The dark figure held onto Taryn tightly as he ran through the woods. Using impressive speed, he had gotten as far as Saugus before he had to rest. He found a small clearing in the middle of the Breakheart Reservation and set Taryn down.
Upon touching the soft ground, Taryn began to rouse. There was a small crackling noise and an orange hue in front of her. Someone had built a fire. Her eyes blinked a few times, “Ugh… Sentinel… where am I? What time is it.”
She got no response.
She looked down at her wrist to see that her armband was gone. Then she remembered what had happened. Her eyes shot open and she quickly sat up. Sitting next to her, was the man with dark hair and yellow eyes that she’d seen earlier, “Oh good, you’re awake.”
Taryn pushed herself back, away from the flame, but was still to groggy to stand, “You… who are you? What do you want?”
The dark figure looked at her calmly, “I have what I want, though I didn’t think that the last descendant of the only enchanter in modern memory would have been so easy to take down. I have to admit, I’m disappointed.”
“In case you haven’t noticed, I’m part elf. I couldn’t use magic, even if it still existed!”
“Still existed?” The man asked.
Taryn nodded, “You have no clue what I’m talking about, do you? A terrorist group retrieved the shattered Lux Mundi and attempted to restore it. My great grandfather stopped them.”
“He used his echantments to launch the thing into the sun, destroying it once and for all.”
The man sat back, “That explains so much…”
Taryn’s eyes narrowed as she looked at him, “Are you…?”
A look of intrigue came over Taryn’s face, “Are their many of you?”
“Over a hundred thousand living in an old dwarven city.”
“Is that where you’re taking me?”
The man sighed, “We need your help. Whatever your ancestor did, is destroying our city.”
“I’m sorry to hear that, but what can I do?”
The man smiled, “You don’t know that value of the blood that courses through your veins do you?”
“No…” Taryn replied suspiciously.
The man stood up, “Just a few drops could save my people. Just a few drops could put a hex on the pillars of our world and keep it safe. “
Taryn turned over and got to her knees, “Why didn’t you just ask me for help?”
“Too great a risk that you would have said no.”
Taryn shook her head, “What’s your name?”
“Irain… well I’m…”
“I know who you are.”
Taryn’s lips twisted into a scowl, “Well excuse me!”
As they sat by the fire, Taryn’s lips twisted into a satasfied smile. Irian looked at her oddly as though he’d never seen one before, “Why do you look so happy?”
“Elves are supposed to be extinct. The thought that some still exist… it’s nice to know that my people will live on.”
“They are not your people.” Irian said in an almost accusing tone. “You are less than half elf. Your people are the round-ears who live up here on the surface.”
A cold expression came over Taryn’s face, “I really don’t care what you think, and I don’t care for your tone. At this point, there aren’t any elves left that are known about. Even half-elves are dwindling in number. Most people are a quarter or less. That I’m about 40% is about as close to a full elf as anyone.”
Irian remained completely still and didn’t say anything.
“Fine, well then I guess you don’t want my help. You obviously view me as some sub-standard creature, given your tone, so I don’t see why I should stick around.”
Taryn began to move her legs to get up. At that moment, Irian sprang to life, “Wait… okay, you’re right, I’m sorry. It’s bad enough I kidnapped you. Please forgive my attitude, it’s just hard to hear that my species has been almost completely wiped out.”
Taryn sat back down and stared at the flame as Irian moved around uncomfortably, “So you’ll help us?”
“I guess, but why do you want to continue living there? Why not come back to the surface?”
Irian shook his head, “We’ve seen how our bretheren were treated, we recieved reports of how they were abused by both human and dwarven people.”
“We came to the surface now and then through ancient tunnels that were left to us by the dwarves. We had thought about coming back to the surface, but changed our minds pretty quickly.”
Irian looked up at the stars as the small fire died, “Come, we have a long way to go.”
The pungeant smell of the Aquarium Station on the Blue line subway hit Lisa in the face as the doors slip open. She didn’t like travelling via subway, it was beneath a person of her status, but at this moment, she had no other choice. She needed to get to Long Warf quickly if there was any hope for Taryn.
Merrin followed closely behind her as they disembarked. He beamed as he admired the handy work, “Incredible, isn’t it?”
Merrin pointed, “The humans built this whole system without dwarven help. It’s amazing how a species that largely prefers surface life would be prompted to build such structures.”
“Well when you run out of space on the surface…”
“Why not build a large monorail then, or something that elevates the city? Why burrow into the ground?”
Lisa shrugged, “I guess it was more cost-effective and safe?”
“Exactly.” Merrin replied. “This system would long outlast any surface transportation.”
Lisa’s eyes narrowed, “Wait, I thought dwarves did assist with building the Boston’s transit system.”
“We helped modernize the stations and add to them, but most were built before most humans even knew that we existed.”
He pointed to the curvature of the ceiling, “See? We helped reinforce the infrastructure so that it was even stronger than before. In theory, it should be able to survive a nuclear blast. Look at the…”
“As stimulating as I find this lesson in historical engineering, I really just want to get out of here. This station wreaks and is filthy.”
Merrin sighed, “All right, all right.”
Lisa moved through the turnstyle and ran up the stairs to the glass enclosure which exited onto the street. Merrin had to run in order to keep up. Wow… she can really move fast if she doesn’t like something!
The pair exited the station onto State Street and proceeded down the old brick road. To their left was the massive Marriott Long Warf Hotel. Merrin had wanted to stay there and wondered what it was like. Lisa had spent many a night there going to parties on the upper floors.
During the day, the area would have been crowded, especially during the summer. Boston pedal cabs would have been running through the streets, people would have been in line to either charter cruises or go to one of the many exhibits at the New England Aquarium.
Even in the dark, Lisa could see the blue and white emblem that represented the Aquarium to her right. She loved it out there, but this was no time for a trip down memory lane. One of their friends was in trouble and they had to hurry.
The sound of the water and large hydrofoils bumping against the dock became louder in their ears as Lisa and Merrin picked up their pace. They made their way past the old Chart House and out into the open. Brick turned to stone and benches appeared in front of them surrounding a small man-made park.
The park was completely surrounded by large black chains connected by bollards of the same color that would have been too heavy for any one person to move. The park was illuminated with street lamps and the lights of the city. The occasional evening cruise hydrofoil would pass by, but the place was otherwise deserted.
Merrin’s eyes darted around nervously, “Lisa, what the heck are we doing out here? This ain’t the time for a sight seeing tour. I’ll be happy to come back here with you another time, but right now our friend is missing!”
“Don’t shush me!”
“Fine, shut up.”
Merrin crossed his arms and closed his mouth. If anything happened to Taryn, he was going to tear Lisa a new one. It was an uncomfortable silence as Lisa leaned on one of the bollards. It was clear that she was waiting for something –or someone –and Merrin wasn’t certain he wanted to know who.
A few more moments passed and Merrin was getting irritate, “Lisa, what are you waiting for? We neeed to get back and help Bobby find Taryn, this is ridiculous!”
“You sent for me?”
Merrrin was spooked. He whirled around to see a man dressed in a dark black cloak behind him. The cloak looked as though it were a part of some sort of ceremonial robe from long ago. The man had dark brown hair and looked as though he were in his mid to late 50s. He seemed very familiar, but Merrin could quite pinpoint who it was.
Lisa nodded, “Yes, forgive abruptness, but I needed to talk to you.”
“I thought you told your parents that you didn’t want anything to do with us. You said our organization had a bad history.”
“You do.” Lisa replied. “I don’t know how you managed to survive or why you would want to rebuild an order that was founded by evil people, but that’s not my problem.”
“Then what is?” The man asked intently.
“My friend Taryn… she’s been abducted.”
Merrin watched as the man’s facial features turned to a look of interest, “Taryn… as in Taryn Arrigan, the only descendant of the last enchanter?”
Lisa nodded as Merrin’s eyes narrowed. He’d listened to Taryn tell stories of her ancestors, but never believed them, “The last enchanter? That’s just a fairy tale that Taryn’s parents told her. It’s not true…”
The man looked at him oddly, “Who is this?”
Lisa smiled, “A mutual friend of mine and Taryn’s. He’s blunt, but his heart is in the right place, and he’s here to help.”
Lisa then turned to the dwarf, “Merrin, meet Michael O’Neil, Senator Michael O’Neil.”
Merrin’s eyes widened as he looked at the senator, “Oh wow… Lisa has some pretty high friends.”
Senator O’Neil nodded, “A pleasure, Merrin.”
With the pleasantries out of the way, the senator turned back to Lisa, “So she was kidnapped, any idea by whom?”
“That’s why I called you… I thought you’d be interested.”
Lisa sighed as she spoke, “Taryn’s said that she’s been having nightmares about a man… an elf with glowing eyes and long flowing hair. Now she mysteriously disappears from her room and the last person to see her claims that she was alone and the door was locked. Sound odd?”
“Very odd indeed.” Senator O’Neil replied thoughtfully. “So you think I know who this… elf is?”
“Elves are supposed to be extinct. Their reservations have been long-since deserted, memorials to what the world lost.”
The senator thought quietly for a moment before speaking, “And you’re certain that this isn’t some half-elf punk?”
“Taryn was sure.”
“How do you know.”
Merrin frowned, “She told us that she was certain. She may be less than half an elf, but she somehow always seems to know things. If she said that he was a full elf, you can believe that he was.”
The senator nodded, “No doubt… and you believe that this person is her stalker?”
“It seems quite the coincidence that she starts having these dreams, senses someone following her, and then ends up being abducted.” Lisa replied.
“Very true… I don’t believe in coincidences…”
The senator looked at Lisa and then at Merrin. It looked like he was deep in thought about something. He was hiding something, Lisa was certain of it. If he even tried to deny it, she would let him have an earful.
After another long silence, the senator spoke again, “There may be a possibility…”
“Oh?” Lisa asked.
“Some of our old contacts in the elven clans of old told us of rumors about elves hiding in underground cities in the New World. If the rumors are true, then they’ve been kept hidden for hundreds of years.”
Merrin rolled his eyes, “I’ve heard these stories before. Underground cities here in America have never been located. They don’t exist.”
“Don’t exist,” Lisa repeated, “or perhaps hidden from human eyes… I seem to recall from history that the elves were very particular as to where their reservations were. The one up in New Hampshire was of particular interest as the elves fought tooth and nail for that specific site and wouldn’t settle for anything else.”
She looked at Senator O’Neil inquisitively, “Could that be why they wanted that particular piece of land so badly?”
“I don’t know. I suppose it would explain a lot. The elves never provided the U.S. Government a reason as to why they wanted that land so badly.”
“Too bad that won’t help us.” Merrin replied. “The reservation has been all but deserted since the elves died out. A few half breeds still hang out there when they need a place to stay, but last I heard the land has been all but abandoned.”
“So it looks like we’re off to the reservation in Milan, New Hampshire.”
The senator nodded, “That would be a good place to start.”
Lisa turned to Merrin, “Come on, let’s get back to the station and get my car out of the garage. We’ve got a long ride head of us.”
Merrin rolled his eyes as he turned back toward the city. As the two began walking, Senator O’Neil called after Lisa, “You know…”
Lisa closed her eyes and turned back, “What?”
“We did you a favor.”
“So… remember that. As a rule, we don’t do people favors. We may need you to return it at some point.”
Lisa turned away without saying another word and walked away. Merring followed closely behind her, “What was that about?”
“Don’t worry about it,” was all Lisa would say.
Glide carried Bobby up Route 16 to the Mount Washington Auto Road. Bobby held on for dear life as the wheels began to glow and the bike shot into the air, “What the hell?”
“Nexus, are you seeing this?”
The band lit up and Nexus’ face appeared in front of him, “Yes, but if you’re looking for an explanation, I have none to give you. There is an energy source at work here like nothing I have ever seen before.”
“Can you record it?”
“Query; what for?”
“I get the feeling that this won’t be the last time we come across it.”
“Acknowledged, scanning energy source and recording the readings.”
Bobby nodded, “Alert me if you detect them in the future.”
Bobby watched Glide carry him over the trees until they reached a small clearing that appeared to never have been touched by man. The bike set down on the smoothest area it could. The landing was rocky, but niether Bobby nor Glide took any damage.
Bobby hopped off and back away a few feet. He looked at the bike oddly as it revved its engine. It flicked on its headlight, which illuminated a cave directly in its path.
Bobby looked carefully at the cave, “Is that where Taryn was taken?”
“How could this old bike possibly know that?”
Bobby’s armband came alive in response and Nexus appeared in front of him once again, “Theory; perhaps this bike was enchanted by Taryn’s ancestor. Perhaps now that bike can sense where its family members are.”
“That’s a tad far fetched, don’t you think?”
“Query; after riding on a bike that has the ability to drive on its own, communicate with people, and fly, the idea that it could have the ability to track its owner is too much for you to believe?”
Bobby sighed, “All right… good point…”
The bike revved its engine again, causing Bobby to turn his attention back to it, “Is that where they are?”
The bike reared up on its back wheel and then lowered itself back down. Nexus’s Avatar smiled, “I believe that was a yes.”
Bobby turned and looked at the cave. It was a narrow opening, not big enough for the bike, but Bobby thought he could squeeze through. He sighed and turned back to the bike, “All right, I’ll take it from here. Come get us if you sense that she’s on the move above the ground…”
As the bike turned and disappeared into the trees, Bobby shook his head, “I hope it understood.”
Nexus also watched the bike leave, “It seems likely that it did.”
Bobby squeezed into the hole, feet first. He didn’t know what to expect. Would he have to crawl through this cave or would it open up. To his releif, after getting through the entrance, not only did it open up, the inside appeared to have been man-made. The walls were smoothed out and the floor resembled cobblestones. Odd symbols and murals had been carved into the walls.
In front of Bobby was a pitch black maw. The moment he stepped away from the narrow entrance into the hallway, he was engulfed in almost total darkness, “Nexus, light.”
A light as bright as the one on Glide shot out of the armband undernieth Nexus’s Avatar. Bobby studied the odd carvings on the wall, “What are these? Nexus, do you recognize this language?”
Nexus appeared to be deep in thought, “Processing… comparing these symbols to the linguistics database. Identifying…”
Bobby waited patiently for Nexus to respond. He thankfully didn’t have to wait long, “These writings are similar to the ancient texts believed to be from the language of the Alliance. These symbols have yet to be translated. No further information is available.”
“Nexus, do you think that this cave was built by dwarves?”
“The rock carving patterns are consistent with other ancient dwarven designs.”
“How old are these?”
“The exact date is difficult to identify without a more sophisticated analysis, however the carvings appear to predate known history. They are several thousand years old.”
“Could these dwarves have come to the New World with the American Natives that came over the Siberian-Alaskan landbridge?”
“There is sufficient evidence to corroborate that hypothesis. However, there is no historical data.”
“Which just means that they were good at covering their tracks.”
Bobby began walking as he talked to Nexus, “Scan the cave, how far does it go.”
“Scanning… it is difficult to get an exact reading, however it does appear to go on for at least ten miles.”
Bobby sighed, “Great… better get walking.”
Hours went by as Bobby walked through the dark cave. Nexus’s light was barely giving him any direction, but he had to make do. He had gone too far to try to turn back now. His legs ached and felt like they had been overstretched. They wouldn’t let him go on much further without rest.
Bobby sighed as his legs collapsed out from under him and he sat against one of the cave’s walls. Nexus appeared in front of him, “Are you injured, Robert?”
“No, just tired out… and haven’t I asked you to call me Bob or Bobby?”
“Affirmative, you have.”
“Oh okay, just checking.”
Bobby looked further down the corridor, but darkness was all he saw, “Nexus, how much further?”
Nexus processed the request and attempted to scan the corridor again, “Judging by your pace, the length of your stride, and the time it normally takes you to walk a mile, you should have covered almost nine miles by now.”
Bobby rolled his eyes, “You told me that this was ten miles! Shouldn’t the end be in sight?”
“Correction: I said at least ten miles and that was an educated guess based on what information we have on dwarves tunnels and the composition of the areas ahead.”
“Great… so this could be another ten miles.”
“Unlikely, but possible.”
“How long is the longest recorded tunnel in one of these underground cities?”
Nexus shook her head, “I’m sorry, but I have lost my connection to my datalink. We must be fairly deep beneath the ground now. I can’t access that information.”
At that moment, a dark figure appeared out of the wall next to Bobby. It appeared that the figure was wearing a dark gray cloak that blended into the wall making him hard to see in the dark, “What are you doing here?”
Nexus went wild, “Proximity alert!”
Bobby shot to his feet, “No shit – I’m here looking for my friend. One of your people took her!”
The figure looked him over from under its hood. All Bobby could see was a pair of burning orange eyes. The hood completely blocked out all other features, “You will come with me, or you will die.”
“Where is she?”
The figure drew a blade and held it to his throat, “Now!”
“Suggestion: I think it would be best to do as he says, Bobby.”
“Thank you Nexus, I would agree with that…”
Bobby nodded to the figure, signaling that he would come along quietly, “Okay, let’s go…”
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