Categories
adventure Bevan danger dragons fantasy mystery Sci Fi series SyFy travel writing

The Bevan – Scouts Report

Part XIII

The fortress and all its occupants were in a more hurried state now, guards more vigilant, lookouts scouring the countryside and the skies. Rotar, Falan, Lee and Trinity sat with the Premier in the conference room, the men discussing what occurred and what was possibly next and Trinity, was listening but not saying much, she suddenly asked “Where’s Jondar?”

Rotar answered “He stopped by the healer’s to get his bandage fixed, and said after that he was going to see how the training was going”.

“Thank you,” she replied. “Ok, if I go watch, Uncle Lee? I won’t get in the way!” she asked.

“Sure, Kiddo, just be sure to stay in the main fortress though, what with dragons around, it’s the safest place” Lee responded. With a silent, sardonic, salute Trinity left to go watch the soldiers train to fight dragons.

Lee and the others discussed what had happened, and what should be the next steps that they should take. Soldiers were being trained in where dragons could be vulnerable, as well as normal combat skills. Tunnels that were disused, were scheduled for blocking up, as soon as the workers from the village could be hired and begin. Several squads now patrolled the known tunnels looking for any signs of dragons, or other enemy. The observation posts mentioned before, were strengthened with their escape routes, and tunnels cleaned of obstacles and debris. Lee was going over the most recent maps, to look for safe routes to the known portal locations near the fortress, trying to find one that was the safest and had the most cover. “Unless someone can figure a way to open one of these, from inside the fortress, this one,” Lee said pointing at the map. “Looks like the best route, and most concealed. The downside is it’s easier to set up ambushes along the way, so we will need scouts coming and going. Have your men been getting messages through to my family? I do not need them worrying,” Lee asked.

“Yes,” replied the Premier. “Daily, and there has been no sign of trouble on that side”. Lee nodded indicating his gratitude at that news, and that the line of communication was constantly open.

The rest of the day was spent with the Treslanders going over troop numbers, and food and supply amounts and shortages. Lee excused himself, and made his way to his quarters. Once there he wrote a quick short note to Trinity, gathered his bow and backpack, and left the room, headed to a tunnel exit nearby. Lee chatted with a guard for a second, then slipped out through the tunnel, pulling his ghillie suit over the cloak, he quickly became invisible in the afternoon shadows. Lee became the hunter again, slipping quietly through the forest towards an area he saw on the maps, that he knew was the edge of friendly territory. Moving silently, but swiftly, he covered lots of country with his steady, ground eating gait, not swerving or twisting, but headed in a straight line.

The hunter stopped by a small creek, and drank, not on the wide sandy area, but kneeling down where the bushes leaned out over the water. He tensed suddenly in the crouched position, hearing hushed voices. The sound coming from the other side of the creek, and to his left towards the sandy area of the creek. Lee slipped back and stood bow in hand, arrow nocked, listening and watching, totally camouflaged and unseen unless he were to make a mistake and move.

He waited, and finally crossed the creek, following the voices carefully, as they were going the direction he was headed. Lee stopped and climbed into the split of a tree, and looked ahead with his binoculars from his pack, and saw two Wracks walking ahead. Lee climbed down and followed carefully, staying well back, but near enough to hear or see the two. His plan was to see where these two were headed, and if possible, find out who or what they were reporting to. Four hours and many miles later, the two stopped by a creek, and Lee slipped up a tree, to keep an eye on them while they were stopped, and he ate some jerky while looking around at the area. There were large boulders and rocky crags all around, with the exception of the woods they were in, the landscape was pretty barren. Lee noticed several cuts or valleys, going off to the sides as far as he could see forward, like spidery veins off the main part. The forest they were in, was about a half mile wide, and did not appear to thin out. It seemed to keep its shape, as it winded and twisted between the rocks and mountains. Lee was debating taking these two out of the picture, and seeing what they were carrying, but he decided to wait until at least tomorrow. Lee watched, as the two moved off to one side of the high speed trail, and started setting up their camp, secure in their belief that they were alone.

Lee made himself comfortable, and settled in to wait, as the wracks let themselves relax more. After two hours Lee let himself out of the tree and silently made his way towards the campsite. He moved closer, circling around the campsite, and slipping up towards it from the side, until he could see and hear clearly what was being said. Lee learned a few things, but nothing seemed important, except they were to meet someone here tomorrow. The two must have felt very secure in their camp, as they posted no guard, and were both snoring to wake dragons within the next hour. He waited another 90 minutes, then made his way back to his tree, where he got comfortable and rested. The two woke as the first light was breaking, and they prepared some food to start the day, while Lee, the hunter, munched on jerky from his back-pack as he watched them.

He noticed movement well past the two wracks, and he lifted his binoculars to focus on that area. Someone or something was coming, winding their way along the weaving path. Lee noticed that the figure was clad in dark clothing, under a darker hooded cloak, and walked with a shuffling gait, and covered ground pretty fast. The figure approached the two, and they both stood up as he approached. The three stood around, and talked for a long while, and the cloaked person, (“If it is a person?” Lee wondered to himself), handed each of the two Wracks something, and they both intently stared at them, and appeared to ask several questions. A short while later one of the two original Wracks started gathering his things, and said a few words, (one of which Lee clearly heard the word “Portal”), to the other two, and headed out of the camp in a direction towards the mountains, to the right side of the trail.

Lee marked his direction, and noticed he was going quickly, but kept stopping and checking his back trail. “That fella does not trust one of these two,” Lee thought to himself as he watched. Eventually, the cloaked figure got up, and headed back the way he came from, leaving the solitary Wrack by itself. Lee watched the cloaked figure, until he was 1/2 mile away, up the winding trail, then turned his attention to the solitary Wrack left at the camp. He debated with himself about what he should do, and came up with the only obvious answer, “He’s an enemy of my family, so he must not be allowed to cause one of them harm,” Lee thought to himself.

He debated shooting him from here, with a bow shot he knew he could most likely make, but decided to get closer, where he was positive he could eliminate the Wrack without any fuss at all.

Lee slipped quietly down, and circled nearer, using what he found yesterday about the terrain as his guide. Lee, the hunter, stopped about 30 yards away, looking through a natural shooting lane, and he did not hesitate. He drew the bow, and with a near silent whisper, he released the arrow and it sped towards the unsuspecting Wrack, striking him in the head, slipping clean through before the Wrack even knew he was dead. The hunter had another arrow nocked on the bow, as the Wrack collapsed in a heap on the ground.

Lee waited for almost 30 minutes before approaching. He quickly checked the body finding one useful thing; a sheath knife hidden in a upper arm sleeve, “Sneaky and smart,” he thought. He wrapped the Wrack’s head in canvass, which he had found that Wrack had been using for bedding, in order to keep from leaving a blood trail. He then picked up the Wrack, and carried him several hundred yards off to the side of the trail, and dumped it in a slight crevice. He then made his way carefully back to cover any marks, or tracks he found. Back at the campsite, he carefully scooped the bloody dirt up, and took it several yards away and buried it. Once that was done he scattered leaves around the campsite, and picked up the Wrack’s pack, and headed off in the direction the cloaked figure went.

The hunter moved cautiously for an hour, putting several miles behind him. He found a secluded spot off the path, and sat and ate , while carefully going through the pack he had grabbed. Then he saw the item which he believed the cloaked figure had handed the Wrack, and it looked like a thin book. Setting it aside, he took out a hand drawn map, showing what Lee guessed to be fortress defenses, and look out posts. The map was drawn with precision, and a great deal of detail, which took great skill. “This guy knew his scouting business really well,” Lee surmised. The last thing he pulled out was another map, this one made no sense to Lee but seemed very familiar, “I’ve seen this place before, but where?” He asked himself. Lee put both maps in his own pack, and discarded the Wrack’s pack under a tree stump.

Lee took the book, and opened to the first page, which was filled with numbers and symbols that he could make no sense of, and he turned the page and was stunned. There on the second page, was an almost photograph picture quality drawing of Trinity, in the Lost Defender armor, standing in the classic guard position, knife across her body in one hand, and another held low and pointed out towards a threat. “How in the blazes did anyone get this? Where? When was this? Why is this given to the Wrack?”

All these questions and more, Lee was thinking as his mind raced. He turned the page, and was stunned to see his own face in his hooded cloak, and on the next page was Elena! She was in a dark cloak with a hint of something green under it, her face set with determination, and she was reaching back, as if she was gripping something, or someone, by the hand, but her hand was torn with the next page. Lee turned the page, and found the next page was ripped out, and the last page was blank, leaving him totally confused. He looked at the back of the book, and saw scratches on the back in cryptic writing, “all must die”. Lee debated heading back immediately, but decided he would rather try and catch Mr. Cloak, and see what he could find. He finished eating because he knew he needed the energy, then he packed up, but before leaving he climbed a nearby tree, and took a slow methodical look around. Starting from 3 o’clock to 9 o’clock, and then he turned and looked from 9 to 12, seeing nothing. Lee then started at 3 and worked back towards 12, and about in line with the path ahead, but a long way up, he thought he saw a faint tendril of smoke float up. “Gotcha!” he thought to himself.

He finished his scan, and climbed down, grabbed his pack, and headed out towards the smoke, slipping along the rock face far off the trail. It was tougher going, but he was much less likely to bump into anyone. Lee became the hunter again, stalking silently along, and around trees and bushes in his path, slowing edging closer. Stopping every few yards, and methodically taking apart the surrounding woods, and rocks with his binoculars, looking for any signs of activity. He stopped and put away his binoculars, and checked that nothing was loose and could make a sound, before he started to slip closer. The smell of woodsmoke was guiding him. Lee slipped up a large oak type tree, and watched and finally after several minutes, he found the cloaked character.

Before he could act, movement about a half mile ahead caught his attention, and he dug out his binoculars again, and looked in that direction, and saw what looked to be an army! There were spearmen, archers and many more behind. There were siege engines, and wagons of stones, but worst of all there were 3 very big dragons! They were walking behind, way off, but clearly visible, due to their size. “Well shoot, that don’t leave me much time to find out what this clown is up to” he said to himself . He again focused on the cloaked figure and slipped out of the tree moving closer, he wasn’t sure who or what it was, but he was sure it was not friendly.

He decided that he did not have time to waste, the hunter set his pack down, and drew his knife, and worked his way to the edge of the camp and waited. The cloaked figure was muttering to himself about “special” and “must not reach fortress” “portals, interfering humans, soon they will be gone and then the Caecilius will have his revenge on these upstart Treslanders” Lee watched the cloaked figure, as he slowly put things in his bag, and he saw the last thing looked like one of the books he had given to the Wrack. After hearing what he heard, and seeing the book, Lee did not hesitate! He sprang into the camp, and the cloaked figure spun catlike around, but Lee was on him in an instant, the legion blade silencing any noise, as he eliminated another threat to his family. Lee gathered the bag of items, and turned, retracing his steps to his pack, grabbing it, he put the bag in it, before heading off back towards the fortress.

As he neared the spot where the two Wracks separated, he slowed and perched in a rock formation, and scoured the area for any signs of life. Not seeing any immediate threat, Lee took out his pad and added to the map he had been making on his scouting trip. He ate a bit of jerky, and then again headed out wishing he had stopped the other Wrack to see what he was given. As he was walking, he was going over in his mind what he had observed, heard and had done and he suddenly remembered “Caecilius” and was reminded he needed to remember it to pass it in to the Premier when he got back. Lee continued moving in the direction of the fortress, when suddenly he heard the sounds of swords and a fight ahead.

Lee jumped up on a big rock, and looked and saw a single soldier fighting with 4 wracks at one time. Lee could not tell who the soldier was, but he knew the Wracks were enemies, and immediately shot the farthest with his bow. The others fighting did not notice, and continued to attack the soldier, who was doing an excellent job of defending against too many enemies. Lee shot a second Wrack before they got out of his sight, as the soldier moved around. Lee ran towards the fight, trying to clear the line of site, and as he got closer, he shot a third Wrack as the last managed to get a sword through the soldier’s defenses, and stabbed him in the shoulder. The soldier dropped the short knife, as he was wounded, but parried with his sword, and at the same time kicked the Wrack between the legs, making him squeal and his knees buckle, and the soldier swung his sword beheading the enemy. Lee cautiously approached, and the soldier dressed in buckskin leathers and a green camouflage type cloak, turned to face him, sword at the ready. Lee said “Whoa there, Fella, I mean you no harm, name’s Lee and I am no threat to anyone, that these things are against,” he said, waving his arm at the dead Wracks. “I do not know who you are, or what your game is, but I was headed back to the fortress when I stumbled on your little set-to here,” Lee continued.

“What do you know of the fortress, how would you get in?” The soldier inquired, as he favored his wound that was bleeding.

Lee said, “I have unlimited access to the fortress, granted by the Premier. Rotar and Falan are two who can vouch for me, as well as Jondar,” he continued, “I have been here a few times, as it’s my bloodline these things want to erase. I came to see who I was up against. Now you can stand there and bleed till you pass out, or I can help you, it’s your choice”.

The soldier had been listening and said “I have been scouting for months, I have not been to the fortress, nor spoken to anyone in the same amount of time, but you know names and things you could not, if your words weren’t true. I am Carr one of the “Far Walkers” that’s how do you say..?”

Lee said “Scout, correct? You’re an info gatherer?”

To which Carr replied “Yes, that is correct,” as he leaned against a tree.

Lee said “I can stop that bleeding, and we can get back to the fortress tomorrow, if you will let me help you”. Carr nodded ok, and Lee dropped his pack and began to patch Carr up. A few hours later and a couple miles away, they settled into the same hidden spot Lee used earlier, and made camp. Once they had eaten and Carr had fallen asleep, Lee suddenly remembered the bag, and the book and he pulled it out, sat by the fire, and opened the book, and was dumbfounded to see Trinity’s sister ‘Lena’s face, her arm was stretched out and the torn off page of her Aunt Elena’s hand was there holding it. ‘Lena’s face reflected fear, but also determination, as she was led by Elena, to somewhere that Lee could not figure out. Written in red cryptic letters on the page, were the words “The next Minorcan” and in bold letters “Must be stopped at all costs” . “‘Lena? So she’s the one! I have got to get back there as soon as I can!” Lee thought to himself.

Early the next morning after sitting in a tree and checking the area with his binoculars, Lee climbed down, and he and Carr began heading to the fortress again, taking their time due to Carr’s injury, but still moving at a good pace. “I could see the smoke from their camp, so we have to go as fast as we can,” Lee said

“Yes, we can go faster don’t worry about me, I’ll be fine,” answered Carr. The two kept going all through the day and finally started seeing the hidden markers which Carr pointed out and saying, “Come we will go this way”.

He led them on a winding route, up along the base of a boulder strewn hill, and suddenly stopped “It is here,” and reached between two rocks and did something, and within a few seconds Lee saw two guards materialize, as if out of no where up the side of the hill. One said “Carr! You were expected last week! We thought the worst.” and turned and looked at Lee and saluted “Bevan! The young warrior is not happy you left her behind! I would not want to be you when you two meet up,” he chuckled.

They then were led in a hidden passage and up a narrow side tunnel that opened into the main one. Carr and Lee said their farewells and Lee headed to his quarters to contemplate, rest and find Trinity.

After a couple minutes of listening to Trinity harp at him for not taking her with him, she finally relented when he reminded her she was supposed to help sort out the mystery in the fortress, not do everything he was doing, and when he asked if she discovered anything new, she replied, “Just a couple things, Uncle Lee, the paintings keep revealing a huge battle it seems here inside the fortress, and there are more dragons and what looks like a huge snake, which will have to be dealt with”.

Lee replied “Well, one thing’s for certain, there’s going to be a battle, and I think I saw the beginnings of it headed this way,” and he saw Trinity look a bit nervous as he said it. “Don’t worry, Kiddo, you and me, we are headed home shortly after I report what I found. Can you load up our packs, and meet me in the big chamber, quick as you can?” He asked.

Trinity answered, “Yes! I’ll do it, and I’ll be there in a couple minutes”.

Lee said thanks and turned and headed to find Rotar, Falan the Premier, or all of them. Lee found them all when he was admitted to the Premier’s conference room, and Carr was there also, giving a report. Lee told what he saw, and thought, and looked at the 3 dimensional map, and seeing it had been filled with troops, and such, at different locations on two sides of the fortress, but quite a ways off still. The Premier said, “Good, we now can guess their strategy. They are coming up the eastern valley thinking it will give them cover for surprise,”

Rotar added, “it’s a good plan, if we weren’t ready”, and looked at Falan “How long before the old routes are fully cleared?”

Falan said with a smile, “The last one was cleared just before I arrived. All routes along the ridge top now are open, and being stocked with equipment for the troops. The access ways are primed, and when we want, we can exit, and have the advantage of surprise from above, and behind the enemy”.

Lee saw that they were talking about underground tunnels, with numerous exits extending almost a mile on each side of the eastern valley. “Trinity and I must get back, there are things that need doing, and preparations we need to make”

The Premier said, “The map maker found a portal, it opens inside one of the hidden tunnels here in the fortress, and it also exits inside your fenced in homestead. It’s one that has not been used in at least 4 decades”.

Lee was startled but also grateful, another mystery unveils itself he thought to himself, I have enough mysteries I need to start getting answers. “Thank you, Premiere. Who is to take us to the portal?” Lee asked.

Rotar said, “I will take you there, and we will be preparing for war, while you are away, any idea how long you will be?” he asked. Lee responded, “I wish I knew, but as it stands there are so many questions, and details we need to work out before I can return, hopefully not too long”.

With that, he nodded to the others and exited the chamber, and met the waiting Trinity, who was staring at the painting, and he said, “let’s go, Kiddo!”

To which she replied, “Ok, Uncle Lee, but she did not move, as she watched the battle unfold, between the figure that looked like her uncle, and the giant snake, while in the background she saw Jondar, herself, her and aunt Elena, fighting off enemy troops, as her sister sat in the “Chair”; looking lifeless as the whole interior of the room glowed blue. Trinity suddenly snapped out of it and followed her uncle and Rotar.

As they were getting ready to enter the portal, Rotar said, “Be careful both of you, the scouts reported large numbers of the enemy massing in groups all over, and it looks like they are near portals, it looks as if they are sending armies through, we can’t say where to, but chances are, it’s to your home world”.

Lee said, “Thank you for the info, Rotar, you be careful while we are away. I think it’s going to get very very interesting around here pretty fast, and I don’t have time to make new acquaintances that I can trust!” Lee paused and looked at Trinity “You ready, Kiddo?”

She answered “Yes, let’s go I want to see Mom and Dad”. Lee then turned and walked through the hazy portal, with Trinity one step behind.

Categories
adventure Bevan family fantasy Sci Fi series SyFy writing

The Bevan – Prepare for War

Part XI

Several hours later they all were gathered back in the conference room, Lee, Trinity, Falan, Rotar and the Premier. Rotar said “All the known passages to the secret chamber have several layers of guards in them, Sir, and there are 4 of the most trusted, in the chamber itself. For now it’s well guarded”.

“Still no sign of Jondar. Someone should have gone with him!” exclaimed Trinity. The rest of the room were all thinking the same thing, but said nothing.

“He seems very capable, Trinity, if I’m any judge, and I’m sure we will see him again or hear from him, at least,” Lee said encouragingly. As the men in the room talked and made plans, Trinity paced around while going over what happened, and tried to see what could have been done differently. There was a commotion out in the mural room, with shouting and the sounds of several bodies moving.

Suddenly the door was opened, and in came Jondar. His cloak was burnt, and he had several wounds that one of the medical guards was trying to patch, but he would not be still. “My apologies Premier, but it could not wait. It is much worse than we thought. The snake Trendar, is gone. He will not spread his treachery any further,” he looked at Trinity when he said, “Do not take offense young lady, you are either much better than anyone knows, or were extremely lucky in your fight with him,” he then looked at the men in the room and said, “He was one of the banished, and had the old skills no longer taught, and he used witchcraft together with them. I nearly got the worst end of it”.

“How is that possible?? That was ages ago, hundreds of years ago, how can it be?” questioned Rotar incredulously.

Jondar answered him with chagrin, “I know not how, I know only what I saw, what he said, and how he fought. I know the skills, I was taught them when I was a child, to know evil from good.” He looked at the Premier when he said, “He said there were many more still alive, and they had been waiting until the watchers were no longer as diligent. They are coming for the fortress Premier, to destroy the Guardians Chair and wipe the ruling families and their soldiers off the planet forever”. He looked at Lee and Trinity, and continued “Once that is done, they will send thousands through the portals, who’s only mission is to eliminate all your kin, so there can be no way to rebuild here. They have started sending Wracks through already, but even worse than that,”he said with a bit of dread, “They have woken the sleeping giants,” his voice full of hatred. “Dragons! They have woken the dragons to help them!”.

Trinity was prepared for lots of things, but the idea of dragons was something she never fathomed, “I’m sorry Jondar, we don’t have dragons except in myth,” she said “Are you sure?!!”

Jondar leaned heavily against the thick oak table, “Things change over time. Your myths must have come from somewhere, and yes, young lady, I am dead certain.” he said as he pulled his cloak aside to reveal a huge claw stuck through his armor. “Not many man-made blades can easily pass through the armor of a Destroyer. I am glad to know it works almost as well with dragons!” and with that, he slumped onto a chair and was swarmed by the medical healers, carrying him off to be tended to.

Shortly after, Falan said, “Dragons? What do we know about fighting dragons?”

He was answered by Rotar, “There are ways,” he said, as he looked at the Premier. “The old ways, they did write them down, and now we need access to that information”.

The Premier nodded, and said “Follow me,”and walked out into the mural room again, “Everyone leave!” He said to the guards, and everyone except the five of them was ushered out, and the room sealed. The Premier went to the third mural, and did something with his hand in it, and the whole room changed into a moving picture of battles, and strategies for different enemies, “Here you will find the defenses for every enemy we have ever faced, and some that have yet to appear. Just touch a picture and it will come alive, so you can see how to defend against each enemy. I will leave you to it. Rotar, show your captains so they can prepare,” and with that he turned, and walked back into the inner chamber.

The rest watched as Rotar touched the dragon picture, and it transformed to fill the room with its size, with several spots along its body that could be penetrated with spear and sword or arrow. It also changed showing soldiers in battle with their shields and armor, battling the dragon using different methods. “Falan, assemble the captains! We must get them in here soon to study this,” said Rotar. Falan nodded and quickly left the room. Lee looked at Rotar, “You are going to have your hands full it looks like. Trinity and I are going to check on Jondar, then swing by the secret chamber to make sure your guards are diligent, then I think we may go scouting, before returning home”.

Rotar nodded, “Yes, I believe you are right, and the guards will let you both pass, to any part of the fortress, so go as you please. If, in your scouting, you find something of interest, send word back so we are aware,”with that he turned back to studying the dragon battle scenes.

Lee and Trinity made their way through the dim halls, to the healers, and stopped in seeing Jondar was in a bed. His armor was off, and his side bandaged, when he saw them, “Welcome, you two. Don’t worry! They haven’t made the overgrown lizard that could keep me down, yet! Though that one came as close as any!” The claw was lying on a table. It was curved, and 8” long, thick as a man’s wrist, and neatly sliced through, by a sharp sword or knife. Trinity picked it up and felt it’s weight, and looked at Jondar who winked, “Don’t worry, young lady. You won’t have to deal with that dragon! That was his last play at me m, before I ended his miserable life!” he said. “Pity though,” he pointed at his burnt to tatters cloak, “That was my favorite cloak that he burnt”, he declared wistfully.

Lee and Trinity talked to Jondar a long while, and learned many things. As they were getting ready to leave, Jondar said, “That armor you are wearing will stop most things, Trinity. It was made by those long gone, their secrets went with them, but the armor remains. Once worn by the right person, it will always grow, and match their needs. While you are here, always wear it!”

Trinity said “I will. I promise”.

Later, after Lee and Trinity had made their way to their rooms, and Lee said “Get a bit of rest, Kiddo. You have had a busy day,”holding up a hand to cut off the protest he could see coming, “Take time to relax while you can. I have a feeling things are going to get very interesting, very soon, and, I as well as your mom and dad, and the rest of your extended family, are going to need you at your best. I can count on the boys to take care of anything that comes their way, but here in Tresland, I am going to need your skills”.

Trinity started to protest that she wasn’t tired, but what her uncle said made too much sense, and she kept quiet as she headed to her room, with the parting shot, “You have to rest too, Uncle Lee, or you won’t be at your best, either!” and she quickly closed her door.

Lee shook his head laughing to himself, and then sat at the table and planned his and Trinity’s next moves.

After both he and Trinity had rested and gotten refreshed, Lee suggested “What say you and I go see this chamber, and decide for ourselves if it’s going to be possible to get someone there safely?”

Trinity came out of her room, into the den area, pulling her hair back, making it into a pony tail that she then tucked inside her cloak, “Ok, sounds like a good idea to me,”she replied.

Lee and Trinity headed out and down the tunnel, following directions given to them by Rotar earlier. This was a section they had not been in before. The halls were cavernous and dark, the only light coming from torches spaced evenly along one wall.

Trinity kept up an endless stream of chatter, in a quiet voice about the different things that they had seen done, and heard, and how, “No one would believe half of it.”

Lee let her talk, as they walked towards the first of several guard posts, (not including the secret ones hidden in the dark, along the way). As they approached the guard post, they entered a well lit area, and were immediately met by several soldiers, all of whom saluted once they saw Trinity’s armor and Lee’s clothing. “Welcome, Bevan, and Lost Defender! You may pass!” said the Sergeant.

“Thank you, Sergent,” said Lee. “Is that place near?” he asked.

The sergeant replied, nodding towards a distant light, “Not far now, Sir.” They both looked at the distant light, and thanked the guard, and headed off. Trinity picked up where she left off, in her conversation about how, “No one would believe the stuff she’s done, and how the armor seemed to mold to her the longer she wore it, never constricting, nor feeling too loose.”

Lee smiled to himself in the dark, as she rambled on, while they finally arrived at the guard post outside the Chamber. Lee briefly spoke to a guard, and then he and Trinity were let through a series of doors, in a tunnel 15’ high and 20’ wide, that opened into a chamber, where they saw The Chair. The room was covered with thick polished tree roots along the ceiling, walls and floor, some of which formed a seat, smooth almost form fitting in its design. If a person sat in it, they would recline, their legs would rest in individual, smooth troughs in the roots, and the arms would rest in the same, only on a higher level, the chair looked comfortable.

Trinity had gotten quiet as she walked around it, looking at the intricate carvings and designs in the wood, while Lee was observing the same on the other side. The whole thing looked ancient, but also timeless, and Lee was wondering how any of it worked. Trinity ran her hand on one of the arm rests, and the whole room suddenly took on a reddish glow. She quickly took her hand off and the glow diminished instantly. She did it again, and it had the same effect.

Lee said, “Let me try,” and he ran his hand over the arm rest, but nothing happened, and he said, “I’m guessin’ it responds only to anyone with Minorcan blood, but only fully works for a certain few”.

Trinity studied the chair as Lee was looking around at how to defend this room m, if it came to that. The weakness lay in the entrance, but as he studied it, he realized that it was a series of chambers, that could be sealed, and the same defenses that are in play at the river, were here. Each could be flooded, and each was defended by holes allowing spears to be shoved in from all sides and top. “Look’s hard to penetrate, if the defense has time to set up,” he said to himself. “Whoever thought of it, had a good mind for keeping people out,” he thought.

Lee’s thoughts were interrupted by Trinity, “You should send Aunt Elena a picture of this. See if she can tell you anything,” she said.

Lee replied as he pulled his phone out and took several pictures, “None of my messages have been going through on this trip, I’m not sure what’s up, but I told her that may happen and not to worry”.

“Oh, ok. Well, maybe they will get through soon,” Trinity said hopefully, as kept looking around the room. Lee stood off to one side, going over different scenarios in his head, trying to find a weakness in the room’s defenses. The only thing he could come up with, would be an overwhelming amount of enemy attacking, and not enough defenders. Even then, if the right person was in the chair and started speaking the required words, from what he gathered, all the evil would be stopped in place, until either the reading stopped, and they could resume the attack, or the reading was finished, in which case, the enemy would be destroyed, and absorbed into the planet. Lee had been told of a few who could withstand the reading, and who could still fight, right up until the final words were read, then they too, would be vanquished.

These were the only ones Lee concerned himself with. How could they be identified early, and either tracked or destroyed early in any battle. Lee put this question at the top of his “need info” list and moved on to other things, like dragons. “How do I keep everyone safe that I bring here, if there are dragons?”

While Lee was thinking about these things to himself, Trinity had been studying the chair and it’s surroundings. She found a curious notch at the base of the seat and poked at it with her finger but nothing happened. She then studied it more and finally understood, she laid her index finger along the notch and the chair vibrated and she jumped. She then did it again, this time ready for the vibration, and when it did, the base opened to reveal a head band, and two wrist bands and a book.

Lee had come over and asked, “What did you find?”

She answered “I’ve seen these before, in that painting. The girl that was in the chair was wearing them, and the book was open on her lap!”

Lee said, “Well, I reckon they are part of the ritual, and until we figure out who, how and when we bring someone here, that’s a good safe place for them”.

Trinity carefully replaced the items in the base, and it shut on its own and once again looked just like a tree root. “Seen enough kiddo?” Lee asked, and Trinity nodded yes, and then the two of them headed back out to the main corridor.

Lee stopped and talked to one of the older guards, and found out that the tunnel ran the opposite way for a good distance, with numerous offshoots headed this way and that. The ones they used were marked with a sword painted at the entrance, the others having only rumors of where they went. The old guard told Lee that these marked tunnels, as well as the others for all he knew, came out in different parts of the country outside the bounds of the Fortress. “Thank you,” Lee said to the guard, “That’s just what we were hoping for,” and he turned to Trinity. “Up for a bit of scouting?”

Trinity instantly nodded “Yes!”

“Ok!! But, you have to do exactly what I tell you when I tell you, ok?”

And she again nodded saying “Yes, Uncle Lee, I will, I promise”.

Lee smiled knowing she would do it, she wouldn’t like it,!but she would do it. He then turned and headed deeper into the tunnel which was even more dimly lit, as the torches were much farther apart. Lee took his bow of shoulder as they ventured farther, and their conversations became softer, and quieter without even realizing they were. Lee picked the 5th marked off-shoot tunnel they came to, and turned into it stopping so fast Trinity bumped into him, “Ouch!” she said, said but Lee remained quiet and still, and reached back gripping her wrist and squeezing it, as she came to realize her uncle either saw or heard something that had him on alert.

Lee let go of Trinity’s wrist, when he was sure she would be still and quiet, and he closed his eyes in the dark, and listened. What he had heard was unfamiliar to him, and sounded like a guttural growl, along with something rough being dragged over a hard object. The closest he could relate would be a really big alligator, sliding across a gravel road. “Do they have alligators here?” He thought to himself, “No one’s mentioned any to me,” he answered himself.

Lee suddenly went hyper alert, because there was suddenly a slight breeze, and he smelled animal and burnt flesh! Lee opened his eyes that had adjusted to the dark and was stunned. He was 10 feet from what looked like a huge cavern, and a pair of glowing yellow eyes, that were at least 2 foot apart. Lee’s mind could not register what it was he was looking at, and that was looking at him, and then it suddenly hit him “DRAGON!!!”

Lee turned faster than Trinity thought humanly possible, and shoved her back out into the main tunnel, shouting “RUN TRINITY!!!”

As he tried to get out of the passage, Lee felt something grab his body at the waist, and drag him deeper into the cavern. Trinity saw her uncle was not behind her, and turned to go back, only to hear his voice again “RUN TRINITY!! DON’T LOOK BACK! RUN! YOU HAVE TO WARN THEM!!!!!”

Then there growling and banging sounds. Trinity did not want to leave, but suddenly remembered Jondar’s words came to the front of her mind, “You will have to make an impossible decision,” and she started running for help! Back up the tunnel she went, her eyes wet with tears and anger.

Categories
Bevan danger family fantasy Heritage Protection safety Sci Fi series SyFy writing

The Bevan – Power Moves

Part X

Trinity smirked at her Uncle’s last “Stay out of mischief!” comment and watched them all go into the conference room, and the door close. One big guard going in, and one blocking the door from outside.

Trinity looked at the wall mural and found what looked to her like the beginning of a story, and started trying to picture what was going on in the painting. As she studied the painting, Trinity was drawn in to the scenes of battle, towns being built and destroyed, knights battling men and other odd looking creatures, there were even dragons. At times the knights and soldiers looked to be winning, and further in time, they looked to be losing. She slowly moved down the wall and saw a chamber with a throne-like seat made from what looked like the roots of a tree, still growing its tendrils into the earth, all around it. Trinity studied the scene, it was similar to the one on the tunnel wall, only this one had a woman sitting on the throne, dressed in blue leather armor that was glowing, then Trinity realized the woman was not only sitting on the throne, it appeared as if the throne was blending with her. The story continued, and Trinity was looking at a huge battle scene, soldiers, knights and weird creatures were all battling, and in the background was the very same fortress that she was in. The soldiers and knights were defending the fortress while the creatures and even men were attacking. The defenders were outnumbered, and were being slowly driven back towards the river surrounding the fortress. From the fortress she could see hundreds of arrows flying, and striking the enemy. One archer, standing on the parapet stood out from all the others, he was tall, and held a longbow. Trinity could see his arrow in flight flashed a greenish tint in the sunlight, on its way to strike an apparent leader. The bowman took his time, like a sniper, and continually shot anyone that looked like they were giving orders. Trinity noticed vaguely, that his outfit resembled her Uncle Lee’s, right down to the soft moccasin style boots. She slowly moved along the wall, seeking something that would give her a clue as to how they could end this conflict, and she could tell her uncle she found it.

Inside the conference, Lee was filled in on several steps that the Treslanders were taking in preparation for more conflict. Though never directly asked, Lee could feel tension in the air as the conversation wound it’s way towards the secret chamber, the throne and it’s use throughout their recorded time. Lee found out that the Premier and his family had been, for as long as the records go back, guarding the throne, and protecting those that could control its power. One of which, was killed by a betrayal, but not before she had a child, who in turn had children, to keep the line going. Now as another lifetime rolls past, the Treslanders look to the legends and myths to help protect them. Lee knew where the conversation was headed. Eventually, it would come to Elena, and when she would come to take her place on the throne and restore peace. Lee redirected the conversation for the moment, away from that, and asked who was the most likely responsible, for this latest outbreak of violence, and where on the map on the table did they think he or she was holed up. The others around the table all looked perplexed and unsure how to proceed, then the Premier said, “We are not exactly sure. We have heard rumors of one of the expelled wizards stirring up this last round of violence”. The Premier continued, “We are not sure how that is possible, as it was ages ago when they were expelled. I have begun sending scouts out, in hopes of gathering more information, so we can have a better picture. It will take time though”.

Lee nodded in affirmation, “It’s a big place, I suppose, so I think you’re right in trying to get information. At least then we have a direction to go. I know you all wish Elena would just come here, and somehow do whatever is done to make this go away, but I will not bring her or anyone else besides Trinity, through the portals, until I know for certain what we are up against, and how we are going to keep them safe.” With that Lee looked each member in the room, straight in the eyes, to make sure they understood.

“I have my own reasons for bringing Trinity, and she and I alone know them. She also understands the risks, and I think can help me figure this puzzle out”. Lee looked at Falan and asked, “What have you found out about what I saw during the attack?” Falan glanced around and looked a bit pale.

“What is he referring to, Falan?” asked the Premier. Falan looked past Lee at Trendar, who was pacing around in the background, then at the Premier

“Sir, I request before we discuss this, the room is cleared except for yourself, Lee, Rotar and me.” Trendar visibly stiffened when he heard Falan’s request to the Premier, and started to object, but the Premier nodded at Falan.

“Clear this room immediately. Guards, make sure no one enters until I say”, commanded the Premier. The guards snapped into action and hustled the scribes and servants out, along with Trendar, who was glaring at those who remained. Falan waited until all were gone, and even then he hesitated, as he then explained what he was told by Lee to the Premier. Lee waited with interest, on whatever new information Falan had learned.

Trinity faintly heard the commotion of people exiting the private room behind her, as she studied the wall mural, when suddenly she felt the armor she was wearing stiffen, and she was quite startled by it. She glanced at it under her cloak, and it appeared as if it were faintly glowing a red hue! Then she heard, “Hello! If it isn’t the curious artist!” behind her, and immediately she jerked the cloak closed, recognizing the voice as the same one in the hall earlier.

Trinity turned and smiled, “Hello, again. I thought you would be in the ‘big meeting’?”She saw the anger in his eyes, belying the fake smile he had on his face.

“My services were not needed at this time, so I am taking a break.” Trendar replied.

Trinity could tell he was fuming behind the smile, “That’s cool. I’m sure you are not missing any important stuff,” as she turned back to the painting.

Trinity was just starting to focus on the painting again, when suddenly raised voices came from the secure room, and she heard “TRENDAR!!! Get in here now!!!!” And at the same time, she was shoved forcefully from behind, into the wall which was opening into a dark room or hall, and then closed behind her, with Trendar locked inside the hall with her.

Trinity stumbled forward and rolled, popping up on her feet, facing Trendar in the dark room. She could hear shouts, and banging on the closed hidden door. “It’s just you and me young artist,” Trendar said sarcastically. “I have to wonder, why of all the people the Bevan knows, why he brought you, hmmm?”

She kept silent, as she looked for a way out or a way to open the door. Trinity watched him, as she was searching, and she kept quiet as he kept asking questions of her, yet more or less to himself. “He has so many warrior friends.” Seeing her look of surprise, he explained, “Oh, yes. I know all about the Bevan and his life through the portal. They are not the only ones who can travel back and forth. Some of us have done it for ages…”. He suddenly cut himself off, realizing he had perhaps revealed too much.

Trinity had been scanning the dark room for a way out, and found it to her right. It was a dark corridor, but it was at least an option, if she could not get the door she was pushed through, back open. She could feel the leather armor pulse, and the arm gauntlets tighten on her, and she was glad her cloak was closed as not to reveal it to Trendar. She wasn’t sure why, but she thought it best kept secret from him, for the time being.

“Oh, there’s hundreds of ways out, but I am afraid I can’t let you go, until I get what I need.” taunted Trendar, as if he could read her thoughts. “So, tell me, young artist, why did the Bevan bring you, instead of anyone else!?” his voice taking taking on a very sinister tone, echoing deep through the dark room. His eyes were seeming to glow a dull orange.

Trinity inwardly gasped at the change, and her vest and gauntlets all stiffened, and could she feel them warm, as her hands slipped back behind her, and she gripped the handles of her blades. “Why don’t you ask him?” she inquired in exasperation. Following up in a firm, but shaky voice “Or are you scared to?”

Trinity saw his head snap up, and he growled, “Watch your words, Child, you have no idea what I am or what I am capable of!!”

Trinity caught the slip of “What I am” instead of “Who I am” and she saw Trendar’s eyes seem to glow dark red, and she suddenly saw the knife in his hand, long curved and thin dark yellowish colored blade with cryptic symbols on it. She also noticed his hands did not look normal, they had super thick-looking skin, and his fingernails were round, and pointed like an animal’s. Trinity backed farther away, as Trendar appeared to slowly get taller, and bigger, and more like a creature, compared to how he previously appeared.

“Now you will tell me what I want to know, or you will suffer great pain, and agony, and in the end, you will tell me anyway!!” roared Trendar in the tunnel. Trinity was taken aback by the sheer forcefulness of his voice. She moved parallel in the room, to gain distance, as it was longer than it was wide. She suddenly felt somehow lighter, and the armor that Jondar had given her started vibrating against her, and she could “feel” as if it were alive!

Trinity slid the blades from their sheathes on her back, and moved to a guard stance. “I’m not sure who…what you are, but I’m telling you nothing, and I’m leaving! So, get open that door, or I will when you’re gone”

Trendar saw the black blades, and had a sudden thought that he had seen them before in the past, but could not place them at the moment. His eyes narrowed, as his glance caught a glimpse of what looked like leather armor under her cloak. “I see that old fool Jondar has been meddling again. It won’t help you, in the end. You will see”.

Trinity did not answer. She held her guard position, trying to see what he would try first. She knew he was stronger and much bigger, but she relied on her speed to make up the difference. Remembering what her Uncle said, “Fast and violent is the advantage,” she readied herself for his first move.

It came so fast, she almost missed blocking it. She was dumbfounded at the lightening speed of his attack. Trendar thrust his short sword straight at her right arm, not trying to kill her, but to disarm her. Trinity had her right arm bent at the elbow across her body with her blade up protecting her chest, and her left arm out in front, pointing at him.

Her defense was to pivot her right side back and away, and thrust at his blade with her left blade. The effect knocked his blade off line, and past her arched body, as she spun around to face him again, while he drew back from the thrust, and swiped his sword again, at where her arm would have been.

Trinity realized that despite being big and ugly, her opponent had really good skill, and she was evenly matched, much to her surprise, as she thought of him, previously, as kind of weak the few times she saw him.

Trendar did not hesitate. He again attacked, this time swiping at one of her legs, and she dropped a blade down and flat against her thigh, as his blade struck, blocking it from cutting. She immediately swiped at the blade hand with her other knife, but he pivoted away. Trinity took the opportunity to sling her cloak off, and at him for a distraction, but she didn’t need to, as Trendar saw her exposed armor, with it’s glowing reddish hue, and he visibly paled. She heard him mutter, “Lost defenders’ armor! It’s not possible!”

He again stabbed at her arm, straight thrust — not holding back, the tip striking her left gauntlet, but it did not penetrate the leather, but instead, the force shoved her arm into her mid section. Trinity gasped at the force of the blow. She just knew she had to be deeply cut, but the gauntlet vibrated on her arm. and the armor did the same on her chest, and torso. She reacted instinctively, and spun her other blade in an arc in front of herself, striking his wrist, and the blade not even slowing as it cut through the skin, muscle and bone, severing his hand at the wrist.

Trendar roared in pain, stumbling back, gripping his wrist, and screaming so loud the walls felt like they were vibrating, as he stumbled and staggered backwards, turning to run down the tunnel.

“Lost defender or not, I’ll have my revenge!!!!!!”. Trinity kicked his severed hand away, and stood there trembling for a couple minutes, unsure If she should go after him, or try and get out.

As Falan revealed what he had learned of Trendar, the Premeir grew stiffer and more angry. “That man has been by mine and my family’s side, longer than I can remember!” he growled. “You’re telling me, that he could possibly be the reason we are again at war? A spy? A traitor??” He continued, “Get him back in here IMMEDIATELY!!” bellowed the Premier. “Guards!” he shouted, and the doors were forcefully opened, and the other guard came in, sword drawn, scanning for an enemy and looking to protect the Premier. As the guard rushed in, Lee, Falan, and Rotar all spotted Trendar standing behind Trinity, by the mural, and as the Premier shouted “Trendar?!? Get in here now!!!”

But, before they could act, the wall seemed to part, and Trendar shoved Trinity into the dark void, and followed. Then, as quickly as it opened, the passage shut again, not leaving so much as a hint of where it was! Lee and the others rushed over and shoved and pushed on the walls to no avail.

The Premier said, “How did he know of these passages? They were supposed to be sealed after the priests were banished. If he knows of these, the treachery is worse than I thought. He may have found passage to the Chamber!”

The Premier continued as he quickly made his way back into the meeting hall, “Rotar, get your trusted guards and secure the Chamber at all costs!” Lee was still trying to find a way into the passage to help Trinity, and only left that when the Premier called to him, “Bevan? You will not get in that way, come, we will get the old text, and find a way in. It would be easier if there were someone that knew the old passages.”

Rotar left to assemble the guards for the protection of the Chamber, while the others looked through a huge, old, hand-written book, that had hand drawn maps, and what looked like incantations all written in a dialect foreign to Lee. The page was turned and Lee immediately saw the mural room, and there was the open passage with more foreign writing. Falan asked, “Can you read this, Premier?”

“Some, I can,” answered the Premier, “These tell of the uses of the passes and the meaning of the murals. I’ve read this, when I was but a lad. The others are in a language of the priests, and I cannot decipher.”

Lee was becoming more frustrated by the second, and said “The let’s get some tools, and some men, and knock a hole in the wall! My young kin is trapped in this space with him, and we need to get in there NOW!” Lee walked back out of the doorway and was surprised to see Jondar coming into the mural room.

“Rotar told me what happened. I came as quickly as I could.” Jondar explained. The Premier and Falan had come back into the room, joining Lee and Jondar. The Premier carried the ancient text. Jondar saluted him, “Sir, unless you can speak the language of the priests, you will not get that door open with that book. It was written for them to use to pass on the escape and spy routes.” As he was talking, Jondar was running his hand over the mural, where the hidden door was, and said, “Some of these passages were used after the priests were expelled, but not for spying or escaping, but for quick movement of the Lost Defenders”. As he said that, he pushed a spot with his finger on the mural and the door flung open!

Trinity heard a click behind her, and quickly spun bringing her weapons up to her guard position, not yet sure if Trendar had somehow managed to get behind her and open a new passage. Jondar, her Uncle Lee, and Falan, all came rushing in! Trinity dropped her guard and Lee grabbed her, “Are you ok? No injuries? What happened?”

Before Trinity could reply, Jondar said, “It looks as though Trendar is a SkinWalker, and not who he seemed,” as he pointed his short sword at the severed hand and knife. Jondar retrieved the knife and looked at the inscriptions and designs. “Nothing of interest. It’s all curses for it’s victims, more important, is the fact that a SkinWalker still survives. They were thought to be hunted to the last one, ages ago. Very powerful they are, very skilled, but not, I see, a match for you, young lady,” he said to Trinity. “I was correct when I sensed something in you, and I am justified in giving you the armor of the Lost Defenders for sure now. Premier, there’s not much hope of catching him, but I will follow and see what I can find, if that is your wish?”

“Yes, Jondar, take who you need, and find that traitor and destroy it, or bring it before me!” directed the Premier.

Jondar saluted and rapidly walked out of the room, headed to his quarters to get his weapons and gear, “I’ll be back in a couple minutes,” he said as he left.

Falan had gone a short way down the tunnel and came back, “He’s leaving a trail a blind Brak could follow, maybe he will bleed out before too far,” he said.

Jondar came back in as he said that, and replied, “SkinWalkers rarely die easily, they take a lot of killing. I’ve seen SkinWalkers take on entire squads and win. I’ve seen them stuck full of holes that no one would survive, and they just kept going. I’m hopeful his injury slows him down, but I have little hope he’s expired.” Everyone turned as Jondar walked back in the room, wearing bronze colored leather armor with dark red highlights, he had a short spear in his left hand, and a sword in his right, on his back were two short doubled-bladed axes.

Falan immediately snapped a salute, as the Premier said, “Not since I was a child, have I seen the armor of the Lost Defenders’ Destroyer Squad, Jondar. I was wondering how you knew so much about the shapeshifter and the hidden passages. It is truly an honor to be in your presence, I had thought that line was gone long ago.”

Jondar inclined his head in a slight bow, “There are, as you see Premier, still a few of us left. We remain hidden, but ready to serve when needed. We watch, teach, and always prepare, and try to find those with the inherited talent to become a Lost Defender.” As he spoke he was looking straight at Trinity. “Tell me, Trinity, did you feel anything unusual when you were in danger? Anything at all?”

Everyone in the room was suddenly looking at Trinity, and she blushed a little, but quickly spoke up, “The armor, it felt, how do I describe it? Before I knew he was there the armor tightened, then during the fight, it constantly felt like it was changing, like it was ALIVE!” she exclaimed.

Jondar nodded, “Then you truly have inherited your skill from a Lost Defender, for only with them does the armor meld with so completely. Now, I must go, if I hope to have any chance of catching him in the fortress. I will report back with any news.”

The Premier nodded, and as Jondar started down the passage, Lee, Falan and even Trinity all said, “You can’t go alone!”

“This is what I do,” Jondar explained looking back at them over his shoulder, “what I’ve always done, protect at all costs, from evil, this fortress, and it’s Premier, and family. You three must now find what it is you are supposed to do,” looking at Trinity again, “If what I suspect about you is true, your job is here as a Defender. There will come a time you will have to make an impossible decision, but this isn’t it.”

With that, Jondar walked into the dimly lit passage.

Categories
Bevan books Faith Life nature photography ramblings writing

Batman has Published Books

Batman says:

I was encouraged by Peach many years ago to put some of my thoughts on Firearms Instruction into a book form. If you know me you would realize how funny the thought of me writing a book on anything actually was. But being a good husband I started to write things down (yes, I actually know how to write, do they still even teach that in school?) and eventually had enough material for a book. This lead to finding out how to actually get the book out there for people to see. Amazon publishing’s program was the answer for me, straightforward and easy to figure out the basics. Funny, now I’m up to 3 books, and even though the masses are not rushing to buy them, I get a bit of satisfaction knowing I did that, and it’s all because I hate to disappoint my beautiful Peach. You get bored, check them out if nothing else they have cool covers.

Natural Shooting, Ramblings of a Country Boy, and Morning’s Glory are all on Amazon, and coming soon the full version of “The Bevan”.

Morning’s Glory

Ramblings of a Country Boy
Natural Shooting

“See Peach, I did it”

Categories
adventure Bevan family fantasy mystery Sci Fi series SyFy writing

The Bevan- Spy Exposed

Part IX

As they exited the portal Lee, Trinity and Rotar stopped and waited. “You could have told us it was raining” Lee said as he and Trinity pulled their cloak over their heads.

“I would have had I known it was raining” smiled Rotar, as he too, pulled on his hood, to cover up from the rain drops the size of acorns. “Come on,” he said “Let’s get moving before the rain slacks. It will cover any noise, and hide any sign we ever passed.”

The three started off, Rotar in the lead and they wound their way in a large circle, headed up and around a hill. Trinity was silent as she trudged along behind Rotar, and Lee was constantly looking around, and behind, while falling back several yards at times, to listen for any signs of being followed.

About a half mile from the portal they paused in the forest, under the thick canopy which slowed the rain some. Rotar had blended into the dim light, up against a huge tree trunk, and was listening intently, as he was sure he heard something nearby. Lee had stopped about three feet behind Trinity, who was leaning against a different tree, seemingly intently listening, but with her eyes closed and head hung down a little. Lee recognized the pose as one of concentration, and slipped silently, closer on the wet leaves covered ground, moving painstakingly slowly until he speak quietly to her. “Whatever has your interest,” he said, “it appears Rotar has also heard, let’s just relax and see if either of you can find anything, don’t speak, just nod if you understand.”

Trinity had been concentrating on trying to find the sound, so she almost jumped out of her skin when her uncle’s hand touched her shoulder, to alert her quietly as he approached from behind. Once she caught her wits, she nodded almost imperceptibly that she understood.

Lee became hyper-vigilant now, with both Rotar and Trinity possibly hearing something which his partially, deafened ears did not catch. They all stood, melded against the trunks of the ancient trees, as the last of the light faded, and the rain slowed to a drizzle and drips, still listening, seemingly not sure if they should move yet. Rotar ever so slowly started to draw his sword, he was positive that someone or something was approaching . Lee could see Rotar drawing his sword and again put his hand on Trinitys shoulder “Stay here!” he whispered and then slowly faded off into the darkness back the way they had come a bit before.

Trinity kept perfectly still against the tree, and saw Rotar slip off into the brush, with the darkness leaving her alone in the pitch black forest. She suddenly noticed movement in the brush, off to the side of where they had been walking, She could not see if it was Rotar or Lee, or what. The sounds and motions were coming this way, slowly, as if someone was sneaking along and stopping every step, or so. Trinity pressed herself back against the tree more, in an attempt to blend into it and try and remain unnoticed. Then she saw them. Three very big figures coming out into the path from the bushes, and one of them within a couple feet of where she was standing, with it’s back to her. She could hear them speaking to each other, “I tell you they were right around here, I heard them before they stopped,” said the one.

“Yer hearin’ things! They were farther up the trail, I tell ya,” said another. Suddenly, as the three were debating, an arrow struck one in the head, dropping it instantly.

As the other two stared in disbelief, Rotar appeared, sword drawn and Woosh! Down went the second one, while the third stumbled backwards, past Trinity and onto the ground. Rotar moved on to engage the second one, while he still off balance and trying to regain his footing. A heated battle, with swords clanging together, ensued. Rotar parried a sword blow, and quickly reversed his sword angle, chopping off the sword hand of his opponent, then suddenly spinning around to his left and decapitating the creature. Then the third one which had fallen, swiped at Rotar’s leg, striking his shin guard with it’s sword, and the force of the blow knocked Rotar off his feet. Before the last assailant could follow up, another arrow flew into the creature’s chest, flattening it back to the ground.

Lee appeared seconds later, and immediately moving to check on Rotar, who was still on the ground. “I’m fine” Rotar said, “The guard stopped the worst of the blow,”

Lee knelt down and said “Still, we can stop that bleeding, and wrap it up to prevent it getting infected.”As Lee was pulling off his backpack to get insta-clot, and a bandage, he said “It’s ok, Trinity you can move now, kiddo”.

Trinity had watched the quick and brutal battle unfolding within feet of her. She actually wasn’t idle, either. She had drawn the two blades she was given by her uncle, and was trying to figure out how to help, when it was suddenly over. As she was moving forward to help Lee with Rotar, she saw movement on the trail. She was hearing her uncle say it was ok to move, as she realized what she was seeing on the trail, was another of those things that had attacked her Aunt Elena and her back at the house, and it was aiming an arrow at either Rotar or Lee!

Without thinking, and falling back on her practice with swords and knives, Trinity flung a blade towards it, the black steel cutting through the air, without so much as a warning glint, while striking the assassin’s bow string, severing it with its blade, as it slid past, with the knife sinking into the creature’s chest. The Wrack had a look of surprise on its face, as it fell over dead.

Lee and Rotar both dove to opposite sides, as they heard the assassin’s bow string ‘TWANG!’ as it was severed. Trinity stepped out of the shadow of the tree, a bit shaken, but with enough teenage spunk to say in a shaky voice, “It’s ok! You can move now,” to both of them.

Lee glanced at Trinity, then the dead assassin, and resumed bandaging Rotar’s leg, “Nice job, Kiddo,” he said dryly.

Rotar nodded, “Really nice, and thank you. I’m sure we never saw him until you impaled him, and with Tryaks? This is a new alliance that I have not heard of”.

Lee helped him up, glancing at Trinity, who was even in the darkness, a bit pale. and he said to Rotar, “Give me a minute to check on the kid.”

He walked over, and sat down across from Trinity. “You ok, Kiddo? What you did was necessary, do not ever think otherwise. You saved Rotar and, or me, and I for one, am very thankful”.

Trinity looked at him and nodded, “It’s just not like a game, it’s for real. I really did that,” she said with a bit of bewilderment.

“Yes, Kiddo, and I’m sorry you had to. Remember it. Taking life, no matter what the reason, should be hard. But, if it’s to protect someone, it should be done quickly, and with no hesitation, Ok?” asked Lee, “Just like you did.” He assured her.

Trinity paused and looked at the dead assassin, and again nodded, “Ok, I promise, but can you get my knife? I don’t think I’m ready for that yet”.

Lee chuckled a little, “This one time, Kiddo, after that you’re on your own”.

Shortly after, all three resumed their path, Rotar a little slower, and with a limp, but still leading the way. They arrived at the boulder without further incident, and Rotar led the way down, and entered after making sure there was no sign that they could be followed. They quickly entered, going through a series of doors, and trap rooms, until exiting into the chamber, at the tunnel end.

Once there, they were met by Falan, who was up and around already, and two of the staff guards. “Glad to see you up and around, Falan” said Lee, “Hopefully, you can avoid falling from high places in the future!” he laughed.

“Thank you, Bevan” Falan responded, “I agree, I do not want to go through that again! I have bruises on my bruises,” he said. Who do we have here?” Falan asked, looking at Trinity, who was standing beside her Uncle Lee, still with her cloak hood pulled on.

Lee said “Can we discuss this someplace more quiet?”

Falan nodded immediately, “Yes!” and then quickly in a more subdued voice, added “Follow me, I have your quarters ready for you, we can talk there”.

Lee, Trinity, Rotar and Falan all walked through the winding passages, and flickering candle light. As they walked, Lee, Falan and Rotar talked in hushed voices, Lee explaining who Trinity was, but nothing more on why he brought her. Falan revealed what little he found about Trendar, while Trinity looked at dark murals on the walls. Their figures danced in the dim candlelight. She could see that each painting was a person or two, and as they passed a certain one, she stopped for a second, the face looked familiar. She quickly sped to catch up with the others, as they turned a corner, and entered a wide room with doors on both sides.

Falan led into one, as they all followed him in to the quarters for Lee, “Of course, young lady, I will get quarters for you prepared through that door!” he pointed to an interior door. “It locks on the other side, and also has a door to the hall” said Falan, as two guards left to go prepare the room.

“When you are settled, Lee, we can meet in the great hall,” said Rotar.

As they departed, a couple minutes later, there was a knock on the inner door, Lee opening it cautiously, and one of the guards said, “The young lady’s room is ready, if anything else is needed, do not hesitate to ask, as there are guards in the hall”.

The last statement caught Lee’s interest, “Excuse me, Sergeant,” he said “There were no guards in the halls last week, may I ask what changed?”

The guard replied, “Several small incidents make the higher ups think there are security issues, so we are doubling the guards and taking precautions to protect the secret chamber, the library, and the Premier’s family,” with that he left, silently closing the door behind him.

Later, Lee and Trinity sat at a small table, and he started to say something, but Trinity uncommonly interrupted, “Did you see the painting in the hall? The ones on the way here to our rooms?” She asked.

“I did see them, but I did not pay attention to them. Why do you ask?” he responded.

“There was one, with a man’s face, wearing like a hooded cloak like a monk, you know the kind?” Lee nodded yes, “I didn’t look long because I didn’t want to get left behind but something about it I swear I’ve seen before!” Trinity declared.

“That’s very strange, Kiddo, are you sure?” Lee asked.

“I’m sure it caught my attention, as someone I have seen before yes, but it was pretty dark in there,” she replied.

“Do you think you can find it again?” Lee asked. to which Trinity nodded, yes.

“Yes. I can! It’s seven pictures back down the hall” she asserted.

“Come on,” Lee said!as he got up, and they both headed out the door, and into the open space.

“We were wondering if it would be alright to go back down the hall a bit, and look at the paintings?” Lee inquired of the Sergeant.

“Certainly, and if you need to know anything, let me know. Just remember to keep the lowest part of the ceiling on your right, and you will wind up back here,” said the guard.

Lee and Trinity thanked him, and strolled down the hall from whence they had originally come. Lee was looking at the paintings and Trinity had gone ahead a bit and stopped, and she looked completely dumbfounded. Lee walked up and saw her expression, and before looking at the painting said, “What’s up?” He looked up as he asked his niece, and saw the mural was a painting of a field with several knights riding across it.

“I don’t understand,” said Trinity going to the next, and then the next painting. “This can’t be! These are not what I saw on the way in!”

Lee studied the paintings and said, “I do not doubt you, Kiddo, something is weird here. Let’s go back, and see what we can learn,” said Lee. They made their way back, and Lee stopped and asked the Sergeant about the paintings, and saw the man frown and he looked a bit intimidated as he answered, “I’ve been told they were painted long ago, by wizards and sages. Back before such folk were put out of the fortress, for trying to influence decisions made by the Premiers. I don’t look at them much, they always seem to change. Do not laugh! I’ve seen it with my own eyes. One minute a tree or lake scene, the next a battle”. The guard shifted on his feet nervously, “I do not speak around them, I feel they are watching and listening. I know it’s a wild tale, but that’s my feeling about the paintings on the eastern tunnel wall,” he said.

Lee thanked the guard, and he and Trinity retired to their lodgings for a bit.

“Ok, so what did we learn?” asked Lee. “You see a painting of someone that looked familiar. We go back, and the painting is no longer there, or has been swapped out. Why?” he asked.

Trinity looked thoughtful, but puzzled, and shook her head, “I wish I could place what looked so familiar about it, but I only glanced at it. Maybe tomorrow will give me us some more clues, as we get to see more of the fortress. We are going to see more, aren’t we?” She asked.

Lee nodded in the affirmative, “Yes, we are, I want to see as much as we can. We need to know what goes on here and why, before we can make a decision on how to act. Are you still up for this? It’s going to get very boring for you, if I am stuck with the Premier and his family,” he replied.

Trinity nodded, “Yes, I’m ready and want to help figure this out. I’m sure I can help in some way,” she replied, “Can we go outside in open space? I’d like to practice outdoors, but privately, if I can?” she asked.

“From what I gather, Kiddo, we can go anyplace we want, and I know they have several places for sword practice, solitary or with partners. I’ll make sure you are granted access in the morning, till then, off to bed. I need to think and rest myself”, answered her Uncle Lee.

“Goodnight,” saluted Trinity, and went into her quarters.

Lee went over the events of the past few days, and tried to see a pattern which would help him figure the best course of action, for them to take. “It is obvious that Elena will have to come through the portal, and to the fortress,” thought Lee, “but there are still many questions to be answered first, like when? Is it safe? How long would it take? Who comes with her? Can the war be ended just by her sitting in some seat? And reading the correct verses?” Lee laid back on his bunk, arms behind his head, staring at the ceiling, and fell asleep pondering these and many more questions.

Lee was awakened by a tap at his door. He got up and answered, to find a servant with breakfast for him and Trinity.

“Should I wake the young lady by her door sir, or is leaving it here ok?” asked the servant.

“Here is fine, and thank you!” Lee replied, taking the large breakfast tray full of fruits, bread, eggs and thick slices of bacon. Before Lee ate, or woke Trinity, he showered, dressed in his woodsman’s outfit, and then tapped on the adjoining door calling out “If you’re hungry, Kiddo, you better hop to it before I eat everything!”

He heard muttering and grumbling about it being so early, and walked off laughing to himself. Trinity came out shortly, and sat and ate some breakfast.

“Take your time. I have to meet Rotar and Falan this morning, and make a few arrangements. It will only take 30-40 minutes, I reckon, then I’ll come back and we can take you to where you can practice. Now don’t forget, I will need you later to poke around the outer chamber hall, while I am talking to the Premier,” said Lee.

“Ok, Unc, that will give me time to do a few things I need to do, but I will be here when you come back,” replied Trinity.

Lee reminded her, “Don’t go far, Kiddo, until we get a better feel for the place. It’s easy to get turned around in here,” as he was walking out the door, closing it behind him.

Trinity waited till Lee was gone, ate a few more pieces of fruit and bacon, and then went to her room, showered and got dressed, to include her knives and cloak, then she headed out the door. She smiled at the guard, as she walked past him, on her way back to the pictures on the wall in the passage. Once there, Trinity leaned against the opposite wall, and stared at the painting she was sure was the one that caught her attention at first, and she waited.

It suddenly dawned on her what the painting was; a dim lit room, with what looked like a throne made from tree roots coming up out of the ground and wall. There was a woman, dressed in shiny green leather armor, sparkling in the candle light and glowing with some other sort of light, while she held two blades, one dripping blood, the other blade parrying a sword blade, as she fought with two big creatures. There were others fighting in the chamber, but Trinity’s eyes were drawn to the woman, who looked remarkably like someone she knew well. The woman looked like her Aunt Elena, and there was a young girl on the throne, she had her eyes closed, and looked limp, as if she was sleeping, but there was a red glow emitting from her, and the throne around her. There was a book in her lap, with pages open. Trinity was stunned to see that the girl in the chair looked like her sister ‘Lena, or her twin! Trinity was stunned! She was suddenly snapped out of her staring, however, startled by a voice out of the dark hallway, farther down, “Hello, I see the paintings interest you,” the voice said, “Allow me to tell you about them, if I may”.

Trinity was instantly on alert, something about the voice made her sense of danger alarms ring in her head, and she slid a hand up behind her, gripping one of her blades, the movement hidden under her cloak.

“Oh, Hi, I did not see you or hear you walking up? Where did you come from? and who are you?” she asked cautiously.

“I am Trendar,” the voice replied, as the figure moved closer up the hall, “My apologies for being silent. It’s a habit I learned long ago, and I still find myself doing it,” he said.

Trinity knew something was off about this person, her senses told her that, but she was willing to listen to what he had to say about the painting. “The painting!!???” Her mine was screaming at her inwardly. It had changed to a different scene! Now it looked like monks, or at least people dressed like them, were being forced out of the fortress by armed men.

Trendar looked at the painting, and then the young woman, “Ah, the reckoning. This was when the wizards and sages finally overstepped their bounds, and were forced out into the wilds,” he explained. “It was a bad time for all, but the wizards and sages more than most, unable to find food or shelter, as it was winter, most wandered and were lost forever. Too bad really, they were not all bad and had uses, but paranoid men make powerful enemies. Funny you should stop at this particular painting, Young Lady, For it is called the “telling” painting, you have undoubtedly seen that it changes, they all do. But this painting when it changes, only reveals truths. It is said that it shows who is true, who is false, and reveals past and future events. Have you seen anything interesting in it?” He turned to face her, his voice changing to a bit more urgent tone, and Trinity at once recognized the man in front of her, as the same man she saw in the painting on the way in.

Trinity answered hesitantly, “Not really, it’s just interesting in the fact that I’m an artist myself, and seeing different styles interests me”.

Trendar looked at her for a few seconds more in silence, and her hand gripped her blade handle tighter, but then he said, “My apologies, I never got your name, it’s so rare we have visitors here, and I tend to ramble without thinking,” he said with expectation.

Trinity said, “My name is Trinity, I came with Lee, and we are friends of Rotar and Falan, and I do not wish to be rude, but I am late getting back. Thank you for explaining the painting, it was interesting,” Trinity turned, and walked back up the hall not looking back, but could feel his eyes staring at her, until she rounded the corner. Trendar glanced at the painting, then back down the hall as he retraced his steps until he came to a candle, pulled its handle and slipped inside the passage that opened.

Trinity went back to her room, and locked the hall door. She was a bit mad at herself, because she realized she was actually frightened for a few minutes. “I just need to go practice, and work on some things, that’s all,” she griped as she began to calm herself and focus on what she saw, and what she was told.

As Lee was returning, he came back up the same hall, and heard a voice like Trendar’s, so he stopped and waited in the shadows around the corner, listening.

“You will do as you are commanded! Take this vial, and pour it in the Royal Family’s noon drink! Now go! And you can be thankful I do not think of some other punishment for your family’s past failures!”.

Lee heard a muttered, “Yes, Cailleach,” and then heard footsteps approaching, so he slipped back down the hall to an intersection, and ducked in one. A couple seconds later a figure passed, and Lee followed it up the passage and as it entered the dining hall, the figure passed a guard and smiled “Almost time to eat, Eh?”

Lee recognized him as a cook’s assistant, as he went into the kitchen, Lee quickly grabbed the guard, “Listen, that guy is going to poison the Royal Family! Summon help! And hurry! We must catch him in the act so we can find out who sent him!” he urged.

The guard looked a bit concerned, but had seen Lee before with the Royal Family and also Rotar and Falan, so he pulled a cord to summon his Sergeant, who immediately came in from another room. All was explained, and Lee and the Sergeant watched the cook’s assistant through one of the serving slots, and so far he was unable to get to the drink dispenser, the guard was sent to fetch the royal guards, and bumped into Rotar instead, he was filled in, and hurried to the dining hall, as the guard continued. Rotar joined the Sergeant and Lee, and they all soon saw cook’s assistant take a blue bottle out of his waist band, glancing around surreptitiously. As he approached the drinks, Rotar, the Sergeant and Lee all three, burst in the room, and grabbed him before he could pour the contents into the drinks!

Several minutes later in a side room, the assistant was bound secure in a chair, and was being questioned by the Premier, and his Chief of Security. Lee left to go meet with Trinity, and tell her all of what had occurred, and apologize for taking longer than expected. But, as he was leaving, he again saw Trendar slipping away down the hall. Moving very much as if he did not want to be noticed, causing Lee to remember the voice he heard. Could the voice he heard have been Trendar?

Lee went in his room, closed the door behind him and knocked on Trinity’s door, which she immediately opened, “Oh my gosh! I got stuff to tell you, Uncle Lee!!” she exclaimed.

Lee held a hand over her mouth for a second and whispered “Not here,” and then said in a normal voice, “I apologize for being late. I got held up longer than expected, the good news is that you and I both have free reign of the entire fortress, without escort. Now if you are ready, we can go and I’ll show you the practice area”.

“Oh, it’s ok! I got a couple things done while you were away, and yes, I’m ready! I need to practice, and feel some sun on me!”, responded Trinity in her normal sunny manner.

They left the room through Trinity’s door, and Lee led her through several winding turns and twists, explaining along the way, “They built it this way to confuse any enemy that might get inside. They could wander for hours if they did not know the correct way,” as they exited a door into a courtyard, which had several practice dummies, along with swords, spears, shields, bows and other weapons in racks around the perimeter.

Lee went and sat in an alcove to give her space, and only occasionally glanced up to see how she was progressing. Lee was joined by a Treslander, he had not met, who introduced himself as Jondar, the head instructor for new recruits, in service of the Premier. Lee took an immediate liking to the friendly, confidant way Jondar spoke and held himself. He was watching Trinity spin and strike a dummy in the thighs, with two practice mid length blades, and then tuck and roll backwards, springing up and twisting and then stabbing a different dummy in the chest, while slinging her other blade into the chest of a third. “That young lady has talent!” he remarked, “Are all taught how to fight like that where you are from?” he asked, and then quickly said, “Wait don’t answer! I do not want you to think I’m prying, or gathering information!” he quickly interjected.

Lee smiled, “It’s ok! I spoke to Rotar and Falan, who both trust you, so I think I can trust you, as well. The answer is, I’m not sure how many are. Each family raises their children how they see fit. Some teach them to be strong, and show them how to take care of themselves, some don’t. Others, like that young lady, her parents taught her both how to be a girl, and also how to defend herself, but I believe as far as her blade skills, she has taught herself those”.

Jondar was even more impressed when he heard that she was self taught, “No formal training at all?? That’s amazing.” he said in amazement. “She moves like some of the ancient fighters we have in legend, back when there were supposedly dragons, and such, if you believe in those things,” he continued. “Do you think she would take a bit of instruction from an old teacher like me? I’ve spotted a ‘tell’ before she attacks”

Lee replied, “The dip of the blade towards her center? I saw it too, and to answer your question, I do not know, let’s ask. Trinity?” he said loud enough to get her attention, “Come meet a friend when you can spare a moment!”

Trinity went through her practice routine quick but efficiently, feeling her muscles work and limber up, as she attacked and parred from different angles and sides. She mentally worked on speed, but accuracy in the blows, striking vital joints and nerve bundles, to incapacitate or disarm before striking a killing blow. She took a short break to go over by her Uncle Lee and meet this “friend” greeting him with a simple “Hi”and quick wave to the stranger, as she plopped into an adjacent chair.

Lee introduced her, “Trinity, this is Jondar, he is a friend of Rotar and Falan, and he is also the head blade instructor for the Premier’s recruits.” Jondar stood and bowed, arm across his chest, as he was introduced, “At your service, my lady! You have an abundance of talent with a blade, and Lee tells me you are self taught! That’s incredible,” Jondar greeted her energetically.

Trinity flush from the exertion of the training said, “Well, thank you! It’s nice to meet you, and yes, Sir. I learned all I know by teaching myself, trial and error,” she shrugged. Trinity poured a glass of water from the jug on the table, and was drinking as Lee said, “Jondar has spotted something in your attack, that it it was noticed by a combatant early enough, may lead to you getting the short end of the stick,” to which Trinity raised an eyebrow as she was drinking.

Jondar offered, “Not a critique, just an observation from years of watching, and teaching. If you would allow me to show you, I think with your ability, you would correct it pretty quickly”.

Trinity looked at her uncle and then Jondar and grinned gamely, “I’m always willing to learn more! So, yes! Please show me what it is, and I will try and work on it.”

Jondar stood and smiled, “Good! That’s the spirit I wish we had more of around here!”as he walked to a rack drawing a practice sword, and a very short knife. Lee noticed Jondar had a very slight limp, that he would later learn was one of many injuries the highly decorated soldier had obtained in battle, before he was made chief instructor.

Lee watched the scene as the two squared off. “You have speed and flexibility on your side, said Jondar, “Use it to your advantage. Most here fight with short swords, and they may be lighter, but they also take time to change direction. In a battle, tenths of seconds can mean the difference in being cut or not”.

Lee admired Jondar instructing Trinity as they sparred. He could instantly tell this man was a very good teacher, and knew how to impart the wisdom if the student was willing to learn.

Trinity was warily sizing up Jondar, as they circled. He was a big man and yet moved lightly on his feet, always seemingly in balance. She did pick up on the slight limp and stored that in her head. She suddenly made a move to attack, feinting to the left side, and seeing the normal reaction of Jondar’s sword starting to move, but she instead stopped that attack, and spun her whole body around, bringing both swords around to the right side. To her surprise, Jondar had moved back out of her reach, and she missed striking him at all. Astutely, instead of leaving herself open for attack, she followed through the spin, diving and rolling and then springing back up on her feet, before he could adjust his attack.

“Splendid!” Jondar exclaimed. “Ok, now face me, and attack. Let me see if I can show you the small thing I saw”.

Trinity faced him with one sword held low and the other angled up, and across her body, as she watched for an opening. She saw him lean his weight on the side of the limp, and she lunged, at which point he swept her sword out and away from his body with his sword. Then swiftly pulled her past him, striking her side with the short knife, as she tumbled and rolled back up again, facing him with speed.

Jondar smiled at her, and nodded “Again,”and again Trinity tried to attack him, and each time, it was as if he knew what she was going to do, before she did it. Trinity was not getting frustrated, but she was getting confused as to how he could know, and finally, Jondar said, “I have to hand it to you, young lady, you have struck me more times in this short match, than I can remember being struck in months of teaching, but now let’s take a break, and then I will show you what I found”.

They both returned to the table by Lee, and sat and drank an abundance of cool refreshing water. “How was that, Kiddo?” Lee asked.

Trinity drank her water, and said “Confusing! I mean it seemed like every attack I tried, he knew I was coming!”

Lee asked “So, what does that tell you?”

Trinity just shook her head, “I have no idea!”

“Allow me to explain if I may,” Jondar said. Lee and I noticed something when you were practicing, which did two things for me. One told me that Lee is a very observant person, for it was very very subtle, and two, told me when you were going to attack”.

Trinity again looked confused, “I don’t understand? What is it I do that tells you I’m going to attack??” She asked exasperatedly.

“Easier to show you. One more demonstration?” Jondar asked.

Trinity exclaimed “Yes!” getting up and following Jondar to a practice dummy.

“Put your guards up like you are going to attack, and hold them there,” said Jondar. Lee was curious how he was going to demonstrate such a subtle move to Trinity, as it’s barely perceptible. Jondar watched Trinity move to one of her guard poses, and he took two thin pointed rods, and stuck them at the points of the swords, and Trinity started to move, “No, don’t move. Hold that guard position!” Jondar said. Trinity resumed the position and Jondar moved behind her, and said “Now, when you are ready, attack, but don’t knock my pointers over”.

Trinity tried several different guard positions, and each time she set up, Jondar would put the pointers at the ends of her blades, and each time she attacked, she would knock one or the other, or both over as her attack started. “Do you see it yet?” Jondar asked, “It’s very subtle, but it’s there on every attack,” and Trinity started to see what he meant. Her blades moved almost imperceptibly, as she started her attack.

She was astounded that anyone could notice it, as it was such a minute move, “How on earth did you see that?” she asked both of them. “I had no idea I was even doing it”.

Jondar answered “Any time you can watch a possible opponent, you should look for weakness, your ‘tell’ was the only thing I could see that would give me an advantage. Now that you know of it, you can work to eliminate it”.

Trinity practiced several hours more, while Lee and Jondar talked about old tales, both here and on the other side of the portal. They talked about weapons, and wars, and soldiers, and Lee learned that there was a legend of an archer, “the Bevan” who would bring several chosen people through the portal. There would be a huge battle, and the fortress would be breached, but in the end, the words would be spoken, and the planet would heal itself, swallowing up the evil.

Jondar eventually got up to leave, and said “I, with your permission, will send an outfit for her to her room. She needs leather protection while here. It can be worn under her cloak, as it is often done, and she deserves it. Anyone that can get through my defenses that many times, deserves a prize”.

Lee stood and shook his hand, and Jondar said “There are stories of another female warrior with skills such as your niece Trinity’s, but she has not been seen in a long time. I’ll have the leather made after that fashion, it suits her,” and with the warrior left, and Lee stared at his back, and then at Trinity, thoughtfully as she was finishing up decapitating a dummy with a swiping blow, and a giggle “Whoops!”

Later that evening, Lee and Trinity were discussing the days events, and she told him everything that happened earlier, to include meeting that “creepy” Trendar person, and swearing it was his face in the painting, and that she had seen him before, back at home but how that’s possible, she really could not say. There was a knock at the door, and Lee answered, and was handed a package of clothes as he smiled, “That was fast, Jondar!”he said out loud, as he turned to Trinity, “These are for you! Seems you impressed the instructor. He felt you needed leather armor and an outfit while you are here”.

Trinity took the bundle and said “Seriously? Not really my style to wear leather.”

Lee laughed, “I said I’d give it to you, I did not say you would wear it”. They talked a few more minutes, and then each retired for the night.

Early the next morning after breakfast, Lee and Trinity headed to the great hall. Lee did not chide her for wearing the leather armor vest, dark tan, slightly reddish in color, adorned with black round discs made to stop sharp objects, shin guards and forearm guards, that were given to her by Jondar, but he did ask “Why the change of mind about the outfit, “Kiddo?”

“Not really sure. It’s funny, I thought it was too small, but now it fits like perfect. Will take a little getting used to, but it’s light, and my cloak covers it. Besides, it reminds me of the one I saw in the painting, to be honest, except that one was green”.

“We are going to the great hall I told you about. I’ll be stuck talking with the Premier, so while I’m in there, you look around, especially at that mural. See what you can find,” Lee said. Lee and Trinity both were surprised, that when they passed a guard, he would snap to attention upon seeing the outfit she was wearing. “Looks like that suit must represent something special, Kiddo!” Lee joked.

As they entered the great hall, the two Premier guards snapped to attention, and Rotar and Falan both bowed with their arms across their chests, “Welcome, Lee and Trinity! I see you are wearing the armor of the ‘Lost Defenders’. It has been ages since Jondar awarded that to anyone! Besides showing a warriors prowess, it means you show great skill, and the willingness to learn. In the fortress you can come and go as you please, and answer to only the Premier, if he so needs,” said Rotar with respect in his voice. “And Bevan, your catching of the traitor has lead to many other spies being found out, and we are still looking for the others, you too, of course have free passage in, and to and from, the fortress. We are in your debt, but now we must go and make plans with the Premier. Come, Lee and you also, Trinity if you wish,” he said.

“Thank you, no” answered Trinity, “I think I would rather stay and look at the paintings, and see what else I can find of interest, if that’s, Ok?”

“As you wish, my lady, ring any bell you see anywhere, if you need anything at all,” replied Rotar.

As they turned to go, Lee looked at Trinity and said in almost a whisper, “Stay on your guard, and out of mischief,” and he followed them into the other chamber.

Categories
adventure danger evil family good mystery nature Sci Fi SyFy travel writing

The “Bevan” – Intruders

Part VI

Michael was watching the cameras and saw a flicker on the screen, it was quick and moved swiftly along the fence until it finally disappeared from sight. He did not immediately jump up or sound an alarm. He did what he was supposed to do, he kept watching, because as of yet, there was no need to make the others worry. Several minutes later, Michael again saw the flicker, but this time it was inside perimeter, and near the main house. He immediately recognized it as the Loarn, one of the portal watchers, and he was now on the deck of the main house. Michael alerted Matthew, His mother Elena, Liam and Van, telling Matthew and Liam to meet at the main house where Elena and Trinity were.

As the others were gathering at the main house, Van was not idle, he was gathering supplies via the internet, to have them dropped off at the property, and all the while guarding the young children and other wives. Van knew that despite wanting to rush off and help the others in case of some confrontation, he alone was the last protection for the rest of the extended family and he would not let anything happen to any of his wards if he could stop it.

Michael got to the main house first, and was met by the Loarn and Elena his mother, she relayed the message that 3 Braks and a Wrack had passed through the portal nearest the house about an hour ago, where they were now he did not know, but his scouts were looking for them, as Elena was relaying this message, the Loarn turned and looked towards the east fence and watched as two of his kind slipped through, and avoided the traps that they were warned of, as they headed straight to him. The Loarn met them, and there was a conversation between them that Elena could only hear part of, the Loarn turned and relayed the scouts’ message that six more total had passed through different portals, 2 more Braks and 4 Wracks, bringing the known total to 5 each. Elena told the others, who had now all arrived, and paused turning to the Loarn “Thank you my friend!! We will be ready for them, but only because of your help.” The Loarn then turned and he and his kin left.

Michael, Liam, Matthew, and Elena moved inside and sat at the table, “Well, things are accelerating quickly it seems,” said Michael. “Ok, we need to really tighten security up I think” and the others nodded in agreement.

Matthew said, “Mom, the first thing we need to do is get you and Trinity,” looking up at the teenager that had slipped in and was standing behind her dad Liam’s chair. “ The first thing we need to do, is move you to one of the other houses, as surreptitiously as we can, and set this one as the trap for as many as we can. It’s obvious they know where you are, and in which house, so we can use that to our advantage.”

Liam said, “I agree, Sis. Let’s put her in my house for now,” he said addressing his nephews. “That way there are several people who can help keep watch, in the same place. I also think we should move her from place to place, so as not to let them pin her location down.”

“Are you ok staying with her Trinity? I know it’s got to be a bit tough and stressful”.

Trinity replied in that quiet voice she has, “Wouldn’t have it any other way, Dad, I think I could help, if need be, but I will stay with Aunt Elena as long as you want me to, or until I am needed someplace else.” Trinity was also thinking to herself, that she needed her wooden practice blades, and if they moved back to their house, she could grab them and have them handy, not cutting sharp but they were formidable weapons to strike with, and could be used to stab if she needed.

Elena started to protest not just the moving, but putting Trinity into such a precarious spot, but Michael said before she could, “Well, that’s settled. Let’s make the move in the next hour or so, as I think they would expect us to stay quiet during the day”.

Van heard the sound again, like something dragging across a screen very slowly, so you hear each time it hit a new square. He was busy sending emails to a network of people asking for reports on anything that he could relate to the Braks or Treslanders. Van slowly tore his eyes away from the computer screen, after hearing the noise again, seemingly coming from outside the window. Turning his head towards the window in the room, he faintly saw movement through the curtain and blinds. Van picked up his pistol and as silently as he could, he stood up and backed out of the room. Stopping in the hall just outside the bedroom door, Van was noticed by River who immediately realized something was wrong. River quickly and silently, gathered all the kids and others together in the den.

Van stood by the doorframe for a second, then glanced down the hall to the den, seeing River had everyone there, he slipped down the hall to the den, “Stay here,” he said to River. “Look after them, I’ll be right back. Do not leave this room, ‘til I get back and use that,” he said, nodding towards the shotgun by the door. “Point it down the hall, and if anyone comes, just shoot, don’t think, just shoot,” and with that he was gone, slipping out the side door.

River picked up the shotgun and pointed it down the hall like she was told, and waited. Van slipped around the opposite side of the house quietly, silently thanking whoever thought to leave the area closest to the house covered in pine straw, as it was pretty silent to walk on. Looking around the corner, he saw a figure crouched by the window with a blade, slowly cutting one tiny square at a time, trying to be a quiet as possible.

The Wrack was cutting the screen. He had done this before, plenty of times, when searching for his prey over the years. These unsuspecting humans were so self secure in their lives, that they could not believe there were other lives out there, and things that could, and would, take their lives in an instant, if the price was right, and this price was the highest ever heard. As he continued cutting, he suddenly got the sense of danger but he did not stop, he slipped another knife out with his other hand under his cloak and prepared to meet the danger he felt.

Van hesitated for a half second, as whoever or whatever it was at the window, could just be a stupid burglar who picked the wrong house, and shooting him would lead to all kinds of issues. But in that hesitation, he did slip his gun up and point it at the figure. Once he was set, he said, “Door’s around front, Mister.”

Faster than he would have thought possible, the figure spun away from the window, slinging a knife Van had not seen, towards the sound of the voice. The knife hit the wall just short of where Van was standing, and glanced off, sliding past so close, that it nicked his shoulder that was exposed. Van was caught off guard for a spilt second, and the Wrack moved with lightening speed away from the house, slinging a second knife while trying to get an open view of Van, who was still protected by the house corner. The Wrack saw no knife or bow in the humans hands, but did see something he was not familiar with, yet it did not look like a weapon to him. He thought this stupid human would be easy to deal with, as he started drawing his skith, a wicked looking curved short sword, thick bladed and serrated on the back half.

Van felt the blade nick his shoulder and twisted back a bit, amazed that anyone could move so fast, as then a second knife struck the wall, where his head had been milliseconds ago. He then saw the face under the cloak and realized it was not human, seeing whatever it was drawing a nasty looking sword thing, Van hesitated no longer. He took aim and shot two times for the center of the chest, both striking, and the figure raised on his toes, then collapsed in a heap.

Everyone in the main house at the same time said, “Gunshots!!” and started to head that way, but Matthew said “Hold on!! We can’t all go running out there, it may be a trap!” Quickly it was decided Matthew and Michael would go, and the rest would stay and wait for word.

Michael and Matthew checked their weapons, then slipping out the back door, and starting to work their way towards the direction the gunfire came from. The rest of the families were supposed to be at Van and Rivers, so that’s where they headed, but they would circle around!and check the others, just in case, on their way.

Working in the bound method, they took turns moving, while one covered the other. They worked around two houses, and at the second house, stopped and watched the third, which was Van’s, and then both moved forward, Matthew towards the front corner, and Michael towards the back, both reaching them at the same time.

Michael immediately noticed a cloaked figure crumpled on the ground by the far corner, a large wicked looking knife/sword laying beside him. He signaled Matthew with his hand, got a negative hand sign, and then signaled that Matthew should move around the front, to the far side, and they would both meet on the farthest corner, where the figure was. Matthew started moving, and Michael counted 30 seconds, then started moving, keeping his weapon trained on the figure. They timed it perfect, except Van met Matthew, as he rounded the corner, and they both met Michael back at the figure on the ground.

All three examined the figure, and Matthew asked “You alright, Uncle Van? You look a little pale,” Van nodded yes.

“It’s not that I shot hi..it..whatever, it’s just unbelievable it really happened”, declared Van.

“Well, let’s get inside and check on the rest of the family.” Michael said.

Van cautioned, “Be careful! River has a shotgun, and I told her to shoot anything she saw in the hall”.

Matthew stayed with the Wrack, “I’ll be along in a couple, kids don’t need to see this.”

Van and Michael went around front, opening the door a bit, and Van yelling in “River? It’s me don’t shoot!!!” To which he got the reply “Of course it’s you! I saw you in the mirror I set up, you and Michael come on in! We’re all ok”.

Matthew studied the creature for a couple minutes, and took several pictures of it with his phone. He also collected a total of eight small throwing type knives, QQ and the weird sword. The sword had a snake with red eyes that glowed when light hit them and it had 36 lines down it’s body reaching less than half way like it was incomplete or something. “Well, you ain’t finishing it now are ya, Bub? Let’s get you outta sight,” Matthew said to the corpse, as he was dragging it away from the houses, and towards an out shed.

Matthew arrived at the house a bit later, at the end of Van filling the others in on what occurred. Michael had already texted Elena and Liam to let them know all was well. While doing so, he noticed that Uncle Liam’s oldest daughter ‘Lena, who was named after his own mother, had her sketch pad and he caught a glimpse of a cloaked figure she had drawn. He also noticed she was looking at him, like he had caught her doing something wrong. He did not say anything, and smiled as he turned and joined the others in plans as what to do next.

Matthew and Michael left everyone inside with Van, and they went to the house closest to them, which was Liam’s. Once sure it was safe, they went and got everyone from Van’s, and escorted them to the new place. They put the timers on in different parts of Van’s house, so the lights and TVs would come on at different times, in different rooms, and even on different days.

Michael went to the main house, while Matthew returned to the shed, and started up the tractor, “Funny, Dad always harped on needing a tractor, but I don’t think he meant for this,” he said to himself, as he dug a hole and dumped the Brak’s body into it.

After he was done, Matthew returned to the main house, and they all moved Elena and Trinity back to Liam’s. Now that everyone was in the same place, Michael, Matthew, Liam and Van, all sat at the table, and devised a plan to move everyone in two groups, from now on. Different houses each night. Sometimes even, both groups staying at the same house, at the same time, on occasion.

Trinity had gone to her room as soon as she could, and retrieved her two practice blades slipping them into the two sheaths she made that fit on her back. Handles down where she had easy access. She put on an over shirt, much like the one her Uncle Lee was always wearing, so it covered the blades perfectly. Trinity smirked at herself in the mirror, then went back out to where everyone was, and joined the group.

It was decided that for the night, everyone would stay here together, where there was safety in numbers. According to the Loarn, they had at least nine more “things” that had come through the portal, and were intent on stopping their family bloodline, from existing any more.

Matthew and Michael set several wireless trip alarms around the main house, before going to the house Michael and his family had been staying in. They slid the pivoting bookcase away, and went down a flight of steps, with the bookcase closing behind them. The brothers turned right, towards Uncle Liam’s home, heading along the tunnel that Lee had constructed, between all the houses on the property. They emerged in one of the spare bedrooms, after first stopping to listen for any signs of danger. Then they joined the others in the den, and kitchen. “Matthew and I will watch after dark tonight, and see if we can surprise any unwanted visitors. Have we decided who’s staying where, starting tomorrow?” asked Michael.

Liam had devised a plan, where every house was numbered. This one was #2, for example, and the groups would roll a dice and where it wound up is where they would stay. That way no one had prior knowledge, and no one could be forced to tell.

That night went by without incident for the group, and the next day they split into three groups. Elena, Trinity and one of the men would take turns being with that group, Van, River, Liam, Natasha and Elena would be in another, leaving Matthew and Annika with their infant, who would stay with Michael, Sophia and their six children. That way there is always a male with them, also.

As luck or fate would have it, Elena’s group drew the main house as theirs for the day, and prior to dawn, they made the move back, this time using the tunnel. The other groups moved to their locations, but did so normally, so that if there were watchers, it would seem that Elena and Trinity were still in Liam’s house. Matthew stayed with Elena his mom and Trinity as they settled. He then said, “Back in a couple. Have to check the triggers and traps. Don’t go outside, I’m going through Dad’s tunnels, and coming out of the shed, and I will come back the same way when I’m done”.

30 minutes later, as Trinity was alone in the den doing a bit of practice, she suddenly heard a strange noise come from the room her aunt was resting in. She got up heading rapidly towards the door, and as she got there it was flung open, and almost knocked her down. She saw the most scary, disfigured face, and the body of a man, and it was dragging Elena, who was either unconscious or almost so.

Trinity hesitated a second, and before she could cry for help, the Wrack drew a curved sword dropping Elena at the same time, thinking to himself that he could get rid of this brat quickly and make a bigger bonus. Trinity saw the blade, and she paled and her blood seemed to turn cold, but instinctively she backed away and out of the hall into the open den. She drew one of her practice blades as the Wrack lunged at her, trying to stab her in the chest. She swatted his blade with hers, knocking it off line, and it slid past her as she spun past the Wrack. Her blade kept going with the spin, and came full circle, striking the Wrack with the sharp edge on the back of his neck, and with enough force to knock him over the couch.

The Wrack made a grunt and growled, as he quickly sprang to his feet, twisting to face the young girl, and his eyes narrowed as he moved around the couch, to have a clear shot at her. Trinity knew this was no longer some computer game, and that she could easily not get out of this, but she was determined to stay and fight. She drew the second blade from its sheath, while at the same time the Wrack attacked again. This time swinging his blade straight from over his head, in an attempt to chop her in half, or split her skull.

Trinity barely arched back enough as the Wrack’s blade sliced through the air, and the tip barely knocked her shirt, cutting a hole in it at her waist. Trinity took the advantage, as the Wrack had over extended himself, and the move made him lean forward so much, he was almost off balanced. She swung one blade down with all her might, striking him in the neck area where it met his shoulder, and without slowing, the other blade swung and struck him in the forearm which was holding his sword, and he dropped it, as his muscles were temporarily stunned.

The Wrack lunged forward with his body, and hit Trinity in the stomach with his shoulder, driving her against the wall, and taking her breath away. He then grabbed her and slung her across the room into a coffee table. Trinity realized she was not going to be able to take much of that as she got up, her small body was bruised and she was breathing hard. The Wrack picked up his sword in his left hand, and slowly started to approach, sensing his opponent was weakening, and it wouldn’t be long before he could finish her off.

Trinity had somehow managed to hold onto both blades, was desperately trying to buy time, so she could catch her breath. She kicked the coffee table towards him, and he kicked it out of the way. There was now nothing between him and her, as he circled warily, several times lunging at her, and each time Trinity was able to knock his blade away, or dodge it. The last time though, he swung his sword at her, and she barely stopped it, slipping on something on the floor, giving him the opportunity he needed.

Trinity knew it was over as she slipped. She could not defend against him grabbing her from behind, and wrapping his arm around her waist, pulling his sword up to her neck to finish her off.

Categories
adventure battle evil fantasy good mystery Sci Fi series SyFy writing

The “Bevan” — Fortress

Part V “Fortress”

Lee followed Rotar and Falan through the portal, it felt like walking through “heavy” air but only for a second and then they were all on the other side. Looking around, it resembled earth, a bit more lush and green though, and the air was clean feeling. The portal opened in a circle of rocks and boulders deep inside a dark forest, in which Lee felt very much at home as he melted into some brush, seeing Rotar and Falan doing the same on opposite sides. No one spoke or moved for almost 10 minutes, then Rotar indicated that they should follow him as he led away from the circle, not on a trail, but 20 yards off to the side of it. Lee followed, with Falan behind a few yards, the three continued for about 30 minutes, walking slowly uphill through the brush, keeping quiet as Rotar led them in a route slowly circling up and away. Rotar stopped in a thicket and Lee and Falan joined him. They all stopped and rested quietly and it was at this time that Lee checked his pack and the ammo was there and he took the handgun and spare magazines and put them on his belt under the hood quietly without being noticed. He also took the time to text Elena and hit send and watched but the message just sat there, not sending.

“How often do the portals open back to earth?” Lee asked.

Falan answered in a hushed voice, “The portals to earth open at different times. We are constantly sending our spies to track the enemy, and to try and monitor the portals. There are no set times”.

Lee glanced at his phone once more before shutting it, and realized the message had sent, so a portal someplace near must have opened.

“3 hours of light left,” said Rotar “We will wait here for darkness, before we continue.”

“How far to the fortress?” asked Lee.

“The fortress is about 3 hours walk from here in peacetime. It will take us 6 to be sure we don’t walk into an ambush,” answered Rotar.

Getting up, the three move silently through the forest, headed in a direction, Lee assumes is towards the place called the fortress, Rotar leading, and Falan in the rear. They walk silently on, with Lee getting glimpses of the night sky, as they skirted clearings, and he saw celestial bodies he could not recognize.

Slowly as they are walking, Lee starts getting a feeling of being hunted, a feeling he used to get at times, while chasing criminals who were armed, playing what could be a deadly game of cat and mouse. He began to slow his pace, as he listened to his senses telling him something is near and hunting them, Lee stoped and knelt, and somewhere behind him, Falan noticed and did the same. Lee lost sight of Rotar, who was up ahead, and the feeling got even stronger.

Lee slipped the bow off his back, and nocked an arrow, holding it low, as he looked slowly around. Then he saw a shadow move into the line, between Rotar’s path and him. Lee watched, not sure who was a friend here, but then saw the glint of light, off two blades being drawn off the figure’s back, as it crept towards where Rotar went. Lee pulled the arrow back, and clicked his tongue, as the figure spun lightening quick, sliding sideways and slinging a blade towards where the figure thought the sound originated.

Lee did not flinch, while releasing the arrow, as the blade slipped past his ear, over his right shoulder, and stuck in a small tree behind him, some 10’ back. His arrow struck the figure square in the chest, flinging it back, and onto the ground, as Lee immediately, from years of practice, nocked another arrow and waited.

Falan had slipped off to one side, and Rotar emerged from the darkness and knelt by the figure. “A ‘wrack’,” said Rotar. “Spy or assassins in your tongue. They work alone, this one must have been waiting along the trails, hoping to bump into us. Thought I smelled it a bit ago, but never caught sight, until just before you stuck him”. Lee looked at the figure, and even in the dark he could tell it was not human, even though it moved like one, he pulled the arrow out and wiped it on the wrack’s outfit and was stunned to see the knife it had left looked just like one of his Legion blades. Lee picked it up, and then went back and recovered the other, and took the sheathes, which were mounted on the wrack’s back, while looking at Rotar and Falan.

“I have to examine these blades in light, something very familiar about them,” explained Lee.

Falan spoke with urgency, “Come on! We are almost to the hidden path!”

The three hurried along, still quiet, but with much more zest in their steps, (as Elena would say) and as Falan rounded a large boulder, Lee lost sight of him. As he passed the boulder, it Lee was stunned to see the edge of the forest, but no sign of Falan. Lee stopped and looked closer in the bushes against the boulder and Falan emerged and said, “This is it come on,” and turned, disappearing again into the thick brush.

Lee followed, and found himself walking down into a tunnel, that curved around and headed back towards the edge of the forest, it seemed.

Rotar came in a few minutes behind him, “We were not followed, and our tracks are gone, that I made sure of! I left false ones continuing to the river ahead”.

They all three continued in the tunnel, and Lee saw flickering light ahead after walking several hundred yards. He then heard voices, and he started to tense, but Rotar behind him said, “No need to worry. They are the gate guards, and are here to keep the enemy out. We will pass freely, If we were enemy, they would just flood the tunnel with river water, not a nice way to go.”

Soon the three were past the guards, and they emerged through a series of 2’ thick wooden doors, each opening opposite sides and each having wooden poles behind, to be used to block them from being forced open from inside the tunnel.

Lee saw several holes in the walls and ceiling and Rotar said, “If a door is penetrated, then spearmen on the other side of these walls, and even the ceiling, will attack whoever comes in.”

“That would be a mite hard to escape in my estimate,” said Lee.

Finally they entered a wide chamber, and were met by several armor dressed soldiers. Gold in color was the armor, protecting arms, legs, chest and back. They carried a shield, and a heavy looking broad type sword, except that it was curved and decorated with engravings.

One of the soldiers spoke to Rotar, and he replied, followed quickly by all the soldiers turning, and placing their hand across their chest, and bowing slightly from the waist, a”then straightening back up.

Rotar and Falan turned, and Rotar said, “We should get some food and then rest. In the morning, we will meet the Premiere and his staff. Perhaps then, we can understand all that is happening, and why, you Lee, don’t go by Bevan, as the stories say?”

Lee answered “Food would be good, and to get washed up would feel really good as well! Lead on Rotar! Apparently, there’s much to see and do”.

Several hours later, after eating and getting cleaned up, Lee found himself dressed in Treslan clothes. Underneath it all, he still had his soft body armor on, and over top of it all, his cloak, which was shades of blue, gray and green m, it’s colors shifting to blend in. It was warm and a gift from Elena, years ago. Lee sat in a room he was given, and turned on his phone and got the message Elena sent, “Everyone is on board, and they are getting organized.”

“Good, and gosh! Good job, Boys, for arranging things,” he said to himself. Lee typed out a text, “Seems the signal only goes through when a nearby portal is open, so comms will be limited. Made it to the fortress. Meeting head honcho tomorrow. So far, so good. See if you can find the Legion book, I will tell you why later. Have to go, take care of my pretty girl, I’ll be back soon”.

He then pulled out the knives he took off the dead wrack, they were exact to the tip, as his Legion blade, and he could not see how that was possible. Turning them over, he saw what he was looking for, they were Legion blades!! The markers were on each blade, but how did they get here?! And more importantly, whose were they? And where were the owners?

Lee took pictures of the marks on the blades, and sent another text, to go through when it could, “When you find the book, look up these marks, and see who they belong to and where the owners are now, please”.

Later that day, Lee, Rotar and Falan were all assembled in a great room, around a table. Lee’s eyes moved along the painted wall, at the scenes unfolding, his thoughts interrupted by several people walking in, and everyone in the room, except himself, rising and bowing, with their hand across their chest. Not wanting to seem rude, Lee stood up, as what he rightly assumed, as the people they were waiting on, arrived.

Lee observed the group, the man, taller than himself, but lighter in weight, dark tanned and slightly built, but with an air of hidden strength. He was followed by a small woman, who reminded him of his sister. They were flanked by two massive men, with swords on their sides, and dressed in white gold colored armor, that looked light and flexible. The last in the group was a small man, one who when Lee met his eyes, immediately made him wary. Some sense of his, told him this man was not what he seemed, and was not to be trusted. The Premiere was introduced to Lee, as well as his wife, while the two large Ann’s well equipped guards stood silently, but ever wary, just out of arms reach of the Premiere and his wife. The other person, Trendar was his name, stood off to the side and was only introduced as “valued staff”, to which Lee saw his eyes take on an evil look, when he heard himself called that.

Lee was asked questions after questions over the next few hours. A lot was explained to him, and some of the questions he had were answered.

The story apparently spanned several generations, where ruling families and common folk alike worked for the common good. Then darkness slowly crept into some Treslander’s minds, and slowly that darkness spread through certain specific minds.

Eventually, there was an attempt to take power, and wars were fought. The ruling family controlled the better armies, and locations, not to mention portal access, making it possible for their soldiers to move where needed, and quickly.

Traitors learned the secrets, and soon the portals were used by both sides. Several key members of the once secure family and staff were killed by spies, until those spies themselves, were caught and dealt with.

Lee learned that the Treslander ruling family, long ago sent agents through many portals, to many places, and eventually they stumbled upon a group, that were known as knights, warriors, and defenders of all that was good. Some were brought back through the portal, where they lived and worked as agents of the Premier and his family. Eventually, some returned through the portal and back to their lives. This continued through the ages, until modern times, when some of the last went back through the portal, taking wives with them. Several were the “Bevan”, superb marksmen, with the long bow. Elena was a decedent of the ‘keepers of the word’, those who, by the very sound of spoken voice, brought calm to a place, and who, when sitting in the protected chair, saying the words long protected from evil ears, healed the planet, driving the evil away.

Several hours later, Lee found himself walking slowly around the large hall beside the Premier and his wife, as they explained the painting. It was a pictorial history of the planet, and it’s inhabitants, and it was constantly expanding and changing, on its own it seemed.

Lee stopped in front of, what could only be described as a medieval battle scene, where thousands were battling a dark enemy. Their armor and shield shining in the sun, wet with blood and sweat, but Lee had stopped and was staring at a small group.

Surrounding a flag on a hill, dressed in dark armor, with cloaks upon their backs, armed with swords and spears, their shields black mirrors, broad and thick. Lee was stunned to see a single knife on each of their backs within reach of their hands if needed. Lee stared at a picture, that could not be here but was, a picture of his ancestors in a battle against evil, the Black Legion!

Categories
adventure family fantasy mystery nature reading safety Sci Fi SyFy travel writing

The Bevan — Moving Pieces

Part IV “Moving Pieces”

As soon as Michael and Matthew got back Elena started contacting her family. Liam responded positively almost immediately saying “I need to talk to Lee asap there’s some strange stuff I may need help with”. River, Elena’s sister, who has never handled a gun and is not sure she wants to, was a bit more reluctant to leave their home, but finally relented saying she and her husband Van would come over and see what it was all about.

Liam, his wife Natasha and his girls Trinity and ‘Lena (shirt for Elena, named after his older sister) all arrived several hours later, and were met by Matthew, who let them in the locked gate. An hour later Van and River arrived and were let in.

Once all the families were settled in their lodges, they all walked over to the main house, where Elena started telling what it was all about. The entire group looked in disbelief as the story was relayed to them, and did not know what to think, until Elena showed them the pictures Matthew had taken of the ambushes in the woods, and Michael and Matthew described what they saw.

The faces around the table had that stunned look, at seeing something so foreign and hideous, all except one of Liam’s girls, but she held her tongue. Elena was watching and thought she saw a look of recognition in Liam’s face “Liam? Have you seen someone like these?”

Liam replied in a hesitant voice, “I have seen someone dressed like that one,” pointing at the woodsman, “and that’s what I wanted to talk to Lee about”. Several times over the past months and with increasing frequency he had been seeing someone resembling the person in the picture. “I wanted to see if they could have someone check him out and see what his deal is”.

Van said “You know, I saw one of them several times, near home and near the office”. River chimed in “Yeah, now that you mention it, I did keep seeing someone like that when I go running or walk the dogs”.

Van got up and walked to the kitchen with his phone and making several phone calls, arranging several crates of ammunition to be shipped to there where everyone was staying, as everyone began to realize this may be more serious than at first thought. “I thought it best for us to get stocked up on ammo and anything else you guys think we need. I’m going to be contacting some business friends discreetly and see if I can find out if any strange things have been going on,” said Van.

Matthew was outside along the eastern fence line, when his attention was drawn to what appeared to be a cut in the fence that was tied together with cord making it seem like it was whole. He moved closer and saw it appeared fairly recent, and on the other side of the fence there were broken and trampled branches, where it looked like someone had stood or perhaps sat for an extended time. He immediately recognized it for what it for what it was, an observation spot. Someone here could easily see the gate and the front of most of the houses, and would be out of easy view. Matthew sent a text to Michael “I’m over by the east fence, near the spot where the boat used to be, and I’ve located an op. Do me a favor and get two of Dad’s steel traps and meet me over here will ya?”.

Michael told the others what was up, and headed out to the shed, Liam started to follow but Michael said “Uncle Liam we really need you to be here, that way there will be two here at the main house, that can handle anything that may pop up”.

Uncle Liam hesitated and then acquiesced, “You’re right. I also need to sort out Natasha, ‘Lena (pronounced Lay-na) and Trinity with weapons. Holler if you need me!”

“Will do!” with that Michael headed out back and got the traps, then went to where his brother Matthew was waiting. “What do you have in mind?” He asked Matthew.

“Well, I figure if someone was going to try and crawl through the fence that’s cut over there,” he pointed to the spot “we could leave a surprise or two on this side for them,” and then he hesitated.

“Sounds like a plan, what’s got you bothered?” asked Michael.

“Did you ever really pay attention to Pops when he was showing us how to set these things?” asked Matthew of his brother.

Michael shook his head “To be honest, no not really, did you?” He got the same head shake back, then both young men grinned and laughed. “I guess we will have to figure it out!” said Michael.

“Without pinching our own fingers!” replied Matthew. “Might be a good idea to set these on all the obvious travel routes to and from the houses and building, and come up with a marker, so everyone that needs to know, knows where they are placed,” said Matthew, as he was camouflaging the last of the two they just buried right inside the cut of the fence.

“Already on it, Bro. I brought several and Dad has lots more in the shed,” answered Michael.

They paused long enough to let their mom know that no one should wander around, until they can be shown markers designating where the traps are set.

An hour later, everyone was back at the house, and they made plans. They would all stay in their separate lodges, to try and keep some sense of normalcy, but always careful. Those who knew how to handle firearms would always carry. Liam tasked Trinity with staying with his sister. her Aunt Elena at night so no one would be alone during dark. Neither protested the arrangement. Elena was glad, as she might could sleep a bit more, not having to be on guard alone. Trinity did not protest, because she could practice her skills at knife fighting, something she picked up from a video game, of all places, and she had secretly become very good at.

Elena’s sister River, and her husband Van, headed quickly back to their place for clothes and their dogs, as they had not initially planned on staying.

Michael took charge of a watch system, using the cameras that their Dad had strategically placed along the perimeter of the property, and the redundant ones concealed 25 yards inside the perimeter, as well as the two separate sets of infra red trip alarms, in line under both sets of cameras. He set up a schedule where someone was always watching during the hours of darkness. He, Matthew, his Uncle Liam and Uncle Van would all take two hour shifts watching. They agreed to alert all the others by the intercom system, installed in the lodges, if there was a breach or suspicious circumstance.

Elena, who was trying not to act worried, as she was in the kitchen making a tossed together dinner for everyone, finally got a message from Lee, it was short but positive. “Made it through, ammo did as well, it’s daylight here. We will only move at night. Stop worrying”. She replied with a short but informative run down of all that happened, and the plans that were laid.

Elena felt herself relax just a bit now that she knew Lee was ok, and she made sure to pass the information on to the boys. She finally laid down, and went to sleep around 1130 after being hyper tense and worrying for such a long time.

Categories
adventure family fantasy hunting mystery nature Sci Fi SyFy writing

The “Bevan” — Plans

Part III “Plans”

As Lee pulled into the yard through the gate he saw Elena his wife of so many years standing on the front porch watching him, and as he got out to close the gate he was astounded to see her petting the head of a gray fox! Lee drove his truck to the normal spot, got out and before he could speak Elena said “I hear you had some visitors today, I have been worried more and more lately, I am so glad your home”. She looked at the fox and made some sound and word and it immediately ran down the deck and slipped off into the brush. “Come inside Lee and get cleaned up, we have a lot to talk about”.

Lee came up the steps and hugged and kissed Elena “I was hoping this was all some weird dream, and when I got home all would be normal, but seeing that fox again…”.

Elena interrupted “His name is Loarn, and his family has been watching and bringing information to me since I was old enough to understand.”

Lee said, “Anyway, when I saw Loarn standing on the porch, I had confirmation that it was not a weird dream.” He did not comment on the fact that he saw the rifle he had built for her, just inside the doorway within easy reach.

Several hours later, sitting together on the deck, Lee and Elena had talked, and many things were revealed. Elena told a long tale that was passed onto her by her grandmother, the former possessor of the knowledge, and she has kept it secret all her life. Elena knew there was the possibility that one day these events would happen, so she always watched and kept alert for any sign. She was aided by Loarn (more properly The Loarn, Gaelic for fox) and his family before him, they are portal watchers of the forest and brought news of anyone coming or going through the portals that they knew of. Each time a new portal was discovered, a new member of the Loarn would be tasked to watch it and report any incidents to Loarn himself.

Lee absorbed all he was told without interrupting Elena, and when he was sure she was finished, after pausing a few seconds, asked “I get that you did not want to tell me this, I mean how could you, without being looked at like you were a half bubble off level, but the question is who else may have your abilities? I mean you have brothers and a sister and each of them have daughters, and let’s don’t forget our two grown sons and their families, is there a chance one or more of them have it?”

Elena answered “I’m not sure Lee. I have been for years, trying to discover if any of them do, but I’ve drawn a blank”

Lee replied, “Well, we are going to have to figure out some way to tell all your family, so they can be cautious, and it’s such a wild tale, who would believe it? I have messaged my family, but you know as well as I, none of them are easy targets, nor would they really be focused on them. If I was this evil person/thing whatever, I would focus on you, and your family and squash any that stand in its way to getting at them”.

Elena contemplated their discussion and said “I will take care of Liam, and his family, and River and her family. We both know Michael and Matthew will do whatever it takes to watch over their families. I am just concerned for you, Lee. You have no one to take with you, to help you. I know you too well, Lee, you will want to go and confront this, at the point of the spear, and nothing I say will dissuade you. I will tell you this, the portals will not allow you to take your modern weapons, knives, bows, and crossbows, can pass freely, but not your guns.”

Lee interrupted “What? How can that work?”

Elena answered “It was designed that way to keep the enemy from getting hold of modern weapons, and using them to turn the tide in their favor”.

“So, if I try and go through with them, what happens?” asked Lee.

“You will pass through, but they will not, and when you return, they will be with you again.”, replied Elena.

“Well, that throws a kink in the plan, but we will work around it” Lee answered, and as he did, Elena was holding out a shimmering bag the size of a modern zip lock bag.

“If you can fit it in this bag, it can travel through. It is the last of its kind, there is no more material, from which it’s made, left anywhere”, said Elena.

Lee took the bag, and immediately had a thought, he drew the Ronin off his hip and slipped it in the bag and it closed, his eyes smiled as he looked at Elena “Well, that makes me feel a bit better, so the gun can go, what about ammo?”

Elena said “No idea, Lee, all we can do is try, put your phone in it to, who knows if it will work and I seriously doubt it, but we can try”.

“Great idea! and on that note I’ll add the brick (for charging) and only try when I know a portal is open”.

Elena stiffened looking out into the darkness, and Lee who was looking in the bag immediately looked up and caught sight of the fox sitting just out of the firefight, and he came closer and sat by Elena, and she explained “A portal opened!”

Lee quickly said, “Get inside, and stay there with your rifle, and leave that Glock on your hip!” Elena hesitated wanting to argue and stand by her man, but knew he would be more distracted trying to keep an eye on her and that would dull his edge. As Elena went inside she saw Lee slipping off into the darkness, a place where he always told her he liked to work.

Lee made sure Elena was inside and then slipped out into the darkness into a circle of ferns and up against an ancient oak where he melted into the background, the Loarn looked at him and in a clear voice said “Be wary Bevan, it is a Brak.”, then he slipped off into the night. Lee muttered to himself “Well, I didn’t think it was the Amazon delivery guy,” and he contemplated what he should do, ultimately deciding to watch the Brak, at least for a few minutes once he saw it, so he could ascertain how it moved, and what weapon it had if any. As he was thinking this, he spotted movement out against the tree line and his eyes locked on the moving object, it was about his height and around his 250lb weight, moving slowly and a bit stiff, it was working it’s way along, staying out of the firelight, as it made its way towards the house where Elena was, consequently bringing itself closer to Lee at the same time.

The Brak slipped within arm’s reach of where he was concealed, Lee’s hand unsheathing the blade on his hip as he noticed the strange axe the Brak was carrying. Lee slipped out and said, “Bit late for a delivery, Bub,” as he did the Brak, with speed belying it’s size, spun counterclockwise, swinging the axe in a lightening fast move, that Lee was barely able to avoid. The axe bit deeply into the oak tree and stuck for a second. Recovering quickly Lee, kicked with the flat of his foot straight out into the stomach of the creature causing it to double over, but not let go of the axe.

Lee struck the forearm of the hand holding the axe, with the hilt of his short knife, numbing the nerves in that arm for a few seconds, causing the Brak to lose its grip on the axe.

The Brak swung a huge fist at him from the opposite side, and Lee moved under it, and as he did, his knife slid along the underside of the Brak’s arm at the shoulder, slicing deep. He kept moving past, as the Brak spun, and gripped the axe handle, pulling it free of the tree, its one arm damaged but not useless. The Brak made a upward swing causing Lee to arch back to avoid the impact, and as soon as it was above Lee’s head, the Brak reversed its course bringing it back down and across. As the axe swooped down Lee kicked at the Brak’s knee with a side sweep to try and get it off balance, the effect worked. The Brak losing just enough balance that Lee could move in close, too close for the axe to be of much use, and as Lee did, he slid his blade along the side of the Brak, continuing past it, as the Brak recoiled from the deep gash and pain.

Lee did not hesitate. As soon as he was past, he spun as he crouched, because the Brak swung the axe around, while turning to face Lee, and as it’s momentum carried the axe past the crouching Lee, he stood up and stuck the knife to the hilt in its throat, “You shoulda stayed home,” and watched the Brak’s eyes widen with surprise and pain, before it collapsed in a heap at the foot of the steps.

Lee took a moment to check that there were no more of the enemy around, and then said “It’s ok, Elena, you can come out,” the door opening quickly.

Instead of congratulating him she said “What were you thinking? Why didn’t you just shoot it!!?”

Lee smiled a smile that did not make it to his eyes, “I could have done that, yes, but if I have to confront them on their turf, and I cannot be sure I’ll have a gun or bullets, I needed to know what I was up against”. He looked at her and winked “Although, next time, hopefully I’ll have a bigger knife!”.

The next morning at dawn Matthew and Michael both showed up at the house, and as they sat and listened to their mother Elena, tell them the story. You could see they both thought it was a joke, and were starting to laugh, while looking for the punch line, until their father Lee said, “I figured it would be hard to swallow, and I was just going to show you a picture I snapped, but I think this will be better. Come with me”.

Lee and Elena, followed by Michael and Matthew, went outside, and Lee led them to the brushy corner of the property, and there in a hole he dug last night, lay the body of the Brak, “Figured it would just be easier to show you before I buried it.”

Both sons were stunned to speechlessness until Elena spoke, “These and others are out to destroy our family, and that by the way, means your families, too! So you need to get over the disbelief and pay attention!”.

Later that day, with plans made, and the arguments as to why he had to go, and the why of how no one could go with him, at this time was settled, it was decided that Michael and Matthew would bring their families to the parents’ property, and stay in the guest houses. This bolstering their defenses, and at the same time giving Lee peace of mind that Elena would be safer. Lee took to organizing his gear, getting rid of hunting calls and such and packing essentials, including six boxes of .45 ammo, it was a pretty big increase of weight, but taking off unnecessary things almost evened it out, and he wasn’t even sure it was going to make it through the portal.

The kids and their families had arrived, and were settled, and everyone was sitting around the table talking and Matthew asked “Now that we know what is going on, why not just wait for them to come through the portals? I mean something that weird will obviously be noticed, and normal people will take care of them, don’t you think?”

Lee answered “I wish, Son, but look around at the normal people, they think guns are evil, and if we take them away from everyone, then everyone will live happily ever after, and the Brak, if they start coming through, all those normal people are not going to help you, your families, or your mom against them. No, we have to prepare here, and there. So, I’m going to go get a lay of the land, and of what we are up against. When I’ve gotten that, I’ll come back and we will decide our next best move”.

Lee loaded things in his truck and kissed his Elena “I would love to stay, but I want to be near the portal and watch at least 6 hours to see if there is a trap. I will text just before entering, and I’ll try when I get there, every hour at 5 after. I do not think it can be far for us to travel to get to the fortress, there I can see what we are up against. You are to never go outside unless you have a gun and you keep it on your hip EVERYWHERE, inside or out. I have spoken to the boys and they will do the same, try and get your brother Liam and his wife Natasha to bring his family and your sister River and Her husband Van here, also. There’s food enough for a sustained period, for all of you, and the other two guest houses are vacant, just like we planned for in case of some emergency. Tell them to bring all their guns and every bullet they can find, and you will explain why when they arrive”. With that Lee and Elena hugged again, and he climbed in the truck, “I’ll leave the truck in the club where we always park it, if y’all need it come get it, but leave me something to get home in. I’ll either be in a hurry or too tired to walk it. The plan is to go through tomorrow, I’ll spend 6 days and come back on the seventh, I will keep to the schedule. Whatever you do, do not let anyone of the family follow me, or come looking. Hold the fort, and I’ll come back with better insight.”

With that, he backed out and waved as he drove to the gate where Michael and Matthew were standing, “Take care of your families and your mother, Boys, until I get back. She has the plan we set, also the cameras are up and working, as well as the silent trip alarms, and it’s piped into, Y’all’s houses, so you should not be caught off guard”.

30 minutes later, Lee was slipping through the forest, taking a long semi circular route, to come at the clearing, from the direction opposite of his truck. Lee stopped 100 yards away, slipping off his pack and climbing up one of the old stands with his binoculars. He sat and watched the clearing, slowly picking apart each small section of it, and the surrounding brush looking for anything abnormal or unusual. What he saw was disturbing, Jagar and Trend lay obviously dead shoved off to one side of the clearing and he saw the reason why. A Brak and something that resembled a woodsman were hidden 45 degrees apart from each other on different sides of the clearing where if the portal opens they could ambush anyone coming thru before they could act. “Alright, let’s make sure there aren’t any more surprises hiding before we deal with these two,” Lee thought to himself. Lee pulled out his phone and texted Matthew “Bring your brother and the two suppressed rifles, I have need of your expertise. Make sure all the families are in the main house ‘til you get back. Tell Michael to bring you to his stand I’ll be waiting there”.

Matthew replied, “30 minutes” nothing more.

Lee chuckled “Guess he got the gift of gab from me”.

33 minutes later, as he was still watching the clearing, having seen no other threats, Michael and Matthew materialized as if by magic under the stand, and Lee thought to himself, “Glad they didn’t forget what the Army taught about camouflage and stealth.”

He signaled them to climb up, taking a risk that the stand would hold all of them at the same time. Both climbed up silently, and he explained the situation to them, letting each take a look with the binoculars and identifying the threats. “Michael, if you sit up here, and take the Brak, I’ll take Matthew to the far stand, and I think he will have a clear but farther shot at the woodsman, then I’m going to come half way back and make some kind of racket so they both get up to see what it is. That’s your cue to fire, got it?”

Both nodded yes and he and Matthew climbed down, while Michael settled in and got ready. 15 minutes later, after Matthew assured him his lane was clear, Lee found himself halfway back between the stands and set about making a distraction. He lit a palmetto limb on fire, letting it smoke and waft in the breeze. As it burned down, he lit another, the breeze not quite blowing the right direction, but swirling, and he saw a patch head right in that direction and he ducked and put out the embers.

The woodsman smelled smoke and immediately tensed, and started trying to see where it was coming from. The Brak smelled it as well, but instead of staying hidden, it got up and started sniffing, trying to pin point it. The woodsman tried waving the Brak back into his hide out, but was too late. A near soundless pop, and the Brak head exploded from the rifle round, and before he could finish the thought that he had messed up, a second round entered his brain bucket and silenced him forever.

Lee stood, and looked at Michael’s stand and got the hand across the face symbol, then the same from Matthew. He then slipped smoothly into the direction of the clearing with the faint hope that Jagar and Trend may be just wounded. Lee slipped into the clearing and checked the threats first but both were neutralized, he ran to Jagar and Trend, Jagar was dead, Trend managed to say “The portal…to open…just say ‘for peace.” then he succumbed to his wounds as Michael and Matthew arrived.

Lee told his sons who they were, and he and the boys drug the Brak and woodsman looking thing to where he remembered the portal opening. “They should get sucked in the next opening”, Lee said.

Michael asked, “And them?”, pointing at the Treslanders .

To which Lee replied, “No, they will stay with me until someone from their people shows up. I’m sure their families would want to have a funeral or whatever they do. Now boys, you know what you’re up against, and this one”, he nudges with his boot, “As you can see looks almost human. Be extra diligent. I’m counting on you and so are people we don’t even know”.

An hour later the hunter is back on his tree, the two soldiers covered by their cloaks, laying off to one side and he waits silently for dawn. Almost at the same time dawn is breaking, the portal starts shimmering and Rotar and Falan appear just as before. After a brief exchange, the two fallen soldiers are moved to the portal and Lee texts Elena “Going through,” slips the phone in the bag with the Ronin, 3 spare magazines and the charger and walks through following Rotar and Falan.

Categories
fantasy hunting mystery outdoors Sci Fi SyFy Uncategorized writing

The “Bevan“ — The Beginning

Slipping quietly along the game trail as the first hint of daybreak shows the figure, is indistinguishable in the dark, his ghillie suit blending completely with the dark and vegetation. Carrying a full sized backpack, and a handmade bow, he slips onto his favorite tree, one that’s very alive but laying down along the ground with an upturn that his back comfortably rests against. Silently unhooking the backpack and setting it on the tree the Hunter settles to wait. The forest sounds become a constant din of noise in the background and the forest slowly wakes, still an hour before full daylight but light enough to start making out shapes and movement quite easily for the experienced woodsman who has spent his life in the woods whenever he can escape the daily grind.

Rugged looking, 6’ with hair graying but with still more brown than gray. Bearded face with piercing clear blue eyes that have seen many horrors and many tender moments, slight smile in the corners as if he knows something funny that no one else does. Well past being youthful, the hunter has many scars, and many wounds, some that ache and always will, and some that are tucked away inside his mind where no one is allowed to see. Just an ordinary, humble man, but one look tells you, that if you are looking for trouble, best look elsewhere because as the saying goes “it’s the quiet ones that you need watch”, and an old man still surviving in a young man’s world is not one to quarrel with. The Hunter silently checks his gear out of habit, on his belt on the left hip a sheath knife given to him by a good friend many ages ago, Damascus blade hand crafted and razor sharp, he never leaves without it. On his right hip, is a “Ronin” 45, a present given to him by the one love he’s ever had in his life who is at home still asleep as he hunts for whatever comes by. Strapped to the backpack is a wicked looking knife 20 inches long, curved blade of stainless with serrations on the back resembling a dragons spine, inside it has a fire starter, rope, a hooded cloak gray and woolen as the archers wore in days gone, by the type that is water repelling and seems to blend into any background, 2 spare magazines for his pistol with 2 boxes of bullets in the bottom that he did not know his “Elena” had put there “just in case”. There are other things that have found their way into the pack over the years that may become useful at some time. The Hunter runs his hand over the smooth wooden bow that took months to make, one that until he practiced with for ages he could not even fully pull back. His arrows, wooden and hand made fill the leather quiver that he carries on his back so drawing is easy. Calloused fingers caress the wood as the Hunter smiles at old comments on the size of his hands…

…Suddenly his eyes jerk towards movement to his right and down one of the game trails that converge 25 yards to his front, and he sees a gray fox trotting along the game trail towards his perch. Watching curiously as the fox comes closer and looks at him before just curling up in a comfortable spot close to his feet and going to sleep as if it was completely normal. “Well, Bub, I won’t bother you if you don’t spoil my chances”. The fox strangely payed no attention apparently already asleep on the soft grass. The Hunter sat silently contemplating on the oddity that was the wild animal, coming over and sleeping like that, did not appear sick, looked well nourished, so it was a conundrum he pondered. The hunters eyes flicked up as he started sensing something working it’s way down the trail on the opposite side of the clearing. Catching a glimpse of a small but legal to harvest whitetail deer, he slowly begins to draw his bow as the animal is obscured by some blackberry bushes. The deer walked past the bushes and stopped just out of the clearing in the woods, it’s tail nervously twitching and it’s eyes looking all around. The Hunter thought to himself “that deer senses something, winds in my favor so it’s not me” as he settles his aim on the area behind the front shoulder, low to try and hit the heart for a fast kill. Settling into a perfect rhythm between himself and the bow he no longer thinks about the motions or his movements as his fingers start to roll off the string to release it, everything is just how it should be, broadside 25-26 yards away, no wind, undetected, the Hunter releases the arrow and watches as if in slow motion it’s flight towards the deer.

The Hunter watches and suddenly notices a disturbance between him and the deer, something is weird, his view to the deer is interrupted by what looks like heat waves coming off asphalt on a summer day and as his arrow enters the heat wave it vanishes and as soon as it does the heat wave dissipates and there are 4 figures standing in the clearing facing away from him all looking at a 5th, but this one was not a man it was something like you would see in a movie as an ork or troll. This one fell over backwards and it was only then that the Hunter realized that two of the four had swords drawn one an axe and the last a spear all facing the other creature who had one of the hunters arrows sticking out of his neck. All four suddenly turned around and spread out facing the Hunter but it took a few seconds to find him as he blended in so well, weapons pointed in his direction and the Hunter remained quiet his bow half drawn as he had already readied the bow with lightening like speed from months of practice to be ready for a follow up shot at a wounded animal, all this took place even before the four had got totally into view. Out of the corner of his eye he noticed the fox was awake and intently watching but had not moved. One of the four slowly lowered his sword and made a motion like putting his hand over his chest and bowed slightly, the other 3 followed suit but none of them looked the least bit relaxed.

Years of reading people and judging threats, the Hunter could tell these were soldiers of some type, they were dangerous and could handle themselves in a fight. The Hunter lowered his bow relaxing the string holding both, arrow still strung in his left hand and his right hand on his thigh near his hip where the Ronin was holstered. His advantage lies in the constant multiple assailant practice scenarios he drilled into himself, and his family. He was relaxed but knew things could go south quick and the chances are he would not get out unscathed if they did. So he remained silent and examined the four. All were tall, silver blonde hair long and down over their shoulders, wearing cloaks like the one he has but these constantly changed it seemed even more to become the same as the background, leather like moccasin type booths laced up to the knees, clear grey/blue eyes. They reminded him of woodsman from an age long gone, but their garb was more well made, with silvery thread, their shirts were covered with leather armor tightly woven, with layers of overlapping pieces to make penetration difficult.

The Hunter got the distinct impression that these “men” were reading and judging him as he was them. The one who initially lowered his sword said something to the others and they sat on the ground where they were while he approached. The Hunter stood up now, still relaxed looking but balanced, weight on the balls of his feet, bladed towards the strangers and hand hooked in his belt by the holster containing the Ronin. The stranger stopped after getting to about six feet away and said “Bevan?” In perfect English. The Hunter remained silent and the stranger repeated “Bevan?” And looked at him curiously.

The Hunter knew Bevan was welsh for “archer” from one of the books that his Peach would laugh at him for reading at one time or another, but he also knew it wasn’t his name nor was he welsh. “Not sure who you think I am bub, but names Lee, not Bevan”.

The stranger looked slightly confused but did not let it dismay him “I am Rotar, I was sent along with my trusted friends to find Bevan, the archer, we need his help”.

“Well Rotar, all I can tell you is that my name’s Lee, I do use a bow to hunt sometimes, but I do not know anyone named Bevan”.

The soldier named Rotar began telling a tale to the Hunter as they stood in the clearing deep in the woods, and the hunter interrupted by holding up his hand, “Perhaps, before you get into a long drawn out story, you could tell me who or what that thing is?”, as he pointed at the creature with his arrow protruding out of its neck, obviously dead.

Rotar said “You don’t know an enemy when you see it? This is a Brak. It’s a foot soldier of our enemy, not very smart but very deadly with its axe”.

“Ok, so it’s your enemy, what does that have to do with me?” asks Lee in a calm voice, “Where did it come from, where did you come from?”.

“We followed it to the portal to try and stop it crossing into your time, but we were too late, and it opened the portal and we had to follow” says Rotar.

“Portal? What portal, and why would it want to come here?” says Lee.

Rotar replied with a solemn voice, laced with a bit of urgency “It’s mission was to come here and find the Bevan and kill him, and anyone related to him, down to the last of his bloodline”.