On hiring mercenaries—another free sample

Here is another little piece of The Wrong Way Down. This Kickstarter is almost over, so why not show off a little more of the story? A couple chapters back, Priestess Popalia and her trusty guide Wynkkur had been saved by two mercenary ‘brothers,’ Seth and Raenyl.  This nice selection shows the undercurrents that will eventually cause lots of problems to come. Enjoy!

TWWD cover x500

 

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Bang! Bang! Bang! A loud pounding knocked against the door. Popalia twitched and smeared ink across her note. They exchanged startled stares before he said, “I bet that’s Seth.”

“Are you sure?” Popalia set down her quill and pushed her chair back. “I’m quite sure they didn’t like our religious views.”

“Your religious view, not mine.” Wynkkur started for the door. “Who else could it be? No one else knows we’re here.” The knock pounded loudly again.

Whipping open the door, Wynkkur stared into the chest of an armored giant. Menacing, Seth stood wearing reinforced leather armor. Iron bars were riveted between neck and shoulder of the hardened leather. There were two plates riveted across the top of his chest and four metallic discs plated across the abdominal area of the form-fitting shell of armor. A thick leather codpiece protected his groin, with a skull imprint pounded right in the center.

He carried many weapons. In the scabbard on his belt hung a broad sword, and on the other hip he’d tied the weighted club taken from Malthrak’s corpse. A long dagger was strapped at the small of his back at an easy to reach angle. A serious nature complimented his sharp blue eyes.

Wynkkur’s almond eyes blinked as he stepped out of the way, letting the mercenaries inside. Raenyl followed closely behind him, dressed exactly as he was earlier. The only difference hung on his belt, a narrow longsword. The blade resembled a cutlass by the curved hand-guard attached from hilt to pommel. They both carried leather backpacks.

Curious, Wynkkur asked, “Where is your armor?”

Raenyl answered, “I don’t wear it. Too bulky, and it makes me clumsy.” He snorted, “As long as I have arrows, no one’s getting within twenty paces.”

Wynkkur nodded, “Then what’s the sword for?”

“This?” Raenyl showed a sure smile as he looked at his weapon. “Well, that’s in case I run out of arrows.”

Seth looked around the room. “Whoa, you guys aren’t kidding. How much is this place costing you per night?”

Now it was Popalia’s turn to grin. “This is a donation. We have allies in high places.”

Seth nodded, “I’d say so. To get a suite during market isn’t an easy feat.”

Still smiling, Popalia answered, “It wasn’t easy. In fact, it was truly a miracle.”

Setting his bow against the short black table, Raenyl sat on the bench where Wynkkur had been sitting. Wynkkur snatched up his book as Raenyl tried to read the cover, but the binding had no words. Wynkkur swiftly placed his book within his bag and sat opposite the archer.

Popalia looked up at Seth, “I’m surprised to see you. I assumed the two of you had abandoned our religious trek.”

Seth took off his pack and sat in one of the chairs facing Popalia. He nodded slowly, “Me and my brother don’t really care about your religion.” Raenyl corrected Seth’s speech from where he sat, but Seth ignored him. “For fifty coins of gold, we’ll take you to land’s edge and back.”

From the cushioned bench, Raenyl asked, “Do you know where to look for your thief?”

Wynkkur answered, “We are heading south at first light. In the morning a couple horses and a guide will arrive.”

Popalia added, “We hope to catch this thief on the road to Dilligan’s Freepost. She left yesterday with a caravan and we hope to capture her before she reaches town.”

Seth nodded. He barely fit within the chair he sat in. His massive arms crossed over his chest. “It is a long road to Dead Rik’s, four or five days by caravan.”

Popalia touched her lips and looked puzzled, “Who is dead Rik?”

Raenyl answered, “Dilligan’s is known to most soldiers as Dead Rik’s. Do you wanna hear the story about dead Rik?”

“Not really,” Popalia shrugged. “I don’t really care what the place is called. I just want to catch this thief before she gets there. Do you think that’s possible?”

Raenyl rubbed his chin, “There are too many factors to make promises. Will the horses we receive be quick-footed or old and wore out? Will we each have a horse, or will we need to double up? How full is the caravan she travels with? Sure, it is possible.”

“The Great Mystery is involved,” Popalia stated. “Whatever happens will be exactly what is supposed to happen.”

Trying to get comfortable in the relatively small chair, Seth reminded, “We aren’t interested in gods and stuff, but we do like gold. Like you, we want to finish this as fast as we can. Will we get paid immediately?”

Popalia leaned forward, “As soon as the scepter is returned to our chapel, you will be paid directly from the church coffers. It will be that simple.”

Raenyl laughed bitterly, “It is never that simple, but as long as we get paid when the job is done, I’ll be your archer.”

Seth spoke in a cool voice, “Know that we are men of our word. For a hundred coins of gold, we are absolutely loyal. Know that I kinda like you and the elf. You’ve both got something good about you.” Pausing for a second, he grimaced, “You know what will happen if you’re tricking us, right? I don’t really need to say it, do I?”

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