The Left Hand Path
Edmund watched as Billet and the rogue embraced and was horrified as he read her lips — “I’m sorry”, she whispered to the swashbuckler. He stumbled back from their kiss and he collapsed.
Sir Graves used the opportunity to grab the cask and make for the corral. He strapped the chest to Sir Garrett’s mount and climbed into the saddle, the rogue making her way toward him.
Garrett, terribly wounded, advanced on Hightower, but Sir Graves was quicker and put the horseman down. This, however, opened the knight up to an attack from the wounded Togo who was recuperating by the horse corpses, feeding on their flesh.
Togo pulled the knight from his saddle, knocking him unconscious, but the rogue descended on the wolf and drove him off. She placed her benefactor onto the back of the horse then climbed into the saddle and rode off, with the Bordermen hot on her heels.
They harried her, keeping her from fleeing outright, though, despite Byron’s arrows and bolts from Arthur’s crossbow, she nearly escaped. Edmund and Brandy cut off her path to freedom multiple times, and Arthur’s mount blocked her race to the south.
She hard turned her mount and cut Edmund from his saddle. He returned pursuit bareback as she rode into the forest. Byron, chasing on foot, leveled an amazing shot through the trees to drive her off her horse, where she snapped her neck when she fell.
Arthur kept the rogue’s stolen horse from escaping, reining it in as Killian rode up with their wounded comrades strapped across a spare horse.
Edmund and Byron pulled the cask to the ground and studied the locks. Byron picked the locks easily and they opened the chest to reveal a mummified left hand, with rings on its fore and little fingers.
“The Hand of Salazar,” Edmund exclaimed.
They closed the cask and tied it back onto Sir Garrett’s mount, while Killian carried the body of the rogue to the burning tower, casting her body into the flames. He explained that she had once been quite dear to him once, long ago, in their homeland of Mortainne.
After a much needed long rest, Garrett and Billet were roused from their wounds. Killian asked the swashbuckler about his connection to the rogue and he replied that Roquelaure had been his partner before she betrayed him, leaving him penniless in a small village along the Spine of the Dragon. Soon after he had joined up with Riddle.
Killian smiled, “Small world.”
“Not small enough,” Edmund added. “We’d best make for Fort Pitcairn at best speed.” He checked the ropes on their captive — Sir Graves Hightower — then mounted up, riding out alongside Killian, followed closely by Arthur and Byron, Sir Garrett Mark and Nelson Billet.
The Bordermen of Brigand’s Rest headed north and west, back to the Fort where they saw their compatriots manning the walls.
“Well again,” they cried, as the Bordermen were let into the frontier stronghold, led toward the mead hall where the Princess awaited for their prize — the Hand of Salazar.
to be continued