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The Song of Steel

Book One - Chapter 19

By W.R. Logan


Copyright 2004 W.R. Logan

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The wand split in half.  A bright light engulfed the hallway and when it faded she was able to move freely.  Darious had used the flash to escape.  With the wand destroyed all its magic was gone.


If she had not seen the fight with her own eyes, she wouldn’t have believed the skill of Jarco’s arm.  The man who had become the laughing stock of the king’s tourneys had just bested two Ronan guards and their captain.  It would make for an unbelievable tale.


Lord Tywell tended to Jarco’s wounds as quick as he could.  There was no time for rest.  Darious would be back with more men.  If they had any chance of rescuing her father and sister they would have to beat them to the war room.  The half-elf had some ideas on how to accomplish that.


Jarco’s shoulder was bound tightly.  The blade had cut all the way through his flesh and come out the other side.  The wound in his leg had turned out to be less serious than she had thought.  The dagger had missed the bone and lost much of its force when Jarco had spun.


“My first war wounds,” Jarco told her.


“If you hadn’t deflected the blow, it would have been your last,” Lord Tywell said.


Jarco picked himself up and limped over to his sword.  Brianna almost laughed as he scanned the blade for any nicks that his throw may have made.  After he was satisfied that the sword was intact, he returned it to its sheath.


“So, what did you name it,” she asked him.


“Smiling Death,” Jarco returned proudly.


“It’s a good name,” Unglar told him.


Brianna had just teasing the jester about naming his weapon.  She hadn’t thought that it would give Jarco the confidence he needed to wield his sword.  The man had studied with her sister for over a year learning every routine she had to offer.  He did the routines perfectly in practice but could never achieve the same result against a live foe.  She couldn’t wait to tell her sister that she had been the one to fix Jarco’s problems.  Brianna loved her sister with all her heart but did so love to best her in any competition.  And to her, everything was a competition.


The clanging of a bell in the castle tower told Brianna that there was no more time for gloating.  The guards would soon come for them.  If they could reach her sister and her father their chances for escape would be greatly improved.  With Caitlin’s steel paired with hers and her father’s magic, Darious would be a fool to try to stop them.


Brianna bid her companions to follow her into a room in the middle of the hall.  The four of them could barely squeeze into the small cubby.  It looked to be one of the many storerooms that spotted the castle but the half-elf knew it’s secret.  She pushed hard on a spot in the corner of the wall.  It swung open to reveal a tunnel leading in three directions.


The girl had no indecisions about which way she needed to go.  The rest of her crew scurried inside and shut the entrance just as the storage door flew open.  The guards knew nothing of the secrets of the ancient castle.  They shut the door oblivious to the presence of four people making their way down the hidden tunnels.


Brianna hated to admit it but she was going to have to think like her sister.  They needed strategy to get them safely to the upper level of the castle.  At every exit to the tunnel they could hear the pounding of armored feet and the slamming of wooden doors.  Darious had his men in full search.


Her instincts screamed at her to rush out and meet her enemy head on but her mind knew better.  This was not a tourney where the loser went home with a bloody lip, in this contest the loser didn’t go home.  There was no one she could turn to for answers.


Unglar had the same instincts as she did.  He was already gripping his ax and fighting the call of blood.  Lord Tywell would be of no help in the matters of war and Jarco barely held on to consciousness.  For all her efforts, every plan that she formulated steered her right back to swordplay.  Maybe she was bullheaded like her sister was prone to calling her.  She missed her sister.


The going was slow.  The passageways had been built for elves and even the half-elf had to bend at the knees to fit.  Only Unglar and Brianna were able to see in the pitch black of the tunnels.  Jarco and Lord Tywell were forced to put a hand against the back in front of them and stumble along.


Brianna had spent her childhood playing in these tunnels.  She knew every secret there was to know about the castle.  Caitlin and Brianna had spent many winters swimming in the hot springs the castle was built upon.  All the council thought that the warmth of the castle was a spell placed by the elves that had built it.  The two sisters had shared a laugh every time someone had commented on the wondrous magic that kept such a large dwelling warm.


Neither of them had found the time to wander the tunnels in many years.  Every step Brianna took brought a new cobweb to her face.  She took out her blade and started using it to tear down the annoying webs before she walked into them.  The maneuver worked somewhat but a few webs still slipped passed.


The constant scraping of Unglar’s armor on the stone of the ceiling worried her.  If the guards discovered the tunnels, it would not only spoil their chances of getting to her father and sister but any chance of escape as well.  The half-ork was already close to crawling so there was nothing she could suggest to fix the problem..  She hoped that the guards were too busy using their eyes to hear the noises behind the walls.


If they were captured, they all knew that there would not be a chance of another escape.  Darious would not be so foolish again.  If Jarco had not fought so bravely back in the hallway, Unglar and Brianna would be dead and Lord Tywell would be awaiting King Geiger’s blade.  If the guards did discover them, they would have no choice but to fight to the death.


Brianna stopped at an exit and placed her ear against the wall.  Her hearing was much more acute than that of a human thanks to her Elvin blood.


The faint sounds of men searching the lower floor were all that could be heard.  She halted her party and slowly slid the entrance open.  The light stung her eyes before they adjusted to the sudden burst of sun.  The door opened into another of the small alcove storerooms.  This one had no door.  It was used to store the many herbs that the king purchased from the ork.  The plants needed extra air to preserve them so the door had been removed.  She had hoped the room was still used for this purpose.


The half-elf bid her party to stay hidden while she slid into the room alone.  She shuffled through the contents of a small cabinet by the open doorway and returned to the tunnel carrying some bottles in her hands.  One she drank herself and then handed two of the same to Jarco.


“Drink it,” she told him, “It will help your wounds.


Jarco drank the thick red liquid and was almost instantly able to put his weight on his injured leg.  Travel would be much easier with the jester knight able to carry himself and Brianna had a feeling the jester’s sword would be needed.


The liquid warmed her inside and spread to the injuries on her back.  Normally she would have used rubbing pumice to prevent her wounds from scarring and then used the healing potion.  But the cabinet had none and she knew she had to be at her best for the sake of her family.  A few scars on her back were the least of her worries.


After the potion had worked its full magic, Jarco removed the bandages on his shoulder.  The area would be sore for some time but he would be able to fight if needed.  Brianna’s back had healed nicely as well.  Only a few of her deeper cuts had scared.


“What is the other potion for,” asked Unglar.


The half-ork was the only one with night vision good enough to see the bottle that the girl had kept.


“This will be our advantage,” Brianna told them not willing to reveal the full of her plan.


She tucked the potion into her belt and continued their journey.  The girl was unsure of her plan and did not want to defend it against any criticism.  It was the only plan she had so it would have to do.


At one point the tunnel narrowed so small that she had to get down on all fours to continue.  Unglar had to lie flat on the floor and be pulled through the smallest part.  But they had made it and to the best of their knowledge had done it undetected.


The slamming of the doors had grown farther away from them and sounded to be moving even further.  Brianna hoped the search would carry as many guards as possible into the next wing on the pointless manhunt.  The more that left, the better their chances of escape.


“How close will this get us to the war room,” asked Jarco.


“Just down the hall,” she answered.  “The closest exit is in the servant’s quarters.”


“That sounds safe,” deducted Lord Tywell, “Nothing to eat or steal.  The Ronan shouldn’t have any interest in there.”


“I hope not,” Brianna said.


The room was empty, as they had hoped.  Brianna was glad when the noise that they had made moving the bed from in front of the secret door had not stirred any attention.  Whatever servant had claimed the room had slid the bed solidly against the exit. 


“Everybody shed your clothes,” Brianna announced.


The command stunned her party and they stood looking at her wide-eyed.


“Come on,” she hurried, “We don’t have all day.”


“I told everyone you were trying to get me naked,” Jarco said jokingly.


“This potion is an invisibility potion,” she explained, “works on flesh but not your clothes.”


“So we are going to run into the war room naked and rescue everyone,” Unglar challenged.


“Well if we go in with our clothes on, I think they might notice them walking around by themselves,” Brianna argued as she unbuckled her breastplate.  “Come on.”


“I don’t mind you undressing like this,” Jarco said, “But I think I would rather be invisible before I get nude.”


The three shared a chuckle at the jester and for the second time today, Brianna was glad to have Jarco along.


“You may be first oh Knight of Modesty,” Brianna told Jarco. “Only one mouthful, anymore and you won’t see your manhood for a month.”


Jarco looked down to his crotch area as he held the bottle to his lips.  A moment of indecision hit him.


“How big of a mouthful should I take,” he inquired.  “My mouth is much bigger than it looks.”


“Just take a drink,” Unglar ordered.


Jarco did as he was told.  Almost as soon as he swallowed, his skin disappeared leaving only his motley colored silks hanging in the air.


The bottle was passed around and returned to Brianna.  She took the last mouthful of the potion and watched as her skin faded from view.  Then she shed the rest of her clothing making sure to put everything together.  If the plan worked she would be in a hurry to get her things and if not, it was always good to have your things in order when you die.





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