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The Adventures of Larson and Garrett - A People Defiled By AaronDennis Characters: 11462

Updated: 2018-01-08 12:03


A People Defiled

Larson and Garrett Adventure the Tenth by Aaron Dennis

Published by www.storiesbydennis.com April 2016

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned or distributed in any form, including digital and electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the prior written consent of the Publisher, except for brief quotes for use in reviews.

This book is a work of fiction. Characters, names, places and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to any actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

The crew of adventurers left the chaos of Stormguard behind them. Their destination was Glennmoor, a once bustling farm town near the mountainous border of Faaltosk, yet recent reports from traders frequenting the capitol indicated the possibility of raids on carts and convoys. What frightened the traders the most, however, and what facilitated the gang's ability to seek work as mercenaries, were claims that the raiders were monsters, undead, White Wraith cultists, and even citizens of Glennmoor. Since recent tribulations had prepared Larson and his group, and Seanessy spoke to his dwarven mate in Stormguard, they secured work escorting several merchants and their horse drawn carts up the winding, rocky path towards the troubled town.

The merchants normally traveled with a hand picked guard, but after words with the dwarven contact regarding the tumultuous times, the head merchant, Senior Gonzalo, agreed to hire the crew of six, which included Larson, Garrett, Seanessy, Lyalla, Wilma, and Yoris; Mathew claimed the six of them were more than enough to enact his plan regarding the capture of Minister Parish, and for reasons unknown, the detective pulled Fortha and Charlotte from the bunch, so, for a paltry sum, which Mathew subsidized, Gonzalo agreed to let Larson's men tag along.

****

It had been a cool day, so near the foot of the mountains, and there had been no activity requiring the swinging of blades; once the sun set and the dark shadows swept over the road, the merchants found a flat expanse upon which to set up their tents for camp. Larson's crew eagerly approached the merchant guard to make casual conversation and learn of their experiences. A hulking, old man was their leader, a lifelong friend of the Gonzalos by the name of Cicatriz, which he claimed meant scar in his language.

"You are not from Ruvonia then, " Garrett asked him while plunking down on a flat boulder.

"The Gonzalos and I are from Ruvonia, yes, but our grandparents, also friends, were from a land far to the west, a place with many deserts; much heat there, or so I've been told."

"You have never been to your ancestors' home?"

The old man shook his head solemnly. The aspiring wizard fiddled with a charm that dangled from his neck; a gift Mathew had made for everyone in the crew to retard the effects of powerful magicks. It was a simple looking talisman of ivory.

"I, myself, am from Resborne, " Garrett volunteered, still thumbing at the talisman. "It's a trade hub near the southwestern borders of Ruvonia." Changing the topic, Cicatriz asked after Garrett's fighting style. Smiling and running a hand down his scaled vest, the fencer replied, "I am well versed in many forms of fighting, among them are fencing, archery, and spells, to which I've recently taken a liking." He then casted a protection spell to show the old man. Linear, purple filigree graced his armor, which drew scant glances from others. "One does not always know his enemies, and so one cannot rely solely on brute strength."

Gauging his size and the great sword strapped to his back, Garrett figured the guard captain a fierce, grizzled warrior. "Yes strength and numbers are often the way wars are won, " the old man replied.

"Strength and numbers as guided by the minds of cunning strategists."

The old man smiled back and patted Garrett's shoulder. They looked at the rest of the people around them. Some of the others—both merchants and guards—either helped to set up the tents, start fires, prepare food, or simply eyed one another the way warriors do—scrutinizing blades, armor, size, balance. Everyone seemed surprised to find a bunch of mercenaries wearing more than furs or leathers, but once more, Mathew had spared no expense and bought his men the equipment they needed to seize Parish.

Garrett eyed the guards under Cicatriz's command; they wore heavy furs over ring mail, which was customary in Faaltosk. A few had surrounded Larson. They liked his half plate, which consisted of thin, iron plates covering the vitals held in place by chains over chain mail and padded leathers. Larson commented on their weapons; flamberges, great swords—a favorite of his—mauls, some had throwing axes on their hips, and two carried spears, but none carried bows.

"We talkin' armor?" Seanessy butted in to the group surrounding the warrior. When the guards nodded, the dwarf said, "Nothin's finer than dwarven, scale mail. Humans can try an' craft their own, but a dwarven smith knows the secret ta' scales." He then moved his short limbs and twisted to reveal the mobility provided by a full suit of scale mail. "It's the way they heat an' cool the iron an' mix with it other metals; light an' mobile."

"Two things you're not, " Larson joked, bringing chuckles from the guards.

Frowning, Seanessy banged on his coolus, a helmet with a flange that extended a short ways beyond the face, saying, "I can work circles around you, ya' goat lover."

As soon as everyone relaxed, and the

sound of chatter drowned out the buzzing of insects or howling of wolves from high up in the mountain crags, food was passed around. Lyalla fed and patted the horses while conversing with the women of the group, which were few; apart from Wilma and a guard called Doris was a merchant named Grace, and then the wives, daughters, and sisters of some of the traders. The four of them joked about the men, claiming astonishment over the fact that after a whole day of trudging up and down stony hills, no fights had broken out, yet Wilma and Lyalla were tense, and Grace asked after their safety.

"It's so hard to imagine the trade life becoming more dangerous than it already is, " she started and flung her flowing, gray hair over her shoulder. "My husband and I have had more than one run in with bandits, but this talk of monsters and possessed citizens is enough to send shivers up and down my spine."

Having been assigned to the crew by Mathew, Wilma was privy to their plan and to the knowledge that those possessed citizens were likely members of the White Wraiths. "It's probably just ghost tales and nothin' more, but ya' can never be too safe, " she smiled, weakly.

"It's hardly ghost tales, " Doris, the guard, rebutted. She was a haggard looking gal who carried a maul strapped to her back. "I got a friend that usually runs with Atello, the fruit trader, and she says there's been a lot o' trouble between the capitol and Owensbrook."

Lyalla and Wilma traded a look at the mention of Owensbrook. They knew there was likely as much trouble there as in Glennmoor, what with Lionel Owens being the one who attacked them back at the White Wraith house, but Dolf and the famed Griffin Knights of Ruvonia had flown to the western city to handle him. The merchants soon claimed a need for rest, which Cicatriz relayed to the group. A contingent of four was picked to take first watch, and Larson volunteered to help at that end.

Two hours passed by in relative silence. The warriors had snuffed out the campfires to keep anyone from seeing their position from far away. They paced around a bit, occasionally making vague remarks about the chilly air or the cloudy sky. One of them passed around a flask of whiskey.

When some stones fell from the northern cliffs, the guards froze on the spot. Gazing at the barren plateaus protecting their camp, they held their breaths, expecting trouble, yet a moment passed by. Nothing happened.

"Damned goats, " a younger guard murmured.

Some more stones fell then, and the dry sound of bouncing rocks made them edgy. Squinting up at the nearly black mountains, Larson reached for his axe. Noticing his anxiety, the others also drew weapons, but the young guard maintained it was goats. Something like a haggard groan resounded.

"That's not a goat, " Larson whispered.

More strained groans came from above them followed by more stones falling, and then someone from above and out of sight cussed and grumbled. "There's someone up there, " another guard said. A boot then poked over a stony protrusion; someone was climbing down the craggy wall. "Look, look, " another guard whispered, pointing.

"Is that people?" the climber bellowed. "You've got to help me."

"Who are you?" Larson called out.

His shout roused some of the others, who came stumbling out of their tents.

"My leg's broken. There are ogres chasing me, " the climber said as he eased himself onto a flat precipice about a hundred feet above the camp.

The claim of ogres brought about a degree of tension. The guards from Faaltosk claimed the ogres of their country were ferocious beasts not to be trifled with, while the guards from Ruvonia argued that ogres were the things of childish fantasies. They bickered back and forth until Yoris joined the group.

"Lyalla, ready your magic. I will retrieve him…ogres or no ogres, he is hurt, " the part orcish warrior said.

Wearing only leather pants and his tunic, the warrior of Akalabash scrambled up the mountain like an expert climber; he even used his bare toes to grip the rock. Upon reaching the flat expanse where the man was resting and cradling his injured leg, Yoris helped hip onto his back, and then the two started a slow descent. Upon touching the ground, while surrounded by everyone gawking, Lyalla eased the climber onto his seat, checked his leg, claimed it was not broken, but casted a healing hands spell to mend his bruising and lacerations. Standing over him, Cicatriz asked him his name.

"Thomas, " the man said. He stood slowly and turned to Lyalla, "Thank you so much for healing me, but you're not safe here. We must leave immediately."

"What are you doing out here?" Cicatriz demanded.

"I told you, I'm running from ogres."

Again, the crew squabbled about the likelihood of ogres. Cicatriz silenced them with a snap of his fingers and ordered Thomas to elucidate upon his tale. Shaking his head and huffing in exasperation, the man spoke.

"I'm just a traveler. I was trying to see what Glennmoor was like because I don't like living in Stormguard, but they wouldn't even let me into town. They have posts all around their city and a bunch of the town's men keep watch. Since I couldn't stay, I tried to buy some supplies for my trip back to Stormguard, but they wouldn't deal with me at all and threatened to beat me, so I left, but ran afoul of some ogres in the cliffs."

"What did they look like, the ogres, I mean, " Larson asked.

"What?" Thomas was taken aback. "They, they were big, burly creatures; I didn't stand there and talk to them!"

Wincing and looking away, Larson wondered about the man's credibility. "What color were they?" Cicatriz asked while eyeing Larson.

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