Averoigne PBEM II:30, Blood, Flame, and Steel, Followed by a Case of Unmistaken Identity

Being Nocturns, the Feast Day of Saint Valentine, Anno Domini One Thousand Two Hundred and Seventy-Six, in the twisting streets of the cathedral city of Vyones…

Snarling, the wolves circle the group, which clusters in an arc in front of the doorway.  Breschau moves to Marcel’s side, holding a staff at the ready.  Pierre and Andre pound at the door and shout, while Bruyant supports Orianne between them.  The guardsmen grimly ready spears and torches.

For one moment, all is still.

Two wolves lunge at Julien and Marcel, who brace themselves for the impact  and feel nothing.  At the last second, both wolves turn aside from their apparent targets, landing within the circle.  Marcel feels the wolf’s coat brush against his habit.

Julien gasps.  “These devils want the prisoners!  Hold the line!”  He stabs the wolf that leapt past him.  The blow shakes it, but it continues straight for Orianne and Andre.  Bruyant pushes the girl back into the doorway, shielding with his body.  Andre watches the door, seemingly unaware of his attacker  until he turns in a blur of motion, slicing into the injured wolf’s skull.  He giggles, but keeps his sword at ready.

On the other side of the doorway, a wolf slides between the legs of a torch-wielding guardsman.  The wind picks up behind him, and the wolf nearly falls over its own legs stopping.  Pierre looks up, and notices that the wolves closest to his side seem reluctant to come any closer to his unction-smeared form.  With a grim expression, he draws his knife.

At the center of the arc of men, another wolf slides past a spear point.  This newcomer and the one that slid past Marcel make for the doorway.  Julien and Andre swing at the lead, but the ferocious devil’s luck holds and it is unscathed.  Marcel smartly cracks a wolf in the jaw with his staff, and then turns inward as he hears Bruyant call for help.

Pierre’s wolf remains just barely out of knife range.  To do so, however, it turns its back to the guardsmen, who thrusts a torch against it.  The beast yelps in pain as the smell of searing fur and flesh fills the air.

One wolf leaps at Andre and misses, while another sinks its teeth into his leg.  Marcel strikes the first across the back, while a wild kick from Bruyant and a glancing blow from Andre’s mace loosens the other beast’s hold.  Julien nearly finishes the job, but his swing goes wide.  Pierre leaps back as the wolf, maddened by the fire on its back, tears his sleeve with its jaws.

Its teeth reddened, the wolf attacking Andre tears into his weapon arm.  He falls, blood spurting onto the mud.  The wolf lunges at the poisoner’s throat, but is transfixed through the back of the neck by Julien’s blade.  The other wolf turns toward this new threat, but a solid blow from the friar’s quarterstaff immobilizes him.

The two wolf slayers stand and look around.  The burning wolf has collapsed, and Pierre is running to Andre.  The other men have made short work of the remaining wolves with spear and flame.  Breschau has dashed out the brains of his wolf on the ground.  One of the guardsmen clutches his side, chainmail gleaming crimson, but this seems to be the only other wound.

“It was only the prisoners they were after.”  Marcel turns to Pierre, who is bandaging Andre.  “How is he?”

The merchant grimaces.  “I am not much of a chirurgeon, but he shall live.”

Bruyant, still wedged in the doorway, gives a slight grin of relief.  “God be – yeeow!”

He and Orianne fly over backwards into the house as the door opens.

Everyone looks up in alarm.  Somewhere beneath the priest and the prisoner can be heard the querulous voice of a burgher.  “Robbers!  Help!  They said they were the archbishop’s men!”

“We are the archbishop’s men, monsieur,” says Julien.

“Oh,” says the man.  After a pause, he adds, “What is that horrid smell?”

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Published in: on October 19, 2008 at 10:02 pm  Leave a Comment  

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