After his elite guards had tightly strapped me, face down to a wooden bench, he had sliced my wings from my back himself. After which he applied the goblin wrought, red-hot irons to my back. Iron is a poison to my kind and applied to an open wound it seared them shut, sealing the toxin into the stumps. The High King then had me taken deep below the torture rooms, still alive, but weak and frail. There he had me cast into the concealed dungeons below the castle, chained to a heavy ball of stone by a golden chain.
Here I stayed in the semi-darkness of the underworld of punishment, losing track of time, ruled by the bogymen loyal to ‘Him’. They fed me and allowed me to wander the endless tunnels and chambers that lay within their realm.
Bogymen and their females had huge eyes that were adapted to the darkness. They spoke in whispers and kept to the slimy walls, avoiding open places. Their long bony fingers ended in clawed tips and they were completely bald. They were scuttling creatures the colour of darkness that served the High King’s whims. He fed them on the kitchen scraps and leftovers from the banqueting hall. What they did not eat they passed to me and it was never enough.
At odd times they would lay their disgusting hands upon me to haul me into King Waldwick’s presence for him to gloat over my rage and helplessness, as I dragged the stone ball around with me. These few times were the only moments that I saw daylight and fresh food, deliberately left on the dining table where I could see it, but not touch.
I was the High King’s Lord Protector and given the task of keeping his daughter safe from the attentions of other unwelcome elves. Thrown together for many hours we had developed a fragile relationship that crumbled the day she fell from her riding beast and I picked her up in the snow. Our wings were bound under the furs we wore because of the cold and were of little use in that situation. She kissed me and I lost my mind!
The furs soon came away in that snow covered hollow and she gave her virginity to me, swearing that we would flee far from the King Waldwick’s reach. Ameela and I made for the boundaries of his lands clinging onto a young winged dragon that I ‘called’ to me. It was a bitter cold winter and I dared not urge the beast to fly too high lest we froze to death upon its cold scaly back. We kept to the valleys and took too much time zigzagging through, instead of trying to fly over the mountains.
When we had not returned by sunset the High King had used his scrying mirror to find his daughter. He found the two of us wrapped in the same furs, aloft on the back of a dragonet flying straight for the border. His mind reached out in fury and forced the beast to return to the castle.
He screamed at me, “All my plans are to come to nothing! You! I trusted you to prevent this from happening. You I made my Lord Protector, my most trustworthy elf. You were my ‘Hand’, my expression of power! Now the alliance will never take place between my realm and the Dark Lord’s. His army roams the countryside just outside my borders as we speak! Your life is inside my daughter even now, as we stand here. She carries your child!”
From that day, not one word did Waldwick give me about his daughter or my child, when I was dragged before him, only that they still lived in the tower that he had incarcerated them in and that I would never see them again. I believed him to be mad, his mind poisoned by too much proximity to pure iron. He carried the goblin wrought staff everywhere he went and every time he used it, my back ached where he had branded me and poisoned my wing-stubs.
I explored my prison, dragging the stone ball with me wherever I went. Eventually my ankle grew thin enough for me to wriggle free, using rat’s blood as grease. I became more mobile without the weight of the stone ball and explored the underworld below the castle, feeling my way in the darkness, searching for some way out.
I discovered the power of the Rifts.
Lent against the arch I called a rat to me and killed it against the stones that made its shape before I ate it. Something in my mind became more aware of the entity locked within. I called more rats from out of the gloom and killed them by crushing their bodies next to the symbols carved into the stonework.
Over the weeks that followed I let my mind soar up and away from the damp, cold dungeons of King Waldwick’s castle searching for a hiding place. Far away on the very outskirts of the High King’s realm, away from the main trade routes I found what I was looking for. In between two farming communities stretching up the snow-capped mountains was a darkened forest with pathways leading into it. At the end of one of these paths was an old hunting villa that was still in good order, as if it was waiting for someone like me to find it! Long ago it had been built there by the very warlock that had lived in these chambers at the roots of the castle. There was an empty place in the great hall that once housed the arch.
It would do!
The villa was sited by the side of an ice melt stream that gave me all the fresh water I needed. The pool it filled was alive with trout. An orchard grew by the side of the gardens and I soon appreciated the fresh fruit that was picked by the gnomes and shared with me. As they cared for me, I also cared for them.
When they were hungry I ‘called’ animals from out of the forest to be killed for their needs with my heightened ability. In return I took gemstones that they mined from the caves higher up the mountain. They never asked why I was wingless and kept me secret from inquiring eyes. Their women were skilled in the arts of healing, but the hot irons applied to the stumps of my wings would never let them recover. At least they healed without the constant pain that I suffered in Waldwick’s dungeon.
There was a presence that inhabited the arch that lived or existed beyond the Rifts. Its mind was alien to mine, but it got some kind of pleasure in being used. There was a cold logical edge to its way of thinking that had no emotions and it could not understand the reasoning behind my actions. It accepted my plans and agreed to help me put them forward without understanding my motives.
Once again I opened the ‘Rift’ between my realm and the human world. It always opens under an arch of ancient stone in the desert outside a small town. Maybe it had been used before, long, long ago. It’s a short walk to the outskirts of the town and what you call a Shopping Mall. The goods that are on sale are amazing. I soon got plenty to eat by ‘suggesting’ that people buy me food and drink. You have no mental resistance!
I look like a smaller version of what the people call Mexican, except for the pointed ears. You don’t seem to notice them or my antennae sprouting from my forehead. In your realm it is very easy for me to only allow you to see what I want you to see. Your society thrives on violence and that supports my purpose well.
I am constantly amazed by the variety of weapons that your world has for offer. The greed that you suffer from makes you easy to manipulate. In my world, gemstones are common and are easy to obtain. Here in your world you would kill to possess stones that our young use in games similar to your marbles. When I discovered the ‘Rift’ and first ventured into this alternative reality I kept very quiet and set myself to learn your language.
It did not take me long to understand money and the gold chain and gemstones that I brought over soon changed hands. I became wealthy and learned how to live in a hotel room. The Internet became my playground! What I needed were weapons that were constructed from a minimum of iron based metals. It did not take me long to find a craftsman willing to make a rifle constructed from hickory and reinforced plastic with a stainless steel barrel. The bullets I required to be cast from pure iron. These were packed into wooden containers that could be inserted into the rifle as a magazine. I also had lead bullets by the boxful ready to take back with me to my world. Money made sure that no questions were asked. Crossbows with iron tipped bolts were easy to buy and I stored these away in the desert close to the rift. I tried using the gnomes, but although they were quite willing, the heavier gravity made it difficult for their smaller bodies to carry much. It was time to collect humans to my cause.
for volunteers to accompany me on an expedition to search for a missing person in a foreign land. I stated that it would be dangerous, but profitable if successful.
I took weeks winnowing the applicants and in the end I changed hotels to stem the never-ending stream of hopefuls. I took only single people with a multitude of skills. On the desert sands I watched them fight each other and bleed for the prize money that I allocated. Not every loser was discarded. I paid them all well and they kept their silence. I made it quite plain that I might need more and those who did not make it this time might be offered a place in the future as long as they kept my business secret.
I picked six big men with plenty of strength and stamina. In my world the gravity was less and these humans would have an advantage against any elf. What I needed to do now was to show them what I really looked like and take them into my confidence.
“You have never asked my name or asked me what I want you to do,” I said to them. “I have seen you all fight and display your skills on the sands of the desert outside of the town.”
Sam Pitts stood up and answered, “Mister, when you are ready to tell us what you want us to know, we will listen. Until then, its your business.”
“Thank you Sam. I have called you all together as this is the time that I will tell you what all this is about. Someone very dear to me was taken. What in this world you would call my wife was imprisoned along with my child. I am going to get them back!”
There was a general shuffling amongst the group and Hoatzin spoke up and said, “I think that we would all agree that what you want us to do, is recover your woman and child. It’s got to be dangerous or we would not be here. I will go anywhere you want us to go”
“In my world to know the secret name of a person is to have power over them. I am known as Peterkin amongst my people. I am about to tell you about my world. It is not here! You have children’s tales of the world of Faery in many of your cultures. Some of them are uncannily true! I came from such a world separated from yours by a Rift in space-time. This is what I really look like!”
Sam Pitts sat down heavily and remarked, “Well he aint a human being that’s for sure, but he pays well and he needs our help. I’m in.”
A chorus echoed the big man’s statement. “I’m in!” “Yeah me too!”
“I’m in, all the way!” yelled Spencer.
Peterkin looked at his choices to rejoin him in the world of Faery and was overcome with emotion. These humans meant what they said. He could read their minds as clearly as though they were all shouting at once. He knew that he would never need to coerce them by any form of mind control. Once a human became loyal, they stayed loyal. The other thing he was aware of was that although he was paying them a fortune to assist him, they were not coming for the money!