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Hello everyone, this is Asclepius, with the fourth chapter of a wonderful story from Belladonna Rose, entitled
Black Rose Chronicles
Background music by Smartsound
Stepping through the other side of the rift the cloudy air cleared from her sight. She could see trees and the strong smell of smoke and death filled her nostrils. Looking around her she could see lush green grass and trees, but the smell was overwhelming. Bella could even feel the evil in the place. Deep in her bones. She had felt this many a time before. No stranger to danger or death. Ahead she saw the palisade walls surrounding the area. This must be Solace Bridge.
In the distance she could hear many sounds. Some familiar forest sounds. Birds, squirrels and even the sound of a bear in the distance. But that moaning sound was different. As she walked towards the gate of the palisade she saw something lumbering towards her. WHAT IS THAT?
Undead. Zombie. Oh great. She looked about for something to use as a weapon. There on the side of the path was a branch of a tree. Hoisting it up and taking a stance she waited for the thing to come closer. The smell was hideous. As the zombie came closer it reached for her. Pulling her arms back she swung the branch at the zombie. It took the brunt of the hit full force but kept coming. Oh great. This should be fun. She continued to hit the creature and finally after a few more hits it fell to the ground.
She looked down at the poor thing and realized it was wearing the remnants of what was probably the local inhabitants. So sad that this had to happen to a human.
Walking away again from the corpse she approached the gate. On the other side she could see an older man standing guard. Staff in hand as if waiting for something to attack him. She pushed up the lever to the gate and slowly it opened. Rushing inside she was met again by one of those zombies.
But to her surprise the old man came forth and helped her fight. Several of these creatures came forward and between the two of them they put them to rest.
“Thank the stars you arrived. Not sure how well I would have faired against that many of those things. The bridge has been overrun with those foul creatures for near a fort night. And the other undead things lumbering around as well. It has been a sad time indeed.”
Wiping the muck off her tunic from the fight she looked at the older man. He was a portly fellow but was very well trained in defence. This was a good thing.
“Good day to you stranger. I am Edvard. I was told to expect someone of your stature and here ye be.”
Bella smiled softly at the old man. Looking at the destruction of this place was more than she had expected. It was truly a battle for sure. And from the looks of things the battle did not go well.
“Hello good sir. I am Belladonna Rose. I was sent here by Arabella and the Oracle.”
“Aye. Yes. Arabella. She is a fine one that one. She has been busy of late bringing other Outlanders to the realm. Doing service for Lord British she does. And I am thankful for you being here.”
“I do not know what is expected of me here but I will do my best. Perhaps you have seen others of late. I am worried about the crew from my ship and my friend Jack. Maybe they passed this way.”
“Ah. Alas many have traveled through here and I sent them on to continue their journey as I will you.” He quickly started moving about gathering up a quiver of arrows and the long-forgotten bow on the ground. Approaching Bella he handed them to her. She looked at him with concern.
“Here..take these. I dare say you will need them more than I. That tree branch will not help you
much with the other things out there to fight. When you see a weapon on the ground pick it up and use it if need be. Or sell it for gold in the nearest town. Fair to say I do not have much else to give you. Advise and instruction is the best I can do.”
Bella took the bow and quiver and a dagger she found on the ground. Pulling the quiver onto her back she looked about. Off to the right a slow burning building caught her attention. She could hear the faint sound of a child crying.
“Quick Master Edvard. That child needs help.”
“Ah….there she is. I knew there was one child left but could not find her. She must have been hiding inside that building. Hurry Avatar….rescue the child. I will meet you at the other gate and we will get her to safety.”
Turning on heel Bella ran to the building. Pushing the broken door open she saw a soldier dead on the floor. His shining sword at his side and a crumpled note in his hand. She took both and headed up the stairway where she heard the whimpers of a child.
As she went up the stairs an armed skeleton crashed through the far door. Still holding the dead man’s sword she quickly spun and slashed at the skeleton. Shattered bone clattered on the floor. That was easy enough. Leaping up the stairs two at a time she reached the landing only to see another of those skeletons making its way towards the child. Sword in hand she jumped between them and began slicing at the monster. This one was not that easy. The clanging of swords being crossed seemed to vibrate in her ears and throughout the room. Stumbling back a bit she regained her footing and lunged forward. Surprise caught her as her sword was wedged in the ribs of the skeleton. With a twist and a yank she freed it and the bones clattered to the floor.
Taking a breath she looked around only to see the child peering over the top of the bed where she had been trying to hide. Bella reached a hand out and the girl ran into her arms crying. Holding her close for a moment she pulled her face up to look into her eyes. Fear was obvious but there was something else there as well.
“What is your name child?” The girl looked at her with tearfilled eyes. “Charlotte Gray is my name and I want to go home.” Bella took the child by the hand and led her down the stairs and out the doorway. “Come along then. We will see about getting you home.”
Across the courtyard she could see Edvard standing by the gate. Holding the child with one hand and the sword with another she made her way across. Edvard stood solemnly. Looking down she saw another guard. He too had met his fate with these creatures. He too had a sword like the other. She reached down and took it as well. Sliding it through her belt she nodded to Edvard.
Reaching up he pushed the lever to open the gate and they proceeded to walk across the bridge. Nothing came after them this time. But she was ever watchful just the same. At the end of the bridge she looked up the hill. There she saw the rift. That must be the way they were heading.
“Master Edvard…..the rift. Should we head there and get out of this forsaken place?”
“Nay child. That is not the way right now. The stars are not aligned correctly. And I have no idea where that rift would lead us. You must take the girl to Soltown. Her mother Abigail is there.”
At the sound of her mother’s name the girl perked up a bit. She squeezed Bella’s hand eager to go to her mother. Bella looked down and smiled. “Yes. I will take you.” Edvard moved towards the edge of the road and down a short path was a small boat. He motioned for Bella to go ahead of him.
“Quickly Avatar. Take the child and make your way up river. You will be in Soltown by dawn. Tis not safe to tarry here. Darkness brings the creatures out in numbers. You both will be better off than here.” Looking across the darkening land he looked back. Bella put the girl in the boat and started to climb in when Edvard took her by the shoulder.
“Take this book and give to Captain Stanley. It is an accounting of what has happened here and such. He will make the decision of what to do next. Perhaps he can get troops from Ardoris to come and help clear the area. And that sword and note you have be sure to give them to the loved ones. The sword will goes to Emily in Soltown. That note to a lady in Celestis. If you happen to make your way there…Go now Avatar. Darkness grows.”
As she pushed away from the bank and started to row Edvard yelled out to her.
“By what name doth thee go by Avatar. So I will know if ever we meet again.”
Cupping her hands to shout back.. ”Belladonna Rose is my name.”
Echoes From the Caverns