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Ancient Prophecy IV: Reunited
by Vipers

This story was split into 7 parts. Jump to any of the segments from here:
1|2|3|4|5|6|7
Note: This story was originally submitted as one long story
and it was only broken into 7 parts for faster page loading.


The three bandits ran as fast as they could, holding the sacks of gold behind their backs. The darkness of the night helped to conceal their retreat. The surroundings were dark; the cloudy sky hid the otherwise-full moon. Their plan was perfect. Their timing was perfect. The village of Lindenwood hadn't expected their coming.

At last they arrived at their hideout. It was a small cave hidden behind waterfall. Inside the cave was another small lake with a small ledge at the other end. The strong smell of oil filled the air. The river was well known for its dangerous rapids, therefor the area around it was rarely patronized. Another perfect hideout, they claimed. Merrily they opened the sacks and divided their booty.

They had planned everything. They had never failed before. They had never been captured before. Their trail had never been tracked before. They thought they would never get captured. This time, they didn't plan one thing...

"Feeling lucky, thugs?!"

Adriana Freesland stood near the cave opening. Her priest costume was soaked by the waterfall. Her long hair was braided with a pretty red ribbon. She was standing in the middle of the lake. The water covered her waist. She was standing firmly despite the slippery surface beneath her boots. In her right hand was a metal mace.

Behind her was Maya Murdock. Her tight body suit was thoroughly soaked by the water, sending chill across her body. Her hair was tied in her usual ponytail. She held a silver blade and a torch. The fire illuminated the entire cave. She looked at the bandits cautiously.

"I'm afraid you'll run out of job pretty soon... In the name of the villagers of Lindenwold, we're here to arrest you!" Anna said again.

One of the bandits stood up and stood on the edge of the ledge. "I'm impressed. You're the first mercenaries who actually find us. Too bad you picked a wrong job..."

"Give up now. There's no way you can escape from us."

"We won't escape from you... We will kill you." He sneered. "Do you notice this smell?"

Both Anna and Maya did.

"Mistress... this is... natural oil...!" Maya exclaimed.

"Clever..." The bandit said. "You were standing in the middle of an oil pit. Unfortunately, you should know that bringing that torch is your biggest mistake..."

Without warning the bandit threw a small knife at Maya's torch, instantly knocking it out of her grasp. The torch fell into the water, and instantly the entire lake was ignited in flame. Maya screamed as the fire crept upon her body...

But she was not burned. Her body and Anna's were glowing. Anna had cast magic barrier bubble around them on time. The bubble kept the flame a few inches away from them, giving them extra space. But the barrier wouldn't last forever...

"A fast action... But too bad... We won't let you get out of here..."

One other bandit pulled a lever on the wall down. A metal cage fell from the ceiling at the edge of the ledge, sealing the ledge from their reach. A similar cage emerged at the cave opening from underwater, preventing any attempts to escape. They were trapped inside the blazing lake!

"The oil pit in this area is pretty generous, so I think the fire will not go out anytime soon..." The bandit sneered again. "Too bad... we could have had a good time together... but we will enjoy seeing how you will be fried... slowly..."

The barrier around them was getting weaker, and the water was uncomfortably warm. Maya looked for a way to escape, but found none. But Anna had another idea.

"Maya, swim underwater! We must find a way to open the cage!"

"Right!"

Both of them dived underwater, then a second later the barrier gave up and vanished. The entire lake had been covered with blazing fire.

"Where did they go?" the bandit asked frantically.

Anna guided Maya to the cave opening. Soon Maya could touch the cage. She was right! If the cage was raised from underwater, then the locking mechanism had to be underwater. She only needed time for her hidden talent, disarming traps, to work.

Anna cast another barrier on the water surface, created another bubble, and held it open with all her might. Maya surfaced later, took another deep breath, and dived again.

Slowly she examined the locking mechanism of the cage. She recalled all the training she had received form her father. Every trap had a trigger. If she could find out how it worked and reversed the process, they might be able to escape...

"Maya, make it quick! The water is boiling!"

"So this lever held the gears in place... and they held the cage closed... So if I get rid of this lever, the cage will pull the chain..." Maya quickly pulled out her blade and stabbed it on the lever. The wooden lever was cracked, but the cage stayed unmoved.

"Maya! Hurry!"

This time she stabbed the lever with all her might. The lever broke down, the gears started to rotate, and the cage fell. The cave opening was open!

A sudden rush of air escaped from the mechanism. Water entered her lungs and she involuntarily exhaled to force the water out. She was running out of breath! Her body began trashing around as she tried to get to the surface...

But a hand grabbed her collar and pulled her body. She tried to fight frantically, but suddenly she found herself breathing again. The hand kept pulling her along the rocky ground and into another water. She found herself hugging a big rock.

"Hold tight! Keep yourself underwater!" It was Mistress Anna.

She took another deep breath and did what she was told. She could feel the rapid river water dragged her body away, but she held tight to the rock. Slowly the water cooled her body and washed away the oil around her suit.

After a while she got up and joined Anna near the cave opening. The lake was still burning and the bandits were looking at them, smiling.

"Again I'm impressed... You escaped my best trap. But too bad, you can't reach us..." The bandit said.

"But you can't get out as well..." Anna answered.

The bandit lifted a bodysuit. "Asbestos armor... We can cross the lake without getting burnt. We've planned everything. Pretty clever, huh...?"

"Clever indeed." Anna said. "But how do you get out of that cage?"

"Simple. Just lift it up."

The bandit held the cage and lifted it, but he withdrew his hand quickly and roared in pain.

"AARGH!!! MY HAND!!!"

The metal cage! The metal cage was extremely hot! Anna had known about this.

"So you guys have planned everything, huh?"

The other bandits tried using the suit to lessen the heat, but again they failed. They had to hold the cage long enough to lift it. They had made the trap, hoping that they only needed to use it once. That was why they hadn't tested it and had missed an important detail.

"So... you guys said this oil pit is pretty generous...? It might take a loooong time before it goes out..." Anna shot back. Maya just giggled.

The bandits, however, were getting panic. They tried using the lever, pounding the gate with stone, and digging a hole on the wall, but nothing worked. They were trapped inside their own trap.

"We surrender!" One of them yelled. "Please help us! I don't want to die!"

Anna smiled. "Don't worry... You have around an hour until the air become toxic and you will pass out. Just hope that the villagers will come to arrest you before it happens."

Anna turned to Maya and smiled. "Come on. We have to tell the villagers to pick them up later." She said. "And could you spend some time at the pub?"

"Yes, mistress..."

She walked a few paces before saying, "And good work on the trap." Then she walked toward the darkness. Maya merrily followed her, knowing that they had completed another mission.

Maya Murdock was sitting in the village pub in front of the counter. The surroundings were dark and gloomy. Few customers were chatting casually in the center of the room, but most of them chose to sit near the corners and concealed themselves in the darkness.

The village of Lindenwood was just a small farming village southwest of Aragon, but it was also a junction town that connected four other towns around it. Traders and merchants usually built trading posts and warehouses here to store their goods before delivering them to the major towns. This role made the little village significant in this area.

However the significance was not matched with the local security. The royal army had used to have a military outpost in this area, but since the demon menace arose, the troops had been put into active duty to defend many important defensive points across the land. Now Lindenwood was also patronized by rogues, bandits, and brigands. The trade routes that the village served offered many opportunities for those villains who wanted to take some cargo. It had only been three months ago that the village hall decided to start hiring mercenaries to help secure the traffic lanes.

And Anna and Maya had done their job well. They just captured the three most wanted bandits, the Drake brothers. These three scoundrels had not only been raiding the caravans. They had been raiding the village itself as well. The town council had offered the biggest bounty for those who could bring the three bandits back to the village, dead or alive, with or without their booty.

Their success in capturing the bandits had rewarded them a lot of cash, but cash was not what they needed. They needed fame. And they didn't do this for their own. They're doing this on purpose.

It had been six months since Atrus White Lion left the party. And it had been six months since both her and Anna started to look for him. They had been asking every people in every village, but nobody had heard or seen anything that matched Atrus' descriptions.

Anna had been very distressed about this. She still felt that Atrus' leaving was entirely her fault. When they had nothing to do, Anna usually spent her time daydreaming. Moreover, she sometimes forgot to eat and drink in the process. Maya could notice that Anna had been losing weight a lot.

That was the main reason why Maya had advised her to take skill training in a town. She chose maces as her weapons of choice since priests and clerics were not allowed to use any wicked-looking weapons and could only use them for self-defense. Recently Anna had been practicing with Maya, and her skill developed quite well. However, her concern about Atrus' whereabouts still remained.

Then Anna had developed a new strategy. She had been accepting many mercenary tasks from the town halls or guilds to gain fame. She hoped Atrus could hear about her success and would be convinced to join them again. But Atrus' intention was unclear. Until now no news was heard about him.

Maya, however, had her own strategy. She had been spending time drinking at the pubs. Especially in towns like Lindenwood, there were many things she could learn from the fellows in pubs.

Thieves' guild was an illegal underworld organization that accommodated many needs of the villains across the land. During less troubled times, the royal army had been trying in vain to suppress this group. Honest merchants usually would stay clear of this organization, but some merchants had been known to make contacts with the group. Thieves' guild offered many unique services ranging from mercenaries for hire, raiders to put down competitors' business, until the dirtiest business, assassinations. For less aggressive people, Thieves' guild was the best source of information in the realm.

The barkeeper approached her slowly and passed on a mug filled with ale. Maya quickly drank it, feeling the burning sensation in her throat, then returned the mug. He looked at their surroundings and said, "The man you want to meet is in the left corner, next to the window. He has a rose stuck on his shirt. He knows you are here. Don't attract too many attentions." he talked again in low voice. He refilled the mug, then left her.

Maya took the mug and slowly turned around. She found the man. He was sitting in the corner. His dark cape covered his face, but the red rose on his suit was visible. He was surveying the pub patrons. Maya stood up and slowly made her way toward him, only to be stopped when a hand roughly grabbed her arm.

When she turned around she saw a short man... a dwarf... was looking at her. His long brown beard dominated his face detail. He wore a leather suit and a worker helmet. Strapped on his back was a vicious-looking battle-axe. His gaze was unfocused and his breathing was stink... He was drunk.

"Aye... Where are ye goin', lad... We haven't had fun toogether..." His voice was rude and hardly audible.

"Let me go." Maya said.

"I 'now ye... Ye caught tee Drakes...Hey fellas...! She caught tee Drakes!"

The entire customers stared at Maya, made a few stupid comments before returning to their business, paying no attention on the drunken dwarf. Annoyed, the dwarf pulled her body closer.

"Ye became quitte famous aroound 'ere... How' bout some fun, eh...?"

"Let me go!" Maya exclaimed.

"Gimme those busts!" Roughly he grabbed her breasts and pinched her nipples beneath her body suit. Maya squealed in distress.

"STAY AWAY FROM ME!!!"

She produced a knife and threw it to the air. Then she pivoted her body and kicked the dwarf on the belly, sending him crashing into a table and on the floor. A few seconds later, the knife fell down on the wooden floor just a few inches from the dwarf's face. He stared at it in terror before fainting.

Again, the customers stared at Maya, made a few stupid comments before returning to their business. Maya turned to the barkeeper, but he just smiled.

"It's okay. He's a regular customer, so I can take care of him later."

Maya smiled, then made her way to the corner of the room. She approached the table, put her mug down, the sat in front of the man. He was a middle-aged man with no special feature. He looked at her in the eyes. His eyes were dark and his stare was cold. But she cast her fears off and stared back.

"I notice the other seats are empty..." He said slowly.

"You were looking for me." Maya answered in her serious tone.

Suddenly the man smiled warmly at her. "Anna Murdock... The daughter of the great John the Plunderer... It has been an honor..."

The response shocked Maya. "How do you know me?"

"I am one of your father's man. I admired him so much. You inherit three things from him; your knife-fighting style, the way you talk... and your eyes..."

"Don't talk about my father!" She snapped. "Having him as my father had been a disgrace for me."

"You never forgive him, do you?" he asked. "He is a great man..."

"Stop it already!" She took a deep breath. "Back to the business, do you have what I want?"

He smiled. "You are looking for your master, Ranger Atrus White Lion. I'm quite surprised you were willing to enslave yourself for him. He must be a great man. I should meet him sometimes..."

He paused for a while, enjoyed her annoyed look, then continued. "I don't know where he is, but perhaps you can figure this out. Tell me what you know about what has been happening in the past few weeks in the southwestern region of the kingdom"

Maya thought for a while, then answered. "Several surprise attacks by unknown forces were reported on several villages in that area. All seven small villages and a town were utterly destroyed in the attack. No survivor was found."

"Quite right..." the man smiled. "But there's one thing that's not right. The attack didn't destroy all villages. One village is still intact, but the royal army lost all contact with the village. It's still there, hidden behind the enemy line. Rumors said they were rebelling."

(next)

This story was split into 7 parts. Jump to any of the segments from here:
1|2|3|4|5|6|7
Note: This story was originally submitted as one long story
and it was only broken into 7 parts for faster page loading.

Another top quality story by Vipers.

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