Blizzplanet Review: The Traveller on the Road of Legends by Robert B. Marks
This is not a Blizzard-licensed product review, but for the sake of old-school Diablo fans who know Robert B. Marks (Garwulf’s Corner), you might want to read more of his works.
Recently, he informed me he would publish an eBook at the Kindle store. A story he wrote some time ago, but decided to publish it under his self-found Legacy Books Press, while awaiting the approval of some of his recent works.
Robert B. Marks, author of the first Diablo-themed eBook — Diablo: Demonsbane (2000), informed us he published today a short story titled: The Traveller on the Road of Legends.
It’s priced $3.99 for a short time on Kindle / Kindle PC app until August 1.
The story is based on magic, timetravel, humor, fantasy and real-life facts. Kind of a weird blend.
Delgar is a wanderer of the Great Road. A path that allows one to move from world to world, worlds of fantasy and knowledge found in the books of libraries.
Delgar of Mideorth has traveled through time and space to the 16th Century to seek a monk, Brother Edwin, of the Order of Bede the Venerable.
Edwin joined the Order basically to remember his wife through the safekeeping of books and stories in the monastery’s library and to pray for her soul.
One slowly learns Delgar’s intentions for seeking Edwin, and there’s definitely more than meets the eye about Delgar.
A terrible war is coming. One that will likely destroy the fabric of reality including the fantasy stories and the real world.
Delgar knows a lot about the Great Road, but in order to save all realities, he must first find a wise colleague who knows more about the Great Road– Daelyn, and needs the help of the monk.
With a bit of mistrust and incredulity, Edwin reluctantly accepts to help Delgar. While walking through a normal road, mists shrouded them and just like that Edwin learns this Great Road does exist.
After days of wandering through the Great Road between realities, they reach a forest. With awe, Edwin finds himself in the 12th Century in Ireland.
A story of dragons and immortals.
There are Films out there such as Sucker Punch that have great F/X, but lack a story, and a proper conclusion or goal.
There are fantasy films who deliver a great story of epic proportions. In all honesty, the elements surrounding the “The Traveller on the Road of Legends” have potential to deserve the film treatment. Personally, I wish this had been fleshed out into a full 300+ pages novel. There are some interesting elements here. Find out by reading it.
It is the Road of Legends, the Great Road, the road between worlds. Veiled in mist, it is a pathway where anything is possible, where heroes battle with dragons, and where immortals wander in their endless lives. It is where a traveller can journey into the very stories, myths, and legends themselves.
And, deep in the mists of the Great Road, a madman will stop at nothing to destroy every single one of them.
Robert B. Marks, the author of Diablo: Demonsbane, invites you to take your first steps onto the Road of Legends…
“We’ve all read fantasies about quests, and dragons, and annoying wizards. In which the fate of the world hangs in the balance. And here’s another one.
“But this one is intriguingly different. THE TRAVELER ON THE ROAD OF LEGENDS introduces a setting of infinite possibilities, characters we care about, and danger that must be fought right now. A great adventure.”
– Ed Greenwood
BYRHTNOTH STARED ACROSS the field, watching as the Vikings gathered on the other side of the bridge, their bright spears glittering in the sunlight. He then turned to his warriors, taking careful note of where they were standing. It wouldn’t do at all.
“You, get over there with your spear,” the nobleman commanded, pointing to one warrior. He turned to another. “You, cover him with your shield. We do not have time.”
Finally, after a good number of minutes, the ranks were trimmed to his liking. He just hoped they held against the raiders.
He looked around again. The Vikings had assembled in full on the other side of the land bridge, waiting eagerly for the tide to lower so that they could make battle. Byrhtnoth joined the warriors of his household, his ash spear ready in his hands.
One of the Vikings, a red-headed, bearded giant, stepped up to the shore, easily within the range of thrown spears. He cleared his throat and then pointed at Byrhtnoth with his spear.
“The bold sea-farers send me to you,” he declared, his voice echoing. “They command me to tell you that you may quickly send rings in order to gain protection; and it is better for you to buy off this battle and forge our peace than to join against us in battle. We need not destroy each other if you are prosperous enough – we are willing to confirm a peace with gold. If you decide on that, you will redeem the lives of your people! Give us money in exchange for peace, and we are willing to go back to our ships with the money, set out to sea, and keep peace with you.”
The ranks around Byrhtnoth muttered angrily, but the noble ignored them, quickly composing his reply to the Viking. Finally he spoke, shaking his shield and spear.
“Do you hear, sea-traveller, what this army says?” Byrhtnoth called. “They wish to give you tribute in spears – deadly spears and ancient swords! Viking messenger, return this message: tell your masters that here stands a noble earl with his army ready to defend his homeland, his king, and his people. You heathens will fall in battle!
Byrhtnoth took a deep breath. “It seems shameful to let you go to your ships with our treasure without a fight, after you have come so far into our homeland. Not so easily shall you gain treasure – sword and shield will decide this for us, before we give you tribute.”
The Viking nodded, and then turned back to his army. There was some activity in the Viking ranks, and finally they began to move forward, coming to the side of the riverbank where the tide had yet to fall.
“Advance!” Byrhtnoth called, waving his spear towards the Vikings. For a moment he thought he saw the glint of metal on one of the hilltops nearby, but dismissed it. Even if somebody was coming with a sword, they couldn’t do anything to his army at that range.
The two armies advanced towards each other, the Vikings striking their spears, axes and swords against their shields. A couple of arrows flew from both ranks, and one or two warriors fell in pain, the deadly shafts lodged in their bodies. But the armies couldn’t engage each other properly, for the tide was still in, and the bridge was still covered with water.
Byrhtnoth heard a hissing sound, and the world exploded behind him. The blast blew him to the ground, and all around him he could hear warriors screaming their death-cries.
“What in the name of God?” he said, watching as an explosion blossomed in the Viking ranks, an almost beautiful fire of death bringing warriors down everywhere. He heard another hissing sound, but then his world went dark and he heard nothing more.
In the distance, one figure watched another. The first put his strange fire-breathing cylinder back into his backpack. He was dressed in a long green coat, but he was too far away to make out a face.
The other figure was a man of medium height, with a greying goatee, long hair, and haunted eyes. He was dressed in a grey cloak, covering long red robes. He watched the first figure carefully, keeping behind a rock so that he wouldn’t be seen.
The green-coated figure slung his backpack across his shoulder and began to make his way down the hill, walking towards the carnage he had caused. When he finally got there, all that was left was burnt and mutilated bodies; those who had survived had fled the field almost as soon as the explosions had started. The figure looked at his handiwork, nodded his head in satisfaction, and began to make his way down the road.
The cloaked man watched carefully as the figure walked along the road, taking careful note of which direction he was taking. Finally the figure seemed to disappear into a strange mist.
The cloaked man stood up and began to follow.
Chapter I: A Meeting at an Inn
THE MONK LOOKED around the establishment with disdain. It was not the worst he had seen; he was on a research assignment for his order, and in his travels he had seen far worse, but it was still not something he terribly cared for.
Still, his mind continued to return to the thought of Jaynice’s death. Yet another of his friends had left the world, and while he had not been as close to his sister-in-law as he would have liked, he still felt pain at her passing. He had to face it – he was getting old.
“Would you like a room or not?” the innkeeper asked, interrupting the monk’s thoughts.
The monk shook his head. “Oh, yes. Please excuse me. I’ve had a great deal on my mind lately.”
“The room will be a half-penny,” the innkeeper said. “Care to talk about it?”
“No, not really,” the monk said. “I lost a dear friend recently, and she is still on my mind.”
“One of those monks, eh?” the innkeeper sneered.
“She was just a friend,” the monk said.
“Of course,” the innkeeper said, but the monk didn’t think he sounded terribly convinced. “I need your name for the register.”
“Brother Edwin,” the monk said.
The innkeeper grinned as he wrote the name down. “Don’t have too much fun with the wenches while you’re here.”
Edwin really didn’t like these types of places. He handed two quarter-pennies to the innkeeper, collecting a key for his trouble. As he headed for his room, he could hear the innkeeper snickering.
Suddenly, he turned. For a minute, he had thought he was being watched from a corner, but all that was there was a middle aged man nursing a beer, and he seemed quite intent on his drink.
The monk sighed softly. It was probably his imagination. He was getting a bit too old for all this travelling, after all. He walked up the rest of the steps until he came to his room.
The room did not impress him any more than the innkeeper had. The bed looked worn, the window was stuck open, and the furniture was in sore need of replacement. He closed the door, noting how much it creaked, and then locked it. Then he lay down on the bed, which also creaked, and stared up at the ceiling.
Well, tomorrow he’d be at the monastery, and he would have a proper cell then. He just hoped the Abbot was still the man he had known for so long. On those thoughts, he finally began to fall asleep.
Edwin stood on a great precipice, looking down at all the myths he had studied for so long. Sigurd dragon-slayer looked up at him, waving his magical sword, but the sword was dull for some reason.
He felt a presence behind him and turned. The Dragon stared at him, but the beast looked old and decrepit rather than terrifying and magnificent. The wyrm stared at him with sad, pleading eyes, yet did not speak.
He turned again to look into the thin canyon. The heroes of myth and legend lay down in the crevice, moaning in pain. They were surrounded by a great fire, which spread around them and consumed them.
He turned again, only to see the fire right behind him. He backed as far towards the crevice as he could, but the fire kept on coming. Inside he could see horrible faces, laughing evilly. He took another step back and lost his footing, falling into the canyon. As he fell he screamed, praying that the fire wouldn’t consume him –
He sat bolt upright, the bed creaking underneath him. His under-robes were soaked in a cold sweat, and as he ran his hand through his white hair he could feel his sweaty scalp.
“I am hoping you are the man I seek,” a voice said from the darkness. Edwin looked around in shock – the creaking of the door should have woken him if anybody was going to break in. He squinted, hoping to make out some of the features of the man in his room.
“What are you doing in my room?” Edwin demanded.
“Sitting on a chair,” came the reply. “Are you an expert in mythology?”
“I have some small knowledge,” the monk said. “Who are you?”
“My name is Delgar of Mideorth,” the man said. “What is the name of your order?”
“I am a brother of the Order of Bede the Venerable,” the monk said. “And I will not tell you another thing until you tell me why you are here.”
In the darkness, the monk thought he could make out a smile.
“It would be easier just to show you. I need your help, if you are the monk I seek.”
“Well, I am a student of myths and legends, if that is what you seek,” the monk stated. “But I would like to know what you are doing in my room.”
There was a moment of silence.
“There are many things that change in the world,” the man in the chair finally said. “Some things shouldn’t. I need to stop a change, but I need help to do it. Will you help me?”
Edwin blinked. “Not until I know what is going on.”
“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you,” Delgar muttered. “How about this – would you agree with the statement that everything that is created exists?”
Edwin thought for a moment. “Provisionally. Obviously, if I created in my mind a five headed monster, it would be imaginary and only exist there.”
“But there you are wrong,” Delgar said. “If you create it, it does exist, somewhere. I know this is a leap of faith, but all of these creations are in jeopardy. That is why I need your help – you are an expert in these things. You know them better than anybody else. I need your help now.”
“I don’t understand,” the monk said. “How can something that is created by thought alone come into jeopardy? Why would you need my help?”
“I know the Road, but not all the stories,” Delgar replied. “And anything can be destroyed. Any legend is spread by those who survive the events that inspire them. But what happens if both sides are completely destroyed at the event itself?”
“Then nobody survives to tell about it, and the story is forgotten.”
Delgar smiled. “Exactly. And all of these great stories and heroes are in danger of being forgotten.”
The monk squinted at Delgar. “Are you telling me that somebody is trying to destroy myths by killing the survivors?”
“That is the size of it.”
“I don’t believe you,” Edwin said. “Do you have any proof?”
“Do you remember the battle at Maldon?” Delgar asked. “A great, epic story of a final battle against great odds?”
“Of course I do,” Edwin replied. “It…” He frowned. What should have been clear to his memory had clouded over completely. It couldn’t be old age – Edwin was certainly getting on in years, and he had also become a bit portly in his latter days, but he was not senile by any stretch of the imagination.
“Now will you help me?” Delgar said. “At the least, will you tell me your name?”
“Yes,” the monk said. “I am Brother Edwin, and I will help you. But how will we get to these…places?”
“There is a road,” Delgar explained. “A road between the worlds. It can only be travelled by those who know it exists. It is called the Road of Legends.” Delgar smiled. “It is also called the Great Road. Another leap of faith for you, I guess.”
“What happens to those that stray onto it?” Edwin asked.
“They can’t,” Delgar answered. “How can anybody ever truly go somewhere they don’t believe in?”
Edwin and Delgar set out in the early morning with the sun at their backs, Delgar leading the old monk kindly down a worn path. All around them the forest loomed, and the air was filled with the sounds of birds and other woodland creatures, but the path remained well cared for.
Edwin smoothed out his monk’s habit and glanced at Delgar. When he thought about it, Delgar looked like a very old man in a younger man’s body. Any time they locked gazes, Delgar’s haunted, piercing eyes seemed to see right through Edwin, and his greying goatee only increased the impression. Otherwise, he seemed to be a very ordinary traveller, his clothing covered by a grey hooded cloak.
“If this is this mystical Road of yours, it is rather well travelled,” Edwin said. “Not overgrown at all, and leading right into the next town.”
“The Road is on this path, but it isn’t the path,” Delgar said. “You’ll understand more once we actually get there. The only thing you must remember is to always believe in it. Otherwise, you’ll be left behind.”
“And who is trying to destroy these legends?” Edwin pressed. “Doesn’t it seem rather pointless to destroy stories?”
“I don’t know exactly who is doing this,” Delgar replied. “But perhaps Daelyn does. He travels the road far more often than I do.”
“Who is Daelyn?” Edwin asked.
“He is the grey wanderer,” Delgar answered. “The wanderer of myth. Sometimes called the ‘grey pilgrim’, but I don’t think the name suits him that well. He just wanders.”
“Have I ever met him before?” Edwin wondered.
“You might have. At the least you should have heard about him in your myths and legends. He shows up in one form or another in many of them.”
“And what do they call you?” Edwin asked, a slight smile on his face.
“They call me Delgar.”
“Not terribly romantic.”
“Names aren’t always supposed to be.”
Edwin looked around, stopping for a minute. As he turned his head, he found himself surrounded in a thick mist which obscured all of the surroundings. He could barely make out Delgar stopping in front of him and turning back.
There was complete silence.
“Why have you stopped?” Delgar asked.
“Something’s wrong,” Edwin said. “Listen.”
“We’re on the Road now,” Delgar said. “We are between worlds – the only things I have heard of which travel here are other travellers and…things.”
Edwin looked around nervously. “What sort of ‘things’?”
Delgar shrugged. “They’re just rumors, actually. I’ve never personally run into any of them, nor has Daelyn. But, those who travel the Road sometimes say that occasionally a traveller doesn’t return. Perhaps there are monsters preying on the unweary. But, as of yet, I haven’t seen any of them.”
“But if everything we imagine exists,” Edwin began.
Delgar smiled. “Then anything is possible. But it is a large road. I don’t think that if there were monsters on it, they would be attacking us.”
Edwin began to stride forward. “We should be moving then.”
Delgar nodded. “Follow me.”
They walked for what seemed like hours to Edwin, but Delgar kept up the pace, occasionally checking back to see if the monk was behind him.
Finally, Edwin stopped again. “How much farther is it?” he asked, peering through the mist.
“Not very,” Delgar replied. “We’re almost there. Just another couple of hours, I would think.”
“How long have we been travelling?” Edwin said.
“Days, I think,” Delgar replied. “Time doesn’t really have any meaning here.”
“Time always has meaning,” Edwin said. “The Order of Bede the Venerable is an order of historians, and all of us know how history works.”
Delgar smiled. “You’ll find that your theories don’t help you very much here. But if you want to get off the Great Road, we should keep moving.”
Edwin nodded, and began to trudge forward again, following Delgar. He wished for a moment that he could simply step into the comfort of his cloister library and lose himself in his books. He could just imagine Father Abbot bringing him a freshly copied history of King Arthur to look over before midday prayers.
Finally, to Edwin’s relief, the mist began to clear, revealing a lush and beautiful forest around them. The trees were alive with birds and small animals, and what had been a worn path had become a grassy way through the trees.
“Oh my,” Edwin said, looking around at the tall trees. It was as though mankind had never touched this place, and nature had been allowed to continue on its own, unabated.
Delgar smiled. “Much nicer than fifteenth century Saxony, don’t you think?”
“Very much so,” Edwin confessed. “But where are we?”
Delgar smiled. “Welcome to Ireland, the home of the Tuatha de Danaan. I think we are a good three thousand years before your time.”