Roanoke 17

Roanoke: Chapter Seventeen

Edwyn le Fay walked for a couple of miles, until he was sure that he was not being followed by any of the villagers from White Town. He did not intend to walk all over the world when there was a much easier way to travel. It would be the world of shadows for him.

He had not told them that he was going to use Magick. He had got the distinct impression that, considering the circumstances concerning the origin of White Town, the townsfolk were distrustful of all wizards, whether Black or White. And le Fay had not wanted any problems with them.

He began looking for a deep shadow, somewhere where he could form a door to the world of shadows. He had not dared ask the people of White Town where the Bishopric was. So he was going to look for it inside the Shadow World. He could scout more quickly in that other dimension, and find out where this other settlement was. But he was not going to step through a shadow out into the Bishopric. He would still approach the place on foot. He did not want to let on to those people that he was a wizard, or that he possessed spells which they did not know.

He wished, though, that he had not been so quick in getting out of White Town. He had had his breakfast. But he wished that he had thought to take some food with him. He was sure that the Archard’s would have given him some food if he had requested it. Even a few apples would have done. But he had panicked when they had begun to talk about him settling down in White Town.

It was too late now. He had gone. He was not going to turn around and go back to White Town. Where he was, though, did not look all that hospitable. It was not desert. But it was headed in that direction. It was what might be termed scrubland. There were cacti, bushes, and the odd stunted tree. But he didn’t see any fruit which he recognised. There was some sort of fruit on some of the cacti. But le Fay did not know if they were edible or not. Some of the things around here had to be edible, though. As he had left White Town he had seen small plots of land behind the houses, where they had been growing things. But there hadn’t seemed to be enough for the whole town to live on. They had to be getting food from somewhere else. So some of these things had to be edible.

He passed a bush with white berries on it. He almost tried some of the berries. But he still had the fear of being poisoned. If he poisoned himself then there was no one in this world who would come to his assistance.

He saw a small deer, only a couple of feet high, in front of him. The deer stared at him, as though it had never seen a human being before. Maybe the people of White Town supplemented their food by hunting deer. That had not occurred to him until now.

Hello. I’m not going to hurt you.” le Fay said. At the sound of his voice the deer bolted, running away as fast as he could. It seemed that he wasn’t going to have any venison to eat. Not that he’s had any way of catching or killing the deer, anyway. Nor, for that matter, did he have any way of cooking venison.

He saw a small cave. It wasn’t very big. But the shadows inside were dark enough for him to enter the world of shadows. Within moments he no longer had that great red sun beating down on him.

Le Fay thought his way around this world, looking for more shadows which were angular or regular. He wanted to find this place that was called the Bishopric. But he was not going to suddenly appear out of thin air in the place. He didn’t know what reception he would find in the town. But he wanted to find where it was. Then he would look for some other shadow doors near to it, but still at a safe distance. That would allow him to observe the people of the Bishopric first. He was being cautioned because these people had been descended from a society led by a Black Magician. There was a good chance that the people were fine. But they might well be dedicated to evil. He would have to be careful with them.

Going wider and wider through the realm of shadows he saw shadows that could only be those of houses. It had taken him a long time. But it had to be the Bishopric, unless there were other towns out there of which he was unaware. But it seemed like there were only two inhabitations in the entire world.

Then he had to find somewhere close to the Bishopric where there was a door leading out of the realm of shadows. He went in an ever-expanding spiral out from the Bishopric. It took a long time for him to discover another doorway.

Le Fay stepped out of the world of shadows. He looked around where he was. But there was nobody about. He had not been seen.

The Bishopric should now only be a few miles away from him. He set off in the direction of the town.

It took him a little longer than he had thought that it would. He had thought that it had only been a couple of miles. But it could be hard to judge distance while in the Shadow World.

He sweated as he walked. He was still not used to the fact that this world was so warm. He had to take his jacket off, and carry it over his shoulder. He loosened the buttons on his shirt. Above him the red sun beat remorselessly down on the land. It had turned the land into scrub. Maybe another few hundred years and it would become desert – le Fay was not that sure how such things worked.

At least there were more trees here and there, and a little wildlife. It was not so scrubby. The bushes were scraggly and thorny, and most of the trees were small and twisted. But at least there were more trees here, rather than just the occasional one.

Occasionally he saw birds in the sky, when he bothered to look up. He was sure that one bird which was hovering, high in the sky above him, was a vulture. Having a vulture eye him up for a possible meal did not make him feel any more at ease.

He saw one wolf or dog like creature in the distance. It might have been a coyote. But it ran off in the opposite direction when it saw him.

He saw some more of the small deer. But they all ran off when they saw him. They were scared of Humans. Maybe they had had people try to hunt them in the past. He supposed that if he really needed to catch one for food then he knew spells which he could use against them. Cooking them, though, would be a different matter. He was not about to eat any raw meat. He was not some savage.

He went over a rise in the dusty ground and saw the town of the Bishopric in front of him. It was around the same size as White Town. It didn’t look much like a bishopric to him. There wasn’t even a church.

The houses were of a similar design to the houses of White Town. They were simple, of wood and baked bricks. None of the houses were very big.

Le Fay made his way down towards the town, wondering what sort of reception he was going to get. He wondered if he would be able to tell them that he was a wizard, and that he had come to take them back to the world from which he had come. Not that he knew any way back, as yet.

He went from rock to rock on the way to the town. He wanted to get close and study the people before he introduced himself. If possible he wanted to hear what some of them said, to give him some idea of what these people were like.

Le Fay reached a large rock outside of the town without being seen. He could actually be quite stealthy when he tried. He stood behind the rock. He put one hand on the rock, and then snatched his hand away. The rock felt red hot. He managed not to say anything out loud. He swore inwardly.

He peeked out from behind the rock, studying this other town of the Red World. It was then that he saw Trevelyan. He was standing outside one of the houses of the Bishopric, talking to one of its male citizens.

The Black Magician had beaten him to the Bishopric.