It seemed the local lord had sent his thugs around again to collect taxes. These ones were claiming Saldean was so late on his that they’d have to start extracting labor from him instead.
One of them grabbed the arm of Saldean’s son — the hot-blooded youth who had spoken up before — and started to drag him away. Saldean protested, but the thugs unsheathed swords and pointed them around threateningly. One flicked his fingers and conjured a ball of fire in his hands with an evil grin.
The farmers bowed their heads. They were unarmed and no match for these bullies.
Ezran’s hands tightened on his sword. He, however, was.
The thugs hadn’t seen him, hidden in the crowd as he was. As they began to wrestle Saldean’s son away, Ezran swiftly stepped behind one and delivered a solid strike from his hilt to the back of the man’s head. The human stumbled, and while he was dazed, Saldean’s son twisted out of his grip, and both he and Ezran shoved the man over.
Then Ezran pivoted on his heel, whipping his sword out in a semi-circle. The farmers were stunned. So were the thugs. Ezran took the moment of surprise to give them a thrashing they wouldn’t soon forget.
Out of the frying pan and into the fire. As he laid the last thug low — he was trying not to kill them, only subdue them — there came a horse’s whinny from the road. It seemed the Stormwind official who was investigating the Furlbrows’ murders had arrived
“Quick, in here!” shouted Saldean, shoving Ezran and the dazed thugs down into his cellar. Ezran went without argument, and above him, he heard the scrapings and rattlings as someone quickly covered the trapdoor with a rug and a set of drawers.
The voices of the Stormwind authorities were muffled, but Ezran read no alarm or anger there. After a long few minutes, the voices from above died down, and then there came the shuffle of the drawer and rug on the trapdoor again.
Light fell across Ezran’s face as the trapdoor was opened, and he had to squint to see. Saldean’s family ringed the chute, their expressions running the full range between anxious and hopeful.