|The Happenings II|
|Series||The Happenings by Azaelia Silmarwen|
|Previous||Parties, Speeches and the Truth|
|Next||War and Truths|
|← Parties, Speeches and the Truth||Chapter Chronology||War and Truths →|
CHAPTER NINE: RETURN TO AURORA AND THE DARKNESSEdit
Cassie met up with Ben at the back end of the sewers, just as planned.
'We need to get to the far end of the dock,' whispered Ben, leading the way out of the sewers. 'So probably best not to shoot until we have to.'
'Are you giving me that advice or yourself that advice?' questioned Cassie, knowing how rash Ben could be.
'Both,' grinned Ben. 'Oh, leave the talking to me. I have an idea.'
'Uh huh,' said an unconvinced Cassie.
'What? I do!' said Ben. 'Why is it that nobody ever believes me?'
Cassie did not answer for they were approaching one of Logan's soldiers who was guarding the gate.
'Stop!' ordered the soldier, catching sight of a captain and a highwaywoman. 'Only Royal Guards allowed.'
'I know,' said Ben, sounding impressed. 'But can I just say, wow, you look so stylish, you know, with the helmets and everything. Me and my friend were wondering if we could join you because, I mean, you just make us ordinary soldiers feel so inadequate.'
'Come on,' begged Ben. 'Don't you have any leaflets or application forms we could take with us? If we could just get inside and get your autographs. We're big fans.'
Speak for yourself, though Cassie.
'Leave or we will be forced to terminate you!' snapped the guard, getting annoyed now.
'Aw, see?' said Ben, turning to Cassie. 'Even their vocabulary is stylish.' he said, before whipping around and shooting the guard.
Cassie gave him a look.
'Okay, I admit it. I didn't really have a plan.' said Ben as the rest of guards began to sound the warning bells of an attack.
Together Cassie and Ben had to fight their way pass soldier's to the docks. As they were heading to the docks though, one of the large cranes near the water came crashing down, destroying the vast majority of Logan's fleet and damaging the rest.
'Wow, that should keep the bastards occupied,' commented Ben. 'Come on, the way to the ship should be clear.'
'You were saying,' asked Cassie as they rounded the corner coming upon a group of soldiers.
Ben did not say anything, but his facial expression spoke louder than words as they began to take care of the men that stood in their way. Once they had finished, Walter appeared.
'Walter! What kept you?' asked Ben, acting as though they had been there for ages.
'We have to hurry!' said Walter, ignoring his comment. 'They're going to be following us after all!'
'What about Page?' asked Ben.
'She's staying behind. Someone needs to organise things here.' said Walter. 'Now, come on!' he said, walking over to a row boat with Cassie and a disappointed Ben following behind him. 'Well, it's not much, but at least it floats,' he added, looking down at the boat. 'That's what counts.'
Ben and Cassie exchanged a look and looked over to a nearby ship.
'Or, you know, we could take this one and then not drown as soon as we leave port,' suggested Ben, walking over to it.
'I'm taking Ben's side with this one, Walter,' said a serious Cassie.
'Wow, someone actually agreed with me,' said a surprised Ben, hopping into the ship followed by Cassie and then Walter.
Before they knew it, they had set sail. The last time Cassie had been on a ship, she had been four years old. She never knew that the salted air could feel so good and refreshing. For the first time, since she left the castle, she had felt relaxed, as though nothing could go wrong, until...
'One of Logan's ships is following us!' yelled Ben. 'And they're gaining!'
Next minute Cassie was knocked to her feet as the ship started firing at them.
'That's not good,' muttered Walter.
Again and again, the enemy ship fired at them and before they knew it their ship had sunk...
Cassie was wet, but hot. Slowly, Cassie sat up out of the wet sand she had been laying on and lightly patted a worried Lightning's head. All around her was the wreckage of their ship, but no sign of Ben or Walter until...
'Cassie! Ben!' Came the yelling of Walter's voice, next minute he rounded the corner, caught sight of her, and hurried over.
'Thank goodness!' he sighed. 'Are you all right?'
'Yes. Where's Ben?' asked Cassie, getting to her feet.
'It looks like we didn't all make it,' replied Walter sadly. 'I only hope...well, maybe he washed up somewhere else. I'm sure that's it,' he said, trying to be positive. 'Anyway, the only way forward seems to be through a rather ominous cave.'
Cassie only nodded and followed Walter mutely, with Lightning running ahead of them.
'Before we go any further, I'd just like to say one thing,' said Walter.
'And what's that?' Cassie asked glumly.
'BALLS!' he yelled, making it echo around the cave.
Cassie could not help but smile as she climbed over a small mountain of rocks. The way they were positioned made her think that the cave tunnel had once caved in. Hopefully Walter wouldn't notice.
Next minute Lightning started barking happily up a head.
'Hello, sounds like Lightning's found something.' Walter said excitedly, quickening his pace. 'You never know, it might be a luxury inn...oh bats,' muttered Walter, excitement disappearing when they discovered that Lightning had found bats. 'Good work, boy. Bats are exactly what we needed right now.'
Cassie giggled, before coming sombre as Walter brought up Ben.
'What do you think happened to Ben?' he asked. 'He's a strong swimmer. Probably reached a sandy beach somewhere. Palm trees. Beautiful women. Coconut cocktails. Jammy bast - what the hopping Hobbes is that?'
They had arrived in a large room with some sort of purple barrier that was protecting a hole in the ground with a flight of stairs leading downwards.
'It must be protecting something! Like the way out, most likely.' said Walter, before they both hurried towards it. When they got closer, they saw skeletons all around the barrier. This made Cassie nervous.
'Wherever we are, we're not the only ones who got stuck in this damn place,' muttered Walter. 'Not the most encouraging sign in the world, is it? Still they might have something useful on them.' he added, bending down to one group of skeletons. 'Why don't you check the second lot over there?' He pointed to a second group.
Cassie did as he suggested and went and had a look. As she examined the pile, she felt the blood drain from her face.
'Walter,' she said quietly, knowing that he would still be able to hear her. 'Some of these men, their Albion soldiers,' she said, showing him a scrap of material that held the Albion crest.
'That must mean this is the place that your mother and the three Heroes, Garth, Hammer and Reaver, came to with a dozen or so soldiers to find Logan when he was five years old.' gasped Walter. 'Every soldier and every one of Reaver's men were slaughtered. As such, each family received compensation for they lost and a personal visit from the old queen and king.'
'Then there is hope for us,' Cassie said, trying to sound confident. 'If the four Heroes were able to escape, they we should be able to, too! And it must have something to do with that barrier!'
'And I think I've found something that might help.' exclaimed Walter. 'One of these poor sods left a journal. Most of the pages have disintegrated but...well, you can still see plenty of weird symbols, that match the ones around the edge of the barrier...and it doesn't say how to open it,' sighed Walter. 'Instead they have gobbledygook.'
'Gobbledygook?' repeated Cassie.
'Yes, I mean, listen to this nonsense: "Luminous spirits of the sands, inhale the restless gloaming".' laughed Walter. 'What's that suppose to -?' He cut off as the barrier disappeared. 'Look at that! Can you believe I did that?'
He started laughing again, while Cassie joined him at the stairs.
'Uhh...it does look somewhat dark though,' he muttered hesitantly as they walked down the stairs. 'Maybe going down isn't such a good idea.'
Lightning barked at him and nudged him with his head, as though to say, 'Get moving.'
'Oh yeah?' Walter said to Lightning. 'Well, why don't you lead the way if you're so tough? Oh, very funny,' he added as Lightning did as he said, before following grudgingly.
None of them noticed the barrier returning.
When Walter had said that it looked "somewhat dark", little did he know that it was an understatement. Little did he know that they were walking into complete and utter darkness. Thankfully, Lightning was with them, which meant that he was able to find a torch for them.
Together they walked quietly through the darkness, making as little noise as possible, except when Cassie pulled a level to create a bridge. One would have thought that something had exploded. Once they had crossed the bridge, they came to another purple barrier.
'Now where have we seen that before?' said Walter, stopping in front of it. 'Stand back. Walter the Scholar will deal with this. Hmm...with an increasing sense of trepidation, admittedly. Luminous spirits of the sands, inhale the restless gloaming.' The barrier disappeared. 'There you go, what can I say? I have a knack for gibberish.'
Cassie laughed and followed him through the archway, before whipping around as it sealed itself.
'Um. Do you ever get the feeling somebody's playing games with us?' asked Walter, becoming quiet apprehensive.
'All the time.'
'Let's just be thankful and get through this place as quickly as we can.' he said, glancing down at a single skeleton, which turned out to be the last one they ever saw.
They continued down the path before stopping abruptly when white eyes began to appear in the darkness and a cold voice spoke to them.
'The light you bring will die. The light inside you will die. All that you are will die.' said the cold voice.
'Who's there? Show yourself!' ordered Walter, looking madly around.
'The children are here to play,' laughed the cold voice.
'Oh, this isn't good,' muttered Walter as Cassie drew her sword.
Then, all these shadow creatures ran at them, trying to destroy their light, and not meaning the torch. Cassie and Walter fought off the attacks, while the voice sent dreaded thoughts at them. They tried to ignore it and hurried along the path to get out of the place. The further they went the more desperate Walter became and when the torch light died, he began to panic.
'No!' he yelled, before trying to relight it. 'Not the light! Not the bloody light! Come on, work, dammit! Those things are all around us! Come on, come on, come on!'
He finally got it to work, and he grinned over at Cassie, who was gasping, looking terrified and pointing to something behind him. Slowly, Walter turned around and gasped at the creature that words could not describe, with its sickly white skin, several eyes and haunted face...The Crawler. Moments later, Walter was warding the creature away, by flinging the torch backwards and forwards. When he stopped...it was nowhere in sight.
'No, no, no, no, no...no, no, we have to get out of here. You hear me?' Walter shakily said to Cassie, leading the way again. 'You hear me? We have to get out of here! As long as we have fire we'll be alright. We have to keep walking and we'll get out of here and we'll be all right!'
'Yes Walter, we will be -'
'We are coming,' said the Crawler. 'We will devour you kingdom.'
Walter began to panic again and would have run straight into the Shadows if Cassie hadn't stopped him. Again, they fought the creatures of darkness and won once more.
'Did the blind seer not tell you about us?' the Crawler asked mockingly as they continued on their way. 'Did she not warn you?'
'What? Theresa?' asked Cassie, stopping dead. The Crawler appeared in front of her and laughed.
Its laughter seemed to last for an eternity until Walter finally lost it and threw the flaming torch at it, whilst yelling, 'QUIET!'
The torch hit the Crawler and it began to scream with pain as Cassie, Walter and Lightning ran off. Sadly, they ended up getting separated when Cassie jumped off a ledge and the darkness then took Walter. It was now Cassie's turn to panic. She could not lose her friend. She ran through the ruins the darkness lived in, fighting off the shadows that got in her way, until she arrived in a large room that was filled with black liquid oozing upwards. Around the room were different statues. At the far end of the room stood Walter, covered in the black liquid, gasping in pain.
'Walter!' yelled Cassie, running towards him.
When Cassie stopped next to him, she could see that the liquid was going down his throat and into his eyes. She stared at him helplessly, not knowing how to save him. She turned around as she heard the Crawler behind her.
'We have waited centuries for you,' it said.
'And why have you been waiting for me,' demanded Cassie, sounding braver than she felt.
'For you are the one foretold to either stop the darkness or be destroyed by It.' it told her. 'We hoped to prevent your existence by kidnapping your brother all those years ago to lead your mother and father to their doom. We thought we had succeeded when I was able to poison your mother's blood, but sadly we didn't succeed.'
'Poisoned her blood,' whispered Cassie. Maybe River had lied to everyone, including Logan when he said that it was a sudden illness that had taken Amy's life. Maybe it was this creature in front of her's poison that shortened her life. If that was true, it was going to die for what he stole from her.
Cassie made a strike at the creature, but it disappeared laughing and sent its shadow children in its place. They were no match for Cassie, so he brought the bird like statues to life instead to defeat her. None of them prevailed. In a last attempted to kill her, it brought to life a sentinel...it also failed, but the fight with it left Cassie weak.
'This land is ours! Darkness shall spread across the world!' exclaimed an angry Crawler as Cassie ran over to Walter, who had been freed from the dark liquid.
'Walter? Walter can you hear me?' Cassie asked urgently. 'Walter, say something!'
'I can't see a thing,' said a scared Walter, raising his head. Cassie was shocked to see only redness where his eyes were. 'It blinded me. I can't see!'
'It's okay, Walter. I'm here,' said Cassie, helping her mentor to his feet, draping his arm around her shoulder to help him out of the darkened ruins.
'Are we out? Did we get away?' Walter asked as the hot Aurora, desert breeze hit their faces. Cassie stopped momentarily to take of her coat, while saying, 'Yes, we're safe now.'
'What can you see?'
'A desert.' Cassie answered, leading Walter, up to some ruins that overlooked the desert.
'I can feel the heat and the sand but...whatever that thing did to me, it's like it sucked all the light from inside me.' said Walter. 'I still can't see anything.'
'Careful, there's steps up ahead,' Cassie warned and they climbed one of the ruins.
By the time they reached the top, Walter was panting.
'I'm not sure...I don't know how far I can go,' he panted. 'Are there no signs of civilisation?
'There's something in the distance. It looks like an enormous statue.' answered Cassie.
'It's going to take us a few hours.'
'You go. Leave me here.' Walter said at last.
'What? There is no way that I'm leaving you here to die!' Cassie said firmly.
'No, Listen to me. I can't see. I can barely stand. I'll only slow you down. I'll get you killed. You have to go on without me.'
'Never,' Cassie said firmly, taking hold of him and helping him towards the desert.
They had only gone a few metres when Walter collapsed, but he was too heavy for Cassie to carry.
'I can't leave you here,' said Cassie, when he told her to leave him again.
'You have to,' argued Walter.
'All right,' said a reluctant Cassie. 'I'll come back for you...I promise.'
'You'll do me proud. I know you'll do me proud.'
'I'll be back,' Cassie promised, before running off into the desert towards the statue.
As she ran through the scorching heat, the Crawler's voice spoke to her and showed her images of Walter being blind. The creature mocked her, insulted her and spoke of how she had abandoned Walter. She tried to block it out, but in the end, it just became too much and darkness consumed her as she fell...
When Cassie opened her eyes, she saw a young woman, probably Logan's age, hovering above her, looking concerned. She was bald with a thick white stripe down the middle of her face and a blue tattoo on the side of her head.
'She's still alive,' the woman said gently, speaking to someone out of Cassie's vision. 'The other can't be far away.'
'Taking a nap in the sun?' asked Ben, bending down next to Cassie, taking her hand and brushing hair out of her face. 'Typical royalty. You had me worried there for a while.'
'Walter,' she muttered. Her brain still wasn't functioning properly.
'Don't worry. We'll find him.' Ben promised. 'You just sit tight, Cassie.' he said as darkness took her once more.
When Cassie awoke again, she was out of the desert and in a room that looked strangely familiar. Lightning was by her side.
'Hey, boy,' muttered Cassie, slowly sitting up and looking around. The woman she had seen in the desert was sitting by her bed.
'You are awake. Good.' she sighed, smiling down at her. 'I do not suppose you remember me, do you, little Cassie?'
'Sorry, no. You look familiar, but I can't remember who you are.' admitted a slightly embarrassed Cassie.
'That is all right. You were only four years old, last time I saw you. My name is Kalin, and you are in the city of Aurora.'
'Walter? How is he?' asked Cassie, assuming that they had found him.
'He is very fortunate to be alive, but we have seen his condition before. We may be able to help him,' answered Kalin.
'Is there another one of my friends here?' Cassie asked after a moment. 'I thought I saw...in the desert...'
'A devilishly handsome soldier by the name of Ben Finn?' asked Ben, walking towards them.
'Ben!' exclaimed Cassie, leaping up and embracing him, which he returned. 'I thought you were dead!'
'Not dead yet, my friend,' he smiled as they stepped away from each other.
'Please, follow me,' said Kalin, leading them out of the room.
'It's so good to see you,' said Ben as they followed Kalin. 'When I was fished out of the local port and Walter and you weren't there...well, I thought it was all over. Then I realised I was being an arse and worked my charms to get a search party out for you. Not that Kalin needed much persuading.'
'We are accustomed to misfortune,' said Kalin. 'Besides, I remembered you from when you were a little girl, Cassie. Now, it's time you saw our city that you once called a magical beauty, though you won't call it that now.'
When they arrived at the city, Cassie gasped. Kalin was right when she said that Cassie would not call it a magical beauty. It was more like a graveyard, except worse.
'How - how did this happen?' asked a horrified Cassie.
'The Crawler did this: the being you fought in the desert caves.' answered Kalin. 'It re-appeared five years ago, stronger than ever, bringing darkness and death, seeking revenge. The few of us who still live have known nothing but fear since.'
'Sorry, re-appeared?' questioned Cassie.
'We believed it to be dead, the day your parents, Hammer and Garth emerged from the caves, for that is what they had believed. Little did we know that it was still alive and regaining its strength.' sighed Kalin. 'We never know when it will come, and we cannot hope to defeat the creature and its spawns without an army, even with someone like you by our side.'
It was then that Cassie remembered what Reaver had said to Logan after Swift, Ben and Cassie had escaped: ‘It cannot be killed! We saw that all those years ago. Your mother, Garth, Hammer and I all gave it the best we had and it still lives!’
'Logan knows that it is alive,' said Cassie.
Kalin and Ben looked at her.
'How would Logan know that?' Kalin said coldly. 'He stormed out of Aurora before it attacked after have a fight with my father, who was the leader at the time!'
'Do you know what the fight was about?' asked Ben.
'Me, apparently,' Kalin said after a while, confusing both Ben and Cassie. Why would they be arguing over Kalin? 'Ben has told me about your cause and I and my people will help you, but only if you promise that once you are Queen, that the alliance first forged by our parents will be evoked once more.'
'I promise,' said Cassie, thoughts still on Logan fighting with Kalin's father about Kalin. It did not make sense.
'Then let us go to war.'
Three days later, Walter was up and moving again, so they decided to head back to Albion, only thing was, they were not going the entire way. It had been decided that they would meet Page and the other allied leaders in the middle of the ocean, between Aurora and Albion in order to avoid drawing attention to what they were planning.
The moment they arrived at the meeting point, the Auroran fleet stopped, and Walter, Ben, Kalin and Cassie climbed aboard the Albion ship that had been waiting for them.
'Mummy!' yelled Gail, the moment Cassie set foot on the boat. 'I missed you so much!'
'I missed you too, sweet heart!' said Cassie, picking Gail up and holding her tightly, before embracing Elliot.
'Thank goodness you have returned safely,' muttered Elliot, before leading them over to the others.
Page, Sabine and Swift were all standing there waiting for them, and after all the pleasantries and introductions had been made, they got down to business. All of them took their places around a small table holding a map of Bowerstone and the castle, while Gail went off and played with Lightning.
'All right, I've got it,' Page said an hour later. 'I take a small group of soldiers down this route -' she pointed out the route on the map '- and blow up the west barracks. It will draw their attention and open up the main route.'
'How is that better than my idea?' asked Ben.
'We will last longer than a few seconds.' Kalin said bluntly, saying what everyone was thinking.
'Oh, well, now you're just picking holes,' muttered Ben. The group had already had a lengthy conversation telling Ben why his plan would not work.
'Give it up, boy,' said Sabine. 'What I want to know is what my men need to do.'
'That is for the future Queen to decide,' said Walter, while Swift nodded his agreement.
'Page knows the city best. We'll follow her plan,' Cassie said firmly.
'Fine,' sulked Ben. 'I only put mine forward to annoy her anyway.'
'I see you've really matured on your travels,' said Page, looking over at him, before turning back to the map. 'If you look at the map, we can go through the details.'
'My ships will take you to the beach here,' motioned Kalin.
'We can expect heavy mortar fire, but most of Logan's soldiers will be busy dealing with Page and he men.' said Walter.
'I want to be in the thick of the smoke and the fire and the glory,' said a stubborn Sabine. 'If Page takes the west route, it's only fair I take the east.'
'Which leaves the centre to Swift, Walter, Cassie and I.' Said Ben, before adding, 'Less chance of getting lost.'
'Then, we've agreed?'
Everyone nodded. Cassie had begged Elliot to remain with Gail, in the Sanctuary come time for the civil war.
Written: 1 December 2011