Out Cold

"The next one is through your eyes," the voice called down again. "What business do knights of the realm have in assaulting a lady?"

“Not that it is any of your business, but we are acting on orders of the prelate to bring a dangerous renegade to justice!” Adder responded with righteous fury. “Who are you to dare impede us in our pursuit of a wanted diabolist and murderess?! Are you one of the witch's heathen accomplices?! Damn you, come and face me, coward! Or can you only hide behind rocks and snipe at your betters?!”

Jeke rested back against the rock, head cocked up as that arrow he twiddled for a second found the string. He contemplated actually answering that bit with another arrow. He sighed. No, he decided he would not. He slid the missile back into his quiver, raising slightly to peak over the rock.

Orla opened her eyes and struggled for breath. In front of her, she watched Lanker grab the shaft of the arrow and slowly and painfully draw it out, muttering imprecations at Jeke. Blood dripped from the punctured arm, sending small puffs of steam into the frigidly cold mountain air. She resisted the rather foolish impulse she had to ease his suffering and magically mend the wound, knowing somehow he would not appreciate the gesture.

There came the sound of heavy boots across the snow and Orla turned to see a big, tall, bearded man with a sword emerging from the flurries. Lanker was startled, having thought their unseen assailant to be lying in the complete opposite direction. Jeke raised an eyebrow, hand just starting to let go of the arrow as he beheld someone else entering the delicate situation. Of course, he had been slinging arrows their way, but he knew he had just lost whatever bit of momentum he had with these knights.

Gritting his teeth, the knight drew his blade and wielded it with his good arm. “So you decided to show yourself, cretin? There are harsh penalties for those who interfere with business of the Church!”

Joseph looked directly into the other man's eyes and spoke cryptically like in a trance. "The cycle of the mortal men shall end by my blade. The rise of a new age is beginning, and the end of the old age is arriving."

“Eh? What are you on about?” Lanker said, bewildered.

Before Orla could process the sibylline words, before Jeke fully processed what was happening, Joseph's sword empurpled and glowed with magic, and he raised the blade and attacked.

Lanker quickly managed to parry the first and second blows, but then Joseph's sword powerfully sliced through his black armour and into his mid-section, dropping him onto his back in a great spray of blood and viscera. Orla saw her apparent rescuer raise the dark magical weapon in both hands and stab it downward at the fallen knight's throat in order to finish him off. Not someone at all accustomed to witnessing brutal displays of violence, she averted her sight from the awful killing blow, a small hand over her mouth in horror. As she heard the knight's gurgling death rattle, shock took over and she began to sob, shaking convulsively.

"D'Arvit," Jeke swore under his breath. He quickly made for his horse, slinging his bow into the sheath along Barrel's flank as he mounted. The sound steel clanged against the mountain, Jeke backtracking slightly to get down there.

A grief-filled roar rent the the cold air. “Nooo!!” Adder turned from addressing Jeke and charged Joseph, confusedly thinking them both the same person. “You filthy heathen! You slew my brother! You slew my baby brother!”

Jeke had two minutes of fast riding to get down there. He saw the newcomer and the knight engaged in a duel to the death, both men with murder in their eyes. Their blades clashed, driving each other back and forth. Joseph fought well, if mechanically, like a man possessed, whilst in mournful vengeance, Adder was nothing short of a mad man, striving with all his human strength and knightly skill to slay his sibling's accursed killer.

Breathing in short gasps, Orla frantically stumbled away through the deep snow, fleeing toward the fortress, losing one of her sandals on the way. She was too terrified and cold to think, let alone work any magic, her dress frozen on her, covered with ice. All she could do was shiver and push her benumbed legs to keep moving, and as fast as possible.

Jeke slid off his horse and ran for the two, hand reaching behind him to the hilt of Helios. As Joseph plunged the blade into the man's throat and twirled it, decapitating him, he turned to face the savior. His body was about to advanced on him, however Joseph finally broke from the trance, "No."

Jeke paused, seeing the look pass over his face. Joseph's blade and mark stopped glowing, his eyes returning to their normal color. As for the cracks that went down his eyes, they became small cuts, which quickly scabbed. He looked around at the area, "What in the high sky?" He saw his carnage, it actually freaked him out so much, he vomited. He fell to his knees and collapsed on the snow, unconscious. Joseph's world became black.

The Weapons Master stared down at the man, questioning both his existence and what had just happened. The newcomer was passed out in the crimsonéd snow, sword laying in the depression with not a glow about it. He had seen a thing or two, but that had to be a new one. It certainly looked something like a possession had been the cause at first glance, though he did not know for sure.

He felt eyes upon him. He did not have long to process that before the sound of the third knight standing reached his ears. Blood dripped down in little rivlets down the armor to the pure, white snow, steam barely drifting off before dissipating.

"You... Surrender!" The knight hissed, his right arm hanging by his side as he gripped the sword tightly in his left.

Jeke looked at him and raised an eyebrow. "Hmm, my arrow was on target," he remarked. "Surely, a warrior such as yourself should realize when the battle is lost."

The knight started to close distance, which only made him sigh. Jeke really did not want to have to hurt him anymore. But this knight seemed rather insisting. Master Kerron rolled his neck and removed his hand from the sword hilt. He would not need it.

The sword swing came and the Weapons Master just bent back a bit. The wind pulled at his cowl as he appraised the stroke. He was certain it was blind will keeping this man going. The blade came back in a backhand for his neck; seeing the blade coming, Jeke ducked and stepped into the man's personal space. With an iron hand, Jeke struck the man's damaged limb. The Sarnian gave a yell of pain before trying to tackle him.

Jeke was faster, already stepping to the side. The knight went down unceremoniously and finding his target nowhere beneath him. Jeke kicked his sword loose before stating loudly, "Yield!"

"Never! I will fulfill my duty, you pagan cur-"

Jeke kicked up the knight's sword to his hand and swung. A loud clang! rang along the mountains, echoing to the valley as he appraised the unconscious knight. "Why is it when they are beaten..." he started to say before turning to the man. Joseph still lay unconscious where he fell. Jeke whistled for Barrel, clicking his tongue in appreciation as he searched for a coil of rope.

He was quick to tie and heave Joseph over the horse before attending the knight. He would live, it seemed. Jeke thought it a shame that it could not be said of his compatriots. Turning around one last time, he scooped up the strange man's sword, looking it over before stowing it on Barrel.

Now to find that woman, he thought. He searched the area with a quick eye, spotting her lone footprints. He cursed as he saw where they led. He trudged with Barrel in tow towards the monastery. He had heard tales of what dwelled here; the young miss had gone straight into the dragon's lair.

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