[Vfw-times] MK Winter assault part 12a
COkane8116 at aol.com
COkane8116 at aol.com
Fri Aug 17 23:52:17 CDT 2001
The sharp peals of the bell barely penetrated through the thick walls of the
Keep into the library and through the thinner ones of Fox Cutter's personal
office, so normally he never heard them. Sitting where he was, in one of the
overstuffed chairs near the back of the bottom level of the library,
contentedly reading over a few favorite tales in the children's storybook
that he had been using all day, it took a few minutes for the bells to
impress their purpose on him. His first reaction was one of baffled
disbelief. Alarm bells on Yule Eve? Who in their right mind would be
attacking now, and in the middle of a blizzard of all things?
Fox closed the heavy tome and set it beside his chair, focussing more of his
attention on the bells. No, they were still ringing. That would mean it
wasn't some sort of drunken prank. But the alternative was equally
Leaving the sanctuary of the brightly burning reading lamps behind, Fox made
his way though the well known maze of shelves up towards the large windows
that went all around the third level of the library itself. It was a long
trek up the flights of stairs, but not something unusual for him. He was
thankful that the rest of the lights in the library at this level had been
extinguished when he had chased the last few people out a half hour ago or
so, so it was easier for him to see the outside.
Not that there was a lot to see. White. Everywhere he looked, blowing white.
Damn, this was a full fledged blizzard, who in their right minds would be out
in that? he wondered yet again. Perhaps Nasoj was crazier than anyone else
had him figured for. Finally reaching the window itself, Fox cupped his hands
over his eyes and pressed up against the ancient glass. Patiently he stood
there gazing into the blackness and blowing white, hoping that his eyes would
adjust enough to pick up something of what was going on outside.
The alarm bells still hadn't stopped ringing. And Fox had a bad feeling of
what would happen when they finally did.
"Okay, where do we go from here?"
The scene is a muddled one at best. In one corner are huddled some twos core
children of the Keep, a few of then cowering and shaken, many of them puzzled
and not knowing what's going on but silenced by the appearance of Jeremy's
dad. Kevin is in the opposite corner, looking like he's been in pretty bad
shape, but getting slowly better as Joanne binds his wounds - Daemion
watching closely as she does so. Derek is clinging to Kirk and refusing to
let go; Kirk himself is standing awkwardly in the corner, uncertain of how to
deal with Derek and just holding. Dana is next to her brother, patting at
Derek's head and cooing, trying to make sure he's all right. Perry is at the
door, sword at the ready, a grim look on his face, clearly ready to deal with
anything that might come through that door with evil intent.
And pacing back and forth at the front of the room is Jono, hands behind his
back, looking most worried and uncertain. It is he who has just spoken, and
is continuing to speak.
"We can't get to the Lothanasi temple from here; the Lutins almost certainly
have that place surrounded by now and we can't keep track of all the kids
while fighting. Likewise for the Ecclesian Chapel; it's even farther away,
and also likely to have been an early target. Long House is probably going to
be in dire straits as all the Longs were partying and so probably aren't
fully prepared for an invasion. The Banquet Hall is going to be locked up
tighter than a Sueliman ruin, the village can easily be burned down, and the
Duke's Tower will probably be rubble before we get there. That blocks all the
major defensible points in the Keep."
"There's the network of tunnels under the Keep," Kirk points out. "The Lutins
aren't likely to go deep into there; it gets pretty dangerous for them."
"What's dangerous for the Lutins is also dangerous for our kids," Jo points
out, looking up briefly from the mouse's wounds. "We have to keep that in
"Right," Jono says. "We can't stay in the tunnels, but they're probably safer
than this room. We can keep that option open as a possible exit path if
necessary. What else?"
"Towers along the southern walls are likely to be pretty well defended," says
Perry, barely even looking up. "The gatehouse and killing ground area are
always well manned. They're also more likely to be attacked, but at least
there'll be more good troops there to keep the enemy busy."
"So we head south?" Dana asks.
Kirk nods. "Would make sense that the Lutins would come from the north and
get in earliest way possible any ways, especially in this weather. South is
likely to be the safest direction."
"Okay," says the cat, standing up straight. "Here's my plan. We'll have to be
exposed for a bit, but we can probably make it. We're within about fifty
yards of the Inner Gate when we start from the South Gate, so we can probably
make it, and there's almost certainly an entrance to the tunnels there that
we can reach. Once we're there, we take the tunnels as far south as we can go
'till we find a good resting spot, and we all take watches while the kids get
some sleep. Then, Yule morning, we get back up, keep taking the tunnels until
we get to the Killing Ground area. We ought to be pretty safe there. If not,
we can keep going along the tunnels and, Kyia willing, that'll get us to the
nearest fortress outpost; we can certainly hole up in there. Anyone have
anything to add?"
"Fifty yards across the snow? That's going to be a bit of a stretch,
especially for the children," Jo says.
"I know it's risky, but it looks like the best option we have," counters
Jono. "The Lutins are going to want to spend less time fighting and more time
pillaging, so we may have a better chance of it if we move while they're
Kirk nods. "Agreed. The Lutins are mainly cowards at heart; they prefer to
spend their time stealing."
"All right..." Jono takes in a deep breath, then heads over to the kids and
kneels before them. "Okay, everybody, we're going to have a bit more trouble
before we're through, but then we're going to be safe. But it's really,
really important that the bad guys don't hear us. So I'm going to make a deal
with you all."
He spreads his paws wide - this is going to be something of wonderment. "When
we get out of this, and all the bad guys are away from Metamor, if all of
you, every single child, manages to stay quiet and not disturb the bad guys,
EVERYBODY gets a BIG slice of blueberry pie when we get back!" He grins
widely, trying to downplay the danger. Can't let them get frightened.
One child speaks up. "Um... Uncle Jono?" Her voice sounds rather shaky.
Jono looks at her concernedly. "Yes, Sara?"
"I... I don't like blueberry.." she says in a timid voice.
Jono chuckles, smiling again. "Okay, any kind of pie you like!"
The faces of all the children in general become Much brighter. Success. Now
for the hard part.
"Okay, I have to go work with the other grown-ups; we have to get ready to
go. When we get outside, I need you to run and run and run as fast as you
possibly can along with Dana over there and Jo all the way to the Inner Gate,
you understand? You need to keep up, because there are lots of bad guys who
like to eat little kids who will try to get you if you slow down. But Kirk
and Perry and Jo and I are all going to do our best to make sure that none of
you get eaten, because you all have big pieces of pie that need to get eaten
and so we can't let the bakers down. Okay?"
There is a chorus of nods. Some of the kids look a little more worried now,
but not too much - this is big Uncle Jono, he's been part of lots of stories
that he's told us, he just saved Derek from getting eaten, sure he can take
care of me.
"Okay? Great!" Jono gets back up. "All right, folks, let's start gearing up.
We leave in ten minutes."
Scene II - 9:15pm.
Perry opens the door a crack and peeks out one way. Then he opens the door a
little more and looks around it.
"No lutins. We're clear" he whispers.
"Okay" comes Jono's whisper from behind. Perry steps out, followed closely
behind by Jono. They both take up positions each watching an end of the
corridor. Then Kirk starts heading out, followed by a stream of children,
Kevin walking among them, with Jono staying in front while Perry stays in
place. Dana and Jo bring up the rear of the stream, Jo closing the door
behind her, and then they head off, with Perry bringing up the rear.
Each of the children keeps completely silent as they move along - nobody
wants to miss out on their chance at a slice of pie. Kirk and Jono trade
positions, Jono now slinks along as quietly as any cat, coiled whip in one
hand, while Kirk stays in front, ready to greet either his fellow troops at
the gate, or an ill-fated horde of Lutins. Jo has one of her daggers out and
Dana has her sword drawn; Perry doesn't, but his paw stays on the hilt, just
As soon as they turn the corner, a "Who goes there?" comes from the direction
of the gate.
Kirk relaxes. "That's Barklund. We almost certainly still own the gate." Then
he calls back. "Commander Kirkland Russell, with party of over two score."
There's an audible sigh of relief, and then three soldiers appear from
various places of concealment. "Commander, glad to see you're still all
"Likewise for yourself, Corporal. What state is the gate in?"
"Holding, sir," the soldier reports. "They stopped banging on it about five
minutes after you left; we think they were ordered to the Duke's Keep
instead. We're not terribly close to any major gathering spots, so we think
it likely they want the manpower elsewhere, sir."
Kirk nods, then waves everyone forward. Kevin notes the signal, gives the
same to the trio in back, and they head for the Gate, Kirk explaining their
plan to Barklund all the while. Jono turns to the kids and puts his paw to
his lips, indicating silence. The game is still going, and so the kids don't
* * * * * *
The doors don't look damaged at all when they finally get there, and nobody
is banging on them. "So far so good..." Jono says softly as Dana moves up to
join him. "Everyone ready to get moving?"
"Just about." Kirk turns to Barklund. "Okay. You're in charge of this gate
while I'm away. Hold it as long as you can until relieved. If this proves
impossible at any point, you are to abandon this place and take all available
weapons and men to the Banquet Hall, where you should receive new orders. If
the Banquet Hall has been evacuated, your next destination should be the
Chapel. Is this understood?"
"Sir!" Barklund says, standing at attention. "Orders will be carried out
exactly as you say, sir."
"Good." Kirk nods to the Corporal, then turns towards the doors. "Be prepared
to open the doors on my order, and reclose them on Corporal Barklund's!" he
yells to the gate crew. There is a chorus of "Yes Sirs!" as the orders are
"Everybody get ready to run!" Jono says to the kids, who are even now
gathering up into threes as discussed before, several of them very scared,
but all of them determined not to let Uncle Jono down. "All ready?" There's a
chorus of nods. "Ready in back?" Jono calls to Perry and Jo, who also nod.
"Dana?" She nods. "Okay, Kevin, do your thing."
Kevin closes his eyes, breathes deeply, and then begins to chant, recasting
the warming spell he'd had running earlier. "Got it. We're all ready to
Kirk lowers himself down so his horns are pointed outward, breathing heavily,
preparing himself. "Barklund?"
"Sir. Good luck, sir."
Kirk nods, then calls out.
"OPEN THE GATES!"
The doors have barely swung open before Kirk has taken off, bellowing and
charging like any other enraged bull, clearing a path for the children.
"LET'S GO!" screams Jono, and with that he and Dana are off, with nearly
fourscore children running as fast as they have ever flown in their lives
after Uncle Jono.
End part 12a
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