Keep your head above the water, part 2

From: Erik Sieurin (BV9521@utb.hb.se)
Date: Fri 03 May 1996 - 18:44:00 EEST


(Short resum=E9: The three warriors Richard the Crippler, Harold the
Lucky, and Ingolf the Whittled, Sartarite exiles in not-yet-invaded
Pavis and Humakti mercenaries, are in the process of eliminating an
old enemy. Due to the combination of Harold's endless capability for
intricate and useless plans, Richard's indecisiveness and Ingolf's
hero-worship of the other two, they are currently in the process of
storming their enemy's houseboat. Which is a reedboat. Using a
battering ram. Down a very steep hill.)

They advanced steadily, and now Richard could have seen the whites of
the sorcerer's eyes, if he hadn't been busy looking at the ground to
keep from stumbling. He still noted in the corner of his eye that the
guy had finally got to what was going on, and was retreating into the
house on the boat.
- -Smart decision, Richard thought. Though I'll doubt he'll get
unscathed away from this. When things crash, at least he'll go down
with us.
The gangplank, which connected the riverbank and the reedboat,
suddenly lifted of its own volition and flew ungraciously down into
the water.
The thunderous ram-party had just advanced so close that they had
just a few steps to that cowardly gang-plank, and had no time to
think this dastardly trick over. Their combat-trained reflexes just
made them react.
Richard let go of the log and jumped, took the gap betwixt bank and
boat in one big stride and landed safely with just an inch's margin.
Harold let go of the log and jumped, completely missed the boat and
fell headfirst down the muddy waters of the Zola Fel.
Ingolf tried to get free of the log and jump, but since he was
furthest away and since the others letting go of the log unbalanced
it, he stumbled and fell with the log over him, crushing his hip and
plowing forward until it struck the boat.

Richard swayed back and forth a few seconds until he had balanced
himself, then shouted:
- -Come out, you filthy bastard, and fight like a man!
and drew his broadsword. Since he had left his shield on the shore he
drew his dagger as well; better than a bare hand, he thought. He
peered into the darkness of the hut, trying to figure out whether the
sorcerer was in there somewhere, but all he could see was some
clothes, a bed, some cooking utensils and a chest. The common
contents of a one-room house, in other words. The sorcerer must have
gone to the back of the boat, whatever they called it. Daft?
Something like that. A sound like thunder, not too different from
that of their own battering ram, made him turn around and remember
his two companions.

Harold tried to remember how to swim, and didn't succeed. He seldom
had anything to do with water for any reason, and had only the
rudimentary swimming skill of your average inland
farmboy-turned-warrior-and-as-a-result-travelling-even-further-inland.
If you add the weight of his armor, he was in deep trouble,
literally. Somehow he succeeded in getting his head on top, and
managed to calm himself enough that he found that if you was over six
feet tall - as he was - you could actually stand on the bottom and
have your head above water. He steadied himself further and jumped
upwards, trying to grab the boat in front of/above him. On the second
attempt he succeeded, and sputtering and coughing heaved himself up
on the deck.
- -Strange, he thought, my ears are still buzzing, like they were below
water.
Buzzing? It sounded more like a horseback charge down a gravelly
slope.
- -What the... he murmured and turned around and faced the same sight
as Richard.

Down the slope came the man who called himself Yssak, and who had
shown them the way, riding his barded charger, with his helmet down,
lance lowered and cursing - or chanting? - at the top of his voice.
For a moment Richard hoped that this was some madcap attempt to help
them, and wondered why Mr Armor tried the same stupid tactic as they.
Then he realised that the lance was pointing straight at HIM.
Then he realised that Mr Armor was not as stupid as them. Somewhere
in the middle of the slope the horse took off and started gallopping
IN THE AIR.
- -Shield, Richard thought, and looked down on the dagger in his left
hand.
- -Shit, he thought and spun around desperately in the vain hope that
there was SOME kind of shield around here. In the middle of the spin
he noticed a large frying pan and snatched it almost without
thinking.
Now the charging knight was almost down on him, and he swung the pan
desperately trying to sweep aside the lance. He swung it a fraction
of second too early, but the combination of his magically enhanced
strength, innate reflexes and plain old luck saved him.
The point of the lance swung to the left, tearing a hole in the
cast-iron pan and snatching it away. It almost tore Richard's left

arm from its socket, but he still had enough sense to throw himself
to the right at the same time as he swung his broadsword against the
charger. It hit the left forleg of the horse as Richard fell down and
out of the horse's way. The big horse whinnied with shock and pain
and stumbled into the hut, and Yssak by reflex tried to jump off as
it seemed as if the horse would roll over him.

He forgot that he was on a FLYING horse, and above deep water. He
struck the river's surface with a big SPLASH, and sunk like a stone
in his all-covering plate. The horse fell and slid as if on a
glass roof suspended above the river, spattering its surface with
blood, for Richard had been true to his name, and his god-charmed
sword had severed the horse's foreleg. Richard lie on the deck panting, h=
is left
arm numbed with pain. Harold stood up on the swaying deck and tried
to get a view of the situation.

It quickly became obvious to him that both Richard and Ingolf needed
help - Ingolf most, but he was currently out of reach, and he didn't
want to leave Richard to the sorcerer, who still must be somewhere on
the boat. Harold bent down to help Richard up and off the boat, when
a rope from the rigging suddenly moved, whip-like, and wound itself
around his shield-arm (currently without shield) as a constricting snake.
Harold didn't pause to wonder - this was, after all, the boat of a
chaos-worshipping Lunar murderous dark sorcerer, which even had a
HOUSE on it. He was prepared for everything. He drew the rope towards
him, stretching it like a bowstring despite the pain in his arm, and
swung his iron sword down, cutting it off. He had hoped this would
sorta kill the rope, like cutting a snake in twain. It didn't. The
remaining piece merely rolled up around his arm and squeezed even
tighter.
- -Ropes are like worms, appearantly, Harold murmured through his
teeth. If you cut it in two, each part becomes a new one. Never
thought of that.
He began to peel the rope off his arm using his right hand and teeth.
Richard managed to stand up and used his good arm to help him. After
a few seconds of struggle they got the rope loose and threw it into the
water. They stood still and just panted for a while, and Harold
flexed the muscles of his almost-blue arm just to see whether they
were still alright.

- -Now I'm tired of this, Richard grumbled. No more sneaky sorcery!
Lets get round this damn hut and get him.
Harold didn't listen - he peered with sharp eyes into the darkness.
"Eyes as sharp as your sword" - that was his gift from Humakt.=A8
- -I've got him! he shouted and rushed through the house, rocking the
boat fierecly. Richard was close to stumbling but steadied himself
and followed.
He came out on the back (daft?) of the boat just in time to see
Harold charge towards a small man clad in black and white standing at
the edge of the boat, swaying like a dancing girl and making swift
passes with his hands in the air.
Harold stormed along, but the sorcerer grabbed his sword-arm and his
shirt, somersaulted backwards and sent Harold down into Zola Fel.
The view stunned Richard, who had never encountered the noble arts of
Pelorian self-defense before. The sorcerer rolled to his feet and
smiled.
- - The reed bends when the log breaks, he said. Your turn, dear sir.
- - Yeah, Richard snarled, but.. but.. but the sword can cut a reed if
it's just sharp enough!
- -Now where in hell did I get that from, he thought confusedly, which
delayed his swing. Fortunately, the retort seemed to confuse the
sorcerer as well.
Things evened out, and the fearsome up-ward swing of the Crippler
struck the sorcerer in the abdomen - and with a screming sound
skidded aside, like a skate across ice.

Richard drew back, puzzled. The sorcerer smiled.
- - The reeds grow awfully thick this year, he taunted and started
making those fancy passes again.
- - Seems my sword wasn't sharp enough, Richard followed, mighty proud
of his part in the monologue, and swung again.
This time the sword struck true, and with a strange sound, like
breaking a bubble, it sliced into the right leg of the sorcerer,
almost cutting it off. He screamed.

So did Harold - or he had done for some time, but Richard hadn't
heard him.
- - HEL-LP! I'M DROWN(bubble)!
Richard swore and turned towards the water, found a rope curled up on
deck and trew it in the gen

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