A Fable Fic
The group of mercenaries had been only a few miles ahead as Raphael followed the group hastily, but he knew how to keep his distance to where he couldn't be spotted, especially because of Anneleise. He would get her alone and force her to hear what he had to say, and she would have to believe him then. The horse beneath him strode at a moderate pace as it passed beneath the great archway of stone, walking toward the old Heroes Guild that was now completely buried by the earth.
Raphael looked around to see if he could notice any kind of tracks from their horses, hoping it would indicate which direction they had taken. Since there was no clue as of where they traveled, he decided to go through Millfields; that way it would be quicker to search for them. If he could beat Reaver and his beasts to the camp, then he could attempt to take them out.
Yards ahead through the clusters of trees and damp grass, Anneleise led the mercs down the broken path through Mourningwood, and there were nothing but smiles and cheers were shared among the small group as they rode on slowly. They had decided to stop for some small provisions for on their way back, and only a few had dismounted their horses to make the purchase. Anneleise was one of the main people to stay behind to keep an eye on her men, and there was chatter among them as the young woman smiled and listened. They agreed to hold a sort of ceremony in honor of their late captain and to give him a proper burial.
"Miss Anneleise, we must also speak of the mercenaries' fate; you were the closest to the captain and we have no leader.." Marcus stretched his limbs and sighed as he sat atop his horse, and it pained him to think of being unguarded and guided by no one.
The raven-haired woman turned and looked at him in surprise as the calm gusts of wind began to pick up slightly. "What are you saying...?"
"We'd be more than honored, in fact, to have you as our leader." He smiled as he looked ahead, then he turned as he noticed the villagers turning the lanterns up; the night sky was falling upon them.
"We'll speak of this later, Marcus. The men are back with the provisions." She smiled warmly and clicked her tongue to instruct the horse to move forward, and she smirked as they walked back and stuffed the saddlebags to the brim.
They got back on their way and had arrived past the old Mourningwood fort, where Anne's ears had picked up on loud ringing gun shots, and she was on high alert as she held up her hand to signal the men to stop. Everyone had been able to hear loud and clear the sound of screams, and Anneleise took off quicker than anyone had ever seen, and it took the men a moment to realize that she was gone. Marcus shouted and lead the rest of them onward to follow, and when they came to the fort's doors, the mercs were greeted with a large horde of Hollow Men. Anne yelled to her men to ready their weapons and hold their own as they rode around the large group, Anne noticed a small group of four or five soldiers stuck in the middle of the undead.
"Save them!" She demanded, but their screams soon filled the air, and only a single soldier had ducked and dodged his way toward the staircase leading up to the single mortar, and he had already lost a large amount of blood. It stained the stairs as he crawled away from the fighting, the mercenaries easily taking them down with their pistols, and Anneleise quickly hopped down and made her way toward the soldier.
He was frantic, in and out of consciousness as he dragged himself up to the top, but he had no idea that there was a handful of hollow men pursuing him. The larger one brought down his sword through the man's right shoulder, causing him to scream loudly and fall flat. Anneleise gasped as she fought her way through, her sword swung forcefully through their bones causing them to collapse into dust, and one by one they fell to the ground as their cursed spirits released into the air. She ran to the man's side and pulled the sword out of him with a quick fluid motion, and he let out another scream. She couldn't see his face, but he was splattered with blood from head to toe; he was the only survivor of the fort.
"Hey come on, we're gonna get you out of here." She said quietly, then she dragged him up to his knees and wrapped her arm around his torso, putting his body weight all on her as she walked slowly back to the doors. Marcus caught sight of them and shouted for the rest of them to cover her, which they did without hesitation. The soldier was barely conscious through any of what happened.
She pulled him past the skeletons who kept appearing from within the earth, they grabbed at their feet and tried to pull them down, but Anneleise kicked at them and made them stagger back. She growled in irritation as she continued to drag the sandy brown-haired soldier back to the horses, and the hollow men were finally diminishing.
"Keep going men! He's the last survivor, take him back with us!" She handed him off to Stilts and Booker -another of the mercenaries- and his body slumped in their arms as Anneleise ran off and assisted the last few of her men. They quickly got him onto Anneleise's horse and grabbed what they could to slow the bleeding, and they all grew anxious to leave before any more hollow men had shown up, and Anneleise bolted out and back to the horses. "Go, now now now!" She yelled and jumped onto her horse, cradling the unconscious soldier against her as she snapped the reigns and took off.
Before they took off down the trail, a large hollow man burst through the doors and let out a roar that shook in the night sky, and the Blood Pack put as much distance between them and the fort as they could. The trails through the rest of Mourningwood were sketchy due to the sound of howling in the distance, but they never seemed to be too close to them. Anneleise led the group out of the dangerously murky place and into Millfields, where they were mainly greeted with their fellow mercenaries.
Hours passed as they moved onward, and the early hours of dawn had finally approached them, and Anneleise couldn't help but smile happily as they neared the trail of the camp. The shouting from the men within the camp echoed of the mercenaries' return, and the men on their horses began to cheer and shout back with the same amount of happiness. The beaten group had finally arrived within the camp, and the young woman sighed as she noticed that the excitement had quickly vanished once the realization had hit them all; Saker was not among them. Their expressions turned grim and some of the men became saddened and upset, too angry to speak, but Anneleise jumped down from her horse and addressed them before things could escalate.
"Men of the Blood Pack!" She shouted with stern authority. "We have returned from our...confrontation with Reaver, and things took a turn for the worst. Our great captain Saker is dead." Murmuring from the crowd of men had erupted, a lot of cursing insults were also hurled at Reaver's very existence. "With some thought and careful consideration, with a proper vote, I have agreed to become your captain." Everyone gasped and began to mumble amongst themselves again, all eyes were on the young woman.
"Just think about it, gentlemen!" Marcus suddenly shouted. "She was a favorite of the captain, and our group has seen her in battle. Saker taught her well, and she is more than capable of leading us." Shouts of agreement followed from the large mass of people, and a roar of clapping broke out.
Because of the noise, no one heard the sound of trampling hoof beats coming from outside of the wall, but Anneleise had picked up on it within the last minute. "A horse approaches! Stay on your feet!" She shouted and withdrew her pistol from its holster. "Maintain your posts at the gate!" All of the men ran toward the front of the camp and cocked their guns and readied the homemade alcohol bombs they would throw, but to their surprise, it was only Dunnraven who approached.
Everyone eased up and sighed with relief, all except Anneleise and the group of men who had followed her into the battle. "What the hell do you want?" She shouted from the high post, quickly taking aim.
Raphael stopped his horse and looked up at her with slight fear in his eyes. "Anneleise, you have to understand, just please listen!" He called to her. "Just come down and talk to me!"
Marcus looked up at the young woman as he stood next to her horse with the unconscious soldier, and his expression revealed worry and anxiety, but Anneleise held her hand up before Dunnraven could get another word in. "Get the best shooters, take aim from up here and I'll give the signal if he should be dealt with." Her eyes remained fixated on the man below, then she jumped down and met him in front of the gate.
Raphael hesitantly jumped down and remained close to the large animal, stroking its mane calmly. "Were the guns really necessary?" He sighed. When the girl remained silent as she stared, he knew her answer. "Look, I needed to tell you before you get too ahead of yourself. Saker hired me to spy on Reaver, and the only way to gain his trust was to 'double cross' Saker, but he knew of our plans. Only Saker and I knew about it. But Reaver must have caught on in the end..."
Anneleise automatically thought he was lying to her, conveniently only those two knew of the plan, but she decided to let him finish talking before she shot him. "Why didn't anyone else know of this plan, because this makes you look like a traitor."
"I know, I know. This whole plan backfired because of that damn James fellow at Blackwood Manor, but either way, the damage is done. Please, let me resume my position within the Blood Pack."
"Only if you can prove your innocence, otherwise you'll be nothing more than a filthy untrustworthy traitor. I'll give you a week to stay amongst us, but you will reside near the outer camp trails." She turned away and walked back into the camp, where several of her men greeted her and spoke amongst themselves. The men sitting above on the walls seemed rather disappointed that they didn't get to shoot him, so they jumped down and gathered around her. "He is to remain, and has to prove his innocence or he will be shot to where he stands. He must be monitored while in the camp, and I'll do the first shift unless I must leave."
"So...does this mean you're our captain?" Stilts popped his head up and looked over into her ice blue eyes.
"Only if you'll have me." Anneleise smiled.
All of the men gave a cheer and a nod of approval, shaking her hand. "Welcome to the crew, cap'n." Marcus grinned.
Anneleise nodded with a smile. "Alright, we have a wonderful late captain to honor tonight, and a soldier to bandage up. Let's get started." She led the rest of the men and walked off and began to prepare for the funeral that the mercenaries would never forget.