Monday, July 6, 2015

Scout's Law - Chapter 43

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Still outnumbered three to one, David and the crew of the Vanguard await Thor’s charging men.


At the lookout’s call, I rushed to the bow of the Tercel, joining Captain Jorson and his first officer. “Can you see anything of this battle, Captain?”

“Yes, Your Highness, and what I can see is strange to say the least!” Jorson replied. “There are three groups out there, not the two I expected.”

“May I borrow a spyglass and see for myself?” I asked.

The first officer offered his glass to me. “I’d be honored, Princess Callan.”

“Thank you, Lieutenant…” I ducked my head in embarrassment. “I beg your pardon, but I don’t know your name.”

The man saluted. “James Tucker at your service, Your Highness.”

“Thank you, Lieutenant Tucker,” I said, raising the spyglass to my eye.

It took me a moment to find the wreck of the Vanguard and bring it into focus, but my heart leapt at the sight before me. David stood atop the broken hull with Captain Wright next to him. Seventy or eighty of the airship’s crew crouched just behind the keel. A hundred yards away, at least two hundred and fifty men charged across the desert toward them. Just as many trogs jogged slowly away from the impending battle. And in between the two groups stood a lone man, his head swiveling back and forth between the charging men and the retreating trogs.

“Well, I see my husband managed to put himself right in the middle of another battle,” I said, lowering the glass. “He’d better enjoy it because we have one thing to do before we can help him.”

“We do, Your Highness?” Jorson asked.

“Most definitely, Captain. Do you see the man standing between the charging men and the retreating trogs? I want him. Take him alive if you can. Kill him if you can’t.”

“You think he’s the ringleader?” the captain asked.

“Most definitely. He’s attempting to lead this battle from the rear, which isn’t the way we do things here on Aashla. And just look at the way he’s dressed—not even the most ridiculous court jester would wear such clothing in public.” Jorson and Tucker exchanged mystified glances at my comment. I patted both men on the arm. “Surely you’re willing to accept a woman’s word when it comes to fashion, gentlemen?”

“Ah, yes, most definitely, Your Highness. I freely admit my wife must exercise the fashionable eye for both of us. I am hopelessly blind in such matters.” Jorson then pointed toward the retreating trogs. “But I doubt Thor’s ignorance of Aashlan fashion repulsed the trogs. Begging Her Highness’s pardon for my language, but I’ll be damned if I can figure out why they’re leaving.”

“I heard worse language from my guards when I still slept in the palace nursery, Captain. No pardon is required. As for the trogs, I expect David challenged Thor to a duel and Thor refused,” I said. “I just wonder if David thought of it himself. Once he’s decided fighting is the only way out of a situation, he tends toward tunnel vision.”

Jorson nodded, “That would explain things. With your permission, Your Highness, Lieutenant Tucker and I will give the orders to snatch Thor and then go to your husband’s aid.”

“Of course, Captain. Though if you could spare a few seconds to have a speaking trumpet brought to me, I’d appreciate it.”

“Certainly. I’m sure the men would appreciate a word from you before heading into battle.”

“Which I’ll be delighted to give, Captain, though I think they’ll appreciate allies even more.” The two officers looked at me blankly, so I pointed at the trogs. “They aren’t willing to follow Thor any longer, but perhaps they’ll follow Lady Death in defense of the Hand of Death.”

Comprehension dawned on the two men when they heard the trogs’ nickname for David and me. Tucker grinned broadly, “Just retribution, if ever I heard it, Your Highness!”

I turned back toward the fight, raising Tucker’s glass to my eye. As orders rang out behind me, the mass of charging men swarmed up the side of the Vanguard’s broken hull. I watched David for the subtle change in speed and grace which would indicate he was Boosting. When I didn’t see the changes, relief that he wasn’t risking the damage Boost does to a body warred with consternation that he faced the mass of enemies without Boost’s benefits.

“Hang on darling,” I whispered. “Help is near!”

Then Thor’s men reached David’s position and he vanished into the swirling mass of hand-to-hand fighting!

Will help reach David in time? Find out in Chapter 44, coming Wednesday!