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I’ve played Dungeons & Dragons for thirty five years. Mostly being a gamer has not been a problem for me, but even before I became a gamer, I had a problem, and being a gamer only made that problem worse.
I have a problem. It is sort of a serious problem, a little debilitating, in truth, but if you don’t mind I’d like to work through this problem with you. You see, I write stories.
I write a lot. And, unfortunately, I do not write very well. Not only is it true that I do not write very well, but the stories I write are not very interesting to very many people. I have two novels out, they are not well known, and of poor quality (self published things I did just to see if I could do it, I make no claim to their value as novels). But let me get to the point. I cannot, not write stories. It is a kind of compulsion. I write every day, thousands of words, and most of it I throw away. But I won’t say I love to write, in a way I do, but in a bigger way I don’t. Because it is hard to be the kind of person who feels compelled to do a thing, only to be reminded all of the time that you do not do that thing very well. I should quit, I know, but I can’t. And who knows? Maybe someday I will improve, maybe, someday.
But I wrote the beginning of a new novel, and I want to share it with you. I hope you like it. It is a story of a group of people who play Pathfinder, who decide to do something braver than any of them ever thought they could ever do.
If you read this part of this story and like it, or don’t like, or have some suggestions about how it could be better, or just want to say there is something you like about it, or don’t like about it, please let me know. I’ve tried writing a story here before, in the forum games section, but it didn’t attract very many readers. I think I understand the risks associated with putting something out there, for criticism, review, or even most likely, being ignored, but this is the problem I have. I write. And I just want someone to read what I’ve written, and tell me anything about it all, good, bad, indifferent, I just want to share it with people.
“What Makes the Dawn Come Up Like Thunder” – A Novel
© D H Austin 2012
The regular gaming group had been broken.
Originally, there were five of us and we were all about the same age, except for our Game Master Paul, who was older than the rest of us. Paul was really old, almost forty, and he taught at the community college in town, during the week, but on the weekends he ran games at Bartleby’s, a game store near our high school. There was, in the group, me, my best friend Eddy, Karen, the girl Eddy was dating, Danny, a friend of Karen’s, and Mark. We played lots of different kinds of games together, board games, card games, but our favorite was Pathfinder, which is a sort of fantasy game that I think used to be called Dungeons and Dragons, or something like that.
We played a game in which each of us created a character, a kind of fantasy hero from a video game. Paul would act like a referee, telling us what the world was like, and guiding us through dungeons and temples where we fought monsters and dragons and earned levels, which meant our characters became more powerful and were harder to kill off. The game was a lot of fun, and we played almost every Saturday afternoon for months. Then Eddy and Karen had a fight, and Danny got a job, and it became harder for us all to get together and play. Then we graduated. My parents were hoping I would get accepted to a university on the other side of the state, but I didn’t. I did get accepted to the local state university, my father thought it was a bad school, but my mom said she was proud that I got in, and that I got at least a few scholarships. The summer after our graduation seemed to go by so fast. We kept trying to get together and play on Saturdays, but with Eddy and Karen broken up, we couldn’t figure out how they could both play, and they both wanted to play, and it got kind of bad when they each tried to get the rest of us to kick the other one out. By the end of July, they had both just decided to stop coming.
And then the worst thing happened. Paul told us he was leaving town. He said he had had a lot of fun running the game for us, but that he had taken an offer to teach at a big school a hundred miles away, and he would miss all of us and would try to keep in touch and maybe come visit during breaks at school. Paul told us that anyone of us could try being a Game Master for our group, but I didn’t think I could do it, Mark didn’t want to do it, and Danny said he would try, but really Mark and I knew he would suck at it. Danny was never my friend, and he was only in our group because he knew Karen, and with Karen gone, it seemed weird that he kept hanging around.
A few weeks went by. School was about to start, and I kind of thought that I wouldn’t be playing that kind of game ever again. I went to the game store on a Saturday, two weeks before classes were supposed to start, and I saw Mark there. He was playing in a tournament, a collectible card game, and during a break in the rounds he told me something funny.
“My step sister moved in with us this summer,” Mark said. “She was kind of weirded out at first, I think she expected my mom to treat her kind of bad, but they are getting along okay, but I found out she knows about Pathfinder.”
“Okay,” I said. “So what does that have to do with anything?”
“I started talking to her about our game, and about how Paul ran that one adventure on those islands, and how much fun we had, and she told me it sounded like fun but that she didn’t really know how to play. So I gave her my books, a couple of weeks ago, and she read all of them in just a few days, and,” Mark kind of paused, and looked down.
“And?” I asked, but I had a feeling I knew what he was going to say, “You want me to try and run a game for you guys, right?”
“No, actually,” Mark said, with a funny look on his face, “She wants to try being a Game Master and run a game for us.”
“What? How old is she?”
“She’s almost seventeen. She’s really smart, and kind of shy, so I thought it was funny that she wanted to try, but then she showed me this really big spiral notebook she has and it is full of poems and stories about a world she calls, Uronima. I read some of it, before she took it away from me, and she has a lot of really great ideas.”
“I don’t know Mark,” I said. And then I started feeling kind of bad, because, well let me tell you why and I think it might make you think I’m kind of a jerk.
Mark is a real big guy, really heavy, okay fat, and even though I’ve always liked Mark, it always made me uncomfortable to be around him. You know that way people are, sometimes, when they are around overweight people? How some people just avoid someone who is big, without even giving them a chance, well, I was one of those people, a lot, before I met Mark, and getting to know him had opened my eyes to how I was always being unfair to people like him. So I thought, after knowing Mark for as long as I did, that I would not be like that anymore, but for some reason, as soon as Mark had said he had a step-sister living with him, I don’t know why, I imagine a girl a lot like him, and immediately thought I didn’t want to hang around with a fat girl. I thought that, and then knew I was stupid for feeling that way, and now, standing right in front of him, I was very embarrassed for what I thought.
And then I said something stupid without thinking about it. I couldn’t stop myself, it just sort of came out, “What does your step sister look like?”
“What?” Mark asked.
“Um, nothing, forget I asked,” I said. “I don’t know what it would be like to play with someone who’s never played before. Who else could we get to play, I mean, I guess we could try it.” I felt bad, stupid, and now I was trying to make up for my mistake.
“She has a friend, named Tony, and he, I suppose, wants to play, and you could call Danny and Eddy to see what they are doing tonight. I could call her and tell her to come down here in about two hours. We could create characters and give it a shot. What do you think?”
A couple of hours went by, in a blur, I don’t even remember calling Danny and Eddy, and I was sitting at a long brown table in the game store, with some of our old group, waiting for Mark’s sister to arrive.
Eddy had really changed. We had been best friends since junior high, and he and I were a lot alike, both of us were tall and skinny, with straight blond-brown hair. We tended to buy the same kinds of clothes, even sometimes getting the same shirts from teefury or riptapparel. I hadn’t seen Eddy for a couple of months, and he had really changed. He had cut his hair, cropped it all almost completely off, and he had started working out. He was like some guy going into the Marines or something. His arms had gotten huge, and even through his tee shirt you could tell he had a six pack. And his face had changed as well. Eddy didn’t look like a high school kid anymore, and I did. Eddy looked like a grown up.
Danny, on the other hand, hadn’t changed at all. He was still short, still average in almost every way, with brown, curly hair and glasses. Danny liked to talk, and at the games it was always the hardest thing to do to get him to stop talking long enough for someone else to say something. When Danny showed up, he was really happy to see us, and very excited to get back into a game. Eddy didn’t seem to be bothered by the fact that Danny showed up, and I guessed that whatever had happened between Eddy and Karen didn’t matter anymore. Then Eddy asked Danny, “What’s Karen doing now?”
“I haven’t talked to her since we graduated,” Danny said. “I think she started dating this guy, his name is Raul, I think, she met him where she works, at that big book store, and that was the last thing she told me. I texted her, a couple of times, but she didn’t reply.”
“Oh,” Eddy said.
And then Mark came through the door. A couple of girls came in through the door behind him. I didn’t know it at the time, but the girls were Mark’s step-sister and her friend ‘Tony’.
Mark was carrying a big satchel of books, a tube that had a flat rolled up sheet that you could draw on with markers, the kind you can erase with a damp cloth, and a big shoe box, that I knew was full of cardboard playing pieces that were little pictures of monsters and heroes that you could put on plastic stands. These ‘pawns’, that’s what Mark called them, were the things we used to play the game.
He came to the table where I was sitting, with Danny and Eddy, put the things he was carrying down on the table, and said, “Hi guys, this is my sister, Erin,” he pointed to the girl next to him, “and her friend Tony,” he pointed to the girl next to Erin.
“Erin,” Mark went on, this is my friend, “Patrick Campbell, and his friends, Danny and Eddy.”
Erin smiled. Erin was gorgeous, and when she smiled, I think my heart stopped, for just a beat.
She wasn’t like Mark at all. Erin had red hair, that was thick and straight, and she parted it on the side of her head. The part of her hair that went over the side had a curl to it, just a slight curl, and it reminded me of the character of Dawn, from those comic books. On the other side of her head, she had her hair pushed back behind her ear, and her ear was pierced, three times. One of the piercings was a small twenty side die, and it was orange, my favorite color. Erin was not as tall as Mark, and he was on the short side, shorter than me anyway. Although she had a slim body, not too thin, she had a very large chest. Her eyes were blue, and her nose was turned up a bit on the end. She had freckles, and white skin. She was the prettiest girl I had ever seen.
I was staring at Erin, but I don’t think she noticed. Before I think she could notice, her friend, Tony, came around the table holding out her hand, and said to me, “Hi, I’m Tony. It’s short for Antoinette, Marie Antoinette Rodgers, actually. My parents thought the name was really originally, but I hate it, so call me Tony, please.”
I turned to Tony, say, “Hi,” and then I saw that she was almost as attractive as Erin. Tony was a blonde, with that kind of hair cut that is long in the front, but is cut shorter toward the back, and kind of scalped really short on the back of her head. Tony was a little bigger than Erin, almost chubby, but still very good looking, and that was when I noticed that thing about game stores that everyone knows, and makes jokes about. Pretty girls in a game store are like bulls in a china shop. There were a few other guys in the shop, playing card games, painting little toy soldiers, and all of them had stopped what they were doing, and were looking toward the girls.
“So your name is Patrick Campbell,” Tony said, “Is that Irish? Are you Irish? Because, if you are Irish, Erin is going to freak out, she is so interested in everything Irish, I swear. She has so many books about Ireland.”
I turned and looked at Erin, who was starting to blush, but didn’t say anything.
“Yes,” I said to Tony. “I’m half Irish, my dad came to the United States when he was seven, from Dundalk, that’s in Ireland, but I don’t know where. My grandfather was an engineer, and worked here on a visa. My dad got his citizenship when he married my mom.”
“So do you like Patrick? Can I call you Pat? You look like a Pat,” Tony said as she sat down at the table.
“I kind of like Patrick,” I said.
“Okay,” Tony said.
“It’s nice to meet you, Patrick,” Erin said. And then she pulled back a chair and that was when I noticed she had been holding a black and red backpack, by one of the straps, behind her back. Erin put the backpack on the table, gently, and unzipped the top. She took out two notebooks, both spiral bound, the metal wire kind. One of them was huge, like a five subject school notebook and it had a green cover, and the other was smaller, only one subject in size, and it had a blue cover. Erin took out of her backpack a small sports bottle, filled with what looked like water, a small cloth bag, that I recognized as a dice bag, we all had similar ones, but hers was brand new, and printed with some sort of dragon, and three, wooden, yellow number 2, pencils.
“This is going to be a lot of fun,” Tony said, as Mark stretched out the rolled up mat, and started setting out the rule books. “How do you play?”
We were so loud that night that the owner of the game store had to ask us to be quiet, three times. Tony was a natural. She learned how to create a character, with Danny’s help, faster than any of us thought she would. Tony created a Rogue, a Halfling rogue, and she named him, yeah she wanted to play a guy, Randal Hotspotter. I rolled up a Ranger, and just to try something different I went with a dwarf, I named him Owen Redwoodkin. Mark rolled a Cleric, no surprise there, and named him, Lakewood of Passingtown. Danny rolled up a Sorcerer, a female elven sorcerer he decided to name Lady Elvira of the Dark (we groaned, be he wouldn’t change his mind). And Eddy also decided to roll up a rogue, also a halfling rogue, and I think I knew right then what was going on when he announced his rogue would be a female, and her name was going to be Rachel Edgemaker.
It took us just about two hours to finish our characters. We didn’t have to buy any equipment, and the reason why was the first sign that we were in store for something special. Erin had made lists, equipment lists for every kind of character, several lists in fact. And she handed them out to us as soon as we said we were ready to get started. And then Erin handed out a single sheet of paper, with a few typed paragraphs. She told us to read the paper and we would know where we all were, and how the game would begin. That single sheet of paper blew me away. It was amazing.
Erin had created a world with a great deal of background that she conveyed in so few words. Our adventure began in a castle, a human castle, on the day after a young princess celebrated her fifteenth birthday. The King and Queen had invited dignitaries from several neighboring kingdoms, of many races, and the party was meant to be, not only a coming of age celebration for their daughter, but a gathering of nobles who were going to sign a new treaty the next day, establishing a new peace in the region. Early in the morning, one of the groups invited to the celebration, a race of elves (not the elves that Eddy’s character belonged to) attacked and killed the King and Queen, and tried to kidnap the princess.
Our adventure began when all of us, our characters, woke up in the middle of the attack to the sounds of screams.
We played that night for seven hours. We rescued the princess, and got her safely out of the castle. We fought against elven swordsmen and mages, and escaped into a nearby forest where we rested for a day, and made plans to find out why these elves attacked and what their evil plan involved, and then we planned, us not our characters, when we would play the next session.
Everyone said that it was one of the best games we ever played. Erin, though new to the game (she had to, at times, look up a few rules) was a great story teller. You could tell that she was a little bit shy about doing it, but as the night went on, she really got into the game, even doing voices for the bad guys at times. We all agreed to come back next Saturday, and play again.
Even though we had finished the game, we stayed for almost another hour, just talking, well, I didn’t talk much, it was mostly Eddy talking to Tony, and Tony talking to everyone. It’s kind of strange, but it used to be Danny who talked all of the time, and when he did it tended to become annoying. But that night, he was quiet. He only talked when he needed to, and he played his character well. Tony was a chatterbox, but it never got on anyone’s nerves. She was funny, sometimes, and sometimes she was confrontational, but never in a bad way.
There was something about Tony that drew Erin out of her shell. Anyone could see that they had a strong friendship. When Mark finally had everything packed up, and announced that he was leaving, and taking Tony and Erin with him, I think all of us were a little sad, but the thought of meeting next Saturday stood out in my mind more than anything else. And as I got into bed Sunday morning, to try and get a few hours of sleep, I wondered if I was going to be able to think about school at all come Monday.
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I have the SAME compulsion (I suspect most GM's do). I also have the same doubts about my skills as a writer. I've been Gaming 30 years, writng seriously for about 29 of those, and have probably millions of notebooks worth of material. Despite ALL that work I've only been published in 1 high school periodical.
Kudos to you for being braver than me. You self-published and have 2 novels to your credit. If they're not best sellers or if they are; at least they're OUT there! You've become my new personal hero.
I read the whole story above. I really liked the tone of the narrator; he really sounds like a teenager. The run-on sentences, the cadence and diction; it all lends to that feel.
I found myself asking though, at the end of the piece: what's the conflict here? You start it off w/the statement that the group is broken, but by the time you're done w/the first bit posted that conflict's gone with nothing on the horizon. Well, there's the conflict the characters in the game face, but that's only interesting to gamers.
Still in all I enjoyed it. You should cut yourself some slack and realize that you're obviously not a teen but you've captured the essence of what that experience is: awkwardness, stumbling but hopeful and striving to develop.
So where do you go now? Is this fantasy fiction and Erin LITERALLY transports them to her make-believe world? Or is this dramatic fiction and Patrick makes a pass at the GM only to have his heart broken? You've got at least one fan waiting for the answers...
I'll just say I totally agree with Hoover's thoughts on your skill set and add that I personally like more detail.....The Devil is in the Details.... Words are like paint used with artful strokes to craft a picture in the mind of the reader. I like the story and want to read more but I feel like I want more details.
Just don't get angry if you feel like your skill is underwhelming....don't need you becoming a Mathesson short story...;)
Good Luck and just enjoy the motion.
I liked it, not the best I've read, but deffinately grabbed and held my attention, not always an easy task. Scale of one to ten, a solid six, well written, good grammar, decent spelling and vocabulary, and left me wanting to read more. Don't be discouraged by the six, I'm a harsh judge, six is top side of average, and I've never given a ten. By all means, Finnish this story, if not here then in print.
good feedback, thank you very much. I will add more, but I am still wondering if there is a better place, here in Paizonia, to post things like this.
I spent the week getting adjusted to my new schedule, learning about a new web site where I could get cheaper books, and thinking about Erin. Everything was set for us to get together on Saturday, play another game, and on Thursday night, I was feeling excited about it, but something happened that night, and when I woke up on Friday morning I had an odd feeling that I couldn’t shake for the whole day.
Friday morning I woke up early, at about eight, after a bad dream. I’ve had a lot of bad dreams, and they never bothered me. I usually just try to forget about them. But my bad dream, more than what the dream was about, that is what was happening, or at least the things that I could remember about it, had something new about it I had never felt before. My bad dreams were sometimes frightening, sometimes bizarre, but the feelings the dreams left me, were not strange. I’ve been frightened, I’ve felt like thinks were bizarre, but I’d never felt this feeling before, that I could remember, anyway.
I felt alone. In my dream, I felt like everyone else in the dream was connected to each other, they all got each other, they all understood each other, and I was outside of that. When I woke from the dream the first thing I noticed was that my room seemed odd to me, for no reason. I felt trapped in my room, and like it was not my room, like it was a strange room that I had never seen before, for just a second, that’s how I felt, and then, this is hard to explain, it seemed that the feeling went away, but not all the way away, it was there, hidden, and it nagged at me all day long. Everything I did and everything I saw, everyone I talked to, felt new, strange, and separated from me in a way that before now I had never cared, or maybe never noticed. For most of Friday, I didn’t think about the game on Saturday at all.
It isn’t like me to get caught up in thinking about how I feel. Most of the time I feel alright, normal, I guess. I have friends who talk about being depressed, and friends who talk about having parents who are depressed, or messed up in some way, they talk about the drugs, the counseling, the days where they feel grey, and alone, but that’s never been me. I don’t think what I was feeling was depression, but it was something new, something different, and something I didn’t like.
Friday night, Mark called me to see if I was still on for the game on Saturday.
“Yeah, absolutely,” I told him on the phone. “Should I bring anything?” I don’t know why I asked that.
“Bring anything you want,” Mark said.
“What does Erin like?” I asked.
“Like what?” Mark asked.
“I don’t know, does she like popcorn (I liked popcorn), or does she have a favorite snack?”
Mark laughed, over the phone it sounded weird, and that feeling, from the morning, my weird dream feeling, flared up.
“Why are you laughing?” I asked.
“Nothing,” Mark said. “She likes Red Vines and Cream Soda. By the way, do you still like that popcorn city, stuff, what’s it called?”
“Popcornopolis, yeah, I do, Zebra, or any kind. I live it, why?”
“Okay, hey I’ll text you when we are leaving the house. What time are you going to be there?”
“Probably one, or a little after that. I’ll text you.”
And that was the last time I talked to Mark before I saw him on Saturday.
When I write, one of the things I worry about most is the idea of conflict. I am a very conflicted individual, internally, and I tend to write about conflicted characters, but there are times when I want to try and write about an external conflict, and my tendency to write about internal conflict, gets in the way. Characters, the characters I write about, are bothered by the world because they tend to think that everyone else gets it. This character, Patrick, is one I am using to explore the ideas about how a person become aware of their own internal conflicts.
There is nothing wrong with what you write, Terquem, at least that's my view after a very quick read. The problem I think you're hitting is that you keep writing, but perhaps you lack feedback, and without seeing your weak points, you keep writing at the same level you did. You seem to have the dedication for the job, and putting your story here is certainly a way to get that feedback, but I think you would be helped by more formalized ways of getting it. Writer's circles are thirteen a dozen today, and you shouldn't have problems finding one. If you have the patience to write, take the time to learn the tricks of the trade, challenge your comfort zone in what you write, and you will get there.
Thanks for the insight, Sissyl. Very good points, all.
Grimmy, I'm sorry. I would like to keep writing it. My insecurities and childish nature got the best of me. And maybe these forums are not the best place for me
Feedback is always appreciated
I resurrected this old thread because of the things I've been reading in some of the forums here. Even though this was written last year, I was, at the time, thinking about some of my experiences with women and role playing games when I started writing it. And the recent threads and discussions about women and their “role” in role-playing-games brought this story back in my mind.
I ended the story abruptly, due to insecurities and personal issues, but now I want to try and see if I can pick it up where I ended it and see where it goes. I don’t know, but the ideas I was thinking about then seem more relevant now. Look for more chapters to follow soon.
I went to the game store feeling excited, and a little worried. Mark had said he would text me before he left his house, and it wouldn’t be the first time Mark didn’t give me any kind of warning before he simply decided to bail on me, but then I thought about Erin.
Erin had seemed excited to play again, and surely she would have pressured Mark to get a hold of me to let me know if they were going to be showing up latter than they had said they would.
It was just a few minutes after one when I got to the store. When I went inside, I saw that Tony, Antoinette, was already there with Eddy and Danny. Danny was sitting next to Tony, and Eddy was sitting across from the table from them. And they all looked different.
Not in a scary way, but in a familiar way. Danny had decided to wear a button up shirt, with a collar, and Eddy was wearing a clean, brand new, tee shirt. Tony was wearing more make up than she was the first time we met. Her eyes looked really good, not over done at all, and her hair was fixed too. She was wearing layered tops, a blue shirt under another , looser fitting, green shirt, and she had on some bracelets that looked kind of cool. On each wrist she wore about five bracelets, all different kinds, some were beadwork and others were just leather or plastic.
The familiar way that three of them looked different was this. It was obvious they were all dressing up. Dressing up as if they were going out to see a movie or get something to eat at a restaurant. They were not dressed like they were going out to play Pathfinder.
“Hey,” I said to them as I walked across the store to the back where the game table was set up for us.
“Hi Patrick,” Tony said, and smiled, but it was an awkward smile. Eddy and Danny didn’t say anything.
I was about to say something about the way everyone was dressed, when Tony said to me, “Mark and Erin are going to be a little late. I was going to ride with them, but Danny picked me up. They had a problem at their house this morning. I think Erin got really upset. I talked to her a while ago and she sounded like she was still crying, but Mark said they were still going to make it.”
I sat down next to Tony.
“Is everything okay?” I asked. What a stupid question.
“Yeah,” Tony said. “I think so.”
“Do you know what happened?”
“I guess,” Tony started to say, and she looked down, frowned, and then went on, “Their dad came to the house where Mark lives with his mom and her husband. You know, Mark and Erin have the same dad, but he isn’t around, ever, I thought, so Erin said he came by their house and was causing some kind of trouble. Erin wouldn’t tell me what it was, but Mark said he was looking for Erin’s mom and was really pissed off about something. That’s all I know.”
That was all she said. Eddy and Danny didn’t say anything, and when I looked at Eddy he looked uncomfortable, and I know that family issues are a sensitive thing to him. He’s very private about his family and I hardly know anything about them.
Mark and Erin came through the door at the other end of the store. Mark walked in front, and his face said everything. He was pissed off. When they got close to the table, Erin moved out from behind him, and I could tell she was trying not to cry.
And I stared at her again.
I had a pretty good idea, by now, that I was developing a crush on her. I knew she was younger than me, and that that might be a bad thing, but I just couldn’t stop staring at her. She was so pretty. She was wearing corduroy pants, kind of a rusty red color, and a black top with a silver belt. The top was sort of a loose fitting shirt, and I could see the strap for her bra underneath it. I caught myself looking at that strap and felt really bad. I don’t know why I would look at her bra. I mean I know why I would, but I know I shouldn’t.
I keep hoping she would sit down next to me. It was going through my mind like I was trying to send her a mental message or something, and when she did sit down, next to me, she even moved the chair a little closer to mine, and I had this sudden feeling that maybe I was.
Then I noticed that Erin didn’t bring her back pack, and Mark didn’t bring anything.
“Where’s you guy’s stuff?” I asked.
“We can’t play,” Mark said, and put his hands on the back of a chair. He gripped it tight. I would not want to be that chair, I thought.
“Our dad took Erin’s stuff. He was acting like some kind of lunatic. I mean he was yelling and saying crazy sh, stuff. He said Erin was supposed to know where her mom was, and, man, I mean. He was yelling at my mom, and my step dad kept telling him he had to leave or he was going to call the police, but he never did. And then he goes into Erin’s room, which was a craft room my mom had turned into a bedroom for Erin, I mean it’s a tiny little room, and he starts throwing things around, He scaring everyone. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I don’t need to be telling you guys all of this, but basically, we can’t play. And Erin’s lost something that is really important to her.”
“So,” I said, and I really was trying to be careful, “he was looking for Erin’s stuff, or did he take it just to be a jerk.”
“I don’t have any idea,” Mark said, but I was watching Erin, and she looked away from me when I asked.
“He took your stuff because he knew it would hurt you,” I said, but she wouldn’t look at me.
“Do you know where he is staying?” I asked Mark.
“Yeah, I think. It’s probably our old house. I don’t think he ever moved. He just never came around. Why?”
“We could go talk to him. You, me, Eddy, and,” I turned to look at Danny when I said, “Danny,” and I thought about what this old guy would do if a guy like Danny showed up at his house. Danny wasn’t scary looking, but he looked tough, and I thought that with the four of us we could probably make him give Erin’s stuff aback.
“With the four of us, we should be able to talk to him without him thinking he can act like a jerk. I mean there’ll be four of us, right. I’m not saying we go and, you know, threaten him or anything, but if we just explain to him what we want, and why, if there are four of us, we should be able to get it back.”
Erin continued to look away from me, but now she stood up and approached Mark. She was so much smaller than him. She put her hand on his arm and said, “You could try, please, for me.”
“Hey, I’ll go too,” Tony said. “We should all go, that’s six of us. He won’t argue with six of us. Let’s do it, if you know where it is, Mark.”
“Well, yeah, I remember where it is. It’s across town.”
I was only worried that by volunteering Danny and Eddy I may have made a problem. But then When Tony stood up and took her bag off the back of her chair, wouldn’t you just know that Danny and Eddy both jumped up out of their seats.
Danny spoke first, “Hell yes. Let’s go and just be real polite and ask him to give the stuff back. There are six of us. I mean what’s he going to do?”
I was surprised when Eddy added, talking to Erin, “That’s not right for him to think he can just take stuff that belongs to you, even if he is your father. It’s not right.”
So, I made a huge mistake in this story in that I have reversed the characters of Eddy and Danny, more than once I think, actually. I apologize for the confusion. The story, as I am posting it, is first draft stuff, and I should try to be more careful about these kinds of mistakes. For the record – Eddy is the tough strong guy who used to date Karen, and Danny is the smaller guy who should have been the one to speak the last line in the post above. Eddy – Karen’s ex-boyfriend, Danny – the sort of obnoxious one, okay?
anyway, on with the story
As we all headed out of the store, as a group, Trevor (he’s the guy who runs the store on Saturdays) stopped me and asked, “Are you guys going to play today?”
I kept moving forward, and answered him as the other’s started out the door, “Yeah, probably. We’ll be right back.”
I wasn’t paying attention to what had happened outside, my face was turned toward Trevor.
Karen was on the sidewalk.
Now, see, Karen and I have a history. Eddy and I had been friends for a long time. We liked the same kinds of things, and spent a lot of time together. Eddy was my best friend. Mark was probably my closest friend after Eddy. When Eddy first started dating Karen I was really surprised. Karen is, well, she’s not in the same league as the rest of us, and honestly, out of Eddy’s league too. I really thought that when I saw Eddy last week, when I saw how he had buffed up, I thought it might be because after all the time he had been broken up with Karen, maybe he was trying to get back with her.
Karen is nothing like Erin or Tony. It’s not that Erin and Tony aren’t good looking or nice, they are. Erin is very pretty. Tony is attractive in her own way, I suppose, but Karen. Well, Karen is tall, for a girl, with a slim, lingerie model shape, long legs, and long reddish-brown hair, that’s really thick and healthy. Her hair has that way of standing out, you know, from her forehead in two, sort of, curtains or something. It’s hard to describe, but it is amazing. And her face is practically perfect. But Karen and I didn’t always get along, and that’s mostly my fault.
When I first met Karen she was wearing her cheerleading outfit from school, and I sort of made some comments about cheerleaders that offender her. It was stupid of me, sure, but come on, she was a cheerleader, and I was sixteen years old. I’m older now, and a lot more mature. Basically, I implied that all cheerleaders are low on the IQ scale, and when it comes to Karen, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Karen was smart, very smart.
I never knew exactly why they broke up, Karen and Eddy.
Now we were all standing in front of the store, and Karen was standing right in front of Eddy. When I first came out onto the sidewalk, my immediately feeling was that it was going to be like some kind of reality show, a lot of drama, but I was wrong about that, too.
And Karen looked hot, but it was different, looking at her, and knowing that she was a really attractive girl, and what I felt when I looked at Erin. It was different. Erin was beautiful.
Karen was wearing skinny jeans (her favorite) and a leather jacket over a tee shirt. Her hair was still long, and it was braided, with the braid going over her left shoulder and hanging down across the front of her chest.
“Hey, Karen,” Eddy was saying, “what are you doing here?”
“I heard you were playing, you and, and everyone else, from, from before, and I thought I’d come by and say hello. That’s not weird,” Karen said.
“How did you hear we were playing?” I found myself asking, before I had the time to think about not saying anything at all.
“There’s a girl I work with who collects cards. She buys them here, and she said she saw you, Eddy, and some other people playing Pathfinder down at the store last week, so I just thought you might be here this week again. I, um, I got this new phone. My parents took me of their plan, and I got my own plan and I didn’t want the same number. I was getting a lot of stupid messages because of some things I did with my old phone, so I knew you guys didn’t have my new number, and anyway, so, how are you guys? Are you done playing? Can we hang out?” Karen said, and she looked to me like she was really sincere.
Then it got a little awkward. Eddy looked at Tony, and then Mark said, “We were just going out to take care of something important and boring. You probably don’t want to go.”
But it was Danny, again, who surprised me when he stepped forward and said, “It’d be great if you could hang out with us. Come on guys, let her come to, then there’s, what, seven of us. Seriously.”
Then I remembered that Danny had been a friend of Karen’s even before Karen was dating Eddy. It made sense that he would stand up for her.
Mark looked at me, then at Erin. I noticed Mark was looking at me, but I saw Tony out of the corner of my eye, and she didn’t look happy.
Erin made the decision for all of us.
“Hi,” Erin said stepping forward. “I’m Mark’s sister, and this is my friend Tony. Sure, you can hang out, and when we get back, maybe, do you want to play in the game with us?”
Karen looked at each of us. She was smiling, and she shook Erin’s hand, but then when she looked at Eddy, she sort of glanced down, and then her smile sort of went away, but she said, “Thanks, Erin. That’ll be cool.”
“How are we supposed to all fit in one car?” I asked.
“I’ve got my mom’s Suburban,” Danny said, and started off down the street.
Change in narrative voice: I think I’m going to change directions with this story, after all, it’s just a first draft, and I really never knew what I was going to do with it when I started, but now I have this idea about doing something not all that original, and seeing where that goes and to do that I need to switch from the First Person I have been using, and try a third person, omniscient, narrator. I hope that doesn’t upset anyone.
They all piled into Danny’s Mother’s Suburban, and Danny let Mark take the wheel.
“You sure you know where we’re going?” Danny asked as he fastened his seat belt. He took the seat behind Mark, and let Patrick sit in the front passenger seat.
“Oh, yeah. I remember where it is. It’s not far from here,” Mark said as he pulled away from the curb.
Mark took city streets to the north side of the downtown area, and then got on the freeway, which brought a complaint from Danny, but they only stayed on the busy freeway for a mile or two, and took the fourth exit they came to.
They drove down a major boulevard, and then turned onto a street that led into a nice looking neighborhood.
Mark pulled the big car over to the curb in front of a two story, yellow sided house with a peaked roof and small widows on the second floor. There was a white, late model, four door sedan in the driveway.
“That’s his car,” Mark said, turning to talk to everyone in the Suburban.
“Okay,” Patrick said, turning to face the same way as Mark. “We are just going to knock on the door, and when he answers we’re going to ask for Erin’s backpack. If he refuses, I think we should tell him that we are going to call the police. Okay?”
Everyone nodded, and Patrick noticed, for the first time today, that Erin gave him a smile.
Seven young people walked across the front yard, and gathered around the front door. Erin stood close to Mark, and Patrick was on the other side of him. Danny, Tony and Eddy were behind them, and Karen, a step behind everyone else.
Patrick knocked four times on the door.
The door open almost immediately, and Patrick was surprised. Mark and Erin’s father was not a large man. He was smaller than Danny, and thinner too. He was mostly bald, with just a little bark hair behind his ears. He had a plain looking face, and a straight and small nose. Patrick was, for some reason, expecting a big angry looking man, not this guy.
“Mark, Erin, who are, what are doing here?” he tried to ask two questions at the same time.
Patrick spoke first, “Mister Lewis,” he called the man by his last name, and tried to be respectful. “We just want to get Erin’s stuff back.”
“Her stuff?” Mister Lewis said, looking as if he didn’t understand, and then it obviously became clear to him why the kids where there.
“Oh, the backpack, I’m not done with it yet. I don’t know you, and I don’t appreciate you coming to my house and making demands. Now, why don’t you all just go away, before I call the police.”
“What if I call the police and tell them you stole something that doesn’t belong to you,” Patrick said.
“Erin is still my daughter, young man, and I’ll give it back to her when I’m done with it,” Mister Lewis tried to shut the door, but it was Mark who put up a hand and stopped him.
“What do you mean you’re not done with it? There isn’t anything in her stuff that you need, and some of it is very private,” Mark said, holding the door open easily.
Mister Lewis looked at Mark and then his face began to turn red. “Mark,” he said, “you let go of this door immediately and take your friends and get out of here, unless you want to tell me where Erin’s mother is, huh? Do you? Do you know? Erin, do you want to tell me where she is now? Because if you do I’ll give it back, but I’m not going to give it back until I find out where she is, or until you tell me where she is.”
“Hey, calm down,” Patrick said putting out his hands palms forward. “They don’t know where she is, and they already told you that, so just give it back.”
Patrick was prepared for the man to really lose his temper, but something strange happened.
Mister Lewis dropped his head and let out a long sigh.
“Alright,” he said, and opened the door all the way. He turned and said over his shoulder, “Why don’t you all come in, and we’ll talk about it.”
Patrick saw Erin’s backpack on the couch in the living room, to their right, and then he looked to the left and saw that Erin’s big notebook was opened on the kitchen table in that room. He nudged Erin, and leaned his head toward the kitchen, as Mister Lewis led them all into the living room. He went straight for the backpack and picked it up, turned and held it out toward Patrick.
“Look, kids,” he began to explain. “I really need to find Erin’s mother. It’s very important. You can have the backpack, but I need to keep the journal, for a while, just a while. I think there are clues in it about where she might be.”
“There isn’t anything about mom in my journal,” Erin said, and moved next to Patrick and took hold of one of the straps of the backpack with her hand.
“Oh, there is, Erin, sweetheart, there is, you just don’t know it,” he said, but he did not release the backpack.
The rest of Patrick’s friends had moved into the room and spread out. Danny and Tony ended up near the front window, while Karen and Eddy (who moved to be near Tony) were standing behind the couch. Just across from Eddy, on the other side of the couch, stood Mister Lewis and Erin, with Patrick standing beside of her. Mark was behind Erin.
On a small table under the window was a small crystal bell with a wooden handle. As Mister Lewis and Erin were talking, Danny noticed the bell had a soft green glow.
“Look,” Danny pointed at the bell, and whispered to Tony, “It’s got those led lights in it that change colors.”
“I only write about made up stuff in that journal. It’s all made up, I don’t write about anyone I know in my book,” Erin was saying.
“The world you write about is more real than you could possibly understand,” Mister Lewis was saying, and then he noticed Danny was about to touch the crystal Bell. “Young man, please leave that alone,” he said.
“Are there batteries in the handle,” Danny asked, picking it up anyway.
Patrick turned to Danny and complained, “Man, what are you doing? Leave the guys stuff alone.”
“Really, Danny,” Eddy said and moved to take the bell from his hand.
“Boys, please, be careful, and wait, what do you mean batteries?”
Mister Lewis moved around the couch, and did not let go of the backpack.
While there was a distraction, Patrick moved fast, back to the kitchen and took the notebook off of the table, and then hurried back to the others.
When Patrick came back into the living room he was startled.
“Idiot!” Mister Lewis was saying. “Why did you touch it if it was glowing? Never touch it if it’s glowing,” He put his hand out, reaching for the bell, and got tangled up with Eddy’s hand.
Erin had been pulled around to follow Mister Lewis, and Mark was right behind her, with his hand on her shoulder helping to keep her from being pulled over.
Tony reached out and touched Eddy’s elbow.
The soft green glow exploded, filling the room.
Patrick lunged over the couch, toward Erin, Karen took that moment to try and back away from Tony, and collided with Patrick, and the two of them fell forward, toward Mark.
Mark, reaching with his free hand, took Patrick’s left hand, to keep him from falling face first on the floor, and Patrick was holding onto Karen’s left arm. Karen, stumbling forward, reached out with her right hand and grabbed Toni’s left hand.
There were formed, almost, into a perfect circle, Danny, Eddy, then Tony, Karen, Patrick, Mark, Erin, and Mister Lewis, when they vanished from the room in a flash of green light.
The nearly blinding intensity of the green flash forced Patrick to shut his eye tightly, and then as quickly as it flared up, it was gone.
They were standing in the open. The sun was shining, and there was a breeze blowing. Patrick felt the cool air in his hair and the sunshine on his closed eyes, and knew that something was wrong.
“Where are we,” Tony was the first to say. “It’s beautiful, oh my God is that a real castle?”
Patrick opened his eyes. There, in the distance, not more than two blocks away was a great stone castle complete with round towers on the ends, and an enormous drawbridge in the center of a gatehouse (he knew what the basic structure of a castle was from that book by David Macauley). He noticed that everyone was taking steps away from each other, and that they were all looking off in different directions, but standing close to him was Erin, still holding onto one strap of the backpack and her father, Mister Lewis, was there holding the other strap.
He had to turn and take in everything that was around him. It occurred to him for just a second that he might be dead, and this was heaven. There had been a flash of light. He remembered that. Maybe it was an explosion. Patrick took a cautious step, not sure his legs would actually work under his own power, but he moved normally, and when his foot came down it felt like he was standing on a stone wall. It was an uneven surface, and he looked down. It was a road, a wide road, maybe thirty feet wide, and it was made of, what was it called, cobblestone, yes, he thought that was the way it was described. There were various stones, some flat, some slightly rounded on the tops, pressed into the ground to make a roadway that looked more like a wall lay flat than a proper asphalt road. And the road ran straight toward the front of the castle, ahead of him. He turned around, and as he did he noticed the road was lined with trees. The trees were not large, and they were not placed close together. It looked as if they may have been recently planted. Behind him he saw that the cobblestone road ran another block and a half, and then it ended, and became a simple dirt road where there was a large set of iron gates, opened, attached to two small stone towers, but the towers stood all alone, there were no walls connected to them, and beyond the edge of the grounds around the castle was a countryside that looked like it was taken from a calendar for a travel agency suggesting trips to quaint European settings.
It was quiet, and peaceful, in a way it was amazing, but mostly it was impossible.
“What just happened?” Eddy said as he came to stand next to Patrick.
“I don’t know,” Patrick answered, “Mark, Erin, guys is everybody alright?”
“This is wrong,” Mister Lewis said as he walked a few steps toward the castle before realizing he was pulling Erin along, who would not let go of the backpack. “You should not have picked up the bell, but we should not be out here. We should be where the other bell is, and you mother,” he turned to look at Erin and his face was pale, “kept the other bell in the high southern tower room. We should be there, not here. No, no,” he went on, some of his earlier anger returning, and he pulled hard on the backpack, jerking Erin toward him. “We shouldn’t be here at all! You idiots, I don’t have time for this, not now, not with your mother missing, and certainly not if I cannot activate the other bell.”
“What are you yelling about?” Danny asked, and then moved to stand close to Tony. “Where are we? And how did we get here?"
“Look,” Eddy said, growing angry himelf. He pulled his shoulders back and up, it was an impressive gesture, and said, “This better not be some kind of sick joke. How did you make this happen? Did you gas us or something?”
“Yes, what is going on?” Mark added and went right up to stand next to his father.
“I can explain, as soon as we get back to Earth,” Mister Lewis said, and tried to back away from Mark, but he would not let go of the backpack, and neither would Erin. “This world, where we are now, is the world where you mother is really from, Erin. She’s not from Ireland, or Boston, or any of the other stories she might have told you. This place is called KanBroodagg, and - ”
“KanBroodagg!” Erin exclaimed. “I made that up.”
“No, no you didn’t. You think you did, but, but,” Mister Lewis began to explain. “Well that’s harder to explain, and I might not have the answer. I think your mother sang songs to you, when you were sleeping, and she, well, your mother, aside from being from another world, is special in other ways, in magical ways, and it could be that she put all those ideas in your head.”
“Guys,” Patrick said as he watched the drawbridge in the distance begin to lower.
Mister Lewis went on, “When you were a little girl and you started to tell stories about this place, I thought it was cute. I thought your mother was just, just being the way she is, difficult, but then, then recently it occurred to me that maybe she was putting all of those things in your head for a reason. Maybe she thought having all of that, that information about her world in your head would be useful to her, someday. Look, I’m not trying to tell you the kinds of things I told you when we got divorced, okay. It’s not like that, but you mother, well, you mother isn’t always, hasn’t been, often, a nice person. She was a queen, here, and sometimes she wasn’t a well liked Queen, and – "
“Guys!” Patrick shouted, and pointed toward the castle. “There are people coming, and they don’t look like they are coming to say hello.”
A group of men, on horses, were ridding out of the castle, across the open drawbridge, and they were coming in a hurry. They were not far away, and Patrick could see that most of them wore some kind of armor, made of pieces of metal and parts of leather. One of them was carrying a banner, it waved out behind the rider, and it was a glossy, black flag with the symbol of a red dragon standing on three feet, with one foot, a front foot, raised off of the ground. Another of the men, one riding toward the front, wasn’t wearing any armor but was wearing a black robe, and across his chest was a wide red sash. This man had a long face, and a receding hairline, but where his hair did grow it was thick and black and fluttered in the wind as he rode looking very much like the flag the other man carried.
“Mister Lewis,” Karen, who had been quiet this whole time, said, “Are we in some kind of trouble, here?”
Mister Lewis turned and when he saw the riders coming he sighed, “Oh, we, we, are not so much as in trouble. We are dead.”
There was no point in trying to run, in just a few minutes the horses had surrounded them on the road. The man in the black robe dismounted and walked toward Mister Lewis. He was smiling, and holding out his arms as if he were about to give Mister Lewis a Hug, but Mister Lewis wasn’t going to be hugged.
Mister Lewis finally let go of the backpack, and fainted.
It is a very interesting read. Grabbed my interest and held it so far. Well done. On a personal note I believe that I like the 1st person narrative better for some reason. Maybe , as to your comment about interjecting the inner conflicts into the story, that it makes them more human/personable and thus more interesting.
But well done so far. Keep writing!
I have a similair problem...I love to come up with stories, but the actualy writting is where I get in trouble. I don't know how many started novels or short stories I have in notebooks or on the computer. I always seem to...I would not say loose interest...but loose heart.
I think RPG appeal to me because it is not all on me...and I don't have to write.
There is a bit advice I have heard to writters though that you maybe able to use. But for a different reason. Write one page a day. It maybe your complusion to write that is effecting it..so if you limit yourself to one page a day...you can take your time and reveiw what you wrote, etc. I don't know if that will help.
Other pierce of advice that if you enjoy doing it...don't worry too much what others feel.
Anyway I don't have time to read what you wrote outside of your initial post...I will do so and let you know what I think later.
Thanks for the comments and advice. I do appreciate it so much.
The man in the black robe laughed. It wasn’t a sinister laugh, or an evil laugh, or even a strange laugh. His laugh seemed natural, and sounded like a normal laugh. His laugh was picked up by the other men, and then the man in the black robe turned around and went back to his horse. He mounted the horse and then after taking up the reins, finally spoke.
“That went pretty much as I expected,” he said, and the men on the horses laughed again.
The seven friends began to move toward each other. It was a reflex, and Patrick was surprised to notice that everyone seemed to be moving close to him.
Patrick was afraid, but he couldn’t tell exactly what it was he was afraid of. It was just a feeling, a tingling all over his whole body that left him feeling tense, and unable to breathe normally. He even caught himself, more than once, chattering his teeth, and had to tell himself to stop.
“I can’t imagine what Donald was thinking, really I can’t,” the man in the black robe said. His horse moved, first a little to one side and then it moved back a step. Then the horse turned completely around, lifted its head and snorted. When the man in the black robe was facing toward them again, he said, “Unless there is someone here who is, who could be important. Three young ladies and four young men, now who could they be? Who could they be? Yes, yes, exactly, who?” The man seemed to be deep in thought and then, he pointed at two of the other men on horses and called them by name, “Rolward and Roderick, you two dismount and bring the tall girl and the red haired girl to the castle. If it is anyone, it is one of them, I imagine. Roger,” he indicated another of the riders, “You take charge of their horse, see that they are returned to the stable and then find me when you are finished.”
“Wait,” Mark said. “You’re not taking anyone,” and he stepped in front of Karen and Erin.
“What’s going on?” Patrick said.
“Boys,” the black robed man said over his shoulder as he moved his horse a few steps toward the castle, “I will take whomever I want to take, and what is going on, isn’t going to matter to any of you.” He stopped, turned his horse back toward them and spoke to the remaining riders, “Kill them all, and this time I don’t want to see it done, right here, on the road, in front of the castle. Take them,” he waved his hand toward the gate at the end of the road, “out into the forest. Make it quick, we hsve things to do.” Then he turned his horse around again.
Patrick felt as if someone had kicked him in the stomach. Were they really going to kill them? Could they just do that? Then he noticed that each of the men on the horses wore a short, but heavy, sword in a scabbard on their belts.
The two men that were called by name got down from their horses while the third one rode close to them and took the reins of the two horses, turned and rode back, at a quick trot, toward the castle.
The two men, Rolward and Roderick were big men (as tall as Mark, and almost as heavy) moved slowly toward the group of friends.
Eddy moved first. Patrick wanted to tell him not to do something stupid, but when he opened his mouth, he couldn’t speak. It all happened so fast.
One of the men drew his sword and struck Eddy on the side of the head with the flat of the blade. The blow knocked Eddy to the ground, but it didn’t kill him or knock him unconscious. Eddy rolled, threw his hand up at the side of his head and yelled in pain. Tony and Danny went immediately to the ground to try and help him, and then the two men moved right toward Karen and Erin. Each man took one of the girls by an arm, and pulled them away from the rest of the group. Erin was still holding the backpack, and the man that grabbed her called out to the man in the black robe, “Lord Wallace, this one has a bag. Should we bring it along?”
The man in the black robe turned again, he seemed to have a natural way of controlling his horse that looked as if it was easy for him, or maybe, Patrick thought, he was just a very experienced rider.
When the man in the black robe turned, Patrick noticed that he immediately looked at Eddy, lying on the ground, holding the side of his head, and Tony and Danny on the ground beside him, not at Erin, or the man that had called him.
“Morons!” the man in the black robe shouted. “I said, I specifically asked that you don’t do it here, on the road. It makes an embarrassing mess.” He then turned his horce again adn rode off at a gallup.
During the confusion, Mark took the pack from Erin.
The man that was holding onto Erin looked startled, and nervous, and simply muttered, “Nothing, sir,” and ignored, or forgot about the pack.
Patrick leaned close to Mark and whispered, “What are we going to do?”
Mark turned to Patrick, there were tears in his eyes and all he could do was shake his head. Patrick could see in Mark’s eyes that Mark was as afraid as he was, but neither of them knew what could be done to stop the men from taking Karen and Erin away.
Patrick watched, for a moment, as the men pulled Erin and Karen along down the road toward the castle. He didn’t know what to do, and with each step, as they moved further and further away, he found he was breathing harder and harder.
“You two,” one of the men still by them, still on his horse, pointed at Mark and Patrick, “Pick up that mouse,” he then pointed at Mister Lewis, “ the rest of you, on your feet, and move.” He dug his heels into his horse’s flanks and pushed toward them.
Mark and Patrick each took one of Mister Lewis’s arms, below the shoulder, and easily lifted him from off of the ground. Danny and Tony helped Eddy to his feet, and then Patrick saw that there was blood on Eddy’s hair.
There were four men on horses and they formed a line behind them. The group of friends walked, putting their feet out with no idea of where they were going or why this was happening.
Patrick turned his head, and to his surprise Erin was turning her head as well. They looked at each other from across the distance. Patrick smiled, and Erin smiled back, and then, she passed through the gate of the castle and was out of sight.
They kept walking. The horse had fallen behind a ways. It seemed the men on the horses were talking about how they were going to kill them, Patrick and his friends, who was going to do it, and even began talking about things they might do that Patrick was sorry he overheard.
When they reached the open metal gates, Mister Lewis began to come around, and started taking steps of his own. Mark and Patrick were leading, and Danny, Tony, and Eddy were behind them.
“Now, run!” Danny shouted.
Patrick was startled, but he felt Eddy push him from behind, and turned his head just in time to see that Tony and Danny, who had been moving slowly to the sides of the road, ran for the open gates and to Patrick’s surprise they pulled the gates closed behind them. There was now a barrier between them and the horsemen, but Patrick new it would not be of much help. The horsemen would just go around the large stone towers and catch them on the other side.
Mark took off in a run, and Patrick, still helping Mister Lewis, tried to pull him along. Ahead of them, not a hundred yards, was the edge of a forest. Danny, Eddy, and Tony sprinted past, and Patrick wondered how they could get away, but when he turned back again to see what the horsemen were doing. He was surprised, again. The men seemed to be losing control of their horses, or arguing, because instead of going around the towers, they were moving around in confused circles by the gate.
Patrick pulled at Mister Lewis, “Move! Run, you’ve got to run,” Patrick shouted at the man.
Mister Lewis stumbled and fell. Patrick let go of him, and ran, but he only ran a couple of steps before he stopped, turned quickly and went back for Mister Lewis, who was scrambling to get on his feet.
When Patrick reached him,he leaned over and extended his hand. Mister Lewis took the hand and was pulled forcefully up onto his feet.
“Why are you helping me?” Mister Lewis asked as he came next to Patrick.
Patrick looked at Mister Lewis and shrugged, and then ran for the trees.
I am sooooo ready to write the next scene, but I don't want to overwhelm anyone.
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The first thing that Erin noticed, as she was dragged across the drawbridge of the castle, was how familiar it all seemed. There were the murder holes in the ceiling, the arrow loops in the walls of the gate house, then the open space of the castle, with the chicken coop in the far right corner, just where is should be, next to the kitchen. The man in the black robe, one of the men had called him Lord Wallace, had ridden ahead of them, and his horse was tied to a low wooden fence near the tower on the right. Everything seemed familiar.
But how? How could she know this place, and then she remembered. It was one of five castles she’d written about in her journal.
Her journal! Where was her journal now? The last time she saw it it was just before the flash of the green light. Patrick had it in his hand.
Patrick was jumping over the couch, bumped into Karen and almost fell on the floor, and he dropped the journal, right on her father’s feet.
That was the last time she saw it.
And this castle, which one was it again, she thought hard for a moment, and then remembered, Anaval Castle, the original home of the Knights of Anaval, a secret order of good deed doing women warriors, who lived secluded in this castle, but then there was a war, and the evil Queen, Delisandra, took the castle, and drove the women knights into the forest.
The evil queen, was her mother the evil queen that her father was talking about? No, that just didn’t make sense. Queen Delisandra was a wicked, and beautiful, tall and raven haired woman who knew dark magic and made friends with evil dragons. Erin’s mother was short, like Erin, and had blond hair, and though she wasn’t an unattractive woman, she certainly wasn’t as beautiful as Erin had described Delisandra. Then again, her mother’s name was Sandy.
They were dragged across the courtyard, and through a large wooden doorway, with the door opened wide, and two guards, men like the two men who were dragging them, standing at the door to keep it opened.
Lord Wallace’s voice came out of the room beyond, shouting at the guards, “Close the door, and leave us alone.”
He was standing, but sort of bent over, near a large fireplace against the far wall of the room. There were three doors in the room, one on either side of the fireplace, and one in the wall to the right of the fireplace.
The large wooden door closed behind them, and the room became darker. The only light in the room came from the fire that Lord Wallace was stoking with a long metal tool.
“Welcome ladies, girls, to my house,” Lord Wallace said as he straightened up and turned around. “Let’s get right to it, shall we. One of you is the Daughter of Delisandra, obviously. She tried to hide it, in her own way, I can see that, but it is definitely one of you, so, which one of you is it?”
“Don’t tell him anything,” Karen said through her teeth.
The guard holding Karen stepped to the side and slapped her, hard across the face.
Erin cringed, and then her mouth dropped open when Karen, hardly affected by the blow at all, kneed the man in the groin, causing him to lose his grip on her, and then she punched him, upwards, with her right fist, knocking the man backward off of his feet. She tried to turn, quickly, but was caught off guard by the other man, who hit her, driving his fist into her stomach, causing her to drop to the floor on one knee.
“Are you kidding me?” Lord Wallace said, as he folded his arms across his chest. “Boys, is she going to kick your asses? Is the girl going to beat you up right in front of me? Take her in the other room and straighten her out. I’ll talk to this one first.”
The two men took Karen by the arms, she struggled, only slightly, and then they hauled her off to the right. They stopped at the door. One of the men punched Karen in the stomach again, and then opened the door. The second man shoved Karen into a dark room beyond, they followed her and then the door was closed.
Erin was alone.
“Now, young lady,” Lord Wallace said and turned his back on Erin, lifting a log from a metal bin on the wall near the fireplace and throwing it on the fire. He went on, raising his voice just slightly so that she could still hear him, “You’re friend. Is she your friend? Is going to be treated very badly, and the same could happen to you, unless you tell me what I want to know. I’ll ask you again to tell me –“
There was a loud sound from the room where Karen had been taken. It sounded like a large piece of furniture being dragged across the floor.
The sound startled Lord Wallace, who turned back toward Erin with an evil smile on his face.
“You hear that, this is the kind of thing that can –“
Then there was loud crash. And then another. Something large and made of pottery, most likely, had been broken. The smile went away from Lord Wallace’s face. He waited. There were no more sounds from the other room, and then he tried to go on, “Maybe we can talk about –“
Something, or someone was thrown at the door where Karen was. The door buckled and the sound seemed to really annoy Lord Wallace.
“Okay, this is ridiculous. How hard can it be, really,” Lord Wallace was saying as he strode across the room toward the door.
When he reached the door, he waited, and listen for a moment. It was quiet. He turned to Erin, smiled, and then reached for the door handle.
But before his hand touched the handle, the door swung violently toward him, striking him fully in the face and knocking him down, behind the door.
Karen came running out of the room, and right toward Erin.
She was bloodied, and she looked like she had been hit in the face, but she was smiling, and when she got to Erin, she threw her hands around Erin’s shoulders, squeezed her tightly, quickly, and then with her hands on Erin’s shoulders, she asked, out of breath, “Where’s that oily looking guy in the robe?”
Erin pointed to the floor, behind the door.
Karen ran back to the door, picked up the unconscious man, dragged him into the room beyond, and then came back, slammed the door shut, found a chair that was innocuously placed in the far corner of the room, and wedged it under the door handle.
Erin watched her moving around with amazement.
“What happen to the other guys?” Erin asked.
“I beat the s+&$ out of them,” Karen smiled. “I don’t think they even know how to fight, you know, like, any kind of way at all. They’re just big and tough, but stupid. Now let’s get out of here.”
“But, how?” Erin said as Karen pulled her toward the door they had come in through.
Karen stopped, put her hands on her hips and stretched her back as she gulped for air. “Well,” she said between breaths, “When I wanted to start college my parents made me take a self defense course at their gym over the summer. I loved that class. Master Kevin said I was a natural. Now go,” she pushed Erin forward, but Erin planted her feet.
“No,” Erin said. “Not that way, guards remember, and they’ve probably already raised the drawbridge.”
She looked around the room again, closed her eyes and made a humming sound, and then her eyes snapped open, and she said, “Quick this way,” as she ran for the door on the left of the fire place. “We have to go through the castle to a secret passageway that leads to an escape tunnel. I know the way.”
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So, does anybody want to know what happens next? I had this scene in my mind for about a week now, and it was driven, mostly, by the recent discussions of the role of female players and characters in the kinds of games we like to play. I hope I incorporated some of the things that were talked about.
Does anyone have anything to say about the female characters? Am I hitting any marks at all? or is it too soon to get any impression at all?
Patrick ran. He didn’t look back to see if Mister Lewis was keeping up. Ahead of him he could see Mark, and he was gaining on him, easily. Mark couldn’t run, not really, but for as big as he was, he was certainly trying.
Ahead of Mark, to the left, Eddy was slowing down, and Danny and Toni tried to help him along, but they were still moving faster than Mark.
The trees were only a few yards away. Patrick wanted to look back. He wanted to see the men on the horses coming after them, and for a strange reason he believed that if he knew they were right behind him, it could, somehow, make him run faster, but before he could turn his head Mark came to a sudden stop in front of him. They were only a dozen feet from the trees.
Patrick stopped, and watched as Danny, Eddy and Toni continued on, at a slow jog, into the forest.
“Mark, let’s go, no stopping now,” Patrick said as he came up along side of his friend.
Mark turned to look at Patrick, his face was drenched with sweat, and he was breathing hard. Mark held out the backpack he was carrying, Erin’s backpack, and tried to get Patrick to take it. Just then Mister Lewis ran passed them and didn’t look back.
Patrick didn’t take the backpack, but pushed Mark’s arm down, and then looked back and saw, to his amazement that the men back at the gate had not gone around the towers to either side, and instead one of the men had dismounted and was opening the gate for the others. The others waited for the one who dismounted to get back on his horse before the four of them all spurred their horse out through the gate and toward them. Patrick did not understand the reason for this at all, but he knew he had to get mark moving again. They were just a few yards from the tree line.
The forest ahead of them was thick. The trees were large, with trunks three to five feet in diameter and set closely together. The trees were tall as well, and their branches choked with leaves, blocking out the light of the sun. From where Patrick was standing he could only see a few feet into the tree line before it grew shadowy and dark, but as frightening as that could have been, one thing was clear. The horses would not be able to ride at a gallop into those trees.
“Mark, come on, let’s keep going,” Patrick pleaded.
“I can’t, I can’t, go anymore. Go on,” Mark huffed between breaths.
“No way in hell,” Patrick finally shouted, and took Mark by the arm and pulled him in a lumbering stagger toward the trees. “We are not stopping now.”
They moved, one step, and then another, and then another until Mark was again picking up his feet and running again.
Once they were into the forest proper, Patrick shouted, “Danny, Eddy, where are you guys?”
“This way, hurry,” Toni’s voice called back from somewhere to the left.
From above, through the trees, an occasional shaft of golden light stabbed down at the ground creating small pockets, small circles where Patrick could see that the ground was thick with fallen and decaying leaves. Roots, gnarled and twisted, broke out of the piles in places and warned him that running now was not a good idea. He walked, slowly, lifting his feet high with every step, and continued to drag Mark along as he kept calling out for Toni, “I’m here. We’re trying to find you, keep talking.”
“You are almost here I can see you,” Toni called, and then said, “Can you see me.”
Patrick stepped around a large tree and saw Toni, thirty feet ahead of him. She was standing on a particularly large root, and waving her arms over her head. When she saw that Patrick waved back to her, she jumped down, to the other side of the root, and disappeared for a moment, and then her head appeared above the root and she waved again.
“There’s a low space over here we can hide,” Toni called.
Patrick glanced back toward the edge of the forest but could see no sign of the four horsemen, or Mister Lewis.
Mark reached the large root, spun around and rested his back against it as he said, “You go ahead, I’ll be over as soon as I catch my breath.”
“No, you go first. Here, Toni heads up.” Patrick said taking the backpack from Mark and throwing it over the root, “I’m going to help Mark climb over so make room.”
The sound of someone shuffling quickly across the ground came back from the other side of the root, and then the sound of the backpack hitting the ground followed.
Patrick put his hands out, fingers laced together, for Mark to step into. Mark silently followed Patrick’s instructions and climbed up and onto the top of the root until he was sitting with his legs hanging toward Patrick. Mark swung around, and then Patrick watched as he slid off the root and heard him land on the ground beyond. Checking behind him, as far in the distance as he could see, Patrick looked for the men who had followed them, but still there was no sign of them. He then reached up, found a handhold, and climbed over the root.
The other side of the root appeared to be a large hole, surrounded by similar huge and twisted roots. Off to the right Patrick finally saw the tree that owned these roots. It was massive and the trunk had to be twenty feet in diameter at least. The branches of this enormous tree were dozens of feet over their heads. Then Patrick noticed that Eddy was lying on the ground, on his back, with his arms at his sides and his eyes were closed.
“Is he, is he okay?” Patrick asked trying to step to the side of the hole. It wasn’t a very large hole, and they were all standing close together.
“I don’t know,” Danny whispered. “He made it here on his own but as soon as we got in this hole he collapsed.”
Toni kneeled down and as she did she pulled Mark by the arm so that he was knelling beside her. “Lift him, carefully, by the shoulders,” Toni said.
Mark slide his hands under Eddy’s shoulders and raised him up out of the leaves in the bottom of the hole.
Toni put her hands, gently, on either side of Eddy’s head and began to slowly move her fingers along his head from the front to the back. She grimaced, suddenly, and pulled her left hand away. It was covered in blood. As carefully as she dared, Toni tuned Eddy’s head to the left, and leaned close to look.
“Oh, God,” Toni breathed. “It’s a huge gash and it’s oozing blood, right behind his ear.”
“What do we do,” Danny said.
“I don’t know,” Patrick said.
“Somebody, do something,” Toni pleaded.
“Do we have a first aid kit?” Danny asked.
Patrick looked at Danny and shrugged, “No, we don’t have a first aid kit. Don’t be stupid.”
“It wasn’t stupid,” Toni snapped. “It was reasonable question.”
“Well we don’t have one,” Patrick moaned.
“What’s funny?” Patrick Asked.
“I was going to say that a Cure Light Wounds spell would come in real handy about now,” Mark said.
Mark’s hands, holding Eddy by the shoulders, tingled. His face looked as if something had shocked him, and then, a bright blue light flared from underneath Eddy, and Mark, startled, almost dropped him.
“What the f$!” Mark exclaimed.
Patrick lunged backward against the root wall behind him, and Toni leaned away from Eddy, turning her head as she drew a deep breath in through her teeth with a sharp whistling sound.
Eddy’s eyes snapped open and his hand shot up to the side of his head.
“What was that,” Eddy said.
“I think Mark just cast a Cure Light Wounds spell on you,” Danny said as he kneeled down and lowered his head to look at Eddy’s wound. “Yep, it’s healed alright. Closed up and looks like the scar is already forming.”
Danny brushed leaves off his hands and stood up slowly. A smile spread across his face as he said, “This is awesome.”
I would like to thank everyone for the kind comments and encouragement.
It took both of them to pull open the heavy, wooden door. Erin pulled the handle, and when the door was open just par enough, Karen put both hands on it and pulled.
“Are all, of the doors this heavy?” Karen asked.
“I don’t know,” Erin answered. “I never really wondered about it.”
As soon as the door was open just wide enough to let them slip through, they bolted down the hallway beyond.
It was a wide hallway, and there were windows, set high on the left side, that let light shine down and illuminate the way.
“How do you think we got here?” Karen asked as she ran behind Erin.
Erin didn’t answer. She kept going forward. There was no other way to go, until she came to a turn in the hallway, and a door, right in front of them, and stopped.
Again Erin closed her eyes and began to hum, softly.
“What are you doing?” Karin asked.
“Trying to remember,” Erin answered. “My mother used to sing to me before I went to sleep at night. The songs she sang didn’t have words, well, they had nonsense words, sometimes, but mostly she hummed, and when I hum those songs it helps me remember. I wish I had my notebook. Everything is written down in that notebook. But wait,” she said and turned slowly all the way around. “Okay, down this hallway to the right is the chambers of the Gardener and his wife and through this door is the Chapel, yes, I remembered.”
Erin went to the door, and pushed and Karen quickly joined her.
“How can you be sure they aren’t going to know we came this way, and how long do you think we have until the come after us,” Karen asked as the door slowly opened.
Karen pushed through the door, squeezing herself sideways, and then pulled hard on the door from the other side as Erin tried to follow her, but, being slightly larger in some areas, got stuck for just a moment. Karen leaned and grunted as she pulled, and the door finally opened far enough for Erin to come through.
“Well?” Karen asked when she let go of the door and watched how it closed much faster than it opened.
“What I just asked you, and the other thing, in the hall, and your notebook? How do you have a notebook with things about this castle written down in it? And how are we going to keep them from finding us? What are we going to do if we get out?” Karen rattled off as she counted on her fingers all of her questions.
“Why are you asking me?” Erin said.
Karen laughed, “I don’t really know. It just seems like these are the kinds of things you would know. By the way, thanks for, you know, back there, on the street, thanks for not cutting me out automatically. I think that was nice of you.”
Erin walked into the small chapel. The door they had come through was on the side of a raised stone area, and to the right of them there were four small wooden benches. To their left, on the same wall that would be the outer wall of the castle of the hallway where the high windows were, there was a beautiful stained glass window, and in front of the window a square piece of stone about the size of a small computer table. On the square piece of stone there stood a wooden statue.
The statue was of a woman, clad in heavy armor, and holding in front of her a long handled mace, the kind of weapon that is a handle like a baseball bat, but at the end is a huge round ball with studs all over the surface. The head of the mace reached, and rested on the stone square, just between the statues feet. Karen could see that the statue was of a woman, even though the statue wore a full metal helmet, because the chest armor had distinct round areas, for a woman’s body to fit into, and the statue had long flowing hair coming out from under the helmet in the back.
“This is exactly the way it is supposed to be,” Erin said as she ran toward the statue.
“Who is she?” Karen asked, following Erin.
“She is Anaval Maid of Golotha,” Erin said as she examined the head of the mace. “She was a hero from many centuries ago. She won a contest to free her family from slavery when she carved a mace, similar to this one, and used it to break a stone tablet with the rules of the contest written on it. She made the mace from The limb of an oak tree that had been blasted off of a sacred tree by a stroke of lightning during the siege of an older castle that once stood on these grounds, and…”
“Are you kidding me,” Karen said and stuck her fist on her hips. “You couldn’t tell me how long we might have until they come after us, but you’re able to tell me the entire history of this statue?”
“Well, I know about the statue. I wrote it all down, once or twice. I don’t know anything about concussions,” Erin smiled. She moved her tiny hands across the surface of the mace, feeling each of the carved bumps of the surface, and then suddenly, spread her fingers out as far as she could until her fingers were touching eight different bumps all at the same time, and pressed them inward.
With hardly a sound, the stone square and stature slid away from her, and revealed a hole in the floor, and a stairway leading downward.
“We need some light,” Erin said.
Karen stared at Erin for a moment, and then thrust her hand into her pants pocket. She pulled out her Keys.
“This is exactly why I bought this thing on line,” Karen said as she fiddled with a small box attached to her keys. She flipped a short handle away from the box and began cranking it. The box was no larger than a quarter, but as she cranked it, it began to shed a beam of light down into the darkness.
“That’s amazing,” Erin said.
“And Powerful too, but it sort of takes both hands.” Karen said. “So I hope the stairs are easy to climb. You go first.”
The light from the little hand held flashlight/generator, illuminated the way. The stairs were wide, the individual steps shallow and easy.
When they reached the bottom, Erin saw a handle on the right, and pulled it. She then looked back up the stairs and watched as the square stone and stature moved back over the hole.
They were in a round room. The ceiling was low, and there were two openings leading out of the room, one straight ahead of them, across from the stairs, and the other to their left. Between the two openings, there was a bracket, made of black metal, on the wall, and in the bracket was a heavy looking metal rod that looked like a torch, but was not lit.
“Is that a torch?” Karen asked. “I mean does it have oil in it and everything.”
“I don’t know,” Erin answered. “It’s not something I remember writing any details about.”
Karen moved over to the torch, still cranking the flashlight, and then noticed that on the wall behind the torch was a small box with what looked like matches in it. “Hey come here, take this,” Karen said.
Erin rushed over to her and took the flashlight out of Karen’s hands.
For just an instant the room went completely dark, but then Erin figured out how to hold down the trigger of the flashlight while cranking the handle at the same time.
Karen took a match, dragged it along the rough metal of the torch, and smiled when it flared into a bright, strong flame. She reached up and dropped the match into the top of the torch, and with a single sputter and a loud whoosh sound, it roared alive with a strong flame.
“Excellent,” Karen said. “Here give me back my keys. We’ll use this. Now where’s the exit?”
“No,” Erin said as she handed the keys to Karen, who stuffed them into her pocket again. “The exit is a few dozen yards down that tunnel, and under the moat, but we shouldn’t leave until it is dark outside. They’ll know we are still in the castle, and they’ll look everywhere for us, and if they don’t find us, they’ll be watching from the walls to see if we do find a secret way out. At night our chances of getting away are better. I don’t think they’ll find this place. I don’t think they ever found this place, but there is one way to find out,” she said and took the torch from Karen’s hand. “Down this other tunnel, come on follow me.”
Karen followed Erin, who moved quickly down the tunnel on the left. It went straight for a few dozen feet, and then opened up into another round room.
The light from the torch reflected off of four suits of armor arranged on special stands around the room. The armor was shiny, silvery, and engraved with patterns that resembled flowers and vines. Each suit of armor was similar, but as Karen looked around at them she began to see minor differences.
And at each suit of armor there was another stand. On these other stands there were weapons. At each of the four suits of armor there was a different weapon. The weapons were a spear, a mace, a bow, and a sword.
Patrick turned his head and gave Danny a perplexed look.
“What are you talking about, awesome, are you crazy? This doesn’t make any sense,” Mark said.
Toni laughed. She began laughing with little hiccup like sounds. Then her laughter began to change. She began to huff, and cough, and the sounds she was making changed from laughter to sobs. Toni fell to her knees and balled, crying so hard that her shoulders were shaking.
Patrick went to her side and awkwardly put his hand on her back, saying, “Hey, it’s okay. We’re okay.”
“Okay,” Toni sobbed. “How, how, how is it Okay? Where are we? What’s going on? I want to go home.”
Patrick didn’t know what else to say, and turned to look at Mark to ask for help, but Mark was shaking.
“Mark, is everything alright?” Patrick asked.
“I don’t know, man, man this is, this is so, I don’t know what were supposed to do. I don’t know what’s going on. What are we supposed to do?” Mark tried to get to his feet, but when his foot slipped on the leaves in the bottom of the hole they were in, he gave up, and fell onto his rear, sitting next to Eddy.
Danny got back down on one knee and helped Eddy to sit up.
“Hey, everyone, take a breath, okay,” Eddy said. “Thanks,” he added quickly to Danny. “I’m okay, you guys are okay, so everybody take a breath and calm down. We’ll figure out where we are and what we’re supposed to do, right, I mean right?”
They all looked, each of them, from one to another. Toni’s eyes were wet, her face streaked with tears, but she tried to smile.
“I’m sorry,” Toni said. “Does anyone have a phone? I need to call my parents.”
Danny fished his phone out of his pocket as fast as he could.
“There isn’t a signal,” Danny said, and held down the end call button to shut his phone down.
“What are you doing?” Eddy asked seeing what Danny was doing.
“Shutting it off,” Danny answered. “I’ll try again when we get away from these trees. We don’t know how long this is going to take, so, you know, I want to make the battery last as long as I can.”
“Good idea,” Patrick said and stopped rubbing Toni’s back. He got out his own phone, and shut it down. “Mark, you should turn yours off too.”
“I left my phone in the car,” Mark said. His voice was distant.
“Mark, it’s going to be okay,” Patrick said.
“Is it?” Make said. “Does anyone know where my father went? Did anyone see what direction he went? He’s the only one of us who knows anything about what is going on, and he isn’t here.”
“I guess we’ll have to start looking for him,” Danny said.
“What about those guys, on the horses?” Toni said, and tried to stand up. She had trouble getting her feet to stop sliding around, and Patrick took her arm to steady her.
“If they come after us, are they going to try and kill us? Are we going to have to fight them?” Toni said once she was standing on her own.
“I think we’ll have to try and fight them,” Danny said.
It was quiet. Danny looked at Patrick, and Patrick opened his eyes wide, not knowing what to say, when suddenly, Mister Lewis fell into the hole right next to Patrick and Toni.
He scrambled, for a moment, rolled over on his back, looked up at Patrick and said, “They’re gone.”
Mark and Danny were startled, but Eddy quickly asked, “What do you mean, they’re gone?”
“They ran off, naturally, as soon as they showed up,” Mister Lewis said, rolling his eyes upward. But none of them noticed he had looked up, so he lifted his arm and pointed to the tree above them and went on to say, “As soon as they showed up, the guards ran off, and probably are still running, which probably won’t do them any good.”
Patrick looked up and saw a dozen small women standing on various branches in the tree. They were dressed in browns and greens, looking a lot like Robin Hood’s Men. They had their faces covered with cloths, and hoods over their heads. They had bows and arrows, the women in the tree. Large bows with long arrows, all of them pointed down into the hole where the five of them, and Mister Lewis were hiding.
“Well that means that they either never found this passage or they are not very smart,” Erin said as she moved toward the center of the room.
Karen followed her for a few steps. The light from the torch Erin was holding lit up the whole of the room, which couldn’t be more than fifteen feet across.
“What are they?” Karen asked.
“These are the suits of armor and weapons of the Paladins of Anaval. There were four of them, four women, and they pledged their lives to following the example set by Anaval, remember, the statue in the chapel in the castle. Well, these women lived in a time after Anaval and they built this castle, founded the Knights of Anaval, I remember so much about them, more than most of the things because so many of the stories written in my journal have a reference to these women. It’s like they play an important part of almost everything about this world. Here let me show you each one of them,” Erin said moving toward one of the suits of armor.
“This was the armor of Julianne Paxiel,” Erin said pointing to a suit of armor. “She carried a spear, and the spear was called, ‘Nightbane’. And this one,” Erin rushed toward the next suit of armor, “is the armor of Gathelma Whone, and she carried the mace called, ‘Pounder’. And that one is the armor of Farrah Halodan,” Erin pointed across the room, “and by it is the great sword, ‘Palaver’. And the last one is the armor of Katherine Marlowe, with the great bow, “Windcutter’.”
“So all this stuff has been down her for how long?” Karen asked. She reached out with her right hand and touched the breastplate of the Armor of Julianne. It felt warm, not cold like she expected. She leaned close and examined the armor and saw that there was a heavy cloth, a kind of padding under the armor supporting it on the wooden stand.
“I don’t know,” Erin said. “I don’t know what time, I mean when, I mean I don’t know when it is right now in this word. I only know that this castle was built four hundred years before Queen Delisandra drove the Knights of Anaval out of it, and this room, this armor and these weapons, belonged to the women who founded the order and they were placed down her for safe keeping. Oh, and one more thing. I know that if the Queen, or any of those people in the castle above us knew that this stuff was still down here, they would have come and taken it right away.”
“Why is that?” Karen asked as she hesitated to touch the wooden handle of the spear setting in the rack next to the armor.
“Because,” Erin said as she came slowly closer to Karin. “All of this stuff is magical. It’s all enchanted. Some people say that these things actually contain a part of the spirits of the women who used them, and that anyone who wields these weapons or wears this armor is practically unstoppable.”
Karen turned. Her mouth hung open and her eyes were wide.
“Seriously?” Karen breathed.
“Well, that’s what I wrote in my journal, about this stuff anyway. I don’t know what it does, or how it works, but the stories all say this stuff is very powerful.”
“Well, that’s awesome,” Karen said and stepped back from the armor half a step. “This one was kind of short.”
Karen walked around the room gently touching all of the armor and carefully lifting each of the weapons. The sword was in a sleeve made from hard leather and capped at the end with silver. Erin told her that it was called a scabbard, but Karin said she already knew what it was called and that when she first started playing Pathfinder with the others she became interested in ancient weapons and armor, and knew a little about each of the things in the room. Karen examined each suit of armor. She noticed the small differences between each suit. How one suit was more ‘chain mail’ than the rest, and that only one suit was actually a full suit of plate mail.
“So,” Karen said after a few minutes, “You think it’s safe for us to rest down here. Let me see what time it is.” She reached for her phone, and said, “It’s one-thirty-five now. I can set my alarm for nine o’clock. It should be dark by then. We can try to sleep, and then together we can sneak out of here and find the others.”
Erin came close to Karen and looked up are her sideways.
“You’re taking this awfully well,” Erin said.
Karen smiled, and then let out a stifled laugh, “So are you. Don’t you think? You know it’s a bit weird, but I don’t feel, you know, strange, or anything unusual. I don’t feel like anything huge has changed. I mean, I don’t know if I understand what’s going on, how we got here, why we came here, damn I’m really trying hard not to try and figure out where here is at all, but yeah. I’m not afraid. Are you?”
“Yeah, I am. But, uh, never mind.”
“No, it’s okay,” Karen said taking a step closer to Erin. “You can tell me. I won’t tell anyone else. I know we just met, but if you are friend of the others then you must be pretty cool. What are you afraid of?”
“I’m sort of,” Erin said, “Well, sort of afraid that this isn’t as real as I hope it is,” and she laughed. “That’s kind of silly I guess. Hey, forget about it. Let’s try and get some rest.” Erin walked over to the rack where the mace was hanging. Took the large weapon out of the rack and placed the torch in its place and then went to the wall behind the armor of Gathelma, and sat down with her back to the wall and put her head on her knees.
“Okay,” Karen said as she set the alarms on her watch. She set two alarms, one for seven o’clock, and the second for Nine.
When nine o’clock finally came, Karen gently prodded Erin with her foot to wake her up.
When Erin finally lifted her head, rubbed her eyes and looked up, she gasped.
Karen had taken the extra time she gave herself by setting her earlier alarm to go through each of the suits of armor and find pieces that could fit her height, weight, and figure. She wore the breastplate from one suit, the waist and leggings from another, the arms from a third, and the boots from the last suit. And that was not all. Karen had strapped the scabbard of the great sword to her back, fastened the handle of the mace to her belt, and in her right hand she had the great bow while in her left was the spear.
“Do I look Okay?” Karen asked smiling broadly.
“What did you do?” Erin asked getting to her feet. “Why did, what are you going to do with all that stuff?”
“I was thinking you could carry the bow, until we can get it strung, and we don’t have any arrows so it isn’t all that useful anyway. And I can carry the rest. It isn’t heavy at all. I just wish I had a helmet.”