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Fable: Blood Ties

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Blood Ties

Fable: Blood Ties is the second novel by author Peter David based on the Fable series of games. It was released on 25 October 2011. Physical copies of the book include a one-time use code for Fable III to download the Fable III Dye Pack.

Synopsis Edit

When it comes to blood, you can either spill it...or save it.

Based on the worldwide video game phenomenon, this novel from the New York Times bestselling author includes a code to redeem for FABLE III Dye Pack.

When they write down the histories of Albion, the name of Ben Finn will be remembered in honour. But at present, I'm feeling a bit of wanderlust-and I'm on the move again. I had to leave the beautiful Page behind, unfortunately. So, instead of a brave woman at my side, I've acquired a troublesome toadstool of a gnome who will neither leave me alone nor shut his insolent mouth.

Not that verbal barbs can hurt me-they're nothing compared to the foe that is assaulting the walled city of Blackholm. A mysterious warlord has been slowly devouring the surrounding lands, and Blackholm is putting up a fight. What better place for a drifting warrior to make his way and earn his pay?

But a darkness that no mortal can withstand is about to be unleashed. And it holds a secret that is bound with my very blood...

Plot Edit

Ben Finn is featured as the protagonist in Fable: Blood Ties, which picks up shortly after the events of Fable III. The novel's opening finds Ben passionately entwined with a woman he met at the Cock in the Crown pub in Bowerstone, but before things can get too heated, the woman's soldier husband, Corporal Tyler Clixby, arrives home early from manoeuvres. Initially livid, the husband's anger melts when he realises Ben's identity, and he exclaims that he can't wait to tell his mates that his wife almost slept with "the legendary Ben Finn." Disgusted with the man and with his newfound celebrity, Ben decides to leave Bowerstone behind, but not before paying one final visit to Page.

Ben makes his way down to Industrial and finds Page all alone in the old headquarters of the Bowerstone Resistance. After bantering back and forth for a time, Ben abruptly states his intention to leave the city. He invites Page to accompany him, but she isn't exactly enamoured with the idea of aimlessly wandering Albion, and suggests that Ben go visit family. Ben informs her that he has no living family, and recounts the unfortunate fates of his three older brothers and his parents. He notes that he was particularly close with his second oldest brother, William, who was protective and supportive of Ben in his youth, but was arrested and taken to Bowerstone, and was never heard from again. Perturbed by Page's refusal to tag along, Ben packs up and leaves the next morning through the city's eastern gate.

Ben is travelling through Mourningwood, lost in thought, when a harsh voice calls out, "Hey! This is going to be a really stupid way to die!" The voice then directs Ben's attention to two hobbes creeping up on him through the brush. After killing one and sending the other running scared, Ben expresses his gratitude and calls for his mysterious 'saviour' to show himself, proclaiming, "I am eternally in your debt." "And would shoot me given half the chance," replies the voice. Ben vehemently denies this, and swears an oath on the spot that he will do no harm to the individual. "In fact, I bet we could actually be friends," he says. Suddenly, he hears a commotion from the trees above, and a small form drops to the ground in front of him. "Oh, we could be best friends," replies the diminutive creature, "if I liked people with arses for faces." "What are you?" Ben asks, bewildered. "I'm a gnome, you ignorant twat," says the gnome. Ben instinctively draws his pistol and takes aim, but cannot bring himself to break the promise he made. Instead, he bids the gnome farewell and departs, but the gnome follows at his heels.

Several days pass, with the gnome keeping up a steady barrage of insults. Ben decides to take a midday nap beneath a tree, and when he wakes a few hours later, the gnome has vanished. He opts to leave the road to travel through the woods, where he encounters his old friend Baron and his men, soldiers-turned-mercenaries, many of whom are formally of The Swift Brigade. Ben joins the men at their camp for dinner, swapping heroic tales about the late Major Swift, when talk turns to Blackholm, a small town located halfway between Millfields and Silverpines, which is under attack by a warlord named Droogan. Trevor, a former comrade of Ben's, explains that Blackholm is a rather poor village, unable to afford proper mercenaries, and that this Droogan fellow is nothing more than a spoiled nobleman playing at soldiering. "You see why we're not bothering with them?" he says. "Of course I do. You're cowards. The lot of you!" chimes a familiar voice, in an uncanny imitation of Ben's own voice. Enraged, Trevor and the others rush toward Ben, who desperately tries to avoid a thrashing while the gnome continues to mimic Ben's voice and fire off insults from hiding. Ben finally manages to clamber onto the back of a large brown stallion named Clash, a horse he helped care for at Mourningwood Fort, and with the gnome perched on the horse's rump, gallops off in the direction of Blackholm.

Ben eventually arrives at Blackholm, a rather large town with a formidable wall erected around it. He is directed to speak to Old Henry, a hulking, stern old warrior who is in charge of the town's defence, but they've barely exchanged pleasantries when alarm bells warn of an attack by Droogan's forces. The defenders make for the walls in time to see a small army charging. Ben displays his exceptional marksmanship by picking off attackers with his rifle, until the man next to him, a youth named Russell, takes a bullet to the shoulder and topples from the wall. Ben grabs a rope and leaps down after him, hauling the boy to safety with Old Henry's help. The battle rages long into the afternoon, before heavy losses finally force the enemy to retreat. Ben visits Russell in the barracks, where Old Henry thanks Ben for saving his son and invites him to stay in Blackholm to help train the men.

Weeks pass uneventfully as Ben instructs the men, until one night, a strange uneasiness keeps him from his bed. He finds Old Henry on the ramparts, equally ill at ease. Something is approaching. The two men huddle together, and Old Henry is about to give Ben an order when an arrow strikes him in the head, killing him. More arrows zip past as hordes of terrifying humanoid monsters emerge from the shadows and attack the city. Gray-skinned, yellow-eyed, and clad in rags, the creatures have grotesque features, fangs, and long claws which they use to deftly climb up and over the walls. The beasts soon smash open the gate and pour into the town. Ben retreats from the walls, but finds himself face-to-face with what he surmises is the horde's leader, a creature larger and more powerful than the rest. Cutlass drawn, Ben charges the creature, shouting, "Die, beast, at the hands of Ben Finn, defender of Blackholm!" This outburst stops the creature in its tracks for a moment, before it slams him against a wall, its gaze fixated on Ben's right hand...on his family signet ring. Ben wriggles away and prepares to attack again, but the beast backs up, raising its hands as if to ward him off. Ben then spies, on its finger, a signet ring identical to his own. Ben demands to know where the creature got the ring. Its only reply is a guttural "Benny?" Only one person in Ben's entire life called him by that nickname: his brother, William. "William?" gasps Ben. He approaches the creature, but it backs away, hiding its face as if ashamed. It then lets out a long, ululating howl that immediately stops the others from attacking. With a series of harsh barks, the beast orders the others to retreat, and they flee into the forest. It follows, but not before casting one final gaze back at Ben.

The villagers rejoice, praising Ben as their saviour, but his only concern is finding William again. He quickly packs his things and sets off into the night after the creatures. With the aid of the gnome's superior senses, Ben tracks them through the night and into the following day, finally arriving at a sprawling mansion. At the front door, the doorman informs Ben that the master of the house is none other than Reaver, and denies him entry. Ben subdues the doorman, infiltrates the house, and disguises himself as a household guard. Upon hearing raised voices, Ben eavesdrops on a conversation between Reaver and the warlord Droogan. The creatures, known as Half-breeds, belong to Reaver, and Droogan is paying to use them against Blackholm. Ben makes his way into the bowels of the house, where the creatures are kept, and passes cage after cage filled with the beasts as he follows the sounds of his brother's screams to a small cell where his brother is being tortured by a cloaked, masked man. Furious, Ben attacks the man, but William weakly pleads with Ben not to kill him. Puzzled, Ben settles for savagely kicking the man in the head until he falls unconscious. The pair attempt to escape, but the other Half-breeds, who are not even locked in their cages, block the exit, and Ben witnesses William's agonising transformation for the first time. They flee deeper into the dungeon, only to emerge in a small arena surrounded by Reaver and his guards. When Reaver learns that William and Ben are brothers, he invites them to his study to bargain for William's freedom.

Reaver explains that William and the other Half-breeds were once men, his legally owned slaves, and that Baro the alchemist, the masked man Ben scuffled with, is responsible for turning them into monsters. The creatures grudgingly obey Baro because he is their only hope of a cure, and if they are away from the alchemist's enchantments for too long, they will lose their humanity entirely. Reaver also hints that he has other methods of controlling and manipulating the Half-breeds. Ben demands that William be cured and set free. Reaver is more than willing to accommodate Ben's request, as long as he fulfills two conditions: first, Ben must never return to Blackholm or do anything else to hinder Droogan's plans. Second, he must return to Bowerstone and assassinate a troublesome individual who has interfered with Reaver's plans and dealings time and time again. The target is Page. Inwardly, Ben is horrified, but for William's sake, he agrees. He is released, and he and the gnome depart on the long trek back to Bowerstone.

Upon reaching Millfields, Ben stays the night at a run-down inn called the Lion's Pride. He retires to his room, but the gnome appears and informs him that there's a man lurking beneath Ben's window. The gnome then effortlessly subdues the much larger man, who turns out to be just one of an intricate network of spies working for Reaver. Ben spares his life and the man flees, but Ben is left with the knowledge that he won't be able to trick or stall Reaver. He makes his way into Bowerstone Industrial the next day, but Page is not at the rebel headquarters. He wanders into Bowerstone Market and is drawn towards a commotion at the Cock in the Crown, where he finds Page tussling with several thugs. He intervenes with his pistol, and Page leaves the tavern with him. He again entreats her to accompany him, but lies and tells her that the two of them would be of invaluable aid to the poor people of Blackholm. Page relents, and they leave the city together.

They make camp at nightfall, and Page falls asleep almost immediately. Ben draws his pistol and stands over the sleeping Page, but cannot bring himself to kill her, murmuring, "I can’t do it." "I can," responds a very awake Page, revealing a cocked pistol hidden beneath her blanket. She had been suspicious of Ben the entire time. Ben quickly informs her of his brother's plight, of his bargain with Reaver, and pleads with her to lower her gun and help him. Her reply is to punch him in the face. As Ben lies dazed in the dirt and Page paces back and forth in indecision, Clash suddenly rears up in terror as Reaver's Half-breeds come charging out of the trees. Page is overwhelmed and Ben is thrown and knocked unconscious. When he comes around, the gnome tells him that Page was taken by the Half-breeds, and the two jump on clash and gallop off in the direction of Reaver's mansion.

Dawn is breaking when Ben finally reaches Reaver's estate. He boldly walks right up to the front door, where he is met by a force of guards and taken before Reaver. Droogan is also present. Reaver reveals that Page is being held captive in his personal arena, where he intends to have her fight the Half-breeds while Ben, also in the arena, looks on. The Half-breeds have been forbidden to harm Ben as long as he doesn't attack them first. Reaver offers Ben a choice: if Ben doesn't intervene and Page is killed, William will be cured and he and Ben can go free. If Ben attempts to save Page, the creatures will kill them and William will remain a slave. Ben accepts, and then attempts to add the fate of Blackholm to the stakes: no matter the outcome in the arena, Droogan’s men must leave the town be. Unfortunately, Reaver rebuffs him, explaining that after Ben left the town in pursuit of William, Droogan's men waltzed in and took the town without a shot being fired.

Ben is then taken down to the arena. Passing the Half-breed cages, he encounters William in his beast form, who tells Ben that Baro has been denying them their treatments, that it's supremely difficult to even speak, and that if Ben challenges him in the arena, he doesn't believe he'll be able to hold back. Ben is surprised by the fact that, even though William is barely clinging to his humanity, he and the other Half-breeds still clearly remember Reaver's commands. As the guards urge Ben on, he suddenly thinks of a way to win the wager and save both Page and William while still adhering to the letter of the bet, if not the spirit of it. It's absurdly simple, and it hinges on whether or not Reaver really is, as he claims, a man of his word.

Ben is led into the arena, where Page has been chained to a large post in the centre. Reaver, Droogan, and other well-dressed nobles are in the stands above. Reaver calls for his guards to unleash the Half-breeds, at which point Ben positions himself directly in front of and against Page, securing her between his back and the post. When Reaver inquires what they're doing, Ben casually explains that Reaver has instructed the creatures not to harm him if he doesn't harm them first, so he's going to resist them "passively"; the Half-breeds will not be able to get to Page without tearing through Ben first. Reaver counters that he could just give the creatures different instructions, but Ben reminds him that in doing so he would be changing the terms of the agreement, showing to all present that his word cannot be trusted. Reaver considers this, but is distracted by the eerie silence in the room. They should be hearing the Half-breeds by now. He calls out for his door guards to report, but they fail to answer. He tosses a key to Ben and asks him to investigate. Ben is understandably suspicious, but Reaver concedes Ben's strategy and swears to uphold his end of the agreement. Ben opens the door, but the guards are missing. He proceeds down the passageway, towards the cages, where he is met first by the smell of death, and then by a most gruesome sight: the Half-breeds have fled, the guards are dead, and Baro the alchemist, William's last hope for a cure, has been killed, his head torn from his body.

Ben returns to Reaver and gives him the news. "That's impossible," retorts Reaver, but then he whirls around to look for his walking stick, which is missing. "Looking for this?" chimes the gnome from hiding. He appears holding the staff and taunting Reaver. The large jewel which once adorned the tip of the staff, which the gnome confesses he instantly recognised as an 'Old World control crystal', has been broken off, much to Reaver's dismay. Reaver admits that the crystal was his greatest boon, allowing him to control and impose his will on the Half-breeds. Without it, the creatures' minds will 'reset', and they will resume their most recent incomplete directive: attacking Blackholm. Afterwards, Reaver theorises that they'll rampage hither and thither throughout the countryside, killing everything in their path until they're stopped. Reaver isn't concerned in the least, and invites his guests, including Droogan, to stay for hot chocolate. Ben and Page resolve to head for Blackholm, but as they’re exiting, Ben calls to Reaver, draws his pistol, and fires. It clicks harmlessly. Reaver confesses that he switched Ben's and Page's firearms after they were captured, admonishes Ben for giving in to his anger, and warns him that, come sunset, the last traces of the Half-breeds' humanity will disappear, and they will succumb to their animal natures for good.

Ben, Page, and the gnome make for the exit, stopping only to scavenge weapons from the dead guardsmen, including two bandoliers of grenades, which Page takes. Outside, all three mount Clash and race down the road toward Blackholm. On the way, Page is adamant that they should formulate a plan, but Ben doesn't believe in planning. When he suggests that she doesn't have a personal stake in the matter, Page abruptly kisses him. They soon reach Blackholm ahead of the creatures. The gate has been repaired, and opens at their approach. The moment they ride through, however, Ben is hauled roughly from his horse and thrown to the ground by none other than Trevor. Ben looks about him and spies Baron and many of his men, all wearing the colours and crests of Droogan's forces. When asked why he joined with Droogan, Baron replies, "Sorry, Finn, but we go where the money is." Noticing that the citizens of Blackholm are present and unharmed, Ben and Page try to warn the soldiers about the approaching Half-breeds. They manage to convince their leader, Captain Thorpe, who orders his men to prepare for battle and consents to Ben's request that they arm the townsfolk, too. Ben then speaks to the villagers, who are willing to fight alongside Droogan's men to defend their town. Thorpe attempts to speak to Ben, but their conversation is interrupted by the distant snarls and growls of the approaching horde. Ben runs to the parapets and takes up position by Page just in time to see the Half-breeds burst from the tree line and charge the walls.

Initially, the Half-breeds are slowly beaten back by the large numbers of well-trained marksmen on the walls, until the creatures suddenly abandon the walls and the entire pack converges on the main gate. There is no parapet above the gate, and in one great effort the monsters are able to surge up and over it into the town. Ben and Page run along the walkway towards the gate, but William leaps over the wall and lands between them. Page rushes him, but he grabs her by the neck and slams her into the wall, knocking her unconscious. He then advances on Ben, leaping and bowling him over, but, in a moment of lucidity, stops just short of killing him and instead moves over to Page, takes her grenade bandoliers and straps them on, intent on sacrificing himself to stop the others. Ben protests, but William leaps down to the centre of the town square, where Thorpe had his men seed gunpowder packets, and lets out a long, chilling primal howl which halts the other Half-breeds in their tracks. They cluster around William, howling eerily and waving their bloody claws in the air as he leads them in some sort of bizarre ritual, and Ben notices that one of William's fingers is slowly pulling the pin on one of the grenades. But the last rays of the setting sun catch Ben's eye, and he remembers Reaver's parting warning, and he turns back to see William's hand slip from the grenades; the last traces of his brother fade away, and only the beast remains. William lets out a defiant howl as Ben shoulders his rifle, takes aim at one of the grenades, whispers, "I'm sorry," and fires. The bullet strikes the grenade cleanly, and William is instantly incinerated. The blast envelops the other Half-breeds and ignites the gunpowder packets, creating a massive fireball. The few creatures who survive the initial explosion are quickly finished off by the defenders, and the battle is over. Page regains consciousness and asks Ben what happened. He replies, "William saved your life."

A week later, Warlord Droogan ceremoniously rides into Blackholm, where he is met by Captain Thorpe. After ensuring that the town is still firmly under the control of his men, Droogan asks Captain Thorpe if the townsfolk are ready to be sold into slavery, at which point Thorpe promptly knocks him off his feet with a punch to the face. Russell, the new town mayor, walks up and introduces Ben as his new deputy mayor, and orders Thorpe to take Droogan into custody to be tried for his crimes. A trial, Russell confesses, in which Droogan will be found guilty and sentenced to die horribly, but a trial, nonetheless. Russell entreats Ben to stay in Blackholm, as his title of deputy mayor need not only be an honorary one, but when Ben politely declines on account of Page, a confused Russell informs him that Page already left Blackholm that morning. Ben rushes back to his quarters, and there he finds a note addressed to him in Page's handwriting, along with the gnome.

In the note, Page says that she is returning to Bowerstone to resume her efforts to topple Reaver, and that recent events have proven to her that Ben can't be trusted. She orders him to stay away from her and away from Bowerstone. The note also includes William's charred signet ring. Ben is furious, and hurriedly packs his things, planning to overtake Page on the road, when he stops short at the door. He turns and accuses the gnome of telling Page exactly what to write. He denies it, but Ben presses him and he confesses that Page wanted Ben to come with her but didn't know how to ask him. Finally, Ben requests to know the gnome's name, and after a long pause, the gnome replies, "Ginjer. With a 'j' in the middle, not a 'g.'" "But...that's a girl's name," responds Ben. "Right. All gnomes are female," says the gnome. Ben is dubious, but he takes his leave of the gnome and walks out into a bright new day. His thoughts turn to Clash, who will be left behind in the care of Trevor. Ben considers offering to buy Clash...or just stealing him right out from under Trevor's nose. "Not really a tough choice when you're Ben Finn."

TriviaEdit

  • The events of this novel are spoken of briefly during Fable:The Journey's storyline.

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