They rode hard now, little consideration given to the inert figure draped over the horse.
Hamas wasn't sure whether he was alive or not. The others had beaten him badly. Good, Hamas thought, rubbing his throat. I hope the devil is dead.
They pulled into the small farm about midnight, switching mounts and paying the farmer. The Old Woman had said to make certain he got paid.
A little food, an hour's sleep and they were off again, riding at a ground-eating canter.
May 17th, 2003, 11:49 PM
"Two days" Cadfael taps the map on the table... "You must be there... I know it is going to be hard, but you must be there"
"We will be there" the Colonel assures him... "we have done this before... they are used to forced marches. Where will you be?"
Cadfael looks at e-Berry. "We are going to help a friend. I cannot become a dragon... I fear that would just let out enemy know where we are. However... Sh'Roth will take us, he has 'allowed' that we ride him"
"Your mounts?" the Colonel asks... "I will keeps them with me... yes?"
"Yes... and Stranger's" Cadfael pulls the Colonel close "Look after them... especially mine. Also... do not let your men gape and gawp at your new .. erm.. company. They find it hard to maintain a human form... they will not be good to be around, this will be hard for them." He puts a hand on the Colonels shoulder "They are here because I asked them... not for any love of humans, they will think nothing of venting their frustration on your men... just leave them alone!"
Cadfael leaves the command tent... e-Berry at his side. "They are a day and a half ahead us" e-Berry asks him..."How long to get to them?"
Cadfael bows to Sh'Roth, then turns to e-Berry... "About two seconds" he rolls his eyes... "The trick is... to take them out before they kill him... that will take them all of a second!"
"Why do you chatter so?" Sh'Roth rumbles..."It is bad enough I am a beast of burden... "now you just prolong the insult"
"Extend a talon you onery bastard" Cadfael quips... "and we will demean you further"
May 18th, 2003, 06:04 AM
Abia ben Kashir looked about nervously. The new moon was considered to be a time of evil spirits and black magic. The way the captive had risen suddenly, ripping his bonds and nearly killing Hamas had unnerved them all.
No one had gone near him after that, Hamas included. He was still trying to get his nerve back. But he would. His hatred ran too deep.
This devil, Ill Nuchor, had killed many of their people in the old days. Any one of them would give their life to have him staked out.
He may be dead. They had beaten him severely, more out of fear than anything. Kashir looked over at him. He wasn't breathing. Maybe he was dead. That was bad. The Old Woman would be furious, and Kashir shuddered to think of her wrath. Maybe she would feed them to one of her demons.
He got up, moving closer, watching him. "Cursed wretch", he muttered. "You'd beter not be dead". But there was no rise and fall of breath. Kashir, sighed, knelt and felt the throat.
Have you ever seen a snake strike?
It is so fast your eyes can't take it in. That's what happened to Kashir as the body spun, hard fingers crushing his throat, a cruel thumb jambing a nerve right behind the windpipe.
In the split-second of paralysis that followed a thin little blade went through his right temple.
Sunrise was marked by the shouting curses of Hamas. "He's GONE! All the curses of Allah on you sons of dogs! Up, up you animals. Kashir is dead and Ill Nuchor has escaped"!
The men rolled out quickly, a feeling of dread on them. This was not going to turn out well. They could feel it.
Crouching nearby the Stranger watched them. Weak from torture, lack of food and water, he nevertheless wore an evil, wolfish smile. e_Berry had touched his mind, taken the pain away and given him new strength to endure.
Now he was going to kill him some sons-a-bitches.
May 20th, 2003, 10:09 AM
Carried by Sh'Roth, e-Berry and Cadfael kept their thoughts to themselves, holding on and riding the winds and clouds. Cadfael had never been this close to the Stranger's woman for this long, and he found her intoxicating.......but he knew better than to tread on Stranger's territory. He settled in, hip touching hip, and pondered the coming struggle.
e-Berry had cast her thoughts with all her strength, searching out Stranger's mind in the mist of conflicting thoughts and feelings. She sensed he was in extreme danger, and feared for his life, but there was a spark of hope within her breast....he had strength beyond the pale of other humans, and an inner fire and certainty of righteousness that had often carried him through.
A few hours before, she had been jolted from her meditations by a forceful break in the "world's noise".......something violent has happened, and she prayed the victim was not her A'maelamin.
Now as she continued to cast her thoughts, she pushed a litle against Cadfael, grateful for a warm body to be close to. Had she and the Mad Monk met under different circumstances, who could know how things would have been different.
May 20th, 2003, 08:24 PM
They moved through the brush nervously, looking for the escaped captive. Ill Nuchor had a terrible reputation in their country. He was said to be a ghost by some, a demon by others.
Whatever he was, he was merciless with his enemies and they knew it. Hamas could testify to that. He was the last of his family, all who had died under the knife of the man.
He was wounded, they reminded themselves. He had been tortured and beaten nearly to death. He was weak, had not been fed or given water. But that did nothing to assuage the fear.
Hamas came to a stream. This was a perfect place for him, he reasoned. Here he could make his escape. He moved upstream, searching the banks for sign. His eye caught something and he knelt to inspect it. A rock, just slightly dislodged. He smiled. "Your weakness betrays you, Ill Nuchor", he said softly.
Sh'Roth glides silently to the ground, e-Berry and Cadfael imediately dropping from his back and moving off towards the distant camp... crawling on hands and knees, Cadfael stops to listen, and then puts his hand on e-Berry's shoulder, leaning close to her ear... his cool breath tickling the hairs on her neck...
"They are all around us..." he whispers very softly to her..."Something has happened... they are searching for something... or someone"
"Dou you think...?" e-Berry leans close to Cadfael "could Stranger have got away from them?"
Cadfael chuckles softly... "This is Stranger... I know he has, it would only be a matter of time" his hand gives her a gentle shake "Be careful of any target you draw a bede on... we don't want to end up killin..."
The sound of swords ringing together splits the night... all aound e-Berry and Cadfael, running feet head towards the sound of fighting. Cadfael tenses as the moonlight reveals the figure of a man running towards them. Cadfel tenses, ready to spring... his dagger held waiting to taste blood. As he is about to take the man out... in one fluid motion e-Berry is on her feet... her dagger plunging into the man's throat and dragging him to the floor... harly a sound was made.
"Bastard!!!" she hissed... "lets go..."
Cadfael watches her crawl of into the underbush... and then follows her... Impressive he thinks....
May 23rd, 2003, 03:48 PM
He who hesitates is lost.
It's an old saying but never more true than in combat. The sight of the bloody, dirt-smeared old enemy right there made his brain lock for a fraction of a second.
Stranger was weak, had little strength left and made the most of it, plunging the dagger in and up. Hamas howled his pain as the blade scraped on rib bone. The blood poured, he grabbed the wrist and fell towards Stranger. They grappled, Stranger desperately trying to hang on, and fell together into the stream.
"Over there" came the shouts from the others. "Ho brothers! Hamas has found the Infidel"
Hamas' knife flashed, Stranger twisted, the blade opening his side, high on the ribs. Grimly he held on, grabbing Hamas by the hair, twisting the buried blade, looking for the heart, a lung, anything.
Hamas knew it was over. The blade was a foot long and fast taking his intestines apart. But he was determined to take Ill Nuchor with him. He slammed a knee into Stranger's groin, Stranger collapsed and Hamas stabbed him one last time.
The others came into view.
"Die INFIDEL, DIE"!!! came the roar of crazed, vengeful men.
May 23rd, 2003, 04:06 PM
The back of Hamas's head exploded as the crossbow bolt hammered into it... his body pitched forward over Strangers. The charging men stopped and looked around into the night... one screaming in agony as an arrow took out his eye.
All thought of revenge left them as arrow after arrow... followed by bolt after bolt tore into them... none of them evn realised they were being herded... forced along a line of flight...
... far ahead... Sh'Roth waited...
Cadfael dropped hiis crossbow and ran to Stranger's still body... heaving the dead arab away from him... his face snarling in fear and anger... "Jesus.... this is bad!" he mutters... he is pushed to one side as e-Berry grabs Stranger in her arms.... "e-Berry?" Cad says quietly.... and then louder "e-Berry!!!"
She looks at him... and sees the expression on his face... "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! " she screams.... "I will not allow that!!"
There is rending of timbers as Sh'Roth moves into the camp.. taking in the scene... "And so you should not!" he tells her... "Quick... get him onto my back... we will not give up as long as there is breath in his body! We will find the Colonel... keep him alive my Lady... just for a few more hours..."
May 23rd, 2003, 09:06 PM
Wind rushing furiously past her ears, whistling high, e-Berry holds Stranger's body tightly pressed to her as Cadfael helps to steady them all, his strong arms a garrison, a buffer.
Tears stream uncontrollably down her cheeks, quickly dried by the wind, as she presses the palm of her hand firmly against the most open of Stranger;s stab wounds. Blood has soaked through her clothes, and she closes her eyes, trusting Sh'roth's flight and Cadfael's protection. Acvcompanying the sound of the wind can be heard a low thrumming, steady, from her solar plexus as she intones an ancient hymn to the Goddess. She channels all of her energy down into a focal point on her palm, into his side......Stranger's breathing is shallow, erratic, his pulse weak. She will not let him die. The Goddess has not given her this man only to steal him away like this.....at the hands of the dog Hamas.
May 24th, 2003, 07:51 AM
Her hand pulses with the power and she looks up at the moon. There seems to be an irridescent glow to it.
The Stranger stirs, moans and his eyes open just a fraction. A weak smile crosses his face and he puts his hand over hers.
"Mela en' coiamin. Amin khiluva lle a' gurtha ar' thar".
Elda's eyes blaze with fire at his words. "You are NOT going to die! Do you hear me"?!? He nods, his eyes closing. He can feel the power in her hands.
He says something she can't catch over the rushing wind. She leans close, her ear next to his lips. He mutters,
"Carmichael is going to be pissed". A laugh of pury joy escapes her. He will live! Her eyes now fierce and proud, she bows her head, her hand working the ancient Moon Magic.