Kaitlin turns to the Dark Lord and then back toward the fighting. She feels helpless, hopeless, and confused. Her magic depleted, she stands wearily, disgusted at the carnage.
Tears spring to her eyes as she attempts to keep from retching. Her right hand lightly grips the highly polished cinnabar and ebony staff she carries, and her other hand searches her pocket for the leather bag of red Elfstones Walker Boh had given her some years before.
"I just want the fighting to stop," she muttered sullenly, "but the end looks to be nowhere in sight . . . "
"You're acting like too much of a pacifist, Kait--I don't think you'll ever appreciate all the trouble you like starting." Eric winked at her.
"Me . . .? Trouble? You can't be serious--"
"I'm serious, Druidess. I'm not blind."
Kaitlin blushed in fury. "Are you accusing me of starting *this* war?" Her hand tightened around the staff, and it glimmered faintly.
The Dark Lord took a step forward. "Maybe not starting it, no . . . but you hand a hand in it, Kaitlin. Don't play the innocent so much. Lies were never becoming of you." He frowned.
The Druidess matched the expression, and silently hoped she would not be forced to reveal anything now . . . "Don't be a fool. I'm not causing any trouble. I'm not lying. We're allies. I don't need to take this from you."
The Dark Lord turned away, giving Kaitlin only a sideways glance. She fumed silently, less angry and more than a little worried. What did he know? How could he have found out? Kaitlin thought to herself.
Kaitlin planted her staff firmly in the ground before her. "I'm feeling better now. Our troops could use a little boost." The staff flared, almost angrily, darkly. "Ke triamve canalis vicius," she whispered calmly. White light sprang upward from the staff, exploded, and settled in over the fighting men and women. Pains were eased, spirits lightened of those who fought on their side.
"I am not a soldier, I am just a minstrel boy,
And my duty to this army is to sing them songs of joy,
To keep their hearts in the battle, to keep their minds from the fray;
And I am not afraid to die
Kaitlin sang softly a song she remembered from her homeland. Her mind drifted away from the worries that had now beset her.
Sky H Ainsworth
As the energy surges through the air, Bacca awakens as it splashes against him and is absorbed by his body. Blinking his eyes open, he sees three figures approaching him.
Steadying himself against the tree, Bacca readies his swords, but sees Lady Paladin running up to him.
"Bacca?!" cried Lady. "Are you okay?" She said the last as she reached the warrior and grabbed his arms. Bacca gave a soft cry and Lady Paladin moved her hand from his wound.
"I am fine, my lady," said Bacca with a weak smile. He coughed softly.
Straightening his body, Bacca looked at Jaana and Sephiroth.
"Are reinforcements coming?" asked Bacca, the strength returning to his voice.
"Reinforcements?" replied Jaana. "No. We came to get you out of here."
Bacca's eyes narrowed in anger.
"Damnit, why doesn't the Dark Lord do anything? Why is he sitting there and watching all these people dying?" asked Bacca facing the direction of the keep.
"We have an advantage now," said Bacca. "The humans are out of the way and the moogles are meeting the orcs. I don't know if they will engage each other, but at least there will be confusion in their ranks enough to let us press some advantage.
"If we fight the orcs now, we will press them back against the moogles, or at least hold them in their position long enough for some damage to be done. This will keep the moogles from swarming into the valley and give us some time. This is the only way into the valley and we can't loose control of it. Even the Dark Lord should realize that.
"If anything, we need to give our men time to flee to the keep and recover."
"Okay," said Lady. "Jaana and Sephiroth will organize a retreating action and you can come back to the keep with me."
"No," said Bacca. He turned and faced Lady.
"NO? What do you mean no?!" exclaimed Lady Paladin. "You are injured majorly. You can't fight on anymore. You must have slaughtered close to a hundred orcs and moogles by now. How can you go on? You must come back with us now, otherwise you will most certainly die."
"Lady," said Bacca. He took her shoulders in his hands and smiled down at her. It was a warm smile and his face softened from the hard mask it had taken on. "I am fighting not only for these men, but for you."
Lady Paladin felt her heart melt.
"If we loose here, we may not get another chance. I do not know where reinforcements can come from now. We are surrounded on all sides and our only rescue can be from space, it would seem. I need you to help me, my lady. I must protect you and the others from the moogles. If I fail in doing that, then all may be lost."
Lady Paladin placed her hands on Bacca sides and looked deeply into his eyes. "Bacca...."
"Cast Cure4 and Life3 on me and I will be fine," said Bacca. "If I can just slow these guys down enough that reinforcements can come, then we will be safe and I can rest. When we have succeeded here, I will come back to you, my lady...."
The two warriors stared into each other's eyes and held each other.
Bacca leaned down and kissed Lady Paladin on her lips. He felt the smoothness of the skin and smelled her sweet essence. As they passionately kissed, Bacca's hands went to encircle the woman. His left hand held the back of the head and his right held her lower back, bringing her body closer to his.
Lady Paladin moved her hands around and placed them on Bacca's back, drawing him closer to her. Even though fabric and metal separated their flesh, the warmth and beating of their hearts could be felt. After a moment, Bacca pulled away.
"I will return to you, my lady," said Bacca in low tones.
He stepped away from Lady and readied his weapons. Slowly, but surely, Lady Paladin raised her hands and cast the two spells. A small angel appeared and touched the top of Bacca's head.
Stepping forward and taking Lady's hands, Bacca held them up and kissed the back of each. "Help heal those who need it. I will be fine." Giving her hands one last squeeze, Bacca released them and turned to Jaana and Sephiroth. "If I take the right flank, can you hold the
"Yes," said Jaana, a little overcome by what she had just seen. She had been holding Sephiroth's hand the whole while and squeezed it tighter now.
"Good," said Bacca. "Get together what men you can and try to keep the orcs from advancing too much. But do not be afraid to give ground. Now is the time to try to save our skins, okay?"
Turning to Lady Paladin, Bacca smiled at her again.
"Take care, my lady. I will see you soon." Bacca then turned and headed for the battle, calling at soldiers he saw and rallying them for the work ahead. He coughed a little after each yell.
Lady licked her lips and was greeted with an unpleasant taste. She looked at her hands and saw on the backs, where Bacca had kissed her, a little blood.
"Oh no," said Lady, panic edging her voice, "his lungs are bleeding. Damn you, Bacca! Come back here!"
* * *
As Bacca came up to the orc front with soldiers at his back, he had them spread out and ready for the labor at hand.
"Remember, the idea is to hold them back," said Bacca in a loud, commanding tone. "We don't need heroes now, just live soldiers."
"We are ready, sir," called out Burns. "We are ready to die for you!" This was taken up with a cheer from the rest of the soldiers.
Bacca closed his eyes and smiled slightly, then lowered his head. "Do not say that, you fools," said Bacca in a whisper. In a louder voice, "Thank you, thank you all. Now prepares yourselves."
The orcs were thrown into confusion by the humans escape and subsequent encounter with the moogles. But they began reorganizing and heading for the retreating humans. Seeing Bacca, blood-stained and panting before them, made some of them halt, but the braver, and stupider, or the orcs kept moving forward.
The two forces met and the clash of metal rang loud over the battlefield. Bacca, of course, held a prominent position, taking down one orc after another.
The wounds on Bacca's arms, legs, and body had healed, or at least the internal damage had be taken care of. The wounds on the outside had been cauterized and blood was flowing through the warriors body again without too much trouble. But the fatigue was still there. His arms, having a chance to rest, were still sore, but ready to carry on the battle.
As the orcs came forward and were cut down or forced back, Bacca would give a warcry after a every few orcs. This reassured the men behind Bacca that they would make it. Their courage was kept high.
After a while, the orcs eventually did stop coming. Many of them pulled back and reformed into a large body. In their absence, a unit of white moogles marched, led by one with it's coat smudged.
As this group neared, and Bacca had a chance to rest, he finally made out the form of Mog leading the troop.
"He looks pissed," said Bacca.
Indeed, Mog was very upset. Having evacuated the stomach of the Tyranosaurus, Mog was not happy with the fighting and how the human unit had managed to escape.
"Are you the one they call Mog?" Bacca yelled at the moogles. After reaching a distance, the moogle stopped and the leader responded.
"I am. Who are you?"
"I am Bacca, High Lord of All That Kicks Ass. And I have a request of you?"
"Oh," replied Mog, "name it?"
"Challenge me to a duel," said Bacca with a smile. "I am unhappy with your antics and wish to end the horrible life you are leading."
Mog shook his head at the warrior. "And you think the life you are leading is any better, slaughtering people left and right and savoring in their deaths?"
Bacca did not answer. "Look at it this way: Whoever wins will deal a terrible loss to the other side. What says you?"
"I'm ready, little man," said Mog. He made sure his spear and buckler were ready and advanced forward.
"But sir, you are in no shape to take on that moogle," said Burns as Bacca advanced.
"I will rid the world of his malignant presence once and for all," said Bacca. He advanced and the two combatants met midway.
Bacca bowed. Mog scratched his crotch.
Readying his swords, Bacca advanced slowly. Mog readied his short spear and advanced.
As the two neared, Mog unleashed a quick flurry of swings of his spear, the long blade glinting in the late evening sun. Blocking to either side, Bacca kept his swords at parrying distances.
The speed of the moogle was amazing, but Bacca was much stronger then the short moogle.
Blocking the spear on his left side, Bacca swung down his long, white sword onto Mog's head, but was blocked by Mog's buckler. Using one hand, the moogle brought the spear around and tried to slice down, but Bacca managed to step back and parry with his short, black sword.
Bring his long sword in low from the right, Bacca's attack was blocked by Mog's parry and reversal, which brought the sword to the ground and left Bacca open. The moogle did not waste a chance, but brought the spear up and cut the length of Bacca's right thigh.
Grunting in pain, Bacca brought his anger to the fore and began swinging wildly. The moogle backed away slowly, blocking with his spear.
Bacca stopped and retreated a few steps and recovered his bearings. Mog advanced slowly. When in range, the moogle made a lunge and was about to bring the spear back to feint, but Bacca brought his long sword down on the spear, bringing it to the ground and the blades catching. In this moment of weakness, Bacca swung his short sword low.
Mog, however, used all his might and lifted the spear up, forcing Bacca back. The short sword, though, continued forward and caught the moogle in the crotch.
The moogle erupted in a howl of pain. At this, the orcs charged.
Bacca, seeing the huge beasts approach, distanced himself from Mog. At the same time, the moogles and humans advanced.
The orcs were on the scene first and a huge one came up to Bacca. The warrior, not quite prepared as the pain in his leg throbbed, drove his long sword into the chest of the orc, but this merely made the creature upset and it tried to bring its war club down on Bacca.
The brown-haired warrior deflected the strike slightly, taking it on the shoulder and brought his short sword up to cut the orc's face. The orc did not back away, but fell forward as other orcs reached the place and began pushing each other around. The large humanoid fell atop of Bacca, who could not move in time.
The humans reached the spot and confronted the orcs.
"Bacca has fallen, we must save him!" yelled Burns.
The humans drove forward to the spot where Bacca had fallen. The crash of battle rang hard all over.