Alexandros: Ch. 18byJoeBarnosky©
Alexandros Manuscript Page 85
I reached the city in just a few hours and just in time as well. The bazaar full of merchants and customers were packing up and heading in behind the city's protective walls. I found this strange because from the sun's position it was only midday. I planned to slip into the city along with the citizens but I first needed something to cover with. I couldn't just walk through the gates wearing hardly and clothing.
I spotted some clothing and a cloak my size from a clothing merchant near the outer edges of the bazaar. With the confusion of all the people in the market, I figured I wouldn't have a difficult time in liberating it from the merchant. In just a few minutes time, I found myself wearing new clothes and wrapped in a cloak and strolling through the city gates unmolested.
The first place I headed was the nearest tavern. In any town or city a tavern was the place to go for information. This town Rosetta was like any other seaport town.
The tavern was like any other tavern: full of people in hushed conversation, mellow playing music by a small band using elegant instruments and low lighting from the few windows that let just enough light in to see what you are drinking and the people sitting around you. I grabbed a cup of cool well water by the door and worked my way to the table in the darkest corner of the place. I would be recognized as a stranger and within a few moments someone would approach me offer services of some sort.
After only a few minutes I had a visitor. He was the last person I expected to see.
"So we meet again Alexandros."
I looked up to startled to see the face of the mysterious man I has spoken with in the tavern on the isle of Creta. "It appears so, only I never caught your name," I said calmly as I tried to keep the surprise and curiosity from my voice.
"Forgive me. The name is Madu," he said bowing slightly before me. "May I?" he asked gesturing to the seat at the table.
I nodded my head. I have to admit that curiosity outweighed everything else at the moment. It really picked up when he dropped his cowl from his head. His ears were not like mine or anyone I had ever seen. Instead they began like all ears do but continued into almost a point as they went upward."
"Whoa!" I said. "Just who are you?"
"You are startled by my appearance, which is to be expected," he said with a smile. "I come from a people that have been long forgotten. My homeland of Atlantis is no longer and like the many survivors, I walk the lands with only my knowledge."
"That story is just a myth," I said waving my hand in dismissal.
"It is more than myth. Though I have never seen it with my own eyes, I know it existed."
"Then how can you be so certain?"
"Because like the rest of my people I am born with the knowledge," he said casually. "I am an Esper."
"An Esper?" I asked not knowing at all what he was talking about.
"Yes. Though we were the same people and lived in harmony with one another it was our skin that distinguished from one another. Like me there are the Espers and our cousins the Magi. The Magi are just like us only they have an ebony colored skin. Now we have split apart from each other, but we still carry the same goal."
"And what goal is that?"
"The fight against the demons," he said sounding menacing as he said it.
Whoa! Do you think he means elves and drow?" Furloft asks.
"Why not? I mean everything has to come from somewhere," Sternigan reasons. "Think about it. We know of the Espers because they have either been mentioned by name or the subtle hints in stories like the tale of Roselyn Ortega and her knights, Roses Red. Father Mortigan was an Esper though it was never clearly stated that way."
"I could see how the Espers and Magi are descendents of the original Atlanteans, but it doesn't explain why no one ever sees people with pointy ears," Furloft argues.
"Well why not? We are like any other animal. We can certainly evolve to better fit in. They would be outcasts, so why wouldn't they change to better blend in and hide."
"So if they have been helping people throughout history, then there has to be subtle clues no one has picked up on," Furloft theorizes.
"Because nobody knows what to look for. Until now."
Sternigan smiles as he returns to the reading.
"The very ones you have fought. The ones that set your life in the direction it has taken." He sat staring me in the eye as he spoke. His fingers interlaced set upon the table. He spoke with the confidence in the knowledge he bestowed onto me. "My homeland was destroyed because we opposed the demons. It is why they seek to hunt us down. We know much about them whereas many don't."
"Like me," I said. I couldn't believe I bought into his story, yet somehow I knew it was the truth.
"Yes, like you," he said with a curt nod. "You also have an ability we have only seen in very few. You get a feeling when the presence of evil is near. You have a superior strength and agility over others."
How did he know? My mind whirled around these revelations. Everything he said was true. The feeling I had before I fought those beasts. The agility and strength to match. I just stepped into a world I never knew existed and it was one I knew I would never step out of again."
"What does this mean for me?"
"It can mean nothing or it can mean greatness for you and the rest of the world. The goal of these demons is to rule over mankind and the world. There are people that worship many gods, but the demons are in a war with just one. And that one has put the fight into the hands of man."
"Man has obviously lasted this long," I stated. I was looking for some doubt or none at all. If I was going to commit myself to a cause I wanted to know beyond a doubt that it was authentic.
"True. And we may still be around for several more millennia without your help. Though it is not a chance I care to gamble on."
"So why am I here?" I asked. I figured what the hell. I needed something to restore my honor. And maybe, just maybe I'd have the opportunity to avenge my mother.
"A Demon Lord. The very same Demon Lord that is responsible for the destruction of my homeland is here. He has opened one of the many Demon Gates and is leading a massive army through Egypt. Once he has conquered these lands, he'll move to other lands until he has taken over the entire Earth."
"And how do I intend to stop him?"
"Not just you. There are others that will assist you, not all with the same knowledge that you have, but for a common purpose. You are the key that will open a door to a new tomorrow."
"So where do I start?"
"Well you start by acquiring a weapon that you can use against the demons. Travel west along the coast to the ancient fortress Zawiyet Umm el-Rakham. The weapon you will seek is hidden deep beneath the castle and guarded by the Great Wyrm, Julunggul."
"A dragon? This is getting better and better." It was the only thing I could think of at the time. The only time I heard of dragons were in the stories my mother used to read to me at bed time.
"You would be surprised what kind of foul creatures that can be summoned from the bowels of Hades. This is just one of many Great Wyrms that have been brought into our world."
"So I just march in and asked nicely or is this going to be a treasure hunt that just pisses this dragon off?"
"You will know where to go once you reach the castle. You will feel the sword's presence and as you near it the sensation will become stronger. With it you will slay Julunggul. When you leave from there, you will need to head south east until you reach Naukratis. It is there you will meet your new friends. Friends that will help you to defeat this terror that now strikes the land."
"I need transportation."
"There is a stable on the east side of town. Speak to Sefu the blacksmith. He will give you the fastest horse he has and a sword should the need arise to need one." He looked around the tavern then replaced the cowl over his head. When he got up to leave he turned to me and said, "Good luck Alexandros for we shall meet again." Then he walked away and disappeared through the tavern door.