Infinity Gate-Chapter Six

Infinity Gate-Chapter Six

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 6

Grae awoke slowly, his head feeling a bit muzzy. There was a weird lurching sensation, as if he were moving, even though he was laying down. Grae's skull hurt from where he'd been whacked and his whole head swam. It took Grae a long moment to realize not all the lurching was in his head.

He opened his eyes to find himself inside a tiny cramped room, the walls curved up to the ceiling, and there was only light coming from two small windows on either side of a door. The room was furnished elaborately, all the surfaces beautifully carved, and painted. Colorful blankets covered the bed he was in and brightly patterned rugs softened the narrow bit of floor he could see. Turning his head, Grae could see there was someone sitting on a small folding stool beside the bed.

"Wha," he started to say and the person startled, nearly falling off the stool. The face turned towards him and Grae was struck by two beautiful green eyes above a black veil. The woman stood suddenly and banged on the wall behind her.

"He's awake!" her shout took Grae by surprise, her great booming voice at odds with her slender appearance.

The lurching of the wagon abruptly stopped and Grae suddenly knew where he was. One of the clever caravaner homes of the travelling people of Free.

Grae was given clothes, they'd evidently bathed him while he was knocked out and all traces of the mud were gone.

"Sorry about the head boy," the Patron of the clan told Grae when he was introduced about to the clan members,"You startled us good, appearing from the Gate that way and covered in mud."

"The Gate, where is it?" Grae asked weakly.

"Ah," The elder man looked troubled as he explained, " The Gate has started to wander more in recent years. It used to always drop folks near to Brighton settlement, but now it's taken to dropping them all over the plain."

He gave Grae a sympathetic pat on the shoulder.

"No worries child, we'll take you to Brighton, we were headed that way afore, and you'll be no extra burden on us."

Under any other circumstances, Grae might have enjoyed travelling with the People very much. They had a spirit about them that made him feel welcome and a way of approaching things that made everything more fun. There were still all the chores of living, but Grae found them much easier to turn his hand to, and even learned to sing along as he worked. Then there were the horses...Grae had fallen in love with the Caravaners’ horses almost immediately. By the time the caravan reached Brighton, Grae had made fast friends with both people and beast. The woman he'd met first on awakening declared herself his clan mother and took charge of him for the journey. The morning before they reached Brighton she had called him to the back of her wagon and presented him with a charm she had made him braiding it into his hair and saying it was a present to make up for calling him a demon and whacking him on the head.

Grae was concerned he might not even find Arden and Ash in Brighton and was unsure what he would do if that was the case, but no sooner had the Caravan stopped in the small trading settlement, than an official looking gentleman in a fine waistcoat approached them to ask about a missing boy.  The man was much relieved to find Grae alive and well. Grae had a feeling his Uncle had been making life difficult for the poor man and the nervous way the man seemed to eye him only supported that feeling..

Grae saw Arden first, standing in front of the Inn, grooming Christof and felt something tight in his chest relax again. Arden caught sight of him and rushed forward swinging him up in a bear hug,  a display of affection that had Grae feeling very flustered. Then Ash was there as well and Grae was surprised to feel his uncle tremble a bit as he crushed his nephew in his embrace. A moment later the man was treating him coldly again and demanding to know what Grae had done. Grae carefully explained the whole crazy chain of events that had led him there. Ash looked very speculative when Grae explained the outside attack and startled when he described the Caravaners and how they had taken care of him.

Grae was very pleased to see Freya again. She bumped him with her nose and gave him a sour look as if to demand where he’d been. For the first time, he could really look at her and see the Free horses from whence she came, see the lines of them in her bones.

They travelled out of Brighton the next morning, heading for the Gate. Ash had a resupply station for his caravans the next colony over and they were hoping to gain supplies and information there with his agents.

Grae was half expecting something terrible to befall them on their ride, but nothing much occurred. They reached the Gate after half a day’s travel and found it sitting high atop a hill, visible for miles around. Now that it was not dark, Grae could see that the Gate itself formed a very stylized looking A in the old Earth Alphabet. He studied the structure in awe, wondering what type of metal it was made out of, how it had been forged and what gave it the secret power to send people between the colonies.

They approached the Gate cautiously, but there was no one in sight and indeed, no where for someone to hide.

Wary of being separated again, they travelled through the Gate in a closely huddled group and came out the other side in the dark of night, with rain lashing down.

They were quickly soaked to the bone, as they took stock of their surroundings and looked for shelter. Grae found a dry area for them under the boughs of a great tree nearby. It was just high enough for the horses under the branches and made a little cozy shelter. Christoph was looking a little wild about the eyes after so many rapid changes in his routine, but settled once he was beside Freya’s steady calm presence. As usual Ash’s stud was too busy trying to get to Freya to care anything about the rest of their surroundings.

Working together Arden and Grae got a campsite cobbled together. Ash was by far the most affected by the cold and as soon as they were able to get a campfire started Grae went to his uncle to bring him close.

The man was sitting huddled, tremors running through his frame from the cold.

“Uncle Ash, come sit by the fire,” Grae told his uncle softly, offering him a hand to get up.

Ash gave Grae a strange look, almost as if he was seeing someone else standing in Grae’s place, then he took Grae’s hand and got to his feet.

“I can help..” he started to say, but Grae cut him off.

“It’s alright Uncle, we’re used to camping and we’ve got things well in hand.”

Outside the shelter of the tree the wind and rain lashed and the travellers settled in for a long night, Grae looked about, then huddled down beside his uncle where he could keep him warm.

Torch stared at the beautiful hardwood door in front of him, his eyes not focused on the swirled wood grain.

Mornings were his least favorite time of day.

He couldn't delay this moment any longer. He'd already checked with the kitchen staff. For once the kitchen was running smoothly, food had been prepared to the proper specifications. The new staff was even willing to serve the food themselves, entering the room with the fearsome Lord Arren. With nothing left to correct, there was no reason for him not to join his master at breakfast.

Releasing a sigh Torch pushed the door open and entered the room.

Lord Arren was sitting at the end of the table eating his porridge. He ate porridge every morning regardless of what else was offered, yet the table had to have the full variety of food cooked to perfection.

Torch had no appetite in the morning, but he understood that he was expected to eat with his master.

He filled his plate with a variety of foods, not really paying attention to what he chose and then sat down in his place to the right of Lord Arren. Only long years of service allowed Torch to sit still and calm and begin eating.

"Good morning Torch," Lord Arren murmured placidly between spoonfuls of breakfast.

Torch kept his eyes on his own plate and waited.

"It seems the report from Sola was badly delayed. Unfortunately there were some who slipped the net. I should have sent you to oversee the matter," Lord Arren told him.

Torch was surprised. He'd thought the men he’d sent were fairly reliable.

"Do you want me to go then?" he asked.

"No, we shall deal with them...elsewhere," Lord Arren answered obscurely and Torch wondered what he had planned.

They ate in silence a while more, then Lord Arren spoke again, "It is time to check on our interests on Kenton again."

Torch was startled by his Master's tone and the far off look in his eye.

"Was there report of a problem?" he questioned. It had not been long since his last visit to the colony and there had been no sign of a problem at that visit.

"No, no, nothing certain. Just a feeling," Lord Arren murmured into his bowl.

"I will leave at once," Torch answered, rising from the table with a bow.

He was halfway to the door when Lord Arren's voice stopped him in his tracks.

"Oh and Torch..."

Torch slowly pivoted around to face his Master dread building in him. Lord Arren was picking with his spoon through his porridge, looking for choice bits and seemingly completely oblivious to Torch, but the white haired man was not fooled. His master was watching him carefully for his reaction.

"Do shave before you go, that beard doesn't go with my porridge at all," Lord Arren finished in a bored tone.

Torch felt his whole body freeze in abject horror.

He had always worn a beard, since he'd been old enough to grow one. It was part of him, part of his identity. He couldn't imagine his face without it.

"But..." Torch couldn't keep the objection from forming on his lips.

Lord Arren looked up from his porridge his flat dark eyes almost swallowing Torch in their depths. He didn't say anything more just regarded Torch quietly until Torch could stand that gaze no more. Giving a hasty bow, Torch exited before his master could think up any new tortures.

This wasn't the first time his master had made a ridiculous demand at breakfast. There'd been the time he'd demanded Torch to develop abdominal muscles over night because he'd watched a tumbling show where the performers all went shirtless and decided they looked nice. Fortunately for Torch he kept his body very fit and was able to dutifully show Lord Arren his ab's the next morning.

Then there was the time he decided he liked the color pink and that all his servants should wear it. Torch had to meet with Colony leaders on four different colonies that day wearing a pink shirt, only to be told by Lord Arren the next day, "Why are you wearing that ridiculous color, it looks terrible on you.” And of course there was the incident with the dragon. Torch shuddered.

Still none of that compared to the horror of this demand.

Was Lord Arren serious? Torch couldn't risk the wrath of his master by disobeying.

With a heavy heart he ordered a servant to bring shaving things to his room, then he went to change into his travel gear.

A quiet servant met him in his room, carrying a full shaving kit. The man bowed low and made a questioning hand gesture as he handed the kit over. It was an offer of help, but Torch hated the thought of letting anyone near his throat with a blade. He waved the helpful servant away and then took the shaving kit over to his bathroom.

Torch regarded his own reflection in the mirror for a time, stroking the dark hair on his face. Light winked off the translation stud in his nose, reminding him of his own past. He no longer needed the aid of his translation devices to understand the people here, but he kept them in place always, for the memories and for the reminder of the debt he owed Lord Arren. A debt worth more than his life and certainly worth the hair on his face. Meeting his own cat eyes in the mirror Torch clenched his jaw, then flipped open the shaving kit to get started.

Half an hour later Torch was dressed in his black travel gear and headed down to the underground level of the Arren manor. His face felt scraped raw and the cool air against it was an unwelcome reminder of his newly shorn state.

Still grumbling to himself, Torch trotted down the last few steps to the gate room.

Lord Arren had taken part of the dungeon built below the Arren house and turned it into a semi-permanent gate room. There was a gate here to each of the colonies, as well as several to places only Lord Arren and Torch had visited. The gates only worked one way, but Torch had ring that would allow him to open a quick gate home from anywhere...well that wasn’t quite true. It was Lord Arren that actually opened the gate for him and not even Torch understood quite how that worked, only that he could trust his master to make it happen.

As he stepped through the Gate to Kenton, Torch felt the dizzying nausea and sense of dislocation, then he was through, and standing in a small privately kept room in the middle class district of the Capital city. Torch dropped into a nearby chair to wait a moment for the disorientation to pass. He was grateful for the chance to do so. More than once he'd stepped from the Gate straight into a fight, not his favored method of fighting "thrust, thrust, parry, vomit".  Admittedly the vomiting had taken his opponent off guard. Chuckling at the thought Torch stood and left the room.

First stop was Chancellor Alban to see if there had been any further movement towards seizing property for the road project. Then he'd need to check on High Commander Elgin.

Half a day later Torch was done with his rounds. Everything was as he'd left it and there were no new developments, but still, Torch had a strange feeling. There was something brewing in the air. Pondering the time and when Lord Arren expected him back, Torch decided to check on Moonfeahr. The boy had grown bolder of late, wandering down into the city and even into some of the seedier sections searching for information of some sort. Twice now he'd had a vision fit while out and about and made a big stir. Torch had a gut feeling it was a good time to check on the boy.

© 2013 Kessira26

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Added on August 14, 2013
Last Updated on August 14, 2013