Marcia never heard of such a code system in her life. She was led by three guards into another building that appeared to be an old barn. The building was in good condition and stunk of manure. She was led past the stable horses and down into a basement of some sort. She recognized many of the torture devices that were hung up on the wall. Some of them were in the guise of normal tools such as pliers and saws. However, she knew by the chairs with straps and spikes that this room was used for torture.
There was no way she was going to allow herself to be tortured. She had to escape. With three guards accompanying her, it wasn’t going to be easy. She looked at the one guard that she hoped was on her side, and he looked at her, and then nudged toward the guard standing closest to her. She knew the signal and made her move.
With lightning speed, she chopped her hand into the guard’s neck. Taken by surprise, the guard fell back. He reached for his sword, but Marcia brought up her leg and kicked him in the face. He fell to the ground and scrambled to get up.
Marcia could hear fighting behind her and assumed that the guard who was helping her was dealing with the other guard. The one she was fighting quickly got on his feet and was able to unleash his sword. He swung it at Marcia, but she quickly ducked, as it soared harmlessly overhead. It caught in a wooden beam, so Marcia stood back up and punched the guard in the nose. This only temporarily stalled him, as he pulled his sword free.
She thought quickly and looked over to the wall with torture devices. The closest device was referred to as a silencing fork. The silencing fork was often strapped around a person’s neck which held a bar with a two-sided double pronged fork. One end of the fork pointed toward the victim’s chin, while the other pointed toward the victim’s breast bone. If a person tried talking, the folk would pierce their flesh. People were kept awake for days with this torture device, because if they tried falling asleep, their head would nod and the fork would pierce them.
It was a small device, but Marcia quickly grabbed it, just as the sword was heading for her head. She brought up the silencing fork to block his sword. Sparks flew as the sword and folk collided. Pain jolted in her hand, as she almost dropped the fork. The guard was using a large sword which applied a lot of pressure. Fortunately, the sword would slow him down from recovering.
As he turned, she quickly stabbed the fork into his side. However, the fork only glanced off his armor as he swung back around, swinging his arm into the side of her head. She lost balance and fell to the ground against the wall. He raised the sword above him and swung it with full force. Marcia quickly grabbed each end of the fork and held it up just in time to block the sword. She could feel the side of the folk ends cut into her hands sending blood down her arms. The man raised the sword for another swing, but this time she quickly rolled out of its way, as he swung it against the ground.
She stood up and hammered the silencing fork into the back of his neck. The fork was sharp and pierced deeply, as the guard fell to the ground limp.
Just getting done with his own fight, the guard who had helped her ran over, “Wow, you really know how to fight taking out a guard with a silencing fork. We need to get out of here before more guards come. I know a secret way.”
They went back up to the upper part of the barn, and the guard turned in a different direction than they came in. They exited into an empty alleyway, and it appeared he was leading her away from the main part of the village.
“Walk casual so no one suspects anything,” He said, as they slowed their pace. There were a few town folks going about their work who paid them no attention. They went through many streets and alleyways, and Marcia felt lost. It seemed that they were not going toward where they originally entered town, and she was becoming a bit nervous.
They came upon a field with stone structures and broken columns. It appeared that the place was left desolate. The broken columns were white and worn down by the weather. Marcia guessed that a temple used to stand there. Some of the columns still stood upright, but most of the building had fallen into a heap of stones.
Marcia noticed a table-like structure in the middle that appeared to be made of undamaged marble. On top of it, there was a strange purple glow. “What is this place?” Marcia asked.
The guard answered, ”It used to be a temple that was built in the first age. It was destroyed when the age ended leaving it in shambles.”
Marcia had not learned much about the first age but guessed that the temple was dedicated to some god. “What is that purple glow on that table?”
“That is a portal that will lead you out of the village.”
“Really? I have to go through a portal? You failed to tell me that!” Marcia knew very little about portals and had never seen one. She didn’t know what they were for. “How do you know it will lead me to safety?”
“It leads everyone to safety.” Suddenly, Marcia heard footsteps coming. The guard she was with said, “Quick, go into the portal.”
Marcia was afraid, but she also didn’t want to get caught. “Are you coming with me?”
“Well, being that I betrayed my people, I don’t really have a choice. Hurry up and hop in!”
Marcia ran for it and hopped through. Once she entered the purple light, she could feel herself falling. Suddenly, she hit solid ground. It didn’t hurt as bad as she expected, and she looked around at her surroundings.
The place was devoid of any living thing, and there was total silence. She stood on a marble platform, and the sky was pure black with not a single star or moon. The only light was coming from twelve more portals that surrounded her.
Marcia looked at the portals that were surrounding her. All twelve shone with a different color. After waiting a while, the guard still had not entered. She was furious that she was lied to and caught in place with no direction. She was afraid to where these other portals would lead.
She decided to walk past the portals to see what was surrounding them in the blackness. As she walked past, she entered a thick fog and a minute later, found herself back at the portals. She started to run and always ended up where she started. She soon relaxed to try to think things over. She would have to choose a portal to go through.
Suddenly, a piercing scream ripped through the air, and Lucinda felt out of the air and onto the ground. She looked around baffled. Anita was almost glad to have company, but at the same time, she didn’t want anyone else to be stuck here.
Lucinda looked at her, “Where am I?”
“I have been trying to figure that out since I got here. We are in a portal room of some sort. Why are you here?”
“I was thrown in as punishment.”
“You mean, by the people who captured our village?”
“Why would they punish you so soon? We just arrived.”
Lucinda looked at the ground as if she was looking for the right words to say. “I know the people who captured us.”
Marcia could feel her blood boil, “What do you mean that you ‘know’ them?”
Lucinda was silent again and eventually looked up to Marcia, “They sent me to spy on your people. I’m so sorry.”
“What! How could you?!?!” Marcia reached for her sword but remembered that she was no longer carrying one. Lucinda was armed.
“I didn’t think they would attack and take all the prisoners. They told me I had to spy on you in case Lamax was building in army. I thought that they didn’t want your village to overtake their village.”
Something didn’t sound right to Marcia, “Your village is much larger and stronger. Couldn’t you see that our village was small, and we weren’t a threat?”
“Well, in all honesty, I started to enjoy my life in Lamax. It was better than living in a city controlled by King Etan’s people. Your village offered much more freedom, especially for women.”
Marcia wanted to believe her, but was uncertain, “What do you mean that there’s more freedom for women? What kind of freedom is lacking in King Etan’s territories?”
“Women are forced to get married to whatever man choices them. Women must become a servant to their husband or else they will be punished and possibly tortured. There was a man here that had chosen to marry me, but before he made it known, I offered to come to Lamax to spy. I swear, I just wanted to escape the marriage.”
Marcia didn’t buy it, “If women are suppressed, then why would they even allow you to travel in order to spy on another village?”
Lucinda looked back down to the ground. “I promised to infiltrate your village and get a consensus on your soldiers. I also looked for weak spots where they could attack.”
Marcia paced back in forth, “How were you able to talk them into letting you do this?”
“I was known to be stealth. I could easily influence people to believe what I said and could blend well with others. I was their best chance at getting to know what went on in the city.”
“So, it is your fault that we were attacked?”
“That’s the thing, I never reported back to them. They just attacked and seemed to know the weak spots. I don’t understand what happened.”
Marcia thought for a minute. She didn’t recall Lucinda leaving the village during her stay in Lamax. She thought it was strange that no one knew Lucinda beforehand, and yet, she was so easily welcomed in the village. Something wasn’t right, but she couldn’t put her finger on it.
Lucinda continued, “They punished me for not reporting back and threw me in here. How did you get here?”
Marcia told her story to which Lucinda responded, “That doesn’t make sense. So, the guard rescued you only to lead you here? It’s like you went from one prison cell to another.”
Marcia nodded her head, “Do you know anything about these portals?”
“Not a lot. It has been said that they have been here before time. There was once a temple built around this one, and people would come to honor the gods. During the first age, the village was abandoned, and the temple fell to ruin. Even the wise men of the village seem to know very little about the history of the temple. Zalonia is riddled with strange portals throughout the land, often found in places that are hard to get to.”