Child's Play

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Entry 2815 23/05/08 00:00
The three boys stood before the throne in a line, all quite afraid to move. They were being watched by half a dozen men who could be best described as grim. They were equally still, though not of fear. For a few minutes they stood so, and then three of the men suddenly went elsewhere. Perhaps, they thought, they didn't need so many men to watch three boys. Obviously they had never encountered many village boys before. 

Jared looked past Conir to William and simply gave a wide-eyed stare as though suggesting something. William stared back and then blinked. Both their eyes drifted to the floor and then across to the man standing to their left. The man whose face was partly shadowed in hood could only be assumed to be staring back. 

"What's that in your hand?" Jared asked, pointing to the man's halberd. The man said nothing. "Well? Can you talk? What is it?"
"I think it's a hoe," William said with a smirk. "You know, for tilling soil."
"You don't till soil with a hoe!" Conir cried. "You use a... a..."
"A tiller?" suggested Jared. 
"Why would a soldier have a hoe?" William asked. 
"He's not a soldier. He's obviously one of the Twilight Blades," said Conir. 
Jared smacked him upside the head. "They're the Shadow League, you dunce. Didn't you hear Luke? They only wish they were the Twilight Blades. They're just wannabes."

The guard with the halberd lost it. He cried out in annoyance and lunged at Jared, who was closest. The boy hit the floor as the halberd swung overhead. The guard behind them had to interfere. He had the first guard on the floor, standing between him and the boys.
"We don't harm the children," said the second guard. 
But the second tried to stand again and attack them. The third guard to the right of the boys joined the second and together they pinned the crazy one against the wall. The boys crept out of the room and found a shadowy alcove to crowd into.
Entry 2816 14/06/08 00:00
The man led Luke into a sitting room that looked somewhat out of place. This room was constructed out of wood and there was a fire crackling in a hearth nearby. It looked like a lodge and had very homely, comfortable feel to it. 

However Luke felt like there was something sinister about the room. Dark magic, he was sure of it. It permeated the room and he could almost smell it. The man reclined into a large armchair and leaned back. "Please sit down my young friend and make yourself at home."

Luke couldn't see any harm in doing so and sat down, though he remained ready to spring up should the need arise. "What do you want with me?" Luke asked.

"Calm down my young friend. We have no need to be at war with each other while without cause. We are both well bred men so let us discuss things in such a manner.

"My name is Lord Brahkin of the Shadow League and ruling noble of Leotyne."

"Ruling noble? What's that mean?" Luke asked.

"It simply means that I am currently the noble who rules the realm of Leotyne. My Lord does not permit us to use the term 'lord' to refer to our position."

"That's ridiculous! Leotyne's ruled by a Lord, just like all other provinces!"

"And we can just let the world go on thinking that," Brahkin said, winking.

"Then where is Lord Lance?"

"Top secret information there I'm afraid. Let us not dwell on that affair. How would you like to be Ruling Noble of Trelinia? Think about it, the whole province under your command."

Luke thought about it and was surprised and disgusted to find himself tempted. The thought of power, with people paying attention to him and being kind to him. It was quite tempting, but before he could respond there was a clamour outside and Brahkin rushed out to see what the problem was. Luke took that moment to attempt to shapeshift. He managed to turn into his pesant shape and was able to deftly and easily sneak out of the room and into a side tunnel.
Entry 2817 27/06/08 00:00
"What now?" William whispered. "They'll notice we're gone any second and come looking."
"I dunno. They seemed pretty stupid," said Jared. 
"Where did Luke go?" Conir asked. 
"That man took him through the door at the other end of the room," William said. "Do you think there's another way round? Maybe a back door?"

Conir shrugged. Jared drew his dagger and turned it slowly so it caught the dim light. Somehow, he felt powerful with it. He felt as though he could rescue Luke on his own. Before the guards emerged, the three of them snuck down the corridor and tried to loop around the throne room to find Luke, but the passages never led where they hoped they would lead. They found themselves a level higher. 

"We're never gonna find him," Conir sighed. 
William hit him on the shoulder. "Don't say that. He came down here for me, so I'm going to find him. I don't care if I have to do it on my own."
"Nah we're coming," Jared said. "Aren't we, Conir?"  
Conir shrugged. 

After more trekking and avoiding patrolling soldiers, they found themselves in a warm room. There were strange pieces of tubular metal coming out of the walls and joining onto large metal cylinders. Steam hissed out of a vent. 

"What the hell," William said. "What's this? It's not clockwork."
Jared observed the ground. At a certain point, there was a metal grate which showed a room below. It looked like a blacksmith, and there was a fierce furnace down there. 
"It's making fire," Jared said. "Let's destroy it."
William and Conir looked at him, and then at one another.
Entry 2818 01/07/08 00:00
Luke stumbled through the tunnels acting like a terrified boy; he made sure to rip and dirty his clothes whenever was possible. The walls of the tunnels were as half built as the throne room with some sections looking like the neat hallways of a castle. Others however were simply cave tunnels that had been roughly hewn for the time.

He descended some stairs in one of the finely built sections and moved constantly down as the stairs spiralled downwards. The stairwell was square and he couldn't see much of the bottom. He passed doorways that led off to other sections of the underground fortress and finally came to the bottom.

The stairs ended at a walkway around a pool of water. Though that would be something of an understatement. It wasn't a small pool, it was a huge reservoir the size of a lake. A great big cavern filled with water that he couldn't imagine where it came from. Then he noticed brass pipes, huge tubes of metal that led into the reservoir from many spots. He guessed they were either putting water in or taking it out.

Then he saw another set of pipes with a machine nearby that was making a low groaning noise and he guessed it was that machine that was taking water out.

"Then where is it going?" he wondered aloud.
Entry 2819 11/07/08 00:00
The boys tried and tried again to destroy the machine. They tried loosening the bolts, wriggling the hot pipes, kicking the barrels, and turning the knobs, but it seemed indestructible. Nothing moved at all. Jared had dedicated himself to studying it as William and Conir slumped themselves against a wall. The room was quite hot, so they were all sweating, and the steam also contained dirt, so they all had a sort of dirty sheen to their skin and clothes. 

"You can't destroy it," Conir told Jared. "It's like a metal god or something. It can't be killed. Wait! Luke! We forgot about Luke!"
Jared turned around quickly. "Oh! Do you think he's still talking to that man?"
"I doubt it," William said. "He told us to escape so he probably did the same."
"Where do these lead?" Jared asked himself aloud. 
"Where what?" Conir asked. 

The other two boys joined him. He was pointing at where some pipes went through a wall. They hastily left the room and tried to choose any passage that would bring them nearer to the pipes. At one point, they ran along the ceiling for some length of a corridor, but they lost them again. After almost giving up, they discovered one pipe running along the upper corner of a dark and mostly empty room. 

"This is damaged," William said as he stood on a chair and ran his fingers along it. "It's got like a chink or lump here. Where's the dagger?" 
Jared handed it to him.
Entry 2820 15/09/08 00:00
Luke moved around the end of the pipe. There was no space to fit in beside it and so the only option was to search for another way to follow it. He found this in the form of a small maintenance tunnel nearby hidden by a boulder coloured door; though itself made of steel. Stooping to fit into the low tunnel Luke followed it alongside the pipes.

 As he moved he could hear groaning noises and feel heat and moisture in the air. The tunnel he was in was sparsely lit, but there was an orange light starting to pervade the area. The sounds grew louder and he began to recognize something like clockwork. This however seemed different. It also struck him that there could be danger near and he was still shaped as a peasant. This changed quickly enough and now a young warrior walked through the tunnel.

It wasn't long after that he exited the tunnel into a vast room. Great machines of iron belched steam and heat into the air as the churned away with whatever they were doing. Though Luke would never tell anyone, he did have a somewhat rudimentary knowledge of steam power. Even with that however he had no idea what this was all for. And where were the boys?

Seeing nobody around and hoping for the sound of the machines to cover his voice he called their names out in hopes they might respond.
Entry 2821 16/09/08 00:00
Clang. William struck the damaged pipe with all his might, but the chair toppled and he fell. As he sat up, he saw that the dagger had penetrated the tubing. Steam was hissing out of it. He went to retrieve the dagger but the steam was hot. 

"Ow!" he cried. 
Conir hit him. "Shush, did you hear that?" 

They all froze and listened. There was hissing steam and the sound of distant hammering and yelling, but there was a voice that sounded different. It sounded closer and younger. 

"Is that Luke?" William asked, looking at the other two. 
"Forget the dagger. Let's find Luke!" Jared cried. 

They assumed the sound was coming from a nearby smaller passage, so they filed into there and ran quietly across it. They were getting further away from the machines, so their footsteps would be heard more easily by any of the residents. They ran into a vast room but quickly retreated a little out of fear that somebody out of sight may have spotted them. They looked about more carefully and saw a figure across the room. It looked like a knight. 

William stepped forward, calling out, "Luke? Luke!"
Entry 2822 16/09/08 00:00
The knight turned and it became clear it was not Luke. This was a man in black armour and with helmet covering his head and face. A deep, booming laugh echoed from within the armour that sounded of fear and hatred. He strode towards the children, a black mantle billowing behind him. He seemed unconcerned with the heat and the steam.

"Looking for someone were you? Well I can assure you that he is not present." His hidden gaze swept over the boys and he couldn't help but chuckle. "Three prepubescent children attempting to halt or even slow my plans? How foolish. That dagger has made little difference and events shall proceed as planned."

He flicked his hand and three tiny bolts of dark energy flew towards the kids. "Let it be known that Carson's Laws shall soon be undone." With that the man vanished into the steam and heat.
Luke hurried down the tunnel in which he'd heard voices. Brass and iron pipes were everywhere, but the steam seemed different. Ahead he could see a wall of steam pouring out of a fractured pipe. Coming up to the spot he peered through the steam and could see a dagger sticking out of a pipe. Using his cape as protection he wrenched the dagger free and looked it over.

It was indeed the one he'd given to the boys earlier and he stuck it in his belt as he continued his search. Obviously they came this way, he thought, but where did they go?
Entry 2823 16/09/08 00:00
"How do you know about the dagger?" William yelled as he stopped upon realising it was not Luke. 

But he didn't get a response. Instead, something dark and loud came flying at the three of them. They all dropped to the warm floor and there was a strange sound as the bolts struck the walls. William scrambled to his feet and rushed after the man, trying to push the steam out of his face, but he found only solid stone. He clawed at it and looked all around but there were no doorways or ladders. 

"William! Stop!" 

Jared and Conir pulled him away from the wall and out of the steam to one of the corners. William pushed them away but did not get up. He stared ahead, his face twisted in anger. 

"I'm gonna find Luke, or get back our dagger at the very least," Jared said. "I'll kick it out if I have to. You guys stay here so I know where to find you." And he ran back into the corridor he had come from but he bumped into someone as he turned the corner.
Entry 2824 17/09/08 00:00
Luke stumbled back as Jared crashed right into him. It took him a moment to recover his footing, but when he did he steadied Jared and looked over to the other two boys. "Well there you three are." He pulled out the dagger which by now had cooled and handed it to Jared. "Loose this?"

Moving away from the boys a little he scanned the room. He could've sworn he'd heard and adults voice speaking, but there was nobody else in the room. Plus there was only a single entrance to the room so it was even more unclear where the speaker, if there'd ever been one, had gone. Putting that matter aside for the time being he turned back to the younger boys. "Okay so we have steam powered machines going here and a giant reservoir that the pipes are coming from or going to. Questions are: what's going on and how do we get out?"

He sat on a piece of scrap metal and ran his hands through his hair and rested them below his chin. "Your parents must be worried sick about you three," he said absentmindedly. "That'll be a hell of a situation to sort out. Who has the most accusing parents?" he asked the three of them, a smile twitching onto his face.
Entry 2825 23/09/08 00:00
They were all lost for words for a moment. Luke pulled them out of the underground, hot, smelly, steaming, metal labyrinth and back into their own homes above ground, where the sun was warm and bright and the birds sang in tall trees. The three of them drifted away in their minds, realising how lost they were becoming in the tunnels and feeling suddenly quite homesick. They had no idea how long they had been down there, and were all tired, hungry, thirsty, and exhausted. 

"Jared does," William said. "They said I took the shoelaces from their shoes."
"You did take the shoelaces from their shoes," Jared said. "They caught you."
"Yeah but... they still accused me of it, didn't they?" retorted William. 

They both fell silent again. Conir said nothing. He didn't seem to be listening. He then addressed Luke: 

"Did you say that there is... umm... steam power here? Isn't that one of that guy's laws not to have any? The guards would be all over this place if we told them."
"But we can't get out," Jared said. 
"Luke will get us out," said William with a shine in his smile. 

Just as he sat down, there came the sound of a drum being beaten in the distance, but it was more chaotic than just a drum. It sounded as though the drum was hit once, and then it fell over and knocked down a support pillar. The walls trembled from its force. Within moments, there were distant yellings and shoutings. The three of them looked to Luke in surprise.
Entry 2826 06/10/08 00:00
The young warrior was just as shocked as his charges. The rumbling was ominous and terrible, but it didn't sound like an explosion. No this was different, like Riiga was being shaken to its roots and torn apart by something terrible. The yells too seemed of shock, not fear. Luke also felt something dark within the dungeons and tunnels. Something that was aware of the presence of one of the light.

Within Luke that little bit of divinity that was so small as to be nonexistant was urging him back the way he'd gone. Something was happening at the reservoir and he had no idea what. It was something though that seemed against all that stood to exist on Riiga. It defied Carson's theories, the teachings of priests and the very laws of nature itself.

"Come on you three. Something bad's happening. We need to find out what it is, get out and get to the closest military outpost. Guards, soldiers, warriors, knights, whoever we can find." He ordered them into file behind him. First Will, than Conir and Jared leading the rear. "Are you three scared?" he asked them as he led them back into the tunnels.
Entry 2827 17/10/08 00:00
They plunged back into the clammy steelyness of the tunnels and the mood of the three boys seem to appropriate to the change. Their faces became solemn and they were looking about cautiously as they weaved to and fro around corners in the trail of Luke. 

None of them seemed eager to answer the question. Luke's attempt at lifting their spirits was somehow more transparent than his previous recent attempt. William took it upon himself to give a respond after an unreasonably long pause. 

"We're not."

However, it was perceivable that he was. His moments were of fear and caution and the way his eyes darted to anything that moved was a sure sign that he was ready to either run or fight. And indeed there seemed to be adrenaline in the air as they made their way back to the reservoir.
Entry 2828 23/10/08 00:00
At the reservoir the water was changed. No longer just a clearness that reflected what was around it. Now it was a liquid that changed colour and bubbled with sparks of flame and jets of ice. It could easily be described as magic given liquid form. Yet it was unstable and something was emerging from its depths.

Luke emerged from the passageway with his companions to watch the frothing multicoloured liquid give rise to a hideous beast. Great tentacles broke the surface and lashed at the walls. The young warrior was forced to step back into the pipes to dodge a sweep of the tentacles. Yet more of these appeared, only they were tipped with crab-like claws.

Then from the liquid magic appeared its body. Luke would hardly be able to describe the hideous appearence of the thing. It was like a great fish's mouth that gaped open to show its sharp teeth like sword blades. Great pale orbs stared around at this world it found itself in. It was nothing Luke had ever heard of. Not a single book he'd ever read mentioned any such thing. Several Odanon came close, but this creature didn't seem to possess that intelligence and its power was different.

Luke gulped as he looked at the thing raging in the pool below. "Alright guys I have two tips. One, don't fall in in water and two, don't get eaten by the thing in the water." He drew his sword and grasped its grip firmly for comfort and courage. "I say we hold council. What should we do? Will speaks first, then Conir and finally Jared in that order. I don't want shouting."
Entry 2829 01/11/08 00:00
Strangely, there were no members of the Shadow League in sight or earshot as the monster scanned its surroundings. The whirling and hissing of the commotion below drowned out any distant yells that may have been echoing through the corridors. 

The boys, of course, were quite stunned. Though perhaps every child dreams of facing a monster and emerging victorious, this was far from anybody's description of a typical foe and somehow, simply by observing it, it seemed impervious to attacks. Perhaps it was the way the beast confidently watched and touched everything with its tentacles. 

"Are you kidding?" Conir finally cried. "We can't do anything to that! We have to get out of here!"

Jared yelled something quite similar in agreement but William was looking at something else. He was staring at a network of massive metal pipes that spanned across the ceiling, like rafters. He said nothing, but it was clear that his mind was ticking with thought.
Entry 2830 11/11/08 00:00
Luke held up a hand to call for silence and waited for the kids to finish yelling. Then he pointed to Will. "While you two were yelling your friend here has been using his brain." Luke followed the younger boy's gaze to the large pipes on the ceiling. "Good thinking William."

However his attention was distracted briefly by a movement in the shadows near the rim of the reservoir. He thought he saw a figure in black armour, but he wasn't sure cause when he looked at the spot more thoroughly he saw nothing. The great monster began to calm and its wild thrashing became more controlled. Luke muttered a quick prayer as it began to gaze around the room. The warrior wondered if it could actually see despite the appearence of its eyes.

"So we need to think of a way to get those pipes down here. Any ideas?" Luke asked, looking to the boys.
Entry 2831 18/11/08 00:00
"They're fixed in too tightly and too far away," William said with annoyance. 

None of the boys noticed Luke's distraction and were not really paying attention to the monster, though its presence was indeed weighing their minds a lot. 

"We could crawl in them and wriggle them loose," Conir suggested, "but we'd probably die... And it would take years to find where they lead." 

After more deliberation, the boys had come up with nothing, and everything they thought of only appeared to waste time, though, admittedly, the monster did seem to be calmer now. 

"What's it looking at?" William asked. "It just popped up and now it's sitting there being all stupid." He looked at Luke for answers, and for feedback on their unsuccessful brainstorming.
Entry 2832 13/02/09 00:00
"Well now it's gotten used to the place I imagine it's taking a good look around," Luke commented, gazing down at the creature. "I believe it's called a kraken. I'm remembering a story my nurse read to me when I was little and it talked about a big beast called a kraken, but I thought it was just a scary story." 

He gazed at the tentacled creature gazing around the new world it found itself. It let out a low growl that echoed around the room and suddenly it's tentacles flew directly towards the hidden boys. Luke pushed them all back and the slimey protrusions missed them by a hair. "I just don't remember if it was beaten at the end of the story." He hacked off the tip of a reaching tentacle with his sword. The creature growled in anger and withdrew its tentacles. Then it waited.
Entry 2833 15/02/09 00:00
They were now quite frightened. Deeming that it could see then without physically looking at them, they began to retreat back to where they had come from, but they didn't leave the room. William whispered the creature's name under his breath as he carefully peered down below. It seemed invulnerable to anything they could throw at it. They had nothing heavy to throw at it, nothing sharp to pierce its hide, and no way to actually reach it without heading back and finding their way down the network of corridors. 

The kraken thrust a tentacle at William peering over the edge and he jumped back. The appendage slammed into the railing, tearing off the metal and stonework. 

William smirked. "Perfect."

He ran back across the walkway to the far end, checking once or twice to see if the kraken was paying attention. Then he climbed to the other side of the railing and hung there for a second. 

"William!" Jared and Conir cried in unison. 

The boy fearlessly jumped out and caught hold of a piece of metal protruding from pipes running up the wall. With impressive dexterity, he began to scale the wall using the warm pipes. Once he reached the ceiling where the large pipes were, he swung round on top and crawled across to the middle. Then he began to yell and wriggle anything loose to toss at the kraken directly beneath him. The monster had to lift itself out of the water slightly to reach William, as there was at least four or five stories between them. It grabbed hold of the pipes and the fortress began to groan in pain as the kraken began to buckle and bend them. 

Finally, with a deadly snap, one end of the pipes broke and the other end came free from the wall. The mass of metal and stone tumbled downwards. The kraken saw danger and immediately sunk under the surface, but it was only a split second until the rubble and pipes slammed into the pond, filling the room with steam and spray and noise.
Latest Post Entry 2834 03/03/09 00:00
"Good job Will!" Luke cried as he crawled out of the damaged pipe. He climbed down a little to get a closer look at what remained of the reservoir. He dared not get too close for he knew to be cautious with such things. If you didn't know your enemy, then don't underestimate them. He kept his sword ready too just in case he'd need it.

Then suddenly in a burst of twisted iron and gallons of water the kraken emerged through a hole it created in the rubble. With a terrifying roar it flailed its tentacles around and grabbed for William with one and attacked Luke with another. The young warrior raised his sword and stabbed it into the tentacle as it came towards him.

The kraken sent in more tentacles as a form of back up, but just as they began to overwhelm their target they stopped. In fact the whole creature froze and stiffened and from its gaping maw it gurgled. Then its whole form darkened and flowed away into some source they hadn't noticed until now. Luke turned his head to see a man in dark armour holding a sword of dark iron in front of him. Luke watched as the last of the shadowy essence of the kraken vanished into the sword and heard the dark warrior let out a deep, rumbling laugh. Then like a ghost he was gone into the shadows.
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