When I awoke, I was in a small rock chamber. Wondering where the light was coming from, I realized that the walls were glowing.
“Come with us, human,” a dwarf said. I was surrounded by dwarves.
I followed two of them out into a hall. It was much bigger than the tunnel I had entered and I could actually walk normally. I had a guard of a dozen of the tiny people. The four in front of my all were carrying battle axes while the eight behind had long spears. Well, they were long for them, being perhaps four and a half foot long.
We hadn’t been walking long when we entered a huge chamber. It glowed a soft gold, which reminded me of a warm evening on a beautiful summer day. At the front of the chamber sat a king. His throne was elevated so that when I reached it, he was at eye level.
“Dad, Dad!” I turned towards the familiar voices. Cate and Leo were being escorted up to me as I stood in front of the king.
“Silence,” the king said. He studied us for a moment. “Humans. The lookouts weren’t wrong.”
A dwarf standing behind the king whispered in his ear.
The king said, “You were caught trespassing in our domain. What say you?”
“Trespassing?” I asked. “We were on my property.”
“Trespassing,” the king said. “You had no right to enter the tunnel. In fact, it is forbidden by the treaty of 3427 that any human should enter Dwarf sacred territory. In return, no dwarf will enter a human structure.”
“I am unfamiliar with that treaty,” I said.
“Ignorance of the law is not an excuse to disobey the law,” the king said. “The penalty in the days of old would have been instant death, but…”
The minister spoke in the king’s ear again.
“I know that every time we’ve had direct dealings with humans, it has been disastrous,” the king said. “But I didn’t start this.”
The minister whispered again.
“I know, I know, it could be bad,” the king said. He seemed to think for a moment. “I am calling a council,” he said at last. “All of the top Dwarves of the four corners of the Earth will convene in my negotiation room tomorrow at dawn. We will figure something out. In the meantime, take these creatures to the dungeon.”
We were led to a side hallway. After walking for a couple of minutes, we were stopped by a door. A guard opened the door and we were pushed in.
We found ourselves in a small room with glowing blue walls. The room was taller than it was wide and funneled up to an opening in the ceiling. I could feel a breeze coming down, a breeze that smelled like woods and fields, that smelled like freedom. A small pile of rags was in one corner of the room.
“I’m tired,” Cate said. She walked over to the corner and was about to lie down on the rags when the pile stood and straightened itself into an old man. The man was very short, about Leo’s height.
“Careful, child,” he said. “I’m not as young as I used to be and might break if someone jumped on me.”
“Who are you?” I asked.
“I am Whindell, the great magician,” he said. “I am the most powerful wizard this side of Thelancia.” He coughed. “We’ll, at least I was before I was captured. After rotting for a thousand years in this hole, I may be a bit rusty.”
“Meaning no disrespect, sir,” Leo said. “I was wondering, if you are such a great wizard, why you couldn’t use your magic to escape.”
“The dwarves put a spell on all of the entrances to their land. If I were to pass, I would dies immediately.”
“Couldn’t you just tele-transport then?” Leo asked. “Could you say, ‘I want to be in New York’, and poof, you are gone here and alive in New York?”
“New York?” Whidell asked. “The name Jórvík is pretty new, but the town has been there a little while. Never heard it called that.”
“A lot has changed in the last thousand years,” I said. “New cities have risen and, well, you know, things have changed.”
“Old York then,” Leo said. “I don’t care where, can’t you just will yourself someplace else and be there, avoiding the entries?”
“Know a lot about magic, do we?” Whindell said. “My guess is that you… hold on a minute. Of course you don’t know magic. You’re human, aren’t you? Why are the dwarves taking human children prisoner? This is bad, very bad. The last time something like this happened, well, a lot happened and none of it good.”
“We accidentally entered their domain, I guess,” I said.
“I can see why they grabbed you, but something must give,” Whindell said. “They may try killing you, but I find it more likely they will send you off to a dragon’s lair so they can pretend not to be of blame. One thing is for sure, they won’t let you go to tell the human world where they are.”
I didn’t like the sound of this and the kids looked frightened.
“Is there nothing we can do? At the very least to save the children?”
Whindell put his hands together and slowly separated them. A spark passed between his hands. He frowned. He did again, and this time it was a flame. He still frowned. He tried it one more time and the space between his hands filled with a blinding light.
“Ah ha!” he said. “I knew I still had it. It’s just been a while.”
He turned to us.
“I know what I will do. I can work my magic and make let you escape, but you have to believe. Do you believe?”
The kids nodded. He looked at me. I nodded too.
“Ok, then.” He waved his hands.
I thought the kids were gone, but then I noticed birds in their place. Whindell looked at them and smiled. He then turned to me.
“I thought you said you believed.” He shook his head. “Anyway, this will call for a small change in plan. The kids can fly up out of the chimney. This is an air vent that allows us to breath down here. Once they get out, then…”
He bent over the two birds and made a lot of chittering and chirping noises. After a while, he stopped and the two birds that I had a hard time believing were really Cate and Leo chirped in return.
“Good, I’m glad you go it,” Whindell said. “Now, remember, it is very important that you are on the ground in 24 hours because that is when the spell wears off, OK? Of course an evil wizard could change you back as you fly over, but let’s hope none recognize you. So, remember, in 12 hours…”
“I thought you said 24 hours,” I said.
“Did I? Well, they must be on the ground at midnight. That’s it, midnight. No, no, what am I thinking? In 24 hours. Right.”
“Are you certain?” I asked.
“Yes.” He looked very uncertain. “Anyway, the kids have their instructions, it’s time they take flight.”
The two birds flew around the room and then went straight up and disappeared into the hole in the ceiling.
“Good, good,” Whindell said. “Unless something has changed in the world over the last thousand years, we should be fine.”
“There have been quite a few changes,” I said. I hope I kept the annoyance out of my voice.
“Really? Hmmm. We might be here a while. Why don’t you tell me a little bit about it? So, let’s see, that young upstart, William, was planning on invading England. How did he make out?”
“You mean you’ve been out of it since before the Norman conquest of England?”
“I guess that answers my question, then doesn’t it? Oh, and yours as well.”
I sat down in a corner, at a loss as to what to say to this odd person.
Most of all, though, my mind was filled with worry over the children and their flight, both literal and figurative, from the dwarves.
Will our heroes escape or become dragon food? Will the flight be a success or will the spell actually end in only four hours? Stay tune for our next exciting episode – same blog channel, same blog time!