XXXII – Bert, Avanwy And An Annoying Terran

Passing through that long tunnel we emerged onto what appeared to be a city plaza. The place was huge. Flagstones of various colors made up the plaza floor, arranged in what appeared to be a detailed armigerous design I’d not seen before. The main theme seemed to be a large crimson bird, wings outstretched, overlaid and crossed by two of those glowing pitchforks . Seemed the little guys set great store by those glowing thingamabobs of theirs.

There were no nearby buildings as the open space spread out in a giant triangle, pointed away from us, for an incredible distance. Buildings could be seen in the distance where they skirted the edges of the plaza. Streets led off from the triangle’s points, disappearing into the city proper.

While I was staring like a slack-jawed idiot, the column had come to a stop. I realized this when I almost ran over Bert, who yelled and punched me a good one in my left arm. I, in turn, snapped out of it and, by reflex, almost made a tent-peg out of Bert. The two of us briefly glared at one another before calming down back to a semblance of normal.

As I looked around I noticed a drastic change in our ranks. With the exception of Bert’s clan, Tummi’s Valparta, and my Two hundred and four Titans, the rest of the Furry army had mysteriously vanished. Bert, always quick to explain, spoke up.

“Look surprised Varus friend? Simple answer. Tunnel through wall have other tunnels cut through and through it. Rest of army take off through tunnels for barracks in other parts of town. Simpler than dismissing whole army at once and having big mob going every which way, don’tcha think?”

I had to agree that it was an elegant solution, and I said so.

“Very clever Bert. Probably comes in quite handy for moving mass numbers of soldiers rapidly from point to point in case of attack. Am I right?”

Bert nodded his head enthusiastically.

“You catch on quick, Varus friend. Hope for you yet.”

I had to stop myself from trying to tent-peg him again. Catch on quick, huh. He was really asking for it.

Our discussion was interrupted by the arrival of a large body of armored troops. It was the nature of those troops that caused my men and I to swivel our heads and stare at yet another unexpected surprise. Those troops were men! That’s right. Men like me and my Titans. A soldier in black armor with a plumed helmet separated himself from the group and walked up to Bert. Looking down at the Valparta Chieftain, the warrior spoke.

“These the party we were sent to pick up?”

Bert looked confused and glared upward at the officer.

“What you talking about? Bert not send message. Was going to present them to the Merlyn myself! Please explain!”

The officer grunted and shook his head.

“Looks like we lost another messenger. That needs to be looked into. Regardless Bert; we sent someone to tell you we’d be meeting you when you arrived. Are you sure he didn’t show up?”

Bert growled.

“Where I keep him? In my pouch? No I not see him! Him not show up! Forest probably eat him! How should I know? You Terrans have problem losing people. Should work on that if I was you!”

The officer glared back.

“No need to get nasty. You can’t escort them anyway as you’re needed at a meeting of the city council. Seems you’ve been away a little too long again. Not exactly the way for a city leader to behave, is it?”

Now Bert was really pissed. He tried to make a snappy comeback, snarled, and left with his clan in tow. The officer chuckled.

“I live for that. The little guy riles so easy, it’s almost a shame to bait him that way. Still, he gets over it and we have a drink later. We grew up together y’know. He was a nasty little bugger, even back then. Oh, I should introduce myself. My name is Enoch and I’m Captain of the City Guard of Avanwy.”

While he spoke, Enoch’s Guardsmen discreetly surrounded us as we headed out of the plaza into the city proper. I was still having trouble grasping the scale of what I was seeing. Off in the distance and directly ahead of us was a large hill upon which sat the largest fortress I’d ever seen. It’s scale was greater than that of the largest Egyptian pyramid, with a central tower that seemed to reach almost to the cavern roof far above. Other lesser towers clustered around that giant, though none of them were nearly as large or tall as their titanic parent. There were massive battlements encircling the main structure, all of which were linked by a wall which appeared to be only slightly smaller than the ramparts surrounding Avanwy itself. Enoch seemed amused by my reaction.

“Nothing this big on the surface, eh? Guess the Stronghold of Ellatan would kind of unnerve someone new to all of this.”

The tent-peg idea was looking pretty good again. Enoch continued to blather on.

By the way . . . Varus is your name is it? Very Terran, that. You’ve been so enamored of the citadel that you haven’t really looked at the rest of the town. Valparta have an intense love of metals, as you can see.”

Enoch wasn’t kidding. We’d stopped part way up the hill which gave a great view of the surrounding lower town. The place positively glittered with metal. All kinds and colors were there in shapes too numerous to describe. It seemed that the Furrys built in whatever shape or size suited them. There was no regular skyline but, rather, a massive jumble of towers, domes, cubes, minarets, and whatever else could come to mind. And all of that architecture was made out of metal of some shape or another. I knew that I’d have to find a way to get to the lower town and get a really good look around.

Well, off we went again, back up that road to Ellatan and whoever was waiting for us inside. The major surprises weren’t over. Not by a long shot. If anything, human history was about to be rewritten in incredible ways.

Chapter XXXIII

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Published in: on March 25, 2011 at 9:06 PM  Leave a Comment  

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