Survival

Courting by Half Moon Pt 1

Fletcher glared at Numex, if the clockwork was bothered by it he did not show it. He shook his head

“ok, give it to me again while we walk” Fletcher crawled annoyed from his bedroll, pulled on his boots, and began to dress and armor, experience had taught him long ago never to leave the tent without being fully prepared. Fletcher had done some work with medical after the combat and set the clockworks to watch locations and repairs, after that, he’d decided it was best if at least one of them got a little rest, that decision had been about twenty minutes ago, he’d barley nodded off when he ahd felt his tent shake and the Clockwork summon him.

“Sir, as stated, a group of under fifty human individuals approaching from the south east, they seem to know of our location as they are heading directly for us, they are about a half mile out when I last checked, no further details have been ascertained” Fletcher nodded to the Clockwork as he stood and tightened his belt, he then began strapping on his quivers.

“My companions, where are they?”

“Sir, Mr. Yolo is working with the other dwarves somewhere within the camp, Mrs. Ling and Mr. Entarez are working with Mr. Hansel in the medical tents, they have seen about a sixth of the wounded dwarves so far. Mrs. Selwyn is on a patrol to the south west to check some abandoned farms, Ms. Anamachara was a on a northern patrol circuit, the Dragon has yet to make his presence known to me and Ms. Alaue is in the repair area” Fletcher nodded slowly, impressed by the clockworks ability to rattle all that off.

“Alright, I guess this one is on me then, get me at least forty clockworks and lets head down the hill to speak with these guests” Numex nodded and immediately began to carry out his orders. Fletcher took a deep breath of the cold air and worked his way towards the edge of the camp. Within minutes he was among a sizable clockwork force, well arrayed. Minutes later the first sings of the new band, came into view.

The half-moon provided decent light, his keen eyes could make out about thirty five souls within the group, they marched not in the clean ordered lines of soldiers, but they also lacked the downtrodden clumping of refugees, they were spread in an odd V formation. At about two hundred meters out, the group stopped. A person in the centre took hold of something from another member of his party and turned. In the moonlight even lacking details it was easy to see the white flag wave back and forth.

“Sir…” Numex began “they are waving a flag of parley or surrender” Fletcher looked over at the clockwork and momentarily debated chiding him for the obvious statement; his words would be lost on him he decided.

“Signal him back; me, you and three others will go” Fletcher said, he twitched and spider bro jumped to his hand, carefully he walked into the moonlight. One hundred meters brought him to a stop, thirty paces separated him from the party of four that stood opposite, and what an odd group it was.

The man in the lead was dressed well, it appeared that he left his coat with his companions, likely wanting to be free of it should things turn poor. He stood about five foot nine, but had the presence of a much larger man. His tan shirt was made of fine silk, and his brown leather vest over it was of exceptional quality but also build for purpose. The moon was behind him and so details of the face were hard to see especially under his wide brimmed hat but the fact that he was clean shaven was clear. He carried a long rifle over his shoulder and a short machete at his belt, an odd choice of weapons to be sure; Fletcher had always found the black powder to be unreliable at best. He stood casually likely sizing up Fletcher and his Clockworks, taking advantage of the time Fletcher allowed his gaze to drift over the others. Beside the leader the man to his right was the next to catch his eye, every fiber of Fletchers being told him that this man was dangerous and to be watched. This man was the leaders senior by at least twenty years, Fletcher guessed him to be in his early fifties, his white hair and salt and pepper beard was well groomed, and his clothes although similar in style to the leaders did not have the same quality about them. He two carried a rifle over his shoulder and a pistol similar to Emberkyth tucked under his vest. The man to the leaders left could have been a dwarf if not for his massive size. He stood well over six feet, his hair was wild, and unkempt from many days on the road and he had a beard of black that would easily put many dwarves to shame, but the heavy set man wore a fine suit of black, something that only the elite of Don-Ton or the Royals of Honasitca would be seen wearing, he carried a walking stick but clutched it high like a cudgel, and his eyes had the unquestioning gaze of annoyance and craze. Finally on the far right stood a short gnomish fellow, wear as the others seemed to be standing forward to engage in conversation, this one held back slightly, he wore practical clothing for the climate and was too well covered to see weapons or style.

“Hail” the leader called out in common, his speech was good, but he held the slight accent of a northerner

“Hail, and who goes there” Fletcher called back, perhaps it was too formal, but it got the job done.

“Human’s who bleed red, and are looking for the safety of numbers, is this a camp of men, or of beasts?” Fletcher contemplated a moment before answer the question

“of men, who are you and how many?”

“I am Lord John Roxton of Don-Ton, to my right here is my Master of Hunt and companion Alan Quartermaine, to my left stands Professor George Edward Challanger of the Don-Tonion archeological institute, and that there is our gnomish friend Ned. We are thirty seven in total; we are well provision but have not had company or trade in some time. Who are you? And will you treat and trade with us?”

To Be Continued by Misha

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Argyle

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