"Surrender yourself Viking and I shall let your accomplice go free!"
The Iron Viking's eyes darted towards the Count from behind a heavy mask concealing of an unknown identity. Had the Count and his men truly captured Simon? Was the Count of Fisco bluffing? Without realizing it the Viking's hand brushed upon a gun attached to a holster.
"Not a wise choice." The Count snapped his fingers and two hellish looking henchmen appeared from somewhere beyond the foliage of the forest.
The Viking calculated the time it would take to return to the Astrieus on foot, running of course. An hours time. Simon would be gone with the ship by then upon strict orders to flee if the Viking hadn't returned within the hour with the talisman that was stolen from the Counts personal lair. But what good would the emerald stoned necklace be if one couldn't live to experience it's allure? The talisman was meant to bring luck and fortune to those it claimed, or in this case those who claimed it.
As the henchmen approached the argument the Viking gripped the handle of a silver bladed rapier with one hand while flexing the fingers on the other hand; constricting and expanding brass knuckles.The gesture did not go unnoticed by the count. The count snapped his fingers again and the henchmen lunged for the viking, creating a vice like barrier on each arm. " Lets see if your reputation proceeds you. Does the great Iron Viking never speak?"
Silence confirmed the counts speculation.
"Aye. Not much of a conversationalist, but surely you'll cry out for mercy." In a swift motion the count drew his sword and swiped it across the Iron Vikings neck, creating a shallow cut. " What kind of man are you. Your skin is soft and hairless." The count and his henchmen roared with laughter, causing the Vikings breath to come quick from behind the signature mask of iron.
Upon their overplayed laughter, the henchmens' grip loosened on the Viking's arms. The Viking took advantage of the situation and tore away from their grasp then withdrew the silver bladed rapier. The Count and the henchmen were quick to retaliate, each withdrawing their own swords as well.
" Tell us where the talisman is and we shall spare the First Mate," the Count coaxed.
By now the Iron Viking could easily read someone's intentions. The count was a power hungry war lord who indirectly caused the death of innocent lives with his harsh rule. He was not to be trusted.
The Viking's head shook defiantly even as the henchmen raised their swords. Three against one, the fight wasn't fair. Luckily the Iron Viking had little concern invested in fair matters. Slowly the Viking backed away until it was safe to turn and run- enough so that the henchmen would have to chase after the Viking in the wake that was created.
At once the bulky henchmen rushed towards masked vigilante as was unexpected. The Viking made no attempt to move but simply assumed a wider stance at the last moment; outstretching the brass knuckled fist and the rapier simultaneously. In the same moment the henchmen who assumed either side of the Viking came to an abrupt and merciless halt. The smaller henchman met the artfully crafted brass glove, while the larger of the two ran himself into the rapier's blade. This resulted in a fatal chest wound for the large man. The men crumpled to the ground in a bloody mess.
Realizing his men had underestimated their opponent and been brutally injured, the Count charged the Iron Viking himself.
The Count's claymore could do far more damage than the silver bladed rapier. The Iron Viking studied the Count. The Count's shoulders tensed and his jaw clenched. He charged, but the Viking sensed his actions before they ever happened. The Viking dropped the rapier and rolled out of the way, leaving the Count to stumble. Quickly the Viking retrieved the rapier before the Count found his footing again.
Aggravated, the Count let out a disgruntled growl. “Take your mask off you coward, so I may have the pleasure of watching the life fade from your eyes!”
The Iron Viking suppressed a laugh.
Who would be foolish enough as to oblige such a request?
The Count and Viking charged each other from equal distances. The metal of their swords met and clashed hard enough so that the tiniest of sparks were visible. Strategically the Viking made no such move as to strike the Count but rather allow his heavier sword to tire him out while trying to keep up with the faster lightweight of the rapier.
The constant clash and turnover of the swords brought beads of perspiration to the Viking's own skin. Their swords tangled relentlessly while they circled around each other as if engaged in some sort of tribal dance. The swords accompanied the movement with a unique song.
The Count had more endurance than was assumed by the Viking. In one sloppy, tired moment the harsh blow of his claymore knocked the rapier out of the Vikings hands. The Viking purposefully fell to the ground to avoid being cut by the other sword.
The Count knelt over the Viking. Though the Viking tried to squirm out of the Count's reach he had the upper hand as the claymore was still pointed at it's intended target.
“Now I shall expose you so I can see your ugly smug face for myself!” The Count spat. His hand's reached towards the iron mask.
The Viking's eyes closed instinctively as the Count's meaty fingers reached for the eye holes of the mask.
But his fingers never met the Viking's face.
Curiously, the Iron Viking's eyes opened. The Count was slack jawed, his mouth left to hang open. His beady eyes became wide as the color drained from his face. A high screech, like that of a dieing rabbit, was the last sound the Count ever made. The count rolled over and fell to his side. Only now could the Viking see the cause of his death. A familiar looking throwing ax was sticking out of the Count's back, just inches from his spine.
“Rayna!” A voice called from the clearing of the forest.
The Viking stood up and peeled the mask away from her face.. She smiled and nearly wept with relief at the sight of her First Mate only yards away. “Simon,” she whispered breathlessly. She reached in the pocket of her trousers made for a boy, but hemmed to fit her slim figure. She held the talisman up so Simon could see that his efforts of helping her were not in vein. Her fingers were sticky with blood as she waved the chain of the emerald talisman manically.
Simon offered her a broad smile. “Tonight we shall celebrate. The Asterius is victorious, yet again. I think it's time to round up the crew and move on to greater challenges.”
Rayna nodded as she threw the talisman to Simon. She couldn't agree more.