A Wylde Tale by T. J. Schaaf and Cal Westray
Chapter 11: The Village of No Return
It is morning in the village and I arrive to find both of them reading a book. They seem to be very deeply involved in their reading and very quiet.
Thomas sees the sacks and smiles. “I think we’re going to have to make two trips.”
I raise my eyebrow. “Oh?”
Thomas opens the door to the supply hut.
“Oh,” I was quite surprised to see the fairly large hut filled with food, clothing, and other supplies.
“We’ve had a year to prepare for the fight you see. We had a year, and still lost everyone, nearly 150 people. Let’s just hope the same thing doesn’t happen again.”
We load as much as possible into the six sacks I brought. There is enough for at least another trip. With ropes to tie them together, I shoulder as many sacks as I can, with the ropes over my shoulders and behind my neck. It is a struggle, but I can carry or drag all of them. “I will be right back.” I visualize the details of the supply area and step through.
I set the bags down and look for more empty bags, with little success.
The noise I made, attracted some soldiers. “Who’s there?” One of them calls out.
“Major Wylde with supplies. Let Colonel Wynne know, I have another trip to make. Get me more sacks, then organize some men to sort through the supplies. Some items are perishable. Step lively, soldier.”
“Yes, sir!” One soldier leaves to get the Colonel and the other leaves to get more sacks for me. He soon returns with a dozen more sacks. “That is all the empty ones available, sir.”
“Very good. Thanks, lad. I’ll be back soon.” I leave down the hall, until I am out of sight. I visualize the village again and step through.
We load up everything else and nearly fill eight more sacks. Four for me, tied together as before, and one for each of them to carry. The other two can be dragged. Thomas gathers up all the personal belongings from his hut, along with a staff that appears to be magical in nature. I shoulder the four sacks and they hold onto my arm while carrying their sacks. I visualize the details of the supply area and we step forward into the supply room.
I see Colonel Wynne at the office desk with a drink in his hand. We put the sacks aside to be sorted through. “Welcome back, Major.”
“Thank you, Colonel. I wasn’t expecting a personal reception.”
He laughs. “Nothing but the best for my men. I wanted to meet the young man you told me about earlier.”
“You aren’t planning on drafting him, are you?”
“Major, I am deeply hurt. I just wanted to thank him personally for his generous donation. You gave little detail about the circumstances and I’m not one to pry.”
I smile. “My apologies, sir. Thomas and sister, this is Colonel Willis Wynne. He is in charge of protecting Talladale and the areas beyond. Colonel, this is Thomas and his sister. The supplies are all that was salvageable from his village. Some items are perishable, so you may want to have some men distribute them where they are most needed.”
“Thank you, Thomas and miss. The first group has been sorted through for distribution, to townspeople and soldiers. Your gifts will be appreciated more than you can know. This isn’t a sales pitch, but if you find yourselves in need of a home, my outfit would be honored to welcome you.” He gives me a sidelong glance. “I was once in a similar situation as a lad. My family was killed in an attack. An officer took me in, seeing my potential, and gave me a home. I was never expected to join the military, but I was given a proper military education. I decided to join and it’s been my home ever since. I became the best swordsman in the outfit, the only person I’ve found that can best me with a blade is Wylde.”
I look away, nonchalantly.
“What I am trying to say is, that if you need a place to stay until you get yourself established, there is plenty of room and privacy in the military guest quarters. If you have the desire for weapons training, there are plenty of highly trained men available and obliging to you. No strings attached.”
Thomas grins. “Thank you, Colonel Wynne. Your offer is very generous and appreciated. My sister and I need to discuss it first and we will let you know.”
“Fair enough. Let Major Wylde know, he will personally arrange for what you need. I won’t hold you up any longer. My men will take care of the supplies. Right, Major?”
“Yes, sir.” I smile. “Thank you, sir. And thanks for keeping the men out of the supply room, until we got here. No sense in spooking them.”
“Certainly, good night.”
“Good night, sir.” I turn to the others. “Shall we go?”
They nod and I escort them out of the supply room and then out of the makeshift headquarters. I escort them to the Fox and Hound Tavern, to get something to eat.
Once we are out of earshot of the headquarters. “What a lucky break! Did you know that I was drafted the moment the cavalry entered Talladale. I would have been made a foot soldier. Imagine! The Colonel wanted to see if I could handle a sword. It appears that I gave him a lesson, we fenced for nearly an hour. It surprised us both. That, and keeping his horses free from infestation, convinced him to make me an officer.”
I think that Thomas found the tale slightly amusing or was humoring me.
“I must admit that there are some things about my past, where we came from, is baffling to me. I don’t know much about what I was doing where we first met.”
“Earth, the planet was Earth. You were from England and I was in Brazil as an exchange student. The village here was Foz do Iguacu, the same place where I came from in Brazil.” He is trying to be patient, filling in the gaps.
“Very well, Earth. What an odd name. You said that the village we came from, is the same place where you came from, on Earth? I don’t understand how that is possible. I wonder if there is a corresponding place on Earth for Talladale? Could the name have been just a coincidence?”
“I doubt it. I think it may be a different time. You were saying?”
“Different time, you say? I always thought that time travel was impossible. Oh well, with Cassandra’s help, I recalled a few things. Whatever I did, I must have spent a great deal of time there as a horseman, a swordsman, and a teleporter. There was even a massive castle I spent some time in. I remember the king of this castle, a short chap dressed in orange, red, and brown. But I can’t think of his name or where it would have been. There were others in the castle, some were even family. This is very awkward and frustrating.”
I massage my chin and turn to look at them directly. “I guess that I must have been military or ex-military, so I fit right in here. You, on the other hand, I hoped he would spare the draft. After all, you aren’t officially residents yet. I am relieved that he saw things my way. I think that you both have some issues to resolve and you need time to do that.”
Thomas and the nameless girl look at each other, no words are exchanged.
“In a fortnight, our time will run out. I spent much of my free time trying to find you. When this is over, I plan to spend a great deal of time finding a way back home, to Earth. I expect to take you with me, both of you, if you wish.”
Thomas looks at me intently. “Will it be possible?”
“It better be.”
He chuckles. “An optimist.”
“I like to think of my wine glass being eternally half full. Speaking of which, I am going to treat you to the best dinner you have had in ages. The chef of the Fox and Hound, Michael, prepares the best meals in Talladale. The steaks are monstrous, the venison is as tender as veal, and the salads are works of art. Before we eat, what sleeping arrangements would you prefer?”
“I will stay in the woods at night, returning in the morning.”
The girl agrees, “I will as well.”
“Ah, outdoor people too. I understand. The weather has been perfect for sleeping outdoors, since I’ve been here. With the exception of an occasional rain, of course. I’m not aware of any seasonal changes yet. I hope the weather remains this way indefinitely. Do you need any tent gear or do you sleep under the open sky?”
“Open sky, of course.”
“Wise choice. You should ask Cassandra about the stars. She is an expert in the constellations and their positions. Very educational and beautiful.”
“Cassandra or the stars?” He asks conspiratorially.
I grin. “Both. I bring it up, mainly because you may recognize some of the constellations from Earth, if this is where we are. Regrettably, I don’t remember any of them.”
“That is a thought. I do know a few constellations, maybe I can find them.”
I shrug. “They seem important somehow as points of reference. How, I can’t recall. It’s just a hunch.”
We enter the Fox and Hound and have a splendid meal. Thomas and I discuss details of Earth history and what life on Earth is like. Some things seem familiar once they are explained, others totally alien. The castle and king I described just don’t exist there. Since I was from England, he expected me to know that England has a queen, not a king. Most people get around by motorized vehicles and swordsmen are very rare. Teleporters? I think not. Magic as we know it here, doesn’t exist on Earth, to his knowledge. The more he describes Earth, the more convinced I am that my memories are of somewhere else. But where? I recall the words again. ‘All roads lead to...’
We had a pleasant evening and finally decide to retire for the evening.
I walk to my wagon and they head for the woods, disappearing into the trees. In the wagon I notice that Cassandra is gone, probably on Dragon’s Peak. I may join her later, but for now I will get some rest. Tomorrow will be a busy day.
“Listen, this is no offense to you, but I’m going farther in. I’d like to be alone,” I said to the girl.
“Of course,” she replied.
With that, we split up and she headed off to find a place to sleep. I, on the other hand, had some business with the forest. I went scouting to find out if there were any good spots to get herbs. I also wanted to check out the scene. So for the next hour or so, I ran around getting familiar with the forest. Then I got the feeling again. This time, I knew what it was.
“I know what you are,” a voice from the forest said.
“Lady, you have no idea what I am,” I called out.
“You cannot hide it from me, why lie?”
“I’m not. But yes, I can sense it as well. In you.”
“What are you doing here?”
“I have two missions. First, find out what my mission is and complete it. For the other, gain enough power myself to get home. I’m doing both. I hope to have a better chance that way. What is your mission? Why have you taken an interest in such a small matter? What are you protecting?”
“We all have our secrets.”
“Speaking of, would you be willing to teach me magic?”
“Of course. That is, if you prove yourself worthy of the gift.”
“I’m not worthy of it. I keep getting tasks because I’m supposed to be worthy. But I’m not. Nonetheless, I ask.”
“We shall speak tomorrow. Goodnight for now.”
“Isn’t it though.”
After the feeling went away, I figured so did she. So I continued on. I decided I’d wait until later to do more scouting. I was still very tired from, well, having my soul sucked. I decided to find a good tree to sleep in. This forest was definitely not a tropical one. No palm trees, no bananas, but trees that one can sleep in. Right when I had gotten comfortable, and was almost asleep, I heard the rustling of leaves. I slowly turned my head to look down and towards the sound. What I found was definitely interesting. It was a little demon, I think called an imp. He was sneaking along in the forest. Not very well, but he was trying. Then another figure moved in. It looked like the girl. I wasn’t sure what was going on. I hoped she wasn’t in danger. As she got closer, the demon didn’t run or attack, it began to speak.
“Who are you?” he said in a hissing voice.
“I am the one with no name. I have a job for you. Go back and bring to me the one called Mordak. Tell him it is me. Go now!”
With that, and to my surprise, the demon did a little dance, and teleported away. A short time later, a green portal opened up in front of the girl. A creature with gigantic horns, huge muscles, a tail, and the legs of a bull emerged. I went ahead and made the assumption that he too was a demon.
He stared at the girl for a moment, and then they both put their right hands on the other’s left shoulder.
“It is good to see you my friend,” said the girl.
“And you,” bellowed the demon. “There have been rumors that you are dead. What has happened?”
“Dead, no I’m not that lucky. I have been thrown out. I have started to lose my powers because of it. You once told me that I wasn’t like the others. I need to know why you said that.”
“It’s your heart,” he answered.
“What about it?”
“Well it still beats for one thing. It won’t let you enjoy the kill, like the others. I don’t see why I need to explain it to you. You seem to have made your decision.”
“Come with me. You and the others.”
“We can’t. You know that.”
“Why not? We always talked about it. What about our plans.”
“Yes, talked. That’s all. We never thought it would happen.”
“Come with me. We can do it together.”
“What has made you change?”
“I found him.”
“The chosen one, I think.”
“What?! Does the master know?”
“Your master, and yes, he does.”
“Then you and he are as good as dead.”
Normally, I would have let the conversation play out. But I had some strange urge to tell him he was wrong. Something inside of me just felt the need to. It was weird.
“Actually, I predict we’ll be alive for quite some time,” I called down from the trees.
After saying that, I jumped down from the trees. It was pretty far, but I figured if I wanted my first appearance to look cool, I’d have to take the risk. Luckily, I landed on soft ground.
“Who are you?” The demon calmly asked.
As he said that, I thought I saw something move out of the corner of my eye.
“My name is Thomas. I’m the chosen one. And I’m her stepbrother.”
“You followed me,” she said demanding an answer.
“No, I was trying to sleep when you guys came and woke me up. Hey, big guy with horns.”
“Mordak,” he corrected me.
“Yeah, could you do me a favor and duck for a second.”
“Because there is a vampire in the trees behind you and he’s about to lunge at you.”
“Finally,” said the girl with a sound of relief in her voice.
“Oh,” Mordak said.
With that, a single chain came out of the girl’s shoulder a snaked over in front of Mordak’s chest. She told him to duck on the count of three. She counted, the vampire lunged, he ducked, and she impaled it. She then sucked the energy from the vampire. After she drained it, she actually looked a lot better.
“That’s how you have to get your energy now isn’t it,” I asked.
“Yes,” she responded.
“Hey,” I said to Mordak, “aren’t demons supposed to be vile creatures with flames and spikes and generally unpleasant qualities?”
“But I’m not a demon demon. I’m a half-demon. Mother was a witch, daddy was a demon.”
She continued. “Think about what I said. You always wanted to start your own business. Come with us. And if you won’t do that, at least tell the others for me.”
“I don’t want to be the one sent to bring you back. You had better start running before he can find you.”
“No thanks, I’ve done enough running lately.”
“We shall speak later,” said Mordak who then proceeded back into the portal.
After he was gone, I looked over at the girl.
“Should I ask?”
“Old friend,” she said.
“Okay, so what are we going to do?”
“About what,” she asked.
“He’s right. The demon will keep coming after us. We won’t be able to run forever. What are we going to do?”
“Well, I guess hope we can defeat him somehow.”
“This is serious! He nearly took my soul once. The second time I might not be so lucky.”
“Don’t worry. You’re the chosen one. Everything will be okay.”
“Not if we just sit back and do nothing.”
“For now, let’s focus on this warlock war. After that, we’ll worry about our situation.”
“You’re right. Good night.”
Right, she wasn’t right. Just being the so called “chosen one” wasn’t going to cut it. And getting careless would get us killed. So once again, she went off into the woods. I then proceeded to climb my tree and get some more rest. But then I got another visitor. It was in the form of an arrow. An arrow with a note. It hit the branch right next to my head. It read, ‘The demon won’t bother you any more until he knows that you are the chosen one and that you are a threat to him. So tread lightly and prepare for a big fight.’
“Gee, I wonder who sent that,” I said to myself. So after getting comfortable for the second time, I went to sleep. This time, I was able to stay that way too. Morning came and I was awaken by the forest. I climbed down and proceeded back to the town in hopes of finding a cup of coffee for me there.