Days earlier, Irius had an annoyed expression on his face as he looked out on the ancient, underground city of Maris Duengar. The city had stood for uncountable ages, but over the last sixty five years, engineers had taken note of several small cracks in the supports all around the cavern.
A sense of dread came over them as rumors of what had transpired, entered their realm, but none could be substantiated. What little history that could be found of their city was that it was constructed both by dwarves and enchanters.
It was the enchanters who cast powerful spells to hold the city up long enough for the dwarves to build supports in the cavern to prevent collapse under the enormous pressure. Now, those very supports were begining to buckle.
The city historians and scholars considered their situation. The pillars that had protected the city had been there for thousands of years and were carved out of solid rock. There was no reason for them to be buckling now. Not unless they’d had help. Most likely, there was an enchantment on the pillars that kept them strong. An enchantment, that was no longer there.
Irius sighed as he watched his people. Like most dwarven cities, every building was carved out of solid rock. There was no wood, no cloth, and no decor. What the city lacked in ornament, it made up for with the intricacy of the carvings. The dwarven artisans that had inhabited the city long before Irius and his refugees took over had gone to greath lengths to make it impressive. It was not the most ideal home for elves, but it had provided them protection for a world of chaos.
Thousands of years of history could be lost if the city collapsed, but this was not their only concern. Time was against them in a different way as well. These elves had been there for hundreds of years. They
The vapors that were created by burning sanguine managed to keep them alive, but had an undesirable effect… they were plagued with an extreme sensativity to light, it was something which they had learned to live with, but the sanguine was running out. Their underground groves had gone barren and they could no longer produce the potion which had kept them alive.
“You’re certain of this then?” Irius asked as he turned to his cheif advisor.
The advisor had seen more of time than most of the other elves living in the city. He was much older and wiser. His eyes were nested in deep sockets with wrinkles that indicated he’d seen more than his share of strife, “There can be no doubt, she is the one.”
Irian, the son of Irius and one of the younger citizens of Maris Duengar stood off to the side in a dark spot where no torches burned. The only reason anyone knew he was there was because of his eyes, “But she’s a child, she has barely reached maturity.”
“It doesn’t matter.” Irius replied. “She holds the key to our salvation.”
Irian didn’t appear convinced. Though his father couldn’t see the expression on his face, Irius knew that he had doubts, “Speak your mind, my son.”
Irian stepped out of the shadows. His gaze alternated between the elderly advisor and his father. Despite him himself being of advanced age, he still looked to be only twenty five years old himself. His skin was pale and his dark hair flowed almost to his shoulders, “Father, even if a transfusion of her blood could help us cure the ailment that has long since been held back by the sanguine, we’d still be forced out of the city.”
“Which is why it cannot be anyone else, my son. In addition to having more elven traits than anyone else we’ve seen from the surface, we’ve also discovered that she is the descendant of an enchanter.”
The advisor joined Irian in a look of doubt, “My lord, that’s impossible, the Lux Mundi was destroyed long ago. There were no enchanters left.”
Irius shook his head, “Are you quite certain of that? Think, my friend. Enchanters may have lost their powers, but the enchantments they casted remained, and not just the animation enchantments either. Much stronger ones that still needed their source to work, remained. Did our bretheren really destroy it, or did they simply weaken it and send it deep into the ground?”
“Father… You’re planning on using her blood for more than a transfusion… you wish to place a blood hex on the pillars to keep them standing.”
Irius nodded, “We elves can’t create enchantments on our own, we need the blood of an enchanter to fuel our machinations.”
“This is barbarism!” The advisor yelled.
“We don’t have another option.”
Irian shook his head, “This is wrong, and it won’t work anyway. She may be the descendant of an enchanter, but that blood has mixed with elven blood.”
Irius smiled, “I’ve spoken to our apothecary. He believes that he can separate the elven from the human. If he can do that, her blood can be purified.”
“I won’t be part of this, father. It’s wrong.”
Irius glared at his son, “Our people are dying. According to our scouts, there are no elves left on the surface. Our race has gone extinct there. Would you have us die out completely?”
“There must be another way.”
“We’ve looked.” His father replied. “For thousands of years, we’ve looked. There is no other way. One girl, to save the lives of over a hundred thousand, it’s plain to see what the correct answer is.”
Irian still didn’t look convinced.
“My son, your family is out there. Your sister, and your friends, would you see them all die for your morality?”
Irian closed his eyes. He was still conflicted, but he knew that his father was right, “No, of course not.”
“Good. Then it’s probably time you returned to the surface. It’s a long long trek back to that city… what did you call it again?”
“Right, Bostun…” Irisu replied. “Such unusual names these people have now.”
“I know, Father.”
Without another word, Irian left the main hall. He had a long walk ahead of him out of the mountainous wilderness of… New Hempsheer. Or was it Hempshire, or Hampshire? Bah! Irian thought to himself. These names will be the end of me!
His concentation was broken when a girl whom appeared no more than 18 appeared in his path. Unlike Irian, her eyes were closer to an orange color. She also had brown hair, which she had clearly gotten from her mother. A look of worry spread across her youthful features, “They’re sending you back to the surface, aren’t they?”
Irian nodded, “Yes, Irie, I have to find that girl.”
“But why you? Why can’t they send someone else?”
“It’s my responsibility, as the High Lord’s son.”
Irie frowned, “That doesn’t make it right. I’ve heard that these people are savages! They refused to help our people on the surface!”
Irian shook his head, “I doubt that’s true. I’ve heard that story too, but I’ve also heard rumors that these people did in fact help our surface bretheren not pass the disease to their children.”
“Maybe… but it’s still not worth the risk.”
“I know, I know…” The young elf replied. “It’s your responsability. That doesn’t mean I have to like it.”
“As long as you understand it.”
Irie looked away, “Just hurry back.”
“I will, fairwell Irie.”
Taryn didn’t care for the movie. She had an annoyed look on her face as Bobby escorted her out, “That sucked! Totally disrepectful to the original!”
Bobby nodded, “Yeah I know… you would think that with a hundrend forty years of technological advancement, we’d be able to make a good movie, but the creatures look totally fake by comparison to the original.”
At that moment, Taryn looked behind her. The hair on the back of her neck stood up and a look of worry appeared on her face. She was certain that something was nearby.
“Are you okay?” Bobby asked, concerned. “You’ve been looking over your shoulder a lot tonight. Is something wrong?”
Taryn sighed, “I’m sorry Bobby. I’ve been distracted. It’s nothing against you… I just can’t shake the feeling that I’m being followed.”
“Have you seen anyone?”
“Earlier today… outside the classrooms.”
“Who was it?”
“A man dressed in black. He had a hood up so I couldn’t see his face.”
As they got back to Bobby’s car she looked behind her one last time before sliding in. Bobby got in the driver’s seat and watched her as she rubbed her shoulders, clearly uncomfortable.
The trip back to Arcanus was silent. Taryn’s elven ears scanned the road around them for the possibility of anyone following them, but she didn’t detect anything out of the ordinary as they pulled into the campus parking lot. It just seemed to be a normal night. Am I just being paranoid? Do my dreams have me on edge? I feel like I’m coming apart here.
Her thoughts were interupted by the sound of the car powering down. The fuel cell turned off and the car was idle. Bobby turned and looked at Taryn, “Well I had fun.”
“Yeah me too.”
“Walk you to your room?”
“You don’t have to.”
“Are you sure?”
Taryn’s eyes quickly scanned the darkness leading to her building, “… Maybe you should, just to be safe.”
Bobby looked in the other direction, towards the main campus, “Look, maybe we should take you to campus security. They should probably know what’s going on.”
Taryn shook her head, “I don’t even know if what I’m feeling is real. What am I going to tell them, that my dreams have me on edge? They’ll tell me to go see the oncall therapist. No thanks.”
Bobby sighed and got out of the car. As he opened her door, he smiled, “You know you’re incredibly stubborn.”
“So I’ve been told… Apparently it runs in my family.”
“I’m sure it does.”
Taryn got out of the car and let Bobby lead her back to her room. The night air was cool and a slight breeze caused Taryn to break out in goose bumps. Chills travelled down her spine and she wasn’t sure if they were due to the cold or because she still felt like she was being followed.
She waited for Bobby to look away before glancing behind her again. She didn’t want him to worry, but she was beginning to. She bit her lip as they reached the door. It was locked with a retina scanner, so she would need to get them in. She pushed on the lock, which prompted a red circle to open and scan her eyes.
A robotic voice responded, “Welcome back, Taryn Arrigan.”
Once they were inside, Bobby escorted her to her room. As the door opened, Taryn stepped inside and turned the light on. She looked around slowly and nodded, “Okay, well… thank you…”
Despite her cool exterior, Bobby could tell that she was nervous, “Are you okay? Do you want me to hang out for a while?”
Taryn sucked in a deep breath. She didn’t want to inconvenience Bobby and God only knew what he was thinking of her. She sighed, “Something isn’t right… I don’t feel comfortable at all. I continuously feel like someone is watching me. This isn’t normal. I must be going insane.”
“Unless someone is watching you…” Bobby replied, trying to be supportive without sounding ominous. “Tell you what, I’ll go back to my room and grab a pillow and a blanket. I’ll stay with you until you feel comfortable enough to be alone. How does that sound?”
“You’re going to sleep on the floor?”
“Why not, done worse.”
Taryn sighed, what choice did she have? Most of her friends would have been asleep by now. She knew Bobby for a while, but having him sleep over was at least a second date thing, if not further down. Still, this had nothing to do with their relationship, and she knew that it would make her feel safer.
Feeling backed into a corner, Taryn agreed, “All right… if you’re sure.”
“All right. Stay here, keep the door locked and don’t open it for anyone other than me.”
“I’ll be right back, I promise.”
Taryn sat down as Bobby turned and disappeared back through the doorway. As the door closed, he poked his head back through, “Remember, only me. I’ll buzz you downstairs.”
Bobby nodded and closed the door. Taryn immediately locked it and sat down on her bed. Being behind a locked door did not make her feel any better. She was on the second floor and the door was solid steel, but the ominous feeling never left her.
Taryn sucked down a deep breath and released it. She was extremely uneasy, “Maybe I should’ve gone with him.”
“Yes you should have!”
Taryn jumped up as a young man appeared from behind a cloak, “You… how…?”
The man smiled, “This cloak is weived from the furr of cave rats. It takes on the color and texture of whatever it touches, in this case, your wall.”
Taryn stepped backwards, looking for anything she could use as a weapon. At that moment, sentinel came to life, “Proximity alert! Taryn, you are in danger!”
“You think?” She shouted at the AI.
The appearance of Sentinel startled the young man, causing the hood of his cloak to fall, “What manner of creature is that?”
“Creature?” Taryn asked. “It’s not a creature, it’s just my AI. It’s my computer link.”
“Computer link?” The man said with a confused expression. “Well whatever it is, if it is not living, remove it immediately!”
Taryn gave Sentinel a fearfull look as she spoke, “Send this information to Bobby, tell him exactly what happened and…”
Before she could finish, the intruder ripped the band off her arm and threw it across the room. The screen impacted on the wall and shattered. Taryn cried out, “Sentinel!”
An obscured, staticy, image appeared on the ground, “Trasmission complete.”
The young man brushed some hair out of his face, “I take it that means someone is coming for you.”
Taryn nodded, “You can still get away.”
That’s when she noticed his ears, “Wait… are you… you’re part elf?”
“Part?” The man scoffed.
Realizing that he did not have much time, looked deep into Taryn’s eyes, “You’re coming with me, whether you consent to or not.”
One look in the man’s eyes was all it took. Taryn felt her head spin and immediately fell limp. Her world turned completely black.
One building over, Bobby was looking for his key. The main dormitory didn’t have a retina scanner, so he still needed to resort to old fashioned manual entry. It took him a moment, but he finally found his key and was about to unlock the door when his armband beeped.
A yellow holographic figure appeared in front of him. This one, unlike Sentinel, was female. Her eyes glowed and a look of concern came over her face, “Priority alert, Robert, we have an incoming signal. “
Bobby looked at the device oddly. He’d never been able to get his AI to call him Bobby, but at this moment, it wasn’t important, “Source?”
The AI processed the request for less than a second before responding, “Sentinel reports that Taryn has been attacked. Someone is in her room. It would appear that Sentinel has been damaged… all further information is… distorted.”
Bobby felt his heart freeze in his chest, “I never should have left her alone!”
He turned and began to run back to Leslie House, “Nexus, can you get a fix on her? Is she still in her room?”
Nexus processed the request as quickly as she could before responding, “Affirmative, it would appear that Sentinel is in close proximity to the floor.”
“She must have been knocked down… I hope she’s all right…”
“She doesn’t appear to be moving based on my telemetry data.”
Chills began to run down Bobby’s spine, “Can you request any health information from Sentinel… is she still alive?”
Again, Nexus fell silent as she processed the request, “I no longer have a link to Sentinel. It would appear that he is too heavily damaged, but I was able to tap into his memory log… it appears that he was no longer reading vitals at the moment he took damage.”
Bobby felt his face heat up. He was now sick, thinking that she might have been killed, “Nexus, send what information you have to campus security! Get them over here!”
“Acknowledge… campus security has been notified. They are on their way.”
As Bobby arrived at Leslie House, another girl had just scanned her retinas and was about to enter when Bobby blew past her, through the open doors. The girl had to jump to avoid getting knocked over, “Hey!”
Bobby didn’t have time to apologize and barely noticed the alarm go off, “Unauthorized entry! Intruder on the premisis! Security has been notified.”
As Bobby made his way up the stairs, Nexus spoke up, “I’ve notified the security system of what has happened, but it doesn’t appear to be advanced enough to process the information. I’ve updated security of the situation.”
Bobby nodded as he reached her door. The door was shut and locked. He frantically knocked and tried to get her attention, “Taryn, it’s Bobby, are you okay? Answer me!”
No response came.
“Taryn, are you in there?”
Still no response. Bobby knew that he had to get in quickly. If there was a chance that she was still alive, he had to get to her. Without a second thought, Bobby stepped back, raised his leg with his foot bent at the knee, and gave the door a hard kick.
Tremors shot through his lower leg as his foot impacted. The door had a large dent, but had not opened. There impact woke up half the dorm.
Lisa was asleep in her room two doors down. She was relaxed in white and yellow blankets that she had brought from home. Despite the warm weather, she still preferred those thick blankets to the thinner ones she had in her closet.
Lisa’s eyes shot open wide. At first she couldn’t see anything. Her eyes were too blurry. What the hell was that?
Something wasn’t right. It sounded like someone was trying to come through the wall. She quickly jumped out of bed, wrapped herself in a robe and opened her drawer. Before reaching in, she grabbed the cross she wore around her neck and kissed it, “God forgive me for this…”
Inside the drawer was a sonic stunner. The device could render someone unconscious at medium range using high powered sonic waves that would interfere with a persons hearing. She knew that she’d have to be careful, but she felt better about having that with her than waiting for security.
She grabbed it and with an annoyed look, slowly opened the door to peak outside. Her eyes widened when she caught sight of Bobby trying to kick Taryn’s door in. She immediately threw open her own door and marched out, “Bobby, what the hell are you doing? You’re going to get…”
“Taryn’s in trouble!” Bobby replied. “Her AI sent me a message saying that she had been attacked and now it’s not reading vital signs!”
A look of terror appeared in Lisa’s eyes, “My God… hurry!”
One more kick was all it took. Lisa raised the sonic stunner and followed Bobby into the room, ready to back up her friend. Bobby quickly made his way into her room which immediately lit up the moment it sensed movement.
Bobby couldn’t believe it. She was nowhere to be seen. The window was open, but Taryn wasn’t in the room. Before he had a chance to look around, a man dressed all in blue, wearing a gold badge, appeared with a gun in his hand, “Police, freeze!”
Bobby raised his hands as Lisa dropped her sonic stunner. The officer looked them both over, “All right, someone start talking, what’s going on?”
Bobby gave the officer a look of despiration, “Officer, Taryn is gone! We think she’s been kidnapped.”
“We got a report that someone had broken into her room and that she was in trouble.”
Bobby nodded, “Yes sir, my AI sent you that message. Nexus, please confirm.”
Nexus appeared once more from his armband, “Confirmed. The message should have come from IP address 529.12.395.22 codename: Nexus.”
The officer lowered his gun and pressed on his own armband, “Headquarters, this is Officer Lenn. Initiate a level one alert. It looks like we may have a 231. Authorization 23413.”
A robotic voice responded, “Identify victim.”
“Acknowledged. Level one alert initiated.”
The officer pressed another button on the band, “Initiate recording.”
The armband beeped in response. Then the officer looked up at Lisa and Bobby, “All right, every officer within a hundred mile radius has been alerted. They’ll be out looking for her. So start talking, what happened?”
“Officer, Taryn and I went out on a date a few hours ago. The entire time she said that she felt like someone was watching her. I kept her close, but after the date I suggested that she come with me to campus security so we can have you guys look into this.”
“What did she say?”
“She said that she didn’t have any proof and was most likely just paranoid.”
“Did you think she was just being paranoid?”
Bobby shook his head, “She’s part elf. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about them, it’s that when they say that somethings wrong, something is definitely wrong.”
“Yes, I’ve heard the same.” The officer agreed. “So what happened next?”
“That I don’t know… I dropped her off in her room, but she still looked uneasy. So I had her lock the door while I ran over to my room to get a pillow and a blanket. I was going to come back and camp out here just until she felt better. I had just gotten to my door when Nexus issued a priority alert. I ran back here and kicked in her door. This is how we found everything. Apparently her AI had taken some damage and was no longer reading her.”
“Confirmed.” Nexus replied. “However, I’m reading that her AI is still in the room.”
“I am…” A statiticy voice cut in from behind.
Bobby immediately turned around to see Taryn’s damaged armband lying next to her closet. Officer Lenn knelt down and picked up the band, “AI, identify yourself.”
“AI Sentinel, IP address 465.33.969.29.”
“Can you tell me what happened?”
Sentinel’s holographic project did it’s best to project his figure, “It’s as Bobby said. Almost immediately after he left, an elf appeared in this room from behind some kind of cloak that concealed him even from my sight.”
“An elf?” Lisa asked.
“Affirmative. Its body type registered as an elf. It is unlikely that the man was a half breed… though his body temperature did read shockingly low.”
Bobby looked at it oddly, “But weren’t elven body temperatures naturally lower than humans?”
“Not this low.”
Bobby shook his head, “I never should have left her alone…”
Sentinel flickered as he spoke, “It is unlikely that you could have overpowered him. Judging by his muscle mass, you would have been outclassed.”
Bobby shook his head, “Still…”
The officer looked at them both, “All right, this is officially a crime scene. We’re going to have to ask you both to vacate while we wait for the city forensics department to get here. We have your AI, we’ll call if we need any more info.”
Bobby nodded, “All right.”
He headed for the front door, intent on going back to his room to figure out the next move. Nexus remained in holographic form and watched Bobby.
Lisa ran back to her room and quickly stripped off her PJs. She grabbed a pair of jean shorts and a tshirt and ran back out. She managed to catch Bobby at the bottom steps before he made his way back, “You’re going after Taryn, aren’t you?”
“This is my fault.”
“You know that’s not true.”
“She could be in trouble or worse… dead.”
Lisa shook his head, “I know Taryn, better than you. She’s stronger than you give her credit.”
“I hate to interupt,” Nexus cut in, “but you have no idea where to start looking. You don’t know where that elf took her.”
Bobby sighed, “That’s true… I don’t know what to do.”
Lisa raised her own armband, “Mac, respond.”
The screen came on and a pink little girl appeared, “Mac standing by.”
“Have you been monitoring our conversation?”
“Put me through to Merrin’s AI. I need to speak to him.”
A few moments went by. Mac continued to process the request. Finally a small square screen with Merrin’s face appeared on it, “What the hell, Lisa, what do you want?”
Lisa sighed, “Taryn’s been kidnapped.”
Merrin’s eyes widened, “What?”
“Meet me out in front of Leslie House. I fill you in.”
Merrin nodded, “All right. I’m on my way.
As Lisa finished up the call, the roar of an engine behind them made Bobby jump. The doors to the shed next to Leslie House burst open. To both of their surprises, Glide came rolling out on its own.
The bike rolled up to Bobby and revved its engine. Bobby looked nervously at Lisa, “What the hell is going on?”
Lisa shrugged, “It looks like Taryn’s bike is alive somehow?”
“Maybe,” Lisa replied, “maybe not. Her great grandfather owned this bike, and she did say that he was the last enchanter. Is it possible that this was his doing?”
“Maybe…” Bobby said.
Glide gently pushed itself against Bobby’s legs before turning to its side. It revved its engine in insistance. Bobby looked at Lisa in confusion. Lisa smiled nervously, “I think it wants you to get on?”
Bobby looked back at the bike, “Flash your headlight if you know where Taryn is.”
The headlight immediately blinked in response and the bike revved its engine again.
“Did you see them go?”
Again, the light blinked. Bobby nodded, “Okay, I’m convinced.”
Lisa watched as he quickly mounted the bike, “I’ll fill Merrin in on what’s going on. I also have a few other contacts that may be of assistance. Keep your AI on, we’ll come find you.”
Bobby nodded, “You got it, see you in a bit.”
Bobby cautiously sat down and put his hands on the handle bars. He then looked down at the bike, “So… take me to her…”
Glide revved its engine and took off down the road at top speeds with Bobby holding on for dear life.
The moment they were gone, Lisa tapped her armband, “Mac, code 5412.”
“Acknowledged channel open.”
Lisa waited a moment before speaking, “I think you’ll want to hear this sir.”
Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.
I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.
Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:
Catch you on the flip side!