Authors: The Tower in the Mist
Tags: #Fantasy Fiction Historical Romance
The Tower in the Mist
By A.L. Jambor
Copyright @2013 Amy Jambor
Published by Woofie Publications
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Cover design by Amy Jambor
This book was originally entitled "Margaret's Choice." I wrote it as science fiction but discovered that it was really a love story between Margaret and the wizard, Geezer. I felt the story deserved a wider audience and decided to change the title so those who love romance would find the love story of Margaret and Geezer.
This edition contains the original manuscript, but I've changed the order of the chapters. I've moved the first two chapters, regarding where Margaret came from and why she had to leave her home planet of Pryll, to the back of the book. I wanted it to open with Margaret's diary. Those chapters are there for those who want to know more about her. For more information regarding Tresteria, please visit my website at www.aljambor.com.
October 3, 2215
My name is Margaret Hall. I’m the wife of Matt Hall, a Pryllian scientist. He brought me with him on an exploratory mission seeking a location for colonization. I’m a computer programmer.
Five days ago our camp was attacked and Matt was killed. I was in the field gathering plants. Our attackers didn’t see me.
I found this journal yesterday. Matt was supposed to be charting our progress, but I guess he never got around to it. I can tell you what I know. I’m not a scientist, and even though Matt shared what he knew with me, I only understood half of it. So, here goes.
Our home planet of Pryll is about a million miles away. It was a thriving planet until it began to degenerate about three hundred years ago. I lived in a pod most of my life so I don’t remember what it was like back when all that started, but I’ve read books about it. Lots of our popular fiction was written about the planet’s demise and what people did to survive. But what I learned in school is that once scientists knew Pryll was dying, they began to search for another planet we could move to.
Pryll is very much like Sunge, Earth, and Tresteria, but it’s the oldest of the four. That’s why we didn’t go to Sunge or Earth, because they were beginning to show signs of retrogression. Matt had a dream of changing a planet’s course so it wouldn’t die. He believed he could do that for Tresteria, which he estimated to be one thousand years younger than Earth.
Like I said before, we survived by living in pods. The atmosphere surrounding Pryll had become so inhospitable that we couldn’t walk outside without suiting up, so they just built these pods with filters for the air and water. They weren’t so bad, but I was a baby when I was brought to Pryll so I didn’t know any different. I didn’t know what it was like to look at a blue sky or breathe outside air.
I guess I should tell you why I was brought to Pryll. About a hundred and fifty years ago, people began to steal babies from Sunge. They did this because Pryllian women couldn’t get pregnant. The degenerative process caused mass infertility. Some scientist found Sunge, and transports were created so soldiers could go to Sunge and snatch babies from hospitals. My mother was of Sungian descent.
Anyway, once the Sungians came to Pryll, they, too, would become infertile. Once they realized Sunge was showing the early signs for retrogression, the Pryllians began to take children from Earth. I came from Earth.
Matt said he wanted to find a place where women would be able to have their own babies again. He hoped that by coming here, I would become fertile. Now that he’s gone…
Sorry, I had to stop. I can’t believe he’s gone. I can’t stop crying.
I went to the camp today. I forgot to write that I’m living in a cave I found in the woods near our camp. I managed to pull one of the cots here so I have a place to sleep. I’m going to try to bring a small table over so I have a place to write and eat. The bodies are still lying in the center of the camp.
I got the table. I waited until dark and went back to the camp. I made myself set the bodies on fire. No one would see the smoke at night.
It’s getting cold. I’ve begun to collect wood. This isn’t a big cave but it has a small opening toward the back, so it’s ventilated. I won’t suffocate if I make a fire in here. At least, I don’t think I will. I’m getting good at catching rabbits. I don’t really like rabbit meat, but it’s better than nothing.
I went to the computer hut today. I tried to contact Tresteria but then I saw the generators. The attackers destroyed them. I don’t look at the center of the camp.
I took what I could from the camp. Someone’s been looting it, but I found a cooking pot and coffee. I guess they didn’t know what that was.
Back to our history. About a hundred and fifty years ago, our men started dying. They would reach the age of thirty and begin to turn gray. By thirty-five, they were dead. A hundred years ago, the regression began to accelerate and the men would turn gray in their early twenties and die in their late twenties. Matt was twenty-four. He knew he had to find answers quickly.
Our leaders knew about Tresteria. They had talked about colonization for many years. Matt had studied the planet extensively. He knew every continent, country, etc. on Pryll. Matt’s love of geography was lost on me, but I’ve kept his notes. The fact that all four planets have the same continents, countries, and cities as Pryll fascinated him.
Matt chose to set up our camp in a clearing across the river from a small town called Esher. Some of the men went there to investigate. They found a man there who spoke English well. He must have been educated. He told them the year here is 915. I have no proof, but I have a feeling it was this man who reported us to our attackers.
I never saw our attackers. When I returned to camp, everyone was dead. I am very careful when I leave this cave because if they find me, they may do more to me than just kill me.
My cave is filled with the remnants of our expedition. I found enough warm clothes to keep me covered. The looters took the blankets.
I want to go into town. I’m sick of sitting in this cave and being afraid to show my face. I think I can pass for a man. Mother nature wasn’t generous when it came to my boobs, and my hips aren’t very wide. I don’t think my hair will matter. Did anyone cut their hair in the tenth century?
When our guys went out, they wore pants and left their shirts untucked. They said people wore tunics over their pants. I found a long sweatshirt in one of the huts. I’m unraveling the thread at the neck and detaching the hood. It reaches the middle of my thigh. Ron was a tall guy.
I had my first piece of bread since the camp was attacked. It was thick and hard, but at least it was different. The coffee is gone.
I haven’t written in here for a few days. My head has been pounding. I guess it’s caffeine withdrawal. I’m feeling better today. I forgot to write about my trip into town.
It’s not very big. Wooden huts with no windows for houses. I guess I thought they’d be made of stone. Dirt and mud were everywhere. I don’t think anyone noticed I was a woman. I had to sneak in.
I made my way through the woods and through the shallow end of the river. I came out of the woods behind the town. There was one large building in the middle of the town. Unlike the houses, it
made of stone. It looks like a small fortress. I think the local noble lives there.
The woman who gave me the bread was old. She didn’t have any teeth and said something about mine. I kept my mouth closed after that and decided I’d seen enough and got out of there. I don’t think anyone followed me.
This is the day we would have celebrated the dead. I never understood doing that before, but now I think of Matt and I’ve decided to celebrate him. I guess it’s really his life I’m celebrating.
Matt loved science. He told me he came from Earth. His parents had taken him from somewhere called Georgia. He really liked geography but got his Ph.D in atmospheric decrepitude.
He has always been partial to England. That’s why we came to Tresteria’s England. I argued for an island, or somewhere warm, but he said they wouldn’t be the same in the tenth century. This place is so cold and rainy. I keep a fire going all the time and have to keep wood inside drying out. And leaves.
He brought old books from the university library about British warfare, weapons, monarchy, and lifestyles. I found a couple of his books in the ruins of our camp and I’ve been reading them. I keep thinking about that stone building in Esher. The noble must have sent soldiers to the camp. He wouldn’t have liked finding us on his land. If they find me, they
I went to town again. I know it’s dangerous, but I need to hear human voices. The loneliness is getting to me. I used to spend so much time on the computer and I rarely spoke to Jim, the other computer guy. I’d give anything to talk to him now.
I can’t stop thinking about Matt. I still cry.
So much has happened.
I decided to explore the area north of here. I put on my “townie” clothes in case someone spotted me, and then I went through the woods following a path I thought would be parallel to the river.
It’s the first day it hasn’t rained. The sun was up. I felt good. The ground is covered in leaves and the trees are pretty bare so the woods were light. I could see ahead of me.
I came to a clearing and heard water so I followed the sound. I came to the river and right across from me was a cave with a bright light inside. The river is shallow there, but going across still meant getting my feet wet so I didn’t jump right in. What if it was a person with a lantern or a candle? Did I want to be seen?
My curiosity wouldn’t leave me alone so I stepped into the water. It was ice cold. I got across as quickly as I could. The river is full of rocks so it isn’t as hard to cross as it could be. The mouth of the cave was right in front of me. Then I noticed that someone
inside. I stepped to the side and peeked around the edge.
He was tall, taller than the men I’d seen in town. He wore a long robe with a hood, and I thought he was a monk. His hair was long and dark blond. There was something about him, something very peaceful that attracted me to him.
The light was coming from a hole in the bottom of the cave. It rose to the ceiling. The man kept looking at it as if something were going to happen. There was noise coming from the hole, too. It sounded like rushing air. I stood for a long time watching the man and then he suddenly jumped into the hole! I rushed forward to see where he had gone and saw nothing in that hole but the light. I ran back to the mouth of the cave and across the water. I looked back once before running home.
I couldn’t stop thinking about that man and the hole in the cave. I spent the rest of that day pacing
cave, trying to understand where he had gone. I’d read some fairy stories when I was young, and that hole had all the earmarks of a portal to another place. The question was, If the hole is a portal, where would it take you? Could I go to a modern place with running water and toilets?
I didn’t sleep well that night. I wanted to know what happened to that man. The next morning I donned my townie outfit and went back to the portal cave. The light was still shining, but the man wasn’t there. I went up to the hole and looked down. I couldn’t see anything but that light.
I wondered where the guy had come from. I left the cave and began walking along the river. I was quite a ways from my home cave now. Then I saw something rising over the trees. I had to cross the river again to reach it.
On the other side of the river, the woods obstructed my view. I headed into the woods and walked for a long while. Then, as I broke through the trees, I saw it through the mist- a beautiful tower set amid a garden of fantastic flowers. It also had a white picket fence bordering the woods. Note to self: See if any of Matt’s books mention white picket fences in the tenth century.