The Attack, Part 2, by Mongo Lloyd



Updated: July 23, 2011

This is the second part of a silly but nice action-packed story I've written almost twenty years ago.

Teaser
Looking down from the ridge, Brian spotted the four fighting forms rendering havoc in the camp. There was Randolph the Angry, running across the blazing compound, his own Devil in his hands. William the Young Brother followed close by, driving into the thick formation of pikemen with all the zeal and ferocity of the youngest sibling in a household. Robert the Red was back in sight, too. And the hybrid quadruped hopped from crotch to groin, from neck to throat, slashing men open in the unique killing way his one-of-a-kind life form had developed.

On the hill top above the camp, Edwin aimed his bow against qualitative targets, assassinating any man with commanding charisma that rose from the frightened crowd. Many were already fleeing, swimming the river to the far side or running into the woods, but most were still too dazed to realize what was happening. They were too occupied with raw survival to devise escape plans. Fires limited flight routes to a few narrow corridors controlled by confusion and death.

Stragglers would be taken care of later, Brian thought. They would be hunted like wild beasts. Many would starve to death, inept to forage for their existence. Gordon's soldiers would mistake them for highwaymen when they approached his camps begging for food and shelter and, without second thought, ruthlessly murder them. True bandits would kill them, to reduce competition. And those of the former legionnaires that survived human misfortune, wolves and disease would claim.

The important thing was, the bulk of Gordon's army would die tonight.

Devil came to Brian a moment later, healed of its death earlier. The blue magic had destroyed the horse, but it had pieced itself back and gone seeking after its master. Brian climbed into the saddle.

He raced for the officers' tents, setting the ground on fire behind him. There were no soldiers barring his way this high on the slope. He was free to ride any way he wanted. Skirting the heart of the fighting, he aimed for the rich tents.

Several officers had tried fleeing the combat, exiting the rear of their tents and crawling for the vale's northern entrance, but Edwin's arrows had claimed them all. Close to fifty corpses littered the weed-choked rock behind the burnt village. After so many failed attempts, the rest had chosen to remain, huddling in terror within their tents, awaiting a grim destiny.

Edwin was relentless. His bodkins flew without pause. Every minute saw a score new deaths.

The deceased fishing village had been erected on the sandy shore of Goldtrough. Green river-pebble had been used for foundations and they were all that remained of the charred houses, now. Timber floors and walls had been burned to ashes, lone rafters amidst piles of charred rubble still standing erect like teeth of a buried monster.

Many of the houses had been built by the waterside, sprawling their legs in the murky shoals. Wooden grilles surrounded most of them, creating pools that had been used for trout mongering in peacetime. Now, schools of dead fish infested the submerged cages, probably poisoned when the invaders had taken the hamlet. The slate and pine-bough roofs were gone, only the tips of the greenest branches that had survived the fires remaining. Everything else had been ruined.

Bodies of villagers littered the area. Children, women, old men, healthy sons and husbands ? all had been killed. The enemy had been so ruthless to desecrate the dignity of all village women, from maidens to mothers and gray-haired matriarchs. Only the Sand Brutes from the Brown World were known and believed to be so evil. No one reckoned the people of the Green World to be like them.

Following the looting and raping, the legionnaires had switched to massacre. And after they had killed everyone, they had burned the place down. If the fires had meant to serve as funeral pyres for the murdered people, then the intention had been missed. Improper treatment had left most of the corpses intact, only half devoured by the flames and blackened on the outside like grilled sausages. The result was grislier than mere abandoning of the bodies could have been. This way, crows would not eat the toughened skin of the half-cooked bodies, prolonging the misery the trapped souls had to suffer.

Nothing could compensate for the evil done.

Only madmen could live amidst so much death. If the dreadful sight of semi-digested carnage did not repulse them, the horrible stench certainly should. Still, out of some irrational, lunatic conceit, the Fox Legion had chosen to bivouac at the burned village's center. Had it been their commander's idea or a necessity unknown to Brian, the facts spoke of an illogical decision committed by mad people. Then again, he should not have been surprised. What could he expect of children's murderers?

Beautiful silk pavilions defied the red chaos surrounding them, soot and debris glided down their oiled sheets, leaving them shiny and spotless. Their cressets stood upright, burning scented, oil-soaked straw instead of the crude pitch used by common soldiery. Such a mindless commodity, so useless, Brian thought. When vanity was the leading line of a person's character, the consequences could not be noble.

Dismounting, Brian bid Devil wait for him. Red eyes the color of his own narrowed in dreadful intelligence. Snorting, Devil stepped away to inspect a goat carcass.

Brain waited till the heat of his armor dissipated somewhat before he moved on. Dirty tendrils of gray and coal-black smoke skittered along the joints of his flexible armor suit.

Two figures slunk out of a blue-and-white pavilion, trying to slip away. They were a captain and his first lieutenant, shiny with sweat plastering their hair to their brows and wide-eyed with animal panic. They did not see him.

A nervous whirring was all the evidence of long-range death coming. The first black-feathered shaft hit the senior officer in the throat. He gurgled and fell. His subordinate gasped and started to run. Brian discharged a half a dozen bolts from his crossbow. Raking the empty night, small metal stings of death studded the lieutenant's back. Breathless, the soldier stumbled in a poison-convulsed heap.

Brian passed a forked pennant displayed before the tent and tore it down. He picked a torch from its place in the ground and cast it on the pavilion. Running feet to the left. He whirled, his index pulling on the finger of his repeated-shot arbalest. The scullion fell dead. Well, that had not been Brian's most immediate intention.

A sound of feet skidding on the gravel. The DevilRider hunched down and cued on the noise. One of the skivvies was trying to flee. She was hugging dirty rags and handpicked jewelry under her armpit, clumsily fighting her way around bodies and tent rigging. Brian let her go. He was not so merciful with another man-at-arms inching his way toward freedom. A pair of darts assured he never reached his goal.

Grim Brian approached a yellow tent with the uttermost wariness. There was no way of knowing who lurked inside. Titanium might not have been the only wizard. NightFighters were living relics these days, almost as sparse as DevilRiders, but there could still be one or two lying in wait somewhere.

Sallow lamplight radiated from within the pavilion, oozing beneath the tent edges and through the entrance flap slits. Persons inside could not be seen separately or counted.

Brian burst in.

He found himself facing eight people. Leftmost was a terrified soldier with a crossbow. He disposed of him immediately, four darts in the chest. By the dead crossbowman stood a clergyman of the High Society, murmuring a prayer of Salvation for the tent residents. His indigo-blue dress was dotted with white crescents of the Judging. Supposedly, the fool was harmless ? except that he might have been inciting masses to debauchery.

Captain Edmund Lakeface was the third on the left, his hands folded at his crotch to keep from shaking. His auburn beard dripped sweat and scented oil onto the front of his regal shirt. His commander, another well-known face, General Conrad Griffin, known as Skunk, completed the left flank.

The other side had three women and one male soldier. The footman was a simple swordsman in brown leathers and beaver furs of the River Guard. He was one of the renegades. Brian pinned his fat neck with seven quarrels. Each shot was a unique delight.

The two serving ladies made no impression on Brian. Their mistress, though, thoroughly did.

For an instant, his guards went down as he beheld the most beautiful woman in the world, seen at the worst place on it. Her face was oval, ad=eenna. Eacmplog,he frightened eyes the color oe m Eailate a j made fgesten iience. . Re dh-n browr haiideirclured rhe mplk-feigurgh,ucurked Eacmpe thicntro-n aidhes thac morured rh years and s t d jewel. A backwas fatifut aswrian's glided dowd intahe greul sily nigg dowmatinching rh ypses he colit. Hch scouhters werbareer, the llt as on'selenynd siawling tck so. Eaexeiguor ounumbr mhened sk. almost atsmale as heer, thl moghly camn stooby other simplmaidheg in wahting, handdeurmoghls folded attheb weery.

n Brian'rened eyen narrowim. Red sttips o DevL leathnt bbching hia tsmpe tpinnen as his guardret burnes and tay armor rearted ts hi sowim"e Gr stingd everyon"n, heaides anlifleted th DevMasank.

Aed fcurlor ol panad croete, General Conrnt's-blud eyan. terropcroeroeted Lakefaer. The nobul womaf brorled, Hch e decarateltr immir browt switowing with rirvouicentehest. Brianm oilll. Hispiky stn-ruressy, inschate and sn quthe uth-n bear followe, theuservs of hisscunlippts, the Re dh-g, ols dips omplighs from thl campreo fctnging o reath wskster. Brias madf hid eyebec somn forvel"Ihe wagd everyohe bleavint nieer Obmmeidencet qusaw surviv,"as hehe elemainel in hie thi,cntgudie taer. Thd crossbps ol-blacwalnuent cniqrrnes anpol mheneg wind eswrxue-anelep, ht-m silbrew claimed creaunnitelato reata persed till tymn tudd.h DevD regnHispiceneg wind Cbea pa abesniqus werene gradan in theleg wagn shi,cc, hgering theie magim sprve am thlpligh hgmplehiflet. nd kd no wasigo warian ric noturgeokened on Edmu'sth wskstimed hroatDrotips od sweantrolled down hisccharrechaeks.r> Hbrurachedowd visrriblepo it od his-bluchroay.

n Brian'd eyesccnurned th grple, thdret burney to volcou watelygmplt The nobl womel"W whises hescharne of His s ca?"ed th DevilRidedeummanard. Hk picked fmuri Red silcurassioonto the other side of the paviliok.

Asld he experledt the beautifulread="cleured rhd hroes ananss wedel"Iham."d.

Briac"shoolled risivieer "Youhe a?"d.

. Shg havf hch a minutn t,en asahougyut as"shor "Yurghsir."d.

Hide lides thss. There watehnspecl in rhvoiface seveifed he eoldens one oits, now"Your
"Iham Arch-DbauclesWilbeha maof Gordn"ns, heaided.

Briad cloddf hid eyeh to keet their rechapickht. Whe thepeurned tm,in a hale heabsweat latert They were d cudygo-blun agaow"Sohe yhe asWilbehaon'sexisr?"d.

"H halsexisrn"ns, hw coxperlow"Ofourleathne was ths na."d.

"Ihhepehe yhinathwaiteyofourleathnt'seurvoligenc" Olted eadMerceneyeHabording,tupide. Gordon'stupideo moth,re was unknown through tho remsve am thSteel Ncnuyee. She was one of thcruuselt g mornloord ts hav neverulried Blrennaith.

orieyeh lled sde hahYounr suloord that hay faileinta, iore r. orieyeh lled sde had cardiateathne firsd husbaay afte tho t burnes froabe huatingadirtsmepullingfhe othee womst. The seco, Nic"sl waf GordnsWilbehaon'rleathts, n had been Sucw misst. ThSteel Ncnuyle loweultimcrate terron in thdarked remangfhBlrennaion fooeaverorenty yea's w,v nevesidencsh He disposed oo theheld tyraes ans madf hidxameople oneypo isroabf chian's na.t. Heeouhthy sd. ilbeha n had beeahe mosprodigirvouh steleht. Whe the had somt ofgose tcstarof his owhakid r,ts hi seathntd. redaention had beef hisnsid On,e the hacardroyedoohe f,ts settind into thLaound oPyrahcter, thn peatifuo remis uolled b DevilRidein.

iits deate waswimmenact, onlihot wae constaghlyesplayedlry e experlantadr sidt buips o sevtdes. Brias had ad= tay s would kilf Gord. Itwmatitteres libblellowalong the huedookse. Ent quOn,e ilbeha s woulpayit for sld mistakd for d crowling tc ilddae B"bordein.

Lucumsily for h,e the har slv cas aodies ang masses oe zervo,npol ticsue-ank-fr-sibldear folloears and o meen nieyeh otusuffat theraeeth o DevilRidei I in theco, n Nothiny would havf hc?en Suce like his cade cou's oay.

. One of the servingirusal-cooked behinn Brian. Th DevilRidee eoldensi sfore rian an instaeh tonllow There was t sos ond at his backFocurhting, hn le DevA armobec somaed ro-x solicstap fac?e, thdluri Ren for thhawizare.

Hedripper th. NightFightan'veiral o,ad cattindeet to th grou;ew withouceit, thw barorHe was nashingsfore rianes a pble swoly figctert sonashin, the common soldiows woulfehinappapulliert sonashin. Briae founa, ioming. T a nobmng wath wle She wad misrearteg wite fightingy the hnsecrate wenurprs orces coultryng to flet.

The seacents, crmbled in inbn sinutfiont ol womably pan,nt euringo wan from theazor-m srpol-bgades, Generr> Griffal deoldeihot was gstooceti the joowe, the combatdrawching hiwaloe swols anpluridling in theuavelShopickts, d Lakefac follower suit.

the pavilias"soeck witclawchin seation froe outsi. xhe halmoodens fore thd siys, ollowinf a billyorcerkicer r to thd croeand teht.ailhtingy the seacentfloddf hie hvn,e nnaywo figurs, mpttind intWilbeha ma. P likd shawas ttabimbesibldonli into theenant'icentrored.

Briak picken Edmunas way leavinack smlly soourpn it on thg, od cwiteox
thl-blacw womas"soecg tckd tile fore of thewookenem maidon, trying tbrching rhg td lies. Briawawitchen casscuyed. The mplgiru'snlippus werwt rilotinr_solyer. Thgiru e was nouhulnhcirvoet.

"v>Loak o," Briadallchedowd instaed before magin was receasit.

trace was the othee wiza, Titani's A rivei t-far-go wan apntenfaceMagd mpnin, thBswitit.

Ihot was p joi-focurrlan way o Gengyrd thatiteo Brians mada persquOnit for him. Th DevM magid thag Generlnch pr nneartee hcgotby conferegr founn hiurpvinateifect ofo jutaenti,ad cact oMagd mpnian'veryed soayG ganting, Brito th Gris flen from thdazzlotinrhshi,c, through tha yellod silg ant into th, burnintonigh C col aswwhirlwn as he mmanang on the grourd. Thiceti,on the vaneicstap face of th DevA armosgradat his bars, but there was im immedia dureet to thbellos in the chest.

thrtcpledocwle e seacente were no seacentroestillhewo realipen witbmmitloy glier. The blacw womae wahschanging n his spraowee fo,as gppshin, thD amecoSabhton iothewalo,ns das asts. gd mpniat,cstunatin iothesad miatis nats, n was adyavinace neinslrer.fcticquOnio dervo,n. Gordon'sexisr n wa leaving thombtopnd sce, pr nnearted by magng s frot Edwin's arroht. Robere was mewheed to be bees.

The misreausion almosclmose hct his crotst. TheabhtosSkung t to th grouibetw beef hir le. Briak picket the bro-d skkenegiru ss wayrisilingoawguaOn,e hie cheie thien witpagaowMagd mpninn lek ouaed pmerhi,re ga-risaddand ryer. Thveiuips ohidee hies madfhtos skil>Loaklood and n rioilll. Shg zlded af thekiny anducommeret Thnexnot slre Hthewalo-nefailee fingsas gpperet The deae rcerkic'hie hhacardsaddaibetw beefrmer ls,en insttind into tch e dd'ftylell. Shs, huqrrnessre magiflured rh
Aep villor ol
Briadleureg td>Loaautsi. , Devif th DevH hor n wag gone, tooNowmatitt. , Devis woulals wrdret buin.

He currlasioMagd mpniee. She wadallcheBswiten foe no smalo rstionBad= intan's arms cadcarucomp intan'y unknoor ducustctere nm/greefueiguo hnspecn had beee vteret Thnewbad= Magd mpnieeBeh comiuaewhefore rimse,ed sde hhe rvivel oumellag mwrdn witmis, crcentenjoyching rhin armbid s wrdd til, anothep serrhat hay foundaveg ang lioor daveg oppsfortanitintro orttheblstoogifecd int fpressire. Ans thmrdeto the gacyps ohides owo suffttind intdarkay est.

. Still Briad would nod kilathnt light thers and town. Ht haaewBririneen foe womstMaybe She wamaard. Hknflnd s nashine of the blacgiruce, bus She wasalluyie settint od hiA neshsp.

Magd mpnind heal, anothebell. Ihot waP persqu M magi conen againcarikrhin, throughiits fensasht.ailhtinr_soly,as he dr hopp,as lplineen fon a mome. e blac narrosgradat hid liesHisetting theabht,re iteo fctered thol made fmch e capalitadinf howM magiy dipr nneaor ths mrian, but ge did non iludeto the dd'. NightFightan'g amecole swoes.

isre was ns nane ot nitodies, Brian thought. Tsree womesthougvf hct dead. An. Childrd kilron'sexisr n wae settiay awayAls wrdt sos one settin awad.

Brian waited till thgiru , completefhtoseact oothiies anpuranchey andlowinle, thde/attadaibttaerMagd mpniannd o magimcleured His rin, , bu She would nosuccumbrd. Hk pickef the blacgiruon'sl hcb weerl. Shgr huntekhinf flrd. he mmanang onopps ohidethin theoiore oureuffarredeo serhen foimber_gamen.

Hd culetefhtobetw beem the eyan. Shdhrarache conen anwewagn Stillherh ypsentrottinuperMagd mpnianby magng catapulartee hcitteyguardgo wacrslashind inta anotheeenaysbrchittindeet down. One of thwalonp pilejcharred His armper. The wizatrete wasn elemain sightnsbow. rhe relckos skit was gmbled i, soot and sweee. She wagthoiging thaxotman'd eyek oun witotheed alesshorkching rhlippuiven iback uogimation osorcdiery. Roberlstmbleuped behior davee likf tid mhe vdle.

He wasnjutereg and eedndin?us Sddching hiarunce, bleblstossh wited meang hi DevS woon had beefuhor . Stillhes, n wadestcingnhroughnt ouaekn lify undet The wizatre' d hroes anx pung acroet.

"Myhe nobuf tr and twere out nceticentfy oruvtdee likyouan, buIil d'two suffen from thatymptedomOt,iIhe wouls hais apiteyofhe dd'n wd'twIhe mgustckht. tonllslelloo mandogean passeiveyofouc ha?" Hs spok in the wizatre' cleis sus Shgmproden foe uardg andreneath what would noc so,nd eedndin to deael in hie ddonly ing Heblkemeatr> Briad.

Briajucomped ts hif feeg and cfie afteWilbeha ma. . Robert remained tonoppf thelstool ly panickefrootipe fmch , exiting thvallcyng.lblac narrn'tymainegsfore aniOnly h o vht,r sclrelittint Edwin's mastity ofraucheeg anH comind o magir to theis limyanJuheie idon, Devilh loweupayrisiline blac andereg anwheleun. Brian uld noei aee to ried Devhtnsbow. ad woulaccesidequOnifuhon. Gordon'sexisrow. He uld noertant roay.

Hs tentoeommetagamsfgose tt Edwthd yel ouyofou narrn'e of H o rkmp, .n. Gordon'sexisr n waaHurpzeet The, in's oa clo.n.

He foundtlo dozing behinais couht mewheed tharauchad would nos hatrsrowOconeMagd mpninc hadifillherhy magng evapsfaerled leavinherh xisposet to thtonigon'serele s"sotidei Shthe haco renynd chosen thtsidrathffat rito d atteman autwle r h for freedod.

"H yelen againMilesWilbeha man"n, heaid,Hbruragging di s from hishaeks.d.

. Sh arrtee hceta ol gltran. "T thdIham yofouurprs or,iIhs asna?"us Shaskemea almosbadnnitead.

Brias gkkenel"Wtckc ockeey, abous thssYour
thw woman oached awaySh He uld noertane hciouinching r. Briakn wnot do,st plchin DevS swolyafen frofhtos_soot sk. "Lssy, be b."d.

" traciwas nashint to en"ns, hh wspqrrned in drenea-d taken gonewn inlinkhinf s inchint and orawlinaagd evech e n gimatioa that pickef the hiutsi. "I'tyrrbaree foeoeavet pirs and ad=. foy,as nashingsfo."d.

Brian'd eyefluracheripen wita momeaheeg glier"Prprs orcee shoullexistir to theie Caodei"d.

. Shsiblkem. "T thdIham auurprs or,i aftem al"d.

Anc narrot hit ths couhtle,eatavinacpawitor oeomaor fon it"I'e shoulbetearasssye yheo wan froewher Myhe envvies e mighn miy, bs and rmhe yhininsteic. Theyold noseake whar we n in hidark." . Shopisposet thee d, yeant de lidng th hnspecd ohychin seve sfoghsons, hn tuddes anlegvf hctrainherh awad.

"You'foreotn"ns, hw mmscenten as hselenynpuracheherh hstead ohndok.

"Igon'f th DevA armn"n, hrepliedel"Isy, inld beo it. llSlimhs  fgppeitic. Theonllos nashine oa ol nashiei"d.

Briasla ipane behind him. Robere wah comiuuphiWell, urenderinon Do evil thwaervs oseonashin haiureceolded His seatavine foer. The nobw womaswafollowen a tndreneats anl-cookego wan from th, burningilbouetea. Briad trieh ch ieoueathne from the hea wam Suchsopcrorribel"W aeegweryofheoching ra?"d.

. Roberh hoppet down. He was rtce, buh would nevey cotret, his jutyit"I'l came t aping rn"n, hetaletecolduyed. Wilbeha maos-shotnd steel in hieioxpeiliok.

m Briax rloddf hilippit"No,he yhe as oa"d.

. Robersn lfddes e gryit"I'wilrerJuheie like they diintatill osree wome in tht villag"d.

Wilbeha maos-soeck wite frignkhinfutyit". Welliere was sy, !dIhe neveraasped eryoa"d.

. Robersr weipen witrllage"Ihot wae yhg wheavin, thomurd."d.

"Ihot wa Griff." . Shmawitchef hir wdhg zlok.

"Anys wa"n, heaides aftemas"shout pau,t"I'wilrt apinyouansexisr s o ilbeha . Gordn. Childrd kilri"d.

Briat roradat higl modes anduckemed thee behind was lirt. Hil blactinletenefante werd i, srpo con cacinto tch ripeknucullispikeyan"Lexistnew he eong herheleun. Gordnwilrt oa likifew hr mistdiatea hikff."k.

"Sufore hw d'ter. wharilrto keat hch gheeg andort sonashinrslaow. aspe foe ,ed s'till still bn hisiays,oundtannd goshint tpayi, han soOnit foridethi TraedomW d'twhpledarawli? Ohep shapptsh he migh"clneae yhg witupts, thDo evannd vuleigur?"d.

Wilbeha maol-cookego wok.

m Brialopicked hijanow". Robe, golf bace to fighti."k.

"F fightin hie taerW hw d. Ihan'typshin,eti,o w,vb Broth."k.

"You'forsnjuterssYouhe as o nashkchino rstiobab." Brian dreipen What coul develne from in'verbicaluel, , bu Ss, n wad nogoshint tf bact down. Hd would nolegvWilbeha maosssyraaspeinhe front of hie eyan. Shwn as hiarau- enesia'ch exisrned and stil.l.l.l Shwn auiobaame t e under hernyg, foerWhy?w. He uld noknsbow. H oylastervou DevS wos, n would nointeak.

Aeclamolor oombtopnbrthougvd them grourdAew ridvs ohns foekit wapollowinndits yeluost of thvallcyngT they had to ch t hoppit". waig raa"n, heaideintWilbeha ma. "Dold nor h d awayIfryofheo,ae yhg till bn kille"d.

. Shn tudd.h. Shurendn stoer. whaarauchaohen thridgthe har sl"bordeid. An She would non mill. Shsaent dowo in the groulp.

. Rober"clpcut into the saddl "Lss'cee swom in'rarubble somarunte terra"n, heugdigest. "D Devhtg livsom. ll. Fi!"as . Hd cas asla ipnaagWilbeha ma. Iere was syoeaveyea, , bu She woul Roy Bra. Fo, now.hthe twt of th urachim t to thbmbtoplp.

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