|United Once More|
|Series||United Once More by Azaelia Silmarwen|
|Previous||United Once More: Chapter Two|
|Next||United Once More: Chapter Four|
|← United Once More: Chapter Two||Chapter Chronology||United Once More: Chapter Four →|
Richard, Sparrow and Logan left Richard’s house when the first rays of radiant light hit the earth. Each of them carrying a backpack and, in Richard’s case, numerous guns, including his Dragonstomper .48, and cutlass hidden on his body.
‘I never thought that I’d go on a quest again.’ said Sparrow conversationally as she stretched.
‘You really enjoy it, don’t you?’ asked Richard as Logan walked ahead of them. Richard got the impression that he was still half asleep.
‘How’d you guess,’ laughed Sparrow and was surprised when Richard actually answered.
‘You just have a certain glow about you when it comes to dangerous situation.’ shrugged Richard. ‘So tell me, is there someone special around for you?’
‘No, I’m single. There have only been two loves in my life and always will be.’ answered Sparrow and for some reason she was blushing. That actually surprised Richard. Since when did she blush?
‘Let me guess you had a boyfriend who dumped you, but you never got over him even when you married – er – whatever his name was.’ guessed Richard in a bored voice, making Sparrow laugh.
‘No. Alex was my first love.’ admitted Sparrow.
Logan glanced back at the mention of his father’s name.
‘Miss goody-Two-Shoes cheated on her husband?’ said a mocking, but shocked Richard.
‘I did not cheat on him, though I might have flirted with another man while we were dating.’ mumbled Sparrow. ‘Why are you so interested anyway?’ she suddenly demanded.
‘Just making polite conversation,’ shrugged Richard. ‘And just wondering why a good looking girl like you is single.’
‘I could also ask why a sexy guy like you is still single, but I know that it would have to be someone extra special for you to settle down.’
‘Good to see that you’re still a little minx.’ smirked Richard.
Sparrow only smiled and went to catch up with Logan.
-----UNITED ONCE MORE-----
The afternoon of the fourth day, the trio arrived in Bowerstone. Each night they stayed in a local motel and left at first light each morning. True they would have gotten there faster if they had caught a bus or cab, but Richard refused to get in one – he wouldn’t even use a train or a monorail – while Sparrow suffered from severe motion sickness and stated that she enjoyed walking. Logan, on the other hand, couldn’t care less, though he did have trouble keeping up with Richard and his mother. In the end, Richard surprisingly carried him, much to Logan’s embarrassment.
‘Let’s check into The Cock in the Crown and then go from there.’ suggested Sparrow leading the way over to the old tavern. ‘At least some buildings are still standing after all these years.’
Together the y weaved in and out of the crowd, Logan still on Richard’s shoulders.
‘Wow. Look how busy it is!’ said a surprised Sparrow. ‘Listen, why don’t you and Logan go and book us two rooms while I go and see where my old weapons are.’
‘Sure, leave us to said in the line,’ joked Richard, putting Logan down before walking inside, while Sparrow headed off to the Bowerstone Weapon Museum. It was the only one in Albion.
‘I hate being short,’ mumbled Logan as he quickly lent against Richard’s leg to avoid being knocked over by a couple of drinks.
‘You shouldn’t complain. Don’t most people wish that they could relive their childhoods?’ chuckled Richard.
‘Says the one that doesn’t have to go through puberty again.’ grumbled Logan.
Richard laughed and joined the long line of people at the counter.
Twenty minutes later, it was Richard and Logan’s turn to be served.
‘Sorry about the wait,’ apologised the girl at the counter. ‘How can I help you today?’
‘Could we please book two rooms for the night?’ asked Richard, going for his wallet.
‘That’s a hundred dollars, sir. Will you be paying cash or credit?’
‘Credit and I sign.’ said Richard, handing over his credit card. Sure beat carrying around heavy bags of gold all the time.
The girl took his card and inserted it in the EFTPOS machine on the counter. She first put in the amount, choose the relevant account and hit enter, before waiting impatiently for the receipt to come out.
‘Please sign down the bottom’ she said, handing Richard a black pen and the receipt.
As Richard scribbled down the bottom of the receipt, the girl removed his card and printed him a receipt. Richard then gave the pen and signed receipt back and the girl accepted it without checking the signature.
‘Rooms seven and six are available.’ said the girl, handing Richard back his card, receipt and two room keys. ‘You and your son have a good night.’ She added, before turning her attention to the woman behind them.
Richard shook his head at her last comment and followed Logan over to Sparrow, who had returned from the museum.
‘Did you find them?’ Richard asked her quietly.
‘Yes. Did you get us some rooms?’ asked Sparrow as they headed up the stairs.
‘Yes and Logan is now my son, apparently.’ said Richard.
‘In that case, Logan can share a room with you tonight and it won’t cause suspicion. Not that anyone will really notice, but just in case.’ said Sparrow, walking into room seven with Richard and Logan.
‘I seriously can’t believe that you are going to break in and rob the Weapon Museum.’ said Richard, sitting down on the edge of the bed. ‘Why don’t you just let me go and get it? I have a lot more experience with thieving and whatnot.’
‘And find out that you’ve shot all the night guards? Ha, not likely.’ said Sparrow. ‘Besides, I’ve had some experience breaking and entering.’ she added, thinking back to when she was helping the fraud Toby.
‘And here were your subjects thinking you could do no wrong.’ said Richard, shaking his head. ‘Just make sure you don’t get yourself caught.’
Sparrow did as Richard said and avoided being caught when she broke into the museum at two in the morning. She managed to avoid the motion detectors, grabbed her sword, rifle and pistol before making it out undetected.
-----UNITED ONCE MORE-----
The next morning, Richard, Sparrow and Logan ate a quick breakfast and left for the Bowerstone Airport with Sparrow and Richard’s weapons hidden on their body, though Logan and Richard didn’t know how Sparrow managed to conceal both a sword and rifle.
‘I just realised something.’ Richard gasped as they waited to go through customs.
‘And what’s that?’ asked Sparrow, tapping her foot impatiently.
‘Our weapons will set the alarms off.’ he whispered in her ear so no one could hear him.
‘Way ahead of you, old friend.’ said a still impatient Sparrow. ‘Where are yours anyway?’
‘Left leg, right hip, left arm and back. Why?’
‘You’ll see. Just go through and let me deal with the rest.’
Richard looked at her curiously but didn’t ask what she meant for the alarm had just gone off on the old guy who had just walked through customs.
Five minutes later it was their turn to go through. Logan went through first followed by Richard and then Sparrow. No alarms went off which confused Richard. He absently touched the gun at his right hip. It was still there.
‘How did you manage that?’ asked Richard, referring to the prevention of the alarms.
‘I only slowed time down and took them through before us and hid them.’ shrugged Sparrow. ‘I feel sorry for that old guy that I went passed with them. There was no way to get passed without setting them off.’
‘I hadn’t even realised that you had taken them.’ admitted Richard. He was starting to lose it.
‘I wondered why you didn’t seem to react to them missing.’ said a calm Sparrow as they boarded the plane.
The trip to Aurora annoyed Richard immensely. They had been unable to fly business class. Richard sat there, hands clenching and unclenching as kids ran up and down the plane screaming. Twice he snapped at the parents telling them to keep their brats under control while Logan complained to his mother about them giving him a headache. Sparrow would then say how Logan and Jonathan never behaved so atrociously and she would have given them a good smack if they did.
Four hours later, they were hopping off the plane at the Auroran airport with massive headaches. Once more Sparrow slowed down time to smuggle their weapons into the country and before they knew it they were outside the airport heading towards a motel.
-----UNITED ONCE MORE-----
‘I can’t believe we are in Aurora,’ exclaimed Logan as he stood on the balcony of their room.
They had decided, in order to avoid drawing any unnecessary attention to themselves, to pretend to be a family on vacation. Richard said that it would be easy enough to pull off since everyone was convinced that Logan was his son. He didn’t understand how people could think that he was a father when his dislike for children clearly showed on his face. Sparrow said it was because he didn’t look at Logan with dislike.
‘It’s changed so much! Just like Albion!’ continued Logan.
‘I think we should rest and then head out to Shadelight tomorrow morning.’ said Richard, not listening to a word that Logan said.
‘Good idea. We need to be prepared for the unexpected.’ agreed Sparrow. ‘Though we’ll need to find out what kind of protection is at the entrance of the Shifting Sands. To see whether it is normal for people to go there or if it has become too dangerous.’
‘Then there’s the matter of sneaking into Shadelight,’ added Richard. ‘Surely that has been all boarded up after Jonathan defeated the Crawler.’
‘No, it hasn’t.’ said Logan, his voice calm and quiet.
‘How on earth do you know that, Logan?’ asked a shocked Sparrow, turning to face Logan. A surprised Richard also turned to look at him. Logan turned away from the balcony and looked at them. Sparrow gave a small scream and hurried over to Logan while Richard gasped. Logan’s eyes had become silver.
‘Logan?’ asked a worried Sparrow.
‘Shadelight was boarded up after the celebrations of the Crawler’s defeat and it was forgotten, until three hundred years later. It was rediscovered by an explorer and since then it has become a popular tourist attraction to see its ancient ruins.’ said Logan, staring blankly in front of him. ‘The Shifting Sands no longer exists. Instead of a dangerous desert there are houses, shops and inns. Shadelight is open day and night to tourists.’
His eyes then closed and he swayed.
‘Logan!’ panicked Sparrow.
Logan’s eyes opened. They were brown once again and confused.
‘Mum? Is something wrong?’ asked a confused Logan, looking from his mother to Richard and back again. He couldn’t understand why they were looking at him strangely.
‘Logan, don’t you remember what you just said?’ asked Richard.
‘Yeah. I was saying how much Aurora had changed.’ answered Logan.
‘No. After that.’
‘I didn’t say anything else.’ replied a perplexed Logan.
‘Yes you did, sweet heart. You told us about Shadelight today.’ Sparrow said quietly. ‘Your eyes were silver!’
‘Really?’ said a shocked Logan.
‘I guess I’ll be taking me “wife” and “son” to a popular tourist attraction tomorrow morning then.’ said Richard. ‘But for now, let’s get some sleep. I’ll take the couch.’ he added. Usually he would love to sleep with a warm body next to him, whether naked or clothed – though he would prefer naked – but he didn’t think Sparrow would be comfortable with it.
Morning soon came and after a pleasant breakfast they set out for their “family trip”. Together they walked through the modern streets of Aurora and when they arrived where the Shifting Sands use to be both Logan and Richard both gasped. Instead of hot desert sand, there were paved streets, houses, shops and restaurants.
Amazed, they walked through the streets glancing at shop windows as they passed and Richard actually did a double take at the window of a souvenir shop.
‘Something catch your fancy?’ asked Sparrow, walking over to join him at the window with Logan as Richard said angrily, ‘I don’t believe it! I knew I should have burnt them instead of burying them!’
‘What are you on about?’ asked a bewildered Logan.
‘That book. It’s my autobiography, Reaver on Reaver.’ said an annoyed Richard. ‘And what’s worse is that they have made modern copies of it!’
‘Brightwall Academy has one too.’ said an unconcerned Logan.
‘Yes. I know about that.’ muttered Richard, still glaring at the book. ‘Jonathan made sure that it was locked behind glass so no one could read it as per our agreement. I can’t believe they found them.’ he added angrily.
‘Am I in it?’ Sparrow asked curiously.
‘What?’ asked a distracted Richard.
‘Am I mentioned in it?’ repeated Sparrow.
‘No.’ said Richard.
Sparrow looked at him closely before going into the shop.
‘Oi! Where are you going?’ demand Richard, but he received no answer. ‘Is your mother always like this?’ he asked a slightly amused Logan.
‘Pretty much. Once she’s got something in her head, it’s hard to talk her out of it.’ replied Logan. ‘You should have told her the truth.’ he added knowingly.
‘Hmm,’ grumbled Richard as he lent against the shop wall and crossed his arms.
Five minutes later, Sparrow exited the shop reading aloud from a copy of Reaver on Reaver;
‘…it was on this day I received an unusual visitor. An adventurer who had toddled in through Wraithmarsh, losing neither life, limb nor sanity on the way. This alone would have been sufficient to mark her as a unique individual, but her beauty and body was beyond that of you temperamental creatures. There I was thinking that I had quite a catch in my hands, but when I learnt that she had escaped from the demented grip of none other than Lord Lucien Fairfax. I knew it to be true. Who is this extraordinary adventurer you are probably wondering, my dear readers. Well, it was none other than the beautiful and brave Lionheart, current Queen of Albion…you know, I quite enjoyed what you wrote about our little quest together.’ concluded Sparrow as she closed the book. ‘I also can’t not believe that after seeing me fighting, you came to the conclusion that I would be lightning under the bed sheets.’
‘Argh! I did not want to hear that!’ said a slightly disgusted Logan.
‘And I still think it, my dear.’ said Richard, taking the book out of Sparrow’s hands.
Logan pulled a face and continued down the street. He didn’t want to hear Richard say that about his mother.
At twelve o’clock they arrived outside Shadelight.
‘look how many people there are!’ exclaimed Sparrow. ‘How are we supposed to find this legendary weapon with them around?’
‘Who knows? Maybe it’s on display somewhere.’ said Richard. ‘You can just do the same trick you did at the airport.’
‘It’s not on display.’ said Logan. ‘In my vision it wasn’t on display.’
‘Well, we’ll worry about it later. First, let’s get something to eat.’ said Richard, pulling out his wallet.
‘What? No, you can’t pay for us.’ said Sparrow.
‘It is no problem, Hero’s.’ said Richard. ‘Besides, it will be quicker if I order everything and we’re meant to be acting as we are a family. Don’t you think it will look a little weird if we order and pay separately?’
‘Fine. Just make sure to get a receipt so I know how much I need to reimburse you.’ said a stern Sparrow.
‘Uh huh,’ said Richard, who couldn’t care less if she paid him back or not. ‘So what do you want, Logan?’
‘Egg and tomato sandwich, please, with water.’ answered Logan a few moments later.
‘Two chicken, lettuce and mayonnaise sandwiches with a bottle of water.’ answered Sparrow. ‘What?’ she added, catching sight of Richard’s amazed face.
‘Nothing,’ he said, walking away to order their sandwiches and drinks.
Three minutes later he returned with Logan’s eye and tomato sandwich, two chicken, lettuce and mayonnaise sandwiches, one tuna and mayonnaise sandwich, and three bottles of water. He had no receipt.
‘Where’s the receipt?’ demanded Sparrow.
‘Don’t worry about paying me back.’ said Richard. ‘It’s only money.’
‘A pirate and thief saying it’s only money? Now that’s a laugh!’ snorted Sparrow.
‘I haven’t been a pirate since Albion’s Industrial Age.’ said Richard.
‘He became a “respectable” business man.’ added Logan, trying not to laugh.
‘Even so! A business man saying it’s only money.’ laughed Sparrow. ‘I guess you have changed a little bit.’
‘Just eat your sandwiches.’ said Richard, making Sparrow and Logan laugh.
-----UNITED ONCE MORE-----
‘I can’t believe that you just ate two sandwiches and you are still hungry!’ said a shocked Richard as they entered the well-lit Shadelight. ‘Don’t most girls eat a lettuce leaf and then they say that they are full to watch their weight?’
‘Not all girls are like that.’ said Sparrow, with a snort. ‘Besides, I need to eat a lot with all the energy I need for using my Will.’
‘But still, two sandwiches and your still hungry? You eat more than me!’
‘But I’m not vain like you.’ Sparrow said pointedly. ‘I don’t care what other people think of me.’
‘Says the person who managed to stay young after going to the Shadow Court for me.’ muttered Richard.
Sparrow glared at him before turning to the slightly frightened Logan who was standing closely between Sparrow and Richard. He never wanted to return to this place. Not after what happened all those years ago, which still haunted him in his nightmares.
‘You don’t have to do this, Logan.’ Sparrow said quietly, bending down in front of him. ‘No one will think any less of you.’
‘Except for me,’ muttered Logan. ‘No, I have to do this.’
‘Then lead the way.’ said Richard.
Logan nodded, took a deep breath and headed down a well-lit corridor, weaving in and out of people. The deeper they went into Shadelight, the thinner the crowd for and when they came to the end of the tourist area, there was no one around.
‘I wonder why they just ended it here.’ whispered Sparrow, looking at the do not enter sign on the black door before them.
‘It’s probably where the Crawler’s minions lie.’ muttered a cautious Richard.
‘If they are behind this door then why don’t they come out and attack?’ asked Sparrow.
‘Maybe they are gathering their forces. Getting ready to attack with the master of their master.’ said Richard, drawing his gun and opening the door. All he could see was darkness.
‘Here,’ said Sparrow, lightly throwing a small fireball out into the darkness. They saw nothing.
‘So far so good.’ muttered Richard, walking inside followed closely by Sparrow and Logan.
Richard quietly closed the door and Sparrow made a ball of fire appear in the palm of her hand to give them light.
‘It’s just as I remember it.’ breathed Logan as they passed a few skeletons. The skeletons of his men.
They continued on down the dark, despairing corridor making hardly any noise. Though they would not see anybody they knew that they were not alone. The recent corpses were enough proof for them. The corpses of tourists stupid enough to disobey the do not enter sign.
‘Which way, Logan?’ breathed Richard as they come to a fork twenty minutes later. He had never been this scared in his life, though he would never admit it. He was also secretly impressed with the kid’s bravery.
‘Left,’ Logan answered promptly as he looked nervously to the left.
Richard then led then down the left hand corridor, before jumping slightly as Logan grabbed the back of his shirt to stop him.
‘We turn right here,’ he whispered.
Richard and Sparrow exchanged a look. They were standing before a dark stone wall.
‘Have you been reading too much Harry Potter?’ asked Richard, knowing that it had something to do with a kid running through a brick wall.
‘What? No.’ chuckled Logan. He confidently stepped forward and pushed on a black stone which went into the wall. Richard and Sparrow soon discovered it to be the key to opening the hidden stone door in front of them.
‘Clever.’ Richard muttered reluctantly. Maybe he could do that at his house, instead of always using bookcases. Though knowing his luck, he would forget where the pressing stone was.
Together they walked into the secret tunnel and the moment they were inside, the tunnel entrance sealed shut trapping them inside with the only source of light coming from the ball of fire in Sparrow’s palm, but that didn’t stop the compressing of the darkness surrounding them.
‘Why do I get the feeling that we’ve just walked into a trap?’ asked Richard.
‘Because I think we just did.’ muttered Sparrow as they hesitantly walked forward. ‘Ever since we entered Shadelight I’ve had the feeling that we were being watched.’
‘Then let’s get this bloody weapon and get out of her.’ growled Richard.
The trio walked abnormally close together as the corridor began to darken with every step and with every step, fear and dread began to fill them, but Logan was the worse. He walked extremely close to his mother and jumped violently at the simplest of noises, and then, after walking for five minutes, a slight glow could be seen up ahead.
‘What is that?’ breathed Richard.
‘It’s where the weapons is.’ answered Logan, pulling his clothes closer to his body as he felt a cold chill.
‘Finally. I can’t wait to get out of here.’ muttered Sparrow, glancing nervously behind her.
Eager to leave the darkness, the trio subconsciously quickened their pace and became reckless. That was until Logan remembered the two guards hidden before the weapon and grabbed the back of Richard’s and his mother’s shirt yelling, ‘Watch out!’
Confused, Sparrow quickly sent a ring of fire outwards and saw two approaching dark sentinels.
‘Oh – my…’ gasped Sparrow, taking a step back, which was mirrored by Richard and Logan.
‘Come on, Hero. We’ve fought harder creatures than this.’ said Richard, drawing another gun, his eyes on both the dark approaching figures.
‘I haven’t fought anything like this before!’ exclaimed Sparrow.
‘Was Logan able to defeat all the Trolls in Albion and fight these creatures without being a Hero? Yes. Was Jonathan able to defeat them as a Hero? Yes. If they could do it, then so can you!’ Richard said fiercely. ‘You are a Hero and more powerful than both of them combined!’
Sparrow merely nodded and pulled herself together.
‘Logan, stay behind me.’ ordered Sparrow, drawing her swords and crouching into attack the advancing enemy.
‘Um, what about them?’ asked Logan, pointing to the advancing bird-like statues behind them. He wished he had a gun or sword to defend himself with. He felt too vulnerable.
Sparrow and Richard whipped around. Richard cursed under his breath.
‘I never thought I’d say this, but I actually wish that the barbarian Hammer and scholar was here.’ growled Richard as he shot one of the bird-like statues in the eye.
‘Hammer was not a barbarian!’ snapped Sparrow, sending flaming blades at one of the sentinels.
Together Richard and Sparrow tried to fight off the dark guardians and protect Logan at the same time. This was definitely the hardest thing they had ever done. Their victory against Lucien Fairfax was a joke compared to what they were doing now.
‘How on earth did Jonathan and Logan manage to survive these things?’ growled Sparrow, before blocking an attack with a battle cry.
‘A lot of luck and because we never had to face two sentinels and all those other guardians at the same time.’ answered Logan. ‘Plus John said that he use to summon creatures with a potion…’
‘That’s it! You’re a genius, Logan!’ exclaimed Sparrow.
‘Why is he a genius?’ asked Richard through clenched teeth, quickly drawing his cutlass to block an attack.
‘I’ll just have to do the same thing as Jonathan.’ said Sparrow, trying to get some room for what she was about to do. ‘I’ll summon some shadows to help. Some of the dead.’
‘Last time I looked all those potions were lost years ago.’ said Richard pointedly, shooting another guardian in the face.
‘But unlike Jonathan, I can actually call upon my Will to get help.’ said Sparrow, concentrating and then finally summoning some dead balverines to help them and it worked, until they disappeared leaving only the two sentinels left.
‘These ones aren’t like the ones John and I fought years ago.’ stated Logan. ‘That or they’ve gotten stronger.’
‘I’m guessing stronger.’ said Richard, trying to find their sensitive spots with his bullets. ‘Hero, can you summon more of those brutes?’
‘I’m not strong enough.’ replied Sparrow, jumping out of the way as one sentinel sent dark light at her. ‘Summoning the dead takes a lot of energy. Even Garth wouldn’t be able to resummon them.’
‘Then we’ll just have to – Hero, watch out!’ yelled Richard, but he was to late.
One of the guardians had summoned some shadow minions and they had snuck up on Sparrow and hit her painfully in the back. Sparrow let out a cry of pain and a guardian took advantage of the distraction. It grabbed her by the neck and threw her down the corridor where she hit the back wall hard and fell to the ground unmoving.
‘MUM!’ screamed Logan, but he couldn’t do anything except stand up against a wall with Richard, who was trying desperately to fight off the shadows and guardians. And then, the guardian on the right exploded in a mass of purple and black light, followed by its companion. The shadow minions disappeared with the destruction of their summoners.
‘What the -?’ began Richard, before looking passed the light and at the panting, but happy Sparrow, who was holding a beautiful sword in her hands. Its blade was sliver with light gold markings down it, while its handle was black with rubies in it.
‘I take it that this is the weapon we were looking for.’ Sparrow said to Logan.
Logan nodded, before hurrying over to his mother and embracing her. For one horrible moment he thought that he had lost her again.
‘At least we know it works.’ muttered Richard, looking down at the embracing woman and boy in front of him. ‘But I really think we should get out of here and into the light. I’m sure there’s more of those things in here and it won’t take them long to figure out that we have the weapon that can destroy their precious master.’
Richard was right when he said that it wouldn’t take them long, for the moment they opened the door to leave the secret passage, some more bird guardians were there waiting, but thankfully they were no match against the legendary sword Sparrow now wielded. An hour later, they were safely outside Shadelight, getting curious and suspicious looks as to why they were covered in blood, dirt and looked totally and utterly exhausted. Sparrow has somehow managed to hide the sword along with her other weapons.
‘I vote we head back to the hotel and sleep.’ said Richard as he led the way away from the staring people. ‘I think this might be the first time that I will be able to sleep without a chalice of wine or a warm body next to me.’
‘I could probably go to sleep right now.’ agreed Sparrow. ‘But it was worth it, wasn’t it? I mean, we’re all alive and we’ve got what we came for. Plus we saw that it is quite powerful…so we will be able to defeat this new enemy, won’t we?’
‘We’ll soon find out.’ muttered Richard, who was yearning for a bot bath and a soft warm bed.