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  1. #31
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    Scene 97

    As we hurried in the direction of the lake, the trees began to thin, but the terrain became rougher, with large outcroppings of rock channeling our progress.

    The two priests kept the creatures of the shadows at bay, but their attacks served to slow us even more.

    Then we heard the howls.

    “What’s that?” James asked, the fear obvious on his face.

    Father David glanced quickly at Father Trefor, who listened carefully before nodding. “I’m afraid it is not good news. Those are werewolves.”

    I listened more closely. “They’re in front of us.”

    Father David nodded. “They seek to block our path.” New howls came from behind us. “And any retreat, as well.”

    “Can you keep them back?” I asked.

    Father Trefor shook his head. “No, they are cursed humans, not creatures of necromancy.”

    “What does that mean?”

    Father David looked worried. “It means that we need other tools to stop them, tools we do not have. We can only hope to avoid them.”

    “How, they’re blocking our path.”

    “Indeed, they are.” He quickly looked around for another path and then pointed to our right. “There, we can go that way.”

    We all moved in the direction he indicated. The path took us over the rocks and through narrow passes. Even moving as quickly as we could, the howls were coming closer.

    We passed through a narrow gap and the terrain opened up in front of us. The lake could be seen ahead. Unfortunately, it sounded as though the wolves were almost upon us.

    Looking back, I could see that Gerald had stopped and turned around. I stopped as well and called back to him. “Gerald, come on! We’ll be there soon!”

    “Keep moving!” he answered. “We can’t outrun them. You’re only hope is if I face them.”

    “Gerald, there are too many! You can’t stop them all!” Father David told him.

    Gerald took a deep breath, as if readying himself. “If I meet them at the gap, only a few at a time can attack me.” He paused for a moment. “And I release the beast.”

    “Gerald, no!” Father Trefor cried with horror.

    “I have to Father. It’s the only way David can continue. He has to succeed.”

    “But Gerald,” Father Trefor started, but Gerald cut him off.

    “Get him out of here, David! Once I release the beast, I may not be able to control it. You’re all in danger if stay here.”

    We grabbed Father Trefor, but he resisted. “Gerald!” he pleaded.

    Gerald looked back at him and we could see the tears in his eyes. “I’m sorry, Father. Thank you for everything you’ve done for me.” The young man started to transform, but this time he continued to grow, far beyond his normal dog form, beyond that of a wolf, until he was the size of a large bear.

    “Go!” he commanded, and we could see him struggling to maintain control.
    We're fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance. - Japanese Proverb

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  3. #32
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    Scene 98

    We left the sounds of animalistic slaughter behind us and moved as quickly as we could in the direction of the lake. As we crested the hill, we were brought up short by the scene before us.

    The valley that we had to cross was filled with creatures, all of them walking on two feet like a man, but far from human. These were creatures that could only be described as lizard men.

    “What are those!” James choked out.

    “They look like something from a movie, something evolved on another world,” I answered.

    “How will we get through them?” Father David asked. “There are too many.”

    “And too far to go around,” I replied. “There must be hundreds of them.”

    “So, we give up?” James asked.

    “We can’t! Too much depends on this. Too many people have sacrificed everything to get us here. We have to get through them somehow.”

    At that moment, the sound of a horn being blown drew our attention. On the hills around us, hundreds of men suddenly stood. These men were all primitive in appearance, almost bestial, and they all were wielding spears and clubs.

    “Where did they come from?” asked Father David.

    “A friend,” I replied and pointed to the central figure. There, riding atop what could only be described as a triceratops, was Ron, blowing his horn and holding his spear high above his head.
    Ron blew the horn again and thrust his spear forward. As one, the horde of men charged down the hillside toward the lizard men.

    The two forces met in bloody combat, both men and lizard men fighting, killing, and dying.

    But as we watched, it became apparent that the men were directing the battle, forcing the lizard men to part.

    “There, that’s our route!” I said. “Let’s go!”

    But as we started, Father Trefor held back.

    I turned back to him. “Trefor?”

    The priest shook his head. “I can’t go with you, David. I have to go back.”

    “What do you mean? You know what Gerald said. He won’t be able to control himself.”

    “I have to try, David. I’ve watched him for years, helped him through his struggles. He’s like a son to me, David. I can’t abandon him now, just when he needs me most!”

    “Trefor, I can’t just…”

    “David, I have to! You have your mission. Go! Complete it. Save the worlds, all of them. I will just slow you down. But I can help him. I have to do this! I have to try to save a young man’s soul.”

    “But Trefor, it’s too dangerous to go alone!”

    Father David interrupted. “He won’t be alone!” When we turned to look at him, he continued. “What about it, old friend? We do this together, just like the old times.”

    “There’s no one I would rather have at my side, my friend. Thank you,” said Trefor.

    Father David turned back to me. “Go, David. Your friend has made a path for you. May God be with you, my brother.”

    I looked back and forth between the two men and then nodded. “God be with you too. Come on. James! We have a mission to complete.”
    We're fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance. - Japanese Proverb

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  5. #33
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    Scene 99

    We ran down the path that Ron and his forces had cleared for us. Occasionally a lizard man would move to attack us, only to be blocked by one of the wild men helping us. The battle was brutal and bloody, but we passed through unharmed.

    Cresting the hill, we stopped short as we saw another group of lizard men ahead of us. Over a hundred of the creatures blocked our path and were heading our way.

    James and I frantically looked for an escape route, when suddenly the escape came to us.

    Sounds of gunfire and energy weapons erupted from behind the lizard men, who turned to face the new threat. Some of them rushed to attack the new danger, only to be cut down by the devastating weapons.

    A small group of men rushed to us and the leader greeted us in his French accent. “Mr. Dove, good, we got to you!” Robert proclaimed. “Hurry! We must get you to the Lady Chrystel! She waits for us at the shore. Where are the rest of your group?”

    He must have seen my sad expression. “I’m sorry,” he said, “but we have no time to mourn now. We must hurry!”

    We let Robert and his men lead us down the hill and across the beach. There, at a small dock, was his ship.

    “On board, quickly!” he ordered. “The forces of the Inquisition are on their way. We must get you across the lake!”
    Last edited by davedove; 23rd August 20 at 06:23 AM.
    We're fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance. - Japanese Proverb

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  7. #34
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    Scene 100

    As we scrambled aboard, we were rocked by the detonation of a shell nearby.

    “Cast off!” Robert ordered, as we all looked around for the new threat.

    Coming across the lake were several small ships, each of them firing their guns. Fortunately, they did not block our route to the island.

    “Full speed!” Robert ordered. “We have to outrun them!”

    “How can we help?” I asked.

    “Keep your head down, my friend! You must be ready to disembark the moment we reach the island. Those are Inquisition ships. They will not stop until they catch you.”

    James and I hunkered down and watched the action around us. The shells from the Inquisition ships hit all around our own, large plumes of water erupting from the explosions.

    Looking the other way, the island fortress loomed before us. We rapidly approached, but how would we slow down long enough to disembark.

    Robert came back to us and handed each of us a lifesaving buoy. “Here, I am afraid we will not be able to stop. We will get as close as we can. You will have to swim to reach the island.”

    “Swim?” James asked in disbelief.

    “Yes, swim! If we stop, the Inquisition will target us easily. This way you still have a chance.”

    “What about you?” I asked Robert.

    He looked around at his crew. “We will try to draw them away from you. Hopefully, that will give you extra time.”

    I looked at him, another person willing to risk everything to get me to my objective. “Good luck, my friend.”

    He smiled sadly. “And to you. The Lady Chrystel is faster than their ships, but we do not have guns like they do.”

    I understood what he was implying. It was only a matter of time until one of the shells found their mark.

    He looked past me. “Be ready! We are nearing the island.”

    James and I grabbed out floats and waited at the edge of the deck. Our ship headed directly towards the island and then suddenly turned aside.

    “Now!” Robert ordered.

    We both jumped into the cold water. As I surfaced, I looked back. The Lady Chrystel sped away from us and I noticed that the Inquisition ships had turned to follow.

    James had surfaced beside me and we both floated in the choppy water.

    “Come on,” I said, as I started swimming to the shore.
    We're fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance. - Japanese Proverb

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  9. #35
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    Scene 101

    We had to keep low as we pulled ourselves onto the rocky beach, as there were guards everywhere. Fortunately, the overcast skies and heavy mists hid our presence.

    “What now?” James asked.

    “We need to get into the fortress,” I replied. “Look around for a door or gate or anything like that.”

    We quickly moved to a position shielded by several large boulders, that gave us some concealment as we searched the hillside for a way inside.

    “Over there!” James said, as he pointed to the hillside.

    There a set of steel doors was set into the rock, so we moved that way as stealthily as we could. Unfortunately, luck was not with us. We must have triggered an alarm, because sirens began sounding.

    “Hurry!” I told James. “We need to get inside now!”

    We frantically searched all around the doors but couldn’t find any way to open them.

    “David, they’ve spotted us!” James said.

    I looked where he pointed and saw a group of guards moving our way. “Crap! How do we get into this place?”

    And then something in my pocket began to vibrate.
    We're fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance. - Japanese Proverb

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  11. #36
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    Scene 102

    I reached into my pocket and pulled out the buzzing device, the phone that I had picked up in the ultra-religious, cybernetic world. Who could be calling on it? Better yet, how was it still working after our swim through the waters of the lake.

    I pushed the talk button on the screen. “Hello?”

    “By the grace of God, it worked!” came the relieved voice.

    “Sister Cynthia?”

    “Yes, David, I’m here with Father Darius.”

    “Hello, brother!” I heard another voice call out over the phone, a voice just like my own.

    “There isn’t much time!” Cynthia continued. “The Inquisition has tracked down our building and they are just outside trying to get in. We’re trying to help you, but we can’t locate you.
    This phone was our only hope. Where are you?”

    “We’re on the island with the Emperor’s fortress, trying to get in, but we can’t! And we don’t have much time. Guards have spotted us!”

    “Are there any doors around?”

    “We’re standing right in front of one, but there’s no way to open it!”

    “Look around! Are there any signs? Any markings?”

    “Look for markings!” I ordered James.

    We both looked frantically, knowing the guards were getting closer with each second.

    “There, above the door!” James called out, pointing.

    I read the numbers and carefully spoke into the phone, “Zero, five, delta, delta!”

    “Got it!” I heard Cynthia say and the heard her repeat the numbers to the person with her.

    I heard a loud thump as the gears activated and the doors began to open. A small gap appeared as they separated.

    The guards must have seen it too, as they began to fire their weapons at us.

    “Inside!” I ordered as the gap was wide enough for a human and James slipped inside.

    “Cynthia, close the door!” I yelled into phone as I followed.

    Gunfire continued to pepper the doors as they closed behind us.

    “Cynthia, we’re inside!” I reported.

    But instead of a reply, all I heard from the phone was the crash of a door being broken and the yells of many people.

    “Cynthia!” I yelled, but the phone had gone silent.
    We're fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance. - Japanese Proverb

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  13. #37
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    Scene 103

    In contrast to the shining metal doors we had entered, the interior was much more primitive. We found ourselves in a roughly hewn tunnel, with torches spaced along the wall to provide a dim illumination.

    “Let’s go!” I said to James and we made our way slowly down the tunnel, until it branched.

    I looked down each of the two branches, trying to decide which path we should take.

    “Which way?” James asked.

    “I don’t know. They both look about the same to me. Either one could be the right path, or the wrong one, for that matter.”

    “What about this way?” James pointed down the corridor to the right.

    I shrugged my shoulders. “It’s a choice. Let’s go.”

    We slowly made our way to the right, listening carefully for any activity, all the while hoping to find some clue on where to go.

    I could see that the passage opened into a room ahead. “We need to be careful,” I warned James. “There could be guards in there.”

    James nodded and followed closely behind me.

    I crept closer and peered into the room. About twenty guards were seated around tables, discussing something.

    I eased back and whispered to James, “About twenty guards, we’re going to have to backtrack.”

    James shook his head. “Guards!” he yelled out. “He’s over here!”

    “What are you doing?” I asked in disbelief. I could hear the guards moving into action.

    “Turning you in!” he said with a sneer. “They didn’t think I could get you here alone, but I did it.”

    The guards quickly surrounded us.

    I was still trying to wrap my head around the situation. “James, what are you talking about? Why are you doing this?”

    James chuckled. “Why? Because you were sent to stop us!”

    “But you were one of us!”

    He laughed again. “Oh, you bought my act completely. I was put into position for that. I even let them beat me, stick me in that prison, so it looked convincing. I wasn’t sure it would work, but somehow your companions fell to the wayside, one by one, until it was only you. The Chancellor will have to eat his words for doubting my plan.”

    Whatever James’s plan was, I had fallen right into it. I looked around at the guards. “What now?”

    “Now, we take you to see the Emperor. He’s waiting for you.”

    “Take him to the throne room!” he ordered the guards.

    “Yes, Minister!” the leader responded.

    “Minister?” I asked.

    “Yes, Mr. Dove,” James answered. “I am the Minister of Propaganda for the Emperor of the North and you are now our prisoner.”
    We're fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance. - Japanese Proverb

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  15. #38
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    Aha! I wondered when the double dealing and skullduggery was going to start!
    " Rules are for the guidance of wise men and the adherence of idle minds and minor tyrants". Field Marshal Lord Slim.

  16. #39
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    Wa, ha, ha!!!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Jock Scot View Post
    Aha! I wondered when the double dealing and skullduggery was going to start!
    We're fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance. - Japanese Proverb

  17. #40
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    Zounds - and gadzooks.
    The bounder!
    I presume to dictate to no man what he shall eat or drink or wherewithal he shall be clothed."
    -- The Hon. Stuart Ruaidri Erskine, The Kilt & How to Wear It, 1901.

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