|Series||Crossfire by Pixichi|
|Previous||Crossfire, Chapter 27|
|Next||Crossfire, Chapter 29|
|← Crossfire, Chapter 27||Chapter Chronology||Crossfire, Chapter 29 →|
Connie, Clammy Claude and the two canines stepped off the ship and into the soft white sand to the foreboding island.
"Troublesome! You need to calm yourself girl, we're going to find him." Connie told the boisterous pup, who was chewing and pulling on the rope around her neck. Clearly, she did not like being confined. Connie began searching the island. It was verdant in large trees, many of which Connie had never seen before. Thick waxy palm fronds and moss covered rocks stretched across the expanse of beach as far as she could see. In the brush, Connie heard strange noises, chattering, and roars. She ran her fingers around the large diamond on the hilt of her new sword for comfort. Even she was growing nervous. Her will energy surged through her veins as if some part of her had known just where she was. Connie continued to lead the way, confident that her will was now surging inside all the members of the search party, keeping them safe. Troublesome tugged and lunged against the thick rope, eager to break free, and to get to her master faster than the rest. Connie talked gently to her, trying her best to comfort the pup, while looking out for the kidnapper, and for Reaver, as well as any lurking danger. Clammy Claude was anxious, but he did not speak and he continued to keep moving. Lance, at the end, was sniffing at every flower and strange plant the team passed, occasionally marking them as his own, which did nothing to make the trek any faster. Connie heard Clammy Claude mutter under his breath.
"So this is why I lefty Bloodstone eh? Ta be swarmed by mosquitos on an agonizingly slow walk through a dangerous island..." Connie couldn't help but smile at his words. Finally, the reached the mouth of a large cave, and Connie started in. She could feel the young pup tugging harder on the rope, and she knew that they had to be close.
"Don't let her get too far ahead, she'll get us all killed with a reckless pace like that!" The old pirate remarked angrily.
"She knows where she's going, she can probably smell Reaver by now. A wolf's nose is very powerful even a baby's."
"Do ye really think that the whelp knows where she's goin'?" Clammy Claude frowned.
"Yes, I think she has the scent strong. She has been pulling us along nonstop. Shes going to lead us to Reaver."
"Or straight to our deaths."
"Think what you will Claude, but what you don't know is that this wolf worships the ground Reaver walks on." Connie replied.
"So did all the women back in Bloodstone, but they would be completely useless in findin' him right now." Claude retorted.
"What are you saying?" The young heroine faced him.
"I'm sayin' that your going off of an instinct is all! She could be following a scent of rancid meat right now for all you know." He snapped.
"If you don't trust her nose, then why did you put her in the front? Why did you let her pull you all the way out here in the first place?!"
"Because I trust you Connie! Yer a hero, and yer the one with that strange aura power. If anyone can find Reaver right now its you. I'm just a bit worried that the pups rushing ahead. We're heading right into a cave."
"Claude, we're going to be alright. If anything were to go wrong, I'll protect us." The old pirate started to object, but then reluctantly decided that it would have done nothing to help the situation. The party continued deeper into the cave until they came upon a large stone door. There was a symbol on the door, it looked like a flame.
"What is it Connie?" Clammy Claude asked, looking at the door.
"Its a magical door, we need to use a flame spell to open it." She replied.
"Do you have one?"
"No. But I could channel my energy and learn one."
"How long will that take?"
"I'm already doing it." Connie took a step back and then let her hands push onto the cold stone door. A strange heat rose up from inside them, and then, a flame ignited onto the door. Clammy Claude yelped and jumped back. Even Connie was shocked by her sudden power. It had truly been her first time using a will technique other than reading auras. The flame on the door diminished and the massive door creaked open. Cautiously, the travellers proceeded on through. Suddenly, Troublesome jumped and wagged her tail. Connie used her new fireball spell to light a nearby torch and then, in the darkness, she saw Reaver. Connie undid the ropes and rushed to his side. She covered him in kisses and embraced him.
"Reaver! Reaver are you ok? Did they hurt you?" She cried out. Reaver smiled grimly.
"I'm ok Connie." Connie looked at him strangely. Something was wrong.
"Reaver? We just came all this way to rescue you, and look! I brought your Dragonstomper .48 too. Why aren't you happy?" She asked as she handed him his pistol. Reaver looked her dead in the eyes.
"Connie. You all need to leave right now!"
"What?! Not without you, we came here to save you."
"Listen, you need to save yourselves. There is something very wrong going on here!" Reaver protested.
"Reaver? What is-" Her question was interrupted by the sound of another door opening. A tall hooded figure entered the cell. Connie stood up and drew her diamond covered pistol.
"Ahh, welcome Connie Remswood. I have been expecting you." The hooded person spoke.
"Expecting me? For what?!" She asked the figure. The person removed their hood, allowing Connie to see the man behind it. He had tanned skin and an arcane tattoo decorated the left side of his face. His eyes were the red color of fire mixed with fresh blood.
"Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Xaiver, and I am the greatest will user of all time." He spoke in a low gravely voice.
"I thought that Garth was the greatest will user of our age."
"Don't make me laugh! The fools cullis gate malfunctioned when he tried to send you to my domain did it not? His magic is frightfully weaker than my own." The dark figure replied.
"Are you the one who kidnapped Reaver?" Connie asked, pulling her pistol free from her garter belt.
"I am." Xaiver smirked. Connie brought up the pistol and cocked the hammer.
"Your gonna pay for it!" She yelled as her finger graced the trigger.
"Is that so, little girl?" Quick as lightning, Xaiver used a disable spell and Connie shrieked as her pistol fell apart in her hands. Xaiver grinned and gave her a disappointed look.
"Tsk tsk Connie. Did you really think that you could kill me with a simple manmade weapon? Your as pathetic as your lover." Xaiver hissed. Connie glared at Xaiver and then looked down to Reaver.
"What's going on here? Reaver, are you going to tell us or what?" Reaver averted his eyes. Xaiver laughed wickedly.
"Go on Reaver! Tell your "true love" what I told you." Xaiver taunted.
"...He owns the Shadow Court Connie. He was the one who commanded them to destroy Oakvale...and now he wants you Connie, that's why I told you to get out while you still could have, he means to kill you!" Reaver explained. Connie stood shocked by his words. She glared at the smiling warlock.
"You destroyed Oakvale?! But I thought it was Reaver's fault, I don't understand at all."
"He was a pawn in my revenge, lets just leave it at that." Connie felt a new hatred welling up inside her for the wicked mage. The man that she loved had lived his life in agony alone, a tortured soul full of guilt and remorse, driven to forget his past through a life of evil and pleasure. Victor hadn't been buried that day, so very long ago: he had been imprisoned.
"Monster!" Connie roared as she charged towards Xaiver. He whumped her with a force push. Connie shakily got up and returned his attack with a force push of her own. Although her newly awakened spells were weaker by comparison, her speed and strength were much higher that Xaiver's. This was Connie's upper hand. She possessed all three heroic disciplines, not just will. The mighty heroine charged again at the wicked warlock. Xaiver stumbled over at the blast of fire she ignited. When he got to his feet, red flares were burning in his eyes. Connie's blue eyes blazed with arcane energy as blue as ice. Reaver looked on in amazement. He had never seen Connie fight like that. As she stood over the warlock, poised and dangerous, Reaver felt a new respect and awe for the woman he loved. She's doing it for me. He thought, as Connie pulled her blade, ready to impale the downed mage.
"Blast you Connie Remswood! Your not supposed to beat me!" Xaiver cursed. Connie raised her sword high above her head, ready to end the wretched Xaiver's life. As her blade found its mark,
it splattered black blood in all directions. Xaiver screeched in pain before falling silent with one final hiss. Connie looked down at his lifeless body, cleaned her sword, turned away.
"Connie! Look out behind you!" Reaver yelled, startling her. But his words came too late. Connie felt her body freeze, and she fell to her knees. Xaiver stood over her, and all Connie could do was helplessly stare up at him in genuine fear. Xaiver pulsed his drain life spell into her body. Connie cried out as she felt her life being slowly drained away.
"Did you really think that you were winning? You are such a weak girl Connie. How you managed to defeat the Tattered Spire remains a complete mystery to me." Xaiver commented. Her world was growing fuzzy and cold. But then, out of the corner of her eye, Connie saw Reaver lunge at Xaiver, his trusty pistol fired a shot into the will user. The spell stopped and Connie gasped for air in her weakened state. Xaiver grabbed his injured arm and turned to Reaver.
"Now, its a fair fight Hero of Skill. I see you have your puny weapon back." The two heros circled each other. Reaver and Xaiver locked eyes.
"All this time...every night and every day for 300 years, I have died a little more because of you. You stole my life Xaiver, and you are trying to steal it again by killing Connie. Your life rightfully belongs to me, your blood shall be spilt by my pistol, this ends today!" Reaver spoke.
"You act so innocent Victor. But the truth is, you let me kill them. You could have stopped me from taking the book back to Oakvale with us. But you wanted your immortality more than the safety of your people." Xaiver smirked.
"That is NOT true! I would have done anything to protect Cammilia and Opal and the village. You lived there, you knew what was going through my head that day."
"Indeed I did. You wanted to make a name for yourself. You wanted to become the most powerful man in Albion, even back then. The only difference between the old you and the new you, was that you actually wanted to have your family to share that power with. Now you just want everything for yourself." Xavier continued to circle Reaver.
"I was wrong. Since I have met Connie I now know that there is more than that Xaiver."
"Your family is better off dead. You would have only brought them sorrow and pain eventually. It's better that I had her slaughtered, before you broke your poor Cammilia's heart!" Xaiver whumped a fireball at Reaver. Reaver fell back in a blaze of smoke, but quickly got up and shot at Xaiver again. Xaiver deflected the bullets away. The mage sent a blades spell at the rogue, and Reaver winced as the magical blade plunged deep within his thigh. He struggled to stay standing, but slumped down. Xaiver walked over and began to jeer.
"Hero of Skill. Not skilled enough to save his true love. Hero of Skill, how foolish you are." Reaver's eyes widened at the old taunt that he had received after the shadows had slayed his village, and his family. Connie ran forth, firing a shock spell at the warlock. The lightning electrocuted him and Connie could see his body lurch as he screamed in pain.
"That's it. This ends now!" The will user roared. He turned his attack back to Connie, and began to build a huge wave of dark energy, kneading and molding it into a large black lump. Xaiver's power grew and grew and the world itself seemed to stand still. Then without warning, Xaiver stopped. He fell forward, and the light faded quickly from his devilish red eyes. Connie looked past the dead spell-weaver, and felt her heart leap. There, with a still smoking Dragonstomper .48 in his hand, stood Reaver. He wore a look of vengeance and was quite and solemn. It was the first time that Connie had seen him kill without a look of blood lust in his eyes. He had done so without feeling, without emotion, without a word. Reaver looked up to her and remarked.
"Its over." He waltzed over to her side, and smiled. Connie threw her arms around him.
"I am so happy that your alright, you had me worried sick." She spoke, as tears of happiness and releif streamed across her fair face. Reaver continued to hold her close to his rapidly beating heart.
"Thank you for rescuing me Connie."
"How could I not have come? Your the love of my life. And besides, I think I learned something from all of this."
"And whats that?" Reaver asked. Connie lumped a fireball back against the cell door and it fell free.
"I learned that I love casting spells!" She cheered and then rushed out the cell door.
"It's nice to see you too Claude." Reaver grinned warmly at his old friend.
"Oh, I jist was followin' her. Boy that lass has got spunk! Ye sure like the feisty wenches huh Reaves?" Reaver chuckled.
"I knew that girl was feisty the moment she punched me upside the head and then cursed me when I invited her into my bed."
After returning from Arcane Island, it felt great to be back at Castle Fairfax. Clammy Claude had since headed for Bowerstone Old Town, and Connie and Reaver where finally alone. It was not long after that the two had started making arrangements for their wedding. It was a hot and overly humid day in late July, and Jasper had just finished sending out the invites to everyone that the happy couple knew and liked. The wedding was scheduled for the end of the month and would take place in the heart of Castle Fairfax. Connie had already picked out a gorgeous wedding gown, and Reaver had decided on a handsome black tuxedo. Everything was starting to fall into place, and soon, the two heros would be married, and after which, Connie would be the Queen of Albion, a title that she was still getting used to. Today was the reception dinner, and everyone who was invited was coming to the castle for dinner. Surprisingly, since the recent mutiny back in Bloodstone. Reaver had invited only one person, his best friend, Clammy Claude.
"Are all the guest coming tonight?" Connie asked him. Reaver adjusted his hat and then winks at himself in the mirror.
"Yes my lady, they are all turning up for tonight's festivities. Although I still don't understand why you invited Hammer and Garth." Reaver winced at the thought.
"Because they where part of our team once. We shared that victory together. And besides that, I've known Hammer since I was 16." Connie replied.
"Really? That long? That surprises me."
"Why is that?"
"Because the woman, if you can indeed call her a woman, has absolutely nothing in common with you, and she lacks the social skills and pizzaz of which a lasting friendship requires." Reaver answered.
"Oh and Clammy Claude is that much better?"
"My dear girl, Claude is funny, he's loyal, and he's someone that I can confide in. Hammer is a two ton walrus without a brain and seriously lacking in even walrus beauty." Reaver smirked. Connie rolled her eyes.
"She's a good friend ok? I know that you two don't get along, but that's only because she thought you were a heartless villan. Now that you are showing your true colors, she'll like you Reaver." Reaver grimaced.
"Somehow, the idea of Hammer liking me in any way shape or form has a tendency to make my stomach turn. And what about Garth? Do you have some lost connections to him as well?" Reaver asked sarcastically.
"We were in the Spire together for 10 years. I won the crucible and that was our plan to get me into the Tattered Spire so that I could rescue him." Connie explained.
"Leave it to Theresa to give you all the hard jobs eh? So, that still doesn't explain why you wanted to invite him to our wedding. What, did you two bunk up together after you had "rescued" him hmmm?" Reaver jeered.
"NO! Geez Reaver, why is it that if I have a male friend, you automatically think that I slept with them?!" Connie yelled annoyed.
"Connie, Connie, Connie. I know that you didn't have any aforementioned sexkipades before yours truly, I mearly enjoy making you blow up at me. Your ever so cute when your upset." He patted her on the head and then kissed her cheek. A loud knock interrupted the couple.
"Oh, their here!" Connie ran to greet the guests. Jasper opened the door to reveal the first of many. Hammer was standing in the entrance, wearing a green gown that looked like a circus tent. Dresses were obviously not her thing.
"Hammer! Its been a long time! Great to see you." Connie greeted her old friend. Hammer gave her a bemused look.
"I just love the seashore my arse Connie! I knew that there was something else there, but bloody hell if I knew it was HIM!" She spoke. Connie looked back to where Reaver was standing. He gave Hammer a mocking bow.
"Oh my dear Connie! You didn't tell me that we where having a sophisticated guest at this reception. My, my, my..." Hammer advanced on him.
"Reaver, I don't know what your intent is with my friend, but so help me, if you hurt her in any way shape or form..." She patted her enormous hammer. Reaver simply smiled.
"Don't worry Hammer, I have no intention of harming Connie in any way. Please, come this way to the reception hall." Reaver replied. Hammer begrudgingly followed after him, and Reaver looked back and shot Connie a miserable glare. Soon, another knock was at the door, and Jasper opened up to reveal Clammy Claude.
"Welcome Claude! Do come in." Clammy Claude looked around in awe.
"Well ye certainly live large don't ye lass?"
"All part of the job." Connie spoke. Claude walked away towards the reception hall. Within the hour, everyone had turned up minus Garth. Connie still stood by the door to wait for him, but finally decided to go and join the reception. She motioned to her new butler as she passed him in the hallway.
"Yes Madam?" He bowed.
"Jasper. We are still one guest short. If he comes, please let him in and escort him to the reception hall. I need to get going there myself." Connie explained.
"As you wish Madam." Connie walked into the dining room, where the reception was already taking place. She took her seat next to Reaver and began to join in on the conversation.
"Ah, Connie! Just in time. Myself and Sandy where just talking about how far you have come as a hero dear." Reaver explained.
"Its amazing. She started off like the rest of us, a little gypsy girl who had lost everything, but she trained hard and turned into this!" Sandy pointed at Connie.
"Thank you Sandy." Connie replied, a tad embarrassed. Reaver raised his goblet.
"Everyone? I would like to propose a toast. When my dear friend Clammy Claude here, told me that he wished to quit the pirate profession to find true love, I laughed right in his face and told him that he was throwing away glory for nothing. But since this beautiful woman first waltzed into my Bloodstone mansion one year ago, a vision of red and gold, I knew that he had a very good message for me. There has been no treasure more beautiful, no land more bountiful, no sea more endless, than the love that I share with this woman. Ladies and gentleman, to Madam Connie Remswood!" Reaver lifted his glass, and everyone at the table followed suit.
"To Connie Remswood!" They all cried. Connie blushed, and felt tears welling up in her eyes. She stood up.
"Thank you all, not just for coming, but for everything else. Everyone at this table, has had a huge impact on my life. I may be the hero, but you are all an important part of the fable." She said as she toasted all her friends and family. The party went on long into the night and still Garth had not shown up. Connie twiddled her fork against the table and occasionally looked out into hallway to see if anyone was coming.
"Are you expecting someone?" Reaver asked.
"Garth still hasn't arrived. Do you think that maybe he forgot?" "No my dear, I belive that he's dead." Reaver grinned. Connie stared at him in shock.
"What?! Garth's dead?! How do you know this?" She asked.
"Because I was the one who killed him." Reaver smiled.
"Oh, no, not recently. It was last year, when I went to Samarkand with him, remember?" Connie nodded slowly.
"But why?" Reaver laughed.
"What reason did I have for killing people back when I was a vicious pirate you ask my dear? You of all people should know that I used to kill for mere fun. I killed Garth because I was so terribly bored with him. Here I was in Samarkand, which last time had been abundant with everything that pirate captains love, and now here I was, some 200 years later, and there was nothing to my interest there at all." Reaver explained.
"Garth told you that it was nothing like what you described. A lot can change in 200 years you know." Connie explained.
"Yes yes, I know, but that still did not make it acceptable for me. If I had known that the old mages words were true, I would have followed your pretty little tail all around Albion until you gave into my charms." He grinned playfully. Jasper came into the reception hall and bowed before Connie.
"Forgive me madam, but the hour is late and master Garth still has yet to arrive. Shall I stand watch for him still or shall we begin the ball?"
"I have just been informed that Garth will not be joining us, so we shall begin the ball Jasper." She instructed.
"As you wish madam." The bards and instrumentalists begin to play as Reaver and Connie are the first on the dance floor. Soon after, the women's elegant ball gowns began to flow and drift across the floor like hibiscus flowers on a summer breeze. The men in their suits and top hats twirled and spun each of the little "flowers" beautifully. It was truly a beautiful sight to behold. Reaver took Connie by the hand and looked solemnly into her blue eyes.
"Connie, are you ready to become my wife?" The young woman took his hand in hers and and kissed him.
"Yes." Connie hesitated, not knowing quite how to say the right words. Instead, she just looked into the deep green eyes of her charming scoundrel.
"What is it my dear?" Reaver asked. Connie smiled sweetly.
"Reaver. I'm pregnant."