I hoped that this post would go up last night... but alas the summer laziness set in during the day. I will now provide the other half of the new version of that scene.
It is an interesting fact that every time I write something new, it is much longer in word length than the old version, and yet, at least to me, much more gripping. Guess it goes to show how much you learn in five years... or more like 4 years and 362 days or so, counting two leap days in there. I should give an award to whoever can guess from that information what day I started writing my novel. Hmm... what award to give though. I know! If you can figure it out with just that math (or any other sources you can find) you get to pick any topic at all for my next post! Really! Doesn't even have to be anything at all about my blog or my novel. If you want me to review your blog or some other thing I've read I can do that too.
Anyhow... the other half:
Achpollo opened his mouth to ask just how this plant was to be served today. Terin had shared it a few times before, but always used it in a different way. Before Achpollo’s question could be voiced though, another voice shafted straight through the walls. It was a terribly cry, not intelligible to Drune or Laven, though Laven knew its meaning, and fairly confusing to Terin.
Laven was more irritated than confused, and Reiyen looked close to scared. Laven spoke, “Yes… they worship openly now. They make sacrifices all the time, always preceded by those ugly yells. I do not watch the festivities, nor get involved. It’s not safe around those brutes.”
Conversation and meal continued, with the hairs of apprehension standing up on Reiyen’s back. Terin and Drune sat in perfect peace, the kind of peace that only ignorance could bring. Terin began spreading the fruit jelly over the bread, the most common application.
Achpollo remarked, “The fruit is not so sweet as others you have shared.”
Terin explained, “The larger the fruit, the less sweet the juice. I have very few of the small fruits. They don’t keep as well and bruise more easily.” Another cry rang out, somewhat closer.
“They are moving toward the temple,” muttered Laven. She then continued, “All pleasantries aside, Reiyen, what is the state of things? Will there be war soon? Have you found our last best hope?”
Reiyen grimaced and said, “Yes, no longer can the war be stalled or staid. Nastar’s war furnace has reached its melting heat; we can no longer delay him. War is upon us.” But then he smiled and said, “But as to our greatest hope, indeed, that mission proved good.”
Another cry, about the same distance but a different direction.
Laven leaned in and stared straight into Reiyen’s face, “So who among the resistance knows? When do we strike?”
Reiyen grimaced again, and then turned to his friends from Tomfie. “Terin, Drune, it is time now for you to understand the full nature of our mission. You’ve come far enough with only a superficial understanding, and no doubt you’ve heard some of my whisperings with others, but now I’ll lay it plain to you.
“A matter of months ago, my colleagues from around the worlds, known simply as the resistance, attempted to overthrow Nastar’s empire, or at least to shake his grasp and distract him from our homeland here in the South for a while. Instead, our rebellion was crushed, and we only drew Nastar’s anger higher. He wiped out most of the resistance in Terin’s Green World, all of it in the North of this world.
“He then massed the troops he had used to quell the rebellion in the North. The news we just heard today is that they have begun preparations for their arrival here with their advance teams and spies. I have friends between here and the North that have been staying that process, but even still the enemy will come in power too great to resist.
“So we move for assassination. By secret plans that I should not yet divulge, I believe we may be able to strike against Nastar’s command corps, and at least delay the attack for months, giving us more time to ready ourselves. On our way North we will continue to organize resistance and whatever troops we can muster, in hopes that they…”
All at once the cries burst out all around the house. Reiyen’s audience had been too absorbed to hear the approach. Laven began to cry out, but Achpollo leapt, astonishingly nimbly, over the table, cupping his hand over her mouth. Reiyen called his staff over from the door, sailing through the air. Laven, having recovered her composure, seized the wrists of Drune and Terin and thrust them toward the stairs in the back of the room.
“Go up to the upper room. There is a ladder in two pieces. Put it together and make a bridge over to the building across the street.”
Achpollo followed over as Terin and Drune ran up the stairs, “They’ve surrounded the place. There will be no escape that way.” A heavy object collided with the door, the bar cracking but not giving way.
Reiyen heaved the table against the door, and then the stools that had sat around it. Laven ran over to the door and screamed through it, “What’s the big idea? I’ve given you all you’ve asked!”
A scratchy voice called back, “Give us your guests, traitoress, and maybe you will be preserved!”
“My guests are my own. Perhaps if you cultists were more likable, you’d have some of your own!”
The high scratchy voice began to respond, but its response was cut off with a slap. A deep smooth voice rolled in through the door like a boulder, “Laven, give up your game. Either leave the city and leave your guests behind, or the whole thing goes to fire with all your bodies inside.”
Laven responded, “Ah, Mythron dared to come out of his headquarters. Does Nastar’s puppet only come out to face-off with those who run inns and hunt deer?”
The top half of the door tore open as a heavy rock flew through it. Instantly a few of the more nimble attackers leapt through the opening. Their endurance was put to the test immediately as Reiyen’s staff swatted them each before they landed. Wood axes followed behind them as the more bulky attackers came through the door, and started hewing the walls. Reiyen had no choice.
Darkness filled the room and the immediate surroundings instantly. Reiyen’s staff glowed, casting an aura of light onto his face. “Be gone! You love darkness not so much as you think, for true darkness burns.” The whole neighborhood plunged into blackness. Reiyen struck his opponents again. As they fell senseless shocks of light began budding on his staff, then bursting off. They leapt straight for those surrounding the building, making humming noises as they moved and cracklings as they struck.
As the yelps of his enemies became less frequent and quieter for distance, Reiyen allowed the darkness to lift. Laven had scarcely moved, but her face showed no fear. “Violence Reiyen, it follows wherever you go.”
Reiyen murmured, “That or I come just in time to turn the violence away from the innocent.” Laven said nothing. Reiyen bellowed, “Terin! Get down to this floor straightway!”
No answer came from the upper level. Reiyen’s right eyebrow lowered in confusion, but Laven tossed her hair, “Wizards may live long, but their memories seem not to last as their bodies. I told them to escape, and so it seems they have. The two of us will have to find a way out for ourselves. But that shouldn’t be such a terrible thing, we’ve confused enough cultists and demon-allies in our time, haven’t we, Reiyen?”
“I’d estimate we’ve duped every Nastar worshipper between here and the great canyon at least twice.”
“Twice? Only twice?”
“There are more of them then you seem to know. But I think that’s enough chatter.”
Laven’s smile faded, “It’s probably the last time we’ll ever speak together. I say we chat all we can.”
Laven never could tell if Reiyen’s mouth moved up or down behind the mask of beard. He responded, “We have more important business to attend to than chatter. Let’s make the last hours of our team count. First, we must destroy any papers that would put any other laborers for our cause in danger. Next, we need to plan our escape. You get to the first and I’ll get to the second.”
With that Reiyen sat back down on a stool by the table, reached into his pocket, and withdrew a little wooden case from deep inside. He opened it and popped a small bit of the stuff into his mouth. He sat still chewing industriously on the gummy stuff, his usual way of thinking.
Laven scarcely bothered a strange look at him; she’d seen the gum before, but his demeanor was very odd. Little more that could happen that day would be stranger than the events she had just seen. She went straight for a floor board, lifted it up, sifted through the papers, and withdrew every other one. She had cleverly arranged them such that only each of those had anything true on them, the rest were lies, sometimes even contradictory with the rest.
Then she walked over to her fireplace and threw the true papers in. She stole a glance at Reiyen, who sat leaning as far back as he could on his stool (as children are often remonstrated not to do), chewing in spurts. He was snoring as though asleep, but his eyes belied that idea. Then he coughed a little, barely catching his gum with his teeth, lest it should fly across the room.
Immediately after regaining his composure from the near accident, he spoke up, “I suppose they’ll be back again at night. They’ll bring priests, or whatever the designation is for the resident creeps that they follow, and expect my craft to be weaker because of the nighttime, that’s how their superstition works. And they might be right; I won’t be able to summon a spell of that strength again for a long time.
“I imagine we must also take care to get the resistors out of the city as well, the violence will begin as soon as they are done with us, but affecting that would me much harder. Do you have anyway of contacting them? We could suggest a break-out of the city while they are busy with us?”
Laven looked back with an annoyed, sarcastic expression on her face, “Oh yes, we do hand-signals, mirror signals, flags, and pigeons. Most of all, though, we do smoke signals. A little smoke means that I managed to buy off the enemies and they didn’t burn down the whole place. A lot of smoke means they did burn down the whole place.”
Reiyen did not bother to be offended by the words or the tone. He knew Laven was a spirited lady; that is why she had survived so long in the city where few could, much less accomplish as much as she. She’d been the source of half of Reiyen’s information for nearly a decade. He muttered, “Well, if they know what a lot of smoke means then they should know to run, but it will take a few minutes for the smoke to accumulate… Let’s light the place on fire right now.”
Laven ignored him, but also got back to business, “They will not leave their city, the only great city of men.”
Reiyen smiled, “They will be coming back. They will come back when they have a king again. The leaves won’t fall twice before we have one of the old blood upon the throne again.”
Laven went white, then red with joy, “You mean that one is the one we’ve waited for so long?”
“Waited? There was no waiting; we’ve been working to find him for a long time. Had to travel by the fires to get him, and then only just in time. But enough of that, especially if either of us is caught, we don’t need the whole hope going to the Deep Island.” By this Reiyen referred to the abode of Nastar, the Shadow Realm.
Laven recalled back the principal topic, their escape, “There’s always the sewer, that’s been done by heroes and crooks alike for ages and in all the tales.”
Reiyen looked back, “Sewers and wizard robes don’t mix well. Aside from that difficulty, sewers and large amounts of fugitives don’t work well together - much too messy, with filth and blood. Still, my robes might be willing to sacrifice for a while, far enough to get us away from this neighborhood. I suppose you and the rebels have a tunnel system that works with them?”
“I don’t know if we do or not, that’s always been old Ulaag’s business. He just told me, ‘Ever need escape, use sewer. Watch sign dripping compass. Take you to safe.’” That was how the oldest agent in Okthin had always spoken. “I don’t know if that means a safe-house or out of the city.”
“If it’s out of the city that’s bad news. Mythron will be guarding any sewer exits out of the city. If it is to a safe-house, or to any other part of the city than this one, that’ll do.” Reiyen began picking through their various packs, taking the things they couldn’t afford to leave: Drune’s sturdy knife, Achpollo’s and his papers, his gum, and the best of Terin’s fruits.
“There’s no knowing ‘til we’re in there. Ulaag knew just how little to tell each of us. Not until it became impossible to keep loyalty to the White Cross secret did I know that there were even this many of us.”
“Then let us be off. Lurking in this mess is of no good to us. To the cellar let us go.” And with that Reiyen took the last valuable thing from off the table: the mug of blue jam, from which he promptly took a gulp.
We still haven't really got the whole posse out of Okthin in both of these scenes... but I think you get the idea. My style changed a ton over the past few years, especially with the weight of my description. I almost hesitate to ask.... but which do you like more?