CHAPTER 41: Taking Captives and Breena Visit
Back to tunnels and barriers and Interfaces,’ sighed Tye. ‘All this behaving like moles is becoming boring.’
‘At least we don’t have to do the boring as we go, the way moles do,’ Cudew remarked.
Darrex shook his head. ‘No,’ he said, ‘We’re not going that way. We are going to fly to the Interface at Flut Ring, which is within a fairly short distance from here. First, however, it is time to secure the Wreyges. A more sophisticated version of the magic-blocking spell they used on me, plus magically sealing the doors to their quarters, should do well enough, I would think. I am stronger than Felin, here, so for the id we are going to form I shall partner my sister.’
With that, he got up and headed for the door, expecting to be followed without question.
He got the first part right. He was followed.
‘How will Cudew fit up that spiral staircase?’ Hugh wanted to know.
‘How will you explain having the Daoine with you?’ Lusi asked.
‘Prince-size should just about make it, so when we reach the steps he will be told what a miserable cur he is,’ Darrex responded over his shoulder, and Cudew gave a silent snarl at him.
‘For the rest, I am still Highest King as far as everyone is concerned, Dew and Deng are Highest Princes, and Tergina is a Paramount Princess. It would take foolish bravery to ask such a group why another of the Paramount Princesses is suddenly Daoine and why other Daoine are present.’ He gave another backward glance. ‘Tone down that raiment, though.’
Not unexpectedly, when it came to forming the id Darrex had enormous difficulty in bringing himself to give himself over completely to Tergina. Finally Tye snapped at him, ’Think back on all the years of abuse you have offered her, your own sister, based on your smug conviction that males are so superior. Even all the little things count. Think what you were prepared to put her through so that she could be “compliant”. Think that you were evil enough to want her publicly tortured to death. Now, surrender!’
That did it.
This Id knew, from having Darrex in it, that it was only necessary for all-to-all physical contact to be there at the time of merging, after which it no longer mattered much whether they were touching one another or not. The pairs still tended to do it, though.
The Wreyge known as Terribler had no time at all to react when the door to her rooms opened and she awoke from dozing in a comfortable chair to find the group inside, and staring at her. Though she still had much of her ‘Terblia’ looks about her - perhaps the real one had been totally different - she was now far more elfin in size and appearance. There was the same sense of sheer presence as His Greatestness gave.
She displayed incredible control. Only by a split-second was she delayed by shock, and then she reached for magic to inflict mayhem. Even after discovering that she had no access to magic in any form, she didn’t give up but tried to dash past them through the doorway, aiming a vicious jab at Lusi as the nearest and smallest.
The Id froze her in her tracks.
Then the Darrex-component of it demanded, ‘What is your true name, Wreyge?’
‘I am Wranda,’ she spat. ‘You are going to pay dearly for this. When the rest start com…’ she suddenly realised she might be saying too much, so she stopped saying it.
‘You will be helping us with that part in due course,’ the Id-through-Darrex said, and casually unfroze her just before they left and sealed her door.
The capture of His Greatestness was simply a repeat performance, except that he was seated on his ‘throne’ feeling important when they confronted him, and he didn’t try to make a dash for it.
He also furnished the opinion that they would live – though not very long – to regret it. After some resistance, he gave his name as Wrogen. What convinced him to do so were various alternative suggestions given by Id-components, such as ‘Greatest-mess’ and ‘Slimiest’ and ‘Grates-on-you’, or simply, ‘Grates’.
As the Id dissolved, a sense of relief could be felt in Darrex, and a trace of ‘serve-him-right’ in Tergina, both of which were natural enough.
From there they trooped to the bottom of the spiral stairs and all told Cudew just how miserable and insignificant he was until they got him down to the smallest possible prince cu. Even then it was a really tight fit, but he could just make it.
‘My head’s going in circles,’ he complained as they started to climb. ‘I wish my body would do the same with less difficulty.’
Once they emerged, they flew straight to Darrex’s rooms, Tye and Pip, Lusi, and Felin, all waited in another room while the rest of them joined Darrex in the meeting-room-with-table while he demanded of some gaping servants that Derag be brought to him.
Derag arrived promptly, and his jaw fell open when he saw who was with the king. ‘They … but didn’t they cause that lock …? The meld …we could tell later they aren’t who they seem to b…’ he babbled.
‘Never mind all that,’ Darrex snapped. ‘What is the news from the Flut Interface?’
’Sorry, your Highest Majesty. The news is … er, actually the last news was that the magic key from His Greatestness had been used to open it and that the invasion … er, that is to say, that the liberation … force was entering.’
‘That was some time back?’ Derag nodded. ‘More news should have come by now?’ Another nod. ‘And, has it?’ This time a shake of the head.
Everyone present managed to copy Darrex in not letting the slightest trace of, ‘Oh, yippee!’ show.
‘I will take a selected group to go and see for myself what is happening,’ Darrex said. ‘Meanwhile, His Highestness is not to be disturbed, under any circumstances.’
‘He is locked in with his thoughts,’ Cudew said innocently and got glared at by the Highest King.
The bunch of flyers departing from Darrex’s tower gave little opportunity to be stared or wondered at. They ignored the formality of leaving via the area of the gates, and shot over the nearest wall at top speed before heading in the direction of Flut Ring.
‘I suppose that if we can’t get any news of where Aiennea is, we’d better all split up and look in as many Rings as we can manage, and then meet back at that Interface,’ Hugh called to Tye, Pip, and Cudew who were the ones within shouting earshot.
‘This is really going to be tricky,’ Tye called back. ‘We don’t want anyone getting lost during the search. How many days do you think we should allow as the maximum?’
Darrex had overheard this question. ‘We’ll decide that based on what we can learn inside Flut,’ he shouted.
It took a surprisingly short time to reach the Ring, and it was easy to see they had done so. The actual ring of flowers was the only thing left growing in a wide circle of trampled countryside. The signs were that the force here had probably been close to the size of the one at the Southern Rift.
Pausing only long enough to prepare themselves for fast reaction should they come across a nasty surprise on the other side, they entered the ring and stepped through the centre all together in a line.
The scene which met their eyes was another trampled one, and there were great numbers of creatures of the less pleasant varieties visible, drifting off in various directions. No Darxem were to be seen, but there were numbers of hovering Daoine who were apparently trying to discourage the creatures from attacking one another.
A few of the nearer creatures were now looking over their shoulders in an ‘Are these some crecords we’ve missed?’ kind of way at Darrex, Hugh and Dengana, and all three hastily sent out ‘We’re with the good guys’ messages.
Then a Daoine Highest Princess flew over, calling to all the hoverers, ‘The queen says you should try and shoo them all back into Darx. We don’t want them here.’
She looked ready to flee in panic when she saw their group approaching her, but Tye spurted ahead and called out, ‘Take us to the queen, please.’
Felin also spurted. ‘That would be High Queen Leppia?’ he asked.
The Highest Princess exited panic mode, gave a nod, and called back, ‘Follow me, please.’
‘Carry on spreading the shooing message,’ Hugh shouted to the others nearby, and their new guide gave him a startled look.
They were led to a hilltop where it could be seen that Leppia had been watching their approach with great interest and puzzlement.
The minute they landed in front of her, Darrex said, ‘Do you have any idea where we can find Aiennea?’
Annoyance at such lack of courtesy was swept aside by one closer look at him, and the rest of his group. ‘She’s having a quick rest over there,’ she said, waving a hand towards a pleasant spot nearby which was swarming with butterflies, ‘before she sets off to the Ring most likely to be attacked nex…’
Aiennea was no longer ‘over there’. In fact, she was approaching at speed, wearing something none of them would ever have believed she knew how to put on. It was a look of astonishment, mixed with … joy?
When she landed in front of them, she took in everything including the slightly different arrangement of titles and Adaptations at a glance.
Then she focussed completely on Darrex.
‘Dar,’ she said, ‘you are … you are … healed?’
Darrex nodded gravely. ‘I’m healing, Enny dearest.’
They stepped toward one another, and kissed.