by Philip-Todd Franklin
The group had just made its way into the second room of cells in the dungeon below the Palace of Westminster when Piskie noticed a particular young woman sitting against the back wall beside an elderly looking couple, both of whom were lying upon the floor. The elderly man had his arms wrapped round his wife, and from the look upon the young woman’s tear-streaked face, her parents were not well.
Without a second of thought, Piskie slipped between the iron gate of the cell and quickly made her way over to the ruffled figure of Lady Serena Fitzmaurice, who in her costumed identity was her fellow teammate in the Union known as Lady Justice. Taking a moment to glance at the elderly couple, Piskie moved beside Serena and whispered to her.
“I’m here to put an end to this madness and free these people,” Piskie said. “I’ve also brought some mates, but I need to know where our teammates are, if you’ve seen them.”
Serena nodded softly as tears continued to softly roll down her cheeks. She opened her mouth to speak, yet found that her voice had escaped her. She glanced down at her parents who, like so many others, had not moved since before the evening meal had appeared and the iron doors had suddenly locked. Raising her head, she tried once more to speak, only finding that fresh tears and mighty sobs began to escape. Slowly she raised her arm and pointed toward the cell to the far left of the mighty dungeon complex.
The complex feelings of loss and helplessness that poured from the Lady Serena Fitzmaurice broke Piskie’s heart and made the young action-heroine want nothing else but to reach out and comfort her fellow heroine, a young woman who had become a good mate in the short time they’d known each other. Quickly she returned to her normal height and wrapped her arms round her. “This will soon be all over. I promise you those responsible shall pay dearly — you have my deepest promise.” And with those words she shrank back to her six inches and quickly flew from the cell, leaving the devastated young noblewoman to her grief and heartache.
The others had continued searching the dungeon complex whilst Piskie had gone to her mate. After a few moments, the group had reached a small, four-way split, and it was quickly decided that each one would check to the end of their row of cells and then meet back again at the four-way split. Roger Pendragon moved straight ahead, whilst Matthew le Gros moved to the left, and Modred le Fay slowly began checking the cells to the right.
Within the Parliament building proper, Nightstalker was continuing his antics in the midst of the convict army, which had been more of a success than he could ever have expected. Not only had the ghost been able to scare men into fleeing the area, but he had also caused a few to struggle amongst their fellow convicts. He was truly surprised at the amount of bloodshed that the fighting had caused and had once seen Jason Lincoln swiftly behead one of the fighting men whom Nightstalker had only moments before possessed. Wasn’t my desired result by far. ‘Tis not a death would I wish anyone. And with that passing thought, he returned to his actions.
Slowly Matthew searched cell by cell, and his heart slowly began to break at the sight of each family locked within the many cells. The sounds of the sick and dying was something he had never expected to see, and for the first time since he had been given his armour, he was glad for his full helmet. For behind it, tears were freely flowing down his face whilst his body’s posture showed none of his emotional feelings.
Just seconds before Roger reached the last four cells, Piskie quickly flew up beside him and spoke to get his attention. “I know where they are. We can get them and end this mess.”
Seconds before Roger could turn to ask the question forming in his mind, they both turned back up the hall toward the split, where they could hear the sudden sound of a beginning sword battle.
Modred had a sinking feeling since he first entered the long ago hidden dungeons, and from the cells he had looked into, he could feel the emotional distress, pain, anger, and sense of loss those within were experiencing. Such unforgiving pain have I caused these people. Such pain calls for retribution. His personal thoughts would soon be distracted by the figure that suddenly appeared before him.
Percy Sheldon had done all that his mother had requested, and he felt that he would soon have all of her praise — all the glory and enjoyment that was entitled to one of his power and birth. He did not know how long he had waited within the mystical room his mother had shown him. All he knew was that whilst he had stayed there, he had not noticed the passage of time, and the normal requirements of a living being were suspended indefinitely. His first noticeable moment since having entered the mystical place was when he suddenly appeared before his younger brother Modred, who was too wrapped up in his thoughts to notice him there. Not wishing to give Modred the chance to respond, Percy quickly drew his black sword and slowly began to approach him, thoughts of slitting Modred’s throat on his mind.
When he was only a few feet from his brother, Percy pulled his sword over his head and smiled wickedly behind his black helm. “Ready for the final grave, O dear brother of mine?” he said, quickly swinging his sword at Modred’s neck.
Modred, to both his own surprise and joy, was somehow able to remove his own glowing sword from its scabbard and thrust it up, meeting Percy’s own downward swipe before his neck could be cleaved in half. The sounds of the clashing swords could soon be heard ringing all through the dungeon complex, and those few blue bloods nearby began to watch the battle taking place before them.
The two exchanged thrusts and parries as each searched for an unknown weakness within the other. Both of them had over the years sparred with each other as well as with their other brothers, and each had felt there was not a move any of them knew that the others would not be able to block.
Upon hearing the sounds of ringing steel, Matthew le Gros quickly turned round and began to run back to the split, worry for his companion Roger and distrust of Modred deeply running though his thoughts.
Roger Pendragon and Piskie both started to move toward the resounding battle, but after a second of thought, Piskie stopped before Roger and said, “We need to revive my mates. With their help, that battle may not even matter. It’s only a distraction.”
The former prime minister of Great Britain looked at the six-inch action-heroine and softly nodded. “Yes, you are right. Now, where are your missing companions?” he asked.
Piskie silently pointed toward the far cell, where four figures were lying prone.
Within her throne room, Morgana le Fay was looking at her crystal ball, wherein many scenes she saw taking place only seemed to disturb her. Recently she had felt her own powers weakened, returned to their previous levels, and she had been unable to contact her mysterious patron. Little was known of this figure, except for the offer of unending power for her co-operation and the eternal allegiance to the goddess Hecate, whom Morgana knew little of beyond the usual myths. She had quickly agreed, figuring that with the desired power she was after, no-one — not even a so-called goddess — would be able to touch her.
In seconds the scene shifted from Samuel and then to Jason, followed by many random locations in the palace before cycling back to begin once more with Samuel. Without a warning, the crystal ball intensified its light, and then a new scene began to take shape. The scene was in the dungeons below the palace, and the two identical black-armoured figures were expertly going through a series of parry and dodge actions, with each barely laying a blow on the others. A small smile slowly grew upon her face as she continued to watch the battle taking place between her two sons, Percy and Modred, and she could see beyond them the worthless cattle watching from their cells. So, the time for his pitiful rebellion has now come, she thought, raising both her hands to the side of her head and closing her eyes. I shall be sorry to see them fall and be destroyed. What a waste of resources.
In seconds, both Samuel Davis and Jason Lincoln could hear their mother’s voice in their minds. “It is as I always suspected. The worthless worm, Modred, has brought some rubbish with him to try to stop my glorious reign. Your brother Percy now fights to destroy your traitorous sibling. Do not interfere with his personal battle, but prepare your men for that pretender to the throne and his white knight.”
Samuel and Jason both replied to their mother, “It shall be as you have commanded.” And each looked out over the troops they commanded, only to sigh in disappointment. Of the few rabble that remained of the three-hundred-strong army, each brother had about ten men.
Back in the dungeons, Roger and Piskie were working hard trying to awake her teammates, but neither Steel Maiden nor Will o’ Wisp had responded to the black gem.
Matthew continued standing on guard, his glowing sword in hand, as he watched the battle between the two black-armoured figures. What do I do? Who do I try to help, or do I help at all? he thought to himself.
Roger slowly made his way over to the Brixton Brawler and, kneeling beside him, laid the black gem upon his head. I pray this works, for all our sakes, he thought.
At first nothing seemed to happen, just as with the others, and then suddenly the Brawler coughed and moaned as his eyes flew open wide.
The Brixton Brawler, a black man named Rupert Deane, was unsure of his situation and didn’t know the man kneeling beside him, so he instinctively stuck out by swinging his arm across the floor, causing Roger to crash to the ground and slide through the open cell door. Piskie, having been taken by surprise by the Brawler’s sudden reaction, had been unable to keep Roger from harm.
Rising from the floor, the Brixton Brawler roared in anger just as his eyes landed on his teammate Piskie. “What in the bloody hell happened to me, and where the %#&^ am I? And who was that nutter standing over me?” His eyes once again flew round wildly as he started to take in his surroundings.
“That nutter, as you called him,” said Piskie, “is former Prime Minister Roger Knight! He also happens to be Roger Pendragon, descendant of King Arthur Pendragon of legend. And it’s because of him and some others that you’re now awake.” Noticing the black gem beside the Brawler, she quickly grew to her normal size and seized it.
Roger slowly picked himself off the floor, noticing each and every bruise and ache in his body. I’m really getting too old for all of this, he thought.
“King bloody Arthur?!?” said the Brixton Brawler, laughing. “That’s barmy, and you know it, Piskie. You’re taking the piss with me, aren’t you?”
She chose to ignore the Brawler and made her way over to Nigel Barry, alias the speedster Spring-Heeled Jack, and copied the same actions that Roger performed a few moments earlier, even as the sound of battle continued down the hall.
Roger slowly made his way back toward the cell, and as an afterthought he summoned his own armour and enchanted sword, Excalibur. “I’m afraid the young lady is correct in who I truly am, young man.”
As Roger walked closer, Rupert did a double-take as he recognized first the face of the former Prime Minister and then the sword. “Well, I’ll be buggered…”
Modred le Fay had continued to hold his own against his brother, Percy Sheldon. Each had more than a dozen nicks and cuts along their armour, and in spots blood was seeping through. In what had been both a lucky and disastrous quirk of fate, the immortal once known as Jack the Ripper had been able to knock Modred’s helm from his head, leaving it completely unprotected.
“So you show yourself to be as worthless and yellow as I’ve always thought you to be,” said Percy, an evil grin upon his lips as he taunted his brother. “Gives me great pleasure to see your end come at my hands.”
“Actually, brother, I seem to have my eyes open for the first time in years, thanks to these fine people,” said Modred.
“Impossible!” said Percy. “How could you possibly turn traitor to fight for for these cattle — you, a son of Morgana le Fay? Not that I care a whit. Mother has already condemned you and stricken you out as dead, so your name is bugger all where family is concerned.”
Modred just smiled as he continued to sword fight with his brother. “That’s OK. Thanks again to my friends, I’ve got a truer, more fitting name of my own. For now, just call me the Black Knight.”
Roger spoke quickly with the awakened Brixton Brawler, trying to explain the situation with him as Piskie slowly revived her other companion, Spring-Heeled Jack, whom she began to fill in with the latest news.
Matthew, having noticed Modred once his helm went flying, began to slowly make his way toward the two battling, black-armoured men. So help me, I hope I’m right. I’m actually going to try to help a former enemy.
After both Spring-Heeled Jack and the Brawler were brought up to speed with what was going on, they all agreed on the plan of locating Morgana le Fay and putting an end to her evil plans. Still, to do this they would need to find the ancient passage to the other parts of the palace above.
Before the group could even move three feet, an unearthly chill entered the cell, and the ghostly form of Nightstalker appeared. “I believe yon chamber door does lie behind the battling armoured knights.” Roger nodded in reply.
Without saying a word, Spring-Heeled Jack was gone in a flash, faster than anyone could see, passing Matthew and the two battling sons of Morgana. The Brixton Brawler simply moved with determination toward the sound of battle.
“My thanks, Nightstalker,” said Piskie. “You’ve right saved us some valuable time.”
The ancient ghost of the young nobleman gently bowed before both Piskie and Roger before floating upward and disappearing through the ceiling.