A Serendipitous Encounter
Xentril stumbled along the road half a day’s march outside some unnamed town on the coast between Darguun (Blasted Goblins) and Valenar. (Twice-Blasted desert Elves.) She didn’t even remember where she was any more. She was still drunk from the night (morning?) before, and was halfway into her cups again today. The sun was a fearsome ball in the sky already (or still?) and hurt her eyes, so she kept them down, watching the stones and dust under her feet. And then she heard the screams. A piercing, frightened, desperate kind of sound. The sound that they describe in the stories, before some buffoon of an adventurer gets killed trying to rescue a maid.
Or at least that was the kind of story they would tell about her. If they even bothered to tell it at all.
Eh. Why not? It’s always a good day to die. Isn’t it?
Xentril dropped her flask and lurched into a jog, fumbling for her axe and her scourge, then began to run more smoothly with the familiar, worn grip of the weapons in her toughened hands. As she ran, she saw through drink-blurred eyes the men that were closing in, surrounding an outraged and impeccably-dressed noblewoman on the side of the road. She was screaming at them. Xentril thought she heard something about curdling their brains in their skulls until it leaked out their ears.
And then her axe was halfway through the shoulder of the first man, her flail slicing off the ear of the man next to him and catching in his cheek. She jerked it out and felt the hot blood spray across her face as he howled, white bone showing through his torn flesh.
- * – * – * – * -
When the battlefog cleared her booze-soaked brain, she glanced around and all the men were on the ground. One was still groaning, but the other four were… savaged. The man who lived was nearest to the girl and had no obvious wounds, but blood trickled from his nose, eyes, and ears.
“What are you, an idiot?!? I had them!” The over-dressed nitwit shrieked at her. Xentril was taken aback and looked the girl up and down with disgust. “Had them? You richling twit. You were a swift pommel to the skull from becoming the next set of holes those bandits were going to stick their Kyber-rotted cocks in. If you were lucky, they’d have killed you first, but they probably wanted to sell you in Darguun afterward.”
The girl gasped in shock and then the tears that were so close to the surface began to pour down her face, as her whole body began to shake and the shock of how close she had come to a fate worse than death started to dawn on her.
When will I ever learn to hold my cursed tongue? Ugh.
“Oh, Dragon Above” she muttered, as she surged forward and caught the girl before she fell over in the bloody mud. Except she was covered in blood and mud (when did I fall down?) and the gore left hideous smears all over the girl’s remarkably clean gown. Who wears a gown on the road anyway? Asking for trouble, that’s what she was… Xentril grumbled to herself and carried the girl to a large rock, set her down and then stumbled off after the frightened mare she must have been riding. When she brought the horse back, the girl had composed herself and was angrily scrubbing at the stains.
“What are you, some kind of crazed killer?” Xentril took a step back, and the girl must have seen something in her face, because her anger melted away. “I’m sorry. My manners. I forgot myself. I am most grateful for your assistance. My name is Cuinas.”
A rare flash of insight and a brief hesitation in the way she said her name, gave Xentril the impression that she was unused to identifying herself as such.
A false name? Or just incomplete?
“I am Xentril…” And I am also used to giving another name… but it is not mine any more.
Xentril crouched down next to Cuinas, which put her about eye-level with the girl, despite her being perched on the rock.
“I did not see, but you must have done something remarkable to fight off that one. But I do not think you could have beaten them all,” Xentril murmured.
Cuinas avoided looking at the man, now a corpse. It’s face was covered in bloody, clotted rivulets that had gathered in pools on the ground. “Yes. Well. I said I would curdle their brains, didn’t I?” She still looked bothered, but had a self-satisfied sound back in her voice.
“Mmm. That you did. Well. I am traveling this road for a ways.” She coughed awkwardly. “And despite… what happened here… Well. You may be safer on your own. I am dangerous and unpleasant company…” The dragonborn looked away, feeling oddly familial and protective of this girl.
Cuinas laughed, a sound like the soft tinkling of bells, declaring that she was pleasant enough company for both of them, and wouldn’t mind a dangerous companion for a while.