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The Climb

Posted on Fri Dec 9th, 2016 @ 12:07am by Hawke Windwalker
Edited on on Fri Dec 9th, 2016 @ 12:07am

Chapter: The Hornbook
Location: Somewhere in Cymeria
Timeline: Between 3535 and 3538

The group of men stood at the bottom of the cliff and looked at the top. Most of the group crouched silently as three shapes detached and moved closer to the base of the rock wall. The oldest of the three observed the wall for several quiet seconds before he turned to the smallest of the three shapes.

“Do you think you can do it?” Dougal Windwalker asked his bodyguard. The smaller man idly scratched at his beard, then nodded. “Yes...I can make the climb. I will need young Hawke to come with me with the rope…”

The third shape gave a start and looked at both. “What? I can’t climb that!” Hawke’s voice was pitched low like the other two but he made his surprise very clear.

Dougal gave a smile and patted his nephew on his shoulder. “It’s alright, lad...Huo An doesn’t make these choices lightly. If he says you can do it, then you can bet he knows you can.”

Dougal’s bodyguard nodded. “I can make the climb and deal with the sentries at the top, but I can’t do those things while carrying a huge coil of rope. I know you can make this climb and with the rope we need to bring up the rest.”

Hawke sighed and reached back, taking one of the bulky coils of rope from a member of the group. He shrugged it over his head and settled it as best he could on his torso. While he did so, Huo An approached the cliff and crawled up the slope to the vertical face. He then reached and drew a pair of daggers from his belt and drove one into the face above his head, the smaller man then bent his arm, lifting his body off the ground as the other arm swung and drove the second dagger into the cliff face higher than the first. Huo An’s feet caught on the rough surface and braced himself as he repeated the action, slowly ascending the wall.

Dougal walked with Hawke to the base of the cliff and looked the younger man over. “You know you can do this. Huo An trusts you and that tells me he knows you can. Just get up there, take out the Stygians watching the back of the plateau, then get that rope down here to us and when we get up there, that camp is ours.”

Hawke looked up to see the shrinking shape of Huo An then glanced back to his uncle. “Father would kill me if he knew what I was doing, especially with you.”

Dougal grinned in the dark. “I’m not sure if he would be angrier with you or me, but what he doesn’t know won’t hurt either one of us, now get going, lad. We’ll be waiting right here.”

Hawke crawled up the slope to the base of the vertical wall and drew his fighting knives. He shrugged his arms and twisted a few times to make sure the rope was not hindering his movements, then he drove the first blade into the dirt, pulling on it to lift himself higher as the other blade swung up and repeated the motion. Hawke began to ascend, not as fast or smooth as Huo An, but still a good steady pace. Dougal watched until both men were lost in the shadows and then he crouched down, letting out a low whistle to reassure the group back in the brush that all was well so far...

 

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