Chapter 27; 28 and 29

Chronicles of Mace

Mace just hangs to one side of the room as he thinks to himself, “well this is an interesting situation”. The guard continues to listen at the door, whilst the Quickling jabber away in their high pitched voices.  Mace can’t but help look at the two Quicklings who obviously see him as a temple guard, and the guards presume he is with the Quicklings.  Mace wonders if the Priest will fall for the confusion as well.

 

Mace decides on a daring plan, but one that he must lay the foundations for early on.  He must act now before the Priest arrives.  He relaxes his Sword arm, then moves to the guards side, smiling as he goes.  He coughs to cover his chuckles and almost hysterical madness at such a crazy plan.  The guard lifts his ear from the door and returns Maces smile.

 

Mace whispers to the guard, “Hi there, call me Killian Roo, its nice to finally get a break.  The fighting up there was pretty fierce for a while, shame you missed it eh?!

 

The guard loses his smile and straightens his back, and Mace wonders if he has offended him.  Then the guard offers his hand and replies, “my name is Jastin, and I wanted to go up top, but Buchard said I had to stay here on guard.”

 

Mace changes the subject, and coughs again, “look you wouldn’t happen to have something to drink would you, my canteens all but empty.”

 

The guard presses his ear against the door whilst reaching behind his back to take his canteen from the weapon belt.  Mace takes the canteen and takes a large swig of water.

 

Mace spits on the floor then continues to talk quietly to Jastin, “maybe you could help me get out of here.  I need to get in touch your head boss here on a matter of some urgency beyond what the Quickling will tell you, who will I need to see?

 

The guard lifts his head away from the door again, takes a swig himself from the canteen and smiles whilst telling Mace, “No problem, Buchard the Priest will be here shortly to speak to the Quicklings..he’s the one you should talk to.”  Mace settles back on another wall and waits for things to develop.

 

He doesn’t have to wait long, for without warning a man in long flowing White robes and the other guard enter.  The Priest unbelievably begins jabbering away with the Quicklings, and seems to get quite excited at one stage.  One of the guards asks what they have said.  Buchard frowns and explains that Amaranti dol Balaam is up above fighting the Laster Rangers and has sent word for those within the Temple to prepare to break out and support from the rear.  Buchard looks worried and talks to himself, “We have not enough men to do this.  If I commit to attacking from the rear, I will only offer the Rangers an opportunity to enter the Temple.  I cannot risk this, Amaranti will have to fight this battle without our support.” 

 

Buchard smiles to Jastin and tells him, “eight of our men have reached Amaranti and are safe with the Kobolds..lets hope they defeat these Rangers quickly.”

 

Mace listens and is pleased to hear that his name is not mentioned at all.  He must only be a small matter in the great big scheme of things that are occurring at the moment.

 

Mace sees the Priest turn to leave and makes his move.  He steps in front of the Priest blocking his exit, and says, “Priest, now you have heard the news from these little people pray hold a moment for I must have words with you of some delicacy and somewhat secrecy.”

 

The Priest moves Mace to one side and tells him to walk with him and talk as he makes his way to attend to important tasks within the Temple.  Mace begins talking as he walks alongside the Priest, going further in to the Temple, “I’m known as Killian Roo, and it is important that I speak to the head Priest as soon as possible.” 

 

The Priest turns and says, “That is me…continue”.

 

Maces takes a deep breath and says, “I bring news and a message that I must deliver to you.”

 

The Priest stops and studies Mace and tells him to get on with it.  Mace tries to figure out how to play this, for he wasn’t expecting things to happen quite so quickly.

 

Mace begins looking deep into the Priests yes, trying to use what little hypnosis skill he has and continues, “Sir I have come here to gain your assistance to further my mission in a way that only someone of your abilities can, and by doing so, eventually making your name known upon almost everyone’s lips, of this I promise should I be successful.

 

The Priest looks as if he is losing interest in what Mace is saying and snaps back, “You think I need notoriety and fame, but you may presume wrongly…it may in fact be the opposite that I wish for!”

 

Mace doesn’t give up, but tries again with his hypnosis skill, “I hope I have at least gotten your interest now, as everyone is always seeking to better oneself, I pray therefore that you will assist me. YOU WILL HELP ME SIR WON’T YOU.”

 

The Priest begins walking again, and Mace does not know what his words have done, or if his hypnosis has worked.  The Priest nods as if he wants to hear more, and Mace is pleased he doesn’t need his rumbled excuse yet!

 

Mace goes for the juglar and crux of his plan, “So my Lord I am most grateful for your co-operation and will now explain how you can help me and is so doing assist your own fame.”

 

The Priest looks dep in to Maces eyes and sarcastically says, “oh good, you mean we’re finally getting to the point...I’m entranced”

 

Mace wonders what he means by the last statement, and fears he may have been rumbled, but it’s too late for backtracking and so delivers his plan, “As you know the Laster Rangers have discovered this Temple and despite having been beaten off will surely return soon, regrouped and reinforced.  It therefore endangers any artifacts and treasures presently stored here. I’m sure you are aware of this and are already making plans for their removal or concealment.  A man who acts quickly under such circumstances is always noted by his superiors, however it would take an especially wise man, a man of fore-sight to realise that a mass transportation will be noticed and attract undue attention, therefore I’m sure you HAVE DECIDED TO SMUGGLE GOODS OUT QUIETLY AND SECRETLY.”

 

Just think how it will look when everything of value has been moved so stealthily that not even your own people realise they have gone.  YOU HAD THOUGHT OF THIS PRIEST.

 

This therefore is the nature of my mission to remove all that I can carry or wear if value away from this place is secret, under your orders. I’m sure once you think on it, YOU WILL ORDER ME TO TAKE WHAT I CAN TO A SAFE LOCATION WELL AWAY FROM HERE RIGHT NOW AND IN SECRET….”

 

Mace still isn’t sure whether his ploy to hypnotise the Priest has worked, and is half expecting some devastating magic to be cast upon him when the Priest simply nods to Mace and responds, “A good idea, good idea, and I have just the job for you.  Not artefacts but prize possessions of Cremlan and essential for our future success.

 

The Priest starts walking further in to the Temple, and Mace guesses that he is supposed to follow, so at a jog he follows the Priest. Through doors, down passages he arrives at a door.  The Priest turns to Mace and says, “Behold the future of Cremlan, my army.”

 

Mace peers into the room as the Priest slowly opens the door.  A stench emits from th room and Maces jaw drops as he sees masses of eggs piled against the walls of the room.  The eggs vary in size, but the biggest are about a foot long/diameter, and most are nearly round or oval.  The room is very warm, although there is no sign of any heating mechanism.

 

Mace is stunned and remains open mouthed as the Priest, turns and explains, “Spider eggs, the future army of Cremlan. This is only one fraction of it, but it would be devastating if these were to be lost to the enemy. The baby Spiders can be trained and are far better than any Warhorses our enemies can produce, and a lot more in numbers.  Almost as important as artefacts, for you to take some of these eggs and transport them to another location would be of immense value.  I have a colleague called Mileno who resides next to the Laster Lake, where they will be safer for the timebeing.  I can supply you with a couple of Horses, which you can load the eggs on.  I agree that you stand more chance on your own, than a large group transporting these eggs.  You can pretend to be a hunter or adventurer if stopped by the enemy.”

 

The Priest ushers Mace in to the room and then drops several two handled bags on to the floor, just as call goes up for the Priest to attend to something.  Mace enters the room and stares at the pile of eggs.  The Priest turns and walks a little way up the corridor when some loud greetings are exchanged.  Mace stays within the room, but peers around the corner.

 

A man walks up to Buchard who shows immense pleasure at seeing this person.  Buchard throws his arms around this man welcoming him, and patting his back.  Mace listens with interest, leaning against a wall and making sure he isn’t seen as the men talk within the corridor.  Buchard calls the man a hero and thanks him for saving the Temple.  Several of the Temple guards have been lost, but the secrets within the Temple remain safely with Cremlan and Buchard.  It could have been a disaster if the Temple had fallen.  Buchard points down the corridor and tells Armageddon that he has one man loading the Spiders eggs in to bags, in case they needed to escape with them.  Mace begins to sweat and imagines his ploy is about to be seen through. Buchard continues that eggs may one day be able to produce a large Spider army.  The man with the special task is Killian Roo, who Buchard has entrusted with this job.  There is no response from the man Buchard talks to.

 

There are 18 other men who have survived the raid, plus he mn who escaped to Armageddon’s force.  The rest were captured or killed by the Rangers. Buchard shakes Armageddon’s hand again (GM: Mace now realises who the other man is!! And a shiver runs down his back) and tells him he must come to his room and celebrate this great victory.

 

As they walk back in to the Temple Armageddon gives Buchard some jewellery to see if they are magical.  Buchard smiles and says no problem, for he will do it while Armageddon rests.

 

Mace drops to his haunches as Buchard and Armageddon disappear in to the Temple depths.  He looks around at the pile of eggs, and although his plan has worked to some extent, he still feels out of his depth and as if things are running away with him.

 

Surely someone must ask the question, “Who the hell is he?” at some time! He wonders how sharp Armageddon is, and whether he will get involved with the Spider egg movement.  Mace has got a lot of options, but none of them seem easy.  He looks at the eggs and thinks about beginning to load them in to the two handled bags, or should he make a break for it now.  Mace wonders if his nerves will hold together to see him through this nightmare…

 

Chapter 28

 

ACT II  SCENE III

 

Mace stays on his haunches for a couple of minutes just looking at the masses of eggs, which will one day be a major part of Cremlans army.  He crouches, thinking that he has the chance to be a hero, but then a kind of hysteria runs through him as he imagines himself as being a mere pawn of the gods.  He has to stifle a burst of laughter, which wrestles with his chest muscles to be released, a sign of his nerves and how scared he really is in this position.  He has probably infiltrated further in to the Cremlan organisation than any human before, and the information he now holds may be vital for the enemies of Cremlan.  He must try and save his won skin, but how?

 

Mace stands up and just stares at the eggs, schemes of varying complexity running through his mind, many of them meaning his certain capture and probable torture and painful death.  He muses how Armageddon’s arrival has complicated things, for he doesn’t know yet the capabilities of this man.  His initial thoughts of meeting the man and possibly joining him now seem to be one of his lesser options, and so he decides that discovering another Cremlan base would offer him an easier target, especially as he now has distinct advantages.  He could become a Cremlan base buster of some renown.

 

Mace looks closely at one of the eggs, and sees a faint dark shadow move within the eggs shell, causing him to step back slightly.  He thinks about his alias of Killian Roo and how well it has worked so far, but for how long?  He must blend in more, and just become one of the guards, and so a low profile seems to be his immediate aim.  Mace reorganises his equipment to help lower his profile a little more.

 

Moving back to the mass of eggs, he begins picking them up and filling the bags.  The eggs feel warm, slightly sticky, and have a shell type encasement, although there is a little give in them when he applies the pressure to pick the eggs up.  The Black interiors of a few of the eggs react to either the movement or warmth of maces hand, and begin moving around inside the egg.  Mace finds this a little unnerving, but continues to pack them.

 

He doesn’t waste anytime, and within some fifteen minutes has packed four bags carefully with about 32 eggs, 8 eggs in each two handled bag.  He wipes his now sticky hands on his trousers and steadies himself for the next dangerous stage of his plan.

 

He opens the door and begins walking up the passage, when as fortune would have it, Buchard appears from the other end now alone.  A weight lifts from his shoulders as he sees Armageddon is not present at the moment.  Mace explains that he has completed packing the eggs, and is ready to go.  He asks Buchard if a change of clothes is available, to which Buchard nods in the affirmative.  Mace continues that for the ruse to succeed it may be best if he didn’t have the Cremlan Sword, and asks if any others are available.  Buchard shakes his head at this suggestion, explaining that he may need the Sword to prove his identity with Mileno, or if he has to enter another Temple.  Mace doesn’t challenge what Buchard says, and amends his comment to that of hiding his Cremlan Sword when riding.  Buchard is happy with this, and says that he can find an ordinary Sword for him to carry during normal travel, so as not to raise any suspicions.

 

Buchard walks back to the egg room with Mace, to collect the bags.  As they walk Buchard explains that Mileno has a base next to the Laster Lake, and it is from here that the operations in the Laster Woods, and Laster itself are co-ordinated and run from.  Buchard will give him a rough map of where to find Mileno, but does explain that all may not be as it seems, as it will seem like a normal farm type building with tidy gardens surrounding it.  As for the eggs, they do prefer warmth, but should survive the journey to Mileno without any difficulty.  The current cold will probably slow their development slightly, but Mileno will be able to speed things up again.

 

Buchard tells Killian that he shouldn’t worry too much about the eggs, as long as they aren’t bumped around too much.  A gentle trot should present no problems.  The eggs will need no attention during the short journey.

 

As for magical assistance, Buchard asks, “Will your Lord not provide this?”  Mace believes that Buchard must think Armageddon is his Lord, so he quickly backs down on this request, not wishing to push this too far.  Mace just says, “Yes, of course he will.”

 

Mace picks up the bags as Buchard moves off to his room to fetch the Sword and change of clothes.  As Mace carries the surprisingly light bags up the passage, Buchard returns and slings a bag over his shoulder, which he can tell holds a Sword, Map, and a change of clothes.  Buchard wishes him luck, and tells him to give Mileno his best wishes and he will see him soon.  Mace nods that he will pass this on, then moves up the passage and towards the exit route from the Cremlan Temple.

 

Mace feels a headache coming on as the tension and pressure begins to affect him.  All goes well until he reaches the final passage when he sees some fifteen kobolds all lined up long the wall, barking and yapping to each other.  Mace holds his nerve and pushes past them.  The four foot high Dog creatures show Mace quite a lot of respect and move out of his way as best they can.  Two Kobolds even help him up the ladder which now helps the exit and entry through the illusionary pool.

 

Walking through the Temple, and past another group of Kobolds, he keeps his head down, especially as he hears Armageddons voice approaching.  Mace keep shis head down and just walks past Armageddon, as Armageddon gives orders to a group of Kobolds that follow him.  Armageddon just nods at Mace as he walks past, but says nothing. Mace increases his stride and reaches the Horse he is to ride.  He loads the bags carefully onto the Horse, casting glances behind him to where a pyre of bodies is being prepared.  Seven Kobold bodies are laid out in order, and obviously with some ceremony.  Mace grimaces as he then sees the many bodies, about 30, of the Rangers being manhandled (or is it Kobold handled), around the seven Kobold bodies.

 

Mace is about to leave when Armageddon and Buchard appear outside again and a shout from Armageddon calls everyone to attention.  Mace was about to mount the Horse, but lowers his leg again, deciding not to risk leaving now in full view of everyone.  The Kobolds begin gathering in the clearing and surrounding the pyre.  Mace can see that some sort of ceremonial ritual is about to take place.

 

Armageddon begins talking to the Kobolds in their strange language, none of which Mace understands, but he pays attention anyway.  Loud cheers, yaps, and barks go up from the Kobolds after things Armageddon’s says.  He keeps pointing to the seven Kobold bodies, and then pointing to the skies.  Mace guesses that this ceremony is honouring the dead, and praising their great victory.

 

Mace then witnesses the true horror of Armageddon, and has to prevent himself from reacting or being sick.  The heads of the dead Rangers are crudely hacked from their bodies and thrown, kicked, hurled into the middle of what will soon be the pyre.  The pyre is then lit, but only the Kobold dead and the heads of the Rangers ignite.  The chanting and noise from the Kobolds increase, whipped up by some fancy arm waving and shouting by Armageddon.  The word “Cremlan” is being uttered several times.

 

Mace has seen enough, and with all the commotion going on decides that now is the time to make his move.  Smoke now swirls around the clearing hiding his exit, so he leads his Horse into the trees and past the Kobold pickets, who are more interested in the fire than Mace leaving.

 

Mace leads the Horse for another 100 yards, and then mounts up, half expecting a loud shout and a group of fifty Kobolds to come chasing after him, but they don’t.

 

Gentle trotting through the trees, Mace breathes a huge sigh of relief at having escaped from the Temple.  Perhaps Armageddon isn’t so sharp, but there again perhaps it was Maces timing and nerve which won the day.  Mace feels a prickle down his spine as he realises exactly what he has done, and perhaps a new hero has been born this day.  Stealth can sometimes win the day, and the gentle footsteps of one person, can sometime do more damage than a mighty army.

 

Mace turns his mind back to real practicalities now, and although he has left the Temple safely, he now begins to wonder if in fact his ruse will ever be found out.  If Armageddon doesn’t ask Buchard about him, or visa versa, he may still be safe to perform some further covert activities.  His mind begins to wonder if in fact he has been blessed with a certain amount of luck.  As he trots forward he wonders where to go next…..

 

Chapter 29

 

ACT II SCENE IV

 

Mace guides his Horse through the trees, feeling the fresh breeze upon his face and revelling in the feeling of freedom and release from the immediate pressure and tension he was under within the temple.  He still has a lot to do, but at least he is now in control of his own actions for a short while. His mind begins to wander though and thoughts that it isn’t just luck, but the fact that he is a genius, and that he may even be invincible saw him through the last few hours.  If anyone was watching Mace, they would have been more then surprised when he suddenly slaps himself around the face a couple of times, in an attempt to bring him back to his senses.

 

Mace mutters to himself, “Don’t be a bloody idiot and just count your blessings that you’re not dead….or worse!”  He struggles with his thoughts as his Horse leads him further away from the Temple, and towards the Lake, where the next stage of his quest awaits him.  He urges his Horse to speed up, as the thought that a chase may be on, led by who knows what from the Temple.  Perhaps Armageddon is casting some mighty Magic upon him at this very moment.  This thought causes Mace to kick his Horse, and the Horse rears up and speeds off into a gallop across the plains towards the West, kicking up slush as it goes.

 

 A few hours of a fast trot and Mace reaches the trail which connects Laster with Zoon.  He wonders what is happening in these two Towns, checks the coast is clear and moves across the trail.  There seems little evidence that anything has moved along the trail in recent days.  Not far from the trail though he crosses a mushy are of slush, where it seems a group of humanoids have recently crossed.  Mace makes a pure guess that there may have been about twenty creatures, all seemingly on foot.

 

He moves Westwards again, ever wary of ambushes or of anyone following him, but he sees nothing.  Ahead he sees the Lake, and the Mountains that seem to hang over the water to the North, and as he closes the trees of Laster Forest and a smaller Forest at the side of the Lake come in to view.  He changes his direction slightly and begins moving to the North West aiming for the smaller grouping of trees where he hopes Mileno will be.

 

He watches out for any groups of Rangers, but sees no evidence of any other humans or creatures having travelled recently in this area.  Although the thaw is on, it still seems a little early for creatures to begin moving freely across the wilderness.  The trees come ever closer as Mace begins to slow his progress, now preferring caution rather than speed.

 

Moving into the trees from the East and continuing to move toward the Lake, he decides that now is the time to hide some of the eggs.  He stops his Horse in a smallish clearing and listens for a while.  All is quiet.  He dismounts and finds a good area to bury four of the least active eggs.  He arranges them in to one sack and begins to dig into the ground.  The ground gives easily and the area should be easy enough for him to find again.  His Horse grazes upon some early spring grass, which has sprouted above the slush.

 

Mace concentrates on the hole, but as he begins to fit the sack into it, he gets an uneasy feeling.  He continues for a few moments, scraping a little more earth away so that the eggs fit snugly.  He places the sack in to the hole, and then feels a shiver run down his spine.  He knows the sensation, something or someone is watching him.

 

Mace stands up, and turns very quickly on the spot and stares at exactly where a stranger tries to hide.  Mace challenges, “Who are you, what do you want?”

 

The man looks behind to see if Mace addresses someone else who has turned up, but realises that mace challenges him.  The figure stands up and prepares his response.  Mace feels edgy, quite rightly and looks around to see if the stranger has any allies, and the stranger does the same.

 

The silence seems to last for many minutes as both men eye each other up, but in fact only seconds pass……..

 

STRANGER

 

Height 6ft 6 inches; Weight 250lb; Build = Huge; Hair = Messy Black and Beard; Eyes = Grey; Sex = Male; Age= 38ish; Distinguishing marks = Singed Hair and no eyebrows.

 

Equipment = Chain Shirt; Arm Greaves; Leg Greaves; Grey Shirt; Gray Trousers; Boots; Weapon Belt; Scabbard Belt; Brown Cloak with Hood; Steel Gauntlets.