Friday, August 02, 2019

Flash Fiction # 366 -- Connor of Northgate/50

Chapter Seventeen

The others helped get the portal ready -- a rush of movement and growing magic. They all needed rest, but better to settle the trouble first.

Connor studied what they did because he couldn't quite get the feel of the magic.  At first, he had thought this might be something fae could do, but a human could not grasp.  However, as he watched and felt it out, Connor began to understand how the spell worked.  The intricacy and beauty of the massed spells filled the corner of the room, a dazzling array of light.

Amazing, really.  If this had not been such a dangerous mission, Connor would have enjoyed learning the magic.

"I have the link to the Tower," he said when Rion asked.  "I think it's going to stick with me, even in other places, right?"

"Yes.  It has become part of you.  Lord Northgate would have been proud of what you've done so far, Connor, and under very troubling and trying circumstances."

Connor bowed his head in thanks and looked around at the others.  The soldiers who were coming with them had all volunteered for this dangerous journey.  Connor didn't want to drag anyone off to the troll lands if they didn't think this was a good idea, though.  Druce had talked to them and explained the situation.  Druce had become as strong an ally as Antisha.

Connor had already told everyone thank you.  Maybe he should have said more, but they didn't have much time left.  So he went to the portal and with his friends was the first to step through.  Even Rion went with them.

The troll lands turned out to be rocky land with dots of trees on hilltops.  Clusters of stone buildings looked very little different from the stands of rocks, except that trolls stood by them -- or sometimes on them.

The soldiers came in behind Connor, and that drew attention everywhere.  He heard the shout of trolls go all across the land in what seemed to become just one howl, so loud the ground trembled.  However, they'd chosen the area well. There were no troll cities here, though he thought the pile of stones in the distance might be one.  In some ways, he found this place fascinating.

"We have to move quickly," Nylia reminded him when he had paused to look around.  "We don't want them to have time to call an army in before we're gone."

He nodded agreement.  The soldiers fanned out around them and prepared for battle in case anything did come their way.  From the panic Connor saw, he wasn't nearly as worried as he had been before they made the jump to here.  Everyone was right; trolls didn't react well to anything unexpected.  As long as you were not right next to one at the time (because they were always apt to hit things) surprising them was always to your advantage.

Connor had made sure he was seen, and as importantly, felt.  The power of Northgate radiated out from him so there would be no doubt he led this group.  The others were moving to make certain no troll got close to him.  He and his companions moved back into the crowd and back to the portal that still stood open, as it would be while the soldiers were here, drawing attention while Connor and his companions moved elsewhere.

They went into the portal, and Connor lifted his hand, feeling out the magics that twined here.  Northgate felt the most powerful, but the gates were all linked.  He felt the court, and the other three as well.  With a nod, he turned towards Southgate.

Distance meant nothing, only the concentration of the traveler.  Connor and his companions very badly wanted this over with quickly.  Five steps and they could already see the indistinct shape of things at the other end.

They headed elsewhere to attempt something perilous.  Connor and his companions were going straight into the Southgate Tower itself because they needed to cut Galen from his power.  Only gate lords should have been able to enter the tower, but the others were certain if they remained close together, Connor's presence should protect them.

The place was more in focus and looked much like the Northgate Tower, Connor supposed.  At the last moment, Nylia took his hand on the left and Antisha on the right, while the others joined hands so that they formed a small circle.

No talking.  No questions.  They stepped forward.

Southgate took him by surprise.  The tower's stone blinked feebly with power and the place stood shrouded in cold and fog, even within the building.  Galen was draining the energy so much that he had weakened his own power base.  Fool.

And probably desperate.

The others remained close to Connor, but they understood the situation here.  Whatever Galen had hoped to gain, he was draining away the power of his holding to get it.

The Lord of Southgate wasn't here.  At least that's what Connor thought until a figure moved in the fog and stepped forward.  The man who moved forward had Galen of Southgate's face, though it looked worn and pale.  His body stood hunched over, and he walked with the slow movements of --

Of someone very ill.

"Lord Southgate?" Connor said.

The man frowned.  "You are the human boy.  You can't -- what happened to Lord Northgate?  Surely he didn't name the human boy --"

"You killed him," Connor said.

This odd semblance of Galen stopped and then took a step back, hand to his chest.  "No.  No, not me.  My mirror."

Antisha made a hissing sound of frustration and took a step closer to the man, even letting go of Connor's hand.  Rion whispered a curse, and though Connor wasn't entirely certain what the man had said,  he could tell from the others that this wasn't good.

"You fool," Rion said, his voice still a snarl.  "Why?  Why would you set such a creature loose?"

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