are led down slender, beautiful halls that are dimly lit.
corridors are full of turn and shadows that seem to be built more to
confuse the human mind, than as a passage to any use. It is carpeted in
deep blue, which seems more to absorb the light than rid the area of the
chill that the stone would place in their bones.
scant bit edgy, Rhandi attempts to make her way to the back of the close
crowd to see how Fredric is doing.
her way to the rear, she bumps into a satiny red male chest the size of a
she mumbles without looking up and moves as if to continue past him.
reaches out a long muscular arm obstructing her passage. "I am sorry
as well, Princess, but I must have a quiet word with you."
nods, peering up into Caleb's thin bearded face and beady eyes, that seem
barely large enough to see over his huge strawberry shaped nose.
think that their Highness' are up to something that bodes ill for all of
us. Your friend did not drink any wine nor spirits with his meal. I was
sitting right across from him the whole of the meal," he whispers
softly to her.
are you telling me this? And why should I believe you?" she hisses
back to him suspiciously.
til yesterday, I was to be executed as an outlaw. So I am, obviously,
expendable to them," he says, jerking his head to the front.
"Therefore, I bear no love for their Royal Dumling Brains and wish to
thwart any plan that they might have."
shrugs and releases the grip on her that he has maintained through out the
why would they just let a criminal go that they are about to
execute?" she queries him.
am rather popular and this can be an execution of another sort. Now, if
you will excuse me, I think that you should go and check on your
companion. It doesn't look right that someone with your station be
speaking to the likes of me," he ends a bit coldly and picks up his
continues to the rear. Walking firmly, so as to appear angry, she heads
straight for the incapacitated Fredric. Grabbing his shirt front and
giving him a tremendous shake, she yells into his cracked eyes, "Wake
up, you fool. How dare you drink so much!"
she draws up her hand and slaps him hard. His head rocks to the side under
the force of her blow. She regrets the necessity, but seriously hopes to
revive him in case that the trouble pending in the air comes into reality.
is obvious, his only response to her assault is a weak moan.
with indecision, as to what to do next, she hears the unmistakable cries
of her companions as they are ambushed by men in the Lord's and Lady's own
is a burst of light, and Jennette's magic throws the company in sharp
relief. She calls back that they are under attack and the badly charred
body of her target drops to the carpet with a dull thud. His useless
fingers release the glowing red hunk of metal that was once his weapon.
His mouth gapes in a horrid silent scream, frozen on his face by death.
aback by the severe death, a soldier falls easy prey to Bost's blade.
Rhandi scoops up the broad sword that the fallen man has dropped.
Swinging it heavily, but skillfully, she tests the edge on one of her
spins to her left just in time to catch the steel of another with her
blade. The heaviness of the sword and that of the strong warrior forms a
deadly mixture for Rhandi, as she sinks to her knees under the weight. She
breathes a silent prayer to whatever Gods might be listening, as she sees
her death in his eyes.
stares in abject horror at the man who would be the instrument of her
death. She takes in the pale blond hair, Teutonic good looks and the
sneering lips delighting in the prospect of her death.
those gleefully twisted lips curl with pain, she searches in confusion for
the cause of her rescue. Unsure of how she has escaped the cold clutches
of the underworld, she sees the man's face turn blue and his eyes start to
her gaze away, unable to look any longer, she views the thin white hands
that are wrapped around the throat of the enemy. She follows those hands
to the man whom has saved her life and now has her eternal gratitude: Leon
who is tangling with a big brute of a man, is armed only with her meat
knife. The hairy creature that she is up against no longer has a weapon,
but is not fighting a long skirt and a full set of petticoats either.
of an easy victory over a woman that he has lusted over and been ignored
by for years, he lunges at her. He has underestimated her, for he finds
himself flying to the floor. With a growl of sheer rage, he jumps up and
pounces on her.
hits the ground hard and the breath is knocked out of her body. Fighting
for air, she draws her knee up as hard and as fast as she is able.
Grunting he rolls off her and grabs at his insulted anatomy.
picks herself up, and catching her breath, she scurries over to the man
that she recognizes as Thomas McPherson. Seeing that the rest of the
ambush has more or less been completely put down, Sarrette places her
knife at Thomas' jugular and asks him the particulars of the attack.
… won't … talk," Thomas moans through clenched teeth. Stupid
wench, how dare she treat him like this, he thinks in rage.
is your Senior Officer, McPherson. Answer her, you worthless coward,"
Bost orders as he kicks the downed man hard in the ribs with a mixture of
rage and disgust.
him." Rhandi interjects as she joins them with their captive.
"We all know that the Lord and Lady are behind this and now they have
disappeared. Let's get out of here. I hear reinforcements coming and there
sounds like there are plenty of them."
sound of booted feet and the clang of arms echo down the hall.
know much about these corridors." Bost speaks up. "So, if you
all would please follow me, this passage will lead to the surface."
should we do with him?" questions Sarrette.
me, perhaps, in cold blood." Thomas sneers.
like a marvelous idea. We don't have time to talk to him and I don't want
him at our back. Slice his throat and lets' go."
we can't go to the surface. We must see Astrid." Jennette speaks out
time for that now. They are coming closer. This way." Bost directs.
dashes down the path behind Bost. They grab all the weapons within reach
on their way out. And Jannette casts a light so that all may see where
they are headed. About ten or fifteen minutes later, gasping for air, they
come to a halt.
now, is it a dead end?" Caleb asks.
no, it is not!" Bost states as he kneels down against the far wall.
He feels along the bottom edge, and with an audible click, the wall swings
open and reveals another corridor. After everyone is through, Bost closes
the doorway behind them.
guess, we can take our time now. They will never find us this way,"
The newly revived Fredric says with weak relief.
is not so. I know about these passage and so might others."
right. So, which way do we go?" Sarrette asks as she faces three
passages leading in three different directions.
all go up, but the one on the left is the least hazardous," Bost
do you know so much and why should we believe you?" Fredric eyes him
don't have any choice and I will make whatever explanations, that I care
to make, later. There is not much time, they are right on the other
side." Bost starts to the left as a loud clanging begins on the other
side of the way.
go by, maybe twenty, maybe more, the company has no way to be sure. Behind
them the sound of feet and loud voices and in front of them is another
sound. The sound of an animal crying in the throws of death and the
beastly growls of a creature feeding.
seizes the small group. They glance around to each other, unsure of which
direction holds a better chance.
dowse that light."Rhandi orders, taking charge."Everyone get up
against the sides and draw your weapons. Once their lights hit us and they
are within reach, attack. And pray to whatever Gods that you hold dear
that there aren't many of them."
can't be far ahead, if they have gone this way. And, remember, the drugs
in their food will have worn off by now, so don't expect them to be
soft," a male voice commands, not far from their present position.
seven await the confrontation tensely. They grip their weapons tightly as
the glow in the distance slowly brightens. Although, the soldiers haven't
spotted them, yet, they can see that there are ten of them in the gloom.
The soldiers are getting closer.
reaches out with her blade and slices the throat of the lead man before he
can call out. Taking advantage of the surprised guards, Rhandi and Bost
jump into the fray killing two more of their opponents. The remaining
enemy ready their weapons and attack, they are no longer unsure of what to
sharp." Bost calls out."They are ready for us now."
grasps his ham like hands around the hilt of the broadsword that he had
lifted from the dead earlier, and charges in with a loud roar. He tears
through them like a madman, slashing into flesh and deflecting blows.
Caleb reaches the end of the rabble, and with no thought to the many
injuries that he has incurred, Starts back in.
the weaponless Fredric finds himself confronted by a short burly man with
a very sharp sword. Fredric backs up as the sword is raised at him. He
swings and Fredric ducks. The blade whistles over his head. As the guard
extends his arm with the failed stroke, Fredric reaches up with both
of his hands and snaps the man's sword arm.
soldier drops his weapon as his nerveless fingers open wide. Then Fredric
grasps the man's head and bashes it in with his knee, knocking the man
out. The battle ends when the last two soldiers, no more than fourteen or
fifteen years of age, drop their weapons in fear and run past the company.
Pushing aside those that attempt to hold them, they dash out of sight. The
companions look at each other in fear, as terrible noises and loud
horrible screams echo down the passage in front of them. They all wonder
what kind of beast lies in the path ahead.
is hurt?" Bost asks.
has some nasty cuts." Leon points out.
I do!" Caleb exclaims in surprise.
if there is nothing wrong with you, tend to him," Bost orders.
think that my wrist might be broken," Jannette calls out.
can't keep you in one piece, can we!" Rhandi replies, as she and
Fredric go over to tend her.
that is all, I'll take Sarrette and see what that thing in front of us is.
Sarrette, are you able?"
Sir," she answers crisply, and with that she takes up one of the
we are not back in twenty minutes, I want all of you to turn around and
give one of the other passages a try."
they leave, Fredric and Rhandi assess the damage to Jannette.
doesn't seem to be broken after all. It looks like you have just sprained
it." Fredric informs her.
see if there is anything that we can make a sling out of, so that she can
keep it elevated," Rhandi says in an attempt to be helpful.
bother, I'll just use a piece of my cape," he says as he rips off a
piece on the bottom.
gallant of you, Fredric. But we could have used my scarf, instead, of
tearing up your fine clothes," Jannette says trying to ignore her
you tell me." He smiles back at his patient.
bad is Caleb?" Rhandi inquires as she approaches Leon.
as bad as I first thought, but he has lost a lot of blood," Leon
am fine. Don't listen to him. I am as strong as a bull," Caleb cuts
as full of it, too. Now hold still, so that I can stitch you up
here," Leon tells him as he bends over a rather nasty slash on his
hold real still, if you would quit jabbing at me with that needle."
baby. I wouldn't have to be doing this if you would use some common sense.
You will have to remember that they are armed, too."
two always talk to each other like this?" Rhandi asks curiously.
around like this?"
when it hurts," Caleb replies with a big, boyish grin, out of place
on such a large and older man.
listen to him, Rhandi. He is like this when it hurts, doesn't hurt,
when he is drunk, when he is sober..." Leon butts in.
leave off will you. You'll give the Lady a bad impression of me. Sober,
don't think that a bad impression is possible. Leon, how much longer will
it take to sew him back together?"
say exactly, But it will take a lot longer than Bost's twenty minutes.
Caleb's got a lot of holes."
scratches." He cracks, as he passes out.
told him that he lost a lot of blood," Leon says, shaking his head.
"Well, maybe, he will hold still now."
right, put him together. Do you have an extra needle? I could give you a
hand with this." She offers as she looks over a cut on Caleb's
so," he says, patting his pockets. He finds what he is looking for
and pulls out a little medical kit "Here."
always carry this around with you?" Rhandi comments.
all the time. My Dad was going to study medicine, but his brother died and
so, instead, he had to study things that were important to the
title," he says a little sadly. "What about you? Not too many
princesses go around sewing people up."
am a warrior, even if my parents don't quite approve. And a warrior needs
to know how to repair the damage she does. Right?"
but what if you kill someone?" he teases her.
guess that I will have to work that one out in my next life. Do you have
any more thread? I am out."
stares at them in jealousy, wishing that he was the one with enough
station to be laughing and joking with Rhandi as equals. It wasn't fair.
That upstart young Lord could even marry Rhandi, if he and she both
wished, and he could never even hope for that.
is wrong?" Jannette asks him, rather concerned.
he replies with a false sense of cheer.
can tell me. I know that we don't know each other real well, but I am
willing to listen."
I told you, Your Highness, nothing is the matter. Now if you will please
excuse me, Your Ladyship, I am going to look out for the look out
know what his problem is, even if he won't admit it,
Janette thinks to herself, as she looks at her cousin.
am almost done here, just need a little bit more thread," Rhandi tell
worry about it. Just give me a minute to tie this off and I will get that
for you," Leon says gratefully. "Thanks for the help. I really
needed it. Oh no, the big lug is waking up."
wonder where Bost and Sarrette are. They should have been back by
now." Jannette interrupts as she approaches them.
right. They are late. Do you think that we should try another
tunnel?" Leon asks.
don't see why we should. Bost is not in charge. He is only a captain.
Besides, didn't he say that this one is the least dangerous?" Fredric
interjects. "I ran ahead to see if they were coming, but I didn't see
any sign of them or of that monster."
must not have looked too far for us," Bost says as he comes up behind
them. Bost and Sarrette are loaded down with supplies. "We followed
the creature back to its lair and then we doubled back and picked up a few
things that I thought that we might need. We, also, went to see
did you do all of that so quickly?" Fredric asks him, even more
suspicious of him than ever.
chamber is directly below us. And there are a lot of supply caches around
here. Does that satisfy you?" Bost tells Fredric, rather annoyed.
Astrid is below us, then we must go to her," Janette interrupts
is too well-guarded. We were lucky to have gotten in and out as easily as
we did. Anyway, I have what she wanted to give to you." Walking over
to Jannette, he reaches into an inside pocket and removes a small box. He
then places it into her hands reverently. "Since you believe in her
the most, she thought that it was only fitting that you should have this.
examines the box carefully. It is carved intricately into the crest of the
Lynis royalty. She slides back the lid and look inside. There appears an
image of a beautiful woman, the same as the one in her dream. She is a
breathtaking blond, dressed in rich green clothes with a silver crown,
marking her as the Princess Astrid, the rightful ruler of all of their
not be alarmed. This is only an image of me," a soft feminine voice
whispers and, at the same time, seems to echo. "In this case you
shall find the Ring of Life. Do not wear it on the surface. If you do so,
it will radiate a beacon that Morag can intercept. You will no longer see
me in this life, for the only thing that kept me bound here, was the power
of this ring. Good Luck. I shall be watching you, in whatever awaits me in
image quickly fades and all that is left in the box is a small blue velvet
slowly opens the pouch and dumps the contents into her sweaty shaking
palm. Two rings fall out and a yellow parchment scroll. Jannette opens the
scroll and looks it over. Her eyes widen in surprise.
does it say?" Rhandi inquires softly. When Jannette remains silent,
Rhandi reaches over and takes the paper from her.
reads it slowly and then summarizes the minute writing. "It says that
the ruby ring with the Lynis crest is for Bost. Furthermore, he is the
heir to this underground kingdom and the descendant of the offspring of
Astrid. She, also, claims that our lands are his, as well."
guess, that makes you a, or rather, The King," Caleb states, a little
stunned. "What are you going to do about their lands?"
don't know. But I do know, that I can't possibly rule all of this
'property' alone. They and their parents must rule these lands for me and
I must take my rightful place here."
will make a wiser ruler, Your Majesty, if you know your limitations. Here
is your ring." Jannette removes his ring from the other one and hands
it over to him and then she puts the other ring back in its case.
she does she can't help but notice that the stone looks like a blue cats'
eye. Rhandi rolls the scroll back up and hands it over to him, so that he
can prove his case.