“Well, that had been a cluster…” Magus Ferox mused to herself as she and her fledgeling warband, which she’d dubbed the Berserkers, rode homeward from the warlock’s tower. The walls of Daoulaive coming into sight in the darkening horizon, she’d had plenty of time to grouse about the events of the day. Her day had started out with a moose trying to eat the trapspringer, and after that things only got worse. They almost got shot to bits by an arcane turret, had to run the gauntlet through dozens of traps because the trapspringer couldn’t see them to deactivate them, and then the same trapspringer almost got eaten by a magic-poisoned warg when he decided to jump over Ferox’s shield spell and face the beast with his daggers…
She narrowed her eyes on the trapspringer in question. Micah Arclight, the red-headed rogue had wandered into her company shirtless and swaggering, and had almost gotten himself killed by disobeying her orders. Ferox couldn’t say she disapproved of the shirtlessness, but disobeying her had earned Micah a hard shake and a sock to the jaw, once she’d finally caught him. He’d still giggled like an idiot the whole time as she jostled him by his collar and yelled curses at him. Clearly corporal punishment wasn’t going to work with that one. Micah didn’t seem to take her seriously– or worse yet, he liked getting slapped around by women. That last thought made Ferox grimace.
Micah looked up from where he’d been perched on Gwilyon’s flying carpet, catching Ferox scowling at him. He grinned, and lifted his hand to twiddle his fingers at her in a cheeky greeting.
Ferox snorted a derisive laugh at him through her nose, and shook her head at him before looking away. A reckless idiot was one thing, but he also just had to be a cute idiot. He had striking red hair and mismatched eyes, honey-toned skin and his frame danced the line between brawny strength and sleek dexterity. She had pinpointed Micah as her problem child, for many reasons. He was going to be troublesome.
Forcing her gaze away from Micah, she instead scowled at problem child number two. Seiph, the shaman– he’d naysayed her every move and seemed to just be full of opinions. He thought it was too soon for their newly-formed warband to be venturing out, but Teegin had assured her that they’d be fine. They had been fine. Nobody died.
There had only been… a mishap… where Ferox had -thought- she’d been shot, and she jumped into Seiph’s arms for comfort. Remembering that particular bit of idiocy made her cheeks pinken all over again, and she groaned aloud as she slapped a gloved hand over her face, palm covering her eyes.
“Feeling unwell, Magus?” Seiph had asked, looking up from where he’d been policing Gwilyon’s questionable driving. The wizard was reading a book and piloting the flying carpet at the same time, causing the shaman some concern. Seiph still had plenty of concern left over for the pained noises his magus was making.
“Ugh, no. Just– ready to get out of this chainmail.” She lied. Ferox rotated a shoulder just to play it up, and looked away from Seiph. He was blonde and exotic looking, with facial piercings and scars, crimson warpaint and bright yellow eyes. She thought, Why is it always the cute ones?
“We’re almost home.” Seiph inclined his head toward the city walls. Ferox was forced to agree with him, not for the first time today. He was dreadfully sensible, and she just hated that about him. She was probably going to have to hogtie him and drag him along forcibly for her wackier schemes. That idea made her crack a crooked smile.
Ferox just happened to cast her gaze further to her left– and then came to an abrupt stop, tugging on the reins of her mount, Ripper. “Anathoth?”
She couldn’t see him. The towering paladin, riding atop his massive war-moose…. had gone missing. They’d managed to lose a seven foot tall warrior riding on the back of a megafauna, somehow.
Gwilyon brought his flying carpet to a halt at the sound of Ferox’s panicked shout, brought the magical conveyence to bear in time to see the magus already bolting back in the direction they’d come. She could follow her warg’s footprints well enough, backtracking to where she hoped she’d find moose tracks.
They lost a few nerve-wracking hours in the process, but the Berserkers found those tracks, and reclaimed their paladin. He’d fallen asleep in the saddle, his fullplate sort of locking him in an upright snoozing position while his moose, Binky, had just trotted off in whatever direction he wanted.
It was well past midnight by the time they’d reclaimed the ground they lost. Just to be sure, Micah hung onto Binky’s reins, teasing the moose into following by occasionally shaking his bright-red hair at the animal. The moose seemed to love the color, probably mistaking it for edible snow-growing lichens. The trapspringer would complain loudly when Binky got too close, though. He didn’t want his hair getting eaten again.
Soon, they were safely behind the walls of Daoulaive. Ferox brought Ripper to a halt and hopped off his back, to address the warband. “Well lads, we made it. Congratulations on a successful first adventure. You’re welcome to stay in the warrior’s hall of my House, or make your way back to your own homes. Till I call on you again.”
“Not a moment too soon.” Gwilyon muttered, shooing Micah and Seiph off of the back of his flying carpet. “Hard pass on the afterparty, I have a library and sweet, sweet solitude calling to me.”
“Don’t think I’ve forgotten about our remedial training, Wizard.” Ferox warned Gwilyon, shaking a finger at him. “Combat casting, and how to better choose your spells for tactical situations. Brace yourself, I’m a sink-or-swim style of teacher. I did promise it’d be exciting.” She gave him a threatening grin.
The wizard gave her big, green eyes and arched his delicate white brow over the rims of his glasses. Then he shook out his long flaxen hair, and told her defiantly, “…Not if you can’t find me, it won’t.” After that bit of bravado, Gwilyon took off on his flying carpet at speed. It shot directly over houses and walls, heading straight for House Mar’Korath.
“HEY! YOU LITTLE SHIT!” Ferox raised both fists into the air and shook them at Gwilyon’s retreating form. The sound of Micah starting up with his infuriating giggle caused her to spin on her heel. She glared, and he cleared his throat and looked away. Micah still didn’t quite manage to stop grinning, though.
“So, are we going to party?” Micah asked, changing the subject and sounding hopeful about it.
“There will be ale and meat, and a warm fire. Benches to sleep on, and breaking fast in the morning. Whether you have the energy to drink too much and act a fool is on you, but I doubt my brother and myself do.” Ferox answered, nodding her head at the paladin who still dozed in his saddle. “Will you be staying, shaman?”
Seiph turned his gaze in the general direction of House Do’Kerellen. It was dour looking even at this distance, black spires climbing toward the sky. He frowned, and saw no need to rush home. “Why not? Thank you for your hospitality, Magus.”
His answer had surprised her. Ferox had figured Seiph would take off like a shot, much like Gwilyon had done. Still she welcomed him, and along with Micah, the stablehand and herself, Seiph helped with getting Anathoth down from his saddle. The huge man slept very stubbornly, and didn’t even seem to wake up fully once he was on his feet. Once in the warrior’s hall, servants did him the favor of removing his heavy breastplate and propping him up in a hay-filled corner to nap.
The floor of the warrior’s hall was strewn with hay, to keep the stones from staining with spilled wine. The hall had seen its fair share of partying, but this late at night only a few dozing Du’Thuranis guardsmen occupied the hall.
The three remaining Berserkers sat by the fire, and were brought ale and meat. They ate and drank quietly, exhausted and generally fed up with each other. Ferox glared at Seiph, half daring him to say something critical about their performance today, and Seiph stared back at her judgingly. Micah stared between the two of them like a spectator, waiting for explosions to ensue.
After a while of that, it seemed the shaman was wisely holding his tongue. Ferox finally relented and stood while she announced, “Well, I think I’ll be retiring to my cottage. I’m exhausted, but not too exhausted to make the trek to my own bed.”
“Can I go, too?” Micah asked, daring to wink at Ferox and give her a troublesome smile. It shocked both of them, Seiph’s eyebrows shooting up and Ferox’s mouth falling open. It was more reflex than anything when Ferox elbow-dropped the trapspringer on the crown of his head, roughly bashing the bony protrusion of her arm into his skull. “Ow, damn! I was kidding, ehehehe!”
Shaking her head, she walked away from the two, the sound of Micah’s giggling chasing her. Just as Ferox passed through the door to the hall, she overheard Seiph say to Micah admonishingly, “I think you’ve got more balls than brains, friend.” The red-headed troublemaker just giggled louder, and Ferox found herself smiling, too.