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 BOOK 3 - CHAP 1 - The Fall of Glory

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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 1 - The Fall of Glory   Mon May 04, 2009 3:44 am



As they made their way south, Basha could help but notice the droning sound of white water that was seemed to emanating from the west. At one point it became so loud that it is difficult to hear anything else and that's when he asked Elija about the noise of the rushing water.

Both Elija and Sam, were so used to traveling the sewers that they had plum forgot to mention the main drainage line of the system. "Oh, we's calls that the under-river, all the storm drains and sewers runs into it." Elija told him, then Sam piped up, "An carries everythin' out ta sea." The boys then hastened their pace, against Basha's better judgement to show him the 'drops-off', as they explained it, which lied at the center of the town.

The ingenuity of man, never ceased to amaze Basha. They stood a huge junction where many sewer lines met and at the center the boys stood at the edge of precipice, a massive hole which required him to turn up his lantern to see across. He could tell that it was a natural formation, but had been reinforced with brick and mortar to prevent collapse. Nearly all the sewer lines were angled to flow into the great well, and spill into what appeared to be a buried river that ran under Fort Glory and into the sea north of the town. The river was at least a ten meter drop, perhaps much more, he really couldn't tell in the darkness, but it was apparent that it ran under all the existing sewers, and those lines that were directly to the north and south, drained into it though storm drains or simple run-offs.

Sandy came up beside Elija and peered over the edge with a flabbergasted whistle, "Ain't never seen a well this big before!", he exclaimed.

Basha smiled at their innocence and observed how the two boys could pass for brothers and he imagined that in some other time, maybe they might even be his sons. Perhaps if he had never left his home land, they would be overlooking the turquoise ocean waters from lush green cliffs instead of staring into a black abyss of deluge beneath a town overrun with stinking Ta'kun.

The Captain then reluctantly urged everyone onward, down the south tunnel, but with every step he took, Basha could not suppress the despair he had so long repressed. He turned to Elija's mother, and the first time in while allowed himself to feel the anguish of his son's death. Knowing that ones son could die at any moment would tear the heart out of any parent's chest, and though she put on a brave face he could see the fear in her eyes, the fear for her son. 'This was not the way' he told himself and in that moment he swore he could hear his wife calling to him and he answered her, "He's not going to die."

Everyone looked to the Captain as his deep voice echoed through the chamber, then kneeling down beside Elija he placed his hands on his small shoulders and gently turned the boy toward him.

"Elija," He said, "I was wrong, this is not your fight. You have to get away from this place and live. Some say that to die a hero is more meaningful that a long, simple life, but you know what? That's a load of shit. If you have the choice between dying for a cause or tuck-tailing and living in peace, you choose the latter, and leave the dying for the old men.

"Now, I want you, Sam, Daisy and your Mum, to get the hell out of these sewers and head up the coast, and I don't want to hear any back talk. That's an order! You understand me!"

Basha then stood and pushed Elija toward Colleen and it was then that all them became aware of the familiar clicking sounds that reverberated throughout the small junction in which they had paused. Everyone, looked around them for the source of the sounds, their eyes wide with fear and anticipation of a Ta'kun attack, but not Basha. Somehow he knew they were coming and was trying to ensure that Mrs. Smith and the children were able to escape before the inevitable.

The Captain gestured to an eastward passage. "Go!" He commanded, as he drew his short swords, one of them the craftsmanship of the woman smith.

The 'Long Spears' swept into the chamber from the north and these were far more formidable in appearance than the average Lesser Ta'kun. Basha had seen 'Scavs' like them before and knew that the odds were not in their favour. They all wore fine black armour, along their elongated torsos that would repel all but the most lethal of strikes and they each held the same stance, which was a trademark of their fighting style.

Basha turned one last time to Colleen to discourage any change of mind. "If you believe you have fought these creatures before, think again. These Ta'kun are well trained warriors and no amount of luck will save you from the end of their spears." Then he attacked the leader of the Long Spears wounding her in order to draw their fury upon them. Then he and his men ran back the way they had come, back to the large chamber with the drainage well in an attempt to draw them away from Mrs. Smith and the children. Unfortunately a few remained behind to finish off the little ones and their female protector.

In the large chamber where the many tunnels converged round the great well, the faster Ta'kun over took the soldiers and surrounded them. The men stood their ground and knew this was where they make their stand. They out numbered ten to one, and none of them had any illusions about surviving this battle, they only hoped the others would be luckier than them.

A Ta'kun hissed and motioned it's spear as if to throw it, only to be struck in the throat by one of Sandy Graves' arrows, then smoothly he notched another and struck another in vulnerable area as it began it's charge. Clubber readied his halberd and met the attack of two others, one leaping high and the other approaching low. The big man chose to parry high leaving his belly exposed to the other, but Basha stepped into the attack and severed the spear head from the shaft as it neared it's mark, then followed through and drove Colleen's blade through the black armour, into an area where it's heart must have been since the creature died almost instantaneously.

More Ta'kun descended upon them and Sandy was forced to withdraw down the tunnel in order to maintain the range for his bow, but more arrows were ricocheting off of the black armour than sticking into the bastards. Clubber swung his halberd like a great axe, severing limbs and crushing their small frames, but he was quickly overrun by the Ta'kun that expertly dodged his barbaric attacks. They leapt high, driving their spears into the large soldier but with surprising speed he rolled under them and away, directly into a hurled spear that struck him square in the chest, piercing his breast plate.

Clubber screamed in pain, then enraged tore the spear from his chest with one hand, and charged into awaiting Long Spears, who thrust their shields forward, forming a wall that drove back the berserker, knocking him to the ground. Basha, who was fending off several of the snake-like fiends could only watch as the Ta'kun pounced on Clubber and drove their spears into him over and over again.

The Long Spears then set their sights on Sandy and charged the bowman. One of the soldier's arrows ripped into a Ta'kun's thigh, causing it to topple to the ground, and another arrow pierced the arm of a Scav, but didn't stop it's relentless charge. Sandy then had a choice to loose one last arrow then be mauled by the Ta'kun or flee. He could see his Captain, fighting for his life against insurmountable odds to make it to the tunnel and so Sandy aimed his last arrow and placed the arrow into they eye of a Ta'kun in close pursuit of Basha, allowing him to reach the sewer and sever the chain that released the iron sieve. The heavy iron grate slammed shut, crushing one of the Ta'kun as it attempted to beat the falling gate, nearly cutting the creature in half.

"Finish the mission!" Basha screamed as he turned once more into the fray.

Sandy ran back to the gate and readied his rifle in the hopes that he would be able to take out enough Ta'kun that his Captain could escape, but it was too late. Basha desperately parried the stabbing attacks, in an amazing display of coordination and skill, but even he could not fight against so many well trained fighters. A black spear head whistled threw the air, just missing Basha's head as he twisted to avoid the death blow, but he could not avoid the powerful kick that caught him in the chest hurling him into the air. He landed on his back and expertly rolled to his feet with his heels teetering at the edge of the well.

Prone to attack as Basha, fought to regain his balance, he readied himself for the thrusting spear about to strike his abdomen, but a shot rang out through the chamber and the Ta'kun's head blew apart, but not before the spear glanced of the Captain's hip, spinning him like a top. The sharp blade in his right hand came around and sunk deep into another Ta'kun and Basha held fast to prevent himself from tumbling into the abyss, but as the Scav slumped forward into him, a sharp stabbing pain radiated from his thigh.

Sandy reloaded his rifle as fast as he could, but there was not enough time to save his Captain. He could only watch as the monsters blotted out the crimson jacket from sight as they mercilessly drove their spears toward him, fighting over who would deliver the killing blow.

Basha could feel the grips on his swords weakening as the pain and blood loss from the many glancing blows that sliced through his flesh drained his strength away. His fight was all but spent and now all that he awaited was the final killing blow so that he might finally rest. The wind rushed through his hair and darkness enshrouded him; Basha was at peace. He longed to see his son and beautiful wife once again and walk the fields of his homeland with them, hand in hand.

"No!" Roared Sandy as his Captain was thrown into the dark well. The splash of his body hitting the water below, resonated through the chamber, followed by the triumphant screams of Long Spears, who then set their cold eyes upon the young soldier.

Tears in his eyes and rage in his heart, Sandy tore himself from the gate and ran down the sewer, swearing vengeance for the fall of Captain Basha Mandek.
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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 1 - The Fall of Glory   Mon May 04, 2009 8:19 am

"NO!!!" screamed Elija as he started to run forward towards Basha. Horror, anguish and tears etched on his face. He took three strides before he felt the strong grip of Colleens arms around his shoulder.
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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 1 - The Fall of Glory   Mon May 04, 2009 11:39 am



Colleen didn’t realize there was such an elaborate tunneling system that did nothing more but dump it’s contents, good and bad alike, into the waiting sea. Where she thought it went, she wasn’t sure, but for some reason, when she discovered it went into the sea, she felt very guilty. That guilt was short lived when she saw Basha take Elija by the shoulders and tell him to run. Wait. What? Why the sudden change in the Captain? What the hell was going on here?

Colleen stepped up to say something, but the look she got from Basha told her any words she would say to the contrary weren’t going to make a difference. Instead, she felt a cold grip of fear wrap around her heart and for a moment, she couldn’t even breathe. There was something about the way he looked at her and the way he spoke those words to Colleen that made her realize there was some sort of finality in them.

What ever words she or anyone else was about to say died in their throats when they heard the clicking, hissing and grunting sounds of the Ta’kun that were in the tunnels with them. Colleen let out a small yip of surprise when she saw the ominous forms of the black armored Ta’kun quickly fill up the area. That cold grip of fear ripped her heart out and she stood there, fear rooting her to the spot where she stood.

“Limey….”

The small voice that spoke that word drew her from her fear and she quickly heeded Basha’s warning to get away from this place as fast as they could. They were out numbered and there was no way these street wise children could hold their own against these larger lizard warriors. It was impossible. These larger, armored lizards would slaughter them in no time.

As Basha and his men engaged the Ta’kun and ran back in the direction they had all just ventured from, Colleen knew she had precious little time to get the children out of this place and to some sort of safer ground. As Elija yelled and tried to follow The Captain and his men, she quickly reached out and grabbed him in a death like grip.

The Ta’kun were smart creatures and as the mass followed Basha and the soldiers, a few stayed behind where Colleen and the children remained. Her eyes darted from one of the larger Takun to the next. Their spears looking as ominous as the rest of them. She quickly shoved Elija behind her and took a small step back herself. In her mind, all she could hear was Basha’s voice telling her to get the hell out of the sewers and head up the coast. In a breathless voice, she told the children what they should do.

“R-run……run fast….now….our fight is done here today. Run and live to fight another day. H-head for that under river…it’s the only hope we have of making it out of here.”

The Ta’kun tilted their heads that rested on their elongated necks trying to figure out what the human female was saying. It didn’t take them long to figure it out when one of the smaller kids turned and bolted down the tunnel, away from the intimidating lizards.

As the Ta’kun hissed loudly and raised its spear to throw at the woman and children, Colleen screamed at the top of her lungs and raised her sword in a berserk like attack. She had no intentions of attacking the creatures; she only hoped to disorient them.

“MUM! NO!”

Colleen barely heard Elija’s voice when she took a few steps towards the Ta’kun. All she heard was the blood rushing through her veins and causing a loud roar in her ears.

“OY! L…Let’s go…now! We gots no chance right now!”

Sam was tugging hard on Elija’s shirt and Daisey was trying her best no t to cry as she tugged at Sam’s coat. The other children were realizing the odds were stacked way against them and they all decided to take off running as well.

Colleen’s scream and sudden attack did work, for a short time. The Ta’kun didn’t know what to make of her, but when they saw the children running away behind her, they didn’t care. All they knew was that these humans were getting away and they weren’t about to let them.

Colleen, suddenly seeing the change in the Ta’kun, knew she had no choice left but to run as fast as she could and hope they could outrun the Ta’kun and better yet, outrun the spears. Of course the ladder wasn’t possible. As she took off running, two spears came whizzing past her head. She let out a cry of alarm and fear as she ducked her head to one side or the other. To her horror, though, one spear headed right for Cricket and the other one ricocheted off the tunnel wall and landed at Frankie’s feet.

Behind her Colleen could hear the hissing and clicking sounds of the Ta’Kun growing louder. She knew it was just a matter of minutes before they were upon her and killing her. If only they had one of those sticks of dynamite. They could detonate one of them. It would be dangerous, yes, but it would give them a chance of escape.

Even as she heard the roar of the water coming up fast, she could hear the Ta’kun even more. As the kids reached the under river and the water came rushing past, Colleen screamed at them, just as the sound of a shot rang out behind her.

“JUMP! JUMP!”

Just as Colleen reached the place she could jump into the swiftly moving water, she felt a painful tug on her hair. Screaming in pain, she was suddenly pulled backwards, lifting her off her feet and bringing stars to her vision. Instinct caused her to drop the sword she’d held onto all this time and the tunnel was suddenly filled with the clang of the dropped metal as she reached back with both hands to try and stop what ever was pulling her hair. To her horror she felt the smooth but scaly hide of a Ta’kun arm. Her eyes widened with fear and she began to kick and fight as best as she could to free herself from the hold the Ta’kun had on her.

As the Ta’kun painfully turned Colleen around to look at her, a cry from the others behind them rose up and in response, the Ta’kun that were trying to kill her and the children raised their voices to join their fellow warriors. The blood rushed from Colleen’s face as she realized what that cry must have meant for them. As the Ta’kun that had a hold on her hair, keeping her suspended off the ground by it, turned his attention to her once more, he suddenly let out a painful wail and dropped her like a lead balloon.

When Colleen hit the tunnel floor, she rolled as quickly as she could away from the Ta’kun. A glimmer of something caught her attention and she saw the sword she had dropped protruding from the Ta’kun’s foot, the tip of the blade holding the creature secure to the spot. Blinking, Colleen saw Elija giving the Ta’kun a hateful glare and shouting something at it, but she couldn’t hear what it was. As the stars cleared from her eyes and the roar faded in her ears, she scrambled to her feet as quickly as she could and yelled at Elija as she reached for him.

“JUMP ELIJA! JUMP!!!”

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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 1 - The Fall of Glory   Mon May 04, 2009 6:21 pm



Sam knelt down and pulled the spear from Cricket's shoulder, tossing it aside.



He and Shinner,



then helped Cricket to his feet and shoved him towards the well. A Ta'kun snapped at Sam's butt, taking a chunk from his already tattered coat tail and trousers. It then snapped at Cricktes hat, Cricket swatted the Ta'kun on the snout with the fist of his good arm and screamed "Ya leaves me 'at be, ya overgrown cameleon!"

Frankie



grabbed Daisey



and with Colleen clutching Elija's arm, they all seven jumped into the well. "Ya bloody bastards!" Elija yelled and Daisey screamed as they fell. Frankie yelled "Bloody 'elllllll!"




When they hit the water below, like so many stones thrown in a lake. They came up sputtering and failing, Sam clutching Cricket's collar, Cricket holding the brim of his top hat and Daisy hung tightly to Frankie's neck, as the curent swept them along, bobbing up and down like so many corks amongst various pieces of debris. The river carried the seven suviors thru the underground cavern towards a dimm light.
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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 1 - The Fall of Glory   Mon May 04, 2009 9:03 pm



There was no time to do anything for the collapsed Payden, who had taken the brunt of the corsairs’ fire, for his gesture towards the stern brought Gertrude and Curt’s attention to their would-be boarders: three vengeful buccaneers with jagged daggers clutched in their teeth.

Gertrude crouched in the recess before the cabin door, and though she thought she was probably terrified on some level, everything was moving slowly, like she was watching events unfold through the hazy windowpane of a dream. The hot energy of her magic still pulsed inside her, waiting for release, as if she hadn’t used it at all—she wasn’t entirely sure she had, but what else could explain the delicate tongues of flame lapping at the headsails of the Queen Lucia’s Revenge? And so she braced herself, back to the door, waiting for the first pirate to come near and take the brunt of the burning energy from her.

But there was no need for Gertrude to defend herself, for Curt immediately took the situation into hand. With an angry cry, he drew the sturdy rapier from his side, and the arc of the flickering blade caused the ropes binding the boom to snap. The wooden rod, sail gripped in the wind, swooped towards the stern and clobbered the head of the foremost pirate just as he hopped over the rail. His body went overboard like a sack of wet laundry. The whole event had the look of an accident, but Gertrude thought Curt had that kind of flair.



The other two pirates still clinging to the stern rail hesitated and Curt lurched towards them, brandishing his cold bright blade. “A pox on you, you worthless swine!”

The men pulled the knives from their teeth to defend themselves, but Curt did not attack them. Instead, the count’s face became possessed by a terrifying glare, the white showing around his eyes, his mouth contorted in a mirthless grin. “I curse you here and henceforth!” When he pronounced these words in low and deliberate tones, some chill and ominous power congealed in the air. The remnants of the mist lingering in the morning darkened like shreds of smoke, floating with the swirling images of doomsday skulls and resentful spirits with tattered mouths gaping in silent cries.

Curt pivoted with his sword at arm’s length, taking in not only the two paralyzed pirates on the stern rail, but those treading the waters, splashing towards the ropes and longboats. “You are all cursed—every man who trespasses here! Go now and never return, if you value your mortal soul!”

The magic that brushed against Gertrude’s heightened senses was familiar somehow, but different from anything she herself commanded. Her own power bucked and heaved inside her and her heart rabbited in terror of the unseen force, pounding against her ears. She clenched her eyes shut and clasped her hands as if in prayer, though her mind was a stunned blank without words to pray. What was happening?

The crew of the Queen Lucia’s Revenge caved away from the Sylph, faces gone white as bone. Their screams were spumes of madness and it seemed to Gertrude she had pressed her ear against the doorway to Hell. What torment they witnessed, she thanked God she was spared.

With all their breath and might, the corsairs swam and struggled towards their mother ship. Three of them cramped up during the long swim through the tomb-cold waters and drowned even as their fellows gasped and kicked past them, fleeing the terrible witchcraft, and the cursed castle on the cliffs.

When the sounds of their ragged flight began to diminish, Gertrude opened her eyes and saw Curt laughing at them, perched triumphant at the foot of the mast to avoid the wagging boom. “Curt!” she gasped. “What terrible power did you conjure?”

Curt’s amusement dissipated, and he cast a slow and sidelong look at her.

Her heart quailed. “Y-you’re a sorcerer?”

“If I have deceived you, I assure you, I have my reasons.” He gave a sly smile.

If her surprise wasn’t enough, with a stab of anxiety, she remembered Payden, who may well have been dead. “M-Mr. Raynsford,” she said in taught voice, picking up her skirts and teetering to the edge of the sloop where the longboat trailed beside them like a floating funeral pyre that had snuffed out, baring Payden’s bloodied form. “H-he…” She feared the worst.

“He’d better not be dead!” Curt said, in a tone that suggested, Or I’m going to be very put out!

As a half-stricken Gertrude looked on, Curt awkwardly hurled himself from the sloop into the slightly charred longboat. She kneaded her hands as she watched the count bend over Payden’s lifeless body, examining the wounds that still wept red. Something in the count’s posture reminded her of a vampire biding over his victim. “What can I do?” she implored.

“Stay there,” Curt commanded without looking up.

“Is he…?”

“He’s lost a lot of blood, but he’ll be fine,” Curt replied. He placed a hand over the worst of the two wounds, the one in Payden’s side, and narrowed his eyes. Under his focus, a black bead of shot bubbled out of the hole, and Payden fidgeted beneath the heavy blanket of his unconsciousness, as if in pain. With a grimace of distaste, Curt tossed the bloody ball of shot into the bay. He then pressed his hand against the seeping hole, brow bent in concentration, and when he lifted it away again, the wound had closed and there remained only an angry pink blotch, as if a large scab had just fallen away from new skin.

To deal with the shallower wound on Payden’s neck, the count cut and tore off the front of Payden’s ruined shirt and wrapped it around his neck.

Gertrude stood on the narrow deck of the Sylph alone, her body stiff with tension. She watched Curt tend Payden, watched the Queen Lucia’s Revenge fade back into the mist behind them, wondered if she had to do anything to direct the course of the sloop, though she knew barely the first thing about it—only what Payden had mentioned in passing during his days of manning the sails. It wasn’t only the rocking of the small ship beneath her feet, the fog or the looming cliffs: this suddenly new situation left Gertrude feeling like she was tottering at the brink of disaster even though—surely—the worst of their danger had just left with the corsairs. Her breath trembled and though she had hardly moved, it was as if she couldn’t catch it.

“I don’t know how to sail, you know,” she spoke up when she dared.

Curt reached into the waters, perhaps to dredge Payden’s blood from his hands. “Don’t fret; the ship knows the way,” he said.

Indeed, Gertrude realized, the current still carried the Sylph, drawing it ever closer to the yawning black chasm of the sea cave. “This current that’s been guiding us,” she gulped, “you conjured it, didn’t you?”

His hazel eyes flicked at her but he quickly looked away again. He brought a water-slicked hand to his brow like one troubled by burdensome thoughts. “This isn’t how I imagined it,” he lamented. “This isn’t how I imagined it happening at all.” When she didn’t reply, he went on in the stagy manner he often adopted. “But now I suppose the cat is out of his proverbial bag, and I must bare my secrets to you!” He pivoted to face her with an ominous expression. “Let us go ashore and I shall reveal all.”

Gertrude returned his stare, unable to think of anything to say to that, and at last seated herself in tacit agreement to his proposal. The cliffs reared above like the steeples of ancient cathedrals and the lightless crevice of the sea cave drew ever nearer until it peaked above the Sylph and swallowed the ship and its parasitic longboat into shadow. Gertrude shuddered and gooseflesh stood out on the back of her neck.

There was more to see in the twilight of the cave than she expected, however. A watery pool of light spilled down a crude path that clearly lead to the surface, sketching into dim relief a swath of level stone and soil pegged with rotten wooden posts, clearly designed to serve as a port. On the gray- and peach-streaked walls of the cave, a few crumbled sconces were affixed, still filled with the stubby remains of long-ago torches. The whole place smelled of abandonment and forgotten stories. Gertrude might have been very taken with it, if not for the questions about her mysterious host now churning in her mind. On top of that, she wasn’t the least bit certain how to halt the ship and make land.

As it turned out, she needn’t have worried, for when the ship drew alongside the dock, the current ceased and a boil of water held it bobbing in place. “Drop that anchor thingy, will you?” Curt called—a bit distractedly, and Gertrude knew his magic was again at work in the waters.

Without a word, she dumped the anchor overboard and let it unravel into the depths. Even though she knew he had promised to explain, she couldn’t help wondering why Curt had lied about his magic, thought up several possible explanations for him: He feared prosecution; he had deceived her and Payden as a test of some kind; he was sworn by an ancient order of magicians to secrecy… And she told herself not to be hurt by his deceit, for surely his explanation would be a good one.

But she had a sinking feeling that his powers weren’t the only thing he had deceived her about.

By the time she’d fetched her carpet bag from her cabin and extended the gangplank to the dock (with some effort), Curt was waiting for her, Payden’s body draped in his arms like a fallen comrade.

“Is he really going to be alright?” Gertrude asked timidly.

“Yes. And he ought to wake up soon,” Curt replied. He laid Payden out on the cold ground and turned to face the blue and light-traced mouth of the cave where it opened to sea. “Now,” he said with decisive gusto, “we don’t want anyone else coming in, or running off in this ship, do we?” He knelt and flattened his palm against the earth. Again magic surged—so compliantly, Gertrude thought with awe, as if it had been bent many, many times before—and with a grumble and a groan, boulders bubbled up from the cave floor and rolled in from the cave walls, creating a toothy barricade at the mouth of the cave. Curt righted himself and dusted his hands in satisfaction.

Gertrude had the eerie sensation of being trapped. But she said nothing and followed Curt’s flowing cape as he carried Payden up and out of the subterranean port.

The country they surfaced in could have been considered beautiful in the way that highlands or deserted ruins are considered beautiful: rugged and lonely, peopled only by rain-weathered rocks and dwarfish shrubs. There were large swaths of rolling green, wild with clover and columbine that did much to soften the severity of the landscape, but even the grass was lonely, with no sheep or goats to crop it.

The castle was the loneliest of all, and as they climbed nearer to its windswept towers, Gertrude could see that it was collapsing in many places, grown through with weeds, derelict and uninhabited for many years. Thought there were a few signs of recent activity: a broken rum pot, an old boot. Gertrude felt her heart sink like a stone in the sea.

“Are you really a count?” she asked Curt in a sad voice.

“A count?” He gave a derisive laugh. “I am much more than a count.”

The strange mix of fascination and fear that Curt sometimes inspired in her crystallized in that moment so that she knew these feelings were real, founded on some dark truth about to be revealed, that she had not been merely imagining. The realization was a silken snare, a velvet net: She was trapped but she did not know that she wanted to escape, even if she could. She wanted to know the truth.

“Does that frighten you, Miss de Pontu?” He glanced over his shoulder to give her a measuring look.

She watched his eyes that she had felt she’d come to know well over the past few days, and watched his back after he’d turned away again, thinking of the trust she’d promised to him, and of her faith in the ultimate benevolence of the world’s guiding forces. “No,” she answered, mostly truthfully.

Curt swept into the arched entrance of the castle courtyard and laid Payden’s inert form on a raised stone block that had been warmed by the sun. When Gertrude ventured near, she saw the ex-rail warden was pale and murmured and twitched fitfully, as one who is awakening. A touch to his forehead showed that his core temperature was low. Gertrude put her shawl over his torso and looked at Curt.

Curt smiled pleasantly.

“Who are you, really?” she asked him searchingly. Was this the man she fancied herself in love with?

“I am your best friend, Miss de Pontu,” he replied, smile looming over her, “and your benefactor.” Then he showed her his back and walked several paces towards the inner chambers of the castle. “But let us wait ‘til Payden returns to the world of the waking before I say more.”
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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 1 - The Fall of Glory   Tue May 05, 2009 1:04 am



After Miss de Pontu laid her shawl upon him, Payden was unable to maintain his somber expression nor act the part of a dying man no longer. Through the flutterings of thick dark lashes he spied upon the hazy forms of Gertrude and the sorcerer Count, who quite quickly took note of his fakery, when smile tugged at the edge of his mouth.

Payden sprang up to a sitting position, although hardly as smoothly as planned, his hand quickly shooting to his side as he winced in pain. Then thrusting open an eye he peered at Curt and smiled as he waved an accusing finger in a playful manner towards him.

"May the gods forbid you be' put out' over my account, good sir." Teased the ragged swordsman, and by his recount of Curt's earlier words, both the Count and Gertrude were curious just how long the roguish gentleman had been conscious.

"I had my suspicions." continued Payden, still shaking his finger before him, then he twirled it about like a conductor ending a musical piece. His head bobbled about as if drunk, and it was apparent that even if he had been lucid for most of the time he indeed truly lacked the strength to carry his own body. Curt, nonetheless, appeared displeased over the ruse and thought to question the young rogue to learn just how much he recalled about recent events, but Payden plucked the words from his lips and carried on in a rather lackadaisical fashion.

"Forgive my... what's the word, ah yes, deception, but sometimes the world can appear much differently through half closed eyes. Is that not correct, Curt? Oh, and by the way, my thanks for the..", lost for words, Payden merely gestured to his side where the Count had performed his healing magic. "I've endured worse, but I've never recovered quite so quickly."

Payden attempted to stand then and found himself falling right back to his seat. He was surprised that his body was so weak and yet his wound was nearly healed. "Perhaps not that quickly then.", he commented.

He then went on to explain to his companions that he had indeed been aware of his surroundings since he lost his footing on the skip. Loss of blood had robbed him of his mobility but his senses remained alert and so he was aware of what had transpired on the Sylph, although he would not comment any further about it. Payden then made mention of Curt's apparent lack of any knowledge concerning firearms, when in fact his unsavory countrymen were quite adept at their use. "Why is that, Curt?", Payden inquired, furrowing his brow. It was a sound question, he thought, for he had always been under the impression that firearms became increasingly more uncommon in the far western lands. What was a ship of pistol toting pirates doing in these waters?
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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 1 - The Fall of Glory   Tue May 05, 2009 12:33 pm



Colleen felt the biting cold of the water take her breath away when she jumped into it. As soon as she surface she gulped in large amounts of air only to be thrust below the surface again. Over and over this took place. Trying as hard as she could she made her way to the children to try and help them but they were so spread out, she simply couldn’t reach them all.

The Ta’kun screeched when they jumped into the rushing water, but none of them attempted to pursue the humans. It wasn’t worth it. Not when they had adult males to unleash their fury upon. As they watched Colleen and the children until they were out of sight, they turned back around and joined their sisters and brothers in disposing of he soldiers once and for all.

It was all Colleen could do to keep her head above the rushing water. Over and over she was dunked below the surface and each time she would resurface sputtering and coughing. It seemed like they traveled the tunnel of water forever before that dim light began to grow brighter and brighter. When they reached the end of the tunneling system, all of them were unceremoniously dumped into the waiting sea.

As each of them plummeted into the salty water they screamed and yelled. Even Colleen let out a scream when she felt the bottom give out beneath her and sent her crashing down into the water. Quickly getting to the surface once more, she realized they had been dumped into the sea with all the other refuse water.

Quickly looking around, she began swimming to gather up the children as best as she could. Cricket had finally passed out and Sam was still trying hard to keep the boy above the water. Frankie was dog paddling as best as he could with Daisey still clinging to his neck. Shinner and Elija were doing all they could to help Sam and Frankie. Thankfully they weren’t that far from shore, but with all the years of water being dumped into the sea, it was rather deep directly under the discharge of water from Fort Glory.

“Keep swimming….towards the shore….that’s it. You’re doing good. You’ll be able to get your feet on the bottom soon…..that’s it Sam….”

Sam was the first one to reach the place where feet could touch bottom and he quickly began to drag Cricket out of the water. Thankfully the waves weren’t that big right now and it seemed as if the tide wasn’t moving. Soon after Sam touched bottom, the others began to use the bottom to make their way to shore. Colleen quickly caught up with the children and helped them get to shore.

All of them were dripping wet and cold but the fear they all had kept them from feeling it. Cricket was badly injured and the blood kept coming form his wound. Colleen quickly took off the coat she had managed to keep on through all of that and haphazardly folded it so she could apply pressure to the wound.

“Hang in there Cricket. We’ll get you patched up.”

The boys face was extremely pale telling Colleen he’d already lost a lot of blood. As she pressed down on his shoulder, she let her gaze quickly drift around to the children. They were shivering and huddled together for warmth and protection. Quickly looking around some more, she saw a place where they could get further away from the water and less out in the wide open.

“Come on…we need to get ourselves out of sight.”

Scooping Cricket up in her arms, Colleen winced as the added weight strained the stitches she had in her leg, but she couldn’t stop. She had to get the kids safe. Rushing over to where a rock wall had been constructed to the east of the train yard, she gently laid Cricket down. Looking up at Shinner, she took a hold of his hand and placed it on the coat over the wound, pressing it down.

“Hold this pressure in place, Shinner. Don’t let up.”

Shinner, as frightened as he was, merely nodded and kept his hand right where Colleen told him to put it. Getting to her feet, she quickly assessed the children. All of them were winded and shivering, but they appeared to be unharmed save for the scrapes, small cuts and no doubt bruises yet to be seen from the rough ride in the water. Still, she took the time to assess each one of them, leaving Elija for last. Kneeling down, she let her gaze search his face. She could see the fear in his gaze and she drew him into a tight embrace. As she held him close to her, she felt utter despair well up within her and she began to cry. As she felt Elija’s arms wrap around her, she allowed herself a moment of weakness. Forcing herself to stop crying, she sniffed, slowly pulled herself back and caressed Elija’s cheek with her trembling hand.

“We should be safe here. At least…until we can get moving again. We need to follow Captain Mandek’s orders and travel up the coast.”

Colleen turned her attention to the rest of the children then.

“Remove any piece of clothing you don’t need to wear right now. It’s important to get dry as quickly as possible to keep from getting sick. Remove your coats and your shoes. You can put them all back on later. You boys should even remove your shirts. Daisey, if you can take your dress off and just wear your petty coat right now, you should.”

The sounds of the raging battle within the walls of Fort Glory could still be heard. While they weren’t as loud as if they were still in the walls, it was enough to remind them they still were in danger out here. Hopefully the Ta’kun were too occupied with what was happening inside the walled city to worry about a woman and some street urchin children by the wall along the shore.

Colleen removed her own shirt, leaving just her chemise in place. Next she removed her boots and set them aside. Once all the children had removed all the clothes they could, she told them to sit near the rocks and huddle close together for warmth. Relieving Shinner of his duty to Cricket, she once more pressed down on the coat over Cricket’s wound. She was no nurse and she had absolutely nothing to help her close the wound. The harsh truth was cutting her like a knife and she tried not to let the children see for themselves. Still, she swallowed down the lump that formed in her throat and gazed out at the sea hoping for some miracle that she knew would never come.

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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 1 - The Fall of Glory   Tue May 05, 2009 6:07 pm



Elija stood shivering, wet and staring out at the surf as it cashed over the rock shelves of the beach



as it rolled in. His eyes suddenly caught a glimpse of something red floating in the surf. He screamed "Basha! I see Basha!" as he ran into the surf. When Elija came closer to the red object his heart sank, there floating in the surf, caught on a rock shelf was the torn, tatterd and bloodstained red jacket, with the remnants of a leather strap and the white sash, Basha had worn. He frantically search the surf and water, but to no avail. Elija bent down, picked up the jacket and clutched it to his chest, as he turned, stoned faced and walked back to the others. He sat sullenly on the sand holding the jacket. Slowly Elija spead the jacket out on a rock to dry and searched the pockets. Inside one of the inside pockets, he found a few coins, a letter whose ink had run to an unreadable smear and an old faded photograph of a woman holding a boy in her arms. The boy held up a wooden sword.

In another pocket Elija found a sewing kit, with needles and various small spools of thread. In the last outside pocket, Elija found some bullets and a folding multi bladed knife. He carefully laid the articles out to dry on a rock, weighing the papers down with a small stone. Elija just stared blankly at the Captain's Tunic silently.


Last edited by Lac'Nal on Thu May 07, 2009 2:10 pm; edited 3 times in total (Reason for editing : elimination of bank notes as per Kutsu's request)
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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 1 - The Fall of Glory   Thu May 07, 2009 2:07 am



When Payden struggled to rise, showing astonishment that he had not greater strength despite his worst wound being almost fully mended, Curt smirked and said, “Yes, despite my ministrations you will find yourself rather weak, Payden my friend. It will take you a while, yet, to recover.”

Then he and Gertrude—who had been startled nearly out of her skin by Payden’s sudden arising—listened as Payden explained that he had remained at least semi-conscious throughout the proceedings aboard the Sylph. When he then questioned Curt about his unfamiliarity with firearms, the sorcerer barked a laugh. “Ha! Those pirates, while unsavory indeed, are no countrymen of mine. No, I should say not,” he scoffed, pacing back and forth across the narrow courtyard. “My people and I, we have no use of such things. Why should we bother to learn about them?” He waved a hand as if tossing a scrap of paper into the dustbin. “Firearms will soon be obsolete, anyway.” Curt ceased his pacing and regarded Gertrude and Payden, arms crossed to give his speculation a forceful quality.

Gertrude thought he was acting a little odd, even for Curt. There was a hard edge to every move he made, to his glib comments, that she hadn’t ever noticed before. When he smiled at her and Payden, she had the impression of being pressed under a gleaming lens, scrutinized by a cold and clinical eye.



It must have been the eerie castle that made her feel this way, for Curt had never been anything but kind and attentive, if a little outlandish. In an effort to alleviate this strange mix of feelings, she took the opportunity to speak up when he paused. “Curt,” she said in the most reasonable voice she could muster, “why did you deceive us about your magic? It’s really very wonderful,” she added, hoping to assuage any sensitive points she might be probing.

“Ah,” Curt’s grin broadened and his eyes gleamed with mischief. “My magic.” He sighed like someone who had just taken a satisfying quaff of liquor and resumed his pacing. “I suppose it is time for me to give my speech—my little exegesis, hm? My grand oration! Ha, ha. I knew this time would come eventually, but I had hoped to put it off a bit longer, since we’ve been having such fun. And—oh!—I had more fun planned, you know. Such plans!” He gave the sky a wistful look and sighed. “But never mind. In many ways, the fun is just beginning. You’re here now, after all, and that is the main thing. I can’t begin to tell you how happy I am you’re on my island!”

His glee was apparent in the glinting of his teeth and eyes. He steepled his fingers like an avaricious banker appraising the vaults, and went on, “Oh yes, did I mention that this is an island? It currently has a population of three. Hm, hm! So it’s a good thing we brought all of those extra supplies, isn’t it? I would use them wisely, if I were you, for it might be a while before anything else is forthcoming.”

Curt’s cheerfully dispensed news trailed down Gertrude’s spine like cold seaweed. She reached out to a stone to steady herself. "Curt—Sir—what are you saying?”

“I’m sorry,” he said, looking not the least bit sorry, “have I not been clear enough? Straightforwardness has never really been my style.”

Though Gertrude still did not see the scope of Curt’s design, she felt his deception smother something small and winged in her heart. “Oh, my God,” she choked and brought her hands to her mouth. He had never cared so much as a jot for her. She expected herself to weep, but she was so stunned her eyes remained dry and blind as stone. “I’ve been such a fool,” she whispered, mortified and half-deaf to what Curt said next.

The sorcerer’s gaze flicked to Payden. “Oh, don’t fret,” he said dismissively. “I didn’t drag you all the way out here, suffering near-unimaginable indignities and hardships, just to murder you or something passé like that. You are here because you want to learn about your magic. And so you shall.” He turned his back to the two and walked up the center of the courtyard. “And the first lesson you must learn is that you live by the grace of the almighty Moi.”

He spun back around to flash them another of his cunning smiles. “It’s not so hard a concept to grasp. This place might not be much to look at, but that can change, if I so will it.” His smile hardened and a shade seemed to fade over the castle around them, as if Payden’s and Gertrude’s eyes were adjusting after looking at a bright light. The weeds in the stony floor shrunk away and the cracked stones repaired themselves, gleaming clean and white. Pillars grew up from the broken stones and the roof knit itself overhead, flowering with a mural of clouds and birds and twining vines. Shimmering drapes unfurled themselves from the windows and fragrant trees blossomed in the garden. They stood in a palace of unearthly elegance, as if they’d stepped into a fairytale.

Curt leaned against a throne wrought of ivory and pearls. “Basically, my children, I am God here. Luckily for you, I want you to serve me. Serve me faithfully, and you will be rewarded beyond your wildest dreams—with treasure more precious than mere gold or jewels. However, if you annoy me, I shall cast you into a hell more desolate and terminal than anything your religion has ever whispered of. So don't even think about it. Capisce?

"Oh, and please. Call me Cursha," he said amiably. "It's more appropriate now."
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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 1 - The Fall of Glory   Thu May 07, 2009 3:15 pm

Lord Yassun managed a laugh after Kylea’s public display of harsh words. He inched towards her as he laughed and when he was within reach his laugh stopped as suddenly and unexpected as it had begun and Yassun grabbed Kylea’s arm so that he might fling her through the doorway of a ruined grocery shop.

She should have seen that coming, but as it happened there was no stopping what was about to happen and she staggered into the intended direction only to come to a halt after being hurled against the shop’s counter. Yassun followed Kylea into the shop swiftly, at least this way they didn’t argue in front of the ta’kun.

“Yes, yes, pointy sticks. Whatever you say, Kylea.” Yassun recapped his kin’s banter, “Still preaching that old tune, are you? Doesn’t look like it got you very far at all, not that I would have thought you were capable of change or had any kind of potential whatsoever.”

Yassun couldn’t very well let Kylea run all over him with her holier-than-thou babbling, but he wasn’t in the mood for regurgitating ancient history either. “Now, regardless of what your warped mind may think, I have nothing to gain with a dead army of ta’kun, now do I? Why would I let those who willingly follow me be slaughtered? By these foul mammals no less!? I have my ambitions, yes, but I have standards too. They know the risks, I never said it would be a picknick in flower filled fields next to a river of pure gold!” He concluded his little speech.

“Next time you feel like hurting my ally’s morale to spite me you’ll find they’ll gladly stick you to one of those sticks you like to preach about so much. Do you just care for seeing me gutted by our lesser brothers and sisters or would you rather see them live through this day and achieve a glorious victory, hm?” Yassun glared at his mermadon sister for a moment.

“You can have but one of those two.” Yassun said and turned away.

As he got to doorway, with the door still defiantly hanging from a single hinge he stopped and looked over his shoulder, “I’m sure you’re disappointed. You probably expected me to stay around to hate you some more, but I’m afraid I’m rather busy. Next time make an appointment.”

The gates of the inner castle were waiting on the mermadon lord, and he didn’t like being late. And even though he couldn’t spare it to be bothered by the nuisance that was Kylea himself, he made sure several of the Red Fists were keeping an eye on her.

He ordered the greater ta’kun to stick with the mermadon. Keep her safe if she decided to stick around, make sure she didn’t leave if she tried to run off. Yassun wasn’t done with her just yet, and nothing would please him more than rubbing a grand victory in her face either.

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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 1 - The Fall of Glory   Fri May 08, 2009 12:00 pm



Yassun wasn’t known for diplomacy when it came to dealing with her. Still, she wasn’t expecting him to get quite so physical with her, but Kylea was good at hiding things and when she came to a sudden halt with the counters help, she took a second to gather her composure and whirled around to face Yassun. The fins on her arms and the back of her legs had risen slightly and became as hard as any steel blade. If looks could have killed, Yassun would have been dead 10 times over.

Yassun was always the less conventional mermadon and sought only his personal gain in anything he did. But it was who ever he was working FOR That intrigued Kylea. And if he were so hell bent on slaughtering this many Ta’kun, he had to have been promised a great reward. Or he had made a promise that required nothing but sure victory. Of course she knew death was inevitable in war, but surely the Ta’kun weren;t so stupid they couldn’t see the sacrifice they were making on Yassun’s behalf? Could they?

Letting her mermadon brother have his speech, Kylea let all of these thoughts circulate through her mind. Waiting until he was heading out the door before she called after him.

“Victory is always the end result we all want, Yassun, but, as you have stated so many times, victory achieved without deception is impossible. I pity you when the deceiver is discovered.”

When his form no longer filled the doorway, she cast her gaze at the Red Fists that were now her keepers. With a decidedly devious smile, she merely turned and checked out her surroundings. When she turned back to see the Red Fists, she smiled beautifully and made eye contact with each of them.

“Ah…..my lizard kin brothers. It’s so good to have your company. Good friends are difficult to find. Good friends who protect you from harm are even more difficult to find. I’m so glad I have found you. I feel so much safer now. You are all my heroes. Now I know you won’t let anything happen to me, will you?”

In response to her question, the Red Fists merely nodded their heads and they hissed, clinked and grunted softly.

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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 1 - The Fall of Glory   Sat May 09, 2009 5:39 pm



Sandy Graves sprinted northward through the dark sewers, seeing by the silvery shafts of moonlight that filtered down through the sewer grates above. In the distance he could hear the Ta'kun lifting the cage that blocked the passage way and he knew they were not far behind the echoes of their eerie screams.

The deaths of Clubber and the Captain flashed over and over again through his mind as he fumbled through the tunnels straining his eyes in the low light. He knew he couldn't stop and attempt to hide, the Ta'kun would sniff him out in no time, so he continued to run risking a stumble or even fall into some deep drainage shaft.

He could make out a junction ahead and turned east, hoping to find Sergeant Lasekura. His foot struck something and he fell hard on the stone pathway, sliding along the slick stones for a few feet. He lie still for a moment and listened for the Ta'kun, and was relieved to hear only the sounds of trickling water, but then he heard them at the junction and the young man sprang to his feet. Sandy sprinted as fast as he could, no longer worried about running into anything, praying that the dark passage stayed straight else he wouldn't see a corner coming.

Sandy could tell the Ta'kun were gaining and as the tunnel seemed to stretch on forever, the young soldier decided to stop and make his stand. In the poor light conditions, he knew the fight would be short but at least he would die in combat before his foes and not dying from some anonymous shot on the battlefield. He notched his bow as he slowly moved backgrounds then before he could react two powerful arms grabbed hold of his shoulders and pulled him into a side tunnel. Sandy tried to scream but a third hand clamped over his mouth and suppressed the sound.

A low lit lantern was thrust before Sandy's eyes allowing him to make out the dark features of the man who held him as Sergeant Lasekura. His eyes swiveled about and he recognized Jack Rabbit, Michael and Chance who was closing a small iron door behind him, sealing off the passage.



"Bolt it shut." Commanded Lasekura in his calm reassuring voice, then turning his eyes back to Sandy prompted him to spill his words with a nod.

"The Captain's dead, and Clubber to." He informed the group with urgent panic yet in his voice.

It was worse than Lasekura had feared, still holding onto the boy's shoulders he hung his head low in a momentary expression of grief for the loss of a man he had only just found.

"He took a bunch of those bastards with him though." Added Sandy, and the men found some comfort in the words.

"How many followed you?" Asked Lasekura, who had obviously heard their screeches thought the tunnels and even as they spoke there was a rapping on the door as a Ta'kun tested it's integrity.

The soldiers and urchins fell silent and awaited as while they repeatedly tested the door before giving up and moving on down the tunnel. The men were not worried of them breaking in the door, they knew it was far too strong for even a Greater Ta'kun to bash through but they didn't want them to know their location. When they were sure that they had cleared off, Sandy let them know that there might be twenty of them and that assuredly made up Lasekura's mind concerning their next move.

He scanned the room they were in before speaking his mind, searching the walls one more time in the hopes that some passageway would magically appear where there was none before but the only way out was a ladder that led back up to the surface. They had two choices, head back into the sewers and risk a fight with snakes in a hole or head back up to the town streets and return to the keep and assist in the defense of the castle. Sandy was the only one to question his judgement when he relayed the options to the group.

"We should stick to Captain Mandek's plan!" Protested Sandy, staying loyal to their fallen commander.

The powerfully muscled Sergeant approached Sandy and looked upon his with understanding in his eyes. "The Captain would be proud of you Mr. Graves, but even he would realize that this mission has been compromised. Somehow, the enemy is aware of our plans and should we stay to our present course we will all die down here."

"I don't care about dying. I want to get the leader of these bastards in my sights and take his head off!" Growled Sandy.

Lasekura calmly nodded. "We all want to end this, Sandy, but I am afraid we have no other options."

Sandy heard what the Sergeant was saying and agreed. "The others should go back, but you and I sir, we can get him!"

Lasekura stepped back and leaned against the wall considering the boy's rash plan.

"You're not considering it are ya, sir?" Questioned Michael Mason who obviously was ready to return to the safety of the keep.

With Captain Mandek gone the Sergeant was now in sole command and had to consider everyone, but as far as knew the castle could already be in the midst of falling and all their efforts would then best be put toward their own survival. The time had come, he believed for everyone to make their own decisions and do what they felt was in their own best interests.

"Mr. Mason," Lasekura began, "I am entrusting you with the safety of the children, you will accompany them back to their base and after that you are free to do as you wish.", he then looked to Jack Rabbit and Chance, "I am going with Sandy to the surface and we are going to find the leader. I am no longer your commanding officer, you both are free to follow your own agendas."

Chance looked at Jack Rabbit who was carefully considering what to do, but in the end the sprinter threw his hat in, knowing all too well that he was the next best shot after Sandy and two shots were better than one.

"I'm in." Jack Rabbit gravely agreed.

The swordsman, Chance nodded as well. "Someone has to watch your back, mate.", he said as he jostled Jack Rabbit.

Sergeant Lasekura then looked to the children, sensing that they wanted to be part of what they perceived as being heroic, but Lasekura assured them otherwise. "My thanks little ones for taking us this far but now we have to part ways." He told them, "but we cannot afford to be concerned about you where we are going. I cannot stop you from fighting to protect your home so the decision is yours to make. Mr. Mason, will help you get out of the town but otherwise he will go his own way."

The men then prepared themselves to climb the ladder and enter what they knew would be hostile territory.

"Sir, what about Ram and his men?" Asked Chance as the Sergeant grabbed hold of a rung.

"We have no way of knowing what has become of them and so we must assume the worst." Replied Lasekura, then he climbed up the metal ladder, back to the surface and uncertain dangers.
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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 1 - The Fall of Glory   Sat May 09, 2009 8:54 pm



Galley looked at the rest of the gang, then stepped forward and extended his hand. "Yuz ain't gots ta worry 'bout us Sergeant Lasekura. Weeze follows yur orders an goes with Mr. Mason. Yuz guys watch yur asses and weeze sees ya again. Ya gets lost bash on them pipes likes I showed ya. We comes and fetches ya." he then turned to the Shoddy End Gang members an said "Come on you lot, lets go find Elija and Sam." With that Galley, Ferret



and Weasel



followed Mr. Mason, back the way they had come until they reached a small side tunnel, there they guided Mr. Mason through a lambrynth of small tunnels towards the digs.
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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 1 - The Fall of Glory   Sun May 10, 2009 9:27 pm



The bleak black hand of night crept over the beach as the children shuddered in their skinnies, waiting for a dank sea wind to dry their clothes. Sam kept vigil over the fainted Cricket, fixed and determined as a stone angel.

“I kind o’ wish that witch were ‘ere,” he told the other urchins.

“I ‘eard about that witch as sent the spell after yer, Sam,” Daisy said, wide-eyed. “Yer wouldn’t really wish ‘er ‘ere, would yer?” The little girl shivered.

“’Course I would. Don’t yer know witches can ‘eal the gravest injuries what normal meddy-sin can’t?” Sam said, warming to his subject. “I bet she could wave ‘er magic wand, an’ ol’ Cricket ‘ere would pop up like one o’ them Jacks in ‘is box. ‘Course,” he added ominously, “she’d ‘ave ‘er price. Somethin’ like yer firstborn child. That’s usually what witches ask fer. But maybe she’d ask fer yer soul, or yer voice.”

“Yer voice?” Shinner asked. “What would she do with yer voice?”

“’Ow should I know what witches do with all them voices they gets? Maybe they just likes ter have lots o’ different conversations. But the fact is, you’d never get ta speak another word so long as yer lived, no matter ‘ow ‘ard yer tried. But anyway, I wouldn’t think twice about it, if in return she made Cricket get better.”

“I wouldn’t, neither,” said Daisy.

“Me neither,” added the other members of the Shoddy End Gang.

“Don’ worry. ‘E’ll get better,” Sam lied to the younger children. “It just won’t be as fast, that’s all, an’ I don’t fancy sittin’ ‘ere like clams all night, see?” He looked to the gloomy, dully thundering mass of the nighttime fort above them. “Boy,” he said, “Scrounger’s gonna be hot as a coal when ‘e finds out about all this.” He rubbed his nose on his naked arm. “Don’t see ‘ow we can get in there now, though.”

“What’re we gonna do, Sam?” Daisy asked.

“Don’ worry,” Sam replied, “I’ll take care o’ yer.” Sam didn’t have any idea about how he would fulfill that promise, but that didn’t matter right now. He had to keep the little ones from being scared, that was all.

Sam shifted his gaze to his old pal, L, who was holding silent vigil over the red coat of Basha Manduck. He felt angry, though he wouldn’t have been able to tell anyone why, or even at what his anger was directed. “What are yer and yer Eagle Guardian gonna do, L?” He demanded. “We can’t sit ‘ere all night like shite in a gazunder, so pull yerself together, mate.”

He looked past L to L’s mum. Willing her to say something, defying her to say anything. His skin was pale gooseflesh in the bitter night.


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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 1 - The Fall of Glory   Mon May 11, 2009 6:51 am



Elija seemed to jump slightly at Sam's words. He then looked over his shoulder and waked over to his still damp clothes. Without a word he started getting dressed. After he was dressed, Elija back over to the rock, folded the letter, picked up the phoyograph and put them in the inside pocket of the jacket. He then stuffed the folding knife and coins in his trouser pocket, picked up the red tunbic and slipped it on over his own jacket. Elija then turned towards Sam and with a set jaw and solem face he said ...

"Ize tells ya whot Ize not gonna do, is sit here freezin' me arse off. Basha said we shud gets up the coast. So lets us do that, weeze ducks an dives, finds us some tracks an finds us a Mary Baine an 'ops a freight car ta south. Weeze gitin aways frum the scalies we is." Elija then started picking up the sewing kit and handed it Colleen. He said to her "Yaz gots ta put the mend on Cricket and gets tha rest of tha gang on the prod. Me an Sam weeze sees if weeze can finds some eats an water." He then turned to Sam "Come on mate get off yur arse, weeze gots works ta do."

When Sam and Elija were out of hearing of the others he whispered "Ize goin backs ta the digs an gets me tirment an sees if Ize can finds tha rest tha rest of tha gang. Ize needs ya ta look afta mum and the rest. Ize sneaks in through tha cinder grate by tha Mary Baine yard meets ya by the south tracks by the grave yard tanight."
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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 1 - The Fall of Glory   Mon May 11, 2009 9:08 am



Sam listened carefully to everything L said, and replied. “Alright, mate. Since they’s yer ‘tirement and digs, an’ all, I suppose yer got to go. Don’ worry, I’ll keep yer mum out o’ yer ‘air an’ we’ll meet yer by the graveyard. But see ‘ere, them Marys ain’t runnin’ no more, so we’re gonna ‘ave to hoof it, least to the next town, as far as I can reckon. So don’t dawdle, yer ‘ear?”

He gave L’s back a solid pat to send him on his way.
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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 1 - The Fall of Glory   Mon May 11, 2009 2:55 pm



Colleen sat for a long time trying to figure out what to do and where to go. Again, Basha’s words kept coming back to her “Go up the coast…” Well, she was at the coast, now which way should she take the children? Based on the direction the sun set, she should head to her left….at least, if she could remember the nearby geography correctly. That should bring them to Meirathal.

As she heard the children talking among themselves about a witch and what not, Colleen looked down at Cricket. Even in the moonlight she could see the boy was even more pale then before and the closer she looked at him, the more she realized why he looked so pale. Carefully moving the blood soaked coat from the boys shoulder, she saw the gaping hole of a wound had stopped bleeding….and Cricket had stopped breathing. The boy was in a much better place now and while Colleen was devastated by the boys loss, she took SOME comfort knowing he wasn’t suffering anymore. That didn’t keep her from shedding tears. Slowly draping her coat over the boys body, she covered him up like she was keeping him warm.

Regaining her composure, she wiped her eyes with her arm and sniffed softly. Just as she calmed down, she heard Sam’s words: “What are yer and yer Eagle Guardian gonna do, L? We can’t sit ‘ere all night like shite in a gazunder, so pull yerself together, mate.”

Looking over at the boy, Colleen could see the glare he was giving her. Blinking, she looked over at Elija and watched as he set aside Basha’s coat and went to put his clothes back on. Colleen blinked again and realized Sam was right. 100%. She needed to do SOMETHING. Slowly getting to her feet, she forced herself to move and found her own shirt. Putting it on, she was still buttoning it when she turned around and saw Elija walking away from the group after Sam slapped him on the back.

“Stop right there, Elija!”

The boy was so startled by the sound of Colleen’s voice that he did just as she had ordered him to. Walking quickly over to stand between Sam and Elija, she looked at the other children.

“All of you get your clothes back on.”

Looking from Elija to Sam and back again, she placed her hands on her hips.

“I told you not to do something like that again, Elija. I thought I had lost you once, I’m not going to lose you again.”

Turning her dark blue gaze to Sam, she furrowed her brows.

“I’ll tell you what we’re doing, Sam. We’re leaving. Just as Captain Mandeck ordered us to. Now, get your things together. All of you. We leave in a few minutes. Sam…Elija…with me please.”

The children all looked around at each other then slowly began to do as Colleen instructed. As the other kids began to get dressed and gather up their things, what little they had, ELija and Same walked over to Colleen. Sam gave her a defiant look while Elija looked like a scared puppy. The look on her face changed to one of sheer anguish as she had the daunting task of telling the boys about Cricket.

“I’m so sorry to tell you both this, but Cricket has died. I need your help in burying him. We can’t just leave him out here like this. We’ll use my coat as a marker of where he is and when we come back, we’ll make sure he’s given a proper burial.”

The look on both faces made Colleen’s heart constrict in her chest and she felt the physical pain she knew the boys were feeling. Disbelief Anger. Back to disbelief. Finally, she nodded towards Cricket’s body and the boys slowly turned to look at the boy as he lay on the sand. With one foot in front of the other, they walked over to where their friend laid. Colleen gave them privacy so they could say good bye and soon, all the other children joined them. Daisey cried softly while most of the boys shed their tears in silence. Taking a deep breath Colleen slowly made her way over to where the children knelt over Cricket’s body. Kneeling down with them, she spoke in a soft, almost whisper.

“It’s time. We’ll say our good byes one last time to Cricket then be on our way. We need to travel as much tonight as we can.”

With Elija and Sams help, they dug a shallow grave for Cricket then slowly, with great care, laid his body to rest in the cool sands of the shore of Fort Glory. Colleen couldn’t help but see the small child whose life was ended far too soon look like a tiny angel fast asleep. Another lump formed in her throat and as they slowly began to cover Cricket over with the sand, she felt tears ease down her face. Once they had Cricket covered, Daisey brought a large piece of drift wood over to place at the head of Cricket’s grave. Colleen pushed the wood down into the soft sand then hung her coat on the stick, pushing down hard enough to put a hole in the collar to hold the coat on the stick.

After saying some words over the grave, Colleen gathered up the children and quickly ushered them away from Fort Glory. With one last glance over her shoulder, Colleen felt a pang of anguish was over her. She hoped and prayed those still in the city were safe, especially those brave men who were trying their hardest to keep the city from falling completely to the Ta’kun.

Turning her attention, Colleen had the kids walk as close to the water lines as possible to help them move faster and wash away any evidence of the direction they traveled in. She was terrified the Ta’kun would see they had escaped and follow.

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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 1 - The Fall of Glory   Wed May 13, 2009 2:08 am



As the world around them transformed, Payden leapt from the raised block upon which he sat as it changed from weathered stone to gleaming marble.

"Aullyndor's ghost." Exclaimed Payden under his breath, as he looked around, marveling at the transfiguration while struggling to maintain his balance on shaky legs. He had suspected that Curt or Cursha, what ever he called himself, had concealed his knowledge of magic but never dreamed his powers to be so extensive. It was an incredible sight to behold, but the rogue remained rational and immediately recalled Cursha's near failed casting of the red flame toward the pirate ship. As he ran his hand along the polished finish of the stone dais, which indeed felt as real as it appeared, the scene played over and over in his mind as he tried to make sense of it. Had Gertrude been successful in her conjuration of the fire? Or had Cursha stolen her magic? He knew too little of the arts to make sense of it all but that in time would change. Payden cast his dark gaze upon the man who was Curt of Ursha and did not recognize the imposing form that stood in his place, but he did not fear him. All he had seen thus far of the man were illusions, but perhaps that's all that magic really was for he yet had much to learn, and all he knew was that this 'pretender-god' had promised to pass his knowledge to he and Gertrude. He cared nothing of isolation or servitude, they were mere inconveniences — a penance for the power that was to be gained. Payden swore he would master it or die trying, then they would see who is the lord of the dance.

Payden dispensed of any defiance in his stare else he alarm their new lord and master and bowed his head respectfully to Cursha, expressing that he understood what was expected of him. Then taking notice of the humiliation that Gertrude bit back with a tightened jaw, he moved to her side, forcing his body to move fluidly despite the weakness in his limbs. His head throbbing, Payden endured the pain to maintain his illusion of strength before Cursha, and offered his arm to Gertrude.

"If you would do me the honour, Miss de Pontu and accompany me to the heights of the castle." Payden humbly invited.

More so than ever now, Payden felt a kinship with the young girl, for now not only did they share the gift of magic, but they had only each other to depend on. He could feel her emptiness and it pained him that she should believe that she was in this alone, for he would not allow any harm to come to her while breath remained in him.

"Lord Cursha. It has been a long journey, if you we be so kind as to direct us to our rooms." Requested Payden, and he almost added that he would return for their luggage, that is if he didn't have a spell that could conjure a personal concierge, but felt that such mockery wouldn't improve their situation.
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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 1 - The Fall of Glory   Wed May 13, 2009 3:18 am



Elija and Sam knelt at Crickets grave and gave a silent prayer "Weeze comes backs and makes 'em pay weeze will Cricket. Ize promises eyez does." he said as he laid his hand on the freshly piled sand and laid one of Basha's bullets on the grave. Elija, still wearing Basha's tunic, then stood up, he and Sam



then turned to follow his mother and the other Shoddy End kids down the beach.
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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 1 - The Fall of Glory   Wed May 13, 2009 3:09 pm



Colleen always thought walking the beach in the moonlight would be a romantic evening spent with someone special, but now, as she moved with the children along the shoreline, all she could think was that the moon was so bright, they were going to be spotted. The only thing that they had in their favor was the fact all of their clothes were on the dark side. Even if they weren’t true dark, they weren’t as bright as they once had been after their trip in the sewers and subsequent dump on the beach.

She the children moved up the shore, Colleen stayed in the back and constantly checked over her shoulder to see if anyone – or anything – was coming. As she moved along with the slump shoulders children, she wondered how it had all come to this. Had Fort Glory grown too lax in their efforts to create a safe haven or did they underestimate the minds of the Ta’kun? Either way it left a sick feeling within her.

After they walked about two hours, Colleen began to see the twinkling lights of Meitharal and she felt a small wave of relief wash over her. Cautioning herself to be cautious, after all, what if the Ta’kun had attacked this place as well, she tried not to hurry the children any more than their exhausted, emotionally spent bodies could move them. Still, she was anxious to get the children off the beach and into safe shelter for the rest of the night not to mention some warm food in their bellies.

Before long, the children began to notice the lights peeking over the old stone wall and began to pick up their pace. By the time they made it to the marina and managed to climb their way onto the wooden planks of the docks, They were all but running up the road that would take them to the closed gates. By the time they reached the gates, Colleen began pounding with her fists as hard as she could on the heavy, wooden doors and yelling for who ever would hear her.

“HELP! PLEASE! Let us in!”

From the other side of the gate a voice called back, muffled but not so much Colleen couldn’t hear it.

“Who’s there? Why are you here so late?”

“Co-Colleen Smith. I’ve come from Fort Glory with children. We were…..we were attacked….by the Ta’kun. The city’s been over run by them…..”

Colleen heard some more muffled talking from the other side of the door that she couldn’t hear and soon after she heard the sound of what appeared to be someone running away. At almost the same time she heard the sound of the gate being unlocked and a few moments later the gate was being opened up enough for Colleen and the children to get inside.

Colleen quickly ushered the children into the city before she slipped past the gate as well. As soon as she hit the other side, the guard that had been talking to her furrowed his brow.

“Are there any more of you out there?”

Colleen shook her head.

“No.”

The guard nodded, looked Colleen and the children over with his lantern held high so he cold make them all out. When he spotted the crimson jacket Elija wore, he furrowed his brow again.

“A soldier’s jacket?”

Colleen nodded.

“Yes….it belonged to Captain Basha Mandek. My son found it….floating in the sea after we escaped.”

The guard didn’t have a chance to say anything else as a rather burly looking man quickly approached. He was armed and for a moment Colleen swore he was going to rip some one’s head off for awakening him at such a late hour. Like the guard, he studied the woman and children as he spoke in a raspy voice.

“Ma’am….my name is Marshall William Kallend….my men tell me you’ve come from Fort Glory. I take it the city has fallen then?”

Colleen looked at the faces of the wide eyes children looking to her now and she slowly let her dark blue gaze ease up to the Marshall’s face.

“I….I don’t know, sir. All I know is that the soldiers are fighting to save the city. The children and I….we were attacked by a group of spear toting Ta’kun….we used the sewer system to escape….but not before some of the soldiers trying to protect us perished as well.”

Colleen squeezed Elija’s shoulders as she explained what happened to the Marshall.

“Captain Mandek told us to head up the coast…..we were following his orders.”

Marshall Kallend nodded.

“Folks from Fort Glory have been trickling in all day. We’ve beefed up our patrols just in case those pesky lizards got the bright idea of attacking us. Come….we’ll get you and the kids settled for the night and we’ll talk more in the morning. I’ve told the owner of the Brackish Bed to keep someone on staff all night in case something like this happened. We may need to put you all in one room due to the fact we’ve got quite a few folks staying here, but we’ll make sure we get you all set up. He even has someone tending to the kitchen as well and from the looks of it, you all could use something to eat.”

Colleen felt another wave of relief wash over her. They were safe. For now. She could at least get the children some food, a hot bath, hopefully some fresh clothes and get them all tucked into bed before the sun came up.

“Thank you, Marshall. These kids have been through quite a bit. Something to eat and a hot bath would be good for them.”

Marshall Kallend quirked a brow at Colleen as he watched her limp along with the kids.

“Looks like you’ve been through quite a bit yourself, Ma’am.”

“Colleen…Colleen Smith. Please…call me Colleen.”

”Well…Colleen it is.”

Marshall Kelland looked over to the guard that came to get him and gave him some orders.

“Run ahead and let Forbes know we need two rooms if he has it available and to get things ready for the kids and Ms. Sm…Colleen.”

The young guard nodded.

“Yes sir….”

Turning on his heel he took off running as fast as his feet could carry him to let the owner of the Brackish Bed know he had some late night guests on the way.

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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 1 - The Fall of Glory   Thu May 14, 2009 8:52 am

Elija stood a little strraighter and prouder when Colleen called him her son. He then looked at the guard and said. "Captain Basha was me mate them damned Scalies thays kilt him and Cricket our mate, thays did." He then pointed to the other kids and said "Theeze be me mates, weeze be "The Shoody End Gang" frum Fort Glory. Weeze blowed up an kilt them "Scallies" weeze did, din't we mates? Sum day weeze goes back an' sticks them 'splodin' candles right up them Scalies asses weeze will. Ain't that right mates?"

When the marshal arrived and introduced himself, Elija and the rest of the Shoddy end kids huddled around Colleen. Elija looked up at her and whispered "He ain'ts taken us ta tha Spike ( workhouse) is he mum? Ya ain't gonna let 'em takes me mates iz ya? He trys an' takes 'em an eyez shoves this chiv (knife) in 'is nebuchadnezzars (Male sexual organs) eyez will."
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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 1 - The Fall of Glory   Thu May 14, 2009 2:55 pm



As Colleen and the children walked along in relative silence, her mind wondered to a different place and time. It seemed like it had been a lifetime ago she made a similar journey from the charred remains of Granger to Fort Glory after Angus and the rest of the townsfolk were slaughtered by the dragons. Now, as she moved along in a zombie like state, she couldn’t help but notice how very much like that dreadful time this was. Colleen wanted nothing more than to crawl into a deep, dark hole and never come back out again. At least then she wouldn’t have to feel the pain of losing someone she was close to again.

For a moment she didn’t realize Elija was talking to her but when the child’s voice reached through the fog of her mind to touch her heart, she blinked herself out of her thoughts and looked down into the dirty face of the child she’d decided to call her own. His speech needed to be worked on terribly and the way he talked needed to be addressed as well, but not tonight. There was plenty of time for her to teach the boy manners and the correct way of speaking. All the same, she gave him a weary smile and shook her head. Keeping her voice low, she tried to put Elija and all the other children’s fears to rest.

“No, no…..not at all. You have a clean slate here. It’s your chance to start over and everything that happened back in Fort Glory stays in Fort Glory. You have the opportunity to have a good life now, absent of child slavers and hungry bellies. Even if I have to take you all in myself. I won’t let you roam the streets in search of a place to sleep or food to eat.”

Colleen blinked. The realization her words weren’t hollow struck her like a bucket full of ice water thrown on her. She looked at the gaunt, pale faces surrounding her and she realized she was exactly what the children needed. Someone to give a damn. In that one, brief moment of crystal clarity, Colleen understood what she had to do. And she was determined to do just that.

She had a new reason for living now. Colleen would inquire about a smithy as well, but one thing was for certain, she would make these children her top priority. They needed someone to do that for them since they had been neglected and pushed aside all their lives. Even the people who were suppose to look out for their best interest used and abused them. No more. No more.

Marshall Kelland was true to his word and escorted Colleen and the children to the Brackish Bed Inn, letting Mr. Forbes, the owner himself, know he had some late night guests. Turning Colleen and the children over to Forbes’ care, Marshall Kelland took his leave. Mr. Forbes was an elderly gentleman who was a little think through the center, but there was a kindness to his eyes and face that set Colleen at ease almost instantly. As he scanned over his records, he gave an almost triumphant smile.



“Ah! Here we go…yes yes….I have two rooms available. They are right next to each other and connected by a door betwixt the two. I think it suite your needs Ms. Smith. Mrs. Forbes is in the kitchen making sure the soup she fixed earlier is heated up properly for the little ones and yourself as well. I’ve sent for the young lad down the street to get the bath house located right next door open for you. We’ll have hot water ready in a jiff,. Don’t you worry about that.”

Colleen smiled graciously to the man and nodded.

“Thank you, Mr. Forbes. Please…call me Colleen. These fine young men are Elija, my son, and his friends Sam, Shinner and Frankie and this lovely young lady is Daisey. We’re very grateful to both you and your wife. And the young man who is being roused from his slumber to help us.”

Mr. Forbes waved off Colleens words.

“What good would being a neighbor be if we couldn’t extend a hand when one is needed, hm?”

Colleen smiled and nodded again, unable to find argument with his words. The next couple of hours were a blur for her. Mrs Forbes fussed over the children like they were her grandkids, letting Colleen eat in peace. Grateful for the elderly woman’s comforting nature and well cooked food, she children found themselves unable to resist the food placed before them, even though they really didn’t feel much like eating. As soon as they were done eating, Mrs. Forbes ushed the all out to the bath house and told them all to leave their clothes laying on the floor. A little while later, Mrs. Forbes had returned with some fresh clothes for everyone. When Colleen asked where she got them from, the woman merely smiled and shook her head. She even had some clothes for Colleen.



Colleen helped Daisey undress and get her bath, making sure she took the time to take a brush through the girls unruly locks. Being extremely gentle, she didn’t stop until the brush flowed smoothly through the girls hair comeplely unhindered. Once that was done, Daisey was too exhausted to even think of walking. Picking the girl up, Daisey laid her head on Colleens shoulder and she was sure Daisey was sound asleep even before she took her first step.

Elij, Sam and Shinner were all done their baths, after grudingly agreeing to get one, and Colleen was impressed with the trandformation in the boys. They were all quite handsome young men when the dirt was washed off. Escorting them all to the rooms that had been secured for them, she laid Daisey down in the bed she would share with the girl then made sure the boys were in bed as well.

With all the things the kids had been through, they were fast alsepp in no time giving Colleen the opportunity to drag herself back down to the bath house and wash the last days events off her. It didn’t take her long to scrub her body and hair with some soft scented soaps Mrs. Forbes had set aside for her. She even took the time to study the handiwork of Payden’s stitching to her leg. Noting the fine thread criss crossed over her skin, she had to admit he did a fine job and she shouldn’t have TOO bad of a scar from the ordeal. At least not physically.

By the time Colleen was done with her bath and had her hair brushed out, she was practically falling asleep on her feet. Quietly making her way back to her rooms, she checked on the boys, made sure they were all well, gave them each a peck on the cheek then slowly slid intot he bed Daisey was snorring softly in. By the time Colleen’s head hit the pillow, she was asleep to the black void of exhaustion.

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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 1 - The Fall of Glory   Fri May 15, 2009 2:10 am

They were all dead, all but their leader who yet drew breath long enough to drive his meaty fist into the skull the Lesser Ta'kun that he pinned against the wall with shear strength and weight. The unconscious creature slumped into the stinking waters, it's head sinking below the surface and as the bubbles of its last breath dwindled, Ram fell against the wall, his legs buckling beneath him. The big man slowly fell into a sitting position his breathing burdened, his chest and belly were torn apart from the clawed feet of Ta'kun and his blood poured from the wounds. Through blurry eyes he looked one last time on his comrades, each one torn apart by the murderous lizards, but at least the children managed to escape and they took most of the bastards with them. He closed his eyes and thought he just might sleep for a while, but the big man would never awake, still he died content knowing that somewhere in this world children were sleeping safe sound under the guard of soldiers who would fight to their last breath to protect them.



Sergeant Lasekura lead his men through the dark deserted streets of Fort Glory. When ever they needed to cross a street or head into to open ground they awaited for clouds to obscure the light of the moon, then they proceeded under cover of darkness and stuck to the narrow alleys. Jack Rabbit, brought up the rear, easily keeping up with Chance who was just ahead of him, his sword and dirk drawn and ready.

They had made it past Castle Road with little incident and were now in a tight alley just a few meters away from the wall of the inner keep, just near a tower of the eastern gate. What Lasekura could see did not look good. "The gate appears to have been breached.", he whispered to the others. Then he could see torches being thrown and soon several buildings along Castle Road in the interior were ablaze despite the recent rains. Lasekura figured they used fuel to set the fires and with the added light, he could see the Ta'kun quite clearly but unfortunately they would also be quite visible.

"We need to get inside." Lasekura stated. "If we can get through the gate, we can make it to the tower door and get to the top of the wall."

Jack Rabbit could see from their vantage point that their five of the big, Greater Ta'kun standing watch. He breathed in unsteadily and swallowed hard, then he handed his gun and gear to Chance.

"What are you doing!" Chance exclaimed.

"Look, when I go, they're going to tear after me to beat all. That's when the three of you sneak in." Jack told them.

Lasekura reached back and grabbed the sprinter's arm. "It's suicide, I cannot allow you to do this."

"Sorry sir, but like you said, it's not your decision anymore. Don't worry they'll never catch me." Jack said. Then with a wink and smile the young man took off and stood at the battered gates until the guards noticed him.

"Com'on ye ugly son's o'whores, what ya waitin' for!" Jack taunted, and sure enough the Ta'kun took off after him, enraged that a human would dare to mock them.

The Greater Ta'kun were built for power and they lumbered after the graceful sprinter, who quickly pulled away from them, but Lasekura knew that what they lacked in speed they made up in endurance. They would not stop their pursuit, and long after Jack would begin to tire they would surely close the gap.

Chance was ready to run after Jack, but Lasekura made sure he held him back. "No, Chance. He made his choice, do not make his sacrifice in vain." He said as the soldier struggled futilely against the powerful Sergeant. Then he realized what he said made sense and resigned himself to completing their mission for Jack and the others that died.

The three men were able to enter the keep undetected, and Lasekura found the small door that lead into the tower. Before any of the roving Ta'kun could notice them they snuck inside and sealed the door behind them. Now they just had to hope that there were no Ta'kun at the top of the tower but Sergeant Lasekura found that very unlikely.
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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 1 - The Fall of Glory   Sat May 16, 2009 2:43 am



The door to the tower being unlocked was a good indication that the Ta'kun had gained access to the walls, and sure enough as the soldiers climbed higher along the spiraling staircase they could hear the screeching sounds of Ta'kun and the clash of swords. The battle noises would have made most slow their pace but Sergeant Lasekura literally charged up the remaining stairs sword and shield in hand unafraid of what he may encounter.

One of the 'snakes' stood at the top of the staircase. Engrossed in the battle before it and completely unaware of Lasekura's approach from behind. At the last moment it felt the vibrations of the warrior's approach but it was too late and with one enraged swing of his blade the Sergeant severed the creatures head, leaving it's body flailing on the ground coating the stones with it's blood. To his right, Lasekura could see, several Ta'kun both lesser and greater, taunting a large northerner. The exhausted man, swung his claymore desperately around him to keep the snake-like scavengers at bay, while the larger Ta'kun spurred their cousins on. As the man spun around with a burst of reserved strength, he managed to hack through the arm of one of his tormentors, and that is when Lasekura recognized the man as Lieutenant Bane.



As the Ta'kun were alerted by the flopping body of their brother, Lasekura screamed a battle cry and shield bashed one of the snakes over the edge of the wall, but the agile creature caught hold of a merlon and clung to the wall with it's long claws. It pulled itself over the crenelation and leapt toward Lasekura's back as he charged past, but it fell short as Chance's spilled the creatures guts and kicked it aside.

Seeing the Sergeant and his men, Bane's fervor was renewed and finished off the wounded Ta'kun then turned to face the others behind him, while Lasekura and Chance hacked their way toward the officer.

One of the large powerful Red Fists charged Chance, but it's eye erupted and the thundering sound of a shot echoed. Sandy had hit his mark, and the powerful beast slumped to the ground, blood pouring from it's hollow eye socket, ears and mouth. Chance had no time to thank his friend, as two more snakes attacked him, and the swordsman defended against sword and spear. Another blast, and Chance's spear wielding adversary fell atop the corpse of the Red First.

Soon Lasekura, Bane and Chance were back to back, fighting in the old way, one protecting while another attacked while Sandy kept his distance and concentrated on picking off the greater Ta'kun with spectacular head shots that found the soft parts of their thickly horned skulls. Quickly the tables turned and as the last greater Ta'kun fell, Lieutenant Bane had gone from fighting for his life to dealing death to the remaining lesser Ta'kun.

"Ye should 'ave killed me when ye had the chance, ya scaly bastard!" Shouted Bane as he repeatedly hacked the last Ta'kun to pieces. His blood lust satisfied, rage left the Lieutenant's eyes and he met the three men with open arms. "I glad ta see yer not dead, Lasekura.", greeted Bane in the friendliest the way that he knew.

"I heard some noises over hear and like a fool I came alone. Seems that these wee brained toads were able to make it up the tower." Explained the Lieutenant.

They walked along the wall to the southwestern tower, keeping low so as not draw the arrows and as they crept along Lasekura looked over the rampart to see that the last of Fort Glory's forces had gathered behind the King's bastions. They were making their last stand in defense of the king's palace, but they were greatly out numbered.

"Look at 'em, Lasekura." Bane began, pointing to the soldiers and townsmen with his great sword. "Kindlin' for the fire, that's all we'll be, after that bastard sorcerer has his way."

"Sorcerer?" Questioned Sandy, speaking out of turn, but the Lieutenant didn't seem to care so much of formalities at the present moment.

"Aye, lad. He keeps outta range of our rifles and it's only a matter of time before he destroys the gate, or perhaps he'll rain fire down upon us. Who knows? I'd just like to get one swing at his slimy green head." Growled Bane.



Sandy walked over to the edge of the tower, and Bane pointed to where the leader stood aside what he believed was the commander of the Ta'kun army. The fading fires of Harker's Lane, still burned bright enough to illuminate the Mermadon lord and Ta'kun leader, and to the crystal clear eyes of the young shooter he was a prime target.

"Can you make the shot?" Asked Lasekura

"Make the shot?" Interjected Bane. "That has to be three hundred yards. My men have all tried and failed.", he scoffed.

Lasekura then took not of the way, Bane had said, 'my men'. "Where is MacBhaird?"

Bane's face went grim. "He's in the castle dying, he got caught in a hail of arrows, when the bastards took the keep." The Lieutenant then turned his attention back to Sandy. "So can he make the shot?".

"Yes." Answered Lasekura, and so confident was his expression that it removed all of Bane's doubts.

Lieutenant Bane, couldn't believe it. One well placed shot, could tip the scales in their favour! There was hope once more and he zealously asked Sandy Graves if there was anything that he could do to help him.

Sandy wanted to tell the Lieutenant that for starters he could leave him be to make shot, but it was not the time or place for such banter. His moment of vengeance for the deaths of his Captain and Clubber was at hand and the pressure was great enough already without an officer adding anymore.

There was a noise behind them, and the soldiers could see the tops of ladders appearing all along the southern wall.

"Damn it!" Roared Bane as he walked to the edge of the rampart and screamed at the soldiers. "Where are my reinforcements! They're coming over the walls!"

Immediately many men ran up the stairs to give aid to their Lieutenant, but they were met by the powerful swings of Greater Ta'kun that made short work of the townsmen that ran blindly into battle.

Lasekura, knelt by Sandy and put his hand on the young man's shoulder. "You can make the shot.", he told him with a warm smile, then he quickly stood and drew his sword. "Chance! You watch Sandy's back. Nothing get's by you." , he ordered before he ran into the fray alongside Bane to once defend the wall.

With Chance standing guard over him, Sandy prepared his rifles to cover the distance. He loaded all three, even though he'd probably only get one shot. He then made himself comfortable, leaned his rifle between two merlons and caught Lord Yassun in his sight. Sandy then slowed his breathing and made sure that he would make his shot when he exhaled so as not to throw off his aim. He could then hear behind him, the sound of metal crunching into the bone as Chance stood his ground against a Lesser Ta'kun, but he maintained his concentration and drew a bead on the Mermadon's throat. He didn't think he could hit such a small area, but a precise target usually meant that something larger in the general vicinity would be struck.

Sandy could now see the Mermadon clearly, he exhaled and squeezed the trigger. The mermadon did not react to the common sound of gunfire, he simply remained focused on the castle as the shot sped toward him. Then with little hesitation he took up a second rifle, aimed and shot once more at the same target and with the third rifle he made one shot at the Ta'kun leader who was just dancing around in confusion. His shots spent, Sandy was unable to tell the extent of the damage he had done, if any, but there would be little time to learn while the Ta'kun were coming over the wall. He picked up his bow, notched an arrow and began shooting the Ta'kun while they were still climbing up the ladders.

It was a hard fight to get clear of, and Sandy watched as Chance was literally cleaved in half by a huge Ta'kun right before his eyes. The valiant young swordsman fell to the rampart in two convulsing pieces and Sandy put an arrow right into the throat of the monster. Unfortunately it didn't stop it's bull charge and before he could notch another arrow, Sandy was struck hard and crushed against the crenelation.

Lasekura, tried to get to Sandy but he and Bane were overwhelmed by the clubbing blows, slashing claws and stabbing spears of the Ta'kun that surrounded them. Unable to push the ladders away, the Ta'kun continued to reinforce their troops, and as more of their men fell before the Greater Ta'kun, Lasekura began to prepare for the end.
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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 1 - The Fall of Glory   Sat May 16, 2009 5:55 pm

Scrounger(MC) watched as Fort Glory slowly fell into the Ta'kun's control. Scowling he sent Josaphine(MC) and Jessica(MC) out to gather up all his "wards"

"Yuze tells them brats ta dops what ever they be doin an' gets back ta the tennament. We gots ta gets outta here as quick as if the hounds of hell be bitin' om ar asses. Gets word ta Gypsy an' her lot as well, ta gets here. Tells her ta meets at Iron Town, I hears there be one last way out. Now gets yur asses movin'."

Scrounger then told his cronies still at the tennament ta start gathering up everything they could carry.

Josiphine located Gypsy(MC) and then quickly went to gather as many as the street urchins as she could find. Gypsy sent word to her "girls" ta meet at Iron Town without a hesitation.
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BOOK 3 - CHAP 1 - The Fall of Glory
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