Fan fiction:Bane Hero of the North/Chapter 14
Bane Hero of the North is a fan fiction piece by Bane, originally posted on The Dark Library. The fiction series was recovered on April 14th 2010. You can find more information on Bane:Hero of the North article.
Chapter 14: The Gate(Part V)[edit source]
Survival. That was all Bane could think about right now. He looked back down from where he had run, his eyesight adjusting to the dark easily. From where he hid, deep in the thick outlying bush of the Kanton Woods he could see figures rushing about madly. He recognised most of them who were rushing in his direction.
Bane had run fast, more so than the others, his larger strides taking him further away each and every heartbeat. Balkin, Chiana, Oxan, Kez, Jesper and the other three Bane did not know were tired, he could see that. Perhaps it was the fighting they had participated back in the town, they had engaged more enemies than Bane had.
It didn’t matter; all that mattered was they were all alive, if a little bruised and battered and that survival was still possible.
“Here!” he cried as they neared him, pushing to the front of the foliage so that his friends could see him. They did not respond with words, they rushed through the undergrowth, into the cover of the trees noisily causing Bane to curse. They would have to push deep into the woods if they were to hide, as the trail they would leave would be easily traced.
The group huddled together briefly, catching their breath as the fighting and running took its toll. Balkin placed his hands on his knees and huffed, his face red. Bane was the only man standing not red in the face. Oxan laughed out loud as it began to rain lightly.
“A pleasant drop of rain to cool us down lads!” Bane held out his hand and felt the occasional drop of rain on his hand, those lucky drops that made it through the cover of leaves and branch.
“We will have to keep moving, in the forest a man can be easily traced and found.” Bane said, shaking his wet hair back and wiping blood from his sword. Oxan stepped forward and placed his hand on Bane’s shoulder.
“I know a place here where we will be safe for a while, it’s not too far from here.” A look of relief passed through the group.
“Lets get moving then!” Exclaimed Balkin, stomping off, axe in hand.
“Not so fast short one, it’s this way!” With that Oxan began a slow pace, followed by Bane and the rest of the companions.
- - -
It was good to be out of the rain thought Bane as he leaned back, cross-legged on against the earth wall. He peered around at the group huddled in the small hole and could see that everyone was glad. Oxan stooped low beside a chest of draws and a sleeping mat.
“Looks like you have been here many times.” Bane spoke looking around the simple ‘safe-house’. Oxan turned around and stalked back over to the entrance, checking to see if the hole cover was indeed covered correctly. His hands adjusted the foliage accordingly, a smile passed briefly across his worn face as he gave it a nod.
“I have used this place since before the troubles with the shadows began. Many times during and after a hunt I have come here to eat the food and rest.”
“Why the chest of draws?” Bane asked with a smile. Oxan shrugged his shoulders.
“They are almost empty, but they hold various equipment needed for the hunt, just in case I forget something at home.” Oxan drew back the top draw quietly.
“What’s that?” Pointed Kez, sneaking up behind Oxan. Oxan picked out a small object, green in colour outlined in gold and connected to a chain. He dangled it before the group with a confused look on his face.
“Its nothing….”, he whispered, the hardness of his voice so characteristic of the man was all but gone. Bane could see the object tormented the man but kept silent. Oxan stood in silence staring at it in a trance like state for what seemed like an age but suddenly he snapped out of it and placed it back in the draw. Bane looked at Chiana, who looked more than a little confused.
“We can rest here till morning.” Spoke Balkin, placing his axe against the earth wall and resting his head against it.
“I can’t see we have much of a choice anyhow, the guards will be scouting the roads and woods as we speak.” Whispered Oxan, as he sat back down. “I have a little food stored here, dry bread and water from my container.”
“I couldn’t think of a better time for this!” spoke one of the guards Bane did not know. The man was older than the rest of the guards but not by much and was unshaven, with blond hair and beard and light blue eyes that told Bane the man had some battle experience other than tonight’s skirmish.
“I am Moth.” He offered Bane his hand. The barbarian took it and shook it firmly; he noticed Moth had a strong firm handshake.
“These are Alkien and Jax.” He said pointing out the other two, who sat eating some bread Oxan had given them. They did not respond Bane didn’t care, it was perhaps better not to know them more personally, who knew what tomorrow would bring?
Oxan stepped over to Bane and offered him a piece of thick bread. Bane accepted and took a bite. The crust had hardened to almost rock like properties, but it was food, and he was hungry. Bane gave a nod of appreciation.
“What do you think is happening outside?” asked a curious and nervous Kez. The question was not directed at anyone in particular.
“They will no doubt be looking in here, and the road to Galmnor.” Replied Bane.
“What about Galin, Shrug and the horseman? What do you think their chances are of making it safely to Galmnor?” Bane shrugged and replied once again to Kez’s questions.
“They were fools for taking the carriage, it will move to slow, too many bodies in the carriage itself. If the Shadows patrol the roads they will be stopped. The horseman has the best chance of making it.”
“I agree Bane, Lord Cork should have stuck with more than one horseman. Perhaps he knew of this and sent the carriage to its doom, as a decoy?” Oxan’s words seemed to strike a note in Moth, who stood up as much as he could in the hole, anger clear as day on his face.
“Lord Cork would never do such a thing!” Moth gripped the hilt of his sword and eyed Oxan dangerously.
“Sit down lad, I was merely thinking aloud.” Moth did not look like he would back down.
“Do not sling such accusations around and excuse them as ‘thinking aloud’.” Bane stood up quickly and placed his arm on the guards shoulder and looked him coldly.
“Do not be a fool, Oxan will kill you easily, now sit down and forget it.” Moth looked up at the features of the young barbarian. He could feel the strength of Bane on his shoulder, even though he was sure the barbarian was not putting any power behind it. He nodded and released his hand from the hilt of his sword. He looked once more at Oxan coldly before walking over to his fellow guards, stopping beside Oxan.
“I apologise, I admit I am on edge.” Moth put forward his hand. The big hunter looked at it with a smile and shook it firmly.
“You have spirit lad, I like that!”
- - -
The stench of rotten flesh was becoming a familiar smell to Bailey. He looked around the room. It was empty save for the straw in the corner of the room and dark. The small slit that was supposed to be a window barely let any light in during the day.
He heard a scream; someone was being hurt in another room. The scream pierced the rare silence in Baileys room like a hot knife through butter, and was so high-pitched he could not tell if it was that of a woman or a man or even that of a child’s.
He crawled over to where light did filter in through the wooden structure. Placing his eye over the small gap in the wall he peered down what seemed to be a corridor. Torches burned violently on the walls. The scream was coming from down the corridor. He lowered his head and began to worry. He had not seen his wife since the night he was captured, was his wife dead, or near enough? Was it her screaming…?
He shook his head as tears began forming at the corners of his eyes. He was helpless to save her, helpless to save himself or anyone.
“Curse you!!!” He shouted out and struck the wall with his fist. Tears began to flow and slide down his cheeks, dripping from his chin onto the ground. He wished his brother were here. Balkin always was good in a fight, but would it be enough now? Had his brother already arrived and was searching for Bailey right now? Or had the group of ‘priests’ captured his brother? Alone and in the dark Bailey was left alone with his thoughts.
- - -
How long had they been hiding in the hole thought Bane as he looked over the group? Oxan had fallen asleep along with Balkin and Moth, but the others remained awake, anxious looks spread across faces.
It had grown cold also, with rainwater leaking into the hole from somewhere. He looked beside him to see Chiana shivering, trying to wrap a small piece of cloth around her. Stupid girl he thought serves her right for wearing so little clothing. Bane smiled down at her and placed his arm around her drawing Chiana into his body. She did not complain and rested her head against his barrel of his chest. She still shivered.
“I do not like hiding.” Bane whispered to Chiana. She stirred a little and sat up looking at Bane.
“If we would have stayed outside we might all be dead, those creatures you mentioned, and the shadows seem to be a dangerous people.” Bane nodded his head.
“Perhaps you are right, but it does make you think. Remember Hugo’s farm?” Chiana shuddered.
“Briefly, I was ill, remember!”
“The problems they faced there are the same here, although Hugo’s farm was on a smaller scale. I wonder, how far the Shadows have stretched across the land?” Chiana brushed her hair back and laid back down on Bane.
“We can’t know; they might be everywhere, even your homeland Bane… who knows?”
“If they are in my homeland they will be beaten. My people care little for such creatures, we are proud of our heritage and tradition, the shadows would not stand a chance in controlling the north.”
“You seem so certain. How can you be after what you have seen today?”
“My people are warriors, born and bred, the people here are not, not all of them. Believe me girl; I know what I am talking about. Here money talks, it is not so where I come from.” Silence ensued for a while, both Bane and Chiana thinking on what was just said.
Were the Shadows in the whole of the Western Kingdoms, or just here? Perhaps they had caught them early, or perhaps they were just being paranoid, perhaps the shadows were not after much land, just that of Kanton.
Bane looked down at Chiana and then across to Balkin and began thinking about his friend Kabana. Was he dealing with the same problems elsewhere, but on his own? He briefly wondered on his village, was it safe? It was not that big compared to many of the other villages and of his old friends Tukuram and Alaric. Bane noticed Chiana had fallen asleep, the same as everyone else. He closed his eyes.
It was then that Bane ‘sensed’ something was wrong. He took a deep breath and ‘felt’ something odd in the air, an un-fresh ashy taste and strange smell. He looked over at the entrance and could see the problem. Smoke was finding its way through the foliage into the hole. He stepped up quickly, gently putting Chiana aside and against the wall.
Stooping low Bane made his way to the entrance and moved the cover aside. His eyes widened in shock. Thick smoke drifted on the wind, in great pillars reaching for the darkened sky. It was still night, but the whole area was lit up. Someone had set fire to the woods. For a heartbeat Bane watched as flames licked away at the brush and at the great trees, and at how fast the fire was spreading due to the wind and the shadows.
“Wake up!” He cried out as smoke began to fill the hole. Bane could hear coughing as sleeping bodies suddenly began to wake.
“The woods are on fire!” Bane shouted as he stormed among his companions, shaking Balkin roughly. “Up, get up, we must move less we choke to death!”
“They are burning the woods,” cried Kez, “we will die for sure!” Bane stalked over to Kez and gripped him by the arm.
“I will kill you now if you mention that again, stop whimpering man!” Bane was frustrated, why was it taking the group so long to get organised. The hole was filled with black thick smoke, did they not see the urgency to move.
“Lets go!” shouted Oxan, who rushed past Bane, holding out a piece of cloth over his mouth. The man clambered quickly out of the hole, surprisingly fast for one so big thought Bane as he to exited the smoke filled hole.
The heat from the burning woods was immense, the light hurting Bane’s darkness adjusted eyes.
“How could they get the place to burn so easily? It was raining before was it not?” asked Moth, shielding his face from the flames that surrounded them.
“I do not know and dread to think, we have to move!” Everyone understood the urgency in Bane’s voice. They started moving, following the rushing forms of Bane and Oxan, who had seemed to take charge. Bane did not know where he was taking them, but his instincts told him that their was somewhere safe in the direction they were running, if not safe at least not on fire. His thoughts were justified as he noticed rushing forms of animals pass him in the direction.
It did not take them long to reach and untouched part of the Kanton Woods, and Bane slowed his run to look behind at his companions. He had not lost anybody despite the pace he had set and was surprised to see everyone had kept up, particularly Balkin.
Bane looked around him, despite the noise of the rushing feet of his companions, and the crackling raging fire in the distance the area was generally quiet. He began to pace forward, carefully picking his way through the bush and towards the woods border. Despite the darkness Bane could see well enough, his heritage and training proof of his peoples sturdiness and skill in nature. He knew his companions would be straining in the light.
He peered out and could see a road stretching out into darkness miles off, the road flanked by many well-tended crop fields and houses. He looked up at the stars and the moon and then back at his companions. He almost averted to using the hand-code of his people, but realised there would be no point, his companions had know knowledge of it, except for Chiana and a little by Balkin.
“Looks clear to me barbarian!” whispered Oxan, who held out his large axe in both hands, the glare of the moon reflecting off the blade.
“We shall know soon enough!” Bane stepped forward carefully and looked around, making sure he still had the cover of the woods. The area was good for an ambush, worryingly good for one.
“What are we all waiting for, can’t you see, we are safe!” shouted Kez, rushing forward.
“Kez, be careful!” whispered Jesper, not really wanting to shout out loud.
Moth moved forward and exited the woods followed by Alkien and Jax, then Balkin. Bane shook his head; he was now sure it was defiantly not safe. Something was wrong, why burn the woods to chase us out only to let us escape so easily?
Suddenly a rushing form leaped out at them from nowhere, to Bane it seemed as though it just materialised out of the darkness. It cried out a ghostly howl and attacked the closest member of the group who had exited the woods; Kez did not stand a chance as more of the creatures rushed forth out from nowhere, the young guard was knocked down hard.
“Quickly, form a circle!” Cried Balkin as he was outside the woods. The order was followed surprisingly well, and Jax dragged the prone form of Kez back into the safety of the circle as Bane, Oxan, Chiana and Jesper also joined them, chased out of the woods by more of the Shadows.
For heartbeats Bane and his companions watched as the creatures hidden almost totally by the darkness of the night circled around the group, rushing from out of the woods themselves. They were outnumbered heavily, at least five to one Bane thought as he began counting heads.
“You idiotsss have meddled in affairsss long enough!” cried out one of the creatures, its beak like face twisting to the side as it spoke chillingly. Bane drew his sword and growled, then the Shadows charged.
They seemed to be un-naturally fast as some leaped over them with great speed landing at the centre of the circle. Those that did were greeted by cold steel, as Jesper and Jax hacked them down. Chiana let loose an arrow, striking a target above the beak where she only guessed housed the brain. The creature fell back and Chiana smiled readying her next arrow.
The circle closed as the rush of the shadows pushed the defenders back. Bane roared out defiantly, hacking left and right with Flamir, crushing beak and skull. He heard a scream to his left and saw that Alkien had gone down, and that a fountain of blood was gushing out from where his head was only moments before.
The creatures were deadly. Bane took notice of what they used as weapons. It appeared to be their limbs, small wings tipped with a sharpened bone that looked like it could cut through stone. It also appeared to be what they used to leap and glide with speed.
With the ferociousness of his people Bane kept the Shadows on his side at bay, using everything at his disposal to do so, sword, fist, legs and head. But he could not help notice how many of them would stand up after a mortal wound to the chest or arm, or from a blow that would knock out a man from the use of his fists. He could also notice the fact that his companions were tiring. That meant they were almost doomed for sure.
Suddenly and unexpectedly fire erupted behind the Shadows ranks, and the enemy seemed disorientated. Great white flashes lighted up the area while the stench of ozone common to magic filled the air.
“What is that?” whispered Jesper, pointing towards a glowing group of white robed figures. Bane looked about him to see the Shadows were dispersing, as great lines of lightning shot through the ranks. Bane shuddered; the power of magic was great indeed. Within moments the tide had changed, and once where there appeared only doom, survival was once more for the taking.
“Do not be afraid.” The voice was softly spoken and done with eerie confidence. Bane stepped forward, over the fallen broken bodies of the shadow creatures, sword out ready to defend himself.
“Who are you? Why should we trust you?” Another robed figure laughed and stepped forward.
“We have just saved your lives, and if you want to be able to do so for the rest of Kanton, and perhaps Sanctuary, you must follow us.” Oxan stepped forward besides Bane, his voice deep.
“They have a point barbarian, if they wanted us dead they would have killed us after they had dealt with the Shadows.” Bane looked down at the enemy, they appeared to be dissolving fast, and a strange smell was attached to the smoke the decaying bodies emitted. Bane turned to his weary companions; they would not be able to defeat the mages if it came down to it. Reluctantly Bane sheathed his sword and turned towards the first speaker.
“Very well, we shall follow you. But I would like to know one thing.”
“What is that barbarian?”
“Where are you taking us?” One of the robed figures stepped forward and gestured towards the woods.
“To a safe place in the woods, where no fire can destroy us. Please follow us.”
“What about our dead man here, we can’t just leave him!” Moth called out, pointing to the body of Alkien.
“Bury him if you wish, but you will also join him then for we must move quickly, before the shadows are back in force.” Moth stood up and nodded, a solemn look on his face.
The mages were strange, the way the fire stayed clear of them during the trek through the flame-covered woods was a sight to behold, and something that confirmed the power of magic.
“Why do you not put out the fire?” asked Chiana, tapping one of the hooded mages on the shoulder besides her. The mage turned on her, drawing back the hood of the robe. The mage’s features are surprisingly young his face soft and polished looking, but one look at his eyes told Chiana there was a deep sadness with him.
“It is an unnatural fire, all our magic will do to it is feed the flames more so; only the rain that falls from the sky can settle it and there will be no rain I fear for another night or so.” His voice was soft, like the others that spoke earlier.
“My name is Chiana.” Thrusting out her hand Chiana smiled playfully. The mage looked curiously down at the hand before accepting it.
“I am… Teppin.” The hesitation in his voice was strangely comforting along with the confused look that had spread across the mages face.
“Nice to meet you Teppin.”
It was not long before the group could no longer feel the heat of the fire. Bane stared in wonder at the magic at work to prevent the fire from spreading any further. The flames seemed to try and spread onto trees and brush next to it but an invisible force kept it at bay. As if noticing the barbarians look, a robed figure stepped over to Bane touching him on his shoulder gently. The figures hood draped back to reveal angelic features. The girl standing besides him was at least a clear foot and a half shorter than him but stood no less stunning. Her long blond hair flowed around her neck, her flawless face soft but commanding. Her large blue eyes and full red lips seemed to captivate him. Bane was staring, something he found hard not to.
“I am sorry…” The girl smiled and looked at the fire.
“We are in a safe place here barbarian, the fire can not get through, nor can our enemies.”
“How is that so?” The girl smiled and looked directly into Bane’s eyes.
“There is great magic here, stronger than most in the whole of Sanctuary, but come, our home is not far.” With that the girl turned and lifted her hood once more over her head and continued after the others. Bane shook his head and looked down at his small companion who he hadn’t noticed at all during the conversation with the girl.
“Pretty girl that one ‘ey.” Balkin said, nudging Bane while smiling.
“Very pretty my friend.”
The mages home was not at all what Bane had expected. Standing before it as the party stopped in wonder Bane began to study it. Somehow, within the forest was a great temple, one that stretched up past the canopy of trees into the night sky. A great domed thin tower came out of the main buildings centre and seemed as though it stood by the stars themselves as it soared high above the clouds.
The architecture of the building itself was unlike any Bane had seen before, it was grander than that of any he had seen in the great city of Ensteig. The walls were circular in design, and made from what seemed like a white flawless rock, almost as if it had been carved out of marble. Great steps led up to the entrance, a pair of golden doors that looked to be made from gold.
“Look at it!” exclaimed Balkin, his jaw hung loose as he stared wide-eyed at the structure.
“Come this way!” Spoke the ‘leader’ of the group who as of yet remained unidentified. The man began the long walk up the stairs.
“Do not be afraid.” Teppin said as he saw hesitation in Chiana’s being.
Bane started the stairs and looked about as he did so. How was this Temple here? He would have seen it easily enough when the day he had arrived in Kanton, perhaps before hand, it was tall enough. He decided it was one question that would need to be answered, perhaps not now, but soon.
The doors were indeed great to behold, depictions of warriors and lands unknown to Bane scattered across its golden surface. They opened silently as the ‘leader’ waved his hand across them horizontally. They opened inwards and the first thing Bane noticed was a long crimson carpet stretched out over a white marble floor that reflected the ceiling of the building almost perfectly.
“Welcome to our home.” The ‘leader’ said gesturing for Bane and company to go inside. Bane stepped onto the carpet and looked around in awe. The hallway was bigger than even the feast halls in any village he had been in Kamidia, or indeed any he had heard of in the whole of his homeland, including the great Harrogath.
Winding stairs that appeared to be also made from marble stretched up to a half circle platform, and from what Bane could see from below there was also many doors.
What interested Bane were the paintings that covered the walls. Some were of a dark nature, showing landscapes Bane had previously thought of in imagination while others showed buildings even grander than the one he found himself in. The skies were various colours, colours that merged and swirled together as if they had a life of their own.
When everyone was gathered in the room, the mages dispersed; leaving only the ‘leader’, the young mage Chiana spoke to known as Teppin and the girl, who remained at his sides.
“We shall take you to your rooms so you can rest up for the night. Introductions can also be saved for tomorrow; no doubt you are all tired from your actions of the night.” There appeared no reason to argue with the man, the place was warm and friendly, the people inviting. It was not long before the group was led up the stairs in the hallway and through a door to another passageway, lined with simple doors and decorated sparsely. Led to the first room they were told they would have to share each room. First to share a room was the injured Kez and his friend Jesper, then Moth, and Jax, Balkin and Oxan and finally Bane and Chiana.
Once left alone Chiana settled on her bed and looked around the room. It was a homely place if simple, with two large beds set by the opposite wall from the other, while two small desks were set besides these. Curtains were drawn so the view of the burning forest was still in sight. Chiana shook her head and stood by the window closing the curtains.
“I would rather forget the woods on fire, at least for the night.” Bane nodded and stood close to the door, as if he was certain it would burst open at any second, and that an enemy would rush through.
“Relax Bane, I believe we are safe here.” Bane sat on the bed and took his sword belt off, draping it over a decorated post at the top of his bed. He laid back on the soft mattress and pillow. It was the most comfortable bed he had ever laid upon.
“Perhaps you are right Chiana, but there is no harm in being ready, we do not know these people, maybe we have gone from being in the hands of one enemy straight into the clutches of a more powerful one.”
“Don’t let your feelings of magic cloud your mind Bane, if they wanted us dead they would have killed us by now, not made us guests in their home.” Bane sat upright and watched Chiana slide onto her bed, resting her bow and quiver against the chest of drawers, and her sword on top of them.
“That is what I’m worried about, this home, how come we have not seen it before? You saw the tower rising above the Kanton woods, why could we not see it before?” Chiana shook her head and snuggled into the soft red duvet.
“Those Shadows are what worries me Bane, their very look had me scared the way they spoke and sound…” Chiana appeared uncomfortable at the mere thought of the shadows.
“They are a very clever enemy, or at least have some sense, did you notice the way their dead dissolved into nothing but smoke.”
“Don’t remind me… the smell was awful, more so than an unwashed barbarian.” Bane ignored the joke.
“My people used to fashion poisonous remedies out of the remains of the dead, they could find out how to kill beasts and animals from just looking at the dead of each species, as well as potions to heal the body and mind. These Shadows are hard to kill, and they don’t want anyone to get a hold of one of their dead.”
“Rest Bane, all will be revealed tomorrow, there is nothing we can do now.”
“Ok girl, but sleep lightly and be ready for trouble if it comes!”
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