The day started quite promisingly. It was Carlton's turn to scavenge. He stepped outside, closed the door behind him, took two steps and was shot by a sniper.
"We can't leave him out there!" Aberdeen protested. Outside, they could hear the old man was groaning in pain.
"Look," Grathier said acidly. "If he can crawl back inside, then I'll do something about it. But I don't feel like being shot today!"
She cringed at his words and he rolled over on the floor, determined to sleep the night off. It was still raining hard and he decided that was a good thing. The men outside couldn't burn their stronghold down around them.
It wasn't easy, but he drifted into a light, dreamless sleep. He woke up around midday, feeling better. Carlton had stopped groaning outside and Aberdeen had fallen asleep herself. He didn't mind, since an intruder would need to make a lot of noise to gain entry anyway. He lay there on the ground, listening to the sporadic sniper fire. He guessed there were three of them, and he knew the sound of Kashka's rifle anywhere. Two were up the hill, while his sergeant was off to the south in the hills.
"For fuck's sake woman," he muttered to the ceiling. "Just go south and fetch Bravo Company for us."
She didn't need to. At what must have been mid-afternoon, heavy fighting erupted at the gate. He had carved several loopholes into the walls the other day and one gave partial observation on the fight. It was a mess of footman against footman. He watched them for a time, unable to render assistance - the gate was over a hundred yards away, and the only weapon of his that could reliably fire at that range was his broken rifle.
So he watched. It was the courtyard yesterday all over again. The outnumbered gate guards were winning because the marines were turning on one another out of paranoia. Did Dumberlin have men in their ranks too? Probably.
In the end, Bravo Company broke and scattered. Most fled back to the forest while others made it inside to join the confusion. There was little left of the gate defence though. Even a small orc raiding party could overwhelm them easily.
They both went scavenging that night. Aberdeen took the shotgun and Grathier his two pistols and they split up.
He found a mass grave behind the Town Hall but the dead had already been looted. The entire scene faintly reeked of shadow magic, sort of a blend of burnt meat and an approaching storm. There was nothing useful to scavenge. He made his way to the Briny Barnicle.
The inn was still barricaded and Grathier tried banging on the door. Nobody replied and as he turned to leave, he was winged by a sniper. Shit! He dashed around the side of the building to take cover. He checked his arm. Fortunately it was just a graze and the bleeding had already stopped. Small victories, he supposed.
He remained there for a time. After about ten minutes, he saw two men on the road patrolling up the hill. Grathier watched them. One looked familiar, but he was too hungry to try and think about--
The familiar one looked at his buddy and he got a better look. It was Schuman. With that pendant.
"Son of a..." he muttered.
That was all of his rank accounted for now. Albert was dead, Bartholomew was gone, Kashka was on a hill shooting anything that moved and Schuman had sided with Dumberlin. He and his crony went up the hill and Grathier shadowed them. The sniper that had fired at him would definitely see these two but since nothing happened, Grathier assumed the shooter was on their side.
He was going to kill Schuman. To hell with surviving and to hell with caution. Schuman was a traitor and a poser, and around his neck was enough pendant to buy a small patch of land in Elwynn.
And it wouldn't even be murder. The lieutenant had forfeited his life when he sided with that traitor Dumberlin.
The pair skirted off the road and went around behind the barracks. Grathier drew his knife - the revolver was too loud and he only had six rounds left for it - and began to close.
Out of nowhere two more guards appeared and the four began conversing. Grathier abruptly stopped, turned and walked away instead.
"Halt!" one of the guards shouted. "Who goes there?!"
Grathier glanced back and noticed they were all looking at him. He kept walking, trying the incognito escape. That failed. He heard someone come after him and he broke into a sprint himself. He was weak from hunger but so were they. They were encumbered with armour as well. He ran back to the house and slammed the door behind him.
Aberdeen was there and pointed the shotgun at him in a panic. For a second, he thought she was going to fire. But then she lowered it and he slammed the door behind him.
"Company!" he said, going to the nearest loophole and peering outside.
"Give me the gun!"
She gave it to him. He had not run fast enough to enter the building out of their sight. In fact, he cursed himself for not thinking to lose them first before returning here. The four of them were running painfully slow. Schuman - the only one without a helmet - slipped and fell into the mud. Grathier chuckled at that.
He broke the shotgun open. It was loaded. The loophole was cut just big enough for both barrels and an eye. He rested the end of the barrel on the splintered wood, taking care not to let it protrude.
"Come a little closer, why don't you?" he said. "Aberdeen, are these slugs or shot?"
"Oh for fuck's sake." he snarled. "Let's hope they're slugs."
Shot would be useless against plate armour. Slugs wouldn't fare much better, but they stood a chance of at least injuring them. The lead man was twenty yards from the door when he fired.
They were slugs. The lead man fell but got back up with a dent in his breastplate. The slug had been defeated.
"Shit..." he said. "Aberdeen, grab a weapon!"
"I don't have one!" she wailed. "What do I do?!"
"Grab the chair then!" he snapped, taking position next to the door. "Bloody hell, do I have to think for you as well?!"
The door burst open. Grathier swung the shotgun like a club, aiming high. The stock connected with the first mans helmet as he ran inside, protecting him from harm but knocking him down all the same. He turned the weapon around so he was holding it properly and as the second man entered, Grathier stuck the barrel up underneath his chin and fired the second barrel. Attacker number two was dead before he hit the ground.
The next man was right on his comrade's heels and having seen the carnage, immediately turned on Grathier with a slash with his sword. Grathier caught the blow with the shotgun and tried to swing back like a club. Footman #3 surprised him with a front kick which sent him sprawling. He lost the shotgun. Aberdeen was in the far corner and held the chair out awkwardly, screaming for them to stay away from her. Footman #3 went for Grathier, who scrambled back. His position was too awkward to draw the revolver. So he went for his other pistol.
BLAM! Footman #3 screamed as his right kneecap exploded. Grathier's other pistol - a monster .50 calibre ball-and-powder percussion cap pistol - tore through the chainmail-covered joint and shattered the bone. He dropped the now empty pistol and got to his feet. Footman #1 was back on his feet as well and there was no sign of the Schuman yet. Grathier crash-tackled Footman #1 before he could react and they went sprawling.
The fight was sluggish. Both fighters were too weak and hungry to accomplish much. Grathier had mounted the other man and was attacking his head with his own helmet, but every hit was guarded and it achieved little. Footman #1 pushed him aside and tried to get up. The unarmoured Grathier was up faster and kicked the man in the head, putting him back down. The shotgun was on the ground near Aberdeen, still cowering with her chair. He went to grab it.
Footman #1 wrapped his legs up and Grathier fell forward. He tried to kick the man free. He noticed his enemy was reaching at something of his.
Grathier went for it but wasn't quick enough. The footman drew Barnaby's own boot knife and stabbed him in the calf with it. Grathier cried out in pain as Footman #1 twisted and removed the blade. He kicked the man in the face with his good leg and freed himself. Footman #1 slashed at him and he checked the cut with the sole of his boot.
"Aberdeen!" he shouted, removing some cartridges from his gunbelt and throwing them at her and the nearby shotgun. "The gun! The gun!"
She looked at him, dazed and confused. He pointed at the shotgun between them. Then she finally clicked and put the chair down. Grathier continued the horizontal battle against the footman, avoiding his slashes and kicking where he could. He couldn't get up quickly due tot he leg injury and neither could Footman #1 whom was too heavily encumbered. He saw Footman #4 at the door now.
Schuman just stood there for a moment. Aberdeen was struggling with the shotgun, hands shaking, trying to put a shell in the wrong way. The lieutenant surveyed the room, the dead soldier, the screaming soldier, the two men fighting on the ground in the middle and the woman in the far corner trying to load a shotgun. He advanced on Aberdeen with his blade.
Grathier still had his revolver and drew it on Schuman. The lieutenant simply kicked his hand away and the gun skittered across the room. He didn't have much energy left. He threw everything he had into an attack and lashed out at the man's legs.
He failed to knock him over, but it was enough to give Schuman pause. The lieutenant turned on him, shoved him off with his sabaton and stomped on his ribcage. Grathier heard something break, but somehow managed to lock his leg up with a bear hug. Footman #1 was back on his feet. Grathier looked up at Schuman who was getting ready to finish him off with a sword thrust.
He was looking up at his death.
"I'll be waiting." Grathier snarled.
Suddenly, the shotgun went off. He watched Lieutenant Schuman's head burst into a pink mist in time with the report. The entire room went quiet. The body crumpled lifelessly next to him. The other two footmen were looking at Aberdeen, who stood frozen in shock with the shotgun.
It was deathly silent but for the distant rain outside. Grathier agonisingly got to his feet, hopped over to her and took the shotgun which she passively relinquished. Footman #1 fled for the door before Grathier could act, taking the boot knife with him.
"No! No! NO!" Footman #3 wailed, still clutching his mangled kneecap as Grathier advanced on him. He grabbed the mans helmet by the plume and removed it, kicked him onto his back and unceremoniously shot him in the head.
"Fuck you all."