Infinity Gate-Chapter Four

Infinity Gate-Chapter Four

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..


Chapter 4

Grae did not even remember the rest of the evening. Some part of him was aware of Arden and Uncle Ash talking, discussing possibilities, thinking of survivors, but Grae took no part in it. The idea that his home was entirely gone, that everyone was dead, was too overwhelming for him to take in. He lay curled in a chair, and waited to wake up from this nightmare.

The next morning Grae woke when a servant brought him breakfast. The man was quiet, and wouldn't meet Grae's eyes.

"Where's Arden?" Grae questioned, suddenly fearful.

"Who?" yhe servant startled looked up at him.

"The man that traveled with me?" Grae clarified.

"I'm sorry young master, I do not know," the servant bowed and started backing out of the room.

In desperation Grae asked, "Where's my uncle then?"

"Master Fall left early this morning on business in the city," the servant replied before backing quickly out the door.

Grae spent the rest of the morning alone, his breakfast untouched, his stomach in knots. It was nearing the nooning hour when voices dragged Grae out of his stupor.

He opened the door to his room and found Arden and Uncle Ash in the hallway talking in angry voices.

"You were correct last night, it must have been Lord Arren, there is no other explanation!" Arden said, his voice infuriated.

Grae almost didn't recognize his friend. Arden's face was grey and colorless, his eyes bleak, and all the warmth and kindness that normally glowed out of his friend was snuffed out.

"I tell you, there is no way anyone else traveled through the pass before us," Arden's voice was almost a hiss and he leaned towards Asher as if to threaten the smaller man with his strength.

"And I tell you," Ash said in a biting voice, "it's not conclusive. It simply doesn't make sense. There was no benefit in it, no reason for the Valley to have earned his wrath."

Ash's cold eyes glittered as he stared Arden down, "There are many who would benefit from this, many who would seek to profit."

"My wife and child are dead, do not talk to me about benefit and profit!" Arden shouted. He turned his face away from Ash his fists clenched, and Grae could see a tremble pass through his shoulders.

"My sister is dead, and I will have a death in turn for hers," Ash replied his voice bitterly cold, "but I will not only kill the one that has done this, I will destroy them utterly, I will rip their whole world apart. There is no forgiveness for this!" his face showed no emotion at all only the glitter in his eyes betrayed his passion, "Before I can do that, I must know why."

"Why?" Grae was startled to hear the words come out of his own mouth, "Why?" tears started in his eyes and he turned his face away, "There is no why for this."

Grae moved over to Arden and put his arm around his friend leaning against his side. For a moment he thought Arden would reject him, his back was so stiff, but then suddenly his shoulders relaxed, and he relinquished his weight into Grae's support.

Grae locked his knees as he took the burden from Arden, but he sighed with relief. This morning he'd been so terrified that Arden had left and he would lose him forever, lose his last tie to the Valley, and his home.

They stood that way for a long moment, then Arden straightened a bit, and pulled away. Grae turned to look, but his Uncle Ash had disappeared.

"Where did you go this morning?" he asked his friend.

Arden took a breath before answering, "Your Uncle said he had contacts with further information about the Valley. He got word this morning, so I went with him."

"Is there no chance..." Grae trailed off not wanting to say it, "We're so far from the nearest town, surely..." Grae stopped again at the bleak look in Arden's eyes.

"I can't...I can't," Grae's words kept getting stuck in his throat. As if saying the words would make it true, and then he'd have to face it, “I don’t want to believe…”

"Then don't," Arden said, his voice harsh, "Bury your head in the sand, pretend nothing happened and.." Arden's face was bitter as he turned suddenly and started to walk away.

"Wait, Arden!" Grae said suddenly panicked, "Please don't leave me."

Grae rushed after Arden, and wrapped his arms around him, "Please...please...please don't leave," Grae whispered.

"I won't abandon you Grae," Arden said, his voice heavy, "but...I can't pretend it didn't happen. I feel it right now, like fire ripping through me. I know the truth of it. They are gone Grae. I left Corla alone with no protection. How did those monsters kill her Grae, did she try to protect our child?" Arden shook in Grae's embrace, "I had no business leaving her there alone. I left, and they both died."

He turned to Grae, "I have to live with that, I have to live every day knowing that, or I die now, and

go be with them and know I not only failed to protect them, but that I did nothing to..." Arden's voice stopped, and Grae could only hear his harsh breathing whistle in and out of his chest. Tears tracked down Grae's cheeks, so he kept his face hidden from his friend.

"I'm going to find the truth Grae, your Uncle is right, nothing makes sense. I'm going to find the truth, and I'm going to find a way to bring justice for Corla and Keerla. Will you join me Grae? Will we do this together as we’ve done so much else?” Arden asked.

Grae turned his tear streaked face to his friend.

"Together, the two of us," he answered, and Arden nodded.

"Then we'll find the answers together, and watch over each other until the end."

"Three of us," came a biting voice at Arden's back and Ash stalked into view, "And I will be watching over my nephew," he snarled grabbing Grae's arm and yanking him away from Arden.

Grae was so startled by his uncle's behavior, he let himself be drug away.

"Where are we going?" he questioned his uncle just as Arden asked behind him, "Where are you taking Grae?"

"This is time for a family to be close," he said running a hand possessively down Grae's hair, "I'll talk to my nephew alone."

Ash pushed Grae through a door closing it on Arden's face. Grae stood frightened as his uncle stalked past him to sit behind a big desk. The desk was immaculately clean and organized,

but Ash still spent a few moments aligning things perfectly before turning bright silver eyes upon his nephew.

"Sit down," he ordered Grae, "Are you hungry, it's nearing luncheon, I'll have them bring food." Grae sat nervously in a chair and waited but his uncle didn't speak. Ash just rang a little bell, and then started reading one of the papers on his desk. A few minutes later a servant peeked his head in the door and Ash ordered lunch brought to them both.

"What about Arden?" Grae asked  and Ash scowled before ordering the servant to take lunch to the "guest" as well.

It was only a few minutes after the servant left when another knock came at the door, and the dark dressed man that had greeted them at the door the night before entered the room.

He went quickly across the room and whispered something to Ash. Ash's face when flat again, all expression leaving him, and he got up and followed the man out of the room, leaving Grae without a word. Grae sat waiting for a bit, before finally deciding that his uncle wasn't coming back. He got up to look for Arden, but a servant met him just outside the door.

"Come Young Master, we have set out lunch for you in the dining room."

Grae followed the servant down the hall and into yet another well furnished room, this one with food laid out on a handsomely carved table.

Grae looked around, "Where are Arden and Uncle Ash?" he asked the servant.

"Master Fall had urgent business to attend, he took the guest with him," the servant told him and then the man left the room, leaving Grae alone with the smell of food sickening his stomach.

Three days later Grae was tired of being left alone to his grief and frustrated at being treated like such a child. His uncle and Arden had been in and out all day, even leaving at night; off discovering secrets and searching for information, none of which they shared with him. He decided this time when they left they were going to take him with them, or he would follow them on his own. He was done feeling helpless.

His moment came in the middle of the next meal. For once all three of them were sitting down together to eat, a surprise to Grae, but it seemed sometime during their outings together his Uncle Ash had started showing Arden a kind of  grudging respect.

The three were eating in grim silence when the dark dressed servant entered and whispered to Ash. As soon as the man left Grae spoke up.

"I'm going with you," he said it with as much finality and assurance as he could, as if it was a given and he wouldn't take no for an answer.

Arden looked up from his food, met Grae's eyes for a long moment, then gave a slight nod and looked to Ash. Ash was staring at Grae with an arrested expression on his face. There was something a little too intense in his gaze for Grae's comfort, but he knew if he looked away, his uncle would say no, so he held his uncle's gaze and waited. Finally a corner of Ash's mouth

twitched up slightly and he gave a little nod. When the two older men rose, Grae stood with them.

Ash looked Grae up and down a moment then commanded, "Come with me."

A short time later Grae was clothed in some of Ash's clothing, following the two through the streets. He'd been commanded to keep his mouth shut for now and just watch. Since he hadn't the slightest clue what they were doing, Grae decided that was only too wise.

They passed up one street, and down another, suddenly cut through several back alleys before reaching a bustling tavern.  Loud music and laughter poured out through the windows.

Grae followed behind them as they passed through the busy tavern. People called out to his uncle several times, but Ash kept his countenance stone faced and pushed his way through the crowd. Arden almost looked like a hired sword trailing behind him in his rough brown clothing, and bulging farm muscles. Grae felt very conspicuous behind them in his borrowed finery.

At the back of the tavern they passed into a private room, then through a hidden doorway, and into an adjacent room beyond. Inside the room a nervous looking man was sitting. He gave the impression of a frightened mouse with his dull hair, hunched posture and slightly teary eyes.

"Who is that?" the man demanded as soon as all three were ushered in and the door closed behind them.

"None of your concern!" snapped Ash, "Now the information I paid you for."

The man looked about as if someone might be hiding in a corner, then gave a little huffing sigh before speaking.

"I looked into my Masters private correspondence, and found nothing of interest but..." He hastened to add at Ash's scowl, "But, there were gaps".

"Gaps?" Arden questioned.

The man looked up at the looming farmer and cringed a little further down on his seat.

"Empty folders, missing pages. It's clear that until recently there was a great deal he had filed there. My master, he likes to keep everything, but...I think whoever killed him took or destroyed what was there."

Grae had to stop himself from gasping at the word "killed" and he waited to see what his Uncle would do next.

Ash had a calculating look on his face a moment, then he reached behind him under his cloak, and his hand came back with a full purse.

"Go, out of the city and I suggest you go somewhere you've never been, and not to relatives. “Don't come back for a while. If they suspect you know..." Ash didn't have to finish the vague statement, for the man had already scurried forward, grabbed the purse and was headed for the door.

"Are you sure we should let him go?" Arden asked his voice cold, "He could give us away."

Ash gave a shrug, "It's a gamble, but if I kill him then I won't be able to buy information in this city that way again."

Arden looked as if he was considering the statement and then nodded.

Grae flinched again to hear the word "kill" so easily spoken. He was desperate to ask questions, but knew that if he spoke now, they might not let him come with them again, so he held his tongue and waited.

The two men headed back out, so Grae followed them. They were only halfway through the common room when a shrill voice shocked Grae out of his thoughts.

"Asher Fall!" screeched a young man.

The man had soft beautiful curls that framed a delicate face with large eyes and pouty lips. He was slight, and dressed rather elaborately, with rings on his fingers and jewels in his hair.

He raced across the common room, and all eyes stopped to watch him.

"How dare you!" the young man demanded, "How dare you!" he repeated and reaching Ash, gave the older man’s face a ringing slap.

Sparkling droplets formed on his lower lashes and he reached his hand back to slap again as he stared into Ash's cold face.

Ash moved like a striking snake grabbing the young man’s arm, spinning him around and then pinning him against him.

"What do you think you are doing?" hissed Ash, "You know how I feel about public scenes."

Grae was shocked to his core to see the young man arch back against his uncle, a little smirk starting on his lips.

"You left me alone so long and now you show up here with your new pet," the man said in a slightly petulant voice as he pushed his bottom back against the older man, the smirk was growing on his face and he turned his head slightly to gauge Asher's reaction. Whatever he saw there wiped the smirk right off his face.

"No, you can't. I'm not ready yet," the man stammered.

"Get away from me!" Ash snarled and he shoved the younger man away and started for the door.

Grae stood frozen for a moment, his mind not quite able to take in what had happened, then he realized he was being left behind.

As he started for the door himself the young man suddenly stepped in front of him. He looked closely at Grae and did a bit of a double take and then curled his lip in distaste. Up close Grae could see that he was not nearly as young as Grae had thought. Probably closer to 30 than 20.

"There's no way you are pleasing him as I could," the man said finally. He reached forward to slide his fingers through Grae's hair.

"There is some resemblance, is that why? But you are a poor copy, though your feels just like his."

Suddenly the man tilted his face and looked at Grae with calculation. He reached his hand up again and slid his fingers through Grae's hair,caressing Grae's scalp as he did so. Grae's breath caught at the sensation and he felt his eyes caught by the other man’s, mesmerized by the avarice he saw there.

"That's because he's his nephew," Arden's voice shocked Grae out of his stupor and he turned bright red, suddenly uncomfortable. Arden grabbed Grae's arm and led him out of the tavern.

As soon as they cleared the door noise erupted within, and Grae felt his cheeks heat up even further as he realized the whole tavern had been witness to the scene.

Ash was standing outside with a scowl on his face.

"Don't touch my nephew so familiarly," he snarled at Arden and took Grae's arm himself.

"Ah, perhaps you should have directed that concern inside where your former lover was about to give Grae here some experience," Arden said wryly.

"What?" Ash turned so suddenly his hair whipped past Grae's face.

"Your Ex-lover in there, seems he got the notion to play with Grae a bit," Arden clarified.

"Ex-lover?" Grae asked.

The two men ignored him.

"He would not dare to touch him," Ash said his eyes glittering.

"Oh he did dare to touch him. He did indeed. He was petting Grae's hair and about to kiss him when I interrupted," Arden said. There was a mean spiteful quality to his voice that Grae was not used to hearing and he found it shocked him almost as much as his words.

"Why would he kiss me?" Grae asked plaintively, but suddenly his uncle was running his hands through Grae's hair and wrapped an arm around his shoulders. Grae might have enjoyed the affection from anyone else, but from his uncle it felt wrong. He tried to pull away, but Ash only clutched him more tightly, running his free hand repeatedly through Grae's hair.

"Where else, where else did he touch him?" Ash asked suddenly.

"Nowhere," Arden said, sounding disturbed, "He didn't touch him anywhere else...Ash, let Grae go now, you are scaring him."

Ash suddenly looked down at Grae's face, and his expression changed to one of disgust.

He stopped pawing at his nephew, but kept a hand on him as they moved through the streets towards Ash's residence.

After they had traveled several blocks Arden moved up beside Grae and whispered, "Don't worry, I'll explain what is going on when we get home."

"How far..? Grae started to ask, but suddenly black shapes appeared all around them.

Arden leaped in front of Grae wielding a wooden cudgel and Ash was somewhere to their right.

The dark shapes resolved into black clad men wielding short knives. Two attacked Arden.  Ash was dealing with three, but that left one to circle around for Grae.

The man came towards Grae and a gleeful grin split his face as he observed the young man in front of him. He darted in suddenly his knife slashing and Grae ducked back then grabbed the man’s arm as he swung for another slash. Grae clenched his farm honed body a moment to stop the momentum of the man’s knife arm and then yanked the way his father had shown

him all those years ago. He used the force he would for a really balky horse and was surprised when he pulled the man right off his feet. The man went down in a heap at Grae's feet and he took the opportunity to stomp on the shoulder of the arm still holding the knife.

There was a sickening crunch as Grae's boot came down and the man dropped his knife, screaming.

"Grae, come!" Arden's voice made Grae turn and he saw that his friend had stretched out a hand towards him. He ran two steps to Arden’s side and they fled down the alley with Ash in the lead, knives in his hands stained red with blood. They fled through the streets and suddenly they were in a place Grae vaguely recognized. It was the stable yard where they had left Freya and Christof.

Ash took them to a stall towards the end and had them crouch down out of sight.

"I'll be back in a moment," He told them, then disappeared.

Grae wanted to go find Freya while they were waiting, he was sure he could hear her distinctive wuffling somewhere close by, but Arden motioned him to be still.

It seemed like hours later, when suddenly Ash was there beside them again.

He looked to Arden, then shook his head, his lips were compressed in a thin line.

"Get the horses ready," He told Grae, "Mine’s the black on the end, and the tack is through that door." He directed, "Don't make any light," he added, and then he left with Arden in tow.

Grae felt like his heart was going to leap into his throat, but he went quickly through the stable to where he could hear Freya.

She'd been stabled with Christof right beside her and she whuffled him in greeting.

It was much harder to find their tack in the room his Uncle had indicated, especially with no more light than what came through the open door, but Grae found the distinctive tooling on Arden's saddle by running his hands over everything nearby.

He found Freya's worn saddle nearby and grabbed both bracing one on either hip. He quickly got Freya and Christof saddled, even in the dark. They were familiar and he knew their tack. He found that all his travel gear and the horse supplies were still in the saddle bag hooked behind Freya's saddle.  A quick feel in Arden's showed that at least their camping and Arden’s

travel gear hadn't been removed. When both horses were ready Grae returned to the tack room, and tried to figure out what saddle might belong to his uncle.

Sitting alone in one corner was a saddle stand with three saddles on it, all of very fine quality, two of them worked heavily and one that was simpler. Choosing the plainest of the three, and grabbing the bridle hanging there Grae went to the stall on the end.

Inside was a big black horse, easily as broad as Freya and as tall as Christof. The black had big feet and abundant mane, forelock and feathers. He seemed a completely impractical beast and Grae snorted slightly at his uncle's choice. The horse snorted back and came forward to whuffle him all over.

The Stallion, as Grae discovered when he bent to tighten the girth was friendly and not terribly well mannered.

"You'll stand out like a sore thumb where ever we go," he told the black quietly. At least the beast was willing, gladly reaching down for the bit, and nosing Grae expectantly. He led the black out to where he had Freya and Christof waiting and looking at his grouchy mare, decided it was a good idea to tie the stallion away from the other two.

As soon as he left the stallions side, the horse began to snort, paw and make a fuss, so he was forced to stand near the impatient beast and keep him quiet.

A wuffle from Christof announced the return of Arden and Ash long before they entered the stable.

They both came laden with bags and Ash now bore a fine long sword on his hip.

Arden quickly parceled out bags to Grae and he stashed the things away in Freya and Christof's saddle bags. When their gear was secure Arden handed Grae a short hunting bow, a quiver and a long knife.

Grae looked at his friend in surprise, but he was glad to have the weapons in hand. He slid the bow into the thong on Freya's saddle where his hunting bow normally resided during camping trips with Arden, and he strapped the long knife to his thigh.

Arden clapped a hand to his shoulder when he was done. Grae turned to check on his uncle and found the man trying to messily tie the bags he had with him to his saddle. Rushing over, he stopped him.

"Do you have a saddle bag in the tack room," he whispered softly to his uncle.

The stallion was snorting and pawing again, so he quietly corrected it. His uncle headed towards the tack room, so Grae figured that was a yes. He quickly untied the bags from the horse’s back, and when his uncle came out with a brand new saddle bag, completely unused, but blessedly made out of soft fine leather, Grae took it and fastened it properly to the back of the black's saddle.

He picked up the bag that had mostly soft gear.

"Go fill the bag on that side," he ordered his uncle. "Remember, line the side next to the horse with soft things."

His uncle looked like he was about to object, but then he moved to do as Grae asked. Grae quickly packed, a sense of urgency growing in him. Something bad was about to happen and Grae wanted to avoid it.

As soon as he was done, Grae spun back to Freya and with a final girth check he mounted to wait on her back.

By the time his uncle was in the saddle Grae felt as if the doom was surely upon them, so high was the tension. When more black shapes suddenly appeared at the back entrance to the stable, Grae almost felt a relief. Quickly he pulled the bow from Freya's saddle and knocked an arrow, wondering if he could actually hit something in the near dark. He was about to let fly

when Arden's voice stopped him.

"Wait," Arden said and suddenly one of the dark shapes bowed.

"Master Fall," the shape said, "we've cleared the way out of the city for you."

Grae let out a gasping breath, and lowered his bow.

They left the city quickly, the ring of hooves on paving stones far too loud to Grae's ears. When they passed through the city gate Grae felt like they had just escaped the belly of the beast.

They followed a road out of the city for some distance at a trot before stopping.

Catching their breath Arden asked, "So where do we go now?"

Ash looked over at them from the back of his black beast and Grae could swear his eyes were almost glowing silver.

"We go through the Gate," He said.

© 2013 Kessira26

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