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Disturbing Peace



2019 / 216 p.A.
Tragor Outpost
Edge of The Reclaimed Fallows
Joint Kingdom of Alleanza-Raith’il

“Heading out for another patrol, Lamach?”

Lamach glanced up at the man peering down at him from the ledge atop the village gate and shrugged. “You have no need of me on the walls tonight, Barrek. What else would I do?”

“Rest. Eat and drink. Retire to bed, perhaps,” Barrek answered. “Have you forgotten the war is over? There is peace now, Lamach. Two guards on the wall are plenty, and none is needed in the woods anymore. Come inside and be at rest.” The man’s thin braids hung down around his face, the dark skin of his bare torso glinting with sweat in the moonlight. His bow rested next to him, visible over the top of the ledge beside the etched covering he wore across his waist and legs.

Lamach rolled his shoulders and turned his face away from the ledge, staring into the darkness of the woods. Sweat had already wet his feet within his boots, and his leather tunic clung to his damp chest. It was hot tonight, and quiet. So very quiet. “I will patrol,” Lamach said. “I’ll sleep after.”

“The choice is your own,” Barrek answered, moving back from the edge of the wall. “But if you are going into the forest, there is a sapling which needs mending,” his voice called. “Call out when you return and I will open the gate.”

Lamach adjusted his bow and quiver across the shoulder of his sleeveless tunic, then moved away from the outpost gate and into the dark forest.

The trees in Haven’s Edge were thriving, once again—when the dark goddess and her minions were purged from Arameth two years prior, the Sentinels had descended and chased out the last vestiges of dark magic from Alleanza and beyond. The great quake which destroyed this wood had been undone, as had any other damage caused by dark magic. Even the barren Fallows had burst with green and blossomed. If only the Sentinels could have undone the damage wrought by arrows and spears, to the people themselves. But such was not the way. The people had healed, slowly... those who had survived. Now, two years later, they rejoiced in their good fortune. The prophesied heroes had won. Arameth was restored to glory. Once again there was peace.

It made Lamach uneasy.

He was a warrior, raised in wartime, trained for battle. It was a waste of his magic to heal saplings even if they did yield fruit, and he knew the other clan lords must feel the same, though they would never say it. None wished to dishonor the great King and Queen of Raith’il-Alleanza, nor to disparage their—and others’—sacrifice in ridding the land of Ardis. The King and Queen were much beloved, and this new, redeemed Arameth was what centuries of warriors had fought to attain. But the Sephram and Alomman were peoples of war. Even united in peace, the restlessness simmered. Some had adjusted, but for Lamach there could be no rest in peace-time. Everything he had lived for had died in battle. All that remained was the stiff core of him, the part which was made for war.

Lamach slipped swiftly and stealthily through the dark woods, allowing his instincts to guide his movements. He should be busy choking an enemy to death with waist-thick vines sucked from the belly of the earth, not coaxing sickly saplings to sprout, but he could feel the damaged sapling calling out to him, stirring his Alomman blood. He sighed. I am coming. He slipped between two thick trunks and emerged in a clearing.

“There you are.” The sapling slumped in the clearing’s center, just in front of the Forbidden Hut. The hut was not a danger, but a sacred place. It had once been the dwelling place of Nigel, a great intellect and one of the band of heroes which had saved Arameth. Nigel’s sacrifice had cost him greatly, had nearly cost him everything. His hut, now abandoned, was preserved by the Tragor patrol and kept in repair, but it was forbidden to enter it.

The small sapling had sprung up before the hut, sprouted from a fallen seed of one of the overarching trees. Lamach could sense the sapling’s root-sickness from where he stood. Something had stunted its growth. He planted his boots into the dirt and closed his eyes, reaching his powers outward. The tree’s roots responded, lengthening beneath his mind’s touch. “Come, little ones,” he whispered, drawing them outward. The roots were cramped, tangled beneath the sapling. Why had they not grown out farther? Lamach stretched his powers further, sensing for the source of the obstruction. Was there another plant beneath the surface, vying for space? But he sensed nothing. He moved closer to the sapling. He could feel its discomfort, but could find no cause for it. Strange. Lamach lifted his bow and quiver from his shoulders, squatted beside the sapling, and dug.

His long fingers sank into the soft soil, then hit something hard. Was it a rock? But no, it did not have the feel of a rock. It was smooth and cool, with a strange hardness to it. Confused, Lamach jammed his fingers farther into the dirt, feeling for the edges of the object. It seemed to be a cube. He slipped his hands beneath it and hauled it from the ground.

It was not very heavy, and it was definitely not a rock. It was dull metallic, with something like a button on the front. Lamach lowered the object to the ground beside the sapling and brushed the dark soil from it. What was it? He slid his fingers across it, feeling a sudden dread. It was not forbidden to dig outside the Forbidden Hut, but the rules said nothing of a buried cube. Had he disturbed some sacred object? There was no choice but to take the object to the Elders and admit what he had done before it was found out. Lamach grasped the object and tensed to stand. His thumb brushed the button on the cube’s front, and it lit red.

Blinding light burst through the forest with a wave of hot energy that knocked Lamach backward, then he was falling. The world around him winked out.


Lamach groaned. His head pounded and his whole body ached. He blinked his eyes open.

“You’re awake!”

Lamach startled up, then braced himself with an arm as his vision swam. His thoughts skittered about, evading grasp. What’s wrong with me? What happened? The surrounding room sharpened into focus, revealing a gap-toothed old man staring down at him, spindly beard almost touching Lamach’s face.

Lamach leaped to his feet, ignoring the unsteadiness of the room, though he was embarrassed to feel himself stagger. He was not one to be unsteady on his feet.

The old man grinned, folding his hands in front of his waist. His clothes were strange, like nothing Lamach had seen before.

Lamach reached for his bow only to realize it was gone. A chill of fear shot through him. “Who are you? Where am I?”

“Earth and Nigel, in reverse order,” he said. “And you are?”

Lamach gaped. Nigel? Surely not the Nigel. That was impossible. No one knew what became of him once the battles ended; he had simply vanished. And though few in Arameth had actually seen Nigel or even knew what he looked like, this man was far too ordinary and spindly to be a great hero. Lamach lengthened his spine, standing tall. “I am Lamach, warrior of Tragor. Why have you brought me here?”

Nigel shrugged. “Technically you brought yourself here, but who’s quibbling? I’ll take partial blame since it was my console you used. Where did you find that old thing, anyway?” He gestured to the ground.

Lamach glanced down. The soil-smudged cube rested beside his feet. His head swam. “What is—where am I?”

“Earth,” Nigel said again, narrowing his eyes. “I feel like I already said that. Anyway, I’m fairly uncertain Jana won’t approve of the dirt smudges you’ve left on her carpet. We should get this cleaned up.” He bent down toward the console.

Something banged behind Lamach and he spun to find a light-haired man staring at him from a doorway. The man’s eyes bounced between Lamach and Nigel, then to the object on the ground.

“Tell me you didn’t!” he yelled, stomping toward Nigel. “What in the world were you thinking?”

Nigel straightened and raised his hands. “Not me, him.”

The man turned to Lamach and glared at him, then tipped his head back and sighed. When he looked back to Lamach, his anger seemed to have faded to resignation. He held out a hand. “I’m Steve,” he said. “Welcome to my home. And you are?”

“Lamach,” Lamach said again. He glanced between the two men, his thoughts still a jumble. “Where am—”

“Please don’t ask that again,” Nigel said. He turned to Steve. “It seems the journey scrambled his brain.”

Steve cut his eyes to Nigel, then turned back to Lamach. “Come, sit,” he said. “Why don’t you tell me what happened?”

Lamach followed in a daze as the man led him through the strange room and to a lumpy piece of furniture patterned with false flowers. The light in the room was dim, and Lamach stared in shock at the lanterns on the tables; they seemed to glow without a flame. “Are you an Ancient?” Lamach asked as he settled on a soft end of the furniture opposite Steve and reached for the glowing orb, which balanced on top of a metal staff. “I have not seen power such as this before.”

Steve studied him. “It’s a lamp,” he said. “No magic. Just electricity—same as what makes up your Worldforce.” He smiled. “You are safe; we are friends to Arameth. Tell me what happened. How did you end up here?”

Lamach glanced over at the dirty cube on the floor. “I discovered a metal box buried in the wood near the Forbidden Hut,” he said. “I—do not understand how that led me here.”

“Wait—Forbidden Hut? Where is this hut, exactly?” Nigel asked. He moved closer, perching on the edge of a table.

Lamach ran a hand across his coarse hair. “In Haven’s Edge, near the border of the Reclaimed Fallows. It is said to be a sacred place, the former home of—you, if you are indeed Nigel the Great.”

“Nigel the Great,” Steve said, cutting his eyes to Nigel. “Fantastic. And why would this hut be forbidden?”

“Because it is sacred,” Lamach said, uncertain how he had been unclear. “It is not to be disturbed.”

Steve turned to Nigel. “Was this your doing?”

Nigel grinned. “No, though I wish it were. It seems someone else has made my hut sacred for me.” His face turned serious. “I should have thought to do that sooner.”

Steve groaned. “Nigel! You left a console outside your hut! Why?”

Nigel shrugged. “It was a backup. I forgot it was there.”

“This is not good, Nigel.” Steve stood, pacing the edge of the couch. “The Worldforce—and the others—they are all going to be—Nigel, do you realize what you’ve done?”

Lamach stood. His thoughts were clearing and his patience was growing thin as quickly as his anxiety was mounting. He turned to Steve and Nigel, meeting their eyes with his warrior gaze. “I do not understand how I got here, but I demand you set me free.”

Steve raised his hands. “Hey, whoa. You’re no one’s prisoner. But you—uh—well, you’ll need some help to get home.”

“I do not understand,” Lamach said again.

Nigel let out an exasperated sigh. “That dusty box wrecking Jana’s carpet is one of my consoles. It is a sophisticated device which harnesses electrical impulses to manipulate the Worldforce’s innate energy, thereby creating a channel of travel through the Worldforce into and amongst the worlds it touches, granted the barriers are thin enough for contact.”

Lamach stared. “What?”

“It is a portal,” Nigel said. “A portal disguised as a video game console, which in hindsight—you know, nevermind, you don’t have those in Arameth, anyway.” He moaned, sliding one hand down his wrinkled face. “It is a device which transported you from Arameth to Earth,” he said slowly. “And now we need to get you back before it ruins both our worlds. Okay? Steve, hop to it. Go get Jana.”

Steve stared. “Uh, no. You go get Jana. I won’t be the one to tell her about this.”

Jana. They had said that name twice, and it tickled something far back in Lamach’s memory. “Jana,” he whispered. “The Daughter of Power?”

Steve smiled. “Yes, one of them.”

Lamach glanced around the strange room. “So I am in... another world? The home of the Daughters of Power?”

Nigel groaned. “How many times—“

“Yes.” Steve interrupted with a nod. “But you cannot stay. Your energy is tied to Arameth, and unlike the Daughters of Power, you do not have dual heritages. You will weaken the longer you stay here, starting with any magical abilities.”

A stump of dread settled in Lamach’s stomach, but he shoved it aside. “The stories say our Queen once traveled to Earth and survived. She was not of dual heritage, either, but she was strong—as our people are always strong. I will not wilt like a sickly plant. I am an Alomman warrior.”

Steve’s smile softened. “Of course. But you will not be staying long, regardless; we must get you home.”

Nigel leaned over toward Steve, whispering so loudly that his words were plain even to Lamach. “Why did you not tell him his Queen nearly died while here?”

“To nearly die is the fate of all warriors,” Lamach answered, his voice firm. “And eventually, to die in truth. It is no dishonor.”

Steve stepped away from Nigel. “Let me get you some water, Lamach,” he said. “Nigel, go get Jana.”

“You’re not the boss of me,” Nigel grumbled, but he stood and headed for the door behind them.

Steve followed. “I’ll be right back,” he said. “Just... stay here.” He disappeared through the door.

Lamach shifted, the heels of his boots sinking into the soft floor. He could hear someone banging in the next room, a sound like opening and shutting small doors. Why did I remove my bow? He hated being without a weapon. But he could fight hand-to-hand, if it came to that. He still did not trust these people, no matter who they claimed to be. His eyes scanned the room. There were glass windows—formed differently than those in Arameth but at least familiar in purpose—but the dark of night obscured the view outside. He could see only the reflection of those strange glowing orbs—the lamps—on the glass.

A moment later Steve returned, holding a glass of water. “Here,” he said, handing it to Lamach.

Lamach took the glass but did not drink. It was impolite, but it would be foolish for a warrior to consume food or drink from someone he neither knew nor trusted. That was how men died dishonorably. If he was to die today, it would be as a warrior. He set the glass on the table beside him. “So, Steve, you are... a comrade of Nigel and Jana’s?” The battle histories had mentioned nothing of a Steve, but that was not Lamach’s only reason for asking. He wanted distraction, so he could draw his powers without notice.

“In a way,” Steve said. “I am Jana’s husband. At the time of the battle, I was her fiancé. I helped with some of the battle, though mostly I was here on Earth. I am not of Arameth. Travel is... restricted, as I’m sure you know.”

Lamach nodded, only partly listening, as he pushed his power downward, through the soft floor, through the hard surface beneath, sensing for life within the Earth to grasp. There. Soft roots, down below, many of them, linked to a great tree in the land outside. They were far inferior to the strong roots he wielded in Arameth, but they would do, if he had to call on them. He could—

Lamach swayed, his vision blacking inward. He flung a hand outward, trying to catch his balance on the table, and heard the glass splash over onto the ground. “I am sorry, I—”

Words failed him as his consciousness swam and his knees buckled, the room tilting sideways.

Something slammed and quick footsteps rushed toward him, then a surge of warmth flooded through him. “Easy,” a woman’s voice said. “We’ve got you.”

Lamach felt firm hands lower him to sit on the floor. He leaned back against the lumpy furniture and dropped his head into his hands. “Forgive me,” he said, embarrassed. “I am—weak.” The word pinched in his throat. He took a slow breath and the lightheadedness receded.

Someone crouched beside him and Lamach looked up to find a light-haired woman with startling ice-blue eyes peering at him.

“You used your power, didn’t you?” she said, but her voice was kind. “I pushed some energy into you to stabilize you, but... I have little power on Earth. Not like when I’m in Arameth. Please be careful; I’m not sure I have it in me to do it again.”

Lamach pushed to his feet, and the woman moved back to give him room. Steve and Nigel watched from a few paces over. Steve’s hand drifted back to rest on a pouch hooked to his belt.

The woman met his eyes, friendly—but Lamach could sense the power in her. It was true. “Daughter of Power.” He bent forward over his knees into a hurried bow, hoping he had not offended her. “I am Lamach, warrior of the Alomman. It is an honor.” When he glanced up, the woman was smiling.

“It is nice to meet you, Lamach. Now let’s get you back before the Gatekeepers detect the use of energy and the entire world bursts into chaos, okay?”

Lamach nodded. “I am happy to return home if you wish it, Daughter of Power. Instruct me how and I will do it.”

Jana moved to the console and lifted it, then glanced to Nigel. “I still can’t believe you did this,” she said. “Who leaves a portal device buried in the woods?”

Nigel shrugged. “In my defense, it had been rained on and I wasn’t even certain it still worked.”

“That’s not much of a defense,” Steve muttered.

Jana turned back to Lamach and smiled. “Put your hand here,” she said, touching the top of the console, “and I’ll do the rest. I know Haven’s Edge well enough; I think I can get you back there. Ready?”

Lamach wasn’t certain what was about to happen, but he trusted the Daughter of Power. He placed his hand on the box. “Ready.”

Warmth surged out from Jana’s hands and the air hummed, then a blinding light flashed and a whump of hot energy rushed through the room. Lamach squeezed his eyes shut against the glare. Heat surged through the box and Jana screamed, flinging the box to the ground.

“Ow, my hand!”

Lamach opened his eyes to find Jana clenching her right hand inside her left. Steve rushed over. “What happened?”

“It burned me!” Jana opened her hand to reveal an angry, red welt on her palm.

“I’ll get some ice,” Steve said, rushing from the room.

Jana turned to Nigel. “What happened? It’s never done that before.”

Nigel moved close and peered at Jana’s hand. “Ice and aloe,” he said, then looked up at her face. “I’m sorry, dear. Really. I did not expect that any more than you.” He knelt and poked the console, then jerked his finger back with a hiss and shook it. “Still hot.”

Steve ran back toward Jana with a cloth and some ice and wrapped her hand. “It’s not much, but hopefully it’ll cool the burn. Are you all right?”

Jana nodded. “It’s not too bad. It just hurts.”

Lamach tipped his head forward. “Forgive me, Daughter of Power. You were injured on my account.”

But she didn’t seem angry. “It’s okay; it wasn’t your fault. But we need to get you back.” She turned to Nigel. “It was so strange; it felt like–” She stopped, her gaze catching on the window, then rushed toward it. “Steve, Nigel, come look at this. The house is glowing.”

Steve and Nigel rushed over to the window behind Jana, and Lamach followed, peering out over their shoulders. Jana was right; the house was giving off a subtle light.

“What does it mean?” Jana asked, turning to Nigel.

“I believe it means the whole house is now a giant portal,” Nigel said, his eyes wide.

“What?” said Steve.

Lamach opened his mouth to ask for clarification, but Jana jumped back from the window. “No! Someone’s at the door!”

“My fidget spinners!” Nigel spun and dashed out through the doorway, surprisingly agile for an old man, and Jana and Steve rushed after him. Lamach hurried to follow, uncertain what was happening but not wanting to miss a fight.

They rushed through a narrow kitchen and out into another room as a sharp knock sounded on the far door. Nigel was the first to reach it.

“Nigel, don’t open it! What if—” Jana called out.

Nigel jerked the door open, revealing a delivery guy holding a cardboard package, and a blinding light sliced the air. The delivery guy stared open-mouthed for a single instant, then vanished.

“Oops,” Nigel said.

Jana and Steve stared at Nigel as he eased the door shut.

“Nigel,” Steve said, his voice a growl.

“What has just happened?” Lamach asked.

Jana sighed. “It seems Nigel has sent our delivery guy to Arameth.”

Nigel shrugged apologetically. “At least we know where he is.”

“Fix this,” Jana said, and stormed back into the kitchen.

Lamach stood frozen for a moment, then decided the Daughter of Power was the only person here he even halfway trusted. He followed.

He found Jana back in the living room, poking at the console with a tentative finger. She looked up when he entered. “It’s not hot anymore,” she said. “But I’m not certain it works now.” She stood. “Don’t worry, Lamach. We’ll find a way to get you home.”

Lamach nodded, then a question occurred to him. “You say the house is a portal now; why are we not transported as well? We are in the portal, are we not?”

“We are currently part of the portal,” Nigel’s voice answered.

Lamach turned to see him standing in the doorway.

“That will reverse as soon as the console is repaired,” Nigel said.

Jana turned to him. “You can fix it?”

“I’m sorry, dear,” he said. “I’m a foolish old man sometimes. Do you have three triple-A batteries and a pipe-cleaner?”

Jana raised an eyebrow. “Yes, in the kitchen drawer.”

Nigel nodded. “Then I can fix it. I’ll be right back.”

Nigel grabbed the console and left the room. Steve slipped in as Nigel exited. He walked toward Jana and slipped his arms around her shoulders. “Are you sure your hand’s okay?”

“Yeah,” Jana said. “It’s fine.” She turned and kissed Steve on the cheek.

Lamach averted his eyes, not wanting to witness their private exchange. After a moment, Jana said, “I’ll go check on Nigel.” She slipped past Lamach, leaving the room.

“Lamach?” Steve asked.

Lamach turned to him. “Yes?”

“When the console is repaired, Jana will need to travel through to Arameth to retrieve our delivery person. I cannot go with her, nor can Nigel. We are not of Arameth, and it is forbidden for us to travel unless called. But Jana—”

Lamach met his eyes firmly, understanding. “I will protect her with my life. She will come back to you safely.”

Steve nodded. “Thank you.”

A moment later Jana re-entered, followed by Nigel. “He says it’s ready.”

Nigel set the console on the ground between Jana and Lamach. “My dear?” he said, turning to Jana.

“Be careful,” Steve whispered. “You know the Veil is still–”

“If there is any trouble, the Sentinels will come for me. I will be fine,” Jana smiled. “I promise.” She knelt and placed her hand on the console.

Lamach moved forward, and Nigel threw his bony arms around Lamach in a hug. Lamach tensed, shocked and uncomfortable. Was this an Earth custom for saying goodbye? But after a moment, Nigel backed away.

“It was a strange and interesting pleasure to meet you,” he said. “I hope I never see you again.”

Lamach fought back a grin. “Likewise, Nigel the Great,” he said. “It has been an honor.”

Lamach crouched across from Jana and reached for the console.

“Ready?” Jana asked.

“Yes, Daughter of Power.”

Jana nodded once and piercing light sliced the air, then Lamach was falling.

Lamach groaned and pushed up from the ground. He was back in Haven’s Edge. He sighed in relief at the pleasant sensation of the plants crying out to him, warming his blood. His powers were back. He was home. Jana.

He sat up, panic rising, but Jana was crouched next to him, already pushing to her feet. “Are you all right?” she asked.

Lamach nodded. “You?”

“Yes,” she said. “We need to find—oh. There he is. Well, that was easy.”

Lamach tracked her gaze to find the delivery guy crumpled unconscious on the soil before the Forbidden Hut.

They both moved toward him and Jana felt his throat, then smiled. “He’s okay. Pulse is steady.” She glanced around. “This is so strange. Nothing in Arameth was ever this easy. I’m half-expecting to be attacked by a savage pippit or lagaroth or Aiac any moment, or for the forest floor to open up and swallow me.” She glanced around. “It’s so peaceful here now. I suppose these are the perks of the war being over—not having something trying to kill you every moment, but... it’s a little unsettling. Do you ever feel that way?”

“Every moment,” Lamach said.

Jana met his eyes with a sad smile. “You are a fierce warrior, Lamach. I can sense it in you. Sometimes the hardest battle is to move on, you know? To live.”

Lamach sucked in a breath and let his eyes fall shut for a moment, flashes of the life-that-had-been driving daggers of pain into his chest. Move on?

“Who?” Jana asked, and Lamach opened his eyes to find her watching him. “Whom did you lose?”

He stared, wondering how she had known. But then he remembered who she was. She had seen her share of pain and battle, too. “My betrothed,” he said, the word catching in his throat. “I loved her from childhood.”

Jana’s eyes grew moist. “I am so very sorry,” she said.

“Alomman lose many,” he said. “We are warriors. It is the way.”

“That does not make the pain any less,” Jana said. She reached out her hand.

Lamach hesitated, then placed his large hand on hers.

She squeezed his hand and smiled. “I need to go,” she said. “If I get this guy back before he wakes up, with any luck he’ll think he fainted on Nigel’s porch. Besides, I’m not exactly supposed to be here.”

“You will be safe traveling back alone?” Lamach asked. He had made a promise to Steve, and he would keep it—besides, he did not wish the Daughter of Power to come to harm either. He rather liked her.

“Yes,” Jana said. “I brought the console with me this time. I am learning.” She smiled and glanced at the console, which sat in the dirt near the hole from which Lamach had unearthed it. “I can get back.”

“Very well,” Lamach said. “Safe travels. It was an honor to meet you.”

Jana smiled. “It was an honor to meet you, too, Lamach.” She knelt, placing one hand on the delivery man’s arm and one on the console, then a bright light flashed through the woods.

Lamach threw up a hand to shield his eyes, and when the light faded, Jana, the man, and the console had all vanished.

Lamach stared at the empty clearing for a while, then moved toward the sapling. He sent his powers outward, urging the young tree’s roots to spread and grow. With the obstruction removed, they untangled and stretched at his bidding. The tree let out a relieved energy akin to a sigh and its sapling straightened. Lamach brushed the loose soil back into the hole and stood, pleased with his work. He dusted his hands on his tunic—and felt a small lump in his tunic’s outer pocket.

Surprised, he slipped a hand into the pocket and drew out something hard and metallic. A note fluttered, tied to the object with a fuzz-covered wire. He pinched the paper between two fingers and straightened it. From Nigel, just in case. Use for emergencies only. Lamach turned the object in his palm. It was a miniature console, an exact model of the other, complete with a tiny button.

Lamach laughed and slipped the console back into his pocket, then headed back through the trees.

“Finally!” a voice called. “I thought you’d decided to sleep in the woods. How was your patrol? Conquer any fierce beasts?”

Lamach looked up to find the guard smirking down at him.

“None whatsoever,” Lamach answered. “I believe peace has come at last.”

The guard laughed. The gate creaked open, and the guard called down to Lamach as he entered. “It came two years ago, my friend. Go and have a late supper; the cook set some aside for you.”

Lamach’s stomach growled, but he shook his head. “No thank you, Barrek. I believe I will head home—to my bed.”

“Bed at a decent hour?” The guard’s eyes widened. “What happened to you in those woods?”

Lamach smiled. “Nothing at all.”

The gate swung closed behind Lamach and he trudged down the dirt path to his own hut within the village, weary in body but with an active mind. The war was not over—the Earthlings had mentioned Gatekeepers, and Steve’s concern made it clear there were still threats to the Veil. He placed his hand on his pocket. The Dark War might be over but trouble would return to Arameth soon enough, and when it did, Lamach would be ready.


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