Wanted Alive

It was a bitter and frigid morning in the wilderness east of Yew. Little could be heard over the piercing wind, save the light crunching of boots on snow, as First Sergeant Clemons and his squad moved through. The elite Royal Guardsmen, stalwart in purpose, showed no signs of discomfort as they battled the vicious Britannian winter. Their breath frozen, their lips blue, the dire importance of their mission kept them going. The First Sergeant, on point, fell to a knee as the squad approached a clearing. Without looking back he signaled the Guards to his location. The squad, without hesitation, converged.

“Our target, boys.” The First Sergeant grinned, pointing at a small cabin in the clearing. Standing just outside the quaint building was an armored man, an officer’s pauldron clearly visible on his shoulder.

“Those Confederate buzzards were actually right,” Clemons scoffed.

A few nights prior, the Royal Guard received unconfirmed intelligence from the Confederacy for a Unified Sosaria, regarding Bane Chosen army activity east of Yew. It seemed Egil and his lackeys were hoping to prove their commitment to their ceasefire with the Guard. Believing this intention true, Clemon’s volunteered to act on the information. They’ve been in a desperate need to find out what it is the Bane Chosen know, and now the chance has fallen into their lap.

“Alright, lads, we move quickly and quietly. The officer must live,” Clemons didn’t feel he needed to stress that point, his men knew why they were here, “slaughter the rest.”

The First Sergeant rose to his feet and dashed through the clearing, not yet drawing his sword for fear the gleam of its blade would alert the Chosen. In this snow and wind, the Guardsmen moving swiftly in their white clothing, the defenders otherwise had no way of noticing their assailants before it’d be too late.

Clemons and his squad neared the cabin, the officer having returned inside. Without slowing, the First Sergeant bounded up the steps and slammed shoulder-first through the front door. He rolled, returning to his feet, running right past several Chosen soldiers as they were momentarily paralyzed by their shock. The other Guardsmen, taking advantage of the situation, cut the soldiers down before they could draw their weapons.

Clemons didn’t wait for his men as he disappeared into a back room. Soldiers from upstairs, responding to the noise, rushed down to effectively cut off the First Sergeant from his men. The Bane Chosen soldiers, outnumbered two-to-one by the Royal Guard, showed no fear as they drew their weapons and rushed forth.

Their effort was in vain. The elite of the Royal Guard, handpicked and trained by Clemons, killed the small group of soldiers without a second of hesitation. Not a word spoken, half of the squad split off and headed upstairs to clear the rest of the cabin. The other six men started toward the back room, a loud raucous now sounding from there.

The sight they beheld finally caused the Guardsmen to break their discipline, allowing themselves a laugh. Two Bane Chosen soldiers lay dead, hunched over a table, the officer handling his sword in a desperate attempt to defend himself. The First Sergeant, weapon down to his side, laughed and jeered at the man.

“Come now, drop the act,” Clemon’s continued to laugh heartily, “you’re pathetic.”

The officer’s face was flush with rage as he ran at the First Sergeant. Clemon’s easily parried the man’s weapon, each time sending the officer’s swing wide and leaving his entire body defenseless. Letting a moment of arrogance cloud his judgement, Clemon’s was nearly caught off-guard as the officer brandished a dagger in the hand of his free arm and took a swing for the grizzled Guard’s throat.

Clemons ducked back, narrowly avoiding the daggers point, while bringing his weapon up with both hands to deflect a blindside swing from the officer’s sword. He released his right hand and brought it down like a hammer on the officer’s wrist, the dagger clattering to the floor. At the same moment he spun his blade down and from the left, cutting across the officer’s knee.

The screeching noise coming from the man was silenced as Clemons stepped forward, slamming his right elbow into the man’s face. An audible pop could be heard as the officer fell to the floor. His face was slightly askew, his nose shattered and jaw out of place.

First Sergeant Clemons kicked the officer’s sword to the side and placed his foot firmly against the man’s groin, holding him in place.

“Get this scum,” he applied more pressure with his foot as he spoke, “out of here.”

Looking the Bane Chosen officer in the eye as he was hefted to his feet, Clemon’s made him a promise, “You’ll tell us about these conduits, Major. Then…” The First Sergeant picked the dagger up from the floor, hefting it in his hand, smiling.

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