The Defender of Myris Dar: Chapter Five
Chapter 5: The Myrian Guard
Dell's steed slid to a halt on the steep trail.
Andin leaped from the back of the horse, grabbing the saddle leather to keep from stumbling to his knees. They were near the lookout where the trailed opened to the view of his home and the lower shoulders of the mountain as it sloped down to the ocean. The sun was higher and the heat had risen with it. Heaving breaths from the horses echoed through the forest after they had all clattered to a stop.
Dell dropped down beside him and motioned toward the edge of the ridge where they would get a better view of the house and the land below. Crouching low, his sword gripped in his hand, Dell followed his cousin to the edge and peered down.
There were pirates gathered around the front door of his home and more clustered near the back door. They were pressing to get into the dwelling amid shoving and shouts of encouragement to the men already inside.
Andin's heart leaped into his throat. Were Rowan and his mother inside? Were they already captured, with the brutes doing Erys knew what to the women? He surged forward, his sword hilt slick with sweat.
He had to get to them.
Dell grabbed his arm and hauled him back. "Easy, lad. We will help Rowan and your mother. First I need to know how many we are dealing with and where they are. We are only a handful and I don't want to run in blindly swinging swords."
Andin ground his teeth. "Dell, I cannot leave them at the mercy of pirates!"
Dell's grip tightened and Andin winced. "Use your head, Andin. Remember your training."
Sighing in frustration, Andin nodded and settled down to wait as the Myrian Guards did their reconnaissance. A whistle carried to them from downslope near the trail to the house – a familiar sparrow call. Andin glanced toward the sound and was surprised to see one of the guards had already made it that far. He was crouched low, hiding behind the shrubs, his Myrian leather armor blending in with the reddish soil and olive green foliage. He was holding up a hand and signaling with gestures.
Andin squinted trying to make out what he was saying. He knew the Myrian Guard's hand language, but he was rusty.
"They are all at the house," said Dell. "Only one man posted as a lookout on the trail up from the beach." Dell raised his arm and signaled back, and Andin watched as the scout disappeared from sight, heading to dispatch the pirate on lookout. "What pirates lack in intelligence, they make up for in numbers and enthusiasm. This will not be an easy fight," said his cousin.
Dell glanced around at the grim faces of the Guard, men and women with elite battle training and experience. Andin knew these warriors, had trained with some of them before he began to pursue his sculpting in earnest. There were none better, and his sister, Rowan, was one of the best of them. They would not let her be taken by pirates.
Dell looked at him seriously. "Stay low, Andin. Remember your blocks and interceptions. Let them come to you and keep your eye on your flanks."
Andin swallowed hard and nodded.
His cousin gave terse orders and they rose to work their way down the steep trail toward the house and the enemy. Dell concentrated on keeping his steps silent as he followed his cousin.
The pirates below were so intent on what was going on inside the house that they didn't notice the Myrians coming down the slope beside the house. When they reached the bottom, Dell signaled for the party to split and half moved toward the back of the house.
Gripping his sword tightly, Andin ran up the path to the front door and the men clustered there.
One burly man, with earrings and a shirt of interlocking discs, turned his head and saw them advancing.
"Oi!" He shouted, slapping the backs of the men around him. "We gots company."
Amid a struggle to get weapons clear, cursing and shouting, the pirates turned to meet the Myrians. Several leaped from the steps to attack and before Andin could stop his charge, a wicked curve-bladed ax was descending toward his head.
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