Monday, August 21, 2017

Chapter Twenty- The Forest



CHAPTER XX
THE FOREST

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 what?”
            “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

Monday, August 14, 2017

Chapter Nineteen- The Evil Council



CHAPTER XIX
THE EVIL COUNCIL

          The water was miserably cold. It felt like there were needles all over their bodies. They were being stuck and prodded repeatedly. Elderain was panicking. He couldn’t keep his head above the water. His lungs burned. His eyes stung. He thought he would go blind like Sarnam if he stayed in that cold water. Terenious was dragging him through the cold river. He was heavy. Maybe he was 150 pounds. Elderain made no effort in helping her. He was dead weight.
Cornelious laid flat on his back. He floated north. All of his strength was gone. The cold made him tired. He felt like sleeping, maybe forever.
But there was no sleeping forever. When the heroes washed ashore they were relieved. The cool sand felt wonderfully warm compared to that foaming icewater. The heroes of Gabonland got up and walked north. The moon shone on them. The only light they had was the moon and the stars. Canlomba was always known for being dark at night. It was the law that no man could have any fire light or any other thing that would make light and disturb sleeping Canlombans.
Feeling cold and wet, they went on. The river got farther and farther away. The heroes felt safer as they got farther from where they were attacked. The Thevian Mountains were beside them but the Six Heroes kept their distance. Elderain felt terrible. He thought he was dying. Even with Terenious’s help he had barely escaped drowning. They still held hands as the heroes walked north trying to recover from the shock.
            It got hotter. The sun had risen after several hours of cold and dark travels. The heroes of Gabonland were exhausted. The green grass they were walking through turned yellow and the city of Dethican turned up on the landscape. “We need to ration it,” Asher said holding up his water bottle.
            “Don’t remind us,” Flitican said. He was worried. They were going to go into Galendurous soon, his home country. W.H.A.R.F was almost certainly waiting for him. Flitican didn’t want to get the other heroes into the conflict.
            “Dancitine has resources,” Cornelious mentioned, “a trench full of water from the Titiam River. He also has fish.” He lifted up his water bottle to his mouth and found that it was empty.
            “Don’t worry,” Flitican said. They had reached the gate to the city Dethican. “You can have some of mine and Sarnam’s. We will all have to share water at some point.”
They walked into the city and found that it was a city stricken with poverty. They were in the marketplace. It was a very small marketplace with few supplies. Cabbages were being sold in one. Biscuits were sold in another. A small well filled with dirty water stood in the middle of the market place. The water was so gross looking that they all thought dying of thirst might be better than drinking the well’s water. Cornelious and Flitican were sharing a bottle and Sarnam was without water. The other heroes began to see that their water was almost gone as well. They took some of the gross water anyway. It may look less gross as we go on, Elderain thought.
When they left the city the same afternoon, they made haste. It had been 51 days since they left The Castle of the Sensibles. They were worried that when they reached Malicina the princess would already be gone. When they reached the end of the Thevian Mountain range the Six Heroes turned left and entered The Valley of Monsters.
Even the dead grass had disappeared. They walked west. It grew extremely hot. The heroes all felt like they were breathing in steam. Clouds of dust appeared behind them as they walked.
            “Dancitine lives somewhere towards the west,” Cornelious said. He was currently the guide and was having trouble remembering the path he had taken the first time he had been in The Dry Circle. “I don’t quite remember where.”
            “Oh great,” Asher said sarcastically. “What are we going to do if we can’t find him?”
            “Don’t worry about that Asher,” Cornelious said as he stepped over a dry rut in the ground. “We just keep walking west until we find his water trench. When we find his trench we can follow it south and it will lead us to his shack.” Just then he stopped moving and looked horrified. Flitican asked him what was wrong.
            “That dry rut,” Cornelious asked himself. “Was that what I think it was?”
            “Yes,” Cornelious replied back before any of the other heroes could respond. “It must be what you think it is.”
            “If that is Dancitine’s trench,” Cornelious said to himself quietly, “then what is happening to Dancitine?” Without telling the others what he had discovered, he ran, following the dry rut. The other heroes of Gabonland ran after Cornelious worried that something very bad had happened.
The heat grew stronger as they ran. It was at least 100 degrees. After running for a minute Cornelious stopped. Ahead of him was a dusty shack. The door to it had been knocked down and broken to pieces.
            Just as the other heroes caught up to him, Cornelious broke out running again. This time towards Dancitine’s shack. “Wait, Cornelious!” Elderain shouted. “Tell us what has happened.” When he saw the shack he guessed it. The Six Heroes of Gabonland saw that Dancitine’s shack was empty.
            “No!” Cornelious said. “It can’t be.”
They entered the shack to see everything was destroyed. The table where Cornelious and Dancitine had eaten bland fish was broken into pieces and burned. The glass cups he used to drink out of were shattered. It had a smell of a place that hadn’t been occupied for several weeks. There was a long silence.
            “I don’t think Dancitine died here,” Terenious said suddenly. Her voice sounded loud in that immense silence. “There is no body and there are many footprints.”
The heroes all looked at the ground and saw that it was covered with footprints. They were not human footprints. By looking at them Cornelious, Flitican, Asher, Sarnam, Elderain, and Terenious could tell that the beings who left the prints had only three toes.
            “Was Dancitine missing two toes?” Asher asked.
             “I don’t know anything about him having only three toes per foot,” Cornelious said. “He was missing one eye.”
            “I believe,” Terenious said, “that Dancitine was captured by Grimapolians. I heard that they have three toes.” They all realized the terrible truth. Dancitine had been captured and taken away. The question was where?
Terenious had been taught to be able to track people during her days as a pirate. That was one of the classes she had taken, Hunting and Tracking with Mr. Dastro. Mr. Dastro was a large thief. He was called King Thevian’s bloodhound on some occasions. She spent a whole year being taught by him. She had been taught this so she could steal. Now she was glad to use it to save somebody’s life.
They followed the three-toed footprints out of the cabin in a northwestern direction.
            “Into the Mountains of Jallend,” Flitican said looking at his ax. Memories flooded his head. He remembered being surrounded and kicked by the three-toed feet. “I never thought I would have to go in there again.”
            Very severe rations were placed on the water. They had not been able to refill since they had been at The Sensibles’ castle. Their throats were dry and their limbs ached. The Mountains of Jallend grew bigger as they approached them. Elderain guessed it was about 120 degrees at the moment.
            After several hours the sun had set. They had stopped in front of the mountains for a sleep. Cornelious wanted to go on but the others said they couldn’t find Dancitine if they didn’t rest. Even though it was extremely hot they made a campfire and kept it going. The Six Heroes didn’t dare to let their camp go dark.
            At the dead of night a noise of footsteps could be heard in the Mountains of Jallend. They all got up and looked. The noise of footsteps grew louder.
            “Draw your weapons,” Flitican said. “It might be a Grimapolian.” Then coming out of the mountains was the last person any of them expected to see.
            “Help! Help!” A man cried out. The man wore leopard skin. His skin was as red as a tomato and he was missing one eye. Cornelious recognized him.
            “It’s Dancitine!” Cornelious said happily.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dancitine stopped and looked at Cornelious very surprised. He also looked very frightened. “Cornelious!” he said panting. “I didn’t expect to see you here. Did you get your reward?”
            Cornelious quickly explained what he and the other heroes were doing. “I knew it was odd, a King setting up competitions in other countries than his own,” Dancitine said when Cornelious was finished. “Anyway, I have dire things to discuss. And we need to leave at once.”
            “What is it?” Asher asked. “And why were you kidnapped by grimapolians?”
            “You know who Lord Vallan is?” Dancitine asked. “Well, he is going to bring an all-out assault on Allitica and Galendurous at the same time. Here is how I know this:” He cleared his throat and began.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
“I was minding my own business at my shack when I saw a ring of Grimapolians closing in on me. I got out a spear at once and prepared to meet them. After killing 3 or 4 of the beasts I retreated into my shack. They followed me in and disarmed me. A man was leading the Grimapolians. He had a greenish shade of skin and a reddish glow was about him. He was a very odd man. Grimapolians shrank back as he came into the cabin.
            The Grimapolians called him The Green Tarkan. The Green Tarkan came towards me with his sword drawn. He asked with a threatening voice, ‘Tell me, have you seen a Canlomban warrior?’
I said nothing because I guessed he was looking for Cornelious. He grew angry. He kicked a table. It flew across the shack, turned green and then black, right before my eyes it disintegrated. He must have had some kind of power where he could do that to things.
            He then ordered, ‘He will not squeal in his home. Take him to the Grimapolian Fort.’
The Grimapolians dragged me the whole way into the mountains in front of us. I was thrown in a cell. I waited in the jail cell for 3 months. I was tortured too, but I will not tell you about that.
            I was then escorted to a council. Very evil figures were there. A newly crowned Grimapolian king was there, also a Visicite general called Visicion. The Green Tarkan sat next to a figure too evil to describe. The others at the council called him Lord Vallan.
            ‘We have fought Eltica and had no victory,’ the Visicite general Visicion said. ‘We are obviously not ready to take the riches of Eltica. I am not sure we are ready to assault Bacnaltica but I think the invasion of Allitica and Galendurous is possible.’
            ‘That is the reason we are here, Visicion,’ the Green Tarkan said. ‘We are going to discuss a plan for taking Allitica and Galendurous.’
            ‘I do not understand what any of this has to do with me,’ the Grimapolian King stated. “Why do you have to have this council in my mountains?’
            The evil character who had been silent all of this time then spoke, ‘This is the only place where we can be certain to not be heard. Also we have a use for you and your people. We have a large amount of Visicites assembled in Malicina ready to break upon Allitica like a fountain. The amount of Visicites is five times as great as before when we attacked Eltica. Nonetheless, Allitica and Galendurous have been friends ever since the war between them had ended, so I am worried that the Galendar’s will come to the aid of the Allitican peoples. We will not be able to withstand both of their forces.’
            ‘What should be done, Lord Vallan?’ the Grimapolian king asked. ‘I am guessing this is where I come into this plan.’
            ‘You are correct in that,’ Lord Vallan answered. ‘We need you to distract the Galendar’s of Galendurous.’
            ‘I don’t see what is beneficial to me’ the Grimapolian king questioned. ‘My people have always been content with living in the mountains and this fight will cause casualties.’
            ‘I know that well,’ Lord Vallan said. ‘I would not be surprised if at least 1 in 5 of them fell, but finding the Galendar that slayed the previous king will be easier when we have taken Allitica and Galendurous. You do want to avenge your father, don’t you?’
            The Grimapolian king grew angry. He hissed, ‘I agree to your conditions,’ with his pupiless black eyes blinking in rage. ‘Anything to find and kill that accursed Galendar. I will be proud to be allies with you if he will be found.’
            ‘Something that concerns me,’ the Green Tarkan said. ‘It is the axe that your king carried. Did the Galendar take that?’
            ‘Yes, he did,’ the Grimapolian king said. ‘Why do you ask?’
            ‘Let’s just say, it is a matter of life and death.’
            ‘Now I have a new topic,’ Visicion said, ‘We have had no success in finding The Five Heroes. I have heard that there are six now, but that matters not. Those Thevian pirates tried to kill them but their bodies were never found.’
            ‘They are on their way to Malicina, that is certain,’ the Green Tarkan said. ‘They are not much of a security threat but they were powerful enough to kill Pargon, the Yellow Tarkan.’
            ‘Who is this stranger who is missing the eye?’ Lord Vallan asked. The cloaked figure looked at me. His eyes felt like fire.
            ‘He is Dancitine,’ the Green Tarkan said. ‘I believe it is a possibility that he met the Canlomban hero whose name escapes my mind.’
            ‘Why did you bring him here?’ Lord Vallan asked angrily. ‘He has heard everything. Has he told you anything?’
            ‘No, my lord,’ the Green Tarkan said. ‘He never spoke during the 3 months of torture and imprisonment.’
            ‘Then I order you to kill him,’ Lord Vallan said. The Grimapolian king gestured to a Grimapolian. The monster took me out of the council room. As I was led outside I saw he was leading me to a chopping stump. I elbowed him in the stomach and ran away into the mountains. As I came out I met you.”
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 The Six Heroes stopped and thought about what had happened. Malicina and the Mountains of Jallend were allies now. What would happen if Galendurous and Allitica were completely unprepared for the attack when it happened?

THE NEXT CHAPTER- August 21st