Chapter 14:

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

Reads: 215
Comments: 2

14.1

“What's the time,” Ted asked anyone who had an idea.

“Twenty to midnight,” Simon answered without a hesitation.

“Probably something round there, yes,” Terry agreed.

“We'll sail in about ten minutes or so. The villagers are ready,” Tom added in his thoughts on the time.

“Am I going or not?” Terry asked.

“It's up to you,” Ted shrugged. “I personally think you should take it easy, but it's your choice.”

“I'll stay then,” Terry agreed with his leader.

“I'll be back in ten or so minutes,” Ted said rising to his feet.

“Where are you going?” Tom inquired. His brother had been doing a lot without explanation recently.

“I'm going to sort out someone who knows too much,” Ted replied grimly.

“Who?” Terry and Tom asked in unison. Simon could guess.

“Clamston,” Ted answered shortly and opened the door.

“What if he doesn't”?' Tom began.

Ted answered before he finished the sentence. "I'll kill him. I'm not taking risks now. I've got enough on my hands as it is.”

The smugglers nodded and Ted left the room.

He jogged up the tunnels and stairs until he came to the gully cave. There he picked up a knife from its hiding place in the wall and scrambled out of the low exit. A matter of seconds later he was crouched in the shrubbery at the head of the gully.

He saw the two guards coming round the corner of the fort. It was just too bad that one would die without a chance of defence. He fingered the knife hilt and ran his finger across the rough wood of the sheath. It was a very old knife and had been used a lot, although few had ever thrown it as he discovered he could. He untied the thick leather straps that held the knife in place and let them hang loose from the copper ring on the sheath through which they were threaded. The two men came closer. The one guard seemed to be reprimanding the other and neither of them was paying close attention to their surroundings. As they neared Ted recognised Adrian as the one guard and quickly retied the straps, although only loosely. Then he saw Adrian walking out ahead of the other guard. He walked briskly to the far end of their patrol area and turned. Only then did the Sergeant, Alexander, walk down to the cliffs from the dirt path. As he passed Ted's hiding place, Ted watched Adrian. He seemed withdrawn and sullen. Ted had heard of Adrian's plan. Obviously it hadn't gone too well. Ted smiled to himself. At least Adrian wouldn't do anything. He wouldn't dare.

Ted leaped up and ran towards Alexander. Alexander heard him and turned, but too late. Before Alexander had a chance to reach for his sword, or ready himself at all, Ted was on top of him. He went down easily. Once he was down though, he fought hard. He tried to get up and draw his sword, but Ted didn't allow him the chance. He struck and kicked him until Alexander couldn't fight for his dizziness. Then Ted pinned his left arm at his side and took Alexander's sword from its sheath.

“Adrian!” Alexander cried out in fear. “Adrian, help me!”

Ted turned to look at Adrian. He was standing very still and very pale. He looked like he wanted to put his hand on his sword for the sense of security, but he didn't dare. Slowly he pulled his gaze away and turned to face the sea. He would do nothing.

Ted smiled and brought the sword round and down on to Alexander's neck. Alexander flinched as he saw the naked sword falling on his neck. He was relieved to feel the flat and not the edge, but a moment later he wasn't as pleased as he first thought. Ted pressed down with his foot and left hand on the sword, just as he had done to Adrian.

“Who has a death wish,” Ted threatened quietly.

“Adrian, help,” Alexander gasped in fear.

“Adrian hasn't got a death wish,” Ted mocked. “That's why he's not helping you. Be glad it is Adrian with you though. Else it would probably be two dead men that Crool finds lying here tomorrow.”

Alexander stared wildly at Ted, the words only now starting to make sense to him. “Please, he gasped, now speaking to Ted. “Spare me.” He tried to draw breath but couldn't.

“I don't see why I should,” Ted replied coldly. “You've shot at us and hurt my friend and you're threatening to tell Crool what you've found out or guessed. Give me one reason why I should even consider sparing you.”

Alexander couldn't speak even if he'd known what to say. He felt as though he was already dying, and in fact he was. Ted was considering throttling him with his own sword. Even so, Ted did have mercy.

“Say I gave you one more chance,” he suggested. “What would you do?”

“I'd do as you say,” Alexander faltered.

“And what if it contradicted what Crool told you?” Ted demanded and pressed more firmly down on the sword. “What would you do then?”

“Whatever you say,” Alexander wheezed.

“I'm not so sure you would,” Ted replied calmly. “Adrian didn't. Adrian shot, even if he didn't hit. Doubtless you'd do the same.  It's because of you that he's alive at all. I don't think I believe that you'll do as I say. No one has so far.”

“Please,” Alexander begged. ”Please give me a chance. Let me have a chance.”

“Why?” Ted demanded in an intimidating manner. “So I've got more people to keep my eyes on?”

Alexander tried to say 'No,' but he had no breath to say it. His sight began to blur.

“Why should I trust you when you were going to cause trouble for your own friend, never mind your enemy …?”

Alexander blacked out.

Ted tilted his head back and allowed him to revive. He hadn't actually intended letting him faint, but he knew that it would work to his advantage. He sat back on his heels and looked around. There were fewer guards on the cliffs than the first day he'd seen them, but even two was two more than before Crool had come. The commander obviously had other plans. Suddenly he noticed Adrian watching him.

“Please don't kill him,” Adrian almost whispered, but he wasn't far away and Ted heard his words clearly.

Ted leaped up and crossed the distance between them in a second. Adrian, realising his mistake, raised his arms to cover his face and plead for mercy. He was struck down instantly and did not try to rise. Ted drew a fighting knife from his belt and forced it between Adrian's teeth. The tip pressed against Adrian's tongue. Adrian was filled with terror.

“You be quiet,” Ted growled. “You understand?”

A frightened sound was all Adrian could manage, but it was all Ted required.

“Get over there and guard your mouth,” Ted snapped, releasing Adrian and sheathing the fighting knife. He turned back to Alexander who was just coming to himself again. Alexander had not been able to see much, but he'd heard how frightened Adrian was and that was enough for him.

“Please give me a chance,” he whispered. “Just one chance. Please.”

Ted considered and nodded. “Ok,” he murmured. “One chance.” He tossed the sword point down into the ground beside Alexander's neck, turned and apparently jumped over the cliffs.

Ted smiled as he leant against the cliff face for a moment to catch his balance. He enjoyed that trick. It always startled the soldiers. They couldn't understand how he did it. He turned and crawled along the ledge to the gully again and watched from the cover of the bushes.

Adrian hadn't moved from where Ted had sent him. Alexander had moved, but only to push his sword away from his neck. Slowly he now got to his knees and looked around. He could see no one.

“Adrian,” he whispered.

Adrian turned and came across.

“I'm sorry,” he whispered as Adrian helped him up. “I didn't realise it was like that.”

“Come on,” Adrian replied without acknowledging what Alexander had said. “We are meant to be on guard.”

Alexander nodded and turned along the cliff top, away from the gully.

Ted slipped back to the cave, put the knife away again, tied as it should be and ran down to the Dianna. They were waiting for him when he got there. Terry was on the platform with a casting pole, Tom and Simon were in the boat with the ores in their hands and the villagers were sitting under the canvas. Ted jumped down and took the tiller.

“Let's go,” he said with a smile. “We won't have a problem with being shot at tonight.”

 

14.2

“Did I tell you about the time when we got a whole village to join the army?” The brash young soldier by the name of Clarence Bates asked the small party who gathered round him while he told tails of adventure and daring, most of which were exaggerated out of proportion. Another small group of soldiers were playing cards and the third was eating for no reason other than them being bored. It was because of such people that others went hungry. Adrian was alone in the corner of the room, writing a letter to his nephew. He'd not written to anyone from his brother's family for several years, but the war had made him feel lonely and he often thought of his family in a different way to previously. He missed them, but how ever hard he tried, he could not write what he felt on paper and one letter after the other he consigned to the fire. At this point he was stuck after scribing the address and his nephew's name and without intending to, he found himself listening to the young soldiers yarn.

“Well you see,” Clarence declared loudly. “I was in the front line of the battle against this town where there were many rebels and political enemies. The town's people were sheltering them and helping them. So we marched in with our armour all bright and fresh and we drove them behind their walls. We must have killed about twenty rebels before they all hid in the city and cowered behind their dikes. They shot at us and the man beside me got an arrow in the eye, but he still fought on. Many of us were wounded but we didn't break rank or cry out or retreat. We fought on. We shot back at them and they hid behind the walls. Even so we got them down.”

“Yes,” one of the other soldiers butted in. “We surrounded them didn't we.”

“Well, as I was saying,” Clarence continued with a proud air. “Then we surrounded the town and besieged it for about five hours before our noble Captain Crool, gave the order to attack. We came up against their stonework and we breached their defences and took the fortified city. We dragged out every man woman and child and bound them with chains. Those who fought back were beaten and one woman who tried to hurt our valiant Captain lost her life for her folly.”

“Do you remember how Captain Crool smashed the brains out of that snivelling baby and then beat the woman who tried to stop him?” the other soldier cut in again.

“Oh yes,” a third soldier grinned. “The skull just shattered and there were brains all over the wall. Now that's power for you.”

Adrian felt sick. How was that power? How was it that a man could kill little children and then beat their mothers? How was it that men could kill at all? He only half heard the vile descriptions of events in the poor victimised community. He didn't want to hear of how many young girls this soldier had for himself or how they killed the old men who called for peace. He didn't want to know what they did to the drummer boy who tried to surrender, or the pregnant wife of the rebel army commander. All the same he heard. Then the three soldiers moved away from these atrocities to speak with glee of how they kept the prisoners in a cell with only water for three days and only released them when they swore loyalty to the government.

“They all agreed with us in the end,” Clarence Bates informed those listening. “They all said that we'd done it for their good. The people do agree with us. They don't want the rebels. They want the stability that we bring.”

“Stability!” Adrian got to his feet. There was no stability here. He went towards the door, but a new conversation caught his attention.

“So we're going to attack the village soon are we?” one of the soldiers asked Clarence.

“Yes,” Clarence agreed. “Our good Captain Crool said that we'll recruit some men from the village and get some food. If they don't cooperate, then we'll know that they're hiding rebels and we'll take them all.”

“The men will join us and we'll have the women,” another soldier cut in. “It's good fun being a soldier. Plenty of excitement and power.”

Adrian left the room. He knew little enough about the village, but he did know that they would fight. He thought about the motives of the soldiers who would fight against the village and scowled. How could the village hold out unless the rebel army diverted Crool's attention? Somehow Adrian doubted that there would be another fight with the rebel army for some time. They would also first get some recruits. He left the main building and went round to the stables. The horse seemed to comfort him in some way, but he didn't know how.

As soon as the horse saw him, it whinnied and stretched its head out over the stable door. Adrian came up and fondled it gently. The horse prodded him firmly with its nose in the stomach. Adrian smiled and carried on fondling its main. Again it nudged him, harder this time and now Adrian understood.

 

14.3

Ted lifted the trap door and swung out onto the stone floor. Quietly he replaced the door that formed a single wooden step before the stone flight began. Then he listened. It was unlikely for anyone to be in the lighthouse, but it was worth checking. If there was any one, he'd be alone at any rate. Ted stealthily mounted the spiral staircase, pausing at each floor to check that no one was in the central and only chamber. He reached the floor below the light when he heard a noise. Someone was here. Someone was reading. He peered into the chamber and spotted Alexander standing at a book case with a volume of old sea charts in his hands. He was leafing through it as though searching for something. Ted smiled. If Alexander knew what was going on, it would be easier to get him to talk than spying in the fort for a couple of hours. He slipped silently into the room and approached the absorbed sergeant.

Alexander started when Ted laid a hand on his shoulder and leaned over to snuff out the lamp that stood on the book shelf.

“What are you doing?” Ted asked his wet finger poised to flick the flame out.

“Ah,” Alexander faltered. “I was looking through these books for the commander.”

“Why?” Ted demanded and looked at the book where Alexander held it open. “What's he planning?”

“Well two things,” Alexander admitted. He felt threatened by Ted and at the same time he was relieved that Ted hadn't floored him as it appeared was his custom. “He's planning to attack the smugglers by sea if he can find a chart of the rocks and that's why I'm here; pretending to search for what I know doesn't exist in enough detail. The other plan is to attack the village on Aresh Sept hill and Take every one of them. He'll do that whatever happens.”

Ted abandoned the threat of putting out the lamp and took the book from Alexander. “So what do you think is the best chart of the rocks then,” he asked with one hand still on his shoulder.

Alexander turned the pages to a sketch, scribbled at the back of the book on the inside of the cover. “I think that looks the most accurate, but it's not officially a map. It just looks right,” he replied.

Ted looked at the chart and then at Alexander. “This is a chart I'm not familiar with,” he said calmly. “Who drew it?”

“Adrian?” Ted asked in surprise.

“No,” Alexander shook his head. “Simian, Adrian's brother. It might have been Simian's wife or brother-in-law though. They were all here and they all liked looking at the charts.”

“When was this?” Ted asked intrigued. He'd not even known that Adrian had a brother or that they'd been at the fort.

“Almost thirteen years ago I'd say,” Alexander replied thoughtfully. “I know that a few months later there was a family death and they went to the funeral, but Adrian didn't seem to care about the death. He said he didn't know the man and it was some cousin on Simian's wife's mother's side of the family. They never came to visit again.”

“Thirteen years ago,” Ted repeated quietly.

“It may well have been even longer than that, or maybe a bit shorter,” Alexander added. “I can't exactly remember. At that time there was nothing significant to mark out the years or order of things.”

“Yes,” Ted agreed and closed the book, pleased at how inaccurate the sketch was. The plotter obviously didn't know much at all of the rocks. Then he let go of Alexander's shoulder and opened the book again. He flicked through quickly and found the page he was looking for.

“Regulated lighthouse warrant chart,” he read and handed the book back to Alexander. “That map is more accurate than most think,” he said. “But let Crool think what he will. He'll die if he attacks by sea whatever map he uses. You're right when you say there isn't any with enough detail.”

“Should I persuade him not to attack you?” Alexander asked hesitantly.

“Let him do what he wants,” Ted shrugged. “Either way I win. He can't defeat me.”

“How can you be so sure?” Alexander asked and quickly added, “If I dare ask.”

Ted smiled quietly and leant back against the wall. “It's simple,” he replied. “If he threatens too much, I'll take him out and see that the man of my choice takes over. I don't allow opposition.”

Slowly Alexander nodded.

“How much longer were you intending on staying here?” Ted continued.

“Ten minutes or so,” Alexander replied quietly.

“Good,” Ted acknowledged and turned to the door. “Stay in this room until then.” He stepped out of the door and bounded lightly down the stairs. At the bottom he slowed and listened before jumping over the wooden step, lifting the edge up and dropping gently into the dark basement type room below. He closed the trapdoor and checked that it was in place as it should be. Then he opened the stone door at the far end of the basement and went back into the tunnels.

 

14.4

Harry picked himself up and looked at the hole in the ceiling above him. It was dark and he could hardly see. His lantern had gone out when he fell and now he couldn't light it, for he didn't have matches or a tinder box. He felt around him for the walls, but couldn't find any. Slowly he moved forward a few paces with his arms stretched out in front of him. After about ten steps he felt the stone at his fingertips. Reassured, he felt along the wall and found the corner. He walked round the room. It was quite small and had two alcoves. One was more of a hole in the wall at chest height. The other was what appeared to be a doorway with a stone door in it. He raised his arms above his head, but he could only feel the very edge of the ceiling which seemed to slope up to where he guessed the hole to be at the centre.

'Now what?' he thought to himself. He wasn't able to get out, but he couldn't stay here either. He had no water or food and the master didn't know where he was. He wasn't meant to be exploring at all. He picked up his map from where he'd dropped it, carefully folded it and put it in his pocket. Then he found the suspected doorway again. Maybe there was a way out through there.

It took him a long time to work out how to open the door and when he did it was difficult to move, being very stiff and only opened after an enormous quantity of exertion on Harry's part. He prised the door further open until he could get through. He felt the walls and found that it was a smaller room with no way out. He was about to go back when his fingers touched something in an alcove he'd previously over looked. He ran his hands over the object and smiled. He knew the feel of old parchment even when it was covered with a thick layer of dust, just as everything in this part of the tunnels was. He carefully lifted the bound scroll of parchment off the shelf and blew the dust away. Dust blew up from the shelf and settled again. He brushed what he could off the scroll and tucked the scroll under his arm. This was a find. He didn't know what it was, but he knew that it had to be significant. He turned away from the alcove and moved back towards the door. Suddenly something thudded in the dust at his feet with a surprisingly metallic sound. He bent down and felt across the soft grey carpet. The metal pole was not what he'd expected, but he was pleased. He picked it up and rubbed the dust off it.

In the larger room, Harry took off his belt and looped it around the pole. Then he took off his tunic and tied it too the belt. He held onto the tunic in one hand and threw the pole up with the other. The pole bounced off the roof and fell back down beside him. The rope he'd made was not really long enough he realised and removed his hoes. Once they were securely tied to the tunic, he threw the pole up again, aiming in a slightly different place. The pole disappeared through the hole. One end caught slightly on the edge of the hole and Harry hoped that it would balance, but it didn't. The pole came hurtling back down, narrowly missing Harry.

Nine attempts later Harry succeeded in hooking both ends of the pole, one on either side of the hole. His hoes hung down to about waist height and Harry smiled. It was time to get out. He picked the scroll up from where he'd put it on the ground and tucked it under his chin. His map was in his tunic pocket and would be wrecked, but he could re draw it. It didn't have to be flat and smooth. He picked up the lantern and tied it to the bottom of his hoes. He'd pull it up after he'd reached the floor above. He peeped up and grabbed hold of the makeshift rope. His feet struggled to find the end of the rope and couldn't. He pulled with his hands alone and at last found a grip with his feet. As he pushed up with his feet he heard the sound of ripping cloth. Something was giving. Terrified, he pulled himself up again and got up as quick as he could. When his hands reached the belt he found he couldn't grip the leather strap and had to depend on his legs. He slipped down about fifteen times before he finally got one hand over the pole and hauled himself up. Panting he raised his head over the edge of the hole and tucked the pole under his arms against his chest. He went to raise his head and felt the scroll slip. Instantly he let go of the pole with one hand and grabbed the scroll. He leant over and put it carefully down on the less dusty upper floor. Then he struggled out of the hole and onto the firm ground again. 

He lay panting for several minutes on the floor before doing any more. At last he sat up and picked up the pole. He pulled it over to him and drew up his clothes and lantern. Untying them was not easy. The knots had become very tight and his fingers were extremely sore from slipping down the belt. Eventually he pulled on his tunic and buckled his belt. He found that his hoes had ripped at the groin. He put them on all the same and took out his map. With some difficulty he worked out where he had to go and picking up the scroll, he headed back to where he was meant to be. He couldn't let the master know about this. Never. He'd hand the scroll on to a friend when he got a chance. He wouldn't likely be able to keep it hidden from the master for long if he didn't. He smiled and turned back into the main corridor where a Lantern was burning. Quickly he lit his lantern from it and went down to his room. The master wasn't back yet and Harry was relieved. He didn't want any questions being asked of him. He wouldn't be able to answer them.

 

14.5

Nathan jogged lightly up from the Nitesah Valley with Joe at his eels. Ted had left them just outside the cave as usual and they liked going out alone. It gave them a sense of liberty.

“Why have they suddenly decided to take more out at a time?” Joe asked his father.

“I don't know,” Nathan answered simply. “Perhaps they thought that the villagers would need more room than they do. Perhaps they intend letting us help them.”

Joe considered his father’s suggestions for a moment before speaking again. “I think there's some kind of trouble brewing,” he stated. “I think they're getting as many people out before it gets impossible. Perhaps they think the army is going to find and attack them.”

“I doubt it,” Nathan laughed. “The army wouldn't find the base even if they wanted to attack.”

“We did,” Joe replied.

“That was a fluke Joe,” Nathan passed it off. “Just chance. We weren't even looking for it.”

“Exactly,” Joe pressed. “We weren't looking for it and we found it. If they're looking for it then they'll find it.”

“It was chance that we found it,” Nathan persisted. “We were just lucky to find the cave.”

“I thought you didn't believe in luck,” Joe accused stopping and turning to face his father.

“I don't,” Nathan replied and tried to think what he'd said. “I was just using the word for a lack of another,” he tried to justify.

“Well how was it lucky then,” Joe demanded raising his hands to quote the forbidden word.

“Well,” Nathan hesitated. “We found it by chance and it was a good thing that we did.”

“Good!” Joe almost spat the word out. “How can you call it good?!”

“It wouldn't have been fun sitting on a narrow ledge all through the high tide,” Nathan justified. “And you can't say we're not achieving something from it now. We're helping the villagers and it's all good. Ted and the others are really friendly and they're letting us stay in their base.”

“Oh, is that how they're paying us for the idea and help is it?” Joe snarled. He was irritated for several reasons. Firstly he had heard that Ted took Simon with him when they went to the new land. Secondly he wanted to explore the rooms on the tunnel where they stayed and wasn't allowed to, and thirdly Simon had beaten him in a fight and Ted had stood beside Simon with his hand on his shoulder as though showing his liking for Joe's now enemy. He constantly thought on this last point and wanted to beat Simon, just to show Ted that he was strong. “I hate them,” he growled and turned back towards the village.

Nathan didn't speak for some time. He couldn't think of anything to say. At last he said, “Well, I don't think the army will find the base anyway. We only found it by chance.”

“What's chance,” Joe asked a little suspicious. 'Like luck?'

“Chance,” Nathan said decisively, “is the improbable side of possible.”

“All right,” Joe relented and they walked on in silence.

When they came to the village everything was still and quiet. None of the houses had open doors or windows and no smoke rose to darken the sky, now inky at one end over the sea where clouds were gathering again. At the castle a middle aged man leant against the open gate at the foot of the wide steps that led to the main door. This lower gate was of no use now, as one of the pair was missing and the other was jammed open on rusted hinges. No one had ever closed or maintained these gates. The castle had never seen fighting after its construction, although there had been skirmishes before then. The military had left the castle almost fifty years before now and the villagers had only recently discovered its value.

The middle aged man with greying hair held up one hand in greeting before attempting to run up the stairs to the main doors. He went into the castle through the door, revealing another guard sitting just inside, a homemade spear resting in one chubby hand while the other fingered the enormous buckle on his tightly stretched broad leather belt. A few minutes later Jude appeared at the head of the stairs and descended to meet them. They went onto one of the empty houses.

“Good to see you friends,” Jude smiled warmly as they sat on a crude bench in what had been the kitchen and eating room. “Have you any news for us?”

“We've come about tonight's sailing,” Nathan replied with a smile. Jude had warmed to them over the short time they'd known him.

“Is it cancelled?” Jude asked, his face falling.

“No, to the contrary,” Nathan was glad to relieve him of that anxiety. “There's a chance for more people to come now.”

Jude was delighted. Numbers were quickly agreed and a time set. Nathan and Joe would collect them as usual from the village and take them to where they needed to be. Jude would organise that the villagers came. There weren't many left from the other village, but there were some, and Jude perceived that there would now be interest from the other villagers. They were a close community, but some people would want to go. Secretly he wanted to go, but he had his duty to stay here. He had to look after his family. He was the only real man in the family now that father had died two years before and all his brothers were younger than him and mostly immature.

He headed down to the road with them and saw them turn inland as they always did with the villagers who left. He watched them go for some time, then turned and walked back up to the castle. This was his home. At least, it was for now. He hoped it would change, but it wouldn't change in a moment. He just needed time, but time wasn't on his side he admitted as he heard the bugle call from the fort. It sounded to him as though the soldiers were again on the move, or at least active.

 

14.6

I remember the evening Jude persuaded our village to leave. I don't know how he did it. I wasn't there. I had gone out into the country to check that all was quiet and that no soldiers were sneaking round, scouting. I came back after a quiet walk to find a fair number of young men and women gathering their belongings and grouping round the well to have a good drink before the journey, something we learned from the other villagers. I saw Johnny's uncle and aunt there, along with some of my distant cousins and other friends of the family. No one from my family was there, but I knew that we would soon follow. I was sad. The village there on Aresh Sept hill was my home. It was all I knew. It was security and I knew that I would have to leave it. I decided that I would stay till last. Although I didn't like it, I knew when I saw the villagers gathered, that once the tide had turned and they'd left, others would follow and eventually, so would I.

I walked sadly up the castle steps and through the door past Able, who wasn't very able because of his size, but more than willing. I found Adam with Jude asking him what the new comers wanted. The newcomers were Joe and Nathan. Adam was in his mid-fifties and had once had a fine crop of chestnut brown hair, but now it was thinning and turning grey. He'd first seen Joe and Nathan that day and had fetched Jude. Now he wanted to hear what had happened. When he saw me waiting at the door, he cut off and briskly said, 'The soldier's food is on the hearth in the small metal bowl.' Then he turned back to Jude and ignored me again.

I took the food and my bread up to Paul. I liked eating with company, something we never really did after dad died of fever. We did it even less often once the war started.

When I came in Paul was cleaning his boots with an old piece of cloth. The one was shiny as I'd never seen it. The other was in his hands being rubbed vigorously. As soon as the door swung open and I stepped in he put the boot down on the floor beside the other and carefully folded the cloth. I handed him his food and sat down to eat mine. We ate for some minutes in silence. At last he spoke as usual.

“I heard a bugle call earlier,” he said. I'd also heard it and nodded to indicate this.

“Is it from the fort?”

Again I nodded and thought for a moment. Telling people things never came easy to me. At last I made a strict face and saluted.

Paul smiled. “The soldiers are being pulled into shape are they?” he checked.

I nodded and smiled. It was good when someone understood on the first attempt. Even Jude didn't always understand, but he was patient enough to listen to me, unlike the others. I saluted again sloppily and then waved good bye and saluted properly. He got it at once.

“There's a new commander who is strict,” he stated his interpretation.

I nodded with a smile and then stopped smiling. It wasn't a good thing. I was just pleased he understood.

“Will that be bad for the village?” he asked uncertainly.

Grimly I nodded and stood up. I pretended to march and tapped my rapier as I sat down again.

“Yes,” he sighed, not needing to check his interpretation this time. He understood well enough. “If it's my old commander who's come to the fort, then he'll certainly attack the village. Are you ready?”

I didn't know how to answer that. I knew he meant the village collectively. I was ready, but they weren't. I got up and crossed to the window. He followed and I pointed out the gathering in the square round the well.

“They're leaving?” he said in disbelief, but the evidence was before us and I nodded. “I thought you were going to fight.” He said astonished.

I looked at him and nodded. I tapped my rapier and put my hand securely on the castle wall.

“Will Jude go?” he asked.

I nodded, unsure whether he'd noticed what I'd tried to explain.

“But you won't,” he added and showed that he had noticed. 'You'll rather fight and hold the castle.'

I sighed and nodded. I knew that if Jude went I couldn't stay, but I wanted to.

“Whatever you want to do I'll go with you,” Paul murmured after a long pause. “You've been good to me and I'd rather stick with you than with your entire village. You've given up your time for me and showed me the news. If you want to stay, I'll fight along with you and if you want to go, I'll go with you. I have nothing here.”

I found my self smiling besides knowing that I couldn't stay. It was good to know that someone actually wanted to be with me and I knew that he really meant it. I don't know what would have happened then, what he'd have said, what I'd have done. Jude called me and I had to go.

“I'll see you soon won't I?” Paul asked as I went to the door. I nodded and left him standing alone again in the middle of the tower room.

 


Submitted: July 17, 2012

© Copyright 2022 Cwester. All rights reserved.

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Julie March

Liked the suspense in the last two chapters. I don't usually like to speculate on characters and the like, preferring to be surprised, but I get the feeling that the scenes with Harry are taking place in a previous time. I could be wrong, but don't correct me if I am. I'd prefer to be surprised. But great chapter, nonetheless.

Wed, July 18th, 2012 9:48pm

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I won't tell you either way. I enjoy keeping people in some suspense.

Fri, July 20th, 2012 1:42am

andreamay

It seems to me as if in Subchapters 14.1 and 14.2 you wanted to show cruel face of the two mutual enemies who are going to fight one another in the nearest future: Ted and Captain Crool. The future looks grim and gloomy, threat and uncertainty hanging in the air.
The Subchapters 14.3 and 14.4 are skilfully pointing out (or it just seems to me) the importance of the chart and parchment we had already seen on Harry's desk. So Harry's shipwreck and capture had happened somewhere in the past. But then again I might be wrong. All this is for you to see where you're leading my thoughts to.
Corrections. Quote: He was about to go back when his fingers touched something in an alcove he'd previously over looked. ("overlooked" - checked, of course)
Quote: Harry took of his belt and looped it around the pole. Then he took off his tunic and tied it too the belt. (isn't it "to the belt"?)
Quote: His map was in his tunic pocket and would be wrecked, but he could re draw it. ("redraw")
14.5
Now this one is a gem of its own kind. Nathan the philosopher!
corrections:
Quote: Nathan jogged lightly up..... with Joe at his eels. (I suppose it should be "heels")
14.6
And finally watcher's melancholy and sadness in anticipation of obviously inevitable battle... dark clouds are gathering on the horizon, the bugle calls on arms. Perfect.
corrections:
The second paragraph. Quote: I found Adam with Jude asking him what the new comers wanted ("newcomers")
Quote 'You'll rather fight and hold the castle' ("You'll rather fight and hold the castle" - just the quotation marks need to be changed)
The paragraph befor tha last. Quote: I found my self... ("myself")

Sun, May 25th, 2014 11:24pm

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Thank you for reading and commenting. I've made the corrections on my computer as usial. I'm very glad to know where your thoughts go when reading this chapter by chapter. It helps me to know if I have achieved what I wanted.

Tue, May 27th, 2014 2:00pm

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