The Silver Tower Chronicles Adventures in other worlds, other times, and other realities

26Sep/12Off

Enzi’s Irregulars #0013

The meeting place at the southern branch of the Devil's Fork river had a larger number of people gathered than Ritter had expected. A small stage had been set up and the Halz wondered what that meant. The wagon stopped within sight of the area, but Enzi kept the group far from the gathering crowd.

“An auction,” Enzi said, “This may work for us or complicate things.”

There were perhaps two dozen people gathered near the stage. A large tent had been set up behind the stage. Enzi headed there, taking Ritter and Gierig with him. Several armed and armored men could be seen near the tent. Two of them guarded the entrance and the rest seemed to be patrolling around it. Obviously the tent could protect people from seeing all the goods that might be available to steal, but one could slice through the fabric easy enough.

The mercenaries gave Enzi and the two Halz suspicious glares. Still the Feergrus man approached them without hesitation or fear. As Enzi neared the two soldiers guarding the tent entrance, the two men shifted their stance. They were in position to draw their weapons and strike with ease.

One of the mercenaries spoke in Infernus, “Halt. This area is not for the bidders.”

Enzi was not shocked that they spoke in his native tongue and smoothly replied, “We are here to speak with the boss. We suspect someone may be trying to cheat him with goods stolen from the dwarves.”

One of the mercenaries yelled something inside the tent. Ritter was not sure what the soldier said. From the sound of it, the Halz suspected he had spoken in Agonori. After his time in Center Point, Ritter thought he might be able to recognize nearly any language, even if he couldn't understand it. Soon enough a well dressed Agonish man strode out of the tent. His appearance was greatly at odds with nearly anyone else Ritter had seen in the human lands thus far. His clothing was clean and straight with vibrant color. The blue seemed particularly striking to the Halz, though he suspected the deep reds were more difficult to achieve.

“Ah, a Feergrus and two dwarves,” the Agonish man said in the Feergrus tongue, “I suspect I know why you are here. You should come with me, I could actually use your help in this matter.”

“Our help?” Enzi asked.

“It is not something for the public to hear,” the finely dressed man replied, “We have several items for auction, but this one was not what we had been told. Please come with me.”

The man patted one of the guards on his shoulder as he walked past, saying something quick in Agonori. Enzi and the two dwarves passed by the soldiers and inside the tent. Ritter had originally believed that the auction was just for the halzium box. Now he saw a wide array of odd items. He saw the distinctive blue sheen of mithril as well as several items in gold or silver. He passed by one item crafted of a metal he did not recognize. The red metal seemed to have a golden hue to it as well.

However, he soon found his attention stolen away by the box they had come for. It was large enough to fit a full Halz inside, depending on how thing the panels were. The runes on the side were immediately recognizable to Ritter.

“That isn't just any box,” he muttered in Nuvro, “That is a puzzle box.”

The Agonish man nodded and spoke in fluent Nuvro, “You are correct. Most humans would not know, but I have had extensive dealings with your kind before.”

“Then you know if a Halz put something in a box like that, it wasn't meant to be opened except in the most dire of situations. Anything in there can't be valuable in the normal sense of the word.”

“Yes,” the man said, “It could also be potentially dangerous. However, whoever put the item in the auction made sure everyone knew about it. This makes the situation slightly more unique.”

“I think we can handle making it vanish so that no one knows it was here,” Enzi said, “And get it somewhere safe and in the proper hands.”

“Let us discuss plans then. You two stone-kin should guard the item. It is yours after all.”

Enzi and the Agonish auctioneer began discussing their plan while Gierig and Ritter stood near the puzzle box.

“This is interesting,” Gierig said in the dwarven tongue, “The runes say this was locked by the Platinum clan. Locked by the edict of isolation.”

Ritter looked over the runes, “Then this isn't dangerous except to those in power.”

“Oh?”

“Yes, that particular edict is about keeping the dwarves as they are. Something in here would be valuable to the Earthbreakers.”

“Like us. Then perhaps we should open it.”

“Eventually. We should get it out of here first,” Ritter said.

The tearing of fabric suddenly filled the air. The soldiers that had surrounded the tent had just all cut their way inside.

“It appears someone bought off your guards,” Enzi said.

“Yes,” the Agonish man replied, “Greed is a terrible thing. Perhaps someday we will all live in unity, but this chaos is most unbecoming.”

“Just step out of the way short stuff,” one of the soldiers said towards the dwarves.

“We will never get the box out of here like this. Whatever is inside has to be easier to carry,” Gierig said, “If you know how to open the thing, now would be a good time. I can hold these scrawny humans off.”

Gierig readied his axe and smiled.

***

Mayitso's growls were the first warning that something was wrong. Several warriors were headed for the wagon. Glancing towards the tent, Eurysa saw that a score of the soldiers had just cut their way inside.

“You get your wish Kava, we get a fight after all,” the gorgon hissed.

Kava's croaking voice was full of bliss, “About damn time.”

Enzi's Irregulars poured out of the wagon as the enemy warriors approached. Kava and Aldebaran dashed into combat to keep the warriors off of their ranged support. Then from behind them a familiar voice spoke out.

“My sources were correct, you are here after all.”

Eurysa turned to see the magehunter Laerdik Verdiss. A dozen possibilities flew through her mind. However, the fight ensued before she could do anything. The soldiers moved in with quiet competence as the magehunter closed on his primary target. Eurysa's bow would be of little use if the magehunter kept her in melee range. Mayitso snapped at the Agonish warrior and he kept his distance.

As the great wolf charged at Laerdik and the human moved with an almost uncanny speed and grace. His extensive training had paid off. There was a flash of metal in his off hand. He had pulled a dagger as he dodged the lycanthrope. There was a terrible yelp from Mayitso as Laerdik drove the dagger home. The great wolf hit the ground bleeding from his side. Eurysa rapidly analyzed the bloody dagger in the man's hands. It was coated with pure silver.

“I learned quite a bit about your little group,” the magehunter said, “There were quite a few tales about you and your allies and the terrible things you have done. The number of innocents each of you has slain. It is the end of your time on Doulairen.”

“Several of us had a rough time dealing with humans that would destroy us because we are different,” Eurysa hissed, “They are not so innocent. Enzi has helped us avoid the trouble.”

“You may think you are doing good, but I've seen some of the reports. Especially of your minotaur friend. There is no excuse for many of those slayings. I learned how magic corrupts those who use it. The teachers in the fortress at Hadrarius drilled many things into the heads of young magehunters. I wondered how true it could be. Ravalei has mages but did not seem corrupt. But I've seen the effects again and again. You may have done some good, but it is time to end your menace before the magic completely corrupts you. Nothing personal.”

Laerdik charged in with blinding speed, leaping over the prone Mayitso. The great wolf was breathing heavily, obviously in great pain. The arming sword in the magehunter's hand flashed through the air as Eurysa slithered back from the attack. She was not skilled at dealing with melee combat and she felt a flash of pain as she tumbled backwards over her tail and hit the ground. Blood oozed from the severed snake that had once been part of her hair.

Kava and Aldebaran were embroiled in a fight with far too many soldiers to come to Eurysa's aid. Laerdik was likely too skilled for any one of the team to defeat easily, certainly not with several soldiers aiding his cause. He stood over the gorgon and raised his blade.

“I am truly sorry,” he said.

“Then don't do it,” Eurysa hissed, “You've felt doubt about magic before. My people were born with this natural ability. You have seen for yourself the good that the Ravaleians can do. There are always those who will misuse a tool.”

Laerdik hesitated and Eurysa continued, “Someone told you that we would be here. They used you as a tool.”

“Yes,” he said, “Perhaps it is true. But I can not simply allow a monster to live. I may not be one of the Cleansers, but a threat is still a threat.”

He raised his blade again and before Eurysa could speak again there was a blur of motion. She saw grew fur stained with red blood. The lycanthrope tackled Laerdik. The blade flew from the Agonish man's hands. Pure fury filled the eyes of the great wolf.

“Mayitso, no!” Eurysa yelled in a raspy voice.

It was no use. The fury of raw nature had been let loose. Instinct and rage drove the lycanthrope. The wound had driven his higher order thinking away. His fangs sank deep into the magehunter's neck. The rending motion that came after was quick and brutal. The blood spray was horrific to any who viewed it. Yet that would not slake the thirst of the beast. Mayitso leapt from the corpse and launched himself at other soldiers, gnashing his teeth.

The battle was soon won. The killing field looked like a slaughterhouse. Mayitso had calmed as the slayings soothed his feral nature. He whimpered in pain and collapsed from exhaustion and blood loss near the wagon. Eurysa glanced around, trying to ignore her own wound despite the dead snake flopping over one eye.

“If he was told ahead of time so that he could be here, then this whole thing was planned. This was a set up, a trap.”

“Oh that little dwarf is gonna get it,” Kava croaked, “Wonder how much shorter he will be without his legs?”

“Oh Enzi,” Eurysa hissed, “Please be okay.”

Comments (0) Trackbacks (0)

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Trackbacks are disabled.