Market of Autumn (Part 3)
Location: Mid-November 3550; On the road to Felonwood, Harkania March, Cymeria
Timeline: Completed; Part 3 of 3
Oreás had just enough time to draw his sword as the attackers closed in, he did not advance on them, he let them come at him - the brigands were sure of their prey being trapped. He waited until they were only two steps away, ere he let go, allowing his human self to fade and Windrunner to come forth. There was a moment in-between, the second he could feel his muscles stretch, his entire body changing, then it was over, and a huge black wolf leaped at the middle attacker, throwing him down to tear his throat out. Oreás could hear their shouts, the shock and even more - the anger. He shifted back, just in time for them to reach him, their weapons were poised down at the wolf, his human form came back, crouched on the body of the first attacker. He ducked under the blade of the next, ramming his blade into the man’s belly, using his own momentum as he came up to yank the blade upwards, slitting the man effectively open, his scream of agony echoing out into the forest.
Oksana pushed hard against her opponent, fighting in a swift-footed agile style that allowed her to evade heavier attacks. She knew she could not last too long like that, that type of fighting took too much strength from her, but for the moment it allowed her to dictate the speed of the fight and force the brigand into the defensive. There had to be attackers on the other side of the cart, though she heard little of them.
Beside her Lynx whirled about, bringing her blade up and around, in one fell blow decapitating one of her opponents, sending the head flying across the field to bash against the cart. She did not stop, sidestepping the battle-ax of the other brigand, she let him stumble past her and rammed her blade into his side, yanking it free, as he fell with a scream. Not wasting time on the severely wounded brigand, she tackled one of the attackers that came up from behind the cart.
Oréas sword quivered as he parried the attack of the huge brigand, the man was strong and taller than Oréas himself. His fourth attacker had turned away to go after the Lady of the Hearth and Oréas had no time left. He broke his blade free, pushing the man backward, another bout of steel clashing on steel. Breaking his sword free, this time Oréas made it through the man’s cover, his sword eating deeply into the brigand’s chest. He yanked it free, the body collapsing in the mud, blood on his mouth. Oreás turned, again shifting into the wolf, racing after the fourth attacker, jumping at the man’s back, one fell bite into the neck and the man’s struggling body stilled in the mud by the roadside. Changing back was a blur, still feeling the taste of blood in his mouth.
Before him, he saw Lady Oksana take down her opponent with one swift stab while Lynx had handled the other from behind the cart.
Richard's knife slashed down and severed the rope connecting him to the cart, and he leaped down. The enemy was closing in now, and there was no time to reload his crossbow. Dropping the crossbow to the ground a brigand was on him, swinging his sword with a downward blow. Richard only just managed to slip away, and the sword lodged itself in the wood of the cart rather than his shoulder. Closing quickly Richard jammed his combat knife into the brigand's throat. Letting the handle go as the man stumbled away clutching the wound. Richard drew his sword.
Godwyn, following his friend's instructions, snatching his cloak from where it had been folded on the seat to serve as a cushion. Using that he threw it over the burning arrows to smother them. Fortunately, the cart had been slow to catch, and the fire was still relatively small. Still, the cloak was badly singed before the flames were fully extinguished and it was only his gloves that saved Godwyn's hands from a similar fate.
Richard stepped in to protect Godwyn's back as he dealt with the fire. Now though another brigand had closed in, and steel clashed on steel as Richard fought him. He was holding his own, but Slowly losing ground to the brigand swordsman.
Lynx whirled into a defensive stance after dispatching her last opponent. Her eyes sparkled with equal amounts fury and excitement. For a mere second, she hesitated. The Morrighan's mission was clear, protect the members of House Stormdanovich at all costs. In this instance, though, she felt that Oksana and Oréas could handle the last of their foes, but she wasn't quite as sure about the Traveler. Her decision was made just as fast.
She waded into the fray, giving Coyle time to catch his breath as she parried a massive stroke from the bandit. Her teeth gleamed in a feral smile, as her sword flashed forward in a vicious arc, scoring a deep gouge along the man's upper leg.
Richard had been in a rough way, losing ground to his opponent when a blur of steel intervened. Though as the brigand's attention was drawn off of Richard and onto his own wound, the traveler didn't hesitate. Swinging downwards he aimed for the man's head. The blow was unsubtle and lacked finesse, but the man's defenses were otherwise occupied, and the sword crashed into his skull, driving him to the ground in a bloody heap.
Drawing back Richard nodded to Lynx in a silent acknowledgment of what he owed her. Turning he began to search to see if any foes remained in the fight.
Oreás had turned the other way, checking for further attackers as well, there was none in sight. Closing his eyes he focused, listening to the noises around them, but there was nothing except the wind still rustling in the leaves. Now that it was all over the smell of blood and unwashed corpses hit him double strong. His human nose was entirely useless in such situations. Anew he shifted into Windrunner, running a circle around the wagon, neither sound nor smell indicated any further people in the near vicinity. Taking back to human form, Oreás turned to Lynx. "That was the last of them, no other people are close," he reported to her.
Lynx looked around for the Chatelaine, but her fear was immediately assuaged. Oksana was walking amongst the fallen, her movements wary and her sword ready. She appeared to be looking for identification. Lynx nodded to Oréas and shook her head, "Why did they attack when there was no gain in it for them? It was well known that the Lady was not escorting anything of value."
Richard had been scanning the area, straining both eyes and ears to detect any further threats. While he had found none, he paused in his efforts to outright stare at Oréas as his body melted into that of a wolf and then after a few moments sniffing the wind returned to its original shape. He opened his mouth initially to say something but then seemed to think better of it and closed it again. Giving himself a mental shake he returned his focus to the task at hand.
Lynx's question was a good one, but as Richard had no idea of the answer, he held his tongue. Instead, he retrieved his combat knife from the unfortunate bandit whose throat had served as a sheath, cleaned it briefly on a rag, and returned it to its proper place on his side. His sword got the same treatment, and then Richard took up his crossbow and set himself back on the wagon, still watching and listening for any renewed danger.
Something grasped in one of the dead men's hands was caught by the wind and fluttered. The noise pulled Lynx's attention off Oréas and her concerns about why they were attacked. She sheathed her sword and leaned over to snag a thick piece of vellum from bandit's hand and unfurled it. Her eyes widened. Drawn on the vellum was a beautifully rendered likeness of Oksana. Lynx spoke to Oréas, ordering him to run ahead to scout the way and to alert the Guard patrol that had been stationed at the farm since Samhain. That answered the why of the attack.
She caught the reins of Oréas' horse, Brawler, and secured him via a lead line to the rear of the wagon just as Oksana walked over. Lynx gestured her to the front of the wagon and passed the piece of vellum around. The Chatelaine frowned but said nothing.
"Let us make haste to Felonwood," Lynx said, catching her horse and vaulting into the saddle as Oksana mounted Auric. "We'll send a Guard contingent back to deal with the dead and request a larger escort back to Stormholm." She spurred her mount to the lead, while Oksana reined her horse in next to the wagon's team, her sword once again lay across her saddle-bow, ready for trouble.
They made the rest of the journey without incident, safely delivering the medical goods. After resting and taking the midday meal with the Lord and Lady of the Hearth, they prepared for the return journey. This time, several members of the Guard were riding escort although no further evidence of trouble had been found. Lynx did not look forward to the report she needed to make to Hawke Windwalker and the High Lord!