Passage – Ending Two
It was in that moment, as the last remaining members of the pursuing horde stood with swords raised, that a fireball came from the vicinity of the lake and struck one of them in his face. The struck man fell hard to the ground while his compatriots cried out and turned away, dropping their weapons. Traemor arose to look at his arrears – two creatures made of living orange flame were walking ashore, their origin the lake itself. They threw more fireballs as they approached and all the remaining living warriors of the horde were struck many times, and all caught flame and burned amid cries of agony and despair.
The two remaining wizards were alive still, and they gnashed their teeth at the oncoming fire demons. They retreated as they cursed their new attackers with all the hatred of their hearts, but they were overcome nonetheless. After they were struck with an onslaught of fireballs, one of them ran screaming into the murky water of the lake. There the fires that engulfed him were quenched, and he began to laugh madly. But no sooner had he done so than arms of rotted flesh and faces of ghoulish sorrow had clasped onto him and began to pull him underneath the surface. He kicked and lashed out with ferocity, but his attackers would not relent, and amid much violent splashing he soon disappeared from view.
Traemor gazed with wonder at all that had come to pass, and as he watched the fire demons – not knowing their intentions with him – their flames simply blew away in the wind, and they were no more. He was left alone on the field of battle, his enemies slain all around him. He was victorious.
Again it was his princess who screamed, but this time her cries were laden with joy. She waved at him with the giddiness of a child who had just overcome something terribly frightening. Then she seemed to remember to Boatman, and grew more somber.
"Traemor, come quickly!"
"In time, my princess. They may possess some useful things for the remainder of our journey."
"But Traemor, I want you to come here!" The young girl made a motion implicating the ghoulish Boatman, and Traemor could not help but chuckle.
"Take heart, child. I have no doubt he is responsible for saving my neck, and yours as well. You are safe with him."
And so the great warrior searched his fallen enemies for useful things and among them found many pieces of gold, a few loaves of bread, and a crudely drawn map. He took much interest in this map, for it displayed several points friendly to the Queen's agents – no doubt the dwelling places of spies.
"This will be quite useful, old boy. Quite useful indeed."
After he was satisfied with his winnings from the battlefield and retrieved his weapons, Traemor strode over to the water's edge, ready to leave. He was, however, not sure how to get to the craft.
"Boatman, how shall I board your vessel?"
The ghoulish figure made no response, nor moved a muscle. Only his white beard swayed in the evening wind.
"Great Huntress, protect me," Traemor muttered, and stepped out into the water.
It was a curious feeling for him when his feet did not break the surface as he reckoned it would, but instead stood heavily upon the shady darkness. Anxious though he was, he continued to put one foot in front of the other, and soon he was halfway between the shoreline and his princess. He tried mightily to concentrate his gaze upon the craft, but once faltered and briefly looked below his feet. It was as though he could see through the entire depths of the lake. Under his feet shady ghoulish figures swept to and fro. He saw their faces gazing back at him, and much sorrow and longing they held.
"Don't do that again, old boy," Traemor muttered to himself as he restored his gaze to the boat. For that one glance into the Lake of Graves had summoned the hairs on his neck to arise, and he felt now even more anxious than before. But it was not long until he reached the craft and was greeted by Enneth's embrace.
"Oh, I was worried for you," she said sweetly. "I am glad that you are unharmed. I thought…well I thought for an instant that you might get hurt. Until those walking pillars of fire arose from the lake and saved you!"
She had begun to cry a little, and Traemor knew these to be tears of relief.
"Fear not, Princess. I would never leave your side so easily. It would take the whole of your mother's armies to severe you from my keeping.
"And you, Boatman. I am in your debt."
With that the great warrior nodded at the ghoulish hooded figure, who of course made no reply. Instead he turned his gaze away from the shore and out into the misty expanse of the lake. And their craft began to move swiftly across the glassy surface.
Traemor and Enneth sat upon the vessel floor and took a rare moment's rest as they began their journey across the lake. It was not long before young Enni was fast asleep against Traemor's side, his arm and cloak securing her to him. But Traemor remained awake and ever vigilant of new dangers. For he knew their journey was not ended, and that more peril would undoubtedly find them. But they had won a mighty victory this night, and with the help of their new map, they would find it easier to avoid the nets of the Queen's spies, unlike the last time.
And so Traemor sat and waited for the next phase of their journey with his young charge sleeping heavily at his side.
"You've done well so far, old boy," he muttered to himself. "Keep this up and there may be hope yet for your land, and your King."
And so the Great Huntress shown brightly upon her children, and the great warrior felt her favor in his heart. Soon the weight of night pulled down his eyelids, and he too was asleep.