My name is Christopher Denton Junior, my father was usually called Kit and everybody calls me that as well. I have blond hair and green eyes and I'm averaged size for my age, which is eleven years old. I never knew my parents, at least not consciously, though I have dreams of a pretty lady rocking me to sleep. They died in an automobile accident when I was 18 months old.
I've lived with my aunt and uncle since then. They're almost twenty years older than my parents were, in their early fifties when the accident happened. They were pretty well set in their ways by the time they took me in and certainly didn't welcome me with open arms. They're wealthy enough that they could afford to hire Nannies to look after me.
I know some Nannies can become almost like family members, but I seem to be unlucky. None of the Nannies who looked after me ever stayed around for more that six months at the most.
Since they went in and out of my life like a revolving door, I've never tried to make friends with any of them.
I also tended to be a geek. I always get the highest grades in my class, sometimes in the whole school, so I wasn't very popular.
I wasn't bullied, though you might think I was a prime candidate. That's because of my temper. You know you read in fantasy and history stories about berserkers. Most people have a hard time visualizing them. I don't. That's because I'm a berserker myself.
I'm quite willing to defend myself, against all comers, but I'm usually circumspect when it comes to two or three on one odds. But you don't want to push me too far, because when my anger boils over, I dont care about odds, I don't care about anything but getting to the one or ones I'm after.
I don't care about being hurt, I could have a broken arm and it wouldn't stop me. I seem to be much stronger when I go berserk though I don't know if that's an illusion or if I really am stronger.
that's the case the bullies stay away from me.
As I said this story starts when I was eleven years old. Exactly eleven years old by the way. It was August 21, 2009, which was my eleventh birthday.
I'd been going to camp every summer since I was five, though for some reason never the same one twice. I giggle whenever I think about the camp I went to when I was eight. It was a nudist camp and part of it was a summer camp for kids. I don't know if my Aunt and Uncle ever knew what that one really was. Probably not, they were pretty straight-laced, going around naked would be something they would think was not very nice. They probably just Googled it and then picked the first one on the list, without bothering to read the description Google provides.
Two years ago it had been a gymnastics camp and I got pretty good, though I've never gone out for organized sports so that summer was it for gymnastics. Last year it had been a riding camp and I seemed to be a natural at it. Of course this summer I was sent to a regular camp, the Josh Potter Summer Camp for Boys, which is on Lake Ontario.
Since I'd passed all of the swimming tests with ease, I was out on the lake on my rubber raft. It's the same red color as my swimsuit, which unlike most of the boys who attend the camp is a brief Speedo. I simply don't like the feel of a long swimsuit on my legs, so a Speedo suits me better. Besides it's as close to swimming naked as I could get.
I had been unable to sleep the night before so I decided to take a nap. You probably think I was dumb to do that while floating on a lake, but I figured I was completely safe. There were always two lifeguards on duty during the free swim time. Also there was a rope and buoys, cordoning off the swimming area from the main part of the lake, so I should have been safe and sound.
I didn't anticipate the dining hall blowing up. One of the propane stoves sprang a leak and as I said it blew up which started a major fire, drawing everybody's attention. They all went running for the dining hall, including the lifeguards.
The second and third things that happened was a bit of wind kicked up and one of the rope anchors on the buoys broke. I guess I wasn't having a very good day because everything that could go wrong was going wrong.
With nobody paying attention to the swimming area and the rope and buoys' not attached floating into the lake and the wind, my raft with me sleeping on it was blown out onto the main area of the lake.
That was dangerous of course, but I didn't wake up until something even more fantastic happened to me. I abruptly fell a few feet onto a very hard ground. I yelped when I hit the ground and was abruptly wide awake.
Luckily the inflated rubber raft had taken most of the impact but I was bounced off of the raft onto the needle covered ground, onto my back.
I was somewhat disoriented as you would imagine and it took me a few seconds to realize I was no longer on water but on hard ground.
I pushed myself to a seated position with bewilderment. I could see I was in a forest and the sky that I could make out through the branches of the trees though blue had a very real tinge of orange in it.
I pushed myself to my feet. Luckily I had been going without shoes at the camp, for most of the summer, so bare feet weren't going to cause me any concern. I didn't know where I was but I knew I wasn't on Earth anymore.
By chance it seemed that it was this world's summer, so that the fact that I was only wearing a bathing suit didn't matter. I could have landed in the wintertime and I knew I wouldn't have lived very long in that case. As I found out later this WAS their winter or at least it was the rainy season, the fact that it wasn't raining or at least overcast today was somewhat unusual.
I scratched my head wondering in which direction I should go. I had a pretty good sense of direction and I knew which way was north. Well I knew which way was north on Earth. I hoped it would be the same on this world.
I shrugged my bare shoulders and decided to leave it to chance. I had a small pocket in my bathing suit for my locker key at the country club at home. I took the key out and flipped it into the air, intending to go in the direction it landed.
In fact it landed facing north, so north it was. I put the key back in its little pocket and deflated the raft. It was the only thing from Earth that I had aside from the my bathing suit and I didn't intend to leave it behind. Besides it might be useful if I had to cross water.
I had accidently made the right choice it seemed. I had gone barely two hundred yards, before I came upon a narrow cart track. Obviously, it hadn't been used in a while, because there was grass growing even in the ruts, but at least it was a sign of people.
I began following it, as I realized ruefully that I was starting to get hungry and thirsty. After about a mile, I noticed some black berries on sosme bushes, at the side of the cart path. I stopped to look at them, wondering if they'd be safe to eat.
I shrugged knowing that I would have to take some chances and I started to reach out my hand to pick one and try it. Suddenly a blinding pain went through my fingers. I gave a sharp gasp and pulled back my hand. As I did so the pain faded.
I looked at my fingers and there didn't seem to be anything wrong with them, so I reached out again and the pain was back.
After half a dozen tries, trying both my left and right hands, the pain coming back every time my fingers approached the berries. Angry and bewildered, I finally gave up.
Picking up a small piece of wood I took a swipe at the berries before I began walking again. After about a half hour I came upon another berry bush. This time the berries were a bright blue.
Hesitant this time, because of what had happened with the last berries, I reached out for one of them. I jumped and pulled my hand back when my fingers tingled, then I realized that it was an entirely pleasant feeling.
Still, I was cautious as I reached for the berry again and again a pleasant tingle went through my fingers. I picked one of the berries and brought it to my mouth and crunched through it.
Yes crunched. It was an entirely pleasant taste, but it was less like a berry than like a nut, though it was certainly juicy enough.
Eagerly I began stripping off the berries and shoving them into my mouth. While they had a tinge of sweetness, that was all. After a couple of dozen I was no longer hungry or thirsty, my tummy pleasantly full. I wiped my hands on the seat of my trunks thinking.
I really wanted to take some of them with me. I suppose I could have taken off my swim suit and used that as a bag, but I might come upon people and I didn't want to be naked when that happened. Not that I particularly cared, as I mentioned, I had gone to a nudist camp three years ago. However, I didn't know what impression I might make on people if I was naked.
I looked around. Most of the trees were fir trees of some kind, but I spied one that looked much like a palm tree. A couple of the big leaves might do me for a bag and since the tree was growing at a good angle it would be easy to climb.
When I got the leaves down they were even better than I'd hoped. They acted almost like Glad Press'n Seal. They stuck to each other but not to the berries, so I was able to take a good amount with me.
After another hour of walking, I realized that I needed to think about stopping for the night. For one thing, my feet were starting to hurt. I might be used to bare feet but I'd never had to walk this far on them.
About the same time I began to get nervous, feeling that I was being watched. I began looking around anxiously but I couldn't see any problems so I shrugged it off. In the future, I would learn to pay attention to any warning signs.
I began to pass through a moderately sized clearing when a large canine appeared in front of me. It looked like a black wolf, but was somewhat bigger than the ones I had seen on TV. He was licking his chops, like dinner was on the table and I was dinner.
I looked around wildly, the nearest trees were about thirty yards away and I knew I had no chance of making it. I was a determined little cuss and I didn't intend to make it easy for this wolf or whatever it was to get me.
I spun around and began running for the nearest tree, dropping the raft and the berries, pumping my arms and legs frantically, yelling with fear. I was still about ten yards from the tree when I heard the wolf right behind me.
I took a hopeless leap knowing it was futile, but somehow it wasn't. With shock I realized that I had jumped ten yards horizontally and some yards vertically as I plunged into the trees branches. And almost back out of them, as I began to fall out of the tree. I grabbed a branch frantically, to prevent myself from falling back onto the dinner menu.
The wolf gave a howl of anger and disappointment, at his lost dinner, as I settled my bottom on a branch just wide enough to take it.
I wondered how long I'd be stuck up here in this tree, thinking maybe I'd be up here for hours or days. But the wolflike canine, who I later found out was called a Dunar, was one of the most impatient predators on this world. After about fifteen minutes he sneezed and then I watched him trot away.
I intended to come down immediately. I would stay here for a while and
when I climbed down I would stay pretty near the tree for a spell.
I was beginning to get a bit sleepy when I was brought to full alertness again, as two children and an adolescent girl came running into the clearing, looking back over their shoulders, with apprehension.
The children were both boys, easy to tell since they were naked and barefoot and I grinned at that despite the situation. Obviously my being naked wouldn't have been a problem. They were probably about seven or eight and were undoubtedly twins and the girl who was about seventeen or eighteen was wearing a green mid-thigh length tunic belted at the waist and sandals,. They all had straight black hair, the boys, cut much like mine was, sort of a bowl cut, the girl's was in a ponytail.
A man on a horse clattered into the clearing seconds after the boys and the girl. He had a vicious grin on his face. He reined in and said, "Got you now, Mellia. You might as well come quietly and maybe I'll make it easy on you.!"
The girl yelled, "You're a bastard Orthan and I wouldn't surrender to you if you were the last man alive." She shoved the boys away from her snapping, "Split up. He can't follow all of us at once."
As the boys darted away from her, Orthan snarled, knowing she was right, as he shouted, "But at least I'll get you Mellia."
My anger was beginning to build but he was an armed adult and I was a kid. I had no chance of doing anything so I pushed my anger down, as the girl began to run towards the tree I was in. She had no chance and she knew it, but like a mother bird, she was decoying him away from the two boys.
The horse quickly surged in front of her and wheeled to face her. She kept trying to dart into the forest but like a good cutting horse, the animal kept blocking her and Orthan began laughing.
I was outraged but knew I couldn't do anything, but then miraculously I could as the man was suddenly under the tree I was hiding in. He was about ten feet below me and my anger exploded out of my control. I didn't even feel the scrapes as the branches lashed my small almost bare body.
I seemed to be falling so slowly and I had plenty of time to pick where I was going to hit. My feet hit him on the side of the head. The feeling was glorious as I heard his neck break with an audible crack and then my momentum knocked him out of the saddle.
As I was going down after him, my right arm hooked over the pommel of his saddle, bringing me to a stop with a jerk of pain.
The girl darted forward and took me under the arms and lifted me to the ground, then caught up the reins of the horse before it could run off.
I said with wonder, "I'm from another world. How can I possibly understand your language."
She was soothing the horse and she told me absently, "I've read about visitors. They say there are many languages on the worlds they come from. This world only has one and the visitors could all speak it right from the beginning of their visit."
Mellia offered me the reins and said, "Here, hold the horse for me while I get the boys."
After I took the reins, she moved away from me and when she was tenn or fifteen yards away from us, she called the boys, "Tirth, Taven, it's all right to come back. Orthan's dead. Imagination."
astonished when she said the last word and I could see her grinning
as she came back to me. She said dryly, "It's a code word, I told
the boys that if we got split up, only to come back if I said, 'Imagination'."
and I nodded in understanding.
It didn't take them long to return to the clearing, three or four minutes. They came rushing up to the girl and hugged her hard with relief.
After hugging them back, she said to them solemnly, "We're not out of danger yet. We need to get away from here. At least the horse will make it easier." and they nodded.
She caught her lower lip between her teeth, thinking for a moment, then she said decisively, "We'd better have a look in Orthan's saddlebags to see if he has anything to eat first. I imagine we're all hungry." and we all nodded eagerly.
She said to one of the boys, "Here, Taven, you hold the horse for the moment while I look." and obediently, he took hold of the reins from me, though he looked at the big animal towering over him, with a bit of apprehension.
She opened one of the saddlebags and began taking out stuff and began handing them to me and the other boy. One of them was several lengths of rope. I had just taken a bag from her when pain flared through my fingers and I dropped it on the ground with a yelp.
She turned to me with surprise, asking, "What's wrong?"
I said worriedly, "I don't know but when I took the bag, pain went through my fingers. That happened earlier when I tried to pick some berries." With the pain gone and able to think, I exclaimed, "In fact it was exactly the same type of pain!!"
She looked thoughtful for a moment then she drew the knife from her belt and taking it by the blade she said, "Touch the hilt of the knife." and a bit baffled I did so but nothing happened.
She said, "Now try touching the blade." When I did so there an unpleasant tingling in my fingers, but quite bearable.
She pursed her lips and nodded, then told me, "Try touching the edge of the knife. Be careful it's quite sharp.
Hesitantly, I did as she bid me and abruptly pain flared in my fingers again and I jerked my hand away. But I was intrigued, the pain definitely felt different from the pain I had experienced with the berries and the bag. I moved my fingers back toward the edge slowly and this time the pain wasn't abrupt but began to rise gradually though swiftly. When I tried touching the point it was the same thing. I moved my hand out and then back several times examining the piece of information.
I looked up at her questioningly. She grinned at me, and reached out and ruffled my hair. At the same time she was serious when she said, "It appears that you have at least one magical talent. It seems to be a warning system. The berries you tried to pick were probably shenar. They probably wouldn't have killed you, because most people, get very ill, before they eat more than two or three and start throwing up. If somehow you managed to eat a dozen you would have died."
I went a bit green at the thought then I shrugged. I was a fatalist. Things I could do nothing about I accepted. I asked, "Why did it happen when I touched the bag, then?"
Mellia asked, "Do you have a name, young one?"
I nodded, saying, "Christopher Denton, though most people call me Kit."
She nodded back, saying, "I'm Mellia, and the twins are Tirth and Taven." then answered my question, pointing at the bag on the ground, the top of the bag dyed scarlet. "That's the type of bag used for shenar berries, Kit, after they've been boiled and concentrated. It's much more deadly in this form, yet at the same time small amounts are used in a lot of our medicines. Orthan was a hunter and trapper and he undoubtedly used it in his bait."
She grinned at me and said, "Obviously you're not going to be able to hold this bag." and she winked one of her gray eyes at me. She bent down to pick it up and handed it to the other boy, saying, "Here, Tirth you hold this."
After he took it, she went back to emptying the saddlebags. She didn't find any food in the right one but her face lit up with a grin as she took out large a large parcel wrapped in a cloth, from the left, saying triumphantly, "We eat." and all three of us boys cheered.
I pointed over at the berries I had dropped, saying, "Those berries seem pretty good for satisfying thirst." and she nodded.
She chewed on her lip for a moment, saying, "We need to do something about Orthan, but that'll wait until we eat."
Taking the reins from the other boy, Taven I guess it was, she led the horse over to my tree and tied him to a lower branch, leaving enough slack so that he was able to eat as well.
I went and got the berries and my raft bringing them over to the big rock she had chosen close to the tree. We sat on it and she opened the parcel on her lap. There were four things in the package that looked much like submarine sandwiches only the bread was wider. She gave one to each of us and we were busy for the next few minutes, stuffing our faces and eating berries.
was definitely beef, but the butter had a strange taste to it, not unpleasant
but unlike any I had ever had before.
We all finished at about the same time. Mellia wiped her hands on the cloth the food had been wrapped in then handed to me. I did the same and then, handed it to Taven. The two boys looked much alike but they weren't identical twins, Taven having gray eyes like Mellia and Tirth with blue eyes.
He passed the cloth to his brother Mellia asking me a question, waving over at the body or Orthan. "So Kit, you don't seem to be much affected at killing a man."
I asked hesitantly, "Do you know what a berserker is?" and she nodded. I told her, "Well I'm one and I was angry when I hit him. Perhaps it's not right, but I don't feel anything but joy when I hurt somebody when I'm berserk. I don't feel any guilt about what I did. I might regret it a little but that's the strongest negative emotion that I feel.
She shook her head, saying to me, "I don't think it's wrong, especially when it's someone like Orthan. He didn't really care about the boys, he was after me. Once he had me he would have killed me and then disappeared into the Badlands."
She frowned, saying, "Now if he'd been able to catch the boys, there probably would have been a nice reward in it, for him."
I asked in surprise, "Why would anybody want the boys. They aren't old enough to have done anything wrong."
She nodded her head, saying, still with a frown on her pretty face, "That's true Kit. However, there are two main religions on our world. Caronic and Mertanic. Mertan is one of the elder gods and has fallen out of favor in the last two hundred years. Many people don't like the fact that he's a bloodthirsty god who demands human sacrifices. It's said he even takes their souls to serve him for all eternity. That's why I didn't hesitate to have the boys and I split. No other death, no matter how bad it might be would be as bad as losing your soul. Only about ten percent of the people still worship him. Caron is a younger god, while no gentler than Mertan, he doesn't demand humans sacrifice but prefers animals."
She gestured towards Tirth and Taven, saying, "In Caronic, twins are considered good luck charms. It's totally opposite in Mertanic. Twins are considered bearers of ill omens. Under Mertan very few twins were allowed to grow to adulthood. My brother-in-law recently converted to Mertanic and like many new converts he's a fanatic about it."
"When several of his farms had bad harvests, instead of blaming it on the weather he blamed it on the twins. He decided he needed to sacrifice them to Mertan in order to reclaim his good fortune."
Mellia sighed and said, "Luckily, I was visiting my sister. I heard Rigan and several of the villagers planning to sacrifice Tirth and Taven to Mertan tomorrow night. I was able to get the boys up and out of the house, but unfortunately I wasn't able to get any horses. We've been on foot until now." Nodding at the horse that we now had.
I looked at the two boys and understandably they both had tears on their small faces, that their father was willing to do that to them.
Mellia looked at the boys with sympathy, but then with a sigh she pushed herself to her feet. She looked over at Orthan, saying with a frown, "We need to do something with Orthan. There's already enough predators in these forests who don't mind preying on humans, I don't want to give them a free lunch and give them ideas."
I offered, from my television watching experiences, "I've heard that if you put a stick in the ground and tie a cloth to it, predators get scared away."
and grinned at me, saying, "I've heard the same thing, Kit, so
maybe it's even true. We'll try it."
While Mellia didn't search Orthan she did take his sword and knife and the contents of his belt pouch. After all he wouldn't need the money any more and we might.
I took the sword she held out for me to hold. When I took it I was astonished at how light it was. I exclaimed, "I always though a sword would be heavy. This is as light as a feather." as I drew it from it's sheath.
She looked at me with surprise, saying, "Why it's as heavy as any other sword, heavier because Orthan liked a heavy blade."
But I forgot her as I swiveled to face the entrance to the clearing, nostrils flaring, biting my lip. I knew there was something wrong. There was what seemed like a pressure on my body coming from that direction. I had felt it for several minutes but suddenly it seemed much greater.
As two men burst into the clearing it became much worse. They were both big men, over six feet tall and bulky with it. Suddenly for some reason they seemed to be moving so, so very slowly, like when I had jumped down on Orthan. They both had clubs in their hand. One of them was about eight feet in front of the other.
I darted forward and the man in front, seeing it wasn't Tirth or Taven swung at me with the club. Somehow I knew just how to angle the sword blade I was holding, deflecting the club to the side. Using the momentum I gained from the club hitting my sword, I spun around moving my feet at the same time, so I ended up behind him, facing his back.
I snapped a kick to the back of his knee hitting it with the heel of my foot and his leg began to fold under him. I leaped forward, as he began to go down and I struck him just behind the ear with the pommel of my sword and he went down as if boned.
I knew the second man was right behind me now, I could feel him there. I flexed my knees going into a crouch. Pushing up with all of my might, I went into a back flip I had learned at gym camp two years ago, his club passing under me as I soared into the air.
I just intended to go high enough to avoid his club but as had happened when I jumped into the tree earlier I went much higher than I expected, a good ten feet in the air. I came down on the second man's shoulders my momentum driving him toward the ground. As he was going down I struck him behind the ear with the pommel of my sword as well and he went limp. I landed on my feet, my legs straddling his head.
The men dealt with, I just listened with my ears and something else. I relaxed as I knew there were no other people close to us.
I said, wonder in my mind, at what I had done, "I think we'd better get out of here. For some reason I know there's nobody close, but that could change in a hurry.
"Agreed," said Mellia darting to the horse.
I looked down at the two men. The first one I had hit had ended up on his side but the one I was standing over had landed on his face. Since I had gone to considerable trouble to make sure he stayed alive, I didn't want to take any chance that he might suffocate.
I stooped down to turn him over and I was able to do so, though it took some effort. I stood up looking down at him and noticed a clay amulet resting on his chest. It was white and rectangular about three inches long by an inch and a half wide and it had pictograms inscribed into it's surface.
Somehow I knew it was important and so bending over I intended to examine it more closely. I reached for it with my right hand and when my hand was still a foot or so away from the amulet, agony flared through my fingers. I yelped and pulled back my hand wishing my warning system could be a little more gentle.
I knew somehow that this was the most dangerous object I had ever seen. Instinctively I brought the pommel of the sword down on the amulet. It shattered and as it did so the whole thing imploded releasing a wave of black light. I shuddered as the light passed over me and then it was gone.
With determination I moved over to the other man and he was wearing an identical amulet. It reacted exactly like the other one had done. When the black light passed over me I shuddered again, but at the same time I felt a supreme satisfaction, knowing I had destroyed something incredibly evil.
Mellia shouted, "What in the Seven Hells was that."
I shook my head, telling her, "I don't know, but maybe your brother-in-law's conversion wasn't quite voluntary."
I shook my head with resignation, saying, "We need to wait here until these two wake up. We're got to know it the amulets were controlling them or not."
Mellia said decisively, "I agree. Despite the danger we need to stay until they've woken up. But I certainly don't intend to leave them loose so we need to tie them up."
Taking the pieces of rope that Orthan had had in his saddlebags we tied the two men up. Orthan didn't have any amulet, Mellia said he was just being his usual nasty self.
We decided to do something about him as well. We pulled him into the woods though it took some effort since he was a big man and then we gathered rocks to cover him. I think if Mellia wasnt worried about the animals getting him, she would have just left him. After that we sat on the rock and just waited.
The bigger one, the first one I had hit, woke up first though it took about twenty minutes after we finished burying Orthan. He groaned and then opened his eyes. He said, in a somewhat stifled voice, "What hit me?"
Despite the situation, Mellia had amusement in her voice as she said, nodding at me, "That would be my little friend here. Why were you chasing us Maytin, I thought you were a friend."
He said in astonishment, "Chasing you, Mistress Mellia? Why would I do that?"
Mellia said flatly, "You and others in the village were planning to sacrifice the twins to Mertan on the fourth of Wishun, tomorrow night."
He shook his head, exclaiming, "It's only the twentieth of Torth, tomorrow."
Mellia shook her head, telling him, "I assure you that it's the third of Wishun today. Right boys." And they added their heartfelt agreement.
"What's the last thing that you remember, Maytin?" she asked.
He hesitated, thinking, "Well, Demar, Mertan's priest was offering an amulet. He said it would bring good luck. While I don't hold with Mertan, I didn't think it could hurt, so I took it."
Mellia said solemnly, "Well obviously it was much more than a simple luck charm. It's been controlling you and the other villagers and it appears that you've lost two weeks of your life to it."
She looked at the two boys telling them, "If Maytin and Welkin were being controlled, obviously your father was being controlled as well." and they brightened.
She looked at me and asked, "What do you think, Kit. Do you think he's telling the truth."
I nodded, telling her, "I felt a pressure as they approached. I didn't know that it was part of my warning system at the time. Now I do and I felt the pressure disappear when I destroyed the amulets, telling me there is no longer any danger from those two."
She nodded, saying, "We'll wait until Welkin wakes up and see if he tells the same story, but I'm inclined to believe Maytin."
She gave a sigh, saying, "If something new has come along it's even more important now that we get to father.
I nodded agreement and when the second man, Welkin woke up a few minutes later his story was the same as Maytin's. He had been offered a good luck charm and had accepted it and become an involuntary worshipper of Mertan.
It took us most of the rest of the day to get to Mellia's father's castle. It was beginning to get dark as the horse clattered over the drawbridge into the keep of the castle the two villagers following easily behind. I groaned as I was lifted down by one of his soldiers. I had become a good rider the year before at riding camp, but I hadn't been on a horse in almost a year and my thighs and bottom were aching. The twins weren't in any better shape, worse probably. At least my bottom had been covered by my bathing suit. Since they were naked they didn't even have that protection.
But they managed a respectable speed towards a large impressive man coming out of the great hall, descending the half a dozen stairs yelling, "Grandda." He was about forty-five or so and massively built, from many years of martial arts. Like Mellia and the twins, his hair was black but his was liberally sprinkled with gray. His eyes were gray and he had a beak of a nose. Obviously this was Mellia's father. He scooped the twins up, one in each arm and walked over to where the rest of us were. Me, Mellia, Maytin and Welkin.
I think he knew there was trouble and he nodded at Mellia gravely, simply asking, "Problems, Mel?"
She handed the reins of the horse to a stable boy, nodding, saying, "Yes, Father." And as we started walking towards the great hall, being followed by the rest of us she began explaining what had happened, though we ended up seated at the high table in the hall before she was finished.
She had been intent on her story, now that she was finished, she looked over at me, saying, "I think Kit is a Sword Master father."
He nodded, "That's interesting and unusual. Why here and now?"
Mellia grinned, saying, "I prayed to Caron for help, though I didn't expect such a small hero to appear." and she winked at me.
Baron Davin looked at me and said, "I want to thank you, little one, for saving Mellia and the twins." and there was such sincerity in his voice, I could tell he meant it.
I nodded, saying, "I was glad I could help. But what's a Sword Master?" I asked with curiosity.
Mellia told me, "A Sword Master is the rarest of all magic users. In all of our history and it spans almost a thousand years, we know of only eleven. A Sword Master is a master of all weapons, including unarmed combat. He's as strong as he needs to be and in a battle is tireless, able to keep fighting long after any other warrior would collapse from sheer exhaustion."
While I was somewhat surprised, I could see it fitted. I'd always felt that I was much stronger when I got angry. Now I realized that I actually was. Perhaps in the past my anger had been needed to release my ability. Since I had been on this world where magic obviously existed, I didn't need to be angry to call on the ability of a Sword Master, I just needed to be in danger.
I looked at the Baron, saying, "I know that you're going to the twins village. Can I go along?"
He looked surprised, but then he grinned, as he said, "Do you think you can still sit on a horse, young Kit?"
I grinned back at him, saying a bit ruefully, "I went to a riding camp last year. I was pretty sore after the first day, but after three or four days it was gone. I just have to get used to riding again."
He laughed and said, "A Sword Master is always welcome Kit and as for your aches and pains, Margit our Healer probably has something, that will help you and Tirth and Taven.
She did, thankfully and after she slathered it on, the three of us were much relieved. After that Mellia took the twins to the bedroom they usually used when visiting the castle. They simply were too sleepy to be hungry, though they'd probably be ravenous when they woke up in the morning.
Once the twins were settled which didn't take very long since they were pretty tired and both of them were asleep almost instantly. I was pretty tired as well but I didn't feel ready to go to sleep yet.
Mellia took me to a storage area to get some clothing for me. She told me that both boys and girls went naked up to their eighth birthday, poorer children much longer but most kids my age of the higher classes wore clothing.
She informed me, that she had one older brother and an older sister. The sister of course was the twins mother. She also had two younger brothers, one twelve and one fourteen.
The two younger boys had plenty of outgrown clothing that would fit me. I ended up with three loincloths and three mid thigh length tunics, one light blue, one dark blue and one green like the one Mellia was wearing. The sword belt I had gotten from Orthan was the only belt I needed. I also ended up with a pair of sandals and a pair of leather boots for the ride tomorrow.
They didn't wear socks on Tirnaa, which is what this world was called, but the boots were lined with a soft inner lining so they were comfortable and they fit me like a glove. They were somewhat worn but still had plenty of wear left in them.
We were going on a trip tomorrow that could be dangerous, so Mellia took me to the armory next, so I could be outfitted with arms and armor. She already had her own arms and armor. There was several small chain mail armor shirts and gambesons that had accumulated over the years. And one of each of them fit me perfectly.
The padded gambeson would go on first and the mail shirt came next and it went down to my knees and was belted at the waist. It was covered with a white surcoat with Baron Davin's coat of arms. It also came down to the knees. Below that there were metal greaves which came up to the knees to protect the leg.
The mail shirt wasn't of steel. I don't know what type of metal it was but it was much lighter and at the same time stronger than steel. Not that I noticed, as when I had used Orthan's sword to me it was feather light. High status adults would wear full plate armor but obviously plate wasn't practical for children or adolescents who were still growing. Also it was very expensive, so lower class warriors generally wore mail or a brigandine.
I already had Orthan's sword and I liked it, but I got a stiletto as well as a couple of throwing knives. I'd never actually tried throwing a knife before. There was a wooden rectangle set on one wall, used to test throwing weapons. When I tried throwing the knives, the first one bounced off and hit the floor and Mellia and I giggled at that but the rest went exactly where I wanted them to.
Mellia gave me a bag to put the armor and gambeson in. Then she led me to the kitchen and got food for both of us. We ate on stools sitting in the kitchen, Mellia obviously was well liked and there was a lot of teasing between her and the kitchen staff. After that she took me to a bedroom, so that I could get some rest. I was tired but I didn't think I could sleep, I had so much to think about, but after I stripped down to my loincloth and got into bed I was asleep almost instantly.
Mellia woke me up early, it was just starting to get light out as I could see from my window. I had never had any problem getting up in the morning. I was a morning person and I woke up bright and cheerful. I had a wash at the washbasin in my room. In my opinion all I needed was a quick wash, but Mellia with a grin took the washcloth from me and gave me a more thorough wash, ignoring my glares and protests.
that she left me to get dressed. When I came out carrying the armor
bag there was a small page boy a couple of years younger than me, waiting
for me and he showed me where the water closet was. I used it and then
he led me downstairs to the great hall and out. He told me on the way
that the Baron was anxious to start and the party that was going would
eat once underway.
Once in the keep there were fifty or sixty people, not that all of them were going. There were thirty-five horses and eleven pack mules. One of the men came up to me and took my armor bag and carried it over to a pack mule which was already partly loaded. With my armor the pack mule's cargo was evenly balanced.
All of the men and Mellia were wearing brigandines for the journey. Me and the Baron's two sons just wore tunics. The others were used to carrying the extra weight. The Baron had full plate armor on one of the pack mules and the mules were carrying chain mail armor for all of the men, Mellia, the two boys and me.
The Baron was taking along twenty-five men, five foresters, his secretary, Mellia, me, and his two younger sons.
His older son and his heir, Turaan was staying behind to look after the castle. The Baron, Mellia and his three sons embraced each other, and then the Baron swung into the saddle.
The two villagers, Maytin, Welkin and the smaller boys, Tirth and Taven would follow by carriage about a day later.
One of the servants offered me his hands and when I put my foot in them, he lifted me into the saddle. I took up the reins and followed the Baron and we went clattering over the drawbridge.
I was right beside Mellia, and she handed me a package wrapped in cloth. I nodded and said, "Thank you." and took it. When I unwrapped it, as I expected it was my breakfast. A couple of the sandwich like breads we had had yesterday, also a small jar.
this time were obviously ham, with the same type of butter and there
was an almost mustard with a type of pickle relish, though it was a
much sharper taste than any pickle I had ever had before. The jar had
an apple cider, with a tartness and yet at the same time a sweetness
to it. All in all a satisfactory breakfast.
Despite the fact that we were going to war, or at least a battle, I felt cheerful, despite the darkness of the day. As I have mentioned this was Tirnaa's rainy season. Most days were rainy, but today like yesterday, the rain seemed to be holding off for some reason.
Well I did feel cheerful, until I began riding beside Martelle. It was obvious from the first that he didn't like me and he kept muttering comments which I only half-heard, but obviously they were offensive.
After a while I couldn't take it anymore, so wheeling my horse to the side of the road, I waited for a few minutes until Ritall came along. He was the Baron's twelve year old son. Of course he was closest to my age and he was only a couple of inches taller than me. He was a bright and cheerful boy, so I figured being in his presence would counteract Martelle.
I was right and I had almost forgotten Martelle, when we stopped to eat for lunch and relax for a few minutes. I bumped into Martelle, literally. I'm pretty sure he did it deliberately.
He exclaimed, "Why, you little bastard!" and he reached out for me. As had happened before, suddenly he seemed to moving so slowly. I didn't know exactly what he intended to do, but a fierce shaking was probably on his mind.
I swayed to one side to avoid his reaching hand and brought my left hand up, grasping his wrist, my right hand took him under the elbow and smoothly I turned and threw him over my shoulder as if I had done it a thousand times.
He landed hard on his back, with a whoop of expelled air. I was angry and I intended to add to his woes. I went into a front flip and I landed on his stomach, rump first and what remained of his breath whooshed out. Not that he had much time to regret his lost breath, as I brought my elbow around hard, catching him on the point of the jaw and he went out like a light.
I pushed myself to my feet and said in a hard tone of voice, "Anyone else?" as I could see most of them grinning and nodding with approval and I relaxed.
see Ritall and Emaar the Baron's two sons looking at me with awe and
they came over and sat with me as we ate a quick lunch. I must confess
I basked in their admiration. As I mentioned earlier I had never really
had a family life and nobody had ever admired me before and it felt
We stopped again at about two in the afternoon. Coltar, the twins village was about ten miles away. It was time to put on armor, just in case we might get ambushed as we got closer.
Once armored up we were on our way again, much more cautiously now. After about an hour or travel I could feel a pressure begin to build and I realized that there was danger ahead.
I booted my horse and trotted up to where the Baron and Mellia were riding. I settled in beside the Baron and said, "Lord Davin, I can feel something ahead, I think there's an ambush like you thought there might be."
He looked at me and asked, "Do you have any idea how far, Kit?"
I thought about that for a moment. A warming system wouldn't be any good unless it could tell how close the danger was. I was sure as I said confidently, "About a mile, My Lord." Then I shook my head, "No it's not an ambush, there are only four or five men, just lookouts I guess
He held up his hand, to halt the column and putting the whistle hanging around his neck to his lips and blew two shrill blasts. The foresters who were out ahead of us, turned and looked at us and he waved them in.
We all dismounted to wait for them. I got undressed as they were coming in. I stripped down to my loincloth and bare feet then put the sword and the knives back on. I intended to go with the forester's.
The Baron looked at me and raised his eyebrows, asking me in his deep voice, "Obviously you intend to go along with them, Kit. Can you move silently in the woods?"
and told him, "I've been going to summer camps for a long time.
The one I've been at this summer is owned by a man who is part Native
American. His father taught him how to move in the woods and thats
one of the thing that he teaches to the kids. I really enjoyed it and
got good at it." I nodded at the forester's who were just coming
up, saying, "I'm probably not as good as them, but I'm pretty good."
And I was, also I had a bit of advantage with my light weight and bare feet. We moved swiftly though the forest circling the lookouts to come up behind them. There were five men and they weren't very alert, they had bottles which they were passing around and they were pretty well pissed.
As drunk as they were we didn't really have to be all that cautious as we crept out of our hiding place and we were almost to them before they were even aware we were there.
One of them looked up as we got within five feet of them, though one was much further away. He glanced over his shoulders and shouted out in alarm. We had been told by the Baron to take them alive if at all possible. After all, if they were being controlled, they could hardly help what they were doing.
As the alarm was given I darted forward. The man who had shouted was moving to get to his feet, but as usual he was moving so slowly that he hadn't quite gained his feet when I was on him. The piece of wood that I had picked up from the forest bed would have made an ideal quarterstaff, straight and true.
I brought it around, striking the man on the temple and as he was going down I brought it around and struck the second man behind the ear as he was still in a crouched position.
Two down, three to go. I left two of them to the foresters and I took the last one. He was about ten yards away and was looking frantically around for some way to escape. Hefting the quarterstaff I threw it like a spear and it caught the man in the stomach his breath whooshing out of him as he bent double, the wood falling to the ground.
Dashing forward before he could recover my sword flashing out of its sheath. I struck him behind the ear with the pommel, ending his misery, as he fell to the ground unconscious.
Looking around I saw that the last two were also on the ground. Gimar the head of the foresters said with a grin, "Now that I think was unfair. You hogged three of them and we only got two."
I nodded and said fake seriously, "Fair is fair. I tell you what we can do. We can sit over there and wait for the them to wake up and we can do it all over again. I'll let you have three of them this time."
He grinned again, shaking his head, "I'm satisfied, young Kit." More seriously he directed his men to, "Tie them up and make sure you don't touch those amulets." And his men quickly obeyed.
After that was done he sent one of his men back to bring up the Baron and the rest of our group. Baron Davin looked down at the unconscious men. He turned to me and asked, "You said you just hit the amulets, Kit?"
I nodded, telling him, "Yes, My Lord. They just seemed to disappear when I did that. Though something happened. I could feel it."
He shook his head, pursing his lips, then said, "I wish we could destroy them out of hand, but there's no way of knowing if destroying them would give some kind of warning. We'll have to leave them intact for the moment taking the men with us, making sure they can't cause any trouble."
With all of us in chain mail armor, most of the pack mules weren't being used at the moment so the men were fastened to the mules and we were on our way again.
We went vigilantly, after all, though the men had been lookouts it didn't mean we wouldn't run into an ambush up ahead. Care turned out not to be needed. As we arrived at the village it was deserted.
We rode right up to Rigan Dumal's house, though watchfully still. The foresters darted inside to check it out and soon returned with the news that it was empty.
Mellia stood up in her stirrups and looked toward the hill behind the village. On one side was a grand temple to Caron and on the other a somewhat less impressive temple to Mertan.
Sitting back in her saddle, she said decisively, "They're at Mertan's temple." She just knew that's were they were and she seemed so positive that none of us doubted her.
We dismounted and headed up toward the temple. Again, warily, but we found no ambush. The Baron and Mellia and me were in the lead when we pushed though the open doors of the temple.
The people were found. They were all in the temple standing along the walls their eyes toward the altar were a wild eyed man was about to sacrifice a woman. Beside him was a man dressed in the robes of a priest. He had an evil smirk of satisfaction on his face.
The woman was the only one in the temple who wasn't wearing an amulet and her eyes were wide with fear. As much alike as the Baron, Mellia and this woman was she must be related. This was Baron Davin's older daughter, Dismay.
Baron Davin shouted, "Rigan, stop!!! Think what you're doing!!!"
Rigan jerked to stare at the Baron over his shoulder and then he dragged the woman to her feet and pulled her in front of him. One second she was a sacrifice, the next she was a hostage.
He snarled at his father-in-law, growling, "Don't come any closer Davin, or I'll kill her."
Davin said, logically, "A moment ago you were going to sacrifice her. What makes you think I'd believe that you're going to let her go in any case?"
Rigan looked a little foolish and then snarled again and pulled his wife closer, obviously not knowing what to do.
Behind the altar partly obscured by Rigan's head I could see a white clay tablet, hanging on the wall. Except in size, being two feet long by about a foot wide, it was identical to the amulets that Rigan and all of the people in the temple aside from us, were wearing.
Focusing on it I could feel the danger it was casting even from here, twenty feet away from it. I speculated, 'If I destroy the master will that destroy the slaves as well.'
I coughed deliberatedly and that brought Rigan's eyes to me. As he looked at me I slowly moved a couple of feet to one side, then stopped. The new position gave me a better angle at the plaque. As soon as I stopped moving Rigan's eyes went back to his father-in-law. After all he didn't know what I was. He could see that I was just a little boy and I didn't look very dangerous.
Giving a shake of my left wrist, the one furthest from him, the throwing knife up the sleeve of the mailshirt slipped down into my hand. With an underhand flip of my hand I threw the knife at the plaque. As I said I had a little more angle to work with in this position. Though my heart was in my throat, the pommel of the knife hit the clay plaque as I intended and it just shattered.
The reaction as it struck was similar to the amulets but was much more intense, as a seering black washed over me and everyone. It was just on the edge of pain, but not quite. At the same time I heard a shriek of agony. I was unable to stay on my feet and the blackness seemed to last for hours though was actually only a few seconds.
After the eeriness released me, I found myself flat on my back, staring up at the ceiling of the temple. Shakily, I rolled over and pushed myself to my feet.
I looked keenly at the village people and the ones on the floor who were on there backs were no longer wearing any amulets, just the chains.
I seemed to be one of the first who recovered, along with my companions, the ones who were actually wearing amulets took several minutes to recover. And there was one who was never going to recover.
of Mertan was lying on the floor with the rictus of agony on his face
and he was very definitely dead.
Rigan Dumal took the longest to come to his senses. As we were to find he was the first one the priest, Demar had embroiled in his trap. That gave Davin and Mellia time to tell Dismay what had happened and that Rigan couldn't help himself.
Finally Rigan pushed himself to a sitting position. He put his head in his hands, groaned and asked, "What happened."
Dismay went to kneel by his side and she said sympathetically, "You were being controlled by Mertan, my love." As she helped him to his feet. "You. . ."
She stopped abruptly when trumpets began to chime and a glow began to appear in the center of the temple. I just had time to think sardonically, "He's a bit of a show off.' when Mertan appeared. His head almost brushed the ceiling of the temple which was about twelve feet high.
He said in a deep elemental voice, "No, I was not controlling them. The demon Turaz was doing that, through my traitor priest, Demar. He sold himself to the demon for power, creating the plaque which locked me out of my own temple." He was obviously outraged by that.
Many of the people were kneeling, but Mellia and her father, his two sons and Dismay and Rigan simply bowed so I did so as well. I knew that Davin and his children didn't hold with Mertan, but he was a God and they were showing respect for him.
Davin said respectfully, "You are a God, couldn't you have gotten in anyway."
Mertan nodded, smiling grimly and said, "Oh, I could have. But that would have destroyed the temple and the whole valley with it. If the villagers had been mine instead of Caron's I would have had no hestitation in doing so. He said no and Gods don't battle Gods."
He said, looking at me, "I needed to find some other way of dealing with Demar and Turaz, so I brought young Kit here."
He looked back at Davin, "The sacrifice of the twins and when they were out of Demar's reach of Dismay, would have given him powe to create another plaque. He would have given it to a priest of another of my temples who would have sacrificed someone to produce another plaque. Then it would have gone on and on until Turaz had all of my temples."
He shook his head, saying, "Turaz, while evil is a somewhat simplistic being. He didn't even think that I wouldn't allow it to spread beyond this temple, all of my priests have been warned and none will accept a plaque. One temple is all that Turaz would ever get, but even that one was an offense to my being."
Mertan looked back at me, saying, "Now that my temple is free again, I can return you to your world, little one."
I shook my head, my heart bathed in warmth, "I would prefer to stay. Baron Davin offered to adopt me if I did. Already I'm closer to him and his children than I ever was to my aunt and uncle. Here I have a purpose and a reason for being, on Earth I have nothing."
He nodded with understanding and raised his hand. Suddently he had a tube in his hand and he tossed it to me. When I caught it, suddenly I appeared to be back on Earth, though I wasn't actually there but I could see what had happened just before I had ended up on this world. It went quickly and then I was back in the temple.
Mertan said to me, "I let you see what occured so that you know the whole story of what happened to you, from beginning to end. Write your story and put it in the scroll tube and it will appear on your uncle's desk."
sardonically, "Not that anyone will ever believe it, but at least
that will be an appropriate ending." He looked at Mellia, saying,
"And no Mellia, I don't take the souls of those sacrificed to me.
Though Turaz does, so the twins and Dismay truly just missed a fate
worse than death." And he abruptly disappeared.
So here it is two weeks later. I've written out my tale and I will put it in the scroll tube. I've put it in chronological order as it happened to me as much as I can remember. With feelings of content I put Earth forever in the past.
months of year Torth
|Caronic those who worship the god Caron|
|Coltar twins village.|
|Demar Priest of Mertan, in Coltar|
|Denton, Christopher Usually called Kit|
|Dumal, Rigan Tirth and Taven's father.|
|Dumal, Taven Black hair, gray eyes.|
|Dumal, Tirth - Black hair, blue eyes|
|Dunar Wolflike canine.|
|Gimar - Forester|
|Margit The Baronies resident Healer|
|Martelle One of the Baron's soldier. A bully, who picks a fight with Kit.|
|Maytin Blacksmith in the twins village of Coltar. Brother to Welkin.|
|Mertan ancient god|
|Mertanic those who worship Mertan|
|Orthan Hunter, trapper.|
|Raymar, Davin Mellia's father. Baron Davin actually.|
|Raymar, Dismay Baron Davin's older daughter, twenty-six.|
|Raymar, Emaar Baron Davin's fourteen year old son.|
|Raymar, Mellia Baron Davin's younger daughter. Seventeen. Black hair, gray eyes.|
|Raymar, Ritall Baron Davin's twelve year old son.|
|Shenar black berries, eating a dozen of them would be fatal. In smaller quantities used in many medicines. Rare therefore expensive. Always kept in black bags, with scarlet rims|
|Tirnaa world which Kit finds himself transported to|
|Turaan Baron Davin's tweny-five year old son and his heir.|
|Turaz Demon attempting to take over Mertan's temples.|
|Welkin butcher in the twins village. Brother to Maytin|