As the crowd dispersed and the Mayor departed, I clambered down from my vantage point and headed to the edge of town nearest the canyon. Hardy’s men had put Durston on the cart and were heading towards the bridge. Outside of town the darkness was now almost complete as there was no moon and only starlight. I knew that the men would have difficulty seeing anything beyond what their oil lamps illuminated and so it was easy for me to follow them unobserved simply by walking in utter silence. I considered using my spear to kill one man at a time but if they fired their guns wildly into the dark I couldn’t be sure I wouldn’t be hit accidentally.
Fifteen minutes out of town it became clear that I had a new problem if I wanted to follow the cart further. The bridge over the canyon was lit with oil lamps and had two guards posted at its start armed with rifles. I moved quicker but ran at an angle to the road so that I reached the canyon outside of the ring of light cast by the lamps. I watched as the guards spoke to the men with the cart. They talked for a shot while and then the guards motioned the cart onto the bridge. The bridge itself was elf built and crossed the canyon in a graceful arc. I peered out across the canyon in an attempt to see if there were guards at the other end but if there were I couldn’t see them.
I decided to wait a few minutes so that the cart would be well onto the bridge. The I rushed the guards from the side. As they were looking out onto the road they did not see me running up from the side and they couldn’t hear my soft tread over the night noises. The first guard I hit square in the face with my sigil shield and he dropped like a branch. The second had enough warning to try and get his rifle pointed at me but within a moment I was within his guard and I hit him twice with the blunt end of my spear – once to the stomach and then a sharp blow to his head as he bent double.
Both men lay unconscious before me. I pulled their rifles off them and then, with more caution undid their gun belts so that I had their smaller guns also. The second man began groaning as if he was regaining consciousness, so I levelled the point of my spear one handed at his neck, ready to slice his throat if I needed to.
“Don’t kill him, please!”
Damn – I should have been more alert and paid more attention to the sounds around me. Some man had caught me unawares. I turned my head slowly to see Pastor Birchall standing a few metres away from me.
“The Mayor’s tame priest, is it?” I said.
The pastor looked at me pleadingly and said in a high voice “Please, I beg you not to kill these men. Truly they are not wicked souls but rather men who have been led astray by Mayor Hardy.”
“You and him seemed like good friends back in town. He said that you had warned him my friend was on his way.” I said and then with a twist of my wrist I presented the sigil shield towards the stirring guard and whispered a sigil of sleep upon him.
I could now turn safely to face the pastor properly with my spear and shield ready.
“Please do not judge me by what you have seen. I aim only to serve god. I had hoped to make Mayor Hardy see sense and end his mistreatment of the dwarfs. His actions are not godly towards them and it is my duty to minister to all gods creatures whatever their size. The dwarf priest summoned something – I do not know what as they would not speak of it to me – and I hoped that fear would make the Mayor see his way back to righteousness.” The Pastor’s pleading seemed self -serving but I was struck by how Birchall’s concern had been first for the guards rather than personal safety.
I looked back to the bridge. “I’ll trust you and let these men live if you help me.” The Pastor nodded. “Then first you need to tie the hands of the men and their feet and help me move them. Then you will show me where they have taken my friend. The Pastor agreed and soon we were both walking across the bridge.
Birchall explained that the mine on the other side had several armed guards but that he knew of a secret entrance to the mine. There was a gatehouse and guards at the other end of the bridge but it looked over the gate to the mine rather than directly at the bridge and so, unless we were very unfortunate, it should be possible to sneak into the mine. The guards, it seemed were more concerned about dwarfs sneaking out then others sneaking in. Still I decided to be prudent and let Birchall walk ahead of me, while I held my spear and shield at the ready.
We moved swiftly across the bridge without any event and reached the other side within a few minutes. I could see the guard house and as Birchall had said it was positioned to watch visitors the main gate of the mine. Birchall pointed in a direction that took us close to the cliff edge. I followed and we reach a path that led along and slightly down the cliff face.
Eventually we reached a broad boulder that appeared to be obstructing the cliff path. Birchall pressed his hands onto the rock and it shifted to reveal a small entrance. The pastor ducked into this hole and with little choice open to me, I ducked in after him. I was in the dwarf mines.
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