the campaign, part 2

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The three friends finished their next round and the round after that.  They said hello to some neighbors they hadn’t seen sense they left.  They made small talk with some others in the bar they weren’t as familiar with.  They ordered a bit of food and polished the course off with a final round of ale.  Mostly, though, they were biding their time.  They expected to be ambushed in some fashion leaving Fireside Inn and they were hoping by stalling the four men who wished to cause trouble would grow frustrated and either stalk off or make a mistake when they did try to spring their trap.

An hour or so before dawn, with the sky not yet showing signs of the sun’s approach, Malland, Zanthalaso, and Dorian said their goodbyes and made their exit.  They acted drunk, staggering and talking boisterously of their recent exploits, egging each other on, but all the while their swords were loose in their scabbards and their eyes darted here and there.  A decent array of stars and a bright moon provided some light but also created an abundance of shadows.  Zanth’s elven-vision gave him a slight advantage but none of three wanted to get caught off-guard.

It was Zanth, though, who gave the warning as he spotted the heat signatures of two of the men hiding in a darkened doorway.  As one, swords were drawn and the three friends created a circle so they wouldn’t be blindsided.  The other two men detached themselves from different doorways and the four advanced on the companions.

“This is a mistake,” Zanth called to them.

“That may be,” their leader replied, an edge to his voice, “but you aren’t wanted here and we’ve been paid to see to it that you leave.”

Dorian said, “There’s a tavern full of people behind us who feel differently, strangers.  It’s far more likely that you aren’t wanted in town.”

One of the other men scoffed, “Just look you.  Bunch of freaks.”

Dorian growled low in his throat again.  Malland closed his eyes long enough to concentrate on casting Darkness.  He wasn’t a magic user, but as part of his condition, part of his curse, he had the ability to cast two spells.  Zanth, trying one last time to not spill any blood in their hometown, raised his sword at the leader and said, “Whoever has paid you, has paid you only to die.  Tell us who it was and we’ll go see them ourselves.  You do not need to do this.”

“Yeah, we do,” was all he said before stepping forward with a long sword clutched in his hands.

Malland cast Darkness and a fog pushed away from his circled friends to envelop their attackers.  There was a call of surprise from within the fog.

“You obviously haven’t been well informed about us,” Zanth called out.

“They aren’t even wearing armor,” Dorian stated quietly so only his friends could hear him.

With a yellow, half of fear and half of battle rage, the leader burst out of the fog swinging his sword.  Dorian easily blocked the strike with his own sword and then turned the block into a strike of his own, slicing through the man’s exposed torso.  He went down with a grunt and did not get back up.

The remaining three came out of the fog more cautiously.  The last one through saw their leader had already fallen, and immediately turned tail and fled back into the fog.  The two who remained exchanged blows with Malland and Zanth.  The far more experienced friends easily out-matching the strangers.  One fell to Malland’s sword and the other fell to Zanth’s.

The fight over, Malland dispersed the fog with another moment of concentration and a wave of his hand.  Zanth and Dorian checked the men they’d fought and came up shaking their heads. All three had died. 

“Such a waste,” Zanth said with a heavy sigh.

The friends were just discussing what they should do next when they heard shouting and the sound of many more people headed their direction.  The one who’d fled had gone and fetched a posse. 

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