Salis' Story

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: The Imaginarium

Chapter 17 (v.1) - A family, saboteurs in reality

Submitted: September 11, 2019

Reads: 8

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Submitted: September 11, 2019

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It had been three weeks since Pali and his "family" had entered Toa Mirr. In this time not only had they started their cover business as traveling merchants but they had already attacked a small supply caravan heading to the armies on the border. On top of that Meric had taken it upon herself to bring the new family up to standard.

Except on the nights they had spent in towns they trained. Meric had insisted that they have archery lessons as much as possible to "Make us less likely to get ourselves killed." She had even enlisted Ferra to do some sword training. Calren had offered to do magic training too but Meric had not thought him skilled enough to train others.

Thanks to this Pali's arms had never been so sore. While he was not out of shape, thanks to his habit of taking walks, he had no upper body strength and pulling a bow string and swinging a sword around had made this quite clear.

Meric still did not think they were ready for any of the more difficult missions but Pali and his family had been informed about a shipment of crystal forged weapons heading to one of the Toa Mirr armies on the border. They had been asked to capture it. General Hani had looked concerned over Meric's complaints that they were not ready but insisted that it needed to be done.

Thanks to this Meric was adamant that she, Ferra and Calren would do most of the fighting since Dario and Pali had only gotten in the way in their last assignment. To make up for their disadvantage in numbers Meric was adamant that they set up an ambush, but since Toa Mir was more dry than Kein they had a hard time finding a good spot to ambush the wagon. The only cover they had found were the large bushes that dotted the countryside but they were too far apart to let everyone participate in the attack. This led to Calren. He had thought of a plan that everyone liked.

It was now the day of the attack. As Pali walked next to their wagon he wondered if the plan would work. Meric had already gone on ahead to wait in ambush but the rest of them would be in plain sight. Ferra was in the most dangerous spot as she was driving the carriage while the rest of them were on foot and could more easily use their wagon as protection.

 

 

Pali saw the target in the distance. There was only one wagon but it was surrounded by several soldiers and it also had two chariots in front and behind it. The soldiers themselves did not worry Pali, it was the chariots which each held two men. The first man was merely driving the chariot and posed no threat, other than being able to run them down that is. The second man was wearing light armor and was holding a bow. If these charioteers were like the ones they had passed before they would also have swords.

The group was almost to the spot Meric had chosen as her hiding spot. It was earlier than they had planned so Pali told Ferra to slow down. Even though this would not be their first ambush she looked extremely nervous. He imagined the two boys were just as nervous, Dario probably more.

They were now close enough to the soldiers that Pali could see the expressions on their faces. None of them were talking but they all looked bored. The only man that even paid them any mind was the man in the front left chariot. The plume on his helmet told Pali that he was most likely their commander. He would also probably be the first man Meric would shoot if Calren's plan did not kill him first.

Pali motioned for Ferra to pull their wagon off to the side of the road as it was considered rude to get the dust their wagon picked up to get on the soldiers. Pali and the two boys also stepped off of the road and positioned themselves for the attack.

The first two chariots began to pass their wagon, the soldiers only giving them a quick glance in their direction. It was then that Meric's first arrow struck, hitting the soldier in the rear on the opposite side of them. Pali was sure Meric had used one of her arrows designed to pierce armor as it easily pierced his chest.

The men all looked back when the driver of the carriage shouted. The two boys, and Ferra enacted the plan. In an instant Ferra had pulled out her sword that had been hidden just behind her and got ready to jump. Pali and the boys then focused on their wagon and sent it flying into one of the chariots and some of the soldiers, Pali using his magic to release their donkey. Ferra had used the momentum of the wagon to fling herself as far as she could.

From that point on Ferra, Meric, and Calren did most of the work as Dario and Pali were in no shape to use swords or magic. There help was not needed anyways. Meric quickly took out the other three armed men in the chariots while Ferra had taken advantage of the confusion and taken care of the three soldiers on the far side. Calren had killed the two soldiers that had been walking between the first two chariots and held off three other soldiers with his magic until Meric struck them down.

There were five men left, three of them were the drivers of the chariots. The remaining two men had been riding in the wagon. These men were also the most dangerous of all the soldiers as they were armed not only with crystal forged swords but also crystal forged shields. Their shields were the most worrisome as they would protect them from Meric's arrows, Calren's magic, and, depending on how skilled they were, from Ferra's sword.

The only good thing about the situation was that they were not wearing crystal forged armor. This meant that all they had to was get past the shield and because there was two of them and five in Pali's family there was a good chance to flank them.

Ferra had seemed to realize this too and began to move behind them, but to Pali's surprise the men ignored Ferra, himself, and the two boys and began to charge where Meric was hiding.

Pali was not sure how he could help Meric but with Calren focused on one of the remaining chariot drivers, Meric having killed another, and Ferra now having to avoid getting run over by another leaving only he and Dario to help.

Pali took one look and Dario and saw he was standing behind Calren, giving token magic attacks in help. Pali did not expect much help from Dario anyways so he grabbed a bow and arrows from one of the fallen soldiers and ran towards Meric.

Meric had already abandoned her hiding place inside one of the large ugly bushes that dotted the countryside and had her small sword ready for the soldiers. Pali had seen her spar with Ferra and knew that, despite her preference in archery, that she was better than Ferra and Ferra was good despite her age. He knew that if Meric was fighting one on one that she would have a good chance of winning but as this was not the case he was going to help no matter how poor he was with a sword and bow.

The soldiers reached Meric and she met them without hesitation. Pali could see the focus on the woman's face as she parried, dodged, and attacked and she showed no signs of worry or fear.

Pali finally reached a distance where he felt comfortable hitting the soldiers with his bow. The soldiers had not noticed him yet and were only focused on Meric. He was not sure if Meric had noticed or not but he hoped so because he did not want to hit her and hoped she would get out of the way when he fired just in case he did miss.

Pali readied his bow and took aim. The three combatants were moving around a lot and even from his position behind them their shields still often got in the way. It was when he decided that even if he did not hit one of them the distraction it caused might create an opening.

Pali loosed an arrow. Meric had seen him and jumped back just as he fired. Unfortunately it also appeared the the two soldiers had noticed him and brought their shields around at the last second, blocking the arrow.

Meric, instead of counterattacking, took the opportunity to run past the soldiers.

"Back to the carriages!" She shouted at him as she ran towards him.

The soldiers were close behind but with their heavier load from their shields and armor were slowly losing ground. Pali was not a fast runner so he decided not to wait for Meric to reach him and he ran back to the carriages.

Meric and Pali reached the carriages at about the same time. By now Ferra and Calren had taken care of all but one of the remaining soldiers with the last taking refuge behind an overturned chariot that had caught on fire.

"Ferra!" Meric yelled.

Ferra, who had looked to have been attempting to flank the remaining soldier, looked at them then looked at the soldiers behind them. She nodded and came to meet them.

"Are they that good?" Ferra said when she reached them. Pali noticed that the girl had a wound on her arm and was bleeding badly, but she did not seem to be paying it any attention.

Meric nodded and turned to meet the soldiers.

Ferra and Meric charged the men. Pali also readied his sword and hoped he would not get in the way.

The fight was much more even this time. Now that she only needed to worry about one opponent Meric was on the offensive much more. Ferra also seemed to be doing well despite her injury. Pali himself could only watch as he could not figure out the best way to enter the fight.

It was as he watched that he noticed it. Both Ferra and Meric's swords were slowly being chipped away by the crystal forged swords and he knew it would only be moments before one of their swords broke if not both.

Pali then remembered the reason they had come. The wagon! There was a wagon filled with crystal forged swords. The only problem was if he could get there and back before someone's sword broke.

It did not take Pali long to get to the wagon. He did not dare take the time to look at it and simply jumped onto it and hoped there were no more soldiers hiding inside. There were not.

Pali tore off the oiled canvas covering that rested over the swords and looked at the bundles of the sparkling tools of death. He glanced over each bundle before pulling out two that he thought resembled the sizes that Ferra and Meric preferred. He then jumped out of the wagon and hoped that both of them were still alive and well.

The fight was going as hard as it was when he left. Except now he saw that Ferra's sword had already broken. Despite this what was left of her sword was still nearly as long as Meric's and she fought on.

"Ferra! Meric!" Pali shouted at them, hoping he would not distract them and get one killed.

Neither one looked at him. Instead Meric glanced at Ferra. Ferra backed off a little but instead of turning to Pali she kicked some sand at the soldier Meric had been fighting. The man quickly turned to block the sand with his shield.

It was at this moment that Meric retreated from the fight and as soon as she turned towards him he threw the smaller of the two swords at her. She caught the sword, dropped her old one, and returned to the fight.

Now that Meric had the crystal forged sword she fought harder than she had been. This apparently took the soldiers off guard as the one she was fighting staggered under one of her blows.

Ferra herself looked to finally be getting tired. She also was starting to look pale and she appeared to be getting slower and was now mostly defending.

Pali clenched the grip of the crystal forged sword he was holding. He knew that if this kept on the two would lose. He had to think of a way to turn the odds in their favor.

He ran to Calren, who was on the other side of the wagon.

"I am sorry Pali." Calren said to Pali when he arrived. "I am almost out strength and it is all I can do keep the soldier there."

"I can handle this." Pali said. "I want you to go and help Meric and Ferra." Pali handed him the sword. "At the least try and get this to Ferra."

Calren nodded. "I do not know what I can do against one of those shields but if you say so."

Calren ran in the direction Pali had come.

Pali wanted to go back with the boy but he now had Calren's problem.

Pali was not sure what he could do here. The only magic he could do were the most basic and his attack magic was almost nonexistent.

"So…" Dario said.

Pali had almost not noticed the boy. He was just behind Pali and was hiding behind one of the wheels of the supply wagon.

"We just need to keep him from coming out and helping his friends." Pali said.

"How? Neither of us can fight."

"But we can use bows, at least at this distance."

Dario nodded nervously. "If we had them."

Pali reached for the bow he had taken earlier only to realize it was not there. He slapped himself on the forehead. He had dropped it and the arrows in the supply wagon when he got the two swords, but he was standing next to the wagon right now so it could have been worse.

"One moment." Pali said and jumped into the wagon.

It did not take him long to find the bow and arrows. Pali even scooped up two more swords but before he jumped back down he saw Meric, Ferra and Calren.

Pali saw that the two soldiers were beginning to push back Meric and Ferra. Meric had sustained a wound on her left thigh and Ferra had two more, one on her left side just above her hip and another small one on her right calf.

On a good note it appeared Calren had given Ferra the sword.

As for Calren himself. He was standing back from the fight and was looking around for something. What he was looking for Pali could not say.

Ferra stumbled, her right leg giving out slightly.

Pali knew he did not have long to think of a way to help her and Meric herself had her hands full with her opponent.

Pali threw one of the swords he was holding. He hoped that his throw combined with a little magic would get the sword to the soldier.

The soldier had seen this and went from raising his sword to strike down at Ferra to raising his shield at the sword Pali had thrown. The sword struck the shield and bounced off.

Ferra regained her footing but Pali knew she would not last much longer.

"Here Dario." Pali said turning around and dropping a sword and the bow in front of the boy. "Show me you have not been putting your training to waste."

Dario looked up at Pali with uncertainty but grabbed the sword and bow.

Pali turned back around, picked up one more sword, and ran towards Ferra.

"YAAAH!" Pali heard Calren yell.

Before Pali could turn to see what the boy had done he saw a carriage wheel crash into Ferra's opponent. The soldier had blocked it but the blow had been so hard that he staggered backwards several steps. Soon after a large rock crashed into the soldier. Since he had still been recovering from the first blow the second knock him down.

Ferra wasted no time and was on top of the soldier. The soldier tried to block Ferra's downward swing but only managed to make her miss his heart and the sword dug deeply into his right shoulder.

Ferra's attack had seemed to immobilize the soldier as he made no move to get back to his feet. Ferra herself fell to her knees and with how heavily she was breathing Pali was sure that she was in no shape to help Meric.

Pali turned to Meric and her opponent. Neither were fighting. He was not certain but he thought the man must taking in the situation. Pali did not want to give him time to think of a plan so he ran to the side of the soldier in hopes of flanking him.

The soldier did not give Pali time and charged at Meric. Meric barely managed to dodge a blow from the soldier's shield. Meric looked like she was going to counterattack but Calren beat her to it and a rock smashed into the soldiers shield. The rock did not stagger the soldier but it slowed him down. It was then that Meric attacked, hitting the soldier's right arm just above the elbow, the crystal forged sword cutting through the armor and hitting flesh.

The soldier had not dropped his sword and instead of facing Meric again he charged straight at Calren. Calren looked almost as exhausted as Ferra and Pali was uncertain if the boy could outrun the soldier.

The soldier suddenly spun to the right and raised his shield. Soon after an arrow bounced off the shield. Pali looked over to see Dario. He had been the one who had shot the soldier and despite not wounding him it had given Meric enough time to catch up to the soldier. Dario looked scared to death.

Just as Meric began trading blows with the soldier again Ferra shouted at him. "Papa!"

Pali turned around and saw that the other soldier had finally gotten up. He had dropped his shield and now held his sword in his left hand and was making his way to Ferra. Ferra herself was unarmed as she had left her sword lodged in the soldier's shoulder when she had struck him. Pali cursed at himself for not taking the opportunity to finish the soldier off.

Pali ran towards Ferra. He was not too far away but the soldier was even closer.

Pali shot magic lightning at the soldier. It was pitifully weak and only made the soldier pause as he used his crystal forged sword to absorb what lightning did manage to reach.

Pali shot lightning again and again as he ran. He knew even the weakest hit with lightning could stun a someone, even if it was only for a split second, and as he got closer that split second would become a little longer.

The soldier had reached Ferra but because he had to keep blocking Pali's attacks with his sword he could not bring it down of Ferra. Instead he raised his foot and kicked her hard. She managed to block the blow that had been aimed at her face but was knock on her back. The man the proceeded to kick her hard on the wound above her hip.

Just as Ferra screamed from the blow Pali reached her and the soldier. The man seemed to know he would not win so he ignored Pali and thrust his sword at Ferra. Pali rammed into the soldier just in time, pushing his sword through one of the gaps in his armor and deep into his side and knocking them both to the ground.

Pali quickly got back to his feet but found that the soldier was dead. He quickly looked at Ferra. The wound above her hip was now bleeding more than it had been and the girl looked like she was barely holding on to conciousness.

Pali knelt next to her and began tearing strips of cloth off of his tunic and packed them into her wound, hoping the pressure would stop the bleeding. When he had packed the wound as tightly as he could and had it bound he did the same to her other wounds.

 

When Pali finally looked up from Ferra he saw that the other fight had ended too. Meric was sitting on the overturned wagon and was dressing her wounds.

Pali saw that Calren and Dario were standing on the other side of the supply wagon but could not tell what they were doing. He hoped it meant they had killed the soldier that had been hiding. The fact that fire had been put out made him think so.

Pali knew it was only a matter of time until some other soldiers or other travelers came by so he wanted to get out of here as quickly as possible.

He stood up and walked to Meric.

"I am going to get the hand carts." Pali told Meric.

Merric nodded. "How is Ferra?" She asked.

"Her wounds do not look life threatening but she has lost a lot of blood. I did my best to stop the bleeding but I do not know if I was in time."

Meric nodded again.

Pali turned towards where Meric had been hiding earlier. The hand carts would be behind the largest bush.

It only took a few minutes for Pali to find the carts. There were two of them. They could hold no where near what a wagon could but they had been sure two would have been enough to hold everything. One of the carts was also holding a few medical supplies and a bit of food. It was this one he took first.

When Pali got back with the first cart he saw that Meric and the two boys were next to Ferra. Meric was kneeling next to the girl and was checking her wounds.

Pali stopped next to the group and handed the medical supplies to Meric.

"Is she going to be alright?" Calren asked Pali.

"If we stopped the bleeding in time she will be fine. None of her wounds on their own are life threatening." Pali said.

Calren nodded and looked back at Ferra.

"Dario. Go and get the last cart. We need to get the weapons loaded onto the carts before anyone comes." Pali said, turning to Dario.

Dario slumped his shoulders. "I still see why we cannot just take the wagon they are already in."

Pali shook his head in disgust. "How many times have we told you it is to avoid notice?"

"The wagon looks just like every other. No one will notice." Dario said, but went to get the cart anyways.

Pali heard Ferra moan. When he looked down to see what had happened he saw that Meric was putting the stuff Salis called alchohol onto Ferra's wounds.

This alchohol was amazing stuff. The physicians in Flae had found that it drastically reduced the chance of infection if it was used on wounds soon after the injury. Salis had made a good deal of money on it.

"Are you rested enough to help me load some of the weapons?" Pali asked Calren.

Calren looked up from Ferra. Pali saw a pained expression on his face from watching Ferra's treatments. "I think so. At least it will help me take my mind off of Ferra."

Pali and Calren walked over to the supply wagon.

"What are we going to do with the horses?" Calren said as he looked at the three horses that had either not been killed or had run away already.

Pali thought. If they left the horses here it might give the idea that it had not been bandits that had attacked as they would not miss the opportunity to steal some horses.

"We will cut them loose before we leave. But first we need to get these swords into the carts." Pali said.

Pali and Calren had not been at it for long when Dario came back with the second cart.

"What are we going to do with Ferra?" Dario asked. "Do we have enough room in the carts to let her ride?"

"I think the donkey should be able to carry her back." Pali said.

"If we can find it." Calren added.

It took the three about twenty minutes to load the swords into the carts. There had actually been less than they had be expecting so they had some room to spare in each cart.

"Are we ready to go?" Meric said, limping over to them.

"How is Ferra?" Pali asked.

"I think we stopped the bleeding in time but she will most likely sleep for a few days as she recovers."

"That is good news." Pali said and then looked at the two carts. "I believe there is enough room to let the two of you rest."

Meric looked at the carts. "That is fortunate. It would not have been easy carrying Ferra."

"Let us eat and then go."

Everyone nodded.

 

It had taken them two days to get to their destination. They had actually skipped several small villages to avoid the patrols that would be looking for whoever had stolen the crystal forged swords.

The village they had come to was as unremarkable as most of the others they had seen in Toa Mirr. It was dirty and the smell of human and animal excrement was everywhere.

They walked into a particularly run down part of the village. There was a dangerous looking group of men that looked to be full of drunks and other unsavory kinds of men. In reality these men were others sent to Toa Mirr from Flaern and it was they that would be taking the swords from them.

"Do you want to get hurt?" One of the men said, his speech slurred.

Calren and Dario looked at each other nervously as the man shambled over to them.

"No but there are others I would not mind getting hurt." Pali said.

"Oh? You come 'ere lookin' for someone to knock someone off?"

"A lot of people actually." Pali glanced to the guard post that held the villages contingent of soldiers.

"A lot? A lot will not be cheap. What kind of lucre are you offerin'?" The man had seen Pali's glance but said nothing about it.

Pali gestured to the two carts behind him. Calren and Dario were each standing in front of a cart. "I recently have gotten my hands on some special "tools." I think you will like them.

"What makes you think I will not jus' take 'em from ya?"

"Because I will pay you more if you do your job."

The man shambled over to Dario's cart. Dario stepped back and looked at the man with disgust but did not say anything.

"Yes, this will do nicely. You 'ave a deal!" The man said after he rummaged through the contents of the cart.

Pali nodded.

"Come on boys! We 'ave some loot take care of!" The man shouted.

The rest of the men came over and took care of the carts.

"I will send the boss my regards." The man said and then left with the others.

"Are you sure those were the right people?" Dario said as soon as the men were out of sight. "We could have just given a bunch of drunks some weapons."

"If it were not them we would have probably been attack outright." Pali said. "And even if they were the wrong men at least the weapons are not in the hands of the Toa Mirr army."

 

"I am back Dearest." Pali said as he entered the room at the inn they were staying at.

Meric simply nodded at him.

"Any change with Ferra?" He said, looking at the sleeping girl on one of the two beds in the room.

"None, but it should not be long."

Pali sat down on one of the stools in the room. It was one of the dirtiest inns he had stayed in and he worried that it would be bad for Ferra's recovery but the inn was the only one in the village and he did not want to make her travel anymore.

"How are your wounds?" Pali said to Meric.

"The same as when you asked this morning." Meric said, sounding a little annoyed. "How did the meeting go?"

"Very well, though it is a shame you did not get to see the looks on Calren and Dario's faces."

"Hey!" The two boys said in unison.

"Ferra would have loved it." Pali said and chuckled.

"Have you contacted General Hani again?" Meric said.

Pali wished the woman had a better sense of humor. He and Ferra were trying to give her one but it was not proving an easy task.

"No, the last I talked to him he said we should rest for a few days." Pali finally replied. He had already told her about his conversation with the general but the woman seemed to not like sitting around and was getting restless, even with her injury.

Meric nodded.

"I am going to go back and retrieve the things we left in Heru. It will be much easier moving Ferra around while she recovers if we get a new wagon too." Pali said.

"You should take Calren with you. It will put me much at ease if you have someone that can fight." Meric said.

"I should take Dario too. It will be less stressfull for Ferra if he is not here." Pali said and gave Dario a smirk.

"Hey! I resent that!" Dario said. "It is not my fault that she…"

"Enough." Meric said. She then turned to Pali. "Please take him."

Dario looked like he wanted to say more but Meric stared him down and he said nothing.

"You need to teach me how to do that, Dearest." Pali said seriously.

Dario gave the two adults an angry look each and then left the room. Calren shrugged and follwed Dario.

"Could you please tell me again why you brought him along?" Meric said.

"I thought he would be able to help. I just hope he comes around and does not prove me wrong."

Meric nodded. "Or he will die if he does not cause our death first."

Meric stretched her legs and shifter on the chair she was sitting on. It was further proof that not being able to move around much because of her injuries was starting to get to her.

"There is still much time left in the day." Pali said and grabbed the crude crutch Meric had made for herself. "Let us not spend the rest of the day cooped up in here."

Meric took the crutch and Pali helped her to her feet. "There is not much to see but we can discuss our plans."

Pali was a bit excited. He had never been able to spend much time alone with Meric since at least one of their "children" were always around and he had been hoping to get to know her better. He was not good at courting women but as he spent more time with Meric he began to feel it was worth the effort.

 

 

Early the next morning Pali and the two boys left. Since they were taking a carriage to their destination they would only be gone for about three days or so. This left Meric and Ferra to fend for themselves but with Toa Mirr's army moving around so much because of the war the village was mostly safe.

Meric was less certain about the safety of Pali. While they would be safe for the carriage ride they would be carrying all of their goods on the way back and considering they had been attacked by bandits two times in the three weeks they had been in Toa Mirr worried her.

She also worried that if they were attacked that Calren's magic use would be discovered as it was illegal for common citizens to learn it. The only reason she had told Pali to take him was because he could only hope to fight off someone completely untrained with the sword at this point, though he was quickly becoming proficient with the bow.

"Mama." Meric heard Ferra mumble.

Meric smiled one of her rare smiles at this. It would not be long until the girl woke up. Unlike that useless boy Dario, Ferra had started to grow on her despite being a bit more energetic and noisy than she prefered in her associates.

Meric stood up from larger of the two beds she and Helnion had been sharing. Her leg was healing well but despite the stiching she had done to help hold her wound closed she had to be careful not to open it. She also knew that she needed some exercise lest she start to lose her strength.

When she had done some stretches and exercises she grabbed her crutch and left the room. She had seen a good spot hidden from view of anyone in the village or the roads when they had hidden their weapons before entering the village.

Not long after Meric had left the inn a group of soldiers approached her.

"How did you get that injury?" One of the soldiers said.

One quick look at the soldier showed him to be a liutenant. He was not the most impressive looking man Meric had seen but she knew that he could probably have easily taken both Pali and Dario in a fight even if both attacked him together.

Meric bowed her head to show respect for the soldiers. "My husband and I are traveling merchants. We were attacked by bandits."

"Where is your husband now? He is not dead is he?"

"We lost our wagon and goods in the attack. He is currently visiting a friend in hopes to get a new wagon and goods."

"Must be a good friend if he is giving you those things."

"He is kind enough to loan them to us."

"How long ago did this happen and where?"

"It happened four days ago on the road from Millis."

The liutenant turned back to the other soldiers and began talking with them. Meric made no move to leave because it was not unheard of for soldiers to cut down peasants that did not show respect to them.

"You are lucky. Bandits tend to kill their targets, after raping the women of course. Could you tell us how you managed to keep your life?"

"We ran as soon as we saw them. They seemed more interested in our belongings than chasing us although not before injuring my daughter and I."

"Your daughter? Where is she now?"

"Her injuries were many and she is resting now."

The liutenant nodded. "I see. When will your husband return?"

"He just left this morning so not for a few days."

"I see. I will want to speak with your husband when he returns. The bandits that attacked you might be the same ones that attacked a shipment. It is in your best interest to help us."

The liutenant waved Meric away.

"Thank you Sir." She said and left.

Meric tried to shake off the dirty feeling she had made by being polite to enemy soldiers but the feeling would not go away. Maybe a little archery would help her.

 

It was not long until Meric reached the spot they had hidden their weapons. Since the spot was relatively undisturbed she was fairly confident that no one had found it.

Meric found the edge of the oiled canvas they had used to cover everything and as they had covered the canvis itself with a heavy layer of dirt and rocks only someone who knew something was there was certain to find it without stepping right on it.

Meric carefully removed her bow and quiver, doing her best to not disturb the camoflage. She then looked around carefully to make sure no one had followed her. She had also been careful to watch for pursuers on the way here so unless someone had already been waiting here she was safe.

Now that Meric was certain she was alone she began shooting at a nearby tree.

Meric had been shooting for a while when she heard them. She immediately thought about the soldiers and hurried into the large collection of tall bushes and shrubs that had made this area so hard to see from the village.

"Are you sure she came this way?" She heard a male voice say.

"Not much better place to come and hide in the area." She heard another say.

Meric finally saw some people through the gaps in the foliage. They were not military but she could see the occasional glint of metal.

"Look at that." A third voice said. "She forgot to take her arrows out of the tree before she hid."

"The bushes." The second voice said. "Be careful, if she still has her bow she will be dangerous.

Meric heard the men talking quietly amongst themselves. They then moved apart and began to surround the bushes.

"Come out woman. You are worth more alive than dead." Said the first.

"I keep telling you a woman would not have been able to take out a military shipment." A fourth said.

"If she is one of those Flaern whores she might." The second said.

"We can find out later." The first said.

Meric readied her bow. She would take no pleasure in killing these men but she could not let them tip off the soldiers in the village.

"Come out, Flaern whore." The second said. "We promise to give you a good time before we give you to the soldiers."

Meric could not see the men well from her position but they were close enough that she should not have trouble hitting them.

She fired and immediately heard a scream. She then turned to the next man she could see and fired again he merely grunted and she heard him fall to the ground.

It was then that Meric took the opportunity to rush out of the bushes. The two remaining men were already near her in the bushes but she could not quite see them well enough to fire upon them and since she did not have a sword on her she would be in trouble if they got too close.

Meric burst out of the bushes. She saw no one waiting outside but it would only be moments until the remaining two men came out from the bushes behind her and as there was no way for her to outrun them, not that she would anyways, she had to face them.

Just before the closest of the men came out of the bushes Meric spun on her heels and readied her bow and as soon as he burst out of the bushes she loosed the arrow, which pierced his heart, killing him instantly. The last man burst out of the bushes less than a second later. She did not have enough time to ready another arrow and instead had to drop the bow as the man lept at her, a small dagger in his hand.

"Filthy whore!" He yelled as he slashed at her.

The man swung wildly at Meric. He appeared to have no training and she was easily able to dodge all of his attacks. She then grabbed his wrist, spun him around, and broke his arm making him drop his dagger.

The man screamed in pain and fell to his knees. Meric picked up her bow and walked in front of the man.

"Please! Please!" The man said, sobbing. "Do not kill me! I just wanted the money."

The man's death was quick.

 

 

 

Meric had finally made it back to the inn. She had hid the bodies as best she could in the bushes but chances were that others had known what they had left to do and it would not be long until someone got suspicious. She just had to hope it would be long enough for her to get herself and Ferra outside the village.

Ferra was not yet awake. Meric hoped the girl would wake up soon because it would be easier to move her if she was. Meric was sure the girl would wake up within the next day if she had not already in the hour or so she had been gone.

"Ferra." Meric said, shaking the girl.

Ferra mumbled. "Mama?"

"Yes it is Mama. I need you to wake up."

Ferra mumbled some more but did not wake up.

Meric decided to try again later and walked to the closest of the small windows. She looked through the wooden slats at what was going on outside and saw nothing suspicious.

An hour later Meric tried waking Ferra again but only got the same results. Meric thought about some ways that might be more effective at waking someone up. She decided on one and left the room.

Not much later Meric returned to the room holding a pitcher of water.

"Wake up Ferra." Meric said, shaking her one last time.

Meric saw that she was going to have to resort to the water. She had no intention of being gentle with the water and simply dumped the entire contents onto Ferra.

"Ahh!" Ferra screamed. "Cold!"

The girl nearly sat straight up but stopped and grabbed her side, her face contorted in pain.

"What? Why?" Ferra said obviously confused.

"You have been sleeping for nearly four days straight." Meric said.

"I have?"

"You lost a lot of blood."

"It feels like it. My head feels light."

Ferra looked herself over.

"How bad are they?"

"Nothing serious. You should be fully recovered in a few weeks time."

"Where is everyone else? Are they all fine?"

"They are all fine. They are simply getting a new cart and retrieving the goods we left behind."

Ferra nodded slowly. "When will they be back?"

"We should see them soon."

Ferra tried sitting up again but it was not long until her head fell back onto her wet pillow.

Ferra's eyes narrowed and she felt around her wet bedding with her hands. "Why did you dump water on me?"

Meric explained the situation to Ferra. It was too risky to stay in the village longer than necessary and Meric wanted to leave sometime that night, if things had not turned sour before then.

"We have to warn Papa." Ferra said.

"I plan on intercepting them. The only problem is moving you." Meric said.

"Maybe you could hide me outside the village? I should be fine if you leave me with food and water."

Meric shook her head. "In your state wild animals would easily be able to kill and consume you."

"Then what? You cannot carry me."

"I will take care of it." Meric said. "For now we need to see how well you can move."

 

It had been a few hours since the sun had gone down. Meric was now watching the small outpost where the five soldiers assigned to this town were stationed. The lights had just gone out inside and only two of the soldiers were awake.

The two soldiers were slowly patrolling the village streets, their torches making them easy to spot and track. It was near the far edge of their patrol route that Meric was waiting for them with her bow. Here it was unlikely that any of the other soldiers could hear any cries for help they made.

She attacked. The surprise of her attack and the swiftness of it had given them no time to react so her concern about them raising an alarm had been unwarranted.

Now with the two patroling soldiers gone Meric had finished the easy part of her plan. The next part was risky but would hopefully be quick.

Meric picked up the two jars of lamp oil, which she had purchased earlier in the day, after hiding the bodies of the soldiers and taking one of their torches. She then headed quickly to the barracks.

Upon Meric's arrival she saw that no light was coming from inside. She did not want to risk being wrong and hid her torch behind a nearby building before creeping up to one of the windows of the barracks. She looked inside and saw that not only was none of them awake but had all fallen unconcious because of heavy drink as evidenced by the flasks and bottles littering the tables. Only one of the soldiers had made it to a bed.

Meric decided that she could risk foregoing the fire and take care of each man herself. This would give her all night to leave if so needed as there would be no fire to wake the villagers.

Meric opened the door slowly and crept inside. The floor squeeked as she walked but none of the soldiers showed any signs of noticing.

She reached the soldier closest to the door. She picked his head up, covered his mouth and slit his throat with one of the daggers she had taken from the men who had attacked her earlier. She repeated this two more times.

Now that the soldiers were out of the way Meric made her way to the stables behind the barracks. There was only a small carriage and a single horse but it was all she needed.

Meric readied the carriage as quickly as she could and not much later she was pulling away from the barracks. Her next goal was to return to the soldiers she had first killed. The carriage she had just stolen had the markings of the Toa Mirr army and it would be extremely suspicious if someone not wearing armor, especially a woman, were driving it so she needed to get some but since she was in a hurry she merely loaded the two bodies into the carriage instead of stripping them there.

Next she found Ferra. Meric had carried her just outside of town just after twilight and as she had not been far from Meric's amush point it only took a minute to reach the spot.

"You did it!" Ferra said excitedly.

Meric jumped down from the driver's seat on the front of the carriage and picked the girl up.

"Do not mind the bodies. I will dispose of them soon." Meric said just before she opened to door to the carriage.

Ferra did not look happy. "Okay."

Meric placed Ferra on one of the benches inside and then returned to the driver's seat. She then drove to the spot she had been earlier in the day. Not only did she want to retrieve the weapons that had been left there but it would also be a good place to leave the bodies of the two soldiers.

Meric stripped one of the soldiers of his armor. It disgusted her but it needed to be done. She did not look forward to wearing it either.

She then loaded all the weapons but a sword and her bow into the storage compartment on the carriage.

All that was left to do was hide the bodies.

 

Pali and the two boys had been traveling for half a day back towards where they had left Meric and Ferra. They had gotten their new wagon and donkey and were anxious to get back.

Pali had just driven off the side of the road to let an oncoming army carriage by. He and the boys were doing the usual by facing the carriage and bowing their heads, hoping they would be ignored.

Instead the carriage stopped directly in front of them. He and the boys gave each other nervous looks.

"Raise your heads." A feminine voice said.

Pali looked up and saw Meric staring down at him.

Pali and neither of the boys said anything and merely gaped at her.

"Stop staring and unload the carriage." She said, almost looking amused.

"Is Ferra inside?" Pali said.

"Yes, and our weapons are in the storage compartment."

Pali looked both ways down the road. He could not see anyone.

"Come on." Pali said to the boys.

While Pali was unloading Meric updated him on what had happed and why they had to leave.

When Meric had finished Pali remembered why they had been so anxious to get back.

"Our friend gave us some information that might be about Salis." Pali said.

"Really!" Ferra said excitedly.

Pali retrieved a sheet of paper from the wagon. "Unfortunately it is like this."

"A wanted poster?" Meric said.

"Salis is worth three thousand gold." Dario said reverently.

"Yes, it even gives a general location for her wherabouts." Pali said, ignoring Dario's comment.

"Where?" Ferra said.

"A canyon on the other side of Lake Eto."

"How did she get over there?" Meric said.

"I do not know but the poster is a few weeks old so it is not likely she is still there." Pali said.

"Where do you think we should look?" Meric said.

"Eto. I imagine if she has been captured she would be taken there. If not we can ask around and see if there are any rumors or information. The only problem is that it specifically says it wants her dead so we need to hurry."

Meric nodded.

"I think she played one too many pranks on a noble." Dario said.

"The sad thing is…" Pali said. "I would not be surprised if that was true."

Calren nodded in agreement.

"We should hurry." Meric said. "The girl is resourceful but knowing her the wanted poster will not be her only problem."

Everyone nodded.

"To Eto!" Ferra yelled.


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