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Russ’ Tales: Fort in the Burren 2

I was awoken by cold water splashing onto my face.

up!” shouted a harsh voice. I felt something strike my face.

Opening my eyes, I saw the “commander” standing over me holding a
large wooden club. Two men in desert garb stood either side of him,
one of them holding a bucket.

Look at me!” he bellowed. “How der we start that leaky tub you
flew ere in?!”

I shook water from my face and spluttered “What? Why?”

think oim some kinda cretin?” he replied incredulously. “Oim not
tellin you my plans! Jus’ tell us how to get er goin!”

don’t you use the gyroscopic stabiliser” I answered, raising my
middle finger “And swivel”

His face contorted into a snarl and he raised the club for another
swing. Just in time, an explosion shook the cell and dust fell from
the ceiling. The “commander” turned to the man with the bucket.
“Go and see wha’s goin on.” He turned back to face me. “Listen
pal, I cud work you over with this club, break all your bones an see
if you still don wanna talk, but I ain’t got time. Now tell me how
ter start the ship!”

A shout came from somewhere above, “It’s the Bloodwolves! They’ve
got some kind of artillery!”

The “commander” turned and shouted “Everyone get on the Guns!”
He then turned to his companion before running out of the cell, “Lock
him in, then get up there.”

The hooded figure slammed the cell shut, hastily padlocked the door
and ran, his footsteps echoing through the stony corridors.

I sat still for a moment and listened as sounds of battle came from
above. Deciding it was probably safe, I began working on the ropes
binding my hands. It was not difficult. The brigands upstairs had
clearly been in a hurry, with rushed knots and my hands conveniently
in front of my body. I glanced around the cell, looking for anything
I could use to open the padlock on the door.


I looked around, confused.


Hanging from a ventilation shaft above the cell door was Sigmund the
Sloth, his black eyes glistening with concern.

I said happily. “How did you get here?”

The small, furry creature chittered angrily.

we might not have time,” I replied “can you open this lock?”

Sigmund climbed down and dangled from the bars of the cell door with
his hind legs. Reaching for the padlock, he inserted a claw into the
keyhole and began to gently wiggle it around. After a few nerve
racking minutes, the padlock clicked open and dangled limply from the

did it!” I exclaimed, reaching through the bars and opening the
door. Sigmund climbed onto my back as I exited the cell and we began
to creep along the corridor. The fort shook as more explosions came
from above. It seemed the gang in charge had opened fire with the
mounted cannons.

The lower levels seemed deserted. There were a few overturned chairs
and signs of quick and careless movement. We saw an upside-down bowl
in the middle of a puddle of soup as we passed what appeared to be
the living quarters.

Sigmund became more and more nervous as we ascended through the
structure, his grip on my shoulders trembling slightly.

alright,” I soothed. “They’re probably too busy to even notice
us. How did you stop them starting the Albatross?”

He chittered into my ear. “The engine vents? Clever!” I replied.
He squeaked happily.

Barked orders and gunfire echoed through the stone corridors as we
neared the armoury and gun emplacements. The fort shook again and a
loud scream reverberated from upstairs.

go” I murmured, and ascended the stairs to the top level.

The stair case came up into a central area surrounded by gun
emplacements. Spent ammunition and debris littered the floor and one
wall had been blown open. The leader and his men ran around,
frantically trying to load and fire the cannons. No one paid any
attention as I crept through the carnage to the roof access ladder. I
stepped onto the first rung and started to climb. No one looked

Climbing swiftly to the top, I carefully started to turn the handle
on the hatch. It opened with a sickening metallic screech. I looked
down at the ruffians below. They were still oblivious. Someone had
fired one of the cannons at just the right moment to mask the sound.
Breathing more easily, I climbed out and gently lowered the hatch
back down.

It thunked back into place and I looked around. Two men stood by the
Albatross holding open tool kits and looking worried. One looked
around at the sound of the hatch and his eyes widened.

Wasting no time, I charged at him. He brought up a large spanner to
defend himself but I was ready. As he swung the tool in my direction,
I stepped inside his range and moved with his momentum, slamming him
against the hull of the Albatross.

He fell to the floor and started to struggle to his feet. I felt
Sigmund drop from my back and heard a hiss as he lunged forwards with
surprising speed, climbing over the dazed guard.

The other man snarled and swung downwards at my head with a large
mallet. I deflected the blow to the side with the first mans spanner
and leapt back out of range. He swung forward again, aiming for my
legs. I evaded and stepped back to the edge of the roof platform.

We circled each other, looking for openings or weaknesses in the
others defence. His eyes bored into mine and I could see sweat
dripping down his face, the heavy cloth of his desert gear taking its

Moving in a circle around the guard, my foot bumped against something
heavy. I stumbled and lurched towards the edge, struggling to regain
my balance. Sensing an opening, he came at me with an upwards swing.

Knowing I could not regain my footing in time, I threw myself past
him swinging the spanner wildly. It caught the back of his head with
a sickening crack. He blundered forwards and teetered on the edge. I
rolled out of my uncontrolled dive just in time to see him fall from
the platform.

Another explosion shook the fort and I ran back to the ship.


Looking down, I saw Sigmund crouched on the body of the other man. I
will not describe the mess he was in, but I will say that a sloth’s
claws can be very dangerous. Trying not to see too much of the
remains, I scooped up Sigmund and climbed aboard the Albatross.

the vents cleared!” I shouted as I deposited the red splattered
sloth by the engine. He quickly pulled the wadding from the engine
vents and started it up. I swiftly inflated the balloon and the ship
lifted from the platform.

The battle below came into view and I saw another gang of desert
raiders frantically loading and firing some ancient museum artillery
piece. The defenders were returning fire with all of the ammunition I
had brought them.

Turning away from the battle, I cranked the engines up to full. The
Albatross shot away from the fort.

hope they’re all looking at the other gang.” I said pensively.

The noise of carnage receded behind us.


No artillery interrupted our escape. The Albatross soared through the
mountains away from the fort, bearing its crew to another adventure.

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