Preview of The Crossroads
“Sarge, the constable wants you to come into town immediately.”
Both the request and the hour at which it came were an irritant to Ragnorok. He was in the midst of the ritual cleaning of his firearms. He took great pride in the condition of his weapons and it was a way of unwinding at the end of a stressful day. He did not like being interrupted , especially with a phrase like this.
Feeling his tension level rise and his great hands gripping his weapons tighter, the gorr took a deep breath and snorted in response. The young private that had been sent to retrieve him stopped dead in his tracks and backed up slowly. Almost apologetically, he added, “There was a fight in town. One of your soldiers was injured.”
Standing, he tossed his cleaning rag to the small, wooden table and sighed, now gaining control of his temper. At least for the present. “Is the constable at the jail?” he rumbled down his horned muzzle at the tiny man.
The private shook his head nervously. “No, sir. He asks that you meet him at the Healer’s temple on the south end. That’s where they took the corporal.”
He grunted understanding and brushed past the trembling soldier to leave immediately.
“What happened?” He grumbled. Ragnorok was standing outside the stone tower known as the Healer’s temple, though it had not served as a place of worship in many years. With him was the city constable, one city sheriff and Donatien, who had witnessed the episode. “Public brawling is forbidden. Is my soldier under arrest?”
The constable, a middle-aged human, rarely had to enforce any of the city’s many codes and laws because Northgate was an extraordinarily peaceful town. For its size, the populace was well behaved. The mayor and officials never failed to acknowledge that this tranquility was a result of having the militia present. Citizens feared and respected the military presence. Crime was almost nonexistent and there were no councilmen guilds in the area. This made the constable a very relaxed and pliant fellow when dealing with the soldiers. He knew the minor infractions, that were occasionally caused by too much furlough enjoyment or rowdiness, would be dealt with severely once they were returned to base.
“Oh, no, no, my good sergeant. He was clearly the victim here, as the private was telling me.” Here the gentle townsman turned to Donatien for elaboration.
Having the spotlight, Donte dove into his somewhat inebriated description of the disturbance once more for the sergeant.
“Well, it really all started when Khiall came into the bar…”
Ragnorok put his hand up to halt the story suddenly. “It’s Corporal Khnyghtsyde that was involved?”
“Yep, I thought it strange that he even came into town. He usually never leaves base. But, he comes in and takes his cloak off and well– immediately the ladies started swarming, cause …well, ya’ may not know this since you’re a gorr but, he’s got this effect on women and some guys…but, anyway. He’s playing along and things seem fine. We’re all drinking and singing and stuff; when, suddenly, some of the local trappers come in and see their girls hanging all over Khnyghtsyde. They’ve been to a few of the other taverns by the looks of them, and they start in threatening him to let go of their ladies or get out. Well, this did not go well with the girls, or the rest of us. I mean, it was the first time we were actually getting to know him outside the base, ya’ know bonding and all that. So, he tries to tell them that he’s not trying to steal their girls, jus’ having a good time.
“Well, then the girls start all arguing about which one he will choose to stay with, and the trappers don’t seem to like where it’s going or that they are being ignored by the girls, and possibly getting Khiall’s ‘sloppy seconds’, ya’ know? So, the corporal gets up and says he’s gonna call it a night. The girls all start begging him to stay and fussing at the trappers for chasing him off. This just makes them madder.
“Me and some of the other guys from base decide to leave with him. Ta’ make sure there’s no trouble, ya’ know. We’re gonna stick together. But, Khiall insists that his leaving not ruin everyone else’s good time. So, he leaves the bar, and immediately I see the four trappers going after him. I know that this is gonna be trouble. So, I told Insien to go alert the city guard and I go out to follow the drunk trappers.
“I get around the corner and find them in the street about two stores south. They had already jumped Khnyghtsyde and pulled his cape off. The whole tavern, plus the one down the road, emptied to watch the fight. So, instead of being able to break it up, me and the other privates ended up playing crowd control with the drunks!”
As the story unfolds, Donte becomes more animated as he acts out the fight. “There’s fists and boots and snow flying everywhere! The crowd’s yelling. The guards hadn’t arrived yet, but, they’re gonna have a hard time getting through. And, from what I could see, Khiall was holding the trappers off pretty good. There were four of them, and they were no pansies, ya’ know? But, Khiall got two of them down with a couple of swift moves, fast and hard, boom boom. One on the ground with his arm pinned behind his back by Khiall’s foot, and another thrown up against the wall of a tailor shop, shaking his head. It looked like he was gonna stow them all, when one pulled a knife on him. Suddenly, he was serious! He disarmed the guy in one move, bam! Before I could even see what had happened, the corporal had the guy in a deathgrip about to break the guy’s neck! I shouted for him to stop. He looked up, kinda shocked, like he didn’t realize where he was or what was happening.
“The last trapper standing, bloodied up but still mad, ran at them and screamed for Khiall to let the other go. He made one wild swing at the corporal and hit him in the ear. But, it was enough. Bam! Blood splattered all over them. Khiall dropped the guy he had in the headlock and staggered back. Then, bang, they all jumped on him! The one that had hit the wall grabbed him from behind, he headbutted that guy, but it was too late. The other three were up and pounding him in the head, going for his ears. Bam. Bam. Blood everywhere, and Khyghtsyde crumpled to the ground trying to cover his head. ‘Bout that time, the city guards pushed through and grabbed the trappers. They got dragged off to jail and the constable told us to bring the corporal here to wait for you! Man, what a night!”