Sod it! Rem ignored the Irohen's presence and immediately ordered everyone to move.
He and the Stitch would stay hidden, while Tenaros and Miverna escorted the wagon. Even if that priest sniffed the arcane scent out, chances were, he wouldn't know nearly enough to figure what it actually is. So far luck favored the solver of troubles, and Rem was willing to try it one more time.
The wagon moved quickly and soon, it was halfway through the well-lit street. The orkish duo, Tenaros and Miverna, were ready to draw their weapons. Each of them watched on their respective side of the wagon – Tenaros on the right an Miverna on the left. Since she was a trained to be a most keen observer, Loriane had her head on a swivel and looking for trouble.
Exactly like he expected, one of the smaller groups of Doomers who kept roaming aimlessly about, emerged from an open drinkery nearby. They'd probably crawled from drinking hole to drinking hole, consumed copious amounts of alcohol, herbal brews, and, of course, potions. Peeking from underneath the tarp, Rem's tired eyes noticed that some of these did not actually stumble all the way through.
This was an ambush!
However dangerous this situation was, Rem counted more than a few favorable occurrences. The first and most important one was the presence of Tenaros and Miverna, whose battle prowess could overwhelm even the toughest of street thugs. The second, and quite unfortunate for Levoah's special assassins thing was the presence of this unknown to him Irohen priest. The hired killers might avoid confrontation with one of the fiery followers of god Iroh, since even the lowly acolytes were highly trained in the ways of warfare.
Of course, the presence of his own reinforcements across the street was the third life-saving thing. Rem was sure that they'd risk alerting Krart's guard and getting arrested, but charge into open street battle nonetheless. If only he was in a better shape, he'd leap from the wagon, weapons in hand and help. Though, after so many wounds and exertion, not even someone like him would amount to much.
The solver of problems was so tired; his body ached all over, even after Loriane used the healing wand on him.
“They... come for you?” - Whispered with her childish voice the Stitch.
“I think they are just checking. These highly-paid and well-outfitted persons with killing intent, they want to end me, in particular.” - Rem answered, noticing the overwhelming confusion and sadness in her eyes.
“Not that long ago I was sent to end... you.”
“This is different – you were enslaved, controlled against your will. They, however, are doing this on their own accord and will be paid most handsomely,” - Rem made a simple gesture with his finger, as if he was cutting - “for my noggin.”
“Hush now, for we have two of the most vigilant orkish guardians Krart could offer. They, just as many other characters with life-saving intent and strong arms, are under my employ and ready to help.” - He whispered the last words with as lower voice as possible, because things were soon to happen.
The small group of Doomers approached quickly, caroling and laughing, those of them who weren't drunk, attempted a swift move. Kicking and shoving the innocent Doomers out of their way, the six assassins clearly looked like Levoah's men. Their gear and weapons were nigh the same; 'twas as if the obnoxious countess had ordered these items made en masse.
Bypassing the slightly startled Irohen, the six had already drawn their vicious-looking curved swords, and aimed two automatic crossbows at the wagon's driver. One of them, probably their leader, held a throwing ring in his left hand, and hissed a warning, voice clearly augmented by some sort of spell:
“You there, drive that wagon in the wynd at once and keep your gob shut, if ye know wut's good fer ya!”
Bortom's wife, who was a red hood through and through, ignored them. Instead of following their order and going back where she'd just picked up Rem, the dwarven lady continued on her merry way. For some reason, the six assassins had not realized that her wagon is currently being escorted by two of the most brutal vanquishers of Krart's criminal element.
Rem realized that Tenaros and Miverna had some assistance, perhaps in the form of potion or scroll, most probably from Bortom. They were indeed here, he saw them back in the other alley not some few minutes ago, yet now the tall orks were nowhere to be seen. The solver of problems grinned from ear to ear, even though the pain almost made him cry.
“Hey, hold on a minute,” - The Irohen addressed the six armed men, his longsword drawn and shrouded with tiny flames - “this is a time for celebration, not robbery and coercion!”
“You sheit op, coint!” - Bellowed the leader of the six and with a motion almost too swift for the eye to follow, flung his throwing ring at the priest.
Clap! Clap! Clap!
Boomed thrice Miverna's brutally powerful and accurate lever action rifle. The first projectile shattered the throwing ring, saving the priest's life. The second and third gored holes in the chests of the two crossbow wielding assassins. Without any hesitation, the four leapt into action; their leader's curved blade swirled at the Irohen, while his three underlings aimed to finish Miverna, Bortom's wife, and perhaps even steer the wagon their way.
Not a few seconds had ticked since their quite vocal order, and yet two of these oh-so-superior assassins had been deadened. Rem knew that the magic which protected from ranged projectiles was useful, but fickle. One had to know exactly what one's enemy was about to shoot, otherwise it was effectively useless. Plus, Miverna's Clapper was so powerful, that even if their fancy magic item was set to protect from arcane guns, the bullets would bore through.
More throwing rings flew in the air; one was aimed at Loriane and two at Miverna. Once again Bortom's wife proved that she looked like a tavern proprietress only when she wanted to. Without letting the reigns, the dwarven lady deflected the deathly flying weapon with a buckler she seemingly produced from thin air. The two rings flying at Miverna never reached her, because Tenaros blocked them with his shield.
With speed, the three elite killers advanced their attack, while their leader found himself in quite the fiery situation. Once you crossed blades with an Irohen, it wasn't easy to not feel warmth. In this case, the assassin, never mind his skill and extensive array of magical gadgets, got his ass handed to him. The clergy of Iroh weren't called Supreme Warmasters just because it sounded all cool like. Flames now burning tall, the blade this priest wielded looked as if it had a life of its own.
The Festival of Death was under their patronage, and they got most displeased when some foul-mouthed vagabond dared disturb the festivities, or for that matter, assailed innocent bystanders. Desperately the assassin danced, his blade swirling a wall of enchanted steel around the priest. All was for naught; the enraged clergyman aimed this holy flame by iron will. His fiery faith gained him advantage before the expensive, magical gear of his would-be killer.
In a flash the assassin was transformed into a screaming, wallowing in pain, burning doll.
The three colleagues of his were soon to follow him in the grave. In counted few seconds, one had his head lobbed off by Tenaros's broadsword, another couldn't hear but felt the brutal “Clap!” tearing his belly in gory pieces.
The third, after successfully parrying a vicious broadsword stab, attempted to flee by leaping off a nearby wall, but was fried by an arcane blast.
“Beordrakh!” - Roared Tenaros, his blade aimed at the leaping away assassin.
One long, shaped like a spear, glowing blue arcane attack reached his target. Ignoring magical defenses forged to protect its wearer from other, much more prevalent spells and everyday battlefield sorcery, the blueish energy splattered gory bits all over the street corner.
Sheathing his sword, Tenaros bowed at the Irohen:
“Greatness follow you, oh sturdy priest! We thank you for doing your duty and helping us protect our friend.”
“Who... what did these want from you? And why does it reek of powerful magic here?!”
“It would seem that these criminals, the ones you so bravely helped us best, are dressed from head to toe in magical gear.” - Miverna's calm voice ascertained the carnage, while she casually reloaded the Clapper.
“Illegal gear, most probably. I would assume the city guard would be quite happy to hear how you bested these highwaymen.” - Added Tenaros and pointed at the still smoldering corpse of the assassin leader.
“Impossible, I won't even dare steal your glory, mighty Knight Arcanum!”
The priest sheathed his long blade and approached the two, eyes finally recognizing them in the street light. The orkish duo was widely known as successful crime fighters, and many knew them not only by name, but by looks. Tenaros's blade and shield were or rare, olden design, and Miverna's deadly Clapper, one of a kind.
“Worry not, priest, we will report at the nearest guard station, but after our escort duties are over.” - Said Miverna and gently nudged her husband; their precious wagon already traversed the wide street and entered the wynd.
“Indeed we will. As a fellow servant of Iroh, I know that your own duty to the citizens of Krart is not over. Perhaps later, long after the first Frostfall had passed, we can sit and talk more about this battle? You will be most welcomed around our fire.” - Promised Tenaros, and after a ceremonial bow, which all faithful exchanged with one another, walked after Miverna.
Rem sighed a sigh of relief.
Had he split the two orks, who knew what might have happened? Together, this street fighting family was nigh unbeatable; their gear and combat style perfectly complemented each other.
The solver of problems realized that had he been up there, driving the wagon, the assassins would've most probably hit him with a throwing ring or two. Yet, now was not the time to ask himself the “could've, should've, would've” and he popped his head out, after hearing Bortom's lowered voice:
“Remmy boy, we are not out of the hotpot yet. Member me, how crazed be this shecountess?! Boyo, there be at least five more land fishie groups of the throat slitten' varieteh', befween us and Boobie Elfe.”
“'Tis called the 'Busty Elf' that inn, dear husband.” - Loriane corrected Bortom after swinging her hips before him and he grumbled, a grin on his face:
“Bah! Evrione knows them elfe girls lose to us dwarves in the voluptuous department.” - He said this quite sure of himself, yet not a second had ticked and the stocky dwarf scratched his beard, before adding:
“Howevar, that lady maid of yers, Remmy boy, I must admit she shows promise. Not that she'd evar get into dwarf bosom territory, but is at least close.”
“Joker.” - Snickered Loriane, clearly amused by her husband's jokes, and checked her magical buckler, hiding it from prying eyes once more.
Tenaros and Miverna assumed their escort positions again, and were now joined by Bortom's men. Twelve Hoods, all well armed and hidden, either on the roofs nearby or dashing from shadow to shadow. Most carried automatic crossbows, but some had arcane muskets, pistols, and even TriGuns. Their close combat arsenal was quite impressive, and everyone packed at the very least one enchanted sword or axe. Small, bulbous shields they carried strapped on their backs, as this was an item almost essential for street warfare.
Rem was aware that seven streets separated them from his base of operations. Without time to lose, before him lay three courses of action.
The most direct of all was to simply use one of the main trade streets. Walking among the celebrating populace, the hoods knew how to blend in. Plus the sheer number of jovial people would make it extra hard for any assassin to spot them. If push came to shove, Rem's people could fake it and call for the guards or another of the ubiquitous patrolling Irohens. If this is your choice, vote 1 in the comments below.
Perhaps not that clustered with people, the Belly Walks, which was a number of interconnected with one another taverns, restaurants and open eateries, offered his group another approach. They were not as easy place to blend in; yet with its maze of small alleys, and passageways between the buildings, a perfect place for any Hood to wage street warfare. Moreover, many of these establishments were working with the Hoods and owed them favors. If you choose this course of action, vote 2 in the comments below.
What could be the longest, and perhaps the sneakiest way was through the edge of the Worker's Quarter. There were trash-filled wynds, abandoned creepy alleys and blood-soaked streets nigh impossible to traverse... for anyone, but the Hoods. They knew not only every nook and cranny, most of these people grew up there and had knowledge of all dilapidated areas. Dark, smelly places where a pampered, dressed in expensive magical gear assassin would never even dream about setting foot. This route was also a good place for the Hoods to fight and, if push came to shove, they could fire a warning rocket, call for local reinforcements. If that is your choice, vote 3 in the comments below.
Link to Solver of problems, episode 2 part 1.
Link to Solver of problems, episode 2 part 2.
Link to Solver of Problems, episode 2 part 3.
Link to Solver of Problems, episode 2 part 4.