DragonFlames Posted June 13, 2020 Author Share Posted June 13, 2020 Eight chapters already. Time flies... CYOA - The Dying Kingdom Chapter 8: Rescue "Where are the villagers you captured?", you ask the brigand. "And who is your leader? Where are they?!?" "W-We keep our prisoners in the former storage hall...", he says, his voice still shaking with fear. "It's heavily guarded, though..." "And where is that hall?" You threaten him with your staff. The muscled ruffian flinches upon seeing your weapon. "It's down those stairs over there..." He turns his head toward a tunnel to your right. "And what of your leader?", Melissa asks again. "Where are they?" "T-The boss is in a room at the other exit", the brigand explains. "B-But you have to go through nearly all of our men to get to him!" He musters up the courage for condescending grin. "You don't stand a chance with just the four of you!" "We'll see about that", says John cheerfully as your group begins to walk away, having every intention of keeping the bound brigand here. Suddenly, Melissa stops in her tracks and turns around. "One last question: Why are you doing this?" The man stares at her. "Why did you resort to joining a human trafficking ring?", she asks again. "Because... I had nothing left", the man replies solemnly. "My... my village was poor from the beginning, but all of a sudden, roughly 21 years ago, the fields suddenly dried up. We couldn't harvest anything anymore. We asked the king for help, but he couldn't do anything, because he was busy waging war agains the eastern duchies. Then... during the winter, most of our folk just starved to death. I was one of the few survivors". "Then let me guess: your boss found you and took you in, right?", asks John. The man nods. "I was a little kid back then", he says. "I... I didn't know where else to go!" "And you expect us to feel sorry for you now?" The mercenary shakes his head. "Did you even for a moment think about what you did here?!? You kidnapped people and ruined their lives!" He readies his weapon, but is cut off by Melissa. "Easy, John, easy", she says calmly, then she turns toward the bound ruffian. "You were desperate and saw no other way out, I understand that. As Princess of Vales, I take responsibility that your village did not get the help it needed. But your circumstances do not excuse your actions. You understand that, do you not?" The man contemplates your sister's words. Then he nods. "What will you do to me now?", he asks. "We will leave you here and take you with us once we've finished our business here", says Melissa and begins to walk off. "You'll have to face the consequences of what you have done when the time comes. I won't kill you now". "Why not? I'll die for what I've done during my time here, anyway, so why not end it now?" "Because killing someone incapable of defending themselves without a trial is no longer Vales' way", Melissa replies. 'No longer'. You don't know why, but those words send a shiver down your spine. You walk down the stairs leading to the lower floor where the prisoners are kept according to the ruffian you questioned. The stairs are made of old wood and time and humidity have done a number on them. They creak with each step and you pay extra close attention to every step you take. The caves are very dark and even with the torches to light up the area, you cannot see the bottom until you actually reach it after what feels like hours later. You can hear water in the distance. A waterfall, from the sound of it. As you walk around a corner, John suddenly grabs you and pulls you back. "Whoa, there, little lady! Do you want us to get captured?" Seeing your questioning face, he points forward. "Look there". You follow his pointing finger and see fourteen men standing in a room in front of a large metal door. There are wooden barrels, crates, and tables here, most likely this is some kind of living quarters for the guards here. Two of the ruffians are playing cards at one of the tables, while the others look rather bored standing around. "These guys aren't very smart, are they?", Finley asks. "I mean... they are focusing their entire forces on just two places. They'd have found us already if they were a little more spread out". "If they're all like that other guy, they're probably not professionals", says John. "But look at these numbers. Fourteen people... that's going to be a doozy, isn't it?" "Missy, can't you defeat them easily?", you ask. "Theoretically, I could, but look around", she answers. "If I used my powers here, I could hit those support beams by accident". "Yeah, better avoid that", John agrees with a nod. "I'd rather not die in a cave-in, thank you very much!" "Then what do we do?", Finley asks. "Beat 'em up the old-fashioned way?", John suggests. "The four of us together are no slouches in battle, even without the Purple Tempest's fancy Sword Magic". "Alright, fine. We'll fight", Melissa finally concedes. "But be careful, and guard each others' backs like we agreed on". "Do we capture these guys, too?", John asks. "I would like to say yes, but... we are outnumbered here", says Melissa. "I am afraid we cannot afford to hold back". "Alright, off the deep-end it is!" Looking forward to the fight, John pulls out his axe. Finley readies an arrow to shoot at one of the brigands before he has a chance to act. As he falls to the ground, clutching his punctured arm, the other brigands raise their weapons and come rushing in the direction the arrow came from. Without any delay, Melissa and John rush the enemy, with you and Finley behind them. Your childhood friend stays behind, pelting those who attack Melissa with arrows, while you hold the enemy off of John's back. Melissa and Finey take on the left side of the room, while the mercenary and yourself take care of the right. The sound of battle almost overwhelms you. After a while, everything becomes a blur of noises. The screams of your enemies as they attack and die, the clashing of weapons, the stench of blood permeating through the air... all these new impressions at once as your own body overflows with adrenaline. You regain your focus just in time to notice that there was a brigand sneaking up on John, his club ready to strike. "Not happening!", you shout and bring your staff down on the attacker's head, knocking him out instantly. "Heh, thanks, little lady!", the mercenary smiles at you. "It's nothing", you shake your head as you look at the man you just struck down. You are sure that he died from the impact. This is the first time you have ever actually killed someone. Before you can properly process and come to terms with that fact, another brigand comes rushing, axe raised over his head, eyes bloodshot, but John's own weapon delivers a swift end to him. "Thank you", you say sincerely. "Just returning the favor, little lady", the mercenary grins at you. "But be careful, there's still some left. Don't go droppin' your guard now!" "Right", you nod firmly. At the end of the battle, you look around. Fourteen bodies are strewn on the floor, bleeding from many wounds, some have arrows still sticking out of them. "We did it", John wipes some sweat from his forehead. "Gotta say, that was easier than I expected". "Just goes to show that we're a good team", says Finley with a smile. "True... we worked very well together", Melissa agrees, heavily panting. "Missy, are you okay?", you ask. "I'm fine, don't worry about me, Sophia". She gives you a reassuring smile, but it is clear as day that she is very tired. "You sure? You look like you're about to keel over", John says. "I'm okay, really", Melissa sighs. "There is nothing to worry about". "Well, if you say so...". The mercenary shrugs. Finley meanwhile checks the tabe two of the brigands were sitting at. "I found a key!", he calls to you. "Maybe we can use this to open the door over there". He points to the large metal door on the other side of the room. "Only one way to find out". John takes the key from him and indeed, the large door opens. A very loud, shrill creaking noise that almost deafens you echoes throughout the tunnels and you find yourselves in a large hall with many prison cells distributed over multiple floors, connected by wooden planks and ladders. In the middle is a lake, formed from a large stream of water that falls steadily through a hole in the ceiling. Despite the large number of cells, only one of them, one near the entrance, actually has people in it. There are a total of ten people in that cell, five boys and five girls, all of them match the age range of the missing villagers. "Who are you?", asks one of the older boys as you approach the cell. "Are you here to take us away?" "In a sense, yeah", John confirms. "I'm guessing you're the kids that went missing from the forest village near here?" "Yes, but... how do you know about us?", one younger girl asks. "We're here to save you", says Finley as he uses the key he found to open the bars. "You're free to return home now". "Thank you!", immediately, the prisoners get up and come rushing out. They have incredibly pale skin and are slightly gaunt. "We thought we would die in here...", says a young boy, his voice shaking. "Thank you for coming to save us!" "Are there any others like you here?", you ask. "Yes, there is a girl in the cell right next to ours", says one of the girls and points to the neighboring cell. There, you can see a young girl dressed in quite elaborate and colorful clothing, staring at you with pleading eyes. "Hey, um... Can you maybe help me out, too?" she asks. You surmise she must be roughly around the age of the former prisoners. "Why didn't you say anything earlier?", you ask her. "I... uh, didn't want to interrupt you guys, I guess", she smiles sheepishly. "Anyways, I'd like to get away from here, too, if it's not too much trouble". "Of course not", says Finley and unlocks the door. "Thanks a million!", the girl says and happily skips out of the cell. You take note of her rather bright-colored clothing. It was teal with some green highlights, and the fabric seemed like nothing you've seen before. Though you do feel a strange sense of familiarity when you look at it. "Are there any more people here?", John then asks. "The others have all been taken away somewhere", one of the girls informs you. "They're all gone somewhere..." "Taken by whom?", Melissa asks, but the girl shakes her head. "We don't know", an older boy answers for her. "But... when we got sent here, there were many other people here, too". "'Sent'?", Finley's eyes widen in shock. "What do you mean, 'sent'?" The former prisoners keep quiet. "Maybe we shouldn't ask them too many questions", you suggest. "They must be tired". "I want to go home now...", another particularly young boy speaks up. "Please... can we go home now?" "Of course. We'll take you home, I promise". Melissa offers the youths a reassuring smile, upon which their faces light up. "Are you from the village, too?", you ask the brightly-dressed girl. "No, she actually came to save us first", one of the boys says. "But then she got captured, too". "Yeah... sucks to be me, I guess". The girl slumps over with a sigh. "But seriously, those idiots were a tough crowd. I could avoid them for a while, but then I tripped and fell... And to make matters worse, I lost my lockpick, too!" "Your lockpick?" You look at the girl, who gets startled. "D-Did I say 'lockpick'?!? I meant... um... my... professional door-opening-device... yeah..." She laughs nervously. "So, you're a Thief, then?", John asks. "I prefer the term 'Spy'", the girl answers. "Anyhow, thanks for saving me! I'll be off then!" "Wait", says Melissa. "I am Melissa von Vales, princess to the Valessian kingdom. This is my younger sister Sophia, and these two are Finley and John. What is your name?" "You can call me Jenny, if you want", the girl cheerfully introduces herself. "Nice to meetcha!" "Nice to meet you, too, Jenny", you give the a friendly greeting. "But... why did you ask, princess?", Jenny stares at Melissa with a puzzled look. "I'm sure she wants you to join us", says John. "The thing is, after we save these kids, we want to take down the leader of this joint. I think someone with your talents could be useful to us". "Um... I'd rather get my tailfeathers out of here really quick, but you did save me, so I guess I owe you one, huh?". Jenny contemplates the offer. "Sophia, what do you think?", Melissa asks. "Should we let Jenny come with us?" "Um..." Let Jenny join?Choice 1: YesChoice 2: No Whew, this one was a bit tough due to weather and health stuff, but I hope you enjoyed it regardless. As always, vote for your preferred option in the poll and I'll see you in the next chapter! Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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