The sun was setting over the horizon as the first rays of light began to filter into the narrow canyon that led down out of the mountains towards the sea. As he sat looking out across the expanse of water below him, the scarred soldier sighed heavily, closing his eyes against its glare. He could hear the low murmurings of conversation coming from the other soldiers. They were all tired but eager; there had not been so much activity since before the war started. And even though some of them would probably never see home again, they knew that the pay they received here made up for any hardship. The scarred man opened his eyes once more when he heard footsteps approaching behind him.

”Aye? What news? ” he asked. There was no reply, and after a moment the scarred man turned back to look at his lieutenant.

He was staring out across the riverbank. His face looked pale and drawn, and the scars along one cheekbone stood out darkly under the fading light of day.

”What is it, Lieutenant? ” said the scarred man, turning round again.

”Captain… Word is that there is a carriage coming this way. ”

”Aye, more refugees? ”

”Yes, ” replied the lieutenant. ”Except it looks like theyve a guard protecting them… ”

The captain frowned. He hadn seen many caravans passing through these parts recently, and certainly, none had guards. Not unless they were carrying something very valuable indeed.

”Well go and take a closer look then. Keep an eye open just in case there are more than we think. I want everyone ready to move on my command. ”

They watched silently until the carriage came into view, moving slowly along the track. After about ten minutes they saw another figure standing beside it, holding onto the reins while the driver guided the horses around a bend in the path. Then suddenly the second person disappeared from sight. The scarred man moved forward, walking carefully past the rest of his men, trying hard to keep his breathing quiet. Once close enough he raised himself slightly above the others and peered intently ahead.

There were four guards, hired blades by the look of it. Three were armed with crossbows, whilst the fourth held a long spear. One of the bowmen seemed to be watching the approach of the wagon cautiously, but the other two kept their heads lowered, scanning the ground as they walked. The carriage itself was pulled by a pair of sturdy grey ponies. On either side of the driver a large black dog lay quietly, licking its paws. The scarred man leaned forward, straining his ears to catch the sound of voices within, but heard nothing.

”Well Captain? ” one of his men asked.

”Draw arrows, make it quick, ” he ordered.

Two of the soldiers hurried off to get their weapons, leaving the others to stand watchful silence. Soon they heard a sharp whistle and several shafts thudded into the earth nearby, followed quickly by the crack of bows being loosed. Arrows flew overhead and clattered loudly against rocks, disappearing swiftly in amongst the trees lining both sides of the road. Both drivers had been hit, but neither had fallen yet. The lead horse stumbled and fell, throwing the carriage sideways and knocking the driver unconscious. The other pony reared up, kicking out wildly. Its hooves struck a guard square in the head, sending him flying backwards and rolling down the slope. Blood sprayed across the ground as he landed, twitching briefly.

They charged with spears and swords now, rushing forwards with grim determination. A carriage guard fired another bolt at the charging soldiers, but missed completely. He was hit by one of their arrows a moment after square in the throat. Two of the attackers went down immediately, pierced through the heart, but the remaining guard managed to pull a knife and stab one of their knights in the thigh. The wounded soldier screamed and dropped his weapon, clutching his wound. The attacker swung his blade upwards, catching the dying man full in the mouth and cutting his neck cleanly in two. The body slid down the slope, falling over a cliff edge.

Seeing this the Captain rushed at the guard. He brought his sword around sharply, slicing neatly between the mans arms. The guard tried desperately to block the blow with his hands, but was unable to stop it and collapsed in agony, dropping his dagger and clutching at the bloody stump. The captain kicked him viciously, cracking ribs as he did so, then spun away and ran back to help his comrades fight their way past the injured driver. By now most of them were dead, except for the surviving bowman who still crouched behind cover, firing blindly into the darkness.

”Flush him out, ” said the Captain as he brought it blade down upon the injured guards head. It cracked audibly and the man slumped lifeless to the ground.

One of his soldiers grabbed hold of the reins and gave them a tug, pulling the carriage to a halt. Another took aim with a crossbow and sent an arrow whistling through the air. A yelp rang out.

”Get those doors open! ” shouted the Captain.

The Knights rushed toward the carriage door with an axe in hand but before they had a chance to swing it the door opened from the inside.

Out stepped a man with a long beard, his hands raised in surrender.

”Please, we are refugees! ” cried the bearded man. ”My wife and children! Please don hurt us… ”

”Everyone out of the carriage, hands over their heads, ” commanded the Captain, raising his own sword.

The man with a long beard was followed by an older women, three girls, one young boy, and

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