Clast gasped, lost somewhere between surprise and awe as he felt the benefits of the blessings Ismay had bestowed upon him. And then, slowly, he smiled. “Is that all of it?”
“No,” Ismay replied, running over the other gifts that Saint Birgit had entrusted him with in his mind. Some would have to wait until they had actually met the enemy in battle, but… “Hold out your weapon, sir Errant.”
Clast did so, offering the axe as if he expected Ismay to actually take it from him, but that wasn’t what he had in mind. “In the name of Birgit and our Lord God the Father, I bless this weapon. May it never be raised or swung in in malice, in hatred, or the service of evil, but be sure and true in the service of justice.”
Before both of their eyes, the metal head of the axe seemed to shine just a bit brighter, only when it was held in the sunset light. Quickly, Ismay also spoke blessings on his own rapier, and on their enterprise in general. He next thought of blessing Clast’s armor — and found that if such a blessing existed, it was not one that Birgit had entrusted him with. That seemed to be a somewhat strange omission, but he came across a prayer of safety from injury at dangerous times and recited it for both of them, and for the Hobgoblins’ prisoners, whoever they might be. “Alright, that’s about as much preparation as I can do in advance of the fight,” he said at last. “Lead on, Clast.”
Clast did so. “Try to move more quietly,” he whispered as they made their way into an invisible break through the undergrowth, less than half the width of a proper path. “I suppose I need not ask if Saint Birgit supported my quest.”
“I suppose not,” Ismay answered as quietly as he could. “She has given me much to think upon.”
“Any many great boons,” Clast observed. “I admit, I am curious about such things. Priests seldom explain much about the true nature of the relationship they have with their patron or God.”
“Usually that is true,” Ismay said. “But perhaps if we both survive the night and rescue the innocent victims, I might be persuaded to answer some of your questions.”
Clast nodded, and then shushed him, pointing ahead. Ismay realized that there was a clearing there, and people moving around. Not necessarily ‘people’ in the sense that he was familiar with them, though.
After they had both crept close to the last line of shrubs, and caught their breath, Clast held up his gloved hand where Ismay could see it, all five fingers spread, and began to lower them one at a time. Two heartbeats after the thumb had been brought down to complete Clast’s gathering fist, he sprung from cover, his shadow falling upon the hobgoblins as he charged out of the setting sun, from their perspective.
Ismay stepped forward, his sword drawn, but the weapon he first called on was his voice. “Hobgoblins, for your perfidy of trapping and feasting upon the Lord God’s chosen, his vengeance is approaching you. Renounce the eating of human flesh forever, or be cursed at this moment in the eyes of Jesus the Son.”
All of the dark and twisted figures were staggered when the curse landed. A few small hoblins scattered into the underbrush, like the mice fleeing Vasser’s stall after Ismay had blessed it with health, and one larger hob, perhaps a female, fell over and kicked vainly at the air. But there were still at least half a dozen left to immediately mob Clast, each one carrying a heavy wooden club or crudely fashioned bronze knife.
Ismay rushed to catch up, trying to think of another blessing or curse, or some prayer that would help in this situation. But nothing occured to him, and he realized sickly that he might have used up nearly all of the gifts that Birgit had entrusted to him. Now it would be Clast’s axe and his rapier that would carry the day – or fall.
Fortunately Clast did not seem to be lacking in valour or might, and Ismay remembered some of his long-ago lessons in how to use the rapier for self-defense as opposed to formal fencing. A hobgoblin screamed in outrage when he stabbed it near the neck, but did not fall immediately, and turned to menace Ismay with its club.
To be continued…