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Story I've been working on (language)

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Joined: 26 Oct 2010
Posts: 23
Location: Wheeling, wv

PostPosted: Wed Nov 17, 2010 11:32 pm
Post subject: Story I've been working on (language)
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Hey all, I've been writing this story for a few months and would love some feedback on it. There are 13 chapters in all (I'll post more later) I don't have a title for it yet though. Please let me know of any improvements that could be made, as well as suggestions for titles and later chapters. Thank you in advance...

NOTE: contains coarse language.

Chapter 1
Car Ride

The scenery passed by the cars window as if the earth itself moved around me, I had watched as the concrete and glass of the city surrendered to nature’s green army. Trees grew on the roadside, their twisting branches creating the illusion of a tunnel that the car sped through, with me as its unwilling passenger. The trip had been suggested by friends, as a fun getaway from work where we could relax. The real reason, however, was to get me away from the real world. They didn’t come out and say it, but they didn’t have to. I saw through the charade as I had seen through many others since my parents were killed a few months ago. The accident had been sudden, and was quickly written off as “just a traffic accident.” Traffic accident or not, I hadn’t left my apartment for a week afterwards. They, as all good friends do, overreacted and thought that I was suicidal. The truth wasn’t far from it, and I had been in shock for a time. Where my mind went for that week was a place I daren’t venture back to, a place where revenge plans were made, violent acts were pictured, and my inner murderer had control. My friends saw where I was headed and the trip was planned without my knowledge. The gesture was in good form, and the thought was very much appreciated, so I didn’t argue too much when they sprung it on me.
“You asleep back there or what?” Hailey called from the driver’s seat.
“I bet he is, probably still pouting that we didn’t take his car!” replied Jason. The two were my best friends, having met Jason in high school and Hailey in art school. They hit it off right after I introduced them, and had dated ever since. I was apparently their go-to guy when they had an argument, which happened often, and wanted advice for getting back together.
“Hello, Ben? We’re almost to the cabin,” said Hailey, breaking my thoughts again and urging me to sit up and reply.
“Yeah I’m awake,” I said. No use in arguing with her. “How much longer until I can get out of this damn car?”
“Just a few more minutes, and don’t complain about my car, it has way more room than your little German thing,” said Hailey.
“Don’t hate on my Golf,” I said a bit too frostily. So much for the conversation. She didn’t seem too bothered though, my friends were getting used to my newly acquired bad attitude.
“She was just saying that hers has more room,” said Jason, “and you could have been stuck riding in the ‘other’ car with Dan, Ashley, and Jeremy.”
He made a good point. Hailey’s Range Rover had a ton of room in it, and a five hour car trip with those morons didn’t appeal to me in my present state of mind. Jeremy was the only one of the group who I could really stand to be around, but I had to endure them all because Dan was Jason’s cousin, and Ashley his girlfriend. Jeremy was Dan’s best friend, as well as an idiot. He did have his moments though.
The car slowed to a stop and I got my first look at the cabin. Surrounded by trees and nestled into a natural flat spot on the mountains east side, it looked like the perfect representation of what would be pictured when someone thought of a log cabin. It was two stories, with a satellite dish on the roof that helped to settle my terrible boredom and a massive deck with a hot tub on it.
“It’s beautiful!” exclaimed Hailey, “absolutely perfect!”
“We should unpack,” said the ever practical Jason, “that way we can go for a walk and see the surroundings”
We stood by the truck for a few minutes, enjoying nature, before the silence created by our picturesque nature retreat was broken by the sound of another car approaching, and then by stupidity.
“Finally!” called a high pitched voice that could only be Dan, “that was like the longest car ride of my life!”
“Oh relax and quiet down,” came another voice, “you’re gonna scare all the animals away before I have the chance to see them!”
This voice and the thought that it delivered gave me a mental picture that made me fear for the safety of the local wildlife. Ashley could make a hibernating bear wake up and run for higher ground with her constant bitching.
Amidst the commotion from the other two came Jeremy, who no sooner got out of the car and got hold of his backpack than exclaimed “I call the T.V.!”
So much for my instant boredom cure.
Hailey, seeing the look on my face, gave me a wink and added “he’ll probably fall asleep after he turns it on, and besides that, we’re on vacation! You should come out and hike with us.”
“Ok.” The words seemed to rush out of my mouth before I could think about what I was agreeing to. Weird.
“Just remember to bring your camera,” she said with a smile on her face. “I really want some pictures to show the guys at the office, and you’re the best photographer I know.”
I should have seen that one coming, I thought with a forced smile on my face. I was a career photographer, and a rather successful one at that.
I set my bags in a free bedroom, loaded my camera and a few essentials in my backpack, laced my chuck tailors up, and paused to look at myself in the mirror. I was tall and thin, with enough wiry muscle to back up my smart mouth. I had a slender face, with green eyes and short dark hair with longer bangs, which were combed over my right eye, and dyed red. I wore a black Killswitch Engage t-shirt, a pair of artfully faded jeans, and the classic punk accessory of black converse shoes. I sighed and headed out the door.
Hailey had convinced Dan and Ashley to come along, and not wanting to be left behind, Jeremy had reluctantly tagged along. The hike began like anything else we did as a group, with Ashley squealing and pointing to anything that seemed remotely interesting to her, Dan pretending to be interested, and Hailey staying very close to Jason. I found myself following them, with Jeremy bringing up the rear of the group.
Nature is a fascinating backdrop, and can present some great opportunities for pictures. I had a hard time finding these shots though. My mind seemed to be on a different page, and before long, I had completely tuned out my friends exclamations over the trees, the animals, and the sights. This meant I didn’t notice when the conversations abruptly stopped. We left the trail without thinking about it, almost unconsciously. It felt as though we were being called somewhere, led by an unseen force. Or maybe it was just my antidepressants turning my gray matter into mush. Who knows?
We walked for what seemed like miles without stopping, and the sun soon went down. Still we continued on, without any thoughts of turning back.
Then, we stopped. Or should I say Hailey stopped, and we unwittingly bumped into her. The collision seemed to knock us out of the trance however.
“Holy shoot where are we?!” Jason said. “The frak sun went down!”
“We must have walked for hours!” Hailey exclaimed, “how far did we go?”
“Oh no! How do we get back to the cabin?” yelled Ashley, who was clinging violently to Dan, who looked like he may be choking.
While the inevitable chaos ensued, I began looking around. Following the path that we were on when Hailey stopped, I trudged through a set of pine trees and saw what we had been led towards. The gaping mouth of a cave stood out from the forest, and again I found it hard to concentrate on what I was doing. I forced myself to turn away from the ugly void and yelled for the others to come see what I had found.
“I think we were led here” I said when they got through the trees.
The closest I got to a reply was a nod from Dan. So they felt it too.
“Wonder what’s inside?” said Jeremy, who started forward before anyone could stop him, and soon stood just inside the mouth of the cavern. “Hey come check this out! It’s so cool!”
Hailey and Jason immediately started arguing.
“We can’t let him go in there alone” he said.
“You are not going in there and getting yourself killed!” she yelled back.
Before the argument could go further I started towards the cave.
“I’ll go” I said, without turning or slowing down.
There was a hesitation from the four of them, and I was soon followed into the darkness of the cavern.
The cave led downwards into the mountain. We moved slowly at first, guided by flashlights that Jason had thought to bring. Soon though, the cave began to brighten, and our pace quickened, until we stood bathed in light from a large door in the cave wall.
“The path goes back upward further on,” said Jeremy, who stood staring into the strange light.
“I guess this is where we were being led,” said Dan.
“I don’t know…” Ashley began, “what if it’s dangerous?”
For some reason this thought led me to move towards the door. My friends protests soon became background noise however, as I moved into the room the strange light became less intense, giving just enough to see the glowing pool in the center of the room. I turned to see if my friends had followed me in, and saw that they hadn’t. The pool of water seemed to beckon to me, and without thinking about it, I began walking towards it. Soon, I reached the edge of the pool and, as I looked down into it, saw that it was not water. The surface looked like glass, and produced a similar shine, but within the clear depths I could see no bottom. In fact I couldn’t see anything in it.
With this knowledge in my mind I began to back away from the pool, but at the last minute, some unused piece in the deepest corners of my mind came up with the strangest idea, and without consulting my conscious, told my body to follow through with it. So it came as a shock to me when I found myself turning to run towards the crystal pool, and an even bigger shock when I dove, headfirst, into it.

Chapter 2

When I awoke my head was pounding. My eyes took a moment to focus once I opened them, and what they saw made no sense to me. I lay on the stone floor of a large round room, with light trained on me from a hole in the ceiling. Around the room stood what appeared to be rows of seats filled with people made hard to see by darkness. Apparently the light that shone on me was the only one in the room. My friends were nowhere to be seen.
“He awakes!” said a forceful voice somewhere behind me. I stood slowly, with my pounding head punishing me for the effort, and turned to find the source of the voice and soon tagged it to a large, broad shouldered man dressed in a costume that I would have pegged as corny even on Halloween. He looked like a medieval king, with the exception of a crown. The man was dressed in a red shirt and pants, with a black cape with red edges and laced with gold embroidery. He had a long mane of blonde hair, and a neatly cut blonde beard, and was surrounded on his platform by similarly dressed men who seemed to hang on his every word. It was his voice however, that amazed me. It seemed to intimidate everyone in the room. Everyone, except me.
“How did you come upon my kingdom” he said with a scowl on his face, “it is common knowledge that this place is forbidden to outsiders!” The tone with which he spoke these last words sent shivers down my spine, and those in the audience turned eagerly away from him to see what they obviously thought would be a groveling apology.
To hell with that, I thought. “I don’t know how I got here.” I said loudly enough to be heard, “and I’m not really sure where here is.”
This seemed to aggravate the head costume wearer.
“LIES!” he yelled, “everyone in this land knows of MY kingdom, and everyone who knows of my kingdom knows to fear it and me!”
I stood with an uncaring expression on my face. I can play hardass too.
“Fool! I am the great Lonius, king of Havens Fall!
“Doesn’t ring any bells” I said. He seemed to implode upon hearing that, and his face started to look more and more like a Halloween mask.
“It doesn’t matter” he said, “You will face the same fate as any trespasser into my kingdom.”
The slight smile that came to his face told me that bad things were coming.
“You will fight in the arena. If you survive, you will win your life, and your freedom.”
I still didn’t know what the hell he was talking about, but I knew I wouldn’t like it. As I was thinking this, two large men grabbed me by the shoulders and dragged me out of the room through a door. I was led down a flight of stairs, and thrown unceremoniously into a cell.
I stood and began to brush myself off when I got the feeling I was being watched. I looked around and saw, in the darkest corner of the room, an old man sitting and staring at me.
“You don’t seem to be fitting in any better than I did at first,” he said with a slight smile. “I heard through the floor what you said to the king. He won’t soon forget your words.”
So we were directly below the round room.
“What are you talking about?” I asked.
“Why surely you know of Havens Fall!” he exclaimed.
The look on my face must have told him that I didn’t.
“What world are you from that they don’t teach about the horrors of this place?”
I took a deep breath and started, “well……”

Chapter 3
Fairy Tales

After I told my story the man, whose name was Norman, looked at me silently for what seemed like hours. I must have sounded crazy!
“The story you tell,” he said in a timid voice, “sounds very similar to one of my kingdoms oldest tales.”
That’s strange, I thought, they must be an imaginative people.
What he said next stopped my thoughts of imagination.
“It is the story of our lands first true king, the man who united the tribes of our land and helped them become a powerful, respected kingdom.”
“What?” I asked, “You mean the king came through the pool?”
“He spoke of a great crystal, and how he dove through it, only to end up in the same situation as you. He fought in the arena and won his freedom with the help of a strange sword that appeared in the armory only for him.”
An idea crept into my head.
“This king, he would believe me wouldn’t he?”
“He may have, but I fear he was killed in his sleep by one of his most trusted advisers, who took control of the kingdom and has run it into the realm of darkness,”
Damn. So much for that.
“That explains the royal posterior fundamental orifice upstairs” I muttered.
“He is a coward and a liar, and should not be trusted.” He replied, “But he is not the traitor who killed the king. That was Parine the dark. The coward doesn’t like to present himself as a target, so he hides in his castle and relays orders to the scum that he declared lords and kings.”
“What do you mean by darkness?” I asked, changing the subject.
“Since the kings demise, an evil force has crept over the land, filling the people with dread. The myths say that only those from the true king’s world can stop it.”
The look he gave me was expectant, and made me uncomfortable.
“I believe that is why you are here.” He finished.
“No way” I said a bit too quickly, “this has got to be a mistake, a coincidence.”
“You told me of the force that guided you to the pool, and made you jump in.” he said with the unmistakable glint of hope in his eyes.
“Yeah but I was on a lot of medication,” I said, “it was probably just stupidity.’
Maybe I was suicidal, the thought made me shudder.
“We must prepare you to fight tomorrow.” He said, cutting off further denial from me. “I am sure of your fate, even if you aren’t.”
“How do I know that you aren’t as crazy as I feel?” I asked.
“Because I was the head of the king’s guard” he said.
shoot, I thought. No wonder he was delusional.
“You will face a great challenge tomorrow,” he said. “You will have to fight a beast bred for killing. An evil being, who will think nothing of ending your life.”
“Thanks for the pep talk” I said, with sarcasm dripping from every word.
He spoke until late in the night, telling me the secrets to killing what was apparently called a Ripper. It all made me very uneasy, not for my safety, but for the safety of my friends. I hope they had the sense not to follow me into the crystal pool.

Chapter 4
The Fight

Even with Norman’s preparation, I was very nervous about the fight. My dreams throughout the night were of my companions, and they hadn’t been easy to endure. I was awoken in the early morning, and led by four burly guards to a room at the far end of the dungeon, which was apparently an armory. I was warned against using the weapons against my over-muscled baby sitters and led into the room.
Medieval weapons of every type were hung in racks throughout the room, and as I looked around, a small man with a large mustache stepped forward.
“I am the arms master” he said in a nasally voice, “you may pick any weapon that appeals to you. If you survive, you may keep it.”
On that note he turned and left me to my decision. I started through the room and began to think about what to choose, but my brain didn’t feel like it was firing on all cylinders. The feeling felt somehow familiar and I soon realized why.
It was the same feeling I’d had when I was led to the cave!
I gave up my thoughts and began to follow the calling, which led me to a dusty back corner of the room.
In the corner were many weapons, a rusted axe, a spear with a rotten wood handle, and a nasty looking thing that I could only describe as a giant fishing hook. None of these called to me though. I shoved them aside and was instantly sure I had found it.
Before me sat a wicked black short sword with a polished metal edge. Part of the blade was serrated, and the handle was wrapped in black leather. It sat in behind the grimy, unused weapons, but had not a spot of dust or dirt on it.
I picked it up tenderly, as one would hold a child. It was lighter than I had expected, and looked amazingly sharp. Beneath it sat a scabbard made of black leather; at the top of it one word was stitched artfully in gold, ‘nightfall.’
I turned to the guards and said calmly “I have made my choice.”
“Good,” one of them grunted, “the show can start then.”
I was led back through the castle to a room with a massive wooden door.
“Wait here until door open, then go die” one of the guards said.
Spoken like a true dumbass. I turned to face the giant door as the last guard locked the inner entry. Soon a creaking sound filled the room, and the door began to retract into the ceiling. Behind the door sat a sight that I had only seen in gladiator movies. The arena was a round pit, with a sandy floor, surrounded by stadium seating that was filled to capacity with the bloodthirsty people of the Havens Fall.
Six more wooden doors stood around the pit, all closed for now.
I stepped from the room into the pit and the door was closed behind me, but I wasn’t paying attention to that. Apart from the crowd in a covered booth stood the king, who began speaking as I stepped into the center of the arena.
“This outsider made the mistake of entering our kingdom” he said in that commanding voice. The crowd, who had quieted upon his standing, sat in silence, clearly intimidated by his show of force.
“He will fight for his freedom against one of our most feared creatures, a Ripper!”
The crowds’ reaction turned from learned attentiveness to fear at the mentioning of the creatures name.
This is gonna suck, I thought.
With that, one of the six doors opened, and a creature that seemed to belong in the depths of hell walked out of the hidden room. It stood about eight feet tall, in the rough shape of a man, but with a massive reptilian head that opened to reveal rows of bladelike teeth. Above the mouth four yellow eyes were enclosed by folds of its orange scales. Spines rose down its back like the tips of knives, leading to the tip of its long tail. Its hands and feet were tipped with viscous claws that resembled the sword that hung in a sheath across my back. It had a yellow patch of scales at the base of its neck; this, Norman had told me, was its only weak spot. As I appraised it, it reared its head and roared with enough ferocity to scare some in the crowd into leaving. Then it did exactly what I didn’t want it to do. It charged straight at me.
Not knowing what else to do, I drew my sword, yelled the most menacing battle cry I could muster, and charged right back.
It worked better than I thought. The beast was used to its opponents running or being too afraid to move, so I caught it off guard with the first swipe of my sword, which struck its left shoulder and sank to the bone. I quickly pulled the sword free and barely made it out of the way of its counter attack. It swiped at me with its claws furiously, maddened at being wounded so early in the fight.
I dodged and deflected its attacks with my sword, moving with it instead of running, just as Norman had instructed me. I waited for an opening, but it didn’t come. I could feel myself tiring, but the beast seemed to be getting stronger as we continued our dance to the death in the sandy pit of the arena.
I was very near exhaustion when I saw my chance. The beast had struck out with its head to bite me and instead of blocking; I dove under its snapping jaws, towards the yellow patch of scales that covered its heart.
My blade seemed to drive itself forward, burying itself to the hilt in the creature’s chest. It gave one gasping snarl as I pulled the sword free, before falling down in a heap of blood, scales, and spines in front of me.
The crowd was speechless for a moment before cheering wildly.
I stood in the arena, over the body of the monster I had defeated, listening to the crowds cheers, and I was addicted. My mind went back to the place I had never wanted it to go in the first place, but now it stayed there. All that Norman had told me was pushed to the back of my thoughts, and soon forgotten.
The kings eyes were bright with what I knew was a conniving plan, but I had no cares for that anymore. I was a gladiator
I became a celebrity in the kingdom, the first man to kill a ripper since the old king. I was offered a deal, stay and fight in the arena in the place of the slain beast, and I would have anything my heart desired.
I accepted. And so it came to be that I was cursed.
"I sit in my hole and I shoot people. Running only makes you die tired." -Praz the sniper, Kildar by John Ringo.
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Joined: 26 Oct 2010
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Location: Wheeling, wv

PostPosted: Mon Nov 22, 2010 11:27 am
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Here are a few more chapters, no one seems to have any ideas on it so far....

Chapter 5

“Where are we?” asked Hailey as she stepped out of the small group of trees, and pulled a leaf out of her blonde hair.
“I have no idea” said Jason, “but I can see that Ben isn’t here with us, or Dan, Ashley, or even Jeremy.”
They had entered the room after Ben only to find it empty, and were instantly drawn to the pool. They, like Ben, had been drawn to dive into its crystal depths, and had woken up in a small grove of trees near a small pond to what sounded like a bird singing.
The ‘bird’ had turned out to be a strange cross between a bat and a cat, and had leapt into flight after hissing at them.
“We’re definitely not on the mountain anymore,” said Hailey as she stared across the rolling plain in which the grove of trees sat.
“I don’t think that we are anywhere near the mountain,” said Jason, who had emerged from the trees with their packs in hand.
“We should try to find someone who can help us,” he said, “that way we can figure out where we are.”
“Which way?” asked Hailey, “There isn’t a path or anything.”
They looked in circles on the plain, looking for some sign of human life, when suddenly Jason yelled “I see smoke! There must be a campfire, and that has to mean people!”
“Okay” said Hailey “let’s head that way.”

The two walked for about an hour before they found the source of the smoke. A circle of tents stood around a blazing fire, which was surrounded by a ragged looking group of people that were roasting some sort of animal over the flames.
Hailey and Jason looked at each other once, and without a word Jason went slowly forward into the camp.
“Excuse me” he said, “we seem to have lost our way, could you tell us where we are?”
The members of the group looked between themselves warily, and a few began to talk in hushed tones, before a man came forward to talk to him.
“Where do you come from?” he asked with a voice filled with distrust.
“That’s sort of a long story” said Jason, “and I'm not sure you would believe it if we told you.”
“We are wary of strangers in this part of the kingdom,” the man continued, “please tell us of how you came upon our camp and we will decide from there how to proceed.’
With that, Hailey stepped forward next to Jason.
“I will tell you how we came here” she said, “if you share your dinner.”
This seemed to lighten the man’s mood, and a slight grin appeared on his face.
“Come forward and join then” he said.
He motioned for them to come forward and sit on a log next to him.
“I am called Gaines” he said.
Jason introduced himself and Hailey before asking “where exactly are we?”
The man looked stunned for a moment, before saying “why, you are in the land of Eros of course.”
“Where?” the two said, almost in unison.
Gaines seemed to be struggling for words at hearing this, and he began to look closer at the two and the strange way they dressed. The look on his face showed that he was composing his next words very carefully.
“How did you come to this land?” he asked.
With a quick glance at Jason, Hailey began “well it started out as a camping trip….”
The two told their story to the group, who listened intently and soon, began to move in closer. Gaines sat motionless during the tale, and seemed deep in thought.
After she had finished, he looked at them with a strange, hopeful look on his face.
“It is true” he seemed to choke on his words, and there were tears forming in his eyes as he finished, “the people of the first king have returned.”
The two looked at each other questioningly, before turning to Gaines for inclusion into the tale of the fallen king.
They sat and listened to his tale in the same way the tribe had listened to theirs, and were left speechless when he finished.
Hailey though, was not one to be left speechless for long. “You mean to tell me that we are in some strange world because we jumped into an overgrown puddle inside of a cave after my idiot friend?”
His only response was a simple “I believe so.”
This left them both speechless for a time, until Jason muttered “well that just about frak up my vacation plans.”
For the rest of the night the two sat and listened to Gaines, who told them of the first king’s journey to the land; of his fight in the arena; and of how he united the kingdoms tribes. Then he told of how he was betrayed by Parine, and how he chose four others were to rule over the newly divided kingdom.
He finished the story by telling them that he believed their arrival was no coincidence, and that they were meant to defeat the lands evil overlords, reunite the kingdom, and restore peace to the land.
They were left speechless again, and this time neither of them could find words to argue with Gaines.
“If you are willing” he continued before they could even think of a reaction, “I will lead you to the nearest town for supplies, and from there we can begin our journey to upset their hold over the kingdom.”
“We don’t know anything about what you’re asking of us” said Jason, “we can’t just go and kill some king.”
“I will train you myself” he said. “We will have plenty of time during the journey for you to learn of fighting. Besides that, outsiders are said to be quick learners of our ways.” He said these last words with a small smile on his face, and they could see why. Hope had returned to their world, even if it was an overreaction in Hailey and Jason’s minds.
That night the two were given a tent to sleep in, and when they were finally left alone, began to argue about what to do.
“We should leave” said Hailey, “you know as well as I do that we aren’t the people they expect us to be.”
“I'm not so sure” argued Jason, “what if we are? We could really help these people, and maybe with a bit of hope, they could defeat him without our help!”
They argued their points through the night, with Jason eventually convincing her to go along with them, even if for no other reason than to search for their missing friends.
The two eventually fell asleep, and their dreams were filled with questions concerning the fate of their companions. Neither slept well, and morning came too soon.

Chapter 6
Joining the Circus

The two woke late, or at least late in the minds of the caravans people. Gaines had told them that the people (loosely called a tribe by him) were resistance fighters who masqueraded as a traveling circus, and gave refuge to those brave enough to defy the rulers of the land.
The people seemed to be in high spirits during breakfast, and the two often caught the people staring at them with expectant looks. This was annoying, but at the same time, expected. They had been pegged as saviors of the land, crusaders for the peoples good, and heroes. This made Hailey nervous, because she didn’t think they were, and really didn’t want to stay. Jason on the other hand, had embraced the idea wholeheartedly, and his ego seemed to be growing by the second. He had spent the morning talking to the caravan’s members, and telling them that he would do everything in his power to restore order to their kingdom.
“Will you stop that” Hailey finally snapped.
“What?” he asked, “I was only playing along.”
“No you weren’t”, she said a bit too loudly, “you have let yourself be dragged into their fantasy that we will suddenly turn into knights in shining armor and save them all from the bad things that go bump in the night!”
Some of the onlookers from the caravan had lost the hopeful expressions of the morning and seemed to be appraising them anew. Most went back to looking hopeful, although a few trudged off towards the edge of camp with worried looks on their faces.
The happy couple wasn’t bothered by this though, as they had failed to notice their retreat, and were still heatedly arguing.
“Gaines said that he’d train us to fight!” Jason said in a tone that told Hailey he believed that they could achieve what had been asked of them.
“And what if we aren’t as fast of learners as he thinks we are?” she said back. “Will you ask them if we can delay their grand salvation while we try again?”
The sarcasm seemed to flow in waves from her words, but Jason was undeterred.
“I told them that we will do what is in our power. I think that we can do it, but if we do fail, we won’t be the first to do so.”
Seeing that she wouldn’t be able to talk him out of it, she shook her head and walked away, to start packing for their scheduled trip into town.
Jason, on the other hand, continued to talk to the people of the caravan, trying his best to put on a brave face. ‘Someone has to around here’ he thought.

Chapter 7

{A few weeks later}

I arrived to the trial late, as usual. The king had stated that I wasn’t important at that stage, and that he didn’t need me to be there at all for the trials, but I went anyway. It was a good opportunity to see my opponents before the fight; to view them on a competitive level. There was also something about watching their faces as their fate was decided for them that appealed to me. Maybe it was the feeling that I had faced the same odds, and that this somehow made it even. Maybe it was the cruelty, but I didn’t really know anymore.
I had finally come to the conclusion that I wouldn’t see my friends again, and this bothered me, but I usually drowned out the negative emotions by killing things. I had become very good at that of late. I had defeated seventy-three opponents in the arena. The high number was due to the king’s theory that all crime had one outcome, and the same penalty was given to thieves, murderers, people who didn’t pay the required taxes, the unlucky outsiders who ventured into the kingdom from time to time, and all other alleged criminals he wanted rid of.
I wasn’t bothered at all by this, as it gave me a purpose, as well as providing entertainment for the law abiding (by which I mean the ones able to bribe guards or hide their activities) citizens of the kingdom. For some reason, when people could watch others being punished, they were less prone to being caught committing a crime.
The trial today centered on a middle aged man who had taken part in some illicit gambling (illicit meaning it wasn’t made known to the king, who would have taxed the participants, the proprietors, and the winners until they were all in debt) that had been broken up by the royal guard. He had pleaded with the king for a time, until he finally realized his fate, and now stood silently waiting for the king’s decision.
“I understand you enjoy gambling” said the king, “how about we let your fate fall into chance?”
“What do you mean?” the man asked.
“The rules are simple” explained Lonius, “I will flip a gold coin, and if it lands on the side with the royal castle engraved on it, with its un-decorated side up, you will walk free from the city and never return.”
The convicted man seemed to perk up after hearing this, and soon began agreeing frantically to play.
“But there must be a negative” continued the king.
The man fell silent, and the hopeless expression returned to his face.
“If the coin lands with the castle facing up, and the plain side down, you will fight unarmed in the arena against my champion.”
Hearing this made me sigh. That would ruin the fun in killing unlucky number seventy-four.
The man seemed to think about this for a time, and finally agreed to play.
The king smiled, but his eyes told me that I would get my kill today.
“Than I will do the honor in flipping the coin” the king said.
At that, he flicked his wrist, sending the gold piece in his hand skywards, until it dropped at the prisoner’s feet, bounced once, and spun for a long moment before falling with the castle facing the man.
“So it is settled” the king said in mocking disappointment. “Guards, take him to the arena.”
The man was dragged out of the room with a defeated look on his face as the crowd dispersed from the room to get a good seat for the upcoming fight. When they had all gone, I walked down to where the coin lay and picked it up.
Both sides were decorated by the image of a castle.
“You had better go prepare for the fight” came a call from the king’s booth.
He stood with an evil grin on his face, most likely from his trickery against the convicted gambler.
“It won’t be much of a fight” I said as I walked out of the room.
I killed seventy-four quickly, and as painlessly as I could manage. He deserved that much.
"I sit in my hole and I shoot people. Running only makes you die tired." -Praz the sniper, Kildar by John Ringo.
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 02, 2010 2:59 pm
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Chapter 8

The caravan had moved through a few towns since Hailey and Jason joined it, all of which looked like they had seen better times.
“The king requires a great amount be paid in taxes” Gaines had told them one night, “sometimes the towns just can’t keep up with them, and they begin to fall into shambles.”
The two spent most of their time training, with breaks to watch the de-facto performers amongst the caravan show off their acts for the townspeople, who seemed to be helped immensely by the joyous performance, and almost always left in high spirits.
The training itself was much harder than either had imagined, although Gaines seemed to believe they were picking it up quickly.
Hailey had been presented with an ornately carved bow, with which she was soon a great shot, and a dagger with a white pearl handle. She trained with the circus performer who made trick shots, and was progressing into an artist with the weapon.
Jason had been given a silver long sword, with gold inlay along the center of its blade, and a beautifully carved handle with which he was soon very skilled. He was also given a suit of highly polished armor, the steel of which shone brilliantly in the sunlight.
Upon asking where the weapons had come from, Gaines had replied “they were just some family heirlooms.” Further discussion of the topic was brushed off casually, and training resumed.
Now though, the two stood with Gaines outside of a house in a small town, wondering what the next step in the journey was.
“The woman inside will tell us where to begin our journey” Gaines had told them, “please be polite, she has a bit of a sour attitude at her age.”
That said, he threw knocked on the door three times, before it was opened by a beautiful girl in her twenties with black hair, who looked at Gaines, smiled, and invited him inside.
“Granny has been in a good mood lately” she said, “I should have known that you would turn up again.” She turned to him at this and offered a playful grin.
“I come seeking advice” he replied, “my two friends are Jason and Hailey, and they are the ones that she told of.”
Upon hearing that, she turned to look incredulously at them, and her blue eyes seemed to find something in the pair.
“I will fetch her” she said hurriedly. “Take them to the sitting room and we will be with you in a moment.”
“What aren’t you telling us?” Jason asked after she had left.
“The woman you are about to meet was very close to the first king” he replied, “I believe that she will know more than anyone where to begin.”
He led them to a cozy room deep inside the house, which was decorated with multiple animal skins, and some sturdy looking, if plain, wooden furniture. They sat down to wait, but weren’t kept long. An ancient looking woman walked into the room, with the dark haired girl on her heels, and wasted no time in getting in the pairs faces, studied them intently for a few tense minutes, and finally sat in a chair directly across from them, with her granddaughter seated to her right. Her wrinkled face, surrounded by white hair, curled into a smile, and her deep blue eyes soon took on the same hopeful expression that the caravan members had shown.
“It is true” she said in a distant sounding voice, “you come from the land of my love.”
Hailey and Jason shot a quick glance at each other, and then at Gaines, who shrugged and refused to meet their questioning glares.
“He did not tell you, eh?” asked the old woman with a sad sounding laugh. “The first king of Eros was my husband.”
The two muttered exclamations at the woman’s words, as she looked on. A queen! They had dozens of questions begging for answers, but a look at her face told them to wait. Her gaze told them that she was seeing something years away, and she soon began to tell of her plans.
“Years ago, when I was a young woman, I fell in love with a traveler who came to my village and claimed to be from a different world. Most of my people didn’t believe him, but I did, and I convinced my father to let him stay with us, and he was soon convinced as well. The man told us that he had met an old hermit upon waking up in our world, who told him he had been chosen to unite the many tribes of the land into one great kingdom. He had argued at first, but soon believed what he was told. He began to travel the land, and was able to convince the tribes he met to create a treaty of peace. When he left our village, he had convinced them as well to sign, and gained a companion.”
As she said this a dazed smile came onto her face.
“We continued our journey, gaining strength and proving to the people that our cause would benefit them all. Soon, they had all signed, and the elders of each came to the center of the new kingdom, where a castle was being built, to help advise the newly elected king.”
“And his blushing bride.” Said the girl, with a jovial grin.
The queen didn’t seem to hear her, and the joyous expression soon left her wrinkled face.
“After a time of peace however, the advisors began to meet with strange accidents. I later learned that they were killed by Parine and his followers, who wanted to wrest control of the kingdom from my husband, and to kill us both. I urged him to go into hiding for a time, but he refused. He didn’t want his subjects to think that he feared the threat, and that idea got him killed.”
The room had grown strangely silent at these words, and Hailey had tears in her eyes. The woman’s granddaughter looked awkwardly away from the others gaze, but the queen didn’t show any emotions on her face.
“The secret for defeating Parine lies in his four figureheads.” She continued, “Each one holds part of his power, and killing them will weaken him immensely. You should start with the wicked Lonius, as his temper will make him easy to defeat. Head west to Havens Fall and you will meet with him through fate. An opportunity will present itself for you to defeat him.”
With that, she seemed to snap out of her trance.
“Kali will go with you” she continued, “I am too old to go, but she knows all that I do, and will offer you much wisdom and help.”
The girl, whose name was apparently Kali, looked at the three travelers with what seemed like nervous gratitude. Hailey soon realized that they were her way out, to travel and to adventure.
“It is greatly appreciated…” started Gaines, who was soon stopped by a raised finger from the old woman.
“I warn you all, the journey will not be easy. You will be tested at every point, but I see that you have the potential to accomplish this task, so I wish you the best of luck. Know that I will be watching out for you, and beware, Havens Fall hides a terrible secret within its depths.”
The ancient queen stood and walked out of the room, stopping at the door to turn to Kali and say “take care dear.”
With that the companions were left alone, with their newest member suddenly looking nervous.
“I am packed and ready to leave” she said, “we should travel without the caravan to save time, and to make it easier once we enter Havens Fall.”
This brought questioning looks to Hailey and Jason’s faces. Seeing this, the girl promised to tell them of the town and its reputation for being less than hospitable.
“For now though, we should get started on our way” said Gaines.
Once again, thought Jason, a wrench is thrown into our plans.

Chapter 9

I sat in the kings meeting chamber, angry for being roused from bed so early, and listened to one of the advisors give a report on crime rates or some such.
I usually didn’t have to attend meetings, but I was told something important was up for discussion in this one. I was still pissed due to my lack of sleep though.
“….and so I believe we are making progress into subduing the perpetrators of these crimes within our walls” he finished.
The king nodded, complimented him on his work, and politely told him to get the hell back to his seat.
At least I wasn’t the only irritable person here.
“The kingdoms walls are alive with some illusion that was brought here by an outsider” the king started, “it spreads like a disease, convincing our citizens that I am an evil ruler, and that revolution is coming in the form of a few travelers who plan to upset all that we have worked for.” He glanced at me after saying this. “Do any of you know what this means?!” he asked in a voice that brought chills to his cronies spines.
“But they are only rumors my king, false hopes and illusions surely can do us no harm” said one of them.
“But false hopes are soon believed to be true!” yelled Lonius, “and this could lead to those idiots trying something that they would regret!”
His words brought fear to the advisors, who soon began to worry about being attacked by those that they ruled over.
“We must eliminate this threat before it can do us harm” said one of the brighter ones in the group.
“We must prepare” said another.
“You are both right” answered the king with a sigh, “we will heighten security around the castle, and viewers of our trials will be limited to noble families only.”
Little did he know that this would begin a chain of events that would drag the kingdom into violence.
After the meeting, he dismissed the advisors and asked me if I had heard any of these rumors.
“No,” I said.
“They say that a group of travelers has begun a quest to destroy the four kings of this land, and to take it for themselves.”
“They won’t succeed” I said casually. Arrogance was a big part of the new me.
“I know they wont” he said, “but I must have your word that you are loyal to me, and that you will do everything in your power to stop the threat if need be.”
Odd, he didn’t usually include me in his vision of loyalty. I thought he pictured me more as a source of entertainment. Things seemed to be changing quickly within the castle.
“You have my word” I said. I felt I would regret this later, but how could I say anything else?
As I left the meeting room, it felt like dozens of thoughts swam around in my head, but only one made sense at the time.
‘Go back to bed’ seemed like a good idea anyway.
"I sit in my hole and I shoot people. Running only makes you die tired." -Praz the sniper, Kildar by John Ringo.
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