Welp finally got an update! Been a long time and it's a little shorter than some of my other chapters but better late than never I guess. Also while I didn't manage to get this out within the week I wanted after my last update in my last recent update Fairy Tail fic, I did get it out by the end of the month which was my deadline so I call that a victory.
I hope everyone is doing well during this Covid-19 crisis we're all dealing with and I hope this helps alleviate some of the stress and boredom that those who are quarantined are dealing with. Stay safe and God bless you all!
Whom She Found
One would think that a battle between ruthless pirates and the militant entourage of a few nobles would cause more panic for the local peasants, but the citizens of Badon seemed to take the events in stride with surprising calm and even appeared to have something of a routine for vacating the immediate premises. The streets were cleared and shops had closed down, but most of the populous could still be seen watching through windows or from porches and balconies with what only could be described as casual anticipation. Eliwood swore he even saw a few children gathered on the roof of one nearby building. It certainly wasn't how anyone in their company would have expected them to act, not that it mattered one way or the other as long as they were out of the way. It just raised some interesting speculations about the regular goings-on of the port town.
What made this particular battle even more surprising was the fact that it was one of the few battles the company had where both sides were sufficiently prepped and ready. All the other times they had fought had been much more chaotic; whether it was reacting to an ambush, surprise assaulting a castle, charging down bandits, etc. The fact that their most organized and congenial skirmish involved facing a group of pirates struck the young noble as rather ironically amusing; doubly so since neither side wanted to inflict serious casualties.
The pirates had spread themselves out between their group and the docks, forming a blockade of sorts. The main thoroughfare was filled with a veritable wall of sea hardened wayfarers with smaller groups of pirates blocking off the smaller side streets. In all honesty, Eliwood wasn't sure what the best way to proceed was. Though similar, most pirates differed from regular bandits in that they were often significantly better fighters. Bandits usually tried to overwhelm their prey through sheer numbers, brute strength, and ambush tactics on select targets. Pirates, on the other hand, needed to be far more organized and disciplined to handle their marks. Merchant vessels and trade ships often employed trained guards and mercenaries for protection which meant that the average pirate had to be skilled enough to deal with someone like that. The close quarters and unconventional environment that was fighting on ships at sea also meant that they were adept at fighting in unusual ways.
Fighting such skilled foes on what was essentially their home turf would have been difficult enough as it was, but Eliwood also had to consider that they couldn't just simply kill their way through all them. While the one pirate had said they wouldn't bear a grudge if some of their numbers died, Eliwood severely doubted their captain would be willing to assist someone who casually slaughtered his men. This left the young noble with the dilemma of trying to figure out the best way to face this battle.
As if responding to his inner thoughts, one of the pirates, the same one who had informed them of the challenge, stepped forward and approached them.
"Aight listen up! The cap'n be waiting at the docks. All you gotta do is make it to him and you win. Simple as that. Course we don't plan on making it easy for ya!"
"But why would you're captain want to fight us instead of taking payment?" Eliwood replied curiously.
The pirate shrugged. "Honestly don't know. Like I said before, the cap'n be a bit off-kilter at times. Could be that you whelps want'n to go to the Dread Isle piqued his interest. Could be that he wants to see how determined ye be. The Cap'n respects strength more'n gold," The pirate grinned. "Or maybe he's just bored and wants to jerk yer chain around. Who knows? Either way that be his decision to make. So are you landlubbers gonna just stand there all day or we gonna fight?"
"GAHAHAHAH!" A loud boisterous voice rang out at his words. Everyone turned to see Bartre step forward with a huge grin on his face. "Now there's some words I can appreciate! You pirates respect strength right?" He then dropped his axe to the ground and cracked his knuckles. "How bout we start with some good old fashioned fun?"
With that, he drew a line in the ground with his boot and placed the same foot against it. This action stunned Eliwood and the others for a moment in confusion before laughter from the pirate side caught their attention and they looked up to see one the pirates, a man just as large as Bartre, step forward with an equally big grin and walk up to the line while also cracking his knuckles. The two big, burly men stared at each other for a moment before the pirate also placed a fight on the line and both men raised their fists.
Suddenly the pirate smashed Bartre in the face with a ham sized fist. Bartre grunted, his head rocking to the side from the blow, but he didn't fall or move his foot from the line. Instead, he grinned again and responded by throwing his own crushing blow into the pirate's cheek. The pirate reeled from the impact but he too remained in place. He, in turn, threw another punch, this time aimed at Bartre's gut. Bartre groaned again, hunching inward slightly but quickly recovered and replied with a punch to the pirate in the same spot.
Blow for blow the two giants traded punches that would have crippled lesser men in an ever-increasing display of brutal machismo. The cheers of the pirates were soon joined by several members of the Company as well as several of the spectating townsfolk. Some bets were placed amongst the shouted words of encouragement which only increased in volume and intensity at the manic looks on both the combatants' faces despite the swelling, bruises, and blood that was quickly forming on their bodies.
"I must say, this is not how I expected things to start," Eliwood chuckled to himself.
"It's great!" Hector laughed heartily, raising a fist in support for Bartre. "No better way to prove your mettle than with your fists."
Most of the men in their group, with a few exceptions, were shouting with raucous cheers at the spectacle though not all shared their approval.
Lyn sighed heavily and pinched the bridge of her nose. "Men…" She muttered under her breath.
"It is a rather barbaric display of pugilism," Canas agreed from nearby.
The dual came to an abrupt end when Bartre crashed a straight punch into the pirate's face once again. Both men paused for several seconds, staring at each other through swollen eyes with wide grins on split lips. They rocked back and forth, gasping for breath before they both suddenly fell backwards like a pair of slowly felled trees. They hit the ground at the same time, their arms splayed out to the sides. Loud cheers and laughter erupted around the two men from both sides and the two giants struggled to sit up, taking a moment to catch their breath. After a moment they both managed to get back to their feet and stare at each other from the line again. Then they reached out and grasped forearms.
The now identified Durga turned to his mates and raised a hand. Somebody threw him a pair of flasks one of which he gave to Bartre. Without saying a word the two men uncapped their flasks and slammed their beefy arms together to chug through their crossed limbs. After that, they bumped chests before turning back to their respective parties.
"What was that all about?" Lyn demanded as he approached.
"Making friends, milady! GAHAHAHA!" Bartre replied jovially. "That's how real men say hello!"
"But what did it accomplish?" The Lady of Caelin replied.
"I rather expect the pirates won't look down on us anymore and treat us seriously for one," Eliwood replied for the big man.
"I agree," Hector nodded. "The whole point of this fight is to prove ourselves to their captain, isn't it? Bartre's actions are a good start."
Lyn huffed in disapproval but shrugged in acceptance. "While that may be, what do you propose we do now?" She tilted her head towards the pirate blockade. "We're not fighting our way through that mess without serious effort and casualties, especially now that they're riled up."
"We'll have to split the group and try to go around, though some of us are going to have to stay here and keep the bulk occupied," Eliwood replied.
"Right," Hector cracked his neck and hefted a large wooden club he had picked up in place of his axe. "I'll hold this front. You two flank them."
The blue-haired Ostian nodded. "Ostia specializes in heavy infantry and this is what we do." He pounded a fist to his breastplate. "Leave the front to me and the knights. We'll put this armour to use."
"Very well," Lyn nodded. "We'll leave it to you."
"All right boys," Hector turned to address Oswin, Marcus, Lowen, Kent, and Sain. "We got a roadblock to bust through!"
"Hnnn," Oswin nodded and hefted his great shield.
"Ugh…this would be so much easier if we could just run them over with our horses," Sain sighed heavily.
"True," Kent agreed. "But we're trying not to kill them."
"We shall prevail," Marcus stated simply.
"I'll do my best," Lowen said softly but with firm resolve.
"Ok then," Hector nodded. "Let's do this!"
With a roar, Hector charged forward with the other men to smash into the pirate blockade.
"We'd better go, too," Eliwood stated. "I'll go south. You take north?"
"Right," Lyn nodded before dashing away. "Good luck!"
Rebecca looked over to see Lady Lyndis sprinting towards her and the lavender haired Pegasus knight.
"Yes, Lyn?" Florina replied.
"We're splitting up to try and reach the pirate," her nose wrinkled in distaste. "Captain at the docks. Can you fly up and see what the best route to take is?"
"Of course! I'll be back in a jiffy!" Florina exclaimed excitedly before hopping up on to Huey. With a snap of her reins, she took to the skies forcing the two women next to her to shield themselves from the wind. They watched her circle overhead for a few minutes before she descended back down rapidly.
"The pirates have spread out everywhere between here and the docks. It's going to be impossible to go anywhere without meeting at least a few of them. Luckily they're much more spread out than where Lord Hector and the others are fighting," She frowned a bit then. "But a few streets over I think I saw some men that weren't pirates…"
"Not pirates?" Lyn asked in surprise. "What do you mean."
"They…they looked like soldiers to me," Florina replied. "What's more…I think they were in Laus's colours…"
"Laus soldiers?!" Lyn hissed angrily. "Are you certain?"
Florina shook her head. "I can't say for sure but it looked like it. One of them had a bow so I didn't dare get too close to look."
"Very well," Lyn nodded and her eyes turned to glare in the direction Florina had indicated. "Let's go that way then. If they're not from Laus then we can find out what they are doing getting involved in this mess. If they are…well they can't be here for a good reason and I still owe them a thing or two for Caelin."
Rebecca glanced around for a moment before finding what she was looking for and nodded. "I'll provide cover fire for you."
With that, she took a deep breathe to psyche herself up for what she was about to do. One of the things she had quickly learned was that in combat, especially ranged combat, height had the advantage. Height was even more crucial in urban environments where narrow alleys and streets greatly limited mobility. Therefore she needed to get up. Her path and goal set in mind, Rebecca dashed towards a stack of crates set up against a building wall. She hopped up and used the wooden boxes as a foothold to spring upwards and hook her fingers onto the lip of a wooden frame beam. She quickly pulled herself up and began to scale the side of the building using preplanned foot and handholds she had seen from the ground. In the span of a few breaths, she hauled herself up onto the roof of the building in a surprising display of strength and agility. The end result was punctuated by Rebecca doing a fist pump in celebration. She then turned to wave down at the two other women. Florina and Lyn stared at her for a moment then each other.
"Uhhh…Rebecca?" Florina called up a bit nervously. "Wh-while that was impressive, you do realize Huey and I could have just flown you up there right?"
Rebecca's arm froze mid-wave and her jaw dropped for a few seconds before she flushed heavily. "Sh-shut up!"
Lyn and Florina couldn't help but giggle at the flustered girl's embarrassment before Florina urged her mount to raise a few feet off the ground. With practised ease, she reached down to Lyn's outstretched hand to clasp arms. With several mighty flaps, Huey carried the two women into the air so Florina could deposit Lyn on the roof with Rebecca. The young archer pouted at the easy transition which made Florina giggle again.
"I'll provide air support after you two get in position," The Pegasus knight said while hovering next to the roof before taking to the sky once more.
Lyn turned to Rebecca, one hand rested casually on the hilt of a sword. "Shall we go?"
Rebecca eyed her warily, a little unsure of how to respond. Lyn had a very intimidating presence in the young village girl's opinion. Not only was she a stunningly beautiful noblewoman who carried herself with calm dignity at all times but she was also a competent warrior and close friends with Link, her mentor. Lyn was also best friends with her new training partner, Florina, and the quiet girl had spoken of her often. She didn't seem the type to be too bothered by impropriety so that gave Rebecca a little hope that she might get along with the gorgeous sword maiden, a concept that wouldn't have crossed her mind if it wasn't for her ties to Link and Florina. How would Link respond to this situation?
Mustering significantly more bravado than she actually felt, Rebecca placed a hand on her hip and gave Lyn a smirk.
"Try and keep up princess," She proclaimed before dashing to leap towards the next roof inwardly screaming, 'OHCRAPICAN'TBELEIVEIJUSTSAIDTHAT' over and over in her mind. For her part, Lyn blinked in surprise at the challenge before smirking to herself and taking off after the fleet-footed archer.
The two women quickly began traversing the rooftops of the closely packed buildings with an impressive display of acrobatic agility. Lyn's natural grace and speed from her swordsmanship carried her effortlessly across all obstacles in her way while Rebecca's own psychotic training with Link was revealing itself in her newfound ability to traverse the urban environment. Rebecca had always enjoyed climbing trees and exploring the forest as a child but she would have never imagined herself moving in such a way before leaving her village. Her training with Link had provided her with a new level of athleticism that encompassed far more than she expected. Confidence growing with each stop, the young woman grinned as she pushed herself to move faster and faster.
Suddenly a shrill whistle from above caused both women to slide to a halt at the edge of one of the roofs. Breathing heavily the two shared a brief grin before they crouched low to peer down at the streets below. There, coming up the lane, they could indeed see a small group of Laus soldiers. There weren't too many of them, about the size of a patrol unit, but they were all well-armed and mounted, more than enough to cause quite a bit of trouble during the confusion with the pirates. Lyn's eyes narrowed and she clenched her fists at the sight.
"I think we found our targets."
"What should we do?" Rebecca asked quietly. "There's more of them than us."
"True," Lyn nodded. "But we have the element of surprise and in that narrow street they won't be able to manoeuvre well, especially on horse," She turned and gave Rebecca a level look. "Do you think you can take out the bowman? Florina can't do anything otherwise."
Rebecca bit her lip, eyeing the man approaching, for a moment before nodding.
"I think so, yes."
"Good," Lyn stood up straight. "Give me a moment to get into a better position then take your shot. Try to cover me as best you can after that."
The archer gave her a somewhat dubious look. "Are you sure? What if I miss?"
Lyn blinked and stared at her in confusion for a moment.
"You're the one who Link has been training, yes?"
"Then you won't," Lyn stated simply before taking off.
The archer couldn't help but gape at her back as Lyn quickly made her way over a couple more rooftops towards the soldiers. She couldn't decide if the noblewoman's confidence in her statement stemmed from her absolute faith in Link's judgement and training or Rebecca's own efforts from said training. She had to admit that it was probably the former and Rebecca couldn't decide how she felt about that. On one hand, Rebecca wanted some acknowledgement of her skills and the fruits of her labours but on the other hand, Link was…well, Link. Rebecca didn't think for an instant that she could be compared to him in anyway shape or form. Either way, Lyn was entrusting her with the opening attack that could very well make the difference between her own life and death and was doing so without reservations. It was a sobering fact and the young Pheraen couldn't for the life of her decide which reason she'd prefer. She certainly didn't feel ready for this kind of responsibility, especially when she couldn't even use the bow Link had given her. Sure she had been doing decently lately with her shortbow in some of their more recent fights but that had always been with Link nearby to cover for her in case she messed up. He had been a safety net that she had grown accustomed to having around, giving her the chance to try things and make mistakes without having to worry too much about the consequences.
Rebecca took a deep breath and closed her eyes. She could do this. This is what she had been training for. She exhaled and looked at the shortbow in her hands, recalling the advice that Link had once given her.
"It's not the bow…it's how I take my shot. It's all on me."
Nodding internally to herself she tightened the grip on her bow and flexed her free hand, feeling the phantom pain and soreness from her training. With slow, deliberate movements, Rebecca drew an arrow from her quiver, set it to her bow, and drew the string. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see Lyn bend her knees slightly and cross her arms over her body to grasp one of her blades in each hand. After that, she focused all of her attention and energy solely on her target. Strength developed for wielding a far heavier weapon made her grip firm and steady, her bow absolutely unwavering with its childlike weight. Even so, she knew from experience that this bow was capable of dropping a deer with a good shot. It could kill a person too.
Time seemed to slow for her as she focused, her sharp eyes fixed to her target and the chosen weak point. She would only get one shot at this. One shot to make or break this assault. She began to regulate her breathing, inhaling deeply and slowly through her nose and exhaling just as slowly and deliberately through her mouth; recalling every bit of instruction and training Link had given to her. Everything except her target faded away from her consciousness. She didn't feel the wind or sun, couldn't smell or taste the air, and couldn't hear the clopping of hooves or sounds of battle in the distance. She couldn't see anything but the man on the horse with a bow. Even then the only spot of colour she registered at all was the exact spot on his body she was aiming for.
There was only the shot.
Rebecca inhaled deeply once more and let it out. In the exact moment of pure stillness when she had no air left in her body, she fired.
Damian smiled wickedly to himself. He and his cell, dressed in the guise of Laus soldiers, had been stationed to patrol the ports of Badon after Lord Ephidel had departed with Marquess Darin. While the assignment had irked him initially, the news that the young nobles of Pherae and Ostia were in Badon and had gotten mixed up with the local freebooters had brightened his mood considerably.
"What a convenient distraction," he mused to himself as he listened to the muffled sounds of battle. "This couldn't have worked out better than if we planned it. Fortune smiles upon me this day."
He tightened the grip on his reigns as he guided his unit down one of the many roads that led towards the main thoroughfare of Badon. Hopefully, they could circle around Eliwood's group and catch them from behind. They didn't have the numbers to take on the whole group but that was not what assassins did. No, he would find an opening and then strike to take the young noble's head. If he were lucky then they might even catch Ostia's wayward whelp, too.
"Lord Eliwood of Pherae….Lord Hector of Ostia…" He laughed to himself when he pictured the looks on their faces right before he would kill them. "You do not yet know to fear the Black Fang. Start grieving for I will teach you that fear."
Damian's smirk widened into a grin of anticipation as his thoughts lingered on the pleasing scene when suddenly his entire world fell apart in seconds.
An arrow whizzed just over his head and struck the man, his bowman, behind him. The sound caused Damian to spin around in shock just in time to see his subordinate fall from the saddle dead; the arrow sticking out of his left eye.
"What the-", he shouted in alarm only to snap his head up as movement from above caught his eye. He watched in horror as a shadow descending towards them like a wraith turned out to be a woman falling from the roofs above. She dove down in between the two stunned men riding side by side behind him and whipped a pair of blades from their sheaths in a flash of steel just before she hit the ground. Two heads separated from their shoulders and fell to the cobblestone.
Damian only barely managed to recover from his shock in time to bring his own sword up to bear against the woman just as she sprung forward to attack him. He yanked his reigns back causing his horse to rear up with a violent shriek of protest and flail its forelegs at the woman who had to quickly abort her lunge and dart to the side. Damian attempted to bring his sword down on the girl as she passed but she easily deflected his strike. Nevertheless, he had thwarted her attempt to take his life quickly and now he had the advantage.
"How dare you!" Damian roared at the upstart who turned out to be just a girl, very attractive he would admit, but still just a girl. "I will…"
He was cut off when another arrow from overhead sailed through the air and he watched in rage as the last member of his group, his healer, fell from their saddle with a cry of pain.
"You…" Damian's icy glare was full of murderous rage. "You will pay for this girl. I will have your head!"
He slammed his heels into the sides of his mount and charged forward. The street was too narrow to provide much room to manoeuvre well but that also worked in his favour at the moment. The girl barely had room or time to dodge to the side and avoid his attack. Damian quickly wheeled his horse back around to try again and was a bit surprised to see she had sheathed both her blades and stood in a drawing stance waiting for him. He set himself to charge at her once more but movement from above yet again caught his attention. Damian raised his eyes to assess this new development and found a Pegasus knight diving towards him. He had no time to react as the knight threw a javelin at him with surprising velocity. The missile struck him in the chest and though his armour saved him from injury the force of the surprise blow knocked him to the ground. He hit the road with a grunt and tried to sit up but he was too late. The swordswoman had appeared in front of him in a blur of speed and slashed at him with a faintly glowing blade. Unlike the javelin, the sword cut clean through his armour and dealt him a mortal wound.
"Hah…" Damian gasped and coughed up far too much blood. He shakily raised his head to stare at his killer as she flicked the blood from her blade with a quick flourish and sheathed it. Perhaps it was the shock and blood loss that was affecting his mind but Damian's anger had vanished the moment the girl had struck him. Instead, he felt a morbid amusement at the situation and how quickly everything had fallen apart. The assassins had been assassinated.
"Gaahaa…" He coughed again but couldn't suppress the smirk that grew on his lips. "Crow in triumph…You've…." Another cough cut off his words. "Glory…to…the fang…."
Then he died.
Lyn frowned at the corpse in front of her for a long moment before turning away. She looked up and watched as Florina gently glided down into the street carrying Rebecca in the same manner she had done with Lyn earlier.
"We did it!" the Pegasus knight exclaimed happily.
"Indeed," Lyn nodded and turned to Rebecca. "That was an excellent shot. You've learned well."
"Th-thank you milady," Rebecca blushed. "Your swordsmanship was incredible! I had no idea you were that strong…"
"I wouldn't say I'm strong but I can hold my own. Well done to you as well, Florina," Lyn smiled at her friend.
"Thanks, Lyn! I'm glad I was able to help," The Pegasus knight grinned brightly at her friend but her expression fell when she saw the troubled look in Lyn's eyes. "What's wrong?"
Lyn frowned again for a moment, then sighed. "I don't think these were Laus soldiers after all. I think they were more members of the Black Fang."
"What makes you so sure?" Rebecca asked curiously.
"I heard them talking just before we struck and just now their leader said something that makes me believe they were members of the Black Fang."
The two other women gasped.
"The Black Fang?" Florina spoke nervously. "So what does that mean for us?"
"Not much honestly," Lyn replied with a sigh. "We already knew the Fang was involved in this whole affair. This just confirms what Leila had to say before. I guess the only real difference is now we know they're actively hunting us and they could be disguised as anyone."
"I suppose there's not much more to be done then," Rebecca stated.
"No there isn't," Lyn agreed. "Come we should continue on and do our part to win this ridiculous pirate challenge. Hopefully, the others have made progress."
"Ugh, this would be so much easier if Link was around. Where is he anyway?"
"No not like that," Link chastised his opponent with a heavy sigh. He stepped to the side, turning just enough so that the man's sword strike swung through the air harmlessly. "You're putting a bit too much into your swing. It's throwing you off balance and your footwork isn't compensating enough." He took another step back to avoid the follow-up. "You have so many openings because of it." Link ducked under another blow. "If you don't figure that out than somebody could really ruin your day. Like this."
He suddenly stepped forward catching the man's sword arm and with a quick twist of his wrist and spin of his body, Link disarmed the man and threw him over his shoulder in the same motion. The gladiator hit the ground with a solid whump and forced all the air from his lungs. His own blade now pointed at his throat signalled the end of this particular fight, the latest in a rather long string of them. So far all of them had ended similarly.
"See? Might not seem like much but a split second opening is all it takes."
"Ergh…" the man groaned through heaving breaths. "I'll keep it…in mind…"
Link simply grinned at him before helping him up to his feet. He patted the man on the back and returned his weapon before looking at the people gathered on the edge of the ring.
The Lady of Caelin shrugged and shook her head.
"Much as I'd like to agree with you, we can't rely on him for everything," Lyn replied. "He left to somehow obtain the funds the pirates originally asked for before they challenged us to a fight." She giggled to herself lightly. "I honestly wonder what he'll make of this new development. I find myself amused at the thought of his face when we tell him what happened."
"Oooooh, that would be funny!" Rebecca laughed. "That makes me really want to end this quickly before he comes back!"
"Agreed," Lyn smiled. "Let's go!"
The four pirates blocking the side street couldn't help but stare in confusion and some form of amusement at the two men standing several meters away, a green-haired Sacaean swordsman and a sandy-haired man in a cloak. They had been arguing rather loudly ever since the two had come across the pirates barring them passage. That had been several minutes ago. From the overall gist of things, the Sacaean wanted to fight them and keep going down the street but the man in the cloak wanted to turn around and find a different way through. Then the two had started fighting over a number of things from blaming the other for decisions leading up their predicament, their lack of courage or skill, overall stupidity, and even which one of them whose parents bore them out of wedlock. The pirates listening to them couldn't decide if they should just attack the two men and get it over with or continue watching with morbid fascination. Thus far the latter had been the prevailing thought and as the arguments continued to escalate one of them even sat down on a crate and popped a flask.
"Think we should just knock'em out and be done?" One of the younger pirates asked.
"Nah, mate. This is hilarious," the pirate drinking from his flask replied.
"It was funny fer tha first bit but this be getting irritatin," Another pirate growled. "Like they ain't be takin us serious."
"Yeah!" The last pirate agreed. "Let's just charge'em so we can all get back to drinking."
"Idiots," A new voice stated flatly and the pirates all spun around in surprise to see a very large red-headed man step out of a side alley and into their midst.
"What the-!" Before any of them could respond the man reached out and grabbed a pirate's head in each hand and brought the two skulls together in a sickening crunch. The two sailors dropped like stones and as soon as they hit the ground, the man stepped forward and grabbed the third pirate by the neck. Lifting him off the ground with one arm he casually tossed the man into a stack of barrels knocking him out just as quickly. Turning to the last pirate who stared at him from where they sat with their flask, he regarded him calmly. For his part, the pirate looked from the big man to his downed comrades, shrugged, and took another pull of his drink.
"Aight then, be off with ya," the pirate stated and waved the big man off. "Captain be waiting."
Dorcas stared at the pirate for a moment before nodding and turning to where Matthew and Guy had stopped their argument to stare at him in surprise. "You louts done?"
The two chastised men nodded sheepishly at Dorcas's stern expression and the big man grunted in reply before turning to continue walking down the road towards the docks.
"Yeesh…" Matthew huffed. "I thought I was supposed to be the stealthy one."
Hector grunted with effort as he smashed his club into the guard of a particularly large pirate. The brute staggered back a step and just as Hector was about to step in to knock the man out, another pirate stepped in and forced him to abort his attack. He found himself on the receiving end of the new pirate's strike which knocked the large Ostian back another step. Hector growled in frustration and struck again, doggedly determined to push through this line. The pirates were giving them a far bigger run for their money than he had anticipated. They were making progress, gaining ground an inch at a time but Hector was forced to admit that if it wasn't for their armour and the presence of both Serra and Priscilla behind them constantly healing whatever damage they took then there'd be no way they could push through this mob of corsairs. Things might have been different if they could kill them all but Hector wasn't foolish enough to deny the same could apply in reverse as well. As it were the pirates seemed to rather pointedly ignore opportunities to attack the two healers, perhaps in some weird showing of pirate honour, giving them plenty of space to cast to support Hector and the others. If both sides were out to kill the other then that little unspoken mercy would likely not exist.
Even with the space to heal though, the women's magic couldn't do much to ease fatigue and Hector's group was starting to feel the burn. There were few things as exhausting as line fighting and although this wasn't the never-ending slog of infantry warfare it was still pretty brutal. The pirates' numbers and their surprisingly good coordination made for a truly tough fight. Hector was supremely grateful to have the immutable wall that was Oswin beside him. The knight's large weaponry and heavy shield was truly an anchor that held all the ground they gained. Opposite Oswin was the other veteran knight Marcus whose overall fighting ability within the company was currently second only to Link. Together the three of them were acting as the wedge that was slowly driving through the pirate line with the help of the other more mobile knights acting as reinforcing support where needed. Hector roared and struck again earning another few feet before losing about half of that distance to the counter push once more.
He gritted his teeth in frustration but kept fighting. There was no doubt in his mind that they would win eventually; Hector just hoped he wouldn't collapse afterwards.
In another part of town, Eliwood was fairing little better. He had found himself accompanied by Erk, Wil, Lucious, Raven, and the new dark mage Canas as they tried circling through another part of the town. Unfortunately, they had run afoul of another group of pirates who had adapted very quickly to the threat of ranged combat their group possessed. Rather than try to stop them head-on, the pirates had faded into the streets and alleys and began harrying the group with hit and run tactics. They would dart in out of hiding and strike at their group trying to pick off one of them at a time before just as quickly disengaging before the others could respond. It was remarkably effective against the mages who needed at least a few moments to gather their arcane power. Eliwood, Wil, and Raven were doing their best to cover the group but their progress had slowed to an agonizingly stressful crawl. Luckily Wil was responding very well to the sudden attacks, his sharp eyes and the training he had put himself through to always have a shot ready was doing wonders to interrupt the pirate attacks. Even so, he was starting to run low on arrows which meant that Raven and Eliwood were becoming harder pressed to cover them all. The magic casters had started keeping spells ready to fire at an instant notice but that practice was exhaustively draining and they couldn't maintain it all at once, especially Canas who was far more a scholar than a fighter. His fighting experience was easily the least out of them all and his dark magic, while powerful, was also the slowest to cast which made him especially vulnerable.
Nevertheless, they were making steady, if slow, progress and Eliwood was determined to reach the end. A part of him really wanted to succeed without using the gold that Link had provided, especially since the unstoppable warrior wasn't around to help them. Even though Eliwood was eternally grateful for the Hylian's help and support thus far, the young noble felt he needed to prove that he was capable of reaching his father even without him. These pirates represented a huge obstacle to that endeavour and it was both the first challenge and big fight that Link had not been present to help solve. Thus far Link had not even met the pirates, having disappeared as soon as he had heard about the money Captain Fargus originally demanded and therefore had not had any influence on the events leading up to their current situation. Eliwood wanted to keep it that way even if it was just his pride that wanted their group to claim this victory by their own merits.
He just hoped they could do it before Link returned from wherever he had gone.
Some time later…
"HAHAHAH! Well it looks like you made it, whelps! Colour me impressed!"
"Hah…hah…That was…hard…." Hector panted.
"*huff**huff* You'll…give us passage….now…Won't you?" Eliwood gasped from beside his friend.
"I'm a man of the sea!" Fargus barked cheerfully. "I always keep my word!" He then turned his gaze to Lyndis who was standing several paces back with her arms crossed. She wasn't nearly as winded as her fellow lords and her expression was unreadable. "And what's this? Do me old eyes lie to me? Is this beauty with you? GWAAHAHA! My lucky day!"
Lyn's eyes narrowed at him dangerously and she shifted her posture to grab her sword. Without a word she suddenly darted forward and whipped her blade at the pirate captain stopping a whisper's breath from cutting his throat.
"Lyn!" Eliwood gasped in shock. "What are you doing?!"
She ignored him, however, instead continuing to glare coldly at Fargus who in turn merely stared back with a raised eyebrow.
"I hope you don't think that just because I'm a woman that means you can take me lightly."
Rather than take offence at the challenge Fargus simply laughed, seemingly uncaring of the sword at his neck.
"Oh you girl, I like! Ya got fire in you! Hahaha! Where were you when these two pups came asking my help? Heh if you had been with them I'd have readily accepted your request."
He gently reached up moved Lyn's sword away with his fingers before stepping back and sweeping into a genial bow.
"My deepest respects, milady. I welcome you aboard mah ship. The Davros and her crew are at your disposal." He then straightened and gave her a wide grin. "And don't you be afraid to put that sword of yours to any of mah lads who give ya a hard time. It'd do'em good to remember their manners from time to time. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go round up my boys. We'll be ready to leave at first light tomorrow."
With that, the hearty pirate left the three young nobles to go track down his crew.
"Hmph," Lyn turned and sheathed her sword before walking away.
"Looks like she still doesn't like this plan," Hector stated as they watched her leave.
"It's understandable. I have to commend her fortitude for still going along with it." Eliwood nodded.
"True. Still, looks like we have our ride to Valor now."
"Yes," Eliwood agreed. "We can finally go to the Dread Isle." He closed his eyes in relief for a moment before turning to gaze out at the sea. "Father please be well…"
Now they just needed to get everything ready and organized to leave in the morning. Now that the fight was over and they had won, Eliwood couldn't help the smile that spread across his face. They had won and Link hadn't been there to help. The sense of satisfaction that swelled from that knowledge was pure bliss. Now they just had to wait for the Hylian to return so they could give him the news.
Eliwood couldn't wait.
"I tell ya lad…If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes…." The arena organizer shook his head in disbelief as he reluctantly handed over the enormous sack of gold to the grinning Hylian.
While it wasn't quite the amount that he had been hoping to get, it was close enough that he was satisfied with the results. There just hadn't been enough time to draw in a crowd big enough to reach that kind of betting pool and none of the fighters present were big enough names to facilitate super high stakes. Oh, there had been plenty of people willing to take a crack at the Green Wanderer and even a fair number that agreed to the gang up challenge, but after Link had thrashed the first few challengers people had been a bit more hesitant to step up. It wasn't until Link had thrown out another proposal where everyone willing to fight him would just pay a flat bet into a pot and if they won they could take it all that things really started rolling. Link had fought back to back opponents and, true to his word, did so unarmed; submitting all of them without serious injury or death. Eventually, there were no more people to fight and there was nothing to be done besides accepting the payout as is.
"Thanks for the business," Link replied cheerfully. "Hope you didn't lose too much."
"Nah it's fine," the big man waved his hand. "That's how it goes sometimes in the arena. Sometimes ya win big and sometimes ya lose big. I'd say you giving them boys a whuppin might actually be better for business down the road. Ain't nothing more motivating than getting yer ass kicked in front of a crowd. They'll be throwing themselves at training for sure and stronger fighters mean better fights and better fights mean more money."
"Can't argue with that," Link agreed. "Just wanted to make sure there were no hard feelings. Didn't want you to feel cheated."
"Boy, you can't cheat in the arena," the bookie deadpanned. "You pay to fight someone. Two people go in and only one of you walks out unassisted. Simple as that. Only reason why I lost money today is cause I was stupid enough to bet against you. Normally the house is impartial but sometimes…." The man sighed heavily and shook his head. "Point is you came in with a challenge, we accepted and lost. Fair and square." He chuckled. "Honestly wouldn't mind having you back if ya give us some notice so we can advertise better. Bigger crowd, bigger money. Win-win for all."
Link laughed. "I'll keep it in mind if I'm ever going through these parts in the future and have more time to spare."
"Aye you do that," the man nodded and waved him off. "Good luck to ya."
Link thanked the man and left. He whistled a cheerful tune to himself as he made his way through the streets while trying to decide where he needed to go to meet the others. In hindsight, he should have realized that the others probably wouldn't have sat around idly waiting for him so he actually didn't know what they would have been doing at this time. Link thought about it for a moment and reasoned that the money he had given Eliwood as a deposit would probably have been enough to get things rolling with the Pirate Captain and since it took time to ready a ship the odds were good that they'd be down by the docks. Nodding to himself he turned in that direction. He grinned as his theory was strengthened when he saw Shakkar preening his feathers on a tall street lamp near the docks. It wasn't long before he spotted traces of his comrades in the hustle and bustle centred around one of the big ships at port. The Hylian quickly spotted the bright shock of red hair that belonged to Eliwood and made his way over to the young noble. Lyn and Hector saw him approach and came to join.
"Hey there everyone!" Link smiled at the three young nobles. "I see you got things started with the pirates."
"Ah Link, there you are!" Eliwood replied with his own smile. "We were starting to wonder where you had gotten off to."
"Yeah, sorry I took so long," Link chuckled. "Ran into a bit of a hiccup with my plan but it all worked out fairly well."
"Oh before you go any further I need to give this back to you," Eliwood interrupted and held out the large sack of coins that Link had given to him.
"What?" Link blinked in confusion. "Why?"
"We reached an agreement with Captain Fargus shortly after you left," Eliwood replied happily. "The money you lent us was no longer required so I'm giving it back to you."
"Uhhh…ok," Link turned to the other two nobles who were grinning at him. Lyn, in particular, had a rare smile full of childlike glee on her face. "What happened?"
"Well…," Lyn drawled slowly, her grin widening. "Have we got a story for you…"
A/N: Well there we go! Honestly didn't really know how to write this chapter which might have been part of the reason it took so long to get out. I had ideas but wasn't really sure how to make it all come together. I mean how do you write an intense pirate battle without killing everyone involved? I mean in the game it doesn't really matter but I can't see a pirate captain being ok with giving passage to a group that slaughtered his men…It's also fairly clear that I have favourite characters I prefer to write about so other people get kind of glossed over. Anyway glad it's over even if I don't think it's my best attempt at it. Hopefully you enjoyed it at least somewhat. We're getting closer to the Dragon's Gate where things are really gonna start rolling story wise. I have a bunch of things that I've been waiting years to implement coming up soon so I'm pretty excited for that. I'm gonna try to start writing more frequently, maybe a little bit every day or something like that so hopefully things start picking up. Although I've also been debating writing an original book as well so that might influence things too. Who knows. Either way we'll see how it goes. Love you all and wish you the best! Please R&R!