Boston in Summer

Episode 9: Scouts, Advance!

Carlin transforms into a giant party. The knights and soldiers and various citizens are drinking themselves blind, bells are ringing, fires burning, general chaos. D’Argo immediately sets out to find the tiniest blond girl he can, succeeds, and passes out in an alley afterwards with her using him as a pillow. Rygel gets in with the Baron of Carlin, possibly setting up some trading deals in the future (if there is a future) and wakes up in a very nicely appointed guest room. Aeryn and Crichton hang around with the Knights until they all crash in the barracks. On the next morning, the party and the Knights regroup and discuss plans. It’s quickly decided that they will ride south with the Knights to Hull, there to report to Arthur and Merlin and devise a new plan. They set out with a few hundred knights and squires. Camping overnight, the sentries are killed and half their horses stolen. Most are forced to ride double. Rygel imperiously tells his peasant companion to get fucked and takes the horse for himself.

At Hull the group is treated to a feast courtesy of the Earl in residence. On the following morning Arthur holds a general audience, seeing petitioners as the rest of the knights and nobles mingle. The group convinces Lancelot to clear the hall so they can talk to Arthur in private, which he does with gusto. That done, they request that Arthur lend them the support of a handful of scouts so that they can venture to Stonehenge and gather information, possibly disrupting whatever magical forces they find there. Arthur volunteers Tristan and five more rangers by the end of the day. They set out just as night falls, by a back gate out of the city. Following a day or so behind them are to be the remaining fifty Bostonian irregulars and several hundred knights and men-at-arms.

As they ride the three-day journey, the party comes under attack on a wooded trail, arrows flying out from the trees. Tristan’s rangers jump from their horses and into the woods. D’Argo charges into the trees, disemboweling a bandit before snapping his neck. Aeryn and Crichton team up to firestorm half the bandits, leaving them easy prey for the rangers. They fight well, though, taking out one of the rangers with an arrow in the throat. The other bandits drop under fire from the party members and the rangers. D’Argo takes the only handful of coins found on the bodies, to pay his next prostitute.

The ride continues. Tristan stops them a mile or so short of their objective, a long ridge providing the best overlook onto the Salisbury Plain and Stonehenge. The group camps the night and sets out before morning, splitting up into solitary scouts and approaching the ridge carefully to look over. Rygel stays behind, having little skill at subtlety. On the plain, Stonehenge glows with a diffuse blue-green light, and there are no persons or beings visible inside the circle. Outside is a tight perimeter of armed faeries, and beyond them scattered camps and groups with a roughly three-hundred-meter radius, totaling several thousand faeries at least, at a quick count.

D’Argo, up on the ridge, having utterly failed to camouflage himself, feels a tap on his shoulder. Six Gruffs with clubs and mauls stand behind him. He jumps into action, attacking with great sweeps that hit several at once. He dazes the first with a blow to the head, trips another, breaks the legs of a third, but after a few frustrating exchanges they start to work together, pushing him off balance before attacking. It doesn’t help that he slips in the wet grass and falls prone. They beat him into submission, breaking his wrist and giving him a rather severe concussion before he decides to play dead. Hearing his calls for help, Aeryn runs in at full tilt, shouting and firing at the Gruffs. All hell breaks loose here. The Gruffs beat on Aeryn for a while as she tries to pick them off with her rifle. Crichton and Tristan quickly arrive, giving fire support, while Rygel rides in with the horses in tow, attempting with the help of another ranger to lift D’Argo into the saddle – which of course fails. The last Gruff standing attempts to run back to the faerie camps, despite a large gunshot wound. Two more gunshots and a flamestrike finally drop him to the ground. While the group catches their breath and gets D’Argo on a horse, the last scout rides up with a warning: all of the faeries below are heading up the ridge, towards them. Time to run!

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