Mixed Company

Title: Mixed Company
Time Period: May 4, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: A brave few stand between Dornie's young ones and danger.

School days are the bane of childhood. Especially on a day like today, when Spring feels more like Summer and the sun hangs brightly in the sky just begging the children to come out and play instead of sitting in a room with stuffy books. And the schoolhouse sits in the distance, full of the town's young ones longing for dismissal.

A few people are in the area, mostly people running to or from the Ross manor on some errand or another, not too many are lingering, as the adults are also eager to get their work done. Although, not so they can come out and play in the sunshine, but more likely so they can go drinking in the pubs. To each their own!

The pounding of hooves in the distance is a harbinger of Beisdean's arrival; the bay gelding is in a full gallop. Those close enough to see Beisdean's face as he leans low against Iago's neck can tell that he's neither heading to nor from anything too dire. The grin on the young man's face says this is purely a joy ride.

High above, a hawk follows the path of the pair, even curving around the road as the gelding does.

It's Darklight that gets the first hints that something's wrong. From his elevated position, he can see a large form coming into view as Beidean's ride takes him closer to the schoolhouse. It hasn't been so long that the familiar's forgotten the shape of a troll.

It's easy enough for the horse and rider to miss it moving in to block the road toward home, but Iago seems to sense that something isn't right, and he slows his run, head tossing in a display of sudden discomfort.

There's a troll ahead, is Darklight's urgent warning to Beisdean below, and Beisdean begins to pull up on the reins to slow Iago even further. Beisdean squints toward the road ahead, then to the schoolhouse, then to the sky to assess the time.

School's still in session, the sun tells him, and he swears beneath his breath.

Warn anyone you can talk to that's near?, Beisdean replies back, reaching into his saddle bag for the gun he's managed to procure since the last couple of run-ins with the beasts of lore.

A gun is not a bad idea, lately. And the large figure looming down the road is probably confirming that very thing. And as it shambles its way toward the school like it knows exactly where its going, there's a young, sharp shriek from a window of the school. It's hard to say if they've noticed the lone man standing between them and the giant coming their direction, but it is, perhaps, forgivable that they're a bit distracted.

The troll sees him, though, and it pauses in its walk to stare for a moment. But only a moment before it opens its mouth to let out a shriek if its own. A lower octave, yes, but a bit more terrifying.

"Not again," Beisdean mutters, the revolver in his hand lifted and readied — he's too far away too make a dent with the bullets, he knows, given how thick that thing's skin is and the distance stretched out between them.

"Stay inside!" he shouts back at the schoolhouse. And you, don't get in its way this time. I'll not have you hurt again, aye? he tells the hawk. Go to town, get help.

The bird krees at the troll, but then Darklight's voice sounds in Beisdean's head: I'd say the same to you, brother. But Darklight flies toward town to do as bid.

If he were watching, Beisdean would be able to see adults trying to pull wide-eyed children away from windows, but they are, indeed, staying inside. For the moment. The troll swats at the bird, but finds it too out of reach to silence that way. But, as it's flying away, the creature eyes it for just a moment longer before turning back to Beisdean.

Steps bring it closer despite the troll's general sluggishness, and it brings the club in hand up… to swing it back down toward where Besidean currently lingers. Yells from the house prove that there are not enough adult hands to keep all the children from peering out at the excitement.

The horse rears back, but the rider is experienced and manages to keep his seat, digging legs around Iago's sides and gripping the reins tight in one hand. Beisdean aims not for the torso but instead for the creature's throat — he's no marksman though he's had to shoot for his food out in the wild on his travels.

His "game" has never been so big as this, nor so deadly, and this troll probably doesn't taste as good in a stew.

He fires, and Iago bucks again; this time he lets go of reins and flings one leg over the saddle to dismount, letting Iago run free.

A shriek, whatever the octave or volume, is worth investigating, but not necessarily cause for alarm. But if Eduard Hossfeld didn't see reason to hurry before, the clear sound of a gunshot is enough to send him into a full sprint, tightly gripping the sling that holds his rifle, the ancient military relic everyone tells him he doesn't need in town but that he refuses to walk around without, to his back. He doesn't stop when the unfolding battle comes into view, not immediately. It takes a moment before his brain forces him to abruptly halt, reevaluate what he's rushing into, and realize and accept even as he's unslinging his weapon and racking back the charging handle that he might need something bigger, like a cannon. Or incredible luck, and so far that's been showing up in abundance.

Circling slightly and stepping as lightly as a jog will allow, the vulture of cities does his best to close the gap between him and the threat quickly, while trying to keep it unaware of his presence. It's a guarantee that only one of those is going to be successful.

They rear back, and the club lands hard enough to make a dent just in front of them, sending bits of dirt flying this way and that. The gunfire makes the troll roar and it moves to try to dodge, but being as big as it is, it's hard to miss it entirely. The roar gets louder when the bullet strikes its shoulder, and it yanks the club off the ground to sloppily hit Beisdean in return. It strikes his shoulder, in an almost childish bit of payback, and sends the ghost whisperer to the ground.

And while the sneaking Hossfeld might think his luck is changing, as he's able to come along unnoticed for longer than he really should be able to, when the troll looks at the downed Beisdean, he catches the movement in the corner of his eye. There's that heartstopping moment when the great giant turns his head to look right at Hossfeld, and it is just a moment before the creature is heading in that direction, club swinging. It's slow movement, but definitely nothing to laugh at.

Air is sucked in through clenched teeth when that club strikes Beisdean's still-mending shoulder from the last time he wrassled with a troll. "Ffffuck," he groans, glancing back to the schoolhouse to make sure no kids have opened the door while rolling and getting to his feet, a little less gracefully than he'd like.

The club's strike knocked the gun from his hand, and he has to look for it, noting Hossfeld's approach as the troll suddenly heads in the other man's direction. Beisdean falls to his knees when he finds the gun again, once more pulling the trigger and aiming for the troll, aiming this time for the head but at an angle that won't at all endanger Hossfeld.

Really, the troll changing its mind like that and going after him instead was not really the plan, even if it does get Beisdean temporarily out of trouble. When Hossfeld squeezes the trigger of his weapon, in contrast to Beisdean's revolver, four bullets explode from the barrel is quick succession. Not close or even accurate enough to ensure a kill. Not even to promise one on something that large and thick. But definitely enough to make it angry. And if the angry troll is after Hossfeld as he turns and quickly dashes in the opposite direction, then it's moving away from everyone inside the schoolhouse. It's a great idea unless, of course, it catches him. And then, it will be a terrible idea.

A standing sight around Dornie is that of Dunmore Forge's own fire-wielding magic metalman, Niall Dunmore and rusty red kyloe, Stands-Fast. The latter of the pair pulls along the blacksmith's empty small cart with just the smithy sitting at the top - no reins in hand. How is it the man controls the beast? With his mind? In actuality, the familiar is quite calmly plodding his own way, and thus casts the impression of the most easygoing life to be had by the time Darklight shows up to give that cry of general alarm. The highland bull slows to a halt, peering up at the circling hawk for a long and contemplative moment.

Dude. Trouble at the schoolhouse and stuff. Darklight's saying there's a troll. Hey, didn't you set one of those on fire? relays the bull to his companion.

And while Stands-Fast doesn't appear to be agitated, Niall does. He furrows his brow at his familiar's news and immediately gets down from the cart seat. He grabs for a burlap wrapped bundle, pausing a moment to eye it in hesitation before shaking his head. "She'll have to forgive me later," mutters the blacksmith as he quickly unties the package to pull out a glittering, cleaned up sword that doesn't fit in the blacksmith's usual style. "Stands, we have to go help. These creatures, they're really getting out of hand." And while the man has no ready answers, he sets off after them at a fast clip down the road towards the schoolhouse. Stands-Fast follows after, a slower but steady pace pulling the wooden cart with him.

This troll just keeps getting shot at. It's not bright enough, really, to get that they're coming from two angles, so even though it's Beisdean's that zings close to its head and cuts through its ear, its anger at such a development is directed at Hossfeld. Because he's in the troll's line of sight. So Niall gets to arrive on scene as a large, smelly, green creature opts to lope after Hossfeld across the stonework around the northern reach. But, as planned, away from the building with the small children peering out of windows.

Unfortunately, the troll isn't the only matter worth worrying over. A shadow is cast against the ground as the furred body of a Storm Bringer sweeps by over their heads. That it's out of season is probably the least of everyone's worries, since it can be seen circling back toward them all again.

That shadow isn't given a second glance by Beisdean as he breaks into a run to chase the troll, this time trying to get a better angle rather than just haphazardly shooting. He takes more time to aim and uses both hands this time to steady the revolver.

His second set of eyes return to the scene in the guise of Darklight's hawk form, and it's the bird that sees the dragon in the sky. Storm Bringer, the familiar's voice intones in both Beisdean's and Stands-Fast's heads; the man glances up at the sky with a frown.

They don't usually attack, he replies to the familiar.

Like anything's *usual* these days, brother, Darklight replies back.

Still, the greater danger at this moment seems to be the troll. Keep an eye on the dragon, Beisdean says, as he fires off another shot toward the troll's head.

There's a great difference in the tactics employed by Beisdean and Hossfeld. The former aims for difficult goals, trying to shoot the troll in the head with a weapon that is not well-suited for this type of fighting. Hossfeld, by comparison, opts for frantic rushing and course changes, trying to distract it until more help arrives and, above all, trying to confuse it to seize the advantage. As it pursues him, he suddenly stops, turns around, and runs directly at the creature. The plan is simple; startle into swinging too early, and then dive towards its swinging arm. Whether out of the way or over its strike doesn't matter, as long as it passes through the space he was once occupying.

Huh. The singular thought of undeniable *lack* of surprise on Stands-Fast's part nearly puts the bull into a collision with Niall, who has slowed to a halt upon surveying the schoolhouse scene. The news of unseasonal sightings is likewise passed up for the greater danger pursuing Hossfeld. Without giving time enough for questions, Niall then presses forward, heading after the sounds of gunfire and troll distraction. While he doesn't have the tactics of a brilliant strategist, the man seizes opportunity in closing the gap. His path takes him near the ghost whisperer, close enough that Niall calls out, "Save your bullets! That's not going to bring the beast down." But it's not that he's giving the impression he'll do it with the sword he's brought. Plus, there's no guarantee that the three men can do it either. Stands-Fast, meanwhile, remains on the ground and pulls up by the schoolhouse, scanning those skies placidly through a mop of longer fur.

Hossfeld switches direction and it not only gets the troll swinging at him in confusion, but has the beast stopped long enough that Beisdean gets a chance at the thing. The bullet strikes the troll in the neck, and does seem to pierce, as blood follows, and the giant seems, for the moment, dazed.

But not downed.

But the dragon doesn't stay aloft for too much longer, and it starts its decent toward the schoolhouse in a sort of lazy circle. Intent, but perhaps over confident in the troll's ability to handle the pesky humans. The children might be a little overly fascinated, at least a few of them, as faces press against the glass when hiding would really do them much better.

Head's up, Darklight's voice intones again, and Beisdean's head does just that, swiveling to look up at the sky.

"What the hell…" he mutters, and turns his weapon on the dragon instead of the troll, leaving that to the men with better weapons.

"Get away from the windows!" he shouts to the children in the schoolhouse, and then aims at the dragon's doggish face. Darklight, help with this one… try to get it away from the building!

The bird morphs from the hawk into something larger, a sea eagle, that flies straight toward the Storm Bringer, kreeing as it gets close then veering away at a tangent, trying to get the creature to change direction. At the same time, once Beisdean's noted the new path of his familiar, the man fires the gun.

Experience with impacts like slamming into the ground with only the friendly cushioning of a shoulder roll are not unfamiliar to Hossfeld. The dragon goes unnoticed, for the moment, with all of the man's focus on the more immediate threat. Pushing himself to his feet and almost clumsily jamming the butt of his rifle against his shoulder, he aims without a thought to accuracy, but solely to keep the muzzle of his weapon from drifting too much, and presses down the trigger. At this range, missing is almost impossible, and the confusion and soon pain washing over the troll's mind might leave just enough time to empty the magazine into its torso. And even with his vast experience dealing with the 'wilds,' Hossfeld has no idea if that even can kill it. But it sure won't be happy. He just needs to stall it a bit longer. Any moment, the rest of the militia will come charging into view, he knows it. Just a bit longer, Eduard….

While Niall isn't exactly matching the description of a militiaman, he's perhaps as good as Eduard's going to get at the moment. The bark of gunfire slows Niall's progress just briefly, long enough for him to switch the one-handed grip he has upon the sword to that of two. Adding the support of a second hand, the blacksmith charges forward full tilt with blade tip intended for the crassest method of use. Does he know how to use it? Yes, the pointy end goes into the other monster.

Back at the schoolhouse, tracking the Storm Bringer is Stands-Fast, who while he doesn't seem to be bothered by the dragon's approach, isn't standing still in wait for it to land. The bull's form shimmers slightly as it melts away into that of a large eagle as well, perhaps to the delight of some of the innocent children peeking through the windows. The straps previously tying the bull to his burden cart fall away, and the second familiar labors up on heavy wings heading skyward to join Darklight in the drive.

The troll is hit. And hit some more. And there is the heartening appearance of blood from the bullets that manage to get through when Hoss empties his weapon. There's a low, slow groan before he lets go of his club and falls back, hitting the ground with his sizeable backside. It makes it easy for Niall to get the pointy end of the sword into the hide. It isn't easy to get it to sink in, though, and while the blacksmith stabs, the troll's arm lifts to swat him away like an oversized fly. It hurts. But luckily, it could be much worse, given that the creature is slowed by some serious wounds.

But the dragon is another story. Beisdean calls out his warning, but they are just a little too taken by the sighting of trolls and dragons and magical familiars to really move back. And while Beisdean finds it a bit harder to hit the agile dragon, the sound of gunfire has the creature picking up speed. And while it seems unbothered by the pair of familiars, the kreeing and annoyances put it off enough that when it hits the house, it only manages to break glass and hit the ground in a heap. That is enough to send the children off, instead of watching while the creature rights itself.

"That's not fucking normal," Beisdean grunts, pulling the trigger to prepare to shoot the thing again while it's trying to get back to its feet, aiming for the thing's face again.

A glance is thrown over his shoulder at Hossfeld and Niall, hoping to see the troll dead and more aid coming to his side. So much for wishful thinking.

He pulls the trigger again, wincing as the slight kickback jars his re-injured shoulder.

Reinforcements are reinforcements, and Hossfeld will take whatever help he can get. His rifle, empty, is discarded unceremoniously and he switches without missing a beat to his own revolver and for a change, copies Beisdean's tactic. The key difference now is not one of philosophy, but of positioning. The troll is down on the ground and no moving about, and Hossfeld is close. He can take a moment to more precisely aim his shot at the monster's jaw, purposefully avoiding the likely dense skull and heavy neck muscles in favor of the more breakable ligaments that hold the face together. These aren't 'the old days,' whenever those were, when a small problem could be left alone and dealt with later. If small problems are left alone, they eventually combine into big problems.

And big problems are not something that Dornie has the ability to deal with right now.

Niall flies a good distance, crashing on dirt in a battered heap. He's down too, but definitely not out. In fact, the pain spurs the man to slam a fist again the ground and growl out to himself, "I'm beginning t' dislike trolls…" He levers himself up to one knee, wincing passingly against the soreness he's only moments away from feeling after the fade of the adrenaline. With the sword he's brought stuck in the troll, the blacksmith is material-wise weaponless. Though not defenseless.

So it falls upon the familiars and Beisdean to deal with another large problem in the form of the Storm Bringer. Wheeling in the sky above, Stands-Fast stays momentarily out of range after seeing Beisdean raise the gun to shoot at the dragon. Almost playfully, the blacksmith's familiar dips his wings at Darklight to get the other avian's attention, adding, I haven't done this in ages! A fold of those large wings later, the familiar drops with speed out of the skies. The eagle-equivalent of Cowabunga! screeches from the bird as he stoops on the downed dragon from above.

The dragon shifts, not enough for Beisdean's shot to miss, but enough to protect its face. Unfortunately, the shot lands somewhere in the meat of its shoulder, and it roars out a bit of displeasure before it starts to manage to claw itself into a more open area. Stands-Fast dives down, but the dragon's great wings open and the creature lifts itself up. A flick of its tail hits Beisdean in the gut, but its focus is on chasing down those two obnoxious sidekicks. Both will have to start dodging snapping jaws far bigger than their current forms.

It's hard to miss just now, as far as the troll is concerned. And Hossfeld's bullet strikes home, causing a cry from the downed troll. And, of course, blood. A hand lifts to cover the wound, but the other swings away from Niall to grab Hossfeld in meaty fingers and give him a bit of a roll across the stonework road. Like playing dice. But with more pain.

I have, and couldn't fly for several days, Darklight tells Stands-Fast, as the other goes into its nosedive. The medium's familiar doesn't get so close to the mouth; instead it gets close but stays a few breaths out of reach, so that if the dragon lurches, the familiar will have the space to soar off again — peck and chase, again, but this time Darklight isn't quite as brave as the last time.

Stumbling back from the tail, Beisdean shouts "Get," like he might to a stubborn mule. The gun, on its last bullet, is aimed and fired at the creature's back side this time, the mage hoping to push the creature off and away from the schoolhouse.

A good rattle of the cage is exactly what Hossfeld gets when he's knocked aside and sent tumbling. He recovers quickly enough, but then spends several seconds for the world to stop spinning and his vision to come back into focus. It's only now, after he's had a moment to look around, that he realizes the situation with the storm bringer. The troll, badly wounded, can wait a moment.

Another glance around, and the German is scrambling towards his discarded rifle, picking it up and then spinning to charge towards the dragon, yanking the spent magazine out and loading a fresh one. He could really use that cannon right about now….

Niall couldn't have asked for a better opportunity than when Eduard gets moving out of range. Bracing and focusing himself upon the troll, it seems the blacksmith's left to go toe-to-toe and he chooses his own brand of magic as his dueling method. Using flashier methods as with the dragon from the merchant festival, Niall summons up a large fireball to hurl at the troll's lowered face while the monster's still down. But like Beisdean, the man doesn't aim to kill it, just to drive it back and away with a little fiery helping hand.

Stands-Fast flares out his wings at the last second to just avoid smacking headlong into the rising dragon, or chomped on with the first go at the Storm Bringer's jaws. Still, he lingers around just out of range, enticingly. And somehow the familiar doesn't seem too entirely worried even as he circles around the dragon from above.

Fire is certainly very… persuasive. But as Niall's fire strikes the troll and clings to skin and hair and clothing, the creature pulls himself up to run, but only stumbles a few steps before it topples, bloodloss adding up to too much for running around. Whatever the intention, the troll is not surviving its encounter with Dornie's populous.

At least, no the gun wielding, fire throwing ones.

The dragon roars when a bullet hits its back end, and the familiars have some very close calls with wing and with fang as a result. But, it turns abruptly, aiming itself back toward the schoolhouse now that its gotten some distance. Ramming the building may not be the most graceful form of attack, but it does seem to be what it has in mind. It isn't coincidence that Beisdean is in the path between dragon and schoolhouse.

Well, fuck. That was the last bullet, and the few extra bullets he got with the gun are … wherever Iago's run off to. Beisdean's eyes grow wide and for all his (stupid) shielding of the schoolhouse, he takes off into a run, zig-zagging quickly in a way he hopes the dragon's much larger body won't be able to manage. His long legs take him off the road rather than to bring it into town, and in hopes of maybe losing it among trees and shrubs.

Darklight does the same but in the air, swooping above the creature's head and staying a few extra inches away than it had with the troll that had swatted him out of the air in the familiar's last adventure.

"Hey!" The shout is followed by the singular *crack!* of rifle fire. "Hier drüben!" Hossfeld's shouts are about as likely to attract the storm bringer's attention as his running is. Even his single shot is unlikely too do much, intentionally aimed too low so that if it missed, it would strike the earth instead of the schoolhouse. But still he comes sprinting after the dragon, even as his lungs are starting to burn. Age is every bit the soldier's enemy as the monster is. But he stops again to take another shot at the dragon, and then another, each time taking a moment longer to steady his aim.

Niall lowers his smoking hand once the troll hits the dirt and stonework again, this time his approach slowed by the throbbing pain of his bruised and battered self. The blacksmith nears the expiring monster in search of the sword he'd stuck into it earlier, but waits for the bigger beast to stop moving before he retrieves it. Hopefully, in tact.

And just as the trio had managed to get the dragon away from the schoolhouse, it's headed back that way. The volley of gunfire from Hossfeld solidifies Stands-Fast's ultimate decision, and the eagle banks to a side before swooping down one last time. This time, the eagle doesn't halt or veer in approach, but suddenly expands its feathers and form out back into that of the bull. Its aerial assault turns into that of an angled, horns-out and headlong headbutt aimed at the dragon's broadside - as a large, horned bulky torpedo.

Beisdean might be a fine prize, or at least a fine place to get seom pay back, but in the end, it seems its goal is that house. And it becomes a race; can it reach the school before Hossfeld shoots it out of the air. The first might miss, but as he takes care to aim before firing, shots start to hit, adding to the wounds Beisdean and the familiars have already managed. It starts to sag in the air, but even with blood dripping onto the ground below, and it being far safer for itself to let this one go, it flies toward the schoolhouse.

Right up until a bull smacks into it in midair. It hadn't been expecting that, that much is clear. Being already wounded deeply and not half as hearty as the troll it came here with, the collision is a last straw. Although it's the fall that breaks the dragon's back. And they're left with a new pair of oversized bodies to deal with. But, they're dead bodies, at least.

But, it may just be worth it, as the schoolhouse erupts in cheering from the children, with whoops and hollers for the trio. Even the adults clap.

The sound of the collision and the fall of the beast makes Beisdean glance backward, and he falls to his knees himself, exhausted and relieved. He'll get up in a few moments to thank the other men for their help, but for now he has his breath to catch.

The eagle that didn't just turn into a bull and take down the dragon comes to alight on Beisdean's shoulder, turning into a marten just in time so that talons do not harm the already sore flesh.

And with that, it's over. The monsters are dead, the children are safe, and they only have some bruises to show for it. It's with a sort of resignation that Hossfeld walks the rest of of the distance between himself and the fallen dragon. And the bull-familiar. And Beisdean. And when he reaches the heap of creature and looks it over to make sure it's dead, and then at Stands-Fast, Beisdean, Darklight, and back towards Niall in turn, and finally back to the storm bringer, he summarizes all his feelings of the situation and it's outcome with a simple gesture.

By miming a pistol with his left hand, and pointing the 'barrel' at the creature's face. "Bäng. Du bist tot, du großer garstig köter."

Niall extracts the sword gingerly from the dead troll's hide, grimacing at the creature's blood staining the once cleaned and well oiled metal. Now it's just a right mess - maybe worse than the condition he'd gotten it in. The grimace deepens, though perhaps for the thought of what he'll be telling the owner of said sword later. Or maybe it's just the pain of his sore bruises finally coming to the fore.

The concluding smashup between dragon and bull is almost comical, were it not for Stands-Fast laying in a dirty heap of fur and horn off to the side from where the dragon lies. Kyloe down! Or is he? For several seconds, the familiar doesn't move either. But eventually, the companion lows a deep, throaty, gurgle of a moo and struggles to his feet, wobbling dizzily in place. Both blacksmith and familiar look on as Eduard issues the dragon's 'last rights'.

There really isn't much more to say to that.