2 years later Ben POV
“Wait, wait, I’m sorry just take the stuff, take anything you want, just let me live!!” The man screamed, I was impressed with his ability to make coherent sentences despite the broken legs, though the adrenaline might just be numbing him, it wouldn’t affect my next decision.
“Sorry but the horse crushed your legs in your fall, if I turned you in to the authorities, your crimes would have you sent to the wall, but with your injuries the cost would be too great for what you are worth, and I have no intention of letting you go free, so...” I explain before cutting his throat, turning around to walk away as he bleeds out. As I walk back to where my horse is tied up, I pass the dozen dead bodies, all with a single arrow placed either in their head or chest. Speaking of which here he comes, apparently having finished chasing down his opponent.
As I climb on my now retrieved horse, I think to myself that this was a lot of work and bloodshed that could have been avoided if they had simply kept a cooler head, and not been such petty arseholes. It all started last night, I was travelling along the kingsroad and stopped at an inn for the night. Instead of bringing Brutus to the stables like I usually do, I let him roam the nearby woods as he had been feeling skittish from the lack of hunts this week. When I arrived, I ordered some mutton for dinner and listened to the conversations around me. In one corner of the inn there was a rather spirited game of dice happening, lots of laughter. When I finished my food, I thought of nothing better to do, so I went over to join them.
It was quite a bit of fun, found out that they were sell-swords, new company called Grey men, named after the mining town they came from, to the south East of the North. They were travelling along the road for the same reason as me, to compete in the Starks upcoming tournament, though it would just be the captain, a man who’s name I had forgotten, that would have competed due to the cost of admission. This tournament would be a much more high profile one, thus the price of entry is 50 stags instead of 10.
Anyway, the game went well, made a few friends I thought, except for this one guy who was apparently way too drunk and way too unlucky. He had been on a losing streak even before I arrived, though he lost a lot more when I arrived. That's not to say I was lucky, in fact I lost quite a bit to the other players, it’s just that he started losing even more when I arrived. The fact he was drinking more meant that he was betting bigger as well. After one particularly bad hand he asked in a quiet voice, “You think you’re pretty clever, don’t you?”.
He was speaking into his hands and the noisy room meant we didn’t know what he was saying or who he was speaking to, so one of his friends tried to get him to speak up. Instead of speaking he flipped the table and drew a knife. In one move he leapt at me. I was shocked by the sudden change in atmosphere, so I was unable to react properly, I just managed to get my hands in the way and grip his wrists, though his momentum forced me over and onto my back. He continued to try and stab me, but I was much stronger than him and had caught my senses now. I was 18-years-old, 190cm tall, over 100kg of lean muscles, with qi in the upper part of the 1st tier. My body was at the peak of what is humanly possible for my size, and with a burst of qi to my hands, I exceed that.
With a decisive twist of my wrists I snap my opponent’s arms, causing him to drop the knife and by pulling him over my head and with both feet in his gut I send him flying over a nearby table to crash on a set of chairs. His friends move at this point, their captain rushes to the man that attacked me, I now remember that they might have been brothers, while I rise to my feet in a smooth motion my opponents knife still in hand.
The rest of them start to surround me at this point as the screams from their friend ring around the room. They are way too intoxicated and emotions running high to think about who is at fault, all they know is that their friend is hurt and I was the one who did that.
I check my situation. 11 opponents if we count the captain attending to his brother, equipment is the swords that they have started to draw. They aren’t used to fights in close quarters with lots of obstructions like this inn, otherwise they would use knives. To be fair I am not used to interiors like this, in my last life most of my fights happened in the woods or the wide-open areas, I was rarely involved in sieges or street fighting. Fortunately, I am used to keeping track of my surroundings and my activities the last 2 years has given me lots of practice with multiple opponents from every direction like this. As for my own equipment, I have similar apparel to them in that we are both wearing travelling clothes, though my weapons don’t include my sword which I left in my room, instead I have a total of 6 throwing knives and a pair of hunting knives.
With the throwing weapons I could quickly dispatch the men in the direction of the door before any of them even come close to me, leaving me with only 5 left that are pursuing me. If i use my remaining knives to make it to the doorway, I can use the frame as a shield to keep people from my sides, and if I grab one of the dead men’s swords I could hold them off one at a time and either slowly wear them down, or run if they decide to go out the back or window in an attempt to surround me again. I am clearly in better shape and could outrun them easily, until Brutus arrives and kills them all.
I was just about to start, when the door to the inn burst open and a number of armoured men entered the building. “Halt, in the name of Lord Stark, you will all lower your weapons and surrender!” The man at the lead demanded in a loud voice with a sword in his own hand. The guy at the head was clearly a knight and the rest of the men, 8 in total, were wearing Stark colours.
These men were definitely patrol men, the Starks send them along the kingsroad and other major roads, from the Wall to the Neck, checking parts of the road for damage and conducting inspections into the settlements and businesses. “It was them, Ser, they were the ones who started swinging knives and swords about.” One person without armour entered the room and pointed at me and the mercenaries. It seems one of the other patrons had run out of the inn at the start and was lucky to spot the patrol. The knight looked at us and was about to speak when the inn-keep interrupted him. “Hold on, that man over there was the only one causing trouble, the man in the middle was only defending himself.” he attested to my innocence. I gave him a nod in thanks.
The knight paused for a moment as we all stayed still, likely considering our stories, but I needed to put an end to this before my plans get messed up. I walked over to the bag of money we were using, some of the contents were spilled onto the floor, scooped up the coins and passed it to the captain. “I would like to drop all charges against these men. I suggest you take this money to get his injuries treated, let’s put this behind us and part ways.” I say to the captain, who nods in acceptance. “Thank you for defending me, I will pay 10 stags to cover the cost of damages.” I say to the inn-keep. The broken table and plates would only cost about 200 coppers at most, the high compensation is to get him to drop the charges. He understands my meaning and accepts.
The knight looks around the room and sees that we have all come to an understanding, sheathes his sword and leaves the building. Before we leave, he tells us that we should disperse and not cause more trouble. We all go our separate ways, I return to my room, while the mercs leave, likely camping outside to save on costs.
I didn’t have to drop the charges, the situation would likely have resolved itself in my favour, but it would have taken too long. This event would be taken as either attempted robbery or attempted murder. Both require a trial, and that means several days of waiting while the local margrave organises the evidence. I have no fear of being found guilty, I had several witnesses and even if they tried to bribe the judge, I am richer than them and can top their price. But the delay would likely result in me missing the tournament, and this is the most important one in 2 years, the one I will finally be knighted. The money I gave the inn-keeper and the mercenaries was only small change to me now, not worth what I would lose from the tournament. Beside the only guy to really attack me had both his arms broken.
I went to sleep and woke up at dawn to go find Brutus. I could feel him resting in the clearing so I made my way over to him. He was lying down in the morning sun, catching a few a few winks, when he felt me and ran over to me. If it was anyone else who saw Brutus running at them, they would likely start running as well, just in the other direction. 150kg, 120cm tall, he has surpassed most beasts in the North except for bears and dire wolves. Even then they would have trouble taking down Brutus. He has developed mentally to a similar level as a human child, broken through to the 1st tier of qi and can use it in a similar manner as me to create bursts of strength. I don’t fear him, and instead embrace him as he snuggles me, smelling his wild scent from spending the night in the woods, a mixture of moisture, mud and blood from his nightly kill.
As I make my way back to the inn, I notice a disturbance outside the stables. The inn-keep from the previous night came up to me with a worried look on his face, even more so when he notices Brutus to my side. “S-Sir, I am terribly sorry, last night someone broke into the stables and stole your horse. The stable hand says that when he went to check the horses last night, he saw the silhouette of the men from before ride off with your horse.” I stopped listening after that, the talk of how the patrol had already moved on so they couldn’t help, and how they would contact the lord to make them wanted men. All that didn’t matter. They crossed a line, pushed me too far. I gave them the money despite it being their man that started it because I wasn’t looking to make enemies that were unnecessary, they only slow you down when diplomacy is an option. It seems it wasn’t enough and instead of counting their lucky stars that they got away from this mess with their lives and freedom, they held a grudge against me and tried to get back at me. Once they did that, they proved that they would hold a grudge against me and they were determined to be my enemy.
I brought Brutus to the road and had him find the scent once I identified the tracks. We followed the road for a mile till it seemed they had changed directions to the border forest on the left, likely trying to throw off any pursuers, who would likely continue along the road. We followed the tracks into the forest, keeping low and in the underbush for about an hour, until I spotted their look-out. Rather than take him out we back tracked to avoid detection and started to take a long loop around to try and take them from the rear. They have a group of 12, the look-out facing the direction of the road will likely be their only one, as it is extremely unlikely for anyone to come from another direction, he has to remain in earshot of the main group to warn them, so with those rough measurements I could guess where their camp was. I found their camp with several tending to a fire and another making dinner, and a pair tending to the horse, 7 including mine. The rest of them are looking after the man I injured the night before, wrapping his arms and splint, while talking to distract him from the pain. Me and Brutus head to a slightly raised area and wait. With Brutus and me together, plus the element of surprise we could take them, but it would be hard without injuries, some of them have crossbows near to them.
After another 10 minutes the cook calls for dinner causing everyone to look his way, presenting the chance i was looking for. I loose an arrow and take the one closest to me, the injured man, through the back of the head. He wasn’t a threat, but he could have warned the others the others beside him, instead he goes down silently and I launch another arrow in half a second. This one strikes the captain who just turned around after hearing a light noise from his brother, only to receive an arrow to the eye. The person to the left saw this and was about to scream when Brutus who had started running when I fired my first arrow, tore his throat out.
The others had noticed us at this point, and grabbed their weapons. The 2 men with crossbows raised them to aim at Brutus, but he had run round the left side of the camp to use the tents as cover. While they were distracted with Brutus, I took them both out, and just like that they were down 5 men with only 6 left. They were panicking, confused and with no leadership, when Brutus leapt from behind the tents, confident that I had dealt with the ranged threats, to confront 2 sword wielding foes. They were no match for him, a few scared swings later and one had their arm torn off and the other had crushed ribs from a body slam.
The rest had started to run when Brutus leapt from cover, not even bothering to help their friends. The furthest that got away was the one beside the horse that thought riding would let him escape, I just left him for last, shooting the runners instead. What he neglected was that while he was faster on horseback, on foot they could use the foliage as cover, the horse on the other hand is a larger target and needs to avoid the tighter spaces. I shot the horse from 100 metres between the trees bringing him to the ground, sending Brutus to chase the man on look-out who will no doubt have run away after the screams of fear from camp, and I went to finish off the injured one left.