“This meeting will now be brought to order. Is everyone here?” Elder Rex asked, looking around the room.
Heads bobbed up and down. Havern crossed his arms and leaned back in his chair. This wasn’t how things were supposed to be going. The Trax weren’t supposed to be sending anyone through the Gate for a while to come, now was far too early. Had it not been for this he still would have been in bed with two girls wrapped around him.
Elder Rex rapped his knuckles on the table again, trying to get everyone to fall quiet. The old man was getting to be a bit too old for this type of thing, Havern thought. Soon someone younger would have to stand up and take the old man’s place.
“What exactly are we doing here Rex? It’s the middle of the night and some of us have families to look after.” a middle aged man said about half way down the table.
“If you had been paying attention to the two people we just carried through the streets then perhaps you would know why we are here Thern, now, shut your trap.” Rex snapped.
Rex continued once he was sure no one would interrupt him again, “For those of you who have eyes, you will have likely seen what I and a few of the Guardians were carrying into town. As I am sure you all know, the presence of this Trax girl is very troubling. They weren’t supposed to be sending anyone through the Gate until much later in the year. So the question then becomes what do we do?”
“Kill her!” one man shouted. There were nods all around.
Rex let out a sigh, “It isn’t that simple.”
“And why not? Draxan knows the plan, if he sent someone through too early he knows what we have to do.”
“What makes you think that this Trax girl has anything to do with Draxan?” Rex asked.
“I thought they all followed a single person. Would make sense that she would be with Draxan then.”
Havern shook his head, “It doesn’t matter who she is with or not. The fact that she is here isn’t a good sign either way. It means that either Draxan is moving faster than we are and is several steps ahead of us, or that Draxan doesn’t have proper control over the Trax like we assumed he did. If we kill her now before she even awakes then we can learn nothing from her about what she is doing here.”
“The Guardian speaks truth,” Rex said, “Whatever her reason for being here, it’s best if we keep her alive long enough to find out.”
A few heads nodded, but one man spoke up again, “We should just kill her now and be done with it. No good can come of keeping her alive. She is a Trax and can’t be trusted.”
“There’s another option we haven’t yet explored gentleman,” a man at the back said, “All Trax have magic. It’s possible that with this girls help we could quickly realize all of our goals.”
“How do you propose we get her to do as we ask?”
The man leaned forward and rested his elbows on the table, “The same way you make a criminal squeal for the Gods.”
The room filled with mumbling as everyone talked amongst themselves. Havern eyed the man who had just spoken. It seemed like a decent idea, but he didn’t feel like they could trust the Trax girl for much more than telling them what she was doing here. Even then, that would probably be a gamble.
It occurred to him that they could always contact Draxan himself. Certainly that would help to clear up a few things regarding this strange string of events. Havern considered Rex for a moment. The Elder had been right to come and get him when Rawlin had asked Rex to leave the Temple. They were lucky perhaps that Rawlin hadn’t just killed the girl at that very moment.
But then again Rawlin had always had a weak streak of sympathy. In theory that was partially why he had been selected as a Guardian. His father had much the same problem. Sympathy was better left to the weak.
Rex spoke up again, silencing everyone else, “If we don’t kill her now the people will at least demand that we hold a trial for her to determine what should be done with her. I am inclined to believe that is not a bad solution. But whatever secrets she may carry will then be open for everyone to hear. Depending on what she knows this could be very bad for us.”
“We could take her back to the temple. Myself and the rest of the Guardians would be more than happy to keep her locked inside until we decide what to do with her. Could even soften her up a bit for you Elder.” Havern said.
Rex nodded slowly, “That would probably be best. It would give Guardian Rawlin time to recover. Whatever details he might have about her could be very useful to our cause. Shall we put it to a vote?”
Everyone nodded. A rare smile spread across Rex’s lips, “If you are in favor of keeping the Trax alive for public trial say I.”
No one said a word.
“If you are in favor of moving the Trax girl to the temple for questioning say I.”
At least half of the group gathered agreed.
“And finally if you wish to simply just kill her now and be done with it say I.”
There were only a few that raised their voice.
“Very good then. When we are finished here Guardian Havern will take our friend up to the temple. Now there is the other matter concerning our plans. We have to decide what this means for us and where we stand.” Rex said.
“Personally, I don’t think this means much. We continue as planned. Draxan can’t come through without our help. That a single Trax girl figured it out doesn’t change anything.”
Havern regarded the man who had just spoke, the problem was that if a single Trax could do it then that means that others could. And potentially it meant that Draxan himself could come through. If that happened before they were ready, then everything would fall to shambles. They had to have all of the traps set well before any of the Trax came through. If Draxan came through too early he would discover their treachery.
Havern leaned back and tuned out the conversation, he didn’t exactly care much about their plans. He had only been brought on board because he was the next Guardian to be named. The more Guardians they had on their side the better. Elder Rex had only so much sway over the process so it was unfortunate that Rawlin had also been chosen. Havern had hopes to perhaps remove that obstacle soon enough.
He had only agree to this was because when the Trax were finally gone they could destroy the Gate. No Gate meant that he could do as he pleased. Rex had even promised him a nice house near the center of the village for his trouble. Of course, he also had other reasons why he wanted to see all of the Trax killed off.
When the Gate was destroyed, its pieces would be the only sources of magic in the land any more. Since he was a Guardian he would have rights over those remnants and with them he planned to unify the valley under a single name again like it had been before the Trax had destroyed everything. The jolt of pain he felt at the Ceremony had only been a tiny taste of the possibility of the magic contained within the gate.
Havern hoped that under a single name, his people would be able to lead better lives, that they would finally be able to move out of this cursed valley to somewhere where stepping in the wrong spot could spell death.
At that thought he reconsidered the idea of contacting Draxan himself. The man might be a liar, but they always learned much when talking the the Trax Emperor. If he knew anything of someone getting through the Gate he would probably be more than willing to share. Especially since a change in the plan on his end would mean they would have to change their plans.
Haveren leaned forward and spoke up, “Why don’t we just go contact Draxan and find out what he knows? Bickering amongst ourselves about what may or may not be happening won’t help any. If this signifies a change in Draxan’s plan it is in his best interest to tell us so that we can do the necessary things on this side of the Gate. If not, well then we can still use this Trax girl to our ends and consider it a stroke of luck she came through.”
Everyone at the table looked at Havern with a strange look. Rex cleared his throat. “I agree with you Guardian. It’s just that, contacting Draxan isn’t an easy task.”
“Is it so hard that we cannot do it to make sure that things are still in order? Even if Draxan lies, we can at least get a sense of what he knows and what he is planning.”
Rex took a deep breath and looked around the room, “Do we have the things we need for the spell?”
Heads nodded, “Does everyone agree with this course of action?”
Everyone nodded. Rex stood and took a deep breath, “Then it is decided. Guardian Havern, get the prisoner and meet us at the temple. We need to gather the necessary ingredients to call on Draxan.”
Havern nodded, glad that they were doing something finally. He followed everyone out and made his way to the cells where criminals were kept. The man standing guard over the Trax girl put two fingers to his lips in a traditional greeting to Guardians when he saw Havern approaching. Havern smiled and nodded back at the man, “I need to take the prisoner to the temple.”
“What for? Did you just carry her back from there?”
Havern gave a slight nod, “And now I must take her back. Elder Rex thinks it would be safer to keep her near the other Guardians and away from the village.”
The man shook his head, “I wondered what you were thinking bringing her here in the first place. Can’t the Trax use magic or some such non-sense?”
“Hard to know, could just be old stories used to scare people more than truth. Elder Rex thought it would be safer to have her in the temple though.” Havern said with a shrug.
The man fumbled through his pockets and finally pulled out the key ring. “She hasn’t made much noise since you left her here. Not long ago she finally relaxed a bit. Whatever happened to her and that other Guardian must be pretty bad.”
“Must be,” Havern agreed.
“What you planning to do with her anyways?”
“Figure out what she is doing here.”
The guard stood back out of the way so Havern could duck inside the cell and pick up the girls body. She had relaxed considerably since he had left her here which made her much easier to carry. Again he marveled at how strange she was. He had never seen anything quite like her and the stories of the Trax had never properly prepared him to meet one in the flesh. Of course he had never thought that he would meet one.
When he finally made it to the temple in the center of the valley everyone else had already arrived. With some rope he tied the girl up in a corner of the temple and then joined the group of men standing over a set of symbols drawn on the floor at the foot of the gate.
“Ah, good you’re here. We are just about to complete the final steps.” Rex said when he saw Havern.
Havern simply nodded, not feeling inclined to respond.
Rex took a deep breath and in another language began to chant. The rhythm of his words echoed around the temple in a strange and haunting way. The torches flickered and fought to stay lit against the slowly churning air.
Slowly Rex increased his pace, and the air in the room began to spin rapidly, wrapping around the symbols on the floor. The torches sputtered out leaving the temple in complete darkness and yet Rex chanted on.
Finally there was an ear splitting boom and the wind stopped instantly. A deep and menacing voice filled the room, “Why have you called me this night? Was I not clear the last time we talked?”
Elder Rex spoke, “We have a minor problem.”
“It better not be enough to stop our plans Rex.”
“We are of the same mind in that, Draxan. But given the circumstances we thought it best to see if you knew anything.”
Draxan let out a sigh, “What is it with you humans, the tiniest problem comes up and you scatter like mice at the sight of danger. Tell me what your problem is.”
“One of your people has come through the gate.”
“Really? How interesting. What have you done with them?”
Rex glanced to where Havern had tied up the girl, “Nothing yet. Is this your doing?”
Someone in the room finally got a torch lit revealing a ghost like figure standing over the symbols dressed in flowing black robes and an wearing an iron crown. Draxan, seeming not to notice the torchlight said, “I had nothing to do with that believe me. I learned of the incident only a short time ago. Despite how exciting it would be to finally walk in Otium, I didn’t send anyone through the Gate.”
“Do you know who might have?”
Draxan shrugged, “Doesn’t matter. Kill whoever it is if they bother you. I can assure you they are not related to me.”
Rex nodded, “Things are still going according to plan then?”
Draxan took a moment to respond. “It is taking time for me to acquire the things I need but I assure you, I am still on schedule. I hope you are.”
“Good, then this little conversation is over. There’s nothing more for me to add and I think it is rather clear what you need to do with your problem.”
“Wait, Draxan, before you go, just so we are clear, you are to wait until we open the Gate on this side before you come in.”
Draxan let out an impatient sigh, “Even if I wanted to open the Gate I can’t do so. You have to be the one to open it for this to work. I can’t come through something that is not open so lay your worry to rest. It is unbecoming. I just expect that everything is in order for my arrival.”
“We will be ready in time,” Rex said.
With that Draxan started to fade, a moment before he was gone he said, “Just remember the people of Otium must be ready to bow to me, if they are not, I will burn the valley to ash.”