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Heroes of Mystara - Chapter 20

by Jesper Andersen

Revenge of the Iron Ring

The first thing he registered, when he regained consciousness was the sound of running water. He felt the ground beneath him rock slowly but he wasn't lying on the ground. When he opened his eyes he saw tree branches and a bit of a clear blue sky. A bird was sitting on a branch, watching him it seemed.

The next thing he registered was unfamiliar voices around him, off to his left. He could taste blood in his mouth and his head was throbbing with pain. He tried to sit up but realised that his hands were bound on his back. His feet were bound with heavy rope as well. Slowly, he turned his head and saw a number of men on the bank of a river going through their saddlebags.

Thaminor looked around him. They were on a crude raft on the riverbank. Petja, Ikaros, Whitemane, Eveil, Wulfgar. They were all there. Tied up and helpless.

'What about this?' one of the men on the riverbank asked another. He was holding Ikaros' journal in his hands and gesturing towards a bonfire. Much of their clothes and other belongings were already burning.

'No, keep it. I think it will interest Master B...'

He didn't get to finish his sentence before a large, bald-shaven man stepped up to him and slapped him across the face with a gauntlet-clad fist. 'Keep your mouth shut and get on with it!' he shouted and grabbed the journal out of the other man's hands.

They could all do nothing but watch as most of their belongings were tossed onto the bonfire. The bandits kept a few of their weapons, Ikaros' spellbook and journal and their rations. Whatever magical items they had possessed had been removed before they woke up.

The bald man stepped out into the river at looked at them. They could see a vicious glee in his dark eyes and he lit up in a smile as he spoke:

'We didn't reach you in time to stop you from delivering the dispatches to the tribune. It does not matter much. This lesson will be a signal to all. If you cross the Iron Ring you will die!'

The large man in the green hood stepped from the bank into the water and started to push the raft out into the middle of the water.

'This river will take you back to Ierendi City' the bald leader said. 'Of course, there is a waterfall three miles down the river so you might no be sitting on the raft by then' he added with an evil smile.

'Take care not to get wet feet!' the green hooded man said with a stupid grin as he gave the raft a final push out into the river.

'Well, you've already got wet feet' Wulfgar said mockingly.

With a dissatisfied grunt the large man gave the raft a violent shove and headed back towards the riverbank.

'Hey! *******!' Wulfgar shouted to the bald-headed leader. 'I am gonna find you, and when I do - I am gonna gut you like a fish!' the barbarian added with a smile.

For a moment the bald man looked worried, then he regained his composure and answered: 'I seriously doubt that!'

The raft started to flow down the stream and soon the bandits on the riverbank were out of sight. To begin with the current was not too strong but it gradually quickened and before long they were headed towards a series of white foamed rapids with sharp rocks jutting out of the water left and right...

Next time: Rafting