“Thy face itself, it puts me in a rage.
I must hold myself back with all my might,
Or else I’d call thee out right up on a stage.”
The bard looked up a few lines in and found Oswalt staring up at her in confusion, brow furrowed as if he were angry but wasn’t sure why.
“What is it about thee that irks me so?
Am I the only person who can see?
Now, foul wretch, prepare thyself for a blow,
For here comes a smackdown for thee, from me.”
Oswalt’s face had turned an unpleasant color like a raspberry a few stages past ripe. “How dare you call me a wretch?” He lunged at the bard, but she skipped backwards out of his grasp and continued.
“Thou art devil spawn, a child of Satan,
Horrid, ancient evil straight from scripture.
Thou would not be loved by gods most pagan;
Of things corrupt, thou’d be the victor.”
The towering man roared senselessly, scrabbling at the rock before him in an attempt to reach the bard. She hoped desperately that the mage would make his move soon, because she only had two lines left.
“I shall not call you out by thy crude name,
Return to the depths from whence thee – “
There was a bright flash, and then Oswalt’s roars were cut off abruptly. The silence was so complete that the bard could hear creaking, like that of falling tree, as Oswalt keeled over, revealing the slight frame of the mage.
” – came,” the bard finished, eyes wide. She grinned at the mage, who lowered his upraised hand and returned the grin with one of his own. Folding the sonnet up and stuffing it in her pocket, the bard dropped off the boulder and crouched to peer at the fallen giant. “Wow. What did you do to him?”
“Just a stunning spell amplified by three.” The mage stared down at his hands as if taken aback by his own power.
“He’ll be fine if we leave him? I mean, he was trying to harm us, but I don’t want him to be eaten by wolves or anything like that.”
“I imagine Oswalt will be awake before dusk has totally fallen, but just in case . . .” The mage flicked his wrist, and a few specks of light floated down from his fingers to Oswalt. “There. A simple protection spell.”
Still beaming, the bard turned to the mage and held up a palm. “We took this guy out. Teamwork for the win!”
The mage high-fived her. “Yeah, that was pretty awesome. And speaking of teamwork . . . we should probably fetch our other team member.”
They turned away from Oswalt and began to walk to where the mage had hidden the warrior.
“Do you think Oswalt will come after us again?” the bard asked.
The mage shook his head. “No, I think he’s finally learned not to mess with us.”
A voice came from the grass a few yards away, startling the bard. “Because you don’t mess with the Three Musketeers if you know what’s good for you!”
The mage led the bard off the path to where the warrior was curled up like a fawn in the grass. He grinned up at his companions, eyelids fluttering under the weight of sleep.
“I’m pretty sure that name has already been taken,” the bard told him. She bent to help the warrior clamber to his feet. “But I bet that between the three of us, we can come up with something just as catchy.”
“That should be a task to keep you awake for a few more hours, right?” the mage teased. “We need to reach Kulreach before nightfall if we want to stay on schedule.”
“I’ll give it . . .” The warrior blinked sleepily. “. . . two hours before you two are outright carrying me. . .”
With the warrior stumbling between the mage and the bard, the three companions retrieved their belongings and picked up their journey right where they had left off. But the bard, though she did not yet know it, had only just started her own journey into using words as weapons of her own.