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Chapter 16: Alone
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JezSharp



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Posted: Thu Jan 11, 2007 3:16 pm    Post subject: Chapter 16: Alone  

Chapter 16: Alone

Rain streaked down amongst the narrow streets of Kostenton, splattering upon the cobbles and running down the sewage filled gutters, sending the putrid contents gushing out into the rotting river that slumbered through the sleeping City. A couple of cloaked figures moved urgently through the downpour alongside the river, pursued by a gang of six youths, drunk with a sense of power, evil plans stirring in their hearts and clouding their judgement.

Lilleyn looked back at the group anxiously, she knew they were gaining fast upon them. They’d followed her and her husband out of the pub they had stopped by. She could escape them if she wished but not her husband, John, who was not so fleet footed.

“What shall we do?” she called out above the whipped wounded cries of the wind as lightning crashed through it, briefly highlighting the twisted animalistic faces of their closing pursuers.

“I don’t know,” John replied, trying to step up his pace, “perhaps you should go on and leave me here, you can outrun them and perhaps fetch the City Watch.”

“There isn’t time,” she answered, “besides there will be very few men on the Watch at this time of night who will be willing to help us.” John nodded slightly as he looked for a way to escape, but there wasn’t one. He heard the running footsteps behind draw close and felt hands roughly shove him and his wife away from the exposed dock front into a narrow alleyway to the side. They were pushed and beaten by the jeering mob until they reached a bricked dead end, where they were hurled against the solid white timber wall, landing in a pile of decaying sewage and rubbish. Cries of ‘that’ll teach the stinking halfling couple’ were hurled out, dripping with hatred. Lilleyn looked more than upset, John noted…although it wasn’t quite true about themselves being halflings – it was their children who would be…or would have been. The pack before them breathed murder, far more dangerous than any one drunken individual as they edged closer.

“Go,” John whispered to his elfin wife, “you can escape over the wall”.

“And leave you?” she replied as she removed her hood, letting her blonde hair cascade down in the rain, “I think not.” Her eyes gleamed with anger; this was the first time since she had settled down with the humble blacksmith that such danger had surfaced. There had been threats and individual attacks, the lobbing of stones and so forth, but all were merely abusive – never with the intention of causing serious harm.

It had been the silent treatment that had been far worst, very few humans would even acknowledge them and John’s business had gone from success to ruin in the few months since she had been here. She had seen his pain as old friends avoided his gaze and told him in mumbled speeches how they’d found a better place to go. All because I’m an elf, he has done no crime, he was only ever guilty of love. Now will have to be the time to start anew elsewhere, staying in this ungrateful place can no longer be an option. The group approached her with swaggered confidence, naively assuring themselves of their own victory, knives outstretched and gleaming with lethal intent.

Lilleyn had kept one secret from her husband, and only one, one which was to be revealed tonight. When they had met into each other in Kostenton she had told him she was a maid to the elfin ambassador, concealing beneath her clothes the double-edged, beautifully crafted enamel engraved assassin’s sword. It was a sword that she still secretly carried about with her, attached to the inside of her leg, a sword she now reached down and withdrew as she stood up from the mire to face the group. There can be no going back now, but will he still love me when he finds out I’m a natural killer? She had hoped this moment would never come, but now that it had she felt the old rush of joy and anticipation flood her system as she had in the older times, hunting down royal enemies. She glanced at John’s shocked face as he sat helpless on the ground and wept inside her heart, hoping that what was to follow would not drive an insurmountable wedge between them.

If the pack had been less drunk they would probably have had the sense to flee. Instead they pushed closer, blades slashing inches from the couple. A hissing noise stung the air; several hands and blades fell to the floor. The hissing continued on in a killing chorus, snaking and dancing to the tune of death. It took barely a minute, all six bodies lay carved upon the floor, the bloodied silver blade lit up in a flash of lightning as it hovered calmly above the dismembered corpses. Lilleyn’s temporary smile of satisfaction drained from her face and she rushed over to John, who still sat open mouthed at what he had just witnessed.

“Are you alright?” She asked. John stood up slowly, replying in a rather detached voice,

“Yes I think so…where did you learn to do that?”

“I’ll tell you all about it later, I used to be an assassin before I met you…I’m sorry I didn’t tell you before, I was afraid…”

“That I wouldn’t take you? …Well I can’t deny that it’s a shock, but it doesn’t change what I feel for you…” and he pulled down his hood, a kind middle-aged face beneath and kissed her as the rain washed the blood stained cobbles clean.

They remained there for a short time, then Lilleyn whispered,

“We must leave here now, it has become too dangerous for us to remain, if anyone finds out what I have done…”John frowned and nodded sadly. He’d only ever known Kostenton as his home and if anyone had told him several months ago that he would leave it he’d have laughed. Love though is a powerful emotion and had changed both his and Lilleyn’s lives, changes that were driving them both far away from their homelands where they were openly and secretly despised for their union. Hoods up they left the scene and slipped away into the safe embracing darkness.


* * *

They rolled forward onto the metal doors in the ground. Simeon sighed and looked up at Elvendor,

“Sorry, I just don’t have enough strength to do anything at the minute,” he said sadly. The pack closed in behind, their mouths opening and closing as off beat chanting bubbled forth and upwards amongst the swaying green seaweed. Then more and more appeared above them to form a wrinkled dark blue dome filled with circular saucer disks, blotting out the buildings behind, the noise becoming horrendously loud. With a slow clank the trapdoor below fell open, plunging them into a dark shaft, away from the peering faces and threatening melodies above. The drop was short, into a sloped metal tunnel that they rolled down at excessive speed accompanied by a wave of water. The wave of water was quickly reduced though, drained through grills in the floor of the passageway, until only the glowing pink ball was left rolling down the shaft. All three inside were flung about as it rolled down, bruising and battering them. Gasps and cries of pain were intermittently scattered along the route as the ball followed the twisting tunnel, before finally dropping a few feet onto the floor of a huge underground room.

The room was fairly well lit, two underwater fires burned behind panes of glass to their right, casting a dim murky glow upon the eerie chamber. The heat from the fires flowed into the room through specially designed vents that kept the water out of the room. On the opposite side of the room two large glass paned windows were positioned to give a good view of the chamber, already Elvendor could see jostling movement behind them as the saucer eyed creatures jostled for prime viewing. The whole chamber itself was made from grey rock, although the stones used were huge, at least the size of a human house. Ventilation fans were at either end, sucking air in and out, and I know where, Elvendor noted grimly, and given what’s standing before us, I rather wish we had avoided this route altogether. Guiltily he remembered how keen he’d been to explore this route without really paying heed to how dangerous it might be. Next time I’ll try to be more careful…if there is a next time.

Elvendor’s gaze rested upon the sole occupant of the chamber, he could certainly see why such a large chamber was needed. Before him stood a creature five times his own height, green scaly skin, clawed hands and feet and a ferocious teeth filled mouth set within an elongated jaw. Snake like yellow eyes glowed out at them as it slowly edged round to face them. Slowly it edged forwards across the room, each step it took shaking the room, its head swaying and jerking hungrily. Steam vented from its nostrils and a forked tongue flickered from its dark red mouth, it was already half way towards them.

Simeon closed his eyes and opened a hole in the bubble with the little energy he had left. All crept out, Elvendor rummaging in his backpack for the vine rope that he had carried with him ever since he’d left his home. The rope was unique in that it had two suckers, one on each end that could be made sticky or slippery depending on how they were rubbed. Elvendor pulled the rope from his bag now, checked one end was sticky and threw it up the wall behind him. Then he started to climb.

“Can you two distract it,” he yelled down. Alex duly withdrew his sword and circled away from Elvendor, yelling, “Hey over here!” Simeon scurried in the other direction pushing the pearl bubble with him, trying to use it as a sort of shield. I just need to get high enough; Elvendor thought as he pulled up the trailing rope and rubbed the other end, turning it sticky then throwing it further up the wall. The monster roared in anger as Alex got close enough to scratch its foot with a clumsy lunge. Elvendor glanced and glared at the fraction of the spectators he could see beyond the towering enemy, he could see them cheering and celebrating at their struggle. The anger burnt within him and gave him added strength as he climbed. Slowly the beast turned again then lumbered after Alex who was running as fast as he could away from Elvendor, eventually reaching the wall beneath the onlooking crowds.

Alex looked up, back against the far wall, afraid as the monster drew close. Grimly he crouched low and waved the sword in front of him at his foe. A giant silver taloned claw swept down and sent him spinning, his sword clattering across the stone floor. “Ahhhhhh” he gasped in pain, his right leg was bleeding. The beast gave a kind of grunting half laugh as its other claw prepared to scoop down and spear the stricken warrior. Then a light flashed to the right of creature, it was a weak flash and was followed by another. The creature blinked and turned its head. The remeneants of the pink bubble then flew up and hit it in the eye. Snorting it flicked its head and sent the flimsy object flying, staring down with contempt at the old man who had flung it. Simeon stood his ground, not looking overly brave or confident, in fact he was shaking. Still he had enough in him to raise a fist and yell,

“Come and pick on me then if you think you’re hard enough.” The creature briefly considered this option, but decided it would rather finish off the weakened prey first and return to him, so turned back to Alex. Alex gasped as the creature leaned in closer, exhaling its foul smelling breath that stunk of rotten fish over his prone form. He was just about to shout out Elvendor’s name when a sweet sounding noise rang out within the room.

Elvendor remembered back in the clearing his father had said, ‘an elf’s strength is in his ability to understand Mother Nature’s secrets’. I really hope this works upon a creature about to feast, he thought, maybe it will be too famished to pay heed. Knowing their was no other option he started to pitch his voice out over the clamor, a soft strange haunting tone that caused the creature to freeze and turn around. They made eye contact as Elvendor continued to echo out his message of kindness to the beast. It approached and stopped nearby, allowing Elvendor to scramble upon the top of its mouth.

There, lying face first upon its snout, Elvendor began to talk with it; gesturing and using tone to convey his message to the creature. After a few minutes the creature began to respond. It began drawing pictures on the wall of the prison it was kept in with its sharp silver claws. Diagram after diagram appeared and as Elvendor took them in he began to realise just how intelligent the beast was.

The first picture showed the stick figures of many beasts living within what was presumably a town, the town we were in, and they built it, lived there? The next picture showed a giant wave and the third showed many dead beasts underwater, with one alive – trapped in a box beneath. So they were wiped out, all but this one, presumably the bug eyed beasts found him before he died. Sure enough, the final one showed the bug eyed creatures feeding the beast and offspring, but do they worship it or keep it as a pet? Presumably the former given the chanting, although they get there own measure of enjoyment from it. The last words ran bitterly through his mind, a current strong enough to flow over his elfin safeguards and briefly drip into his heart. He shied away from this strange emotion of anger by concentrating on the monster before him. How has it survived for so long here?

After more 'talking' and pointing to the pictures, it understood and pointed to its side, there was a bulge, a growing fetus. So they breed a-sexually…but how are we to get free…The creature seemed to follow his line of thoughts, sadly raised a claw to the first picture of his race free and outside, then pointed to himself, a tear trickling down amongst the scales then vanishing to steam as it melted. He wants to get free too, but can we wait here for several days without him eating us? It may well take that long for Simeon to recover his strength, and when he does how are we to get free…? Besides would we want to set such a creature free?



Ok, the last vote was unexpected, basically need ideas on 1) what they do with the beast 2) How they escape, Simeon’s powers should reach full strength after a few days, but he will only be able to use the ‘heavy matter’ in the chamber so he hasn’t got an unlimited supply to work with.
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D-Lotus



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Posted: Thu Jan 11, 2007 4:49 pm    Post subject:  

In this chapter, I found the story of the first two much more engaging than the story of our heroes. It seems to me you haven't fully exploited the setting, the fight, and the monster. Also, could you describe the reaction of the saucer-eyed to Elvendor's treatement of the monster? An average chapter, although not bad.

I'd like to heavily congratulate you on your consistency. Your steadiness in producing chapters is truly admirable.

I would like to know the reaction of the saucer-eyed people before I suggest anything; if they consider this monster a god or worship it, then Elvendor's friendship with it must elevate their consideration of him. If they just use the monster for entertainement, then its lack of ferocity should concern them. Obviously, they aren't going to wait around for the entertaining moment of Elvendor's death to come if the monster doesn't attack, so presumably they would execute him in some other way.
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JezSharp



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Posted: Thu Jan 11, 2007 5:02 pm    Post subject:  

Hmm, well regarding the monster as far as he is aware the saucer eyed people appear to worship it, rather than keep it as a pet...although he can't be certain, the ritulistic music above suggests a sacricie to a God rather than feeding for a pet.

You're right about the first part being better than the second - I'm struggling slightly with the sudden unexpected twists this sg is taking regarding Elvendor & co. I'll need to go back and probably edit the second part (althougth it may eb a little while as I'm about to be thrown back into Uni life with mocks in about a weeks time), thanks for confirming my suspicions though - its good to know where improvement is needed..
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D-Lotus



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Posted: Thu Jan 11, 2007 5:19 pm    Post subject:  

Well, if the creature is a God to the saucer-eyed, everything should sort itself out when they realize Elvendor has befriended it. All I can think to do other than wait is to climb back up the tunnel we dropped from and hide or something. If we hide with the monster, they might get worried by its absence and come to investigate. Then we can attack, or demand the their respect by order of their god.
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JezSharp



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Posted: Fri Jan 12, 2007 6:10 am    Post subject:  

Might not be quite so simple...

Firstly the saucer eyed creatures can only live in water and so therefore cannot easily enter an air filled chamber, so even if they see he's befriended the 'monster' they are unlikely to do/ be able to do much about the situation other than watch. They may even revere the travellers to the point that they see them as demi-gods and leave them there.

Secondly the monsters a bit big to fit up the tunnel so they could hardly hide with it there, however tunnels out of the room may offer an escape route...althougth whether that one is the best is questionable.
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D-Lotus



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Posted: Fri Jan 12, 2007 4:49 pm    Post subject:  

Well, in that case,

Quote: On the other side of the room two large glass paned windows were positioned to give a good view of the chamber, already he could see jostling movement behind as the saucer eyed creatures jostled for prime viewing.

Make the monster break the panes to get out. The room will fill with water, so we'll have to make a break for it.
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JezSharp



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Posted: Mon Jan 15, 2007 11:47 am    Post subject:  

Ok, I've updated the second half with a bit more detail etc so hopefully its at least a little better.

So far the two options are:

1) to make the monster break through the glass...presumably they'd have to wait until Simeon could make something to protect them from the inrush and to take them to the surface. Also it would kill the creature and they may well still have to deal with the saucer eyed creatures again - presumably not too happy ones given that their 'god' had been destroyed.

2) To climb back up the tunnel they fell down, presumably they could use Elvendor's rope, but given that they can be seen and the saucer people control the trapdoor - may not be a watertight plan.

I'll leave this thread up for prob about a week for some more much needed suggestions.
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Mastermind



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Posted: Tue Jan 16, 2007 12:23 pm    Post subject:  

Tear out a ventilation fan, then try and climb up. A creature that big should need a lot of air, so the shafts might be large enough to climb through.
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Mastermind



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Posted: Tue Jan 16, 2007 12:27 pm    Post subject:  

Quote: It began drawing pictures on the wall of the prison it was kept in with its sharp silver claws.
Or you could show the creature's drawings to the fish people.
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D-Lotus



Joined: 21 Oct 2004
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Posted: Tue Jan 16, 2007 4:24 pm    Post subject:  

great suggestions, Mastermind. :D

Quote: Also it would kill the creature and they may well still have to deal with the saucer eyed creatures again - presumably not too happy ones given that their 'god' had been destroyed.

Why can't Simeon make protection for 'it' too? I know he's tired, but he had a full day's rest before descending. Besides, they can wait until Simeon recovers enough for everyone to have protection. No hurry.[/quote]
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JezSharp



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Posted: Wed Jan 17, 2007 3:43 am    Post subject:  

F5 D-Lotus Mastermind, some good ideas :) .

About protecting the large creature...there are a few problems,

1) Amount of heavy energy needed...not sure there would be enough to cover such a large creature.

2) Even if he manages to protect the creature it is unlikely he will be able to create a bubble big enough to float the monster from the underground rooms - plus there is the problem of how to manouvere the creature out.

Therefore it is possible that with enough rest and enough energy he may be able to protect the creature, but probably not give it enough bouyancy or for it to be able to manouvere out of the building to the surface.
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JezSharp



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Posted: Thu Jan 18, 2007 2:49 pm    Post subject:  

Ok poll is up, (btw the ventalation shafts pump air in and out of the chamber for a reasonably short period of time then shut off for quite a long period - so risking going out of the one blowing in is a viable option - althougth an uncertain/risky one), I'll leve it up for around a week.
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D-Lotus



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Posted: Thu Jan 18, 2007 7:33 pm    Post subject:  

If they go through the ventilator pumping in, they'll have to fight air resistance, because they are going against the flow. Therefore I voted accordingly. I picked the ventilator because the air has to come from the surface, and because Elvendor can't let the monster die.
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Mastermind



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Posted: Tue Jan 23, 2007 5:16 am    Post subject:  

C'm on! Send them up the vents!! :)
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JezSharp



Joined: 18 Jul 2006
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Posted: Thu Jan 25, 2007 3:52 am    Post subject:  

Ok I'll be shutting down the poll tomorrow so last chance for people to vote.
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JezSharp



Joined: 18 Jul 2006
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Posted: Fri Jan 26, 2007 6:34 am    Post subject:  

Ok poll closed, I'll lock the thread down within the next few days once I've put together the next Chapter.
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Chinaren



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Posted: Wed Jan 31, 2007 5:10 am    Post subject:  

Darn, missed the suggestions and the vote!

I would have gone for the fans too I think. I am assuming the water behind the glass is linked to the general lake, and not a kind of 'sealed' room.

Keep 'em coming Jez!
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solus.serpen



Joined: 21 Jul 2006
Posts: 608
Location: UK

Posted: Wed Jan 31, 2007 6:51 am    Post subject:  

:shock:
I missed the vote too!

...how did I do that? :shock:

Oh well, looking forward to the next chapter, Jez.

~Solus ;)
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