Tipper hurt. Seemingly everywhere. Her eyes fluttered open, her head was pounding. For a moment she was confused. Dim light seemed to flicker and brighten then flickered and dimmed. Above her the room was filled with dust, she could taste blood. She was pretty sure she had been fighting, she reached for her hatchet. The floor was littered with debris. She did not know where her weapon was, but her hand had found a wooden bedpost, broken at one end. She sat up with great effort, she was in amongst the wreckage of two beds. She could hear nothing other than a high-pitched ringing.
She saw a chandelier swinging back and forth, only a few candles were still lit. She remembered the witch and then the rest of what she had been up to. Groaning she used the bedpost to get to her feet. She saw a couple shadowy figures moving along the catwalk towards her, one of them had a long sword. She took a moment and kicked some debris around, no sign of her hatchet. The chandelier swung back towards her, briefly illuminating the two men, the swordsman and the helpful guy. They were shouting at her by the look of it, though all she could hear was the ringing noise in her own head.
As the men came into the loft area Tipper noted that a big chunk of the railing and the top step was missing. The swordsman was still shouting at her, periodically making a downward flick of his sword. Likely telling her to put down the bedpost or to get down on the floor. Either way, she was having none of it. She reversed her grip on the post and threw it like a spear, the jagged end struck the man in the stomach, he staggered back, dropped the sword and fell over the edge.
The helpful fellow was panicked and shouting down to the lower level, he had a short sword in hand but also had stepped forward to pick up the long sword. Tipper rushed him, the man looked up with a terrified expression, he grabbed for the long sword and gave a week backhanded swing with the short sword. Tipper batted it aside and knocked the man off the loft. He fell onto the partially intact stairs which collapsed under him.
Tipper took a moment to see what was going on down there and was very surprised when her own hatchet thumped into her chest, she staggered back and tripped over something. The crazy wrestling woman had thrown the hatchet, Tipper had seen the throw but could not get out of the way. She was not in the best shape. Briefly, she considered just staying down, sleep would be good. She knew better though, so she yanked the hatchet from her chest, and dragged herself to her feet. Staying back from the loft’s edge she looked around for her other hatchet.
She became aware that people were shouting, she couldn’t make out what they were saying though no one else had come upstairs. She started pitching stuff off the loft, the shouting stopped. Eventually she found her other hatchet under a blanket. She was considering pushing the wreckage of one of the beds to block this end of the catwalk when she noticed a change in the illumination from below. The shouting resumed.
Were they going to burn her out?
Tipper put her hatchets down and shifted one of the intact bunks around, then pushed it over the edge where the door to the back hallway was. She took out the rest of the railing in the process, the bed crashed to the floor below. There was a lot more shouting. The new illumination shifted around as well, likely someone with a lantern.
After moving some of the wreckage to block the catwalk Tipper sat on a stool facing the other stairs. She suspected that there were more enemies downstairs, maybe a lot more. She was leaking from a number of small wounds, she had splinters in her face and had split the back of her head open. She knew damn well that one or more of them would be keeping a lookout for her. Yet, if she just stayed here they would likely grab Mokha and be off, making her entire effort up to this point meaningless.
The shouting from downstairs had stopped, the only thing she heard was the high pitched ringing in her own head. Tipper took a couple of deep breaths.
Then she saw a table walking up the stairs to the other loft. Or, more to the point, one or two people moving up the stairs, using the table to protect themselves. Tipper laughed, stood up and readied her hatchets. For some reason she found her impending death amusing, she laughed again as she advanced to the edge of the loft. She had time to see that some of them were in the room from which the naked swordsman and mostly naked witch had emerged. Some of them were over in the other room, maybe where Mokha was. Aside from the ones climbing the stairs with the table there were three others near the middle of the room, waiting for her.
They all started shouting again.
She laughed, one of the men below her fired a crossbow as she stepped off the edge and dropped to the floor below. Still alive and still standing, she laughed some more. Two of the men rushed in, one with a small mace, the other one in leather armour and a winter cloak held a lantern and a short sword.
The guy with the mace was quick, Tipper caught the mace on a downward swing with the haft of the dwarven hatchet and slammed her other hatchet in his side, he went down. The other fellow slashed her arm, his blade bit deep enough to draw blood. She hacked at his head but he blocked the blow with the lantern, which then broke apart. His next attack was a slash across her mid-section which was mostly stopped by her armour. The guy was smoking, literally. Tipper chopped at his arm on his next swing. His sword lodged into the shoulder of her armour and then she severed his arm at the elbow. He fell back and flames started burning his cloak.
Tipper kicked the burning man to one side, blood splattering her face. She saw the guys on the stairs pitched the table aside. Mr. Helpful rushed back down as the wrestling woman started throwing knives. A knife hit Tipper in the chest. She advanced on the man with the crossbow. He gave up trying to load it and withdrew toward what Tipper figured was the door to the front entry hall. Another knife sunk into her left arm, that one hurt a lot. Tipper had dropped one of her hatchets. Mr. Helpful ran right into her downward swing and she split his skull open. Ever the considerate fellow, that one. Tipper glanced right and left, both doors had been closed.
A knife hit her in the head, a glancing blow that still staggered her. She stopped laughing and hefted her dwarven hatchet. Wrestling girl scrambled all the way up to the loft. Tipper threw her weapon at the man with the crossbow, who had stopped near the door to reload, he did not even see the incoming hatchet. He collapsed in a heap.
“Hey! Do I have to keep killing! Or are you going to give me back my friend!?”
If anyone responded she couldn’t hear it. With a sigh she retrieved her hatchet from the floor near the burning man, he had passed out. Tipper pushed him over with a foot, smothering much of the fire. The arm with the knife in it was dripping blood, she could barely move it. Still, she was in better shape than Mr. Crispy there, she started laughing again.
She noticed a lone chair in the centre of the room. In much the same location it had been when the fight started. Sitting seemed like a great idea, she flopped onto the chair. It hurt too much to laugh anymore, her head was pounding. Then she heard more shouting, she could not make out what they were saying and she knew she did not have any fight left in her.
The doors were forced open, people poured into the room from both directions. Through one door a half dozen armoured Arcanium Warders entered and from the other door an equal number of armoured Roburns security. Tipper was happy it was them and not more thieves.
She pointed to the loft, “There’s one up there. Likely a couple in each of the rooms as well. Glad you could make it.”
Bright light filled the room, one of the Warders asked her something while the others were moving to the threats she had indicated.
“Sorry, I can’t hear anything. There’s likely a mage through that door there.”
The Warder looked at her with concern. Doors were forced open and the remaining thieves gathered up. Tipper stood with effort and pointed, “That one there, she’s the witch.”
The Warder gently took her arm and removed the hatchet from her grip. He tried to get her to sit back down again but she had other ideas. She went over to the room she thought Mokha might be in and was relieved to see that he was in fact there. He looked in pretty rough shape, the Fingures had bound and gagged him, using wire to immobilize his fingers. He had also taken a couple of beatings by the look of it. He was being attended by a rough faced Maldorn woman.
“That’s great, now, I left my weapons laying around here somewhere”. She turned around and nearly passed out. Someone helped her sit down.
Soon other people were there, looking things over and a pair of red-robed mages looked at her and Mokha, appraising the damage they had suffered. They were given a bit of water. Then the one attending to Tipper started extracting some of the things that had been lodged into various parts of her body. Surprisingly there was very little pain.
It seemed there was a bit of an issue between the Roburns security people and the Warders. Tipper had no clue what they were saying, but it ended up with the Roburns people looking like they were leaving under protest. She recognized the leader of the squad as Heller, he worked with Addath on the special project the company had initiated, she had thought he was one of the footmen for her carriage. He gave her a nod as the crew left. Tipper returned the gesture.
Once the Maldorn folks had left, the mages went to work. Using spell craft of various sorts they searched the place top to bottom, end to end. Certain things were gathered, all the bodies were inspected. The surviving thieves had been shut in the room opposite from where she sat. Tipper started to be able to hear nearby conversations as buzzing sound. Mokha had fallen asleep.
A long time passed, Tipper was in a bit of a daze for most of it, Warder Greenman showed up with more Arcanium mages. He took Tipper and Mokha into protective custody.
Tipper felt obliged to protest, “That’s really not necessary, I’m sure we’ll be alright.”
He looked at her with a very serious expression, “I’m afraid it is required at this point. Don’t worry, we’ve appropriately appointed rooms in the Arcanium. You and your friend will be comfortable.”
Tipper was really in no shape to protest further.
Well, at least she was finally going to get into the Arcanium.