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Saturday, June 16, 2012

When re-working book #2 this was the one chapter that got axed

Chapter 19 While Sara and Franklin were involved in their struggle with the Kreel, her friends were involved in a struggle of their own. Here is what happened to them after their escape from the Murky Depths. As soon as Alice transported the group out of that dark place, they found themselves in a large field. The area was completely dark, but the pale sliver of a moon was enough for Olie to identify the area as Milestone Fields. How Alice was able to get them to exactly the right place at the right time was a mystery to even her. She didn’t intend to move them there; in fact, she had never been there before. “Maybe it was a subconscious thing. I mean, I knew this is where we needed to be,” she said quietly, her voice barely above a whisper, after Olie told them where they were. “You couldn’t have done better if you tried,” Olie told her. “I can sense that we are the first ones here, and we need to have the element of surprise. Braccus knew we were on the move, but I’ll bet he didn’t expect that we would move so fast. No doubt, he expected that we were running from him, rather than coming to meet his servants.” The group rose from the ground where they landed, and moved in to a tight circle to plan their battle strategy. That was when they noticed that Sara and Franklin were not with them. “Where are they?” Thomas looked frantically about the field. “You moved us all together, didn’t you?” he asked Alice as he circled the area looking for any signs of the two missing members of the group. “I thought I did, but I didn’t really have a lot of time to figure it out. I just did what Sara told me to do. She sounded so scared, like she was sure something bad was about to happen. I just got us out of there,” Alice said with a catch in her voice. She, too, began to canvas the area, moving outward in a circle, searching the ground for any trace of Sara and Franklin. “Did we really have to leave the Murky Depths like that? Couldn’t we have just gone through the last trap and gotten out like we had planned? We could have made it. Why was Sara so insistent that we get out of there so quickly?” Finola asked as she walked around with Robert, trying to find the two children. “I believe she heard something or felt something that made her believe we were in danger. I think that the threat was very real. She has been the target of mental attacks lately, and when we were going through the Murky Depths those creatures seemed to head straight for her. Remember the snake, and the way the Drog spoke to her? He said that he was told to make her suffer most of all. I don’t know why she was singled out, but I do know that you are all changing. Your powers are growing stronger. Braccus is aware of you now. You are all a serious threat to him.” “We have got to find them,” James said as he came up behind Olie. “What if he has gotten to her? If he wants to make her suffer, he could be hurting her right now. Alice, where did you send them?” he said, turning to her. His face was tight and his lips clenched as he bit out the words. “I’m telling you, I don’t know!” Alice said, backing away from James, alarmed by his anger. He was so unlike the friendly, kind boy she had met just a few months ago. “James, calm down,” Olie said, placing a hand on the boy’s shoulder. “Try to contact her.” James took a calming breath and tried to connect with Sara using their usual mental connection. He had spoken with her many times over the past year, and each time they spoke, it got easier and easier. This time, however, when he reached out to her, there was nothing but a faint buzzing sound. Shaking his head in frustration, he looked to Thomas. “I can’t get through. All I hear is this annoying sound, like a fly in my ear. You try.” Thomas concentrated, but he, too, was unable to connect with Sara. It was as if something were blocking their mental pathway. His stomach churned painfully at the thought of Sara in the hands of the enemy. Franklin, too—he was just a little boy. They needed to find them and make sure they were alright. Olie could tell by the stricken look on Thomas’ face that he had not been able to reach Sara either. He was about to suggest that they spread their search out a little farther out in the field in hopes that Sara and Franklin had landed somewhere close, when he heard something that made him stop and raise his head. They were no longer alone. His super sensitive hearing had caught the sounds of a large group approaching the field at a rapid pace. Heavy footfalls and the clank of metal heralded the arrival of troops. They were obviously not expecting anyone to be here and made no attempt to sneak in quietly. Olie hushed his group with a raised hand. Simple, short instructions were passed among the team as they each moved to areas around the field indicated by Olie. Once in place, they stood anxiously awaiting instructions from him. They stayed fixed in place, rooted to the ground in terror as they contemplated what was about to happen. Alice stood next to Robert, shifting on her feet uneasily. The sound of the approaching army set her nerves on edge. Robert placed a hand on her shoulder, trying to give her some comfort. They stood to the side of the road that the Garren would use to enter the field. On the other side of the road, about a hundred yards from them, stood Rianna, James, and Finola. Rianna stood as still as a statue, her blond hair glowing in the moonlight. Finola stared at her for a few moments, totally transfixed by her peaceful aura, and wishing desperately that she could be that relaxed and confident. Her insides felt all twisted and her mind was in a state of total chaos. A thousand confusing thoughts filled her head, and not one of them gave her any idea of what to do when the enemy came down that road. James instinctively reached for his inner spirit, Argus, something he had done more and more often lately. What do I do now? he asked as he stood listening to the heavy footsteps approaching, his stomach churning. You use all of your strength and all of your will to drive them back. They cannot be allowed to gather together. The calm, soothing voice of his constant companion came flowing into his mind. What if we fail, Argus? If you fail, we are all doomed. You must prevent them from gathering together. Together they will be stronger. We have to drive the Garren back until the final group of three are found. There is no other way, it must be done. Thomas was a little further down the road, standing directly in the center of it with Olie at his side. Thomas tried to concentrate on his strategy for the upcoming battle, but his mind kept straying to Sara and Franklin and what might be happening with them right now. Was she hurt, was she afraid? Well, Franklin, too, of course, he must be terrified, poor little kid. But Sara was part of him, connected to him, and he couldn’t even reach out to her—he felt so helpless now, not for himself but for her. Olie looked at him and motioned sharply for him to focus on the road in front of them. Apparently he had been trying to communicate something to him but Thomas was not paying attention. That was when everything happened all at once. The Braccus army was visible now, having marched up the hill just fifty yards away. There were creatures in the front that none of the party had seen before. They were big and they were ugly. Black in color, they stood at least nine feet high with fat bloated heads that rested on muscle-bound bodies. Each massive being had four arms, two on each side of their bulky bodies, that swung awkwardly at their sides as they walked. Three sets of bright green eyes set in the middle of their foreheads were constantly scanning the area in front of them, and it would not be long before they settled on the group waiting for them just ahead. As soon as the foul beasts became visible, it was like a switch went off in Finola’s head and she reacted immediately, as if by instinct. Throwing her arms up, she quickly changed the landscape around the path. Huge trees sprung up on each side of it, and roots twisted out of the ground and curled around the feet of the front line of the advancing army. The massive beings fell to the ground with such force that the ground shook. They let out ear-piercing squeals like injured pigs as their beefy limbs hit the hard ground. The hard, spiky roots continued to pull at the creatures on the ground, quickly covering them and pulling them under. While Finola was occupied with dispatching the first line of beasts, Rianna directed her attention to the second advancing line, whose hard, rubbery skin started to bubble and blister as it boiled from the inside out. The foul beings fell to their knees in agony, grasping at their skin in pain. More shrieks filled the air, and the enemy stumbled around in a state of confusion as James controlled their minds. The ugly creatures fell upon each other, clawing and punching at the faces of their allies. Like a pack of wild dogs, they fought to kill each other. James sent directions to them to destroy themselves. Each of them was convinced that he was fighting his deadliest enemy and had to fight for his own life, so they fought ruthlessly. Alice added to the attack by moving the creatures around the field, and then turning invisible so that she could use their own weapons against them. The beast would find himself moved from one spot to another and then she would slip in beside it and use the small, sharp blades they carried at their sides to stab at their legs. She narrowly missed being stomped to death several times by ungainly beasts ducking beneath their legs and scampering out of the way. Olie and Thomas stood in the center of the path watching the ugly monsters break their formation and stumble about in total disarray. “This is a good start,” Thomas said as they looked at the scene enfolding before them. So far, the element of surprise was working for them. “Never underestimate the enemy,” Olie said sharply, bringing Thomas’ attention to the large number of creatures still coming in to the field. “Those are the Ornose—they are personal scouts for Braccus, and they only go where he wills them. We are not fighting just a group of Garren; the Ornose are fierce fighters and will find a way to recover from this attack very shortly. Braccus has turned his attention to this place; he knows we are here.” Thomas watched the advancing group of fighters and, as predicted, they began to resist the attacks of Olie’s group. Rallying themselves, they rose from the ground, ripping the roots from the ground as the large beings burst through the dirt and rose to the surface again. Bloodied and bruised, they stopped hammering at each other as they shook off James’ mind control. Alice was flung toward the trees as one large brute swatted her with a beefy fist. Rianna called the children to her, and stepping in front of them, she urged them back toward the group of trees where Alice had landed. Olie called out to the sky and a large group of Artregeans appeared. Swooping down to aid in the fight, they forced the Ornose back a few feet. The Ornose covered their eyes, as if the very sight of the Artregeans caused them pain. Thomas saw a group of Garren march into view directly behind the troops of Ornose. Not bothering to look up at the Artregeans, they began to march directly toward Rianna and the children. Thomas concentrated on the ground beneath their feet, causing several large cracks to form in the earth. The Garren stumbled, but regained their balance and continued on to the group, bent on reaching them as fast as possible. He then directed every loose item he could find on the ground to throw at them. Stones and limbs hit their targets with satisfying crunches as they broke bones and caused the Garren to fall to the ground. Some of the evil things fell into the cracks and Thomas instructed the dirt to close over them. Finola helped out by growing thorny bushes over the areas where they went in. Robert turned himself into a large hawk and rose into the sky to swoop down and tear at the faces of the Garren. Pulling at their black oily hair, he pecked furiously at their hands as they tried to catch a hold of the bird. But he managed to avoid their grasping hands and continue his assault. Ten of the Ornose separated from the others and turned to walk straight for the spot where Thomas and Olie were standing. They were holding barbed clubs, which they swung in a wide arc in front of them. Thomas looked thoughtfully at the clubs and he directed them to swing backward into the faces of the three Ornose at the front of the line. The clubs arced up and slammed into the faces of the thick-headed creatures, effectively blinding them as they made contact with their eyes. They stumbled about, groping around in the air at the now unseen enemy. The small group fought bravely against the advancing hordes. Though they were not able to regain the ground they had lost when they were driven back toward the woods, they were able to hold the place they now occupied. Ornose and Garren alike fell back as Olie and his friends used all their powers to fend them off. The Artregeans were able to dispatch a large section of the advancing line of the enemy, reducing them to puddles of flesh where they stood. A particularly horrible Ornose broke through an invisible shield Alice had put up in front of Rianna and swung its club at her. She was able to fend him off well enough at first, but the children could tell she was getting tired by the way she swayed on her feet. The Ornose, sensing her weariness, swung at her again, and made contact with her shoulder. With a cry of despair, the children watched as she fell to the ground. Rianna sensed a sudden movement in front of her and tensed up, expecting a death-blow from the creature. Then something amazing happened. The Ornose was violently thrown back into the field, as if some unseen force had knocked it away from her. She raised her head up and smiled brilliantly as she felt the spirit hovering above her. It was Sara—she was here with her and she was talking to her, offering help. She allowed the girl’s spirit to enter with hers and together, they created a light so brilliant that the enemy was forced back. Using the power to clear her way to Olie, she motioned for the children to follow her. She found him surrounded by a group of Garren. They also fell back from the brightness of her form. Olie sensed Sara’s presence as soon as Rianna approached him. He sensed something else also. Sara was nearby and she was in danger. He knew that she had used the path she discovered in the Everywhen to reach Rianna. He also knew that this had left her vulnerable to attack while her body was empty. Someone else was aware that she was nearby and there was a group of Kreel headed for the woods. Fearful for her, he sent a message for her to return to her body. He knew the minute she had gone, and he prayed he was not too late in his warning. Olie and the others were able to make some ground now, pushing back the enemy a few yards at a time. They increased their attack on the enemy and their spirits rose measurably. There was a rustling in the bushes to the right of the road, and a large number of spiders of all sizes scrambled through to launch themselves onto the backs of a group of advancing Garren. Once there, they began to munch happily on their flesh, effectively taking them down to the ground and out of the fight. This brought both cheers and groans from Alice, James, and Finola, who were very glad for the help but grossed out nonetheless. Thomas was using a large tree to push back a group of Garren, when he received a call from Sara. He was so happy and so distracted, he almost dropped the tree. She was alive. He was trying to tell her that the battle was going well and he hoped to see her soon, when everything suddenly changed. As the Garren and the Ornose backed away from the small group of heroes, a small form suddenly came in to view at the edge of the field. The form soon became visible; it was a child of approximately twelve years of age. Slim, with delicate features, the boy had curly black hair that fell artfully across his forehead. He had beautiful classic features with high cheekbones and soft bow-shaped lips. He moved across the field with an arrogant swagger that seemed to be justified as the large beasts shrank away from him. The Ornose with the injured eyes crawled away as if they sensed his presence, their fear evident in the speed they employed in removing themselves from the area. As he moved toward Olie and the others, a smile of pure joy crossed his face. He raised his arms as he walked closer and closer to the group fighting furiously to drive the enemy back. A black cloud began to form around him and turned into an inky black mist that drifted toward Olie’s group. The small band of fighters had drawn together in a tight circle with five Artregeans hovering in the sky above them. Olie called out to the others to stay close to him as he hastily threw up a shield of protection between his people and the expanding black mist. As he did so, there was a loud whooshing sound like air forced out of a plastic bag. The mist covered the sky like a black blanket. Some of the Artregeans that fought still, fell from the sky like lead weights, hitting the ground and disappearing before the Garren could reach them. Olie, Rianna, and the others hunkered down beneath the thin shield, creating the only bright spot in the otherwise total darkness that covered the land. “Braccus,” Olie said, looking at his fellow fighters as they watched the young boy’s approach with a mixture of shock and horror. He was the only other object visible in the darkness. He had a strange red glow about his body, a vaporous cloud that wavered as he moved. He walked right up to the barrier and reached out to touch the transparent energy separating Olie’s group from the nightmare on the field. His finger sparked as he did so and the tip of his finger disappeared. This caused Braccus to frown for a moment, and he raised his head to look directly into Olie’s eyes. “Only a matter of time,” the boy said softly, the eerily serene smile returning to his lips. Then he raised his head and seemed to be listening to something. “Oh, she is here.” His face broke into a broad grin now. “Knew she was close, but not this close. My, this is delightful!” Turning from the trapped heroes, he looked toward an area directly behind him. “Come out, come out wherever you are!” he called with a little giggle. That giggle set Thomas’ teeth on edge, and his stomach churned with fear. He knew that evil creature was calling to Sara. He tried desperately to reach out to her, but was unable to get through. She was walking straight into the path of pure evil.

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