The Mercenary

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She wiped her leaf shaped spear tip on the soft moss of a birch tree, the thick black blood which stained the golden weapon smearing over the soft greens of the trees slender bark. As she cleaned her weapon, her eyes darted back and forth amongst the trees, for where there was one Orc, there were bound to be others. She looked down at the corpse of the raider she had slain, its heavy ringmaille tunic cleaved from breast to belly, oozing sickly black blood, similar in appearance to the pitch drawn from the marshlands to fuel the torches of adventurers. The Orc had been a leader of its kind, a captain of sorts. She knew this from the rams-skull helm it had worn until she knocked it clean from its head with a sweeping blow meant for its chin. The creature was larger then the normal Uruk kai, that being what they call their peoples, in that it was a full 5’10” instead of the average height, which averaged at around 5’2”. She’d always thought it odd, when she heard tales of the monstrous Orcs as a child, she imagined them being as tall as en Elven warrior, and twice as broad, and although they were always well muscled, they were rarely ever this tall. “Their true strength lies in their numbers”, she remembered her former tacticians tutor telling her, and he was correct. One on their own is hardly a match for a well armed human, let alone a trained Mercenary, but in packs, they can be pressing.

She sniffed the air and grimaced. As she’d guessed, more were on their way. Swiftly, she scaled the birch tree, and sat amongst the spring blossom, watching the soils below. Out from the brambles broke three more of the Orcs party, each with their weapons drawn. Orcs have a very acute sense of smell, and could probably smell her presence in the area. There was a great cry as they found their Captain, and a panicked argument ensued amongst them. With their leader dead, they would have to “elect” a new captain. The largest of their number turned to the others, and in a gruff tone elected himself as captain. Another of the Orcs, slightly smaller but just as well built stared at him, and challenged his claim. They shouted at one another for quite sometime, until the larger Orc drew his Scimitar, and swung heavily at his rival, cleaving his arm from his body. There was a howl of pain as “the would” be challenger fell to the floor, trying to stem the flow of his blood. The larger of the two swung again, connecting with his throat, therefore ending his grovelling cries. He then turned to the smaller Orc, as if to ask of his loyalty, but he simply bowed his head. With that, they went about looting their two dead companions, and set off into the woodlands again. The mercenary looked on disgusted at their lack of discipline and pity. She felt nausea in her stomach at the act she had witnessed, but she expected no less from such primitive beasts. She dropped from the tree without a sound, and took off after the Orcs, sprinting like the wind.

The forest at this time of the year was a sight to behold. The trees were alive with the explosions of blossom plooms, the trees no longer grim skeletons, but livid reminders of the joys of nature. Within the greened tree branches, small birds chirped their hunger to their mothers, who were stalking small prey to feed to their offspring. Along the ground, a small squirrel ran a short while, and then began digging at the base of a might Oak tree, hunting the Acorns it had stashed beneath the dark soils the autumn before. The air was still chilled despite the hazy sunshine that filtered between the trees and onto the bluebells that blanketed the forest floor, a reminder that winter had only just passed. It would get warmer as the day progressed, especially in the numerous small leys that held home to the ranger legions of the north.

The mercenary skidded to a halt before a clearing in the forest, pressing herself against the bark of an old, gnarled silver birch, craning her head around the old tree to scan the clearing. Ahead of her, she saw a number of small tents, crafted from the skins of large creatures, most likely to be bovine and lupen. There was a small camp fire, burnt down to half glowing embers, that smoked underneath a large black cooking pot supported by an a-frame constructed of twigs and hemp. Around the campfire, a number of logs had been moved to provide seating for the occupants of the ley. Scattered along the floor were remnants of the meal from the night before, bones and tattered pieces of flesh that leathered in the morning sun. Close to the campfire stood a solitary tree, dark and gaunt, and covered in barbaric sigils and symbols. To this was tied a young maiden, semi naked and gagged, staring at the heavens in prayer. She was badly bruised and looked to be both weary and half starved. Close to her feet laid a small goblin, her jailer, who was hiding away from the sunlight under a broken shield. From one of the tents, a large Orc emerged, clad in a large wolf pelt and brandishing a rusty battle-axe. He kicked the goblin with his hobnailed boot, causing the little wretch to squeal as it flew through the air, landing in the campfire. It pulled its self away from the embers, rubbing its head, and trying to clear the ashes out of its eyes.

“Whur da ‘ell dur yer tink yer doink!” Yelled the larger Orc, in a deep guttural tone, which terrified the smaller green skin. The goblin looked at the floor, in case the Orc took offence at it looking to his face.

“Iz diz zunziyn Kapin! Meh kunt zee ug skwig in fruntug meh fayz!” the goblin squeaked miserably. The larger Orc growled a curse in black tongue, the natural speech of the Uruk Hai, and slapped the goblin to one side.

”Yer iz gunnah tek wach, ug yer iz gunnah purrup wid diz zun, or meh will eyut yer ‘ole.” The Orc threatened. The goblin squeaked in fear, and ran back to the pole, forcing himself upwards in parody of a human. He saluted to the Orc, and held his spear close to him, covering his eyes with his free hand. The Orc grunted something to himself, and slinked back to his tent, staring at the Goblin one last time before he slipped inside. The goblin looked round to make sure his master had gone, then raised his middle finger in the direction of his tent.

“Meh saw dat!” The Orc called from inside his tent, and the goblin jumped to attention again, standing bolt upright, his knobbly knees shaking.

The sentry stood like this for sometime, ensuring that if his master were to come back out of his tent, he would be found to be doing his duty, and then he might avoid becoming the next meal. All this time the mercenary watched on, assessing the camp. She moved from her position, and circled the clearing, coming up to the other side; closer to the Goblin sentry. She reached to her belt and pulled free a long, slender throwing knife, the finest money could buy. It was stained black so that it would not reflect sunlight and attract its preys attention, and along the blade, there was a single symbol, a dragon in a circle. She flicked out her arm, and the throwing knife sailed from her fingertips, hitting the goblin clean in the throat. It tried to scream, but all the amerged from its scraggy throat was a light gargle. Its clawed fingers scrambled at the blade in an attempt to remove it, but to no avail. A second knife flew from the shade of the woodlands and hit him in the centre of the chest, forcing the sentry to its knees. It reached out, as if to touch something stood in front of it, and then slumped onto its front, its leg twitching in the dirt. Before it had fallen to its knees, the mercenary had made its move, and was now stood over its body, cutting the bonds of the captive. Once the rope had been cut, the girl slumped from the post, the mercenary catching her on her shoulders. She hoisted her into position, and began to make for the clearing. From behind, there came a cry.

“Intruwdah! Intruwdah!” emerged the shout from another goblin, who had been on his way to the nearby beck to collect water for its master. The mercenary cursed under her breath, and sprinted to the edge of the clearing. The Orcs were fast to rouse from their tents, but the mercenary had left their encampment. The goblin screeched at them, revealing the direction they had made from the camp, and the made hot pursuit, running as fast as their muscled legs could carry them. They hit the tree line with a heavy crash, smashing aside saplings and trampling small bushed as they sought to close ground on the intruder.

The mercenary was less then a minute in front of them, and knew that once she reached the plains ahead, less then a miles run, she would certainly be spotted, and then there would be no escape until she reached the foot of the mountains, but that was more then a days travel. With this, she found a hiding place for the girl – a felled tree with a hollow facing the soil, in which she hid her, and then the mercenary made her way back up into the trees, her Kriss drawn ready for the impending combat. It was not long before the heavy footfall of the Orc party was heard, and their brash shouts began to fill the air. They were heading straight their way. As they ran below the mercenary, one of the Orcs who formed their rear guard suddenly stopped near the felled tree and called to his collegues. They stopped, and walked back to him cautiously. The Orc informed them that he smelt the girl close by, and the other Orcs looked about them, their eyes scanning the forests. The mercenary pulled a small vial from her belt, and held it about the Orc troupe. When she let it drop, it hit the floor in a mighty explosion, throwing them off of their feet. She fell from the trees like a cat, landing behind one of the raiders as he attempted to stand, whipping the kriss across his throat. She spun to face the second, digging her sword deep into his chest. There was a cry to her right as one of the raiders catapulted him self at her. Swiftly, she ducked to one side lashing out at its leg as it passed. She parried a slow swing at her head, turning it aside, and parrying a second shot intent on her torso. As her assailent swung again, she spun to one side, the Orcs blade crashing into its companions skull. She assessed the Orc as it turned to face her, but something caught the corner of her eye. She twisted backwards, only just managing to deflect a spear shot from her head, but the manouver sent her Kriss flying from her hand, imbedding itself into a nearby tree. She grabbed the haft of the Orcish spear, flicking it up to hit is weilder in its pig-like face. She took the spear from its crawling hands, and spun it in a wide arc over her head, forcing one of her assailants to duck away as the blade wizzed past its face. She reached from her belt and flicked another knife into the face of one of the Orcs, its cry filling the air. She chocked off its cry with the spear, smashing it heavily into its chest, pinning the beast to a tree. From her belt she pulled two more knives, finely crafted daggers with handles of pearl. She reached out to one of the beasts, throwing him to the ground. She jumped over him, and left one of the daggers in his chest. This left only two more Orcs out of the party. One was a small, pale looking Orc, barely larger then a human child. It stood looking very unsure, its shield held up close to its body. Stood behind it was the Captain she has seen early, its waraxe raised in challenge. The smaller Orc turned to look at the larger one, and he cried out, slapping the smaller Orc. It sighed inwardly, and leapt at the mercenary half-heartedly. She turned aside its bladestroke, and attempted to slash at its neck, but found the shield to be in the way. She kicked out at the weak Orc, her boot connecting with the inside of its knee, which buckled under the blow. As it fell backwards, she stabbed out, hitting it square in the chest. Quickly, she retrieved her blade, and turned to face the larger Orc.

For a moment, they stood and stared each other in the eye, it’s large red eyes burning with hatred. Amongst them, the forest had been defiled by the corpses of the Uruk warriors. The wind no longer blew through the trees, and the sweet scent of the spring flowers was over powered by the hog-like stench of the Orcs. The Orc commander looked about him, gazing at the dead, and then back at the mercenary. He was overwhelmed at how this slight looking girl had managed to dispatch his warriors with such ease. A deep growl began in his stomach and raised to his throat, growing into a mighty roar. He sprinted at her, his heavy blade poised above his head. He brought it down into a mighty arc, narrowly missing her as she dashed aside. Although it bit deep into the earth the Orc wrenching it away with amazing fury, slashing back out at her side. The haft of the axe connected with her armour, sweeping her from her feet. She hit the ground heavily. She shook her head, and looked up to see the axe sailing to her head again. She rolled aside, and flipped to her knees, stabbing at the chest of the Orc captain several times with the knife in her hand. The thick black blood of their kind flew freely, but the Orc did not falter in his assault. It punched out at her, almost crushing her helm against her fair face. This time, she landed on her feet. She flicked the knife at him, hitting his shoulder. She sprinted back at him, flying over his head. The Orc stared on in amazement as she leapt his head, pulling her weapon free as she went. Landing behind him, she pulled her Kriss free from the tree behind her. The Orc turned to meet a hail of blows from both weapons, her renewed vigor showing as she rained blow after blow upon his body. The Orc had tried several times to swing out at her, but each time she nimbly dashed aside and continued her assault, her blows landing faster then he could see. There was a mighty swipe as he lost his land, and a heavy clunk as his axe hit the floor. He looked down in surprise at his weapon, his heavy clawed hand still gripping the thick haft. Then came the final blow, her Kriss entering his jaw, penetrating his small brain.

There was no noise as it hit the floor, the mercenary turning her back to offer a small prayer to her gods. She walked back towards where she had hidden the girl, stooping to collect her dagger on the way.

The girl was awake now, and cowered away from the mercenary as she reach out to her. The mercenary sheathed her Kriss, and spent a moment assuring the girl she was safe. Reluctantly, she crawled from under the tree, freezing in fear when she saw the multiple corpses scattered about the trees.

“It’s alright, they’re all dead. You’re safe with me” the mercenary whispered to the girl, who looked up in amazement.

“You… you slew them all?” she asked, startled at the fete. The mercenary nodded and pulled the girl up to her feet, carrying her away from the slaughter. She carried her to the edge of the woodland, and sat her on the soft grass, the girl squinting in the afternoon sunlight. The plains were a beautiful sight in the warm sunlight, the soft greens melding together with the purples and reds of the patches of wild flowers. There was a whinny of horses close by as a harass of horses grazed nearby, the closest to the couple granting them passive attention.

The mercenary pulled a small pouch containing some morsels of food which she gave to the girl, who ate them furiously. She sat and watched the girl closely, wondering if she should tend to the girls wounds. She removed her dinted helm from her head, examining the damage with curse. As the young girl turned to her to see what she cursed at, a gust of wind blew the mercenaries hair into her eyes. Instinctively she drew it back behind her ears with her slender hands. The noticed the girl was looking at her, and when she turned her head to look upon her, she found the girl was staring in horror.

“You…you’re not…human” the girl choked, staring at her ears. The mercenary clentched her eyes tight for a moment and swore. She looked into the girl eyes.

“I am Jyazelle Everlain, an Elf, as you might have guessed. I was sent by your father to save you from your captors.” She tried to assure the girl, who slunk away from her.

“No” she cried “I was told Elves were evil!” She proclaimed.

The mercenary sighed outwardly and looked to the girl, who cast her glance aside.

”If I were evil, would I have rescued you?” She asked. The girl looked unsure again.

“What if you wanted to sacrifice me?” She asked slowly. The mercenary reached her hand out to the girls shoulder, but the girl looked away still. Gently, she lifted her shin with the back of her hand, so that her gaze met hers.

“If your father wanted you rescued, why send an evil beast who’d kill you? Trust me, I’m here to take you home.” The girl looked into her eyes and tears rimmed her light blue eyes, slowly spilling down her cheeks. Her head fell into her hands, and she wept. The mercenary looked down at her, and then back out towards the mountains. Over the plains, running close to the foot of the mountains was the road they would travel. This would be a hard journey for the girl.

She would allow her to rest the night, to regain her stamina, and they would travel just before the breaking of the new sun. The Jyazelle headed off to find something for them to eat, leaving her helm and the weeping girl side by side on the sunlit plain.

Last modified: March 27, 2011

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