The town was empty. All the people of the small fief had left. Not a sound came from the houses. The hotel was closed for the day. The only disturbance in the village was the wind picking up the newspapers on the road.
People around the area thought that the sound was coming from the village. According to them, the town was in complete uproar around this time. Apparently not. The town was completely deserted.
The riders stood at the center of the road. The wind picked up the edges of their dark cloaks and held them suspended in the air. The horses were silent. Not a snort or stomp came from them. The animals might have been considered as mysterious as the riders were. The tall rider kicked his horse into action and the other followed. The two rode through the empty town with ease. No one came out of the houses to question them. They had no problem going through the village. It was what was outside that was a little difficult.
They followed the sound of people cheering and screaming. That was where they would find the towns folk. They would be out in the fields; committing crimes. That was why the riders were heading there. They were to set things straight.
The people didn't see the horses at the top of the hill. They were too busy chanting and fighting. There was a stage set up in the center of the crowd. They were in a dip in the land. There were forests surrounding a large amount of the area giving them some cover from any attackers. Even though the riders came from an open area where they could easily be seen, the crowd paid no attention to them. The lead rider turned his horse and they rode to the forests. There, they would wait and watch.
A man stood on the stage set up. The crowd's eyes were on him. He smiled. These people were like dumb sheep, lost in the world. Until he came along they had no shepherd to guide them and stop them from doing anything stupid. Because of the fief's baron's death the people had been led off track of their usual productive ways. Now, this man, this stranger, had come to lead them to a better position. The people, the sheep, didn't know any better. They listened to him. And didn't notice the crime they were committing.
The man shouted to the roaring crowd. He spoke about the King, and how the people didn't need a man like him. They were free to do what they wanted. They didn't need a man to oppress them and control them. The people, lost in the wilderness, agreed.
The man kept shouting, but he did notice some disturbance in the crowd. Someone was shoving their way through the people. They were coming directly towards him. He tried to ignore it, telling himself that it was just an eager villager wanting to get closer to his glory. But he couldn't help but feel suspicious. Especially when he noticed the dark cloak the villager was wearing. What a strange thing for a farmer to wear. In the setting sun, the figure looked a little darker than what he seemed but the man was still on edge.
He side stepped slightly as if that would help him feel better. No use, the stranger was now closer than ever. He finally couldn't stand it. He turned to his guards.
"Stop him!" He said in a thick accent. The guards nodded and raised their weapons to the figure who was now stepping onto the stage. Most of the crowd had fallen silent and were watching with confusion. The stranger stepped forward and the guards thrust their weapons forth. The hooded man ducked and pulled out a knife to push the javelins ends aside. The guards went slightly off balance and the hooded man yanked one of the javelins out of one of the guard's hands. He hit the javelin on his knee and snapped it in half, tossing aside the broken pieces. The guard with no weapon charged forward with a battle cry and got ready to land a blow on the hooded stranger. The man sidestepped from the coming blow and grabbed the fist of the guard, twisting his wrist and kicked the guard off the stage. The guard fell in the dirt, wailing about his broken wrist.
The last guard stared at the stranger in terror. A slight smirk almost touched the rider's lips, but the guard caught no sight of such a smile. Instead he held his ground ready for the stranger to attack first. The rider raised his arms slightly, as if obliged to attack first. He bounced on his toes for a moment facing his opponent before running forward. The guard blinked and in that second the stranger had ducked between the guards legs and swept his leg in a way to take the guard down. The guard lost his balance and toppled over on the stage. The hooded figure then kicked the guard again and again until the guard stumbled over the stage.
The guard ran off leaving the stranger facing the man who caused the uproar in the village.
"Surrender, Gallican!" The rider ordered nearing the man. The Gallican raised his hands in surrender before pulling out a sword. The rider stopped quickly before the blade of his opponent pierced his throat.
"No, you surrender." The Gallican smirked. He raised his hand and was about to strike the rider before he felt excruciating pain in his hand. The sword dropped from his hand and he screamed. He looked down and saw an arrow lodged in the palm of his hand. The moment he saw the arrow, the pain got worse. He grinded his teeth and looked to the crowd from where the arrow came from. The people stared at him with shock. They all looked dumbfounded. All, except one.
Another hooded figure from the crowd lowered their bow and faced the Gallican. He thought he caught a smirk on the figure's lips. He turned back to the other hooded man facing him and saw the man lift up his sword that he dropped on the ground. The rider looked at him as his companion stepped onto the stage beside him.
"You are under arrest for the various crimes you committed, including robbery, and speaking out against the King of Araluen." The first rider said with authority. Murmurs of surprise rose from the crowd. The second rider turned to crowd, raising his arms to gesture for their attention.
"Alright everybody listen up!" The Gallican was surprised to hear the rider's voice belong to a woman. "We need everyone to return to town and hang there for a while. My friend and I will return to you all and ask some clarifying questions. If you would all please cooperate that would be much appreciated and you will not be harmed." The female rider finished lowering her arms to her sides.
The Gallican who was now being cuffed by the first rider stared at the female with wide eyes. She turned to him and crossed her arms.
"Who are you?" He asked, his thick accent making it hard for the riders to understand him. The female stranger smirked and it was the first rider who responded.
"Can't you tell? We're the King's Rangers."
Written by: Nerida Treaty