The Power of the Dark Lord

                                                                                 By Bert McKenzie 

                                                                                  Copyright 2010

 

 


Chapter XII

"Speak not, nor make any sound," Alee wind whispered to Stan.  "I can hear
the calls of the creatures.  They are nearby outside the cave and searching
for food."  Stan drew a breath to whisper a response.  "Speak not," Alee
said as he placed his hand over his companion's mouth.  "They will hear
you.  They hear me not for I use the wind whisper, something your people
know not how to use."

The two men, one fairy and one human, sat in the dark cave for several
hours.  Stan finally dozed off around midnight.  Several hours had passed
when he was awakened.  "What?  What is it?" he whispered as quietly as
possible.

"You are growling," Alee said.

"What?" Stan asked, not understanding the word.  Alee tried mimic the
sounds he had heard.  "Snoring," Stan said with a laugh.  "I was snoring."
He listened to the quiet, and then asked a question.  "Did the trolls hear
me?"

"No," Alee said, "for if they heard we would not be alive to talk of it.
It is very quiet outside.  I think they must be gone."

"Great," Stan said in a blend of English and Tuathan.  "I have to take a
leak."

"What?"

"Piss," Stan said in English.  "I don't know your word for it..."  He
though a moment then used what Tuathan words he knew.  "Give water."  He
slowly stood.

"No," Alee said, trying to stop him.  "It may be dangerous."

"Danger or no danger," Stan said in his Tuathan-English blend.  "When you
gotta go, you gotta go."  As quietly as possible, he slipped out of the
cave with Alee following close behind.  The sky was beginning to show the
dull glow of pre-dawn as he took a couple of steps out into the canyon and
opened his fly to urinate.

"Oh, feshule," Alee said as he realized what the human was doing.  He moved
away discretely and waited.  Just as Stan was finishing up, a grunting cry
sounded and two of the black, furry creatures dropped from a rock ledge to
land on Alee's back.  The fairy fell to the ground under their combined
weight.  Stan ran forward to help.  Alee had managed to throw one of the
monsters away from him as he tried to struggle to his feet, and was now
grappling with the other, trying to hold the sharp, misshapen teeth away
from his throat.

"Hey!" Stan shouted, trying to draw the first beast's attention as it crept
back toward the fairy.  It lifted its head, the huge, bulging eyes focusing
on the black man.  The creature suddenly emitted an ear piercing shriek and
fell on its face, groveling in the dirt.  At the sound of the cry the
monster that was fighting with Alee suddenly sprang away from the fairy and
looked at Stan, then acted in the same way as its partner.

Stan picked up a rock and threw it at the first troll, hitting it in the
side.  The beast just collapsed in the dirt and whimpered along with the
other little monster.  "Go on, git!" he shouted and took a menacing step
toward them.  The two beasts screamed and jumped up to bolt down the little
gully.

"You okay?" Stan asked as he stepped over to Alee who was leaning against
the rock wall, trying to catch his breath.

"Okay," the fairy said in English and smiled at the human.

"Why they run?" Stan asked in Tuathan.

"I know not," Alee responded.  "They seemed to fear you, but I know not
why."

"Me too," the big, black man said, agreeing with whatever his companion had
just said.

As they stood in the shadows of the little canyon, the sun began to peek
over the horizon.  "We shall be safe for now," Alee said.  "Let us go eat.
I am hungry."

"Hungry?"  The human recognized the word.  "Me too, but no food."

"Yes," the fairy said.  "Inside."  He led the way back into the storage
cave where they had hidden.  As the light grew outside, Stan could make out
rows and rows of baskets, bundles and barrels stacked inside the cool
cavern.  The fairy examined them, looking at the strange markings on the
sides, and finally selected a small bundle.  "Here," he said as he cut into
it with Faylar's knife and tossed a portion to his companion.

Stan looked at the hard substance in his hand, and then sniffed it.  A
smile spread across his face.  "Cheese," he said.  "It isn't steak and
eggs, but right now it's about the best breakfast a man could ever have."

* * *

"Rood," the voice said, instantly grabbing his attention in the darkness.
"I would converse with thee."  Rood opened his eyes to see the green lights
he took to be the eyes of the creature not far from his face.  "Thou fought
beside thy leader."

Rood waited, but no further words came to him.  "You state the obvious," he
finally said in response.

"Thy leader who be?" the voice asked.

It took Rood a moment to understand the unusual syntax of the question.
The old language was just different enough in intonation to sound
confusing.  "My king," he finally answered.

"What of king rules?"

"The high king of Tuatha," Rood said, beginning to pick up the meanings
with faster understanding.

"No!" the voice said sternly.  "No high king have Tuatha none!"  A short
pause of silence followed this strong outburst.  Then the voice spoke
again, this time in a low mutter as if talking to itself.  "Ruled by
steward be thee.  No high king but steward rule."  The green eyes moved
slowly away and out of Rood's field of vision.  The voice shifted to come
from behind the guard.  "Know I this.  From dark world come I but even so
know I this.  In dark world have we news of other lands."  The creature
completely circled the helpless man.  "Tell of steward," it said.

"Which steward?" Rood asked.  His head was now hurting from hanging in this
inverted position for so long.  It was difficult to concentrate.

"Tell of now steward."

"Baylor was the most recent steward, he of the western kingdoms.  He and
his sister, Melusine, came to rule..."

"Melusine?" the voice interrupted him.

"Yes, she claimed to be his sister," Rood answered.

"She Lillith was.  Melusine-Lillith," it said.  "Tell of she.  Where came
now she?"

"She was of the dark world and died at the gate to it," Rood replied.

"Died she in Tuatha, in dark world, which?"

"Tuatha."

"Died she not.  Lives Lillith on," the voice said.  "Tell of Baylor.  Rules
Esbereth he?"

"He was slain..."

"Current ruler by," the creature of darkness said, completing Rood's
thought.  "Name of current steward."

"There is no current steward," Rood answered with a touch of anger.  "There
is only the high king."

"Name of this king?"

Now he had done it.  In his anger Rood had said too much.  Now the creature
wanted Robin's name.  "No," he said defiantly to the unseen monster.

Again it used the power of command.  "Tell now name of king command I," it
said in a stern order.

Rood was no more able to resist the power of command than a dried leaf
could resist a windstorm.  "Robin," he said remorsefully.  He cursed
himself for the betrayer he felt he had become.

"Robin," the voice repeated slowly, as if testing the name on its tongue.
"Meet this Robin shall I.  Long waited have so to do."  The voice again
paused, and then it addressed Rood.  "Help in this thou, meet Robin shall
I.  Help thou also king become I.  Esbereth possess I.  Help give thou."
The green lights that had been circling him throughout their conversation
suddenly disappeared.  Again Rood was left alone in the blackness and the
silence.

* * *

"Okay, buddy.  Where do we go from here?" Stan asked.

"What?" Alee said in English, which brought a smile to the human's face.

"Where do we go now?" Stan repeated in his limited knowledge of Tuathan.

"It is now safe to travel.  We go on to Esbereth," Alee said in Tuathan,
then added in English, "Buddy."  They prepared some makeshift packs of food
and headed on out of the little canyon.  Alee led Stan along a small path
or roadway that skirted the rocky area bordering on the edge of the plain.
They continued west along this for quite a while.  Every now and then Alee
would stop to examine the ground, checking for any evidence that trolls had
been along this path.  They also stopped to drink their fill of a small
stream that splashed down from a spring in the foothills.  The water was
crystal clear and cold as ice.

By mid morning the two travelers came upon a wide opening between two rocky
walls.  "This is the entrance to the pass," Alee said happily.  They turned
in and began to walk down the winding canyon.  It snaked its way through
the rock, doubling back upon itself.  As they walked along the two spotted
many of the stone baseballs that were evidence of trolls' recent presence.
This worried Alee considerably.  From the sheer volume, it was evident that
this was no isolated incident but a massive infestation of the creatures.

After a short time the two men turned a corner and came face to face with a
wall of stone.  Stan looked at the barrier, and then glanced over to his
companion.  It was evident from the expression on Alee's face that this was
completely unexpected.  The fairy stepped forward and touched the boulders
nearest him in wonder, as if he couldn't believe they were real.  "This is
not possible," he mumbled as he felt the wall.

After a few minutes Stan came forward and touched Alee's shoulder.  "Where
to now?" he asked.

"This is the way.  This wall should not be here," the fairy protested.

"Is there any other way?" Stan tried to ask.

"This is the way," Alee repeated mournfully.

"Alright, dude.  It looks like we go mountain climbing," Stan said in
English.  Alee looked at him blankly.  "We go up," he told the blond man
and then turned to survey the blockage, scouting the easiest route.  With
grim determination Stan began to ascend the barricade.  It was composed of
small bounders and smaller gravel packed firmly together.  The sides
slanted steeply, but still provided enough projecting surfaces that allowed
for climbing without equipment.  Stan had ascended quite a way when he
turned to look over his shoulder to see how Alee was faring.  The elf stood
on the ground below and looked up, watching him make his solo climb.

"Come on," Stan called down.

"Me?" Alee said nervously.

"I ain't doing this for my health, man," Stan said in English, then
switched to Tuathan.  "You, come up now."

If at all possible the pale skin of the fairy grew even paler.  Heights had
always made him feel queasy.  It was bad enough crossing the drawbridge or
the bridge over the ravine on the trail down to the bottom, but at lest he
had solid wood beneath his feet.  But here was a different matter.  He
would be ascending the mountain of stone in a manner that could easily
precipitate a fall.  "Come on," the dark skinned human called down again.
Alee took a deep breath, swallowed hard, and began to climb.

Time must have stood still as the two inched their way to the top.  Stan
was certain they had climbed for hours, but the sun never seemed to move
from its nearly overhead position.  The human finally reached the top and
pulled himself up onto a flat rock.  He looked down to see his companion
slowly crawling up the wall, creeping ever closer to his perch at the top.
Stan reached out to give Alee a hand when he was near enough to reach, but
unfortunately, Stan's movement startled the fairy whose nerves were already
overwrought.  He slipped, lost his grip and began the long plunge down to
the rocks below.  Stan managed to grab the back of Alee's tunic just as he
started to fall, and for an eternal moment he was dangling only by the
fragile strength of the thin material.  An ominous, ripping sound came from
the garment as Stan tugged and Alee scrambled.  Together the two of them
managed to pull the fairy up onto the flat rock at the top of the wall.
They panted and rested for a moment while they gathered their strength.

"Move not!" a voice said sternly and a sharp weapon poked Stan in the
middle of his back as he sprawled on the rock.

Alee looked up and his face suddenly brightened.  "Forell, my friend," he
said.

"My lord, you live," the tall guard said as he recognized the fairy
reclining on the rock.

"Great, you guys know each other," Stan said and started to rise.

"Move and die, creature of the night," Forell said a she jabbed the black
man with the tip of his sword.

"My lord, what has happened here?  Why have you built this wall, to keep
out the trolls?" Alee asked.

"No, this is not our work.  The trolls have erected this to lay siege to
Esbereth.  I am with a party who has come to examine this structure."

"Can I get up?" Stan said as he began to lose his patience.

"This creature was about to push you from the precipice," Forell told Alee.
"Shall I slay him or would you care for the honor?"

"He meant me no harm," Alee protested.  "He has traveled long as my
companion and has saved my life.  He helped me to ascend here."  With that
Alee looked over the edge and suddenly realized how far down the ground
actually was.  He quickly grabbed the stone, hugging it tightly.

"Are you well?" Forell asked.

Alee shook his head.  "I have the sickness of height," he gasped.

Forell quickly sheathed his sword and reached to his shoulder, retrieving a
rope he had carried.  Bending down, he tied it firmly around his friend and
then took the other end to fasten it to a projecting rock.  "Come, I shall
lower you with the help of this creature of darkness."

Stan realized that the sword was no longer poking him in the back and had
slowly stood, keeping a wary eye on the new elf.  The two of them helped
Alee to the opposite side of the wall and together slowly played out the
rope, lowering the fairy gently down the steeply inclined surface.  At the
bottom a small crowd of guards awaited.  Once he was safely down, Forell
indicated that Stan should follow by climbing down the rope.  The human
used it for support and quickly started down.  Forell followed him.

* * *

"The solution is simple," Elnar said.  "They must wait here but the course
of a season, and then return to their world.  Those in their land will have
forgotten their pursuit in the long past."

"I don't understand," Sorenson complained.  "What do you mean by the course
of a season?  Wait where?  And why should anyone forget anything?"

"He means for you to stay in this world a year," Scott interpreted.  "Time
flows at different rates in the two worlds.  A year here could be many ages
there."

The little scientist jumped up in anxious agitation.  "No!  I can't stay
here a year!  What about my family?  What about my wife and children?"

"They shall forget you as well," the wizard answered calmly.

"No!" Sorenson cried.

"My lord Keeper of the Magic," Robin said.  "Keep the quiet for a change."
Elnar sat back in miffed silence.  "Obviously this man must be returned to
his world at once.  Has anyone a homing crystal?"

"Here, my lord," Caseldra answered and removed her talisman from around her
neck.

"Take this, my friend," Robin said, handing the stone to the scientist.
"It shall return you to your home.  But in return for our kindness I ask
that you grant us one request."

"Yes, anything."

"Forget of our world.  Do what you can to assuage the fears and curiosities
of the others in your land concerning us.  We have never existed as far as
they are to know."

Sorenson thought for a moment.  "Yes, of course," he said.  "It was my
fault that all this came about anyway.  If I'd just left things alone after
you killed Dr. Blanc..."  He suddenly became uncomfortable with the
direction his words were taking him.  "I'll do what I can for you," he
finally said.

"My lady," Robin said, turning to Dr. Gates.  "If you will but touch your
friend's arm..."

"No," she said abruptly.  "I mean, please sir, I'd like to stay here."

"Sharon," Sorenson said in shock.

"I don't have any real reason to go back.  And I have a whole new world to
study here.  And I can always go back another time."

"Are you sure this is wise, lady?" Akuta asked.

"Are any of us ever really sure of anything?" she responded.

"What about Dave Strahan?" Sorenson suddenly asked.  "He probably came to
this world and no one seems to know what became of him.  That one," he said
pointing to Caseldra, "thinks he was eaten by goblins."

"Trolls," Alex corrected.  "Goblins are vegetarians.  They don't eat their
victims, just kill them."  Scott and Robin both glared at Alex while
Sorenson made a little wheezing moan.  "It's a joke," the red head replied.

"I can stay here and look for Dave," Sharon said to her boss.  Then turning
to Robin, she asked again, "Please, sir, may I stay.  You're the king here
so I figure it's your decision."

"You may stay, lady," Robin replied after a moment's thought.  "But I must
advise you that we are at war with the trolls.  This may not be a safe
land."

"I'm not afraid," she said.

"Then, my lord, if you will just tap the stone with your finger tips."
Dr. Sorenson held up the small, pink stone in front of himself much as a
priest might hold a sacred relic.  He then tapped its smooth surface with
the finger tips of his left hand.  He turned to say goodbye to his young
assistant, but instead of her, he was looking at himself.  He stared at the
pudgy little man holding out the pink stone and blinked in amazement.  Only
then did he realize he was looking in a mirror.  He glanced around and saw
with relief that it was the full length mirror on his closet door.  He was
standing in the center of his bedroom.  Emile Sorenson stepped to his
dresser and gingerly placed the stone in the top drawer, quickly burying it
with several pairs of socks.  He then meticulously closed the drawer and
headed out of the room in search of his family.

"He's gone," Sharon said as she stared in astonishment at the spot where
only moments before her colleague had stood.  He faded from sight like a
ghost melting in the night.

"My goodness, people come and go so quickly around here," Alex said, doing
his best "Wizard of Oz" impersonation.

"Lady," Akuta said.  "You have had a very long day.  Would you not care to
engage in the human sleep?'

"What?" she asked, still a little in shock.

"I'll take care of her," Jennifer said, stepping to Sharon's side.

"I'll show you the way out," Scott volunteered.  I have a candle hidden in
our room.  The two of them headed back inside.

"Would you not go with them?" Akuta asked his human lover.

"No.  I'm not letting you out of my sight again," Alex replied.

"Then let us now discuss our plans again," Robin said for benefit of Akuta.

 

 

 

 

 

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