Characters in this real tale may not be based on people.
“Shove off you devil spawn” yelled a panting King Jaygon, bashing the hilt of his sword against the Circle room door, which led back to the tunnels, caves and castle. He had only just managed to help turn the wheel handle, with a second to spare, before the Terraloon crashed into it, and began ripping at it with his powerful claws, roaring in frustration. “Quick brother, stand by me in case he breaks through” he yelled, and Eltor rushed over, sword drawn.
After Duke Anthon had yelled warning about Amelia’s safety, the kings and their men had raced back recklessly through the tunnels leading to the caves, calling the guards to follow. Around halfway along the tunnels and before reaching the square room that led to cave five, a loud bellowing roar shook them to a halt, and they instantly recognized the blood freezing cry of another Terraloon. King Jaygon knew that not one of them could survive an attack by such a creature. He yelled an urgent retreat to the Circle room, and heard the frantic sound of the guards, that had been left posted in the caves, running for their lives toward them. As they sped down the tunnels, they could hear the screams of men behind, being caught and slaughtered by the monster.
Some panicking guards ahead, took off down the wrong tunnel branches. The King hoped that they would manage to survive and stay hidden. Thank the stars that they had left the Circle room door open to rush through, because they could hear the charge of the creature rapidly catching them up on all fours, and King Jaygon, being the first to lead toward the caves in fear for his daughter and the others, was now last in the rush of his men returning to the Circle room. He could now hear the scrabbling of the monster’s claws on the stone floor approaching close behind him and could almost feel the breath of the monster on his neck. As he flew through the Circle room door, Prince Eltor, Lukestar and another two men were ready to help slam it shut, and spin the locking wheel just as the Terraloon slammed into the door. ‘Phew! Too close! How could another Terraloon exist in the Kingdom without discovery? To enter the caves meant that it had come from Prince Eltor’s property. Were those at the castle safe?’ King Jaygon wondered in horror.
They could hear the creature move away from the door.
“It will be hunting those that hide in the tunnels” said Prince Eltor “but we cannot risk moving through that door. We are trapped with no way to warn the others of it, nor of the real existence of the Witch. Any suggestions men?” he commanded, trying hard not to show the fear and anguish they all felt. King Jaygon knew that even with their exCaleebra swords they would be no match for the strength and speed of the powerful creature. It was faster than any man.
“Let us discuss all options open to us.” he said. “All men must have their say. Any ideas? Feel no shyness to speak. We are fortunate that for now these doors hold against such a creature and must pray that all at the castle and village remain safe. By now they will have noticed that our return is delayed.”
More men’s screams and thumping noises could be heard from the tunnels. Prince Eltor bashed his sword handle against the door, as had his brother earlier, and shouted in frustration at their position against such an unbeatable enemy. There was a moment’s silence, but then suddenly the Terraloon was again at the door, roaring it’s challenge, claws scraping loudly at the door and the surrounding rock. Every man in the room felt terror in his gut.
Sometime later they heard distant yelling from a man down the tunnels from the caves. There was a loud scuffling noise, as the Terraloon kicked off from the door, to go and investigate. “Not more men to die so heedlessly!” yelled the King and both he and Eltor pummeled the door loudly. The Terraloon was back immediately, again ripping at the door.
“I pray that man returns to the Castle forthwith and does not investigate the tunnels” said Prince Eltor. “An emergency would have been called by now and the Castle fortification begun. Our late return or lack of communication would automatically trigger it. The Master of Arms will not let them down and the Keep will be well protected. However we know not of the power nor intent of that Witch, Red Wasp.” Five minutes later the monster moved from the door, making it’s odd clicking sound, heading back toward the caves.
“Let us be assured that the Keep will avert her attack” said the King confidently to the men, but inside he was ill at ease. His father Anthon had sounded very alarmed by the threat to Amelia. Now he was being blocked by this beast, unable to protect his daughter, wife or the others. Thank the stars she had that powerful protection charm. The Witch will be in for a big surprise if she gets close to Amelia, he tried to convince himself.
The light tubes to the outer wall brightened, indicating approaching dawn and the end of a long upsetting night. “We are being held at bay men. Prince Eltor, Lukestar and you men” he said pointing to five of the remaining guards “let us meanwhile return to see if Marshall Mathem has managed to help our father escape from that magicked rock wall. Sergeant Toodles, keep both doors locked, but send a man to report to us every half hour, and immediately if the situation changes in any way. Understood?”. Sergeant Toodles obediently snapped to attention, clicking his heels together and saluting so quickly that he knocked his cap off, much to the muffled sniggers of some of the other guards. A bit of light relief against the fear they all felt.
An hour before the sun rose, the castle Keep was awoken to the sound of loud crying, shouting and the clamour of running boots. Amelia was nowhere to be found! The two guards outside her door were facing angry questioning from the Master of Arms, whilst the children, the Queen, Princesses and nannies were all huddled together in the room, crying. The opening in the Cloud room roof had been discovered and the guards had admitted fearfully but honestly that for some unknown reason they had fallen asleep on duty. All areas below the tower had been examined as well as every room in the Keep, but there was no sign of Amelia. How could she have just disappeared into thin air? Roger Aircroft had already dispatched four riders to alert the kings’ party of events at the castle, with news of the Terraloon attack and death, and of Amelia’s disappearance. Good news mixed with a most mysterious and fearful tragedy. He hoped beyond reason that Amelia would be found well and healthy, in some not-yet-discovered hideaway, but deep down he knew this would not be so.
Tallia, the Red Wasp, had lain the sleep-frozen Amelia down on the top of a two-hundred-foot high, free-standing pillar of rock, overlooking the crater. The flattish rock top of the pillar was only about five foot wide, with sides so sheer, that no one could rescue the girl. She sat down next to Amelia, looking down over the crater, watching and waiting.
Sometime later, she saw men moving across the crater toward the protected entry wall where she had left the girl’s royal grandfather Anthon. She watched with interest as a soldier attempted to hit the wall with his sword and got flung back into the air in a shower of sparks. They were yelling out the names of Duke Anthon and Marshall Mathem at the rock arch entry-way. Why Marshall Mathem, she wondered? Did they think that he had somehow got through the rock? Impossible! She turned up her earpiece and heard two guards say that Duke Anthon had emerged with a glowing sword raised and that he and Marshall Mathem had both then returned into the entrance. To her surprise she then saw King Jaygon raise a sword with a glowing blueish edge and seconds later most men passed from her eyesight into the entrance. Azlan material! The key to retracting the power rods! She woke the girl.
Amelia awoke in a daze, wondering where she was, and then saw Tallia sitting alongside and felt a rush of joy. A second later she noticed the crater far far below and looked over the edge in mounting fear.
“Where are we? What .. how did we get up here?” She looked at the beautiful Witch with a growing despair. She had been tricked.
“You should have listened to your Grandfather!” Tallia snapped, showing Amelia the protective pendant her Grandpa Anthon had given her, now around the Red Wasp’s neck. “You just gave me something I could never have taken off you. You silly human child! Sit still now! If you fall off this rock you die!” she spat out harshly, and then flew down off the pinnacle. Amelia watched in wonder and then horror as she saw the Witch hover above the men below, before finally one of them looked up and noticed her. Before a sound escaped their lips they were bathed in a golden light and all froze to the spot. She wafted down and disappeared silently into the entrance. Amelia started shivering and weeping in fear, horror and despair. Grandpa and Daddy would never forgive her. Ever!
There they all were, gathered in front of the sparkling black wall, having finally found their way, thanks to scrapes on the walls left by Anthon and Mathem. They all had their backs to the Red Wasp as she silently glided up behind them and watched. They were talking through a horizontal slot in the wall! How was that possible? That wall was unbreachable! She then heard voices coming from the inside of the wall.
“What is going on?” her lilting voice rang out as clear as a bell. “Stay where you are, or die where you stand” she commanded. The men slowly turned and one foolishly drew his sword. With a small flick of her hands, he dropped to the ground unconcious.
“Say not a word and back off to that far side. Quickly, you disgusting creatures!” she ordered, sweeping them aside with some awesome invisible force, into a heap of cursing men, before they had even the chance to move away. She didn’t want them dead yet, not until she knew how this slot in the wall had come to be. The King, Prince Eltor and their men, scrambled back onto their feet awkwardly, now very aware of the immense power and danger posed by this stunningly beautiful Red Wasp witch. Prince Eltor raised his hand to the men to stay put and remain silent. Many were fuming and itching to draw weapons. How dare she knock the king and prince aside?
The yellow skinned witch moved forward and stared through the slot into the space beyond, her back to the men and her long red hair moving with a life of it’s own, about her head and down her back in ripples of shiny waves. There was Amelia’s Grandfather staring back at her, from the other side of the wall! Instead of anger, she was suddenly and unexpectedly overwhelmed with an avalanche of joyous emotion and real tears welled up in her bright green eyes. After all this time she could return home! Her frustration and vengeful hatred for the Azlantids and the humans fell from her in that very moment, in tangible waves.
Now she desperately wanted to see her spacecraft as she felt flooded by memories and hopes. She could see now how this wall was opened. Just piercing points into the wall, using Azlan material. ‘Blobs of Blentarth, how simple!’ she thought.
“Open up Grandpa” she commanded, glowing green eyes staring into his. “I’m tired of this battle and see this!” she said showing him Amelia’s pendant around her neck.
“No!” cried Anthon and King Jaygon simultaneously, the King drawing his exCallebra sword, preparing to strike her down in angry response.
“Don’t be a fool!” she said to the King “Amelia will want a living father and I want my spacecraft. She is safe for now. Once I have examined my vehicle I will fetch her to your arms. Now open up this wall!” she shouted at Anthon.
Anthon nodded at Mathem and they pierced the wall six inches above the ground. The wall opened to a doorway size and Tallia swept through, suddenly turning to Anthon and Mathem.
“Thank you, you will not regret this” she whispered sweetly, and moved off into the darkness beyond. With a wave of her rod the enormous cavern lit up, strange crystal lights coming to life and the hum of various machineries started up.
“You may follow” she said “but touch nothing”. The whole royal party tentatively followed her, in awe of the vast size of the space, the strange sights, lights and sounds. Tallia moved directly to her spacecraft, a flattish metallic yellow orb, about eighty foot in diameter. She placed her hand on a symbol and an array of glowing markings appeared, on which she tapped her fingers. An oval opening appeared and steps unfurled to the floor. She told them all to wait and went inside.
The craft began to hum gently and radiate a soft light, then rose some ten feet from the ground before settling down to the floor again. The Red Wasp reappeared looking radiant and smiling at them all excitedly. “Come with me. Let’s fetch Amelia” she said, gliding swiftly to the tunnels again.
Amelia looked down over the sharp edge of the pillar, watching men running across the crater floor, toward the arched entry and the earlier group of men still standing frozen. The morning sun was almost over the rim. She could hear a great deal of yelling and upset as they arrived and tried to revive the men. She yelled
“Help” down at them and they all looked up, but she couldn’t hear what they were saying. Two men rushed back the way they had come, perhaps to get help she thought. What has that witch done to everybody in there, she wondered in fear. How could I have been so silly. But in the next moment she saw the wicked witch fly out of the archway and head straight up towards her. Arrows flew, but bounced harmlessly from her. Then there was more shouting below. Amelia watched in horror as the Red Wasp drew ever closer. In a panic Amelia jumped back from the edge, but too far back. Suddenly slipping and unable to keep her balance, she fell over the side, desperately screaming and hurtling toward the ground.
The Red Wasp caught her gently, halfway down, and lowered her to the base of the pillar, far away from the men. Some were running toward her shouting, and she could recognize her daddy’s voice. ‘He wasn’t dead. He wasn’t dead!’ she trembled with relief. Tallia held her face and stared at her with a smile.
“No need to ever fear me again little one” she said, removing Amelia’s pendant from around her own neck, and placing it gently over Amelia’s head. She then hugged Amelia and lifted her up, flying back to King Jaygon and placing her gently in his strong arms.
At Anthon’s request, and the grudging approval of his sons, Tallia of Mog agreed to remain a while longer and answer many questions intriguing the humans. Many were still seething with anger over the deaths of the guards and the witch’s actions, but in these warring days such actions were more easily forgiven, to allow for peace between enemies. The wonders of the cavern also held the attention of all as she walked them through explaining what things were and how they worked. They also watched in awe as Tallia dismantled various parts of the Azlantid ship with strange tools that spun or moved in various ways with the press of a button. She finally found the Azlan Drive, a blue glowing ball, the size of a man’s head, inside an outer shell of bright metal flat bars with six short hollow rod protrusions equally spaced around the sphere.
“It’s in perfect condition” Tallia exclaimed happily. “You have given my life meaning again” she said smiling broadly, carrying the drive into her spacecraft, returning five minutes later beaming with delight.
The black starry wall was switched off by Talia, who found the controls. Food, refreshments, chairs and cot beds were brought to the cavern area. The Queen, Princesses, Master of Arms Roger and various others visited by careful invitation. Breese and Harold pleaded to be allowed to come to meet the Red Wasp Tallia, but were initially refused by their concerned parents. An amount of secrecy was still being maintained, to avoid attracting warring outsiders.
“It is a pity that Merklin and Grey have yet to arrive to meet Tallia”, exclaimed Anthon, “but Lords Paulus, Petronious and their families should make it in time. She must please be encouraged to stay as long as possible. She could teach us so much about these mysteries and I have so many questions as I’m certain we all do.”
Later, over dinner, Tallia explained briefly where she was from and the unfortunate history, misunderstandings and revenge battles against the Azlantids. The sciences of medicine and explanations regarding such amazing longevity, was lost on them but the scribes took notes and she helped describe many simpler plant and other potion methods for various ailments.
“It is possible that the Azlantid fair-haired ‘goddess Athena’ still lives” she said, having discovered that the rejuvenation capsule in the Square room was still operational,
“but I have no idea where she had gone at this time”. Amelia glanced at her Grandpa Anthon, and they knew that this would be an adventure they must go on; to find this goddess! Tallia also showed them how to access the various video files using the large spheres. Many years of wondrous exploration would yet be carried out in this crater area, the cave rooms and enormous cavern.
Some-time later, in complete privacy with just Anthon, his sons and Amelia, she placed in Grandpa Anthon’s care the golden rod, to be handed down to Amelia and Grey when he and her father felt that they were of age and character to use it. It was an extremely powerful tool and potential weapon. They secretly practiced its many powers in the crater area until she was certain they understood. She had checked the Rod’s power readings on board her spacecraft and assured them that it would retain full power for many hundreds, if not thousands of years to come, depending on use. Her explanations of how it was powered, like the power of the sun and stars, went right over their heads, but they nodded knowingly and wisely.
Tallia brought them many strange and wondrous gifts from out of her craft, but the most exciting to Amelia were the silvery discs attached to strange delicate chain pendants and also alternate arm and waist bands.
“Gravity field manipulation’ she explained, showing them the one she wore around her waist. She turned the outer ring, touched it gently and rose up off the floor about a foot.
“Heavens above” exclaimed Anthon “What a miraculous device”. By pressing it a little more firmly and tilting her hand forward she flew up higher and forward, before tapping it and gently floating back down.
“It takes some practice” she said, “but I wish to give you one each and a finger ring to match, like the one on my right hand”. They looked at the delicate silvery ring band, which had a tiny pattern of gold dots along its surface. “The ring guides the disc in the direction you wish to go, and the pressure on the disc determines the speed you move through the air. You can continue to accelerate to enormous speeds if you wish, then tap the disc once lightly to maintain the speed you want or double tap to reduce the speed, or harder double tap to stop in midair. I will show you one at a time in the crater area until I feel certain you have mastered it. That is, if you wish to try it”.
“Oh yes please” squealed Amelia, before anyone else could speak up. She looked forward to teaching her brother and cousins too and desperately hoped that Grey would soon return to meet Tallia before she left.
It took a while of constant unrelenting pleading by Amelia, and assurances by Tallia, before King Jaygon finally gave in to his daughter’s excited demands.
“It’s a good thing your mother’s not here this morning”, he said as they made their way outside. Tallia opened the small opalescent container and removed a thin delicate rod.
“That’s not a ring” whispered Amelia softly in anticipation.
“Hold out the hand you write with and open your fingers” Tallia said gently. Amelia looked on in wonder as Tallia placed the middle of the rod against the top of her middle finger and it gently wound itself around her finger into a ring, fitting perfectly. “Now touch the top of the ring with a finger on your left hand and hold it there for a few seconds. See how it straightens out into a straight rod again? Now put it back on as I showed you. Perfect. Now I suggest you wear your disc as a pendant for now, but first touch your ring to the disc for a few seconds until the gold dots light up. That’s right. Now this ring and disc are matched. You won’t need to do it again”.
“Magic” whispered Amelia in wonder.
“Magic is just science you don’t know yet.” said Tallia. “There are many mysteries still unclear to our people too”.
“Like what?” asked Marshall Mathem, rather surprised to hear that such advanced people would not know it all.
“Many races like ours are searching for clues to the great intelligence behind life throughout our universe, visiting planets such as yours. As of now it still eludes us but it seems that whatever that power is, it is still alive and active and we follow in the wake of its creation of new life. Many other races show us new sciences that we learn from, such as the Azlantids, but wars still exist even amongst the brightest people.”
From the puzzled expressions on their faces Talia realized that she would have to explain the concept of Earth and the planets revolving around the sun, the solar system, the galaxy and the universe to them a little later.
After an hour of training, Amelia was completely familiar with how to fly on her own and just didn’t want to stop the thrill of swooping around happily. She wanted to rush off and show Breese and Harold as soon as possible but also didn’t want to miss being with Tallia every possible moment before she left.
“Will you come back and visit us Tallia?” she asked, hovering just above the ground in front of her.
“I really don’t know yet little one. I have much to tell my people and to learn much from them after so long a time. Travel there and back will take many years but I would love to see your smiling face again.” Even though speed of light travel was broken a long time ago, Tallia felt a little sad that many years would pass on board alone and that she may never see this world again. What was happening to her? A short while ago she hated everything about this backward planet and its small-minded people. Her one remaining head guardian warrior ‘Terraloon’ had lost coms but still remained in hiding and she wasn’t sure why, but decided not to disturb these humans with the news. She would try to locate it once on board, before heading for space.
Breese and Harold were finally allowed to visit the cavern with family. Amelia squealed with delight, and grabbing their hands, they ran up together to meet Tallia. Breese and Harold just stood gawking, speechless and hearts pounding. Tallia looked at them for a while, then smiled her glorious smile and shook their nervous hands. Amelia immediately took her cousins on a tour of wonder and awe, coupled with non-stop chatter, giggling and laughter. She couldn’t wait for her brother to join them and share in the fun. Before she could show her cousins the anti-gravity devices, they were whisked off back to the castle by a nervous mum and nanny.
In the Green Woods:- Prince Bastion Grey Joshua had been with Merklin, not just training as his apprentice, but also in carrying out important covert missions, including some secretive questioning of local villagers, farmers and wagon drivers, in the various places they travelled through;- regarding strangers they may have noticed. Merklin knew now that he was being tracked down and took great care that he and young Grey remain hidden. The young lad also helped explore the most secret caves. They had come across other mysterious tools and materials in the mountain his grandfather Anthon had explored with Merklin some years back, and they were careful to record everything they could, and run various tests. After ensuring that they could not be tracked, they headed back to the Hideout in the woods.
Grey was already fluent in languages, the mysteries and arts, but moreover was one of the bravest and talented swordsmen at his early age of eleven, that Merklin had ever trained. Merklin, known as Merlin in the western realms, and Michael in his earlier years in the far south, was ancient but kept that a deep secret. He was an expert swordsman and fighter in an eastern martial art called Aike Ido. He knew that young Prince Grey would be a great leader and future king, with wisdom and understanding well beyond his years. Merklin had fashioned a protective charm, similar to that worn by Amelia, and presented it to Grey with an exCaleebra dagger and small sword, swearing him to noble deeds and protection of family and kingdom.
A knock on the bark-disguised door to his hollowed giant tree hideaway, alerted Merklin and Grey into instant action. Grey stood, sword in hand at the side of the door, while Merklin moved a flap of wood aside to peer through the tiny opening. Even though the visitor was trusted and well known to Merklin, he rarely took chances. “What is it Rook?” he asked, keeping the door firmly locked. “I have a note from G Anthon, Oz castle, master M” stammered Rook. A thin slot appeared in the trunk of the enormous tree and after looking carefully around the forest yet again, because one can never be too careful, Rook pushed the note through the slot. “Wait” said Merklin and opened the letter. The letter was from Master of Arms Roger Aircroft on behalf of his great friend Anthon, briefly explaining the frightening developments at Eltor’s castle.
“That Red Wasp witch! So she has been around hereabouts as I suspected” exclaimed Merklin loudly, a twinge of fear creeping up his spine. “We leave immediately. Within the hour. I must grab a few things. Pack your sack Grey. Rook, amuse yourself out there for half an hour. Don’t draw attention to this tree. We will join you shortly. Get the horses”. Rook wasn’t sure which of those instructions to follow first but wondered off to get the horses.
Merklin had been hiding from the Red Wasp for many years, and had worked on countless weapons that he hoped might defeat her if she ever found him. He decided on the ratchet dart gun as best option for this trip, and it was the only one he could successfully conceal under his cloak, disguised as his belt. It would shoot thirty darts in immediate succession, each deadly-poison tipped and expelled with enormous force from the front area of the belt, spraying out in a spiral cone of about thirty degrees, hitting anything no matter how fast it tried to dodge away. He hoped that he could come face to face with that Witch before she killed too many of his special friends.
“If she has hurt Amelia or gramps or dad or…” started Grey in anguish.
“Let’s not jump to conclusions young man. Let’s just get going” shouted Merklin, still nervously running on the spot, pulling tight the draw strings to his backpack and packing eats into his coat pocket for the three-day journey. An owl in the high branches stared at the man and boy emerging from the trunk of the great tree. ‘Terwit terwoo” it muttered softly, before again closing its large eyes. Also watching the man and boy emerge, from a distance in the forest scrub, stood a large and calculating dark creature.
The End of Chapter 5