Couldn’t leave things sort of hanging there could we?
In the second half of Chapter Eleven LifeGuard arrive thus Karlyn & Deya Beritt meet
In this unexpected violence Both Meradat and Karlyn had part dove, part been knocked to the ground; she was the first to look up
“And now there are none of them left. All blowed up now,” she turned to Meradat current engaged in sitting up and brushing fragments of the wayside from his clothing “Did you cause all that to happen with a really big pray?”
“No,” she couldn’t understand why he sounded displeased. Maybe custoadies didn’t like to be rescued, made them feel not fearsome enough “This was another agency. I daresay they will make their presence known soon enough,”
He then began to rummage amongst the bodily remains, scowling, kicking a part with his boot here grunting, crouching at any piece there, poking it with a stick and muttering, quite deaf to Karlyn loud cry that the horses had gone. When the initial outrage died down she supposed it would make sense, as the poor things would have been scared witless by those nasty creatures. Next when another wave of composure washed over her, she wondered just who had fired what and why. Starting to shiver, and not wanting to admit to fear or lose the benefit of her last meal she made herself active stepping carefully away from the foul waste.
“Uh! Degenerated humans!” Meradat said at her arrival “No wonder we had this easy! Foolish wretches lapsing into sinful blasphemous ways and sucked into the maw of the Fourth Realm to receive just punishment in being absorbed into its vile ranks. Then I was correct, they simply slipped through an opportunistic hole,”
Karlyn put her hand to her mouth to stifle a nervous snort of laughter, when she’d still lived in Elinid that last phrase had been her most favourite of insults at girls she disliked. Meradat not cognoscente with this part of her past had now turned his attention to her.
“And you, were forewarned. But we have no time to discuss that, we shall soon have visitors. So be quick and tell me about the burning,”
“Fosfor,” she said simply “S’ stuff that burns when you slap it on someone, all their sweat and stuff starts it off, an’ it feeds and feeds so it does,”
“You tore open a packet with your teeth! Why did you not burn!” suspicions rising.
“That’s the trick, two layers on bagging, you tear open the stronger one, then holding onto its remains slap hard, and the second bag ruptures,”
“Seems uncommonly dangerous,”
“Yeh,” she drawled, her grin unhinged.
“Foolish is a sin Karlyn Nan-“
He stopped; the sound of horses from the fields, in steady approach signifying riders.
He turned to Karlyn one finger raised in warning.
“When they arrive, say nothing unless I tell you to,”
“Who? They the ones what blewed them beasties up?”
“Say nothing,” he repeated.
For someone as turbulent as Karlyn this was a bit of a challenge; there again she was experiencing a wave of curiosity over the whos, whys and what-have-yous of the approaching party.
Seven riders approached from the cover of another tree line, two leading Meradat and Karlyn’s horses; their garbs were the variety of tough practical travel worn types, each wearing headgear of some sort. Apart from the smallest of the number who was hunched forward, the others held weapons the length of throwing javelins although twice as thick, where a metal point should be was a small oblong, rounded at each end. At the opposite location, a box shape, the top of which catching the sun’s light betrayed the glinting of four separate jewels, the fingers of one hand of each rider not far away.
Meradat stiffened, his grip tightening about his axe at the confirmation of Stommigheid usage. Apart from that small one, the others seemed accustomed to scowls of disapproval. Their leader moved closer, a gaunt, stubbled faced man surveying Meradat with a thoughtful gaze, which settled on the custodian’s chest.
“Your Diligence,” he greeted the custodian with the customary honorific followed by a casual gesture at the badge of office hanging loose from his coat “It seems you’ve had something of a nasty event,” he glanced back, five of the riders continued to survey the area, a small one in the centre was hunched over something set upon the saddle.
“All clear of evil Sergeant!” the latter pipped up, evidently relieved.
“You are not in the usual uniform, but I would believe by your efficiency poise and access to questionable weaponry in the form of falconades that you are of the LifeGuard regiment. Also you are here for some particular reason,”
The last was a definite statement.
“Sergeant Erzns,” came the stony reply “Beyond that Your Diligence, I am not authorised to further information,”
The custodian assumed the rest to be all troopers by noting their lack of any display of respect. The LifeGuard were notoriously difficult to intimidate. You could bribe the occasional trooper, but Meradat could foresee a communication with an officer to get this group to divert from their current course. As with Karlyn, he would have to bide his time, only in this case in hundreds rather than days.
One man with a friendly grin leant over his horse and whistling softly looked at the debris, his sing-song kymric accent lightening the mood.
“Not nice at all, see. No one said anything about beasties directly did they sarge?” he turned to Meradat “Pardon me your Diligence, but do you think you attracted them like? Just asking, that’s all,”
“These fel things arrived through the meddling of others,” Meradat pronounced “It is my duty to hunt this miscreant down,” he set his attention on Erzns, the hundreds were running out “You may well have to consider the authority vested in my rank by The Sacred Edict of Laheldae, Year of Remorse 275 to summon all-“
“-Available resource to your purpose,” Erzns concluded for him “I am aware of the edict Your Diligence,”
At this juncture Karlyn let out with a sudden high whimper and one leg gave way causing her to tumble, knocking her face against a tree, in turn releasing a burst of language that at least one trooper seemed impressed by. The smallest of the group, secured whatever they had been lurking over, and slipped from their saddle, hauled off a small leather sack from their saddle and ran over to Karlyn.
“Me ankle,” she wailed “Hurts sudden like scraith,”
The trooper knelt by her, picked up her foot, placed it on their knee and without comment began to ease off Karlyn’s boot, Karlyn was about to pass comment when they looked up at her, displaying a face, small, round and as far as Karlyn was concerned far too dam’ pretty by half; stray wisps of blonde hair making the whole annoying perfect, for a solider anyhow.
“What-cha?” she began, as her boots and sock were drawn off and fingers lightly ran over the swollen area.
“Medician Beritt,” the young woman said “Nasty little sprain, must have come down heavy. Been fighting then?”
“Naw,” came the sour retort “I was skipping ‘round the daisies when I tripped over a toadstool,”
Beritt shrugged; there were always the tetchy ones.
“It happens,” she said, infuriatingly affable, then stopped eyes narrowing on a growing dark stain along the left leg of Karlyn’s trousers. “Hey! C’mon, out of sight of these eager dogs, I want to look at that,” she pointed, Karlyn’s eyes widened “There’s nasty little wound planning on being dangerous,”
And despite the disparity in sizes she lifted Karlyn up, swung one of the injured girl’s arm around her own shoulder and dragged her off into the cover of the trees.
“If y’all lucky missy, she’ll kiss it better for you!” someone called after the duo.
“Never mind,” Beritt warned to a curious Karlyn.
First there was a stinging astringent, followed by a pungent salve and finally a bandage expertly administered around the leg wound, accompanied by a gruesome lecture about fatal blood losses, then Karlyn was obliged to sit still without her trousers while something equally smelly but cooling was applied to her ankle and then another bandage wrapped tightly about it.
“Going to have to watch that wound for possible late poisons and suchwhichs, and need to change the bandage on the foot regularly too,”
“Well thanks Blondie,” Karlyn said casually on pulling up her trousers “Just tell me how it’s done and I promise to be good,”
Beritt frowned, she’d been called more insulting or denigrating things than ‘blondie’, that was not the issue.
“It’s not as simple as that,” she cleared her throat, time to cite the texts “A wound incurred in the proximity of a fel creature must be subject to qualified medical supervision, lest extreme infections or possible possessions take place,”
Karlyn screwed up her face and sniffed
“I gotta custodian with me,” she said primly.
“Well I’ll have to exam him for wounds too,”
“I’d like to see you try,”
“He’s got no option,” she cleared her throat “Edict of Jurghen in the year 237, On Precautions and Exclusions of Evils,” she looked back to the general area of where the men might be “Custodians wrote it…annnddd,” she drawled out “When LifeGuards and Custodians meet there is a very strong chance that the Lifeguards whether they like or not will end up trailing in the custodian’s holy presences,” another shrug “Or so I been told,” a bright irreverent smile that Karlyn liked “So he’s stuck with me nagging him about Year 237,”
Both women started at the swift and sharp summons, Beritt recovered with a weak grin and a scramble to her feet
“Yep! That is Sergeant Erzns sounding very unhappy. Which means I’ve got other work to do,”
“He’s got wounded?” Karlin asked.
“Only his sensibilities. No, I got lumbered with a clunky thing that communicates over long distances, and I can’t tell you anymore,”
“I thought I could smell oil on you,”
Beritt decided any questions she might have on that score would have to wait.
The Patchwork Warriors Reader’s Guide.
The Patchwork Warriors: A Glossary.
The Patchwork Warriors # 22