Running Toward Destiny

Chapter 11


They walked past the gate guards without incident and into the bustling city of Choel.  They were immediately swept in by the amount of people.  Camrin had seen this before and was used to it, but Selenia hadn't been to any city, let alone Choel, in quite some time.  They walked slowly on, pushed by the throng of people.  The entire town appeared to be talking; yet, you couldn't understand a word of it.  It was only a buzz, the mumble of a thousand people.  The inn at Sharent could easily have fit inside any one of the buildings there, with room left over.  The buildings threw shadows over the streets, making it seem ominous.  Camrin pulled Selenia out of the crowd and into a side alley.

"Listen, we have to find someplace to stay.  I know of an inn that I've frequented, and it has good service.  It's called The Horse and Wagon, and it lies farther into the city.  We have to go there first.  Ok?"

"Yes, that should be fine.  We have to get there soon; I don't want to be out after dark.  I don't like a lot of people, and I don't trust them."

"I understand.  Let's go."  And they stepped off the dirt onto cobblestone, the surface of all the roads in the grand city, and made their way quickly northward.

It took them nearly half an hour to get there, but they finally made it.  As they walked up onto the small porch of the otherwise large building, Selenia looked up at the sign.  It was a simple picture of a black stallion pulling a large wooden wagon, depicting the name of the inn.  They walked into it, and almost ran into a man on his way out.  Murmuring their apologies, Camrin and Selenia moved out of the way and let him pass.  He said not a word as he walked indignantly past them.  "Don't mind him," Camrin said, "he's always in a bad mood.  Just leave him alone, and he won't bother you.  I've seen him here before.  Now, here are some marks.  I want you to get us a room while I go out and look for some things."  Camrin deposited five silver marks and a gold mark into her hand.  Selenia looked at the money in disbelief, but took it anyway and walked further into the room.  Camrin left her and went back out into the crowds of people.

Although he had not left his staff with Selenia at the inn, he'd not expected to use it.  In a city this large, no one could really defend oneself in an attack.  It was a mere feeling that Camrin had experienced that made him turn around suddenly, only to find someone trying to pickpocket him.  He tripped him up easily with his staff, and instantly the crowd seemed to push away from them, avoiding any confrontation.  Camrin reached down and retrieved his pouch of money and retied it to his belt, then looked at the man.  He'd stood back up and was trying to decide what to do now.  He finally just turned around and ran, burying himself into the mass of people.  Camrin looked around.  No one else appeared to want to try for his money, so he turned and continued on his way.

He arrived at the inner city walls and then turned, walking alongside them.  He was near the kingdom, but it wasn't a place where people ruled.  There were the people who appeared to rule, and then there were the few that they took orders from.  In this city, there were the bandits, and they controlled most of what went on.  Their castle was more of an illusion, but it was there, deeply hidden in the shadows between old abandoned buildings.  No one challenged them; they were too powerful, and they showed it.  He knew where they were, usually, and he was going to try to stop them, somehow.  He was almost there.

He got that feeling that someone was following him again not too much later.  He turned, and there was no one there.  Instantly, three men armed with short swords already drawn, jumped out behind him.  He faced them, and three more men jumped out and completed the circle around him.  Camrin, already angry with them for before, charged the nearest one, staff moving in a near blur.  He was caught off guard as the staff smashed into the black clad man's temple, killing him instantly.  But now the others were crowding in, grabbing onto the staff and holding it at bay.  Camrin managed to throw them off, but someone clubbed him on the head with a piece of wood, and Camrin met the ground with unconsciousness.

He awoke again to the sound of a rusty bolt and squeaky hinges of a large metal door opening.  Opening his eyes, he saw a bright light that slowly adjusted into a single lantern outside of his cell.  He instantly knew where he was, but he didn't know whom the man was that had walked in the cold cell.  The man placed a small platter of food on the ground, and then walked slowly out of the cell, closing the door behind him.  Camrin jumped up and rushed to the door, but it was too late; it had already been locked.  He peered out from the old bars and saw one man guarding him, and the other man that disappeared around a corner.  He sighed, and noticed the stench of death in the air.  He was alone in there, with only the occasional rat to keep him company.  He looked down on the platter.  There was some cheese and bread, and water.  He picked them up and began to eat, not having anything since the morning before.  He could tell that it was early morning now, because the crickets were chirping dimly from outside of the thick, rock walls of the dungeon.  The bread he was eating was a little hard, and the cheese was somewhat dry, but he was not expecting much.  He finished them off and washed it all down with the water, which was stale.  He was in the Kingdom of Mists now, though not the way he'd wanted to get here.  He sat back down in a clean corner and thought about what he was to do next.

He looked up again to see that another man had entered, and only two hours or so after the other.  He wasn't carrying food though.  He was a regal man, dressed in all the livery that you would expect of a prince or other royal.  He didn't look like he wanted to be here, but neither did Camrin.  "The king, he wants to see you.  He wants to know why you were fighting with his guards, and why you killed one of them.  He will see you in a short time, but for now, you're to come with me to prepare.  You won't be seeing him looking the way you do."  He turned sharply and strode out of the cell, and Camrin followed him.

They walked quickly up the levels of the castle, Camrin admiring the huge wall tapestries and floor tile.  Every hall had a different pattern, and they were all magnificently done.  Suddenly the man stopped, and gestured to a room.  Two large red doors allowed entrance, the handles probably pure gold.  This truly was a castle of kings.  "You will prepare yourself for the king swiftly, and I'll return for you then.  Don't even try to escape; I've posted two guards outside, and they'll kill you if you come out without my accompaniment."  He turned sharply again and left the room, closing the door behind him with a small click.

Camrin looked at a bed that took up most of the large bedroom.  Many tunics, shirts, and trousers were lying on it, in many shades of color and size.  They ranged from the very plain to the livery kings would wear, with everything in between.  He looked right and saw an adjoining room, a lavatory.  He walked into it and saw that a bath was already drawn, but he wasn't going to take a bath.  He washed his face and arms, and then took off his old bedraggled clothes.  Walking back into the bedroom, he quickly picked out a pair of black trousers and a burgundy colored shirt with a little embroidery on it.  He put them on, unsure of how much time he had.  Then he realized he didn't have a knife.  He had to get his stuff back, and he needed something with which to fight.  He began searching through the chests of drawers, passing by a window on the way to one of them.  He saw that it was indeed morning, and the sun hadn't risen yet.  Selenia must be worried sick about me.  What did she do when I didn't return last night?  He returned to his looking and found a knife in the fourth drawer.  It was nothing like the knife he'd had, but it was slender and sharp, and it had a good hilt, which was all that really mattered.  He tucked it away and waited.

The door opened soon after that, and Camrin saw that it was the man he'd seen before.  "I'm here to take you to King Lantios now.  If you'll come with me," he said, plainly expressing his distaste in his job.

"Who are you anyway?"  Camrin asked carefully, trying not to overstep his bounds.

"My name is Avias, the King's only son and heir to the throne.  Now, come with me, I don't have much time."  Camrin's anger was building slowly.  He didn't like this man, but he held it back and went with him, this time up more levels to another set of doors, these blue.

A guard stood at the door, sword drawn.  Avias had a couple words with him, and then he sheathed the sword and opened the door.  Camrin walked inside right after Avias.

Camrin looked around the room as soon as he stepped into it.  The room was huge.  More than thirty feet tall, it rose to a domed ceiling with paintings on it.  The walls were painted as well, in any place where there wasn't a tapestry.  In the center of the room was a throne, sitting on a large pedestal.  Next to it was Camrin's staff and sword, as well as his knife.  He stopped when he approached the pedestal.  Seated on the throne was a man, dark and mysterious.  He didn't appear to be the king at all, not the king that he remembered.  Then he recalled the name he'd heard.  "King Lantios, is it?  You're not the real king.  Where is he?"

"Ah, but I am the real king, the king of bandits that is.  The king of this city was dispatched a long time ago.  I am the true ruler of this city now.  And you will not speak again until spoken to.  Now, why are you here?"

"I am traveling through here for supplies to continue my journey.  I am only here because I was jumped by your men in the streets."  Camrin looked to the right after finishing and saw a man.  The man looked back at him, and then looked away.  It was too late though, because Camrin had seen his face.  His mind flashed back to the night of his escape, when he'd seen that prominent scar across his right cheek.  His rage, building all this time became too much, and he yelled, "I know what you have done!  You raided my hometown less than a week ago, and you broke into my house!  You have killed countless numbers of people, and you have tortured many others.  This will be the end of your reign over us.  You will pay for what you have done!"  It sounded as though someone else was speaking through Camrin's body.  He stopped talking as they all looked at him.  The three guards in the background drew their swords, but he didn't care.  He turned on them and they died instantly from lightening that pulsed from his hands.  He turned again, and then a huge blast of energy destroyed the king and splintered the throne.  The door broke open, but two more balls of energy flew from Camrin's hands, and the doorway exploded and then collapsed, burying any help that the remaining people in the room might have received.  He turned to face Avias, who had by then backed against the wall.  He ignored the remaining two guards that cowered in a corner, silent, useless.  "Your father is dead now, and a few of your followers too.  You will not attack villages again, or you will face the consequences."  Camrin suddenly felt weak, as the power had taken out a lot of his physical strength as well.  He moved over to where his things were and quickly gathered them, and then turned to the prince again.  "Where is the way out?  I know there is more than one."

"Behind the red tapestry there is a small door.  Take it, and you will come to an antechamber.  You can find your way out from there."  His words shook as he spoke, though he tried to hide his fear.  Camrin walked over to tapestry and pulled it back.  Indeed there was a small door, most certainly used if the king needed to escape.  He pulled it open slowly and then walked through it.  He leaned against the smooth wall and made his way out of the castle, questioned by no one.  He was unsure of what he'd done or how he'd done it, but it had taken almost all of his physical strength and mental focus.  Something had snapped inside of him, and it had manifested into an ability that could be fearful indeed.  Camrin would have to be careful of it, as he was sure that too much could harm him, and nearly had, depleting his resources down to the bare minimums.

Once outside of the castle, he made his way back to the inn, winding his way through the streets not really knowing where he was going.  As the light of the sun finally started making its appearance above the tall buildings, he stumbled upon The Horse and Wagon and walked inside.  He fell there on the floor, knocking over a table with his flailing arms.  Feeling and smelling some kind of alcohol near him, he saw his hand in a puddle just before he blacked out.