Gender: Male Age: 53 Location: Las Vegas, Nv
|Introduction: The Frost Fortress|
I finished packing and slipped the pack on before looking around the room. I left and walked down the narrow stairs and started across the quiet room. I glanced at the corner when a man cleared his throat. He leaned forward, “watch for the dark brothers. They are gathering in the Frost mountains.”
I nodded and continued to the door. This time I was going north through the pass and then all the way across the north plains to the far Frost mountain range. I was going to look over what the elves had once called the Frost Fortress. Unlike Delf the dark brothers had occupied the Frost Fortress as if it had always been theirs.
I was striding through the northern gate when a tall grey haired man joined me, “about time.”
I smiled, “I’m early and you were supposed to meet me at the crossing.”
He chuckled, “I was talking to Gilbert until late.”
I glanced at him, “he still heading home?”
He nodded, “he said something about a campaign against or with his wife.”
I laughed and then smiled as I stepped out with long strides, “I wish him luck.”
Samson had come to the rangers a little late but was a very good stalker. We walked out of the pass and started across the northern plains. It was nothing but rolling hills and stunted trees with regular and constant patrols of foul ones. I wore worg hide moccasins like Samson to cover our scent. We moved mostly during the day and stayed to the low ground.
The closer we came to the Frost mountains the fewer patrols we saw. The ones that were here had twice the number of the other patrols. We had just reached the mountains and made camp in a tiny hidden spot when the patrol of dark brothers came. Samson was in a tree to one side and I turned at the hint of sound.
The six dark brothers came through the brush quietly. I knew it was to late to hide and pulled two throwing spikes and threw. I had been practicing and each one took a brother in the throat. The other four rushed me as I pulled my long knives and stepped into the pattern I had come to know well.
I slipped past one as he lunged and cut his throat while slicing another’s stomach open. I shifted and turned as I changed to another pattern and stabbed a wrist holding a sword. I twisted and ripped it apart as I moved forward and around him to slip my other knife into his side and heart.
The last one dove towards me and I turned and stepped to the side as I brought a knife down. The blade went into the back of the neck and I yanked it out as he fell. Samson had come out of the tree and moved to the ones choking on their own blood. He used his sword to kill both as I looked around.
I knelt to clean my knives while he slipped out to see if there had been any others. I took the frost diamond each wore at their throat and broke their knives and swords. I cleaned my throwing spikes before returning them to their sheaths. Samson returned, “they were alone.”
I nodded, “we will move at night from now on.”
I glanced to the west, “Frost fortress is only a few days from here.”
He grinned, “think we could sneak in?”
I shrugged as I went to grab my pack, “normally I would say no but I have an idea or two.”
We moved deeper into the mountains before turning west. It was harder going but we saw fewer patrols. Three nights later we came to a wide fast moving stream. It was icy cold and I knew it came from a glacier to the north. We followed it south and moved slower until we saw the huge fortress.
The stream turned to follow a cliff with the fortress high above. I was careful as I removed my moccasins and moved into the freezing water. It didn’t take long before our feet were numb but we finally came to a large narrow tunnel emptying out into the stream. I climbed in and Samson followed before we sat and dried our feet and put our warm moccasins back on.
The long climb up the narrow steps was tricky since it was very slippery. Like with Delf there was a system of collection tunnels under the fortress. The practice yard we climbed out into was long abandoned and coated in refuge. I moved towards a side door with Samson following. I pulled the black hilted dagger and quietly opened the door and slipped in.
We could hear the sound of a lot of voices coming from the front hallways. I found a set of stairs up and we moved towards the voices. We stayed in the shadows in an upper galley to watch the thousands of dark brothers in the entrance hall as they talked. I touched Samson and we moved away and back.
It was the hint of sound that made me move quickly. Two dark brothers came around the corner ahead and I crashed into one and stabbed up through his throat and into his brain. I pulled my left hand knife and lashed out in a jab, it took the other brother under the ear. I let him fall as I held the first and looked around.
Samson grabbed the other and we pulled them down the hall and into a side niche. I took the frost diamonds from each and broke their weapons as Samson stood watch. I cleaned my weapons and put the knife away but kept the dagger out. It was another hour before we found a hidden spot to look into the throne room.
An arrogant looking dark brother sat listening to others argue. I moved back, “they are talking about gathering an army to attack Blue Pass.”
Samson nodded and I gestured, “lets see if we can get around behind the throne.”
That was easier said than done, the narrow stairs we found had several dark brothers in it as they talked. We stood just outside in a small alcove as they talked about one of the king’s daughters. She had disgraced him by renouncing the dark path and trying to escape south to the elves. She was locked in a small room above us and at the back of the fortress.
She was to be sold and bred by one of the senior brothers. They finally split up and we slipped into the stairs and down. I checked the hallway before we stepped out and heading back. We moved into another alcove at the sound of feet and watched as a dozen dwarf prisoners were led past, I moved out and up behind the last guard.
I yanked him back as I covered his mouth and shoved the dagger into his brain. I pulled it out and lowered him as the last dwarf looked at me. I started for the front as Samson caught up. There were only two brothers as guards since the dwarves were chained. A few murmured and the dark brother turned right before I reached him.
He jerked back but it was to late, I covered his mouth and I stabbed up and into his heart. I took him to the floor and searched him before finding a key on a chain. I glanced at Samson, “that alcove.”
He nodded as he spun and hissed, “come with us if you wish to live.”
I started pulling the dark brother as he spasmed and once I had him in the alcove I stood. I held out the key to one of the dwarves, “once you are free strip him and take his weapons.”
Samson pulled the other dead guard in and I nodded to the dwarves, “stay with them and I will return.”
He hesitated before nodding and I slipped out. I moved towards the corner and peeked around before moving. Four dark brothers were entering a doorway and I caught up as it closed. I pulled both long knives as I caught the door and followed them in. The last one turned and I shoved my right knife through his neck and up into his brain.
I yanked it out as I went past him and slashed out and to the left with my other knife and cut the next one’s throat. The front two turned and I was stepping into the pattern and stabbed one through his open mouth and the other through the back of his neck as he turned to flee. The room was a small anti chamber and I pulled them to the side where cloaks were hung.
I stripped them before heading towards the inner door and listening. I heard feet just inside the door and opened it and started through. Two brothers were on each side of the door and one died as my knife stabbed under his ear and the other as I stabbed him through the eye. I pulled them both out and stripped them before slipping back into the hall.
I returned to Samson and the dwarves and handed all the clothing and weapons before leaving again. I returned to the inner chamber and glanced at a small ornate chest on the desk and moved to open it. Inside were hundreds of large cut frost diamonds. I cut a piece of hanging curtain on the wall and made a large pouch.
I emptied the chest into the pouch and put it in my pack. I looked at the huge fist sized ruby on the wall to the throne room. I crossed and stared at it before reaching up and pulling as I grabbed it. The world froze and became still, I could hear the loud racing beat of my heart. Pain hit me as if my blood were boiling and my body freezing at the same time.
An eternity later I was just standing there holding the huge stone in my hand and slowly tucked it into my shirt. I went to listen at the other door and could hear the voices in the throne room. They argued about heading south to take Blue Pass and skirmishing south into the human lands. It was several minutes before I heard voices just on the other side of the door.
One was telling another to go take someone call Aveline. I moved to the side so when the door was opened and the four walked in I was behind the door. It was closed and I began moving. I cut the guard’s throat that had closed the door and stabbed the next in the neck as I reached him and went past.
I ripped the knife out and sliced to the right as the third dark brother turned. He staggered and clasped his spurting throat as the fourth spun and started to pull a sword. My left knife came down through the wrist and the right up under the chin and into his brain. I yanked both out and looked around before kneeling by the last one.
He wore a huge frost diamond choker and the two long knives had moon stones hilts. The sword he had tried to pull had dozens of frost diamonds studding the hilt. I took everything and stripped him before stripping the others. I pulled the bodies out and into the entranceway with the others before returning to Samson.
I gave him the clothes and weapons but kept the two long knives with moon stones and the diamond hilted sword. I left and headed towards the stairs with a sense of urgency. Three floors above I heard voices in the hall. A door closed and I peeked out before reaching for the dark brother standing with his back to me.
I caught his head and twisted before letting him fall. I took a couple of steps as the other turned from looking at the closed door. He was startled and reacted to late as I grabbed and twisted in the pattern dance. There was a pop as his neck snapped and I let him fall. I went to pull the other dark brother to the door before hesitating and opening it.
I stepped in and a well dressed and bejeweled dark brother turned and snarled. He died as I struck into his throat and turned him before twisting his head. I let him fall and moved towards the bed as the dark brother fighting silently to rape the woman finally glanced back. He jumped off the bed and spun to face me as he pulled a ebony hilted sword.
I had both long knives out but he suddenly stiffened and I slid in and brushed the sword blade aside. I jabbed up under his right ear and yanked it out as he fell and I saw the stunning woman that had been behind him. She was holding a bloody long knife and glaring at the body. I glanced around before relaxing and looking at her, “you renounced the dark path?”
She looked up and at me before nodding and I gestured, “strip him of weapons.”
I turned and went to pull the other two dead guards in and started stripping them. I tossed the clothes of the first towards her, “get dressed.”
She barely hesitated before starting to put one of the dead guards clothes on. I went to the next and then the one that had watched as the last had tried to rape her. I made a pack out of a shirt and shoved the other clothes in. I glanced around and moved to a huge worg skin rug. I folded and rolled it up before tying it to the pack.
I looked at the woman and gestured for her to come and helped her put the pack on. I moved to the door and looked out before opening it and stepping out. I led her to the stairs and then down before checking the hall. I stopped at the alcove, “time to go.”
Samson stepped out and looked at the woman before glancing at me, “I hope you know what you are doing.”
I smiled, “we go out the way we came in.”
He nodded and I headed down the hall towards the other set of stairs. We went up and moved towards the front of the fortress and past the loud entrance hall where dark brothers still argued loudly. The woman stayed close as I moved and went down and then to the door into the practice area. I glanced in and gestured to the others and they moved in quickly.
Samson led them across to the open grate down into the collection tunnels. I followed and closed the grate behind us. He had already pulled out the lantern and I moved past him and led the way to the drainage tunnel. It was a lot easier going down than up and when we reached the stream I stopped.
I sat and gestured, “shoes and socks off.”
The woman didn’t say anything as she followed my example but the dwarves grumbled before one growled, “shut the hell up!”
They went silent and I finished and stood to wait for them. We stepped into the icy water and I led the way up stream and stayed close to the cliff. As soon as we could we got out and dried our feet before replacing socks and boots. It was a few hours before I turned and headed east and pulled out a sling and slipped a stone into it.
With this many people we would need game. The woman touched my arm and gestured and I hesitated before giving the sling to her and the pouch of stones. I was surprised when she killed the first rabbit. When there was enough for each person I stopped in an overhang. The dwarves had collected dry wood as we cleaned and skinned the rabbits.
We made a smokeless fire and one dwarf used a sword to roast the rabbits. After everyone had eaten we put the fire out and started walking again. When the sun began to set I found a narrow cleft and we made camp. The dwarves spoke in quiet grumbles as I laid out the worg skin the woman had struggled to carry.
She laid down and I opened her pack and pulled out a couple of cloaks and covered her, “sleep.”
She looked at me and smiled before closing her eyes. I gestured to Samson and he grinned as he sat and leaned back before closing his eyes. I watched out the cleft as the night deepened and thought. The dark brothers might head south right away to attack Blue Pass or they might wait until they had a new clan leader.
It was after midnight when Samson stretched and I glanced at him, “go back to sleep.”
He looked at me, “worried?”
I nodded, “they could head south without waiting.”
He snorted, “think I didn’t see that fancy sword on your pack? It will be awhile before they have a new leader.”
I shrugged, “maybe.”
He gestured, “sleep.”
I sighed and nodded before glancing at the woman and laying on the edge of her fur. I woke when she snuggled against me before closing my eyes. I woke to the false dawn and glanced at the woman before I sat up. Samson glanced at me before smiling as I stood and moved into the back of the cleft.
I came back and found her standing and looking around and pulled her in and stood watch while she relieved herself. When we returned to the fur I knelt and cut it in half and rolled both up. I added one half to my pack and the other to hers. We woke the grumbling dwarves and waited as the sun began to rise to start moving again.
Three days later we turned south and the dwarves were following Aveline like she was their angel. She not only used the sling to kill rabbits but grouse or other game birds. She also taught them to clean and tan the rabbit skins and sewed them together for them. When we reached Blue Pass they had several rabbit fur blankets.
Of course everyone stared when we reached the fort and walked in. Other scouts came back not long after us to report the dark brothers fighting each other.
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