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Chapter 26

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Chapter XXVI

Tricked

 

It took a while for Codsworth to finally make contact with one of the many rumoured resistance cells that he had been, it had been difficult, with their locations being nothing but rumour to the commander. He had had help however, most notably from the children that they had liberated from Broken Mountain Institute, many off whom had been formally part of resistance cells themselves and knew some of the codes and communication channels that they used. So far five had answered the call, mostly river-men, but whilst they had agreed to spread the word, Codsworth had his doubts. He thought that many, in particular the more radical and temperamental Bartazer resistance groups, who already had no love of him might or probably would see it as a potential trap, something to be avoided. The currently in this thought when he was interrupted by Doraghek.

“Commander.” Doraghek said, as the dwarf walked through the door and stood, as Codsworth got up from his chair, in the light his hair looking much greyer to the dwarf.

“Doraghek, what news of your brother?” Codsworth asked, although he regretted asking the question the moment, he asked it.

“My… Brother. The idiot and traitor of the north… Will do his part.” Doraghek said through gritted through his teeth, although he couldn’t blame the commander as he had kept the dislike, he had for his younger brother well under wraps.

 

The relationship between the two dwarf princes had been fraught to say the least, stemming from a minor rebellion that Jarnolim had instigated when they were younger. His brother had been insisting on more power for years, eventually the constant requests became demands, and eventually onto a full-blown uprising against their father. Which even though had been quickly crushed by both Fierhand and himself.

The rebellion had never really stood a chance if he was being honest, Jarnolim had only managed to raise a few thousand to his call, all from his seat of power. And had been outnumbered almost twenty-to-one on the field of battle. The war was thus over before it had already begun, and the lord of The Northern Gate was defeated soundly.

But the king had been far too generous in Doraghek had often thought, allowing his traitorous brother to retain his lordship and position on the condition that he never demanded anything of the throne of Normanguard again. Although Doraghek had demanded the head of his brother.

 

Since then, the relationship between the two brothers had been rocky, but he had done as requested, and called his brother to join the war effort. Not that he had enjoyed making the request. It may be for the best, as it may give him the chance to reconcile with his younger brother, before the end.

 

It took longer than expected for both Charlie and Martin to return to their quarters, as the mountain corridors were crowded with both dwarves and mountain-men preparing for war. They were about to enter when the pair were stopped by the sight of Olly, Russel and Jeanie, who had exited their own room, to find out what all the noise was about. With looks of fright on their faces.

‘No wonder.’ Charlie thought, as the odds were that these were similar scenes as to when their respective groups and homes had been attacked.

“What’s going on Sparky?” Olly asked, as the ginger kid walked up to his friend. As Charlie had thought, he was nervous as this had been exactly how the raid on his home had been in the hours before his abduction.

“War.” Martin said looking around, a lot calmer than any of his friends had expected him to be on the matter.

“Are you alright Sparky, you seem a little out of it?” Russel said, looking at Martin with a curious expression on his thin face.

“Yeah. I’m just tired is all.” Martin replied, Charlie had decided to leave him with his friends and returned to the quarters, although Martin doubted that she would take kindly to the next words that came out of his mouth. “Can I ask you guys something, in private?” Martin asked, and his friends nodded, showing him into the room that they shared, as the noise and bustle of the mountain continued around them as they headed inside.

 

“So, what you’re saying, is that you can see into that psycho’s mind?” Jeanie asked looking curiously at her friend and Martin nodded, neither understanding fully, nor wanting to explain that fact any further. He had explained exactly what had happened in his vision a few hours prior and how it was the reason why Fierhand had agreed to go to war. They were inside the room that Olly, Russel and Jeanie shared, it wasn’t as big as the one that Martin’s group had been given by Fierhand, all those months ago, but it was still roomy nonetheless, probably because it was only shared by the three of them.

“Cool.” Russel said despite himself and was rewarded for his outburst by a hit to his arm from Jeanie. He looked down at the floor in embarrassment, before deciding to double down on his statement. “What it is. Sparky’s like a spy now.” Russel finished looking at Jeanie in indignation over his bruised arm.

“Do you think I should continue. I mean, try and get back into Eugene’s mind so soon?” Martin asked, looking at his three friends. Olly shivered at the mention of Eugene but said nothing on the matter. Russel nodded his agreement on the matter. But Jeanie was still unsure.

“I dunno Martin.” Jeanie said, she refused to use the nickname that the others had given him for reasons that even she didn’t know. “I mean, if you think it will work, then go for it. But Eugene knows your game now, he’s going to be onto you.” Jeanie finished looking concerned.

That had been exactly what had been holding Martin back from re-entering the monster’s mind. Both Olly and Russel, whilst they had knowledge of Eugene, didn’t know the man before he became the monster, whilst both Martin and Jeanie, who had grown up in the imperial city did, and knew that he was far too cunning to let his guard down a second time. Although it did nothing to help Martin’s decision making on the matter, he had hoped for a definitive answer, not something that would confirm his own bias.

“Fuck it. Go for it I say.” Jeanie said, deciding to trust Martin’s unknown ability on this one, although whilst she still had her doubts on the matter, she didn’t show them to her friend. Martin smiled at this however and looked over at Olly wanting his last friends’ opinion on the matter, and when he too nodded his agreement, it was decided in his mind.

 

Down in the vaults of the mountain, were Vernon and Fomhord, searching for anything that may give them an advantage in the war that they were now officially in. The old butler had started with the later accounts, hoping for the easiest solution. It was not to be however, and so Vernon found himself going through older and older scrolls, until he came across something, it wasn’t much, but it was a start.

It seemed to be an account by an eastern mercenary, fighting against The Shadow during the first wars over two thousand years ago.

Two days have gone by since we were defeated at Prostead Bridge, and the enemy have taken the city, the emperor giving his life in its defence. We have fallen back to a new line in front of The Capital, but we cannot hold out for much longer. The gods have abandoned us, the rivers have started to burn…

It continued on like this for a few more lines before Vernon found the part that he was looking for.

We used the gems to hold the enemy back, we needed more than the one that we had but when more were combined in a specific order, the enemy was forced back towards the south. It’s lifeforce was bound to the gems and so they were the only thing that could end it, his chief servants charged us and…

But after that the writing became unintelligible and Vernon put down the piece of worn paper, not wanting to further damage the piece. He then moped his brow and stood up, looking at the other records that he still had to go through, it would be a hard, long process, but he had made a start and that was something. Although he didn’t know what to think on the matter, they had three of the gems in their keeping, but the others were in the hands of the enemy.

Vernon turned around to see if his companion had uncovered anything, but he had not, although that wasn't what concerned Vernon, as he thought that he saw the hint of steel in the dwarf’s hand for a second before he looked. There was nothing there now, but all the same.

“That should be enough for tonight. I’ll come back tomorrow to continue.” Vernon said, leaving his work where it was, after all, there would be no one else coming down here that could disturb it. The dwarf however said nothing, choosing to remain in stony silence. It didn’t surprise Vernon one bit, Fomhord’s influence in the mountain had diminished greatly since the group’s arrival, and it didn’t take a genius to see that the dwarf was not happy about this one bit.

Vernon took his leave at this silence but stopping just short of the door and addressing Fomhord and confront him about the knife that he had seen, despite the dwarf’s hope to hide the blade.

“I would choose where you place your knife carefully, Fomhord.” Vernon said, not even turning around, only smiling slightly at the dwarf’s palpable anger that was radiating off him. “For I shall choose carefully as well.” Vernon finished, and taking his book, he walked out of the vault hoping that he had successfully antagonised the dwarven advisor. Although as Vernon walked back up the stairs and out of the achieves, he knew that Fomhord would still be dangerous, and he now regretted leaving the documents back in the vault.

 

As Codsworth exited the communications room, having raised a further two resistance groups to join them, he found who he was looking for, Barca. The lieutenant having just come off his night shift and looking exhausted.

“Barca, good that I’ve found you before you turn in.” Codsworth said, as Barca turns around to face the commander with sleep in his eyes, looking more exhausted than he had ever seen him before.

“What is it Codsworth, and why can’t it wait until morning?” Barca asked, wondering what was so important that he wasn’t allowed to go to sleep.

“I’ve got a job for you, when you’ve rested up.” Codsworth said, he had been thinking about this all night, as they were now at war, they would need somebody to watch the main pass between north and south. “I need you to gather as many soldiers from the mountain as possible, and head south. Secure The Iron Tooth, before the enemy can fully mobilise against us.” Codsworth ordered the subordinate.

“Just The Iron Tooth, what about the other passes?” Barca asked, he knew of one other, and had heard rumours of others from the people of the mountain, secret ways through the snow mountains that none but the most foolhardy or desperate would take.

“Yes, those others are not large enough to march an army through, but The Iron Tooth is, I need you to garrison it, until we arrive with the main force.” Codsworth said, hoping that the lieutenant would understand, fortunately he did, and Barca nodded before heading back to the quarters for his last night in the mountain.

 

Despite what Charlie had told him earlier on in the day after speaking with the king, to remain out of his enemy’s head, Martin once again was trying to gain access to Eugene’s mind, spurred on by his previous success in breaking into his tormentor’s mind and his friend’s encouragement, he was now proceeding down his route with all haste, and with no regard for his own safety.

He found himself once again in a darkened room, initially unsure of his surroundings, Martin quickly put his doubts to one side and hurried down the room, he vaguely recognised it from before the destruction of the city, but he couldn’t quite figure out where it was, he thought Wolfrick Co, but this place was smaller than his father’s old company.

However, he was quickly distracted from the questions surrounding his location, when he came across something odd, the view ahead of him was blurred, somehow out of focus. He turned around, the view behind him was perfect, crystal clear. But ahead of him, it was like someone had put a murky pair of glasses over his view.

“What are you hiding from me Eugene?” Martin said to himself, for he was sure that his tormentor was responsible for the low-quality image he was receiving. And, assuming it had to be important, he pushed on, despite every fibre of his being telling him to be cautious.

It felt like he had been walking through the unfocussed part of his vision for days, but still there seemed to be no end of it, and now his view behind was out of focus as well. As Martin continued on, the voices of doubt were starting to outweigh the voices of curiosity. He was about to turn around when the airy voice of Eugene spoke to him.

“I thought you would return.” Eugene said, and Martin turned around to see the monster striding towards him, he was only thing that was in focus and he looked angrier than Martin had ever seen him.

“What are you hiding?” Martin asked in all defiance, which he felt starting to disappear as Eugene came closer. But the monster did not answer his question, instead posing one of his own.

“Why do you fight me Mr Wolfrick? Your continual resistance is starting to become troublesome you know.” Eugene said as he looked down at the boy.

It was hard to tell if that had been said in frustration or not, but before Martin could think on this. Eugene reached out and grabbed Martin’s arm, for a few seconds he was surprised that he was in physical contact in this dream world, but that quickly passed for Martin and was replaced by a soaring pain that came up from his trapped wrist.

Martin begins to scream, as Eugene tightened his grip on his wrist he tried to pull away, to leave this vision, but it was no good, he was now in serious trouble, and he knew it.

“You think I would let you see into mind again Inmate. You think it would be that easy.” Eugene said spitting with rage at the eight-year-old clasped in his hand. Martin continued to tug away, but Eugene kept him in an iron grip. “It was a pity that you did not see the light Mr Wolfrick. You will regret that decision for the rest of your short and miserable life, that I promise you.” Eugene continued, and Martin’s head exploded with pain as the memories of the prison came flooding back into his mind.

Martin gathered what little strength he had left, and with the pain in his head reaching a fever pitch and continuing to scream his lungs out. He gave one final tug, and his arm came free of Eugene’s grip, and he began to fall into nothingness.

 

Martin found himself still screaming in his bed back at the mountain fortress, as Vernon, Charlie, Dave and Nick came rushing into his room. Looking alarmed, both Dave and Charlie had their weapons drawn, and were both now looking around the room, for any sign of the enemy.

“Martin, can you hear me?” Vernon asked as he sat down on Martin’s bed and looked directly at the boy, filling his vision. It took a few moments, but eventually Martin was able to gain control of himself.

“What in the gods name.” Dave said looking around the room, before realising that they were alone.

“Martin. Did you attempt to go back into Eugene’s mind again?” Vernon asked, hoping that now that Martin had managed to gain control of himself, that they would get some answers. In response, Martin only nodded and whilst he had gained control of himself, he was still breathing heavily, and his blue eyes were wide with fright.

“What happened?” Charlie asked as she holstered her gun and Nick left the room. This is what she had feared when she had asked for a few days of rest for the youngest member of their group.

“H-He saw me.” Martin sputtered, wanting to warn them that his connection was not as private as he had once thought. “He was able to grab me.” Martin continued as he took his arm out and showed them his wrist, that was red from where Eugene had grabbed it in his vision.

“Is that even possible?” Dave asked, looking first at Charlie, then over at Martin, who looked as none plussed as he did. He didn’t see how it could be possible, as what Martin was having were visions and nothing in the physical world could be affected by them. He looked back up at Charlie, who merely shrugged in response to his question, although she had a look of uncertainty in her eyes before she spoke up.

“I think you need rest Martin, and this time I’m ordering you not to attempt to get into Eugene’s mind, understood.” Charlie said, looking sternly down at her charge. It was impossible to tell what Martin was thinking in response to this order, but he eventually nodded his agreement.

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