(Patreon) Strength Chapter 60

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The enemy mage still stood in one corner of the room, and out of the entrance near the other far corner- and the most wounded members of the other party- came a new man. He wielded a pair of short swords. Kantrilla moved to stop him from reaching the injured… but that worried me, since she was definitely the weakest in single combat. I started to move that way, as hopefully I would be able to help there.

Socks was still engaged in combat with the cleric, biting and clawing at him as he hit her with his mace. I could see some dark spots in Socks’ fur, but there was also a lot in her teeth- which indicated she was doing fairly well on her own.

Alhorn charged toward the mage, and at the same time an arrow flew from behind me toward him. At the same time, the smell of burnt flesh and Kasner’s cackling laughter indicated that those problems had been resolved.

I saw the newest man stab toward Kantrilla, aiming for her eyes with the tip of one of his short swords. I unconsciously used Martial Trance, which made everything slow down. She was swinging her mace, and though it looked like it would be a good solid hit in his midsection… I didn’t see any indications of her protecting her head yet. Once the man finished his step forward, he would thrust and… catch his toe in an invisible crack in the light-eating bricks of the floor. I didn’t predict the last part, but that was what happened. It sent him carrening forward, his short sword stabbing into Kantrilla’s armored chest instead of her eye. In return, her mace ended up hitting him in the face, with almost his full weight behind it. Even with a helmet, I saw the bloody spray from his nose and general face breaking.

The man’s short sword with his momentum and weight behind it still managed to pierce into Kantrilla’s armor. She stepped back, clutching at it… but the man slumped to the ground. I reached her just about the same time Socks howled in success and Alhorn called out, “Got ‘im!”

“Are you alright?” I asked Kantrilla.

She was clearly straining her face, but didn’t answer me. Instead, she turned to the closest injured adventurer. At this distance, I could see it was the cleric that had joined them instead of us. With the sword still in her side, she used her healing magic on the person lying there… but even I could tell from the pool of blood that it wouldn’t help. I bent down and gently turned them over, just in case… but only dead eyes looked up at me.

Kantrilla trembled, but said nothing. Instead, she went to each of the remaining three, stopping their bleeding with some magic before turning to me. “Are you okay, Llyr?”

“I’m fine.” I grabbed her arm as she started to walk off toward the others, “Take care of yourself next, okay?”

She looked down at the short sword in her gut. It wasn’t deep- perhaps an inch of it had gone through the armor- but it was wedged in tightly. “Okay… um…”

“Just get your magic ready, and I’ll pull it out.”

Kantrilla nodded. She concentrated, then nodded. She grimaced in pain as I tugged the sword out- but just pulling on it gently wouldn’t have done any good. There was a small spurt of blood, but after the gentle golden glow of Kantrilla’s healing magic the bleeding stopped. Then she went off to heal the others. Well, even if she collapsed from exhaustion, as long as she wasn’t bleeding I could carry her back.

Everyone sort of gathered in the middle of the room, though Halette was still watching all of the entrances.

“T-thank you!” Sera bowed her head toward us.

The half orc whose name I couldn’t remember- or pronounce- nodded. “Yes, thanks.” She half-grunted that, but her lack of enthusiasm could easily be explained by the fact that she was still laid out flat on her back.

Their dwarven sorcerer nodded as well, “Many thanks.” Of the three, he was in the best condition. I remembered seeing him throw around a few spells during the battle- mostly at the enemy mage- but he hadn’t had much mana left.

“So…” Alhorn asked, “Any idea why these men attacked you?”

Sera shook her head, “No. We had seen them around a few times, but we assumed they were just other adventurers. Today, they were waiting in this room. They pretended to be resting, but then that one-” she pointed to the first man with the daggers, “Suddenly stabbed Jessica, our cleric. At the same time, they attacked the rest of us. We weren’t ready, but even if we were I don’t know that we would have done much better. Luckily you showed up just in time.”

Kantrilla nodded and smiled, “That’s right!” Then she saddened as she looked over at the body of the cleric- Jessica.

“The silence barrier is gone.” Halette stated as she came back into the room- though I hadn’t seen her slip off. “Probably cast by that wizard.” She nodded toward his unconscious form. “Other than that, nobody else is around.”

“Great… so…” Kasner looked around at the bodies, “How do we deal with this mess? We could leave the bodies here but a couple of them aren’t dead and… the guild will probably want to see them. This isn’t a small incident…”

There were eight of us- nine counting Socks- and seven bodies. Unfortunately, Kasner and Kantrilla weren’t strong enough to carry even one, and Sera’s party was too injured to do much. Even if we could carry one each, we’d have our arms full which was a liability if goblins attacked. We didn’t have any good way to carry them either- no stretchers or anything of the sort. That actually made me consider bringing a stretcher in the future, in case someone was hurt. It was yet more bulk that I would have to worry about though.

After a bit of thinking we came up with a method. It wasn’t elegant, but it was something. Sera and her half-orc companion would carry Jessica together. That was what they could manage with their wounds. We had a few ropes between the two parties that we could use. They were brought in case someone fell down a trap going to a lower floor. They could also be used to bundle equipment… or bodies.

Alhorn and I took a bundle of three of the attackers each, and would just drag them along. It wasn’t very dignified for them but we weren’t particularly concerned about that. Each of us had one of those that was just unconscious tied to the top of the triangular pile. We considered having Socks pull two instead, but while she was strong enough it would be a problem for her to move in combat if we harnessed them to her. She could drag a rope but… it was a bit much for her teeth to pull two people. Besides, we needed her for scouting.

With our plan settled, we set off, slowly stumbling down the hallways of the dungeon. At least we were only on the second floor… it wasn’t a short distance, but it wasn’t the longest or most dangerous part of the dungeon either.

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