These rowers really do need to pick up the pace. The people of Britannia should always work with the utmost urgency, and it is probably in their best interest to return to the mainland before darkness covers the sky. When I departed from the homeland, it was only dusk and now the sun stands high above the sky, but the blue sea is calm for our voyage. Perhaps it was good of me to follow the Teller’s instruction and depart a day early. The two rowers are both seated in front of me. The male is wearing a standard puffy white fabric top, and brown leggings, but his headwear is large and circular. It prevents me from being able to see his face. The female with her back to me wore similar attire, all I was able to see of her was the back. The only distinguishing factor about her was that she has her auburn hair done up. But unlike the man, she was not rowing, she simply sat and watched as he did the work.
“Are you going to just sit there?” The rowing man asked.
“As opposed to what, standing?” The female sitting with her back turned to me replied.
“Not standing, rowing.”
“Rowing, hadn't planned on it. I have made it clear that I do not believe in the experiment.”
“One goes into an experiment knowing one will fail.” The man retorts.
“But one does not undertake an experiment knowing one has failed.”
“Can we just get back to the rowing?”
“I suggest you do, or we are never going to get there” She says with a smile on her face.
“No, I mean I would greatly appreciate it if you would assist.”
“Perhaps you should ask him, I presume he has a greater interest in getting there than I do.”
“I suppose he does, but there is no point in asking him.”
“Because he doesn’t row.”
“He doesn’t row?” The woman asked shocked.
“No, I mean he doesn’t row.”
“Ah, I see what you mean. Look land is ahead, keep rowing!”
It is strange for people to speak as though I am not present, but i suppose under the circumstances, it is to be expected. Yet it still it puts me off that I am not able to see the faces of either of these rowers.
We begin to to pull up to the docks. They look to be quiet battered from the water, but they appear to be sturdy enough. I climb the ladder up to the raft. Once on the dock I look back to the rowers to thank them and bid them farewell, but they have already turned their row boat around and have began to make their way back to Britannia.
“Thank you for your services!” I bellow hoping that they are still able to hear me.
“You have already thanked us” The male rower replied.
“But he won’t thank us.” The woman retorted.
“But he has thanked us.”
“I suppose so. It was our pleasure Sir. Comstock, we have done our best to assist”
“And will do our best to assist.”
I watch as they row into the distance and behind a distant curtain of water. I find my mind wondering, perhaps the way they speak is just how they were taught, it is not as though we were given the same teaching, but that is a matter for another time. As I begin to make my way down the path towards the entrance of of Elderberg’s castle, I walk past numerous small farmers huts and villages. The huts where these people live are made of old wooden and planks and straw. Residents of the area walk past me as they go about their daily lives. A farmer with a wheelbarrow, men with sacks of wheat thrown over their shoulders, even some noblemen riding horses ride past me as I approach the castle. After about twenty minutes of walking, I finally reach the entrance of the caste. It is enormous. The light beige walls of the castle tower over the redwood trees that I walked past on my way and cast a large shadow around the surrounding land. The oak gates to the castle were nearly as large. Once I make it to the entrance I am greeted by two well built knights, both fully armoured from helm to boots. On their chest plates was engraved the image of a horse, and mounted on it was a king with his sword held above his head. The two knights were armed with metal spears, that easily measure twice the length of their bodies.
“Welcome to the Elderberg fortress Sir. Comstock, you were expected to arrive for the execution almost a full day from now.” The knight said as he bowed on one knee.
“There is no reason to be so formal, I am a knight, same as you. I was planning on arriving tomorrow, yet the Tellers of Britannia advised me against it.”
“Ah the Tellers! They claim to know all that is to happen and yet have nothing to show for it. Those who claim to possess the powers of magic’s are more credible. If you ask me the lot of em have no place.”
“Oh stuff it, the only reason you don’t believe in them is because they told you that your mate was just another whore.” The knight began to chuckle to himself.
“She was no such thing!”
“What was her mate’s name again, Gilbert the farmer, or was it Fredrick the butcher. Oh yes, how could I forget, It was both!”
“I apologize for my opinionated friend, Sir. Comstock, shall we take you to see Lord Dewit now? He has been eagerly anticipating your arrival.”
“I will be able to find my way thank you, It has been many years since I have visited, I would like to look around.”
“Very well.” The knight replied.
The two knights turn their backs to me and make their way to adjacent sides of the gates where two levers were. Simultaneously, they look at one another and nod, they then pull the levers. The ringing of large bells began to echo throughout the land, and the gates slowly opened revealing the city within. Starting from the gates, the dirt path was covered in bright beige square stones where carriages could make their way. The side of these roads were coloured by a similar, yet slightly darker stone. There are matching coloured shops that cover the entrance of the city, running along the sides of the roads.
As I make my way into the city and walk past the two knights, I stop and turn to face them once more.
“It was a pleasure, perhaps, if we ever meet again, we can all will share drinks on a more convenient occasion.”
“Thank you Sir.” The knights replied in unison.
The road beginning at the gate forks in three directions. I decide take the eastern path first and then work my way to the west side of the city. As I walk further down the eastern road, the posh lifestyle of the castle becomes less evident to me. Beaten beggars covered in dirt sit at the side of the road, with their heads in their laps and hands sticking out in cupped in front of them. The once majestic buildings and roads are coated with a dark tinge of grey and cracks are spread like a plague. The sick with nowhere to go lay on the street like corpses left without burial. Then suddenly as I continue to make my way through these slums, a man with long dark tangled hair, who wore tattered and torn brown rags, and had a rough unshaven beard ran in the opposite direction of me with a cloth pouch in his hand. He bumps my shoulder and continues to run. I look back to grab him but he was no longer running, rather he was standing still, I could hear the coins rattling in his pouch. Blocking his path was a large mechanical device. It was shaped like a town officer, but was clearly a machine. I never believed they existed, but it looks like the rumors I heard in Britannia were true. Painted on the was the typical blue, white and gold officer’s uniform. The face of the machine stiffly turned and made eye contact with the man. Its eyes began to flash with light as it raised its right hand and pointed a large gun in between the man’s eyes. The man was still too petrified to move. Suddenly a sound came from the robot, “You have been found guilty. You will tell no more.” With that the Elderberg anthem began to mechanically play out of the robot and as soon as the man picked up his feet, the robot shot him where he stood. The robot then turns to face me. “The slums are off limits for the time being, please exit here.” The robot says lifting a finger to a door right across the road.
I swear I have never run as fast as I just have in my life. That was the Patriot. They are machines built to enforce the law in Elderberg, only obeying one ruler, they do not tolerate disobedience. As soon as I walk through the door, my surroundings completely change. There are magnificent houses and shops to be found throughout this area. Each home has a different coloured banner hanging from the windows, each with their own unique crest on them. Rolling on the streets are chariots that are pulled by white mechanical horses trimmed in gold. Young children dressed in camelhair robes walk around as though they own the city. This must be where the nobles live.
As I continue to walk, I notice that at the end of the long street there is a massive building towering over all the rest with a large golden eye on the peak. Surrounding the building is a mote of water, with glowing white roses all around it. The only way to enter is to cross a white marble bridge, that leads over the water and into the building. I decide to enter the building. Once inside, the marble floor is covered in a thin layer of running water. The only lighting inside of the building comes from candles that hang on the walls and alters that rest throughout. Once deeper inside the building, I see numerous straight paths all still covered in running water, that lead up to a central circle. All the water rushes to this one spot, that is surrounded by hundreds of people in white robes, and in the middle stands an old man preaching. “Brothers and Sisters, we are gathered here today to celebrate our own fates. Our great Prophet and King is liberating us from the tyranny of the tellers! They believe that they can shape our future, they want to limit this great city and its people. Well we all say no to that! We can all see past their lies. And we will make sure, that they cannot be a part of the future they seem so attached to!” At that moment the Elderberg anthem began to play from every direction. And tens of patriots began to enter the room. They slowly approach the people dressed in white and drag two of them out of the crowd. “Look here fellow members of the faith, we have we have a couple of tellers among us as a reward for all your good faith! Now watch as they pay their dues for their sins.” The patriots lined the tellers up to the wall, pulled out their guns, and at the end of the Elderberg anthem, shot the tellers where they stood. They then approached the tellers and picked up their bodies. The preacher began again. “Brothers and Sisters this concludes our mass for the day, please exit through this door and I wish you all the best.” While saying this the preacher raises his hand and points a shaky finger towards the door to the right of the building.
What is happening? I as myself as I make my way out the exit of the building. This is insane, why are those Patriots killing all of these people. Is it Adrien orchestrating this? As questions like this rapidly run through my head, I find myself walking through a new part of the city. It had to be the common area. The buildings are of average size, people are dancing on every street to the sound of a man playing his violin on the side of the road. Everyone here looks happy, and looks like they are just enjoying the lives given to them. As I look back at a dancing couple on the street I turn around to find a man and a woman block my path. The man is a respectable height, has short yet slick acorn coloured hair, and is dressed in a beige coat. Underneath is a white undershirt with a stiff collar and an oddly shaped red bow tied around his neck. The woman beside him has the same coloured hair, but it is tied up behind her head like the rowing girl. She appears to be wearing the exact same strange attire as her male friend but was holding a white and gold plate out in front of her in her left hand, her other was placed firmly behind her back. Without so much as asking my name the man she was with begins to speak to me.
“Or tails?” The woman interrupts.
“I apologize but I would like to get through so could you please..” The man flips a coin up towards me and I catch it, which cuts off my sentence.
“Or tails?” The woman interrupted again, this time sounding a bit agitated.
It’s really not worth the effort to argue with these two, so I call heads and flip the coin up in the air and it lands on the plate the woman is holding. It was heads. “Its always heads. You know, I never find that as satisfying as I’d imagined.” The man said seeming bored. The girl hummed to herself in reply then said “Chin up, there’s always next time.” Without so much as another word the couple turn their backs to me and begin to walk down a dark alley. Thinking on it, they remind me of the rowers that brought me over here. Perhaps their manner of speaking and not caring about status is more common that I had originally thought.
As I make my way through this part of the city, I find myself thinking over and over about the man and woman who had just approached me, as well as the rowers. They were just so similar. As I lose myself in my thoughts, this strange girl bumps into me and falls to the ground, dropping her black basket filled with lilies. She truly was a sight. She had long auburn hair, and brown eyes, she looked frail and yet at the same time, she looked hardened. She wore a navy blue dress, with a pure white trim. I bend down and offer her my hand to help her up, but she swats it away.
“You are the noble here to perform the execution. Comstock I believe? I will take no aid from you, all of you nobles are the same, offer an arm to a woman as you stab a man in the back.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“You are here to execute Aaron Siris are you not?”
“That is the task I have been given” I reply as I straighten my posture.
“And tell me, what did he do?”
“He made an attempt on the life of your prophet and king, Adrian Dewit”
“And where did you hear that?” She retorted while crossing her arms.
“A message sent via mechanical bird from your prophet and king.”
“And what evidence did he have of this attempt on his life?”
“A king does not need evidence in order for his allies to believe him.”
“A typical soldier’s answer.”
“It is important for a soldier to acknowledge that he is a tool.”
“And a tool you are noble, may I suggest for the sake of your dear Britannia, that you look into the treasons and hypocrisy of a prophet, before so easily believing what he has to preach.”
The girl was looking straight into my eyes at this point and I swear that a look like that could kill a man if they he was not too careful. But she is clearly trying to make a statement about Adrian that she cannot say aloud without catching the ear of a patriot. Under regular circumstances, I would never even consider the possibility, but after what I have seen in this city today, and the whispers I have heard within the walls of Britannia of alliances being made without our knowledge. As well as a plot to overthrow us. Could she know something? It is more likely that she is just a stuck up girl, but even still, if she knows something.
Without so much as finishing my thought I grab the girl by the hand and make my way into the nearest tavern. I swing open the door and close it behind me. Oddly enough it looks empty, not a person was to be seen. The place was covered in a shiny wood. Wooden Tables and chairs were scattered around the room. In the back right corner was a bar, where drinks were left in the open for the absent tender to serve. I sit the girl down on the nearest chair then turn to lock make sure I locked the door, that is when I hear two familiar voices speaking behind me.
“We have company.” The male voice said.
“We do indeed” The female replied.
“Why are you following me” I ask as I turn around to see the same couple from earlier.
“We were already here.” The female continued.
“Why are you following us?” The man finished.
“That girl over there.”
“The one you just forced here”
“She knows what happened”
“What happens.” The man corrected.
I look back at the girl who is sitting with her head down on the table almost as though she was sleeping. Suddenly she began to lift her head. Looking as though she just woke up, she stretches her arms out behind her, and leans back and opened her mouth to yawn. After which she looks directly at me with a confused look on her face.
“Why the hell am I in a run down bar?” She asked confused.
“I brought you here”
“You brought me here?”
“Why did you bring me to a bar?”
“You came with me.”
“You knocked me down and I woke up here! I would remember if I came here with you.”
“When those two said you know what happens, what did they mean?”
“Those two!” I said pointing back at the wall where the couple was standing, but they were nowhere to be seen.
“Daft Noble, I would like to inform you that that, is a wall.”
“Never mind that, I need to know what happens, is Adrian Dewit up to something?”
“Adrian Dewit is executing Tellers within the walls as of late, surely you have seen, that is why I will not have any part in this.” She scoffed.
“He is what?” So it was Adrian.
“He is executing Tellers, the man that YOU are executing tomorrow is a teller who looked into our beloved prophet.”
“And he knows Adrian’s future then?”
“He knows one of the kings futures, yes.”
“What do you mean one of them?” I ask questioningly.
“Teller’s “tell” by opening tears in this reality that let us see one different reality, this Teller saw Dewit’s and is being executed for doing what he was asked.”
“And I am to kill him?”
“Perhaps, I am not a normal teller.”
“What do you mean?”
My question hung in the air for a while when the silent sound of Elderbergs anthem began to play outside the door. Suddenly, the front door swung open. Two patriots made their way into the room, followed by Adrian Dewit, who was wearing a huge smile on his face. He has blonde spiked hair, and blue eyes. He was wearing pure gold plated armor. With a massive golden sword at its side with yellow electric current coursing through it. “Ah there you are Comstock my old friend how do you do?” As Adrian and I shook hands, I could see the piercing look of the girl that I had dragged here glued to my skull. Adrian took his eyes off of me, looked directly at the girl and smiled.
“You haven’t even been here one night and you are already stealing my favourite women, you haven’t changed a bit have you?” The girl averted her gaze from Adrien.
“It looks that way doesn’t it, I am afraid I knocked this poor girl over in the markets and was treating her to a drink to make up for my clumsiness.”
“Always looking out for those who can see better than fine themselves aren’t you Comstock?” Dewit gave another smile to the girl then turned his attention back to me. There was an awkward silence in the air for a few moments.
“Look Adrian, I appreciate you coming out to greet me, but am I safe to assume that is not the only reason for your visit is it?” I asked already knowing his answer was yes.
“Ah you got me, look something came up and I, well the execution is moved to an hour from now, as I am being forced to depart.” That bastard.
“Adrian, this wasn’t...”
“I know, I know, and I understand, killing a man is no easy feat. You have to prepare yourself for it. That is why you have an hour. Now I will see you in the center of the city on time for the execution. This young lady will escort you, I wouldn’t want a girl like her to miss an event such as this.”
With that Adrian patted my cheek. “It was good to see you one last time old friend.” he said as he turned his back to me and walked straight out the door of the tavern, followed by his beloved patriots. The girl sat at the table, without speaking a word for the longest time. It’s strange that Adrian would move an execution like this. What got him in such a rush all of a sudden? And why would he execute Tellers, what did they see that he hated so much?
“The question is more of a what and a where.” A teenager with black hair and blue eyes appeared from a shadowed corner of the tavern. He was dressed in strange blue leggings and a black shirt with some kind of picture on it that looked especially strange. But I could swear that the tavern was empty when I came in here.
“We Tellers are able to see into one different dimension each. In each of these dimensions, Dewit invades Britannia, that is a set point in time and space that cannot be changed. The difference between each dimension lies in the outcome. In some dimensions, Dewit loses the battle, while in another he wins. Dewit believes that by eliminating Tellers who see him losing the battle, he destroys the dimension that they see along with the Teller.”
“How is that possible?” I ask.
“If there is nobody in this world to observe or look into a dimension, then the dimension does not exist in this world. It is no longer a possibility. Each Teller observes their own dimension, and so if that Teller is killed, in theory the dimension they view is destroyed along with the Teller. Dewit believes that by killing all the Tellers he can find that see him losing the battle for Britannia, then his chances of winning the battle are much higher. That is what he is trying to ensure.”
I was speechless, I stood there staring at this adolescent child not knowing what to say. His icy blue eyes were focused on me, as if waiting for me to make a decision. The girl I was with had the same look on her face, was this what she was trying to tell me before? I had only just met these people and they are trying to convince me that Adrian is plotting an attack against Britannia. That is ridiculous, so is the claim that when tellers die, so do realities.
“And what? I am just supposed to take you at your word? You are a complete stranger to me; I have no reason to believe you.” I say as I try to emulate the child’s cold stare.
© Copyright 2017 Trevor Nanton. All rights reserved.
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