The reaver thrust his sword across Ludo’s belly. Ludo’s blade hacked down partially parrying the thrust, then swept up to slash the throat of the reaver. The reaver swayed back and the slash missed. Ludo backed away from the reaver in pain, this man was good, and Ludo knew he faced a killer.
“Come here boy, I will cut out your heart and feed it to the wolves.”
Ludo circled the man not rising to the bait. He moved in and began a savage attack on the reaver, three times their blades clashed, the reaver was parried each attack, suddenly Ludo felt a savage blow, which left a intense burning sensation.
Hasan mounted quickly and turned the horse into the woods at a gallop. The animal’s great pace quickly brought the elf within sight of Ludo’s attack of the remaining Ringman. It was a long shot, and especially a horse and in the woods, but the elf drew an arrow and let fly from 200 yards. The arrow whistled past the combatants harmlessly, but the elf had no regrets. Both Ludo and his opponent now knew: help was here.
Ludo was severely wounded, but ignored the pain and fought on, encouraged by the elf’s presence. He was quicker than the armoured reaver, and could see that that the reaver was tiring, blood pooling down his face from the cut that Ludo has inflicted earlier. He took heart and began a blistering attack on the reaver who kept retreating from the cuts and thrusts of Ludo’s attack until he fell backwards having tripped on a tree root, Ludo’s sword thrust forward and slid deep into the neck of the reaver severing the spine. The reaver gasped once and died. Ludo turned around muttering to the corpse “never call me boy”.
Stephan raced on his horse first to where Miklos had neatly ensnared his prey. It took only a second to see that Miklos had things well in hand. Stephan turned the horse, urging it to gallop to where Ludo and now Hasan were engaged with the other reaver.
As he approached, he saw the reaver trip backwards. The rogue seemed to anticipate his opponent’s mishap and moved fluidly with the reaver’s fall — his sword delivering a killing blow.
Stephan brought his horse to an abrupt stop at the scene. “Well,” he said with some humor, “I’m here to save the day. I suppose no one is going to save that fellow’s neck, however.”
While the Stephen and Hasan bolted for horses, the dwarf moved towards the remaining ensnared Iron Ring fighters. One look at them told him all he needed to know. There would be no ‘reasoning’ with the captured brainwashed minions of the Iron Ring. They would provide no information on their higher ups, likely cause they knew nothing of them. He dealt with them quickly and efficiently.
Maruc breathlessly caught up with Ludo as he withdrew his sword from their collapsing Ring leader. “Give me a second.” he gasped as he caught his breath. “Well fought!” Maruc grinned, “Now lets see if we can patch you up.” Maruc administered to the wounded rogue.
Ludo grabbed Maruc’s arm and hauled himself to his feet. “Thank you Maruc for your faith and praise Halav for his healing benevolence.” Picking up his backpack and bow, he grimaced in pain as though his wounds were no longer life threatening, they had not yet been fully healed. He strode with Maruc to where Miklos and Feldard were interrogating the prisoner.
The priest looked at the corpse. His tattoo plain to see. “So Gothar is hiring men from the Iron Ring. He must have some influence with them. Or access to a lot of money….or the promise of a lot of money. In which case, he is playing a dangerous game. Not least with us. Come Nicolai…” grief touched the priests face. “Sorry. Ludo. Let us see what Miklos has uncovered.” He returned to the camp.
Miklos disarmed the entrapped man. He bound his legs and arms and started to drag the trussed man toward the camp. It wasn’t long before the others joined him and they were soon back at their makeshift camp.
Miklos gaze swept the neat row of corpses and back to Feldard. Well if this didn’t get the Reaver’s attention, there was no getting information out of him.
He sat the prisoner facing the line of corpses. No use in messing about. Perhaps he might accidentally confirm Miklos’s fears. They had nothing but conjecture to go on so far.
“You have been hired by Golthar to follow us. Your mission to slay us in our sleep and retrieve something. This would have failed anyway as we do not have that which you seek,” lied Miklos. “For you not to join your friends over there, all I require is a simple nod. Feldard is nothing if not efficient and ruthless.”
The prisoners eyes flicked from Miklos to Feldard to the line of corpses.
Bors was scared. He had to choose between death, here and now, and possibly death with a heaping dose of torture somewhere in the future at the hands of Golthar or one of the others. If he somehow managed to survive this interrogation, he supposed he could probably hide in some other land. The Ring’s reach did not extend far beyond the Duchy. He decided to take his chances.
“Ok, ok. I’ll tell ya everythin’ I know. Me name is Bors. And yeah, I be with The Ring. I be no slaver though. Just a soldier. Like you,” he gestured to Stephan, grunting with pain from his wounds, hoping to garner some sort of empathy. “And Golthar didn’t hire us. He be one of us. Not a Reaver like me, he be one o’ the Masters.”
“What I really want to know you are unlikely to be able to tell me,” Miklos pressed. “What deal has been made between the Sons of Night and the Iron Ring? I very much doubt the Iron Ring would touch the Sons of Night if they knew what they were planning. We know, but do you?”
“Never heard o’ no Sons of Night, but nuthin’ would surprise me ‘bout that freak,” said Bors. “He be tearing up the countryside looking for ancient artifacts and dusty ol’ scrolls. Now he got the whole lot of us lookin’ for some magic map. Sayin’ it be showin’ the way to the ancient riches and dark magicks. He got all the Masters worked up over it now. And he got us followin’ you lot over it.”
“Listen,” he begged, tears welling in his eyes. “I’ll tell ya anything I be knowin’. All I ask is ya let me go after. I won’t be causin’ ya no more trouble. The Ring will be wantin’ my head now, so my days with them be over.”