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Fifth Patrol : journal entrry
By Ken Decoteau
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Rated "PG" by the Author.
Last journal log entry of a northern patrol.
It's colder tonight. I don't think we'll make it. Three weeks out on
patrol and we get snowed in. Completely.
Then again, she's a mage; I'm not. The force of life in this
area should keep her warm enough to get by. I have nothing save my
parka. And my spirit. May that be enough.
My fifth patrol. Most likely my last. Well, then again, maybe
not. The last three I thouhgt were my last too. Then somehow they
weren't. The rookie patrol went perfect. Convinced me that I'd made the
proper career choice after the war. Three months out, clear skies, fast
trails and good game. Nice partner too. Ha.
Then I got attacked by a damned troll while on watch with
partner number two. Broke my right arm in three places with her
first swing. Chipped my blade too. Damn, that was my fathers blade. And
my grandmothers before him.
It was all I could do to calm her down to sleep. I still
haven't fully gotten back my mental edge after burning out my channels
stunting her enraged mind to keep her from tearing me apart. Or rather
completing the job of tearing me apart which was well on its way.
Next time out, same useless partner. After checking out some
vague stories of bandits, we found a slightly odd group of travelers.
All girls. The mage and I, him really a useless brute anyway, who can
sleep through troll's screaming and hollering like a babe through a
gale, decided very naively to break bread with these travelers.
About a halfmark after we left their camp towards the next town
on out route, we both basically kealed over in mid trail.
Laying there, the both of us groveling like that troll snored,
I realized something might not have been quite right with our recent
company. Hearing the strike of hooves and the hiss of steel and a
distinct female voice saying "damn dirty patrol" I concluded that I was
correct. Too late of course. I took what action I could anyway, in my
prone state. Having the perfect feeling at hand, well offensively, not
personally, I projected and intensified that feeling out as far as I
To my satisfaction, I heard several grunts, groans, and a few
screams and I think the one who was closest fell to the ground with a
The pain kept getting worse, as did the breathing of the mage.
Who was not, by the way, affected by my transmission, rest assured. I
don't think it would have mattered if he wasn't wearing that blocking
stone. Well, anyways, I guess I eventually passed out and eventually,
most likely before I passed out, the bandits left.
Some farmers kids found us. Well, me and two bodies, sometime
the next morning. I didn't wake up for a week and a half. The mage,
obviously, never woke up. Number two was some poor teenage girl with a
knife. We empaths come across as cold and heartless sometimes, but we
never forget stuff like this. Yes, she and her troop poisoned us. Yes,
they'd broken laws and left people sick on the side of the road. But to
kill someone that young with your mind...Well, it hurts, I'll leave it
The last trip out involved a slight fireball incident with the
brute's replacement. I didn't like the looks of her from the start, but
at least she seemed more willing to work than the mage before. I
understand that they need to keep their hands in good condition and need
their minds free, but there comes a point where that becomes an excuse
for getting out of everything physical. The brute had that down to a
It happened when I was reading a suspected thief from a small
village. He was proving to be a tough nut to crack, but I was nearly
there without having to mess up his mind any. It's really an art, trying
to get someone so wrapped up in their thoughts that they accidentally
let you in. Forcing your way really sucks. I'm good at it now, but I
remember the first time I tried, I nearly fried us both. Oh, well, he
was malleable enough that I would have him in a few minutes. All of a
sudden, the mage, Chasle, launches a damned fireball at him and if you
know the difference between a fireball and a firebolt, you'd understand
that he didn't stand a chance.
I of course asked as calmly as I could manage what the hell she
did that for. She stared at the ashed and few embers left of the stump
the thief had been sitting on and just shook her head. Then said,
"because I wanted to burn him." Not really thinking yet, I said
something to the like that was no reason and I was going to have to
arrest her for murder.
The part of me that was still thinking a little bit went ahead
and brought up what shields I could as an empath. I took the first
fireball full chest and the following two before my shields fell and I
followed. I only really dropped to my knees, dazed at first. Realizing
that this was a stupid position to be in, I projected the image that I
was more crisped than I actually was and allowed my body to crumple to
Laying still, I felt her looking at me. What seemed like a
candelmark later, she began to move away toward the village, away from
the patrol outpost.
Taking my chance, I lept up and drew my sword from its shoulder
scabbard and swung at the mage's neck with a deft twohand slash. She was
shielding, so the blade didn't harm her aside from physically knocking
her forward. And as I'd intended, cutting the chain of my ward stone
allowing it to fall to the ground. Let's just say that that one was the
last one I'll ever make. Sure, they keep me from harming my partner if I
project some area effect, but darnit, I don't make the same mistake
Don't worry, I make plenty enough new ones that this wont
matter. My latest mistake at this point was standing there like an idiot
while she began to ready another spell. Yes, I was slightly distracted
by the blood running down my arms from my burnt and crakced hands. I
wasn't smoldering. Yet.
I pushed out all my distraction feelings and darted for the
trees. Luckily, she followed. I'm a good empath, I'll admit. I'm
battletrained and experienced from six years on the front lines in the
In the open, with that stone making her immune to my thoughts
and her magic immune to my blade, I was out matched. Now, as long as her
thoughts are still comprehensible, unlike that darned troll, I've got a
Taking a good "look" at her while darting in and out of the
trees sank my spirits slightly. The mage was clear headed about her
spells, but not much else. She flipped alright. I guess it happens to
those mages sometimes. Something about being the most powerful living
thing for several square kilometers just sets them right off. Anyway,
us empaths can only act on what we understand. It's a hell of a
limitation sometimes, but again, I refer to the troll episode. I was
forced to deal with something incomprehensible and I'm still recovering
My path was clear. I first tried a little test; try to make her
mess up the fireball spell. Which I could actually cast myself, once,
then I'm useless for a day. So bright little ole me jumped out of cover
and intentionally began snapping twiggs. She turned and lit up the pine
behind me with a fireball and then when she realized the miss, loosed a
flame wave across the clearing I was in.
Hot footing it, literally, I did my thing. On my way "in" to
twist the words, I realized that her shields were not really that good.
And I also saw that the mage had blood down her right arm. I had gotten
through with that slice after all. Taking what looked like the best
chance available, I weakened her as much as I could from the inside. I threw every bit of my personal energy into my shields and charged
I was answered first with a hand motion, then a look of
perplexity. Then a string of weak firebolts. The mage blocked my
vicious cross-stroke with her staff. My second stoke took her in the
left wrist; the staff fell to the ground, cracked.
I locked eyes with her momentarily then swung at her head
with a horizontal slash, twisting the blade to the side to slap her with
the flat. The connection was enough to knock her out, regardless of the
remnants of her shield. Unfortunately for me, I didn't quite see the
shovel coming at me from behind.
It was probably an honest mistake. Here I was, my uniform
crisped and in tatters or missing all together, hacking away at a young
pretty woman in a patrol uniform. Oh well.
When I came to, I felt like I was in hell. I was lying on the
straw floor of what looked like a cell covered in rags. I didn't feel
like I had much skin left. Curiously, I also had a rag in my mouth which
was almost causing me to choke. My arms were bound to my body. It was as
if I was the rouge mage!
I was conscience long enough to find out I was to be hung when
I was well enough, and have water splashed in my face when I tried to
ask the guard for some. Mentally, of course, because of the gag. Hearing
the guard mutter that this was the last drop I'll ever get did not make
my rest any easier.
I probably woke up a few more times, but I don't know for sure.
The next one I remember, I gave the strongest cry for help that I could
manage in an effort to get the empath from the circuit to the south of
ours. They were a bit behind in leaving and should have been taking some
time in the village about 8 kilometers southeast of this village.
The next time I probably kept my eyes open for too long. The
magistrate and the mage began to talk, discussing my chances of being
conscience for the hanging. Then they sent a runner to announce my
I did the best thing I could do; I tried to sit up. Went right
out like a light from the pain. And woke with a nose around my neck and
my head swimming.
The mage stood right in front of me with her cracked staff in
her right hand and her left in a sling. The left side of her face and
ear looked all bruised too, and a bandage was poking out of the collar
on her right shoulder. The collar of her patrol uniform, I might add.
We locked eyes once more. And just as the order was given to
lower the door of the gallows, that other patrol charged into town
yelling to stop.
Three near fatal patrols. And quite a healers bill to show for
it. I actually took this winter route, volunteered that is, to try and
get out of this debt.
So me and Sonniel are bundled together for warmth in a patrol
outpost along the northernmost patrol route in the dead of winter. With
no fire and only the provisions we brought thanks to whoever pillaged
the post's stores. Both horses already dead and frozen along the trail.
Oh, and there's several somethings clawing at the door every couple of
Now if I could just do something about her snoring...
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