They soon drifted over to face us. The man in the brown robe moved out of Hobard's way.
"Who were you really? I asked my old friend.
He seemed to shiver. "I was more educated than I admitted. That was the only untruth. I wearied of all that pointless marching. I joined the Roman Army to get to the Tin Lands. That was the truth my friend. I was duty bound to become the next keeper of Talon Keep, as was it's name back then.
Thus I deserted, and hurried here. ( A short bark of a laugh ), The old keeper had died suddenly.
I had been there no more then a week when we met. He shot those acid fluffs at me, and I died in agony. I was lucky it was fast. Some take years to die. The pain is terrible.'
The Roman agreed. "I died far more slowly. It took over a month. The pain truly is unbearable."
Then from the back drifted a slender form I knew. She halted before us. "I am sorry. I wanted to come back and care for Bruce. I did not know he was in such bad shape. He made it fast for me on purpose to spare me pain. He had no control over the spores. He broke my neck to make it fast. He says that you had sympathy for him in the end. We both thank you. he was but a toddler when he cried out for company. Our father was never home. He was an importer of exotic cloth and furniture."
Mother did what she could, but she had to run this place. And when the Shambler got dad, she had to also run the business. She had little time for us." She held out her arms.
I walked into them, but there was nothing physical there for me to hug. The last I felt before she faded away was a brush of lips across my own.
The man in the brown robe returned to face me. "The Shambler is deep beneath us. No one knows what it is. Even the victims never see it. I was a priest. I met it accidentally. It is very strong. do not let it get a hold of you. It broke me in two."
The whole group vanished, the priests voice spoke one last time. "Your Alanna is brave. She waited for you."
Our group stood alone on the weed and gravel strewn shore. I looked out at the silver blue glow on the lake. "And what gate is this?"
"Only one way to find out." The hover disk appeared next to us as Fenrus spoke.
We boarded it, and flew out to see what the glowing was.
Another gate. This one was silvery blue. The frame was the same black metal and ceramic top and bottom as the others.
A head and shoulders rose from the gate, then fell back into it, over and over as we approached.
"Father!" Sharle cried out in shock!
Great bull horns rose from his forehead, his eyes were as deep and intense a blue as her own, but he was huge.
"Easy Sharle, it's not real, just a projection. Lucifer is far away in Hell, paying for his mistake." Garl gently caught and lifted her to his arm.
"Not entirely, I will turn this off as soon as I warn you. The Shambler is totally other; he is not from any of you. He is trapped down there. Loki Lucifer vanished.
An image hovered in the gate for a moment of a shaggy, yellow white creature running down a hall on four legs. It was somewhat humanoid/ yet not quite physical. A phantom blobby octopoid like form seemed blended with it. The eyes were huge, and white. They had no pupils. I got the feeling it did not 'see' as we did.
Somehow, Loki Lucifer had given us a view of what had to be the Shambler.
To be continued...............