Thursday, July 23, 2009

Berserker Part 38

“What happened?”, Jarn asked disoriented as they walked down to the stables in the bright midday sun. “I thought Karnar never got to you”.

Millienya laughed, after a night of toil and worry, it seemed they were through the worst.
“We found him in the stables”, she said. “Knocked cold in a pile of hay, we never saw him until a horse bit him inadvertently while it was eating”. This brought a weary smile to Jarn’s face, now he would have some defense if Kanar ever tried to tell the sheep story again.

“How did you get us out of prison?”, Kyle asked as he dodged a horsedrawn cart in the bustling streets. “He was going to hang us!”

“Who cares how”, laughed Lars, dancing down the streets as gaily as his aches and pains would allow. “We’re free!”

“Um, not quite”, Millienya said meekly, bringing a stop to all thoughts of merriment.
“What do you mean, not quite?”, Kyle asked hesitantly.

“He would’ve killed you otherwise!”, Millienya protested. “It was the best deal I could arrange!”

“What do you mean, not quite?”, Kyle repeated.

“We’ve agreed to let them use the caravan to evacuate as many innocents as they can, leaving tomorrow morning.”, Millienya responded, testing the ice.

“That’s not so bad”, Lars said, relaxing.

“Once the caravan has transported the townspeople to safety, you three are then to report back here to help defend the city”, she continued

“WHAT!?”, Lars shrieked, alarming a number of nervous passerbys.

“You said he was going to hang you”, she protested. “The only way I could talk him out of it was when I mentioned your skills as fighters.Isn’t this better than death?”

“Not by much”, Lars continued in a rage.

“What about me?”, Kyle qauvered, “I’m not a fighter”.

“But your are the wagonmaster, and as such it is your duty to head the caravan”, she replied.

“Oh, so he gets to go scott free and we’re left here to face some horrible attack?”, Lars continued indignantly.

“Quit your bellyaching Lars, Karnar will be with you as well”, she snapped back, his overbearing nature finally wearing her patience thin. “Just think for once wooden-head.”

“What”, Lars asked, completely familiar to his mental inferiority to his sister. He had gotten so used to such things that it became an advantage, whereas most people would take time to mentally assess a situation, hostile or otherwise, he simply reacted. This lack of mental hesitation was often the difference between life and death for such hard-bitten fighters, and he learned early on that the skullsweat should be left for those who started with more resources than those such as he.

“Do you even think that Gnolls would attack this city?”, she coaxed him

“I don’t know”, Lars said uncertainly

“I certainly don’t think they will”, she said. “What would they have to gain from it that they wouldn’t get simply by blocking their trade routes? Nothing. The only evidence which even points out that gnolls are in the area is the arrow with fur fletchings that killed the scout. Maybe in his deleriem the scout exaggerated, if they used the same poison on him as they used on Seryan he would be incoherent.”

“So what does all this mean?”, Lars asked.

“It means, brother of mine, that its highly likely no such army exists and if it did, they would only waste men and time pointlessly by taking this city”.

“So we’ll just be here with nothing to do until they let us go?”, Lars reasoned.


“Then it doesn’t seem so bad”, Lars said. “There’s somebody here I’d like to get more acquainted with”.

“How will they get back to us then?”, Kyle asked.

Our next stop will be in the city of Kastontel”, Millienya said. “It’s the capital of Gath and we are scheduled to receive more goods and passengers, as well as drop off the refugees. You should be able to reach it a week after we do if you hurry”.

Jarn, who had been unusually silent and brooding during their conversation finally spoke.“I’ve only got one question”, he said as they walked down the street.

“What would that be?”

“Why a slaughterhouse?”

Millienya continued on in thoughtful silence for some time, finally arriving to a conclusion.“Well, all the meat has been cured, salted, and stored. It was a solid brick building, and seemed like a fitting place at the time”. She didn’t bother to mention how intimidating such a place would seem to someone chained up, they experienced that first-hand.

“Oh, right”

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