Following the three Inquest members proved to be quite easy. Not only did they carry a bright torch, they were also talking as if they had nothing to fear. The dolyak they were leading did not help their stealth either. Even so, Kaya and I did our best to remain silent, moving through the undergrowth like shadows, just in case one of our prey did listen to its surroundings.
After what felt like ten minutes of following them, we came across a rocky overhang, well hidden by the trees and rocks surrounding it. It was so well hidden, that we only noticed that there was a fire burning when we pushed past a large bush. Under the overhang, there was quite a bit of space, more than enough to fit a herd of dolyak.
Awaiting the arrival of the their three krewe members, two other Inquest jumped to their stubby little feet. One of them was tinkering with what seemed like a turret, but now had his pistol trained on its comrades. The other guard clutched onto her staff like it was her first day at the fahrar. Both of them, however, relaxed upon seeing that the intruders had been their krewe members.
“We got the dolyak,” the asura holding the torch said.
Her voice was rather strong and convincing, and judging by the reactions of the other four, she was their leader.
“Can we go back to our lab now?” the one with the staff whimpered, her eyes darting left and right.
The leader seemed to consider it for a moment.
“No,” she said slowly. “We best wait for dawn.”
“They seem to be aware of the fact that the supply shipments are being undermined, which is why they moved the time of transportation to dusk. We do not know what other measures they may have taken. It would look much less suspicious if we lead a dolyak by day.”
The asura with the staff whimpered, but did not argue again.
I could see from the corner of my eye that Kaya was signing again.
We must take them, now!
To this, I had to agree. Waiting for dawn would not only be a huge nuisance, it would also take away the cover of darkness. I signed back.
Which target first?
She glanced over to the Inquest, the three new arrivals huddling around the fire.
I gave a slow nod and gently placed Dumm down back on the ground. His eyes were bigger than usual and his hands were shaking.
“We are going to attack them,” I whispered in his ear. “I will shoot first, and we’ll see from there.”
“See from there?” he whispered in shock.
Replying only with a nod, I returned to Kaya.
I gave her a nod, and she pulled up the cloth covering her face a bit higher, threw on her hood and dashed away, making no sound and blending with the environment. Then, I silently counted down.
Once I reached five seconds, I slowly drew an arrow out of my quiver, and placed it on my bow.
Drawing back with the utmost care, the newly waxed string made almost no sound.
I pointed the arrow at the asura clutching her staff.
Slowly, I let out my breath at a steady rate.
My paw unclenched and the built-up tension of the bow released itself into the arrow. The moment my arrow left the bow, a small round object flew from the brush on the opposite side of the overhang. The small orb collided with the turret and exploded into a cloud of black dust, from which a loud coughing could be heard.
The arrow, meanwhile, had found its mark. In all the confusion, the target turned her head towards the explosion, but that only meant that the arrow dug itself deeply into her temple. The force by which the arrow was shot against her small body, meant that she was knocked off her feet. But, she was dead before she hit the ground, her staff rolling lazily out of her hand.
Immediately, the fight broke loose. The two asura with the rifles jumped up and started shooting at the shot where I was. They would have hit me if I had not rolled away just in time. I saw Kaya dash across the back of the overhang and lunge at one of the rifleman who failed to notice that until one of her daggers was up to its hilt into the Inquest’s neck.
As I readied another arrow, Kaya rolled backward, evading a rifle shot by a hair. This time, when I released the arrow, I was noticed. The asura who had held the torch quickly grabbed it out of the fire again. While my arrow flew at her, she slashed her sword through the air in front of her, creating a blue blur. She slashed repeatedly, shooting off blue blades at me, but they fell short. My arrow, meanwhile, hit the blur and shattered into a shower of pieces.
With a grunt I shouldered my bow and drew out my sword. In the background I could see Kaya fighting the other rifleman, who was not as easily taken down as the first one. For a handful of heartbeats, the Inquest leader and I stood face to face, both of us holding our sword, staring each other down.
I had seen those blue blurs before, and I recognized that magic. The mice called its users ‘guardians,’ because it, more often than not, was used defensively. However, in all my battles against the mice, I knew better that to think that they had no offensive capabilities. No, I would let her come to me, so that I had the time to react.
Her next action, however, surprised me. She thrust her torch into the air, muttering unintelligible. The fire flashed and a trail of flames lashed out from the torch, turned blue, and snaked itself around the asura. Within a second she appeared to be coated in a cloak of blue fire. Then, she dashed at me.
She was getting closer and closer, so I readied myself. However, when she was only ten feet away, she suddenly disappeared and reappeared in front of me with a blinding flash. I could feel the heat of the flames surrounding her, and I only had just enough time to bring up my sword to parry her. The impact of her blade send a tremor through my arm and tongues of flame liked at my fur.
Still blinded, I stabbed hard with my sword, and felt it connect with her blade. She held her footing, acting as an unmovable object, but that was just what I had planned for. Using the momentum still left in my swing, I pushed myself backwards into a roll, creating quite a distance between us.
A bullet whizzed past me from the left, singeing one of my whiskers. I stole a quick glance and saw that the blinding cloud had dissipated, revealing a highly irritated asura aiming its pistol at me. Before he could pull the trigger again, a bolt of lightning shot past me, slamming into the asura. The cracking of lightning was almost ear deafening as Dumm reformed where the bolt was. He rolled aside, and razed his dagger, sending both himself and his quarry flying in opposite directions.
Although thankful, I had no time to look at his fight. I quickly grabbed a small bag out of my pocket containing a sickly looking paste, which I smeared on the edges of my sword. Just as I was getting up, I saw the Inquest leader lunge at me. The distance between us, however, was far too great for her to surprise me. I rolled to the side, then kicked off sending my momentum forward. As I passed the asura’s side, I saw her eyes wide with surprise while I lashed out with my blade. Standing on my paws again, I saw that my quarry stagger forward. My attack did not do much damage, as I only saw a thing line in her side that, although was darkening rapidly with her blood, would be far from fatal.
The asura straightened herself, her cloak of fire now dissipated, and readied herself for a new lunge. From the get go, her attack was sloppy. As such, I had little trouble slashing out with my sword, starting at my bottom right and aiming at my top left, and knocking her blade away from me. Her body now wide open, I used both our momentums as I kicked her hard in the gut, sending her staggering backwards. With a final pounce, I bore down my sword into her stomach, pinning, her to the ground.
“H-how…” she stammered, eyes wide open and blood slowly dripping out of her mouth.
I grinned widely, powered by the thrill of combat, as I replied, “Venom.”
Her face turned into a scowl before the light in her eyes faded.
Looking around, I saw that the battle was finished. With a mixture of relief and disappointment, I saw that both Kaya and Dumm had taken out their enemies. Kaya’s rifleman had a throwing dagger stuck in the middle of its large forehead and Dumm’s target lay on the ground, his limb contorted in unnatural angles. The turret appeared to have short circuited.
Both Kaya and Dumm seemed sad. It took me a while to remember that these were not charr, who could find a certain thrill in battle, but asura. They were scientists.
“Are you two alright?”
“Yes,” Kaya said more firmly than Dumm.
“You two get back to the lab with the dolyak as soon as possible, I’ll cover our tracks.”
They both agreed instantly.
List Of Recurring Entities:
The following is a list of characters—apart from Kumara and Thornfang—who have made an appearance before this part, sorted by order of appearance. With all the different stories on CoT, I understand it is hard to keep track of all the characters.
Kaya: An asura member of the krewe who, apart from always carrying a smile, seems to like Kumara.
Dumm: An asura member of Glix’s krewe, who was the first of said krewe to meet Kumara.