Radella Queens Paladin
Knight Out of Time
Chapter 3 Salvation
There is no hope? Edlyn, Queen of Midkingdom asked.
Archbishop Dunstan shook his head. Not in this time, my queen. Radella gave her life and soul to save Midkingdom. It is something that we cannot change.
You said not in this time, Edlyn persisted. Explain.
The place of the standing stones; the place where Radella gave herself to the demon king, is ancient beyond the time of man. It was created when the one true God shared the world with others as great as he. There will come a time, when the seven planets align. When such an event occurs the gate to Hell will open and allow the righteous to escape.
Then Radella will be saved, Edlyn said.
She will, Dunstan replied, if she has not surrendered her soul, and if there are others there to perform the proper ritual.
But that may be far into the future, Edlyn objected. There may be no one who knows of her.
That is true, the Archbishop agreed, but there is one chance.
What is it? Edlyn asked. State the conditions and I will see that it is done.
There is an ancient spell that if spoken correctly will substitute for the ritual. But it must be spoken exactly as it is written; otherwise the portal will not open and there will be no chance of escape for those trapped within the demon world.
Then we will create the chance, replied Edlyn. From this year on I will see that the ritual is performed every year at the appropriate time and place. It will become part of the traditions of the kingdom. I leave it to you to arrange this Dunstan. See that it is done.
Dunstan bowed. As your majesty wishes. He turned and left the room.
Edlyn looked after him and then turned to
Wiping sweat from her brow, twenty-three-year-old Sarina Andrews, turned to her friend and colleague. She grinned. This is damned hard work. You always do this much digging?
Paula Jackson grinned back. Why do you think it is called a dig? Stop complaining and keep on working that shovel.
Im not complaining, said Sarina. But I didnt expect wed have to dig a hole to find an ancient temple on top of a hill.
Well, Paula replied. That is because the top of the hill slid down several hundred years ago and buried whatever is here. This area was once a flat ledge overlooking the river.
Not much of a river either, Sarina said.
Its damned now, Paula explained. Times change. There was once quite a bit of water in the pool below us as you can see from the depth of the basin.
Sorry I cant see, Sarina said, drawing her arm across her forehead. Im standing in a hole.
Its not much farther now, Paula replied. Were almost at the right depth.
What do you expect to find again? asked Sarina.
A large standing stone. Actually two of them, with a large stone lintel on top. Of course, the slide may have knocked the stones over. If that is so we may have to dig deeper to find them.
And you know they are here, how?
Dumb luck. I was checking some old church records and came across a sixth century drawing of them. Someone had stuck it in among the pile of church documents centuries ago and it just stayed there until I found it.
So if you find this youre going to be famous?
Hardly, Paula laughed. It s not really a major discovery, just something I could work on by myself. Anyway, it is damned nice of you to come all the way from New Gotham to spend your vacation with me.
Think nothing of it, Sarina said, as she tossed another shovelful of earth from the pit. Digging holes is something Ive always wanted to do.
Whoa! exclaimed Paula. I think weve found something. She was brushing earth off a chunk of stone at her feet.
What is it?
Im not sure. Lets dig around the edge and see if we can expose a bit more of it.
The two young women increased their efforts. Fifteen minutes later they had exposed a large flat piece of stone.
Looks like an altar, Paula said.
With writing on it. Can you read it?
Paula shook her head. Looks like ancient runes of some sort. Ive got a book in the hotel room that might help me translate. Lets clear a bit more of this off and call it a day. Then well come back tomorrow and see if I can figure it out.
I think Ive got it all, Paula said. Let me just read it over.
Sarina waited impatiently. They had returned to the dig early in the morning and spent another three hours moving earth and stone. Then Paula had taken pencil and paper and begun to copy the lettering in the stone, referring frequently to her book to check he interpretation. Finally she was finished. Sarina waited impatiently.
It seems to be some sort of prayer or ritualistic saying, Paula said. This is what I think it means. She began to read.
By the Lord God, and the power of love,
Free our sister from the fires of Hell,
Bring her to the light and air,
When the time for the freeing of souls,
Brings the seven planets into line.
Interesting piece of verse, Sarina said. I wonder what it
Beneath her feet, the earth shuddered. Their eyes wide, both young women clambered for the top of the excavation and stood looking in wonder as the earth around the altar began to glow strangely. Suddenly there was a flash of light so intense that both women three up their hands and staggered back from the hole.
means, said Sarina, finishing her sentence.
Radella was hoarse from screaming. This had been a particularly long session. Balsar was ripping her apart, his barbed phallus tearing out her inside. Your soul, the demon king roared, his voice like thunder. Give me your soul.
It was not an unusual demand. Balsar made it every time he saw her. She had no idea of how many times that was, but it had to be in the thousands. Perhaps millions. She was pregnant again and her breasts, heavy with milk, bounced violently as he violated her.
She shrieked again as Balsar squeezed both her breasts, sending streams of milk into his gaping maw. I will have you body and soul, paladin. You are mine until the end of time.
Eeeeeeegghh! Radellas high pitched shriek bounced around the cavern as Balsars forked tail entered her anus. It was a pain so intense she would not have believed it possible. But she would not beg for mercy. That didnt work anyway. It just gave Balsar more pleasure and renewed his demands that she surrender her soul.
It was the one thing she would not do. She had debased herself in every other way, but retaining her soul was the only hope she had of ever escaping Balsars grasp, slim as that might be.
Suddenly a brutal convulsion racked her body. A pain even greater than what she had already experienced tore through her. Her womb contracted. Balsars brutal assault had resulted in the premature onset of labour.
Balsar ripped himself out of her and watched her give birth. Despite the fact that the demon child was only half formed she could barely contain a wave of revulsion as he consumed the shrieking infant.
Stubborn fool, Balsar screamed, wiping the blood from his lips. You could be spared all of this, if you would but consent to be my queen.
Radella did not reply. Already Balsars magic had restored her body. Gathering around her were a dozen demons ready to have their way with her. She hung her head and waited. How long would she have to endure such torment? Was she doomed to suffer for eternity as Balsar claimed? She had given herself to save her queen and her kingdom. Was this everlasting torture to be her reward?
A strange sound from Balsar made her look up. The demon king was gazing at the roof of the cavern in obvious surprise. Radella followed his gaze. Far about her a tiny pinpoint of light gleamed out of the darkness. As she watched it grew in size and intensity eventually becoming a blazing beacon that illuminated most of the cavern.
The portal, Balsar exclaimed. It opens!
The light streaked toward the floor of the cavern, but it did not strike Balsar or any of the other assembled demons, instead it swept over Radella, enfolding her in a blaze of white fire.
Radella felt no pain, but rather an incredible sense of well-being. It was as if all of the horror and agony that she had experienced was being drawn out of her, the way a splinter is pulled from an angry wound, and then she was absorbed into the light.
Balsar raged in astonishment as Radella suddenly seemed to evaporate. He lunged toward the light, but it disappeared with the speed of thought, leaving the demon king seething impotently in the fire lit darkness of his domain.
Sarina and Paula stared in wild-eyed astonishment as a light brighter than the sun flared in the excavation they had dug. And then it was gone, but in its place was something stranger still. Lying peacefully on top of the altar was the body of an armored warrior.
Sabrina stared unbelieving. A miracle, she gasped.
Paulas reaction was a little different. What the hell is going on? Where did that thing come from?
Sarina did not answer she was already scrambling into the excavation. The figure on the altar was clad in silver armour, its face three quarters covered by the conical helmet. The arms were crossed over the chest, the fingers clasped about the hilt of a gleaming sword.
She could see the steady rise and fall of the figures chest and then suddenly realized she was probably looking at a woman. She stopped beside her and waited until Paula joined her.
What is it and how did it get here? Paula said scrambling down into the pit.
She, corrected Sabrina. Its a she, not an it. And a fairly attractive she unless I miss my guess. The curve of the womans lips could be seen where the face was visible.
Paula looked too. Ive heard of Sleeping Beauty, she commented, but this is ridiculous. Where did she come from?
It was the verse, Sarina said. The one you read. It was some sort of spell.
Balls, Paula replied. Are you trying to tell me that this is Snow White?
I think you got it right when you said Sleeping Beauty, Sarina replied. Up close the figure was unmistakably female even under the chain link armour.
Perhaps we should take off her helmet, Sarina said. She seems to be unconscious. Maybe she is hurt.
Paula nodded. I dont think we can just leave her here. I mean this is really strange. Shes dressed like a knight from the eleventh century. But that is ridiculous. She cant possibly have come from the past.
What about a dimensional portal? persisted Sarina. Couldnt that explain where she came from?
Youve been reading too many comic books, Paula replied. But she was completely baffled. There had been a blinding white light and the female warrior had suddenly appeared. None of this made any sense. Surely Sarinas ridiculous theory could not be right.
Sarina pulled her helmet from the womans head. Allowing a wealth of raven hair to tumble loose. Without the nose and cheek guards both women could now see how stunningly beautiful the woman was.
The woman stirred. Sarina's touch seemed to have awakened her.
Radella opened her eyes. For the first time in centuries she felt the warmth of the sun on her face and the cool flow of air over her body. Someone was standing over her; she turned her head in their direction.
Her eyes dilated in confusion. What she saw at first frightened, and then bewildered her. The face she looked into was unlike anyone she had ever seen before. Jet black, shoulder-length hair framed a chestnut brown face, with dark eyes, a prominent nose and full dark lips. The face was actually rather pretty. It was the dark complexion that startled her. She had only seen such skin colour in the demon hell.
Who are you? she asked, her heart racing.
Shes talking, Sarina exclaimed as if speaking of a young child. Did you understand her?
Not a word, Paula replied, moving closer to the dark-haired beauty, who was now trying to sit up.
Radella pushed herself to a sitting position. Her hand closing over her sword. She could see the second woman now. She seemed about the same age as the first, but contrasted sharply in appearance, being fair-skinned and red-haired. She realized that somehow these two women must have found a way to rescue her from the demon hell, but how they had done it and who they were she had no idea. They were speaking a language that was completely incomprehensible to her. She also noticed that they were eyeing her sword with obvious disquiet
I am sworn to defend the weak, she said. I would never harm you.
The two women looked at her uncomprehending. It was clear that they understood nothing of what she had said.
The dark-skinned girl said something to the redhead and then returning her eyes to Radella tapped her chest. Sarina, she said. Sarina. She spoke very slowly as if speaking to an idiot.
Perhaps that is the way I appear, thought Radella. I may appear as strange to them as they are to me. And the women were dressed most oddly, wearing garments that seemed more appropriate for men than women. In addition, the clothing they wore was of a type of cloth that she did not recognize. It seemed to be neither wool nor cotton, although it resembled the latter most strongly.
The dark-skinned girl was looking at her expectantly. Radella sat up straight and tapped the place between her breasts. I am Radella of the Riverlands, she said, naming her familys traditional holding; Queens Champion.
The looks she got from the two women again showed that they had understood none of her words. She tapped her chest again. Radella, she said.
The redhead stepped forward with a smile. Paula.
Radella returned the smile. Well, that was a start. At least they now had names. It was time find her way back to the castle of the queen. She slid down from the altar, recognizing it as the place where Balsar had dragged her into the underworld. But it was considerably changed, being at the bottom of a deep hole.
Regaining her feet, she found that she could stand easily. Except for memories or her ordeal, she seemed completely unharmed, and even the memories of what had been done to her were fading. That seemed strange considering the horrors she had been through.
Sarina stepped forward to help the statuesque woman. Although Radella, as she called herself, seemed quite able to stand on her own, her confusion was obvious. Taking her by the arm she led her up the slope of the excavation.
Radella made no effort to pull away. After what she had been through she was far from sure of herself. Who were the two strange women who had welcomed her from the underworld? Why had no members of Queen Edlyns court been present to welcome her? Why was the sacred altar now at the bottom of a hole?
She emerged from the pit recognizing the ledge where the giant standing stones had been. They were gone, probably buried under the pile of rock that had slipped from the cliff face. Her eyes immediately swept over the valley to the castle of the queen.
Her knees buckled and she almost fell. The castle was gone. The hill where it had once stood occupied instead by a collection of strange looking buildings. At her elbow, the dark-skinned girl helped her stand.
I think we better get her to a hospital, Sarina said. She seems very unsteady.
Paula agreed. Together they guided the faltering and mysterious woman to the top of the bluff overlooking the river.
Radella would remember the next few days for the rest of her life. They were filled with both wonder and terror. First there was the frightening ride in a wagon resembling a metal and glass box. Incredibly, and most unnervingly from Radellas point of view, it growled like a beast and moved without the aid of horses. It had been all she could do to remain in the vehicle when it began to move, but having seated herself next the dark-skinned girl, she was unable to figure out how to open the door and so she had sat petrified while the demon-like vehicle had hurtled down roads constructed of a gleaming black substance. She had relaxed somewhat when she had seen other vehicles similar to the one she was in. Apparently this seemed to be a common form of travel in the strange world to which she had been transported. She realized now that although she had been saved from the demon hell she had not been returned to her own world, but instead had been conveyed to some alternate existence that resembled the Midkingdom she had once known but which was dramatically different in many ways.
Next there was the time spent in the strange building full of people wearing white and green clothing. It took her awhile to understand that it was a place of healing and longer still to understand that she had been brought there because the two women she had first encountered thought her ill. And then there was the confrontation over her weapons and armour. Had it not been for the dark-skinned girl, Radella was sure that she would have been thrown into the deepest dungeon. She had since learned that this country had no dungeons; a fact that she only half believed. There had to be a place to put those who challenged the queens authority until they could be properly executed.
And then there were all the wonders of her new world. Lights that burned without flame, rooms that moved from one level of a building to another, rooms that maintained a constant temperature day and night, and many more. It had been overwhelmingly bewildering at first and would have been much worse if the two women who had discovered her had not adopted her. It was they who helped her learn the language of the inhabitants of this new world. It was only then that she learned the truth about herself.
A thousand years, Radella thought. I suffered in hell for a thousand years and emerged not a day older. I am not in another world, just in another time. It was a sobering concept. All that she had trained and sacrificed for was gone. All her friends, family, acquaintances, her queen, her kingdom lost in the mists of time. She was alone in a strange new world, barely able to speak the language and with few real friends. Had it not been for Sarina and Paula her adaptation would might have been impossible. Now she had a decision to make.
Sarina was returning to New Gotham, a great city across a great
sea. Paula was returning to her
studies. It had been decided
that Radella should visit New Gotham as Sarinas guest, provided she
wish to go. She had been assured
by Sarina that she would be most welcome and that she would not be out of
place in Sarinas homeland.
Somehow, Radella did not find that reassuring, but she was tired of being studied by every historian that heard about the strange woman who had somehow been transported from the Middle Ages to the modern world and so she agreed to go. Certainly New Gotham could not be any stranger than the country she was already in. And she wanted a fresh start and so she agreed to go.
By good fortune, Sarinas father was a person of some influence in the government of Sarinas country and was able to obtain papers that would allow Radella to travel with Sarina. Papers seemed important in this society. No one seemed to know who anyone was without them, and Radella had gotten used to the sight of Sarina constantly producing some document to identify herself wherever she went.
Now, Sarina explained. This is your passport. You will need this to get into the country. And this is your credit card. You use this to buy things. Dont worry about paying for anything, my father has agreed to pick up the tab until you get settled. Just dont go nuts.
Radella had no intention of going nuts. Sarinas language was sometimes a little hard to understand, as was Paulas. The two women constantly disagreed on pronunciation and on the meaning of certain words. It had made learning her new language more difficult. Fortunately, she found that there were a number of words that were very similar the language she already spoke, although many of them had changed somewhat in meaning and pronunciation. It speeded her entry into her new world. Now, all she had to do was find a way to completely fit in. Somehow she suspected that might be much more difficult than she thought.