The City of Dusk: Chapter D
Pristontale: The City of Dusk
Chapter D - The Lunan and the Koltan
Five days later they reached the Ancient Dungeon. The two guards who were patrolling the entrance looked up, shocked at the sight, when Tyrank called to them. They had been running straight through since they had run out of health drinks. An entire crowd of different monsters were following them closely, but Dylane had already slain the Bargons. Melocrie could now also see the pillars at the dungeon entrance and forced herself to go on, even though she was out of breath. When they reached the gate, Urani and Kayleigh both turned around at the same time and, when the party had passed them, they created a force shield and the monsters bounced back on it. Both puzzled and offended, they crawled away after lingering for a while.
"Tyrank, thank the Gods you all have made it," said one guard. "We are now your refuge."
"Thank you, Cage," Tyrank nodded and motioned the party to enter the hall.
The other guard, Glain, served them some toasts and drinks, and Melocrie couldn't get enough of it. She appreciated the kindness there highly, especially after the battles since Ruinen. In the meanwhile, when Tyrank was at an other table talking to Cage, the rest told Melocrie the history of the dungeon.
"It used to be a normal prison," Urani said with his mouth full. "In possession by either the Midranda or the Galantia." He swallowed and coughed, quickly taking a sip from his mug.
"But because of Majok's curse," Kayleigh continued, while smirking at her brother, "the people who were in here changed into monsters."
"Only strong warriors may enter here," Debhora said. "Here they train, but it's only meant for the best."
"Can we enter?" Melocrie asked.
Dylane almost choked on his food as he tried to laugh. "I think Tyrank's the only who would be allowed," he grinned.
"Speaking of which," Debhora swallowed and nodged her head at the two men discussing something. "What are they talking about?"
"I think we'll hear tonight," Urani said and sighed. "If not, then we ask."
"I like that plan." Dylane to another bite from his bread and then looked at Melocrie. "How are you doing thus far?"
Melocrie finished her sip from the cold beer. "Oh!" She wasn't used to people asking her that. "I've been doing fine, thanks to you guys."
Dylane laughed. "Yeah, you're a real treat, kid."
"You've been hanging out great, Melocrie," Debhora said, and Melocrie blushed. "I really mean it."
"You saved us a few times," Kayleigh smiled. "When fighting as a party, it doesn't seem to be a big deal, but..."
"But it really is!" Urani finished and drank a large sip.
That night they all came together, including Cage and Grain, while Tyrank explained what was going on.
"There's a large party of warriors, especially Pikemen and strong Fighters, blocking the entrance to the Forgotten Land," he said. "They will not let us pass."
"What?" Dylane asked surprised. "Why?"
"Because they fear your deaths," Cage said. "They're not letting anyone cross to Navisko."
"Were they there before?" Debhora asked.
Tyrank shook his head. "No, they were not. But their leader, Roldin, is coming tomorrow morning himself to speak with us."
"They claim to have seen things," Grain told. "Terrible things, though they couldn't explain what."
"Why can't they?" Urani asked. "It's not that hard, is it?"
"Could it be a curse?" Kayleigh suggested.
"That's what most of them think," Tyrank said. "We'll just have to wait until morning to get things straight."
"This party..." Dylane said. "What's the name?"
"The Lunan Guild," Grain said.
"The Lunan Guild...?" The name was enchaunting to Melocrie. It seemed so innoccent, then why would they not let them pass?
"The Lunans are blocking both entrances to Navisko as well," Cage said. "You must try to convince their leader in order to enter the city of dusk. But Roldin's a Pike, and not so easily to manipulate."
"Yes, he was a loyal man," Tyrank said to Cage. "But he changed, didn't he?"
Cage nodded, and clearly the party didn't seem to understand.
"You two know that guy?" Dylane asked.
"He used to be a friend of ours," Cage explained. "But we grew apart."
"What made it?" Melocrie asked carefully. She wanted to be more a part of the party, so she decided she shouldn't be afraid of asking her questions. Tyrank did seem to be okay with it.
"We had different ideas," he said. "Me and Cage wanted to grow in society, but Roldin remained living as an exiler. He said that was he freedom."
"And he would use his powers to help others in ways like this?" Kayleigh moaned quietly in thought. "If that's what they choose to do..."
"They won't stop us so easily," Urani said. "We have to get to Navisko. We have a mission!"
Tyrank agreed. "I will even wound him if I have to," he said quietly.
Melocrie stared at Tyrank and pittied him a bit. Roldin had been his friend, but now they were in a place where they had to hurt each other to get things done. She really hoped it would never become like that between her and her new friends.
The next morning Melocrie woke up from upset voices outside. She knew she overslept, and dressed herself hastily before joining the others outside. Cage and Grain stood on either sides of the entrance, and up ahead were her friends. Tyrank and Dylane were sternly talking with raised voices to a Pikeman. Kayleigh, Urani, and Debhora stood next to them, listening intendly.
"You are forsaking all those people by stopping us," Dylane said to the Pike, with his hand on his chest.
"That is not true!" the Pike answered. "You are the ones who are forsaken your family! There is no hope!"
"I won't allow that kind of talk from you," Tyrank growled. "You haven't tried anything yourself, so don't get us started on hope."
Melocrie quietly joined Debhora's side and poked her arm. "Is that Roldin?" she whispered.
Debhora nodded. "He's really not letting us through," she whispered back. "Dylane and Tyrank are furious."
Melocrie sure had noticed. Tyrank scared here more now than he had done back in Ricarten. He didn't yell, like Dylane, but instead his eyes were fixed, almost burning. Melocrie shivered by remembering his words from before: 'I will even wound him if I have to'.
"Give up, Tyrank," Roldin said. "You're outnumbered compared to my guild. We're not going to let you pass."
"Give up?" Tyrank growled. Melocrie could see the fire in his eyes. "Give up? Is that what you said? We had pledged long ago that we would never give! Doesn't that mean anything to you?"
"That was so long ago." Roldin sighed and thought for a second. "This isn't about honor and pride, Tyrank. This is about death or life."
"Yes, it is," Tyrank said. "Death or life of the people that we set out to save."
"If we don't try," Dylane said, trying to stay calm, "we'll leave them to die, if they're alive."
"If, indeed," Roldin said. "You don't know."
"We don't know unless we try!" Dylane yelled.
"Calm yourself," Tyrank said and lay a hand on Dylane's shoulder. "Roldin, we must. Whether you understand or not; we must."
Melocrie swallowed and thought of everything she had just heard. Of course they had to try. Anger grew inside her. She had been sick of people trying to stop her. And indeed whether Roldin understood or not, they was absolutely no going back.
"We are going through," Tyrank said and now stood only an inch away from the Pike. "Even if that means I will have to fight you all with my bare hands."
"Me too," Dylane said and stepped forward.
Urani and Kayleigh nodded together. "We're in."
"As am I," said Debhora.
Melocrie swallowed. "Me too!" she said, trying to keep her voice steady.
Roldin's eyes watched the party one by one, and then they rested on Melocrie. For a second, his eyes grew wide and he looked back at Tyrank.
"Falcorra?" he asked.
Tyrank nodded. "Falcorra."
Melocrie had no idea what they were talking about. She looked up at Debhora, but the Atlanta's look was steadily focused on the Pike.
"I don't know..." Roldin muttered. "Are you sure about this?"
Tyrank nodded. "Positive."
Roldin looked again at Melocrie, and she felt herself a little uncomfortable. Yet, she tried to look steadily like the rest of her party. Fylla sat on top of a pillar looking down at them.
"Very well," Roldin sighed eventually. "I will take you to the entrance to the Forgotten Land, where my men are waiting. There we will continue to discuss these matters."
Tyrank nodded again, without saying a word. Then he turned to the party. "You'd better all prepare yourselves."
The party agreed and Debhora guided Melocrie inside, where she sat her down on a bench.
"Is Roldin really going to let us through?" Melocrie asked, still a little confused.
"Hard to say," Urani answered, as he packed some food. "Roldin is a tough as Tyrank. This isn't over yet."
"They can't just send us back home," Kayleigh said. She sounded upset.
"There's lots of hope." Debhora handed Melocrie something to drink. "I wish those Lunan men could just see it."
"I've never seen Dylane so angry before," Melocrie noticed. "And Tyrank sort of gave me the chills..."
Urani laughed. "Yes, he's a nice guy, that Tyrank. But you don't want to make him angry."
Melocrie smiled. She sure had noticed before.
"And Dylane is just a little rash," Kayleigh said. "He's easy to anger, even though you wouldn't say so."
That really sounded familiar to Melocrie.
"Are you all ready?" Cage asked, when they all stood outside after an hour.
"We are," Tyrank said. "Are you sure you're coming with us?"
Cage nodded. "I've been sent here to guide you to Navisko. And that's what I'm going to do. I'm not letting some random Pikeman stand in my way."
"I hope he heard," Dylane grinned, still a little angry.
After another few minutes, Melocrie followed the party at Kayleigh's side, as they set off to join Roldin. She looked around a bit as they left the Ancient Dungeon and waved back at Grain. The Cursed Land seemed to be a little spookier than when they arrived. Melocrie's breath stopped when they passed a huge skeleton, halfly covered in the sand. It was of something with a point face and large jaws. Quickly she shook her head and turned away from it.
Roldin lead the party to the south, with Tyrank next to him. Even though, the two men didn't say a word to each other. Dylane was still muttering to himself and sometimes looked up at the Pike with a rinkle in his forehead. Urani and Debhora were talking to Cage about their former events, and Kayleigh was telling Melocrie about the Lunan Guild. Fylla soared just over their heads on the watch.
"They used to be different, the Lunans," Kayleigh said quietly. "They used to be a clan who accepted the most dangerous, but important, missions for Priston. Tyrank and Cage were in there too, and they and Roldin were best friends. When their ideas changed over time, Tyrank left the clan when Roldin said he wanted to prevent missions, instead of taking them."
"But why?" Melocrie asked.
"We're not sure. We think maybe something happened to Roldin that made him change his mind. But we are sure it has something to do with Navisko. That's the only place he won't let people go to. Any other dangerous place is okay by him, just not Navisko."
"I wonder what it is..." Melocrie said. "Those things they claim to see, what made him change his ways."
"Remember, Melocrie," Kayleigh said urgent. "Compared to Navisko, the journey behind us had been easy. That city is nothing like anything else, don't underestimate the danger. And never believe anything you see or hear. You must look deep down inside to know what's right and wrong."
Melocrie really appreciated these words from the priestess, and she nodded thankfully. "I will."
When the sun was sinking, Roldin came to a halt in a ruined temple and turned around.
"It's not far," he said to the party. "If we hurry, we can reach the Forgotten Land before midnight."
"Are you saying we should travel through here in the dark?" Urani asked, frowning. "Are you insane?"
"We have little choice," Roldin said, keeping his temper. "We must join with my guild today."
"You make sure then we won't get hurt," Tyrank said. "Since that's what you want to do so badly."
Roldin said nothing, but nodded. He set off again and Melocrie and the others followed.
"They really aren't fond of him, are they?" she whispered to Kayleigh.
The priestess shook her head. "Can you blame them? Roldin might not be a bad guy. But then he is a good guy with bad decisions."
"And that's not the best either." Melocrie understood.
It was almost dark when in the distance, Melocrie could see the soft lights of campfires and torches. A large group of men and woman, maybe a hundred of them, were surrounding the fires, drinking and eating. There were poles stuck in de sand with banners and flags, with the symbol on it of a yellow moon and a black wolverine. A party came running to them to greet Roldin, and leaded them to their camp. Melocrie was amazed by how friendly the Lunans were. It seemed that Kayleigh and Debhora had noticed it too, for they greeting everyone back with surprise. But Urani and Dylane were to stubborn to admit it, and answered all questions shortly. In the meanwhile, Cage and Tyrank were meeting with some old friends.
"Can you prepare a tent these travellers?" Roldin asked a small woman with an axe.
The woman nodded and took Melocrie by the hand. "This way," she said enthousiastic. "I'm sure we already have one open."
Melocrie looked surprised at Debhora and they both laughed. Urani and Dylane became grumpier with each happy greet. Finally, they had settled themselves in a great tent, and Flora, for that's what the woman's called, brought them some dinner and left them in private.
"Everyone's so nice," Melocrie said as first. "I really had not expected that."
"Me neither," Debhora laughed. "I figured them more to be like Roldin or Tyrank."
"Me too," said Kayleigh.
"They're with too many," Dylane complained. "Too many cheerful people on a small piece of land."
"On top of that," Urani muttered, "with are outnumbered, like Roldin said. I'm now getting worried about the possibility to cross..."
"Wouldn't they understand?" Melocrie asked puzzled. "I mean, with them being so nice and all."
"The outside can be decieving," Urani said simply.
Like a half an hour passed when Tyrank and Cage came to join them. They both looked weary, especially Tyrank. Dylane looked at him closely and heaved a sigh.
"What is it now?" he asked.
"The people here are having some trouble," Tyrank said while taking his dinner. "Another clan is near here, with not so many good intentions."
"The reason people are nice," Cage continued, "is because they fear we might join with those."
"I knew it!" Urani said. "People are never nice with no reason."
"But what clan is out there then?" Debhora asked.
"The Koltans," Tyrank said and took a bite.
"Oh man, that's not good," Dylane said, and Melocrie shivered when she heard fear in his voice.
"Who are they?" she asked, he voice was trembling just a little.
"Exilers," Cage said. "More exiled than these people. The Koltan believe they are ascendants of the Midranda and the Galantia, for they share the same ideas and values." He laughed weakly. "They only linger in the past."
"Either that or they're just plain crazy," Dylane said. "Midranda and Galantia. All the people who are learned so lessons gather and join with the Koltans."
"Are they really that bad?" Melocrie wanted to know, but she asked carefully.
"Like I said," said Kayleigh, "Lunans are good people with bad decisions. But the Koltans are bad people with bad decisions."
"Well said," praised Urani and drank some more.
"Who's their leader?" Debhora asked.
"Yiro," said Tyrank. "And he's not pretty."
"But let's not worry about that right now," Cage sighed. "It's already late. We'll discuss it in the morning."
The party fully agreed and made their beds ready. Melocrie called Fylla from outside, but there was no response. She looked around a bit and found her kestrel sitting on one of the poles, staring toward the Forgotton Land.
"Fylla?" Melocrie stepped closer and stroke the kestrel over her feathers. "What's wrong?"
Fylla turned around and chipped wearily. She jumped onto her mistress' shoulder and Melocrie laughed.
When they got back in the tent, everything was ready for the night. She tucked herself in tightly and closed her eyes. As the noises around her from the camp died away, a red light became visible and there was the Figon again, with Fylla by its side. A face flashed by, and another one, all covered... in blood! Melocrie shocked awake and found that she was breathing heavily. Her heart pounded in her throat as the last red face vanished from her mind. She quickly shoook her head and swallowed. Fylla had woken up and Melocrie hugged her tightly. That face.. she knew who it was. It... was Kayleigh.
The next morning Melocrie was woken up and startled when she saw Kayleigh's actual face.
"It's only me!" Kayleigh said, trying to calm her.
Melocrie had no further time to recover, because outside she heard upset voices again, but this time it's was yelling, mixed with the rattling sound of metal. She swallowed and quickly stood up.
"What's going on?"
"It's the Koltans!" Urani said as he hastily picked his staff and stormed outside.
"Hurry!" Kayleigh said and took Melocrie by the arm.
Outside, Melocrie found a large crowd, yelling and screaming something. Kayleigh pulled her through the people where they found Tyrank and Dylane, screaming as well. They all stood in a circle and in the middle were two people fighting, with Fylla screeching overhead. The one was Roldin, and the other one was much bigger and wielded a great, broad sword. He grinned as he knocked Roldin to the floor, one time after the other. On the other side of the circle, stood a man with a scarred face, black hair tight in a knot on his head, and with a large, silver scythe. He had an insane smile on his face. Melocrie's heart seemed to stop when the large man hit Roldin on the back with his axe, but thank the gods he wore a thick armor. Roldin fell to the floor and the man kicked him in the stomach.
"Yiro!" Tyrank screamed. "Make him stop!"
The scarred man laughed loudly, as did the crowd behind him. They all looked much more sinister than the Lunans, and Melocrie understood that they were the Koltans.
"Seize this madness!" Dylane yelled. "What do you want?"
"I want him to suffer," said Yiro.
Melocrie started to tremble and stood closer to Kayleigh as if she tried to hide herself. She was afraid of that Yiro, very afraid. He seemed like a monster himself, especially his eyes, for they shone purple. She could feel tension and anger all around her, and feared for Roldin. Hurting for pleasure wasn't something she was used to see, and seeing the Pike suffer like that, she felt like she wanted to step in and help. But of course, she couldn't, Melocrie knew this. For if Tyrank wouldn't even step in, then there was definately nothing she could do.
"I can't take this anymore," Urani said through clenched teeth.
Debhora stepped up to him to stop him from doing anything stupid. Melocrie tried to control herself as well, but the anger was overwhelming. After Roldin had taken a few more hits and was unable to even sit up, Yiro raised his hand and the fighting stopped. The large man with the axe pointed at his defeated enemy and laughed loudly, while the other Koltans joined him.
"Consider this a warning," Yiro said to the Lunans. "One more step in our area, and you will be left leaderless."
Then he turned and motioned his own army to leave. No one did anything, no one tried to stop him. As they marched away, no one said a word. Only when they had vanished from sight to the Forgotten Lands, Tyrank quickly kneeled by his friend and the muttering started. Melocrie couldn't take it and joined at Tyrank's side.
"Roldin." Tyrank took his friend in his arms. "Roldin, say something!"
Roldin moaned and open his eyes. Slowly his lips moved. "This... is why, Tyrank..." he said with much difficulty. "D-.. don't let my people die..." His eyes fell closed and a gasps of fear shot from the crowd. Tyrank lifted his friend from the ground, and without saying a word, he carried him to their tent. The people made way for him, and everyone wanted to help, but Tyrank walked straight through without looking at anyone.
Melocrie could not believe what just happened. She was still horrified by the mere memory. A cruel world it seemed. Melocrie couldn't believe she had not understood before. As she stood up as watched the crowd moving around, she just couldn't believe she used to think that all people had changed since the war. She had hear tales of the Midranda and the Galantia. And if those people were true reflections, that it seemed much worse than she had thought. Maybe it hadn't been such a good idea after all, leaving Ricarten for Navisko. Never before she had feared so badly of being killed. Watching Roldin get hurt was as she was waken up from a dream. Perhaps mother was right after all.
But then again, hopes had been high so far. They wouldn't let the Lunans stop them, so why would they do that with the Koltans? Melocrie sighed. It was like back home: Just because one bully and his group stood in the away, didn't mean they aren't allowed to do their stuff.
"Oh Melocrie!" It was Kayleigh who embraced her. She was trembling all over. "I'm so sorry you had to see that!"
Melocrie noticed that she was trembling too and hugged the priestess back. Tears suddenly shot in her eyes and she tried to fight them.
"Are you two okay?" Dylane asked. His voice sounded unstable.
"It's so horrible!" Melocrie cried out. She couldn't control herself any longer and released herself from Kayleigh as she stared at Dylane. "They're like monsters! Why did they do that?"
Dylane sadly shook his head. "The people told me they have taken over Navisko. That's why the Lunan won't let us cross. If they do, then the Koltan will destroy them."
"That's terrible..." Kayleigh said. "What should we do now?"
"I don't know," Dylane said. "Believe me... I don't know."
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