Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Fantasy Revealed, vii

Fantasy Revealed, Part vii
By H.A. Handy
Copyright 2005 by H.A. Handy


I woke up in a beautiful room upon a large canopied four-poster bed, the kind every little girl dreams of at some point in her life. The dogs were curled up on either side of me, just like always. The walls were stone covered in thick tapestries and coverings almost like quilts, very ornate quilts. A window was just to my right where a beautiful night sky peeped in so lazily I could almost forget, for a moment, what had happened.

Carefully I pushed myself up onto my elbows. Ella and Enyo raised their heads and thumped their tails against the bed in quiet greeting. I smiled at them and they lay their large black heads back down. A fireplace was just to the foot of the bed, and two chairs. Dremor occupied one of them, his head resting against his hand abjectly, his eyes closed in quiet sleep. Carefully I pushed the heavy covers away and was getting ready to get up when Dremor appeared. No traces of sleep were left in his eyes as he looked down at me. The light of the fire played about his handsome face adding atmosphere to....

I was suddenly very glad it was darkish in the room, because if it was not then Dremor would see me blush like a fanciful teenager letting herself wonder what if in the middle of a fantastic hopeful dream.

Dremor pulled the cover back up over me as he sat down at my side. He stroked my forehead gently. “Hungry?” he asked. I really didn’t feel hungry but I didn’t have anything to say, so I said I was. Without hesitance, Dremor propped me on more pillows and from a bedside table placed a tray in my lap. It was covered with a cloth and when the cover was removed the scent of warm stew and fresh bread made my stomach gurgle in earnest. Dremor smiled at that and left from the side of the bed long enough to bring his chair closer as well as a tray of his own, which he had obviously not fully eaten on in his vigil by my bedside. Ella and Enyo, of course, were no longer asleep because they were focused on the food Dremor and I were now eating.

“They have been fed,” Dremor said, reaching out to stroke Ella’s large head, which was the closer of the two. “They did not want to eat at first, but I made sure to feed them in here, which let them have some of their appetite.”

“And Cappa?” Dremor pointed to the other chair by the fire.

“Safe and sound and purring pleasantly.” He smiled at me in his warm, genuine way and I felt myself relax.

“How long have I been asleep?”

“A day only,” he answered.

“I’m sorry.” Dremor placed one of his warm, elegant hands over mine.

“There is nothing for you to apologize for anything, Marjorie,” he said, and, I have to admit I rather enjoyed how he said my name. It was suddenly very exotic and sexy. “You have come to a different world, literally, in order to help us, without thinking so much as one ounce for yourself. All of this,” he said, waving his spoon at the room as if encompassing it and so much more, “is undoubtedly shocking in the truest of senses. I know when I first went into your world I became extremely ill. We who Travel call it shifting sickness. I did not stop having it for almost twenty times!”

“Is that how many times you have come into my world? Twenty?” Dremor smiled at me and shook his head as he ladled a bite of the rich meat and vegetable stew into his mouth.

“I have been to your world many times, and each time it has changed in some way. Once there was a great battle being fought with cannons and people were falling horribly on both sides. It was called the Civil War, I believe. It was sad, and rank.” Dremor’s brow furrowed. “I am sorry, you don’t need to hear about all of that.”

“No, please,” I said, “go on.” And he did. He told me of the Civil War and of what he had seen. He had come to our world that time to bring someone back, but had only ended up bringing them back. Then he told me of Charles Dickens’ world and how it compared to what had been happening in America and my own history came alive for me in a manner I could never have imagined before. Finally, our bowls empty and the bread eaten, Dremor sighed and tucked me back under the nice warm blankets and told me dawn would be coming soon. He promised to be at his post the remainder of the night. As I scrunched down upon the comfortable bed and all of those pillows, I glanced down and saw Dremor replacing his chair by the fire and angling it so he could see the bed and the fire. Once I woke up, startled at everything being different, just as the sky outside was beginning to pale. Dremor was there, his head upon his hand, and the fire burning down to coals. I trusted him in a way I had never trusted anyone, and as I was drifting back off into sleep, I hoped I was not making a mistake.

### ### ###

The dogs’ frantic barking was what woke me up fully. They were off the bed and had stationed themselves in front of the large wooden door fiercely. Dremor was awakened too, his sword drawn and at the ready. Sounds from outside finally drifted in, and they were horrible sounds of people screaming, horses whinnying that terrified, frightened sound that made the blood chill in your veins. Then came the clash of metal upon metal and Dremor was at the window, throwing a large shutter (I had not even noticed before) shut just as arrows came whipping inside.

“Down! Get down!” Dremor yelled. I was on the floor and under the bed in seconds. Cappa soon came to join me. I called Ella and Enyo close and they sat on the floor, waiting. “It’s English! The fool!” Dremor yelled.

The door to the room burst open and oiled boots appeared. “Where is she?” It was King Arthur. I did not hear Dremor say anything but the king was looking at me beneath the bed. “Come child. We need to get you out of here.” I had almost made it from beneath the bed when Fredrick appeared, a satchel over his back and was dragging two others, both of them a lot larger than his. The effort was causing the little man’s face to break into sweat.

“Everything is there, including a change of clothes,” said Frederick as he slid one over to me. “Dress and we will be on our way.”

I reached for the pack and pulled out a pair of soft leather breeches, a shirt and vest, and a pair of extra soft boots with soft soles almost like moccasins. The sounds of a raging battle was growing outside, as well as a scent of feces and copper. I didn’t want to think about those smells, but they made my half-empty stomach lurch dangerous a couple of times. The men, much to my surprise, all turned their backs to me to give me privacy as I changed and I felt just a little sad for not being more self-conscious of changing in front of these strange men, especially when I would not change in front of my mother when I was home! Terror can make you re-think propriety it appeared.

I had just slid on the vest when a broad shouldered, very squarely built, almost stout elf appeared. He was about five feet nine and massive in his chest and shoulders, actually every where! He paused to give me an approving look then bowed low to King Arthur.

“What word Kolbar?”

“The gate is falling at the moment, but there looks like the reinforcements from Dal are going to arrive. The archers have already assisted us with their arrows, even from Dal. If we want to make sure the Keeper is safe, we’d best get her gone.” King Arthur nodded.

“I trust you will keep her safe, Kolbar?” King Arthur fixed Kolbar with a look that made me wilt, but Kolbar just looked into the king’s eyes and laughed.

“Aye, I’ll keep her safe, as long as my dear cousin agrees we go where I say she needs to go.” Dremor tensed.

“Dremor?” the king intoned. Several tense seconds passed before Dremor gave his agreement.

“Just remember, Kolbar, Dremor is ahead of you in rank.”

“What does a half-blood need of rank?” Kolbar laughed suddenly. “Come now, let’s get going while we still have a chance!”

Dremor passed close by me, grabbed me by the arm and we edged passed Kolbar whose bulk was taking up the majority of the door. Ella and Enyo followed me, and I heard Cappa mew sadly. Dremor had somehow managed to scoop up his pack from the floor without me noticing it (which really wouldn’t have been too difficult to do considering). Kolbar touched his forehead in a means of greeting. His eyes were dark and brilliant. A tight black beard and mustache outlined his full-lipped mouth, and his head was filled with long dreadlocks. I could not help but smile at him – he seemed so amused by everything. I also noticed his skin was darker and he smelled of...the out doors, like when you go camping and return after a week. You still smell like the out doors even after you have more than one shower, and that’s exactly what he smelled like.

I was still looking back at the curiosity that was Kolbar in time to see him scoop up Fredrick and Cappa and head out after us. Fredrick was outraged!

“Be quiet little man! I’m just giving you necessary aide!” Kolbar said, his voice sounding like thunder.

“I am a mighty and powerful wizard!”

“Aye, that you are, but your legs can’t keep up with Dremor’s and I am not so certain of mine, but mine have a better chance until we can get to the horses!”
Then Kolbar was after us, right on my heels, and I was right on Dremor’s who was hurrying down a set of stone steps with such sure-footedness I felt myself hard put to try and keep up with him.

At a landing he let me rest and Kolbar catch up, who then passed right by us, Fredrick still on his shoulder like so many pounds of potatoes, and then we were heading after Kolbar.

I did not get to see much of what was around me, but I did see beautiful glistening crystal archways and beautiful gold and gems upon some of the tiles we passed over. Then we were into a small tunnel behind a tapestry and we were hurrying in single file with a torch here and there to light our way. For myself I could see nothing. I had to trust to Dremor to tell me if there were steps or turns because I could not see, and he in turn was relying upon Kolbar who would shout out turns here and there or roar “Steps” or something else as he proceeded.

Kolbar put down Fredrick and told Dremor to wait, he would check the exit and he rushed off. I was tired and drenched in sweat from the many minutes run. Dremor was not phased and neither was Fredrick.

“I...thought...elves could see in the dark,” I panted. Dremor shook his head.

“Not here, it is protected by magic, but Kolbar can see. It is in his blood.”


“He is half dwarf!” Dremor virtually spat out the information. I wondered suddenly if everything I had read in Dungeons and Dragons was true: Did elves and dwarves dislike each other so much they would not cross breed? If Dremor’s reaction was any indication, then, yes there was something to it, but my line of thought could not follow up with a question because Kolbar appeared and we were continuing down the tunnel once more, this time very quietly.

Ella rumbled softly and everyone stopped.

Kolbar started on again and we followed.

Finally there was a crack around what appeared to be a door and Kolbar slid it open slowly. It took several seconds for my eyes to adjust. When they did, I was sickened at what I saw.

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