Continues from: The Vega Run is Found


Lost Island - Misty Falls

The jungle opens to a wide clearing that reveals a high, broad lip of rock over which water cascades in a thin sheet falling into a clear, wide pool that appears deep enough for swimming. The sound of the drops hitting the surface of the pool is musical and soothing to the ears. Almost level banks are thickly-carpeted with rich emerald moss shaded by giant ferns that cluster in graceful arcs, perpetually be-jeweled with beads from the mist given off by the falls.
Behind the falls there appears to be a ledge that allows one to pass behind the sheet of water and remain dry. The path skirts the clearing and continues on up towards the peak.

Midday finds Thea and D'had trekking carefully and quietly through the island jungle, avoiding the paths and heading inland to scope out the raiders camp and hopefully find at least some of D'had's missing family. Having concealed the boat and covered their tracks by smoothing the beach sand, they've gathered the necessary supplies, food, water, rope, knives, etc. Both have changed into clothes appropriate for bushwhacking, booted feet placed carefully, each helping the other by holding shrubbery aside and easing it back in their wake. Each keeping a sharp ear and eye for people, voices. It's rough going and their progress has been slow, the day hot. Tired… thirsty…

They've made good progress, but trekking through the jungle underbrush is tiring work even without the heat of the tropics. "Shouldn't be far now." D'had comments, pausing in their progress across the island as they come into a bit of a clearing. Here they should still be able to talk without too much risk of being over heard, though he does still keep his voice down. He can see she's tired, and they still have a good day's work ahead of them.

Thea takes those last few steps into the clearing, seeing he has paused, she swings down her pack, rummaging inside for her water, she draws it out, her sleeve wiped across her brow comes away damp. Meeting D'had's eyes searchingly, she answers lowly, "You doing alright?" So far they've found nothing and she knows he's hoping. Her bottle is lifted, the liquid poured into her mouth, the bottle offered over.

"I'm alright," D'had replies, taking the bottle when its offered and lifting it for a long drink. Finishing, he hands it back to her. They've still a ways to go, he's still confident enough (on the surface at least) that they'll find some sign or clue as to his family's wellbeing and whereabouts. "You?" He's going to take time to make sure she's ready to keep moving before he pushes on at least.

Thea returns that bottle to her pack, hands him a wrapped meatroll, has one for herself in hand as she swings her pack back on. She's ready to go, determined not to hold him up, willing to press on. A single nod is her reply before a light hand reaches to tap him over his heart. "Meant in there," she clarifies briefly, wanting to know, to convey her support for him, but not hold him up. Even while she whispers to him, focused on his reply, her eyes and ears are alert, doing as he instructed her earlier.

"I'm alright," D'had repeats that simple answer, though the subtle smile he shares with her is a silent comment on his appreciation for her concern. A quick kiss before he unwraps that meatroll that's been handed over. "Should keep goin' though," he adds before turning to push on towards the cove where they'd come across the ships.

Thea accepts that standard answer with a resigned sort of smile. He'd probably give her the same reassurance even if he were dying. She returns his kiss, saying what he likely doesn't need to hear audibly anyway: she is here for him. He knows. Slipping in behind him, she follows, eating as she goes, careful not to step on sticks or trip over stones. As she can see the glimmer of water ahead through the trees and figures where they are headed, her caution increases. Faint voices begin to make themselves heard - raucous laughter, strident commands brought to them on the landward breeze.

D'had eats on the way, the wrapper having been shoved into a pocket as they left the clearing. Its when the sound of those voices reaches him that he slows down, choosing his steps more carefully so as not to be heard. Creeping closer he finds a spot where she'll be able to slip in beside him, giving them both a good clear view of those around the pool yet hopefully with enough cover to remain hidden themselves.

Down by the pool there is a rough camp made with several people occupying it. The firepit has been enlarged and by the bedrolls and hammocks it is clear that at least twenty people have slept here. Probably off loading contraband, the camp is presently lightly guarded with but three men, one seated and leaning against a tree trunk, appears to be asleep. The other two are near the firepit playing cards. It becomes immediately evident that there are also people there who are NOT renegades. Tied with ropes around one ankle, a length to give them room to move about 10 paces are two women and a young teenage girl. Afar off barely audible the sounds from the cove can be heard. Men on the ships, working.

Thea draws up beside D'had, easing herself under the thick tropical growth, careful not to make a sound. It's the women that draw her eye first and she points wordlessly, eyes bright, are turned back to him, waiting for his next move.

D'had takes in the scene, taking mental notes as he scans the clearing around the pool. Thea's point draws his attention towards the women and he nods. Three is doable, if they're careful not to allow those three to alert the rest. "I need you ta get over there," where the girls are given the direction he points. "Cut 'em loose if ya can." One more woman those two might not notice if they glance over. Him, they certainly would.

Thea raises dark brows, eyes sliding pointedly to the three men and back to D'had. Her silent question: Three against one? She knows he can fight, handle himself, but really! One may be asleep now, but he's sure to wake if things go awry. She'll not argue, but he'll see it in her eyes begging him: please don't get yourself killed. She maintains the eye contact with him, holding it for a long moment before noiselessly shrugging out of the encumbering pack and withdrawing a knife. "Could have brought my crossbow and saved you some trouble if you'd been straight with me back at Xanadu," she mutters a tinge resentfully (her nerves talking) as her chin jerks towards the three men.

"Yeah," D'had will let her say it now, even though they've already been through the 'if I'd told you we wouldn't have gotten this far'. He keeps his gaze locked on her for the moment. "We'll be fine." He's sure he can make it work, hoping a least. "Just keep them quiet. I'll keep an eye on them," the guards left behind that is. At least he's not planning on running out and attacking.

Thea would so gladly have used her crossbow on those creeps, too. With a slight nod to him, a fleeting brush to his cheek with light fingers, her heart in her eyes (because, lets face it, things could go horribly awry, given the circumstances), she wriggles back to skirt the clearing and do his bidding. Working her way unseen and over to where those women are and doing it silently takes more time than she would like, all the while worried those men from the ships will be returning. She makes it on all fours, keeping trees and shrubs between her and the clearing until there is naught but the space to cross to that tree where the women as held. It'll be on her stomach through the ferns now, which will be far more of a challenge to accomplish unseen.

Over by the firepit the card game continues with an occasional glance and a vulgar comment tossed towards the women. Sleepy Guard snores - he's likely been up all night on watch. The women sit in a group, backs against the tree trunk to which they are tethered, looking drawn but resolute. They're hanging in.

One eye on the men playing cards, an occasional glance towards the sleeper to make sure he hasn't moved either. The other eye trying to track Thea's progress through the brush, not easy but that only means she's doing a good job of not drawing attention to her movements. If she can pull it off they'll be set, if not at least the guards will likely go for them leaving their backs to him which hopefully will give him something of an advantage, however small.

He can mark Thea's progress easily now. Those ferns are not quite as cooperative as trees and shrubs are. Although still silent, the tips wave as if beckoning for those guards to take note, silently screaming ,'Lookie here, invader alert'. The progress is slower now as Thea takes greater precaution, pausing frequently when the conversation between the pair of men seems to break off briefly. She's but four paces from that tree when one of the women lifts her head and spots Thea, who is ready with a finger to her lips. The woman's eyes widen and her mouth opens as she recognizes her son's weyrmate. Although no sound is made the woman nods slightly, sends a subtle check of the two guards and then surreptitiously nudges of her companions. Thea takes a deep breath and wriggles forward on her stomach using her elbows begins sawing at the thick rope on ankle #1, intent on her task, she's trusting D'had to have her back.

It's unfortunate that this is when one of the guards takes the moment to stretch, glance towards that tree. All hell breaks loose as he does a double take and shouts, scrambling to his feet and launching himself that way. The other guard, after his surprise clears, is quick-witted enough to scan the area, rising to be ready for others to show, while the third awakens, too groggy to be of much help, merely lifts a head to peer owlishly around.

D'had has her back, and has moved around the opposite way somewhat in the mean time, setting himself up to connect a rather large stick to the head of the one who was sleeping. He might just have been about to even before the alert was made. Hopefully he's got enough surprise on the other two to strike at least one with a fist before they reach the women, and if not - well his mother and sister-in-law at least have a fairly mean right hook of their own.

Sleepy guard gets clocked on the side of his head by D'had's branch - he's out. Unfortunately Guard number 2 is watching and thus he spots D'had's emergence and heads to intercept him, blocking his punch and following it with fists of his own. Guard number 3 is headed for the women with his focus on Thea, who pauses her rope-sawing to roll out of his way. He's tripped by D'had's mother, lands heavily on Thea pinning her and wresting the knife from her hand. They pair of them continue to roll towards the pool with the guard's momentum, out of reach of the women by the tree.

Well that's one down at least. The second begins with a fist fight, but D'had isn't unarmed. Dodging the man's swing he pulls his knife from his belt and slashes towards him. He's caught a glimpse of Thea's dilemma, but there's little he can do about it from where he is. As his family are still tied up there's little they can do as well, but at least they have the sense not to shout out and draw more attention from elsewhere back to the camp. The weyrsecond pulls another, smaller, blade from his boot as he ducks again, finding a second between blows to toss it towards the tree, hopefully landing within range where one of those woman can reach it and continue to work on freeing themselves. "Ma!" loud enough to be heard, draw their attention to it, but not so loud as to be easily heard much further away.

D'had's opponent is a tough, solidly-built man and a mean fighter. Thadan couldn't hope to ever be near this man's league. He's not armed with a knife, but skilled with his feet and uses them to advantage to kick at D'had's knife arm. That knife falls within the bounds of the tethered women, D'had's mother crawling on all fours, grabs it and starts sawing at the rope that binds her ankle. Thea, though she's trying to get a knee to the right spot and seriously hurt the guard who's pinned her, is unable to do it while they're rolling. It's the pool edge that brings them up short, the guard, likely expecting Thea and D'had to have reinforcements coming, draws a fist back and slams it into the side of Thea's head hard. The junior goes limp and the guard leaves her to help his fellow subdue D'had.

D'had lays his fair share of good blows on his opponent, though he takes his fair share from him as well. He looses his knife with that kick, but manages an elbow to the other man's throat. With his back currently to Thea he hasn't seen that blow that the other lands to her, though if that's a good thing or not is hard to say. It might give him more to fight for or it might have turned into distraction.

Those blows are leaving D'had's opponent bruised and bloodied and the loss of the weyrsecond's knife is followed up but a double-fisted blow to his chest meant to knock the wind out of him. That elbow to the throat, however, renders the man incapable of breathing and he’s finished, crumbled to the ground just as the guard that felled Thea launches himself at the bluerider. Over by the tree, D'had's mother is free and working on her daughter's rope. All this activity but not much noise to go with it, the smacks and grunts not having raised the alarm yet. Over by the pool's edge, there's still no movement from Thea.

D'had winces at that double strike, but soon enough that one is down for the count. Not that D'had is getting a break out of it with that last of the three launching after him. He's getting worn out yes, but he's not giving up just yet. He struggles to keep his footing at the slope of the pool's edge, but somehow he manages not to slide down further.

It's that sloping edge in part that is the last guard's undoing. He's got to struggle just as hard as D'had to keep his footing. There's a sudden lurch from the man, he's falling face down towards the weyrsecond but without any sort of fight left. In his back, stuck between his ribs and buried to the hilt is the knife that he knocked out of Thea's hand, thrown by his mother, who has handed the smaller to her daughter to go get it and help out her son. The fight is over. "Ya alright?" This from his mother. The rope around his niece's ankle is finally cut and the women rise, gathering weapons, supplies, whatever they think they might need.

D'had survived. How, he's not quite certain, but he has. "I'll heal," he replies to his mother, tossing a bloodied half smirk towards her. He'll live, though he'll hurt for a good week or so easily. "How are ya? They ain't…" he starts questioning the three of them further until he realizes Thea isn't with them. Spinning around isn't so good for his head, but when he does dark eyes quickly fall on the junior weyrwoman. He hasn't gotten anything from Seryth through Siebith and thus he knows that at least she must still be alive. Question as to her well-being is relayed through the blue however even as he takes those few quick steps to drop to his knees at her side.

The answer isn't long in coming from Seryth, the message reinforced by the calm from another source than the young gold. Her lifemate lives, the blow could have killed her, it is in a bad spot. She hurts. That is all she knows. Beside D'had then there is a groan from Thea, her hand moving to the fast-darkening bruise on the side of her temple, she moves, the beginning of trying to sit up, but her eyes remain closed. Her other hand begins feeling the ground, likely searching for the knife. The fight remembered in her half-conscious state - she needs to get to him. He needs her. "We should go," D'had's mother speaks from behind him.

"I'm right here," D'had starts when Thea begins to move. He reaches to help her as she sits up. "Take it slow," he reminds her, wrapping an arm around behind for support though he's not in much shape to give much more. A nod for his mother and he pushes to his feet. "Help her?" Its almost a question as he looks back to what family is there.

Pale eyes crack open when Thea hears D'had, her voice unsteady, "You're hurt." Forget about herself, she's half-aware after being smacked senseless. Reaching for him, her fingertips brush the corner of his mouth, the blood coming away on her hand but he's pushing up and away. "I'm coming too!" And indeed, whether she should or not, she is pulling up, accepting the help from D'had's ma to stand unsteadily. She manages with the help of the woman's arm, her head is clearing and she's able to move with them as they move out.

The other two women join them and it's a low-voiced, hurried conversation that gives the vital information of how many raiders there are on those ships, where the rest of the family is - that the men are being held aboard the ships. There's news about the children, safe and visiting with relatives, and what has happened to some of the others when the Vega Run has been taken. All of this given as they take the quickest route to the beach.

They all manage to return to the beach where the Zephyr was left hidden. It might well take longer than it took for them to sneak up to the falls, but they make it in the end. D'had has made contact, plans, in the mean time, using his niece's shoulder to help he through the underbrush when needed leaving her mother and his own to see to Thea's progress. S&R has been contacted, the details D'had has recently received sent along with coordinates and careful direction to remain as out of sight as possible in arrival. And so it is that at the beach they're met by the group of riders.

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