067 Encounters · 2


Encounters · 2
“I



 just love the way that name sounds when you say it Brother. It sounds so majestic as though it was conceived by a most noble of souls.”

“You flatter me Lute, but let us not forget why we are here.”

“I’d kind of like to know why myself. I know I’m not quite together in my head, but I haven’t done anything that should be getting anyone’s attention. Killing off the local bandits shouldn’t have been that big of a deal, unless you two somehow were making a profit off of them.”

Chain despite her best attempts couldn’t get a read on the two men and continued to back away. The two men seemed oddly sympathetic and that only made Chain’s skin crawl as they began crossing the suspended courtyard.

“It is little surprise that you fail to know who we are, or why we have an interest in you. Let us begin with introductions then. We already know that the locals know you as the Chainmaid, an unusual maid who singlehandedly rid the Athera Mountains of the Skull Leather Bandits and has since been spotted wandering the ruins that line the mountain roads. We, on the other hand, are the Mouser Brothers. We are known far and wide as a pair of Sa·B·ers who always accomplish the jobs we undertake outside of the traditional responsibilities of Sa·B·ers. I am the older brother Pan, and this is my younger brother Lute.”

The now introduced older man and brother, Pan Mouser, motioned towards his red-haired brother as they continued to cross the courtyard. Chain wanted to keep backing away, but she could sense the eyes of the monsters waiting for her back inside the castle watching her. Forcing a smile to offset her unease, Chain attempted to keep them talking while her or Drop came up with a plan of escape.

“So now I know who you are, but maybe it’s because thinking is kind of hard for me because my thoughts aren’t all in my head, but I still don’t see how that tells me what you want with me.”

Chain was failing to come up with any ideas but at least her attempts to keep the Mouser Brothers talking seemed to be working as Lute provided her an explanation.

“That is because we would first need to introduce our client, Chainmaid. He is a troublesome client to. It seemed like our reputation would be horribly marred should we never find you, so imagine our surprise when we heard of a maid in these mountains wearing naught but a suit of chainmail so immodestly distinct. We just had to investigate, and sure enough here you are, looking no different than when last we saw you, before the Lucifalz inconveniently appeared and disappeared.”

“Where exactly did you see me?”

Though she already was starting to picture in her head what the Mouser Brothers were talking about, Chain still asked as she broke into a cold sweat and tightened her grip on her sword strap. Lute was all too happy to answer as he and his brother smiled amicably.

“Why where, Chainmaid, but back on the continent of Mergaol? It was such a surprise after being engulfed in that light to wake here on the continent of Athecia, but I can assure you that it hasn’t slowed us down. You on the other hand seem not to be accompanied by the harpy that afforded you your escape from our client–”

“I’m not going back!”

As Chain suddenly shouted the next few events seemed to almost happen in an instant. Her cape grew out of her shoulder blades like a raging black flame that consumed her scabbard and left her sword exposed and dangling in the air behind her. She did not simply reach for it but jumped straight up twisting her body so that her feet pointed straight up towards the sky as Lute’s massive bent blade spun through the air where she had been standing. Lute’s blade struck Chain’s, but she had been prepared for that and positioned her hand so that the blow would let the two-handed grip of her simple cruciform sword fall right into her hand. She was now prepared to engage her opponents but discovered she was a step behind already.

On the pommel of Lute’s unusual boomerang sword that was nearly as tall as he was there was a strange gem that matched one on a ring he wore on his right hand. As he closed his hand into a fist a surge of energy traveled from the Nectar he summoned into his body through his Ambrosial Gate down an Ambrosial wire connecting his ring to his sword. Chain saw the spark of energy following its path for just an instant before it reached its destination and released a massive explosion. The blast threw her into a flip that was nothing like the controlled turnover she had planned and she almost missed Pan pull his rifle butt saber from his shoulder and cock the matchlock mechanism. Gritting her teeth as she prepared herself to be struck even as she aimed to avoid the attack, Chain got lucky with her guess of Pan’s attack.

As he pulled the trigger of his weapon, Pan swung gracefully in Chain’s direction and an arc of energy like a sword blade shot through the air in Chain’s direction. Having accurately guessed the nature of Pan’s attack Chain just barely managed to spin her body out of the way to her attacker’s surprise.

“You’re better than I expected, Chainmaid.”

“I haven’t even gotten started yet!”

Landing under her own control, Chain charged Pan and the two exchanged a number of sword strikes testing and studying the strength of their opponent. Chain didn’t like what she learned as much as Pan did and the worried expression she donned was in stark contrast to the smile he wore. It was not Pan that Chain needed to be aware of though as Lute could control his blade even so far detached from it due to the non-corporal wire that connected his ring to it. Giving a yank on that wire with the monstrous strength he had from being a Sa·B·er, Lute sent his blade right for Chain, it again spinning like a saw blade. Leaping up and spinning to her side like a log on the water, Chain avoided the attack while not relenting in her attacks against Pan. It was an impressive display to watch, but ultimately ineffective as Pan casually deflected all of her attacks with his weapon in one hand and promptly kicked her in the face as she neared the end of her jump. The blow was backed by the monstrous strength of a Sa·B·er, and with nothing to brace herself against to take the blow Chain was sent flying through the air in a high arch.

The kick that launched Chain was spectacular in its impossibility as Pan managed to strike her twice in the same motion. The first blow was with the top of his foot directly into the lower half of her face causing her head to roll back as his foot lifted. This exposed the underside of her chin for the second blow which came from the heel of Pan’s boot as he rolled his foot back and unleashed the full force of his kick to her chin. Not only was Chain launched but she blacked out for a moment, only being called back by her voice calling out to her from Drop.

[We need to get a hold of ourselves. These two are Sa·B·ers of some experience and neither simple bandits nor monsters. We are not experienced enough to face them two on one.]

“But we’re not two against one… I’m so broken there are two of me here right now.”

Gritting her teeth and forcing an eye open, Chain forced her body to respond and righted herself to land safely. It was not a particularly safe landing though as the Mouser Brothers were prepared for her to have stayed in the fight and Chain had to kiss the ground to avoid being split in half from Lute’s spinning blade coming at her back. She couldn’t stay down for long though and popped herself up in a T-stance on her left arm to avoid the next energy blade launched by Pan. Even that pose she wasn’t able to hold for long as Pan appeared on top of her with his blade running a horizontal slash through the space she occupied. Falling onto her back, Chain kicked away from him towards his back and rolled over backward onto her feet. In her new position she found herself between Lute’s returning blade and Pan. While Lute could easily surprise her with his flying, spinning blade, Chain made Pan the priority as at the least his presence controlled the direction of Lute’s attack.

Springing to her feet, Chain brought her sword around in a downward slash to meet the downward slash of her opponent. Chain and Pan’s steel rang out as it clashed again and Chain surprised her pursuer as she conjured up as much strength as she could from the Foreigner infection that marked her as a Sa·B·er.

“Oh–

“Hya~~‼”

Rotating downward with as much strength as she could muster and divide throughout her body, Chain attempted to distract Pan with her raw strength as she applied a very subtle sword technique. Slightly shifting the angle of her blade as she brought it down, she turned Pan’s own strength and direction of attack against him, leading his sword to the ground. She wanted to reverse the direction of her own sword at the moment to run it back up Pan’s blade and arms to decapitate him, but Lute’s blade was already on its way. Having accounted for it, Chain applied her divided strength to launch herself into a flip over Pan. She could not attack him as she passed over though as he ducked into a spin using his redirected momentum under Lute’s blade, using his brother’s attack as a shield. Needing to counter the attack that Pan’s spin was building momentum for Chain tightened her flip and forced herself into a second rotation.

For a moment Chain and Pan locked eyes and the moment seemed to last for an eternity as they waited to complete their rotations and for Lute’s blade to allow them to resume their clash. Then the moment was over and steel met steel in a flash. The ringing of the clashing blades rang out over the whole of the Athera Mountains. As Chain had hoped she had been able to meet the attack of Pan and hold her ground, but as her ground was the air with no footing and Pan was smiling, she knew she made a mistake. Fortunately for her it was not fatal though it was far from comfortable either as Pan’s spin allowed him to catch Chain in a spinning hook kick that caught her in the back and flung her to the side of the courtyard that the Mouser Brothers had entered from.

Sliding to a stop in a fetal heap, Chain held her ground and did not immediately return to her feet. She knew she was exposed where she lay but she did not notice the Mouser Brothers moving and waited to see their next action. As she lay there, a passing storm cloud began to let fall its contents onto the nameless mountain castle. As the raindrops hit her she smiled in relief and finally struggled to her feet using her sword for support.

“Ou~ch, that really hurt. I don’t know why you two decided not to pursue me while you had the advantage, but I’m grateful.”

Chain failed to notice that the Mouser Brothers had divided their attention, or she might have discovered the reason for their sudden caution. Snapping her chainmail skinned fingers and causing a distinctive ringing sound to fill the air, Chain assured that she returned the Mouser Brothers full attention to her and the small sphere of light that floated above her upturned left palm.

“A spell

Both Mouser Brothers prepared to interrupt an incantation, with Pan slashing out another energy blade and Lute throwing his unique blade. But Chain had no incantation in mind and simply called out a command.

“Drop! Now!”
.


Copyright © 2019 Joshua D Tarwater

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