The Power of the Dark Lord

                                                                                 By Bert McKenzie 

                                                                                  Copyright 2010

 

 


Chapter VI

"Stand guard with the sentries on the battlements," Robin told one of his
men as they crossed the drawbridge.  "At sunset close the gate and raise
the bridge."

"If the others have not yet returned, lord?" the man asked.

"Let us hope they shall by that time.  Regardless, my orders stand.  Rood,"
he said, turning to the captain of the guard.  "I go to refresh and change.
Summon the high council.  I will meet with them in their chambers within
the hour."

"I do your bidding," Rood replied and quickly remounted his horse to head
for the council hall.  Robin dismissed the other guards, telling them to be
prepared for a briefing in two hours.  He then headed for his chambers in
the white tower.

"What's going on?" Scott asked as Robin came into their chambers.  "The
whole castle is buzzing with rumors about an invasion.  Where were you?"
Scott had taken Alex and Jennifer for a picnic in the high plains located
in the mountain pass behind the castle while Robin and their other
companions dealt with the matters of court.  When they had returned they
found that their friends had all ridden off to a battle somewhere.

"Know you of trolls?" Robin asked his lover.

"Trolls?  Like the fai..."  He had almost said fairy tale creatures before
he remembered he was living in a fairy tale existence.  "What are they?"
Scott responded.

"Evil creatures that live underground and shun the light of day.  They are
dangerous and vicious predators who eat the flesh of any living animals,
but most love to devour men," Robin explained.  "They dwell in mountains
and rocky terrain, but have never come near Esbereth.  Legend has it that
they fear the Crystal Mountains."

"And..." Scott prompted.

"And they have attacked and killed two, possibly three of the guard on the
pass down to the gateway between worlds."

"No," Scott said.

"But there is more," Robin continued.  "This is all that is known by the
palace.  What they know not is that a human, possibly more than one, has
entered our world.  They probably came through the gateway and at least one
was most likely injured in a struggle with Faylar."

"Who is he?  Where is he now?" Scott asked, wondering who could have broken
into the carriage house and found his way to Tuatha.

"We know not," Robin answered as he stripped off his clothes and headed for
the bathing pool in the next room.  "Faylar is badly injured and may not
recover.  He is in the halls of healing.  There was no evidence of the
people who attacked him, other than a blood burn on his arm.  They may also
have been caught and killed by the trolls."  Scott knew about the blood
burn.  He remembered the time he had cut his hand and some of his blood had
gotten on Robin's skin causing a bright blue rash.  It was an allergic
reaction to the iron in Scott's blood.  Robin, having lived for many years
in the human world had built up a moderate immunity to it, but others might
have much more severe reactions.

"What can we do?" Scott asked as Robin slowly slipped into the icy cold,
mountain spring water.

"There is little we can do now except battle the trolls," Robin said as he
splashed the water on his face and scrubbed behind his ears.  "I have sent
Akuta with Rowana and Melcot to close the gate so no other can so enter our
world."

Scott handed his lover a towel, then went to find a fresh tunic for him,
when a loud knock came at the door.  Before he could respond, Alex came
bursting in.  "Scott," he said.  "Akuta's gone."

"He is only closing the gateway between worlds," Robin said as he emerged
from the bath, still toweling his damp hair.

Alex took a moment to glance appreciatively at the king's magnificent
physique before Robin slipped on the tunic Scott handed to him.  "Melcot
and Rowana just met me downstairs and said that he went back through the
tunnel to close the gate.  He had one of those magic rocks with him so he
should have been back here by now."

"Melcot and Rowana have returned but not Akuta?"  Robin asked.  "Well, time
can be very different between our worlds.  I am sure he will be here soon.
Just be patient," the king said as reassuringly as possible.  "I must go to
the council meeting.  I shall be with you later, love."  Robin kissed Scott
quickly then left the room.

"What's all this stuff about time?" Alex asked.

"I think we may have a problem," Scott said.  "See if you can find
Jennifer.  She ought to know where Caseldra is."

"Why?"

"Because I think we have to return home and check things out."  Scott had a
very bad feeling about the fact that Robin admitted someone had entered
through the gate, and now Akuta did not return.

* * *

The two unusual companions splashed down the steam as quickly as possible.
Every now and then Alee would stop to listen, then urge his partner to move
faster.  Stan kept thinking of how ironic the situation seemed, his being
hunted as he tried to escape by traveling downstream in the darkness.  He
wondered how many of his ancestors had done much the same thing a few
centuries before during the times of the slave trade.  Some of them may
have had help from white men as well, but he bet none of their helpers was
ever as strange as the man he now followed.

As the night wore on, Stan grew more and more exhausted.  He was suffering
from something akin to jet lag.  He had spent a whole day in his world,
then came here only to spend another day with no night to separate them.
All he really wanted was to sleep, but his companion kept urging them on.
Finally, he could take no more.  "Sorry, pal," he said.  "I don't care if
those crowgongs eat my face off or not.  I gotta rest."

"Grohkongk!" Alee said and nodded, pulling on Stan's arm.

"Rest!" Stan said emphatically.

"Rest?" Alee repeated.  Stan nodded and sat in the waist deep water.  "Klay
'rest," Alee replied.  "Grohkongk sel mar kor feer."  He again pulled at
Stan, trying to urge him on.  As he did so he stepped back and lost his
footing, sliding down into a deep, natural pool formed by a small dam of
dead vegetation.  The fairy came up sputtering and looked so funny that
Stan had to chuckle.  This brought a smile to Alee's face as well when he
realized how funny he must have appeared.

He suddenly froze and cocked his head again.  This time Stan could hear it
too.  From the distance upstream a sound reached his ears, like a herd of
pigs grunting and squealing.  Alee looked at him and sadly shook his head.
"Hey, wait a minute!" Stan said softly as he spied some reeds growing out
of the pool where Alee had fallen.  "I saw this trick in an old James Bond
movie."  He reached into his bag and pulled out the dagger he had taken
from Faylar.  Quickly slicing off a couple of the tall, hollow tubes, he
handed on to Alee and put the other in his mouth, sucking though it.
Removing it, he said, "Now use this to breathe through and stay under water
till they're gone."  Alee looked confused.  Stan shrugged his shoulders,
stuck the thin tube back in his mouth again and sank down into the pool,
disappearing from sight.  Alee suddenly realized what his plan was and
followed suit.

In a matter of minutes the trolls were swiftly scurrying down the banks of
the stream.  They paused every now and again to check for a scent of their
quarry, then rapidly moved on.  There were at least five or six of the
creatures on each side of the water, checking both banks.

After a few minutes passed, Alee slowly surfaced and looked around.  He
reached down and pulled Stan up.  "They have passed," he said and pointed
down stream.

"Great," Stan said as he blinked water out of his eyes.  "Now what do I do?
Monsters downstream, monsters upstream and I'm up to my ass in icy water
with a pointy eared white dude who doesn't speak English."

"Where did you get that dagger?" Alee asked, suddenly noticing the weapon
that Stan was still holding.  "That belongs to Faylar!"

"Hunh?" Stan replied, then noticed what had caught his companion's
attention.  "Oh shit.  Now you probably think I offed your buddy and stole
his knife.  And you're probably right."

* * *

"This is a bad idea," Franzhe said as the two backtracked across the
prairie.

"I know it is, but I cannot help the way I feel," Calvar responded.

"Well, on the positive side, he may be dead already," the first elf said as
they crested the hill.

Night had fallen and with it the scavenger birds had departed.  They would
return in the morning to resume their not so patient wait.  Dave was
dehydrated and exhausted and had again fallen into a fitful sleep.  He
didn't hear the two figures creep up on him in the darkness.  "Are you
certain of this test?" Calvar asked his friend as he fished about in his
pouch for the needle he carried for garment repairs.

"I have always heard that the demon lives as a shadow in our world and you
cannot hurt a shadow," Franzhe replied in a wind whisper, directing the
sound of his voice so that only his friend could hear him.  "If he feels
not the needle, he is a demon, but if he feels it, he may be from the
land."

"Here it is," Calvar said as he passed the thin sliver of gold metal to his
companion.

Franzhe took the needle and quietly crept up behind the sleeping scientist.
Reaching out and taking careful aim at the man's buttocks, he pushed
forward, jabbing the metal in deeply through the covering material of
Dave's pants.

"Ouch!" the human yelled and jumped as if stung by a bee.  "What the hell?"
He rolled over to see two shadow shapes barely illuminated by the faint
starlight.

"You see," Calvar said triumphantly.  "He is of the land."

"No, he is not," Franzhe corrected him.  "Look at your needle."  On the end
of the metal was a drop of blood, glistening in the darkness.  Human eyes
could never have seen the color in the night, but the sharp eyes of the
fair folk could easily see by the bright starlight.  "Red blood."

"You mean this is a human?" Calvar said in amazement.

"See for yourself."

"Who are you?  What's going on?" Dave asked.  The two elves still conversed
in wind whispers, so for all the man could tell, the two shadowy figures
were standing hearby in perfect silence.

"Let us take him with us," Calvar suggested.

"What would we do with a human?" Franzhe asked as he spoke aloud.

"Are you the kids who were here this afternoon?" Dave asked as he
recognized the cadence of the strange language.  Dave then tried several
other languages he knew, even using a few phrases he could remember of the
aboriginal and African dialects.  But non of this seemed to make an
impression on the two boys.

"He does make funny sounds," Franzhe admitted.

"I think he is trying to talk to us," Calvar suggested.

"I am not sure they can talk.  Maybe this is like the mewling of a cat or
the cry of a bird, not really language."

Calvar pulled out his dagger.  "What are you going to do?" Dave asked as he
saw the metal gleam in the darkness.

"See how he fears your blade," Franzhe observed.  "That is good.  After
all, he is much bigger than we are...and probably much dumber."

Calvar reached down and sliced through the ropes that held the scientist's
feet and legs.  "Come, human," he called as they started to walk away.
Dave tried to get up, but he was weak and his feet wouldn't cooperate.
"Look.  He has trouble moving.  Help me, lord."  Franzhe reluctantly helped
his partner assist in getting the human up and walking.  "Now, come,
human."  The three stumbled off through the night.

* * *

"See you anything?" Caseldra asked as she looked out from the battlements
over the main gate.

"No, my lady.  It appears quiet as ever.  But we did hear some odd sound
earlier."

"What kind of sounds?" She asked as she looked at the sentry.

"Kind of a grunting noise, like hungry swine" he replied.

"That is the call of the trolls.  They are out there, somewhere."  A shiver
went up her spine.

"Caseldra, are you up here?"  It was Jennifer calling as she stumbled up
the dark stairway to the battlements.

"Lady, what brings you here?  You should be in human sleep at this time,"
the little fairy girl replied as she rushed to assist her lover, lest the
human injure herself in the darkness.

"I've got to talk with you...in private."

The two women walked along the dimly lit battlements.  "What is it?" the
fairy asked.

"Scott says he and Alex have to return to our world.  They want to know if
you can ask your father to help them," Jennifer explained.

"Return to the human world?  Why?"

"Akuta never returned.  He went through the gate to remove that rope that
anchors it, then was supposed to use his homing crystal.  But he's still
missing.  And Scott said Robin knew that someone came from our world to
here, but no one knows who or where he or she is."

"This sounds bad," Caseldra agreed.  "If your world sent someone here, then
someone may have been waiting there when Akuta crossed over."

"He may be in trouble," Jennifer said anxiously.

"But why did Scott not go to Robin with this?"

Jennifer thought of that herself.  She explained it the way he had told
her.  "Robin needs to be here and not be distracted during this crisis.  If
he was worried about anyone going to the other world, he might not be able
to concentrate on the problem of the trolls."

"That makes sense.  I shall go talk with my father.  You go find Scott and
have him meet us in father's chambers."  Caseldra helped Jennifer back down
the dark stairs, and then quickly dashed off across the courtyard.

A few minutes later, Scott, Alex and Jennifer arrived at the chambers of
the Keeper of Magic.  They knocked on the door and Caseldra opened it to
admit them.  "So, what did you find out?" Jennifer asked.

"My father will help you," the girl promised.  She led them into her
father's laboratory.  The room was filled with shelves containing bottles
and vials of strange liquids and powders.  In the center of the room was a
table containing an odd collection of beakers, some of which were bubbling
and foaming over onto the wooden surface.  One wall contained a huge hearth
with a burning fire heating the room despite the warm summer evening.
Elnar was sitting on a high stool pouring over a large book spread open at
the end of the table.  As Scott approached he saw that what Elnar was
actually on, was a low stool which also held several other fat volumes
which acted as a booster seat for the little man.

"My lord, can you assist us?" Scott asked, trying to catch the old man's
attention.

"I have just the charm for you," the wizard said as he hopped down from his
perch of books.  "You know, I'm becoming something of an expert at doorways
between worlds, thanks to you lot coming and going.  I had just finished
this yesterday and was going to tell the king, but all this troll business
came up so suddenly.  Follow me."  He led the group out of the laboratory
and across a crowded and messy antechamber to his library.  The two story
room was primarily full of empty book shelves.  Most of the volumes that it
once contained were scattered elsewhere around the wizard's chambers.  As
Scott and his friends entered the room, Elnar indicated a large piece of
furniture at the far end.  It looked like a wooden armoire with intricate
carving on its exterior.

"Very nice.  What is it?" Scott asked.

The old man seemed somewhat disappointed that his latest marvel was greeted
with such unenthusiasm.  "It is a wardrobe."

"We can see it's a wardrobe," Alex said impatiently.  "You've taken up
furniture making.  So what's the big deal?"

"I constructed this magic door based on a description in one your human
books," Elnar said proudly.  "It will send you to your world and bring you
back again."

"So what do we do?" Alex asked.

Elnar reached out and opened the wooden door to the big cabinet.  "Just
step inside," he instructed.  Alex did so.  It was just a solid wooden box
on the inside, large enough for a person to easily stand in.  The wizard
closed the door for a few moments, and then opened it again.  The inside
was now empty.

"And that's it?  He's in the other world?" Scott asked.

"Yes," Elnar replied proudly.

"Caseldra, please tell Robin where we've gone, but only when he isn't
concerned with this troll invasion.  We'll return as soon as possible,"
Scott said.

"No, lord.  I must accompany you," she insisted.  The fairy girl then added
in a wind whisper, so that the wizard would not hear her, "I have a homing
crystal so that we may all return here, just in case my father's magic
works not."

Scott thought a moment, and remembered the many unusual turns the little
wizard's power often took.  "Alright," he said at last.  "Let's go."
Scott, Jennifer and Caseldra all squeezed into the small space and pulled
the door shut.

As darkness descended on Alex in the confines of the wardrobe, he reached
out for the back wall.  Instead his hand touched a door knob.  This
surprised him.  He knew this wasn't there before.  Alex turned and pushed,
and the old door creaked open on hinges that had not been used in a very
long time.  He stumbled out into a dusty, empty room.  There was old,
peeling paper on the walls, and tattered shades on the two, small windows
at one end.  Another closed door stood just opposite the one through which
he had just entered.  Alex turned around and beheld a small, empty closet
behind him.  This must be the other side of the wardrobe.  "Shades of
C.S. Lewis," he muttered, and carefully closed the door.  He then stepped
to one of the windows to look outside.

A thumping noise behind him startled Alex and he turned to see the creaky
old door open again.  Scott, Caseldra and Jennifer piled out.  "Well, it's
about time you guys came out of the closet," he remarked sarcastically.

"Very funny.  Where are we?" Jennifer asked.

"Don't you recognize your own house?" Alex asked.  The startled look on the
girl's face surprised him.  "See for yourself," he said as he pulled the
shade aside.  "There's the park and the river just across the street."

"This is one of the bedrooms on the third floor," Scott said as he looked
around.

"No wonder," Jennifer admitted with a sigh of relief.  "I shut off this
floor and never came up here."

"Look's like you need a maid, Jen," Alex jabbed.

Scott crossed the room to the opposite door.  "Come on.  Let's go find
Akuta.  After all, that's what we came here for."  The four friends headed
out into the hall and down the dusty stairs.

 

 

 

 

 

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