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

30Oct/13Off

Enzi’s Irregulars #0070

Keeping away from civilization in Kurrot was an easy task. That was not the same as keeping away from people. Small homesteads could be seen in the distance more than once. Great herds of animals moved through the vast plains, directed by the Kurrot who ran along with them. For what was often thought of as vast empty plains, the land of Kurrot was surprisingly well populated with life and activity. The Kurrot were generally a solitary people, so the Irregulars were left alone for nearly two weeks.

Devis Lane led the five inhuman mercenaries southwest towards Agon as a huge line of herd animals was passing on their eastern flank. However, the herd had taken a sharp right turn ahead, crossing in the path of Enzi's Irregulars. Devis would either have to push through the line of herd animals or make his westward tack much heavier than expected. The Rakshasa had little taste for delays. He was half tempted to just cut through the herd with violence.

As the approached the line of animals one of the Kurrot herders slowed and turned to face the group suspiciously, “Who... Or what are you?”

“Enzi's Irregulars,” Devis answered in Kurro, “Headed back to Feergrus. Your herd seems to now be in our way.”

“Not much I can do about that,” the tall, thin Kurrot replied, “Just take a listen on the breeze.”

Listening to the calm quiet of the fields might have been soothing to some, especially with the rhythmic tromping of hooves upon the ground. As the breeze picked up, Devis heard another sound. It sounded suspiciously like wind chimes. The metallic sound was out of place in a vast open plain of tall grasses. The Rakshasa noticed a sense of fear of the noise from the herd. A quick brush of the surface thoughts told him everything else he needed to know.

“You hear that jingling?” the Kurrot asked, “That is razor grass. You try walking through that, you gonna have your skin carved up real good. Stuff is sharper than most blades and tough as iron. Most annoying stuff around, you just can't seem to get rid of it.”

The disguised Rakshasa nodded, able to see the truth in the man's mind, “Then we must go around. It will delay us, but far less of a delay than having our skin carved off as you so delicately put it.”

Devis had little fear of razor grass and assumed most of the Irregulars would be resistant as well, but it paid to appear more human and vulnerable. From reading the Kurrot man's surface thoughts, Devis knew that the only reason the herders had not attacked was that they had seen odder things in the plains. As long as it did not attack the herd, they were willing to let almost anything pass by without a fight. They had better things to do than just pick a fight with everything that moved.

The herders still regarded the inhuman mercenaries and their foreign leader with great suspicion. Devis could not blame them. His own motives were decidedly against the success of Kurrot unless it joined Feergrus. His patriotism was without bounds. Devis would see that Feergrus succeeded, no matter what it took. For the moment, that mean turning westward and walking beside a great herd of animals. Eventually the Kurrot and the herds outran Enzi's Irregulars.

Devis saw where they turned southwards and followed the path that had been forged. The disguised Rakshasa led the way towards Agon. He continued to head southwest, though he turned their direction mouth southwards than he had before. They had moved eastwards for nearly the whole day to avoid the massive patch of razor grass. The group traveled for eight more days before reaching the border of Agon. The border between Kurrot and Agon was not patrolled. There was no fence or anything to stop border crossings.

At this point in the border, what separated Agon from Kurrot was civilization. Towns dotted the border. Heavily traveled roads existed between the towns. Devis hoped to cross through Agon with as little contact with the natives as possible. It would be impossible to avoid them. They would need their aid to cross the rivers, but Devis was skilled at negotiation. He expected to be able to smooth over nearly any problem, even with five monsters following him.

Using any of his magic would be the biggest problem. He would have to rely on his cunning and physical strengths to survive this trip. In these regards, the Rakshasa was still far superior to any human he knew. The group crossed the border of Agon between the cities of Parevius and Seligkint. Devis planned to take the group due south through the farmlands of Agon until they reached the city of Eurarmis. They could take a ferry across the Capital River there.

The trick would be the four day walk through the farmlands. Hopefully they would not have to deal with any of the farmers, but Devis did not hold out much hope for that. His only hope was that they could keep them calm long enough to escape Agon and enter Feergrus. Failing that, delaying a chase by soldiers would be good enough. Devis did not want to start a fight in Agon. He would rather spend his time on more important things. Plus he was not sure how well he could hide his identity in a fight.

In regular things he could fool people into believing he was Enzi Cala. Even the Irregulars had not yet begun to suspect the Rakshasa. However, Devis had his own fighting style. He had fought Enzi and might be able to emulate it, but the Rakshasa's instincts would certainly betray him. His skill in battle far exceeded Enzi's meager talents. He had to rely on diplomacy. Luckily, Devis was also remarkably skilled at talking his way out of trouble. Being able to read minds helped with that skill quite a bit.

The first day went well. They crossed the road without seeing anyone traveling between cities. Growing season had begun long enough ago that the fields provided visual cover. Harvest was still many months away thankfully. It gave Enzi's Irregulars a way to evade detection. Not that it completely worked, however, as the swaying of tall stalks gave away movement when there was no wind. Such movement brought suspicion. That was why during the second day a voice yelled out in Agonori.

“Who goes there?”

It was a standard hail to determine friend or foe. Animals or criminals might flee. Only a friend or the devious would reply. Devis was nothing if not devious, but he also currently had no reason to be anything but a friend. The Rakshasa could read the fear on the surface thoughts of the farmer. Like nearly all Agonish men, the farmer had been through militia training in his youth. His skill with weapons would be higher than just any person, but Devis could tell this was a man who had never been in an actual fight.

Devis spoke in Agonori, “Greetings. We are merely passing through on our way to Feergrus, my homeland.”

Still disguised as the Feergrus man Enzi Cala, the Rakshasa stepped to where the Agonish farmer could see him, “Ah, yes. Would not the road be easier?”

“Time is of the essence,” Devis said, attempting to allay the farmer's suspicions, “We decided to take a rather direct route to reach Eurarmis.”

“It would be a lot easier to cross the rivers at the capital. They meet near there.”

“We had hoped not to be seen too much. My companions draw a lot of attention. With limited time, I thought it best to avoid civilization as much as possible. If you see my allies, you might understand.”

Devis swept aside some of the stalks so that the farmer could catch a glimpse of the inhuman mercenaries.”

The farmer's eyes widened like giant saucers, “What kind of unholy monsters are those things?”

“In the battles ahead there are many dangerous monsters we will have to face. There are few things in this world more effective to fight a monster than another monster. You understand why we might want to keep things quiet, yes?”

“I... I can see. Just hurry up and get away from here. I don't want to see anything like that ever again.”

The farmer shuffled off quickly. Devis could feel the man's fear. Even without his ability to read a person's surface thoughts, the fear was palpable. With his ability, he could see that the man would be too frightened to leave his home for some time, hoping that the mercenaries would be long gone before he would exit again. It would give Enzi's Irregulars plenty of time to escape the area before the farmer might think to inform anyone of what he had seen.

The group pushed hard for the river. The hard part would be getting passage across the mighty capital river. One could not just ford it. Devis hoped to be able to find a quiet way across, but anything could happen once they reached the city. The five inhuman mercenaries could remain outside the town while Devis found a method to get across. Crossing the Ago River would be much easier. All he had to do was reach the Agonish town of Mocelare.

An agent of Feergrus lived there and would make sure the rest of the trip went well. The group just had to make it across the Capital River and another two day's worth of travel across farmlands. Then they would be home free. The group had no more delays in their trip to Eurarmis. Still disguised as the Feergrus man known as Enzi Cala, Devis spoke to the Irregulars. He told them to make their way around the town to the river as quietly as possible and to remain unseen.

With that, the Rakshasa left them. Eurysa led the way and the group hid near the road that led into the small city. Ritter, as the one with the most human appearance, at least from a distance, peered down the road in both directions. The goal was to wait until the road was clear. At that point the group would rush across and make their way to the riverbank. However, it seemed like there was a constant stream of traffic flowing into and out of the town.

Finally things settled down and the five monstrous warriors made their way across the road. They came to the riverbank and watched as the mighty river flowed westwards towards the sea. The river was large, though not as large as the Ago River that it eventually flowed into. It was the Ago River that reached the ocean, carrying the water of at least a half dozen tributaries. The capital River carried water from three tributaries itself, the Florisica River, the Videnthal River, and the Kelmbach River.

Those rivers all met at the Agonish city of Wevner, often known as the City of Bridges. That city was far to the east however, and of no use to the travelers and their current predicament. A nice bridge would have been quite helpful where they were. The river was wide enough that it was difficult to see where the opposite bank was. Small waves showed the strong current. Aldebaran looked at the water and grunted while Kava was already busy dipping her one remaining hand into the cool water to refresh herself.

“Worried about getting sea sick?” the vodyanoi croaked at the minotaur.

Aldebaran snorted, “More worried how they are going to fit your ego on a boat.”

“I'll just swim. I can breathe underwater after all. This little boat thing is for all of you. Once again, proving my superiority. Breathing only air is for wimps.”

“You should try not breathing at all.”

“Then I could not add my insightful commentary. Whatever would you do then?”

“Probably be happy.”

“Not while I'm around. You are more amusing when you are grumpy anyway.”

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