Who

Finn, Melusine, Bandits (NPCed by Erissa & N’cal)

What

Continued from Black-eyed Dog, Melusine and Finn get attacked by bandits!

When

It is evening of the sixteenth day of the tenth month of the first turn of the 12th pass.

Where

Igen Weyr

OOC Date

 

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River Bank

The river bank just beyond Igen River Hold is largely free of the tidal swamp that encroaches on the muddier, more southerly edges of the wide river. Sandy soil begins to mingle with the rich loam of denser earth here, giving a more solid footing to any piers that find anchor near to the water and beyond. Desert trees and grasses take root all the way to the river's edge in some spots, mingling with the greener vegetation of looming swampland further downstream.

It is the seventy-sixth day of Autumn and 87 degrees. The day dawns bright and clear. Everything is coated in sand, but no clouds linger on the horizon.


Finn nods, relaxing as they come to a halt at last. She can't have any bones at all. Finn muses, having spent the last couple hours watching Melusine sway in the saddle and, now, flow down and into stretches. He swallows, leaning carefully over to hand the worrisomely still bundle down to Melusine. Garf hadn't so much as stirred that Finn had noticed. He scrambles down out of the saddle with a pat to Ziachra's neck, but is all eyes for Garf. "He's so still." Light eyes flick up, jaw muscles bunched as he rather unintentionally crowds Melusine in his concern. He looks from Garf to Melusine to Garf and back. He nods at her direction, using his knife to saw and strip a sapling into a stick he can use to prod the brush as he searches, "I'd hope anyone would do the same," cast over his shoulder as he begins to make a circuit of the camp. He's peering hard into the difficult light of twilight, not yet dark enough to use his peripheral sense, not bright enough to properly see. That is, until he really sees something. And it's not a snake. Not the slithering kind. "Healer." The Smith's voice is low and urgent, Finn shifts onto the balls of his feet, fingers adjusting on knife and stick, backing slowly towards the healer and Garf, "Run. NOW."


It doesn’t take clothing of pure black to hide in twilight, and the two figures that suddenly come into view - far closer than comfortable now - clearly aren’t wearing any such thing. Still, the flowing, somewhat ragged robes and burnooses worn are dark enough to make walking shadows of the lot - unnerving enough in itself. The dry voice that emerges from one shrouded face matches it well. “Or don’t,” the man suggests, a jut of his chin daring a look behind, where one last figure - shorter, more slender (plainly so, in spite of the covering of robes), and brandishing a bow with an arrow already pre-nocked. “She does well with moving targets. Wouldn’t test her if I were you.” The second man laughs - an unpleasant, grating noise. “A dangerous time for two lone travelers to be out alone,” the first observes, feigning solemnity. “Two travelers and a mighty fine piece of runnerflesh.” Even in the dim light, it’s plain that his eyes rove Melusine’s mount. “Mayhap we might be exacting a small…toll for the privilege of continuing on your way undisturbed, aye?”


Admittedly, unfortunately, there's a moment in which Melusine's brain can't make sense of Finn's request. She had been concentrating on the canine, frowning, feeling the still-ragged heartbeat and listening to the slow exhalations. Abated, but not stopped. On the edge of reaching for something in her pouch, she stills as she hears the exhortation, and looks around, piqued. The expression fades as she sees the bandits; her motions are slow as she stands, and she eventually draws to her feet. "A little late for running now," she says lightly, accent coming to the fore. The threat to Ziachra makes her lips thin, and her fists clench. "I wouldn't test Ziachra, if I were you. She won't run for you." The mare had been taught to obey only a handful of people here in foreign lands — these two will find her not at all tractable.


The notched arrow is unwavering in its aim, keeping a steady line on Finn as the two male bandits speak. The woman holding it lets the men do the talking but her weapon says plenty on its own. Dark eyes are heavily shadowed beneath the cowl of the loose headwrap, but even with the rest of her features hidden there’s a sinister air about her demeanor that makes it clear she’ll let that arrow fly without hesitation and with deadly precision.


Draw her off. Gotta draw her off. She's following me. Good. Finn breaks perpendicular to his path back towards Melusine and Garf. Hoping to split the bandits' focus. Make them choose. He circles to his left, stick tap, tap, tapping its way through the brush, there were 'snakes out here, and flipping the blade in his right hand to a throwing grip. "RUN!" Finn roars. If the woman looks like she's gonna loose or any of the bandits make a move towards Melusine (or him), someone's getting a belly or a neck or a chest full of Reika steel. And such a pretty night. Night creatures have begun their chorus on the river bank, the last of the sun's light is rosy in the West. Breezes bring the scent of decay and new growth and the ever present acrid tang of Igen dust. How far to the River? He could swim it, right? Melusine runs. I swim. His belly siezes. Garf. Surely they'd leave the poor dog alone. Who would hurt a … they might kill him out of mercy.


The two men aren’t unarmed - the glint of sharp metal flickers suddenly in the right hand of each. Steps hesitate for a moment; they clearly weren’t prepared for such quick and ready resistance. “Foolish boy!” spits the first to speak, and he advances on Finn with dagger brandished, wary of the throwing grip taken on the young man’s knife even as he tosses an arm to the side in signal to his partner. The warnings about the runner go unheeded - mostly. The second man moves toward Melusine and Ziachra in a roundabout, cautious fashion as he tries to discern the best way to get a hand on the reins. It probably won’t end well…but both desperation and simple malice are sufficient motivation for such as him.


Melusine's dark eyes twitch to and fro as she tries to measure the situation (bad) and support (one ill canine). Finn's barked order comes out of left field at her, and there's a twitch that suggests her body's desire to follow it. Her mind keeps her where she is, trembling on the spot but not moving beyond that. "Trader. No," she murmurs to Finn, unable to use anything more than her voice to soothe. To the bandits, she raises her chin and glares. "Put that away," she scathes towards the girl with the bow and the man with the dagger. "It's not necessary; let's just calm down." Slowly, very slowly, she reaches for the pouch slung around her waist, and takes it off to toss it at the leader's feet after a quick rummage in it. "There. What money I have on me, and my medicine. Take care not to use any of the red packets unless a healer tells you to." There are dangerous things in there, after all. She shifts but only to stand astride ill, unconscious Garf. "Don't touch the ones in black at all. Give them straight to your healer." She lets the man get close to Ziachra, knowing the bloody bay can defend herself. Indeed, she even warns: “Careful, she bites.” And kicks like only a temperamental runner can, but there’s a limit to her kindness towards bandits. Let him find that out for himself.


The man was warned. He made his choice. It’s an easy decision for the female trader to respond in kind. With a soft whoosh of air the arrow is let fly directly at Finn. The male bandit wasn’t exaggerating when he bragged of her skills. The aim of the sharp shaft should stop him but not kill him. At least, killing isn’t her intention anyway.

Another arrow is instantly notched and the bow swung around to take aim at Melusine, however, the girl’s quick cooperation stills it’s release.


Finn grits his teeth. The healer was… No! Why didn't she run! His hand tightens on the blade in his fingers. Not a weapon. Not a weapon. Not a weapon. It gleams in the dim light as he moves, still battering the brush for 'snakes. Please don't shoot. The woman telegraphs her shot only slightly, not from her cold eyes, it's a shift in posture he reads. Finn flinches to the side, slipping on a patch of dry grass. His foot goes out from under him, changing his trajectory. The arrow bites into his side, a sick grating jar as it impacts his hipbone. He catches himself, grunting in pain as muscles shift around the arrowhead. He'd made his choice, all right, a dark veil drawn across a gentle heart. Teeth bared, he throws the readied knife, the readied weapon, curl and release. It flickers in a lethal arc, whickering through the air at the archer as Finn drops to a knee.


"No!" Melusine cries as she sees everything go bottoms-up. She lunges towards Finn, movement too late to stop the arrow from thudding into him, but hopefully… no, not that either. The knife goes flying, and she's unable to stop it; snarling out a curse that's bitter and certainly not suited for a female mouth, she thuds down on the sandy shore next to Finn. "You idiot!" she calls - she's calling them both idiots, it's clear, and she locks one firm hand around his shoulder to look at the arrow lodged against the iliac crest. Her eyes flash as she looks up at the bandits, dark and pitiless and entirely not-impressed. Two patients now, to take back to the Weyr. "Don't touch the arrow," she tells Finn. "Sit very still. So help me Faranth, if you touch that arrow at all, I will slap you unconscious. You have no idea what might be cut in there." Again a glance to the bandits. "Do you want the entire caravan on your necks? If not, then push off!"


Bandit One hisses as he sees Finn go down, the trembling end of a familiar arrow sticking out of his hip. For all his threats he had hoped not to actually have to resort to violence. Seeing the flash of metal from the trader’s thrown knife he jerks to one side, dropping a quick curse when he sees the weapon’s trajectory.

Bandit Two gives Melusine a narrowed scowl for her suggestions, not trusting the woman any further than he could throw her, but he uses plenty of caution when approaching the runner anyway. When she darts away suddenly he reaches for the reins.

La Femme Bandit has quick reflexes, a skill that makes her all the better with her bow. Ducking at the last second when the knife is thrown she yelps once in surprise, not pain, as the weapon strikes her bow and knocks it from her grasp. To someone with so much pride it is as bad as a physical blow. Death darkening the look that shoots back toward the downed trader she reaches for it even as she drops to bended knee in a defensive pose.


Finn was not aiming for the bow. The woman was still a danger. He growls. Melusine's voice is a sharp gabble of unwelcome Not Getting Out of Here. Why aren't you gone? He puts a hand against the healer's chest and shoves. Hip a furnace of pain, Finn surges unsteadily to his feet, arrow wagging with his movements and sending fresh agony with each shift. He steadies the arrow shaft with his stick-holding left hand and with a quick motion snaps it, pulling a shout of pain that trails off into a growl as he chokes up on the stick and puts his head down, teeth bared. Who's closest? If not the archer, he angles to put a bandit between him and the woman. Someone's getting a mouthful of switch.


There's a blink of total consternation on Melusine's face as she's shoved out of the way so rudely; it's only inherent grace that allows her not to fall, but she does stumble. Still, her expression clouds between one moment and the next; he was warned, and they were warned, and this is why one should never anger a Zingari woman. She gives a high-pitched, warbling whistle; Ziachra gives a neigh and rears with hooves flashing in the last of the light. With any luck the runner, now on guard, will kick the bandit where he really doesn't want to be kicked. The woman steps forward at the same time and her foot comes out neatly, tripping Finn's good leg up so that he goes tumbling to the ground. "I said stay still! Now stay the hell down!" she roars, eyes snapping. "What the hell is wrong with you, all of you? Are you mad? Get out of here!" The moment is gone, violence already escalated, and her hands dart into her clothes, pulling out two slim throwing daggers. Yes — weapons.


“Don’t be a fool yourself, girl!” the first bandit growls. “You’re outnumbered three-to-two and there’s no winged help gonna be showing up to rescue you so you’d better just quietly hand over your goods and be on your way if you’re so intent on keeping things civil.” Maintaining his crouched position the man is swathed in shadow by his clothes but the gleam of his knife is as obvious as the ones now wielded by the trader woman.

Bandit Two lets out a yelp as the runner suddenly rears, ducking back out of the way so fast that he trips and falls backward. Hitting the ground hard, his concealing headgear falls askew to reveal an angry, bearded face. Jerking it back into place with one hand he scrambles back to his feet and focuses on the runner again. He won’t fall for that a second time!

The archer reclaims her weapon, even as dark eyes remain locked on the two traders. Seeing Finn snap the arrow she growls low in her throat. Sacrilege! Another arrow is retrieved and notched, aim given extra attention after the sudden hit of that thrown knife had knocked the weapon so sharply from her grasp. Revenge sings along the tight string of the bow, vibrating for release.


Finn goes down in a heap, hollering as he lands heavily. Stupid sharding woman! He faceplants, narrowly missing driving that broken off (screw you, bandit) arrow deeper into his hip. As it stands, the unexpected and unbraced for movement sends waves of nausea inducing agony into his gut. "Fuck!" He rolls onto his side, looking across the scrub at the river's edge, the strange perspective helping him to see what he earlier missed. Burrows. Lots of them. Burrows meant… 'snakes. And they were breeding at this time of year and mean as… well, 'SNAKES. Fear elongates the moment and it stretches out. The growling bandit recounting odds (which were even WORSE with Finn on the ground). The second bandit, startled back by Ziachra's rearing lands right by a burrow. The archer, growling… murder in her eyes. Murder?! She's the one who shot HIM! Crazy damn fools. ALL OF THEM. Finn slowly backs onto his knees, coming upright, spitting dirt and grass from his mouth, he's still trying to get a bandit between himself and the archer, switch clutched futilely, now. If the archer keeps moving to track him… there's a burrow juuuuust there. Maybe she'll step in it.


Melusine, beyond angry, smiles at the bandits. Well. No. It's the same kind of gesture, and there are teeth being shown, but there's absolutely no mirth behind it. "I am older than you, you little shit playing at crime, so have some respect before I open your bowels and string you up by them." Never threaten a Zingari woman. Ever. " I also advise that you get out of here before I forget that I am first and foremost a healer." With the second brigand being kept busy by Ziachra - the mare is smiling just as much as her rider - she steps forward, circling to interpose her body between Finn and the bandits. You just sit down, gimpy.


Low lighting may indeed be salvation for the duo of traders here. Bandit Two certainly isn’t going to try for Ziachra again when he can’t see as well, and so he starts backpedaling toward the archer - further into the burrows. They’ll not be getting the runner - a disappointment for their leader, but better than what they’ll be dealing with if he keeps trying.

The first bandit bares his teeth in a cold facsimile of a grin, straightening slightly to give the Zingari woman a mocking bit of a bow. “Apologies then, lady,” he returns in a gravelly rasp, dropping back into his crouch, “but your age doesn’t much change what we’re after. Or that you’re a fool.” A quick sideways glance marks his companions, and he does a slight double take. “You two, get back over this way!” he snarls, eyes still fixed on Melusine.


A soft hiss slips from the swathes of concealing fabric worn by the female bandit. With her preferred target down she switches her focus to the other woman, not liking that demanding tone at all. The arrow switches aim. Then the lead bandit is ordering her closer and she sets her jaw in frustration. Dutifully she begins to inch forward… until something slips under her boot and her foot twists. Glancing down she sees something slithering in the tall grass. With a grunt she jerks herself aright but the quick movement and distraction causes the narrow arrow to slip from her fingers.

*zing!*


Whooosh! The arrow streaks by, probably not all that close but FEELING very close indeed, fletching flutter-hissing as it passes. A sarcastic Finn would think, Great. If she slips …(counting)… ten more times, we're SAFE! But Finn isn't given to sarcasm. He does spot the snake at the bandit's feet and hisses at Melusine. He moves sideways and back, away from the bandits, towards Garf and Ziachra and his own mou- Where is Pacheco? The buckskin is a speck in the distance. He'd run off right away. The only smart one of the bunch. Finn murmurs low, and quick, to the Healer, "'Snakes," still brandishing his switch, but now he's dividing his attention to the burrows he spotted, harder to see now that he's upright again, camouflaged in the river grasses. Shards, his hip hurt. A sun, hot and bright, trapping his thoughts in its orbit.


There's a flicker of attention in Finn's direction, a bare twitch of one fingertip to suggest that she's heard his warning. Slowly, very carefully, she gives one step to the side, knives still held low — professionally so, one might say, taught at least a little bit by the knife-throwers in the Zingari camp. She's playing a game for time; it matters little to her that she appears a fool to ruffians. As long as she can stretch this out, there's the chance that someone'll come by, or they'll be struck by the snakes and given the way those left the canine, it'd not be a happy time for the bandits. Circle, circle, circle — who will crack first?


Bandit One husks a low growl as the arrow is accidently shot, though he shows his experience in not turning his eye from their intended victims, keeping his knife in full view threateningly.

“Listen here!” he shouts. “We’re takin’ what goods you have whether you like it or not. Whether you keep your own skins matters not to me. So it’s up to you. Are you going to cooperate or do you want to do this the hard way?”

Bandit Two stops in his tracks when the arrow flies, following it’s trajectory with his eyes before darting forward to join the female. She is highly annoyed, however, and busy stomping hard on the ground.

“What’re you doing?” he hisses just as the leader orders them closer. “Come on!”

“Shardin’ snake!” she grumbles back, pausing to swing her bow over her shoulder. “Slithered acr-cross….whatthe…?! AAAAAAAH!” With a startled shout she starts hopping backwards.

“Blast it Seala, what is your….your…. AHHHHHH!” With an echoing shout he does a quick two step in the opposite direction.

A soft hissing sound permeates the air, coming from the tall grasses around where the two bandits are lingering as countless numbers of snakes slither across the ground.


This is their break, “Go,” Finn hisses, lurching into the healer and hopefully corralling her towards Ziachra. He backs towards the spirited horse, switch still held in two hands and DEFINITELY keeping an eye on the ground as he goes. What he’s gonna do with Garf he’ll figure out when he gets there. Great shattered shards, the ground was boiling with ropy writhing bodies, there must be a nest. Finn shudders, wincing at the throbbing fire in his hip. If she doesn’t move towards the mare, Finn will loose one hand from the switch and make a grab for Melusine’s wrist.


It's the first time in her life Melusine has ever been grateful for 'snakes. Poisonous vermin are not a healer's best friend. Right now, however… using the hold Finn has on her wrist, she braces, pivots and slings him at Ziachra, hissing a 'Get up quick whilst they're distracted!'. She'll leave her medicinal satchel where it is - the bandits can claim that as spoils - and shoves the Reika up on the runner. Then, bending down, she picks up Garf's unconscious form with a grunt, handing him up to his owner, hoping against hope that Finn's legs are strong enough to keep him on the runner. A shrill whistle, quite different from earlier's ones, ring from her, and Ziachra pivots and surges towards her. In a move that's totally copyrighted in another universe, she sets her hand on the speeding runner's back and swoops up in front of Finn, urging the gorgeous mare on and into the river, away from the nests. "Fly, big-heart," she whispers, turning her in the direction the other runner scampered in. "I need you to fly now, Zia!" Then, over her shoulder to the bandits, “Blue packets, two infusions each until you get to a healer!” Fine. She might not like them, but she won’t let them die either — she is a healer.


“What the cracked shells is wrong with you two??” the First Bandit belts, following it with something inarticulate as their victims take advantage of the confusion to make an escape. “NO, dammit!!” Having only his knife, which he isn’t about to throw after the fleeing pair, he can only watch their dramatic exit in disgust.

Meanwhile the other two are ankle deep in writhing, hissing, slithering reptiles and screeching like a couple of banshees on steroids as they try to get away. Nothing like having the ground come alive under your feet to put the fear of life-and-death into even the toughest criminal.

Whether any of them hear Melusine’s final advice is unknown, but at least the healer tried.


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~The End~

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