The Legends of Kayshall  Chapter-8 (Friends in Strange Places)

The Legends of Kayshall Chapter-8 (Friends in Strange Places)

A Chapter by Bruce Grimes

                                                                         Chapter-8

                         Friends in Strange Places

 

   About mid-morning one of the sergeants of the guard arrived at the command tent to see Lord Colantray with a message, he was about to deliver it when the four friends arrived from the bar.

  As they walked in, Lord Colantray was standing behind his desk. “Well it’s good to see you men up and about. I can’t say you men look all that grate; but you defiantly smell better. That battle stench was making my eyes water,” Lord Colantray said with a smile.

   “Ok sergeant what can I do for you?” Lord Colantray asks as he turned his attention to the sergeant. “What is it?” He said as he shuffled through some papers.

   “Sir one of the wall commanders was killed sometime during the night, his body was mutilated almost beyond recognition. The wall guards found the body on top of the southeast tower; he had been staked out spread eagle. Someone used iron spikes and they've been driven threw his hands and feet straight into the stone; his head had been cut off and stuck onto a steel rod that had also been driven into the stone, and his eyeteeth have been pulled as well,” The Sergeant said as he stood there at attention trying to repress the look of fear in his eyes.

  “Sergeant get yourself a drink, you look like you could use one, and Sergeant it's important that you don't tell anyone about this. Do you understand me Sergeant?” Lord Colantray said as he looked up from his papers. “Yes Sir, I understand,” The Sergeant said, saluting and then he turned to leave and stopped. “Sir, there was one other thing. No one heard a sound, not a screen, not a moan nothing, nothing at all. Doesn't that seem kind of strange to you Sir?” The Sergeant asks, and then he turned and left the tent.

  “This is all we need right now, somebody going around killing my officers and staking them out like animals. Did you see the look in that Sergeant’s eyes, that’s fear? He was truly afraid, and that's a poison and it will spread through this Army like a plague unless we put a stop to it right now. Derracky I want you and Kallander to go to the Southeast tower, find out what happened there and catch whoever did it,” Lord Colantray said as he slammed his fist down on the desk and then turned his back to the two young knights. Without saying a word they both turned and left the tent. Going over the Sergeant’s description of the scene in their minds; they thought they knew what they were walking into, he left a few things out.  When he arrived at the stairs leading from the top of the wall to the top of the tower there was a large pool of blood that had formed at the base of the stairs, as well as on each individual stare all the way to the top. Kallander noticed that there was a man sitting in the corner on a small stool shaking profusely; as he looked at him more closely he could see that the man was covered in blood. There was a Sergeant of the guard standing watch by the stairs.

  “What happened to that man? Why is he covered in blood?” Kallander ask the Sergeant as he pointed at the man in the corner.

  “He’s the man that found the captain Sir. It scared him so bad that he slipped in the blood and fell all the way down the stairs. He's been sitting there shaking ever since, he hasn't said a word,” The Sergeant said as he looked over at the man.

  “Well when he starts talking I want you to bring me a full report,” Derracky said as he took a step forward his foot sank into the pool of blood.

  Kallander looked down at the blood and cringed. “Something tells me we may regret having eaten before we came here,” Derracky simply nodded as he tried to climb the blood soaked stairs, without slipping.

 As he neared the top he was greeted by the ghastly sight of a decapitated torso at the head of the stairs, which was still trickling blood onto the stairwell. Forcing himself to continue he reached the top of the tower to see that the man had been staked out spread Eagle. With his head near the stairwell before it had what appears to have been ripped off rather than cut off, and then stuck on a steel rod. There were large metal spikes that had been driven threw the man's hands and feet into the stone floor. There were massive wounds on the body and a large amount of blood around it.

  “Derracky look at these wounds and the amount of blood around them. This man was tortured and from the looks of things it lasted for quite some time,” Kallander said as he knelt down and looked at the body.

  “I agree but nobody heard anything. If somebody's been tortured like that you'd be able to hear his screams. Torturer is a lot of things, but silent isn't one of them,” Derracky said with a confused look on his face as he looked at the man's mutilated face.

   After about an hour of examining the body and the top of the tower, Derracky and Kallander return to the command tent and reported what they had found to Lord Colantray.

  That night it happened again and then again on the next night as well. After three nights and three murders; and all three of them, being ranking officers the city was in an uproar.

   Kallander and Derracky were standing on top of the tower at the scene of the third murder. He looked up to see three vultures circling overhead. Everything about it seemed to be exactly the same as the first and the second and then Kallander noticed something odd. There was a small pool of blood that had setup that had a strange half-moon shape to it near the outer wall of the tower.

  “Derracky look at this,” Kallander said as he pointed at the pool of blood. “Doesn't that look odd to you?” Kallander ask as he kneeled down to get a better look.

   Derracky walked over and glanced at the pool. “There's blood all over the top of this tower. What's more special about this spot then the others?” Derracky asks not noticing the deformity in the blood pool.

“This blood has dried up against something and whatever that might have been was removed after it dried. You see how the pool curves and there's an edge here, that's not natural for blood to pool like that.” Kallander said as he started looking around more closely at the top of the tower. After they were done, Kallander and Derracky went back to the command tent and reported what they had found to Lord Colantray.

   Just as they finished a tall elf dressed in the black field plate of the Kings Royal guard walked into the tent. “Lord Colantray I was sent ahead to tell you that King Raylanty will be arriving within moments along with reinforcements,” The tall elf said as he stood there at attention.

   “Well then I suggest we go and welcome him,” Lord Colantray said as he looked at the two Knights. All three of them turned, leaving the tent and walking over to the West gate, where they waited for the King.  A short time later King Raylanty road through the gate; followed by a large force of Calvary. The King seeing Lord Colantray road over to him as the Calvary went on by.

   “So tell me my brother what has happened in my absence?” King Raylanty said halfheartedly and then his face became stern as he saw the morbid looks on Colantray and the young Knights faces. “Your faces do not set my mind at ease, what is wrong,” King Raylanty said as he dismounted his horse and handed it off to a servant.

  “Raylanty these are matters best talked about back in the command tent, not out here in the middle of the street,” Lord Colantray said as he waved his hand down the street, towards the command tent. Lord Colantray told the King of the battle and how his Rovers were able to snatch a victory out of what was sure to be a defeat. Then he started telling him about the sacrificial type murders that had been happening over the last few days.

   Later that night Sir Derracky was asleep in his chambers when there was a knock at the door. Getting up he walked over and opened it to see one of his sergeants of the guard. “What is it sergeant?” Derracky said as he pulled on a robe to word off the chill in the air.

   “Captain Xainntion is sick with fever and can't stand his watch at the Northeast tower. Since you're the knight in charge I was wondering which Captain you wanted to appoint to stand the watch?” The sergeant asks. Derracky stood there for a moment as he pondered the sergeant’s question.

“None, I will stand the watch myself,” Derracky told the sergeant as he shut the door and started putting on his armor.

   A short time later Derracky arrived on the wall at the Northeast tower. After taking a quick look around to make sure the wall guards were posted properly, he turned and walked up the stairs of the tower. Derracky walked across the tower as the wind whipped at him, it strained his eyes as he stared down through the darkness at the Ever-bright lamps that lined the wall, as the guards paced back and forth         beneath them.

  The night was relatively quiet until Derracky heard a strange noise, it sounded as if something was scratching on the stone. Thinking that someone was coming up the stairs he turned and walked over to meet them, only to find that no one was there. Then he heard it again, the scratching sounded as if something was scraping deep into the stone, only this time it was behind him. Derracky drew his sword as he turned towards the noise; but still there was nothing there. Slowly he walked around the edge of the tower looking for any sign of what might have made the scraping sound. He glanced down to the wall and saw the waving flag as the wind blew it; he noticed that the wind wasn’t blowing on the top of the tower. He also noticed that it was deathly quiet, as there was no sound at all.

   Derracky felt a sudden surge of fear rush over him as if he knew an attack was coming. Readying his sword, his eyes scanned the top of the tower frantically in search of an enemy. Then he heard the scraping again from behind him, spinning around he swung at the air; but his sword hit something. A tremendous scream of pain echoed through the air, as a slash of green suddenly appeared in front of him and started bleeding down towards the ground. Suddenly something hit Derracky in the chest with tremendous force that lifted him off the ground sending him flying across the top of the tower and slamming him into the parapet. Losing his grip on his sword, it went clattering across the floor, sliding to a halt next to the stairs. With the wind knocked out of him, he immediately gasped for breath which sent screaming pains through his chest. Derracky looked down to see four huge gaping wounds in his chest. Seeing his sword by the stairs he started to drag himself to it, when suddenly drops of green liquid or blood started appearing on the floor in front of him. Quickly Derracky fumbled for his dagger from his belt; suddenly he was yanked up off the floor by the hair of his head and held there in midair. Derracky's vision faded in and out as he tried to see what was attacking him; he could see the green blood running freely from the wound as it was starting to outline a shadowy shape. With one last act of defiance Derracky swung his dagger at whatever it was that was holding him by the hair. The creature screamed and then suddenly Derracky felt a sharp pain in his throat.

  The next morning the sergeant of the guard showed back up at the command tent for the fourth day in a row. The sergeant stood there for a long moment waiting for Lord Colantray to acknowledge him so he could deliver his message. Lord Colantray didn’t even look at him; he just looked up and stared at the back wall of the tent.

   “Sergeant, what is your name?” Lord Colantray asks as he sat there staring at the tent wall.

   “My, my name sir, well it’s Sergeant Dellden. Why do you ask sir?” Sergeant Dellden asks with a slightly nevus look on his face.

   “Well I’ve been seeing way too much of you lately, so I thought I ought to know your name. Ok give me the bad news,” Lord Colantray said as he turned towards the sergeant. The sergeant delivered his message that there had been another murder. When the sergeant told him who it was this time, a stunned look came over Lord Colantray’s face. The forth one in as many days; but rather because this time it was someone he knew and now he had to tell Sir Kallander, this was going to be a long day.

   A short time later Kallander walked into the tent with a broad smile on his face which quickly faded when he saw the look on Lord Colantray face.

  “Where is it?” Kallander asked in a flat dry tone. “I'll have to find Derracky I haven't seen him this morning. If this keeps up I may take up drinking like Sep,” Kallander said in a solemn tone as he watched Lord Colantray pore two glasses of brandy.

  “Here drink this; you're going to need it.” Lord Colantray said as he handed the glass to Kallander. “The killing was on the Northeast tower and Derracky won't be joining you,” Lord Colantray said as he looked down into his glass of brandy and then drank it down in one gulp. “He was the one manning the tower,” Lord Colantray said as a shocked look came over Kallander’s face.

  “What the hell was he doing manning a tower?” Kallander ask as a wave of shock ran through his body causing him to feel physically weakened. Kallander suddenly drank the glass of brandy and through it to the ground; it shattered at his feet. “He was a Knight not a Captain of the guard, he shouldn’t have been on a tower,” Kallander said solemnly as he struggled to regain his composure.

  “I don't know why he was on the wall Kallander, I will look into it. Right now I need you to go to the Northeast tower and investigate his death and then report back to me what you find. Perhaps you should take your Captain with you, what is his name, Sep isn't it,” Lord Colantray said as he poured some more brandy, into a steel Cup this time and handed it to Kallander.

  “Yes Sir, I'll take him with me,” Kallander said as he quickly drank the brandy and then tried to steady himself as he set the cup down on the corner of the desk. As Kallander turned to leave, the tent flap moved to one side and King Raylanty stepped in, at seeing him Kallander's eyes widened, he bowed his head and moved on past without saying a word.

  Kallander left the tent with a deep feeling of despair hovering over him. After a short time he found Sep over by the East gate, after telling him what was going on they made their way to the Northeast tower. Kallander and Sep stood at the base of the stairs, staring down at the pool of blood. Kallander had seen this all before with the other murders, the horror of it all was becoming almost mundane, except this time it was Derracky.

  “Tell me Sep, what do you see?” Kallander ask as he closed his eyes, taking a deep breath and preparing himself to ascend the stairs.

  Sep crouched down and examined the blood pool closely. “There's a lot of blood here, it's almost as if someone took a bucket and dumped it here,” Then Sep noticed something odd on the first step. “Look at this Kallander, the blood line on the first step is almost an inch thick,” Sep said as he pointed.

  “Okay I'm not sure what your point is Sep,” Kallander said with a confused look on his face, as he looked at the blood line on the first step.

  “Well if the blood had just run down from the top level and out onto the wall at most it would only be a thin line, but something caused it to pool and it formed this blood line that’s an inch-thick,” Sep said as he looked up at Kallander who was now taking a real interest in the blood line.

  “That's interesting; perhaps if something can keep that blood in; it might also be able to keep sound in as well,” Kallander said as he stared at the bloodstained steps.

  The thick blood on the steps clung to their boots making a sucking sound with each step as they climbed to the top of the tower. They were greeted by the headless corpse of Derracky that was still dripping blood onto the stairs. Kallander immediately recognized his armor, bowing his head as a sudden pain welled up behind his eyes. Sep stared on in horror which quickly turned to rage, as he saw for the first time what had been happening on the other towers.

  “Keep your head about you Sep, I need your mind clear,” Kallander said as he took a hold of Sep’s arm and looked at him with eyes filled with sorrow.

  “All right Kallander I’ll keep my head,” Sep said as he took a deep breath to regain his composure.

 Once they were on top of the tower, Kallander began noticing things that were different from the other killings. There were large pools of green liquid scattered across the top of the tower and Derracky’s sword blade was covered in it as well. After a short time of searching Sep found Derracky's dagger as well as what looked like some type of reptilian finger which still dripped green blood.

  “He wounded it Kallander and from the looks of it, he hurt it bad,” Sep said as he knelt down looking at a strange footprint in the green blood. “What do you think it is?” Sep ask as he glanced up at Kallander.

  Kallander stood there for a moment and stared at the reptilian finger he held in his hand. “I think that this is beyond what our eyes can tell us my friend. I believe we need eyes of a different caliber, one's of a mage or something along those lines, because I think that’s what we’re dealing with here and that what I’m telling Lord Colantray,” Kallander said as he stared at the finger for a moment longer and then he wrapped it in a white cloth and put it in his pack. After taking one last look around the top of the tower they left and went back to the command tent to make their report to Lord Colantray.

  Upon arriving at the command tent they found Lord Colantray and King Raylanty talking in low tones to each other by the map table, both of them stopped abruptly when the two Knights entered the tent.

 “Well let's have it Kallander, did you find anything new?” Lord Colantray asked turning and giving the Knight’s his full attention.

  “Yes my Lord we did. It appears that Derracky wounded one of them before he was killed. He severed this finger from the creature and from the amount of blood, it appears as if there was another more grievous wound as well,” Kallander said as he walked over to Lord Colantray and unwrapping the reptilian finger.

  “My Lord we think this creature may have somehow used magic to suppress the sounds of the torture as well as other things. I think we need a mage to take a look at the top of these towers to see if some sort of spell was used on them,” Sep said as he looked from Lord Colantray to King Raylanty.

  “You know if what these men say is true, perhaps Shamonah could help. Colantray, I want you to call a meeting of the Lords and why don't you send young Kallander here to collect Shamonah. Oh and Kallander be sure and tell her that I sent for her that way she'll come,” King Raylanty said with a slight grin as he examined the finger.

  A lone rider arrived at the Southwest gate, covered in a forest green cloak that was so dark it was almost black and carrying a simple wooden staff that twisted at one end. The rider made an imposing figure on his beautiful jet black stallion. The city guards noticed him, but stepped back making no attempts to stop the rider even when he went straight to the command tent. Stepping down from his stallion the rider walked up to the tents door its flap partially hanging open.

   “You gentlemen look as if you have a problem. Is it anything I might be able to help with?” A voice asks as the cloaked figure stepped into the tent and pushed the hood off his head. A slight smile came over King Raylanty’s face as a look of shock came over Lord Colantray’s.

 

                (Shamonah’s Room in the Keep)   

  The darkened room had heavy curtains pulled over its shuttered windows that had been sealed for winter. The fire in the fireplace was burning low as Shamonah slept in the bed with a heavy down quilt pulled up just past her waist. The light of the fireplace cast an orange glow across Shamonah's bare breasts and stomach, making beautiful shadows on the walls as she slept. Her sleep suddenly started getting restless as the curtains on the window started to flutter. Shamonah's head tossed from one side to the other as sweat started streaming across her body. Shamonah kicked and thrashed in her bed as white flashes wrenched her mined with images of the faces of long dead enemies, causing her down quilts to hit the floor as if someone had yanked them from the bed and thrown them across the room. Suddenly the fireplace flared filling itself to capacity and causing flames to shoot out in all directions, the curtains flew back as the shutters blew open causing the icy wind to come crashing in and filling the room with its freezing cold. This however seemed to have no effect on Shamonah's sweat covered body as she lay there thrashing naked in the bed, still stuck deep in her nightmare. Suddenly the image of a lizard like creature came to her; she saw six small circles that were all connected to one another, forming one large circle.      Then there was a sudden red flash of light, sitting straight up in bed she was wide awake and freezing cold. Drenched in sweat, the freezing wind blowing in through the window; caused chills to run rampant through her body making her shake uncontrollably. She quickly slammed the shutters and went over to worm herself by the fire. Just as she was starting to make herself comfortable on a huge bearskin rug in front of the fireplace she heard a knock at the door.

  “What do you want?” Shamonah yelled in an angry voice as she sat there on the rug shivering, not willing to move from the warmth of the fireplace just yet. Kallander opened the door and started to step in and then he saw that Shamonah wasn't dressed and stopped abruptly.

  “In or out Knight, you’re letting heat out,” Shamonah said with a slight degree of irritation in her voice as she scooted closer to the fireplace. Kallander stepped inside and shut the door; he glanced around the room noticing that one of the shutters was ajar as he tried not to look at her.

  “My lady, I am Sir Kallander BloodRaven and I have been sent to inform you that Lord Colantray request your presents at a meeting at the command tent,” Kallander said as he did his best to avert his eyes from her.

  “Sir Kallander is it?” Shamonah ask glancing back over her shoulder and seeing his nod of acknowledgment. “Lord Colantray is just going to have to wait, I'm cold right now and I'm not moving from this fire until I have warmed up,” Shamonah said with a slight smile as she leaned in even closer to the fire and then glanced over at Kallander with a slight grin. At hearing this, a shocked look came over his face

  “My lady King Raylanty called this meeting and a specifically requested that you be there,” Kallander said walking over shutting the shutter and pulling the curtain closed. A look of disbelief flashed a crossed Shamonah’s face.

 “The King is in the city? When did he arrive?” Shamonah ask with excitement in her voice as she turned slightly to face him, covering her breast with her arm if only for Kallander’s benefit.

  “Yesterday afternoon my lady and he brought reinforcements with him as well,” Kallander said as he walked back over to the door and stood there facing it.

   “In the black truck next to the wall, get a pair of britches and blouse as well and under garments and bring them to me,” Shamonah said as she watched the yellow and orange flames slowly consume the oak logs. Kallander opened the trunk to find a vast array of garments inside. Many of which were not suited for the chill of early winter. He picked out a pair of insulated black leather britches and a white blouse that was made of some sort of heavy mix material, but yet it was very soft. Off to one side he found what appeared to be the top and bottom undergarments, he also found a long heavy cloak trimmed in gold. Taking all of these things he carried them over and laid them down on the bear rug next to Shamonah, and then he turned and walked back over by the door where he stood facing it. Shamonah smiled at seeing this as she dressed herself, moments later she was finished and they left on their way to the command tent. As they approached the tent raised voices can be heard, Shamonah stopped abruptly just outside the tent taking a hold of Kallander's arm as she listened to what was being said.

 “What the hell are you saying? Are you trying to tell me that you think Shamonah is responsible for the deaths of the captains of the guard and that Knight?” One of the voices asked in a harsh tone. At hearing this Kallander looked over at Shamonah and felt her grip tighten around his forearm. The look on her face was one of controlled rage, but she stood there and waited and continued to listen.

  “I'm not sure Martex it's just that as soon as that Dziwka showed up here the murders started and now we've lost one of our knights as well. Is it so hard to believe after all she tried to murder you Martex,” Lord Percy was saying in a grim tone when suddenly the tent flap move back to reveal Kallander followed by Shamonah walking into the tent. The glare on Shamonah face made it immediately obvious that she had overheard what was said.

  “Oh s**t!” Lord Colantray said as he jumped up from behind his desk and quickly went over to a small table and poured himself a drink.

  “Well, you guys have done it now,” King Raylanty said with a smile as he sat in a chair near the heating stove warming himself. Almost as an afterthought he waved his hand for Lord Colantray to retake his seat. Kallander stood by the door as Shamonah walked into the center of the room to stand opposite of Lords Percy and Martex and then centered on Percy.

 “Now listen you worm ridden piece of soul sucking slime, they call me The Demon Witch for a reason and I promise you if you ever make the mistake of calling me a Dziwka again you'll find out first hand why that is. And for your information I don't murder people, I'm not an assassin. I either kill them or I don't, there's no attempting to it. If I had set out to kill Martex he would be dead; I set out to teach him a lesson and he learned it. Keep in mind that you can only learn a lesson if you live, so there was no point in killing him. Besides that was a long time ago and Martex should really move on,” Shamonah said as she tried desperately not to totally erupt in front of the King.

  “Bravo, bravo, I’m so happy to see that nothing has changed. It’s still the same old group of malcontents that it’s always been. It’s funny we’ve got men dyeing on the walls, on a nightly bases and my Generals can’t pull themselves together, long enough to catch these b******s. Yes it’s the same old group of malcontents, I’m so proud of you all,” King Raylanty said in a sarcastic tone as he stood up clapping his hands and shaking his head as he walked outside. The whole room stood in silence for a moment as they stared at the tent flap leading out into the street.

  “He’s right, we are acting like a bunch of malcontents,” Shamonah said as she looked at the others, suddenly feeling very small inside. Without a second glance at Percy or Martex and only a slight nod to Lord Colantray she turned and followed the king outside. She could see him standing across the street, leaning against the front wall of the Stumble and Bumble Pub. She stood there looking at Raylanty for a moment as he stared up at the sky, she thought about how he had aged since the last time she had seen him.

  King Raylanty noticed Shamonah stepping out into the street as he watched some clouds floating across the morning sky. “Do you ever look at the stars Shamonah?” He asked without even giving her a glance. “I remember a time when I wanted to be an astronomer and spend my whole life staring at the stars,” He said with a mournful tone to his voice. “At that time I would've never thought that I would end up fighting a war that would last the better part of my life time, and become a King in the process. These were things that were beyond my wildest imagination, at least until I met Nattalass and we came to Kayshall. Did you know that back in the old world my father was a blacksmith and I fell in love with a princess; we fled to Kayshall to escape her families’ persecution, where I became a King by my own hand? It’s an intriguing story the scribes should set down sometime, no one would ever believe it though; it’s too much like a fairytale. Whenever I look at the sky it reminds me of simpler times,” King Raylanty said as he looked from the clouds into Shamonah’s eyes.   

   “I never knew that about you my Lord. I used to look at the stars with my mother when I was young. She taught me how to fine my way by them. I don’t look at them much anymore unless I need to. My Lord I will help you find this killer and I’ll at least try to work as part of the group. So that way maybe we can win this war and we can both start looking at the stars again,” Shamonah said as she placed her hand on his arm.

   “So what can you do that we aren’t already doing?” King Raylanty asks, smiling as he looked back up at the sky.

  “Well I can cast spells in the dead zone where most normal casters can’t. So I at least can add that to help find the killer,” Shamonah said as she looked over at Raylanty.

   “I’m going to need to see the bodies. I think there’s something going on here that were just not seeing, and I need to figure out what it is before it’s too late,” Shamonah said in a grim voice as King Raylanty looked over at her.

  “I think you're right, the Knight that was killed last night wounded something before he was killed. From what Sir Kallander and Captain Seppartyion have told me; along with some evidence they have shown to me,” Raylanty said in a somber voice. “I believe we are dealing with something that is not of this land, at the very least and is almost certainly a spell caster. I'll have someone take you down to where were keeping the bodies; perhaps you’ll find something that we didn't,” King Raylanty said as he stood up straight and started walking back over to the command tent.

  “Send me that young Knight, BloodRaven I believe his name is,” Shamonah said as she stood there watching him.

  “Okay I'll send him out in a moment,” King Raylanty said with a slight grand.

   King Raylanty stepped back inside the tent and found Kallander still standing just inside the door. A slight smile spread across his face at the thought of Kallander standing in that one spot this entire time. “Well if you have nothing else you have the discipline of a Knight. Kallander, I'm assigning you to Lady Shamonah. You will still be investigating the murders but you will be aiding her in the investigation. Give her whatever she needs and here give her this as well,” King Raylanty said as he handed Kallander the reptilian finger.

  Kallander looked back and forth at the Lords who he had just been listening to express their suspicions about Shamonah. “Sire, I don't mean to question, but are you sure about this?” Kallander asks with a concerned look on his face.

  King Raylanty turned and glared around the room and then brought his gaze back to Kallander. “There is only one in this room that I trust more then I trust Shamonah and he is my family! Don't let these two pompous b******s muddy the water when it comes to forming your own opinion about Shamonah. Like Shamonah said they should move on. Now she is waiting and you should be on your way,” King Raylanty said with anger filling his eyes and voice equally as he looked towards Lords Percy and Martex.

  “By your command my King,” Sir Kallander said as he bowed slightly and turned and left the tent. Just outside he saw Lady Shamonah standing across the street in front of the Stumble and Bumble Pub.

  “My lady, King Raylanty has assigned me to you. He said that you were taking over the investigation of the murders and that I am supposed to give you any help possible,” Kallander said as he stood there looking at her not quite knowing what to think of what had just happened inside the command tent.

  Shamonah looked at Kallander for a moment and sized up the situation almost immediately. She knew that Lords Percy and Martex had both been expressing their opinions of her and she was sure that Lord Colantray and King Raylanty had both come to her defense, all in front of the impressionable young Knight. Of course on top of it all, the King had then ordered the young Knight to turn over the investigation to the person in question, and the cause of all the turmoil that was going on inside the tent. She looked into his eyes and she could see courage, honor and hope, but there was something else there to, something that seemed to look right through her. This intrigued her as she smiled. “I'm sure you don't like the idea of me taking over your investigation, but that's what the King wants so let's do this and catch these b******s,” Shamonah said as she stared deep into Kallander’s eyes.

  Kallander's eyes brightened suddenly. “Yes my lady, let's.  Oh, here the King told me to give this to you,” Kallander said as he handed a small object to her and then stood there waiting as he watched her expression.

 The object was wrapped in a clean white kerchief; at one end it was drenched in some sort of green liquid. Shamonah slowly unwrapped the object to reveal a reptilian finger approximately six inches long. Her eyes widened for a moment at the site of it, and then they narrowed. “I need to see the bodies of the murder victims immediately. I need to see if they have been used in any rituals of any sort,” Shamonah said grimly as she watched Kallander’s expression closely.

  “I can take you to the bodies, there being held in a cooling chamber at Lord Colantray's request. I need to stop in the pub for a moment and pick up my Captain, and then I'll be ready to go,” Kallander said as he pointed to the Stumble and Bumble Pub. Kallander found Sep standing at the bar in the otherwise deserted pub, drinking a large glass of what appeared to be Brandy.

  “Don’t you get enough of that from your flask?” Kallander asked with a slight smile as he walked over and stood next to Sep.

  “Are you going to start giving me s**t about my drinking now?” Sep asked with irritation in his voice as he flashed Kallander an angry glance, and then he saw Shamonah standing by the door. “Oh my lady, please forgive me I did not see you standing there,” Sep said as he snapped to attention.

  “Hurry up and put that away; you're coming with us, we’ve got work to do,” Kallander said with a slight smile as he did an about-face and started walking back towards the door. Sep quickly down the glass of Brandy and followed him.

 Kallander lead them into the central part of the city where the government center and official buildings were, it was also where all of their secrets were as well. He led them to a small door in the side of the wall; it opened up into a passageway leading down. After passing countless doors and making several terns, Kallander finally turned down a short passageway that opened up into a small room that had one door on its far side. Kallander walked up to the door and knocked, a few moments later the door slowly opened, Lord Colantray stepped into the small chamber and looked at each one of them for a long moment.

   “Good I'm glad you finally arrived, I was beginning to wonder if you were coming. Captain Sep it is good that you have come as well,” Lord Colantray said as he turned and walked back into the chamber. “The bodies have all been laid out in the order in which they were killed. This chamber keeps them magically preserved so that they don't rot. I warn you now though they are a gruesome sight so if you're not sure you're up to this, don't come in,” Lord Colantray said as he flashed Sep a quick look.

  “I've seen all these men before my lady, from the first captain of the guard that died on the Southeast tower to Sir Derracky who died on the Northeast tower,” Kallander said in a monotone voice as he looked at her.

  “Yes I suppose you have, but still keep your eyes open for you may see things now that were not apparent when you first visited these men,” Shamonah said as she turned and entered the room. Kallander thought about what she said for a moment, took a deep breath and then walked into the room himself.

  The chamber was long and dark, it had a small crystal in the ceiling that glowed yellow that dimly lit the room. The thin chamber had twelve stone slabs running down the center of it, four of which were now occupied by the murder victims. Shamonah glanced around the room for a moment and then reached into her belt pouch and pulled out a small blue stone, speaking a strange word that Kallander did not understand and the stone started to glow a bright yellow that lit up the room considerably. Kallander was fascinated by the light stones, Shamonah found this amusing as she set to work. The bodies had been laid out on the slabs with their heads, facing the door sitting between their feet. Their mangled faces made a gruesome sight, where there eye teeth had been ripped from there skull's. All the men’s armor except for Sir Derracky's had been removed; he had only been in the chamber for a short time. The others lay on the cold black slabs with only a small white piece of cloth covering their loins. Their bodies were so pale that the white cloth covering their loins seemed almost a part of them.

  “The paleness is caused by the dramatic loss of blood from the body,” Shamonah whispered almost as if not wishing to wake someone that was sleeping. As they examined the bodies more closely Shamonah pointed out to Kallander that it did not look as if their heads had been cut off with the bladed weapon, but more in the manner of a ripping and tearing weapon such as a claw. When they came to Sir Derracky's body, Kallander noticed that it was still dripping blood from its wounds. Shamonah paid special attention to his wounds and his armor; she thought it odd that his body was the only one that had wounds on the torso. After she was done examining all of the bodies she removed a small leather bag from her belt pouch and sprinkled a yellowish powder across each of the bodies, then she stood at the head of each slab and again spoke some strange words that Kallander did not understand. Each time she did this the body started to glow a bright orange, after she finished she stood there for a moment looking at the four glowing bodies.

  “This isn't good,” Shamonah said in a voice so low it was almost a whisper as she turned and walked over by the door where there was a bucket of water and began to wash the blood off her hands. The examination had taken hours and Kallander would always remember it as being a torturous experience. He stood waiting by the door, his mind and body numb by the experience. During this time Sep, had excused himself from the examination room and was waiting in the outer chamber, he was having a long conversation with his flask.

  “Have you got any idea about what did this or why it’s happening?” Lord Colantray asked as he examined the cuts on Derracky as well.

 “I don't know what did this for sure, but we both know these wounds weren't made by a knife or sword. The tearing of the flesh around the neck wounds and the ones on Sir Derracky's torso, both indicate that was a clawed creature. Not to mention the reptilian finger that Sir Derracky managed to sever before his death. We’re dealing with a creature and a magical one at that, its claws are capable of cutting through Elven chain mail almost as if it were made of smoke. Not to mention, it's capable of casting spells here at Valley Point, which is something that most magic users can't do. I need to see where Sir Derracky died at, there's a good chance that he saw his enemy and I need to know what it was,” Shamonah said in a solemn voice as she turned to leave the room.

  Lord Colantray stopped what he was doing and walked over to the bucket and started washing the blood off his hands. “Take her to the Northeast tower Kallander,” he said as he continued worshiping his hands.

  “My lady, Sep, to the Northeast tower,” Kallander said as he turned to lead the way out as he stared down at the floor.

  “Kallander are you going to be all right?” Shamonah ask with true concern in her voice.   

   “Yes, it’s just hard seeing Derracky, that way. We have-, had known each other since we were children and now he’s gone,” Kallander said as he stopped, but still only stared at the ground.

   “Yes the death of friends and family can be very hard to bear, and the fact that it is part of war is of no comfort. I understand how you feel, I truly do. I know it is of little comfort, but you are not alone in this. But for now we have no time to mourn the dead. We have a job to do,” Shamonah said as she put her hand out for Kallander to lead the way. At that Kallander nodded and then he started moving again.

 

             The Merchion Costal Road

   Croesus and Sir Bolandurus had been working together for a little over a week on the Rican highway, and for the most part, all was going well. They had cleaned out four small groups of bandits that had been plaguing the road and Sir Bolandurus had signed off on seven of Croesus’s wanted posters. The Sun was starting to set over the Pedrick Mountains as they road north and Skinny ran alongside of Croesus’s horse, making him rather uncomfortable.

  “Say Bolandurus do you think he can run alongside of you for a while, he's really making me nervous?” Croesus asks as he eyed the red skull of the silver skeleton that was running alongside of him.

  Bolandurus laughed so hard he leaned back in his saddle and it looked as if he might fall. “He is definitely hard to get used to, isn't he? Skinny why don't you come over-,” Sir Bolandurus was saying and then suddenly he stopped pulling his horse to a halt. “It appears that were going to have company,” Sir Bolandurus said as he nodded using his head in a fashion that pointed with his chin. Pulling his horse to a stop Croesus quickly looked around, his eyes came to rest on what Sir Bolandurus was staring at. There were seven men standing across the road up ahead, most of them wore light armor but two of them were wearing plate mail.

  “Something tells me that these are not your run-of-the-mill highway men, in fact they look as if they've been rather successful at it,” Sir Bolandurus said as he sat there staring at the group of men that were approaching them.          

  “I take it theressss going to be a fight Sirsssss,” Skinny said in his hissing voice as he walked over and stood next to Sir Bolandurus’s horse.

  “Yes Skinny, there most certainly is. Why don't you take Cheldren the Ice Fall from my saddle pack and use it?” Sir Bolandurus said as he dismounted his horse and drew his sword, at seeing this Croesus did the same as he watched Skinny remove a two-handed great sword from the saddle pack. The men were spread out into two rows with one man in front as they approached. The man in front was tall standing over six feet and wearing plate mail armor, he carried a b*****d sword and looked as if he knew how to use it.

  “This road is closed, unless you paid the toll,” The man said stopping about ten feet away and setting his sword in a low guard position.

  “Do you know who I am? I am Sir Bolandurus, first Councilor ",” Sir Bolandurus was saying when suddenly the man took a step forward.

  “I know who you are!” The man said with anger in his voice. “You are Sir Bolandurus Laydrakshion of the noble house Laydrakshion,” He said scornfully. “You were at one time a high-ranking member of the Crest Knights of Agarith, until you fell into disgrace and started serving that sadistic b*****d Eldrick,” The man said as he physically fought to contain his rage. “So yes Bolandurus we know exactly who you are and because of this, your toll is doubled,” The man said as he stood there glaring at Sir Bolandurus with his sword at the ready.

  Croesus looked over at Sir Bolandurus; the expression on his face was one that Croesus had seen before, on the faces of men who had just been stabbed. Something this man said had wounded Sir Bolandurus without ever raising a sword, Croesus found this curious.

  “How long have you been hunting me?” Sir Bolandurus ask as he laid the blade of his sword against his shoulder.

  A strange look came over the highway men’s face. “We have been searching for you, for six months. How did you know?” The highway men asked as he stood there staring at Bolandurus.

   “Well it's obvious you're not a bandit, you're too well equipped, not to mention you appear to be well organized. I would say that you are a low ranking Crest Knight of Agarith, and that one is your squire and these are your men at arms. So tell me my young Knight, what is your name?” Sir Bolandurus said as he stood there sizing up his opponent, trying to decide whether or not to kill him.

  “I am Sir Tiberius Hawklander,” The man said as he took a step sideways.

  “Skinny, do not kill him or his squire, you understand me,” Sir Bolandurus said in a tone so low that Croesus barely heard him. “As for the rest, let them fall where they may,” Sir Bolandurus said as he glanced over at Croesus, who nodded in understanding. “Hold this for me until I need it,” Sir Bolandurus said as he passed Croesus his b*****d sword. Then he turned and walked towards Sir Tiberius.

  “Well Sir Tiberius if we’re going to do this, then we should be properly introduced,” Sir Bolandurus said as he walked over to Sir Tiberius and put out his hand. The young Knight stood there for a moment with his sword at the ready refusing to lower his guard, but seeing no threat because this was the traditional greeting among Knights that were about to duel, he put out his arm and then it was too late. Sir Bolandurus quickly grasp his arm pulling him towards him as he pulled a dagger from his belt and stabbed him deep in the right side of his chest, causing Sir Tiberius to collapse to the ground as he coughed and spewed blood from his mouth. Quickly Sir Bolandurus turn around and held up his hand just as Croesus through him his b*****d sword, catching it in one hand and swinging it in a wide arc he quickly laid the chest of one of the henchmen open. At the same time Skinny came charging up at an unbelievable rate of speed and hit the squire on top of the head with the flat of his sword knocking him to the ground unconscious. Within moments the other three henchmen were all dead and Sir Bolandurus was standing over the wounded Knight who was gasping for air as he coughed up blood.

  “Easy there my boy, that's a bad one and it’s going to need a bit of mending,” Sir Bolandurus said as he knelt down on both knees and pushed Tiberius down onto his back. He had a terrified look in his eyes as he stared up at Sir Bolandurus. “Now hold still youngling, this is going to hurt,” Sir Bolandurus said as he placed one knee on Tiberius left shoulder and pulled his dagger from the right side of Tiberius’s chest, the Knight let out a horrid scream as Sir Bolandurus did this and then he fainted. Sir Bolandurus then placed his hands on the young Knights head and chest and started to pray. As he did this his hands started to glow with a white radiance and the young Knights wound stopped bleeding and started to close.

  “There now you're out of danger, now I’ll check on your squire and make sure he's going to be okay as well,” Sir Bolandurus said as he stood up and went over to the squire and prayed over him as well to heal the wound on his head.

 Both the night and the squire spent the rest of that evening and the better part of the night asleep, finally the young Knight woke up. He found himself sore, stiff and his hands bound, but he was still alive and able to rest comfortably on a bed role that had been laid out for him.

  “Ah you're awake,” Croesus said as he tended a stew pot that hung over the fire.

  “Yes, I'm awake, but I should be dead,” Sir Tiberius said as he struggled to sit up.

  “Easy there, you don't want to go opening that chest wound again. Here let me help you,” Croesus said as he walked over and helped Sir Tiberius sit up straight. “As for you not being dead, you can thank Sir Bolandurus for that,” Croesus said as he went back to tending the stew pot.

  “I suppose now he believes I am indebted to him!” Sir Tiberius said angrily.

  “I don't know what he believes. Sir Bolandurus is a strange and complicated man, but I don't think he want’s anyone feeling that there indebted to him. He made a choice not to waste the life of a good man. He could just as easily have killed you out there and to him that would've been a waste. So if you owe him anything it's to go and live your life and be a good Knight,” Croesus said with a slight degree of irritation in his voice as he scooped some stew into a bowl and brought it over to Sir Tiberius.

  “Where is Sir Bolandurus?” Sir Tiberius asked as he looked around the camp.

  “He's giving your henchmen a proper burial according to the code of the crest. At least that was what he told me before he left,” Croesus said as he sat down to eat a bowl of stew himself. At hearing this Sir Tiberius's eyes got wide with wonder. “They should be able to rest, Sir Bolandurus told me. He will be back by morning,” Croesus said as he made up his bed role and got ready to go to sleep.

  “Aren't you going to stand watch?” Sir Tiberius asks as he ate some stew.

  “There’s no need, our silver friend that we had with us on the road, stands watch over the camp at all times. So you may sleep soundly, you will be very safe in your bed tonight,” Croesus said as he lay down on his bed role.

  “Was my squire heart bad, will he live?” Sir Tiberius asks with a look of concern on his face and a tone to match.

 “He took a nasty blow to the head, but he's going to be fine. Sir Bolandurus gave him a potion to help heal him and make him sleep, when he wakes up he should be back to normal,” Croesus said as he yawned and then went to sleep.

  Sir Tiberius sat there for a while thinking about the different things that had happened and wondered if maybe Sir Bolandurus had been misjudged. Finely he let himself relax and lay back down and went to sleep. Just before dawn Sir Bolandurus walked quietly into camp, first checking on the young squire and then laying down on his own bed role to get a little bit of sleep himself. The next morning Sir Tiberius woke before anyone else, after a short time of working at it he managed to free his hands of their bindings. Quietly he got up and went over to check on the squire.

  “If you get that wound in your chest to leaking again, I'm going to beat you with a knotted plow line, you hear me youngling,” Sir Bolandurus said as he lay there on his bed role with his eyes close. “He's going to be fine, so why don't you go back over there and lie down and rest? You're going to need it before you start back,” Sir Bolandurus said in a calm and almost comforting tone as he lay there, still without opening his eyes. 



© 2013 Bruce Grimes


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Added on January 18, 2012
Last Updated on March 26, 2013


Author

Bruce Grimes
Bruce Grimes

Hastings, MN



About
I had a rather unique childhood to say the least. This and the firm belief that I had a angel watching over me; made it to where I lead a rather eccentric young life. It also contributed greatly to my.. more..

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