It didn’t take long. Everything was over in less than five minutes. Ellis had bought himself a place on the mail coach and settled in for the journey to the town of his youth. He had been away for twenty years, and now after a career abroad that seemed twice that long, he looked forward to a well earned retirement.
His first awareness that something was amiss was when a tree fell across the path of the coach and it jerked to a sudden stop. Then when four masked men stepped in front of the horses all became clear. A weaselly built man demanded the cash box and the mails, and when the driver took longer than he thought necessary, the weasel shot a crossbow bolt into his shoulder.
It was then that instinct and muscle memory kicked in. Ellis swung open the coach door and rode it outwards, taking a flying roll onto the roadway. Coming to his feet, he loosed to daggers from his belt, piercing the chests of a bandit each. He then drew knife from his boot and embedded it in the forehead of a third.
The weasel was still desperately trying to reload his crossbow as Ellis snatched the throwing knife from third bandit’s skull and adroitly took out the weasel’s throat.
Ellis then went and tended to the driver’s wound and pondered if it was every possible for a mercenary to “go home.”