PDA

View Full Version : Fanfic: Destiny Crystal


Alakazam
09-17-2004, 01:06 AM
This is my original fanfic that I posted at the old forum. It's not done, but at least the first 20 chapters are. Enjoy!

BTW: This fic is rated PG-13 (Parental Guidence suggested, lol) for violence and mild language.

Table of Contents (to be updated as chapters are added):

I: Nightmare of Horror! Premonitions of Death
II: A Feline and an Encounter! Under the Mountains
II: Refugee from the Sky! Troubled Waters
IV: Abduction! Tale of the Lone Huntress
V: Battle atop Balon Tower! Wrath of the Marauder
VI: Journey through the Forest! A Violent Ambush

---

[Chapter I: Nightmare of Horror! Premonitions of Death]

Footsteps…footsteps echoed on the cold stone floor. Out of the dark passageway two soldiers, dressed in chain mail, stepped into the flickering light of two torches. They addressed another knight that seemed to be waiting for them.
“The commander will see you now.” the first guard said. Both guards took up their posts on either side of the doorway, and the knight started down the long, dark, passageway. He stepped into a room where the commander awaited.
“Brian!” the commander addressed.
“Yes, sir!” Brian replied.
“I shall now commence with your briefing.”
“Of course.”
“Three days ago, General Onago led a platoon into the Temple of Light. His objective was to take prisoner the Forest Sprite, the pure essence of nature and life itself…a power so vast and potent that it could wipe out our adversaries in the blink of an eye. Anyway, Onago and his platoon have not yet returned. Your objectives are: 1. Infiltrate the Temple of Light. 2. If the platoon is unable to complete their objectives, then you will.” the commander explained, “Am I understood?”
“Yes, sir!” Brian replied.
“Good, you will be accompanied by these three soldiers.”
Three soldiers, in similar garb as Brian, walked into the room.
“Now, take the back door and go through the forest.” the commander said, turning to Brian, “Brief them en route.”
“Yes, sir.” Brian complied.
Brian led the three down another hallway, leading out of the fort.
“Lieutenant, sir! What are our objectives?” one of the three men asked in a monotone.
“Do you know of General Onago?” Brian shot back causally.
“Of course.” the other two chimed in simultaneously.
“Well, he was sent out to capture the Forest Sprite, yet he hasn’t come back. We’re gonna see what went wrong.” Brian explained briefly.
“Understood.” the first soldier confirmed; the other two nodded in concurrence
The hallway ended abruptly, and the four ascended a twisting staircase. As they reached the top, a dim light illuminated the stone staircase. They stepped out into the forest.
Dawn was fast approaching. They followed the path in front of them, which was said to lead to the temple. The forest at twilight was truly a sight to behold. As they approached the temple, the sun came up behind it. The temple was enwreathed in light; Brian struggled to see.
They entered the temple, and approached the raised area in the center. As Brian and the others were ascending the steps, the Forest Sprite came into view. Opposite her was a tall, brown haired man. He bore a dark green cape and brown garb. On his belt was a scabbard, undoubtedly holding a fine blade.
“How may I be of service?” the sprite asked the man in a soft, gentle voice.
“You may die.” the man grabbed her head, and lifted her up. “This great power you possess…it shall be mine!” he exclaimed, as he head; blood trickled to the floor.
The sprite shined with power, and that light was transferred to the man. A powerful aura exuded from the man, a magnificent power never before felt by a human.
“Onago! What are you doing?” one of the other three soldiers under his command demanded.
“Silence!” Onago unsheathed his sword, and tossed it at the ironclad soldier.
It flew across the room, and, blade first, stuck right through his head. He dropped to his knees, and collapsed, devoid of life. Onago walked over to the fallen soldier, and pulled the blade from his skull.
“Now, to dispose of this refuse…” Onago said, walking back to the injured sprite. She began to crawl away. “Where do you think you’re going?” He pinned her ankle to the floor with his sword, striking a pressure point. The blood drained from her face, becoming deathly pale.
The two remaining soldiers under Onago and the three who were with Brian advanced towards Onago, but Brian did not.
“No, wait!” Brian exclaimed in a loud whisper.
One of the soldiers worked up the courage to speak. “You’re under arrest!”
“Am I?” asked Onago sarcastically, pulling his sword out of the lifeless sprite’s leg.
The soldiers lined up, in an attempt to intimidate Onago. He lifted his sword, and swung it, cutting horizontally. The blade sliced across the five soldiers midsections; they all fell to the floor in two pieces.
Brian had seen enough. He walked towards Onago, stepping over the bloody remains of his comrades.
“Onago…” Brian murmured.
“Goodbye.” Onago stuck his sword through Brian’s chest; he fell to his knees, and the blade was removed. His head began to swim, and the pain was unbearable. And the, everything went black.

[To be continued...]

Alakazam
09-17-2004, 02:37 PM
[Chapter I: Nightmare of Horror! Premonitions of Death] , continued

“Brian…”

“Brian...”

“Brian, are you getting up today?”

Brian sat up in bed, sweat rolling down his face. It was a dream, yet it had seemed so real…and then, he remembered. Today was his seventeenth birthday. He got out of bed, got dressed, and walked downstairs to the kitchen. His parents were waiting.
“I was starting to think you weren’t going to wake up.” his mother said, “Happy Birthday!”
“Thanks.” Brian replied.
Not wanting to burden his parents, he did not mention his dream.
“A messenger came by earlier for you. Master Samu wants to meet with you this morning.” Brian’s mother explained
“Thanks mom.” Brian replied quickly.
He ran upstairs, grabbed his sword, and went out the door.
“What about breakfast?” Brian’s mother asked; by the time she said it, he was already gone.
He sprinted down the path to the house of the village elder, Master Samu, his sensei as he had for nearly nine years, the majority of his life. He has been training in the ways of a warrior since he was eight years old. Ever since he was born, Brian’s parents sensed a great potential within their firstborn, and had an insatiable desire to see that it didn’t go to waste. So, on his eight birthday, Samu, the village elder and seasoned warrior agreed to take Brian on as a student, and teach him the ways of the sword.
As Brian approached the building, an old man appeared in the doorway.
“Good morning, Brian.” The man greeted warmly.
“Good morning, Master.” Brian replied as he reached the door.’
“Happy Birthday, please come in.” the elder answered.
“Thank you.” Brian walked past his sensei into the house.
Samu closed the door, and walked into the main room behind Brian.
“Brian. Today is your day. The day you turn seventeen, and your training draws to a close. You have been an exceptional student; I have only one more lesson to teach you.” Master Samu explained.
“Yes, sensei?” Brian inquired.
“I shall teach you to wield the power of fire.” the Master announced. He closed his eyes, and a flaming spark appeared in his hand. It grew, and became a fireball.
“Catch!” Samu threw the fireball at Brian. He reacted quickly, reaching for his sword, unsheathing it as it grew near. He hit the fireball back towards his sensei with the blade. Samu hit it back at Brian with his hand. Brian once again used his sword to deflect it. But this time, he used much more force. Master Samu jumped; the fireball flew past him, and landed in the fireplace on the other side of the room. Samu landed on his feet.
“Well done.” Master Samu praised, “Now it’s your turn. Close your eyes, and focus. Clear your mind of all thoughts.”
Brian closed his eyes, and tried to focus. It was apparent to both of them that Brian was unable to.
“I sense that you are daunted by something.” the master observed.
“I had a horrible dream last night.” Brian replied, opening his eyes.
“Ah, dreams…a subconscious extension of the human mind.” Master Samu pondered, “What was it about?”
“Well, I was a soldier, and I was sent on a mission to the Temple of Light.” Brian began.
“Hmm…” Samu interrupted pensively.
“You know of it?” Brian wondered aloud, very surprised that the place he had conjured in his mind may seem familiar to others.
“Please, continue.”
“I led a platoon of our, and a horrible scene ensued. The general of the platoon that was already at the temple mercilessly killed every member of his platoon and mine. And then, he killed me too…” Brian continued.
“It is a black omen.” the elder answered.
All of a sudden, three explosions shook the building.
“What’s going on?” Brian exclaimed, “I’m going to find out.”
Brian ran out of the building. But, despite his quick reaction, by the time Brian left the building, it was already too late. What he saw before him was terrifying. All the buildings were ablaze; bloody corpses lay in the street. His beloved village of Moroda was burning before his eyes. That day was of the most traumatic in Brian’s life.
“Who did this?” Brian thought to himself.
He walked towards the center of the village. A tall, brown haired man turned to face him. In his hand he held a sword, dripping in blood. Brian held him a cold stare.
“What do you want, boy?” the man demanded.
“That cape, that hair, that blood-stained blade…he is the one from my dream!” Brian thought.
“You…you’re Onago!” Brian replied.
“How do you know my name?” Onago exclaimed.
“You wouldn’t understand. Leave. Leave this village…now!” Brian shot back with great fury.
“Heh, heh, heh. Oh I’ll leave all right. Just don’t think I’m leaving because you told me to. I’ll be back one day, and the last survivors of this village shall die a slow and painful death.” Onago proclaimed, as he faded away, disappearing.
“Where’d he go?” Brian wondered, looking around.
Brian stopped, as if he remembered something of utmost importance. He ran to his house, and threw open the door.
“Mother! Father!” Brian screamed.
Brian’s mother and father were laying in a pool of blood on the door, slashed mercilessly with a sword, undoubtedly Onago’s. And, next to them the corpse of the village elder lay. The three most important people in Brian’s life lay before him, lifeless, murdered. At first Brian could not believe what was happening; everything seemed to be happening so rapidly. It was only a mere hour ago that he said good morning to his parents after oversleeping.
“It can’t be…it just can’t be. Mother…Father…Master…I can’t believe this is happening.” Brian cried softly.
For an immeasurable length of time Brian knelt on the blood-soaked floor next to the bodies of the three people who he loved most, had cared for since before he could remember. He depended on them for support, advise, and comfort…but then they were gone. After a time, Brian’s sorrowful, confused feelings of pain and suffering turned into anger. All of his negative thoughts became focused on one person: the murderer of his parents and sensei. He finally began to accept the fact that his parents were no longer of this world, and he stood on his feet with stalwart determination and passion in his eyes.
“No!!” he screamed with the utmost of agonizing anguish and sorrowful pain. “Onago! I will hunt you down! I will find you, and you shall feel the fire of my anger!” Brian exclaimed, unsheathing his sword.
On that horrible, fateful day Brian’s life changed completely, and he gained a new purpose in life…a dark and lachrymose resolve to bring the man who murdered his mother and father to justice, to offer him the same end that was offered to his parents.

[~END I~]

Alakazam
09-22-2004, 10:31 AM
[Chapter II: Under the Mountains! A Feline and an Encounter.]

After a short period of silent reflection, Brian walked out of the remains of his house. He walked past the smoldering buildings, and left the village. Surrounding the village was a forest, and a few miles to the west lay the ocean. Brian turned to face the village.
“One day, I will return.” Brian turned away and began walking east through the forest. There was a well-marked path that led from the village to the eastern edge of the forest, opening up onto the grasslands. As he walked, he was deep in though. Memories of his childhood overwhelmed him.
He thought of the days when he had nothing to worry about. Times when he could spend most of the day frolicking around in the forest, and swimming. He and Paul. The pain, the tragedy of that day was returning…
There was a small, deep cove at the western edge of the forest. He and Paul would go there to swim everyday. Paul was Master Samu’s son, and was the same age as Brian. Ever since they were toddlers the two were inseparable, the best of friends. On a sunny autumn afternoon, five years ago, Brian and Paul were swimming in the cove. Above the cove was a hill, and they had a rope set up. They would jump off the hill, swinging on the rope.
Brian climbed the hill; Paul waited at the bottom. Brian took the rope in his hands, and jumped off. He waited until he was just above the water, and let go. He hit the water, and began to swim towards shore. Paul climbed up the hill, grabbed the rope, and jumped. He must have been pensive because he let go of the rope much sooner than Brian had. He plummeted towards the water, hitting pretty hard. He touched the bottom in the middle of the cove, which was something that they avoided, because of long weeds at the bottom. Paul pushed up from the bottom, and his legs got caught in the weeds. Desperate for air, he thrashed around, preventing his escape. Brian could see his air bubbles at the surface, but then they stopped.
“Everything I have, all that I’ve been through has been around Moroda.” Brian pondered.
Instinctively knowing the path he was on, before he realized it, he had reached the eastern edge of the forest. He had never been any further away from the village. Before him were the grasslands, and, far off in the distance, the mountains. Brian began to go at a jogging pace.
“I guess I should head for the seaside village of Portalo, which, according to Master Samu, is on the other side of these mountains.” Brian decided.
Despite his inexperience in long-distance running, Brian quickly discovered his high endurance. He ran for most of the day, stopping periodically to catch his breath. After what seemed like weeks, Brian reached the foothills of the mountains. He began to climb; the slope was very steep. He soon worked up a sweat. The mid-day sun beat down on Brian, slowing his ascent.
After about two hours of climbing, it became much harder to find footholds. Brian stepped on a large stone; when he put his weight on it, the rock came loose. He rolled down the side of the mountain. When he reached the bottom, he began to laugh.
“Well, if that wasn’t a total waste of time…” Brian said to himself, “If I can’t go over, maybe I can go under.”
Brian walked around the foothills looking for an underground opening. After a few minutes of searching, he found one. Hidden behind a grove of pine trees was an opening that led down. Brian entered the cave inside.
“With any luck, this’ll come up on the other side of the mountains.” Brian thought to himself.
The dark, narrow path led down in a gradual slope. After walking for about an hour, the path opened up to a large cavern. It was lit by torches. On the other side of the cavern there were holes cut out of the wall. Black cats were walking around.
“The cat village…” Brian remembered.
It had been a myth passed down in the village. This place was said to be an underground dwelling entirely populated by cats. It was said that that they were mysteriously exiled from the world of men, and they retreated into the darkness.
Kneeling on the ground petting one of the cats was a short, dark-haired girl. Brian rubbed his eyes, making sure that the girl was really there. Within the stagnant darkness of the cave was the last place he had expected to meet another human, much less a girl. Brian walked cautiously across the cavern towards her. Upon seeing him, the girl rose to her feet; the cat scurried away, hiding in a hole. She turned to face Brian. Within the first instant that Brian saw the girls face in the dim torchlight, all fears and doubts were quietly quelled. There was something about her, though Brian could not figure out exactly what, that made him feel comfortable and safe.
“Who are you?” she asked with guarded curiosity.
At first, Brian was at a loss for words, and could do naught more than gaze into her warm, gentle eyes that seemed to fear nothing from him. The girl waited at least a minute for Brian to regain enough composure to reply.
“My name is Brian. What’s your name, and why are you in a place like this?” Brian returned inquisitively.
“My name is Luna.” She began, her gentle features and soft eyes holding Brian’s stare, “I am the daughter of Professor Steele. He wants me to be a scientist like him, as well as a warrior.”
“A warrior?” Brian inquired.
“Yes, my father wants me to be able to protect myself.” She took out her weapons, two claws, to show to Brian, “which is half the reason he sent me here.”
“And the other?”
“Well, it’s the cats. He wants me to get some field experience. I’m documenting the behavioral patterns and gestation periods of these animals.” Luna explained, “What brings you here Brian?”
“I’m on my way to Portalo.” he answered succinctly.
“Oh? I’d be going by there on my way home…would you like me to take you there?” Luna asked.
“Well, I guess. Are you done with your research here?” Brian replied.
“Yes, I was just about through when you walked in,” she lied,” I won’t be more than a minute or two.” Luna answered.
“OK. I guess I’ll wait then.” Brian declared, pleased to have found a traveling companion, even if only to the next town. He felt as though he were meant to meet Luna, though the reason for it was incomprehensible to Brian.

[To be continued...]

Alakazam
09-26-2004, 01:30 AM
[Chapter II: Under the Mountains! A Feline and an Encounter] (continued)

In truth, Luna had at least a few more hours before her observations for her father’s research would have been complete, but she felt some kind of connection to Brian, one she could not explain, and did not fully understand. What she did understand was that she should not just let the boy go without another thought or glance. Luna turned away from Brian, and filled in the rest of her observations on a sheet of paper attached to a clipboard with estimated results, seeing as she wouldn’t be staying long enough to truly finish her task.
After a few minutes, Luna was done and approached Brian.
“Sorry to keep you waiting; Are you ready to go?” Luna apologized.
“Yeah, let’s go.” Brian replied.
The two walked across the cavern, and entered a tunnel on the far wall from where Brian entered. The tunnel was about seven feet in height, and four people wide. There was very little light, and both of them struggled to see. After about a half hour of walking, Brian became uneasy.
“Luna, are you sure that we’re going the right way?” Brian inquired.
“I’m certain; this is the path I took to come down here form the east. It isn’t much farther.” Luna returned.
A period of quiet followed. After a few minutes, a hissing broke the silence. Brian could just barely make out the outline of a snake, coiled up. It was staring at him, ready to defend itself.
“Watch out, Brian.” Luna cautioned.
The snake lunged its head toward Brian.
“No!” Luna dove in front of him. The snake bit into her leg; she fell to the ground.
“Luna!” Brian unsheathed his sword, and slashed the snake; its head fell to the rock floor of the tunnel. Brian rushed to aid Luna.
“Are you okay?”
“Yes, I’m fine.” Luna replied. She covered the wound with her hand, and she concentrated on her injured leg. To Brian’s amazement, her wound closed before his eyes.
“How did you do that?” Brian exclaimed.
“I was born with the gift of magic. This is one of the two spells I currently know how to cast. My father was integral to the discovery and implementation of my powers.” she replied as she jumped to her feet, “Let’s get going.”
At this, Brian was intrigued. Where Brian was from, magic was considered a powerful and ancient art, long past it’s apex. Only the most aged and wise still knew of it. Was it just coincidence that Master Samu had been trying to teach Brian fire magic before he died? No…he dismissed that concept at once, since he was not able to learn the spell from his sensei. Still, it couldn’t be solely by chance that two people closely connected to magic meet in an unpopulated area, or any area for that matter, in a day and age where it wasn’t more than the stuff fairy tales are made of to most people.
“Magic? What other spell do you have the ability to cast?” Brian asked with great curiosity.
“I am also endowed with the element of thunder, and can create an electrical current. My father was never able to find out where this gift of mine came from…” Luna replied, trailing off.
The two continued along the path, with the thought of magic in their minds, but vacant from their lips. The path began to climb into a cavern, and they were getting close to the eastern edge of the mountains. A flapping of wings broke the pensive silence.
“What was that?” Brian wondered aloud.
“The bat…” Luna murmured.
She drew her claws; Brian drew his sword. The two stood back to back, searching for the source of the sound, ready to defend themselves. There was very little light, and then the roar of falling rocks from the ceiling shook the cavern, making the sun shine down into the darkness. The light revealed a giant bat flying towards Brian and Luna.
“Looks like we’re gonna have to get rid of this thing to get outta here.” Brian observed.
“I think you’re right.”
With a beat of wings, the bat blew a gale at Brian and Luna. Brian held his ground, but Luna was thrown back, and slammed against the wall of the cavern, the wind knocked out of her.
“Luna!” Brian exclaimed.
“You mustn’t worry about me! Keep fighting, and don’t let your guard down.” Luna cried.
Brian jumped and slashed the bat with his sword. It screamed in pain. As Brian landed his jump, the bat dove at him. Brian wasn’t ready for the assault. A lightning bolt came from seemingly nowhere, stopping the bat in its tracks.
“That was my other spell…Brian, now! Attack!” Luna exclaimed.
Brian slashed at the bat again, cutting off its right wing. To Brian’s dismay, it could still fly. The bat sprouted a new wing in place of the one it lost, and dove at Brian. He sidestepped it; the bat crashed into the stone floor.
“Luna, I think I’ve got a finishing move; It’ll take me a minute to do. But, if you keep the bat at bay, than I should be able to pull it off.” Brian explained.
“Okay, I’ll keep him away from you, while you prepare your attack.” Luna shot back.
She jumped on the bat’s back, and began to slash her claws at the back of his neck. The bat began to fly erratically.
Meanwhile Brian closed his eyes and focused. He cleared his mind of all thoughts, thinking only of the fire. Fire…the guiding element in his life…a symbol of purity. It was also the force that destroyed his village.
“No!” Brian thought, “I must push away those dark thoughts. I learn to wield this power…this magic…for my parents, for sensei, for Luna, and for myself!”
Brian opened his eyes. As he did so, Luna jumped off the bat, sending him flying in Brian’s direction.
A fireball appeared in Brian’s hand. It grew to a formidable size, and he threw it. It flew through the air, and hit the giant bat, exploding on contact. The bat burst into flames, lighting up the cavern like noon for a few seconds. Once the beast was consumed in the fire, its corpse fell to the ground.
“We did it!” Luna exclaimed, “Brian…why didn’t you tell me you can also use magic?”
“Well…honestly, that was the first time I’ve been able to pull it off.” Brian replied with a grin on his face.
The feeling of oneness between the two was intensified by Brian’s magical display. They then had something in common, the rare and wonderful gift of magic.

[~END II~]

Alakazam
09-28-2004, 04:32 PM
[Chapter III: Refugee from the Sky! Troubled Waters.]

Brian and Luna walked out of the cave, and out onto the eastern grasslands. Off to the east was the bustling port town of Portalo. As the pair walked towards the town, Brian turned around to view the sun setting behind the mountains. He held Luna.
“Oh, Brian. What a beautiful sunset…” Luna stated serenely, basking in the warmth.
After a few minutes, Brian and Luna continued their journey east. Slowly, as they proceeded, the light form the sun became dimmer and dimmer. It was nightfall by the time they reached Portalo.
“Well, the next ferry to Frantum won’t be until morning.” Luna declared, “What do you want to do now?”
Brian’s stomach growled loudly.
“Well, I haven’t had anything to eat since yesterday…” Brian complained in reply.
They found a restaurant, and were greeted by an employee.
“The wait will be about forty-five minutes. “ she informed.
“C’mon Luna. Ley’s try another place; I can’t wait that long.” Brian coaxed.
They found another restaurant down the street, and were informed at the front desk.
“How long of a wait will it be?” Luna inquired.
“At least an hour.” The employee answered.
They both left the establishment, and continued down the street. They walked past a sign for the “Five Feathers Pub”. Brian stopped short; Luna didn’t notice.
“Luna?” Brian called, getting her attention, and gesturing towards the sign.
“Sure, it doesn’t bother me; I’m hungry too,” Luna replied.
Brian and Luna opened the door and walked inside. There was welcoming warmth in the pub; this was a positive change form the bitter cold outside. They sat down at a table in the restaurant section of the pub. It was a small table, with two seats. A waiter walked over as they sat down, with a notepad in his hand.
“May I take your order?” he asked.
Brian quickly scanned his eyes over the menu, and made his decision.
“I’ll have the sirloin steak, caeser salad, and pork chops please.” Brian conveyed hurriedly.
“And may I have the shrimp scampi?” Luna ordered.
“Of course.” the waiter answered. He turned and walked away.
Brian sat, staring in Luna’s direction.
“What is it, Brian?” Luna asked, trying to make eye contact.
“Oh.” Said Brian, looking at Luna now, “I was just thinking; I didn’t mean to stare.”
“That’s alright. What are you thinking about?” Luna returned.
Luna’s voice had a soft, gentle quality that made Brian want to satisfy it.
“Well, the reason I’m traveling east is because my village, Moroda, was burned to the ground-“ Brian began.
Luna gasped.
“Everyone in the village but I was killed.” he continued.
“That’s horrible!” Luna exclaimed.
“Yeah, but I’m beginning to learn how to cope with it. It burns inside me, but I can’t let it take control.” Brian answered.
“You’re right” Luna replied, deep in thought.
The waiter returned with dinner, and placed the dishes of food on the table. Brian’s face lit up.
“It’s about time!” Brian exclaimed as he began to eat. He devoured the food as if it were his last meal.
Luna spent more time thinking than eating, but finished her dinner eventually.
“It’s getting late.” Luna stated, getting up from the table, “We’d better find a place to stay for the night.”
“Good idea.” Brian concurred.
They both got up form the table, Brian paid for the meal, and they walked outside. The cold air that swept over them as they stepped out the door was chilling. They walked down the street, towards the pier. Soon, the pair came upon an inn that had not yet closed for the night. They both stepped inside. It was a small, three story building, probably older than either of them. Across from the entrance, a man who appeared to be the owner stood behind a counter. Brian approached him.
“I’d like a room for the night.” Brian stated.
“You’re lucky you came when you did, and not a little later. We only have one room left, and I was about to lock up.” The innkeeper replied, getting a ring of key of the wall behind him, “Right this way please.”
He came out from behind the counter, and led Brian and Luna up the stairs. The staircase was narrow, steep, and creaky; each step questioned the structure’s stability. The innkeeper walked up to the third floor, and stopped in front of a door at the top of the stairs. He reached into his pocket, and pulled out the key ring. Inserting the key into the lock and turning it, he opened the door. Gesturing for the two to enter, Brian and Luna walked past the innkeeper intro the room.
“I’ll be in room one the first floor if you need anything. Good night.” the innkeeper stated, walking back down the stairs.
“Thank you; good night.” Brian replied, closing the door.
The room was plain, with two beds on one wall. The only light was given off from a candle that was on a little table between the beds. The innkeeper had left it.
“Well, I’m ready to hit the sack.” Brian yawned.
Luna’s face turned a deep red, “Huh?”
“I meant that I’m tired, and want to go to sleep.” Brian explained, thoroughly embarrassed.
Both Brian and Luna climbed into the two beds. Brian blew out the candle, and lay down. Within a minute of his head hitting the pillow, Brian was fast asleep. Luna did not fall asleep as easily. She lay awake in bed for hours before she fell asleep. Not long before midnight, Luna drifted slowly into slumber, and it began. First, it drizzled. Before long, it was pouring out. A storm had moved in, a tempest by the sea. But, in sharp contrast, Brian and Luna slept peacefully close by.


Meanwhile, in another part of town, a man woke up with a start.
“It’s the same dream…” he murmured.
He had been having the same dream for every night for the past three weeks. It was eating away at him; he had to find out why.
“Wait!” he exclaimed, remembering something.
When he was out earlier that evening, he saw two people who looked identical to the two in his dream.
“Maybe they are the ones who can help me…” he pondered, then he fell back to sleep.
The next morning, the sun did not come up. It was still pouring rain. Brian was the first to awaken. He looked over to the other bed to see Luna sleeping peacefully.
“I’ll let her sleep a while longer.” he decided.
He pulled on his hoes, and walked over to the window.
“How dreary…” he observed.
“Brian?” Luna asked, sitting up.
“Oh, good morning Luna,” Brian replied, “Did you sleep well?”
“Yes, very well.” She lied.
She put her shoes on, and she and Brian walked out of the room, locked up, and walked down the stairs.
Brian handed the key to the innkeeper behind the counter.
“Let’s see…one night, that comes to 50 Gold.” The innkeeper declared
Brian paid the man, and he and Luna walked out into the rain.
“Wait!” a voice cried out.
Brian and Luna spun around to see someone in the doorway of the inn.
“Please, come in.” he led Brian and Luna into his room on the second floor. The three entered the room, and the door was hut behind them.
“Who are you?” Brian asked.
“My name is Mitch. I need to talk with you.” he replied.
“Why us?” Luna inquired suspiciously.
“Please, allow me to explain. I have been having the same dream for some time now. In it, I always see two people, one male and one female. I do not know them, but after seeing you to here at the inn, I see the similarity.” Mitch began.
“And you think that’s us?” Luna inferred.
“Right. I think you two are the ones who can help me; that must be the meaning of the dream. You see, I am from far away, from a place that is suspended in the sky. My village is situated near the edge of the continent.
One day, a dragon attacked. I confronted him to defend the village. I charged towards him, and stabbed him with my dagger. But, I failed to draw blood. I backed away a bit, and smote him with a gust of wind.” Mitch explained.
“What? A gust of wind?” Brian interrupted.
“Yes, a magic spell. Being the protector of the village, I am able to use magic, “ Mitch continued.

Alakazam
09-28-2004, 04:34 PM
[Sorry, post overflow :P]

At this, Brian and Luna looked into each other’s eyes for a moment…the fact that Mitch shared the rare ability to use magic gave a certain level of credence to his claim.
“Unfortunately for me, the spell had no effect on the beast. He stared at me with large, cold eyes, and beat his great wings. With that, a great gale was sent in my direction. I struggled to stand my ground, but I was being slowly pushed towards the edge, until I could resist it no more. I flew off the edge, and plummeted to the Earth.
I landed here in Portalo; it’s a miracle that I survived. A kind family in the town took me in, and nursed me back to health. I am eternally in their debt. The innkeeper here is a friend of theirs. He has allowed me to stay here for as long as I need to, expense free.
I now feel that I am ready to leave, but I’m not sure where to go. That’s where the two of you come in. I am trying to get back home, but I don’t know how I can possibly reach the Upper Land, the continent floating in the sky…”
“My father is a scientist; maybe he’ll have an idea of what to do.” Luna offered.
“Really?” Where does he live?” Mitch questioned, with great interest.
“In Frantum, a small village to the northeast. I’m headed there today, actually.” Luna answered.
“Well, that’s great! Can I come with you?” Mitch asked excitedly
“I don’t see why not…” Luna answered.
“Luna?” Brian asked, “I’d really like to help out Mitch, and to tell you the truth, I really wasn’t sure where I was going to go from here…so, would you mind if I continued with you further?”
Luna had been secretly dreading the time when she and Brian would have to part, and she was overjoyed at the opportunity to delay that event. She also genuinely wanted to help Mitch.
“Of course, Brian.” Luna answered simply, “Well then, it’s settled. We should get going as soon as we can.”
“I’m ready when you are.” Mitch offered.
“Let’s get going then.” Brian suggested.
Brian, Luna, and Mitch walked out of the inn, out into the rain.
“The pier is this way.” Mitch suggested, turning down another street.
“Lead on.” Brian responded.
The three walked down to the pier, and entered a building with a sign ‘Tickets’ outside.
“I’d like three tickets for the ferry to Frantum, please.” Brian requested.
“I’m sorry, but all ferries today have been cancelled due to the storm.” The ticketer answered.
“Oh…thank you.” Brian replied.
The rain was pouring down even harder now, drenching Brian, Luna, and Mitch. They walked along the pier.
“Now what are we going to do?” Mitch wondered.
“We’ll figure something out…” Luna returned.
Brian stopped as they came to some sailors who were loading crates onto a ship.
“Hmm…c’mon guys!” Luna exclaimed as she hurried towards the vessel.
“Excuse me, but where can we find the captain?” Brian asked a sailor after they boarded the gangplank.
“He’s over there.” Replied the sailor, pointing to his right.
“You’re this out in this weather?” Brian asked.
“Of course! These supplies must get through, rain or shine.” The captain replied.
“Where are they headed?” Brian pried.
“To Medesa City. What’s with all the questions? What do you want?” the captain demanded.
“Well, we three are looking for passage to Frantum and-“ Brian began.
“No, no, no!” the captain interrupted, “This is a direct trip to Medesa; no passengers.”
“But, Frantum is on the way, and I can pay you double what the ferry fee is, plus extra for making an extra stop.” Mitch argued.
“Well, how much are we talking here?” the captain asked.
“How does two-thousand gold sound? Plus another four when we drop anchor in Frantum.” Mitch informed.
“Six thousand gold!? You’ve got yourself a ride!” the captain replied happily, “But you’ve got to stay out of the way.”
“Of course.” Mitch assured, handing him a bag of gold.
“We set sail in ten minutes.” The captain declared.
“Good. We’ll stick around ‘till then.” said Luna.
“Mitch! Where did you get that kind of money!?” Brian demanded.
“Well, the townspeople here raised a fund for me, and it’s more than I’ll ever need!” Mitch explained.
The next ten minutes passed quickly, and the crew set sail. Brian, Luna, and Mitch were already thoroughly drenched, so they didn’t mind standing on the deck in the rain.
After an uneventful hour and a half, a faint hissing could be heard.
“Did you hear that?” Luna asked.
A huge cobra popped it’s head up over the side of the ship. The snake slithered onto the deck, raising it’s head.
“What the…” Mitch exclaimed.
“Watch out!” Brian yelled.
The crew scattered, and the cobra lunged at Mitch. Brian drew his sword. He slashed the cobra, drawing blood. But, as a result of the enormous girth of the snake, the blade only went halfway through. The cobra drew back in pain.
“Now, Luna!” Brian called.
“Right!” Luna replied. She closed her eyes, and focused. “Power of lightning, guide me…Spark!!”
She emitted an electric spark, and it struck the cobra. Then, she charged at the snake, slashing it with her claws.
The cobra slithered away from her, came up from behind, and wrapped around her, squeezing.
“Aaah!” Luna screamed.
She could feel her bones being crushed as the snake coiled around her body. Fear welled up in her heart, the fear of death. With each passing second, she became more constricted; with each passing moment it took more effort to draw breath. Luna knew that if the snake were not to relent soon, she would not survive. She looked over at Brian with helpless eyes, and without enough energy left within her to utter any sound beyond a soft groan. Brian returned the gaze, speaking volumes without saying a word. There was confidence in his eyes, which gave much comfort to Luna.
“Mitch, come here.” Brian instructed.
He came over, and Brian whispered something in his ear.
“Got it?” Brian asked.
“Yep.” Mitch confirmed
Mitch took out his dagger. He ran towards the cobra, and plunged his blade into where Brian had earlier. It severed the serpent; it fell in two, freeing Luna.
“Brian, that’s your cue!” Luna called.
Luna backed away from the snake, out of harm’s way. Brian sheathed his sword, closed his eyes, and concentrated. “I summon the power of flame to vanquish this serpent…Fire!” Brian let loose a fireball. It flew towards the remains of the cobra, and destroyed all that was left of it.
It was still raining, so Brian’s fire was extinguished quickly, before it could become a threat to the vessel.
“Where did that snake come from?” Brian wondered, “Are you okay, Luna?”
“Yeah, I’m okay.” she answered.
“Hey a guy, the rain’s slowing down.” Mitch observed.
The rain slowed to a drizzle, and the clouds broke up a bit, revealing the sun. Its warmth was felt by all.

[~END III~]

Alakazam
10-02-2004, 02:30 AM
[Chapter IV: Abduction! Tale of the Lone Huntress]

Chapter IV: Abduction

Standing on the deck of the ship, land came into view.
“We’re almost there.” Brian observed.
“I’d like to thank you three.” The captain proclaimed.
Brian, Luna, and Mitch turned to face him.
“Don’t worry about it.” Brian replied.
“Oh, I insist,” the captain continued, “If it weren’t for you guys, we’d have been in big trouble! I cannot accept the other four thousand gold from you.”
“But, sir-“ Mitch interceded.
“No buts about it, “ the captain interrupted, “You’ve definitely earned your passage.”
“Land ho!” a sailor yelled from the crow’s nest.
The anchor was dropped, and the ship’s crew lowered the gangplank. The bay was a small one, with a multitude of small fishing vessels dotting the water around them. A soft breeze blew as Brian, Luna, and Mitch walked down the gangplank, and down to the pier.
Luna took a deep breath. “Home again…”
The three followed Luna into a big building in the center of the village.
“Here’s my father’s lab.” Luna explained.
Luna led Brian and Mitch into the building. A woman in a white lab coat ran up to Luna; her expression was frantic.
“Luna, Luna!” she began breathlessly, “Luna, you’re back. It’s horrible.”
“Calm down. What happened?” Luna broke in.
“Your father has been kidnapped,” the lab assistant replied, regaining her composure.
“What!? When did this happen?” Luna demanded.
“Only about ten minutes ago. We were all here working, when this strange man with a sword appeared out of midair. He spoke no words. He grabbed the professor, and disappeared. He left this note.” She explained, handing Luna a small piece of paper.
The note was handwritten in a simple, yet elegant script. It read:

To whom it may Concern:

The Professor is in good hands. But, if you don’t comply with my instructions, he won’t live for much longer. Come north, and come quickly, if you value the dear professor’s life.

“Hmm…” Luna murmured pensively, handing Brian the note.
“What could it mean, ‘come north’?” Brian pondered, after reading the note.
“The Toxic Forest…” Luna mumbled aloud.
“What?” Mitch asked.
“It’s the closest landmark to the north. There’s no time to think about it; every second we spend here there’s another chance my father may be beyond resuce! Let’s get moving!” Luna replied.
The three left the building, and walked to the northern gate of the village. As they approached, they found a man standing, arms crossed, in the road. He was wearing black armor, with a scabbard on his belt.
“Brian.” the man began.
“How do you know my name?” Brian asked, startled.
“That’s for me to know. Are you heading north?” he replied.
“Yes, we are.” Brian replied, now more confused than ever.
“Good. Watch your step.” the man replied.
With a brilliant flash of light, he was gone.
“Where’d he go?” Mitch wondered.
“Who was that?” Luna asked.
“I wish I knew…it seems like I’ve met him before.” Brian answered.
“What do you mean by that?” Mitch demanded.
“I don’t know…he seems familiar somehow.” Brian answered.
Brian, Mitch, and Luna walked out of the town, and north.
After twenty minutes, the forest came into view. A green mist shrouded it. As they grew closer, the haze became more apparent.
“What is this mist?” Brian inquired.
“This is the Toxic Forest. The mist is a potent poisonous gas. But don’t worry, you’ll get used to it after a while, and as long as we don’t spend more than an hour inside, we’ll suffer no long-term effects.” Luna explained.
“You’ve been here before, Luna?” Mitch asked.
“Yes. I’ve collected samples of this gas for my father to research. He’s written the only report on the poison here; it was published in a scientific journal.” Luna replied.
They began on a path that leading towards the heart of the forest. The trees shaded out the sun, creating a dark, misty aura. It was quite unnerving. All of a sudden, a boomerang came flying towards Brian. It was approaching from behind, so he didn’t notice it at all. He felt it as it whizzed just over his head.
“What was that?” Brian exclaimed.
He looked up to see the slasher fly away from him. It went up into the trees above, caught by its owner. She (the owner of the boomerang) jumped down from the branch she was standing on down onto the path in front of Brian.
“Who are you?” Brian asked.
“My name is Lauren. And who may you three be?” Lauren informed.
“That’s for us to know…” Brian grumbled.
“Oh really? You’re in MY domain, totally unaware of your surroundings; you’re in no position to withhold information.” Lauren shot back.
“Well, I’m Mitch, this is Luna, and-”
“Hey! Whaddya mean ‘unaware of our surroundings’?” Brian demanded.
“Heh, there’s delayed reaction if I’ve ever seen one.” Lauren replied, giggling.
“What?! You didn’t answer my question!” Brian returned, becoming enraged “Well, I threw my boomerang above your head, and you didn’t realize what was going on until it was above you. I meant to spare you; I never miss,” Lauren clarified, “If I were trying to hit you, you’d be dead!” Lauren added, laughing.
“…Hey! That’s not funny!” Brian yelled.
“Oh yes it is. It seems like the ‘fearless leader’ isn’t at his best today.” Lauren continued, now hysterical.
“I don’t see the humor in this…” Brian stated.
Luna began to giggle.
“Luna…” Brian complained.
“Oh come on; it’s all in good fun.” Lauren assured, becoming serious once again, “Now I’ll ask you again, why are you here?”
“OK, we’re searching for someone. He kidnapped my father, Professor Steele, and he left a note leading us here.” Luna explained.
“Did he leave a name?” Lauren broke in, keenly interested.
“Yes. In fact, he signed the note ‘The Marauder’” Luna replied.
“Aha! So he is here!” Lauren exclaimed with delight.
“Huh!?” Mitch inquired, confused.
“I’ll start from the beginning. I was born here in this forest,” Lauren began, “My parents abandoned me as a child, and Ii was found by the elves.”
“Elves? In these woods?” Luna interrupted.
“Yes, but no more…” Lauren continued, a tear welling in her eye. “They took me in, and raised me as their own. But later, when I was about sixteen, a rebellious faction within the clan wanted to take over. A battle ensued. Many lives were lost…and, in the end, the rebels won.
But, all of the surviving elves were women, children, and the elderly. A long period of mourning for the fallen warriors followed. I was the only one left to protect my brethren. To make matters worse, the leader of the rebels, who was the last survivor of the rebels, plundered our homes. I was always trying to rid us of him, but I never could manage to do it; he was always one step ahead of me. After a few months of living in constant fear, they couldn’t handle it any more. The elves decided to leave the forest, to find a better place to live. That was the last I ever saw of them, the only family I ever had. As much as I was a part of that, I couldn’t leave the forest, not when the bane of my people was alive. I vowed to avenge the deaths of the warriors, and kill the Marauder. For years, I lived here alone, battling with him. We searched the forest for each other, fighting constantly, until I could take it no more. I left the forest, and rumor had it that he left as well. I traveled abroad, making my name as a huntress. But, I was always interested in where the Marauder was, what he was doing.
After about six or eight years, a rumor reached me that he had returned to the forest. I saw it as a golden opportunity to return to my home, and seek out my revenge. And here I am.”
Clapping resounded from above. A tall elf, with long, blue hair stood on a branch.
“A well-told tale, Lauren…I should have brought popcorn.” the Marauder proclaimed.
“You! You don’t deserve to speak!” Lauren replied angrily.
“Harsh words for one with a hostage…” the Marauder shot back.
“What!?” Lauren exclaimed.
“You.” The Marauder asked, pointing to Luna, “Are you Luna Steele?”
“I am. What have you done with my father?” Luna returned.
The Marauder pulled some leaves aside to reveal Professor Steele sitting up against the trunk of the tree. His hands and feet were bound with rope, and he was gagged.
“Dad!” Luna cried.
“I’ll take care of this.” Brian declared, unsheathing his sword.
“Don’t be stupid.” the Marauder warned, unsheathing his scimitar, and pointing it at the professor’s neck, “one false move and the head of our dear professor goes rolling.”
Brian sheathed his sword, disgusted.
“If you ever want to see the professor again alive, come to the Tower of Balon.” the Marauder instructed.
He and Professor Steele vanished with a flash of light.
“The Tower of Balon…” Mitch wondered aloud.
“It’s on the coast to the west. It used to serve as a lookout point for the military, but it’s been abandoned for years.” Luna replied.
“Let’s go!” Brian suggested.
“Wait a minute, you three, are you planning on taking on the Marauder?” Lauren asked.
“Of course.” Brian replied.
“Have you any idea of what you’re getting yourselves into?” she asked.
“Somewhat, why?” Brian shot back.
“I’m coming with you.” Lauren declared.
“Huh?” Mitch exclaimed.
“You’ll need my help…and, if the Marauder is defeated, I must be there.” Lauren justified.
“Okay then, let’s get going.” Brian finalized.

[~END IV~]

Alakazam
10-08-2004, 04:54 PM
[Chapter V: Battle Atop Balon Tower! The Wrath of the Marauder]

Brian, Luna, Mitch, and Lauren made their way out of the forest.. Led by Luna, they walked west, towards the sea.
“So, you’ve been to this ‘Balon Tower’ before?” Brian asked Luna.
“Not, but I’ve known about it for most of my life.” She replied.
Lauren remained silent. She was walking at a slow pace, deep in thought.
As the four approached the shore, the tower came into view. It stood on a hill overlooking the ocean. Built of stone, it sturdily stood guarding, watching over the sea. Luna stepped up to the massive, wooden doors, and pushed them. But, she couldn’t budge it. She pushed as hard as she could, but it was to no avail.
“Stand aside. I’ll get us in.” Lauren declared.
Brian, Luna, and Mitch backed away from the door. Lauren ran at the door, and she rammed her shoulder into it. The door burst open.
“Piece of cake…” Lauren stated, beaming.
The four walked inside. The door had been sealed shut with a heavy wooden beam, which now lay in two on the stone floor. A powerful, musty odor hung in the air.
“Whew, it really stinks in here!” Lauren exclaimed, covering her nose.
“Yes, it does.” Luna agreed quietly.
“The path split into three, one hallway leading straight, another leading left, and a third corridor to the right.
“Which way should we go?” Luna wondered aloud.
“Well, I’m going this way.” Lauren proclaimed, choosing the left path.
The others followed uneasily. The hall turned right, and ended at a staircase. The four ascended the stairs, which climbed up in a spiral fashion. There was absolutely no light. They climbed in the darkness for what felt like days. No one spoke; the only sounds were footsteps and the groups’ faint breathing. And then as the stairs wound towards the sky, light flooded into the stairwell; they had reached the top.
Brian, Luna, Mitch, and Lauren walked into a room with windows on both sides. In the center of the room, the Marauder stood waiting.
“Well, well, you were able to muster the courage to face me, eh?” the Marauder taunted.
“Shut up.” Brian replied, drawing his sword.
Luna, Mitch and Lauren drew their weapons, ready for battle.
“Fine, then.” The Marauder answered, charging at Brian.
Brian readied himself. The Marauder threw a punch at Brian’s head.
Lauren threw both her boomerangs around the room.
Brian moves his head to the right, avoiding the slashers. They come from behind, and striked the Marauder.
“Ahh!” the Marauder yelled, “Maybe you’ll want these back.” The Marauder threw the boomerangs back at Lauren. She caught one in each hand.
“Thank you.” she taunted.
While the Marauder was occupied with Lauren, Mitch and Luna ran around behind him. They began to cast their magic. Lauren did the same in front of him, closing her eyes.
At first the Marauder looked at Lauren, confused. But soon enough he realized that there were two behind him, and prepared for an attack from any direction.
The three unleashed their spells: Luna’s electricity, Mitch’s wind, and Lauren’s poison. The energies closed in on the Marauder; he jumped up into the air. The three spells crashed into each other where the Marauder had been standing a fraction of a second before.
“Nice try, but you’ll have to do better than that to get the better of me.” The Marauder taunted’ laughing. He landed where he was standing before.
Mitch ran at the Marauder, holding his dagger in his right hand. Reacting Quickly, the Marauder drew his scimitar, and slashed Mitch in the right arm, drawing blood.
“Aah!” Mitch exclaimed.
“Okay, warm up’s over.” The Marauder declared.
Lauren threw one of her slashers with great force. The Marauder deflected it with his sword; it stuck into the wall to the right of Lauren. He charged at Lauren, and checked her into the stone wall behind her.
“What’s the matter? Stuck between a shoulder and a hard place?” the Marauder laughed.
“Leave her alone!” Mitch yelled.
The Marauder turned to see Mitch casting his Gust spell. He unleashed a gust of wind towards his opponent. He was blown away from Lauren, but he stopped himself before crashing into the wall behind him.
“My turn!” Brian declared, swinging his sword in a vertical slash at the Marauder.
The Marauder raised his sword horizontally, blacking the strike.
“Hmm…” he smiled, “I was getting a little bored. Maybe now I’ve found a worthy adversary.”
Brian continued with a series of furious slashes. The Marauder blocked each one, but he was being pushed back. For a second, The Marauder saw Luna healing Mitch and Lauren out of the corner of his eye. That was all the time Brian needed. He launched a horizontal slash at the Marauder’s midsection.
“Always happy to oblige.” Brian stated, smirking.
“Ahh!” the Marauder screamed in pain. He quickly regained his composure, “Wipe that grin off your face. I made a mistake; don’t expect me to make another!!” he replied angrily, breathing heavily.
The two continued to trade sword strikes, each holding their own against the other.
“Wow. Brian’s doin’ pretty good.” Lauren observed, referring to his prowess in battle.
“Yep, he’s good at what he does…” Luna replied, grinning, referring to his physical elegance and eloquence which she had admired since the day they met.
“Heh, heh.” Lauren elbowed Luna.
“What?” Luna asked, blushing.
“Don’t worry; it’s okay.” Lauren assured her, knowing what Luna was thinking. She stepped back, and began to cast a spell.
Brian saw this without detracting his attention from the Marauder. As Lauren finished the spell, Brian blocked one of the Marauder’s attacks, and jumped back out of the way. The gas from Lauren’s Gas spell surrounded the Marauder. He began to cough heavily.
“Damn you, woman!” he cursed.

[To be continued...]

Alakazam
10-08-2004, 04:54 PM
“Hmm…wait a minute,” Luna thought, “That smell…the gas. It must be the same gas as is in the Toxic Forest. And according to my father’s research, it’s highly flammable!”
“Brian!” Luna yelled.
Brian looked over at Luna. She mouthed to him the word ‘fire’. He nodded his head in understanding, and began to concentrate his energy. He launched a fireball at the Marauder. It struck him with full force, and the gas around him detonated. A huge explosion followed. Brian, Luna, Mitch, and Lauren watched closely to see whether the attack was lethal. After a minute or two, the smoke cleared.
The Marauder was damaged badly. His clothes were burned and tattered, and he was black with soot from head to toe.
“Heh, heh, heh…It’s been quite some time since I’ve been faced with such a challenge. I find it quite invigorating. But, unfortunately for you, I haven’t been battling you thus far with my all. Now, feel my true strength! Mystic Flame!” the Marauder swung his scimitar vertically, and from it emitted a blue flame. It rained down on the four warriors, burning them.
“Hang on guys.” Brian coaxed.
“Yeah, let’s work together to finish this!” Lauren suggested.
Luna quietly walked around behind the Marauder. Mitch charged at him, striking with his dagger. The Marauder blocked it easily.
“Feeling lucky today?” the Marauder asked.
“Wouldn’t you like to know?” he replied, trying not to let the Marauder’s rhetoric get to him. Lauren began to advance towards the Marauder; Brian held her back.
“Hang on,” Brian said in a low voice, “I think I know what they’re trying to do…Mitch will back away abruptly at some point, and Luna will shock him from behind. He’ll be most vulnerable, so that’s when we’ll step in.”
“You have something in mind?” Lauren asked.
“Yes, when the Marauder is being electrocuted, we’ll attack him at the same time. You will throw both of your boomerangs so he won’t be able to black, and I’ll rush in and slash him with my sword; that should do him in…I hope.” Brian explained with a moderate level of confidence in his plan.
“Got it.” Lauren affirmed.
Meanwhile, Mitch was doing all the he could to keep the Marauder busy; it was not an easy task. He slashed at Mitch with his scimitar, and Mitch backed away abruptly, out of the blade’s range.
Luna completed her spell, and sent a volt of electricity at the Marauder; he was caught totally unawares. Lauren threw her slashers with all of her remaining strength.
The Marauder was electrocuted, and he was hit by both of Lauren’s boomerangs. He looked up to see Brian’s sword coming at him. Brian thrusted his blade into the Marauder’s stomach. He fell to his knees.
“It cannot be…done in by a bunch of weaklings…” he collapsed in a pool of blood.
“He’s’ finally gone…” Lauren said with disbelief, “I’ve been seeking him out for years, and it’s finally over. I can hardly believe it.”
“Believe it Lauren; he’s gone.” Luna assured.
A muffled cry could be heard over the following silence.
“Father!” Luna exclaimed.
He was lying in the corner of the room. His hands and feet were bound with rope, and he was gagged. Luna knelt down beside him, and took the gag out of his mouth. Mitch took out his knife, and cut the bonds.
“Luna! Oh thank goodness you were able to come. Are you hurt?” the professor exclaimed.
“No, I’m okay. Are you?” Luna replied.
“Yes, yes; I’m quite alright. Who are your friends here?” Professor Steele asked.
“We can have a good talk in time. How about we get back to town first? It’s getting a little cold up here.” Luna suggested.
“Yes, of course.” The professor agreed, standing up.
Brian pulled his sword out of the bloody corpse, and wiped off the blade with a cloth. Brian, Luna, Mitch, Lauren, and Professor Steele began the long descent down the spiral staircase. After ten minutes, they reached the bottom of the tower.
Looking out over the sea, the sun was sinking low in the sky, casting shades of orange and pink near the horizon. Turning then to the southeast, the five walked back to Frantum. Walking into the village, the professor led them into the lab. Upon seeing the professor, the lab aides rushed over.
“Professor, you’re back!”
“You’re okay!”
Looking at the truly joyful expressions, it could be deducted that that lab workers held Professor Steele in high regard, and cared about him.
“I appreciate your concern. Since this day has been so hectic, you may all take the remainder of your shift off.” the professor announced.
Happy about the recent turn of events, the lab workers gathered their belongings and left.
“Let’s go upstairs.” Professor Steele suggested.
Brian, Luna, Mitch, and Lauren followed the professor up the stairs. There was a large room at the top. A fireplace was set up against one wall, and there was a kitchen on the other side.
“Sit down please.” the professor insisted.
Everyone sat down at the kitchen table.
“So tell me Luna: How did your research go?” Professor Steele asked.
“Very well.” Luna answered.
“And who are your friends here?” the professor inquired.
Luna continued to fill in her father by introducing Brian, Mitch, and Lauren, as well as retelling how they came across each other.
“I see. I would like to thank you all for coming to my rescue. I don’t know what would have happened to me had you not come.” the professor thanked.
“You’re welcome, sir. This brings us to the reason that we came to see you in the first place.” Brian replied.

[~END V~]

Alakazam
10-14-2004, 03:47 AM
[Chapter VI: Journey through the Forest! A Violent Ambush]

“I am from Windesence, a peaceful, rural village in the Upper World.” Mitch began.
“Hmm…” the professor interrupted, “The Upper World…it really exists? My mother used to tell me stories about a world that existed high above us, and so got me to sleep most nights. Most extraordinary.”
“Yes, I was born and raised there. But, when I was battling against a dragon that was attacking the village, I was knocked off, and I fell to the earth. It was a divine miracle that I survived. But now, I have a huge problem. How am I to return to my home?” Mitch finished.
“Well now, that is quite a problem. I can build you a ship, finest in the land, but for it to fly is beyond me. That kind of knowledge has been lost throughout the ages…” the professor replied.
A look of disappointment and helplessness came across Mitch’s face.
“Don’t despair, it has been said that the elves held the power of flight, their wisdom is vast and ancient.” Professor Steele suggested.
“But I thought that the elves were extinct…” Luna broke in.
“The elves from the Toxic Forest left, but they were not totally wiped out.” The professor explained.
Lauren listened with keen interest.
“They migrated to the Sacred Forest, where the main population of elves have lived for ages.” Professor Steele finished.
“Where is this forest?” Brian asked.
“Well, from here it’s to the northeast. One would travel north past the Toxic Forest, over the Great River, and east to the forest.” the professor explained.
“Let’s head out in the morning Mitch.” Brian suggested.
Mitch glanced back at Brian with a thankful expression.
“Now hang on Brian, do you think that only you and Mitch are going on?” I’m not through yet, besides, with the Marauder gone, I’ll be bored at home.” Lauren interjected, concealing her true intentions for wanting to continue.
“And I long to see the elves again, my family.” she thought to herself.
“It’s settled then. I am in your debt, and you are welcome to stay the night.” Professor Steele offered.
“Thank you. We are grateful for your generosity.” Brian answered in gratitude.
There were two guest rooms, each room with two beds. Mitch and Brian settled into one room, and Luna and Lauren in the other. Within an hour, they were all asleep. The night continued, and Brian woke up to the sound of footsteps in the hall. He sat up and bed, and looked over at Mitch, seeing whether or not he was awake. He was fast asleep. He put shoes on, and quietly stepped out into the hall. The door to the other guest bedroom was open. Brian walked down the hall into the main room. On the wall adjacent to the fireplace, there was a sliding glass door, which led out onto a wide balcony. Looking through the glass, Brian could see that there was someone out on the balcony. He opened the glass door, and stepped outside. Luna was leaning over the rail.
“Luna?” Brian greeted.
“Oh…Brian.” She replied in an emotional, pleading tone.
“Can’t sleep?”
“No, I can’t. Look, Brian, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. I know that now would be the time we part ways, but, I don’t want to,” Luna began, “I want to live my own life, not catering to my father’s plans all the time. I want to continue with you and the others. Though I enjoy the scientific work I do with my father, over the past two days that I’ve been traveling with you, I’ve felt a sense of purpose and comfort that I don’t want to lose.”
“Good. I’m glad that we need not part yet; we just met yesterday. I have enough to worry about right now in my life, but when you’re at my side, you bring as much comfort to me as I give to you.” Brian replied happily.
Brian and Luna gazed out at the sky. The moon was full, and countless stars filled the heavens. Luna sighed.
“It’s beautiful.” She stated serenely.
“It sure is.” Brian agreed.
The two walked back inside, and went to bed. They both slept soundly for the rest of the night.
The sun rose, bathing the earth in its light. Brian rose to find that Mitch and the others were already up. He walked out into the main room. The aroma of bacon was in the air. Luna was standing in front of the stove, cooking; Mitch, Lauren, and the professor were sitting at the kitchen table.
“What time is it?” Brian asked.
“It’s already 5:35. Do you always sleep this late Brian?” Lauren berated.
“What!?”
“If you get up this late every morning, Mitch will never get home.” she returned quickly.
“What the hell are you talking about?” Brian demanded, thoroughly confused.
“You wanna go?”
“Huh!?”
Lauren, much more awake and alert, hit Brian in the side of the head. He fell to the floor.
“What was that for?” he yelled.
Lauren and the others began to laugh.
“What’s so funny!?” Brian exclaimed frantically.
Lauren sat down, and took a sip of coffee.
“C’mon you two, breakfast is ready.” Luna announced as she served eggs and bacon to everyone. Brian sat down to join them.
“These eggs are delicious, Luna!” Brian complimented with a mouthful of food.
“Thank you.” Luna replied.
After breakfast, Brian, Luna, Mitch, and Lauren gathered their things, and walked downstairs. Luna was also packed and ready to go.
“Luna, what are you doing?” Professor Steele asked in confusion.
“Father, I have made a decision. I will go with Brian and the others to help Mitch find his way home.” Luna declared.
“I see.” The professor replied, he had not seen this coming at all, “Though I am not fully with your going on this venture, I respect your decision; you must find your own way now.”
“Thank you, daddy.” Luna exclaimed, hugging him.
“Good luck, Luna, and may you return to me soon.” He answered.
Brian, Luna, Mitch, and Lauren left the lab, and walked north out of town. They walked towards the forest across the meadows.
“Your father didn’t seem to give his approval.” Brian observed.
“Yeah,” Luna sighed, “But he let me come; that’s a good sign. His approval is not an easy thing to receive, yet I will strive to earn it!”
As they passed by the western edge of the Toxic Forest, running water could be heard. A wooden bridge, arcing upwards slightly straddled a river. Just upstream there was a waterfall that rose about twenty feet up.
“What river is this?” Mitch wondered aloud.
“This is the Great River, Shrimpa. For thousands of years it has stood as the border between the south lands the north.” Lauren explained.
As they stood on the bridge, a gentle mist from the cascading water encompassed them.
“We should get going.” Luna suggested, trying not to be beleaguered by the pleasant aquatic spray.
“Good idea.” Lauren replied.
“Lauren, do you know how far it is to the edge of the forest?” Luna asked.
“Yeah, it’s only a mile or two to the east. It shouldn’t take us that long to get there.” Lauren replied.
As the four walked the northern banks of the river, a man clad in black armor came into view. As they approached him, he drew his sword, and pointed the top at Brian. He stopped short; the blade was an inch away from his face.
“Go not to the Sacred Forest, for there your death lies in wait.” He declared firmly.
Brian took a step back from the sword. His expression turned from fear to anger.
“Who are you, and what do you want?” Brian demanded.
“If you value your life; you’d better hope you never find out.” he replied. With a swipe of his arm, Brian, Luna, Mitch, and Lauren were thrown back by a fallow wind. When they stood back up, and looked where the knight was standing, he was nowhere to be seen.
“Who is that guy?” Lauren wondered aloud.
“I don’t know, but he seems to be more of a foe than a friend.” Brian replied.
“We should keep moving.” Mitch suggested.
“Yeah, let’s go.” Brian agreed.
The four continued walking eastward. After about an hour, the edge of the forest became visible in the distance.
“See? I told you it wasn’t that far.” Lauren reaffirmed.
The four walked into the forest. Unlike the Toxic Forest, this forest was not dark. The canopy created a rooftop of the woods; light passed through it.
“Have you ever been in here before Lauren?” Luna asked.
“No…no, I haven’t.” Lauren replied, uncertainty in her voice.
The path that they had started out on was quite straight, and didn’t turn as far as the eye could see. They walked curiously, cautiously along, trying to be as alert as possible. They were mentally weary of the animals that may be creeping behind every bush, every tree. But they were also subconsciously heeding the warning given to them by the mysterious man in black armor.
And Lauren’s mind was even busier than those of the others. She was thinking about the possibility that the elves from the Toxic Forest, her family, may have migrated to this very forest. After her independent and migrant lifestyle over the past several years, she yearned to reunite with those from her past.

[To be continued...]

Alakazam
10-14-2004, 03:49 AM
[Chapter VI: Journey through the Forest! A Violent Ambush.] (continued)

After a while of hiking on the straight path, it began to climb. Gradually at first, but it became steeper and stepper. It climbed up a rocky hillside. With a bit of effort, Brian, Luna, Mitch, and Lauren reached the top of the hill, where the trail became flat once more. As the four stepped over the crest of the hill, a crevice lay in front of them. The tree line was a few feet back from the edge on either side. Peering over the edge, there was no bottom in sight.
“I wouldn’t want to fall down there.” Mitch commented.
“Nor would I.” Lauren added.
“Well, at least there’s a bridge.” Luna observed.
The crevice was at least twenty feet across, and there was a dilapidated rope bridge suspended over it. There were wooden planks on its bottom, with two ropes on either side. It was not new by any means; on the contrary, it was truly ancient.
“I don’t trust that bridge.” Mitch declared.
“I don’t blame you. But, unfortunately, it seems to be the only way across.” Brian replied.
“I’ll go first.” Lauren volunteered.
“Be careful.” Luna cautioned.
Lauren carefully ventured out onto the bridge. The wood creaked under her feet. After she was a little ways out, Mitch followed, then Brian. When they were about halfway across, Luna followed them. The pace was slow, the footsteps ginger; none wanted to test the strength of the bridge.
From the far side of the chasm, an eerie howl resounded. Everyone froze, listening keenly. Another howl from behind them answered the first. The faint thud of a paw hitting the ground followed, both in front and behind them. The four backed away from the edges of the bridge, standing back to back over the middle of the fissure. Brian and Luna faced back in the direction they had come from; Lauren and Mitch faced the opposite side. The sound of running became clearer, louder, with each passing second more distinct. Fear took hold of the foursome, and increased as each footstep was heard. Another howl, a group of howls from in front a behind them resonated through their minds. Brian drew his sword; the others followed suit, drawing their weapons.
Their eyes darted across the tree line on either side of the chasm, searching for where the beasts may show themselves. And then, it happened. White fur could be seen in stark contrast to the greenery of the forest. On both sides, they ran to the edge of the earthen crack.
The wolves were white with grayish patches. The fur was stained red on the head, around the mouth. It was plain that they had tasted human blood in the past, and would not hesitate to do so again. Their eyes reflected madness and iniquity. They began to walk out onto the bridge.
“Damn! We’re surrounded.” Lauren exclaimed.
One wolf charged at Luna, and lunged. She screamed, closed her eyes, and put her claws up in front of her in defense. An arrow whistled through the air from the forest; it struck the wolf in the back of the head. It fell inches in front of Luna. She put her arms back down at her side, and opened her eyes. She looked down at the bloody corpse with an arrow in its head.
“Phew,” she sighed, “Where’d that arrow come from?”
“I don’t know.” Mitch replied.
“Let’s not let our guard down, guys.” Lauren suggested.
The remaining five wolves, angered further by the loss of their comrade, snarled furiously and began to advance towards Brian, Luna, Lauren, and Mitch.
“If they charge towards us, let’s jump.” Mitch suggested.
“Good idea.” Brian concurred.
Sure enough, the wolves broke into a run. As they approached the center, Brian and Luna jumped over the wolves, towards where they had come from, and Lauren and Mitch at the same time, jumped over the wolf’s heads towards the opposite side. There was still a good eight feet to the edge of the bridge for both groups; they stood their ground. The wolves crashed into each other, but they quickly recovered from the collision. Brian, who was between the wolves and Luna, closed his eyes, and concentrated.
“Fire!” Brian yelled, tossing a fireball at the wolves.
“Brian, no!” Lauren yelled.
It was too late. The fireball collided with the wolves, knocking them over and burning them. But the combined weight of the wolves was too much for the old bridge to bear. The ropes and planks were weakened further, and the flame cut through them. The bridge split in half; both halves fell, and hung on either side of the fissure. The wolves, which were injured form Brian’s spell, fell into the chasm. Brian and Luna hung from the bridge, as Mitch and Lauren did on the other side. Lauren and Mitch climbed up to the top of the chasm. The ropes at the top of the half that Brian and Luna were on began to fray.
“Are you okay down there?” Mitch called.
“Yeah, we’re okay. But, I don’t know how much longer this bridge can hold us. If we try to climb up, it’ll surely fall.” Brian explained.
“And even if they do climb to safety, how are they gonna get over here with the bridge out?” Lauren thought to herself.
A woman jumped out from the trees, startling Mitch and Lauren. But, somehow, they were not afraid. She had an air of kindness and understanding about her. She was tall with pointed ears, and had long, blonde hair. On her shoulder was a quiver full of arrows, and on the other, a bow. She took her bow, uncoiled a length of rope, and drew an arrow from her quiver; she tied one end of the rope to the shaft, and the other to her ankle. She knocked the bow, and drew the bowstring back to her eye, aiming towards Brian and Luna. She let the arrow fly. It hit its mark.
Brian and Luna, who were hanging about ten feet down, couldn’t see the woman, and were startled to see the arrow fly at them. It struck the stone wall on the side of the fissure, just below them and stuck there.
“Climb up across the rope.” the woman instructed.
Brian and Luna were a bit confused, not recognizing the voice. But, somehow, the voice didn’t sound unfriendly, and the two complied, not knowing what else to do.
“Brian, I don’t know if I can do this.” Luna said worriedly.
Brian smiled gently. “Don’t worry. We’ll get through this together. Hang on to me.”
Luna let go of the bridge, and hung on to Brian’s waist. As she shifted her weight, the bridge fell into the abyss below. Brian, who held the rope above his head, swung one arm over to climb across the rope. As he did so, the arrow shook loose, and the rope swung across to the far wall of the chasm, now hanging vertically. The woman who had the rope around her leg stumbled a little, but she did not fall.
Brian stopped himself from crashing into the rock face with his feet, and he began to climb the rope. The added weight of Luna made it harder, but it didn’t not at all sway Brian’s determination. He climbed upward, slowly yet surely, until they reached the top at last. As Brian and Luna emerged over the top of the fissure, the mysterious woman untied the rope from her ankle, and ran off into the woods.
“Wait!” Luna exclaimed.
“Who was that?” Brian inquired.
“An elf…” Mitch replied pensively.
“Well, we got across; we should keep going.” Brian urged.
Brian, Luna, Mitch, and Lauren continued down the trail. The tall woman was nowhere to be seen.
“Who was she?” Lauren thought aloud as she walked.
“An elf, apparently. But, beyond that, I wish I knew…” Brian answered.
“Too bad she ran off; she could have guided us to the village.” Mitch added.
“I don’t think she would have been willing to do that.” Luna cut in.
They continued to walk in silence.

[~END VI~]

Alakazam
10-22-2004, 01:25 AM
[Chapter VII: Into the Heart of the Forest! The Hidden Elven City.]


Brian, Luna, Mitch, and Lauren walked deeper and deeper into forest. All of a sudden, the ground beneath them gave way, collapsing into a hole about fifteen feet deep. The four fell in, caught by surprise. They landed hard at the bottom, on top of each other. Over the top of the pit, faces began to appear. A group of eleven archers drew back their bows, aimed at Brian and the others. A tall elf, which seemed to be the leader, began to speak, “Who are you, and what business have you here?”
“We are travelers, and seek the wisdom of the elves.” Brian answered.
“To what end? Who sent you?” the leader demanded.
“We have not been sent, we serve our own purpose.” Brian replied, not divulging much information.
“You speak in riddles. I haven’t the time nor the patience to deal with it,” the leader announced, “Climb up here.”
A rope was let down. Brian and the others climbed up, one by one. They were surrounded by a group of at least a dozen elven bowmen.
“You shall come with us to the Elder. None shall pass through the Sacred Forest, his realm, without his leave.” the leader instructed.
Flanked by the archers, the four had no choice but to comply. Brian, Luna, Mitch, and Lauren were led deeper into the forest. They followed paths that the four would never have been able to find on their own. After walking for an hour, they stopped for a short break.
“No one is to wander off; we’ll only be pausing briefly.” The commander conveyed.
“How much longer do you think we’ll be marching?” Mitch whispered to Luna.
“I don’t know.” she replied.
“We’re only a few miles away now,” one of the bowmen offered.
“Oh, good.” Brian sighed in relief.
“We’re on the move again; c’mon, everyone up!” the leader announced.
Everyone stood, ad the march continued. By the time they reached their destination, it was well into the afternoon. The party walked through a thick grove of trees, and into a large clearing. The trees inside the clearing were massive, very wide, and over fifty feet tall. Their leaves intertwined above, forming a natural canopy. This was the city of the elves. There were white buildings above, on the branches of the trees; they shimmered in the dim light. The clearing was quite dark, as the sun had almost set. Torches around the city were the chief source of light, but also the buildings themselves seemed to exude a warm, pale, white glow.
Brian, Luna, Mitch, and Lauren were led into the city, across a bridge that straddled a babbling brook to one of the biggest buildings on the ground. It seemed to be an important building; it had tall columns, and white marble steps. The four looked on in awe as they were led inside. The other archers did not accompany them, yet their commander did.
“Follow me.” he instructed.
He led them down a long hall, and through a set of huge doors that opened into a gargantuan throne room. The chamber was plain, and virtually empty, save the throne and the man sitting upon it. He had long gray hair, and a long beard. In his right hand he held a scepter, on the end of which a large, round, green gem was set. He stood as they entered.
“Master Dunwain, these four were found trespassing in the Sacred Forest.” the commander informed, kneeling.
“Thank you commander, that will be all,” the Dunwain replied, he turned to the others, “What brings all of you into the midst of my realm?”
Brian explained to the elder the events that led up to meeting Mitch and Lauren.
“And that brings us to now…why exactly have you come?” the Dunwain asked.
“We seek the vast wisdom of the elves. We were told that you might be able to help us with the notion of flight. We need to get to the Upper World so that Mitch can return to his home.” Brian replied.
“I see…unfortunately, it is not so. But, I do have some information that may be of some use to you. It has been passed down through the ages that adamant, a rare stone, holds the power of flight, “ the elder explained, “But, before you worry too much about that, weary travelers, you must rest. We have accommodations that should suit you. We shall talk business on the morrow.”
Luna bowed.
“Your generosity is greatly appreciated, o elder.” she declared in gratitude.
Two elves, who had been standing at the doors of the chamber, approached the Dunwain.
“Please take these four to their quarters.” Master Dunwain instructed.
Without a word, the two elves bowed in compliance, and led Brian and the others out of the building. The night air was surprisingly warm. They were led up inside a tree, up a long and winding staircase. They entered a white building at the top.
“Right this way.” one of the guides said, walking down a hallway. The room at its end was spacious, with four beds.
“Good night.” The two guides greeted together, leaving the room. They closed the door behind them. Lauren yawned.
“It’s been a long day, how about we just get some sleep?” she suggested.
“Good idea.” Mitch concurred.
Brian, Luna, Mitch, and Lauren climbed into bed, and drifted into a peaceful sleep. The next morning, the four rose very rested. They left the building, and walked down and out of the tree. Even at such an early morning hour, the elves were awake and going about their business. Three children passed by carrying buckets. They approached a stone fountain, and filled the containers.
“Boy, I sure could use a drink.” Mitch stated.
“Me too.” Brian agreed.
Brian took out his canteen, filled it with the cool, blue water form the fountain, and took a drink. He wiped his mouth with his hand, and passed the canteen around until their thirst was quenched.
“We should head towards the Elder’s Palace; he said he would tell us about the adamant today.” Luna offered.
Brian, Luna, Mitch, and Lauren walked towards the palace. As the building came into view, it could be seen that there was an elven woman sitting on the steps. Her eyes were transfixed on Lauren. She didn’t realize it at first, but as the foursome reached the palace, Lauren realized that she was the target of the woman’s gaze. The woman stood up; a tear welled in her eye.
“…Oh my God…is that you?” the woman asked, almost speechless.
“Huh?” Lauren responded, confused. A moment after she spoke, it came to her. She knew to whom she was speaking. She had hoped to find her in this place, but she didn’t want to get her hopes up. She hadn’t seen the woman in years, and yet she was her closest friend. Yet now, she could believe.
“Lauren?”
“Mother?”

[To be continued...]

Alakazam
10-22-2004, 01:36 AM
[Chapter VII: Into the Heart of the Forest! Hidden Elven City.], continued

The two rushed into each other’s arms.
“I thought I would never see you again…” Lauren’s mother exclaimed, sobbing.
Luna put her head on Brian’s shoulder.
“I just love reunions.” she stated serenely. Brian held her and savored the moment.
“Who are your friends here?” Lauren’s mother asked.
“This is Brian, Luna, and Mitch. The helped me defeat the Marauder.” Lauren introduced.
“The Marauder has been defeated?” Lauren’s mother exclaimed.
“Yes mother, he is dead.” Lauren confirmed.
“What a joyous day!” Lauren’s mother cried, “ Not only has my daughter returned to me, but the bane of our people has been vanquished.”
“And now I am traveling with Brian, Luna, and Mitch so that I may help them as they have helped me.” Lauren continued.
“You’re leaving!? But, but you’ve only just arrived…” Lauren’s mother grieved.
“I must, but I will return to you again one day.” she vowed.
“If you must, then you have my blessing. Come hither,” the mother resolved, “I have something for you.”
She led them to a small house on the ground close by.
“Wait here.” She instructed, as they reached the house.
She opened the door, entered the house, and reappeared a minute later. She held a small box. She opened it, and held up its contents. What she held aloft was an amulet; there was a large emerald attached with a piece of ornate gold.
“This has been passed down in our family for generations. It is now yours.” Lauren’s mother explained, as she put it around her daughter’s neck.
“I don’t know what to say…” Lauren responded.
Her mother kissed her on the forehead, “Then don’t say anything. May this watch over you, and protect you on your journeys. And, when you look upon it, think of me.”
Lauren began to cry, “I will mother, I will. Thank you.”
The two hugged again.
“Goodbye Lauren.”
“Until we meet again, mother.”
Lauren’s mother walked into the house, and closed the door.
“I can’t believe it.” Luna exclaimed.
“What?” Brian asked.
“Lauren’s pendant…it looks exactly like mine. The only difference is that mine has a different gemstone.”
Luna took out her pendant, which she wore around her neck, yet under her clothing, to compare. They were, as he said, astonishingly identical, except for the fact that Luna’s pendant had a stone of amber. Mitch was comparing a pendant of his own, with the same result; his was adorned with a topaz.
“They look just like my father’s pendent…” Brian thought, at seeing Mitch’s amulet with the other two, he spoke aloud. “You’ve got one too?”
“How curious…” Luna pondered, “Oh well, we should be getting back to the palace.”
“Yeah, let’s go.” Lauren replied, wiping her eyes of tears.
Brian, Luna, Mitch, and Lauren walked back up to the palace. Two guards, who blocked their way with spears, stopped them.
“I believe that Master Dunwain is expecting us.” Lauren proclaimed.
“You may pass.” one of the guards allowed.
Both spears were retracted, allowing passage into the grand chamber. The four walked into the throne room. Dunwain was sitting on the throne, and an elven woman was standing next to him. She was tall, and bore a quiver. She looked familiar to Brian and the others.
“Ah, good morning. I trust that you are well rested?” Master Dunwain greeted.
“Yes indeed sir. We appreciate your hospitality.” Luna replied.
“Now, about adamant…the professor should know where to find some; it is rare in these parts. If you ever need guidance, don’t hesitate to return here.” The elder explained.
“Thank you. We shall do so.” Mitch replied.
“We must be going now; who knows how long it’ll take us to find adamant!” Brian added.
“Very well, I wish you well, travelers!” Dunwain declared.
Brian, Luna, Mitch, and Lauren walked out of the throne room, and outside. The woman next to the Dunwain looked at him inquisitively. The elder nodded, and the woman walked outside.
As the four were walking away form the palace, the elven woman appeared in the doorway.
“Wait!” she yelled, trying to get their attention. It worked.
“Yes?” Brian responded.
“Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Diana, and I am the daughter of the Dunwain. I have always dreamed of traveling beyond the edges of the Sacred Forest, within which I have been bound all my life. May I join you on your journey? I am a master huntress, and I’d be a valuable ally in battle.” Diana explained.
“I don’t see why not…as you’ve probably gathered, we’re off to search for adamant. We’ll go to the ends of the earth, if need be.” Brian replied.
“Right, are we ready? I can take you back out of the forest via a quick route. And we need not cross any chasms…” she suggested, laughing a little.
“Oh, I haven’t had the chance to thank you for what you did for us yesterday.” Lauren spoke up.
“ ’Twas nothing. Anyone of valor would have done the same. Shall we be off?” she replied graciously.
“Indeed.” Mitch agreed.
Diana led Brian, Luna, Mitch, and Lauren out of the city, and through the forest. She ran quickly, fleet-footed, and aware of every rock, root, and branch on the ground. Brian and the others struggled to keep up.
After a while, Diana stopped to wait for the others.
“I’m sorry for going so quickly thus far, shall we continue at a slower pace?” Diana apologized.
“Yes…” Mitch pleaded.
“Heh, heh...you’re in tip top shape, Mitch.” Lauren taunted.
“Oh, and you are?” Mitch returned.
Lauren didn’t answer.
The five continued through the forest, this time at a much more reasonable pace. Within an hour, they had reached the western edge of the forest.
“Wow, it took us much longer going in…” Brian noted.
“I was born and raised in this forest; I know it well.” Diana replied.
The five continued west on the north banks of the River Shrimpa (the Great River), and turned south. They began to walk faster, because they had returned to familiar landscapes. Before long, they passed the Toxic Forest and approached Frantum.
They followed Luna into Professor Steele’s lab. The professor was working on a strange looking machine on the far side of the room. Luna tapped him on the shoulder.
“Dad?” she asked, getting his attention.
“Luna!” the professor greeted, turning around, “Back so soon? Did you find the answer you were looking for?”
“Yes, the material that will support flight is adamant.” Brian answered.
“Ah…adamant, a likely solution, really. It’s quite amazing. It is tougher than diamond.”

[~END VII~]

Alakazam
10-25-2004, 12:11 PM
[Chapter VIII: Brush with Death! The Great Voyage North]

“Hmm…do you have any adamant, sir?” Diana inquired.
“Well, I just might, but not here. If I have any, it would be in my warehouse. It is in the village of Nortum, across the sea to the north.” The professor explained.
“Why so far away?” Lauren asked.
“It’s a long story…it was the closest available property at the time I bought it. Anyway, you’ll probably be needing a mode of transportation, I presume?” Professor Steele replied.
“Yes, we will.” Brian replied sheepishly.
“Well then, follow me.” The professor instructed.
He led Brian, Luna, Mitch, Lauren, and Diana down a flight of stairs. There was a dock in a large room at the bottom. There were a few good-sized ships anchored before them; they were all under repair. The professor led the five to a raft.
“This is the only free vessel I happen to have at the moment.” Professor Steele explained.
“It’ll have to do…” Mitch sighed.
It was a wooden raft, consisting of several large logs lashed together; there was a mast in the center with a sail attached. It wasn’t very large; for this reason Brian and the others were plagued with uncertainty. There were two long paddles on board, serving as a backup, just in case there was no wind.
“Now, just head north from Medesa, and you’ll find it eventually. Oh, and I almost forgot! The town isn’t right at the southern shore. You’ll have to head inland northwards towards the mountain range there to find it.” Professor Steele explained.
“Thank you; your help is appreciated, kind sir.” Diana bowed in gratitude.
“Oh, don’t mention it. I know it’s for a good cause.” The professor replied.
Brian and the others climbed onto the raft.
“There’s an automatic system at the bottom of the water inside here, as well as outside in the canal. It will take you out into open waters. Good luck!” Professor Steele concluded.
The raft began to move, and it was pushed outside by the unseen launching system below. Outside of the lab, they entered a narrow channel. The automatic system continued to push them, through the channel, out into the ocean. A stiff breeze was at hand.
“So…does anyone here have any idea how to sail?” Brian asked.
“That would have been a good thing to figure out before we came out here.” Lauren replied cynically.
“Well, I didn’t see you figuring out anything of the kind.” Brian returned.
“That’s because I already knew…” Lauren answered with confidence.
“Huh?” Brian asked.
“I can sail, you bonehead!” Lauren yelled.
“Oh good…hey!” Brian responded.
“Forget it, Brian; go back to sleep. Mitch, Luna, come and unfurl this sail. Brian, hand me that rope over there. Diana, watch out for rocks in the water.” Lauren instructed, taking charge.
“Aye, aye, captain!” Brian saluted sarcastically.
Luna and Mitch unfurled the sail, and with Lauren’s help, raised it up the mast, and secured it with its ropes. They were finally underway. Lauren was steering and navigating from the back of the raft. The sailed north; the water quickly became a bit choppy.
“Just gotta keep her steady…” Lauren mumbled to herself.
To their right, Brian and the others could see the Balon Tower looming above them. It stood atop a cliff that was at least thirty feet high.
They continued to sail north along the coast. It became a little easier, since the wind had died down a bit. They moved slower, but the surface of the water was still and serene.
“It’s peaceful out here.” Luna observed.
“Indeed it is…this is the first time I have ever seen the ocean. My mother used to tell me stories about ships and the sea; when she’d describe it, I’d close my eyes and picture myself there. But, now, it’s so powerful, so consuming.” Diana replied. She took a deep breath, “The air is so clean and fresh here.”
As the raft floated farther north, they came upon a harbor. There were many ships at port. It appeared to be a bustling city.
“Where are we?” Mitch asked.
“This is Medesa, the biggest city in the world. It’s also the center of trade.” Luna explained.
“There’s a great pub in the center of town that I used to frequent.” Lauren added.
“Well, we should reach the northern shore of this continent soon. It’s about ten miles further.” Lauren declared a few minutes later.
The next half hour passed rather uneventfully. After that, they reached the northern edge of the continent.
“It’s about time.” Brian lamented.
“Oh, please…we’re not even halfway there.” Lauren returned.
“Are you serious?” Brian exclaimed.
“Quite. We’re in for a long ride.” Lauren confirmed.
Mitch and Luna repositioned the sails so that the raft was pointing directly north, out across the open sea. They sailed northward, until, behind them, there was no land in sight. Brian, Luna, Mitch, Lauren, and Diana, on the small raft, were completely encompassed by the ocean, cut off from the rest of the world. For hours, no one spoke. The only sounds were that of the waves, gently brushing up against the side of the raft. Ever since they had left Frantum that morning, the sky had been clear and blue, void of clouds. But now, a line of clouds began to roll in. Lauren looked up to the sky with a sullen look upon her face.
“What’s the matter, Lauren?” Mitch asked.
She pointed to the east, “Look.”
In the direction that Lauren was pointing, dark clouds were quickly moving in.
“There’s a storm brewing.” Lauren declared.

[To be continued...]

Alakazam
10-25-2004, 12:12 PM
[Chapter VIII: Brush with Death! The Great Voyage North], continued

The wind began to pick up, speeding the cloud cover. A complete metamorphosis of the area ensued, taking only a matter of minutes. Dark clouds moved in overhead, blotting out the sun. The wind blew fiercely. There was a flash of lightening, and a thunderclap followed. And then, it began. A misty drizzle at first, but it soon grew into a downpour.
“What are we gonna do?” Brian yelled, trying to be heard over the howling wind.
“Take down the sail!” Lauren bellowed.
“What?” Mitch yelled, half not hearing Lauren, half not understanding her logic.
“Take down the sail! If we leave it up in this gale; it’ll surely tear!” Lauren exclaimed.
“O.K.!” Luna replied.
Mitch and Luna worked together to take down the sail from the mast. Mitch shimmied up to pole, and untied the rope holding the sail, and threw it down. Luna caught it, and tied it up with the spare rope.
Everyone was now drenched from the rain, and the situation was deteriorating quickly. The water, which was choppy just before the storm, was even worse now. Fifteen-foot swells rocked the tiny raft. Brian and the others were finding it very hard not to stay on the raft, and not be swept away, off into the tumultuous sea. The wind howled, making that challenge even more difficult.
Behind the raft, a huge wave surged. Luna turned around to see it, and she screamed in horror.
“Hang on tight!” Lauren yelled at the top of her lungs.
The five grabbed onto the raft as best as they could. The wave crested, and crashed down upon them. It felt as if the raft would be ripped apart, but it held together. Brian had an especially hard time hanging on. He was the last one to realize that the wave was coming, and didn’t have much time to hang on; he hadn’t gotten a very good grip. His knuckles were white, doing everything in their power to hang on. But it wasn’t enough. The wild force of the ocean was too powerful. As the wave washed over them, Brian was separated from the raft, and thrown into the sea.
He held his breath underwater, hoping, praying that at any second, his head would pop up above the surface. Ten seconds passed, twenty…Brian was being pulled away from the where the raft bobbed up and down, thirty seconds, and still no emergence to the air. A minute had then passed, and when it felt as if his lungs would burst, he reached the surface.
The others, once the monstrous wave had passed, had regained a bit of their composure, and were able to stand on the raft once again.
“Where’s Brian?” Mitch exclaimed.
“Brian!” Luna yelled as loud as she could, with a look of pure terror in her face.
They saw his head pop up, “Oh, thank God.” She exclaimed.
As Brian surfaced, he took a deep breath, and it was very timely. For, just a few seconds after, another wave pulled him under.
Luna and Mitch grabbed the two paddles, and desperately tried to get to the spot where they saw Brian surface. The wind, the waves, the storm itself was against them.
“What can we do?” Luna cried.
This time, the sea was not as lenient to Brian. He stayed underwater for over two minutes. He could hardly think; he was deprived of oxygen. And then, after another minute, Brian’s world went black.
The storm hadn’t lasted long, and when it cleared it seemed more calm and serene than ever. The wind had stopped altogether, and the water was placid, like blue glass. Up ahead of the raft, land was in sight.
“Ha, ha!” Luna laughed in bliss, undaunted for the moment.
“It’s about time! We’ll have to paddle to shore.” Lauren concurred.
Diana and Luna each picked up a paddle, and went to work. It wasn’t long before they reached the shore. There was a long, sandy beach, and beyond it was a lush, deciduous forest. Luna, Mitch, Lauren, and Diana jumped off of the raft, and pulled up onto the shore.

[~END VIII~]

Alakazam
10-29-2004, 11:38 PM
[Chapter IX: Terror from the Mountains! Inventory Check.]

As the four scanned their eyes over the continent they just landed on, they saw a body washed up on shore. They hurriedly ran over to it.
“Brian?” Luna cried, dropping to her knees.
The body was indeed that of Brian. As she spoke to him, he stirred. He opened his eyes to see Luna, Lauren, Mitch, and Diana standing over him.
“What happened?” he asked weakly, sitting up.
“We were caught in a storm, and you were washed overboard. You’re lucky to have survived.” Diana explained.
“Oh, right.” Brian remembered, “I’d rather not remember.”
Brian stood up.
“Well, we’d better hide this raft.” Brian suggested.
“Yeah, you’re right.” Mitch agreed.
Brian, Luna, Mitch, Lauren, and Diana lifted the raft with little difficulty. They hid it in a grove of tress close to the beach.
“According to the professor, the warehouse is to the north.” Diana stated.
“Let’s get going then.” Lauren replied.
The five walked north into a forest. It wasn’t very large; they were able to reach the other edge of the wood in under a half hour.

*-*-*-*-*

“Hurry up, you fools!” a woman with long, brown hair rushed out of a small, dilapidated wooden shack. She was clothed in dark purple, and held a glaive in her left hand. She turned to face the door where she had just come out. Six men came outside, and lined up in a row in front of her.
“Yes, ma’am.” they greeted in unison, standing at attention and saluting.
“What peons…” the woman sighed at the rigidity and over discipline of the men.
She turned away from them.” Down below is the small village of Nortum.” She began.
“But Becky, we already know that.” one of the men interrupted.
“Silence, knave!” she exclaimed, yelling in his face, “And you will address me as ma’am, boss, master, lord, m’lord, or maybe Rebecca, if I’m in a good mood! If anyone addresses me as anything else, the Earth shall tremble! Am I understood?”
“Yes.” The men replied.
“As I was saying, below us lies the village of Nortum, in which lays a warehouse. A professor owns it from some far off city in the south. We are going to raid it, and take anything and everything of value.” Rebecca explained.
“Yes, ma’am!” the men responded.
Rebecca led the way down the steep mountain slope. They descended from the shack down to the base of the mountains. Before them lay the village.
The seven entered the village casually, but their reputation preceded them. People fled from the streets, barring themselves in their homes, saturated with fear. By the time they reached the warehouse, Nortum was a ghost town.
Rebecca pounded on the door, “C’mon now…open up! I haven’t got all day.”
There was no answer.
“Fine then, we’ll do it the hard way.” Rebecca stepped back a few feet from the door. She closed her eyes, and raised her arm. From it emanated an invisible wave of energy. It struck the door, knocking it down with a loud crash.
“She’s one good psycho.” One of the lackeys whispered to another.
“That’s psychic, you moron!” Rebecca snapped, “Follow me.”
Rebecca and her six minions walked into the warehouse. There were drawers and crates everywhere. To her right, close to the outside door, there was a small office. Two people were inside. Paralyzed with fear, they weren’t moving an inch.
Rebecca took a deep breath through her nose.
“Can you smell it? Fear…”
The minions ran around, rounding up the other workers. They met little resistance. Rebecca locked them all in the office.
“We don’t need anyone getting in our way.” She told the workers.
She turned to her lackeys, “Ransack this whole place, and take anything of value. I’ll guard the workers.
The six men went to work. They tore threw all the drawers, and ripped open the crates. The warehouse was quite large, and it took them nearly an hour to finish. They put the valuable items in a large sack. They approached Rebecca.
“It’s about time; give me that.” Rebecca complained, taking the sack.
She opened it and found it full of precious stones. Sapphires, rubies, and emeralds glittered.
“Most of the stuff in this place is worthless. It almost wasn’t worth the trouble, boss…” one of the minions commented.
Rebecca looked up at him with a disgusted look on his face, “That is not for you to worry about. Who do you think you are?” she exclaimed, raising her voice.
“Well, well, I just thought-“ the man stammered.
“That’s just it! What have I told you about thinking? You are not to think; that’s what I am here for.” she berated.
Rebecca tied the sack up with a length of rope, and slung it over her shoulder. It was very heavy, and she had trouble walking with the cumbrous weight upon her.
“C’mon boys, we’re outta here.” Rebecca instructed.

[To be continued...]

Alakazam
10-29-2004, 11:39 PM
[Chapter IX: Terror from the Mountains! Inventory Check.], continued

*-*-*-*-*

After having crossed the grasslands north of the forest, Brian, Luna, Mitch, Lauren, and Diana were approaching the foothills of the mountains. Before them lay the small village of Nortum.
“Phew…we’re finally here.” Lauren exclaimed.
“The five entered the village. There was no one in the streets.
“How desolate…” Luna pondered.
“Yeah, I hope we can find the warehouse.” Diana worried.
Houses lined the streets, and there were signs that people were home. Picnic tables were covered with food. Next to a pile of newly cut wood an axe lay on the ground out in the open. It seemed as if daily life had stopped abruptly, and everyone scurried into the safety of their homes. Brian walked up to one of the houses and knocked on the door. There was no answer, but he could see someone inside, sizing up the visitor.
Brian persisted, and didn’t walk away. After a few minutes, the haggard old woman inside the house opened the door a crack.
“Who are you, and what do you want?” she asked. Brian’s sword and armor made her very uneasy.
“I’m looking for the warehouse. Do you know where it is?” Brian asked.
“You want to raid it too?” the woman returned.
“Huh?” Brian exclaimed.
“Don’t play games with me! I may be old, but I’m as sharp as a spear.” the woman retorted.
“Listen, woman, we’re on very important business…” Brian began.
“Oh, I bet you are…” the woman interrupted.
Brian ignored her interruption, “…and we haven’t time for nonsense.”
“Are you insinuating that I-“
“Yes.” Brian shouted, cutting her off. “What a ridiculous hag. I guess we’ll have to find it ourselves.”
“Brian, don’t you see that these people are frightened of something?” Diana exclaimed with fervor.
“Of…of course.” Brian replied, “But of what?”
“Maybe the answer to that question will present itself at the warehouse.” Luna suggested, “It shouldn’t be too hard to find. It’s supposed to be huge.”
The five continued down the road. At the end was a huge building, the biggest in the village. The door was in pieces on the ground.
“This must be it.” Brian commented.
“I wonder what happened.” Mitch pondered.
Inside, it looked as if a tornado had hit it. There were crates broken, strewn everywhere. The whole place was a mess.
“Hey, let us out of here.” A voice cried out loudly.
There was a small office near the front door. Brian and the others rushed over to it. There were five workers inside; a chair propped up against the door kept them from leaving. Brian removed the chair, and opened the door. The workers came out, frantic.
“It was them…her…” one of them stuttered.
“Who?” Luna asked.
“Rebecca and her goons. They never give up.” The manager answered.
“We were sent by Professor Steele. We need some adamant…do you have any?” Luna inquired.
“I’m not sure. I think so, but they probably took it.” The manager replied.
“Well then, we’ll have to get it back, along with anything else they stole, right Brian?” Lauren suggested, snickering.
“Of course.” Brian concurred, making a sour face at Lauren.
“Where can we find this Rebecca?” Mitch asked.
“It is said that she resides in the mountains to the north.” one of the workers offered.
“Thank you.” Diana responded.
Brian, Luna, Mitch, Lauren, and Diana left the building, and the village. In front of them, a high, steep, rocky mountain range towered.

*-*-*-*-*

The sack of loot was so heavy that Rebecca and the others were just reaching the shack. They walked inside, and descended a long flight of stairs. Rebecca put the sack on the floor, and heaved a sigh of relief. It didn’t take long for her attitude to change from one of relaxation to her normal bossy self.
“Man the periscopes! We must never keep our defenses down for long.” Rebecca yelled.
“Sure, boss.” one worker responded.
“Right away, boss.” another worker responded.
They each walked to the wall, one on each side of the staircase from which they had just entered. They each pulled down a periscope. The periscopes reached up through the rocky soil of the mountain to the outside world, where close surveillance could be kept in the vicinity.
“Hey, boss, you gotta see this!” one of the lackeys shouted.
“Let me see!” Rebecca demanded, pushing the man out of the way and looking through the lens of the periscope, “Hmm…they are well-equipped. They must be looking for us after the big heist.”
She stepped away from the periscope.
“Release the boulders!” Rebecca instructed sternly.
“Right away, master.” the two men answered.
They both pulled a large lever, and a loud rumbling could be heard outside.

[To be continued...]

Alakazam
10-29-2004, 11:40 PM
[Chapter IX: Terror from the Mountains! Inventory Check.], continued

*-*-*-*-*

“Look out!” Luna yelled.
Two large boulders, about ten feet tall were rolling down the steep slope towards them. One of them was headed straight for Brian, who was looking down, taking care of his steps on the steep grade.
He looked up to see a huge boulder bearing down on him. Thinking fast, he drew his sword and thrust it into the boulder. It shattered, and crumbled around him. He climbed out of the rubble.
“Are you okay?” Mitch asked.
“Yeah…I think so.” Brian replied.
“Guys, we’re not out of the woods yet. Look up there, on the ridge!” Diana interrupted.
More boulders, at least fifty of them were rolling down the hill towards them. These, at least, were only a few feet in diameter. But, their comparatively smaller size made them even deadlier.
“We’ve got to get up to that ridge as quickly as we can!” Lauren decided.
So, the five warriors ran, jumping and dodging the boulders, up the barren slope at a breakneck pace. There were a few close calls, but they all made it up safely. Before them, over the ridge, stood a small, simple wooden shack.
“This is it?” Mitch wondered aloud.
Just as Mitch had spoken, the old, wooden door of the shack burst open, and two men rushed outside. They were dressed in drab, earth-tone clothes. At their belts, katanas hung, shining in the bright sunlight.
“You’ll never get to Rebecca!” one of the men cried.
The two drew their katanas, prepared for battle. Brian, Luna, Mitch, and Lauren drew their weapons in response. Diana did not draw her bow.
“Oh, we’ll see about that!” Brian retorted.
Diana closed her eyes, and folded her hands in front of her chest.
“Quicksand!” she shouted, opening her eyes.
Diana thrusted her arms towards one of the guards. The ground beneath him softened, and became quicksand. He began to sink into it.
“Ah! Help me!” He yelled in fear, as he began to thrash around, which only accelerated his descent.
The other guard backed away, assuring his own survival.
When the first guard’s head sunk beneath the shifting sands, Diana clapped her hands. The quicksand then hardened, returning to it’s original state.
“Wow…” Brian stood in awe.
“Yes, I have the power to use earth magic…watch out!” Diana warned.
The remaining guard was swinging his katana at Brian. Brian quickly blocked the attack with his sword, and slashed the man’s wrist that held his katana. The guard dropped the weapon, and stumbled back in pain, holding his bleeding wrist. Little did he know how insignificant the pain he was then feeling compared to that of what was about to befall him.
Brian closed his eyes, readying a spell to finish off his adversary.
“Fire!” Brian shot a fireball at the guard’s head, at nearly point-blank range. The guard was thrown back to the ground, gone for good.
“Should we enter?” Brian asked with confidence, motioning towards the shack.
The five walked through the open door. The shack was empty, with the exception of a staircase in front of them leading down.
“Maybe there’s more to this place then it seems.” Luna pondered.
Brian and the others began their descent. The stairs were very long, and after a few minutes they had reached the bottom. It led into a relatively large, plain, wooden room. As they entered, they saw four more swordsman, very similar to the two guards the group had defeated outside. Standing behind the guards was a tall, dark-haired woman holding a glaive. Next to her was a large cloth sack, overflowing with jewels.
“I’m surprised you fools made it this far, but I assure you, this is as far as you will come!” the tall woman declared, “Guards, dispose of them.”
Brian and the other four drew their weapons, as did the four guards.
Diana knocked her bow, and shot an arrow at one of the swordsman. It struck him through the throat; he fell to the floor, never to let out another breath. Another of the guards lunged at Luna, attacking with his katana. Luna dodged the blade, and fought back with her claws. She kicked the guard’s legs out from under him, and slashed viciously at his midsection as he fell, defeated.
The remaining two guards attacked Brian together. Brian jumped as they slashed downwards with their katanas. He impaled one of them through the back with his sword.
“Brian, duck!” Lauren shouted.
Brian ducked, and, as the remaining guard stood up, Lauren’s boomerang decapitated him. Lauren caught both of the slashers, and wiped the blood off on her shirt.
“Arrgh…how did you defeat my guards so quickly!?” Rebecca yelled in frustration.
“You don’t know who you’re dealing with; Rebecca, I presume?” Brian returned.
“It is not wise to presume, but, yes…I am known as Rebecca. My name strikes fear into the hearts of men, women, and children alike. I take what I want, without resistance or regret…and it is you who has no idea what you’re up against.”
“You talk big, but let’s see how tough you really are!” Brian exclaimed.
“What a foolish decision, one you will eternally regret!” Rebecca exclaimed, rushing at Brian, with her glaive at the ready. She slashed at Brian with it. He met the blade with his sword, and, while they were struggling, kicked Rebecca in the stomach. She doubled over in pain, and back away a bit.
Diana knocked her bow, and shot an arrow at Rebecca. She turned the shaft away with the blade of her glaive.
Rebecca held out both of her arms, “This is the end.”
She released an invisible wave of psychic energy. Brian, Luna, Mitch, Lauren, and Diana were pushed back, and smashed against the wall behind them. Rebecca charged at them, and pinned Brian to the wall with the pole of her glaive.
“How do you feel now, fool?” she gloated.
Brian noticed Luna, Mitch, and Lauren regrouping behind Rebecca, preparing to cast their magic.
Brian grinned, “I’m fine; how are you?”
“Huh?” she exclaimed.
“Spark!”
“Gust!”
“Gas!”
Luna, Mitch, and Lauren cast their spells at the same time, Luna’s electricity, Mitch’s wind, and Lauren’s poison.
Rebecca didn’t even have time to turn around. The three energies all struck her in the back consecutively. She screamed in pain.
“What power…” she marveled.
Diana stood above Rebecca, now on the floor.
“I’ll finish this.” She claimed as she pulled back the string towards her eye on her loaded bow.

[~END IX~]

Alakazam
10-31-2004, 07:57 PM
[Chapter X Sorrowful end a Decisive Battle! An Icy Trek

Diana let her shaft fly, and Rebecca moved her head, barely avoiding the arrow. She stood up slowly, the others backed away slowly.
“Your power…” she began weakly, “…is more than I can contend with. But, I will not allow you to take my life. No one will leave this place alive!”
Rebecca pulled a lever on the wall behind her. Loud rumbling could be heard, and fire began to burn the walls and ceiling of the chamber.
“What are you doing!?” Lauren yelled.
“Ending it all…” Rebecca replied, “Your lives as well as mine.”
Holding her glaive, she stabbed herself in the chest. She attacked with pinpoint precision, striking her heart. She fell to the floor in a pool of blood, the deed complete.
“What a coward!” Mitch exclaimed, with great emotion.
Luna was quite shaken by the event, yet she remained silent.
“Look, guys, we can reflect on this later. Right now we gotta get outta here!” Lauren cut through the solemn silence.
The fire had spread to all four walls, and parts of the floor. It also spread to the ceiling and walls of the staircase. The five began to move towards the stairs.
“Wait! What about the stones?” Diana interjected, straining to be heard over the loud crackling of flame.
“You’re right. That was the whole point of this venture…” Luna realized.
Everyone rushed back to where the large sack was sitting on the floor. Brian tried to lift it, but couldn’t lift it very far.
“Ughh…we’re gonna have to all work together to get this thing back.” Brian stated.
Brian and the other four lifted the sack at the same time, and began to carry it towards the stairs. It took all of their combined strength to move. Wooden beams were crashing down around them. They began to climb the stairs, at an even slower pace.
“If we don’t make it out of here soon, we’re certain to be trapped.” Diana warned.
The temperature rose to an almost intolerable level, yet the group pressed on. Step by step, second by second, they ascended the stairs, now struggling to breathe.
“I think I can see the light!” Luna exclaimed, coughing.
At last the five reached the top of the stairs. The walked out of the shack into open air. Brian, Luna, Mitch, Lauren, and Diana made their way slowly down the mountain to Nortum.
Things were a bit less deserted in the village; people had started to emerge from their houses. The group walked back into the warehouse. The workers were beginning to get back into their daily routine. The manager approached the group, looking relieved.
“Oh, thank God you were able to retrieve the stones; they are priceless!” the manager declared.
“Yeah…we’re okay too.” Lauren mumbled.
“So, is there any adamant in there?” Luna asked.
The workers began to sort out the bag, cataloguing its contents. When the sack was empty, the manager turned to the five again, very embarrassed.
“I’m sorry…there isn’t any adamant here.” he declared.
“What!? You mean to tell us that we just risked our lives for nothing!?” Lauren exploded.
“No, no, of course not…we really needed those gems returned. We really are eternally grateful, “ the manager replied, flustered, “But, I can give you a tip on finding adamant.”
“Yes?” Brian asked, keenly interested.
“There is a scholar of geology, a very learnéd lad, Patrick Rutherford. He attends Medesa University, and should be able to lead you to where adamant can be found in nature.” the manager explained.
“Thank you for your assistance.” Diana replied.
They began to leave the building.
“Wait! I would never forgive myself if I didn’t tell you.” the manager stopped them.
“Tell us what?” Brian inquired.
“The militia in Medesa has become more active as of late. They won’t allow anyone other than residents enter the city.” the manager explained.
“Then how will we get in…” Mitch pondered.
“It is said that there is a pendant held by the dwarves that will grant entry into Medesa,” he explained, “They do not fear those who are so close to the Earth. There is a village inhabited by the dwarves on the continent to the northeast. It is in a valley deep in the heart of the mountains.”
“So, if we can obtain this pendant, we should be able to get to the university.” Brian pondered.
“…You catch on fast…” Lauren taunted.
Brian ignored the comment.
“Shall we be off?” Diana suggested.
“Indeed.” Brian decided.
Brian, Luna, Mitch, Lauren, and Diana left the warehouse. They left Nortum, and walked south towards the place where the raft was hidden. It was relatively easy to find; they worked together to get it back to the water. They unfurled the sail, and Lauren took charge once again.
“So, how are we going to find this other continent? Luna wondered aloud.
Lauren took a compass out from her jacket.
“Well, we’ll just sail northeast until we sight land.” Lauren answered.
“What a plan…” Mitch returned sarcastically.
“Would you like to navigate, Mitch?” Lauren asked angrily.
“Uh, no. That’s okay.” Mitch replied, embarrassed.
“As I thought.” Lauren finished, victorious.
Lauren sailed the raft east along the shore.
We’ll turn north as soon as we can. Then we’ll head northeast into open ocean.” Lauren declared.
The shoreline was dotted with trees, completely uninhabited. The travelers continued east for an hour or so, when they were able to turn onto a more northeasterly direction.
The wind blew fiercely, rocking the raft.
“What if we can’t find it?” Brian asked.
“We will.” Lauren confirmed with complete confidence.

[To be continued..]

Alakazam
10-31-2004, 07:58 PM
[Chapter X Sorrowful end a Decisive Battle! An Icy Trek], continued

They sailed for hours on their course. As they proceeded, the air became colder, and the winds wilder. Just as the hope of the group was almost spent, shoreline appeared over the horizon in front of them.
“There it is!” Luna jumped for joy.
The raft grew closer and closer to shore, until they finally landed.
Luna shivered.
“I can see my breath.” she commented.
“Yeah, it’s rather cold here.” Brian agreed.
There was snow on the ground, at least a half a foot of it. The five began to walk north. The pace was slow; the snow was deep. Off in the distance to the north snowy mountains stood high.
“The mountains…we must make for them as soon as possible.” Diana observed.
The sun was low in the sky, and, painting the air bright colors of orange and pink. As they sunk sank ever lower in the sky, it grew colder.
“We’ve got to find a place to spend the night.” Mitch commented, breathing into his hands in an effort to warm them up.
“Yes; we must conserve our energy, and rest.” Diana concurred.
“Look! We’re sure to find some shelter in there.” Brian observed, looking in front of him.
Before them lay the edge of a forest. Thick, snow-covered evergreens marked the wood’s boundary. The five ventured foreword wearily, fearful of what may lie within. There was a narrow path on the snow-covered ground; they followed, seeing no clearer way. It was quite dark inside, the trees shaded out most of remaining day’s light. Brian and the others slowly slogged through the deep snow, searching for a place to sleep. At one point, the narrow trail widened into a small clearing. In the center was a log cabin, with a brick chimney.
“I wonder who would choose to live in such a desolate place…” Luna murmured.
“Maybe they did not have the luxury of choice.” Diana offered in reply.
Brian walked up to the door, and knocked. He waited for a minute or two with no reply.
“Hmm…should we go in?” Brian asked his companions.
“Sure, we might as well. It’s so cold, and we’re all tired. We can’t go much farther today.” Lauren answered.
Brian turned the knob, and pushed the door open. Inside, there was a bed with blankets upon it. A small, plain, wooden table stood in the middle of the room. Food and dirty plates were strewn on it. A single chair sat beside the table.
“Whoever lives or lived here sure left in a hurry.” Mitch observed.
There were smoldering embers in the hearth, and a small stack of wood lay beside it.
“I’ll get a fire going, but this wood won’t last us through the night.” Lauren offered.
“I’ll go get some wood.” Mitch volunteered.
“And I’ll help.” Diana added.
Mitch and Diana walked outside to gather some wood. Their mindset was focused on the welfare of the group, and not their singular well being, for it was incredibly cold outside. Lauren knelt in front of the hearth, and began to build a fire. She took the logs that were next to the fireplace, and placed them on top of each other, in a log cabin structure. Brian was looking around the one room building, searching for some kind of clue about the owner of the cabin. On the floor, a small, leather-bound book lay open. Next to it lay a quill of a large, beautiful, snow white feather. The tip of the quill was stained black, and was dripping black with ink. Brian bent down and picked up the book; his curiosity whetted. The book appeared to be a journal or diary of some sort. Brian read from the page that was left open:

March 3rd,

Today was even worse than yesterday. He’s watching me. I know it. I no longer feel safe going outside, but my food is running low…I must make for mountains as soon as possib

The last word was cut off, as if the author stopped writing abruptly.
“Lauren, look at this.” Brian asked, handing her the journal.
Lauren, who had just got a fire going, stood up, and took the book. She read the passage that Brian had just finished.
“How curious...” Lauren spoke in wonder and thoughtfulness after finishing the entry.
“It sure is.” Brian replied, going over its meaning in his mind.
“Do you think we are safe here, Brian?” Lauren asked, becoming plagued with insecurity, which was oddly unbecoming of her.
“Yeah, I’m sure we’ll be fine.” Brian lied.
He had his own doubts about their safety, but, as long as they were all together, he didn’t feel as if they were in real jeopardy. He tried not to think about it too much, and his awareness became heightened.
“What’s up, guys?” Luna asked, walking over to where Brian and Lauren were standing.
Lauren handed her the journal, and Luna read it. When she had finished, a grave, frightened countenance overtook her.
“…Hmm…” she pondered, scared at what the journal entry could be talking about…a mysterious predator? A stalker maybe?” She had no way of knowing, and tried to keep her fears bottled up.
The door opened, breaking the pensive silence. Mitch and Diana had returned, and they both carried under their arms bundles of wood. They put the fire fuel down on the floor next to the hearth. Brian read the journal entry aloud, so as not to keep Mitch and Diana out of the loop.
“That can’t be a good thing.” Mitch responded. He wasn’t too worried about the situation, though it was more blind unawareness rather than bravery that accounted for it.
“Well, I think we should leave at dawn.” Diana suggested.
“Good idea.” Lauren readily agreed, “C’mon, let’s try to make the most out of this; at least we’re warm.”
She placed another pair of logs strategically on the fire, as if she had much experience with such tasks. The small flame grew into a warm blaze. The five travelers sat around the fireplace, trying to stay as warm as possible on such a frigid night. Slowly, one by one, the crackling of the fire lulled the weary wanderers into sleep. First Diana, Lauren next, then Mitch. Luna was sitting next to Brian.
“Brian, can I ask you a question?” Luna asked seriously.
“Sure; shoot.” Brian replied.
“What would you do if I were ever in danger?” Luna asked, resting her head on Brian’s chest.
Brian was taken aback in surprise by the question; he was not expecting such an inquiry. He looked into her eyes as he answered, conveying his utmost sincerity.
“I would do anything and everything possible to save you, even if it meant putting myself at risk. I don’t think I could bear to see you hurt, especially if it could be me in your place.”
Luna smiled; she was content. She had wanted to know whether or not her feelings for Brian were unrequited; it was not so. Brian and Luna gazed into each other’s eyes, as all fears of their situation melted away. They leaned closer and closer, until their lips, and indeed, their very souls touched. They shared a long, passionate kiss that lasted for two minutes. When their lips finally parted, they were both elated.
A period of thoughtful, comforting silence followed. The crackling of the fire was the only audible sound. Luna cuddled up to Brian, trying to get warm and comfortable, much to his enjoyment and happiness. They both stared into the flickering flames of the fire. Brian ran his fingers through Luna’s hair. It felt smooth, soft, and silky. Luna slowly drifted off into sweet slumber. Brian fell asleep soon thereafter, holding Luna close.
That night, the wind picked up, and it began to snow. Only flurries at the outset, but it quickly grew into a formidable blizzard. Some hours later, Luna awoke in Brian’s arms. Lauren, who was already awake, walked over to Luna.
“Did ya sleep well, Luna?” Lauren asked tauntingly.
Luna, very embarrassed, sprung up to her feet, knocking Brian over onto the floor.
“Fine…just fine.” Luna answered sheepishly.
Brian, who fell over onto the floor, and hit his head, woke up. He stood up, rubbing his head.
“What was that for?” Brian asked.
Luna didn’t reply, and Brian didn’t seem to care. Before long, the others had awakened. Diana looked out the window.
“The dawn isn’t something we’ll get to see this morning, yet we still must be off.” she observed.
The snow outside was falling fast and heavily. No one really wanted to venture out into the elements, yet they were weary of their safety at the cabin. They all realized that they would have to cross the mountains.
So Brian, Luna, Mitch, Lauren, and Diana left the cabin, and proceeded through the forest. They reached the other end quickly. As they left the forest, they could hardly see. The mountains were in front of them on the other side of a treeless field. They could hardly see the mountains.
Brian was in the lead as they began their ascent on what seemed to be a path. There was two feet of snow on the ground; they kept their heads low in an attempt to avoid the chilling wind. As they climbed upwards, they began to wonder how long their trek would be.

[~END X~]