Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Mere Acquaintances- Chapter Fourteen

It was a rare sight at this point to see Ryan, Lydia, Emery, and Joanna apart. At the moment, they were having their own little picnic near one of the benches in the courtyard. But like most picnics, they were inevitably attacked by a cadre of ants.

The band of Keidenelle fell upon them abruptly, but they weren’t unexpected. Roark danced his sword silently, keeping an eye on the woman as well as he could. Draegon he was leaving on his own; the man had proven himself able to at least protect himself decently, so he was far down on Roark’s immediate list of concerns. He took a split second to make sure none of the Keidenelle he was slashing at wore the proper clothing that Draegon did; he would hate to find out, when the dust cleared, that he had actually killed his charge.

The savages weren’t really terribly fierce, nor were they organized or trained warriors. They didn’t fight as a group; each man or woman-- he was surprised to find that some of the “warriors” were women-- fought on his or her own, slashing a blade wildly or swinging fists without any real sense of skill. Their “tactics” seemed to be more to overwhelm opponents with numbers and then to fight dirty. More than once, he defended against a below-the-belt kick, and he had to watch his back constantly.

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Kemeny taking his spare sword from the scabbard on his horse’s saddle. The tiny little thing actually joined the fight. At least she wasn’t the target of many of the savages; they seemed to have realized he and Draegon were the real threats and were concentrating on them. The little contortionist was completely untrained and swung the sword wildly-- almost as wildly as the Keidenelle with their crude blades.

Scanning for Weslyn between swings, he found her, crouched on the far side of the horses, scared frozen. Draegon was not too far from her, his eyes mirroring the frenzy that was in the eyes of their attackers. It was frightening how similar he looked to the savages then. He seemed to have lost himself in the fight, in his knives and the use of them. More than once, he plunged a blade into a side or a back repeatedly without thought of mercy. The sneer of his mouth was murderous; he seemed to have a personal vendetta against every one of them. Roark shook his head. Whatever the bard claimed, he was of the same blood as these people-- some of the savages didn’t really seem sure how to react to him.

For himself, he didn’t like to kill if it wasn’t necessary. Sure, he brought down those who were immediate threats to the two women, but unlike Draegon he didn’t go out of his way to slay the others. As a master of the “sword and board” he didn’t have any trouble neutralizing threats without taking lives. Draegon was doing enough of the killing for them both. Roark feared he was becoming overwhelmed by bloodlust and wouldn’t stop even when they were on the retreat. Even Weslyn wasn’t cowering anymore, but staring agape at him and the gore he was reveling in.

The retreat began as quickly as the attack had, and the few that were still alive clambered onto their wagon and hurried off as rapidly as they could. That murderous light still in his eyes, Draegon flicked a knife at them, and one of the fleeing savages took it in the back, causing her to fall form her place on the wagon.

As for the bard himself, he looked a general mess and seemed unaware of Roark, Weslyn, and Kemeny staring at him. He was covered from head to toe in blood-- some his own, most of it not-- and sweat. Without a word, he began to search methodically among the dead, retrieving knives he’d thrown and cleaning them before replacing them up sleeves and elsewhere on his person. He suddenly became aware of the others watching him, and Roark heard him mutter something about “rotten savages” and “choosing to be uncivilized”.

Finally, he dragged a sleeve across his mouth, smearing the blood and sweat together across his chin, but managing to somehow look cleaner. “Come on,” he said. “Let’s go get these horses of yours, Weslyn."

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