Chapter 1 Part 2

The escorts stood in bewilderment, staring at the arrowhead barely protruding from the man’s blubber. Swiftly, I unsheathed my guard’s blade and slashed upward at the face of the mercenary closest to me, kicked his unprotected shin and shoved him to the side. He stumbled backwards, clutching his face with one hand and raised the other towards me- as if doing that would stop me from smashing the pommel of my sword into his already bleeding face. The poor man fell on his back as I swiped the blade at his knees. Arrows whistled behind him and the few mercenaries at the back fell with a thud against the wagon, shafts protruding from their chest and neck.

“Ambush!” the mercenary leader yelled. He quickly sprung back defensively, veins popping out of his already-flushed face in anger. The remaining mercenaries finally snapped out of their trance and assumed a protective stance around the fat trader’s wagon instead of surrounding us with their overwhelming numbers. Well, that makes thing easier.

After that – well, everything turned into a slugfest. The men behind me – there were 4 of them – charged at the mercenary band, swords and hatchets in hand and shouting in furor at their enemies. The enemies thought we were a diversion so the archers could take potshots at them. Our plan pretty much went smoothly due to their loose formation. My ‘patrol guards’ attacked them separately with overwhelming numbers, the archers and Haron would let loose their shafts at the ones coming to support the outnumbered mercenary. Fwip, fwip, fwip, and the morale of the mercenary band began to crumble. A few of them even dropped their weapons and started fleeing.

As for me, I had the sharp end of the stick. Literally. While my men were occupied with the escorts, the mercenary captain turned and pointed his longsword towards me. It would not have scared the bricks out of me if only his range was wider than mine, but as soon as our sword clashed – PING – and I am left with a hilt and a fragment of a blade. Seeing that ugly grin of his, I threw the hilt as hard as I could at his face and rushed at him, knocking him down. He still had the longsword in his hand and tried to swipe at me mid-fall, which I barely managed to block with my leather forearm guard.

The blade sliced through the side of my forearm and only stopped when it hit the bone. I hissed sharply as we both went down. I quickly got on the mounting position.

“This. Is. What. You. Get. For. Not,” I swung my good arm into his face, panting. ” For not wearing a helmet. ”

I tore a piece of cloth from one of the dead mercenaries, washed it at a nearby stream and started dressing the wound as best I could. “Better get that wound checked and stitched at the town’s clinic lest it festers, son,” Haron said as he walked into view from inside the foliage.

“It stings quite a bit, but I think I can handle it, old man. At least until we move the wagons to the camp. ”

“Here, I found a dragon blood tree a while back and stored some of its sap. Lather some on that wound of yours to stop it from bleeding.” Haron brought out a small bottle half-filled with blood-colored liquid and tossed it over into my palm. I immediately popped open the cork and poured the substance over the cut. ” We’ll have ourselves a proper meal tonight after almost a year of that darned stale bread. The men did well today, they found a whole stash of cured beef in one of the crates hidden inside the wagon.”

You bet we did. This is our most profitable raid yet, though it intrigues me where the caravan was headed and why such precious cargo was so lightly guarded while travelling through the back road.

“Has the trader spilled anything yet? Any news on the frontier or deserted plains?” I asked, standing up and walking briskly towards the camp. The Eredium continent was currently divided into 5 kingdoms, 3 duchies and one self-proclaimed empire all connected by roads. Each governed land is connected by a number of roads – the ones frequented by the patrol guards within 20 miles of a realm are called the main road and the ones beyond and less protected are known as the back road. The city of Brule fell under the rule of the Kingdom of Rustar after a two-years long siege. One of the reasons why the city managed to hold out or so long is due to its location being structured near a valley surrounded by mountains which spans hundreds of miles long with open plains in a five miles radius to prevent attacking forces from finding cover during a war and one of the only remaining lakes untouched by the poison of the events hundreds of years ago. The city is connected by two roads: one slopes down and over the city moat while the other is a mountain pass. It also has an emergency supply tunnel which acts as an escape route through the mountains if you exit the southern gates and cross the icy lake. How do I know all this? Well, my uncle on my mother’s side was the ruler of Brule, a viscount named John Chevar. I mentioned was because after city of Brule fell to the Rustars, he was promptly executed for refusing to submit to the rule of King Fernand and I was promoted to Viscount Eric of Brule.

“After seeing his dead escorts being stripped of anything of value and the injured ones bound, he just wouldn’t stop talking. ” Haron grinned and shook his head. ” We’ll see if any of the captives would like to join us and sell the rest to a passing slave trader.”

“That makes thing a little easier. I would hate to have to twist the arrow shaft in his shoulder to get him talking.”

Suddenly, there was a terrible scream.