BY: PETER ROSSFOUR
This is the second book of Volume One, A King Rides Through of The Three Mirrors trilogy. The chapter, The Making of History, the first book ended upon is repeated here at the start of the second book for the sake of continuity of the tale.
The Making of History
Whilst it was true that the younger princess had discovered that she possessed an awesome power—one she did not yet fully understand or comprehend the full implications of—she unfortunately was as yet untested in the wielding of her talent. It was therefore indeed providential that she had as companion and sounding board their lifelong friend and cousin, more like a brother really, young Ethan, who was as much part of the history of the Land as they were.
Now of course, as we have seen, due to unforeseen circumstances the threesome were split. The most crucial question now being posed was whether they could still function effectively? It was vitally important for not only their own wellbeing, but also that of the Land and its people, that they prevent the apotheosis of Malfeasint.
What makes our tale doubly strange is that it is interwoven in the fabric of Time, the most mysterious entity of all. We speak—never knowingly—of the Mists of Time and the Arch of Time, and yet we still, after all these eons, cannot comprehend exactly what it is we speak of and experience. Perhaps because we are Time. If we were not, would there be Time? Or does it exist only in our minds? Do we fabricate time as we live our daily lives? If everybody on earth had to die exactly at the very same moment, would Time together with Life cease to exist?
Not all of us know about it, but it is recorded, there for us to look up, the teasing double slit experiment of one Feinstein. Does this not tell us that we view time wrongly?
Aah, but greater minds than ours have struggled with this enigma for as long as man has been around, most probably in all eleven parallels. It is therefore far more fitting, and certainly a more rewarding utilization of time, if we simply chronicled the events as they unfold.
In that way we can be part of the epic struggle to free the Land from evil and restore peace and dignity to those who live in it.
Fortunately for us we can sit unobserved on the side-lines and witness—quite safely—the making of this particular piece of time as it is engraved in the annals of history. In such a fashion we can now follow the rest of the tale, visiting the trials of the father of the princesses as he is tested—no half measures accepted—to determine if he is fit to be the King the Land it so desperately in need of. And the father of the young male member of the team, will he measure up, prove worthy?
And what will Malfeasint do about it all? And that frightening sinister Lord Dread, King of Darkness?
So let us quietly sneak back to our hidden coign of vantage, and see what unfolds. Take care though to take careful note, life is full of surprises, you never know when you will be called upon to bear testimony. Make no error—
Your very life may depend on it!
Out of the Blue
It happened the first day away from the caves. One of Karina’s most trusted servants Jorgham, an ex-captain of the King’s Guard, was riding in the lead with Ethan. Behind him followed Karina and Hailjan, and behind them in pairs, six heavily armed soldiers, all trained veterans of the King’s Guard. Following them another four servants rode, and behind them four more leading a packhorse each, with behind them again another six soldiers. All together the party was made up of twenty-four individuals. Quite a sizeable contingent for what they had in mind—reaching Oriacar from where they could take ship for Draggonia and from there to Arufara, Garthaume’s home.
To avoid the marshlands near the caves, they were heading towards Swans Lake, near where the famous Battle of Flowers with the Crystal Kingdom forces against Malfeasint had taken place. Late in the afternoon as they were approaching the road winding through tall Birch trees that led up to the lake, Jorgham suddenly signaled the entourage to halt.
“What’s wrong?” Karina immediately wanted to know.
“Flash smells something.” Jorgham was referring to his beautiful black horse with a white flash on its forehead who was pricking his ears. “He’s never wrong. There’s danger around us.” Issuing rapid instructions to his troop, in a matter of seconds he had the twelve soldiers form a loose ring around his mistress and her guests and the servants, swords drawn
It happened so suddenly nobody had time to respond. The soldier nearest the tree line towards the lake was knocked off his horse by a winged creature the size of a large goose. The moment he hit the ground it sunk its fangs into his neck, sucking out his lifeblood.
“What on earth was that?” Karina asked, unaware of what was happening to the soldier.
“It looked like giant bat to me,” Ethan answered. “I thi…” he never completed what he was about to say, a loud keening sound, like a thousand whistles being blown in unison filled the air, reverberating amongst the low hills leading up to the lake road.
“Shorken!” Jorgham shouted to his first lieutenant, “Take our Lady and her guests and the servants and ride as fast as you can. Lead them amongst the trees. Choose the ones with the lowest branches. Ride now! The rest of you fan out single file, form a wedge!”
“Bats!” Ethan shouted, drawing his katana at the same time Hailjan drew hers. “Giant bloody bats! Here they come.”
“Karina ride with Shorken!” Hailjan ordered. “Stay as low in the saddle as you can! Ride now!” Wheeling their horses out of the way she and Ethan made way for Karina and the servants to make a dash for the woods.
“Go with them!” Jorgham ordered.
“In your dreams!” Ethan shouted, indicating to Hailjan he was going to attack from the righthand side of the approaching nightmare. Understanding his plan instantly, Hailjan did a caracole to the left, spurring her mount into a full gallop. Divide the target. Easier to defend.
Seeing what they were up to Jorgham nodded his head in approval and immediately divided his troops to form lines behind the two teenagers riding as hard as they could toward the approaching bats. Next to its downed master the unfortunate soldier’s horse whinnied in fear but was too well trained to abandon its master.
Bringing up the rear, Jorgham with a neat flick of the wrist slashed the bat busily feeding off the downed soldier, neatly in two with his glave, galloping at full speed to help the others as they engaged the flying menace.
Caught by surprise by the sudden attack, the bat formation found themselves assailed from two different directions. Again Ethan signaled, again Hailjan understood instantly. Doing a sharp caracole to his left Ethan charged into the body of the flock, slashing with amazing speed and accuracy, bodies thudding to the ground in spurts of blood. Hailjan imitating his move did the same, her katana glittering red in the setting sun. As they passed each other Ethan shouted “Repeat the movement until we’ve got them beat!”
The soldiers, quickly seeing the efficacy of the maneuver the two teenagers were executing, followed suit, slaying the bats with their broadswords as fast as they could attack.
Karina and the servants, together with Shorken, sheltering under the low branches of the trees watched with bated breath as the battle took on furious dimensions. The fast galloping crisscrossing riders were in danger of colliding with each other, their flashing swords narrowly missing their colleagues charging from the opposite direction. Deep orange dust, tinged with red from the setting sun, swirled in tumultuous boiling clouds. Blood from the slain flying menaces and the soldiers where the flame sharp talons on the extremities of the elongated finger bones on the forelimbs of the bat’s wings ripped through clothing and skin, in some instances cutting to the bone, hung like an eldritch miasma in the air.
Without warning, five of the hideous creatures swooped down on Hailjan, three simultaneously attacking her whilst the other two went for her horse’s neck. Fending off one by cutting it in two, she managed to behead another, but the third attacker sunk its yellow fangs deep into her exposed neck. At the same time her mount stumbled, falling to its knees before going down in a cloud of blood and dust, rolling over its hapless rider in the process.
Ethan, witnessing it with dismay, charged headlong, but it was too late, he had his hands full fending off the ravenous, frenzied flying creatures straight from hell, coming at him from all sides.
Watching from the tree shelter Karina said appalled, “We’ve got to help them! We can’t just stand by!”
“No, my Lady, please stay where you are. You have no weapons,” Shorken cautioned. “We don’t want that lot attacking us and our horses. They’ll manage in the end, wait and see.”
“What are those creatures?”
“Flying Foxes my Lady, but a kind I’ve never seen. They’re bigger and more ferocious.”
“Thanks once again to Malfeasint’s meddling,” Karina said bitterly.
Back in the heat of the battle Jorgham had dismounted from his steed and was fending off the frenzied attackers from the prostrate form of Hailjan as best he could, his glave glistening in the fading light of the now rapidly encroaching dusk, his clothing and face and arms covered in blood.
Seeing with total dismay that Ethan has gone down as well, Karina, grabbing Shorken’s glave from its scabbard, spurred her horse and charged straight into the middle of the wildly milling, dust-enshrouded melee. Handling the glave with trained expertise she slashed her way forward, toward the two downed teenagers. There was simply no way she was going to stand idly by and jeopardize the future of the Land.