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Infinity Gate-Chapter Two

Infinity Gate-Chapter Two

A Chapter by Kessira26
"

In a far, far future possibly our own humanity is pushed to desperation by the death of their planet and the Arren family offers them a hope. New life in new colonies in parallel dimensions.

"

Chapter 2

A few hours later Arden and Grae were winding their way up a steep mountain trail. They would take the hunting trail northwest, until it met up with the Great Northern Road, right before it climbed over Lost Goat Pass. Then they could follow the Great Northern all the way to Cross Roads, and beyond that to Sine Harbor where Ash lived, the largest city on Sola and trade hub for merchants travelling through the Gates.

"Do you think we'll run into snow in the pass?" Grae questioned Arden.

"We might, we're a bit early and the caravans haven't passed through to clear it," Arden replied. "We'll have to move with caution," He added.

They travelled in silence for most of the day, enjoying an easy companionship. They'd spent much time together, working side by side, farming together, or combing the woods. Grae could fee a lonely sort of tension from his friend and he knew that Arden was worried for Corla.

They paused in a quiet wooded glade to rest the horses, and ate some food.

"Do you think you'll be able to find the merchant you need?" Grae's sudden question startled Arden, as he'd been lost in his thoughts.

"I'm guessing so, but I might need to go into the off colony sector," Arden answered turning his attention toward

Grae.

"Listen Grae, I don't want you following me in there, it wouldn't be safe," Arden cautioned. Grae was watching Arden intently, his eyes a little too bright.

"Why," he questioned, "are off-colonists so dangerous?"

"There are some  in that sector who deal in less savory trade, not here on Sola, but other places, slave trade and the like. I wouldn't like to expose you to that," Arden answered him. He was genuinely concerned. Grae was such a trusting young man, he'd be ripe pickings for the scum in that place.

"I mean it Grae, don't follow me in there. You don't want to know what happens."

Grae looked down for a moment at his food then answered softly, "I understand Arden".

They ate in silence for a few moments, the only sounds the whispering wind in the trees and the brook chattering away behind them.

Arden felt eyes upon him, and glanced up at his friend from under his eyelashes. Grae was staring at him with that too intent expression that always made Arden so uncomfortable. Slightly worshipful, slightly hungry, the look had come more and more often of late.

To distract them both Arden said "They like to find innocents, and either talk them into leaving off colony with them, or kidnap them and smuggle them off. They take them to turn into brothel slaves."

"What?" Grae exclaimed almost choking on his food. "Bro...brothels? But...they would only pick up women, right?"

"No Grae," Arden replied, "they would be quite happy to find an innocent young man such as yourself, and once you were off colony, once they had you in that brothel, there would be no escaping. On colonies other than Sola, you have no rights, no way to object." He gave his friend a stern look. "It's happened before."

"On Sola?" Grae asked in disbelief, his eyes very round.

"Yes, on Sola, though...it doesn't happen very often here," Arden admitted. "The Arren family's protection has long covered us, but it is growing thin of late."

"I thought the Charter gave us protection," Grae said, his voice rather small.

Arden could see that the boy had shrunk down on his seat, his shoulders hunched with fear, and Arden felt guilty. Getting up, Arden moved over to sit closer to him.

"The Charters make it clear what is allowed between colonies, and what the penalties will be for infractions, but it has always been the responsibility of the Arren Family to enforce that. Now the Arren family is very nearly gone. Only Lord Arren remains and he shows no sign of marrying and producing an heir. Once he passes, there will be none that remain that can control the Gates, and no authority left that all the colonies respect. When he dies, there will be nothing to stop a stronger colony from coming in and taking over Sola. Turning us all into slaves, or just killing us all, and using the land," Arden explained.

"Can the Gate not be destroyed before that happens?" Grae asked.

"Only Lord Arren has the ability to do so," Arden said "we possess no technology capable of destroying it ourselves."

"Has anyone asked Lord Arren to do it?" Grae questioned eagerly.

"I don't know for sure Grae," Arden answered, "but not everyone on Sola would want that," Arden paused a moment, to figure out how to put it in a way that Grae would understand.

"Just think" he explained finally "I'll be looking for trade off colony for Corla's weavings and I'm not the only one. There are plenty now who have become accustomed to off colony trade, and the goods that come to us from other places. The fireworks that we saw last Mid-summer festival, the chocolate your mother uses in your favorite pie. Even your Freya there wouldn't be possible if not for off colony imports. It may be true that we are safer alone but it's not an easy decision to cut ourselves off, and that's even assuming that Lord Arren would be willing to do it. From all accounts, the last of the Arren family is more than a bit mad. He might take offence at our asking, and destroy us instead of help us."

Grae looked confused and scared again, his narrow frame  hunched over slightly, his arms crossed against his stomach, so Arden decided he'd probably told him enough for now.

"Come Grae, lets travel on," He told his young friend. "It's no time for worrying about such things, we've got trail to cover."

They gathered the horses from where they'd been picketed grazing. As usual Freya objected to being interrupted while eating, but soon they had girths re-tightened and were on their way winding up the narrow path, following a ridge line west.

It was nearing evening when Arden abruptly pulled his horse up in the middle of the trail and motioned Grae forward.

"What is..." Grae trailed off as Arden motioned for silence. "Look," Arden whispered under his breath, "there in that tree."

Slowly he raised his hand from the reins to point at the top of a tall Douglas Fir.

Grae scanned the tree and spotted nothing, then he looked again and suddenly he could see it, high up among the upper branches a hawk sat.

"Look at the color of it's feathers!" Grae exclaimed, "I've never seen one like that".

"Neither have I," Arden replied, his eyes fixed on the bird, "wait...I think I have actually, but not in person, in a book about Old Earth. They called it a Red Tailed Hawk I think," He studied the bird again carefully. "Indeed, the coloring matches, particularly the tail".

"It's beautiful," Grae breathed.

"I didn't think any survived," Arden said turning to look at Grae. "They brought them, from Old Earth, but I'd read they didn't adapt".  He turned back to look at the bird again, but it was gone.

The hawk turned a big circle in the sky as it flew away from the noisy humans. The wind ruffled it's feathers as

it turned and headed down from the mountains. Beneath it, a bright sparkling creek cut a path through the trees as it bounced it's way over the rocks.

The hawk gave a lonely cry, and soared down, riding great currents of air. Soon it would reach the wide green of the valley floor and the plentiful game that lived there.

As the hawk reached the valley, something caught it's sharp gaze, a grey pall hanging on the horizon. As it flew on, it could discern great columns of smoke rising into the sky. The birds heart filled up with fear, and it desired to flee back to the mountains, but some unnatural curiosity drove it on. Suddenly great flickers of orange and new smoke plumes joined the others, much closer at hand. The bird wheeled towards the nearest and flew low to observe.

Ahead the nest of a human was bright with fire, smoke billowing out above it. The other nests built to hold their beasts were quiet, no signs of fire or smoke.

The bird could scent blood on the air, and once again it wished to flee for the mountains, only to be stayed by a pressing desire to see further.

Flying towards the blood scent, the hawk spotted a human lying on the grass soaked in blood. The bird scanned instantly for the predator that had killed it, but nothing was nearby. Further on, another body much smaller than the first lay half hidden in the tall grass and on seeing it, the bird let out a sudden scream, and wheeling bolted for the mountains.

Moonfeahr sat bolt upright in bed, one hand pressed to his scarred eye.

"A dream or a vision?" he asked himself. His whole head was throbbing with pain, and the pressure behind his eye promised it was only going to get worse. Never before had the visions invaded his dreams, but the events of the dream felt far too real to be anything but a vision.

Moving with exaggerated care, Moonfeahr stretched his lean young body, searching for  cramping shaking muscles. The visions always caused massive muscle spasms all over his body and the cramping and fatigue after could last for hours.

Normally moving would be the last thing he would choose to do but the visions had another effect. They left a clear mark and sign in his eye whenever one occurred, and this morning, he wanted to see that proof.

His twisted thigh ached as he swung his legs cautiously over the side of the bed, but no worse than most mornings. He reached for his cane, kept propped beside his bed, and slowly pushed himself up to his feet.

The tremors started as soon as he was upright. "This must have been a vision!" he thought to himself.  Moonfeahr had been having the visions for eight years now, ever since his brutal mauling, and the scarring of his right eye, but never before had his vision come through the eyes of a beast.

He started his way across the room, his goal the ornately framed mirror on the other wall. Each step was more torturous than the last, as his tremors increased, and pain wracked his body from cramping muscles.

Mid way to his goal his knees started shaking, and he had to pause a moment, or risk falling down.

Moonfeahr hunched forward, leaning his weight onto his cane as a particularly bad spasm hit him. He gritted his teeth against a whimper. If the servants heard him, they would come in to prepare him for the day, and he would miss this opportunity. Taking one slow breath, and then another, Moonfeahr forced himself to stand upright again. He pushed back the long fine moon-colored hair that had slid forward, and unclenched the hand that was gripping his hawk headed cane so hard as to leave in imprint of it in his palm.  He forced his lean young shoulders back to straightness, and by whit of sheer determination, walked the last few feet across the room.

The mirror reflected his face back at him, and his lips twitched downward into a grimace. One clear brown long lashed eye looked back at him, and one scarred milky one.

Leaning forward, Moonfeahr examined his scarred eye closely, looking for the bright bloom of red in it that always occurred after a vision, but his eye was clear.

"Just a dream," He said aloud.

Behind him the door opened, and a servant peeked in.

"Good morning young Master," The man said, and bustled in to get him ready for the day.



© 2013 Kessira26


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Added on August 14, 2013
Last Updated on August 14, 2013
Tags: Infinity Gate, Lord Arren, Torch