The Magic Company – Part 5
Up ahead, Rancliffe and his friends now saw a small, old fashioned village full of houses with thatched roofs but there was something run down about the place; no smoke rose from the chimneys of the houses and, looking more closely at the thatched roofs they could all see that they were sorely in need of repair because every roof had a large, gaping hole in it where rain could easily leak in.
“Whoever the thatcher is round here, they’re doing a really terrible job”, said Gavrin.
“It’s not just the roofs”, said Trev looking around him at the neglected village, “Whoever is running this place is doing the same shoddy job as the thatcher because this whole village is in ruins”.
And from every house that they passed they heard the sound of loud sobbing or cries of anger; ragged and barefooted children were running about on the dirty cobbled streets and, along either side of them as they walked, the poor, the sick and the crippled were begging for food.
“This place is a nightmare. What the hell happened here?”, asked Hallah.
Then, out of one of the houses they saw a winged angel emerge but her wings were grey with dirt
and she was blind and crippled, walking with a crutch.
When they asked the angel what had happened to her, she told them that she had been attacked by Harpies and that they had blinded her with their talons and broken her leg and one of her wings.
“The Magic Company sent them here. There used to be lots of us angels working here as teachers and healers and carers and helping the people free of charge because we, as magical beings, had the power to help them but The Magic Company doesn’t like anyone giving help to the sick or the poor for free. They believe that people should have to pay for everything and that those who can’t afford to pay should just have to suffer. We tried to fight the harpies at first; that’s how I received my injuries but, in the end, most of my people decided to give up and leave and only a few who still
had some fight left in them, like me, stayed”.
Then the angel wept and it moved the hearts of them all.
“Worry no more, dear angel”, said Rancliffe, passionately, “I and my friends have the weapons, the will and the skill to fight for the freedom of this village. Take us to these flying demons and let us vanquish them for you”.
So the angel took them to a part of the village where the harpies, huge vulture like creatures with
the heads of grotesque men and women, had congregated and were gleefully terrorizing the local people; swooping down and stealing their food, possessions and anything else their greedy claws could snatch hold of; even a bottle of milk from a baby’s crib.
“Now’s your chance”, said Rancliffe to his comrades, his eyes blazing with anger at the suffering of the people, “To see what you can do with those weapons of yours”.
And then the old man, dragging his granite left foot, strode up to one of the Harpies who looked like she was their leader.
“Turn your flock around and fly away”, said Rancliffe to her, “Or else I and my friends will fight you
and, afterwards, the starving people of this village will roast you and feast upon your dead carcass”.
Cackling, the aged Queen of the harpies looked the old man up and down, “You turn if you want to”, she said, “The harpies are not for turning”.
And, saying this, the foul queen of the harpies let out a terrifying shriek, that would have made a weaker man than Rancliffe shudder, and swung one of her sharp taloned hands towards the side of the wizard’s face.
The claws scratched deep into Rancliffe’s cheek and the harpy may have cut even deeper with those claws had it not been for Hallah’s bow which she swiftly raised and drew, planting an arrow deep inside the screaming harpies left eye.
Then, as fast as fire breaks out, a furious battle ensued between the terrifying harpy flock and Rancliffe’s band of brave warriors.
Wildly, the harpies darted at them like feathered lightning, swooping upon them from every angle and trying to claw them with their vicious talons or snap at them with their sharp, curved vampyre like teeth.
The vile creatures even tried to snatch away their weapons from their hands but they held on firmly
to them and kept fighting. Trev took his share of hairy, harpy heads with his swinging battle axe; Gavrin jabbed and stabbed his broadsword deep in the stone cold hearts of at least twenty and Hallah shot out their eyes and pinned their snapping jaws shut with her flashing arrows until all that was left of those hideous harpies was a bloody heap of their corpses on the ground.
“I am so very proud of you all”, said Rancliffe, looking round at his friends who were panting and exhausted; sweat dripping from their brows and blood running from their wounds, “You all fought like true heroes”.
“But at what cost?”, said Trev, sadly, wincing in pain and looking down at the deep red gash in his chest.
“Worry not, friend dwarf”, said another one of the angels approaching him and placing her hands upon his chest, “I am a healer and have the power to mend your wounds and, thanks to the courage of you and your friends, the angels can return to this village and help its people once more”.
General Motus screamed but those round about him felt no sympathy towards the armour-suited executive as the shadow of a giant finger tip spread across his up turned face and the rustle of the enormous brown paper bag in which he stood boomed like thunder and lightning all around him, then a great, terrifying voice echoed from the sky above.
“No room for losers”, it said as the chief strategy officer/snack food was seized between an enormous finger and thumb .