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

23Jan/13Off

Enzi’s Irregulars #0030

From her appearance, Rukiya Bora was graduating from the temple four years too early. That meant she had to have beaten foes much older and larger than herself in combat. The fact that she appeared unscathed caused Enzi a great deal of worry. That either meant that she was exceptional beyond compare or that the Bora family had grown in power enough so that their daughter got an easy path through combat training. Both of those possibilities worried Enzi.

The Bora family were ruthless in their need to rise above their caste. While the little girl likely had little knowledge of her family as an acolyte in training was separated from their parents at a very young age, she might have feelings of being special if her family had indeed affected her trials. If things came too easily to a student, it was easy for them to be spoiled by it. Their overconfidence would be shattered upon the first time they faced a true challenge. Enzi wondered if the protection was to make sure that Rukiya did not dace such a challenge before she was truly ready.

The tiny girl had the air of innocence about her. She glanced across the inhuman mercenaries in the wagon and did not seem shocked at all. Ritter wondered if the child had been prepared with a description of the five warriors. Even with that, he doubted that any description would be enough to prepare a human for things as different as the members of Enzi's Irregulars. The vodyanoi gave a creepy overly wide grin full of teeth towards Rukiya.

Kava snorted and croaked in Infernus, “You seem awful calm little girl.”

The little girl gave the amphibian a cold glare that sent chills down Ritter's spine as she calmly replied, “You would have to actually be a threat to me to cause any worry.”

“Ooh, I like you,” Kava said, “I can see this trip is going to be loads of fun.”

Ritter looked at the odd accoutrements of the group's young charge. The clothing she was was little more than a few silken wisps of cloth wrapped around her. It was no armor, but it would certainly allow for easy movement. She did one one piece of metal, however. On her head was an iron circlet. Set in the circlet was a single black gemstone. The quality of the circlet was certainly not that of a skilled craftsman. It had obviously been hammered out quickly and cheaply. The Halz thought he could see rust at spots already.

Enzi had mentioned that circlets were the symbol of the priesthood. Ritter guessed that as an acolyte in training, the little girl therefore got the mass produced and cheap version. A nicer one would likely be made if she progressed to a higher rank. The Halz was not impressed with the little girl's attitude towards Kava, but she still radiated an aura of innocence. She was young, and likely had some overconfidence issues. Ritter hoped that her skills would not come to a test during the trip. He was worried the vodyanoi would provoke something. Rukiya took a seat in the wagon calmly. As they started to roll, she leaned back, The tiny Feergrus girl closed her eyes and began to meditate. Kava waved her one good hand in front of the closed eyes and Rukiya smirked.

“Just because my eyes are closed does not mean I don't notice things,” the little girl said, “I have ears to hear you move, the sense of touch the feel the movement of air.”

“Kava, leave the poor girl alone,” Eurysa hissed, “This is going to be a long enough trip as it is.”

“It will feel shorter with entertainment,” the vodyanoi croaked.

The rest of the mercenaries rolled their eyes. Rukiya remained quiet as she meditated. The young girl remained still and quiet throughout the trip and even at camp she ate without a word. That meant she gave no complaint either, and for that all were thankful. A long trip with a child had the potential to turn into a nightmare. The wagon rolled along the road to the town of Balquan, then passed it headed onwards to Amarah. Rukiya remained as still and silent as ever, moving only when it was necessary.

Kava, however, was beginning to fidget. The urge to break Rukiya's silence was eating at the vodyanoi. Even Ritter could see that. There was no sign of any problems. Traffic on the roads seemed normal and no one paid much attention the Enzi's wagon. Ritter wondered if an attack would even come. On the sixth day out of Iskandar they passed through the town of Quom. It was a border town, near the Tarvo Forest that covered all the southern tip of the continent. At Quom, the Marsh of Vashim crept quite close to the borders of Feergrus. The forest that surrounded it was the only real border between the inhabitants of the swamp and the land of Feergrus.

Even the trees looked twisted. The moisture of the marsh battled with the harsh dryness of the rocky Feergrus badlands. The trees seemed to bear more relation to the few scraggly plants in the badlands than to the great trees in the eastern swaths of the immense forest. The town was rather nervous. That worried Ritter. He heard a warning given to Enzi about problems from the forest. Instead of the usual problems with a few overly brave Vashimi wandering out to try and capture some unsuspecting Feergrus for their cannibalistic hunger, this tale spoke of a larger threat. It seemed that the lizardfolk had begun gathering in great numbers near the border.

Ritter suddenly put several items together in his head. The mission to evict the Vashimi earlier had involved the lizardfolk moving through Shimese territory headed elsewhere. The logical answer was to Feergrus. Such a threat obviously was a drain on the military resources of the country. This would be a perfect time for separatists to attack various targets. The hiring of the irregulars made much more sense to the Halz. Not only were they trusted not to be separatists, they were a resource that didn't tap into military forces that were likely already stretched thin.

After the warning to watch out for potential danger and attacks from the lizardfolk, the wagon rolled onward. They needed to continue to the next town. They would pass through the towns of Cahriq, Jahrom, and Agadir before finally reaching the mighty port city of Ubayyid. First they had to reach the town of Cahriq. That quickly proved to be an issue. That wagon ground to a halt a few hours out of Quom. A Feergrus man stood in the middle of the road.

“I have been expecting you.”

Ritter sighed and mumbled under his breath, “Again?”

Enzi grumbled as he replied back, “There seem to be quite a few expecting us wherever we go. It might be more important as to what you are expecting us for.”

“I know more than the others you have dealt with. None of them knew who you really are, general.”

Enzi's posture immediately changed and Ritter began readying his armaments as the mercenary company leader growled in response, “Just who are you then?”

“My name is not important, I am merely a servant of a grater cause. It is a cause you should join. You know the leaders of this country are corrupt. You have experienced it firsthand.”

“You are one of the Ahk,” Enzi said.

“Indeed,” the man replied, “I know there have been issues between our group and you in the past. You were a powerful general for our enemy, do not blame us for targeting you.”

“You didn't target me, you targeted my family,” Enzi replied, “I have no love for the corruption in our government, but your group is far worse. Your vision for the world is a dark and grim one that I want no part in.”

The man on the road shrugged, “So be it. While your talent would have been an invaluable aid to our noble cause, I expected this would come to this.”

Enzi snapped the reins of the mighty oxen that pulled the wagon and they leapt forward. The man on the road merely smirked. Crossbow bolts and arrows flew. The oxen collapsed to the ground dead, sliding to a stop at the feet on the man on the road. Ritter grabbed Rukiya as the projectiles flew through the canvas. His armor and shield protected him and the Feergrus girl as the rest of the mercenaries made their own defense, leaping one way or another.

“Your protective instinct is admirable,” Rukiya said to Ritter, “You may release me now, I can handle myself against such crude attacks. Thank you for your concern.”

The Halz was not sure whether to feel insulted at the condescending tone or to be thankful that Rukiya at least was nice enough to thank him. He saw Eurysa slithering about firing arrows at their foes. Enzi, Aldebaran, Mayitso, and Kava were on the ground moving towards their targets. For Enzi, his target was the man on the road. Ritter leapt out of the back of the wagon and assessed the situation for himself. It was quickly obvious to the Halz that the team was greatly outnumbered and that many of the separatists were dug in behind mounds they had built up themselves.

An arrow flew towards Rukiya who was now unprotected. The projectile suddenly slowed as it neared her and she batted it out of the air nonchalantly. The separatists leapt from behind the mounds and charged into combat as the mercenaries neared them. Ritter quickly found himself fighting three warriors. Aldebaran, Mayitso, and Kava each found themselves against similar odds. Eurysa was having an archery contest with one of the separatists. The two were exchanging shots on the move, each trying to land the first hit. Their skills meant they could predict where the arrows would fly from each other. Two master archers trying to outmatch each other.

Of course, Eurysa was trying to move to where she could match her gaze with her foe. That would end the fight rapidly. Enzi seemed to have his hands full with his own foe. Whoever the leader was, he was nearly evenly matched with Enzi. Enzi had superior experience, but his foe was younger, faster, and stronger. However, the real problem was the three men who stroke towards Rukiya with grins on their faces. One tiny little girl certainly would be no match for three fully grown men with military training.

“Sorry to do this little girl, but you need to die,” one of the men said.

Rukiya remained silent and merely kept walking towards the three without fear. The lead of the three charged in first to attack. Rukiya spun to one side with a flash of speed that shocked all who saw it. Her hand struck at the back of the man's knee. There was a sudden explosion of gore as the man's knee exploded and his lower leg flew several feet away. The other two warriors rushed in to attack at once hoping to overwhelm Rukiya. Her fist punched through the chest of the first with seemingly no effort. She glided away from her other foe as he attacked, moving with uncanny grace.

Almost immediately she was on the offense and her palm connected with the last man's chin. His jaw was torn off by the force of the blow as teeth and blood splattered everywhere. The three corpses laid in heaps at the little girl's feet. She was unmarked by any attack, although blood had splattered across her silken clothes and her face. By this point the other mercenaries had made headway on their own foes. Eurysa's foe sat motionless, stopped by her magical gaze. Enzi had transformed into his hybrid form and beaten his foe down. Mayitso, Ritter, Kava, and Aldebaran had hacked through most of the other enemies.

Ritter looked at the small girl and the incredible damage and asked, “What are you?”

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