Friday, December 20, 2013

Friends and Enemies // Chapter Fifteen // Getaway in the Night

    Wow, that was a loooonngg time coming. I know I promised that it'd be up a couple weeks ago, and I had about half of it done. But then procrastination came, and I didn't finish it. It was kinda complicated, and I only finished the last 1/3 last night, so be grateful it's here at all ;)
 Willow stared at the candle flickering in her window. It was almost completely dark, and the single candle's flame was the only light in the dark grey stone turret room.
   She sighed deeply. My help comes from the Author, and he alone, she thought, trying to muster her courage.
   A knock sounded at her door. Aliatha poked her head of chestnut brown hair around the rough wooden door. "It is time," she stated plainly. Willow nodded calmly back to her.
   "Than let's get on with it," she whispered.

   "Are you afraid? I mean, afraid of Tash?" Aliatha asked slowly as she helped Willow into the black dress made of crows' feathers.
   Willow shuddered as Aliatha laced the horrible dress up from behind her. "I am a little," she admitted. "I mean, I don't want to be tortured, but I'm not absolutely terrified. Tash can't really hurt me, but he will try. I have people counting on me, Aliatha," her voice broke. "I can't die. When people count on you..." her voice trailed off.
   Aliatha squeezed her shoulder. "Do not worry about that, because it is not going to happen." She turned to face her dark-haired friend. "You must draw your courage from your faith in the Author, not yourself. Trust in him."
   Willow nodded. "I know," she whispered, then threw her arms around Aliatha's neck in a tight embrace. "Thanks."

   Tajoreth knocked softly on the old wooden door. Aliatha opened it and smiled softly at him. "Oh, good. We were beginning to think you had gotten intercepted." She beckoned him in. Reaching into his tunic, he produced Willow's elven dagger. Offering it to her, she smiled weakly.
   "Thanks Tajoreth." She tucked it under a long slit in the skirt, hooking it onto the belt loop of hidden trousers beneath the skirt. The slit was overlapping, and Aliatha had sewn it so that no one knew it was there. Willow needed the trousers so that she could run and ride. The black dress was rather restricting in that regard.
   "Now, is everyone sure of the plan?" Willow inquired as she adjusted her skirt back over the slit, covering completely and then some. Tajoreth nodded, but Aliatha looked nervous.
   "Would you please remind me? I forget things all of the time," she requested.
   "Sure," Willow nodded, then spread out a Tajoreth-drawn map of the castle and surrounding grounds.
   "First, they'll make me stand before that creepy Tash guy, and right before they can hand me over, Tajoreth will open a window, which will extinguish all of the candles because of that dreadful windstorm outside," she commented, glancing at her shuttered window, which the wind howled against.
   "Then, while that's happening, Aliatha will distract the guards somehow, and get Teclemith out. Then they'll both get to the stables, where no one will probably be. Then Teclemith will take Tajoreth's horse, and we'll "borrow" the one that was stolen from Aliatha's family."
   "Shadowlight," Aliatha nodded.
   "Pardon?" Willow arched an eyebrow at her in confusion.
   "Shadowlight is the name of my horse."
   "Okay, whatever. Anyway, then, while all of the candles are out back in the grand ballroom, Tajoreth and I will be making our escape through that window, down the trellis, and run down the path to the stables. How's that?"
   Aliatha twirled a piece of her nut-brown hair around her finger. "How will we ride away, again?"
   "We'll do just that. Ride away. No one will notice, because we'll use the back gate," Willow explained patiently.
   Aliatha scrunched up her face for a minute, then nodded. "All right. I am ready. When do we start?"
   "Now," Tajoreth offered Willow his arm. "I am to escort you, young rebel." His eyes remained serious, but a smiled threatened at his mouth.
   Willow couldn't help it, and smiled back. She took his arm importantly. "Let the games begin, Sir!"
   She pretended to be cheerful, but deep inside, fear gnawed at her stomach. What if none of this worked? What if she ended up actually being dragged to that horrible Lorthin place and being tortured to give up her Author-given ring. She had a responsibility for it. She was not to let anyone, absolutely anyone put it on.
   Glancing down to look at the golden ring shining on her right ring finger, the elvish script on it lit up briefly, as if to remind her of her faith and calling. Right.
   Striding down the dark stone hallways next to Tajoreth, Willow muttered prayers under her breath. Tajoreth, sensing her nervousness, gave her arm a light squeeze. She managed a small grin at him, and he smiled back, hoping to encourage her. Her grin widened into a more genuine smile.
   "Good, Tajor. You managed," Zemerah nodded, glaring coldly at Willow, who returned her gaze with measured courage. He nodded.
   "It is not very hard," he explained, purposefully letting his voice grow loud enough to echo through the hall. "Once their spirit is broken, they cannot fight anymore." To emphasize, Willow lowered her eyes to the plush navy-blue carpet, and tried to look worn down. She was even shaking. Tajoreth could feel her shivering as she held tightly to his arm. Once his sister turn her back to hurry up the elaborately carved stone steps, he whispered, in a tone so low only she could hear it. "Trust me."
   She nodded ever-so-slightly.
   "Good, Tajoreth. You are here. Now we can begin," Tashmath grinned. Willow clenched her jaw and willed herself not to say a word.
   The giant chandelier in the middle of the room glowed with at least a hundred candles, and provided light for the entire space. Willow glanced at the window out of the corner of her eye. The wind seemed to have died down. Uh, oh! Big uh oh!
   Tajoreth gave her once last reassuring look before Kedemeth grabbed her arm and Tajoreth had to let go. He gave her a firm nod. He almost wish he did believe in the Author, for if he did, he'd be praying as hard as he could right now. Instead, he took to standing next to a large but easy to open window.
   Willow climbed the stairs to of the viewing platform slowly, as slowly as she possibly could. Kedemeth tugged impatiently at her arm, not pleased with having to wait.
Aliatha had been busy all evening, cooking a lovely roast and worrying about the plan. Now it was her turn.
   "Good evening, gentlemen," she remarked politely to the guards of Teclemith's room. They nodded back to her. "I was just wondering, if any of you young men would be interested in that roast that I just finished cooking..." she trailed off as she gazed out the window, pretending to be distracted by the torches on the castle wall. She could almost sense their ears perking up.
   "A roast?" the first guard asked. She nodded vaguely, still pretending to admire the torches' light.
   "For us?" the second guard asked.
   "I thought that you would appreciate it, since no once seems to appreciate you! Is it not very had to guard a rebel?" she commented. That did it. The guards were down the stairs before she could even turn around.
   Fishing some rusted keys from her apron pocket, she stuck the largest key into the locked and turned it. It seemed to take an eternity to turn, but it did, finally. Teclemith rushed forward eagerly. But then...
    Willow finally reached the top of the steps, and was looking up at the seven-foot-tall dressed-fully-in-black figure of Tash. She gulped nervously. He looked down with his piercing beady black eyes, giving her chills. Waiting for the signal, she threw a pleading glance towards Tajoreth, who nervously watched. Something wasn't right.
   "Move girl!" a burly guard demanded, elbowing Aliatha out of his way as he thumped into the room.
   "Excuse me!" she sputtered indignantly.
   Teclemith backed up to the wall, but there was nowhere to run as the burly guy grabbed him by the arm in an iron grip. "Come on, Rebel. You're goin' to see Tash tonight."
   "Now," the at-least-seven-feet-tall Tash thundered down at petite little Willow. "Give me your ring, girl, and your life and limbs will be spared."
   What a lovely way of putting things, Shadow scum, she mentally retorted. Stubbornly she shook her head, clutching her right hand against her chest, her fingers curled into a fist. No way she was giving that ring up. No way.
   Tash then turned and gave Tashmath a slight nod, who nodded to a guard at the door. The guard in turn jerked open the ornate door. And in tromped a big-burly-mountain-man guard dragging Teclemith. This can't be good.
   "Well than," Tash sniffed. "I suppose this youth will have to pay a price. Bring him up here," he ordered.
 Teclemith tried to resist, but the huge guard practically carried him up the plushly carpeted steps.
   "No!" Willow burst out, her mind racing.
   "Well then?" Tash's cruel long-fingered black-clad hand hovered before her. "Your choice is before you. Make it."
   Her decision made, Willow glared into his masked face. "I've made it."
   Tajoreth, trying to be discreet, unlatched the large window and pushed it open as hard as he could. The wind whistled loudly as it wooshed through. All of the candles were out in an instead, plunging the vast ballroom into pitch-blackness.
   For a split-second, there was complete and utter silence. Then Tashmath started shouting, Zemerah started shrieking, and Tajoreth {to add to the commotion} started yelling.
  Tajoreth felt someone grab his arm, and then another, smaller hand grab his other arm. Silently, he guided those hands to the windowsill. He heard the rustling of feathers {Willow's creepy dress} and the creaking of wood as they climbed hand over hand down the trellis.
   Teclemith waited impatiently as Willow ducked behind a shed to change. He could hear her muttering to herself about the idiocracy of the dress. And the sound of fabric being sliced by a dagger. She wasn't a patient one.
   "I'm done," she whispered, appearing about a minute later, now clothed in dark brown trousers and a dark blue tunic, her long hair twisted neatly up into a bun.
   "Lovely. I thought you had up and left me here standing in the dark," he grinned, breaking into a jog as they made their way down to the stables. The immense windows of the ballroom above them were still dark, so it was obvious they hadn't been discovered yet.
   "This way," he pointed down a worn footpath to their left. "That's the servant's path. It will get us there quicker, if we hurry." 
   "They're gone!" cried the big burly guard that had been holding Teclemith. When Teclemith had wrenched free, he'd hollered, but no one had heard him.
   "Blast it!" muttered Kedemeth. He glanced at his elder sister Zemerah, who was staring at the open window. She nodded slightly at him, than at the window.
   "Go," was all she said. Kedemeth couldn't even hear her, but he read her lips. He nodded. He knew exactly where the duo would head.
   "Hurry!" Teclemith called softly over his shoulder as they raced towards the stables. Willow nodded, but didn't call back because she was saving her breath. He disappeared into the stables as she leaned against the doorway and panted. Stupid long path to the stables.
   "Halt!" a male voice interrupted her thoughts. Willow whirled around, her hand on her elven dagger. Kedemeth was about thirty feet away on the path, holding a sword pressed against Aliatha's throat. Her terrified face was frozen with fear.
   "Do not call out or she dies," Kedemeth ordered. "Put down your sword."
   Willow nodded slowly and lifted her dagger from it's sheath and dropped it to the damp grass.
   "Now-" Before he could finish his sentence, a sword appeared out of nowhere and hit Kedemeth on the back of the head with the flat. Crumpling to the ground, Kedemeth let go of Aliatha, who's knees buckled. But the sword-bearer reached in and caught her. Tajoreth stepped into the torchlight and half-carried Aliatha to the horse that Teclemith was leading out.
   "Thanks Tajoreth," Willow grinned, grabbing Aliatha's other arm to steady her.
   "I am all right," Aliatha assured her shakily. "I will fetch Shadowlight. Thank you, Tajoreth." She threw him a grateful smile. He smiled back.
   "Let's go, guys," Willow directed as Aliatha led Shadowlight into the puddle of torchlight.
   "Come, Shadowlight. Quickly now, we musn't be caught," Aliatha whispered. She slid her foot into the stirrup and swung her leg over the saddle. Willow grabbed her offered hand and pulled herself easily into the saddle.
   "Thank you again. Friend," Willow gave him a playful salute as Aliatha dug her heels into her mare's sides.
   "You are welcome. Friend...." he waved as they galloped off into the dark night.

 Whew! That was longer than I usually write. I hope you liked it. I like it, even if no one else does ;)
 By the way, I still haven't named the character from my last post, so if you still have ideas, you can hustle over there and comment.
   If you have any questions, of course, feel free to ask.

-Be a friend, not an enemy- 


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Watchmen Files // Half-Chapter Ten // Turning Point

Hey everybody!

It's D.

   And I have come to a difficult conclusion.

   As you know, next Wednesday is Christmas Day. And we will (as everyone will be) be extremely busy with the holiday season and all. And I'm suppose to be writing the Watchmen Files: A Holiday Special: The Christmas Edition that week.

   And, as Willow would testify, I can get really stressed (and a bit cranky) when I get behind on my chapters. It totally freaks me out because I'm always nervous that I won't be able to finish a chapter in time, and I told you that I would.

   And now, I have realized that I can't be in the Christmas spirit and be madly writing five more chapters at the same time.

   So, I'm so sorry to say this, but I'm not going to be able to post the special this month, or until I finish the first file.

   Now I really, really wanted to write this. But I really, really don't want to ruin Christmas (or at least make it unpleasant) for the rest of my family.

   I am so, so sorry I got everyone's hopes up. Please forgive me!

And now, as an I'm-so-sorry-thing, here is the beginning of The Watchmen Files: File One: Chapter Ten. Now this is the first half, not the whole thing.

   Days, weeks, then three whole months passed Mason and the rest of the squad by in a blur of training, training, and more training. And whenever they weren't training, they were either eating or sleeping. There was no time to laze about, not when your training Sargent is Mike Graham. He had them train hard, and his work payed off.
   Mason could pass nearly every test that was thrown at him. He excelled in anything physical, his ability did all of the work. Also, he didn't have any huge 'freak outs' for a time. He did get very angry at Duke on a daily basis, but Conner kept him pretty calm if he had too much trouble with that.
   Conner himself was also doing better, he could keep up with the others more easily, though it was still quite a challenge for him.
   But then, disaster struck.
   It all started the day Sargent Graham burst in to their barracks earlier than normal telling them that there would be a cadet training squad shadowing them around for the day.
   Mason thought that was stupid, and said so. "I'm not here to show the Watchman-wannabees around town."
   Duke rolled his eyes dramatically. "Oh come on, Kruger! It won't hurt to have some kiddies follow us around for a day."
   Mason scowled back. Duke just wants to show off, as usual.
   "Cut the chatter," Graham rebuked them. "I want all of you to be on your best behavior. Show them how it's done."
   "We should tell them to head for the hills," Conner muttered from the bottom bunk where he was groaning about his achy back. He was obviously still having a hard time with the exercises. Apparently, he didn't do much of that in Ireland. Which explained why he weighed more than everyone else. Mason was kind of skinny, but it wasn't that big of a deal to him. But for Duke, it was the perfect target for rude jokes.
   And those kind were what Duke S. York mastered in, or at least, he thought so. And since no one wanted to tell him otherwise, he continued to harass Conner about his weight, height, and faith.
   "Okay boys," Graham snapped Mason out of his character run-over. "Let's show 'em how it's done."
   After Graham left the room, Mason opened up his trunk and rummaged around for his uniform. While shifting everything around to get to it, he found one of the items he had asked for from his apartment: Ava's teddy bear. Gently pulling it out, he examined the stuffed toy fondly. Ava had gotten that from her daddy, a long time ago. She would sleep with it every night.
   But not that night. She was probably in some super secret Hydra base out in who-knows-where with his freakish Nazi cousins. 
   Sighing, he began to stuff it back into the trunk when he noticed a hole ripped in its side. "Huh, that wasn't there before..."
   Sticking his finger into the small gap and feeling about, Mason found a wadded up piece of paper.
   He unfolded it and read what was written in spidery letters written so lightly that they could barely be made out.
We have the M├Ądchen. If you want her to live, give yourself up. She will not be harmed. It is you they want. You are a Hydra. It runs in our blood. Embrace who you are, save the child. Live to tell.
Cut off one head, two more will take its place. Hail, Hydra.
    Mason read quickly, his blood pulsing and that blinding anger welling up in him again. How could this happen? Why did they want him in the first place? And what would they do to to Ava if he didn't do what they wanted? What should I do? Sighing, Mason followed after the others and tucked the note into his pocket. He would tell Graham about it later. At the moment, he had kiddies to show off to.
   "Hey everyone," Jason Gray called the giddy eighteen year olds and younger scuttling about in the hall to attention. "As you know, name is Jason Grey. I'm the Junior Director of Special Forces, but you can just call me Mr. Jason if you'd like. I recruit a lot of Watchmen, and since you're all going into the system in a few years, we're going to shadow a squad around the training grounds to see how it's done," Jason smiled in a friendly fashion at the skinny, some of them barely out of puberty boys. They were the next generation Watchmen, and he planned to set a good standard.
   "Um, sir?" A teen with styled brown hair raised his hand gingerly.
   Jason glanced around the group until he spotted the tall, wiry eighteen year old and nodded. "Yep? Wait... are you Jeremy Stone?"
   "Yes sir," Jeremy beamed proudly at being noticed.
   "Ah yes," Jason smiled back. "You were saying?"
    "Um, who will we be shadowing?"
   "An experienced Sargent for today with his squad," he answered patiently. "Anymore questions?" With no more raised hands, Jason asked, "Are we ready?"
   A ruckus of yes sir's followed with exuberant nodding from the teens.
   "Okay, follow me!"
   There was a pack of jubilant urchins ready to see the world awaiting them right behind Jason, following after him like puppies to their master. Jason showed them down the hall with a sign that read Main Training Room C in bold, dark lettering. Once inside the massive room, he lead the wide eyed boys to where a team was standing in formation with their Sargent.
   "Hey Graham!" Jason hollered at the tall Sargent, who turned from his cadets to the small troop.
   "I see you've got your Watchmen-to-be's," Sargent Graham noted with absolutely no expression on his face at all. Taking his height, piercing green eyes, and the serious way he held himself into consideration, he was quite an imposing figure.
   The other boys shrunk around him, but Jeremy stood tall above the others with a ready expression. He'd been waiting years for this opportunity.
   Graham immediately noticed him and made note of how he kept his cool. It was, after all, a very important quality in a Watchman. "My name is Sargent M.B.G., but you will call me Sargent Graham, or sir."
   All of the cadets nodded enthusiastically in return as he continued.
   "I've been a Watchman since I was 19 years old," Sargent Graham informed them sternly as he done on his squad's first day, "I've been on more missions than I care to count, and I've trained 17 squads and will train many more. And all of my trainees have passed, except two, in which occasion an unfortunate event occurred."
   The teens all gaped in awe at every word as if their lives depended on it. Mason smirked at their excited faces.
   But looking next to him, Conner was still catching his breath and had a look of pity. "We should tell them to get out while they still can," he suggested jokingly (hopefully).
   Mason just shrugged and kept listening. After he finished his welcome speech, Graham let the boys watch as the team went through various courses and hand-to-hand combat, which, of course, Mason was the winner of. Though he did kind of have an unfair advantage over the others, with his ability and all.

And there we have it! Since next Wednesday is Christmas Day, I shall not be posting the rest of the chapter until the Wednesday after Christmas, which would be the first of January, 2014! Awesome, no?
And again, my deepest apologies for not keeping up on my promise to write the special. I'm so sorry I couldn't keep up with it.

So the next half-chapter will include lots of Mason and Duke and the name of the chapter will be made clearer. But let me give you a little hint... it has something to do with the chapter cover.
Well, have a very merry Christmas, and a happy New Year!

Always Watching,