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!