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A Battle in the Cold

Posted on Tue Dec 13th, 2016 @ 3:50am by Tristan Arrius & Aereth Archive & Echo of Valandhir
Edited on on Tue Dec 13th, 2016 @ 3:51am

Chapter: The Hornbook
Location: Haven, Aereth
Timeline: February 3551

With her back to the bark of the tree, Iris fought. Two of the Templars had closed in on her. Her small stature might allow her to dodge some of their attacks, while she blocked others with her blades, but with every moment that passed she felt her strength wane, her arms ached and a new hit of the heavy broadsword slid along her blade, and crushed the guard, leaving a gory mark on her hand. Iris pushed against the man, her own blade injuring his arm, as she ducked another attack of the second. Why the third was not joining, she could only guess, maybe he expected black magic from her, but more likely he waited with his crossbow, to shoot her, should she shift and fly away. She wished she had some of that dreaded black magic to throw at them, all that she had was the rage… from far away, further than she could ever name, she heard the drum, the slow, angry rolling of the battle drum, calling out to her, echoing her own heartbeat.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Tristan had followed the sounds of battle to the scene of what appeared to be a very unfair fight. Three large men, all on horseback, and heavily armed had cornered a woman. She was small in stature, but a fierce warrior from what he could see. Her strength was beginning to fail her, but she was giving it all that she had. From the cover of the tree line he surveyed each man; his eagle eyes taking in every detail of their costumes and weaponry. As two of the men attacked the woman their companion remained on his horse with his crossbow at the ready. Well, that seemed a bit unfair to Tristan. Time to even the field a bit.

Slowly, Tristan drew his own bow, reaching over his shoulder to draw an arrow from his quiver, his eyes remained focused on the horseman. He knocked the arrow and raised it toward his target, his eyes shifted to the battle on the ground briefly. The woman was injured but had drawn her own blood, which only served to anger her opponents even more. Time was getting short. He shifted his gaze to the horseman again and drew back. With small movements of his fingers he released the string and his arrow flew straight and true… right into the horseman’s neck with the point protruding from the other side. The surprise of the lethal injury caused the man to squeeze the trigger of the crossbow and sent a dart through the air which buried itself in the bark of the tree just above the woman’s head.

Tristan heeled his mount and the horse galloped forward into the fray. Drawing his broadsword he clashed with the second opponent. He and the woman exchanged a quick glance as the Templar knight turned his total attention on Tristan. Their swords clashed a few times before Tristan half fell/half flew from his saddle to land solidly on his feet. He gripped his sword with both hands and narrowed his eyes, peering through the disheveled braids that hung in his face.

The two men charged each other and the metal clanged in the frozen air. The winds were picking up, causing the fresh snow to cascade from the tall pines above them causing a near white out condition as the third man turned away from the woman to help his partner with the unknown man who dared to interfere with Templar business.

Tristan spun and ducked and blocked their mighty swords with little effort. He’d trained for such battle his entire life. His long coat flared out as he turned and spun around never missing a beat. He blocked his opponents’ onslaught like a true Aquilonian soldier.

One of the Templars ceased his part in the fight, leaving his partner to keep Tristan’s focus as he ran to his horse. He grabbed his crossbow from his saddle and drew back the cable to arm it. Tristan glanced over to see where the second man had gone and when he saw him, Tris let out a shrill whistle and his war horse answered the call. The large grey horse galloped past the two men fighting on foot and ran into and over the other. On the ground, the man tried to fend off the trampling steed with his sword which only angered the large grey. The horse reared up and came down on the knight. Rearing up again, his sharp hooves came down on the man’s chest and head not once, not twice but three times. Once the man stopped moving and was no longer a threat the great grey mount walked over to stand in front of the injured woman, like a great wall between her and the men trying to do her harm.

Iris stumbled, almost collapsing against the huge horse that shielded her against the attackers. Her breath was going ragged and her world had narrowed down to fighting, she had almost attacked the horse, ere realizing that it was with her surprising help. In one tired moment, when the stranger had appeared on the battlefield she had believed seeing her own father appearing from the snow to aid her, coming back from the storms like he had never fallen to the charge on Stonehold Heights. Only now as her senses cleared she realized what nonsense that was. Another warrior had joined her in the fight, though she did not know who he was. Could the guard of the hills have strayed this far out? She did not know.

The remaining Templar was on the other side of the horse, Iris slipped under the huge steed’s belly, crouching under the horse and then attacking the Templar from below, the man was already wounded and stumbled with her blade in the leg. The moment he came down to his knees, Iris rammed her second blade into his throat. Hastily she looked around - an eerie silence had fallen on the snowy field, only the huffing of the horse disputed the icy air. The Templars were dead, the stranger had killed the others, none of the Aquitanians had made it out of the cold woods. With luck it would take days before anyone realized that they would never return from the cold.

Slowly Iris looked around, her eyes taking the stranger in, who had come to her aid. The way he fought screamed Aquilone at her, he must be a Legionaire but why in the name of the good mother had he helped her then? She pulled herself up, careful to not put any weight on her leg. “Are you injured?” she asked him, speaking Letanum. She was not fully fluent in the tongue of the Aquilonian Empire, but spoke it well enough to converse.

Tristan was bringing his sword around for another blow when the woman skirted beneath his horse to take down the last man. He paused to allow her to finish her fight on her own, but stood ready to assist as she had been injured. He watched as she came in low and imbedded a blade in the man’s leg. His silver eyes followed the action as the Templar fell to his knees and looked up at the woman just as she buried a second dagger into his throat. He watched the man keel over dead and then simply raised his eyes to the woman. They listened to the spirited breaths of his steed in the sudden silence and then she spoke.
Intro post is an excerpt from A Hunt in the Cold; written by: Woof and Echo of Valandhir.


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