Joined: Aug 26, 2003
Location: Rocanis, Alastari
Tue Mar 29, 2016 7:22 pm
Two weeks ago…
“Everyone dies, some sooner than expected,” One Eye of the Skull Squadron stable said looking down as he said the words to Khel Rojida, Rocanis’ Arena Manger.
Khel’s brow furrowed. He placed an elbow on his office desk and rubbed his eyes trying to ward off a massive headache coming on. He looked at the three members from the Skull Squadron stable standing in his office. One Eye seemed distraught. A Mytori Priest smiled from ear-to-ear. The last was Grimwood, their manager, frowning and looking like a disapproving parent in a school’s principal’s office.
Khel said, “Let me get this straight. You were on patrol around Rocanis. You came across a Rirorni archer and killed him.”
“It was a her,” One Eye said.
“Does that make a difference?” Khel asked.
“It was a clean kill…quick. She never saw it coming,” the Mytori Priest said excitedly.
“Shut it,” Grimwood rebuked, folding his arms.
Khel thought to himself, it always seems when there is trouble Skull Squadron was not far behind. He had to admit Rocanis was boring, but peaceful the past few years. The only trouble was some misfiled paperwork or a complaint about watered down arena drinks from Mylar’s Tavern. Now, Grimwood shows back up like no time had passed and to active his stable. It’s like the troubles started right where he left off without missing a beat. He had a rogue Rirorni General Pol out on the plains, another clutch of Rirorni hunting him, and a dead Rirorni archer on his doorstep.
“Ahem…” Grimwood said.
Khel broke from his thoughts and glanced at Grimwood. “Where is his body now?”
“It was a she,” One Eye reminded him.
Grimwood eyes shot daggers at One Eye.
The Mytori Priest said, “We buried her out on the plains. Don’t worry I gave her the proper rights for a Rirorni. Her soul will travel safely through Ahringol’s realm.”
Khel slammed his fist on the table. “I don’t care about the soul of one dead Rirorni! I care about the live Rirorni looking for her when she doesn’t return!”
The constant smile on the Mytori Priest’s face faded.
“Now, you see the gravity of your mistake, priest,” Khel said. “I want Spirit Ridge manned around the clock and the warning fires ready.” Khel pointed to One Eye and the Mytori Priest. “You two will take the first watch until relieved.”
“When will that be?” the Mytori Priest asked.
“When I decide it! ” Khel yelled at the two who cringed under his words. “Now, get out!”
“Khel said you two have another shift on Spirit Ridge tomorrow,” the Rirorni Mystic said as she approached One Eye and the Mytori Priest and sat down with them in Mylar’s Tavern.
“What? We just spent a ten hour shift up there yesterday,” the Mytori Priest complained.
“He’s still pretty sore at you two for killing that Rirorni two weeks ago,” the Rirorni Mystic replied.
Jabbing his thumb at his companion, the Mytori Priest said, “She would have killed One Eye if I hadn’t finished her off first.”
“You could have knocked her out,” One Eye said.
“So, that’s how you say thanks for saving your life?”
A barmaid approached bringing three drinks, but she kept looking over her shoulder. The Mytori Priest, glanced behind her and saw several people running past the windows. More passed and then they heard the commotion.
“The fire on Spirit Ridge has been lit!”
The patrons scurried for the door. The Mytori Priest glanced at One Eye, who was already staring at him with his mouth scowling. It was a look that told him, whatever was about to happen was his doing.
Entering the streets, Rocani were scrambling with urgency in every direction. He saw Khel Rojida pass and shout out. “I want all available horsemen mounted and out the front gate!”
The Mytori Priest followed his two stablemates, One Eye and the Rirorni Mystic to the ramparts. In the distance he saw the bonfire on top of Spirit Ridge billowing black smoke high into the air. Spirit Ridge was the first landmark to tell weary travelers that they were near Rocanis. The Rocani buried their most honored dead on top of the ridge. It also served as a strategic spot to survey the landscape around Rocanis for leagues.
“Look!” someone shouted.
The Mytori Priest scanned the horizon to the south and in the distance, dust began to rise high in a sharp defined column. He had seen that sign many times before while serving under General Pol, cavalry.
A dozen or more mounted Rocani sped down the road and out of Rocanis. They were hurriedly putting on fur covered armor and strapping on weapons as they passed. Khel approached the rampart and stared yelling to the onlookers.
“You, you, you and you. Get on your horses and meet us to the south of the city!” Khel bellowed. He spied and then his eyes narrowed at the three members of Skull Squadron, One Eye, Rirorni Mystic, and the Mytori Priest. His glare’s meaning was clear. Get mounted.
It took over an hour before there were barely a hundred or more mounted Rocani outside of Rocanis. The Mytori Priest cringed on how unprepared the city was to meet a threat. It was a vast difference from what Grimwood had told them in the past and how Rocanis fended off the vast armies of Jhans and the Rirorni hordes over a decade ago.
Out in the distance the Mytori Priest saw the mounted Rirorni. They were stretched out in a long line and by the number of banners carried, he estimated their strength to be over a thousand.
Khel Rojida and their manager Grimwood rode down the line and stopped in front of One Eye, Rirorni Mystic, and himself.
Grimwood said, “Come on. Let’s see how we can get them to leave.”
The five rode out to the Rirorni. A clutch of fifty broke off from their line to meet them, a visual representation how vastly outnumbered they were.
The Rirorni leader was broad-shouldered with an over-sized jaw. Two normal Rirorni could fit within his massive frame. His head was shaven, but black stubble protruded and made it appear to look like a skull-cap. His face had several painful looking scars and his nose had been broken at least once in his lifetime. His black horse, like his rider, was larger than normal, and needed to carry his massive weight.
“Where is my scout?” The Rirorni asked in a deep, hoarse voice.
The Mytori Priest wasn’t even about to say a word. He looked to his companions hoping they would open their mouths and say something intelligent to get them to leave.
There were several heartbeats of silence, when Khel opened his mouth.
“Don’t lie,” the Rirorni leader said.
“I’m Khel Rojida.”
The Mytori Priest had heard of Bannok, or more commonly known as Bannok the Destroyer, Bannock the Conqueror, some braver within the Rirorni Empire whispered Khan Bannock. Rumors told he never lost an engagement, ever. The only reason why he didn’t lead the Rirorni hordes invasion into Alastari and why the Alastarian dialects was still spoken today was only due because he was still a child at the time. The fates of his birth dictated he was too late for that, now gone, monumental conquest. His men were loyal and gladly died for him as they knew it would mean victory. He didn’t doubt with just these fifty men Bannok could wipe out every Rocani on the field and take most of the city before driving him off. He didn’t doubt if Bannock wanted Rocanis, it would fall.
“We do not have one of your scouts within Rocanis,” Khel said.
“I know. If it were otherwise the city would have been razed to the ground, if she were not returned.”
The Mytori Priest thought, he must already have spies within with city.
“There is no need for threats,” Khel said.
“I only speak in absolutes,” Bannok replied.
“She’s dead.” One Eye spoke up.
Bannok looked to One Eye and sighed deeply. His hand rested to the hilt of his scimitar. In an instant all fifty Rirorni drew their short bows and aimed arrows at the five of them.
“How did she die?” Bannok asked.
“She died in honorable combat,” One Eye said.
Bannok removed his hand from the scimitar’s hilt. All fifty Rirorni relaxed their draw. “It wasn’t you, but you were there. Who killed her?”
Beads of sweat dropped from the Mytori Priest armpits. One Eye would say it was him. He was an instant from death. They all might be. He looked to the Rirorni Mystic next to him. Just then he realized how beautiful she was as the wind blew through her long black hair. He should have said something to make his feelings known, but it was too late. His death was at hand and there was absolutely nothing he could do about it. He just prayed it would be quick. He began to go light-headed at the thought and his stomach soured.
One Eye stood straighter in his saddle and stiffened. “I’m responsible for her death.”
“Ah,” Bannok said. “You are stupid, but brave. Something I can respect.” He looked at them all. Khel, Grimwood, One Eye, the Mytori Priest, and finally to her, the Rirorni Mystic. He then pointed. “That one.”
Three arrows slammed in to the Rirorni Mystic’s chest. She looked down at the protruding arrows then fell dead off her mount.
“No!” the Mytori Priest yelled. He reached for his short sword, as the Rirorni aimed their arrows at him. At that moment, he didn’t care if he died.
Grimwood, his manager, grabbed his sword arm and placed his other hand hard against his chest. He whispered something quickly into his ear, but he didn’t hear it and didn’t care.
“Why?” Khel Rojida yelled. “She didn’t do it! She was innocent!”
Bannok held his hand up and the Rirorni relaxed their draw again. “You have taken my bride from me, so I have taken one of Rocanis’ daughters.”
Grimwood Advanced Expert Poster
Joined: Aug 26, 2003
Location: Rocanis, Alastari
Fri Apr 01, 2016 4:59 pm
Just giving a bump to get rid of a non-Duel2 post.