Afternoon | Szazah’s Tent and then, The Camp
The paladin had thought the irritants ended with the dwarf when along came a blind Beastkin, claiming to be a servant of Michael. It was unusual to hear such a claim from a Beastkin. There weren’t too many of them that strayed from Anomandaris, and he wondered how the Beast god felt about those who strayed from the faith. For a blind cat, she got around well, which led Reed to have to check himself. If she was a monk and could move about without guide, then she wasn’t a being to underestimate or overestimate for that matter. For the remainder of the brief, Reed kept his tolerance walls erected.
Szazah was drunk. Reed closed his eye as their leader
laid out the objectives of the mission. Shadowwald…
he mused. Hearing the mission from a drunk man made the elves sound as though they were as elusive as the unicorn. If the white stag hadn’t directed him to this location, then he would have thought the warlord was delusional from his lengthy rot in prison. His left eye opened. The man wasn’t lying—more like—Szazah believed that the Shadowwald existed, but there was no telling if he was right or wrong. They were to meet a guide. It sounded so reassuring. Szazah had saved the best news for last, informing them that the Moving Council had little faith in them.
Reed guffawed behind a smile, “Hmph!”
So they had to find the unicorn? So be it. The only other human man besides himself was first to leave. The large Capybkin followed after, surprising Reed with how he seemed to be the height of an average-sized horse even when quadrupedal. He uncrossed his legs and rose to his feet, ambling out into the pale light to watch as a young boy suddenly tackled the large Beastkin and scaled him like a tree. Reed smiled up at the creature and the boy. It was adorable seeing the two together and a breath of fresh air from the dark dank that lingered about the camp like a fog.
Out of the corner of his lone eye, Reed’s expression slowly faded behind a straight-lipped mask as he observed a man who had been watching him. The man was massive, donning iron armor and with two great battleaxes situated in rings at his hips. A thick blonde and silver beard extended from his chin in a spade. The right side of his face had a blue rune painted over it. His skull was bald but for a tuft of hair that stood straight on top of his head like the stalk of a spring onion. His hands were resting on his hips, thumbs looped about the handles of his axes and a hard scowl on his face as though he hoped Reed would notice him. However, Reed wouldn’t give him the satisfaction.
The paladin turned left and passed the barbarian as though he didn’t exist. The barbarian waited for Reed to be two tents away before he leisurely followed him, looking left and right, and casually stroking the ends of his beard. Reed returned to the horsekeeper, and the barbarian was met by another character.
Similarly, the second man was bald. His beard was brown and woven into three thick braids at his chin. There were thorns or some sort of dermal protrusions beneath his skin lining his forehead and skull in rows. His armor was a hard-boiled leather and two twin swords were at his hip. His hand slapped the solid chest wall of the Blonde Beard. The axeman grinned in greeting at him and pointed at Reed’s back as the paladin spoke with Horsekeeper Branson. “I need you to do me a favor,”
Reed told the tiger.
Branson smiled a toothy smile and crossed his arms before his chest, content to listen, “Yes, Sirrah?” “Keep 50 of the payment. In an hour, could you go to the blacksmith and pick up a hammer for me. It’s not just any hammer. It is the largest hammer there. Once you have it, could you bring my hammer and my horse to the main exit? I will meet you there,”
The tiger growled with intrigue and his thin pupils widened as he gazed passed Reed’s head to the two bald barbarians. The blonde one had his fists raised as though he were holding an object at each of its ends. He then bent the imaginary object, snapping it like a twig before the two threw back their heads in laughter. Branson’s attention returned to Reed and the tiger nodded and bowed.
“I will do this for you, Sirrah,” he agreed. The human had gone and got himself into trouble. If he didn’t survive, then his horse, his hammer, as well as his gold may all wind up in his possession. The tiger didn’t comment on it. Instead, they mutually understood each other.“You are a good Beast. May Michael shine his light on you.”
“And Anomandaris on you, Sirrah.”
Reed turned and began his stroll through the camp. He stopped by the tailor and the grocer, a priest selling icons of Michael, and even stopped to drop a coin into a poor man’s dish. He had walked the roads and the little path between the tents in a loop and a staggering pattern, and as he walked he counted—counted the men who ignorantly followed. There were six and they followed him to a tent that he stopped before. The paladin looked left and then right before he pushed aside the door flap and disappeared within.
The skinhead from before, Leouric, was with the group. A bandage was tied under his jaw and knotted on top of his head, and his cheekbone had swelled into a purple and black blister. He held up two fingers before directing them to the tent. Two of the Sons nodded and stepping out from their hidden position between two tents across the road, they briskly crossed the road on long strides and vanished inside the tent. The remaining four Sons watched as the door flap ceased swaying. They listened and heard nothing. A moment later, the two Sons exited the tent and walked back across the road to join the circle of warriors.
“He’s not there,” they informed.
“What?! We saw’im go’in, yeah!?”
“Aye, we did. But he’s not in there. We looked.”
“He tricked us!”
“Search the camp. Search every tent you can. He can’t hide long!”
The Sons scattered.The Moving
Afternoon | Camp Exit
Left to Right: Sons of Blood 1st Row Leouric; Onion Head; Horn Head; 2nd Row Old Blood; Thief Blood; and..."The Fat One" (it's actually a woman)
The gaggle of skinheads were following the horsekeeper as he led a black diremane horse equipped with a saddle and reins, and a great hammer along its right flank. They bickered among themselves:
“I swear. I tell ya that’s his horse.”
“How do you know?”
“I seen’im around it earlier.”
The group stopped and watched as the men came before what appeared to be a knight clothed in black. A sack of gold was exchanged, and hand shook paw before the horsekeeper took his leave, but he didn’t go too far. He wanted to see what sort of misfortune would befall his customer.
“Is…is that him?” one of the Sons questioned in uncertainty.
“I don’t know…I think it might be.”
Reed had two sacks with him that he tied along the left flank of Kheluz to balance the weight of Glosgnir. The paladin had not stayed like the others within the camp. He was a wild man, and the wild was where he had resided for good reason—the reason before him being a perfect one. Once the bags were tied, he brushed the horse’s nose and placed a boot within a stirrup before he jumped up to grasp the saddlehorn and saddle and swung his legs up until he was in a seated position. The Sons were stunned for a moment. Had he not been wearing a heavy armor of some sort? His horse shouldn’t have been so easy to mount. Kheluz happily trotted in a circle, venting his lingering excited energy. “Settle down,”
Reed told the stallion. He brought the randy beast under control with a pull of the reins. You!
It was Leouric and he looked pretty banged up as though someone had abused his face with a…“You’re the goat-lickin’ one-eyed bastard who hit me wit’ a rock!”
Reed kept a tight grip on Kheluz’s reins as the horse anxiously stepped about. “You remember the rock? Hm…perhaps I didn’t hit you hard enough.”
The Son’s face flushed red and immediately his hand went to a long sword at his side that he furiously yanked from its sheath. Spittle frothed at the corners of his mouth as he viciously spat, “I’m gonna kill you!” He then grinned. His eyes wide and white with craze. “I brought me brothas’. You mess wit’ one o’us. You mess wit’ us all.”
The Sons drew their weapons and raised them in the air upon bellows of cheer and bloodlust.
“Get off your damned horse!”
Reed calmly swept his eye over the group of uglies and…he wasn’t sure what exactly the fat one was. He took hold of the saddlehorn, swung his leg around, and lowered himself down from Kheluz’s towering form. With a hand resting against his horse’s shoulder, Reed walked around the beast’s front to his other side and rested two hands upon the bandaged arm of his hammer. Lifting it from its mount, he lowered the weapon to his right side, his right hand gripping it closest to the deadly end as he strode toward Leouric. He stopped ten feet from the man. His boot twisted a little into the soil, feeling it give like mush beneath it. The rain had set a treacherous trap. Too sudden a movement would put him at risk for sliding.
Leouric was eying the large hammer a little nervously. It was all show…had to be. Even if it wasn’t, it would hamper his speed. The Son’s face hardened with determination. He would be faster.
“I’m gonna cut out your otha’ eye!” Leouric threatened. “You’re going to wish you had just taken the rock. Now you must suffer my hammer.”
The Sons of Blood are stalking Reed. Reed manages to shake them at first but is forced to confront them two hours before the group is scheduled to leave.