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

21Nov/12Off

Enzi’s Irregulars #0021

The fact that the guard had Ritter's weapon probably saved Gierig's life. As it was, Gierig was shocked as Ritter yelled and charged at him. He brought his weapon around and away from Gharaf. That was when Enzi struck. Gierig's axe clattered across the ground as the Feergrus man struck it from the dwarf's grasp. At the same time, Ritter tackled his fellow Halz.

“You don't want to do this,” Gierig growled.

“No, there are far worse things I'd like to do for all the trouble you have caused,” Ritter replied.

“No more than I would have liked to avenge the injustice wrought by your clan,” Gierig replied, “But there are more important issues at stake for the Halz.”

As the guard came over, he pointed his blade at the two dwarves. Ritter stood up as the guard took Gierig into custody.

Ritter shook his head, “Why would you attack this man?”

“Who do you think hired me for the job we did?” the Halz said, “All as a reason to take the axe of my clan. The thief escaped, and now I am tracking him through the last source left.”

Enzi raised an eyebrow at Gharaf as Gierig was dragged out of the shop.

The Ravaleian swindler shrugged, “I get people posting jobs through me all the time. I don't exactly keep track of all of these things.”

“You are in the business of information,” the Feergrus man replied, “I find it hard to believe you don't know exactly who it was.”

“There are some people even I do not ask questions of,” Gharaf said slyly.

“Gierig will find a way to extract the information from you physically if he gets a chance,” Enzi said reasonably, “

“There are worse threats than him,” Gharaf said losing some of his practiced charm, “Now please leave.”

Enzi and Ritter left the shop and the Feergrus looked towards the Halz, “I have never seen Gharaf like that. Whoever hired Gierig for that job must be quite powerful. They also had no problem setting us up for failure.”

“And now they have one of the ancient artifacts of my people,” Ritter said, “That seems like a bad combination.”

“I agree,” Enzi said, “Worse, I fear we may know too much. Whatever people these are, they may wish to eliminate us now. I hate to say it, but it looks like we have a new mission. We need to learn more. I fear there is only one person who will help us now.”

“Oh, who is that?”

“Gierig Silveraxe.”

Ritter made a face at that, “While distasteful, you are right. If it is for the good of my people, Gierig will work with us to help them. He may hate me, but he does seem to love my people more. I would trust him as far as it takes to help the Halz, though no more than that.”

“I think I can arrange us to be his new jailers,” Enzi said with a devious smile, “Though you might want to go talk with the others and warn them while I make the arrangements.”

“Oh, the others should enjoy this,” Ritter said with a touch of worry in his voice.

***

“What?” Kava asked with exasperation, “We have to let him live? Can I at least torture him for the information we want?”

“He will give the information freely, I suspect,” Ritter sighed, “I don't like dealing with him any more than you. He is a reminder that even my people have those that can not be entirely trusted.”

“You know, with enough violence I bet we could make him more trustworthy,” Kava said hopefully.

“Kava,” Eurysa hissed solemnly, “Be calm.”

The vodyanoi made an odd sound then trudged over to the wagon to sit against it. She slumped there and sulked. Eventually the wait of the mercenaries ended as Enzi came along with Gierig in tow. Gierig gave the mercenaries a suspicious look.

“Believe me,” Ritter said, “I am sure I find working with you as distasteful as you do with me. For now we have a common goal.”

Gierig sighed in defeat, “You are, of course, correct. Let us work together for now, for the good of the Halz.”

“First you should tell us what you know,” Enzi said.”

“When I came to Center Point, I learned of Ritter. I knew getting to you would be difficult, and I came to Gharaf for information. It seems others he talked to learned of my quest and came up with a plan. A group that called itself Unity. Gharaf has strong ties to them at the very least and from what he told me I expect he is a full member.”

“They are powerful enough he did not speak of them, even knowing of the threat you posed to his life,” Enzi interjected.

“Yes, I had tried a few ways to gather information from him,” Gierig continued, “Violence was to be my final method, though I was interrupted. It seems even that might have been ineffective. Persuasion has never been my strongest suit.”

Kava snorted at that comment, but said nothing.

“Gharaf told me his shop succeeds because of this group,” Gierig stated, “How much of what that snake-tongued fiend said is true at any time might be questionable, especially as he was trying to convince me to trust in the job they offered. It is certain that he knows enough to further my search for my clan's ancestral axe.”

“What did they tell you of the job?” Enzi asked.

“Just that it was a puzzled box with Halz runes. They had already figured out that it was tied to the Platinum Clan. I had already talked with Gharaf about Ritter and his clan earlier. It was his information that allowed me to confirm who you were. They needed you to open the box. Then they would take the treasures inside and I would get a cut. I just had to help the escape with the loot, which would be achieved through the elimination or subdual of you and your allies. For me it was a pay day and a chance for revenge. I never suspected the box could hold something so important.”

“I had thought such an artifact would have been put in a vault and locked away as dangerous,” Ritter said, “I was as shocked as you to see it appear.”

“The agent disguised as the auctioneer escaped with it,” Gierig said with obvious disgust, “I was unable to catch him. I searched for him and for any leads. When all trails ended, I came back to Gharaf.”

“Perhaps we can...” Enzi started.

The Feergrus man paused, the hair on the back of his neck standing at attention. His intuition was screaming at him. Eurysa caught the pause and began looking around.

“A dozen or so figures approaching,” she hissed, her green eyes having caught the motion in the distance.

“I can't imagine they are friends,” Enzi said.

With that Kava was on her feet with a grin. The rest of the mercenaries grabbed their weapons. Several soldiers approached the group and the Agonish leader looked over Enzi and his irregulars.

“Ah, it seems your prisoner escaped and has slain you,” the soldier growled in Nuvro, “Too bad. Kill them.”

The fight erupted as Gierig sat bound and helpless. As most of the soldiers engaged Enzi and his irregulars, the leader strutted towards the prisoner.

“Unity sends its regards,” the Agonish man said, “I am afraid you know too much to live. At least we never had to pay you.”

The man raised his blade to end the life of the dwarven traitor. However suddenly Gierig found his bonds cut. He rolled away from the attack that came and saw the inhumanly wide grin of the vodyanoi.

“I sensed you wanted to slay me, why help me to live?” Gierig asked as he stumbled to his feet.

“Oh, I will kill you,” Kava replied, “But it will be me when the time comes. Now beat the living snot out of these useless humans.”

Ritter felt the solid impact of his warhammer against the leather and mail of his opponent. He saw Aldebaran cut down a pair of foes with a single cleaving stroke. Eurysa's arrows whistled in the air as Enzi's unarmed and unarmored abilities proved far superior to his armed and armored foes. It was quite impressive. Kava and even Gierig helped, though without his axe, Gierig's main ability seemed to be to distract foes.

However poorly organize the irregulars had been at the beginning of the battle, by the end they moved like a well oiled machine. Even Gierig was impressed with their skills. Soon only the leader remained and Gierig was sitting on his chest. Disarmed and pinned by the Halz, the Agonish man stopped struggling.

“You should start talking, boy,” Gierig threatened.

The Agonish man snorted, “I may die here, but your threats do not frighten me. Even our failure here still ends you and your allies. The monsters have slain an innocent group. Again.”

“Again?” Gierig asked.

“Oh yes,” the leader said, “That slaughter at the auction is terrible news. Rumors already swirled about it. Today we confirmed it. And now you have slain another group of humans.”

“So Unity will frame us for murder?” Gierig asked.

“Yes,” the man laughed, “Our bureaucratic members can make anything happen.”

“I've heard enough then,” the Halz said, then broke the man's neck before anyone could stop him.

“He would have been trouble later,” Gierig said, “But a bureaucrat is easier to intimidate. We should find this person that works with the people around here and question them.”

“I hate to say it,” Enzi sighed, “But you are right. Leaving that man alive would have only made things worse. Already we are in a terrible situation. By now we are likely considered criminals. Things just got a lot more difficult.”

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