“Hump! Men! They’re all the same!” Amora snorted as Collin headed off.
Collin followed Balfus down several twisting passages—ancient lava tubes he was told. Balfus talked about the city as they journeyed toward the council chambers. It one of the centermost rooms in the mountain and also one of the most secure.
“Farther down are the three major lakes of Ingri.”
“Underground?” Collin asked, curious.
“Oh, quite. They are fed by a few rivers that come down from the mountain. The largest one, Gedi, is about fourteen miles across.”
Collin tried to picture so much water beneath a stone ceiling, but he couldn’t. “And these three lakes, they provide Ingri with all of the water she needs?”
“Oh yes, we have extensive subterranean agricultural sectors on the fifth level that provide us with about half of our food consumption. The rest we get from fishing off the coast, penguin farming, and Gegre. Gegre is the second largest lake; it has a very large supply of freshwater clam.”
“Your city is blessed with the touch of Christus!”
“Thankyou. Egress watches over us well. He has always taken care of us.”
“Egress?” Collin had heard that name before. Egrid had mentioned the name several times last summer. It was always used with some sort of blessing or thanksgiving.
“Oh, Egress is the mountain.”
“Yes, the people of Ingri worship him as our provider.”
“I didn’t know your people had such a religion.”
Balfus looked at him out of the corner of his eye, humored. “The people of Ingri have practiced their faith for three millennia now, and all that time Egress has watched over us. Egress is the embodiment of the creator of AnteraSvell.”
“What about the rest of Hycophali?”
“The world was crafted into shape by Shadow Walkers. They are lesser beings that Egress brought into life to serve him.”
Collin stopped dead in his tracks. “Wh-” he spoke very slowly, “Shadow Walkers?”
“Yes.” Balfus looked at him as if he were a court fool, “What about them?”
“What are they?” Collin took a step closer, intent on learning as much as he could.
“They are servants of Egress. Legend has it that one day he will step forth from the mountain, but until that day he sends them to and fro across AnteraSvell, doing his bidding.”
Collin paused, trying to understand the revelationary insight this young page had just imparted. Balfus tilted his head, concern crossing his face, “If you want to know more I could go to the Beladin Library while you are in the council chambers and see if an attendant could bring any records they may have on Shadow Walkers to your room?”
“Thankyou. I would appreciate that.” Collin spoke, returning from his inner thoughts.
“Now, we should hurry. The meeting is already underway.”
“Yes, lead on.”
After only a few more minutes Collin stood before massive, oakwood doors as Balfus told one of the guards standing at attention to announce his arrival to the King. In a moment, the great doors swung open and a large man with a wide girth and a thick red beard looked up from a table at Collin.
“Collin!” He shouted as he ran over to the man, bringing him into a tight embrace. The man pulled back from Collin, noticing the troubled expression on his face.
“Egrid, the suspicion failed.” Alarm spread across the King’s portly face as Collin rested one hand on his shoulder, “Egrid, he’s coming.”
(This is episode 5 in an ongoing miniseries. Click the link below to check out where this story begins.)