Friday, November 13, 2009

The Necropolis of Alkhezzar - Part III

Pops sling started buzzing as he jogged forward to close the gap. The scene revealed itself to him as he approached.

Two people in traveler's cloaks stood with blades bare beside the two fallen forms of their comrades. Five menacing night haunts closed in. The haunts were typical of their type: mismatched clothing, a piece of toughened leather here and there plus whatever weapon available or improvised. One of their number was on the ground already, a dagger shoved indecently through his throat. The two travelers, female, shifted back to back as the five remaining assailants spread out around them.

"No one else has to get hurt, lovelies. We's just looking for fun. Put those stickers down now," one of the bravos said in a raspy voice.

"Does that line ever work?" Pops asked loudly into the night over the buzz of his sling.

"Wha ... " *crack* The surprised question was cut off instantly by the slung stone and the brigand dropped like a puppet with cut strings. One of the would-be thieves recovered quickly enough to snap the yell, "Get them!" and brandish a cleaver. Two charged the travelers, swinging and screaming for blood. The Cleaver and his knife wielding sidekick spun toward Pops. Pops wasted no time in dropping another stone into his sling. The Knife charged at him, closing the distance in a few strides.

*thrummm*

The hairs on the back of Pops' neck stood on end as he felt a crossbow bolt zip past him too close for comfort.

*crack* The knife wielder dropped to the ground, a heavy bruise already forming at his temple where the slug tipped bolt him him. The Cleaver hesitated upon seeing his companion dropped from an unseen attack. Pops shot his stone at one of the attackers harassing the travelers. It banged into an elbow eliciting a startled cry and caused the man to drop his guard.

The nearest traveler used the diversion to run a long knife into her attacker. The thief coughed up blood and crumpled. The other attacker turned and ran off into the night.

"I know you, you little shit! You are going to pay for this," cried the Cleaver, unaware he stood along against four.

"I'd run now before you say something stupid..er," came the reply. "My friend in the shadows isn't the forgiving type." Pops scuttled away from the menacing man.

Cleaver snapped a quick look at the scene behind him and did the math. He started for the nearest alley.

"You'll get yours, little man. Just you..."

*Thrumm* *crack*

The cleaver made a dull clunk as it hit the ground a moment ahead of the brigand.

"Ah hahah. Not likely!" Pops danced over the fallen foe. Deft hands made a quick search for spare coins. Fafnir stepped out of the murk of the evening and retrieved his bolts. One of the women was crouched over one of her fallen comrades. Fafnir though he could hear small desperate sobs. The other held her sword out protectively watching Fafnir and Pops as they moved closer.

"Stay back," she warned.

"Thomas. Oh Thomas. No," called the other. "No. No. No."

"Let us help you," Fafnir said soothingly. "Your friends need medical attention."

"Were you with them?" The woman asked.

"No. We were on the street, too. We saw them jump you. Please. I know a night house nearby. If we hurry we can save them."

The woman nodded. "I am called Tess, this is Yemna. Thomas and Sven. I ... I think Sven is ..."

"Help me with him, Tess. Pops! Keep an eye out. Chibiguazu!" Fafnir whistled. "Go." The word was voiced with something more, a note of power.

Pops pushed Yemna into motion. Tess lifted Sven and pushed him to Fafnir. The man was thin and pale and cold. Fafnir didn't have much hope for him. Tess picked Thomas up on her own and turned to Fafnir.

"Which way?" she asked.

"Pops, get us out of here."

"With pleasure. This way if you please. I know the place he means." The halfling started back down the road, his feet made no sound as he wound his way from shadow to shadow.




On the rooftop above, four figures watched the halfling lead the wounded party away.

"Strike now?" one of the Cateris asked eagerly.

"From darkness?" came the shocked reply.

"They are injured prey," the first said with a small excited hiss. The ears of another catman twitched in irritation.

"Not all of them," he admonished. "We do not know these two new ones."

"I know one of them." The fourth finally spoke up. He gazed in the direction the group left and sneered. "An honorless thief. His skin will be good in trade to the Keptai."

"What of the other?" one of them asked.

"There is something about him," agreed another.

"I felt it too," said the first. His tail was still lashing back and forth, his gaze was still on the city below. "An agent of chaos?" he asked in a whisper.

"If so, then we would be wise to rid the world of him."

"It would be wise to follow them but not to strike ... yet."

"We must succeed. We must reclaim what was stolen."

"We will. But we must be careful not to give it value in the eyes of the thief. He would rob his litter for an apple."

"They are nearly away."

"Come, brothers. We follow."

The four lean figures resumed their pursuit, slipping effortlessly from rooftop to rooftop.

 

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Geek - Gamer - Librarian - Writer. Only awesome at one of those things at a time, unfortunately.

About Fading Interest

After writing op-eds and travelogues for several years, after finishing a few books, and after failing to get the ball rolling with project after project I stumbled into an idea that might just hold my interest long enough to enjoy some level of satisfaction with my writing.