Robin Hood wrote:It wasn't long before the ninjarins saw they were being pursued. They were catching up fast, for the ninjarins horse had to carry five people and cart. Seeing that they would not outrun them at the moment, the lead ninjarin shouted something to his fellows. The sack containing Nina was put on the horses back, followed by the lead ninjarin. He then pulled out a knife and cut the bonds holding the horse to the cart.
The cart crashed into the middle or road, and the three ninjarins drew knives, preparing to slow down the pursuit. They didn't slow them down much. On horseback, Kae-Os barely needed to slow down to dispatch them. With a quick jab of his spear and a swing from his katana, the elf killed two of them. Right behind him came Aiden, whose rapier dealt with the last one.
The two comrades had to slow their pace though, for it was night, with little light to guide them. They could do no faster than a trot in order to make sure their quarry didn't change his path. It was fortunate for them that fresh snow had fallen and that the road had not been travelled a lot recently. If it hadn't been so, the tracks would not have been visible.
Location: Port Jozef
Two months had passed since Aiden and Kae-Os had tracked the ninjarin and his captive to Port Jozef, the most southern of the Royal Knight cities. There they had carefully searched and search, but with no result. At first they had been pretty sure that the ninjarin hadn’t left on a ship, but as the days passed they finally began to accept the fact that Nina was gone. Just as Aiden decided to start looking abroad for her, word had reached him that Nina and her captor had been spotted in the city. But the two friends had not found her. Again they gave up hope, and again they heard a rumour of their quarry, still in the city, but again they could not find them.
This happened over and over and, while Aiden and Kae-Os continued their seemingly impossible hunt, the snow melted and spring came to the land. It was now early June and summer was starting. By now one would have thought that they would have found Nina, but Port Jozef, apart from being the third largest Royal Knight city, was also a huge crime pit. Though the king had tried numerous times to squash the evil in the city, crime still thrived. What soldiers were stationed there did little save keep an eye on the Dragon Master border. One could hide in the city and never be found.
“I don’t get,” said Aiden, as he and Kae-Os walked through the streets, stopping now and again to ask shop keeps, bartenders and the like about Nina. “I can vaguely understand why we haven’t found Nina yet, but why would her captor still be here. He was obviously ninjarin, so why stay here?”
“I don’t know,” replied Kae-Os. “But I suspect he is waiting for something, a pickup perhaps. Maybe he received orders and now has to wait here for something or someone.”
“Yeah, but two months?”
“It does seem a long time, but remember, part of Ninjara is a fair distance away. Mayhap something got delayed.”
Aiden considered this. “Only the Ninjarin isle is really far off. The north most part of Ninjara is separated from this land only by a short stretch of land ruled by the Dragon Masters.” He paused. “You think he is from the isle?”
“I think yes, but have no proof,” said the elf. “I feel somehow that this is connected with our adventure there. The ninjarin was a burakku shinobi, a supposedly mythical person. And on the isle we met several more of those people who aren’t supposed to exist outside of tales. Coincidence? Maybe, but unlikely.”
“You think perhaps they only took Nina because she was close to us?”
Kae-Os said, “Maybe, though I could be completely wrong. We know of no connection between Cloak and any Ninjarins, save the burakku shinobi and that fact that he worked for the Daimyo there on occasion. Still, it does seem unlikely that Nina’s kidnapping and our adventure there are completely unrelated. If I were to hazard a guess, I would say that Cloak either was an ally to the Daimyo or asked to borrow his shinobi to help kill us, making the assumption of course that the shinobi were the Daimyo’s, and now the shinobi has taken Nina in order to avenge the ones we killed. As for why he is still waiting in Port Jozef I can’t really say. Perhaps he sent a message to others requesting a pickup. The time it would take for a letter to reach Boranis Dracis, and for his pickup to come here could take to months, especially with spring weather.”
“Hmmmm,” pondered Aiden. “I wonder what sort of pickup it will be?”
A league west of the city, floating in the sea, was the answer to Aiden’s question. Seven great ships lay there, waiting for the word to finish their long voyage.
“I despise this city.” Commented Sir Theodore. The Knight stood just before the gates of Port Jozef with twenty men behind him.
“Who doesn’t?” asked Sir Valric beside him. “Everyone hates this place.”
He and Theodore were here to assist Aiden and Kae-Os. When the two had left Castleton two months ago, the knights had assumed that they would pursue their quarry out of Royal Knight lands. Then, a week ago, word had reached them that the two were in Port Jozef, and had been for quite awhile. Seeing that they could still give some aid, Theodore had quickly traveled to the city. He had brought only enough men to protect his party from the unsavoury types one finds in Port Jozef.
The group had not walked long when they found Aiden and Kae-Os. The two explained all that had happened since they parted.
“If I had known that you would stay here for so long, I would have followed you two directly from Castleton.”
“Better late than never.” Said Aiden. “At least with these extra men we will have the power to seize any vessel that may come to pick them up. Till then though we may as well continue to search the city.”
The ships had set sail. All seven of them were packed with soldiers, a hundred a piece. And on the front of each of vessel there was a large ballista. As the ships drew near the city, the weapons were loaded and torches held ready to light them. The ships sailed into the harbour. The commander of the fleet gave the order, and the ballistae were lit and fired. Seven fiery missiles streaked into the city. Port Jozef, being the city it was, was not very well kept and its buildings were falling apart. When the missiles hit them, they immediately burst into flame. As people rushed over to see what had happened, seven more missiles were launched, aimed at different targets. As the third round of missiles was launched, so too did the boats set out to the shore. In each were eight men.
Upon reaching land, six jumped out of each while the remaining two sped back to the ships to reload. By the time all seven hundred soldiers had reached the city, ten rounds had been fired from the ballistae and large parts of the city were in flames. The soldiers, once all assembled, broke into groups of twenty and began to move into the city, with the only clear intent to cause as much destruction as possible. Everywhere they went the soldiers threw torches into buildings, threw fuel onto existing fires and killed everyone they saw. All the while burning missiles crashed into the city.
Sir Theodore, upon seeing these events, spoke to Aiden. “Your on your own now I’m afraid. I have a duty to the country. With that he dropped his visor and signalled his men to follow him. They headed down toward the water.
Aiden looked at Kae-Os. “I have a feeling this has something to do with our friend.”
The elf nodded. “Perhaps this is how he plans to leave the city, either with these invaders or under the cover of their attack. Either way I think he plans to leave by water.”
“I agree.” The two then followed the route Theodore had taken.
The fire had now spread past the waterfront to inland part of the city. There was now no chance of stopping it. All that the citizens of the city could do was head for the gates. Unfortunately, so were the soldiers. Cutting and burning their way through the city, the invaders had made their way to the main gates. There they stopped and proceeded to kill anybody that tried to escape the inferno they were now stuck in.
Theodore saw this and ordered his men to the east, and largest, gate. There the tides of screaming people were held back by sixty of the enemy soldiers. Getting close to them, Theodore saw who they were, or at least who they appeared to be. The soldiers were not ninjarin that was plain. Their armour and weapons were of Black Knight style. On their shields though, instead of the Black Knight dragon, were winged serpents, but in the same design and colour of the dragon.
Theodore was out numbered three to one, but if there were to be any chance of saving any people, they would have to try and take out the soldiers. He looked at Valric. “If we don’t make it, I just want to say it has been a great honour fighting beside you.”
Valric grasped Theodore’s arm. “The same.”
The two and the twenty men behind them then drew their swords and charge the men holding the gate.
I build, therefore I am.
Brave words coming from a guy called grapenuts.