A Gypsy's Tale Ch. 10byLadytiger199©
Tecor tightly hung to Esric as the horse ran across the desert. Tecor was not used to riding a horse. Her people used them to pull carts, and other tasks, but hardly rode them. However; it was important to Esric that she would come with him, to tell his father of their engagement. After riding for two days, her butt and legs were sore. All she wanted was a hot bath, and a soft bed.
"Do not worry Tecor, we are almost there," Esric said softly, as he looked across the grand expanse of sand. "Then we can start our life together." Tecor smiled at that and nuzzled his back lightly, resting her head on it.
They arrived at the fortress at noon. As soon as they entered, Esric's face became serious. "Where are the people?" He asked looking around the empty streets. "There should be merchants, and throngs of people in the streets." He stopped his horse and climbed, off motioning to Tecor to stay.
Esric's eyes scanned the shadows, as his hand went to his sword. He heard a sudden noise behind him, and unsheathed his sword in a blink of an eye, meeting another blade. It was quickly lowered once Esric saw who it was. "Bron, what are you doing here?" He asked as he sheathed his sword
Bron, of the northern lands, was a tall man, with large muscles he earned from long days of working. His long black hair held back with a leather thong, and his hazel eyes, which normally were smiling, look at Esric with a serious tone. "Your father sent for me to meet a possible wife, to help my lands," he said in his deep voice, as he too sheathed his weapon. "I arrived yesterday, and found it like this. I knew something was wrong. I found a servant girl who told me, that a female mage was holding your brother and father captive. I have spent time since then trying to figure out how to get into the fortress to free them."
"Bron, are your people not sorcerers? I know your magic is strong I have seen you use it," Esric said in a worried voice. "Could you not simply challenge her?"
"And risk the life of my King? I know you are worried Esric, but use your head. If I knew they were safe I would challenge her," he said, firmly crossing his large arms across his chest. "Now that you are here, you can get me in there."
Esric shook his head. "No. There is only one entrance, and that is through the front."
"Then we seem to have little choice." The large man said with a sigh.
"You have no choices," said a bitter voice behind Bron. Both men turned as Lady Branwen hit Bron in the head with a stone, knocking the man unconscious with a wild look in her eyes, "You are mine now, Esric," she said with a smile, as her fingers lit with a blue flame
"Branwen," Tecor breathed.
Branwen growled, and threw a fiery ball at the horse. The horse reared, knocking Tecor to the ground.
"Tecor!!!" Esric yelled, as he began to move towards her, but fire stopped him in his tracks. "Leave her, Prince." Branwen growled. "She is nothing but a gypsy you deserve more...," she said, moving to him and putting her arms around him. "So much more," Esric snarled, and shoved her away from him. "Get away from me, witch."
Branwen glared at him. "Then I guess I will have to kill your brother and father," she said, with an evil grin on her red lips.
"Let my family go!" Esric roared, moving towards her with rage in his eyes.
"Harm me and they die Esric. I have placed a spell that can kill them if I wish it." That stopped Esric in his tracks. He did not know much about mages, and was not sure if such a thing was in their power. "That's a good boy. Now here is what you will do. You are going to marry me, or I kill your family, and the wench as well, for the hell of it."
Esric looked down at Tecor's body, then over to Bron's. They were both depending on him. "Alright Branwen. Let me see to my friend first though," he said motioning to Bron, hoping she had not heard their entire conversation.
Branwen looked at Bron then nodded. "Fine take care of him and your whore as well, but quickly," she snapped
Esric moved over his friend noticing that the wound was already healed. Bron was just playing hurt. "When I move to Tecor make your move. Bind her, do not hurt her, I do not know if that spell was a bluff," he whispered. He then moved over to Tecor, slowly his eyes turned to Branwen. He gently picked Tecor's unconscious body up in his arms; that was when he saw Branwen go ridged, and her eyes go wide with shock.
"I love dealing with mages," Bron said with a large smile on his face, as he moved over to Branwen, his hazel eyes aglow with magic. He put his finger under Branwen's chin making her look at him. "You do not have enough power for the spell you described lady. Now where are the King and his son?"
"Go fornicate yourself Sorcerer, I will not tell you anything," she said looking up at him with a defiant eye. Bron looked over at Esric. "I like her, can I keep her?" He asked with a joking smile, which vanished when he saw tears in his friend's eyes.
"She hit her head harder than I thought. She won't open her eyes, and her breathing is slow. I have to get her in a bed and a healer to her, but where is everyone?" Bron went over to Tecor and examined her carefully. "She will live Esric, but we still need to know where everyone went."
Branwen cried out loudly as Bron tightened her binding. "Tell him."
"I do not know! I used my father's magic. He gave me a vile in case I needed it, I simply told them to be gone. Everyone vanished, even the king and Damien," she said tears coming to eyes.
"There is only one place we can vanish people, the shadow realm, but the monsters there will not likely give up their new toys so easily. You will have to go there Esric, and free them."
"Why cannot you go?" Esric asked, reluctant to leave Tecor's side.
"I need to stay here to make sure Branwen does not escape. Also I have to keep the portal open so you have a chance to escape." Esric nodded, finally agreeing.
"Let's get Tecor to a safe place first," he said lightly.
Esric laid Tecor out on his bed, and touched her face lightly with the back of his hand. "I will be back," he whispered, softly kissing her on the forehead. He then turned to Bron, and nodded. "Alright I am ready."
"Alright my friend, but first some things you will need to know. Human swords cannot cut the shadows. The only thing that will hurt them is light." He reached down into a small bag tied to his belt and handed Esric a small golden idle, with a red diamond in the center. "This will keep them back. You need to go to the shadow king and challenge him. I will warn you that if you lose, you will be lost forever." Esric nodded holding the idle tightly. Bron muttered ancient words softly, and a dark swirling vortex appeared in front of them. "Good luck my friend." Esric smiled then ran into the vortex.
The demon world was a mirror image of his own, except all of the colors were gone; there was nothing but shades of grey. He was at the edge of the town, and moved quickly through it. He could see the town folk walking around with horrified looks on their faces; he tried to speak to a few, but none seemed to even know he was there. "I guess they cannot see me," he said softly to himself. "Now if I was the demon king where would I be? The fort, in the throne room," he said with a smile on his face. He moved through the town like a ghost, making sure to watch his back.
He entered the castle carefully. He had yet to see a demon in this world, maybe he was lucky, or maybe it was just the idol. He moved through the halls he knew so well, reaching the throne room easily. He was right. There, where he would usually receive visitors, was a large demon.
He was not ugly, but rather strange. He had long curled horns that twisted this way and that. He had a dark grey color to his skin. He had long finger nails which he looked at as if he was bored. His legs were long and slightly crooked and currently being propped up by Damien. Esric then looked around for his father, finally spotting him in a cage in the corner of the room. At least they are safe He thought to himself, as his eyes returned to the demon. Esric took in a breath, gathering his courage, as he stepped out of his hiding spot.
The demon turned his face, and his red eyes locked onto Esric. "I was wondering how long it would take you to get here human. I grew bored waiting for you," the demon said in a deep knee shaking voice.
"So you knew that I was coming?" Esric said softly trying to remain calm as possible, but it was hard, the demon was truly frightening.
The demon smiled, showing its slightly yellow teeth. "Of course it was not hard to sense something alive, and fresh. I am guessing you are here for the new toys I have obtained. Honestly most of them are not very fun, I was going to let them go anyways, however these two," he said gesturing to Damien and his father. "I am going to keep them I think, but I sense you do not wish that." The demon smiled and relaxed into the chair. "You have nothing I want human, so please just leave."
Esric bit his lip, and took a moment to think of what a demon would want. Something cruel and evil.... Suddenly he had an idea. "Of course not, I am but a cursed man; I have nothing to offer you."
The demon picked up his eye brows, and turned his head so that he was looking at Esric directly. "Cursed you say?" Esric nodded and gave a sad look. "Yes. I am forced to love a woman, and she me. We have no control, and now I must spend the rest of my life with someone I do not wish to be with. Such a horrible thing to happen to two people, especially to a young man such as myself. No more freedom for me, it is marriage for me, and she is the only one that can satisfy my lust." The demon smiled with delight. "Such an evil curse, I could use that with such delight on my fellow demons..... But is a curse worth these two souls?"
Esric shrugged his shoulders, "I do not know myself, but it is hell for us, to be stuck with someone for the rest of our lives.... Can you imagine if we hated each other?" The demons eyes filled with gleam. "Yes human, I shall take your curse, and you can have these humans. You will be free of the curse and your woman." The demon moved his hand, and Esric felt cold, then the realization hit him. Tecor may not want me..... Then the world went dark.
Light slowly washed over him, and he realized that he was on a bed, and someone was stroking his face with a wet cloth. He moaned lightly, and someone soothed him, by touching his arm slightly. "Tecor..." He whispered lightly. "Shhh... Rest my love. Your father and brother are safe as are all of the villagers." Esric let out a satisfied breath. Tecor was still there, and everyone was safe.
When Esric woke again it was night, candles lit the room giving it a warm glow. Someone was singing lightly as a hand touched his face lightly. "Tecor..." He whispered as soon as he recognized the voice. "Yes," She said softly. "I am glad to see you are awake, you have slept all day. I was worried about you." Esric smiled and sat up slowly groaning as he did. His head pounded like he was hung over, and the world spun slightly. Tecor reached over and grabbed a cup and placed it in his hands. "Drink this it will make you feel better." Esric drank the brew slowly; it was sweet, but strong enough to make him cough after he finished it. Soon the world stopped spinning, and his head did not hurt. "Thank you," he whispered softly, and looked at her for the first time since coming from the demon realm. He had had nightmares during the darkness of looking at her and not wanting her anymore. She was the only thing in his life that made it worth anything.
Their eyes met, and Esric felt a rush of want, and desire. He smiled, realizing that he still loved her. Was the curse really gone then? Surely the demon would not let them go empty handed. He reached out and touched her face wanting to make sure she was real.
Tecor smiled and placed her hand on his, enjoying the comfort it gave her. She had no idea what happened in the other realm. The town's people appeared out of thin air, then after a time so did Alessio and his brother. Esric fell from a vortex from the ceiling; he was muttering "No curse, no curse," as he shook violently. She spent the hours by his side worried about him, wondering what happened and what he did.
"I am so happy to see you," he said leaning forward and kissing her on the lips. Tecor smiled and kissed him back. "And I am happy to see you."
"I love you Tecor," he whispered against her lips, his eyes locking onto hers. Tecor smiled softly, "And I love you." Esric breathed a sigh of relief.
Tecor saw the relief, and confusion ran across her face. "Esric, what is wrong? Did something happen?" Esric breathed in slowly. "Nothing terrible my love. The demon let the villagers go without a fight, but my family was a different matter. I managed to trade him for my curse."
"Your curse?" Tecor thought about it for a moment, and then realized that she was no longer bound to Esric, and then another thought hit her. "Wait did I not break that cruse when I forgave you?"
Esric thought about it for a moment. "Yes I guess you are correct. I just had such horrible dreams while I laid here, it is just comforting to have you here and hear you say that you love me." Tecor smiled and held him close.
It was then the door opened and Alessio entered the room. He smiled when he saw the two holding each other. "I am glad to see you are well my son. I know that you are not completely well just yet, but I need to talk to you." Tecor took the hint that it was a serious talk and stood from the bed. "I am going to get Esric something to eat," she said with a smile, and then left the room, closing the door behind her.
Alessio smiled softly, and then sat next to his son on the bed. "I have not done this since you were a boy." He sighed wishing for those simple days once more. "Esric, your brother was the one who sought to tear Tecor and yourself apart, for the reason of wanting to bed her. I do not know why he would do such a thing when he has his own betrothed, I guess I do not know him as well as I thought. However; now I believe I must call off his wedding, and forgo giving him the crown. If he cannot make the right choice regarding his family, how can I ever trust him with this kingdom?" Alessio took in a deep breath. "You are the next in line to rule, and I know you would treat this kingdom with fairness, and rule with a calm head."
Esric nodded slowly, he never expected to be king, even though he was the second oldest. "Father.... I know that my role as the second son implies that I should accept this role, but I could not do such a thing to Tecor without asking her."
"So I gather that she accepted?" Esric could only nod. "Yes I figured that out when I saw she came back with you. I am happy for you my son, and I will not make it final until you have had a word with her."
"Also, a condition of our engagement is that I travel with her. It is only fair since she lived in my world for a time, that I would live in hers."
"I do not plan on leaving this Earth anytime soon." He then pulled Esric into a tight hug. "I only wish your mother was here to see you so happy." Esric smiled and hugged his father back. "I am sure she smiles upon us." He broke the hug, "Now you must tell me what you have done with Branwen?"
Alessio chuckled lightly. "Amazingly, Bron still wants her. He says it will be fun breaking her, and teaching her a lesson or two. He has more than enough power to control her, and I doubt her father will disagree to the union. He comes from a good family, and any children they have will be well versed in magic." Esric laughed lightly. "Well I shall have to wish him luck with that viper."
Tecor reentered the room. "I did not want to interrupt, but Esric has not eaten since this morning," she said, gesturing to the tray full of food she held. She placed it on his lap. "Now I want you to only eat as much as you can. Do not force yourself, otherwise you will get sick."
Alessio laughed. "She already sounds like a wife," he said standing up. He hugged Tecor tightly and kissed her forehead. "I am happy to have you in this family." And with that he left.
Tecor sat down and enjoyed the company of her love, as he told her of what his father proposed for the kingdom, what was to happen to Branwen, finally where they should travel to once he got better. Soon he was fast asleep with her humming lightly and caressing his face with her finger tips. She knew that many things would change in her life, but this was forever, and that what mattered most to her.