“Look at the size of the camp. Where are all the rest of them?” Adrasos kept his voice quiet.
“We should hit them while they’re separated. Take this bunch, then attack the others as they return.” Captain Ellis looked quite keen on the idea of his ten men—including the Greeks—attacking double their number.
“Too far for archers. What if a couple of us made a running attack on them, led them around the hills a bit then down that stream, you could have your archers above . . .”
“Hmm, sneaky. I like it. You think your horses are fast enough?”
“Yes. Perhaps just Yainni and I?”
The captain eyed him, then nodded.
So if me and my pet demon betray them, they’ll have a chance to run for it.
“So, no time like right now.”
The captain left a pair of scouts watching and he and Adrasos scooted down off the ridge and trotted back to where the rest of the troops waited, mounted.
Adrasos mounted Tesse and grinned over at Yainni, riding Gennadios’ black mare. “Shall we lead some bandits into an ambush?”
Chol, Krid and Gotu looked at him. He shook his head. “Just the two of us.” He turned Tesse south and Yainni followed. He rounded the south end of the hill just as four horses galloped into the bandit camp.
Two of the riders were bound, and Adrasos exhaled painfully at the sight of short curly hair with streaks of blonde.
Yainni straightened, dismay in his voice. “Twilla.”
“Right. Medium trot, I’ll cover us with a spell so they don’t notice us until we’re really close. We grab the girls and run like hel.”
/// Adrasos and company hit that side of the bandits (under unnoticeable spell), scoop up the girls and flee with bandits chasing them. Running battle, circle around and find the troops at pre-agreed ambush site.
Question is, the camp was built for much larger group. Where have most of the bandits gone?
Captain questions a prisoner, gets cursed. Adrasos removes the curse and uses mental dominance to get the truth. Most of the raiders have headed for Chico. They moved out in three bunches, and will have the south side secured by now. This group was going to follow as soon as they’d eliminated the troopers. “Who is on the other sides?” The other camps should be there, too. How many bandits total? No idea. "We're an army. We're not going to be bandits any longer."
The Bandit’s horses are exhausted. Adrasos picks the four best mares and sends C&T home with them. The troops make their best speed for Chico, switching horses and pushing the pace.
Before Chico, they veer into the hills and approach at night. The fires of the bandit camps are visible, all around the town.
### Father Odeil was in town when the bandits closed their loop. He helps the Greeks and other travelers find places to stay – in the case of the Greeks, the wagon and carriage, parked between a small church and a store, their horses grazing in a tiny cemetery, to the consternation of the locals. Streets are full of cattle and sheep.
Commander Lestade establishes some order, gets the main roads cleared, grain stores inventoried; hay stored in town is minimal. “All these damned animals, we’ll be slaughtering them to feed people starting immediately. Father, can you and your youngsters assist in keeping tallies of whose beef is butchered and fed to people by the government?”
“What about the usual butchers? Four of them in town, I believe.”
“Yes. I’ll go talk to them. Damn. I shouldn’t have sent so many patrols out.”
“That may actually be a good thing. As they fail to find bandits, they’ll return and attack from the outside.”
“Or ride up all relaxed and happy because they’re almost home, and get slaughtered, one patrol at a time.”
### During siege, Father Odeil discovers that Rudy is a magician, and helping bandits.
### Mucho fighting. Final battle between Adrasos, Fancy Man and Rudy. Much magic on display.
### Yainni downed. After fighting over, Adrasos finds him and uses his magic obviously, in healing him. Offers to do same to others as he recovers. Some take him up on it, others do not.
### Return to Red Cliffs. Adrasos proposes to Cinnamon. Yainni, slow to get out of wagon, stops Twilla from killing self