Serial Fantasy Story – The bandits of Dunn – Part VII

The bowman half turned and spoke to someone out of sight. The words did not carry to them, but they did not have to wait long before the sentry turned back, removing the arrow from his bow.

“My lord, Baron White, bids all servants of the Church welcome in his home! Approach and be welcome!”

“Well. Isn’t that nice.” Wain muttered. “Get us inside and out of sight before murdering us.”

“He’s offered us his hospitality, Wain. Come along.” Sir James urged Doubting Thomas forward.

“You might note that the sentry is still holding the arrow ready.”

“You worry to much, Wain.”

“Only when I’m following stupid paladins around.”

They rode the rest of the way into the fort in silence, but despite Wain’s dark predictions, the sentry remained friendly and they were not attacked. Just inside the gate a tall man waited, leaning on a great axe. Black hair tinged with grey spilled from under his spiked helm, and a large silver cross was displayed prominently over his mail. Two men at arms stood ready on either side of him.

“Sir Flickerflame, I am the John White. Baron and protector of Dunn. Welcome to my home. I hope your travels have been pleasant.”

“Well met, Baron.” Sir James reined in his pony, but remained mounted. “Strange you should mention our travels. We camped last night by an old well. Shortly after sunset we were attacked by a dread spirit. Though the Church advised me that the County was rife with banditry, I confess I was not expecting an assault by the undead.”

The men at arms glanced nervously at each other.

White frowned. “Come. You and your friend both. My men will care for your ponies. Any news of the outside world? We are fairly isolated here.”

“All is as it was. The war continues.” Sir James slid from his saddle. Wain followed suit, glowering around him like a wolf among hounds.

“The Church retains the upper hand?”

“So it would seem. We have not lost our foothold here on the continent. But the war does not seem to be troubling you here.”

“Appearances can be deceiving.” White led them into the central structure, more of a poorly thatched hovel than a house. “What business does the Church have in Dunn?”

Sir James was silent for a moment. Wain’s hand drifted close to the hilt of his sword and his eyes narrowed. White looked curiously at the paladin as he closed the door.

“Not in Dunn, as much as beyond.” Sir James managed. “The shipments of iron from the south are slowing to a trickle. I’ve been sent to discover why. The merchants claim that bandits have made the journey more difficult and expensive. But you probably know of any banditry around here better than anyone else.”

White nodded, his eyes suddenly hooded. “Aye. There are many dangers in Dunn. Not the least being bandits.”

“Such as vicious ghosts?” Wain growled. “For a protector of the county you don’t seem to do such a great job.”

“Yes, the undead trouble the region.” White growled, “But I’ve managed to bind it to the well and set a warning there. It should not be able to reach the road, even at night.”

“It came across the road.” Sir James described the attack on them.


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