Part 5 is here! Enjoy.
Previous: part four
Next: part six
A street away, dark eyes widened at the sight of the gold exchanged. The smith was right – plenty of gold to be found here. Now, all the trio needed was the time to strike.
They were silent, stealthy, until the red-haired pair stepped into the wrong alley. An alley that was a little too long, and a little too quiet to be safe, even during the day. Then, they struck.
Vince spun to the sound of a sword being unsheathed, reaching for his own blade.
“So,” began the tallest of the trio in a conversational tone. He was a rough-looking man with a misshapen grin and a spattering of stubble. “Y’can give us th’ gold. Or we kill you. Any questions?”
Vince almost laughed, hand on his sword, “You’ve got to be kidding me, right? I’m one of the King’s Guard, you can’t honestly be trying to rob us.”
The bandit’s grin was a little too confident and it wasn’t until he stepped forward that Reyst realised there were more coming from behind them. She spun to face two more robbers, dagger in one hand, eyes sharp. So far it was five against two.
The thugs leapt without waiting to validate Vince’s reply and Reyst raised her dagger against the wide-bladed sword that came crashing down towards her. She parried and leapt aside, barely avoiding a thrown dagger from someone else. Behind her, Vince was swinging his broadsword at the nearest person, a growl ripping from his throat. She glanced at him, but it was a wasted second and a sharp blow to the side knocked her into a nearby wall.
Dizzied, she managed to dance out of the way of another sword-sweep, moving desperately to place her back to Vince once more. An unfamiliar yell caught her attention though it wasn’t until she had spun out of the way of another sword that she caught sight of a very pale man in a dark robe. Reyst paused, surprised.
It was her final mistake of the fight. Something slammed into her head, knocking her to the ground. The world swam in front of her, dancing with brilliant white lights. In her final moments of consciousness, as she tried to rise, Reyst could have sworn she saw a great, black wolf darting across to leap at the man who had knocked her down.
Sound returned first, and it seemed that the battle continue if the shouts were to be any judge. Or so Reyst had thought until she opened her eyes and saw no immediate danger. As her vision and hearing cleared, she realised that only one voice spoke, and that it wasn’t shouting so much as growling quietly.
“I should have you dragged to the palace for that! Illegal, dangerous, and a whole lotta other nasty things I could probably list!” Vince. She would recognise his dry tone anywhere.
The second voice was harder to place, “One would think that you would be happy with the fact I saved your companion’s life.”
“Saved our- You used the forbidden magics to do it! How are you even capable!? Gypsies don’t have magic! It. Doesn’t. Happen.” Vince’s voice was rising in pitch.
His volume was enough to have Reyst groaning and raising her head, ignoring the pounding that was far worse than this morning’s ache. The bard from a few hours ago and the form of a very unimpressed Vince swam lazily into view. “Wha…?”
“You’re awake!” Leaning over her, one hand brushing a few loose strands of hair from her face, Vince surveyed her with worried eyes.
“I am glad to see you are conscious, m’lady.” Farrow added, sombrely, ignoring the glare he was cast by the guard.
“You… helped us?” Blinking slowly, allowing Vince to help her sit up, Reyst stared blearily at Farrow.
“No, he didn’t! Dark witchcraft isn’t help. Did you see the thing he summoned? A demonic wolf-creature… No, I guess you were out cold.”
“You’re a diabolist?” Queried Reyst, eyeing the bard who slunk back from her stare.
“I… I was only trying to help. I would not have revealed myself but you gave me the gold and I could not simply just stand there and watch you die. And now your friend here wishes to have me arrested.” Sighing, Farrow shook his head.
“Gods be my witness, I will take you to the palace. It’s my duty as a Guard of the King-”
Reyst interrupted him, “You helped us out? Well we’re certainly not arresting you, then.”
“What, Vince? You want to have him imprisoned for saving our hides? Some honour you guards possess….”
“No. He’s a Gypsy. They might not believe he’s even a mage.”
Scowling, Vince folded his arms across his chest-plate, “But he is and I saw it! And- wait… how are you using magic”
“It is a strange situation, but I must leave now.” Standing, Farrow began to back away.
“Oh no you don’t,” sword in hand, Vince jumped to his feet, “lives saved or not, you’re coming with me so you don’t hurt people. You… necromancing… storyteller!”
Desperately, not quite interested in the idea of being held at sword-point, Farrow turned his eyes to Reyst. Their gaze locked and held, and it was only when Farrow looked away that the woman spoke.
“Do you know the way to where you say Caevrin resides?” she asked, finally.
“What?” Frowned Farrow.
“What!?” Demanded Vince.
“I asked a simple question. Can you take us to this place or not?”
Guffawing, Vince stared at Reyst, though his sword remained pointed at Farrow. “Surely you’re not serious, cousin. He needs to be arrested not… going with us!”
“We can’t hand him over, he saved our lives. Since you’re so concerned, maybe he can come with us, that way you can do your ‘noble duty’ and keep an eye on him.” There was no room for argument in Reyst’s voice.
“Yes,” Farrow agreed, nodding. “I can help, I know where it is, just don’t turn me in to the palace. I beg of you, I don’t want to have to hurt you to get away…”
“Hurt us?” The guard snorted. “You…” he seemed suddenly to remember the wolf that helped strip the life from the five bodies in the alley around them. “Ohh… well… I… Fine. You can come with us if you show us the way. But one wrong move, magic wielder, and I swear…” He cast the mage a threatening glare at that.
Lowering his head, trying to hide a smile, Farrow nodded. “Lead on. If you will allow me to gather what little I have, I can take you through the forest. I do not know what other use you will have for me but I can guide you as safely as possible to this place. I was there not long ago… near there, anyway. When we reach it, however, I do not wish to go near the mercenaries and Caevrin. From what I have heard they are a vicious assortment.”
“What you wish is up to us from now on,” grumbled Vince, handing Reyst her misplaced dagger.
The woman glanced at Farrow. “Just don’t summon any demons or you’ll give Vince a fit. But I suggest we leave now, any more time in this town and I’ll have to drown myself in an ale barrel.”
tl;dr – When venturing through dangerous forests, it is vital to take your magic-wielder with you.