“Absolutely not!” screamed Ben as he heard Ford’s proposal. “We will certainly not take this misadventure any further than we have to!”
The entire group had converged in their room at the Keria Inn in McLedesh to discuss their next move. Supplies lined the outer walls of the room, all tucked in sacks with their weaponry laying closely next to them for a quick and easy exit. Everyone, with the exception of Ford and Ben, were sitting comfortably against the walls or on the beds as the two debated the group’s next move.
“Why not?” asked Ford. “We have an opportunity to save two more people. Why won’t you go along with this?”
“Because it’s suicide!” replied Ben. “And that is just for starters. We are not soldiers. We are not warriors. We are not barbarians.”
Ford turned and looked at the others. “Then what are we? Cowards?”
“We are God fearing villagers from Trellian, who will return there and rebuild our lives,” continued Ben. “The village was destroyed because of our insolence and defiance. We broke the lawys of our God’s and we were subsequently punished for it. Now we must go and rebuild, paying our penance for our crimes.”
“Do you really believe this was the God’s doing?” rhetorically asked Ford. “I can’t believe we’re actually having this discussion.”
“It must be!” screamed Anna as she stood up from the bed and walked toward Ford. “We live for their love. We broke their rules and our entire village suffered the consequence for it. We must go and make amends for our faults.”
Ford walked over to the window to watch the sun setting over the city. “Why do any of you want to go back?” he asked. “We all know what’s out there now. We all know that there is far more than a village.”
Anna stood up and walked over to the window and pointed out at the city. “These are godless people,” she began. “We are not.”
“We have all pledged our lives to the Gods,” said Ellen from across the room. “It is not our decision what we do from here. We must honor their will.”
“She’s right,” continued Anna. “Ford, we must follow what they set out for us to do. We must accept that Ty and Julie are both basking in the Gods love right now as they serve them.”
“You’re absolutely right,” said Ford. “They are serving them, as slaves, and I will not sit here and let them serve to the false idols you all accept as Gods.”
“That’s enough!” screamed Ben. “We will not sit here and listen to you go on like a heretic! We’ve already rid ourselves again of one, and I have no problem ridding ourselves of another one if need be.”
Ford smirked and walked away from the window. “So you label me as a heretic now?” he asked. “I wonder if there are others here who feel as I do, Ben?”
Ben met Ford in the center of the room and stood face to face with him. “No one in here is that foolish.”
“I am,” explained Evan as he sat against the wall. “I have no belief what so ever in gods anymore.”
Brett, who was sitting next to him smirking, placed his hand on his Evan’s shoulder and smiled. “That makes two of us, then.”
“Make it three,” announced William from across the room.
“Why, William?” asked Ben. “Why?”
He stood up and picked up his rifle and held it out for everyone to see. “The second I picked this gun up at the encampment where we saved Laura and Bonnie, I felt different. I felt as if I was never meant to be in a village, plowing the fields and harvesting crops day in and day out. I realized that I wasn’t comfortable as a farmer and that I’m more in place as a warrior, more specifically, a sniper.”
“I feel the same way,” said Brett as he continued to sit. “While we were in Condolia and I was making the steam engine work for us to escape, I felt as if I finally in my place. Unbeknownst to me, I possessed a knowledge in how to make gadgets and other types of equipment work.”
Ben grew more and more frustrated as William and Brett spoke up about how they didn’t want to return to Trellian.
“Ben,” said Bonnie as she sat on one of the beds. “I understand why you would want to return home, and if it is the will of the group I will comply, however, don’t you feel as if you were meant for more than just life in a village? I made my stand earlier about how I feel about those who you refer to as Gods, but if it is the will of everyone, I will return and help rebuild Trellian.”
Ben was furious and started pacing through the center of the room. “How can this be?” he asked to himself. “How can we be led so far astray that reason and logic will not bring us back in?”
“Why don’t we vote?” asked Laura, trying to reason with him. “If the majority of us agree to return to Trellian, then we return to Trellian.”
“We’re returning to Trellian!” screamed Ben. “There isn’t a need to vote. We are going home.”
“I’m not,” announced Hannah. “I’m never returning there.”
Ben stopped pacing and smirked as he looked over at Hannah. “No one wanted you to return anyway, heretic. Why don’t you go out and look for Chris. I’m sure he’d love some company.”
“That’s enough, Ben,” continued Laura. “She is just as welcome as anyone to return home with us. You will not prevent her based on your hatred for Chris. He saved her life, and that should be enough. Now, we vote on what happens.”
He was furious as he looked on at Laura with fury in his eyes. Shaking his head, he raised his hand in the air and slowly opened his mouth. “All in favor of returning home, raise your hand.”
Slowly, Sara, Ellen, Anna, Laura, Bonnie, Corey, and Ben raised their hands affirming that they wanted to return to Trellian, leaving Brett, Ford, Kaitlyn, Hannah, William, and Evan wanting to stay.
“There, we voted,” said Ben. “And it looks like we’re going home. I advise everyone to get some rest. We will leave tomorrow at dawn.”
Ford walked over and sat on one of the beds and looked up at Ben nodding, accepting his, and everyone who didn’t want to return’s fate. They were going to return home.
. . .
Nightfall had come to McLedesh and a full moon hung in the starry sky that shined magnificently off the Mendeliv river and the ocean that bordered the city. The group was in the inn asleep, laying in beds and on the floor, all scattered throughout the room. The seven girls, Hannah, Bonnie, Sara, Laura, Kaitlyn, Ellen, and Anna, slept in the four beds that were against the walls with the men sleeping on the floor, either in between the beds or in the center of the room.
“Who sleeps with the windows open?” asked Ferris as he looked up from the streets at the Keria Inn, noticing the windows to the loft were open, as well as the catwalks that connected several of the buildings in the city were vacant. “Looks like no one is out tonight, gentlemen. This should go smoother than planned.”
Ferris, along with seven soldiers, opened the door to the Inn and walked in. The soldiers, all Ferris’s personal entourage, were equipped with rifles as well as sabers and were outfitted in solid black. They walked through the Inn quietly and reached the stairs where the portly Innkeeper was waiting on them.
“Mister Ferris,” he said quietly. “The ones you are after are…”
“They’re in the loft,” he finished for him. “I need you to make sure none of the other patrons make it out of their rooms. Ensure that they’re locked. I don’t want any of the vermin coming downstairs to hide in another room.”
The man nodded his head and stepped aside as the soldiers started up the stairs. “They are armed,” announced the Innkeeper. “I saw their weapons.”
Ferris nodded as he lead the men up the stairs to the third floor to find the door to the loft slightly opened. He looked back at his team and pointed at the door.
“Could be a trap, sir,” said one of the men as he pointed. “This may not be the best action for us.”
“No,” said Ferris as he shook his head. “They left the windows open. The door is open to vent the room some more. It’s perfectly fine.” He slowly walked toward the door with his soldiers closely behind him. He looked back at them and nodded.
The door suddenly was kicked open and everyone sprung up to a sitting position to see Ferris and his soldiers barging into the room with their weapons drawn.
“Good evening,” he announced as he immediately darted his eyes at Hannah. “It’s so good to see you again. Oh, and you got all of the other villagers here with you. How oddly convenient.”
“Sir, he’s not here,” said one of the soldiers as he walked through the room looking at all of the villagers. “The man who destroyed Selestium is not here.”
Ferris’s eyes darted through the room and looked over everyone. “Where is he?” he asked as he looked at Hannah. “Where is the one who saved you?”
“Chris?” asked Ben from the ground. “We sent him away.”
Ferris pulled out his sword and pointed it at Ben’s throat. “Tell me the truth. Where is this, Chris?”
“He is telling the truth,” said Anna from one of the beds. “We did not want him here.”
“I don’t believe you,” said Ferris as his sword was still pointed at Ben. “Why would you send away your most powerful weapon? That makes no sense.”
“He is a blasphemer,” answered Ben. “We refuse to live with someone who denounced our Gods.”
Ferris and the soldiers all began to laugh hysterically. “I can’t believe it worked! The old man was able to make them into sheep! Go close the windows. I don’t want the good people of McLedesh to hear the screams as we end this resistance for good.”
One of the soldiers, still smiling and laughing at Ferris, walked over to the window to close them. He placed both hands on the windows and prepared to shut them when he suddenly stopped moving.
“What are you waiting for?” asked Ferris as he motioned at another soldier to walk over to the windows. The soldier walked over and placed his hands on the other soldiers and immediately stopped moving.
The villagers all looked at each other, panicking as they looked across the room at their weapons. “Stay calm everyone,” said Ford quietly. “We’ll be ok.” As the words left his mouth, both soldiers at the window fell to the ground with arrows sticking out of their skulls.
“It was a trap!” screamed Ferris as he motioned to two of the soldiers to walk toward the window and two more to head downstairs. Hannah, in her bed, scooted her body back in the bed and reached her arm back against the wall to find Ford’s daggers.
“There is no one here!” shouted one of the soldiers.
“Yeah, the catwalks are empty,” shouted the other one.
Evan looked over at the windows next to Brett trying to find his gun. Suddenly, both soldiers fell out of the windows and onto the streets below, leading the remaining soldier to walk to the window and look out to find his comrades on the ground with arrows in their heads. The soldier fell backwards and into the floor next to Ben as Chris swung into the room, drawing Ferris toward him swinging his sword. With his attention moved, Hannah threw Ford his daggers.
Ferris swung his sword wildly at Chris as he dodged the attack and moved toward the window where another entered in the room, pulling Ferris out and throwing him to the streets below and stabbing the other soldier in the back, eliminating the threat in the room with the villagers.
“I need you all to gather your things,” announced Chris as he walked to the other side of the room with Tyros. “We have to make it to the harbor.”
“The harbor?” asked Ben. “Why are we going there.”
Tyros walked over and placed out his hand to pick Ben up off the ground. “I have arranged a transport to remove all of you from this city. It is no longer safe for any of you here.”
Anna stood up and walked toward Chris and Tyros. “But we were going to head home tomorrow morning.”
Chris shook his head and looked over the room. “I’m sorry, but there will be no returning home now. We will head to Terebia aboard the transport that has been acquired for us, and from there we will be heading toward Aragonath on our way to Tiandel.”