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The Old Firm

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Jollyrei

Angelus Mortis
Joined
Apr 27, 2015
Likes
45,002
Location
Great White North
Old Firm 10:

It was one of those quiet, warm days, when the air seems to be waiting for something and the birds have all gone to sleep. Maybe that was just an impression, but there was a sense of anticipation, which was all to the good, from the perspective of the two men strolling along the path through the forested parkland.

Despite the warm weather and stillness, they were both dressed in well pressed dark business suits, with white shirts and black ties. The suits were well tailored, but despite fitting each man perfectly, they gave the impression that they were about to burst out of them.

“We’ve been here for days now and haven’t so much as killed anyone,” said Phlebas.

“One must have a bit of patience, Mr. Phlebas,” said Jollyrei. “I remain convinced that our employer will contact us shortly with final instructions.”

“And if he doesn’t, Mr. Jollyrei?” asked Phlebas.

“If he doesn’t,” said Jollyrei, picking an apple off a tree, inspecting it with a discerning eye, and then crushing it in his fist, “then you will have another outlet to alleviate your current boredom.”

“I don’t like boredom, Mr. Jollyrei,” said Phlebas.

“In any event, we will shortly be at the rendezvous point,” said Jollyrei, “I have a tremendous sense that our long pursuit of this enterprise is nearly at an end.”

“Something, or someone, is going to end anyway, Mr. Jollyrei,” said Phlebas. “I’m not that happy that we’re working for a squirrel.”

“As long as he pays us, Mr. Phlebas,” said Jollyrei. “His references were good.”

“References can be faked, Mr. Jollyrei,” grumbled Phlebas.

“Quite true,” said Jollyrei, “in which case he will find out that our penalty clauses are not faked, and…”

“…are fatal,” said Phlebas.

***

Wragg strode into his private suite in the West Wing of the Abbey. The suite contained a study, a bedroom, a large ensuite bathroom and, most importantly to him at the moment, a closet. Windar followed a few paces behind, giving an account of the defenses.

“We opened the sluice gates from the river and re-filled the moat,” he said, “and we managed a few barricades on the main driveway in. Then there are the bars at the main doors, and we knocked down the footbridge and barricaded the back gate from the gardens,” he said.

“Pants!” said Wragg.

“I’m sorry if it’s not enough,” said Windar, “but it was the best we could do in a short time. That Windrunning Rodent fellow said he didn’t think the Old Firm can swim.”

“No,” said Wragg, “I meant, I need pants. Trousers.” He stripped off the lacy loincloth that Eulalia had given him. He looked at it wistfully. It reminded him of a rather pleasant experience. Perhaps he would keep it as a souvenir.

He selected appropriate undergarments and a serviceable pair of trousers, suitable for hunting and outdoor pursuits, specially tailored for the discerning man on the go, or so his clothier had assured him. They fit, anyway.

“There,” said Wragg, “much better. A chap doesn’t really feel ready for action while wearing nothing but a lace loincloth and a leather jacket.”

“Words to live by, I’m sure,” said Windar. “Anyway, those are our defenses.”

“What are?” asked Wragg. “My leather jacket?”

“No,” said Windar patiently, “the moat and barricades and a sturdy barred door.”

“And you say this black squirrel fellow advised you on this,” said Wragg.

“Not exactly. He said he had some past experience and could find out where the Old Firm was,” said Windar. “He’s out doing that now, I expect.”

“Why would he do that?” asked Wragg. “What’s in it for him?”

“I think he likes Messaline,” said Windar.

“Everyone likes Messaline,” said Wragg.

“Yes,” said Windar, “but large squirrels especially seem to like her. That red squirrel, for example.”

“Good point,” said Wragg. “Racing Rodent. Solid fellow. So squirrels like Messaline. Still, seems a bit thin to base our survival on. Is the drawbridge up?”

“Of course,” said Windar.

There was a creaking sound from some distance away, followed by a slight vibration and rumbling, and then a solid thumping crash.

“What would you say that sound was?” asked Wragg, pulling on a pullover shirt and his jacket again.

“I would reluctantly have to consider that it was the drawbridge,” said Windar.

“I was afraid of that,” said Wragg. He tossed a sword to Windar from a nearby umbrella stand, and selected one himself. Both were solid working swords. “We’d best go find the girls and make sure of a few things.”

“You wouldn’t happen to have a couple of pistols around,” asked Windar.

“Don’t be silly,” said Wragg. “Guns are dangerous and don’t fit in the umbrella stand.”

* * *

Racing Rodent watched the Old Firm leave their hotel. He tailed them as they walked down the road and then off onto the gravel drive that led to the Abbey. He watched as they easily passed booby trapped defenses, seemingly unharmed.

He scrambled up a tree to get a better view of the Abbey. It stood surrounded by a moat, now filled with water, and with its drawbridge up. That didn’t last long.

With a creak and a rumble, the drawbridge lowered, rumbling down on it’s ponderous chains and crashed down over the moat.

Then he watched the heavy gates of the Abbey open. The two men of the Old Firm strolled across the bridge and Racing Rodent watched them pass inside. He saw the door close behind them, but not before he clearly saw a black squirrel face glancing around, grinning evilly, and then withdrawing.

“So,” muttered the Racing Rodent. “I was right.”

He checked his weapons, and his bag of nuts. All in place, he thought. He descended to the ground and ran quietly across the grass to the driveway. He scurried quickly across the bridge over the moat, and then, making sure he was unobserved, he started to scale the walls. Humans always thought they had the advantage, but sometimes it was just better to be an oversized sentient rodent.

Now, what part of the Abbey would they be in, he wondered. He knew he had to be on time. Late would likely mean that he was not the only “late” person.

“Shit this place is big,” he said to himself. “If I were Wragg, Windar, and three women, where would I be?” That produced a number of conflicting answers, mostly based on his own ideas of where he would want to be with three young women. Bedroom, sauna, and pool all sounded unlikely at this time of day, given the circumstances.

“You looking for someone,” asked a Raven. Racing Rodent looked at the Raven. He had always heard they were intelligent, but none had ever talked to him before. Mind you, he thought, not talking to squirrels might be considered intelligent by some species.

“Got friends in trouble,” said the Rodent. “Wragg, Windar and three girls.”

“Ballroom,” said the Raven. “I noticed some activity in there.”

“Cheers,” said the Rodent. “And you are?”

“Just a friend of Eulalia’s,” said the Raven.

“A familiar?”

“Don’t get cheeky. Nothing like that,” said the Raven. “Just friends, but I wouldn’t want anything nasty to happen to her. Anyway, go carefully. That Old Firm is in there now.”

“You seem very well informed,” said the Rodent.

“Bloody genius, me,” said the Raven. “They’ve got a black squirrel with them. Nasty piece of work there too.”

“I know,” said Racing Rodent. “He’s some sort of cousin.”

“Family is the worst, isn’t it?” said the Raven. “You get to choose your friends, but…”

“Right,” said Racing Rodent. “Have you seen any Elves? Amazons?”

“Not that anyone can count,” said the Raven. “It’s generally quite quiet around here. There’s one Elf, a girl, in the Abbey.”

“Yeah,” said Racing Rodent, “That part I knew. I would rather have an army of Elves.”

“I think if the Old Firm is hanging around,” said the Raven, “you can bet there isn’t an army around, unless it’s one that they’ve brought with them.”

“Good point,” said Racing Rodent. “Okay, I’ll have to improvise something. How do I get in?”

“Window?” suggested the Raven, cocking his head to the left.

Racing Rodent looked and he saw the vaulted ceiling of the ballroom, along the East Wing of the Abbey. The windows on the upper balcony were open. At least it was a way in.

* * *

Messaline pulled up one of the brass plates in the floor of the ballroom, revealing a square hole. She seemed pleased. She got Erin to help her carry one of the crosses over to the hole and the bottom of the stipes fit neatly into the hole, letting it stand firmly upright.

“This is good,” said Messaline. “Now, we just take off your dress,” she said to Barb.

“Why?” asked Barb, as Messaline undid the clasps at the back and started to slide the dress down. Messaline playfully pinched one of Barbs nipples, and caressed the other breast and the dress fell to the floor without too much further complaint.

In short order, Barb was standing on a chair with her back to the cross, and Messaline was fastening the leather cuffs to her wrists, holding her in place.

“Is this the good part yet?” asked Barb, “because I’m mainly feeling exposed.”

“Don’t worry,” said Erin. “I won’t let anything bad happen to you. This isn’t such a great idea, you know,” she added to Messaline. “We should be staying alert and not fooling around with this stuff.”

“We are in a large castle, and we are defended,” said Messaline. “There is no sense of immediate danger. Now, sweet Barb, this is the good part.” Messaline slipped Barb’s kinis down her legs and her tongue played between Barb’s thighs, which parted involuntarily. Barb gasped. Thus distracted, Messaline had no real difficulty in moving Barb’s feet off the chair and onto the small footrest on the cross. She fastened Barb’s ankles with the leather straps attached to the cross.

“Hey,” said Barb. “You tricked me. Get me down.”

“Erin,” said Messaline, “Barb needs company. Help get me up.”

The brass plates were set in the centre of the floor in a semi-circle. There were 5 of them, exactly the same number as the crosses. Messaline opened the one closest to Barb’s cross and set up another cross.

“Wragg has a good attention to detail,” said Messaline happily. “This is quality workmanship.” She moved the chair over to the empty cross, and stripped off her dress. With Erin’s help, she was soon beside Barb, both women bound securely to their crosses.

“There,” said Messaline happily, to Barb. “It’s better when there are two of us. Does this not make you feel free?”

“It would,” said Barb, “or it could, except that now Wragg and Windar are here staring at us. Hey!” she said to Wragg and Windar, “haven’t you seen a naked woman before.”

“Oh dear,” said Erin, covering her face with her hands.

“I have,” said Windar. “What about you, Milord?”

“Definitely,” said Wragg. “Lots of times. Very often here. Never seem to get tired of it.”

“Funny how many times we get asked that question though,” said Windar.

“Look,” said Barb, “if you two are done fooling around…”

“Don’t pay attention to them,” said Messaline. “Just experience.”

“Do you think this is exactly wise?” asked Wragg. “I mean, the two of you look absolutely stunning up there, and under ordinary circumstances this is exactly how I would imagine the afternoon going, but in the present circumstances…”

“We’re probably under attack as we speak,” added Windar.

“We are?” asked Erin.

“The drawbridge seems to have fallen,” said Windar. “We came to make sure you were okay, and here you are crucifying each other.”

“And very helpful that is, too,” said a voice. “Wouldn’t you say, Mr. Phlebas.”

“Saves us some trouble, Mr. Jollyrei,” said Phlebas. The two stood just inside the door of the ballroom, blocking any escape. They seemed unconcerned that the three not-crucified people in front of them were all armed. Mr. Jollyrei closed the door.

There was a loud Elvish battle cry, and Erin launched herself at the pair, her sword swishing from its scabbard. Unfortunately, when she got to where they were supposed to be, they weren’t there anymore. She charged through empty air and crashed against the doors. Mr. Phlebas picked her up by her hair and took away her sword. Erin struggled in his grip, landing a few solid punches which had no visible effect, except to cause mild discomfort.

“Mr. Jollyrei…” said Phlebas.

“My apologies, Mr. Phlebas,” said Jollyrei. He walked over to where Phlebas was taking punches and kicks, and applied pressure to the back of Erin’s neck with his hand. She went instantly still.

“Too many distractions, Mr. Phlebas,” said Jollyrei. “We need some calm.”

“I think we’d better do something,” said Windar.

“Run?” asked Wragg. “Of course we should do something, but a frontal attack seems futile, given their speed.”

Phlebas pulled his switchblade out of his pocket and it flicked open with an ominous click. It looked lethal, especially to Erin whose eye was about an inch from the point of the blade now.

“Gentlemen,” said Jollyrei to Wragg and Windar, “I would invite you to decide whether to die heroically now, or assess the odds of coming out of this alive later…”

“Which are slim, Mr. Jollyrei,” said Phlebas helpfully.

“Indeed,” said Jollyrei, “and I would add that any immediate heroics will result in…”

“…the immediate death of this Elf girl,” said Phlebas. The blade never wavered from its position one inch from Erin’s right eye.

“I think we’ll opt for the gamble on coming up with something later,” said Wragg.

“Splendid,” said Jollyrei. He picked up Erin’s sword and was suddenly behind Wragg. “In that case, I would invite you to tie your colleague here to that chair.” The chair sat in front of the crosses where Erin had left it.

“Wragg…” said Windar.

“Just sit in the chair, Windar old boy,” said Wragg. “I’ll think of something, but if I’m dead of a sword wound, it will take longer. Something like that anyway,” he added.

Windar sighed and sat down. Wragg took rope from Jollyrei and tied Windar to the chair. Jollyrei checked to make sure things were secure.

Wragg chose that moment to spin around, picking up his own sword from the ground. It swished smoothly through a perfect arc headed accurately toward Jollyrei’s neck. It was lethal silver lightning. Wragg prided himself on his swordsmanship. He felt confident.

There was a clang as Jollyrei impossibly parried. Then there was a thump as Wragg was hit on the head with a fist and went down, stunned.

“Let us not act too hastily,” said Jollyrei.

“Could make mistakes, Mr. Jollyrei,” said Phlebas.

“I thought he had him,” said Barb, from her cross.

“I think Erin was right,” said Messaline. “This was a bad time to play.”

Jollyrei opened a couple of the other brass plates on the floor, exposing two more of the square holes. He easily picked up two crosses from against the wall and in short order had them lying next to the holes.

“My dear Lady Erin,” said Jollyrei. “If you would be so kind, remove Lord Wragg’s clothing.”

“No!” said Erin, still hanging helplessly in Phlebas’ grip.

“I suppose I must then threaten the safety of the Lady Barb,” Jollyrei said. “I won’t kill her...”

“Yet”, said Phlebas.

“…but I can cause considerable pain.”

“Don’t do anything they ask!” exclaimed Messaline.

“Dear, dear,” said Jollyrei. “So very uncooperative.” He reached up to Barb’s left hand, so both Erin and Messaline could see, and took hold of her little finger. He bent it suddenly. Barb screamed.

“Does the class have any further questions,” asked Jollyrei.

Phlebas dropped Erin to the floor. She staggered to her feet and went to the prone Wragg. Clumsily she pulled off his trousers and shirt, and the rest of his kit. “I’m sorry,” she said.

Barb whimpered in pain, and watched as Phlebas lifted Wragg like a doll and dropped him onto one of the crosses, fastening the leather cuffs.

Jollyrei turned to Erin and suddenly tore her shirt in two, stripping it off her. Her breeches were torn apart like tissue and fell off her. Erin struggled but his grip was like steel on her arm. She knew they were hard to kill, but she hadn’t thought it was impossible. Now she wasn’t sure.

Jollyrei pulled her across the floor and threw her down onto the fourth cross. She landed on her side with the breath knocked out of her. Phlebas pulled her into position, and fastened the cuffs around her wrists and feet.

Between the two of them, Jollyrei and Phlebas easily raised the two crosses which stood roughly facing Barb and Messaline.

“That’s better, I think, Mr. Jollyrei,” said Phlebas.

“Set-up is always tedious, Mr. Phlebas,” said Jollyrei. “All those little details to work out.”

“I suppose I’d better let him know we’re ready for the main event,” said Phlebas.

“Ah, yes,” said Jollyrei. “It is time for our friends here to meet our employer, and the host of these festivities.”

“You call this a festivity?” asked Windar.

“Well, it’s festive to some of us, anyway,” said Jollyrei.

“The turkey doesn’t like Christmas, Mr. Jollyrei,” said Phlebas. “It’s still festive.”

“A salient point, Mr. Phlebas,” said Jollyrei.

To be continued…
 

RacingRodent

Potent Rodent
Joined
Feb 12, 2013
Likes
26,890
Location
Surprisingly close to a military firing range
Well, at least I get the comfy chair, rather than the cross (at least so far):eek:. Now where is that SWAT team? Did they stop for donuts and coffee on the way?:rolleyes:
Nuts apparently

swatsqui.jpg
 

phlebas

PRIMUS POENUS
Joined
Feb 17, 2006
Likes
84,436
Location
Oz
Held in their nut sack? Sorry, sorry, that's bag of nuts, apparently.

“I don’t like boredom, Mr. Jollyrei,” said Phlebas.

And indeed I don't. Lucky there is no chance of that here, nice work Jolly :)
Now Mr Jollyrei and Mr Phlebas will triumph and the story will end. That's how it goes, isn't it? We are the heroes, aren't we?

or

8ubGFLt.gif
 

Wragg

Chronicler of Crux
Staff member
Joined
Aug 31, 2011
Likes
74,579
Location
Blighty
A chap doesn’t really feel ready for action while wearing nothing but a lace loincloth and a leather jacket.”
Depends a bit upon the action, of course..

I wouldn’t want anything nasty to happen to her.
Again :rolleyes:

There was a clang as Jollyrei impossibly parried. Then there was a thump as Wragg was hit on the head with a fist and went down, stunned.
So, would that have gone any worse if I had been wearing a a lace loincloth and a leather jacket? :confused:

Phlebas easily raised the two crosses which stood roughly facing Barb and Messaline.
Well, Phlebas, old bean, I suppose I should be grateful to you for a decent view, at least... :cool:
 
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