Kohan Film Database




Jon's Tale - Part VII

by Kyle "Nairoci" Roahrig

Following the others to the horses I began thinking of the journey we were about to undertake. We were to travel to River's End, some hundred or so miles to the south, and we would need to travel quickly. I am worried, though not about the journey itself, any bandits or such rubbish we meet along the way will surely present little of a challenge. Instead I am worried about what we will find at our destination. I worry about whether or not Khaldun's greatest hope will still be there, and whether he will make the decision to take the war to the Ceyah. Though many would find that last worry ridiculous (after all, of course Darius Javidan would fight the Ceyah), what those people do not know that I do is that since the Cataclysm, Darius has been watched and guarded by Eben Baruch, a pacifistic ranger who is the epitome of Council virtues; He is brilliant, yet indecisive, a great warrior who abhors fighting. He is the perfect example of the Council's contradictory nature.

            Knowing that I could change nothing in the past, I began saddling my horse. Looking around at my companions, I wondered at how they would fare should Darius join Eben in pacifism.

            Jason would be devastated; there is no debate about that. Having looked up to Darius his entire enchanted life, he tended to put Darius on a high pedestal and emulate him. Even his weapons closely mirrored Darius'. Of course, Jason's were a little bit shorter because Jason liked his fights up-close and personal, and from what I remember about Darius, he cares little about the actual fight; just the results and the aftermath.

            Caitlynn would survive easily. Fiercely independent, yet completely loyal to her friends, she cared little for those she considered outsiders. If I were to be completely honest, she probably would not give a damn about Darius if the rest of us were not so intent on finding him. I had strong suspicions that if Darius were still missing, dead, or a pacifist, Kate would not care in the least.

            My wife, Rachel, I believe would be disappointed, though not much else. She is a very strong person mentally, emotionally, and especially spiritually. Her faith in the Creator's plan will get her through just about anything. She also fully believes and supports the path we Royalists have taken, and if we ever managed to find Darius, she would be a welcome influence on him.

            As for myself, I do not have a choice. I will be forced to keep going because I can not allow myself to do anything less. Whatever honor I have not bargained away to keep the Royalist dreams alive would not allow me to stop. My duty and responsibilities would demand that I not stop. On top of all that, my wife would not let me stop either. So again, I have no choice.

            I would not want to stop though. My own visions, those of a land free of the Ceyah, with the Kohan both watching over and bearing responsibility for the mortals, are something that I would not be able to attain by quitting. Having Darius with us would make it much easier to attain, but even without him I will continue working to realize my goal. That is what leaders do, and I believe that I am a leader.

            Finishing with the saddle, I turned to Rachel and helped her up onto her horse. I knew better than to try and help Kate up, the last time I tried it took a week for the swelling to go down, so I turned back to my own horse and swung myself into the saddle.

            With a deep breath to stave off the enormity of our task, I softly uttered, "Let's be on our way."



            When we finally stopped for the night, we had traveled more than half the distance to River's End. In a small, yet bustling town named Ithica we found food and shelter, not to mention fresh horses. We had already bought horses twice now, and these were clearly worn out; they would not be ready to ride in the morning.

            Checking into our rooms at an inn called the King's Jewel, I was more than slightly disappointed at the way we had to split the rooms. Jason and I would take one, with Rachel and Kate in the other. This was actually both a blessing and a curse. It was bad because I looked forward to spending time alone with my wife, to comfort her and ease whatever fears she may have. It was good for nearly the same reason; it would've been the first time that Ray and I were unsupervised, and I would not have bet a single gold piece that we'd gotten any sleep. We'll need our rest for tomorrow.

            Before night fell I began looking around for a place I could buy food for the 'morrow. Walking throughout the town I noticed an odd duality. The Ceyah had not yet taken this town, and from some of the soldiers walking around I could tell the people were capable of defending themselves; yet despite that there was an almost palpable tension in the air. I have to find out why these people are so nervous, as it might impact our trip tomorrow.

            Stopping at a small grocery stall, I made polite conversation with the proprietor while I shopped.

            "Good evening mLady," I said to her, "would you happen to know what has everyone so nervous?"

            She looked at me curiously for a moment, apparently shocked I didn't know the answer to the question already. Then she apparently decided that my grey traveling cloak meant that I was a visitor. "I've heard rumors of bandits in them hills o'er yonder," she told me, "them soldiers ain't seen no real combat before, and that makes us nervous, 'specially me; Two of 'em is mine."

            Thanking her for her help, I paid for my food and started back to the inn.

            Arriving back at the Jewel, I found the others already waiting for me. They had completely their tasks long before I did mine. Kate had found a place where we could discreetly buy horses without revealing we were Kohan. Jason had gone around and mostly done mundane things such as getting our tents and traveling clothes mended, purchasing water skins and the like.

            Rachel had done the most significant work however. She had talked to some of the soldiers and believed she knew where the bandit's camp was. She claimed she had only asked so that we'd be able to avoid it, but we both knew each other too well for that. She knew I would do what I could to help these people, even if it meant delaying my meeting with Darius. Aside from that, I knew that she fully intended for us to wipe out the bandits, and that without their location I probably would have had us move on.

            I sighed heavily when she told me what she had found, knowing what I had to do, even if I did not like it.

            "This will delay our meeting and expose us but we cannot let these people be preyed upon if we can prevent it. However, Darius could move any day, so we must establish contact now." I looked around at my companions, my friends. "Caitlynn, I want you to recruit two soldiers. Each will carry a copy of a message from me to Darius." Sending two scouts with the message increased the chances of Darius receiving it exponentially, because if one was caught by something, be it bandits, beasts, or Ceyah, the other could still get through since they would travel separately.

            "Rachel, if you had to guess, how many bandits would you say there were, and how many soldiers in the town?"

            "From my conversations with the soldiers, I came up with numbers usually around a company. Also, from talking with some of the local hunters and farmers, the area they're camped in could not easily support much more than that. I'd say about a dozen bandits, with about a half-dozen margin of error, either way.

            In the town, they have roughly two companies of actual trained soldiers, all good, skilled swordsmen. They're complemented by about double that of militia. I wouldn't count on them though; the kids have heart, but no experience and little training."

            Before I could make any plans, I had to see if the town would choose to support our bandit-hunting actions.

            "Caitlynn, go find us some messengers; we'll be bandit-hunting tomorrow whether the people help us or not. Rachel, Jason, we'll go speak to the town's leadership, and if they don't listen we'll plead our case directly to the people."

            Leaving Caitlynn to her task, we began walking to the town hall. The whole way I was plagued by doubts and questions. Was I leading these people to the slaughter? I kept imagining worse and worse encounters with the bandits, and at one point I even imagined a dragon working with them.

            Arriving at the town hall, I viciously thrust thoughts of failure out of my mind. After a little debate, we agreed that a dramatic entry would be best. Walking up to the door, I reached towards the door, intending to pound on it until someone answered. To my surprise, with my lightest touch the door swung open.

            Instantly suspicious, I drew my mace; I had left my shield in my room, though I still wore my armor underneath my traveling cloak. I heard a slight rasping sound, which repeated itself an instant later, and knew that Jason had drawn his falchions. We walked into the hall quietly, slowly, with all senses straining to locate anything hostile. Keeping Rachel between us we moved into the great hall, and as our eyes adjusted we gradually saw shapes sitting in chairs around a large, circular table.

            Almost as soon as I realized those were bodies, I felt a rush of air. As I whirled around to see what it was I saw smoke rising from a shimmering blue shield. Since there had been no explosion or other such noise, I knew it was the remnant of a dreadfire blast that Rachel had protected us from. I did not need to see the strain on her face that I knew would be there, but I did not think she'd be able to protect us a second time so soon, so I began marching deeper into the room.

            Suddenly the lights in the room flared, and I was temporarily blinded. Though I crouched and threw up a quick guard, there was no attack to protect myself from.

            Blinking quickly to clear my vision, I noticed three silhouettes. Two seemed to be slight of build, so I assumed them to be women. The third shape was enormous, and the huge, hulking shape had to be Vargus.

            This threw me off quite a bit; Vargus was not one for such subtlety, which meant that one of the female shapes was probably Divsha; The cunning she-bitch loved plots such as these, mostly because they were less dangerous for her than a stand-up fight.

            As my vision continued to clear I saw that my suspicions were confirmed, Vargus and Divsha indeed stood before me, but when I saw who the third shape was my very soul cringed. Known now as Shendra, she was once a promising officer in my own army until corrupted by Ahriman himself. She is one of few Royalist failures, and one I felt like a punch to the gut.

            One of the reasons for this is because it had to have been her who just attacked us. She was a master of arcane magic, and a specialist in magical projectiles.

            Summoning as much bravado as I could, I straightened and asked, “What are you doing here with these vermin Azura? Step away now, that I may slay them with a clean conscience."

            "Do you really forget things so easily Javidan?" she asked me, "I am Shendra, and am no longer forced to follow your fool's orders. It is you who will be slain this day. Beloved of the people you may be, but they fool easily, and I am no longer enthralled by your lies. By the end of the day you will lie in an unmarked grave, and your followers will be left to think you abandoned them.

            But we both know better, don't we Javidan? You could no more abandon the mortals and that fool Darius than you could kill your own wife."

            "Do you really think we will let you leave here alive witch? Even with that beast behind you, you are no match for the three of us," I told her. "Your options are simple: surrender and be Cleansed, or be killed and be Cleansed....Your choice."

            With that the beast, who had remained silent thus far, began snarling and growling at me. At that, Divsha laid a restraining hand upon his arm and whispered in his ear. He began to smile then, and I believe that frightened me more than any threat could.

            He began stalking forward, readying his twin bone clubs as I cursed my thoughtlessness in leaving my shield in my room. Vowing never to leave it behind again, even if only to go to the bathroom, I readied my own mace and waited for the big thing's charge. Knowing that while I kept Vargus busy, Jason would take Divsha and Rachel would try and make Shendra's magic a non-factor until we could deal with her.

            Screaming in bloodlust, Vargus charged at me. Blocking a downward swipe, I was forced to duck under the head-height shot that followed less than a second later from his other club. Blocking a swipe at my legs I spun away from a blow that would've fused my arm to my ribs, and probably killed me at that.

            Knowing I couldn't survive much longer on the defensive, I made my move during his next swing; a right-handed swing, I parried his swing to the inside, continued my spin, and struck him square in the back. Without missing a beat, the beast whirled and struck me in my shield-hands shoulder; I heard bones crunching and knew my wound was grievous.

            The beast's blow sent me reeling. I tried to turn my flight into a roll to control the fall, but succeeded only at landing on my injured arm. The pain from my landing nearly knocked me unconscious, but I managed to fight back the darkness closing over my vision.

            It was a good thing I did. I rolled to the side just in time for Vargus' club to crush the tiles where I had been laying. Before I had even regained my footing, I swung for his leg, and connected solidly with his knee. The beast's howls told me that I had significantly damaged the limb, at the very least; I had probably broken his knee.

            He fell to the ground, unable to support his massive weight with just one leg. My victory was nowhere near complete however, as I could not get off the ground myself, the pain was so great. Since I wasn't going anywhere, and neither was my opponent, I took the opportunity to look around.

            I turned to Jason's battle just in time to see him roll under one of Divsha's swings, and slice open the back of her leg with a falchion, probably severing her hamstring. As she fell to the ground, Jason stood up. Unlike myself, he looked none the worse for wear. If Divsha had even scratched his armor, I was the Creator.

            With one swift move he whirled and threw one of his falchions, which whistled just by my wife's head, continued going, and struck Shendra right in the chest; no longer under her control, the fireball she had been building blew up right in her face, blowing her back into the far wall. She slumped to the ground, obviously dead.

            When I turned from that gruesome sight I did a quick double-take; both Divsha and Vargus, who should've been incapable of any real movement with their wounds, were gone. Oddly enough, there was not even a blood trail leading outside. It was like they just vanished.

            Of course, even had they been in the room in plain view the only one of us who could've done anything would've been Jason. By this time my crushed arm had leaked so much blood that I could see dozens of tiny Vargus' dancing in circles around me. As for Rachel, she appeared completely exhausted from her magical battle with Shendra.

            Knowing that it would be a little while before Rachel could heal me, Jason tied off a tourniquet at my shoulder to slow the bleeding, which should keep me alive until Rachel was a little bit more rested.

            Jason dragged me over into a corner of the room and propped me up against the wall, then began to inspect what was left of the room. Shendra's aborted fireball had taken out chunks of both the roof and a wall, and through the wall Jason could see a company or so of soldiers moving cautiously towards the building. Their caution marked them as the veteran swordsmen Ray had told us about, and we only hoped we could talk our way out of this.

            It would be very embarrassing upon my next awakening if I survived an assassination attempt only to be killed by allies who mistook me for a thief.



Jon's Tale Part I ] Jon's Tale Part II ] Jon's Tale Part III ] Jon's Tale Part IV ] Jon's Tale Part V ] Jon's Tale Part VI ] [ Jon's Tale Part VII ] Jon's Tale Part VIII ]
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