Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Chronicles of the Baron of Crows part 2

Night had descended in the Forest of Shadows. Even in the brightest part of the day the forest floor lay in a deep darkness, but at night not even the trunks of trees could be seen. All lights in the Forest of Shadows heralded death. Witchlights lead to a cold death beneath the earth and campfires lead to a brutal and bloody death by the hands of brigands or beastmen. For the weak to bring light into the forest it brought their own death with it. Mortimer was powerful in the world of men because of his wealth and connections, but he no longer lived in the world of men. However among the six followers who had survived with him there were several fighters. They had been lucky to not lose anyone when they had managed to overtake the small group of drunken beastmen, but that luck would not keep them alive. One of his followers, Felix Zouche, was not a warrior, but he had powers of his own and though minor in the face of the great magic of chaos they were enough that he would be burned by the witch hunters for possessing them. Felix had granted the seven of them witch sight that allowed them to see even in the night of the Forest of Shadows. The ritual had taken most of the day and all of the hearts of the beastmen they had slain.

The knights' fire barely kept the darkness of the forest at bay. There was little wind blowing through the clearing yet the shadows created by the fire seemed to move and shift constantly. There were five knights sleeping on mats around the fire. Their armor and weapons lay in easy reach of their sleeping forms and their horses were tied up at the terminus of the fire's light where the shadows of the forest began to encroach. A sixth knight keeping watch. His armored form was tense and alert with his head bare to allow for a greater view of the menacing shadows. Mortimer could see that there was more caution than fear in the knight's eyes as they moved over the perimeter of the camp. It was only a matter of time before others would be attracted to the light of the fire and this deadly prize might be stolen from his rightful hands. Mortimer decided that the opportunity was too good to pass up or to let anyone take from him. The knights' armor and superior weapons would go a long way towards increasing his power, not to mention the horses. He and Johan made their way back to the others waiting in the darkness of the forest.

"...and Myles you will take the horses," Mortimer finished. He had little trouble explaining the plan he had devised on his way from the knights' camp for it was simple enough for even Myles, his somewhat simple cousin, to understand. The others had been eager to get their hands on the weapons and armor that the knights had brought into their forest. They were also eager to spill the blood of others in the name of their diseased lord Nurgle. The weapons they had gathered from the beastmen were rusted with little edge left and of little use after a few battles. But they would be enough for sleeping knights wearing no armor. The knight on watch was another matter however and it was decided that Olaf would deal with him. Olaf had once been a Ravens Knight until his particular indiscretions with the dead were discovered. He fled the Order and was welcomed into the Cavendish household as the Baron's bodyguard. He was a powerful addition to the Cavendish household and easily the strongest fighter among them.

The seven men quietly made their way through the woods toward the camp, taking every precaution to make no sound as they moved. Each man took his position around the campsite, pairing himself with a sleeping knight. Olaf matched the knight on guard. His attack would signal the others. Olaf sprang from a crouch behind the watchful knight a sword in one hand and a dagger in the other. The knight sensed the attack as it was sprung, but not in time to avoid injury. As the knight dodged left, away from Olaf's sword swing, Olaf pierced his side with his dagger. The knight's cry of pain turned to a cry of warning for the sleeping knights. As Olaf leapt at the guard the others had charged their targets. At the knight's cry two of the "sleeping" knights sprang from the mats, swords in hand. They had been cautious in the Forest of Shadows and expected ambush. Three guards were far better than one. Two of the remaining knights died to the daggers of Myles and Johan. The third managed to get to his sword before Mortimer plunged his own sword through the knight's neck. Mortimer left his sword in the knight's neck and grabbed the knight's from the ground where his spasming hands had dropped it.

Two of Mortimer's men were killed by the knights who had feigned sleep. Mortimer and Johan, who had picked up a dead knight's sword, moved towards the onrushing knights as Myles fled toward the horses. Knowing they were outnumbered the knights attempted to reach their companion, but Mortimer and Johan kept them divided. Neither Mortimer nor Johan were as trained a fighter as the knights and they were being driven back by the fierceness of their attackers. Behind them they could hear Olaf struggling with the wounded knight.

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