Dissonant Tides: Chapter Four, part 1

Chapter Four

Charlotte followed Rone down the narrow flight of stairs. He had his backsword in his left hand, tip forward, and his pistol in his right. Charlotte followed with the long gun, held awkwardly; with their packs on they barely fit through the stairwell, and that left no room for managing a musket. They stumbled into the kitchen to find two men, wearing bright breastplates and wielding basket-hilted broadswords, pushing through, with the inn-keepers wife shouting in protest. Rone leapt forward, his feet connecting with the shins of the first man, sending both of them toppling to the floor that was slick with spilled soup and food. With a hasty chop Rone cut into the ankle of the other, and he fell backward with a loud cry, burning his hand on the stove and releasing the grip of his sword.

Charlotte leapt past in a mad dash for the door. Rone stumbled up, trying to not to fall back down on the wet floor, and followed her out to the alley. They both flinched as musket fire erupted from one end of the Alley.

“Hold your fire, damn it!” A gruff voice shouted. The men began scrambling down the darkened corridor, drawing swords. Charlotte and Rone turned about and, lacking any other option, ran the opposite direction. They reached the end of the alleyway, and they were left with the choice of going several other directions. Rone pulled Charlotte to their right, pushing her ahead of himself.

“This way, quick!” Rone looked over his shoulder, but his view was restricted by his pack. He could hear the shuffling of boots echoing behind. He faced forward again only to find himself toppling over Charlotte. He rolled off of her and saw that she was pulling the leather cover off of the musket, and drawing back the hammer. Shadows gathered where the Alley opened up to the street.

Rone slipped his pack off his shoulders and faced their retreat. Four men were pushing their way forward. The front two bore long halberds bearing while the men behind bore swords. Rone fired his pistol, hitting one of the front two in the cheek, causing him to drop his halberd and reach for the wound. His was quickly trampled by his fellows, but one of them, realizing what had happened, stooped to help the injured man. Quickly Rone shoved the pistol into his belt and drew out a long bollock dagger for his off hand from a sheath secreted beneath his dress jacket.

Rone beat away the narrow end of a halberd with his sword. Kicking at the pole of the weapon, he stepped up and stabbed at the man’s arms above his gauntlets with the point of his sword. The strike failed to do much of anything, but it did cause the man to shrink back and try to fall into his guard. Rone, being still close enough to negate the guard, thrust his dagger down into man’s thigh. It reluctantly bit through the quilting of the man’s leggings and found a bit of flesh. The man flipped his pole weapon wildly in shock and Rone stepped quickly back. Two men were up behind him, but held back momentarily by the flipping of the blade of the halberd.

Behind him Charlotte scrambled up to her knees and fired the musket. Smoke filled the small space, and a man cried somewhere beyond the screen. Lacking any other option, Rone tucked his dagger under his forearm and pulled Charlotte to her feet by tucking his fist into her armpit, then pushed her forward through the smoke.

Three men stood at the end of the alley in the moonlight, two with pikes and one standing back with a loaded crossbow. None of them appeared injured. Rone cursed and pulled up short, feeling his feet slide under him as he tried to handle Charlotte without the use of either hand. At that moment a bolt erupted from the neck of one of the men, just above the stiff collar of his breastplate, spraying blood on the man beside him. Shocked, the soldier pawed at his gory face with a gauntleted hand, which did nothing for him. The crossbowman fired, but the bolt was far wide, clattering off of the stone side of one of the buildings after flying past Rone.

Rone pushed past Charlotte and rushed forward. The crossbowman dropped his weapon and reached for his sword. Before it could clear the scabbard the man fell forward, his head lolling. A hooded man stood nearby, tucking a long, leather-wrapped sap into his belt. Hesitating only a moment, Rone pushed Charlotte forward, slashing quickly at the hooded man, who leapt backward. He shouted in protest, but the words were lost in more musket fire and shouts as men spilled out into the streets on the other side of the inn. Instinctively, Rone pushed Charlotte down into a crouch as he pushed her to their left, down a steep hill, realizing in a few tense steps that the bullet report was distant. The men were firing in the opposite direction.

 

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