Uncharted Fates- 21

            “We are about less than a half day’s travel from Jindi Caverns. I’m thinking once we get the turoo root we head to Luma Town. It’s not on the original course we planned back, but I remembered it’s where the Lumani River Canal begins. My company has used it before and they typically offer to be bodyguards for the transport with free passage as the payment. It ends in Seacreek Town, which is a port town. I know some merchants who would give us transport in exchange for labor or something,” Fletcher had rolled out the map on the ground and traced his figure along it during his explanation.

            The soft light of the fire danced across the tattered rabbit hind map. I hummed and as I ran through our original course in my head. It did seem likely to be faster as long as the river wasn’t low due to lack of rainfall. It had rained several days already on our journey, so it probably wouldn’t be an issue. “Alright, let’s do that then. I didn’t think they allowed random travelers to join them on canal transports though,” I leaned back against the cool, smooth boulder behind me.

            “Grayson grew up in Luma Town and worked on the canal way until he was recruited by the Honor In Arms. As long as you have one of the sigma pins for the company they’ll allow it as an old favor to him,” Fletcher tapped at the silver sigma pin on the left side of his chest. It was the symbol on their crest, a warrior riding a bear. Given Fletcher’s high status in the company, his pin was made of a more valuable metal, which was the typical way of distinguishing rank in mercenary companies. The more precious the metal, the higher the rank of the bearer.

            I nodded my head as I spooned some of our wild game stew into my mouth. I bit down on it with my right side and hissed, forgetting the toothache that had started two days after my dive into the pool at the Circle Water Veil. I transferred my chewing to my left side until I bit into something hard and solid.

            Spiting the item into my hand, I scowled at the canine tooth. As I suspected I was growing in the fanged teeth of the Purowick. Something about that magical pool had flared up my infection. This was the third symptom I had developed after the purple veins and small scales starting to grow on my neck.

            “Did I miss a bone?” Fletcher asked, his face half illuminated by the fire and half covered by the night.

            “No, I just lost one of my teeth,” I chucked it into the brush beyond us. A loud squeak and scurrying through the grass followed. Huh, I had actually managed to hit an animal.

            Fletcher’s lips pressed into a tight line as his eyes narrowed. They were focused on his bowl. The silence that had fallen between us was filled with the crackling of the fire and the occasional chirp of a bug. Since the initial shock and frustration of the rapid progression had passed, we tended to lose our conversation when something about it came up. What could one really think to say though at the reminder of one being flung closer to their death?

            Our time passed with limited interactions. We had finished our meal and were working through clean up. I had come down to the tiny stream a few yards to the east to clean out the pot and dishes.

             Scrubbing the pot under the clear, moonlit water, the lukewarm temperature of it further chilled me when another breeze blew through. I adjusted my footing on the wobbly rocks and hunched back over the stream.

            The crunching of gravel accompanied by a plop in the slow moving water sounded in the air. A hushed, angry voice caught my attention. My eyes snapped to the right. Four dark figures approached. I rose to my full height and took two steps back into the gravel and dirt. These people weren’t normal travelers if they were trying to escape my notice. “Did you need something?” I called out.

            “Oh ho, what’s a little lady like yourself doing out here all alone?” A raspy, low voice said. Similar deep voices let out chuckles and laughs. They were all male.

            “Little?” I dropped the brush and pot and readied my hand over my mace attached to my waist.

            “Pardon me, it was rather hard to tell with you crouched down by the river like that,” The supposed leader said as the group was only a few yards away from me now. The limited moonlight didn’t aid me in making out any of their features. They were tall though, all with medium builds. They wouldn’t be difficult to take down.

            “Did you want something?” My fingers snaked around the top of the handle of my mace. My body sled into a slightly crouched stance with my left foot favoring forward.

            “Oh, ho ho ho ho, you’re going to be a feisty one aren’t ya? It’s been a while since I had a lady with some fire warm my bed,” A lecherous grin wormed its way onto the leader’s face while he strode forward. His companions stayed put. Tossing his dagger back and forth between his hands, the moonlight flickered off the sharp blade. He flung it towards me before sprinting forward, some sort of gauntlets covered his hands. So he was a brawler.

            I sidestepped while ducking. I stayed low, freeing my mace from its sling. He threw a few punches at me as I consecutively dodged them. When an opening came, I landed an elbow to his ribs. He grunted and lurched forward a bit, stopping his movements. I did a half spin of my left leg and stomped him square in the back. He toppled face first into the stream.

            I glared at his companions, daring them to make their move. Two of them rushed towards me as the third slinked towards their leader. The taller one swiped his sword at me. I lunged back. His blade fortunately only sliced my shirt. His companion tried to sneak from behind, but I swung around, smacking my mace into his shoulder.

            The cracking of bones mixed with his cries as he crumbled onto the ground, clutching his arm. The taller one paused, his eyes flicking from me to his companion. I charged in at him, clotheslining him in the gut with my mace. Pressing it in, I hit the trigger sending a jolt of electricity through him. He screeched before collapsing onto his back.

            The last male tried to hide behind the cattails along the stream. He trembled with large eyes fixed on me. I slowly walked towards him with a cocked eyebrow. “You going to try something too or you going to be wise and get out of here?”

            He stumbled into a run while his only conscious companion yelled after him.

            I slipped my mace back into its sling and wiped the sweat from my brow with the back of my left arm. The whooshing of blades of grass could be heard once my breaths evened out. I peered over my shoulder, my hand hovering over my mace. I dropped it and sighed though once Fletcher got close enough for me to make out his face.

            He stopped in front of me, his hand gripping one of the handles of his naginata. His eyes darted from me to the three men on the ground beyond me. His hair had fallen across his face. He let out a long breath. “You’re ok, right?”

            I nodded my head with a smile. I retrieved my discarded items while Fletcher knocked out the remaining alert male. Slinging the pouch of dishes and such over my shoulder, I glanced at Fletcher. “ There was one that ran away, we should move on in case he comes back with more people,”

            He nodded his head and we fell into a synced walk back to our makeshift camp. Leaving the injured men for their companion to tend to.

            The soft light of the fire danced across the tattered rabbit hind map. I hummed and as I ran through our original course in my head. It did seem likely to be faster as long as the river wasn’t low due to lack of rainfall. It had rained several days already on our journey, so it probably wouldn’t be an issue. “Alright, let’s do that then. I didn’t think they allowed random travelers to join them on canal transports though,” I leaned back against the cool, smooth boulder behind me.

            “Grayson grew up in Luma Town and worked on the canal way until he was recruited by the Honor In Arms. As long as you have one of the sigma pins for the company they’ll allow it as an old favor to him,” Fletcher tapped at the silver sigma pin on the left side of his chest. It was the symbol on their crest, a warrior riding a bear. Given Fletcher’s high status in the company, his pin was made of a more valuable metal, which was the typical way of distinguishing rank in mercenary companies. The more precious the metal, the higher the rank of the bearer.

            I nodded my head as I spooned some of our wild game stew into my mouth. I bit down on it with my right side and hissed, forgetting the toothache that had started two days after my dive into the pool at the Circle Water Veil. I transferred my chewing to my left side until I bit into something hard and solid.

            Spiting the item into my hand, I scowled at the canine tooth. As I suspected I was growing in the fanged teeth of the Purowick. Something about that magical pool had flared up my infection. This was the third symptom I had developed after the purple veins and small scales starting to grow on my neck.

            “Did I miss a bone?” Fletcher asked, his face half illuminated by the fire and half covered by the night.

            “No, I just lost one of my teeth,” I chucked it into the brush beyond us. A loud squeak and scurrying through the grass followed. Huh, I had actually managed to hit an animal.

            Fletcher’s lips pressed into a tight line as his eyes narrowed. They were focused on his bowl. The silence that had fallen between us was filled with the crackling of the fire and the occasional chirp of a bug. Since the initial shock and frustration of the rapid progression had passed, we tended to lose our conversation when something about it came up. What could one really think to say though at the reminder of one being flung closer to their death?

            Our time passed with limited interactions. We had finished our meal and were working through clean up. I had come down to the tiny stream a few yards to the east to clean out the pot and dishes.

             Scrubbing the pot under the clear, moonlit water, the lukewarm temperature of it further chilled me when another breeze blew through. I adjusted my footing on the wobbly rocks and hunched back over the stream.

            The crunching of gravel accompanied by a plop in the slow moving water sounded in the air. A hushed, angry voice caught my attention. My eyes snapped to the right. Four dark figures approached. I rose to my full height and took two steps back into the gravel and dirt. These people weren’t normal travelers if they were trying to escape my notice. “Did you need something?” I called out.

            “Oh ho, what’s a little lady like yourself doing out here all alone?” A raspy, low voice said. Similar deep voices let out chuckles and laughs. They were all male.

            “Little?” I dropped the brush and pot and readied my hand over my mace attached to my waist.

            “Pardon me, it was rather hard to tell with you crouched down by the river like that,” The supposed leader said as the group was only a few yards away from me now. The limited moonlight didn’t aid me in making out any of their features. They were tall though, all with medium builds. They wouldn’t be difficult to take down.

            “Did you want something?” My fingers snaked around the top of the handle of my mace. My body sled into a slightly crouched stance with my left foot favoring forward.

            “Oh, ho ho ho ho, you’re going to be a feisty one aren’t ya? It’s been a while since I had a lady with some fire warm my bed,” A lecherous grin wormed its way onto the leader’s face while he strode forward. His companions stayed put. Tossing his dagger back and forth between his hands, the moonlight flickered off the sharp blade. He flung it towards me before sprinting forward, some sort of gauntlets covered his hands. So he was a brawler.

            I sidestepped while ducking. I stayed low, freeing my mace from its sling. He threw a few punches at me as I consecutively dodged them. When an opening came, I landed an elbow to his ribs. He grunted and lurched forward a bit, stopping his movements. I did a half spin of my left leg and stomped him square in the back. He toppled face first into the stream.

            I glared at his companions, daring them to make their move. Two of them rushed towards me as the third slinked towards their leader. The taller one swiped his sword at me. I lunged back. His blade fortunately only sliced my shirt. His companion tried to sneak from behind, but I swung around, smacking my mace into his shoulder.

            The cracking of bones mixed with his cries as he crumbled onto the ground, clutching his arm. The taller one paused, his eyes flicking from me to his companion. I charged in at him, clotheslining him in the gut with my mace. Pressing it in, I hit the trigger sending a jolt of electricity through him. He screeched before collapsing onto his back.

            The last male tried to hide behind the cattails along the stream. He trembled with large eyes fixed on me. I slowly walked towards him with a cocked eyebrow. “You going to try something too or you going to be wise and get out of here?”

            He stumbled into a run while his only conscious companion yelled after him.

            I slipped my mace back into its sling and wiped the sweat from my brow with the back of my left arm. The whooshing of blades of grass could be heard once my breaths evened out. I peered over my shoulder, my hand hovering over my mace. I dropped it and sighed though once Fletcher got close enough for me to make out his face.

            He stopped in front of me, his hand gripping one of the handles of his naginata. His eyes darted from me to the three men on the ground beyond me. His hair had fallen across his face. He let out a long breath. “You’re ok, right?”

            I nodded my head with a smile. I retrieved my discarded items while Fletcher knocked out the remaining alert male. Slinging the pouch of dishes and such over my shoulder, I glanced at Fletcher. “ There was one that ran away, we should move on in case he comes back with more people,”

            He nodded his head and we fell into a synced walk back to our makeshift camp. Leaving the injured men for their companion to tend to.

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