Parts one, two, three, four, five, here.
The next morning, they were ready to go, Scott looked over his group, Katie, Angel, Don, Allen, Shandra, and Sean. Six people to travel hundreds of miles, crossing several hostile territories, and wild lands where no law or king held sway. At the end they needed to infiltrate a hostile empire one of the most organized and deadly in history, find where they were working on the means to open the gate then somehow stop them from forcing it open from this side.
It seemed an impossible task yet they had faced greater odds as a group before. Only then it was a game and they had been certain of resurrection if someone died and nobody was really hurt anyway unless he stubbed his toe on a table leg or dropped a can of mountain dew on his foot.
Scott missed having Dodge's and Kantrus' abilities to call on then remembered neither were really Dodge or Kantrus they were young boys who had been playing a game. Sean and Katie could cover some of the jobs that Justin and Andy could do. Sean was a master magus as well as being capable of directly channeling the Holy Spirit. Like all magi their powers came directly through the Holy Spirit as did his other miracles. However, magi's powers needed a greater or lesser ritual to use. Whereas his "cleric's" prayers worked as the Holy Spirit directed. But he could read magical writings, use scrolls, dispel magic, and counteract magical runes and glyphs. Katie wasn't the only member of the group that could be sneaky however she was a master at identifying and disarming traps even magical kinds. They would have to make do.
They were all well-armed and armored. Scott needed no weapons save his own body. His wife Shandra carried the big two handed single edged sword that her family had made for her, as well as a cased bow and quiver of arrows. Michelle was carrying a hand and a half sword, a shield and a Tuathe De-style halberd with a curving blade as well as composite bow and arrows that could punch through plate steel at close range. Of all of them Michelle was the most heavily armored with chain and plate of cruach órga or "golden steel". Armored from head to foot in cruach órga, forged by the finest Tuathe De armorers the golden-steel was stronger than the finest dwarven-made armor.
Katie had a rapier and dagger hanging from her belt but her real weapon was the ocarina she was playing and her own voice. Angel was armed with sword and bow an elven made bow that was part of its owner like an extension of her will. She could send deadly shafts raining down on her targets. Don carried a bow made from the worked horn of the dragon that he and his brother had killed decades before. At his belt he carried a big fighting knife shaped like a bowie knife and a light fighting axe shaped and balanced like a tomahawk. He had a larger battleaxe and spiked buckler strapped to his saddle. The battleaxe Don had made himself it was of cruach órga with a curved blade and a triangular spike on top and one opposite the blade on back. He used it rarely preferring the lighter knife and tomahawk unless he knew he was going into a hand to hand fight.
With many hugs and kisses from friends and family they set out across the grasslands towards the coast where they would reach the port of Bridgetown. All of them were well mounted on Tuathe De horses, the grasslands were filled with game of all kinds, birds were singing, and Katie was playing her seashell ocarina. Dog and Riddick were chasing each other through the waist high grass filled with flowers occasionally bounding high to track the other creature. If they hadn't been leaving their families and friends and seeking danger Scott would have been happy to be traveling with his friends. Bridgetown was a beautiful walled port on the Haida Sea where Atlanteans and others came to trade for the goods of the interior and even the goods that the usually hostile and insular Haida traded. Fine furs, baskets, pelts, and well-made fighting knives of steel, bronze, and iron. The Order's local Chapterhouse was on the way to Bridgetown and Scott hoped to update his intelligence there and perhaps find where the Grossdeutschland Vril artisans, psychic technicians and sorcerers were working on opening the gate.
If he allowed himself to relax Scott had little trouble riding the big stallion that could carry his weight. If he tried thinking about it, Scott made himself and the stallion uncomfortable. Of all of them only Don seemed entirely comfortable on horseback whether or not he was thinking as Connor or Don.
“Did you ride much,” Scott asked falling back to ride next to his father in law.
“Yeah when I was a kid. I was riding bareback when I was Ray's age. And I worked on some rodeo stuff with my granddad and my cousin,” Don replied, “I've never rode a horse and fought but there's damn few who have nowadays. Connor can do both.”
“Dog,” Don called and Dog sprang off scouting a stand of lodge pole pines and the underbrush around them.
“How do you do that?” Scott asked, “You only have one command, “dog”. It means everything, 'sit', 'stay', 'attack', 'guard', 'track'. How do you do that?”
“Dog, knows what I mean,” Don laughed, “it's all in how I say it.
“But I've seen you sit and talk to him too, does he understand that?”
“Some, most maybe,” Don nodded towards Dog. “He's not just a dog, he's a Cŵn Annwn, a spectral hound. Some say, 'hellhound'. He's smart enough to communicate anything to me he needs to and he has some magical abilities. He can travel through another dimension and come out nearly anywhere. He can see and track supernatural beings and the traces they leave. He can even guide people over the shadow-path or through other realms like Faery. I can do the same but he can do it on his own.”
“So that's how he can always sneak up on me!” Scott exclaimed.
“That certainly helps although he could sneak up on nearly anyone even without his magic.”
“Is Riddick magical as well?” Scott looked over at the wolf Riddick. The wolf was the same height and length as Dog but much slenderer.
“Maybe,” Don replied, nudging his horse to move to the left around a patch of brush. “I haven't asked Angel. I always wanted to discover through game play. I guess we could just ask but it feels like an intrusion.”
Angel was speaking animatedly with Allan. Allan had the least connection to his 'character's' template that Sally had used and was feeling disoriented and uncomfortable. Four arms would do that to anyone all by itself. Angel was a kind soul and trying to help Allan feel more comfortable in his own skin.
Don looked down at his friend and son-in-law. Scott was very changed. He was about five foot one and weighed well over three fifty maybe four hundred pounds. The shape was heavy even for other dwarves or Zwerg man. The Iron Guard built their members into living armored weapons. Scott had cured dragon hide, mesh mail, moonsilver plates, and other more esoteric materials shaping his form and face to say nothing of the heavy calluses that covered his body and the scars from the surgeries.
“What about you, Scott?” Don asked, “Being built like a bridge abutment can't be easy.”
“True,” Scott replied, “I'm not very flexible but I guess I never was. But I am a lot stronger, quicker, and tougher.”
“What about you?” Scott asked Don. Scott was uncomfortable about the changes particularly the scars and dwarven features.
“Me?” Don laughed, “I'm a few inches taller and built like Dolph Lundgren. I was pretty well built when I was a kid myself but I was no 'Dolph' but otherwise I look like I did when I was twenty-five or so.”
“No you don't,” Michelle interjected as she trotted up to join them, “You have better hair. I think most of us do except you dear.” She reached over and patted Scott's shoulder.
“Don't worry, Scott. Shandra's happy the way you are. Plus, she was bored at work and you were too from what I hear. Here we have a real purpose and people who need our help.”
“Why aren't you out scouting with Angel?” Michelle asked. “Isn't that what you two should be doing?”
“And we should be setting a rear guard,” Don agreed and Scott nodded.
“Sean and I should have remembered that,” Scott said angry at himself for not remembering that.
“I'll ride point for now,” Don decided and Angel can hang back a bit along with Allan. The two of them should be able to handle anything until we can get to them.”
“Angel!” Don called as he trotted to catch up to her and Allan, “The two of you fall back and play 'tail-end Charlie'. I'm going to scout and ride point.”
“Keep an eye on her Allan,” Don reminded him, “There's only one Angel.”
“What about me?” Allan smiled, “How many four-armed friends do you have?”
“Just one of those too,” Don laughed as he moved out and kicked his horse into a canter, “But I like her better.”If you have any comments you know where to leave them.