The first 26 chapters of “An Elusive Hero” can be found here.
I closed my eyes instinctively and kept them shut for a few moments. Silence spread through the room once more. I tried to pry my eyes open, now that the space had finally been illuminated. But the lights, which were radiating from the sides of the room, were too bright. It was as if concentrated sunlight had filled the chamber. In the glance I was able to take, I noticed about a dozen shapes standing close to the lights. I really hoped they were human. With my eyes closed, the familiar darkness had once again place its shroud around me. I expected to stand in silence for a while longer, when a booming laugh echoed through the room.
“I offer you light and yet you choose darkness by closing your eyes.”
I heard footsteps. The person talking to me was now pacing the room. From the sounds of it, he seemed to be about ten meters away from me. My eyes were still closed.
“Well then, as you seem to believe you are a guest at my court, I would like to welcome you to the Fort.”
A snort followed the sentence.
“You have the privilege of staying my guest as long as you please.”
Another laugh filled the room.
“Of course, that does not mean you can go whenever you’d like. It just means you can stay as long as you want.”
“Where am I?” I asked weakly.
“I’ve already told you.” The tone of the Chosen One was sharp and condescending. He did not tolerate stupid questions. “You are at my court at the Fort. From here I will conquer all of Illusio.”
The sound of footsteps drew closer.
“You should open your eyes and see the light. You shouldn’t choose darkness. Open your eyes.”
My curiosity got a hold of me. I desperately wanted to know with whom I was dealing and more importantly, how many of them I had to deal with. Only one voice had boomed through the room.
“Why don’t you introduce me to yourself and your court first?” I said. I didn’t have the courage to open my eyes just yet. Maybe I was scared it would still be too bright. Maybe I was just scared of what awaited me.
“Well, I think you know who I am. And you also know names are powerful. But well, if you open your eyes, I think we can all be properly introduced.”
The tone had now changed. It was more cheerful and inviting. I drew a deep breath and tried to open my eyes. The initial brightness had subsided and I was able to look around comfortably. The room was illuminated by dozens of spheres of lights, all floating through the air slowly and deliberately. I was stunned by the display. I had never seen anything like it before. The spheres were of many different sizes. Some resembled footballs, while others were as tiny as golf balls. The brightness of them all also differed. A few radiated with a warm light, others filled the room with a haunting white. Together however, they filled the room with the light and warmth of the particularly beautiful summer day. My eyes followed one particularly luminous sphere of light for a second before my thoughts were grounded by the voice.
“Didn’t I tell you the light was a better choice?”
I moved my look to the person standing in front of me. The man was a head taller than me with a full head of blond, curly hair and clean-shaven face. His figure was slender, but muscular. He had taken the time to sit down again. An impressive one-handed sword with a richly decorated hilt lay across his lap, but he was not wearing any armor. Instead, he was wearing dark pants and a characteristic grey shirt. His shirt had ebony buttons and I noticed it almost shimmering in the bright lights. I assumed he had put some sort of magical protection on the shirt in case I would have picked up some magic on my journey so far.
Unfortunately, I was weapon- and useless. A smile appeared on the man’s face. He seemed to be thinking of what to do next, making the unconscious gesture of brushing his button nose with his thumb. Then he made a sweeping movement with his arms to both of his sides.
Standing at the walls of the room were more shapes than I expected, about twenty. A minority of them were wearing heavy armor and the others were clothed in dark grey clothing with other colors worked into their outfit. The woman to the right of him was wearing a long, grey robe with dark green linings, while the woman to his left was wearing the exact same robe with brown linings. A few men standing motionless at the sides wore ascots in red, blue or black. They didn’t seem to have chosen their color due to the fashion of the Fort. Each color either had to signify a rank or skill valued at his court.
But while I took a close look around, no words were spoken. Not by the man sitting in his large, throne-like chair and not by the very disciplined men and women at his court. For a second I wondered if he had rendered them mute.
“Well. Have you seen enough?” He ended his question with a theatrical sigh.
I looked at him confused. Before I could answer, I heard another word being whispered sharply.
Again, we were surrounded by darkness. I felt my arms being jerked back and only heard the man speak again, his voice quiet and stern: “We will speak again tomorrow.”
Then, I was dragged away, again through the maze of the fort, through dark corridors and down countless steps until I sat there, alone and despaired, in a little, dark cell.
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