Cisk leaned back away from Gilgear's punch, just far enough that it just barely clipped his nose. He opened his mouth to respond when the "wayfinder" suddenly revived and interposed herself.
"I'll treat you just like I do everyone else, Squire Moldy-guts," Cisk broke in, "exactly as I have been. You don't get any special treatment on account of being dead, not so long as you're up and walking about. And what's more, she's right. Now, what's a motley bunch like you doing in Halantown? Not much out this way but the Isova border."
Da**, no fight today. Ah well.
Ril pushed himself up, standing as easily as he had sat, and spoke to reply to the soldier's question: "Actually, we were just gathering ourselves to leave. We're off to explore other lands in search of a particular object, if you will, said object being worth quite a bit to a certain monarch; I'm surprised this town hasn't had more visitors of late.
"All the same, if we don't get started soon we'll probably be caught by nightfall or some storm, or other bad luck for tardy travelers. So I propose we move on, then, aye?" (He posed the last question to the loose group of his companions specifically).
"Yes! That's an excellent idea! Let's get on our way." Grateful that the Captain reminded them all it was well past due to get moving, Bria rolled out her map again to get their barrings. Halantown was right... here. Once they left the boundaries of the town they'd be headed through a rather thick expanse of forest before coming across a few of the locations circled specifically on the map.
Already starting to walk in the proper direction while still holding the map, Bria was leading the way!
"Of course,"We've wasted enough time as it is Annalily responded promptly, taking a final look around before following Bria. She noted the eager strides the woman was now taking, the confident hold on the map & Analilly wondered what had changed. The pale girl changed waywardly at the map, surprised to see the imagery of forests ahead. She looked forward at the horizon, frowning slightly. She hated dark, dreary places. And forests seemed like fate's favourite method to scare her way.
She clenched and unclenched her fists quickly and matched Bria's stride with silent agreement. She wasn't going to get scared just because they were headed for a huge forest outgrowth ahead.
And so, the brave adventurers left town with little discussion beyond a few glares, curious stares, and the occasional mutterings of their peculiar guide!
Some time later, they were a good way in to the forests. Here, the trees were so thick that it blocked out most of the sun from the sky. The path itself looked as if it hadn't been used in years. Overgrown with small shrubs and bushes along the edges of the road.
Bria's previous confidence in the foolproofness of her plan was slowly slipping. The path marking on the map was unmistakable. It had to be the right way. But where exactly they were going, she wasn't too sure. Was this going to a military stop or a shortcut to another town? Worse, the noises in the forest were strange to her ears! There was the usual shatter of birds, or the rustling of small animals. But sometimes there was an odd... Well, she didn't know if she could categorize it as a growl or a howl! All she knew was that it disturbed her, and the quicker they got out of this forest - the better!
Except, with a sudden scream as the road gave way from underneath her, Bria found her unceremoniously plopped in to a rather deep hole. That hurt! Who puts random holes in the middle of roads?! She blinked up owlishly at the opening some feet above her.
The sky had been darkening the last few hours as clouds gathered, but they chose now to open up with a steadily increasing drizzle.
Cisk sighed and walked to the edge of the pit, where he squatted and looked down at Bria. "What kind of wayfinder," he drawled as water began to roll off his armor, "doesn't know to avoid a slavers' pit, hmm? Let me see that map." He picked the map up from where she'd dropped it when she fell and examined it for a moment. Then he handed it down to her. "Is there a reason you have us following a bandit trail?"
He stiffened at a soft sound behind him, nearly masked by the falling rain, and spun, catching the bandit who'd been trying to sneak up on him under the chin with a wicked uppercut that sent the man flying. As he reached for his sword, more bandits started pouring out of the woods - this wan't going to be easy! As the bandits swarmed him and he set about smashing faces with his shield and hacking with his sword, he began to sing.
"Right proudly high o'er Halantown, they hung the flag of war...for it's better to die 'neath a Callian sky than at Athis or Mir-el-bar!"**
**Sung to the tune of "Foggy Dew," as preformed by the Dubliners, and adapted from the same song
Bandit trail? Who would want a bandit trail on a map? "Hey, aren't you going to get me out!" Bria tucked the map away, being slightly miffed about the sudden sprinkling of rain. It was turning the dirty ditch in a muddy one and quickly filling up with water. She didn't seem to get an answer though, there were sounds of a struggle and... singing?!
Hopping up and down, she tried to get a grip on the edge of the pit to pull herself out. After some messy slipping, someone tossed a rope down to her. "Finally!" Bria grabbed the rope, having a struggle to hold on as she was pulled up and out of the ditch. Finding herself covered in mud, Bria was all too surprised to find it was a complete stranger that had pulled her out.
"Who are yo-UH!" All the breath was knocked out of her when she found herself unceremoniously thrown over a shoulder. With her upside down view of some man's rear end as he took off in to the woods, she couldn't see the bandit scuffle they were leaving behind!
There is something extraordinarily messy about all this, thought Ril as one of the bandits came close to him. He waited for the man to swing his club (which, Ril noticed, had a particularly rotten bit of wood near the handle, where it was thin), and then drew his right sword, easily cutting it off and dodging the falling upper half in one movement. He drew the other sword, swinging it around as he moved to a position beside his opponent and facing the same direction, slamming it into his back and combining with the motion of the original attack to bring him down for the count. He then swung the flat of his right blade hard onto the back of the bandit's head so he wouldn't get up anytime soon.
Another one was coming toward him, and Ril was about to say something witty and go on when one of his finely-tuned ears picked up their navigator's words. He inferred someone was helping her out of the pit that really shouldn't be, and during this time his new opponent had begun his own assault, a blind hammering-down of his large, flat, double-edged sword. Did I get the idiots of the bunch? What do they take me for? Ril sidestepped the assault and, deeming a little bloodletting necessary, swung his sword at the man's near arm, creating a deep cut that would make it difficult to hold such a large sword.
"Sorry, got to run," he said, and immediately acted on his stated intent--running straight past a few other allies and foes who were busy with one another to the man carrying Bria. Ril took a hard back-blade swing at the shoulder that she did not presently occupy, hoping to get his attention.
Gilgear, who had been brooding in silence since the previous incident, was startled as several arrows collided with his face. It was not a pleasant sensation. He turned and looked towards the bandit archers in question, giving them a helmeted glare. Said archers, startled by his appearance (and that he wasn't dead from the attack), turned and fled.
He sighed, looking down at a bandit-spear thrust unceremoniously through his ribcage. Snapping the front off of it and turning, breaking the other part off while it was still in the bandit's hand - not even bothering to unleash his blade, he instead offered the bandit a helmeted head-but. It had the same effect - the man dropping unconscious.
Growling in distaste, he turned to look at the bandits, letting out a roar. He ran to the part of the field where Bria had been kidnapped, and Ril ran after her - Gilgear was not fast enough to catch up and aid him, but he could make sure there were few bandit reinforcements. Throwing his helmet off and bringing out sword and shield - flesh stretching over his exposed teeth in a gristly display meant to frighten off a few bandits - or better yet, AWAY from where he was standing. In any case, few would be likely to come towards the undead man - to follow and aid the abductor or to continue fighting.
"Bandits?!" Of all things to get stuck in the woods with, this was the last thing Annalilly wanted to be faced with. She bit her lip, stepping back for a second to survey the group. Her companions seemed to be doing quite well in combat, except for poor Bria, who'd been thrown onto a shoulder and carried away, but Ril and Gilgear were taking care of that bold bandit, Anna could see.
Waving two fingers through the air, Annalilly closed her eyes & took a deep breath. As she exhaled, a rush of air stirred up, circling a small group of the bandits. It created a sort of wind bubble surrounding them. As they were momentarily confused, Annalilly closed her palm tightly. Along the inner edges of the wind circle, a fire erupted, burning the bandits inside to a crisp. When she could no longer feel their energies, Annalilly dissipated both elements.
Just as she was about to turn around, a rather large, burly bandit aimed to swing his club at her head. just because I'm short, huh? She thought, slightly irritated by people who underestimated her. She twirled her palm in a circular motion, creating a ball of water & then clapped her palms together and pulled them apart in one, quick motion. The water turned to ice, forming pointed arrows of ice that went straight into piercing the bandit who'd tried to attack her.
Annalilly was annoyed. Who said fighting bandits was part of their job ?
"I demand that you put me down! Right this instance..!" Bria's orders were ignored, obviously. It wasn't until she briefly saw someone's feet that her wish came true - though not in the way she had hoped!
Getting smashed in the shoulder, the bandit had tripped and lost his footing. Bria hit the ground first as he dropped her weight, and fell half on top of her. A pained shout slipped from her at the impact, earning a nasty scrape on her arm from the rocks and gravel in the grass. But, just as quickly as they had fallen, the now-startled bandit was yanking her up to her feet and holding her tightly in front of him as a shield before the warrior could advance!
Bria was undeniably confused, and then quite scared when she could feel the end of something sharp and pointy pressing against her skin under her chin. The bandit himself seemed at a loss for what to do. None of his companions were running out to help him - the undead man was scaring most of them off!
Cisk heard their wayfinder being hauled out of the pit - and the aftermath - but he found himself rather preoccupied. The bandits were attacking in force, and since most of the group was busy avoiding the fight or getting kidnapped, it seemed to fall to him to ensure that the bandits wound up dead. Her Ladyship would just have to wait.
Which he did. With frightening effectiveness. He soon fell into a quick rhythm - edgewise shield strike-downward diagonal slash-twist-return strike and follow through-momentum strike-reverse grip-reverse thrust-blade sweep-reverse grip-upward pendulum slash-twist pivot and momentum strike-downward slash-shield bash-thrust-twist-recover....
And then the majority of the bandits were fleeing or dead. He slammed his shield edgewise at a straggler's head, impaling the man's face on the shield's dull point, as he turned and began stalking towards the wayfinder and her captor. The rain was slowly washing the blood spatters off his armor, shield, and sword, but that only made the effect that much more threatening as he spoke to the bandit holding her!
"You can kill her, but then you'll just die slowly."
Gilgear, however, was attacking non-lethally against the minority of bandits that were left. He attacked with the flat of his blade, shield-bashing and kicking bandits into unconsciousness. This happened for a good few moments until the bandits decided to quit coming forward, most of them fleeing - those bandits that came forth to drag away the bodies of the unconscious were unharmed.
The honorable knight accepted his helmet back from an apologetic-looking bandit, who bowed gratefully and sped off. "And thaaat is... how they say... thaaat." He rumbles, turning and shambling off to where Bria had been taken, crashing through the foliage and appearing from another point, surrounding the lone kidnapper. He did not raise his blade, but stood there dispassionately, eyeing the area - and moving to better surround the bandit. "Do not act raaaashly." The undead man addresses the bandit.
There wasn't a single bandit left. The whole lot of them that hadn't been killed were running off. Leaving only the one, lone, and now feeling VERY awkward bandit pointing a knife to the wayfinder's throat. Had the first large warrior not been intimidating enough, the second with blood running down his shield made it worse, topped by the undead who looked so gruesome it was like death was standing there waiting.
Without hesitation, he shoved his captive forward and took off running for the tree behind them!
Bria had tried to catch herself upright, but ended up with a tumble to her knees in the mud. Glancing over her shoulder at the man running away, her head was still whirling and trying to organize everything that just happened!
"Does this... um... happen a lot?" she asked, and realizing that might sound odd for a map maker, quickly rephrased. "I meant, to the lot of you. When you travel..!"
Annalilly tried to help Bria to her feet by tugging her arms upwards. She had quite a solemn look on her face. She glanced at Ril momentarily, "She's probably just tired. And a lot of these trails look about the same to me, too. I'm sure she's just as surprised as you are." She replied quickly, in place of Bria. She didn't know what possessed her to do it, but for some reason, something about Bria's personality didn't quite click into the function of being a mapmaker. Still, Lily felt an undeniable desire to defend her.
She looked at Ril quietly. She only wished he wouldn't press Bria for an answer. Annalilly wasn't quite sure Bria would retort with something that would lessen her 'mapmaker' qualities, but she had felt pressured to say something anyway.
Eeek. Bria wasn't sure how to respond to the Captain, her entire story seemed to have been blown by one silly mistake, but thankfully the young mage came to her rescue! As Annalilly helped her to feet, Bria was trying to swat the mud off her clothes, so very grateful that the girl had provided the perfect excuse.
"I am a little tired. I just missed it is all. Clearly, anyone with sense would have seen that trap and avoided it." ...Bria made a mental note to watch where she was stepping from now on. Apparently trap holes being dug on roads was a common occurrence. That was dangerous! Were bandits really running so wild through the country that they could claim whole roads to ambush travelers?
"The rain is getting worse, maybe we should find shelter for the evening. Don't you think?"
Gilgear nods solemnly. "Ooooof course... I will see... if any of the baaandiiiits left behind something we could uuuuuse... if noooot, I will return with wood for the fiiiire... It's noooot safe to camp without a fiiiire... with all the animaaals..." He bows out, turning. He had known for several days since his death that he no longer slept, but since his traveling partners did, he'd have to wait and do other things. At least he could be useful as a watchman.
...As long as he didn't feast on their succulent brains.
Shaking the thought of, he enters the area where the bandits had fought against them. He stood still and looked about for a bit, before sighing... He'd begin to move to each bandit in turn, rummaging through pockets for coins... and after he had gotten a few, he went through the motions to put the corpses of the fallen into more peaceful positions, placing a coin in each of their mouths - so they could pay the boatman, and not return as restless spirits...
He sighs once in a while as he goes about this dirty work.
Cisk wasn't having any of Analilly's trying to excuse the wayfinder's inadequacy. "Being tired is no excuse for not being able to read a map. Or perhaps you just can't read my handrwiting," he drawled, " 'Bria.' "
He sighed. "Moldy-guts's right. We can either make camp here - a less than perfect solution, admittedly, or we can try to co-opt the bandit camp. We should keep going, but I expect our 'wayfinder's' poor widdle feet hurt."
Animals...? What kind of animals? Bria leaned to take a look where Gilgear was running off to, seeing a few fallen bandits in the near distance. Were they dead? Cisk's commentary had her mind switching gears though, and before she could consider what he meant by his handwriting, she found herself insulted and angry.
"If you think it's best that we continue on, then we should do so. I am not so tired that I can't continue, I was simply thinking that the rain might make it difficult to travel, and frankly being well rested is good for all of us, especially after conquering a band of thieves!" Bria had to stop and take a deep breath, having rambled all of it out in one quick flurry.
"And if you DO deem resting appropriate, I think taking over the bandits camp is a brilliant idea." Mostly, because only just now she was realizing those bandits were dead. The rain had washed away most signs of blood, but those bodies weren't going anywhere as Gilgear moved him. Bria was having terrible images of them all rising up as undead minions or worse, attracting large scary looking animals that wouldn't be able to tell the difference between a dead person and a sleeping one. Camping elsewhere was a good idea!