“This part if the journey is never easy,” Trenour said.
“Then why do we come this way? The plateau path is a lot more pleasant than this constant up and down road through the hills,” Wylder challenged.
“The plateau leaves us exposed. I would far rather deal with hills than the nomads.”
“Are you telling me that you have dragged us to the back of beyond because you are afraid of a bunch of goat herders?” Wylder mocked.
“Bunch of ‘goat herders?’ They are a bunch of goat herders that overran the Hurnian Empire. We don’t want to mess with them, especially of open ground.”
“But we have good armour and the best weapons money can buy,” Wylder observed. “Surely we would have the upper hand.”
“Let’s not find out,” Trenour said gravely.
After about a half an hour, the pair crested a long rise to come face to face with about a thousand goats. Scattered among the herd were about seventy nomads armed with staves and spears. Three others approached on sturdy donkeys and began to nock short composite bows.
“What do you think of our ‘goat herders now?’” Trenour asked, dropping his sword and raising his hands.
“Goat herders? What goat herders, I only see fierce nomads,” Wylder gulped.
Colin couldn’t quite believe what he had just heard, but he most definitely had to go check it out. According to his brother Hugh, who had heard it from Andre the stable boy, a barbarian warrior had recently arrived in the town, and she, yes she, was staying at the tavern. But to top it all off, she was reported to have bare breasts!
Colin rushed through the streets, and pushed past the throng of young men that had gathered to gawk. He soon regretted his impetuous move, as she reached out and grabbed him by the collar. She dragged him across the table, and began to full-on kiss him, tongue and all.
He squirmed to free himself from her grasp, and fell gasping on the floor. “Bear breath! They had said bear breath.”
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.”