The two traveled on foot, exhaustion sweeping them over.
“You still following me?” Akki looked back at Mitch. He was practically dragging his feet now.
“We’ve passed several forks. I don’t believe that this is the road you had intended when you first traveled.”
Mitch glanced up, sweat dripping down his forehead. He had a small pack on his back and a light sword on his waist. Even though the sword was light, just having it on for hours on end was no easy task.
“You haven’t forgotten, right? The coin! You told me you had a lot of it, only to find out you had nothing on you. I mean, you don’t even have a sword! How do you survive? Let me guess, when bandits come, they see how poor you are and leave you be?”
“Exactly!” Akki said.
“Then when one thinks you look pretty enough, and you look like one pretty boy, red hair and all, you think they will not bend you over? What’s going to stop them from-”
“I naturally have my ways.” Akki interjected. And then he smiled. “ I’ll just offer them coin!”
Mitch nearly spat blood. What kind of fool would believe that? Then Mitch grew solemn. I believed it. Damn it!
“You have no coin, do you?”
Akki shrugged, and kept walking, weight free. Not a bead of sweat was on him even though he seemed a bit tired from walking.
Mitch cursed under his breath, but said no more.
As the sun began to hide behind the western mountain range, A forest appeared ahead. The treeline was extensive, reaching as far as the eye could see.
Mitch breathed out a sigh. “I hate bloody forests. Why a forest? You couldn’t head towards the mountain creek, or the forbidden border?”
Akki didn’t pay Mitch any attention. The Mountain Creek and the Forbidden Border were obviously top level danger zones. So, he plowed full steam ahead. It was as if energy seemed to swell within him once he saw the forest.
After crossing into the woods, where the leaves were just beginning to brown, marking the end of summer, a cool wind blew through. The leaves rustled and branches creaked, but that was not all the noise that could be heard.
As the two continued on the road through the forest, the sounds of a campfire, its flames flickering and dancing with the wind tickled Akki’s ear.
Rubbing his palms, he veered right.
Mitch was askance. To travel off the road! Was this guy crazy? But he could do nothing. He wanted to be sure that Akki had no coin. He didn’t want it to be that he had caught a fat sheep, but then let him go, only to find out another grabbed him and ate him. What would his late father say? Mitch shook his head. There was just something that told him that Akki had the coin. Just not on him. And he was dead set on finding it.
As the two approached, a campsite began to come in full view.
A large and dark carriage surrounded a campfire in a small clearing. There were a few people. Two were old folk, obviously servants, and there were also six burly men dressed as guards; but there was one person that snatched Akki’s attention. She had long silky, black hair that draped down her shoulders with red streaks at the tips.
Mitch (narrator): Of course! You know, I should have noticed the way you looked at her. If I did, I would have suffered a lot less on our future journeys.
Just as Akki was going to step forward, Mitch grabbed hold of his arm. Akki turned and looked at Mitch angrily. The first bit of anger he had ever shown since they have met, but seeing the calm and serious face of Mitch, Akki’s mouth twitched. What’s with this guy? Akki thought. What’s with this sudden change?
Suddenly, an arrow shot through the darkness and landed through the neck of one of the burly men. He dropped like a sack of potatoes. Hard.
“Enemy!!” Another burly man shouted.
The girl with the red tips hopped into the black carriage and closed the door.
The two old folk tried to go in with her, but as they pried at the door, the girl pushed it open, toppling the two back, before closing it again.
Men and women on horses sprang from the forest, hooting and hollering, as they bared cold steel.
Arrows flew through the air, but most of the guards found some sort of cover. One of the old folks, the old man, was hit in the back by the arrow and fell. Blood spewed from his mouth as he stretched his arm towards the old woman at his side.
The old woman freaked as she saw the blood, not even giving a care, and ran off in another direction.
“Bandits!!!” Another shout echoed out.
Swords clashed. Metal on metal; sparks flying. The bandits and the guards had engaged.
Akki and Mitch remained quiet behind some bush. They stared at the whole thing. This guy, Akki thought, he’s not just some cowardly fool. It was then that her heard a slight crack. A twig.
Akki turned around and saw that Mitch was creeping away. “You coward!” He whispered loudly. Just when I was starting to think more of you. It seems your cowardness acts like a radar for danger!
Mitch turned around and shrugged, continuing to back out.
It was then that a scream echoed in the air. Akki turned to find the girl with the red tips fighting for the door as a bandit tried to pry it open.
Akki spun around, grabbed Mitch by the collar, and sprang from the underbrush.
“You help the guards. I’ll get the girl!” Akki called back, before left.
Mitch’s face grew ugly. It was too late to go back now. Some of the bandits saw him and Akki, and even if they could leave with no one following at the moment, that didn’t mean they wouldn’t be tracked down later when the odds were more unfavorable than it was now. At least this way, there were some guards to fight alongside with.
Mtich unsheathed his sword. The metal was light and thin. Any thinner and some would be mistaken of as a needle. Mitch took a deep breath, and ran into the fray.
Mitch (narrator): Tell me again why I was the one who had to fight the guards? Couldn’t you have done it and I go for the girl?
Akki (narrator): You had a sword. I didn’t
Mitch (narrator): There were a few dead guys laying around. Couldn’t you have taken theirs?
Akki snuck up behind the bandit fighting for the carriage door. He jabbed quickly with his elbow, and into the guy’s neck. The bandit made a grunt before he fell down, cold.
Akki kicked him away and knocked on the door.
The girl peaked out. Her eyes glanced at Akki, with his wry grin, and then shifted to the bandit sprawled on the ground, and she opened the door wider.
Mitch (narrator): So one strange guy beat another strange guy who wants to kill you. You still open the door?
Akki (narrator): What can I say? I just have that appeal.
Mitch hacked his sword in the back of one of the bandits. That bandit fell down, but there were still ten to go, and only three guards remaining. The guards had huddled up together, making it harder for the bandits to kill them, but still, within moments, three had already been cut down.
A bandit who was facing the guards saw Mitch, and attacked. Mitch dodged left, only for an arrow to woosh by his ear. Hot blood tricked down the side of his face.
“Damn it! That darn archer!”
Mitch had not forgotten the archer. Usually one would target the archer first if you were a third party, thus saving your members from being attacked, but that was just not the case here. Akki had already gone, and if he went after the archer, he would be fighting a long and tiresome long distance battle.
No archer, especially one accustomed to the terrain, would ever have let him get close. And if he was not close, all the archer had to do was fire arrows at him. Of course there were surprise tactics and ambushes that could have been made, but Akki made sure to put an end to that when he had dragged him out for everyone to see.
Mitch moved around. He fought and killed the bandit, while keeping his eye on the archer.
The archer tried moving into his blind spot, but Mitch was just too careful.
He fought and fought, and blood flowed. More and more bandits fell to his sword, but by now only one guard was left. This one was skilled. He fought desperately.
Akki sat in the carriage drinking coffee. “M’lady, This coffee is simply divine.
“Shouldn’t you be helping your friend?” The girl with red tips asked.
“He’ll be alright! He’s strong, you know.”
Mitch slashed down, but the bandit he now faced was not anything like the other amateurs. They met each other, blow for blow. The rate at which they attacked each other was so fast that even the archer dared not fire in case he hit his fellow bandit.
“Ah. So Mina, from CharlesTown. I never would have guessed.” Akki laughed as he smiled. “Where do you-”
The carriage jolted, and the Coffee from the side bar spilled over.
Akki (narrator): Sigh. And it was such good coffee too.
Akki fell over on the girl and they both sprawled on the long carriage seat. He was pressed against her. Their faces close enough to feel each other’s hot breath upon themselves.
A flush of red ran up the girl’s neck and swelled within her cheeks.
“It would appear someone is trying to get in.” The girl said.
“Yes. Probably the archer. Must have ran out of arrows.” Their lips came close, just brushing each other.”
The carriage shook again.
Then Akki got up. He kicked the right side door open, throwing the bandit back. It was indeed the archer. He took a rock on the ground and hit him unconscious.
Akki ignored the sounds of fighting and went back inside, closing the door behind him.
The skilled bandit finally fell.
Mitch was panting. He tried to catch his breath, but it was hard. Beads of sweat trickling down his back and face. Some of it even went into his eyes. It burned. He brought his arm up to wipe some of it away, without fully blocking his sight from scene. After which, he looked around.
It was just him, two sword wielding bandits, and one with an axe that was left. He quickly glanced over his shoulder, and seeing the archer gone, he was not sure whether to feel relieved or worried. An arrow could come from nowhere. And the last guard had already keeled over, clutching the bloody wound in his gut. The odds were certainly not in his favor. Where the hell is Akki?
He took another deep breath, and pounced.
“Now where were we?” Akki’s voice was calm and soothing. He etched closer to the girl.
“You were about to ask me something.” She said, as her big eyes stared into Akki’s.
“Ah. Yes. M’lady. You’re red tips or so fascinating. I’ve never seen the kind. Is this natural for your people?”
The girl laughed. “It was something I did. You like? Just a bit of berry juice.”
Akki froze. “Berry juice!” He turned stiff and opened reached for the door.
“What’s wrong the girl said, touching Akki’s shoulder.
Akki shivered, and his back arched as if he felt disgusted by the touch, and ran outside.
Sweat pooled down Mitch’s forehead. Bodies laid all around him. They were all dead. The archer didn’t attack. Must have ran.
He then saw Akki come out of the carriage, and the girl, with her face a bit flushed, and her dress a bit crumpled. This guy. You mean, all this time!..