|The Happenings II|
|Series||The Happenings by Azaelia Silmarwen|
|Previous||A Hero is Born|
|Next||So The Rebellion Begins: Mourningwood and The Resistance|
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CHAPTER SIX: SO THE REBELLION BEGINS: ALLIESEdit
Cassie opened her eyes and realised that Walter and her must be in the Dweller Camp in the Mispeak Mountains. She had never been anywhere so cold. Whilst the breeze was refreshing, it also sent chills down her spine. She moved closer to Walter, who wrapped his arm around her shoulders to keep her warm.
'I'd forgotten how bloody cold it is up here,' muttered Walter, keeping her close. 'Come on. The people here call themselves Dwellers.' explained Walter as they walked along a snowy path, weaving in and out of people and caravans. 'They're tough, loyal, and like I told you earlier, they hate Logan's guts.'
'I can tell,' said a intimidated Cassie as many Dwellers stopped and glared at her. They recognised her as Logan's sister. Cassie was gratefully that Walter was there with her. If he hadn't of been, she probably would have been attacked by now.
'Yep. It may not look like much, but this is where the revolution begins.' continued Walter. 'This is what Logan has reduced them to. He's taken control of these mountains and started destroying its forests.'
As they rounded a corner and began to walk up a hill, they saw a group of Dwellers there begging for food, but what broke Cassie's heart was when she saw a little girl amongst them, and the little girl's comment made Cassie feel like a cold, selfish, spoilt princess. She had never realised how much her brother sheltered her from.
'I'll trade you my doll for some food,' begged the little girl. 'She's really good. Honest. Her name's Sadie.'
Cassie paused and searched her pockets, but she had no money on her. Why would she? If she ever wanted something all she had to do was ask Logan. Sensing Cassie's emotions towards the little girl, Walter slipped a few gold pieces into her hand.
'I'll pay you back, I promise,' whispered Cassie. Walter shrugged it off as Cassie approached the girl. Everyone stopped and watched.
'I know it's not much, little one, but do you think this will be enough, for the time being, to look after Sadie?' Cassie asked, putting the money into the girl's tiny hand.
The girl's eyes widened.
'Thank you so much!' she cried, and she ran of yelling out to her mother who was tending to two boys even younger than the girl.
Cassie smiled sadly upon seeing how the young had to live, and she startled briefly when Walter put his arm back around her shoulders to keep her warm.
'I knew they'd have a hard time finding food, but I had no idea it was this bad,' muttered Walter, leading her away from the now staring people. 'The man we need to convince is Sabine. A proud old sod, but a good man and a good leader. He won't give his allegiance easily, especially to Logan's sister.'
'Then what should we do?' asked Cassie.
'I'd best speak with him alone first. Yes I think that would be best.' Walter said after a moment, before looking Cassie up and down. 'You know, maybe you ought to find some new clothes while I talk to Sabine. Something slightly less...regal. We don't need this kind of attention,' he added, motioning to the people that had followed us curiously. 'Here -' he handed her a bag of gold, '-I only have a little bit of gold, but it should be enough. Maybe you can spread what's left among the people. They need it more than we do.'
Cassie couldn't have agreed more. She was going to help these people in any way that she could. Her mother would have never let her people starve or fall into poverty.
Cassie wished Walter luck, and went back down the hill searching for a clothes stall or something. Half an hour later she found one and bought a Dwellers outfit. With the outfit in hand, she began to wonder where she could go to get changed. It was then that she got the fright of her life...
'Hello, madam, this is Jasper...' said Jasper's voice making Cassie jump and look around. Lightning sat and watched her with his head cocked to one side.
'Jasper?' breathed the startled Cassie, still looking around. 'Where are you?'
'In the Sanctuary, madam. I am talking to you through the Guild Seal,' explained Jasper as Cassie tried to lower her heart rate. 'If you would like to return to the Sanctuary, I will be able to show you its dressing room.'
Cassie did say he said and used the Guild Seal to teleport back to the Sanctuary. Once back at the Sanctuary, she could see that Jasper had done some cleaning. He was currently standing near a door with a coat hanger above it.
'Ah, hello.' he said when he spotted Cassie. 'Now, included in the Sanctuary is a dressing room. Step through and I'll show you.' he added, pointing to the door with the coat hanger above it.
Cassie obeyed and walked through the door. Once she arrived in the changing room, she couldn't help but gasp. She had never seen so many clothes in all her life. There were bandit outfits, highwayman, farmer, noble, commoner, middle class, and many more outfits that had belonged to her mother. All of which we're her size, except in height. They were all presented on mannequins.
'I've taken the liberty of laying out your clothes on these mannequins, which should serve as convenient storage for any garments you acquire during your travels, just like your mother.' said Jasper, who had followed Cassie. 'Now, why don't you change into your new Dweller outfit?' he suggested.
Cassie agreed with him and went to get dressed. Hopefully she would be warm wearing it. She didn't know how the Dwellers could survive there where it was so cold. It surprised her that her mother didn't have a Dwellers outfit.
Cassie didn't bother putting on the Dweller cap - she hated wearing hats - and once she was dressed and had taken off her make-up and jewellery, she walked back over to Jasper.
'There you are. You look just like a Dweller.' he said approvingly. 'I hope this new outfit is as comfortable as your royal attire, although I suspect the chances of that are quite low.'
'You've got that right. How can the Dwellers' live in these things? They are so itchy!' complained Cassie, resisting the urge to scratch.
Jasper chuckled quietly as Cassie left to go back to the Dweller Camp, to meet Walter. As she walked through the camp, she distributed the money as Walter suggested, though many of the Dwellers accepted it suspiciously, thinking that it was some sort of trick.
Cassie meet Walter outside a pair of gates that led to where Sabine lived.
'That's more like it!' Walter said approvingly as Cassie ran over to him. 'The scruffy look suits you.'
'Thanks,' panted Cassie. Man was she unfit.
'I've spoken to Sabine, explained everything and he's - well, I told you he'd take some convincing.' shrugged Walter, before leading Cassie to where Sabine was.
As Cassie, Walter and Lightning were approaching Sabine's caravan, a huge man stepped in their way. Cassie automatically took a step back. The man was like a giant!
'Out of the way, Boulder. I can't see a thing,' came a heavy accented voice.
The giant, named Boulder, stepped out of the way to reveal a short old man sitting on a throne like chair, who Cassie knew to be Sabine. He wasn't what Cassie had been expecting.
'So royalty walks into our home. Princess Cassandra, no less. You're a long mile from the castle, Princess.' said Sabine, walking towards her. 'What do you think of our home then? Do you like what your brother has done to us?'
Cassie didn't answer, but Sabine hadn't been looking for an answer.
'These mountains have always been ours, and now Logan's taken then, and stripping them of all life.' fumed Sabine. 'Oh, we're ready to go to war...but why should we follow Logan's kin?'
'Because you can trust me. You have my word!' Cassie said confidently.
'We don't take much stock in words round these parts. We're simple folk. Ain't that right, Boulder?' Sabine added to Boulder.
Boulder only grunted.
'Then what do you want?' asked Cassie.
'Proof,' Sabine said simply.
'What kind of proof?'
'First, prove you are truly, as Walter claims, a Hero.' said Sabine, counting on his fingers. 'This is easily done. There is a secret chamber beneath the town of Brightwall, built by your own mother.' he said as Lightning started to bark. 'Only Heroes can survive its trials and reach the relics within. Bring me one of these ancient objects and I will believe you. Second, prove you are a warrior worthy of leading us into battle. You can do this by slaying the mercenaries who plague Mispeak Valley and who have long soured our existence. Third, prove you are a true leader. Persuade our neighbours in Brightwall to share what food they have with us. Boulder,' he added, looking over at the big man who was patting a happy Lightning.
Boulder groaned and moved away from Lightning. Lightning didn't look to happy.
'If we cannot eat, we will die,' continued Sabine as though nothing had happened. 'And the dead make poor allies.'
'Is that all?' asked a stunned Cassie.
'Yep. That's the lot. Off you go then. Good luck. Nice knowing you.' Sabine said cheerfully.
What did he mean "nice knowing you"? Thought Cassie as Walter lead her out of camp.
'It's nice to see Sabine hasn't mellowed with age,' chuckled Walter as he lead her out of camp. 'But anyway, I know the place he mentioned. Amy built the chamber under the Brightwall Academy. Albion's greatest seat of learning...or at least it was until Logan closed it down. Just show the old librarian your Guild Seal. He'll know what it means.'
'What about you? What are you going to do?' Cassie asked as they stopped at the Dweller Camp entry.
'I'll try to find out more about these mercenaries. I'll see you in Brightwall when I have some information.'
Cassie nodded to him and followed the path to Brightwall.
The worst thing Cassie came across on her way to Brightwall through Mispeak Valley was wolves. Blood thirsty, hungry wolves. But it was nothing she couldn't handle with her fire gauntlet. If she didn't have that, she wouldn't know where she'd be. Though she did get one surprise and that was when Lightning attacked one of the wolves and ended up killing it. Maybe he was like Storm after all.
Upon arriving in Brightwall, Cassie decided to change her outfit for she was beginning to sweat in her Dweller outfit. Using the Guild Seal, Cassie travelled to the Sanctuary and went in search for some appropriate clothes. She browsed through the different mannequins her mother had, before she noticed one apart from all the others. On the mannequin was an outfit that look highly familiar to Cassie. It was a red and green highwayman coat with a matching hat, short, light brown pants, corset and thigh high boots. Something about that outfit kept drawing Cassie in, and in the end she put the outfit on and walked outside to where Jasper was currently cleaning out a doggie bed for Lightning.
'Jasper, why does this outfit look so familiar to me?' asked Cassie.
'What outfits that, madam?' asked Jasper as he turned around. He gasped the moment he caught sight of her.
'Nothing, it's just that you look so much like your mother in that outfit.' Jasper told her, tears slowly forming in his eyes. 'That was her favourite outfit, though no one could understand why. I guess you have the same taste as Queen Amy.'
'I don't know. I just felt drawn to it. But I have to admit, it is really comfortable. Do you think it will be alright if I wear it?'
'In that case, I better get to the Academy. See you later, Jasper!' said Cassie, before disappearing and arriving in Brightwall.
As Cassie walked through Brightwall many of its citizens stopped and stared at her, before muttering amongst themselves. Cassie only heard snippets of what they said.
'Did you see who I thought I saw?'
'It couldn't be...'
'Do you think that's Lionheart's ghost?'
'No, I-I think that was the princess!'
Cassie felt honoured to learn that the citizens thought that she was her mother, though she knew that she would eventually get sick of it and she would probably have hated them saying that if Amy was still alive.
When Cassie entered the Academy, at first she thought that she was the only one there, but she was proven wrong when a librarian started to talk in a bored monotone voice, without looking up from his paperwork.
'The library is closed by order of the king.' he said. 'We don't serve drinks. We don't sell chicken feed. Please leave before the soldiers suspect you of gaining any real knowledge.'
Cassie stood there for a moment, before clearing her throat scaring the old librarian.
'Sweet papyrus!' he yelled, looking Cassie up and down. 'Queen Amy? No, I must be dreaming.'
'Believe me, you're not,' smiled Cassie, showing him the Guild Seal. 'And, I'm not Queen Amy,' she added.
'Then you are...?'
'Princess Cassandra, yes.'
'Oh my. Please, come this way.' The librarian Samuel said, leading the way deep into the Academy. 'Your mother told me that one day a challenger bearing the Seal would come seeking entrance to the Reliquary, but I never imagined it would happen in my lifetime. It was she who founded the Academy. Of course, I have often wondered how she would react to see it in its present state. I doubt she would have expected Logan to close it down, seeing as he use to love coming here and reading the contents of our library. Anyway, here we are.' he added as they stopped before a huge silver door with different mechanisms in place to lock it. 'I can't tell you how many of our researches and professors have studied this door, hoping to unlock its mechanism. But I knew there was only one thing that would ever open it.'
'The Guild Seal,' breathed Cassie as she remembered the stories Walter use to tell her, especially about the Guild Seal unlocking a tomb that started Amy's journey.
With shaking hands, Cassie put the Seal into the door and before their very eyes, the mechanisms began to unlock.
Inside the Reliquary, Cassie found a number of things such as gold, gems, old books and many other bits and pieces. She also learnt about flit switches and whilst she was there, Jasper called her back to the Sanctuary where he had found all of Amy's old weapons. Another thing she found in the Reliquary was hollow men and lots of them. Hadn't her mother ever heard of a guard dog or had these creatures just decided to move in after her death? By the end of her journey through the Reliquary, Cassie discovered that she was very skilled with a blade and with using magic, but she sucked when it came to using a ranged weapon. She guessed that Logan got those geans. Right at the very end of the Reliquary she heard a musical tune. The same tune she remembered her mother humming to her as she rocked her to sleep. As Cassie approached a pedestal, she saw that the music as coming from a strange music box. As she picked it up, white light surrounded her and she was once more standing in front of the Blind Seer, Theresa.
'You have done well,' smiled Theresa. 'Touching the Guild Seal was an indication of what you could become. Reaching the music box has proven what you already are. No one but a Hero could have done it. You have begun to learn what powers you possess, and there is still greater potential within you, having the parents that you do. But you have only taken the first step in your journey. Albion is crying out for a revolution, and for someone to lead it.'
'I know this already,' stated Cassie.
Theresa ignored her, like she had done many times with Amy.
'Winning supporters to your cause will be hard,' she continued. 'Leading them against Logan will be an even greater challenge. But it is one you must accomplish.'
'I'll make him pay for what he did,' growl Cassie as she thought back to Elliot. She would never forgive Logan for taking him away from her. Never.
'This is not a matter of personal vengeance.' Theresa said sternly. 'As long as your brother sits on the throne, Albion is in great danger.'
'Danger? Danger of what?' Cassie asked quickly.
Theresa did not answer, instead she said; 'Open the music box. It will show you the truth.'
Cassie did as she said and before she knew it she was standing in the War Room, but she was not alone. Logan stood looking down at the map of Albion and Aurora, while another man sat in the shadows with a goblet of wine in his hand. Cassie could not see his face. All that she could see was that he wore expensive clothes and that he was male and tall.
Her attention was soon taken away from the mysterious man as Logan began to speak.
'This is my Albion,' Logan said softly. 'Its cities will bow to my law or they will burn. Its mountains will bend to my will or they will fall. This is my Albion. Its people will do as I say or they will die. Its future will be as I decree of it will end. I have seen what must be done, and nothing will stand in my way. We will be greater and we will be stronger, no matter what sacrifices we must make. This is my Albion, and I will see it destroyed before I surrender it.'
Cassie gasped and she was once more standing in front of Theresa. She could not believe her ears. How could Logan be so heartless and cruel?
'If any part of you still doubted the necessity of a revolution, you have your answer.' said Theresa. 'The kingdom will face its own annihilation under your brother's rule. Now do whatever you must to gain your first ally, for you cannot lead a rebellion without followers. Sabine is a good man, and his people are strong.' Theresa said before disappearing.
Cassie looked around before concentrating on her Guild Seal. Next thing she knew, she was standing at the welcome desk in front of a startled Samuel.
'Blessed index cards, you made it!' exclaimed Samuel. 'This is cause for great rejoicing. Albion has a proper Hero again. If ever I can be of assistance, I will be honoured to serve you.'
Cassie nodded and left the Academy.
'I knew that you would succeed, madam,' said Jasper. Cassie could tell that he was smiling. 'You now have proof of your Heroic status. And I believe Walter has made some progress with the mercenary problem. He is waiting for you outside the local tavern.'
'Thanks Jasper,' said Cassie, before going looking for the tavern.
She soon found it alright and there was Walter waiting patiently for her.
'You were successful then?' Walter asked as Cassie stopped in front of him.
'Yes,' she smiled, showing him the music box, before putting it away in a bag that her mother use to use to put all the treasures she found on her journeys.
'Bloody marvellous!' said Walter. 'You'll be glad to know I have some information on the mercenaries Sabine mentioned. They're led by a man called Saker. He used to be a soldier, but always had more in common with bandits and cutthroats than the military. His men are holed up in a small fortress in the mountains, so it won't be easy to get in. But I have a plan.'
'And what is this plan?' asked a curious Cassie.
'Come with me and you'll see.'
Cassie followed Walter into a upstairs room in the tavern where they found two sleeping mercenaries. One was male with no hair and a beard while the other was female with short black hair, dark make-up and a weird tattoo on her right arm.
'Who are they?' Cassie demanded.
'Both of them are cold-blooded killers. The man's called Clarence, but everyone calls him Jimmy while the female is his girlfriend, Ulva.'
'Uh huh, but why are they here?'
'They were drinking in the pub all day, and generally making life unpleasant for everyone. It wasn't hard to get them completely pickled. These young thugs...bloody lightweights if you ask me.'
'So what have they got to do with your plan? Do they even have anything to do with your plan?' asked a confused Cassie.
'Yes. If you take her clothes, you'll have a free pass into their camp. Just try not to think about what those stains might be.' Walter added as Cassie examined Ulva's revealing top.
Cassie took the rest of Ulva's clothes, leaving her only in her undies - the top couldn't be worn with a bra - and went into a room to get changed. She was not happy when she came back out.
'I look like a slut or something!' she whinged to Walter.
He looked over at her.
'Nah, they wear even less clothes. If it makes you feel better, your mother had to go undercover as one once.' he said, frowning slightly.
'That explains the outfit in the dressing room,' muttered Cassie. 'What?' she added, noticing the way Walter was looking at her.
'Hmm, you're not likely to convince anyone without a bit of extra effort.' explained Walter. 'Even these idiots will notice if you don't have the right coloured hair or style, make-up and tattoos.'
'What? You expect me to get that foul tattoo on my body!' exclaimed a horrified Cassie. 'I don't want to spend the rest of my life with that one my body!'
'You don't have to get an actually tattoo.' Walter said patiently. 'If Amy ever needed to get a tattoo for a disgust, she would just you ink. It wears off after a day or two.' Cassie nodded her head. She would do that. 'I'm sure you can get hold of what you need around town though. In the meantime, I'll find out who to talk to about getting food to the Dwellers. They might not have much to spare here, but they're kind people. They'll just need a little convincing. Anyway, good luck dealing with Saker and his mercenaries. It will be your first taste of real battle, but I know you'll do just fine.'
'I hate to tell you but I've already been in a battle against hollow men,' sighed Cassie, before walking over to the stylist to get her hair cut, styled and dyed. Once that was done, the stylist started on her make-up before finishing with her tattoo. The stylist must have found her odd to be wanting the tattoo done in normal ink. Once it was all complete, Cassie looked at herself in the mirror and she could hardly recognise herself. There was now a great resemblance between herself and Ulva.
The moment Cassie walked out of the shop, Lightning growled. He didn't like her new look.
'I don't like it either; Lightning, but I have no choice.' Cassie said, bending down and patting his head. 'Come on; let's get this errand over and done with.'
She was grateful that Logan couldn't see her now. He's probably go ballistic. On second thoughts, she would actually love to go and see him, just to see his reaction.
When Cassie arrived at the Mercenary Camp, she found their fortress gate shut and locked. She knocked on the wooden gate. Moments later, another mercenary popped his head over the wall to see who it was.
'Hi, Ulva. Back from killing some Dwellers? Where's Jimmy? What's with the dog?' The mercenary asked.
Cassie didn't answer. She knew that she would give her disguise away if she spoke. She hoped the other wouldn't be suspicious if she didn't talk...he wasn't. Maybe she wasn't the talking type. Thankfully he wasn't suspicious about Lightning either. She should have left him with Walter.
'Come on in,' he grumbled, before muttering on about Ulva been too good to talk to other mercenaries.
Cassie entered without hesitation. She walked confidently through the camp, but the entire time her heart was beating painfully against her chest. She ignored all the other mercenaries, until she came to the third gate. It was then she ran into trouble. The two mercenaries guarding the gate were a bit more perceptive than the last two.
'Ulva? Is that really you? You look different somehow. Were your eyes always light green?' Asked one of the two. He sounded really confused.
'Nah, the lovely Ulva has lovely chocolate brown eyes,' sighed the other before realising what he had just said. 'That's not her! That's not Ulva!' he yelled, alerting the other mercenaries.
Rats, thought a bitter Cassie as she began to fight off the advancing mercenaries. Why Ulva couldn't of had the same coloured eyes as her? She would have made it through otherwise. In fact she had to fight the rest of the way to Saker, which annoyed her greatly. What if she eventually got to Saker and she couldn't defeat him because she was worn out from fighting the other mercenaries? No, she couldn't think like that. She would defeat Saker, but it didn't help when she was near the end of the mercenary camp and walked straight into a fighting ring. The moment she was inside, the gates swung shut and from above she was surrounded by a hundred if not more mercenaries.
I have a really bad feeling about this, thought Cassie. There's no way I'll be able to fight all of them off.
As some of them made a move to jump down to fight her, a new commanding voice met her ears and she knew that it was Saker.
'Leave her,' he ordered. 'She's mine!' He then jumped down and Cassie noticed that he was roughly the same size as Boulder. She was starting to think that she'd rather fight the other mercenaries. 'You've left quite a trial of bodies,' said Saker, walking towards her. Cassie raised her sword. 'You're not one of Sabine's Dwellers, that's for damn sure. But you'll die like one!' Then, without warning he attacked.
Cassie never knew how she survived that battle against him. He was bigger and strong than her, plus he clearly had more fighting experience than her. She had never fought anyone or anything like him before. But in the end Saker fell to his knees in defeat, too tired to carry on.
'Stop!' he begged of Cassie. 'You've won. This battle is yours. Kill me or let me live. It's your choice, and my men will honour it. We may be nothing but mercenaries, but we have our codes, like any other soldiers. We'll leave the Dwellers be no matter what you do. That's a warrior's promise.'
Cassie looked down at the big man before her, before extending her hand to him. She could tell when a man gave his word and actually meant it. Saker was one of those men.
Saker looked at her hand for a moment, before accepting it, and she helped him to his feet, before smiling up at him.
'To many have lost their lives in this war. It is time that stopped.' Cassie said firmly.
'Thank you,' said Saker. 'I won't forget this. Let the stranger go!' he added loudly to the other mercenaries.
But Cassie heard none of it, for the world around her changed once more.
'You have taken another step on the road to rule. Sparing Saker has won over the support of his followers. Word is already spreading of your compassion and your strength.' Said Theresa, before sending her back.
'Here, take this flag,' said Saker as though no time had passed. 'If you ever need our help, send it to us and we shall come. You are always welcome amongst my men.'
'I thank you, Saker. You are truly a man of your word and more,' said Cassie, accepting the flag and leaving the camp. The mercenaries were cleaning up the dead bodies.
'It is a momentous occasion, madam.' Jasper said to Cassie as she walked through the camp. 'Your first victory in battle. I'm no expert on personal combat, but I would say, based on the fact that you're not dead, you acquitted yourself rather well.'
'Thanks Jasper,' chuckled Cassie, before acting as though she hadn't said anything when a few mercenaries that heard her, looked over at her. She wondered if people ever thought that her mother was crazy when she spoke to Theresa through the Guild Seal.
'It's hard to believe just a few days ago I was rousing you from a comfortable bed...' continued Jasper. Cassie could hear the pride in his voice. 'It would seem that you have completed two of the tasks that Sabin set for you. If you return to Brightwall, you will find Walter has some news on how to fulfil the last requirement.'
'Where in Brightwall is he?'
'The Brightwall Tavern. It seems as though he had become quite attached to the place.' answered Jasper.
Cassie tried not to laugh at his comment.
Cassie found Walter in the same room she had found Ulva and Jimmy, only this time there wasn't a mercenary in sight and Samuel was with Walter drinking ale. Due to Cassie's disguise, they didn't recognise her at first.
'Oh my,' said Samuel, while Walter tensed up before saying, 'Cass? Is that you?'
'No, I'm Ulva,' Cassie said sarcastically.
'I can barely recognise you. Did the plan work?'
'It did at first until someone realised that Ulva has chocolate brown eyes, not green. However, I still managed to stop the mercenaries attacking the Dwellers. Saker gave me his word.' said Cassie, joining them at the table. 'How goes the last requirement?'
'Brightwall has no overabundance of resources itself,' answered Samuel. 'The king's levies are rather steep and we face shortages more often than is comfortable. However, were you to improve things around Brightwall, the people would be most grateful, and when people are grateful, they're also charitable. I'm sure they would find it in their hearts to send aid to those poor people.'
'There you have it,' said Walter. 'The way I see it, you will need all the followers you can get if you're going to lead a successful rebellion. What better time to start?'
'I heartily agree with Sir Walter - pardon me for overhearing,' said Jasper.
'That's alright, Jasper,' said Cassie. Samuel looked at her quickly and then at the Guild Seal she was wearing. Understanding passed over his face and she smiled at him.
'As it happens, I've learned of a promising method for amassing followers. If you'll return to the Sanctuary at your earliest convenience, I can show you what I mean.'
'Sure. Samuel, Walter. I will see you later.' Cassie said, getting to her feet before travelling to the Sanctuary.
When she arrived in the Sanctuary, Jasper looked disapprovingly at the way she was dress, but said nothing of it. Instead he explained how she could gain followers.
'Ah, now the book says there is an additional rather amazing ability about the Sanctuary's map table: it can help you find people who are in need of a Hero. I often wondered how Queen Amy knew who needed help.' he added.
Cassie went over to the map table and looked around Brightwall. She could see that a number of villagers needed her help. At first she didn't know who to help first, but in the end she decided to help Bernard and Pasty with their chickens.
'Right, I'm off again,' began Cassie, but when she caught sight of her reflection, she said, 'But first I think I'll go and clean myself up. '
While Cassie could do nothing about her hair dye - she would have to wait for it to come out - she was able to scrub of her ink tattoo and make-up, before getting dressed in her original outfit. The same outfit her mother use to wear.
Once she was ready, she headed back to Brightwall and over to where Bernard was standing looking anxious.
'Bernard?' Cassie asked, walking over to the man.
'Yes, that's me.'
'Hi, I'm Cassie. I'm here to help you with your chicken problem.'
'You are? Oh that's great! Somehow the gate got open and all of my chickens have escaped. I don't know how they did it, and I know I probably never will. Chickens are exceptionally intelligent buggers. Anyway, you'll need this,' he said, handing Cassie a chicken costume. 'Contrary to what most people think, chickens are very crafty.' he said, noticing the look Cassie was giving him. He couldn't be serious. 'They won't fall for any of that, "Here chicky, chicky. I've got some lovely treats for you". Oh no, too smart. You have to defeat them psychologically. Now, they won't remain one concentrated force. They will have re-deformed into groups of three or so, to maximise their tactical advantage. When you find one of these squads flap your wings and such and they should follow you back here. But don't let them try and negotiate with ya. You do not want those little buggers in your head,' he added with a chuckle.
Cassie smiled and walked of a short distance so she could go to the Sanctuary's dressing room. Cassie was beginning to question his sanity, but then, she was beginning to question her own for agreeing to wear a chicken suit and go around clucking and flapping her arms like a chicken. And there was people thinking that there was something wrong with her brother!
Once in her chicken outfit, she came out from behind the screen as Jasper enter the room carrying some new dyes that he found. He stopped dead when he saw her.
'You're dressed as a chicken. What are you...what are...what are you planning to do...dressed as a chicken?'
Cassie just shook her head, going red, and left the sanctuary to go and find those bloody chickens. In the end, she rounded up all nine chickens and had them safely back with Bernard.
'Thanks, I -' began Bernard, but he was interrupted by his wife as she came waltzing towards them, looking disapprovingly at Bernard.
'Oh Bernard, you've gone and locked them up again.' said an angry Patsy. 'This isn't right! They deserve to be free!'
'You're always on about the chickens and their freedom. You know what I think?' said an equally angry Bernard. 'I think it was you let them out!'
'You're right. I admit it! I couldn't live with myself any longer, being complicit in this chicken oppression.'
'But they might have destroyed the entire town! Possibly the world!'
Yep, he was insane. Thought Cassie.
'They might have gone off to live peacefully on their own! They might have created great works of art or literature! We don't know, and we have no right to take away their fundamental liberties based on our own prejudices!' snapped Patsy.
'Well, now it's clear taking away their liberties isn't enough. I have to assume you'll try to facilitate another escape...and that means the only choice is to kill them all!' declared Bernard.
'Oh, no, Bernard! No, don't!' pleaded Patsy. 'All right, keep them locked up, at least so we can talk about this!'
Much to Cassie's dismay, Bernard turned to her and roped her into the discussion.
'You...you infiltrated the chickens, you lived among them. You know them better than anyone. What's to be done?' he demanded.
Cassie just stared at them, before saying bluntly, 'They're chickens. I don't think there's any harm in letting them live.'
'All right, we'll let them live,' grumbled Bernard, turning to his wife. 'But only if you swear never to let them out again.'
'All right, all right...we'll work this out,' agreed Patsy.
'I hope I haven't made a terrible mistake. But if I killed them...I would just have made them martyrs.'
Cassie quickly left and went back to the Sanctuary to find someone else to help. She hoped she did not have to help another insane person. Little did she know that she would have to do something nearly as bad.
Cassie made her way to the Brightwall Academy, for Jasper had told her that two men, Lambert and Pinch, needed help putting on a play. She soon found the two men bickering outside the Academy.
'You, good lady,' said the man in green the moment he saw Cassie approach, 'you who live in such a tumultuous epoch. Do you not thirst for the drama and emotion of a properly structured tragic play?'
'Er,' said Cassie, but she was saved from answering for the other man, the one in red said, 'Of course you don't. You want to escape your troubles. You want to be made merry, you want to be amused.'
'It is no good,' sighed the green man. 'We shall never agree, Pinch.'
'Ah, if only we could get our hands on Morley's lost play.' agreed Pinch. 'It would solve all of our problems.'
'Morley's Lost Play?' repeated Cassie. 'Isn't that play meant to hold both tragedy and humour?'
'Yes,' answered Lambert, looking impressed that she had heard of it. 'It is said to bring together the opposites of tragedy and comedy in an exquisite marriage of forms.'
'But perhaps you can find it?' asked Pinch, taking in Cassie's outfit and weapons.
'Yes, we beg you.' said Lambert. 'The theatre, the muses, the very heart and soul of this town, will thank you.'
'Sure, but I'll do it without the thanks of the heart and soul of the town,' said Cassie. 'Where do you think I should start?'
'The library,' Lambert answered swiftly.
'If it's in the library, why don't you go and look yourselves?' asked Cassie.
'We did, well, we did commission an elderly detective to search the library for clues as to the play's whereabouts, but he never returned. Plus King Logan has made it clear that he doesn't want anyone browsing its shelves.'
'Right,' muttered Cassie, walking into the Academy.
What felt like hours, though it probably was, later of searching the shelves, Cassie finally found some clues. As she walked deeper into the Academy, pass the room that held the entrance to the Reliquary, a voice echoed around the dimly lit corridor.
'Turn back now, mortal one...' it said.
Cassie paused for a second before hurrying through the doors that had just slammed shut in front of her. While others might have ran away from the voice, it encouraged Cassie to move on.
'Stay away from this accursed place,' said the voice again, making papers fly out of books as she ran down another corridor, before slamming another door in her face. 'Only death and insanity awaits you...'
Yet again, Cassie ignored the warnings and entered the room. The room was covered with dust and spider webs with the only light source coming from a blue, glowing book floating above a pedestal. Cautiously, Cassie moved forward and stood in front of the book.
'Don't pick it up...' the voice yelled, panicking.
Cassie did the opposite.
She picked up the book and looked around. Nothing happened. Shrugging, she opened it and flicked through its pages before giving a slight yell as a ghost head popped out of the book. She recognised the head as Philipth Morley's head from a picture in a history book.
'You lot just can't leave well enough alone, can you?' he yelled at her. 'Bloody literary tourists. Bane of my afterlife!'
Then, before Cassie could even blink, she was sucked into the book and her world went black.
When she came to her senses again, she saw that she was lying on the ground with the ghost of Morley standing above her glaring. Cassie quickly leaped to her feet and looked around. She had no idea where she was.
'Listen you!' Morley said sternly, snapping Cassie's attention back to him. 'You're not getting my lost play, you hear? It's rubbish. Worse than rubbish. I mean, what was I thinking, mixing tragedy and comedy? I must have been off my rocker!' he was talking more to himself than to Cassie, before disappearing muttering to himself.
Cassie's eyes travelled over the different houses that lined the street, trying to figure out where she was when a voice spoke behind her.
'It would seem, my dear, you have been apprehended by the ghost of Phillipth Morley.' An oldish man said. 'That makes us both his captives.'
'And who are you?' asked Cassie.
'I am Ransom Lockyer.'
'Ransom Locke? As in the famous detective?'
'Yes, yet here I am, ready to live out the rest of my days trapped in a book.' said Locke.
'A book? You mean we're stuck in one of Morley's plays?' asked a startled Cassie.
'Yes. As far as I can deduce,' said Locke, leading the way down a street where a mannequin dressed in the exact same outfit Cassie had worn to see Elliot on that...on that horrible day, 'we are currently in a scene from one of Morley's greatest plays. "The Near Tragedy of Oliver and Ethel".'
'As fascinating as that is, how is that suppose to help us escape?' demanded Cassie, stopping in front of the mannequin.
'I believe that if we are to escape, we must act out the scene, but performing is not one of my talents.' said Locke. 'If I am correct, putting on this costume -' he motioned to the mannequin '- should set things in motion.'
'What do you mean - wait, you want me to act?' said a shocked Cassie.
'How else are we to escape? I cannot act.'
'Nor can I! My talents lie in fighting, politics and sucking up to my older brother, King Logan!' exclaimed Cassie. 'I know nothing of acting and drama!'
'But I'm sure you know about love,' argued Locke. 'This scene is from a beautiful love tragedy.'
'I am no stranger to heartbreak,' admitted Cassie, thinking back to Elliot's death. 'Very well. Anything to get out of here,' she muttered, grabbing the clothes, walking off where no one could see her, and began to get dressed. When she emerged, she was startled to see an audience of ghosts. 'Great, just great,' said a bitter Cassie as a ghost appeared in front of her.
'Oh Ethel, my love, my life, my sun.' he said. 'If thou wouldst but give me one sign, one gesture that would speak of your affection. Then might I think this grey existence worth living.'
'Huh?' said Cassie, looking over at Locke.
'Ah, yes, a classic moment in the play. You are Ethel, the beautiful young daughter of a dung merchant -'
'Must be pretty expensive dung,' muttered Cassie. She was wearing a very expensive dress after all. Logan always made sure she had the best.
'- Show Oliver that you love him and we may be able to leave this scene.' concluded Locke.
'Okay,' muttered Cassie, taking a deep breath and closing her eyes. Just imagine he's Elliot, she thought, before opening her eyes once more. 'My heart is your, my love.' Cassie said voice thick with emotion. She had said those exact same words to Elliot when he asked her if she loved him.
'Let the heavens and the seas, the toads and the eels sing the songs in my heart, for she doth love me and all is well!' said the ghost playing Oliver. 'We shall meet again in the morrow, my little ferret, and elope into the sunset to live out our days in wondrous joy.'
'I wish,' muttered Cassie, still thinking of Elliot.
'A magnificent rendition.' said Locke. 'Truly. I applaud you.'
'Thanks,' she muttered before getting changed back into her original outfit and to grab her weapons.
When she came back, Morley appeared before her, looking slightly impressed.
'Hmm. I see you are gifted with remarkable literary cunning.' said Morley. 'But can you really comprehend the depths of my works? We shall see.'
The world around Locke and Cassie blurred and the scene changed. Looking around, Cassie could see that they were in some sort of throne room. Maybe she would have to act like a Princess. How easy would that be!
'Ah, yes.' said Locke as they walked over to the next costume with turned out to be...a chicken suit. As if Cassie hadn't been humiliated enough by chickens. 'This is un-doubtfully a scene from one of Morley's earlier, funnier plays, "Bloodbath at the Royal Court".'
'I don't see anything funny about that,' muttered Cassie, glaring at the chicken suit in front of her. If only it would burst into flames. She looked down thoughtfully at her gauntlet.
'You might want to get changed into your costume,' suggested Locke, not noticing the look she was giving the feathery attire. 'The role of a fool is one filled with tragic depth. It will require a masterful performance.'
'Yeah, whatever,' replied Cassie, walking off and getting changed. When she returned, she threw herself in the throne - as Locke told her to - and crossed her arms sulking a little. She hated chickens.
'What fresh insolence is this? Out of my throne, you impertinent buffoon!' demanded the ghost playing King Row Low. A king who liked his comforts if his stomach was anything to go by. 'Stand before your king and do your jester's duty! 'Tis a troublesome time for this court and my crown grows heavy. So make me laugh, or I shall have your head!'
Slowly, Cassie rose from the throne and walked towards the ghost king. She did not know any jokes, so she did the next best thing. Whenever she was in a bad mood or just plain old sulking, Logan use to come along and tickle her. It always put her in a good mood afterwards. She just hoped it would work on the king...and that he was ticklish. Turned out that the king was very ticklish.
'Oh stop, it's too funny!' laughed the king as Cassie pulled away. 'I believe I'm in the right mood now to meet with those foreign delegates. I think I shall only behead half of them. Yes...'
Sighing, Cassie turned away to get changed once more and as she did, her thoughts turned to Logan. Was it possible that in future years, Logan would turn out to be like that king, killing mercilessly?
No, thought Cassie. Logan would never be like him. She could not imagine her brother with a huge gut like the king...nor would he order someone to make him laugh.
Morley was there when she re-appeared and yet again, he was impressed.
'You handled my royal dramas as well as you handle my romances,' he said. 'But, will your versatility extend to the more subtle domains of theatre, I wonder.'
If it is something I can base an event of my life on then I'm sure I can, thought Cassie as the scene began to change once more.
When the scene came in focus, Cassie and Locke saw that they were standing in a clearing of some sort of dark forest. In the middle of the clearing was a man's mercenary outfit. Locke paled.
'Oh dear,' he said.
'What?' Cassie asked nervously.
'Unless I'm mistaken, this is a scene from Morley's notoriously violent historical epic, "Titus the Mutilator, Part II".' explained Locke. 'Which would mean this is the gladiatorial arena from Act V. where Titus is finally slaughtered by savage warriors seeking revenge.'
'Dare I ask how you know so much about these plays and acts?' Cassie asked.
'It was a favourite scene of mine as a child. I must admit,' admitted Locke. 'I even had some pyjamas that looked just like that,' he added, motioning to the mercenary costume. 'Put it on and you like take on the greatest role of your life.'
Cassie did as he said and waited for a ghost to appear. She did not have to wait long.
'Titus!' yelled the ghost. 'Thy pox-membered body shall pay for thy monstrous villainy. My son lies dead because of you. Now shall revenge be mine, cold as your corpse and all the more flavoursome for it.'
Next minute Cassie was hit from behind with a blunt sword, making her gasp. She whipped around and killed the ghost that had hit her.
'Do try to make your demise convincing,' she heard Locke yell out.
She nodded and allowed herself to be hit again, before she blocked and striked. Again and again she repeated the pattern in different ways, before she let herself fall to the ground, where she then laid still. She felt the main ghost come over to her. She could fell his gaze upon her.
'Titus has fallen!' he yelled triumphantly. 'Vengeance is mine at last! But what is yonder scar upon his cheek? No...it cannot be!' he said, his voice full of agony. 'He was my son! Oh woe and wretched misery! I am undone! My heart breaks with grief! It has beat its last. Adieu, unkind world. Adieu.'
Sensing that the play was finished, Cassie casually climbed to her feet and went to get changed. She was not surprised to see Morley when she re-emerged.
'A tremendous performance!' congratulated Locke. 'For a moment, I believed you truly had passed on. I wonder what scene will follow now.'
'Oh, what scene could possible follow such a masterful rendition of my work? You have brought such depth and meaning to my words, I stand in awe.' said Morley. 'You have earned the prize that no mortal has ever been honoured with before: my missing play. I entrust it to you. For I know, you will do it justice!'
'Thank,' said Cassie. 'What's the missing play called?'
'I call it, "The Ham Sandwich"!' said Morley, before adding, 'Metaphorical title of course,' due to the look she had just given him.
When Cassie and Locke emerged from the book, they headed out side to find Lambert and Pinch.
'Ah, you have retrieved out aged investigator!' said a joyful Lambert as they walked towards the two men. 'Happy day! Have you perchance found...?' he trailed off, looking at Cassie anxiously. She smiled and handed him "The Ham Sandwich".
'We're saved, Lambert!' exclaimed Pinch.
'Oh, the joy in my bosom knows no bounds!' said an equally excited Lambert. 'Thank you. A million times, thank you!'
'He said "bosom".' laughed Pinch. 'It's already working. Comedy and tragedy will at last join hands!'
'I look forward to seeing it,' said Cassie. 'When will it be?'
'A few weeks from today,' answered Pinch. 'People from all over Albion come to see our plays.'
'Then I'll see you in a few weeks,' replied Cassie. 'Lambert, Pinch, Locke...good day,' she said before walking off to help some person with his gnomes.
After helping Brian bring his gnomes to life and after rescuing a child from a wolf-infested cave, Cassie returned to Samuel who was waiting at the entrance of Brightwall. When she got there, Cassie got a massive surprise to see most of Brightwall's population standing there as well.
'Samuel, what's with all the people?' Cassie asked, stopping next to him, but Samuel only smiled at her and addressed the crowd.
'Esteemed citizens of Brightwall,' he begun. 'Today we demonstrate the generous nature of our fair town. For too long have, our mountain neighbours suffered in silence, and now we extend a helping hand. But this effort would not have been possible without the courage and determination of one woman. The daughter of the old Hero Queen,' said Samuel, motioning to Cassie. 'From this day, we shall know you as...The Hero of Brightwall!'
Cassie smiled at Samuel and the cheering crowd before bowing her head humbly, before turning back to Samuel.
'Before you leave, we ask of you one favour,' said Samuel. 'As we pledge ourselves to you, so we hope that you will pledge to return Brightwall to its former glory, and re-open the Academy which your mother founded.' Samuel held out his hand.
Cassie stepped forward and took his hand firmly.
'I will,' she promised, which brought more cheers from the gathered crowd and the cheers grew louder when two written promises - both the exact same - were brought forward and she signed them without hesitation. One was to remain with the people of Brightwall while the other was to remain with Cassie. She was sure that Jasper could find a place for it in the Sanctuary.
'Very good, very good,' said Samuel, once the promise had been sealed. 'I expected nothing less from you!' He then turned to the gate through which four men were walking through, each carrying a crate. 'These volunteers shall carry the supplies to the Dweller camp. They may have them with our blessing.' He turned back to Cassie. 'I hope you will return one day, not just as our Hero, but as our Queen.'
'You can be sure of that,' smiled Cassie. 'Have you seen Walter?' she added looking around for her friend.
'Ah yes. He said that he would meet you at the Dwellers camp,' replied Samuel.
'In that case, I better not keep him waiting. I'll accompany the volunteers and protect them from wolves and any other nasties.'
With that said and a quick good bye, Cassie quickly went and joined the volunteers delivering the food to the Dweller camp, and it was a good thing she did. The wolves were drawn to them due to the spell of food. Cassie shuddered to imagine what would have happened to them if she wasn't there.
As Cassie and the volunteers entered the Dweller camp, the Dwellers began to cheer and cry for joy as they realised what had happened. No longer would they starve, and all thanks to Logan's sister, the Princess. Cassie lead the crate carriers through the camp and over to where Sabine lived, which the crowd following them the entire way.
'Our Hero returns!' exclaimed a happy Sabine, when he caught sight of her. 'Bringing good tidings...and supper.'
'And the relic you asked me to acquire,' said Cassie, reluctantly handing over the music box. An item that her mother had sought to protect.
Sabine accepted it and began to try to open it.
'Damn thing doesn't open...How do you...? - Oh, well. I never thought you'd actually get it, tell you the truth,' shrugged Sabine, before handing it back to Cassie. He had seen the reluctant look on her face when she handed it over. Cassie was thrilled to have it back. 'We've been blessed, my friends,' Sabine told the crowd. 'We have made an alliance that has already brought us life. One day it will bring us much more. We require one more offering before we fight at your side,' he added to Cassie, who resisted the urge to groan.
'What is this offering?' asked Cassie.
'A promise.' Sabine said simply. 'Promise to restore these mountains to their full glory and to protect our right to dwell in them. And promise you will bring nothing but the fiercest justice upon Logan's head.'
Cassie hesitated and not over the first promise, but the latter. She did not know if she was able to hurt Logan, but then she remembered Elliot's death and she knew that she wanted revenge like Sabine.
Cassie looked Sabine straight in the eye and said firmly, in a voice that matched his own, 'I promise!'
'Then may we be carried into the castle by the dark storms of fury!' yelled Sabine, with a mad gleam in his eyes.
'You have to wait a little longer for that,' interrupted Walter, who had been standing next to him the entire time. 'It's still just us against a whole army. We need to recruit more people.
'I was afraid you'd come over all logical and sensible,' sighed a disappointed Sabine, before turning to Cassie. 'Well, you have brought us a feast and we are free to hunt again. We'll just keep on eating and drinking till you're good and ready. Right Boulder?'
Boulder gave a small grunt. Cassie was beginning to wonder if he could actually talk.
'He couldn't be happier,' said Sabine.
Just like in Brightwall, Cassie had to sign a written promise where both parties got a copy.
Next thing she knew, Cassie was summoned to the road to rule, as Theresa called it, and sure enough, there she was standing before another gate.
'You have made an important ally today,' began Theresa. 'The revolution cannot hope to succeed without fighters such as Sabine and his people in your side. You have the beginnings of an army now...'
When Cassie came back, Walter motioned for her to follow him.
'I couldn't be prouder of what you've accomplished here,' said Walter as they walked through the camp, 'but there is still much for us to do. And I know just where to find our next allies.'
'Dare I ask how you know these things?' laughed Cassie.
He winked at her.
'Did I ever tell you how glad I am that you are on my side? I doubt I would ever know where to begin to find allies. So, where are we going?'
'The station in Mispeak,' replied Walter as they left the camp.
'And then where?'
'Mourningwood? Isn't that the cemetery off Bowerstone that's become infested with hollow men?'
'Why are we going there then? The only things that live there are, well, the dead!'
'No, there is a small village there,' said Walter, 'of the living,' he added, catching sight of Cassie's face.
'Uh huh,' said an unconvinced Cassie. Why would anyone want to live there?
Written: 27 November 2011