Phelan paced back and forth, angry and anxious for reinforcements to arrive.
When the time portal wavered, he knew that at last they’d begin arriving.
One at a time soldiers came through the portal. “Where is Dugan?” Phelan
grabbed one of the men.
“It’s King Dugan to you,
wizard. He’s coming.” The soldier wrenched his arm free and marched on into
the castle. The men gathered in the hall and squeezed together into the many
King Dugan stepped into
Castle Athdara after his last man had arrived. Phelan had forgotten what a
giant of a man Dugan was. He had a mat of dark brown hair that draped to his
shoulders. His jaw was squared and his features chiseled as stone. His earth
brown eyes stared at Phelan.
“King Dugan, you’re here.
I’ve been waiting for you.” Phelan stepped forward.
The king glared at the
wizard. “What has happened to you, wizard? You are not in a body. You’re
nothing but a ghost, a memory of who you used to be.”
“I am not the way I was, but
I soon will be. That is part of my plan.” Phelan tried to stay as much in
form as he could.
“I want you to keep in mind
that I am not here because of you. Yes, you sent your trow back to fetch me
and my army, but when I heard the Wizards of Xilia were here and soon Kegan
and his army were coming, I long for battle. You are unimportant to me and
so are your plans.” King Dugan’s arrogance sent rage through Phelan, however
he allowed the king to think he was in control.
“I have assigned your men to
the bottom of the castle. There is a lot of room for them to be comfortable
and you will have my servants to wait on you hand and foot.” Phelan bowed.
“First of all, I will not
stay in the bottom of anyone’s castle and neither will my men. We will stay
in the main hall and the upper rooms and your servants and others that come
may stay down in the bottom rooms. I am King Dugan.”
“I have also sent for King
Bartolf, your ancestor and also a heroic warrior and king. Do you think that
he will approve of those arrangements?” Phelan sneered.
“When Bartolf arrives, we
will discuss that. In the meantime, you may show my men and me where we will
be staying, make sure we are fed and have plenty of ale to drink.” King
Dugan moved out of the crowded room.
The trow came through the
time portal. “Your Wizardship, should I return in time and gather King
Bartolf and his army as you have requested?”
“Of course, you fool. Hurry.
I’ve got my hands full with that arrogant Dugan. I’ll be putting him in his
place soon. Move.” The trow disappeared once again. “I may have been his
wizard long ago, but I am not any more. How dare he speak to me like I am
less than he. For now, I’ll allow him to think as he pleases, while I make
preparations for his downfall. I’d kill him right now, but I need him to
fight this battle.” Phelan spoke to himself, snarling and spitting.
“Are you coming, Phelan, or
do I have to take care of this myself?” Dugan stuck his head in the room.
“Coming, my king.” Phelan
flew out the room and led the army into the main hall.
When the redcaps and other
creatures of evil saw the army approach, they rushed over to Phelan. “What’s
all this?” Crimbald faced the wizard. “Why are these men here and not down
in the dungeons?”
“You’re going to the
dungeons, Crimbald; you and your followers. You are the general in charge of
them all, since you are so outspoken,” Phelan said.
“I do not need your
permission to be their leader. I’ve already accomplished that goal without
your help,” the redcap said.
“Call one of your followers
over here,” Phelan said.
Crimbald looked at the
others and called one of his own over. “This is Zargax.”
“Zargax, who is your leader,
Crimbald or me?” Phelan kept his eyes locked on the redcap.
Zargax’s gaze moved from the
other redcap to the wizard. “Crimbald is my leader.”
“Very well.” Phelan
immediately called five thousand sand niarts to attack Zargax.
The redcap screamed in
agony. “I was wrong,” he finally called out. “You are my leader, Phelan, oh
With that he dismissed the
sand niarts. “Well now, Crimbald, as you were saying?” The redcap hung his
head in defeat. “Take them down to the lower levels, but keep them in line.
Send half of them to find food and ale for King Dugan’s army. The other half
is to start making spears and weapons for our battle. Any discussion?”
Crimbald picked up Zargax
and carried him, pushing his way through the army of men. The other
creatures followed and made their way down to the lower level of the castle.
“Much better,” King Dugan
scowled. “I’m glad to see you’ve got control over your ghosties and boogie
men.” He laughed and his men joined in, humiliating Phelan. “I hope they
won’t be long with our ale and food. I’ve got to keep my army strong to beat
Kegan’s army. Move.” Dugan commanded his men to spread out and find a
comfortable place to rest.
An hour later King Bartolf,
his army and wizard, Sidero, arrived. He demanded the same equality and
treatment as Dugan’s army did. They took the upper floors and the roof.
Bartolf looked much the same as Dugan, aside from having lighter hair and
green eyes. His facial features and muscular form were identical. Phelan
released the trow to join the others and then went outside and disappeared
into the loch.
The wizard swam through the
water at a high speed and flew onto the side of the loch. He whizzed around
the trees, trying to relieve his anger. “How dare they? It’s not bad enough
to put up with them, but Sidero as well? My older brother does not look
well, but at least he has a body. I cannot and will not allow any of them to
take charge.” As dawn approached, the wizard had to seek refuge from the
sunlight. He moved to a cave, one that led into the bottom of the castle.
There he sat, contemplating.
The noise in the castle had
died down once they’d all been fed and had their fill of ale. Phelan laughed
at his plan. He raised his arms high above his head and sent a plague of a
contagious itchy rash upon the men in both armies. He spared the two kings,
the creatures he’d gathered the night before, but not the others from Zanaad.
“Maybe this will command some respect. I am no child, no weakling who they
can threaten and order around.”
Phelan went into the castle
and was nearly knocked over by the army rushing outside. They scratched
themselves until bloody before leaping into the icy water of Loch Doon.
Once again Sidero ended the
suffering, concocting a substance that the men spread over their bodies.
Though they looked foolish, the itching ceased.
Phelan’s torments did not
end there. He poisoned their ale, causing the men to vomit for hours. He
filled the castle with a putrid stench that made most of the men gag. King
Dugan and King Bartolf commanded their armies to stay where assigned. Both
times the wizard, Sidera, put an end to Phelan’s tortures.
The day passed in misery for
all. A cloud of doom hung over the castle. King Bartolf had enough. “Dugan,
gather your army. Staying in this castle is going to kill us all. My men are
warriors, conquerors, defenders and fighters. Most are heroes from past
wars. We are a victorious army, not men who sit in a castle scratching their
bottoms raw.” King Bartolf roused his men. “Prepare for battle.” He turned
to Dugan. “My brother, Rolfin, will rue the day he was born.”