Borders Drawn in Blood

Of Crows and Witches

As I wake from being torn apart by the “crows”, I must have been unconscious for only a few seconds. The evil swarm is tearing apart some of Mesino’s men only a few feet from me. The blood of the dead rises into the air to form and red misty cloud surrounding the “Crows”. They are Crows in shape only, inky blots of darkness that grew boney claws and beaks. How is a man supposed to fight such a demon? Allah protect me!!! Wait, that’s it, I will call on Allah to rid us of this vile darkness. Allah has heard my prayer and the inky darkness swirls together growing smaller and smaller until only a man shape remains. It is the Cardinal!!!

I move closer and can see Ettore moving toward him on the other side. Dominic is down on one knee grabbing his head in pain. Several arrows strike the Cardinal as Friedrich attempt to bring him down. Some of the arrows just bounce off him and the blood seals most of his wounds as soon as they are made. I can hear Lila singing in the background and the Cardinal winces in pain from what every she has done. Suddenly cannot see, I feel what seem to be bats striking me in the darkness. I call on Allah to remove this darkness, but he does not grant my prayer this time. He must know I can handle this on my own. I take a step toward where the Cardinal was standing but my scimitar does not strike him. I back out of the darkness to see someone who looks like me standing next to Lila!! I shout that is not me and call Layil back to me in hopes that his presence will allow the others to know which one is the real me. Mesino grabs Lila and pulls her away from the other me. I can see Dominic and Ettore moving over the rock to get within striking distance of the imposter, shouting he does not have a scimitar. Friedrich steps back and fires several arrows at my double. The blood streams from the block of darkness and heals the wounds Friedrich inflicted. My likeness then moves up and grabs Friedrick by the throat. Friedrich lets out a piercing scream that goes on and on. My duplicate lets go of Friedrich’s throat and drops him to the ground where he lies writhing in pain. I step up and connect with my scimitar, but the blood heals the wound immediately. Ettore moves to flank my doppleganger and deals 4 grievous wounds to him, the blood cannot heal it all and by the final hit my double and the darkness vanish. We have WON!!!

But Friedrich is still screaming in agonizing pain. Lila and Dominic can not do anything for him and Lila asks me to make it stop. So I hit him twice to knock him unconscious. Mesino then grabs Lila by the arms and is yelling at her, they are talking so fast I cannot follow their Italian. I move close in case Lila needs help. But as usual she needs none as Mesino lets her go and storms off call for his men to fall back to the horses. We place Friedrich on Ghost and follow at a distance, I do not Like the looks some of the soldiers are giving us. when we reach the horses we hear mutters of witch and witchcraft. Mesino warns us about the men’s dislike of us and to be on guard against them. Great, now even our allies want us dead… There are only about 150 left after the casualties and desertions. But without Friedrich’s bow, I am not completely confident that Dominic, Ettore and I can keep Lila safe. I figure we would have to kill about a third to half of them before they broke and ran. So 20 to 25 apiece would be a little beyond our skills. A fourth fighter would swing the odds in our favor…

The mercenaries continue to grumble and on the second night just before dawn several attempt to sneak up on our separate camp. An alert Lila spots them and wakes the rest of us. She talks the men into leaving, saving us the trouble of killing the stupid Italians. The cold in this country must freeze there brains…
When the men leave, Ettore stealthily follows and comes back to report that they have set an ambush on the road back the main encampment. We go a different way and Lila informs Mesino of what happened. He suggests we become advanced scouts and travel faster to Verona. We agree and leave the slower column behind. That night we discover we left the cook pot behind. (good no more of Friedrich’s wretched stew…)
A few days later and we are almost back to full strength, when we see a group of men walking down the road toward us. We all see a different number and Layil come back to say there are just 8 large men in furs ahead. Great, Snow Valley men, well I have not killed anything but game in a few days. But they do not appear to want to fight, as we approach each other without weapons drawn. When we are close, one of them shouts in that horrible language that is even worse than Italian. After a few minutes Lila dismounts and walks over to them before we can stop her. How are we supposed to protect the girl if she keeps doing these stupid things? It’s not as bad as “We are going to take the Basilica” but still…
But apparently she has invited them along, great more “Allies” we will have to watch. Then she does something even dumber, SHE HEALS ONE OF THEM!!! The Leader, who I later find out is named “Otto, but not the dead one” kind of long but they are an even stranger people than Italians, he picks her up in a bear hug. I fear he has crushed her, but he sets her down smiling a gap toothed grin. At least Otto, but not the dead one is happy, Dominic and I share a glance, he is no more happy than I am about our new companions.
Several uneventful days later we reach Verona, we start to head for our house, but Lila insists we go directly to Congrande. The Castle is being repaired because the part that housed the dungeons collapsed. Luca’s body has not been found, but the guard believes it is lost in the moat. We are told Congrande is in his chambers, but we have to search all over the castle for him. We finally find him on the training grounds where he is conditioning Rosa’s son with a heavy log across his shoulders. Lila and Congrande have a lengthy conversation, and the only thing I notice is that Congrande thinks our new companions are crazy and will turn on Lila at some point. We also have to take them with us when we leave. wait Leave? Great another trip in winter, something about recruiting more noblemen to Victoria’s cause so we can take Milan back. He sends the kids to the library, and speaks to Dominic, Friedrich and I. He says Mesino is not to be trusted either and that he will try to kill me at the very least. The crosses on his armor each represent an Arab settlement he and his men wiped out. And for those atrocities he was banished from Jerusalem. Congrande does not think I can take him in a fair fight. Well if we do fight I do not plan to be “fair” about it and I am sure Allah will grant me victory. He still has plans for me, I am sure. Congrande then dismisses us.

We find Lila and Ettore freshly bathed and in the library…

Comments

HAHA that was great Jim. It is totally Nizar. Awesome job.

Of Crows and Witches
 

Jim, great write-up! I’m sorry I didn’t get to it sooner. I’m not sure what is better, the fact that we just assume that Friederich is the party cook, or that he is THAT bad at it!

Of Crows and Witches
 

Jim, I am sorry this is so late. Even at this stage, growing a baby has made me very very tired at the end of the day =\
I love the Nizar comments/thoughts on Lila’s actions; they’re great! =] Also, I like how you left out most of the conversations between Lila and Cangrande and Lila and the Snow Valley Men because of obvious reasons. =] Well done!

Of Crows and Witches
Maerdran Raven65

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