Thomas Monroe and the other passengers on a flight awaken to find that they have landed in the middle of a forest. Thomas Monroe with Megan Heartwood another passenger from the ill fated airplane, decide to go and look for help. Instead they find that they are on another world. Bewildered at the circumstances that they have landed in, they search for answers. Along the way they meet the Greggs of Kesselt, divine immortal guardians of Kesselt: one that can build anything if he knows how, another that is a great warrior, a beautiful but powerful sorceress, a youthful looking mischievous leader of men with powers of illusion, and a great powerful wizard who’s in a coma. With help from the Greggs, Monroe and Megan look for a way to get back home and survive attacks from dragons, kobolds and an evil demon raising priest of the Reaver.
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M.L. Stidmon presents Tales from the Cup and Dagger
Monroe started to come to. It was the sound of something gulping and chewing on something that brought him to the realm of consciousness. He laystill with his eyes still closed as he used his other senses to figure out what was happening. He had no loss of memory, fully remembering the Sormirian soldiers and the dinosaurs. He also remembered the sight of the high priest galloping off with the limp body of Megan. It was that last image that got him moving.
He was lying face down on the ground. He opened his eyes and saw that the rifle was not too far away. He knew it to be empty, so he looked for the angel sword without moving anything but his eyes. He could not see it but saw several weapons with in arm’s reach. He also saw one of the raptor dinosaurs feeding on the hindquarters of a dead horse with its back towards him. He did not see any others but thought that there was one close behind him also feeding upon something. He could not hear any fighting or anything else to give him encouragement of assistance.
Monroe focused on where a spear stood vertically, having been stuck into the sod. There was also a saberlike sword within easy reach, by the corpse of one of the Sormirians. The eyes were lifeless as the head was faced towards him. He could also see the eviscerated gashes in the man’s torso. To move a muscle might bring the nearby dinosaurs upon him, Monroe thought. He was in a very compromising position; therefore, if he was to move it was to be with a purpose. Monroe took a deep breath, ignoring the pain throbbing from the bump to the head. He had checked his body and decided there were no broken bones or serious injuries. He let the breath out and took another one.
He was quick as he jumped to his feet and grabbed the shaft of the spear. With momentum and the element of surprise he drove the spear tip into the back of the feeding dinosaur. The dinosaur had heard him rising and was in the process of lifting its head up and turning when it felt the spear thrust into it. The dinosaur was racked by spasms as it focused on the wooden shaft sticking out from it. Monroe had not stopped moving when he stuck the dinosaur with the spear. Immediately he grabbed for the saber just as the other dinosaur that he had suspected feeding behind him was charging down upon him. He tried again the earlier move of sidestepping as the raptor tried to jump onto him. The only thing the lizard was to come into contact with was a flashing steel blade.
This time Monroe was only able to slash superficially into the raptor’s shoulder. As the creature was maddened by pain, it turned upon him. Monroe planted his feet and swung the saber, batlike, at the oncoming reptile’s head.It was not a clean stroke, but the blade bit deeply into the side of the raptor.
The raptor reared up to get away from Monroe, but the beast exposed its neck to a quick thrust. It fell backwards, gushing blood from severed arteries.Monroe was not done, as the first raptor had pulled the spear out from its back and now was slowly coming towards him. It was amazing how these creatures would not give up and were so relentless. Monroe still had the sword and prepared for the dinosaur to come to him. As he waited for the creature to come, he stole a glance from side to side, looking for other dinosaurs or survivors. He saw none as he brought his attention to the last remaining raptor. The dinosaur was now well with in its phenomenal leaping limits. The creature was wary in attacking him, Monroe then decided to take the fight to the reptile.
Monroe raised his arms with the sword and made to rush at the badly wounded reptile. The raptor cowered as it prepared for an attack it expected. Monroe did not rush it and smiled at the creature. He then started to back slowly away from it towards where he thought the rifle lay. The creature got up on its feet and stared back at the human. Monroe continued to move backwards till he saw the rifle slightly to his right. As he was moving slowly he had reached into his pouch and extracted a bullet. With a quick lunge, he scooped up the gun and worked the bolt open. The dinosaur made a dash for the human. Monroe was fluid and placed the round in the chamber and slammed the bolt home. The raptor was nearly upon him when he brought the gun up and fired.
The last of the raptor dinosaurs lurched backwards as it was shot in the chest. Monroe worked the bolt open, ejecting the casing. He fed another round into the chamber. It was not needed as he scanned the area for any other dinosaurs or dangers. He then took a moment to load the magazine of the rifle and look for and retrieve the angel sword. He found himself apparently alone. There were several horses wandering around, but none of the soldiers had survived. He remembered that Megan had been carried off.
Now that she was gone it was Bor Gregg that his immediate concern turned to. Monroe looked about and found the Gregg lying face down with a dead raptor on him.
Monroe rolled the reptile off the Gregg and then rolled him over. Thomas Monroe had seen his share of battlefield wounds but was shocked as the innards of the Gregg spilled out from a gaping hole in his abdomen. Monroe was at a loss for feelings and words at the sight of such a mortal wound. He knelt at the Gregg’s side and with head hung low mourned his passing. Monroe wept at losing such a good friend and trusted comrade in arms.
Monroe sat there, for the longest time with his head hung low in remembrance of the Gregg and all that he had done for Megan and him. He remembered the man’s great sense of honor and loyalty. Monroe admired his high personal code of chivalry. His willingness to sacrifice himself for the good of others was proof of his unselfishness. The man had been smart and wise at the same time. He had also shown a wry sense of humor that Monroe had appreciated. He sighed at the loss of such a great man. It therefore came as a heartskipping surprise to Monroe when he saw the Greggs eyes were alert and focusing on him.
"Easy, Borja, you got a bad wound," Monroe said, trying to comfort the man, knowing that he could die at any moment.
"I’ll live, but I need your help." The Gregg could barely be heard.
"Sure, buddy, what will it be?"
"Push my guts back in and bandage up my stomach."
Monroe looked down upon him with a look of incredulity on his face. His wound was mortal. There was no way that anyone could live with their entrails not only literally ripped out but irreparably damaged. Monroe found it very unlikely that there was a doctor or surgeon of that kind of skill on Kesselt. He doubted that an Earthly physician could have saved the Gregg, even with a technologically advanced operating room and a modern surgical staff.
"You can do it and I will live," the Gregg whispered through considerablepain.
Monroe looked down at him in disbelief. He had seen this type of injury before; the man did not last but five minutes at best. There was no way the Gregg could possibly survive with that wound, out in the middle of nowhere, with any possibility of a competent doctor coming to aid him. Monroe thought it futile to try and save him and thought it best to just comfort him before the end came for the Gregg.
"Please help me," Bor Gregg said, pleading. "Just put my innards back in."
Monroe continued to look at him with pity and sympathy.
"I will live," Bor Gregg said with a coaxing determination. "I need your help. If I try to do it I will just pass out."
Monroe was shocked into action. The dying man was so determined despite the inevitable outcome. Monroe decided that by putting the various organs back in, Bor Gregg would be together and have more dignity in death.
Monroe reached down for the exposed intestines and organs. They were wet and slimy to the touch. Monroe scooped up the various organs and tried to replace them in what he thought was the correct anatomical order and placement. All the while he saw the effects of pain on the face of the Gregg. Sweat poured from every pore, as the color of his skin went to a cold, pasty white. To the Gregg’s credit, he did not squirm or move a muscle. He clenched his teeth and tried to remain quiet, but at one point he did let out a low groan. When all was done that could be done, Monroe saw that Bor Gregg was unconscious. He did not bother checking for a pulse, he was dead. Again Monroe felt alone in this world. Bor Gregg had been unselfish in his aid and generosity and had died in serving Monroe and Megan in getting back to their home. Monroe covered the Gregg’s body with a blanket, leaving his head uncovered, unwilling to cover up such a great man.
Monroe sat back and looked off to the south, where he had seen the high priest ride off. He was exhausted and sore and wanted to take a moment to catch his breath and calm his mind. For in a modified version of an old saying, hell hath no fury than how he felt at that moment. The Priest could run but he could not hide, and Monroe would get him. At the moment though he wanted to take a moment and catch his breath and clear his mind of the loss of the Gregg. He reached his hand down into the pouch of his belt and withdrew his pipe and tobacco.
He sat there puffing slowly on the pipe. He had spotted his horse and saw regretfully that it lay severely wounded on the ground. There were a couple of other horses he thought seemed to be all right. He decided he would try and capture one of these and stock up with whatever he could find. As he sat thinking he suddenly felt a hand on his.
Saying that Monroe was startled would be an understatement comparedto the reaction he showed at that simple touch. He literally jumped to his feet while spinning around, pointing the gun at the unknown. At the same time he was moving, he yelped rather loudly in a high-pitched squelch.
He looked down at the body of the Gregg and was shocked to see him looking up at him. The Off-worlder sank back down on to his knees beside Bor Gregg. He looked at the Gregg and was startled to see his eyes blink. Monroe was so sure that the Gregg had died.
"Water," the Gregg said in a very low whisper. Monroe did not hesitate and found a nearby water bottle. With Monroe helping by holding his head up, Bor Gregg drank deeply several gulps. When he had enough, Monroe laid the head down. Willing to comfort the Gregg, Monroe stayed at his side.
"I should be able to move in the morning," the Gregg said in a stronger voice. "How’s Megan?"
Monroe looked at the man and decided he was delusional. He was going to die and he was stating that he was going to live as if he had a bad scratch. Nevertheless, he was pleased that the Gregg was thinking of Megan, even as he was living his last moments.