The sound of clanking armor and approaching footsteps echoed through the dark streets. It was obvious that the marchers didn't care if they were heard. In fact, it sounded like they were trying to make more noise than was necessary.
Erric Deleyn closed his eyes and listened. He tried to count how many armor-clad boots were pounding toward them. Not that the numbers mattered. If there were two Alessians or ten, Erric knew it would how this was going to end. "Someone's going to stick a blade right through my head," he thought.
Erric felt a hand touch his shoulder and he opened his eyes. Calinden, the mercenary Ayleid knight with the long-flowing golden hair squeezed his shoulder reassuringly. "Stick close to me," Calinden said.
A sense of calm came over Erric as he nodded in response. It was as if the Ayleid knight knew exactly what Erric was thinking. Erric would have taken more comfort in that thought if the sounds of the footsteps weren't getting closer and louder.
Kish'na, a Khajiiti warrior on Erric's other side, pulled two blades from their sheaths and held one up. She wanted them to hold for her signal. The other mercenaries in the alley shifted back and forth, excitement and fear shining in their eyes as they waited for the order to attack.
More steps. Louder. Louder. And then silence.
Erric looked around in surprise. Why had the unseen marchers stopped? The rest of the mercenary band seemed as confused as he was. Except for Kish'na and Calinden. Kish'na's raised blade did not move.
Erric would later learn that what happened next is what usually happens when you hire people willing to stab other people with swords and daggers. The mercenaries grow impatient and become eager to spill blood so they can collect their gold. Usually, this break in discipline brings such hired soldiers to their end that much quicker. And, unfortunately, it was Erric's group that broke first.
"Kill those bastards!"
The yell rang out from someone behind and to the left of where Erric was standing. Suddenly they were rushing forward, more a tangled mass than a fighting formation. Erric was pushed to the side as weapon waving mercenaries shoved past him.
"What are those idiots doing?" Kish'na demanded as the mercenaries left the cover of the alley. She shook her head in frustration but run out after them, her twin blades drawn and ready.
Calinden turned to Erric. "Remember what I said." And with that, the Elf pulled the large blade from the sheath on his back and ran to join the fray.
Erric felt panic overwhelm him and he stood frozen in place. The clang of weapons and shield. The roars of battle. The screams of pain. Everything sounded muffled to Erric's ears. His feet felt stuck to the cobbled street. The war had arrived, and Erric could only watch it unfold before him.
After an eternity that really only lasted a few seconds, Erric was finally able to move. He lifted one foot and placed in front of the other. Slowly, deliberately, he repeated this action until he reached the edge of the alley wall. Erric took a steadying breath. Then he peered around the wall.
|The Ivory Lord: A Hero Born|
|The Ivory Lord: A Hero Born, V. 1||The Ivory Lord: A Hero Born, V. 2||The Ivory Lord: A Hero Born, V. 3|