DAY 7: The Elori – Part VII

Kilgalan felt an overwhelming sense of shock and confusion inundate him. His breathing grew heavy, and few stray tears slid forlornly down his flushed cheeks. “Wh… Why?” he said feebly. His voice quavered, and a pleading expression came over his face. “How could they do it?” His voice evoked such pity in Marthadok that the man, who was undemonstrative at best, laid a tender hand upon that lad’s shoulder and said, “I’m sorry, Kilgalan. I truly am. If it’s any consolation to you, I made my disapprobation known to the Elori king, but he would not heed my exhortations. He is a stubborn man, set so firmly in his ways that I clould not prevail upon him otherwise. Forgive me for failing your father and mother.”

“But why? What would the Elori gain from murder?”

Thunder. A flash of lightning split the expanse and cast a sudden brightness upon the wood. The slighest drizzel began, auguring a dreadful downpour, and Marthadok said, “Come. The sooner we get out of this forest, the sooner I will tell you.”

“Why the haste?”

“Have you ever been in a storm like this one will be, boy? If lightning strikes the trees, they will be lit ablaze; if the fire spreads to other trees, the whole forest could go up in a conflagration! If we move apace, we should be fine. The farther we are from this wood when the lightning draws near, the better.”

Kilgalan did not question Marthadok. Grasping the latter’s hand, the former recovered his footing and mouted his horse, galloping with celerity after his companion. The trees passed them in a flash, extending their twisted boughs to snag and ensare them as they fleeted by. Some were almost successful; thrice Kilgalan was wounded by scraping his cheek upon one of the quasi-claws, and Marthadok had suffered his own injuries in a smilar manner. In spite of the forest’s attempts to hinder them, they pressed forward with dogged persistence, and eventually came out on the western side of the wood. Galloping towards a rock outcropping, wherein a camp could be settled beneath an awning-like projection of rock, Kilgalan and Marthadok removed tents and supplies from their haversacks and set about getting a fire lit.

“I’ll procure the wood. Busy yourself with pitching the tents,” Marthadok enjoined. He drew his hood over his face and scrambled out of the protective recess into the howling tempest. A terrible wind was screeching now, passing like a horde of beasts over the fields and through the leaves of the trees. The lightning was frequent and terrifying, and the thunder that complemented it even moreso. It was as if there was a fierce battle raging all around Kilgalan, an eternal conflict between the forces of nature; he found himself covering his ears and wincing as the tempest battered him into submission, his strength fading from him as if siphoned by some evil device. He closed his eyes and called out in an agonized voice:  “Marthadok! Stop the torment! Stop the torment!”

It was not, in fact, the storm that did this to him, but the painful return of his memories. Slowly, though he tried to combat it, unconsciousness came upon him, and he was once again an inhabitant of a dark realm. Then, a spot of light punctuated the monotony of the darkness, and he could see a large chamber, with a chair positioned at the absolute center. He could feel himself struggling against two vice-like hands which were dragging him in the direction of the center-chair, could hear himself crying distantly, “Murderers! Murderers! Let me go!”

“There must have been something else you could have done?” he heard Marthadok’s voice inquire imploringly. “Surely King Varthos would not condone murder!”

“I care not what King Varthos condones!” he heard the same voice of the man on the throne reply. “I have been given a duty, and I shall accomplish it without regret or reservation. Every power at my disposal has been at work for years to achieve this end. If two miserable lives insist on getting my way, I will remove them. So it was with Kilgalan’s parents. Learn your place in the scheme of things as well, Marthadok!”

“What end justifies murder?”

“Every end! When we are given orders, we conduct them. That is the way it is done, Marthadok!”

“King Varthos never ordered you to kill, he ordered you to protect Garthabad Imlor!”

Kilgalan felt the iron grips precipitate him into the center chair; he saw the two guards, emotionless, bind him hand and foot around the chair, their forehead furrowed as they did so. The man on the throne thus approached him and said, with a patronizing smile, “Are you ready, boy?”

“Are you for my eventual revenge?” Kilgalan retorted.

“More death will not solve anything, Kilgalan,” Marthadok said softly, whispering in the boy’s ear. “Do not do your parents a dishonor in such a manner.”

“Listen to Marthadok, Kilgalan. He is wise, and knows when he is wrong and when he is right.”

Marthadok cast an edgy look in the man’s direction, but sighed and let his anger subside. Kilgalan’s eyes traveled to Marthadok and pleaded earnestly with him, but subtly, Marthadok shook his head and mouthed, “No. I can do nothing.”

“Now, Kilgalan…” the man began, waving the guards off and donning a pair of shining gloves. “What I am about to do will hurt; I feel it my duty to warn you of that. You will feel the peculiar sensation that someone is puncturing your skull with a thousand butcher’s knives, but worry not. I guarantee that you will not remember any of this, and that you will be allowed to go back to Garthabad Imlor and live life as normal until you are needed for the castle’s defense.”

“Normal? I have no relatives to go to now, and no parents to tend to me in my youth. Shall I have to fend for myself?”

“Yes. It will be good for you in the long run, I assure you. My parents died when I was eight.”

The man placed his hands upon Kilgalan’s head and said, “Are you ready?”

Kilgalan spoke once before the infusion began. “Murderer.”

Then, darkness.

Without warning, light.

The tempest returned with the splitting sound of lightning. Hovering over Kilgalan, with eyes brimming over with concern, was Marthadok, several logs tucked under his arm. “Are you alright, Kilgalan?”

“Yes, I’m fine.”

“Another dream?”

“Yes. I was led to a chair, and that man – that man who sat on the throne – he was there, and set his hands on me with a strange pair of gloves. Then he asked me if I was ready, and I called him a murderer, and everything went dark. Then I woke up. I cannot bear to do this anymore, Marthadok! I am in pain every second I dream.”

“The infusion was never a perfected process. As the memories come back, there will be pain. It will most likely get worse before it gets better. It’s rather like going through withdrawal.”

“Was that man on the throne… Was he… One of the Elori?”

“Yes. Their king.”

“Then why did he do it? Tell me frankly, Marthadok; why did he do it? Why did the Elori kill my parents.”

There was a pause. Marthadok lowered his eyes, withdrawing his hood and running a hand across his soaked hair. He said, as if ashamed of admitting it, “Because they wanted you, Kilgalan, and no one was going to stand in their way.”

TO BE CONTINUED…

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