The morning came fast and the heat did as well, to Bain’s enjoyment. Malkoff might have liked the morning warmth, but the man’s rocky face was nearly impossible to read. Pity. It was always good to know what a man thought, be they ally or enemy.
The two men quickly packed and made haste. The sun may have just rose, but Bain was in mood to wait for the day to fully start. Malkoff seemed aware of this as well. With luck, Horus was already in Bain’s home of Garrison’s March by now. Well, it was a long shot, but still. Elizabeth must live… Bain needed her, as did their child.
“Something troubling you?” Malkoff asked from his mount. Bain looked to him, once again wondering if this man was truly a user of such sorceries as he had seen just the day before. No! He must focus on the task at hand. Once he knew Elizabeth to be safe, he could question this man.
“Nothing of the sort,” Bain replied, “I am only anxious to see my wife in all her health once more. Surely you have had loved ones in the past whom you were happy to see?”
The man’s face darkened only slightly before he nodded. “Only some I remember. Vier, to be exact.”
“Vier?” Bain questioned.
The large man laughed, making a deep rumbling sound that could hardly pass as a laugh in Bain’s eyes. “That is four in your language. One day I shall teach you to speak as I can.”
Bain sniffed. “And why do I need to know any other language than my own. It has suited me well for my entire life.” Bain found it hard to act nice to a man such as this, he always had. Yet, the only thing keeping him from pushing this man away was that sense of familiarity. It was eerie.
Malkoff looked ahead. “During a fight, it is useful to speak to your allies in ways your enemies do not understand.”
Bain followed Malkoff’s sight and realized a large group of black-cloaked men were on the trail ahead. It couldn’t be…
“Malkoff, are you prepared to fight?”
Malkoff nodded and pulled a blade from somewhere in his cloak. “I am always ready.”
The cloaked men started to charge once they saw Bain and Malkoff. Now closer, Bain realized they were in fact the same as the cultists from Grates. Thin fabric shrouded their faces. Chanting linked their movements. They even moved as if they were puppets. They would die. No one tried to kill and lived without facing justice!
Malkoff charged ahead of Dalzig and Bain, using every bit of his horse’s stamina to push by. Just before crashing in, he leapt into the fray. Was he a madman? No, Bain had seen him fight before. This man was just as good as Bain himself, if not better. No need to worry then. The only thing to do was focus on fighting.
Bain charged the enemy, moving into Straight Blade as he did. Luckily, they were focused on Malkoff, who was swinging wildly in the midst of the cultists. There seemed to be a few dozen. Not for long. Bain sliced the first three he came across with ease, relieving them of their swords and their heads. It felt good to fight once more. It reminded him of the older days where the only thing awaiting him after killing bandits and the like was the embrace of his wife.
Dismounting, Bain fought four of the black-clad cultists before shoving through to Malkoff, who already was surrounded by a good bit of corpses. Together, the men fought. The cultists seemed weaker than the ones in Grates even. After only a few minutes, a dozen or so of the remaining men ran off, their chanting halted. Such cowards.
“What is it?”
Malkoff pointed to a blood soaked sword on the ground. “That blade never hit me, and yet it is covered in blood.”
Bain was confused only for a moment. Of course! Wait… “This is bad…” Looking to the road leading to Garrison’s March. “Very bad…” Whistling, Bain started to run. Malkoff ran towards where his horse had fled as well. If those cultists had come from Garrison’s March… Elizabeth! Bain mounted Dalzig as soon as the horse reached his side. It was only a few more hours to Hackels. Dalzig could run that far without dying. He had to!
Onward they ran, Malkoff long lost in the dust. Bain had not noticed though. His only goal was the road ahead. He had to reach Heckels. He had to reach Elizabeth. He had to make sure she was OK! The hours seemed to pass at a rate slower than the droughts. Each moment was agony on Bain’s mind. He could deal with any wound, but the uncertainty of knowing whether his wife was alive or dead was killing him.