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Old 07-24-2006, 05:48 PM   #172
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OK I was bored so here is another chapter for your viewing entertainment. Hope you guys like it because the ending had me pulling out my hair for this chapter and now it's shorter.

Chapter 10: Reclaiming
We had tough times but after that ambush on the last raiding party, we had enough information about the guards and their routines to free Xao Lin. The day we had chosen was one of their ‘demonstration’ days. Some of the handmaidens were to enter as spectators and position themselves along the city walls. Carth had managed to sneak back in with Caelos to rally the resistance, something that I was in two minds of but I saw no other way. T3 was to remain in the back unless called for along with HK.

On that day I entered the city as one of the many peasants required to attend. I admit that my appearance underneath the cloak would have gotten me killed on sight but I made sure that all the guard at the gate got was a whiff. I disliked the smell myself but draigon dung can be very effective at least in not getting noticed. I made it through the gate with little problems though I was afraid I would have to use the Force to persuade them at first. Once inside, I met up with Serena who handed me a small bundle, which I hid under my cloak. Before I left she muttered, “Nice smell.”

I said nothing but hurried to my spot just before the call was made to bring out the prisoners. I saw Kiara take her place within the square to cut them loose. Originally it was to be me but she was persistent, a bad habit if you ask me. She told me that my aim was dangerous and that I would be a good cover from the walls and that wasn’t referring to blaster fire. My watchful eyes were scouring the walls and the surroundings noting where my men were positioning themselves.

The call sounded and the crowd below me began to murmur. Some people were throwing old vegetables, not because they wanted to but because they were forced to. I could sense the reluctance and it invaded my senses. I could see that they felt hopeless even with the knowledge that the resistance was nearby. I brushed it aside as I watched as the prisoners were being forced to the platform. It looked like a hanging platform but it was going to be an off with their head platform. I repressed a wave of nausea as I pulled out a long wooden stick from within the staff I was carrying. I was not expecting what happened next.

For some reason, Kiara had been found out. By whom, I didn’t know but a loud ruckus was being sounded as I was prepping my first shot. I looked and saw Kiara being dragged by two burly Rashikians to the viewing platform. My attention was diverted to the viewing platform where the main person, the one in charge was none other than Lorien. I was slightly shocked when I saw him and I wondered if our plan was blown. I was thinking about this as I honed my senses to try and hear clearly what Lorien was saying.

Kiara was struggling until the whole crowd became silent when Lorien held up his hand. He then spoke, “Who is this?”

One of the burly Rashikians replied, “A handmaiden. The one we’ve been looking for.”

“Oh, the last of the royal family. Where have you been little one?” he asked and smiled rather menacingly.

“None of you damn business!” she responded hotly.

“Careful. That temper of yours will get you nothing but the short end of a blade.”

“I’d rather die just make my people free of you, you traitor.” She had gritted her teeth when she said that.

“Too bad that will never happen since your precious champion is dead. Bring her up here.” Then turning to the executioner he said, “Prepare the prisoners.”

I was torn. Part of me wanted to abandon my job to rescue her but the other part, a more authoritative part, told me that I couldn’t rescue her unless I gave the word to attack. I decided to change my position and I moved to an area with a clear view. I saw that Kiara was up there with Lorien and I could sense that she didn’t like it. I wrenched my mind away from that view to the one at the executioner’s platform. The drums were announcing that the blade was getting ready for the ‘demonstration.’ I took aim and as the blade came down, I released.

A collective gasp came from the crowd as my arrow knocked the blade out of the Rashikian’s hand. All eyes turned towards me as I stood holding my bow. I was looking right at Lorien who looked at me with contempt. He didn’t see Kiara struggle out of the enemy’s grip as I shouted, “NOW!”

A huge explosion sounded along the western wall of the city and thousands of soldiers and handmaidens appeared out of the crowd with their weapons drawn. They immediately began to attack the Rashikians. The people of Xao Lin reacted by attacking with whatever they could get their hands on. I shot arrows wherever I could to help. I was so busy that I didn’t notice a Rashikian coming up from behind until Kiara screamed as she was being pulled inside the palace, “Kirabaros!”

I turned and shot with the arrow I had. It landed right between the Rashikian’s eyes. I had turned just in time to see Lorien drag Kiara inside the palace. I dropped my bow and ran towards the palace. When I got to the palace wall, I loaded a small ascension gun and aimed it over the wall. It pulled me up and over the wall. I landed on my feet and continued to run into the palace.

The palace was a maze of passageways that could get someone lost. I called to T3 and told him to open the main gate through the comlink. I pause to let the Force guide me to the tallest of the towers where I was met with a barrage of armed Rashikians. I drew my katana and brandished it with a ferocity that would rival that of the Blood King, if I were fighting him. My only thought was to make sure that Kiara made it out alive. I didn’t tell anyone but I foresaw that she was to lead a long line of governors that would keep order for centuries. Strange what one sees at the strangest of times.

Plummeting through the Rashikians brought me to a solid door. I drew my lightsaber and thrust it through the bulkhead door. Using the Force, I concentrated on directing the energy to a single spot as I twisted the handle of the blade. I was distracted by two more Rashikians and the slamming of the blast door on the bulkheads. I withdrew my saber and took out the Rashikians. I was met up with Carth and T3, whom both managed to make it through the palace. I motioned for T3 to try and override the access codes and went to try to find another way in.

The battle below was fierce but it was hard to tell from where I was standing. I had managed to find my way to the roof, after fighting more Rashikians. I glanced over the edge and noted the people fighting. I gave a smile as my attention was diverted to one of the many banners still left hanging from the palace roof. I pulled two of them up and tied them together. My plan was to swing down and through the window of the tower. It was rather clichéd but there was no other way in.

I glanced one more time in the direction of the battle below. I located the window, took a deep breath and jumped. It was nothing like when I got pushed over the cliff. In fact my mind was far from that incident as I fell, hanging onto my makeshift rope. I crashed through the window and slid on the floor right in front of a struggling Kiara and Lorien. They had stopped when I crashed through the window and landed.

I slowly got up while watching Lorien warily. He gave me the same look as he shoved Kiara hard into the wall. He looked worse for wear than the last time I had seen him. His hand had been replaced by a mechanical one and his face bore many scars from the last battle he had fought in against Revan. Dressed in black, he made an imposing figure. He gave this impression as he spoke to me, “Do you mind? You’ve interrupted the most important thing, the end of the royal family of Belos.”

I just stood there. I then replied, “That is something that I cannot allow you to do.”

“Yes I can when I’m finished with you. And you are?”

“Kirabaros,” I replied and drew my lightsaber.

“Well, well, well. The great Kirabaros has returned. I thought for sure you were dead,” and he drew his lightsaber. It was not the purple I thought I saw the last time but a bronze one. It was the one that I lost. He continued, “Recognize this? It once belonged to you. Appropriate in my mind that I now use it to end your life as my master did to you the last time.”

“I’ll never fear the blade that I had built,” I replied and I flourished my blade.

“Really?” and with a quick move he slashed at me and nicked my left arm.

My reaction was that of a back step. It had hurt but my adrenaline was pumping and I easily brushed it aside. He then took a quick swing and I countered and fought back. It was hard work trying to work around the stone statues within the room. Kiara was trying to find a weapon to get in the fight but more often she was pushed aside by our collisions. My concentration was on Lorien. As much as I wanted to kill him, I couldn’t because I still remembered that he was Lord Trystan’s son and he was Lady Mara’s love.

At one point I had backed Lorien into a corner without his lightsaber. I had him at my mercy and he knew it. He began taunting me about it saying, “Go on. You know you want to kill me. Give in to your anger.”

I was beginning to have a hard time breathing. I was feeling so conflicted within myself that it was suffocating. Part of me was so angry with Tvark, the war, myself and everything around me that I wanted to kill everything. The other part of me wanted to try to save what little left there was of Eómeros. I took a gasping breath and replied, “It doesn’t have to be this way.”

“Strike me down with all of your hatred and your journey towards facing my master will be near complete.”

I closed my eyes and opened them. “Eómeros you don’t have to do this. There is still good in you.”

“That name no longer has any meaning for me.”

“It is the name of your true self. There is still good in you. Remember Mara?”

“You pitiful fool,” and he summoned his lightsaber and brushed mine aside. “You think that by bringing up memories would change anything?” He then used the Force to send me into the wall. I still had a grip on my lightsaber when I landed but it hurt bloody hell.

I slowly stood up and began to circle him. “No one is unworthy of redemption.”

“A fool’s words.” He then swung hard and I countered. “You know that woman that fought me last time was a more worthy opponent. Maybe she would turn instead of you.”

That nearly undid me. I kept my head and channeled the light side of the Force. I concentrated on my love of my family and friends. I felt a renewed strength as I swung my lightsaber. We went at it with a blinding speed, his governed by passion, mine, well, I couldn’t tell but it was a surging need to protect my family and friends. I managed to knock him down eventually and I ended up chopping off the hand I had cut off before. He fell with a groan of pain and I stood over him. I became dimly aware of what I had done and my breathing felt constricted.

Lorien held up his hand in surrender. I think he knew that he was defeated and I had him at my mercy. He said, “Just kill me.”

I deactivated my lightsaber and dropped in on the ground. I replied, “No. I know you can be saved.”

“Fool. Don’t you see that as long as I live my master will live?”

“Impossible. He has no control over you. Come back to the light and sever your ties to him.”

“I…I can’t.” His breathing was rather labored.

I was exhausted myself and Kiara was just frozen where she stood. I said, “Yes you can. You once told me that the difference between a friend and an enemy is that a friend will stand by you no matter what and that friend will always be there to catch you when you fall. Well I am here now to catch you.” I opened my arms to show that I was unarmed and not going to do anything. I whispered in his tribal dialect, “She still loves you.”

What seemed like an hour or so he said, “He is waiting for you at the ancient planet of Amshrey.” I kneeled close to listen. “He cannot be defeated unless…unless you…release the thing he fears the most.” He then fell silent. I reached out with the Force to ease his suffering. I ended up feeling slightly lousy. In trying to reclaim a city and a planet I helped reclaim a friend, but at what price? Harder to answer in a time of war.

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