The caravan ground to a halt, its passage down the road blocked by the lead wagon. One horse was still on the ground, crying in pain, while Willam was trying frantically to get it back on its feet. The caravan owner wiped his forehead, taking hole of the reins with both hands and trying to direct the wounded animal to stand back up. Its cries were unnerving the other horses; they stamped and snorted, shuffling back and forth in their harnesses and rocking the wagons. At last, the caravan guards returned fire, resting the stocks of their crossbows on the wooden beams of the wagons for added stability. A series of shots sounded in rapid succession, the reliable weapons sending a flurry of steel towards the hill. Some of the shots missed, sailing past their targets or adding to the collection protruding from the broken wagon. Others struck home, pitching their targets to the ground and eliciting nervous looks from the other bandits. Already, things were going badly for them. One of the outriders drove the point home, spurring his horse forward and leaning down from the saddle to strike one of the bandits sheltered behind the wagon. The man's head rolled away, his body dropping to the ground. Moments later, a storm of return fire from panicking bandits peppered the horseman. He tensed, pulling the reins, and his horse reared. Tumbling from the saddle to land in a heap, the guard lay still where he had fallen.
Behind the furious contest of archery, Indrys rode forward, pulling powders from a pouch and raising his hand. In a flash of multicoloured light, one of the bandits fell, knocked insensate by the magic. His companion raised his bow, sending a shot at the elf as he backed away. It struck home, raising a bloom of pain in Indry's leg. His display of magic had served to incapacitate one bandit, but it had also earned him some unwanted attention. A bolt of magical force slammed into him, directed by the bandit spellcaster. Secure amidst the largest concentration of remaining bandits, the man was looking intently at Indrys, eager to see if his spell had finished the job.
Barely thirty feet away, Thorus' morningstar whirled, his target ducking under the swing and retaliating with a badly aimed stab that didn't even scratch the ex-soldier's armour. The other bandits, unfortunately, were doing considerably better. Confident that their friend was keeping the enemy horseman busy, and that the sorcerer would deal with Indrys, the three with crossbows took aim at the caravan once again. Bolts flew, thudding into their targets and sinking deep. One of the guards - Cecily thought it looked like Erne - ducked, the metal shaft glancing off his helmet. Willam, contrary to his name, had not thought to bring a helmet, or didn't see the shot to duck. He slumped sideways in the driver's seat, the reins falling from his hands. Perhaps sensing its master's fall, or desperate to get away from its fallen brethren, one of the horses pulling the lead wagon jerked forwards, its harness snapping as it took flight. Dayne shouted, kicking his mount to give chase, but he never made it: the last of the black-feathered bolts arced over the wagon beside him, striking him square in the chest and hurling him from his horse.