CHAPTER 2: GATE TO HELL
Boring... I can't take this any longer... I thought narrowing my eyes. My arms hung limply at my sides and I leaned father back into the lizard-man. So I started humming to myself, or else I'd either die of boredom or fall asleep. That soon grew boring, well it did when Anděl told me to shut up. "Are we there yet..." I asked sounding like the five year old I was growing into.
"Oh yes these trees are just a distraction, so glad that you could see past that..." Anděl probably rolled his eyes in annoyance. I grumbled closing my eyes, why couldn't I wake up already! Soon after I dozed lightly on the back of the slow moving horse. Just when I was about to fall asleep, Anděl decided to shake me awake and laugh out. "We're there!" I looked around sleepily, more damned trees and hills...
"Ass..." I mumbled trying to get comfortable again. He laughed.
"Ah forgive me you are but a child, I must have forgotten, you need your rest." I could feel his smile and his eyes dancing in his idea of humor.
"Ya and you're a real gentleman..." He gave a snort before making the horse run to bump me around again. I latched onto his arm as the fear of being thrown returned. He picked on me for the remainder of the trip, as soon as I would drift off to sleep he'd do something to wake me up. Either it be nearly sliding off the side because he let go of me or because he would shout in my poor ear. Yeah I'm defiantly plotting against you tonight... well just as soon as I get some sleep.
His playful banter stopped abruptly, and I pulled my hands away from my ears. I looked up at his face, his mouth hung open and his eyes wide in shock. He got off the horse and I jumped off behind him, both of our gazes ever fixed on the sky. It was as though it was on fire. What happened to that clear blue sky just a few minutes ago! It just gave way to this ominous red. I looked over to Anděl he was trying to not look like he was shaking. Something's defiantly wrong here... Seconds later a man came scrambling down the road.
"Come on! Run while there's still time! The Guard still holds the road, but it's only a matter of time before they're overwhelmed!" He choked out as he ran.
Anděl narrowed his eyes waking up from his momentary stupor. "Run, run from what?" He asked seeming as though he really knew what, but wanted to believe it not true. The man screeched out something about the entire city being destroyed, something called 'Daedra' and Oblivion. I tugged on Anděl's cloak trying to get his attention, but he ignored me. "The entire city can't be destroyed." He gave a laugh trying to refrain from looking at the sad people all around. They huddled together shaking and sobbing, trembling in fear.
"Go and see for yourself! Kvatch is a smoking ruin! We're all that's left, do you understand me! EVERYONE IS DEAD!" He screamed at Anděl before taring down the road screaming more about this 'Oblivion' thing.
"W-what's he talking about?" I asked taking a hold of Anděl's cloak again. He looked down at me, straight faced and serious, placing a hand on my shoulder giving it a tight squeeze before leading the horse onward. He stopped to tie the horse up to a broken fence, and ran up the hill. Screams and shouts were all I could hear from that direction. I sucked up all the courage I could muster jogging to catch back up with Anděl. By the time I braved the hike up the hill the man was talking to someone in armor. The guy looked absolutely exhausted. Several others stood behind a make shift barricade, panting heavily. I saw one man lean up to take a look on the other side he jumped back at what ever it was he saw, and his face paled.
A few more steps forward and I too could see what had everyone so worked up. A giant flaming gate with spikes jutted out from the ground. Flames swirled in the center, and some kind of monsters spring forth from it. They screeched loudly and headed directly this way. One lept over the barricade after it saw me standing unprotected on the other side.
My knees buckled as it lunged, its mouth open ready to bite down as soon as its fall ended. "Anděl!" I screamed. I could practically feel the monster taring into my skin and ripping me to shreds in seconds. The fangs never pierced my flesh, it never got close. Anděl held onto my shoulder, his sword skewered the monster. I clutched onto Anděl trying to hide under his arm. He threw the monster several yards and it landed with a lifeless thud.
"You can't follow me right now, stay here and wait." He held me for a bit longer until he was sure I was calm enough to listen to him. "I'll come back, just stay here and out of the way."
D-don't go... don't... I tried to say as he pulled away from me. He ran out toward the thing those monsters came from. Anděl come back... And just like that he vanished. Like he was never even here.
"Lady stand back! Do you want to get killed!" The man Anděl was talking to earlier shouted at me. I trembled this was no dream, it was realty. This was actually happening to me. And the one person that irritated me the most, the guy that I despised, had left me unprotected and alone. That man yanked on my arm trying to get my attention, shouting and pulling me to a safer spot. I was still ignorant of the actual danger that Anděl had put himself into by going into that Oblivion gate, as I had eventually learned it was called.
The fear was just setting in. It couldn't be real, but it was. I wasn't dreaming I never had been. I clutched my head trying to ignore the shouts and screams as more of those monsters poured out after Anděl had gone inside. The heat out here was unbearable, I couldn't even imagine what Anděl was going through right now. Eventually all the shouting and screams stopped, either everyone was dead or no more monsters were attacking. I risked a glance across to where the soldiers were. Almost all the ones I had spotted earlier were still there. They seemed to be taking a tense break, not ready to let down their guard in case it could be a trick. They drank water and cleaned the sweat from their faces, taking only a moment to catch their breath. Before they stood between that gate and the people down the hill.
"LOOK!" Someone breathlessly shouted. Everyone ran to the edge of the blockade whispering and murmuring to one another. I walked up to the side watching as the gate began to pulsate. Until the flames began to extinguish. The top of the gate crumbled to the ground landing with a loud 'boom' it shook the ground causing a side of the gate to fall as well. The rest of the spiked monstrosity remained standing, but nothing else happened.
I blinked watching for something to happen. The silence was deafening; everyone jumped bracing themselves when a flame sparked to life in the middle of the gate. It was trying to start up again! Could it rebuild itself again, would those monsters continue coming!
A figure fell to the ground a second after. No one moved, that is until Captain Matius stepped forward cautiously. "He did it!" He shouted proudly as the figure began clambering to its feet. I could see a tail twitch as he stumbled around for balance. Matius and his men, and a few women, ran to greet Anděl across the way. I noticed several soldiers take steps back as soon as they saw Anděl. Captain Matius yelled at his men for being so disrespectful to the brave warrior that closed the gate to Oblivion. When even his most seasoned men had failed.
"You closed the Gate? I knew you could do it! This is our chance to launch a counterattack! I need you to come with us. You've got far more combat experience than these men. Are you able to join us now? I can wait, but not for long. We've got to move quickly, before they have a chance to barricade the city gate." I heard Matius ask.
I could see the grin on Anděl's face as he smiled smugly. Even from this distance I could tell he was tired. He looked as though he were about to pass out. He cracked his neck his grin fading to seriousness. "I'm ready when you are." He reached down for his sword, swinging it to rest lazily on his shoulder.
Matius gave a proud nod. "FOR KVATCH!" He shouted the soldiers behind him yelled the same as they went about opening the gates to the burning city. Anděl turned to follow them, but stopped for a second to take a look back in my direction. Seeing that I was safe and sound he ran off behind the others. Into the battle inside. I ran up to the gate holding onto the side peeking around. Watching the people fight to reclaim their city. The only building left standing in more than one piece was the church in the middle. It hadn't caught on fire yet. With the path clear I somehow managed to catch up to the back of the group.
One man turned to look at me, and lowered his guard once he was certain I was on their side. "Hello! This is Captain Savlian Matius! Are there any survivors!" He yelled whacking on the giant door several more times. A muffled 'Captain!' came. I could hear the sounds of several people hurriedly pushing and moving objects away from the door. They only allowed the door to open a crack to peer out. Several startled faces poked from inside the dark building. They clambered to remove the rest of the things from blocking the door, and allowing the soldiers inside.
The soldiers quickly filed inside thankful to see familiar faces. The building wasn't anywhere near as packed as what everyone had been hoping. Only a handful of civilians, guards and priests rushed about inside. Some sat nervously rocking and shaking in dark corners. Their eyes wide in panic. Anděl had left with Captain Matius again in the crowd.
"Miss are you alright?" I jumped at the voice that spoke not a foot away. I closed my eyes taking a deep breath, turning to face the man that spoke. He was a middle aged man, his face contorted in concern for my well-being; that and he was probably still scared shitless too. The priest placed a steady hand on my forehead. As his fingers brushed my skin I felt light as a feather, and no longer tired. I blinked the momentary haze away from my eyes. He smiled his blue eyes brightening up a small amount.
I opened my mouth. "Ubuhhh..." He gave a half smile and pat me on the head. My sentence consisted of a lot of 'ums, ughs' and we can't forget 'ehhhh...'
Now he looked slightly worried. "Miss?" He was getting concerned again.
"Hehehe!" I'm sure my head lolled to the side and I grinned like a maniac. If the guy wasn't scared before; well I feel sorry now...
He sat me down trying to get me to calm down. I'm going insane, this is all to much for me to handle. I'm going to crack and it won't be pretty. I'll just fall gracelessly floundering like a fish out of water, but instead of gasping for air I'll be chuckling like a hen. You know the one that goes 'Bock..boc... BAGAK!' and lays an egg. Well there you go.
"I'm going crazy!" I laughed out.
The priest sat a hand on my back rubbing it to calm me down. "If you can find a sane person after being through this. I would very much like to meet him." He tried to joke. I hung my head my laughter turning to sobs. The kind priest pulled me into a hug allowing me to cry into his shoulder. "Everything is alright." He pat my head.
I don't like this place! "I want to go home! I'm so scared..." I cried clutching onto him for dear life. All those shows and manga where a girl gets thrown into some parallel universe or what ever, end up turning into heros. Only in a fantasy could that actually happen! I can't do anything, I have no way of fighting, I'm not smart and I'm scared. There's no white knight coming to my rescue, all I have is a irritating lizard-man that will drop me in a heart beat!
"Brother Martin, we're getting ready to leave." The woman from earlier spoke. "Is she going to be alright?" She asked worriedly.
The priest, Martin, stood allowing me to cling to his side. "She will be alright. She's just in shock." He told her. The woman left to help everyone else. I stared at our feet as we walked, unaware of the people or the environment. I could see but was unseeing. Martin placed a calm hand on mine patting it gently.
"It's all real..." I croaked out. He tightened his arm around me, silently encouraging me to keep strong. I don't want to be strong, I want to curl up into a ball and shrink away from the world. We sat down again outside of the city, where the other people had fled to.
I'm not sure if it was along time or just a few moment's later I heard Anděl. "Are you Brother Martin?"
Martin shifted to look up at the other man. He gave a slight twitch, from what I can only assume him seeing the lizard-man. He calmed himself down before he could make a scene. "I am Martin, what is it you need?" He asked.
"I need to speak with you,... alone..." He said slowly.
He said nothing for a moment. "Will you be alright?" He asked giving my shoulder a shake. I numbly nodded my head before Anděl could say something to make me mad. He pat my head before releasing me. The two walked off to the side of the road, out of earshot of everyone. I hugged my knees to my chest putting my forehead onto them, trying to rest my eyes. I heard Martin give a shout of 'you don't know what you're talking about!' I looked up slightly to see what they were doing. Martin turned to walk away, but Anděl stopped him with what ever it was he had said. The priest rubbed his chin in deep thought, and shook his head. I lowered my head again, uncaring of what they were doing.
The makeshift bench creaked with the weight of another person. Someone tossed their arm around my shoulders none to gently. "So are you coming kid or are you staying here?" Anděl asked.
"Mmm..." Go away I don't feel like talking. His arm shifted, and he grabbed me up by the arms dragging me up from the bench. I nearly fell flat on my face.
Luckily Brother Martin was there to stop my reunion with the ground. I sniffed back a sob when the priest came to my defense. "Can't you see she's troubled, what are you thinking?" Martin held my left arm gently while he kept me upright, my right arm in Anděl's hand, the circulation cutting off. His grip slackened and he let me go entirely. I walked out from the priest's grip and silently followed Anděl.
I stopped at the side of the painted horse, and without word Anděl hoisted me onto her back. Martin was getting onto a white horse, and Anděl on behind me again. I sat side saddle and Anděl threw my legs over his own. I shrink down putting my arms around him, and he held onto me so I wouldn't fall. I looked over at the priest he gave me a sad little smile as I closed my eyes, I drifted off into sleep...