[Vfw-times] MK Winter assault part 9b

COkane8116 at aol.com COkane8116 at aol.com
Sat Aug 11 21:47:28 CDT 2001

   Here is Part 9b 


"DEREK! The ceremonies are starting Right Now! Your parents aren't going to 
let you come out anymore if you miss them!" 

Derek keeps quiet, hunched underneath a barrel, making his two snowballs. 
This has *always* been his favorite part of the game. Sure, any loser can be 
King of the Snowfields here, but He's something special. Not only can he 
throw and run and dodge, he can also hide. Derek is going to be a REAL 
warrior when he grows up, he knows it. 

This is just his practice session. 

"DEREK!" The voice is Much louder now. Jono must be able to track down his 
scent; he's going to be in contact soon. 

"Here we go!" Derek thinks to himself... then he Leaps out from behind the 
barrel, instantly spotting Jono and another Keeper right there as he lands. 
He hurls both snowballs, catching both Keepers in the head. Glorious! 

"Got you BOTH" Derek cries in joy. He's a real warrior! 

Jo gets to the door, pulls at the handle. Locked, of course. Jono doesn't 
want anything stolen by any of the passersby. 

She reaches into her pocket, fumbles with the keys to try to find the right 
one. She keeps one eye almost absentmindedly on the party down there... 
there's something odd about them; they're moving quickly, but not going down 
the hall then she sees one of them fall down. Tripped? 

* * * 

"Both?" Jono thinks. "I didn't ask Kevin to accompany me." 

"Derek! C'mon, we need to hurry, or we're going to be Really late!" He then 
turns towards the Keeper apparently behind him. "I'm quite sorry, sir, he's a 
bit of a-" 

* * * 

  "Finally!" Jo inserts the key, twists and unlocks the door. "Okay, 
everyone inside!" Then she glances up at the party. "Why are they heading 
towards us? Aren't the halls in the opposite dir-" 

* * * 

The exact same thought hits both Jono and Joanne at the exact same time. 

  "That's not a Keeper!" 

  And right then, as if in endorsement of the whole scenario, just to show 
they're not hallucinating, the alarm bells start to ring. 


12/24 - 8p.m. 

"We honor you, O Lord of Creation! 

We lift you up, O Father of All! 

Maker of Man and Earth and the Heavens, 

Oh, Most High God, now answer our call!" 

The acolytes sang beautifully, sweetly, as they lifted up the song of praise 
to the Iluvatar. Raven looked on with satisfaction at the choir's 
performance, both those who sang and the musicians who accompanied them.   
Letting her eyes drift to the audience, Raven saw that they, too, were moved 
by the hymn, each person's gaze fixed on the singers behind the altar.  There 
was no question, she thought: Celine's idea to include music in tonight's 
program had been simply brilliant. Music penetrated the heart, touching the 
innermost parts of a person in a way few other things could. She would have 
to thank Father Hough someday for giving them the idea. 

If he survives. Raven frowned at the thought, another wave of something 
entirely too much like fear washing over her. For all Kyia's power, even she 
could not predict when Nasoj's army would attack. With the Prime Minister 
warned, there was nothing left to do but wait to see how the lots fell.   
Kyia, if any have left their arms within the alcove in the vestibule, please 
see that they can reach them when the temple doors are closed. She thought 
fervently as she bowed her head to the music, And the same for those in the 
Chapel, she added as well.  Despite their theological differences she counted 
the young Paltidor and his flock as much her friends as those who crowded her 
own temple. 

Raven hated that. This feeling of powerlessness, of knowing what was about to 
happen and being unable to stop it, sickened her more than anything else she 
could think of. 

Forcing such thoughts from her mind, Raven stepped up to the altar again as 
the acolytes finished their hymn. She applauded for them, the audience 
following in kind, and Celine flashed her a smile as the singers returned to 
their positions at the front and back of the temple. Raven waited for them to 
be seated before speaking. 

"I would like to close this ceremony tonight with a time of personal 
worship," she said. "Since the All-Father, in his infinite wisdom, has chosen 
not to reveal himself to the priesthood, it may be that the best way for us 
to approach him is as individuals. Our musicians are going to continue 
playing now, and I encourage all of you to spend this time in prayer and 
meditation on the glorious mystery of the most high god." 

She motioned to the players, and they began a new tune -- quiet, thoughtful, 
and reverent, the music filled the hall as men, women and children bowed 
their heads to pray. 

Thirty-five seconds later, the alarum sounded. 


12/24 - 8p.m. 

"Omnes gentes plaudite, 
Jucenes dum sumus, 
Gaudeamus ingitur..." 

Rickkter hung off Misha's shoulder, breaking the song and holding his side 
with his free hand as he contorted in laughter. "No, no, no! You've got it 
all wrong. You need to roll the r's." The raccoon had been trying to teach a 
group of the Longs some of the old drinking songs he knew. Of course none of 
them knew the languages Rick did, and the translations of the songs tended to 
lack the same punch. "What you said instead was... well I don't think it 
would be physically possible to do that to yourself!" The rest of the group 
continued to laugh. 

"Never underestimate people here, Rick," chided Kershaw. "After all, I've 
seen some of the female felines here do some really amazing contortions." His 
muzzle contorted in a smirk. "Though I won't tell you where." The rest of the 
chorus roared, Finbar almost falling over when he went to take a drink of his 
ale. That caused the rest to laugh harder and almost join him. 

They did eventually laugh themselves out. "Okay, okay, one more time," said 
Rickkter, wiping at his eyes. "And remember it's ingitur, with an rrrr. From 
the top." 

The chorus never had the chance to resume as a horrendous clatter of metal on 
stone caused everyone in the Long Hall to turn to the door. Madog practically 
flew in through the door, digging his claws into the flagstone to stop 
himself. Every single pair of mobile ears in the room went flat against their 
owners skulls, those that could not do so were covered by their owner's hands 
from the horrible screech caused by the mechanical fox's aluminal claws 
carving furrows in the floor. He stopped right before Misha, sitting down on 
his haunches and thumping his tail on the ground in a very aggravated 

"Argh, Madog!" growled Misha as he rubbed one of his ears. "What do you think 
you're doing coming in here like that?!" 

"Na Tol, Fala sha!" the automaton shouted as he jumped up on his hind legs, 
turning himself around much like a real canine in an excited state would. 

Misha moved from under Rick's arm and grabbed Madog by the snout, settling 
the metal animal down. "Madog you need to speak a language that hasn't been 
dead for five hundred years." 

Madog jerked his head free and started yipping and dancing in circles once 

"I think he's been sipping too much oil," someone commented and the group 

"ATTACK PAPA! Lutins come now! HURRY PAPA, HURRY!" Madog said sitting down in 
front of the fox. 

All conversation in the hall dropped to silence, the eyes of all guests 
fixing on the metal fox were it sat on the floor. Rickkter wiped the side of 
his muzzle with the back of a paw and straightened up. "What?" 

"Lutins attack!" repeated Madog. "Big army coming, will reach the walls soon 

Rickkter placed one finger on his head, closing his eyes as if in deep 
concentration. The rest of the room was humming with whispered conversation. 
"That's not possible. I was out in that stuff this morning and it would be 
suicide to march an army through it." 

Misha chose to ignore the raccoon. "Are you sure?" he asked, leaning down 
towards the automation. "How do you know this? Who told you?" 

"Kyia told me," Madog replied, bobbing his head. "Told Salius and me to go 
warn people. He go to chapel now." 

Misha didn't move for a moment, seemingly lost in thought. Then he turned 
back to Rickkter, causing the raccoon to wince. "Aw, hell no." 

"EVERYBODY SUIT UP!" Misha yelled at the top of his lungs. "SEEMS WE'RE 
READY TO GO." The entire hall erupted in chaos as Longs and their companions 
broke ranks at once and scattered in every direction the fox shouted over the 
The hall was a mad house as keepers tried to follow the fox's orders. Through 
the crush of it all, Rickkter and Kayla managed to find each other. 

"What are you going to do?" she asked, her arms up against his chest and 
clenching his doublet. 

Rickkter ran his paw over his head, raking the fur as he looked out over the 
chaos. "Great maker, I have no idea." He suddenly seemed to realize Kayla was 
there. Rick took her by the shoulders and moved her over to a nearby wall. 
His face bore an expression of subdued panic as he looked down on her. 
"Kayla, listen: I want you to get someplace safe. Go to the Lightbringer 
temple. I've seen the wards on that place, it will take a lot to break in. Go 

"And what about you?" 

Rick was looking off over the nearly dispersed crowd. "I'm going out there. 
If this is true, they're going to need someone who can seek out the enemy in 
all this snow." He rubbed her upper arm. "Just get yourself safe, okay love?" 
He started to head off before she could answer. 

The skunk jerked him back with a quick pull on his lapels. "Damn it, Rick, 
I'm not going to run and hide! Last time Nasoj invaded I hid out from his 
armies, and this is what happened to me. That time I lost everything dear to 
me! I won't lose you this time." 

Reaching up, Rickkter tenderly stroked her cheek fur. "And I don't want to 
lose you, love. But I can't just sit by." He rubbed his paw through her fur a 
little more. "I do know something you can do then; no one besides us knows of 
what's coming. I want you to go around and warn anyone you come across. I 
don't know if they'll believe you, but they have to know. Tell them to get to 
the Temple or perhaps the Cathedral. Anyplace secure."  He bent forward and 
kissed her gently. "And if you see any Lutins, if they do get through, I want 
you to run to one of those places as quickly as you can. I couldn't stand 
losing you either." 

Kayla cupped his paw in two of hers, pressing it to her face once more before 
letting go. "Okay, love. You had better get back quickly though, you hear 

He smiled. "I will." Slipping his paw from hers, he gave her a final wave and 
went out the door at a quick jog. However, the smile was quick to fade. It 
was replaced by a slight snarl at the very notion of what he was doing. An 
assault in the middle of winter? Great Maker, Rick thought as he raced up a 
flight of stairs, perhaps Nasoj was as insane as people said he was. No other 
general would tolerate the loss of life any army would sustain in this kind 
of weather. Abruptly the sounds of panicked preparation from the Long House 
dropped away, and when he crested the top of the current flight of steps 
Rickkter found himself just down the hall from his quarters. 

"Thank you, Kyia." Rickkter wuffed as he opened his door. Well, at least one 
thing was going right for him. Once in the room the raccoon turned around 
several times, raking his paws through the fur on his head. The first thing 
to do was take care of the clothing. His claws made quick work of the buttons 
and laces that didn't want to come fast enough. Damn, that was going to cost 
to get repaired, but at that moment all he cared about was getting into his 
old tunic. 

Phet, damn that smelled, he reflected as he pulled it over his head. But old 
clothing was the least of his problems. Right not the biggest was the alcohol 
he had consumed, causing him to fumble with the catches on his mail shirt. 
Have another drink, you're not going anywhere for a while. Right, sure! 
Stupid, stupid, thrice damned little green fucking monsters have to pick yule 
EVE in the middle of the worst damned BLIZZARD the valley has seen in years 
to stage an attack! Oh, he could see this whole incident, on both sides, 
going right down the privy! Damn, damn, damn! 

Eventually he managed to get himself into some semblance of battle readiness. 
Sliding his katana into his scabbard, he headed out the door. He stopped and 
turned back from the top of the stairs to go and strengthen the wards on his 
quarters. Normally they would just repel intruders who got too nosey, 
increasing severity until reaching lethal levels. Most people would become 
discouraged long before they reached that point. Rickkter removed all of 
that. If anyone tampered the spells on his with his room now they wouldn't 
live long enough to realize how bad an idea that was. Then he moved on to the 

End part 9b 

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