Bin stepped forward, readying his stance. He winked at the Archiwrecks.
“Let’s go then,” He said. “Mage battle, twenty-to-one.”
“Seven,” Kleb corrected.
“Right. You guys get some too.”
The Archiwrecks looked at each other. They hefted pickaxes, swords, even a few wands. But they did so cautiously. If the lone child of the group was so skilled, and the dwarf accidentally neutralized three others, what could the rest of the group be like?
The leader burst out of the trees. The hood was torn from his face, showing that he was human, though riddled with welts and bruises. He screamed aloud, and looked at the group.
“What are you waiting for?” He howled. “Kill them!”
Some tried. Others held back. And as Nutrose watched from a distance, hidden in the eaves of a poplar tree, he could see that the Archiwrecks were very much an open-vision gang of evil. It was a group made up of those who wanted power, and the rumor of old wealth appealed greatly to them. For some, joining up was to conquer, and for others a way to feel less small.
Those who charged forward already felt they had strength. Whether it was working mines, or construction, or growing out of local gangs, they had proven strength the old-fashioned way: by beating up anyone who came close to them. A few even had staffs, and the gnome sisters were hard at work countering any spell that came close to the dwelling.
If the Archiwrecks were made up of killers, the adventure would have ended this evening. But far more of the group were scholars, and not particularly good ones at that. They had grown up frail, or without magic, or human. Beaten down by the world, the Archiwrecks were the only ones that seemed to offer them a true path to becoming more than the nothings they saw themselves as.
Nutrose saw this, and tucked it away. And he noted, as the fighting broke out, that Kleb fell to an axe strike.
The troll screamed, clutching at his side. His shirt was in tatters, and underneath blood flowed. He passed out, crashing to the ground.
“Enough!” Goldmight shouted. He flew up into the air, and pointed at the leader. “Blood has been spilt, the blood of mine. Return to whence you came, or suffer my wrath.”
“We do not take orders from dandy little pixies,” The leader shouted.
“Dandy?” Goldmight glowed. “I am a student of Luxar, the Light. I can call down the very sun upon your heads, or the moonbeams howling through your ears. Last warning, human. Turn back or die.”
Goldmight smirked. “That’s my line.”
He sang. A pure, long note. The clearing filled with light, golden light of the midday sun. Archiwrecks cried out in pain, and clutched at their eyes. They couldn’t see, what was that fairy doing to them? What had he done?
Too much, it seemed. For his own party spent the next ten minutes blinking the spots out of their eyes as the nighttime darkness returned. The Archiwrecks were gone, all fled. Where the leader had stood, only a spot of blood and ash marked the land. From the look on Goldmight’s face, it did not indicate victory.
Even if it had, there was Kleb. He was pale, and shivering. The troll scrabbled around with his hand, and found Bin’s own.
“Kid,” Kleb said. “You know what to do.”
Bin nodded. His hand lit with flame. He sealed the wound. Kleb cried once more, and passed out.
“Is he ok?” Ruby looked on in horror.
Bin shook his head. “No. He’s in really bad shape. He needs medical attention.”
“No,” Goldmight said. “We go on.”
“Kleb’s in trouble!” Ona protested.
“And we can’t carry him anyways,” Nutrose said, emerging from the trees. “But closer to the Glass Cliffs is a small inn, where healers often travel.” He patted Ona on the head. “If you can get him there, he should be fine with rest and a little tending.”
Nutrose perched on the dwarf’s shoulder. “We all keep our promises,” he whispered. “You keep yours to Kleb, and I’ll keep mine to you.”
If any noticed the exchange, they did not make mention of it. In the middle of the night, the rest of the Leaves too shaken for sleep, they moved on into the darkness.
copyright 2018 Jack Holder