Book 7 - The Crimson Storm - Chapter 31: Winds are Swirling

1 reply [Last post]
httyyd's picture
httyyd
Online
Supreme Viking Champion
Joined: 10/12/2013

Oh man, are you guys going to be in for a whale of a ride.  I have got pretty much the whole end of the story outlined, all I have to do is just write it.  But it will probably take me 3 - 5 chapters to write it after posting this chapter.

 

With what I have planned, start thinking about the last chapter's title:  Clouds are Rising.  Now this chapter:  Winds are Swirling.  Comparing that to the title of this book... Things are about to get intense and we are not even using tents!

 

I hope you enjoy the chapter!

__________________

 

Rest in Peace NarixuZen.  2004-2017

Member/Group Leader of S.O.D.A.H.T

 

Click SoD Hack Watch or SoDAHT to report a hacking:

Also use this form to help better keep track of the hackers:  (click here for form)

 

The Wedding

New - Part 4

 

Book 8 Coming Soon!!

 

Destiny in the Dark

Chapter 3 - Friends and Enemies

 

Proud Leader and fellow member of:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are links to the chapters of my fan-fic series.  The books go in chronological order.

 

The Clue of the Missing Socks.

Chapters 1 and 2                         Chapter 3                                       Chapter 4

Chapter 5                                      Chapter 6                                        Chapter 7

Chapters 8 and 9                        Chapter 10                                     Chapter 11

Chapters 12 and 13                     Chapters 14, 15, and 16             Chapter 17

Chapter 18                                    Chapter 19                                      Chapter 20

Chapter 21 and 22                      Chapter 23                                     Chapter 24 and 25

Chapter 26 - There is a hidden surprise.  Can you find it?

Chapter 27                                   Chapter 28, Part 1                         Chapter 28, Part 2

Chapter 29                                   Chapter 30                                       Chapter 31

Chapter 32                                   Chapter 33                                       Chapter 34

Chapter 35                                   Chapter 36                                       Chapter 37

Chapter 38                                   Chapter 39                                       Chapter 40

Chapter 41                                   Chapter 42                                       Chapter 43

Chapter 44                                   Chapter 45, Parts 1 and 2

 

The Mysterious Frozen Fire

Chapter 1         Chapter 2         Chapter 3         Chapter 4         Chapter 5         Chapter 6

Chapter 7         Chapter 8         Chapter 9         Chapter 10       Chapter 11       Chapter 12

Chapter 13       Chapter 14       Chapter 15        Chapter 16       Chapter 17       Chapter 18  

Chapter 19       Chapter 20      Chapter 21        Chapter 22, Part 1       Chapter 22, Part 2 

Chapter 22, Part 3

Epilogue/Preview for my Third Story!

 

Thoughts of Guilt

Chapters 1 and 2          Chapters 3 and 4          Chapter 5          Chapter 6          Chapter 7

Chapter 8          Chapter 9          Chapter 10          Chapter 11          Chapter 12, Part 1

Chapter 12, Part 2          Chapter 13         Chapter 14         Chapter 15         Chapter 16

Chapter 17 and 18         Chapter 19         Chapter 20         Chapter 21         Chapter 22

Chapter 23         Chapter 24         Chapter 25         Chapter 26         Chapter 27

Chapter 28         Chapter 29         Chapter 30         Chapter 31         Chapter 32

Chapter 33         Chapter 34         Chapter 35         Chapter 36 and 37

Chapter 38, Part 1         Chapter 39, Part 2         Chapter 40, Part 3         Chapter 41

Chapter 42, Parts 1 and 2         Chapter 43         Chapter 44

Chapter 45, Part 1         Chapter 45, Part 2

 

On the Edge of Mystery

Chapter 1          Chapter 2         Chapter 3        Chapters 4 & 5    Chapter 6, Parts 1 and 2   

Chapter 7          Chapter 8         Chapter 9            Chapter 10       Chapter 11        Chapter 12

Chapter 13        Chapter 14       Chapter 15          Chapter 16        Chapter 17       Chapter 18

Chapter 19        Chapter 20       Chapter 21          Chapter 22       Chapter 23      Chapter 24

Chapter 25        Chapter 26       Chapter 27         Chapter 28        Chapter 29 Parts 1 and 2 

Chapter 30       Chapter 31       Chapter 32 and 33                         Chapter 34 Parts 1 and 2 

Chapter 35 Part 1         Chapter 35 Part 2        Chapter 35 Part 3        Chapter 36

 

The Secret Symbol

Chapter 1    Chapter 2    Chapter 3    Chapter 4    Chapter 5

Chapter 6    Chapter 7     Chapter 8    Chapter 9    Chapter 10

Chapter 11    Chapter 12    Chapter 13    Chapter 14    Chapter 15

Chapter 16    Chapter 17    Chapter 18    Chapter 19    Chapter 20

Chapter 21   Chapter 22   Chapter 23   Chapter 24 and 25

Chapter 26    Chapter 27    Chapter 28    Chapter 29 and 30

Chapter 31    Chapter 32    Chapter 33    Chapter 34    Chapter 35

Chapter 36    Chapter 37    Chapter 38    Chapter 39

Chapter 40 and 41    Chapter 42    Chapter 43, 44, 45, and 46

 

The Legend of Shadow Mountain

Chapter 1    Chapter 2    Chapter 3    Chapter 4    Chapter 5

Chapter 6    Chapter 7    Chapter 8    Chapter 9    Chapter 10

Chapter 11    Chapter 12    Chapter 13    Chapter 14    Chapter 15

Chapter 16   Chapter 17    Chapter 18    Chapter 19    Chapter 20

Chapter 21    Chapter 22    Chapter 23    Chapter 24    Chapter 25

Chapter 26    Chapter 27    Chapter 28    Chapter 29    Chapter 30

Chapter 31    Chapter 32    Chapter 33    Chapter 34    Chapter 35

Chapter 36    Chapter 37    Chapter 38    Chapter 39    Chapter 40

Chapter 41    Chapter 42    Chapter 43    Chapter 44    Chapter 45 & 46

Chapter 47    Chapter 48    Chapter 49    Chapter 50    Chapter 51

 

Teaser "Trailer" for Book 8 - Conquest of the Truth

 

The Crimson Storm

Chapters 1 and 2     Chapter 3    Chapter 4    Chapter 5    Chapter 6

Chapter 7    Chapter 8    Chapter 9    Chapters 10 and 11    Chapter 12

Chapter 13    Chapter 14    Chapter 15    Chapter 16    Chapter 17    Chapter 18

Chapter 19    Chapter 20    Chapter 21    Chapter 22    Chapter 23

Chapter 24    Chapter 25 and 26    Chapter 27    Chapter 28    Chapter 29

Chapter 30    Chapter 31    Chapter 32    Chapter 33    Chapter 34

Chapter 35 and Epilogue

 

The Wedding

Part 1     Part 2     Part 3 

httyyd's picture
httyyd
Online
Supreme Viking Champion
Joined: 10/12/2013
The moment when I wish I didnt have Homework so 2 write the rest

The Crimson Storm

 

Chapter 31

Winds are Swirling

 

         Not a word of conversation is said on the trip, only direction corrections by Garth.  We want to be sure we enter the area by the east to be able to come up on the island and go right for the cove entrance.

         After a few hours of traveling, we are now flying west and soon see the islands on the horizon.  By the look of the islands, they do not seem much bigger than the size of Berk.  Still, that would make these islands quite large, yet compact and in close relation to the other.

         From a couple miles away, we could see the opening that Garth had mentioned.  There is, at least to me, an obvious over growth of vines growing down the side of the cliff that gradually spread out to cover the opening.  Garth further mentions that we should fly two-by-two to ensure that we can enter the cove as quickly as possible.  Garth says that the cove is big enough, but even he seems a bit unsure.  Once within a mile, we slow our dragons down to a steady cruise.  This will be sure that we will not make a lot of noise on the approach and can react fast enough to anything on the inside.

         I am worried about being spotted on our way, but with the towering cliff face, we should be fine.  We quickly came upon the entrance.  Directly after entering, I start to slow down, giving enough space for everyone to be able to get their dragons in.

         Cazi remarks, “This place is massive.”

         The cove we are in is extremely large.  What it might actually be is an underground cavern that has an outlet to the ocean.  The cavern is several hundred feet high and even wider than that.  I would have to guess that this cavern spans this entire section of the island.  Another thing this makes me wonder is if this island was once a large volcano and this cavern was one of its main reservoirs of magma but has since gone dormant, obviously.

         I did not want to lose any time, so waved Annabeth and Cazi to come follow.  The start here is for the three of us to scout the land while our friends and family wait.  While on our dragons, we fly up to just below the bottom of the cliff face, Dawn accompanies us.  Annabeth, Cazi, and I get off our dragons and grab onto the cliff.  We then motion to our dragons to follow Dawn back into the cove and wait.  Even our dragons look like they know how serious this is, they did not want to go but did not resist going.

         The three of us climb the rest of the few feet up and peek over the side.  We see that there is a pathway that goes perpendicular to us and about ten feet from us is a line of trees making up a forest.  Seeing no one around us, we pull ourselves up and dash to the cover of the forest.  Taking point, I lead my two friends to the other edge of the island.

         It took about five minutes to get over there at a brisk crouching walk.  The closer we got, the more we heard the sound of a crowd chanting and someone speaking.

         Once we did get to the edge of the forest, there is a light rise which we lay down and crawl up on.  Barely peaking over the edge, we see before us a multitude of vikings on multiple, hollowed out levels in the islands themselves, spanning the fifty feet distance down to the water surface below.  We also hear viking below us too.

         The islands are indeed very close to each other in a circle, probably less than ten yards apart.  There is open area in the center where the water comes in from the ocean and is slightly cover a mound.  This opening is about twenty to thirty yards in diameter.  This mound has all the features of a once active volcano, but all that is left is ash and pumice rock in various size chunks.

         A voice below us startles us, it is the speaker.

         A male viking blasts out his voice to be heard, “That is right, brothers and sisters.  Soon… SOON we will return to our home that had been ours once before.  I have seen a vision that showed me the prophecy is upon us!”

         There came roars from the crowd.  Just looking out over them, I would have to say there are at least one hundred vikings, if not more.

         The viking continues, “Those who would appose us will soon learn what happens when they stand in the way of the prophecy.  We were able to defeat them once before as we scattered their forces.  But as you all know, as we tried to save others, our enemies cut us off from our home.  Yet, they too, have been cut off trying to keep us from our rightful place.  But stay encouraged, salvation is near!”

         Another uproar commenced.  A knocking sound of maybe a staff on wood is heard; the crowd hushed again.

         “Our numbers grow.  Our strength grows.  Our resolve grows,” stated the booming viking.  “The great dragon, the great protector will raise a new champion for us.  One that is both man and dragon, one that will cleanse this whole world of all impurities.  While we were once factions of a whole, we will show the Izarians and the world, just who the Masked Vikings are!”

         Another roar is heard, the viking continues, “Yes, the title given to us by our adversaries, but embrace it, because they fear us!”  A short chorus of clapping came.  “The Dragon Hunters and The Dragon Protectors are no match for the pure, unblemished Dragon Conquerors that we are!”

         Again, an uproar from the crowd comes before they quiet down just as fast, “Our time away from our rightful place grows shorter, stay strong!  Prepare for our journey ahead!  And be ready to receive your salvation!”

         The crowd exploded with cheers, clapping, and stomping.  The viking did not stop the crowd, so he must be done.

         The uproar transitioned into a collective chant, “OO-TOO-RAH-AH!!  OO-TOO-RAH-AH!!”  They kept repeating with corresponding stomps on the ground.

         I had seen enough.  I crawl back a bit before getting up to jog into the forest a bit to stop and comprehend what I just heard.

         Cazi asks, “Do you think that was Einar Verodfellar?”

         “I’m not sure who else that would be but him,” I answered.

         Annabeth adds, “It gave me chills.  Who do those people think they are?  They sound like they are willing to go the ends of the earth for this guy.”

         Cazi went a step further, “Almost a little too willing, if you ask me?”

         Annabeth questions, “Do you think he is hiding something?”

         Cazi nods, I think out loud, “Just the way that the guy was talking.  Seemed more like he was trying to be persuasive than to be truthful.  Talked a bit in circles and gave the crowd what they wanted to hear.  But one thing’s for sure, something big is going to happen very soon.”

         Annabeth shakes her head in disbelief, “I just cannot understand it.  Do they really know what this Einar Verodfellar guy is really capable of doing?”

         I respond, “Not only do they know what he is capable of doing, do they know how far he has gone?  The way he put it, he made it sound like he is in the right and everyone else is wrong.”

         Before I could think of something next, someone other than the three of us said in a very familiar voice, “What are you guys doing?”

         The voice is so familiar that I was not surprised when I turned around.

         It is Aiyana, with four other vikings.

         The other four are two girls and two boys, at least five years younger than us, if not more.

         Both Annabeth and Cazi declare, “Aiyana.”

         I can tell both of them want to do something, so I take charge of the moment, step forward, and say, “With the crowd so large, Aiyana, we just had to get a glimpse of the action.”

         Aiyana, without flinching, goes along, “I know, right?  That is exactly what we came up here to do too.”

         One of the boys exclaim, “I can’t wait for this thing to happen.”

         The other boy adds, “I know, our parents keep telling us what it was like to have our own home, but that was before our time.”

         Another girl corrects, “Well, at least before a time that we could remember.”

         The last girl asks, “How do you know these vikings?”

         Aiyana calmly tells her, “These are some of the friends I met while I was traveling.  After talking with them… They got my message.”

         Cazi folds her arms, but plays along, “Yeah, we just can’t wait to see what you guys are about.”

         The first boy observes, “You said some of the friends?  Should we expect more to come?”

         I could not help but say, “They are close and will be coming soon.  We wanted to go first and make the accommodations so you guys would be able to handle all of us.”

         Aiyana changes the subject, “While it was awesome to hear this ground, breaking milestone, you four best be getting back before your parents get home.”

         The kids bid us all goodbye and ran on home.

         Annabeth then walks up to Aiyana, folds her arms, stares Aiyana right in the face, and very plainly says, “Hi there.”

         Cazi steps forward as if she wants to punch Aiyana, but get between the both of them, saying, “This is not the time, nor the place.”

         “Regardless of what you guys must think of me,” Aiyana states.  “I’m glad you came.  Come on.”

         Aiyana then leads us out to the main path and then walks us towards the south, probably to the next island.

         I am about ready say something when Aiyana answers what I was going to ask, “Don’t worry.  There are newcomers to this place all the time.  You’ll basically fit right in.  Most of Einar Verodfellar’s is still at the other island.  No one here should recognize you, let alone know who you are.”

         Aiyana then takes us on a tour of all five islands as well as the levels, starting with the island to the southwest.  She mentions all of the islands make up a hexagon like shape.  To get from one island to the next, there are wooden bridges spanning the ten-yard gap between islands.  For each of the other four levels, there are bridges for those too.  Each island is several hundred feet or wider and fifty or more yards long at its longest length.  Obviously, since these islands are in a hexagonal shape, their longest length would be the outside and their shortest the inside, seeing how opening in the middle is only about thirty yards across, ninety plus yards in circumference.

         This first island has a lot of housing for all the vikings here.  To see the various kinds of vikings, both young and old, single and families, is rather difficult to believe with what Garth and Lilah have said about these vikings as well as what my crew and I have found out about the Masked Vikings.  To see the enemy’s side of thing from their point of view, creates a stark contrast.  As much as Aiyana explains a lot of the events that Garth has already told me about how Garth lost his home, the way Aiyana is portraying these Dragon Conquerors, one might think they were the ones that lost a home.  The more I see, I could understand how these vikings would believe that they are the victims here, not the Izarians.  Yet, something here still does not feel right.  All five levels of the islands, including the top of the ground, the southwest island all had housing.

         After we had worked our way down the levels, we work our way back up the other levels for the next island.  All of the islands except for the last island that has the forest, all the levels are open air to the center of the chain of islands.  At the edge of the levels near the center, this is where all the crowds had gathered to watch Einar Verodfellar say his speech.  The last island, the fourth level, just below the top soil, has what looks to be some type of throne room with a platform where I am guessing Einar performed his speech.

         The northwest island has the docks and a lot of storage for things ranging from seed and flour to catapults and arrow launchers.  The docks are a full-fledged operating dock with several ships and spaces for other ships to anchor or unload cargo.  Most of the ships in the harbor look more like transport ships, some for vikings and some for cargo.  Also, all of the ships seem old and worn, as if these are the original ships that brought all these people here.  A building near the docks is a stable for the many animals that this place would need to help sustain itself.  In one of the stables is Apollo, Aiyana’s Dramillion.  In the very next stable, I spot Koll’s Changewing.  So, Throst is at least here.  I wonder if there is anyone else here that we know.

         Seeing this island brought back the reality of the situation.  Einar wants to go to war, and he is not secretive about it.  All the people see it and just continue walking by.

         The island to the north is more of the marketplace of the while chain of islands.  Blacksmithing, forging, meat markets, sewing, are a few of the shops that we are seeing.  Several places where someone could go in for a bite to eat or a place to relax.

         The northeast island, Aiyana states is about the same as the other housing island, just for the leadership of the clan, as she calls these people.  There are fewer houses, yet they are bigger and better-quality buildings.  Fewer people are over here and they are dress for the status of what this island is supposed to be for.

         Aiyana stops short of going to the last island, though it is only the forest in front of us, “That island is only for leadership to go.  Another reason why to get off the top level of the island.  No one else is allowed, though no one ever checks the top level as it is just all forest.  Yet, no one questions what could be on the other levels because all that is over there is a meeting hall for and a massive cavern that no one uses.”

         That last comment got my attention, as it did Annabeth and Cazi, but I did not speak; Aiyana continued, “No one has reason to doubt anything that Einar says or does because he has never given them reason to.  If they only knew.”

         Aiyana turns back and walks down the way we came, “But I am almost positive that is where they are keeping my Kaimana and any other things that Einar doesn’t want the rest of the people to see.”

         “So, it is true,” I reply.  “Einar is hiding something from the people.”

         Aiyana nods, “Einar has these people eating out of the palm of his hands.  They are good people, but they are also naive.  Einar has got them to believe that everyone else is at fault, but what all that Einar has done.  From what I am able to gather, even when Einar led his forces against the Izarians, Einar still contended that the Izarians were at fault, not himself or his people.  And the people believe him for he has brought them riches and power, supposedly more than they had before the war with the Izarians.  Yet, I am still unable to find out from anyone why they started the war with the Izarians in the first place.  It is like they don’t care how it got started, they just want to finish it, even if they don’t realize they are in the wrong.  Einar has disillusioned them.”

         “Jarl,” Annabeth declares.  “These people don’t sound like they are at fault either.  This is all Einar’s doing, not them.  Our fight is with him.”

         I counter, “Yes, but they are willingly following this guy.  Before one follows anybody, they should first find out what the person’s vision is that they are leading.  But I also agree, these people don’t know and have no reason to question if everything looks alright and seems alright.  Maybe we can show them otherwise.”

         Aiyana proceeded to lead us back down the way we came and we went to the fourth level on the fourth island.  Coming back through here, my gut starts to turn inside out.  While walking through here, no one is around.  No one was around before this, but looking at the other islands and their levels, they look like they have become deserted.

         Annabeth, who is on my left, I take a step to her and subtly point with my hand at our surroundings.  She also nods and Cazi’s look is also of the same realization.

         We are now about halfway through the level to the other side when I stop and ask, Aiyana, “How far are you willing to go for your dragon?”

         Aiyana stops and hangs her head as I think she knows we know; she turns and looks back up at us, “As far as it takes to ensure her safety.”

         I challenge, “Even at the loss of friendship?  Even at the cost of lives?”

         Aiyana’s look changed from resolve to worry, then to regret and right back to resolve, “I’m sorry,” she says.

         From the side of the entry of the level in front of us, we see a band of vikings appear and start to come at us.  Annabeth, Cazi, and I retreat the opposite direction to run away.  Then from the other direction we see another band of vikings, cutting off another way of escape.  We duck to the left in between some of the houses to go to the secondary street, then going behind the next row of houses near the wall of the island.

         Cazi, a bit worried, said still positive, “What are we going to do?”

         “Well,” I stated.  “We did know they were expecting us, so we did account for this.”

         “But we didn’t account on it being this early or in this way.”  Annabeth then suggests.  “Cazi and I can go out and divert their attention away so that you can escape, Jarl.”

         Nearly calling out by going to a hoarse whisper, “What?  No, you are not doing that.  Stop talking like that.”

         I peak out behind the building and look down the alley way.  The vikings are coming in at a slow pace as if confident that they will catch us.

         Annabeth demands, “You got to get out of here, Jarl.  If we all get captured, it will just play into their hands.”

         I turn around and look Annabeth straight in the eye, I counter, “We stick to the plan.”

         While I look back to see where the vikings are at…  Annabeth and Cazi run past me!

         “Wait!  No,” I call out but then hesitate on going after them.

         Both girls run to the main straight and head right.  This takes all the vikings attention off of a search and then go after the girls.  Trying to think of what to do, I am caught between two choice that are seemingly of equal magnitude, but one is the smart choice that my gut is saying and the other one is the one that my heart is saying.

         I swiftly go out to the edge of the building near the main street and look to my right.  Up the street about twenty yards is the scene of Annabeth and Cazi already kidnapped with the vikings taking both of them, pinning them to the ground, and tying their hands behind their back.  None of the vikings look like hey had any intention of taking into consideration the pain they were causing by pinning both girls to the ground.

         When I see that, my heart takes over and I run out.  Not more than a moment later, Annabeth sees me as well as some of the other vikings.

         Aiyana then orders, “There is still one more.  Get him before he escapes!”

         Annabeth then yells out, “Get out of here!”

         “But-,” I call back.  Annabeth cuts me off with both frustration of the situation and my stubbornness.  “Just get out of here idiot.  Trust me.  Trust our plan!”

         I shake my head in disgust and then sprint away in retreat.  My heart is telling me to go back but my true heart is telling me to escape.

         Running full speed now, I take the stairs to go up to the top level.  I have quite a lead on my pursuers, so I take a moment to think of what to do next after climbing the flight of stairs.  I need to get back to the rest of the crew, but the time in which we were going to meet back up with Dawn at the top of the cliff is still a couple of hours from now.  But I still run towards that direction.

         Taking the bridge to that island, I start running down the main path along the edge of the cliff face.  About five minutes running, I look behind me and see the vikings coming after me in hot pursuit.  Finally, to the place where Annabeth, Cazi, and I had climbed up from the cliff face, I think fast of what to do next.

         With very little options, I run into the forest about ten yards, then turn right back around, and then jump out and fly off the cliff!

         My arms are to my side as I look to the ocean that is coming up fast.  The trajectory that I aimed for is taking me out to be fifteen feet from the cliff face.  I prime my grapple read to fire while I still dive down head first.  I wait until I am halfway down the cliff face.  A moment later, I look forward at the cliff face, and fire my grapple hook into the rock.

         Ting!

         The hook lodges itself into the rock and I continue to let out the line from my bracer.  Within fifteen to twenty feet from the bottom, I lock my grappling line in place, and brace for the jerk.

         “Ah!” I wince in pain as the line become taught.

         Holding onto the chain with all my might, I now swing down and back towards the cliff face, keeping my feet up by just narrowly missing the water.  This pendulum swing slows down the majority of my momentum, but corrects my trajectory from going straight towards the ocean to now swinging through the cove entrance.  Before the line could be caught on the top of the cove entrance, I then release the grappling line and then dive down arching towards the water.  I brace for impact with the water by having my arms stretched out in front of me with my hands clasped together.  This position causes the least amount of resistance to penetrating the water.  I submerge into the water about eight feet or so with another ten feet to spare before the bottom of the cove.  To finish off, I swim back up to the surface and make my way swimming in the rest of the ten yards to the rocky beach that the water comes to on the shore.  Pulling myself up to the land, lay back as I catch my breath.  I am exhausted, but not tired.

         Now, taking in my surroundings, I hear the eerie sound of silence.  No talking, no dragon sounds, no echoes.  My worst fear is starting to come true.  I do not let that govern my thoughts, so therefore get up and start to explore the cavern.

         Ten minutes of searching… Fifteen minutes later… Twenty…  Searching caves, going through tunnels, calling out for my friends and family and dragons… The longer I go, the more I am convinced.  Probably a half hour or more since leaving Annabeth and Cazi…  I do not know, maybe it has been longer than that…  I have lost count how long it has been…  …Annabeth and Cazi are captured and I can find no sign of the rest of the crew.  As much as I do not want to say nor deal with, the only other answer for this is everyone but myself is captured.

         All this is a bit overwhelming for me, and I did just recently jump off a cliff.  Remembering that, my right arm starts to have some shooting pain.  I am back down on the rocky shore.

         Laying down again, I stare upward, not focusing on anything.

         Telling myself out loud, I question myself as I put my hands on my forehead and wipe them down my face, “How could this happen?  Why did this happen?  I thought we had a plan, but do I continue to trust it?  I knew we were basically walking into a trap, but I thought we could handle it.  Have I over reached finally?  Have I finally let done my friends, family?”

         My thoughts start racing, but then I shake my head to clear it.

         “Drowning in my own self-doubt or complaining about the situation will not get anything done,” I snap myself out of it.  “I need to figure out what to do next.  Better yet, I need to stick to the plan.”