Book 10 - The Shattered Axe - Chapter 23, Part 2 and Part 3: A Threatening Revolution

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httyyd
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Supreme Viking Champion
Joined: 10/12/2013

At this rate, I could have posted part 2 a week ago, but when you think you only have a little bit left in the chapter, you proceed to write 6,000 more words for a completely new chapter.  This however is all the same section I wanted to do, so for the first time in my series' history, I have a chapter that has 3 parts!

 

The breaks between my chapters are longer than I would like, but I this part of the arc took a lot of time to make right.  I wanted to post these two parts all at the same time because I didn't want to end it early and then not come back to it for a few weeks as I have been doing and possibly forget where I wanted to go with this arc.  So, I waited until this portion of the story was done.

 

Thank you all for your patience, and I hope you enjoy Part 2 and Part 3!

 

(I see that the Edit button is back.  Or rather, that they moved the edit button to the place where I would not expect it to be.  But anyway, I am glad it is back!)

 

Here is the music mix for Part 2:

A Soundtrack for the Anti Hero - Music for Pure Vengeance

 

The Shattered Axe

 

Chapter 23, Part 2

A Threatening Revolution

 

Jarl's Point of View

 

         After we left the ship we rescued, not much was discussed, only the lead the captain gave.  It was quiet the rest of the trip, which allowed my mind to race with thoughts of the cryptic statement my parents left me with.  I know ever since my crew founded Mystery’s Edge that I essentially moved out, so I have not been around my parents much since then.  Frankly, I still have not been around my parents much now that I live on Berserker Island.  During my time on Mystery’s Edge, my relationship with Annabeth grew into being betrothed and then promised to be married.  Granted, Annabeth and I did live on Berk for a period of time, but it was still away from my parents.  Things have just moved faster over the last few years.

         That is just it.  It has been years to get to this point.  Yet, my family unity with my parents and siblings has only been unified for the same period after spending nearly fifteen years separated from my father.  There are still things we do to make up for lost time.  However, the last thing I did not think of is lesson I would still need to learn.

         Do not hear what I am not saying.  One must always strive to grow and mature, learning lessons for every facet of life.  But a child does not often think about a time when their parents were just like them learning the same lessons.  Any parent should pass their knowledge on to their children so that previous mistakes are not repeated.  In the times that the mistakes still happen, the parent knows how to quickly assist in creating the opportunity to learn.  A child can then grow even faster than their parents did.

         In my case, my parents were sailors and traveled the archipelago much like I do now.  The limitations of sailing did not stop them and their crew for adventure, much like no mystery is too great for me to tackle with my crew.  There is a wealth of knowledge and insight that my parents can give to me that I never truly thought of until now.  Sure, I still learned from them in previous mysteries, but being reminded of the fact they are a treasure trove of wisdom in adventures and how to combat the dangers out there.

         Being able to meet Grizzy who was a key player in my parents’ adventures is a rare opportunity.  My parents had begun to move on when they started a family, focusing their adventures on Berk and the quest to strengthen their home.  It is not every day you can take a step back in time when your parents were different than the people you know them to be now.  All I know is the accounts and legends, the fact and fiction of all that they did, such as how my father, Sigvald got his title, “Sigvald the Mighty”.  There is the account of when he actually got the title, but it was what he had done to the point he truly got the title.  Both my father and mother had lessons they had to learn, some the hard way.  Yet with how cryptic my parents are, there is something to the lesson they want to teach me.  This is making me more on guard as to what might happen next.  To put it plainly, maybe that is the point, for I believe I know what or at least part of what they want to say.

         Within the next half hour, Svartrbal became more and more visible on the horizon.  The sheer size of this island is massive, and we are still not there yet.  The description of this isle certainly lives up to its sight.  Another half hour and we will be within the limits of their waters.  I figured this place would be big, but it exceeds expectations.  As we go, I begin to make out the multiple levels of buildings.  The only comparison I can think of is of The Masked Vikings of Einar’s lair surrounding the home and Titan chamber of the Crimson Gale Heart.  Svartrbal is only a bit more than half a circle, yet I would say close to three times as big than the island of one of the biggest dragons I have ever seen.

         The Crimson Storm mystery has been on my mind more due to the fact that the Masked Vikings have returned.  Yet, they do not acknowledge what my crew and I solved or fulfilled – depending on who you ask – about The Prophecy that the Khaos Vikings hold so dear to their beliefs.  There has to be something more that Khaos is not revealing, or else why are they so oblivious to fact that most of the archipelago knows already about the Dragon War?  I have gotten into a few fights because of people connected with the war resenting me for what I did and did not do on Izar.  The more I think about Khaos, the more I believe there is something beneath the surface they do not want me to find.

         Back to the description, Svartrbal’s docks stretch out three ships deep and ten piers wide.  These ships are no small trading ships either.  Large sailing ships, the likes I have never seen before in my life, both in their clan or tribe’s symbol and in the construction of the ship.  Aiyana recognizes some of the vessels being from Europe.

         Based on the description from the captain’s lead on where the Fiery Serpent, Eret knows its location.  We fly to the left side of the city and see a building about the size of The Great Hall, not as tall as it, but the Fiery Serpent is still two stories tall.  We land in front of it.

         Just looking at the sights, the most prominent landmark is a massive stature of a viking warrior.  No doubt the founder of this isle, or at least the one who made it possible.  The guy really liked furs and armor, which in a climate like this would be hot.  In my Dragon Armor suit, it is not as comfortable as usual.  With the sun beating down on me and without the breeze of flight, I am starting to sweat a little.  So, this warrior could be from the north, or at least from a climate much colder?  Maybe…

         Now Annabeth’s voice rings through my head, “Stop seeing a mystery in everything.  Stay focused on your current one, while putting away the other one for right now.”

         Around the statue are small networks of marketplaces for everything under the sun.  Even though it is late into the afternoon, shadows are already forming from the five levels of buildings.  Who knows how far this place reaches into the mountain.  The buildings do span across the top of the mountain for a bit, but I do not believe I am doing the scale of this place any justice.

         There is much to look at for it feels overwhelming.  My wife’s advice brings my focus back to the task at hand.  Good thing to because a small band of vikings strolls our way.  The way they size up both my crew and our dragons in the process, this is a group looking for trouble.

         A man in the group comments, “Dragon Riders?  Did not think your kind flew this far south.”

         Another cracks, “Thought you’d stay hold up in your archipelago while under the thumb of the… ‘Dragon Master’.”

         They all start laughing.

         I announce, “My crew and I are here on business.  Once it is completed, we will leave.”

         “It talks,” the first mocks.

         One of the women in the group lays down a snarky remark, “Who made you the leader of this crew?  Your kid Chief of the Hoonigan Tribe?”

         Laughter erupts again, I correct while remaining patient, “It’s Hooligan.  But there are other tribes in the Barbaric Archipelago.”

         “You guys farm right?” a different man question.  “Is there a Hoonicorn Tribe?”

         I have heard mocking laughter before, but this one takes the cake.

         Dawn’s expression, though blank, is boiling with anger, yet calmly volunteers, “I’ll stay with the dragons.  You guys go on.”

         “Alright,” I approve, then add.  “Eret, keep Dawn company.  We’ll find our way around.”

         Dawn shoots a surprised look at me with almost a smile.  Subtly, I wink.  I believe I see her blush, but she quickly hides her face, turning towards Fire Song’s saddle.  Dawn rarely shows any emotion, let alone expressions, but she had told Asvord, she likes Eret and wished to show off to get his attention.  Dawn never thought it would be in such an unusual time like this.  On the other hand, Dawn thrives in these situations.

While Svartrbal is a brand-new experience, the people are the same as Wengo and other places, with that I feel more at ease.  This is just one of the biggest environments I have ever been in.  The scope of this place brings to mind the size of some islands while my crew and I helped Garth, Garth of Izar.  I have not heard from him in a while.  I wonder how he is doing.

         Eret rounds up the dragons as Dawn keeps the troublemaker group occupied.  The rest of the crew follow my parents and I into the Fiery Serpent through a pair of doors.

         My expectation is it will be noisy, and you will have to practically yell to be heard.  Quite the opposite when we step foot in here.  It is nice, at least for a tavern that is.  One, the place is better built than most and two, the guests seem to be more well behaved than nearly every tavern I have been in before.  With my parents with me, we all split up to cover more ground and hear more conversations.

         The acoustics of this place helps tremendously with all the various sounds one can hear.  I can talk to my parents naturally.  This works both ways.  We can hear other parties too, so that helps us.  It is an odd phenomenon when one focuses on the various conversations.  I can manually take my focus off of one and focus on another, hearing multiple random things all at once.  This is all great, but they can hear us too.

         The thought occurs to me, “Making good acoustics for a tavern would entice vikings looking for information to come to your establishment and buy something to blend in with the crowd.  Their target probably also bought something to blend in to.  Either way, one could make a hefty profit on top of the regular vikings looking for a meal or some refreshments.  A solid business plan.”

         The crew and I obviously receive some glares and stares from the vikings we pass.  Our Dragon Armor is very unique.  If they pay attention to the news of recent events over the years, they will know where we are from, much how the group outside did.  But we are not the only ones who are dressed in armor or battle gear.  Many vikings in here have weapons on them or near them.  Starting a tavern fight in here could prove dangerous if someone takes it too far.

         As much as this place, in size, is comparable to The Great Hall, the style and decorations closely resemble the style of Stormheart’s banquet hall she built.  With the second-floor balcony with other rooms that the Fiery Serpent has, it would make sense there is some Stormheart influence since she lived outside the archipelago for some time.  Even though she calls Auction Island her rightful land by heritage, the foreign influence of other lands outside the Barbaric Archipelago are apparent if the Fiery Serpent has very similar styling.  There are various sizes of tables surrounded by chairs and booths along the walls.  No real pattern to the layout, yet the apparent thing is they crammed as many chairs, benches, and booths into this place as they could.  By the looks of the standing room at the bar as well as in some of the walkways, this place is very popular.

         My parents and I head to the bar to ask the keeper for any information.  For the moment, no one is there to serve us.  The party of vikings who were at the bar, gave up and went someplace else in the tavern.  I take this opportunity to inquire more about what my parents’ lesson is exactly.  Father leans his back on the bar, I have my arms resting on the tabletop with my helmet to my left, and mother is to my right, leans her elbow on the tabletop to face and address me.

         “While this is hardly the place to have a meaningful talk, parent to their child, this is the best setting to see it in action.  Sigvald and I have put it off for long enough,” my mother takes a breath before finally starting the lesson.  “The world is a lot bigger than your think it is.  There are many people in the world that have completely different cultures than our own.  Take Aiyana for example.  The way she looks, the accent in her voice, the land where she is very strange to all of us.  She has grown to be part of the crew, but her homeland is only a week’s travel from here by dragon, maybe sooner if you are able to fly straight there.  That being said, half that distance to lands in the east, the north, and the northeast, there are places full of vikings in tribes similar to our own.  We share a bond with these places.  You could trace our roots going back hundreds of years as some of our ancestors came from these lands, seeking a brighter future for the next generations.  However, there are many who raid, plunder, and seize land, supplies, and even vikings for their own glory.  Aiyana’s own history is stained with vikings like this.  You have already fought against vikings like this.  You are fighting the likes of Khaos right now.  I bring all of this up because your father and I have come across some intel that states, ‘A storm is coming.’”

         I glance and then stare at her, “Something tells me you are going to say this was not from Khaos, yet you believe it is someone working with them?”

         My mother’s reply starts with her expression of surprise, “How-?”  She had begun but corrects herself, “You are becoming more perceptive than ever.”

         I explain, “One of the reasons you would tell me this is because of my familiarity with the phrase.  The other reason would be found in your hesitation in not coming right out in saying who it is from.  It is quite a specific phrase, so if someone you know is not a Khaos agent but means it in a similar way, then this calls for caution and finding out who this other player is.  Where did you come across this intel?”

         Mother answers, “After the encounter with Sven, your father and I were worried something must have gone wrong for so many different vikings to be looking for Grizzy.  So, your father started searching out his old contacts for information.  I did the same.  Only a couple days ago did we get a lead.  Some of the traveling tradesmen Berk deals and who we once worked with, made it known that a rumor or legend is floating around.  The common phrase is ‘A storm is coming.’  They further said that they heard some vikings dressed in black talking about how they had tracked a target to Svartrbal and were going to strike a deal with him for the information he supposedly has.  These tradesmen asked around and found out it was Grizzy they were after.  That was a name they had not heard in a while since moving up into the Berkian area with Sigvald and I.  Knowing the connection, they told us when we sought them out.  Furthermore, knowing we were looking for Grizzy made the matter even more pressing that we find Grizzy before anyone else.  So, to answer a previous question conclusively, yes, we did plan to come here already.  We were hoping to find Grizzy someplace else but knew Grizzy would be on Svartrbal.  We just did not know where on the isle, so that we found out the same time as you did.”

         Father comments, “What I don’t get is why people still believe in the phrase.  News from The Dragon War and the freedom won by the Izarian Vikings has spread like wildfire across the archipelago.  Yet, I am still hearing vikings from various islands and tribes gossip about ‘The Prophecy’ not being fulfilled, that it is still unsolved.  Why do these Khaos Vikings still believe in it?”

         “Pride or arrogance in not giving up on what they have devoted their lives too,” I respond, remembering.  “Because based on recent encounters, the current Khaos agents either haven’t heard and don’t believe it has been fulfilled, or they have heard and have moved on.  Khaos is a universal term my crew is using, however, from Vixxen’s personal encounter from someone of her past, this woman named Jez is of the Realm of Khaos and their aim is to fulfill The Prophecy.  Their reaction when I told them The Prophecy had been fulfilled tells me they haven’t heard or don’t believe what they have heard.  The other faction is the Defenders of Khaos.  Their roots are from the Defenders of the Wing, from Mala’s own admission.  The Defenders of Khaos’ aim is to keep the world in a constant battle between peace and war.  Too much of one is not enough of the other.  If only one is present, they believe the world goes into ‘chaos’ and order is gone.  Both peace and war must be present to have order.”

“After the Defenders of Khaos split from the Defenders of the Wing, they were picked up by the Masked Vikings.  These zealots under Einar had very similar aims.  They saw what The Prophecy was and took that up as an aim as well.  But when it was fulfilled, they moved on to solely devote themselves to bringing their order to the chaos of the world.  Because of this difference, the two Khaos factions have been at odds for years even though they want the same end goal, their principals are very different.  While both factions did split off before Einar tried to lead them back to Izar, the Realm of Khaos are more like the Masked Vikings while the Defenders of Khaos are more of a rogue vigilante group spreading actual chaos under the guise of establishing order.  I know this can get confusing at times, but their whole aim is confusing, well more for The Realm.  I can deal with The Defenders of Khaos because their aim is clear.  With all of this said, they are all Khaos.  The Realm have full encasing masks and ponytails for the women, while The Defenders are more relaxed in their gear, though still sport the all-black look.”

         Father changes the subject, “This isn’t all your mother and I wanted to talk to you about.  We wanted to address the fact there is always going to be some type of evil in this world.  No matter how much you try to rid the world of it, it some back around.  Then there are those who don’t want to change.  They will use it against you and your attempt to change them by forcing you to make a choice.  How far are you willing to go to change them?”

         I know what events they are referring to, so I just listen for now.

         Mother adds, “We all want to save those who are lost, yet if they don’t receive the peace you bring, you are to clap you boots together and shake the dust off.  Move on.  Because if you don’t, they may drag you down with them by luring you into thinking you can change them.  There is going to come a time where you will have to make a choice.  If they have turned down the opportunity to change, will you let evil win or stop it in its tracks?”

         “Son,” father looks at me.  “You are the best at finding the good in people, but good intentions don’t make up for doing bad things.  You can’t make them be good, they have to choose.  If you try to make them good, the majority of the time it will not last.  But if they volunteer to change, put in the effort and work on their part, then the change can last.  The world is a vast place with many different people in it.  Trying to win those who don’t want to change is wasting your time.  Your time and effort would be better served elsewhere.  We wanted to remind and challenge you on these things.  There may come a time where you will have to make a tough choice.  As much as your mother and I never want you, Asvord, and Elsa to have to go through tough choices, you have to make them yourself.  We can prepare you and give you all the knowledge we have to be ready for those times, but you must discern in those moments the right course of action.  First, do the good to those who are good to you.  Everyone else comes after that.”

         Mother concludes, “One final thing.  You don’t have to save the world by yourself.  To bring so many to serve under your banner of leadership is remarkable.  It continues to make your father and I very proud.  Your family and your crew will follow you in whatever you choose to do because we know you want to do the right thing in all that you do.  But remember.  Heed the council of others, especially when it is the thing you wanted to do from the start.  If you are going down a path which will give you more work, even if the end result is what you want, there could be another path someone can point out to you, if they haven’t already.  Also, by being married to Annabeth, you are now a political figure.  You don’t just have your family and your crew behind you, but an entire island.  Remember who you represent in your actions, who can help you get the job done, and who you will protect if it is between them and evil winning.”

         A deep, relieving breath is my answer.

         Mother questions, putting her hand on my shoulders, “Are you alright?  I know that was a lot to take in.”

         “That’s just it,” I smile.  “I feel a weight has been lifted off my shoulders.  It is one thing to know what choice I must take, it is another to be reminded of the choice I must take and have the support backing me.  I would do anything for you guys, the crew, our home, our allies…  Yet, these past several months I had been wavering on what exactly the right thing to do is.  I kept hoping I was going the right.  Now, I can be surer.  I am not alone.”

         Mother breathes a sight of relief, “We were hoping you would see it this way.  We knew you would, but we still needed to talk to you.”

         Father asks me to elaborate on what I have realized, probably making sure I understand what my parents wanted to say.

         Having this lighter feeling, I relay, “I had been so focused for several months on what I think I should change, not wanting others to make any mistakes knowing that I could teach them a better way.  I stopped putting others before myself, trying to self-justify my actions, from the small to the most important, ‘Well, they will be better because it worked for me.’”  I take a deep sigh of relief, “I believe these last several months I was trying not to make a mistake, that I ended up causing myself more work.  But it struck me when Annabeth approached me, asking to come with me more to races.  Obviously, I miss her any time I am away from her.  This was different.  I was trying to do too much on my own and thinking I was the only one who could fix things.  I stopped relying on my crew.  Ali, Micha, and Valkarik went off to find a clue on their own while I was too busy trying to do something else.  The dragon auction we went to could have been extremely bad, but it didn’t because of the crew stepping up as well as the Dragon Riders coming.  Then I went to multiple islands trying to change them when most of them didn’t want to change.  Something felt wrong, but I was telling myself it was them, not me.”

         Mother reminds, “We still fight against those who don’t want The Good in the world.  And to those who are wanting good, we go to them if they want to listen.  If they still don’t want to listen, essentially, don’t waste your time.  There are others you could be talking to.  And the more you put it on the other person to change, the less stress you will feel yourself.  And what was said before:  If they change for themselves, the change will last.  Someone who chooses to follow you will stick closer than a brother.  The bond of loyalty will be strong, but it takes work on both sides to keep it strong.  Evil will always try to break this bond.  We give people the opportunity to change, but if their actions speak for them that they want no part of the good we offer, we must take the necessary action protect the good and defend the right.  Never waste your time with evil, lest you fall yourself and fail those around you.”

         Father interrupts, “Speaking of evil, here they come now.”

         Entering the main doors comes a group of vikings draped in black.

         I whisper, “Khaos.”

         None of them seem to recognize us, for they looked around the tavern before walking forward.  No one in the tavern reacted to them entering, so the Khaos agents must have been in here before.  That, or these vikings of Svartrbal just don’t care about anything or anyone besides themselves.  Granted, the agents have their full encasing masked helmets on with some of them wearing the long ponytails.  So, this group is the Realm of Khaos.  They look to be too busy with their own agenda to bother being aware of their surroundings.

We see them make their way through the tavern.  They came our way.  I felt my parents become tense as though they were spotted, but I put my hand on my mother’s and through expression said it was fine.

         The agents walk behind us, round the bar, and go through a back door.

         Mother breathes out, who must have been holding it in, “That was close.  But I just had the thought.  They couldn’t have seen our dragons.  Dawn must have moved the dragons, or else don’t you think these Khaos vikings would have reacted differently?”

         “Yes, but,” I counter.  “I believe…  I know these are Realm of Khaos vikings.  The Defenders are more subtle, who would come through the back door.  The Realm always seem to act like they are entitled to the ground – you – are standing on, let alone the part they are standing on.  Anyway, we need to go listen in on their meeting to make sure we haven’t been found out.  There must be a meeting room of sorts somewhere.”

         Father points with his eyes and his head up to the right, “How about right above us.”

         The Realm agents are upstairs.

         “Definitely not the Defenders of Khaos.  They wouldn’t dare have something so public.”  I then glance around.  “Stay out of sight, I’ll be right back.  I’m going to listen from the shadows.”

         Grabbing my helmet, I walk away from my parents, leaving them on that cryptic cliffhanger, without giving them the chance to stop me.  Following the same route The Realm agents took, I stop short of the door to casually peek into the next room in case there is a guard or something.  There was not, so I close the door behind me.  Now here, I put on my helmet, for I will need my arms for my next move.

         Above the second floor are rafters that are quite dark.  The main lighting for the tavern is in the main hall.  Otherwise, these back rooms are storage areas with a back hallway to the right more than likely leading to the kitchen.  It is quieter back here, so with that in mind, I begin my approach from the back hallway.

         The walls of the hallway are too far apart for me to spider climb up, however, they do extend to past the second floor.  My route will be hidden from the main hall.  The rafters are only on this back area because I see some cave stone above me.  While most of the building is away from the side of the mountain that makes of this isle, there is enough that they did not want to use the materials to build a back wall to this building.  This isle has the gold and silver to be wealthy, yet here they draw the line and not move the hall away from the mountain to have a complete structure.

         Since I do not want someone to piece together someone went above, I do not use something to leap off of.  The next best thing is to wall ride up to the cross beam over the hallway.  Walking back a few strides, I set up the aim for my path.  In a swift manner, I run the few strides, jump from the floor, take two steps on the wall before jumping up to the beam, and pull myself up with my arms.  I need to go up at least two more sets of rafters to get above the second floor.  The Rafters are closer together.  All it takes is me to grab the vertical beam and use my hands in tandem with my feet to “walk” up the beam to the next horizontal beam.  This back row of rafters is quite dark, which is perfect.  I make my way over to the place where The Realm agents went.  The closer I get to the meeting area on the second floor, the more I hear voices.  Still, the tavern noise is annoying, yet it reminds me again about the good acoustics.  All the noise is projecting towards the front of the tavern.  The voices on the second floor are stagnant, making me able to clearly hear what they are saying.  I stay at the corner of the meeting place in case I need to make an abrupt but hidden exit.  Plus, I do not want to go any further, step on an obnoxiously squeaky beam and give away my position.  The view before me are eight agents sitting around the table.  The table could sit many more, as it is bench seating with three chairs at the head and foot of the table.

         Eavesdropping into the middle of a conversation, one male agent, whose voice sounds young, is saying, “…reports there is no movement on The Defenders of Khaos.  Those meddling Berserkers fouled up our attack on Wengo Island.  Though they did as much damage to The Defenders as they did to us, this cannot stand.  This act of defiance must be dealt with in kind.”

         A female, middle-aged voice speaks, “Patience.  We would lose more forces trying to fight our eternal rivals.  They know exactly what we would do.  We know exactly what they would do.  It would be a stalemate as it has been for many years.”

         I comment to myself, “A Realm of Khaos agent with common sense?  Didn’t think that was possible.”

         The woman continues, “Their time will come, but for now, we have bigger problems.  Information is leaking about our bases, movements, and supply chains.  In the last week alone, four supply ships have not arrived.  No trace of attack, they just left one place but did not reach their destinations.  Someone has to be commandeering the ships and taking them for themselves.”

         Another young voice speaks, female, “Would it be that Jarl Mollerson and his crew?”

         “I don’t think so,” the middle-aged woman answers.  “His crew seem more interested in solving Gladstone’s death and clearing their crewmate’s name.  I admire that.”

         The young girl is appalled, “Why should we admire our enemy?”

         A thought just occurred to me:  Most of the Realm of Khaos agents my crew has met are young and inexperienced with few adults.  Although, with Vixxen saying Jez is Realm of Khaos, it could be that they are training younger vikings to join their ranks, which would match why Samantha joined them, even it was for her own agenda.  Pretty much every encounter with The Defenders of Khaos are all adults to the age of my parents or older, seasoned veterans, purposeful in their plans.  A simple explanation of a difference between the two cults could be a generational thing.  The younger generation is rebelling against the older.

         “You must have respect for your enemy.  If you don’t, you will lose, because they will exploit that to its fullest extent, especially Jarl.  We have seen it firsthand.  He and his crew fly under the pretense of spreading goodness, but all they are after is converting islands to the ‘protection’ of the Berserkers and their armada.  They then take the island’s wealth and prosperity for themselves without making any real change.  Jarl Mollerson had been on a tear trying to force change.  He finally showed his true colors.  His time will come, but we need to focus on Griz Kadal.”

         A couple more comments come about me, but back to this woman’s statements.  May I just say that hurt.  While it might be a poor explanation of the past several months, not to mention they still use Mollerson instead of Everson, it still has some truth to it.  Obviously not the intention of anyone in my crew to “convert” islands to be our ally, but the saying Viggo said that Vixxen keeps reminding me of:  What you consider evil, another considers righteous.  The outside perspective of my enemy’s view of me and my crew is what I am against.  They are saying I am no better than them.  But stopping to think about it, fundamentally, I was trying to force islands and people to change.  I got a rude awakening at The Iron Conclave about how some people do not want to change.  But clearly, The Realm agents are misunderstanding my end goals by being blinded by their own corrupt principals.

         A different male voice, which sounds much older, “Juska is right.  Griz Kadal is our priority.  With his capture, we must find out the information he knows.  His connection with Gladstone and why Gladstone felt impowered to betray us.”

         Okay, that is a juicy clue.

         The man continues, “You kids did alright on your first assignment, but you all still have a lot to learn.  We hear you and we are as frustrated as you are that this Jarl Mollerson blasphemes that The Prophecy is fulfilled.  Don’t believe the gossip that speaks to the same.  It is all an elaborate scheme to stop us from our calling.”

         Now, this guy has lost me.  But his statements confirm The Realm is recruiting young vikings.  His use of “kids” might be subjective sense he could be nearly five times their age.  Come to think of it, I believe I spot some gray hairs of his beard at the edges of his masked helmet.  Tsk, tsk, tsk…  For one who sounds and barks about the tradition of a prophecy, a bit sloppy in his attire.

         Random note, I crack my helmet open a tad, because I am getting hot.  Not sure if I could live this long in this warm a climate.  Feels nice, but man is it annoying.  Yes, I am wearing a thick Dragon Armor, but still.  I haven worn it before for hours and been fine.  Granted, it is cold, and the armor keeps me worm.  How the statue of the guy with the furs has any sort of founding position for this place is very odd.  Guess the guy liked furs so much, he did not care what setting it was in.

         Juska moves on, “Griz Kadal is a prisoner at our compound.  We will question him once we return.  It will be dark soon, so go and report for your patrols.”

         Multiple agents, their total being six, here stand up and say, “Yes, Thane Juska.”

         Thane?  If Juska is this woman’s first name, then Thane here is used as a title.  What king, or leader, is she in service to?  Another thing, this cult is acting almost like a Warlord group.  Soldiers under the command of someone, not just a group of worshipers bent on converting others to their chaos.

         Once the other agents leave, I hold my breath, I do not even move a muscle so as to not disturb the dust up here.  They walk directly below me, though they have no clue I am here.

         I am able to breathe a bit better now.

         Juska then gets up and sits across from the man, who was at the bench on the left.

         The man huffs, “So, what is the plan with Grizzy?”

         “We get the information we need.”

         “Simple as that?  He just answers and we go about our night?”

         “No, he will need some…  Encouragement…  But I’m sure he will crack and tell us why Gladstone betrayed us.

         “Then what?”

         Juska shrugs her shoulders, “We will do with anyone who betrays us.  We kill them.”

         My eyes open wide, my heart comes up into my throat, and a cold shiver runs down my spine.

         Things got serious in a hurry.

         Trying to process what I just heard nearly made me miss some remarks both of the agents told each other.

         The man asks, “The stories of Jarl and his crew have fouled many vikings’ plans in this Barbaric Archipelago.  How – are – we going to deal with him?”

         She responds, “As I said, he will be too busy trying to solve his mystery, so as long as we stay out of his way to do so.  However, we still need to tie up the loose end of Gladstone’s knowledge of us.  Every other loose end has been taken care of.  Our connection with Gladstone could still be found and Jarl is the one to find it.  Long story short, I have plans for him, so don’t worry.”

         Suddenly, the front doors burst open and in runs two Realm agents.  They do not break stride as they go directly for the door to come up stairs.  The abrupt entrance go the attention of Juska and the man.  They both get up to go meet the two agents halfway in the hallway.  Though they are out of earshot, a hunch strikes me.

         I swiftly crouch walk my way across the beams to get a better view of the main hall.  Spotting Vixxen to the left leaning on a beam on the front building’s wall, I load a normal dart into my mini bowcaster and fire a dart to the beam next to her.  Sure, she flinches, it probably scared her, but she does what I want her to do:  Look up where the dart came from.  As soon as she sees me, I do a slicing motion near my neck and then reach to my belt to grab three Smoke Bombs.  I throw, in quick succession, one near my parents, one near Dagur, and one near Aiyana.  Vixxen understands.  She grabs my dart and proceeds to collect each of our crew and retreat in a fast manner out the front door.

         The commotion of the people reacting to the Smoke Bombs draw out Khaos.  They spotted the doors closing after being swung open.  Whoever rushed into the tavern to immediately tell Juska and the guy something, I guessed it had something to do with intruders of some sort, which my crew is technically.  The way Juska leads the chase confirms that.  Left behind in the tavern is the confused chaos of screams and yells.

         I retrace my path to safely get down to the floor and stay hidden.  Returning to the main hall, I bolt to the side door instead in hopes of finding Dawn as soon as possible.

 

 

Here is the music mix for Part 3:

Music from The Dark Ages - Bloodline (Full Album)
 

Chapter 23, Part 3

A Threatening Revolution

 

Jarl's Point of View

 

         Upon exiting, the small alley way surprises me.

         “Oh yeah, the big city that also has small streets and corridors with the closeness of the buildings.”

         I need to find Dawn.  She must have spotted something coming and hid the dragons.  With this in mind, I head back into the corridor opposite the main street, which leads to the open area marketplace.  Those who retreated are well equipped to escape and buy each of us the time we need to do the same.  Rounding the corner, I head deeper into the city.

         It does not take long to hear some familiar laughter.  In the next alley, I hear to my left the laughter.  Going only twenty feet, I see a stable of horses as well as my crew’s dragons with Dawn and Eret in the center of the same group of vikings that were mocking us early.  This time, they are laughing with Dawn.

         Dawn is speaking, “Now, what do you call the opposite of a croissant?”  She pauses, “A fine uncle.”  Laughter erupts, “You know.  The opposite of a coarse aunt is a fine uncle?”  More laughter ensues.

         The moment she sees me, she hops off Fire Song and runs to me, taking my arm, “Save me.”

         “Save you?”

         “I’m running out of puns.  I’m not sure how long I can keep them occupied before having to shoot them with my dragon.”

         “Well, we need to get out of here anyway.  Our cover is blown.  We need to regroup somewhere else.”

         “What about everyone else?”

         “They should, I hope, be fine.  But we just need to get out of here.”

         I turn to go to Fredrick, but I run into one of the viking men from the group, “What’s the big hurry?  We were just starting to like you guys.”

         Fearful of them turning on us, I try to play it cool, “I found what I was looking for and it was much more than what I was expecting.  But we must leave now if we are to catch them in time.”

         The laughter ceases as the group closes in on me and Dawn.  Eret jumps in between the two of us and the vikings, “And we were beginning to like you too.  I thought we were establishing a bond of friendship.”

         The man started to reach for his sword…

         “Khaos is coming!” a voice from the alley rang out.

         The man who was about to draw his sword, looked at the callout and then back at me, then our dragons.

         The man questions, “How long?”

         “Five minutes, maybe less.”

         The man orders me, “Go hide in the stable.”

         Dawn exclaims, “Huh?”

         Eret barks, “But you-?”

         “Khaos is going to be here any minute.  I offer you a place to hide and you turn it down?”

         “Jarl,” Dawn shakes her head.  “You’re not seriously going to trust these guys.  They were going to draw their weapons on us.”

         The man counters, “What choice do you have?  Whatever it is, you have to make it now.”

         The next moment felt like an eternity trying to decide.

         “He’s right,” I answer.  “We’ve got no time to argue.”

         “Bera,” the man appoints.  “Take these three and hide them in the stables with the dragons.”

         “Right this way,” Bera leads.

         Dawn asks, “What is this all about?”

         Bera interferes, “We can get explanations later.  We only have minutes now.”

         Between, Dawn, Eret, and I, we wrangle all our dragons into the indoor stables.  The dragons are obviously agitated as to what is going on, but hearing my crew’s voices of encouragement, they comply.  As we get them settled, the rest of the formerly mocking group of vikings help shut up the doors and windows to not allow anyone to peer into.

         Not more than a few moments later after the doors were shut did, we hear the Khaos agents demand, “You there!  Did you see any intruders come this way?”

         “Yes, I did,” the man answered.

         My heart sank.

         The man continued, “I’m looking at one right now, you filthy masked vikings.”

         One Khaos agent shouts, “How dare you blaspheme our name!”

         “I’ll blast whoever I want to,” the man raises his voice.  “Your group is the one who came in uninvited to our isle.  Everything was going smooth until you guys showed up.  Your so called ‘protection’ is anything but, as it sounds like it is not working very well.”

         Before the agent could reprimand the man, another voice, muffled and further away calls out, “We found one of them.  Looks like they need backup.”

         The sound of boots running away tells me we are safe, for now.

         The man enters the stable to greet us.

         Dawn admits, “I thought for sure you were going to turn us over after your first statement.”

         “After dealing with Khaos these last few weeks, you give them what they want,” the man replies.  “Then you throw your best insult you got at them.  I think it is what you people call up north the ‘Honey ‘n Hatchet’ routine.  You might get punched or belted because of the ‘blaspheme’ you said, but they usually back down after that and go on their merry way.  I could never understand this isle bending the knee to a group who is mainly young vikings to middle-aged adults.  This isle has the fire power, the manpower, and the will power to overtake these fools.  But this isle is run by a bunch of corrupt bureaucrats and greedy politicians.  Khaos promised gold and the leadership could not bend the knee fast enough.  But enough about us, we need to get you guys out of here.  They are probably taking your friends to the fort they took over.  It is top side of the mountain, near the forest.  Do you know how to ride a horse?  We’ll keep hiding your dragons and keeping them safe.”

         I simply ask him, “Why are you helping us?”

         “It was a yes or no question.”

         “No,” I respond as did Dawn and Eret in the same way.

         “Well,” the man sighed.  “It is a very bumpy dragon.  Much like how you get your dragons to fly faster, you can get horses to run faster.  The reins you can figure out.”

         Dawn protests, “Why can’t we ride our dragons up there?  It would be much faster.  We could protect ourselves so much more than being sitting ducks on a horse.”

         The man counters, “While that might be true, Khaos would be looking for dragons.  The moment you use your dragon’s fire, they would come down on your like a swarm of flies on a dead corpse.  They would overwhelm you.  Taking the horse to get out of the city as quickly as you can is your best bet.  In fact, take these cloaks to hide your armor as best you can.  While the people of this isle are decent, there are plenty of vikings looking to make coin.  Some would turn in their own grandmother if they knew they could make a profit.”

         Before leaving our dragons and assuring them of trusting our strange new friends, I grab my quiver, throw it and my bow over the cloak, also attaching my sword to my belt.  Dawn simply uses her Iron Knuckles as her weapon and Eret always has on him his two short swords, though I would consider the one an oversized dagger.

         They find us all black horses to ride.  Come to think of it, all the horses here are of black or dark brown color.

         I tell the man, “If you start hearing some explosions, please send our dragons.  They will want to come anyway, and we will need a way of escape as soon as possible.”

         “Sure thing.”

         Once saddled, we mount the horses.  It feels strange getting on something so tall compared to a Thunderdrum which is so low to the ground.

         The man adds a couple instructions, “Be sure to keep your heels down and lean forward.  Keep you center of gravity over the horse.  It will be a much smoother ride.”

         “Why are you helping us?” I demand a response.

         The man finally answers, “Anyone who is running away from Khaos is someone I want to be running with.  If you are an enemy of Khaos, then you are a friend of mine.”

         “What is your name?” I realize.  “I never asked for it.”

         “Kormak Vikarison,” he says.  “You need to be more focused on rescuing your friends.  From here, just keep going straight and you will run into the hill to climb up to topside.  The fort on your right once the road levels out.  You will still have to go into the forest some.  There you can tie up the horses to a tree.  We will pick them up later.”

         “Thank you,” I wave in a saluting manner.

         Only after a few minutes of riding a horse, Korvak was not kidding.  A horse is a very bumpy ride.  With Fredrick, there is some resistance and challenge to riding a dragon, but nowhere near as bumpy as this, and leaning forward does help a ton.  But at least all three of us were struggling.  On the other hand, the fundamentals are the same as flying a dragon, so the more we rode the better we got.

         This back road is laid with smooth stones even as it then cuts through the mountain in an uphill motion.  It is about fifteen yards across, giving a lane for those going up or down.  Large torches line the tunnel to give light to the people as they go.  There are various kinds of vikings walking, pushing carts, or also riding on horseback.  However, the three of us are the only ones traveling at a fast but rough pace.  The onlookers give us a stare either because they had to jump out of the way to avoid us, or because we are not good horse riders, especially Eret, and wondering where we are going in such a hurry.

         In this kind of emergency, I will make anything work.  Riding a horse is something new and unexpected, but this animal does not breathe fire or at least shoot some projectile.  They are merely a form of transportation, which we need.

         The amount of time that elapsed from leaving the stables to getting top side was about fifteen minutes.  While horses have a lot of similarities, they are much slower than I had imagined.

         Once we exit the mountain, we instantly aim for the forest, to stay off the main roads.  The fort which has been mentioned is about a quarter mile away further to our right.  It is in the forest, partially, but its wall is stone based, so this will be tough to infiltrate.  However, the forest will allow Dawn, Eret, and I an opportunity to get close to the fort without being spotted.

         When we believe we are safely out of view of anyone, we slow our drag…  I mean horses and dismount.  This is the first we have been able to catch our breath.

         “Alright, Jarl,” Dawn approaches me.  “Out with it.  What happened in that tavern?  Why are running for our lives and leaving our crew behind?”

         Taking the reins of the horses, we tie the leather straps to some tree branches.  I see they wanted to eat some grass, so I loosened the straps a bit.  Another thing I am not used to.  I wonder if they like fish.

         Addressing Dawn’s question, my answer causes Dawn’s expression to open up a bit to worry before refocusing to determination.  She is always one to put aside emotion that outwardly shows she really does care for her friends.

         Eret suggests, “It will be dark within the hour, let us scout the fort.”

         We split up to cover the most ground.

         The fort is fairly basic, although very formidable.  It is a rectangle spanning fifty yards long and twenty-five yards wide.  The length of the fort is directed east and west, with the north facing the harbor and south pointing to the land further inland.  Four main watch towers at each corner.  On each long side of the fort, there are two gates with a smaller watch tower flanking the gates, with a path circling the wall, connecting all the towers.  Beyond infiltrating the fort there is very little to be known about the inside.  From the safety of the forest, I saw their guard rotations as well as those entering and leaving.  The conclusion I come to is that there are not many Realm agents here.

         Fifteen minutes had passed and Eret, Dawn, and I reconvened at our spot on the eastern side of the fort.  All of our observations are the same, except Eret found a way over.  While the guards make their rounds on the upper catwalk, there is a brief moment where they are all at the guard towers or not directly facing the middle of the eastern wall.  If we time it right, we can climb up the side of the wall and leap over the side.  Eret was unsure what was on the other side, but Dawn indicates there is still foliage growing inside the fort.

         “While the wall may be made of stone, there are spots of overgrowth creeping in from the forest,” Dawn declares.  “Regardless of what could have been said about this fort, this place serves zero purpose as a defensible position.  Any attack would be made at the base of this mountain on the south or by the harbor on the north.  The isle sticks out far enough that no attack could be made from either the west or the east, unless someone wants a death warrant by climbing this cliff with an army.  From here there is no clear line of sight of either, so this fort is made specifically to hold something in, particular prisoners which I saw the Khaos vikings lead a few in, always directing them to the eastern side.”

         I add, “That makes sense that The Realm would make this a base because they need a place to put all the people who would disagree with their taste in food, let alone their occupation of this island.  I’m not sure what they are holding over this isle, but that isn’t of concern right now.  Finding the crew is.”

         Eret concludes, “We will make our move as soon as darkness falls.”

         A half hour passes.  The stars begin to twinkle, and the moon spreads some light on the land, although not a full strength as it is waning.  This creates dark shadows on everything not lit up by the moon or torches.  Perfect cover.

         Right before we make our move, we hear a group of vikings coming up from the north.  Through the clear night sky, we hear the clanking of metal, shouts, and scuffles.  Dawn, Eret, and I all have the same idea.  The Realm bringing in their haul of prisoners.

         On the other hand, this drew attention from everything else and created a distraction.  The guards’ backs or attention is already diverted from the eastern wall, so Dawn, Eret, and I climb the stone wall, using the layers and rows as hand and foot holds.  Some forts would be built to prevent this, which further supports Dawn’s idea of this place is built to keep things in, not keep things out.  Once on the catwalk, we peer over the edge to see the overgrowth Dawn had spotted.  Grass, bushes, and small foliage.  Enough to hide us all if we crouch and lay low.  Still, the attention of everyone is on the incoming vikings, so we are able to descend over the inside ledge and climb down to the ground.

         To Dawn’s observations, there are two rows of multiple cages, some filled with regular vikings.  The look of the prisoners adds some clarity to part of Khaos’ role here.  These prisoners are nothing special and varied in social status as apparent in the apparel they are wearing.  Some of the vikings appear to have caused a ruckus in a tavern after having too much of a certain thing if you catch my drift.  For lack of a better term, The Realm of Khaos is acting as “peacekeepers” if you can call them that.  This is only a front to their true intentions for being here, I begin to think about what Kormak’s view on The Realm being here.

         A few minutes later, the group from the north did in fact lead a party of prisoners over to this eastern area.  Who in the group makes me both overjoyed and fearful at the same time.

         I glance at Dawn and Eret, making a snide comment, “At least we don’t have to go searching for all of them.”

         Ideas start to swarm my head as to what to do, they all start with my bow.  I take off my bow from my shoulders.

         The Realm of Khaos agents have rounded up my parents, Vixxen, Klarp, Dagur, and Aiyana.  The agents force my crew to their knees, lining them up.  Their appearance has seen better days too.  Whatever happened between now and when they escaped the tavern, they put up a fight.  And while the fort may not have had many occupying it, there are plenty now.  There must be more in the city in addition to what I see.  I count twenty-five in the party which came in.  There was already around twenty-five in the fort.  The sum of this adds up to a more complicated rescue.

         A couple familiar figures walk in front of my crew, the one being Juska and the other being the older man.

         The latter address my crew, “So, you are part of the Jarl Mollerson crew.  Where is your fabled leader?”

         Vixxen speaks up, “He’s probably gathering reinforcements as we speak.”

         If you count Eret and Dawn, then I probably have the equivalent of about ten reinforcements.  Technically speaking, Vixxen is telling the truth, but the man does not fall for it.

         “Please, my dear,” the elder chuckles.  “I’m sure he is plotting a rescue as we speak.  But, while we wait for him, let’s get down to business.  From the eyewitnesses account of one Griz Kadal’s brother, you paid him a visit.”

         I furrow my brow, thinking to myself, “That rat!  The viking I expected to betray me doesn’t, but the one I did not think had it in him, does.”

         Father’s expression is one of disgust.

         The elder tries to comfort, “Don’t feel too bad.  Although by the captain’s report, you already knew to come here and find Kadal’s brother, little did you know he was a Khaos agent, also trying to find, uh, Grizzy, as he is better known to you as.”

         Then I thought, “Then who was attacking his ship?”

         The elder continues, “As much as you thought you were coming into Svartrbal as any normal viking would, you were being watched.  We’ve seen the occasional dragon fly around.  Some random vikings have managed to train a Nadder or Gronckle, so dragon riders are known, they are just a rarity.  But because of this, you were tailed.”

         Dagur is appalled and blurts out, “This is boring!  It is so obvious that you are stalling.  I highly doubt you had us tailed.  You didn’t even know we were here until we found out by your little stupid agents that run around.  All your doing is playing on our fears to get the information that you want.  Well, that is not going to work on us.  We would rather hidethan help the likes of you.”

         The elder laughs, “That can be arranged.”

         All the guards who had led my crew in all draw their swords and point them at my crew!

         “Because you are so impatient to allow me the opportunity to converse in a cordial manner in gaining the information I seek,” the elder’s tone turns serious.  “I will cut to the chase.  You know that The Realm of Khaos is looking for one Griz Kadal, but what we don’t know is why Berkian Dragon Riders would fly this far south to find a man we are also looking for.”

         Father takes the lead, “Grizzy and I were old friends back in the day.  He was always one to have the latest information on various things that were difficult to come by, so we thought we would see if we could find him.”

         “While this is an answer, it is not what I am seeking,” the elder replies.  “Tell me what your connection is with Grizzy…  Or this woman dies!”

         The elder man draws his sword and places it next to my mother’s neck!

         Dawn clasps her hands over her mouth to muffle a gasp.

         Father is irate, stands up, but the swords of the guards lay a barrier between him and my mother.  This stops my father in his tracks.  My frightened mother does not dare move as the blade is that close.

         “Ah, of all the ones in the crew to come to this woman’s rescue it is you.  You must care deeply for this woman to risk your own life.  I might finally get some answers from you,” the elder sneers.  “Let me ask you.  What is your connection with Grizzy.”

         “His name has come up as a viking of interest in a murder case on the Isle of Berk.  Jarl Mollerson has been tasked with tracking any leads that would lead to the truth of this case being solved.”

         “Any suspects?”

         My father hesitates.

         The elder uses the tip of the sword to tilt my mother’s head up.

         Father exclaims, “Yes!  One.”

         “Where are they?”

         “They are in custody on Berk.”

         “Good man,” the elder approves.  “Finally, answers to my questions.  That wasn’t so hard.  However, now I ask a more difficult question…  Where is Sigrunn?”

         Father echoes, “Sigrunn?”

         “Don’t play coy with me,” the elder again raises my mother’s head with his sword.

         “Wha-,” Father clears his throat.  “What about Sigrunn?”  That is the shakiest I have ever heard my father speak.

         The elder rests the blade on my mother’s shoulder, “A viking by the name of Sigrunn has been a thorn in the side of Khaos.  We have reason to believe this Sigrunn has been in contact with Gladstone, the very viking who was murdered on Berk.  And that is something that we just cannot have because Gladstone was one of our own.  We also want to find the viking who murdered Gladstone.”

         Aiyana cracks, “You’ve got a funny way of showing it.”

         The elder ignores the remark, “I will only ask this question one more time…”

         “Where is Sigrunn?”

         “What makes you think I or any of us know where he is?”

         Father’s response is followed by a moment of silence.

         “I ask a simple question and what do I get?” the elder shakes his head.  “A questioned answered with a question.  I am a man of my word.”

         “No, wait!” Father calls out.  “Which Sigrunn do you want to know about?”

         “Which one?” the elder can hardly believe what he heard, addressing my father now face to face.  “Just a moment ago you say you don’t know where he is and now you say there is another.  You are wasting my time at this point.  For, you have already answered my question.”

         Father questions, “What do you mean?”

         “When you say, ‘Which Sigrunn?’ I was warned that you would say that.”

         “Warned?  By whom?”

         “He said you would try to place blame on someone else, even though you have in custody the one who murdered our Gladstone.  Your rhetoric has blasphemed the truth Khaos for the last time.”

         “What are you talking about?”

         The elder barks, “The Sigrunn you have in custody that has been the thorn in our side.  You say you are looking for the truth, but you are protecting an impostor among your crew!  They have conspired with your enemy, yet you still believe them.  Not only that, but they also murdered a second viking who was among our ranks.  Yet again, you ignore order we are trying to bring to this world by allowing this kind of behavior to flourish.  This cannot stand!  Your crew is harboring a future of The Realm of Khaos and are trying to pin the blame on someone else.  We will have our revenge.  We will make an example of you of what happens when you continue to blaspheme The Realm of Khaos!  And I start with this woman!”

         “NO!” Father yells.

         The elder backs up and stands in front of my mother.  Other agents hold my mother on her knees.

         Father begins to struggle against the swords, but other Khaos agents step in and restrain him, as well as the others in the crew.

         Beside me, Dawn desperately looks for guidance, “What do you want to do?”

         Everything begins to fade into indistinguishable noise.

         An instinct I have never felt before rushes over me, engulfing me.  No, this instinct is familiar yet strange.  The consuming feeling is new.  But then a weight returns.  My feet…  My legs…  They are blocks of lead.  But this instinct…  I know it very well.  I have answered its call before, however, this time is different.  Its purpose is different.  My aim is different.

         I stand, draw my bow, load an arrow, and fire!

         My mother screams as the elder raises his sword above his head.

         Everything around me feels frozen in time.

         I announce with a commanding voice…

         “There is nothing I wouldn’t do for my family.  So, don’t threaten mine!”

         My arrow lands in the elder’s back which causes his arm to falter.

         A body flops to the ground, but my aim is true.

         The surprise entrance freezes all the Khaos agents.

         I throw a Smoke Bomb next to my crew and tell Dawn and Eret, “Go help the crew!  I’ll cover you.”

         As my friends race ahead, I turn my back and look up to my right.  My aim is true again.  The guards from the watchtowers are quick to react, but I am faster.  My arrows land the mark on their shoulders.  Two guards on the upper right.  Four guards emerge from the upper left, but between one Zippleback Bomb and another arrow to spark it, the explosion takes care of them

         “Jarl!” a voice calls out.

         Turning back to where my crew is, a Khaos Agent aims their own arrow at me.  I roll out of the way, knock an arrow, and send them a greeting.

         Knowing there would be more coming from the watchtowers, I throw my last Smoke Bomb to cover my tracks as I check on my crew.

         My surprise attack gave my crew the opportunity to overwhelm their guards, take a weapon, and regroup with me.  Now all reunited, we begin our escape.  A few Khaos agents try to block our route, but we bully our way through letting our armor do the work for us.  Putting distance between this place and our position is priority.  Just as we are about to leave the fort, drop two Zipple Bombs.  The gas lingers for a moment yet rises in the gate.  The single moment the gas rose to the level of the torches…

         KABOOM!

         The explosion knocked the agents back and my crew forward.

         I lead my crew back towards the city.

         My father asks, “So, what’s the plan?”

         “Wait for our ticket out of here,” I call out, looking back, seeing some Khaos agents in hot pursuit of us.  “They should be arriving any second now.”

         Right on cue, dragon roars are heard.  While the dragons land, I lag slightly behind to cover my crew.

         I throw a couple Crackle Bombs back towards the agents.  This causes a few to dive for cover while some to be disoriented by the affects of a bright, sparkly loud explosion happening in your face.  I use my remaining seven regular arrows to pin the other agents behind cover before I run and mount Fredrick.

         There is no need to tell the crew where to go, as everyone flies straight up into the air.  This is the quickest way to make the threat of a bow and arrow useless.  With no threat of dragon artillery, we fly up over the city, dive bombing towards the docks to gain speed.  We use this speed to build up our dragons’ momentum to put as much distance as we can between us and Svartrbal.  We maintain this pace for several minutes before easing up a bit.

         Before the past few minutes could be explained, I first and foremost ask my mother, “Are you alright?”

         She catches her breath, “Yeah.  Yeah, I think so.”

         Father states, “Let’s get as far as we can from that place to be sure they have no dragon riders themselves to track us, before we take a rest.”

         The silence father’s advice brings is a moment to realize what I just did.  The consequences for my actions are only the tip of the iceberg of what I am thinking.

         To try and stay positive, I crack some sarcasm at myself, “I sure got the easy part of this bargain.  I hope Annabeth doesn’t stress too much over doing a basic prisoner transfer.”

 

(Author note:  This is the biggest and most important chapter for Jarl's development as a character that will set him and others up for what I have planned for this series going forward.  So, stay tuned!)

__________________

Rest in Peace NarixuZen.  2004-2017

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Book 10 - The Shattered Axe

New - Chapter 23, Parts 2 and 3

 

The Jarl Mollerson Mystery Series

All Chapter Links
 

 

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