Bow Before The Sun

Mauro XII

Mauro entered his chambers exhausted and in a very foul mood, making sure to lock the door behind him. The servants of course had already tidied things here since he left and lit a candle on the table after dark had fallen. Mauro’s knee was throbbing with discomfort. The feast and his confrontation with Norillo had him moving around the keep more than usual this night. The price for so much activity was always pain.

Pentoshi Pig! He muttered inwardly. It would have felt so good to put my steel through your neck!

Groaning, Mauro decided not to bother limping all the way across the room towards his bedside. Instead he settled for a nearer target, the small table where he normally ate his meals. In his hand he held a pitcher of strongwine. At least I have this!… He thought, sitting heavily into a chair and pouring the wine into a cup. The look on the servants face when he’d strong-armed them in the hall to seize the wine was quite amusing. They’d tried to protest of course, explaining the wine was for someone named Desmond Sand, lady Farra’s own bastard grandson.

It made no difference to Mauro of course who the wine was intended for. As far as he was concerned he needed it more then they did. “Tell Desmond he can have words with Mauro Drokhe if I’ve given offense. But please do warn him I am in a very foul mood and likely to be drunk.” He’d said, cringing at the memory of what that encounter must have been like for that poor servant.

Well done Mauro! You were just pleading with the maester to take Norillo seriously as a threat to house Oakdown, but that red-bearded devil hasn’t behaved so rudely as you have this night. He chastised himself, lifting the cup of wine to his lips gulping it down shamefully.

His thoughts after that first cup grew increasingly hazy. He vaguely remembered trying to stand to reach the bed after he emptied the pitcher, but as soon as he put weight on his knee again he instantly collapsed. Pain opened the door to blackness and sweet oblivion…
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A sound woke Mauro, though at first he couldn’t remember what it was so it felt like he was dreaming. But then he heard it again. A dull THUNK sound, of something heavy dragging across the floor. A sound he recognized very easily, since he himself had thrown a grappling hook or two through a window once or twice. Intruders?! His mind said in alarm, forcing him to open his eyes and take account of himself.

He was lying splayed out on the floor of his chambers in a puddle of his own drool. His knee still throbbed, but not so badly now. The room was dark, which meant the candle had time to burn out. There was only a dim predawn light spilling through the open window of his chambers. Rolling over, he saw the grappling hook pulled taught against his windowsill wrapped in cloth to muffle the sound. Sometimes I hate being right! He thought to himself blinking and struggling to rise.

His knee inflamed with pain once more, but Mauro clenched his jaw and fought the blackness that tried to swallow him again. Standing now, he drew his dirk and estimated the number of steps to his window. Nine steps… nine chances to collapse and fall again, but he had to get closer to be sure he’d be able to strike first at whatever assassin would attempt to climb through it.

One step, two steps, three steps… each time he put weight on his knee he doubted he could take another, but he forced himself to keep going. Norillo is behind this! Mauro thought to himself, feeling his smoldering hate for the Pentoshi flare up within him once more. He also had a thought for lady Charlotte. Are assassins already climbing through her window?! He wondered, wishing with all his heart that he could run to her rescue instead of limping his way towards his window like a crippled, drunken fool. Each step felt like an eternity, but he knew he didn’t have a moment to spare. He had to get to the window first, his life, and possibly others depended on it!

Finally at last, he reached the wall beside the window and pressed his back to it. Mauro did his best to slow his breathing, to be still and quiet, but his heartbeat thumped so loudly it felt like a drumbeat in his chest. Then suddenly, a gloved hand gripped the windows frame as a form started to climb through. Mauro waited for a leg to pass over the windowsill before he lunged. Mauro knew he’d be at a disadvantage trying to fight this person on his feet in his present condition. Better to even the odds by stabbing the intruders thigh while his other hand reached for the mans throat, pulling him to the floor with all the strength he could muster!

The assailant would have screamed as soon as soon as Mauro’s steel sank into his leg, but Mauro’s fingers were already seizing his throat strangling him before he had a chance. The pair of them fell to the floor before the window, a tangle of violent limbs. Mauro pressed his initiative by twisting his dirk in his assailants leg as painfully as he could manage, feeling the man jerk and convulse beside him, frustrating his efforts to pull Mauro’s hand free of his neck. But then Mauro noticed that he wouldn’t have the upper hand for long… another assassin was about to climb through the window and join the fray!

Instinctively Mauro did the only thing he could. He pulled his dirk free of the assassins leg and threw it at the second intruder. Thankfully his aim was true as it plunged into the base of the mans throat. The intruders hands grasped for the hilt, but in so doing he also un-anchored himself from the window and fell backwards… arms pinwheeling in the air before he fell like a stone.

The effort of dispatching the second intruder loosened Mauro’s grip on the first and he felt the man struggle with renewed vigor. Now unarmed, Mauro used both hands to grapple with his foe, but quickly realized he was outmatched in raw strength. Mauro resorted to dirty tactics, pressing his good knee down hard on the mans wound making him recoil so Mauro had a chance to reach for another dirk in his boot.

However, the assassin also seized the chance to draw his own dagger and rolled away from Mauro. Now separated, both holding short blades and only favoring one leg, they eyed each other on more equal terms like coiled snakes.

Mauro: “You have no chance to get out of here alive unless you surrender!”

Assassin: “We’ll see about that!” {Glances at the rope and grappling hook as if to reassure himself they were still there}

Mauro: “Ah, so you think you’ll get out the same way you got in. But you forgot one thing.”

Assassin: “Whats that?”

Mauro: “Your friend probably made quite a mess when he took a splat on the stones before the doors of the armory below. The guards will have noticed that I’m sure. As we speak they are raising the alarm. A detachment will soon be searching all the chambers overlooking the armory looking for more intruders.”

The assassin glares, blood soaking his leg. Mauro could see the desperation in his eyes and decided more intimidation was in order. He reached down with his other hand to grab his second dirk in his other boot. Now wielding one in each hand he let a wicked, half-mad grin spread across his face.

Mauro: “I’m right here, go ahead and kill me if you think you can. I’m eager to poke you full of holes!” {Clashes the dirks together in a flurry of quick hand-movements until the blades start to spark against each other.}

Mauro originally developed that little display to impress ladies in the free cities, but sometimes it also made a foe think twice before tangling with him. And indeed it seemed to serve just as well on this occasion.

Assassin: “I surrender!” He says, dropping his dagger and collapsing to the floor in a defeated heap. “Spare me!” He begs.

Mauro feels great relief wash over him. What do we say to the god of death? …Not today!

Comments

Just so!

Mauro XII
MrNarrator Narayan

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