[Vfw-times] MK Winter Assault part 27
COkane8116 at aol.com
COkane8116 at aol.com
Thu Sep 13 21:33:18 CDT 2001
8:30am - 7/25
The main hall of the temple was full of people. Its vaulted ceiling rang with
the sounds of people who had grown weary of the close quarters. Some of the
people were sleeping, some were praying, some were comforting their family
and friends. Others weren't involved in anything so mundane.
The group assembled in the center of the room was a mixed lot of men, women,
and various animal morphs. They were dressed in various types of armor and
carried a polyglot mix of weapons.
Thunder roared suddenly through the temple, a shuddering boom of sound that
came from the main temple doors, repeated three times in rapid succession.
The sound echoed through the whole temple. Everyone froze, unsure of what the
"It's from outside," Someone said.
"They're trying to batter the doors down," someone said in a panic.
A person screamed and a loud clamor filled the air as people scrambled down
the narrow stairs to the perceived safety of the archives. Others hugged
their loved ones in fear; still others grasped weapons intent on selling
their lives dearly.
"Quiet!" Raven shouted and the room instantly fell silent. The priestess
motioned to Daria and her group to surround the doors leading to the
antechamber and the outer doors.
Slowly, and carefully Daria and a small group filed through the inner doors
and into the tight corridor beyond. Ornate frescoes with elaborate scrollwork
and complex calligraphy covered the walls.
Again the doors shook with the heavy reverberations, the booming echoes
drifting ominously up the passageway.
Raven took a position just inside the inner doors, next to Jessica. The
falcon mage was desperately trying to ready a spell. The wolf morph touched
Jessica on the wing. "Relax child," she said, comfortingly. "Move easily."
The falcon took a deep breath and calmly finished reading her spell. A throng
of soldiers and acolytes quickly crowded around the two, drawn steel gleaming
in the torchlight.
The heavy, bass thunder continued, pausing briefly every few seconds, only to
repeat again soon after in a slow pounding at the doors. To many in the room
it sounded like a death knell. To others it sounded like the ominous thunder
of a battering ram.
"Is anyone in there?" Came a faint voice from beyond the portal during one of
those brief pauses.
A worn, and ancient looking woman pushed her way through the crowd of people
trying defend the outer doors. Daria recognized her as Malia, the Temple door
warden. "Who is there?" the warden asked the doors in a dry voice.
"It's Misha Brightleaf with a group of my people. Can we come in?" the voice
"Mistress Raven, there is someone at the doors asking for entry," the ancient
warden said calmly to the Lightbringer priestess.
The wolf nodded. "Let them in, but everyone stand ready. This might be a ruse
by the lutins."
Two guards swiftly drew back the securing cross brace and lifted the two
heavy bolts securing the leaves of the huge, heavy portal closed. After the
bolts had been withdrawn the warden slowly pulled one of the massive doors
open. Everyone tensed as Daria and Bradfox nocked arrows and Morel readied a
spear for throwing. Daria wondered who was on the other side. Was it more
Keepers or a horde of bloodthirsty lutins?
Nothing came through the doorway immediately; instead it yawned, an empty
chasm leading into darkness. The seconds seemed to stretch into an eternity
as the open portal remained empty. Finally just when Daria felt her heart was
going to burst from excitement a shadow appeared in the doorway and a figure
slipped into the temple. The tension in the room eased instantly as everyone
recognized the figure as not being a lutin; it was a Keeper. The person was
dressed in tabard and pants that were painted in brown, green and black
spots. There was a long bow on his back and a long sword on his belt. In his
paws was a five-foot long, coal black, double bladed battleaxe. The Keeper's
vulpine head darted back and forth taking in his surroundings.
"Misha," Raven said calmly. "It is. . ." she started to say.
The fox held a gauntled hand up to the wolf, interrupting her. He turned and
motioned through the open door. Then he watched silently as a group filed in.
Most of the people were a mixed group of all ages, species and sexes; some
dressed in the ragged remnants of their holiday finery and others in ragged
work clothes. Mixed in among the others were six who stood out as different.
They walked and stood bolder, more confident then the rest, and they were all
dressed in the black, brown and green camouflage of a scout. Last through the
doorway was a tall ferret carrying a long bow across his back and a long
sword in his hands.
The ferret carefully looked over the twenty people who preceded him into the
room. Then he looked at Misha and saluted. "All present Misha. I'm the last
one. Hallway's clear."
The vulpine nodded. "All right. Keep half the team at the doors, the others
get some rest."
"Ok boss," Finbar answered. "I'll rotate them so everyone gets a rest."
It wasn't until the door was closed and barred that the fox looked back to
the Priestess, who had patiently waited throughout. "My lady Raven hin'Elric,
I'm glad to see that you and your people are safe."
"Thank you Misha."
"I have a about a dozen refugees I picked up in our travels. Can they stay
here?" Misha asked.
The priestess turned to an acolyte, "Please see that these people get cared
for. Be sure to find them places in the archive." The woman began to quietly
direct servants and other acolytes.
Raven turned back to Misha. "You bring word from the outside world?" It was
as much a statement as a question.
"Yes I do," the fox answered in a tired voice.
The entire chamber erupted into a tumult of conflicting and shouting voices.
"What's happened to the town? I heard it was burning?" someone shouted.
"Have you seen my husband Paul, he was tall, with brown hair. He was working
in the kitchens."
"Are the walls still holding? My sister was on duty at the outer gate? Do you
know what's happened to there?"
"Have the lutins over run the lower town?"
"Have you seen my father?"
"Have you seen my son?"
"My mother . . "
"Sister . . ."
"Do you think the lutins will make it into the Keep?"
"QUIET!" Raven said coldly and the room went deathly silent.
Misha fidgeted for a moment before speaking. "The outer walls have been
completely overrun. The outer gate has been taken and Andre the gate captain
. ." Misha stumbled over the words. "My good friend Andre is missing and
believed dead," he finished in a faint voice.
"The outer ward?" Raven asked.
"Burning," Finbar answered simply, moving up to stand next to Misha. "All
three gates have been taken, and lutins are running berserk inside the Keep
There were sobs and shrieks from the people in the room. In the background
someone started weeping.
"Then Metamor has fallen," commented someone from the crowd.
"No," Misha answered firmly. "The monsters are in the Keep but they haven't
taken it yet. Getting inside the Keep is one thing, taking and holding it is
"Metamor shall not fall, Kyia will see to that," Raven answered with firm
conviction. "What exactly is the situation?" The priestess asked of Misha.
"Nasoj's forces are inside the Keep and are roaming the halls at will. But it
seems Kyia doesn't like her new guests and they're getting lost as everything
keeps moving around on them."
"So we're holding on?" Someone asked.
"Is anyone from the south coming to help us?" Another asked.
"Yes to both questions," Misha answered.
"Forces are moving to aid us even as we speak," Raven added.
"Is the Duke all right?" Someone asked. The room suddenly went deathly quiet
as all eyes turned to the vulpine scout.
"Yes," Misha answered without missing a beat. "His safety was the first thing
The tension in the room eased noticeably. Finbar looked at his leader but
didn't speak. Then he turned and looked to helping the refugees.
The silent exchange didn't go unnoticed by the Lightbringer priestess, who
made no comment of her own.
The fox touched Raven on the arm. "We need to speak in private."
The wolf priestess nodded and pointed to a doorway. "We can talk in my
As Misha moved to follow the wolf he was stopped by a tug on the arm.
Turning, he recognized the skunk immediately. "Kayla, it's good to see that
"Thank you. Have you seen Rickkter?" the skunk asked.
Misha shook his head. "Not in a while. When Madog came charging in Rickkter
took a group and headed out. I haven't seen him since. Knowing him he's in
the thick of the fighting."
The skunk's whole body drooped. "I see," she said in a small voice.
Misha touched her on the shoulder. "Listen Kayla, Rickkter is a survivor.
Whatever happens he'll come through it alive. He may be a little battered and
bruised, but he'll survive."
She brightened noticeably and gave him a hug. "Thank you Misha." The fox
broke the hug reluctantly and moved after Raven.
Neither Misha nor Raven spoke until the door closed behind them and they were
alone in her private chambers.
"What do you know about the Duke?" Raven asked.
"Nothing," Misha answered. "I sent Laura and her team to find the Duke. They
haven't reported back yet. I've heard a lot rumors . . . "
"Rumors that have him dead?" The wolf finished.
"Can they be true? Is Thomas dead?"
The scout shrugged. "Anything could be possible. We do know that Nasoj
infiltrated a lot of assassins into the Keep before the assault."
"Any idea of how many?" Raven asked.
"No, but Madog and Sir Saulius killed the seven who came after Father Hough."
Raven looked shocked for a moment before regaining her composure. "They came
after Hough? Is he all right?"
"Hough is fine. A little shook up but fine. He's leading the defense of the
cathedral even as we speak."
The priestess nodded solemnly. "What is the general situation?"
"We in Long House were warned about the attack by Madog at half past eight.
The actual attack began at about nine o'clock or about half past. They were
over the outer wall before we even knew they were there. By ten the outer
gate had fallen and there was fighting in the outer ward. We had lutins in
the Keep itself by that point, roaming the hallways, but the three gates
didn't fall till about 2 in the morning."
"We have to assume that everything but the Keep itself has fallen," the fox
explained. "And all three of the Keep gates have been taken and lutins are
pouring in. Long house is still holding out, as is the Cathedral. The outer
ward has been taken and I have reports of it being looted and burned." Misha
gave a mirthless chuckle. "You can see the glow from the flames from any
"So I've seen," Raven said. "Also I can see another light."
The scout nodded. "That's from Oren's tower. I hate to imagine what those
poor folk are going through out there."
"As long as that light burns, Oren and his people are still alive and
"Don't let Oren fool you, he's a tough customer and hard to kill," Misha
answered. "I've sent my Longs out to reconnoiter the keep, harass the lutins
and find any other pockets of resistance. We're finding groups of lost and
cut off Keepers all over the place. The lutins seem to be sticking to the
main hallways and corridors. With all halls and corridors shifting constantly
they seem to be having a tough time finding their way around."
"Kyia is defending herself and us," Raven commented.
"Right now that's the only thing keeping them from overrunning the Keep. They
can't control where their troops are going. So far we've had only small
groups attack Long House. Five to ten in each group and none of them
coordinated. But that won't last, eventually they'll pin down all the
remaining centers of resistance and starve us out." The fox paused in his
conversation. "You mentioned outside," he said pointing at the closed door.
"That help was coming. Was that the truth?"
Raven nodded. "Yes it is. I have contacted several of the temples to the
"We need Midtown, they'd make up the largest contingent. Who has promised to
send troops so far?" Misha asked.
"Merith, and Komley, have both promised troops."
"Too small," the fox said shaking his head. "The best we can hope for from
them is several hundred. What about Midtown. We need them."
"I've entreated Midtown to send troops, but they have not replied yet. I am
expecting an answer before dawn," Raven answered.
The fox just sadly shook his head. "Those fools are bound and determined to
see Metamor destroyed, even if they themselves get destroyed in the process.
What about the towns here in the valley?"
"Besieged by the weather and the lutins. So far they haven't been attacked,"
"Of course not. Once Metamor falls resistance in the rest of the valley can
be cleaned out at leisure," the Long Scout explained. "How long before the
first reinforcements arrive?" Misha asked.
"It takes times to muster a relief force. And the weather is only making it
worse. Most likely a week."
"I don't think Metamor can hold out for that long. If we don't stop him,
Nasoj will take the Keep," was Misha's comment.
"What can we do to stop the attackers?"
"Strike back, hard and often. Keep the lutins off guard, put them on the
defensive and unable to attack," Misha answered. "I've already dispatched two
raiding groups besides the other Long Scout patrol."
The wolf rang a small hand bell and a servant appeared. "Have Daria come
here," she told the woman. The servant left as quickly as she had arrived.
"I have set up a group to conduct raids against the attackers," Raven said to
Misha. "They were about to set out when you arrived. Daria is the leader of
them. Your assistance and advice would be of great service."
"Of course. Glad to help."
"Have you had any contact to the south?" the priestess asked.
"Some. I've contacted my sister Elizabeth. She's talking to the Mages guild
now on sending help."
Raven shook her head. "The Mages guild will not help. They avoid northern
Misha chuckled. "They'll help all right. I told my sister to remind the guild
that if Metamor Keep falls then Nasoj will capture Madog and Omega."
"That should stir them to act."
The fox laughed bitterly. "If I know the guild, they'll panic and spend a
week debating what to do."
"Will they act?" was the canines question.
"Yes. What they send will be powerful, well trained, and completely
untraceable back to the guild. But such help comes at a cost."
"It always does," Raven commented ruefully.
There was a knock at the door and Daria stepped into the room. She calmly
bowed to both the wolf and the fox. "You called me, Priestess?"
"Yes," Raven answered. "Misha has agreed to assist your group in getting
Daria was dressed in a green tunic, with a leather jerkin, leggings and a
leather bracers and belt. One her back was a quiver full of arrows, and Misha
recognized an expander bow, attached to her belt next to a sharp rapier.
Misha shook the young girl's hand with a strong firm handshake. "Glad to help
you out. Let's go look at your team."
end part 27
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