[Vfw-times] MK Winter Assault part 48
COkane8116 at aol.com
COkane8116 at aol.com
Wed Oct 24 23:34:02 CDT 2001
WA is huge! No doubting that. And it has a large cast of characters (well
over 30 at last count). So to help people who might be getting lost I'm
putting together a cast of characters to help!
The two had been ignored after George had left their cell. Food had been
brought them but the mole had entered and left without speaking a word. It
gave them plenty of time to think and talk.
Their seclusion was suddenly broken when the door opened and Misha and a
wolverine morph entered. The fox had a hard look to him, cold and angry but
the wolverine looked frightened. "This is Jenn," the fox said in a nasty
tone. "She has a few questions to ask, and you will answer them."
"You came in through the South Gate?" Jenn asked in a quiet, female voice.
Ferwig realized that under that robe and thick fur was a woman. "Yes we
"Did you see any sign of my husband?" she asked. "He's a wolverine like
me. Andre is the Captain of the South Gate."
"I saw no wolverines among the dead, my lady," Teria answered. "But we did
not take the gate, another group did."
"Could he have been taken prisoner?" Misha asked.
"He could have, " Ferwig responded. "We didn't linger in the gate but
moved on to our target."
"You mean my friend George," the fox commented.
"George is your friend?" Ferwig asked.
"Yes he is and so is Andre."
"Are you sure you didn't see him or hear someone mention him?" Jenn asked
"No, I know nothing of him."
The wolverine burst out in tears and ran from the room. Misha started
after her but paused at the door. "You'd better hope he's still alive or I'll
take it out of your hides. Slowly and painfully." With that he turned and
left the cell. The door slammed shut with an ominous thud.
Neither doubted that the vulpine was dead serious about his threat.
Jono's mind is also working quickly, though he's not grinning triumphantly as
a result. The expression on his face is one of stone-cold determination. "Jo!
Perry! Take the tents down; try to keep them in one piece! We're going to
need them for the trip over!" he yells as he helps another one of the kids
up. "Go over to Dana and the others!" he says to the child, not having the
time to even see who it is.
Jono has a Plan. If visibility through the snow wasn't so dismal, one would
be able to see it in his eyes. He's certain that not all the kids would be
able to keep up in an all-out dash to the tower; the Lutins would catch them.
And there's far too many kids to carry. So he's going to have to improvise
with what was left behind. "At least I'd already told them that story before
this mess happened in the first place; it won't be an entirely new concept to
It's the scream of terror from one of the two kids still down there with Kirk
that rips Jono's attention away from the tents.
Kirk, having heard the battlecry, has whirled around to face whatever threat
is coming even before the girl has screamed. When she does, he's already
assessing the situation. The upcoming combat, he can see, will consist of
himself against roughly fifteen or so very active Lutins, one of whom is
swinging a Very nasty-looking sword. His axe is useless in these tunnels;
there's not nearly enough room to swing it. Worse from a combat perspective,
he still has the last two children in his arms, which is certainly going to
slow him down. Will likely have to resort to kicks, but they won't be all
that powerful since he can't balance with the kids in his arms. Perhaps he
could drop them, get in front of them so none of the Lutins ca-
He looks up to see Jono on his belly before the doorway, reaching down
inside. Before his mind even registers what Jono's trying to do Kirk has
already given each child a quick *heave* upwards, sending them momentarily
flying through the air until Jono catches them both. By the time he does,
though, Kirk has already turned his attention to the Lutins.
Jono hasn't even gotten the chance to pull the kids all the way out of the
tunnel before Kirk engages the Lutins, kicking out once towards some Lutin
that looks to be carrying a scimitar; he misses, but ends up hitting someone
directly in front of his target and knocking both back. Another kick
delivered to the other side manages to send another Lutin crashing into what
looks like two or three more.
Then Kirk starts to crouch down, and so Jono quickly pulls the kids back,
managing to get them away from the trapdoor just before Kirk reappears,
bellowing loudly and leaping up Incredibly high for one so big, landing
halfway in and out of the trapdoor. It takes a half second before Kirk has
pulled himself fully out of the doorway, and another second for him to grab
the trapdoor and slam it down shut with a final grunt.
A few seconds just pass then, as Kirk lays there almost panting from the
effort put into the jump, and Jono tries to keep both the kids and his friend
all in view at the same moment. Then the little boy Jono is still holding
gets an enthusiastic look of wonder on his face. "WOW! Can we do that again?"
* * *
"Twenty yards! They're almost on top of us!" comes Jahnsen's voice, bringing
Kevin's attention back to the outside world. "Whatever you're going to do,
Kevin, better do it now!"
"Coming!" he yells back, getting his robes back on over the amulet, making a
brief check to insure that the lines are still attached.
Kevin is not primarily a combat mage. Strictly scholarly mages tend to be
limited in what they can do, and Kevin is no exception; he only recently
learned the Fireball spells after the death of the Patriarch and the scare of
potential war that had come up in light of that event. He's not a combat mage
by any stretch of the imagination - he's a historian. And it's highly
doubtful that a detachment of Lutins will be intimidated or otherwise
repelled from the field of battle by historical findings, no matter how
But there's another tool he uses for his historical works that, if one is
clever enough, can be very versatile.
He rushes out of the tent even as he notes Jo and Perry running towards it.
Out of the corner of his eye he can see that the other tent has been
apparently reshaped somehow; must have been that plan the bard was talking
about. Near it is the collected future of Metamor, guarded by Dana. He waves
to them as he runs over to Jahnsen; he *knows* they're going to love this.
"What're you waiting for?" the bat asks, yelling to be heard over the wind as
Kevin makes it up to him.
"What direction are they coming in from? How's their front line oriented?"
"What?" the bat asks, momentarily puzzled. Then he shakes his head as if to
dismiss that thought, and holds out his hand in their direction, turning it
flat vertically so it's parallel with the Lutin front line. "Like that!"
Kevin looks out in that direction. The kids are well out of the picture; the
tent contraption show up a little to the left, but it's not interfering. Jono
and Kirk are off to the other side, but they're just close enough to him such
that he still has room. "Perfect." he says almost under his breath.
"Excuse me, sir?"
Kevin turns to Jahnsen briefly. "Stand back a couple yards! Otherwise you
could ruin the effect!"
Jahnsen knows better than to argue with a wizard on a point like that. He
immediately runs towards the kids, looking back and watching.
And Kevin starts chanting.
* * *
Kesk Morgrim likes to keep things small and swift, based on the simplest
lessons learned from the legendary Markesh Blackhand. Move in with small
units run by trusted warriors, take by surprise and be prepared for the use
of strength when surprise is lost. Only the most basic of tactics, he knows,
but most northern humans don't know that, let alone most northern Lutins.
That includes the human mages (damn them to the nine hells!) that have been
running the remainder of the Blackhand tribe while Tharag goes off playing
scout - they hear that Tharag's party has been attacked, and they insist on a
show of force! Sure, it'll accomplish the job, but it'll also cause more
Lutin casualties; the small detached units Markesh favored would do far
Kesk spits in disgust. Takes eight score poison arrows launched into a forest
and blind luck for that damn mage to throw away the greatest Lutin warrior
that ever lived, but only shouted words from a lowly follower of same to
throw away the remainder of that warrior's army. The Blackhand Tribe still
knows how to Fight, damn it, and yet they're being thrown out here to cut off
retreat and reinforcement. A living-wall force! One of the things Markesh
would never have done. He spits again. It could be worse; he could find
himself dead along with the rest of Markesh's general staff. Only a few of
the lieutenants and one or two of the generals (*including* himself, he
thinks in disgust) managed to survive the purges Nasoj ordered after
Not that all of them would really have been threats. Most of Markesh's
supporters, though thought of up North as military geniuses, would probably
be considered equivalent to run of the mill officers here at the Keep. Kesk
has a large amount of respect for his foes - another lesson of Markesh's.
When you respect a worthy and strong foe, you're better prepared to defeat
said foe when the time arrives. "All the more reason to fight them with
brains throughout and not this damn sneak-up-then-smash foolishness." But
there's no way Tharag would ever listen to him.
He nods to Neska, one of the other ex-supporters who'd had to lay low and
play dumb when Nasoj showed his wrath. If real tactics were being thought of
she'd be just behind him, ready to use a few spells so as to narrow the odds
against these Keepers. But Nasoj doesn't trust the Lutin shamans, so none of
them can cast spells; only his incompetent humans can. And he, an experienced
warrior who's run more campaigns than those babes have even dreamed of, has
to take ORDERS from them!
Neska waves a hand to him, jolting him away from that line of thought. There
is a task to do, however distasteful it might be. The Keepers that attacked
Tharag's camp would be about oh, twenty yards ahead. "Would that we could
have Fortune smile on us by insuring that runt's death in the assault," he
thinks to himself before he starts forward once more, his ragtag 'command'
(he hesitates to dignify it with such a phrase) behind him.
And then he halts as the campsite comes into view.
* * *
A war raged in the hallowed and ancient halls of Metamor Keep. A war that
would effect the course of millions in the next thousand years was being
fought by a mere handful of people. It was being fought in a thousand little
skirmishes, ambushes, attacks and desperate last stands that were taking
place in nameless corridors and rooms. Halls that had seen only calm and
happiness, that had echoed to the sounds of parties and celebrations now rang
with the sounds of combat. It heard the clash of steel on steel, the
crackling of flames and the screams of the dieing.
In one corridor which seemed much like any of a hundred others a score of
Lutins had battered down a door using a makeshift battering ram. In the rooms
beyond a family of seven huddled in one corner while their father bravely
tried to hold off the monsters attacking them. It was a hopeless fight and
they all knew it, especially the Lutins. First they would have some fun with
the man, then the rest of the family - especially the wife and daughters.
Four of the green creatures were taking their time in killing the man, taking
turns attacking him while the others cheered and egged them on. They were so
busy with the entertainment that they didn't see the group of Keepers
approaching until a javelin imbedded into the back of one of Lutins. He
managed one scream before he died. The rest followed him seconds later.
The ten panic stricken keepers were running for their life. Three men,
four women and three children of various species were moving a fast as
possible to escape but they weren't moving fast enough. Death was snapping at
their heels and they knew it.
Behind them, a dozen Lutins screaming and howling raced towards the
Keepers. They were all trying to out race each other, eager to score the
first kill. Their quarry was barely forty feet ahead of the lead lutin when
they reached an intersection. They paused for a moment as if deciding what to
do then continued on. But they were still moving far too slow. The lead lutin
was a small male carrying a spear as long as he was tall. It's long steel
point was covered with blood. A raging blood lust filled his eye. The rest
of his band was mere footsteps behind. He reached the intersection without
slowing down. There was a brief flicker of a shadow and the Lutins head went
flying from his shoulder to land at the feet of the rest of the war band.
They had barely a moment to surprise before a shower of arrows, javelins and
spears ripped through them. It was over in moments.
Misha casually wiped the blood from Whispers blade as Finbar moved among
the lutin bodies slitting their throats to be sure the dead weren't faking.
"That went well," the fox said.
"Well for you," one of the 'panic stricken keepers' said as the group
walked back up the corridor they had just run down. They seemed none the
worse for having been chased by such a bloody group. The speaker was a middle
aged man with dark brown hair. "You weren't the ones being chased."
Standing next to the man was blonde haired women still holding her baby by
one leg. "Here," she said handing the doll to the man. "You get to hold
junior this time."
"I'm surprised they keep falling for such an obvious trick," Caroline said
as she stood, bow in hand and an arrow nocked in case more lutins appeared.
"How many times are we going to do this trick" Danielle asked.
"Once more," fox answered. "Four times is our limit. After that we're
stretching our luck."
"Then what?" The woman asked.
"We start over again but we'll use another trick this time," Misha
explained. "It's a good one. Lutins used it against me four years ago and
almost killed me."
The hall was thirty feet wide and forty feet long, small by the standards
of The Keep. It was laid out for a feast. Tables chairs and benches were
everywhere many scattered or knocked over evidence of the hurried retreat of
the Keepers. On the walls hung fine tapestries richly decorated with all
manner scenes done in silk, silver and gold thread. Equally beautiful carpets
lay under foot.
The Lutins moved warily through the hall fearful of an ambush. They looked
in awe greed and hunger at tables laden with food and drink held in fine
silver and pewter goblets and plates. These people were from the Mountain
Storms a tribe who eked out a precarious living in the Dragon mountains. In
that terrible place merely surviving was a major victory.
Nearly a year ago the man had arrived warmly dressed in expensive furs. He
came with a dozen soldiers and a tall troll all dressed like him. Between
them had more furs and clothing then half the tribe combined. The man brought
with him a dozen ponies laden with gifts -food, furs, clothing even gold and
silver in amounts none in the tribe had seen before.
This man spoke of a great and powerful leader called Nasoj who was going
to conquer all of the Midlands. He spoke of great victories and of the
immense wealth - loot and slaves for all. They only had to take one castle
and all the wealth of the Midlands would be theirs.
Despite living high in the mountains and wearing skins these Lutins were
hardly gullible fools. They knew about Metamor Keep and Nasoj and how he had
failed to take it. But they also knew of the legends of the wealth of that
legendary place and besides it was something more to do in the deep of winter
then huddle in their shelters and try and keep warm.
The long walk through the storm had been easy enough for a people who
lived in a land where summer was a scant two weeks long and even then the
snow never melted. They did see how many other Lutins had died on the trip to
the keep and most of all they saw how Nasoj had stayed behind warm and safe
in his citadel.
The fighting to get in had been surprisingly easy, few of the Keepers were
out and about in the storm. But those few they had come upon had fought hard
and with great courage and skill, true warriors. The tribe would sing of
their bravery forever.
So now a year later sixty members of the tribe were in a place that had
only been a fairly tale till now. Standing in a hall full of more treasure
and wealth then any of them could imagine. Like small children they started
to grab everything of worth within reach - gold, silver, pewter even iron and
wood. Tapestries were pulled down and carpets rolled up and carefully piled
in the center of the room. Roast meats, bread still warm from the oven,
myriad cakes and all manner of vegetables were greedily snatched up and
devoured. Washed down with fine wines, hardy ales and warm cool water.
One lutin was carefully collecting the iron tongs and poker from the fire
place. When he picked up the wooden bucket that was next to them he saw the
contents. Surprised he stood there for a moment then tenderly touched the
riches that lay withint. The bucket was resting on the floor in front of a
small door that was barely two feet high. Far too small for even a lutin to
use. In a flash of inspiration he pulled open the door and was rewarded with
a sight of treasure far beyond his wildest dreams. His squeal of delight
brought his comrades running and soon all the other treasures lay forgotten.
The lure of the greatest treasure having driven thoughts of all else out of
An ancient Lutin her faced tattoos marking her as a shaman carefully
reached into the small room and tenderly picked up one of the pieces of
treasure. She sniffed it and then breaking off a tiny portion tasted it. All
others waited in silence hoping that this wasn't some foul trick but real.
She smiled showing teeth stained a deep burgundy color and held up the piece
for all to see. The room erupted in cheers and shouts of joy. This was a
treasure trove they would remember and sing tales of for centuries to come.
What food and drink that wasn't consumed was carefully packed away for the
trip home. There was enough there to feed the hungry mouths of the tribe for
months. The worthless gold and silver was also packed safely. It would later
be traded to the low land tribes for more valuable things like weapons to
protect the tribe and tools of steel like axes and shovels to cut wood and
move the frozen earth. The carpets and tapestries were carefully folded and
rolled. Soon they would decorated the rooms and temple of the tribe. They
would be cherished heirlooms passed down from generation to generation. Their
thickness would help to trap in the warmth while their bright pictures would
stir the imagination and lead to many happy nights spent singing songs of how
they were brought back from the mystical Keep.
These were all great treasures but none compared to the greatest treasure
-that which had been found behind that small door. THAT treasure was packed
and handled most carefully of all so that not one lump was lost. The
treasure? Coal. Long burning, easy to carry coal. So much coal would last the
tribe all winter. It meant that no one need go out to find and cut wood to
burn. It mean that no longer would the tribe be forced to burn dung when the
heavy storms came and no one could go foraging for wood. All could sit by the
warm, coal fueled fires and eat the food taken from this feast all winter. No
need to leave their warm homes at all!
Without a second thought the tribe left the hall through the door they had
entered and to their delight found themselves outside! The wind howled and
the snow swirled so strong as to blot out all vision beyond a hands span. It
was weather that would kill most folk but to these Lutins it was like being
embraced by their mothers. Behind them they left a hall empty of all treasure
save two. In the center of the room they left two entire handfuls of the life
preserving coal and the largest portion of venison from the feast. These were
left as gifts to the spirit of the great keep for the wonderful gifts she had
given them. For Nasoj they left what he deserved - nothing.
End part 48
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