order of business was to find out just how many of the Ceyah there were. The
second was to attempt to find others in the village to help us in our plans.
With a popular uprising, there would be no way for the Ceyah to hold onto
The first proved to be fairly simple. Led
by a commander named Dargaard, many of the Ceyah mercenaries were notorious
drunks. Careful questions during oneís drunken bout informed us that there
were about two dozen mercenaries, and thankfully none of the undead horrors
from my nightmares. Still, even two dozen seemed a bit much, considering our
village numbered no more than fifty people.
Unfortunately, in all our careful
searching, we found none who would actively aid us except the local
blacksmith, and even his help was limited. He did fashion real weapons for
Jace and I, but would not help with the fighting. Neither would anyone else
in the village, though we knew that most, if not all of the townsfolk
hated the Ceyah occupation.
Our former lords, the Council, had turned a
blind eye to our conquest, which caused us to hate them nearly as much as
the Ceyah. With little help from the inside, and none from the outside, we
could not survive a straight up fight with the mercenaries. I took well to
the planning of our attack, and happen to think I did a pretty good job, all
things considered. An innocent looking reconnaissance showed us that there
were two guards posted at all times at their barracks, one at the front
door, and one at the back. I decided that Kate would take out the guard in
front, and have Jace take that guardís position to hopefully avoid the
suspicion that an absent guard would bring. Kate would then take down the
guard in back, though there was no need for me to stay there in his place,
since if you made it to the back of the building, you were standing next to
the door already, and anyone would be able to tell I didnít belong there
from that close.
With no need for me at the back except to
move the body, Ray and I would head into the barracks and put it to the
torch, hoping that the smoke and fire would confuse the newly awoken
mercenaries (they would be sleeping when we started the fire, but surely
most would wake up soon after) and that we could dispatch them easily as
they ran out the exits hoping to find safety. This plan would leave only the
half-dozen guards that were on patrol in the middle of the night, as we
would attack just a few hours before dawn. The timing of the attack would
ensure that many of the guards had hangovers, and that others would be
exhausted because they had just gone to bed a few hours before.
We put the plan into action the next
morning, roughly two hours or so before dawn. We wore grey hunting leathers
in the absence of real armor, the leather would at least slow most weapons
and cushion the blows. After a short buzzing sound, the front guard fell
without even a grunt, a feathered shaft quivering in his chest. Jace quickly
ran up and moved the body off to the side of the building, behind some
crates, and appropriated the guardís position at the door.
After watching that even, I ran around the
building just in time to see the rear guard crumple to the ground, spitted
on one of Kateís arrows. I quickly hid the corpse behind some bushes and Ray
and I slowly crept inside.
With the first part of the plan having gone
off without a hitch, I suppose what happened next was deserved. We were not
halfway through the door into the main barracks room when we were confronted
by Dargaard himself, who was an early riser. His look of shock evaporated
with a thump as my mace came up and hit him square over his heart. Though I
was sure he would not survive, his scream could be heard across the village.
I shouted for Jace to come in, and then dove into the midst of the dozen or
so sleepy mercenaries. The first three I struck, crushing flesh and bone,
were not even armed. The rest however, had used those precious seconds to
find their weapons and arm themselves. Knowing I was hopelessly outnumbered,
I began to back off while parrying attacks. Relief shot through me as I saw
Jace burst into the room. By the time they realized he was there, he had
already cut two down from behind, leaving the other seven sandwiched between
us. They did not seem too worried though, and split into groups of three and
four, with the larger heading for Jace. Their mistake. I fought through my
three like lightning, parrying the first blow and crushing the manís side.
After dodging the next attack I struck another man full in the face with a
left-handed roundhouse, and used my momentum to spin around and give my next
blow that much more strength. That blow from my mace struck the third man in
the head, crushing his skull like an eggshell and dropping him to the
All of a sudden, a searing pain in my side
erupted, causing me to drop my weapon and fall to the ground. The merc Iíd
punched was not as disabled as Iíd thought, and had stabbed me right in the
side. I didnít think anything vital had been hit, but I didnít really have
time to worry about it either. The merc was coming to finish me off. Though
I stayed silent, I made a big show of holding my side and rolling around.
When he came to spit me on his blade, I lashed out with both of my legs,
catching him solidly in the knee. Though Iím sure his knee snapped, I am
equally sure that the blow from Rayís staff to the mercís head is what
By the time I finally got up, I realized
the fight was over. Jace had gotten two of the mercenaries before Ray showed
up, and as soon as Ray got there she ambushed another. As the two squared
off against each other, Jace dispatched his final enemy and he and Ray
overwhelmed her opponent, putting him down with wounds all over his body.
Knowing there were still more outside, we feared for Kate and rushed out of
the building to help her.
We neednít have worried. As soon as we got
outside we noticed a half dozen mercenaries already on the ground, with yet
another quickly joining them as we arrived. The last two realized they
didnít stand a chance, and promptly surrendered. It appeared that while we
were inside, Kate had corralled the mercs and shot at them from so many
different directions that the prisoners swore we had a company of archers (a
dozen) that we just werenít admitting to having. I was not around to
interrogate them though. After they surrendered and my adrenaline level
dropped, my legs gave out due to the loss of blood. My wound was much more
serious than I had thought. Though organs were not hit, the wound was very
deep, and would not stop bleeding.
As I lay on the ground, staring at the sky,
I thought about just how wrong my nightmares had been. The pale hawk-man of
my horrors was nowhere to be seen. Instead I would die of a flesh wound in
my own town, killed by some nameless merc whose body currently decorated the
floor of his barracks. As I lay there, silently cursing my nightmares, Ray
walked over to me and knelt at my side. She lay her tiny hands upon my wound
and started whispering. I tried to tell her that I was dying, and that she
should not mourn me, but I could no longer form words. I desperately wanted
to tell her I loved her, and panicked when I couldnít, but suddenly felt
very relaxed and peaceful; I had always heard that happened right before you
died, yet I could not worry about that now.
At the edges of my vision, a blue light
began softly shining from my wound, slowly expanding until all I could see
was that soft, pulsing blue glow. After a few seconds of that, even the glow
faded to black as I lost consciousness.
When next I opened my eyes, I woke with a
panic. I looked frantically around, sure that I was dead and in the
afterlife. I calmed down when I recognized Ray, sleeping in a chair next to
my bed. Somehow sensing I was up; she quickly awoke, and stared at me for a
second. Then with a squeal, and so much glee on her face that I was suddenly
embarrassed, she ran over and tackled me back onto my bed. I lay there, with
her clinging to me like a particularly comfortable set of clothes, and could
not help but smile. With her head buried in my chest, I put my arms around
her and just held her.
Knowing that Jace and Kate were surely in
the building too, and also that they were alerted to my being awake with
Rayís shout and dive, it still took several minutes for them to come in, and
I knew it was Jace who prevented Kate from just barging in, and I felt
indebted to him for that.
With Kateís purposeful cough, my smile got
only larger, though I reluctantly released Ray. Wearing a sheepish grin of
her own, Ray unwound herself from me and sat on the edge of the bed. Feeling
cold without her pressed against me, I sat up myself. After a few seconds I
became self-conscious when no one said anything. Confused, I began thinking
about why even Kate would stay silent, when I realized something I had not
had a chance to think of earlier.
I knew who I was.