Sir James saw all of this from the far spur, his ears ringing with the noise of forty orcs chanting their chieftain on to victory. The Baron and his line were closer now and looking more and more miniscule compared to the orc army. Their line would be enveloped for sure, just as soon as the orcs charged. Sir James cast his eyes skyward and prayed.
A brilliant white light, brighter than the sun flashed from the crown of Wain’s head and Shagrat faltered for a second, momentarily blinded. A second was all Wain needed to sidestep the blow. The axehead buried itself deep in the ground. Wain stepped in, hacking at his foe. Shagrat’s left arm flew clear of the blood-spattering slaughter. The orc horde ceased its chanting and began to move nervously. Leaderless and frightened, their invasion began to seem like less and less of a good idea.
Wain turned and charged at their line with a mighty roar. Sir James whooped and led his men in a charge on their right flank, and the Baron, getting into the spirit of the thing, screamed as he and his men plunged headlong directly into the orcish battle line.
It was more than orcish nerves could stand. They forgot they outnumbered their foe, they forgot their solid position on the high slope, they forgot everything except the bloodcurdling screaming death plunging in at them from all sides. They broke and ran. A few of them even managed to escape the final slaughter and watched from a distance as Sir James formally knighted John White on the blood soaked field and proclaimed him the Baron of Dunn and a Scion of the Church.
“At the end there, you seemed to get a little carried away.” Betternot paused to sip his ale, “Been reading the old scribes again, have you?”
“I am quite sure I do not know what you mean.” James pressed the wrinkles out of his new white gloves.
“A little epic sounding for a minor skirmish.”
“It seemed epic enough at the time.”
“All right, all right, relax.” Betternot chuckled. “I’ll give your report to the Bishop. He might not be terribly pleased to hear you making alliances and knighting bandits and such.”
“If he does not care for my methods, he need not send me as the Church’s agent. While knighting John White may not have been his favorite solution available, the fact remains that it is eminently more practical than letting myself get killed trying to fight the whole bandit camp. Or the orc army after it.”
“And what of the runere?”
Sir James looked carefully at the grain pattern on the table.
“John White is a cunning man, a strong man, and an ambitious man. I would not recommend allowing him into the politics of the Church. I would also recommend utilizing him as a strong ally on our southern front and not meddling to deeply in his affairs. He assures me that he is personally overseeing the redemption of Jack Black’s soul himself.”
“Ah.” Betternot waggled his eyebrows, “And so you begin to learn the practicalities of our twisted reality. I was wondering if would happen. The Bishop will not be pleased at all. He was quite taken with your pure, though admittedly naive, approach to problem solving.”
Sir James looked up, “The Bishop will or will not be pleased. So be it. Just as I am not pleased to be sent on his suicide missions, but yet I continue to go. I’ll see you when he has another one for me.”
“It won’t be long.” Betternot shrugged. “The re-opening of the iron trade will allow us to initiate a new offensive but not for some weeks. Our men on the front are hard pressed not to lose any more ground than they already have. While you were gone, we received reports of raiders as deep in our lands as Forlorn.”
“We need at least three days to rest, and more would be better. Wain will likely mutiny otherwise.”
“Speaking of the barbarian, where is he?”
“He ducked away as soon as we got here. Something about the Sloshing Skull having better atmosphere.”
“The Sloshing Skull? That dump?”
“Yes. He was also muttering about talking some redhead into wearing mail. A puzzle, I’m sure.”
“My word, look at the time. I’ll be late for Vespers.” Sir James stood and headed for the door.
“Vespers isn’t for another two hours!” protested Betternot.
“Barely enough time to wash your stink off of me.” Shouted back Sir James.
Note from author: Thank you all for reading the ongoing saga of Sir James and Wain the Barbarian. Unfortunately this is the end of the fourth adventure and ongoing projects have prevented me from starting on The Holy Window, which is our heroes next adventure. I hope to have the chance to start on it mid to late summer, after I’ve moved my wife (and myself as well) to Boston. Take care all, and if you are having trouble finding previous installments, check out the free fiction page. I’ll have those links updated soonest!