Time To Act
Time To Act
Later that morning Millaney and Otis were out training with Millaney showing considerable improvement in her skills. Using her maneuverability to her advantage, she was easily able to avoid Otis’ attacks and spin her body sideways, as his staff thrust at her on one side or the other. She would push off the side of a nearby hill and leap in the air flipping her body then strike at him with fury of attacks which if it not for his mastery of weapons he may not have been able to deflect. Although it was quite cooler in the hidden cove they trained in, it was still quite hot and they had to break from training often to drink water from the cool stream.
They were taking such a break as Patrah topped a nearby hill riding a klaatu. Millaney sipped from her freshly filled water skin, as she saw him approach. She lowered her flask and capped it off. Otis turned to see what she was looking at and saw him approach as well. Millaney took slow steps toward the center of their camp to meet her Shrkai great-grandfather. Otis walked with her and helped the aging patriarch down from his mount. Otis led the animal to the stream to drink, as Patrah walked over to sit on a stone near the ashes of a fire-pit leaning heavily on his staff. Millaney sat near him on the ground and offered him some water to which he drank quite deeply and then handed her back the flask.
Patrah took a deep breath. With such a sad look on his face Millaney could tell she was about to receive bad news, but waited for him to speak. Otis returned and sat down with them, as Patrah started to speak.
“The council found him not responsible for the soldier’s death, but…” Patrah paused, as he found the words so difficult to say. Millaney had already balled her hands into fists. Otis put a gentle-loving hand on her shoulder, as Patrah choked out his next words. “guilty of killing the high priest.” Millaney stood with her fists tight at her sides and her brows lowered over her eyes.
“And what is his punishment?” she asked through clenched teeth fearing she already knew the answer.
“Please remember there’s still more that we can do. Your friends are hard at work on a device they believe will pull this golem out of hiding and that can potentially show what really killed the high priest.” Patrah said to her hoping it would help ease the blow of what he had to say.
“Just tell me please,” she responded her fear swelling quickly into anger.
“Public execution as soon as they can determine the method,” Patrah blurted out then hung his head. Millaney turned from everyone letting Otis’ hand slip off her shoulder. Otis immediately started packing their gear and taking down the tent. Patrah pushed himself up and came over to attempt to console Millaney, but she shrugged him off and moved further away over to the stream. Patrah turned and started to help Otis pack. He grabbed Millaney’s items and started to pack them for her, as she knelt at the edge of the stream.
She looked at her reflection in the clear gentle-flowing stream. Images of her father soon took shape in the stream. She saw his face in many instances from the recent past. From the day she first met him outside Gaitlynne’s targo just over a year ago, to the moment he handed her the blue bow outside her cell door a few days back. She held back the tears she felt welling in her eyes and thought of her next move. After a long time looking into the creek the images of her father faded. Millaney lifted herself up and turned to go back to their campsite, as Otis and Patrah had nearly finished packing.
“So when does the distraction part of the plan end and the action begin?” she asked with an even a temperament as she could.
“I’d say about now,” Otis replied, as he finished folding the tent and started to tie it to his rooghon.
“Wait! Please? I beg of you give your friends some more time to finish the device,” Patrah pleaded, as Millaney took her packed bag from him and tied it to her klaatu.
“I’m tired of waiting. I say we summon the dragons and bust him out now!” Millaney hollered so loud that the soldiers on the hill had to have heard her.
“Please just one more day. I beg of you. They haven’t announced it yet. If they want his execution to be a public display they’ll announce it at least one day before it happens, so people can come to see it.” Patrah continued to plead, as Otis and Millaney got mounted. Fearing they would ride off without him, Patrah scrambled for his klaatu and got mounted as well. Otis held the reins of his beast and looked over to Millaney.
“It’s up to you,” he said to her in a soft solemn voice.
“No we have waited long enough. We should ride to break him out now! I’ll summon the dragons once we arrive. You hear that you son of a bitches?” Millaney shouted out to the soldiers on the hill. “Release my father! If he is not free by the time we arrive, prepare for hell!” Millaney smacked the side of her klaatu and raced off over the foothills.
“Nothing like warning them so they can prepare.” Patrah said while he rode up beside Otis.
“They should be warned. We gave them our word we wouldn’t start anything, now they know all bets are off!” Otis and Patrah galloped over the foothills after Millaney and followed her dust trail back toward the city. The three Shrkai soldiers on the hill talked quietly to each other, then sent one of them ahead, as the other two continued to follow at a distance.
Meanwhile at Frolin’s hidden lair he, Darvin and Sarnay were putting the final pieces together for a device Frolin hoped he could use to harness the energies much like the priests and gods and find the golem and pull it out of hiding. Darvin was holding a bronze metal shroud in place, as Frolin was holding a blazing red-hot rivet with a pair of tongs. He carefully placed it in the hole then picked up a huge hammer and smashed the soft head of the rivet until it held the shroud tight. He did the same with three other hot rivets until the shroud seemed secure.
“Well let’s see if it works,” Frolin announced, as he placed his hand on a spherical dial and Darvin and Sarnay each grabbed an opposite side of a long handle. Frolin changed the lenses on his googles to the red lens he used to track his bronze butterfly. Sarnay and Darvin pulled on the lever first toward Darvin, then back toward Sarnay. The lever moved slow at first, as the tension was quite tight, but after a few pulls back and forth the tension loosened and the lever moved more easily. Inside the circular shroud they had just affixed, the lever moved a magnetic wheel with sparks shooting out from under the shroud. They pulled the lever back and forth spinning the wheel faster and faster until a gauge on the device started to light up and Frolin turned the spherical dial. They kept this up for several minutes until Frolin thought he saw something in his lens. “I think I’ve got something!.... YES! I’ve got it.”
The eyes of the golem opened, as Frolin had found the frequency and was now controlling the golem.
“Sarnay find my spare goggles and let Darvin keep pumping the generator,” Frolin shouted out excitedly.
“What?” Sarnay asked as she and Darvin continued to pump the generator.
“Just do it please! We need to send a message to Otis and I don’t want to lose my connection with this thing.” Sarnay let go of the lever and for a moment the energy level dropped and the device started to power down, but Darvin increased his rhythm until he matched the tempo they had together and the device powered back up. As Sarnay started to write a letter
“What should I say?” she asked in a frantic voice.
“Just tell him to hurry over to the area near where we were held, the priest’s lab is in the basement and the golem should come out near there somewhere.” Frolin replied, as sparks continued to shoot under from under the housing of the device. Frolin pulled a small lever and the golem stood up and walked across the room it was stored in. Sarnay finished the note and wound up the butterfly. She put on Frolin’s spare goggles and changed the lenses until she could see through the eyes of the butterfly, as smoke started to seep out from under the shroud. Sarnay was flying the butterfly across the room and the golem was about to walkup to a wall in the chamber, when the device powered down.
“What happened?” Frolin asked, as he quickly changed lenses in his goggles so that he could look at his device. Darvin was still pumping on the lever until Frolin gestured for him to stop. “Wait! Bring the butterfly back.”
Sarnay guided the butterfly back to set it gently on the workbench by the smoking device. Frolin waved smoke away from his device, then picked up his sketches to look at them.
“Here it is,” Frolin remarked like it was obvious once he saw his error in design. “All I need is some type of insulation here and it should work. Write a new note please. Tell them to get to an area where they can see all sides of the building and just wait.” Sarnay hastily wrote a new note and placed it in the grips of the butterfly, as Frolin and Darvin started to dismantle his smoking device.
“Alright it’s ready. Do you want me to send it?” Sarnay asked after placing the note in the butterfly’s grasp.
“If you think you can? You know where they are camped right?”
“Yes Patrah got a message to us last night in the dark. They should be camped just outside of the city.”
“Fine send it, then when you’re through you can help Darvin and I fix the device, we’re going to be up all night if that’s what it takes.”
Sarnay guided the butterfly up and out the top of the mesa in the hidden lair. She flew the butterfly south along the foothills expecting them to still be camped in the quiet cove. The bronze butterfly sped out into the bright daylight with sunslight shining off its shimmering wings. She kept the butterfly at a high altitude and watched the foothills below, not diving down until she was near the area she was told they’d be camped. The butterfly fluttered down closer to the ground. It swooshed around the foothills just passed the end of the residential area and found the quiet cove, or at least what she thought was the quiet cove. There was no sign of a campsite other than the ashes left where the campfire once was.
Sarnay landed the butterfly softly on the ground. She turned it in all directions looking over the area. The camp was abandoned and she was unsure what to do next. She flew the butterfly around the area a little more until she saw tracks leading away in the dust. “Yes!” she said out loud causing the two still trying to remove the shroud to turn her way, but just shook their heads and kept working. Sarnay sped the butterfly off this time staying closer to the ground in order to follow the tracks in the dust. The speedy butterfly was easily able to catch up to the trio of riders who trotted their steeds along toward the city. Sarnay lifted the butterfly up a bit higher, as she flew it into the dust cloud that followed the three riders. She buzzed it passed their heads until they saw it, then she carefully hovered it in front of the klaatu Millaney rode on until they stopped.
She carefully landed the butterfly on the head of the klaatu and Millaney took out the note. She read it so that Patrah and Otis could both hear, then smiled. She took out her small key and wound up the mechanical messenger, so that it would have enough energy to return. She gave a ‘thumbs up’ in front of the butterfly’s eyes so that the person controlling it knew the message was received. The butterfly then fluttered its bronze wings once again, as it lifted off the head of the klaatu and flew off back toward the lair in the mesa to the southeast of the city.
When Otis and Millaney trotted into the city, dozens of Shrkai soldiers were gathered around the building that housed her father in a cell with more setting up tents nearby. The two of them walked their animals slowly forward and were greeted by the ranking soldier of the Shrkai with two of his men right behind him mounted on velociraptors. For a long moment the five of them remained idle in the wide area around the small building with a line of foot soldiers formed right behind the Shrkai leader.
“You know we have to stop you from entering,” the lead soldier finally spoke up breaking the stillness in the air.
“We have decided not to break him out just yet, but rest assured we will soon,” Otis directed to the soldier.
“As the day progresses our numbers will grow and we have our orders! These men will die before retreating. You know that. You won’t be able to handle us all.”
“We are waiting to capture the real killer. Feel free to wait with us if you like, but don’t try to interfere, or the parched land around us will drink of our blood.” Otis nodded his head to the officer, then turned to ride back a few paces with Millaney following him. Otis and Millaney set up their tent with the back of some residential structures behind them and the line of soldiers in front of the small building a short distance east of the assembly hall with three stories above ground and the assembly hall just below the surface. Trajev stood on his east balcony watching the events below, as Ralomar walked up behind him.
“Is there anything to what they say about a third person that was in the high priest’s chamber that night?” Trajev asked of the councilmen without turning to look at him.
“Of course not. The humans just want to cloud the issue with trickery and deception,” Ralomar answered, as he too walked forward next to Trajev and leaned on the stone bannister. “It will all be behind us soon, as this human murderer is put to death. Everything should be prepared by high sun tomorrow.”
“Leave me. I wish to be alone with my thoughts.”
“As you wish.” Ralomar backed out of the room, leaving the Grand Chancellor alone on the balcony. For many years Trajev had been the caretaker of different prisoners, including the house arrest of Darvin. It had always been clear to him that criminals act as they do and nothing could ever change that. His duties as the overseer of these prisoners had taken up much of his time and he had neglected his meditations and prayers to the gods. He saw his duties as dispenser of justice as a priority, especially in Darvin’s case. Darvin had been found guilty of the most violent crime the Shrkai had known of in recent history, the murder of both his parents. Over the years he only saw the murderous young man that should be kept from society, but their laws were quite specific that he could be rehabilitated through community involvement. Trajev had recently questioned his own judgement in these matters. The visions he had reminded him of who he was at one time, a man of the priesthood who agreed with the rehabilitation of prisoners. Now as he watched Otis set up his tent, he wondered what truly the right thing was to do for his society. He had known of Otis as most did in Shrkai city and of Millorny. The honor and character of either of them had never been questioned before. Now that Trajev wore the cloth of leadership, he found himself second guessing his views about criminality. He turned from the balcony and stepped inside his cooler chamber, as Millaney crawled into the shade of the tent and Otis sat on the ground watching the area near the building for any signs of the golem to appear.