[Vfw-times] MK story - Choices part 1
COkane8116 at aol.com
COkane8116 at aol.com
Tue Oct 15 23:32:38 CDT 2002
This story is something of a flashback. It takes place a few days after my
Counter strike story, which is 2 weeks after Winter assault.
By Christian O'Kane
The chapel was quiet. The pews so recently full of people were now empty.
A soft stillness filled the place that gave it a solemnity and warmth that
buoyed the soul. Only a solitary figure was in this place, enjoying and
needing the solitude it gave. The man wasn't seated in the pews, instead it
was kneeling in front of the altar. The tabard he was wearing over the armor
was dark blue and had a huge, gold Follower cross embroidered onto it. He
wore the tough and expensive plate mail armor of a nobleman but his belt and
sword were as plain as any peasant's tools.
Sir Edmund was tired, more tired then he had ever been before. An intense
weariness that weighed down upon him, slowing his movements and his thoughts.
The campaign north had been short, barely a week long but there had been an
intensity about it that had surprised him. But the marching and even the
fighting itself was the least of it. He had been through countless campaigns
before, ones lasting months and years. Each had gifted to him with scars both
physical and mental that would last with him till the day he died. Yet all of
that seemed to pale in his mind. His thoughts didn't fall upon the fighting
of less then a week ago. Instead his mind kept returning to those haunted
ruins and the ghosts in it.
The paladin was surprised, he'd thought himself alone. Looking around he
found a small boy of around ten years old standing close to him. The child
was dressed in the flowing robes of a Follower priest and had dirty blonde
hair. His brown eyes seemed somehow far older then the youthful body they
were a part of.
"I'm Hough whom the Great One has blessed with leading this house of
"My name is Sir Edmond Delacot. Protector of the innocent and defender of
the faithful and a Knight of the Order of the Protectors," he answered
"You're the paladin who helped Misha," the boy answered calmly and
The knight nodded in agreement. "I did little to help him, the fighting
was over by the time we reached them. There was some tough fighting though
and my people fought well."
The boy nodded. "I heard that many good people died."
"Too many," Edmund agreed. "What does it feel like to change?" the man asked
suddenly in a quiet voice.
Hough shook his head, "It is different for everyone. For some, it feels
like taking a warm bath. For others..." he will paused for a moment his
voice trailing off into painful silence. "It is very painful."
"Should I stay?"
The young looking priest shrugged and shook his head, "I don't know. It
is not an easy decision. If you delay in making it, it will be made for you
though. You're thinking of staying. Why?"
"Father . . " Edmund started to say and hesitated at a loss for words. "I
saw ghosts in the ruins."
"I'd heard that the army had gone through Haunted Woods but what does that
have to do with your staying and letting the curse take you?"
"I don't know," the paladin answered bluntly. "But I cannot just abandon
them. I HAVE to do something for them."
"Well, if you feel that to serve them best you need to stay at Metamor,
then you should. But if that is merely a convenience to you, then you should
carefully consider what you may be about to do."
The audience chamber was still being cleaned up. The furniture was torn
and battered. There were burn marks everywhere, and several ominous looking
dark stains. Misha, George, Finbar and Lord Bidwell slowly filed in as a hush
settled on the room. All four of them looked weary and exhausted, even the
Thomas turned from talking to his aid and watched them approach in
silence. The left side of Misha's face was covered in a bandage and he
carried his battle axe in a hand that dangled almost listlessly. The ferret
next to him walked with a noticeable limp in his right leg. The tall knight
didn't look so resplendent. The rearing leopard adorning his helmet had been
smashed and there was a large dent in the breast plate of his armor. Of his
bright red and white tabard there was no sign. Only George looked unaffected.
The jackal seemed unwounded and moved easily. The group stopped a few feet
from the Duke.
Misha lowered the head of his axe to the pavement. Then he wearily rested
his head against the butt for a moment before looking at the Duke.
"Lord Thomas," the fox said in a bone tired voice. "I report that the Keep
has been cleared and there are no lutins left alive in the valley."
The stallion sighed, relieved. "The cost?"
"Not completely sure, Sir," Lord Bidwell answered. "The lower town is in
complete ruins. The towns of Glen Avery, Mycransburg, Ellingham and Mallen
have been raided and almost destroyed but most of the people are safe. Lord
Barnhardt's castle, Loriod's fortress and the castle known as the Outpost all
withstood attack and held out."
"How many dead?"
"At least eight hundred, perhaps a thousand dead," Misha answered. "At
least twice that number wounded."
Thomas closed his eyes and shook his head. "Gods protect us."
"How many lutins?" Someone asked.
"We've counted at least three thousand dead in or around the Keep," Misha
"We've seen lots of dead lutins between here and the Dike," George added.
"There's no telling how many are lying dead under the snow. We won't know
till the snow melts. I doubt we'll ever have an accurate count."
"Could easily be another three or four thousand," the knight commented.
"This is a great victory. I've counted the standards of at least nine lutin
tribes. Plus another thousand killed at the ford."
"The cost was too high," Thomas announced.
"No it wasn't," Misha said, speaking loud and clearly for the first time.
There was a ring of determination and pride in his voice ins spite of the
weariness. "We've killed six to seven thousand Lutins. Eight years ago Nasoj
attacked with twenty five lutin tribes. This time he came with twelve. The
mages hold over the lutins has been broken permanently."
"But Nasoj is still alive," Thomas commented.
"His days are numbered," the knight said ominously.
End part 1
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