Continues from PART 4
You’re welcome. I chose to drag your sorry ass out of that burning castle instead of chasing that monster that killed Beltan. I even had the decency to leave you intact and unharmed. As my associate probably told you, the debt is paid. You saved my life, I saved yours. Now I’m leaving.
In all honest Gall, you’re a rapist, a savage and a thief. At first I hated myself for not stopping you, but then I told myself the obvious. That it was you. You were my problem and now that you’re gone I can truly be free. I wasn’t your friend. Was your slave, bound to Estersea’s stupid honor and such.
Even with all of my hate for you, I left you alive. Don’t think to highly of it. If you ever come around me again, if you track me down, cross my path or if I even get word of your location I will hunt you down and kill you I swear to all the gods I will.
I don’t know why I let you live truly. Maybe I felt the debt wouldn’t be paid if I saved you and then turned around to kill you. Maybe I’ll enjoy the thought of being able to find you and kill you by chance. or maybe I’m just as much a monster as you.
That’s a question not even the gods could answer.
See you on the hunt,
Thraz of Estersea
Gall sat the letter to the side and rubbed his eyes as he stood. His shirt was removed and he was only wearing his trousers. He had a large bandage going from his right shoulder to the left of his stomach, wrapping around his back and connecting at the shoulder. He touched it and winced at the pain of the burns.
The dark room was lit only by a cracked window that sent a few rays onto his belongings. Thraz had left him his robe, boots, pistol, daggers and gold. He was surprised by that, and began to gather up his things.
As he was packing the old man walked in.
“Leaving?” The man asked.
“Yeah.” Gall answered blankly.
“I have Thraz’s location. He told me I could tell you if you wanted to go there… or avoid it.” The man continued.
Gall thought for a long time about his old friend. He actually thought things were going to be okay for them but, now he realized that he was never coming back and the rest of their group were long gone. In the end, it was probably better if he didn’t know where he was.
“Where am I?” Gall asked, choosing to ignore the question.
“A house in Hammerclaw, just outside of the castle.”
Gall just realized that the stone fortress was actually on fire, melting away into nothing. He had never seen anything like that before.
“What’s the condition of the castle?” Gall asked.
The old man sighed sadly. “You better look for yourself.” He motioned to the door.
Gall nodded his thanks and flipped his grey hood up and sheathed all of his weapons as he approached the door. He stepped outside into the city of Hammerclaw, busy as ever.
People weren’t shopping or visiting though, they were mumbling worriedly, pointing at the castle’s location. Gall gulped and looked towards the mighty fortress and was horrified at the site.
The castle was gone.
There was nothing left at all save for a pile of dirt, rock and scorched wood. The traveler’s mouth dropped and he stared in shock at the sight.
“Who did this?” He asked. “One man couldn’t have done this…”
He kept walking towards the debris, walking through the peasants and the few knights that were crowded around it.
“One man did this…?”
He kept getting closer, letting the citizens wash around him as he inched ever closer to the fallen fortress that housed King Beltan and so many knights.
He reached the spot where the gate used to be. The tip of the bridge was still there, it was tilted down and the other half was resting in the moat, black from the fire magic the night before. He looked up and recalled how tall the castle used to be, how mighty it stood. The second tallest castle in all of Dragonfire.
“Ignis help us.” He mumbled as he looked over the sight.
“They killed a damn dragon, how the hell does one man do this?” Someone yelled.
“That wasn’t one man!” Another yelled.
Gall knew there would probably be a riot but, he couldn’t take his eyes off of the fallen castle and kept looking at the large pile of material, seeing if he could point out any specific part.
“Calm down!” One of the few knights left yelled.
“We assure everything will be alright.” Another agreed.
No, Gall thought. No things weren’t. So long as there’s people like that in their world.
A loud horn then echoed through the air.
The knights, villagers, and Gall all looked to the south of the city.
A few seconds later another horn tore through the air.
Gall looked up at the sky where the castle used to be. The one thing keeping the city safe were the knights, the king, the power they had. Without a castle, what power do they have now?
A third deep note and Gall began to hear the sound of war cries and screams. He pulled out his pistol and machete and glared to the south.
“By the gods…” One of the younger knights mumbled.
“Bandits.” Gall nodded, ready to fight.
The roasting pig filled the air with a nice smell that made Sajume realize his hunger. His stomach growled and he held it as Yerl, Jest, and Marissa laughed at him. He smiled painfully back at them.
“Wonder what they’re talking about?” Yerl asked, looking at William and Minwu.
The two were sitting next to each other, reading a book and talking quietly.
“Why don’t you mind your own business.” Jest retorted jokingly.
“I could find out.” Marissa smiled slyly. She left the group and walked towards her grandpa and the mage, leaving the others to wait to see the gossip.
As they were watching her leave, Nicholas caught Sajume’s gaze. He was, once again, sitting alone, staring into the scorching fire.
“I’ll be back.” Sajume told Yerl and Jest as he walked towards the mage.
Nicholas glanced up at Sajume and then looked back into the flames silently as the young boy sat next to him. Sajume looked into the fire as well but, didn’t see what the mage was looking at. He didn’t ask either, he didn’t say anything just waited for Nicholas to speak first.
The two sat quietly for a few minutes as the others moved about around them. Cooking, playing, talking. Nicholas and Sajume just sat beside the fire quietly. He kept an eye on the mage, seeing if he would do anything and he caught his eyes move up. Sajume looked and saw Laela and the knight Aaron kissing on the other side of the fire.
“I used to like her you know?” Nicholas said quietly.
Sajume turned to the mage who had returned to looking at the fire. He looked back into the flames as well that were still crackling loudly.
“Fire…” The mage mumbled.
“I thought you worshiped Vita?” Sajume asked, confused by the mage’s interest in fire.
He nodded. “We do… except Rynn.”
Sajume looked into the flames. He was brought up to worship Devitam as everyone in Hammerclaw were. He didn’t care about fire, water or the sky. He really didn’t care about nature as well but, he would say a prayer to his god from time to time and wanted to become strong like all of the others in his kingdom.
“I think it’s interesting though.” Nicholas continued.
Sajume sat quietly, waiting for him to continue.
“Something that gives you life, light and safety…” He said. “…also can burn, destroy and kill.”
“Water gives you life.” Sajume corrected him.
“So does air, so does earth and so does fire.” Nicholas argued.
“Can’t water destroy?” Sajume asked.
“So why aren’t you interested in that?”
“Because there’s no water here.”
Sajume frowned. The mage confused him and he didn’t understand why he couldn’t just be nice to everyone like the others. The others have all been friendly and Sajume was now friends with them all. Except Nicholas. He never talked to anyone and when he did he often complained.
“There’s air.” Sajume continued.
“You can’t see air.”
“I always see earth.”
Sajume sat next to the mage for a few minutes before he stood and went to talk to his friends some more.
“Why are you trying to talk to him?” Jest asked. “He’s an ass.”
Yerl laughed as he petted Ynin.
“I don’t know.” Sajume answered, honestly not sure why he was trying to be friends with Nicholas.
“If you wanna learn spells, might as well ask Rynn. I’m sure he’ll teach you how to shoot a fireball.” Jest continued.
“I don’t want anything to do with that.” Sajume said, terrified after learning that you can die from using magic.
Yerl and Jest laughed and Sajume smiled as they continued to play with Ynin.
A few moments later Marissa retuned to the boys.
“So?” Jest asked, not too interested.
“They were just talking about some of the old legends.” She answered. “It wasn’t anything private and they talked about it with me.”
“Oh.” Yerl said sadly, expecting some secret information about the mages’ mission.
“What do you guys believe?” Marissa asked. “I mean, about the dragons.”
“They were born from the dark.” Sajume said. “After Deum and Deten were destroyed.”
“Do you not know the old legend?” Marissa asked.
Jest and Yerl shook their heads.
“The old legends say that Ignis and Draconem tried to create life on their own. They couldn’t control the power and dragons were born.” Sajume said.
“That doesn’t make any sense.” Yerl said. “Why would they work together? One was a warrior of light and the other was an assassin.”
Marissa shrugged. “I’m just telling you what they were talking about.”
“What do they think?” Jest asked.
“William and grandpa were just talking about it.” Marissa explained. “I guess they were trying to see which one made more sense but, I guess we can’t know.”
“Well we know that there’s gods. We know how they created us.” Yerl argued.
“How do you know though?” She asked unconvinced.
“Everyone knows.” Yerl laughed.
She shook her head at him and ignored him.
“I think she’s saying there’s no proof, Yerl.” Jest explained.
“Of course there’s proof.” Yerl continued to argue.
“Just look around.” He laughed.
Jest stared at his friends unconvinced.
“How do you explain all of this?”
“All of what?”
Jest shook his head. “I don’t there are gods.”
The other three stared at Jest in shock.
“What?” He laughed uncomfortably.
“You can’t talk like that.” Marissa explained quietly, like she was worried.
“Why?” Jest asked, not sure what they were scared of.
“The gods keep us safe, give us life.” Yerl explained.
“Please.” Jest argued. “Knights keep us safe. We keep us safe.”
“What about magic?” Sajume challenged.
“Magic?!” Jest exclaimed. “William said it himself, it comes from inside you. Not from a god.”
Sajume looked at his group and noticed a few were staring at them. “Jest, shut up, you’re being too loud.”
Jest shook his head and turned to face the others. “Sorry.” He stated and then turned back to his friends.
“Seriously though, what have to gods ever done for you?” He pointed to Yerl.
“Or you.” He waved at Sajume and Marissa.
They bowed their heads in thought, none of them responded though.
“Food’s done!” Griggs yelled from beside the roasting pig.
Jest turned immediately and ran to the where the group was circling, eager to sink his teeth into the pork.
Marissa shook Jest’s insults away and left next.
Ynin followed as he realized there was food, waging his tail happily.
Yerl stayed where he was, looking at the ground. He had always believed in the gods, never questioned their existence. Jest’s words hurt him, struck him hard as he realized that there was no proof of his idol’s presence.
“Come on Yerl. We need to eat.” Sajume said, holding his hand out to help his friend up.
He glanced up sadly and took Sajume’s hand. He pulled him up and they both left for the roasted meat.
Sajume took one of the plates of meat and handed it to Marissa. She didn’t take it and Sajume turned to her.
“Sorry.” She smiled. “I don’t eat pork.”
Sajume smiled. “Why?” It came out meaner than intended.
Marissa answered normally however. “It’s unclean.”
Sajume looked at the meat confused. “No, it’s okay.”
Marissa laughed awkwardly.
“We worship Vita.” Minwu explained.
Sajume looked over at the mages and all, except Rynn, were eating bread they had packed instead of the meat.
“In our religion we believe the meat to be unclean, same with others.” Minwu continued. “Some even believe in only drinking water as well.”
“That’s odd.” Jest laughed as he tore into his share of meat.
“How so?” The elder man challenged.
“Why do you think it’s bad?”
“Because Vita told us.”
“She told you?”
“No, she told my ancestors.”
Jest smiled. “Sorry, I don’t believe in anything.”
“You believe in nothing.” Minwu said.
Jest shook his head and continued eating.
Sajume looked at the meat oddly. It looked fine to him but, now he didn’t want to eat it.
“It’s fine, Sajume.” Laela smiled. “You don’t have to follow our religion.”
Sajume smiled back at her and picked at the meat. He wasn’t really hungry anymore.
“What happens if someone eats… bad meat?” Sajume asked.
Minwu smiled. “Nothing, we just believe it makes us impure.”
“Is that bad?”
“Sajume, it’s fine.” William added in.
He looked at the meat again, still not eating.
“Haven’t you eaten pig before?” Minwu asked.
“Then it’s no big deal. You don’t worship Vita anyway so it’s okay.” He smiled.
Sajume nodded and slowly took a bite out of the roasted meat. He chewed it slowly and swallowed cautiously. Then he paused like he was waiting for something to happen but, nothing did. He smiled and the others smiled back as they each ate their own meals.
Sajume laid out his sleeping mat in between Jest’s and Marissa’s and laid on his back, looking up at the stars.
Jest started laughing for some reason.
Sajume turned and smiled. “What?”
Our mother’s our gonna be so mad at us.” He smiled.
Sajume groaned and covered his face. “Why’d you have to mention that, Jest?”
He started laughing again.
“Guys not so loud.” Yerl whispered. “They still think we got permission.”
“What are they gonna do? Send us back?” Jest reminded him.
Yerl shook his head and laid back down.
“You wont have any problems.” Sajume reminded Jest.
He smiled at the thought of his father beside King Beltan.
Sajume sighed and looked back up at the stars. Thinking about his father who died, what seemed like, so long ago.
He turned over to Marissa, who had rolled over away from him, and thought about how she had lost her father and mother recently. She still seemed so strong though. He admired her will to keep fighting. It didn’t surprise him though, there was so much death around them that he could practically drown in it.
He closed his eyes and fell asleep a few moments later.
The next morning came quickly for Sajume. He didn’t have any dreams, or if he did he didn’t remember them, and he slept nicely through the whole night. He stood and stretched and was surprised to see he was the first one awake. He looked up at the sky and realized it was pretty late compared to when they usually wake up. He looked over to his friends and tried to shake them awake. Still eager to see what use his wooden sword had at the top of the mountain.
Then he heard a loud horn.
He turned to his left, towards the mountain where the noise had come from.
A second horn made him jump.
“Guys.” He whispered.
They didn’t budge.
He ran over to the mages and knights and shook William hard.
“Hey! Get up something’s happening!” He yelled a little louder.
The mage stirred and opened his eyes tiredly. “Sajume?” He asked oddly, still half asleep.
A third horn made the mage wake up and Sajume and him turned to the left. They could here the bandits now. Screaming and cheering, rushing towards them with their swords drawn.
“Shit!” Willaim said horrified, jumping up. “Wake the others hurry.”
He walked towards the bandit army, kicking Rynn and Dante as he approached. They stood up slowly but, when they realized they were under attack they swiftly gained their feet.
Sajume ran towards Marissa, Yerl, and Jest to wake them as well. On his way he saw that the bandits were running past the group, towards Ardenti. Fear for his mother swept over the child but, he shook it away and focused on the current crisis.
Ynin was awake now and barked at the passing bandits. They, thankfully ignored the dog, and kept on towards the village. Sajume jumped next to his friends and shook them hard. Marissa woke up and asked what was happening, terrified. Sajume ignored her and moved onto Jest. His friend woke up and angrily yelled at Sajume to stop as he rolled away. Sajume stood and kicked his friends hard in the back.
“Jest, bandits!” He yelled terrified.
He saw that the mages and knights had formed a circle and grabbed Yerl and dragged him to his feet as they all ran to the group. A few of the bandits were stopping now and trying to attack them. William and Rynn were using magic to hold them off, while Aaron, Griggs, and Dante were cutting down the ones who got too close. Sajume had never seen so many bandits. All of them, every single one that was left in the forest had to be rushing into the village.
He said a silent prayer to Devitam to protect the villagers.
A few bandits stopped in between the children and the others. They smiled wickedly and approached the children, waving their swords and axes menacingly. Before they could attack however, a sword dug into one of their backs, killing her and knocking her to the ground.
The other three turned and the knights cut them down just as fast.
“Come on!” Aaron yelled, motioning them to the group.
The four children, with Sajume carrying Ynin, ran into their group and the knights and mages circled around them to protect them. The circle was constantly moving however, due to the hordes of bandits and there were often gaps in the group.
One of the bandits saw these gaps and he aimed his bow sharply at the children. He released his hands and an arrow connected with Yerl’s shoulder. He yelled and fell back, falling into Marissa who in turn fell into Nicholas, knocking them both out of the circle and onto the ground.
Dante and Aaron fell further and further away as they hacked away at the clumsy bandits who clearly had little fighting experience.
Sajume was yelling for Laela to help Yerl but, she didn’t hear him due to the constant yelling from the bandits.
Griggs and William were fighting apart from the group as well, trying to catch the bandits off guard as they spilled out of the forest.
Nicholas and Marissa were standing up now. Just as a bandit rushed towards them, bow drawn and preparing to fire. Nicholas must have not been thinking right or, maybe he panicked but, instead of casting ward to deflect the arrow he instead turned and hugged Marissa, protecting her.
The arrow struck him hard in the back and he screamed in agony and fell to the ground, pulling Marissa down with him.
Minwu crouched down beside the two and tried to help his granddaughter up.
“Move!” Someone yelled. Sajume turned and a hand grabbed him, pulling him away from Yerl. An arrow zipped by and struck a nearby tree.
Sajume looked up and saw the mage Rynn. Sajume went to say his thanks but, the pyromancer was already gone, moving on to attack another group of bandits with fire magic.
The group was scattered now. Sajume took out his dagger and look around for anything to do. Laela had realized Nicholas’ injury and helped move him off of Marissa to heal him.
She removed the arrow swiftly and began to mumble her spell. Focusing her power on him. Her magic illuminated and covered the wound on Nicholas, closing it.
Minwu pulled his granddaughter up and turned to flee. He saw no cover however and crouched back down beside Nicholas and Laela.
There were so many of them.
William was sweating now, and it took him longer to shoot his lightning spell. Every time he did he winced as well and had to catch his breath.
Aaron was breathing heavy as well and Sajume couldn’t tell since they had their helmets on but he figured Griggs and Dante were as well.
Sajume looked around helplessly. The majority of the bandits were still running past them but, there were still so many. He gripped the dagger close to his chest and inched towards Jest and Yerl, who was still on the ground holding the arrow in his shoulder painfully.
Laela helped Nicholas up who was still shaken from the injury. She motioned for Minwu and Marissa to follow and she ran towards where the others were closest.
Sajume yelled for her and she finally heard him, sitting Nicholas down beside Rynn, Griggs and Dante as she moved on towards the boys.
She crouched down silently and pulled the arrow out. Yerl screamed and held his wound, tears flowing down his cheeks.
“Da mihi virtutem sanandi.” She mumbled and focused her magic.
“Come on.” She yelled and pulled Yerl up to follow her back into the group.
Then a bandit came running down the path. His right hand was raised and he had a spear that he was preparing to throw. No one saw him. He slowed his pace slightly and threw the large stick as hard as he could at the group. No one saw it coming. The spear’s blade was thick and crude, obviously made by one of the wannabe blacksmith bandits. Even so it was sharp enough to pierce someone’s chest… someone’s heart.
It struck Marissa.
She stopped and stared down at the large blade protruding from her bleeding chest.
She looked up at her grandfather who was staring back in horror. She let go of his hand and went to hold the spear tip. As her hands were reaching to her chest she began to fall. She hit the ground dead before her hands reached the blade.
Minwu stared up in horror at the bandit who threw the spear. The brute’s face was white and he stared at the dead girl, like he was unsure of what he had done. He glanced up at Minwu, who’s face was now soaked in tears. The bandit gulped and started to turn around but, he kept staring at Marissa’s corpse.
As he was staring a fireball soared at the bandit. He didn’t see it and was in flames before he could react. He screamed and ran around as the fire ate away his skin. Then he fell onto the ground as the fire continued to burn his corpse.
Minwu cried and fell onto his knees beside his daughter’s corpse. He sobbed and held her as the group continued fighting away from them.
“Minwu!” William yelled, exhausted.
He didn’t respond, he just held his last remaining family member tightly, closing his eyes and saying a prayer to Vita.
Sajume just stared in silence at the two. He wasn’t moving and just looked petrified at the site of his dead friend. Wanting to say something, do something, cry but, nothing happened. He just kept staring at the dead girl.
As Minwu was crying a bandit came running up to him, a large battle axe in her hand. She smiled wickedly and swung the axe at his neck. William and Rynn were the only two who could help him but, they were worried about their own lives.
The axe connected and took the old man’s head off, sending it flying into the woods to the right of the path. She laughed devilishly and continued into the trees, heading towards Ardenti and Hamemrclaw.
The sad thing was, is that the bandits were nearly gone. A few more came out, mostly ignoring the group, and rushed around them. They killed six more before they stopped.
Just six more…
When the bandits stopped, they all breathed hard. They were sweating and the knights were covered in blood. William fell to the ground, breathing hard and immediately drank from his leather flask until all of his water was gone.
Dante tore his helmet off and his black hair was soaked with sweat. He breathed deeply and flopped onto the ground as well, letting his sword and shield drop next him.
Laela and Nicholas looked around for people to heal. No one was injured save for Griggs, who had an arrow stuck in his leg. Nicholas approached him silently and healed the knight.
Aaron walked over to Laela and kissed her.
“Are you alright?”
She nodded silently, shaken from the attack.
Rynn walked around to the left of the path, waiting for more bandits to leap out. After a few minutes of nothing he pulled his hood down and sat down next to Dante.
Yerl was sitting down on his sleeping mat, rubbing his shoulder where the arrow had been. Still crying softly. Jest was next him holding Ynin, silently staring into the woods, still afraid of bandits attacking.
Sajume walked away from his friends. Slowly inching towards the dead Marissa. He crouched down next to her and looked into her cold, empty eyes. Her cheek had a line of blood seeping down from the left of her mouth. Sajume just stared into her eyes silently, eyes that were full of life moments ago.
“Come on.” A voice said, grabbing Sajume’s hand and pulling him away from the girls corpse.
Sajume didn’t move, allowing his arm to be pulled but, not moving from his spot.
“Sajume, please don’t look at her.” It was Laela. She reached down and grabbed the boy and pulled him back to the group as Aaron closed the dead girl’s eyes.
People were panicking now. Yelling at the knights remaining on what to do. They were scared, helpless and seemed alone at the loss of their king. The knights were all young. Beltan always kept the older, more experienced knights inside the castle, to protect him. They were all dead now because of that.
The young knights looked over at each other, mumbling silently. The army of bandits getting ever closer.
“What do we do!?” Someone yelled.
“They’re coming!” Another warned.
“Let me think!” One of the knights yelled, trying to take order.
The people yelled again and rushed around, mumbling to each other and at the knights. The knights were just as bad. Trying to talk quietly but having to yell do to the citizens.
Then a single pistol shot tore through the air and everyone was silenced.
Gall stood on top of some boxes that were next to a store, looking over the knights and citizens.
When everyone was looking Gall spoke. “Everyone either grab a weapon or get the hell out of the way!”
“Who the hell are you?!” Someone yelled.
“I’m the only guy with a damn plan in what’s left of this city.” Gall retorted angrily, reloading his pistol. “Now, those brutes have to go through Ardenti till they reach us, that gives us a while to make a plan.”
“No one’s left.” One of the knights said hopelessly.
“Are you joking? Look at all these people.” He motioned to the citizens.
“They don’t have weapons.”
“Then get them weapons.” Gall ordered. “Get as many guns as you can and give them to the citizens, you all get on the roofs and shoot every bandit you see. You knights are skilled in melee so I want you on the ground, get as many as you can in this street, they’ll be coming for the center of the town. Then get some of you to the streets to the left and right of here, be ready to ambush them when they get through.”
Gall stepped down off of the boxes and walked away from the castle and turned when he was out of the group. “Anyone with a spear get up here, we’re gonna be in front.”
Everyone did as he said without a word.
“This’ll be one to remember.” Gall said to himself.
The people of Hammerclaw did as the traveler said. Within minutes, the citizens were equipped with weapons, swords, daggers, muskets, anything they could find. Some of them grabbed armor and stood by the knights’ sides, ready to defend their homes. Gall looked along the rooftops of the homes and stores. The people were all there, muskets by their sides or in their hands. Hopefully they all could use them well.
Gall was in the middle of the main road. Pistol in one hand, a steel spear in the other. To his left was one of the knights. His helmet was removed and his eyes were full of fear. To his right was a woman. She was young, early twenties, and she had on an iron breastplate that she must have found in one of the shops. Both of them had spears as well, ready to stab at the brutes when they attacked.
“What’s your names?” Gall asked the two, never taking his eyes off of the road ahead of him.
“Myra.” The woman answered. She didn’t look very strong and the armor looked kind of awkward on her. However, her eyes were filled with a fire that showed her determination. What people will do to protect the things they love.
“And you?” Gall asked, turning to the knight.
The young man gulped. “Thomas.” He nodded.
Gall nodded back. “What do you do Myra?”
“I run the shop up towards the north of the city.” She answered, awkwardly.
“Nah, just pottery, jewelry, that sort of stuff.”
Gall nodded. “How long have you been a knight, Thomas?”
The knight cleared his throat. “Three years.”
“You ever had to fight.”
“Last night was really my first. Well, we fought a few bandits once.”
Gall nodded again. “If they take this city.”
Thomas and Myra glanced at him, terrified now.
“You make damn sure they work for it.” Gall finished with a sly smile.
Nearly an hour later the first of the bandits began pouring into the city. As Gall has thought, they all rushed towards the castle’s remains. To the center of the city. Some of the citizens on the roofs started to fire but Gall whistled at them. They looked at the traveler who in turn simply shook his head.
He waited for more of them to build up, none of them stopped running, all waving their crude swords about crazily, yelling and screaming like animals.
“Now!” Gall yelled.
On cue, the shooters all fired, killing several of the ones in front. At the same time, the citizens in front of Gall’s group raised their spears. Gall fired once and hit one of the bandits in the face. He then sheathed his pistol and held up his spear like the others.
The bandits ran into the spears like they were blind. All of the ones in the front were killed easily and the citizens dropped the spears and pulled out their secondary weapons. Gall tore out his daggers and jumped into the horde of brutes, slicing them down.
The other townsfolk who were not in the main road, circled around and flanked the bandit army. Some even came form the alleys. The bandits were now surrounded and the citizens were slashing them apart from every side.
Gall was in the center of the bandits however.
One yelled and brought her axe down onto him. He swiftly dodged it and slit her throat.
Another yelled and came at the traveler with a sword. He parried the blow with one hand and dug the other dagger into the man’s chest.
Then two attacked him at once. Jabbing at him with crude spears. One of the blades connected with his thigh, tearing his robe and flesh. He stayed strong however, and cut both men down.
Then three came after him. He breathed hard and tried to focus. One of the swords sliced down his back and he winced. He didn’t fall though, and instead he turned swiftly and drove one of his daggers into the man’s head. Then two women, both with swords, rushed him. He ducked at their blows and pulled up, slicing their stomach’s and chest’s open and letting them fall to the ground.
Gall was out of breath now. He looked around and found a spot where there weren’t as many bandits. He darted towards the opening and sliced up a few bandits on his way out. He jumped out and found himself back in the main street.
He stood and looked at the army. To his delight, it was more of a group now. They were all panicking now too, placing their swords down and begging for mercy. Gall looked over and saw that there were several dead citizens as well. He said a prayer to Ignis to help their souls and then walked back into the circle.
There were twelve bandits left. All on the ground, arms raised, praying for mercy. Gall walked around them silently, looking over them. Then he turned to the citizens of Hammerclaw and raised his dagger high in the air.
The citizens cheered in response, raising their blades as well.
Gall started to walk away but, one of the knights stopped him. “What about the survivors?”
Gall looked at him sternly. He glanced back at the bandits, one was looking at him, he was terrified of death. Gall turned back around and walked back into the circle.
“Myra!” He yelled.
There was no response.
“Myra! If you’re alive answer me!”
Gall nodded. “Thomas!”
Again, no answer.
Gall nodded neutrally and turned back to the knight. “There were no survivors.”
He mumbled and he walked away as the knights and citizens killed the remaining bandits.
They had won.
The black dressed traveler stepped out into a small clearing. The sun was shining brightly through and there was a single tree resting beautifully in the center. There was a doe standing next to the tree, feasting on the grass. Darius approached the deer and crouched down near it, staring at the creature, a small smile on his face.
The doe turned and stared back at Darius once she was aware of his presence. He held up a hand like he was waving to it and then held it out for the deer to come towards him. The doe took a step forward and then looked at the traveler. Her ear twitched and she continued to look at him, waiting for an excuse to run away.
Darius just held his ground, hand still extended. Silently waiting.
After a few minutes of the doe and Darius staring at each other silently the deer slowly continued towards him. He stayed perfectly still as the beautiful deer approached him. She reached him and smelled his hand. He, very slowly, placed the hand gently on the left of the creatures face, petting it softly.
The doe didn’t run and he slowly placed his other hand on the right side of her face. She allowed the man to place his hands on either side of her face.
Then he snapped its neck.
The doe dropped to the ground and he threw its corpse over his shoulder. The voices in his head were going crazy now.
Darius and his sister hadn’t spoke since leaving the city. He carried her out of the city and dropped her when they reached the forest in between Hammerclaw and Blackhall. He let her go and they rushed away from the city together till they came to a clearing that Darius stopped at. He laid down on the bare grass, closed his eyes and fell asleep promptly. He awoke a few hours later, training his body not to need much sleep, and then went to hunt for food.
He brought the deer to the clearing where Venessa had already started a fire. She sat beside the flames, smiling eerily at her brother, no good in her face at all. He threw the doe down beside the fire, took out his dagger and began to skin it.
“What do you want brother?” Venessa asked after minutes of silence.
“I need your help.” Darius said, not taking his eyes off of the deer.
Venessa didn’t respond. They were siblings but, hadn’t talked in years. They weren’t close and didn’t need to be. She knew he wouldn’t save her out of the kindness of his heart. She didn’t think he had any kindness.
“If I refuse?” She threatened.
“I’ll do it myself.” He answered neutrally.
Darius finished working on the deer meat and set up a make shift stove to cook the meat. He sliced off another large chunk and handed it to Venessa, she dug into the raw bloody meat and tore it apart.
Darius didn’t react to his sister’s new found love for blood, he didn’t care. He just wanted her to help him and then get out of his life again. He hated working with people and wanted to be alone as soon as possible. It didn’t really matter a lot however, if she did help him he would, hopefully, be with the people the voices keep mumbling.
“What if I travel with you for a while brother. We would make a nice team.” Venessa laughed dryly, already knowing the answer.
“No.” Darius simply responded, turning the deer meat over the fire.
Venessa laughed again and shook her head. “That’ll get you killed brother.”
Darius stood and glared at Venessa. “Stop calling me that.”
“Call you what brother?” She asked innocently.
“That, I’m not your brother.”
“Really? Last time I checked I’m pretty sure you were.”
Darius shook his head and crouched back down to the deer meat. “We haven’t spoken in thirty-five years. I don’t know you, you don’t know me. I like it that way, let’s leave it that way.”
“I don’t like it that way.”
Darius didn’t respond.
He still remained silent.
He closed his eyes and sighed. He still didn’t say anything though.
“Damn it shut up!” Darius snapped. Standing up and throwing his dagger into the ground angrily.
Venessa held her evil smile, not dropping her gaze from her brother.
Darius sighed again when he realized his outburst. He sat back down and removed the deer meat from the stick over the fire. He ate it sloppily like he often did, eager to keep moving.
“No brother.” Venessa continued after eating her share of food. “I don’t care to travel with you or not but, I do wish you would hurry up and tell me what it is you plan on doing.”
Darius chewed the deer, staring at his sister blankly. He swallowed the meat and sat the food down on the ground.
“I need to find someone.”
“Someone named Sajume, and another named Laela.”
“And how am I supposed to help you?” She smiled.
“Use your magic to put the images in my head. I think they come from Hammerclaw, so all of the people I killed are bound to know them. Reach in my head and find them.” Darius finished.
Venessa stared at him silently for a few seconds, looking him over. He tried not to tell her about the voices but, he figured he might have to eventually.
“And why would those people be in your head. Have you been practicing with my type of magic?” Venessa laughed.
Darius nodded. He was about to tell someone for the first time about what he is. He hadn’t experienced fear in so long he, winced at the odd feeling.
“The man who saved us during the war.” He started.
“Sicarius, yes.” Venessa nodded.
“He trained me after I left. You were too young so he, couldn’t help you. He offered me a chance to get revenge though, and I took it.”
Venessa’s smile left. She saw the minor sadness in her brother’s pure white eyes. She knew he was no longer normal but, now she was intrigued with him.
“What are you?” She asked.
“I’m human I assure you just, something a little more.”
“A little more of what?”
“I’m not sure, I don’t know is Sicarius was either he just…” Darius trailed off.
“Demon, angel, one of gods who knows? Who cares? The point is, I have this power and I’m going to use it.”
“If the dragons are returning, you better get to it. You find any yet?” Venessa asked, her odd smile returning.
“No but, that’s why I need to find Sajume and Laela, one of them might have.” Darius insisted.
“If they found them, wouldn’t that make them the… ‘chosen ones’ or whatever?”
“Yes but, they don’t know what they’re used for, and if they do they don’t know how to use them. They probably want to lock them away from the world!” Darius was beginning to lose his patience.
Venessa would have continued to mock her brother but, now that she knew he actually probably could kill her, she waited quietly for him to calm down.
Darius breathed heavily. He wasn’t used to getting worked up and hated the recent outbursts he had had. He picked the deer meat up and walked away from Venessa, not wanting to talk anymore.
Darius ignored the voices and ate the meat quietly. He loved the silence. He ate the deer hastily and then left to find water. The voices following him the whole time. He went through the clearing where he had killed the doe and emerged into a small valley with a thin creek in the center. He stepped down to the muddy water and drank the fluid without thought. He wiped the remains of the deer meat out of his beard and sat back beside the tiny stream of water.
He said a prayer to Draconem, praying for him to help him find the two strangers. He only wanted to focus on finding them, a third or fourth person this early would only complicate things for him, if he could find Laela and Sajume he could focus on the other two or, if he was one of the four swordsmen, the other one.
“Damn it all.” Darius sighed as the name entered his mind.