The Elori – Part II

“Your name?” Kilgalan asked as they skirted a few streets in the semi-darkness of the waning light.

“Name?” the man said, bemused as if it was a queer question to put to someone.

“Yes. I’d like to know your name. I think I should know who saved me from that brute!”

There was a pause in which they turned a corner. The man beckoned Kilgalan into an alcove in an alleyway and said quietly, “What good does my name do you?”

“Nothing. But to whom shall I attribute the sparing of my life?”

“You shall attribute it to no one. I am taking you to my hovel, and for that you do not need my name.”

“And what’s so special about me, that you came to the tavern just to take me to your hovel?”

“You know about the weapon.”

This man was making absolutely no sense to Kilgalan. Scratching his head, and turning nervously towards the exit of the alleyway, the boy said, “Is this some sort of a joke that Tharmae is playing on me? She enjoys making sport of me, in case you didn’t know…”

“This is no laughing matter. You know about the Elori. You know about the weapon.”

“No, I don’t!”

“Subconsciously, you do,” the man said darkly. There was a sound of footsteps echoing just around the corner, and the man drew Kilgalan into the recess with him, covering the boy with his cloak.

“Why the secrecy? These are friendly streets.”

“Garthabad Imlor may be a castle under the benevolent rule of King Varthos, but the streets are never safe. Unfriendly ears are ever attuned to the voices of their enemies.”

“I have no enemies,” was Kilgalan’s timid reply.

“Tell that to the drunkard in the tavern.”

Slowly, the footsteps echoed away down the lane just beyond the alley, and then there was silence. When the man was certain that the nighttime stroller was out of earshot, he said to Kilgalan, “If you call up the memory of the weapon from your mind, you will remember it.”

“I think I would remember something that significant!”

“You do. But they buried it deep within your mind so that you could not retrieve it until the time was right.”

“‘They?'”

“The Elori.”

Another silence. This time they could hear a few raucous shouts issuing from just beyond the alley. A group of men, obviously having just retired from the tavern, passed the entryway, carousing and laughing and slamming steins together as they continued to imbibe their beer. Fortunately, they paid no heed to the alley, and passed without incident. Once they could be heard only distantly, the man turned to Kilgalan and said, “Do you remember them now?”

“The Elori? No. Do they dwell in this castle?”

“Most certainly not. They inhabit the forests of the northernmost realms, for they seek peace and not the tumult of life under King Varthos.”

“Then I do not know them. I’ve never left this castle in my whole life!”

The man slammed his fist against the alcove wall and said, as a man who his trying in vain to check his discontentment, “I told them to make it easy for you to recall your memories. They said that, in a few minutes, you would be able to remember! I should have known – should have anticipated this. Trust the Elori? Why was I so foolish?”

“Trust the Elori with what?”

“Providing us with the knowledge of the weapon when the time was right. You are the source of that knowledge; they set it in to you, so that you could tell me in our greatest need.”

“Why me?”

“Our enemies would not suspect a peasant.”

“So you just used me then, is that it?” Kilgalan said, his anger rising. “Did I tell you that you could do this?”

“We did not bother with consent. The fate of an empire is more important than your personal preferences.”

“Why did I need to hold this information, though? Why not have the Elo-ryry, or whatever it is you call them, just send the weapon here?”

“Send it? You cannot just send it! Our enemies could intercept it on its way here, and that would prove disastrous; no, the Elori gave us this information so that two companions, both of whom appear inconspicuous – that is, us -, could go and retrieve the weapon without detection. We would leave in the morning, if the Elori had simply performed the memory-infusion process a little better.”

“Memory infusion?” Kilgalan asked.

“Yes. I won’t go into to details, as it is rather gruesome, but I can inform you, at least, that you screamed in anguish. A lot.”

“Are there any… Side affects?”

“One. Sometimes your consciousness will shut down for a few seconds; you will operate normally, but your subconscious takes control of your actions until you come to.”

“Wonderful. That explains why I’ve gotten into a few fights at the local taverns lately.”

“I apologize for that,” the man said. “But an ailment like yours is worth it if we can save a kingdom as a result.” The man stepped out of the alcove, surveyed the alley, ran with light and swift feet towards the entryway, looked in both directions, and beckoned Kilgalan to follow. The boy obeyed. The two companions crept secretively down another street and then turned to the left, passing several gloomy buildings before coming to a dilapidated hovel on their right. The man gestured towards this hovel and said, “My home. Humble, but adequate for the night. You will sleep here.”

“But I must get home! Mother will be worried about me…”

“You have no mother, Kilgalan. Don’t try to deceive me. You sleep in the concealed places of streets with naught but the rats for your company. Inside; quickly! Our enemies may be watching.”

Kilgalan didn’t move. The man made for the door, but stopped and turned when he noticed the boy’s stubborn disobedience. “Come, boy!”

“Your name first. I will not lodge with a stranger.”

The man stood still for a moment, his breathing full and furious. After a time, though, he said severely, “It is Marthadok. Now come.”

TO BE CONTINUED…

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