The Gathering

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Chapter 20

With their new army, the heroes were escorted out of the forest and back into the plains. At the forest’s edge, everyone retrieved their belongings. Amyntas asks Avalon to translate for him.

“Tell them that a great battle is approaching and that we will need them at the castle in the mountains. They must hold back the sorcerer’s army until we can defeat the tyrant who rules here.”

As he finished, the new king repeated the message to the wendigos. The wendigos howled in unison as all were eager to kill the tyrant and his men. As they went back into their forest home to prepare for battle, one stayed behind. It was the praetorian.

“I will stay with you,” said the guard. Everyone stopped what they were doing. This night was getting crazier. This was the first time anyone had heard another wendigo speak English.

“You can speak our language?” inquired Decimus. The guard nodded, yes. He then proceeds to remove his animal shawl that covered his face. Removing his cloak, the heroes got to see his face. He had very similar human features, albeit more primitive. His skin was fair, with some hair patches covering his face. He resembled a much older Avalon. His eyes, black as night, reflected white under the gaze of the moon. His teeth, like others, were fangs, but they were not massive fangs, but decent size.

“My name is Vortiger, praetorian of the former king of the wendigos. I am at your service for all time, my lord.”

“I am glad to see you have survived, old friend.” Before Ursa usurped Avalon’s father, Vortiger was his former teacher and protector of the realm. He taught him how to hunt, track, and fight. The medallion around Avalon was also given to him by Vortiger. Said it was a family heirloom. However, after the revolt, Avalon was banished, and Vortiger was forced to serve the new king but made sure to keep the young price safe, as a promise to his father.

“Your real name is Vortiger?” said cynbel. She was expecting a more beastly name like “razorback” or “snaggleteeth.” Vortiger sounded more regal, more Saxon. He smiles at the young woman.

“Yes, my lady, I know my name is not something one would expect from us. However, we were not always cannibals. We became that when lord Ursa took over. Long ago, we once had a sense of honor, and I wish to return to that.”

With introductions finished, our heroes make the long journey back to the camp. However, Richard and the others stayed behind. They explained that they wanted to cover their tracks, to make sure they are not followed.

Not wanting to argue, the others ride on, leaving Richard, Mori, and sparrow alone. With their comrades out of sight, the three veterans get on their mounts. In the calm night, a faint cry is heard above them. Perching itself on Richard’s arms is his beloved falcon. Feeding it a little treat, he sees a small note wrapped around one of its legs.

Grabbing it from the bird’s leg, Richard reads the inscription. However, he could not see the message adequately. Sparrow then hands him a torch, allowing the Englishman to read the news. As his eyes scan the lines, he crumples the paper and throws it over his shoulder.

“New meeting tonight,” said Richard. “He wants us to report again.”

“He better keep his end of the bargain once this is done,” said Mori.

“I know he will. He wants something from us, and we are the only one who can give it to him.” Sparrow had a concerned look on his face. “I hate that we are doing this.”

“We agreed upon what we had to do. Are you having second thoughts?” Sparrow shakes his head. Richard grabs the reins and jerks the beast forward. Following behind, Mori and Sparrow run through the night, making sure to meet with their elusive client.

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