The war against Brimone was afoot, and here Mary and Tostig were - unable to join in once again. They both hated being left out, as things clashed and clattered outside the walls of fabric they were made to stay in. It wasn't fair. Ead could go. Ethelbald could go. Even Gwyn could go. But Mary and Tostig - the young girl and the handicap? Apparently they were more of a liability than the withering old witch of Greenloch.
“Stupid,” Mary muttered.
“Idiots,” Tostig assented.
“I'm a fully-fledged mercenary, you know that? I've fought in a number of wars before. How is it that I keep getting stuck with you?”
“Oh please, Mary,” said Tostig dismissively, “You look the greenest thing on the frontier. You've lived eighteen years and fought in - what? - one, two, three wars? I'm an assassin. I've spent my whole life just killing people.”
“And kidnapping them,” Mary pointed out.
“That wasn't the point,” Tostig snapped, “I'm valuable. I shouldn't be left here to babysit you.”
“Erm, I might be seeing things, but correct me if I'm wrong - you have only one arm. If anybody's babysitting anybody - I'm babysitting you.”
“Oh, shut up.”
“Well, you've been whingeing long enough.”
Before Tostig could put in another comeback, one of the soldiers came barging into the tent.
“Miss Mary?” he said. Tostig furrowed his brows at the soldier who had apparently decided to ignore his existence.
“Yes?” she replied, standing up.
The soldier lifted a flap and gestured outside, “We have a situation,” he said.
Mary strode out of the tent. Her eyes widened. Upon the walls of the Brimonian fortress, men dropped like flies - Brimonians and Eversbians alike - blood dripping down the withered stone like rain.
“The... situation seems to be-” said the soldier,
“Where are you, human!” called a raspy voice. One of the turrets high on the Brimonian wall exploded - sending shards of stone and mangled limbs flying in all directions, “I know you're here! Show yourself! That I might teach you something about the Witch-Queen's power!” a dark figure appeared on top of the wall, turning his head this way and that, as if scanning the land. One of his hands was covered by a large hook that caught the sunlight, but his face wasn't visible due to the shadow cast over it by the brim of his hat.
“The, er, situation seems to be calling for your blood,” the soldier finished.
Mary paused, “You want me,” she said, “to go up against that?”
“The Lord and Lady request your assistance,” the soldier said sheepishly.
“You saw that, right? You saw what he did to the wall, and the people?”
“The Lord and Lady request your assistance, miss.”
“You're a right arse,” Mary said stepping out of the tent. The figure was still howling his raspy curses, but he wasn't standing atop the wall anymore. She placed her hands on her hips and stared pensively at the wall.
“Well, this is what you were asking for,” Tostig mumbled from the tent.
Mary put a hand on the hilt of the Damascus and strode her way towards the bloodshed. She gave a single nod in Tostig's direction. She shoved her way passed the frantic soldiers and resisted the urge to flinch as a screaming man crashed down beside her. She looked at him, and couldn't help but gag at the all unnatural angles at which his limbs were pointing. He was Brimonian.
That meant she needed his uniform.
Mary knelt down and stripped the armour and undergarments off the man's body, trying her best not to pull off his broken limbs. Once she had removed the clothing, she looked around for someone she knew.
“May I ask what it is you're doing?” he said, making his way to her.
“I understand that the Eversbian rulers are looking for me?” Mary replied.
“I see,” said Ead, “but my query was pointed elsewhere. Why are you nudifying that broken man?”
“Nudifying? Is that even a word?”
“I want to get close to the dark figure that's causing all this trouble. If I get into these clothes, I might be able to sneak up on him.”
“...Are you aware-” as if on cue, more dismembered limbs rained from the sky, “-of what this man is capable of?”
Mary shivered in revulsion as she pulled a finger out of her hair, “Don't ask stupid questions.”
“Don't form stupid plans.”
“Do you have a better one?” Mary snapped.
“Right, then. Find me a tent, I'll get dressed and kill him. I'll fly a flag or holler for you up from the turrets to signal my success.”
Ead gestured to a tent, “And I shall speak fondly of you at your funeral.”
Mary stepped into the tent and got herself dressed quickly, seeing that everything was strapped in snuggly. The chain-mail and the tunic were a little big, but the thick belt she strapped around her hips made them secure. The red coat was loose, but this was manageable and did well in hiding her figure. The trousers she trimmed at the bottom and tucked into her own boots. Mary sheathed the Damascus at her side. She marvelled at how comfortable it had grown on her - even of it was still heavy. She tied up her hair and secured it into the red tricorne that was part of the uniform.
When she stepped out, Ead passed her a yellow band.
“Put it on your arm,” he said, “In the melee, the Brimonians shouldn't notice it, but it'll be signal enough not to attack you. I'll try to get the word out.”
Mary nodded and began to walk towards the walls of the Brimonian fortress.
“Oh, and Mary,” said Ead. He watched Mary pause in her step, “good luck. Please try not to die.”