The city of Sherome was silent and still in comparison to the roar of the battle Haylie, Ringmore and Elera had left behind, they trotted through what was once a bustling main street leading from one end of the city to the other, winding through the derelict buildings like a great snake, it was like walking through a ghost town, and in the spooky air of the city Haylie found herself jumping at shadows. They had been travelling for a while and Elera had ridden on ahead to check for danger, when Haylie noticed some of the shadows were not what they appeared, more than once she thought she had been sure she saw one cross the street behind them.
They stopped next to a well in a large square, roughly in the centre of city, to fill their water pouches as they could not have taken full ones into battle. The moment Ringmore leaned over to touch the well crank, two dark cloaked figures appeared and took no time in placing themselves behind Haylie and Ringmore, both with daggers to their necks, their free hand grasped tightly around their fighting hands.
“You Morgantian filth how dare you come back here to take more you greedy slugs” said a malicious voice that came from behind Haylie, and she was sure that she could feel cold wet saliva in her ear, she winced at the thought.
“We're not Morgantian soldiers” Haylie pleaded, “We are rebels on our way to mount Morgant, we’re against the Morgantian army, we're currently fighting a war against them.” Some sort of communication passed between the two attackers in a strange language, then the grip around Haylie’s neck loosened and her attacker drew away from her. Ringmore’s however stayed put.
“And what’s your story?” The voice growled behind Ringmore but suddenly paused as Elera appeared, “And who are you?” the hooded figure gestured towards Elera who had trotted back to see if the others were keeping up, “he smells like Morgantian filth to me” the voice growled at Ringmore.
“I am Ringmore Rider and I fight under the rebel flag along with my companions” he stressed to his captor, who abruptly removed the dagger from around Ringmore's throat and walked over to the other figure where they stood side by side; Elera dismounted and joined Haylie and Ringmore to resolve their confrontation.
“I am Elera, enchantress and protector of Lardinia, now you must tell us who you are, because you’re obviously not with them” Elera demanded. The two figures removed their hoods to reveal the same face; no - the more they looked the less alike they were; one had quite a broad face and thick eyebrows and a larger body frame, the other had a slimmer face, thin eyebrows and a daintier figure. But they were both roughly the same height and both of them had strangely shaped black marks on their faces.
“My name is Adiana and this is my brother Aden” The young woman replied
“This is my friend Haylie, she is the other worlder come to fulfil the prophesy and that’s why we’re on our way to Morgant. I believe you are already acquainted with our friend Ringmore” Adiana and Aden told them of how Merdock had attacked what was left of their home when they were small, that the Morgantian soldiers took away everyone in the city that had not fled west to safety, and their parents along with them.
“We were out fishing the last time they attacked, and when we returned we found that we were the only ones left in the city, and today when we heard the battle we assumed more soldiers would do a sweep of the city in case they found anyone hiding here” Aden explained.
“That’s why you attacked us, you thought we'd come to take you away” said Haylie.
“Well we’ve had to learn how to fight for ourselves since we were little so we’re ready for any attack” Adiana said sadly.
“Listen,” said Elera, an idea had just occurred to her, “what if you joined us?”
“What do you mean?” Adiana and Aden asked together, intrigued.
“Well our plan was to infiltrate Merdocks castle while his army is distracted by the battle, we’re hoping that because of this many of his guards won’t be at their posts, work our way through the labyrinth of tunnels beneath the castle dealing with any trouble we bump into, find Merdock, defeat him and restore peace and prosperity to Lardinia” Elera explained.
"And you were hoping to achieve this by yourselves? The three of you?" Aden pointed out.
"I never said any help would be unwelcome!" Elera said sarcastically inviting the twins to join them.
“Well we have been trying to fight for our freedom for years without much reward so how could we refuse, right Aden?” They both agreed to follow the others to Morgant and try to fight and defeat Merdock. They started for Morgant, almost immediately and had crossed Sherome in no time at all.
“Now the hard part is crossing the three miles of open land between here and the border of Morgant” Ringmore stressed.
“Not today it won’t be look” Haylie pointed out to the land in front of them, the fog had become so thick that it would provide the perfect cloak to hide their crossing to Morgant. They left the two horses behind in Sherome as they decided it would be easier to scale mount Morgant without them.
“So you’re an other worlder” Adiana said to Haylie, trying to split the silence hanging over them.
“Well if enough people keep calling me that I guess it must be true, though from my point of view you're the other worlders” she answered
“So where are you from then?”
“A world called Earth, well we call it Earth”
“Really, what’s it like there?” Adiana asked thoroughly intrigued.
“Well it used to look a lot like your world, but now it’s covered with giant cities made of metal and concrete and there are countries so rich that they can do almost whatever they please and some so poor that its people can barely feed themselves. There are wars between countries and disputes over leadership but we enjoy our simple pleasures and help others when they need it most”
“It sounds like a very complicated place to me, wars and fights and rich and poor, what is concrete?”
“Ha ha, well I think it’s a mix of small stones, sand, water and a funny thing called mortar that binds it all together, it starts out as a runny mixture and then it hardens until it’s almost unbreakable”
“Fascinating.” Adiana continued to ask Haylie questions about Earth and all the people and animals that live there but by the time they emerged from the fog at the edge of the border Adiana had run out of questions and they all grouped together to consult Elera’s map, to make sure they were heading in the right direction when they entered the perilous lands of Morgant.