The International Writers Magazine:Now Chapter Seventeen of
our long running serial
arrived in the forest outside our family home where Jerry was
waiting with an old looking man with short white hair and a thick
white goatee. They watched as I came in toward them and waited
silently for me to approach.
I must have looked
anxious; on my way back I had been playing through the coming battle
over and over. I didnt like our odds or the outcome I kept arriving
at. Jerry made a gesture with his hand and one of fifty people hiding
in the trees moved out to relieve me of the remains of my informant.
He disappeared into the darkness without a sound.
"Sloan, Id like you to meet Senator Dio." Jerry turned
to the man beside him. "Senator, this is my nephew Sloan."
"Pleased to meet you Senator." I shook his hand.
"Likewise son, but call me Dio. Ive been retired for quite
some time." His voice was very relaxing, and there was something
behind those steely eyes that pierced right through everything they
"Okay Dio, call me Sloan. What state did you represent?"
"Athens." He replied quite casually. My eyes opened a little
wider, and my attitude towards the man altered drastically. He continued,
"From what your uncle tells me, my arrival has been very timely.
My own sources estimate another day or two before the enemy musters
all its forces. Theyre moving quickly. Our own will take just
as long, but we should have a sizable force of our own before they can
put forth an organized attack. As we were just discussing prior to your
arrival, our first move should be to choose a location to defend from.
They will bring the fight to us, we can be most certain of that. We
have to choose the place, and quickly. I have an envoy ready to parley
with an enemy messenger to deliver a formal challenge and our terms
for their surrender. They wont accept, of course, but they will
have our offer nonetheless."
"Why extend the offer at all?" I asked.
"Because we have the three of you to lead our forces, because it
conveys a sense of arrogant contempt for theirs, and mostly because
its the right thing to do. The off chance that they accept would
step neatly around an enormous loss of lives and resources. We have
to offer an alternative, even if we know it will be of no use."
He spoke so evenly, so calmly about it that we could have been talking
about a game. He certainly knew very well that this was no game. He
knew who I was and why they were after us. He knew that there would
be no end to their fight to capture or subdue me. My unique talents
were in much too great demand to be ignored or written off as a loss
by either side; which brought to my mind the question of his loyalty.
From his apparent rapport with Jerry, and his presence and manner I
wanted to believe that he could be trusted, but that went against my
instincts and my training. I was sure that he must have been an agent
for the council at one time or another, or at least an ally on this
side. I worried that he might still be, and that he might make this
known at an inopportune time for us. I wanted to trust him, but I simply
couldnt. That left me with the dilemma of trying to discern the
truth from a man who was young centuries before Christ was born. If
he was loyal to the council then we could count on him to betray us,
and we could prepare for it or possibly even use it to our advantage.
If he had no loyalty to anyone we couldnt possibly know what to
expect; a possibility which had me much more worried. Jerry knew what
I was thinking. He winked at me, and I felt slightly better about it.
Which ever way the wind was going to blow, Jerry seemed to have a handle
"Ive never served in an army. You should find another commander;
I dont think they would follow me. They dont know me, and
I dont know how to lead them."
"No, it has to be you three. You are our strongest assets. With
you three at the front we stand a greater chance of keeping our men
alive. You will all have leaders under you to carry out your orders
during the battle. Theyll take their lead from you, and the troops
will follow. The fifty we have here are all capable soldiers, and with
a word from me they would each follow you into the gaping maw of Hell
taking as many enemies with them as they could before they fell."
He was wining me over with his irresistible charm. I understood how
he exacted such loyalty and devotion from his men. They all loved him.
I had no doubt that they would, as he said follow me into Hell at his
Jerry spoke up, "Theres some flatland about thirty miles
from here with a series of hills we can defend from. There are only
a few approachable fronts from either side, so we can narrow their attack
into three bottlenecks, one from the east and two from the northwest
and west. An approach from the south is unlikely because of a wide river.
We should be able to hold them off for a while." He cleared some
leaves away and began drawing on the ground with a stick.
"I wouldnt worry about that." said Dio. "This battle
will be decided in a day. Our enemy isnt coming in to take over
and occupy us. They arent bringing provisions to last through
a prolonged siege. Theyre coming to kill us all. We can expect
a quick, brutal assault that wont stop until one side is utterly
"How many are we expected to have?" I interrupted.
"About five thousand. Maybe more if Allah wills it."
"The numbers I got from my informant were at least ten times that."
I was getting nervous again.
"Those are just from his faction. We have to deal with whatever
the council sends in as well. Im guessing another twenty thousand.
Possibly more, but not likely."
I started feeling worse. "What are our odds?" He seemed to
sense my unease in the face of our situation.
"Ive had worse. With the three of you on our side, I think
theyre pretty even. Also, were defending. This will work
to our advantage. Dont lose heart yet. Ive lived a long
time and I can tell you not to count us out over those numbers. Even
if they manage to wear us down it will cost them so dearly that theyll
regret their victory."
We heard a small group approaching and turned to see Urimaru leading
my friends through the trees to where we sat. We grouped around the
impromptu map Jerry had finished and they started going over tactics
and strategies. I put in suggestions when I thought of them, but mostly
just listened. I was out of my element.
After the plans were made and an envoy was dispatched it was early morning.
The guys were asleep and I was going over some ideas with Jerry and
Urimaru. Dio and his men were out on patrol around the house. "I
still need to convince Gloria and Ma to come with us. I dont like
the idea of taking them with us to the heart of this fight, but we cant
leave them here."
"Leave that to us." Jerry motioned to my four sleeping friends.
"Well get them to safety. You keep your mind on the plan.
If we do our part, theyll be fine."
Urimaru stood up and motioned for me to follow him. We walked out of
the woods and along the lake. The sun was reflecting off of the water
and a stiff breeze was blowing fog across the surface. "Theres
no way were going to lose this fight you know." He didnt
break the silence with his voice. I heard it deep in my mind and answered
the same way.
"I hope youre right."
"I know I am. Youre fighting for the people you love. Youre
fighting for their freedom, and yours, and ours. This battle was inevitable
after we crossed over to this side. They wont ever stop coming
after us. We know that. After this battle, there is still the matter
of crossing back over and cleaning up the other side. It has to be done
or theyll never stop."
He was right, of course. I had already been over all of this again and
again in my mind. I knew what we had to do, but I was standing at the
edge of a Herculean task. It loomed over me like my own personal thunderhead.
My future consisted of crippling their ability to get to my connections
on this side, then going back and finding a way to stop them on their
own turf. I stared out over the lake. "Ive never killed anyone
before. Shugg killed Sharper, and all those creatures I cut my way through
to get to him were never alive like we were or like Gloria or my Mother
"Very soon," he said "that will change. Just remember
why youre doing it. Thats the best way to cope with it.
Lets spar for a while. It will help you get focused."
We walked out onto the lake and squared off. Miles away on the horizon
the crows began to gather over the place Jerry had selected for the
battle. I could hear their cries over the clash of steel as we went
back and forth at each other. They seemed to grow louder as the sun
continued to rise and the armies moved in for the beginning of my war.
© Brodie Parker
Begun May 10th 2004 - this
Chapter September 2005
Chapters One & Two of our serialised novel - it begins here
Chapter Three here
Chapter Four here
Chapter five here
Chapter Fifteen here
Chapter Seventeen here
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