This is the next instalment of the fantasy story I wrote many years ago. I still haven’t got a title for it, so if you can think of a good one, let me know in the comments. 🙂
If you would like to read it from the start, this is the first part:
The journey was becoming rather boring and Lara was suffering the ill effects of a long coach journey, namely a numb posterior. She had also emptied her stomach of her last meal. She remembered the meal quite clearly. They had stayed the previous night at an Inn that had been the only inhabitable building for miles, except for a few scattered farms. It was not up to the standard she was used to. They were only a few hours ride from the border between Argor and the next district of Savarias but she had not wanted to travel through the night. After a night sharing a room and a lumpy bed with Bethra she regretted that decision but had been looking forward to a decent breakfast. The fare was also not what she was used to, barley gruel and stale bread, but Lara ate everything with a ravenous hunger. Bethra just nibbled at a piece of bread.
“I’m sick to death of this porridge and gruel, I’d kill for just a slice of bacon or a nice sausage” moaned Bethra.
At the mention of sausage, Lara’s stomach rumbled noisily. Since her meditations with the gemstones her appetite had increased and now hunger never seemed far away. Lara remembered the Innkeeper coming over and giving her more stale bread and topping up her bowl with gruel. She’d had three helpings. Now she had decorated the road with the meal, the Innkeepers smile took on a sinister note.
The coach began to slow down and then came to a halt. Lara stopped reminiscing over the mornings events and rejoined the present. They had reached the border between her beloved home district and the slightly alien district of Savarias. She had only been there once with her Father. It was renowned as being a rural backwater. Argor was remote, but due to the many mines in the mountains, the timber trade and it’s proximity to the great dividing range and one of it’s only passes, Argor flourished as an important city and district. Savarias was mainly wide open fields and plains with wild horses making up its only significant trade. It’s capital city, also called Savarias, was its only major settlement. Standing ahead of them were the large gates of the customhouse. Travel between districts was still strictly regulated since the war or nearly twenty years before that had changed the country forever. It had happened before she was born and the ramifications of it were still everywhere to see. The old order had toppled to be replaced with a new. Luckily her Father had benefitted from it and had kept Argor from a lot of the worst of the troubles that followed.
The huge gates opened and the coach proceeded into the large walled courtyard. The walls and barracks surrounded them in a rather intimidating manner.
“Please alight from your coach and line up for inspection” called out an authoritative voice.
They all descended from the coach onto the bare stone cobbles and Lara saw the owner of the voice standing there, wearing the brown leather uniform and red cape typical of a Sergeant in the army.
“Please state your business” he asked, automatically addressing Augustus Caraffi being the eldest in the group and a man.
Lara quickly responded “I am Lara Boadrah, daughter of the Governor of Argor. I am travelling, with my companions, to Albana. If you impede us, My father will hear of it.”
The Sergeant looked Lara up and down scrutinising her face, which he must have recognised as he then stood to attention and saluted her.
“I am sorry for the inconvenience, your ladyship. Please continue on your way. Open the Gates.”
The last words were an order issued to the gate guards. The next set of gates opened wide and the countryside of Savarias came into view.
They were on top of a ridge and the road descended steeply down into a green valley and then disappeared over the next hill. In the far off distance they could see the walls of a small city with turrets and flags flying. That was the City of Savarias. Lara doubted they would make it before night fall but she was determined to not to spend another night at a rough roadside Inn.
They re-entered the coach and in no time they had negotiated the steep descent and Piotr encouraged the horses into a gallop. How Lara was beginning to despise Piotr Drake!
Just as they crested the next hill and the border post, flying the black and red chequered flag of Argor, passed from view, Lara noticed it had begun to get dark. It was far too early for nightfall. As Lara leaned out of the window she saw dark clouds gathering on the horizon. She also saw, in the distance, a small purple figure standing in the middle of the road, apparently underneath the black cloud.
“I wonder who that is?” Lara enquired. Then everyone’s began looking out the window to see. As they got nearer Caraffi exclaimed “Oh Damn it all, that’s all we need. A Wizard.”
Lara could now see the figure was an old man with a very long scraggy beard dressed in robes of mismatched patches of purple and blue. He looked rather nefarious.
The Coach ground to a halt and Mage Caraffi stepped down. He turned to them, looking a little worried. “Stay here and keep quiet” he ordered.
The Elderly Wizard looked very odd with his purple skull-cap and robes made up of rags. His long beard reached his knees and did not look particularly clean. On the ground in front of him was a metal bowl from which emanated an eerie red glow and smoke billowed from it in profusion. The Wizard was chanting continuously in a strange tongue and his hand wove over the metal bowl. With each word uttered, the smoke grew thicker and thicker into a dark cloud above the standing figure and with each word Lara felt the gathering of an impending doom.
Mage Caraffi walked up to the elderly figure and pointed up at the sky then back at the Wizard and suddenly Lara felt a tremendous wave of energy that appeared to come from nowhere and everywhere at once. Out of the dark, ominous clouds there came a lightning strike that temporarily filled the air with white light. When Lara could see again, the Wizard was gone. The cloud of smoke slowly dissipated on the wind and the only evidence left of the Wizard was the metal bowl and a black stain on the road.
End of Part Eight.