Motley crew best describes these brutes. I guess I have to be thankful we weren’t killed. As it was I suffered a few contusions and Liz only stopped beating on them when I offered to surrender. Frankly if it wasn’t for the Far Spire observer I’m fairly sure we’d have had to resort to killing at that point. As it was, we were just defending ourselves when those who were brave enough struggled up and came at us with maces and fists. In twos and threes we would have killed all of them had we the mind. But this rabble had experience taking on smaller groups and came at us in a rush.
The fight went on for a few minutes before the observer, a scarred veteran by the name of Sebastian, punched Commander Aston in the face, and demanded he call his lackeys off. That did the trick for most of them. A few had to be knocked down a time or two before they would listen to sense. There were two probable concussions and several broken bones, but I make no apologies.
I’d have offered to heal them if my internal house had been in order. Turns out it’s a good thing I didn’t even offer. This lot did not truck with wizards or their ilk and as they recognized no gods but their own, me whipping out something as simple as a healing spell would have been a death sentence in their eyes. Even their commander couldn’t have called them down in that case. Of course, running with Liz was a death sentence in their eyes, so I guess it was six of one, half a dozen of the other. Turns out only one of their most holy had the ability to cast healing and the like, and only sparingly. Any other form of magic was demonic in their eyes.
Things got a little more complicated when they asked to search the wagon for contraband. They said they would confiscate all our possessions as recompense for the crime of looting and I informed them that they were welcome to the salvage we had from the wagon train and took a few minutes to shove the boxes and barrels off the back of the wagon. They go pretty pissy about that, let me tell you. They demanded to see what else we were carrying and I told them to shove off. In one case, I had to literally shove a warrior away as he was going to climb into the wagon whether I liked it or not. Things got really tense before Sebastian laughed out loud and suggested that we’d have a clearer picture of the wagon contents once we got to Far Spire. That defused the situation for almost two minutes.
Otherwise, I think this Sebastian fellow was going to let all this run its normal course. I had the strong suspicion that he had no love for these scurrilous fellows, but would not let it come down to us dying. There was some sort of political squabble at play here and we were just pawns in the game.
The compromise was that we’d head to Far Spire, which was our original destination in any case, with a pseudo-escort from the religious zealots. Apparently it allowed them to save face or some such. Frankly, I was ready to turn over the wagon and head into the swamp with Liz just to avoid this mess, but we had Kithri in the wagon and couldn’t abandon her. Doubly now that we knew who these guys were.
We were just about to pull back onto the road and head north once more when I made the mistake of lowering my hood giving them a torch lit look at my face. This proved to be the final straw. Three men fainted dead away, if you can believe it. Just crumpled from their saddles like all the bones had been sucked right out of them. As for Commander Aston, he toppled over dead. Not fainted, Father. Dead as a door nail. Apparently the shock was too much for his tiny, rotted soul. He was berating one of his troop who had collapsed and caught the open mouth gaze of the next man over. When his gaze fell upon my face he gave a little gasp and his mouth went slack. Sebastian guessed the poor man’s heart exploded from shock.
After that, it was pandemonium. The young herald danced his horse back from me and bolted straight eastward into the swamp. I don’t believe he had a coherent thought in his head as he drove his horse into certain death. Fifty Seven others turned their horses and ran north, whipping them and howling as if they had hell hounds in their wake.
The last, the final idiot of this idiotic group was Red Beard. He finally drew his sword and rode straight at Liz. He didn’t stand a chance. Oh, he had experience beating down civilians and bullying anyone they saw as beneath them, but he had not faced a warrior as deft and quick as Liz. He also didn’t take into account the physical obstacle the wagon was to a horseman.
Before I could intervene Liz had both of her blades drawn and leapt upward, ricocheted off the wagon and decapitated red beard in mid-air. The horse slowed almost immediately and his body slid sideways, crashing to the ground, his sword point first in the soft earth.
Which left Sebastian sitting on his horse twenty strides north of us, watching us, puzzled.
“I don’t know who you are,” he said, shaking his head. “But you sure set a hornet’s nest afire.”
Liz cleaned her blades on the fallen warriors cloak and quietly walked over to calm the abandoned horse. She took a moment to lengthen the stirrups and jumped into the saddle. The horse reared, pawing at the air and calling out in his high pitched horsey cry before calming right down and walking over to the wagon.
“Drive,” Liz said to me and took point.
Sebastian watched her for a moment and fell in beside the wagon, looking up at me. “She broke that horse to her just like that.” He snapped his fingers. “That horse never liked carrying that fat bastard around. I could tell by the way he rode.”
“Liz has a way with animals,” I said, shrugging. “Must be the demon blood.”
Sebastian laughed at that, rocked his head back and roared. I was gonna like this one just fine.
I pulled the wagon up onto the road and pointed us northward. I had no idea what we’d find when we got to Far Spire, but the fact we left Commander Aston to the carrion eaters would probably not be looked on favorably by their so-called Bishop Edmund Cirila.