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

30Jan/13Off

Enzi’s Irregulars #0031

“She's a war enchanter,” Enzi answered, “Very rare. Likely the only one this young. Not a lot of people train that direction, it usually takes too much time to learn all the prerequisites to pull off the final step.”

“Final step?” Ritter asked.

Enzi nodded, “Turning yourself into a living magic item.”

Rukiya nodded, “That plus a few preparatory spells each morning while I meditated. These thugs were not a major threat. If I did not have to sleep, this trip would need no guards. Fortunately you are capable enough to keep watches during the night. Thank you for your help thus far. Hopefully this will be an object lesson to the separatists. Perhaps the rest of the journey will be quiet.”

“They didn't have any casters or undead,” Enzi replied, “Although their leader had impressive combat skill. I somehow doubt this is the end.”

“I agree,” Rukiya replied, “Although we can always hope. I see from your fighting that you were trained at the Temple of Chasar. A former general as well? That is interesting.”

“A life long since past,” Enzi replied, “I am not half the fighter I was when I was young.”

“Still, I can see why you would be trusted then. An outsider, but one with known loyalties. It sounded as if you had no love lost with these separatists. I am impressed with the choice of your company as escorts.”

Kava croaked, “Yeah, with me around, everyone gets impressed.”

The vodyanoi flexed her stringy amphibian muscles. Rukiya giggled slightly before catching herself and returning to her stoic nature.

“I knew I could get through that armor,” Kava said, “Don't ever let it get too strong.”

Rukiya nodded, “That almost sounds like something an acolyte of Rakar would say. I may learn of that wisdom more deeply someday. For now, shall we continue?”

Enzi looked at the two slain oxen, then to the Irregulars, “I guess we are walking the rest of the way.”

Ritter looked at the inhuman mercenaries, “This should be interesting.”

“I am wearing a circlet,” Rukiya said, “No one will question anything I do.”

The group gathered their few meager belongings from the wagon and continued on. They might have been able to drag the wagon to town, but finding any oxen for sale would have been impossible. Such things could only be bought from the farms to the far north. It was far more trouble than it would be worth. Eventually the group reached Cahriq. The group got several stares, but with Rukiya leading the way, no one said anything. Enzi kept to the rear of the group.

There was some rumor in town about movement out in the Brackenwater Barrens to the east. Ritter wondered if that was the separatists. It sounded like an area that no one lived in, a perfect place for the rebels to hide and strike from. As the mercenaries continued northwest, they were moving away from that area and headed towards what was mostly a more heavily inhabited area. At least until they neared the Standing Stones. The group kept on guard as they made their way along the well traveled roads.

Ritter wondered what people would make of the abandoned wagon and the dead bodies between Cahriq and Quom. The wagon had Enzi's name on the side. It was too late to worry about that, the group had to move on. Losing the oxen had slowed them, though only slightly. No one in the group was out of shape. Rukiya in particular was in excellent condition for hours of exertion. The Halz wondered what her training had been like. It was obviously effective.

The trip to Jahrom was without incident. They did not run into any problems on the next leg of their trip until they reached the town of Agadir. A temple to the war deity Chasar sat there, and the priest in charge halted the advance of the group. He gave a suspicious look to the monstrous mercenaries and to the extraordinarily young acolyte.

“You will excuse me if I find your group rather suspicious, miss?” the man asked.

“Bora. Rukiya Bora. Acolyte of Chasar, on a mission from Iskandar to the port city of Ubayyid.”

“Odd I had not heard of such a thing,” the priest said, “Come with me into the temple and I will get this sorted out.”

Ritter noticed the man wore a circlet much like Rukiya's. It had a single black gem set into it. However, instead of a crudely forged iron circlet, this was a finely crafted circlet of the purest gold. The Halz noticed that Enzi felt distrust for the priest, though Rukiya was unreadable. As an acolyte, Ritter was sure that Rukiya had to follow the orders of a senior priest. This felt like a trap to the Halz, but he didn't see any way out of it that wouldn't cause more trouble.

The group passed into the temple. The inside of the temple was frightening. Pictures of combat adorned the walls and weapons hung between them. Armor stands sat is strategic areas. This was like a barracks, but the Halz could feel the oppressive violent atmosphere choking the air. This was a place of war. Templars could be seen in training, keeping themselves fit. The sound of battle filled the area. The mercenaries were led to a small room. Ritter noticed all the walls and doors of the temple were reinforced.

“Just stay here for now, I will be back shortly,” the priest said.

He closed the door as he left. It was a heavy iron door and the group heard the lock slide into place. The group was well and truly trapped now, but Ritter noticed that Enzi and Rukiya both looked relaxed. The rest of the mercenaries looked as unnerved as the Halz felt. The last thing a small group of mercenaries wanted to be up against was a force of superior numbers and good training. Especially since the enemy had chosen the battlefield. Ritter couldn't understand why the two from Feergrus were taking things so well.

“I can't go against orders, but you seem relaxed, what is your plan?” Rukiya asked.

“I'm thinking of kidnapping a young acolyte named Rukiya,” Enzi replied, “All I need is enough of a ruckus to draw attention. If we can make the final push to Ubayyid, there are people there at the docks to aid us. This priest would have his templars after us anyway, might as well give you a cover.”

“I'll try to look innocent and helpless,” Rukiya said, “Most people believe that of me anyway. My youth has its advantages when it comes to disarming my foes' expectations.”

“Solid iron door with heavy bolt,” Enzi said, “Not sure even Aldebaran can break that down easily.”

“Well, it just needs weakened a little,” the young girl replied, “Then the kick down will make lots of noise to draw attention so they can see all of you carrying me off.”

Rukiya walked up to the door and concentrated. There was a loud hiss as acid formed out of nothingness. She nodded to the minotaur. Aldebaran charge towards the door and kicked it with one of his mighty hooves. The door flew open with a loud slam. The minotaur hefted up Rukiya as she mimicked being unconscious. The group stormed out of the room and towards the entrance. Ritter and Enzi led the way, each tackling a Templar guard at the entrance.

The group left the temple as yells sparked behind them. Enzi's Irregulars made a run northwards along the road. As they reached the edge of town they settled into a steady march. They would have to push themselves to keep the distance between them and their foes. However, all the mercenaries were hardened to such things. The biggest worry was any warriors taking panther form. The speed of the panthers might let them catch up. Luckily, the number of people that could do that transformation were few. As the priest of Chasar had to have learned tactics, he would certainly realize that in the open and without superior numbers, any battle would not be in his favor.

However, there was one problem. Ritter's short legs meant he was slower than the average human. He was always surprised at how well Eurysa could propel herself with her slithering. It meant that the Halz was the slowest member of the group. If the enemy pushed as hard as they did, they would catch up. It was unfortunate that all were not as quick as Mayitso in his four legged form. The dusk turned to evening and the evening to night. The group was tired but an attack could come at any time.

“We aren't all going to make it are we?” Ritter asked finally.

“I don't leave soldiers behind,” Enzi replied, “Besides, I have a lot more experience than anyone at that temple. I know a few tricks. The rest of you make camp, we will take a short rest here, then continue on in a few hours. I will go and make their pursuit a lot harder.”

Enzi dashed off into the night and Rukiya looked to the group, “Just who is that man?”

“The leader of the Irregulars,” Eurysa hissed, “He can get any job done. Just leave your trust in that.”

The light of dawn awoke Ritter. Enzi was already preparing a quick breakfast to give energy to the group.

“Well, looks like we are still here,” Ritter said.

“Oh yes, they gave chase too,” Enzi replied, “And they believe they are still chasing us. We may pass them later today, while they are searching for our trail, since it appears we went off road a few miles north of here. They will be trying to pick up our trail again, or rushing to blockade our path. I have a few good plans for almost any situation. It has been a while since I have had to think up strategy on the fly. Usually I have plenty of time to plan.”

“Then we have nothing to worry about,” Ritter said confidently.

Enzi sighed, “That feeling is what worries me the most. This is too easy. There has to be something I am not thinking of. Something I can not be prepared for.”

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