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Through the Portal
Welcome, traveler. Sit down and listen to a tale of mine. Listen to the history of a far off world named Erondize, and how its strange inhabitants came to be. These creatures can be both good and evil, light and dark, as well as every shade of grey inbetween. Some sentient, some wild. Listen closely for this may be an important part of your journey. Now, let us begin.
With a quick slap to the face, Fremnar, a small, stocky man with black hair, awoke from his dreamless sleep.
“Wake up,” commanded a gruff voice, the voice of his officer. “The wizards are doing something…” Bhar was a big man, well fit for the King’s Army, but not that smart. How he got to commander status, Fremnar could never figure out. How Bhar was chosen for this little escapade puzzled Fremnar even more. Bhar knew almost nothing of magic, and couldn’t even understand why magical people wore robes and not the heavy plate armor of warriors. Heavy plate just did not contain the magical energy robes could, and a full suit of body armor would crush a wizard’s frail body.
“Yes sir,” Fremnar answered in the quick, snappy, response a soldier was expected to answer in. “What do we plan to do about it, sir?” Fremnar questioned as he jumped off of his cot. Fremnar knew that Bhar wouldn’t know, even if the answer came up and bit him on his big fat fingers.
“I am waiting for Calmar to study what they are doing and to tell me how the blasphemous works should be stopped,” was the obvious reply. That’s what he always said. Calmar should be in charge, not Bhar. “After that I think about it some, and then decide what I’ll do.
Probably kill them all in a slaughter, since that is the only way he knows in order to fix his problems. Fremnar thought. Bhar started (and usually finished) fights at least five times a week, preying on unruly soldiers or weaker ones. Most of them ended up giving Bhar little more than a cut, sending the other man to the hospital. Some men even started a fight with Bhar on purpose, hoping to get hurt enough so they could go home from the army early.
“Now get dressed and prepare for battle soldier!” Bhar commanded. “I want you ready for whatever happens and I don’t want to see you do it in your pajamas! Now move!”
“Yes, sir!” Fremnar barked. Bhar left to go bother some other poor soul, leaving Fremnar alone to put on his armor. When he finished he went to the “cafeteria” (more like a tent full of hot, smelly, tasteless grime) to get something to eat. He ate the meal, thinking about the meals his mother used to make when he was home…No! He couldn’t start daydreaming now! He had some work to do. He finished his meal and went outside the tent to see if he could spot the wizards and guess at what they were doing.
“Oh, hi Klyn, doing well today?” Fremnar asked as he spotted Klyn, his best friend since trainee school. Klyn was a mute, so all the little red head could do was nod. Klyn had lost his ability to speak ever since he had been cornered by a band of young wizards, testing out their Searing Heat spell, severely burning Klyn’s tongue to a stump. He could still make noise, but the sounds and syllables were all jumbled and were unintelligible. Klyn made a gesture, which Fremnar translated to “where are you going.” Fremnar and Klyn both had a kind of secret language with hand gestures that they had both mastered, something that baffled most of their superiors, so they could get away with saying whatever they wanted, as long as the other was looking.
“Well, I was off to see what the wizards are doing. Did Bhar wake you as well?” Klyn nodded again. Bhar always woke everyone up and down the hallway. If you didn’t wake up fully and weren’t out by the time he was back, you had to face the consequences. Usually a couple lashes, but some punishments were worse. They included getting put into harsh training sessions, or, the worst, being put on the front line. Usually being on the front line meant you were going to die for sure. Not that it really mattered against mages. They could cast a simple spell that told them how skilled you were, what you had consumed, whether or not your armor was magic, how many magical spells had been cast on you, and an estimate of when you next had to use the outhouse. The last part just showed how totally random magic could be. If you were strong, they shot a fireball at you. If you were just cannon fodder (like most on the front lines were) they shot a fireball at somebody stronger. After the stronger person was dead, they shot a fireball at you. Fremnar again had his train of thought interrupted when Klyn tugged on his sleeve. He made a sleeping gesture, and then a sun.
“No, Klyn it’s not daydreaming, I’m just thinking. There is a difference.” Klyn shrugged and repeated the gestures Fremnar had missed. The answer was yes, he was rudely awoken. “Well, I was off to go see if I could spy the wizards and see what they are doing. Would you like to come along?” He did not even need to ask. Klyn would follow even if Fremnar had said, “I can’t tell you it is secret.” That was one of the problems with having a friend that was a rogue. Nothing was private, even when it could end up getting both persons killed. Klyn was a great spy, though, and often shared secret things with Fremnar. Sometimes he even snuck food from the officer’s quarters for them to share. Rogues were an important part of the army, dealing in anything that needed stealth.
Klyn beckoned for Fremnar to follow. “Wait, you’ve been holding out on me? You have already seen the wizards?” Fremnar asked, wondering how Klyn had found time to sneak a peek. Klyn nodded, and gestured a night sky. “Ah, I see, well let’s go.” They began walking through the forest. The trees were large, casting shadows in the early morning sun. Fremnar was not very familiar with the area, he had only been deployed here for a few weeks, as had Klyn. But since Klyn had been trained to know the land, he knew exactly where they were.
Klyn motioned for Fremnar to get down. “Wait, are we heading toward that giant clearing, Dragon’s Print? I was there yesterday. I doubt anything has happened,” Fremnar said as he crouched. Klyn nodded, and then shushed him. Klyn led Fremnar over to a bush where he then peeked over to look. Fremnar did the same, and when he saw, he almost gasped in awe. In one night the wizards had built a giant stone arch, and had set up braziers all around. Now they were chanting and circling around the arch in a mysterious fashion. Klyn pointed at the arch, and mimed walking in place. “I do not understand what you are trying to say, spell it out please,” Fremnar said, puzzled. Klyn shook his head and spelled it out with his hands quickly.
“What? They are creating a portal to another world? You learned this by overhearing a conversation between two wizards?” Fremnar asked astonished by his friend’s skills. Klyn nodded. “And you haven’t told anyone? This is big, someone needs to be told! Bhar would li- he was cut off by a sudden ripping sound coming from the giant stone arch. He popped his head back up to see what had happened. “We are too late.” Fremnar gasped. For where the arch had once been empty space in between its massive columns, there was now a giant green void.
Klyn started hopping around, pointing at the portal and miming walking through it. “Yes Klyn, I know it’s a portal.” Klyn then mimed having fangs and claws. “No, I don’t know what is going to come through.” Just after Fremnar spoke those words, a giant wind began blowing out from the portal. Klyn and Fremnar grabbed a tree to hang on. The wizards seemed unaffected. As the unnatural wind continued, creatures started blowing out of the portal. There were many different creatures, fierce looking squirrel like creatures with clothes, small fuzzy winged creatures, and many more. Most scattered and were lost from Fremnar’s line of sight in the forest. The scariest looking creature by far was the image of a creature with maroon fur, tiny bat wings, and fierce claws and wicked teeth, with a fire in its eye, ready to burn down the entire forest because this was a look that could kill.
“Who has torn us from our home?” asked one of the creatures. “Who must be punished before we find a way back to our familiar surroundings?”
An old looking wizard stood and said in a calm voice, “We have brought you to the land of Erondize, a world where magic is dying. We need your help to replenish the magic and destroy those who oppose us. You will help us, or you will never see your home again. Cooperate and we will return you as soon as we can.” The wind had stopped blowing as the wizard spoke these words, and the portal made a final sucking sound and disappeared.
“We faegars are of no use to your cause. We are a peaceful race, who only shed the blood of invaders or when food is needed. War is not needed in the world we come from, and we shall not go against our moral code for the likes of you.” With that, the strange creature leaped mightily and disappeared into the trees. The other creatures followed what seemed to be their leader.
“No!” cried a wizard, shooting an Arcane Chain out from his fingers. It wrapped around an escaping faegar, pulling it out of a tree and leaving it tangled in a heap. The other hand of the wizard reeled the chain in and stuffed the dazed creature into his magical bag. The bag had to be extra dimensional to fit the creature in there. Perhaps it held a cage or something, Frenmar thought as he watched in fascination. The other wizards cast similar spells, catching as many of the creatures as they could. Just as quickly as the chain had wrapped around the faegar, an arrow thumped through the back of a wizard standing near the edge of the clearing.
“Attack!” That was Bhar’s voice! The commanding voice rang throughout the clearing. If what had happened before was not chaos, what broke out now definitely was. Warriors came rushing into the clearing, and arrows rained down, deadly droplets accenting the warrior’s presence. The wizards retaliated with Arcane Blast and Snare spells, causing the marksmen to fall from their perch and warriors had to slow enough to tear the grasping roots from their legs.
Fremnar realized all he had was his dagger, and that he had forgotten his sword. He had not thought it to be needed when he left the camp. He looked over to Klyn but, Klyn was nowhere to be seen. Wait! There he was! He was pursuing the wizard that had captured the faegar with his magical chains. Klyn drew a throwing dagger and threw with a flick of his wrist, sending it into the back of the wizard, the red blossom from his back proving that the dagger had hit and that it was not just an illusion. Klyn grabbed the bag and rushed off toward camp, leaving Fremnar alone. Fremnar started running back toward camp, where he knew Klyn was going.
He knew he might be in trouble for this, but he could just fake a cut and say he was in the battle. He wanted to meet Klyn so they could talk to the creature he had captured. It came from a whole new world! He had to be there with Klyn so they could communicate with it. He made it to the secret hideout Klyn had found, a very large hollowed tree. The tree was big enough to house two or three people, with lots of space to move. Klyn was waiting patiently, watching Fremnar run toward him. “Open the bag; let’s see this…faegar, wasn’t it?” Klyn bent down to open the bag. As soon as it opened the creature jumped out onto Klyn. Klyn rolled away as the faegar’s claws struck the ground. Fremnar tackled the monster and pinned it to the ground.
“Stop!” Fremnar commanded. “We are friends!”
“Friends that chain me up and put me in a bag? Real friends aren’t you?” the creature retorted.
“We saved you from the wizards. Please, we want to learn more about you. We might even help you get home. Friends?”
“I guess it couldn’t hurt, friends.” Fremnar stood up and looked to Klyn. He made a hanging gesture.
“You’re right, Klyn,” Fremnar answered. “We can’t go back to the army after this. Looks like we should hit the open road. What is your name? I am Fremnar and my mute friend is Klyn.”
“Istaar,” replied the faegar. “Let’s go. I don’t like these ‘wizards’”
And so began the long journey of three friends to find the truth.
TO BE CONTINUED