tagSci-Fi & FantasyCities of Power Ch. 07

Cities of Power Ch. 07

byxelliebabex©

Authors note: This storyline has very little sex in it so if you are looking for a stroke piece this won't be it. Thank you very much to Paul who has volunteered to edit for me as I attempt to finish off this series. Enjoy! ~Ellie

*

As the first light of day stained the night sky, thirteen men and women sat upon their bikes, their faces set in grim determination. The three magicians, Flint, who couldn't be dissuaded, and Talon joined them. Both Talon and Flint had kept vigil at Trix's bedside, and only when they were sure she was in no further danger and would live did they leave to join the ranks of the warriors. At the last-minute Emery emerged and approached Flint, handing him a long-handled war hammer and nodding solemnly before seeking out Terra and climbing onto the back of her bike.

The news that a Night Walker had sacrificed fifty of his people to break through the wards around Trix and kill her baby, and almost kill her in the process, had shattered everyone in the fortress and the clearing where the warriors camped. The further information that the Night Walkers had locked any who opposed them in the cells beneath the castle had appalled them further, and they rode knowing they were beginning a war that would affect every corner of their world.

The plan, such as it was, had been hastily constructed in the small hours of the morning by Judah and Gabriel, as Ayla worked to ensure that Trix lived, despite the loss of the baby. Fanatics and Elementals in the two other Cities of Power had been alerted to the situation, and the leaders had agreed to send reinforcements of their own. Bikes roared to life in Phoenix as the big men of Gryphon prepared the march to join the battle against the Night Walkers.

Despite being on the edge of the plains, it took Talon and his men most of the day to make the ride, and when they arrived at the castle of Pegasus the gates were shut to them. Flint walked forward, hefting the war hammer, and, with the magicians behind him, began to hammer at the closed gate. It splintered and came apart with three mighty swings of the weapon, aided by the enchantments of the magicians.

The bikes powered through the streets of the lower township, making for the keep and the inner sanctum. Once they had battled their way into the keep, the party split up and, upon hearing the Phoenix reinforcements enter the streets below them; they sought out the Night Walkers with renewed energy. Ayla and Flint made their way down into the penitent cells accompanied by the earth and water warriors, while the air and fire warriors followed Judah and Talon into the inner sanctum where the black and purple robed men, along with their following, were attempting to battle with the only power they had.

"Stay angry, focus that rage, let no other thoughts enter your minds," Gabriel chanted as he continued to cast warding spells over each of their companions and brush away the attacks psychics levelled at him.

"Now!" Judah yelled, as Emery broke down the door with a war hammer of his own. The warriors rushed in as one, levelling their tasers at the men and women within. Judah linked the charges from each of the Tasers into a net and cast it at their opponents. Most went down on the first cast, and those that remained soon surrendered.

"The great city of Pegasus taken down by thirteen warriors and a few villagers," Judah stunned a black garbed night walker close to him. "What a stupid fucking waste!" he spat as the six warriors bound and secured those that had been defeated.

"Wait!" Judah roared, and heard a rumbling deep within the castle. "Two of you stay to secure these arrogant idiots, and the rest follow me!" He raced through the castle to the lower levels. As he had suspected, the Night Walkers and their followers had taken prisoners and were threatening to kill them all to thwart the prophecy in response to the battle they had brought upon themselves.

"The prophecy will always be fulfilled, no matter the meddling of stupid people!" Flint roared, surprising everyone. "Verdani's daughter, Jade, is now the Jewel, and I am the Hammer, kill me like you killed my sister's child, if you dare!" He roared and swung his hammer at the gates of the penitent cells. "Rise together good people of Pegasus, save yourselves and your town from those who would see you all die!" He roared and swung the mighty war hammer again. His rage at what these people had done to his family was so complete that he felt none of the attempts to attack his mind as he tore the gate from its hinges.

So focused on the madman swinging a war hammer were the Night Walkers and the purple robed mystics who followed them that the ensuing battle was over quickly, as the people of Pegasus, once free of their mind control, turned on them as one.

Gabriel focused all his energies on Flint as Judah picked up a semi-conscious man in black robes from the floor and shook him. "Where are the rest?" He demanded. "I can feel them! Where are they?"

"I will take you," a purple robed mystic offered.

"Why would we trust you?" Judah sneered.

"Verdani, come forth!" Ayla commanded. "Do you vouchsafe this man?" she asked the woman, who looked fearfully at Flint as she nodded.

"He was locked in here with us at the beginning of yesterday. He did not agree to follow the black."

"I apologise," Flint addressed Verdani through gritted teeth. "What I said was untrue. I am not the Hammer and Jade is not the Jewel. I sought only to distract and draw their power to me. Your daughter is a sweet and beautiful girl. Even now, knowing the peril of her city, she cares for my ailing sister who clings to life, despite the death of her baby."

"I am sorry for your loss," Verdani said, stunned by his words. "Thank you for helping us, despite what we have done."

"You have done nothing to me or mine. Those who believed themselves above all others have wrought this evil and placed the burden of it upon us all. I must go," Flint said abruptly, and followed the others back up into the keep to find the last of the black alcove. "You must lead your people now. If you are half the woman your daughter believes you to be, you will lead them on the path of the right and just." He strode away from her, his anger barely held in check and simmering just below the surface, not realising that the legend of the son of the Hammer and Jewel would be born from that moment when he spoke with kind words to Verdani.

*****

Pyre had been taken into the fortress and rested in the same room as Trix. She was comatose, but otherwise seemingly unharmed. It was as if her mind had fled her body. Glow, unable to go with the warriors, watched over her for a time.

"What happened?" Trix asked as she stirred from her sleep and looked up into the soft expression of relief on Jade's face.

"You have lost your baby," Jade said quietly, knowing no other way to tell Trix. "You almost lost your life but for the efforts of the witch, Ayla. I am sorry, Katrix. We tried so hard to save you both," She said sadly.

"I know you did," Trix said in a whisper, her voice catching. "It is no one's fault that sometimes the fates work in strange ways, and, if I am lucky, there will be more babies in the future." Trix gave a crooked smile as she crumbled a little inside. It had barely formed in her belly, and not enough to show in the swell there, but she had felt the tiny life and felt as if she had lost part of herself, despite her brave words.

"How can you be so accepting?" Glow asked, moving toward the small pale woman lying in the bed beside Pyre. "This could have been avoided if not for me," she blurted, tears filling her eyes. "The black man was still in my head, that's how he found you here, and there was nothing I could do to warn you. The words wouldn't form in my mouth no matter how hard I tried."

"This isn't your fault," Trix said, even though she felt like the woman had punched her in the stomach with her admission. "You were used, like so many others, by evil people. I do not blame you," she whispered, seeing the anguish and grief on Glow's face. "Do not tell Talon," Trix said. "Let this be between us and know that I bear you no ill-will." Trix closed her eyes again and let sleep take her, wishing Talon was there to hold her and tell her that he still loved her and that everything was going to be okay. Tears fell to her cheeks unbidden as the darkness took her blissfully away from the two women who looked at her with pity in their eyes.

Glow fled the room in tears, leaving Jade staring after her but unwilling to leave her patients to follow the distraught woman. It was hours later when Jason, looking exhausted, entered the room to lend Jade assistance that she asked about the red warrior. Samael brought the fledgeling magician and the healer food and agreed to seek out the red warrior for them as they watched over their patients. Jade kept Trix sedated as she hastened the healing of her body, even though knowing that she couldn't help the mental anguish losing a child would have on the young woman. She knew she could ease the effects of her dreadful internal wounds, however, and she concentrated on helping her to heal rapidly with the aid of magical charms Ayla had set upon the girl.

*****

The three leaders of the clans of fire, earth, and water rode with Gale, who once again represented the air clan to Pegasus at the call to arms against the black alcove. They led the warriors of Phoenix as far as Gryphon, where they stopped as a courtesy to the leaders of that city but had found that they had marched with the men of Justice at the first cry to battle and were hours ahead of them.

When they arrived in Pegasus, the battle was almost complete, and it seemed that the twelve men and women of the quorum had managed, with the help of the magicians and two village men, to subdue the agitators with very few casualties. They had raced through the streets to the castle where sounds of fighting could still be heard.

"Father!" Char called, as the four men made their way to the inner sanctum. Scorch turned his head and breathed a long breath at the sight of his son, unharmed and hurrying toward them. "Come, the leaders of Gryphon are inspecting the inner sanctum. Bay, Kaolin and I are meeting Sirrus there to answer questions while the last group are being cornered in the side of the mountain. There is a cave system at the back of the castle where they have retreated," Char spoke quickly, filling his father in on the state of the battle.

"Ah, good, it is best not to have to repeat the same story," Sirrus said, seeing his father enter the sanctum with the other leaders followed by Char. He nodded to them all, staying diplomatic as he addressed the leaders of the two remaining great cities, as well as his father and the leaders of Phoenix.

Sirrus began by explaining where they were and why they had camped in a wood near the plains half a days ride from Phoenix. He then explained the attack on and subsequent death of Talon's unborn child and its mother, who was alive when they left the village. He spoke about the magicians' time in the mist tracking the source and what they had found before calling for the aid of both Gryphon and Phoenix.

"We rode at dawn, as did you, for the city to save those locked in the cells below before they were sacrificed to feed the deluded ravings of the mad man," Sirrus paused. "I am not a notable warrior like my colleagues, and was not at the forefront of the battle on each front as they were. They are best poised to detail what happened upon our arrival," he said diplomatically.

"How did they know where to find her when those with power in the mists had been seeking the mother of Talon's child for weeks?" Jacob of Gryphon interrupted him.

"I will answer that," Char stepped forward and looked at his father sadly. "We believe the initial link the Black Robe had made on Glow remained, and when Katrix emerged from her hiding place Glow acted as a conduit of sorts, despite the wards created around the girl. The black sacrificed fifty of his people to gather enough power to break through to her using Glow, and perhaps Pyre, as a way to reach her."

"The conduit was of your clan?" Jacob asked, and at Char's nod spoke again. "Thank you for your honesty. The truth can sometimes be painful to acknowledge."

"You were at the forefront of the battle?" Scorch asked him, somewhat eager to put his clan in a better light.

"I was, father," Char admitted. "The young blacksmith beat down the front gates with his war hammer, and we rode into the city. Entering the castle, our party split into two, one group heading here to the sanctum where their black Night Walkers and Mystics waited for us, and other group went down to release the prisoners from the penitent cells. I came to this room with Talon, Sirrus, the Prophet and the Sharman. Despite his words, Sirrus was at the front of the battle with us. Kaolin and Bay went below with the witch and the blacksmith. We had not realised at the time that they had divided their forces into several areas of the castle and only fought on two fronts to begin with."

He went on to explain that the Night Walkers believed their skill so superior that they were unafraid of the small party of warriors that confronted them and had tried without success to influence the minds of hardened warriors who had been protected by the Prophet and Sharman. They had been subdued easily by the tasers being cast in a net by the Sharman. They were then tied and restrained and now sit below in the penitent cells under guard by the men of Justice until the cell doors are repaired.

"Repaired?" Jacob asked tilting his head curiously. "Were they damaged in the melee?"

"Perhaps it is best if Bay or Kaolin answer that question. They were present during the battle in the cells," Char acknowledged and stepped back, allowing one of the other two to take the floor.

The two warriors looked at each other silently before Bay stepped forward. "Gentlemen, father. Please excuse my reticence to discuss the events in the lower levels. I am a simple man with a simple view of the world. Seeing a prophecy turned to flesh and played out before my eyes has shaken my belief in what I know to be real and true. So, I will cede the floor to my friend and colleague at this time."

"Gee, thanks," Kaolin rolled his eyes at Bay and stepped forward.

"It is as Sirrus had said in the beginning, the girl, Katrix, was attacked and almost bled to death from the internal injuries she suffered. Her brothers are the two village men who travelled with us here. Both were born to the Hammer of the north and a woman named for a Jewel. They are good and kind men who would never have come here if people were not being murdered to give the madman enough power to attempt to murder their sister," Kaolin said, obviously shaken by what he had witnessed as well.

Kaolin went on to relate the story of how they had gone to the dungeon and the black man's minions had begun to kill their own as they drew power from them to attack the warriors confronting them. He spoke of Flint's roaring challenge and the swinging of his mighty hammer as if speaking of a god, and how he demanded the good people of Pegasus rise against their captors and help themselves rather than dying for a mad man. He related that the Sharman arrived and discovered the location of the remnants of the black alcove, and the majority of the warriors, including the son of the hammer, went with him.

"When it was over in the cells below, we hadn't lifted a finger, and the only dead had been victims of the Night Walkers," Kaolin finished his telling of the story.

"Do you concur with this version of events?" Torrent asked Bay.

"I do, and I could have sworn the blacksmith grew another foot taller when he challenged them all to try and kill him," Bay shook his head. "I've never seen anything like it. I'm still not sure I did see it," he shook his head.

"The men of justice will interview the witnesses. If, as you say, he stood heroically between the innocents and the enemy, then he will be rewarded richly," Jacob said solemnly. "The source can give normal men untold power in a moment of crisis, perhaps this was one of those times."

"We will take some time to discuss the events as you have told them and organise some interviews with other witnesses. You say that none were killed by the warriors of Phoenix or the villagers?" he asked.

"To my knowledge," Kaolin nodded and gratefully stepped back in line.

"We will seek out the men of justice below in the cells if you would like some time with your fathers," Jacob came to his feet. "We would like to meet with the magicians and the man with the hammer when they are finished with the rabble. If you could ask them to find us below." He instructed, then led the silent members of his party out of the room.

"Before you say anything else, I would like you to know that I will defend the actions of every man and woman who rode with us today. That includes the brothers of Katrix," Sirrus said in a firm serious voice.

"As will we all," Kaolin nodded.

"What happened here was evil, and good men need to stand against it at all times. We are glad you are all unharmed," Gale said just as formally.

"Grew another foot, Bay? Seriously?" Torrent looked questioningly at his son.

"At least! It was the dumbest, bravest, most awe-inspiring thing I have seen in my life," Bay shook his head. "I still can't believe it was real."

"Believe it, because I saw it too," Kaolin said solemnly.

"Where is Glow now?" Scorch asked gruffly, knowing that his clan were in some way to blame for the events of today.

"The attack on Katrix spilt over onto Pyre and eventually Glow. I think Pyre may have tried to protect Katrix when she realised what was happening. She seems physically unharmed, but she does not wake. Glow passed out but woke this morning. She was left in the bandit village near where we camped."

"Was that wise?" Scorch asked.

"We had few options at our disposal last night, I'm afraid. I will ride back at dawn with Talon to ensure that all three women recover from the ordeal." Char said.

"Would it not be best to send another?" Scorch asked.

"If I may," Kaolin interrupted. "All eleven of us will follow Talon tomorrow, as we have done since the day we left as a quorum of thirteen. It is important to us to remain together now. The world is turning on its axis, and, if I must go to war, I know I want to ride with these men," he indicated the three men standing with him, "As well as the rest of our quorum."

"And what of the man with the hammer?" Thorn spoke for the first time. He was quite proud of the way his son was handling the events of late and that he was becoming a leader in his own right.

"We will take him back from where he came. He is no threat to Gryphon or Phoenix," Kaolin answered his father. "Though I believe if you invited him to visit as a guest he would visit each city voluntarily. There are four sons of the Hammer, and should you seek to cage one the prophecy may just have another rise in his place."

"That sounds ominously like a threat," Thorn narrowed his eyes at the four young men.

"Not at all, Lord Thorn, Kaolin is repeating the warning the Pegasus men were given today by the magicians."

"We will speak with the magicians when they are ready. Go see to your friends," Thorn dismissed the younger men but called his son to him as the others also went to speak briefly with their own fathers.

*****

Realising that they would probably be detained if they waited until morning to leave, Talon led his group of warriors, along with Emery and Flint, from the demoralised Castle of Pegasus through the city streets in the pre-light of dawn. The big men of Justice stood guard at the broken gate and formed a line blocking their path as they approached.

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