~o0o~ Chapter ~o0o~
Gremlin opened his eyes and stared at the dark ceiling over his head. It was night time. The room was dark. He was laying in a soft bed, wrapped in thick, heavy, warm furs. Someone was sleeping beside him. He couldn't remember what happened. Or how he had gotten here. Or where here was. He had a splitting headache. He could hear the ocean waves slapping against the rocks below. The strong smell of seaweed and crab wafted through the air on the think wet fog that was rolling in through a nearby window. A bright beam of light blinded him. He closed his eyes.
"I'm in a lighthouse."
It was all a dream. He knew where he was. And he knew he couldn't be here. It wasn't possible. The portals had been sealed decades ago. He wasn't here. He couldn't be. He wasn't in the lighthouse.
It was morning when Gremlin woke up again. Seagulls screamed from the roof above him. More clamored on the balcony to the right. The sun was up, but the sky was grey, the fog heavy, the sound of the waves louder now, and the bright beacon of the lighthouse, still burning, turning on it's gears, as the familiar loud moan of the cogs twisted and turned, echoing through the centre of the tall tower. The crashing waves thundered against the side of the building, creaking and groaning as it swayed.
Gremlin sat up, but immediately lay back down.
Every inch of his body hurt.
Everything... except his leg.
He couldn't feel his leg.
The memories suddenly flooded back. The Twighlight Manor, Phozeen, Sunta, Cheka, the guards....
"Sunta," he cried out sitting up again. "Where is Sunta?"
"Ya does no want to sit up," a quiet, gruff voice said from across the room.
Unicorn made his way to the bed.
"Lay back down. Ya not well."
"Sunta. We were together."
"I found no one but you."
"A portal opened."
"I didn't do it. I swear I didn't do it."
"No one says ya did."
"They'll think I did it."
"White Rock. They'll think I did it and I didn't."
Gremlin passed out again. He was very weak from his injuries and his panicked state had quickly exhausted him. Unicorn stayed by his side. It was many hours before he awoke once again.
"Ya answered me."
"I don't feel awake."
"How does ya feel?"
"Like my head is floating. I'm dizzy."
"Yis lost too much blood."
"Where am I?"
"Black Tower. Does ya knows who I is?"
"Unicorn. You are BoomFuzzy the Unicorn. Elf Eater of Pepper Valley. You died. You're dead. Am I dead? I feel dead. I'm so cold."
"It cold here. We has storm coming in. I get ya more blankets."
Unicorn left and returned with several bear skins, which he carefully wrapped around the injured wizard.
The blinding beam of light made it's round by, as it's large grinding gears continued whine loudly.
"We're in a lighthouse."
"I forgot it was a lighthouse."
"Aye. Un why it so cold. Tall stone house, perched on top sharp rocky cliff, in middle of cold frigid ocean. Quaraun pick weird places him want to live. He went un painted it pink, wid red roof. Now it look like big pink dick in middle of ocean."
"You keep it running?"
"Aye. We keeps it running. Especially dis time o year. Storm come up de coast every few weeks."
"It's hurricane season?"
"Aye. Got a big one coming up on us now. It just getting here. It'll be worse soon."
"It's a lot of work to run a lighthouse."
"HellBorne never did. He let it get run down."
"Yis was one who fixed it."
"I don't remember."
"Ya said it twern't safe for de ships to be passing t'rough these waters wid de light nay on. So ya had yarself one of ya wee little scientific spells ud got it working again."
"I'd forgotten. They don't use lighthouses any more. Got GPS now."
"Science beyond what you could understand. Computers that tell ships where to go without needing a light to guide them. Black Tower still stands. They call it Space Dock 13 now. And it's black again. The salt sea spray sanded the pink off and it's it's natural black stone again. The light hasn't been used in years. Decades. I don't even know if the light's still in it. I haven't been there in a long time. I'd forgotten about Black Tower. I used to live here."
"Ya does live here. You un me un Quaraun. We live here together."
"That was such a long time ago. It was a lifetime ago. You and Quaraun died 400 years ago. I've been alone a long time. I've missed you. You took care of us. Me and Quaraun. You loved us."
"I love me Elves very much."
"I've forgotten a lot of things. I got old."
"How old ia ya?"
"I don't know. I've lost track of time."
"Ya look old. Older then I has ever seen ya."
"I am old. And it's been decades, many decades, since I was last here. The portals have been sealed. There's no way to travel through time anymore. I don't know how I got here. Someone opened a portal. But it wasn't me. I didn't do it."
"White Rock. Sunta escaped. And he bite Phozeen. I didn't know. They didn't tell me. I'd never seen Sunta before. They always kept him hidden from me. In a separate room. I didn't know he was still alive. I didn't know. It's been so long. I didn't know. Why didn't I know."
"Ghouly? Is ya okay?"
"My leg... I can't feel my leg."
"I know. It almost cut off. The bone is severed all way through."
"I don't want to lose my leg."
"I did what I could. I does nah t'ink ya'll ever walk again."
"This is Black Tower."
"We are in Black Tower."
"The Admiral can't know."
"Cometa mustn't know."
"Who is Cometa?"
"They'll kill him. They can't find him."
"Ghouly? Ya not alright are ya?"
"Aye. Quaraun painted it, remember. Him thought the blackness of Black Tower were too dreay."
"How did I get here?"
"I carried ya."
"They'll kill me."
"White Rock. Harrier. I didn't open the portal. It wasn't me. I didn't do it."
The old half-Elf started crying.
The Gremlin didn't respond.
Unicorn watched the old, ancient, future version of his friend. He was so vastly changed. GhoulSpawn, the young more or less happy scientist wizard, had become the paranoid, nervous, highly anxious Gremlin. Unicorn had seen Gremlin before and was used to the old half-Elf's scatterbrained fearfulness, but not like this. This was both the oldest and the most fearful, he had ever seen him. Unicorn couldn't quite place exactly what was wrong, but he could sense that Gremlin was somehow different. Less aware, more erratic.
Unicorn patted Gremlin's bandaged arm.
"I will make ya eggnog. Help ya rest. Ease the pain. Help ya sleep."
Unicorn left the room and returned a half hour later. Gremlin had stop crying and had tried to get up. This had resulted in his falling out of bed. The ancient wizard was now sprawled on the floor, his wounds bleeding once again. Unicorn quickly set the mug on a table and ran to the fallen wizard's side.
"Yis should no try to get up," he said as he helped Gremlin back into the bed.
"I can't feel my leg."
"I know. I does nah t'inks ya'll regain feeling in it. As bad as it is, it may be best to amputate it, so ya does get infection."
"Please don't do that."
"I had tried to set it. Ya should not have moved. I had to reset it again."
Unicorn set about to removing the splint and bandages he had put on Gremlin's leg, resetting the broken bone, then rebandaging and spitting it again.
"Ya says dat like ya did no t'ink I would help ya."
"No one helps me these days. I'm too used to being alone now."
"Me un Quaraun is dead in yar time."
Gremlin said nothing.
"Here, I made ya eggnog."
Unicorn handed the mug to him.
"It's drugged," Gremlin said looking down into the creamy hot liquid.
"Aye. I is BoomFuzzy un dat is me eggnog, was ya expecting somet'ing else?"
"What's in it?"
"Ya want a list?"
"What'll it do to me?"
"Help ya sleep un take away ya pain, sos ya can sleep."
"Amoung other t'ing, aye."
"I don't like being medicated. They give me so many pills at White Rock. If I do not take them, they hold me down and give them to me by force."
"I is no forcing ya to drink dat. It dair iffy ya want it."
"I don't like being hurt."
"Does ya t'ink I try hurt ya?"
"I is no trying to hurts ya."
"You used to."
"Dat was long time gone. I did nah know ya then. We lives together now."
"In Black Tower."
"Your eggnog isn't eggnog."
"Eggnog is milk un honey un eggs un nutmeg, boiled together til creamy. It is eggnog, wid more t'ings added, to help ya sleep un feel no pain."
"Did I ever drink it before?"
"Do you drink it?"
"Aye. I'll drink it wid ya now iffy dat what ya want."
"Quaraun drinks it."
"It what Quaraun drink all de time. Every night afore bed. Ya know dat. It does no hurt him. It takes away hims pain un helps him sleep."
"He was born sick."
"Aye, him was. Him weak lil Elf. Would have died centuries ago had no one took care of him."
"Quaraun has catalepsy and a bad heart and a crippled leg. The cataleptic seizures got worse as he got older. He was always scared to be alone because of it. I remember. He always wanted one of us with him. He was scared of having a seizure while he was alone."
"Aye. Him pass out few times a day. When it happen in taverns, people t'inks him drunk. Him were gang raped by pack of Dwarves. Him were in tavern un pass out. dey t'ink him drunk. Un him Elf. Dwaves do no like Elves. Him been afeared to be alone since."
"I forgot how sick he was. He's old isn't he?"
"Aye. Older den an Elf should be."
"I remember, when I met him, he was already over 500 years old."
"What year is it, here, now, for you? How old is Quaraun right now?"
"We has lived in Black Tower long time now. Quaraun is getting very old. His bones hurt. We do no travel no more."
"He had arthritis. I remember that. It hurt him to walk. His legs are getting worse."
"They were injured. Soilders beat him up Broke his legs. Never healed right."
"He started walking with a cane. And we stayed in villages longer and loner, travelling less. I remember that. That's why we moved into the lighthouse. He couldn't walk any more. He used to sit on the balcony and watch the world. A world he couldn't walk in anymore. I forgot he was so old. He looks so young. How does he never age?"
"Glimmer spells? Does he use those?"
"Aye. Him has been for a while. Him does no wish to look old."
"Glimmer spells. Sunta looks so young. He can't walk. His legs are crippled. When the guards attacked, he couldn't run away. And he can't talk. He tried to say something, but he can't.... can't form words. They cut out his tongue. All he can do is scream, horrible, voiceless shrieks. I forgot they cut out his tongue. It was so long ago. How old would he be now?"
"In yar time?"
"How old is you?"
"I'm... I don't know. This is the 1400s and I live in the 21st century. It's been... it's been 700 years. Am I almost 800 years old? And Quaraun was so much older then me. He'd be way over a thousand. Way over. Is that possible? Could he live he that long?"
"Most Elve only live 400 years. 500 once in a great while. Never heard of a thousand year old Elf."
"What about me?"
"Ya half-Demon. You is Urusig. Fae live long time. I were two thousand year old when I kill meself. Now I is undead."
"What if I changed history? And you and Quaraun didn't die. But I never knew it."
"Ya t'ink Quaraun still alive?"
"I don't know what I think any more. The lobotomy did something to me. I don't know what's what anymore."
"How did I get here?"
"No. Here. In the lighthouse?"
"I carried ya."
"Where did you find me?"
"Not far from Crystal Lake. Near Crystal Cave. In de woods."
"By the ravine?"
"That's far from here. Almost a mile. You carried me a long way."
"Aye. I smell ya blood. I were hoping ya were my Ghouly. Right now any Ghouly will do."
"The Twighlight Manor is there now. I must have come out in the same place I went in, but in a different time. What year is it?"
"I know not years."
"You can't count. I remember. You didn't know numbers."
"Or letters. I can no reads, either. Me own Ghouly would be here wid Quaraun iffy I coulds but read un dey gone t'ough portal. I does nah know how to bring dem back. So I is here alone."
"Are they missing?"
"Many days now. Portal open up un took 'em. I go through all Ghouly's books, hoping I recognize somet'ing. But I can no read. I does nah know how to bring dem back."
"I could probably find them."
"Yis in no condition to look."
"I'm baddly hurt."
"Aye. I t'inking ya hurt worse den ya t'inks, considering yar tried to get out o bed."
"How badly am I hurt?"
"Yar leg broken. Almost completely cut off. Yar arm broken. Yar ribs broken. Ain't none of ya dat ain't bruised. Un ya has lost most o yar blood. Yis very weak. Yis lucky, ya Elf. Most anyt'ing else would be dead now. Elves can take a lot, but ya still need to rest un heal."
"They'll find me."
"They'll kill me."
"I take care of ya. No one hurt ya here. Yis safe now."
"In Black Tower?"
"Aye. In Black Tower."
"There are more portals here than anywhere else. This is a hot spot. No one's safe here."
"Shhhhhh. Do no worry. Ya rest. Ya need rest."
"We're not safe."
"Ya safe Ghouly. I protect ya."
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