Chapter 8:

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

Reads: 133
Comments: 2

8.1

The chains slammed against the stone cell wall again as Simon persisted in trying to break them. They had to give at some point. If he could get his wrists loose, perhaps if only one of the men came, to give him food or something like that, he could overpower the man by taking him by surprise. Then he could get the keys for the chain on his ankles and get loose. Perhaps he could force the man to guide him out of the tunnels. This last thought Simon laughed at. He knew he was being foolish there. None of the men would fear him enough to guide him out. Any of the men would probably guide him to the others so that they could catch him again. Simon thought about it as he repeatedly struck the wall and twisted his wrists in the chains. Even if the man did lead him to the other men he could work it to his advantage. Surely he could. He could take the weapons from him and hold the sword to the man's neck. When the man led him to the other men he would kill his prisoner and so make the others fear him, particularly if it happened to be their leader Ted. Then he'd threaten them and make them show him the way out. He doubted if there were any more of them.

Clink. Chink. Rattle. Scrape.

Scrape! Simon froze as the door swung open and Ted shone the light of a lantern full on his face. He had not heard him coming and was taken by surprise. He felt suddenly frightened by the man standing calmly in the doorway.

'What's the point in trying to escape Simon?' Ted asked as though indifferent.

Simon didn't answer. He stood fixed to the spot.

'You can't escape,' Ted continued.

Simon concentrated on his initial plan. The man wouldn't be able to stop him once his hands were loose. All he had to do was act frightened till then. The thing was that he was frightened. He didn't need to pretend. The problem would be overcoming his fear when the time came.

'It would take you days to break those chains,' the man carried on. 'And even then what would you do? You wouldn't find your way out of the tunnels. There really is no point in trying to escape.'

He stepped forward and loosed the chains from the walls. Then he unlocked the chain from Simon's wrists and let it drop on to the floor. Letting go of Simon he reached into his pocket to take out some bread.

Simon took his opportunity and struck. He brought his right hand round and hit Ted in the groin then swung at his head with his left fist. Ted reeled back. Simon had miscalculated his first blow by a fraction and the chain mail saved Ted any real hurt. However the blow to his cheek startled him with its speed and firmness. Ted knew instantly that Simon was going to fight until someone was over powered. He quickly hung the lantern on a high hook, drew himself up, squared his shoulders and clenched his fists.

Simon leaped at him and grabbed hold of Ted's right hand with his left. Simultaneously he kicked at Ted's unprotected legs with his chained feet and loosened Ted's belt with his right hand. Ted swung his right arm out in a wide ark intending to shake Simon off. But Simon did not let go. Instead he threw Ted's belt with all his weapons down the corridor an astounding distance. He also managed to get hold of Ted's keys from his pocket. Then he dropped to the ground.

Ted made a quick decision. He could run and get his weapons, or he could get the keys back off Simon and so disadvantage him. Otherwise he could give him a fair fight and defeat him in a way that Simon couldn't argue with. He decided to do that. He grabbed the lower edge of his chain mail and pulled it up over his head almost as easily as he would a leather over-tunic. He dropped it on the ground and turned to face Simon, who by then had unlocked his legs and risen to fight.

Just as before, Simon struck first. He lashed out with his right hand as a diversion, which Ted easily blocked, while with his left hand he struck Ted in the stomach. Ted was ready to take the blow but no less surprised at Simon's trick. He had easily blocked the blow before seizing Simon's right arm and swinging it out to the side. Then Ted tried to get Simon's arm round behind him, but to no avail. Simon leaped up. He twisted round too quickly and dealt accurate firm blows. They were soon locked in a fierce struggle that neither wanted to lose.

It was an odd fight. Ted was not used to fighting someone smaller than him and didn't really know how to use his size to his advantage. As for Simon, he was used to fighting people who were bigger than him, but he didn't know how to fight someone who didn't use their height and weight to their advantage. In fact they were both out of their comfort zone. This left skill and strength, both of which Ted exceeded Simon in. Ted was older and so had learned many more tricks and manoeuvres. Simon was strong for his age, but not strong enough to defeat Ted.

Once Ted gained the upper hand in the fight Simon went down quickly. He was forced down on to the cold stone floor and pinned. He struggled hard but he could not get free of Ted's grip.

'I'll kill you,' Simon shouted as he went down, knowing he wouldn't be able to get up again. 'I'll stick you more full than a hedgehog!'

Ted checked that he could hold Simon securely, then let go with his left hand. Simon tried to get up, but to no avail. He was held far too tightly. Simon tried to kick Ted, but Ted was out of the way. Ted brought his left hand down with a powerful stroke against Simon's chin, forcing his head back and pressing slightly on his windpipe. Simon gasped. There was no threat to him being able to breathe but as Ted knew, it felt as though you couldn't.

'Simon,' Ted spoke gently and evenly. 'Just give up.'

'Ok,' Simon gasped, but he had not in fact given up. As Ted loosened his grip and took his hand away from Simon's neck, Simon struggled again, hoping to take Ted by surprise and overpower him. It didn't work. Ted, who would also have tried this trick, expected it of Simon and struck his hand down onto Simon's neck and chin again.

'You're too slow for that one to work Simon,' Ted said calmly. 'Now it's time to really give up.'

Simon stopped struggling. He knew he'd lost and he hated it. He had not underestimated Ted. He had overestimated himself. He hadn't taken his tiredness or hurt wrists into account, and yet he knew that even if he'd been in full health, he could not have beaten Ted. He gave up.

Ted saw the hopeless expression on his face and loosened his grip. He pulled Simon to his feet and put his back to the far end of the cell Simon had been in. then he closed the door. Simon wondered what Ted was doing or what he should do. Before he'd wondered long the door opened again and Ted was there. He was wearing his chain mail and his weapons were at his side again. He had the lantern in his left hand as before and he looked exactly as he had before the fight except for several small bruises on his arms and one rather red bruise on his right cheek.

'Let's try again shall we,' he said calmly. What's the point trying to escape Simon? You can't escape.'

Simon nodded. He knew that now. The man had defeated him in single unarmed combat. He'd been fairly beaten and he knew it.

Ted watched him for a moment then smiled. 'Come on then,' he said quietly. He stepped forward and took Simon by his wrists. Simon didn't argue as Ted pulled his hands behind his back and pushed him ahead, holding Simon in one hand and the lantern in the other.

 

8.2

Adrian had only just taken his place at the gate when the man came swiftly up the road from the harbour. He stopped outside the gates and hailed Adrian who stood on the wall above the closed gate.

'Ho there, watchman,' he called. 'Are you a soldier or a man of rank?'

'I am Corporal Adrian Nite,' he replied confidently. He knew the man was a sailor from the harbour and by the look of him, he seemed to be rather more trustworthy than most of the others.

'Ah, corporal Nite,' the sailor quickly nodded. 'I have a message for the commander. Would you hand it on?'

Adrian descended from the wall and opened the gate. The man came in and Adrian closed the gate behind him. Then the man spoke quickly.

'My commander asks that the men at the fort keep a close vigil tonight. He has reason to believe that there may be trouble.' He paused and took out a small piece of paper before continuing. 'We've had some trouble at the harbour already tonight. Three men planned and carried out the theft of one of our boats. In the process of which they broke out of prison,' he half read and half explained. 'The three men were naval men, but on discovery of their plans, they were put in holding cells until they could be further questioned. But they escaped. The three men go by the names of Edward Archer, Thomas Archer and Terrance Gray. Would you like the paper?'

'No, I'm all right remembering those names. They're not particularly unknown to me.'

'I'd never heard of them before they joined,' the sailor smiled. He was not an officer of any kind, but Adrian seemed friendly and amiable.

'When did they join the navy?' Adrian queried, anxiously interested.

'About two months ago,' the sailor replied.

'Tell me what you thought of them when they were in the navy,' Adrian said. 'Before this happened.'

'Me personally sir?' the man checked before continuing. 'I thought they were there for the food at first, but soon I realised that I was wrong on that assumption. They never came up to the fort to drink or feast with us and one of them was obsessed with keeping fit and healthy. The youngest was a nuisance, always trying to jump on you when you weren't expecting it. They always won at cards when they played. I don't think it, but some of the men believed they cheated. I think it's just that they knew who wasn't good at playing and they played when the men had a headache. They're not stupid. I knew that before they broke from prison. No one knows how they managed that.'

'So they were never just like the other men?' Adrian checked.

The sailor shook his head. 'They used to clean the ships and practice their sword work together. No one did that. We knew we'd not have to fight so we don't bother trying. Most of us don't even know how to use a sword.'

'Personally,' Adrian said slowly. 'I think you will have to fight soon. I think we all will.'

'Perhaps Sir,' the sailor half agreed. 'I know I can fight if I have to and I'm glad of it, but the others won't try even if there was discipline. I must say I haven't seen a man on watch here before today.'

'My fellow corporal and I are attempting to restore order to the fort, although the commander doesn't care about disorder, in fact I think he favours it,' Adrian explained.

'Well,' the sailor laughed. 'I guess you're the best person to leave the message with then.'

Adrian smiled as the sailor saluted and moved back towards the gate.  'Thanks,' he called after him and closed the gate again. He put the bar across, picked up the lantern and returned to the top of the wall.

If those three had stolen a boat, he knew he would see nothing of their actions. There wouldn't be trouble tonight, but who knew about the future. He always seemed to be the one to hear the news about the Archer brothers and their companion, but he could do nothing. Just knowing was dangerous enough and he knew it. He pushed the thoughts to the side. He'd tell Alexander the simple message in the morning. Alexander could safely do something, although no one could do much.

 

8.3

Tom and Terry were standing questioningly at the corner.

'What happened?' Tom asked his Captain.

'He gave me a bit of a fight,' Ted answered casually, as though he expected it.

'Looks like he landed a few blows too,' Tom smiled.

'I must admit,' Ted laughed, releasing the tension and admitting to himself that he wasn't so much expecting it as he'd have liked. 'The first two blows he dealt took me by surprise,' he told them.

Tom laughed and shoved Ted gently.

Ted smiled. If he hadn't had Simon to hold he'd have wrestled with Tom on that note, but now he got straight down to business. 'Come on,' he said and lead the way down a side tunnel.

'So at what point did he say he was going to kill you,' Tom asked merrily. 'Don't tell me. Let me guess. It was after you'd got him pinned down on the floor.'

Ted nodded.

'It always is,' Tom smiled. 'They threaten you with words when they can't do anything else.'

They turned into a large chamber on their right and Ted bound Simon's arms behind his back. Then he tied the other end of the rope to a hook on the wall. Tom, who had taken the lantern, hung it above the door and Terry closed the door. Then they questioned Simon.

As usual it was Ted who asked the questions. He stood directly in front of Simon and looked down at him in his normal, slightly threatening way of speaking to prisoners.

'What did your father do for a living?' Ted began.

'What business of yours is that,' Simon thought but he simply said, 'He fought.'

'Go on,' Ted pressed. 'How? Why? Who?'

'My dad and his sister were the only children of the youngest of several brothers, whose father picked a fight with another family. On our side, we're the only one's still fighting, Nathan being my aunt's husband and so involving his family. The other brothers stay on the land and keep out of the fighting and their children aren't interested in the least. Our enemy is purely made up of their family members. They don't employ a crew like we did; at least, that's what I've heard, though I don't really believe it.'

Ted laughed. What a lot of useless information Simon could gabble. 'Ok,' he said. 'Just how do you fight and where and why?'

'Oh yes,' Simon pulled himself back on track. 'We fight on the sea, trying to capture each other’s men and ideally ships. We fight with swords and other weapons like that. And it's all because of an argument years ago, but it's good fun, unless of course you lose, which we did for the first time I can remember, just before we arrived here. I mean here on this land.'

'You like fighting then,' Ted asked. He liked Simon's openness.

Simon nodded. 'Unless of course I lose,' he added with a slightly nervous chuckle. 'I don't think any one likes losing, but someone has to.'

'No one wins,' Ted murmured and stared into the distance for a moment.

'What do you mean?' Simon asked puzzled.

Ted pulled his thoughts back from the years when he'd fought with another family over the tunnels. 'Some one wins,' he said thoughtfully, 'but not without their own great loss.'

Simon thought about it before saying almost sulkily, 'I don't see what they've lost.'

'If they're all family, then some of the family may have died,' Ted suggested. 'They may have lost time in crossing the sea or lost some of their cargo, if they have any.'

Simon shrugged and smiled almost apologetically. He had found in the past that some people take offence at a shrug. Ted didn't. He in fact agreed with a shrug and smiled back.

'Do you spend much time with your father?' he asked after a moment.

Simon was silent again for a moment then said, 'He's dead.' He said it in such a matter of fact tone that Ted was taken aback.

'Oh,' he said almost apologetically. 'Did you spend much time with him before…?'

'No,' Simon answered shortly. 'He tried to pander to me, but I didn't like it. Nathan was more my father than him. And Nathan's wife, my aunt was more my mother. I never knew my own. It doesn't really bother me though. I'm not like my father, or like Nathan's family. I like being different.'

Ted smiled and looked at his brother. In their family it had been similar and yet different.

'In my family,' he said, 'my youngest brother was the only one who was not anything like my father. That's why I took the tunnels and not him. He wasn't interested. He would rather live and trade with our cousins.'

'Well I think I want to fight more than they do themselves. I hate losing boats,' Simon told him. 'Nathan doesn't like losing because of all the money he loses, but I just like winning. I don't think Joe even likes the sea.' He laughed and suddenly realised that he was no longer afraid. He had fort this man and been fairly beaten. Now he knew where he stood and was not afraid.

Ted smiled and fingered his sword hilt. 'You certainly have fought harder than they have so far,' he said, revealing that Nathan and Joe were also prisoners, a revelation that Terry was startled to hear. He didn't understand a lot of this Captains decisions but he went with them all the same.

'Let me guess,' Simon spoke almost cynically. 'Joe didn't even draw his knife.' He felt irritated with his cousin's reluctance to fight and inability to be ready at all times, but at the same time he felt sorry for them being taken down without warning.

'Yes,' Ted laughed and fully relaxed.  'And Nathan surrendered when Joe went down.'

'I would have expected more than that of him,' Simon said quietly, 'but it doesn't really surprise me.'

Suddenly Simon realised that Tom was staring at him and had been for a long time. He seemed to be trying to stare through him and see what lay under the skin. 'What?' he demanded looking straight at him?

Tom shook his head. 'What's it matter?' he said quietly and looked away from Simon.

Simon turned back to Ted who was laughing.

'I must admit,' Ted continued with their conversation. 'After the brief struggle they gave, I was rather surprised at the fight you put forward. How old are you?'

'Fourteen,' Simon replied casually. 'I've been fighting for over 6 years now and sailing since I was six. Well, that's on the big boats. I went sailing on small boats from three with Nathan and Joe and one or another of Nathan's family. When did you learn to sail?'

Ted smiled as he remembered his first sailing on a big boat. He'd also been six then but he'd sailed before that. 'I was pretty much born on the sea,' Ted said with a chuckle. My father and mother were bringing goods in to shore when my mother realised that she was going to give birth. My father had told her not to come with but she did anyway. They got to the caves and there I was born. After that my parents took me everywhere with them, so I've been on the sea all my life.'

Suddenly he turned and stared back at Tom who was watching him intently now.

'What,' he demanded in almost the same way Simon had.

'I'm just wondering why…' Tom answered hesitantly.

'Oh ok,' Ted interrupted without hearing what Tom was going to say, assuming he knew. Assuming that Tom was wondering why he was answering questions. 'I think we should talk about things,' he then suggested.

Tom nodded. 'Shall we bring them all here?' Tom asked in a low voice, but Simon could hear well enough.

'Yes,' Ted murmured and opened the door. Terry relit the small lantern he had been swinging the entire time and led the way out. Ted stayed in the room and looked at Simon again.

'Can I trust you?' he asked quietly.

'You trust me in asking me if you can. If I say yes then how will you know if you could trust me to answer truthfully? If I said no though, I might be being truthful once or all the time. How would you know?'

'Well said,' Ted smiled. 'That's a good answer. And I think I can trust you. You haven't lied so far to my knowledge.' He stood still for a moment almost expecting a reply, but he got none. Then he stepped forward and untied Simon's wrists. Simon said nothing but smiled.

'Don't fight,' Ted said simply. 'Next time I will use my sword, just because I can and it's easy.'

Simon laughed. 'I was surprised you didn't use it in the first place.'

'I did consider it,' Ted said as he stepped back to his place in front of the door. 'But I decided to beat you fairly so you would know I could do it again.'

Simon was about to say something when the other two came in with his friends.

'Let them loose,' Ted instructed. There was a clink of chains as Nathan and Joe were released from their bonds.

'Now you three better not try and escape,' Ted said without a smile. He put some bread down on the ground and pointed out a jug of water in the corner before continuing. 'There's no point trying. You can't escape.'

Simon nodded as they left the room and locked the door. He knew that. He knew they couldn't escape. Even so he would try.

 

8.4

Ted strode down the passage to the water stairs. There were many ways out into the open from the tunnels. The water stairs were just one. They descended to the level of the beach and then joined a low narrow tunnel which forked. One way led to the hidden lighthouse in the cliffs and some other very secret tunnels. The other lead down a way, then up again until it came out behind a stone door at the foot of the cliff. What was brilliant about this route was that no one who didn't know it could use it. Where the tunnel was below the beach, there was permanently water. On either side of this tunnel was a stone door, under the water. Unless you knew how to open both doors, you could not get through. As a boy Ted had feared to go through the tunnel in case he found someone drowned in trying to get the door open. Now he dismissed that as a possibility. No one knew about the tunnels anyway-until now. What were they going to do?

At the bottom of the stairs he turned left and made his way up the other tunnel to the cliff light as he called it. His friends followed. They went out onto the ledge cut in the face of the cliff to one side of the light. There they sat down and spoke in low voices.

'I think they are telling the truth,' Ted said reluctantly. He knew he had to speak first but he didn't like it. If they had been lied to, then it would have been easy. They'd have sought out the truth until they found it and then they would have dealt heavily with all parties. This was different. These three had not purposefully found the caves and had not intentionally tried to oppose them at all. It had been an accident and nothing more. That was what made it difficult.

'It's not like we can threaten them and hold them prisoner until they agree to help us, like we did with that soldier,' Tom pointed out what they all were thinking.

'It didn't take much persuasion to get him on side,' Ted murmured. He remembered it well.

'He was a wimp of a soldier,' Terry put in. 'He begged us on his knees to let him go. He was eager to swear secrecy.'

'Yes,' Ted agreed, glad to be distracted for the moment. 'He just begged and pleaded with us. He didn't argue once. He even agreed to swap duties so that no one saw us.'

'If I may remind you,' Tom interrupted their idyllic thoughts with reality. 'He had no choice. We were going to drown him in the water tunnel or drop him overboard at the rocks if he didn't agree to everything we said.'

'I wouldn't have really drowned him in the tunnel,' Ted justified. He'd been too scared as a child of finding someone drowned to make it happen.

'Yes,' Tom smiled. He knew his brother well enough. 'But he didn't know that, did he. And if he really did refuse you would have dropped him by the rocks.'

'Yes,' Ted agreed. 'I'd have done it, or got you to do it.'

'Yes, ok,' Tom relented.

 'But what do we do now?' Ted returned to their real problem. 'We can't really threaten them. It wasn't intentional.'

'We can,' Tom contradicted. 'There's nothing stopping us, but it wouldn't be right.'

'Yes,' Ted nodded. Tom was nearly always very precise or very vague. There didn't seem to be much in between with Tom. 'But what do we do?' he asked.

'We could hold them prisoner until they agree to help us,' Tom suggested quietly.

'But that's,' Ted cut in, but Tom just went on.

'Or we could make them believe that that is our plan, to hurt them and hold them prisoner.' He paused and watched his brothers face intently.

'Go on,' Ted said slowly. He was beginning to have an idea of what he thought Tom was getting at, but wasn't sure he was guessing correctly.

'Just like the soldier they don't know any different. Joe and Nathan still fear us. I'm not sure about Simon. We can very easily cause them to hear us talking about hurting them and holding them prisoners. They wouldn't guess that we won't and they'll agree to what we want. Secrecy.'

'I think you're right,' Terry spoke although he wouldn't have normally done so until Ted had voiced his opinion.

'I'll go with it,' Ted smiled. 'I think we should ask them straight out first though. There may be no need to make them feel threatened if they agree anyway.'

'We can ask,' Tom agreed.

Terry wasn't so sure about asking first, but he didn't argue with his Captain, particularly as Tom was in agreement with him.

'Let's go then,' Ted rose.

'I think we should sort out the boat first,' Tom suggested. 'The tide's gone out already and the boat was only tethered by one long rope to the ring in the end of the ledge.'

'Good point,' Ted smiled. 'What's the time?'

'Half past three,' Terry answered looking up at the stars. He was good at telling the time from the sky. They could all do it, but he was the best at it.

'Well you two go and get the boat up while I…'

'No,' Tom cut him off. 'As I said, the tide has already gone out. You'll have to help us. Even as three, we've always struggled when we didn't get in at high tide.'

'Sorry,' Ted sighed, irritated with himself. 'I forgot. I'm coming.'

They descended to the lower tunnel, climbed back up the water stairs and headed through a true labyrinth of stone passages to bring in the boat.

After securing the boat on the ledge, they decided to go back and see the prisoners.

 

8.5

They had told Simon the news less than a minute after the smugglers left. They told him about the village and Jude. They told him about the harbour, the fort and the refugee camp on the plains. They told him how they were trying to fix the boat, and how they were caught. Simon told them in turn what had happened to him and how, by locking doors, they had confused him and caught him. All the time they spoke, they ate and drank. They finished the food and water easily and by the time Ted and his companions returned they were stretched out on the floor to sleep, assuming that the smugglers wouldn't return for some time.

Simon was the first to hear them. He heard the bolt being drawn and quickly sat up. He was on his feet when the door swung open while Nathan and Joe were still sitting up.

Ted reached for the lantern and turned up the flame as he paused in the doorway. Behind him, Terry put out his lantern.

'It looks like we'll need more oil,' Ted told his friends and walked further in. the light was not much brighter. 'Well you three,' Ted said turning to look at them scrambling to their feet. 'As I'm sure you now realise, these tunnels are a secret, known only to a hand full of persons. You have found out about them and therefore you are a threat to the secret. I want assurance from you, that should I release you, you will not tell anyone about the tunnels or return to them.'

'I'm happy with that,' Nathan agreed. He was eager to agree if it meant getting his freedom.

'Yes, same,' Joe nodded fervently. 'I'll promise to keep the secret and not return here.'

Simon didn't reply at once. He first considered then spoke calmly and almost coldly, as though he had the right to challenge Ted. 'If I know the secret, why can I not be a part of it? Why must I not return?'

Ted was slightly taken aback and hesitated for a moment. Tom allowed an amused smile to twitch his lips. Terry looked stern.

'Because I said so,' Ted stated after a moment his eyes fixed on Simon, almost daring him to argue.

Simon shook his head. 'I'm happy to keep the tunnels secret,' he said, unperturbed by Ted's fierce expression. 'I understand why you want to keep that safe. I'd also want to keep this kind of place a secret, but I do not see any reason why I can't return here myself, alone, without bringing anyone, or showing anyone. It's on those grounds that I refuse.'

Ted's grey eyes seemed to darken with poorly concealed anger and his left hand seemed remarkably close to his sword hilt. Ted wasn't used to being crossed and he didn't like it at all. Terry completely agreed with his Captain, but tom's smile tugged harder at the corners of his mouth.

'Simon,' Nathan hissed, irritated at his nephew.

Ted turned to speak to Tom and much to his frustration, saw him smiling.

'What's so funny,' he demanded in an undertone designed for Tom's ears alone.

'It's all right,' Tom whispered, not actually answering the question. 'Let me deal with this.'

Ted nodded and leant against the wall. He knew he was rubbish at talking when he got angry. The only thing he was good at then was doing something rash and usually foolish.

Tom gave a quelling look at Simon and turned to Nathan and Joe. 'So what do you two intend doing when we release you?' he asked in a friendly tone. Ted saw instantly what he was doing. He was suggesting that Simon would not be released. He was beginning part two of their plan.

'Joe and I were repairing our boat,' Nathan answered. He wasn't surprised that they didn't intend to release Simon. 'We were planning to go back to our land and then return and give food to the villagers here. They're so poor and they don't have food and they have nothing to trade for it. We were planning to help them by giving them food.'

'How do you intend getting it past the army?' Tom asked in utter disbelief. He'd not expected anything like this.

'Smuggling,' Nathan offered with a slightly nervous smile.

Tom laughed. 'But how?' he asked again, now highly amused.

'No one seems to come down to the bay,' Nathan began hesitantly. 'We thought we could land there and go up the path and then to the village.'

Tom became serious again and thought hard about what they'd said.

'It wouldn't work,' Simon butted in. 'I saw that path, and if the fort's where you said it is, there is no way you could do it. They'd have you in irons by the third day,'

'He's right,' Ted agreed reluctantly. 'Anyway, you couldn't find your way in here again. The rocks aren't easy to pass. I'm surprised you managed at all.' But even as he spoke he had an idea. Perhaps he could kill two birds with one stone here. 'Tom, Terry. Just a moment with you?' he half asked, half demanded and slipped through the door, his friends behind him.

Nathan took the opportunity to have a quiet go at Simon. 'Are you stupid or something?' he asked angrily. 'You could get your freedom if you agreed to what they want, but you oppose them. You have no rights as a prisoner of theirs. They may even kill you! Who do you think you are, talking to them as though you're their equal? Have I not taught you to respect those older than you?'

Simon didn't often ignore his uncle, but today he did. He didn't care if he'd been rude. He knew where he stood with them and he wasn't afraid of them. His father didn't understand these men. Simon felt that he did. He at least knew that they wouldn't kill him. They might hold him prisoner and make things uncomfortable for him, but they wouldn't kill him. They seemed to have a sense of justice. Killing him would be unjust and Simon was certain that they knew it.

'Are you ignoring me?' Nathan began again in an angry mutter, but the opening of the door cut him off.

'I've got a proposition for you,' Ted said as he closed the door behind Terry. 'Since you know the secret, as Simon said, why don't you become part of it?'

'What do you mean?' Nathan asked hesitantly.

'Well,' Ted said carefully. 'How would it be if you used the tunnels to do your smuggling?

Simon punched the air in victory.

Ted gave him a cold look and turned to Nathan.

'I don't know,' Nathan said hesitantly.

'We can talk the plans through and we'll help you outside the tunnels too,' Ted said invitingly.

'Why would you want to?' Simon demanded, suddenly suspicious. 'What gain can you get from it? You're smugglers who do it as a job. You want money or something. What?'

Ted had had enough of Simon. He stepped quickly forward and pushed him back against the wall, but before he could pin him, Simon ducked aside and shoved Ted back. The next moment they were locked in another fight.

 

8.6

I believe it was that evening I first saw fighting. There were two encampments on the grass, about where the villagers had been that very morning. The one camp lay spread out in a wide fin with a narrow point of men facing the other army, who were arrayed in a horseshoe with its open end ready to engulf the point and draw in those behind. They marched out around seven and faced one another across the flat land, earth that soon would be littered with corpses and stained with hot blood. Men would die and be forgotten on that grass. Men who were fathers, brothers and sons all stripped and left, lying on the grass that did not want to see death, under the sky that mourned for their loss. Our loss.

Their armour was dull in the late sun and their weapons seemed to have no edge, and yet they killed. The fight was not long. They broke apart at sunset for lack of light, leaving the wounded lying on the field to suffer the night's hostility.

Only an hour after sunset the sky spread its clammy blanket of cloud and released her tears for the country ripped in pieces. The cold water ran off the roofs of the houses and splashed dismally to the hard ground. Behind the veil of water I knew that the soldiers were eating stolen food in their tents, while their comrades lay dead.

I made my way down from the roof to my room. Jude was there waiting for me. He'd brought me some food. We sat on my bench and he told me about the villagers. They were settling in well enough and with the rain, they were very glad for a roof over their heads. He asked me if I'd seen anything. I nodded and tapped my rapier. He understood and sighed with me. Fighting had come whether we liked it or not. We didn't really like talking about it, but soon we would have to. Soon we would need to communicate well enough to fight as a unit. I never really thought it would come to it. I certainly didn't expect it to happen the way it did. None of us thought it would.


Submitted: April 10, 2012

© Copyright 2022 Cwester. All rights reserved.

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Comments

Julie March

Loved the action in this chapter. I'm hoping you update soon, because after this, I only have one more chapter!

Mon, July 16th, 2012 2:41am

Author
Reply

I'll try and update as soon as possible. Thanks for commenting. Much appreciated.

Tue, July 17th, 2012 6:24am

andreamay

The watcher is a special person, the very conscience of the story, or at least this is how I see him. His musings about killing and senseless death underlined with rain (the rain was so important here- made a great effect) made me think about why you wrote the novel in the first place. But then here is Simon, such a daring, brave boy who always uses his own head, who brightens reader's mood just in time as if to make a counterweight to death. I liked him from the first. Adrian is the levelheaded and the dutiful one here... I sense we'll see much more of him in chapters to come.
(P.S. There's a strange connection between the sound of running water and bloodshed. I've seen it used in the theatre at the end of Sartre's play Dirty Hands. They are all killed at the end by a machine gun and after that there was an eerie silence. A few seconds later a sound of water running from a tap made me actually SEE the blood all over the scene.)



Needed corrections:
8.1
The third paragraph from the end, " 'Let's try again shall we,' he said calmly. What's the point trying to escape Simon?" (There's a quotation mark missing before "What's the point....")
8.3
Somewhere in the middle: "He had fort this man and been fairly beaten." (Didn't you mean "He had fought this man"?)
"Ted said with a chuckle. My father and mother..." (A quotation mark is missing before "My father and mother...")
8.5
"..., Ted told his friends and walked further in. the light was..." ("The light was..." Capital letter "The")
"Terry completely agreed with his Captain, but tom's smile..." ("Tom's" - capital letter)

Thu, May 22nd, 2014 11:43pm

Author
Reply

Thank you very much for reading and commenting. I have made the corrections on my computer. Thank you. I am glad you see the characters like that. They are all very interlinked in the story, so their individual identities are very important. I'd not actually seen the blood and the rain like that before, but it does all link in well. Thank you.

Sat, May 24th, 2014 6:01am

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