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THE DRUNKEN KNIGHT

by Epic Armoury Unlimited

PROLOGUE

The tales are true. All of them! It has been said that I am a savage, a renegade sorcerer, and a noble knight who has seen all sides of the battle. These stories are real, for the most part, but know this - if the rumors are true, who lived to tell tales?

The Drunken Knight

"Passed out once again," shouted the innkeeper to his assistant. "Get this vermin out of my inn. He probably ran out of money, and we don't need his kind in here." he shouted while waving his hand in disgust. Little does he know that my master Emelyn shared the last of his coins with the local friar as he entered the village. What could the innkeeper mean by his kind?

Faint laughs and a few grunts could be heard in the small crowded room. Two armed, thick-necked bouncers head towards the table and pick up Emelyn up by the arms. This place seems to breed shady characters. Telling by the smell, they seem to carry the stench from the mining pits near the foothills where I was found. 

"Leave her alone," shouts a stalky dwarf as he enters the inn. "She ain't to be touched by no one." Who is this guy? My master nor I have never met him before.

"There is a bounty on her head. And I aim to collect." said the Dwarf as he headed directly towards the bouncers. "I said, put her down now!" said in a stern voice.

Now usually this kind of thing just doesn't happen. I mean, who can clearly identify you through a wall in a dark tavern? Did someone tip him off to our whereabouts, and what could he possibly want from us?

This does not go over well for the barkeep. His greed has got the best of him, and he sees an easy opportunity to make a few extra coins. And with squinted eyes and a slight nod indicating "no" to his thugs, this seemingly routine day turns suddenly dangerous.

This Dwarf is fully prepared for any eventuality. He is wearing a rusted chainmail armor with a single pauldron over his left arm. On his right forearm rests a large golden studded bracer engraved with runes. From his wide belt hangs several weapons, all well kept as any real warrior would. The scalps hanging from the hip indicates his abilities in combat.

The bouncers instantly drop my master to the floor and rush in to grapple the Dwarf with their huge hands. Believing that they had the advantage of surprise was their first mistake. Using only two small daggers, the Dwarf takes down the brute on the left in one fatal strike, stabbing the oaf in the neck and chest. The Dwarf anticipated their move to encircle him and positioned the other fighter just where he needed him.

The second fighter draws his shortsword and moves in for the kill. But the small, crowded chamber proves complicated. The fighter struggles to get closer to the Dwarf as patrons rise up in fear and try to leave the fray and quickly loses sight of him. He tries to push his way to the Dwarf but loses him for a moment in the shuffle. 

The Dwarf is accustomed to small spaces, this is his arena now, and he knows it. He scurries under the table to emerge beneath the fighter, and before the fighter could even react, the fight is over, stabbed in the gut with a dwarven short sword. The Dwarf is now alone in the room with my master and the innkeeper, and it isn't long before the innkeeper disappears behind the bar.

Seemingly unbothered by the fact that the innkeeper had anything to do with it. The Dwarf picks Emelyn's limp body and carries her out and into the forest. Lucky for him, there are no kings guards in this town to stop him. 

It is not long after he reaches the forest that my master wakes up. She shuffles her body to break free and falls to her feet while drawing me from the sheath. I am finally free once more. She was playing him all along. She paid the friar to give information in exchange for coins. She was hired to find the leader of the den of thieves and needed a paid assassin to lead her there. She also knew that they had a bounty on her head, so it was just a question of time before she drew their attention. After all, paladins really stand out in this town.

"You have to be the easiest mark I have ever had," exclaimed Emelyn grinning while pointing the sword at the Dwarf's face. "Now, my little Dwarf you will take me to your master, or I'll cut off your stinking beard." edging the blade tip closer to his face. 

A loud laugh bellows out of the Dwarf. "Take her alive, but dead will do!" he said while stroking his fluffy red beard. "Dead is the best for me." He said in a deep tone.

Noticing that the Dwarf hasn't even moved, my master says - " Well, aren't you even gonna try to put up a fight, Dwarf?" while fixing him square in the eyes.

"No need for weapons when you have friends." taking a step towards my tip. "Are you gonna make this easy or hard?"

The ruffling of the branches and the sound of wood on steel confirms her worst fears that she is not alone. With a quick glance, she notices two other, less equipped warriors accompany him. She instantly raises me in the air and spins around for the attack. 

This is the moment I live for. I do not care for the warmth of others; only the blood on steel proves my worth. The attack is swift. It is clear that Emelyn has the skills that I am looking for. Her defense is solid, parrying several blows at a time, and her efficiency in battle is impressive. She is clearly holding her ground, and even unarmored takes down one of the bandits. Slashing twice in the chest and once on the inner thigh. 

"Enough, Francis! Take her out now!" shouts the Dwarf, while taking a step back and slowly drawing a short axe and hammer. 

She continues to stand here ground with only the faintest breath being drawn. She has definitely been trained in the art of war. Grasping my hilt with both hands, I can feel her love for battle. But my overconfidence in the knight is outweighed by the adaptability and lack of honor of thieves.

I hear a faint hiss accompanied by a solid thud sends vibrations through her body. I feel that my wielder is losing her grip on me. Alas, I believe that my payers for a new master have been thwarted once again. Emelyn stumbles to her knees in disbelief of what has happened. She has not fallen because of the Dwarf or the other mangy bandit. But because of Francis. An arrow toting weasel who remained hidden in the bushes with his bow, waiting for the opportune moment.  

I fall to the forest ground as I hear Emelyn draw her last breath. She does not scream or yell out in pain. She was a knight who died with honor on the field. 

"I think I will keep this one," Francis says as he picks me up by my soft leather grip. "Too bad about Aerim", he says aloud "should have known better than to mess with her." - said in a muttering voice. 

But this can't be? Is my fate to be sealed in the hands of this cowardly archer? I hope my new master knows how to fight. Because where we are going, there is no room for mistakes. 

Author - 
Patrick Penning



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