The Elori – Part V

DAY 4:

Darkness. Impenetrable darkness. A vague, amorphous mist hovering over a shadowed vale. A screech; the fluttering of a crow’s wings. Then, a light. A clarion sounds. A regiment of cavalry, adorned in the finest armor, and bedecked in cloaks of purple, scarlet and gold, ride into view. The leader stops with a raise of his hand and surveys the dead valley with keen eyes. Before long, he mutters something inaudible to his men and beckons them to follow him into the vale. They depart. As they go, the seemingly dead valley grows verdant; where once were withered plants, untended paths and mournful trees, there sprang up a new variety of greenery. It was as if, by some device, the true appearance of the valley had been concealed, and now, after coming close, its true nature had been betrayed to them.

The leader stops at a crossroads of the path and again says something indistinct. Fragments of, “Protect the boy” and “Watch for trouble”, can be heard, but even these are vague, and wouldn’t properly register to any listener on receipt of them.

Then, there was a flash and a cry; in an instant, the leader and his men dissolved into nothingness by some wave of energy which had passed over them. Their remaining horses stir, reel, and gallop away at a sprint. All goes dark, and the misty nothingness returns.

Then, another scream.

Kilgalan awoke in a cold sweat.

The sun had not yet fully risen in the eastern horizon, and his sleeping room, consequently, was bathed in a peculiar twilight that contributed to the uneasy feeling he had had on first entering the hovel. Rubbing his eyes, he stood, stretched for a brief moment, and then went out to the main room. He found Marthadok still sitting there, staring detachedly at the fire, his eyes appearing empty, perceiving nothing. Kilgalan waved his hand in front of the man’s face, but nothing registered. Then, an idea came to his mind, and he crept surreptitiously towards the door and unbarred it quietly.

“Your duty still stands, Kilgalan.”

Kilgalan huffed and said, “My duty to the people who did this to me? I owe them nothing.”

“No. Your duty to King Varthos. He expects us to return with the weapon in time, and that is what we must do. Grab the haversack over there and sling it round your shoulder; we leave in five minutes.

Marthadok left his seat and donned his boots and cloak, fastening his brooch to his breast. Kilgalan did as he was told, and retrieved the haversack; Marthadok did the same with another of the same sacks that lay in a corner by his boots.

“Ready?” he asked.

“Yes. But how will we know where to go? I still don’t remember where the weapon is yet.”

“We will set out, and pray that we get the direction correct when you do remember. Surely you had some sort of dream last night to give you an idea of the location?”

“I had a dream,” Kilgalan replied, “but it had nothing to do with a weapon. I saw a man with a group of cavalry riding into a valley, coming to a crossroads, and then being dissolved by some wave of energy. Then everything went dark, I heard a scream, and I awoke. I don’t see any references to the weapon in that. Do you?”

“No. But your memories are returning. That was the day we brought you to the Elori. Commander Felix, ignoring our exhortations, rode forward a little too far, and the weapon killed him and his men. Fortunately, the other cavalry that had remained with me and you to guard us did not go forward with him, and I uttered the password to enter the Elori’s capitol city. This augurs more dreams of your memories to come, Kilgalan. You will remember the location in a short time, I think. For now, we depart. The king has generously provided us with two steeds for our journey and some additional supplies at the barbican. Let us go.”

They exited the hovel, went down the main street that ran south through Garthabad Imlor, came out into the bailey, and then arrived at the barbican. Two soldiers, armed with halberds, delivered the horses to them. They mounted, snapped the reins, and were off.

Kilgalan had never rode a horse before, and, frankly, he was sorry he hadn’t. He couldn’t help laughing as the wind played across his face, whipped his hair about like a rick of straw in a tornado, and billowed his traveling cloak out behind him. He felt like some valiant knight, riding to do battle with a fearsome monster the likes of which were no match for a warrior of his skill… But his dreams of grandiose, though, were quenched almost instantly; for as he pushed his horse harder, Marthadok cried, “Enough, Kilgalan! Enough!”

Kilgalan, looking immensely annoyed, pulled his horse back and came in level with Marthadok. “What is it? I was just having a little fun!”

“A little fun at the expense of your horse! The beasts are hearty, but not invincible. Save its energy for when you’ll need it the most. That is, when we discover the direction that we must take to find the weapon.”

“Where shall we go until then?”

“North, towards the Elori. I suspect the weapon will be near them, and can’t think of any better direction. Our enemy lies to the south, and the West and East are crawling with bandits and ruffians.”

“North it is, then!” cried Kilgalan bravely, and he made to snap the reins again, but a severe look from Marthadok removed all desire to take that course of action.

TO BE CONTINUED…

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1 Comment

  1. May 13, 2011 at 7:43 am

    This was one of the best pieces of writing that I have ever seen from you. I can’t get past how well you put the reader into the story, as if they are in it themselves.

    One thing that I didn’t understand very well: the fact that Marthadok assumed that Kilgalan had a dream with a clue of some sort to help find this “weapon”. I don’t know, it might of flowed better if it was possibly asked as a question “Did any of your memories return last night?”
    “Well, I had this dream…”
    It’s just that specifically saying that “dream” sounded planned by an author.
    Not to say that it didn’t already flow well, because it was great, I just think that it could be a tiny bit better.But, another nit picky point, so you might not want to take heed to my words at all…

    I must admit, my curiosity is thoroughly pricked about what this “weapon” could be.


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