­Knight to E-5

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Entry 3360 17/03/12 19:40
"I don't know," Diana said as she took the boy's hand. "Alexios!" she called out.

The group was met only with echoes of Diana's voice. The girl stood and braced herself against the wall. Her right thigh throbbed where a rock had been thrown into her. She rubbed it while reorienting herself in the darkness. After a brief pause, she allowed herself to be pulled deeper into the tunnel by Cyrus.

"I fell back into him, but he must have slipped past you. Watch where you step, just in case he's injured." She limped along at the rear with the siblings just in front of her. "Did you hear or see anything that could have been him?"
 
Entry 3362 22/03/12 06:51
There was only the sound of shuffling feet for a short while. The children were breathing loudly and Cyrus had let go of Diana's sleeve so she could move at her own pace. 

"No," Cyrus eventually answered. "He probably went ahead."

It appeared that they were in a mine or secret tunnel. Though the quality of the stonework and supporting wooden beams was quite average, it was not common for mine walls to be reworked with cobblestone. Small moist mushrooms squelched beneath their boots and shoes and water drips echoed somewhere nearby. The tunnel twisted and turned and suddenly sharply took them uphill. After climbing some stairs, fierce, blinding light shone from ahead. Cyrus shielded his eyes and with a gasp began to bolt towards the light, but a noise stopped him. He heard yelling and clanging of metal. His heart sank and he motioned with his hand for the children to stay where they were. 

Slowly, he lowered into a crouch and crept up the last of the steps. In the dreary overcast light of late afternoon, he found himself in the face of a cliff on a small clearing with some trees and large roots gripping the stone face. He lowered himself onto all fours and peered over the edge of the cliff. Below was a camp -- a large military camp. Rows of canvas tents were littered about a large valley with a small stream running through it. A few thin pillars of smoke rose from some tents and the banging came again. It sounded like a blacksmith working. He began to look for emblems or flags to indicate what province the soldiers belonged to, but he couldn't see any. [1]
 
Entry 3364 02/04/12 21:39
Diana shimmied past the children and knelt behind Cyrus. Bracing against the masonry, Diana lowered her body onto floor. A part of her torso rested on the boy's back, which left neither of them particularly comfortable. The girl peered out over the edge's lip and carefully inspected the camp below.

"That is rather unfortunate," Diana commented impassively, "If this is where I think it is, there should be no military camp here. Which means, unless you know of any re-enforcements headed our way," she paused hoping Cyrus would interject, "there are several hundred enemy soldiers between us and the nearest city."

Rotating her body more on its side, she peered upwards and then back downwards. "There are no vines overhead and the roots only reach up the cliff face about half way." The girl pushed herself back into a crouch. Once steady, she pulled Cyrus up by his collar and turned him around. "We're not getting out this way without rope, and I didn't see Alexios's body at the cliff's base."

Diana peered behind herself. The two young sibling's faces were only slightly illuminated in the darkness. "Meaning, he didn't come this way. We must have missed another passage that leads to the clearing." She turned to address Cyrus, and paused when something caught her eye.

Reaching past his head, Diana pulled an old iron torch from the wall. Resting it on the ground, she tore part of tattered shirt free and pushed it into the head. Digging through her bag, she pulled a small corked pouch and a small stone. After emptying the bag's contents onto the cloth, she struck the stone against her shears and struck the torch ablaze. The burning oil smelled horrid, but produced no visible smoke.

Rising to her feet, Diana slipped past the children back into the darkness with the torch in one hand and a sword in the other.
 
Entry 3367 28/04/12 21:23
Diana shuffled back into the darkness, her torch held forth like a shield. Cyrus urged the children along behind her and took the rear. They pass a section where the walls were made of brick and were particularly jagged. They all slowed right down to inspect the many large inlets along the wall. 

"Over here," Cyrus whispered. Diana held the torch where he was pointing. The wall seemed to part to reveal bare stone, but there was a gap between the stone and brick. Cyrus slipped in sideways and vanished from sight for a moment. "It doesn't lead anywhere. I bet there are other gaps that do."

Sure enough, they found three other paths that lead down tight, dark, passageways. One had no footprints in the dust, one had one pair of footprints, and one had many footprints. They elected to go down the corridor with one set of footprints. For the first minute, the passageway was quite cramped, and the children complained of bad smells, but eventually it opened up a bit. They descended a flight of old stairs and the passageway opened up to a long, narrow room carved in stone. They all paused. Cyrus pointed his spear at the darkness. 

"I was hoping I'd lost you..." Alexios stood behind them, bearing a pretentious smirk.
 
Entry 3368 28/04/12 21:33
The young siblings simultaneously let out quivering breaths of relief. Diana sheathed her sword and moved to Alexios' side. Kneeling to a crouch, the girl rubbed her neck, massaging out aches that had manifested themselves over the last hour. The flickering torch illuminated specs of dust as they drifted through the air. Diana looked up at the prince exhausted, "I'd like to know why you went ahead without us, but I feel there are more pressing matters. Did you see the encampment?"
 
Entry 3369 28/04/12 21:42
Alexios nodded. "This tunnel leads to a door at the base of the cliff. It was used to access the watch tower that used to be on the very top. The door is right behind some tents. We can sneak out and..."
"What?" Cyrus interrupted sharply. "We? Your Highness, I was assigned to bring you back to Phedailin."
"Clearly the situation has changed," Alexios said. "Orders change with it. You lost not only your companions but the letter that provides written proof that you were sent by the king. For all I know, you're a peasant with a red robe, a spear, and a light spell that some homeless mage taught you for an olar. As I am of the highest official authority here, I say we sneak into the camp, find out who's in charge and what they're doing, and THEN report back to Phedailin."
"Why not report back to the lord of Leotyne? We're in Leotyne itself. You think Lord Lance isn't to be trusted?" Cyrus gave Alexios only a moment to digest his question. "And what of the children? You would drag them through an enemy camp and risk their capture, torture, or..." Cyrus trailed off. 
Alexios looked from Cyrus to Diana. "I didn't ask for them to be brought with us."
 
Entry 3370 28/04/12 21:54
Diana glared at Alexios, but said nothing. Instead, she wearily rose to her feet. "Alexios is right. We may be in the best position to report on whatever is happening out there," she paused while staring at the children, "Cyrus, do you remember the stream at the far side of the camp?" The young mage nodded. "Take the children there moving along the mountain side. Alexios and I will meet you there after he's found whatever he needs to find."
 
Entry 3371 28/04/12 21:59
Cyrus's gaze drifted to the floor. He seemed as though he was about to object. Instead, he squeezed his palm shut and opened it so a soft light shone before him. He nodded at the children and guided them back the way they came. 

Alexios watched them leave. He looked to Diana with his hands on his hips, shifting his belt as he cleared his throat. He opened his mouth to speak but he said nothing. He just walked past her, almost bumping into her as he strode across the long room to the doorway at the far end. 
 
Entry 3372 28/04/12 22:10
"Alexios," Diana called in a low tone. The prince turned with the distance of the hallway between them. The girl reached into her pouch and withdrew and dark purple vial and tossed it to the prince. Catching it midair, he felt the liquid contents swish around violently inside. "The next time you want to leave them behind, give them that. It's enough sleeping medicine that they wont be your trouble anymore." The girl's eyes were narrow and cold.

Diana snuffed out the torch by the heel of her boot. With a hand on her sword's hilt, she closed the distance between them. "If you leave them behind, you should at least show enough mercy to kill them yourself." This time, she strode past the prince keeping him at a distance.

With her shoulder, she peeled the door open and exited the darkness.
 
Entry 3373 28/04/12 22:25
Alexios said nothing. Diana rushed past him and began to move the door. Alexios pocketed the vial and pushed past her, peering into the grey light outside. Right before them was the back of a canvas tent. The air was still and quite cold. The only voices were some way off. Alexios crouched low and went to the edge of the tent, glancing around the corner carefully. Only more tents, seemingly arranged in a jumble. He went back to where Diana was and put his ear to the canvas to listen. After a minute, he motioned for Diana to pass him her shears. He took them and cut a small slit in the material. He looked through. 

The inside of the tent was dark and still. There were mats and bedding items rolled out across the floor, with two heavy chests against the left side. There were no visible people or weapons. Alexios got to the ground and cut a horizontal opening along the ground level that wouldn't be very visible. He whispered for Diana to follow and to listen for anyone approaching as he crawled underneath. The inside smelt musty and cold. He heard Diana shuffle in behind him as he stood and looked around. He used his sword to snap open a lock on one of the chests. He tugged out a tunic and turned it over to find any insignia. He found the emblem of Jevithem, the province to the east, and the ones who seemed to be burning down the towns. 

"We can put these on," Alexios said. "Have you ever practiced expionage? Of course not, you're a farmer. Just put this tunic and these bits of armour over your outfit and pull back your hair. Let me do the talking..." 

He threw some items to her and began to put his own Jevithium outfit on. He spotted some hooded cloaks in the corner. "Ah, perfect." 
 
Entry 3374 (28/04/12 22:59) 28/04/12 22:38
Diana frowned at the garb. Haphazardly, she pulled the tunic over her head and aligned the emblem to match the way the soldiers had worn it. Having never worn armor before, it took her nearly two minutes to buckle the first strap correctly. "Is the center of the camp our goal?" Diana inquired as she tore a strip of cloth off the tunic's canvas. With a twirl of her wrists, she had bound her hair in a knot at the base of her neck. 
 
Entry 3375 28/04/12 22:50
"Well," Alexios said as he handed her a cloak with a hood to pull over, to hide her hair. "I need to find out what these soldiers are doing and who is telling them what to do. I don't know of Jevithem would send in a paladin to lead this army, but if they have, I need to find his tent. It would probably be near the middle. Your name is Leana, my name is Balthus. I'm a champion, you're a soldier. Got it?" 

He put the cloak on and tugged the hood down to make his face less recognisable. "Keep one hand on the grip of your sword under your cloak, just in case." He gave her a serious look and they exited the tent.

The air in the camp seemed different. It was somehow colder and tighter, harder to breathe. Suddenly, there were soldiers all over the large camp. All eyes seemed fixed on the pair. Alexios lowered his gaze and walked as normally as he could down the aisles of tents. He guessed that Diana was right behind him, unable to muster the courage to check over his shoulder. He only now realised he was holding his breath. He sighed and choked a bit on his own saliva, coughing loudly. More eyes turned to him. The air felt hotter. A large, tall tent came into sight, still a few rows of tents away. Alexios felt, more and more, that they were all suspicious of him. He had spotted well over a hundred soldiers by now, and he was visibly shaking. He had to stop and rest. Taking an enormous gamble, he strode into a tent straight ahead of him. There was nobody inside. He gasped as he caught his breath. Slowly, he turned to check that Diana was behind him and that nobody had followed them in. 
 
Entry 3376 28/04/12 22:59
Diana had been right behind him. She side stepped and placed her back to the corner of the tent. With a finger, she gently parted the canvas and peered through the crack. Her hand was still relaxed on the hilt of her sword. Neutrally, she commented, "Good thing this wasn't the mess hall." The girl stepped back and turned to the prince. "For a moment, I thought you were going to exclaim that you were a spy." Despite maintaining her composure, her free hand jittered slightly.
 
Entry 3377 11/05/12 20:56
Alexios visibly ignored the impulse to retort to her jest. He looked around the room and started fumbling through things without moving them too much from where they originally were. The tent seemed like a common tent that any old soldier would be staying in. The frown on Alexios' face told that he wasn't too sure what he was looking for, or he wasn't finding anything like what he was looking for. He stepped over someones bedding on the floor to go through a chest in the corner of the tent. Blurry shadows of soldiers drifted past the front of the tent. 

"Of course they wouldn't give their men copies of their orders... too incriminating..." He stared at the chest while down on one knee. He stared with utmost concentration. "We need to find the tent of whoever is in charge." 
 
Entry 3378 11/05/12 21:00
She stepped back from the tent entrance allowing the flap to shut. "Well, we're no where near the center of the camp. Would you prefer that I lead? Guiding you is my job after all," she said with a harmless half smile.
 
Entry 3379 11/05/12 21:04
Slowly he stood. As he turned to her to check her again for jest, he shifted his outfit and nodded. 
"Perhaps for the best. They're less likely to notice me if you're leading and less likely to recognise me..."
He rested a hand on the grip of his sword and swung his cloak around to conceal it. He went to Diana and motioned her to lead the way. 
"After you, Leana."
 
Entry 3380 (11/05/12 21:27) 11/05/12 21:24
"Of course, Balthus," she gave the prince a gentle nod.

The constant tension over the last two days had distilled itself into a dull numbness. Although fear remained with her, Diana reasoned that if she was walking to her death, she would at least do it with a level of confidence. Without any further delay, she pivoted on a heel and strode through the tent flaps.

Diana wore the most disinterested expression that she could muster, and although soldiers glanced their way, they quickly grew disinterested. At each junction, she adjusted their course, causally looking back the direction they came. The girl set a moderate pace and Alexios faithfully stayed on her heels. After several minutes of her maze like navigation, the pair passed a larger tent with two soldiers standing guard.

Diana strode right past them and turned at the next opportunity. With no hesitation, she led the prince off the path and down an awkward path between tents careful to not cast a shadow on any canvas. As she stopped, Alexios drew near. She gently tapped the coarse cloth of the rear of a larger tent and handed Alexios her shears.

"I'm guessing the big one with guards is the one we want," she whispered with a wink.
 
Entry 3381 11/05/12 21:34
Alexios took the shears and knelt on the ground. He glanced at the canvas of the large tent. They both paused and listened. There was someone talking nearby, but it was hard to tell whether it was coming from within that tent, or from the tent behind them. He looked left and right, scanning the canvas, until he found the smallest of tears. He shuffled to it and carefully peered though. Inside this tent, it was dark and warm air flowed from the hole, catching Alexios off guard. He blinked it off and spotted a desk, some other furniture, and some chests. It appeared to be empty. Slowly and quietly, he cut open a hole towards the bottom of the canvas, and he dropped to the ground and crawled under it, waiting for Diana to follow. 

The interior of the tent looked like the furnishings of a small rich bedroom with canvas wrapped around the outside. A single timber beam supported the top along with a simple frame of wood held up by corner pillars. A little overwhelmed with the number of places to start searching, he turned to Diana, who was crawling in, and motioned for her to look around the desk while he checked the chests one by one. 
 
Entry 3382 (11/05/12 21:59) 11/05/12 21:51
Still in a crouch, Diana shuffled quietly over to the desk. She skimmed through notes on soldiers performance, duty rosters, and some high ranking soldier's personal correspondence. Still none of it seemed to have any real significance. Then again, these documents probably weren't meant for shepherd. As she stacked the papers aside, Diana uncovered a map of the region spanning the desk's surface.

It seemed like one of the cheap maps available at most inns around Leotyne, but a slight off blue tone in some of the ink caught her eye. There were names and numbers scribbled in various locations on the map. Her finger navigated to the valley they currently occupied to find "Sir Arjun" carefully scripted. In small print below his name was the number 600.

The girl pulled the map free. She rolled it tightly and tucked it under her cloak along side her sword. With near silent movement, she slipped to Alexios' side and touched his arm. "I found a map outlining their positions and numbers." Somewhere in the distance, something large and heavy hit the ground. Soon after, there was a muffled shout and a group of soldiers trampling past.

"I'm pretty sure we're in Arjun's tent. I suggest we leave, now," Diana urged, trying to pull Alexios with her.
 
Latest Post Entry 3383 (11/05/12 22:18) 11/05/12 22:16
There was another loud thud and then roaring laughter. There was some yelling about someone being drunk again and more laughter. Then there was a shout that was disturbingly cut off. A cold silence followed. Alexios looked to the opening he had cut. Part of the canvas had torn and the tear was about a foot high. It flapped in the slow breeze. He muttered a curse under his breath and urged Diana through, reassuring her that he would be right behind her. When she had crawled through, he began to shift a large chest across, pinning down the loose canvas and hiding the hole completely. 

"I'll find you," he whispered hoarsely through the canvas. "Run and hide."

A few men burst into the room. One sounded loud and angry, the other two seemed quite intimidated. 
"But... sir," one of the men stammered. "Our position is tactically ideal... Nobody else knows th-"
Crack. The man wobbled as he took a fist to the jaw. Alexios had concealed himself between the back side of a wardrobe and the canvas wall. Though he couldn't see what was happening, he knew the sound of a punch quite well. 
"He's too drunk," the other man said. "Let us go."
"I did not dismiss you!" a familiar voice replied. "Come back here, you dogs!" There came the sounds of a struggle, and then silence. A strange feeling came across the prince. It was the feeling that, though his eyes and ears lent no proof, the room had less people in it then it did a few moments ago. It sounded as though the tend may have been empty once more. He waited a good minute and then slowly, carefully, he got on all fours and peered out from under the wardrobe. He saw two boots under the desk. He couldn't remember if there were boots under there or not, so he wasn't sure if it was a person or not. He watched them fixedly, holding his breath, until, with a groan, one of the boots moved. 
"Why?" The voice was dry and scratchy, but it was clearly Arjun. Alexios recognised the paladin's voice almost immediately. "Why do you test me so? You promised me glory... and you give me goats as soldiers and grapes as... as..." There was the swishing of liquid and Alexios heard him scull something. The prince began to try to think of a way to escape...
 
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