[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 
sound portended.

"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 
we checked."

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 
private chambers."

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 
you're okay."

"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," 
Raven answered.

"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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