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Bloodfang Chronicles: DotB, Chapter Two: RotBK

EmotivorousAzin Feb 26th, 2020 (edited) 209 Never
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  1. Bloodfang Chronicles: Dawn of the Beginning
  2.  
  3. Chapter Two: Raid on the Bandit Keep
  4.  
  5.  
  6.     Marching along the dirt path that leads to the town of Greystone, the assembled group of warriors and scouts keep their senses sharp, unable to afford an ambush. The one marching in front of the group, a tall, armored she-wolf, keeps a hand on the revolver holstered on her hip. With nothing more than a point of her finger, the trained combatants follow her into the woods and off of the path, her nose following the scent of blood.
  7.  
  8. The plant life yields to their advance, small shrubbery and grass being trampled underfoot as the war-party makes their way to a hill that overlooks a wide clearing, many trees having been cut down to make the tall log walls. The walls have two gates built into them, and inside the makeshift construction, a few wooden buildings are seen. One of them is larger than the rest, seeming to be the barracks or headquarters for the marauding criminals.
  9.  
  10. “Well...there it is,” Kura says as she holds up a hand, halting the march of the ones sent along by her father. “Everyone rest up, and we’ll go over a plan of action before we make our way to the keep! Maintain a lookout, and make sure no one, and no thing sneaks up on us!”
  11.  
  12. Relaxing in their stances, the warriors begin to fan out, cutting down and stomping the nearby plants to clear a space to set up a temporary campsite. A gesture from Kura leads the warrior over, the same one that nodded to her in the city. “Lieutenant Corvus, it’s nice to see you again, though I do wish the circumstances were a bit more relaxed.”
  13.  
  14. Corvus nods his head, his light grey fur seen between the gaps in his armor, and on his broad muzzle. “Indeed, Lady Kura. Though I would call cleaning up our lands to be a positive thing, regardless of relaxation,” he says with a soft, casual smirk, the two having met a number of years ago after her father recruited him into his guard. “It’s about all the excitement I get these days, too. What else is a Vampirican Lieutenant to do in peacetime?”
  15.  
  16. “I happen to recall a fair bit of paperwork on your desk yesterday. Surely you’re plenty busy with such an important position,” she teases, chuckling softly as she leads Corvus to a fallen tree nearby, taking a seat.
  17.  
  18. Sitting down with a grunt, he gives a mock frown, pretending to take offence to her remark. “What kind of leader actually does paperwork? No, that is delegated to one’s lessers.”
  19.  
  20. The two maintain eye contact for another moment before smiling and snickering, unable to hold back their mirth any longer. “I d-don’t know how I said that with a straight face,” he says with a shuddering snicker, making Kura laugh aloud.
  21.  
  22. “Nor d-do I. Oh, I apologize for my teasing, Corvus. It really is good to see you again,” says Kura, giving him a quick hug, which he returns. “However, I am sure that we will need to come up with an idea for getting inside the keep.”
  23.  
  24. “Well, we could always charge head first at them, and hope for the best.”
  25.  
  26. “I meant serious idea, Corvus,” she says with a roll of her eyes, getting another chuckle from her old friend. “We can’t just charge an encampment like that, and I can see the sentry positions from here. I can’t make out who is on the walls, however…”
  27.  
  28. “In honesty? Plan how you would do this, and we will follow that plan. If things start looking bad, I can resume command at any point. I have faith in you.”
  29.  
  30. “I...appreciate it, Corvus. It’s a bit nerve wracking in some ways. I’m not concerned about the risk of injury, but...death is an entirely different subject,” she says with a contemplative expression as her gaze moves to the dirt beneath her. “I don’t want to lead anyone to their deaths.”
  31.  
  32. “Sorry to say, but that’s too bad. Everyone dies one day, and war takes many to an early grave. None here would resent you for dying in defence of their homes under your leadership,” he says, reaching up to place a hand on her shoulder. “It’s inevitable. Besides, is the idea of meeting your patron like that really such a scary one?”
  33.  
  34. Keeping her gaze on the ground for another moment, she then sighs softly before giving Corvus a soft smile. “No, but...I don’t want to be remembered as the one who died to some bandit because I was too weak to protect myself. I am a Huntress...or, one in training, anyways.”
  35.  
  36. “You’ll be fine, Kura. Or do you not believe in me and my warriors?” he questions with a cocked eyebrow, his features growing a bit stoic. “No lasting harm will come to you, you have plenty of shields to take cover behind.”
  37.  
  38. Sighing softly, Kura nods her head, looking into her friend’s eyes with a cheeky smile. “What would I do without you?”
  39.  
  40. “Well, you would probably be a lot worse with a blade without me. You were terrible when you first started, couldn’t cut the arm off a Mauser if you had a clear swing. You’re still not that good, but you’re getting there. Maybe one day you’ll actually win a sparring match against me, too,” he jokes with a laugh, his eyes showing clear humor.
  41.  
  42. “Just like you might win a shooting contest against me one day? Let’s not delude ourselves, we both know neither of those will happen.”
  43.  
  44. Sharing a laugh with each other, Kura stands from the log, her eyes scanning over the mostly complete refuge, a few scouts missing from their ranks in search of various dangers that may be lurking nearby.
  45.  
  46.  
  47. “Here’s my plan. We use the scouts to flank the gates, shooting the bandits that are keeping sentry, while the bloodletters move forwards, weaving to avoid the return fire in the event that the scouts fail to stop the sentries. Once inside, we will spread out, cutting down whoever draws arms, and free whoever they may have taken captive,” Kura explains after a moment of silence, her smile growing when she sees the curious expression on the Lieutenant’s face.
  48.  
  49. “And where do you fit into this plan, exactly? Will you be moving with the scouts to remove the sentries?”
  50.  
  51. Shaking her head a bit, she points above the wall, her smile turning into a grin. “I’m going above the wall once the gates are open. Greedyguts is demoralizing enough to possibly cause panic among their ranks, meaning we would all have a simpler time of clearing the keep out. While he runs rampant, Jack and I will progress with the bloodletters, and make our way to the central building.”
  52.  
  53. “That’s where their leader likely is, you’re reasoning?”
  54.  
  55. “Indeed. Whether they are cut down in or outside of the building matters not. What’s most important is stopping as many as we can,” she says, her hands resting on her hips.
  56.  
  57. Taking the time to mull over the plan for a few moments in silence, Corvus soon turns to look up at Kura. “Not a bad plan. We’ll give it a shot, and see how it goes. What say you? Shall we begin?”
  58.  
  59. With a nod of her head, Corvus’ expression becomes serious as he looks around the camp, then calls for the soldiers to form ranks. The previously resting troops rise from their makeshift camp, listening closely to the instructions explained to them.
  60.  
  61. “We will not let these bandits terrorize our home any longer. No longer will we fear these menaces pillaging our caravans, and kidnapping their victims,” Corvus calls to the group, getting them pumped up for the battle ahead. With a simple gesture of Kura’s arm, the scouts begin to slink off towards the sides of the encampment, and the bloodletters ready themselves to charge once the sentries are taken care of.
  62.  
  63. The scouts progress, their armor, along with the sun hanging low in the sky, allows them to remain unseen. Flashes are soon seen, and Kura points forwards as she draws her revolver from its sheath with her free hand, causing the bloodletters to charge forwards, each holding their weapons at the ready. Lieutenant Corvus also joins the charge, each staying silent to gain as much ground as possible before being fired at.
  64.  
  65. “Here we go, hehehe. I’m itching to get in there and finally fight something bipedal for once,” Jack says running alongside Kura as she moves behind the large group of armored warriors. “Been way too long since I’ve enjoyed a battle.”
  66.  
  67. “Calm yourself. Letting your emotions control you will lead to you getting shot. Again,” Kura says with a deadpan, her loaded weapon at her side. A loud crack of gunfire is heard, and one of the warriors cries out in pain as a spray of blood shoots from his shoulder, the bullet having done straight through. “Move like we planned! They can’t hit all of us if we don’t keep still!”
  68.  
  69. Urgently heeding her words, they split up, bullets ripping through the earth as the sounds of automatic gunfire is heard, along with the occasional bit of sniper fire. The scouts can be seen moving towards the walls from other directions, their silenced rifles quickly dispatching the Wolvarian bandits along the wall. Jack gives a yelp as a round hits an inch away from where his foot is, growling in annoyance from the close call.
  70.  
  71. “That’s it, this one is mine!” he shouts as he charges ahead of Kura, her eyes widening a bit in surprise as she witnesses Jack run full speed towards one of the bloodletters. Once Jack reaches him, he jumps onto the metal clad wolf’s back before leaping into the air, his fingers grasping a pistol. He draws it in a quick, practiced movement, finger pulling the trigger and sending a round at the enemy, causing the automatic fire to cease for now as the bandit takes cover. “Damn! I have to get closer!”
  72.  
  73. “Jack, remember the plan! Eugh...I’m not letting him make another comment about my emotions after this…”
  74.  
  75. Kura sighs, flinching as a sniper bullet whizzes past her face, narrowly missing her armored head. She points her revolver at where the muzzle flash originates, firing three bullets in rapid succession, each of them hitting the wall around the small hole that is being used to shoot from. The automatic gunfire begins again, though the bloodletters have gotten quite close, a couple of them reaching the gates. Those two soon fall to the ground as they get riddled with bullets from the sentry’s automatic weapon, dead before they hit the ground, and Jack growls again at the sight.
  76.  
  77. Unfortunately for the Thelgen shooter, his race now identifiable due to the shortened distance, he leaned out to make the shot, allowing Jack the chance to aim and pull the trigger again. This round hits true, painting the wall, and his feathers a scarlet red, slumping before falling over the wall, and hitting the ground with an audible crunch.
  78.  
  79. “Get those doors open! Don’t retreat!” cries one of the remaining bloodletters, his weapon jabbing between the gaps in the logs to stab a bandit that is holding the door shut. Cries of pain from behind the wall are heard as the others follow this example, the gates starting to be pushed open.
  80.  
  81.  Kura grins, opening the revolving chamber of her firearm before slipping a bullet into one of the six free chambers. Closing the chamber with a satisfying click, still grinning as she begins to aim at the ground a few feet ahead of her, her finger slowly squeezes the trigger.
  82.  
  83. A shot rings out, and Kura flinches softly in surprise, able to see Jack beginning to fall forwards, a large hole seen in his head. Before he hits the ground, his body seems to disintegrate into a black mist that soon settles onto the ground, seeping into the soil. Cocking the hammer back, Kura fires three more times at the sniper, one bullet seeming to have flown through the hole that the sniper barrel is poking out of.
  84.  
  85. “Let’s see how they like my old friend here,” she says with noticeably less cockiness than before, quickly firing a round at the ground a few feet from her. When the bullet strikes the ground, a shimmer ripples through the air, and a large gryphon seems to form into existence a few feet in front of her. Without a sound, the gryphon lowers itself for Kura to climb on, then spread its wings once she is securely on his back. “Get em, Greedyguts.”
  86.  
  87. With a loud, piercing cry, the beast flaps its wings to generate the lift needed to sail over the wall, several bandits giving cries of alarm before trying to flee. They don’t get very far before Greedyguts charges them, knocking a couple of bandits over before clamping its beak down on one of their heads. The muffled screams come to a stop as the gryphon twists its beak, forever silencing the bandit, and snuffing out his life.
  88.  
  89. “R-run!” shouts a bandit with a cry of fear, watching in horror as the gryphon tosses the bandit’s body into the air, then catches him before starting to swallow him whole. Kura hops off of her mount, shooting a couple of bandits in the legs before running towards and up the ramp that leads to the sniper’s tower.
  90.  
  91. Warcries join the cries of fear in the air, the bloodletters entering through the now open gates and spreading out, cutting down bandits with lethal efficiency and skill. Upon arriving at the sniper tower, Kura sees that the shooter has abandoned their weapon, the lack of blood showing she missed all of her shots. “Shit...where did they go?”
  92.  
  93. Barely registering the sound of a bolt whizzing through the air in time, Kura just manages to move in time to avoid a crossbow bolt to the neck, which now juts out of the wall near her. Wasting no time, she jumps into action, sailing through the air and landing on one of the rooftops. She tenses as she feels the ceiling shift under her, and her breath is forced from her lungs as she falls through the roof and hits the hard, wooden ground, her vision swimming a bit from the impact.
  94.  
  95. “Grrrr…”
  96.  
  97. Kura lifts her head a bit, yelping at the sight of a large sword swinging down at her, and rolling to the side, wood chips flying as the sword slams into the ground. A white furred Ursan holds the sword, her metal and leather armor striking quite an intimidating figure, especially given that her height nearly matches Kura’s.
  98.  
  99. “Think you’re gonna kill me, huh? Think I’m weak, huh!?” the Ursan shouts, her eyes starting to glow red as her already considerable muscles swell even more. Kura wastes no time in an attempt to raise her weapon, but is forced to dodge when the sword is swung again. The polar Ursan then surprises Kura by dropping her sword and charging at her unarmed, hands clenched into fists.
  100.  
  101. “Come here so I can kill you!”
  102.  
  103. She swings a fist, which connects with the side of Kura’s armor, the vibrations she feels through the suit jarring her. Gritting her teeth, Kura gives a growl as she is forced to the ground, the Ursan grinning in homicidal glee as she pulls an arm back, then starts to throw it forwards. A gunshot rings through the room, and the Ursan hesitates as she grimaces in pain, a bullet lodged in her right knee from Kura’s pistol. Her fist hits the floor, forcing a cry of pain from her as the cracking of broken bones is heard from the impact.
  104.  
  105. “Gah! You bitch! Just die alre-”
  106.  
  107. The Ursan is cut off as another gunshot sounds out, and she remains still for a couple of moments before coughing up a fair bit of blood, the glow in her eyes dying down as she looks down at her chest. The gaping hole in her armor and chest is quite clear, and her blood spills onto the wolf below her as she slumps over and atop Kura, completely unmoving.
  108.  
  109. Kura remains still for several moments, panting as the adrenaline that courses through her system begins to wear off, then groans as she shoves the body off of her with a grunt of exertion. Slowly getting to her feet, she takes note of the large sword that the woman was trying to kill her with, knowing she will want to bring it home once the mission is complete.
  110.  
  111. “Damn...w-well, that scared a few years off of my life expectancy, I imagine. I still need to find that sniper…grrr…”
  112.  
  113. A memory flashes through her head, recalling the large hole in Jack’s head after the bullet tore through it, extremely unhappy that they shot him. “You’ll pay…”
  114.  
  115. Kura’s armor clinks softly as she approaches the exit of what appears to be the barracks, then kicks the door off of its hinges before stepping back outside. Her eyes scan over the fort, seeing a number of bandits still up and fighting. Letting out a yelp as a crossbow bolt ricochets off of her armor, her eyes narrow at the direction it came from.
  116.  
  117. Opening the chamber of her weapon once more, Kura loads two more bullets into the pistol, then fires them at the ground. Two furless canine creatures appear, their opaque eyes looking around as they receive the order to hunt down the one that shot the bolt, and kill them.
  118.  
  119. The bone hounds are protected in some locations on their body by bones of other creatures, held to their skin with their own dried saliva, which acts as a glue. They tear off in seperate directions, sniffing at the air as they hunt for their prey, their featureless eyes glancing back and forth. Catching the scent of someone unfamiliar, one begins to close in on the sniper’s location, clawed paws ripping up the bare dirt beneath it as it runs.
  120.  
  121. Soon, the target of their hunt comes into view, the leather armor clad rodent-like creature wearing an ornamental mask that fits to her face. Her muzzle is split with a wide grin, her sharp teeth seen to the hound, and so, seen by their summoner. The hound closest to her picks up speed, its jaws opening as it goes to tackle her from the side.
  122.  
  123. Leaping over the bone hound in a surprising feat of agility, the Mauser draws a dagger from her belt before landing on top of the hound, the blade burying itself to the hilt in the canine’s neck. With a brief yelp, the creature disappears into a black mist that washes over the Mauser’s body, her grin faltering a tad at the lack of a body left behind and blood to spill.
  124.  
  125. “I hate summoners. No fun at all,” she mumbles to herself, her head turning to look around at the surrounding trees as she attempts to sniff out the remaining hound, blade in hand. Her eyes narrow behind her mask, and she attempts to filter out the somewhat distant sounds of battle and clashing metal from the main body of the camp, slowly turning in place.
  126.  
  127. A snapping twig among the rustling grass causes her ear to twitch, and her grin grows as she turns to face the threat. Her eyes meet the war dog’s, the larger creature charging towards her with jaws wide and teeth bared, ready and able to rend flesh and break bones between them. Mirroring the charge, she cackles in glee, dodging to the side in time to allow the dog to begin leaping past her, the sound of running footsteps nearing the Mauser’s location.
  128.  
  129. “How about a ride?” she hisses out, malice and venom oozing from every word that passes from her lips. Her paw shoots out and grasps the bone hound’s scruff, hauling herself up onto its back, the thin and sharp nails on each of her hands digging in deep.
  130.  
  131. Lifting her dagger into the air, she begins to bring it down towards the dog to dispatch it like its ally, though it chooses just that moment to buck its hips up into the air. Her grip falters as she is forced to choose between holding the dagger and remaining mounted, and the dagger slips from between her fingers as she holds on tightly to the canine, the blade lodging into the earth nearby.
  132.  
  133. “This is why I hate dogs, you never know when to just die!” she shouts with palpable bloodlust, her jaws opening wide before her teeth snap down on the dog’s neck. Several small holes in her mask seem to appear within the ornate patterns, and from each one sprouts a curved, thin length of pointed metal, which skewers the hound’s neck and head. Without another sound, the dog breaks into black mist, and the Mauser lands on her feet, waving the smoke away as the lethal points retract back into the mask. “Finally showing your face instead of hiding behind bloodless puppets, huh? Brave, but stupid.”
  134.  
  135. Leaping back with a grin still on her face, she dodges the bullets that sail through the air where she was a moment earlier. Kura’s voice is heard calling out from behind a nearby tree as she takes cover behind it, her revolver held at the ready. The Mauser’s hand grasps the weapon she dropped earlier as she continues to move, and draws it from the dirt, quietly advancing towards her assailant “I’m more than enough to handle someone like you. If you wanted easier lands to operate in, there were much better choices than ours.”
  136.  
  137. Chuckling softly, the rodent-like creature reverses her grip on the dagger, the point facing downwards as she scurries up the tree, her voice lowered to throw off the larger wolfess. “A sheltered noble, playing soldier on a battlefield. Summon anything you want, I’ll just kill them too.”
  138.  
  139. She manages to climb high enough to avoid detection when Kura quickly steps out from behind the tree, her gun pointed to where her opponent used to be, and she cautiously takes a few steps forwards. Kura’s eyes widen in alarm as she realizes she has lost sight of her partner in battle, and she cries out in pain a moment later as a dagger stabs into her leg. Looking down, she realizes what happened as her gaze meets the lens covered eyes of the Mauser who is currently climbing up her body using both the dagger lodged in her leg, and her armor.
  140.  
  141. “Then, I’ll send your severed head back to your family before I kill them too!” she screams with a crazed grin, soon making her way up Kura’s body and onto her back, the larger woman falling to a knee from her wound, likely cut to the bone. “Sounds like fun, doesn’t it!? Do you think they’ll beg me to let them live? Oh, I love when they do that!”
  142.  
  143. Lifting her now bloody dagger and grasping Kura’s armor, she looks down at her quarry, savoring the feeling of taking another’s life for a moment before she brings the dagger down, the sound of metal piercing flesh, and blood spilling heard in the air.
  144.  
  145. With tears in her eyes, Kura screams in pain, fear, and rage as the hand she sacrificed to stop a killing blow squeezes shut around the grip of the dagger, and the hand of the Mauser. Her arm whips forwards, pulling her opponent off of her, slamming her into the ground and driving the air from her lungs. Giving the more experienced combatant no time to recover, Kura brings her pistol down on the side of her head, dazing and further stunning her as she squeezes harder.
  146.  
  147. “Y-you’re going to eat those words,” Kura says with a growl as she aims her pistol at the center of mass, and squeezes the trigger. Blood spurts from the Mauser’s chest as three bullets tear through her, her body jerking with each shot as she feels the fatal damage weakening her body.
  148.  
  149. With wheezing breaths, the Mauser looks up at Kura, her jaws opening wide as she lunges towards the arm holding her down. With a yelp of surprise, Kura tenses, and another shot rings out as the trigger is squeezed again, the bullet tearing through the wounded rodent’s neck and quickly ending her life.
  150.  
  151. “...d-damn...that r-really hurts,” Kura mutters to herself, giving a whimper as her hand relaxes around the dagger, pulling it back enough to tug it from the corpse’s fingers. Holstering her pistol, she squeezes her eyes shut before grasping the handle of the dagger and slowly inching the length of steel from her hand, whimpering again and shedding a few tears of pain as she feels steel rubbing against her wounded flesh. “If I h-hadn’t thought to bring those healing p-potions, I would be in serious trouble.”
  152.  
  153. Concentrating her magic in her hand, Kura summons a bullet into her hand, then loads it into the pistol. She takes a deep breath in before a shaky sigh escapes her, pointing the barrel of the gun at her injured leg before firing. The bullet seems to pass right through her armor, leaving it undamaged but quickly healing the wound, the flesh knitting itself back together.
  154.  
  155. “Kind of sucks that I can only do that a few times a day though. Ugh...I’ll need to see a real healer after this,” she says with a soft chuckle, shaking slightly as the adrenaline begins to wear off. Sparing a glimpse at the body before continuing, she mentally notes to herself to return after the battle is over to collect her spoils “That rifle will definitely be nice. Can’t wait to see you again and rub it in, hehe.”
  156.  
  157. As she begins to make her way back towards the main battle, Kura feels a shiver run down her spine, as though someone is watching her. Her head turns a bit to look around at the trees and wall of natural stone nearby, hoping to spot the hidden watcher, and she soon spots a cave entrance, a pair of slitted green eyes glaring back out at her. A moment later, a crossbow bolt rockets out of the cave, bouncing off of Kura’s armor, and shattering the wooden shaft, which sends splinters flying into the air.
  158.  
  159. “D-damn it, not now! Fine then, if you want me to shoot you, I will!” she shouts, aiming her gun towards the cave entrance before firing, causing the mystery creature to retreat into the cave. Kura quirks a brow at the odd behaviour, taking cover behind a tree and waiting in silence for a few moments as she observes the entrance, seeing no movement.
  160.  
  161. “...this isn’t normal. Usually, a bandit would have done at least something by now. Are...they guarding something?” she says with a soft grin forming on her face. “Maybe It’s where they’re keeping their treasure. Hehe, I bet they have some good stuff with a crew this big.”
  162.  
  163. Walking closer to the cave entrance, Kura keeps her pistol aimed forwards in case the mystery shooter pokes their head out to try and spot her, her ears perked and alert for possible danger. Staying as silent as she can, she enters the cave, her steps echoing softly in the otherwise quiet cave.
  164.  
  165. “Did they...move further in? Looks like there’s another roo- Agh!”
  166.  
  167. Kura falls forwards a bit as she feels something solid and heavy hit her leg, stumbling a bit before a blow hits her in the back, angry snarling heard from her attacker. Stepping forwards, she turns and fires a shot that misses the now revealed attacker, her red and white fur, along with her long, narrow muzzle revealing her race.
  168.  
  169. The Lenrian lets out a feral shriek, her crossbow stock held in both hands as she swings again, Kura narrowly avoiding the blow as she steps back further into the cave, her weapon raising. Kura’s opponent snarls and throws the crossbow that the fox-like woman was wielding at her, the object sailing over her head as she quickly ducks towards the ground.
  170.  
  171. “Stop looking at meeeee! Get out! Die! Die! Die!” the Lenrian shrieks out at the top of her lungs, the clearly unhinged female lunging forwards with claws out and swinging at her larger target. Her claws find purchase on nothing but steel, Kura’s armor rendering the attacks entirely ineffective as she pulls an arm back and squarely punches the smaller creature across the jaw.
  172.  
  173. The blow sends her stumbling back, unable to recover her swimming vision fast enough to avoid the bullets that tear through her unarmored chest, the blood seen leaking from the wounds by the nocturnal canine as clearly as if they were standing in direct sunlight. The bandit falls to the floor, choking and gasping on the blood filling her lungs, her eyes filled with pain, rage, and insanity.
  174.  
  175. Reaching towards Kura with a tensed hand and a weakened snarl, Kura’s expression briefly changes to sympathy before she aims the gun at the Lenrian’s head, and pulls the trigger, silencing the deranged woman for good with an echoing crack. Panting in a combination of adrenaline, annoyance, and a healthy amount of fear, Kura lowers her weapon and walks further into the cave.
  176.  
  177. “This is getting ridiculous… How many of these damned bandits are going to fight instead of just surrendering?” Kura questions with a soft growl of frustration, her gun aiming down the tunnel as she travels deeper inside.
  178.  
  179. Upon entering a second chamber of the cave, her eyes widen at the sight of the glittering gems that are growing from the walls, the light shining through the roof of the cave causing the entire room to glow softly in a myriad of colors. With a breathless sigh, she takes a few moments to enjoy the view as she takes a few steps further inside, deducing that there is no one hiding in the brightly lit room.
  180.  
  181. “That’s...definitely out of place,” she remarks with a quirked brow, looking over the carved marble lectern that sits in the center of the room, her armored paws causing soft clinking noises to sound out in the air. She takes a moment to consider why the lectern is currently empty, as objects of this nature are often used to hold books or other items that one wishes to display to house guests or visitors.
  182.  
  183. “It’s been used...and recently,” she comments as she brushes her fingers over the smooth surface, very little dust having had the chance to rest on it. “Looks like they got to it before I could. Well...I’ll remember the location of this cave and report what I found, or didn’t find in this case.”
  184.  
  185. With a soft sigh, Kura turns and begins to make her way out of the cave, sparing a glance at the Lenrian corpse as she passes it on her way outside. Upon exiting, she notices that the sounds of battle have died down, and a few cheers can be heard closer to the main encampment. Chuckling softly, she makes her way back to the others, her soft limp obvious to the average observer.
  186.  
  187. “Nice of you to join us! You alright over there, Lady Kura?” calls a familiar voice, and Kura’s head turns to lay eyes on the one speaking to her. Lieutenant Corvus’ face greets her, and she smiles at him as she takes a few steps closer to the experienced warrior.
  188.  
  189. “Nothing besides some...unforeseen injuries at the hands of the bandits. I will need to see a healer later, but it is nothing life threatening.”
  190.  
  191. His smile grows, and he looks over the scrapes and scratches that now adorn her armor, his trained eye seeing that she did indeed do battle. A proud look in his eyes, he looks up at Kura, and gives a nod. “I agree with your assessment, you definitely came out better than some of us,” he says with a glance over at the laid out bodies of his allies, the death toll on their side numbering a total of five out of twenty five.
  192.  
  193. “The loss of life on our side is my responsibility… I will accept whatever punishment father deems acceptable for me,” Kura says with a soft sigh, having hoped to get her entrusted troops out alive and whole. A hand resting on her shoulder startles her a bit, looking into the softly smiling face of Corvus.
  194.  
  195. “You did what you could, Kura. You’re not going to be able to save everyone, you know. We know what we signed up for, and what we fight for. Dying in defense of Vamprica is something that every one of us considers an honor. You led us well, despite the losses.”
  196.  
  197. She stares into his eyes for a few moments, looking for any deceit or pity, but finds none, causing a soft smile to grow on her face. Chuckling softly, she shakes her head a bit, then pats Corvus’ helmet, a soft clunk heard.
  198.  
  199. “Thank you, my friend. You always seem to know just what to say, don’t you?” Kura asks, earning a soft, almost melancholic smile in return.
  200.  
  201. “I’ve been doing this job long enough to know what you’re going through right now. Those emotions, the questioning. ‘Did I do the right thing? Could I have saved more?’ It’s pointless to dwell on mistakes and what-ifs. All we can do is live with what happened, learn from it, and hope the dead are resting peacefully.”
  202.  
  203. Somewhat shocked by the rationale that her old friend has on the subject, it takes her a moment to respond, having needed to recollect her wits before speaking. “Those are wise words, Corvus. On a somewhat different subject, what of the bandit’s treasure? Have we secured what was stolen?”
  204.  
  205. Nodding his head, he points at a pair of large carts that the bandits seemed to be in possession of, crates and chests seen loaded onto them. The horses that draw the carriages seem to be a bit malnourished, but otherwise well taken care of, and they seem almost excited at the prospect of travelling again. “Yup. Collected everything we could find, and loaded it all up. We also collected and searched the bodies, and gathered what was valuable or salvageable. Was that you that killed that Mauser near the cave?”
  206.  
  207. “Mm, I did. She is the reason I require a healer, in fact. In honesty...I did not expect to survive that battle,” Kura says with a soft shiver, and Corvus retracts his hand from her shoulder, his eyes meeting hers.
  208.  
  209. “But you did, and your opponent did not. That is a blessing in my book, and it was a good kill.”
  210.  
  211. A squawk of joy brings Kura’s eyes to her favourite flying companion, Greedyguts seen bounding towards her with energetic flaps of his wings. Chuckling at the sight of the overactive hybrid, she turns to face him and opens her arms wide.
  212.  
  213. “Come here, boy! You did such a good job!” she says with a cheerful smile, embracing the gryphon as he reaches her, slowing enough to not tackle her to the floor. Nuzzling against his cheek, she gives a soft murr, then pulls back from the hug. “Get some rest, and try not to get sick from overeating, hehe. You did good, buddy.”
  214.  
  215. Greedyguts gives a happy trill, returning the nuzzle with closed eyes, showing his trust for her. She pats the side of his head, then concentrates her magic in the palm of her hand, the gryphon slowly vanishing from the ground up as she returns his soul to Sinca’s realm.
  216.  
  217. “Are you ready to go?” Corvus asks, an amused smirk on his face from witnessing the tall noble act so carefree in public.
  218.  
  219. With a final look around the camp, Kura nods in the affirmative, and Corvus calls for everyone to begin preparations to depart. The carts loaded, their dead gathered, and the captives freed, the group of soldiers and their Countess then begin to make their way back home, the dirt road stretching far into the distance. Despite the peace and joy found after a victorious battle, Kura finds her mind is in a state of unrest, going over the events that played out today, with one question repeated more than any other.
  220.  
  221. ‘Just what was I meant to find there?’
  222.  
  223.  
  224.  
  225. Consider supporting me on Patreon! https://www.patreon.com/azin
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