3. Welcoming Committee

The armour worn by the approaching men wasn’t exactly Roman legionary level, but not far off.

“I think someone’s coming.” No one heard me, even though I said it quite loud. No surprise. I turned around and cupped my hands around my mouth. “Oi! Company.” I jerked a thumb towards the trees behind me.

Having got their attention, the others all swarmed towards me. And then past me.

As they all rushed to see who was coming, I noticed how many of the girls were dressed in skimpy outfits. Possibly a strange time to be checking out the ladies, what with potential murderers about to hack us all to death, but everyone deserves a last meal. The pretty, dark-haired girl who helped me earlier wore a particularly cute silky number. She hurried past taking great care not to look in my direction.

The last of the stragglers was a black guy who really stood out from the crowd. He had an untidy afro, teeth that didn’t seem to fit in his mouth and he was wearing a onesie decorated with characters from the movie Batman, the Tim Burton one. Fair play to him, he was dressed for both comfort and warmth. He even had his feet covered, which would help if we had to make a run for it.

He squinted as he stumbled towards me. I swiftly turned and chased after the others. Just as Pretty Girl didn’t want to get stuck with me, I didn’t want to get stuck with him.

I only took a few steps before the crowd started backing into me. The men in the trees had emerged. There was one leader, identifiable by his superior armour and flashier sword, followed by six men carrying swords without fancy engravings on their blades, which looked very sharp nonetheless.

“Please remain calm,” said the leader. “I am Captain Lari Grayson. I’m here to help.”

I could understand what he was saying, but for some reason it didn’t feel like English. If I stared at his lips as he spoke, the words didn’t quite fit. But this made it harder to listen to what he was saying, so I decided to concentrate on that instead.

“The first thing we need to do is get moving. It’s about an hour’s walk to town, and then we’ll get you some clothes and food.” And there was no accent, just a neutral tone.

Nervous muttering started to spread.

“Where are we?”

“Why are we here?”

“What’s going on?”

From their voices all of the other people seemed to be British, with accents ranging from north to south.  

“I know you all have questions, and I’ll be happy to answer them once we get back, but it isn’t safe to stay here. Nothing my men can’t handle, but it would be better to avoid trouble. There’s more of you than we were expecting, so it’s important we stick together. If we are attacked, don’t panic and run off. And don’t try to help. Just stay behind us, we’ll take care of it.”

“Attacked? What does that mean?”

“Attacked by who?”

“What the hell are you talking about?”

All excellent questions, and more than adequately answered by the huge monster that burst into the clearing, smashing through the trees with a deafening roar.

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