“It is good to see you again old friend. But I most warn you... you have brought danger to our gates. Great danger.”
“I apologize Narias, but I felt it was the only way.”
“No matter, no matter, old friend. I understand your... compassions.”
“And what of the boy and the old man?”
“In the infirmary, as I am sure you are aware of. But their conditions at this point remain unknown to me. The boy though... he seemed to have been a bit shaken up, as I assume he should be.
“Yes, their city was attacked.”
“So I understand. Durnshire... Is it? Yes...well... this is something we have been waiting for, for a very long time. It was only a matter of time before they decided to come out of hiding and attack again. Just as we have been waiting to remerge one day, reclaiming what was taken from us. In those days the demons destroyed everything in their wake. Our kingdoms uprooted...their leaders destroyed. I'm only lucky to have made it out myself, as are the people of this sanctum.” The elder ranted.
“But no matter. Pardon me for my rudeness you four. But as it stands all unknown newcomers are required to wear blindfolds before approaching our borders, and as you can see... it's become quite difficult to trust anyone these days. But, you are welcome to remove them if you'd like. I trust any friend of Maedoc's is a friend of mine.”
With sudden relief, Keira and Thomas slowly pulled away their blindfolds unveiling their eyes to the dim candlelit room. Narias's gaze remaining focused upon her with an utmost curiosity. His eyes filled with shock as she pulled the handkerchief away from her face, revealing her identity.
“Could it really be? The Gatekeeper? Child of Callynndria Callowmere?” The elder stared in aww. “Tell me child, what is your name?”
“Keira sir... Keira Blakely.” she spoke softly as she examed the Elder's face. He was a tall, thin, older looking man, dressed in a long red and white robe that brushed gently against the solid stone of the marble floor. A short slivery- gray beard falling from the sides of his narrow chin.
Keira studied the room. It was large and round. A stone-cast chamber that stretched three stories in height. Large glass-stained windows decorated the back walls of the chamber just beyond the elder's stone craved throne.
Tall, iron candelabras dripping with ivory wax candles lit the room of its many books. Where several flooded shelves stretched across the length of the room. And above them, on both sides of the chamber stood two other rooms. Over-looking the chamber as a whole were the faces of silent, inexpressive guards, who hovered over them behind the veil of red, and gold threaded drapes hung high across the archways of their entry.
“Narias was no ordinary councilman; he was one of the few great leaders left.”Keira realized as her attention fell back onto the man who approached her. His mouth hung down in shock and amazement, as if seeing the ghost of a distant memory; his hand outstretched in urge to touch the delicate features of her face.
“Astonishing.” the man whispered to himself in amazement. “Just astonishing.” His hand grazing inches over several locks of her chestnut hair. He circled around her once, then twice, still consumed by the amazement by her presence. “She looks so much like...”
“Like her mother.” interrupted Thomas.
“Thomas? Is that you?” the elder replied as he turned to recognize the voice that had spoken from a shadowy corner in the room. “Had I known that were you standing there all this time, there would have been no such need for blindfolds. It's been to long time old friend. It's good to see you again.”
“So I assume it was you, who's care the child was under all these years? And I assume this is the reason for the city's attack?”
“Yes. It was Thomas who was charged with Keira's care.” Maedoc replied calmly.
The Elder's attention refocused once more upon Keira's face; the ghost of a near forgotten past.
“So she has finally become of age then, amazing. I apologize for my staring...,” the elder spoke as he shook his head to clear his mind. “But after the attacks of long ago I had assumed that the likeliness of this day... the likelihood of this child's survival, would be slim to none. But this... this is a momentous occasion indeed.”
“Narias forgive me for interrupting, but there are still other matters at stake here. Durnshire is in ruins.”
“Yes...excuse my enthusiasm. This is not a day I had expected to see in my life-time. Please go on.” the elder gestured with a hand.
“And this was not the first attack to occur.” Maedoc continued.
“There have been others?”
“Just one. On the day of Keira's arrival she, Thomas, and Phillip were attacked on the bridge of the Duskmere Forest... a flame sylph.”
“A flame sylph?”
“We believe it may be possible that the Shade is helping to direct their attacks.” Thomas interjected. “It's uncharacteristic of the Sylph to come well past their borders. And to venture so far into distance lands more than once, leads me to believe that there must be something more behind it.”
“Yes... I see what you mean old friend.” Narias replied.
“And there is one more thing...the city of Durnshire, the city that they have chosen to attack... is Keira's home. We believe her family have gone missing, surviving the initial wave. Our intent is to help them, and save what we can of the other survivors.” Maedoc continued.
“Please... Sir!” Keira interrupted. “Durnshire is my home. And the Blakely's... the family I was risen with are in danger. I need your help.”
“Oh, I see...” the elder dropped his head in thought, his fingers pinching at the sides of his chin as he paced.
“Please sir... I beg of you! Let me do what I can to save what is left of my family.”
“Forgive me Narias. I realize that in asking this of you, I might as well be asking you to expose the existence of our city. But I can see of no other way.” Maedoc interrupted.
“There is no need for apologizes dear friend.” the elder assured him. “As I have said before... this is something we have been waiting for, for a very long time. Very well!” the elder replied. “You will assemble a group of guardsmen and wielders to escort you, and ensure your safety. And when you return from your rescue in Durnshire you will take cover under the camouflage of the eastern tree line... but be careful!
“The tree line is the only cover these lands have to offer you. It is safe to assume they will have a trap waiting there for you when you return, so be on your guard. Keep a sharp eye, stay close together, and don't stop for anything.
“I will remain here to ensure that the entrances' of the south and southeastern tunnels have been heavily guarded. Once you've reached our borders make sure you direct the remaining survivors to the southeastern entrance. They will take cover under the flow of the waterfalls. This should give us enough time to get the survivors in through the tunnel entrances' without being detected.
“But you'll have to be quick. Once all the remaining survivors have entered the tunnels, my wielders will have them closed off permanently. Afterwards you will fall back towards the main gate. This way... if the Sylph or the Shade decide to go venturing towards our borders... they will only find rock and dirt. No entrances will be left unfolded. Do you understand? “From that point, you will direct all the remaining survivors towards the infirmary. We will figure out what to do from there.”
“Thank you Narias! Thank you!” Keira praised the old man as she clasped her arms around him in a warm embrace.
“No child, it is you that I should thank. Your presence has brought hope to an accursed existence that had once seemed indefinite. It is my pleasure to serve the gatekeeper, and to serve your mother.”
“How soon do you think we can have men up and ready to go? Questioned Thomas.
“Leave that to me.” replied Rozlend.