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PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, '11, 8:26 pm
Chapter 2

We made our way to the door, Lars and I, when a man stood up and stepped in my way. He eyed me quite thoroughly before addressing me.

"What's the rush?" I couldn't decide if his voice was dripping with honey or poison, but it was clear, with this sort of tone, he wanted my complete attention. "This stone, this gem of yours, why bother leaving your meal. I'd buy it from you. Say, ten meseta?"

Once again, I lacked a proper frame of reference so I could not decide if that was an honest offer or not. Judging from the malevolent gleam in my interlocutor's eyes, however, I felt it was probably best to acquire a second opinion. "Lars?"

"Ten meseta is what it costs to pay for this one meal. An honest merchant will give you several thousand meseta for it." There was no lie in Lars's voice.

The man in front of me did not appreciate Lars's honesty on the matter. His stocky build brought his shiny forehead a good few inches below my eye level. What remained of his unremarkably dull purple hair was tied behind his neck. His eyes were of a similar color and his skin was pale and damp. Not the most attractive fellow I could imagine. Compared to him, the innkeeper was a firestorm of happy. "I'd stay out of this, kid. Your father and yourself run a fine, respectable establishment. A real shame if anything was to happen to it." I kept my eyes focused on the man in front of me; deciding that Lars would have to deal with his feelings regarding this barely concealed threat by himself. The man looked straight into my eyes once more. "Let's make you a better offer then. Ten meseta, and we let you walk out of here will all your pieces intact."

I did not need to look around to understand what was bound to happen. I counted at least four men, getting up and slowly walking toward me.
"Fwad, please don't. There is no need for this. I do not want any trouble in my establishment; I will call the guards if necessary." The innkeeper's voice was as calm as I could imagine. A man who could keep his cool made a much better host. 'Fwad' gave him a murderous stare but did not answer his challenge; preferring to keep his attention on me.

A threatening situation; the first one I faced since I came to, some days ago. I had no idea how my true self usually dealt with such a predicament, so I chose to let my mind sync with my instincts. I lowered my stare, very slowly, until it met my opponent's once more. My voice was calm, cold and calculated. "I must be honest with you, I prefer Lars's scenario, by far."

The diminutive man took one step back. "Then I guess I get the gem for free since you do not want my money. This can be easy, or it can hurt just about as much as you wish it." He swiftly gestured to the men around him. I heard Lars trying to interfere but one of Fwad's men promptly forced him back onto a chair. The innkeeper's son did not dare get back up.

Two of the men were directly in front of me, I saw them approach, raising their hands in an aggressive manner, uncertain of this strange traveler they were facing and planning to rob. Uncertainty was always unsettling and challenging; this was a concept that had been brutally imposed on me these last few days.

The first openly hostile action came from behind. I felt a hand brush the top of my right shoulder, no doubt reaching for my neck. I did not think; my body took over and the next few seconds flowed by as if they had been programmed. I took a step back, suddenly closing on my attacker who failed to adapt quickly enough to this unexpected turn of events. I saw his extended arm, his hand move into my center of view, unable to reach for my throat now that I had stepped back. I raised my left arm and seized his wrists using my hand; I used his momentum to gently pull and as I moved aside and spun ninety degrees to my left, propelling him forward. My unfortunate opponent lost both his sense of balance and his dignity has he stampeded forward, heading head-first into a nearby table.

This placed my right side to the two frontal attackers while the man who had been at my back was now on my left. The fellow in question took a step back, uncertain of what to do. His comrades however demonstrated they were significantly bolder as they both moved in unison, trying to grab me all at once.

I took a sudden step to the right, closing on them. My right elbow soon found its way to my far right attacker's ribs. He backed up and doubled over, reaching for his lost breath. Making good use of my remaining attacker's momentum once more, I simply nudged him aside with the back of my hand, sending him a few steps ahead. Not enough to hurt him, simply to get him out of my personal space.

Not at all unhappy with my own performance, I looked at Fwad, making sure not to let any emotion transpire. I was honestly convinced that he would back down. This gem would prove to be too much trouble to acquire through dishonest devices.

I was sorely mistaken. Fwad gestured to his men again. "That was an unfortunate decision, traveler. Now you will lose your gem and quite possibly your life."

The men around me unsheathed various weapons. One had a pair of daggers; two of them wielded long swords. Actually, one of these fellow's blades might have been a rapier, I do not think that even with my full memory, I have ever been an expert in blades. The one I had sent on a crash course to the table produced a flanged mace, cleverly hidden under his overcoat.

"Kill him." Fwad's voice croaked, merely stating the obvious or their intent.

Most probably motivated by a fueling anger; the man with the mace was the first to charge. I felt my stance relax; I spread my legs so my feet were about as far apart as my shoulders were. I lowered my center of gravity and breathed slowly, ready to receive the charge. My attacker's howling charge was clumsy and brutal; he swiped his mace in a great arc which I had no trouble deflecting. I locked my hands on his arm and with a sudden twist, snapped his elbow until I heard the bone snap. He screamed again, this time from the pain. Remorselessly, I lunged forward and crushed his nose using my own elbow. The man dropped his weapon and fell down, holding his bloody face with his intact arm. The battle was over for him.

Both sword-wielders attacked at once. This was a situation I did not anticipate well. I lowered my stance yet some more and tried to move closer to them, disallowing them the range they gained with their weapons. I felt the first blade scratch my ribs. A rapier was not a slashing weapon but a device used to skewer its wielder's unfortunate foe. The blade missed me of course, but I felt it rip my garments and tear my skin as its point ran across my rings on my left side.

I chose to ignore the pain for now and upped the stakes a bit. Shifting my weight to the back, I took advantage of the motion my attacker followed to pierce me with his blade. My right leg left the ground and I swiftly sent my feet behind his extended leg, crushing his knee. This unbalanced him greatly. I took the opportunity to push forward, completely setting my weight on the leg I had just used. I raised my left leg high and send my knee to his chest. My foe dropped his rapier and backed up, pressing both his hands against his heart to take in the pain. The distance was now sufficient to allow me to lift my leg further and sent my foot to crush his throat; another one down.

I had trouble finding proper pacing as I allowed my left leg to touch the floor again, possibly because there were now two men on the floor and multiple pieces of furniture lying around. This left me wide open and my opponents were no fools. I felt the cold bite of one of the daggers, finding a target under ribs in the back. This time I could not endure the pain just as well. I roared in anger and turned around to exact vengeance. I believe that in some distant part of my mind, I heard the innkeeper scream for this to stop and call the guards as loudly as he could.

The dagger wielder was now facing me and his face displayed a satisfied grin. "You will pay for what you did to my comrades!" He pressed forward and attempted to stab me again! I moved closer to the sword wielder and ducked while I took notice of how my other opponent now flanked me. He swung his blade horizontally but I crouched low enough to avoid the blade that would have surely killed me!

With my right hand, I seized a nearby wooden stool and used it to deflect the next sword attack. As soon as this was achieved, I stepped back again and used my improvised weapon to grab the dagger wielder's right arm between the stool's legs. I twisted sharply and heard the wrist snap. The man screamed in pain! I wanted to finish him but I once again felt the cruel bite of steel as the sword opened a large gash in my right leg.

Stopping to acknowledge this wound would mean my death. I flung my wooden weapon toward the sword wielder. He tried to deflect with his blade; a weapon clearly not designed for this task. Moving to my left again, I grabbed the man with the daggers and violently swung him aside, sending him crashing into his acolyte. They both fell on the floor, crashing among the tables. Now was my chance to finish this. I wanted to move on Fwad, give him a piece of my mind, but apparently, the rat had fled when things began going downhill for him.

I noticed just in time as one of the men on the floor threw a dagger at me. I moved aside, dodging. Doing so meant putting my weight on my wounded leg; this was not desirable, the pain was maddening. I felt dizzy. Blood loss was taking its toll and my seconds were few.

Just as I was devising a way to finish this, a strong and loud voice startled me.

"Stand down! By order of this majesty King Nial, you will not resist and you will come with us!"

Guards wearing the royal uniform; authorities coming to settle this at last. Just as well, who was I to argue with them? I gave them a quick nod before passing out, crashing on the floor.
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