Dragon Fire: Episode 18

As he neared the estate, Aric kept low, inching his way through the shadows of the overgrown trees. The stone wall surrounding the estate had one large gate, strong enough to withstand the force of an army. But Aric was alone and certain he could not get through. Pressing against a tree, he glanced around and spotted three archers positioned along the top of the north wall, a lookout for each direction of approach. He knew he must move quietly and swiftly if he were to scale the wall unnoticed. When he felt Tolora brush against his leg, he held out his hand and whispered,

“Not yet.”

Moving back away from the wall, he saw no guards along the western wall of the estate. The only way up was dangerously close to the nearest archer, and Aric knew if he were seen, there would be no time to stop the alarm.

Glancing down at Tolora, Aric asked,

“Ready?”

Tolora turned and sniffed the air. After a moment, she lowered her ears and a low growl rumbled up from her throat.

Aric said, “Be careful.”

Searching the ground, Aric snatched up a stone and spotted another too far away to reach without being seen. He slipped the stone into his satchel then commanded,

“Go!”

Tolora bolted, running through the wood just slow enough for the guards to see her.

When she reached a clearing in front of the estate, she stopped and looked up, sniffing the air.

“Look there,” one of the guards said, pointing to Tolora.

“I wager that I can strike her from here,” the other boasted.

“Let us see,” the first guard challenged.

The archer pulled back on his arrow as Aric readied the stone.

But before the arrow was released, the third guard left his post and said,

“Stop.”

“What?” the readied archer asked in surprise.

“We have our orders. None of the wild life is to be killed. We are to watch the gate and let no one pass.”

While the men were arguing, Aric quickly slipped the stone back into his satchel and ran for the wall, grabbing the second stone as he passed and tucking it away. Nearing the corner, he leapt for the wall and began slowly climbing. Just before he reached the top, he stopped and waited for the archer to return. When the guard resumed his post, Aric reached up and grabbed his collar, pulling him over the wall.

The archer fell over the side with a cry, quickly muted when he hit the ground.

As the other two archers leaned toward the sound, Aric worked his way along the wall until he was on the north wall with the two archers just above, glancing over the side where their comrade had fallen.

Aric quickly reached up and threw one of the archers to the ground.

When the last guard turned and saw he was alone, before he could draw his bow, Aric was upon him, pulling him over the edge.

Aric dropped to the ground inside the wall and moved toward a set of stone steps leading down. He knew he did not have long before the guards would be discovered missing. At the top of the steps, another guard leaned against the wall, sleeping soundly. Aric held his breath and slowly moved around the guard until he reached another section of the wall. Pressing against the cool stone, he crept along as he searched for the largest house in the estate. Up ahead he saw a small gate with a large house just beyond. When the guard patrol passed the gate, Aric slipped inside and found himself in a courtyard with trees and flowering plants. In the center seated at a table, he saw a woman, her face turned away.

He looked for a place to hide and a way past the woman to the house.

“Stop,” the woman charged, still seated.

Aric did not respond. He held his ground and waited.

“I do not know who you are or why you have entered my home, but you will go no farther,” she ordered.

Dressed in leather and cloth, her right hand rested upon a sheathed rapier.

Aric reached for the hilt of his sword and slid his right foot around behind his left, turning his body to the side.

“You will tell me why you are here, or you will hang from your feet by the wall until the birds have picked the flesh from your bones,” she warned.

Silence hung in the air. Slowly the woman stood and turned, stepping into attack position.

Her brown eyes glared at Aric as she unsheathed and raised her rapier.

“You have no answer? Very well,” she said.

When Aric withdrew his sword and then a second from another sheath, the woman scoffed,

“Two swords, eh? Your defeat will make an even more entertaining story.”

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Published in: on July 5, 2011 at 9:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

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