Author's Note: Okay, so here it is, the fight chapter. Before you scroll down, you see that little dial over there labeled 'your expectations'? Yeah, I'm going to need you to turn that way down, because I actually had this chapter almost finished once, but then I lost the USB stick that the almost-completed chapter was on and had to start over from scratch. *Sighs* I am so, so sorry that it took me this long to write this; I got distracted by other fandoms and well, the inspiration kinda died, but at long last, an update! *Dramatic music* This chapter is dedicated to DayWrecker, who inspired me to buckle down and get this done. Happy Halloween!
Disclaimer: I own nothing except the story idea and my OC Bryran.
The second the scout opened his mouth to alert the others, a sword suddenly speared the monster between the eyes as Bryran threw himself out of the tree, weapon point-first.
Landing heavily atop the body as it crumpled to the ground, even with the corpse beneath him to soften his landing the hard impact still rattled his teeth. The muscles in his leg cramped viciously, locking up and sending waves of pain through him as he shoved himself back upright, the limb dragging as he pulled his sword from the orc's skull with a grunt of effort. The wet squelch of the blade being pulled free was loud in the sudden silence of the clearing, and scarcely seconds later that quiet was shattered, bedlam breaking loose as the remaining three orcs howled and charged.
Attempting to take a defensive stance with a cramped leg protesting each movement wasn't easy, and it got even tougher when the first orc reached him. Bracing himself against the crude axe swing, he sucked in a breath as the clash of blades had his arms trembling and his leg buckling at the force of the blow. Having learned his lesson, he didn't try to parry the next strike when the orc pulled back to take another swing. Dropping to the ground to avoid having his head severed, the orc squealed when he stabbed at its legs in retaliation, the awkward position reducing his jabs to small pokes that nonetheless had the green humanoid stumbling backwards and its legs bleeding sluggishly from shallow cuts.
The second orc made him roll to the side to avoid being skewered when it swooped into the opening left by the first and used both hands to drive its sword straight down towards his chest. The humanoid wasn't deterred by the first failure, and Bryran was forced to keep rolling to avoid the downward thrusts, his own blade held carefully close to his body to avoid a loss of weapon or accidental injury. Driven by frustration, the orc stabbed down harder than before and its blade stuck fast in the earth, and the warrior seized the opportunity to roll back onto his feet with both hands. He got off the ground not a moment too soon, as the first orc had recovered from the stinging he had given it earlier and charged in with its axe while its comrade attempted to free the stuck sword.
Back-stepping to avoid the first swing, then side-stepping to dodge the follow-up, Bryran waited for the moment when the orc's reach was fully extended before using an underhand swing to bury his blade in what he thought was the orc's dominant arm. He felt when metal struck bone and immediately pulled back before his blade was dulled, blood gushing from the wound to splatter the ground as the injured arm dangled limply and the orc bellowed in pain.
He wasn't given long to admire his handiwork; he had to hurriedly turn and parry an attack from the second orc who had managed to liberate his sword from the ground. Sparks flew as he used his own weapon to deflect a slash and then a thrust, and he quickly ducked to avoid the green fist that tried to use the fact that his own hands were occupied to catch him unawares and land a blow to his head. He wasn't entirely successful at escaping the blow - the side of the large fist clipped his ear and snagged several hairs as he dodged. His instinctive flinch at the near-miss left him open to a kick that smacked hard into his shin and sent him stumbling back, stalemate broken and not in his favor, his leg once again throbbing.
Now he knew how Kellindil felt, and he really could have lived without the knowledge, a voice in the very small part of his mind not occupied by the fight grumbled. It sounded a lot like his Uncle Kade, a veteran of several border skirmishes, and damn it this was not the time to reminisce!
Duck, pivot, swing, miss, back up, swing, miss again, partially turn...Bryran fell into a sort of rhythm as he moved around the attacks of both orcs, turning what would have been serious injuries into minor scratches when he couldn't fully avoid them. Still, a little could add up to become a lot, and he could feel himself tiring while the orcs were driven by anger and still going strong.
After bending over backwards to avoid dual swings of axe and sword, he swung his uninjured leg up and slammed his foot into the elbow of the sword-wielder, the loud crack of breaking bone lost beneath a shocked squeal. The orc dropped his blade, staggering away and clutching the shattered joint of his elbow, and that left the warrior with only the first orc to deal with. Though one arm flopped uselessly, the green humanoid held the axe in the other hand and swung it with furious abandon, not seeming to suffer any loss of skill from the change.
He landed on all fours as an unfortunate result of his impromptu acrobatics and scrambled to get back to his feet to avoid being hacked into pieces. He succeeded, but not without losing a few locks of hair and strips off his shirt to the wild swings of the attacking orc. Regaining his balance took precious seconds, but he canceled any advantage the orc might have gained with a few sword jabs to the arm holding the axe. His attack left the orc's hand bleeding and struggling to hold onto the blood-slicked handle, and the humanoid let out a yell of frustration and a few orcish curses as the weapon tried to slide from his grip.
While his opponent fumbled with his weapon, Bryran had a choice between pressing his advantage or retreating in order to recover before the next exchange of blows. Either one had the potential to go terribly, terribly wrong, especially if the second orc regained his wits enough to rejoin the battle, but each choice also had a chance of going right as well. Since both choices could end up with him either dead or victorious, he didn't waste any more time as he chose to attack. His swings were aimed at vital points, at thighs or the stomach or the throat, as he strove to end the battle, all but one swipe at a thigh being blocked completely, by luck or skill he had no idea. The one that did land was far too shallow to hit the artery for all that it drew blood and further weakened the one he was facing, and the orc roared in pure fury.
Finally, fortune smiles upon him: the orc's ankle rolls during a swing and he trips, leaving his chest wide open as the warrior comes in for a strike. Bryran's sword sinks all the way to the hilt, blade piercing the orc's heart, and for a moment both seem frozen in time as their eyes lock. The life drains from the orc's gaze, his eyes growing dark as the humanoid slowly falling backwards, sliding off the impaling blade with a sickeningly slick sound.
Bryran breathed deeply, fighting to fill his lungs with air as adrenaline surges through his veins and he looks around to try and find the orc whose arm he'd broken.
It took barely a minute to find the creature and the sight that greeted him left him blinking in confusion, because he was quite sure that his kick and the sword wounds would not have resulted in an arrow sprouting from the orc's eye. The shot would have meant instant death, and he recognized the make of the arrow as orcish, but only the scouting leader had possessed a bow and quiver of arrows, so why...Kellindil, the human realized, immediately looking around for his companion.
He finds the elf leaning against the tree they had been hiding in, turning an arrow this way and that between his fingers and frowning skeptically. The archer looked up, then asked politely, "Are you done? We should probably head out, as I wouldn't trust these arrows to kill any other orcs who come looking for this lot." He nodded his head towards the dead orcs, and Bryran noted distantly that the scout leader showed clear signs of a broken neck, which certainly explained where the elf got the arrows from.
Kellindil saw the bemused look on his friend's face and chuckled under his breath, lips quirking up in amusement as he belted the quiver around his body, adjusting it so he would be able to reach the arrows within more easily. It was plainly built for a larger, more muscular body type than his own, but he made it work just in time to see Bryran recover from his surprise, the man snorting incredulously and shaking his head. The warrior wiped his blade off on one orc's trousers, making a face at the smudges left on the steel as he glanced back over at the elf and commented, "My apologies for ever doubting if you could handle yourself in a fight, my friend. Even looking more like a walking bruise than an elf you are clearly more than capable of killing things."
Both laughed at that last statement, the warrior's eyes shining in mirth as he grinned, and Kellindil returned the look with a smile as he responded, "I got bored waiting for you to finish your opponent, so I decided to stretch my legs," he shrugged, seemingly nonchalantly were it not for the slight smirk on his face, "You took quite a while, so I disposed of the other two for you...although they were likely about to die of boredom."
"It wasn't that long!" Bryran protested, laughing helplessly and unable to think of a comeback.
"Long enough for me to kill the leader, while far more injured than you are may I add, steal his weapons, and kill the one you maimed," Kellindil returned, chuckling as the two companions began the task of looting the bodies for anything valuable.
As they expected, there was nothing they would be able to or want to take with them aside from a dagger that the first slain orc had possessed. It would be small in an orc's hand, more knife than dagger, but to them it was a respectable size, and the blade was in good condition. Kellindil took both weapon and holder, attaching them to his belt and sheathing the dagger at the small of his back. The elf returned the man's questioning look with a pointed one of his own, and the warrior made a face, conceding the unspoken argument. Yes, it was better that the archer took it, considering his recent string of terrible luck and how the gods seemed determined to injure and inconvenience him as much as possible.
Since the elf needed every bit of help he could get, Bryran wordlessly backed down and waved a hand in acquiescence towards his friend, gracefully ceding the dagger to his travelling companion.
Without bothering to try and conceal the bodies or signs of battle, they gathered up their belongings and set out. Time was of the essence, a precious commodity that was in sadly short supply, and they didn't have the minutes to spare to try and hide what happened. Kellindil took the lead, on surer footing now that he recognized their surroundings and which way they had to go, and his gait was noticeably lighter now that he was armed and on the mend. Bryran followed without hesitation, thankful that the pain in his leg was gone, no doubt due to the 'exercise' he had gotten after coming down from the tree.
No other words were exchanged as elf and human increased their pace to a light jog, heading towards Sundabar.
As it turns out, the last leg of their journey is the easy part, which is something that neither elf nor human ever thought they would think.
When they arrived at the city it seemed like things were starting to go smoothly as the pair moved through the crowd, attracting some curious looks but no more than any other adventurers who seemed to have had a tough time of it. Kellindil lead the way, navigating the circuitous streets with the ease of practice as they headed straight for the Master's Hall, however when they reached the gates, they encountered a truly unforeseen obstacle: obstinate guards.
Kellindil's luck struck again when they were stopped by the pair of guardsman at the door who, by some twist of fate, failed to recognize Kellindil even with his hair mostly blond again. It just figured that when the end of their quest was in sight, they'd run into the only two guards that the elf hadn't met at one point or another on any of his previous visits. No matter how many explanations or well-thought, reasoned arguments they gave the guards of why they needed an audience with Helm Dwarf-friend, the words fell on deaf ears as the watchmen refused to let them pass. If it weren't for the occasional snap of 'move along!', the warrior would have suspected that the men were actually partially-animate statues, though the annoyed expressions on their faces would have put that suspicion to rest rather quickly.
The watchmen's responses to any attempts at civil communication were monosyllabic at best and stony silence at worse no matter which one they directed their inquiries at. It was plain the men didn't believe a word they said, and they seemed to grow more and more aggravated the longer Kellindil kept insisting that they be let through or that at the very least one of them go and inform their superiors that the elf Kellindil was there with an urgent message. Looking as though they'd like nothing more than to throw the archer down the steps and be done with it, the guards restrained themselves to merely crossing their halberds in front of the doorway when it seemed like the elf was ready to throw diplomacy to the wind and force his way through the heavy wooden doors nearly twenty minutes later.
It was almost amusing, how they seemed to believe that his companion would give up and leave when lives were at stake whether they believed it or not, Bryran thought distantly.
"I'm telling you, this is urgent! Haven't you been listening?!" Kellindil was saying, voice raised until it was just shy of what would be considered yelling and looking three words away from ripping his own hair out in frustration.
Before the guards could actually drive the elf to following thought with action, since it really would be a shame if Kellindil's hair was torn out, Bryran reached out to grasp the elf's shoulder and draw his attention. "Come on, calm down, I'm sure these fine gentlemen are just doing their jobs...it's important to make a good impression when you start working somewhere, after all." He soothed, and Kellindil's expression eased into a reluctant smile at the subtle insult to the watchmen, allowing the warrior to gently turn him around and guide him away from the guards.
They were nearly to the end of the street when the relieved guardsmen realized they'd been insulted, the warrior having implied they were hopelessly new and inexperienced at their job, and the offended shouts had the archer's smile widening as they turned the corner.
A silence descended on them, barely lasting until they reached an isolated location, Kellindil having smoothly taken the lead once they were out of sight of the guards or any curious onlookers who had paused to watch the elf yelling at the watchmen. The place Kellindil had chosen was the corner of some kind of courtyard inside a decrepit pavilion, old and forgotten though it appeared, the plants having been left to run wild and grow where they would. Bryran suspected that the vines and moss growing over the pavilion was the only reason the structure was still standing, but he had enough sense not to voice the suspicion.
He'd worked with enough druids to be appropriately respectful of all plant life, especially when the greenery might be all that was keeping something from falling on his head.
Kellindil took a deep breath, letting it out through his nose in a long sigh, drawing the human's attention from the particularly angry-looking creeping vine he'd been staring at. The elf was frowning, his brow furrowed that spoke of unhappy thoughts as he spoke slowly, "The guards will never let us in, incompetent fools that they are. We came all this way, nearly dying several times, which we told them, and they think we would give up so easily when so many lives could rest on Helm getting this information..."
"You're not going to give up, are you?" Bryran asked bluntly. Really, it was barely even a question. "What if Helm already knows about the orcs? That could be why the guards didn't let us in - we would have been wasting time telling him something he already knew."
"Of course not," Kellindil answered blithely. He paused for a moment at Bryran's other question, face thoughtful as he responded slowly, working through the problem even as he spoke, "It is possible, I suppose. My friends and I were hardly the only adventurers to speak with Helm, he has the Bloodaxe Mercenary Company and Sundabar has its' own network of spies, so it would hardly be impossible for someone to have alerted Helm to the situation. I would still prefer to be sure he knows, however, than to assume he does only to watch people slaughtered because we thought he knew something he didn't."
That made a great deal of sense, and Bryran ceded the point with a nod of his head. It was true that it was better to make sure of something rather than assuming anything and being proved wrong. It would be very costly, a price paid in blood instead of just their pride. "We tried the easy way and were rebuffed rather soundly, so what do you suppose we try next?"
"If the easy way doesn't work, then we just have to do this the hard way." Kellindil said bluntly, crossing his arms and tapping his fingers in thought as he looked around, eyes flashing with plans made and discarded before lighting up in triumph. He smiled victoriously, grasping his walking stick and making his way out of the pavilion.
"...Somehow, I don't think I'm going to enjoy this," Bryran sighed resignedly, shoulders slumping in defeat. "Perhaps we should just try screaming the information in the streets?" He asked, brightening at the idea that hopefully didn't require them to risk life and limb, only to slump in defeat at Kellindil's look. Groaning in a mix of weary acceptance and despair, he gestured for the elf to lead on as he strode after the archer.
Kellindil was making his way towards another section of the courtyard, this one looking particularly unwelcoming, and Bryran stifled a low whine. He had the feeling that he wasn't going to enjoy this.
When the blond male pulled back a section of hanging vines to reveal a set of stairs leading downwards, the warrior was proven right. He was definitely not going to enjoy this...
Author's Note: HAPPY HALLOWEEN! Consider this my present to all the readers who stuck with this story! :D Please feel free to read and review! As always, constructive criticism is welcome!