[Vfw-times] MK Winter Assault part 89

COkane8116 at aol.com COkane8116 at aol.com
Wed Jan 23 02:47:39 CST 2002

Winds howled and snows blew fast and furious inside the magical winter storm. 
Outside, the ranks of Nasoj's army waited, most of them huddling around fires 
or inside tents. Although the brunt of the storm was centered on the Keep 
itself, the armies still had to deal with the extreme temperatures on the 
fringe of the thaumaturgical vortex.  Some of the mages had provided 
themselves and their personal attendants with spells to keep them warm, but 
most of the army was left to their own devices. Nasoj had little care for the 
comfort of his troops in his maniacal obsession to obliterate the Keep that 
continued to stand defiant against his plans.

One such group was huddled around their depraved master, who sat, fuming, on 
a three-legged campstool.  A single hand traced the scar that ran up and down 
his face as he listened to the report from his servant.

As were most of the others, the messenger was clad in dark blues and blacks, 
his face hidden from any possible observers.  The paranoid ninja often had 
strict rules about being seen outside of their shinobi clans. The group here 
was no exception.

"The mission is complete." the leader reported, "We managed to enter the 
castle and leave in the confusion without any leaving any witnesses but the 

"Good work, Itoshi." the aged mage said, praising his servant, "And what 
about the Inari?  You did track him here, did you not?"  That had been a bit 
of luck; he had been quite afraid that his resources would be split in taking 
revenge on the self-righteous beast that had dared to defy him. The memory of 
his insult brought back the pain, and instinctively a hand went to his lower 

Scars could still be felt after months of healing.  His sudden escape to 
Nasoj in the west had been seen, at first, as failure, and he had been nearly 
flogged to death like some kind of homeless cur.  Only the proof that his 
labors had been successful had kept him alive.

That had been a mistake, but one the Western mage would not realize until it 
was too late.  For now, the alliance between the two would remain.

"The Inari could not be found."  Itoshi reported flatly, bringing a frown to 
the wizard's face.  It quickly vanished however; the Inari would stay, he 
believed, if his intelligence was reliable.

"Very well." he said in a dismissive voice, waving one hand. 

   The assassin did not move, however. "Master..." he instead said, seeking 
leave to speak.

The sorcerer scowled at so brash a move.  "What is it?" he asked impatiently.

"I do not mean to trouble you further, but my men...."  Itoshi left off for a 
brief pause, "Some feel that the curse of this place may compromise their 

"Are you doubting me?" The mage asked directly, his voice raised with a 
scolding tone.  He should have Itoshi disembowel himself right now for such 
an implication.

"Never my lord." Itoshi said, "We have promised our lives to you in exchange 
for the ultimate destruction of our hated enemies, but..."

"As you said, your lives are mine." the mage said, "It is not your place to 
ask questions what I will do with them."  How dare they feel so bold. Still, 
he should put their fears to rest, "I would sooner let the edge of my blade 
tarnish than let your skills go to waste.  And when we return victorious to 
Yamato, I shall deal with your enemies.  Now go!"

As the ninja leader left, the old mage had to fight to keep a smile from his 
face.  He would deal with their enemies, just as he would deal with them.  
The two clans had no idea that he had set them up against each other, and 
once he was finished with them they would be allowed to tear each other to 
shreds, leaving no challengers to the power that rightfully belonged to him.

Letting out a puff of cold air, the mage rose from his seat and turned back 
towards his tent, which had better wards against the cold and storm than the 
outside camp.  His guards, all dressed in footmen's armor, closed ranks and 
followed him, setting guard just outside as the mage entered his temporary 

Laying himself down upon the magically heated tatami mat that was his
sleeping mattress, he rested his head on the wooden pillow.  As he drifted to 
sleep he told himself that the invasion wouldn't work.  Then they would 
regret shoving him off to the side.  Then he would show them he was more than 
just some contingency plan.

In his dreams, he saw the humbled Nasoj bowing before him as he ordered the 
execution to begin...


Everything was being buried in the night.  Gently eased into slumber under 
the soft embrace of a blanket snow.  There were those that desperately 
disturbed that slumber, fearful that they might be lulled into sleep them 
selves and spend all eternity under the snow

They all walked slowly through the snow through pine filled forests, making 
their way into the northlands, hidden by a veil of illusions  A female 
enchanter with a vendetta, a battle wizened berserker, a creature masking 
itself from the world, and a mysterious man in red, his long hair like the 

 Lutins here, Lutins there row after row as far as anyone could see. Bobbing 
up and down through the snow alongside the four.  Heading straight into the 
wind the former luxuries they enjoyed were now completely gone.  They cold 
hungry and shivering, but they were alive, that was their only luxury they 
could be thankful for.  Nasoj's armies have fallen once more

Crunching, panting, grumbling; the army of the four winds was unhappy.  
Forward, grumbling and scheming.  Mutiny and desertion were on many minds. 
Northward, walking struggling. White powder was dusted upon them all.

"Mother," mumbled the lady Eule, "Mother I'm sorry."

She walked a distance away from all, through the snow, northward.  Her speech 
falling into a flurry of incoherent mumbling.

"I'll finish this," she began repeating "I'll finish this, Raven I'll finish 

Kagnio, the man in red, watched from behind in mirth as Eules' speech 
continued descending into a realm that no human could comprehend.  Nasoj 
failed, thanks to his vote this final remaining force escaped behind a wall 
of illusions never to be seen instead of contradicting Nasoj's pathetic 
orders and backing up the other forces without order.  

The wizard would lose power because of this.  He'd lose respect lose power, 
he'd become desperate and dependent.  He'd end up giving the Winds and 
himself more and more freedom and power to go and do whatever they pleased; 
this was well calculated into Kagnio's plan.

He felt overjoyed at all this confusion and grief.  It benefited his plan, by 
blinding all those who could potentially become obstacles. The grief, pain, 
sorrow and anger all made a perfect distraction.

In the snow, in the distance, a stray Lutin awkwardly stumbled through the 
snow away from the rest of the forces belonging to the Four Winds.  

The white haired man smiled at the site.  Kagnio has always abhorred boredom 
and this was the perfect opportunity to enjoy himself for once.

Perfect he thought, completely perfect.  Slowly he brought up his hand and 
pointed towards the fleeing Lutin.  I'll use the magical spell Din's Thread 
he thought, fast silent and precise he won't even know what hit him.  He 
smiled wildly a gleam of gleam of shear joy visible in his eyes.  I'll aim 
for the heart, no too quick, the neck, oh yes the neck.  I'll shatter his 
spine immobilize him and make certain he doesn't talk as well, then he'll 
fall over into the snow and slowly bleed, he'll stain the snow a delightful 
crimson before freezing to death.  

The man in red chuckled to himself before whispering the incantation that 
would surely end a life.  Moments later a thin red streak slipped through the 
air piercing the wind, the snow, the darkness of the cold cruel night. A 
single last life was silenced that night, its earthly body broken and limp, 
halfway between life and death.  In the night surrounded by pines and slowly 
buried by snow, a lone Lutin cried out as his former comrades walked passed 
him, ignored him his garbled pleas.

 One man in red disappeared over the horizon, laughing in blissful joy.




   "Daddy, you're dead?" asked a small voice.

   The storyteller stopped in mid gesture and looked towards where the voice 
came from.

   A little skunk girl with eyes full of tears looked up at him.

   He bent down and picked up his daughter and ever so gently placed her in 
his lap. "Do I look dead?"

   "No," she answered. "But you said . . "

   "I'm not dead."

   She didn't seem to sure but she had stopped crying.

   The storyteller gently kissed his daughter on the muzzle, stopping her 
from completing her question. With a soft, tender touch her dried her tears.

   "Do I feel dead?"

   "No," she said sounding uncertain. "But if you're not dead why did you say 
you were dead?"

   "I didn't say it that, George did," the skunk explained. "He thought I was 


   A long moment of silence followed as the girl just stared at him.

   "What's wrong now?"

   "How did you live after being blown up?" she asked.

   He again kissed his daughter. "I'll explain. In due time."

   "When Papa?"


   "How soon?"

   He stared at his daughter for a moment before he started to speak.


   Misha could smell the hospital long before he reached it. It was the smell 
blood, fear, sweat and death all rolled into a single scent that made the fox 
shiver. But if the smell was bad, the sounds were worse.

   At first it was a faint murmur just barely above a whisper that tickled at 
the edge of recognition. But it quickly grew louder and stronger and all too 
soon he recognised the groans and crying of the wounded and dying. That sound 
made him shiver.

He arrived at the entrance to the hospital a lot faster then he had wanted. 
He could easily picture in his mind the scene that awaited him on the far 
side of the door he now stood in front of. He could imagine the wounded and 
dying filling all corners of the place. The weeping and the crying, and the 

   Taking a deep breath he opened the door and stepped into hell. Reality was 
worse then his imagination. Far worse.

 What had been  a small, warm and friendly place was now a place the size of 
Long Hall that echoed to the moans and cries of the wounded. o matter which 
way his head turned he saw people in pain. Stepping gingerly over a woman 
with both legs missing below the knees and sidestepping around another whose 
whole chest was bandaged. Catching sight a small child whose head was 
bandaged he deliberately looked away but in his mind he still saw the little 
boy laying on a blanket. He sincerely wished that it was an adult who had 
been cursed with childhood and not a real child. Somehow the his mind just 
refused to believe a child could survive such would. Thinking it was an adult 
made it easer to bear. Slightly easier.

   Misha was spared any further images when Coe walked up to him. The raccoon 
looked exhausted and haggard. Like he hadn't slept in days, which was 
probably right. The weary healer turned around and motioned for the fox to 

   He had to step carefully to catch up to the slow moving Coe. Placing each 
paw step carefully to avoid stepping on someone. He tried to concentrate on 
something other then the people around him. "When and where was he found?"

   "The arriving relief found him laying in a snow drift more dead then 
alive," came the slow, tired answer. "We didn't know who he was until Ralls 
came to help and recognized him."

   "How did he survive? How did he survive that explosion and falling two 

   The raccoon stopped at a door. "The snow. He landed in a deep snow bank."

   Misha nodded. "It was deep enough to cushion the fall and wetness put out 
the flames."

   Coe turned to door knob and opened the door a crack but did not enter.

   As the raccoon turned to go Misha stopped him. "If I can help you in any 
way, feel free to ask."

   "Thank you," he said and slowly, mechanically began to move among the 
wounded. So many wounded.

   The door swung open fully at the merest touch of Misha's hand moving 
silently on well oiled hinges. It revealed a room a small room whose walls 
were painted a warm shade of blue. A lamp set on a table cast a soft glow 
over the bed next to it. Resting in the bed was a small, figure. Only the 
head and shoulders of the figure was visible, the rest was by a blanket. He 
didn't look to bad at first the only sign of injury was a patch over one eye. 
It was almost like the skunk morph was asleep.

   Seated in a chair next to him was a young girl. She had hair as silver as 
the finest metal, eyes as gray as the keeps stone walls. She was wearing a 
white diaphanous dress that hung about her like a cloud. She didn't seem to 
notice Misha's arrival but just kept holding his hand and looking at his 
face. On her face was a mix of pain, concern, and a weariness that seemed to 
extend through the ages itself.

   Carefully Misha padded over to the bed and looked at the figure closely. 
He wasn't sure what to do or say. "I don't know if you know but you saved a 
lot of lives Muri."

   "Will he live?" He asked bluntly. In other times he would have bowed and 
been in awe but now he was just too tired.

  "He will," Kyia answered softly. "Though it will take time for him to heal 
in body and spirit.." She closed her eyes and lowered her head. "He has lost 
the one that he loved. That is not a pain that is swift to mend."

   The nymph looked down at Muri, stroking the fur around his ears gently. 
"He is still so young," she said sadly. "Too young to face such pain."

   "We've all been hurt. Time heals all wounds."

   Kyia looked up at him, eyes filled with wisdom and pain that belied her 
childlike body.  "No, it doesn't," she said soberly. "But with time we learn 
to hide the scars."

   Misha rested his hand gently on the small woman's shoulder. "Remember that 
the Great One is with you both," Misha prayed.

   She looked at him with eyes that seemed to be older then eternity. He 
wondered how many friends she had seen die over the countless generations. 
How much death had she witnessed?

   She gave a slight smile and turned back to Muri.

   Padding softly Misha backed out of the room. As he closed the door his 
last sight was of Kyia still holding Muri's hand. Both we're as still as some 
great painting.


   It took Misha two hours to find her. He made 2 complete circuits of Long 
House, the Chapel and even the Lightbringer temple. Finally he found her and 
Will standing picking through the ruins of her fathers house.

   Without warning he wrapped his arms around her and kissed her. Lifting 
completely off the ground in the process. "I love you Caroline."

   She cooed with delight and eagerly returned the kiss. He hugged her even 

  It was a long time before he let go.

End part 89
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