Errant Road: Jade's Story

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Re: Errant Road: Jade's Story

Postby Jack Rothwell » August 7th, 2010, 1:32 am

Chapter 9

The night was well underway by the time they arrived at their destination; a path on the road which cut close to a small forest nearby. The wide-branched trees that cluttered themselves together were the perfect cover for an ambush. Eve and Rufus stopped in the middle of the road and untied the horses from the cart. Bernard nodded at Leo; the pair dismounted and took the extra reins, leading all four mounts into the woodland. Jade followed; leading her own horse with her.

Rufus had explained the plan to them on the journey up in simple, easy to follow instructions. Firstly she, Leo and Bernard would conceal the steeds from view, tie them up and then get as close to the road as possible without being visible. The second part of the plan had nearly started Eve on another rant as Rufus elaborated her part in the ambush. There was a sack in the back of the cart that contained a costume for Eve to wear. It was a pretty dress, Jade had to admit, the fact that it had been accompanied by a long, blonde wig that screamed ‘damsel in distress’ had had Jade sticking a knuckle into her mouth and biting down to stop a laugh escaping. Eve had looked daggers at everyone, as if daring them to make a comment.

As the trio made their back to the road Jade could hear Leo chuckling (it was safe at this distance at least) the tomboy was dragging the dress over her head, cursing all the while as it got stuck on the belts and buckles of the bandit clothes she wore underneath. She would take her place near the abandoned cart, putting on an act to draw the guards in. Leading them over to Rufus, who was getting into position as she pulled the wig over her head, the old man tilted the angle of the cart so he could lie flat against it and remain unseen by the approaching convoy.

The rest of the plan was academic. Eve and Rufus would take the guards, or whoever else who came to the cart while Jade, Leo and Bernard would sneak around the back and catch the remaining security by surprise.

“If anyone draws a weapon, drop them.” Rufus had had an oddly toneless quality to his voice as made the statement. “But remember that this is a hold-up, bloodshed would be better avoided.”

The issue of witnesses was a moot point since all of them had been handed scarves to conceal their faces for the job, except Eve who now had her face half-buried behind a mass of gold and even then she was carrying one for after the ambush was sprung.

“It never matters. They remember the dress. They remember the hair. They never remember the face.” Was her only comment on the situation.

Everything was in place. It was all over but the waiting now. Jade settled in and watched for developments.

……………………………………………………………………………………..

Toby Somali was a simple man, the type who had reached a niche of acceptable mediocrity and burrowed himself in for the long haul. The thoughts in his head as the drove the cart at the head of the convoy progressed little beyond his wife and children at home and the time off he’d be spending with them as soon as the job was finished. He never thought to question his employer’s last minute alterations to the delivery load, specifically the sudden inclusion of four armoured militia and an additional driver for their own personal wagon. He certainly didn’t allow his thoughts to stray as far as what the ‘additional security’ was keeping in the seemingly ordinary vehicle. Terminal curiosity didn’t make for a long career.

It was safe to say he was surprised as the convoy rounded the corner of the woodland and saw something blocking the road off. Things that weren’t part of the plan usually didn’t bare his consideration. He leaned forward and squinted at the dark shape in the near distance. As they drew closer he saw it was a cart, devoid of horses and resting at a slant in the middle of the road. One of the armoured men behind him cursed colourfully and called a halt. Another man detached himself from the wagon and the pair walked up to join the cart driver.

“What in the seven hells is going on?” he demanded, as if Toby was personally responsible for the situation.

“It’s a cart, sir.” He said blandly. Making a redundant statement did nothing to improve the other man’s mood. He opened his mouth to bark an angry retort; but didn’t get the chance to say it.

“Oh thank the Gods!” A woman’s voice cut across the conversation. Toby saw a figure half-running, half-stumbling into view from the direction of the abandoned vehicle. He found himself wondering how he didn’t see her sooner. She sobbed, sounding just short of hysterics as she made his way to him.

“Bandits! Murderers!” she cried. She reached Toby and gripped his arm with both of hers, tears streamed down her face, half-covered by thick blonde curls that spoke of youth and innocence. She looked up at him and whispered in a pleading tone that struck him directly in the heart.

“Please. Help me.”

………………………………………………………………………………………….


Jade watched the scene from the cover of the nearby trees with her jaw hanging halfway to the floor. Eve’s performance may have been a tad on the theatrical side but the trio of men who listened to her weep out her tale were falling for it like a stone. The harshness in her voice was gone, replaced by sweet, girlish tones that evoked sympathy and the urge to protect. Even Eve’s body language had completely changed, the broad stance and stiff shoulders replaced with soft movements which seemed designed to accentuate every curve the girl had. The girl conducted a symphony on the men’s heartstrings.

“I’ll be damned.” She whispered.

“She’s good, isn’t she?” Leo whispered back “Rufus always said the girl missed her calling for the stage.”

The two soldiers began to follow the ‘damsel in distress’ over to the fallen cart. The driver stayed in place, but all three of watchers had seen enough of him and the other drivers to realise that they presented no threat, possibly to themselves, but certainly not three armed bandits. In one step their security problems had been cut in half. Bernard tapped the pair on the shoulders.

“Come on. That’s our cue.” He moved, keeping low to the earth as made his way to the back of the convoy. Jade and Leo kept close behind.
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Jack Rothwell
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Re: Errant Road: Jade's Story

Postby Jack Rothwell » August 7th, 2010, 2:38 pm

Chapter 10

Toby sat in the cart, entranced, as the young woman half-guided, half-dragged the soldiers over to the cart, being reassured by them every step of the way.

“Those monsters took everything I had; they cut my horses loose and broke that wheel just for spite.”

“Not to worry miss. We can tow your cart if it’s fixable.”

Eve gave the soldier a smile so sweet he could’ve developed toothache for staring.

“Gods bless you sir. It’s the one on the left there. I’d be so grateful if you took a look.”

The armoured man blushed down to his boot heels and walked up to the cart.

………………………………………………………………………………………….

While Eve was working her surprising amount of charm on the distracted soldiers Jade, Leo and Bernard crept up to the rear cart of the convoy. Bernard directed traffic, indicating that he should take the right side and Jade the left. He made a jumping arm movement towards the vehicle and pointed at Leo, who braced himself, gripped the back edge and performed a complicated movement which took him cartwheeling onto it with barely a whisper. He took the lead, clambering over the big stacks of wooden planks as Bernard and Jade moved along the sides in a crouch.

As they reached the front Jade heard a muffled gasp. She chanced a glance up at the driver’s seat and saw Leo with his one hand planted firmly over the driver’s mouth, the other wrapped across his neck to stop him struggling.

She picked up the pace, Bernard mirroring her movement on the other side. She drew her revolver, thumbed back the hammer and pointed it squarely at the oblivious soldier’s back. She kept her voice low.

“Don’t move.”

The man stiffened in his saddle. She swore she saw the chill run down his spine. Slowly, very slowly, the soldier raised his hands. A moment later she heard a heavy thump sound from the other side of the wagon, followed by the sound of a body hitting the ground. It wasn’t hard to tell how Bernard had subdued his target.

By the time the wagon driver noticed everyone behind him was either unconscious or otherwise incapacitated it was far too late. Bernard followed up his noisy attack by dashing around the side of the wagon with a surprising amount of speed and crashing his heavy fist into the man’s temple as he opened his mouth to yell. The wagon driver collapsed, senseless.

At the same the soldier Eve had sent to check the ‘broken’ wheel rounded the side of the cart and walked straight into the butt of Rufus’ rifle. Stars exploded in his vision, he fell with a strangled noise erupting past his lips.

The last security guard saw his companion go over, he stepped forward, confusion written all over his face.

“Hey, what’s-“

He never got the chance to finish; he barely had time to register the swipe which took his helmet off before a hand seized a handful of hair and pulled his head back as far as it would go. Cold steel touched his throat, and a very un-lady like voice rasped in his ear.

“Thank you.” Eve said “You’ve been very helpful.”
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Re: Errant Road: Jade's Story

Postby Jack Rothwell » August 9th, 2010, 1:07 pm

Chapter 11

Toby could only watch, horror struck, as the militia in front of him were incapacitated. Further sounds of violence behind him took his horror and concreted it. He was alone, surrounded and too scared to turn around. The man who had stepped from behind the cart and given the first soldier a concussion turned his head slowly and stared at him, his expression unreadable behind the scarf and eye-patch he wore. Toby attention was wrenched, against his will, to the light glinting off the barrel of the rifle that was now pointed at him.

“I reckon right now you’re probably thinking this would be a good time to run away.”

Toby’s mouth worked but no sound came out. He was dimly aware of the sound of approaching footsteps from behind him. The figure in front reached around the side of the cart and produced a hessian sack.

“That would be a bad idea. In fact, it would be something I would take personal offense to.”

He upended the sack; thick coils of rope hit the damp road.

“If, on the other hand, you wanted to get on my good side, the smartest thing for you to do right now would be to come over here and give me a hand with your associates while my associates liberate your cargo.”

Toby nodded in mute acceptance, what choice did he have?

…………………………………………………………………………………………..

A few minutes later the unfortunate convoy found itself tied up and lying face down in the earth. Jade trussed up the last guard who looked up at her with an expression of naked hatred. She breathed deeply, focusing on getting her madly hammering pulse to a normal speed and fighting the urge to plant a boot in the ribcage of the malevolent soldier. She heard the rhythmic banging noise of Bernard putting his oversized mace to good use on the locked door of the wagon. Wood splinted and caved in under the force of his enthusiastic swings.

She couldn’t help but admire the efficiency the Silver Hands had carried out their mission. The process of neutralising the men had taken no longer than thirty seconds, and the manic pace hadn’t slowed after. Jade and Leo had broken away from the group as soon as they’d be able to retrieve their transportation and were hurriedly turning the abandoned cart into something to make their escape on. Rufus marched up and down, seeing everything, looking every inch what he was: a man in charge. Even the additional help he’d obtained was scurrying around in a fever to avoid his displeasure.

The wagon door finally caved in, accompanied by the big sergeant’s shout of triumph. Jade couldn’t help herself; she hurried over to take a look. Bernard stood back, leaning on the huge weapon, his body language showing every sign of a jovial mood. She peered inside the ruined wagon and, sure enough, a pair of large chests sat inside the cabin. Her heart rate climbed again.

“What do you think?”

“I think I just went professional.”

Bernard’s merry laughter cut through the night air.

…………………………………………………………………………………………..

The muffled sound of jingling coins was music to her ears. They were back on horseback now, racing towards Ester with the militia’s shouted curses fading on the wind. Jade tilted her head back in the saddle, feeling the breeze rippling through her hair, feeling elated, free. With the success of their mission suddenly all things seemed possible. For the first time in an eternity the future looked bright once more.





END OF PART ONE





Well thats the first half of Jade's origin story completed. All and any feedback and/or criticism is welcome and will be paid back. I'll be starting a separate thread for the second half in a day or two. Sooner if i can get off my arse and write some more.
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Jack Rothwell
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