Kingmaker

The Stolen Lands 4

Raid on Oleg's: Part Deux

Morning came all too early for Eein MacGarth as he slept in the guests room at Oleg’s. Some complained within the company of mercenaries when Eein had claimed the last vacant bed. “Fuck that” he had exclaimed at the notion of anyone else using it, for he was a noble, and not going to sleep on the ground outside. At least not if it could be helped, and in this case, it could. Even if it meant sharing a room with a few others he had only met the night prior. Not wanting a fight or to tempt fate, his compatriots had just let the matter go.

A long days travel through the seemingly endless plains of the northern greenbelt, a night spent of merriment and feasting, even getting to see his childhood friend and fellow noble of house Medvyed, Aegin dePayens,of which he was most excited.

Then the dreams. Increasingly dark and morbid were his dreams of late. Usually vivid depictions of himself committing murder or some heinous act. Things he would never otherwise contemplate doing in his waking life. But his dreams were becoming increasingly detached from who he was. It was as if he could only gaze upon a dark reflection of himself. In his heart he would fight as though through a sliver of consciousness, pray to any ancestor to give him strength to stray from his course, but much as a puppet can’t fight the strings of its master, a shadow of a thought would always push him forward. “A curse” he would think to himself after a sleepless night. “A persistent and vile black magic” he would muse. Knowing full well that the notion was equal parts humorous and incredibly unlikely. Trying to lighten the otherwise grim tidings of his dreams, and alleviate his mood on the matter. Only this time it felt truly hopeless to tell himself it. For in his most recent dream, the victim was unmistakably someone he had just met.. Slightly awake, he stirred in his bed as he quietly mouthed a prayer to his ancestors, hoping for a moments respite. But before sleep could find him, commotion had struck.

“Wake up darlin!” a low guttural voice whispered. “Riders on the southern approach” it continued.

Eeins eyes shot open and before him on the opposite side of the room was Konall The Fearsome astride Aevys. Shaking her. “Not the smoothest of people” Eein thought to himself. But he had liked Konall, even jested with and perpetuated the notion that it was reciprocated affection that Aevys was feeling towards him. That she was merely playing hard to get. The notion of which only seemed to swell Konalls already enormous pride. Eein smiled at the scene playing out before him even though he knew it came with even more grim tidings.

“Wake your friends, and meet me on the ramparts.” Konall said sternly, and then swiftly made his way out of the room. Bounding from the bed to the door, almost too quietly to be believed for someone his size.

Eein had heard enough to not need waking. His dreams wouldn’t allow sleep right now anyways he thought as he got up out of his bed. Donning pieces of his armor as best he could, and asking Aegin for help on the pieces he couldn’t.

“Honey Black” he thought as he gleefully pulled his sword partially from its sheath. Taking a quick moment to examine it’s blade. A lustrous black blade it was, much akin to obsidian in look, but it felt colder than any ice he had ever known. Even in the depths of the worst winters at Stoneclimb. Yet it seemed as hard as steel and deceptively light for its massive size. It had been his twelfth birthday present. A family heirloom as he had understood it. All he knew for certain is it would likely see its first real use today, or at least since he had come to own it. Eein had sparred many times, but using mostly just practice swords. Usually the biggest ones he could find. “This will be my first time in real combat” he thought to himself as slid the sword into its sheath again. “Perhaps even killing someone.”A morbid prospect he knew, but one he felt strangely comfortable with. He had never killed before, but for some reason the thought of it didn’t unnerve him. In fact, he felt a bit of solace from the idea that anyone who might die today, would likely deserve it. A vast improvement from the killing he had come to know from his dreams. “Oh Honey Black.I can’t help but wonder how many lives you have claimed.” he briefly pondered with a faint smile.

He slid the sword around his shoulder and moved to join his companions as they filtered out into the courtyard. It was alive with movement to say the least. Though the mercenary company only numbered 5, counting himself, they had totaled 11 after counting everyone. “The help” Aegin had called them. Eein paid it little mind though, “green adventurers” he thought, but they seem friendly enough.

The rest were busy moving assorted supplies to the southern gate. Upon which a quick glimpse revealed Konall and Aevys astride the southern palisade walls, bows in hand. “I count nine!” Konall shouted. “All on horseback, and they’ll be upon us shortly!”

“Any banners?” Shouted Kesten, hoping that it was perchance a lost envoy of some kind returning from the Greenbelt, a prospect that they all knew would be incredibly unlikely.

“Nay!” Konall shouted. " Not a one." As he pulled an notched an arrow from his quiver.

As Eein looked around he had noticed that the sentiment of an imminent fight had been contagious. Weapons had appeared wherever there had been a free hand throughout the meager fort. Kesten Garess had seemed to be busy barking out orders at that point, but Eein felt little concern. All the voices and the hurried movements seemed muddled and distant. Perhaps it was his nerves, his senses being overloaded with a mix of anticipation and fear, but he didn’t think it was fear. It felt like something else.

A firm clasp on the shoulder had interrupted his thoughts. He turned to see Aegin dePayens, and gave him a faint smile.

“Come friend, you wont do much good in the middle of this courtyard with that giant sword of yours.” Aegin said with a faint smirk. “You should mount up. Perhaps we’ll have to attempt to sally.”

“I was counting on it.” Eein replied with a light chuckle. “Though I think I’ll stick to fighting from my own two feet.” A bold sentiment he knew, maybe a little too bold, but he didn’t care.

The next few minutes seemed to pass by in a blur for Eein, as he made his way over to the gate.His compatriots had assumed various positions around the meager face of the southern palisade walls. Honey Black had found its way into his hands suddenly. He was certain he drew it, but with the swelling of adrenaline, he couldn’t rightly remember the act.

Then Quiet.

The lull before the storm he knew. The shared feeling of anticipation almost seemed to permeate the air around him, as the unmistakeable thud of hoof beats grew louder and louder. Then Silence. He felt his grip tightening and tightening on the handle of Honey Black.

“Fools!” a voice rang out from the other side of the gate, shattering the brief silence. “This is the price you pay for defying the Stag Lord!”

Suddenly the sounds of shattering of glass, and thudding and twangs of exchanging volleys of arrows.

Then, a voice. Kesten, he instantly recognized, from atop the palisade walls. “Fire!” it shouted, “On the walls.”

As Eein looked up briefly to address the sudden commotion, one of the mercenaries sailed passed him from atop the walls and hit the ground with a thud. Arrow sticking from his neck. “Poor sod” Eein thought, worse still, he couldn’t even remember the guys name.

“Put it out men,” Kesten continued. “Eein, Aegin, cover them!”

Eein didn’t need to hear anymore. As fast as the board barring the gate had been moved, His hand grasped at the handle to the gate, and flung it open with an almost violent force.

Then he was running. Almost too fast to be believed for someone clad head to toe in crimson and black enameled plate. Straight to the closest of the riders. Poor guy barely had time enough to draw his sword, And it did little and less to deflect the angled chop from Honey Black. His greatsword connected with such massive force that it turned his blade aside, chopped almost clean through him, and dismounted him in a single blow.

The other riders had taken note, and some had even drawn melee weapons and moved to engage. Charging furiously to avenge their fallen comrade.

Eein had found himself quickly on the defensive, trying his best to turn aside and deflect blows with his massive greatsword, as some the riders were attempting to harry him.

Then suddenly a loud pang, as his shoulder shot back. His plate had deflected it, but he had understood it was an arrow. On the far side of clearing, he could see one of the bandits had taken aim. Happs he realized. He fit the description of their leader, worse still, he had seemed to be quite good with his bow.

His confidence was slowly giving way as he found himself struggling to stave off the increasing ferocity of their blows. Trying to find a window to turn the tide amidst the arrows sailing overhead, and the methodical dancing of blades.

His sudden concern disappeared almost as quickly though. For his greatsword had found yet another victim in the riders trying to harass him. A violent explosion of gore as another solid shot from Honey Black had nearly clove the rider in two. The riders encircling him seemed to scatter. Between the few slain in melee, and the constant pressure from the archers atop the walls, the fight was starting to taper off. Trying to capitalize on the brief swing in momentum, he turned to address the seemingly skilled archer.

But much to Eeins surprise, Happs was missing an arm, and already in mid retreat. Aegin astride Marango had found his way to him amidst the flurry of combat, and landed a solid blow with his longsword. “Ah good, I’ll have to thank Aegin for that later” he thought. "shame though, looks like he will get away.

“I got it!” a voice rang out.

Eein turned to see one of the adventurers he had met the night before, astride the palisade walls, bow in hand. “The drunkard one” he thought. Remembering that he seemed more than eager to jump at every chance for wine throughout the night. “Impossible he thought briefly. At that range…”

Andorin loosed a single shot. With a high arc and a long flight time, Eein could barely believe it as it crashed into the back of one armed bandit, sending him rolling violently, lifelessly in the dirt as it dismounted him from his horse.

“I’ll be damned Eein thought.” “The help.” Aegin had called them. A somewhat disrespectful moniker to be sure, but “helpful indeed”, Eein thought.

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JamesThorne

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