Chapter 5 - Who I Am Grim Notoriety
The shambling man stepped forward, swinging his arm in an awkward arc that brought the sword over his head. Conn simply stepped aside and swept his blade before him, drawing a savage line of red from the man’s body and flicking it into the air. The man roared and moved forward, but Conn planted a kick into the man’s hip, driving him back and making him stumble. There was a fierce smile spread across Conn’s face and his hair was in wild disarray. It was a far cry from the innkeeper he had been just this morning. He slid forward and spun, his sword descending to cut the man from shoulder to hip across the chest. But the shambling man bore little resemblance to either of the men in the fenced area, for he ignored the slash and swung his blade forward. Conn caught it on his edge and in a deft move flicked the blade onto the other side of his body and drove forward, slashing across the man’s ribs.
The shambling man roared again and spun about, his sword swinging with him. But suddenly, it all went wrong. The wind returned, the grasses swayed and Conn stepped back as if struck. Confusion passed over his face and he looked down at the sword in his hands, as if surprised to see it there. But the shambling man had not forgotten, nor had he paused.
“Conn! No, look out!!” Rob yelled, dashing forward.
The shambling man’s hand, carrying the sword in a white-knuckled grip, smashed into the side of the innkeepers head. The innkeeper fell to the side, onto his knees and propping himself up with one hand.
A dark form darted past Rob. “Move, Conn!” shouted the Constable, wielding a wicked mace with a spiked head.
He kicked the shambling man in the back of the leg and smashed the mace into the side of the man’s head. A spray of red, arterial blood was accompanied with a groan and a further spray of black ichor.
Rob darted past the scene and grabbed Conn, dragging him to his feet. “Ah, Rob, I might need to lie down for a bit…” he managed, slumping in Rob’s arms.
“Rob, put Conn inside and then help me bring this thing in.” the Constable ordered, standing over the motionless shambling man with his mace still dripping.
Rob carried Conn into the taproom, one of the innkeeper’s arms on his shoulder. “I’m going to put you down by the hearth, alright?” Rob asked, glancing at Conn’s face.
His eyes were far away, so dark they were almost black. “Please.” Conn replied, his voice so devoid of any emotional inflection it made Rob wince.
“The Constable will want to talk with me, put a table nearby and bring me some tea, I don’t care what. Thank you.” Conn did not even turn to look at Rob, instead looking into the cold hearth.
Rob quickly dragged a table over, careless of scuffing the polished floors and then set out to help the Constable.
Ten minutes later the two of them dragged the man in, dumping him on the table. The Constable struggled with his hand for a while, trying to break the death grip on his sword. Giving up with trying to pry his fingers apart, he smashed them against the table and broke them, taking the sword out easily then.
The Constable then turned on Conn, still staring into the hearth. “What possessed you to attack this…thing?” gesturing inarticulately over the body.
Rob spoke up, coming up from his chair. “He didn’t attack it! It came over the fence and attacked him, he was defending himself!” Rob didn’t mention the fact that he had defended himself well enough until something happened.
How could he explain what happened? The wind stopped him? Broke his concentration?
The Constable looked over the thing again. “What…What is it?” he asked, more to the room in general than Conn or Rob in particular.
Conn spoke up, without looking up. “It was a man, but poisoned. The signs are all there.” He waved his hand toward the body. “The eyes, the fever and the behaviour.”
Rob looked at Conn as if seeing him for the first time. “Have you seen this before?”
Conn shook his head, briefly. “No. No, I’ve read about it.” Still not offering any further explanation, the Constable tried to prompt him.