Monday, 20 December 2010

The Return of the Exiles

Chapter 20

Edward and the others left the Guest Pavilion soon after the King and his party departed. The horses were waiting by the entrance and it did not take Tag long to load their gear. As soon as they were ready, they rode down through roads of the City escorted by Dolmont's soldiers. Though disciplined and upright in their saddles, they  were obviously troubled by what they had heard had taken place in the Council Chamber. The Elves they passed on the way down through the levels of the Golden City looked at them curiously as they passed, some of them exchanging comments but they soon continued with their business once the horsemen rode from their view. Edward noticed that The Golden City of the Elves, which had glowed so brightly when they arrived, was no longer shining in the sunshine because a heavy overcast now obscured the sun. Although the soldiers escorting them from the city rode proudly upright, there was a tension in the way they looked at the outlanders as though weighing up their chances if it came to fighting.
A light drizzle was falling from the slate grey sky when Karlan saluted the escorting soldiers at the gate and left them to watch as the outlanders rode across the bridge towards the meadow beyond. By the time the outlanders had crossed the bridge, the sun had started to shine through gaps in the cloud and at their back the Golden City again glowed in the bright light. 
Once on the other side of  the lake from the city, Karlan took control. He pushed his horse to the front and started leading the way. Tag raised an eyebrow at Edward but at his shrug pulled his horse to Karlan's rear. It was Karlan who called a halt once they were back into the Forest. The pattern of travel was set for the rest of the journey through the Forest, Karlan leading with Tag, Edward and Megor with the pack horses and Boric bringing up the rear.
They established a routine while in the safety of the Forest which was to help them for the rest of their journey. At the end of the day, Tag would scout ahead and find a camping site, Edward and Megor would set up the camp while Tag and Karlan made sure there were not any dangers nearby. Boric watched their rear to make sure they were not followed. During these evening camps, Megor surprised everybody with his adeptness at cooking. After this, without any argument from the others, he took on this chore.
Two days after leaving the Golden City, Karlan led them out of the Forest onto the old road. Once out of the forest discovered that the  land beyond the trees was of rolling downs covered with grass and dotted with woods. It was criss crossed with streams and at times larger rivers all of which they had to cross either by fords or crude bridges. Edward did not catch  sight of other people and he remarked on this one morning to Karlan.
" Oh there are people out there," Karlan replied smiling grimly and looking off to the hills. " I can't see them but I do have this feeling that we are being watched closely as we ride through this land. Logic dictates it belongs to somebody. Besides, Tag says that there are signs in the morning that people have been near enough to observe our camps. They are good at keeping out of sight but they are there all right. Ask Megor. He warned me as we came out of the forest that there were people near. He has detected them watching us ever since we broke camp the morning after leaving of the forest."
Edward turned and raised his eyebrows at Megor. " Can you feel the people out there?"
Megor smiled a tired smile and pointed. " See that ridge off to the south. There are four horsemen hiding in the coppice near the summit keeping a watchful sight of us all the time. Then see that hill ahead and to the right. There are five horsemen there waiting to see what we are up to. At the moment they show no signs of wanting to confront us. They seem to be content to let us proceed across their land. When they are satisfied we are not going to stay, they appear to hand the observation on to another set of horsemen presumably when we get to the edge of their territory."
Edward shook his head. " You can tell all of that from feeling the emanations from these hidden people. You should meet my sister. She has similar feelings to yours. Just warn Tag if they start to get angry with us or show signs of hostility."
Two days later, Megor called a halt. Karlan, who was leading, came back to join them. Tag who was scouting their rear soon joined them as well.
Karlan asked. " Well Megor? What has disturbed you?"
Megor frowned but replied. " There are nine horsemen waiting on the path ahead of us, blocking our way. There are some more on the hills to the left and right of our path. They will be behind us when we get to the horsemen blocking the road.  Those horsemen in the hills to our rear will make sure that there will be no way back for us once we are passed where they hide."
" Do you feel they are hostile?"  Karlan asked urgently, his hand loosening his sword. " What do you suggest we do?"
Megor's frown deepened and he shrugged. " I cannot feel any hostile intentions. It is as though they are waiting for us so that they can tell us something. As far as I can tell, they are frightened of something which lies ahead of us along the trail. My feelings tell me they want to tell us about it. If I was in charge, I would go to meet them peacefully. Again if it was me in charge, I would go forward with Boric to meet them with you and Edward some distance behind and Tag watching our rear. Karlan and Edward, you had better keep quiet. From my experience, the easiest way to start a fight is to have one or the other of you two in front."
Karlan laughed and turned to grin at Edward. " Where does he get that idea from? What do you think?" he asked, turning to Boric.
Boric looked worried. " I have no experience of your cousins power but, having been round Edward for a while, I know we have to trust people with power and not question what they are asking us to do. All right, I will lead with Megor by my side. Edward and Karlan can come next with the pack horses. Tag, you try to make sure we have an out strategy in case they are hostile when we get up to them. I will do the talking or try to communicate if they do not understand us."
Megor cut in. " I will try to read the pictures in their minds as a way of understanding what they are trying to say. Edward could do this as well as me but I think, if I am with you, I should be in charge of mind reading."
Boric loosened his sword in its scabbard before waving them forward at a walk.  " All right, lets go.  Try not to insult them in any way, Edward, if they ask you to speak. From what Megor says there are a lot more of them then us."
Boric and Megor led the way with Edward and Karlan a short distance behind leading the pack animals. Tag dropped back and soon disappeared into the hills. When they rounded a hill, they saw the nine men on horse back blocking their way just as described by Megor. The men were all dressed in leather, with their hair in long braids, bows slung across their backs and what looked like short spears in their hands. They were shorter than average as judged by Edward. One of the men had a close fitting helmet with a set of curved horns attached to the top. Obviously the leader, thought Edward.
Boric called a halt. " Stay here with the horses you two," he ordered Karlan and Edward in a voice which brooked no argument. " I will ride forward with Megor and see what they want. Keep your eyes peeled for any other horsemen who might come down out of the hills but don't confront them unless it is obvious they are about to attack. Keep Tag here when he comes back. Come on Megor. Let’s go and see what they want."
Edward watched as Boric and Megor walked their horses towards the men blocking the trail. He was conscious of Karlan easing his sword in its scabbard and looking round at the hills to their side. There was no sign of Tag. Boric raised his hand palm towards the men as he approached the group and the leader raised his hand in a similar fashion. Gesturing, the leader made it plain that they should dismount and sit in the shade of a tree nearby.
Boric and Megor dismounted, handing the reins of their horses to one of the leaders escorts and followed the leader and two other men to the trees. At a gesture from the leader, they all sat. Even more defenceless, thought Edward but did not articulate his fears to Karlan. He was watching Megor intently, his hand on his sword hilt.
For the next few minutes Edward watched fascinated. With a great deal of hand waving, drawing in the dust with sticks, Megor and the leader spoke to each other. By the way he pointed ahead and then used his hands to cut the air, it was obvious that the leader was trying to warn them of a danger which lay further along the trail. It was obvious that he was telling them not to go any further. Megor tried to tell him that they had to go on but each time the leader became more agitated. In the end the leader pointed towards the hills to the south and made a motion which Edward took to mean eating and sleeping. Megor spoke at length to Boric and Boric made a gesture towards Edward and Karlan. Edward was distracted from his watching of Boric and Megor by the arrival of Tag and when he looked again Boric and Megor were coming back to meet them.
When he was back with the others, Boric stroked his chin, looked at each in turn and said.  " As far as I can make out, and Megor will back me up, they are trying to tell us that there is a grave danger ahead and we should not go any further."
" From the pictures I read from his mind and the fear emanating from his whole body, he is terrified of what lies ahead of us along this trail," Megor put in but then shrugged. " I could not get a clear picture from his mind but I got the distinct impression that anybody who has ever gone further than this into the land beyond those hills has never been seen again."
When Megor finished, Boric continued. " I am pretty certain from their gestures that they have invited us back to their village for a meal and to spend the night. The question is do we go with them or do we carry on? Tag what did you find out?"
Tag scratched his head and then observed seriously. " There are horsemen on the hills both to the right and the left but they do not appear to be ready to attack. I think they are waiting for a signal from the leader. I have discovered a valley leading away from the trail about half a mile to our rear which we could use to escape especially if we surprise them by leaving abruptly."
Boric smiled grimly. " Karlan? What do you think? You are the only one with any knowledge of this land."
Karlan shook his head. " This is not a very good position for any kind of action. We have found ourselves surrounded by these horsemen. Tag may have identified a possible escape route but, if we try to escape, we will be chased by people who know the land. In addition, they have a good idea of which way we plan to go. I know it goes against my instinct but I trust my cousin's feelings and would prefer to go along with these people rather than try to get away from them. They might be able to help us and to give us some hint of what lies ahead."
Boric shrugged. " Edward?"
Edward grinned. " Lets see what they want from us."
Boric shook his head. " No, lets demand they let us go past them, Edward? All right. Megor and I will go back and tell them we are willing to accompany them to where ever they want us to go. Once we give the signal, you can all come and join us. While we are with them, be alert and watch for any reaction from Megor."
Boric and Megor rode forward once more to join the riders waiting on the trail. After a brief consultation, Boric signalled for the others to join him and Megor.
The horsemen formed up around Boric and his friends, making Tag look about nervously. Edward looked at Megor, his eyebrows raised in a silent question but Megor shrugged in reply. 
The horsemen led them away from the trail, through the surrounding hills, their path twisting and turning until Edward was lost. Tag however was noting every landmark they passed and he whispered to Edward that he would be able to find their way back again if needed.
After riding for a couple of hours, the leader of their escort called a halt and they dismounted to rest the horses. The horsemen passed round some water bottles and what tasted like dried meat. Then they all remounted and continued. 
The sun was getting lower in the sky when they came out of the hills into a broad flat valley. To their left sheltering from the prevailing wind was a tented village, the tents grouped around a central space. Directly across the space or central square, Edward thought, from where they entered the village was an open pavilion with a raised floor. Sitting on the floor were a group of men, all dressed in leather clothing and with helmets on their heads with various decorations. In the centre was an old man with a gold chain around his neck and a staff of polished black wood in his hand. Behind him stood a tall imposing figure, his face painted in an intricate red and black pattern, and a staff almost as tall as he was, carved and highly polished.
The leader of their escort led them to the pavilion through the crowds of curious onlookers who had appeared from amongst the tents. Reaching the pavilion, the leader indicated for the party to dismount. Once they were standing, their horses were collected by tribesmen and led away. Tag started to object but Boric ordered him to be silent. 
The leader bowed deeply towards the men sitting on the platform. Turning to each of them in turn, the leader said something to the Chief and, taking their lead from Boric, each bowed in turn. There was a rapid exchange of words and much hand waving between the Chief and the leader. 
Megor said to Edward. " The leader is telling the Chief who we are and why we have been brought here, as far as I can make out. They are very suspicious of strangers but I can feel no real animosity towards us from their people."
" Obviously not," barked Tag. " They have us surrounded by a superior force and there is not much we can do about things."
The leader of the patrol that had brought them to the village motioned Boric and Megor to come forward to meet the Chief who indicated for them to be seated. Once more there was a great deal of arm waving, gestures and words in different languages before the Chief nodded and smiled. He turned and said something to the other men sitting on the platform and there ensued a debate. Then all the men fell silent and the Chief said something to the leader of the patrol.
After standing, the leader of the patrol bowed deeply. Indicating for Megor and Boric to do likewise, the patrol leader led them back to Edward and his companions.
It was Megor who spoke. " It looks as though the Chief has offered us hospitality for the night. There will be a feast in welcome for us after we have settle in. In the morning we will be free to leave if we still want to brave the danger in the land to the south west."
Boric frowned but said. " I think we should stay for the night and play along with these strange people. It will give us a night of rest and a good meal if nothing else."
He turned to the patrol leader and indicated for him to lead the way. The leader of the patrol smiled and then pointed to himself. 
" Togot!" he said abruptly.
Megor smiled back and said the name of each of his companions in turn. The leader tried the names, rolling the sounds round his tongue,  bowing to each of the group as he said them.
Megor said, " Togot," and indicated for him to lead them to their resting place.
They were led away behind the pavilion with the staging, now empty of the Chief and his advisors, to a large tent. Once they were inside the tent, they found all their gear from their horses neatly stacked ready for them. Tag quickly checked their baggage and asked Megor to find out where the horses were tethered. After much hand waving, Togot pointed vaguely away from their tent but Tag insisted on being shown the horses before doing anything else. Togot shrugged as though to indicated that this was not necessary but led Tag out of the tent.
They found bowls of water in one corner of the tent and washed and changed their travel stained and dusty clothes. When Tag returned with Togot, the patrol leader indicated for them to wait here until he came to fetch them. Megor told them to relax because he could not detect any animosity towards them. Despite Megor's reassurance, Tag insisted on keeping a look out.
Togot came for them later in the evening dressed in leather with a bright red sash and a horn topped head-dress. He led them quickly back to the main square which they found had been transformed since they arrived. In the centre was a large open fire and round this sat what must have been most of the village. Togot led them to places on mats in front of the pavilion beside the Chief and his advisers. As soon as they were seated, women stepped forward from out of the shadows and offered them bowls of water to wash their hands.
The Chief stood and in a remarkably strong voice for one of his years addressed the gathering. Megor guessed he was introducing their guests. Once the Chief had resumed his seat, the women appeared again and started to serve food. Some of the food was strange but it mainly consisted of meat, venison and beef Edward judged, in strangely textured sauces with ground maize. There were fruit and nuts. All this was washed down with some form of fermented drink which Edward had difficulty in naming. Throughout the meal, Edward was served by a young, pretty woman who smiled shyly at him whenever she caught his eye. 
After they had finished eating, the Chief waved his hand and drums started to beat out a tune. The drums were joined by some form of pipes and very soon many of the men and women were dancing in intricate flowing patterns round the fire. The young woman, who had served him the meal and drink, approached Edward and obviously offered to show him how to dance. Not liking to upset her, Edward rose to his feet and joined the other dancers by the fire. 
It would have been amusing if it hadn't been so obvious that the young woman, Alora, as she pronounced her name, was serious about what she was doing. Edward tried to follow her lead, tried desperately not to bump into other dancers and looked over to his friend to see that Megor and Karlan had also been asked to dance. Tag grinned at his friend. Somehow the music took over and after a while Edward relaxed.
When the music stopped, Alora led him back to his place, giggling all the time. Catching his eye, the Chief smiled and nodded as though pleased that the strangers were joining in.
There was a pause and then there were wrestling matches and Togot persuaded Tag to join in. After throwing a few of the other wrestlers and being thrown himself, Tag sat down panting. A target was set up to one side of the fire and a knife throwing contest then ensued. Karlan surprised everybody by showing how good he was. The villagers seemed most impressed.
Then four men stepped forward with bows in their hands. It was dark except for the light given out by the fire and some torches on long poles round the edges of the square. Togot tapped Megor on the shoulder and pointed to a point between the tents on the edge of the square. In the darkness, a light had been hung from a pole with a plaited straw screen behind. The archers bowed to the Chief, took up positions to the side of the bonfire and took turns in shooting at the light. The arrows thudded into the straw screen but the light remained stubbornly burning. One of the archers came over to where Edward and his companions were sitting, gesturing to Togot that they wanted one of Edward’s party to try their hand at hitting the light. Boric grinned and pointed to Edward. Togot smiled and bowed slightly to Edward indicating that he should take the bow and have a try.
At first Edward, blushing furiously at all the attention he was getting, shook his head but then shrugged.
Leaning over to Megor, he said. " Go back to our tent and fetch my bow. If I get up, they will think I am refusing."
Megor smiled and made gestures to Togot which seemed to convince him about what was happening, before hurrying away to fetch Edward's bow. Togot said something to the Chief, who in turn spoke to the bowmen. They all looked at Edward with renewed interest and there was a buzz of conversation among the assembled tribesmen.
Megor returned with Edward's bow and sheaf of arrows. There was complete silence around the fire as Edward strung his bow, selected an arrow and then strode away from the fire until he was on the edge of the square as far away from the target as he could get without disappearing into the darkness. The four archers who had been shooting at the target followed him and stood with looks of astonishment at the size of Edward's bow and the distance to the target. From where he stood, Edward had great difficulty in making out the small light which was made even more dim by the light of the bonfire which shone in his eyes. One of the archers shook his head as though doubting Edward's sanity at attempting such a shot.
Edward notched the arrow to the string, pulled back, aimed and let fly. There was the twang of the string, the whoosh of the arrow and the light went out as the arrow thudded into the straw screen. Cheers erupted from the watching crowds as Edward walked back to his place, pausing briefly to bow to the Chief.
Togot was on his feet when Edward came back to place where his friends were sitting and he bowed to Edward in turn. He made gestures which could only mean he wanted to look at the bow. Edward handed his bow to Togot and sat down. Togot examined the bow, made a few experimental pulls on the string and with a smile handed the bow the other archers who were now crowding round. Togot, at a word from the Chief took Edward’s bow to show the Chief. A tribesman whom Edward did not know came back from the target and handed Edward the arrow with which he had put out the light.
" You appear to have caused quite a stir," Megor remarked as Edward took a long drink from a cup offered to him by Alora.
Edward grinned. " I have certain advantages over them," he observed indicating the other archers. " I could have shot out the light with one of their bows by mentally controlling the flight of the arrow but I thought using my bow would add excitement to the shot."
There was some more dancing and drinking and then the Chief rose, bowed to his guests and left for his tent. The party started to break up with people drifting away and Boric said good night to Togot before leading his companions back to their tents.
When they arrived at the guest tent, Edward said to Boric, " I am going for a walk to clear my mind before going to bed. I won't be long."
Boric frowned but replied. " Be careful and do not go too far away. See you in the morning."
Edward walked through the tented village and up the hill behind the tents. For some reason he could not explain, even to himself, he needed some time alone with his thoughts. He could not see the sentries but could feel their presence though they did not stop him. The moon was high in the sky casting a silver sheen on the trees and giving enough light for him to see where he was going. 
Climbing the hill looking for a place to sit, he was surprised when a hand slipped into his. Looking round he saw Alora by his side and they continued up the hill until they found a spot where the grass was dry in the shelter of some rocks.
The next morning, Tag shook Edward awake to the bustle of preparations in the tent.
" Come on lazy," Tag barked though he was grinning at his friend as Edward rubbed his eyes to clear his sight. " Sleeping through all the preparations and leaving all the work to others. There is some porridge over there. We leave in a short while."
When Edward came out of the tent, he found the horses saddled and loaded, waiting under the watchful eye of Tag for them to leave. 
" Ah there you are," Boric greeted Edward.  " Are you ready to leave now? We have all been up for ages."
" What do you expect?" Tag remarked with another grin.  " Boric, you will have to tell me sometime what he has got which none of the rest of us appear to have. In all our travels, he manages to get off with the most desirable ladies we meet. I would not mind if he put any effort into the chase but all he does is sit back and they come to him."
Edward tried not to blush especially when he caught sight of Alora among the crowd waiting to see them leave. He bowed in her direction before mounting his horse. She waved back and her smile was like the sun rising after a storm. Togot raised his eyebrows but did not say anything.
Signalling for them to follow, Togot rode through the throng in the square to the edge where they were joined by the rest of his patrol. The people waved and then they were free of the village and out into the valley leading away from the village.
Two hours later they came out onto the trail they had been following the day before. At the place where Togot and his men had barred their way, they reined in.
With gestures to Megor, Togot indicated that this was as far as he and his men would accompany them. All the companions saluted Togot and his men, before turning away and continuing their journey.
After climbing up and over one ridge and then a second, Boric called a halt. They sat on their horse in a line and looked out over the land ahead. The horses snorted and shifted fretfully. Boric gasped, Tag shook his head, Edward frowned but the two Elves groaned.
Sloping away from where they sat, the land was smooth and shiny as though all the earth had been blasted away and the rocks melted. As far as the eye could see was bare rocks with no sign of vegetation. In the distance, the land was hidden by a mist that to Edward appeared to give off a greenish glow. There was no sight nor sound of any living creature.
Boric turned to Edward, his eyes showing his fear and said in low, stressed voice. " Do you expect us to cross that? How long does it go on for?"
Edward looked around before he replied. " Believe me Boric, I did not know it was like this. I have never seen anything comparable to this before. All I do know is that if we set off to go round this place, it will add days to our journey."
Boric turned to Karlan. " Well? " was all he asked. 
Karlan frowned and then shrugged his shoulders. " I have heard about this place. It is part of the history of the Elves. This is the place where the last battle took place between the Elves before the Sea Elves were sent away. Humans fought on both sides and millions died. The Elves did not only fight with weapons but with magic. The battle raged over this place for three weeks. Sometimes the Elves of the Golden City were in ascendancy then the Elves of the shore. The ground was turned to molten rock as the magic blasted between the two armies. Half the Elven army was destroyed and a generation of men lost forever. Finally, the elves of the Golden City prevailed. After the Sea Elves were sent away,  the Elves of the Golden City abandoned the world and retreated to the forest. For centuries afterwards, the humans in this part of the world struggled to survive."
" Why did you not warn us about this place?" Edward asked hius eyes wide and concern etching lines on his face.
" I have never been here before. I did not know we were so far west of the forest. On my trips outside the Forest before this, I have always followed the foothills of the mountains before reaching the city on the Lake," Karlan replied.
" What now?" asked Tag looking at Edward.
" If we go back, it will put days on our journey," Edward replied, frowning at the wasteland. " I would go through this place but it has to be a joint decision."
Megor shifted nervously in his saddle. " You can't mean to lead us down there," he said, his voice shaking with apprehension. " See that green glowing fog. There is an evil emanation hidden in there which makes me nervous."
Karlan shook his head. " I have always paid attention to the feelings of my cousin when we have been on patrol together. If we go through there we will have to be on our guard."
Boric looked from one to the other but as there was no further comment, he said.  " If Edward wants to go that way, I will not stand in his way. Karlan, you lead, Edward and Megor will follow you, I will ride flank on them and Tag will bring up the rear. At any sign of trouble, we will group together and Karlan can find a defensible stopping place. Edward how are we to find the right direction in the fog?”
Edward addressed Megor. " Can you keep us pointing in the right direction? I think I could find the way but you are much better at it than me."
Megor was visibly shaking. " I really do not want to go down there but if you insist, I can keep us heading in the right direction."
" Maybe you should lead the way beside Karlan then," Boric remarked shaking his head but with determination. " Edward and I will look after the pack horses. Karlan, lead on."
They took up their positions and descended into the valley, their horses hooves clicking over the bare rock. All around them the rocks were a smooth shiny black as though they had been blasted by intense heat. There was no visible vegetation and no sign of life. 
The green mist got closer and seemed to glow more intensely as they approached. Then they were entering the mist and the whole world took on vague aspect. The rocks which had been black took on sickly greenish tinge and the sound of their horses echoed away into the distance. Under their riders, the horses shivered, as though fearing what was near by. They closed ranks until they were almost touching. 
Megor led the way confidently but Karlan glanced nervously around and Tag, fighting his horse, dropped back every so often to make sure they were not followed. They had been progressing like this for about an hour as far as Edward could make out when Boric called a halt.
They dismounted to rest the horses and ate a cold snack. Megor stood on the edge of the group looking out into the mist before coming over to where Edward was sitting.
" There are creatures out there in the mist following us," he said. " Can you feel them?"
Edward looked off into the mist before replying. " Ever since we came into the mist I have had a feeling of being watched but whenever I think I am on the brink of seeing anything, there is nothing there. How do you feel?"
Megor grimaced. " I feel tired though it must be the tension. It feels as though something is trying to drain me of energy. What about you?"
Edward sighed. " I think it is the tension but, like you, I have this feeling that something is attempting to draw off my power. We will have to be careful. Keep an eye on Karlan while you are leading. I will do the same with the others."
Boric ordered them to remount and they set out in the direction indicated by Megor.
The attack came suddenly. Vague figures loomed out of the mist and charged. It was not a co-ordinated attack and the creatures did not seem to have a plan. Their weapons were primitive and no match for those carried by Tag and Karlan. It was a short fight and there were no injuries amongst the riders. Then the figures had melted back into the mist leaving their dead behind. On examining the bodies, they were creatures the like of which Edward had never seen before. Their flesh was covered in green scales. Some had pincers instead of hands, some had hunched backs and long arms. Some even had more than two arms and legs. Some were short, almost running on all fours but one dead body was almost half again as tall as Karlan.
" Mount up!" Boric ordered. " Let us get out of here. Megor which way?"
It was only then that they realised Megor was missing. Tag and Karlan moved off into the mist to search and after a while both returned.
" They went that way," Tag indicated. " I think they had Megor with them because there were the hoof marks of his horse partly rubbed out by their foot prints."
Boric looked at Edward. " What now?"
  " We follow as best we can." Edward said. " See what you can do between you. Don't ask me any questions but I am going to have to hide myself away in a shell. Megor told me he thought he was being drained and I have felt the same thing. I have a notion that what these creatures want is our magic. If I am right, they will try to herd us to the place where they have taken Megor so that they can get to me. If that is what happens, I will have to take steps to protect my magic. When we get to the place where they want us to be, I will think of a way to escape."
Boric started to protest but then appeared to change his mind in the face of Edward’s hardness. " Lets get going then."
They followed Tag into the mist. He rode watching the ground but soon shook his head. " On this rocky trail, there is not much sign of which way they went. I am afraid there is no way I can follow them."
Boric turned to Edward but he sat his horse as though in a trance, not acknowledging Boric at all. " Lets do what Edward suggested. Follow in this direction and see what happens."
They rode through the mist following what they hoped was the direction that Megor's captors had taken. After a while, figures loomed up ahead of them, too many for them to fight. Seeing these, Boric turned the party slightly away from the figures and they continued riding. Several times the figures loomed ahead of them and Boric turned away. It was obvious they were being herded in a direction which the figures wanted them to go. All the time Edward rode his horse in a trance and did not look around or say anything.
As they rode on, they were surrounded by more and more figures, their bodies obscured by the mist. Soon they came to the slope of what looked in the mist like a bowl. It was obvious by the way the figures blocked their retreat that they were expected to descend into the bowl. 
Boric led the way, followed by Karlan, Edward in his trance and Tag. The horses hooves clicked against the smooth rock as they slowly made their way down the slope to the floor of the bowl. None of the figures followed but lined the lip of the bowl under the cover of the mist. Ahead of them across the floor of the bowl they could quite plainly make out a rock face and as they drew nearer, the mist thinned and they were able to see quite clearly. 
The rock face had looked as though it had been shaped by hand into the form of a vast throne, the back and arms carved into the shapes of animals and monsters. Sitting on the throne was a tall, fat monster. He towered above their heads even though they were sitting on horses. His features were hidden by a vast, straggly green beard and his skin gave the appearance of being covered in green scales. In addition to his arms the creature had a number of tentacles with which he stroked a figure lying on a slab of rock in front of the throne. With a start, Karlan recognised his cousin and started forward only to be brought to a standstill abruptly as though he had run into a wall.
Boric and Karlan stopped by the slab, with Edward partly hidden behind and Tag anxiously looking round for an escape route to the rear. For a while, Boric and the creature on the throne sat regarding each other in silence.
At last Boric spoke. " What is the meaning of your bringing us here?"
The creature on the throne laughed, a booming guttural laugh which echoed off the sides of the bowl and seemed to fill all their minds. The other creatures lining the rim of the bowl took up the laugh and excitedly banged their limbs together.
When the creature  spoke, Boric was surprised to find he could understand. "Little man, it is for me to ask why you have invaded my lands."
Boric replied in a steady voice, which showed the years of military training he had endured which had taught him to stay calm in any situation. " We did not invade your lands. We were passing through on the way south when your creatures attacked us."
The creature sitting on the throne growled. " We did not attack you. You are needed by us in order that we maintain out life force."
Boric still sat calmly. " What does that mean?"
With an effort that brought a sigh, the creature heaved his body upright from its slumped position on the throne. " I do not have to answer your questions but I will try to explain before we proceed. We are the products of the great war between the elves. Their magic turned this place into a waste land and turned many of the elves and men into what you see here. We cannot leave this place, tied as we are to the great rock which has become our binding life giving power. The problem for us is that the power diminishes as time passes and in order to maintain our existence, the power has to be enhanced. To do this we have to feed off the life force of other creatures. Every time any other creature comes into our land, we have to drain them of their life force in order that we may live. It is prophesied by our lore masters that if we can get some of the magic from the outside, we might in  time be able to break the bonds that hold us to this area and go out into the rest of the world. Two of your companions have the magic. One we captured though his magic is of a lesser order from the other. He lies before you on this altar to the life force. The other you have with you though we cannot detect his magic anymore. What have you done to him?"
Boric did not look round at Edward but looked the creature right in the eye. " I know nothing of magic. I am a simple soldier of the Empire. I have not done anything to him as you put things."
The creature grunted. " We cannot read his signs like we could when he first came into our land. Something has been done to block his magic from us. It does not matter. We will find a way to get to his magic force."
Karlan spoke. " You will have to fight us first!"
Once more the creature laughed and the figures standing on the rim of the bowl in the mist once more clapped. " Little Elf, you do not have the strength to oppose me, Orlangy King of the changed people. I could crush you like that."
Karlan gasped as pain exploded in his mind and he struggled to hold his seat on the horse.
" You see, there is nothing you could do to stop me!"
  " What do you want from the rest of us?" Boric asked calmly.
" We will draw forth your life force to help with our magic," the creature replied bluntly. " There is little you can do to prevent us."
Boric smiled and drew his sword. " I am a soldier and I will not give up without a fight. I am trained to withstand mental torture. I will not stand idly by and see you kill my friend."
The mental assault on Boric was immense but he had stood in the doorway to Edward's room back at the Mansion and watched Edward resist the Covenent that night so long ago. Boric braced himself and started to sink deep within his being. He did not fight the pain but used it as he had been taught as a crutch on which to cling. The pain was immense but he remained upright on his horse, his face an expressionless mask but he could not prevent the sweet running down his face.
With a sigh which flew across the bowl like the rasp of a file over metal, the King let the force drop. Although his whole body cried out to collapse, Boric remained stiff backed and upright on his horse. A slight smile touched his lips and he continued to stare straight at the creature on the throne.
" You are stronger than I thought," the creature remarked.  "You must have hidden depths which we must explore."
" Boric, don't look round," Edward's voice echoed in Boric's head.
" About time you rejoined us," Boric sent his thought back. " I would not have been able to last out for much longer without your help.
" I am being as quick as I can," Edward mentally snapped back. " When I give the order, move your horse slightly to the right. Make it look as though the horse has shied."
" Karlan don't look round," Edward's voice echoed in Karlan's mind and Karlan had to make a great effort not to show any sign that something was happening. " When I give the order, move your horse to the left."
Boric continued to stare at the King. " How many of your people are you prepared to lose? We are a formable fighting force."
" I will protect my people from you," The King snarled back, his frustration at not being able to control Boric plain. " Enough of this. You will dismount from your horses and submit to me."
  " Now!" Edward's order echoed in Karlan and Boric's minds.
They instantly moved their horses sideways and felt the rush of air as something flew past their faces. They both heard a gasp and then a thunderous roar. Right in the centre of the Kings forehead was an arrow and then two more thudded into his chest. The force of the arrows hitting their targets smashed the King back against the rock face. At the same time two creatures tumbled down the slope of the bowl and rolled across the level floor towards Boric and Karlan.
" Right Tag, lead the way through the gap I have just opened for our escape. Boric watch my back. I will grab Megor from the slab and ride him out of here." Edward shouted above the keening of the dying King and the sobbing of the other creatures.
Tag reacted instantly like the trained soldier he was. Spurring his horse up the bank of the bowl, he shouted for Karlan to follow. Edward sprang forward leading his horses and snapped the bonds holding Megor to the slab. Lifting him in his arms, Edward flung Megor astride his horse and jumped into the saddle behind. Gripping tightly to  keep Megor upright in the saddle, Edward spurred his horse after Tag and Karlan. There was a sudden silence in the bowl as the King gasped his last breath and lay slumped against the rock wall and the creatures stopped their keening.
Tag and Karlan waited on the lip of the bowl for Edward and Boric to join them. The creatures had backed away but looked ready to charge as Boric joined Tag. Waving his arm, Tag led them away from the bowl and the dead King.
" Which way, Edward?" Tag asked as they plunged into the green mist.
" Slightly to your left," Edward shouted and they plunged off at a gallop.
It was scary that charge through the green mist. Edward kept his mind on the path they needed to take and directed Tag while holding on to Megor. Rock formations came at them out of the mist and they were soon dodging this way and that but in the general direction pointed out by Edward. At first there was no sign of pursuit but soon they could hear the clack of the creatures as they ran over the rocks and at times they appeared out of the mist to one side or the other. At a show of their weapons, Tag and Karlan made them disappear into the mist once more. They seem to have been running for hours not sure of their progress, when Tag warned them that they had to rest the horse.
Karlan found a defensible place for them to rest and Boric and Karlan  held off the few attacks which the creatures mounted. Edward gently lowered  Megor to the ground and wrapped him in a blanket. He was deathly cold. Tag looked after the horses.
After a particularly vicious attack, Tag said the horses were rested enough and they mounted before charging off once more into the mist. It was crazy but they plunged on, dodging rock formations, jumping cracks which suddenly appeared under the horses hooves and plunging into steep valleys. 
It seemed like hours again but then Edward thought the mist was thinning. In a few minutes they came out of the mist and raced across the last half mile of rock. Then there was green grass under their hooves and they were free.