Gender: Male Age: 53 Location: Las Vegas, Nv
|Introduction: Guarding a Dwarf and winning a wager|
It had been two weeks since I had found myself here, besides my morning practice with Samil, I now found myself practicing medicine. (Many of the drugs I had to use, I had to learn to use or make the old ones myself, like penicillin. My evening martial arts classes now numbered around two dozen, mostly women and children, although there were a couple of men that came.
Gentle and Paul were the two guards that I had called when the men from the guild had come for Sam. They were among my students, not all could show up every day so some of the faces changed daily. Margaret and Tom were there everyday. Tom’s cut had healed up nicely. I tried not to turn anyone away if they needed medical help. To tell the truth, I hadn’t turned anyone away, whether it was for food, shelter or medical attention.
My evening class was just ending when the six guards came in the gate with a dwarf in the middle of them. I gave the class leave to start the cool down stretching and then to hit the bath and then I headed to the gate to greet the guest. I knew one of the guards was Samil when they had entered the gate, I recognized two others from the practice field. When I reached them, the dwarf stepped forward. He introduced himself, “My name is Garth. I have been informed that you might be for hire.”
I looked at the guards and then the dwarf, “it looks like you have enough guards.”
Garth shook his head, “not for what I have planned.”
I thought about it, “I have several questions.”
Garth looked surprised, “ask.”
I looked at him, “why? Why another guard and why me? When do you need me and for how long? What do you want me to do and where am I going to do it. Last is how much are you paying?”
Garth hesitated and I shook my head, “If you don’t answer or lie, I will not work for you.”
One of the guards closest to me suddenly lunged at me with a dagger. I was a blur as I stepped to the side, grabbed the wrist, twisted and took the dagger. With another step, the dagger went through the guard’s upper arm, before I threw him back and down. I stepped away, slowly and carefully.
Samil had not moved, nor any of the other guards. I waited and Garth stepped forward and bowed low, “My apology, it was a test. I was told you were good, but I had to be sure.”
With a wave, the guards stepped away. The guard that had attacked me stood and I looked at him, “Don’t try to pull it out.”
Turning, I saw both Sam and Cat standing nearby with the light crossbows I had made at the smithy. The crossbows were made with a skeleton stock, the stock cocked the bow when folded. I looked at Cat, “Get the small trauma kit and Sam to get some sterile water and bandages.”
I had started keeping both on hand. I walked up to the guard; the dagger was still through the arm. He had been wearing a type of chain armor and the dagger had gone through both sides of the chain. I was looking at the arm when Sam came back, “This will hurt.”
With a quick pull, the dagger was out. What I did next startled them all, reaching up and grasp the chain mail at the shoulder with both hands and then before anyone could ask what I was going to do. I ripped the chain mail like it was a light cloth, tearing it around and down the arm. They all looked at me as if I had grown another head, even Samil.
The guard had gone pale, from the feel of him I knew it was shock from the wound. After cleaning and tending to the wound, I stitched it up and had Sam bandage it while I watched. I gave the guard directions for taking care of the wound and then as an after thought, “Don’t ever try that again.”
When I turned back to Garth, it was to a much-subdued dwarf, even Samil looked more alert. Garth cleared his throat, “I expect serious… challenges and want the best. We will need you in three days, for three or four days. You will be paid one hundred gold pieces to protect the… site we are going to use.”
I knew this was not a standard amount, “I will do the job, but I will be bringing Sam and Cat with me.”
He raised his eyebrows. I shrugged, “they are my apprentices.”
Garth nodded and looked at me, “I won’t pay for them.”
I had two days before I would start to work for the dwarf and then I would be gone for up to four days. I found John and a willowy blond girl of maybe twenty named Jenny. They were in the baths with the rest of the students. I told them when I would be gone and for how long, I wanted them to go through the basic forms with the others while I was gone.
Taking John aside, “I will get with you before I leave to go over the house.”
We had pretty much cleaned everything up, we had stopped for three days while we built a large kitchen next to the smithy and added bunk beds in the stables. It seemed like I had as much help as I needed, the neighbor’s tended to just stop by and start helping with whatever needed doing. Probable because I made sure everyone was fed.
Before leaving two days later, I gave a heavy purse to John and Ann just in case of emergencies. I also gave John what I called the budget purse. It was enough to cover the expenses while I was gone. The weapons that I had taken from the Shaffer’s had not been reported stolen so I had modified two of the swords and two daggers.
I had been right about the metal being stronger then steel. It had taken quite a bit to work them down to what I wanted. I had actually started teaching Sam and Cat about a week ago. They had the basics down, only needing to refine themselves.
We met Samil at the practice field in the late afternoon and he escorted us to an area I had not been to before. The building Samil led me to, reminded me of skyscrapers. Only it was just four stories tall, even if it seemed to take up the entire block. When I greeted Garth, he looked at Samil, “I want you to remain on my left.”
I remembered that had been were Samil had been when I had met Garth. I asked, “Why?”
Garth shrugged, “Samil said you are better so you will replace Samil there.”
I shook my head, “no. Obviously you are expecting something and Samil is used to being there. I will take the right front where the injured guard was.”
It was several hours before we set out, there were another twenty guards, not to mention the dozen or so dwarfs that joined us. As we headed out, I had Sam and Cat stay to the outside of the main group with their crossbows ready. The walk was only supposed to take ten minutes, we were halfway there when I heard someone on a roof.
I stopped the party with a simple hand signal, looking in the direction of the sound. I reached out with my sense of touch, I found them quickly. Without warning, I stepped forward and to the side. The arrows appeared as if by magic, one I caught in my left hand and the other was struck down by a sword that no one had even seen me draw.
For a stunned moment, no one moved and then there was a rush to hurry forward. I yelled, “STOP!”
The assassins on the roof were retreating after missing their shot. I could feel something else in front of us. At first, I didn’t know what it was and then I realized, the smell was not right and slowly walked forward reaching out as I did. I was twenty feet in front when the black veil dropped on me and I heard the cries from behind me. I could feel that they were all right so I waited. I might not be able to see but I could still feel, smell and hear.
They came with a rush from the alley that had been twenty feet in front of me. I met them with my sword. The first I took with a slash across his middle that cut through the leather armor as if it wasn’t there and then almost cut the man in half.
The next two came together, blocking the descending sword on my left I lunged, putting the sword through the man’s heart that had been on my right. Then in a spin that ended with me cutting the throat of the man that had been on the left.
The fourth man came at me with his sword low. I blocked that and then moved my sword to his right and up. Then in a downward slash, I cut into the man’s neck at the shoulder, the blade splitting him down to the belly as I stepped away to face the next man.
With a downward slash, I broke the next man’s sword and I kill him by a sudden lunge that ended with my sword in his left eye. In the middle of the fight, I felt the other. It must be the mage from the way he felt. I could feel that he was doing something else. Drawing my long knife, I threw it in a tight arc that ended in the mages chest. Just as quickly as the veil had come, it disappeared, revealing the five remaining fighters I faced.
Even as I stepped forward to engage them, two bolts raced past me, stopping suddenly in the chests of two of the men. With a rush that sent the last three running, the other guards charged forward. It was over as quickly as it started, seven fighters lay on the ground around me and a mage lay in the street twenty feet away.
I moved forward to check the mage. I pulled my long knife out and wiped it off. After putting it away, I checked the mage for anything that might give me information, taking two pouches off him, one small, the other large and heavy. There was also a very nice mythril dagger and a thin silver ring with a green catseye stone.
When I stood up, I signaled for the others to move. When Cat and Sam caught up, I handed the ring, dagger and pouches to Cat. It was only a few minutes later that we reached our destination and one of the dwarfs went forward to knock. A tall man answered the door, I immediately recognized him as an elf like Samil. As we entered, I saw that the new elf seemed to look down on Samil.
Once in the entranceway, the other guards were dismissed. The elf tried to dismiss me, but I ignored him as if he were only a servant trying to direct his betters. When he flushed and his eyes squinted up, I looked him coldly, “I will be staying with Garth.”
The elf started to say something when Garth spoke up, “Samil and the human will accompany me.”
As an after thought, “The two females also.”
As we were leaving through a large hallway, the elf stopped me. “Perhaps I should come to the practice field to teach you how your betters can use a blade.”
I looked at him and smiled, (from the time we had arrived, the elf had not been centered, nor did he move with any skill.) I shook my head, “I don’t teach arrogant puppies.”
Turning, I walked on to catch up, hearing Samil laugh from just in front of me. When we entered the large courtyard, I saw that it held several large forges. I also saw that there were all different types of metals, in both bar and in sand like form. Garth seemed to be upset about something. I was told they would not be starting for another day.
Garth told me they would be staying in the courtyard the whole time. An area to the side had been set aside for pallets and a curtained corner for people to have privacy when they had to use the bathroom. There were only two doors into or out of the courtyard. Setting myself up by the double doors we had entered through, I let Samil take the other smaller door. Sam and Cat dropped down by the wall and I told them to rest.
As I was walking around the courtyard, I noticed that there was several dwarf mastersmiths, more then the making of one or two swords. When I asked, one of the masters told me that admantium had not been made since the mage wars, five hundred years ago. I asked what was involved and the dwarf looked at me.
When the dwarf described how it was made, I responded that they made it too complicated. The dwarf looked at me and then asked sarcastically, “Are you a mastersmith to think that?”
I shrugged, “The making of the admantium is easy. If you want something harder it will take much longer.”
The dwarf looked at me and got a gleam in his eye, “Are you offering a wager?”
When I looked at him, he gave me a very feral grin. I looked around, “well we have a day to wait, what do you propose for the wager?”
The dwarf stuck his hand out, “I’m Garret, how about your fee.”
I laughed and then nodded, “I will need some help though.”
Garret looked around, “What do you need?”
I thought of the metals I would need. Once I had given Garret’s helper the list of metals. I went to the forge closes to my door and got it started. Garret didn’t watch me very close, I had told him that we did not have enough time for a sword so I would make a light chain instead. Mixing the metals took all day, Sam and Cat helped when they could as well as several of the other dwarfs.
I thought that they were just bored. It was the middle of the night when I was finally ready. The forge was extremely hot, I had used several metals in the fire to keep the temperatures as high as I needed them. When I was ready, I had more help then I needed as the metal was poured and pulled. I had told them everything would have to be done before the metal cooled because we would not be able to reheat it at a high enough temperature.
The links they cut and twisted were even smaller then I expected. As each link was finished it was dropped onto a metal slide which dropped it into a large tub of water. They worked at a speed that I thought was a blur. I had to step back to watch and center myself and then I stepped in, moving as they did.
At first, they were a little surprised but then they ignored me to continue with the work. When we finished a young dwarf (probable twelve or thirteen) reached into the tub, grabbing a large double handful, he brought it out and moved to a bench at the side of the courtyard.
When I looked around, I saw that all the dwarfs were awake and watching what was happening. Two more dwarfs moved to the bench and it was half an hour before they moved aside to show their work. Garret and I moved to the bench, the chain armor they were weaving wasn’t very large, only a twelve inches squire and a gold color. I knew it was time to see if I was right, I pulled my long knife and handed it to Garret.
At first Garret was more interested in the knife. Then suddenly he brought it down across the chain. The dwarfs knew the admantium blade on the knife should cut through the chain so it was a surprise when I stepped forward to pick the chain up. As I held it out to Garret to check, there was a murmur around the room, the chain wasn’t damaged. There was a laugh from across the room, “you lost.”
Garret smiled and handed the knife back to me. I managed a couple of hours of sleep before I felt Samil approach. I looked up as he was squatting down holding out a cup of coffee or what I thought of as coffee here. As I sat up and took a sip, Samil smiled, “the mage they have been waiting for will be here shortly.”
When I got up later, I saw that Cat had fished all the metal links out and had started to put them together. I smiled, “Use your spare shirt as a pattern.”
When the mage arrived, I thought at first that he was young, maybe twenty, but as I got closer I had a feeling of age about him. I stayed by the door as the room suddenly came alive. It was as if the dwarves were part of a hive and someone had hit it, the tempo kept up through the next three days. It was the dawn of the fourth day when the attack came.
I had been sitting, meditating when I felt them coming. I stood, drawing my sword as I stepped to the side of the door I guarded, “ATTACK”!”
It was a moment before the door burst open as if it had been exploded. The rush of men through the door was met by me welding my sword. I used the sword and my long knife, the only ones that passed me were the ones that fell and didn’t rise again. The first rushed right onto the sword, impaling himself.
Pulling the sword free and punching the man in the face, I spun away to block another man’s sword with the long knife, while slicing another across the throat. Reversing the sword, I blocked a descending blade as I stabbed a man through his mail shirt. I blocked a sword coming in from the side with the sword while catching another with the knife. With a thrust, I put the sword through one man’s throat while spinning and stabbing another in the temple.
The next man stumbled as he approached, he never got a chance to stand again. With a lunge I put the sword into his neck and down into the chest. Pulling the sword free, I blocked the next man’s sword and then stabbed him in the throat with my knife. The next two came together, the one on my right, I plunged the sword into his chest as he had raised his sword to strike. The other I stabbed in the groin and then with a jerk, pulled the knife up into the chest, splitting the heart.
Samil’s door had broken open as well and he was hard pressed at times. Even though Sam and Cat could not get any shots at my opponents they did have shots at Samil’s which they took. The pile of bodies in front of me had started to rise rapidly. I twisted to the side and avoided what looked and felt, like a bolt of lightning.
Putting the sword through one man’s neck, I sidestepped and reversing the long knife. I threw it in a short arc that ended in the throat of a mage standing about fifteen feet away. Taking the last two men as they were trying to make their way into the room, one by putting my sword through his heart and the other by a punch that crushed his throat.
I vaulted the bodies, coming down by the surprised face of another mage that had slipped and was trying rise. He never made it as my sword came down through his forehead. As quickly as it had started it was over. I could see Samil stepping back from the door. Looking around the hall I was in, I bent and checked both mages.
Again, I took pouches and another mythril Dagger and several rings. When I reentered the room, the dwarfs didn’t even look as if they had moved or bothered to prepare for a fight. I handed everything to Sam. It was a couple of hours before anyone showed up. It was an elf with a bandage wrapped around his arm and another around his head.
Once he saw everyone was all right, he left and brought back others to help remove the bodies. It was early evening when the dwarfs finished. The swords they had made would be escorted across the city tomorrow.
Cat had finished putting the chain together. Rather then carry the chain she put it on as we were leaving. We were almost back to Garth’s when I felt the presence. Stopping I looked around and with a cry turned and threw the slim dagger with a speed and power that many would not believe was possible.
Even as it sped to its target, Cat stumbled and fell forward. I passed her in an instant but kept going when I felt she was alive. When I reached the assassin, I found that the dagger had struck true. I was bending down when Samil came up. I took the crossbow and arrows as well as a small pouch. Standing I turned to Samil, “He looks like an elf.”
Samil shook his head, “He’s a Drow.”
At my look Samil sighed, “He is a dark elf.”
When we returned to the group, I checked Cat. She would have a large bruise on her back but besides that she was fine. The bolt she had been hit with had a Mythril tip with a greenish paste on it. I caressed her cheek, “I’m glad you were wearing the chain mail.”
All the way to Garth’s we moved with care, but nothing else happened. Once home Garth gave me a purse, “If I ever needed your services I will call.”
It was a long walk home, I carried Cat the last half of the way. At home, I carefully peeled Cat out of her clothes and gave her a mild pain reliever. After a warm bath, I put her to bed. I didn’t say anything but it worried me. The Drow had time to see his target, he had the ability to have gotten off a shot at Garth or one of the other dwarfs and instead he had picked someone that was plainly female.
Read 16458 times | Rated 96 (603 votes)
Please rate this text:
:: Comments have been disabled on this story ::