Chapter 9:

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

Reads: 226
Comments: 2

9.1

Ted was true to his word and reached for his sword as soon as the fight began, but Simon got there first. He yanked Ted's sword clear of its sheath and swung it experimentally.

Terry drew his sword and moved in to attack. Ted waved his arm, both signalling Terry to back off and chuck him the sword. Terry obliged and the next moment, Simon and Ted were engaged in a one to one sword fight. 

Ted had the advantage in wearing chain mail but Simon had him on the defensive already. It wasn't a very long fight. Ted disarmed Simon relatively early on and taking his sword, threw Terry's aside. When he had Simon ducking away he sheathed his sword and leaped at Simon. Simon however had seen what Ted was going to do and leaped up at him at the same moment. They collided in the air and fell heavily on to the ground.

Briefly they wrestled side by side before Simon got on top of Ted. Even so, Ted was confident he could still win. He locked Simon's left arm and grabbed his shoulder, ready to flick him off. Then he gasped as Simon's right hand came into contact with his chin and neck. The trick had been perfectly copied and Ted didn't like that at all. Momentarily he lost hold of Simon's shoulder, but when he got hold of it again he used all his strength to throw Simon over on to his back. A matter of seconds later, Simon gave up. He didn't struggle when Ted bound his hands and tied him tightly up against the wall. He also didn't try to put in any comments in the resumed conversation. He knew that Ted wouldn't tolerate it.

All this time the other four had stood quite still, except Terry, who had retrieved his sword and sheathed it. Nathan was a little frightened for his nephew who had not told him that they'd already fought. Joe was awed by his cousin's agility and in an odd way wanted the fight to go on. Tom was quietly amused at the surprised expression on his brother's face just before he flipped Simon and pinned him. He found himself wondering, if there should be another fight, would Simon flip Ted over. He reckoned he would.

When Ted stepped back to his normal position he apologised for the disturbance in the conversation and asked where they'd been.

“Simon asked why you're willing to help,” Nathan hinted and then went in for it. He knew it was just because Simon had asked that there'd been a fight. “I'd also like to know.”

“We're bored,” Ted answered with a tone to match the statement. “We were in the navy, but that was boring and we nicked one of their boats, so they don't want us back, except in chains. We see this as a bit of excitement. It'd be fun avoiding the army and helping you who don't know much, or I dare say anything, about smuggling.”

“I guess that makes sense,” Joe nodded slowly. He wasn't sure how to react to that.

“So?” Ted asked. “Do you want to?”

Nathan looked at Joe. Then they spoke in low voices together. Ted didn't bother to listen. He knew they'd give him an answer soon.

“Yes,” Nathan announced at last. “We'll take your offer and join you-or whatever it is. I'm not sure how it'll work.”

“Well I'm not sure either,” Ted laughed. “But we can sort that out soon enough.”

They sat down together at one end of the room, leaving Simon awkwardly standing with his hands pulled up behind his back at the other end.

First they worked out where they stood with one another. It didn't take long for Ted to assert that he was in charge and they were working under his control. Then they turned to the actual plan. Slowly it progressed, ending up nothing like the original.

They agreed in the end that food wasn't enough. If they were to really help the people in the village, they had to do something more drastic and reshape their lives. They had to get the people out of the country. They had to smuggle them away from the war. It was much more risky than smuggling food in. Smuggling was a crime and if they were caught they'd be locked up, for how long, no one knew. However if they were caught smuggling people out of the country, they were almost certain to be killed.

It had been Tom who had put it forward. It had taken them a lot of time and tense debate before Tom won them all round to it. Ted and Terry were in fact the last to agree, but they did. They agreed at about six and then decided to sleep a few hours before going to repair Nathan's boat.

Ted showed them to more comfortable quarters with bunks and left them there to sleep. He and his friends went to other rooms nearby. Simon stayed in the room, bound against the wall. He did not sleep.

 

9.2

Adrian woke with a start. His window shutters were wide open and the moonlight fell across the tiled floor like a milky glow. He'd heard a noise. He was sure of that, but what noise? Rap, Rap! Adrian sat bolt upright in his bed and stared around. Rap rap! Quicker this time. More urgent. Adrian got out of bed and went across to the window. The noise seemed to be coming from there.

He leaned on the broad windowsill and peered out. Suddenly he saw something swing towards him and catch hold of the outside of the window frame. Adrian took a pace back before realising that it was a man. It wasn't just any man. It was the man. He was hanging by his knees from a thick stick suspended on a rope from the roof. He was in his normal rusty clothes and black cloak which was now tucked into his belt. In his one hand he was holding a dagger and his other hand grasped at the window frame. 

“Adrian,” the man whispered. Then as suddenly as he'd come he let go of the window frame and swung away. The moonlight made his green eyes glitter and his ginger hair appear like flame as he reached up with his free hand and disappeared up over the edge of the roof.

Adrian turned, grabbed his sword and ran down the stairs to the courtyard. He closed the door behind him quietly and ducked round a large metal bucket that had found its way to the middle of the doorway. He was close to the wall as he did this and so was in the shadow, but the two men who came through the far gate were in full moonlight. Adrian ducked away towards the old hall as he saw the swords in the men's hands. The men crossed the courtyard and entered the hall, falling over the bucket as they did. Adrian crept close to the wall, towards the far gate. Suddenly he touched someone and the next thing he knew he was fighting.

They struggled violently for a moment before the other man pulled the shutter back from his lantern and revealed who they both were.

“Alexander!”

“Adrian!”

They were both relieved.

“What are you doing?” Adrian asked. “Why are you hiding your light?”

“I was up rather too early,” Alexander whispered. “I thought it was later than it was so I went to do my duty. When I realised the time I was going to head back when I heard voices in the hall. The odd thing was that they weren't drunk. I went to listen and heard the commander talking to two officers, saying that he wanted them to do it quietly and quickly and to get rid of the bodies. I realised then that they were going to kill someone and decided to get to the halls before them, but I couldn't. I heard them coming quickly behind me so I closed the shutters on my lantern and kept close to the wall. When they went through the gate I slipped in behind them and crept round here and met you coming the other way. Why are you here?”

“I saw the man hanging upside down from a rope outside my window,” Adrian replied. “I came down to see what he wanted. I saw them and ducked into the shadows and met you.”

Alexander nodded. “Who do you…?”

They heard running footsteps descending the stairs of the hall and someone fumbled with the door. Alexander pulled the shutter across his lantern in a hurry and pressed Adrian back against the wall. The clouds and rain that had drifted away at about midnight returned as the two men ran out of the door. The one man tripped on the bucket and fell with both hands in to the cold dirty rain water which half-filled it. The other man swore and fell over his friend landing full length on the sodden flagstones. His sword fell from his hand and clattered noisily in the courtyard. Someone from the hall appeared bleary eyed and half naked in the doorway.

“What's the matter,” he demanded grumpily. He wasn't pleased by being woken in the middle of the night. “What are you doing here? This isn't your hall.”

“We were looking for the two corporals,” the man who had straightened from the bucket answered. “Clamston and Nite.”

“They're probably doing their duty somewhere on the walls,” the man told them. “They're queer like that. Now leave me some quiet to sleep.” He retreated into the hall, slamming the door behind him.

“They're not on duty,” the one man sulked as he brushed the dirt from his clothes. “I saw the time table. Alexander's on duty in about two hours or so, but not before that. They've slipped us. I'm telling you. They've slipped us proper.”

The two men stalked out of the courtyard, leaving the two corporals to breathe freely.

 

9.3

It was about three thirty in the afternoon when Ted rattled the handle of the wooden door and walked in to the room. Nathan and Joe were half asleep when they heard the noise and only just sat up before Ted entered.

“I trust you slept well,” Ted greeted and took a bottle of oil from a shelf beside the door. He picked up the lamp that stood next to it and carefully filled it. Almost instantly the dim flame brightened on the wick. “We're going down to the beach to have a look at your boat,” Ted continued. “I was wondering if you wanted to come and show us how you're fixing it and all that. It's your boat after all.”

“Yes we'll come,” Nathan agreed instantly and pushed his blanket aside. He pulled on his boots and tied the tattered laces.

Joe reluctantly followed his father's example and pulled his blanket back over the bed, neatly as his mother had taught him before she died three years ago. Noticing what Joe was doing Nathan copied before turning back to Ted, who was waiting at the door. Ted licked his finger and flicked out the lamp flame. Then he turned and led the way out, carrying his lantern aloft to show the way.

They met Tom and Terry in the cave and went down to the beach together. Nathan then found himself leading the way to the boat. The sky was grey and looked quite ready to drench them. The air was remarkably cool with the nippy sea wind rising. Occasionally a gap appeared in the clouds to reveal a tired, washed out sky. The water lying in the bottom of the boat proved that it had already rained. Ted and Nathan tipped the water out and turned the boat upside down to examine the damaged side. Nathan showed them what he and Joe had been doing to plug the hole and asked if they would do it differently.

Ted laughed. “Yes,” he replied. “I'd use a better piece of wood.”

Terry was sent to their store to get the appropriate piece while Tom went for some tools. They returned with top quality wood and equipment. The wood selected was already split and smoothed on both sides. Nathan, Joe and the smugglers didn't take long in marking out the wood and while Nathan and Joe altered the shape of the rip to accommodate the wood more tightly, the smugglers worked on forming the plug.

By four they decided that they were hungry and Terry was sent to get some food from Nathan's supply. The smugglers didn't in fact have much at all in the tunnels. They ate some of the food which Terry cooked somewhere in the tunnels and brought out to them hot. Then they returned to their work. By eight that evening, the plug was finished and fitted perfectly.

“We've got about an hour before we need to get back to the tunnels,” Ted noted. “I think that's enough time to finish this job and fix it in place with a few nails and wax.”

Again Terry was sent for the nails, wax and smoothing tools. In his absence Ted and Joe built a small fire with the few pieces of wood that had been left from the last fire. Then they heated the wax and mixed it with other things while Nathan and Tom nailed the plug into place. It didn't take long for Nathan to realise that Ted and his friends were much more clued up with mending boats than they were. They stepped back and let the smugglers seal the plug and smooth it all down. By nine they were finished. The tide was coming in so they hurried to pack away their things, put out the fire and make their way back to the cave and into the tunnels.

“Shall we have supper?” Ted invited as he closed the cave's inner door and lit his lantern.

 

9.4

The dark blond haired man with liquid blue eyes stood across from him, barring the way. His heavily built stature seemed securely placed on the foredeck of The Dread-Storm, a fine looking vessel with a crew of around thirty. He held a large round shield across his back and his long thin sword was poised for the attack. His eyes were fixed alarmingly fiercely on the slight young man who stood before him with his new wife, a pretty lady with mellow blue-grey eyes and thick blond hair hanging loose to her waist. The young man stood defensively, slightly ahead of her, with his short broad sword ready to strike or parry.

The older man swung his arm down, bringing the lethal blade singing towards his opponent. The short sword flashed up and across, knocking the blow harmlessly aside.

“Let me go past,” the young man said quietly as the clash died down. “Harry, I don't want to fight,” he continued as the other man raised his sword to strike again.

“I'm more than happy to let you go past if you leave her behind,” the man, Harry, jeered, knowing full well that the woman's husband would never leave her. He'd rather die for her to escape.

“We're not your enemies,” the young man protested as he parried yet another stroke.

“Then why are you so anxious to get off the ship?” Harry taunted.

“We want to go home,” the young man almost growled as he parried a third stroke and finally dealt one.

“Perhaps I could take you there,” Harry said, again knowing what the younger man thought of that. His home was his secret. He would never let Harry know where it was. That was why Harry wanted to know. He struck again at the young man.

Quite suddenly the young man lost his temper and struck out fiercely. He thrust Harry's sword aside and slashed up at his neck. Harry stepped back and swept his sword round to parry the next blow. The young man slashed towards Harry's head, but only as a decoy. At the last moment he spun the short blade away and then back in to strike at his left thigh. Harry had no choice but to step backhand to his right. Almost faster than sight, the young man leaped at him, risking the long sword. He half tackled and half stabbed at the bigger man. The woman stepped past as inconspicuously as she could and climbed down to the small ship's boat. Less than a minute later her husband disengaged from Harry and with one leap joined her. He dropped his sword in the boat, seized the ores and pulled away from the Dread-Storm. They had escaped.

 

9.5

Ted quietly slipped out of the room, leaving the others eating porridge and a few vegetables from the smugglers scanty stock. He walked through the tunnels in the darkness. He knew them blindfold anyway. When he reached Simon's prison he fumbled for the lantern he always kept at the main junctions in the tunnels. It had enough oil for what he wanted it for. He struck a light and lit the wick. He took the lantern from the hook and went to the door. For a moment he stood still uncertain how to begin. He still didn't know when he pushed the bolt back and went in, shutting the door behind him. He hung the lantern on the hook above the door and looked across at Simon.

The slight fourteen year old was still bound as Ted had left him. His eyes were closed and his face was pale beneath the sunburn. He looked very tired. Ted found himself feeling pity for the boy, but he had no idea why.

“Simon,'”he said quietly.

Simon reluctantly opened his eyes and looked at Ted.

“Why do you keep fighting Simon?” Ted asked.

Simon gave what appeared to be a shrug. “Because I can,” he replied. 'I don't give up easily.'

“But you knew I'd use my sword,” Ted tried to point out what he saw as obvious to the boy. “You knew that you couldn't win.”

Simon shook his head. “I reckoned that if I got your sword first I'd have a chance. As I said, I don't give up without a fight. Several fights if I lose the first.”

“From that I guess you haven't given up yet,” Ted said rather discouraged.

“I won't give up against you,” Simon replied with an edge in his voice that reminded Ted of his brother when they were boys play fighting in the larger halls.

“Why?” Ted asked quietly. He didn't understand how Simon could be so forward and bold in some ways whilst keeping other things very guarded.

Simon thought about it for a moment before answering in a calm controlled voice. “You're only a bit stronger than me. Your only real advantage is knowledge of your surroundings.”

Ted could easily have jumped straight in and claimed it false and that was what Simon expected him to do, but he didn't. He thought long about what Simon had said before trying to reply to it. “I agree in part with what you say,” he said at last. “The tunnels are an advantage to me, one that, given time, you could in theory counter. But there is a point you seem to think is your advantage. You say I'm a bit stronger than you.” He paused and Simon nodded. “I'd like to point out that that is not about to change. If anything I'll become stronger while you become weaker in here. Even so I think you've missed a crucial point and that is my experience. You've obviously fought, but not as much as I have and that's not going to change.”

Slowly Simon nodded. “That's true enough,” he agreed with surprising willingness. “All of it's true, but even so I won't give up.”

Ted decided to take a different tack. “What would you do if you did escape?” he asked.

“First I'd make sure that you three couldn't jump me from some hidden place,” Simon stated with a smile. “Then I'd map the tunnels and search them. They seem to be quite extensive, so I reckon it'd take me some time to find an exit, but I would, somehow. Once I'd found an exit I'd return to the cave and get what stuff I could, else I'd find it where ever else it is. Next I'd go back into the tunnels and finish mapping them. After finishing my map I'd build a boat, even better than my dad could. I know how to but I've never been given the freedom to do it. And I'd then go sailing across the seas as I like and possibly join up with Nathan to smuggle food to the villagers. That sounds fun. And after that I don't know.”

Ted smiled as he realised that it was possible to get Simon on side. “So for that, you'd fight until you'd won would you?” he asked amused at his own plan.

“I won't give up,” Simon said, slightly uncertain as to why Ted was smiling.

“Not even if I offered you all of that,” Ted enticed.

“What do you mean?” Simon almost demanded. “What exactly do you mean?”

“You're interested to know more then?” Ted asked, now playing the suspense game. He expected Simon to deny real interest but he didn't.

“Yes,” Simon said very confidently. “Are you going to tell me more?”

Ted smiled. This boy didn't beat about the bush. “Well here's my proposition,” he said quietly. “I'll permit you to map most of the tunnels with one of us, allow you to build yourself a boat and let you join Nathan and Joe with the smuggling.” He paused.

The look on Simon's face spoke pages. It was a look of absolute suspicion. There had to be a catch. There always was. What did they want in return? Would he have to serve them?

“Yes, I do want something in return,” Ted continued. “I want secrecy. Absolute secrecy. I don't even want Nathan or Joe seeing the map you make, or knowing anything of what you see. You can be in on the secret, but you have to keep it, even closer than secrets of your own. And as I said before, you can't see all the tunnels and you can only map when we're with you. No going off on your own. What do you say to it?”

Simon considered for a moment before checking what he thought. “So if I give up,” he said, “you'll give me all that and my freedom for me keeping the tunnels secret.”

“Yes,” Ted confirmed. “All I want is secrecy.”

“If I agree can I duel you later?” Simon asked with a smile.

Ted laughed. “At some point I suppose we could duel,” he agreed, rather amused at Simon's wish.

“Then I agree,” Simon smiled. “For once I give up.”

“Good,” Ted half sighed with relief. He didn't like holding people prisoner when they hadn't intentionally tried to find the tunnels, even if he had fought persistently hard. He untied Simon and headed back to the door.

“Would you like to eat and rest a bit?” he asked.

Simon nodded. “Where are the other two?” he asked as they headed down the corridor to the main junction. 'I mean your friends.'

“They're eating with your kin,” Ted replied. “Do you mind the dark? This lantern belongs here.”

“The dark's fine,” Simon smiled.

Ted snuffed out the light and hung it on its hook again.

“What does kin mean?” Simon asked referring to the previous line of conversation.

“Relatives,” Ted answered. “Like family, but not necessarily very close family. Didn't you know the word?”

“I only knew it as Nathan and Joe's family name,” Simon explained and changed the subject. “Where are we going?”

“A room near the cave with bunks and blankets,” Ted answered. “I'll bring you some food and drink and let you sleep. It's high tide now and my friends and I have something to do quickly so you'll have to wait for us to return, but I'm sure you'll sleep most of the time. You look tired.”

Simon nodded. He was tired.

 

9.6

I brought the soldier food at mid-day. It was cool out and nothing had happened. The soldiers were still in their camps and the dead men still lay on the grass. The clouds still hung forebodingly over the land and in infrequent glimpses of sky showed an insipid Blue. Jude said he'd watch for a while. I didn't have anything to do, so I took the food from Adam, the man who was going to give it to the soldier and took it myself. He just smiled at me and thanked me. He didn't want to do it.

I locked the door behind me and sat on the bench with him as he ate. I felt a little sorry for him, alone in his room. The others never stayed with him while he ate. He spoke to me again, never expecting an answer or comment. He didn't have to check that I was listening. He knew I was, and although he'd only spoken once with me before, he already knew that I didn't want to speak.

“It's a miserable day out there today,” he began after thanking me for the food. “I'm glad I'm not out in it. I should think the others from my group met up with the main army and fought last night. More killing, as usual”. Between every sentence or two he ate a bit before continuing. “I could see the strategies clearly from here. This room's got a very good view. They didn't fight well. Their formations at the first weren't good. Did you see it?”

I nodded. It had been bad.

“I've been thinking about all the fights I've been in,” he began again. “Thinking about the formations we used, I'm pleasantly surprised to be alive. I fought for the so called government. I say so called because I don't see how they govern in a war stricken country and I don't see how they can say that the people are with them. They're not. The people aren't with the so called rebels either. The people are for themselves. I don't blame them. I'm also for myself. That's why I ran. Why fight when you can save your life by running? Why give up what you've got if you can save it? Sometimes to save what you want you have to run and sometimes you have to fight.”

I nodded. I knew he was right. We'd decided the same thing.

“I ran and you fight,” he murmured softly. “It's funny how I like the idea of fighting for you now. When it comes to it, I'm a coward, but you and your village. You're courageous and you make me feel brave. I feel as though I want to fight for the people I wanted to protect in the beginning. Do the other villagers who came yesterday also want to fight?”

I shook my head.

“I didn't think so,” he said. “Some will run. Some will fight. I hope you do well in whatever you choose. I know I've done well in running.” He finished his food and put the bowl down on the bench beside him. I picked it up and took my leave.

“I'll see you,” the soldier said quietly as I unlocked the door and left. I simply nodded. He needed company and I was probably the only one who would give it to him.


Submitted: July 05, 2012

© Copyright 2022 Cwester. All rights reserved.

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Comments

Julie March

I don't know what to say that I didn't already say, but very well done. I think this chapter might be the best yet. I liked the suspense about Harry and his wife, and the fight between Simon and Ted, I thought was very skillfully done. I'm only sad that I've reached the end of your chapters. Please update soon, and tell me!

Tue, July 17th, 2012 2:24pm

Author
Reply

Updating right now. Thanks for commenting. You are really encouraging.

Tue, July 17th, 2012 8:32am

andreamay

Harry is, I guess, the rich man with the secret script, the one we've met in the fifth chapter. I suspect he's the bad guy here. But then, there are no bad and good guys. At least not yet (if I don't count drunk soldiers and sailors), they are all just human. But there is a bad force, the senseless war. I'm just thinking out loud. I need to go on to the next chapter. Mystery is killing me. Nicely made fighting scenes, like in a movie. Especially the one on the ship. Oh, and there must be something special about the ship, for she's the only one with a name.

Fri, May 23rd, 2014 12:03pm

Author
Reply

Thank you for reading and commenting. Yes. That is Harry. I found writing this story quite difficult because the characters are all so human and therefore fallible, each with their own motives, fears and desires. I have tried to only name things and people where it is significant to the story, or nessecery for identification for the reader. I'm delighted that you are enjoying it so much.

Sat, May 24th, 2014 6:10am

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