Intrepid Heroes : 6

The Original 'Intrepid Heroes'

by Edeyn Hannah Blackeney
parte the sixth

The Misadventures Begin

"Daft tall bastard. Jes' go help Lily with the damned cart and I'll meet the both of yeh by the gates before we head out of the city. I have to stop and get me pony," Agnar grumbled further as he almost literally booted the green-garbed human (A human! What was he thinking?!?) out of the room and down the stairs. Nearly a half candle after daybreak already, so he shrugged his pack on as he stomped down the stairs, adjusting the boots the easy way. He paid the innkeep for the two rooms, bargained a sack of cheese and bread with a goat-bladder of milk for their breakfast and went down the blissfully empty street to the stables to pick up Yoke.

He led her through the slowly waking city to the gates and spotted the cart and horses with the small and large figures seated atop -- were they arguing already?

"Easy, girl... that's my Yoke. I'll tie yeh to the back of the cart and yeh'll have an easy trip," he told the pony as they got close. The gate-guard was waiting for the palm-grease (greedy human whoreson), and then blew the signal and started the crank to open the gates and let them out.

They were nearly three candles past noonmeal and making excellent time when the first arrow thunked into the side of the cart.

WE Needsmore simply stepped off the top of the cart onto a tree branch overhanging the road, then executed a perfect no-hands cherry drop to the ground and vanished into the underbrush. Green clothes, green leaves... it made sense. Agnar motioned Lily to stop the cart and they waited. A second arrow flew a lot less sure and hit the side of the cart before dropping to the ground. The sounds of struggle, then the dandy stepped out of the trees whistling merrily, a kicking and cursing bundle over one shoulder.

He dropped the girl at Agnar's feet and she glared up at the dwarf, almond-shaped eyes trying to be defiant -- but looking more scared than anything else.

"I believe this is the task you had in mind for me, my dear bold leader?" Needsmore added as he turned his back and vaulted back atop the cart next to Lily, entire situation seemingly forgotten. Lily glanced from the... woodsman (she couldn't call him dandy after that performance... not only if just in her mind) to the elven girl and then to Agnar. What would the Dwarf do?

"You are trespassing! This land is inhabited by the elves of --" the elf maiden began.

"King's road. Human elf treaty. Shut it, girl" Agnar interrupted irritably, stroking his beard. "Needle, can yeh hunt?"

"That would be Needsmore, employer-friend, and no... not more than a rabbit or squirrel here or there," the reply came. Impossible to tell if he was upset by the name misremembrance or not.

"Needsmore. Right. Must remember that. Okay, girlie, you have three choices. One, yeh go back to whatever village yeh come from and leave us be an' I don't tell the King that you're TRYING to be a Highwayman. Two, yeh come along with us as our hunter and EARN what money yeh were trying t' take" Agnar reached down and helped her to her feet. She was maybe 120 years old at most -- pretty thing by Elven standards, but looked as if she'd break in half in a stiff wind.

"Say I go with you to earn it... what's it pay?" she asked as she dusted herself off.

Agnar looked up at the two on the cart and grinned what he hoped was a reassuring grin. "One percent of what our cargo's worth when we gets where we're going, plus a tenth-weight of gold powder" he declared, and was happy the other two had the wit not to blurt out how much more they were getting.

"Okay... worth thinking about. Wait -- you said three choices, but only said two, what's the last?"

The Dwarf looked at her with all the ages of contempt built up between the two races palpable in the space between them. "Are yeh takin' the job or not, missy?"

She looked from the face of one to the next and the next. "Fine. What do I do when not hunting, cook?"

"By the all the gods above and below -- what self-respecting Halfling would let an ELF do the cooking, point-ear?" was the immediate indignant explosion from Lily atop the cart, "put her in the cart an let's get going, Agnar!"

He normally hated bossy womenfolk, but there was something just amusing about this Halfling girl, so he just smiled to himself and stepped out of the way, motioning the Elf to the back of the cart. "Oh yes... what's yer name, anyway? I can't verra well keep callin' yeh girlie, now can I?"

She looked startled, but whether from Lily's exclamatory remark or the question, who knows? "Um, my name is Leiulianiefittaranopitchikallirotana. You may call me Leiuli," she drew herself up into the pose of superiority that seems to come natural to Elves, as she was securing the lower half of the cart's rear-door.

"Whatever... Tana it is, then," scowled Lily and turned to urge the horses back into motion before Tana could protest.

Neither of the men said a word, but both had grins and coughing fits as they moved on.

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