With Friends Like These

© 2002 By N. M. Bard

He walked though the door then paused. He paused for two reasons. One was that he was waiting for his eyes to adjust to the dimmer light inside. The second reason was to see who was there already. He stood there scanning the room looking it over. He had learned long time ago that it was always a good idea to know who was in the same area he was going to be. That knowledge had a tendency to keep him out of unnecessary trouble.

After a very short wait he could make out the faces of some acquaintances, friends almost. Five of the them were seated around a table in the main room eating. Three of them waved at him but he felt like eating alone tonight. He just waved back. He kept scanning and saw the feathered heads of a couple of rapas. They could cause problems but probably won't. The brokelshes should keep to themselves if not disturbed. At least there won't any whiptails even though there were a couple of other diffs. The rapas were probably passing though town since none lived here and there was no openings in their usual occupation. Light reflected off of their military hardware and clothing. From the colors they were wearing, all seemed to be part of the same outfit.

He hoped no one did start any trouble since he had no sword. He couldn't afford one these days. He did know how to use a sword, having gone to two different fighting schools. He thought that he was, at least, a fair swordsmen. He hadn't owned a sword in a couple of years. Drak had been able to acquire a wooden practice one that he used for practice and had been able to temporarily have a sword in his possession a couple of times. One, he had found and had kept for two months. He had gone though his routines with it everyday. It was a top quality, well used sword even though not fancy at all. He had found it with a pile of clothes and other belongings. As he knew would happen someone did come looking for it. He had needed the money so had turned it in for the reward offered. It was a fair amount of coins mostly gold. Someone named Deg, or Leg, or some such. He had had red hair, which was unusual around here, but then he had been just passing though. Drak had had a job as a guard for a rich citizen, while that worthy traveled with a caravan once. Drak had been loaned a sword for the two weeks of that trip. He had practiced everyday, and he had gotten to use it twice during that time. The caravan, and therefore his employer had been attacked two times by bandits. They were beaten off both times. He had equated himself well both times, and had been given a bonus. The rich man said that he would hire him again, but hadn't yet.

He did have a dagger, and a club. One did go not around without some type of weapon and they, especially the dagger, might do him better in these tight quarters then a sword since it could be hard to swing one in here.

His dagger was longer, and narrower then usual, the longer the better he thought, and was of medium quality. His club was different also. It was made from a very strong wood, not from around here, and it too was longer and narrower. Most of the cradgels most carried, were either thick at one end, and thin at the other, or looked like a thick wooden mallet.

He headed for an empty table. It was a small one with two chairs. As he passed his friends he stopped for a moment and said lahal, they returned it. He spoke for a moment to each then continued to another table. He sat down, deciding what to have for dinner. He had some extra money this week so had decided that he was tried of his own cooking. He did have his own house, bought soon after the trip where he had been a guard. It was small, but well built, and nice. He had a tiny bit of land with the house where he grew some vegetables, and such. He had to buy his meat but most days he was able to do that. Even with paying his taxes he was able to eat his five or six meals a day. Usually that is, there had been one week, a while back, where he had had to go down to four meals a day.

With the extra money he had decided to have dinner at this inn. They had good food, which was one reason that they were usually busy. People traveling and locals liked to eat here. They also had different types of food so that diffs liked to stop here while passing though town. There were four other taverns on town. A couple were significantly larger then this one, but this one was the closest to where he lived, and it did have the best food.

He sat at the table he had chosen. Soon after he was seated a girl, probably one of the owners daughters, came up, and asked what he wanted. He told her, and she went off to get it. She brought it soon after wards, then went off to get him a tankard of ale. He eat his food slowly, enjoying the taste of the tubers, and bosk meat.

As he was finishing, a new acquaintance came up, and sat down in the other chair. Drak didn't appreciate that, but he was almost done so it didn't matter that much. This guy, Lrey, seemed to be a friend, but Drak didn't know him well enough to be sure. Drak wasn't sure if Lrey was his real name, or not, but that didn't matter much since most of drakes acquaintances used more then one name. He himself, gone by other names a time or two.

After a few seconds of letting Drak chew Lrey asked, "How's your jobs been coming along?"

He had used the plural since Drak did not have a regular job. He did this, and that to get by. He unloaded wagons at two stores, but that was once a week at the most. He also cleaned out a theater, but that was half a day every week. For the rest he did whatever he could find. He sometimes was able to sell some of the extra vegetables he grew. He was also able to fix things that broke now, and then. Things like wagons, grinding mills, water wheels, and such. There was a water wheel just outside of town, whose owners, would send for him whenever it broke down and the owner of a mill stone in town did the same. He seemed to have a knack for fixing such things. In fact, that is how he had the extra money this week. He had fixed that mill and a couple of wagons.

Drak answered with, "Good, I was able to find extra work this week."

His friend said, "That is good, if it will last. You know that Teummy lost her job to a Syblian, who was willing to work for less."

"Sad, but that is the way it goes at times."

"It always goes that way when diffs move in. Many are willing to work for less, many are naturally stronger. Some have three or four arms which make them better workers. The ones with three arms do not look natural, and are funny looking on top of that. It is unfair that they have those natural assets and can compete against honest hard working apims."

"True, they do take jobs at times."

"More then that, they steal things, and cheat people. They have customs that are different then ours, it is hard to understand them. Take those Brokelsh over there. They are not as we are," he paused for a moment then continues, "I saw some Djangs in town today." You know they have four arms. If they decided to attack an apim, he wouldn't stand a chance against those arms."

Drak thought that a djang would not attack someone out of hand, a rapa maybe, a whiptail probably, but not most djangs. He didn't say anything though since the other was being so intense. He finished his meal without further words. He thought something sweet would be nice, but for that he would have to go a sweet shop or someplace that baked pies. He didn't want to buy a whole pie though. Hmmm, maybe he could open a bakery that sold pies by the slice. Of course, if he did he would have to hire a good pie cook. He wasn't one. He could bake a fair pie, one learned many survivor skills when one does not have a regular job, but a shop would need a great one. Then again he no money for such a thing. Oh well, it had been a nice idea though. He had also thought of starting a repair business of some type. He was after all decent, if not good, at repairing things.

Finally his new friend ran down, and Drak decided he should pay his bill. When the server came by he gave her the money he owed. It was over amount he owed, since he didn't have the correct coins. She had to go get a couple of coins to give him his change. When she brought it back it was more then he had expected. When he mentioned that she said that her father had told her to charge him less then usual since he had helped with some repairs recently.

He told her to thank her father for him then left. It hadn't been that much, but during his current hard times, anytime he had more money then he expected he felt good.

As they walked out his companion said, "that was nice of them, but do you think that a Och would have cut the amount you owed even if you had saved their life?"

Drak just shrugged.

His friend said that he had somewhere else to go, and said farewell. He said that he would see Trey later. It was dark now, but it wasn't too late so he thought he would take a short walk, and watch the first couple of moons raise. For this town it was not late enough to be dangerous yet, not that this area of this town was extremely dangerous even late at night, but one always had to be careful. He had learned that at an early age. The street lamps were lit so he could make out most of his way even if the moons had not risen. He appeared to be just leisurely walking, as if he had no care in the world but he kept his eyes scanning both sides of the street as he kept a lookout for any danger. He spotted three figures further along the way. If he really had been leisurely walking he probably would have missed seeing them, or would have dismissed them, but now he was forewarned. He immediately slipped into his fighting mode as he prepared himself for trouble. They could be just out for a walk, as he was, or going to a late dinner, but he wanted to be ready. If they wanted to take his money, or do him harm they probably could see his club, but might not know about his dagger. He kept it in a scabbard, on his right side, partially under his clothes. It was mostly hidden, but still easy to get to. Either way they would be in for a nasty surprise. As he neared them he kept his eyes roving back, and forth to make sure there was no other danger nearby. It was a habit with him that he did automatically. When he was half a block from them, two disappeared suddenly, which pretty much confirmed his suspicions. They were up to no good, not when it came to his welfare anyway.

The one that was left was dress like a sword bravo out for a good time. These robbers had a different way of doing things, obviously. They were out early for one thing. Such people generally liked it very dark, not just barely after dark with the moons about to rise. For another they looked to have a routine that would allay any suspicions. They were probably new, at least around here.

Drak kept on walking, and as he drew even with the well dressed man, the man stirred himself, and said, "What no llahal?"

Drak said, "Pardon me, but I meant to give no offense," as he played the part of the unsuspecting victim.

The Bravo snarled, "Rather you meant to or not you have, rast." He suddenly reached out, and grabbed Drak by the shirt. Just as suddenly he swung his victim around, and into a short, dark alley.

Drak let himself be propelled into the darkness, he spun as he entered the alley ended up stumbling backwards. He knew the other two would be waiting for him. He hoped neither of the two waiting for him had a dagger out, to stick in his guts. That could put an end to his plan as well as his life. As the thought ended, he felt his back hit the unique softness of a human body. He was ready, and reacted the same moment he first felt the manes shirt. He pushed back with one elbow with his full strength. He heard an ufff, as he felt his elbow connect with, then sink into the manes belly. Drak then pivoted to one side, and back handed the other man. Both robbers were taken by surprise by the quickness of his attack, therefore they reacted slowly. Too slow. Drak laid into them with punches, jabs and chops. It was a little strange to be fighting in the dark, but there was just enough light to make out outlines of the men. He knew from much experience where various body parts would be. Within a very few short burs both men were laying on the ground groaning.

The third man, who was still out on the street, at first thought the groans, and smacks were their victim being taken care of. He became puzzled about why it was taking so long to subdue him. Then he realized that there were two sets of groans, and that one sounded familiar. When he heard two bodies hit the ground, he wonder which partner had been knocked down. It never occurred to him that it was both.

He stepped forward, and asked, "Need any help?"

He taken by surprise as two hands reached out of the gloom, quickly followed by the rest of their victim, half leaping, half stepping out of the dark shadows. He saw the error of his thoughts, as those two hands grabbed him.

Drak said, "No, I don't need any help, but you on the other hand..."

As he was speaking he had been pulling the tough to him, and at the end of "hand" he head butted the other man. The last conscious thought of the other man was one of amazement. Their victim hadn't been dressed like one who could fight like this.

He woke a while later with the famous bells of Beng Kishi ringing in his head. He was also missing his daggers, and money pouch. He stolen one dagger, and there hadn't been much money in the pouch, but he still yelled at his partners. They responded back that it was his fault for picking the wrong victim.

Back at his house, Drak was looking over his new daggers. He had thought about grabbing the guys sword also, but the two partners were stirring, so he had grabbed the two daggers on his way. One of the daggers was nice, and he thought about keeping it. There had been no gold in the money pouch, but it was still more coins that he had had before. He ended up selling both daggers. The nice one he sold to a friend who had been wanting one badly. He had seriously considered keeping it, he could hide it on his person in case something was to happen to his regular dagger. He decided that he needed the money more then a back up weapon, however.

Things went as usual the next few days. He worked at spare jobs. He caught a fristle cheating while gambling with a friend. He avoided another robbery attempt, this time by going down a side street. He spent two, and a half days working on repairing a water wheel out in the country. He wished he had some help when it came to lifting the wheel back into place. A day after that, he spent three days fixing a carriage.

While he was fixing it an och came by, and asked if he could repair a carriage owned by the och. He said yes he probably could, but it would have to be when he was finished with this one. The Och said that was Ok, then gave him directions on how to get to the ouches place. Drak was done a day and a half later. He talked a friend, with a wagon, to take him, his equipment plus parts he had bought, to the ouches place. When they got there, however, they found that the carriage had already been fixed. His eyes narrowed, as he reminded the och that he had said that Drak would fix the carriage. The diff said he knew that, but than had decided it would take too long to wait for Drak. Drak said that he had spent his own money to buy a couple of parts that he thought he might need. The och said that he would not need the parts, nor drakes help since the carriage was fixed. Drak Finally gave up in disgust, and loaded his stuff back onto the friends wagon. They went home. Drak was angry all the way home.

He unloaded his stuff his friend as he did.

The friend nodded and said, "That's a tough break," and drove off.

He thought about trying to sell the three parts he had bought, since he needed the money, but thought they might come in handy when he was hired to fix a carriage again.

A few burs later the friend who had talked to him during dinner the other night came by. Lrey explained that he had heard of what happened to Drak, and had come over to see him. Drak expressed his displeasure with the och in no uncertain terms. Trey just smiled, and said that diffs made it a habit to lie to, and to cheat apims. Apims needed to help one another out. They talked a bit more about general things.

Finally Trey said, "You need to come by later this evening. Bring the carriage parts if you wanted to sell them."

Trey then gave him direction on where to go. When he was done speaking he left, and Drak went back to what he usually did. Later after his early late dinner, he thought that he should take one to his new friend's place. He could use the money after all.

He set out to find the place Trey had told him to be at. He followed the description he had been given. He ended up at a storage building instead of a regular house as he expected. It was empty now, except for the people milling around in side. He looked around before going in, and was surprised that his friend would have him come here this time of night. He was further surprised to see the others. He saw his friend, who was standing in the center close to one wall, talking to another person. Drak noticed

that all present were apims, and that there were both men, and women. None were dressed well, and a couple almost looked like vagabonds. All had swords, knifes or clubs. He, of course had his narrow club, and his dagger. Two of the clubs bought tonight were thicker, and shorter then most. On both, one end was significantly thicker then the other. It was by the narrower end that their owners were holding the clubs. His friend saw him, and waved him over. Trey explained that he was glad Drak had made it, and that they were about to have a meeting of like minded individuals. Trey thought Drak would like it. Drak just nodded, reserving his opinion till he knew more.

As he moved to join the crowd he glanced around, and saw that there was no food set out anywhere, not even a bowl a pralines. He frowned, inside, about that. Soon after the meeting started when Trey clapped his hands to get everyone's attention. After everyone turned to him he started talking. He explained why they were there, and then went on to explain how apims were getting the short end of the stick because of diffs. It was pretty much the same as he had said the other night in the tavern. Just more o

f it, with more emotion in his voice, and many hand movements. Diffs would move into a town, and take jobs away from hard working honest apims. Sometimes because they were willing to work for less, sometimes because they had natural advantages over apims. Diffs cheated apims while others like Katakis, or whiptails made slaves of honest apims. The crowd seemed to be buying every word, and expressing themselves at the appropriate places. His new friend knew how to move a crowd.

When Trey was done with his inspiring little talk, he opened the floor for comments, and stories. Most who wanted to say something agreed with him. Some described events where diffs had harmed them in some way. Drak spoke up about the events with the och. He spoke with anger as he described what happened. Soon after Trey ended the meeting by saying that Apims needed to stick together and help one another.

After the meeting Drak stayed with the others for a while talking. One of the others did buy the part he had brought, for more then he had originally paid for it.

He went home finally, and the next few days he went though his usual routine. Tending his vegetables, doing small jobs for people, practicing with his wooden sword. He spent some time wishing for an occupation that paid more. He was tried of fighting so that was out, for permanent work anyway, and he didn't know how to do much else, but if wishes were zorcas then the poor would be rich, as his mother used to say, so he stopped that line of thought. There was another meeting his friend told him about so he went to it. It was at another location. In a building owned by a diff. Trey thought it was very ironic that they were having a meeting to discuss how diffs hurt apims, in a building owned by one. The meeting went pretty much the same as the first one. in this one however Trey led some cheering at his closing remark. Drak joined in, and someone had brought a skin of wine to drink afterward. He joined in drinking that also. He hadn't had any good wine for a long time. After a few swigs he went home.

A few days later he came out of his house to find three animals eating his vegetables. he had a fence around them, but these animals had somehow gotten over it. He chased them out, and then followed them home. He found a Och there. He said the animals were his but when Drak tried to get him to pay for the vegetables the Och would not. He thought it was not his fault so he didn't need to. Drak stormed away.

Four days later there was another meeting, in yet another building. Drak told his new story. This time Trey was wearing an uniform that was mostly brown with black in it. Tonight there was two guards on either side of Trey as he spoke. They all wore that outfit as well as some who were mixed in with the crowd. The others had cuffs on the sleeves, and pant legs that were all silver. After his talk Trey gave out arm bands that were brown, and black with bits of silver mixed in. Drak saw the silver, and wondered. As he looked closer he saw that Trey's uniform had a touch of silver in the trim. Drak put on the arm band as most in the crown did. Some enthusiastically. After some more wine he left.

On the way home he thought about the silver, and that his friend had hinted that there would be a change soon. Something good for apims. Two days later someone came by, and gave Drak a note. It was from Trey, and it said that if he wanted to help his follow apims, and to get back at the diffs that had cheated him, he should show up at a certain time. Where he should show up, was described on the note. At the time stated on the note Drak showed up at the location. A group of men, and women were already gathered there. Most were the ones that had been wearing the uniforms at the last meeting. They were wearing them now. His friend now had a half cape on that was all silver. Drak didn't like the looks of that. A few of the ones dressed in brown, black, and sliver had neck scarfs on that were sliver. All of the ones in uniform had two swords, a knife and a long narrow stick. Something like his club, but not as long, and even more narrower. The sticks were about the length of a manes arm from waist to shoulder, and were about as thick as one ,and a half thumbs.

Immediately Drak could tell that this meeting was different, it wasn't just because of being in daytime, or that most of those present were wearing those brown uniforms. Or that his friend was wearing chain mail. His friend spoke dramatically, forcefully about doing something, and making a point everyone would understand. He then led the group in three of four songs. All of the songs were about fighting, and winning the day for someone in need. One song was about causing trouble for those who caused trouble to a friend.

After the songs another wine skin was passed around. This time when Drak took a drink he almost choked, it was cheap wine with dope in it. He swallowed that mouthful, but then only pretended to drink another longer pull. The brown dressed ones, took big swigs. When they were done, all headed out, following their leader. They went though a maze of alleyways almost as if they didn't want to be seen. They finally arrived at the court yard of a business that loaned money, it was very close to the center of the city. Trey announced that the owner of the place had just fired a apim after years of hard work, and hired a diff. The diff was going to pay for taking an apim's job. If the owner tried to interfere he would pay for hiring a nonapim.

Three brown suited ones went in to the building, and soon after dragged out a relt. They used their clubs on a couple of apims who tried to stop them. Drak didn't like the look of that. The three jerked the relt over to Trey, there they pushed him down on his knees, then pulled his head back. Drak sighed then placed his club on his shoulder, with one end pointing behind him, and one hand on the other end very near his shoulder. He walked over to Trey. Trey looked, and smiled, he probably was thinking that

Drak wanted in on the action, but then he most have seen the look on drakes face. He looked puzzled, then frowned.

He said, "Are you for us, or against us and all apims?"

Drak said. "against this action. He is just a stylist. His kind do not do harm to anyone."

"He took a job from an apim! It doesn't matter that he can not fight as well as some. He is just the first. Others who cheat, or steal from apims will be next as will those apims turn against their own kind."

This last was said with menace, and Drak caught what it meant. He ignored the implied threat, and said, "All that doesn't matter. Killing him in like that is not right, and it won't help your cause."

Trey's eyes narrowed, and he said, "what would you know about what would hurt our cause, you obviously are not working with us. It is a surprise that you would be for diffs, you have been their victim also."

"I have been yes, but apims have tried to cheat me also. A few days ago three follow apims tired to rob me."

Trey moved the sword away from the relt's neck, and said, "looks like we have some other business to take care of before we finish this."

He put the sword in a ready position, and said, "If you are not for us, your are against us."

Other brown suited men had been moving in around Drak as they had been talking. Drak had just ignored them, even though he had been keeping an eye on their positions.

He said, "And you pretended to be my friend, when you were not."

Suddenly he looked around like he had just noticed the others. His eyes opened wide, and he backed up a step. They moved in closer to him, and his eyes darted back, and forth like he was about to panic. He brought his club down from his shoulder and tightly gripped one end giving it its longest length.

The Brown uniformed ones smiled as they moved in even closer. Finally as one reached for him, he moved. He stepped sideways then spun away from two that were behind him. At the same time his grip on the club loosen some as he slide his hand to the middle.

The one who had reached for him looked puzzled as he grabbed a handful of air. He further looked puzzled when their victim, no longer was where he had been. Instead he was over a couple of steps jabbed his club into the stomach of one of the bully boys that had been a little in the back. After he pulled it back from his stomach, he raised it over his head, twirled it then suddenly bought it down hard on another guy's head. That guy's eyes rolled up, and he collapsed. Drak continued moving as he ducked, twirled, pivoted though the brown uniforms. His club kept connecting with various body parts as he did so. An observer might have thought it looked like a stage dance as he pivoted on one foot then kicked with the other. He swirled, leaped and dodged around foes that were in his way. He avoided their return blows. Mostly that is. One guy managed to bring his stick down in the middle of drakes back. another's connected with his arm, almost knocking the club out of his hand.

At one point he spun his club in front of hm, so fast it was a blur. It had an hypnotic effect on the two foes in front of him. As one was suddenly woke up to that fact, Drak kicked him hard in the stomach leaving him bent over, and grasping for air. Even before he brought his foot back the ground he was spinning around with the club about shoulder height. He smashed the club into the head of one guy who had been coming up fast. The blow was hard enough to knock the guy to the ground. He stayed down probably with the famous bells of Beng Kishi going off in his skull. Drak kept spinning, dodging, and twisting around individuals until all were on the ground either groaning, or unconscious. He turned and faced Trey who was trying to appear calm.

The ex-friend, or pretend friend actually said, "So you are knowledgeable with a quarterstaff, even if your staff is a bit short."

He had figured out what drakes club really was. Half of a quarterstaff.

Drak had practiced, and practiced with it every day, as he had practiced with the wooden word, so he could become good enough to use it as he just had. Since he had no sword he had had to choose another weapon. He had chosen something not obvious.

Suddenly he spun around, and threw the quarterstaff end first. It quickly flew over the ground, and struck a young man in the head. The man had been in the process of knocking an arrow. The blow was hard enough to cause him to drop both the arrow, and the bow. It also knocked him senseless, even though it didn't quite knock him out.

Trey said, "You were good with that shorten staff, but now you don't even have that, and you are up against swords now."

Drak glanced at a sword he had seen earlier during the first part of this fight. It resting on some debris so that its blade was off the ground, and was pointed upward, and the end of the handle was touching the ground. Trey saw him glance at it and said, "We can be on you before you can pick it up."

Drak had another idea, and as he thought, "This had better work or I'm in big trouble,"

He said, "but I am not going to pick it up."

Then he stumped on the end of the blade in a certain way. The sword was knocked into the air spinning upward. Drak had to reach for it, but he had it under his control before the others reacted. He adjusted his hand so that the sword blade went down the out side of his arm just as he had learned at one of the two schools he went to.

Trey looked amazed then frowned as Drak began to move. He again bypassed the closest swordsman, and went after an unexpected target. At that point two of those he had knocked down got up and drew their swords. They rushed him as he was trading sword blows with one of Trey's guards.

Drak kicked his current foe in the stomach hard enough to leave him gasping for air. He, even as the guy bent over, and fell, spun around went after another guard. He saw, as he blocked their blows, and them his, that they were trying to kill him, and not just beat him up. So much for friendship. He decided that he would fight as they were. He spun around suddenly, traded blows, got in a clench with that guy, hooked one foot around the guy's heel then pushed him backwards. The man fell, and Drak pivoted, and stepped into another manes charge. They traded swipes for a moment then Drak stepped though the manes guard, and brought his sword, which was still along the outside of one arm, across the guy's throat. The edge sliced though his unprotected throat. The man looked first surprised then angry, and shocked. Drak had just kept on going, and he heard the thud of the man falling.

His opponents froze for a moment, they had not expected he would be able to kill one of them, and they won't professional enough to ignore it. There were now four he was fighting, three actually since Trey was staying out of it at the moment.

Drak tried to take advantage of their shock, but he had been too far away from any of them. By the time he got to the closest they had recovered. That guy got anger, and sent some hard blows drakes way. He blocked them all, then spun around, took a couple steps away, and blocked another manes blow. He grabbed the guy and spun him around, releasing him just as a third guy was running up. They hit each other sending both to the ground in a tangle of arms and legs. The first foe came up swinging hard again.

This swing was even harder then before and Drak swung just as hard back. The swords met, deflecting each of the others blow. The swords clanged loudly and Drak felt the blow though his arm. The expression on the other manes face showed that he had felt it also. Again the other side's inexperience showed, and Drak was able to recover faster. His sword slide down the other manes, and both hilts touched he slugged the man in the face. He wasn't wearing mail gloves but he still could hit hard.

He immediately pivoted, and kicked another man who was coming up fast.

That man collapsed, and Drak went after another. Drak was able to run the edge of his sword along the manes lower chest, just below his sternum. It was a deep cut and if it had been any lower his bowels would have slipped out. The man looked shock, cried out then fell.

Drak next used his borrowed sword's handle hit another foes in the head. That manes eyes rolled up and he toppled over. Someone grabbed drakes leg and Drak kicked him hard in the face. The blow sent him over side ways, and sent two teeth flying.

He kept spinning and swinging. He stuck another man in the stomach, point first. It went in, almost all the way to touching the inside of the manes back. As that guy fell, three of those that had been knocked down at various times, got up, and took off running. They were holding various parts of their bodies that had been injured. That started a run. Others, even a couple still standing, and holding swords also took off running. That left Trey, and two others. They were two steps behind Trey with one on each side.

Trey had found his voice again, "Onker! You could have been a my second in command. Rast. What happened, did your mother fell in love with a whiptail? Whatever the case for your stupidity, you will be leem food now."

Drak just shrugged, for those names did not effect as they would most. That put down of his mother almost got him, but he was too professional to let it effect him. He flipped his sword forward, catching it as it spun in the air. He now held it as he had been tough in the second sword school he had gone to. This stance was more like what most used.

He said, "You got it wrong, you are the onker, and you are a cramph also."

Trey's eyes narrowed, and Drak let his sword's tip dip a little while continuing, "You are nothing now. Maybe, I should just leave. You are what is left over in a rasts nest."

Trey gave a short angry scream, and charged. He attacked hard, and fast. A little faster then Drak had expected. Drak got his sword back up in time, but it was closer then he was comfortable with, even though he had been watching for such a charge. They fought hard, and fast for a few seconds but no matter how hard or fast Trey swung drakes sword was there to block the blow. At times trey's missed altogether.

One of the two guards came in at Drak, but he stepped back two steps from Trey, and traded three blows with him then stepped closer to Trey again.

The guy came closer trying to find time where he could screwier Drak, without hitting his boss. Drak suddenly swung sideways right past that guy's guard. The point of his sword drove deep into his sternum. Drak quickly withdrew his sword, and swung it around to block a blow. Blood splattered as he did. The guard collapsed into a pile of bone, and flesh.

Drak, and Trey continued to trade blows neither one being able to get past the others guard. Suddenly Drak pivoted sideways striking the last guard in the face with the hilt of his sword. It was a hard blow, and the man stumbled backwards almost dropping his sword. He had been too close to allow Drak to stick or slice him with the sword. He pivoted back to face Trey. The whole action was so fast Trey hadn't had time to take advantage of it, and the guard didn't know what hit him.

They fought on for another minute or so then suddenly Drak raised his sword, and sliced the tip though trey's neck. Trey had leaned backwards so the cut wasn't that deep, but caused him to back off a couple steps while Drak traded blows with the guard. Drak quickly saw a pattern in this guy's sword work so he changed his pattern. As an opening came back around, he hit the other's sword. When he swung he twisted his blade in a certain way this caused his sword to hit the other sword in a certain way. The blow sent the other's sword flying, tumbling though the air. Straight toward Trey, who was running up.

It didn't hit Trey much less stick in him, those things only happen in heroic plays, but it did cause him to backpedal for a second. Drak next punched the one he was fighting while the guy was stunned when he realized he was no longer holding a sword. The punch knocked the guard back, and Drak spun around in a circle as he came back around he kicked the guy a shrewd kick. Even before his foot was back on the ground, he was attacking Trey. He knew trey's mantel now, and knew what type of attack would be needed.

He attacked hard, and fast, hammering the other guys sword. Trey somehow managed to block each blow, even though just barely, at times. The frustrated foe tried a counter attack which didn't work. Drak was getting tired, and he knew that Trey was fresher, so he wanted to get this over with as fast as possible. At one point he drove Trey back with a hard attack then stepped back, in one quick motion he drew his dagger, and throw it at one guy almost on him.

The dagger flew only a few feet before it dug into the guys chest, just below his heart, all the way to the hilt. The guy stared at the dagger's hilt stupidly then collapsed.

Trey looked at the guy, and Drak continued his attack. After Drak managed to slice one arm, Trey decided that was enough. He beat Drak back a foot, or two then turned, and ran off. Drak tried to reach him with the point of his sword, but only succeeded it slicing the back part of one leg as it came up. As he ran away, five others got up, and ran off also. One was the guy Drak had sliced above his stomach. He was being helped by two others.

Five bodies were left behind. Drak stood there breathing deeply for part of a bur. He was glad they had taken off. Even though he practiced on a regular bases, he was not used to that type of a work out. He waited another half a bur to make sure they were not coming back. He then took a good look at the sword he was holding. He whipped it off, using the clothes of one of the dead men. It was not a bad sword. He probably would keep it. He then went over to the closest body, and retrieved his dagger. He wiped it off on that guys clothes. He then checked all of the bodies making sure they were dead and taking the example of mercenaries he kept each person's sword, and money pouch. Actually only three had pouches. He went over to check the fifth body and to retrieve his club. It was still laying next to the very young man who had the bow. Drak was surprised the boy was still laying there. He knew he hadn't hit him hard enough to kill him. The boy was still alive.

The relt came back out, and Drak threw him one of the pouches. He said, "That is payment for scaring you like that."

The relt thanked Drak, much for saving his life, but also for the money. Drak thought it was time to leave, and he did, taking with him the dead men's swords, daggers, and knifes even though some were of poor quality, as well as the pouches. He left whatever jewels each body had, and their clothes.

For the next few days as he went around town he carried two swords, and a knife as well as his dagger, and the club. No one attacked him, and there was no sign of Trey. He finally heard that Trey left town, and after a search for him, Drak decided that he had really left town. He sold all of the weapons, except for the best of the swords, and a longer knife. It was a wider knife with a rawhide handle, with a point that curved back a bit, like the ones used by trappers. He sold the second best sword to a friend who had also been wanting one. He gave it to him for far less then what it was worth. There was surprisingly little gold in the pouches. There was one gold oar, and a larger coin, both of which he hide in case he had need of such some day. However even with so little gold, when you included the money he got for selling the weapons, he had more money he had had for years. The och who had owned the animals that had eaten his vegetables had already paid him the day of the meeting. He had done it, not because his animals had eaten what belonged to Drak, but because Drak had returned his animals to him. He also started getting more offers for his services. A lot of his new customers were diffs, most of whom paid him on time. He ended up having to hire someone to help him, because he couldn't do all of the work people wanted done. The person he hired was a djang. His four arms, and extra strength came in handy at times, especially when Drak needed to lift a grinding or water wheel.

Drak managed to talk to some of the people he saw at Trey's meetings, explaining how Trey had been wrong. He went on to explain that yes, some diffs have hurt, and cheated apims, but some have helped also. There were bad individuals in every group, including apims. Some listened to him, and some did not. Some of those who did not listen tried to keep the group going, but without Trey or his lieutenants it collapsed. There was no more sliver tokens spotted at any of the new meetings, and no children had gone missing, which Drak was grateful for.

The end