Rode Into the town the three villains bold
One big, one ugly and one mean & old
In front of them stood a young Shepard lad
A town’s lone defence, no militia to be had
A trickle of piss raced down the thigh of Derat as he stood under the fierce sun. He eyes flitted to the piazza’s sun dial the shadow lazily gliding over to noon. Despite the sweat and shots he’d necked before taking up position he was cold and pale.
Out of the haze he saw them. Even at this distance you could make them out – hulking creature on the straining horse, the gnarled wizened figure commanding from the middle from a hardy cob and the lopsided one making jerky convulsions in the saddle.
He tightened his hand on the sling – he had to get this right – if only he’d stop shaking.
The Great Ape was a Reichsman of yore
An axe he swung taking heads by the score
A fierce fighter he sought out by a Veteran
Famous for miles as Mad-Axe Yaran
Yaran genteelly patted the horse’s neck. “Poor horsey” he whispered.
“Stop ya fuckin’ about we’re going to a fight not a High Priest’s reception.” Spat the grizzled man on his left.
Yaran sighed. It wasn’t right. He’d have preferred to walk. It was much to hot for this frankly inadequate nag to bear his weight. But Ferth had been quite specific and Ferth got what he wanted. They had to ride in – it was part of the image of being a Veteran Chapter.
Even if there was only three of them.
“Yah alright boss. If vat’s vot you vant.”
Yaran wouldn’t have minded but it was a show within a show. Ferth would outfight Yaran any day of the weak but Yaran looked like he could fight and his fiercesome double head axe he strained to yield added to this meanness.
Opponents ran before him – without knowing about the dizziness he got if stood up too quick or strained himself, the feinting or how he sometimes stopped breathing in the night and awoke struggling for air.
The heavy bags under his eyes just made him look meaner.
Sigh, if only mother had allowed him to be apprenticed to the skald.
The wizened old rogue was a Valleyman true
So cold was his heart that his blood ran blue
Raping and raiding had been his birth
Famous for miles as Cold hearted Ferth
He hated the fucking sun. He hated the stink of fucking horses and he hated this pair of fucking losers he had been lumbered with.
He hated his fucking self, that’s what he fucking hated.
It hadn’t always been this way.
In the war against the bloody desert rodents the VCs had seemed patriotic and a damn sight more glamorous than sweating in a loin cloth with a sling or skimping save enough to go into the hoplites and spend every battle in a glorified scrum with your head nearly up to some overweight merchant’s fucking arse sweating your bodyweight out in heavy fucking armour.
Nah – the VC’s had been the business raiding up and down the valleys striking fast – taking the fucking Chariot Monkeys for fools time and time again. He was a glamorous patriot with his choice of swift steeds, mixing with foreign mercenaries and oh the women. The women and their patriotic fever – how he remembered it. He licked his lips, tasting the sweat but remembering sweater tastes.
It was all fucking wrong now. It’s all a business. And one thing Ferth had never had was a head for business – loot pissed up against walls or thrown to whores, too many enemies and too few friends.
This is the way, this dopey little one horse town – one horse town was a joke – someone had fucked the horse and it had ran off years ago. This dopey little town was the closest he could get to a retirement if he they could just muscle in and sit back.
The other two were a pair of useless cunts – but they were scary looking cunts and that should be enough to takeover.
After all who was going to stop him – this fucking streak of piss with a third hand sling?
The Third piece of Scum was strange
A Tawny aristo riding the range
Playing with magic his brain ‘n’ body burnt
Now he stalked the valley known as Tearnt
Sun. Young lad scared, Old man dead inside. He doesn’t know it yet. The big one is weak. The horse is tired. Pretty birds in tree do not care. Townspeople hide. Scared. Much fear. It likes fear. It can taste it. Will I let it out? Will it play today? What are the odds?
Young lad steps forward. Eyeballs old man. Eyeballs back. Talky talk in clichés. Bored now.
Veterans they were big and were brave
All three of them against a wee knave
One wee boy with a slack worn sling
Against them could he do anything?
Derat’s dried struggling words had come out defiant to the dusty old warrior. He’d barely heard the answers but now the big man was off his struggling horse and advancing on him with a massive double headed axe. The mess of scar tissue was grinning showing a selection of surviving teeth while the eldster drew his sword.
Almost by accident Derat’s shot caught the big man across his brow.
“Yoah vat hurt!” squealed out Yaran.
“For fucks sake if you want something doing…do it yourself” Ferth spurred his horse forward with his sabre head high and forward pointing to the ground.
Derat couldn’t figure out what the gurning idiot was doing other than jerking occasionally in his saddle. The shot had put off the big man who just looked relieved the oldster was taking charge of the fight. With a surprising clarity of thought Derat ran.
He ran right at the old man who smiled.
At the last movement Derat threw himself to the right and Ferth and his horse raced past him harmlessly leaving Derat in the thick dust cloud the cob had kicked up.
He’d bested the giant with a shot to the head
He dodged the old shit and shot him some lead
The idiot mage called on demons and devils
The Good Lord protected Derat from evils
The two shot he managed to loose at Ferth had bounced with no effect off the rump of his horse. Turned and charging Ferth laid low over the neck of his horse so as to not present a target.
“Get stuck in ya big oaf”
Spurned on, Yaran gingerly advanced towards the young lad.
“You’re a big lad what’s your name?”
The words danced like the boy whose eyes were tracking all the assailants.
“What’s Ferth paying ya?” The lad ducked under a wild swing by Ferth. He might be an average shot and physically weak but games had taught him to be light footed.
“As Sheriff here you’d a have a regular wage – just sit this one out” at that Derat had to dart back as Ferth galloped between the two and brought his cob to a rearing halt.
“You’ll have to be quick” shouted Derat as he pulled a curved knife from his belt and in fluid motion flicked it across Ferth’s saddle strap. He snagged and partially tore rather than cut the strap.
“Half a job kid” Ferth brought the horse down and matched it with a kick which sent Derat sprawling.
Ferth swiftly dismounted with a wince and advanced on the boy with a smile and his sabre outstretched.
“What happened then – the big Chapters too tough for you? Think you’ll get rid of me and sit this out as the local protection?”
“Something like that kid – you’ve got guts – now to see them!”
Derat rolled away from the flickering sabre and got to his feet.
“I don’t think so old man – you see this ain’t a Shepard kid trying to be a hero.”
“Like I give a fuck.”
“Nah – this was a probation test.”
Casually three archers appeared in the doorways around the square. Crossbow strings taunt. They wore adventurer’s leathers with red headscarfs and Crimson Dagger patches.
“And what’s more old man” Derat dodged a wild swing. “I think I’ve passed.”
Sauntering from behind an archer was a broad-backed greybearded cove with better gear – he made a gesture with one finger.
Three bolts impaled Ferth who hit the ground with a resounding “Fuck!”
From the Crimson Dagger’s Master of Arms came the shout “get bloodied kid and we’re out of here and you can get patched.”
Derat smiled and flicked his knife over the neck of the wheezing Ferth. Taking some of the blood spurting out on his hands he marked his face welcomed the bosses pat on his shoulder.
The Greybeard looked at Yaran and Tearnt as his Chaptermen clustered around like smiling jackals.
“We got a problem big man?”
Tearnt merely smiled.
Derat smiled back . “I meant my job offer – you guys aren’t Crimsons material – but I reckon this town could do with some official protection for when the Chapters not in town.. And a Sheriff needs a deputy.”
“Heh kid you’re not patched yet and you’re making policy?”
“It’s good business – you up for this big man?”
“Yah, yah, yah”
“I’ll square it, come on kid we’ve got to party and I think I might have to watch that business mind of yours..”
He done smote them all by the flickering light
Against 3 mighty warriors he done won the fight
From such early doors he started the Crimsons
To protect the weak an help ‘em win some
“Can you stop playing that fucking song.”
“Sure sugar.” She put down the lute and snuggled into the broadchested scarred warrior lying on the silks.
“It was the short version I missed out nearly all the fighting verses.” She nibbled his chest.
Derat put down his pipe and stroked his white flecked beard while absent mindedly fondling her breast.
“I know but I never liked the tune – wish I’d never commissioned the bloody thing – but heh –“
“It was good business.” They chimed together.
She straddled him and blew out the candle.