Day 9

Almost there! One more day! Then I can maybe get back to normal prompt exercises.

For today I did a little more with my fantasy cop character. Doing something a little more policeman like. I’ve combined him with a couple of other characters that I had lying around for a long time. Maybe it’s time to do something with them all. This is about 700 words.

Ruins

Brennan winced at every crunch of the leaves underfoot. He felt completely out of his element. He belonged on the streets of Higaard, not the deep forests that draped the hills to the north of the bustling city. He gave thanks that his armor, at least, did not clank or restrict his movement. Still, though quiet, the proud red and gold leather mesh, enchanted dense as steel, blended into the shadowed greenery of the forest floor as well as the short, stocky Defender did.  Brennan kept one hand on the handle of his sword, the other outstretched as though his hand would assist his ears in finding their quarry.

He’d followed six men from the city. Five local thugs, men he knew, whom he’d caught and imprisoned previously for crimes ranging from public lewdness to robbery. The sixth he knew only by description, a particularly ugly fellow named Draxel. Draxel was wanted for a variety of crimes, the least of which put the local thugs to shame. The most onerous of his deeds involved the death of a fellow Defender, the officer of Jarrow, just a few day’s ride from Higaard.

Brennan had spotted them gather near the northern gate and immediately set after them. With some backup he might have taken them there, and he cursed himself for not at least stalling them at the gate. Now he faced them alone, an hour from the city walls. Brennan’s successor would likely be combing this forest for weeks trying to find his corpse.

He heard them, their voices floating across the faint wind stirring the leaves. Brennan took a moment to silently curse the busy and loud local birds, then tilted his head to try and distinguish the voices. He could hear several different voices, but could make out nothing of their speech. He crept closer, crouching at the edge of a broad clearing.

Draxel stood at the far side of the clearing, facing the five Higaard locals. Behind Draxel hulked the crumbling stone façade of an ancient temple. Brennan knew these hills to be dotted with old ruins. Some old city state or some such, fallen long before the Empire had claimed these lands. Occasionally, treasure hunters passed through Higaard on their way to dig through hills, but most came back empty handed. Occasionally they didn’t come back at all. Brennan swept his gaze along the edges of the clearing. He’d need to make his move before they went into the ruins, if that was their goal. And he’d need to be closer, or they’d be able to surround and cut him down too easily.

A hand slipped over Brennan’s shoulder and squeezed. He jerked his head  up, hand tensing on his sword, even as he knew that if the hand’s owner wanted him dead, he would be already.

Brennan looked up into the chiseled face of an elf. The slender, pointed ears and jagged eyebrows immediately gave away his heritage. This elf looked no more civilized than the rest of his kind, wearing only simple ragged pants that only went to his knees, held up by a short strip of rope. Tattoos of unfamiliar symbols and letters criss-crossed the elf’s bare chest and biceps. A tattoo of a stylized wing splayed across one sharp cheek. The elf had no weapon save a short, roughly cut staff.

“You are alive because I assume you are not one of them,” the elf whispered, his Impyrean surprisingly clear for a savage. “Explain yourself quickly.”

Brennan gritted his teeth, feeling a fool for being caught so easily. “I am Brennan, Defender of Higaard.”

The elf tapped the sheath of Brennan’s sword with his staff. “You do not carry the weapon of a man of justice.”

“I don’t think we have time for philosophical discussions.”

“This is true. Do you know those men?”

Brennan gestured to the five locals. “Those are, sadly, citizens of Higaard. Local court jesters without a court. The other is-”

“I know the other. I can smell the beast’s blood in him from here.” the elf said. “I’m afraid your citizenry will be dead momentarily.”