he gets it," the girl replied.

"I want to see him personally," Scott insisted.

"Not without an appointment."

"Then I'll make an appointment."

The girl picked up an emery board and began working on her unnaturally long
fingernails.  "The appointment secretary will be back next week.  You might
call then," she said with a distinct lack of concern.

Before Scott could say anything else, Caseldra reached over the desk and
grabbed the girl by the front of her loose blouse.  "Where is Bernie?" the
fairy girl said as she stared deeply into the frightened woman's eyes.

"In the center office directly behind me," the girl responded.

Caseldra released her and headed around the desk.  "This way, my lord," she
said to Scott who followed her.

"You can't go in there," the receptionist shrieked as Scott opened the door
and charged in.  The girl picked up the phone and punched in the number for
security.

Inside the office, Bernie sat at a cluttered desk, his feet resting on a
pile of paperwork and a big, smelly cigar protruding from his mouth.  He
was leaning back in a tall, executive chair while talking on the phone.
"I'll have to call you back, babe," he said into the phone and dropped it
into its cradle as he sat up in the chair.  "Who the hell are you?" he
growled around the cigar.

Scott pulled the check out of his pocket and dropped it on top of the
clutter in front of the smelly, little man.  "This pays in full the amount
owed to you by Alex Madison," he said.

Bernie picked up the check and carefully examined it.  "So Al found a sugar
daddy," he grumbled, the cigar moving and punctuating his speech.  That's
good 'cause he ain't gonna work in films anymore.  I'll have him
blacklisted in the industry."

"Being blacklisted from the kind of work you've been providing for him
probably isn't that big of a deal," Scott replied.

"Big talk, money man," Bernie answered.  "Hope you enjoy his ass while you
can.  Guys like him never stick around long.  Once he's bled you of every
dime he can get, he'll be back here to me."

"I think we've concluded our business," Scott said as he and Caseldra
turned to leave.

"Wait a minute," Bernie called.  "This pays the principal, but there's
still a matter of interest on his loan."

Scott turned back in surprise.  "I think your men collected the interest
yesterday from Alex.  Or do you want us to contact the police concerning a
little matter of extortion."

"Hey, you go me wrong, pal.  I don't know what you're talking about."  Just
then the door opened and two big, burly looking men entered.  They were
obviously responding to the receptionist's call.  "These two were just
leaving," Bernie said.  "See they go out the back way with the rest of the
trash."  The two men came forward, each one grabbing at an intended victim.
Caseldra ducked and jabbed up firmly with her fist, aiming for her
opponent's Adam's apple.  He made a squeaky little noise and dropped to his
knees, clutching his throat.  Meanwhile, Scott dodged under the big arms of
his assailant and stomped down hard on the back of the man's leg, causing
him to fall to the floor.  Scott and Caseldra then opened the door and
calmly stepped out of the office.

* * *

"I think it is time for us to return to our own land," Robin said to the
group, much to Scott's relief.  "Rood can no longer communicate here, and
we have seen how deceitful these humans can be.  This land may hold
wonders, and I am grateful that I was given the opportunity to see them.
In all my years of exile to this world I have not experienced half the joy
that was shown to us these last few days.  But in my heart I know it is
time to return home."

Caseldra was disappointed.  She would never tire of adventure, and truly
living in such a strange world was constant adventure.  But she knew that
her king was right.  "As you wish, lord," she said, averting her eyes.  She
then perked up.  "It is time we began our lessons in earnest."  Jennifer
had promised to learn the Tuathan language upon their return, and this
challenge promised to be a new adventure for Caseldra.

Robin indicated that the group should form a circle, holding hands.  Rood
and Caseldra also picked up what luggage they could hold.  Most of the
human clothing could easily be left behind.  There would be no need of it
in their homeland.  Robin then reached for his homing crystal and tapped it
firmly.  The entire party faded to nothingness in the center of the room.
As the magic of the homing crystal vibrated to the king's spirit, it pulled
the entire group with him.  In a few second's time, they found themselves
standing in the central hall of the white tower at the Palace of Esbereth,
the seat of government and the heart of the land of Tuatha.

* * *

It was night as Dave stumbled out of the cave opening.  It took a little
time for him to realize the difference.  At first the darkness fooled him
into thinking he was still in the tunnel, but then he realized that instead
he stood in a deep, high-walled canyon.  He could see the stars glistening
in the blackness far above, and could only tell where the ravine walls
ended because of the absence of stars.  Dave took a few tentative steps in
the dark, but was afraid of falling or running into something.  He decided
he should probably go back and find a flashlight before exploring this new
world.  Then he began thinking of other equipment he could use.  After all,
this was an unprecedented experience.

He turned around and stumbled back the way he had come, but ran up against
a rock wall.  At first a mild panic set in.  What if the tunnel was gone?
But then he realized he had probably just moved away from the opening in
the dark.  If he felt around along the wall he would quickly find it.  He
began to do just that.  Only a few steps to the right, and his arm reached
into the cave opening.  Dave was about to step in when he was struck
sharply on the back of the head.  The darkness exploded with stars before
his mind descended to an even blacker pit of unconsciousness.

"What should we do now, lord?" the young guard asked his partner.  They had
drawn the task of keeping an eye on the gate between the worlds just in
case anything would happen.  And now something did indeed happen.  An
unauthorized stranger had come through from the other world.  Fortunately,
the human appeared to be alone and unarmed.  His poor hearing and eyesight
had allowed the guards to easily sneak up behind him and knock him out.

"We should take him to the king," Faylar suggested.  "He and the consort
will know if this human should be in our world."

"But we cannot leave the gate unattended," Alee replied.  "If this be a
scout, it could be a prelude to invasion."

"Sound thought," Faylar agreed with his comrade.  "Bind him and then take
him to the palace.  I shall stand here as guard."

"If this be an invasion you cannot stay here alone," Alee argued.  "You
would be ill prepared to fight an army."

"Someone must stay," Faylar responded.  "Go quickly.  I shall follow after
if any other news warrants.  When you arrive at the palace, first send
assistance back here.  Next, take the prisoner before the king."

"I do your bidding, lord," Alee said.  He reached out to grasp his
partner's wrist.  "Good fortune."

"And you," Faylar replied.  They quickly tied the unconscious man and
tossed his limp body over the back of a nearby horse.  Alee sprang lightly
up behind the body and headed off into the darkness at as rapid a pace as
the almost blind horse would accept.

Stan heard the entire exchange, but didn't comprehend a word that had been
said.  The two men in the dark spoke an unusual sounding foreign language.
In a few moments the sound of a horse could be heard rapidly trotting away
over a stone canyon.  It sounded like only one horse, so Stan was unsure if
anyone was still left behind or not.  No further sound came to him.  After
what seemed hours, but was actually only a few minutes by the luminous dial
on his watch, he heard the sound of footsteps nearby.  He crouched even
further into the dark shadows and held his breath.  The steps passed by him
and continued on.  In a moment he heard them returning in his direction.
This time he thought he could make out a shadowy silhouette in the dark.

Stan slowly stuck out his foot across the path, and just at the right
moment, raised his leg, tripping the figure.  The man fell heavily forward,
reaching out to catch himself.  Before he could recover, Stan was upon him,
wrestling with all his strength.  His opponent was tall, thin and extremely
strong, but Stan had the element of surprise, not to mention years of
training in hand to hand combat.  The guard finally managed to draw a
dagger but could only nick Stan's arm before he dropped it again in the
struggle.  As the human fought, he rolled over; his open wound rubbing
across his opponent's bare skin.  The fairy guard let out a sharp cry of
pain, and for a moment, relaxed his grip.  It was just the opening the
human needed to grab a rock and strike him on the side of the head.  The
body went limp, and Stan managed to crawl to his feet.

The scene was now becoming visible in the gloom as morning approached.
Stan looked down at the body of his opponent.  The man had very pale skin
and was dressed in a loose fitting tunic which was ripped and torn in the
combat.  There was a dark burn mark on his left bicep and a gash above his
right temple was oozing blood.  Stan looked closely at the wound on the
side of his head.  The blood appeared odd in the darkness, looking like
thick, dark ink running down the pale man's face.  Stan bent over to pick
up the dagger from where it had fallen in the dirt and looked carefully
around.  No one else was visible.  He had no idea where he really was, or
where the man he was following had gone.  It should only be six in the
evening, but he could tell from the growing light that it was actually
early morning.  Stan picked up his back pack and reached in to remove his
cell phone.  He flipped it open and called his partner, but all he got was
a no service signal.  With a shrug, Stan shoved the phone back in his bag
and started walking down the canyon, looking for signs of the missing
scientist.

* * *

The warm sun brought new life back to Faylar.  His head pounded and
throbbed and his arm ached, but at least he lived.  He opened his eyes to
stare directly up into the noonday sun beating down on him.  Faylar tried
to sit up, but was quickly overcome by a swift spell of dizziness and
nausea.  He managed to roll onto his side and vomited.  As his body slowly
recovered, he pulled himself into a sitting position and looked around.
Everything seemed the same as before.  But there was no evidence of his
friend, the requested assistance, or the person who had attacked him.  He
tried to stand, but again he had to double over to wretch in the dust.  His
empty stomach could produce nothing, but his body continued to convulse,
trying to eliminate what it did not hold.

The young elf tried to bring himself under control, then slowly pulled
himself up and began to stagger down the ravine.  He reached the spot where
he and Alee had camped, and saw that his horse was missing, so he stumbled
on making the journey on foot.  The ground as well as the rock walls swam
before him, undulating as if made of water.  In a short while Faylar
reached the path which led up out of the ravine, back toward the castle
located high above him in the Crystal Mountains.  He began to climb the
sinuous trail.  His progress become slower and slower as he felt his
strength draining from him.  He was finally crawling on his hands and
knees, trying to force himself to keep going, inch by inch up the trail.
At last, he could go no further and relaxed back into the black oblivion
that had been trying to swallow him.

* * *

Melcot and his spouse, Rowana had been in charge of the palace guard while
Rood was away.  Their captain had only just returned the previous night,
and was still catching up on the goings on in the palace when Melcot
realized that Faylar and Alee had not returned from their sentry duty at
the gateway between worlds.  This struck him as rather odd since their
relief had ridden out at daybreak.  "Let us not trouble our captain,"
Rowana told her husband.  "We can travel to find out missing boys.  They
are still very young and have doubtless stopped to pursue some folly on the
route."  Rowana pushed back her thick, red hair and gazed up at her tall
husband.  He was six feet, two inches tall, standing nearly a foot taller
than his pretty mate.  She was by race a member of the merchant guild,
elves who were generally much shorter than the high born.  Melcot's
lineage, on the other hand, was a mixture.  His height and his intensely
blue eyes showed his high born heritage, but his yellow blond hair and
darker, golden skin tones showed evidence of Western blood.  Agreeing with
his spouse, Melcot and Rowana quickly mounted a couple of swift horses and
headed off toward the drawbridge.  Once outside the castle, they crossed
the Canyon of Light and threaded their way through the rocky maze beyond.
Finally coming out of the bluffs that shielded the approach to Esbereth,
the riders turned west and headed along the trail until they found two
natural pillars of stone.  Melcot pulled his horse to a stop and leaped
down.

"What is it, my lord?" Rowana asked curiously as she came forward.  Then
she too saw it, a huge, dark blue stain on the earth beside the right
pillar.  "Blood!" she breathed.

"And a lot of it," Melcot said as he examined the area.  "I sense death,
but I see no sign of struggle."

"What of our guards?" she asked in sudden concern.

"You had best return to Esbereth for help," he instructed her.  "I shall
ride on."

"No, my lord," she argued.  "We ride on, or we return together."

"Lady, this is not the time for heroics," Melcot growled.

"Forget you I am a full member of the palace guard?" the girl shot back,
her eyes sparkling.  "You waste precious time, lord."

Melcot knew better than to argue further.  Rowana was an immovable object
when angered.  Instead, he leaped onto his mount and they both proceeded
down the steeply inclined trail at a gallop.  In a few moments they arrived
at the newly replaced bridge which spanned the deep ravine to reach the
remainder of the trail that led to the bottom.  Dismounting, they led their
horses across the narrow structure, then remounted and hurried on.

Down the trail, halfway to the canyon floor they came upon a body sprawled
in the dust.  "It is Faylar," Rowana called as she jumped down to examine
him.  "He lives still, but he is not well.  I fear death approaches."

Melcot jumped down and helped her lift the injured man to her mount.
Faylar managed to rouse himself enough to sit on the horse and cling to its
neck.  "Now return swiftly to Esbereth," Melcot ordered.

"But, lord..." Rowana began to protest.

"His life is at stake.  Go!"

Reluctantly, Rowana remounted to sit behind the injured man.  She turned
her horse and headed up the trail at break neck speed.  Melcot turned his
own steed to head down toward the gateway.  He wanted to see who or what
was responsible.

 

 

 

 

 

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