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Bloodforged, Part 2


edonil
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“Alright boys, everyone in?” Murphy said, grinning around his cigar as he spun a set of dice through his fingers with practiced ease. He looked around at the spectators who were watching the game, a predatory gleam in his eyes. “Anyone else want to try a spin afore we start going?”

Phelan pulled out an empty chair and sat down, setting down a handful of Guild scrip on the table. “Count me in, I’ve got nothing else to do for now.”

“Didn’t you lose enough money last time?” another of the soldiers quipped.

“Of course I did. Now I’m trying to get it back!”

The group laughed as Murphy spun out his roll of the dice. They clattered across the wooden table, landing solidly on a fairly average roll, three fours, a five and a one. A few rolls later, and the other soldiers hadn’t managed to upset that as the high roll. As the newest player at the table, Phelan was the last to roll. He scooped up the dice, shook them a few times, and let them fly.

“Oh bloody hell,” he swore as the dice came up all ones. He placed the money he’d lost in the middle of the table, and stood up. “Apparently Lady Luck and I don’t get along,” he said with a grin as the soldiers laughed all the harder. He watched a few more rolls before walking out into the night air.

It had been a few days since the mysterious bandit attack on the village, and they had been quiet ones. Phelan still spent the few odd moments mulling over the issue of who the attackers were, but he was coming up blank on any useable theories.

“Evening, Phelan,” a quiet voice said beside him as an arm wrapped around his waist. He looked down and smiled as he saw Sabine smirking up at him.

“There you are,” he said, gently kissing her forehead. “I wondered when you were getting off patrol.”

“We just got back. It’s all quiet out there still.” She sighed and looked up at the stars. “I think I’d feel better about that fact if we’d found those bandits. Unfortunately, we keep finding tracks, but no sign of them.”

“How old?”

“Hm?”

“How old are the tracks?”

“A few days old. I think they’ve left, but I’m still not sure. For now, I’m not about to send a patrol after them to be ambushed, or leave the village defenseless.”

“Well, you’ll figure it out, I’m sure.”

“Easy for you to say,” she said with a gentle shove. “You’re not in charge!”

“And now you know why,” he grinned. “I like not being responsible for everything, thank you.”

Sabine smiled, then yawned. “I’m off to bed. The morning’s going to come far too soon as it is.” With a wave, she headed back to the officer quarters of the barracks. “Good night!”

------

Phelan’s eyes snapped open, and he looked around the room blearily. What had woken him up? His eyes widened as he heard pounding on the door to his house. Reaching under his pillow, he grabbed the knife hidden there, and walked cautiously to check the eyehole. “Matthew?”

The assassin yanked the door open. “What are you doing here at this hour, boy? Is someone hurt?”

“We got strangers at the gate, they need you, Doc! It looks real bad,” the boy said, cheeks flushed from running.

“How many?” Phelan asked as he grabbed a shirt and pulled it over his head.

“Round abouts a dozen, I’d wager.”

“Alright, I’ll head out there. In the meantime, I need you to get some water boiling on the fireplace in my surgery, okay?” Phelan tossed the keys to the kid. “It’s very important you get on that now. Go!”

The boy started running as Phelan headed for the gates, grabbing a lantern on his way. Who would be in this part of Malifaux at night? he wondered with a frown. This far out into the wilderness, no official Guild presence, it was dangerous enough to travel during the day, but nearly suicide in the dark. As he reached the entrance to the town, he saw the night guards with weapons drawn watching a group of men and women who were coming in.

The screams of the wounded and dying tore at Phelan’s soul and he rushed forward. He looked up at the guards, and recognized one of them. “Jonas, get some people down here, let’s get everyone over to my surgery.”

“Who are you?” one of the strangers demanded, his face covered in drying blood. He was carrying one of the women, whose arm looked broken.

“I’m the doctor for the town,” the assassin replied. “Come on, I’ll show you where you can lay her down.”

------

Several hours later, Phelan sat on the steps to his surgery, hands loosely draped over his knees. He was exhausted, in every possible sense of the word. He ran his hand over his face, pressing gently on his eyes in an attempt to ease the pain in his head. The night had been bad. Not the worst night he’d been through, his time as a combat surgeon in the wars had been much more horrible. But still, he had thought he’d left this behind when he left the army.

“Doctor?” a voice asked behind him. He turned around to see the young man he’d talked to at the gate, the blood cleaned off his face.

“Yes? I hope you won’t be offended if I don’t stand up,” the assassin said tiredly.

“I wanted to thank you for what you’ve done. You saved a lot of lives.”

“Not all of them, unfortunately. I am sorry for those I wasn’t able to help.”

“It’s war,” the youth said grimly. “Or at least close enough.”

“What happened to your group? And why in the world were you out here?”

“We’re a new mercenary company from Earthside. We got a contract to come here and do some surveying up in the mountains. No one bothered to let us know just how insane this place is. A few nights ago, we were jumped in the woods. Never saw who attacked us. One moment, we were asleep, the next…well, it all went to hell. Half of our group was dead within minutes. The captain started yelling orders to retreat, and we started running. Didn’t stop until we got here.” The mercenary’s eyes were haunted. “I can still hear the screaming and the gunfire…”

“Did anyone see who attacked you?”

“I don’t know. Haven’t had the chance to ask.”

Phelan stood slowly, his limbs aching. He put his hand on the other’s shoulder. “Come on. I’ll find you a place to get some sleep. You’ve done a good job getting your people taken care of, son. Now you need to take care of yourself.”

Day Five.pdf

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