The Lost Vale

Chapter 12:


An explosion shakes the city walls Irix-Nilbun stood on top of the battlements, the wind biting through the visor that hid most of his face, making him seem almost inhuman to the beholder. He wore full plate mail armour, and a breastplate coloured between green and blue. The armour was antique, and the breastplate showed signs that it had once contained a cloth emblem or badge but some time back this cloth had been ripped off. To the left of him was a man of similar height, dressed in an identical uniform. Both guards even clutched identical cruel looking hammers. If not for the fact that their faces beneath the masks were completely different they could have been twins.

"By the Triumvirate," said Irix, "Another tide has passed and nothing. Not a thing to enter in the journal. I could get used to coming up with new and inventive ways of writing, 'Nothing happened' in the logbook, even for the measly five emerald coins an hour."

The other warrior, Xaron, nodded in agreement, "There's no denying it, Irix, it feels odd. I keep expecting to find some troll's fire gems that they've placed down on the ground while using their damned spells to make them invisible."

"Joran's father went that way didn't he?"

Xaron nodded, "Damn shame. He was a fine commander. Joran named his sword after the father. Talk about…" Xaron looked to the left, and in a quieter, more subdued voice said, "Shut up. Here he comes."

A third, similarly armed and attired figure marched towards the two guards. When he reached their sides he stopped, stomped on the ground, and placed his hand on his helmet in salute.

"No need to stand on ceremony for us," said Irix.

"Indeed," said Joran, "Perhaps you are correct. Very well First Blades Irix-Athania and Xaron-Adaria, I am to relieve you when your shift ends in precisely five more drops."

Irix smiled behind his helmet at what he thought was this pompous young warrior who followed the rules to the letter.

The militaristic Joran nodded, "Requesting your entry for the logbook."

Irix said, "No events occurred worth mentioning."

Just then, about thirty feet below the three Zealan guardsmen, there was an explosion. The explosion was so large that it reached and singed the gargoyle in front of Irix.

Joran remained motionless, and joined the other two in standing at alert, watching as two figures were flung through the air by the force of the explosion… two figures who had not been at the gates of Traustumbrae before the explosion occurred.

Finally Joran broke the tense silence by saying, "Gentlemen, I would hardly call that no events worth mentioning."

"Do you see them?" said Devon, to the old hag.

Mystell gazed into the crystal ball and in a hoarse voice said, "I see them." The vision had calmed her, but she was still very shaky and erratic.

"Where are they?" asked Cyrrus.

"The city. Wait... I see they will be led into great danger. At least one of them will..."

Beren was the first to stand. He grinned, then broke into a manic laugh. This laugh gave way into an ecstatic cry of, "That was GREAT!"

Darion was lying face first in a square bundle of hay, slowly sinking into it. Beren could only hear his muffled voice say, "You meant for that to happen?"

"No," said Beren, "I must admit I did not anticipate that result. It would appear that sorcery spells do not work quite the way they did back home. But no matter, it got us here in one piece."

Darion was now on his feet, and muttered, "Yes, but now whoever lives here knows we are here."

For the first time, Darion surveyed the city walls. They were of the same stone his beloved Tenebrae had been made of, except for the fact there were burning runes embedded in the front of the wall. There was also a heavy iron portcullis in front of the gate, barring their only access to the city.

It was only then, looking up, Darion saw the evil looking helmets of the guards…

"Surrender immediately," said one of them, pointing an evil looking hammer down at the warrior.

Darion wondered what a warrior could do with a hammer up there, besides trying to throw it on the warrior's skull. Even then it would be unwieldy. He remained defiant.

"Do you surrender?" called the Zealan.

"I see little purpose in surrendering," said Darion, "because you are up there, and I am down here. I have a magic-user on my side, and besides if you wished to fight me you would have to come down from there…"

Darion winced as he heard the sound of a hammer hitting his breastplate. True enough, there was a dent in the breastplate.

"I should warn you," Irix said, "that these warhammers are enchanted by the High Cleric, whom we can summon to our aid by calling his name, and he enchanted them so that by sheer force of will alone we can throw them at our enemies and never miss. That was aimed at your body, and to do you no harm. If you do not desist, the next hammer we throw shall crack you skull."

Darion nodded, realising his tactical appraisal of the situation had been in error somewhat.

"Furthermore," said Irix, "the maces work as wands of holding, as you are now finding out."

Sure enough, neither Darion or Beren could move their arms or legs using their own will as the gates of the city were opened and five guardsmen marched the two Pagans into the city…

Darion noticed several things about the magic he was held in thrall with. First of all, he was moving against his own will. Second of all, he could still speak. Third of all, the guards were silencing all of his questions. Darion noticed that the buildings of the town were made primarily out of wood, while the outer wall had been made of stone. He noticed various signposts as he was led down what he presumed was the main street. There was a tankard, a drinking establishment he presumed, a sword, a trainer or weapon smith, a shield, an armourer he mused, wandering if perhaps the armourer could repair his dented armour. There was a food store, with a loaf of bread as its sign, and various residences without signs. At the end of the street was a large green building stone building that the guards were apparently leading them to.

Upon uttering a word of command, the two giant doors to this stone building, clearly the centre of the town, opened, and the seven walked inside. The door slammed shut behind them.

"Where are we?" asked Beren.

"Silence fool!" said Irix, the leader.

They marched down several hallways until they reached a smaller set of double doors. Knocking on the door, Darion heard a voice behind the door say, "Enter."

The lead guard opened and held the door as the other four guardsmen and the two Pagans stepped inside. Beren, looking around the room they entered, which was at least twenty feet wide and forty feet long, centred his vision on a haughty armoured figure with blonde hair who was striding next to a stone throne. His face was wracked with worry, yet it did not change when he faced his guardsmen.

The guards bring Darion and Beren to Traust "Yes, guardsmen?" he said, without considering the group before him, "What do you want?"

The nobleman's eyes shifted from the five guards to the two strangers before him.

"High Warrior, these two strangers appeared outside the city gates, milord," said one guard.

"Aye milord! 'Twas clearly troll magic. They appeared with a fiery explosion that took us by surprise. We quickly subdued them with the enchanted hammers of the three."

The High Warrior rolled his eyes at the mention of the hammers, but listened without audible comment.

"Methinks," said a third guard, "they were troll spies. They've been made to look human, and were to be snuck into the city without us noticing. But their magic went wrong…"

The High Warrior then interjected, shaking his head, "I do not think you are correct in assuming these are trolls. For one, the trolls, to our knowledge, have been unable to perfect the art of shape-changing. For two, troll magic does not ever go 'wrong'. Lastly, they do not look like they belong in Traustumbrae. Now could you please let them speak?"

"Yes, Lord Traust," said the guardsman, subdued.

"Dismissed," said Traust.

The guardsmen left, realising that with the power of the hammers the High Warrior was in no danger.

"Now," said Traust, turning to Darion, "what is your name warrior?"

"Darion," said the warrior.

"Greetings Darion. I am the High Warrior of Traustumbrae. Lord Traust-Naggerik"

Beren coughed slightly, but Traust ignored him.

"I address you as a fellow warrior. Will you tell me of your purpose in Traustumbrae?"

Darion looked at Beren, who looked back at him, obviously waiting for him to speak first.

"We are not from here. We come from a land on the other side of the mountains."

"Ridiculous!" said Traust, "there is no other land past the mountains! Not since the end of the Pagans, who could not control the elements they worshipped, and destroyed all but those who were in my village."

Darion opened his mouth to protest, but there was a flash of light, and a grey robed man appeared before them, not only startling the two Pagans but the High Warrior also. His look of surprise soon turned to a frown, "Snik-Poh! I have told you before not to enter my chambers with your magic. Be gone!"

Snik-Poh enters the scene "Apologies, High Warrior, but I sensed the presence of foreign powers before you."

Snik-Poh pointed at Beren, "Him!"

Beren asked, "Me?"

"I wish to take this one," said Snik-Poh.

"Very well, High Cleric. He is yours to interrogate. I shall deal with the warrior here."

Before Darion could protest, both the High Cleric and Beren were gone.

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