Chapter 22

There was some commotion outside. Oren assumed it was Tabia setting the key in the gate to open up Erridda. A few more moments of silence passed until there was an earth shaking boom and then more silence.

The guards outside came in and grabbed Martell and Oren. They said something but Oren and Martell’s hearing was still recovering from the boom. They got on their feet best they could and were then taken out of the tent. They saw several of the guards trying to shake off the noise’s disorientating effect as well. Things got better as they got closer to the gate. The two saw Tabia was ok and waiting there as well.

“Well that was fun, I guess even I miss some of the finer details at times,” said a grinning Lady Nattan. “Alright Oren you are up, just open the doors for me and I will let you have the privilege of gazing upon the courtyard inside first. Oh and if you refuse dear, I let your friends go and if all three of you refuse I cut you down here and now.”

Oren went forward and pushed on the door, slowly it budged open. Metal and rust shifted against each other, creaking, as the hinges remembered how to function. Oren smelled a musty scent as he made his way inward and the door retreated. The air felt as if it had not moved in forever. Looking around the courtyard, he saw several statues of beasts lining the walkways to the rooms along the walls. To the left was a path lined with various canines, to the right the path was lined with serpents and lizards and the middle looked as if it were lined with winged beasts. Each path started with a quadrupedal creature; slowly the forms grew in size and stature with the ones closest the doors being bipedal. The place looked almost frozen in time.

The effects of a spirit started to take hold on Oren. It was panic, fear, as if something ominous was to take place. He was in control, but the feeling was there. It wanted him to run toward the wall, to one of the rooms in the entrance way and hide. Slowly, Oren followed the compulsion, but without the reckless abandon he would have been slave to in the past. He opened the door and stepped in to the room. It was a five foot square, a small desk stood in the room with a ledger. It listed the comings and goings for the day. Oren was impressed with the clarity of the ink was and the integrity of the paper for something so old. The last name he saw listed was Casapan, with a destination of prison.
“Oren, are you still alive?” Nattan called out. “Dear, feel free to open anything you like; but after all if you die, do not fear we have two more to take over where you leave off.”

“I am fine,” Oren replied back as he stepped out of the room. Then in a very overtly sarcastic tone, “I wanted to see if there was any additional mechanisms to disarm for you is all.”

“Oren, that is very thoughtful of you. But I am not so worried as to what is in such a small room. Please go a little further and open one of the main doors off the courtyard.” Lady Nattan’s voice cut through the air.

Oren didn’t really feel a motivation to go beyond where he stood, and if his companions’ lives were not hanging on Nattan’s whim he would have probably stayed put for an hour or so. However, seeing them there helpless and unable to do anything otherwise to assist, he went forward. Oren went over to the door at the end of the pathway with lizards and studied it for a moment.

The door looked of sturdy wood; there were no visible mechanisms that he could see to indicate a contact trap. He tried best he could to see if there was any other trap that may be waiting on the other side. Then it occurred to him, a plan to at least get himself free. It did require their captors knowing nothing about his ability, which was possible. Oren started to focus on the spirits, drawing them in. There were quite a few in here as he sensed the rush. They had been without contact outside the stronghold for so long that something new calling to them was intriguing. He reached to the door as he felt them clamoring closer. His hand reached out in contact with the door itself, Oren disappeared.

Lady Nattan’s troops were silent as they watch this all unfold from the entry way. “Oh well, he was a brave soul.” Lady Nattan spoke. She then turned to Martell, “Very well young lady, it is your turn, I hope your armor offers more protection than his wits offered him. I will give you a sporting chance; you can pick any of the three doors. I would not choose the one Oren went through, but then again what are the odds the same trap is still rigged for twice the entrance. My darling, you have a moment to mourn the passing of your friend, but do not tarry long. I doubt whatever got him will leave much behind.”

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