Black Iron's Glory - Chapter 105

"You? A passerby? Stop joking!" Kamadi snapped, pointing at Jerad and his companions, "You must be a bodyguard! You're really something!" he shouted at Jerad, "You can't face us yourself so you hire an outsider to fight for you! And as for you--" his gaze returned to Claude, "--Do you think I can't find you with that disguise? Show me what little punk you are so I know where to stab you!"

"I told you the truth. It's your problem if you won't believe it. I've only defended myself. You don't really expect me to be a punching bag, do you? If so, you're dumber than I thought. And take your paranoia somewhere else. Are you going to let me through, or am I going to have to beat you up as well?"

Kamadi's grey irises darted between the new arrival and his enemies several times before he finally sighed. Those four were just as shocked by this man's arrival as he was. It was obvious this stranger wasn't with them.

But why would he appear at this moment? It was too grand a coincidence to be that. Why didn't he turn around and leave the moment he saw them? No traveller would confront two gangs in the middle of a fight. Something was wrong, he might not be in cahoots with the Sharks, but something was wrong.

Minds looking for answers had a propensity to fill blanks in with their wild conjectures, and Kamadi was a professional. Obviously he must have been hired by someone. For what reason, he might not know, but it could not be good for Blacksnake. There was no other explanation for why he would attack his men out of the blue.

That conclusion didn't help matters at all, since Kamadi was still furious at the government for siding with the Sharks in their last confrontation and forcing this peace on Blacksnake when now was the perfect opportunity to wipe the slate clean. His men were of the same mind. Now was the chance to get rid of this nuisance once and for all. For all its ambitions and boasts, however, everyone in the gang knew they didn't have the strength to go against the town watch. But their hatred for the Sharks went deeper than even their fear of the town watch.

They'd secretly set up a plan to wipe their enemies out in their leader's absent. They were going to sweep through the docks and wipe out every bit of territory their enemies controlled. Even Hanbas could not run a gang without a territory from which to earn money. The gang would have dispersed and that would have been the end of it... for the time being.

Their plans, however, relied on the town watch standing by idly. They stood no chance of success if the town watch got involved. And that's exactly what they'd done. Now the plan was in shambles and they'd been forced to watch this opportunity sail by, quite literally.

The leaders obviously put on a show for their egos. They'd really been told to sit down and shut up by the real bigshots in town. But to their subordinates and gankies they had instead chosen to give face to a government on its knees, begging them not to get involved in such matters.

Whatever the truth of the matter, peace was upheld, or at least it had been upheld successfully thus far. For all the leadership's stories, Kamadi was high up enough on the ladder to know the true story. The government wasn't joking when they'd said they would wipe the town clean of them if they caused trouble. They had the mayor's backing in secret, but even he could not step in when the entire cabinet of elites was in unanimous agreement.

That whole story had flashed through Kamadi's brain several times since this confrontation had begun, and it had kept him from starting a physical fight. That said, he'd not expected to run into that whore and her cuck. How could he give up such a chance? He'd tried to provoke the other side into starting the fight so he could claim self-defence, but for all his weakness, that bastard Jerad had a cool head on his shoulders. He didn't let his men start the fight. Now this damned outsider had shown up and ruined everything.

Did this bastard really think Kamadi didn't know he was from town hall? He sighed after a long moment, however, and his shoulder slumped. Fine, he'd play along for today. He wouldn't make more trouble for those Shark bastards tonight, but he damn well would teach this outsider a bloody lesson!

If he was going to insist he had no connection with town hall, then they'd treat him like that was true and beat the holy shit out of him.

He smiled sinisterly at the thought and took a step forward.

"You would have been free to leave if you hadn't hurt my men. No one does that, so now I'm going to have to claim damages."

The robed figure didn't react at all.

"What sort of damages?"

Kamadi's men already knew what he had in mind, and surrounded the robed figure as the two spoke.

"A hand and a leg," Kamadi grinned savagely.

"Just 'cause you say so?" the robed man asked as if talking to a child.

Claude didn't mind a little fight. He had already taken down three, another five wouldn't be much harder. His eyes flared, however, when he saw daggers gleaming in his opponents' hands and he quickly retreated. He could handle five unarmed opponents, but weapons changed the equation entirely. 'No matter one's skill with the fist, one must always be weary of the knife," as the saying went.

He couldn't turn and run, however. Exposing his back would be the last mistake of his life. His only option was to retreat slowly, keeping his front facing his opponents so he could block and retaliate against their attacks.

It was slower than he would have liked, but still faster than his opponents had expected. The old street was a maze of puddles and potholes, so it wasn't a simple thing to move quickly in the dark, even without having to keep half an eye on a number of enemies, so how was this robed man doing it?

"Get him!" Kamadi yelled a moment later, "Don't let him escape! I want to both his legs!"

About ten seconds into the chase, the closest two of Claude's pursuers were about five metres behind him. Claude's hand waved and four projectiles burst from his palm.



The first two collapsed a moment later in gasps and screams. One was struck twice, once in the thigh and once in the neck. His cry was more a gurgle than anything else as he rolled between puddles and clutched the places that hurt. The other was struck in the stomach and he was hunched with his hands on his stomach while he gasped for breath, which wasn't strange to see, considering how the power of Magic Missile was more or less akin to his musket in his tests.

While happy at the result of his first combat cast, he wasn't happy with his accuracy. It was all over the place, he was lucky he'd scored any hits at all. If not that he had some control over how the orbs flew, he would have missed with all of them.

He didn't stop to scold himself, however. His first priority was getting out of the alley alive, so he kept going. Luckily for him, the sudden attack stunned the three remaining pursuers, who paused just long enough for him to get out from under them. He only pulled back about seven metres so he'd have enough time to react when they started charging again and could hit them at his full five-metre distance. At the same time, he readied his counterattack.

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