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Thread: The Passion of the Liger

  1. #21
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    Aug 2004

    Default Chapter 18

    Maruska lay in her bed. She had been laying there practically all day, feeling wretched, despondent and whatever other bad feeling you can think of. For so long now, all she had thought about was finding Anton, confronting him–and if need be–hurt him for leaving her. And now she had done all that, and she didn’t feel any better; in fact she felt worse. She’d known all along what she’d done was wrong, but like someone running down a steep hill, once she started, she couldn’t stop. She wanted to hurt the man that had hurt her.
    Maruska closed her eyes. A single tear dripped out of the corner and trickled down towards her ear; she didn’t even bother to wipe it away.
    Right now, she just wanted to sink into her bed and vanish.
    Her life was a mess, and sadly, she knew the only person to blame was herself. So many years filled with bitterness, anger and hatred.
    Half her life wasted.
    The friends she had grown up with, probably all had families, little children. Even the man she loved had a beautiful wife.
    And what did she have? Maruska had no one. All she had was twenty years worth of sad memories.
    No more.
    Maruska opened her eyes. She heard a whispering.
    No more. It stops today.
    It was coming from inside of her. Amid all the heavy, dark thoughts that filled her mind, was a pure, clear voice.
    Today it ends. Today you start your new life.
    Maruska didn’t move a muscle. She ignored everything else and just focussed on this voice.
    Every step you take from now on, will be towards a brighter future. It is the way to a charmed life.
    Maruska’s gut and instinct latched onto what the voice had said. She knew it was right. She had no idea where the voice came from, but she didn’t question it. She wiped away the tear that had dripped down to her ear.
    Yes, thought Maruska to herself, I will not waste another day of my life. Forget about Anton and everything in the past. A bright future is all I care about.
    She sat up and swung her legs over to the side of the bed. She paused. This was the moment. She could either lie back down and wallow in self pity, or she could stand up and immediately begin to fix her life.
    Maruska stood up.
    And then a feeling flowed through her; a feeling she had not felt in a very long time.
    It was hope.


    King Bastion skewered the shrimp on his fork and was about to put it into his mouth when-
    “Your Highness!”
    It was Lancaster, the oldest and most loyal servant of the royal household.
    “What is it, Lancaster?” said the King, a little grumpy as he was interrupted mid-bite.
    “’Tis Lady Maruska, she requests permission to speak to you.”
    The King nearly choked when he heard this. The one person he would drop anything for. Literally. He put his shrimp back down on the plate (which just showed how much he thought of Maruska. Because he was quite a big fan of shrimp).
    “Oh, yes of course!” said Bastion, “Ask her to come in immediately!”
    The King picked up a napkin and wiped his mouth, and ran his fingers through his whiskers and beard a few times to straighten it out.
    Lancaster bowed deeply and left the room. Moments later, in walked Maruska. Bastion thought she looked particularly stunning this evening.
    She approached the king and bowed her head respectfully.
    “I am sorry to interrupt your dinner, Your Highness, but I have something I need to tell you. I could not bear to wait and leave it any later.”
    Bastion gulped. This is it, he thought to himself. After twenty years she has finally caved in to my manly charm and going to tell me that she loves me. I knew my method of slowly chipping away at a woman’s resistance would pay off.
    “Bastion,” said Maruska, “I came here to thank you personally, for all that you have done for me.”
    She’s going to thank me personally, thought the King, Wow. I really would prefer somewhere more private, but well then, let’s not be too fussy.
    “I’m leaving Bastion,” said Maruska, “I plan to leave the castle tonight. You probably will never see me again. I just wanted to say thank you for all that you have done for me. I will never be able to repay you, but just know that I am eternally grateful.”
    Hmm, my stomach is still full, thought Bastion, And I probably should go close the door, I wouldn’t want any of the servants inter- WHAT DID SHE SAY?
    “Excuse me?” said Bastion.
    “I am leaving Castle Aerie, Bastion,” said Maruska.
    “But why?” said the King, “Are you not happy here? I can provide everything that you need! I am the King!”
    “I have thought much about this for the past few days,” said Maruska, “And I must do this, for myself. I want to go away. Somewhere far away, somewhere that doesn’t remind me of my past, or the choices that I’ve made. I want to start over. I fear that I have wasted my life. I don’t want to waste another day. Please understand, Bastion. I must leave.”
    “But, where will you go? Will I ever see you again?” said Bastion.
    “I don’t know where I will go,” said Maruska, “And perhaps we may encounter one another in the future, but my heart tells me this may be our final meeting.”
    “Final meeting?” said the King, “No! You can’t. I won’t allow it.”
    “I have made up my mind,” said Maruska, “Goodbye, my liege.” She curtsied and then turned to leave.
    “Stop!” he said, “As King of Tuscan, I order you to stop.”
    Maruska stopped but did not turn around. “That is not an order you can make.”
    “Maruska, I love you,” blurted out the King, “I will do anything if you would stay. Do you want to be the Queen? Stay and marry me, and be the Queen of Tuscan.”
    Maruska was silent for a moment. Then she turned around, stepped in close to Bastion and kissed him gently on the cheek.
    The King nearly fainted. All these years he had waited to feel her lips on his skin. She was so close he could smell her lovely perfume; it was intoxicating.
    “Bastion,” said Maruska, “I will always think fondly of you. But I do not love you, in the way that you want me to love you. I would not make a good wife, nor a good Queen. Farewell, my King. I will remember you fondly.”
    And with that she left the room, leaving the King standing there alone.
    Bastion stood there, motionless, just breathing; he didn’t want to leave that spot, because the air still smelled of his beloved, and that was all that he had left of her.
    Last edited by Thuaners; 10-23-11 at 06:29 PM.

  2. #22
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    Aug 2004

    Default Chapter 19

    Those eyes.
    Those piercing green eyes, that seemed to sparkle. Women generally swooned whenever he set his gaze on them. He could probably melt butter, or more realistically, hearts with those eyes.
    But Lena was not swooning or melting at the moment. She was just trying her best to act natural. And as anyone who has ever tried to act natural can tell you, it is a hard thing to do when you are trying.
    “So tell me, Madam Barkeep,” said the Conquistador, the owner of the green eyes, “Have you perchance seen a stranger enter your tavern tonight? He was wearing a red cloak.”
    Those eyes bored straight into her. His gaze was so intense she became hot and flustered. She wanted to look away, but couldn't. It was like she was being hypnotised. She felt like he was drawing out her soul just by looking at her. Like he had locked onto her somehow and could make her do his bidding. She felt a strong urge to tell him all he wanted to know. She opened her mouth to speak--to tell him Anton was downstairs--but stopped herself, using all the restraint she had.
    Then slowly and deliberately, she replied.
    "No. I have not."
    There was silence. Everyone in the tavern had stopped talking and was listening in.
    Lena looked up, and the Conquistador was still staring at her. His eyes were overwhelming, like twin emerald suns burning into her.
    "Are you certain?" he said.
    Lena knew that he was looking for signs that she was lying. She felt her face get hotter. Her whole body felt like it was heating up.
    "I am certain," she said firmly.
    The Conquistador said nothing. Finally, he smiled and said, "Very well then. Please do look out for this man. Report to the Royal Guard if you see or hear anything."
    "I will," said Lena.
    The Conquistador nodded at the soldiers who had accompanied him, and turned to leave. But before he did, he said one final thing to Lena.
    "I would like you know that anyone found aiding this stranger, or hiding his whereabouts, will be deemed an enemy of the King, and will be punished accordingly. Farewell, Madame Barkeep."
    He and the soldiers left the tavern.
    And everybody sighed with relief.
    Lena went over to a spare chair and sat down. That had been intense! Curse that fool Anton for coming back and putting her in this situation! And she was still mad at him!
    Penelope, the waitress, came over and said, "Are you alright, ma'am?"
    "I'm okay," said Lena, "I'm just glad they're gone. And that nobody in here blurted out anything about my friend."
    "That man in the red robes is your friend?" said Penelope.
    The word had slipped out of Lena's mouth without her even thinking about it. She pondered it for a while and then said, "I hate him at the moment, but yes, he is my friend."
    Penelope had a curious look on her face, as if she was thinking about something, but Lena didn't notice, she was too busy being relieved.
    "Free drinks for everyone all night!" Lena shouted suddenly, "For being such a good crowd!"
    The jolly patrons of the tavern all cheered.
    Lena turned to Penelope and said, "I need to go find my husband. Can you look after the tavern while I am gone?"
    'Yes'm," said Penelope.
    "Great," said Lena smiling and getting up, "Mr. Straud will be over the moon to see that oaf I have downstairs." She went behind the bar and grabbed her sword and then left the tavern.
    Penelope just stood there watching her boss leave, and continued to stand there for a fair while afterwards. She was currently mulling something over in her head, and in two minds about what to do next. Her heart wanted to do one thing, but her head, which always had been the much louder voice, wanted to do something else.
    Penelope sighed.
    She really had grown to love this tavern and her boss Lena.
    It was times like these that she wished that she wasn't a spy working for the King.

  3. #23
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    Aug 2004

    Default Chapter 20

    Along the northern wall of the Encumbered Adventurer Tavern was a dark alleyway. It was narrow; probably wide enough for two men to walk abreast. Somewhere in the blackness, a man lay tucked underneath a mound of thick, coarse blankets. He had wedged himself into the corner, between the wall and the ground, to help keep warm. Even after years sleeping on the streets of Firgenduke, he still liked to feel as snug as possible.
    The name of this hobo (or vagabond, as he preferred to call himself) was “Four-tooth”. The nickname was given to him by the locals, as he only had four teeth. Three on the top and one on the bottom. Well he used to have four teeth; sadly he’d lost a tooth earlier in the year biting into a scrumptious greenfeld apple and now only three remained; two at the top and one at the bottom. People still called him Four-tooth though, because it rolled off the tongue better.
    A few years back, Four-tooth was quite the nomad; travelling wherever he pleased, sleeping wherever he liked. This night under a bridge, that night on the rooftop of some tall building, overlooking the city.
    It all changed though, one night four years ago, when by chance he came upon a tavern called the Encumbered Adventurer. He spotted a woman on the ground outside the tavern, sitting with her back against the wall, smiling, and looking rather pleased with herself.
    Four-tooth became so curious he just had to ask:
    “Begging your pardon, milady, but what are you so happy about?”
    “When I was younger,” replied the woman, “All I wanted was to own a tavern and be married to a good man. And now, I just became owner of this tavern. I love this location, I love the patrons, I love everything about it.”
    “And a good man did you find?” Four-tooth had asked.
    “Aye,” she smiled, “He’s alright.”
    After living on the streets for so long, Four-tooth had become well aware of different types of people. Some were disgusted by him, looking upon him with disdain, crossing the road when he was near. A few openly abused him, shooing him away like he was a rat. The majority didn’t even see him, waking past him like he was invisible. But then every now and then, a person would come along, like a sunny day during winter, like the sultanas in a bowl of cereal. These rare people seemed to him to be almost glowing from within and with an energy about them that put him at ease. They spoke to Four-tooth the hobo as equals, with absolute sincerity. This woman was one of them, and he liked her immediately.
    “I’m Lena Straud,” said the woman.
    “They call me Four-tooth,” and he grinned to show her why.
    They spoke for hours that first night. He honestly couldn’t remember what they talked about, but he remembered it was good. He remebered at one point, the delicious aroma of food from within the tavern came wafting past his nose, and he couldn’t help but take in a longing sniff. Lena immediately went inside the tavern without a word, coming out later carrying a bowling of warm soup and a hunk of fresh bread. Four-tooth was not very knowledgeable about food, so he didn’t know what type of soup it was, but he remembered it tasted like heaven and he devoured every last drop.
    “It’s good to cook and see someone enjoying it so much,” Lena had said, chuckling.
    Later in the night, Lena asked if Four-tooth would like to stay the night inside the tavern, out of the cold, but Four-tooth had flatly refused. Even a homeless person can have their pride. He didn’t want to owe anyone anything.
    Instead he chose the alleyway next to the tavern. The plan was to sleep there and go somewhere else the next day. But sleeping there that first night, Four-tooth felt something he had not felt in a long time. In that cold, dark alleyway, with the big warm tavern next to him, it reminded him of being four years old again, sleeping in a room with your parents in the room next to yours. It was comforting.
    After so many years living alone by himself, Four-tooth finally felt like he had come home.
    Practically every night for the next four years, Four-tooth had slept in that alleyway. And tonight was no different.
    He wedged himself closer to the wall and pulled the blankets in tigher around him. Very soon, he would be asleep, floating in the lovely land of dreams…
    “The albatross is in the Eagles nest,” said a woman’s voice.
    Four-tooth’s eyes opened. Two people were talking in the street nearby.
    “I repeat, the albatross is in the Eagle’s nest,” said the woman once again. Four-tooth knew this voice. It was Penelope, one of the waittresses from the Encumbered Adventurer.
    “I have no idea what you are talking about,” replied a young boy, who’s voice Four-tooth did not recognise.
    “Don’t you understand the code?” said Penelope.
    “I’m new,” said the boy, “I started two days ago.”
    “Come closer,” said Penelope. She lowered her voice to a whisper, “The man that everyone is looking for, the man in the red cloak. He is inside this tavern. Inside a secret room downstairs.”
    “Righteous!” said a boy, “So I suppose you need a tough guy like me to go capture him? Sure! Let’s get in there and boogie.”
    “No, you fool,” said Penelope, “This is important! I need you to hurry back to the Castle and tell the Captain that the man they are looking for is here. Do you understand?”
    “Affirmative!” said the boy.
    “Good,” said Penelope, “Godspeed.”
    There was a pause.
    “It means go fast, run fast,” said Penelope, “Go!”
    And with that, the pair separated, Penelope returning to the tavern and the boy sprinting off in the direction of the castle.
    Four-tooth sighed.
    He was so cosy under his blankets. His body heat had warmed everything up just nicely. He was so close to being asleep.
    Oh well, he thought, these are the moments that define friendship.
    He flung off the blankets and rose, like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon. It was glorious! Anyone watching would have thought he was so cool.
    Then it hit him. It was cold!
    He jumped around like an angry monkey for a little bit and then stopped.
    But now was not the time to worry about warming up, he had something important to do, and every second was precious. He walked deeper into the alleyway. Finally he came upon what he was looking for; an iron manhole in the ground. Four-tooth pulled on it, just to check, but as expected, it was locked. Four-tooth took the silver key that hung on a chain around his neck and inserted it into the centre of the manhole. And turned.
    Four-tooth climbed into the darkness below, and replaced the cover above him. Once it was locked, he continued down the ladder, and prayed that what he was doing, would help rather than hinder his friend.

  4. #24
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    Aug 2004

    Default Chapter 21

    Clarence lay there on the cold stone floor, his arms and legs outstretched. He was in the Firgenduke library, which was an eight story tower made of stone and asphalt. It was unique for two reasons. One, it was built to enclose a giant seven and a half story stone obelisk, and two, because the top of the tower was a beautiful glass dome. A great spiral staircase coiled up the walls of the tower like a giant spring. Each of the seven floors above the ground level was shaped like a donut with a big hole in the middle to allow the tall stone to poke through. It was indeed a unique and beautiful building.
    But it was nighttime at the moment, and not much could be seen save for shadows and a few twinkles of starlight that could be seen through the glass roof.
    But tonight Clarence, Firgenduke's most popular and renowned artist, was not observing the tranquil beauty of the library. He had another more pressing concern on his mind.
    "Oh inspiration," he spoke up to the night, "Why hath thou forsaken me?"
    There was the sound of a page turning nearby.
    Seated next to Clarence was a girl her late teens. She was seated cross legged and had a little oil lantern next to her. She had a book open on the ground in front of her and seemed to be deeply engrossed in it. She had long blonde hair which she usually had up in a ponytail, but today she had let it down and it draped across her shoulders. She wore a distinctive red cape.
    "A little over dramatic don't you think?"
    "Over dramatic?" said Clarence, "Hardly. It has been nine months and I still haven't a clue what I'm supposed to do with this giant rock! I was supposed to sculpt it into something good. Something amazing. Something that would make us Firgendyke's proud. Something that people would travel from all over the map to visit. And what have I done in the last nine months?"
    "Nothing," said Skaife, eyes still glued on her book.
    "Exactly," said Clarence, "Nada. Zilch. Zero." He sighed. "I know what's wrong too. It's too much pressure. When I do my own paintings, drawings, sculptures, I'm just doing them for fun. And if they are terrible, what does it matter? It's only my name I would sully and I don't care about that. But this... this is big, and I don't just mean in size. This, everybody is watching. If it sucks then it affects all of Firgenduke! And it's not like a canvas where if I make a mistake I can just get another one. There is only one Firgenduke Obelisk. A stone that has been in Firgenduke for hundreds of years. What if I make a mistake?"
    Skaife dog-eared the page she was reading then closed the book.
    "Remember that time you were teaching that class in the library, the one where people could come in and practice painting or sculpting, and you gave them tips?"
    "Yes," said Clarence, "What about it?"
    "Remember that boy that told you he always had trouble sculpting, because he felt too indecisive about what to sculpt? That the pressure of chipping at the stone and not being able to take back mistakes was too much for him."
    "What did i say?" said Clarence.
    "You said a lot of things," said Skaife, "But the gist was, close your eyes, let the stone speak to you. Somewhere in that stone , it already knows what it wants to be. Its true, beautiful, flawed self. You need to quieten your mind and see it. And once you see it, all you need to do is chip away the bits of stone until all that's left is what it was meant to be."
    Clarence was quiet.
    "That sounds like something I would say." He sighed again. "Sometimes it's easier to give advice than to follow it yourself."
    He flicked his eyes up to look at the mighty monolith that towered above him. It felt like time stood still at that moment. The whole world was paused and the only thing that existed or mattered was him and this rock. And he knew it was his duty to make it what it was meant to be.
    And then he got a glimpse! It was like walking down the streets of your town and you catch the tiniest of tiny whiffs of a smell. A pleasant smell that somehow reminds you of your childhood. You don't know what it is, but you know that if you keep sniffing it, it will eventually come to you.
    "Skaife!" said Clarence excitedly, still with his eyes closed, "I think I'm getting it! I see a woman. She is beautiful. Looks rather like you actually. She has a serene, wise look about her. She is standing tall with great posture. She is looking down at something in her hands. It is an open book. She is reading this book. She is wearing a dress and a tiara. Oh, Skaife! I can see it! I must start sculpting now! Before I lose this image. Now is the time! Hook me up to the contraption!"
    Skaife was smiling gleefully. She put down her book and ran over to the metal box that was near the wall. It had levers and buttons and all manner of dials. She grabbed a leather harness that was lying on the box and brought it back over to Clarence, who had run over and put his toolbelt on. He had hammers and chisels and all sorts of arty-sculpty stuff on it.
    Skaife helped him put the harness on.
    "I wonder if this is safe?" said Skaife, tightening some straps.
    "The best engineers in Firgenduke made this contraption so I could sculpt this giant rock," said Clarence," I have absolute faith in them."
    Skaife smiled at Clarence. "You know you really are cool."
    Clarence chuckled and looked rather chuffed.
    Just then the door to the library opened, which was a real surprise as it was about midnight.
    "Sorry, we're closed," said Skaife.
    Clarence looked concerned. "I can't afford any distractions. I must sculpt it now before the image leaves my brain."
    They both looked over at the front door. Out of the shadows emerged a beautiful woman. Lena Straud. Clarence's wife.
    "Wifey!" said Clarence, "What are you doing here?"
    "I come with urgent news," said Lena.
    "Can't it wait?" said Clarence, "I've finally gotten an idea of what to sculpt. I have to do it now. I can't risk waiting and letting it fade from my brain. Right now I can literally see it in my imagination."
    "It's about Anton," said Lena.
    Clarence's eyes bulged. "What? Anton? What about Anton?""
    "He has returned," said Lena, "He is waiting in Four-tooth's secret room at the tavern. The King is looking for him. he came to ask for our help. We should go to him before they find him."
    Clarence couldn't believe it. His best friend, Anton DiManlen who he had not seen for twenty years had returned. Was this a dream? He looked up at the giant store, the one that an entire city had entrusted him to sculpt. He could see the image of the woman with the book inside the stone.
    "Wait for me," he whispered to the woman in the rock. Then he turned back to Lena, "Let's go."
    Skaife helped him take off his harness.
    "You'd better go home, Skaife," said Clarence, "I need to help my friend with something. If I have time, I'll come back to sculpt."
    "I'll be at home," said Skaife, "Swing by and grab me and Ill come help you."
    "Thanks," said Clarence.
    And with that, Clarence and Lena Straud left the library and began running back to the Encumbered Adventurer tavern as fast as they could.

  5. #25
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    Default Chapter 22

    In a quieter part of Firgenduke was a quaint, two storey cottage. A man with dark hair, a wispy goatee and an eyepatch stood on the balcony admiring the view. On a hill to his right was the imposing shadow of Castle Aerie. To his left, the beautiful, serene panorama that was Firgenduke at night; a stark contrast to the bustling, beehive of activity during the day.
    The man took a sip from the drink in his hand. The concoction was so delicious he drained the entire wineglass. He reached for the two bottles that he had left on the table beside him and poured himself another glass. Three parts Erbaherd red wine, one part freshly squeezed orange juice. His favourite mix.
    Suddenly he felt a presence beside him; a beautiful young lady with dark brown hair , who was wearing an alluring sheer white nightdress. She came in close and slithered her hands around his waist, resting her head on his shoulder.
    “Javier,” she said, “Why come stay at my house just to spend the night on the balcony? I know Firgenduke is pretty, but do you not think I am prettier?”
    “I’m waiting for a message from my men,” said Javier, “I want to hear word on the whereabouts of a particular man. A man who the King desperately wants arrested.”
    “It’s nighttime now,” said the girl, “You are off duty. Worry about this in the morning.”
    “I am the Captain of the Guards,” he said, “I am never off duty. You should know that by now, Gwendolyn.”
    The young lady, who was none other than Gwendolyn, of the infamous ‘Three Sisters’, looked at this leathery-skinned, stern man and couldn’t help but admire his dedication. She took the wine glass out of his hand and took a sip. She handed it back to him and turned to leave.
    “Well if you want me, I’ll be in my room,” she said.
    Just then, there was the sound of a horse approaching the house.
    “Captain Javier!”
    They looked down at the front gate and saw that it was one of the Tuscan Advance. He wore the maroon and gold uniform, meaning that he was one of Javier’s most trusted men.
    “You have news for me, Henry?” Javier called out.
    “Sorry to disturb you, sir,” said the guard, “The man in the red robes has been located. The tavern owner of the Encumbered Adventurer is hiding him in a secret room in the basement.”
    “Encumbered Adventurer,” muttered Javier, “I knew they could not be trusted.”
    “Shall I assemble a squad and bring him in?” said Henry.
    “No,” said Javier, “The King desperately wants this done. We will take no chances. Fetch Cronax. I don’t care where he is or what he is doing. Tell him it is the King’s orders to bring this man in.”
    “Cronax is receiving Raleva at the moment,” said Henry, “They are up in his training cave up in the mountains. He said specifically that he was not to be disturbed.”
    “Go to the mountains,” said Javier, “Tell him Javier wants him now. Tell him the Iron Snake has returned to Firgenduke, and now is his chance to test his steel. He will understand. Go now and godspeed”
    Henry nodded and then galloped off in the direction of the mountains.
    “Iron Snake?” said Gwendolyn, “Do you mean that this man the King is looking for is Anton DiManlen? The who Matisse himself could not defeat?”
    Javier nodded.
    “I will go fetch my sisters,” said Gwendolyn, “We will help you bring him in.”
    “Good,” said Javier, “We need all the help we can get.”
    Last edited by Thuaners; 02-20-13 at 03:10 AM.

  6. #26
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    Aug 2004

    Default Chapter 23

    Anton stood in the darkness. He had pulled the torch on the wall as Lena had suggested, and to his great surprise, part of the wall had lowered into the ground, revealing a secret room.

    Anton had entered and pulled on a metal lever inside the room, that he had correctly guessed would close the secret door.

    And then he had waited.

    He could hear muffled sounds from the tavern above. People talking, chairs scraping here and there. He could smell the food also. Cheese, meats, fried chips. It made him hungry. He had been in such a hurry to track down Maruska, that he had not stopped for a proper meal in days.

    Time passed and it was obvious Lena was not coming back anytime soon. Anton took time now to look around the small square room he was standing in. His eyes had become accustomed to the dark, and so he could see a bit better now. In the corner of the room was a mattress with some blankets neatly folded on top of it. Near the bed was a little wooden table that was no higher than Anton’s knee. There was a big, unlit candle on it, as well as two thick books.

    The most interesting thing in the room, however, was an iron door on the wall opposite to where the secret entrance was. Curiosity got the better of him and Anton went over and put his hand on the handle.

    The door was locked.

    Anton wondered what lay behind this door and why there was a secret room in Clarence and Lena’s tavern. Then, having nothing better to do, he went over to the mattress in the corner, lay down and wrapped himself in the blankets. It was a cozy room. It would have been a great place to sleep when the weather outside was bad.

    The smell of food from the tavern above, once again permeated his attention. His stomach growled and took over his thoughts. He wondered if the roast boar he had ordered had arrived yet. He wondered if they still made the roast boar as deliciously as they did twenty years ago.

    If you don’t go and eat it now, who knows when you‘ll get another chance? Maybe never! said a little voice inside Anton’s head.

    Oh dear, he thought to himself.

    That voice.

    It probably originated from his stomach, or a part of his brain that loved food. All he knew was that voice was powerful, and probably wouldn’t go away. It was better to do something about it now, rather than do nothing and put up with a constant craving for wild boar.

    Anton got up and went to the lever he assumed would open the secret door again.

    Part of him felt this was probably a bad idea. There was probably a good reason Lena had told him to wait here.

    But another part of him wanted to eat some hot, juicy, roast boar right now. With mint sauce.

    I’ll be quick, thought Anton. I’ll go eat the boar, then come back down here and wait for Lena.

    He nodded to himself, and pulled down on the lever.

    To his relief, once again, part of the wall lowered silently into the ground, and the smell of food hit him strongly in the face.

    He wiped a bit of drool from the corner of his mouth and headed upstairs.

    His stomach was pleased with his decision.

  7. #27
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    Default Chapter 24

    Henry had ridden his horse up the mountaintop. It was dark but there was just enough moonlight to half see. He had been up to Cronax’s training cave only once before, two or three years ago, but he was surprised to find he was able to find his way back purely from memory.
    He saw the dark craggy cave entrance before him and stopped his horse, Bethany, and tied her up to a sturdy tree. He approached the cave but his warrior senses told him that there was someone else around, outside in the surrounding forest. He drew his sword and began to circle around; so quiet it would have made a master thief proud.
    “Whoever you are,” called out a booming voice that seemed to resonate through Henry’s body, “Stay back. I am busy dueling a fool. Come any closer and you may die. You have been warned.”
    Henry recognized the voice. It was Cronax. He looked at where the voice was coming from, and sure enough, with his eyes accustomed to the night, he could see the big massive frame of the King’s Champion, complete with gigantic battle-axe drawn menacingly.
    “So I am a fool now?” called out another voice. This voice was smooth, like melted chocolate, and musical. But at the same time, it was none less powerful or confident than Cronax’s manly bellow. Henry tried to look around where this second voice was coming from. It seemed to be coming from everywhere at once. He couldn’t tell if the voice was coming from behind, above or inside his head.
    “If I am a fool,” continued the second, “What will that make you when I beat you with one hit?”
    “Ha!” said Cronax, “One hit? In your dreams Raleva.”
    Of course! thought Henry. It was Ravela! Raleva and Cronax comprised of two of The Five. The Five people almost unanimously regarded as the strongest, deadliest fighters in the known world.
    There was silence.
    Henry waited.
    A minute passed, but it felt like ten.
    Finally, Henry spoke.
    “Cronax, Javier has ordered me to summon you back to the castle.”
    “Tell, Javier he can sod off,” said Cronax, “I am busy.”
    “He told me to tell you that the Iron Snake has returned to Firgenduke,” said Henry.
    “What?” said Cronax. He seemed truly surprised.
    “Anton DiManlen has returned?” said Cronax.
    Just then, there was a blur that moved through the forest, across Henry’s view. It moved so fast, by the time Henry noticed it-
    -it was gone.
    Cronax’s body flew up into the air and he landed on his back, his giant battle axe spinning dangerously in the air and piercing itself into the ground at least ten feet away from him.
    “You disappoint me, Cronax,” came Raleva’s voice, “I win this round. Train harder next time. I feel cheated coming all this way to defeat you so easily.”
    “The only cheat is you, Raleva!” shouted Cronax, picking himself up and running to grab his axe, “I demand a rematch, and this time don’t wait until someone distracts me.”
    “Till we meet again,” came the voice, and then it was gone.
    Cronax rubbed his chest. There would be a terrible bruise there tomorrow, no doubt, but the biggest bruise at the moment was his ego.
    “I’m sorry,” said Henry.
    Cronax came over. “Oh, it’s you, Henry. Not to worry, it was my own fault for letting my guard down. Such a rookie mistake. But I must say I am disappointed. I had all these new moves I wanted to test out on that prick.” Then his voice got serious. “But is it really true? Anton DiManlen has returned?”
    “That is what I have been told,” said Henry.
    “Incredible,” said Cronax, “Perhaps tonight I will get a chance to test out my moves after all. Let us go.”
    He whistled, shrill and loudly in the night.
    A big white shape came flying out of the Cronax’s cave. It stopped in front of the two men.
    Henry shook his head. No matter how many times he saw it, it was still unbelievably cool.
    Yes, Cronax rode a giant white wolf.
    “Come, Blazer,” said Cronax, mounting up, “Let us go find us some Iron Snake.”

  8. #28
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    Default Chapter 25

    Maruska smiled.
    She had not felt this good for a long, long time. Having told Bastion that she was leaving, vocalising a desire that had been bubbling up inside her, scared and exhilarated her. But the ratio was not fifty-fifty. It was more along the lines of ten percent scared, ninety percent exhilarated. To know how she felt, one example would be if you had been reading a book slowly, and let’s imagine it is a very thick book. You don’t have much time to read it, but you stick with it and gradually work your way through it. And then finally, after years, you finally finish reading the last page. It is finished and now you have that amazing moment when you can relax, and get to choose what to read next. Or you don’t even have to read anything if you don’t want to. Well it was a little bit like that feeling. Only more complex, and it had feelings of abandonment by the love of your life intertwined with it. However you want to look at it, Maruska was feeling alive for the first time in decades.
    She had packed her essential belongings into a yellow cloth rucksack. Everything she needed in her new life was in there, and it wasn’t much.
    She looked on her table and there were three things on it. And now sadness seeped back into her. The three things were one, a big, well-worn spellbook. Two, a small purple velvet pouch, that was tied up with some golden string. And three, a letter that she had just finished writing. Maruska picked up the letter and read it again, just to make sure it said all that she wanted it to say.

    Dearest Fog,

    I want to start by saying that you are my favourite person in the world. Please know that I will never forget you, and my memories of the time we have spent together are most precious to me. As you are well aware, I have been sad for a very long time. And I realise that my pain and suffering is self inflicted. I have totally stuffed up my life. I want to have a fresh start. I don’t want any reminders of the past of my terrible mistakes. There is much that I regret. And so I have decided that I will leave tonight and go somewhere very far away. We may never meet again. This saddens me greatly. I wish you could come with me, I truly do. You are the one person on this planet that I wish could stay around me forever. But I know that it would be selfish for me to ask you to come with me. You have your own life and I don’t want you to waste your life following me around. I don’t even know what I will do with my own life. I might even go up to some mountains and life out the rest of my life alone. Who knows. And you might even want to come with me. But I will not allow it. You have your own life to lead. I will leave you my spellbook. I will not be needing it. It has only brought me suffering and with it, I have brought suffering upon others. Do what you want with the spellbook, it is yours now. If you do continue to learn magic, I hope that you do so with more wisdom than I did.
    I think that is all I wish to say. I intend to see you one last time, but please forgive me for what I will do. Please believe me when I say I do it believing it is in your best interest.


    Maruska folded the letter in half and put it in her pocket. She took her rucksack and the big spellbook. And finally, she grabbed the velvet pouch, and held it gently in her hand. Then she left her room, and made her way through the dark corridors. Eventually, she came upon a wooden door. She knocked firmly three times.
    It took a while, but finally someone came to the door. It was a teenage girl with black hair. She currently looked how people looked when they were woken in the middle of the night; tired looking eyes and face and messed up hair.
    “Master,” said Fog, “What’s up?”
    Maruska looked at her apprentice warmly. It wasn’t hard. She loved this little girl. She put down the big spellbook and then untied the little velvet pouch she had been carrying. She sprinkled out the contents onto the palm of her hand. It was a glittering pinkish powder. It smelled nice, like apricots.
    “What’s that?” said Fog.
    Maruska blew the powder gently from her hand and it went all over Fog in a sparkling dust cloud.
    Fog froze. She didn’t move, and she didn’t speak.
    “Please forgive me, Fog,” said Maruska, “You will be okay. The spell I’ve cast on you is harmless, except that you won’t be able to move for six or seven hours. I am leaving. I have explained it all in this letter. The spellbook is yours.”
    Maruska hugged Fog tenderly. Then moved Fog’s paralysed body into the room and placed the spellbook and her folded letter on Fog’s table.
    “Farewell, my student,” said Maruska, “May your life be full of joy and happiness.”
    And with that, she left the room and closed the door behind her.
    Fog stood motionless. A tear trickled down her cheek.

  9. #29
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    Default Chapter 26

    Anton sat in his cosy corner table at the tavern. In front of him was an entire roasted boar, with mint sauce. And not only that, next to the delectable dish was a big wooden tankard of fine Firgenduke Butterscotch mead. Despite the current situation, Anton, being a food lover, could not help but feel a little bit happier. Some foods could send him to heaven when he ate them, and Encumbered Adventurer Roast Boar was one of them. It had been over two decades since he had eaten it. He looked down at the knife and fork set neatly on the table in front of him, then gently pushed them aside; those utensils he would not be needing this fine night.
    He reached out one of his big hands and grabbed onto one of the boar's haunches, stabilised it with his other palm, and then tore it clean off. Oh, a bit of drool came out the corner of his mouth. He was salivating like a dog in front of a bone! He couldn’t help but smile as he wiped the saliva with the back of his hairy fist.
    The aroma of the meat —as soon as he caught a whiff of it— immediately transported him back to his childhood. His father used to read him stories about two warriors from a far away village. They were great friends and great fighters. Their favourite food had been roast boar! They loved it and ate entire boars the way ordinary people would eat an breadroll. In the stories they would often eat four or five roast boars and then sit back with a drowsy grin of contentment. That is where Anton’s love of boar started. Tied in with memories of that story, and memories of his dad.
    With his free hand, Anton picked up the wooden tankard and raised it.
    “To you, Pa. I love you,” he muttered quietly.
    He didn’t recall ever saying it to his father in life, but he hoped that his father had known how he had felt. He put the tankard to his lips and drank.
    It was good...
    And he continued to drink. Gulp after gulp. A lot of it spilled over the edges and dribbled down his beard and neck. He continued to scull it down. This butterscotch mead was amazing. As good as he had remembered!
    Finally, when he had drained the last drop, he slammed the tankard back on the table and burped. A long, loud, respectful burp to his father up in the sky.
    He sat there for a few moments, thoughts fondly and sadly on yesteryear, until eventually his mind eventually returned to the boar before him. It was time to eat before it got too cold. That would be a tragedy!
    He closed his eyes and opened his mouth and was about to take a bite when...
    Anton stopped mid bite and turned to look at who had spoken. Sitting at the table to his left was a rather scruffy looking man. The stranger had one distinctive feature about him; he was missing a lot of teeth!
    “Are you talking to me?” said Anton, hoping that he wasn’t, so that he could get back to the important matter of boar-eating.
    “Yes,” said the man, (who was none other than Four-tooth), “I’m sorry but you don’t know me, but I am a friend of Lena and Clarence.”
    Anton looked the man straight in the eyes. His instincts told him him this man could be trusted.
    “I don’t have much time to explain,” said Four-tooth, in a low voice, “But currently, the king’s guards are on their way here, to this very tavern! And they mean to capture you.”
    “Let them come,” said Anton, “I need to finish eating this boar. It has been two decades since I’ve had this. I have been waiting two decades to eat it.”
    Anton looked at Four-tooth who didn’t seem to appreciate how important this was.
    “Two decades!” sand Anton one more time, just to make sure Four-tooth had heard him.
    “We need to leave now,” said Four-tooth, “If you are caught here, you will get Lena and Clarence in trouble also! If it can be proven that they are helping you, they could be arrested as well. There is a spy who works in this tavern.”
    Anton’s face became grim. He put down the boar haunch without another word.
    “If that is the case, let’s go then.”
    Four-tooth was a bit shocked. That had been much easier than he had been expecting. He nodded and then got up and then began to walk towards the tavern exit.
    Anton got up also and followed, but not before he turned to look at the glorious roast boar sitting on the silver plate, just begging to be eaten.
    I will not have the pleasure of eating you, sadly, thought Anton, using telepathy to speak to the roast boar, But know that I would have loved every bite of you. Farewell.

  10. #30
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    Default Chapter 27

    Sitting out the front of the Encumbered Adventurer Tavern were two men, huddled up in rough, warm blankets. One was Four-tooth and the other, was his new friend, Anton.
    “Can I ask,” said Anton, “If its so important for me not to get captured by the King’s men and implicating Lena and Clarence, why am I sitting in plain sight just outside their tavern?”
    Four-tooth looked at Anton and said in a sagely voice, “In plain sight is the last place they’ll think to look. Sitting here as bums, we are basically invisible. Trust me, I’ve been observing human nature for years.” For added impact, he tapped the side of his nose with his forefinger.
    Just then, came the sound of many horses approaching.
    “Brace yourself,” said Four-tooth, “The kettle is about to boil.”
    About a dozen or so men on horseback stopped in front of the tavern. Anton noticed that they were wearing maroon and gold uniforms, which meant they were all elite soldiers of the King. Each would be a formidable opponent if swords were crossed.
    Then a fancy looking carriage of purple and black rolled up, pulled by two grey horses. The driver of the carriage hopped down and opened the door. An elegant young lady emerged. She had a mane of red hair and wore a long, silky emerald green dress, which sparkled in the moonlight. Anton noticed she carried a longsword at her side.
    “That’s Abigail!” whispered Four-tooth, “One of the Three Sisters. We’re in trouble if they’re getting involved.”
    The next person to come out was another young lady; this lass had blonde hair and wore a sleek, green robe. She carried a golden staff that had a blue jewel at its head.
    ‘It’s Arisa!” said Four-tooth, “Another of the Three Sisters!”
    “Who are the Three Sisters?” said Anton quietly.
    “Three girls who took an oath of sisterhood,” said Four-tooth, “They are among the top fighters in the Realm. Gwendolyn, the eldest sister, was previously the most deadly assassin in the Shadows Guild.”
    Out stepped a third young lady with dark brown hair. She wore light green leather armour, and had a long dagger at either hip.
    “Let me guess,” said Anton, “That’s Gwendolyn, of the Three Sisters.”
    “Aye,” mumbled Four-tooth.
    Anton observed these three girls. There was no doubt they were formidable fighters. He could just tell.
    And then one last person stepped out of the carriage. This time it was a man Anton recognised. He had a wispy goatee, an eyepatch over his left eye, and a stern looking face.
    “Javier!” mumbled Anton and Four-tooth at the same time.
    “You know him?” said Four-tooth.
    “Yes,” said Anton, “From a long time ago. He didn’t like me very much back then. I hope he’s forgotten me.”
    Javier spoke to the soliders present. “Surround the building. No one goes in or out until our business here is done.” He looked at the Three Sisters and said, “Come. We have an Anton DiManlen to catch.”
    The four of them entered the tavern.
    The King’s soldiers dismounted and formed a very intimidating looking barrier around the tavern. All of them either ignored or didn’t notice the two homeless who were huddled up against the wall, pretending to be asleep.

  11. #31
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    Default Chapter 28

    Anton and Four-tooth sat quietly outside the tavern, blankets wrapped around themselves, covering their faces. Standing around them was a line of the King’s elite maroon and gold soldiers. They were all standing there absolutely still. Except for one guy on the far right, who was practicing tricks with a yoyo. He had mastered simple up and down and now was trying ‘Walk the Dog’, but with very little success so far.
    Anton had observed this soldier for a few minutes, but soon went back to his own, more pressing thoughts. Such as:
    Maruska. I need to see Maruska.
    Seeing her a few weeks ago had been incredible. He never expected to see her again in this lifetime. She was still beautiful, and his love for her had resurfaced again so powerfully, like a dormant volcano erupting. And being back in Firgenduke was giving him massive nostalgia. He remembered walking down this street with her, holding her hand. He remembered lying under that tree over there with her, looking up at the sky through the treetops, his head resting on her stomach like a pillow. Yes, it was true she had done something terrible to Ginessa, but Anton didn’t blame her for that. He blamed himself. He let his thoughts drift, flitting between happy memories, sad memories, traumatic memories and the present.
    Suddenly, a shiver went down his spine and he felt adrenaline or butterflies explode in his stomach and his entire body felt electrified. There was the rhythmic sound of someone skipping down the street, together with a familiar voice humming a tune. Anton didn’t even need to look to know who it was coming down the street.
    “Lady Maruska,” said one of the soldiers (whose name was Ebadeb), “Greetings, Milady. What brings you out on this fine Firgenduke night?”
    “It is a fine night isn’t it?” said Maruska. She twirled around and her robes splayed out like a flower in bloom. She giggled, then said, “Is Lena or Clarence inside?”
    Ebadeb said nothing for a moment, so stunned was he at seeing her giggle. He had never seen her giggle or chuckle before. He had see her smirk once, four years ago when a clumsy guard had slipped on a banana peel in the courtyard.
    Maruska waved her hand in front of his face playfully.
    “Oh, sorry,” said Ebadeb. “I don’t know if Lena or Clarence are inside.”
    “That’s okay,” said Maruska, “I’ll just go inside and see if they are in.”
    “I’m sorry, milady,” said the soldier, “We are under strict orders from Javier not to let anybody in or out of the tavern.” Then he whispered, “We’re in the process of capturing someone wanted by the King.”
    “Who?” whispered Maruska.
    “It’s a secret,” whispered the soldier.
    Maruska nodded slowly and then said, “Very well then. Please do me a favour and inform Lena or Clarence that I stopped by to say goodbye. And that I’ll be at the docks tonight if they want to see me. And I want you to tell Lena that she is very dear to me. And tell Clarence he’s alright.”
    And with that, Maruska walked off down the street. After a few steps, she once again began skipping and humming, as carefree as a child.
    Anton, meanwhile was completely stunned that Maruska had just walked past him! He had just been thinking about her, and then she just appeared! Oh, and she looked so beautiful tonight! As beautiful tonight as she had ever been. The sourness and anger he had witnessed when speaking to her last seemed to have lifted from her being. He went to stand up, but Four-tooth instinctively yanked him down and said, “What are you doing?”
    “Maruska is who I came to see,” said Anton, “I have speak to her.”
    “Are you crazy?” whispered Four-tooth, “Javier and his men are right here! They are looking for you! Let’s wait and try to sneak out to the docks before sunrise.”
    Anton shook his head, “I can’t risk missing her. My wife’s life depends on it.”
    And with that, he stood up, stretched a bit and with a flick of his arms, shedded the blankets that had thus far concealed him.
    There now stood a bear of a man, with a blood-red hooded robe. All the soldiers now saw him now, as if for the first time. It was as if he had just appeared out of thin air. Even the soldier practicing his yoyo stopped and looked.
    Anton strode calmly past them. Perhaps because he was so relaxed and fearless, none of the soldiers thought to capture him. They just watched him, unsure if he was the man they were looking for.
    “Maruska,” said Anton.
    The fair red-headed maiden, who was joyfully skipping down the road, froze.
    Then she turned around.
    Urgh, thought Anton to himself, as if he just got punched in the chest, She’s too beautiful.
    Indeed, in the moonlight of Firgenduke, the very same moonlight he had gazed upon her many years ago, she looked once again like the Maruska he’d loved.
    He walked up to her and without even thinking, took both her cool, delicate hands in his and stepped in close to her.
    (By this stage, all the soldiers and Four-tooth were mesmerised. All thoughts of capture were gone and they were transfixed on the scenes unfolding in front of them.)
    Maruska looked into Anton’s eyes, unblinking.
    “Anton…” she said.
    Anton would have loved to wrap his arms around her, but a strange feeling inside him he had to do something more important. He went down on one knee. Then it occurred to him, that this might confuse Maruska and make her think he was proposing to her, so he put down the other leg too, so now he was kneeling on both knees.
    “I came to Firgenduke,” he said, “To beg you to please cure my wife, Ginessa.”
    It went all quiet.
    As Anton looked up at the beautiful Maruska, with the Firgenduke starry night sky as a backdrop for her head, he could see her heart being crushed once again. Once again, by him. Her fingers withdrew from his hands; they slithered out like cold snakes. Anton saw a tear drip off her cheek, illuminated by the moon.
    Just then, there was a mood breaker.
    The door to the tavern opened.
    “And then we ate the canteloupe and I said to the guy, that’s why you can’t elope!”
    It was Javier, followed by the Three Sisters.
    “Men!” said Javier, “It seems our prey has slipped through our fingers! We must find him or the King will have our heads! Two of you, go back inside the tavern and search it more thoroughly. We are looking for a big man, with a red robe. The rest of you, we will split up. Look for him. If you see Lena or Clarence, I want them arrested for helping a man wanted by the King! And I told you Frank to stop playing with your yoyo on duty! It makes us look unprofressional!”
    One of the Three Sisters, the blonde named Arisa, tapped Javier on the shoulder and said, “What did you say Anton was wearing again?”
    “A blood-red robe,” said Javier, “Why?”
    “You mean a bit like that?” she pointed to Anton, who was standing before Lady Maruska.
    “Yes, yes, exactly that colour,” said Javier, “Now men! Let’s split up and oh my gosh he is standing right there. That’s him. Yes it definitely is.”
    Anton now went down on his hands and knees and pleaded to Maruska once again. “Please, Maruska. You can do anything you want to me. But please help me cure my wife.”
    Javier came to his senses.
    “What are you waiting for men! Capture him! Swarm! Surround him! Flank him! Do not let him escape!”
    Last edited by Thuaners; 03-07-14 at 09:22 PM.

  12. #32
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    Default Chapter 29

    Four-tooth saw that his new friend was in trouble, so he instantly and instinctively got up and ran towards where the action was. He had never been the strongest or the most skilful in a fight, but he always helped a friend in need. By the time he reached the escalating confrontation, the honour guard had done some impressive manoeuvring and had somehow surrounded Anton, whilst keeping Maruska out of the circle of imminent harm; a bit like separating the yolk from the egg white.
    The leader of the Honour Guard, a rough looking man with a scar that ran down his left cheek spoke.
    “Greetings, my name is Stilton. We are the Tuscan Honour Guard.”
    “Hurry up and capture him!” said Javier.
    “Fine,” said Stilton, “You are under arrest. Surrender and come peacefully and we will do you no harm.”
    “I will not surrender,” said Anton, “I am here to save my wife. I have no quarrel with you, so please-“
    “Hurry up!” interrupted Javier.
    “Hey! You’re not the boss of me!” said Anton, “Anyway, I will not be surrendering, I do not have time to be captured. I would advise you all to put down your weapons and stay out of this.”
    “You leave me no choice,” said Stilton, “Men! Hap-Sing Attack Number Eight!”
    The Honour Guard all began to move, except for one; his name was Grotto.
    “Wait! Wait!” said Grotto, “Which one was that again?”
    “The one where we all twirl around and then Gary does the cool leapfrogging thing over Benson’s back and you run underneath Tindamere’s legs and do a roundhouse kick to Anton’s face,” said Stilton.
    “I can’t do that one, I haven’t practiced it enough yet,” said Grotto.
    “You are an Honour Guard! You should know this! This is embarrassing!” said Stilton.
    “I’ve only been an Honour Guard for two days! Can we do an attack that I know?”
    “How about the Blazing Tornado attack?”
    “I don’t know that one either,” said Grotto.
    “Thunder number two?”
    Grotto shook his head.
    “So which attacks do you actually know?” said Stilton.
    “I know Basic Attack Number One. Basic Attack Number Two, I could do in a pinch.”
    Stilton sighed and said, “Okay, Basic Attack Number One guys!”
    The Honour Guard charged at Anton.
    Anton spun around once and with a flurry of kicks, sent Honour Guard tumbling backwards into the ones behind them, a bit like a strike in ten pin bowling.
    Well, almost a strike.
    There was one Honour Guard left standing; The one with the yo-yo
    He stared at Anton coolly. He began to whirl his yo-yo around in a wide arc.
    “Prepare thyself, for you will be the very first opponent I fight for real with my revolutionary yo-yo-fu.” He looked at the yo-yo spinning in a circle.
    “Revolutionary…” and he winked at Anton, “Get it? Oh, I love puns. Anyway You will go down in history, But first, well you will just GO DOWN!”
    Frank swung his arm back and then quickly flicked it forward.
    Anton watched as the yo-yo flew around in a circle, came back and hit the Frank in the head, knocking him out in the process.
    Now all the Honour Guard were on the ground. A bit like getting a spare in bowling.
    “I guess you don’t need my help,” said Four-tooth, who had been standing nearby.
    “It seems to be under control for the time being,” said Anton, “But thank you.”
    Javier was trembling with rage now. This Anton had made his best men look like fools!
    “Gwendolyn!” he barked, “I need you and your sisters to apprehend this man!”
    Gwendolyn nodded, and then her two sisters fanned out from behind her and now the trio stood side by side.
    “My name is Gwendolyn and these are my two sisters, Abigail and Arisa.”
    “A pleasure to meet you. I am Anton DiManlen. I have no wish to fight you.”
    “That’s too bad,” said Gwendolyn, “Because we wish to fight you.”
    Last edited by Thuaners; 09-27-14 at 10:26 PM.

  13. #33
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    Miami and sometimes Bentre


    Thanks Thuaners

  14. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anh Nam View Post
    Thanks Thuaners
    you're welcome!

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    Default Chapter 30

    "Anton DiManlen," said Gwendolyn, "So finally the day arrives when I get to face the infamous Iron Snake.  We shall see if the Three Sisters can defeat the man who defeated the King's Champion."

    "I have no quarrel with you," said Anton, "It is best you back away now, or else please pardon my impoliteness."

    Gwendolyn laughed.  Without turning to look at her two sisters, she merely said one word.


    Like lightning from a thundercloud, Arisa and Abigail shot forward.

    Anton saw a blade, the longsword, coming towards him, so he cartwheeled out of the way.
    It had begun.

    The next few moments were a blur.  Anton was moving on pure instinct and reflexes.  Dodging this, stepping here, stepping there.  He knew he would need a weapon to fight these girls, so he dashed over to a sword that was lying on the ground near one of the defeated Honour Guard.


    He had picked up the sword just in time to block a ferocious attack from Abigail and then back flipped to avoid another strike from Arisa's spinning staff.

    Then he saw a shadow appear above and he rolled to the side, just as Gwendolyn landed where he'd been standing, both her daggers slashing down through the air like a pair of snake's fangs.

    "You move pretty quick," said Gwendolyn, "For an old man."

    "You fight pretty well," said Anton, "For a babe."

    The Three Sisters slowed down to a pause; Gwendolyn raising her eyebrow at that comment.

    "I mean babe as in 'young'," said Anton, "Not as in 'hot'."

    "Ah," said Gwendolyn.

    "Although you girls are all fairly attractive," said Anton.

    The four combatants looked at each other, not quite sure where to take this next.

    Maruska cleared her throat and then said, "Anton, I just want you to know, I am leaving now.  I have wasted far too much time thinking about you and plotting against you.  I need to start living my life.  A life without you in it.  Goodbye."

    And with that, Maruska turned and began walking away, in a slow, melodramatic, deliberate pace.  It was nighttime, so she couldn't walk off into the sunset, but had it been about that time, she surely would have headed off in that direction.

    "Maruska, no!" said Anton, "You must help me cure Ginessa! Please!"

    He began to run after her but this momentary distraction caused him to lower his guard for a split second.  Which was just enough time for Arisa to...

    "Anton!" shouted Four-tooth, "Watch out!"

    But it was too late.

    Arisa of the Three Sisters was a master of needle throwing.  In a single swift movement she had pulled out three poison needles from her belt and flicked them towards Anton.  All three of them struck him in the back of the neck.

    Anton stopped suddenly.  It felt like he had been bitten by something.  A tingling sensation spread from his neck and travelled throughout his entire body.  He began feeling weak, and his body went numb and he fell to the ground, unconscious.

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    Default Chapter 31

    Clarence and Lena were sprinting down Morenak road, one of the main food streets of Firgenduke when Clarence suddenly screeched to a halt.
    “Lena,” he said, “Two for one donuts at Olympic Donuts!”
    “Clarence, we don’t have time,” said Lena, “We should hurry. Anton seemed like he needed our help urgently.”
    “It’s donuts, Lena! Anton will understand. I’ll get him one as well!”
    “Plus,” said Lena, “It’s not totally safe for him. Those soldiers could come back snooping again.”
    “It’ll only take a few minutes,” said Clarence, “Think of that hot jam pumped into those warm crispy donut balls! And rolled lovingly and lavishly in that sugar. Mmmmm…”
    Lena wiped off a bit of drool from the corner of her mouth.
    “Okay then, but be quick!”
    “That’s my, girl!” said Clarence, and he kissed her on the cheek and then practically skipped into the little donut shop, barely able to contain his excitement.
    Lena turned when she heard her name, and saw Four-tooth running towards her. He looked exhausted!
    “Thank the Gods I found you!” he said as he pulled up beside her.
    “Four-tooth!” said Lena, “What’s wrong?”
    “It’s your friend, Anton! He has been captured by Javier! They are taking him back to the castle!”
    Lena felt like the ground was crumbling underneath her.
    “What did you say?” said Clarence, who had overheard Four-tooth from inside the donut shop. He grabbed Four-tooth’s shoulders and said, “What did you say happened to Anton?”
    “Javier came!” said Four-tooth, “With the Honour Guard and the Three Sisters! Anton got poisoned and he went unconscious. They are taking him back to the castle now in Javier’s carriage!”
    “I have to rescue him before he reaches the castle!” said Clarence. He ran back inside the donut shop and threw some money on the counter.
    “Here’s the money! You can keep the donuts! My friend is in trouble and I have to go!”
    Clarence bolted outside and said, “I am going to rescue Anton.” He grabbed Lena and kissed her deeply. He knew it was no laughing matter to go against the King. “I love you. Wish me luck!”
    “I will do one better than that,” said Lena, “I’m going with you.”
    “No!” said Clarence, “Anton is my friend. I don’t want to involve you.”
    “You should have thought of that before you proposed to me,” said Lena, “Where you go, I go.”
    Clarence looked at his beautiul wife and saw in her eyes that she was prepared to go into the very depths of Hell with him. His heart nearly burst with love.
    He nodded, “Let’s go then.” He turned to Four-tooth and said, “Thank you so much. Hopefully we meet again. If not, it was great knowing you.”
    Four-tooth shook his head, “I’m going with you too. You guys are like my family. I won’t stand by and let you do this on your own.”
    Clarence saw the same determination in Four-tooth’s eyes. He placed his hand on Four-tooth’s shoulder, “You’re a good man. Well now, we must make haste! I’m planning on cutting through the garden and swimming across the river. It’s the fastest way to the castle. Let’s move!”
    Lena and Four-tooth nodded at the wild plan and the three of them bolted off.
    Inside the donut shop, the old man at the counter said to his wife, “In all the years that I’ve been serving that Clarence, I never thought I would see him leave his donuts behind for anything.”
    “Aye,” said his wife, “It’s a beautiful thing, what he just did. Anywho, shall we eat these donuts he’s left behind?”
    “Yes,” said the old man, “It would be a shame to waste them.”
    He picked up one of the freshly made donut balls and took a bite. It sent him to heaven!
    “Oh, these are so good,” he said, “And here, look. Some jam dripped onto my pants and I don’t even care, because these are so delicious!”

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    Default Chapter 32

    In front of the backdrop that was the starry night sky, was the darker than dark silhouette of the castle on the hill: Castle Aerie, home of King Bastion, ruler of Tuscan.
    Lena gazed up at it and couldn’t help but feel an aura of calm majesty radiating from the stone. The castle had stood there for over two hundred years. How great they were, these builders from long ago.
    The wind blew across her body and she felt cold, dripping wet as she was. She had just swum across the Anduin river, which snaked along the western side of the castle.
    Lena turned to look where the sound was coming from. And then she saw them! Clarence and Four-tooth tumbled out of the water and collapsed onto the grassy bank. Clarence rolled onto his back, sprawled out spread eagled.
    “I guess you guys haven’t swum in a while!” said Lena.
    “Clarence,” said Four-tooth inbetween gasps, “Saved my life! I ran out of steam and was drowning! He came and grabbed me.” He turned his head to look at Clarence, “Thank you.”
    “It’s nothing,” said Clarence, still huffing and puffing, “I’m just glad we made it. It felt like we weren’t even moving back there!”
    Lena smiled at her husband the hero. But then something else caught her attention. She saw some movement along the road that lead to the castle.
    “Clarence,” she said, “Get up. It’s here. Javier’s carriage approaches!”
    Despite feeling dead tired, Clarence whipped himself up. In the pale moonlight he could see it too. A fancy looking carriage being pulled by two grey horses. It would be passing them in moments.
    “We need to intercept it before it reaches the castle!” he said.
    “Are we really doing this, Clarence?” said Lena, “Once we do this, there is no going back.”
    “I will not stand by and let my friend get captured.”
    “Okay,” said Lena, “I’m with you. Through thick or thin, I am by your side.”
    Clarence looked at his beautiful wife, love welling up inside him.
    “Aw, guys,” said Four-tooth, “You guys did this already!”
    Clarence brushed Lena’s wet hair back and pulled her in towards him and kissed her deeply.
    Four-tooth sighed and forced himself to stand up.
    “Ahem,” he said, “I hate to interrupt this touching moment, but the carriage is nearly here. What’s your plan, Clarence?”
    Clarence pulled away from Lena and said, “I didn’t really think that far ahead. I don’t really have a plan! We don’t have time. I’m just going to rush this carriage and see what happens! Are you guys ready?”
    “Ready, my love,” said Lena.
    “Aye,” said Four-tooth, “Let’s do this!”
    The three of them charged at the carriage, which was due to pass them in mere seconds.
    Four-tooth, who was still exhausted his swim across the Anduin, was now sprinting as fast as he could, directly at the fast moving carriage. He knew he only had one shot at this.
    Make it count, he thought to himself, For Lena and Clarence, do it!

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