But if I could only find a way to assassinate Samuel first, I think to myself, it need never come to a fight.
I must have said that thought aloud (or else it showed enough on my face for it to be read) that Cuthbert and the other Champions nod and agree with me.
"But even with that," Cuthbert sighs, "I fear that killing Samuel won't be just the end of our mission...."
"Tell me about it!" I mutter darkly, then brighten a little bit, "But then again ridding the world of Samuel would dispose of the more immediate threat to Rebecca, and thus the rest of my homeworld!
"Still," I finish up and sigh, "I would just love to know all the dangers we shall face so at least we know how to perhaps prepare and..... I wish we could...."
"'And if wishes were horses we'd ride out of here.'" Cuthbert mugged, quoting one of his favorite sayings. A saying that had a rather new and interesting twist to it, all considered.
I look around at the newest members of the forces that make up the New Amazons. Two hundred twenty volunteers total, bringing the total of the armed forces up to around two hundred forty and some odd change (more if you counted us in it). Not much compared to the army that Samuel was bringing down this way, but then again what they all HOPED to do wasn't calling for a more substantial force.
Twenty New Amazons riding the newly made centaurs (a mix of male and female), the hope was to pick at the forces at the rear and sides as the mad centaurs tour up the troops who'd travel down the road. Insanity, you see, only increased a centaur's sense of territory and a LARGE force of "outsiders" would bring deadly reprisals until either: 1) the outsiders retreated out of the territory , 2) the outsiders were all destroyed, or 3) all the mad centaurs (to a person) died. In the minds of the mad, there was no middle ground, alas, and the Champions (I myself now one) knew this.
Speaking of centaurs (but not mad ones), I still must shake my head now at how. . . . assimilated the former humans have become to their new lot in life. Aside from an occasional shake of the head as a centaur reflects on how things have changed, you'd almost believe that they'd always been thus. Been born centaurs, I mean.
Indeed, as the days grew on I noted that even the Barron....er....Barroness' sense of humor had grown rather more and more....earthy. Something that, I am told, is typical of centaurs of Terra Prime (notable exception being the centauress sister of my lovely Joan). Point in fact, so assimilated into being a female centaur has she become that in private she raved about.....
Look. I do hope that you don't think less of me for being frank, but back when I first met the Barron when she was a human man.....we had sometimes bragged (as men of my nation do) about certain......things and the number of.....
Uh, mind you I was.
Hell, I will be blunt. I lied! Okay, I lied about the numbers and acts with him! It's what MEN of my nation DO! It was expected and accepted, after all. And I fear that might have been a symptom of the current....situation about why the New Amazon's came about. Not something I am proud of NOW, in retrospect, that bragging (and the lying). Was young and foolish and learned to not be so.....crass later on in love and life.
Still in that frame of mind, she spoke in glowing terms about how....wonderful it had been for her on the....recieving end. She NEVER wants to go back, not just because of that but....."that" thing was a certain "fringe benefit" as Jarlath might say....
Might explain why I noted she looks a little heavier....if I'm any judge of horseflesh. Don't know if she's noticed or not, and I don't feel comfortable with bringing it up. God, I just don't know if I can take how she'll react. Already, have heard the joy and dreamy looks in some of what had been the more "macho" guards of the castle, about looking forward to the coming of "the little ones" they had...now.
I shake my head, getting it back to reality...and out of that strange place I'd gone for a minute!
"So," I begin, changing the subject to something a bit different (but not much so), "At most we've got to keep Rebecca safe . . . . perhaps even with Samuel gone?"
Samuel, we all agreed, was the biggest threat to her. He would never accept the free spirit that Rebecca had, you see. Samuel wanted a submissive wife and Rebecca (this one we were protecting or the real one I had known) was not and never would be that. Samuel would, eventually, get so enraged that he'd kill her for that. Of that, I am sure. It's almost a given that Samuel will do her in, now that Rebecca's been associating with the New Amazons. Oh, perhaps it will be secretive, this slaying....but it will happen. That's the kind of man Samuel is, you see. I know, you see. He's poisoned....my father. . . .so he could further his own goals and political agenda.
Mind you, I loved my father but . . . . we had a falling out over the New Amazons and other things even before. I want to go out right now and save him.....but even if I could cure the poison I fear my father is already.....lost to me. In fact, to him (he said privately) that he was already dead to me.
Not something he had announce publicly or such, but he'd basically (unofficially) disowned me. If it had been public it would cause too much political turmoil and such, but....
God, it hurts.....
I gather myself and keep those feelings from showing, but Joan and the others see right through me and draw nearer, to give comfort.
I cough a bit, saying I'm alright and nothing is amiss. They seem to know better but at least give me "breathing room" right now. Must maintain appearances for the troops and such. Maintain appearances that I'm still a Prince and such and won't be faking my own death or such.
Won't be going away forevermore to a new world to be with my new love, Joan.
Will miss home but.....Terra Prime......such a draw to her. Has a mad grandeur, almost. Not like that other Champion Homebase called Rifts Earth. Rifts Earth, a place of constant....chaos, almost.
Morganna and Rugen, those Elder Champions and their Clan of elves.....rather enjoy the challenge, I hear....
You know, having seen that one picture of them posing back in "Chi- Town" in that surplus super armour they favor as a uniform of sorts..... Well, that modified version made especially for Morganna's tastes seem to beckon towards to some of that new style "fetish wear" I have seen in the "red light" areas of town....
Author's Note: Here is that rather racey picture of what Aaron's talking about (picture by David Falch):
http://www .geocities.com /terraprimedatabase /twoelves.jpg
Ah, but back to business!
"Yes," Joan finally says, answering my question, "A month at most."
Funny that I haven't discussed the full details of my mission with the others....but things being the way they'd been I'd been busy. Not much of an excuse but 'tis what happened.
"So how will we know when the period has expired?" I ask quietly, "I....er...."
"Been too chaotic for you to ask until now," Cuthbert sighed, understanding. and answering, "Well, here is how it will work. Without warning we and Rebecca will appear back on Terra Prime, right at the moment we Champions had left...."
"That is how it will work?" I say, blinking, "How about Rebecca? Worries me, you see. Indeed it does. If we haven't warned Rebecca beforehand, then she's in for a big surprise. But....."
One must admit that her disappearing does solve a lot of sticky problems she would cause my sister if she was left behind! Those opposed to an "outsider" like Illura, despite her being a legitimate heir to the throne, would try to install Rebecca to the seat instead!
Not to say that they not try to oppose her as an outsider even without Rebecca around!
If only if my friend, the rightful ruler of Daria was still around and alive, I know things would be better when Samuel was gone! But why would that fiend keep the rightful ruler alive (but maybe hidden away somewhere in a dank and dark cell)?
Had the oddest.....feeling just then.....
No, not now.
We have a battle to fight, you see.
From our spot (hidden from those below but not hiding them from us....what joy), we see that Samuel's forces have just drawn the mad centaur's attention! Can see the spot (tiny as it appears from here) where I feel that Samuel is riding! Leading from the real, of course. Might not be the bravest of positions, but intelligent.
God, what I'd give for one of those "high powered rifles" I saw Inquirer show me after a bit when we first met! Fine weaponry.... But too high tech to have been brought here....too disruptive.....we'd thought at the time!
Given what chaos the Chaos Energy has unleashed so far that looks to be rather silly NOW, but then again the Rules and Agents had been firm!
Had only allowed Cuthbert his revolvers because of the attachment a gunslinger has to those signature weapons....
Right now, our small group here is just a harrying party, to sting the enemy a few times before the real attack on the begins after Samuel's party gets chewed up in detail going through the mad centaurs land!!
Oh, don't look at me like that! I and the others are just staying behind to help direct things and throw a few spells at the enemy to confuse them! Not like we're going to go into battle and risk Rebecca, for Christ's sake!
Would be utter madness. We did say we'd engage the enemy after they'd been whittled down a bit, but I know that the centaurs and a few New Amazons wanted to get in a few before then....
So why not? A few arrows and javelins from the dark to add to the confusion, using the new tatics that Astra taught them ("hit and run").
That's the plan, anyway.
Now, we need to get to our next position as planned so the other volunteers can proceed with their "stinging" operation... And, of course, as we race to mount up on our volunteer centaur steeds, Chaos energy decides to pay an untimely and unwelcome visit! I swear aloud, words a slow thing, as I feel it happen. The very air seems to turn into a thick syrup around us all for what turns out (for us) five seconds
World slows down outside a certain spot near Samuel's position, and all Hell seems to break loose. It comes...
12/21/2002 8:08:48 PM
The Never Ending Quest Home
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