Metamor Keep -- Snips
By Christian O'kane
Rickkter, Matthias and Misha headed slowly down the hall. All three moved with care, checking every door, niche, and gallery they came to.
"I wish you could use your axe," Matthias commented.
Misha laughed, "Can you see me trying to swing that five foot long axe in this corridor?" The fox was dressed in chain mail armor. He was carrying a shield no bigger than a dinner plate; called a buckler in his right hand. In his left was a short sword.
The rat nodded in agreement, "shame, I think we'll need it's magic."
Rickkter scowled, "I still can't believe all you took was that tiny buckler, and a short sword."
The fox morph turned to say something but was interrupted by the ringing of a loud bell.
"ALARM! ALARM! POST TWO!" Someone shouted from down the corridor.
Misha muttered a curse as all three broke into a run.
Madog blended into the shadows so perfectly that the four soldiers marching past saw no trace of him. The automaton let them pass without attacking, he was too close to his target to be distracted.
He was in a large corridor lined with all sorts of works of art, some of them quite beautiful. There were a dozen of the large vases like the one he was hiding behind spaced along the walls. Alternating with the vases were life sized marble statues. Many of them were centuries old and masterpieces of artwork, but Madog paid little attention to them. All he had eyes for
was his target, the Duke of Metamor.
His target was standing at the end of the corridor by a door marked with the ducal emblem. He was surrounded by four guards, all dressed in plate mail armor and carrying long swords and shields.
Moving slowly and staying close to the wall the mechanical creature slipped closer to the Duke. Stealthily he moved making not a sound and crept past a tall painted statue of a woman holding a lance and a book.
When he stopped it was behind another large vase identical to the first. There was barely ten feet separating him from the Duke. This was as close as he could get without being seen.
Madog stared at his enemy long and hard. In his mind he could picture himself pulling that haughty nobleman to the floor and ripping him to pieces. It had all preprogrammed into him by his builder and master; Vernosa.
First he would cripple the Duke by biting the hamstrings at the back of the legs. When the man fell down he would go for the neck, one strong bite would take off the head and kill him instantly. Then the automaton would sever all the limbs, and rip the entire corpse into many small pieces. Particular care was to be taken with the head. "Nothing recognizable must be left," those were the exact words used in the command.
The metal creature stood up and concentrated on the magic he needed. He opened his mouth and exhaled, a large cloud of smoke quickly started billowing from his mouth. It was thick, blinding and spread with frightening speed. In a few moments the corridor was completely fill with the blinding fog.
Madog could hear the guards shouting in alarm and he knew they were blinded by the smoke. The fog didn't bother Madog, his magically created sight allowed him to see the everything. It also allowed him to see the Duke clearly.
He bolted from his hiding spot, easily avoiding the sentries and headed straight for the his target. He sank his teeth into the man's left leg and the figure collapsed to the ground without uttering a sound. With his powerful jaws fulfilling the rest of the command took only a few moments.
The three keepers turned the corner and were greeted by a solid wall of fog. "Oh boy!" Misha muttered as they came to a halt.
"Did you know Madog could make fog?" Rickkter asked.
"No," the fox replied in a small voice.
"Terrific, what else can he do that we don't know about?" the raccoon asked.
Staying close together they moved cautiously into the fog. Misha gripped his sword a little tighter. He was completely blinded by the thick clouds. Although he was standing less than a foot from him, Misha could only make out the vaguest outline of Rickkter. Instead of his sight he had to rely on his sense of smell and hearing. It was times like this he really appreciated being a fox.
He could smell a faint scent of blood, and sweat in the air. There had been a fight here, within the last few minutes. Up ahead he heard a faint groan, and a he could barely see that a figure lay sprawled on the floor. All three keepers stopped at the same moment for the same reason; fear of an ambush. Those fears were well grounded.
None of them heard him coming. Suddenly a figure loomed out of the fog and rushed straight for Misha's throat. He barely had time to bring his buckler up before he was knocked to the ground. Madog was standing on his chest, teeth bared, snarling. Misha stabbed with his sword, going for the belly where all the important gears were. As the point struck home, Madog clamped his jaws on the shield and wrenched it from the fox's grip.
Rickkter loomed over both of them and drove the point of his war staff deep into Madog's neck. The automaton yelped in pain, swung it's head around and bit the end of the weapon off.
The raccoon dropped the now useless staff and drew out two long daggers. Madog leaped over Misha's head and vanished into the fog. Rickkter ran after in close pursuit. Misha stood up and followed close behind.
The fog suddenly thinned out and Madog was gone without a trace. "How does he do that?" Misha growled in frustration.
Rickkter shook his head, "I don't know, but it's a good trick." He looked around. "Where's the rat?" he asked.
"Too late," came the faint voice of the automaton from down the hall. "Duke already destroyed."
"Oh God, NO!" Misha whispered in horror.
The raccoon started down the hall after Madog. "That thing is mine," he shouted. Misha headed back into the fog to find Matthias and the Duke. He paused for a moment, "Rickkter, be careful. I don't want to lose a good friend."
"I have no intention of doing something bold and stupid. If I find this thing I'll send back word." Rickkter replied.
The fox watched as his new friend headed after Madog. Rickkter was arrogant and annoying at times but he was a good friend, and he'd hate to see him killed. Misha walked back into the fog to where Matthias and the Duke were, afraid of what he may find there.
The keep was in an uproar, soldiers with drawn weapons marched past Kimberly . Servants were rushing back and forth, and a lot of people were just milling around in confusion. There was talk of an attack on the Duke. Others whispered of some evil thing being loose in the castle killing people, and that Thomas himself had been horribly mangled.
The lady rat ignored all such talk as just wild gossip and continued on towards Father Hough's room. It took all her skill to keep her tray of food from being knocked from her grasp as she dodged the frantic crowds.
Madog followed her silently some paces behind. The hallway was too crowded and noisy. He would wait till she went into some quieter place and then strike.
The metal monster watched as she stopped in front of a door. The rat woman knocked then entered, leaving the door open behind her. Madog crept up to the door and slipped through.
Inside the room a small boy was seated on the edge of the bed drinking water from a brass cup. Seated next to him was Kimberly with a knife in one hand and a loaf of bread in the other. Both sat there in shock as they stared in shock at the automaton. Madog didn't hesitate but leaped straight at Hough, teeth bared.
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