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 Wackanory - Story Time

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VII
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PostSubject: Wackanory - Story Time   Sat Apr 19, 2008 1:38 pm

Well, Jacka-f***in'-nory it ain't... but let's see how far I can be bothered to keep this going:

(As of yet this story is yet to be titled...)



.....A butterfly danced its way elegantly to the open yellow flower that peered over Danjul, and unfurled its long tongue into the trumpet bursting from the golden petals. He let out a content sigh, and watched the creature slowly fold and unfold its autumn-coloured wings, absorbing the warm rays of the early afternoon sun.
.....This is what it’s all about, he thought as he lay on his back beside a fallen tree, his head amongst a bed of daffodils, listening to the peaceful sounds of nature around him. A deep reservoir to his right quietly lapped the shore, disturbing the loose stones and pebbles on its banks as the water rocked backwards and forwards over them. Birds sang songs that even the keenest bard or opera singer could not imitate, as they heralded the crisp spring air that enveloped the En Moors that day. Danjul sighed again as the breeze brought the delicate scent of new flowers and fresh soil from the nearby fields. It had been a good idea of his to get away from the stifled confines of his hometown, and enjoy the leisure of getting back to nature again. It had been a particularly cold winter until recently, which had forced most people to stay inside their homes and hibernate. But now that the sun had begun to bring its familiar warmth and spring was upon them again, there was more of a drive to leave the towns and travel the wilderness… but not too deep, mind. Though Danjul was admittedly foolhardy at times, he was not so much a fool that he would wander too far from his hometown of Bruge. Dangerous things lived in the wildernesses away from civilisation - that he knew, and not just bandits and roaming Town Orcs walked the quiet country roads at night. That is why Danjul had chosen a reservoir he knew was only a day’s travel west of Bruge, if anything should happen he would be able to make a simple retreat to the town in less than no time. On failing that, he also had other security – the trusty sheathed shortsword that he was presently using as a headrest, not that he was ever expecting to use it. The most trouble he could expect round these parts was either being chased by a mean-looking bull in the field further up the bank… or being chased by an angry farmer for disturbing his bull. At least, that’s what Danjul thought.
......He had no reason to suspect otherwise while he lay shirtless on the soft green grass, smiling eyes-closed up at the sun. Not much could get better than this, he thought to himself. Well…maybe a greenweed pipe. He sat up, brushing off the grass that had stuck to his back, and opened a small metal tin where he kept his greenweed. After he had loaded his decorative wooden pipe and began puffing away, he decided to check the fishing line he had left dangling in the water from a twig. The thin line was taut, suggesting that Danjul might have some lunch to eat on this increasingly pleasant afternoon. Carefully winding the line round the twig in his hand, he drew his catch in, slowly as not to break the line and let his meal escape. Soon the struggling form of a medium-sized rainbow-coloured fish broke the surface by the edge of the water. Danjul gave himself a little cheer, feeling proud of his catch. He’d never caught a fish before, and even though it wasn’t an immensely huge one, it was still a good size to eat. Unsure of how to kill it humanely, he opted for letting it drown in the air while he built a small fire to cook it. He’d read about people who had nearly died drowning, and they claimed it was quite a peaceful experience. When he was sure the fish had stopped wriggling and was dead, he began gutting it with his talon-esque hunter’s knife. Danjul had never done this before either, and was a little put off by the texture of the offal in his hands. Putting the prepared fish on a flat rock and the offal in a pan of water, he placed them both amongst the orange-glowing embers and dancing flames.
.......As the pan began to bubble, Danjul suddenly realised he had forgotten to get any other ingredients for (what was to be) the fish stew. Cursing his forgetfulness, he stole himself away from the food to forage for plants and berries. The cooking food would be safe in the fire, guarded from any curious scavengers that may follow the scent. Danjul followed the shoreline, looking beneath the trees and fallen branches for anything useful, and amongst bushes and grass tufts for any sign of mushrooms or the like. He had only found some mint and some dandelion leaves by the time he noticed the curious figure further up the shoreline.
......Wrapped in brown rags, the mysterious person was crouched over, facing away from Danjul. He approached the figure slowly, not wishing to startle whoever it was. Maybe they know of some more ingredients growing around here, he pondered and walked close enough to see the figure a little clearer. It appeared to be doing something furiously difficult as it tugged this way and that, grappling at something in front of it, grunting frustratedly. Despite the figure being slightly taller than him, Danjul took the figure to be an old woman as he caught a flash of long, black matted hair beneath the brown rags that hung loosely over a hunched back.
.......“Excuse m…” Danjul stopped dead as he saw the severed human hand by the old woman’s feet. The old woman turned round fast, and Danjul could see it wasn’t a woman at all! A grotesque, green slimy face peered back at him with fierce and fanatical eyes, a crooked nose and mouth spattered with red mess. The figure stood over what was now clearly a grotesque pile of human remains. A Forest Troll! It was too late for Danjul to react, as something hard and wooden slammed upwards into his chest, lifting him off his feet and sending him flying into a nearby tree. Danjul picked himself up quickly, leaves and twigs poking out his hair, and not really knowing what had just happened. The troll stood firm where it had been, a skull-headed club or shortstaff held solid in its green claw. That’s what hurt so much, he realised rubbing his bruised ribs. No more surprises. Danjul went to grab his sword from his belt, but gasped in horror as he pictured the sword back at the campfire. This was going to be harder than he’d hoped.
.......“Come on,” he taunted, egging the creature to attack again, though not really sure what he was going to do when it did. “Come on then!” The troll screeched back angrily, spraying bits of spittle and chewed meat from its mouth and began to charge. Danjul ducked as the club swung inches from his head, tearing the flesh from the tree behind him, showering him in a mist of splinters. Still ducking, he counterstruck with a pathetic right-hook to the creature’s ribs. The creature responded with a downward elbow on his back, throwing him to the floor with a groan. Danjul rolled out of the way just in time as the troll followed down with his club. Dust billowed up from the dry mud patch the troll had struck, blinding it long enough for Danjul to get up and land a less pathetic hook to the creature’s cheek. The troll stumbled back a bit, giving the illusion the creature had lost its balance. But Danjul didn’t see the clever countermove and ignorantly stumbled in to strike again. This time the troll spun wildly around, the club held out low. The carved wooden weapon cracked him in the back of the legs, immediately knocking him on his back. The landing knocked the air out of his lungs, and Danjul thought it was all over as the troll raised the club high above its head, ready to crush his skull in a second...

(To be continued...)


Stay tuned to find out what happens to our hero, will the caped crusader Danjul escape the Troll's clutches or will he be minced into a monster's meal! I shall add the next episode in a couple of days (just be to be really annoying... and this way nobody gets overloaded by pages to read...) Turn on, Tune in, Drop out... next time!



Last edited by VII on Mon Apr 21, 2008 8:04 am; edited 2 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: Wackanory - Story Time   Sat Apr 19, 2008 2:32 pm

Yey! I love this story! Good idea to post it! Enjoy peeps, I know I did! Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: Wackanory - Story Time   Mon Apr 21, 2008 7:18 am

PAGE II (continued)

Everything went slow, and the colour went from his vision, until an unpleasant wetness splashed across his face, startling his senses back into focus. A sharp wooden spear-tip protruded from the troll’s sternum, glistening with wet blood. There was complete stillness for a moment, before the troll began to teeter like a falling tree. Face frozen, it dropped the weapon behind, and landed clumsily on top of Danjul. He struggled to push the heavy corpse away from him, a short wooden spear stuck firmly in its back. Finally, freeing himself from the troll’s body, Danjul was pleased to hear a familiar voice.
......“I leave you alone for just ten minutes,” came the gentle, mocking voice of a young lady. “And you almost get your head bashed in by whatever that was. What would you do without me?”
......“Melanie!”
......Melanie stood with one hand on her hip, and the other on a sharp dagger, its handle carved from a horn of some description. She was an attractive girl of about twenty, and although she wasn’t very tall, the heels on her black knee-length boots gave the opposite impression. She wore tight black leggings beneath a long, white shirt, unbuttoned at the top. Tied across her waist was a corded cloth belt that pulled the shirt tight against her chest. She smiled down at Danjul, and he smiled back at her with troll’s blood smeared across his eyes, nose and cheek.
.......“You were gone a while,” he pointed out casually as Melanie helped him to his feet. Her little pointed ears poked cheekily out of her soft dark-brown hair.
......“I was trying my hand at hunting,” she replied, giving Danjul a kiss on the cheek (making sure it was the one without any troll on it). Danjul and Melanie had been lovers for nearly two and a half years. It had been Danjul’s idea of a romantic trip to come to the reservoir in the first place.
.....“Did you catch anything?”
.....“Well…” the half-elf girl just issued a finger towards the dead troll. “It counts. Anyway, what happened to you? I left you fishing... and this happens?”


.......After returning to the fire and to a rather flavourless fish stew with burnt trout, Danjul told Melanie about his series of events, while she washed the dirt from the grazes on his back, arms and hands. Although neither of them had done very well in what they were supposed to do, they enjoyed the simple provisions of cheese and bread to stop themselves from going hungry, and opened a jar of wine, to keep away the chill.
......“If we should risk camping here,” began Danjul, picking up his shortsword. “I suggest I keep watch for the night, in case we have any more unusual encounters.”
......“You don’t mind not sleeping?”
......“Nah, I probably won’t get tired until morning anyway.”
......Danjul and Melanie took advantage of the remaining daylight hours to gather tree branches and thorn bushes for the perimeter to their camp, arranging them in a horseshoe shape with the fire in the centre. It was while Danjul was making the finishing touches to the wall of thorns when they heard the first cannon-blast. The first boom echoed across the moors, surprising Danjul so much he fell into the thorns. Melanie made a startled squeak in surprise. After hurriedly scrambling out of the brambles and hawthorn, Danjul jumped to his feet, yelping and cursing, and peered in the direction of the blast. The initial shot was followed by a series of quieter explosions, presumably muskets. After exchanging startled expressions with Melanie, they grabbed their weapons and broke into a sprint towards the noise. Danjul was fortunately too preoccupied to notice the several thorns in his legs and buttocks.

.......It was through two large, grassy fields they traversed before they finally saw the cause of the cacophony. A confusing yet startling spectacle lay before them in the next field. A small band of soldiers - no more than fifteen men struggling in violent turmoil, clashed swords with spears, and pikes with daggers, firing flintlocks and muskets at each other. The observing couple crouched low as not to be struck by stray shots. Blood hung like a tangible mist as soldier hacked down soldier, and bodies lay brutalised and twitching on the stained dirt. The fighting seemed savagely barbaric, a sense of primitive and animal-like instinct forcing men to butcher each other, both with weapons and without. Some of the men tore at their opponents with just their gnarled hands, tearing skin and flesh with their hooked fingers. Unclaimed limbs were kicked thoughtlessly about as soldiers wrestled and ripped, clawed and chewed, stabbed and sliced at whoever stumbled in front of them. It was an image of hell, but the most disturbing thing of all was that they all wore the same red uniform…the red uniform of the Imperial Guardsmen!
......What has driven these soldiers to turn on each other in such a savage and bestial manner? Danjul lay baffled, as he observed the confusion and chaos. It seemed only minutes later that the ground lay gravely still. Danjul almost thought no one had survived, until the mist and dust settled, and the last man alive stood alone, knee-deep in the bodies of his troop. The lone soldier stood firm in the centre of the massacre looking straight up at his shocked audience, who were still hiding behind the hedgerow.

(to be continued... again...)


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PostSubject: Re: Wackanory - Story Time   Wed Apr 23, 2008 3:36 pm

PAGE III (continued)

......“How can he see us?” whispered the elf-girl to her stunned partner.
......“I told them not to eat the mushrooms,” the soldier called out with a chuckle. The man, or Halfling as he now seemed to be, seemed unnaturally calm stood amongst a mound of corpses all wearing his uniform.
......“There’s no need to be afraid, no harm can become of you now,” he chuckled innocently, almost mockingly. Danjul and Melanie slowly stood and walked, blades unsheathed, toward the soldier, who stepped out from the massacre to meet them (but politely stopped a few yards away from them). He wore the standard red coat of the Sealed Knot, one of the Empire’s oldest regiments, but wore no helmet or hat, so his features were quite visible. He had short, brown hair and a hairless face that showed no more years than Danjul’s, which would mean he was no older than twenty-three.
......“What happened here?” pressed Danjul, scanning the Halfling soldier for signs of trickery. The words had to be forced out as Danjul’s heart raced. “Why did you all murder each other?”
......“I assure you, my good man, I have committed no murder here,” he chuckled again. Sensing their evident doubt, the Halfling sighed and said in a startlingly polite voice, “I think I had better explain. My name is Gark Purpleboot. Despite my uniform and appearance I am not a soldier of the Empire.” The couple gripped their blades harder as Gark leant over to pick something up. They were surprised to see it was only a wooden drum.
......“I joined this regiment of soldiers as a drummer-boy, knowing the Emperor’s gold was plentiful, but unwilling to kill in the Empire’s name. I am a druid and mage by profession, and have never wished to kill any living things unnecessarily.”
......Danjul tensed further at the knowledge that this little man was practised in magic. If he proved to be hostile, they would have little chance of defeating him. Even though Danjul knew some basic magic, it was not enough to be called a mage. Gark continued.
......“We were marching to Bruge from a routine training exercise in Canning. Three days ago, we ran out of food due to a typical error in counting when buying supplies. We’d been foraging and hunting since that day. It was only a few hours ago when my captain, a nosy bigot from Taun, found a sack of fresh mushrooms in my bag. Accusing me of hoarding food he distributed them to the troops, despite my warnings. You see the mushrooms were of a particularly potent psilocybe called ‘magewort’, and contained a highly hallucinogenic poison. I had been gathering them for study - and possibly to use myself in a controlled environment…
.......So within minutes the soldiers had begun hallucinating dramatically, and delusional paranoia had taken over. I tried telling them they would be fine if they just relaxed, but they were convinced I’d fed them deadly poison and tried to kill me. I barely escaped, and hid amongst the chaos that followed using a rushed spell. Minutes later they had forgotten who they were attacking and started killing each other. That was what you saw, that is why I am stood here and not them. I meant no harm to anybody, you understand, but there was nothing else I could do but wait until they’d killed each other.”
......Danjul and Melanie stood blades out for a long minute, pulling apart the story in their minds. They knew it was a far-fetched tale, but it did seem to explain everything. And surely if this man was a mage as he claimed, if he wanted to kill them he would have done so already. Besides, neither of them were friends to the Empire or its soldiers. But something else gave them a feeling of trust, too, - his face. There was a slight sense of familiarity in his features, as if they had met before, but overall he just seemed too… honest to distrust. Danjul was the first to lower his shortsword and extend a hand to the druid-mage. Gark Purpleboot let out a sigh of relief, smiled and accepted the gesture with a firm handshake.
......After introductions were made, and an explanation given as to why they were all there, Danjul and Melanie offered Gark a place in their camp – seeming as they were all heading to Bruge. Gark accepted gratefully, and offered to help them find food and firewood.
......That night they shared the jar of wine with him, and a bottle of mead he had brought himself. They ate cooked fish, prepared masterfully by Melanie, and smoked pipes of tabac and greenweed. Although Danjul and Melanie took a while to fully relax around this mysterious individual, they soon found him to be a colourful, entertaining yet learned man. It may have been the wine and mead, but there was a strange kinship shared between the three that helped break any fears and misgivings they each had. That night they talked about everything from themselves to the state of the world, from music to philosophy. They had learned Gark had once been a member of a travelling group of knight-musicians called the Orpangapaj, who Danjul had heard many great things about in his travels. He asked Gark about his magic, especially the ‘sound magic’ (having some knowledge of it himself). The Halfling-mage seemed equally as interested to hear about his new friends - of how Melanie was born to a High Elf sergeant and a human dragon-keeper, and was the sister of the infamous witch-hunter, Damius “the Red” (which was oddly ironic considering Melanie was a witch herself). He listened as Danjul relayed stories of old quests he’d completed, and adventures he’d been on, of battles lost and won (despite his youth). The couple and the stranger both secretly felt there was much to learn from each other and the conversations seemed to go on all night, until each nodded off one by one by the heat of the fire, just as the dark blue sky was becoming increasingly pale. As Danjul hugged his knees for warmth, he drifted into a comfortable sleep, adventurous thoughts of trolls, crazed soldiers and mages flooding his imagination. What an exciting day it’s been, he smiled to himself. In the morning they would scavenge what they could from the earlier massacre, and head home to the safety of Bruge.




.......Danjul awoke to the sounds of Melanie clattering pots and pans, readying to wash them in the reservoir. After sitting up and stretching, he rubbed the gritty sleep from his eyes, groaning at the brightness of everything. Melanie greeted him with a kiss and continued to gather things.
.......“Where’s Gark?” he croaked, looking around the camp-den.
.......“He went off to ‘gather specimens’, I think he said,” she replied, and began humming a cheerful song. As she walked to the shoreline, Danjul left the camp to relieve himself in a hedge.
.......As he stood over the steaming hedge, Danjul listened about him. There was something not quite right about the ambience around him, but he couldn’t place what. Probably all that greenweed last night, he thought dismissively, until something happened that could not be accounted for by his imagination. The noise of Danjul’s cascading urine began to suddenly change dramatically! The steady pouring sound began to increase and decrease in loudness, seemingly moving left and right in his ears. He was still reasoning it must just be a trick of the greenweed, until the actual tone of the stream shot from a low bassy trickle to a loud kettle-like whistle. Danjul stopped pissing in shock, his eyes widening in amazement. What was that? He stood there in complete confusion, unsure of whether to continue urinating or not. The sounds around him also began to change – the birdsong, with its tremendous reverb in the open reservoir, began to sound like it came from a small metal box. The creaking of the tree-boughs started to echo like they were within a cave. The lapping of the reservoir against the banks shifted in pitch, and Danjul couldn’t decide if it sounded more like an ocean or a small bowl of water. He looked over to Melanie, who was still stood by the shoreline, a similar expression of confusion on her face. Before either of them could speak, the strangest sound of all was heard –
.......“Morning!”
.......To both Melanie and Danjul it sounded as if someone had spoke directly into their ears, but breaking up the syllables so that the “morn” came from the left and the “ing” from the right. They both fell over in shock!
......Sound magic, realised Danjul as he lay on his back. He grinned at this revelation. It’s Gark! Danjul sat upright, a curious smile across his face. Further up the bank was Gark, quite a distance from the camp, waving his greeting. Two can play at that game.
......“Good morning,” came Danjul’s voice. But again, to Melanie (who was still lying down from the first greeting) the sound was right in her ears, only this time it didn’t jump from left to right but echoed slightly letting the “orning” trail away until quiet again. ‘Sound magic’ – the magical manipulation of sound energy to create some peculiar and spectacular feats of wizardry. Although Danjul knew very little about magic as a whole, he found ‘sound magic’ came naturally to him and had practised with small spells whenever he could, ever since he was little. He and his best friend, Iddikk, were amongst the rare breed of people who taught themselves ‘sound magic’ and could, if they chose to, become great mages of their style, with enough dedication and time, of course.
......“Could we just start talking normally please?” pleaded Melanie, still a bit dazed. Danjul felt a bit guilty, but couldn’t help but giggle as he got up to help her to her feet. Gark arrived a second later.
......“I hope you both slept well,” he said smiling at them both, seeming somewhat amused by his practical joke.
.......“Yes, thank you,” Danjul chuckled. “And you?”
.......“Likewise. Sorry for any confusion I may have caused with my exercises. I like to keep practising.”
......“It was very,” started Melanie, trying to think of the appropriate word. “Impressive.”

......After, a quick breakfast of more cheese and bread, the trio decided to return to the chaos of yesterday, in the hope there may lie something useful amongst the remains of the crazed soldiers. Despite the fun and games that had started the morning, it was a very depressing task, lifting bodies, moving severed parts with the tips of boots. They found many useful items amongst the dead, but had to restrict themselves to what they could carry. Danjul found a loaded pistol, some gems and some gold. Even though Danjul felt some guilt for robbing the dead, he was more upset about leaving so many good blades behind. If he could carry them all he’d have enough for a small militia of his own. Melanie had found some gems and gold, but the stench of the cadavers in the sun began to make her nauseous and she was forced to leave the site to be sick. Gark looked solemnly at his fallen regiment as he lifted things of interest from the mess.
......“If only they’d listened,” Gark muttered to himself, as he found a tiny cap of magewort by the wheel of a destroyed cannon, a piece that must have escaped being eaten by the senseless footmen.
......“You tried,” assured Danjul.
......Melanie, feeling marginally better, rejoined them and continued nudging the bodies aside with her boot, refusing to bend down low enough for the fumes to overpower her again.
.......“Hey,” she called to Danjul, as she picked up a spattered scroll tied with a red ribbon. “This one has a letter…” The words trailed off as she realised Danjul and Gark were far too concerned with whatever it was behind her. She slowly turned her head over her shoulder. There, stood at the edge of the bodies, was a large group of soldiers, very much alive, looking very disgustedly at the carnage at their feet… and then to the three people stood in the centre of it all with their hands in the dead men’s pockets. There was an uncomfortable silence, as neither party knew what to say. The expression on the captain’s face turned from green confusion to red anger in the space of a second.
.....“I think it’s time to run now,” said Melanie calmly, before bolting past the other two in the opposite direction. Gark and Danjul couldn’t agree more as they too broke into a sprint, followed by the roar of twenty-or-so angry soldiers behind them. The trio hopped over the bodies and out over the field as the guardsmen gave chase.


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PostSubject: Re: Wackanory - Story Time   Thu Apr 24, 2008 1:30 pm

Hey VII thats brilliant, how canny of you naming the tight shirted heroin Melanie! Subtle Razz hehe the story is great and so is that picture, did you draw it? Both are brilliant and thats a big compliment from me because I'm really picky in my taste of stories and poetry etc
and I wont comment on something that doesn't grasp my imagination! Well done cant wait for the next part.
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PostSubject: Re: Wackanory - Story Time   Mon Apr 28, 2008 1:35 am

Thank you, Aurora! Alas, the picture is not mine (I just Yahoo!-ed it).

PAGE IV (continued)

......Not slowing for a moment, they leapt over hedges and logs, dived through trees and cut across newly-sown fields. The distance between them and the soldiers increased, but they still did not slow. Danjul became increasingly aware they were getting further and further from Bruge.
......“I know someone who could help us,” panted Gark, ducking a low tree-branch. “This way, it’s not far.”
......Before long, they reached a large house with a big garden, hidden from view down a long dusty road. The soldiers could no longer be seen, but the trio continued to run until they arrived at the large wooden door with the stained-glass window in its centre. Gark used a small bell dangling by the door, but its size meant it was no more than a decoration, rather than a signal for visitors. Danjul knocked hard on the wood and awaited a reply. There was none. Gark shrugged, not knowing what to do next. Suddenly, five or six soldiers appeared at the foot of the house’s pristine garden. They must have all split up to find us, thought Danjul drawing his sword. Melanie and Gark followed suit, as they unsheathed their daggers. They were outnumbered as the soldiers slowly advanced on them like cornered rats, hands firmly on spears and swords. I’m not going out without taking them with me.
......Just as Danjul was about to make the desperate charge towards them, a man dressed in a black robe rushed in from the left, leaping over a small grass mound. He swung something large around his head as he rushed silently like a shadow towards the guardsmen, who had now turned towards the new arrival. They were not prepared for the colossal strike the man performed, as the object he was swinging careered into the first of the armed men, sending him pirouetting through the air before landing in a crumpled heap a yard away. Danjul, Melanie and the Halfling-mage took advantage of the distraction and leaped onto the soldiers, who had all looked away. Within a few heartbeats, Melanie had slit the closest’s throat, Gark’s dagger had stuck in the kidney of another and Danjul’s sword had rendered one’s head from his shoulders. The new comer had made quick work out of another soldier as his helmet crumpled beneath the stranger’s weapon. The final soldier stood white as a ghost, tears running down his face and spear held out pathetically. The stranger swung his weapon, what was now clearly a spiked ball-and-chain mace. The spear hurtled out of the soldier’s hands with a clang and a spray of splinters. The soldier whimpered, turned and ran. Neither the trio or the stranger gave chase, but Gark removed a curious long pipe from his satchel, and slowly put it to his lips, aiming it at the fleeing soldier. As he gave the pipe a big singular huff, the soldier grabbed the back of his leg before falling over, lying motionless.
......“Did you just kill him?” Danjul asked, open-jawed and with a serious frown.
......“No, he’s not dead,” explained Gark. “I want a word with him first.”
......“Mr. Purpleboot, my my,” beamed the stranger, startling the others. “Fancy seeing you here.”
......Gark gave a hearty laugh, and exchanged manly hugs with the stranger. The man looked the same age as Danjul and Gark, but had a small, bushy beard beneath his chin, and outwardly frizzy brown curls from his head.
......“Everyone I’d like you to meet the good friar, Jacob Trollsbane, warrior-priest."

(To be continued...)




NOTE: This story will unfortunately be slowing down in its updates. This is because up til now, this story had been already written (I wrote it about a year ago). From now on this story will be updated straight from my brain to the page (*splat!*), so it might take me a little longer to get it done... but it WILL BE DONE!! So I hope you carry on reading and enjoy what is to come.
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PostSubject: Re: Wackanory - Story Time   Tue Apr 29, 2008 5:03 am

PAGE V (continued) (and re-edited)

.......The next two days had been spent in extreme celebration. Jacob Trollsbane proved to be a fine host in his large country house, serving his fugitive friends with infinite tankards of cider, great wheels of cheese and a farm-full of cooked meat. Though the interrogation of their captive soldier had not been properly undertaken, an attempt had been made... but the soldier was having great difficulty understanding the slurred questions being asked by the inebriated Gark Purpleboot and Danjul (and neither of them could remember what he had said anyway).
......Danjul groaned as he rocked back and forth on his chair, clutching his churning stomach. It was morning, an uncomfortabley bright one, and Danjul, Melanie and Gark sat round the large rectangular table in the kitchen, each staring at the floor, shielding their eyes from the glaring sun beaming through the windows. On the table was the haunting reminder of the night's activities; the empty jugs of cider, the noxious smell still hanging in the still morning air; the chicken bones, deposited in all manner of inappropriate places; a wedge of cheese sitting directly in the center with an unmistakable bitemark in it; and, most notably, the three pale-faced casualties sat in a miserable silence. Melanie stared zombified at a small ginger cat eagerly chewing away at some dropped cheese remnants. The Trollsbane residence seemed to be dominated by an army of stray cats that would come from the fields and forests outside, and as the doors were rarely properly shut the cats would just walk in and eat what they could find. As the cat finished its gourging, it looked up at Melanie, licking its lips in satisfaction. Melanie simply burped at the cat and left the kitchen hurriedly, clutching her mouth. As she dashed from the doorway, she was passed by Trollsbane as he entered the room. He, unlike the others, did not seem affected by the two nights of constant drinking, and strolled in with a straight back and a fresh grin on his face.
....."Good morning, my treasured friends!" beamed Trollsbane, unperterbed by the groan he received in response. "I trust you all enjoyed the night?"
....."A little too much I fear," croaked Gark, raising enough power for a slight smile.
....."Well, I hope we aren't feeling too drained, because today we ride for Bruge!" The eccentric warrior-priest raised a finger in the air with mock-profundity.
....."Why must we leave with such haste, may I ask?" sighed Danjul.
....."I have learned information; of a great rebellion against the Royals! The Imperial guardsmen are rounding up all countrymen with questionable loyalty to the Queen and Her minister."
.....Anglia - the country and island our heroes resided, was a powerful empire despite its geographically small size, and like most Empires it was lead by ruthless and remorseless leaders. The Jehovan Queen Of Anglia ruled her royal empire with an iron fist, dictating her obscene laws to her parliament and its leader, Minister Dorgon. Over her years of rule, with her many ministers and bizarre family, she had increased the lands of her empire through invasion and war, regardless of the cost of life on either side. And while the empire was growing wider, it was growing harder, as Minister Dorgon set the Empire's laws excluding any action or thought seperate to the will of the Empire. There would be no protest against war, no philosophy or religion that wasn't Her Majesty's, no peace for anyone (but Her). It was only a matter of time before a rebellion grew powerful enough to pose a threat from the inside. Many rebels from other countries had tried to fight back; the Celts of Hibernia, the fanatical religious warriors of Akkad, and the poor sheep-farming rebels of the distant Sebald Islands, but many of them would be driven back and defeated, their lands or resources stolen. There was little love for the royal Empire, and Danjul felt relieved to hear something had finally caused a stir.
....."What's that got to do with us?" Melanie asked as she re-entered the room, still just as pale. "Aren't we safe hiding here?"
....."Unfortunately, this house - the house of my family, is known to the Empire for having no love for the monarchy. If my information is correct, and the soldiers are rounding people up, then a patrol will be on its way from Bruge to here, and will arrive later today. If they discover a band of fugitives, a captive soldier and a cemetry of shallow graves in the field they will kill us at once. We must leave as soon as possible!"
....."There must be some kind of mistake," Danjul tried to reason. "How do you know of all this?"
....."The scroll Melanie discovered two days ago, it was an order from the Queen's minister to arrest and execute all citizens who could be used by the rebellion. It contained a list of properties to be searched and people to be arrested. This house is on that list."
....."Its true," said Gark, straightening his back. "The regiment I was with when you met me were on its way to arrest someone by the name of Joseph Strümmer, supposedly a bard and poet who stands accused of inciting anarchy with his songs."
....."But you don't support the monarchy, why would you aid a regiment of Imperial guardsmen in capturing a..." Danjul's question trailed off, and a frown crept onto his forehead as something occured to him. "You gave those poisonous mushrooms to the regiment, didn't you?"
Gark's silence was as much confirmation as he needed. Danjul grinned morbidly, and chuckled. "Why didn't you tell us to start with?"
....."I had no idea who's side you were on," confessed Gark. "The Empire still have many blindly loyal followers who would see our necks in nooses. Besides, I honestly didn't expect them to start killing each other!"
....."Well, that aside," smiled Danjul, his spirits lifted by the scent of adventure. "we should head to Bruge immediately. If we are rebel fugitives now, then we should start acting like rebel fugitives. The rebellion must have a leader, so we should really concentrate on finding him! The Royals wouldn't stand a chance against an army of rebels!"
.....But finding the leader, they all knew, was going to be a hard thing to do. They needed contacts and information, and the closest place to find that would be in Bruge. They also needed allies.
....."Jacob, may I see this list of names we found?" Danjul asked politely. Trollsbane passed him the rolled-up scroll, and he began to study the long list of names written in tiny italic ink. Danjul grinned even more as he cast his eyes down across names that were greatly familiar to him.
....."Just as I thought," he rolled the scroll tightly in his fist. "Our allies could come from this list! If we're not too late, and we get to these people before the guardsmen does, we could rally them easily to our cause. I know a good few men and women on this list that would jump at the chance to join us!"

.....That was that. The merry band of fugitives began their packing. To aid the hangover, Danjul brewed them all a foul-tasting infusion from St. John's Wort and Jacob fed them some toasted bread to take the taste away. Melanie began preparing provisions. Trollsbane slaughtered a goose and a turkey and brought them to her for preparation. Gark prepared a rough map, detailing the best route to take, avoiding patrol-routes and dangerous forests. Danjul, who had felt a little sorry for the hostage soldier, had untied him (not without watching him closely, sword in hand) and fed him. Their captive was an older man, possibly in his thirties or forties, with balding hair loosely disguised by a shaven head. He wore a blue variant of the uniform worn by the crazed soldiers they had encountered the other day. The drunken interrogation had revealed his name to be Marsh. He had caused no trouble since being captured by Gark, rarely speaking at all unless to ask to relieve himself. Unsure of what to do with the soldier, the group had agreed it best to take him to the main road to Bruge and abandon him with some bread and water. After the soldier had eaten, he was bound hands-behind-back and lead to the room where the group were almost ready to leave.
....."Well," sighed Gark looking up from his map. "I've drawn a rough route we could take, avoiding danger and possibly picking up help on the way. I say we head to meet this Strümmer fellow, he lives only a mile or two from here. He'd be vital for spreading word of our cause, and rallying more recruits. Apparently he's very well connected!"
....."Joseph Strümmer is dead."
.....The team followed the voice to their bound hostage. He sat in a chair, looking at his feet.
....."What?"
....."We had just been to his house before we came across your bloodbath."
....."You killed him?" protested Danjul. "You're lying!"
....."I'm not lying, but we didn't kill him either. He was already dead."
.....Muttered curses came from the group, and fists clenched uncontrollably. Danjul shook his head in disbelief. "How was he killed then?"
....."Natural causes, we assumed. We found him in his bed, not a mark on him." The soldier fidgeted uncomfortabley, wishing he hadn't spoke. The group exchanged disappointed glances.
....."Well, there's no choice but to head straight for Bruge." said Gark dryly. "If we're ready, we should leave now."

.....Jacob Trollsbane crept from the front door, peering left and right. Not a sound could be heard but the morning birds chattering innocently in the treetops surrounding the house. When he was confident it was safe, he signalled the others to follow as he continued down the garden to the dusty road. The four fugitives, laidened with packs of provisions and equipment, and their captive walked in silence, their eyes constantly darting around them for sign of ambush. When they reached the end of the dusty trail, they joined a long, winding stone road and headed east. It would be many miles before they would see the outskirts of Bruge, especially with all the detours their route required to stay hidden from patrols. After they had turned from the road into a few fields, the group decided it was time to release the hostage.
.....Danjul took out a small lock-knife from his belt and cut the soldier's bonds. The guardsman's shoulders lowered slightly with relief and he rubbed his wrists.
....."Well this is where you go," Gark instructed the soldier, handing him a small bag of food. "You can count yourself lucky we are merciful enough to let you live. I am still unsure of the logic of letting you run away, but there you go."
.....The soldier was unsure how to respond, so he quietly bowed and walked away from them in the opposite direction. Occasionally, he would look back nervously. As they watched him walk slowly into a small wood in the distance, Danjul thought to himself, let's hope our mercy doesn't send him straight to a patrol.
....."We shouldn't have let him go," Melanie mumbled, half to herself.
....."I know," Danjul agreed, folding away his knife. "but I wasn't about to kill an unarmed captive. That's what the Empire does."
.....The group, still in silence, continued a few steps before they were halted by a distant blood-curdling scream. They exchanged glances and turned to the direction of the bone-chilling sound. Danjul could feel the hair on the back of his neck and arms stand as a cold feeling passed over him, making him shudder. They stared for a moment at the wood they had watched the soldier disappear into. The group drew their weapons and broke into a sprint towards the wood.
......It took a minute or two to reach the perimeter, but as they entered the dark cluster of trees, they slowed their pace to a cautious creeping. There was nothing disturbing the silence but the cracking of dry leaves and twigs beneath them. No birds, it dawned upon Danjul. As they edged further in, they discovered a blood-spattered log before them, the crimson liquid dripped audibly onto the moss and soil beneath it. Beyond it lay the sickening remains of their released captive. He was no longer recognisable, not even as human, if it wasn't for the blue cloth of his uniform and his grey rimmed hat sitting torn amongst the mess of entrails and limbs. Each member of the stunned party fell cloud-white, and although they all fought to keep their stomachs from emptying themsleves, they could only stare at the bloody mess they had just spoken to minutes before. A low, rumbling noise could be heard from a bush to the left of the group. Danjul slowly turned his head to the animal-like growl, and gazed deep into the large glowing eyes reflecting out from the darkness of the shrubbery. The words were almost strangled as he rasped to the others.
....."Run. Run now!"



(to be continued...)
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