676 Begnion year, early spring, Crimea.
Grey clouds tumbled across one another above, they were turning darker with each passing minute. Columns of mist blown inland from the norther coasts were dotted about the rolling countryside. Every time one passed over the company it self like walking underwater rather than on dry land. Moral was defiantly on the low side with the weather even though they had just chased off some bandits an hour or so ago with no real injuries to themselves. The drive wasn't there for some celebrating, just a haggard want for dry cloths and a dry bed.
Razgriz matted back some hair on his brow. "Fairpath" he bellowed. "Take your beast and go scout up the road a mile or so to the river. I don't want anything slowing us down from home. The rest of you have permission to continue griping".
Luna rolled over in her covers. She'd spent most of the day in bed curled up with her tail. Razgriz hates taking her out in wet weather. Wet dog smell you know.
"Gladly, boss." Baldwin was fiddling with his bandages, earned by attempting to block a sword with his forearm. Luckily, it was shallow and he could return to shooting arrows at idiots soon. He was also having a (one sided) conversation with Isi, who was saddling up her mount, until she was called upon to scout. Now he was without company. He sighed,
"So, we chasing the bandits further or are we going back to the village? Shelter would be nice... And warm." Baldwin looked hopefully at his leader of several months, a weak half-smile displayed his doubt, though. He sighed.
"Nevermind." Baldwin muttered, and went about his business. Which was mostly just looking for stragglers who wandered too close to the camp. Fortunately none. The others were having a terrible time, it looked from his point ahead of the group. Slumped shoulders abound, but at least he seemed to be the most injured. Perhaps a cut there or a bruise here, but only he needed bandages. Either the group was getting better, or bandits were getting worse. He hoped the former.
Isi nodded curtly at Razgriz, and smiled grimly at Baldwin's hopeful questioning. She was already astride her beast at this point, and so merely had to touch its sides with her toes- flying a pegasus was mostly about trusting the beast to know what it's doing, not commanding it exactly, she'd learned- to take off into the air.
Her hair was plastered to her forehead and the back of her neck, her tunic was soaked and her Pegasus had trouble flying in this downpour. In short, it was a miserable day for walking, let alone flying. She sighed, and urged the flying horse forward. In the stormy gloom, even her sharp eyes had difficulty seeing. A couple of patches of fog scattered the countryside, but none close enough to the road for her to worry with. She didn't go very high, and even then she had to go lower occasionally to check suspicious spots. However, she found nothing to worry about. The bandits from before had been routed, and weren't likely to come back for another attack.
Her horse suddenly swooped wide left, where she had been pulling it to the right. An arrow whizzed by, just where they would have been. It arced back to the ground, and Isi found it difficult to tear her eyes away from it. Even after a few years, surprise attacks while in the air still fazed her somewhat.
She brought the horse down a bit for a better look, but she didn't see anything obvious. The arrow seemed to have come from a clump of trees not too far from the road. She marked its position in her mind and turned back towards the party to warn them. She couldn't be sure it was the bandits from before, but she was too shaken from her near-miss to go much closer. Two more arrows had barely missed her, just from going a bit closer. The others were better suiting to fighting in trees than she.
She flew back, and landed near her commander.
"Sir, enemies. Roughly a quarter mile ahead, in a large clump of trees on the left of the road. I could not see them clearly through the trees, nor get closer due to an archer, so I don't know how many there are or who they are." she talked rapidly, and coolly. She softened a bit on the last two sentences, sounding apologetic. She'd failed in her scouting duty, and she knew it. Whether or not Razgriz would hold it against her remained to be seen.
Selina gripped the hilt of her sword over her shoulder. Even through her soaked cloths and hair she smiled. As much as she wanted her warm bed and sheets, a fight was much more appealing, plus adrenaline was a hell of a heat source for the body. The bandits they had driven off had been no challenge. The company showed up drew their blades, and the bandits fled. She had been very disappointed. Now they showed themselves again. She kept an eye of the tree line keeping watch for any sign of movement. She had yet to draw her blade. "On your orders bossman, we'll drive 'em out of these parts for a good long while." she said to Razgriz.
Elude stood next to Selina and nodded as well. Though he was almost half a head shorter then the swordswoman his pointed hood made up the difference. Of course that was part of his dark secret as to why he wasn't nearly so miserable as the others. Few knew the ancient reasons that mages favored the long solid cloaks, and it wasn't just because they flapped impressively in reaction to bending the laws of nature; the thickly woven coverings did an incredible job of keeping rain, snow, sun, wind, and you name it at bay. Combined with the fact that Elude was pretty used to the cold mucky weather and he was actually feeling almost comfortable.
It also probably helped that he was relatively unscathed from the previous encounter; probably more owed to his high level of discretion then his actual skill. Though on the other hand Elude knew beter then to flaunt the condition and actually felt a little bad for it.
"Right sir. Give the word and I'm still good to provide a lot of cover." Elude fingered the oil bound book at his side mentally running through the spells within. Though the book was starting to look more and more raged and earmarked Elude could still feel the guiding energies within, he figured it would still last a good long while.
Baldwin sighed, checking his bowstring. Still good to shoot some dumb bandits.
"I wish we brought Luna, round two wouldn't happen with a wet rage wolf on our side." He smiled, glad she couldn't hear him. He was still checking over his equipment, lest you doubt his multi-tasking powers. He packed his usual 40 arrows, and his silver bow. He also kept a flint and tinder, and some spending money. He sighed, ready as he'd ever be. Time to show some bandits the error of their ways, from about 20 meters back.
"Hey, Elude, thanks for taking out that swordsman by the way. Didn't even see the sod coming. I'm surprised fire spells are still so effective in rain..."
"Well I was hoping for a swift travel back. But it appears there are other plans for us to day. How unprofitable". Razgriz swung around on his right heel to face the group behind him. All but Isi in fact. He had a sour expression. "Right, I want all of you to flank them from behind. Were going to make them think they're only two of us. Isi and me will act as bait. They'll probably break cover to block our path. All of you attack when they do, take out that archer first if you can".
Razgriz pulled out his blade. "Run up ahead on the left now. The faster we beat them, the sooner we get home. And don't get hurt". He again turned and headed down the path at a walking pace. "Come on Isi, I'll draw their fire if any comes".
Bandits: 5 Brigands, 2 Fighters, 1 Archer. Leader: Bolk Breaka (Brigand)
"Damn she got away. A Pegasus would fetch us a heap of gold". The archer stuck his arrow between two roots.
"Well its your own fault for missing her. Maybe I outa throw you in the pit for loosin me so much monies". The Bandit Leader Bolk pointed his axe at the archer threateningly.
"I uhh, no, no sir please. I'll make sure I kill the next one. Right between the eyes I promise sir"!
Isi was getting over her shock now.
And she was angry. Those bandits scared her back to her commander with a few arrows, her tail between her legs. She turned in her saddle, and pulled her lance up straight. She was going to kill her some bandits.
She walked her horse alongside Razgriz, her muscles taunt. She and her horse weren't durable, but if they saw an attack in time, they could avoid anything. Pegasus are incredibly fast.
They walked on up the path, tense and preparing for the battle. She heard the others slip into the brush, before the sounds faded away. They weren't the best at sneaking, but if she and Razgriz did their jobs properly, it wouldn't matter too much.
They were approaching the trees where the arrows had come from now. She hoped the others were caught up, then pulled her reigns and stopped the horse, waiting for Razgriz to tell her to go.
"Ready when you are, sir." she said to him quietly.
Selina crouched low to the ground as she moved, trying to move as quiet as possible. She drew her own sword before they got to close to the groups of trees. She didn't try to keep an eye on the others, she knew that if she took her mind off the task at hand she would do something to mess it all up. As the go coloser she began to hear voices arguing with each other.
"C'mon, why don we go git 'em? Jus de girl wit de stick and de old guy. We can take 'em!" One of the bandits told his friend. The other just glared at him.
"Because you idiot, the boss said so.....and learn to speak right! People like you are the reason why no one listens to us! They hear an illiterate moron and think they can stall us until helps arrives." This one looked a little better trained than his buddy.
Idiots. Selina thought readying her blade now she took a look around for the others. looks like they were almost ready, just wait for the right time now. Just gotta wait for them to try and block off the boss path....then they won't be harassing the people any more.
Baldwin followed behind Selina, crouched low and glad his clothes made excellent camo against the shrubbery. He stifled a chuckle at the smart bandit, too bad he chose that profession. He could've made a decent mercenary. Baldwin pulled back his bow string, aiming for their archer, figuring that Razgriz wanted to fight the guy giving orders like always, never mind the archer that could easily dispatch him. He gave a quiet sigh, keeping his bow trained.
Elude took particular care as he picked his way through the underbrush. While his long cloak had shielded him from the cold and rain it was now showing a strong tendency to get caught on nearly every branch or bush that Elude even came within 5 feet of. Still, as long as her was paying close attention to what he was doing he thought he was still able to keep quiet and low. On the other hand, that meant that he didn't notice much of what the bandits were doing, or even his comrades until he almost bumped into Baldwin's back.
Stopping just in time Elude took a deep breath as he began to ready his book of spells without too much movement. The loud and obvious nature of Elude's magic would mean that he wouldn't be too useful in the initial ambush, but that only made him more determined to do well once everything started.
Razgriz and Isi moved closer into the trap while the rest of the company circled round the left. It was a bold move, no knowledge of numbers wasn't usually an issue when they went to assist a village as often the persona seeking aid has one for them.
Razgriz looked off at either side of the road. Thick with bushes these bandits had an easy time keeping hidden if there were any closer up the road. Razgriz knocked the pommel of his sword against his shield a half dozen times. "I know your here. Are you man enough to come out and face me and my friend".
A very large man lept from the bushes about twenty feet in front of the two. He was easily a half foot taller than the rest of the seven other bandits that poured out from their hiding holds. Their axes were as rusty as they were deadly. "The prey falls to the trap. Ha. You girly"?! Bolk jesters to Isi. "You should of ran when you had the chance. Now you and your guard drop your weapons and forfeit everything you have"!
"Unlikely" Razgriz sniffed. "Bring them down men"! He raised his shield higher and drew back the sword to fighting stance. Two Brigands broke ranks and charged at the two. The others were slower on the draw, confused as he had shouted men like he had more somewhere.
The archer who had tried to kill Isi drew back his bow lining to take the mercenary leader out with a deadly would to the head. The charging mercenaries flanking through the bush though forced him to abandon the shot. Risking life and limb wasn't for this man. He high tailed it out on to the road and away he went unannounced to the others.
Seeing that the enemies had taken the bate Elude realized that it was now was definitely the time to act. Abandoning his position, Elude jumped out of the brush and onto a patch of clear ground with a shout; what he was about to do would not be safe with so much foliage right at hand.
Now in the open Elude planted his feet and began to draw up his magic. Elude could feel the familiar rush as the vibrant force flowed through his body and out into the world around him. A mystic incantation flowed from Elude's lips as his will and intention gave the magic a rough shape which was then refined and given true form by the guiding book he carried. As he finished the spell with a flick of his wrist and a wave of his arm jets of fire suddenly surged up near Elude's feet. The fire suddenly leapt up, condensing over head into a single ball of flame that suddenly launched itself at one of the charging bandits with explosive force.
'Blunt their charge with a sudden blast, that's sure to be best.' Elude thought as he launched the flame at his target.
Selina charged forward, her blade held low. As a few of the bandits turned to face the charging force, Selina caught up with what had been the slowest bandit. She swung the blade as he tried to bring his axe up too late. Her blade cleaved easily through the bandits exposed chest. Time seemed to slow down for Selina as she watched the blood follow the blade. A poem her mentor, Silas, had once told that had been passed on from his mentor before him.
Our hero strode the winding road,
Defiant of the vile.
Uncertain pause for home and cause,
When met the monster's smile.
A man his kin through blood and sin
A bastard of the gloom.
A rising cut through bone and gut,
An awful skyward bloom.
It had been something that struck a cord with Selina. It taught her a lesson that refocused in her mind: Stay vigilant. Even an untrained farmer can get a killer strike if your unwary. She turned as the brigand fell, her blade ready for the next opponent. The other two who had formed the ambush team weren't meant for front line rolls. So she had to draw the bandit away from them the best she could and trust they would have her back. She smiled as a near by bandit charged her. This is gonna be fun.
Two of their companions broke the raggedy bandits' charge easily, dividing their forces. Isi stifled a yawn. The battle wasn't even a question anymore. She tapped her heels to her mount, and kicked off. She flew just over the heads of the bandits, and landed in front of the fleeing archer.
"Hello again." she said with a smile, then drove her lance through his chest. People did not get away with shooting at her.
She took off again, and hovered for a moment, watching her companions easily dismantle the bandits. Not even worth landing for, she decided. But she kept an eye out for her companions. She would help if she could, but on her pegasus she'd mostly get in the way.
Baldwin followed the middle of a half arsed bandit charge with his bow, training in on his leg. He fired the arrow, hitting its' mark, though slightly to the left. Regardless, it seemed to have pinned the muscle to his leg, and prevented him from moving it. It also demoralized the rest of the charge, and slowed down the people behind him, slightly.
Baldwin turned to see his companions work. The archers screaming seemed to have distracted a few charging bandits. Baldwin reached back into his quiver, drawing the string with three arrows. He fired them all into an axe wielding thug, charging at his boss.
"GACK." Was the mans memorable last words, as his arrows pierced his thigh, lung, and neck. Baldwin gave a thumbs up to Ragriz, and drew another arrow, intent to get a few more kills.
Razgriz raised his shield. The axe blade caught the lip and the bandits hand smashed into it. Unfazed the Brigand attempted to muscle through. A serpent striking in speed his sword cut into the mans ribs near clear through to the spine. The brigand hunched over and splashed when he hit the mud. The other that was charging him had stopped when the blood spewed from his friend. He dropped his axe to clutch his stomach. It did no good as his body involuntarily vomited, falling to his knees in weakness. This brigand must of only been in his early twenties. Razgriz put his boot to the lad and knocked him to the ground. "Leave this one alive". He moved on from him to engage the remaining foe. A Fighter and his leader Bolk, who was now fuming with rage.
"Yous all gona pay for this"!!! Bolk shouted with a fury unfounded in his throat. He charge, axe swinging in a blurred figure eight. Selina was right in his warpath.
Selina turned to face the charging bandit. She had to keep him occupied. The boss is the only other one able to stand up to the Bandit leader. Bring it on She thought as her smirk spread to a full on grin. She brought her sword up to block the onslaught. The Edge of the axe caught her sword stopping the bandit leaders axe from imbedding its self in her skull. Selina grunted as the force of the axe nearly knocked the blade from her hands.
"C'mon big man! Surely all the times you've cut down defenseless villagers has taught you to swing better than that?!" She mocked the bandit as he snarled and brought the axe up again, she swung her sword around trying to bury it in the leaders midsection. He tried to back away and only suffered a gash across his abdomen. She brought her sword around again as he felt at the wound. Her grin never faltered. At least one of these bandits knew how to fight.
The brutish leader was assaulting Selina, and that annoyed Isi. A great deal.
The man stepped back to feel at a slash in his chest, separating he and Selina, opening the way for Isi.
She landed, her pegasus flaring its wings. The man stumbled backwards, and the pegasus kicked out, but the burly man caught himself and stepped out of the way. Isi kicked off again, lunging through the air at him. He clumsily brought his axe up, deflecting the lunge. Isi barely held onto the lance, and flew by the man. He wasn't the most elegant fighter, but he did have power behind his blows.
Isi and her pegasus flew higher, circling. The brute kept and eye on both Selina and Isi, as best he could. Isi made several feints, but figured that she's only get in Balwin's way if she attacked again. She sighed. Small battles were hell for her, especially with an archer on her side.
Bolk brought his axe down on Selina again. The force of the blow scratched the guard of her sword and knocked her to a knee. He grabbed her sword arm with his free wrist and brought the weapon for the final strike. Razgriz jumped in at the last second to stave off the blow. His sword shook to hold Bolk back. "Nice try Bolk, but I won't"... The Fighter jumped into the air and his axe crashed into him. The continuation of the attack had them tumble to the ground. Bolk kicked Selina square in the midsection. She reeled away injured slightly but no where near out of commission.
Razgriz felt for his sword in the mud lost from the tumble. He found it in just enough time to block the Fighters fist. The bandit screamed, howled like a coyote. Blood poured out of his split in two hand. He pulled away, gripping the wound tightly into his gut to try to stop it. Tears from the pain and agony escaped him. Razgriz ended his suffering, running his blade through the mans heart. "Isi, Baldwin! Take Bolk down"!
Bolk was almost on Selina again before Baldwin's arrow dug into his shoulder stopping him. "Gahh, you pig. You are gona die so painfully for that". Bolk snapped the shaft off, tossing it aside. "And more so for my men"!
Elude had watched as the bandit leader went toe to toe with the rest of the company. While Elude stood back at a distance safely he didn't really feel good about it. Unfortunately, there was pretty much no chance for Elude to employ any of his power during the back and forth; when ally and enemy were that close there was no way for Elude to attack without possibly hitting one of his friends instead.
However, when the group broke apart Elude saw his chance. While the bandit leader took his time tending to an arrow Elude used the opportunity to call up another flaming strike that he directed at the enemy. While the bolt of fire was dead on though Golk saw it in time and dodged to the side. What he wasn't expecting though was that the fireball would explode so close sending mud and embers flying in all directions. A distraction that hopefully someone would be able to exploit.
Selina smiled as the mud and embers splashed across Bolk, it gave her a second to catch her breath from the kick. She stood again her sword raised. Tricks to blind weren't normally her preferred method of incapacitating an enemy, but if it left her alive she was happy. Now was her chance to strike. She charged forward her sword low. She smiled again as she raised her blade and slashed at the bandit leaders torso.