Crystal Throne

                                                                                 By Bert McKenzie 

                                                                                  Copyright 2010

 

 

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Disclaimer: This story is a work of fiction.  Any resemblance to any real
person alive or dead is coincidental and unintentional.

CHAPTER XVII

     They could hear muffled and confused sounds but neither knew what was
happening.  "Thomas," Clive called across the hall.  "Do you hear it?"

     "I hear something but what is it?" Thomas responded.

     "The sounds of a great battle!" Clive answered excitedly.  "That can
mean but one thing.  We are soon to be rescued," he said.

     "Or put to death," Scott mumbled.

     The sounds of the fighting gradually grew louder.  In a moment they
could hear the ringing of metal as swords clashed and the shouting of many
voices approaching their cells.  Looking through the bars they could
finally spot several of the guards doing battle with what appeared to be
their own men.  As Scott watched through the door, he saw a man in a blue
tunic plunge his sword into one of the guards that had been feeding them.
The guard grabbed his stomach as he collapsed to the stone floor, with what
looked like bright blue paint issuing from the wound.  "It's blue!" Scott
said in amazement as he looked out.

     "That's the color of their blood," Thomas said as he grabbed his
fellow inmate and pulled him back away from the door.  "Stay back until we
find out which way this battle will end," he ordered.

     The fighting in the corridor was fairly short lived.  In minutes the
sounds died down to an occasional moan from the wounded and a few rapidly
shouted orders from the victors.  The words were too quick and sharp for
Scott to catch much of what was said.  Then a jangling clank announced yet
another development as their door was opened and several blue clad
strangers entered.

     "Friend Scott, you live!" one of the men addressed him happily.  "We
feared your death when they dragged your bleeding body from camp."

     "Maynar," Scott said, jumping to his feet and hugging his old friend.

     "You see," his friend smiled up at him.  "I have been promoted.  I am
now a member of the blue guard myself," he laughed as he puffed out his
chest in the tunic.

     "Not for long."  A tall, fair skinned man entered the cell carrying a
bundle of clothes.  "Change quickly.  We cannot risk our own men killing
each other out of mistake."  Akuta then turned to the two prisoners.  "We
are pleased to find you both so well, old father and young friend," he
said.  "But come, let us leave this dank hospitality."

     They left the confines of the cell to meet with the rest of their
rescuers in the hall.  "What about me?" a voice called from another cell.
"Will you not release me as well?" Clive called from where he was still
confined.

     "We know you not," Maynar said as he tugged the red tunic over his
head.

     "But they know me," Clive said indicating Scott and Thomas.  "They
know I am a friend of the king."

     "Is this true?" Akuta asked.

     "I believe him to be a spy," Thomas answered.

     "I am no spy," Clive pleaded.  "Robin and I crossed the great prairie
together.  He would not be in the castle were it not for me."

     "We could release him, but keep him watched," Maynar suggested.

     "Indeed this would be a job for you and young Scott.  It would keep
the two of you out of harm's way," Akuta mused.  "Release him," he ordered.
The cell was opened and Clive was put into the custody of the two young
friends while Akuta and Thomas hurried off to plan strategies for the
ensuing battle.  The battle itself was little more than a rout of the
remaining blue guard.  Most of them had little stomach for fighting when
faced with the kind of odds they now saw.

     "Where do we go now?" Scott asked in his halting Tuathan.

     "To the red tower with our prisoner," Maynar suggested and started out
of the dungeon.

     "I knew you not to be one of the land.  Your speech gave you away,"
Clive said as they climbed the stairs from the tower basements.  "You are
the Scott from the other world.  You are the one my friend spoke of."

     "Your friend?" Scott asked.

     "The king, my lord Robin," he replied.  "You have not the look of the
fair folk to masquerade as such."

     "What did he say about me?" Scott asked.

     "It was what he kept to himself that mattered," Clive responded.  "Are
you a natural reversal as well?"

     With that question Maynar tripped and fell headlong up the stairs.  "A
natural reversal," he said as Clive and Scott helped him up.  "As well?
Are you saying the great king is a natural reversal?  That certainly throws
a stop to finding an heir to the thrown!"

     "Keep your tongue," Clive said angrily.  "This information could only
cause harm at this point."  They continued on up the stairs.

     "Well, are you?" Maynar asked.  "Are you what he asked you?" he said,
looking sharply at Scott.

     "If you mean what I think you do," and Scott was not sure because of
the language barrier, "then yes."

     "So that is how you knew the king.  I wonder if that is what Akuta saw
in the deep communication with you," Maynar babbled on.  "No wonder he has
been so quiet about things.  This must weigh heavily on his mind."

     "Maynar," Scott said, interrupting his train of thought.  "Aren't we
climbing too many stairs?"  They had been steadily going up, passing
several intersecting openings in the curved stairwell.  Indeed, they had
passed the ground level and were already well above.

     "Let us go back down," Maynar said, turning around.  Just then they
heard a shriek issue from the adjoining hall.  Before anyone could react,
Clive had dashed off toward the sound.

     "Wait," Scott called after him as he and Maynar followed the fleeing
man.  They found themselves in a wide gallery with a terraced opening
providing a panoramic view of the courtyards below.  One glance made it
obvious that the battle was not going well for the blue warriors.  They
were being systematically rounded up by variously cloaked men, and herded
together in long columns marching toward the drawbridge.  However, the
party had little time to observe, as they saw a short, ugly woman dressed
in blue running down the hall before them.

     "That was Melusine," Maynar said as they gave pursuit.  The woman
quickly ducked into a door and the three followed after her.  In the center
of the room was a naked man, suspended from chains stretched to the far
corners.  He appeared to be frozen in the middle of the act of passion, his
body in an eternal spasm of climax.  Melusine was on her knees before him
with a poised knife, about the emasculate the figure.  "Stop her!" Maynar
cried.  "It is Rood, Captain of the Palace Guard!"

     "If I cannot have my trophy, no one shall have his life," she said and
turning the knife, plunged it into the captive man's chest.  She then
turned and ran to the cabinet at the far side of the room.  "You think you
have me?" Melusine cried.  "Not likely.  I will return to my land and seek
my revenge on another who loves your king."  With that, she grabbed a small
vial and dashed it to the floor at her feet.  A purple smoke quickly rose
to envelope her.  It dissipated as fast as it had arisen, leaving no trace
of the woman.

     "A transportation spell," Maynar said looking about the room.

     "Quickly, we must find a healer," Clive cried as he ran to the body
suspended from the chains.  Scott joined him as Maynar dashed from the room
in search of help.  "Look," Clive said, observing the body.  Rood stood in
the same frozen stance, the knife blade quivering in his chest.  It
penetrated into the body, but no blood appeared to be issuing from the
wound.  It was as if the woman had stabbed a waxwork dummy.

          * * *

     Robin sat quietly in a chair in the corner of the king's chambers.  He
had heard the faint cries and knew that somehow Melcot and Rowana had been
successful.  He knew that his kingdom would soon be safe.  And still he
waited, quietly biding his time.

     As mid day came on, footsteps sounded in the hall.  The outer door
opened and someone entered the antechamber.  He could hear sounds of a
search, as if the person were desperately seeking something of value.  And
then the door opened and Bailor entered the inner chambers.  At first he
did not see the shadowed figure in the corner.  He went directly to the
table beside the reclining platform and frantically looked through the
personal effects sitting there.

     "Seek you this?" a voice asked.  Bailor whirled around, realizing for
the first time that he was not alone.  Robin sat comfortably in the chair,
holding up a small bottle no more than two inches in length.  "This is your
escape route, is it not?" Robin asked as he slowly stood.  Bailor seemed
rooted to the spot, his eyes fixed on the small vial.  "I recognize the
bottle.  It is very similar to the one you used before.  Remember?  You
sent me on a journey from which you did not expect me to return."

     Bailor began moving slowly across the room.  "It was a mistake, lord.
I meant not to send you away.  I was just so angry that my sister was hurt
that I lost my thoughts."

     "But you were prepared.  You had the vial ready for use.  From where
came it?"  Robin took a step toward him.

     "I . . . I was given it by . . . by . . ."

     "By your sister?"

     Bailor froze again.  He then forced a harsh laugh.  "My sister?  Where
would my sister get such a thing?"

     "Perhaps she made it," Robin suggested.  "Perhaps she had knowledge of
spells stronger than anyone knew.  Or . . . perhaps she brought it with
her."

     "Brought it with her?" Bailor asked, inching along the wall.

     "From her world.  Oh yes, I know she is not of the land.  My captain
told us before, on that fateful day, that he saw her ears.  She is not of
the land.  So that means either she is not your sister, or you are not of
the land."

     "This is preposterous," Bailor bluffed.

     "Pull back your hair," Robin commanded as he took a step forward,
sword in one hand and the vial in the other.

     "What?"

     "I said, pull back your hair or I shall remove your head and then do
it for you."

     The man reached up and pulled his long hair back from the sides of his
head, revealing the typically pointed ears.

     "Then she is not your sister," Robin concluded.  "From where came
she?"

     Bailor slowly inched his way closer to the reclining platform.  "I met
her in Marchinod in the western kingdom.  She was a powerful sorceress," he
admitted coming closer to the platform.  "She promised to make me a king,
and she very nearly succeeded."

     "Rood thought she was human because of the ears, but we know better."
Robin persisted.

     "Yes, she is from the dark world."

     "And where is she now?" Robin asked.

     "I know not, and I care not," Bailor replied.  "And soon neither shall
you," he said whirling around and reaching under the mattress on the
platform.  He suddenly froze, a look of shock on his face.

     "And now what seek you?  This?" Robin asked, setting the bottle on the
table beside him and reaching back to pick up a long sword from where he
had hidden it.  "Oh, fear not, my good lord.  I shall welcome a fair
challenge.  But it seems the tip of this sword has a slight discoloration.
Perhaps the lady Melusine has been tampering with it as well.  Shall we
see?" he asked, bringing the blade close to Bailor's face.  The man
flinched back, fearing the touch.  "As I thought."

     "What shall you have with me?" Bailor asked, now actually frightened.

     "I give you a chance to defend yourself," Robin replied, tossing his
own short sword to the man.  "But I shall not use this blade," he said,
pushing the sword Bailor had originally looked for into a crevice where the
mortar had fallen from the wall.  He pushed down and snapped the metal in
the center of the sword, and tossed the hilt aside.  "I have yet another,"
Robin said, reaching down and picking up another sword he had conveniently
placed behind the chair.

     With a cry of anger, Bailor leapt forward, swinging his sword
viciously.  Robin dodged the blade and brought his own weapon to bear,
parrying each blow.  The two men dueled about the room, metal clanging
against metal, neither one gaining an advantage.  If anything, Robin seemed
to take the defensive, allowing Bailor to expend his energy needlessly,
swinging his sword violently and pursuing his intended victim.

     Suddenly, Robin felt his foot contact something unstable.  He had
stepped on the hilt of the broken sword and lost his balance, falling over
backward onto the stone floor.  "I shall send you to the western islands
with your father!" Bailor called and fell forward for the death blow.
Remembering a move he had once seen in a combat in the human world, Robin
raised up with his feet and struck Bailor in the chest, knocking the wind
from him and flinging him through the terrace window.  In a moment Robin
was again on his feet and following his opponent onto the terrace.

     It was a high ledge built out on the side of the tower, with a low
wall surrounding it.  Bailor came at Robin from behind the window opening
where he had hidden awaiting the pursuit.  Robin raised his sword to parry
but was unready for the blow.  His weapon slipped from his grasp and went
flying over the wall and down to the distant courtyard below.  "Now I have
you, my young king," Bailor gloated, circling with his sword.  He thrust
forward, but Robin managed to sidestep the move and grab him by the wrist.
They fell on the wall, rolling back and forth each trying to gain an
advantage.

     Robin finally smashed Bailor's hand into the stone of the wall,
causing him to release his grip and sending the sword plunging down after
Robin's own weapon.  Just as he thought all was lost, Bailor felt the hilt
of Robin's dagger poking into his side from where it hung from his
opponent's belt.  He reached with his free hand and grabbed the dagger,
plunging it into Robin's side, cutting deeply.  Reacting to the pain, the
young king released his enemy falling back on the wall.  Bailor smiled a
final farewell to his rival and raised the dagger for the last blow.

     His body suddenly spasmed, the raised hand dropping the dagger to
clatter harmlessly on the terrace.  He turned to look behind him, then
toppled over, rolling off the edge of the wall and falling to the courtyard
below.  Robin sat up slowly to see Rowana standing in the doorway, bow in
hand and a second arrow already drawn in case of need.

     "My thanks, lady," Robin gasped.  "For the second time you save my
life."

     "You are hurt, lord," she cried, dropping the bow and rushing to him,
noticing the blood discoloring his garment.

     "It is but a scratch," he said, trying to stand.  She helped him back
to the room and onto the reclining platform.  Then quickly bolted to find a
healer.  "I have won my kingdom, only to lose it again," Robin said to
himself as the room began to spin around him.  He closed his eyes and
passed into unconsciousness.

          * * *

     The white robed healer entered the room and came directly to the body
suspended from the chains.  Clive and Scott stood nearby, not knowing what
to do.  "He may yet live," she said as she looked closely at the wound.
"This is powerful magic.  It is the spell of forever.  It slows the body
down, making it more of a thing than a person.  Release these chains and
bring him to a place where we can lay him down.  But be careful not to
touch the blade."

     Finding the keys hanging from a hook beside the door, Clive quickly
unfastened the manacles and shackles while Scott supported the body.  They
then carried him from the empty room, following the healer to a chamber not
far down the hall.  They placed Rood on a reclining platform, his body
still frozen in the position of lust, the knife still protruding from his
chest.

     The healer knelt for a moment and meditated.  She then made the same
unusual movements Scott had observed before in the dungeon, and then she
stood over the body.  Grasping the handle of the knife firmly, she pulled
straight up, removing it from Rood's chest.  As the blade came out a thick
ooze of blood slowly seeped from the gash.  It appeared to have the
consistency of thick tar rather than real blood.  The healer pressed her
left hand over it and closed her eyes.  She then placed her right hand on
top of her left and leaned with all her weight upon the body.

     After about ten minutes, she relaxed and slowly removed her hands.
"He may live," she said to the two men in the room.  "The magic is all that
has saved him.  If his body were not slowed by it, the wound would have
proved fatal in a matter of seconds.  As it was, the stillness of his blood
allowed me to try to repair some of the damage.  I know not how successful
I have been."

     "But what about his condition?" Clive asked, indicating the paralysis.

     "The magic is powerful, but it will wear off eventually.  There is
nothing for him until that happens.  Keep a close watch and see that he
moves not once his mind returns to this world.  He will need rest to
recover from the knife wound."  She then turned to leave the room.  Just
before exiting she paused and glanced back at Rood.  "And please find a
cover for his body," she added.  "We would not wish to cause undue
excitement in any young ladies . . ."  She paused and looked directly at
Scott,

     ". . . or young men."

 

 

 

 

 

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