Chapter 6:

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

Reads: 234
Comments: 2

6.1

Simon lay on his front, his hands behind his back and his ankles tightly held together. He'd sat down almost as soon as the three men left the room and finding that uncomfortable, he'd rolled onto his belly. It was more comfortable but he was now bored. He didn't know how long he'd been there but his fear of the three men had reduced to a nagging point in the back of his mind which he knew would leap forward again as soon as he heard a noise. For the moment however his usual want to explore and find things out was most prevalent and he let it take control. He rolled into a sitting position, pulled his knees up to his chest and launched himself to his feet. Then he jumped forwards and backwards, testing the length of the chains. He found he could, if he should want to, reach the door and all three walls, although getting to the door was difficult and pulled on his arms.

Next he tried to get his feet loose. He leaned on one of the walls and twisted his ankles in the tight chains. He tried very hard to get loose but he could not. At one point, even though he was leaning against the wall he lost his balance and almost fell. Eventually he sat down and tried again without worrying about falling over. He still could not get loose. His ankles hurt where the chains had rubbed, but they were no looser.

Simon sat with his knees pulled up to his chest for a while staring at the door. His legs started to hurt from keeping him upright when he felt as though he was falling backwards. With some difficulty Simon rolled onto his front and from their wriggled onto his knees. It was much more comfortable. He then set about trying to free his wrists. He couldn't. He tried for hours to free his wrists and ankles, but all in vain. He could not get free. The three men had chained him too well.

At last Simon dropped back on to his belly and gave up trying to escape for the moment. He had no chance while the chains were on him unless he could damage the chains somehow. This thought made him smile. He got to his feet again and set about damaging the chains. He began with his wrists by continuously hitting the chain on the wall. It hurt his wrists, but he decided it would be worth it. When his arms were tired he sat down and did the same to the chain on his ankles. He had no idea how long it would take, but he was sure it would be worth it. He was desperate to escape. He hadn't yet thought about opening the door or finding his way through the tunnels.

 

6.2

Adrian sat on the wall looking down into the courtyard where four men leant lazily against the steps while supposedly guarding the gate. Adrian and Alexander discovered that in some respect they did have authority. The commander was permanently drunk and didn't give a single order. The sergeants kept together and schemed up ways of getting hold of extra drink and the best food. The corporals mostly mixed with the soldiers, some of them even taking off their stripes. Adrian and Alexander quickly worked out that there were men who would obey orders, even if they did it extremely sloppily. They had organised a small group of men who did as they were told and they were hoping to tighten up the discipline in the group. Adrian was pleased with what he and Alexander had achieved in such a short time. He had only risen that morning and still had to rest himself.

Alexander entered the courtyard from the main building. The men stood up and shuffled a bit closer to the gate.

'Are you soldiers?' Alexander snapped at the men. 'Attention! You're meant to be on guard, not lounging in the recreation room.'

The men sheepishly moved over to the gate and stood up straight and alert, or as far as it was possible for them to be. They hadn't been to attention for several months and they had never really been disciplined.

Alexander marched up the steps and along the wall to where Adrian sat.

'I reckon we can get discipline back here,' Alexander smiled as he sat down.

'Yes,' Adrian nodded. Then he changed the subject. 'Have you heard the rumour?'

'Sure have,' Alexander confirmed grimly. 'I sent a man out to see if it's true. He'll be coming back soon with news.'

'I hope it's to deny the rumours,' Adrian murmured.

'Well,' Alexander thought carefully. 'I think we're not ready for it if it is true, but it makes our job of returning discipline even more crucial. I think I'll call drill this afternoon, unless you want to.'

'Not yet,' Adrian laughed. 'I've never called drill before and I don't want to mess it up. You do it. I agree it should be done.'

Alexander was about to agree when a cry from below caused him to jump up and look over the parapet.

'Who goes there!' one of the men on guard had cried out.

'What is your business,' another added quickly.

The man who stood outside the gate was surprised but not perturbed. 'I am a soldier and a scout,' he replied. I have intelligence for Corporal Alexander.'

The guards swung the one gate open and allowed him through, closing the gate again behind him.

Adrian and Alexander descended the steps and led the scout into the main building. They found a private room and sat down on a few rickety stools that were standing in the corner.

'So?' Alexander asked the man. 'What news?'

'There are about fifty refugees camping in the plain between the Aresh line and Aresh Sept hill,' the soldier began. 'They look as though they are ready to move on again, closer to us. I didn't get too close, but I also saw three armies camping in various places on this side of the Aresh line. They were ready for battle. I couldn't tell which army was which or even tell if two were the same. No one seems to have proper uniforms now days.'

'So it is true,' Alexander said slowly. 'The soldiers have come. There will be fighting here. Our attempts to keep the fighting at bay have failed.'

'Excuse me sir but,' the soldier spoke up again, hesitantly. 'Since the reinforcements came there has been no attempt at keeping the fighting at bay. I personally think that the village on Aresh Sept hill is ready to attack us for food.'

'I don't think the village will fight,' Alexander said quietly. No village has yet, according to what we've heard. But I do agree with you in saying that no attempts have been made to keep peace since the new troops came. Now it looks like even more new troops will come. Who knows what will happen then.'

A few minutes passed in weary silence. Eventually Alexander rose to his feet.

'Well,' he said. 'We better get on with what we need to do.'

The other two also rose and they left the room, returning to the courtyard.

'Gather the men together,' Alexander ordered the soldier who had brought the news. 'I'm calling drill in fifteen minutes.'

 

6.3

'So how do we do this?' Joe asked his father.

They were sitting on the beach beside their upside down boat. The damage made by the rock was only along one side. Two planks were damaged where they joined.

'Normally,' Nathan replied uncertainly, 'we'd mix up a paste of beeswax and fine fibres from a rope or something like that.' He paused as he ran his finger down the large rip. Splinters pointed jaggedly out but Nathan wasn't worried about them. 'The problem here is that the gap is rather large,' he continued. 'The boards are still firm but the rip itself is large and won't be easy to plug.'

'So what do we do,' Joe posed his question slightly differently. He already knew what his father had told him. His uncle had told him that before he'd killed himself. 

'We'll have to make a wooden plug and seal it in with wax,' Nathan replied. 'I think some of that fire wood would do the trick.'

Joe rose and smiled. He understood. 'I'll go and find a suitable bit,' he suggested.

'Yes, do,' Nathan nodded. 'Try and find a piece about one and a half times the length of the rip with few knots in the wood.'

'Ok,' Joe replied and headed down the beach toward the cave.

Nathan carefully looked at the rip again. He ran his finger along one edge and decided that he had to change the shape of the rip in order to make a plug. He drew his knife and carefully slid it against the splintered edge, trying to cut it at an inward turning slant. The plug would hold more tightly if it had something to slip into. The less wax the needed the better. They didn't have any and Nathan was doubtful whether they would get any on this war stricken shore.

Joe returned with the wood and a few tools. He sat down next to his father and showed him what he'd brought.

'Good,' Nathan praised briefly. 'What you need to do now is split the branch so that we've got a flat edge to work with.'

Joe smiled. He was glad he'd brought the tools he had. He moved a little away from the boat, picked up a chisel and a hammer and carefully lined the chisel up with the line through which he wanted to split the branch. He tapped lightly until the chisel drove a little way into the wood. Then he twisted the chisel out of the wood and moved it along the same line a little way and knocked again. Bit by bit he drew a line in the wood from one end to the other. Then he returned to the beginning and chiselled a deeper line. Gradually, minute by minute, hour by hour, he deepened the cut in the wood until finally the wood broke in half, just as he'd planned.

Meanwhile, Nathan busied himself cutting the edges of the rip to leave a slight inward slope. When Joe's wood broke in two, Nathan had just finished the second edge. He picked up one half and ran his knife blade down the slightly rugged break. Joe did the same to the other piece. One piece would do the job, but they would do better to choose the better of two plugs and Joe knew it.

At last Nathan finished his piece of wood and lined it up with the split. He marked with his knife where he needed to cut away and began to shape the plug. About half an hour later Joe followed suit. First they removed the bark from the wood. Then they cut the long edge away, keeping the edge slightly slanted out to the round side of the wood. Then, taking precise markings they began cutting the edges to fit the shape of the rip.

They were nowhere near finished even with the rough shaping of the plug when Joe pointed out that the tide was coming in. quickly they put their tools in to their belts and the wood they were shaping into the boat, which they righted. Then they hurried down the beach and climbed up to the cave. They had no intention of staying out all night, and it was getting rather dark.

 

6.4

'Atten-tion!'

Ted nudged Tom who stood beside him in the neat line. 'Are you ready for tonight?' he whispered. They hadn't done drill since the first week he'd joined and he didn't take it seriously.

'Yes,' Tom breathed. He wasn't quite as confidant as his friend.

'We'll leave around nine,' Ted whispered.

'Right, face!' the commander bellowed. They turned smartly. Ted now was behind Tom who was behind Terry. In fact they stood in order of hair colour from lightest to darkest. In front of Terry was another man with very dark brown hair as though to complete the optical effect.

'High tide is high enough for them to be in the cave by nine thirty I reckon,' Ted whispered. 'If we go in at....'

'Quick, march!' the commander punctuated every order with a level first syllable and a higher, slightly rising second syllable. Terry struggled to keep a straight face. He found the commander hilarious, strutting up and down the line with his stripes proudly on display and his long thin show sword swinging arrogantly at his side. It was so obvious that if it came to it, the commander would have no clue how to use it. As they set off, Terry intentionally marched with the wrong foot although he kept his arms correct. He was amused to see that the commander didn't notice.

'Around ten,' Ted hissed as they began to march. 'We should get them nicely then. Tell Terry.'

Tom nodded and in his march punched Terry on the shoulder to get his attention. Terry nodded, knowing that his friend had something to say.

'Leave at nine,' Tom muttered. 'Go in at ten.'

Terry nodded again. He liked the idea of slipping out in full day light. The previous night they'd waited till around midnight and had sailed up on the nearly full tide just before it started to drop. Now they'd be attacking on the incoming tide, even before it was really high enough to get to the ledge. This was more like it used to be and he liked it that way.

Drill finished with them saluting the commander. Terry took the opportunity to make fun of the commander without getting caught. He did his solute backwards, but no one noticed except Ted who decided to copy him and still no one noticed.

Ted, Tom and Terry charged off the grass and down the quay as soon as they were dismissed.

'So how do we intend to get a boat without being noticed in full day light?' Tom asked as they slowed to a walk along the harbour wall.

'We're not,' Ted replied calmly. 'Isn't it obvious? The commander already thinks that some things afoot. All we need to do now is keep on his side until nine. Then it's quick, calculated work.'

'He'll try and stop us,' Tom said gloomily. 'He won't just let us go.'

'He can't stop us,' Ted replied. He was utterly unperturbed by what the commander may try. He'd thought all the scenarios through and the worst-case was that all the men guarded the ships, which was seriously unlikely. If that did happen he had another plan anyway. They didn't absolutely need a boat. They could attack through the tunnels. The tide would be high, so there was no escape that way. 'Look,' he said, pausing next to a small boat he particularly liked the look of. 'We can win whatever happens. We don't even have to be in the navy. It's not like we're getting paid is it?'

Tom nodded. He had a point and Tom could see it. Terry didn't care what the plan was or how risky it was. He would follow his Captain where ever he led.

'Ok then,' Ted smiled. 'Be ready for nine.'

'That's only about two hours,' Terry observed as he walked back along the wall to the hall. Terry knew Tom was ready, but he wasn't. Not quite yet.

Less than half an hour later, Ted found himself sitting in the commander's office in the watch tower of the harbour. He'd already eyed the window and decided that it would serve for an escape should he need it, but he doubted he would.

The commander sat opposite him in a high backed wooden chair with broad carved arms. His face was set in a grim expression of getting on with business.

'I have intelligence,' he began almost threateningly, 'that you and some others intend taking a boat and going somewhere against my wishes.'

Ted looked steadily at the commander. He didn't care if the commander had suspicions or had found out some of their plans. He didn't know enough to cause any real harm.

'Is this true?' the commander continued. 'That you intend stealing a naval ship for your own uses?'

'Not steal,' Ted answered in a matter of fact voice. 'Just borrow, for the night.'

'Why?' the commander bleated, astonished at Ted's frankness. He wanted to accuse him but all other words failed him.

'We have a job to do,' Ted replied coolly. 'It's preferable for us to have a boat in order to do the job. We don't have our own boat round here, so we want to borrow one.'

'Without, asking,' the commander exclaimed at last as though giving an order in drill.

'Well yes,' Ted said in such a matter of fact voice that the commander couldn't really argue with him. 'We figured you wouldn't give permission without details of what we wanted to do.'

The commander didn't reply for a while. At last he gathered himself together and said, 'Borrowing without asking is stealing and you know it. I cannot permit this to happen.'

'Then may I borrow a boat?' Ted asked so calmly that the commander felt ashamed at his angry response.

'No you may not,' he almost shouted. 'if you don't want to tell me what you're doing then it's probably illegal and I will not help you,' he justified quickly, trying to make himself feel better about being angry, but it didn't help.

'Well,' Ted sighed quietly. 'I suppose it was worth a try. I can at least now say I did ask.'

The commander looked at him for a long while then stood up. He didn't know Ted very well, but he felt he knew him well enough to know that he would take a boat that night even after this conversation. He wasn't going to allow it. He turned to the door and called to a couple of sailors who he trusted to stand on guard at the door of the office block. They came instantly and at his command took Ted out of the block and round the back of the halls to a small block of holding cells. Ted didn't argue. He only asked if they'd allow him to keep his sword, which they did.

The commander also sent the men to find Tom and Terry. They did and took them also to the cells. They locked them in separate cells, but left their swords.

'One hour,' Ted thought as he sat on the straw pallet in the dressed stone cell. He watched the movement of the sun through the small, high, barred window as the minutes passed. He knew his friends were also here but that didn't bother him. He knew what to do. As half past eight came and went, Ted rose, unsheathed his sword and slid the tip under the wooden door. He edged the tip further and further out of the cell, until the door was over the thick, broad part of the blade. Then Ted took off his shirt and wrapped it round the hilt of his sword. Next he took hold of the sides of the shirt and pulled up as hard as he could. The blade slipped and scraped across the stone floor. Ted scowled. This was really going to wreck the sword. He pushed it back in under the door and pulled up and a little towards the door. The sword slipped again. It wasn't going to work.

Quickly he glanced at the hinges of the door and smiled. Carefully he lined up the crossbar of his sword with the pin of the hinge. A few hefty blows later and the pin had been knocked out. The higher hinge was trickier, but without too much exertion it was accomplished. Ted laid the pins to one side and again used his sword as a leaver, this time on the hinge side of the door. Awkwardly, for there wasn't much room in which to leaver, he prised the door out of its frame. There was an impressive crash as the heavy wooden door fell down onto the stone flags, narrowly missing Ted as he pressed himself against the wall. Ted smiled with satisfaction. It wasn't the first time he'd got out of a cell like this. He still hadn't worked out why they made the doors to open inwards like that, but they did and he was glad of it. He crossed over to where he knew the keys would be kept on a hook by the outside door. They were there as expected. He took them and unlocked his friend's cells.

'Let's go,' he whispered as he replaced the door wide open on its hinges hurriedly attempting to replace the pins to keep the commander wondering how they'd escaped.

Five minutes later they were in the small ships boat with all their equipment, which Tom had wisely moved out of the hall when he saw Ted going with the commander. Less than five minutes more saw them out in the open sea. Free.

 

6.5

It was a beautiful night. The water glimmered in the star light. Below them the waves gently slapped the foot of the cliffs, but further along over to their left the sea came in over some formation of rocks and hit the cliffs fearfully hard. They had quickly worked out that it was only at that one point that the waves were so strong. If they were careful, they could swim at high tide.

They had just finished their meal of cold meat. They didn't have much meat but they enjoyed what they did have. Meat wasn't easy to take on a boat, least of all if it wasn't precooked or dried.

'We'll have to get out quite early tomorrow,' Nathan said quietly. 'We can continue work on the boat and go up to the village later.'

'Yes,' Joe agreed sleepily. He yawned and leaned back against the cliff face.

'Tired?' Nathan mused.

Joe nodded. He didn't know why, but he was.

'I reckon it's the sea air and the taste of good food,' Nathan suggested with a laugh. He didn't know but he liked to guess. 'Come on.' He led the way back into the cave. 'If we get an early night, we can rise early too.' They trimmed the lantern back so that there was just enough of a flame for the next day, then lay down to sleep.

Quarter of an hour later, a figure appeared in the tunnel door. Nathan, who was not quite asleep yet, pressed himself up on one elbow and looked at the smallish figure. 'Simon?' he asked hopefully. He sat up. Joe rolled over and sat up quickly.

'What?' he asked abruptly. 'Simon? Where?'

Lantern light flooded the cave from the outside door bewildering Nathan and Joe. They turned to look and saw, one after the other, two men straightened. Both had drawn swords, the man in front carried the lantern. Then the man in the tunnel door drew his sword.

Joe leaped to his feet and fumbled for his knife, but couldn't find it in his panic. Nathan also rose quickly and drew his knife from his side as he did so.

'Who are you?' Nathan demanded. 'What do you want?'

The man at the door stepped forward, his sword pointed straight at Nathan. 'Don't fight,' he said calmly. 'You can't win. Just put away your knife and come with us.'

Nathan didn't sheathe his knife. He gripped it even more tightly. Joe backed away into a corner. The man, who first spoke, flicked his sword towards the retreating Joe. Instantly the two men leaped forward and struck at him.

'No!' Nathan cried out in dismay. Joe didn't have his knife on him. He had no defence. Nathan tried to leap after the men and defend his son, but the first man was quicker. He leaped between them and struck firmly at Nathan who naturally parried the blow. Next moment he realised that he was being driven back to the wall.

When Joe saw the men charging him he turned and ran. He tried to duck past the one man and get out of the seaward door, but he was too slow. The one man sheathed his sword and leaped on top of him, forcing him to the ground. As he struggled fiercely, the other man leaned over him and pressed the sword against his neck. Joe gave up. He couldn't fight. He wasn't even armed and he could see that these men would hurt him if he fought any more. He dropped down limply under the strong looking of the two men. Next moment he found his arms pulled roughly behind his back and a rope bound round them. He was pulled to his feet and the man with the lantern and sword led the way out of the door to the tunnels.

As Nathan saw his son taken away, he threw down his knife and surrendered. He could do nothing more and he knew it. His opponent watched him for a moment then spoke calmly again.

'Put your hands behind your back,' he ordered. Nathan obeyed. Then the man sheathed his sword and stepped round to Nathan's side, took his wrists and put a chain round them.

'Come,' he ordered and pushed him ahead, down the middle right tunnel.

 

6.6

I first saw them through the tower window. I brought food up to the soldier. I came in to the room and handed him a small bowl of soup. He thanked me and then turned and pointed to the window. 'Have you seen them?' he asked me. I didn't move. I thought it might be a trap. Then he spoke again. 'Refugees. They came about five minutes ago. They're in the square by the well.' At that point I took his word for it and came away from the door to look out. He stood beside me. The window was a large one, but barred so he couldn't get out through it.

I looked down into the square. They were all gathered round the well, drawing water and mixing up a cold paste or mush I guessed to be their only food. There must have been thirty or more of them and they all looked miserable.

'I feel sorry for them,' the soldier said after some time. 'I joined the army to protect them. It didn't end up that way though. It all became stupid. Just killing. Civilians too. That's not why I fought. That's partly why I deserted, other than being scared.'

I looked at him and found I believed him. He wasn't taking advantage of the fact that he was alone with me, even if I was armed. He kept a reasonable distance and he was trying to make conversation. I smiled at him and he laughed.

'Do you fight?' he asked me and I nodded. 'I thought so,' he continued. 'All your village are ready to fight.'

I nodded and moved towards the door. I had to get to bed. I needed to be up early the next day and I needed to tell Jude about what I'd seen.

The soldier sat down on the bench that ran along one wall and turned to his food. 'I'll see you,' he said as I left, closing the door behind me.

I went to Jude and pointed out the people in the square. He said he'd work out what to do, so I left him to it and went to my room in the top of the tower to sleep.


Submitted: April 10, 2012

© Copyright 2022 Cwester. All rights reserved.

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Comments

Julie March

Love it, love it, love it! If I came across this book in a bookstore, I would definitely buy it. Excellent plot, and please keep me updated!

Sat, July 14th, 2012 9:45pm

Author
Reply

Thank you. That is a huge complement to me. Much appreciated. I certainly will keep you updated.

Tue, July 17th, 2012 6:09am

andreamay

My thoughts exactly what Julie March said. The only difference is that I'd never have the opportunity to read it if it were published and in hard copy only.


And again I have some questions, and there are some typing errors.

6.3
Quote: "The less wax the needed the better" (Wasn't it meant to be "The less wax they needed the better.")
The last paragraph here, quote "...Joe pointed out that the tide was coming in. quickly..." ("Quickly" needs a capital letter)
Quote "The commander already thinks that some things afoot." (Something is wrong with this sentence, is it not? Maybe you meant "something's afoot" like in "something is going on"?)
6.4.
The last paragraph: "Five minutes later they were in the small ships boat" ("ships" is missing the apostrophe "ship's")

Thu, May 22nd, 2014 6:36pm

Author
Reply

Thank you for reading and commenting. You are correct in all your guesses at what I meant to write and I have corrected them on my computer. Thank you very much. I doubt I will ever publish this book, but if I ever did, I would make sure that you got a coppy, as you have been so helpful. thank you.

Sat, May 24th, 2014 5:20am

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