May 1, 2018

Unfinished Tales | Shadow Worlds | Part Three

Perched upon a mountain ridge, an ancient castle sat brooding. It dominated the skyline for miles around. 

Standing on the banqueting level of this castle you could just see a shimmering rainbow coloured column that was reputed to be not only the centre of the World but of the known universe. It was known as The Void, a place that gave power to the wizards and other magical inhabitants of the World.

This very night the banqueting level of the castle was full to overflowing with scruffy, untidy men dressed in surcoats, ranging from expensive looking ones with fur protruding from under them to the ubiquitous leather undergarments. Every now and then the dull shine of mail could be glimpsed under these garments. Swords were plentiful and hung from waists and peaked over the backs of their owners where they were strapped. Occasionally an axe could be seen but this was the main weapon of the dwarfs, the bearded axe or human axes did not resemble the dwarf kind at all, these were a long single head where the dwarf variety was double-headed, exquisitely decorated and had a shorter shaft.

At one end of the hall a massive wooden stage sat, it's sole purpose was to raise the table of the host, the master of this castle higher than the rest. There he sat with those he honoured. His chair had the highest back and in his right hand he gripped a large silver mace, four foot in length. Both chair and mace were symbols of his authority. He like his castle, sat brooding high above all else. Hidden in a balcony above a group of minstrels burst forth in a raucous tune singing the ballad of Roland, a mighty warrior of folk lore and whom this land was named after.

As the minstrels sang the warrior at the host's left side was rising, in his right hand he held a gold en goblet of mead, he was endowed with a very thick and enormous beard but not a single hair showed on his head, thus he was widely known in the land of Roland as Algernon, the man with the beard.

We shall now toast our lord, the Baron of Broderig for success in his forthcoming campaign to purge our world of all non-men and become the Domhnall, the World ruler. Algernon's voice boomed over the clatter of the feast.

To The Baron! cheered the mass.

May he lead this mighty multitude to glory, and sweep clean this land of all but men! continued Algernon.

To glory and purity! screamed the now frenzied mob. This would have gone on for a while and Algernon would have convinced the assembly to march into battle immediately had it not been that the two massive wooden doors to the hall’s entrance were kicked open and two burly guards burst into the room, dressed in Baron Broderig’s green and white livery, the black griffin emblazoned across the front of their surcoats seemed to dance as they dragged behind them a small figure. This poor unfortunate was unceremoniously thrown before Baron Broderig and a tense hush fell. The Baron rose from his seat and glared at the figure.

We found 'im 'angin’ outside da window sire, said one of the guards.

Well little Dryrury, it seems that your bright green forest robe clashes with the grey of Castle Brodeng’s walls remarked the Baron, smirking at Algernon.

Your grasp of the obvious is quite startling Baron.

Silence scum! Algernon roared. Your race and all the other inferior races will be wiped out in the forthcoming campaign, and your Void Magic or should I say trickery will be of no help to you at all.

Wot shall we do wit'im? Asked Borg, the bigger of the two guards.

How about a little magic show and contest. Laughed Algernon. If the little one can get us what we want we'll let him go, if not.... well we all know what's going to happen to the non-men soon, so this one'll have the privilege of going to that great Alden in the void.

Not knowing what else to do the Dryrury decided to play along until he could think of a way to escape and warn the Council at Aeldene.

What will you have me do? said Beagen with mock fear. The Baron looked at Algernon and then looked at Beagen. Finally he said to Algernon whilst casually waving his mace, you choose something that would be befitting of this serfs great magic.

Algernon stroked his magnificent beard and said in a dangerous tone, Very well then Stinky, bring forth two great warriors from the void that they may be used in the forthcoming conflict.

You’re the stinky one Beagen retored, looking Algernon up and down, and then glancing around the room nervously, still trying to find a way out. Besides that can't be done you know very well that no being can exist in the Void.

Your impudence is uncalled for! I shall delight in your failure. Algernon's face turned red but he continued. Your people go into it all the time!

Yes, but we merely travel through it to other lands

Algernon snorted, you kill yourselves like lemmings, no one ever comes out of there. Now do as you’re commanded or you'll be travelling through it very soon.

Beagen couldn't think of any other way of escape so he put on his ‘magic show'. Dramatically waving his hands he spoke loudly saying Mittere Salus, which roughly translates as 'send me help'. Almost immediately a high pitched unworldly scream sounded through the castle, shocking the gathered horde, including Beagen, the air around emitted a strange odour, tables and knives rattled and a comet of fluorescent red and green light shot from the void. As it settled on the ceiling of the banqueting level and the scream stopped as suddenly as it came. The cloud of light started to disperse and showered pieces of coloured plastic, twisted metal and bits of wood. The inhabitants of the room looked up in awe of this spectacle until the voice of Algernon boomed over the hush.

Imbeciles, even our own wizards can give us a light show and shower us with baubles, then to the still amazed Dryrury he scowled. You haven’t fulfilled your part of the contract so its time for you to die! He drew his sword as he spoke and vaulted over the table, Beagen backed toward the door but was stopped by Borg and the other guard. As Algernon drew near to Beagen and the guards the last of cloud dissipated and from it two figures fell, landing onto Algernon which in turn caused him to fall forward onto the guards. Beagen was smaller and quicker so was able to dart out of the way. This opportunity to escape was halted by his curiosity about the two figures. As the group of five struggled to disengage themselves from each other Beagen noticed that the two figures were human youths, but unlike any human he had ever seen. Dressed in strange garb and having a different air about them. He latter realised that it was that their hair was cut and they were clean which was uncommon among humans of this world. The fluorescence of the Void was still hanging on them and they were more interested in slapping and hitting themselves as they jumped around. I did ask for help he thought to himself. He quickly he made his decision, he grabbed the two youths and pulled them onto his green cloak that he had spread out on the floor.

Make haste he said to them. There is no time to dance, we must get out of here, this place is evil!

Suddenly the cloak and the three on it lifted up and sped out the window. The only evidence of their going was the echoing yells and screams of the youths as they hurtled out and over the battlements of the castle.

Shadow Worlds | Part One  
Shadow Worlds | Part Two
Shadow Worlds | Part Three

When I was younger I tried my hand at writing short stories, but gave up before turning 20. You can find a shorten version of why in this article. I thought I had lost all of this work until recently my father discovered and handed over this manuscript. It was a fantasy story I had been working on way back then. The outline is lost, I was 'pantsing' (or writing whatever came into my mind.) but what is left is three small chapters which I thought I'd share.

Enjoy reading more and thinking more... with your favourite beverage!

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