Jerold stepped out into the night air and enjoyed the breeze for a moment. He opened his eyes and looked to the hitching posts where the horses had been.
He looked twice to make sure. The horses had vanished, reigns and all. Stepping around the tavern to investigate, out of the corner of his eye he saw a blur of motion. Riding off with the reigns in their hands were two bandits dressed similarly as the ones from before.
Jerold raced around the posts and caught a further look downward. As the two bandits sauntered down the road leading out of Berylbrown, Snake and four others waited atop horseback. They laughed and jawed with each other, paying no mind behind them.
Without glancing back, Jerold took his grappling hook in his hand. The silver steel glinted in the light. He twirled the hook as he walked into position, the rough rope tugging on his flesh. Stepping broadly into view, had the bandits been looking, he lined up his shot and threw the hook.
The trailing bandit, lazily sauntering to his comrades held the reigns of two horses. Snake had given the order to gather the horses with a bit of insult and the bandit did little to hasten back to the group. The next instant a tremendous release of pressure in his neck startled him. He tried to cry out but only a gurgling sound came out.
Slashed clean with the barb of Jerold’s hook, blood spurted forth from the neck of the bandit. It soaked the horse’s mane and his body relaxed. The body toppled to the dirt with a thud. Jerold roared loudly.
From inside the Mandrake Inn, Rustiver and Aelen immediately met eyes.
“Jerold,” they said in unison. The others, startled by the noise, moved for the backroom and closed the door. Together the two raced out of the inn and around the corner, finding Jerold encircled in bandits.
Turning the corner first, Aelen bent his fingers and weaved his hands together. A ray of energy shot from his extended palm and connected with one of the bandits on horseback. It startled the man and caused him a moments hesitation, enough to receive the blade of Jerold’s halberd.
Snake noticed the elf’s spell and whipped his horse furiously. It made double time and had nearly closed upon Aelen when Rustiver spoke out.
“Prone,” the word hung in the air like a ringing bell. It was loud but Rustiver hadn’t shouted. Nonetheless, Snake was compelled violently from his horse and slammed into the ground. Using the pause to catch up, Rustiver drew his sword and ran to intercept.
Aelen looked at the now-riderless horse and made several quick steps away. Turning his gaze back to Snake he cast again. A large sphere of fire grew in his hands and by the time the elf finished the fireball it was nearly the size of him. Again he extended his arm and Snake, flat on the ground, took the entirety of the spell.
Jerold cleaved another bandit in half. Left alone with one remaining ruffian, Jerold readied a swing. Despite being atop a horse, the bandit, only a foot or two taller than the barbarian, felt extremely nervous. Jerold jabbed slightly, causing the anxious bandit to block it swiftly and much too hard. Exposed on his side, Jerold impaled the rider and ripped him from the saddle.
Wounded, yet entirely still alive, Snake rose to his feet. Arriving as the man got his feet, Rustiver casually stepped between his ally and enemy.
Snake looked at the elf and chuckled. He pulled a small bottle, a red-tinted potion, and guzzled it. Whipping his stringy hair back, he laughed again, harder, as he drew his two swords. Twirling them in a deadly kata he slid them over the gourd-container on his back and a black slime coated onto the blades. Striking them against stones the blades caught aflame and Snake spun them about himself.
Rustiver blocked the strikes as Snake went on the offensive, spinning the blazing swords about. Catching an opening, Rustiver spiked his sword down onto Snake’s foot, pinning him down. Snake screamed in pain but, in the next instant, was ripped away.
Having dispatched most of the bandits, Jerold had rushed at the pinned Snake. Held in place, Snake had received the full force of the barbarian’s charge. Torn from the blade, Snake’s foot was in tatters as his body dropped to the ground several feet away.
Rustiver looked back at Aelen. They nodded to each other and moved over to Jerold, standing above a duly thrashed Snake.