Open Chronicles Alliria

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Syvis

Arrogance incarnate
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Syvis cursed as she watched the other attacker present them self. A rune user. The most annoying of them all in her opinion. It was highly unlikely he went into this shit show uncovered, Syvis ducked to slide as she threw a knife at the assailant. It’d likely hit but with runes such as his own there was no promises, all it granted was a distraction.

Worry attempted to launch an attack within her brain. Worry for Ceri, for Dulthir, and worst of all the injured Elliot. She slammed it back, like she herself was in her mind pushing a brick wall against the onslaught of fear. Syvis cursed at herself, damn it this wasn’t where she’d go down, nor would she let Alexia. Enough innocent blood had been shed yet sadly there was always room for more.

She eyed the tree line wearily.
 
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Dulthir

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Ceri and Karrazark handled the guards in front of them. Ceri had shifted into something else. "Amazing..." he thought. He looked to where Syvis was in pursuit of Alexia. Out of nowhere, literally, a man launched an attack on Alexia and the lone guard. Dulthir stopped.
"The trees..."
With most of the guards slain, and the rest all but quitting, Dulthir knew his companions could handle the lone man.
He made a wide circle away from the action, headed to the tree line. His gut said the new guy wasn't alone. Dulthir hoped, if there was someone in the treeline, they wouldn't notice him. Chances are they knew exactly where he was. So, he figured, worst case scenario, he would draw their attack away from his companions. He had his axe sheathed on his back, and his crossbow at the ready.
Ceridwen Syvis Elliot Aldmar Maranae
 
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Ceridwen

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Ceri bolted towards the noisey screaming girl who was their original target, ignoring the rest as she knew Elliot wanted the girl, though she was unable to focus on the reasoning, she couldn't remember, one of the downfalls of being bird brained. As she ran towards the girl, she stopped paying attention to the rest of the things going on, her one target being the one they'd all come for. At this point in her mind, if this female wasn't secured everything that happened had happened in vain.

As she ran, sharp claws digging into the muck beneath her feet, she dropped her hands to the ground, letting her bloody scaled talons also dig into the muck, snapping the strongly muscled talons closed, which caused a ripple effect, her grip giving her ability to throw herself forward much faster than she would just running on her hind legs.

As she got close to the woman whom they were doing all of this to protect, she opened her large wings and reached out with her arms, attempting to grab the girl and then take off with her, put more space between everyone and this girl for the moment, that was the only way to guarantee the girls safety which Elliot Aldmar and Dulthir seemed to want... at least... she thought. She was slightly confused by everything going on. She was not used to fighting of this nature, the craziness of everything going on around her.

She grabbed the girl, yanking her towards her and twisting her wings, trying to get air with the the girl in her grasp.

Syvis
Maranae
 

Maranae

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Cade and Alyse, however, were used to the chaos of battle, and thrived in it. It was a fact that they had fought together most of their lives, and could understand what one or the other would do without any need to speak words. There was no bond closer than that of family, after all.

Alyse moved quickly. In the span of a handful of seconds, she had loosed the first arrow at Syvis, aiming for a wounding shot rather than a lethal one. The other arrow was nocked before the bow string had even stopped humming, and then drawn to full, angled up and aimed with all of her impressive skill towards the next target. Which was Mathew, in this case; she aimed deliberately low, hoping to strike him in the legs and wound and hobble him. It would be even better if he stumbled and got tangled up in Orrems legs at the same time.

She did not have time to see if her shots landed though. Almost as soon as she knocked the second arrow and was getting ready to loose it, she was already working on a second spell. The first one she banished, needing the concentrations to work a second spell while trying to shoot moving targets; later, there would be hell to pay for such abuse of her body. Syllables of power fell into place, and she felt the glow of magic surround her. There would be no hiding her presence now; this was far greater magic than the subtle stuff she'd used before.

Below, Cade dodged back from Ceridwen as she launched on by, not taking the opportunity to strike. He could have. He could have struck the creature as it was going by, but he chose that moment to hit the ground instead, dropping flat on the ground....

...as the spell Alyse was casting completed. She was drawing bead on Elliot now, seeking to lay down cover fire for Cade even as her magic - a shimmer in the air over Ceridwen and Alexia - manifested.

A massive downdraft of wind slammed into the ground, centered on the creature and their mark, sending mud, water, and debris flying. Tent poles snapped under the gale force wind, canvas ripping. Almost as soon as the spell completed, Cade was popping back to his feet, eyes scanning for his quarry even as Alyse, breathing hard, launched a third arrow to where Elliot had been, nocking another (much more slowly) and searching for another target before trying to draw again.
 

Elliot Aldmar

Dornoch's Most Wanted Man
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Alexia looked like she might faint--or worse--when Ceridwen came rushing at her. She was almost sick with fear. She was pale and she had screamed herself hoarse and her eyes were wide and welled-up with tears, and in pitiful reflex she brought her arms up to shield her face--her utterly lacking and only form of defense--when Ceridwen grabbed hold of her. In Ceridwen's arms she was tense and shivering with terror-fueled adrenaline.

Mathew and Orrem just couldn't run fast enough to get to Alexia before the damned griffin-creature. And then--worse--the flash of an arrow flying at them from the treeline. At Mathew. He heard it whistle and saw its downward arc and it was coming right at him and it disappeared beneath his vision. He stopped at the same time as the arrow--having flown between the narrow gap of his striding legs--struck and lodged into the dirt. Narrowly missing his groin. In shock, and doing what any man would do, he felt at his crotch. Felt no blood and felt that the figurative jewels of the Tillman family were still intact. He let out a sigh of relief that was more of a shuddering gasp.

Then the downdraft of wind struck. Orrem and Mathew alike were bowled over and knocked down, the latter falling back and snapping the shaft of the arrow in the ground which had come close to castrating him as he fell upon it. Syvis's dagger was likely lost somewhere in the downdraft.

Elliot, having gotten an angle on Cade along the western shore of the campsite island, aimed and loosed an arrow that likely would have hit...if not for said downdraft. The arrow went plummeting to the ground while in flight and struck the canvas of a collapsed tent. And Elliot, further back than Mathew and Orrem and Syvis and Cade and Ceridwen from the downdraft, braced and weathered it standing. He'd have to use some magic of his own. Loose a Bone Arrow--it would likely have sufficient mass and power to fly through another downdraft or gust of wind, should one come, should Dulthir not interrupt whoever was casting them from the treeline.

The downdraft ceased.

Elliot drew another arrow from his quiver. Went to nock it.

And was struck in the chest by Alyse's own arrow, loosed from the far treeline. Alyse's arrow penetrated through his leather chestpiece and through the layers of silk of his elven gambeson beneath. And though these two sets of armor offered good mitigation considering, the metal arrowhead still plunged an inch into Elliot's chest between two ribs.

Elliot spun round halfway from the force of the impact, grunted in pain, and continued with the momentum of his spin for a full circle to face Cade again. His lips were pursed and he shoved the sharp agony from his mind. He thought it prudent, instead of immediately taking aim on Cade, to drop the arrow in his offhand and pull out a pinch of soaking, sludgy bone dust from his belt pouch between his thumb and forefinger. With a curt gesture of his hand and a quick spoken word and with the bone dust evaporating, he cast his Spectral Shroud. A ghostly mist, like the morning fog lingering over a lake, creeped into being about him--a defensive measure against further projectiles.

Grunting, much louder than the first time, Elliot quickly bent down and secured his dropped arrow. Started (awkwardly, what with Alyse's arrow sticking out of his chest) to nock it and take aim on Cade.

* * * * *​

This was not the camp they were looking for, and not the certainly not the girl.

The Free Company had gone off of the road far earlier than the party that was, unbeknownst to them at the time, ahead in the search for Alexia. The hounds had kept them on the girl's trail, and Yuni's birds--enchanted with a narrow intelligence that made them excellent long-range scouts even with so limited a vocabulary, had spotted Alexia's camp when they were within a few miles of it. Captain Marghast ordered the Company off-road--all the better to approach Alexia and her retinue of guardsmen from an unexpected angle of attack.

Yet, as they were going around the woods of the waterlogged clearing, they stumbled upon a different camp. One that was half a mile or so removed from Alexia's own. One that held a small, captive red-haired girl in it and no other apparent occupants. Many of the company wore quizzical faces--just what in the hell had they stumbled into here?

But Captain Marghast, upon closer inspection of the girl, actually...recognized her. Not that he had seen her before, no, but he and the company were a few months removed from a visit to Vel Anir for work. He had vaguely heard of some kind of dangerous fugitive, which was common enough, who just so happened to match the description of this bound girl here--which was uncommon as far as dangerous fugitives went. Marghast knew not the manner of the danger involved (if there truly was any, for that matter) or if the girl was indeed a fugitive or just sought after in much the same way Alexia was sought after by Lord June. All he remembered was the unique quality of the bounty's target. An apparent child, younger even than Alexia so it seemed, and one that was supposedly a danger.

So when Yuni's birds returned, gave their succinct and fragmented report that was an imitation of true speech and intelligence (exact details of the fight escaped their ability to give), Captain Marghast had an idea about how he might deal with this unexpected mayhem in the clearing.

"Good morning to you, girl," Captain Marghast said to Maranae, in his educated and genial voice. The rest of the Company sat their horses and watched. "We've no business with you, but...perhaps you've business with certain individuals yonder."

He pointed toward the direction of the clearing, unseen through the distance and legion of trees. Then produced a knife and held it to the ropes holding her to the suspended pole upon which she was currently prisoner.

"What say you to a small serving of revenge, hmm? I could cut you loose for just such a purpose." He chuckled in a way that suggested that he and Maranae were perhaps old friends, well-acquainted. "Free of charge."

Syvis Dulthir Ceridwen Maranae
 
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Syvis

Arrogance incarnate
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Syvis was fine, the arrow meant for her soared over her head, her slide being her only saving grace. The wind whipped at her hair as she stayed sat in the waters. Ceri had gotten the girl and Syvis was done, she could kill that male fellow yet was it worth it?

She sat still ears twitching as she heard Elliot’s grunt. Fuck. She stood up semi crouched and ran towards where she’d last seen him. He better not be dead, if he died she’d be beyond pissed.

Despite her little trained magic skills her people had it flowing it through their veins. She tried to summon the shield spell she’d learnt as a youth and to her surprise it worked. She was safe, apparently, for now. Syvis continued her run towards Elliot. She didn’t care about anything else right now.

When she finally reached close enough to him she saw him playing with powder. It wasn’t a surprise to her that he himself possessed magical abilities but he needed to stop fucking up his chest.
 
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Dulthir

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Dulthir eased into the tree line. He saw a faint glow.
"Fucking magic..."
He said to himself. He crept closer, and saw her. "Another fucking elf..." he thought. He eased closer, being as quiet as possible, hoping she wouldn't notice him. She had an arrow nocked, and drawn back, leaving her chest exposed. He got close enough for his crossbow. He took aim. He eased into the trigger, and the bolt flew, headed for her heart.
Ceridwen Syvis Elliot Aldmar Maranae
 

Ceridwen

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Ceri wrapped her arms around the girl, pulling her close to her as she slammed her wings downwards to get air. As she got a few feet up a massive gust hit her, slamming her back down to the ground hard. She was able to land on her feet but the force slammed her wings into the ground snapping the long bone in the left one. Pain tore through her senses, blackout pain but she held on by a strand to her lucidity as she stumbled slightly, still holding Alexia. She folded her wing around the girl to get her away from the rest of the commotion.

She dug her feet into the ground as she pushed through the wind though it was short lived. She took a moment to turn her head, trying to figure out where everyone else was. She pushed forward and got as far away as she could, biting her tongue slightly to focus on something other than the pain in her left wing. She was able to get quite a bit of space between her and everyone else, the girl in her arms scared to silence. Ceri wanted nothing more than to pass out. She was wet, cold and exhausted and hurt now. She could smell the iron scent of blood, her own blood and nausea settled in her stomach as she panted, trying to come up with some resemblance of a plan.

Maranae
Elliot Aldmar
Syvis
Dulthir
 
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Maranae

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Scents.

They wafted through the air, a multitude of aroma's that were far too faint for a human to wind but as sharp and rank to her as they would be if someone had slapped her in the face with them. Some of them were soft, calming scents she associated with the earth and with the wilderness.

Others - most of them - were sharp and angry, jagged like briars and thistles. They stirred ancient instincts within her that terrified her...or would have, normally.

Pain. Her head hurt. Her wrists hurt, as did her ankles. She was hanging by her arms and legs, lashed to pole so tightly that the circulation in her hands and feet had been slowed, so that they were ice cold to the touch. She could feel further pain as her body struggled to repair the damage done to them by the abuse, and it was like knives digging into her flesh. Her senses were returning to her slowly, her sense of self and of her surroundings. Her captors had not struck her again this day, and so....

The snap of breaking twigs, and the sound of many feet. Her senses were razor sharp, normally; now, after all the abuse, they were dulled a touch. She did not need them to be sharp in order to hear people so close by, nor to scent the armor and sweat, the unease and the determination in them. The scent of horse was particularly strong.

With the scent of horse came the thought of food, and then hunger descended upon her, savage and unrelenting. Healing required energy, and she had little to eat for several days now. Every blow required more sustenance to recover from, and none had been provided.

Hunger. Hunger. And, riding just a little about that, fear and anger. Her thoughts were not orderly, not like the men that were near to hand; the higher functions of her mind had seemingly descended into the darkness, leaving behind only animalistic instinct.

Panting as she sensed something come close. Breathing heavily, waiting for the blow...and instead, it was words. Words spoken quickly, words that she had a hard time understanding. Her mental state had slipped, and the beast that her creators had desired was now settling in behind jade eyes that flashed to yellow and back again as though she were blinking.

A low sound, deep in the back of her throat...a keening wail? Or perhaps...

A shriek of pain cut through the air. Her thin limbs strained, the bindings holding feet and legs growing taught, cutting into flesh and setting blood to flowing before finally failing, snapping with loud pops even as the girl hit the ground. She writhed there for a moment, the pain of her wounds and of the healing, the savage hunger....the hunger....

The hunger.

She rolled onto hands and knees, staring at the man before her. Her eyes were yellow, not green, with the pupils slit like a feline. Her mouth hung partly open, and instead of human teeth, there were long incisors and rows of sharp fangs behind them.

With a snarl, she darted at the nearest animal - the captain's horse - and lashed out with a beclawed hand. She moved lightning fast despite her state, and she struck hard. Blood flew as her claws tore a chunk of meat from high up the front shoulder of the beast, and the force of the blow snapped a bone deep within and sent the animal - at least a thousand pounds - staggering to one side.

Careless of any immediate retaliation, Maranae took the piece of meat from her hand and began to eat the bloody thing raw. It took the span of a couple of seconds for all of this to happen. The scream of the animal was piercing so close, but she ignored it as she swallowed and went for the rest of the horses, running on all fours with remarkable speed. The beasts shied back as she snarled at them, and before there could be any meaningful reaction, she had leapt onto the rump of another animal, savagely tearing through hide like it was paper and shredding the muscle beneath. She managed another mouthful of the shrieking beasts' flesh before it kicked her free, and she went flying through the air to land maladroitly in the undergrowth.

With a feline hiss, she spun and bolted away, heading - incidentally - straight into the growing fray at Alexia's camp.

***

No plan ever survived the first arrow leaving the bow. Often, the plans were defunct before even setting foot on the battlefield. It was a tenet any soldier would know and understand, and keeping such things in mind was what kept you alive.

Alyse had drawn a bead on Syvis again, tracking the woman unerringly. She was about to loose when a movement caught her attention out of the corner of her eye; instinct made her turn, bow and all, to face whatever it was. What she had been expecting was nothing; what she saw was a dwarf with a crossbow. There was no time to react; she loosed her arrow at him just as he pulled the trigger, spinning away and knowing it was too late. The arrow sailed over his head; it had been poorly aimed.

His did not. The heavy bolt lost a great deal of its force breaking the links of the chain vest she wore, and even more piercing the leather vest beneath. Still, the range was short, and the bolt slashed into her right breast, scoring along two ribs before stopping. Hot blood immediately began to run under her armor, and the pain was intense enough to take her breath away. She staggered backwards several steps, both from the force of the hit and from that very pain.

Cade had no idea what was going on with his sister. He saw their mark slammed to the ground by her sorcery, but the creature - whatever it was - had not been stopped by that. The scene was getting awfully hot, now; there were so many enemies to keep track of and there were just him and Alyse. The fight wasn't over yet, though.

A single syllable, and another rune glowed and faded from his leathers. The spell was really little moe than a cantrip, but it was useful in his line of work. As Ceridwen and Alexia were both visible, he had marked both of them. He could find them anywhere they went, so long as they did not get more than a few miles away. This allowed him to turn his attention to the others; the original intention had not been to kill anyone, but matters had gone more than a little sideways.

A series of quick syllables, words of power in no spoken tongue. He could feel the pull of magic as he invoked this particular piece of magic; it was one of the more powerful spells he knew. Almost immediately, Cade became a series of ever shifting images. His apparent position seemed to shift left and right, up, down, back, and forward by as much as a couple of feet at a time before moving to a different position. It was illusion of a higher order, designed to make up close fighting very difficult and make shooting him with ranged barbs nigh unto impossible.

Alyse, seeing that Cade had done this out of the corner of her eyes, hand clutching her wound that bled freely...ran. She was exhausted, but was capable of a good turn of speed. She needed to open the distance between her and Dulthir, and keeping to the trees made it exceedingly difficult for him to get another shot off - not that he would be able to do that quickly.

Cade moved in to engage Elliot and Syvis, heavy bladed knives held low and ready as his form seemed to shift about in a maddening array.
 

Elliot Aldmar

Dornoch's Most Wanted Man
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Alexia could not struggle, as she wanted. She could not make whatever meager attempt she had within her to escape the monster's clutches. Her rigid and icy muscles wouldn't allow for it. What she could do, as she was being carried away, was muster in a gulp of air and let out a truly desperate cry, full of all the terror of an anticipated and imminently nigh death:

"MATHEW! ORREM! HELLLLP MEEE! PLEASE!"

Mathew groaned and grimaced, his body feeling like a stitched together sack full of iron ingots. But Alexia's call roused him. Got him to sit up. Orrem was close by, and Jack--the half-shaven man--was still lost somewhere in a collapsed tent, reeling on the ground perhaps after weathering the assault from Cade. Mathew reached over. Gave Orrem a rough pat, and the other man stirred. Mathew encouraged him, and--somehow--both of them staggered to their feet again. Woefully armed for the task, with no true plan afterward, Mathew had no idea how just he and Orrem were going to save Alexia from that griffin-monster, let alone this entire mess. But they had to try. Godsdamn it, they had to try.

Meanwhile.

Elliot saw Syvis coming in the edge of his vision as he was taking aim on Cade--the Cade who was now multiple Cades, with the aid of some distorting, shifting illusion magic. But Elliot already had his arrow nocked, bow drawn, enemy more or less sighted. This with the stabbing pain in his chest and the awkwardness of trying to do all of that with a cumbersome arrow stuck in his armor, obstructing him to a hindering degree. Might as well roll the dice. A slim chance was better than no chance.

So Elliot loosed his arrow (didn't bother to enhance it with his necromancy) into the center mass of the shifting illusion that was Cade. The Cade who was charging at him and Syvis both. There wasn't much time.

Elliot tossed his Black Bow back behind him. A splash as it hit the shallow water of the western shore. "Syvis. Snap the arrow."

Her help would not only be appreciated, but crucial. It would free Elliot's hands to do two separate things in the dwindling seconds they had, and as well remove the hindrance of that cumbersome arrow. He couldn't exactly feel if the arrowhead in his chest was a needle bodkin or fleshcutter, the former being far easier to simply pull out than the latter, but he'd rather not take that chance.

With his right hand, Elliot pulled one of his daggers. The intent for defense more than offense at this stage.

With his left, another plunge into his belt pouch and a pinch of soggy bone dust. His fingers flexed like hooks and the dust dissipated and there was a brief spark of black-and-gray energy in his palm. A Skeletal Warrior came to unlife behind Elliot, bursting in a gory manner (that was sure to be hell for him if Alexia saw) from the slain body of one of the guardsman, the Skeleton securing the fallen guard's sword and round shield as it came to be and stood up fully. And the Warrior marched quickly toward Elliot and Syvis, to soon make the current engagement three versus one.

* * * * *​

When the blur of Maranae had ceased and the girl--who was truly anything but that, so far as any of the mercenaries were now concerned--went scampering away, Onager in his elegant way summed up the collective thoughts of the company, "Fuck Astra in the asshole, what the hell was that?"

Captain Marghast was down on the ground after having fallen from his horse during the lightning quick assault, his eyes plastered open with shock and bemusement. He watched as the last billowing strands of red hair disappeared through the obscuring trees. Then a grin curved into his expression. He started to stand, "Dangerous, they said. Well, they certainly were not having a laugh about that, were they?"

"Captain?" Yuni said in a prompting manner. She and every mercenary of the company had their weapons drawn or vaguely aimed but their assailant was long gone. Still, they'd their true target not so far ahead, in the clearing that was scouted by her birds.

Captain Marghast let out a short laugh. Said, "In good time." He motioned to Percy and jumped atop his horse, riding double with him. "Let that manic creature go on ahead. Sort out that melee. And then we'll sweep in when the time's right."

Syvis Ceridwen Maranae Dulthir
 

Syvis

Arrogance incarnate
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Syvis did as Elliot instructed her to do. Truth be told the stress was getting to her, yet she was doing her best to be level headed. She worked best in a quick stealth manner not in the ways of battle and keeping everyone on her side well as well as her self. If she could have re-done such a situation she would have snuck in the night killed the girl's guards and stole her, yet this was the route she took, and now she paid the price.

Her eyes grew as she watched Elliot perform his necromancy and the dead man arose. She'd heard of such magics before but to see it was mind boggling. At last she snapped out of her awe into a more sound state of mind there were things to be done, people to kill and the way the assailant was barreling into them they'd need to act fast.

Syvis' ears twitched she'd heard something in the distance yet there was no way to place it and it seemed to far off to be worth it. She refocused staring at Elliot, her body was getting weaker as her low magic stamina drained her. Her mind wandered to her three choices, attempt to help the healing process of Elliot, give up the magics so she might have the energy, or continue protecting herself. The choice was made for her as her knees buckled. "Fuck!" She exclaimed in terror edged with frustration there was no way she could keep up any sorts of magic and not collapse once again. Syvis stood up haggardly her eyes rimmed with exhaustion.

She had pushed her limits and now the sleep deprivation and starvation set in, she wanted to sprint with whatever energies she'd stored up and never look back. The internal battle of survival instincts and comradery overtook her brain.

Syvis looked around her, the lack of the knives she once had adding to her panic. Alas she spotted one of her knives buried into the mud it wouldn't add to her arsenal much but it was better than nothing, she rushed towards it. Despite her low energy she was preparing for hand to hand combat the distance was annoying her.
 
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Dulthir

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The bolt struck its mark, although Dulthir wasn't sure if it had pierced flesh. He saw her grab the Ares where the bolt was and flee into the woods. Dulthir was no where near fast enough to catch her (as Gimley said, "We dwarfs are built for short distances...). But, he knew who may be. He let out a shrill whistle. Seconds later Karrazark came tearing thru the brush. Dulthir climbed on and they began tracking the woman. They got to the spot that she was at, and, found blood on the ground. Karrazark sniffed the blood and grunted. Dulthir patted him.
"We may notta be able to catch her, little brother, but, we'll sure as fuck keep her occupied and away from tha others."
Karrazark began tracking the woman, not too far behind her.
 

Ceridwen

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Ceri kept dragging the girl, it was all she could think to do. When the girl started shrieking again the sound piercing Ceri's ears and making her want to hurt the girl. But that was not what Elliot wanted and she knew that.

She quickly threw her hand over her mouth to shut her up, the shift of position nearly making her trip over the girls feet as she was dragging her. The threat of her sharp claws against her cheeks shutting her up thankfully as she continued to struggle with the girl.

"Look, if you want to die keep making this more difficult. I am trying to help you so knock it the fuck off."

Her foul language was testament to her being over the current fiasco and wanting it to be done. Her energy was rapidly draining. The blood dripping from the wound in her shoulder and now her wing as well was starting to add to the drain on her system. She risked a quick glance over her shoulder with her agile neck to see how much space she'd put between herself, the girl and the others, and it was a decent amount, but she kept pushing forward best she could.
Maranae
Elliot Aldmar
Syvis
Dulthir
 

Maranae

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Running. Running free, free from the chains and the ropes and the other bindings that the people of the world bound her with, time and again. Running through the forest like a shot, ignorant of those before her and those behind her.

Maranae did not know why she ran. Was it out of fear or rage, or a mixture of both? The girl had sought with every ounce of her will to avoid fighting, but despite that effort she had just lashed out at another. And, she realized, it was both fear and anger that drove her forward. She would not be beaten again. She would not, would not be struck down and...and...

...and she stumbled mid-stride, and wound up rolling across the forest floor, crunching through saplings and bouncing off the bole of a tree. Muscle spasms rippled through her willowy frame, and as her muscles knotted, her jaw clenching so hard her teeth should have broke. she shrieked a piercing, muffled cry that cut through the woods. It radiated pure agony, terror...and rage. The little bit she had eaten had allowed her body to catch up with the grim work of fixing all the hurts she had suffered trussed up and beaten. Bruised bone healed, bruised flesh smoothed itself out and all the little cuts and scrapes she had suffered mended themselves.

And a great surge of strength rushed through her thin frame. It took but moments, but it felt like an eternity of torment. Her truly rapid regeneration was not a pleasant experience at all, and it left her panting on the forest floor, sweat pouring down her flesh and dampening the ragged clothing she wore.

The chimera got to her feet, shaking. And it might have ended right there, and then...except the scent of blood struck her across the face. More importantly....it was....

...them!

Something feral uncoiled in the back of her head, and the red rage came again. Mara tore off again, heading towards the battle underway, running on all fours as though born to it.

***

The siblings were not having a great deal of luck with projectile weapons this day. If it weren;t for the circumstances both found themselves in, they would have cursed their luck. But neither had time to focus on such things, not where there was a job of work to do.

Elliot's shot was not quite true, but it was enough to punch through Cade's armor high up towards one shoulder. the blow slowed him for a moment, and he gasped in pain...only to stutter out another word of power. Another rune vanished, and the pain suddenly abated. It was not a healing spell; that could not be worked into his armor or weapons to self-heal. It merely dulled the pain to a point where it was barely perceptible.

Which was why he slowed in his forward rush, ramming one gloved hand into the haft and slamming it through his body until the head jutted through the otherside, further damaging his armor and his body. Reaching over a shoulder, he yanked it free in a welter of blood. A piercing shriek, coming from some other part of this Hadean battle field, cut through the air at the same time and he just hoped it wasn't him.

And then he pressed home his charge. He knew that he only had so much time to deliver as crippling an attack as he could before loss of blood would weaken him or - worse - he died from whatever damage he had just done himself.

The man was a whirling dervish. His preferred weapons were those heavy knives, and he charged in at the trio, confident in his abilities to deliver dozens of slashes and probing stabs at his opponents without ever leaving more than a narrow opening for them to counter. He had yet another spell on his lips, ready to unleash at need, when another mortified cry cut through the air, this one much closer and much more...final.

He did not have time to pay any attention. The fight here took all his attention.

***

Alyse ran like the wind, dodging through the trees. The wound in her chest hurt abominably, but it was not a life threatening injury...at least, not in the short term. More pressing was the fact that she was being pursued but something rather large, and she had no idea what it was. She didn't dare look back; she was more occupied with trying to circle round the clearing, stick to the trees. No matter the risk to her person, she was not about to abandon her brother to his fate. They had worked together for decades.

And then, something caught her attention out of the corner of her eye. A fast approaching blur that she only just slightly turned her head to look at before...

...sailing through the air like an avenging angel, a rictus of rage and pain on her face, Maranae cannoned into the older woman, sinking her claws into her shoulder and snagging the mail as her feet hit her mid-body, claws gouging her leather armor. Alyse found herself airborne and shrieking at the top of her lungs, too, but it was a momentary thing. A split second later, she crunched into a tree, her head snapping sideways to bounce off of the bark. There was pain, but it was brief; darkness descended on her as soon as her head connected with the trunk.

A low growl rumbled in the chimera's throat as she bounced free, rolling a couple of feet before getting back up and darting forward. Alyse life was saved, in that moment, by the arrival of Dulthir and his pet. A moment longer, and the girl might have torn the bounty hunters' throat out and ended her career.

Instead, wild eyes wide and red, teeth bared like some kind of animal caught in the delusions of rabid fever dreams, the girl spun to face the newcomer. There was no recognition in her eyes that it was another human, friend, or foe. And the beast he rode on did not intimidate her in the slightest. She quickly moved in front of the archer, crouched forward and menacing. She was more or less mantling her kill; had she a tail, it would have been lashing.

She charged at the dwarf, careless of his pet or him.
 

Elliot Aldmar

Dornoch's Most Wanted Man
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Elliot flicked his eyes to Syvis when he heard her exclamation. Saw her falter and drop down and, with the closeness, could hear the thin crackle of her magic--the shield spell--dissipating. He wasn't precisely sure what had happened, if she had been hit or not. Alarm churned in his eyes, but he didn't let it go further than that. Whether Syvis was down or not, the raw fact remained: there was a fight to win.

But she was not down. Not yet, and that was good; having to defend her would've limited his options. She found her feet and went sprinting off to rearm herself.

Then Cade was on him. The illusion spell made it damn near impossible to defend himself. Elliot would try to leverage his dagger and the crossguard thereof to parry, to riposte, to lock, twist, and disarm, anything in the way of defense, but the distorted, shifting image of Cade would be false and the true strike would come from elsewhere.

Defensive dodging was only marginally better. Elliot still caught a deep stab to his left arm. A slash across his chestpiece, which protected him. And then a jagged cut that arced up from his neck to his jaw to just under his bottom lip and across his other cheek in a long bloody line; a growl of suppressed pain rumbled in his throat as he suffered this.

When the Skeletal Warrior had finally come close, Elliot shifted back behind it, hand on its bony shoulder and keeping the Warrior (along with its round shield and sword) between himself and Cade. The Warrior had its shield up, went for a few thrusts with its sword, but its offensive capability was far more lacking than its defensive capability. It had no clear target, but that wooden round shield was sturdy and large enough to provide something of a bulwark.

What Elliot needed:

To shift the fight around just so, such that Cade would have his back to the dead guardsmen, the Warrior would be between Elliot and Cade and more importantly those bodies, and then he could safely and effectively cast a Corpse Explosion. Failing that, once Syvis got back into the fight (and hopefully the illusion spell dissipating by then), he might be able to hold Cade's attention while she stabbed him in the back. Should the Skeletal Warrior fall before either of those--daggers were terrible against them but it could still happen--then Elliot would have to fall back on casting his Poison Blades, using the lingering mist defensively, and trying to keep the illusory Cade at bay.

For now, Elliot tried to surreptitiously guide the Skeletal Warrior into circling about Cade while on the defensive, in effect spinning the orientation of the fight to create that opportunity for a Corpse Explosion.

* * * * *​

Alexia's eyes were wide with fear when she was forcefully gagged by the griffin-monster's hand. It could speak. And that was somehow far worse than it being a simple monster. Because it knew what it was doing, and was doing it anyway.

If you want to die. Alexia heard that far louder than the rest of it. It would kill her. Kill her, just like Torrence, Durin, and Rust, the three swordsmen who she watched this monster butcher. As if it were some kind of cruel joke, it even said it was trying to help her--Elliot's lying words. And that...that was horrifying. This intelligent griffin-monster was just like him: it didn't care one bit about her.

Panic, desperation, swirling in that boiling mixture of fear. Alexia at this point was terrified that she was absolutely going to die if she didn't fight. If this thing and Elliot brought her back to Peter than she was dead--he'd kill her for certain this time. If they didn't just kill her here first when all of the guards who were loyal to her and mother were dead.

So Alexia did the only thing she could do. Bit down as hard as she possibly could on Ceridwen's palm smothering her mouth.

And it was here that an arrow, loosed by Mathew Tillman, went sailing toward Ceridwen as well.

Orrem, having drawn Mathew's shortsword, was sprinting after Ceridwen and Alexia, Mathew's arrow zipping past him. Armed with merely that shortsword, half-armored and with a wounded hand, Orrem's heart was pounding in his chest. Fuck, he wanted nothing more than to go running after the long gone horses instead. But he knew it would be the height of cowardice to leave Alexia, a mere girl of sixteen years where he was a fully-grown man, in the clutches of that hideous thing.

So Orrem kept running. Trying to gain on them. Shouted as he did, "ALEXIA!"

Syvis Ceridwen Dulthir Maranae
 

Syvis

Arrogance incarnate
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Syvis smelt the blood before she even had the chance to look for it. She grabbed her knives in two hands, the pummels in her palms and the blades alongside the back of her fore arms.

She observed the blade fight between the distorted man and Elliot, Elliot getting his ass kicked. Her energy levels were low as she did nothing yet but watch, in her normal state her skills would be fairly rivalled with the boy but now she’d have to choose her opportunities wisely. He couldn’t continue his magics and his intense wielding together... could he? No. Everything had a price yet his seemed to have no toll. A fucking irritant if you asked her.

She exhaled through her nose all in due time. Even in these short moments she felt her strength rebuilding and her adrenaline setting in once again, she almost needed to get cut just for an extra jolt.

Syvis snaked through the grass as the boy seemed to be paying no attention to her, her eyes adjusted as she worked overtime to spot the real one. Keeping her eyes on him she waited for an opening until she spotted it. His back was turned to her. Taking a page from his book her legs kicked her off the air as she landed on his back like a spider monkey.

Her blade struck home inbetween his collarbone and shoulder blade and her second in his back lodged between his ribs. She hadn’t killed him even though she wish she had, he seemed to be the type to hold a grudge and most definitely an irritating fight. Syvis fell off his back and as she did so she elbowed his ribs and kicked out the back of his knees causing the kamikaze man to drop like a sack of potatoes. Unsure of what to do next she sat on him.


„What now?“ she inquired of a bleeding Elliot breathlessly.
 

Dulthir

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Dulthir and Karrazark were closing on the woman. Then, out of nowhere, a blur tackled her. Dulthir brought Karrazark to a halt. At first, he thought it just a mere beast of the forest. He thought, "Huh, a stroke of luck..." Then the "beast" turned it's gaze to him. It was... a girl. She was savage in her look. Blood soaked, and panting, eyes wild. Before Dulthir could speak, she lunged in a deranged attack. Dulthir heeled Karrazark. The massive boar lowered his head, and lunged. His extremely thick skull struck the girl in her chest, with a force comparable to a cannon ball at close range. The girls claws dug into Karrazark's thick hide. He squealed and grunted. He shook his head and flung the girl into a nearby tree. Dulthir drew his crossbow and aimed at the girl. Then he moved it to the other woman. The beast girl was the immediate threat, as the other woman was badly wounded. But, she was a fucking magic user. So, he looked back to the beast girl, who was temporarily dazed.
"Please stop, lass. I'm after this bitch here, notta ye. If ye want her dead, I'll notta stop ye..."
He wasn't even sure she'd understand what he said, but, he hoped she would. Karrazark stood at the ready, blood trickling out of the gashes he'd received from the girl.
 

Ceridwen

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Teeth clenched on her thickly scaled hand and she clenched her beak against the pain the pressure caused on her muscles, though the woman’s teeth could not break through the thicky scaled palm. Her hand clenched, sharp talons slicing scratches along the girls cheeks, more out of muscle spasm from the bite, than out of Ceri’s desire to disfigure the girl. Ceridwen growled, lifted her head to the sky and brought her strong, thick skull down on the girl’s head to knock her unconscious.

The sudden dead weight of the girl made Ceridwen falter in her steps, nearly dropping her, Mathew’s arrow narrowly missing her as she ducked slightly, catching the limp girl before she ended up in the mud. Ceri shifted how she held the now dead weight of the unconscious girl as she tried to keep walking. Her sharply angled ears picked up the sound of footfalls, they sounded like they were getting closer so she spun to face her attacker.

“ALEXIA!” the man wielding a sword screamed as he ran towards them. Ceri moved how she held the girl again, tossing her over her shoulder as the man came towards her. Her bright emerald eyes glared at the man as she walked backwards.

“DO you not see me taking her away from the fray?” She said with a hiss. If she had to she would drop the girl and fight, but she would prefer to not have more blood on her talons. Her beak was held agap, her crimson tongue gliding along her bottom jaw as she panted, sharp weary eyes remaining on the man. She forced herself to fold her injured wing… the pain almost overwhelming, threatening her own consciousness but she knew the wing was in far more jeopardy if she didn’t fold it. Her uninjured wing however she unfolded slightly as she kept walking backwards, watching the man make up the distance between them easily, quickly.

She was ready to toss the girl to the side, risking injury to the girl, if the man kept up his charge towards them. If he slowed, she would keep her hold on the girl and attempt to talk the man down. She felt the crackle of magic around her… it seethed through her own magical senses, annoying her as it was not magic she herself controlled. As she kept backing, and the man kept heading after her, her eyes caught the skeleton with Elliot Aldmar and she was actually slightly terrified by that fact, Syvis was close to Elliot, her eyes scanned quickly for Dulthir, noting he too was still standing and that soothed her alot. She turned her full attention to the man still approaching.

Maranae
 

Maranae

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Cade had no idea that the goddess was behind him, so consumed was he with the battle between him and a skeletal remains of one soldier and the dark-elf. He couldn't pierce the defenses of an undead, though that was not to say he did not try. Knives were ineffective weapons against bones; blunt weapons would have been better, though.

Not that it mattered, in the end. The knives in is opponents hands, guided by divine providence, struck true. HE did not see them coming, and truth to tell, he never saw who dealt the blow, either. Before he hit the ground, he was already gone.

***

Temporarily dazed. She did not remember how she got there, but when she came to, she apparently forgot most of what had been happening those long minutes before. A single look to Dulthir and his beast, and she snorted and bolted obliquely back into the woods she had come from, leaving the unconscious ALyse where she lay.

(OOC: Thanks for the invite all! Don't wait up on me after this post.)
 

Elliot Aldmar

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Elliot saw a ghost of movement, a lunge, and then Syvis on the back of his illusory assailant, catching him where Elliot could not. Whether by sheer luck or some other means, she'd done it, and that to Elliot was what mattered. As Cade fell and Syvis sat atop him, Elliot staggered back a few steps from the Skeletal Warrior and just grit his teeth and pinched his eyes shut in a hard grimace for a moment. The pain of his wounds soaked through him like the night's rain and it was all he could do to simply bear it. Blood dripped off of his chin and jaw. But there was no stopping and patching up his injuries just yet.

Elliot cast a glance then to the shallow water where he had thrown his Black Bow as Syvis asked what was next. He sheathed his dagger and forced himself to walk to the western shore, and the disturbed water lapped about his boots. He bent down when he saw his weapon and picked up the Bow and said to Syvis, "Getting Alexia, and then getting out of here."

It was a thin string of luck that the Free Company hadn't yet arrived. Best not to stretch it until it snapped.

Ceridwen still had Alexia--Elliot could see that much, even with the distance. He didn't have eyes on Dulthir or his pig. Presumably he was still in the northern treeline, covering them from whoever had been casting those other spells. Only two guardsmen--Mathew and Orrem--left, Elliot saw. The half-shaven man Jack was still "down," pretending to be dead in the ripped debris of one of the tents, and of no mind to stand and risk being torn to shreds by a griffin or shot through the chest with an arrow.

With a bad arm, Elliot didn't know how good his aim would be. But with the right approach, it wouldn't matter. He started past Syvis and toward the direction Ceridwen and Mathew and Orrem had gone, saying, "We're finishing it."

* * * * *​

A muffled shriek from Alexia as Ceridwen's claws tore into her face, and these were cut short. The world to Alexia went black in an instant as she was bashed on the head, and she felt not the effects of the immediate concussion she suffered nor the accompanying fracture of her delicate skull. Spittle dribbled out from her mouth as she shifted around to be carried this way and that.

Orrem splashed through the shallow water, cursed as he witnessed those claws raking Alexia's face and the vicious headbutt. He redoubled his effort, hurrying as much as he could despite the fear and--

"Orrem!"

He stopped. Glanced back.

It was Mathew that called his name. And Elliot was beside him, arrow nocked and drawn back, the arrowhead brushing against the man's ear. The two men--Elliot and his hostage Mathew--stood on the edge of the campsite island.

"Drop the weapon," Elliot called to Orrem.

A moment of hesitation and formulation of a decision. Orrem saw the hard look in Mathew's face, took stock of the terrible odds, and recognized his own all-too-ready willingness to find any reason to not engage that griffin-creature. So Orrem let out a ragged, defeated sigh. Dropped his sword--the blade making a slight splash and disappearing into the standing water--and raised his hands up.

Then he turned his head slowly to regard Ceridwen, the creature, once more. Pleaded earnestly, "Let her live. If you're going to kill anyone, then kill us. But let her live. She doesn't deserve any of this."

Syvis Ceridwen Dulthir
 

Syvis

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Syvis looked at the bleeding Elliot and she winced in sympathy. "Quit moving." She said curtly as she stood off the dropped man to give Elliot a delicate kiss on the cheek. Her body shook as she gave the last of her efforts to Elliot, she could not heal him but she could numb it. Just a little. All she hoped was to make it more bearable for him. Feebly she followed behind him, somehow managing to keep somewhat near to him.

Her face morphed into a cruel smile as she watched the man she'd come to know as Orrem beg. "She's not a fucking monster." She spat angrily that one could perceive Ceri as much. Syvis walked over to her injured friend. "Ceri is a kind and delicate soul who likely didn't wish to be shot nor injured by men too thick to comprehend the situation surrounding them."

With her last statement she offered to take some of Alexia's weight off of Ceri's hands. "If you wish to go shift, I'll guard you closely, I can splint a human body better than a griffon." She said silently so only Ceri might hear.

Syvis was done. It was time either Elliot killed those useless oafs or she did. There was no room for negotiations, or dealing with anyone following them. As she felt herself tilt nearly succumbing to the exhaustion that practically consumed her Syvis grimly stabbed herself in the arm. She clenched her jaw unwavering as her face remained unfaltering besides her widen eyes. The blood pooled in her shirt, she hadn't gone too deep, had she? Syvis didn't wish to look as she heard the squelch of her blood as the blade was withdrawn out of it's fleshy resting place. The cynicalness of her situation produced the results wished as she felt herself awake with a jolt. The adrenaline wouldn't last her long but it was something if need be she'd poke herself like a voodoo doll until there was nothing left for her to give.
 

Dulthir

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Dulthir and Karrazark stood, waiting for another attack. Instead, the "girl", all of a sudden, had a look of confusion, then darted off, away from everything. The other woman was still unconscious. Dulthir walked up to her. She was still breathing, but, he didn't figure she'd last long. He knelt beside her.
"Yer fate is in the hands of the gods now."
He stood and hopped back on Karrazark. They made their way back to their companions. When they walked up, Dulthir could see Ceri was badly injured. Elliot had the "leader" of the guards at arrow point. The other boy, the one Syvis injured initially with her dagger, was standing near Ceri, sword drawn. "Drop your weapon..." Elliot called out. Dulthir dismounted and Karrazark, who'd also grown fond of Ceri, went straight to the boy, jaws clacking, snorting and grunting. Dulthir drew his axe.
"Ye'd best be listenin' to him lad. Losing yer head over thretnin' folks tryin' ta save yer Mistress wouldna be wise. Now, drop it..."
He wanted to go to Ceri, to help her, but, this whelp of a boy needed to dealt with first.
 

Ceridwen

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Some of the magic in the air seemed to dwindle and then ceased to exist, there was still some magic around but not as much. Ceri tore her eyes from Dulthir and set them back on the man who was narrowing the space between himself and her and Alexia as she heard Mathew, her eyes shot to him. Elliot Aldmar had him, arrow against his ear threateningly. She drug her tongue over her beak slowly as she felt a sense of calm, able to relax a little, perhaps this would end this.

"Orrem! Drop the weapon," Elliot yelled to man in front of her and Ceri watched the man deflate, defeated, thinking for a few fleeting moments whether he would listen to the order or not. He finally did and the sword tumbled into the water. Ceri’s eyes moved to Dulthir as he appeared.

"Ye'd best be listenin' to him lad. Losing yer head over thretnin' folks tryin' ta save yer Mistress wouldna be wise. Now, drop it..." Dulthir said as he too came towards them. Karrazark had come straight for her and the threat against her, his jaws snapping in threat towards Orrem.

Ceri took a breath of exhaustion as Orrem turned to her and spoke. "Let her live. If you're going to kill anyone, then kill us. But let her live. She doesn't deserve any of this." She rolled her eyes. “If I wanted her dead she would already be dead.” She growled slightly, her words quickly over come by Syvis ’ growl, defending her.

"She's not a fucking monster. Ceri is a kind and delicate soul who likely didn't wish to be shot nor injured by men too thick to comprehend the situation surrounding them."

Ceri smiled faintly at Syvis’ as she came over to help her hold Alexia. "If you wish to go shift, I'll guard you closely, I can splint a human body better than a griffon." Ceri shook her head… “If I shift it would only be to pure form, I do not have the energy for anything else.” She said softly, her eyes falling closed for a moment as she panted, trying to get the energy to process the things going on.

“Do we really have to kill anyone else… can we just get out of here before more problems show up out of no where?” nausea was beginning to twist her stomach into knots, her head pounding. She really just wanted to get somewhere safe and handle whatever needed to be done.
 

Elliot Aldmar

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Elliot was stopped briefly in his stride by Syvis. He regarded her. She stood and kissed him on the cheek and with it came a kind of respite, an abating from the sharp pain of the arrowhead poking between his ribs and the stab in his arm and the wild gash across his neck and lower face. Some manner of magic, and it was welcome. Elliot returned an appreciative gaze and dip of his head.

Quit moving, she had said. When it was done, they all could.

Elliot proceeded then to sneak up on the focused Mathew, Syvis's numbing of his pain working wonders for his ability to draw and keep drawn the Bow he threatened Mathew with. Mathew had called out to his fellow Orrem and Elliot told him to drop the weapon and indeed the man did. Both Mathew and Orrem had done so, and both their hands were raised. With Dulthir and Karrazark back, Elliot reckoned they could well see that they were badly outnumbered. If they were like Cade they could do something about it. But they weren't.

And so here they were.

Mathew and Orrem met each other's bemused gaze when Syvis and Dulthir had both spoken. Orrem turned an incredulous look to Syvis after: she had attacked him. He would have voiced it, but he didn't want to risk provoking either the dwarf before him nor Syvis into a retributive beheading or some such.

Mathew, however, did speak his mind, "Trying to save our Mistress. If that's true then you have a hell of a way of showing it. Those were good men you and yours needlessly butchered."

Elliot relaxed the tension on his Bow and put the arrow back into his quiver and slung his Bow across his back as Mathew spoke. He roughly grabbed the back of Mathew's doublet collar and put a foot to the crook of his knee, said, "There's no changing it now. Get down," and forced him to his knees in the dirt beside the shallow water.

Mathew, with scant little resistance, did go down to his knees, hands on the back of his head. "You son of a bitch. You're with them. The Free Company."

"I was."

Mathew gave a tilt of his head in Dulthir's direction. "Is that the dwarf who killed Gerda?"

"No." Then Elliot called out, "Dulthir. Bring the other one here." Referring to Orrem. Elliot figured he could have his Skeletal Warrior watch both of them, keeping them in check while the party figured out how best to egress from here. With Badger dead and the horses of the guardsmen having fled, that could be something of a problem. They had little time, so egress was more important than addressing their collective wounds at present.

Meanwhile, as Syvis and Ceridwen were speaking, Alexia was slowly coming around. Her eyes were half open, looking mostly at the back of their lids. Her voice was slow, slurred, weak, and altogether the sound of disorientation, "Help...mom...I got...shtuck...in the tree again...I'm sorry..."

* * * * *​

A bird was flying overhead. It swooped around on some avian whim, and then glided toward the northern treeline.

Ceridwen Syvis Dulthir
 
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Syvis

Arrogance incarnate
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She pat Ceri affectionately, “Understood.” Poor dear deserved better then battle. Syvis looked at Dulthir and felt he likely felt the same if not worry for the red head.

Syvis watched the ordeal with the men bemused. Her eyes narrowed at the one she’d attacked first; Orrem. Just to scare him a tad, after all she figured a stab happy woman covered in a comrade’s blood had to be intimidating when glared at.

Her tongue found its way in between the top and bottom teeth as she clamped down remaining silent. Elliot knew what was best here she’d remain silent, for the better good.

She gave them a nod as she walked away, Syvis stepped over the various bodies, thankfully enough none of their own. She was careful to avoid the area in which Cade laid unsure if he was dead, and frankly she didn’t wish to check. As she made her way throughout the mess of bodies she grabbed whatever knives were buried throughout the field. Syvis stopped and paused at the weapons rack grabbing a bow and quiver filled with arrows. It was best to have another sort of weapon.

Alas she finally made it to her destination the pool in which Badger lay dead surrounded by her own blood. Syvis grimaced as she got in the bloody pool pushing the dead horse up out of it. It was a slow and gruelling process but the horse was moving none the less. After great effort she’d moved majority of Badger’s body up out of the pool. She got to work braiding the horses mane once again as she sat beside her head. Badger didn’t deserve to be left without care of the dead, most especially as Syvis was the reason the whole hubbub started.