"We are riding forward, under a starry sky, roads under heaven, leading us through life."
"We will ride through the lands, all the way past seven seas,
In the world of our dreams, we will face the women whims!"
"We will reach somewhere soon,
Just in time for honeymoon"
"It's not really that far,
Where the pretty maidens are."
As Al continued to sing the popular travellers song, I pretended to not have the urge to unsheathe my sabre and cut his throat. While the song itself was rather nice when accompanied by strings or at least performed in a nice voice, years of drinking and sniffing the snuff, made Al's voice as hoarse as the voice of army drill sergeant, who was shouting for so long at the recruits to actually forget how to speak in a normal manner.
Looking around from the vantage point of my saddle, I could see Elemo riding far in the back, and two of the mounted militias about a quarter of a mile forward as compared to the carriage, making the middle point of our small caravan.
After finishing the trade with the merchant back in the Kleparz, we loaded up all the wares on the small carriage and set off. With only slightly more than ten kilometres(6-7miles) to the east, laid one of the most important places in the entire commonwealth - Wieliczka salt mine.
With over two thousand miners in the Wielczka's mine alone, the city that grew around it was considered the pearl in the crown of Poland, along with all the side businesses that sprouted around this profitable resource and the second mine in the town of Bochnia.
As one the busiest area in the entire lesser-Poland, the chances of bandits trying their luck on this particular part of the road were minimal, especially with how well-armed our convoy was compared to the low value of the goods that we were carrying. But as this was my first day in this world, I wasn't going to take any risks!
And it soon paid off!
By the time the walls of the capital disappeared from our sight and with the suburbs of the Wieliczka yet to appear, I heard a shout from behind. Taking a leisurely look back, I saw Elemo galloping forward, with his pistol raised high in the air as he waved it in hopes of raising my attention.
Instantly raising in the stirrups, I gazed into the darkness of the early night, trying to see what made this introverted guy react so energetically.
And just like that, by the time my man covered half of the distance that separated him from our group, I could make up several mounted figures swiftly closing in on us!
"Pour the powder on the pan!"
In the current times, while short firearms could be carried with gunpowder and bullet already readied, to make the weapon usable, one had to prepare a small amount of gunpowder on a special place that would lead the fire through a small hole to the firing load inside the barrel.
While Elemo's shout didn't escape the attention of the Al and the remaining militia beside me, it was my shout that alerted the foreguard about coming trouble. With the relatively vast distance that separated them from the main group, they could only act as the reinforcements, since the enemies would catch up with us a few moments before they could reach our position.
"Your fire, Sir!"
With one of the three militias that rode on the carriage along with the goods and two unarmed servants lighting the fire with the flint and passing it to the mounted troops in order for us to light the match of our pistols. Compared to the stationary units who long-barreled muskets on them, we had to limit ourselves to those handy pistols. After all, after the shots would be fired, it would all come down to the usual sabre and pike thing!
It was a pity they still couldn't remember that I actually carried a wheellock gun, that didn't require the use of smouldering fuse to fire it!
"Remember to clear the hole!"
As the seconds ticked, Elemo arrived at our group and hid behind the carriage just like the rest of us. There was no time to gain the momentum for the charge, and it would be highly stupid to just allow the enemies to use their speed against us.
Just like the cossacks who would use this form of tactic on a much greater scale in the coming years of constant rebellions against commonwealth and anyone who dared to try to put some laws in the place they were living, or even the husytian religious rebels that were the creators of the idea of using the carriages from their own supply chain as the mobile fortress, we decided to use our own advantages, instead of letting the enemies create their own.
By the time it became obvious that the attackers weren't actually a group of uncareful youths that hurrier for a few cups of drinks before the last piwiarnia (beer-serving place) would get closed for the night from their own firearms going off and enlighting the entire area,
As per my order, all four matchlock hand arms and three muskets fired, following the shot of my wheellock pistol. What would be a wall of fire in the latter ages, today only managed to reap the lives of barely three people, instantly knocked out of their horses as the immense strength of the bullet carved big holes in their bodies.
Sadly, our side didn't remain free from casualties either, with one of the militia killed on the spot by a bullet penetrating his head and throwing most of his brain on top of the wares on the carriage from the hole on the backside of his skull, while one of the servants was hit with a stray bullet to the side.
With the wave of those pesky modern weapons gone, it was time to get to the proper work in a traditional way! Feeling the adrenaline being pumped into my bloodstream, my right hand found the handle of my trusty piece of sabre just as Helga raised on its hindlegs and kicked herself forward!
That was the difference between an expensive horse and your average one! Before my subordinates who each had a good horse for himself even managed to push their horses into the run, I was already swimming through the air, holding myself in place with reins and allowing the momentum to carry my armed hand to the back.
In just a few moments, I arrived beside the aggressors. Pulling my arm forward, I didn't bother with any complicated arts of fencing, just bringing down the doom on the neck of the nearest opponent.
Thankfully, with three opponents dead before the fight started, only five remained!
While I initially used the gap between the horse of the deceased bandit and my first target, since the other party had to come to a full stop before the carriage, next enemy managed to approach me from the left.
With left being my vulnerable side on which it would be immensely harder to finely operate my sabre, I finished the first attack, allowing the blood to splatter all over me from the cut reaching halfway through the neck of the stupid bandit who dared to attack a noble, and using the momentum of the move to swing it on the other side of my torso.
I didn't go for any vitals. Just by blocking the incoming hit of an old sword, I knocked it upward and allowed Helga's momentum to carry me forward.
Before the other party managed to regain control over his weapon, the space I made by dashing forward got filled by Elemo's horse, as this introverted young guy simply slashed his blade against the unguarded torso of the enemy.
By the time I, Elemo and Al appeared behind the enemy line and started to turn, headcount from the barrage and initial counterattack amounted to six bandits, with three falling prey to the guns, one to my sabre, one to the combined efforts of me and Elemo and yet another one that was singlehandedly taken care off by Al, who continued to mutter his tune under his nose!
While any sane man would run if his initial group of eight would turn into just two remaining standing, that wasn't the decision an amateur could take in the heat of the battle right away, especially when he was busy fighting off against the pikes that the militia on the carriage used to keep the bandits in place!
Before even the mounted troops from the forward guard reached the battlefield, the fight was already over.
"Tend to the wounded."
As the heat of the battle died off, and the adrenaline that blocked everything but the killing intent in my mind starter to wear off, I realised that I just took two human lives. One directly and the other one I just took a part off… But I just fucking killed someone!
Be it because of the influence of the system, or even the fact that I might still consider this world as nothing more than a game, the rebound from this transgression was far lesser than I expected it to be. Maybe it was the noble blood that coursed through my modern veins before the transmigration that made me immune to this kind of silly feelings?
After all, those people wanted to kill us!
No quarter given, they shoot before we could even ask any questions!
If I didn't defend myself, then so be it. But it wasn't only my life at the stake!
If I acted like the modern leftist idealists would like me to act and just offered everything I had while baring myself naked for those probably poor people, not only I would betray the trust of my subordinates and militias that they put in me as their leader, I would lose my chance to change the course of the history of my country!
"Give me something to drink."
Jumping down from my horse, I moved to the carriage while watching the militia go around collecting the bodies into one place, while my companions went after the horses of the attackers.
With the servant that used the small amount of booze that all noble would carry around to disinfect the side wound of the other serf that accompanied me before covering the wound with an honest dose of bandages smeared with the traditional ointment made out of a freshly chewed piece of bread and some spider's web mixed together, all I had to do was reach out to get my hands on the drink.
Not showing any signs of a bad reaction to the killing, be it mental or physical, I wanted to take a sip only for the sake of calming down my screaming morality.
Just like in this song of one of the greatest musicians of the modern times…
'Mama, just killed a man.'
"Roads under heaven, roads under the sun, we are riding forward, where the joy and gale"