Chapter 11:

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Action and Adventure  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 240
Comments: 2

11.1

“We better stay here,” Nathan said as he furled in the sail and tied it securely round the mast with a broad leather strap.

“I don't see any reason why we can't go in by ourselves,” Simon complained fingering his sword hilt which he had cunningly hidden under a clean baggy tunic and loose britches. He wasn't impressed by Ted keeping his sword and had decided to make sure he had another. He hadn't even told Nathan or Joe, and so far they hadn't noticed. With that thought he let go of his sword hilt and flicked a short pole between his fingers instead. He had to do something.

“We don't know the way Simon,” Nathan explained patiently. “It was pure chance that we found it last time.”

“I don't believe in chance,” Simon stated defiantly. “It's the same rubbish as luck.”

“Then how do you explain finding the tunnels,” Nathan demanded fiercely. He'd once thought chance didn't exist, but now he defined it separately from luck, which he still didn't believe in.

Simon didn't answer. “We did it once,” he said instead. “Why not again? I know how to get through.”

Nathan rose to his feet angrily. He was about to say something to Simon when he heard the swish of another boat. Instantly he turned and saw it riding toward them with its sails down and its mast lying down its length.

Ted gave the signal for them to follow and slid past. Nathan and Joe took up the ores and pulled after the Dianna's sleek shape. Simon nodded at every little turn. He did know and he was irritated at Nathan for doubting him. He scanned the cliff top for his next mark and started. At the same moment Ted started and knocked the ores from his friends.

Nathan quickly stopped rowing and stared at them.

“What's the matter?” he whispered to Joe.

“I haven't a clue,” Joe whispered back.

The three men in the other boat were talking in whispers. Suddenly Ted jumped lightly across to their boat and spoke in a low voice to Nathan.

“We've got a problem,” he began. “It's not too difficult to counter if we move quickly but it's a bit difficult with you three.”

“What do you mean,” Nathan asked in a whisper, sensing Ted's tension.

“Basically, we've got to land in one of our secret places,” Ted explained uncertain how to word what he wanted to say. “We don't really want to show you three this place,” he said at last, a little falteringly.

“Will we have to land there?” Nathan asked uncertain.

“If you land on the beach you'll be caught,” Ted frankly stated.

“Well what do we do then?” Nathan decided to take a trusting leap. “We'll do whatever you think would be best, for us and you.”

“Would you be willing to be blindfolded while I bring your boat in?” Ted asked hopefully.

“No problem,” Nathan smiled. If the answer was that easy he was more than happy.

“Thanks,” Ted said relieved. He signalled to his friends in the other boat who easily pulled away and turned into the natural harbour. They moved with remarkable speed as they glided through the calm water.

Ted pulled three blind folds from his pocket and handed them to Nathan. Nathan quickly passed one to Joe, who tried in vain to put it on himself. He also handed one to Simon at the stern.

“No,” Simon bluntly refused. “I'm not wearing a blindfold.”

“Don't be difficult Simon,” Nathan said irritably. “Do you want to get caught?”

“I'd rather see my enemy before I get caught than not see him when he pulls me down,” Simon retorted.

“You're not going to get caught if you put it on,” Joe tried to help.

“That depends who the enemy is, doesn't it,” Simon challenged.

Nathan didn't often force any one to do anything, but right then he'd had enough of Simon's cocky comments. He'd had them for the last ten hours and enough was enough. He jumped on Simon and pressed him down in the bottom of the boat. Simon struggled violently but resisted drawing his sword. He was determined to keep that secret for the moment.

“Give me a hand Joe,” Nathan grunted as he attempted to hold Simon down. Joe instantly joined him and so did Ted. They tied Simon's hands behind his back and Nathan held him down on the ground while Ted blindfolded him. Then at Nathan's request, Ted tied Nathan and Joe's blindfolds on. Nathan remained holding Simon down with Joe beside him while Ted brought them in.

When they drew alongside the ledge the tide was close to its highest point. Ted easily handed Joe and Nathan up the ladder to Tom and Terry. It was much trickier to get Simon out. In the end Ted lifted him out and climbed up with him over his shoulder. He put Simon down again on the ledge and asked Nathan to hold him there again. Nathan obliged while the smugglers lifted the boat out of the water and on to the ledge. There wasn't really enough room for two boats and Ted had to fetch some straps and tie it up against the overhanging ledge from rings put there for such a purpose. It took them quite a long time before they turned back to Nathan Joe and the tiresome Simon.

Ted carried Simon while the others were led by the arm. At last Ted took the blindfolds off Nathan and Joe.

“I'm sorry he's such a nuisance,” Nathan apologised to Ted about Simon. “I've taught him to respect those older than him, but he doesn't take teaching.”

“It's not your fault,” Ted said with a slight smile. “He's not even your son.” He paused for a moment then continued. “I'm going to be frank with you Nathan,” he said with some difficulty. “I don't trust him, in more than one way.”

“I don't blame you,” Nathan sighed. “I think you can trust him not to tell anyone about the tunnels, but other than that, I don't know.”

“Nor do I,” Ted agreed fervently. “That's why I want to keep an eye on him whenever I can.”

Nathan simply nodded. He was surprised that Ted let Simon have any freedom at all. If he'd been in Ted's place he thought he wouldn't.

A moment silence fell before Ted broke it.

“Well,” he sighed. “I'll see you two in a few minutes. Or maybe a bit longer.” He turned and carried Simon down one of the side tunnels, wide enough to be a main tunnel. Tom took over and led the way to the room where they'd stayed before.

“I don't know what Ted's going to do,” Tom said. “This new occurrence is going to put pressure on us though.”

“What's happened?” Nathan asked the question that had been plaguing him for ages now.

“All we know at the moment is that the ridge is lined with watchmen. We fear they are soldiers. Some one knows we're in action again and they're taking a harder line than they have for many years. I might be able to tell you more later, but for now that's all we know ourselves.”

He sat down on one of the three legged stools and smiled across the card table at the other two. “What food did you bring?” he asked amiably changing the conversation.

“Ah,” Nathan glanced at Joe. “It's still in the boat.”

“The canvas sacks in the bows,” Terry checked what he'd suspected.

“That's it,” Nathan agreed.

“We can bring them to you,” Tom smiled and rose again. 'Come on Terry.'

Meanwhile Ted took Simon to the room where he'd left him to sleep previously, loosed his bonds and removed the blindfold. Ted had expected Simon to fight him, but he didn't. He stood quietly where Ted had set him down and looked steadily at Ted with his now rather penetrating grey eyes.

“I don't trust you either,” he stated in the calmest tone possible.

“In which case we can call it square,” Ted answered realising where Simon was coming from.

“I won't be square with you until I've pinned you unarmed on the floor with a sword to your neck,” Simon growled. “Preferably your own sword.”

“If that's so,” Ted said with a glare. “It's also so that you see yourself as the underdog, which is correct, so, stay.” He turned and walked out of the room closing the door firmly behind him. He had more important things to deal with first.

 

11.2

“Please,” Adrian begged. “Show me to your master.” His request was greeted with a disapproving snort. “Look,” he went on trying a different tack. “I'll blindfold myself once we're out of the fort if you show me to him. It doesn't matter where he is. I need to see him. Please.”

Slowly the horse lowered its nose and allowed Adrian to put the head collar on and clip a short rope to it. Now that it came to it Adrian was hesitant. He knew he had to, but he didn't know what would happen. He unbolted the stable door and led the horse out and through the side gate into the main courtyard. 'I'm going to give the horse some decent exercise,' Adrian lied to the guard on duty who simply nodded and let him out.

After walking away from the fort some distance Adrian stopped and took a cloth from his pocket. He tied it over his eyes and showed the horse. Then he found the rope and holding quite close to the horse's head let it lead him.

Adrian walked for a long time, one hand on the rope and the other resting on the crossbar of his sword. He found it odd being the one lead, not seeing where they were going and trusting the horse. Trusting it to take him to its master. He knew who the master was, although until then he'd tried to pretend he didn't. He knew.

Suddenly the horse jerked its head up and Adrian lost hold of the rope. The next thing he realised, someone had struck him in the chest. He tried to keep his balance but a fierce kick and another firm punch knocked him flat out on his back. He tried to sit up, but that was a mistake. Again he was kicked and struck until he lay still on his back again. His fingers tightened on his sword hilt but he did not dare draw the blade. His attacker knelt down over him with one knee on his left arm, pinning it to the ground. The blindfold was roughly pulled off and Adrian saw the older of the archer brothers looking fiercely down at him.

“What are you doing here with my horse?” Ted demanded in a low threatening voice.

“I came with the horse so that I could see you,” Adrian said in a frightened voice. “He led me to you.”

“And you've come for what,” Ted growled. He was angry even before he'd seen Adrian. Now he could almost kill.

“I thought you should know what's going on,” Adrian rapidly replied.

“Speak quickly then,” Ted snapped. Although he did want to find out, he had not intended on finding out from a soldier, least of all this one.

“Two of the new commander's scouts saw the villagers leaving the village and walking in land. Then someone else who was walking on the cliffs around 9 saw a boat leaving the area and setting up its sail out at sea. He thought there were two boats but wasn't sure. They told the commander. Also someone told the commander that three men had broken from the navy prison and stolen a boat. The commander put it all together and reckons that there's smuggling going on. Human smuggling. He's determined to catch you and… well he's lined the cliffs and bay with men and ordered a tighter watch on the seaward walls and lighthouse. He's very strict and no one will dare let you escape if they see you, for fear of him. I've never known such a strict commander. I have to really jump to attention for him.”

Ted suddenly noticed Adrian's hand gripping his sword hilt and along with this last statement saw it as a direct threat.

“Give me your sword now or I'll break all your fingers,” he said menacingly.

Adrian didn't hesitate. He knew Ted was capable of doing such a thing and he wasn't ready to test to see if he would this time. He drew his sword quickly and handed it to Ted.

As soon as Ted's fingers closed on the hilt he flicked it round and dropped it across Adrian's neck. Adrian took a sharp breath in, but before he could draw much into his lungs Ted put his right foot down on the end of the blade and pressed down on the hilt with his left hand, leaving his right free for further action. It all happened far too quickly for Adrian to even cry out. One moment he'd handed the sword to Ted, the next he was being half choked by it. He struggled for breath, desperate to hold out.

”And what have you said to your commander,” Ted demanded as he leaned further over Adrian putting force on the sword so that it pressed with the flat of the blade on his wind pipe.

“Nothing,” Adrian squeaked with fear. Even now he didn't know if Ted would turn the sword to cut his throat or would simply not release it and choke him.

“Nothing, hey,” Ted said not really believing Adrian. “Nothing at all. You haven't spoken to him.”

“Not about,” Adrian gasped, “you or anything like…”

Ted flicked the sword off his neck and shoved his head back with his right hand.

“Go on,” he ordered laying the sword back across his neck but not pressing down.

“I only told him that I was trying to restore discipline,” Adrian whimpered once he'd caught his breath. “That's all I said to him. Nothing else.”

“Have you told anyone else anything to tell the commander?” Ted persisted grimly.

“No,” Adrian said almost indignantly. “I don't tell anyone. I never have.”

Ted lifted the sword again and tossed it into his right hand. Adrian watched him slightly less afraid. He didn't like having a sword to his neck, particularly not his own.

“Do you remember the chair?” Ted asked menacingly. The threats weren't over yet.

Adrian shuddered. How could he forget it? He'd been on guard the evening after Ted had been betrayed. He'd stood on the wall facing the path and the natural harbour. He had been ordered to get down off the wall. If he hadn't, Ted would have dragged him down by the throat. He hadn't known about the treachery then, but after twelve hours in Ted's hands he both knew about the treachery and knew that he didn't want to do it himself. The chair had been simply a means for holding him down while Ted hurt and threatened him. He had been hurt quite a lot, but the threats had made him feel as though he was getting out lightly when Ted finally released him.

“Perhaps, with this new commander who you fear so much, you need a bit of reminding,” Ted threatened. He knew that just threatening it was enough to scare Adrian more than any commander could.

“No,” Adrian half whispered hurriedly. “I remember well enough. I won't betray you. I'll never cross what I agreed. I promise you.” He was very frightened. He'd been a very young soldier when he'd first encountered Ted and it hadn't been much more than a year later that he'd been at his mercy after the treachery. Now he feared greatly to cross with Ted. He'd feared this encounter enough, but it had been worse than he'd expected. Now he was so frightened he could hardly speak.

Ted flicked Adrian's sword through his fingers before striking down with the flat of the blade into Adrian's hand.

“Grip it,” he ordered quietly.

“Please no,” Adrian begged, but he gripped the blade all the same. He knew that Ted wouldn't take no for an answer.

Ted calmly and slowly drew the sword out of Adrian's hand, leaving two thin cuts across Adrian's right palm. Adrian didn't flinch or let go of the blade. He didn't dare. He knew how Ted could do it and he was relieved that Ted was not being as ruthless as he could be.

“You better not betray me,” Ted threatened quietly and tilted the blade to let the blood run down its length. Then he laid the slender point of the sword against Adrian's neck. “You look after my horse,” he commanded in a low voice. “He'll let you and only you come near him. If he nudges you he wants you to mount. Do it. Don't dare mistreat him.”

“I'll do as you say,” Adrian whispered, relieved that Ted was not going to take the horse. He'd have to answer to the commander if that happened.

Ted flipped the sword through his fingers again as though he was about to strike Adrian's hand a second time, but he did not. Instead he threw the sword, point down, into the soft earth before turning and walking away.

Adrian didn't move until Ted was out of sight. At last he stood up and pulled his sword out of the ground. He wiped his own blood off the blade and sheathed it.

“I guess you better lead the way back to the fort,” Adrian said quietly to the horse, taking the rope in his left hand. “I don't know the way.”

The horse turned its head and nudged him hard in the stomach.

“You want me to mount,” Adrian asked in disbelief. The horse nudged him again. Reluctantly Adrian mounted and gripped tightly to the horse's neck. He didn't like riding bareback at the best of times and although he'd longed to ride previously, he was worried about riding this horse. However Ted had commanded that should the horse wish him to mount, he should do it, and so he did.

A swift canter and seven minutes brought him to the gates of the fort where he dismounted and hailed Alexander who was on guard.

“Ho there, Alexander,” he called. ”It's Adrian. Let me in.”

Alexander laughed and disappeared from his post on the wall. A few seconds later the gate swung open and Adrian lead the horse through. 

“You dared to mount him?” Alexander whispered in awe as he backed away from the horse that seemed to be eying him menacingly.

“He sometimes lets me,” Adrian uncertainly replied. Perhaps this would be a one-off, perhaps not. Adrian was out of his comfort zone and not only did the horse know it, he seemed to like it. He led the horse through the side gate and into its stable. Then he unclipped the head collar and put it away. The horse looked at him rather mournfully and made it clear to Adrian that it didn't want to be in the stable, but Adrian couldn't do anything right then. He had to be on duty at the gate in five minutes.

“I'll walk you later again,” he whispered, reluctant to speak out loud since some other guards were passing as the change of duty neared.

The horse lowered its head as though in a nod before turning and drinking from the bucket of water.

 

11.3

Simon fingered his sword hilt sullenly. 'The underdog,' he muttered. He knew that Ted was right but he didn't want to admit it to himself. He wanted to be someone with authority and in control. It was so obvious that he wasn't, but he wouldn't accept it. “I'll show him that I'm not the underdog,” he growled and crossed to the door. He didn't really know what he was going to do but he knew that he wasn't going to stay. He would go. At first he considered following Ted. He opened the door and glanced up and down the corridor but he'd left it too long already. Ted was out of sight. For a few minutes he stood still in the doorway simply listening. He was near the cave he'd found. He knew that. The room was the same one as before and Ted had said it was near the door, but he had no idea in which direction the cave was. “I suppose that I could explore and if I find the cave then it's a bonus,” he thought and turned to his right.

He turned left at the first junction he came to and explored the chambers and parts of the side tunnels along the way. Time slipped by without him realising it. He went quite a way down the various tunnels and joined other tunnels at the junctions. He noted the oil lanterns with their wicks trimmed and ready for use and as he went further in he noticed that the oil lanterns gave to clay lamps on brackets, candles in battered lanterns and pine torches. Engrossed, he didn't notice the minutes slipping by and the first hour passing and moving to be joined with a second. He knew his way back and paid particular attention at doors in the tunnels. He remembered how he'd been caught the first time and didn't want to be trapped again, but he doubted he would be. He was being much more careful this time. He knew the way back and should he need to he had his lock picks in his pocket now. He'd brought them with the sword from home.

Ted's emotions were muddled as he pulled the bolder away from the natural cave in the Nitesah valley. So many things had come to light. There was a new commander in the fort. The men were doing their job better than they had done for the last fourteen years. Adrian had sought for him for the first time since they'd first met. The horse, Ted's own horse who he'd lost, was alive, but in the hands of the soldiers.

He turned to the rock and heaved it back over the entrance. Then he moved slowly to the back of the cave, to the second door and the stairs down. At the bottom of the stairs he picked up his speed and walked briskly down the numerous tunnels.

There was so much to think of. The danger the commander posed to him didn't really bother him much so long as Adrian didn't talk. Ted didn't think much on it. Instead he focused his thoughts on his horse. Why had he let the soldiers keep him? He could have so easily taken the horse and sent Adrian back empty handed. Why hadn't he? He could easily feed and look after him. He'd be better off with Ted, so why hadn't he taken him from the soldiers. He didn't know.

Although Ted was deep in thought he was still very alert to his surroundings. When he turned into the tunnel where he'd left Simon, he instantly saw that the door was wide open. He ran to the room and glanced inside. There was no one there. He looked behind the door in case Simon was hiding, but he was not there. He turned and glanced up and down the tunnel. Which way would Simon have gone? He turned left and ran down the passage. At the main tunnel he turned left again and continued down the right hand fork in the tunnel to the cave. There was no sign of Simon. He ran back to the fork and took the left hand way. He hoped Simon hadn't gone this way. He glanced quickly down the side tunnels until he came to the steppes. He took them two at a time and waded in the water as far as the passage to the light. Then he paused. Simon couldn't have gone this way. The tide was only now low enough to get to the light without swimming. Simon would have not wanted to get wet if he was to keep his exploring secret. Ted turned and waded back to the water steps. He walked slowly up and retraced his way to the main tunnel. He considered seeking for Simon further down the tunnel but then decided not to. It would be easy to find him if he was there. However if he'd turned right out of the room, he could be anywhere. He considered telling Tom and Terry, but then decided not to. They would only say that he'd been foolish to let Simon go free and this was the consequence. They could help search, but Ted didn't fancy their criticism all the time. He would search for himself.

He ran back to the room and picked up the lamp that stood on the shelf by the door. Then he lit it and headed out into the tunnel again. With a light it would be very easy to spot Simon, should Simon try to hide in a dark corner. He turned right and made his way down to the junction.

An hour passed. Ted continued to search. He'd seen nothing. He heard nothing. He had no idea where Simon was. He was getting despondent. He'd gone far down many of the tunnels, but the problem was that they branched. He returned to the room and stood still in the doorway. He thought about his problem. “Where would I go?” he found himself asking. “I'd stick to the tunnels that look like main ones,” he answered and turned right. The tunnel widened that way. At the junction he paused. Which way would he go then? Left. Why? What made him think left? Ted thought about it. The answer came to him suddenly. Left there was a door with a symbol on it. Subconsciously symbols created interest. He turned and went quickly down the tunnel. He now knew what he was looking for. Main tunnels and symbols. As he reached the third junction he suddenly knew where he'd find Simon. He tried to reject the thought, but he could see the map of the tunnels in his head and it was possible for Simon to be there. In fact it was more than possible. That area had a lot of symbols. He darted down a side tunnel and took a few shortcuts. He would start looking there.

Ted glanced up and down the approach tunnel. Now he had heard something. He kept still and listened. There was footfall in the tunnel that lead to this one. Ted quietly slipped away from the wall and edged down the tunnel to the junction where the three ways met. He locked the door to the tunnel he was in and ran back to a side passage. He locked and unlocked several doors as he worked his way through the side tunnels to the place where Simon was. He peered down the tunnel and saw that Simon wasn't in sight. He'd obviously turned into the other tunnel. That was alright. The tunnel was blocked off after a short distance by a locked door and there were no other exits. He shielded his lamp with one hand and creped down to the junction. He checked that the one tunnel was properly locked then turned left into the other.

As soon as Simon heard the footfall behind him he ran down the tunnel he'd just entered. When he saw the door ahead he paused. He tried the handle but as he'd suspected, it was locked. All closed doors seemed to be locked. Hurriedly he glanced left and right for another way out. There were only six doors and all were closed except for the left hand one nearest to the locked tunnel door. He darted through the half open doorway and slipped in behind the door, cowering against the wall and gripping his sword.

Ted pressed lightly with his foot on the doors as he passed them. He suspected that they were locked, but he couldn't be sure. He paused outside the fourth door on the left before kicking it fully open and striding in. He raised the lamp to shine on the walls of the plain square empty room. He turned to see if Simon was behind the door as he expected.

Simon had been waiting for Ted to walk into the middle of the room so that he could slip out and back to where he was meant to be. He hoped to get back without Ted catching him, but when Ted turned just inside the door and shone the light on his face he decided to escape more obviously. As Ted turned, Simon swung his left fist round and struck the lamp from Ted's hand. The lamp flew from Ted's light grip and bounced off the wall, before splintering on the stone floor. Clay shards scattered across the flagstones and oil sprayed over it all. The light instantly went out and Simon tried to push past Ted.

Although Ted had not expected this fast move, he was not easy to get past. He pushed Simon back and reached for his sword. He thought that Simon would give up at the threat of the sword, but he was wrong. As soon as Simon saw Ted move to draw his sword he reached in under his tunic and drew his own. The blades clashed against each other and echoed off the walls of the tunnel outside. The two blades clattered, clanged and scraped against one another as they fought. Ted was taken aback by Simon's readiness and determination, but not that he had a sword. He had in fact suspected it. Simon was irritated that he'd been found and was determined to win and prove that he wasn't the underdog. As a result, they both fought hard.

Ted won. He knocked Simon's blade aside and pressed his sword point to Simon's neck. Simon had to step back against the wall, but he didn't give up so easily. He struck at Ted's arm and tried to get away from the sword point. Ted realised then that the only way he could really win was to disarm and bind Simon. Instantly he flicked his short broad blade away from Simon's neck and hooked the sword from the back. As Simon tried to flick his sword round to get loose Ted grabbed hold of his wrist and twisted it back until Simon let the weapon drop to the ground.

Ted forced Simon down on to his knees and got both his hands behind his back. He found a piece of rope in his pocket and tied Simon's wrists tightly. Then he blindfolded Simon and took him out of the room. In the area he'd blocked off from Simon he locked the door behind him. Then he went down a large side tunnel, unlocked another door on his right and locked it behind him. There he put Simon's sword down in a box and searched Simon. He took his tinder box and lock picks from him as well as his sword sheath. Next he went through two further doors, locking them behind him. Eventually he took the blindfold off Simon and set him with his back to the wall opposite a small side chamber with its door open.

“Stay there,” he ordered quietly in the dark. “Don't be an irritating little boy. Just do as you're told and stay.”

“I'm not a little boy,” Simon retorted defiantly. “I'm a young man, so don't treat me like a child.”

Ted filled a small clay lamp from the side chamber and turned back to Simon. “In whose eyes are you a man?” he asked quietly as he struck a light and lit a torch on the wall, leaving the lamp in the room. 

“I'm fourteen, even if I don't look it,” Simon said a little angry, but not with Ted's doubting him to be a man. “I'm not a child anymore. I can fight and…”

“You think it yourself then,” Ted interrupted. “Well, all I can say to that is that you may think of yourself as a man but you are foolish as a child.” He leaned forward and brushed Simon's hair away from his face. He looked down at Simon and smiled slightly. This irritated Simon. Every movement Ted made showed that he thought of Simon as a child.

“I see you think I'm a child,” Simon growled through clenched teeth. “I don't care what you think,” he lied, trying to look tough. “Just don't treat me like a child. I'm a man and I want to be treated like one. Don't be all pathetic and soft with me.”

Ted watched his face carefully. Simon really meant it, but he didn't know how Ted would treat a man. Ted turned away and went into the small chamber. He rummaged briefly in a crate that stood under a shelf at the far end. Then he returned to Simon carrying the torch in one hand and the thing he'd taken from the crate in the other. He put the torch in the bracket above the small chamber door on the outside and looked at Simon.

“You want to be treated like a man,” he murmured.

Simon nodded.

“You don't understand,” Ted murmured. “But I'll tell you what Simon. I'll let you see how I would treat a man in part. You won't stand it long, but then I'll get your obedience more quickly, won't I.”

“If you're suggesting I'm a wimp,” Simon began almost threateningly.

“I'm not suggesting that you're a wimp,” Ted interjected calmly. “I'm saying that I am very heavy handed with men.”

“I am a man and I can take what a man can take,” Simon said defiantly.

Ted shrugged as though to say 'We'll see.' Then he grabbed hold of Simon and pulled him forward, tripped him and forced him down on the stone flags. As soon as Simon was face down on the ground, Ted seized his wrists and pulled them up behind his back so that Simon gasped. He held them tightly there with his left hand and picked up the shackled he'd brought from the room. They slipped easily on to Simon's wrists. The difficulty was tightening them enough. Ted quickly realised that they weren't small enough. He took them off again and letting go of Simon, ran into the chamber and rummaged for smaller ones. When he returned, Simon had managed to get to his knees. In response Ted simply pushed him down again and pulled his arms a little further up behind his back. He shackled his wrists together and then removed the rope. Roughly he pulled Simon to his feet and made him go ahead of him into another small chamber. This chamber was more like a cell. It was about forefeet wide and six long. The ceiling was quite high but it only made the floor space seem less. Ted turned Simon to face him at the end wall of the cell.

“Listen Simon,” he said almost gently. “Don't interrupt, just listen. You are only a boy, but I am going to treat you as I would a weak man. You are not strong enough to stand up to how I'd treat a strong man, whatever you may say. But what I want you to understand now is this. You have opted for this and there's no going back. You will submit in the end. There is no other option. I won't let you go free like I did before. I was far too lenient then. I know that and I won't be lenient in that way again. You will submit, and if you oppose me after that I will treat it as treachery. Do you understand?”

“I think so,” Simon said hesitantly. “But what do you mean by submit?”

“Completely, give, up,” Ted replied separating the words and pausing between each. “You will do “Not really,” Simon admitted. “But I'll have plenty of time to work it out if I submit at all as you say.”

Ted smiled. “It may seem like a long time,” he responded calmly, “but you will give quickly.”

Simon shrugged. “We'll see,” he said in almost a whisper.

“In deed,” Ted averred and spun Simon round. He pressed him against the wall and tightened the shackles. Then he put a leather strap over the oddly shaped part of the shackle that looked like a shoehorn running up the outside of his arms. He looped the strap round both and pulled it tight, fixing it in place with the buckle on one end. The result was that Simon's elbows were drawn closer together and his shoulders and arms hurt from the strain. Simon tried to pull away, but Ted was too strong. Simon couldn't even slide along the wall, never mind out of Ted's grip. Once the strap was secured Ted turned away and left the cell, closing the door behind him. Simon heard the key turn in the lock and the bolts drawn across at the bottom and the top. He sank to the ground. He knew he couldn't escape and he was anxious about what Ted had said regarding submitting. Surely he wouldn't submit. He didn't feel so confidant now.

 

11.4

The light boat with its sails spread full in the tempestuous wind fled across the mounting waves and juddered at every frothing peak before lurching down towards the next liquid slope. The crew clung to ropes and tried in vain to draw in the sail.

“Turn her quick!” the one man cried to either of his two companions.

Both of them fell upon the tiller and hauled it round. The boat pitched violently to one side and the youngest of the trio fell over into the churning water. One hand clutched at a rope that was not tied properly and kept paying out from its coil. The man who had called let go of the sail and grabbed hold of the rope. He pulled his friend back to the boat and heaved him in.

“We've got to get the sail in!” the man at the tiller yelled. The other two flung themselves at the task and with all their strength pulled the sail down and secured the wildly swinging boom.

Suddenly a huge looming shape rose up behind them and lurched towards them like a monstrous beast. The wave in its wake rose up and tossed the small boat up and to one side. A wash of salty water swamped the boat and slammed into their faces. Now beside them, the Dread-Storm thrust its way towards the shore where they had been heading. At the bows the heavy figure of Harry leered at them. He'd spotted them in their distress and intended to cause them more trouble.

“Give me the ores!” the young man cried.

“The Jib,” the man at the Tiller reminded in a shout. 'Get the jib in!'

“I'm trying!” the third man called while the youngest pulled hard on the ores.

“Port, port!” the rower hollered.

“I'm trying!” the helmsman called back.

The man at the jib shouted something but a clap of thunder drowned his words and left him floundering with a taught sail and wildly flapping ropes. One rope whipped round and struck him across the face like a rod knocking him backwards, but he did not fall.

“Turn left! Port!” they were both shouting now at the man at the rudder. “We don't want to go on the rocks!”

The Dread-Storm rolled on the waves beside them and turned across them, taking the same direction that they were presently on. The bows rose and the sails billowed in the wind. The bow wave fell down and shattered its power against the more powerful body of the rock. Harry saw for a moment his doom before the Dread-Storm splintered her bows on the same rocks that had annihilated the wave she drove before her. The sails refused to drop at the ship's halt. The wind blew on and pressed the ship down on to the rocks. The boat shuddered with fear and her crew were flung aside like straw. Men struggled in the sea before being hurled on the rocks and pounded by the fury of the sea. With a dying sigh the Dread-Storm sank backwards into the sea's embrace and dropped down beneath her restless surface.

At the last moment Harry pulled himself over the rail and flung himself away from the ship and into the sea. Behind him the water sucked hungrily at the Dread-Storm's diminished hulk and dragged at anything near her. Men who were trying to get away with the life boat were engulfed by the waves, never to surface again. Harry swam with all his strength against the pull of the water and tried to escape the Teeth of the rocks. He could see the small flimsy boat pitching on the bosom of the sea some way off. They were laughing at him. “Fool,” he thought. That was what they were thinking.

On the small boat the three men stared in disbelief. The jib was now down and they were ready to row to the beach, but they didn't at once. They simply watched in astonishment. Their incapability to turn the boat had caused the demise of the Dread-Storm. They had accidentally destroyed their pursuer.

 

11.5

 

Joe sat in the middle of the large room they'd been allocated and sighed.

“I'm bored,” he announced but Nathan didn't respond. “Dad, I'm bored.”

“You said,” Nathan replied in a tone that showed that he was also bored.

“Yes, but you didn't respond,” Joe justified.

“Do I need to?” Nathan asked wearily.

Joe sighed again and stared out of the open door into the plain empty tunnel. They couldn't go exploring. They weren't allowed and Nathan didn't seem to want to anyway. He was worried about getting lost. Joe sighed a third time. He didn't want to go far. He just wanted to look at the other rooms on that stretch of tunnel. There weren't many rooms, but it was better than nothing.

He turned and looked at the room. It was large and spacious. It was divided into two areas by a curtain which was presently pulled aside. One half had a few bunks along the wall with shelves above them for belongings. The other half had a large table in one corner for eating and several chairs round a lower card table near the middle of the room. Nathan was laboriously playing patience at this table while Joe moped.

“What's the point in us being here?” Joe asked his father irritably. “It's not like we're doing anything.”

Nathan ignored the question and pushed all the cards into a pack again.

“You've been playing cards for the last hour,” Simon complained.

“Have you got anything better to do?” Nathan retorted now also irritable.

“I know what Sime would do,” Joe muttered.

“I know he'd go exploring but we're not going to,” Nathan said quickly.

“I wasn't meaning that,” Joe smiled. “We've already talked that one through.”

“Then what do you mean?” Nathan asked baffled. Simon was strange to him, but how did Joe know what he'd do. It was true that Joe was closer than anyone else to Simon, but that didn't always mean he knew what Simon would do.

“He'd practice sword fighting or knife fighting or archery or something else like that,” Joe explained.

“Are you so bored that you want to practice fighting?” Nathan asked in disbelief.

“No,” Joe laughed. “But I am bored. Very bored. I thought we were meant to be part of this activity.”

“We are,” Nathan replied uncertainly. “It was our idea in the first place. We started it all and we're the ones getting food for the villagers and organising them to come to the boats.”

“And what do we gain from it?” Joe challenged. “What benefit is there for us? They've organised that the villagers repay them when they have money or goods, but what about us? Are we going to get anything?”

“Joe, we didn't do it for our gain,” Nathan protested. “I know they're getting paid, but that's not why we're doing it. We're doing it for the people.”

“I still don't think it's right,” Joe muttered. “If I dare say, I think they're putting us in the dangerous places, relaying messages and the like. We're the ones who could get caught and killed by the soldiers. They hide in their tunnels and send us to bring the villagers to them. We're risking our lives while they're enjoying the food and safety we bring them.”

“Joe,” Nathan half exclaimed. “Be quiet. They may be listening nearby.”

“They're not anywhere near,” Joe protested. “But it's true isn't it.”

“Yes ok. It's true,” Nathan relented. “We're just pawns in their game.”

“Are we on the winning side?” Joe asked wearily. ”Are we playing into the enemy's hands?”

“That depends who the enemy is, doesn't it,” Nathan said slowly.

“That's what Simon said,” Joe smiled. Then his face became serious. “Do you think he knew this would happen?””

Nathan didn't answer.

“Dad,” Joe prompted.

“Look Joe,” Nathan said quietly. “Nothing has happened yet. We've not been put in direct danger. They took us to a secret harbour so that we wouldn't get caught on the beach.”

“But dad,” Joe protested. “I didn't see any watchmen on the cliffs. I certainly didn't see any soldiers. They could have faked it to get our boat away from us.”

“They could have taken our boat much more easily another way,” Nathan pointed out. “But I agree with you on one point. They do have our boat and without it we can't leave here. They are controlling us.”

“We don't even know the way to the cave,” Joe added. “We're as good as prisoners.”

“We're not prisoners,” Nathan smiled again. “At least not like we were. We're just restricted. But at least he doesn't mistrust us. Simon's in trouble I reckon.”

“I'd say,” Joe agreed with much nodding. “He's been awkward all along. They won't let him free, I'm sure.”

“Don't be so pleased about it Joe,” Nathan reprimanded. “He's your cousin.”

“I heard something about that last night,” Joe muttered.

“What do you mean,” Nathan asked sharply. “What have you heard?”

“Just a rumour,” Joe tried to dismiss it. “But I suspect it's true,” he added with a mutter.

“If you've heard that your mum and Simon's dad had an affair…” Nathan began but Joe interrupted indignantly.

“No! Mum would never do something like that. Anyway, Simon's nothing like mum.”

“Well, some idiots believe that lie,” Nathan growled. “Trying to put dishonour to the name of Kin. Who Simon's mother is doesn't matter. The point is he's your cousin and my nephew. He might be rather wild, but that's nothing to do with us.”

Joe laughed and nodded. 'Wild' fitted what he'd heard.

 

11.6

I remember how the wind dropped completely and I worried about the planned sailing. I was standing on top of the tower and as I looked towards the sea I lifted my face into the breeze I expected to be there, but there was none. The air was still and warm. The sun hung like a golden sphere in the expansive clear blue sky. The grasses stood still and stiff in the crisp air. Nothing moved. The birch tree was silent and the village below me lay peacefully waiting, anticipating the coming of the two men who had brought hope to their lives. I feared then that their hope would be broken that evening. They wouldn't come, or if they did, it would be to say that the sailing was off. There was no wind. I feared that these two men would be as inconstant as the wind or the moon and the tides of time would wipe them from our memory, only leaving the shattered hope.

I went down to the soldier's room. It wasn't lunch time. That had already been but I wanted to be with him a bit. It was always better to be with someone who understood. I couldn't share my thoughts with anyone in the village. They wouldn't listen and Jude was too busy. I wanted to tell the soldier, Paul, but I didn't.

I entered the room quietly and crossed to the window where he stood looking out, just as I had done from the tower top above his room. He smiled when he saw me and stepped a little to one side so that I could also look out. I gave him a side on nod which he now understood to mean, 'what are you thinking about?' he didn't answer at once but looked out across the land.

Then he turned towards me and spoke quietly, as though in a dream. “I was thinking about my family,” he said. His deep brown eyes searched my face for a response. I showed interest and he continued. “My father is a carpenter. He's out of business at the moment, but after the war he says he will build me a beautiful house with a large spacious kitchen and a separate dining room and two bedrooms and two private work rooms. It will be built of the finest wood and furnished handsomely. My mother is a weaver. She is always busy even with the war although now she mostly makes cloth for soldiers. Her cloth is the best in twenty miles of our family home and I haven't seen anything better since I've come down this way, although I haven't seen what your village or the other people round here can do, because of the war you see.”

I nodded and waited for him to go on.

“My sister Mary is married to a man called Jacob. He's a bit like your brother Jude. A confident bold young man with a lot of authority. The villagers obey your brother more willingly than the army obeys their commanders.”

I smiled and he laughed. It was obvious that Jude had a lot of authority and I was pleased.

“Is there any competition in your family?” he asked me.

I shook my head. Jude and I never argued and no one else would even say no to Jude. I avoided confrontations with words and so there was no competition really.

“Nor in mine,” he told me. “I have only one sister and no brothers. My sister has a new born daughter. She's very sweet. She has the finest fair hair you've ever seen and tiny little fingers with astonishing strength. Her name's Rachel. I also have cousins. Ruben, Michel, Ruth and Ester. They're all older than me except Ester who is fourteen. Do you have lots of brothers and sisters or is it just you and Jude?”

I held up six fingers. He laughed.

“You have six brothers?” he asked in disbelief.

I grinned and shook my head. I held up 3 fingers and nodded.

“Three brothers and three sisters?” he checked. “That's a good split. And you don't have competition between you all. I'm impressed. My sister and I don't argue because there are only us.”

We stood still for a moment, looking out of the window at the village which was now coming to life. A few older children were running in the square while their parents drew water from the well. I could hear Jude calling me from the bottom of the tower. I had to go. He understood and made it easy. He turned from the window and murmured almost sadly, “Is that your brother calling?” I nodded and walked towards the door. “I'll see you soon,” he half asked and I nodded. “I like your company,” he said as I opened the door and stepped through. I gave him a final smile and nod, closed the door and bounded down to Jude with my rapier swinging openly at my side. For a few minutes my concerns were forgotten and thoughts of pleasant life as a family ran through my head. My family, his family, the families of each villager. We all wanted normality. We all wanted peace.

 


Submitted: July 17, 2012

© Copyright 2022 Cwester. All rights reserved.

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Comments

Julie March

And once again you've enthralled me with yet another great chapter!

Wed, July 18th, 2012 3:40am

Author
Reply

Thank you. I'm really delighted that you are enjoying it.

Wed, July 18th, 2012 2:28am

andreamay

I wrote a cry for help after your answer to my comment after the fifth chapter. I doubt you've read it. After the third chapter my comment twice disappeared! Could you give me some clues? There's no other place I could ask you this!

Then, I know you are a perfect gentleman, but there's no need to thank me 20 times, after every chapter of your book. As for your spelling, don't worry I know the way your software works (now I do after getting informed on a site). And I am not much wiser about it, for my misspelled words usually get underlined with red!

Now in this chapter you have a marvaless description of that sea storm and the shipwreck. It has a good tempo and adjectives are strong and again so appropriate. The weight you gave to this scene makes it the central scene of the chapter. Was it your intention?

There are a few corrections to be made:

11.3
When Ted tries to find Simon. Quote: He glanced quickly down the side tunnels until he came to the steppes. (Did you really want to write "steppes", or it was to be "steps"?)
Quote: This chamber was more like a cell. It was about forefeet wide and six long ("forefeet"? Or maybe "four feet"?)
Quote: "Completely, give, up," Ted replied separating the words and pausing between each. "You will do "Not really," Simon admitted. (Look carefully at this sentence, please. Something is, seems to me, missing here. Quotation mark for sure, but something more. I can't guess what.)

Going to the next.
At the end I am going to write a review on the novel as a whole.

A little question for the future: What does "Billum" mean?

The last paragraph of 11.3, Quote: "In deed," Ted averred and spun Simon round. ("Indeed", isn't it?)
11, 4
Only quotation marks need to be changed. Quote 'Get the jib in!' ("Get the jib in!")

Sat, May 24th, 2014 1:46pm

Author
Reply

Ok. one big thanks for all! the best place to ask questions like that or generally chats on people's main page, like where people make reading requests etc.

wiit that you couldn't work out, I don't blame you. It took me quite a while to work out what I meant. it should have read, “Completely, give, up,” Ted replied separating the words and pausing between each. “Do you understand now?”
“Not really,” Simon admitted. “But I'll have plenty of time to work it out if I submit at all as you say.”
I hope that helps. I've corrected it on my computer as usial and when I get a chance I'll change it and the other things on Booksie.
"Billum" is a refferance to my other novel which I have only a few chapters up on Booksie. personally, I think it is better, but different. it is more traditional with good and bad characters.
I didn't particularly intend the shipwreck to be the focus or centre of the chapter, but it may as well be. it is a major event in one respect and effects the whole story as you will see.

Sat, May 24th, 2014 7:45am

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