“I, Abijah Crimson, am a priest Cruor, the master of bloodshed.” Abijah let his arms fall slowly, then drew the claymore from his back. “You can make your deaths easier by” – he paused, fixing his gaze on Aliene – “removing anything of value.” He traced over her outline in the air with the tip of his blade, the glaring eyes shining with a dull red beneath strands of bright hair. Snickering from the group behind him made a toothy grin split Abijah’s face as his reach encompassed the two travelers.
“Mind if I try deterring most of them?” Jacobus asked as he dropped his pack.
Aliene was expressionless. “Sure. Not as if he is anything special.”
Abijah lost his grin as Jacobus stepped forward. “Oh, you have wounded me so, beautiful temptress, but letting your man die first is deliciously ruthless.”
Jacobus stopped, pointing to a man standing to the side of the priest; beneath a similar crimson sash to his leader, the man wore leather and mail that ended in a section skirt covering his thighs. The man gripped his short broadsword tightly as he felt Jacobus’ gaze on him. “That lion emblem on your chest-piece is Schillian; did you serve in the war?”
Not expecting the question the bandit took a moment to respond. “Yes, why do you—”
Jacobus cut him off by raising his hand, and the monk removed his shirt. The bandit’s eyes went wide as he dropped the sword. A few murmurs crept up in the ranks of the other bandits. The one in Schillian armor looked to his leader who was glaring at him; through quivering lips, he told the priest, “That man is a Carnifex, a butcher of men.” Half of the bandits immediately dropped their weapons and began backing away.
Abijah raised an eyebrow and began laughing. “Ah yes, your little ghost stories from the battlefield, the dreaded executioners for Schillian armies. Such great stories, but nothing to priest of Cruor; I am walking bloodshed, gifted beyond that of mere mortals.” The priest was still laughing when he turned around as the sound of earth cracking reached his ear.
The ground between Jacobus and Abijah was broken with the crags leading back to the monk’s left foot. Jacobus moved into his fighting stance. “The wise do not die needlessly, abandon thy worldly possessions for none will go with you into the light.”
As he finished the verse only five bandits remained armed while the rest began dropping armor and packs as they backed away slowly. Abijah and his few remaining bandits moved deftly to surround the monk; their leader charged first, swinging his blade towards Jacobus’ neck.
A glint of magic and a geyser of blood followed; Abijah fell back screaming from the loss of his sword and right arm. Their leader was silenced as Jacobus planted his foot down, splattering the priest’s head in another spray of blood and flesh. The monk took up the fallen bandit’s claymore, arching the blade down into a second bandit’s raised shield, causing the iron sword to shatter. The reeling man cried out briefly as Jacobus speared him with his arm up to the monk’s bicep.
Jacobus turned with his second victim, ready to fling the body at any other attackers, only to see the other three bandits each nearly cut in two. Aliene was prying her blade from the armor piece it was stuck on with a swift kick. She looked over to Jacobus who was laying the body on his arm down. “So, you down-played your skills before.”
The monk almost laughed. “So did you.”