Chapter Fifteen: Lambs to the Slaughter

Jonrah had approached now, curious as to the situation he found himself in.

There was seemingly no explanation for the four bodies that lay before them. No others knew of The Eden's existence, no men of Litana, at least. And what was more confusing was that in the horrible mess, there was no sign of Gurden, nor Jodar, which was both bad and good at the same time.

'This must have been the key camp for the Litana faction, but where is that bastard, Gurden?' Lorda asked, venom audible in his words.

Jonrah took a quick peak in each of the tents, but found nothing of interest nor use.

'Gurden was the leader of the faction. Maybe he had planned to return, then discovered the bodies and fled with my son.' Jonrah found this to be a genuine possible scenario, and Lorda agreed.

'This was probably the work of Rangers. They probably approached peacefully, unaware of the evil of the cult, and after The Eden made the first move, the Rangers took them down.'

'That would explain why there are arrow-wounds but none visible,' Jonrah said. 'The Rangers aim to conserve their weapons, retrieving them when it is possible.'

'That must be it, then.'

As Lorda turned to return to his steed, he realised that they had lingered too long, and were now in mortal danger.

Coming up from the south, but yet to notice their presence, three men clad in the red cloaks of The Eden approached on horseback.

'Jonrah,' Lorda whispered as silently and yet as audibly as possible.

Jonrah turned to look, but wasn't instantly able to make out what Lorda was seeing.

Lorda made a gesture, directing Jonrah's gaze to the horsemen who were gradually getting closer. They had to make a decision now; stay and fight or flee and risk a chase through the trees.

Without a word to each other, Jonrah strung his bow and Lorda withdrew his swords from their sheaths on his back.

Pulling the bow until it was taut, Jonrah released his first arrow as Lorda took his first few running steps toward the enemy. Jonrah would send a few arrows to try and pick them off, and then he would join Lorda.

The arrow flew straight and true, narrowly missing a tree and plummeting into the stomach of the leftmost rider. He was thrown from his horse by the sheer power of the arrow, and his horse gave a great neigh and fled the scene. It took the other two riders until now to realise they were under attack.

Weaving through the trees, trying to stay hidden from sight, Lorda heard the second arrow whistle past him, probably only inches from his ears, but he did not flinch. In battles such as this, Lorda and several others were used to being narrowly missed by their own arrows - running ahead and taking the enemy be surprise was his forte.

Lorda watched the arrow skim off a tree and lose its power, dropping to the floor only feet away from the riders who were now galloping in his direction, narrowly avoiding the trees that surrounded them.

They were yet to notice that their attackers numbered two rather than one, and this theory was proven when they ran past Lorda, ignoring him until the moment when the rider on the right felt something penetrate his chest.

Staying put in his saddle, Lorda used his sword as a handhold and swung himself up and onto the stirrup of the horse, using it as a foothold as he used his other sword to lop the man's head of, letting it bounce to the ground below.

Blood poured from the open wound, but Lorda ignored it, pulling his sword from the now unbeating heart and throwing the body from the horse.

His tan leather armour was now soaked in blood, and as he regained control of the horse which had slowed down during the melee, Lorda realised that he had just raced past the pin-cushion of a body of the last remaining rider; at least seven arrows protruding from the chest.

He saw Jonrah standing triumphant only fifty metres away, and so he brought the speed of the horse down to a gentle trot, stopping alongside Jonrah.

Hopping off the horse, Lorda said, 'So, you seem to have regained your talent for archery.'

'It would seem so, old friend.'

'I suppose we'll have to wait to see how your fare in combat with a real weapon.' Lorda smiled, finally happy to be able to make such comments towards his former mentor and teacher.

His smile was interrupted as he saw Jonrah's hand move to his side, going for his shortsword. Lorda, way ahead of him, re-equipped his sheathed swords and crossed them over, easily parrying Jonrah's playful blow.

'We need to oil you up, Jonrah,' Lorda said, smiling.

Jonrah smiled too, knowing that Lorda was only trying to provoke him jokingly. He was right though, it was likely that Jonrah would not be able to pick up his old swordsmanship as easily as he regained his skill with a bow. Maybe it would be necessary for ... he shuddered to think it ... recieve some training from his old student.

Putting such thoughts aside, he asked, 'Any survivors? We need information regarding this slaughter.' Jonrah indicated the campsite behind him.

'Well, unless The Eden have magical healing powers, or amazing powers to grow back heads, then I assume that the only survivor will be the one thrown from his horse.'

'Hell be dying,' said Jonrah, 'but not dead yet. Yet...'

Releasing a chuckle, Lorda released the horse he had hijacked, and returned to his own faithful steed, mounting it and riding side by side with Jonrah, dodging trees with a new lust for adventure.

Jonrah felt the same. As serious as the situation was, he would not wish to share his quest with anybody else but his dearest friend, former pupil, and what looked to be his future teacher.

The two adventurers rode, passing the bodies of the deceased Eden members, until they saw what they had been hoping for; a man, cloaked in red, an arrow protruding from his stomach, desperately trying to crawl from the danger that no doubt was waiting to befall him.

The End

56 comments about this story Feed