Good Grief

The sky shifted all hues of pinks and purples, as the sun set over the horizon. The fields of Bree-land, on the road towards Trestlebridge, near the fork in the road that lead to the little port of Trader’s Wharf, was basked in the rosy light of the sunset. It was peaceful and it seemed like nothing in the world could break this beautiful tranquillity.

Blodflaed, the shieldmaiden and commanding officer of the Black Steel, clip-clopped along the paved road atop her great warsteed, that she’d brought back to Bree after journeying with the creature from the Mark to Gondor over a year ago now. Beside her and the great steed, padded Blodflaed’s dear hound, Grim. The large black mastiff trotted along happily, wagging his tail back and forth, keeping a watchful eye on his master and best friend.

The shieldmaiden kept moving along the path, with saddlebags full of Rohirric goods that she’d bought from the Trader’s Wharf directly. Her eyes kept on the road, casually leaning back some in the saddle as the calm and steady journey went on. Grim, on the other hand, began to slow his pace, a scent catching his attention. It smelt foul, like unwashed skin, greasy hair and old smoke. Grim’s instincts told him something bad was about to happen and that he had to protect his master. Growling lowly, the black mastiff ran off the path, with the intent to scare off whoever that bad smell belonged to.

Blodflaed, on the other hand, stopped her steed as her hound ran off the road, behind some rocks a little way in the distance. She’d raise her brow, turning the horse around to start to head off road to retrieve her dog, not really thinking anything of it, than just Grim catching the scent of a deer or a boar. As soon as the horse put one hoof off the road, however, Blodflaed was made aware that not everything was at it seems.

Grim yelped loudly behind the rocks, kicked in the side by a slimy old brigand with steel capped boots. All instincts flared up in the hound, teeth snapping quickly at the brigand’s arm, catching it quickly and locking in, the flesh pierced easily.

“Go!” snapped the pained brigand, “Kill the shieldmaiden and I’ll.. deal with this stupid mutt!”

Blodflaed, drawing her sword and shield, leaving her horse behind, out of harms way, started to walk off the path when she saw three brigands emerge from behind the rock as Grim’s growls and whimpers echoed out. The shieldmaiden looked appalled, calling out to the men, “Oi! What do you think you’re doing to my dog?!”

They didn’t answer with words, one of the brigands held a crossbow, aiming it at the shieldmaiden and firing. Raising her shield just in time as the bolt imbedded itself in the wood, Blodflaed defended the shot at her, cursing underneath her breath.

“What do you want from me?!” yelled Blodflaed, desperately trying to locate where Grim could be, hoping her dog perseveres this seemingly random ambush.

“We… want to kill you – so shut up and die now!” cackled the brigand with the crossbow.

The other two brigands began to advance, one wielding a large two handed axe, the other carrying twin axes. They had wide grins on their faces, so confident that they could take down the lone shieldmaiden. They run in, weapons raised, going in two a combined attack from the get go.

Blodflaed sighs lightly, steeling herself for the upcoming skirmish, before raising her shield into a defensive stance, whilst her sword hangs lowly by her side... Her shield shifts to the right, causing the two axes to bounce back off it with force. She'd merely move her right leg back with a heavy step, keeping a sturdy stance, to avoid the axe to the leg. Her expression is now focused, all emotion gone, as she deftly raises her sword for a downwards flick towards the man with the two axes, aiming to pierce into his leg where the armour does not cover. Speaking in an unemotional voice she speaks, loudly and firmly, "I am a shieldmaiden of the Mark. I fought in the great war against the Shadow and I lived. If you want death, death shall happen here today, but I cannot assure you that it shall be I who dies today... If it is, well, good grief, I'd have preferred a more glorious death..."