“You do not need friendship and commitment when you have power. With power, you can order your followers to do anything you wish and they will follow your commands. With power, you have fear and discipline.” Voler said.
“As for our new leader, her abilities and wisdom are stronger than that of her father. I have complete faith in her to lead The Network and abolish the country of The Envahir and any other invaders who try to take over. And, if she wishes for me to take charge of more than just being her protector, then I will do as she asks because, I believe in her and I choose to follow her.” Crenace said.
Humbled by Creance’s remarks, Kiri bowed her head.
“Then it will be in death that you will follow her.” Voler said, “Soldiers of the Envahir regroup!”
“Network, fall in.” Creance commanded.
Soldiers from both groups moved behind their leaders, they took this time to care for wounds and retrieve weapons; preparing for what they felt would be the final push to take the Government building.
“Your blood will adorn the steps of my capital.” Voler threatened. “It is not too late, lay down your swords and I promise you, I will be gracious and spare the lives of you and your soldiers.”
“My blood may be on these steps but, it will be your body which they will drag from these steps and I will be the one who puts it there.” Creance said, “My soldiers and I will live because of your defeat and if they fall in battle, it will be with honor”
As Voler reached for his sword, a commotion began from the one side of the gathering of soldiers.
“Make a hole, clear the way!” a voice could be heard ordering soldiers to move.
As the soldiers cleared a path, Epier emerged through the crowd. Epier was carrying his sword but the jacket of his uniform was removed. He had several wounds on his arms and legs. He appeared to be in good health but had fought his way to get to this area.
Voler and Creance both looked at Epier.
Voler laughed, “Ha looks like the old gang is all here. Now that the scales have been tipped a little farther in our favor, would you like to reconsider where you want to stand?”
Creance said, “My stand and The Network’s remains the same as it has always been.”
“Order Epier to kill him.” Lexa said, “We can see who has the real power.”
“Power? This is about power?” Epier yelled, “We will see who has real power.”
Epier walked towards Voler, stopped and stared at Lexa. Epier grabbed Lexa by the face and shoved her backwards. Surprised, Lexa stumbled backwards and landed on her butt. Embarrassed and angered, Lexa scrambled to get up quickly; Epier pulled his sword and pointed it at Lexa. Voler chuckled to himself. Lexa pulled her sword and started towards Epier, Voler raised his hand and she stopped.
Epier backed up and stood beside Creance.
“True power rests with those who believe in what they are fighting for and it is with them I choose to fight with.” Epier said.
Voler’s face turned red with anger, “You! You of all people have chosen to leave me and join them? When I have taken this City and become ruler of this country, I will spare your life. You will be put on public display and you will be tortured endlessly and yet death will never come for you!”
Epier stepped backwards and stood a couple of steps higher than Creance and Kiri.
“Soldiers of The Envahir! Soldiers of the Envahir, listen to me. I, Epier was once your Lieutenant. I commanded you and issued orders to you. I have one more order to issue. That is for you to choose the side you wish to stand with.
Voler has held his power of fear over you long enough. I for one know too well the effects of that power and what it can do to your spirit. Voler can only use that power of fear if you allow him to. There are strength in numbers and the greater the numbers are that stand against Voler, the less powerful his fear becomes.
I encourage you to take a stand as I have, follow my lead and join the Network. Face your fear and stand up to Voler.
I assure you that if you choose to stand with the Network, you will be safe. You will not be held accountable for your actions as an Envahir soldier and you will be given your freedom to do as you wish.
Who will stand with me?”
Everything was silent, nobody moved.
Epier began to wonder if anyone had heard or understood what he was trying to say. There was some whispering among the soldiers.
“Those who stay and fight with me will be promoted and their wages doubled.” Voler countered.
The murmuring among the soldiers grew louder. Heads began to turn and remarks became louder as one young man came up the side, carrying his sword. The young man approached the line between the two armies, cautiously he walked into no man’s land between the two groups.
“Kill him!” ordered Voler.
The young man took a step backwards.
Without an order, all of the members of The Network pulled their swords and surged forward, stopping just behind Creance and Kiri. Epier approached the young man, put his sword in its sheath and held his hands out towards the young man. The young man crossed the line and climbed the step towards Epier.
Epier clapped the young man on the back, “Welcome. But you may want to lose this.” Epier said motioning to the soldier’s jacket.
The young man sheathed his sword, removed his jacket and threw it at Voler’s feet. Voler’s faced turned red as he stabbed the soldier’s jacket with his sword. Any words he may have said were lost amid the cheers of the Network.
Epier looked to the Envahir and raised his arms. A surge of Envahir soldiers came towards the Network. The soldiers had put away their swords and were removing their jackets, throwing them towards Voler. They climbed the steps and were greeted by the members of The Network. The size of The Network grew tremendously.
Voler stood unmoving with Lexa beside him. Behind them were a few Envahir soldiers. Some remained firm, other were glancing around nervously obviously unsure of what to do, they turned and ran. Voler’s army was clearly weakened and all but defeated.
“Now where do you stand?” Creance asked, “The balance has obviously shifted. You and your now very small army are all but defeated. Surrender now and I will see to it that you are given a fair trial.”
“I will never surrender.” Voler said.
Lexa looked around nervously and then ran leaving Voler standing there alone.
“Mine!” Kiri called and ran after Lexa.
Creance motioned for two members of The Network to follow her, they ran after her.
Kiri ran and followed Lexa down the alleys. At every turn, Kiri expected Lexa to be swinging a sword at her. As Kiri began to gain on her, Lexa pulled the junk which had made the barricades into the path. Kiri was only slowed a little bit but continued to gain on her. Lexa would grab a rock or a small item when she could and through it at Kiri but that only served to slow her a bit.
Lexa turned a corner and ran into a dead end. She turned, took a fight stance and faced Kiri. As Kiri turned the corner and saw Lexa there ready to fight, she stopped.
“It doesn’t have to end this way.” Kiri said, “You can still join us.”
“I can’t. I have no choice. I must win or die.” Lexa said.
“As you wish.” Kiri said as she ran towards Lexa.
Kiri ran at Lexa and their swords clashed with such force that Lexa stumbled backwards but quickly regained her balance. Lexa returned blows with Kiri and they fought back and forth for a while, neither gaining ground on the other. Kiri remembered back to their first fight and began to use some of the moves on Lexa to gain an upper hand. Kiri was able to knock Lexa to the ground. Lexa’s sword was angled between a brick and the ground; Kiri brought her boot down upon the sword and snapped the sword in half. With Lexa on her knees, Kiri grabbed her head and pulled Lexa’s head back and put her sword to Lexa’s throat.
“Please…please kill me. Forgive me for what I have done.” Lexa said, “Have mercy on me and please kill me. I can’t go back to him. He will torture me for running away and he will never let me die. He will torture me, worse than he ever did before. He will torture me until my body can’t take anymore. He will never spare me. I beg of you, please kill me.”
Kiri was silent for a moment. The network members who were following Kiri had rounded the corner and stopped.
“I couldn’t make life that easy on you.” Kiri said and pushed Lexa forward, “Bind her up and bring her with us.”
“Noooo!” Lexa cried.
“I will never surrender”, Voler said, “And I will never quit until I have killed you.”
“Then this is a good day, for we have finally found something we agree on. For I will never surrender and I shall never quit until I have killed you.” Creance said.
Voler pulled his sword. The members of The Network including those who had just defected, surged forward Creance raised his hand.
“This is my fight. Nobody is to interfere we will settle this with one fight. You are to only hold what is left of his army at bay.” Creance commanded.
Creance pulled his sword and walked down the steps of the government building. As he approached Voler, everyone else backed away giving them room. Creance and Voler began to fight, their swords crashing against each other. Throughout the many blows they traded, Creance had his side cut open and Voler had injuries on his arms. They were well matched against one another. Voler powered his way into Creance. As Creance blocked Voler’s sword, they came face to face.
“It’s not too late to surrender.” Voler said.
“As The Protector, it is my duty to avenge the death of my friend and that is what I will do.” Creance said as he pushed Voler away.
Voler stumbled backwards and tripped over the body of a fallen soldier. Creance moved forward and stood over Voler. Voler grabbed a handful of dirt and threw it into Creance’s face. Instinctively, Creance dropped his sword and reached for his eyes. Too late, Creance realized his mistake; Voler charged him, kicked away his sword and knocked Creance to the ground.
Epier and the other members of The Network moved forward.
“Hold it!” Voler said, pointing his sword onto Creance’s chest. “You wouldn’t want to be the one responsible for killing the old man would you?”
“Kill him!” Creance yelled.
Voler pushed the sword a little firmer into Creance’s chest. Creance winced and tightened.
“It would’ve been so easy to kill you as soon as you dropped your sword but, I wanted you to watch as I took your life.” Voler said.
“Hold it!” someone called out.
Voler looked up and saw Kiri dragging an obviously bound Lexa behind her.
Kiri forced Lexa into a kneeling position and yanked her head back. Kiri put her sword to Lexa’s neck.
“Let go of the sword or she dies.” Kiri said.
“Please kill me.” Lexa whimpered.
“What do I care about her? Kill her.” Voler said as he turned his attention back towards Creance.
“Damn it!” Kiri said, pushing Lexa away, smacking her head off of the ground.
Kiri whistled, Creance turned his head to look at her. Kiri slid the sword as hard as she could towards Creance. Creance grabbed the sword and in one upward motion, shoved it upward into Voler, pushing him to the side. Voler gasped and fell to the ground next to Creance. Epier and the others converged around Voler’s dying body and Creance.
“Contain the remaining soldiers.” Epier commanded.
Members of The Network quickly surrounded the remaining members of The Envahir. The few, who tried to escape, were quickly killed. The others dropped their swords and fell to their knees in surrender.
Creance stumbled towards Kiri, holding out her sword he said, “Thank you for use of your sword.” Kiri took the sword and hugged the older man.
The young man, who Sam and Ted sent outside of the city, approached the main entrance to the City along with some of the villagers; he was dressed in the uniform of an Envahir soldier.
“Halt!” the guard at the gate called.
Sergeant Gamin approached as the guard began to question them.
“I was ordered to bring them here.” the young man said.
“My orders said nothing about any soldiers escorting prisoners here.” Sergeant Gamin said.
“What’s your name sir?”
“Gamin, Sergeant Gamin.”
“Very well, I’ll take them back; I just wanted to know whose name to give when Captain Voler asks why these prisoners are coming back. Turn it around, looks like we’re heading back to
The young man stopped.
“It is a prison. I was simply saying that my orders didn’t say anything about them being escorted. Bring them in.” Sergeant Gamin said.
As the young man and the villagers approached Sergeant Gamin, they pulled swords and contained the guards.
“Guards!” Sergeant Gamin called.
The three men guarding the houses came rushing towards the main gate. They reached the gate, with their swords drawn.
“Now if you will kindly drop to your knees Sergeant, we will bind your hands and no one will be hurt.” the young man said.
“Ha! If you haven’t noticed, with my guards here, you are outnumbered. It is you who will be bound.” Sergeant Gamin said.
One of the men who had been guarding the houses approached Sergeant Gamin and said, “Hello there. It would be best if you did what the boy asked of you.”
Sergeant Gamin glanced around and saw all of the guards had taken off their caps and was not his soldiers. Without a word, Sergeant Gamin dropped to his knees and placed his hands behind his back. All of the Envahir soldiers were placed in makeshift prisons and guarded.
One of the men who had been acting as a guard over the houses went and opened the doors. All of the townspeople came rushing out of the houses. Cheering and shouting. George grabbed a sword, walked to the center of town and chopped the rope that held Scott suspended upon the pole. Scott dropped to the ground and landed on George knocking him to the ground, breaking Scott’s fall.
“Damn this is BS.” Scott said.
“I know Scott, I know. You’ll be alright now; we’ll get you fixed up.” George said as he carried Scott to one of the houses. Several of the women followed to care for him.
Sam watched as George carried Scott away. Several of the townspeople were leading Sergeant Gamin away to a jail.
“Hold on.” Sam called, “I’ve got a better place for him. String him up. If it’s good enough for them to prove a point to out townspeople, maybe it will prove a point to the Envahir.”
“No. Wait, please don’t do this.” Gamin pleaded.
The men dragged Sergeant Gamin towards the center of town where the pole stood and raised him up the pole. Sergeant Gamin cried out for some time until he realized that it was of no use.
Sam turned over a rain barrel and climbed up on it.
“Listen up!” Sam called, “I need everyone who is able to gather here.”
Slowly, the townspeople began to gather around Sam.
Everyone started asking, “What’s the matter? What’s going on? What are we doing?”
When everybody appeared to be assembled, Sam began, “This is not over yet. We may have control of our town back at the moment but, that is not the end. We do not know what the status of the fight at
We must be ready for them if they return. We will try to hold them and secure our town but, if they appear to strong for us, we will do what we can to give us as much time as possible to escape. We need everyone to pitch in to prepare the town and gather every weapon they can find or anything they can use as a weapon.”
Sam organized the people and had them set about preparing the town. It wasn’t long before the town was putting the last pieces in place. A boy came running through the main gate shouting, “Someone’s coming! Someone’s coming!”
“Everyone man your positions.” Sam yelled.
The town was deadly silent. The wait was agonizing. Ted saw the mother of the boy questioning him and starting to yell at him, obviously thinking the same thing everyone else had begun to think; that the boy had cried wolf.
Sam saw figures break the crest of the hill on the road leading to town. He looked hard and willed his eyes to focus. He saw someone carrying a banner with The Network’s flag and saw Kiri leading the group. Sam saw Kiri with her sword drawn, ready for battle and the old hermit was next to her, looking a little worse for wear but also, with his sword drawn.
“It’s them! The Network. We won!” Sam screamed.
Everyone filled the streets the town cheered.
Sam ran towards them shouting, “Kiri, we did it, we have control of the town. He threw his arms around Kiri.
Kiri, Creance and the other members of The Network entered the town amid shouts and cheers.
“It’s all finished. Now it will be nice to just have a good meal, good drink and a long rest. Could I bother you to find that for each of my men?” Kiri asked Sam.
“Bother to find you that? Ha!” Sam said as he jumped up on a rain barrel.
“Fellow townspeople, I urge you to prepare a feast; today we celebrate our victory and we honor those who have fought in battle to protect our home and our country! I also ask that if you have room to spare to house one of these brave fighters, I ask that you step forward and present your offer.” Sam called.
Sam was not able to climb down from his rain barrel; the entire town had surged forward and surrounded him. They were shouting out to him, offering housing for the fighters.
“It appears as though you will have room enough to spare.” Sam said to Kiri, turning to the town he said, “Go prepare for the celebration feast.”
Kiri looked at Sam, “Thank you and I have something for you which may be added to the feast. It is my offering and it is what I promised to you.”
Kiri whispered to a couple of young men who left and returned a few minutes later carrying a cask of beer.
The celebration lasted most of the day. It wasn’t until later in the day that Kiri had walked through the town and came across the burned site where her bar had stood. This was the first time she actually was able to look through the remains. The only things that survived the fire were the fireplace and the bell which she had always rung for last call.
“We are going to rebuild it.” Sam said as he approached Kiri, “I’ve already heard people talking about it. They’ve been talking about rebuilding the town and people keep bringing up the bar. They want to rebuild it because you have done so much for us.”
“I don’t know. It’s just that I have so much responsibility now, I don’t know if I could go back to running a bar.” Kiri said.
“Come on! Where else can I go to convince Ted of my hair brained schemes?” Sam said.
“I suppose I might be able to but, I’d probably have to get someone to run the place for me. It would have to be someone I could trust.” Kiri said.
“Would the position come with all you can drink?” Sam asked.
Kiri and her group stayed in town for a few days until Creance came to her with a horse laden with all of his belongings.
“We must get back to the Capital, there are things there which we need to take care of. Besides, you don’t expect Epier and your mother to keep things under control forever do you. Those two together can be a bad mix.” Creance said.
“Why didn’t you tell me this before?” Kiri asked.
“The mark of a truly great leader is learning from their mistakes.” Creannce said.
Kiri left and returned a little while later with a horse of her own which was carrying the few belongings which she had to her name. Creance and Kiri left for
Creance led Kiri to a large beautifully ordained building and showed her in. Kiri realized that this was to be her living quarters while she was here in