Langhorne's Interlude (2nd draft preview)

Langhorne's Interlude (2nd draft preview)

A Chapter by Johnzo

For the 2nd draft, I thought it would fill things out a bit to clue the reader into where Langhorne disappears to for so long.

Langhorne sat on the bed there in that curious room just waiting for his host to return.  It must be nearly 8 o’clock.  He thought.  He knew Bregory would be back soon, and though he was sure he didn’t want to have an extended stay in the Wastes, it didn’t seem like there was any viable means of escape at this point.  
It was impossible to sleep in such a place, so he tried to keep himself busy as best he could.  He had dressed himself in the provided garb Bregory had pointed out.  It was a similar cut suit to the one Bregory had on, but more of a dull neutral color and a bit more utilitarian in appearance.  Other than that Langhorne had passed the time wondering how Hildegras the the scouts were fairing on their way back to Smisom.  That and of course trying to figure out what the Outcasts wanted with him there.  The comfortable and well-kept room, the clean and pressed linens, it still didn’t make any sense to him.  
Just when he thought he was going to drive himself mad with all the possibilities cycling through his mind, there came a knock at the door.  Without hesitation the door opened.
“Ah!  Good, you are ready.  If you’ll come with me.”  Bregory leaned through the doorway and gestured slightly with one hand.  
“Of course.”  Said Langhorne standing up from the bed and approached the door.  As he did so the lighting in his room quickly dimmed to black.  
“Right this way, please.”  
The two walked down the hallway.  This was the first time Langhorne had the use of his eyes in the hall, so he made sure to observe intently.  The surroundings were surprisingly sterile.  Every twenty feet or so there was another door like the one Langhorne had just exited from.  The paint was the same across the walls, doors and even the ceiling, a bland beige color.  The floor was carpeted, and was a slightly darker hue.  In fact the only thing noteworthy about the hallway was that there was nothing particularly noteworthy.    
After a minute of walking they came to a slightly different door that had a single round glass window in it’s center.  Bregory opened it led Langhorne up a stairwell. This led to another very similar hallway, which they followed all the way to the end.  
At the end of this hallway was another door with a single round window in it.  Bregory opened this door which revealed a kind of mess hall.  There were several tables and chairs, and what appeared to a kitchen visible through a half and counter at the far left wall of the room.  
Bregory led the way into the room, which was otherwise unoccupied then stopped and turned to address Langhorne.  “Well, we do have a few minutes before your companions arrive.  If you have any questions, I’d be more than happy to try and answer any questions you may have.”  
Langhorne hardly knew where to begin.  If he were to ask something too specific he might not understand the answer, too broad and he not gain any useful information.  Finally he decided.  “What is the Trust?”
“A fair question, seeing as how you are it’s newest member.  The Trust is… simply put, a collection of minds.  A group of individuals whose usefulness has been proven time and time again.”
“And have all of these minds been taken forcefully and blindfolded as I have?”
“Oh not so.  Many of them came willingly.  Those with the strongest desire to excel anyway.”  
Langhorne thought for a moment.  Things still did not at all add up to what his expectations of the Wastes would be.  He formed another question. “What exactly is the Trust used for?”
“Well it varies depending on the given focus at the time.  But planning, designing, topography work, strategizing etc, etc.  All would be fair game I suppose.”  
Still feeling confused, Langhorne decided to me more direct.  “But to what end?  Why do all those things, what is the goal?”
“Well there Langhorne, I’m afraid I can’t just dole out all our secrets.  After all you haven’t even been fully initiated, though that should be remedied by the end of the day.”  Bregory winked as he looked beyond Langhorne’s shoulder.  “Ah, Scenario, Logistics please do come in.  We have your newest recruit.  Rott seems to think he’ll be of the upmost use.  I’ll leave you three to get accompanied.”  Bregory bowed slightly and left the room.  
As he did two more men entered in his stead.  One was shorter with glasses and the other of average height with an entirely bald head.  Both were wearing suits very similar to Langhorne both in cut and color.  
“Good morning Langhorne.  Welcome.”  Said the taller bald one.  “They call me Logistics around here.”  He extended a hand.  
Langhorne met the gesture as the shorter man spoke.  “As Bregory said, I am called Scenario.”  
“Interesting names.”  Said Langhorne, slightly furrowing his brow.  
“Nick names of course, though you may have guessed that.”  Said Logistics.  
“Just about everyone in here has one, you’ll get yours before too long.”  Sneered Scenario, adjusting his glasses as he appeared to be sizing up the man they were to induct.  
“Please, let’s have a seat.”  Logistics led them to a rectangular table.  He had Langhorne sit across from he and his partner.  As they sat he produced a folder containing what appeared to be a bevy of documents.  
“We’ve been told briefly on how you came here, an interesting story.”  Said Logistics.  
“And lucky too.”  Chided Scenario.  
“In any case, it was enough to infer a bit of your background.  Tell me, what do you make of this.”  Logistics slid a piece of paper across for Langhorne to look at.
“Looks like a terrain map of sorts.  Land elevations, that sort of thing.”
“Anything else?”
“Judging from this long ridge here, I’d say this where the area to the north and west of Mez.  Maybe about half a mile north.  Why?”
“It seems what we’ve inferred is accurate.”  Logistics smiled.  
“But we’ve got enough map guys.”  Said Scenario.  
“There are enough that can read maps, but not so many that have actually walked in the places the maps were drawn from.  Sit tight.”  Said Logistics.  He brought out another map, this one much larger.  He unfolded it and again slid it across the table.  “Could you trace a walkable route between Mez and Jehd on the east coast?”
Langhorne took a deep breathe unsure how long he wanted to be answer these sorts of questions before he really knew what they were up to.   
“Though if you can’t, I’m sure Rott would love speak with you when he returns.”  Said Scenario.  
Not wishing to aggregate the situation, he began to trace his finger along the map.  
“Be sure to avoid the Daemon Cliffs.”  Cautioned Logistics.  “We’ve been spotted there one too many times.”  
Langhorne paused.  After a second he pointed out a trail that sort of zig-zagged here and there towards the north east.  “It’s not exactly walkable.  But a group of hearty men could make there here.  Some free climbing would be necessary, there’s a lot of broken ground and jagged cliffs that way.  It’s doable.  Though why not just take a carrier?”
The two men hummed with a slight chuckle.  “Well I suppose we should cover that subject next.”  Said Logistics.  “How would you like to stay here with us, use your talents with a group of the brightest minds ever assembled?”
“You know how I came in here.  Do you think I really have a choice?”  Langhorne leaned back while folding his arms.  He looked intently at the men to try and gauge where this was heading.  
“We have a rule: The exit is always available.  Though…”  Scenario paused.  “You may not like where that way leads you.”
“Let’s be coy gentlemen.”  Langhorne leaned in a bit.  “I don’t care what kind of thing you’ve got going here, I know what you’ve done to the town of Mez.  And there were a lot of good people there.  So unless you’ve got some kind of explanation, I can’t think of a single reason why I would want to stick around.”  
Logistics and Scenario looked at each other with eyebrows raised.  “It seems you cut us to the quick.”  Said Logistics.  “You’ve seen Mez, have you?”
“You know I have.”
“And what do you think would stop us from doing the same to Smisom?”  
“What could stop us, it’s more like.”  Added Scenario.  
“So that’s what’s going on here.  Conquest?”
“Don’t think in such puerile terms Langhorne, please.  The motivations of what you call the Outcasts are much broader in scope.  We are out to change the world.”  Said Logistics.  
“I’ve seen your handiwork.  Am I supposed to be impressed?”  Langhorne nearly scoffed.  
“Just a means to an end!”  Said Scenario, getting irritated.  
“I won’t partner with war-makers.”  Langhorne was adamant and paused while making eye contact with both men.  “I”m a peace-keeper.”
Logistics covered his eyes with his hand while rubbing across his eyebrows with thumb and fore-finger.  He let out a long sigh.  “If I may be blunt...  We’re offering you a deal.  We need resources.  We need land and we need supplies.  Smisom would be an easy target.  It’s nearby and acts as a supply thru-way to the other northeastern towns.  Make no mistake, we will obtain the resources we need by any means necessary.  In payment for your services, we would be willing to go through other means.  I’m sure even our highest ranking leaders would give you a full guarantee in this agreement.”
“You mean Rott?”  Asked Langhorne.  
“Rott wants you here, that much you should have figured out already.  This situation was actually his idea.”  Said Logistics.    
“I can’t let you destroy any more towns.”
“And perhaps you won’t have to.”  Logistics voice began to seem a little more optimistic.  
“What can tell us about the mine system outside of Mez?  Are there more known mineral deposits than were currently being mined?”  Asked Scenario.  
“I used to know one of the mine foremen.  I can probably help you there.  Though you could have asked him yourself if you hadn’t killed him.”
“Our front lines do get hectic, Langhorne.  Surely that’s something you can understand.  Does this mean you’re willing to stay?”
“It seems I don’t have much choice.  And I have your word Smisom will be unharmed?”
“Completely.  Do not worry.  So long as we have your faithful service.”
Langhorne grunted a begrudged confirmation.  
“Great!  Now let’s look at those maps from Mez’s mines.”  Said Scenario, rifling through a series of papers with a grin.  “What can you tell us about this particular area?”  He tapped a finger on an area on the north west edge of Mez.  
Langhorne mumbled as he leaned in to look over the map.  I shouldn’t be here.  He thought.  His every movement and breath felt conflicted, and yet at the same time he couldn’t bear the though of seeing Smisom, his town, destroyed.  “I’ve been told there’s another rich pocket of ore* in a few of these shafts.  There the furthest out from town, that’s the only reason I’ve heard they haven’t been fully tapped yet.”
Scenario continued his questioning as he brought out map after map.  After nearly half and hour he sat back and began re-stacking all of them back into a single pile.  Letting out a breathe of satisfaction, he turned to Logistics.  “We’ll be able to double focus our mining teams now.  We’ll have no problem meeting production quota.”
“Excellent.”  Said Logistics.  At that moment a handful of kitchen workers appeared in the room.  They appeared to be setting up for a late morning meal.  “Well Mr. Langhorne.  I do believe this is a start to a very mutually beneficial arrangement.  Feel free to get some food, it’s usually quite good.  And we’ll come find you again as we need you.”
“What am I supposed to do in the time?”  Langhorne puzzled.  “Just wait?”
“Relax, visit the other departments in the Trust, whatever you wish.”  Answered Logistics.  
“Though don’t get too comfortable, we might be taking a trip soon.”  Added Scenario.  
“To where?”  Asked Langhorne.  
“More on that later.  It’s not even for certain, we’re waiting for Rott to send word on this new find.  In any case however, welcome to the Trust.”

© 2011 Johnzo

Author's Note

Sorry if the spacing is too small between paragraphs, that's just how it pastes in from Scrivener. Any comments welcome.

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Added on September 5, 2011
Last Updated on September 5, 2011



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