L Part Two
I crouch down, breathing hard and glance over at Wet and RP who are lying flat on the ground. I join them. After about thirty seconds Wet raises himself slowly to peek and see if the guard has looked away.
"He's not watching us anymore. Let's move over to that little dip and wait till passes. Quickly."
We run as frantically, hoping the guard won't notice us, and settle down, just in time to escape his notice. Wold looks like she is crouching to attack a prey of some sort. I look at my clothes and realize just how dirty they are. Great. More mud.
"When the guard turns around RP and I will stand up, run him down and jump him. Wold, you keep an eye out for any other guards and Racen, you can go and see if Chicory is anywhere around the house. She might be hiding and waiting for us."
We all nod confidently, but I I'm almost too scared to move a muscle. The others probably feel the same way, even if they don't show it. My nerves are tense with anticipation. This is far worse waiting for the moment when RP and Wet are going to jump out. Once they do the adrenaline will kick in and I'll be fine. It's the waiting that makes things worse.
"Now!" Wet hisses.
RP springs up from his position, not even bothering to draw Báuräc. He beats Wet to the punch, well the tackle really, and plows the guard from behind. The soldier, taken completely surprise, falls to the ground and cracks his shoulder. He clumsily draws his dagger, but Wet kicks it out of his hand. RP retrieves the dagger and tosses it away before landing the guard a nasty blow to the head with his fist.
"That's one more guard down," RP says. "The thane of this Arsham place should really give his soldiers a bit better training than this. I'm not even and experienced at fighter they still drop like flies."
"In all fairness , you did have the element of surprise and he was helpless.
"Still. . . ."
"Watch out!" Wold cries. "Someone's coming out of the house!"
RP whirls to face his opponent who held a spear in his hand and a dagger at his side with a shield in his right hand. RP ducks as the man stabs at him with his short spear. The second time he dodges, accidentally losing his balance. The guard lowers his spear at RP menacingly.
"Now the tables are turned, dwarf. What will you do now?" He spits on the ground for emphasis.
RP pauses, probably trying to think of some clever quip, but the guard jabs playfully at him, like a cat slowly pressing down on a mouse until it's crushed.
"Can't think of anything to say to that, can you?" The guard smiles with cruel pleasure.
"I'll just even the odds," he replies.
RP pulls at the guard's spear, yanking it our of his hand and pulling it into the ground. He holds it there with one of his strong arms to delay the guard. When the guard starts to pull on it, RP kicks him in the knee causing him to reel backwards, crashing into Wet. Wet topples over and the guard struggles to keep his balance.
In the meantime, RP is able to stand up and draw Báuräc. He advances toward the guard who has his feet firmly planted on they ground. The guard doesn't have a weapon to counter RP. He draws his dagger to keep Wet at bay, but it is useless in comparison to the sword.
"Really?" RP asks. "You can't even deal with me while I am on the ground and without a weapon. And now you answer me with that play thing you call a dagger?"
"I'd do better with a spear."
"Here!" RP says. "You can have it, if you want. It looks more like a javelin to me, but if you call it a spear if you like." RP tosses the spear to the guard.
The two opponents face off against each other with Wet standing by ready to help, if needed. RP waves him off, letting him know that he doesn't need any help. The guard seems to gain a measure of confidence now that he doesn't have to worry about Wet and he also has his spear back. RP seems content to let the guard make the first move, but the guard doesn't seem to want to take the first move again after being so easily caught off guard.
"Stand up to me and fight. Be aggressive," RP taunts. "You should have finished me off when you had the chance. Now you have to face me in an even fight."
The guard stabs at RP aggressively forcing RP to react by dodging out of the way. RP steps forward to threaten the hobbit's flank. When RP swings his sword the man raises his spear and curses as it snaps, threatening to crack.
"Your spear isn't going to do you much good after all, I guess." RP sneers.
The guard, clearly enraged, thrusts wildly at RP. RP swipes the spear out of the way and counters with a quick jab aimed at the torso. The guard only has minimal leather armor, but he is able to withstand RP's blade, allowing the guard time to jump back and regain his stance. The guard tries to regain some of his composure. He hesitates giving RP time to regroup.
"I'm tougher than you expected?" RP asks.
"No," the guard says. "I'm actually surprised you've held your own this long. I figured you would come out at me with a flurry of attacks."
"That can be arranged," RP says, cracking a smile.
RP feints a jab at the man's rib cage, but redirects to target the guard's legs. The hobbit agilely jumps back and maintains his balance, but before he had any tie to reacts RP swings Báuräc down on the man's spear which snaps, leaving his head defenseless.
"Your spear wasn't all that useful was it? It only delayed your doom. I could kill you right now if I wanted to, but I won't.
RP quickly slashes the guard in the leg, causing him to fall to the ground and writhe in pain. I look on in horror at the man and RP. A scream somehow comes out of my mouth.
"RP! Why did you do that." I cry. RP didn't have to do that.
"I did it four our good. Now he can't run off and tell about us."
"You could have tied him up," I protest. "He was practically defenseless. You shouldn't have hurt him when he was helpless like that.
"We don't have any rope with us."
He slashes the other guard in the leg.
"You shouldn't have don that, RP," Wet admonishes. "You're being foolish and reckless. Where is your sense of dignity." No reply.
"I can smell Chicory nearby," Wold says. "I think she is in the house."
"I will go search in there for her," I say. I want to get away from RP as fast as possible to make the visceral feeling in my stomach go away. The poor hobbit must feel far worse than I do.
I keep my eyes to the ground as I walk. Beads of sweat demand for action, but fighting with RP won't do much good.
As I walk into the house, I relax slightly and try to remain calm. I walk around the house to find out where Chicory is. I quickly eliminate all the possibilities except for the cellar
I open the creaking door of the cellar and call for her without receiving a response. There is nothing but chilling silence. I grab a lantern from the kitchen table and light it. As I descend the steps one at a time, I try to catch a glimpse of what is hiding in the pervasive darkness. All that meets my eye at the bottom is food. I wander around through the cold cellar in search for Chicory. Finally I spot something crouching fearfully in the corner. Chicory is bound and gagged. No wonder she never responded.
"Are you okay, I ask?" Chicory mutters something unintelligible.
"I will be right back with a dagger to cut those ropes for you," I say after I get the gag out of her mouth.
"Okay," she says shakily.
I run up the stairs and head out the door. When I reach the dead bodies the horror sinks in again. I grab one of the daggers from the ground and take it with me back into the house, ignoring everyone's questions.
When I arrive back in the cellar, I begin cutting Chicory's bonds, ignoring the questions being hurled at me from the top of the staircase. I am in no mood to hold a discussion.
"Is Chicory okay?" he asks.
The scum. If he really cares, he can come down and find out how she is for himself.
"Thank you, Racen," Chicory says, standing up slowly. She stoops down and rubs her knees. How long has she been kept down here?
"No problem," I reply. "Why don't you go up and take a breath of fresh air. I'll gather supplies for our journey ready. Just don't look outside. You've suffered enough trauma for one day.
"Okay. Thanks . . . I guess?" Chicory walks up the stairs slowly and is greeted by the three Typos. Meanwhile, I blunder about in the dark without any light, aside from my small lantern I manage to light. I didn't notice it when I first came down. I never quite realized how convenient it is to have to sun light up the world. It serves so many purposes, most of which we take for granted. I prefer the gentle night sky, myself, but the sun and its light are far more important, despite the squelching heat it brings.
I walk through the cellar with the lantern in one hand and a basket in the other. I throw in a loaf of bread, a few handfuls of vegetables, and four apple in for the four of us. I know it's not much, but I'm too tired to care. The rush of adrenaline has petered out and now I'm totally drained.
I walk up the stairs, taking deliberate steps, and bracing myself for conflict with RP.