Sacripant stared at the impromptu barricades that had been put up. “Have to admit, they work fast,” he noted to Grizzel.
The Serjeant spat. “That’s the Butcher Birds for you. They may not be nice--but they are professional.”
The Marsh Erl blinked. “Butcher… Birds?”
Grizzel pointed towards a standard displayed on one of the barricades that showed what looked to Sacripant’s eyes like a very badly drawn red eagle. “That’s their nickname. Their real one is the Scarlet Shrikes. One of the Companies from Across the River that signed up with Shaddad when he was winning, then crossed over with us when it turned out he wasn’t. They’ve been bouncing around the Lands of Night ever since.” The Goblin shrugged. “They aren’t the best, but they’re far from the worst.” He sighed. “Really, this is probably about the best help Vathek could have hired, so… not good for us.”
Sacripant nodded. “How not good?”
“Not much chance of us losing--though more than there would be--but this--this could let things get very ugly,” replied Grizzel. “These are professionals. They know how to hold a place like this. That wouldn’t worry me by itself--professionals usually behave professionally. But they are working for Vathek. And Vathek is a crazy, vile bastard.”
“So, who knows what he may do?” said Sacripant quietly.
“Exactly,” noted Grizzel, with a shudder.
Sacripant felt a tugging on his sleeve. Turning, he saw that Quiet standing there. The Marsh Erl smiled at her. Truth be told, after quite a few months of knowing her, he still wasn’t used to how… silently she could move. “Umm, so… what…”
Hagen Greatthews lumbered into view. “Her Excellency is plotting something. Quiet got sent to find to you two.” He spread his massive arms in mild bafflement. “Personally, think I was better choice, but, what can one do about whims of great folk, eh?”
“You seem extra-Trollish these days,” muttered Sacripant as he fell into step behind his fellow Guardsmen.
“If so, it’s because you are getting to know me better,” said Hagen. “Learning what Trolls are. Exciting lessons for country boy. Probably should move on to our women next. They are especially exciting!”
Sacripant and Quiet both gave the Ogre offended glares. Hagen simply laughed. Grizzel sighed. “Let’s go, people. Her Excellency doesn’t like to be kept waiting.”
The quartet of Guards moved swiftly through the impromptu camp that was being set up around Tolometto. Morgaine was in a small crowd that had gathered at one of the clearings, standing on a small foot ladder, and glaring at the barricades. As he saw her, Sacripant wondered who had brought the ladder, then decided that the Dark Lord had probably brought it herself.
“Serjeant, Fenswater. Just the guys I wanted to see,” noted Morgaine. She clapped her hands together. “Good work, Il’Mok. And you too, Greatthews.” She cracked her knuckles. “So--got a bit of a barrier problem. Now, I’m a woman who likes things simple. So, we’re going to smash through the barriers, overwhelm the mercenaries fast as we can, and take care of things. How’s that sound?”
Quiet stepped forward and nodded emphatically, drawing her swords. Morgaine smiled at the Ghoul skeptically. “Il’Mok, I’m guessing you’re volunteering to be first over, and…” Quiet stared at her pleadingly. “Oh, damn it.” She got off the ladder, and patted Quiet affectionately on the veiled cheek. “You know I can’t resist those puppy dog eyes.”
Sacripant stepped forward. “Where Quiet goes, I go.”
Morgaine grinned at the Marsh Erl. “Ahh, that’s just sweet.” Her amber-colored eyes simply glowed with amusement. “Okay. You two are on point. Because, I just ooze niceness…”
Palamedes Woodash coughed politely. “Umm… this is all very… nice, but still--there are walls up here…”
Morgaine turned to the chubby Erl. “You’ve never seen me in action, Woodash, so I’ll forgive that comment of yours.” The Dark Lord trotted off. “All right people! Get ready! There’s going to be fireworks! Metaphorically speaking.” She put her hand on her chin. “Though I probably should have brought some. For the celebration once we kick these bastards’ asses.”
Palamedes watched her go off, then glanced at the others. “So what did she mean about the whole ‘sweet’…?”
“Quiet and Sacripant are lovers now,” said Hagen casually.
Palamedes’ eyes went wide. “Wha…? They’re…” He looked apologetically at Grizzel. “Not that there’s anything…”
“No, Quiet is girl,” noted Hagen. Sacripant and Quiet both turned to stare at him. Hagen spread his hands, and smiled at the Ghoul. “You walk like woman. With everything else--the truth is fairly obvious.” He shrugged. “Didn't mention it, because I didn’t want to be rude.”
Quiet bowed her head. “Well, now I just feel like an asshole,” she muttered.
“As well you should, as well you should,” noted Hagen.