Chapter 2

Chapter 2

A Chapter by Michael Raymond Robinson
"

Four years after she made her deal, Alexis finds herself in the service of the crown as a member of an elite special forces team called the Twilight Brigade. And now, she's back in the north.

"

Chapter Two

Alexis sat at the bar, drinking her Witchwood Sweet Feyberry wine, slowly.  There was a party going on in the Riverside Tavern, a welcoming party, or a first duty assignment party.  Either or, she was suspicious, though she was thankful to be finally once again in Brattvann�"now Twilight Falls.  The town’s name was changed by the Prince�"now King�"four years ago, two weeks after Queoth took Callington with her help.  She did not get a chance to stay long, Lady Patricia had ensured that.  All in all though, it was Alexis’ final decision.

Patricia offered a chance to join the elite, the Special Forces, a brigade of highly trained soldiers.  At that time the order had no official title, but since has become known to all as the Twilight Brigade.  It seems that when Prince Edwin took Callington at dusk those years ago, the charge at twilight became a legend.   Now, he was nick-named King Edwin “Twilight” Kelmunt.  It was a joke at first, but it stuck.  He never let her forget, nor did Patricia or Captain�"Colonel�"Yonge, the effort that Alexis and Randal had done on that fantastic day.  Her reward, instant membership to the academy, she became an officer and learned for the past four years.

Despite the setback, putting her mystery on hold for four years, she had enjoyed the training.  The academy taught her tactics, stealth, espionage, explosives, how to use various weapons�"the long sword was her choice�"from swords, maces, to archery.  She was shown how to fight, lead, examine clues, track�"though she was still not good at that�"and to dance.  Yes dance was taught to her by Blanche Yonge, and how to incorporate it into her fighting style, along with how to use the shadows and darkness to her advantage.  With these skills, solving the mystery of her past would be much easier, nor was she helpless anymore, as if she ever truly was.

All that training was making her mind review every little detail now.  Why here and why now?  The current Brigade squad station here had been at this location for three years now.  They were one of the best units and yet none of them were here.  None of them created them when they arrived; none of them were celebrating with them.  Their commander, Major David Ailemer, was very cryptic with them, and arrived late to the festivities with Mayor Amaralith Manalaena.  They were currently sitting in the corner of the two-story tavern with a man she was briefly introduced to, Sheriff Daryl Gladomain.  She was watching them intently, trying to read their lips, but they were cautious.  She did notice however, they were not drinking.

“Salute,” Halyn Xanthor, another new graduate, another unit member said to her leaning up against the bar.  “Come Alexis join the party.”

He was cute, half-human and half grassland elf (called the Rymyth), despite the mix, he still had enchanting eyes.  Rymyth Fey were dark, skin tanned by the sun, with deep brown or blue eyes.  His were pale, an eerie blue that accented his dark flesh.  If she were to base Hal on pure looks, she would snag the young brown haired man in a heartbeat, but unfortunately, she knew him.  They spent three years in training together and he tried to seduce her and every other recruit of the female persuasion.  On top of that, she knew of many of his successes, from both the seduced and the seducer.  Alas, pure Halyn, she feared she was still not drunk enough to fall prey to a notch on his belt.

Now, he was working on Kylyn Carimyr, she too graduated with them, and she too was assigned to this group.  She hated the snooty Saivyn elf; she was the same as many in Callington, though the ones Alexis knew personally were on the lower side of town, or with her in the catacombs.  Kylyn’s family was very wealthy and very influential in Callington and this area.  She joined the team under a false name; Alexis did not know who she was trying to fool?  Well all of the others in the brigade knew her as Kylyn Carimyr, but Alexis had seen her many times while living at Callington and knew her as Naveryn Talaentar, daughter of Adalnar Talaentar, the newest mayor of Callington and owner of Witchwood’s Brewery and on the council of the Southern Betten Elfin Merchant’s Association.  This was a group of rich Saivyn elfin merchants, whose primary goal was to undermine human authority and trade.

Hal, which he was commonly called, grabbing her arm yanked her away from the bar.  Quickly picking up her drink she let him lead the way toward Kylyn, who was standing by the windows.  “You know you’ll strike out with her,” she said, “You’ve been trying for three years now and have never been successful.”

Looking at her he stammered, “I can say the same about you, I’ve been trying, I’ve been rejected, but I’m not quitting on either of you.”   He laughed as they stepped up next to Kylyn, who was drinking her wine from the bottle, trying to lower her class a bit Alexis assumed.  It was not working.

“Alexis,” she said wiping her mouth with her sleeve.  ‘Oh please,’ Alexis thought, ‘give it up.’

“Kylyn,” she nodded then sipped her own drink, turning her head slightly to see the rear table.  The three men now seemed to be arguing, but she still could not discern what the topic was.

“Being a bore aren’t you,” Kylyn said to her.

“Being observant,” she replied.

“We’re not on duty,” she snapped back.  “Who are you trying to impress?”

“Definitely not you,” Alexis replied harshly.

“You couldn’t,” Kylyn sneered.

Alexis leaned close to her ear, “Play nice b***h or I’ll tell daddy where you’re hiding.”

“Hey, I’m trying to do the right th�"“

Alexis lifted her finger, hushing her.  Something on the roof across the alley caught her eye.  Through the snowfall she saw movement on the top of the building next to the Riverside.  Squinting, she focused beyond the frost coated window, using her mind to remove all distractions allowing her to see clearly.  There were two hood figures, both drawing bows, one a long bow, the other a crossbow.  As they were lifting the weapons, she traced the intended path, through the window next to her, into the room.

“Alexis,” Hal said watching her.  Ignoring him, she looked around the room, at objects in the direct path of the window.  Seeing nothing obvious, she looked up into the rafters.  There it was, a small keg, suspended by a rope above the bar.  She imagined that it contained an alchemical substance, that when dropped would…

“S**t,” she exclaimed, turning back toward the window.  The bows were aimed, poised of firing, she only had a few seconds.  She heard Hal and Kylyn yell at her again, and once more she ignored them.  Grabbing Hal, she tossed him unsuspectingly toward and through the glass in front of her.  As his body crashed through, he was screaming obscenities; the crossbow fired a blunt bolt that shattered the other window.  Taking a few steps back, she cried out to Kylyn, “Follow me!”

As the air soared through the broken glass, in route to its target, she vaulted herself out the window, soaring through the air toward the other building’s roof.  As she landed the Riverside Tavern erupted into a ball of flames.  Trying to get her footing as shards of glass and burning debris pelted her body.  She made it a few steps before she slid again.  As she fell to the slanted roof, she saw the face of a woman through the hood, grinning at her.  Before she could get back up, the figure was gone, off the other side.

Regaining her footing she stood, albeit pissed.  She failed and she knew many good and innocent people died.  As she turned to face the tavern four more eruptions occurred, three to the east lit up the night sky in an orange hue, and one to the west, across the river.  “Damn it!” she exclaimed, but she now knew there were more than just those two assassins.

Hunkering down, she slid to the edge of the roof, where Kylyn was perched, slowly getting up.  A quick glance told Alexis that the elf was fine.  “You alright Kylyn?”

“Yes,” she said, “I think.”

“Well you look fine, we need to move,” Alexis demanded then gave the elf a not so subtle push off the roof.  She knew Kylyn would land gracefully; it was all part of her training, though she did enjoy doing it maybe a little too much.

“You b***h!” Kylyn yelled back, standing and moving to a woman that was tending a body next to the burning tavern.

“Hal,” Alexis called as she was swinging off the roof.  One foot placed along the wall, a slight push, the other on a pile of firewood, thus spinning her gracefully to the ground.  “You okay?” she said when she landed next to him.

“Yes,” he returned, standing.  “A bit shocked, a bit confused, but nothing bruised more than my ego.”

* * *

Linis Riza sat on the outside steps in the snowy weather.  How he hated the cold, he was not use to it.  Linis was from the plains of the south, a lush river fed fields waving with high grass, a warm sun over head more days than not.  Now, it was near midnight, it was snowing, and he was keeping himself warm with the bottle of Anudar Rye Whiskey, native of his homeland along the Myure River.

But why now, think of home?  He has been away from if for four years now, in the service of King.  He joined the Queoth Army following the example of his brother, hoping to serve with him.  His brother was station here, a Lieutenant in the Twilight Brigade.  He was a tad bit disappointed that his brother and the current brigade failed to greet them or even arrive at the celebration.  He was anxious to meet him, and to be honest show off, that he, Linis, made it through the training.  Zenta was always showing off for Linis, back home, before the Gyrenna sacked the town.

How he hated the Gyrenna, those monstrous hyena like creatures that stand nearly seven feet tall.  In one fell swoop, they came out of the hills and forests, sacking the plains of Myure River valley.  Many had not a chance, the villages were not heavily fortified, many were simply self-sufficient, and their fighting forces, the town or village men.  Some, had the protection of the Gray Griffins, they were the lucky ones.  He lost many loved ones in that time, far too many.  Now, he waited years to unite with one, but that too was a stolen dream.

It’s a party,” a female voice beckoned him.

Yep,” he said, sipping the whiskey.

Ryneke placed her hands on his shoulders, rubbing them sternly, yet seductively.  He held up the bottle and she took it.  He liked the druidess; she was the squad’s healer and council at times.  She trained with them; on and off, learning some combat skills, but a majority of her time she spent in the wilderness.  That was their common thread, nature.  He was the tracker, he spent a great deal of his training outdoors, in the weather, but it was nothing like this.

She tapped his shoulder with the bottle, he accepted.  “I’m sorry about your brother,” she said sympathetically.

Story of my life,” he answered callously.

Come on now, you. . .”

He stood quickly and faced her, placing a finger over her lips, silencing her.  He cocked his head to the side.  Something was not right, he sensed it, and there was an odd sound lingering. . .

He grabbed her hand, turned, and ran down the steps of the inn.  The door erupted, merely feet from Ryneke’s head as they began their descent.  The wall beside him was bursting outwards; the heat was a welcome as it began to overheat his flesh.  The stairs were tilting, buckling as he gracefully bounced down them, and dragging the druid in tow.

Near the bottom, he threw Ryneke out ahead of him.  He leapt up off the collapsing steps, placing one foot on the burning wall and pushed himself away from the crumbling, burning rubble.  As he flew by her, he grabbed the dazed druid, flipped himself around to face the exploding inn and pulled them both to the deep snow covered ground, sliding to a stop near the thin ice that bordered the river.

Linis lay there what seemed to be an eternity.  Debris landed all around both of them, hissing as it landed in the snow.  Others peppered his body, but he felt no major pain, other than a few thuds and slaps.  The roar was intense. His sensitive hearing was ringing so loud it was extremely painful.  The heat, originally welcomed, was now becoming a threat, as his face and exposed hands were beginning to tingle, as if he was standing too long in the sun.

I can’t breathe,” a muffled cry called out from beneath him.  The snow was nearly a foot and a half deep here, and he was even with the hard snow crust.

S**t,” he exclaimed and rolled off Ryneke and looked at her face.  Her pale hazel eyes tinted orange in the firelight were crying.  He rubbed the tears from her face.  “Are you okay?”

She shook her head, her strawberry-blonde hair burying itself in the snow as she did.  “I’m hit.”

Where?”

Back, shoulder,” she said, tears again falling.  “It hurts Linis.”

He carefully rolled her over onto her right side, examining her back.  It was glass, stained green, two fingers wide and protruding three fingers out, just below her left shoulder blade.  He was not sure how long the entire piece was, or how deep it went, but he knew it had to come out.  He packed snow around it, numbing the pain.

Where’s your pack?” he asked.

She nodded toward the burning Riverside Inn, “At our table.”  There was almost laughter in her voice; it was definitely a sarcastic tone.

Lovely,” he shook his head with a smile.  “This is going to hurt then,” now he spoke with an apologetic tone.

* * *

 

Verne Bryant sipped slowly on the Meade that he spun around on the bar.  The fire pit in the center of the main tavern room of the Riverside little warmed the room, barely.  From here he could just feel its heat.  He supposed that it would probably be actually a lot colder had the fire been out. In Firodar, all days were cold and snowy, especially in Twilight Falls.

You gonna drink that Vee,” Kari asked him.   “There are others down here that would take a free drink.”

Five years Kari,” he answered.

What,” she wiped the bar.

I’ve been working this for over five years.  Are we sure about this?”

The owner of the Riverside stopped what she was doing.  “Vee, if this is not going to work, then a lot of people will have wasted their time.  Believe you me, there are many of important involved in this endeavor.  My organization has stretched itself thin for this.”

You’re right of course, I just miss. . .”

You self-centered arrogant a*s, we all miss home.  Regardless of what side of the mountains you live.  This war affects those from Queoth, Betten, the Saivyn, and the barbarian tribes that have lived in these mountains for centuries.”

            She was right of course.  This war has been raging on for over a century, and its dark fingers of death have slivered over every living being on the northwest side of the Spine.  Hell, it has even affected those in the Free states south of the Queoth Run River.  With rumors have been rising that King Duncan Poole of Alagaunt has announced his displeasure with this entire campaign, which has lingered on and his dissatisfaction with the recent allegiance with the Gyrenna Nation west of the Free states, state of affairs were heating up.

But I’ve been living a lie…”

            She grabbed his hands and smiled.  “We all have and are hon.”

            “No, I’m some one else from a place I despise, doing only the gods know what trying to,” he paused sipping his mead.  “Kari,” he smiled at her as she looked at him with those intense deep blue eyes.  “Kari,” he repeated, “I’m sorry.  I’ve spent over five years playing soldier in…”

Instinctively Verne acted as the ceiling above him rumbled and seemed to ripple and wave.  A blast of intense heat flowed across him as he leapt over the bar as if it were a low step.  Kari Miller tried to step back from him, apparently startled by his sudden and unannounced advance across what most would be a boundary not much different from a border.

Screams from above rang in his ears as he hugged the startled woman and forced her through the doorway into the kitchen.  Debris was now falling around them, some hitting him in the back as he ran with her in his arms for the rear door.  Again, torturous screams of those still in the inn cried out, most in an instant only before they died, some calling for help that would only come after they were already dead.  He wished he could save them all, but at least he could save one.

Flames erupted around him as he pushed the two of them through the door.  The snow around them, where they landed, melted in a single moment as the flash of fire shot out above him, catching the surrounding scrubby a blaze.  He crawled quickly away from the burning building, she followed, and obviously, she was aware now that he did what he did to save her life.  They scurried a few yards, slid down near the riverbank, and rolled over to a position to see the destruction.

Son of a b***h,” Kari said while breathing heavily, “didn’t see that one coming.”

            “You have been tending bar too long Kari, getting rusty.”

            She sat up on her knees, running her hands through her hair.  “It’s all gone, all my work, our work, our stock.”

I guess the organization needs a new warehouse?” he answered sarcastically with a tinge of anger.

I think the Brigade’s going to need their Captain.”

He knelt, brushed his rank insignia on his shoulder.  “I think it is time to put the petty worries aside.”

 



© 2010 Michael Raymond Robinson


Author's Note

Michael Raymond Robinson
Still rough draft. This is a variation of the original first chapter from the first version, now chapter 2 and from a different POV. Updated, complete rough draft of Chapter 2

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Added on August 28, 2010
Last Updated on September 2, 2010
Tags: Adventure, wizards, elf, elves, mystery, dwarf, dwarves, Knight


Author

Michael Raymond Robinson
Michael Raymond Robinson

Robinson, PA



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I'm returning to the Cafe. I look forward to reading and talking with ya'll within these cyberwalls. I am a lover of fantasy, science fiction, and supernatural thrillers. I was influenced at a yo.. more..

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