Chapter 26 - Book of Fates



The Fates decided the knight will make a mad dash to the orb. See the results here.


Ah, I see you all decided that the Eternal Knight should run away from his problems? A classic choice and very healthy indeed. I wonder how fast armor can sprint, and how he’ll outrun the monster attached to his shoulder in the very way his own soul is. This can only go well.



***

“I…” Ren Londaar begins and then stops. He does not know what to say in a situation such as this. In his short remembered life, he’s never killed anyone yet without meaning to. He considers apologizing, but realizes immediately how futile it would be.


What could he even say: “Apologies, my hand ate your leader. I didn’t mean her to be bitten in half. It won’t happen again.” Besides, he knows he can promise no such thing. He senses that the demon arm, while somewhat satisfied with its last meal, could easily eat ten Nitannas without a hint of indigestion.


I will not give it another opportunity, Ren thinks. With sudden clarity, he knows he must dash to the Orb with all speed before the situation escalates and gets out of control. Well, more out of control.


“Help! Help! Nitanna has been murdered by the outsiders!” The two guardsmen who had accompanied Nitanna spring away in horror, shouting out at the top of their lungs. “Raise the alarm! Call the garrison!”


This, Ren thinks, is getting more out of control already. Definitely time to get to the Orb.

The Eternal Knight grabs Dawn in his good arm. The poor young elf looks devastated, shocked to her elven core by Nitanna’s unexpected demise.


“Dawn? Are you well? Can you hear me?”


Dawn utters not a single word of reply. She simply stares into nothingness. Ren is confident that, if given enough time, she’ll snap out of it. Just as he is confident that they don’t have the time to wait for that right now. More cries for help ring in the air, alarm bells jangling outside. No doubt all the garrison of Last Haven is being roused to catch the Eternal Knight.


With Dawn under his arm, Ren heads out through the backdoor of the small shrine and into an alley beyond. Evening has turned to night, and Ren hopes that the dark will give him cover -- adding to the confusion and aiding his escape.


According to Compie — the cursed box — the tunnels leading to the underground farms are only three blocks away. If he sticks to the twisting, shadowy alleys, he could still get there quickly and avoid the main streets -- where surely the garrison was assembling.


Ren sets off through the darkness, cries of alarm echoing in his armor. Two turns take him to a deadend.


Irritated the knight turns around and sees a dirty child looking out a second-floor window at him. Had he flesh, he would have smiled in a reassuring way. As though reacting to his thought, the demon arm twists its ethereal blue mouth into something like a smile. The child contorts his face into a similar rictus and the Knight begins to walk back the way he came with as much nonchalance as he can muster.


The child is behind him, when someone screams. “He’s here! The monster is here!”


A quick look behind him and Ren sees that the child has been snatched up by his father, who is doing the yelling. He takes off at run, hoping he’s chosen a more useful narrow alley.


It turns out that there are quite a lot of deadends among the close packed houses of Last Haven. Ren is disoriented, completely turned around and considering that the houses don’t look especially strong or well constructed and that he might be able to barrel straight through the walls to get where he wants to go, when he finds himself faced with two of the gatekeepers.


“Here!” one shouts, waving a torch. “We’ve got him! Here! Last Haven to me!” The other is brandishing a sword, but doesn’t seem especially excited by the prospect of getting within biting distance.


Ren cannot wait for the others, shifting Dawn’s weight, he uses the demon arm to grasp his trusty oar. It’s hard, in the narrow alley to bring it to bear, but his training does not desert him. Ren Londaar brings down the oar on the swordsmen’s hands and then back up to crack into the man’s chin. He falls backwards. The torchbearer steps back, as though to flee.


With a sharp slap of the oar’s face, the knight sends the gatekeeper into the wall and out of his way. The demon arm snaps as though to try and catch an ear or the man’s head as he crumples to the street, but Ren pulls it back in time.


Enough of this -- the knight needs to know where he is and get to the tunnels. He runs, looking for a wider street.


In short order, Ren finds such a street and, stepping out, is gratified to realize that he has managed — purely by luck — to reach the building he was searching for. The entrance to the underground farms and his path to the Orb are within sight.


Also within sight is a neat triangle of crossbowmen, their weapons leveled at Ren.


“Hold!” comes the command, sharp and clear in the night. It is followed by the sharp twang of a single crossbow loosing, and an answering metallic ‘thunk’.


The bolt struck Ren’s lower torso and is now sticking out of it like a hedgehog’s needle. Although it does not hurt the knight, it quivers near Dawn’s shoulder. She still has not moved or spoken, hanging limply under the knight’s ordinary metal arm.


In their need for revenge, the gatekeepers seem to have forgotten about their Lady Cirus.


“Take aim!” cries the same commanding voice — though with just a hint of asperity for the early shot.


Ren knows what command comes next.


And so my dearest of Fates, I present to you another amusing puzzle: How does the Eternal Knight react to this immediate attack that can be both dangerous to himself and to those he cares about? I myself personally have never much believed that hope is a valid battle-plan, but sometimes life just doesn’t give you any choice.


Option 1: The Eternal Knight makes a break for the entrance to the underground farms, he hopes they don’t get hit by bolts.


Option 2: The Eternal Knight throws his oar at his shooters, he hopes it’ll distract their aim and slow their next attack.


Option 3: The arm can eat people, why not crossbow bolts? The Eternal Knight blocks the attack with his Demon-arm, and he hopes he can maintain control of it.


***

<<< Go back to the PREVIOUS CHAPTER


Author's note:


Hope you enjoyed the chapter and see you next Friday!


See you next week!

Love,

Kaya & Silver





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