Up and at Them Up and at Them
Sky H Ainsworth
Bacca awoke, his head spinning.
Coming out of his room, Bacca was glad he had stopped himself from drinking too much wine. He smiled.
Being with Lady Paladin last night had made him feel relaxed.
Holding her had made Bacca feel content. The images would not come to him. Now, when Bacca stood against the door post, he closed his eyes. The images did not come at first, but they eventually did. They did not scare Bacca as much, but they still unnerved him.
Opening his eyes, Bacca looked about. The guard stood at attention and did make eye contact with Bacca.
"Anything to report?"
"No, sir," said the soldier.
"Very well." Bacca walked down the hallway and down to the mess hall.
After having eaten his morning oatmeal and having a lot of coffee, he felt ready to do his job.
Making his rounds, Bacca at first inspected the original keep. Checking in with superior officers and inquiring about their status. Later, Bacca went to the army camping around the keep.
The army of Lance Henriksens had formed something of a human wall dwarfing the Dark Lord's keep. They camped on all four sides of the structure. The had dug a trench and palisade on the outer rim for protection. Guards stood patrolling along the mound of earth and further
out beyond the trench.
On one side of the keep, the clash of metal could regularly be heard, as well as the occasional yell and oath.
Bacca walked over to the training ground and saw the soldiers at work. A few swordmasters from the original human garrisons placed at the keep oversaw the training of the soldiers. Several groups of soldiers trained in different formations. Some held wooden weapons, others metal.
The result was that soldiers switched from learning sword techniques and katas with metal swords, to fighting one-on-one with dull wooden weapons, to fighting in groups. Both new soldiers and old were in the groups and they all seemed to be enjoying the training.
Morale was good and Bacca was happy with this.
Kaitlin approached Bacca and stood next to him. Bacca looked over and smiled at her.
"How are you this morning?" asked the High Lord.
"I am very well," replied Kaitlin. "And you?"
"I could not be better," answered Bacca. He was lying somewhat but his dinner with Lady last night was still riding high in his mind.
"I have information on our dark friend," said Kaitlin. She stood next to Bacca, her hands in front of her, clasped together, her body rigid. Bacca wondered what was her reaction to the weapons training.
"I scanned him secretly and had him followed around and to all appearances and investigations, he is a dark moogle and he seems genuine about the cause. So, there should not be too much to worry about.
"Okay," said Bacca.
A man swordfighting with the wooden swords yelled out, "Medic!"
A with a white arm band on either arm ran forward. The soldier had injured fingers while practicing with a spear with another soldier. He had worn heavy leather gloves, but his opponent had swung hard and connected.
The medic examined the fingers diligently and cast Cure1 on them. The soldier flexed his fingers and checked his hand. Satisfied, both soldier and medic stood up and went back to their business.
"How much magic do those medics know?" asked Kaitlin.
"They are level 4 clerics," said Bacca. "They know up to Cure3 and Life1. Not much, but when it comes down to it, they are all we got and the best thing on the battlefield."
"Where are we going to march to when we leave?" asked Kaitlin.
"I am not exactly sure," said Bacca. He gave the druid a slight smile. "Truth to tell, I just wanted to present a strong front of leadership so that people did not dwell on things and instead prepared to face our enemy.
"We do not know where Mog is. He pulled back and scouts are afraid of getting to close. But we do know that he is far away by now, and still going. I wonder where he is going? Another world even?
"Anyways, I will ask our top people and we shall see what we should do."
"Okay," said Kaitlin. She wandered off after a while. Bacca thought there was something strange with her now, but could not quite place it.
Kaitlin walked down the hall toward Jaana and Sephiroth's room. She sighed. Bacca was even more clueless than she had originally thought. How could he not know where Mog was? He was commanding an army of hundreds of thousands of troops that ravaged every city they came across. They left a trail of destruction that spanned for miles. How could he not know that?
She stood in front of Jaana's door, debating whether or not to knock. She was mildly irritated that neither of them were up yet. It was already early afternoon, and she knew that neither of them had left the room since last night. "They keep half the keep up all night with their noise, and then they sleep all day....." she mumbled under her breath. She knocked and waited. There was no response. She knocked again.
"Jaana....Sephiroth....time to get up!!!"
Still no response.
"Okay," she said to herself, "that's it!" She grasped the door handle and turned it. It was unlocked. She pushed it open and walked into the room, hoping she wouldn't be interrupting anything. "And too bad if I am..." she thought, "they need to get a hold of their hormones, anyway." She looked at the bed, half expecting to be totally grossed out. It was empty. She stepped forward, puzzled.
"Hello?" she called out.
There was no response.
A voice responded from the other side of the room. "What...."
Kaitlin turned toward the window. Jaana was standing behind the gauze curtains, looking out of the window.
"Oh, you're up."
Jaana didn't turn around. "Yes." The wind was blowing the curtains gently, as the afternoon sun streamed in. She looked out onto the stone gardens below. She wished that she was back in her cottage. There was a nice view there, the river was close by, and it smelled like trees, not orcs. Her stomach turned.
"Where's Sephiroth?" Kaitlin asked, puzzled.
Jaana closed her eyes. "He's gone"
"Gone? Gone where?"
She turned to face Kaitlin, not speaking. She couldn't bear to think about it, much less utter the words to another being. Kaitlin looked puzzled. Where could he have gone? Kaitlin's eyes widened as the answer came to her.
"Oh my god....."
"He didn't go...."
Jaana closed her eyes.
"He's closed his mind to me now. I don't know what he's doing....."
"I know exactly what he's doing" Kaitlin thought to herself, quickly pushing the image out of her mind. She quickly changed the subject.
"Bacca's thinking of marching to Crystal Peak...."
"It doesn't matter where we go."
"I know, but still, we should have some input in this."
"Kaitlin, he will find his destiny wherever we go. Location has no relevance." She turned back toward the window, wrapping her cloak around her. She shivered.
"Jaana, you've *got* to snap out of this." Kaitlin scolded, "we have a lot of work to do. Sephiroth can take care of himself...."
"I know" Jaana replied. "I know."