- 1 Chapter One
- 2 Chapter Two
- 3 Chapter Three
- 4 Chapter Four
- 5 Chapter Five
- 6 Chapter Six
- 7 Chapter Seven
- 8 Chapter Eight
- 9 Chapter Nine
- 10 Chapter Ten
- 11 Chapter Eleven
- 12 Chapter Twelve
- 13 Chapter Thirteen
- 14 Chapter Fourteen
- 15 Chapter Fifteen
- 16 Chapter Sixteen
- 17 Chapter Seventeen
- 18 Chapter Eighteen
- 19 Chapter Ninteen
- 20 Chapter Twenty
- 21 Chapter Twenty-one
- 22 Chapter Twenty-two
- 23 Chapter Twenty-three
- 24 Chapter Twenty-four
- 25 Chapter Twenty-five
- 26 Chapter Twenty-six
- 27 Chapter Twenty-seven
- 28 Chapter Twenty-eight
- 29 Chapter Twenty-nine
- 30 Chapter Thirty
- 31 Chapter Thirty-one
- 32 Chapter Thirty-two
- 33 Chapter Thirty-three
- 34 Chapter Thirty-four
Tellas scowled as the zepplin glided over the waters of the Southern Sea. It seemed as though there was a lot riding on his shoulders and he had been given charge of an opperation that had gone from a milk run into a complicated ambush proposition. Still, he hoped that the more experienced Tigers would listen to his direction and follow the plan. The tension at the last meeting was off the charts and for this to work, everyone needed to keep a sensible distance from the churning emotions.
The zepplin came to a smooth stop in Grom'gol and the Tong crew got to work moving crates off of the deck and down to where Nargesh and the wagons were waiting. Ben's cousin was safely hidden in a specially designed crate and they made it out of the gate with little incident. Tellas didn't even notice the big orc slip under the tarp of the second wagon.
The caravan rolled up the hill and came to a stop at the main road through Stranglethorn. A very pregnant looking Kya was waiting on the bridge over Lake Nazferiti.
"Ho there Kya! Ready to take a trip?" Kayce called cheerfully from his horse. The human smiled and waddled forward. Tellas came down from his place on the front wagon and offered her his arm. Through her teeth Kya muttered "I'll get you for this, Pretty-boy!"
A big show was made of helping her onto the first wagon, and Tellas hoped it was enough of a distraction to keep any spys from noticing the warriors slipping quietly into the center wagon.
With everyone on board, Tellas turned the wagon northward toward Stonard.
The forced feeding wasn't so bad. The vile liquids weren't even too much of an issue. Surely, the room could use some more cheer, but it was still survivable.
It was the bars of a cage.
Entrapped, in a place of closing walls, of cackles carrying evil mirth, of mists that weaved through to freedom and back with such mockery, of rats that nibbled on spare rotten flesh with the temptation of sation to hunger, just out of reach.
A cold and Hellacious prison
The shock of another blow to the face woke her up, drenched in sweat, ready to swing again at her captor. Looking about the inside of the wagon brought a wash of unwanted color to her tearing eyes, and it wasn't long before the weight of eyelids pulled their deceit back over her eyes.
The wagons rolled through the jungle and Tellas spoke quietly into his comm. He tried to make it look like he was having a casual conversation with Kya but was instead going over Krelle's instructions with the hidden blades in the second cart.
"She could attack anywhere along this road but we guess that the most likely spots are somewhere near the bridge to Duskwood, a couple of spots along the Darkshire Road and anywhere in Deadwind Pass. We're to take her alive if we can but if that's not going to happen, make sure to keep her head intact. Krelle knows some folks that can get her to talk even if the rest of her body is left for the vultures. It's critical that we don't spook her. We need to wait until she's on us before we strike, otherwise, she gets away and we'll have to think of something new. Is everyone clear?"
Ollie leaned back on her elbows, her legs stretched before her. Without realizing it, she had started whistling to herself until Kennia clapped one hand over her mouth and put a finger up to her own, signaling that she had to be quiet.
While she could be as stealthy as you please when necessary, unrelieved silence sat poorly with her. Pairing this with the fact that she was tall enough to worry about a telltale bump in the canvas if she sat up straight and her need to be entertained nigh constantly, what had promised to be a good old fashioned tear-it-up mission quickly showed itself to be more of a lie-silently-in-the-back-of-a-cart mission.
Arching her back, she reached down and pulled a well-worn deck of cards out of her back pocket. She lifted them to Kennia and quirked an eyebrow. Fancy a game?
Kennia gave a terse shake of her head and a thin-lipped frown, twisting her head to try to hear what she could through the thick canvas, not willing to be caught with her guard down. She was worried, that was clear, the family was being threatened in more ways than Ollie cared to count. Of course, Kennia was worried.
Ollie shuffled slowly and silently, splitting the deck again and again between her deft fingers. She was worried, too. She found out about 'Lu late and it shook her. She had immediately clamped down on hot feelings of bloody revenge. She would be no good to the family if she operated under a bloodlust, as she learned long ago that her unchecked temper was often her downfall. Using Kya as bait had been a shock too. Ollie was a mook, she knew that and was more or less three stages of okay with being left in the dark for all but the pertinent details, but Kya was a friend and she didn't much care for friends dangling on the end of a fisherman's hook.
Ollie shuffled, pushing the aces to the top while she did so. When we find Nightshade, the thought made her smile. Granted, she didn't have "dibs" on taking care of the druid, but a girl could dream of one or two potshots... maybe a few minutes alone, just the two of them and her trusty hammer. May all the beasts in the Emerald Dream help her if the missing members of the Tong didn't turn up again hale and whole.
Yes, she was worried, lying in the bed of the cart, nerves strumming with the promise of action, but people dealt with stress in different ways. Jaw locked tight, Ollie shuffled her cards.
We need to wait until she's on us before we strike, otherwise, she gets away and we'll have to think of something new. Is everyone clear?
Ollie turned to Kennia for confirmation.
Derona rides alongside the wagon, shifting in the saddle as she looks around at the jungle and sighs. Seemingly a boring ride so far, something was up but she had only been told it was going to be high risk shipment. She idly draws her sword and begins to sharpen it with a whetstone using her knees to guide her mount. Derona can’t help but grin, if she’s lucky she might get to use it before the day is done.
We need to wait until she's on us before we strike, otherwise, she gets away and we'll have to think of something new. Is everyone clear?
Her smile widens as she seemingly nods to herself.
Kennia's mood anly seemed to sour as time went on and still no attack. It was bad enought to get into her armor in silence withen a moving wagon. Now here she was ready to jump and nothing. The head under the canvas wagon was sweltering and there was no breeze to at least offer some relief. Ollie seemed to find a way to pass the time and she was quiet about it. Kennia wished she could find somethingt o ocupy her but instead she waited, her muscles tight. She ran into her mond what she would do to the Druid Bitch. But for now all she could do is wait and cook.
Ollie unlaced her leather tunic and shrugged out of it. In another ten minutes, she had managed to pick the stitches out of the sleeves of her top and pulled them off as well, leaving her in only a tight cotton vest waist up. Kennia arched a brow at her as she settled back down, but Ollie only shrugged.
She'd fight naked if she had to, as long as it meant some reprieve from the heat. Sweat rolled down the back of her neck and the steam of the jungle condensed annoyingly on her bare skin. Of course, she couldn't bring herself to complain too much, one look at Kennia would still her tongue. Kennia was a warrior through and through and wore heavy plate, not the leather duds that Ollie preferred.
She looked up at the leaves casting shadows on the canvas and wondered how much longer until nightfall. Surely the druid would wait until after dusk to attack. Its what I'd do, Ollie thought to herself, pursing her lips. Uncle Dern taught her to keep her eyes sharp and use the cover of darkness to her advantage and not her detriment.
She shifted again and wondered idly how much more of her armor she would shed in an effort to deal with the heat and at what point, if ever, she would begin to grind on her boss' moral sensibilities.
Kennia gave her a quizzical look and Ollie realized she had been grinning like a fool and sobered up immediately. Better not chance it, she decided, thinking it would be best not have to answer for questions from one boss about why you were naked in a cart with his wife and your other boss.
Still, Ollie prayed with all the power of her decidedly non-devout heart that dusk fell soon.
Mur rummaged through her bag, almost burying her entire head into it at times. "Mmrgh, where's that damned lense?" Her face emerges from the bag. "They're garbage anyways." she says, tossing the goggles onto the road. Looking around the caravan, Mur noticed a solemn expression on the crew's faces. She turns her head to her shoulder, eyeing her back and mumbling into her comm. "Come on people... lets turn those frowns upsidedown." She pauses and shakes her head. "If we look like we're expecting death, we'll probably find it. Best if we make ourselves look as inconspicuous as possible. After all... this is just a routine shipment, am I right?" Fastening her bag back to the saddle, Mur pulls her eyes back to the road.
Being out of the loop for so long made Mur a bit cold to this whole situation. She had only really -met- Talula once, and many of the other tigers only a handful of times more than that. Did she hate, this Nightshade character? No. But like many people before her, this particular druid posed a very real threat to the Tong, and that was reason enough for her to do everything in her power to get rid of the pest. And when it came down to it, that is all this mission really was to Mur, pest control.
The Bloodscalp scout scowled from the hilltop as he peered at the caravan going through the jungle below him. It looked like easy pickins', but the shamans had all warned the tribe to avoid confrontation tonight. Something about an eclipse.
The troll growled in frustration as the carts slowly wound their way through the dirt path. He spat on the ground and turned away from the caravan, headed back to the ruins that were his home. If he couldn't get a fight on the road, he'd find it somewhere else.
The caravan creaked on as the sun slowly sunk below the horizon, making its way north out of the Vale and into the waiting darkness of Duskwood.
Kayce rode along side the wagons, ever watchful of the jungle around them. No signs of any disturbance so far. From what he'd heard about this Nightshade character, she was a real psycho, so he's have to be ready for anything. Having lived through a fairly sheltered childhood, excitement and danger were fun for him. He couldn't wait.
But the hours plodded on and the sweltering heat took it's toll on his enthusiasm. His bottom was starting to hurt from riding on horseback for so long and his armor was beginning to chafe with the humidity. But he rode on without complaint. Night began to fall, and still nothing happened. No trolls, no bandits, no psycho druids.
The caravan entered Duskwood and Kayce was thankful for his good night vision. The place was definitely creepy. He vaguely wondered if they were going to stop here for the night or keep traveling though Duskwood in the dead of night. Neither option seemed very appealing to him.
The wagon train didn't stop in the gloomy Alliance town of Darkshire. Kya and Murithi rode openly while the Horde Tong kept their faces hidden. The road was steep into Deadwind Pass and the Tigers grew nervous at the grave silence of the place.
Kayce and Derona exchanged glances as they made out dark shapes resting in the trees. Crows. Dozens of them. Silent and still, they watched the caravan climb higher and higher into the mountians. The afternoon sky dimmed as the shadow of the moon began it's journey across the sun. None of these were good omens.
Reims urged the horses of the third wagon on and Ben leaned over and said "Oi don't loik this". They had almost reached the halfway mark of Deadman's Crossing when Tellas signaled the wagons to halt.
She was standing in the middle of the road ahead. She was wrapped in the midnight blue skin of a great jungle cat. On her body were painted the symbols of death and her hands ended in wicked steel claws. A human face peered up from beneath the panther's head and she said in raspy tones. "My mistress Nightshade sends you congratulations, Kya Nali, on the child you will not live to see. She wishes she could be here with you, but she has a meeting with the Master of Tigers."
The words barely had time to make sense before the raiders stepped out from behind their rocks and charged. The sky grew dimmer still as dozens of angry crows took flight.
Kya, who could not even frustratingly see her own feet, rose shakily to her feet to hear what the female was saying. Her courage had fled and everything was in dizzying disarray. Off balance already from the pregnant guise, she heard the words but they took a few seconds to register.
And then, letting her role of a pregnant woman in rage intersect with the very real horror she felt at the last words she heard, Kya screamed out into the heated air with unbearable fear for Tai, "KENNNNNNNIIIIIIIIAAAAAAAAA!"
As the scream echoed, Kya stood drenched in sweat and panic while the Tigers around her swarmed onto the road where the painted female stood mocking them all.
Kennia felt the wagon stop but it was the yell that really sprang her in action. Using her swords she slashed throught the canvas of the wagon and jumped down to get to Kya. All her training as a knight with her Silvercrane cousins and Blood elf's came to her mind. She was in pure action and all that was in her mand was defend her family even at the cost of her life. Right away she sees a woman in a panther guise. Thinking it the druidess she moves right in to cut the womans lags from under her. Never before was kennia more sure in a battle then she was at that instant. All her training made her body and blades move together.
Reims grabbed Ben and hustled him off of the cart and alongside. He opened the door, winking at Nargesh and the others inside, and stuffed his friend inside. Slamming the door, he drew his blades and turned, ready.
by Oleandre And I'm supposed to be the quick one, Ollie thought with a grimace, watching in awe at Kennia's fleet form slash the canvas and be in the midst of the battle in a trice.
It didn't take her long to follow though, swords singing as they left their sheathes. She took a moment to register the battle. Kennia was already in a bloodlust for the druidess, the rest of the caravan alight with movement. Kya screaming bloody murder. Ollie couldn't figure it though. The druid didn't bother sneaking up on them? Not even attempt at an ambush? Where was the sense in that?
This is a trap. And just as she thought it, something grazed her shoulder, which flared into pain immediately. She spun about, expecting to find an archer, but instead saw two large black birds swooping in on her and a third--the one who already attacked her--doubling back for another go.
"Bloody hell." No one mentioned she had birds. She twirled quickly, trying to get out of their path and brought her sword down. One fell to the ground, a mass of bloody, jet feathers. The others cawed viciously, scattering into the brush. She took off after them.
She was a human, a rather deft one, she told herself, and they were just ravens. Just a couple of birds. Wasn't even a fight, hardly. That's what Ollie told herself, her swords cutting through the air, smarter than average, maybe, but just animals.
When the second one fell, its cawing shriek cut short, she began to believe it too. Ain't nothin' to it, she thought smiling down at the blood mess. She heard the rustling of wings behind her and turned, blades flashing, but it was already too late. Its open beak was coming for her eye. She tried to dodge and it did miss, but only by a hair's breadth, catching her cheek with its razor sharp beak.
Ollie felt the warm trickle dripping down her face. It hurt like hell, but she'd be fine. Better than fine, she'd be ready next time. She crept slowly backwards, watching the trees, waiting for it to make its next swoop. One step, two steps, watching, waiting, silent and crouched.
She bumped into something solid behind her and before the surprise could register, one meaty hand caught her about the waist and a second clamped tightly over her mouth. Her eyes rolled up to the meanest face she had the pleasure of setting eyes on, sharp teeth gleaming as he smiled down at her. Suddenly there were two more faces on either side of her, all grinning.
"Hello, little girl," one said in broken common.
Struggling in the vice-like grip, she gritted her teeth, I knew it was a trap...
Kya’s legs wobbled and threatened to go out from under her. All her past failings began to flash through her mind and the sinking crazed sensation of lacking courage started to drag her down. It was at this juncture that she became acutely aware of the repressed anger bubbling up inside her. Nightshade had come along and ruined what she’d loved the most. But the real problem was not Nightshade.
As long as Kya was willing to blame Nightshade for her failings, she’d never find her own inner strength. Conviction took hold deep inside her. She was not going to let that bitch win. Understanding arose in her mind like a monumentally overgrown Nessy breaking the surface, water swelling away as more and more emerged. Her loss was not about Von after all, but about Kya’s lost courage.
She jumped off the caravan to the ground and drew upon all her rote training and began assessing the situation. “Someone cover Ollie! Mur! BEHIND YOU!” Kya spun and sliced with all the pent up fury she’d been harboring, not letting out.
“Good job, Reims!” she said next to his ear as she turned to help Kennia. Side by side the two warriors worked in unspoken unison, catching each other’s back, a wide grin spreading across Kya’s face. She not felt so powerful in a long long time. Damn, it was good to be angry sometimes.
Out of the corner of her eye, Kya saw something flying towards Kayce’s head. “KAYCE! Duck, NOW!!”
The music starts playing in her head and a smile cross’s Derona’s face as she leaps from her mount, leaving the warhorse to care for itself. Her blade out she seemed to dance as her blade strikes and slices through one of the attackers as it tries to grapple her. The horse behind her was already rearing and kicking at one of the attackers.
The bloody red mist had descended over her eyes, everything seemed to happen with painful slowness. Another attacker strikes her side with wicked claws but she ignores the pain and neatly decapitates the twisted face. Stopping for a brief moment she chants and a red glow surrounds her hands and blade.
Her eyes are drawn by one of the tigers battling with the birds but she frowns as she sees her seized from behind. Ducking under the clawed strike of another attacker she hurls herself at the group of attackers pining Oleandre with an ecstatic smile on her face.
Mur grinned at she hopped down from her horse. "Someone cover Ollie! Mur! BEHIND YOU!" Kya shouted. As her feet hit the ground, Mur stabbed a leg out to her left, tripping her attacker as he swung clumsily over her head. She jumped to her feet and couldn't help but laugh as the man went tumbling along the dusty road. "Thanks for the warning Kya." Mur said, walking towards her disoriented opponent.
"Greetings, friend. I am Murithi Dulsaer, and I would love to get your name before I finish you off and move on to one of your buddies." Grinning, she drew her daggers. Regaining his footing, the man spun around, smirking.
"Well surely you recognize your old brother, now don't ya Mur?" Smiling, she replied. "Ahh, Kard, so good to see you again. I see undeath has been treating you erm... nicely?" The forsaken laughed. "It has actually." Readying his sword, Kard charged at Mur, asking. "How's the family been?" Smirking, Murithi dropped into a defensive stance.
Kayce watched in awe as dozens of ravens took flight from the trees around them. He was momentarily distracted by the surreality of the scene that he didn't see a human warrior lunge at him from the side, swinging a sword and smacking him in the chest.
Kayce was knocked off his horse by the human with a clatter of armor, the wind knocked out of him and a little bruised but not seriously hurt. He grabbed for his ranseur and picked himself up quickly, still gasping for breath as the human swung at him.
He parried and began to fight back, trying to focus through the massive amount of birds flapping around. Just then he heard a woman's voice shout, “KAYCE! Duck, NOW!!”
Kayce ducks without hesitation just in time as a dagger whistles over his head, thrown by a second human attacker, a rogue by his guess. He curses out loud in Darnassian. He pushes the first, clumsier man away as the second one closes in on him. He battles with the rogue, dodging quickly and getting a blow in when he could, but it didn't take long for the warrior to recover and come at him again. All too quickly Kayce found himself fighting two men at once. He smiled grimly. This would be a fun challenge.
After gaining their hostage, Ollie's captors started arguing amongst themselves in what could only be orcish. Ollie didn't speak orcish (some of her detractors said that she could barely speak common), so the details of the argument were lost on her, but she knew that she was the focal point of whatever it was.
And while she had no idea what was being said, we should go ahead and report it for posterity:
"Derg, she's clearly a fighter. Did you see this sword? What kind of mage carries a sword like this," Gorash argued.
Zyk muttered, "Me gran was a warlock. She had a sword."
"Look," Derg said, trying to be the voice of reason, "She's not wearing armor. If she was a fighter, she'd be wearing armor, right? So she's a spellcaster. The mistress was very clear about spellcasters."
"I'm telling you. She's not! Look at her arms, she's got muscles."
Zyk scratched his head, "They all look scrawny to me..."
"We have to gag her," Gorash spoke over them. "Its the only way to be sure."
"No. We have to truss her up."
"I say we kill her. I doubt the mistress will even notice."
"That's always your solution."
"And it always works."
"Maybe we should just knock her out."
"Only if we gag her first."
"Wish we could gag you."
"Fine, fine. We'll gag her, but we have to tie her up too."
"Good, Zyk, get her hands and then we can-- hrk."
Gorash slumped over, Derona's blade protruding from his back. She twisted it once and then pulled it free. "I believe, gentlemen, the answer is to bleed first and then argue second. That is, if you have the breath left to do so."
Derona fell upon them, her grin never faltering.
Kennia eyes glowed with blue fire as she looked around for more bodies to slice open. One sword in red flames the other in bright light. Elven music in her mind and lightly released from her lips, clearly a battle song. One sword sweeping down and as the attacker moves down he finds his face pearces with the sword ponting up. The dance does not stop for Kennia, she looks for an elven woman, the druid. Kennia wants revenge.
Kya’s hair stood up on her arms and back of her neck, she was so alive with adrenaline. Her instincts were finely tuned and ready to pounce, yet something seemed very wrong; she couldn’t quite pin her finger on it. Watch, observe, think! She paused after seeing with relief that Kayce had ducked the flying dagger just in the nick of time. Quickly Kya cast her glance around to see who was engaged and who was not.
Kennia was dancing the dance of her heritage with perfect cadence in all her glory. And what a beautiful sight it was to see her in her penultimate form. She’d be fine for now.
Mur was circling and toying with whomever that undead was, unbelievably talking him into her charm. Kya saw him paying attention to the words Kya could not quite hear and not to her real motives, then smiled. He’d soon be distracted enough to fall when Mur was done toying with him.
There, way off to the side, were Derona and Ollie grinning at each other with that bond of unsurpassed gratitude and skill. How quickly those life and death bonds formed with the level or trust demanded in battle. “Derona!” When the girl turned, Kya cast an intense look of respect to her and jerked her head towards Kayce. Kya watched with admiration as both Ollie and Derona rose to the occasion.
“TELLAS! Where the fel are you!?”
Reims was quickly closing in on the fake druid from behind, fighting off ravens who swooped from the sky to land with talons clenching in his hair. He was silent, but deadly - a real asset, and Kya did not worry about him in the least as he fended them off skillfully. But the fake Druid laughed her evil laugh and then stood there mocking Kya with shining eyes.
The goose bumps rose on Kya’s arms. Kya suddenly realized what was wrong. Nothing was attacking Kya at all. She stepped closer to the creature and threw her baby padding off to the side of the road to free her for better balance. She studied the creature’s markings and then stopped seven feet from her. Raising a brow, Kya spoke with a calmness that belied her alert and tense state, “You’re nothing but a decoy. And a poor one at that.”
Tellas snatched up his bow and nocked an arrow. He aimed for the druid in front of them but the horses spooked at the last second and his shot went wide. He dropped from the wagon to get better footing and tried to keep an eye on where the woman was while dodging birds that dive-bombed his head.
"Fel with this," He thought. Whistling sharply, a blur of yellow and orange scales rocketed from the sky. Crows called out in surprise and then were silenced as a gout of flame cooked them in mid-flight.
"Vanima! Keep on the crows!" he yelled at the dragonhawk and once again took aim at the feral woman.
An orc stepped into his line of sight and he rolled backward, dropping his bow and drawing the axes at his hips. Another blow whistled toward his head. He raised one axe to parry the blade and used the other to chop deeply into his enemies side. He looked back to where the druid had been and didn't see her. He heard Kya's voice yell "Tellas! Where the fel are you?" Quickly scanning the battle, he saw his target near Kya. He raced toward the human even as she tore the disguise from her body and at that moment, two more henchmen stepped into his path.
He saw one begin to cast and reached out to pull the mana away from the spell. He felt the magic race through his veins and his eyes began to glow a menacing green. In the back of his mind was the nagging thought that Krelle had made him responsible for this caravan but he found that the status of the silks mattered less to him right now than bringing retribution down on the house of Nightshade. He couldn't help but feel a surge of delight that for once, the skills he valued were being put to use.
Crouching low, he smiled maliciously at the two henchmen in front of him. Of all the music and dances he had learned over the course of his long life, these were his favorites: The clash of steel on steel and the whirling of bodies in combat.
Nightshade's champion watched the human look around in confusion. She saw the exact moment when the realization of what was wrong sunk in.
The human turned, a look of determination on her face, and pulled the padding from beneath her shift. It was unexpeced and the champion's eyes flicked to the bundle of cloth on the ground and then back to her target.
The woman Kya spoke, suprisingly calm despite the shadow of death that lingered over her. “You’re nothing but a decoy. And a poor one at that.”
The champion smiled. "It would seem we both are. No matter. The fact that you have no child that can be ripped from your womb doesn't alter your fate any."
The fake druid stepped into a battle stance and raised her clawblades for the attack.
Rage swelled and burst out of Kya while she opened her mouth and screamed a blood curdling battlecry. Her sword poised and ready, Kya squared herself to fend off the lunge by Nightshade’s Champion. Metal clashed and jarred her wrists, but her grip tightened with her jaw as she found the hardened core of strength she’d forgotten she had.
Their movements slowed in Kya’s mind as she hit with accuracy and grace, parrying with precision. It was the kind of intensity that took all your immediate awareness and magnified it tenfold. Sweat flew from her forehead as she spun and backslashed, slicing a satisfying cut diagonally through the decoy’s thigh. Fire burned in Kya when she saw the surprise in the champion’s face.
Kya felt, rather than saw, a whirlwind of blades enter into her vision just as a crow sunk it’s claws into her neck. She’d left her back open, thinking the only danger was in front of her. Her hair flew forward from the flapping of the wings and obscured her vision from seeing Kennia fully. The Boss Lady had taken the heat of the fake druid off Kya, mercifully, but now Kya had other worries.
She threw her sword down to try to grasp the crow off her just as the beast bit down hard into a spot perilously close to the jugular vein of her neck. Blood spurted out, arcing in a spray while Kya began turning in circles to extricate the bird off using centrifugal force along with all her arms’ strength. She fell to her knees and rolled when the force required to continue became too much. In one last burst of energy, Kya wrenched the bird free from her neck and swung its head against the side of a tree near where she’d landed. It stunned the bird but had weakened it, and when it came back for more it was at half power.
Kya had spent everything she had and was about to pass out when she saw the shadow of someone battling the crow off Kya. In the peace just prior to complete loss of consciousness, Kya felt the excruciating pierce of a claw slice near her kidneys. She reached a hand back with a moan to feel nothing wrong with her own back, with confusion ensuing just as the blackness overtook her.
Somewhere far off in another battle, an elf and a man fought the real druid and one of them had a claw slashing into his lower back.
Derona wrenches her blade from the broken torso and with a nod at Ollie turns to find her next target. Through the red haze she sees Kya point and shout. The music begins to increase in tempo and volume as she runs towards the direction indicated with blade held low.
Her eyes take in combatants and in an instant she identifies the most vulnerable enemy and strikes. With a terrifying battle scream she drives her sword into the unguarded back of warrior.
The warrior looks at Kayce with shocked eyes and has time to glance at the blade protruding from his chest before it rips out through his side, spraying blood into the air.
As the man falls Derona raises her blade and quickly tastes the blood on it. Alone in the mist she smiles and the music begins to rise in a glorious crescendo.
Kayce struggles with the warrior until suddenly a sword appears in front of him, skewering the warrior from behind. Derona rips the blade out his side and Kayce is sprayed with his blood. He sees her lick the warrior's blood from her blade and he opens his eyes wide, wrinking his nose.
He decided that now was not the time to be sick and he took the opportunity of the shocking display to slash at the rogue who was also stunned. Kayce's ranseur came down on the rogue's shoulder at an angle and slices into his exposed neck. The rogue falls to the ground with a snapped spine.
Kayce pauses to catch his breath and nods in thanks to Derona even as she spins away, lost in her vicious dance. He scans the battlefield quickly to see who was wounded and who needed help. He knew he was probably the youngest and least-experienced fighter here, and he felt determined to make himself useful in some way. He knew Ollie and Derona were more than capable of helping Tellas and Reims, so he turned his attention to the injured Kya lying on the ground.
Kayce rushed to Kya's side and examined her. She was bleeding from the neck rather badly and she was unconsious. Not a good sign. He concentrated on focusing the healing Light on her, through the flapping and fighting around him.
The caravan door swung wide as A hurried Reims threw a weightless Ben in with a slight, "Oof!". Seeing that it was his time, the big Orc rose to his feet.
And the door was shut just as quickly as it was opened. Nargesh frowned. Turning to look at the youthful Forsaken dead in the eye, he said in complete seriousness, "If you leave this wagon, I will cut your legs off!"
From out of the wagon burst a steel-clad Orc, fully clad in plate, axe in hand and ready to rock. To the right, Derona was rushing toward Ollie to help her. A large wolf was bounding after her right in front of him, but it was quickly stopped.
In turning, he could see Kayce ducking from a command barked by Kya, but there were others in the woods creeping up to his position.
To his left, the snap of branches was an affront to his attention. A blur of green and a second later, the axe fell, and the figure separated into respective pieces. An audible intake of air brought the weapon back, parrying a shot from behind. The whirling blade found his face, and with another step forward and continued momentum, another fell.
Where is she, he thought quickly, scanning the surroundings. Where is that devil cat?
Kennia. Kya. Nargesh frowned, and almost dived forward before something held him quite still in that moment. No. No, they need this fight. They deserve to deliver the blow.
Another crash came from the woods, and without time for a reaction, the enormous Orc was bowled over by two leaping worgs, with a third just visible from behind them. Fifteen hundred pounds of fur and fury tore at Nargesh as he pushed and swung frantically for freedom. Razors scratched at the plate continuously, finding places bearing only flesh for rending. Animals. Beasts of burden. Pests.
A gauntlet reached out to catch hold of one of the oversized wolf’s throat, and with a grip that could bend steel and a hard jerk, ripped the wind pipe out of its neck. Even as the red haze burst forth and its companion continued its own assault, the Orc delivered a hard left hook into the standing worg’s jaw. The third bound toward the opening, but received a steel boot in its face. Nargesh used the dieing worg’s shoulder fur to hoist himself back to his feet, great axe in hand. Two swift cuts brought the remaining beasts to the ground, twitching from the shock.
What a waste of a good mount, he thought as he hoisted his axe back to both hands, ready to continue.
Tellas alternated between enemies, blocking a blow from this one, causing a blow to that one. Vanima dove into the flock of crows wheeling toward Nargesh, roasting most of them and grabbing the one that got away in razor sharp fangs.
He caught sight of Kayce sprinting forward to heal a downed Kya. "The kid needs cover" he thought and whistled to the dragonhawk to give the halfie some backup.
He turned his full attention back to the orc and human. Releasing some of the energy he had absorbed, he disrupted another spell and hacked into the orc's leg. He landed a second blow to the orcs shoulder as he fell then turned to face the human.
She was quick, he would give her that, but she couldn't match his reach. He blocked a series of blows, then gave her a slash that nearly severed her arm. The human screamed in pain and darted in for one final strike with her dagger before falling.
Tellas turned to see where he was needed and took two steps before feeling the burn in the wound on his chest. He looked down and saw blood trickling down his front. "It not deep," he thought as his vision grew blurry. He stumbled, his head swimming.
"The blades are poisoned!" he yelled before blacking out.
Murithi sighed as her older brother began his charge. Reaching down to her belt, she pulled up a rather strange looking firearm, aimed and shot. "We can talk later, Kard, but as you can see, I've got other matters to attend to at the moment." A large net erupted from the muzzle of the gun and slammed into the charging forsaken, knocking him into the ground and tangling him in a mess of rope and wire. As he struggled to free himself, Mur walked over to him, and with the hilt of her dagger, gave him a sharp blow across the head. As Kard slumped to the ground, Mur examined the situation.
Two of the elves, Derona and Kayce, she believed, seemed to be doing alright, but the third, Tellas, looked to be having some trouble finishing off one last rogue.
Mur crept up behind Tellas' opponent, and just as she was about to strike, the rogue turned. Mur tilted her head, pulling her dagger out of the woman's chest. She grinned at Tellas, saying "Not quite what I was going for, but it worked all the... you alright?" Tellas' eyes glazed over and a sickly look came over his face. "The blades are poisoned!" he shouted before dropping to the road.
Mur took a quick read of his vitals, and dragged him back to the relative safety of the wagons. There, she patched up his chest wound with a few bandages before heading back to the fight.
Kennia turns looking at Kya her swords covered on gore. Seeing her pull out the padding it dawns on her that the prey they wanted is not here. Then it hits Kennia......Tai. Kennia reaches to her ear to call for Tai with all of a sudden her eyes flash and then her world goes black with pain. A huge Orc with a club came from a tree and landed swinging the club to the back of Kennia's head. Kennia falls to the ground in a heap. The only thing that saved Kennia was the fact that she turned to look at Kya.
Derona watches the battle with new clarity, every blow seeming to slow to a crawl. She watches Kya Nali fall, and then sees Kayce run to her side but her eyes our drawn to the figure beyond them.
The enemy leader smiles as she raises a claw blade behind Kayce, her eyes alight with victory. With a single word and a gesture a golden protective glow surrounds the forms of Kayce and Kya Nali.
Even as the glow appears Derona runs through the battle, her eyes focusing on the woman. With a powerful thrust of her legs she launches herself over Kayce and Kya towards the champion, her blade coming down at the champion’s neck.
All that remained was picking off the rest of Nightshade's guards and checking on the injured.
Their organization was based on many things, Tai's leadership, Kennia's ferocity, the familial bond of all the members. But it was also based upon the threat they posed. The threat is what kept every would-be thug and racketeer from muscling in on their territories. The threat was a machine and like all machines, every now and again it needed to be oiled.
As Ollie bared down on one of the attackers, she thought to herself, When the story is told of how a Tong caravan was assaulted on a road in the Vale, how should that story end?
A quick thrust and the attacker fell beneath her blades. No survivors. And thus, the machine was oiled with the blood of their assailants.
It wasn't always an easy thing though. Chasing down one of the runners, he turned on his heel and made one last ditch effort at self-preservation, jabbing wildly with a dagger. The dagger went home, sinking deeply into her side. Ollie screamed, full of pain and rage, and pulled free the dagger, returning it to him with interest. He slumped to the ground and she spat on the corpse, aware that it was spiteful and childish of her.
Then she turned, hand clamped on the wound in her side and staggered back to camp.
With all of the enemies downed, Kayce surveyed the area for the wounded. Kya was taken care of and resting. He turned to Ollie who was holding her side. He looked at her with concern when he saw the blood.
"Let me help you," he said in Common. He opened his pack and took out a roll of bandages. Then he lifted up the hem of her blouse to look at her side. The deep gash made him furrow his brow and frown. He gently cleaned the wound and then began wrapping her around the waist with bandages.
When he was finished he said, "One more thing to help it along." He placed both his hands on her side and concentrated, calling forth the cooling, healing Light. After a few moments he looked up at her and smiled boyishly. "You should be good to go, Miss."
With that he went looking for Tellas. He was already bandaged but looking pale and clammy from the poison. Tellas opened his eyes weakly. Kayce cast a healing spell to purify the elf's body of the poison but it was a bit too strong and he wasn't able to get it all out. He frowned, looking a bit drained from all the spellcasting. "I did what I could. The worst of it should be gone, but you'll have to sleep off the remaining effects."
Kayce left Tellas to rest and then sat down heavily at the edge of the road for a rest himself with his head bowed.