(part 2) [Karyn]<--Back Forward-->
Back in the forge room, Karyn had gotten the idea to use some of the armour to disguise themselves as best they could. Choosing a few pieces for herself and her companions, she did her best to coach them as to how to get past the guards 'in plain sight.'
"Just act like you're supposed to be here." she said. "Stay calm. If anyone questions us, let me do the talking."
She had taken a rusty old jerkin and helmet for herself, and, using a long strip of cloth she found to bind her chest, made herself appear as a young man. It was one of her stock-in-trade characters she used as an actor.
"Everybody ready? Let's go."
Sammel shrugged himself into his purloined armor, trying to settle the ill-fitting jerkin on his shoulders. "You too, Chaer," he said as he selected a bow and quiver full of arrows. "You'll be needing it."
Chaer grimaced, but he started picking through the pile of armor and clothes. He selected a pair of leather pants (with a padded codpiece) and a leather jerkin. Two bandoliers filled with knives completed his arming.
The three of them slipped out of the room into a short corridor. At the entrance to the courtyard, they stopped, huddling in the shadows. As they scouted around with eyes and ears, Chaer could hear Elwynn's soldiers still singing loudly. He wondered, briefly, what under the waves a "macarena" was.
Sammel, who prided himself on his night vision, turned to Karyn and Chaer. "Most of the guards are up on the walls," he whispered. "There are a few walking around down below, but the only ones who are stationary are guarding that southeast tower. Perhaps because there's something worth guarding there?" He bared his teeth in a slightly feral grin, anxious to finally strike a blow, but waiting for Karyn's input.
Brea was so absorbed in watching the guards milling around both the opposite walls and the courtyard below, that she almost didn't catch Tak's remarks about her performance. At the mention of ale, however, she turned a questioning look to her companion. She barely had time to think of a response before he quickly returned to the job at hand and began to head down the stairway. Turning to follow, she found herself smiling, despite the news of the guards untimely disappearance. As the sound of voices drifted up the stairwell, she decided to save a reply for later, when it wouldn't mean risking their mission, as well as their lives.
The two shadowy intruders made it down the stairs to a fairly large room, and slipped into the shadows. The room was about the width of the drawbridge. Two thick chains came out of the exterior wall and was wound around two 4 foot high wooden reels. Each reel was bolted to floor by six huge bolts. The drawbridge was raised by two six foot wide ship's "steering wheels" (one on each side, of which 1/3 of the wheel disappeared into slits cut out of floor).
The drawbridge was held up by a metal arm that caught grooves into the metal axle of the contraption. When the drawbridge was raised, it gave the familiar metal clicking sound (common to most drawbridges). Moreover, that metal arm could be released by a lever (either held by hand or a rope) that too was bolted to the floor. However, upon being released there is a "counter" arm that catches another set of grooves on the axle (independent of the lever). This set of grooves and arm, keeps the drawbridge from coming down to fast when the lever is released. Obviously, this would make the bridge slightly harder to raise.
To solve that problem, there were three muscular guards on each side of the contraption in the room. They were watching the more guards go up and down the stairs.
"We better be careful." "They could already be in here." "You think this is another drill."
Those were some of the voices that the two intruder overheard from various guards. However, one of them caught Takayoshi's ears as he overheard a guard taking order from another, slightly older one.
"I want to make sure that we have some guards posted around Kieraan's private room. Got that soldier?", spoke the older one.
"Yes I did sir, but..."
"But what soldier?" the older one started to fume out.
"Where is he at, sir, I am fairly new, sir!"
"He holding a VIP prisoner up in the southeast tower on the second floor!" the older yelled, "You got that soldier!!"
"Y-Yes sir," quivered the younger one as he turned around and set out to follow his orders.
"@#!%$@. Why I am stuck with these morons!!" the older asked to himself before he too left.
"That's where Kierran is holding her. So either we can lower the drawbridge or we can help rescue her or..." the ninja paused for a small dramatic (yet humorous) effect as his hidden smile shone through his voice.
"...or...we can do both. What do you say, Brea?" his voice was hinting that he liked THIS suggestion best of all.
Brea bit her lip, unsure of which was the better plan. Although she could tell by his tone which was Tak's choice and wanted to agree, she was concerned about Melyda. She eyed the guards around the drawbridge and then looked off towards the Southern Tower. "Actually, I think we should get to Melyda as quickly as possible. I've got a bad feeling," she whispered before worriedly chewing her bottom lip. She looked again at the Southern tower. "It's up to you though."
"Uh, cousin?" the Queen said to Elwynn, "I think you might have forgotten this, but the Treaty of Anaxar specifically forbids the use of the 'Macarena' during siege operations."
"Let's check out this tower." Karyn said. "But very casually...just follow me and do what I do."
She led her friends up the stairs and into the courtyard, striding right past a couple of guards who were sharpening their weapons.
"I can't take it, Vorith!" the first guard, a tall, husky fellow, said. "I tell ya I can't take it. I mean, there's suffering the slings and arrows and all that....that just goes with the job. And the kidnapping....well that's the boss' business I suppose....but this! This is downright inhumane!"
"I know, I know!" the other guard agreed as he ran a whettling stone over his notched blade. "Them elves, they'll hit you with everything they have. Now look at poor Waven, up there on the wall...he's just gone to pieces."
Up on the wall a small, nervy looking archer was shooting frantically through an arrow slit.
"Stop it! Stop it I tell you! STOP IT!!! By all that's holy NO! They're dancing....THEY'RE DANCING!!!!"
Elwynn, Talia, and several of the elves were standing at the edge of the moat. Oblivious to the badly aimed arrows and shouts and curses from the walls, the elves had set up a sort of picket/macarena line and were dancing and singing happily, their good cheer undiminished by the fact that none of them knew all the words to the song.
"Something-something-something-something do the mac-a-rena! Tra-la-la-la something-something do the mac-a-rena!"
The archer, his quiver of arrows spent, collapsed in a heap and stopped his ears.
"We'd better hurry." Karyn said. "I'm starting to feel sorry for these fellows. Have you ever heard of a human called Tom Jones? Elwynn has a complete library of his music. Let's go before she starts playing any of it."
Chaer watched the archer's antics with interest. While he didn't much like what was being sung--actually, he didn't really like *any* drylander music-- he'd never seen such an extreme reaction. He glanced over at Sammel, who was quivering with supressed laughter. 'Drylanders,' Chaer thought with a mixture of exasperation and amusement.
"I *really* wish I could see Kieraan's face right now," Sammel whispered. "He's got to be wondering what he's gotten himself into by now."
Sammel sobered, however, as they neared the entrance to the tower. He had little doubt that they'd find Kieraan with Melyda; so, if he was correct in thinking that Melyda was being held in this tower, they'd very soon be facing a mage of still largely unknown powers. He wasn't about to let that deter him, though. He put on an expression of irritation and some fear--the sort of expression many of the mercanaries had, as they approached the guards who were standing at the entrance. Inside, though, he was calm and ready to face anything that might happen.
Sitting in Melyda's room, listening to the loud din of Elwynn's musical bombardment, Kieraan smiled thinly.
"So, they expect to rattle us with this noise, eh?" He said. "Well, my dear, I think it is time I returned the favor and gave our guests a proper greeting."
On the third finger of his right hand, the sorcerer wore a large silver ring set with a deep blue stone. Raising his hands to his chest he rubbed the stone slowly with the palm of his other hand and uttered a few low words of power. There was a bright flash, and there appeared a strange, etherial creature, seemingly formed from a cloud of blue smoke. His facial features were human in appearance, as were the upper part of his body, but the lower half wavered and twisted in misty blue tendrils. The creature placed its hands on its hips (close to where its torso ended and the smoke began,) and said in an annoyed voice, "What? What do you want now? You've got me for two more summons and then I'm outta here, Jack! So what do you want? I've got better things to do than float here and wait..."
"Silence, Aerial Servant!" Kieraan said, "While the summoning holds, you are mine to command. Such was our agreement. Now listen! Beyond this keep, there lies a besiging army! I command you to disperse it! Now go!"
"Yeesh, what a grouch!" The Aerial servant said. "Who's the babe? Your daughter?"
"OUT!!!" Kieraan cried.
"Okay, okay, I'm going."
"Watch the mirror, my dear," Kieraan said. "You might find this entertaining."
The servant flew out of the window and circled above the keep for a moment, getting his bearings. Then he swooped down on the soldiers, panicking horses, and blazing away with bolts of blue light from his hands. The elves were expecting a magical attack and dove for cover immediately, answering the servant's fire with blazing magical arrows of their own. The servant dodged the barrage and continued his attacks, although after the first flight of arrows he made his runs from a higher altitude.
At the first sight of the Aerial servant, Elwynn bounded onto the carpet and, taking only a moment to pull her flight goggles to her face and wrap her white silk aviator's scarf around her neck, pushed the throttle forwards (the controls of the carpet were invisible, but the elf did not seem to have any problems finding them) and lifted off.
"Tally ho!" she cried.
Below her, the megaphone devices planted around the keep automatically switched to Elwynn's "Aerial Combat" music. As the "Ride of the Valkyries" blared in everyone's ears, the elf-maid and her carpet engaged the Aerial servant at about five hundred feet above the ground.
What followed was an interesting example of differing aerial capabilities. Elwynn's carpet was undoubtably faster, and the one or two bolts which the Aerial servant managed to connect with seemed to have little effect on the elf maid. On the other hand, the Servant had far better manouvering capabilities, and Elwynn found it difficult to get her sights on the creature. Each time she made a pass the Servant was usually able to turn out of the way, but finally she managed to connect with a flame bolt which shot out of her fingers, and the Aerial Servant made the mistake of pulling up and trying to outclimb the elf-maid. Elwynn stayed on the Servant's tail, firing all the way, until at last she connected with a long burst, which sent the creature spiralling down towards the ground. The servant pulled up at less than a hundred feet, turned and dashed for the keep with the elf in close pursuit.
Somehow the Servant managed to slip into Melyda's window and collapsed at Kieraan's feet. Outside, the elf-maid circled, hollering over the din of the music.
"Come out and fight, Kieraan! You can't hide behind your lackeys forever! Come out and fight! Whats the matter? Can't you fly? I'll lend you a broomstick! Come out!"
The Servant, panting, rose above the ground and glared evilly at his master.
"You poshrat! You didn't tell me that was Elwynn Evindem out there!"
"What is the matter with you?" Kieraan shouted, "She's just a scatter- brained elf maid! A hedge-magician's chimpanzee could take her out!"
"Oh yeah?" the Servant hollered back, "Well, YOU go out there and fight her then! My contract specifically states that I can refuse orders that can get me killed! You want to get rid of her? Do it yourself!"
"I have more pressing matters to attend to." Kieraan said, glancing at Melyda. "You will wait here. I shall have need of my final summons very shortly."
"Yeah, whatever." the Servant said. He floated over to a corner, folded his arms and glared at the window. "But if you want my advice you'll give up now."
Melyda did indeed watch the aerial battle with interest. She'd heard some stories about Elwynn at the Bard's celebration--had that really only been last night?--and now she got to see her in action. Melyda had had the feeling that Keiraan was underestimating Elwynn, and the battle proved it. She couldn't repress a cheer as Elwynn drove the Servant back into the room, and she grinned at Elwynn's taunt.
Her smile faded, though, at Kieraan's glance and his words about her. She gulped and shrank back a bit, but then steeled herself and returned his gaze levelly. 'This is it,' she thought as she looked at his malevolent expression. 'He knows he's got to get me to remove that spell now, or he likely won't win this battle. This is not going to be pleasant.' There was one hope she clung to--that the noise the elves had produced was designed to cover other activities. She couldn't imagine Sammel and the others *not* using that noise to their advantage. 'Please,' she prayed silently as Kieraan took a step toward her. 'If Sammel's in here, please make him *hurry.*'
Meanwhile, back in the large room, Takayoshi heard Brea's answer, and felt the same way as she did. However, the more he studied the room and guards the more confident he was as to dipose of them and to lower the drawbridge. He looked back over to Brea and to the entrance of the stairwell. Upon seeing no more guards in the entrance, he looked over to Brea.
"I will be back, Can you keep an eye on the stairs for me?" the ninja told Brea, and then disappeared.
The now unseen killer walked over to where the first three guards, who were standing and talking about the surprise turn of events at the Ye Old Keep.
The ninja got closer and closer, as he put his hand on his magical katana. The pure rush of fighting was starting to get him again, as he was within striking distance.
With a quick fluid motion the ninja hacked at the first gaurd, who fell down lifeless. The now visible ninja frightened the other two guards who were standing trying make sense to this initial attack. So, by the time the guards realized what was going on, their lifeless bodies slumped to the floor.
"Stop him!!!" said one of the last three remaining guards, as the other two unsheathed their longswords.
"I like to see you try," the ninja replied, as he quickly began to hack the nearby chain that helped hold up the drawbridge.
"Please work vorpal," he mentally prayed to his magical weapon. The unintelligent sword responed as its magical blade cut through the chain as though it was butter!
With the severed chain resting part way on the wall and the creeking of the drawbridge (as most of its weight now rested on the other chain), ninja swirled around and ducked under the first guards swing as he proceded to take out his legs. The legless guard then fell to the ground writheing in pain. The ninja then put an end to his life as he kicked the guard's sword over to the other side of the room, and stabbed him in the heart with his katana.
The ninja knew very well that the second guard was going around behind him, as he lifted his sword and blindly stabbed behind him. The ninja knew he killed him, as he heard the second guard gasp for his last breath.
The ninja looked up to the see the third guard heading for the exit. Instinctively, Tak opened his leather pouch and took out two shurikens. The third guard fell dead in his tracks as the two ninja stars found their mark...the back of his head.
The ninja then proceded to again pray to his katana as he proceded to hack the last reamining chain. Again, the sword responed as it cut effortlessy, through the last chain.
The drawbridge sounded as it quickly opened up, an obvious invitation for the elven soldiers outside!
Finally, the ninja went back to where Brea was and got his two shurikens from the dead man, who laid not even 15 feet from the stairway.
"I told I'll be back!" the ninja humorously said, "We must hurry to the southeast tower, best to go down the stairs into the courtyard."
He then proceded to run down the stair.
Brea nodded when asked to watch the stairs, and shook her head with a laugh when Tak disappeared. She knew full well what he was up to, so she decided not to argue. *Let him have his fun.* she thought to herself. Within minutes she heard the "Whoosh, thud" of the drawbridge dropping. She drew her sword and prepared to run for the tower as soon as the ninja reappeared. Then proceeded to follow him to the courtyard, and the tower.
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