Wandering Through Terran–Chapter 15

January 18, 2010

Revised.

Link…

Chapter Fifteen: Truth or Dare

Where the Fugitives Reveal

Themselves and the Games at Play…

It was nearly sunset when the rest of the elves returned from scouting out the area around Aven and collecting information. Viktor and Galic had joined them, providing details about the area that the elves found quite helpful. By that time, Merf and Patracolus had awakened and joined Zev with the elves at the fire and were discussing the recent events. Merf looked at the scouts curiously as Marizan took a seat with the rest of the group.

Galic and Viktor have proven to be invaluable resources in our reconnaissance,” he said. “We have confirmed the presence of a Goblin Lord within Aven, likely operating out of the Palace or the Guardian Citadel. Likely the dungeons. His influence is strong, slowly forcing a crippling decay throughout the city.”

I didn’t notice it until we went back today,” Viktor said. “It snuck in. There is a shadow over the city. Everything and everybody was darker and more tired.”

I could feel it dragging on me when I entered Aven,” Zev agreed. “A parasite in the back of my mind, trying to take over.”

The Goblin Lord controls the city now,” Marizan said. “Were it not for the charms of the elves, Viktor and Galic would have fallen under his sway and alerted him to our presence when we went into the village. Events are moving much more quickly now. The time for us to plan is drawing to a close.”

So what do you plan to do?” Merf asked.

I can feel the power of the High King growing,” Marizan said. “He is stronger than he believes, more resilient and perceptive of the forces at work around him. He resists the forces pressing against him, questioning the previous decisions he made due to naiveté. He has even unconsciously cast a protective aura around himself and those closest to him. If we hurry and strike against the Goblin Lord now, I believe we can free Aven from his influence.”

The group remained silent as they considered their choices and what they implied. The elves were grim and accepting, ready to complete their mission. The men, however, were deeply troubled by the idea and thought of the consequences. Each for their own reasons, but still troubled.

How do you propose we get into the city and to the High King?” Zev asked quietly. “If we do not prepare well, it could prove to be a difficult proposition.”

I presume that both the Knights of Duramar and the Rangers will have their ways of getting into the Palace unnoticed,” Marizon stated. “Our best chance is to get to the High King unmolested and reveal the Goblin Lord to him without fail.”

Do we know exactly where the Goblin Lord is?” Patracolus asked. “Or how to locate him?”

We’ve felt his presence,” Kaylee said. “He resides in the Palace of Aven now. His vile influence spreads out from there. His exact location remains hidden from us, but it would be a small challenge to track down his location.”

All we need is a way into the Palace,” Marizan said. “We should be prepared for most events.”

There is another matter,” Merf said. He held up a sheet of paper. “I do not know for certain what this is, but Urza kept this hidden with his communications with the goblins.”

Marizan took it gently from the wizard, looking at the sheet closely. He sniffed, pondering its meaning. Staring at it, he frowned.

There is something written here,” he said. “Something in an ink that does not appear visible.”

Do you have a lemon?” Zev asked.

Kaylee tossed him the fruit, which he promptly cut into smaller pieces. Marizan handed him the paper and he proceeded to examine it closely before rubbing the lemons on one side. After it was coated, he held it over the fire.

The juice and the heat should allow us to read whatever’s been written here,” Zev said. He watched as a set of characters emerged on the page. “And here we go… Looks like ancient runes of some kind… Not a set I’m familiar with.”

Marizan looked over his shoulder and frowned.

It is a summoning incantation of an ancient type that I do not entirely recognize,” the elf observed. “It’s a means of awakening a dragon. The goblins wouldn’t permit him to cast this spell. This Urza you mentioned: he is a Guardian of Sorcery, like you?”

Far older and of a more advanced discipline than I,” Merf confirmed. “If he’s planning to awaken the dragons, his treachery runs far deeper than we expected. If the goblins did not wish him to summon a dragon, then who did?”

Rumor has it that he’s left Aven,” Viktor said. “He departed right after we left to track down you guys. Him and general Cyrus are both gone.”

This does not bode well for us,” Marizan concluded. “We have to destroy this incantation and hope Urza had a chance to memorized it. By no means should Urza be allowed to summon a dragon. A Goblin Lord is something we can overcome, but a dragon might prove to be a bit much for Terran. We must hurry.”

puup

Walking with the Lady Ashley of Sargean, Sydney felt quite out of sorts. With the day’s diplomacy done and recorded, he invited her to join him on a walk through the palace gardens. She agreed eagerly, but still seemed surprised at the request. She had shed the ornate dress she arrived in for a simpler red one, one she was clearly more comfortable in. Both letting their internal organs get settled back in their proper places, they moved quietly through the rows of flowers as the sun dropped in the sky.

We were quite sadden to hear about your father,” she said. “My father often spoke kindly of him and regretted the breach that occurred between them.”

Thank you, Ashley,” Sydney replied. She held his hand as they walked, matching his somber pace. “It has been a strange time since his passing and your kinds words are helpful.”

Forgive my asking, but is there something else happening? I sense a great darkness in Aven.”

I feel it always. It has spread everywhere. In some ways I failed. I learned of a plot against my life and I reacted foolishly.”

You refer to the edicts in regards to the Rangers? I admit I did question those as well.”

There is more to it than that.”

She stopped, frowning. He turned to her, a sad and tired look on his face. Reacting on impluse, she wrapped him in a hug. At first he did not respond to her tight embrace. As much as he longed for it, it came unexpected and in some ways unwanted. Then his own instincts took over and he held her close.

It is happening too quickly,” he whispered. “Much too quickly. I’m sorry. I should be stronger—”

Don’t worry,” she replied. “I’m here.”

Snap!

A moment passed after the snap of the twig before Sydney realized it was not one of his guards that made the noise. He glanced around quickly, seeing the shapes moving through the shadows. He looked to Ashley with a grim look on his face.

I want you to run,” he whispered. “When I turn, run. You’ll have a chance to run and get help.”

Not a chance,” she whispered back. “I got a few tricks of my own.”

He nodded, spinning away from her and drawing his sword. She spun the opposite direction, throwing a knife hidden within her sleeve. The knife was caught in air by a thin and wiry hand. Sydney’s own weapon met a blade in the air. The hooded figure behind it stood stoically.

You are very well trained, your highness,” Zev said with a smile. The Ranger stepped back and regarded the High King calmly, throwing back his hood. “I do think it would prove to be a foolish mistake to make a move against you.” He dropped to a knee and bowed his head. He held his sword out to Sydney. “I am Zev Tenwar of Aven, Ranger. I come to on urgent matters. My sword and life are yours. Do what you will with them.”

With that, the rest of the men around Sydney and Ashley dropped to their knees and bowed their heads. The two young monarchs looked at the gathered group in confusion. Merf held out the knife hilt first to the princess. Turning back to Zev, Sydney frowned.

You’re the Ranger who came here yesterday,” he said.

Yes, my liege,” Zev replied. “I came here on a secret mission of my own choosing, to defeat the Goblin Lord I revived at Calla Leto.”

Goblin Lord?” Ashley asked. Then her face scrunched as she realized something. “Sydney, that darkness I mentioned. I can feel it weakening.”

Very slowly it pales and weakens in the presence of the elves,” Marizan said. “Our powers can only weaken it with some effectiveness. It knows we are here now. We must hurry.” He stood and faced Sydney. “I am Marizan, Captain of the Wirevines, the Elite Guard of the Elvish Royal Army. From our lands we saw Terran was in danger, and felt the need for our return.”

I know of the elves,” Sydney said. “We have long respected your kind. The elves are an honorable race that have long been trusted throughout Terran. And I can tell you are no exception to that. I would at least see you prove your words. Which is why I will ask you to lead me to this Goblin Lord so that the claims made here may be proven.”

Of course, my liege.”

puup

The Goblin Lord had taken a hidden chamber in the lowest dungeons of the dungeons belonging to the Knights of Duramar. With the thief they had taken prisoner kept in a nearby cell, he paced around the area angrily. He could sense the elves as they approached and feared them. Ever since they arrived in the forest two nights before, he could feel their presence weakening and challenging the power of his own. Now they had made themselves known and closed in on him.

Hey!” the prisoner shouted. He tried to ignore the incessant shouting of the captured thief outside, but now his ability to even do that was failing. “My headache isn’t nearly as bad now! You losing it or somethin’?”

The Goblin Lord did not answer as he heard the footsteps coming down the steps towards the dungeon. He looked out to see the High King, flanked by a group of men and elves. Spotting the creature, the High King stopped.

You’re the beast is poisoning this land against me?” Sydney demanded.

I am but a king without a land,” the goblin replied. “That is the goal I came to this place with. It is for my people that I am here.”

Your ‘people’ lost their war and have always proved unfit to live as a civilized race,” Sydney replied. He raised his sword. “You have threatened my kingdom. For its safety, I must remove you from it. But I would still offer you a peaceful resolution. Surrender and I promise I will do everything in my power to help your people find a new home.”

Your ancestors made a similar plea. I can hear their voices within yours. Yours ring as false within my ears as theirs did.”

The Goblin Lord charged at them, wild with rage. The torchlight fluttered out for the briefest of moments as the Golbin Lord worked his tactic. There was little space for real combat in that dungeon, but neither side really had that goal in mind. Barreling through, the Goblin Lord ascended the stairs past the group. The torches returned to their full strength as the creature departed. Zev noticed the prisoner at the end of the dungeon and ran to him.

After the Goblin Lord!” Sydney shouted. All but Merf and Ashley gave chase, following the Goblin Lord out into the night.

The two remaining turned to Zev as he freed the prisoner. Looking on his bloodied face and mutilated arm, the Ranger frowned.

I’m so sorry Fenway,” he whispered. “I should have been the one to come here.”

You’re damn right it should have been you,” the thief replied through the pain. “We’re good though. You’d be surprised at all the things I can do with one hand.”

Ashley put a hand on Zev’s shoulder.

I have some skills as a healer,” she said. “Between the wizard and I, we should be able to help your friend. Come, bring him to a room upstairs. We’ll treat him there.”

puup

Despite the tracking skills of the elves, the Goblin Lord escaped out of the city of Aven and disappeared into the night. They turned back to the High King with their heads bowed.

We have lost him,” Marizan said angrily. “I fear we missed our opportunity to prevent his further poison from infecting Terran.”

It is of little concern right now,” Sydney said. “We will track and hunt him down when the day comes to do such things. And I suspect it will happen sooner than we think. But for now, I think it would be wisest for us to cleanse Aven and the rest of my kingdom of his influence and prepare for what is to come. There was at least one traitor within my ranks. I greatly fear I was misled and my kingdom was weakened for some sinister purpose. We must now remove them quickly, before they can act further sabotage on us. Marizan, I hope you and your elves will stay and help us. I think we will likely need all the help we can get.”

puup

Fenway woke up early in the morning, Zev and Ashley watching over him. He looked at the stump of his right hand, now cleaned and wrapped in bandages. There was some pain still there, but it had faded considerably since his time in the cell.

I should’ve known this would happen,” the thief said to Zev. “I’m always the one who gets in trouble whenever you get an idea.”

I’m so sorry,” Zev replied.

I’m sure you are. What day is it?”

Wednesday.”

Oh good. We’ve still got a day then.”

What?”

The goblins were going to attack on Thursday.”

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