Journey to the West

                                                                                 By Bert McKenzie 

                                                                                  Copyright 2010



Date: Tue, 16 Nov 2010 07:10:01 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Crystal Throne/Journey to the West chapter 9

Journey to the West
By Bert McKenzie
Copyright 2010

Chapter IX

Rood was embarrassed but excited at the same time.  He sat at the edge of
the little runway enjoying the show while a buxom woman undulated her
pelvis to a loud disco beat.  She had picked him out from the stage when
she first made her entrance.  The gorgeous, clean looking blond man stood
out from the usual crowd of sleazy looking street scum or stuffy old
businessmen in long coats.  This tall boy was a breath of fresh air in the
skuzzy strip joint, and the woman directed all her attention his way.  Half
way through the number she unfastened the catch on her bikini top and
slipped it off her large, full breasts, tossing it into the crowd.  She
then did something she had not done before in her routine.  The woman
slipped her right foot out of the spike heel and stepped off the runway,
placing it on the seat between Rood's legs.  She wiggled her toes against
the swelling bulge in his crotch as she leaned forward, her big breasts
swinging down into his face.

Scott was frantic.  One minute the two of them were walking along the
crowded sidewalk, and the next minute he was alone.  The dense mass of
people had momentarily separated Scott from his tall, elfin companion.  He
turned back and looked, but Rood was nowhere in sight.  Scott couldn't
believe his ill luck.  Not only did he lose the magic means to locate the
boy they had come seeking, but now he lost his friend who was supposed to
be helping him.  Scott doubled back in the crowd, retracing his steps and
calling out, "Rood, Rood!"

"What are you, some kind of evangelist nut?" a big, burly man asked him.
He was a pitch man for a sleazy looking strip tease joint.  He had been
trying to convince some passersby to enter his establishment by shouting,
"Girls, girls, naked girls!"

"Excuse me?" Scott said, startled by the man's question.

"If anything's rude, fella', it's you bothering my business.  Now get out
a' here."

"No, you don't understand.  My friend's name is Rood."

"I don't care if it's downright disgusting.  Beat it," the man said, and
then returned to his harangue of the pedestrians.

"Look," Scott interrupted him again.  "Did you see a tall, good looking
guy, blond hair, wearing a green jacket?"

The man started to make an angry retort, but then saw a five dollar bill in
Scott's hand.  "Inside," he said, nodding to the door as he grabbed the

"In there?" Scott asked, looking at the glass door covered with a life size
poster of a girl in next to no attire.  The man ignored him, again
beginning his chant of, "Girls, girls, naked girls!"  Scott pulled the door
open and slipped into a dark lobby.  There was an old woman with too much
makeup and an unnatural looking yellow wig sitting in a little booth,
completely enclosed in thick glass.  Scott repeated his question about Rood
to her.

"Oh, the cute, dumb guy.  Yeah, he's inside."

"Thanks," Scott said and turned to the steel door leading into the rest of
the building.  He tugged on it but it wouldn't open.

"Where do you think you're going, sport?" the old lady asked as she lit a

"Inside," Scott replied.

"Twenty bucks," she returned without looking up.

"The sign says ten."

The old lady gave him a sour look, and then blew out a cloud of smoke which
seemed to encircle her like a cloud in the small glass booth.  "Your buddy
didn't pay for his admission.  Twenty bucks or I call Sam."  Not having any
great desire to meet Sam, Scott dug in his billfold for a twenty dollar
bill.  The old lady snatched it through the little depression in the
counter under the glass wall and then she reached down beneath the counter
top.  The door emitted a loud, buzzing sound.  Scott quickly pulled it open
and stepped inside.

The interior of the club was a dark and smoky oblong room.  At one end was
a big, ornate bar with rows of bottles lining the wall behind it.  A man in
a dirty white shirt stood in attendance, reading a paperback.  The rest of
the dingy room was taken up with small, round tables and chairs, most of
which were empty.  At the end opposite the bar was a tiny stage with a
narrow runway sticking out amongst the tables.  The few customers were
seated close to the runway and seemed intent on an obscene performance
taking place at the edge of the stage.  Scott glanced over to see a woman
in her late thirties with breasts that would rival Dolly Parton.  As he
watched she slipped off her g-string and stepped from the runway, placing
one foot on a table and straddling a man sitting in the front.  Scott
suddenly realized that the blond headed man whose face was in the nude
woman's crotch was none other than his missing companion.

Scott made a bee line for the dancer and his friend, tapping Rood on the
shoulder.  "Buzz off, creep," the woman said as she grabbed Rood by the
ears, holding his face against her stomach as she slowly slid down his
chest and into his lap.

"Rood, we've got a job to do," Scott said to his friend who seemed to be
enjoying the woman's attentions.

"Now?" the tall blond asked, disappointment evident in his voice.

"Now," Scott replied firmly.

Rood stood and tried to tactfully disengage himself from the big bosomed
dancer.  He easily lifted her buxom body back onto the runway, allowing his
hands to brush across her breasts in the process.  "No touching the
merchandise," an angry voice growled as a heavy hand clapped down on the
fairy's shoulder and spun him around.

Scott recognized the pitch man from out front who also served as a bouncer.
"Look, it wasn't his fault.  You see, he was just..."  Scott's intervention
got no further.  He had reached out and put his own hand on the bouncer's
shoulder, but almost instantly the burly man turned and landed a punch to
his jaw, knocking him across a nearby table and onto the floor, tipping
over chairs and breaking empty glasses that hadn't been cleared.  The man
no sooner threw his punch than he found himself sailing through the air to
crash heavily into several of the other customers near the runway.  This
seemed to institute a free-for-all with a couple of the sleazier clientele
getting into the act.  Over the sound of crashing furniture and breaking
glass the disco music continued to blare and the dancer returned to her
bumps and grinds, continuing her routine despite the brawl that was
happening on the floor around her.

At the first sign of trouble the bartender reached under the bar to push a
button.  He then calmly returned to his paperback while the old lady in the
glass booth called the police.  She then slipped her cash box in a safe
under the counter and locking her booth behind her, crossed to the front
door of the lobby and slipped a closed sign in the window next to the door.
She patiently awaited the police; the whole procedure having happened a
number of times before was now a simple routine for her and the staff.

Meanwhile, inside the club Rood attempted to help Scott up when a flying
chair hit him in the back, knocking him to the floor as well.  "Let's get
out of here," Scott shouted to his friend and they began to make their way
toward the exit, staying near the ground and dodging brawling customers.
They just reached the door when Scott saw three uniformed men rush in.
"This is just perfect.  We're about to get thrown in jail," he said.

"Perhaps not," Rood answered him.  "Act exactly in my manner."

The moment the police entered the fighting stopped.  "Okay, who started it
this time, Sam?" one of the officers asked.

"He did," the bouncer said, pointing to Rood as he stood by the door.

"He who?" the cop asked.  Rood stood perfectly still in the shadow by the
partially open door, his body erect, head tilted slightly back, eyes
partially closed.  Scott could see him plainly standing against the wall,
caught by the bouncer.

"He was right over there, by the door just a minute ago," Sam said in
confusion.  Scott was astounded.  He couldn't understand why the police and
the bouncer could not see his companion.

"Stand next to me and copy my stance," Rood said to him in a wind whisper.
Scott did as he was instructed, trying to perfectly mimic Rood's posture
and position.  "Now clear your mind as in meditation.  You must be focused,
centered and detached."  Scott closed his eyes and ran through the mental
exercises to center his mind.  "Good, now think of the wall behind us.
Picture it in your mind.  Notice every detail, every spot and crack.  You
must mentally become one with the wall.  You must embrace the spirit of the
wall.  You are the wall."

"He was standing next to that other guy," the bouncer continued.

"What other guy?" the cop asked as he looked around.  The bouncer seemed
thoroughly confused and began looking around the room.

"This is amazing!" Scott whispered in astonishment.

"Concentrate!" the fairy ordered.  "Let not your mind wander or you shall
be noticed."  The police began to argue with the bouncer and the other
customers who had been fighting.  "Now would be an appropriate time to
leave while they are focused elsewhere," Rood said and grabbed Scott's
hand, slowly pulling him toward the door.

Once they were back out on the street, the human was ecstatic.  "That was
fantastic!  We actually became invisible!"

"No," Rood corrected him.  "It was but a glamour.  We simply used our
energies to help them overlook us.  We were plainly visible to anyone who
knew how or where to look."

"But I've never been able to do that before."

"You have spent much time in our land, even to becoming one with us," Rood
explained.  "Despite your human blood you may learn a trick or two.
Glamour is actually one of the easiest forms of magic."

With the moment of exhilaration past, Scott suddenly snapped back to
reality.  "What's the big idea going off like that?  I nearly lost you too.
How would you have found your way back to the hotel?  Did you forget why
we're here in the first place?"

Rood hung his head, looking like a little kid receiving a scolding from his
mother.  "The man said I should go inside, that there were girls waiting
just for me."

Scott suddenly felt very guilty.  "This is a big city.  You can't just
believe everyone or do what anyone tells you."

The fairy looked up with a crooked grin.  "But you must admit, she was
amazing.  I have never seen a woman with such large..."

"Let's go."

* * *

Robin had presented his case before the council, but things were not going
well.  Lastel accused the high born of Esbereth of having mistreated the
youth delegation.  His charge was that Robin's exchange plan was only a
thinly veiled program of enslavement.  The young boys were forced to work
as servants and were treated with abuse and contempt by their masters.  The
leader of the western delegation further charged that the missing boy had
fallen into harm and that Robin was covering up for his human companions
who had all conveniently vanished.

The king assured the council and the delegates of the blue tower that
Dannemel had left of his own free will and that the humans were even now
attempting to locate him.  But when questioned as to the boys' current
condition, was he alive, was he well, Robin was unable to reply.  The
council stood behind the high king, up to a point, but even they had to
admit things did not appear well.  Everyone feared that war was looming
near on the horizon, and little could be done to prevent it.

Lastel, for his part, had done all that was possible to throw doubt and
suspicion on Robin's motives.  He had taken all preparations for severing
relations with Esbereth, the council, and the high born elves.  All of the
palace inhabitants that held allegiance to the western kingdoms were now
required to stay in the blue tower until a caravan could be arranged to
transport them back to the west.  Meanwhile, messengers on swift,
gilt-hoofed ponies departed for the west, but none arrived with replies.
This too, Lastel blamed on Robin, charging the high king with possibly
intercepting the incoming messengers.

* * *

"Can you move?" Akuta asked.  Sharon rose with some difficulty.  Her head
still throbbed and her whole body felt the effects of being thrown from the
horse when it fell, the bruises, abrasions and sore muscles all screaming
in a concert of pain.  She gritted her teeth and managed a tight nod.  At
least the morning had brought bright sunshine and a bit warmer weather,
which helped to lift her spirits.

The two of them climbed through the dense brush to the edge of the forest
and looked out on the rocky field.  There was no sign of the griffins, and
no sign of the horses or their remains.  Akuta assumed that the animals had
been ravenous and had totally devoured the poor beasts.  "We must return to
the roadway," he wind whispered to the girl.  "We cannot take the chance of
losing our way in this forest.  Yet if the griffins are still in the area
we may not be able to reach the road."

Sharon whispered as quietly as possible, "I don't see them.  Maybe they
left last night."

"Listen," Akuta said.  The woman could hear nothing but the soft breeze
blowing the tree limbs overhead.  "A rider approaches," he explained.  In a
short time she too could hear the staccato pounding of hoof beats.  A
moment later a lone man in a bright blue cape rounded the distant hills
heading west along the road.  He moved with unnatural swiftness causing
Sharon to wonder what strange kind of magic was involved.  "He rides a
messenger pony," Akuta said in answer to her unasked question.  "These are
almost the fastest animals in Tuatha, second only to unicorns."

"Faster than a griffin?" she asked, keeping her eyes on the swiftly passing
man and horse.

"I should say the fastest land animals," Akuta qualified his statement.

Suddenly a piercing scream was heard and a large, flying cat swooped down
out of the sky, diving for the rider.  Sharon ducked her head, squeezing
her eyes shut tightly, knowing there was no chance of escape and not
wishing to see the attack.  The griffin's claws reached out, snatching the
rider delicately from the back of the pony and slowly sailing back into the
air with the man dangling beneath.  Morbid curiosity winning out, Sharon
opened her eyes to witness what happened next.  In doing so, she gasped in
shock to see Akuta standing in the field, away from the trees and in full
view, open to attack.  Akuta swiftly fitted an arrow to his bow and took
aim on the approaching beast.  As it banked before the trees, its wide
wings catching the warm air currents, Akuta let fly his arrow.  The barbed
shaft flew up to meet the airborne predator, striking it in the chest, only
missing the dangling man by inches.  The cat screamed in pain, releasing
its victim and turning for the hills.  The man fell ten feet to the ground
as the animal suddenly lurched and tumbled downward.  Akuta ran to help the
man, grabbing him around the shoulders and quickly pulling him back toward
the trees.  Even as they reached the wood they could hear the cries of
other griffins circling overhead.

Sharon and Akuta helped the man back to the area where they had camped
overnight and the doctor instantly began examining the victim.  The
griffin's claws had managed to grab the cape and tunic only causing
superficial scratches on the man's back.  He had a few scrapes and bruises
and a badly sprained ankle from his fall, but appeared otherwise alright.

"My lord, I thank you for my life," the man said to his rescuer.  "My name
is Pardoo.  It is yours in payment.  Never have I seen such excellent
bowmanship, to strike a moving target like that and miss me by so little

Akuta looked down in embarrassment.  "My lord, I was trying to save you the
pain of a horrible death at the jaws of the predator.  It was not the
griffin for which I aimed, but you."

Sharon and Pardoo both looked up in surprise.  Slowly the newcomer's face
creased with a wicked grin.  "Then fortunate am I that you were a poor
marksman in this instance."

Akuta asked the man the reason for his journey and his great speed.  He
admitted he was coming from Esbereth and was carrying a message to the
western kingdoms from Lastel of the blue tower, but he would say nothing
more except to stress its urgency and his need to be on his way.  Sharon
tried to get some news of Esbereth from him, but he seemed strangely
reticent to say anything.  He then asked their destination.  "We seek the
land of dwarves," Akuta responded quickly.  A bit too quickly, Sharon

"Whatever our destinations," Pardoo said, "We shall not easily reach them.
The griffins shall not permit us to follow the roadway further."

"We must," Akuta insisted.  "To find the land of dwarves we must travel
west until the roadway divides north and south.  There is no other way."

"Ah, but there is," the messenger from the blue tower contradicted.  "I
have journeyed in these lands many times.  The roadway does divide a short
distance ahead, but we may eventually reach the same land by traversing
this forest.  If we can find the southern trail, a wide pathway that
journeys through these woods, we shall be much closer to your goal if not

Both Sharon and Akuta had an uneasy feeling about this.  The man seemed
strangely comfortable with helping them on their way when but a short time
ago he was more anxious to be able to complete his own mission.  Akuta
convinced himself that he was only suspicious of the man's motives because
of their past dealing with the western kingdoms.  Sharon, on the other
hand, had no explanation for her mistrust, except that she felt oddly
uncomfortable when Pardoo looked at her.  He was an attractive man, closer
to her height than were most of the tall, palace elves, and his bronzed
skin color and yellow hair made him look more like a California surfer than
an inhabitant of the fairy world.  Perhaps that was the reason for her

After a day of resting and recuperating from minor injuries, Pardoo and
Sharon were ready to move on.  Akuta took one last look out at the rocky
plain and the roadway beyond.  He could see two huge griffins slowly
tearing apart the carcass of some large animal on the distant hill, and
knew that direction was indeed barred to them.  Taking his long sword in
hand and using it as a machete, the big man slowly cut a path through the
forest to the south, the doctor and the westerner limping along and
following closely in his wake.  The traveling was extremely slow and
tiresome, the temperature under the trees slowly rising to a humid, almost
summer heat.  As night came on the little band had no idea how far they had
come, or how much farther they had yet to go.  Akuta could tell that Sharon
was rapidly tiring, and so decided to stop and make camp for the night.
The westerner insisted that they continue and made light of what he called
frivolous human frailty, but Akuta was adamant.  Pardoo finally quit
pushing when the tall guard suggested he continue on alone and unarmed.

The next morning Sharon awoke suddenly, feeling a hand resting on her
thigh.  She jumped and sat up quickly to find Pardoo kneeling beside her.
"Where's Akuta?" she asked, looking about nervously.

"Fear not," the fairy said to her in a soft voice.  "He has thoughtfully
withdrawn to allow us the privacy we need."

"What are you talking about?  Privacy for what?" she asked, her heart
beginning to pound in fear.

"He cared not to watch while we coupled," Pardoo said as he reached for her

"We what?!" she said as she quickly scrambled to her feet and tried to back
away from him.

"I desire you and I shall take you as I would an animal I wanted.  Pretend
no airs with me.  You are a human.  You should feel privilege to have my
seed," the man said as he slowly approached her.

"Akuta!" she shouted as she backed into a tree.  She knew the Tuathans
tended to be much stronger than humans.  She doubted if she would be able
to fight him off if he attacked her.

"Shout not for that one," Pardoo said, pressing up against her.  "I know
him.  He is a reversal.  He would rather have my shaft than your well."

He leaned closer, trying to force a kiss as Sharon closer her eyes and
struggled.  Then suddenly he was gone.  She opened her eyes again to see
her attacker lying on his back a short distance away, her friend standing
over her, a booted foot on his chest and the blade of a long sword at his

"Are you safe?" Akuta asked anxiously.  "Were you harmed by this?"

"No," Sharon said as she relaxed, allowing the tense fear to flow from her

"Shall I slay him?" Akuta asked slowly.

"You need me to find the dwarf kingdom," Pardoo said, bargaining for his
life.  "I am your only guide."

Akuta calmly put his sword away, seeming to totally forget the man on the
ground.  "I have found us some food," he told Sharon.  "Come."  He put his
arm protectively around her and led her off through the trees.  Pardoo
climbed to his feet and began to follow them.  They had taken but a few
steps when Akuta whirled around, drawing his sword with lightning speed and
bring the sharp blade rapidly up between the westerner's legs, stopping
just as the metal reached the elf's crotch.  Pardoo instantly froze, his
legs straddling the sword and his eyes wide with fear.  "Remember you
always that I am a reversal.  By your word I would rather have your shaft.
If you annoy her further I shall have your shaft.  I shall remove it with
my sword so that I may have a keepsake by which to remember you by."






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