This is a profoundly stupid way to conduct an assassination, Grod thought to himself as he gouged the Swamp Elf's eye out his skull.
Using archers? Indoors? Especially when a dagger would work so much better for an elimination. It wasn't just tradition, Grod considered in the back of his mind while he absentmindedly, made a smooth and elegant offhand draw on his gladius. Practical is tactical and a dagger is much more tactically sound for this kind of op.
The first Elf screamed high as he dropped his bow and staggered backwards clutching his hands to his ruined eye. Grod ignored him for the moment as he gripped the cross guard of his short sword's pommel for added, if uncomfortable leverage. He jerked his hips as he stepped into his southpaw sword slice. His blow chopped so deeply into the second archer's neck that his head remained attached only by a flap of skin. That one hit the ground like a puppet whose strings had just been cut.
If either of them had bothered with or even been aware of uniform regulations this might have been difficult. The Guard are supposed to wear gorgets around the neck to prevent being murdered like this.
One was dead and the other was now an archer with no depth perception...and he was screaming a lot. No discipline at all there, Grod thought to himself in disgust. Regardless didn't have time to kill him but he knew it when he half blinded him. Hopefully the loud one didn't have friends nearby or at least Grod hadn't seen any on his way to Bryan's chambers. There probably wasn't any help coming for them. This little op smelled of the hip shoot mission, there had clearly been no real planning. Which meant they had no back up.
That left four combatants. One potential ally being pinned down by three of them while they were trying to chuck him out a window and one liability who looked like he would be breathing his royal last shortly. There was one Swamp Elf masquerading as a Guard colonel, that looked ready to speed that project along.
Oh...him, Grod thought to himself as he recognized “the Colonel.” The quotation marks around “the Colonel” were now mandatory so far as Grod was concerned. Grod's instinct was to ignore that one and rescue the man he rather presumptuously called his friend. Although as a (nominal) subject of the crown his duty was clear.
Alsoooo, there was the matter of being caught on the wrong side of a palace coup, which he most certainly would be, if his side's only available monarch was taken suddenly dead.
There was also the fact Grod knew Ruyined personally and while not at the top of Grod's list, he was most definitely on it.
Grod had already worked out these details when he was busy pointing out to the archers that he was not actually in the service industry. He had now targeted the Swamp Elf “Colonel” and was approaching him at a dead run. Bryan, he hoped, could take care of himself for the few necessary seconds Grod would have to invest in butchering El Ruyined.
El Ruyined looked back and forth between Branadoc and Grod in fatal indecision. The Duke's sword was poised for the death stroke. The orc couldn't reach him time to save the young king. But the Swamp Elf wouldn't be able to save himself either. He'd be physically over committed in murdering Branadoc. And Grod he knew had a well earned reputation as a fighter.
From a mission oriented standpoint there was nothing that resembled a choice. His only reason for existence at that moment was to kill Branadoc. It wasn't just a duty for his new
king. It wasn't just a
favor for his super hot half-sister. It was a legup for his entire people. King Perseverance
would seriously owe them for this. And Perseverance always paid her
debts, she was legendary for it. If
he got killed doing the job that would be icing on the cake. King
Persey was born a daughter of the regiments, ultimately it would mean
a lot to her.
El Ruyined Prince of the Methaphelian People, made the only decision he could, the one that he had been born and bred for.
“GET THE ORC, YOU STUPID ASSHOLES!” Ruyined screamed frantically at his remaining men while he trippingly backpedaled away from Kevo-Grod. Clumsily drawing his own falchion in the process.
Swamp Elf fatalism was almost instantly apparent in Ruyined's serfs. Things had been going well for them for quite awhile. That meant something horrible had to be on it's way. Life in the Grand Delta Swamp does not for some reason breed optimism. It breeds nearly everything else, Malaria. Dengu-dengu flu, Yellow fever, Red fever, Black fever, monstrously disgusting Corpse Flies, rabid Swamp Dingos, the revoltingly inbred Swamp Elves themselves and the only happy thing in those swamps in first place, the joyfully ravenous Gators that continuously feasted on all of them.
By the time Banner Sergeant Kevo-Grod had pulled his tomahawk out belt. They had begun singing their death songs.
El Ruyined had gotten far enough away from Branadoc that the insane young king might live long enough to bleed out. He had taken up a cross guard stance with this swords.
Swamp Elves favored that school but Grod found it a ridiculous affectation. The real elves...the High Elves had been said to favor it those techniques. So the Swamp Elves tried to ape them.
What Grod found almost as ridiculous was the idea of throwing your tomahawk in the middle of a fight. It seemed to him like a brilliant method of disarming yourself.
Grod leaned hard over and disarmed himself. His tomahawk whirled viciously across the room on a diagonal slant and buried itself in tendon cluster of the now clinically depressed would be assassin pinning down Bryan's right arm. That Swamp Elf collapsed before he could even scream because he had no choice, his leg couldn't work physically work anymore.
Grod's own hipshoot mission was doing better than theirs. That particular Swamp Elf lost his grip on Duke Bryan's right arm. Bryan did him the limited favor of wrenching Grod's tomahawk out of his knee.
Grod's immediate ally was now armed.
Now the orc Banner Sergeant could focus his full attention on the Swamp Elf Colonel.
Grod snapped his sword over to his strong hand and pulled his dagger out of his boot. He closed in hard on El Ruyined.
The Swamp Elf Prince for his part tried to get his subordinates back on mission, “FORGET THAT ONE! ATTACK THE ORC NOW OR HAVE YOU ALL FLOGGED TO DEATH!!!”
But it was obvious that his reinforcements had problems of their own. One was down with a destroyed knee. And the other two hadn't had weapons to hand when they were trying to persuade Duke Bryan to take a walk off the balcony.
Bryan had already gotten in a nasty chop to the shoulder of the one that had been holding his other arm. Again the gorget thing. He was frantically wrestling with Bryan while his partner was backpedaling to get enough space to draw his long sword.
Grod advanced on El Ruyined. His dagger held in an “ice pick” in the orc's armored gauntlet in front of him ready to parry the first of Ruyined's strokes. His short sword was pointed to the rear in a full trailing guard. It wasn't that effective of a guard position but it played hell with Ruyined's mind. It said, I can not only kill you whenever I like, I can afford to use dumb flashy shit to win cool points doing it.
Ruyined had the sense to keep jogging backwards. It wasn't cowardice...it wasn't just cowardice. The orcs always fought at close range. It was why they fought with short swords. A long sword has a minimum engagement range of about one and a half arm lengths. When an orc with a short sword got past that minimum range and into bad breath territory, half of a long swordsman’s techniques were rendered useless because he simply couldn't swing his sword effectively and thrusting just wasn't going to happen at all. Short sword on the other hand can do all kinds of nasty damage at that range.
If Ruyined could keep the range long enough for...well long enough. His men on the balcony could finish off Duke Bryan. And then do their real job of protecting his life. After that he could have them tortured to death at his leisure for not obeying him instantly. It didn't look like it would take them long.
The one that had his arm around Bryan's neck had finally given up trying to choke him out due to the fact that Bryan being of sound body and paranoid mind had not neglected to wear his gorget. That Swamp Elf finally jumped backwards to get enough space to draw his own long sword.
Duke Bryan stopped trying to chop at the second Swamp Elf and skipped sideways like an electrified crab to plant a solid thumping side kick on the chest of the third.
The third Swamp Elf on the balcony reared backwards to take as much energy out of the Duke's kick that he could. And then was suddenly and forcefully reminded that he was The Third Swamp Elf on the Balcony. The beautiful and ornately carved marble guard rail had been installed hundreds of years ago when the average typical height was about half a foot shorter, (it was why they had picked that balcony in the first place) and it hit him mid thigh.
The Third Swamp Elf on the Balcony toppled gracelessly over the edge of the guard rail. His sword which he had finally managed to draw went flying uselessly out of his hand as he frantically grasped for the edge of the rail.
And caught it! He was holding it only by his fingers tips but he had it. His immediate elation was dimmed upon seeing the form of Duke Bryan with tomahawk in hand focusing in on his fingers.
El Ruyined fumed as heard The Third Swamp Elf on the Balcony become the Swamp Elf No Longer on the Balcony in Any Significant Way Unless You Count Dismembered Fingertips. Thanks to his incompetent subordinates, this fight was getting close to one on one and those are always terrible odds for any Swamp Elf.
El Ruyined now had to fight an armed and able combatant for the first time in his life and he didn't really care for that at all. But with nothing to lose and certainty that Grod wouldn't accept his surrender he attacked.
El Ruyined had heard a story that the greatest swordsman in the world doens't fear the second greatest, he fears the worst because that one is the least predicatble. With that nugget in mind he spammed Grod. He was a completely unpredictable whirl wind of sword strokes. Striking high, slashing low. Making frantic thrusts with the dukes straight edged long sword and nearly useless ones with his own curved one. In that moment El Ruyined felt utterly alive and in the moment. He knew the orc couldn't predicate when his swords would come from because he mostly didn't know himself. He saw Kevo-Grod take a step backwards. And then another.
The joy of combat which to his surprise turned out to be completely different from the joy of murder, filled his heart. He actually began to dream of victory. That he was going to be the first of his people who wasn't lying about it to actually win this kind of a one on one fight. Hell he had witnesses and everything even though one of them only had one eye and wasn't paying enough attention to him.
Slash. Slash. Whirl. Charge. Thrust.
He was going to have to forgo executing them now but he could live with that. Well maybe later after they got the word got out.
Slash. Whirl. Charge. Thrust. Thrust.
Grod had heard that story about the two swordsmen and knew it was bullshit. Everyone had a rhythm to how they fight. Even the world's worst swordsman.
On El Ruyined's next pass. Grod dropped down to one knee while whipping his sword into around into a flat overhead guard. Then hooked his dagger behind the Swamp Elf's knee as stepped forward to thrust.
Slash. Thrust. Hack, “FUCK!”
The hamstrung Ruyined crashed face first into the polished marble flooring, screaming and cursing Grod for having cheated in way that he simply could not.
Grod's sword crushed it's way through his back ribs and into the Swamp Elf Prince's heart.
His prince's death cry was enough to fatally distract the already wounded second Swamp Elf. Duke Bryan closed in on him and wrenched his sword arm into a straight lock. Using his greater weight and muscle mass he pulled the his would be assassin down to the ground and torqued the shoulder joint in the wrong direction with a muffled crunch. Before he could even scream, Bryan landed the tomahawk into the back of his neck.
Grod and Bryan both looked over at the door when the screaming, half blinded archer rather too abruptly stopped doing that. He had gone from clutching his eye to clutching his throat. He collapsed against the doorway and bonelessly slid down it's frame. Revealing behind him a proufoundly unattractive young man and his too hot for him girlfriend.
Grod looked at him and said, “I though you said you were a magician. You had to use a knife for that.”
Saluriman shrugged which always made him shudder a bit in this body because of the hoop expanders in “his” ears. “A dagger is better for this kind of work.”
Grod shrugged himself, “okay where's the...”
Before Grod could ask, his question was answered. A trim young girl with strawberry blonde hair, flew into the room.
“Princess Honor, it's a little...messy in here,” Grod tried to warn her off. There was no reason a girl like that needed to something like this. Time enough for that later in life but that kid was just starting out.
She ignored Banner Sergeant Grod completely as was her royal prerogative and ran with her arms out stretched for Duke Bryan.
Honor stopped cold, her eyes going wide as she took in the half-brother shaped form gasping on the floor. “Oh god Bran, what did you do now?”
Branadoc roused himself. Gathering every ounce of strength he had left in his dying body and managed to moan, “it's...all...his...fault.”
Grod looked at Duke Bryan, “does he mean you or me?”