Truth and Consequences Part 5

ITALIAN-HAND-AND-A-HALF-SWORDI happen to be a writer, and on occasion I like to post Fiction stories for my readers to check out.  Sometimes these stories are just random ideas.  Other times they are stories I wrote and the contract fell through so they are just gathering dust.  Its up to you to figure out which is which.

This particular Short story is called Truth and Consequences .It involves two of my more abrasive dungeons and dragons characters going on an adventure together.  The world and setting of this story comes from Josh Weekley.  If you you enjoy the setting of Braeton and the tapestry of the pseudo historical world, he’s written a novel set in the same world called ‘Crown of the Dwarf King’.  Check it out on Lulu.com.

This is the Fifth part of the story.  If you are just tuning in, you can find the earlier posts here.

The blade came to a stop inches from the holy man’s face.  Sparks from the metal drummed across his hallow cheeks leaving a pattern of heat and irritation.  “Did you forget you had help sir?”  Aelfric said with a short smile.  His long sword was held tightly with both of his hands.   The blade posed in mid swing.  The half-elf’s nimble limbs swooped low his elbows practically resting on his hips.  His beaten wooden buckler discarded in pursuit of more stopping power.

“So it would appear.”  Gerrit said.  Though his thin lips not follow through with a smile like his partner.  He leaped to his feet in one sudden movement.  “It is good you have gotten from the floor.”  The priest said grabbing his mace in a much slower arc.

“As did you, Father.”  Aelfric said.  His hands tightened on the handle of the blade.

“Enough talk!”  The large man who held the gargantuan blade against Aelfric’s snapped.  The thief’s left foot left the ground.  His tough leather sole slammed against the young fighter’s chest with the sound of a thunderclap.

Aelfric stumbled a few steps back.  His blade escaped the grudge match with the much keener blade.  But that simple action seemed to have opened a flood gate of hostilities.  As he struggled with the burning pain in his chest the entire cave seemed to explode with the cries of murderous intent.

“THESE MEN DO NOT LEAVE!”  One voice shouted over the rabble of others.

Aelfric lifted his head from the floor.  His shoulder length hair brushed across his face and neck like a silver waterfall.  He couldn’t help but look on in a sudden terror as the collective of thieves sprang into action.  Their shouts of agreeable slaughter run against the copper stone walls.  But it was the nearest voice to him that gave him focus.

“YOU WILL NOT LEAVE!”  The large man with the larger sword spat.  The massive blade swirled in a silvery maelstrom from overhead and cleaving downwards.    Aelfric let out a groan as he brought his sword upwards to meet the slow steel.  The force of impact shaking his arms as the blades met.

Gerrit sprung at the wall of men in the same instant the dreaded clang of blade on blade sung in his ears.  He brought his mace to his hips.  “This does not have to be done like this.”  The priest spat as the first blade swung at his chest.  He easily batted the rusty blade with his unarmored forearm in a dismissive parry.  “There is time, to repent and return child.  Only more blades and clubs seemed fit to answer the bizarre priest.

It looked almost too easy for the priest.  Despite being armed only with a well-used balawa mace, the encroaching wall of weapons were easily fended.  Garret himself seemed relaxed.  Despite the threat of death attempting to great him from three of his four sides.

“Something is amiss.”  Aelfric said between the loud metal twang of heavy a heavy blade crashing against his shield.  Aelfric stepped backwards on his left foot.  His knees and ankles paining him from the defensive battle he was holding onto.  He gripped the metal handle of his sword.  The blade slipped past his waist. The hulk in front of him whirled the massive bastard sword high above his head for another bone shaking smash.

“So you noticed it then?”  Garret spoke, in a volume that wasn’t much above a whisper.  Two swords darted towards his body, in that same moment of voice.  The round head of his mace easily met the tip of the sword that threatened his chest.  A swift kick jack knifed from his hip.  His boot heel caught the blade on its flat side, sweeping it away from mortal danger.  “Can you be more specific?”  The priest finally said as the mace swung downwards from his massive shoulder colliding with a heavy club who desperately wanted to embrace his rib cage.

The massive bastard sword crashed down on Aelfric’s shield again.  The blade created new notches in the already battered shield.  “What do you mean?”  The half-elf asked.  He lunged himself forward at the large human.  His sword’s blade snapped from his hip in a terrific thrust.

Caught off guard at the sudden offensive, Aelfric’s much larger opponent had little time to bring the sword down to fend the strike.  Aelfric’s sword slammed into the heavy studded leather.  The point bored through the thick boiled hide, like a steel nail through timber.

“Tell me what you think is off.”  The Priest continued.  The mace’s head crashed into another blade seeking to find flesh.   “Our eyes, are not merely used to see what lie in front of us, are they not?”

A spray of blood came away with Aelfric’s blade as he withdrew it from the human’s stomach.  A scream of anger roared from the towering ruffian.  The large man took a step back raising his sword again.  “I WILL KILL YOU!”

“They want to kill us, obviously.”  Aelfric said, looking up at the bleeding ogre of a man.

“Aye, obviously.”  Garret said, with a light laughter to his whispering voice.  He slammed his elbow into the forehead of another ruffian who had got in close with a slender dagger.  “But that is not what you noticed.”

“They… they are fighting us… because they are scared?”  Aefric offered.

“Close.”  Gerrit said, slamming the business end of his mace into a well-padded shoulder.  The priest grimaced feeling the bone plate give way as the man fell from his feet.  But he didn’t bother to look at what the violence wrought.  He didn’t have the time.  He turned on his hips.  His right hand whirled like a whip smearing into a blur.  Prayer was again already on his lips as his thick elbow slammed into an unguarded stomach.

Aelfric let out a cry of pain as the heavy sword split his wooden shield in half.  The blade’s heft came down heavily onto the boiled leather of his gloves.  His weight shifted, partly out of shock, and partly out of fear of harm.  He stumbled backwards his heels skidding to regain purchase on the slick stone floor.   His massive opponent taking but one step to once again whirl the heavy blade at his head.

Aelfric pulled his savaged long sword above his head.  His right hand clasped the handle along with his left.  The metal blades clanged once again.  Aelfric felt the weight of the weapon pressuring his locked arms downwards.

“Father, I am unsure what you are trying to find.”  Aelfric said between clinched teeth.

“If you can tolerate, what is to happen, my child,” Gerrit said, at the same moment he caught an axe with the top of his mace.  Wood flaking from its beaten surface as the two weapons struck.  He brought his right knee up, slamming the bony cap into his attacker’s abdomen.  “Host in excelsis!”  The holy man began, his voice easily shifting from kindness to deep and fearful.  His thick hand gripped at his mace as the cross that dangled clung against the chords of his neck began to flicker with a pure white energy.  The Balawa moved with deadly precision, even as his prayer continued.  The round end slamming into the jaw of a smaller figure that leaped towards him from behind.

“Donum chorum mihi metuam!” Garret shouted.  His already boisterous voice grew in volume.  As the words left his lips, the brigands saw the opportunity they were waiting for and swung weapons in unison.

A squat rogue felt his axe slide deep into the rib of the priest.  A tall shaggy haired man of massive shoulders and arms felt his dull short sword catch the boiled leather of Garret’s bicep.  It was only the third, an adolescent of thirteen, who felt his sword stopped by the well-used mace.  But no one had time to relish in success, as a high pitched shrill shook the cave.

A piercing call of immense volume swallowed the room for less than a second.  But that moment in time was all the high pitched wave of sound needed.  The focus of war evaporated from every warm body in that instant, weapons dropping in a clatter onto the stone floors.  The shock of the sudden pain was apparent on every face that stood inside the cave; save for father Gerrit.  But the Priest was not without effect.

“This stops, under the domain of the Host.”  The warrior Priest called out as the cave’s interior went deathly silent.  He felt the shivering cold of his mortal wounds as he turned to survey the room.  His feet stumbled heavily under his weight as he withdrew from the large knot of jury-rigged warriors.

The effects were fleeting.  Gerrit could already see that the warriors were coming to their senses.  “My friend and I were tasked with making you pay for your crimes.  However I am inclined to question the truth.”

Aelfric felt the ringing in his ears begin to hollow out.  A wave of nausea washing over his senses, as his vision slowly cleared.  He had no idea what Gerrit had done or what he was planning.  But he had little to add.  The total of his will had been predisposed as to not empty the contents of his stomach onto the floor.

“You aren’t the first.”  A heavy voice, labored.  The massive mountain of a man who had spent most of the exchange battling the half elf said lifting his head.  “The old lady seems to manage a never ending progression of mercenaries, to our door.”  As a testament to the man’s strength, he bent down and grabbed the hilt of the bastard sword.  “But I don’t know if you are like the others. This makes me question just what this is.” Lifting the sword to his massive shoulder he turned to face the young priest.  “But we are not as simple as you may think.  We won’t be deceived easily.”

“Are you blind?”  Aelfric shouted, contention suddenly erupting in his features, “We are not hired murderers!  Sure you can question me, but this man Gerrit is dressed like a priest!”

“The massive man’s body moved like a reed as a sigh was exhaled through his open mouth, which lay hidden beneath a thin patchwork of a golden beard pink from blood that had escaped his lips.  “This man, who is dressed like a priest, took to shadows, like a thief and used the blindness to kill my own brothers.”

“I am inquisitor, if you must know.”  Gerrit said with a sureness of voice, despite the physical pain that radiated through his body.  He knew that it would not make anyone feel easy around him.  In fact it tended to have the effect of hardening people towards him.  Inquisitors had a bad reputation, for a very good reason.  But he wouldn’t lie to the face of his god, for the task that very god gave him.

A sense of dread and fear began to wash over the room.  Both Gerrit and Aelfric could feel the nervousness of the room.  Shaking hands tightened once more against weapons.  Slowed breaths began to speed up again in rhythmic pants.

“You…”  Aelfric said feeling the wind knocked out of him.  Even he, a devotedly religious man had heard the stories of the fearsome warriors of the host who used fear to gain power and prestige.  In centuries past, they had waged war against the wicked machinations of the supernatural and occult.  But since the fall of the empire of Dread, the world had continued to lose magic.  And with the erosion of magic came the fall of horror and corruption.  And with a war seemingly won, the inquisitors had turned to the demons they could not see so easily.  The demons within men, and in the pious insanity some say, they themselves had become demons.

“I am deeply sorry if this troubles you.”  Father Gerrit said both to his partner Alefric as much to the men collected around him.  “But I do not seek, to harm innocent men. “

“A little too late for that,” A husky voice escaped from the tightly bunched throng of bandits and rogues.

“So you would rather fight, than speak?”  Gerrit said.  His head slowly turned to the direction of the voice.  His ice blue eyes centering on a short brigand, with a curly mess of sandy brown hair that sat like a dome framing his pudgy face.

“I think we mourn for those we have lost.”  The leader of the group said.  He balanced the massive sword against his armoured chest, his  fresh blood glazing the steel, like a ruby.  “You have harmed innocent men.  Our brothers, have died– for no reason.”  The large man’s face tightened up.  Though the golden beard covered his frowning mouth, enough of the pain was registered on his plate sized eyes.  “But we do not seek blood, only revenge.  But we will get little satisfaction from killing you.  We were only defending ourselves.”

“BUT YOU ATTACKED FIRST!”  Aelfric spat.  His ivory face turned to the color of a tomato.

“Please, Aelfric we must listen. “ Garret said holding up a bandaged hand towards the young elf. ”It is not justice if they are indeed the maligned party in this tale.”

“But what about the kid?”  Aelfric said excitedly, “She only told us to rescue her grandson.  She spoke nothing of hurting them.  What he is saying makes no sense.”

“The grandson,” The massive man said, his head nodded.  “That is in fact the root of the matter.  But he wasn’t kidnapped.  Nor is he a child.”

CONTINUE ON TO PART 6

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