The Power of the Dark Lord

                                                                                 By Bert McKenzie 

                                                                                  Copyright 2010

 

 

Chapter VII

"What worries you so, lord?" Rood asked the king as they left the council
chambers to head for the battlements.  "We are safe within these walls, and
now that we know the menace we shall be extra vigilant after dark."

"We are safe for the time being, but these creatures can tunnel remarkably
well.  If they manage to cross the ravine they shall be within the castle
walls," Robin said.  "If they are this close to Esbereth, what is to stop
them?"

"But they cannot cross the ravine.  It marks the edge of the actual Crystal
Mountains.  And legend says that trolls cannot stand the Crystal..."

"I know what legend says," Robin snapped.  "Legend has been wrong before."

"Forgive me, lord," Rood said quietly.

Robin suddenly realized how his tone of voice sounded.  "No, forgive me, my
friend.  I meant not to sound short.  It is only my emotions and my worry
talking."  They walked on in silence.  Then Robin spoke again.  "I worry
for those who are not within the castle walls."

"Ellenia and Clive?" Rood asked sympathetically.

"They journey to the Great Wood to meet with Clive's mother.  They left
only yesterday morning before we knew of this trouble.  What if they are
attacked along the way?"

"They were far from here by darkness.  Worry not, lord.  The trolls would
not be able to catch up with them."

Robin smiled at his friend.  "I pray you are right.  But then we know not
whence these beasts came, nor how far into the Plains of Morinar the
infestation extends."

"But lord, trolls are high country, rock beasts.  They would not infest the
grasslands," Rood rationalized.

At this point their conversation was cut short.  They had climbed the
stairs to the battlements and now stood, looking out into the dark canyon
across the deep gorge.  "What news can you tell us?" Robin asked the nearby
sentry as he continued to scan the distance.

"Nothing, my lord.  Quite some time ago we heard their cries and calls, but
then there was a deep rumbling sound, like the boom of distant thunder.
Since then all has been still.  But never have we seen a thing."

"The sound of thunder?  What could this mean on a perfectly clear night?"
Rood asked, half to himself.  The gloom of night was beginning to dissipate
as a dim glow spread in the eastern sky.  Soon enough the guards would be
able to ride out and investigate the surrounding area.

"Let us gather merchant wagons," Robin instructed his friend.  "At first
light I want to ride out to the storage caves to the east and west.  We
must bring back as many supplies as possible to stock the castle.  There is
no telling how difficult it may be to replenish our resources if this
infestation grows worse."  Rood nodded and quickly headed down the stairs.
"And, my lord," Robin called after him.  "Send someone to awaken Scott and
Alex.  I wish to have them ride with us."

"But, lord.  Akuta is still missing," Rood said as he looked up the stairs
at the king.

"I know.  I wish to keep them occupied so they have no time to worry about
him until we are in a position to do something."  Rood nodded and hurried
off.  Robin took a last look at the dark canyon, rapidly growing clearer in
the early morning light as the stars gradually winked out.  He then turned
and headed down the stairs to meet with the knights who would escort the
supply wagons out to the storage caves.

 * * *

"Now let's just be cool, dude.  There's a reasonable explanation for this,"
Stan said.  He could see anger growing in Alee's eyes as the fairy demanded
to know what he was doing with the dagger.  Stan couldn't understand what
Alee actually said, but the meaning still seemed perfectly clear.  "Hell, I
wish you could understand me.  How am I going to explain any of this?" he
said.

Alee was weighing his options.  It seemed pretty obvious that something bad
had happened to his friend.  Faylar would never willingly have parted with
his dagger, nor given it to a stranger from a different land.  And Alee
noticed the cut on Stan's upper arm.  It was not deep or severe, and was
already scabbing over, but it was red.  It was fairly easy to deduct that
Stan had followed the other human through the gate after Alee had left, and
that Stan and Faylar had fought, Stan getting wounded in the arm, and also
somehow relieving Faylar of his weapon in the process.  The human looked
very strong; his big muscles evident under his dark skin, but Alee felt he
had no choice.  He had to fight.  For all he knew, this human may have
killed his best friend.

Stan carefully shifted the weapon in his right hand until he was holding it
by the blade, rather than the hilt.  He stood very still for a moment,
looking toward the angry fairy standing a few meters away in the waist deep
water.  The human then tensed his muscles and threw the knife with expert
aim.  Alee saw the muscles tense, telegraphing Stan's intention but a
fraction of a second before the throw.  The fairy tried to dodge the blade,
but knew already that movement was too late to make any difference.  He
tried anyway, and was surprised and relieved as Faylar's dagger went
sailing past over his left shoulder.  The human must have miscalculated the
weight of the strange blade.

A shriek sounded loudly behind him, followed by a splash.  Alee whirled
around to see the body of a dead troll floating on its back in the pool,
Faylar's dagger protruding from its chest.  Alee glanced back at Stan, who
now seemed to relax.  The fairy quickly reached over and tugged the weapon
from the troll's body and rinsed the black blood off in the water.  He then
turned and extended his arm reaching for Stan.  The black man stood still,
not knowing what to do or expect.  Alee took his wrist, gripping his
forearm firmly in the clasp of loyalty.  "My life is my debt to you, dark
lord," he said and bowed his head.

"Whatever you say, man," Stan mumbled.  "But I don't think we ought to hang
around here."

Alee looked up and turned to the east.  The sky was beginning to brighten
with the coming dawn.  "They will need to seek their caves soon," he said.
"Let us go."  He pulled on Stan's arm and the two of them waded to shore
and climbed the steep bank on the east side of the pool.  "Follow me," Alee
said and broke into a swift trot at a ninety degree angle from the stream's
course.  Stan followed him, trying his best to keep up.

In a short time, Stan began to fall further and further behind.  His
exhaustion was telling on his body, and even so, in the best of conditions
he was not sure if he could match the endurance of the man he was
following.  He finally tripped over a small rock and went sprawling on his
face in the grass.  As he stretched out in the soft grass, gasping for
breath, he knew he could go no further without rest.  Something was tugging
at his arm; he rolled over to look up into Alee's face.  "Go on, man.  I
gotta rest.  You go on and leave me here."

Alee looked off to the west, evidently wondering if they were being
followed, then again looked down at Stan.  "Go on, dude," Stan said briskly
and pushed Alee away.  "Get out of here."  Alee again looked to the west,
and then sat in the tall grass a short distance from Stan.  "Well, it's
your neck," the human mumbled and threw his arm over his face to shield his
eyes from the morning sun that was just beginning to crawl up off the
horizon.  As he drifted off to sleep, his last thoughts were of his strange
companion.  Alee, likewise, thought about the black human as he sat
vigilantly, keeping guard over the sleeping form.

* * *

The men were mounted and ready to ride out as the gate was being raised and
the drawbridge lowered.  Robin waited impatiently at the head of the column
of men.  He could not understand what was taking Rood so long, and where
were Alex and Scott.  "My lord," a voice hailed him.  Turning, he saw his
captain of the guard galloping quickly up.  Rood reined to a halt beside
the king.  "They have gone."

Robin was instantly alert and concerned.  "Who has gone?" he snapped.
"Where are Alex and Scott?"

"They, as well as the ladies Jennifer and Caseldra have gone to the world
of humans," Rood answered.

"How is this possible?" Robin asked.

"They have had help from Elnar."

"We have no time for this now," Robin said, the thinly veiled anger in his
voice becoming evident.  He indicated movement with his hand, and the
entire company began to file through the gate.  The men led their horses
across the wooden drawbridge and on through the Corridor of Light.  The
supply wagons followed close behind.

As Robin and Rood followed along, bringing up the rear, they saw a runner
heading back toward them from the front of the company.  They were still on
foot, traversing the Corridor of Light when he caught up to them.  "Lord,
the way is blocked," the man said.  Robin and Rood exchanged glances then
broke into a run, pulling their mounts along behind them.  As soon as they
turned out of the brightly lit canyon, the two fairies leaped to the backs
of their horses, yanked the blindfolds from the horses? eyes, and galloped
off down the ranks.  In a matter of seconds they reached the impasse.
Halfway down the winding course of the maze-like canyon leading from the
castle, they were faced with a dead end.  A wall of stone completely
blocked off further progress through the canyon and effectively laid siege
to the palace.

The army of knights sat on their mounts and looked perplexedly at the rock
wall.  "How can this be?" Rood asked in astonishment.

"The trolls must have caused several rock slides and then worked through
the night to block our only exit," Robin said.

"But lord, trolls are not that intelligent.  This shows evil cunning,
something they lack."

"No matter," Robin answered.  "We must clear the passage or else the palace
will be cut off from needed supplies."  He then quickly began assigning
knights onto work details while sending Rood back to the palace for more
assistance.  Robin then leaped down from his horse and began lifting and
moving rock alongside his men.

* * *

"I understand that you have another one of the aliens," the voice said on
the other end of the line.  For some unknown reason, it made Dr. Sorenson
squirm in his seat.

"Well, yes," he replied.  He wasn't really very surprised that the general
knew about this.  After all, it was pretty obvious from the military
security clearance the man who brought the alien in had presented, that he
must work for the Pentagon in some obscure fashion.

"Have you taken samples and completed tests on this specimen?" Armond
asked.

"Some tests, yes," Emile answered evasively.

"And the results?"

"So far, exactly the same as before."

"Have you taken film and x-rays?? The general persisted.

"Yes with the same results of over exposed film," Sorenson said.

"You said some tests," Armond responded.

"We've done everything we can short of an autopsy."

"Then do an autopsy," came the next order.

"But the subject is still alive," Sorenson protested.

"Dr. Sorenson," General Armond explained patiently.  "Your institute is
primarily a government vehicle being almost totally funded through my
office.  This 'subject,' as you put it was apprehended by military security
personnel.  Since this subject is obviously not human, then it becomes
property of the United States government.  If you do not wish to carry out
my suggestions then I will have our property transferred to an
establishment where my orders will be followed and our funds will be more
effectively utilized.  Do I make myself clear?"

Emile swallowed hard before forcing himself to answer.  "Perfectly."  After
a few more short exchanges of non-important conversation he was able to
hang up the phone.  He then stood and grabbed a lab coat before heading for
the isolation section.

The military guards were standing on either side of the red doors of
isolation.  Even though they knew Sorenson quite well by now, they still
checked his ID.  Once inside the red doors he had to submit to a retina
scan device before being allowed into an outer room.  Once inside and the
door behind him securely locked, the inner door was opened and he was able
to enter the large, isolation room where the alien was being kept.

Inside the room appeared empty.  It was large, but contained very little, a
cot, a table, a couple of chairs and bathroom facilities, and two
conspicuously placed close-circuit video cameras mounted close to the
ceiling.  The walls, floor and ceiling were all made of smooth, stainless
steel.  Sorenson looked around carefully, but saw no occupant in the room
other than himself.  "I know you're in here," he said loudly apparently
addressing the empty air.  "The heat sensors can identify two bodies in
this room.  You might as well show yourself.  He looked around again at the
empty room.  Sighing to himself, the stocky little scientist walked over to
one of the empty chairs and turned to sit.  As he did so, he jumped in
surprise.  There, sitting on the cot behind him was the alien.  "Jeez, you
scared me," Sorenson said as he sat down.

The pale skinned stranger sat stoically on the cot, dressed in only a
hospital gown.  He carefully watched the scientist's every move.  Sorenson
finally broke the silence.  "We have to talk."  The alien continued to look
on, not saying a work or emitting a sound.  "I know you can speak.  You're
the same one who was here before.  I recognize you.  You came to rescue
your friend, and you killed my boss.  I was there.  I saw."  The alien sat,
unmoving.  "Say something!" Sorenson shouted.  The alien only shook his
head slowly.

The little scientist got up and came over to the cot to sit beside the
blond man.  "You've got to talk to me," the scientist said as he reached
out and gripped the stranger by the shoulder.  They made direct eye
contact, and suddenly it was as if Sorenson was falling into the twin pools
of aquamarine.

"I understand not your language."  The message was there, clearly burning
into Sorenson's brain, although no actual words had been spoken.

"But you must," the scientist half said, half thought.  "You did before."

"I came unexpectedly this time.  I had not the ability to prepare myself."

Sorenson did not know how this communication was happening.  It appeared to
be a form of mental telepathy.  "I don't want to hurt you."  Sorenson
formed the words in his mind while gazing into the blue waters of the
alien's eyes.  "But a man who controls me is demanding that I kill you."

"No one can control you, but yourself," the answer came back.  "You must
only listen to your own inner voice and act accordingly."

"But I will lose my job and be unable to find another.  My family depends
on me."  Tears were beginning to pool in the pudgy little scientist's eyes.

"You must act in the manner called for from within," came the unspoken
reply.  The alien then broke the mental contact by looking away.

"Please," Emile said and tried to catch the stranger's eye.  "Please look
at me."  But the alien resolutely kept his vision downcast.  The scientist
fished in his pocket to pull out a handkerchief and blew his nose.  He then
looked back, but once again the room appeared empty.  The alien had somehow
again managed to disappear from view.  The doctor got up and walked to the
door.  He had to wait a few minutes before it would open.  Apparently, the
heat sensors indicated that the alien was too close to risk it.  But soon
the unseen presence must have moved away because the door opened and the
scientist slipped out.  Once the door closed and locked behind him, the
outer door to the security lock opened.  He headed out of the isolation
section and down the hall toward his office, his resolve firm.  He was
going to call the general and refuse to kill this man.  It was a man, not a
piece of property, and he wouldn't be a part of this insane plan.

"Dr. Sorenson," a girl hailed him from behind.  A perky brunette who had
worked as his assistant and lab technician on several projects rapidly
hurried up.

"What is it, Sharon?" he asked.

"Do you know a Dr. Westfall?" she questioned.

"No, why?"

"He just arrived and is waiting for you in your office," she told him.  "He
has top level clearance and said he was sent by a General Armond to observe
the autopsy of the specimen in isolation."  Sorenson's stomach turned over
at this.  "Doctor, he's already ordered the staff to prepare the surgical
theater and to euthanize the man in isolation," Sharon said, her voice
betraying the agitation she obviously felt.  "What are we going to do?  We
can't kill him!"

"I don't know, Sharon," Sorenson replied.

"Doctor, he's not an experimental animal.  You know that," she persisted.

"I know, but my hands are tied.  What can I do?"

"You can let him go," she answered after a moment's hesitation.

"No..."

"Yes, you can.  These military people around here are turning this place
into a concentration camp.  We've got to preserve our human dignity."

The scientist seemed to come to a decision.  "Tell Westfall to meet me in
the surgical theater.  I'll be in shortly.  Tell him I'll bring the
specimen."

"But, Dr. Sorenson..." the girl began.

"Just do as I ask, then meet me in bio-chemistry."  Sorenson then headed
back toward the labs.

A few minutes later he was back in isolation with a small case in his
hands.  He went through the same routine with the guards and the optical
scan and was once again admitted into the stainless steel cell.  This time
the alien was sitting calmly on the cot.  Sorenson walked over and sat
beside him.  He looked into the stranger's eyes and tried to form the words
in his mind to explain what was about to happen.  Shortly thereafter Sharon
and an orderly came into isolation, wheeling a gurney.  They entered the
cell in time to see Sorenson administer an injection into the stranger's
arm.  As the doctor put away his syringe, the alien slowly sank onto the
bed in apparent unconsciousness.  The orderly and the girl quickly moved
the body onto the gurney and they headed out of the room, with Sorenson
following.

They stopped by the bio-chemistry lab so that Sorenson could drop off his
case and pick up a few instruments he wanted to take with him to the
surgical theater.  He asked the orderly to help him with some things on a
high shelf, since the little scientist was too short to reach the top.
Just as they were getting everything together they heard a shout from the
corridor.  "Doctor, help!"

Running back out of the lab, Sorenson and the orderly saw only Sharon and
the empty gurney in the hall.  "He was lying there, unconscious, just a
moment ago, and then he was gone.  He just disappeared," the girl said.

"Damn," the scientist muttered.  "Go alert security," he instructed the
orderly.  "You had better wait in my office," he said to the girl.  She
turned and headed down the hall as only a moment later, bells began to ring
a shrill alarm.

"Dr. Sorenson?  I'm Frank Westfall," the thin man in a lab coat and crew
cut introduced himself as Emile entered the surgical theater.  "What's
going on?  Why the alarms?"

"It appears that our specimen has escaped," Sorenson explained.  "We were
on our way here with the body, and it just disappeared."

"Disappeared?" the military doctor asked, his eyebrows arching skeptically.

"Yes.  I injected it with a lethal dosage, but then it's hard to predict
how drugs may affect the alien system.  One minute it was on the gurney,
and the next minute it was gone.  But don't worry.  The institute is sealed
off.  We'll find it."

"You had better, doctor," was all the man said.

 

 

 

 

 

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