Our story begins on a day seemingly like any other…
Lincoln policeman Edward Grey woke up at 6.30, the same as every morning. His beautiful, slender wife Emily lay sleeping next to him. He gave his sleeping wife a kiss, got out of bed and headed into the hallway, just like every morning.
Like every morning, Edward tripped over his cat J.C. on the way to the shower. He shaved, ate breakfast and watched the news, the same as every morning.
At 7.30, he headed out of the house and pushed open the garden gate. With the slightest touch, the gate flew open with a loud creak. Edward winced, remembering that the hinge on the gate was broken, and once again, he had forgotten about it. This too, was just like every other morning.
Edward walked through the city of Lincoln as it stirred from its slumber, reaching the police station just before 8. He signed in, wrote out the necessary paperwork, and waited for a call. It came in at just before 11. PCSO Paul Ryman called in with a suspected drug den. Edward had known Paul for a while, and liked the young man. He agreed to go over and take a look.
Edward drove over to the dilapidated house on Rudgard Lane, which he knew to be an unpleasant neighbourhood. Chubby, blonde Paul was standing outside of the house as Edward arrived.
“Edward,” he said cheerfully as Edward stepped out of the cruiser. “Good to see you. We should probably head in there and have a look. I’ve been here for a couple of hours and, as far as I can tell, the house is empty.”
“Alright,” Edward replied, nodding. “Let’s do it.”
Edward tried the door and found it locked. He attempted to barge the door down, yet even with Paul’s help, he was unable to budge it.
“Let’s head ‘round the back,” Edward grumbled.
The two darted around the side of the house, heading through the overgrown garden to the kitchen door at the back of the house. Edward tried the door, which was also locked. After a few stiff kicks, however, it flew open with a clatter.
“We’re in,” Edward said to Paul, offering the PCSO a wry smile.
The pair walked into the grubby kitchen, and Edward looked around with a look of distaste. The sink was full of unwashed dishes and brown water, the bin was overflowing, and the air smelled of warm rot.
Edward and Paul headed through into the small dining room, which was empty save for an airing cupboard and a dusty table. Further into the house, they discovered a narrow staircase, and after ascending it, two doors. Edward sent Paul through the door on the right, while he himself headed through the door on the left.
He found himself in a bedroom littered with debris. The bed was covered in clothes of various sizes and styles. Edward thoroughly searched the room, eventually turning up two plastic baggies of cocaine in a drawer with a false bottom. Edward called through to Paul, who reported that he found nothing in the other room.
Edward held up the cocaine, and Paul broke out in a sunny grin.
“Great!” he exclaimed. “That’s all we needed. We’ve got the name of the last known residents. We can track them down and hopefully get a conviction.”
“Awesome,” said Edward, dropping the baggies of cocaine into an evidence pouch.
“I’d call that a win,” enthused Paul.
The two headed back to the station, where they called in the drugs bust. Edward spent the rest of the afternoon filling in paperwork regarding the discovery, and left for home shortly after 4.
When Edward arrived home, the first thing he noticed was the gate hanging open. The second thing he noticed sent a twinge of panic through him. Emily’s car was in the driveway, yet she was not due home for at least another hour.
Edward bolted into the house, where he found Emily sitting on the sofa, head in her hands, her hunched shoulders heaving up and down with her loud, hitching sobs. Edward sat next to her, wrapping an arm around her, and asked what was wrong. Through her tears, Emily managed to get out that she had received a phone call from a neighbour who had found J.C. by the side of the road. The cat had gotten out of the broken gate sometime during the day and had been hit by a car.
Edward was stunned. His cat, who Emily had gotten from a rescue home several years ago, and who had since become part of the family, was dead. For the longest time, the couple sat on the sofa numbly, arms around one another. Finally, Emily weakly suggested that they go out for dinner.
“I just want to take our minds off this,” she whispered.
“Let’s do that,” Edward said softly, brushing his wife’s crimson hair away from her face.
The pair headed to their favourite restaurant, Tequila’s Mexican on Bailgate. Emily ate very little, but Edward could tell that by the end of the night, she was feeling at least a little better.
After their meal, the couple left the restaurant and ducked into an alleyway which would lead them home. Partway down it, Edward spied a rather intimidating figure coming the other way, dressed in a hooded top and baseball cap. Pulling Emily closer, Edward continued on his way, giving the hooded man as wide a berth as the narrow alley could afford.
As the two parties passed, the hooded man made a grab for Emily. Edward interjected, but suddenly found himself being grabbed from behind. He turned to see another two figures, who had obviously followed them into the alley. The hoodlum dragged Edward away from Emily as the third man grabbed at her.
Emily broke away from the two men and turned to run down the alleyway. Before she could move more than a couple of steps, however, a fist lashed out, and a chunky golden ring split her lip. Whimpering, she slumped against the wall, blood beginning to pour down her chin. Grinning, the hooded man lurched over to Emily and began to clumsily tear at her clothes.
With an anguished roar, Edward kicked his leg behind him. He felt a solid impact, and the man behind him let out a hollow, wheezing groan, slumping to the floor. At more or less the same time, Emily managed to push away her attacker, and made another dash for the mouth of the alley. One of the thugs charged after Emily, yelling curses. In a couple of steps he had caught up with her, and swiftly punched her in the back of the head. Emily stumbled, connecting hard with the wall.
Edward moved to follow Emily, only for one of the yobs to punch him squarely in the nose. Edward staggered back with a grunt, then drove forward with his own fist. He connected with the thug’s ear, and the tall man howled in pain. Edward advanced on the man, but was suddenly encircled by strong arms, and in a flash, found himself being pulled to the ground.
Emily’s attacker swung a fist at her again, striking her in the cheek. Tears sprung from her eyes, and she let out a whimpering moan. Suddenly, the hooded man was there, standing in front of Emily. A blade flashed in his hand, and Emily’s stomach began to bleed.
Edward scrambled to his feet, kicking at the man who had pulled him to the ground. One of the thugs was running down the alleyway, the blade vanished. Edward thundered towards Emily, pushing one of the thugs out of the way. He slumped to his knees by his wife, who had sagged to the ground, her cream sweater soaking through red.
The other hooded men were charging off down the alleyway. One of them yelled; “Fuckin’ ‘ell, didn’t expect that to ‘appen!”
“Fuckin’ ‘ell!” the other replied breathlessly. “What did ‘e do that for?”
Cradling his wife, Edward ripped his jacket off and pressed it against Emily’s wound. Emily whimpered softly, her eyelids flickering open and closed. Edward caressed her pale cheek and found it clammy. In that moment, he knew she was dying.
He reached into his pocket and pulled out his mobile phone, only to find the battery dead. Swearing, Edward grabbed for Emily’s handbag, but it had disappeared from its accustomed place on her shoulder.
Tears running down his face, Edward felt for Emily’s pulse. There was none there.
Unwilling to give up, Edward scooped his wife up in his arms and began to stagger desperately down the alley. As he made his way down the passageway, the walls grew lower, and soon, Edward could see houses. Most were dark at this hour, but he noticed a bonfire burning in one back garden.
As Edward stumbled towards the blaze, he noticed a figure within the flames and felt his heart lurch in his chest.
“Stop, drop and roll!” he roared instinctively.
“Don’t worry,” the flaming figure said as he walked casually from the fire. Edward leaned against the garden wall, feeling his grip on reality begin to loosen. As the burning man stepped out of a gate in the wall, the flames sluiced from him like liquid, revealing a tall, well-built black man in a long black trench coat and Stetson.
The man looked down at Emily sadly, and said; “I’m sorry Edward.”
In spite of everything that had happened on this horrible night, the sound of his name coming from this stranger’s mouth somehow seemed the most unbelievable thing of all.
“How do you know my name?” he stammered.
“I know a lot of things about you,” the man replied softly. “I know that you live in this city, that you are a policeman. I know that today, your cat has been killed and your wife has been killed. I know that this is probably the worst day of your entire life.” Edward looked at the man uncomprehendingly. “What would you say if I told you that you could make it like this never happened?”
“How is that possible?” Edward whispered.
“If you can do something for me, I may be able to turn the clock back twenty-four hours.”
“May isn’t good enough!”
“These are powerful magicks. I am a sorcerer. The flames probably showed you that. But I myself don’t have the power to do this. You can help me and we can try. That is all I can offer.”
Edward looked down at Emily’s corpse, so light and pale and unlike the wife he had known and loved for so many years, and nodded weakly.
“What you must do is leave this world,” the man said, “and come to mine. I know it is a lot to ask, but we don’t have a lot of time. I come from a land parallel to this, and there, there are seven Orbs of power, which, when gathered together, may hold the key to saving your Emily.”
“You do realise you sound like a madman?” Edward mumbled, but even as he did, the man reached into his coat and pulled out what appeared to be a ball of black glass.
“This is the Orb of Tephilin, which I obtained myself,” the man explained. “At great cost. Each Orb is held by a Guardian, you see, and they will not give them up willingly. There is also an eighth artefact, held by a being known as The Keymaster. I can try to help you, if you are willing to help me. And if you believe what I have said.”
“What exactly do you get out of all this?”
“I will keep the Orbs.”
“For what purpose?”
“To learn what?”
“These seven Orbs are the most powerful magical artefacts of my world, and I am confident that through them, I can learn to access more powerful magicks.”
“You seem good on the surface,” Edward said wearily. “But if you really do have access that much power later on… I don’t know if I could trust you then.”
“I’m afraid if you wish to get this day back, it is a risk you’re going to have to take,” the man replied evenly. “What say you, Edward Grey?”
Edward lowered his head, breathing slowly, trying to order his thoughts. Finally, after what seemed like hours, he looked up at the man and said; “I don’t really have a choice, do I?”
With that, the man offered the Orb to Edward. Edward dropped to one knee, resting Emily in one arm as he held out a hand to accept the sphere.
“You must look into the Orb,” the man said. “Through it lies the gateway to my world. When you get there, a friend of mine will meet you, tell you what you need to know and help you.”
Edward looked at the Orb, but his mind was awash with confusion, grief and disbelief. He groaned in frustration, and looked up at the man.
“This isn’t working,” he snapped.
“You must concentrate. Try to see through the Orb, into its very core.”
Edward turned to the Orb again, first staring at it so intently it made his head hurt. Then, his eyes began to relax, and for the first time, he seemed to see something in the centre of the Orb, though it may just have been a trick of the light. Edward continued to stare into the Orb, and eventually, an image began to resolve itself in the centre of the ball. What at first appeared to be a small glimmer of light grew and twisted, until it filled the entire Orb. Edward saw the image of a harbour, hazy in the globe, but growing more vivid with any passing second.
Suddenly, Edward felt an agonising sensation rip through his entire body. He yelled out, or perhaps it was only in his head. His body felt distant from him, but at the same time, unbearably hot, as if he were aflame and his skin was peeling away in strips. Edward tried to concentrate on the Orb, on the body of his wife in his arms, but all the world was blinding pain. He passed out.
When Edward awoke, he noted that he was in bed, and he was nude. It wasn’t his own bed; the cover was heavier than his, and seemed to be made of some kind of scratchy material. His head felt fuzzy, and his limbs ached.
With a grunt, Edward opened his eyes. He was in a small room, much smaller than Edward’s bedroom at home. The walls were plain cream, supported by dark wooden beams. The floor was plain wood, and gritty with what could be dirt, or sand. The bed was also tiny, small enough for Edward’s feet to dangle over the edge. The mattress was thin, and lumpy. Next to the bed was a squat chest of drawers, and across from it was a wardrobe adorned with brass trimmings. Adjacent to the wardrobe was what looked to be a thick, hefty wooden door with a dark metal handle.
As Edward stirred, he noticed the Orb sitting on the chest of drawers. There was no image within it now, if there ever had been. Edward reached out, scooping up the Orb and drawing it close. For a long moment, he stared into it, but saw only a ball of black glass.
With a sigh, Edward sat up, setting the Orb back where he found it. He got to his knees and slowly shuffled over to the room’s sole window. Peering out of it, he saw a dilapidated marina which he instantly recognised as the harbour he had seen in the Orb. There were very few ships in the dock, and the street running along the seafront was dirty, cracked and patchy with holes.
Stepping away from the window, Edward made a swift search of the room. He found a brown jerkin and a pair of tights in the wardrobe, which he reluctantly pulled on. Under the bed, he found several sheets of frayed, yellowed paper and a few sticks of charcoal. In the bottom drawer of the bedside cabinet, he found a tattered map showing a strange country which was almost shaped like a dragon’s skull.
Edward studied the map for a moment before stepping out of the small bedroom. He found himself in a corridor with wooden stairs leading down. He heard a low murmuring coming from down the stairs, and headed in that direction.
As the lower floor came into view, Edward identified it as some kind of inn. The clientele appeared to be largely older men, poorly dressed and muttering to each other in low, apathetic voices. Edward hopped down the last few steps and froze in his tracks. A man at the bar appeared to be a centaur.
After a few moments of staring at the horse-legged man, Edward began to shuffle towards the bar on stiff, unresponsive legs. He weaved between the men, some of whom cast suspicious, accusing glares at him. Soon, he reached the bar and steadied himself against it.
Behind the bar stood a tall, portly man with bushy ginger sideburns, wearing a stained apron and a sympathetic smile.
“Mr Grey,” he said. “It’s good to see you.”
“How do you know my name?” Edward asked defensively.
“Gareiden told me that was your name,” the barman answered.
“And who would that be?”
“He was the gentleman you met last night.”
“Oh, the black guy?”
“The sorcerer, yes. He’s well respected in these parts.”
“Where am I? I’m a bit confused.”
“You’re in the port of Shedhmi, in the province of Hagoph. The country of Yokurgin. This is the land that Gareiden comes from. In fact, he’s so well respected that there’s something of a religion based around him.” The barman smiled wistfully at this. “He doesn’t really like to talk about it.”
“Do you have any idea why he brought me here?”
“From what I understand, you’ve suffered some misfortunes and he wants to help you.”
“You say he’s a sorcerer. Can he really reverse time?”
“I’ve no idea,” the innkeeper said apologetically. “I’ve seen him perform a few… I suppose you’d call them ‘spells.’ I know that he’s a great man, and that he can do great things. I’m what we call a Ventenist.”
“I don’t know what that means.”
“As I said, it’s not really a religion. We’re more a group of people who believe that Gareiden will do great things for this country. We’re at war at the moment, with the neighbouring nation of Fyrsobarthe. They declared war on us four years ago with absolutely no provocation.The King has not really been able to do much of anything. We were totally unprepared for this. We believe that the only person who can deliver us is Gareiden.”
“And what exactly is he doing to help you?”
“He’s got contacts. He’s got powers. He’s a great man.”
The bartender turned to a young, pretty girl behind the bar, and said; “Jaegold, get our friend a glass of water.”
“Yes, father,” the girl said, pouring water from a jug into a glass and handing it to Edward with a shy smile.
“That’s my daughter, Jaegold,” the innkeeper said proudly. “She’s a good girl.” Edward nodded as the girl moved off to serve someone else. “Gareiden has told me that you’re going to look for these Orbs for him. I’m basically here to tell you anything that you want to know before you set out on your journey.”
“So much,” Edward muttered. “I’m still a little hazy on everything.”
“I understand that this must all seem very strange.”
“This isn’t Earth.”
“No. This place you call ‘Earth,’ as I understand it, is on a separate… plane, or something. I’m not really up on the details. Gareiden doesn’t tell me everything. He’s told me the things that you need to know.”
“Where the hell do I start?”
“Well, Gareiden has told me that the Orbs are very, very powerful things. I understand that when you get them all together they may in fact have the ability to turn back time. Gareiden tells me that when an Orb nears its brethren, an image will appear in it that should lead you to the next one. The image will grow stronger as you near another Orb.”
“Can this one lead me to the next?” Edward asked, holding out the black glass globe.
“I don’t know,” the bartender admitted. “I would assume so, if it’s the only one you have. There are seven Orbs. Six, now, to collect. As I understand it, there’s one in each province, and each one is protected by a Guardian. I see that you found the map I left for you.”
“Yes, I did,” Edward said with a smile. “Thank you very, very much.”
The barman leaned over and pointed to the southwest corner of the island. “This is Hagoph. The Orb here is guarded by a great beast known as Yarwae.” He moved his finger east. “The Orb of Gredi, I believe, is guarded by some sort of sorcerer. They call him Herod.” The innkeeper’s finger continued to move east. “The next one I know is guarded by something called Kane, but what it is or who it is I do not know.” Now his finger moved north. “The Orb of Ghandala is guarded by a beast, huge and deadly, but I don’t know much about it, I’m afraid.” The barman’s finger headed west along the map. “The Orb of Judmipar, again, I don’t really know much about its Guardian. I hear it may be some sort of creature who has returned from the dead.” His finger trailed further west. “Finally, the Orb of Naiju is guarded by some sort of demon in those parts of the realm where none dare tread.”
Edward swallowed hard. The barkeep laid a sympathetic hand on Edward’s shoulder, and said; “I’m afraid that’s not even the worst. You see, when you have all seven Orbs… Gareiden tells me that they won’t work without something known as the Skull of Goaz. Whether that’s an actual skull I don’t know, but he tells me it’s located in the Dome of Nightmares, at the very end of this world.” The barman’s finger moved to the northwest corner of the map, where a small black circle was labelled ‘THE DOME OF NIGHTMARES.’ “It’s guarded by a creature known as The Keymaster. He’s known as the oldest, most powerful and most evil creature in this world.”
“I know it will be no easy task to get these,” the innkeeper continued softly. “But, if you want time back as desperately as you must, then I’m sure this is something you can do.”
“I can’t be expected to do this on my own,” Edward said incredulously. “Surely?”
“I don’t know,” the barman muttered. “He didn’t mention anything about allies. Perhaps there are people you can recruit. I know there are a few people here who will be willing to help you, at least as far as giving you equipment. There’s Aluis Saris across the road. He sells clothes and armour, and I know he’ll give you a very good rate. Pere Cromwell over at the general store, he may be able to furnish you with food, perhaps a weapon. You’d be very wise to visit the Ventenist temple. Obviously, they’re friends of Gareiden, and given that you’re doing his work, I know they’ll be more than willing to help you. I want to help you as well. I’ve put a few things together to help you on your way.”
Smiling, the innkeeper reached under the bar and pulled out a small burlap sack. Edward took the sack and inspected its contents, finding a small glass bottle of clear liquid, a leaf wrap containing some kind of crumbly, pale orange paste, five sticks of dried meat and a small, moleskin bag containing several golden coins.
“There are 250 wairs in there,” the barman said.
“How much is that,” Edward inquired, “in relative terms?”
“That should be enough to set you on your journey. As I said, Aluis should give you a good deal. Pere Cromwell… you may have to talk around. It’s all I could spare, I’m afraid. You may have noticed, but the port has seen better days. You see, there used to be a great city in this province, called Narshair. It was just down the road. But Fyrsobarthe launched some kind of attack on it. It destroyed the city, turning it into an impassable wasteland. It affected this place, as well. My wife… she was in the city when the attack happened. She didn’t make it. It’s just me and my daughter running the place now.”
“We have a common bond, there, my friend. A common bond.”
“If I could give you one piece of advice, I’d say avoid that wasteland at all costs.”
“Thank you for all your help,” Edward said gratefully. “I may still need use of the room for a couple more nights.”
“That’s not a problem,” the barman answered, smiling. “You can stay here free of charge. And if you do need anything else , do not hesitate to ask.” The innkeeper held out his hand. “My name’s Entat Bant, and you can always count on me for help, as long as you’re here.”
Edward shook Entat’s hand, then turned towards the small group of men at the other end of the bar. “One last question. The… horse guy.”
“Oh, you mean Joran.”
“Is that… real?”
“Back where I come from, we have very elaborate costumes that can make a man like me look like… that.”
“He’s 100% real, and he’s quite a character. I’ll tell him to show you some tricks some time. He’s quite popular around these parts. But don’t worry, there’s not many of his kind left, so if it bothers you, you shouldn’t run into too many of them on your travels.”
“Okay. Thank you very much.”
Entat smiled warmly, before moving off to serve Joran, who had set an empty tankard down on the bar. Edward quickly downed his glass of water, wincing at the strange, chalky taste, and headed for the door. As he opened it, he glanced back at the bar. Jaegold watched him go with a smile.
Edward found himself in a narrow street on the sea front. The harbour before him was very unimpressive, mostly empty and clearly in a bad state of disrepair. Edward turned, and saw a few rows of buildings behind the inn, which quickly gave way to rolling hills.
Opposite the inn, Edward spied a wooden stall, seemingly managed by a short, handsome man with what appeared to be green leaves growing out of his head. The man met Edward’s gaze and smiled amiably. Frowning doubtfully, Edward walked over to the vendor.
“Hello friend!” the leaf-haired man said eagerly.
“Hi,” Edward mumbled.
“I’m Aluis Saris,” the merchant enthused. “Pleased to meet you. Entat said you’d be popping over. You want to buy some clothes and stuff from me?”
“Yes. Preferably not tights.”
“What are you looking for? I’ve got armour, I’ve got clothes, things to keep you warm at night, things to protect you from spears, swords, axes. What sort of scrapes do you think you’re going to be getting into?”
Aluis punched Edward playfully on the arm, giggling. Edward glared back at the trader.
“The worst kind,” he grunted, “by the sounds of things. What’s the best you’ve got?”
Aluis turned, rummaging through a pile of greaves, gorgets and vambraces. Finally, he turned, holding up a finely-crafted chain shirt.
“I’ve got this lovely chainmail vest,” he grinned. “That will stop more or less anything, and it’ll only set you back 300 wairs.”
“Slight problem there,” Edward sighed.
“Is that a bit out of your price range?” Aluis asked, frowning at Edward sympathetically.
“It’s a lot out of my price range.”
“I’ve got this helmet. That’ll stop most blows to the head. Only 112 wairs and 50 betos.”
“Let’s start with the trousers. Do you have any more… loose-fitting undergarments?”
Aluis searched through another pile of clothes, before presenting Edward with a pair of brown trousers, complete with what appeared to be a rope belt.
“How much?” Edward asked.
Aluis peered over the edge of his stall, frowned at Edward’s tights, and said; “You can take those.”
“If you’re a bit strapped for cash,” Aluis went on, “I can offer you this leather fauld. I’m not sure how well it’ll protect you, but it’s better than what you’re wearing right now. I can let this go for 37 wairs, 50 betos.”
Edward accepted the fauld, and asked; “So what else can you tell me about this place? I’m kind of… new in town.”
“This place?” Aluis asked, frowning morosely. “It’s gotten a bit depressing around here recently, to be honest. It used to be bustling, this place. I come from a place in this province called Glomewood. It wasn’t my kind of place. Too dour around there. Not enough fun! That’s why I came here. It used to be fun. Not anymore.”
Aluis turned, grabbed up a long black coat embroidered with vines and leaves, and held it out to Edward. “How about this coat? It’ll keep you warm at night! Only 30 wairs.”
“25?” Edward countered.
“Only 30 wairs!”
“I’ve knocked this down 25% just for you, my friend.”
“Where did you come across these, by the way?”
“I made them! I’m a tailor! I may be the only garland tailor in all the land.”
“So not stolen, or anything?”
“I made them myself. I may be the only garland tailor in the land, and I pride myself on this.”
“And where do you get the materials from?”
“I buy them.” Aluis shook the coat. “Only 30 wairs! This is a fine coat. It took me four nights to make it.”
“That seems like an awfully long time.”
“But look at the craftsmanship!”
Edward inspected the coat, and then said; “28.”
“I suppose I can let it go for 28, just for you, friend!”
Edward shrugged on the coat, stroking the soft material of the lapels. When he looked up, Aluis was holding out a pair of sturdy black boots.
“How about these boots?” the garland exclaimed cheerfully. “Only 22 wairs and 50 betos!”
“I think I’m done buying armour and stuff,” Edward insisted.
“Are you going to go bare-foot?” Aluis questioned, peering down at Edward’s exposed feet. “These boots, they’re only 22.50!”
“I’ll take them,” Edward sighed, snatching the footwear and slapping a handful of coins down on the stall.
“How about this suit? You can wear it to all formal events. Only 412 wairs, 50 betos!”
“Do you remember how I said I was very, very poor?”
“Yes, but look at this suit! Its fabulous craftsmanship. It took me twenty nights to make.”
“I’ve got to leave now. I’ve got something very important to be doing.”
“Okay, thank you for your custom, and if you ever find yourself this way again, always stop by. Tell Entat to pop by. I sold that bastard a vest three years ago and he’s never come back to buy a new one. It must be full of holes by now.”
“That doesn’t speak well for your craftsmanship, really, does it?” Edward hissed. Aluis looked as though he may cry.
Edward slipped on the boots, before heading back to the inn to change. When he had disposed of the tights, he returned to the bar, noting that Joran the centaur had vanished.
“I’ve seen the creepy guy with leaves for hair,” Edward told Entat.
“Creepy?” Entat said, surprised. “I’ve always found him to be rather pleasant.”
“He’s weird,” Edward said firmly. “I don’t trust him. Where did you say I could get a weapon?”
“I’d recommend going to the general store. Pere Cromwell who runs the place is a bit of a stick-in-the-mud, but I’m sure he’ll be alright.”
“And don’t forget to head to the Ventenist temple.”
Edward left the inn and turned left, walking intermittent stalls. There were a few more people out and about, and Edward noticed a rather short, thickset man in a fine blue tunic and a stocky brunette woman in tarnished yellow armour perusing a stall loaded with fruits, meats and wooden pots of herbs and spices.
Edward moved on, and after a moment, noticed that the squat man and his burly female associate were following him down the narrow street. Frowning, he stopped and turned to face the pair.
“Why are you following me?” he demanded.
“I’m not following you,” the woman growled.
“No,” the short man agreed. “I am. What are you doing here? What’s your business? You don’t look like you’re from these parts.”
“Well deduced,” Edward said impatiently. “I’m not.”
“So, where are you from?”
“You won’t have a clue.”
“Really? Try me.”
“Nope. Where’s that, then?”
“Apparently… another plane. Or something.”
The short, bearded man squinted at Edward doubtfully, and said; “Well, what’s with your fancy pants dress, then?”
“I bought this crap,” Edward snapped.
“Bought, eh?” the little man said, his eyes seeming to light up. “So, got a lot of money where you’re from?”
“No. I just had it given to me.”
The short man squinted at Edward. “Where did you say you were from again?”
“Earth. Lincoln, if you must be so specific.”
“Why are we wasting our time with this dipshit?” the woman grumbled. “Are we going to get going, or what?”
“Fine,” the little man muttered. “Alright, then. But… I’m watching you.”
“I’m watching you,” Edward retorted.
“Well, I’m watching you back.”
“I’m watching you.”
The tall brunette turned with an impatient grunt and strode off. The short man glared distrustfully at Edward for a moment before following.
As they returned to the market, the short man, Zoltan Kaufmann, turned to his bodyguard and said; “Alyaa, put on a disguise, go to the inn and say you’re from some place called Urth. See if they give you money.”
“Alright,” Alyaa said. “But I want half.”
“Okay, fine,” Zoltan muttered impatiently. “Whatever.”
Alyaa slipped on a ragged cloak, tried to look as vacant as she could and walked over to The Smuggler’s Rest.
“Hello,” Entat said personably as Alyaa walked up to the bar. “How can I help you?”
“I’m kind of lost,” Alyaa said. “I come from Urth.”
“Ah,” Entat said with a grin. “Who put you up to this?”
Alyaa paused for a moment, then scowled. “I don’t know. Some cunt I’m probably going to make shorter in a few minutes.”
The brawny woman stomped out of the inn, leaving Entat to watch after her, bemused.
Edward continued to the general store, a sizeable wooden building with several large windows. Inside, the shop had a pleasant smell of age, a faintly spicy aroma which somehow reminded Edward of his grandmother’s house. Sunlight streamed in through the windows, dust motes dancing in the cream beams. It contained rows of wooden troughs which contained everything from black spices to rolls of paper. A very tall, thin old man with a head of thinning white hair stood at the wooden counter, and behind him was a huge rack of various weapons.
Edward slowly approached the counter. As he did, the willowy old man, who Edward assumed was Pere Cromwell, regarded him coolly with impassive grey eyes.
“You’ve been to visit Aluis, haven’t you?” he asked.
“Yes, I have,” Edward said warily.
“And I bet he charged you through the roof for that,” the shopkeep said, scornfully regarding Edward’s coat.
“28 of your so-called wairs,” Edward muttered.
“Oh. You could have picked something better than that up off the street.”
“Great. Do you want to buy it off me?”
“I most certainly do not. Don’t want anything that fool has made. You’ll be lucky if it doesn’t come apart at the seams the first time there’s a breath of wind.”
“What can I do for you, anyway, traveller?” the old man asked.
“Um… I’m looking for a weapon,” Edward said.
“As you can see,” Cromwell said, turning and gesturing to the many weapons behind him, “I have a wide selection. Were you looking for something for stabbing? Slashing? Bludgeoning?”
“Bludgeoning sounds good.”
“I don’t really believe in murder.”
Cromwell swiftly browsed his arsenal, before selecting a finely-crafted wooden club which he set before him on the counter. “How does this suit you?”
“That seems… fine. How much are you expecting for that?”
“I’ll sell you that for 30 wairs.”
“25?” Cromwell glared impatiently at Edward, who sighed and handed over a handful of coins. Cromwell snatched up the money, and in a flash, it had disappeared.
“If you want anything else from the shop,” Cromwell said, “feel free to browse. Bring what you want to the counter, but don’t try and steal anything. I’ve got a crossbow behind here.”
“The last thing you have to worry about with me is stealing,” Edward said indignantly as he walked over to a shelf containing several vials of blue and red liquids, tiny metal boxes and jars of what looked like milk.
“That’s what I like to hear,” Cromwell said. “Not enough honest people in these parts these days.”
“Where I come from, I’m a man of the law. What are these?”
Cromwell gave Edward a denigrating look. “They’re healing potions. The red one is obviously stronger than the blue one. The box is a medical kit. Bandages, needle and thread.”
“How much for the medical kit, then?”
“I’ll sell you that for… 1200 wairs.”
“Okay, that’s fine. I think I’m done shopping.”
As Edward left the general store, he noticed the short man and his hulking friend perusing several stores. With a frown, he turned and began to walk uphill. He passed a tannery and an empty blacksmith’s. The street opened up, and the stalls and buildings thinned out. Eventually, the cracked stone ground gave way to dirt and then grass.
After a while, Edward felt that he was being watched. He turned to see the short man and the tall woman at the bottom of the street, hiding around the corner of a building.
“Why are you following me?” Edward shouted. The figures swiftly disappeared from view. Sighing, Edward turned and continued up the hill.
After a partially-destroyed stables, Edward found himself surrounded by grasslands. Ahead was a solitary building, a large, intricately constructed grey stone temple surrounded by a low wall. Set in the wall above the huge wooden doors was an angular symbol, two points intersecting across a vertical line, cast in a shimmering green stone.
Edward approached the temple, the doors swung open before him. Edward stepped into the building, which seemed to consist of one vast room lined with squat wooden benches. At the head of the room was a low wooden table, surrounded by crimson cushions.
Edward turned to see an elderly bald man closing the doors. He was wearing a simple brown robe, and had a shaggy grey beard. Around his neck was a silver chain, at the end of which was a flat green stone of much depth and many shades. Carved into the stone was the same symbol which adorned the front of the temple.
“How can I help you?” the monk asked.
“I was sent here by Entat,” Edward replied.
“Entat, eh?” the monk said. “He’s a good man. Did he send you to aid us in our quest to help Gareiden?”
“Kind of. Actually, Gareiden brought me here.”
The monk’s eyes widened, and in a quiet voice, he said; “What do you mean by that?”
“I don’t really come from this place,” Edward explained. “I’m from a place called Earth. If you’ve heard of that?”
“You’re The Traveller, aren’t you?” the monk asked, an awestruck expression on his face.
“I… don’t know. What’s The Traveller?”
“You’re the one who Gareiden’s brought to collect the Orbs.”
“Yes. That does sound like what I should be doing.”
The monk grinned. “You’re an important person. We wish you the very best of luck on your quest. A lot’s riding on you.”
“Could you offer me any aid at all?”
“Of course! Of course. Come, sit.”
The monk led Edward over to the short table at the head of the room. While Edward sat on one of the cushions, the bearded man hurried out of the room. Momentarily, he returned with two steaming wooden bowls. He set one on the table in front of Edward and sat down opposite him, cradling the other bowl in his hands. Edward peered into the bowl, which contained a thin, almost colourless broth. The monk produced two small wooden spoons, handed one to Edward and began to sip at his own soup. Edward tried a spoonful, and found it rather insipid, but warming.
“It’s a great honour to sit with you,” the monk said. “Someone who was handpicked by Gareiden for such an important task.”
“Do you have any idea why he would choose me?” Edward asked unsurely.
“To be honest,” the monk said thoughtfully, “I would think it’s because you’re a man of great character, and that Gareiden has put the faith in you that so many of us crave.”
“Lucky me,” Edward murmured.
“Incredibly so!” the monk said, ignoring or oblivious to Edward’s sarcasm. “It’s a dangerous journey, and it will not be easy, but the rewards will be great.”
“I certainly hope so. If he can do what he said he can do, it’ll be worth it.”
“I’ve no doubt that he can. I’ve seen displays of his power, and this is before he has the Orbs. I would think there will be very little he can’t do once he collects them all.”
“What do you think he does have in store?” Edward asked, sipping at his soup. “I know you worship the guy, but-”
“‘Worship’ is not the word I would use,” the old man interjected. “We help him where we can. We believe that he will do good things for this world. Should he get that power, I would think the first thing he will do is end this terrible war.”
“That would seem quite a noble thing to do,” Edward agreed. “Can you tell me a bit more about this war? I know that Entat gave me some of the basics, but I wondered if you could enlighten me a bit more.”
“Yes, what can I tell you?” the monk mused. “This was a peaceful land. The seven provinces, except for Tephilin, co-existed more or less peacefully. We traded between ourselves as a community. The King ruled well. Then, four years ago, for no reason that any of us can discern, Fyrsobarthe attacked us. Their first attack was on the city of Bethelgane in Naiju. It was destroyed in a day. They sent troops over here. The King wanted no part of this war. He insisted that King Gulhammel enter peace talks. They had one talk, it went very unsuccessfully, and after that, the King reluctantly sent troops over to Fyrsobarthe. There’s been skirmishes since then, they launched some kind of chemical attack which destroyed Narshair, just down the road from here. In the past few years, the attacks have lessened, but we know that there’s still battles. The soldiers at the forts throughout the country are always sending back Fyrsobarthe soldiers. We just pray for a speedy and bloodless resolution to the conflict, and we believe that is what Gareiden can give us, if we help him.”
Setting his spoon down, Edward reached into his bag and produced the Orb. When the monk laid eyes upon it, the colour drained from his face.
“Gareiden gave me this,” Edward explained.
“He… he gave you the Orb of Tephilin?” the old man gasped.
“Yes,” Edward said.
The monk slumped back on his pillow, looking stunned. “I’ve followed Gareiden for years and I’ve never actually seen this artefact. May… may I touch it?”
“Uh… yeah,” Edward replied, holding out the Orb. The monk reached out, hesitated, then gently caressed the smooth glass ball.
“Yes,” he murmured. “Yes, I can feel the power in this. With these Orbs, we can do great good, my friend.”
“How do we use it?”
“Well, if what I’ve heard is correct, as you near the next Orb, an image will appear in this one and it should hopefully lead you to it. I’m not sure that the Orbs, in and of themselves, have any particular use, but when combined with the Skull of Goaz, I know that they will ascend Gareiden to a higher level, where he will be able to end this conflict and bring peace to the land once more.”
Edward put the Orb back into his bag, and asked the monk his name.
“My name is Brown,” the old man replied with a smile. “I’ve got a couple of things that I think will help you on your way.”
Brown reached into the voluminous sleeves of his robe and pulled out a small bag of small, white, round biscuits. “These are parchecs, made by the Ventenist monks. One of these will fill you for an entire day. We only give them to those we believe are truly worthy.” The monk also produced a pendant like the one he wore around his neck. “Wear this. It will protect you in dark places.”
“Well, thank you, Brown,” Edward said earnestly, slipping the pendant over his head.
Brown clasped both of Edward’s hands in his, lowered his head and said, reverently: “Godspeed on your journey, brother.”
The door to the general store opened, and Cromwell looked up to see a well-dressed turron and a tall, armoured woman walk in. The turron approached the counter and asked about the man who had just been in, specifically what he bought.
“I’m not sure why I should tell you,” the shopkeeper said indignantly.
The turron glanced around the shop, then leaned in close and said conspiratorially; “I think he may be a spy?”
“A spy?” Cromwell asked, feeling a slight flutter of unease in his stomach. “What do you mean?”
“Well, you know,” the turron said. “From over the sea.”
Cromwell began to feel genuine panic. “Do you really think so?”
“I think so.”
“Oh Gods! I sold him a club!”
Zoltan nodded, impressed that his bluff had worked. The shopkeeper leaned back, a troubled look on his face.
“If you really think he’s a spy,” Cromwell murmured, “do you think you could bring him in? There’d be a reward, I’m sure of it.”
“Maybe,” Zoltan said. “Maybe. Let’s just keep it quiet for now.”
“Of course,” Cromwell said firmly. “My lips are sealed.”
“Did he ask for anything else? Did he ask you any questions?”
“It was very strange, he didn’t know what the healing potions were.”
“I see. Maybe they don’t have them.”
Cromwell leaned on the counter, his head in his hands. “Gods, I’ve been a fool. He bought from Aluis as well! He’s really not from around these parts if he trusted that bastard.”
“I think, if he was after your healing kits, you might be in trouble. I’ll tell you what, I’ll take them off you for a very generous price.”
“We must of course stop them getting into enemy hands. In my old age, I seem to have lost my knack. I’d usually sell the mark one potions for 50 wairs, I’ll give them to you or 25. Or I’ll sell you the healing kit for 500 wairs.”
Zoltan considered this. “I’ll trade you a crossbow for it. That’s worth 500 wairs.”
Trying not to smirk, Zoltan unstrapped the heavy crossbow from his back and set it on the counter. As he did, Alyaa took a medical kit from the shelf and slipped it into her bag.
“Also, I’ll trade you fifty bolts for the healing potions.”
“Yes, absolutely. Take a mark two potion.”
Zoltan turned and nodded to Alyaa, who took all five blue potions and one red potion from the shelf.
Outside the store, Alyaa turned to Zoltan with a grin, and said; “At least that cunt managed to give us some good gear to sell off, or use if we need to.”
“Absolutely,” Zoltan agreed. “I think we should look in the temple now.”
“I don’t know if your kind of stuff will work in there,” Alyaa said doubtfully.
“No,” Zoltan said thoughtfully. “But at least we might be able to find out where he’s really from.”
The turron had a feeling that this would be a very lucrative day.
As Edward stepped out of the temple, a strange feeling gripped him – a sense that the Orb in his bag was growing very heavy, and very hot. Urgency gripping him, he pulled the Orb from his bag and stared at it intently. It seemed unchanged, but as he turned, the faintest glimmer of an image seemed to flicker in the very centre of the Orb. Edward felt his heart begin to race, and as he lowered the orb, for a split second spied what appeared to be a figure duck behind the wall surrounding the temple.
Hastily slipping the Orb back into his bag, Edward hurried through the gate in the wall and looked to where he had spied the figure. No one was there. With a frown, Edward began to cautiously walk along the wall.
A few metres from the temple, Zoltan and Alyaa spied a lean, hooded figure crouched behind the wall surrounding the building. Both halted in their tracks. Seconds later, Edward stepped out of the temple, stopped, took a black glass ball out of his bag and began to turn slowly around, studying the orb intently.
Then, Edward lowered the globe, and as he did, the figure ducked behind the wall. Edward put the ball away and rushed out of the temple grounds. As he did, the lissom figure scurried around the wall with uncanny quickness and disappeared from view. Alyaa put her hand on Zoltan’s shoulder, and the turron nodded. A savage grin on her face, Alyaa pulled the battleaxe from her back.
Edward turned from the wall and looked down at the town. He instantly spotted the little man from the market, and his friend. The woman had a large, intimidating-looking axe in her hands and was charging towards the temple. Edward tasted panicky bile and threw up his hands defensively, but the woman ran right past him and around the corner of the wall. As the woman turned the corner, Edward saw a tall, slender figure clad entirely in black leap nimbly over the wall and crouch in the shadows beneath it.
The woman seemed to see this too, and changed direction, vaulting over the wall with a yell. The figure, which appeared to be a very pale (Edward assumed) woman with purely white eyes, pulled out two narrow daggers. Before the black-clad figure could use them, however, the armoured woman darted forward and swung her axe around. It connected with the hooded woman’s ribs, and she let out a pained shout.
The hooded woman’s hands darted out, so quickly that they were almost a blur, and clutched the armoured woman’s arms. The black-clad figure hissed something that Edward could not quite hear.
“Whatever, you dumb bitch!” the axe-wielding woman growled, struggling to get out of the gaunt woman’s grasp.
The next thing Edward knew, the short, bearded man was next to him, waving his arms over his head and shouting; “Alyaa, I just wanted you to go and have a look! Don’t kill anyone!”
Alyaa didn’t seem to hear. She was thrashing violently back and forth, but the hooded woman moved with her, as quickly and smoothly as a snake. Then, the woman in black pushed Alyaa back, and the tall, brunette woman stumbled back with a shout. As quickly as they had appeared, the hooded woman sheathed her daggers.
Zoltan climbed hastily over the wall, and called out in ethereal; “It’s alright! It’s a misunderstanding! I’m sorry. We won’t hurt you.”
“Call off your dog, then,” the hooded darkling replied in the hollow, whispering language.
“Okay, okay!” Zoltan yelled, before calling out in common; “Back off! She’s alright!”
The strange man who said he was from Urth jumped clumsily over the wall and stumbled next to Zoltan, steadying himself against the wall. Growling, Alyaa shoved her hands out at the tall woman, who nimbly leaped backwards, avoiding the jab.
“Call her off,” the darkling hissed.
“I’m trying!” Zoltan replied, before switching back to common once again. “If she dies, the funeral’s coming out of your pay!”
That finally seemed to get through, and, scowling, Alyaa stalked away from the hooded woman.
Suddenly, the door to the temple swung open and a bearded monk stepped out, looking confused and irritable.
“What is all this ruckus?” he exclaimed. “What is going on here?”
“It’s alright,” Zoltan said, stepping over to the monk. “Just a silly misunderstanding. It’s just that we saw a…” The turron turned to where the fight had taken place, but the darkling was nowhere to be seen. “Never mind. We thought we saw someone we knew. Just a shadow.”
“I see,” the monk said, looking at Zoltan quizzically, before turning to the Urth-man. “Edward, be careful of the company you keep on this quest. You know how important it is.”
“Edward, eh?” Zoltan muttered under his breath. The monk looked down at Zoltan suspiciously, looked back at the one he had addressed as Edward, then shuffled back into the temple.
As soon as the door closed, the hooded figure leaped back over the wall. Alyaa glared at her, and the woman held up her hands defensively. Edward walked cautiously over to the tall, pale woman, noticing that the short, bearded man was following him.
Edward turned to the short man, who said something in the strange, hissing language he had used to communicate with the black-clad woman. Edward looked down at the bearded man, puzzled, only for the man to nod as if he knew something that Edward didn’t.
Edward turned back to the tall woman, who had a hand clasped over her ribs, and asked; “Who are you?”
The woman looked at him curiously for a long moment, and then said in halting, unsteady English; “No one.”
Somewhat unnerved by the answer, Edward looked down at the bearded man and said; “Okay, you seemed to be able to talk to her earlier. Do it again. Find out who the hell she is.”
“What’s your interest in the man standing next to me?” Zoltan asked the darkling in ethereal.
“I saw the object that he has,” the darkling replied. “It intrigues me.”
“Any idea of what it is?” Zoltan enquired.
“No. That’s what I intend to find out.”
“I see. May I suggest we find out together? There’s something suspicious about this man.”
“Allow me to introduce… me,” Zoltan said, extending a hand. “I’m Zoltan Kaufmann. I apologise for the actions of my associate, Alyaa. She can get a bit carried away sometimes.”
“Lilith,” the darkling said, gingerly taking Zoltan’s hand and shaking it once. She then turned to Alyaa, and after a long moment, slowly said, in common; “Sorry.”
“Can you tell your friend that I want to inspect her wound?” Edward asked of Zoltan.
“Okay, I suppose,” Zoltan said, before turning to Lilith and asking, in ethereal; “This person wants to check your wounds, but be careful.”
“He comes nowhere near me,” Lilith replied firmly.
“Okay,” Zoltan said. Then, to Edward; “I wouldn’t advise that, friend.”
Lilith dropped to one knee and inspected the wound on her side. The cut was angry and bleeding quite heavily, but the darkling simply pulled out her water skin, soaked the wound, and then stood up.
“I’m really sorry about this,” Zoltan said, pulling out one of the potions from the general store. “I feel this is partly my problem, so I will sell you this for just 40 wairs.”
“You can keep it,” Lilith said flatly.
“30?” Zoltan ventured.
“Thank you, no. Apologise to the woman for me, properly. My kind aren’t very well received.”
The short man turned to Edward and seemed to spot something. He narrowed his eyes, and said; “Religious man, are you?”
“Not necessarily,” Edward said warily.
“Then what’s that trinket you’ve got?” Zoltan asked.
“Oh. That bloke who just came out, he gave it to me.”
“So, been in town long?”
“About two hours. Well, that’s when I woke up, anyway.”
“I see. Where were you before? This Linkun place? What is Linkun?”
“My home town.”
“Okay, so here’s your story so far,” Zoltan said cynically. “Correct me if I’m wrong. You come from another plane called Linkun, into this town, at which point, you walk around and all the townsfolk give you things.”
“No,” Edward replied. “just the innkeeper.”
“I see. And the necklace?”
“Okay, that was given to me. The clothing I bought.”
“With what money?”
“The money that the innkeep gave me.”
“I see. What about that black… thingy?”
“Oh, that was given to me before I came here, actually.”
“And what else did you bring across from your other world?”
“As far as I can tell, nothing.”
“So… you got this orb from another world-”
“Actually, the Orb came from this world, from what I gather.”
“Can we find out why the fuck this shadow bitch is here?” Alyaa snapped irritably.
“I’ll get to that,” Zoltan said, before asking Lilith, in ethereal; “So what do you know about that black orb he’s got? Anything?”
“Nothing,” the darkling replied.
Zoltan folded his arms and turned to Edward. “So, what am I missing in this picture? Fill me in.”
“Mate, I need as much filling in as you do,” Edward insisted. “I have got no idea what’s going on. What I’ve told you is all I know.”
“What does it do?” Lilith asked in ethereal gesturing at the Orb.
Edward looked puzzled for a moment, before taking out the Orb and showing it to Lilith. The darkling stared at the Orb for a long moment, then turned to Zoltan and muttering that it has some kind of magical application, but exactly what she was unsure. The turron nodded in acknowledgement, before briefly translating for the rest of the group.
“That’s what I’ve been told,” Edward agreed.
“Told by who?” Zoltan asked.
“That bloke we just spoke to. And the bloke who gave it to me.”
“Who gave it to you? Where did you get that thing?”
“Strange sorcerer guy called Gareiden.”
Zoltan nodded in understanding, stroking his neatly-trimmed beard. Alyaa looked from him to Edward to Lilith, and snarled; “Okay, if someone doesn’t tell me what’s going on, I’m going to start breaking faces.”
“From what I can gather,” said Zoltan, “some sorcerer guy gave him a magic ball and now all the people are giving him things. I’m as lost as you are.”
Lilith hissed something in her language, and Zoltan explained that she had heard of more than one magic Orb.
“That ties into what I’ve been told,” Edward asserted.
“And what’s that?” questioned Zoltan.
“Gareiden needs seven of these,” Edward explained, “plus a skull of some kind, and then he’s going to try and stop the war.”
“Sounds like you’ve been sent on a fool’s errand,” Zoltan said scornfully. “There’s no way you’re going to get all of those and the Skull of Goaz.”
“I have no choice,” Edward said gravely. “I simply must.”
“Okay. Your funeral.”
Gesturing and speaking very carefully, Lilith turned to Edward and asked; “Before… you… looking at the Orb… Why?”
“The magic,” Edward said, “as far as I can tell, if I look into it, it can guide me to the next one.”
Lilith looked puzzled, until Zoltan translated. Then, he said; “I propose we go somewhere that’s not standing outside a temple.”
“I agree,” said Edward gratefully.
“Preferably with a bar,” Alyaa said gruffly.
“I do know a good inn,” Edward said, the ghost of a smile on his face.
The group moved off, and as they do, Zoltan looked back at the temple. He saw a brief glimpse of the monk peeking out from between the doors, before they slammed shut.
Edward led the three disparate individuals to The Smuggler’s Rest, where Edward and Zoltan ordered glasses of water, and Zoltan ordered Lilith a mug of something called “Piss Ale.” Alyaa retired to a table on her own, where a nervous Jaegold brought her a complimentary mug of corn beer on the condition that Alyaa start no trouble.
Edward, Zoltan and Lilith moved to a table in the corner of the room. Zoltan looked over at Alyaa, and sighed; “I’m not paying bail again.”
Edward outlined the basics of what he had been told and the journey he must undertake, neglecting to mention Emily. Zoltan in return informed Edward about some of the basics of life in Yokurgin.
Lilith eventually agreed to accompany Edward on his journey, and Zoltan admitted that he would be travelling in the same direction. He also noted that Edward seemed to have a knack for getting free things. Edward had to smirk at that.
As the sun sank below the horizon and the sky grew dark, Entat offered Edward and his new friends four rooms on the house. Edward finished his glass of water, growing used to the taste already, and then bid the others goodnight, trudging up the stairs for his first night’s sleep in this strange new world.