Chapter Nine: Chosen of Destiny

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       Tauren and Detrick gazed about the room in amazement; the room was huge, hundreds of yards long, and every inch of it was covered in glowing moss and plants. Tauren heard sounds among the low shrubbery, the sounds of small animals running from them in fright, a sound he was used to in the forest.

   Suddenly they froze, at the far end of the room were the figures of at least twenty men, all standing, behind them a massive, moss covered throne with yet another figure seated in it. Tauren whipped an arrow to the string of his bow, but Detrick put a hand on his arm.

   “I don’t think they’re alive.” He whispered, the tone seeming appropriate for this room, this tomb.

   Tauren stopped himself, and saw that his friend was correct, the men at the far side of the room were covered in moss, only glints of their armor and ready weapons, and they were frozen. 

   Then he noticed something else about them, there were two lines of men, standing opposite each other, swords, axes, and assorted weapons readied as though they were in the process of killing each other when they had been frozen.

   Then he noticed something else, and it all fell into place.” This was the throne room”, he whispered,” Half of those men there are Halavardes, they attacked those others. That’s the king in the throne there I’d wager. And then . . . “He trailed off, not sure what had happened next.

   Detrick shifted and sighed.” And then they froze.” He looked sad.

   By silent agreement, they kept their weapons ready as they paced across the moss to the other side of the room, trying to keep the sound at a minimum so as not to disturb the echo’s caused by the massive room whose roof simply went into darkness, fading out of reach out of the soft moss-light.

   Tauren stopped next to one of the men and carefully edged around him, pulling his cloak with him so as not to get it caught on the mans lowered spear. He appeared to have been in the process of giving a heavy stab at the man facing him, his face, clear of moss, was clean shaven, and savage, lips curled back, eyes filled with hatred.

   A corner of his cloak showed through the moss on his back identifying him as a Halavarde.

   Detrick scraped a handful of moss from one of the defenders faces, reverently, as though not wanting to de-sanctify the dead. He sighed.” I think I believe that this is that Arluine you mentioned. I’ve never seen this coat-of-arms; this place is huge, magical, and it is completely inexplicable that I’ve never heard of it before.”

   Tauren shook his head.” But why haven’t you? I grew up with Arrels, I don’t doubt they told me the truth, but I’m certain they withheld something. My grandfather did too.” He felt a flash of anger, why would they do that?”  Do they want to forget the past? The always told me that the past makes the present. . . . Are they that ashamed of the present?”

   “Or afraid of the past”, Suggested Detrick grimly,” the way these men froze, I’d bet that it took a while for this castle to fall apart and all this moss to grow. They could have been dead since the castle was destroyed.” 

   Tauren frowned.” Maybe they’re not dead? Just frozen.”

   Detrick shook his head.” We are dealing with magic, so who knows.

   Tauren shook his head in frustration.” They’ve been out of life for a while now; I doubt it will make any difference with us passing through. They’ll just sleep on till the end of time. There’s not really anything we can do.”

   “Other than find answers for all this.” Detrick added.” I’d give a lot right now to know a bit more about this place and what was going on here when this happened.”

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