By the time Ashley had gotten out of the cart, an arm was locked around my throat, gun still pressed to the back of my head. I got a glimpse of my assailants sleeve, it was a dark red, almost burgundy in color. The same color of the caravan guards that lay dead around us. I couldn't believe this was happening. After all the years of raiding caravans, only to be caught off guard like this. What had we done wrong? I glanced left and right, desperately looking for an escape from my assailants grasp. I knew that if I tried anything, made the slightest move, that my head was coming off my shoulders. I could see Ashley slowly raise her hands, nervously looking from me to my assailant. I had to maintain my cool and break free before this got worse.
"Just take what you want, there's no need for this" Ashley said, barely keeping her voice under control.
The assailant tightened the hold around my neck and spoke with a muffled voice.
"No no no, there is a need for this. I've been searching for this one for many months, and now that I've finally found him I can finish my task." Fear tore through my body like a hot knife through butter. Why was this person hunting me? What had I done to him? My assailant bent down next to me.
"Are you afraid?" He whispered in my ear.
I summoned all my courage I could for my response.
"If your going to kill me then do it dammit!"
"Oh, I'm not here to kill you. What kind of friend would I be if I did that?"
I was stunned by his response, left utterly speechless.
"It's been far too long Nightingale. I thought you would stay in Regalia until I returned from Tall Trees."
Then it hit me. There was only one person I have known longer then anybody who had ventured to Tall Trees after our heist in Regalia.
"James you son of a bitch let me go!" I yelled, thrashing away from his grasp.
Ashley, clearly stunned as to what happened, could only blink as she took everything in.
"Wait, what just happened?" She stammered.
"Well hello miss, I don't believe we're acquainted. I'm James." James said, placing his pistol in its holster as he held his free hand out to Ashley.
"Ashley..." She said, shaking his hand. "I see you already know Gale."
"Gale?" James questioned, turning to smirk at me. "Your going by some puddy tat name now?"
"Shut your trap James, and don't go calling me a puddy tat neither. After all, your the one in that getup." I spoke while getting up, James frowned as he looked at his caravaner disguise. "So where did you come from, watching us from a distance I suppose?"
"No, I WAS coming back to Regalia with this caravan..." James murmured, kicking the corpse of a caravan guard. "But you lot put that plan down fast now didn't ya?"
"Well how were we suppose to know?" Ashley remarked, folding her arms over her chest.
"I'm not saying you were suppose to know, but now we've got no way into Regalia."
"Ok why are we all now suddenly going to Regalia, and why couldn't we just walk in?" Ashley questioned, going back to the cart.
"Because..." James started, reaching the cart first. "Nightingale and I have some unfinished business."
I slowly approached the cart, inquiring. "What business, not that issue with the drunk ladies right?"
"What was that Gale?!" Ashley asked, eyes wide.
"Nothing." I remarked. James silently snickering to himself while lifting goods out of the cart.
"The reason were going to Regalia..." James started, breaking the boards off the bottom of the cart. "Is to deliver these." He stepped aside to let us see.
I steeped forward to look inside the cart and smiled slightly.
"There's enough weapons to arm a small army in here!" Ashley gasped, sorting through the firearms and swords.
"Yes, I know. There are people who desperately need them, and that's why we're going to deliver them by dusk tomorrow."
"But Regalia is some thirty miles from here, how would we reach Regalia by tomorrow's dusk in a cart with no horse?"
James for once didn't answer immediately, instead he sat in the cart, stroking his chin.
"That Ashley is a good question, but first I must change out of. . .this." Looking down in disgust at his caravaner disguise while grabbing a duffle bag out of the cart. "I will be back in one moment." James said as he went into the forest.
"So we can trust him?" Ashley asked, sitting in the cart.
I rolled my eyes. "Yes we can trust James. I've fought alongside him for a long time."
Ashley held her hands up defensively. "I was just curious Gale." She turned back to the weapons in the cart. I sat down on a tree stump, shouldering my bow. It's been so long since I was in contact with James, I thought he had forgotten our friendship and decided to stay in Tall Trees, out of the way of daily troubles.
"Ok, I'm ready." James announced, striding out of the forest. His choice of equipment doesn't surprise me. A long digital camouflage cloak with hood that automatically blends with the environment, kevlar body armor, a custom armored face mask with multiple optic settings, dual pistols, and his signature sniper rifle with suppressor and scope attachments. Classic James.
"So how are we suppose to get to Regalia with no horse to pull the cart?" Ashley remarked, leaning against the cart.
James gave an evil grin. "We're going to steal one."
Ashley and I looked at each other, then to James.
"And how do you suggest we do that wise one?" I asked, shouldering my bow and arrows.
"That's the trick. We're going to have to find one to steal."
Ashley rolled her eyes. "This should be fun."