TWANG! The wire Sigmund cut sliced through the air and then quietly clinked against the wall. The tunnel we found ourselves in was dark and empty. Water rushed down the center of the tube with walking paths on either side. Blocking our progress, thin metal wires were strung up from wall to wall. Nyx led our small group, with Sigmund close by, cutting a path for us to travel through anytime it was blocked. Every time the wire shot through the air, it took everything in me to not jump back. Flinching away from the sound, images took shape in my mind. Explosions and poison darts triggered by the taut trip wires were haunting my thoughts. Walking in the darkness like this was torture…
TWANG! Twang! Twang…. The sound eerily echoed forward into the black. I tensed as I waited for the last line to be cut so we could get through this next row of trip lines. There had to be a catch to this. This planet may not have technical advances we did, but they must have a few tricks up their sleeve for intruders… THWISH! Wait what? That didn’t sound right. LIGHT! Suddenly blinded by flames, I gasped as I realized someone was on fire! A quick glimpse of a cloaked figure disappeared into the dark up the tunnel. Krieger had been doused with liquid and set a flame with an arrow! Who did that?! Reacting quickly, Krieger lunged into the water beside us and swiftly got pulled away by the harsh current. Plunged back into darkness, the fire now extinguished, the bright light caused a flashing left behind in my eyes. Making my field of vision very bad to nothing. I was about to shout when I heard Krieger pull herself up and out of the water on the opposite side. Good! She was okay. She attempted a bounding leap across the stream and caught the edge of the walkway in her stomach; blindly reaching out I grabbed her arm and helped pull her back onto the walkway.
The party started forward again. TWANG! Sigmund started making us a path advancing up the tunnel once again. I bet the cloaked figure was using the sound to track us.. Prey caught in the spider’s web… My thoughts didn’t dwell on this long, as another cut wire was immediately followed by one of my worst fears. A deafening explosion. The platform we were walking on collapsed and we plummeted into the water below. I couldn’t tell who fell with me. I couldn’t tell which way was up. I couldn’t tell if I was hurt. Opening my mouth to call out for help, my mouth filled with water as I rolled over and over under the water. The force of the current slammed me down, my head cracked against something hard, and my body went rigid. It took a couple seconds before I could recover but somehow I managed to break the surface and suck in a giant gulp of air. Busy coughing up water, I was unable to call out. There was so much going on, I’m not sure who would be able to hear me anyway. Still unable to see, my ears were assaulted by the chaos around me: gun shots (presumably at the returning hooded figure), splashing from everyone in the water trying to grasp onto something to hold onto, the thunder of footsteps as our companions chased us as we got swept away by the current. My strength was fading fast as I reached up and managed to grab ahold of something solid. Quickly Nyx appeared and offered me his staff to help me out of the water.
After everyone was recovered from the water, we soon headed back up the tunnel. Sigmund and Zarko had managed to kill the cloaked figure during the fray but soon we entered a room with more men. They were quickly all killed by Sigmund. We used the ancient elevator system and returned to the surface. We were inside the castle walls. Everything was deserted. Houses and random buildings stood alone beside the castle. The mobs roar could be heard again; outside the wall they were trying to break in. Fyke, even more determined to find Janae, led the way inside the castle. He didn’t say a word to anyone. Catching glances from room to room, I tried to imagine the rooms filled with people. I gazed at the paintings and wondered how it was before the chaos broke out. Sun light came through the high windows and dust lightly floated through the air. It was almost peaceful. Fyke approached a tapestry and pushed it aside, entering a huge chamber carpeted by a huge purple rug with blue trim around the edges. Stain glass above twinkled in the sunlight; looking up at the glass, I almost stumbled into Fyke as he stopped dead. Peeking around his still form, I held back a gasp as I saw the horror spread out in the center of a room. A pool, once probably very beautiful, lay in the floor filled with blood. Red splashed all over the floor and beside the pool lay a muscled arm… Just an arm.. Suddenly feeling very anxious my eyes darted around the room. Imaginary cloaked men jumping out from the hallways around us made my adrenaline start pumping. Fyke suddenly took off without warning. He ran all the way to two men trying to break into a chamber. Swiftly killing both men, we made it to the door and a light voice came from inside. Fyke replied to the voice in a tongue I didn’t understand and out burst a girl who flung herself in Fyke’s arms. We had found Janae. She was young and frail, sporting a flowered dress and short almost perfect white hair. We had found the princess.
Back outside we started to make our escape and headed to a giant gate. Once open, we started to head back into the city. A shout behind us made us stop dead. A mob had made it inside the castle grounds and they had starting charging at us from behind. There would be no way to outrun them all… Fyke gave Janae’s hand to Nyx and told him to tell Janoor that he had faithfully “been her shield and now he will be her sword.” He swung at the gate chain and closed the gate between us and himself and the mob… We will never see him again…
The rest was a blur. Our transporter had to be moved, and they were too far away to retrieve us quickly, right as we were spotted by the mob in the city. We struggled to rediscover the trail of flowers as we were being pursued by a mob of people who had lost reasoning. Some of them had weapons; those that didn’t pulled and clawed at us savagely. We barricaded ourselves in houses and climbed to the 2nd floor to jump to nearby houses roofs to escape the mob. Straining to find the next white flower, without being pulled into the raging mob, was overwhelming. Krieger threw grenades down into the alleys and Zarko and Sigmund shot down into the crowd. Soon we found ourselves cornered.. The gap between housetops was greater than what could easily be passed over. Determined to try, I flung myself over the gap and managed to land on the other side without sliding. Cutting a better foothold with my sword, I assisted the others as they made their jumps across. Nyx was the last one to cross. Janae, unable to process the much since the loss of Fyke, was slung over Nyx’s shoulder… Nyx hurled himself along with Janae to my current rooftop, and under the added weight of the absent princess, didn’t make good footing. He started to fall back, his eyes wide in surprise. Without thinking, I shot my arm forward and grabbed the front of Nyx’s shirt, keeping him from being thrown onto the wave of mob below. We ran along the rooftops until we were forced down into an empty alleyway. It was a short lived victory, as a man shouted from the house next door and soon the wave of people cornered around the building and surrounded us on all sides. Back to back with Nyx, he opened his third eye and fought with his staff as I pulled out my sword and started swinging desperately. Suddenly, I picked up a song.. The shouting, the gun fire, the clash of metal on metal was drowned out by a song. Janae was singing. Could anyone else hear her sweet lullaby? It took over my senses and suddenly brought me to my last memory of Kassius…
I stared at the ground. I understood why he had to leave but it just wasn’t fair… we could make due without the extra money. But I didn’t voice my thoughts. I didn’t want to start a fight… especially when he was leaving so quickly.
He put his hand under my chin and lifted my face to meet his gaze. I stared into his dark almond colored eyes.
“Hey.. I’ll be back soon. You know I will.” He said seriously and then cracked a huge grin. “I have something for you.” He turned and grabbed his pack from the nearby bench. Unbuckling the top he pulled out a small black and white ball of fluff.
“You didn’t think I’d forget your birthday did you?”
“Thanks, Kassius!” I scooped up the little animal plush and hugged it tightly.
Feeling like I had been filled with fire, I pushed the crowd forward with a flash of steel. My thoughts only on seeing my brother’s face again fueled me within, and I fought harder than ever before, pushing the mob farther and farther back away from me and my friends. We would not die today! I’m not sure how much time passed with the fire deep inside me. I felt like I could fight forever. Soon the transporter arrived, and Brute jumped out of the hatch in full Orc armor, obviously ready and rearing for a fight. He threw people out of the way opening a break in the crowd for us to push through to the transport. We quickly boarded the ship and practically had to drag Brute back inside. We were on our way back to the Titansbane.
It had been decided.. I didn’t agree but I said nothing.. Who was I to tell Sigmund or Zarko “no.” I was just the hired pilot what did my opinion make? The people were not right but did that give us the right to make them all disappear? Doesn’t matter.. I said nothing, so I will never know if I could have saved them or not. As I piloted within range, I felt nothing as Zarko bombed the city and the crazed mob. The castle nothing but a black crater in the planet. The pain didn’t come until later. I try not to dwell on it… I try not to think about that day.. The day I said nothing…
Watching Janoor and Janae reunite was indescribable. It made me immensely happy to see them together. I am glad I could be a part of joining mother and daughter together. I walked back to my bunch to give them privacy and to also give myself some time of rest. Silent tears ran down my face as I walked down the empty corridor to my quarters. I would give anything to have a special moment like that with my brother. If I could just be with Kassius again..
Soon the corridors were full of sound again. Some time had gone by and Janae was recovering very quickly. It was hard to imagine her as 17 already she seemed like such a small girl. So many things she had never seen in her lifetime. She was very excitable and her laughs rang through the hallways and chambers of the ship. I managed to use my technomat to create a board with a small battery, LED, and spring encased in a rubber sphere. The device would bounce when thrown and light up as a result. I gave it to Janae and she seemed beside herself with excitement. She is often found chasing it down the corridors. She even had a run in with Brute! The ball escaped her small hands and bounced off his giant belly, which he caught and returned to her. She giggled and ran off. I’m glad he didn’t scare her unlike his and Janoor’s first encounter. Janae’s smile makes me happy. She feels like a younger sibling and she often spends time in my technomat playing with the pandai. I think she even named him. I didn’t catch what it was though. I’ll have to ask her later.