|This is the captian of the guard who was at the gate.
The Guard at the Gate
They rose the next morning and restarted the fire and ate what was
left of the rabbits and a few fruits that they had picked. They made their way
toward the gate they had seen the day before. As they made their way towards
their target, William noticed more of the details of the about the gate. The
wall was about fifteen feet high. It was constructed so will that these were
no foot or hand folds. Ivy had grown in the few tiny cracks over the years. On the right side of the wall was a tall tower.
I was four stories high and well fortifies. I appeared to have thick walls
and slots for arrows. At the top, its roof came to appoint, where a flag was
flown high on a pole. It blew in the find, flapping with the breeze. Most of the trees around it were for or five stories high also, there branches swaying softly.
middle of the wall was an iron gate. The bars were thick and dense. There were two guards standing at attention on wither side of the gate.
They wore chainmail armor and a simple steel helmet. A red cape draped
from their shoulders to halfway down the back of their claves. In their right
hands they held spears that were about six and a half feet tall, and on their left hip they wore a medium length sword. They wore hard leather boots, which almost came up to where their capes ended. It appeared as if there was a dagger in their right boots, but it was hard for William
to tell from this distance.
When they were about twenty feet away, the guard
on the right, in a very demanding tone said, “State your business.”
Then Oslick stopped, and voice that was far beyond
the man he looked in his ragged clothes, said, “We are only two weary travelers.
My son and I wish only to continue our journey.”
“Where does your journey take you?”
questioned the guard.
“Look, just let us pass and we won’t
give you any trouble,” snapped William.
“You are not going to give me any trouble
anyway,” replied the guard, clearly showing his power over the two travelers.
Drawing the sword Oslick had given him, William
said, “You want trouble? I can give you…”
This is neither the time nor the place,” interrupted Oslick and he gave a harsh, scowl to William. At this, William put away his sword, though still obviously mad with the guard and wishing that he could
finish what he had not even been able to start. “We wish to make our way
to the capital city of Vencer, where we will visit his highness the king.”
“I am afraid that would be impossible,”
another deep voice said from behind the gate. The guards quickly opened the gate
for the man. Like the other guards, he wore a helmet and armor, but his helmet
was more detailed than that of the other guards. His cape was almost as large
as a cloak and he wore a few other strange pieces of armor. They were scattered
over him in random seemingly unhelpful places. He was about six feet tall and
had broad shoulders. He was full of muscle and his presence gave off a feeling
of power. He also appeared to be oppressing and powerful in more than just the
obvious physical way. “I cannot let anyone pass through this gate by order
of the king of Boshra.”
“Why would the king issue such an order,
preventing the free people of his kingdom from traveling or conducting their normal business?”
“Where have you been? There has no normal business for almost three years now. In
that time Vencer has been under siege. The king has blocked all the roads possible
for the safety and protection of the people. He hopes to keep them out of this
battle which seems to merely be over the one city. Now, to make things worse,
goblins have begun attacking some of the south land farms with wars of their own. The
entire empire is about to fall. Many people have taken ships out of the land. Those who haven’t are either too poor to leave, or are hoping that the empire
will survive. Personally, I do not think Vencer will last much longer. Then it is only a matter of time before all of Boshra falls. So
even if you could get through, it would do you no good. By the time you make
it there, orgons will have complete run of the place.
Though it is strange. Before now the orgons
were so stupid they couldn’t even farm. They were almost extinct
when suddenly they appeared from the east and began attacking. A short time ago,
there was not a bow between all of their weakling race. Now they siege the catapults. Strange, is it not?”
William quickly glanced over at Oslick. On his face was a look of shock and horror.
William had heard about goblins and rumors of the war in the north, but nothing this bad. He thought it was just a group of bandits making trouble or a small city rebelling. Rebels and goblins had happened before and had quickly solved.
After a few seconds, in a very thoughtful voice
Oslick said, “Yes, very strange. Very strange indeed. Very well, thank you for your help.” With that he turned
and began to walk westward without another word. William was quick to follow
in step, though he had no idea what was to happen next.
They traveled the entire day along the edge of the forest. At last Oslick stopped his grueling pace and stood still. He
looked into the forest to the north and looked deep in thought as if trying to remember something, but not quite being able
to. It seemed an eternity as William stood watching him think. He waited and waited but he said nothing for a very long time. At
last he received a short yes and set down his back along side of his elder’s.
He immediately began to set up camp, not wanting
to disrupt Oslick in his thoughts. He had soon made a fire and began to cook
food. He looked over at the massive figures of the trees. They were dark and seemed to radiate an evil since constantly. He
began to wonder why he had come. He question if they could ever reach their goal. He began to think of death. This could
be the end of his life. In the first may await the doom he was destined for. Perhaps he should go back. Maybe it would
be better to suffer on the farm rather than to die in this cursed place.
is not better. Trust me.” The
sudden statement came as a shock and startled him. The low voice of Oslick seemed
as if he was not really focused on the present. “Death is not all that
bad. After you get past the physical pain, there is no more pain. There is light though. Light that would blind anyone here. But there, it is different. There, men
are free from pain and suffering. There is no death, no sorrow, and no tears. It is far better than the happiest place here.”
even looking over he continued on. “When I was first faced with the darkness,
my thoughts were much like yours. I remember it very well. That is how I knew what you were thinking. It is true that
many die in the Dark Forest, and I am sure that you have heard the tales. Stories
of monsters so deadly that a single look can kill you. Spiders with legs the
size of trees. But there are also tales of the men of the forest that are said
to live for a very long time. Some say that they are near immortal, and that
they are half elves and half humans. Others tales tell of a city in the trees
were they prosper away from the evil of the forest and the often more evil acts of man.
Of course, these are all just legends.”
“Why do you ask me?”
“Well…because you seem to know more
than most people do.”
“So I did.
But this does not qualify me to answer your question. The forest is huge
and I could never claim to have been to all of it. No one can know how much of
these stories are true. Can men survive in the forest? Are they half elf? And what of the monsters who lurk here? Questions that may never be answered, some that answers may not be wanted to. But it does not matter. Our only way
to make it past is to go through. And that will require hard work, a brave heart,
and perhaps even a little bit of foolishness. All of these I know you have or
are capable of. What I am not so sure of is your ability. You show promise, but promise is not going to keep you alive. Here. Practice.”
He then through him a fair sized rock that fit
comfortably into his palm. He began to practice as they had the night before. This time though, it was far harder. Last
time he felt confidant with his skills and that he was able to move the pebble. Now
he could hardly make the rock wobble. Even so, he continued to practice late
into the night. When the fire had finally burnt out, he had to stop. He was exhausted like he had never been before. He was sweating
profusely and was light headed. He collapsed to the ground and began to lose
his sight. Suddenly he saw Oslick standing over him and heard him say, “You
are done” with a smirking and put his palm inches from his face and began muttering something. Then there was a sudden surge of heat and all went black.
There was a darkness all around.
No, there was one small sparkle off in the distance. Perhaps it was more
than just a sparkle. It was growing bigger.
Then there was a light. It drew nearer.
The closer it came, the more he could see. Finally it was upon him and
he was in. It was as full of light as the darkness was of the empty void.
Yet despite all this light, he did not need to squint. All
the light did nothing to his eyes. They did not hurt at all. Not did any other part of him. He felt no heat, nor cold. All was the same. In a small way it was
agonizing to not feel. Yet, it was a blessing that there was no pain. He began to look around. It was then that he found that it
was more than just a light. There were figures.
There were shapes. The were beings.
What type of beings and
or if they were friendly, he could not tell, but he could slowly begin to make out the larger objects. Trees. They were trees.
In fact, it was a forest. Now he could see more clearly and could see
that there were buildings. But unlike most other buildings he had seen, these
ones were in the trees. He began to wonder, How can the trees support such
wait? They must be hollow and empty.
But this proved to be incorrect.
Soon he could see people
walking around on platforms by the houses. There were staircases traveling from
one level to another. There were pathways connecting the buildings. Before long he found that there were different kinds. The
majority were houses, but there were businesses too.
What looked like a blacksmith could be seen off to one
side. He tried to go towards this one because of his interest in smithing, but
found that he could not move himself. He quickly realized what he was being pulled
towards. In the middle of the town there was a large building. It was at least four times larger that the other buildings around it.
It was three stories tall, each story was smaller than the last leaving the last as just a small room. Something in this room was what was pulling him.
Before he realized it, he was “standing” on the platform outside the upper room. Although if he was truly standing, he could not tell. (When
you can’t feel anything it makes it hard to tell.) Nonetheless, he was
there when suddenly appeared a strange man.
had a rather long beard and was bent over. He looked very old. His clothes, his walk, his eyes, and his talk all looked old.
know something you do not ,” he said in a way that sounded as if it was supposed to be a teasing way. When he stood there and said nothing, the man added, “Your name.
Who you are. What you are. What
you are doing. All of these things I have the answer to, but I am not going to
tell you. This I will tell you though, when you are in greatest despair, look
up. Look up.”
up to what?” he tried to say, but he began to feel something against his back.
He tried to turn to see what it was, but then there was a piercing pain in his neck.
He decided to stay still. Even this did not work because not only did
his back continue to hurt, but now he was began to feel cold all over. The only
place that did not feeling like it was freezing, was his head, which felt like it was on fire.
The trees and the city soon faded, and the man began to lose his solidity.
was all gone. He could no longer tell if he was in darkness or in light. His pain was overwhelming him and he could no longer think to make the distinction. Then he realized something. He had eyelids. Under all the pain and new feeling, he never noticed they were there. He tried to open them, but they were extremely heavy. He could
hardly move them at all. At last he succeeded, and again there was a flood of
light that pored into his eyes.
though, the light caused excruciating pain. Again there was a shape. This time is was a face. Oslick. He was right over him. He looked angry and very upset. A wave of fear rushed over him and he began to struggle, but when he did this it caused
more pain then before.
are safe now; you are not dead. Look at me, William. You are safe.”
straight up at him. His eyes were kind and as he did so he could see the stress
and agony in his face melt away.
up,” he moaned and his fell to the side and his eyes closed again.