Chapter Twenty-One - The Cave of Lachlan Torqe

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A WEARINESS GRIPPED GEORGE, but he could not settle again. He closed his eyes and tried, but sleep would not come. In the end, he lay there staring up at the stars. Watching them slowly fade away as a new dawn crept over the horizon.

Time after time the vision of Meriol being torn apart by the daemon creature played out in his head.

Was it a portent of things to come?

Did the creature really have Meriol?

The daemon told him that the way to save her was to help it.

What exactly did it mean by that?

He shivered and pulled his cloak tighter around himself.

Was the daemon, even now, watching them from somewhere close.

Beside him, Stryker stirred and sat up. A splashing from the lake had drawn his attention. George stood and stretched, working the kinks from his muscles.

Tayn stood by the water's edge watching the wolves eat and drink. Earlier he and Cadoc hunted and killed some deer like animals. They were not large but would sate the wolves hunger for a while.

'Come, drink some tea,' Malin called from beside the dying embers of the fire. 'We must be on our way soon.'

George took the cup of steaming liquid he was offered and sipped at it.

'Do you think she is still alive?' he asked.

'It is possible,' the Elven Captain replied. 'But who knows what levels the daemon will sink to. It will seek out your weaknesses and use them against you.'

'It wanted my help,' George said gravely. 'In return, we get the Princess back unharmed.'

Valen Altard looked at him sympathetically. 'And do you believe it George? This bloodthirsty horror can twist your thoughts; make you accept what it shows you is the truth. We have no proof that it has the Princess. And even if it does, it will kill her and all of us when it gets the artifacts.'

George nodded slowly.

He accepted some of what they were saying. But even so, the nagging possibility that the daemon had shown him the truth still persisted. If so he would do everything he could to save Meriol and stop the creature from returning its race to the surface world.

'The Key Stones... can you sense their presence?' Malin was asking.

The Spellcaster shook his head.

'I am sorry, nothing... but we know it to be hidden somewhere within the Towers of Mais Anar.' He pointed off to where the tall spires reached into a dark forbidding sky. 'We need to get closer, I can then cast a seeking spell to point us in the right direction.'

'Come then let us depart,' Malin insisted.

Ominous black clouds started to gather above them and it started to rain. A sudden heavy shower that blew across the surface of the lake. The party quickly collected their possessions and rode into the forest once more.

Except for the pit-a-pat of raindrops high above it was still and silent beneath the tree canopy. The forest seemed to be holding its breath; as if to see how their quest was going to play out. For once there was nothing to hinder them and the wolves were able to make good progress. Soon they found themselves on the edge of a clearing near the foot of one of the towers.

Malin jumped down from Raze's back and studied the surroundings.

He glanced up at Altard. 'Anything...?'

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