Chapter 16:

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

Reads: 219
Comments: 2

16.1

There were two guards on the ridge when Ted scanned the land from the cover of the gulley. He had intended running to hide behind the stunted bush that stood about forty paces away when the guards were distracted. In fact he was just about to run when someone else jumped up from about forty paces away, only a little further down the cliff towards the path, and bolted towards the descent to Archer's bay.

One of the soldiers saw the young man and charged after him, drawing his sword. Instantly the young man pulled an axe from under the blanket that hung round his shoulders. He swung it threateningly in front of him, daring the soldier to advance further.  The soldier hesitated and the young man signalled to what Ted realised was a group of men, women and children lying on the grass, trying to hide. Now a few of them got up and scurried passed the young man with the axe and down the path. At this point the soldier pulled himself together and charged the axe man. A skirmish broke out and Ted quickly saw that the young man didn't know how to fight. He was giving it his all, but it wasn't enough. As the other soldier joined the fight Ted realised that this man was going to lose. A moment later he perceived that this group were villagers. Was there trouble of some kind? Had they got news of the commander's intentions to attack? When was he going to attack? Had he already attacked?

It was a split second's decisions that led Ted to leap up from the gully, run up on the soldiers from the back, and join the fight. Unlike the young axe-wielding man, Ted didn't want the soldiers to back off or run away. He didn't even want them to see him. That was why he grabbed the one guard by the neck and stabbed the other with a long knife. The wounded soldier staggered and the young man swung his axe at him from the right. He tried to avoid the blow and in the process, tripped and fell over the cliff edge. The other man tried to turn, but couldn't. He saw his friend fall and gave a short cry. Ted shoved him onto the ground and pressed him down. Then he brought his knife round and struck the man in his neck. He wiped his knife clean, sheathed it and stood up.

“You killed him,” the young man exclaimed with a horrified look.

“Yes,” Ted agreed without any regret. “They're soldiers and once they've seen me, they'll always be on my trail.”

“But he didn't see you,” the young man argued.

“But if I let him go, he would have seen me,” Ted answered calmly.

“I suppose so,” the man reluctantly agreed. “Who are you anyway?” “Ted,” he replied calmly. “And you are?”

“Jude.”

“And you're here because…” Ted prompted.

“We're looking for help,” Jude replied hesitantly. “We've left the village to get away from the soldiers.”

“Ok,” Ted nodded. “Head down to the beach. I'll see what the others say. We might be able to get out, although it's low tide. I'll see what I can do.”

Jude signalled to the others to head down the path. They quickly obeyed and Jude came up at the rear with Ted behind him. 

“So you're a smuggler,” Jude said over his shoulder.

“Yes,” Ted agreed.  “I've been in the business since my youth, following in my father's footsteps, although none of us have ever smuggled people before.”

“Did you know that the soldiers were going to attack the village?” Jude asked a few moments later.

“I didn't know when,” Ted answered hesitantly, “But I knew that they were planning an attack.”

“A soldier warned us yesterday evening very late. I could say night.” Jude told him eager to make conversation. “He came up on a horse and hailed us asking to speak on civil terms.”

“Really,” Ted looked at Jude carefully. He wondered if it could be Adrian. If it was, why did he? Was he trying to help them and opposing the army? He'd never had the courage to do it this openly before.

“I must say,” Jude said, looking back at Ted. “We didn't think that a soldier would be decent enough to do that.”

Ted suddenly caught his shoulder. “Watch where you're walking Jude,” he said in a half playful voice.

Jude looked round and saw the drop in front of him. It wasn't far but he could easily have fallen. Lightly he jumped down onto the sand and Ted followed.

“Wait here,” Ted instructed and darted away along the beach below the cliffs, pausing only to check that the soldier who fell was in fact dead.

 

16.2

The young soldier fingered the wooden step at the foot of the tower steps. Could it possibly be as he thought? He found a grip on the edge with his fingers and lifted. The step easily came away as a heavy wooden trap door without hinges. Still bemused he looked down through the hole. A ladder ran down one wall and a room rather like a basement spread out below. He lifted the lantern from where he'd placed it and lit it. Then he climbed down the ladder and replaced the door above him. The room was just the size and shape that he'd expected and the door that stood slightly ajar at the far end of the room was exactly where it should have been. He crossed to it and went through.

Excitement rose with in him as he went deeper into the tunnels, heading to where he guessed the main living area was. He passed along tunnels as though he had been there before, but he had never even imagined that they existed until a few days ago. Now he was going to see them for himself and find out if he could in any way help the army with his knowledge. His sister-in-law hadn't seemed worried about him using the information to help the army.

Suddenly he heard a sound. Someone was at hand. He hesitated in the wide passage at the three way split and wondered where the person was coming from. He decided that it was the left hand tunnel and stepped quickly into the right hand one, but too late. The man sprung round the corner and swung to face him. In the light of the lantern the man looked remarkably young. His blond hair reached to his shoulders and was pulled back by a narrow cloth band of the same faded green colour as his rather unfashionably cut tunic. He was wearing sandals and had a short broadsword at his side. This he drew as he faced the soldier.

He knew that he had to fight and didn't waste time about drawing his long hand-and-a-half sword. The blades clashed once. Then the other man slammed his sword into the lantern, knocking it from the soldiers grasp and sending it crashing to the ground where it went out.

The soldier only just had his wits about him enough to parry the next blow. Then he realised that the other man was not alone. He could hear another movement to his left where a side tunnel opened out. Suddenly he had a wild desire to run. He turned back into the tunnel he'd chosen and took to his heels. He could guess where he was going, but without light he couldn't be sure. He tried to count the tunnels on his left, hoping to take the fifteenth one that lead out on to the cliffs. He never reached it.

A third man suddenly stepped out in front of him with a drawn sword. He struck out with his sword against the man, but instantly realised that he couldn't win. The man was broad shouldered and strong and within a matter of seconds he found himself being driven back by this new opponent. Then he was fighting all three of them. He had his back to a wall and was attempting to parry the blows. At one point he knocked the sword from the hand of the blond haired man whom he'd first fought. Instantly he turned his back on him and struck out at the other two. A moment later he regretted that decision. The young man with the faded green tunic grabbed him by the neck and slammed him against the wall. Then he was shoved down on to the ground. The soldier tried to fight, but he couldn't. His sword was easily prised out of his hand by the broad shouldered man while the third man who had a bow tucked in his belt, pressed a knife to his throat. The blond-haired man knelt on his back and held his neck with one hand while trying to get his left hand behind his back with the other. It didn't take them long to get both of his hands held in a tight grip behind his back. The strong looking man with light brown hair took hold of his wrists while the blond haired man tied a rope around his neck in a noose.

They blind folded him and took him through many tunnels until they set him down in a small chamber and locked the door. Then they beat him with sticks. He managed to get his wrists loose and pull off the blindfold, but he was defenceless against them. All his excitement was gone and replaced with fear. He cowered in the corner of the room, covering his face and neck with his arms while they struck him. He could feel the blood running down his arm where one of them had cut him earlier and he knew that he could do nothing. He had invaded their territory and now he was at their mercy.

The young green clad man ordered the lamp to be lit and then turned from physical violence to threatening. It started out as verbal, but quickly progressed to physical threats. The soldier was reluctant to give his name to begin with, but when they pulled his hands up behind his back and bound them there, he changed his mind.

“Adrian's my name,” he cried as the blond haired man jerked the rope up over a hook and tied it in place.

“Adrian who,” the obvious leader of the trio demanded, threatening to tighten the rope even more.

“Nite,” the soldier instantly replied. “Adrian Nite, son of Simian Nite.”

“And what are you doing down here?” the man, who couldn't have been less than 4 years younger than Adrian, demanded.

“I found out where an entrance was and I came to see the tunnels,” Adrian faltered with terror.

“How did you find the entrance? Did someone show you?”

“No,” Adrian whimpered. His sister-in-law hadn't even known what information she was handing on as she couldn't read maps. “I found it myself. I worked it out.”

“What entrance did you find?”

“The one in the tower,” Adrian obligingly told without hesitation.

“And have you told anyone about it?” the questions pressed on relentlessly.

“No,” Adrian gasped for at that moment the rope round his neck had been jerked tight. “I only just found it,” he whimpered. “I've…” he struggled for breath but couldn't get any. “Explored quite,” he spoke, breaking up his sentences in his attempt to breathe, but he knew he couldn't for long. “A bit.” He could say no more.

The rope was loosened, so that he could breathe, but the threat was still there and the strong, light brown haired man's hand was still gripping the end of the cord to pull tight again.

“Go on,” the young leader prompted.

“I have seen quite a bit, but I've only come here once and that's this time,” Adrian tried to explain.

The questions never seemed to stop. He was often short of breath and in pain. He'd only joined the army two years before and had been hoping for a promotion from private already. Now he just hoped to keep his life a few more minutes. He was always in fear that this time they would kill him. They often threatened it. Although it was the blond haired man who questioned, the others were just as much a terror to him, for they were the ones who mostly hurt him.

At one point he came to himself after blacking out, to find that he was lying on the stone floor face down. When he tried to move, he felt the pain. His arms had been shackled behind his back and pulled together so that there was a lot of strain on his shoulders. He lay still, trying to ignore the throbbing in his limbs and the pounding headache. He tried even harder to ignore the blood running down his back and the pain in his shoulders. An hour passed before anything changed. Then it was back to threats, but now it was real threats of death. They demanded that he served them, or else he'd die. He didn't understand all the threats they made, but he understood one well enough. They would throw him on the rocks. No one could survive that and Adrian knew it. He submitted. There was no other option. He feared being caught by the commander and tried for treachery, but he needn't have feared. The master knew how to keep him safe from the commander's so long as Adrian obeyed him. So long as Adrian did as he was told, he would keep his life.

As he sat on the wall facing the sea he looked at the cuts across his hands. It had been a job to hide his wounds from the others, but so far he'd managed. He only wondered how long he'd be able to hide things from the others. Surely not for ever. Someone was sure to find out.

 

16.3

Joe pushed back his bowl and sighed with contentment.

“That was one good meal,” he announced. “Why can't it always be that tasty?”

“It was the same food as last night,” Nathan replied with a smile. “You're just enjoying it more because you're hungry. Sailing is tough in rough weather like today and hard work always makes one hungry.”

“It was good food all the same,” Joe persisted, unmoveable. 

“Yes,” Nathan agreed and stood up. He stacked the bowls and put them to one side. He didn't want to wash them up yet. “Shall we make our way to bed?” Nathan suggested as he noticed Joe yawning.

“I'm not tired,” Joe protested. “I don't want to go to bed.” With that he yawned again and tried to stifle it without success.

Nathan laughed. “Don't you want to let sleep take away the day when you sailed the villagers across to their new home?”

“It was fun wasn't it,” Joe smiled. “The wind was with us all the way there and we saw the new settlement. They're doing well aren't they?” He had conveniently forgotten how temperamental the wind had been.

“Yes,” Nathan said and sat down again. Bed time would have to wait a bit.

“I liked the way they planned out the village and organised how much land each family would have. They obviously are happy there.”

“I liked the way they were building to a good standard,” Nathan put in as soon as he had a chance.

“I think their new home is nicer than the village here,”

“I don't like the word Nice Joe,” Nathan corrected seriously.

“Well it's better then,” Joe grunted. “I think the hill and the plain is greener and fresher. There's lots of water nearby too. Could you hear the waterfalls?”

“What water falls?” Nathan queried almost disbelievingly.

“Didn't you hear them?” Joe asked with exaggerated astonishment written across his face. “There were waterfalls in the woods that fell into that river we saw. I could hear them loudly. Like distant thunder.”

“Stop exaggerating Joe,” Nathan reprimanded. “If you heard water falls, they weren't that loud.”

“Well I could hear them,” Joe persisted.

“I believe you,” Nathan nodded. “I just didn't hear them myself.”

“There were water falls,” Joe persisted.

Nathan nodded. “What did you think of the sailing?” he asked changing the subject.

“It was easy going there,” Joe replied unenthusiastically. “On the way back I'm glad we had Terry with us. I don't think we could have done it alone.”

“I must say I was worried that we'd lose the boat,” Nathan confessed. “It's our last one and I doubt we'll recapture one in a hurry.”

“We can buy a new boat,” Joe said indifferently. “A better boat than uncle could ever build. Like the boat they had when they took our ship.”

“Boats aren't cheap Joe,” Nathan responded almost angrily. “You have no concept of money. You don't care if we lose a boat. At least Simon realises the implications.”

“Simon doesn't care about the money,” Joe retorted. He now hated Simon. Their fight had left Joe bitter and seeking revenge.

“He's often asked how much various parts on the boats cost and how much a boat or cargo is worth,” Nathan defended his nephew. “He'll make a good business man. He's got a head for making money. He'd quickly work out how to balance maximum profit and what people are willing to pay. I've never been good at that.”

“You mean he'd work out how to exploit people,” Joe retaliated and got up. “I'm going to bed.”

“All right,” Nathan sighed and followed his son. About five minutes later Joe spoke again in a whisper.

“Dad. Dad,” he whispered.

“Umm,” Nathan grunted. “Go to sleep Joe.”

“I just want to ask you one question,” Joe whispered.

“Go on then,” Nathan consented. “Just one.”

“Do you remember the route we took across the sea?” Joe asked.

“Yes,” Nathan answered and turned onto his side. “Do you?”

“I think so,” Joe replied quietly and sat up. “Do you think Simon knows the way there? Do you think they've taken him along with them?”

“You said one question Joe,” Nathan reprimanded and then answered his son's questions. “But yes I do think he's been with them and knows the way. He would. He loves sailing.”

“I thought they didn't trust him,” Joe whispered.

“Go to sleep Joe,” Nathan yawned and pulled his blanket up to his chin. He didn't want to answer that question. He didn't know how to. “Good night.”

“Good night,” Joe sighed and turned to face the wall.

A matter of minutes later they were both fast asleep, warn out by the day's work.

 

16.4

Adrian stood to attention as Captain Crool called to him. He was off duty at the time and knew that being called meant that he'd be given a job, which was not much to his liking but he didn't dare disobey.

“As you know,” Crool began in a cold voice of authority. “I am leading a siege of the village whom we have reason to believe will oppose us. The majority of the men are going up in half an hour to challenge them. As a result I need a more rigorous watch on the cliffs from you. In half an hour I want you to take over from the guard who is there. He may have already left to join us at the village. Clamston will accompany you and be on guard with you. You are to stay on watch for an hour, then return to the lighthouse and look up the maps on the Aresh Sept castle. I believe the villagers are hiding in it and we need to find an easy way in, or out, so that they can't escape us. After that you must return to the wall for your evening watch and back on the cliffs immediately after that until the midnights watch when Bates will take over from you. Do you understand?”

“Yes sir,” Adrian replied smartly and saluted.

“Get ready then,” Crool ordered and left the room.

Half an hour later, Alexander and Adrian were heading down the foot path that ran along the cliffs towards the descent to Archer's bay.

“I hate being on guard on the cliffs,” Alexander complained. “They could be around or shoot us by accident from their boat.”

“They won't shoot unless they're shot at,” Adrian explained after checking that no one was around. “Any way,” he continued. “It's low tide. They won't be on the sea now.”

“Well then they're more likely to be up here,” Alexander complained.

“Just don't put your hand to your sword hilt and you'll be all right,” Adrian advised. “Don't look frightened or anxious or threatening if you see them and they should leave you alone. And if they do take you down, don't fight. Just do what they say.”

“But Adrian,” Alexander cut in. “How can I do all that? I might fight by accident. What then? I don't want to get hurt.”

Adrian didn't say anything at once. He first thought. Then he said, “You've had it easier than I had it the first week after he took me down. After he took me down he was constantly threatening me. Sometimes in word, more often in action. Sometimes he hurt me. He hasn't even threatened you.”

“He did corner me in the light house,” Alexander hesitantly admitted. He'd intended keeping that a secret, but he decided not to because Adrian had also been threatened. “I think he was going to threaten me, but I just told him what I was doing when he asked and answered his questions. Then he left again.”

“I've also been cornered a couple of times in the tower, but he didn't usually hurt me then. He just threatened,” Adrian associated himself with Alexander. “It's much more dangerous out here or on the wall.”

“But there's always two men on guard out here,” Alexander stated. “And I've only been on guard with you since Crool came. How did he threaten you here?”

“Usually he'd get me when I was alone,” Adrian explained very quietly and a little anxiously. “But once I was with another soldier. We were talking about the rocks. The soldier said that there had to be some maps of the rocks and if we spotted when the smugglers left, we could explore them. He asked me if I thought that the smugglers had a hidden way up onto the cliffs that they could access from the sea. That was when he came and grabbed the soldier by the neck, through him on the ground and cut his throat. Then he turned on me and knocked me flat.”

“Hold up,” Alexander stopped his friend. “The last time a soldier had his throat cut was … I don't know how long ago. Don't tell me that you…”

“Yes,” Adrian sighed. “It's been thirteen and a half years since he first took me down.”

“I had no idea it's been that long,” Alexander said astonished. “I suppose that's why you're all right out here now. I'm scared stiff.”

“Don't think I'm not scared,” Adrian interjected. “I'm terrified and I always have been. That's not something that wares off. He keeps you scared.”

“Why don't you leave then?” Alexander asked, looking at his friends face, but the guards were up again.

“We're soldiers Alexander,” Adrian replied and turned to look at the sea. Suddenly he stopped walking and stared. He passed his hand over his eyes and gaped. Then he raised his right hand to shield his eyes from the light that now escaped from between the clouds. “They are out,” he observed. “I didn't expect that.”

“Well at least they won't be here,” Alexander mused.

“You can never be sure of that,” Adrian corrected and dropped his hand, pressing his palm to his thigh.

“I guess so,” Alexander agreed and noticed what Adrian was doing. He reached out and touched Adrian's hand gently, suggesting that he wanted to see. He had noticed that Adrian often kept his hands close to his sides recently. Adrian allowed him to take his hand and turn it over to see the palm.

“Adrian,” Alexander stifled his exclamation. “You're not a careless soldier, so how did you get these?”

“Him,” Adrian replied quietly and without perceivable emotion.

“They can't be much more than three days old!” Alexander continued as though not hearing, but he had heard. “And they're not the first you've had.” He looked hard at Adrian's hand before sighing. “It looks like seven or eight cuts to me. I mean old ones that have healed.”

Adrian nodded. “I don't think this one will leave too much of a scar. There might not be a scar in a few years.”

“Are you saying that you've been cut more often than that and it's healed?” Alexander asked in disbelief.

“Of course,” Adrian replied and changed the subject. “Let's get on with our job. I don't want Crool coming to check up on us and find us talking.”

“All right,” Alexander agreed. “He won't come, but you obviously don't want to talk.”

“I've got used to keeping quiet,” Adrian explained. “And I don't want to get into trouble with him for talking, even if it's with you.”

“Fair point,” Alexander agreed and walked along the cliffs towards the path.

A matter of seconds later he called urgently.

Adrian looked down at what Alexander was pointing at and started. He dropped to his knees and turned the soldier slightly onto his side. Then he let him fall back onto his face.

“His throat's been cut,” he said simply. “It looks to me as though he was floored first and then killed.”

“Oh,” Alexander gasped as though he'd been struck. ”Like…”

“Yes,” Adrian agreed before Alexander could draw the analogy he'd already seen. “But where's his friend?”

“What do you mean?” Alexander asked baffled.

“The other soldier,” Adrian explained. “I doubt he's alive.”

They looked about a bit.

After a few minutes Alexander spoke. “I'll look down on the beach for him,” he suggested.

“No,” Adrian quickly stayed him. “You look up here. I'll look on the beach. It's probably safer for you if I go down.”

“All right,” Alexander agreed, but he wasn't used to being told what to do by Adrian. He didn't look around, but watched Adrian carefully make his way down the path to the bay.

About eight minutes later Adrian returned with a face that told the news before he spoke.

“He's dead,” Adrian stated flatly. “Stabbed in the side, possibly killed by the fall, perhaps finished off by the other cut across the side of his neck.”

“How do you know the cut on his neck was after the fall?” Alexander questioned.

“I'm guessing from the way he's lying, and the fact that most of the blood is on the sand by his neck, Adrian replied calmly. “I think we need to report it.”

“He'll ask us why we didn't tell him at once.” Alexander stated.

“Say we had to check for danger and search for the other man first.”

“Fine,” Alexander agreed. “I'll go.”

“We'll go together,” Adrian stated almost defensively. “If someone stays he'll think we're not worried about being attacked ourselves. Particularly if it's me who stays. “

“And if we go together he'll call us cowards,” Alexander grumbled. “I suppose being seen as cowards is better than collaborators with them though,” he agreed. “Come on then.” He turned away from the dead soldier and towards the fort. Adrian followed him and together they hurried back along the path towards the fort.

 

16.5

The three smugglers scrambled down from one of many exits on the cliffs and ran across to their boat which they had lowered with Simon's help to the beach. They lifted it between them and carried it down to the water's edge.

“We haven't done this in some time,” Tom noted with a laugh.

“I hope the soldiers don't see us,” Ted muttered.

“You said that you'd killed both of them,” Tom replied casually. “No one will see.”

“Change of duty,” Ted grunted. “I don't know who's on guard now.”

“We'll take them out if they give us trouble,” Tom shrugged it off.

“Of course,” Ted smiled slightly. His brother was missing the point. “But they might see and just tell.”

“I'd not thought of that,” Tom admitted with a slightly nervous laugh.

“Shall we pick them up from the bay?” Terry suddenly asked with one sandaled foot in the boat and the other in the shallow water.

“Yes,” Ted agreed. “That's probably best.”

Terry brought his other foot in and picked up one of their shallow water poles for pushing the boat. Ted jumped straight from the beach to the boat and picked up the other pole. Tom waded to the boat and pushed it out a bit further. Then he too jumped in.

They pushed the boat through the shallow water until they reached the bay where Ted leaped out again, this time not quite making it to the dry sand.

“Come on then,” he called quietly to the gathered villagers. They quickly came down and waded out to the boat. The young man with the axe helped them into the boat along with the smugglers, but once they were all in, he turned to go.

“Come on Jude,” Ted offered him a hand.

“I'm not coming yet,” Jude replied. 'I'm going back to the castle to help them.'

Ted thought for a moment before answering him. “How do you intend getting past the new guards? They've just changed duty.”

“I told them I'd come back,” Jude said hesitantly.

“Have they got someone to lead them?” Ted asked unsure of the course he should encourage.

“Well, yes,” Jude faltered. “The watcher, but…”

Ted relaxed. He had seen the watcher before the war. “The watcher will do well,” he reassured. “That was a good choice.”

“But they won't obey…”

“They'll learn to,” Ted shrugged. “The watcher is the best person to lead them.”

Jude gave in. “All right,” he agreed and took the hand held out to him. “I hope it will be all right any way.” He got into the boat among delighted faces. Secretly he was as pleased as them. He didn't want to stay, but he had felt it his duty.

No one argued about putting on blindfolds and within three minutes they were pulling away from the beach towards the opening in the rocks.

“You best take the tiller Ted,” Tom suddenly said. “I can't keep a steady course in rough seas.”

“All right,” Ted agreed and swapped places with tom.

“I'll try and keep even with you Terry,” Tom laughed.

“You always do,” Terry smiled. He was a strong rower despite his appearance.

Once in the open sea they put up the mast and sail and then took the blindfolds off the villagers. The wind was near enough in front of them and they were struggling to make any head way against it. The clouds above them were breaking up and the wind although still furiously strong had weakened since the thunder had ceased its utterance. They were relieved at this, for it was very difficult to continuously tack at a broad angle of fifty degrees to the wind. In lighter winds they could easily have tacked at a shallower angle, but now this was the shallowest they could manage. The waves beat on the boat, occasionally breaking over her sides. Then one or another of the smugglers would bail out the water.

Some of the villagers were sea sick, much to Ted's disgust. Jude helped anyone who needed help whether it was a young child who needed to be held while a parent was sick or someone who needed support not to fall over board. He was there for anyone who needed him. He himself was not sick, which was just as well. Sometimes he helped the smugglers bail out water.

The boat struggled on against the wind. Eventually they saw land ahead. Encouraged the smugglers tacked more sharply into the wind and eventually took down the sails and rowed. It was a long hard row to the land, but they could no longer sail. Exhausted they put down their ores in the shallow water of the beach below the hill. They got out and pulled the boat into the shallower water where they helped the villagers out. Then they lifted the boat and carried it up to the top of the beach. Once the boat was safely out of the reach of the waves, they led the still heaving villagers up to the hill and their new home. Ted never forgot the look on their faces when they saw the friends and family who had gone before them. He never forgot Jude's face when his best friend came running down the hill to greet him.

 

16.6

I don't actually know when I realised that I had to lead. Jude wasn't coming back. He couldn't. The soldiers had already come and were advancing on the castle, breaking into every house and searching it. We were glad that we were in the castle. We were glad that most of us weren't there at all. I remember Johnny running up to me and saying “Watcher, watcher. When can I shoot at them?”

I shook my head. Now wasn't the time.

“You'll tell me when I can won't you,” he persisted, his little boyish voice piping excitedly in the echoing hall.

I nodded and smiled at him. He trusted me if no one else did, but that was because I didn't side line him. I counted him as important. He was. If it wasn't for him things may have turned out very different.

I stood on the top of the tower and anxiety rose up in me. I had hoped that it wouldn't end up like this, but it had. I would have to lead and that meant so many things. It meant I would have to get the men to obey me. That wouldn't be easy for a start. Adam was set against me. I feared that he would try to become leader. He couldn't do it. He didn't think about things first. He just ran into the fight without considering the results of his rashness. I feared that the other men would just follow him, but then I remembered Able standing in the hall and giving me that reassuring smile that said, “I'm with you,” and I knew he was. I smiled and looked down at the soldiers who were now lining up to face the castle.

Let them come. Let them all come and taste our weapons. I didn't know if we'd prevail, but what did that matter. If we fell defending our home, what did it matter. At least we would die opposing them. Most of the men now wanted to flee, but we could not, so we would fight. Let them come and we will face them I thought and scowled at the army that beset us.

After a few minutes I turned away and went down the stairs to the main hall where the majority of the men and women were gathered together. Able wasn't there so I left again and searched for him. I found him at the main door checking that it was secure.

When he heard me he turned and smiled. “Do you approve?” he asked me and I nodded. Of course I approved. He was securing our safety.

I signalled to him to tell him that the men needed to get ready to fight. He nodded and went with me to the hall. The men slowly stood up at Abel's instruction and wondered off with obvious reluctance to find their weapons which they should have had ready. They would have had them ready had Jude been in charge still. But it was me, not Jude and they didn't like that.

 


Submitted: July 17, 2012

© Copyright 2022 Cwester. All rights reserved.

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Comments

Julie March

I can feel the tension growing in this chapter. I also saw the connection between Adrian and-I think-Harry. But again, if I'm wrong, don't correct me. I'll figure it out eventually. Great chapter!

Thu, July 19th, 2012 5:58pm

Author
Reply

I'm glad you are still enjoying it. I won't tell you a thing. :D Thanks for reading and commenting.

Fri, July 20th, 2012 2:08am

andreamay

Decided this time not to comment on each subchapter. No need, and no time. Too curious to see what happens.
Let me see now (thinking out loud): Adrian had met the smugglers some thirteen years ago when Harry was still with the brothers. Right? Battle for the castle is just a step away. Where is Simon? Watcher is alone. Uh.
16.2
Corrections. Beginning of the second paragraph. Quote: Excitement rose with in him... ("within him")
16.3
Corrections. Quote: "It was good food all the same," Joe persisted, unmoveable. ("unmovable")
Quote: ".... Could you hear the waterfalls?" "What water falls?" ("waterfalls")
Quote: "If you heard water falls, they weren't that loud." ("waterfalls" )
Quote: "There were water falls," ("waterfalls")
Quote: "He'll make a good business man" ("business man")
The last sentence. Quote: ... they were both fast asleep, warn out by the day's work. ("worn out")
16.4
Quote: "All right," Ted agreed and swapped places with tom. ("Tom" - capital letter)

Mon, May 26th, 2014 9:37pm

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Thank you for reading and commenting. I've made the corrections on my computer. All the pieces are starting to fall into place for the climax now, or at least I hope they are. I'm delighted that you are enjoying it that much.

Tue, May 27th, 2014 2:29pm

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