The fateful day had arrived: Dan was escaping and Miko had his part in the escape down to an artform. He knew what he was going to do second by second. Dan would have called it over-planning but he could never accuse the older man of such a thing! Miko knew of his reputation for planning but he was determined to do this right. Dan needed all the help he could get and he was not about to turn down Miko’s.
“All set, boy?” Miko asked.
“I’ll have to be. It’s the dark of the moon tonight and it’s now or never.”
“Get ready then. The guard changes in one minute. I’ll signal you when the man out front leaves and you start sprinting.”
Dan nodded; waiting for Miko to signal him. The man’s arm went down with a sudden speed that made Dan’s heart race. He sprinted towards the door and down the hall. He thundered out of council’s large door as Miko started his distraction.
He could hear the older man begin to sing. Dan tried to not laugh at Miko’s act. He made his voice sound like he had been out drinking all day:
“Oh, Mary was a fine maid, ya see/ She knew all about knives and seas/ The girl listened to her customers see?” Miko’s wavering singing echoed outside of the base and into the night. The raiders would want to quiet him as quickly as possible.
Dan did not stay to hear much of the song. He took advantage of Miko’s distraction and sprinting into the city where he could loose himself in crowds and crowds of people.
The raiders knew that Dan had left as soon as they heared Miko’s voice raise in the air. They sent their best men after the boy. The escape showed them that Dan was resourceful and that he needed to be watched more closely.
“The boy would make a fine raider,” one of the men searching for him intoned.
“I might have to kill him if he says out much longer. It’s fixin to rain,” another searcher said.
“I’m sure we’ll find him soon.” All the searchers agreed. None of the raiders expected Dan to be gone three days but he was and they were starting to ger desperate.
The councilors were holding a meeting. They had asked for Fred specifically to be there. He was more than a little surprised at the request. The meeting was suposed to be about Dan’s escape and Fred had witnessed none of it. He knew nothing about the escape so why did they want him here?
“I imagine you are wondering why you were called here,” the eldest of the councilors remarked.
“Our new guests have both surprised us all. We have studied information gathered about them but we need someone who has spent time with them. We believe that you are just the man we need. You spent the most time with them out of all our opperatives.”
“I’ll do all I can, sir,” Fred promised.
“Use the knowledge you gained from spending time with our guests. Go out and find him.”
Fred did not know what to say. He felt like these men had given him a herculian task! Men had spread through the city for days, looking for Dan. How could Fred suceed where so many others had failed?
“Dismissed,” the councilmen sang, sending Fred on his way without allowing for a responce.
“What am I doing to do?” He asked himself. “Where do I begin?”
Magnus had been getting instructions from Alice for some time. He had managed to make a replica of the plant and even produced some poultice for other clinics.
Hamish stood in the alleyway watching the window of the girl’s room. The guards had confirmed that the girl had never left the room but it was also clear that information was leaving. More and more clinics were using poutice that cured rott. Raven was sure that it was from the plant that Alice had bread. Raven was rarely wrong but Hamish could not be sure how the girl was doing it!
That was why he stood outside now, watching her window. She was either leaving herself or sending information to someone else. This window seemed like the most likely escape rout. Hamish had been watching the window for hours before the work paid off. A shadow appeared in the alley and Hamish knew that hours of work were worth it.
Magnus had come back to the window to ask Alice’s advice. He had made the plant and the poulice as she instructed but the poulice was not working like the original poulice she had given the clinic. The poulice was not as strong and it did not work as quickly. He hoped that she could tell him what to do.
Magnus was watching the window and not paying attention to the alley. He did not notice Hamish until the man began to run towards him. Magnus recognises the man as the same one who dragged Alice away from the clinic. He knows that this man wants to keep the plant away from the clinics and he does not know what Hamish will do. Magnus turns to run and finds himself tangled with another group.
Magnus feels strong arms pull him away from the charging Hamish. His numb feet allow him to be lead away without a fight. It feels like hours later when Magnus finds himself in a strange building.
“Who is this guy?” One man asked.
“I thought we were looking for Timothy?” Another said.
“Timothy?” Magnus mummbled. “I came there to talk to Alice. Her brother’s name is Timothy.”
All eyes were turned to Magnus.
“Is he in the building too?”
“I went to his window first when I was looking for Alice,” Magnus admitted.
“You know where he is?” Three men asked excitedly, all at once.
“I told you,” Magnus began with exasperation. “I saw him the first time I came here! I know where your friend is.” Magnus’ head began to clear as he spoke; making him notice that he was not where he thought he should be. “Where are we? How did I get here?”
“This is our base,” one man said on top of another’s, “we brought you here.”
“There’s no need to get upset,” the largest man said slowly. “We’re all on the same side after all.”
“Are we?” Magnus asked without meaning to speak aloud.
“You want to help Timothy and his sister,” the large man pointed out. “We want to do the same thing. Timothy is a member of the raiders and we take care of our own!”
“You want to break into Raven’s manor?” Magnus asked in a shocked, hushed voice.
“How were you planning on getting them out?” The largest raider asked with incredualism. “You got a better scheme, let’s hear it!”
“I don’t have a plan but neither do you. Breaking into Raven’s house is not a plan! Or if it is your plan, you should know that it’s a suicidal one! Raven can do magic and does favors for any one who is anyone in high power. If Raven catches you, he’ll turn you into an eel. If you get away, he’ll use his contacts in the government to find you. Your plan is suicide!”
“Calm downm old chap. Raven isn’t the only one with high connections,” the big raider said.
“Ain’t the only one with magic neigther,” another of the raiders mentioned.
“I’m sure that you raiders are good at what you do,” Magnus said, trying another tactic. “But Raven is a dangerous man. He will lie, cheat and kill if it will get him a head. Raven has no morals; he makes other people forget their own morals. People who follow him forget what they know and only believe the things that Raven tells them. He has a cult of followers along with his contacts and magic. Going head to head with this man is a bad idea!”
Magnus looked from raider to raider, hoping that something would sink in. This idea was hopeless and Magnus appeared to be the only one who saw the hopelessness.
“There are somethings that you could do but there are other things that a man just has to do,” the large raider reminded Magnus.
“You think that Raven is one of those things?”
“Raven has to be stopped. You said he abuses power.”
“He does abuse his power and he does need to be stopped but that does not mean that anyone can. Everyone from the richest noble to the street urchan outside wants to stop Raven but none of them have because none of them can.”
“None of them have the raider’s resources,” the large man commented.
The door behind Magnus opened. He turned at the resounding sound that rang through the chamber. A new man with a thick beared came into the room and stabbed Magnus and everyone else in the room into silence with a look.
“We’ve already accomplished things that no other group has accomplished -- even before the shadoween came! There have been secrets lost to humankind that the raiders have found once again,” the beared man said.
“You think you can take down Raven? Great! Why do you need me to help you?” Magnus pointed out. “You raiders can’t even find one man. They know what house he is in but they can’t even get one fact for you! Do you really think that these are the same men who will take out Raven. You talk like you know how to vanquish the shadoween!”
“We can’t quite manage that,” the bearded man admitted, “but we know someone who can -- so do you, in fact. Alice and her brother have a friend who says that he can destroy shadoween with an odd staff that he made.”
“What?” Magnus’ brain was going in circles and he felt his head spinning. This was all too much! Could these men really think that they could conquer the world and then conquer the shadoween?
“Alice’s friend, Dan, told us where Alice and Timothy were. He brought a staff with him and refused to be parted from it. A man named Miko traveled with Dan and when Dan escaped, Miko was more than willing to share a few secrets to spare his life.”
“Show me this staff,” Magnus commanded.
The bearded man laughed. “I like you. You’re straight to the point. Come on and we’ll show you.”
Magnus never knew it, but it was amazingly lucky that the raiders stopped him when they did. Raven would surely had seen him if they had not. Raven saw Hamish but he ignored that large man and continued into Alice’s room. Raven marched into the room with single-minded purpose that was a little unnearving in any man but was terrifying on him. Alice had to stop for a moment to remember that Raven was just a man!
“Alice, I fear that we may have gotten off on the wrong foot. You and I want the same things after all.”
“What do you think I want?” Alice asked.
“You and I both want Dan to be safe. We both want Tim and Dan to live long, happy lives.” Raven had that sickenly suave smile on his face. Alice wanted to hit him but she knew that he was right... she did want all of those things.
“You are the only one who can make all of those things happen. If you were serious about any of this you would let Dan and Tim go!”
“My friend, Miko is looking after Dan and Hamish has Tim well in hand. They seem safe enough where they are.” Raven said all of this with that maddening smile on his face.
“You’re keeping them from getting out but that doesn’t keep danger from getting in. I know you’re not here to comfort me or assure me of safety so why are you really here?” Alice was getting tired of Raven’s games and the snappy tone in her voice let him know that she could not take many more games.
“I want to offer you an olive branch. You want Dan to be safe and he will be. His physical body is here, in the deminsion he was born in but his spirit is in Kingston. His body still needs norishment. You can make a plant that will norish him without requiring him to be awake.”
“You want me to make something he can drink or something that can be injected to give norishment?”
“Injection will work best,” Raven admitted.
“Who will be looking over my shoulder while I work?” Alice demanded.
“I would think that having your friends here would be sufficient. Still, have no fear, you and I will be working rather closely.”
“I know that you like all your t’s crossed. You’re the type to double and triple check your work.”
“You know me well. I’m sure you find that I know you just as well,” Raven promised.