Chapter 7:

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

Reads: 225
Comments: 2

7.1

Joe found himself taken into a large room and searched for weapons. He didn't have any and didn't try to escape. He could tell that the two men in the room knew what they were doing and he didn't like the idea of fighting them. After a few minutes the third man who had fought his father entered the room. The one man who still had his sword drawn stepped aside when he came in and the other man who held Joe made Joe turn to face him. Joe instantly realised that this man was their leader. Ironically he didn't look the strongest or the quickest. He looked very ordinary and uninteresting. He had blond hair and grey eyes, a tanned face and a slight build. In fact he looked weak, but something in his face showed daring. This was the sort of man who would plunge into deep water to see if he could swim to the other side. In some way this comforted Joe. He'd learned to trust these people. They took risks, but not without thought. At least Simon didn't.… usually.

'You're Joe aren't you?' the man said quietly.

Joe nodded. He didn't know what else to do. He couldn't lie. Nathan had always said that it was pointless lying. You always got found out and then there was even more trouble.

'Who are you here with?' the man asked watching him steadily.

'My father and…' he trailed off.

'And?' the man prompted.

'I was with my cousin Simon, but he went missing,' Joe replied hesitantly.

'How did you find the cave, Joe?' the man quickly asked, interrupting Joe's thoughts.

'I didn't,' Joe replied. 'Simon did. He led the way up the cliffs to a ledge and then we sat down and he fell back through the door. That scared me. One moment he was there, the next moment he was gone. He came out and told us it was a cave and so he found it and we made it our base.'

'Why were you climbing the cliffs?' the man questioned.

'We went exploring after landing on the beach,' Joe explained.  'We were going towards the light house when dad noticed that the tide had cut us off. Simon tried to swim across with a rope in case it was a rip tide, but the waves were too strong. So we climbed the cliffs. It was his idea. He tends to come up with a lot of ideas. Not all good though.'

'Who's idea was it to go exploring?' the man asked. He was starting to have an idea.

Joe thought for a long time before answering slowly, 'I think it was Simon. It might have been me, but I think it wasn't. I know it wasn't dad's idea. He was tired. Simon was ahead so I think it was his idea.'

'Ted,' the man who held Joe almost whispered. 'Do you…'

'Wait Tom,' the leader interrupted briskly, but he nodded. Then he fixed his grey eyes on Joe's blue again. 'How did you get here? I mean to this land.'

'In our boat,' Joe replied. 'We hit the rocks and just managed to land before sinking.' Joe was good at exaggerating. He didn't always even realise he was doing it which made it worse.

'Have you ever been here before?' Ted asked.

'Not that I know of,' Joe replied. 'I've been on the sea since I was six, but I don't' remember ever coming to this land.'

'Has your father or Simon ever been here?'

'I wouldn't have thought so,' Joe almost laughed. 'Dad may have but Simon couldn't have. He's two years younger than me.'

'Ok,' Ted smiled gently and yet with a slightly threatening slant. 'We'll see how your story tallies with your fathers.' He turned to the other two men. 'Take him away and meet me back here. I'll bring him.'

The two men nodded. Joe was blind folded. Then they unbound his wrists and put a chain round them. They were pushing him towards the door when suddenly Ted spoke again.

'Oh, one more question Joe,' he called. 'Have you been in the tunnels here?'

'I went as far as the ropes would stretch looking for Simon,' Joe replied turning his head to where he guessed Ted to be. 'Other than that, no, I haven't. Until now of course.'

'Ok,' Ted said casually from quite a different direction. The men pushed him into the corridor, spun him round a few times and took him away to a cell. There they took off his blindfold and chained his feet. They locked the ends of the chains to rings in the walls and left him alone, shutting and bolting the door behind them.

 

7.2

When Adrian woke the next morning he got up, dressed and went out of the hall. The morning was still and clear. The first streaks of golden sunlight were touching the pale dew decorated land. Across the courtyard, the newest of the halls stood, a red clay brick building with small square windows and bright red painted wooden shutters. Some people thought it pretty, but Adrian didn't think it suited the setting of a fort. Perhaps in the towns such a building would demonstrate forward looking and originality, but not here. Here it showed a clash between traditional and modern. Perhaps it was just perception, but Adrian couldn't help thinking, a clash between those who fight for peace and those who fight for honour. Perhaps neither was right. Perhaps both had their place, but to Adrian, fighting wasn't the answer to anything. The army were there to defend people and enforce the law. Not to kill.

As Adrian thought these thoughts he closed the hall door behind him and started across the yard to the path by the stables. Suddenly he became aware of something glittering high above him. He stopped, looked up and gasped in surprise.

Up on the very crest of the new hall roof stood a man. The man! He held a sword in one hand and a brightly polished shield in the other. He was dressed in the same rusty clothes and sable cloak, but his stance showed the ideal picture of a guardian or protector. The sun lit him up and reflected perfectly off his unstained sword and shield. He stood still and fixed his green eyes on Adrian. Then he spoke.

'Adrian. Are you ready? Can you make your stand? They have come and they will draw nearer. They will strike and shed blood before these walls and before the doors of the village. Are you ready to do what is right? Are you a man with any authority? Use it! You will need to.'

He turned and walked over the roof just as before and vanished from sight.

'Adrian,' Alexander ran up behind him. 'What's happened? You're pale. Are you alright?'

'He was here again,' Adrian said in a shocked voice.

'I haven't gone yet,' a voice from behind them stated.

Adrian and Alexander spun round, bumping in to one another in their haste.

'I'm still here,' the man continued. He was now standing on top of the old hall roof. The old hall was only one story high and had a castellated roof, but there was no way up on to it. The doors were always locked. No one stayed there now.

'What do you want?' Alexander demanded, his voice rising in pitch and dropping in volume. 

'I want to help,' the man replied more quietly. 'I want to support you and advise you, but I cannot help you if you don't want to be helped. I can only advise if you seek advice. If you ever want me, just call. I'm here from dusk till dawn.'

'Who are you?' Alexander ventured, but the man had already turned and disappeared from the roof.

A few moments passed before Alexander broke the silence.

'Let's get the men up,' he suggested. 'Have breakfast, do drill and make sure we're ready for whatever is coming. What is coming? Did he say?'

'Bloodshed,' Adrian replied quietly. 'Both here and in the village.'

'Well,' Alexander hesitated uncertain as to what he should say. 'Let's, be the ready party,' he suggested at last.

Adrian nodded. They went quickly back into the main hall and woke the men they'd gathered together. Another man had joined them the previous night and he was on guard. One of the men was sent to relieve him and let him take his rest while the others ate and lined up for drill as Alexander proposed.

Discipline was returning to the few men who followed Alexander and Adrian, but among the others there was abominable behaviour. The commander had been even more drunk than usual the previous night and many of the officers were also drunk. In the hall three men were lying so drunk that it was doubtful if they would wake all day if at all.

Adrian made it clear to his men that there would be no drinking in their company and that he expected them to do the duties put to them. They worked a roster out with everyone doing a specific job at a specific time. Adrian had the mid-day and the first night watches at the gate as well as the first morning watch on the wall by the lighthouse looking out away from the harbour, towards archer's bay. He also had to ensure that the other men were doing their jobs. Alexander had the watch before Adrian and also the last watch of the night at the gate. The other men also had three watches each as well as other minor duties such as handing out rations, drawing water and cleaning out the stables. Only Adrian however could dare to go near the chestnut horse and only when he was exercising it could they clean out its stable.

'Looks like we've got a busy time ahead,' Alexander laughed as he took his place at the gate. Adrian nodded and headed off to see to the horse.

'And that's if there isn't fighting to contend with,' he called back as he passed through the small gate.

 

7.3

Nathan leaned with his shoulder against the wall. He wasn't sure where he was and he certainly couldn't get out. His hands were chained behind his back and the chain was attached to a hook high on the wall behind him. He wasn't particularly uncomfortable, for his captor had not been rough with him, only firm. He was worried though. He was worried about his son. He had no idea where he was and feared that the men might hurt him. Joe could easily panic and do something stupid. He'd been the same when he was younger and oddly, so had Nathan's brother-in-law. Simon was rather an anomaly in the family in that respect and many others. In fact he was so much so an anomaly that Nathan had often secretly questioned his parentage. One particular query rose from his eyes. All of Nathan's family and his wife's family had blue eyes. That was one of the reasons they'd married. It was true that he didn't know Simon's mother, but he didn't understand why his brother-in-law would avoid describing her. He said she had light hair but he never mentioned eyes.

Nathan pulled his thoughts back to more immediate worries. He had so much to think about. Who were the men? What did they want? Did they intend releasing them at some point? Did they want them for the army? The men had been in navy uniforms. He was surprised that he'd not realised it earlier. These were men from the harbour. They had to be, but why were they here?

The door swung open and the man who had fought and captured him came briskly in. he was now carrying a small lantern in his left hand. Just inside the door, he reached up and hung the lantern. Then he crossed the room and took out a key. He unlocked the chain from the hook and nudged Nathan away from the wall. He pushed him back to the door, paused to take down the lantern and continued out of that room. They entered another room only a little way along the tunnel. Again he hung the lantern above the door and crossed the room. He flicked the chain up and over a high hook on the wall, caught the loose end and pulled it tight.

Nathan flinched as the chain pulled on his arms. Then he struggled. He pulled away from the wall and ducked down. The man was taken by surprise and lost hold of the chain. However he didn't lose time about drawing his sword. Less than three seconds later Nathan had his back to the wall with a sword to his neck.

'Give up,' the man almost laughed. 'You can't win.'

'Ok,' Nathan said irritably. He wasn't used to losing. 'But please don't hurt me.'

The man did laugh then. 'You're not really in a position to barter with me,' he pointed out and flicked his sword into his left hand whilst reaching for the chain with his right. With an easy toss he looped the chain over the hook again and pulled it down, but not as tight as before. Then he took his sword between his teeth and locked the chain into place. He dropped the sword from his mouth back into his right hand and was about to sheathe it when Nathan spoke.

'Your sword's weird,' he observed aloud without thinking and then wished he had said nothing.

The man however didn't seem to be angry or even bothered by the statement. Instead he looked critically at the blade and agreed.

'Yes,' he said with a nod. 'I'm not too surprised though. I did attempt to use it as a heavy duty leaver. It is rather weird.' He ran his finger down the very blunt tip section and laughed. 'A bit bent too. Well at least I didn't buy it.'

'I'm guessing that the navy did,' Nathan tried to make conversation. He didn't want to seem like the irritating enemy if he could help it.

'How did you work that out?' the man asked amazed.

'You're wearing the uniform,' Nathan offered with a smile.

'Oh yes,' the man laughed a little embarrassed. 'I forgot I was still in their uniform. I really should change.'

'Aren't you in the navy then?'

'No,' the man answered shortly. 'But I am a sailor,' he added.

'Same,' Nathan smiled. It wasn't difficult. This man did seem to want to talk. 'My names Nathan,' he told the man.

'I know,' the man replied with a calm smile. 'Your friends have already told me.'

'Is Simon here too then?' Nathan asked hopefully.

The man paused then nodded. 'Yes,' he confirmed, but his smile faded and he looked more serious. 'That's how we knew you were here. We found him.'

'Do you not like us?' Nathan asked cautiously trying to find out what the reason for their captivity was.

'I can't say I particularly dislike you,' the man replied hesitantly.

The other two men slipped in behind him and took up their places on either side. The first man kicked the door shut and continued.

'The thing is,' he said calmly getting to the point, 'We want to know how you found the cave and tunnels.'

'All right,' Nathan relaxed. That was an easy question and one he wasn't bothered about answering. 'We landed on the beach to repair our boat and find water. The boys wanted to go exploring so I went with them. We headed towards the lighthouse and were cut off by the tide. Simon suggested climbing the cliffs and having no other option I agreed. Simon looked for a route up and found an unlikely one as always. We got up by way I'm sure you know and accidentally found the entrance. We saw the door later and Simon must have opened it while Joe and I were out getting water from the village on the hill. We came back and he was missing. We looked for him with ropes, but typical of Simon, he'd gone too far in. besides, you'd found him.'

After a moment the man nodded. 'I believe you,' he said quietly. 'At least, I believe that's how it appeared to you.'

'What do you mean?' Nathan asked baffled. 'Appeared to me?'

'Have you ever been on this land before?' the man asked.

Nathan shook his head. 'I believe my brother-in-law did once but not me.'

'Your brother-in-law did?' the man's expression changed completely. 'Now we're getting somewhere. Did Simon ever come here then? I'm assuming Simon is his son.'

'If he did he was only a babe in arms,' Nathan replied trying to see what the man was getting at. 'He's been with me and my family since he was two. His mother died when he was born and my brother-in-law couldn't cope alone. He was a fighter and nothing more.'

A very different expression crossed the strong looking man's face but he said nothing.

'Was his father often with him alone?' the first man asked.

'Not really,' Nathan replied. 'He was usually on the boats fighting our arch enemy while I stayed with the boys. In fact he saw more of my lad than of his own. Joe used to go on the boats with him until Simon was old enough to sail. Then the boys stuck together like best friends. Couldn't separate them for the world. Well, unless Simon went diving, or swimming, or sword fighting on a plank over the side of the ship. Joe never liked that kind of thing. I can't say I did either. I think that's one of my family's traits.'

'Did his father do those things with him then?' the man prompted.

'No,' Nathan thought carefully. 'Members of the crew did. I can't actually think of anything Simon did with his father, except fishing and I was always there even then.'

'Oh. Ok,' the man looked baffled for a moment. 'Maybe it really was chance then,' he smiled. 'Odd all the same.'

'Look,' Nathan suddenly decided to ask directly. 'I've told you all this stuff about me and my family. Won't you tell me something about you?'

The man smiled and glanced quickly at his friends. They nodded at him and he turned back to Nathan. 'I'm Ted,' he said. 'These are Tom and Terry. We're smugglers and these are our tunnels. They've been in my family for generations.'

'A family secret,' Nathan half suggested.

Yes,' Ted smiled. 'Something like that, until you lot came along and found them.'

'Well,' Nathan nervously laughed. 'I'm sorry I found your secret.'

Ted laughed. 'Looks to me like it were your nephew who found it and not you,' he observed. 'Clever lad that, if you ignore falling into our hands as easily as he did.'

Nathan smiled uncertainly.

'Well, I think we're done for the moment,' Ted said and turned to Tom. 'Take him.'

Tom stepped quickly forward and unlocked the chain from the hook with the key Ted handed to him. Terry blind folded Nathan. The last thing Nathan saw as Terry tied the cloth over his eyes was Ted standing in the doorway with a lantern in one hand and his badly damaged sword in the other.

 

7.4

They met up again in another chamber where they changed from their navy uniforms into their own plain grey or brown tunics, chain mail and other swords.

'They're either telling the truth or else they have worked out very carefully what to say if caught,' Terry observed.

'Yes,' Ted agreed. 'But what do we do about it?'

'You think they're telling the truth then,' Terry smiled.

'I do,' Ted said quietly. 'What do you think?'

'I'm not sure?' Terry replied slowly. 'I can't imagine they'd think up a story like that but it's so unlikely.'

'That's what makes me believe it,' Ted laughed. 'I can't imagine they'd make up such an unbelievable story. I wouldn't. They don't look stupid.'

'I don't know,' Terry thought. That boy Joe, he doesn't look that clever. He always seemed to think that Simon was still lost, but the dad didn't.'

'I don't really agree with you there,' Ted said thoughtfully. 'His father asked openly, but Joe was close to asking at one point. I just put in another question quickly to keep him from asking questions.'

'Why did you let Nathan ask questions then?' Terry queried.

'I believe that by answering some of his questions he spoke more freely when I asked,' Ted replied carefully. 'He spoke because he didn't see us as forcing him. At least that's what I think.'

Terry thought about it carefully. 'But when we came in you had your sword drawn. That was a threat wasn't it?'

'Not really,' Ted laughed. 'In fact it was a beginning point to talking.'

'What do you mean,' Terry frowned, puzzled. He couldn't see how a sword wasn't threatening.

'He commented on it being damaged,' Ted explained.

'Oh,' Terry smiled. 'Is it damaged?' he picked it up and drew it from its sheath. 'How did you fight with that?' he asked completely astonished. 'It's utterly mutilated. It's bent and blunt and broken. What did you do to it?'

'I opened the cell door with it. Ok?' Ted smiled as Terry sheathed the sword again and dropped it on top of Ted's bundled uniform.

'Are we going to question Simon again?' Terry asked changing the topic. 'Double check about whether his father told him anything. He might have?'

'I doubt it,' Ted sighed, 'but we can check.'

'I'd like to know who his father was,' Tom murmured.

'Why?' Ted asked looking at his friend who was unusually quiet. 'What does his father's name matter?'

'We might know him,' Tom suggested cautiously. 'Of course we might not, but just perhaps.'

'You mean we can find out if he knew anything about the tunnels himself,' Ted checked what he suspected Tom to be thinking about.

'That kind of thing, yes,' Tom smiled. 'Anyway we can ask Simon, after questioning him about this place. See what he already has found out.'

'I couldn't agree more,' Ted smiled. He picked up his grey cloak and slung it over his narrow shoulders.

Terry quickly ran a comb through his limp, mid brown hair before picking up the lantern and heading out into the corridor with Ted beside him. Tom walked behind a few paces, fingering something in his tunic pocket.

 

7.5

I don't know how Jude persuaded the village leaders to agree with his plan. He may have told me, but in the light of all else that happened, it was insignificant. The point was that they did agree. That in itself changed a lot for us and them.

We let them in. Jude and some of the other men went down to the villagers who camped in the square and as yet hadn't tried to get into any of the houses. They spoke together and brought some of the families up into the castle. We assigned them an area in the castle and let them stay there. They agreed to help themselves with food as much as possible. At that time we only really thought of ourselves. We thought letting them stay in the castle was generosity enough. The villagers who didn't come into the castle moved into the houses in the village. Of course they weren't as protected, but they had their own space. In the castle, nowhere was set aside for one person, except the soldier's room and my room in the tower. I don't know why Jude insisted that I had my own room, but he did.

When the villagers came Jude introduced me as the watcher. That was how I'd become known in the village, just as Steven senior had been known as the Captain before the soldiers took him and his sons away. There was no Captain after that, at least not really a proper Captain. Jude would have made a good one when it came to it, but he wasn't there then.

It took a long time to get the new comers settled in the castle and explain to them that nowhere was for them alone, although the area they were given was for them to keep their things and stay in. the difficulty with this kind of system is always explaining it. I think the best explanation would be to say that some rooms are for women and some are for men but most of the castle is for any one. The other village only had family room and so any one could go in to them, but no one could disturb another person’s things. That was the general ruling in the castle and once they understood it they followed it very well. At about mid-day I began to wonder if we'd see anything of Joe and Nathan. We had food but we wanted to trade for some more. No one else thought about them, but I did. I wondered if they had left again as suddenly as they had come. I hoped not, but I couldn't drive the thought from my mind. I should have known they wouldn't go without thanking us and saying good bye, but I didn't. I didn't see what there was to thank. I still don't. We did nothing for them.


Submitted: April 10, 2012

© Copyright 2022 Cwester. All rights reserved.

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Comments

Julie March

Again and again I say, This is one of the best works on Booksie ever! I'm going to link to it so hopefully some more people will come from my page to yours.

Sun, July 15th, 2012 2:10am

Author
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Thank you so much! I am so glad you are enjoying it.

Tue, July 17th, 2012 6:11am

andreamay

Well, I'm not going to praise you for every chapter, I think I've said enough. Just one more thing though: maybe I would never read it (not being specially fond of adventure novels) if it were not for your glorious style. It grows on me and I've learnt so much so far. Yesterday I bought an ebook on a site, began reading and found it too shabby after your prose. There, I said it.

But, as usual, and I guess you know it really is with my best intentions, there are some typing errors. If you think it's not necessary to point them out, please, just let me know.

7.3
"...the man who had fought and captured him came briskly in. he was now..." ("He" at the beginning of the sentence with capital letter)
"My names Nathan" ("My name's Nathan", just an apostrophe is missing)
The very last sentence on Nathan's story. "... he'd gone too far in. besides..." ("Besides" needs capital letter)

Thu, May 22nd, 2014 8:21pm

Author
Reply

Thank you very much for reading and commenting. Please Do keep telling me any typing errors or other mistakes or things that don't make sence. It is So helpful and Much Appreciated! I am astounded at your praise! Thank you. Please do let me know if in any way you think my style slips at any point. Thank you.

Sat, May 24th, 2014 5:33am

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