The Six Heroes of Gabonland had decided to begin traveling at once. They guessed that the attack would happen soon. The supplies were gathered up and everybody packed bags. The fire was put out and darkness covered them like a blanket. They charged forward running through the Mountains of Jallend.
“They will probably be looking for me,” Dancitine had said. “We have to hurry before they realize I have disappeared.”
The journey was dark and they even saw a few Grimapolians. The monsters did not attack because they had recognized Flitican. Even when they were by themselves they thought they could hear the light footfalls made with the three-toed feet. The heroes tried to ignore the unnerving feeling that they were being followed. They felt a presence very strongly. It became cold. They were getting farther north. Galendurous was getting closer. Dancitine shivered the whole way.
“What is wrong?” Asher asked Dancitine after a while.
“Nothing,” he said. “I am adjusting to the change in temperature.” His red sumburn had already partly disappeared. His face had a shade of blue.
Cornelious went to offer him a blanket. Asher stopped him. “No,” he whispered.
Cornelious looked at the Allitican, horrified. Was Asher trying to freeze Dancitine to death?
“The only way for Dancitine to adjust to the temperature is to have him be cold.”
Cornelious didn’t agree with his logic but ever since the incident in The Valley of War the last thing he wanted to do was argue.
After a few hours they passed through the mountains. Galendurous was before them. Far in the distance they could see Broncolo Castle. Its orange bricks made it show up distinctly on the green landscape under the bright setting sun.
“What was that noise?” Flitican asked jumping. He seemed to be very concerned ever since the Six Heroes entered Galendurous. He was thinking about W.H.A.R.F.
“What was what?” Asher asked looking curiously at the paranoid Galendar. “I didn’t hear anything.”
“Never mind,” Flitican said. He realized what he had heard was all in his head. He felt very foolish.
The Six Heroes had arrived at Broncolo Castle. It was night and the gates were closed. Before them were two guards armed with spears. They were laughing and drinking root beer. When the heroes were noticed (after a long minute or so) the guards stood to their feet looking angry. They were obviously not supposed to be drinking root beer on the job.
“What is your business in Broncolo?” one asked, glaring at the seven travelers. His voice was stern with a tad bit of nervousness in it.
“We are here to see the king,” Flitican answered.
“Oh, are you,” the second Galendar laughed. The other Galendar gave him a scolding expression that was obviously meaning, treat them nicely. We don’t want to be reported. The second Galendar stopped laughing. “What is your reason?”
“We are here to warn him,” Flitican replied.
“Of a Grimapolian army.”
Then the guards looked at them and smiled. After a pause the guards laughed. “Ha!” the first Galendar said. “You must be mad – crazy - insane. Get away. We don’t want you in Broncolo.”
The words stung Flitican and made him feel that he was going to explode. He was suffocated by the number of things he wanted to say. Before he could do anything the first Galendar guard hit him with the end of his spear. Flitican fell to the ground and the guards retreated. They did not want any of the heroes to retaliate. The guards could see they were armed, cowards.
Flitican got up off the ground. His green face was as red as cherries. “Why have my people become so ignorant?” he asked breathing heavily.
“They will regret it in the end I fear,” Cornelious said. “The Grimapolians will attack them and they will wish they had listened to us.”
After the disappointment of not being allowed to enter Broncolo, The Six Heroes and Dancitine began to travel to Positmous. Hopefully they would be able to refill their supplies there before moving on to Castle Cania. They would head to The Castle of the Five Towers and hopefully receive a different welcome there than they had at Broncolo. They were almost out of food and had a very small ration of water.
Flitican was on his guard. They were getting closer to Dortain, the home of W.H.A.R.F. He kept his hand on his axe at all times. They could strike them anywhere.
Six days had gone by. The food had run out. They had a few sips of water left but that was unlikely to keep their thirst quenched if they were not allowed in Positmous. Trees appeared on the landscape ahead. The trees went as far as the eye could see north and south. It was big enough to be a forest and it was blocking their way.
“When has there ever been a forest in Galendurous?” Asher asked. He was the only one besides Flitican that had ever traveled in Galendurous.
“There has never been a forest,” Flitican replied. “This did not exist 5 months ago when I last was in Galendurous.” They stared at the trees that blocked their way. Dancitine was the first to go up to it. The others followed him.
“I have not seen a tree in years,” he said with awe. He then reached out to touch the tree. The most unexpected thing happened. Dancitine’s hand went right into the tree. It was like a fog but it kept its shape and looked exactly like a tree. “This is not how I remember trees,” Dancitine commented.
“That is not a tree,” Elderain said. “It must be a phantom forest.” He waved his hand in and out of the trees, looking at it in wonder.
“It hasn’t ever been here before,” Flitican said. “It appeared just as we were traveling. What a coincidence.” Then he froze. “Why should it appear just as we come here and block our way.”
They came up with a theory. “It must be Lord Vallan’s doing,” Terenious said. “He must be attempting to kill us like he did when he sent the pirates after us.”
“That is probably right,” Asher said. “But there is no other way to Positmous. If we don’t go inside we will probably die.”
“Asher is right,” Cornelious said. “We must go in.” He walked in among the trees. The others followed him. The canopy made all things dark. The Six Heroes and Dancitine could barely see ahead.
“This lighting will make it easy for Lord Vallan to kill us,” Sarnam said. “We won’t be able to see him coming.
They walked, weaving their way through the trees. The heroes walked cautiously west constantly looking behind them to make sure they weren’t followed. Elderain had been making his hand go through the fake trees. It was an odd experience. You could feel that your hand was going through something. The tree he was now touching felt like water. The fog suddenly closed around in his hand with a sharp grip. It felt like a hand with claws.
“Help!” Elderain suddenly shouted. The others looked at him and saw. “The tree is pulling me!”
The heroes quickly grabbed ahold of him. Flitican tried to hit the tree with his ax. The blade went right through it. There was a squeal and Elderain was let free.
“What was that noise?” Cornelious asked. “I thought I heard a squeal.” He walked around the tree and saw a dead Visicite was on the other side. “It is a Visicite,” he said. “He must have been pulling Elderain from the other side of the tree. Now we know for sure the forest was made by Lord Vallan. There are Visicites here. We need to be very careful.”
They continued walking. Elderain did not wish to touch any more trees. He had a gash in his hand because of the monster’s claws. They could not clean it because the water had been finished off.
An hour went by. The forest did not end. Another hour went by. They did not come out of the forest to see Positmous. Five more hours went by. It was still as dark under the trees as ever. In fact, it got darker. Dancitine had gone ahead of the group to search for kindling to make a torch. In this he had little success. All of the wood he found was fake and disappeared like a mist when he touched it.
The Six Heroes followed from behind. They felt that they would never get out. It was time for a sleep. They were all very thirsty and hungry and cold. When they went to bed they laid awake waiting for Dancitine’s return. He did not come.
“Where is he?” Asher asked irritated. “We won’t be able to sleep until he returns.”
“I hope he is all right,” Cornelious said. They got up and began walking in the direction they had seen him go. The trees were barely visible in front of them. Suddenly a huge monster jumped from behind a tree towards them. It was a Visicite whom Cornelious and Elderain recognized. Visicion stood before them.
“Got you,” Visicion, the general of the Visicite’s army said, “you miserable rebels.” He drew his sword, which was about the size of a spear and walked towards them. He leapt towards Elderain, whom he loathed, and missed. Before the monster could do anything else he suddenly fell to the ground.
Dancitine had hit him in the head with a sword hilt. “Got the brute,” he said.
The other heroes stared at him. “Why didn’t you kill him?” Cornelious asked. “He is the Visicite general!”
“Really?” Dancitine asked feeling proud. “Then we are lucky I didn’t kill him. I believe this is an enchanted forest that there is no way out of. For us, I mean. He could tell us how to get out of here.”
“That is true,” Asher said. “We’ve tried forever to get out of here. This forest must be enchanted like you say. Let’s disarm him and wait for him to regain consciousness.”
They waited. Hours passed before the Visicite general regained consciousness.
“Where am I?” the general asked dizzily. “My head does ache.” Visicion stood up to see he had been surrounded by heroes with drawn weapons. He tried to take out his own sword but found that his sword sheath was empty. He lifted up his head and laughed. “Why don’t I just plow through you? I am heavy enough to squash you into jelly.”
“If you try any form of escape we’ll kill you.” Elderain said.
“Oh really?” Visicion mocked, “Then what are we going to do? Just stand here threatening each other while the world outside burns?”
“No,” Terenious said, “we are going to have you lead us out of here.”
He frowned. His eye was still fixed on Elderain. “Ha!” he said, “Like I am going to get you out of this mess. Lord Vallan and the Green Tarkan himself are here looking for you. We will stand here and wait. If you want to go on you are going to have to kill me.”
“But,” Cornelious said cleverly, “what do you think will happen when Lord Vallan learns that you were overpowered by us? Do you think he will be kind and merciful? Do you think you will even get to stay general? Do you think- “
“Be quiet, Canlomban!” Visicion barked. “I see your point. I would rather die than let you escape, but I will let you out. You will be caught later.” He went in the complete opposite direction that the heroes were going.
Elderain kept an arrow on his ivory bow the entire time. He thought it was very suspicious that the Visicite general didn’t put up much of a fight.
The path Visicion took was odd. They sometimes felt that they were going in circles. They also went in zigzags, crazy eights, and changed directions completely sometimes. The night had passed as far as the heroes and Dancitine could tell and morning had begun. It grew lighter ahead. Elderain momentarily put down his bow and looked. Daylight was a beautiful sight to them. Suddenly a black figure blocked the light. A hooded figure with a sword was walking south along the exit.
Visicion jumped out to meet the figure who was Lord Vallan. But before the villain could notice Flitican leapt after him and pulled Visicion behind a fake tree.
Lord Vallan was pacing.
They held their breath. Visicion was struggling as hard as he could. Flitican had his hand over his mouth. The sharp and dirty Visicite teeth stuck in his hand, making it bleed. Lord Vallan walked away to Visicion’s dismay. Flitican let go. His hand stung and was covered with blood.
Visicion stood there spitting Galendar blood. “You won’t get out of our trap again,” He said looking at Elderain. “You can’t always save all of your friends.” He stomped off angrily.
“We can get to Positmous now,” Asher said happily. “Let’s go before he brings help.”
The Six heroes and Dancitine walked out of the unexpected forest into the Galendurous they all knew. They had escaped Lord Vallan’s trap and were on their way to The Castle of the Five Towers.
THE NEXT CHAPTER- August 26th