Rough draft continued…
They stood on black sand and rock, a narrow shore revealed by the retreating tide. Their small company of six had left the Reaper with the dawn, such as there was in Blacksand Bay. The cliff face before them rose to vanish into the fog. Their destination remained hidden above. One of the cave openings before them led into more than darkness, it was said to be a path up into the lost riches of the Weeping Towers.
Kytun stopped, hand on sword hilt, slowly turning his head. Something wrong. The fog distorted everything, smell of sea and decay, sight and sound. Hiss of wave retreating through sand and small rocks, his companions sorting gear, oars cutting the water as the two sailors in the dinghy returned to the Reaper from their final trip.
Finn noticed Kytunâ€™s stance, issued a low, urgent warning, â€œWare!â€
The attackers came bursting out of the water and fog with explosive, inhuman leaps.
Kytun slapped the tip of a lance out of line with his forearm. The leather bracer diverted the bronze point from his body as he ducked beneath the strange figure flying through the fog. On one knee, Kytun drew sword and the Tinker knife.
More of the strange attackers flew across the wet shore, lances thrusting at their surprised opponents. Short and squat, they were man-sized, but oddly long of leg.
Finn raised his boar spear, skewering an attacker in the air, throwing the body over and beyond him.
Jago, Lurissaâ€™s pet mage, went to the ground, hands covering his head.
Owain, moving well for a man thick with muscle and big belly, ducked beneath an attack, maneuvering his back against the black rock of the cliff.
One-Eye, Hawk as Finn called him, tilted his head to the side, making the minimum motion possible to avoid an attackerâ€™s lance.
Save for Kytun himself, Lurissa was closest to the water. She met one attacker head on, sword drawing and cutting with the same motion. Her squat attacker lost control of his leap, one thigh cut to the bone.
Lurissa caught Kytun watching her. She glared at him, teeth bared in a snarl. Her eyes went wide as Kytun brought the Tinker knife to his ear, his hand snapping forward toward her head in smooth continuation of the motion.
Lurissa twisted to avoid the throw, seeing the attacker flying upon her from behind too late to counter. The bronze lance tip slid across her armor, failing to find a purchase, robbed of power. The attacker flew over Lurissaâ€™s shoulder, landing awkwardly. The Tinker knife was buried to the hilt in the humanoid throat.
Kytun charged forward, leaping up from a boulder to meet a flying attacker in mid-air before it could pin Jago to the sand. Blocking the lance with his sword, Kytun hooked his fingers into his foeâ€™s woven armor shirt. Wide, bulbous eyes, set too far apart in its broad face, stared back at Kytun. It was not human.
Kytun pulled his foe beneath himself, landing on top of it. He used their combined momentum to roll up to one knee, driving his sword into the creatureâ€™s belly.
The explosive concussion of Owainâ€™s harkbus thundered off the cliff. The hand cannon blew two of the attackers to the sand and twisted a third to its knees.
The attackers froze for an instant before bursting into frenzied retreat to the waters of the bay. They disappeared beneath the surface as fast as they had appeared.
Kytun scanned the narrow shelf of sand and rock upon which he and his companions stood. â€œAnyone hurt?â€
â€œOnly my pride.â€ Finn stirred a dead attackerâ€™s corpse with his spear. â€œAbout pissed myself when this thing flew out of the fog. This must be what you get when the princess does more than kiss the toad.â€
Kytun pulled Jago to his feet. The man weighted next to nothing, all bone wrapped in baggy clothing. Blue tattoos decorated his cheekbones, highlighted further by his flaming red hair. Jago ignored Kytun, eager to examine a corpse. The mage was a former student at the great university of Durro before its fall. Or so Lurissa insisted.
Owain, ex-soldier, ex-sailor, ex-pirate, was busy reloading his harkbus, powder horn tipped to the wide mouth of its barrel. Armored in a thick leather jack, he carried a short sword and hunting knife in addition to the firearm. Another of Lurissaâ€™s finds.
Hawk stood amidst three corpses. He chopped the bronze head off one of the lances with his axe, then intently studied the ten inches of double-edged blade with his single eye. His other eye was gone, the lid sewn shut, scar tissue ranging from brow, across the empty eye socket, cheek bone and jaw, down to his neck. It was a wonder the man had survived whatever attack had left him with such scars.
Kytun wasnâ€™t sure who Hawk was loyal to. The man was mute, by wound or whim, none could say. Neither Kytun or Lurissa had recruited Hawk to the venture. He had simply been on board the Reaper the morning of their departure. Hawk was very tall, broad in the shoulder and rangy. Clothed in a wool shirt, long leather vest, trousers and calf-high boots, the man carried a battle axe in hand and wore a seax sheathed across his back. Spotting the long, heavy knife worn in similar fashion to his own, Finn declared the warrior welcome. Radaamâ€™s crew had no mind to try and put him off.
Finn called the man Hawk. Lurissa and most of the others named him One-Eye. The warrior had indicated no preference so far. Seeing Hawkâ€™s calm manner during the attack and the corpses sprawled about him, Kytun had no reason to complain of the manâ€™s intrusion to their party.