Collection: Ages of Youth
Chronicled by Valhel
Thousands of stars glistened between black spires of pine upon the Mountain. For a moment he did not feel that the woods required watching, that the inky darkness beyond the reach of the campfires concealed no monsters, no threats. And so, resting lightly upon his bow, the Sentinel turned his gaze skyward to witness the brilliant bands of blue and violet.
Peace had settled on the mountainside, the baying of devilish hounds had ceased, and the looming dread that once crept through the shadow of tree and rock had all but dissipated. Pandora had vanished from the Mountain and with her all of its terrors. The Sentinel and Marius had successfully rallied the neighboring clans into an organized guard, and their new champions had taken leadership with much celebration. Aside from the mysterious Crown of Stone and the Black Chest that Marius seemed to watch endlessly there was little to be concerned with.
After all his long years of keeping watch the Sentinel could rest. Staring out into the starry abyss he pondered the fates. What would the arrival of these travelers from the future mean for the Mountain? Pandora came with power and fear, and Marius appeared with courage and meekness. Both had spoken of a distant age, of scalding deserts and luminous, bustling towers, and a day they called the Halleaux. Both had come to prepare for future, but as Pandora made her plans she subjected the Sentinel's people to secrets and whispers, while Marius, after causing Pandora's retreat, had been straight forward and sought the counsel of the clans with humility. Marius hoped to take a band of Mountain warriors back to his own time that they might bolster the ranks of Petra's resistance. The Sentinel, having known Petra before, trusted Marius and had gathered a small group of fighters to go back to this Halleaux. Now they waited for a way there, a gateway to the future that Petra would open, but the way never opened.
Marius had guessed that the Stone Crown, the curious rock formation on the slope of the Mountain was some sort of gate, Pandora had been standing there when she and Valjean vanished out of time, but he couldn't imagine how it worked. The stones thrummed, and Marius' hair would stand on end when he touched the Crown, but neither he nor the Sentinel had any idea on how to activate it.
Patience became the new plan, and the Sentinel was well acquainted with waiting. But for all the anticipation the Sentinel was content with the break in events, the peace brought new times to pray and listen to the story tellers recount the tales of the God-man. As the Sentinel took in the sights of pale fires soaring in the heavens a new light sparked in the nearer distance.
As suddenly as the spark had appeared the Sentinel had drawn his longbow, and with an arrow nocked he silently took aim. The light flickered, but did not approach as if a torch in hand, it remained still. With abundant caution the Sentinel drew nearer, closer to the light. As he did so he could see small tendrils arcing from and back to the ball of light, its pale blue glow splashing about in the darkness. The shroud of the trees grew darker as the campfires began to shrink in the distance. An energy could be felt in the air, like thousands of insects taking to flight. The Sentinel could nearly reach out and touch the spark, but instead leveled his arrow tip upon it. Suddenly the light vanished and the air seemed to swarm. The Sentinel spun about searching for a target, but none was there. Then all at one a silence fell and the air ceased to writhe. Fear finally took the Sentinel and hopelessly he lowered his bow, knowing that whatever would come next could not be answered with blade or arrow. Again the air began to crackle and light returned. Five lights, the stone spires of the Crown, now molten with white fire. The Sentinel instantly recognized his was standing in the midst of the Stone Crown, but before he could act further a peel of thunder rent the air and all became white before his eyes.
Time slowly began to eat away at the light, parting and stretching it into muddy skies that burned up into black smoke. The miasma churned in the Sentinel's lungs and the dark skies became damp earth beneath his boots. Being careful to quiet his choking, the Sentinel composed himself as he surveyed his surroundings.
The Crown was gone. There were still trees, but this forest seemed diseased and rotten. The stars appeared sorrowful and cold, and the earth was slick from the warm midnight rain. The Sentinel was standing upon a road, away in the distance he could see a village drearily lit by sparse lamplight.
Determining that seeking refuge in the town would provide him with not only answers but protection the Sentinel lifted his hood overhead and took a step down the road, but not a second.
"Hold!", commanded a voice from behind. There was a click, like a weapon being readied to fire. The Sentinel slowly raised his arms, bow still in hand, but then dropped to a knees having already nocked an arrow upon his target before hitting the ground.
Before him stood one dressed like the strangers from the Halleaux. Black and blue armor, a face mask like shaped like some mechanical beast, complete with a long barrel rifle that had been drawn down upon him.
"Who are you?", demanded the stranger, 'I know you're not from here. Did she bring you?"
"She?", the Sentinel asked. Could this man be speaking of Pandora, he wondered.
"Pandora, are you her friend or foe?", insisted the man.
The Sentinel drew his longbow taut, "Foe."
"Well, same here.', said the stranger as he lowered his rifle, 'But I'm afraid that's bad news for the both of us. You can call me the Wolf."
"I am the Sentinel."
"Sentinel? What kind of name is that?", smiled the Wolf.
"What kind of a name is the Wolf?", sighed the Sentinel.
To Be Continued...
•••••five steps down•••••
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