Into the Forest is the third chapter in Fate.
- Brenton Eld, the Sun Child, played by User:Metroidhunter32
- Tallulah Windrift, the Sky Child, played by User:Lisa URAQT
- Enki Harmonson, the Earth Child, played by User:Ccbermanzzpedia
- Princess Adelaide
This section is continued directly from the roleplaying on Downfall.
(continued from Downfall)
Tallulah finds the princess standing motionless, a blank, glassy-eyed expression frozen on her face, muttering something under her breath.
- Tallulah: Princess! Are you--
Suddenly, a blinding flash of light seems to shoot from Princess Adelaide's necklace, and a ray of light wraps itself around Tallulah, while another shoots into the tower. Brenton, Tallulah, and Adelaide find them instantly in a whirlwind of light, color, sound, fire, screams, faces, speed.... and then crash-land in a clearing in a forest, hard.
- Brenton:What the? What did you do!? Some sort of black magic?
- Princess Adelaide: ...I don't know. A sorceress visited me in a dream and taught me how to do it. Thank the stars it worked. I've never tried that before. You must see that this was a very urgent circumstance. (she turns away from Brenton and Tallulah to gaze at the castle, with only its highest spires visible above the treetops, then hangs her head.) As much as I hate to say this... my father is dead. My mother may go with him. Catalona has fallen.
- Brenton:May it rest on the moon. The world would be a better place if it wern't for who fell it.
- Princess Adelaide: (turning to glare at Brenton) You wouldn't happen to be insulting the kingdom of my late father, would you?!
- Brenton:(holding his head high) I am. It brought me nothing but pain and the death of everyone I ever cared for. People who used to be its heroes became its victams.
- Princess Adelaide: Look, kid, I got you out of the company of those godforsaken Empusas, and I can send you back if I wanted to. (she raises her hand to grip her necklace, but finds nothing there.)
- Brenton: Move faster next time, child of tyrants. (he twirls Adelaide's necklace on his finger.)
- Princess Adelaide: What?! You little brat, give me back my necklace!
- Tallulah: Princess...
- Princess Adelaide: What, Tallulah? Are you siding with this theif? (Tallulah gives her a confused look.) Don't think I don't know who you are, Tallulah. My father, my mother, and I are good friends with the Regimiss's families.
- Tallulah: I'm very honored that you remember my name, your highness. (she steps closer to Adelaide and whispers in her ear.) But really, Brenton's gonna hurt you if you try to fight him. I would advise against making him mad.
- Brenton:(overhearing anyways) I have no grudge against you princess, only your father. And when I think that you bear me no ill will I will give you back your necklace. Until then...
He makes a large gesture with the hand holding the necklace. When it is complete it is gone
- Brenton: Street magic. Much more reliable stuff.
- Princess Adelaide: Well, Mister Street Magician, maybe the thought hasn't occured to you that I was going to use that necklace to make ourselves invisible so the Empusas won't find us, maybe see if I can conjure up some weapons and other useful stuff... seing a pattern here? Stuff that will help you. That will help all of us. But it doesn't matter, you've got my necklace, so you can lead us. Got any more amazingly counterproductive ideas? (she raises her eyebrows at Brenton and gives him a look of utter sarcasm.)
- Brenton:(smiling) Alright. Try and teleport me to that room again, and I'll turn against you in flash. And since you so kindly just told me all the stuff your necklece can do, I'm sure they'd let me.
pulls necklece out of pocket and throws it to her.
- Princess Adelaide: (catches the necklace) I have no intention of sending you back to the castle, as long as you cooperate. (undos the clasp on the necklace and puts it on) As for the invisibility spell, I have an idea, but I don't know it completely by heart. (pulls a thick book out of her rucksack and begins flipping through the pages. She finds a page and studies it for a few moments.) Brenton, Tallulah, come here. You guys have to hold my hands as I do the spell or only I will become invisible.
- Brenton:(sighs) If I must.
Both Brenton and Tallulah put their hands in the Princess's. Brenton only lightly. Princess Adelaide, with Brenton and Tallulah's hands in both of hers, takes a deep breath. Her face drains of all traces of thoughts and emotion, and she begins whispering the incantation. She comes out of her trance, and through all their eyes, the world seems shuddery and shivery and slightly out of focus.
- Tallulah: Princess, you said it would make us invisible, but it seems like it just made the world hard to see!
- Princess Adelaide:: It's just a side effect of the spell. Why people don't use this spell all the time. Your eyes are invisible too, remember? They don't work right this way. The only reason I can see you and you can see me-- well, a blurry outline anyway-- is because the spell was put on all three of us at the same time. The spell does not make itself invisible to its sister.
- Brenton:(examining his hand) Interesting. What would you do if you had to make more then two people invisible at once?
- Princess Adelaide: Form a chain. Everyone would have to stand in a circle and hold hands. It wouldn't be as effective for those not directly holding my hands, but it would still work. Those with an indirect connection would be just barely visible.
- Brenton: Numbers don't drag you down?
- Princess Adelaide: Well, doing just myself is easiest; doing others is harder. The biggest difference is whether I'm doing just myself or others. It only gradually gets more difficult with the addition of more people. The spell isn't tiring really, I just have to sink deep into concentration. It's sort of like going to sleep, but you have to keep your mind alert at the same time. I've heard it being compared to lucid dreaming.
- Brenton: Anyways, we need to go. Any ideas princess?
- Princess Adelaide: My mother... when she gave me the necklace and taught me how to concentrate like I described to you... she told me that the necklace was connected to a power that tells the truth. It might be able to give us some insight on where to go. (she grasps the necklace's charm in her fist and covers the fist with her other hand, eyes closed, with a hopeful expression on her face. The hopeful expression dissolves into nothing, and she whispers unaudibly, so only herself can hear, the cryptic words of the truth that Queen Helen Toinette spoke of.) If... you... village... one... helpful. (she resurfaces from her trance, then turns in the opposide direction from the castle.) I think there's someone from a village here that might help us. In this direction, I think.
- Brenton:How far?
- Princess Adelaide: It didn't say. But... I think that it said the person was just from the village. He might not be in the village right now.
- Brenton:Then we should get going. (thinks) Could that teleportation be traced?
- Princess Adelaide: Oooh, I hadn't thought about that. All the more reason to get going, I guess.
Brenton, Tallulah, and the princess set off in search of whoever it was the necklace hinted at. On their way, they pass a mysterious tree with leaves of gold.
- Tallulah: (stopping to stare at the tree) Even in Silverwing, far away from the big city, I have never seen a tree like that.
- Brenton:One of the people I grew up with traveled all over Catalona and other lands as well. He never mentioned anything resembling something like this.
- Princess Adelaide: This is a very interesting tree here. Something tells me this might be a landmark or rendezvous point for someone. We might not want to stay by this long, for even though we are undetectable by eye, we are even more conspicuous by ear, seeing as there is nothing that can be seen speaking.
- Brenton:Yeah, we'd best keep moving anyways. Could be a long way to go.
They continue walking, Brenton casually tucking three leaves into his pocket. Tallulah eyes him suspiciously, but stays silent. Shortly after they leave, a young boy in shredded clothing comes running up to the tree. Tallulah's eyes widen as she looks at Brenton and Princess Adelaide, and she beckons them to follow her away from the tree and the mysterious boy.
- Tallulah: (covering her mouth so her voice won't carry) What do we do, stay invisible or approach him?
- Princess Adelaide: (following Tallulah's example and covering her own mouth as well) He looks like he may be from the village... we might want to talk to him to see if he can help us. And if he proves to be hostile... it's three against one. I doubt he could hurt us. Here, take my hands again.
The princess hold out her hands,and the spell goes seemingly identical to the one before; the princess slipping into her trance and whispering her spell. When she opens her eyes, the world is clear and the three aquaintances are solid and visible to any who should look at them. Princess Adelaide then leads them back to the tree, hands out, palms up, and making no attempt to quiet the sound of her footsteps so as not to scare the boy. At the sound of them coming, the boy looks up.
- Enki:Thank god, other people instead of those vile wolves. Do you know the way to a nearby vilage?
- Princess Adelaide: We were going to ask you the same thing. We're not from around here, see. A little... transportation accident brought us here. Say... I've never seen a tree like that before. Have you?
- Enki:No, but it was my job to find it. Do you have any water, my water flask met with an... um accident
Sheepishly he holds up a waterflash that was nearly torn in half. The teeth marks can be seen even from that distance.
- Princess Adelaide: Here, let me check my rucksack... (she looks in her bag, and grimaces, not only for the boy, but for herself, when she sees that there is no water.) No, I only have an empty container... maybe there is a lake somewhere where I can fill it up.
- Enki:(sighs) Now, the only stream in the area is foul from a kill made upstream. It will be days before it's safe.
- Brenton:Here(tosses Enki a half full flask of water) Basic rule of survival. Always carry what you need. What happened to yours anyways.
- Enki:Had to shove it between a wolfs teeth while I kicked it off. Didn't think about lacking the water after.
- Brenton:(frowning) Didn't you have a weapon of some sort?
- Enki:No, just a skinning knife for small game. Besides (grimaces) I didn't want that thing's blood all over me.
- Brenton:Where'd you grow up, a palace? I've had much worse things then some blood and gristle all over me.
- Enki:(angry) As a matter of fact I grew up in a smithy. And just because I don't like rolling around in manure doesn't make me inferior to you!
Brenton's hand slips under his cloak. Tallulah steps in front of him. Brenton quickly regains his compusure and removes his hand
- Tallulah: Please excuse my friend. He can be a little... abrasive sometimes.
- Enki:Fine (throws flask back to Brenton without having taken a drink) thanks for the water.
Enki storms off back into the forest
- Tallulah: Wait!
Tallulah shoots a dirty look at Brenton, then runs after the boy. Brenton rolls his eyes, starts forward, stops, grabs two more leaves and then leisurely follows Tallulah. In her haste to catch up to the boy, she hikes up her skirt a little and her face becomes scratched from tree branches. She catches sight of him again in the distance.
- Tallulah: Hey, wait! Come back!
All of a sudden there is a growling sond and four long, lithe wolves step out from the woods in front of Enki.
- Enki:Ah, crap. Not again.
- Tallulah: (to herself) why am I always here when someone's getting attacked?
Tallulah looks around indecisively, then seems to get an idea. She quietly slips through the trees, trying not to make any noise, and stops when she reaches a point a short distance away from the boy and the wolves. She throws back her head and howls. She then runs as hurredly and as quietly as she can, diagonally between where the boy is and where where the mysterious golden tree is planted. All four wolves come straight to the tree, tracking her by her scent. From that distance Tallulah can see their ribs etched aginst their sides.
- Brenton:(out of nowhere)Silly girl.
All of a sudden, Brenton drops out of the overhanging trees, sword held in both hands. One of the wolves drops to the ground, headless as he quickly dances out of the center of the pack, and stops with his back to a tree.
- Brenton:I figured you'd be happier if I didn't wait 5 more minutes to do that.
- Tallulah: I don't know how you did that, but thanks. Stupid me, I thought they'd run to where I howled. I didn't think about them smelling me.
- Brenton:Well we aren't out of the woods yet. 3 more to go.
As they speak the 3 remaining wolves close in a tight circle around Brenton. Swinging the sword around he strikes one directly in the spine. However without the added strengh of the fall the blade does not clove through, but sticks tight. Instead of trying to pull it free he drops it and pulls his knife out of its sheath. Throwing it, he strikes another wolf right between the eyes. However the last one leaps through the air to attack Brenton. But instead of standing there he flips up the tree, pulls another longer knife from a shoulder sheath and quickly hacks through a thin branch. Weilding the makeshift staff he quickly cracks the wolf on the head with the blunt end, knocking it unconscious.
- Brenton:Now we're out of the woods.
- Tallulah: Thanks. Those wolves probably would have eaten me. (she bites her lip) I'd better learn how to defend myself sometime so you don't have to keep saving me.
- Brenton: I could teach you some if you like, although it takes years to master it. Would you like to learn the throwing knife, the combat knife, the sword, or the bo?
- Tallulah: Hmmm... I'll try the bo.
- Brenton: Ok, we'll get started when we stop for the night. Don't have time to do it now. Wait, where is the princess?
- Tallulah: (looks around confusedly.) She was here a second ago...
Out of nowhere, there comes a muffled scream and a thump.
- Tallulah: Princess?
A short distance away from the tree, a soft, pained groaning can be heard. They can just barely hear labored breathing breaking up the groaning sound. Brenton looks up and sees the broken braches.
- Brenton:I do belive she quietly climbed a tree while I was fighting the wolves. And then I'd wager she found out that it is hard to climb in a dress that fancy. Drop the spell and I'll see if you need any wounds bandaged.
The groaning continues. After several long moments, the princess is still invisible and still groaning. Suddenly, the low, pained sound erupts into gasping and coughing. Tallulah gives Brenton a worried look. Soon the couging quiets, and the princess appears, lying on the ground, obviously hurt. A bloodstain is slowly seeping through the bodice of her dress.
- Tallulah: Princess! What happened to you?
- Princess Adelaide: (she speaks slowly, and with great effort.) After you left... I doubted... any harm... would come to you... and I felt like this tree... was trying to... speak to me. Not with words... but with a feeling... I don't know how to describe it.... It seemed it wanted me... to come closer... higher... away from the noise below... so I made myself invisible so no one would see me... and climed to the top and sat on a branch.... But when the wind started blowing... the tree swayed and I fell through the branches. It knocked the wind out of me... and I couldn't breathe.
As she spoke Brenton had run forward, drawn his large knife, and slit open the bodice of her dress, leaving her only her chemise for modesty. Pulling the bloodsoaked fabric back he drew in a quick breath through clenched teeth. Tallulah looks over and nearly faints. A branch had punched a hole clean through the princess's shoulder, about a inch wide at its thinnest and three at the widest. Brenton slowly shakes his head.
- Brenton:I can bandage this but I can guarantee that it will get infected. And it will bleed no matter how tight a wrapping I put on. She'll be dead in two days if we don't get her to a doctor.
Ripping a stretch of cloth from the bottom of his cloak Brenton begins to bandage her, stuffing a small ball of the rough material into the wound.
- Brenton:Where's wolf boy, we'll need help to carry her.
- Tallulah: You stay here and help the princess. I'll go look for him. (she runs into the forest, looking around for the boy.) Hey! Boy, are you in here?
- Enki: Up here.
Tallulah looks up and sees Enki holding tight to a tree branch.
- Enki:Have the wolves left yet? I'm assuming by the fact that your friends aren't with you now that they're making a meal for those vile beats. I'm sorry but those wolves are berzerk creatures. You're lucky that you got away.
- Tallulah: (nervously) No, no, they haven't been eaten, but she's hurt! The princess, she fell and she's hurt! And her shoulder... oh, it's horrible, horrible! And please, we need you to help us, we can't carry her by ourselves and we don't know our way around the forest and if we can't get her to a doctor soon, she'll surely die! (As she had spoken, she had risen into hysterics. She begins hyperventilating slightly.)
- Enki:What! What happened to the wolves? (shimies down the tree.)
- Tallulah: The wolves are dead. I howled and ran away to get them away from you, but then they came after me instead. Brenton came and killed them so I wouldn't get eaten, and then we went back to that tree and found the princess hurt and bloody. Please, can you help us get her to somewhere where she can see a doctor?
- Enki:That street rat killed those demons!? And anyways I told you, I really have no idea where we are, the best we could do is pick a direction and run in it.
- Tallulah: I guess you're right. Any direction that may or may not take her closer to some help for her injury sounds like a good direction to me. But still, will you help us carry her?
There is the sound of howling off in the distance.
- Enki: (pales) Yeah, let's go.
Tallulah and Enki walk back to the golden tree. Enki grows even paler at the sight of Princess Adelaide.
- Tallulah: (quietly, to Brenton) How's the princess?
- Brenton: Bettter. At some point she fainted which made it easier to tie a tight bandage. She's still loosing a lot of blood though. I know of only 2 herbs that could staunch the bleeding enough, and one is poisen in large quanities and difficult to get in small. The other is yarrow which grows in evergreen forests, however we have found ourselves in a decidious. A doctor and rest might save her. There is one other treatment but I'd perfer to save it as a last resort. She'd find herself...unhappy if we did it and then a better course was found.
- Tallulah: (pales) What's the last treatment?
- Brenton: I have a small glob of tar in my pack. If it gets infected and there is no help in sight I will chop off her arm and use the tar to seal it. And before you ask, no I can't use the tar for this wound, to do so would cut off all circulation to her arm and kill it.
- Tallulah: Oh, gosh... (she almost faints, staggers, catches herself, blinks, and regains her composure.) I would say let's try to get her to a doctor, and only use... the last treatment if absolutely necessary. (she gestures toward Enki and opens her mouth as if to say something, then closes it.) I don't think I caught your name yet.
- Enki: Enki's my name. And I don't believe I've caught either of yours either.
- Tallulah: Tallulah Windrift. (out of force of habit she bends her knees in a shallow curtsy.) And my acquaintances Brenton and Princess Adelaide. (turning to Brenton) As I was about to say before, Enki is kindly helping us carry Princess Adelaide to the nearest village so we can get her to a doctor.
- Brenton:Then we'll need to work fast. There's only about 2 hours of daylight left, and we still need to make a litter to carry her. Just holding her between us would do more harm then good. Try and find fallen branches that are still flexible and have some leaves on them. We'll use the sword and the bo as handles.
Brenton, Tallulah, and Enki set to work gathering branches, checking on the princess from time to time. Eventually, their pile of branches grows to a number that Brenton deems is large enough.
- Tallulah: I don't know much about building or woodwork, so I'll leave the technical stuff to you two, and help out with whatever you tell me to do.
- Brenton: It's easy. We just neeed to loop a blanket in between the two handles and fill it with the branches for stability. We could make a better one but not if we wanted to cover ground tonight. As usual I have a blanket in my pack.
Tallulah and Enki nod, and after a while, they finish the litter.
- Tallulah: Now we just need to get the princess on here. And once we do, which way are we going to go?
Off to the west there is the sound of wolves howling.
- Enki:I recomend we go east.
- Tallulah: No direction is worse than another, so east should work.
Tallulah, Brenton, and Enki careflully roll the unconscious princess onto the litter, and shift it so they can carry it between themselves.
- Tallulah: I wonder if she'll wake up while we're carrying her?
- Brenton: She won't. Notice the juice around her mouth? I fed her some berries that act as a powerfull painkiller. I overdosed her a bit so she'll sleep for a couple days.
- Tallulah: Couldn't that hurt her?
- Brenton:If I gave her to much it would kill her. But as it is it will just be a hangover for the ages. I know the doses pretty well.
- Tallulah: Alright, that's good.
They walk in silence until the sky begins to grow dark.
- Tallulah: Do you think we should make camp soon?
- Brenton: Yeah. If we wait to much longer it will be to dark to set stuff up right. So are you ready for your first weapon lesson?
- Tallulah: Absolutely.
They find a clearing, and while Enki begins making camp, Tallulah and Brenton find an open space for the lesson.
- Brenton: All right, you said you would like to train with the bo? (he tosses her the staff he'd cut from the tree earlier) All right, I'll use the sword. I'll keep it sheathed so as not to hurt you.
- Tallulah: Mind you, I have absolutely no experience with weapons besides archery. I don't even really know how to hold this.
- Brenton: Alright. Hands in the middle of the branch. Right side up and forword, left side down and back. Attack me whenever you think you are ready.
Tallulah nods, squinting at the branch and shifting her hands to the middle of the bo, right over left. She glances quickly at Brenton, then back at the bo, then raises it over her head and slashes diagonally at Brenton. Brenton however takes a quick step to the side, dodging the attack and gives her a quick rap on the knee with the edge of the sword.
- Brenton: Too obvious. Faster, shorter strokes. Any enemy will see an attack like that coming right away.
- Tallulah: Ah, that makes sense. (She takes a step back and adjusts her grip on the bo. She rushes forward and makes a short, quick slash at Brenton who takes one step to the side so the bo misses)
- Brenton:Good. Now, string them together. One strike is still easy to dodge.
- Tallulah: Okay. (Again she steps back, tightening her grip on the bo, and rushes forward. This time she makes a short diagonal slash from right to left, then another from left to right, and ending with a vertical slash. Brenton steps to the left for the first, ducks for the second, but has to use his still sheathed sword to block the third.)
- Brenton:Good, you learn fast. Now let's see how you do when I start to attack.
Brenton thrusts up on his sword, throwing the bo off and sends it whistling twords Tallulah's knees. Tallulah jumps backward to dodge, leaning forward to keep her balance, and uses the motion for another vertical strike. Brenton grabs the bo and yanks Tallulah to the ground. When she rolls over to pull herself up she finds the tip of the sword at ther throat.
- Brenton: Never attack while leaning forword or back. You'll kill a bad opponent, but just make yourself vulnerable for a good one. I get the feeling we'll be facing more of the latter.
- Tallulah: Got it. (she starts to nod, but as she looks cross-eyed at the sword at her throat, she realizes nodding wouldn't be very smart.)
- Brenton: Other then that you did good. You appear to be a natural. We'll have to stop for now, as the sun is setting and if we fought in the dark I'd have a huge advantage. We'll get to dark combat after you've mastered day.
- Tallulah: Alright, let's see how Enki and the princess are doing back at camp.
Tallulah stands up, brushes the dirt off her dress, and walks with Brenton back to camp where Enki has made a fire and Princess Adelaide is still sleeping.
- Enki:For having just done combat training you don't look very beat up.
- Brenton: She's still learing the basics. I'll beat her up tommorow. How's the princess?
- Enki:I don't know. As deep as you drugged her she could be in immesurable agony and we wouldn't know.
- Brenton:Agony would be good. Lack of pain means that part of the body just shut down. And there was a purpose to the overdose beyond keeping her asleep. It slowed her heart beat down so she doesn't bleed out as fast.
- Tallulah: (as Brenton and Enki speak, she is rummaging through her rucksack.) Looks like I had the foresight to pack a blanket. However, I had been planning to be halfway to Silverwing by now, rather than being in the middle of nowhere, my best guess saying that I might be in Aarden. (she laughs softly) Funny what Fate decides to do to your life, isn't it?
- Brenton: Odd yes. Funny, never. and fate can always be manipulated in the smallest ways in order to change the big.
- Tallulah: Like you following me into the forest eventually saved me from getting eaten by those wolves?
- Brenton: (chuckles) no that was a case where Fate won. I was actually just going to drop down on Enki and scare the crap out of him. (looks over at the princess) I probally should change her dressing.
Brenton tears a strip out of a blanket and peels away the strip on the princess's shoulder and pales abruptly
- Brenton: Oh, Fate no. It shouldn't be able to set in that fast. No, no, no! Moon! There must have been something on the branch.
- Tallulah: (alarmed) What is it?
- Brenton: look
Tallulah looks over Brenton's shoulder and nearly vomits. The princesses's shoulder is massivly inflamed and red. But the most disturbing thing were the thick red lines snaking between the wound and her chest.
- Brenton: She has blood poisening. When it was just the wound I guessed she had two or three days to live. From a infection that close to the heart I now guess about eight hours without a miricle. Or an...emergency intervention.
- Tallulah: Goodness, no, not the tar. Can't we just... travel at night, or something? You and Enki can carry her and I'll light the way with a flaming branch or something.
- Brenton: No not the tar. It's left her shoulder, it's in her torso now. The tar would do nothing. The emergency intervention is another sort of deadly itself. Wait. (he thrusts the princesses book of spells at Tallulah) I can't read, tell me if there is a spell in there to cure infection.
- Tallulah: (she edges closer to the fire so see the book more clearly.) Hmm... (she flips to the back of the book, scans the page for a few seconds, then seems to find something. She turns to the middle of the book and flips through the pages, and stops at one.) Uhhhh... this is complete gibberish... but I guess if the princess trusts the book, it might work... It says here at the top, "To cure impure blood." Should I try it?
- Brenton: Do it. It's preferable to the alternitive cure if I could even find it.
- Tallulah: Alright, let me see if I can trance myself like the princess always does...
Tallulah reads the spell from the book several more times until she is sure she has memorized it, then walks over to where the princess still lies unconscious and takes her hand. She breathes deeply and lets her eyelids close. After several moments, she begins to whisper the spell, very softly, so that Brenton and Enki have to strain to hear.
- Tallulah: Fracniv morcascise marihimi patox critom umburn torsarn prehendear curasanc salvivi dynamo spirutan...
Red sparks explode from Tallulah's hand for the briefest instant, leaping from Tallulah's hand to the princess's. Instantly afterward, Tallulah's eyes fly open and she lets out a short, startled cry. She falls backwards slowly, and lies as peacefully as she had been sitting before, eyes closed, breathing even.
- Brenton: What was that?
- Tallulah: Heh... I'm... sleepy...
Brenton walks up and examines the princess.
- Brenton:Cured the blood poisening but not the rest of the infection. She's got a couple more days.
He pulls out his large knife and whips it across Tallulah's nose, drawing a line of blood. he then proceeds to slap her repeatedly with the flat of the blade.
- Brenton:Still sleepy?
- Tallulah: (she lets out a bloodcurdling scream) No- you- you- who are you?! (she crawls backwards, staring wide-eyed at Brenton. Tallulah then scrambles to her feet and sprints blindy into the forest. She throws a look over her shoulder, then stumbles on a root and falls. Her head slams on the ground and she is knocked out cold.)
When Tallulah wakes up she is tied and gagged lying next to a fire in a different spot then before.
- Enki:Hey Brenton, I think she's awake.
Brenton walks over and pulls out the gag.
- Brenton:Back in your own mind yet girl?
- Tallulah: (she grunts and struggles against the ropes that tie her.) What are you talking about? Lemme go, you brats!
- Enki:Did she just call us brats?
- Brenton:Yes, ignoring the fact that I'm 16 and you're 15. (at Tallulah) You can give that up, I'd trust those knots to hold an angry gorrila.
- Tallulah: (infuriated) Are you calling me an angry gorrilla?!? You stupid little brats, if you don't let me go, I'll... (she begins yelling unintelligibly, at a loss for words from her anger.)
- Enki:(to Brenton) It would appear she has lost her memory along with her sense.
- Brenton: Allright Tallulah, 2 things. First saying the ropes would hold a gorrila is not the same as saying they are holding a gorrila, although you are acting like one. 2nd, what is the last thing you remember?
- Tallulah: (she squints at Brenton, pouting, trying to decide whether to cooperate or not. After making another attempt to break free, but finding the knots hold tight, she shifts her gaze to the ground, trying to remember.) You attacking me. And before that... sleep. But-- but-- why does it matter? Why do you care? And-- and how the moon do you know my name??
- Enki: (at Brenton) She doesn't remember anything by the looks of it. What should we do?
- Brenton:Well normally I'd just carry her around until she remebers but something tells me that would take too long. (smiles) I've got an idea
He turns to face Tallulah.
- 'Brenton:Do you remember Ben?
- Tallulah: (her face pales to dead white. Suddenly, she is sucked into a violent flashback, brokenhearted memories swirling through her mind. She stares at Brenton incredulously, and her anger disappears completely.) ...Yes... I... (she stares at the ground, and a single tear slips down her cheek.)
- Brenton:I though so. You must care for anyone whose name you say that much in your sleep. Do you remember me now?
- Tallulah: Your face almost looks familiar... (she blinks the tears from her eyes, biting her lip in concentration. She brings her hand up to her nose, and remembers the action that brought the blood on it. A memory is in the back of her mind, and she struggles to recall it... she was on the ground, paralyzed, much the same as she is now... and the same person that cut her nose had a knife pointed at her... suddenly, it all comes flooding back.) Brenton...?
- Brenton:There we go. Remember Enki here and the princess yet?
- Tallulah: I think so... yeah, I do. (she hangs her head.) I... I'm sorry, I was acting completely out of line. If you untie me I promise I won't go charging off into the forest again.
- Brenton:Yeah I judge you to be back in your right mind.
He walks around behind Tallulah and slashes through the rope with the knife. Tallulah can see that part of the reason the knots wouldn't give is Brenton had soaked them in sap that hardened, tightening the knots. Tallulah stands up, sways, then sits down again.
- Tallulah: Gahh, still dizzy. But I swear I'm sane. How long was I unconscious, anyway?
- Enki: Three days.
- Tallulah: (she gapes at Enki) Are you serious? I thought I was only out for a few hours!
- Brenton:Well to be fair, you were awake a dozen times, the most recent of which being a few hours ago. This was just the first time you were coherent enough to use words.
- Tallulah: I can't remember any of that at all. (she bites her lip) When I was awake, I didn't do anything, like... bad, or anything, did I?
- Enki:No, just scream incoherently and get hit on the head with Brenton's knife allot.
- Tallulah: Stupid spell. Speaking of which, how's the princess?
- Brenton:Healing. We managed to get her to a healer who treated her with a local herb I didn't know to stop the bleeding. unfortuantly when I tried to pay him with some leaves from that tree he ran us out of town. Litereally, there was a mob and everything.
- Tallulah: What? That doesn't make sense. I'd understand if they'd just rejected the leaves and demanded gold coins, but running you out of town? That seems like a bit much.
- Enki:Well seeing as Brenton-
- Brenton:How was I supposed to know!
- Enki:How many trees with gold for leaves do you see that arn't sacred?
- Tallulah: (she sighs and runs her fingers through her hair, only to find her hand covered in blood.) Do you think we could find a lake or something somewhere around here so I can clean myself up a bit? Besides, I think I remember the princess saying something about having an empty canteen that she wanted to fill.
- Enki:There's a stream about 200 feet through those trees. Are you well enough to walk?
- Tallulah: (she stands up unsteadily, then nods.) Yeah, I think so. But I doubt I'm strong enough right now to help carry the princess. Can you two carry her?
- Brenton:Yeah, but we won't leave until it's light out. Sun just set an hour ago.
- Tallulah: Oh, I guess I'm still a little disorientated. I guess we'd better get some sleep, huh?
- Brenton:Yeah, that's probally the best thing, baring you feeling up to another round of combat practice.
- Tallulah: I'm not too dizzy to practice. Besides, what if the wolves come in the morning? You never know...
- Brenton:Well there arn't many wolves left likely to attack. Empusas are a possibility though. Allright, let's head to a clearing over there.
They walk over and Brenton throws a staff at Tallulah again. Tallulah notices that the last 6 inches of each end is smeared with red berry juice. She eyes one end suspisciously.
- Tallulah: What, did you use this to grind up berries to drug the princess?
- Brenton:No, this is a second stage of your training. Your goal is not to let the red ends touch you, but do anything you can to make them touch me.
- Tallulah: Ah, interesting twist.
Tallulah dashes forward and makes two diagonal slashes and a thrust at Brenton. Brenton blocks the first with the sword (sheated as always) and vaults over the second, setting him out of the way for the thrust. He then cracks the sword against the back of Tallulah's knees, knocking her to the ground.
- Tallulah: ...You're good.
Tallulah stands up, brushes herself off (grimacing at the thought of what her mother would have to say about the state of her dress) and decides to try a different technique. She begins to slowly circle around Brenton and feints a few attacks at him. Soon she changes direction abruptly to attack Brenton from behind with first a horizontal, then a vertical slash. Brenton ducks the first and Tallulah grins as she swings the second for he doesn't have enough time to dodge. Her grin fails when she sees Brenton lying on the ground, holding the end of the staff between his feet. An inch below the red.
- Brenton:Improvisation good. You're a natural. (he then proceeds to stab Tallulah in the belly winding her and making her stagger back.)
- Tallulah: (she leans on the bo until her breath comes back.) I'm flattered you say I'm a natural. Seems to me you improvise well. (she reaches down and offers her hand to help pull Brenton up. Brenton simply uses his sword as a post to pull himself up)
- Brenton: I had a teacher that forced me to. If you think I'm harsh, he knocked me out if I didn't block his swings.
- Tallulah: Wow, that must have been tough. My archery teacher just said "Good try, maybe you can hit it this time" if I ever missed the target. Then again, they paid him to do that. The Regimiss's daughter can't look all sad at the next party. (she suddenly comes forward at Brenton for a horizontal and two diagonal slashes, trying to catch him off-guard. Brenton simply catches the bo after the first swing, lost in thought)
- Brenton:Yes well, perhaps that's why I can out fight grown men. Pain has a way of teaching you to avoid it. Made me paranoid to. (he lets go of the bo)
- Tallulah: I guess they pampered me too much for me to have gone through much physical pain. When I got sick, I admit, that was pretty horrible, but all the doctors were always at my side with their bitter medicines. It never taught me anything.
- Brenton:Well I would say you arn't being pampered now. Actually sleeping on the ground! What would your mother think?
- Tallulah: (laughs) She'd probably call me a disgrace and disown me. Not only because of my appearance, but also because I'm not marrying Clement.
- Brenton:And why are you not marrying him? He have a wart or something?
- Tallulah: Well... a long time ago, I made a promise to Ben that I'd marry him. But of course, my mother was displeased with the idea, so she took me to Catalona Town, away from Silverwing. When I was old enough, they started working on an arranged marriage. Behind my back, I might add. It's traditional for the bride not to know about the wedding until the affairs are all settled, then the groom is supposed to tell her, and she's just so overjoyed, they get married and live happily ever after... (she scoffs) Didn't really work that way for me. The day after Clement broke the news to me, that was when I ran away. That's why I was going to Silverwing, to go find Ben. And I thought, maybe if my parents saw how happy I was with him, they'd see...
- Brenton:And now, knowing that it would fail, would you try agian, and bring about all this once more, or swallow your pride and marry?
- Tallulah: I wouldn't change anything. You, Enki, and the princess when she's awake are much better company than Clement Raskoph.
- Brenton:Raskoph? Brown hair, black eyes, smile like he swallowed a lemon, crooked tooth?
- Tallulah: The very same. His dad's the Euthanasia Regimiss. You heard of him?
- Brenton: I've heard of him and his whip has heard of me.
- Tallulah: Explain about the whip thing.
Brenton pushes up his hair, revealling a thin scar along the hair line.
- Brenton:Not to bad a deal though. I walked away a bit of blood lighter, and he walked away about 60 gold lighter.
- Tallulah: Oooh, that's gotta hurt. What did you do to make him want to whip you?
- Brenton:I dropped a bucket of sap on his head to distract hi while I took the wallet. The thing that angers me is that he was about 7 when he did it.
- Tallulah: (laughs) That's the most original crime I've ever heard. But yeah, I'm glad I didn't marry that creep. I've heard of a bunch of stuck-up rich guys who beat their wives, and he'd probably turn into one of them.
- Brenton:Well at this point you could probally beat him. And I know almost for a fact he would try. I'm somewhat resposible for that crooked tooth of his, although he still probally thinks something just spooked his horse.
- Tallulah: (she raises her eyebrows.) Sounds like you and Clement know each other quite well. Wouldn't that have been funny, if I played the good girl and married him, then saw him bullying you later... I probably never would have guessed...
- Brenton:Actually we've only bumped heads 3 times. The sap, the horse, and one other time when he tried to pick a fight. (he disapears into thought) It probally would have been better to have let him win it considering his revenge.
- Tallulah: Did he try to get you back for it?
- Brenton:(Suddenly biter) I don't want to talk about it!
- Tallulah: Oh, well then we don't have to. Do you want to continue combat practice?
- Brenton:No, it's getting late and you arn't ready for night training yet. We should get back to Enki.
- Tallulah: Good idea. (they begin walking toward the campsite) When are the drugs going to wear off on the princess so she can wake up?
- Brenton:They've been worn off for a while. She was just sleeping when you woke up. Recoveroring from that wound takes a lot out of her.
- Tallulah: Yeah, I bet. (they reach the camp) How's the princess?
- Enki:The usual. She ate like a pig and went back to sleep. Didn't even compliment my stew.
He gestures twords a pot sitting on the fire with chuncks of blackened meat and burned vegetables floating in it.
- Tallulah: Well, she must have been pretty hungry, and pretty tired... She probably isn't her polite self right now.
- Enki:That's for sure.
- Brenton:She never was to polite at all though. (At Enki) Did you spike her bowl?
- Enki:Yeah, she ought not feel to much 'sides the hangover.
- Tallulah: You guys still drugging the princess?
- Brenton:Kinda. The pain is still to much for her to handle easily so we're drugging her in smaller doses. Then she noticed. So for the past day we've been using ale. Just keeps her far enough under that she doesn't moan about the pain all the time. She's still a pain every morning with her hangovers though.
- Tallulah: Yeah, when my father drank he'd be totally grumpy next morning. But when he came home at night, if he'd been drinking, he'd just pass out in the bedroom and we wouldn't be able to wake him up. If he was feeling any pain at all it'd be totally gone by the time he fell asleep, so I guess that'd work on the princess, too.
- Enki:And given the way she's been acting if she ever noticed she'd probally just complain that we wern't using fine wine.
- Tallulah: Ha, yeah. The princess can be a little... snooty, I guess, sometimes. She's a good person, though, just pampered a little too much.
All of a sudden a large red dragon bursts out of the sky and crashes lands into the clearing, legs crumpling beneath him. His chest is heaving, his back right leg has been slashed to ribbons and both of his wings are badly torn.
- Dragon:Coming..Smelled fire...4 dragons...5 empusas...HIDE!
- Tallulah: (she stares wide-eyed first at the dragon, then at Enki and Brenton.) What-- what is it talking about?
- Brenton:I'd say it would be rather obvious. there are four dragons and 5 empusas that have smelled our fire and are coming to attack us. Most likely there were originally 5 dragons but our big red friend here deserted for some reason. They attacked him, he got away, and now he's warned us that we'll have a fight on our hands in a few minutes.
- Tallulah: What about the princess? She's unconscious, so she can't fight or even run away!
- Brenton:Well I'd say, in that case we'd have only one option. Hide the princess and prepare to fight our way out.
- Tallulah: Alright, that'll work. (she glances nervously at the sky, then grabs her rucksack and puts it over her shoulder.)
- Brenton:(at the dragon) After we stash the princess somewhere, would you spread your wings slightly so we can use them for cover and an ambush?
He archs his wings slightly, bringing them off from his body and leaving a gap underneath.
- Tallulah: So we hide the princess under his wings, and then when the Empusas come we run out and attack them?
- Brenton:No, I'm figuring we hide the princess in a tree. Much less likely to be caught in the crossfire.
- Tallulah: Good idea. (she walks over to where the princess is lying on her litter, ready to carry her.)
- Brenton:Allright. 3, 2, 1, lift.
between the two of them, they carry the princess 20 feet into the trees and stuff her into a fork between 2 branches.
- Tallulah: And now we hide. (she grabs the bo off the ground by the fire where she left it, then crouches under the dragon's lifted wing.)
- Brenton:Try this one Tallulah
He throws another bo at her. Tallulah catches it and looks it over right quick. It is about the same length and weight with a similar balance. She looks at the end and her breath catches in her throat. The last six inches of each end had been chopped off and replaced with 2 gleaming double edged knives with a shallow groove running down the center of each blade.
- Brenton:You'll do allot more damage with that one.
- Tallulah: (she takes a deep breath, eyeing the knives at the end of the bo, wondering what if the bo slips... she blinks and decides she has to stop being so paranoid.) Right. Thanks.
- Brenton:(cocks head for a moment and listens) I here wingbeats. Hide. Wait (he tosses a one handed ax to Enki.) Use that if something tries to bite your face off.
- Enki: Sure can do....less they take away my axe and rip off my face. Can't do nothing then I suppose. (he rolls his eyes).
- Brenton: (grabs Enki by the throat) don't joke. By all odds we may be dead in 10 minutes. You don't have any training at all, if you can stay out of the fight then do so. Leave it to me and Tallulah. Got it!?
- Enki: (begins laughing) Sure, sure Captain B. I won't fight with you glory hogs, I don't want to die. I'm not that dumb. (shoves Brenton back).
- Tallulah: Hey, hey, hey! (she steps in between Brenton and Enki.) Hear that? Wingbeats. Meaning the Empusas are gonna get here soon. Meaning that you two are gonna be easy targets if you keep fighting like that. (she puts her hands on her hips and looks back and forth between Brenton and Enki.) Focus on beating up those Empusas, not each other, got it?
- Enki: Everybody step back, Tallulah is here! You gonna take that Captain B? Huh? Huh? (he winks at each of them) Naw... I'm jokeing, I just wanted to see the reaction on your faces before we die! Let's get the show on the road!
- Brenton:(outloud)He's right. Get under those wings before they show. (at Tallulah) After this fight I am going to kill him.
- Tallulah: (she shifts under the wings to hide herself better, following Brenton's advice, but hisses angrily at him all the same.) You will not, Brenton! He's never done anything to you, has he?
- Brenton:You didn't spend three days with him. Besides, I was just being fanciful. I wouldn't waste my knife blades on him.
- Enki: Awww.... Captain B, having a mood swing now? Not going to kill me? Chickening out? Instead of Captain B I should call you Chicken B.
- Brenton:Spiders. Great hairy spiders the size of my hand crawling all over your skin. You can feel them can't you? You can feel those tiny hairs on their legs scratching at your skin, you can hear them sliding about in your hair. You can feel as they weave their webs in front of you mouth, they're laying eggs in you throat. You can feel it can't you?...
- Enki: (falls to the ground in a cold sweat.) You.... you.... (looks at Brenton his eye's full of hate) Monster.....you'll get your's Captain B, you'll get yours.
- Brenton:I"m a theif, I'll just get someone else's and substitute it. And if there's such a thing a karma then it owes me enough favors to overlook that.
- Enki: (stands up, shakes himself off, and spits in Brenton's face) The only thing that you owe is your mother's purse, Captain B.
- Brenton:(Draws his throwing knife in a smooth movement that was to fast to be seen. Flicks it directly into the hollow of Enki's throat) Never mention my mother. Never mention my father. Never mention my friends, or you will be my enemy. And I've been taught every skill imaginable since I was 7, including silent kills. I'm dying to try some of those techniques out, so by all means, push me.
- Enki: (looks cooly at Brenton, and gives him a small smile) Sure. I can dig Captain B. The Empusa's will give it too you first though.
- Tallulah: Will you two stop it? (she seizes Brenton's wrist of the hand holding the knife and holds it away from Enki with both hands. She looks Brenton straight in the eyes.) Brenton, cool it with the threats. I don't care how much you don't like Enki, he's helped us and there's no reason to hurt a friend or ally. (she lets go of his wrist and turns towards Enki.) And Enki, stop egging him on. You're almost as sarcastic as the princess when she's angry.
- Enki: And I'm not even angry.
- Brenton:Quiet. The wingbeats are almost here, if we don't shut up they'll hear us!
- Enki: (whispers)...I gotcha Captain B.
- Tallulah: (also whispering) Yes sir.
Peering through one of the tears in the wing just in time to see four dragons set down in the clearing ahead of the friendly one. Five Empusas get off, one of whom is limping slightly.
- Empusa 1:Foolisssh beast. Now you will die.
- Dragon:I will...not die...just yet...
He then reared up and threw open his wings. With all the attention on his wings, it took them several seconds to notice that Brenton and Tallulah had run out to attack. During that time Brenton threw his throwing knife into the head of one of the Empusas, killing it instantly. Like previous Empusas it began to glow with a bright white light, before exploding. However Brenton did n't leave it that long, he immediantly ran up and slashed the throat of the Empusa standing next to that one before pulling it out and sliding underneath the dragon they were riding on and stabbing both knives into its belly to bleed it out. Tallulah, meanwhiles, was only seconds behind him. Running in a differnt direction then Brenton, she whirled her bo in a counterclockwise circle above her head, slashing through the throats of 2 more empusas. Also, she accidentally struck at the wing root of one of the dragons, severing it clean. The sheer blood flow coming out of it surprised her and killed the dragon in seconds. Enki was somewhat startled by the speed of the attack and didn't run out for several seconds. Attempting not to get upstaged by Brenton, he ran out and slammed his ax into the head of the last empusa. The Dragon meanwhile had jumped forward, and landed on the back of one of the enemy dragons. He clamped his teeth into its throat and was in the process of strangling it. However that still left one dragon. With the element of surprise having worn off it was ready to attack whoever came close. And the person who came close was Enki. Baring its teeth it prepared to attack him. Brenton slid out from underheath his dragon and appraised the situation intantly. The back of the dragon was facing him, and Tallulah was about 20 meters behind him. He quickly made his decision. Drawing his sword, he chopped off the last 2 feet of the dragons tail. The dragon quickly spun around and charged at Brenton. Brenton however, had turned and run at Tallulah.
Quickly determining what he wanted, Tallulah raised her bo parrelel to the ground at about chest height. Brenton jumps and plants one foot on the bo and uses it as a point from which to flip backwards, onto the dragon's neck. He quickly raised his sword and plunged it into the skull, piercing the brain.
- Brenton:And that's the last of them.
They look over and see that the dragon that had warned them was dead. The one it had been strangling managed to get turned around and shread his belly with his claws. The 2 dragons were locked together in a death embrace. Brenton walks over and lays a hand on his flank.
- Brenton:Thank you. (a few tears began to fall from his eyes.)
- Enki: (a look of great respect and admiration crossed his face for a few seconds, then he regained his compuser) Where's the cake?
- Tallulah: (ignores Enki and walks over to the dead dragon. She crouches down and strokes his head.) I wonder what will become of him...? His spirit, I mean. By helping us, he became a traitor. But he crossed over to the good side. I hope he is rewarded in his afterlife.
- Enki: That's all fine and good, but I'm so hungry right now!
- Tallulah: Hey, but didn't we just eat? Hmmm. Maybe you're just tired. We probably all are. I think we should best get some sleep.
- Enki: Eat and sleep. Not a half-bad idea..... (yawns, and grumbles a bit)
- Brenton:We can't afford to make another fire to cook any food. These guys found us by our fire and another patrol might be nearby. If you want to sleep though, I'll stand watch. (He wipes his blades off on the ground.)
- Enki: Uhhhh.... if you say so Captain B. I'll take second watch if you want.
- Brenton:I'm fine, I'm used to going without sleep for much longer then one night, you aren't. Rest.
- Enki: (sits down, shakes himself off and throws up) In my town the most fighting we did was just basic sparring and wrestling. This is far more than I ever expected. Normally, when the boy's get old enough, they are sent into the forest and return in less than a week a bit shaken and smell awful, but not that much different. This is gonna make a good story when I get back home.
- Brenton:You're actually handling it better then most. Last guy I took into his first battle went vegitative afterwards and bled out of his wounds before I could get to him. Where is your village anyways?
- Enki: Maybe two hundred and fifty meter's southeast of here. It's fairly big, with a main rode, merchant's and many houses in the surounding contryside, we've gotten fairly close since we first met up. About 900 people all in all. I wouldn't say it's a city, but bigger than most of the nearby towns such as Bragor and Gola. It's the "hub" town for the entire area.
- Brenton:Allright, we'll rest for now and head there tommorow.
- Enki: Sounds good to me.
- Tallulah: Hey, but isn't the princess still stuck in that tree? Would she be safer there or with us during the night?
- Brenton:I forgot about the princess. It'd probally be better to get her out, otherwise when she wakes up she's going to fall out of the tree.
- Enki: Well do what you will, I'll be getting some sleep. (yawns, sits down on the ground)
Tallulah stands up, and she and Brenton walk back into the trees and find the princess, still sleeping, in a tree where they left her. They carry her back to the campsite and she grumbles and sighs in her sleep as they set her down.
- Brenton:You two get some sleep, I'll take watch.
- Tallulah: Alright. (she fishes her blanket out of her rucksack and shivers as she wraps it around herself and lies down.) Good night, Enki. Good night, Brenton.