The Marshal's Road: The Last of the Strongmen - 3.

Serg lingered for a bit following the combat, Aaron and the two men quickly milling around the crowd settling bets as Serg mingled with his onlookers. Men slapped his shoulders, some telling stories of the battles they had seen Serg turn singlehanded as others glared in reverence. Women fawned over him, thin fingers tracing his massive arms as offers were made in whispered passing. Children stared in shocked delight, the man the closest any had come to seeing a true monster. Kisses were planted, grateful gamblers stuffed coins, and everyone walked away satisfied from their encounter with celebrity, the whole whirlwind leaving Serg breathless. 

"We're all set whenever you are, m'Lord," Aaron whispered, the other two securing the last of their things on the wagons. 

"Then we roll," Serg replied with a smile, turning from the crown with a mighty wave; their voices carrying him as he made way the covered wagon. He gave them one more smile, flexing his massive arms for them one more time before disappearing into his wagon, slamming shut the heavy wooden door as Aaron climbed up front; whipping the horses forward. 

"We clear?" He heard a strained voice whisper as the town slowly drifted from view. 

"Very much so," Serg replied, his keep eye glancing out a small opening on the door, watching his adoring crowd fade off down the road. 

"Good," said the voice; its speaker pulling a heavy sheet off him as the dark man sat up. 

"You did good, Louis. Very convincing." Serg said, his heavy voice hard to understand as he spoke quietly, making sure not to carry beyond the wooden carriage. 

"I should hope so, you heavy handed ass. Think you broke a rib with those punches." The man replied, wincing a bit as he took labored breathes. 

"And those bastards ate it up, Louis. Ate it fucking up!" Serg said with a smile, taking a seat on the floor next to his fellow combatant; packing a pipe with tobacco as he did. 

"All the same, don't think I'll be of much use to you in the next town. Need a few days to heal up." 

"Louis... We don't have a few days. We'll be in Smythe by midday, and hopefully riding out for Candar the day after." 

"I'm hurt, Serg..." 

"Fine. I'll get one of the other boys to work the ring." Serg lamented, hardly looking forward to his remaining option. 

"Whatever. Just for the next town, Serg, I should be ready for Candar." 

"Fine, fine. Just rest up, Louis. Ain't those boys got what you got... Might have to make it a two on one just to make it interesting..." Serg answered back, aromatic smoke rolling from his bloodied lips as he sat back, his body sore from the battle. 

The next morning, the troop stopped a few miles outside of Smythe, Aaron and Serg going over the plans with the two boys, Davey and Stephan. Serg had worked with both of them before; his tendency to hurt Louis demanding the occasional stand in. Stephan was good with the sword and understood how things were supposed to work during the combat portion of their little spectacle. But he had no showman in his blood, the job requiring more than an ability to wield the steel. Davey was a bit better at the intangibles. Young, handsome, and roguish- the boy understood how to sweep up a crowd. But those same gifts failed him at the physical end, the lad looking like a child as he squared off to the massive Serg. 


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