The Raven’s Birth (Part 4)

Dervon had grounded his stance, his legs apart and his feet flat on the ground. His staff was held vertical to his body and his calloused hands held onto it tightly. Ravel however was light on his feet and was continuously shifting his weight from leg to leg. The moment the fight started however, Ravel didn’t attack. Dervon, who had expected Ravel to attack from his stance, remained where he was and continued to wait.

“Having second thoughts, soldier boy?” Ravel goaded slyly. “You challenge me and then you’re too afraid to attack?”

Dervon remained calm and on the defence, after all, what kind of soldier would be riled after a couple of low-level taunts? If it was going to be a waiting game, Dervon was quite ready to wait all day.

“Nervous are we? You’re moving around like a frisky rabbit,” Dervon taunted back.

“Ooh, answer a question with a question, you should be a court advisor,” Ravel said. “Do you think I should attack this kingdom, Sir Dervon? Would you miss many delicious home cooked meals in doing so? Yes, yes, you would.

“Nice impersonation of me, quite accurate,” Dervon complemented sarcastically.

“I find it’s all in the whiny voice.”

“Haha, well, as fun as this is, Prynda is probably waiting for us so we should probably get this fight over with.”

“I guess so, I just didn’t want you to feel discouraged because a super quick defeat.”

“Oh, so you’re gonna lose quickly are you?”

Dervon gave up on waiting and pushed forward, lifting the right side of the staff upwards. He drove the staff towards Ravel’s head with his shoulder weight for full impact. Ravel ducked to the ground and darted forward from the balls of his feet. Ravel rammed into the exposed right side of Dervon’s ribcage with his own right shoulder. Dervon however brought the staff back towards himself and it made contact with Ravel’s skull. Ravel ducked around Dervon to the left and lifted his left hand to the back of his head.

“Don’t worry, it hasn’t deformed your head too much,” Dervon said, spinning around to face him.

Sure enough a large bump was already forming and the impact was still ringing in Ravel’s ears. Ravel dug the end of his staff into the ground as Dervon leapt forward once more. Ravel leant backwards away from the blow and the staff swished past, inches away from his chest. Using his staff as a pole, Ravel used his core strength to lift both leg upwards and then kicked them into Dervon’s stomach.

This time Dervon had the breath knocked out of him and took a couple of steps backward, catching his breath. Ravel planted his feet back on the ground and pulled the staff from the earth. He darted at Dervon but Dervon dodged the attack and slammed his own staff into Ravel’s. The heavy blow on his staff, caused Ravel to drop it and it fell to the ground. Dervon, with his opponent now disarmed swung his staff for Ravel’s stomach, intending to knock him to the ground and win the battle. However as the staff swung through the air in a vertical slice, Ravel leapt into the air. Dervon was surprised to see Ravel vault over his blow, with apparent ease and land unscathed. With milliseconds to think, Ravel brought his right knee up and pivoted sideways. Ravel straightened his leg and kicked into Dervon’s jaw, while Dervon was still countering for his missed swing. Ravel kicked several more times, swinging from his knee, and Dervon’s head was knocked back with each blow. Ravel then lowered himself to the ground and swept kicked at his opponent’s legs. Dervon who was stumbling from the blows to his jaw was tripped by the sweep kick and fell onto his back with a thud.

Dervon groaned, feeling his jaw and then pushing it suddenly. His jaw clunked as it was returned to its joints and then Dervon moved it slowly, testing it gently. Pain shot down his neck, up the back of his head and down his jawline. A hand offered assistance with getting up but Dervon sat up with a shake of his head.

“That’s quite a kick you have there,” Dervon stated, testing his jaw once again.

“They’re my main choice of weapon after all,” Ravel answered, tucking his hands into his pockets.

“So disarming you of the staff was a bad choice?” Dervon asked, standing up.

“Argh, it was going to be tossed away anyway, it was creating too much drag,” Ravel answered.

“Drag, as in you couldn’t leap through the air like a monkey. You practically flew over my blow.”

“Maybe I’m secretly a bird,” Ravel pondered, grinning. “You however are more of a bear. That blow to the head could have sent me to be with the angels.”

Dervon slapped him on the back with a laugh and then picked up the two staffs. He placed both of them in a rack nearby and then walked back to Ravel and held out his hand.

“Congratulations, I now accept you into the party officially,” Dervon stated. “Should we meet up with Prynda now?”

Ravel shook hands with Dervon, they both seemed satisfied and turned towards the hallway.

“However, you need work on your ramming capabilities. Hardly felt a thing,” Dervon said, stepping into the hall.

“Really? Well then, you need to work on your lying. I knew Prynda wasn’t going to be at the training grounds,” Ravel returned with a faked disappointed shake of his head.

The two men laughed jovially as they made their way towards the barracks and two women stepped into the hallway behind them. One of them was Prynda who raised an eyebrow at the pair of men walking down the hall.

The other woman was tall and slender and wore a long robe that ran down to her toes. The robe had a high neckline and long sleeves and several books were piled into her arms. The robe itself was white with a yellow band at each hemline and the tips of brown shoes peeked out from underneath. An embroidered sun symbol, with a man’s face merged with it, was sewn onto the back of the robe. The symbol was that of the god, Pelor, god of the Sun, Light, Strength and Healing. A white, soft cotton headscarf covered the top of her head from sunlight, as a sign of respect for Pelor.

“Marcy. I don’t think I’ll ever understand men, they just seem to love knocking the living daylights out of each other and then have a laugh about it,” Prynda stated, shaking her head.

“Well, you know, it’s true what they say. Men bond better over a fight than through conversation,” the other woman replied. “Look at them, they’re practically best friends now.”

“I had hoped they’d get along but your brother was so firmly against Ravel joining us,” Prynda said.

“My brother is just protective of us, he always has been and he always will be,” Marcy explained. “Plus, Ravel was imprisoned at the time you asked him to join our party, it hardly speaks much of his character.”

“But Kiale attacked him first,” Prynda defended.

“Kiale attacks like a weakened child, Ravel could have easily escaped. After all, he moved quite agilely when he and Dervon where sparring.”

“Just looking at Kiale’s face is enough to make the best of men or women punch his face,” Prynda continued to defend Ravel. “Kiale had just disturbed the whole street, Ravel may have just been standing up for the innocent.”

“Ok, ok, don’t worry, I’m fine with him tagging along for the journey. I have nothing personally against the man, and I understand his actions of the other night. However, Prynda, I think it’s wise if we stay at least a little cautious of him. We have no clue to his true nature and it would be unwise to trust him completely,” Marcy said, calmly.

“You and Dervon are very much alike. He told me practically the same thing, apart from the fact that at the time he was using it to try and convince me against bringing Ravel.”

The two women had arrived at the barracks by this point and they entered through the large wooden door. Ravel and Dervon were lounging against one of the walls and as the ladies approached, Dervon stood up with a yawn.

“Took you long enough,” Dervon stated. “Did you have to powder your noses?”

“No, no powdering was accomplished,” Prynda replied, raising an eyebrow.

“Yeah, actually we were just distracted by a sparring match taking place in the training yard,” Marcy replied with a cool smile. “The big soldier was tripped over by his opponent and fell flat on his back. It was quite amusing.”

Ravel revealed a huge grin and let out a snicker when Dervon glowered across at him. Marcy stepped forward and curtsied to Ravel, bowing her head slightly.

“I’m Marcy Elrin, this oaf’s sister,” Marcy introduced, with a sideways nod to Dervon. “I’m a cleric so if you have any ailments tell me.”

“Ravel here has a serious case of stupidity, can you cure that?” Dervon replied, with a grin.

“Unfortunately not, as you should know. I’ve tried many a time to cure your case of stupidity, but alas, there is no medicine to be found.”

Ravel stood and patted Dervon on the shoulder sympathetically.

“Brothers in arms and in ailment,” Ravel said, shaking his head. “We should stick together comrade.”

Dervon nodded sadly and shook his head in equal disappointment.

“Yes, comrade, and all because we have a below average skilled healer handling our case,” Dervon said with a sniff.

“I’ll be on your case in a moment!” Marcy called.

Marcy threw a book at the pair and Prynda interrupted before it went much farther.

“Come on, we’re well past when we should have left,” Prynda said.

“Sorry about that,” Dervon said, apologetically.

Dervon then turned to Ravel, as a hint that he should do the same. Ravel ignored Dervon and picked up his backpack, which had been repacked for him and placed in the barracks. Ravel walked to the door and then turned to the others.

“Come on,” Ravel called. “The owl bears won’t deal with themselves.”

Prynda led the way to where four horses were tethered and the group rechecked their packs. As they were more of a hunting and exploration expedition, Prynda had decided a wagon or cart would just slow them down. Food could be caught and foraged for on the journey so bedding and other supplies where all that were carried.

The group were mounting their horses when Kiale approached, an entourage trailing behind him. He had obviously put work into making his bruises less noticeable, which in turn made it more noticeable for Ravel. Make up was hardly a manly way of dealing with the injury, any other man would let it show despite the slice that defeat dealt to their pride.

“I wish you the best of luck in you endeavour,” Kiale spoke primly to Prynda.

Kiale wrinkled his nose towards Ravel and attempted to spit at him in disgust. The act was however a very gross fail as it formed and spilled over his lip and onto his chin. Kiale wiped it off with his sleeve, growing red as Ravel chuckled in amusement and Dervon struggled to keep his laugh in check.

“Feel free to use this vile person as bait or a sacrifice or a human shield,” Kiale said, pointing at Ravel.

Prynda bowed in her saddle, but turned and began to canter towards the castle gates without so much as ‘goodbye’. The other’s followed, but not before Ravel spat accurately into a flower pot next to where Kiale stood. Ravel grinned as he galloped away, leaving Kiale spluttering from the dust… and rage.

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