Petey was silent, his fear had been all encompassing. When the Devil-faced giant spoke, it took several seconds for him to even register the fact he could understand the words. It had been slightly under two months since he held a real conversation, let alone been asked a question. He had no idea that the first person he could understand in this strange world, would in fact be the hulking terror in front of him.
This could be good news. If this man could understand Petey then there may be a chance to reason with him. Elton had been good to Petey, even though they couldn't communicate in the normal fashion. Petey would do all he could to keep him alive.
His fear slowly started to resend, a cautious smile started to overtake his lips.
Looks like things might actually work out.
“Yes I can-” Petey started before sudden movement caught his eye behind the devil-faced man. “Look out!”
Leon couldn’t help but think the multiple concussions were to blame for this moment. Especially after the prolonged silence from the kid. Leon had all but given up hope, when he heard something he hadn’t expected.
Leon had subconsciously started to crouch down to speak with Petey. So he barely had time to turn to see Natane’s attack. The mace would’ve stuck true, if not for Leon's rushed block. The mace struck the sloppy defence, knocking Leon’s blade clear across the room.
Leon, knowing he had no chance otherwise, jumped from his crouched position, intent on tackling Natane. Natane saw this and tried to back away, only to be blocked by Roger and La’raf who had started their own skirmish. His back ended up tripping Roger slightly, putting him on the defensive against La’raf.
Leons tackle caught Natane in his midriff, sending him crashing into the stone floor. He was immediately set upon by Leon, punch after punch, each hitting solid. Natane in an act of desperation swung high with his weapon, slamming into Leon's shoulder, momentarily pausing the assault. He used every ounce of his strength to roll Leon’s massive form over, reversing their positions.
Natane was skilled, it turned out, at subduing someone without the use of weapons. Him being a paladin it made sense, his duty was mostly guarding a chapal somewhere. If trouble broke out it would cast a bad name on the entirety of the religion to publicly kill rowdy members of the community.
Leon on the other hand, was used to slaying his enemies. He had no real purpose for taking them alive as a mercenary. Leon was still confident he could win in a fist fight, which would be hard to do from the ground. That strike earlier to his shoulder had only furthered the damage Commander Bre’non had caused, leaving his left arm weak.
Natane perfectly locked Leon in place, not giving an opportunity for his opponent to turn the tides. He pulled a pair of shackles off his belt, meant for either the count or Petey, they would work just as well on Leon however. It seemed Natane wanted to take him alive.
Leon was able to peer at Roger’s fight with La’raf. The two seemed to be fairly evenly matched, but Leon knew this wasn’t true. Roger’s style of combat revolved around avoiding enemy attacks, wearing them down. After his opponents tired themselves, Roger would find the perfect opportunity to deliver a crippling strike, most of the time it only took one blow from his hammer to win a battle.
What caught Leon's attention however, was that each of La’rafs moves was filled with killing intent. If they lost here today, Leon knew he would be responsible for his friend's death.
That was unacceptable.
Leon was stronger than Natane. That much was true. If Leon had had both arms in perfect working order, if he was able to switch positions with Natane to use his body weight to its full potential, if he was standing on his feet and fighting with a weapon in hand, in any of these circumstances Leon was confident he could beat Natane. As it stood now Leon was going to lose his one on one fight with the paladin. There was no denying the fact.
Leon did have one last card up his sleeve, but it was gonna require some pain.
He waited for the opening, Natane was trying to shackle him, and Leon was letting it happen. Relaxing his left arm, he allowed Natane to slam the self locking shackles against his wrist. Natane relaxed somewhat as he pulled Leon's other wrist up.
This was a mistake.
With a quick movement of his hand he managed to grab Natanes Left wrist with his right hand, squeezing hard. The other shackle popped out of Natanes grip, and into Leon's awaiting hand. Leon took the shackle and with a painful smack locked it on to his opponents wrist.
Leon was never a fan of fair fights, always using whatever method he could think of to give himself and edge. The only thing he hated more, was an unfair fight, in his opponents favor. While Natane may have been skilled in wrestling and submissions, Leon doubted he had ever been in a Handcuff Duel.
Leon had, many times in fact.
He jerked with all the might his injured arm could muster, forcing Natane to awkwardly flail off of Leon. Natane had expertly locked Leon down to prevent him from getting up or rolling over, using leverage and the entirety of his body weight in very specific points on Leons body. While this made it possible to lock down the much more massive Leon, it also made him vulnerable to unexpected angles of force. Leaving him open to a very unlikely strategy no one would ever attempt.
Who in their right mind would be handcuffed willingly?
Leon’s arm burned with pain. It may have seemed counterintuitive to have cuffed his injured arm, however Leon needed his dominant and healthy appendage free for the next part of his plan. On his right thigh, hidden under his armor leon pulled out a spike. The very same spike that had been stabbed into his shoulder during the battle for the wall.
Leon peered once again at Roger’s fight. It was still locked into a draw, and only half a meter from Leon’s struggle. It seemed Roger was actively trying to help him while dueling the elite paladin. Leon could have used the pick to help against Natane. It would definitely come in handy to bypass his platemail, but Leon had a better weapon in mind.
Leon took his spike and jammed it into the back of La’rafs knee, not slowed in the slightest by the chainmail that surrounded the joint.
“Aagh!” La’raf let out a pained cry, completely caught off guard by Leons sneak attack.
Roger’s opponent fell to one knee, unable to support any weight on his now gimp right leg. Natane had just started to adjust himself to continue his fight with Leon, when Roger got the hint.
With a full body kick, Roger had struck La’raf launching him at Natane. The force of his ally’s flying body had crushed Natane back into the ground face first. La’rafs momentum carried him well past Leon's struggle, smacking his own helmeted head into the floor. Roger quickly followed.
The first hit from Roger hammer dented La’rafs gridded visor.
The second opened a hole, where the paladin's horrified expression could just be made out.
The third ended his life, giving meaty squelch as Roger pulled his reversed hammer free, the spike dripped, wet with blood.
The fourth through eighth helped ease Roger out of the rage of betrayal.
Leon had turned his fight around, literally. He was crouched atope Natane, who was lying on his stomach. His neck arched up painfully with his left arm. Leon had used the shackles to pin Natanes arm behind his head, while also wrapping the chain halfway around his throat. Leon hand his left and right hand on Natanes chin and cranium respectively.
“Why?” Leon growled the single word.
“You heretic! You spoke the Outworlders language! You conspired against Dorithe!” Natane zealously preached.
“You.You. You ,you, you.” Roger mocked, walking over to Leon and Natane. “That’s a hell of alot of accusations. Especially for you, trying to kill us in’ all. Ya’ know?”
“We follow his will! They must die! I’ll see to it you’re paid ten times over, and pardoned for killing La’raf! Kill them, sellsword!” Natane was incoherent in his preaching.
“I think that's all we’re gettin’ out of him.” Roger said, not even entertaining the insane offer.
“Yeah, good point.” Leon replied in a low voice.
With a sickening snap, Natanes head turned to an unnatural angle. His ravings were instantly stopped. The room went silent, save for a whimpering coming from the corner Petey called home. He now sat shivering in a suspiciously new puddle, hands fruitlessly trying to hide the scene before him.
“Well, shit.” Roger cursed, nudging Natane’s body with a steel toe. “Good thing we already got paid.”
Roger grabbed a key out of Natane’s pouch, using it to unshackle Leon from the corpse.
“Kid.” Leon addressed Petey, ignoring Roger’s macabre remark. “Where did you come from?”
Petey didn’t respond, still catatonic. He had begun rocking slightly.
“I don't think he speaks trade, try that native language of yours again.” Roger suggested, now walking over to Count Elton.
“Where. Are. You. From. “ Leon said in english, emphasising each word, trying and failing to lure the kid out of whatever corner of his mind he was hiding in.
“Should I unshackle this guy?” Roger asked, gesturing to the squirming noble. Leon was too focused on Petey to reply. “Think he’ll still try to kill us?”
Leon was anxious, he couldn’t remember the last time his heart pounded so loudly in his ears. If he had to make a guess, he’d say it was probably around four years ago, right before his first kill. Somehow this was worse, Petey could be the only remaining indicator that his previous life had even been real. Leon was horrified to learn the truth.
There was only one word that came to mind. Something Leon had been missing. The same thing that he and Petey may hold in common.
“Earth?” Leon asked quietly, under his breath. “Is that it?”
Petey’s eyes widened further, turning slightly to look at Leon's Helm. He still didn’t reply.
“Answer me!” Leon ordered in an uncharacteristic shout, picking Petey up by the collar of his expensive shirt, with his good arm. “Say it!”
“Yes!” Petey finally responded, his legs waving frantically, failing to touch the ground. “Please, let me go!”
“Dammit! God, dammit! She did it again, almost four years without a word and she goes and takes another!” Leon fumed, still speaking english.
Petey dropped to the floor, in a tumble. He gave Leon a look of confusion.
“Another one? You mean, she chose you too?” Petey brightened slightly. “That should make the mission way easier.”
Leon silenced his cursing. His eyes once again locked on Petey.
“What, mission?” Leon fumed. He started to close in on the smaller man.
“Uh…” Petey backed away slightly, only for his back to bump lightly against the wall.
“Hate to break up the party, but this is probably the worst time for a family reunion. Cli’ven is probably already on his way, and I doubt he’ll appreciate what we did to his guys.” Roger said almost casually, gesturing to the paladins corpses.
“Fine, but this isn’t over kid.” Leon yielded, stepping away from Petey and toward the still bound Count Elton. “Roger, did you get the key? ”
“Yep. Here.” Roger tossed a single palm sized key toward Leon, who summarily missed the easy catch due to his arm flaring in pain.
“Oh, yeah. Ow.” Leon clenched his teeth. He tried no to show it, but his left arm was in incredible pain.
The adrenaline was wearing down, and Leon was almost certain his arm was at least slightly fractured. The jerking motion with the shackle did him no favors, neither did Natanes mace, Commander Bre’nons sword, or even the stab wound from the other day. He should probably be easier on it.
“I’m letting you go, don’t try anything. Got it?” Leon said to the gagged man.
Elton’s eyes were wide with awe. Even after Leon ungagged and unbound him, he continued to Look between Leon and Petey.
“Praise Sapien! Her divine proclamation was true, you mu-” The man was re-gagged.
“Enough. Way out. Now.” Leon said completely done with anything even remotely religious. “Is the passage safe?”
Leon took the gag back out.
“Yes, of course! One of the tunnels leads outside the town. I have some men and horses waiting, ready to leave at any time.” Elton nodded.
“Wait! We can't go with him!” Roger peeped in, joining the discussion. “Us missing when Cli’ven gets back will put suspicion on The Spear. We can’t abandon them.”
“Then what?” Leon asked. “We can’t kill Cliven, my arms injured and there are only three of us.”
“We could pretend to have been knocked out of the fight. Say those two got away, and have them sneak out of the tunnels.” Roger supplied.
“Ah Yes, the only survivors are the two mercenaries. Nothing at all suspicious about that.” Leon sarcastically said.
“I can't take Her Chosen, the people would recognize me, he’d easily track us down. Escaping was my last resort.” The count shook his head in disappointment. “It would be best if you took him. I’ll leave and draw as much attention as I can, you get the boy somewhere safe.”
“Wait, you said tunnels right?” Leon asked, “Where do the others go?”
“It’s useless. It comes out right outside the keep. I’d be recognized easily.”
“No, that's perfect! Leon give me your helmet!” Roger told them.
“What? Why?” Leon asked, unwilling to part with his possession.
“What are they saying?” Petey chimed in.
“What's perfect? What's the plan?” Elton asked, adding to the cluster of voices.
“Shut up!” Roger exclaimed, everyone else quieted down. “We have no time for this shit. Helmet, now.”
“Fine. I better get it back.” Leon relented, unbuckling his helmet and taking it off.
“Yeah, yeah. Okay now, Elton get to your men, if you're up for it still, then lead Cli’ven away.” Roger told Elton, he then turned toward Leon.
“Leon, take the kid through the other tunnel. Do whatever you have to to get him back to camp.”
“What about you?” Leon asked, unwilling to leave his friend without reason.
“I’m gonna hang back. I can’t fake my death, I’ll also give him a lead on Elton.” Roger said.
“Fake my death?” Leon asked, passing his helmet over.
“Yeah, he hasn’t seen you without this ridiculous thing, figured I'll replace that big guy’s with yours.” Roger smiled sideways at his own plan, tossing Leon's helmet up and down with one hand. “Chances are he didn’t get a close look at your armor, at least not enough to notice any difference with this eye catcher on.”
“Poor Bre’non…” Count Elton said, shaking his head sadly. “We should have left earlier, he may have lived.”
“Why didn’t you?” Leon asked.
“The Church of Sapien was sending an envoy, then that bastard Kelos showed up with his blasted army. I had to stay to defend my city and couldn’t risk sending Petey alone.” Elton explained, with a disgruntled look. “I don’t know what happened to the envoy, I’d assume them dead or captured.”
“Hurry up and go! We have zero time for bellyaching!” Roger shouted.
“Fine. Don’t die, we’ll see you at camp.” Leon said, walking up to Roger to grasp his arm. “You're a good man Count, the same goes for you, don’t die.”
“I wish we could’ve met under better terms.” Elton paused looking over the deceased paladins. “From what I’ve seen Sapien made the right choice with you. The church in the capital would offer both of you the best protection you could ask for, good luck.”
With these parting words Elton proceeded to climb through the passage with Leon’s help. Petey looked confused, having not understood a word of the conversation. Leon neglected to translate for him.
“Where’s Elton going? Is he going to be alright?” Petey asked, worried.
“Yeah, probably. Come on, we have to leave.” Leon said, unamused at the turn of events.
“What? Where are we going?”
“Away from here. Hurry up, Roger’s getting antsy.” Leon answered, positioning himself to help Petey up the wall.
Petey kept talking, Leon didn’t bother to reply. Instead he picked him up and forced him to go through the passage. Turned out there was a short drop as he heard the kid hit the floor with a grunt.
“Seriously Roger, be safe. I’ve got no idea if Cli’ven will buy this, and you won’t have a chance alone.”
“I’ll be fine. Not the first time I’ve put my neck out, and I sure as shit plan it won't be my last.” Roger waved off Leon's concerns, before his face took on a vague hint of worry. “I’m more concerned about you. It’s a long way through town not to be spotted, sure you’re up to it?”
Leon put his hand out to grasp Roger’s.
“I’ll find a way. Good luck.” He said.
“You too, brother.” Roger replied, taking Leon's outstretched hand.