Chapter 5:

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

Reads: 235
Comments: 3

5.1

A tall heavily built man in his early twenties with dark blond hair and blue eyes lounged on a comfortable couch behind a table. His clothes were outrageously inappropriate for his job. Embroidery a dawned both Brest panels of his elaborate jacket and his tunic was hung with ornaments. His thick gold chain and richly jewelled sword that both hung round his neck displayed his wealth admirably.

From the round window to this man's right light streamed and illuminated him and the table before him. The latter was of a dark wood, appearing speckled in the impure light. Contrasting profusely in colour, a mother-of-pearl mosaic jug rose in the centre of the pool of light. Just outside the reach of the sun, a closed leather bound volume lay, semi covering an age stained chart. The ends of four lines of script showed from under the book, reading:

thouse Fort. There is

e not the intelligence of

secret which I encourage

ch diligently.

Across from the first sat his opposite, a tall, lanky figure with dark hair and countenance. His clothes were dismally ill fitting and worn. He perched rather than sat, leaning forward from the edge of his chair and semi covering his face with a thin bony hand. The heavy beard seemed to ripple as he spoke, to sight the only sign he'd said a word for his lips hardly moved. His eyes were hard and cold, his eyebrows always contorted into some expression of hate, anger, disgust or displeasure. The handle of a knife protruded from his Brest pocket. But for all his appearance, a gold chain equal in weight to that of his host hung beneath his attire.

'I know where their base is,' the host declared carelessly although he did not feel the way he portrayed it. 'But tell me Billy, where do they land on the far shore?'

'No fear,' Billy scoffed. 'I don't wonna hang from no mast.'

'No no indeed,' the blue eyed man smiled in a way that didn't completely seem reassuring. 'I wouldn't want to put your life at risk. I only meant that it would be good if they were caught.'

'How do ya mean,' Billy demanded leaning further forward.

'Allow me to explain,' the man smiled enticingly. 'You tell me, or if you'd prefer, tell the authorities on the shore. You inform on their movement and landing places which you have insisted you are familiar with. The authorities catch them or prevent them from landing. Nothing can be linked back to you. It's so simple.'

'What's it worth?' Billy asked in a low growl of a voice.

'That,' the other answered and with a flare, hurled a leather bag down onto the table.

Billy's hand darted from his face and snatched at the thong that bound the bag shut. He opened the bag and plucked up a coin between his thumb and forefinger. His teeth bit on the cold metal and he smiled. He replaced the coin and weighed the gold in his hand.

'We've got a deal mate,' he smiled. 'A deal.'

'Will you tell them, or me?'

'Them, as ya gave me the choice,' Billy semi snarled and what appeared to be a smile traced across his face. 'I don't trust ya and I'd rather ya didn't know.' He rose and laid one skeleton like hand on the engraved door. 'So till I see ya.' He almost hissed and lolloped out of the cabin, his right hand tightly clasping the bag of gold.

 

5.2

Simon pulled himself into a crouch, every muscle in his body tense. Barely had he got into his new position when three men ran into the hall from one of the side tunnels. Simon sprung to his feet and drew his sword, afraid of these men. The men didn't hesitate or pause in the least. They surrounded him and trapped him from running. Alarmed, Simon made a show of charging the weakest looking man, but instead of giving ground as Simon expected, the man drew his short, broad bladed sword and crossed with Simon.

Simon felt the strength and speed of his opponent in that single stroke and backed off, but the man didn't let him. He came at him again, sweeping his sword through the air to clash on Simon's parrying stroke. As he fought with this man he saw out of the corner of one eye, one of the other men had drawn his sword and was closing in. he tried to step back the other way and felt a sword point pressed against his back. He was trapped. He couldn't move. He'd lost and he could do nothing about it.

He sheathed his sword and dropped his hands to his sides. All three men put their sword points against him, one on the back, one on his chest and one on his neck. He kept very still and looked anxiously at the two men he could see.

After a moment the one man who had been fighting him and had his sword to his neck, sheathed his sword and took hold of Simon's wrists. The other two men stepped slightly back, but still pointed their swords at him. Quickly the first man pulled Simon's arms behind his back and held them firmly there for a moment. He heard the man behind him sheath his sword and then he felt his wrists taken from the first man.

'Ok Tom,' the first man spoke quietly. 'Take him through.'

Instantly he was pushed roughly out of the hall and down one of the tunnels. They turned several corners and eventually they entered a small chamber with a heavy stone door. When all of them were in, the first man closed the door and hung a lantern up on a hook, high above the door. He uncovered it and let the full light stream across the stone floor, walls and roof, also revealing that the three men were well armed.

'Who are you?' the first man demanded of him as Tom turned him to face the speaker and the brown haired man who still had his sword in his hand.

Simon didn't know what to do. He had no idea who these men were or what they wanted. At last he stumbled over the words, 'I, I'm called Simon.'

'And what are you doing here Simon?' the first man continued. He was calm and his voice sounded gentle, but Simon felt afraid of him all the same.

'The boat got a leak,' he answered quickly.

'I don't mean like that,' the man stopped him. 'I mean, why are you here? Why are you in the tunnels?'

'I, I don't know,' Simon faltered. 'We found a cave and door and I…' he paused awkwardly.

'We?' the man queried. 'Who's 'we'?'

Again Simon didn't know what to say. He didn't want to reveal his friends to these men and yet he didn't know any reason why not to, except that they were aggressive. 'There's no one else here,' he lied at last, but it was too late.

'Terry?' the man murmured looking at the brown haired man with his sword drawn.

Terry stepped forward and pressed the tip of his sword against Simon's unprotected chest.

'Don't give me that Simon,' the first man, who was obviously their leader, said coldly. 'We heard you call. You've got friends who know about the tunnels too. Who are they?'

Simon thought about this a moment before carefully constructing his answer. 'If you heard me call,' he said slowly, 'then why do you need me to tell you who my friends are?'

'He's got a point Ted,' Tom muttered from behind Simon.

Their leader, Ted, nodded. 'Tom,' he said quietly. 'We don't know if there are more. Not that we can't find it out though.' Then turning to Simon he spoke again. 'Ok Simon. We know you have two friends at least. Joe and Nathan.' He paused long enough for Simon to nod before continuing. 'We don't know if you have more than two. Now tell us truthfully, or there'll be trouble, do you…'

'No,' Simon sighed and dropped his eyes. 'Joe and Nathan are my only companions. Nathan's my uncle and Joe's my cousin.'

'And how did you find the tunnels,' Ted asked firmly but not unkindly. 'Did the others find it or was it just you?'

'We came along the beach,' Simon began uncertainly. 'The tide cut us off and we couldn't swim in it. The waves were too strong. We climbed the cliffs. We couldn't get to the top but we reached a safe ledge and sat on it. I leant back into what I thought was a crevice and fell backwards into the cave. That's how we found it. We all made it our base and brought our food and things there. We saw a door in the back wall and when the others were out I worked out how to open it. I didn't think to wait for them. I just went into the tunnels and got lost. And that's about it.'

'I don't believe him,' Terry stated bluntly.

'I can't say I do either,' Tom agreed. 'People don't just find this kind of thing.'

'I'm telling the truth,' Simon protested, his eyes flashing indignantly. 'I'm not lying. I promise.'

'Few enough human's keep promises,' Ted said almost bitingly.

'Well I do,' Simon stated, offended that they didn't trust him. 'I…'

'I don't want to hear any of your justification,' Ted snapped. Simon could hardly believe it was the same man. One moment gentle, the next threatening and aggressive. 'I don't trust you and nor do my friends. Now just tell us the truth.'

Fear made Simon want to run. He struggled to get loose of tom's strong grip but to no avail. As he twisted and strove to escape Tom tightened his grip and forced him down onto the ground. He put his foot on Simon's back and pulled his arms up so that Simon cried out and gave up. Ted knelt beside him and unbuckled his belt, taking his knife and sword. Then he searched through his pockets, taking everything from him and handing them without a glance to Tom. Terry pressed the sword against his shoulder, pressing so hard that the tip pierced the skin and let a small bead of blood ooze through his tunic.

Ted rose again and picked up a bag that Terry had dropped. He took something from it and came across to Simon again. He heard the clink and felt the cold mettle of the chain on his wrists. A heavy lock clipped the chain round his wrists in a figure of eight formation, locking the ends and middle together. Then Simon was roughly pulled to his feet and pushed back against a wall. Tom looped the end of the chain over a hook, high above Simon's head and pulled it tight before locking it.

'Ok Simon,' Ted spoke coldly. 'How did you really find the cave? Were you told about it by some one? Someone from the village perhaps, or from the fort? Just tell us the truth.'

'I did,' cried Simon. 'I tell you I did find it as I said. No one told us. We hadn't met anyone yet. I didn't even know there was a village or a fort. I know there's a lighthouse but I don't know anything else. Please!'

Terry tugged at the chain that held his hands, causing him to gasp in pain. His arms were hurting anyway. Any more tension hurt very much in deed.

Ted stood still, watching him. After a moment he became gentle again. 'Ok Simon,' he said quietly. 'We will see how truthful you are later, when we bring your friends in. they'll tell us what we want to know, either confirming what you've said, or else revealing conclusively to us that you've lied. Take him down,' he finished, glancing at Tom.

Tom loosed the chain from the hook and pushed Simon away from the wall. Ted pulled a cloth over his eyes, blindfolding him. Simon didn't like this at all but he didn't dare fight.

They turned left out of the room and then took another left. Then they swung him round to disorientate him. It worked. He had no idea of where he was lead from there. Often they spun him round. Eventually they took the blindfold off him in a very small cell like room. There were several iron or bronze rings on the walls and to one of these the chain that held his hands was locked. Then they took another chain and locked his feet together. The other end they locked to another ring. He knew he was helpless.

 

Just as they were about to leave, Simon pulled all his courage together and spoke. 'Please,' he called, his voice trembling with fear. 'Please give me a drink of water.'

Ted gestured to Tom who handed him a water skin. Carefully Ted opened the lid and held it to Simon's lips. 'Drink,' he said quietly and let him swallow the water they'd brought.

Simon didn't drink as much as he'd have liked, but it was better than nothing. Ted stopped the water skin, handed it back to Tom and then they'd left, closing and locking the stone door behind them.

 

5.3

Ted took the lantern from Terry as they walked briskly away from the cell.

'Do you think he's telling us the truth about his friends being in that cave?' Terry asked doubtfully.

Ted nodded. 'He looked worried enough when we said we'd bring his friends in.'

'Don't you think that was because he was lying to us and we'd find out?' Terry offered his view on it.

'Perhaps,' Ted replied quietly. 'We can't know until we question them though. He may be telling the truth, though it's unlikely.'

'We'll have to take them separately and question them one at a time,' Tom stated.

Ted nodded again. 'It's the only way of really finding out what they know and how.'

When shall we do it?' Terry asked. 'And how?'

'I think,' Ted replied thoughtfully, 'one of us should come in from the tunnels while the other two come from outside, in the boat, just as the tide's coming in. they wouldn't expect that even if they are expecting an attack. As it is, I think we'll have to wait for tomorrow night before we take them. We can't afford to stay much longer. The tide's dropping and we've got to get back before we're missed.'

'We're going to be missed whatever,' Tom muttered. 'It's gone two and the commander nearly always checks between three and four. But I agree that we should get back now.'

Terry nodded. This was now much more like the old days and he was slipping easily back into his old position in the trio.

Ted led the way back to the ledge and the boat. They lowered it with the poles and boat hooks. Then Ted lowered the ladder. Tom and Terry climbed down and steadied the boat. Ted rolled the ladder up again and jumped down into the boat. It rocked violently for a moment before stabilising in the calm sea. Tom took the rudder while Ted and Terry rowed. It didn't take them long to negotiate the rocks, circumnavigate the lighthouse and pull into the harbour. No one was out. They pulled alongside the mother ship and boarded. As quietly as they could, which was nearly silently, they lifted the boat from the water and put it back into place on the deck. They put all the ropes and ores in position and took their added equipment with them as they came ashore and crept into their sleeping hall. No one stirred. They put their things away and silently went to bed, hoping that the commander was running late on his hall check or had forgotten.

 

5.4

Joe carefully slipped out of his blankets and stole across the cave floor to the cave mouth. He crawled out and looked out at the sea. The sun had risen about an hour before and the cool water glittered in its light. He climbed down the cliffs and walked out across the long stretch of almost level sand to the edge of the sea. It looked as though it was at its lowest point. He took off his clothes and leaving them a fair distance from the water’s edge, he waded out. The water became deeper much more quickly than he'd expected, but there was nearly no current, so he splashed and messed around safely, just with in his depth. After about five minutes he climbed back up onto the beach and dressed again, carrying his boots loosely in one hand. He climbed back up the cliffs to the lower ledge and sat there a while just enjoying the day. The cave was a good base, but he'd rather not be in it. It reminded him of Simon, but then, so did the sea.

Nathan climbed down to him, glad that he'd not gone missing. He'd brought some food and a water skin with him. Together they headed to the beach where the ashes of the previous day's fire still were scattered on the sand above the tide line. They sat down and ate in silence. It was a silence that suggested mixed feelings. After breakfast Nathan stood up and suggested that they went to the village, filled the water skins they'd emptied and then look around a bit. It was agreed and they headed up the cliff path to the village.

Jude met them in the village and warned them of the possibility of soldiers being about if they went exploring. They thanked him, filled their water skins and went exploring. If there was trouble, they justified, they had their knives.

There was little enough to see on the land. Other than the hill, Aresh Sept Hill, there was a fort that they didn't want to go too near to, a lighthouse they'd already seen, and a harbour at the bottom of the next dip in the cliffs. The harbour had a few fishing boats chained to the wall and several naval vessels of varying size from boats with only ores to galleons with three masts. On the shore three large low building sprawled with washing lines running their length. Very few people were about and they kept out of sight. Behind the harbour was another road that disappeared away across the grass and over a line of six very distant hills, the Aresh Line. Dotted on the grass on the other side of the harbour were a few stone farm buildings. It appeared that the army and navy had taken requisition of these and they were un-kept and dirty in appearance.

They returned to the village and set off across the grass towards what looked like a settlement of some kind. On reaching it they found it was a camp of displaced men women and children. A few canvas sheets had been set up to make a shade for the people but other than that there was very little there. The people were poor and frightened. Nathan's and Joe's appearance had caused great fear until they explained that they were not soldiers and were also staying in the area, far from their home. It was true, but they had a lot more than any of these people and they knew it. They saw a mother carrying her baby in a cloth, for she had no clothes for it. Most of the people here had only the clothes on their backs and a couple of blankets per family.

When Nathan and Joe shared their water the people were overjoyed and thronged round them, trying to get a mouth full. When they gave a packet of oats to the village, the men divided up the food exactly and gave it to the women. Fires were lit, a few battered pots filled with the water Nathan and Joe had and the oats was cooked.

Nathan and Joe were invited to eat with them but they declined. They now realised how little these people had. They now realised how much the village on the hill under the shadow of the castle had. They realised how much they had and they felt sad that so many others did not have anything. Their wish to trade with the people of the country for food disappeared and they found that they wanted to give.

As they walked back towards the cliffs, sometime after mid-day, they voiced their feelings.

'I thought people only thought of themselves,' Joe began.

'What do you mean?' Nathan asked bewildered by Joe's line of consideration.

'Well,' Joe replied hesitantly. 'I've seen those people and I feel as though I want to help them. They've got nothing and I feel as though I just want to give them something, for nothing.'

'I know what you mean,' Nathan said slowly. 'I feel the same, but we've also got to get help for ourselves. We've got to get home, and that means fixing the boat.'

'Yes,' Joe agreed. 'I know, but still…'

'Yes,' Nathan nodded without Joe having to say any more. 'We've got more than they have and we can't fix the boat anyway. No one can give us a thing. They have nothing. We can give for nothing but…'

They walked in silence for a while. Then at the cliff top they stopped and sat on the grass. The tide was still high and would be until about four.

'Well, I guess we can help them,' Nathan said at some length. 'But if we can fix our boat, maybe, perhaps, we just might be able to get home and bring back food to the people. We can slip the food past the soldiers and sailors and to the people who need it.'

Joe thought about it for a long time. 'Like smuggling?' he asked finally. 'Surely we don't want to get mixed up in smuggling!' he could hardly believe that his father was even suggesting it.

'Well not exactly,' Nathan protested. 'We won't get any money for the food so strictly speaking we wouldn't be smugglers.'

'Getting money doesn't make you a smuggler,' Joe almost whispered, so great was his amazement. 'Just getting things from one place to another illegally is smuggling.'

'It's not illegal to move food,' Nathan justified. 'Come on Joe. The army are taking the food and that's illegal. Moving food isn't. And anyway. Smugglings not that far removed from piracy. And you don't have a problem with that do you?'

'Actually I do,' Joe muttered but then changed his opinion on the smuggling. 'I suppose it's ok to smuggle food if you're helping people and not doing it for gain. It might be illegal but we would be helping.'

'Exactly,' Nathan smiled, glad that Joe had seen his point.

'But we can't until we fix the boat,' Joe pointed out. 'And we can't fix the boat.'

'We'll have to think on that one,' Nathan consented.

They did think on it. They thought a lot, but neither could come up with a solution for some time. Eventually they went down to the beach, up to the cave and collected some food. They ate lunch and cooked some food for supper, which they left in the cave. Then they went up to the village and left a package of food for them by the well, only telling a young girl to tell Jude that it was there as a gift to the village.

 

5.5

I saw the first soldier. He came running across the land towards the road and the village. He was quite a way off when I first saw him but I knew he was a soldier instantly. He had a helmet on and it was a bright flashing beacon on the green grass. I ran and pointed him out to Jude. Jude called for the other men and boys to help him get the sheep up into the castle. Some girls also helped. They're ok with the sheep.

I climbed up onto one of the roofs and watched the soldier. I remember wondering why he was alone. It's obvious now why, but then I didn't know. None of us did. Many of the villagers gathered their belongings and moved into the castle. That was our plan. We could fight better from the castle than in the village. Most of our things were already in the castle. I only had a blanket in the house.

The soldier didn't run all the time. A minute or so after I first saw him he slowed to a brisk walk. Soon I could see his weapons. He had a shield on his shoulder and his spear in his right hand. His sword was at his side. When he reached the road he stopped and looked all round him. Seeing the fort he turned quickly towards the village. At least now I think it was quickly. I don't absolutely recall how I saw it then.

Most of the village were already in the castle. Jude and some of the other boys were helping Aunty Lucy to move my grandmother to the castle when the soldier reached the foot of the hill. They had reached the top of the steps and had the door open when he came to the first house.

I carefully jumped down from the roof and held my rapier tightly, hidden behind my back. I would fight this soldier if he came near my grandmother. Jude also turned round and gripped his axe. He ran down towards the soldier to threaten him. When Jude was level with me the soldier had reached the square and saw us coming towards him. He hesitated and stopped on the castle side of the well.

'Wait here,' Jude whispered to me. I knew he would call me if he needed help. I was sure he'd be all right though.

The next moment changed my standing with the soldier. He threw down his spear and held his hands out to Jude. 'Save me,' he cried. 'Protect me. Hide me,' he begged. I could hardly believe it. Here was a soldier asking a villager for protection. It defied the rules of soldiers.

Jude kept his head splendidly. 'Protection from who?' he asked the soldier.

'I'm a deserter,' the soldier told him. 'My troop was defeated at the Aresh line,' he pointed to the line of hills. 'I kept together with some of the troop under our commander,' he continued telling Jude while I watched not too sure if he was telling the truth. 'We were attacked at mid-day while we were eating and I took fright and ran. Please hide me.' He finished.

It was the 'I took fright,' bit that made up our minds. I saw instantly that Jude was thinking the same thing as me. This man was lying. That was what we thought. He'd been sent as a spy and was just waiting to take all those able to fight away into the army and steal what little food we had. We'd been given food by Nathan again but we weren't willing to share it with thieving soldiers.

I was ready to kill the soldier there and then but Jude was one step ahead of me, and just as well.

He told the man he would hide him so long as the soldier left his weapons where Jude said. The soldier agreed and gave his sword, spear, shield, helmet and chain link shirt. Then Jude led him into the castle. He gave the armour and weapons to me and took the soldier to a tower. He locked him up in one of the rooms in the tower where nothing was stored. The poor soldier didn't realise his danger until Jude drew the bolt, or so Jude told the rest of us. Now, I wonder if he hadn't guessed and decided to risk it anyway.

I went then up to the top of the fore most of the towers, overlooking the village. I kept my careful watch from there.


Submitted: April 10, 2012

© Copyright 2022 Cwester. All rights reserved.

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Comments

Julie March

I am loving this novel more and more with every passing chapter. It reminds me of the classic adventure stories I grew up with. I like how there's action, but it's not all slashing and gore. You rely on an actual plot to carry the novel. I can also see how the plots are starting to intermingle as we get closer to the climax, and I really like that. Great work!

Sat, July 14th, 2012 3:54am

Author
Reply

Thank you. I am glad that I have mannaged to cary it on the plot.

Tue, July 17th, 2012 6:06am

andreamay

When I wake up in the morning and have a feeling that I dreamed about what I've been reading, that means I dived in the story completely. It happened to me this morning. And then I found out you added two more very intriguing characters to the mystery...

But now I have to be your pain in the neck with my typing corrections:

Second paragraph, quote "...one of the other men had drawn his sword and was closing in. he tried..." ("He" should be with the capital letter)
At the beginning of the paragraph, somewhere in the middle, quote "Fear made Simon want to run. He struggled to get loose of tom's strong..." ("Tom's" with the capital letter)
A headache again quote "...felt the cold mettle of the chain on his wrists". I'm not that smart, but some grammar site says "The noun metal refers to an element with a shiny surface. The noun mettle means courage or spirit". The other internet source says "Metal and mettle are closely related, with shared roots in the Latin metallum. In fact, they were variants of each other in their main senses until around the 17th century, when they began to differentiate." I pointed it out just in case...
"His arms were hurting anyway. Any more tension hurt very much in deed" (did you mean it this way, or it should be "indeed"?)
Now Ted is speaking: "We will see how truthful you are later, when we bring your friends in. they'll tell us..." (needs capital letter in "They'll")
Ted again: "... from outside, in the boat, just as the tide's coming in. they wouldn't..." ("They" with the capital letter)

Thu, May 22nd, 2014 3:31pm

Author
Reply

Thank you very much for reading and commenting. I am delighted that you are enjoying it enough to dream about it! Again, all the corrections you pointed out are correct and I have changed them on the coppy I keep on my computer. Metal/mettle, is, I'm afraid, a common error I make. please do point it out if I have done it again. I can't spot it at all by listening to my computer, unless I go through letter by letter, which I never do, unless pecificly correcting something. Thank you very much. Your corrections and comments are very helpful and encouraging.

Sat, May 24th, 2014 5:06am

andreamay

Please, help me with this site! I don't know what's happening here! I've written comments on every chapter so far, the last one being on the tenth chapter, but my comment on the third is missing and it's happened for the second time. I wrote it twice!

Sat, May 24th, 2014 12:08pm

Author
Reply

This site can be tricky sometimes. One click on the wrong button by accident and a comment can be deleted. I'm afraid I may have accidently done it this last time. Would you mind trying to comment on chapter 3 once more? Please?

Sat, May 24th, 2014 7:12am

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