“Vice-captain Bovair! Fen! Reavl!”
Orwen’s subordinates resound, as we stare through the dark entrance. After a few moments, the men stop, Reed picks up a stone and tosses it through the opening. Dissapearing without a sound, Reed’s eyes open wide, his expression turns complicated. Curious of Reed’s epiphany, I nudge his shoulder.
“They may not be able to hear us.”
Reed grips a handful of stones and begins flinging them into the towers entrance; using different strokes and speeds to display his suspicions.
“There is no sound, there must have been some magic cast on this entrance, a barrier perhaps? Bovair unhesitatingly charged in without determining if this tower had any special magic.”
“Get a few volunteers, and have them tie ropes to their waists, barrier or not, we need to recover our men.”
Taking volunteers to search for our missing men, Orwen ordered those left behind to grasp the ends of the volunteers ropes. Having several soldiers assembled before the entrance, ropes tied so they can be pulled at a moments notice. Holding torches, preparing their weapons and armor, the volunteers readied themselves against an ambush. Nodding to me once, Orwen gives the men the signal to enter. In moments from the entrance the soldiers vanish from our view.
“They’re gone! We should pull them back.” One of the soldiers nearby gripping the safety rope cries out.
“Don’t be so hasty, they will signal us when they need assistance. For now just wait. ” Orwen reassures the men, verifying the ropes. If a soldier is in need they would yank on their line to be pulled out. In dire cases, ropes would be cut, and at that time we would have determined the rescue to be impossible.
Waiting for the 2nd group of soldiers to scout the tower and locate our missing men, Reed investigates the entrance to see if we missed anything.
“How did we not see this before? There are letters here, ones I know and others that I have never seen at all. How could I have missed such details.”
Leaving Reed and Orwen, I gather the rest of the soldiers to ready a camp around the base of the tower. We may have to be here for awhile, so might as well make ourselves comfortable for now. I have already planned once we rescue our men or determine it to be impossible, we will need to travel to the nearest frontier settlement and weather the lands frost.
“Is this really, what it says? No, i must have missed something. Arrgghh. No its right, wait it..Whaaaat?”
Watching the studious missile vice-captain grow frustrated, I begin to shake my head and sigh. But for him to get really agitated, over some inscriptions, has also gotten me curious.
“For those that enter… the ones that exit… whoever inscribed these words is either a scholar or a fool. It just doesn’t make sense.”
“And now what, ‘just’ doesn’t make sense?”
Turning towards me, Reed had already written notes of his findings. Strange when did he get the time to pull out writing material. But rather than looking at those notes I faced Reed and questioningly squinted at him.
“Commander, I am not crazy. I have deciphered most of the inscriptions, its just there meaning cancels each other out. It appears to just be gibberish.”
“Let me hear it.”
“They go like this. ‘For those who enter, the ones that exit. Consequences are burdens. Shelter all, the price of life.’ That’s what the inscriptions come out to.”
Contemplating those words, they do sound like gibberish, and yet they feel very important. Facing the tower entrance the ropes glide slowly disappearing into the void. The men on duty are about to rotate their shifts, abruptly the ropes slacken and don’t move further. I have the men rotate immediately, allowing the fatigued soldiers time to move away. The ropes once more tightened almost pulling the men towards the entrance, Orwen calls for more men to assist and orders everyone to retract the rope.
Reeling in the scout and rescue squad, the men move with a unified purpose. But the more we pull, every so often the men are dragged back towards the entrance. Judging by the length of the rope thus far, we approximated that the men should have been close to the tower’s center. Quickly we begin to see a fingers holding the rope from the void, grabbing at the hand, the soldiers take out the first volunteer.
Bewildered, the first volunteer begins questioning why he was yanked away. The rest of the volunteers who are being pulled from the void as well, are surprised by our actions.
“We were almost there.”
“Commander we found traces of Vice-Captain Bovair. We were about to continue further.”
“It was too quick, why did you pull us so soon?”
Orwen quiets the soldiers with a glare.
“Did you not yank on your ropes signalling us to pull? Was there a mistake?”
Under Orwen’s expression, the volunteers deny a mistake and claimed they did not signal for aid. They explained their findings, the vast interior of the Tower which doesn’t match the exterior shape, fountains with drinkable water & in its center was a staircase leading to its top. Reed interjects, voicing his plan to have the soldiers rest within the Tower’s interior.
“It’s still to early to – ”
The tower emitted a sound unknown to us, rising and falling in tones. The men around camp panicked and began scrambling for their belongings. I looked at the Tower and scanned the surroundings. ‘Is this a call for help, a beacon of some kind?’ If we must prepare for an attack, it would better to do so from within this structure. Immediately, I told the men near me to gather everyone, we are entering the tower.
“Commander, but we still have not ascertained if it is safe.”
“If that loud sound was a call for reinforcements, we will have a better chance to survive if we defend inside. Or do you have a different idea in mind?”
Orwen realized his blunder. After confirming other possibilities of defense, the tower did provide the greatest chance for survival and he began to rally his platoon to enter it.
Reed did not question my logic, but gave a perplexed stare. Holding his notes to me, I grasped them firmly, nodding in return that I will read them.
~ The tower, is unlike any other structure from an ancient era, nor does it match our style of architecture. The inscriptions are a mix of a dead language, our current tongue and a few other symbols which have not been discovered.
For those who enter *#*#* the ones that exit. Consequences *##** *##*## are burdens. Shelter all *###*## **#** #**#, the #** #**## price of life.~
I go over Reeds notes a second time, there’s more to this phrase than he originally deciphered. But time is not on our side. My lips curl into a frown as I gaze of into the distance, the clouds have soon began to darken. Before my eyes a storm is brewing and the soldiers in my command begin to feel the changes of the weather.
“Hurry, gather the men and enter the tower, we will deal with the rest thereafter.”
A flash occurs a half-league away from our men, before its shock wave rebuffs them. Scrambling for their gear, they moved in a frenzy towards the tower. Orwen’s cavalry encountered trouble as several steeds had run off due to the strike.
“Orwen Leave the steeds be, gather the men, and what steeds we have left. Do not worry for the rest.”
Although I gave the command, not all the men believed in taking shelter within the tower. Some of the men have begun to abandon their areas and make off for the distant hills.
“Reed, take note of those that have left, but focus on getting your men within the structure.”
We left behind many of our items by rushing to take shelter, I oversaw my vice-captains effort to gather their men. Even watched as others decided to run off, but rather than cut them down for desertion, I will take car of those who will willingly follow me.
As the last man, makes his way into the tower, I follow behind and begin to close the door to this place. The last images I see is are series of lights that strike the plains surrounding us.