"Neverdie", Chapter Three (Page 2 of 2)
“Oberon, god of these woods from which you build your homes and businesses counts the elves as his protected race. He too is a friend to Rah and the other goodly gods. I doubt that he blesses this farce.” Ash turned his steely gaze upon the woman, his brow furrowing into deadly seriousness. “Your sins are your own to commit, M’Lady. Do not cloak your misdeeds in the blessings of those gods who smile upon these lands and protect its people.”
There was a moment of complete silence, the sounds of peeping frogs became audible in the distance, seemingly for the first time. Rowan could hear the shuffling of feet as the throng took in the words of the unknown knight. The town’s leader looked around awkwardly as she sought words to rebuff the brash stranger. Long moments passed this way, in tense silence, as Ash stared into the crowd.
“I am on a mission given by Rahal Diamondblayde, King of Mylund. Rowan Tallfelter, the elf who life you have judged void, is my charge.” Sweeter words, Rowan had never heard.
“Yer king ain’t got no authority here.” Salty persisted, trying to rally the people who stood around him. A chorus of agreement went up from around him, and seemed to spread its way through the crowd.
“You are correct sir, you are not bound by the laws of Mylund, but the laws of humanity, and the goodness of which your leader speaks, should guide your actions.” His words, however profound or good, now fell on deaf ears. The people had come to watch the public spectacle of a hanging, and no amount of rationality or preaching was going to dissuade them now. Rowan heard the sound of a rock, bouncing off of the knight’s breastplate. As she watched, a second, larger rock, thrown by someone in the crowd, made contact with the young knight’s head. He swayed on his feet, either from the surprise of from the impact, blood beginning to flow down his face from the fresh wound.
Ash knew that he was in trouble. He had tried to talk his way out of the situation, something that he always tried, but this crowd was too set in their ways. Their minds, their children’s minds and probably the minds of their children’s children were warped by the long lasting hatred and lack of understanding. The sudden impact of the second rock switched his thinking from diplomacy, to survival. Fortunately, he had used his time on the gallows well. He had spotted the elf-girl, laying peacefully on the ground at the far side of the crowd. From this distance, she appeared to be unconscious. Ash wasn’t fond of the idea of having to carry the girl while fighting his way to escape, but what had to be done would have to be done. Tightening his grip on his sword, he set his face and made his way to the ground where he was met by two big, burly, armed townspeople, intent on blocking his path. Saying a silent prayer to Rah, he engaged the men. Fortunately for his, the two armed men were more enthusiastic than they were skilled with the sword. Ash was able to quickly parry the first man’s swing and land a blow with the flat of his own blade to the side of the man’s head. He crumpled to the ground, unconscious, but alive. The second man proved to be more of a challenge, taking Ash longer to subdue, but the results were the same. Finding no more opponents, those in the crowd who had seen their neighbors fall to this man in a very small number of seconds were not as eager to confront him. Some, those who had not been throwing stones, had lost interest in this spectacle anyway and were beginning to douse their torches and slink back to their homes, some with families in tow.
Rowan’s situation was slightly different. Having lost sight of the knight, she decided that this was her time to act, she would jump to her feet and make a break for the tree line. Her plans were thwarted, however, as she was pulled forcibly from the ground and lifted once again into the air. She opened her eyes, and found that it was not one man, but two who had lifted her off of her feet. She could see her would-be rescuer, not 20 feet away from her, a number of people lay motionless on the ground in his path.
“Don’t come no closer, Knight,” Satly the Bartender said, coming to stand in front of the two men who held the now-struggling woman. He was joined by two other men of similar girth, both armed with swords. “Ye might be able to get one or two of us, but not before yer woman eats a sword.”
“What could you possibly hope to gain from this?” Ash asked, concerned. So far, he had only faced off with single or double opponents, and had managed to get through the situation without killing anyone. If this confrontation came to blows, Ash was sure that he would be victorious, but knew that at least one of the men before him would not survive.
“We’ll make ye a deal,” the fat bartender began, rubbing his hands together. He never had a chance to finish the thought. Suddenly, and without warning, Rowan started to emit a high-pitched whine. The sound wasn’t coming from the girl directly, but from all around her. Seconds later, the high-pitched whine had grown louder, suddenly exploding away from her in a burst of destructive sound that enveloped all of her captors. When the sound died away, Ash was left with a ringing in his hears, but each of the men who had been facing him a moment ago was writhing on the ground. Salty cried loudly and writhed on the ground, a small amount of blood running from his nose. “I’m deaf! The witch done stuck me deaf!”
“The effects won’t last long,” Rowan said, more to prompt Ash into a quick retreat than to alleviate any worry on the bartender’s part. It took Ash a moment to process what he was being told, but as soon as he understood what she was saying, he grabbed her by the hand and the pair dashed toward the relative safety of Ash’s camp in the woods. They didn’t stop there, however. Without speaking, they quickly packed up what was needed from the camp and departed, hoping to get at least a little bit more distance between themselves and this hateful town.
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