The Gathering

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Chapter 14

“You don’t talk much, do you,” Cynbel asked. She has been asking constant questions to Avalon ever since he saved her. The young girls’ constant barrage of questions was starting to make the hunter reconsider keeping her. As the pair move deeper into the woods, Avalon notices that the runes on his medallion begin to dimmer. Something was wrong.

“Why have you stopped,” he said under his breath.

“Apologies, it appears someone is following us,” replied the guardian. That does not sit well for Avalon. If other forces are looking for humans, it could spell doom for everyone. He had to find an alternate route.

“Is everything alright?” Cynbel was curious as to why they had stopped. Avalon looked back at her and gave her a reassuring grin, trying to hide his concern. The guardian tells him that the only alternate route was to go through the nearby bog.

He detests going through swamps, but even he had to realize it was the only way to avoid further tracking. Finishing his conversation, he tells Cynbel that they will be taking a different route. Taking his word, the pair change directions and make their way to the bog. As they get closer to their murky destination, Cynbel gags a foul smell. It reeks of boiled flesh and turds.

“Where are you taking us?” Before she got her answer, she was hit with another wave of foul stenches.

They had arrived at their destination.

Arriving at the bog, Avalon notices a dense fog has blanketed the surface of the marsh, increasing the chances of getting lost. Wanting to avoid that possibility, the hunter grabs some thick vines from a nearby tree. Tying it around him like a belt, he tosses Cynbel the other end.

“We must go through here. It will cover our tracks.” Cynbel shook her head no.

“There is no way I’m walking through that swamp. It’s full of muck and other things.” Avalon’s patience was running low. Grabbing the other end, he ties the remaining half around her and drags them both into the murky water. She squealed in disgust as she soon covered in black mud.

Avalon ignored her pleas and continued making his way through the swamp, tugging Cynbel behind. Making their way through the swamp, Avalon believes he and the human had escaped their tracker. Yet both were unaware that they have already been found. High up in the trees, overlooking the bog, a hooded figure decorated in tattoos watches them.

He has been following them, at a distance, since their meeting at the forest borders. It was unaware of his intentions, but he hasn’t posed a threat to them yet. Instead, he is looking for something or someone else in the bog. The hooded figure enters the waters without a sound and scans his surroundings, silently crawling down the mighty tree. He could hear the human and the hunter in the distance and was about to make his way towards them. He bumps into something big, half-submerged in the murky water.

Startled, he places his hand on the object. He notices that the object had the rough texture of leather, but was covered in a metal robe. Getting a handful of the metal shirt, he pulls at it and finds it surprisingly heavy. Picking at it more and more, the object gives way and reveals to be a body.

Taken aback, he tosses the body off him, but a dangling hand grabs his cloak. The grip was not deadly but did have some force. As he tries to pry it off, he hears a faint voice coming from it.

“Help me,” says the body. The hooded figure was surprised by this. The person was still alive, barely. Pacing his hands underwater, he lifts the almost dead soul off the dark grave and carries the body to the other side of the bog.

Though heavy with mail and leather, the unknown figure made sure not to drop the individual. Upon making it to the other side, the stranger grabs a rag from his pouch and wipes the mud off the body’s face. Cleaning the dirt away, he sees that the body he rescued belongs to a woman, a woman covered in cuts, bruises, and had her hair braided.

Placing his index and ring fingers on her neck, he feels a slight pulse saying she was alive. With a sigh of relief, the stranger gently moves her and lays her against a nearby tree. Seeing her face slightly move, he knows she will awake momentarily. Knowing she will have questions, he waits beside her, keeping her company and protecting her.

“Some guide you are, getting us lost in a swamp with a fog.” As she finishes her rant, Avalon lets out a heavy sigh. He could not stand listening to her anymore. Why he had to find this particular human, he will never know. Luckily for them, they arrived at the other end of the bog. Finally, He said to himself, cutting the vine rope around them. He could now have some peace for a while. As Cynbel cleans the mud off her clothes, she sees two figures leaning against a tree.

“Avalon, we have company.” She said, tapping him on the shoulder. The hunter turns and sees one human and a hooded stranger casually leaning against a tree. Reaching for his blades, he stops as arrows whist past his head, just missing him by a few inches. He looks and sees the stranger, bow drawn, and already notching another arrow.

The stranger draws back on the string, ready to fight. Before either one had a chance to react, a low moan was heard. Turning their heads around, they see the weary human slowly waking up from her perilous encounter.

Blinking a few times, she tries to recount what had happened. The last thing she remembers was seeing a blue light envelop her in the waters after her fall. Rubbing her head, she looks up, and she has three figures standing around her.

“Am I…in Valhalla,” she says quietly. Cynbel stares at the older female. She resembled a Briton from Boudica’s army, but her accent and armor were different.

“No, you’re not in Valhalla, you’re in hell.” She offers her hand to the puzzled warrior. Pulling herself up, she rubs her head, still aching from the blow.

“What’s your name,” Cynbel asks. The warrior maiden takes a few minutes to realize where she is before answering.

“My name…my name is…Tyra. Tyra Dragon Eyes.” Cynbel smiled. It was a beautiful name and a good one too. Tyra explained to them that she was a Valkyrie, a female Viking warrior.

“I’m called Cynbel and this Avalon.” The hunter smiles under his mask.

“Thank you for saving me.” Cynbel and Avalon raised their hands and told Tyra that they did not save her; the stranger did.

Turning around, she sees the hooded savior. Wanting to thank him, she asks what his name was. The stranger proceeds to remove his cloak and lay it on the ground. Around his waist was an iron knife and a small hatchet called a tomahawk. He was as tall as the hunter, with dark brown eyes and had black hair trimmed short. On his neck was a stone necklace in the shape of a wolf. His skin was dark brown, almost resembling red clay. His outfit was made from bearskin, eagle feathers, and wolf pelts.

“My name is Kanatakon: ha of the Mohawk people.” Not one of them could pronounce his name. “Just call me Sparrow.”

“Thank you, Sparrow, for getting me out of that swamp.” Said Tyra. She was brushing off the slime and gunk covering her armor. Cynbel then began to explain to the Viking that she saw a bright light before she was taken.

As the two women talk to each other, Sparrow hears the sound of a messenger bird. He looks above and whistles for it. Soon a falcon appears and perches itself on Sparrow’s arm. He knew whose falcon this was. Removing the note from its leg, he opens it and begins to read the message: Two more have arrived—a Roman and Spartan. Soldiers know more have come. They sent a patrol into the woods. We are following close behind. Find the others soon.

Sparrow crumbles the note in his hand. Giving a piece of meat to the hungry bird, he slips a wolf’s fang around the bird’s neck. Sparrow whispers something in the bird’s ear and sends it back to its master. He turns back to others who were discussing amongst themselves.

“We camp here tonight. Then we go east tomorrow.” They look at him puzzled, especially Avalon.

“Why the hell do we go east, that going into enemy territory.” Avalon had a right to protest. While the Warlords controlled most of the area, the east was solely managed by Lord Kairos himself. It had access to all routes to other realms and was the center point of his fortress.

“In the east, there is a small village. Its people here have the answers you seek.” As the Mohawk goes to his perk high in the trees, Tyra asks him

“Do you think they can send us home?” Sparrow said nothing. He has been asking that question for five years, ever since he arrived in this foreign land himself.

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