Gender: Male Age: 53 Location: Las Vegas, Nv
Sin-Haree was a city of mostly tents. I went around to the far side before finding a vacant pen for the drama. As much as they had been eating lately they would probably just go to sleep. I stripped everything off and left the saddles and packs near them. I took a few stones and the small pouch of fire stones as I called them.
The whole city was merchants, in a central marketplace I showed an older merchant one of the firestones and watched as his eyes went wide before narrowing. He looked at me craftily and asked how much I wanted. I smiled as I put it away, “What it is worth noble merchant.”
He looked at me and I glanced at the other man as he shifted, “The moment you touch the drop knife, I will kill you.”
He froze as he looked at me, I looked at the merchant as he licked his lips. Before he could say anything I turned and headed towards the only solid buildings in the entire city. There were only three, one was a large building with a lot of windows. I walked through the open door and looked around.
Around the outer edge of the single large room were tables with merchants behind them. I crossed to one with a tall thin merchant. He was talking to another merchant at the next table and glanced at me when I stopped. I saw the way his eyes took everything in before he straightened, “Master, how may I help one of the sidhe.”
I looked down at his small display of gems and dropped a single fire stone. His eyes dropped and then froze, “You are very lucky to have found a swarm stone noble sidhe.”
I smiled, “I didn’t find them merchant. I cut them from the bodies I killed.”
I heard the other merchants around us but watched as the merchant on the other side of the table jerk and looked up into my face. His glance took me in once more and he finally smiled, “Quirrin.”
I nodded and he reached to pick the stone up. He spent several minutes looking at it and glanced at me, “Do you have more?”
I smiled and he grinned before starting to bargain. When I walked out it was with a promissory note for supplies that were to be delivered to my drama pen. When I approached the pen there were six tribesmen standing just outside the pen. The drama were bristling and displaying their combat stances. I walked up behind the tribesman holding a long thin blowpipe.
I let a slim stiletto drop into my hand and stabbed up into his skull. I drifted past him as I drew my two swords. I sliced across the throat of one and stabbed another through the neck. I shifted sideways as the other tribesmen began to react. I blocked a sword and took the hand with my other sword.
The last two were looking around for away out as I closed. I fainted and then knocked his sword to the side before stabbing him through the gut. The last man had turned to run as I let the other man fall with my sword still in him. I pulled a small dart and threw it, the running man only stumbled slightly as he continued to run. It didn’t matter though, he was dead, he just didn’t know it yet. I looked around as people from other pens stood watching.
I cut the one man’s throat that was still moaning about his lost hand and retrieved my weapons. I hissed to the drama and went over the bars of the pen. I moved through them checking and reassuring them. It took awhile to calm them and get them to lie down. When I climbed out of the pen there were several official looking men waiting. I bowed and one stepped forward, “You are asked to leave assassin.”
I looked at him and then smiled, “I had tribesmen trying to kill my animals and killed them. Now you want me to leave.”
He frowned but nodded, “The tribes are many.”
I looked at each of them, “When I have my supplies I will leave.”
They looked at each other and then the one I was talking to nodded. It wasn’t long before several men rushed to the edge of my pen ignoring the bodies on the ground beginning to bloat. They each had packs they set down before turning to run off. I moved to each pack and checked my supplies before saddling the drama and opening the gate.
The rocky rolling hills I headed into were called the Fartoo. The streams were small but ran clear with drinkable water. There was also a short tuff brown grass that covered everything. I saw a lot of wild goats and tall ugly looking animals that stood on two legs but had heads like goats or sheep. I stopped before it got dark and set up camp beside a small creek.
I relaxed in my half sleep while the drama sighed and settled for the night. I came fully awake at the soft shush of grass dozens of feet away. I watched as two tribesmen stalked closer in the dim moonlight. I didn’t know why they had chosen to make me their enemy but it was one mistake they would regret. When they slipped into camp the drama shifted in their sleep and they stopped moving.
I rose as quiet as smoke and drifted closer before they even knew I was there. I cut the first man’s throat as the other spun to face me. He hissed something in a language I didn’t understand and lunged with a curved sword. I turned and took a half step back before slicing his arm. I slid in as he jerked back and hissed in pain. One dagger blocked his sword as the other slid between his ribs.
I stepped back and let his body fall before kneeling and wiping my weapons clean. I saddled the drama and replaced the packs before starting off. It was a couple of hours before dawn colored the sky. The drama were growling and I smiled and hissed softly. It was only a little later that we crested another small ridge and I saw two goats eating beside a fast moving creek.
I slipped off the drama and moved closer before drawing the bow back and firing. I pulled another arrow before the first had even struck. As the first goat bleated I aimed and shot the second arrow at the other goat as it started running. It dropped to the ground with the arrow through its spine. I moved forward and knelt to cut the throat of both animals before pulling my arrows out.
I went back to the drama as they shifted and pulled their packs and saddles off. I hissed and touched the male and he rushed towards the two dead goats with the females behind him. I looked around as the drama ripped the remains apart. The huge six legged spider thing I had first encountered crossing the desert rose from a tall grassy area not far from the drama.
I stood quickly and pulled an arrow as it silently stalked towards the drama. It was only twenty paces away when my arrow struck it in the head. It spun and dropped to the ground before convulsing and screaming. The drama spun to face it hissing and then they looked towards me as I started walking. I hissed to reassure them and after a soft hiss from the male the others turned to go back to eating.
I waited until the spider creature had stopped moving and moved closer. I looked it over and glanced at the long tail. I hesitated and then cut the tail off before breaking the shell and hissing to the drama. I had barely turned when it rushed the body, I sat on the ground by the saddles and examined the tail. I smiled when I found the venom sack near the tip. I used an empty vial from my pack and carefully drained the venom into it.
When the drama were done I saddled them and started off. I continually watched around me and as I was thinking of stopping late that afternoon we came around the side of a ridge. I was looking down into a small valley with a wide fast moving creek. What drew my attention was the rock column beside the creek.
The drama hissed and I was remembering a similar rock formation before the swarm of small creatures attacked. I hung my bow as I saw them pour out of the bottom of the column. I slid off the drama and they hissed angrily as I quickly moved forward to meet the rushing swarm.
I pulled my swords and slid into the dance of blades in time to slice through the first two creatures as they reached me. After that it was a whirl of steel that spun into the ravenous beasts. I continued to kill the mindless animals until I took the head from the last one.
I looked around at the littered bodies and then at my drama. They had pulled together in a defensive fighting position and were hissing. I smiled and hissed in reassurance before walking towards them. I led them around the bodies and down to the creek before unsaddling them. I cleaned my swords and headed back to the dead. I gutted each one and found a few more of the swarm stones.
I looked at the stone column and walked towards it. Around the base were remains of many, many animals. There were also a lot of swarm remains and I picked up over two dozen stones from the ground before looking into the small opening at the base.
Around the base of the column or tower as I called it after looking inside was flowering plants that gave off a lovely scent. I collected all the flowers and buds as well as a couple of bulbs. I headed back to the drama and the wild female hissed inquiring about more food. I nodded to the bodies and she hissed happily as she started for the dead swarm. She was joined by the others before she reached the first one.
I stripped and wadded into the cold water of the creek and began washing. By the time I was done and had cleaned my clothes, the drama were back by the saddles. They had lain down content and sleepy. I made a light dinner and moved away before resting in my half sleep. I woke at the first hint of dawn and went back to the sleeping drama.
It was noon and I had stopped by a cool stream. I glanced around as the area became silent. I pulled my bow from the saddle as the drama shifted, the attack came suddenly. Six riders galloped around a nearby ridge and headed straight for me. My first arrow took the lead man in the chest and he twisted before falling under another rider’s horse.
The second took a man in the throat and he went over the back of the horse. I only had time for a third and it struck him just under the ribs. I rolled sideways, tossing the bow clear as I came up and threw two spikes.
One went into the throat of a man as he spun the horse to come back. The other went through the mouth of the man welding a spear as he galloped towards me. The third man turned the horse and tried to run but another spike struck him in the spine and he slid off his horse as it continued on without him.
I looked around and the drama hissed angrily. I hissed softly to reassure them before retrieving my weapons and the belt pouches of the six tribesmen. I cleaned everything and then swung up into the saddle. It was the next afternoon that I ran into another swarm tower. This one was larger, towering above the ridges that surrounded it.
I slipped off the drama and drew my swords as I walked closer. Like before there must be a boundary that triggered the swarm. They boiled out when I crossed it and headed towards me. This time the fight was a long one as I killed the mindless eating machines. I moved closer to the tower and as I danced, the ground I left behind was littered with blood and bodies.
It was a long time before I pulled my gory sword from the chest of a dead beast. I was splattered with blood and other things as I began the task of checking the dead or dying swarm. By the time I drew closer to the swarm tower I was already carrying three dozen of the bloody swarm stones.
The base of the tower was a huge mass of bones consisting of both animal and people, mixed in with them were thousands of swarm bones and hundreds of stones, the reddish ones I picked up. I checked the tower and then went back to lead the drama to the nearby stream. I released the drama to feed while I made camp and stripped before walking into the stream to wash.
After cleaning I headed back to the tower and the ground littered with bones and swarm stones. I spent an hour checking the stones and stopped when it started getting dark. I went back to my camp and ate a meal of dried fruit, jerked meat and a small chunk of cheese. I relaxed against my saddle and thought about the swarm towers, they almost made me think of ants.
I was up early and moving when the drama hissing grumpily. I shook my head, “It’s your own fault for eating to much.”
It was only a few hours later that I knew I was being followed. Tribesmen sat on horses on the ridge tops as I went by. As the day passed there were more of the tribesmen. That evening I made camp in a dead end valley with three cliffs around me. The tribesmen had followed and lined the entire entrance sitting on horses to watch.
Finally two rode forward as I sat eating a cold meal of cheese and dried fruit. Since they weren’t threatening I waved and they dismounted and walked closer. One looked much older with grey in his hair and beard. He looked at me with black eyes, “You have killed many of the tribe.”
I shrugged, “When you attack someone that is something you should expect.”
He smiled faintly and nodded. The other man shifted and I glanced at him, “You don’t agree?”
His eyes narrowed, “No.”
I shrugged, “Then you should find something else to do besides being a brigand.”
I looked at the other man, “Do you wish to continue your vendetta?”
He gestured to all the men behind him, “You will lose.”
I smiled faintly, “I am Quirrin. The numbers against me mean nothing.”
The old man tilted his head, “A sidhe is Quirrin?”
I waited and he turned, “Do not return to our lands clansman.”
I watched them leave and after it got dark, saddled the drama and left. I rode another two hours before making camp again. I was up early and almost as soon as we started I noticed a change. There were fewer animals and I saw a lot of skeletons littering the ground. When the swarm attacked it was sudden and at a distance from any column of stone. It was a small group of about thirty that crested a low rise and rushed towards us.
As the drama hissed and turned to face the danger, I slipped off and quickly moved forward pulling my swords. I slipped into my dance with the first slice and continued into the rushing swarm. A minute later it was over and they were dead. I relaxed and hissed at the drama to reassure them before looking around and checking each body.
I walked to the low rise but didn’t see a column nearby. In the same direction the swarm had come from I could see the very top of something. It was a distance off but I decided to head for it anyway, I led the drama after they fed lightly. We were attacked a few minutes later from the side.
Again it was a small swarm and I killed them quickly before checking them and moving on. Twice more we were attacked by smaller groups, when I crested the ridge and looked down at the tower I was amazed at its size. It was at least a hundred feet across and maybe four hundred feet high.
The swarm that rushed towards me was three times the size as the others. I realized this must be a very old swarm or hive and they had started patrolling away from their tower for more food. The bones around the towed had to be ten feet deep in places. I moved forward to meet the rushing swarm.
I slipped into my dance as I moved further away from the drama, pulling the swarm with me. It was a long time before I turned away from the last body as it dropped to the ground. I glanced at the drama before moving to check the swarm bodies to make sure none lived. I led the drama down to the water before stripping and washing myself.
The tower was so large I was able to bring the drama inside even though they hissed their displeasure. My next task was the careful check around the tower and through the bones. I picked up hundreds of stones and realized the swarm must kill and eat each other when there is no other food. I returned to the drama and led them out and swung into the saddle.
I headed away from the tower and stayed on the high ground of a ridge. We were attacked once a league away from the tower and then the area around us started showing signs of life. I took that to mean the swarm wasn’t patrolling this far from their… hive. I stopped beside a large rushing river that I couldn’t cross.
I had been thinking about the drama and knew I would have to let them go at the next city, the high pass and the cold mountains would kill them. When I started off in the morning I was headed up river. It was just before noon that I reached a high point above the river. Spanning the river was a wide rope bridge and couple of men resting beside it, they stood as I came closer.
On the far side I saw two men pick up crossbows. I dismounted and walked forward, “Good day.”
The older of the two men that faced me nodded, “A silver for each of your beasts.”
I looked at the river before pulling out a single swarm stone, “How about one of these?”
I saw the look of greed as it crossed his face and then he looked down, “I don’t give change.”
I shrugged, “I picked it up off the ground.”
He looked up at that and I tossed the stone. His hand snatched it out of the air and he nodded to the other man. He turned to hang a small white piece of cloth and then moved aside. The men on the far side relaxed and set the crossbows down as I started across. They nodded when I passed them. I continued riding on a wide trail and just over the next ridge was a small town with tall walls.
I rode in and the first thing I noticed was the pens of both drama and horses. The drama were alert and hissed as we passed them. A small bright eyed man stepped out in front of me and the male I rode hissed. The man smiled and hissed reassuringly before looking at me, “You wouldn’t consider selling the drama would you?”
I looked at him and then smiled as I sat back, “And how would I carry my packs?”
He grinned, “Well, the lookout said you came from the east and are going west, so perhaps a horse?”
I gestured, “Except I don’t have a horse.”
He gestured to an empty pen, “perhaps we can bargain?”
I thought about it and dismounted. I scratched the male behind the ear and led the way into the pen. I unsaddled the drama, setting my packs in the middle of the pen before walking out where the man waited. He smiled, “The female is pregnant.”
I nodded, “Do you drug them?”
He looked at me angrily, “No! Those stupid tribesmen do that.”
I glanced back the way I had come, “Do you head back to Sin-Haree?”
He shook his head, “I travel south to Tremolyn.”
I nodded, “Why do you need drama? This is not a large place…”
He snorted, “Miserable little merchant trap is what it is.”
I looked at him and he shrugged. “I bought another merchant’s goods. He came over Travelers Gap and lost all but two assistants.”
I was interested, “What happened at Travelers Gap?”
He looked at me and hesitated, “Wolves have infested the pass.”
I looked at him and he shrugged, “It shouldn’t be long before they leave and search for food elsewhere.”
I nodded and we turned to look at the drama. We bargained quietly as if there was no hurry. When we finished the drama were his and six young sturdy mares and a half wild stallion was mine along with the pack saddles. I watched him reassure the drama and feed them sweet meat before leading them away and knew they were going to a caring person.
The horses looked sturdy and fit as I checked them and saddled them. I pulled the stallion’s head down to look into his eyes, “I lead and you may have the mares.”
His ears flicked and then stood up. I nodded and saddled them before I led them out of their pen and down to the largest building in town, I tied them and walked inside. When I came out I had spent almost two full gold pieces. I slipped a bundle of arrows over a mares pack and placed another on mine. I secured the small pack of supplies on another horse and then swung up and turned to head out.
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