I have lived in this asuran lab for a while now, but I had not seen it so… lively yet. Kaya was no longer the only one who smiled, the krewe members actually greeted one another in passing and most of the time they were chatting happily amongst each other. They did their best to include me in their conversations whenever I was around, but most of the time I really had no idea what they were talking about.
Rearranging the crystal matrix? Calibrating the etheric tuners? Just give me fire and metal and I know what to do.
Still, I appreciated their effort, so most of the time I pretended to follow what they are saying.
I turned my head to look at Kaya who had been walking with me to the dorms, Thornfang following us closely.
“You really had no clue what we were talking about just now, did you?”
“Eh,” I said nervously, scraping my throat. “… No. Not at all,” I decided to confess with a sigh.
Kaya had a short, high pitched giggle, before returning her eyes on the corridor ahead.
“We know that, but at least you try to follow along, and we appreciate that.”
“What do you mean by that?” she said, arching an eyebrow.
“Well, it doesn’t really surprise me that you knew, but it does surprise me that you appreciate it. I never knew you asura appreciated anything, really,” I said, mostly as a joke.
Kaya gave me a violent jab in the side with her elbow—quite the feat, considering our difference in length—and gave a disgruntled snort.
“How dare you think of us like that?” she said with her chin high in the air, but the unmistakable sign of a smile on her lips.
I decided to answer with nothing but a grin.
“Well,” she said after a few seconds, “we asura might have some… reputation issues.”
“Might have? Some?”
This time I jumped backwards in time to avoid her jab, unsettling her balance. After she regained her footing, she shot me a vile glance.
“That was mean!”
“What, the remark or the dodge!”
She shook her head, but once again failed to hide her smile.
“Regardless,” she said strongly, rolling her eyes, “how has your work been going?”
“Just fine, actually. I have finished the metal plating for the cannon’s exterior as well as most of the gears.”
She frowned thoughtfully.
“What?” I asked, slightly hesitant.
Whenever Kaya looked like that, she had the tendency to become serious all of the sudden.
“You were trained as a scout, right?”
I was right.
“Depends on how you look at it,” I said with a shrug.
“Eh? What do you mean?”
“Well, we were all trained as warriors, and I had a preference for the bow. It was not until we actually got fielded that I was given the assignment of being a scout.”
“So… it wasn’t your own choice?”
“Choice? What does choosing have anything to do with it? My ‘band needed a scout, I could fit the role, so why should I not do it?”
“Eh, well, never mind about that.”
I was unsure what she was getting at, but one look at her made me realize that she would not explain.
“Don’t you miss being outside? Scouting and stuff?”
“Hmm. Miss? I do what needs to be done, there isn’t really any point contemplating on things that are not important right now. Besides, I really enjoyed working with the forge.”
“… Do all charr think like that?”
“I can’t say all charr do,” I said, thoughtfully scratching my chin, “but most of us, I guess. It’s the way we’re taught at the fahrar.”
“The way you talk about it… the fahrar, and the warbands, they sound like a really close-knit group.”
“Oh, they are.”
“Then… where is your warband?”
My eye twitched. How did I not see that question coming? I should have aborted the conversation before this question even came up, but I failed to do so and hated myself for it. Even the thought of my warband sapped all life out of me.
“Eh,” Kaya stuttered, “never mind.”
And just like that, she ran off, leaving me and Thornfang behind.
I rolled over in the small bed and saw that Thornfang was silently pacing the room. It seemed like he, too, was having difficulty sleeping. I stretched out my claw and he immediately padded towards it, rubbing his head against it so I would pet him.
After a few second we both pricked out ears; we heard an unusual noise from the entrance of the lab. I sounded as whispering, but the amount of voices immediately convinced me that it was not another sleepless krewe member. I silently got up, grabbed my sword and bow and sneaked out of the room, down the corridor.
Thankfully, we charr had good sight during the night, but so did the asura. If for some reason the invaders were other asura, I would lose that advantage.
I walked as fast as I could while still remaining quiet towards the workshop. There, I saw the cannon, nearing completion. For a split second I hesitated. I still was unsure if we were really being invaded, or that I had misjudged the whole situation.
Shaking aside my doubts, I quickly removed the cannon’s power core, the one the krewe made using the destroyer sliver I provided and represented most of this krewe’s advancements. I found a bag on a bench and put the core in before flinging the bag over my shoulder.
Just as I had finished doing so, a familiar voice drifted through the corridor.
“… it’s over here, but stay quiet!”
I spun around and found my eyes interlocked with Marn’s, who was standing in the workshop’s entrance.
He narrowed his eyes at me, and said in a dark tone, “What are you doing here, feline.”
Was there nervousness in his voice?
“I thought we might be invaded, so I came here…”
While speaking something came to me. Marn? I have not seen or heard him for a week or so.
“Marn, where have you been?” I said, slowly reaching for my sword.
His eyes sprang wide open and he shouted, “Kill the beast!”
Instantly, two other asura dashed through the door, wielding swords and wearing only blacks and reds.
They took me by such surprise that by the time I realized what was going on, one of the asura was swinging a blade at me. I dodged just in time and swung my arm hard, connecting with the already unbalanced asura, sending it flying across the room.
The other asura came dashing at me, but fell flat with a piercing screech as Thornfang ripped its hamstring. Meanwhile, Marn was running towards the cannon and I chose to chase him. I knew that it was pointless, as there was little left for him to steal, but I wanted him to die.
He reached the cannon before me and turned around, drawing a pistol. I was almost on him and extended my claws as I gave one great swipe. I felt little resistance as my claws cut through the soft flesh of his belly. Marn’s eyes grew wide and even in the darkness I could see his face pale as he clutched his stomach. His eyes rolled upwards as he fell to the ground, where a crimson pool slowly spread over the smooth floor. Even then, it took me a few seconds before my bloodlust waned.
“Thornfang!” I called, and he immediately stopped mauling his victim and followed me.
With a pounding heart I stormed through the corridors, bowling over any surprised Inquest on the way. There was another way out of the lab, a secret tunnel out that only Glixx and I knew about, as I accidentally found it when roaming the base.
Nearing the dorm I heard the sound of battle, as well as the sound of many more Inquest coming into the lab. With my sword now in paw, I slashed through the astonished Inquest. It took me a while before I reached Kaya and Dumm, who held the line as the rest of the krewe escaped through the tunnel.
“Hurry, hurry!” I heard Glixx’s voice in the distance.
“Kumara!” Kaya exclaimed as I burst through the wall of hostile asura.
With no time to talk, I pushed past them and spun around as I grabbed my bow. The corridor was never designed to be a battlefield, allowing Kaya, Dumm and Thornfang to hold the line while I shot arrow after arrow at the Inquest who had nowhere to dodge to.
After half a minute they fell back, but looking over their heads, I saw that more of them were coming, and with shields this time. They would be able to fend off my arrows and some of Dumm’s magic.
“Come on, we are leaving!” Glixx yelled behind us.
Without a moment of hesitation Kaya threw a smoke-bomb at the charging Inquest, blinding them as we ran down the hall. Dumm was the last to enter the tunnel and when he did he stopped, turned around and started waving his arms, muttering.
“Dumm!” I snarled beneath my breath as I ran back to get him.
An arrow hit him square in the shoulder, but he gave no sign of relenting. Just as I reached him and grabbed him by the hem of his robe, the tunnel entrance collapsed on itself, blocking the way for the Inquest.
Earth magic. Of course.
Despite his victory, Dumm said nothing. I hauled him onto my back, noting how weak he appeared, and ran after the others, through the tunnel.
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.
Marn: An asuran krewe member who hates Kumara.
Dumm: An asura member of Glix’s krewe, who was the first of said krewe to meet Kumara.
Glix: The asura that leads the krewe that Kumara currently finds himself with.