Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Agents, pt. 4

     We arrived upstairs simultaneously. The living room and front hall were in flames. Standing in the doorway was a tall, rough man in a brown habit and hood. He was holding a torch.

     "You have been charged with crimes against our Order," he said in a deep, gravelly voice. "Your punishment is death by flame."

     At that moment several things happened at once. Tytus and Mentus both had bows drawn, and Mentus loosed an arrow. The man in the doorway dropped the torch, and a split second later Mentus' arrow struck him in the shoulder. The man cried out and stepped out of the house. Two sharp twangs came from outside the house, followed by explosions on either side. Flames leapt up in the room.

     Tytus turned back. "We've got to get out of here," he said.

     Jedstaff nodded. "Follow me. There's a tunnel in the basement."

     We hurried after him, more explosions sounding, accompanied by fires breaking out throughout the house.

     "Blast powder!" cried Jedstaff. "My own favorite weapon!"

     We got to the basement as most of the house collapsed at our backs. Jedstaff ran to the far end of the room and opened to door to the tunnel. I followed Tytus and Mentus to it, but the odd man held back.

     "One minute," he said. "I've got to get something."

     "There's not time!" Mentus shouted. He was right; barrels of blast powder in the basement had caught fire and were about to blow.

     "Hold on!" Jedstaff hastily surveyed his weapon racks. Glancing back at the burning barrels, he sighed and grabbed a sword and spear from the rack and charged toward the tunnel door. We turned and ran, throwing ourselves to the ground as we reached the end of the tunnel.

     The barrels of powder exploded, sending a great fireball in all directions. I felt the heat on my back and back of my head. When the blaze subsided, Jedstaff stood, the tips of his wild hair smoldering.

     The tunnel led out into the snowy forest. We climbed out and looked around cautiously. Tytus spotted the men who'd burned the house walking away. The leader in the habit was still alive, leaning on one of the others for support.

     Jedstaff was thoroughly upset. "Flaming arrows and blast power!" he exclaimed. "That's all it took to bring me down! I can't believe it. I'm not even sure I salvaged the right spear!"

     "What was that?" I asked of anyone listening.

     "I'm afraid," Mentus said, "one of the low level monks or a 'conscientous' villager saw us going to Jedstaff's house. Either way, they sent these... assassins to take care of a possible conspiracy against the Order."

     "What now?" I asked Tytus.

     "We're still on the same mission," he replied. "And with the proper weapons, now we can set up our offensive."

     "Right," Mentus agreed. "So we'd better find an informant to tell us where the Beast is."

     "I'm coming with you," Jedstaff announced. "I've got little else to do now."

     Mentus made no argument, but shrugged and said, "Well, let's go."

     The three of us started off, Jedstaff following close behind, muttering to himself. After a moment, he looked up and said, "But I reserve the right to trade spears with anyone if I see the need."

     I caught one of Tytus' rare, brief smiles.

     Four hours later, our trap was set.

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