The Power of the Dark Lord

                                                                                 By Bert McKenzie 

                                                                                  Copyright 2010

 

 


Chapter XVI

"Are you alright?  What happened?"  Sharon slowly managed to focus on the
face that was asking her the questions.  At first her head hurt too much
for her to do more than moan.  "Dr. Gates, do you want me to call a
healer?"

Things were clearing up quickly.  "No, I'll be okay," Sharon managed to
say.  She tried to sit up, but the movement only made her head pound in
pain.

"What happened?  Who hit you?  And what became of Rood?"  Jennifer had come
to the halls of healing to check on her friend and the new arrival.  She
found Sharon unconscious on the floor and Rood gone.  The scientist's lip
was beginning to swell and there was a thin line of blood from the corner
of her mouth where her lip had been cut by the blow.

"He did it," Sharon said as she looked over to the empty pallet.  "He got
up and hit me.  I must have been knocked out when my head hit the wall."
In the flickering glow of the candle that Jennifer carried, Sharon could
see that her story wasn't believed.  "It's true.  He may have been
delirious or something, but he got up from the bed, and when I tried to
stop him he smacked me."

"Rood is one of the gentlest people I know.  If he hit you he must really
be out of it," Jennifer said.

"We've got to find him," Sharon replied.  "He can't be well.  We've got to
get him back here."  She tried to get up again and again the pain screamed
through her skull.  Jennifer helped her to her feet.  "His eyes were really
strange," Sharon said as the two of them stumbled to a chair where the
doctor sat down heavily.

"Strange how?" Jennifer asked.

"They glowed, like bright green coals, but there weren't any pupils, just
green lights filling the whole eye sockets."

"Are you sure of this?" a voice asked from the doorway.  Both Jennifer and
Sharon turned to look at the speaker hidden in the darkness.  As they
watched, a tall thin woman entered the room.  It was the lead healer.  "Are
you certain of what you saw?" she asked again.  Her voice was calm and
even, no accusatory as if she didn't believe Sharon's tale.

"Yes, I'm positive," the human answered.  "It was the scariest thing I've
ever seen."

"How would you describe his movements?  Were they smooth and natural like a
normal person or rough and with many jerks as if being controlled by
another?" the old woman asked.

"It wasn't jerky," Sharon replied as she remembered the scene, playing it
again on the movie screen in her mind.  "But it wasn't natural either.  He
moved smoothly, but like a robot."

"Robot?" the healer said, repeating the odd word.  There was apparently no
translation for the term into Tuathan.

"Like a machine or device," Jennifer offered.  "Like a mechanical man."

The healer suddenly seemed to understand.  "This explains much," she said
and turned to leave.

Jennifer grabbed her candle and hurried after the woman.  Sharon followed
quickly behind, all but forgetting her headache.  "What is it?" Jennifer
asked as she caught up with the older woman.  "Do you know what's wrong
with him."

The healer stopped in her tracks and turned to face the two girls.  "I am
old, and my place is here," she said.  "You are younger than I.  You may
travel more swiftly.  Go and warn the king.  Rood must be found and stopped
in any way, even if he must be killed.  Go now!"

"But what is it?" Jennifer pleaded.

"It is the burning blood," the old woman said.  "It is extremely powerful
and evil magic from the dark world.  When I examined Rood I felt that his
left ear had been burned and the sound membrane within had been broken.  I
tried to heal this but was unable.  At the time I felt that his mind was
far away.  I thought I was unable to heal him because he was so far beyond
my reach.  But now I understand."

"Well, I don't!" Sharon said impatiently.  "Can you explain it in terms I
can relate to?"

"The burning blood is an evil concoction or poison if you will.  It is a
boiling poison.  When it is infused into a person's blood stream, it
destroys the spirit or chases it away.  The maker of the poison then
imposes his or her will on what remains of the body.  The victim then acts
only at the bidding of the controller."

"And that's what happened to Rood?" Jennifer asked in shock.

"I fear so.  Pouring the poison into the ear would cause it to burn
directly into the brain, the seat of the physical mind.  That is why I
could not reach him and felt that he was far away.  The poison has taken
over his body and chased away his spirit.  What lives now is an evil
servant without a soul."

"But how do you know..."  Sharon got no further with her question.

"The eyes are the window of the spirit and the mind.  What you described is
the effect of the poison when it has fashioned the mind to its will.  If
his movements had been hesitant or labored then I would say that enough of
his own mind yet lived and he was fighting the control.  But from what you
described, his body is only a tool of evil and it must be stopped or
destroyed."

"Is there a cure?" Jennifer asked, fearing the answer she might hear.

"Not if he is completely taken over.  Now go quickly!" the old woman urged.
"He is somewhere in the castle going about his master's evil bidding.  Warn
the king.  He must be stopped.  Go!"  Jennifer and Sharon both hurried down
the long corridor and out into the dark courtyard.

The old woman turned around and headed back to her library.  She thought
she might be able to find something that might aid them in her books
concerning the dark world.  As she turned a corner she came face to face
with the man in question.  Rood stood before her, two gleaming orbs of
green light shining in place of his eyes.  The old woman stopped short,
uncertain of what to do.  Her path to the library was blocked, and she knew
it would do no good to try to reason with him.  He was only a re-animated
dead body.  The healer took a slow step backward, and as she did, Rood took
a step toward her.  She realized he did not intend to let her calmly walk
away.  The old woman turned and started to run.  Then she felt the sharp
sting of a silver blade as it slipped between the bones of her rib cage.
She gasped in pain as an arm encircled her throat and the man grabbed her
firmly.  Again the knife plunged into her, cutting and piercing vital
organs.  A great blue stain spread out onto the healer's white robe as she
relaxed into the arms of her attacker.  Her last thought was of her other
charges.  She hoped they would recuperate without her as she sank into the
waiting grip of death.

* * *

"You cannot interrupt them now," Melcot argued.  "This is a meeting of the
high council."

Jennifer and Sharon had tracked Robin down to the council chambers.  "We
have to talk to him.  It's a matter of life and death," Jennifer said.

"If the world were to end this night and at this moment I could not admit
you to the council chambers during closed session," Melcot answered.

"Then where's Scott?" the girl demanded.

"On the battlements, but..."  The two human girls were off before he could
finish his comment.

Jennifer discarded her candle and the two of them ran across the open
courtyard.  Outside the buildings they were able to see by the dim
starlight and the gleam of the newly risen full moon and could sprint
across the open area toward the castle wall.  Once under its shadow, they
slipped through the narrow doorway beside the gate, and through another
smaller, enclosed courtyard.  Jennifer had explored the palace in the light
of day enough to be able to find her way in the dark.  She led Sharon to
the blackness of the enclosed stairway that curved up, through the center
of the thick wall to the battlements that overlooked the main gate.  They
emerged onto the windswept top of the great wall that surrounded two thirds
of the palace and butted up against the Crystal Mountains.  There was a
small group of figures standing at the low, masonry wall that bordered the
edge of the battlements.  The girls headed directly for them.

"Scott?" Jennifer called as they approached the group.  The dark figures
turned to look at the two women.

Caseldra, Rowana, Scott and a couple of palace guards had been looking
across the deep ravine to the darkness of the canyon beyond.  Scott could
see nothing in the dim light but dark shadows.  However, the elves clearly
saw figures of trolls milling about in the dark.  They appeared to be
waiting for something, and appeared to be in a state of nervous excitement.
As the fairies watched, a tall figure, towering over the trolls, came
forward.  It looked like a living shadow, only blackness in the shape of a
man.

"Jen?  Dr. Gates?  What are you two doing here?" Scott asked.

"It's Rood.  He's gone!" Jennifer blurted out.

"Gone?  To where?" Rowana asked.

"He's dead?" Scott said at almost the same moment.

"The old doctor," Sharon began.  "She said he was taken over by some kind
of controlling magic.  She said it had to do with boiling blood or
something.  He's like a zombie, only without the part where he eats you, I
think."

"The healer said he was acting on orders from the dark world and we have to
find him and stop him," Jennifer added.

"The burning blood," Caseldra muttered in hushed awe.  "We have to find
him!"

"Melcot wouldn't let me tell Robin," Jennifer said.  "He wouldn't interrupt
the council meeting."

"My lord, as consort to the king you must command us," Rowana told Scott.
"My mate is correct in that we may not interrupt closed session to obtain
out liege lord's commands.  You must act in his stead."

"Nobody told me falling in love was going to make me the vice president,"
Scott said to himself.  Then to the girls he gave quick orders.  "Rowana,
alert the entire guard.  I want every man searching for Rood except you
two," he said to the two guards who were standing with him.  "Stay here and
keep an eye on our friends across the way."  They quickly turned to watch
the canyon.  "Rood's not to be harmed, but make sure he's found and
detained."  Scott finished his orders to Rowana, then turned to Caseldra.
"Go find your father and have him come up with an antidote to this blood
burn stuff."

"But there is no antidote save death," Caseldra argued.

"Then Elnar better invent one," Scott said through clenched teeth.

Caseldra was about to say something more, but took one look at the grim
determination on the human's face and dropped her eyes.  "I do your
bidding, lord," she said and she and Rowana quickly descended the stairs.

"Dr. Gates, can you find your way back to the halls of healing by yourself
in the dark?" Scott asked.

"Call me Sharon, please," she said.  "And yes, I think so."  The woman
turned to feel her way down the dark stairs.

"What about me?" Jennifer asked.

"You and I are going to crash a high council meeting."

* * *

Night had fallen several hours ago.  It was totally dark as the grey van
pulled up to the gate.  The chain link fence completely surrounded Jack's
Construction, a metal, pre-fab warehouse that held most of the supplies the
company used in their road work.  Parked in the open lot adjacent to the
warehouse and also within the confines of the fence were a number of
oversized vehicles, trucks, dozers and the like, quietly occupying space
like so many sleeping orange and yellow dinosaurs.  As the van stopped,
Akuta hopped out of the back and cautiously slipped to the gate.  It was
chained and padlocked.  The fairy reached for the lock and jumped back in
surprise as two large, black dogs leaped against the fence growling and
barking viciously.

"Well, looks like we're outa' luck," George said from behind the wheel.
"Might as well go."

"Wait," Faylar responded.  "I am very good with animals."  He opened the
door and jumped out.

"Not those animals," George said in warning.  "They're killers."

The elf crossed to the fence and bent down to bring his face close to the
snarling beasts.  He was separated only by the stiff, metal wire.  "Go on
and open the gate," he called to Akuta.  The two dogs were licking his
fingers through the fence and whining with delight as they wagged their
stubby tails.

Akuta passed his hands over the padlock, then tugged sharply.  It snapped
open and the chain fell apart.  While Faylar kept the dogs in place, Akuta
pushed the gate and stood back so George could drive the van in.  Once it
was inside, Faylar came around the fence and patted the two dogs as Akuta
pulled the gate closed again.

"I don't understand it," George said.  "I thought those dogs were killers."
The rest of the group stepped out of the van and milled around watching
Faylar play with the two guard dogs as if they were puppies.

"So where's the dynamite?" Alex asked quietly.

"Probably inside," Stan answered.  "Come on, let's go."  The group walked
up to the big, metal building.  Stan tried the door, but it too was locked.
"Okay, maestro.  It's all yours," he said, stepping back and letting Akuta
try the knob.  The fairy stepped forward, reaching out and opened the door
as if it had never been fastened.  The group then followed him inside.

"For what are we looking?" Alee whispered.

"Dynamite," Stan whispered back.

"You know," Alex said.  "It's a fat, red stick with a wick and looks like a
giant firecracker.  Don't you ever watch cartoons?"

"What is a cartoons?" Alee responded.

"Over here," Stan called as he snapped on a light switch.  All six of them
converged on the spot where he stood.  Part of the warehouse had been caged
off by wire mesh and was securely locked.  On the front of the gate that
blocked access to the section was a big, bold sign that read, 'Danger!
Explosives!  Positively no smoking!'

"This must be the place," Alex quipped.

"Just get what you need and let's get out of here!" George said nervously.
Akuta again did his trick on the gate and Stan quickly entered to survey
the supplies.  He made some snap decisions, and in minutes the fairies were
carrying out boxes of explosives, wire, detonators and blasting caps.  They
quickly loaded everything into the back of the van.

"Okay, so now what?" George asked his old friend.

"Now we lock everything back up and we get out of here," Stan replied.

"You know they're gonna miss this stuff," George argued.

"So, they'll have one hell of a mystery.  We used your cousin's own van so
there aren't any strange tire marks.  I've been wearing gloves and I
guarantee these guys don't have fingerprints on file anywhere.  I don't
even know if they have fingerprints.  And you, old pan, went fishing this
evening, remember?  When the stolen merchandise never shows up anywhere,
it'll all eventually blow over.

"I sure hope you're right," George replied.

Akuta relocked the cage and the warehouse door.  The fairies and humans
then climbed back into the van and started the engine.  They slowly pulled
out of the yard and Akuta relocked the gate.  Faylar bid farewell to the
dogs and they started the van again.  Just as they were about to make a
clean get away, Akuta turned his head sharply.  "Listen," he said.

"What is that sound?" Alee asked.

"What sound?" George said nervously.  A few seconds later the humans too
could hear the wail of police sirens coming their way.  "Great.  I bet no
one thought about there being a silent alarm system," George whined.

"Well, dude, put the pedal to the metal and let's get out of here," Stan
ordered.  George slammed the van into gear and headed down the gravel
access road.  The van emerged onto the highway just as three police cars
crested the nearby hill.  "Now, they're on to us!  Drive, George, drive!"

The balding man expertly executed a racing change and floored the van.  One
police car turned in to check out the construction warehouse while the
other two squad cars gave chase to the fleeing vehicle.  "Stan," George
said as he took a sharp curve with a screech of rubber.  "We got us a
problem here."

"What's that?" the black man asked calmly as he looked in the side mirror
to watch the rapidly gaining police cars following them.

"We can't out run them in this thing, especially carrying this load.  And
we can't afford an accident while sitting on all this shit.  We'd be blown
to kingdom come."

"You got a suggestion?" Stan asked.

"No.  I just thought I'd make this observation."

Stan turned to the Tuathans sitting in the back of the careening vehicle.
"I never thought I'd say this," he admitted, "but now might be a good time
to use your magic rock."

Alee looked up at his new friend.  "I fear that it will take this entire
mechanical wagon with it," he warned.

"So much the better," Stan added.  "George," he addressed the driver.  "I
think you ought to slow down, man."

"If I slow down, they'll catch us," George protested.

"Not if my pointy-eared pal's rock works."

"You're all nuts," George growled, but nevertheless he took his foot off
the accelerator.

"Everyone touch each other," Akuta ordered, making sure the six of them
were in physical contact.  Faylar reached out and put a hand on the boxes
in the back of the van while Alex firmly gripped the arm rest on his seat.
Alee held out his homing crystal and gently tapped it with his finger tips.

"We'll get you back home as soon as we can, pal," Stan said to his buddy.
"They got magic furniture like you wouldn't believe."

"What do you mean back home?" George asked as he stole a sideways glance at
Stan.

The two squad cars were narrowing the gap in their high speed pursuit when
the police officers noticed the van beginning to slow.  The driver of the
first car was just taking his foot off the gas when he saw the brake lights
of the van brighten then all the lights went black.  He slammed on his
brakes, and was almost instantly jolted from behind as the second squad car
impacted with his rear bumper.  A few minutes later, the cops were out of
their cars and looking around carefully, flashlights cutting bright holes
in the darkness.

"They just vanished," one of the men reported on the radio.

"You mean you lost 'em?" the dispatcher asked.

"No, I mean they disappeared.  They were there, right in front of us one
minute, then gone the next.  There's no place where they could have turned
off, or gone.  It's really weird."

"Roger," the radio voice answered.  "Report back to the construction
warehouse.  We'll get a bulletin out on the van."

 

 

 

 

 

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