Intermezzo

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Christina Ulfsdotir was less than satisfied with the response from the fortification. She ordered her men to fire upon the walls to make the idiots understand the meaning of superior firepower, but small arms fire made little impact on stone. A missile brought a more satisfying destruction to the walls. She watched how the explosion caught men on the battlements and threw them to their deaths.

"Take the damn doors out and get us in!"

Another missile sent the wooden gates expanding inwards in a cloud of hot gases. She saw splinters burning through the breach, but there was yet another pair of gates to be forced before they could enter. Two more missiles brought destruction to the gates and she smiled as the lights of the town center inside became visible.

"Let's go in. Can't have the fuckers waiting for us, can we?" She started walking while her men disassembled the missile launchers and put them back onto one of their hovercraft.

When she was almost at the gates a few soldiers with crossbows tried to stop her, but a barrage of high explosive ammunition threw their exploding bodies backwards and she walked in unmolested. She forced the translator they had hired in Verd to her side. "Tell them that I want to know where Arthur Wallman is!"

He obliged but no one seemed to answer. She ordered the closest house to be destroyed and repeated her request.

Six houses were burning by the time a woman dared to come forward. She was blabbering incomprehensibly in fear and Christina turned to her translator. He translated.

"Tell her we want to know how long it was since they were here."

"She says it was almost a season ago."

"And she's sure it was Arthur?"

"She says an outworlder was part of a caravan passing through here and that she has never seen any other outworlder."

Christina digested the information. It made sense. So once again her intuition had been correct. Further east then.

"Ask her where they are heading!"

"She says they have to pass through Vimarin, Erkateren and that if you don't hear about them in the Roadhouse they have probably turned north to Ri Khi."

Christina walked to face the woman.

"Tell her I don't have any more questions."

The woman was giddy with relief and started running away.

"Translator! Tell her that I hate cowardliness in a woman."

The woman turned when addressed. Christina shot her in her face.

"We're leaving this rat hole. What the hell is its name?"

"Roadbreak, Madam," the translator answered.

She watched the burning houses until one of then caved in.

"Nice town," she said.

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