Lucien lay belly down on the hillside watching, waiting for the right moment. This time the bandits had gone too far. Lucien had never actively sought to hunt the bandits, with his eyes on things like vampires, but as he looked down on the proud beast, his heart could no longer bear the weight. The Talesian Lion stood at the ready, chained to a wall with handlers wielding spears in case it escaped, staring down at its next opponent; three orcs riding winter wolves. It seemed the bandits were making money and sport with these fights that were mockeries of the gladiatorial arenas of Elosia.
As a once chosen of Herena Lucien still held a place in his heart for the sacred beast, and as a Knight of the Phoenix he once again felt close to Herena and all the gods for that matter. As a ranger though, this act made him particularly sick. It was Lucien and Koga up against an unknown number of bandits and whatever beasts and creatures that were there betting or fighting. Lucien still felt bad for the bandits. The Lion looked bruised and the time to strike would soon be upon them. If they let her go through another fight they may not be able to extract her, or worse, she may not survive. The handlers were going on break, this was it. Lucien let loose a single arrow…
Koga sat perched on the thatched roof, having climbed up it as nimbly as the felines his race was modeled after. He had dismantled the alarm bell and moved aside a bit of the roof to be able to see inside. He sat completely still, never moving a muscle waiting for the signal Lucien said he would send. He looked upon the great beast with sadness, and upon the bandits with seething hatred. He wanted to strike, but he trusted Lucien. Koga said a silent prayer to Herena for strength. Strength to make a kill when need be, but more importantly the strength to know when not to take one. He prayed for the lives he knew he would take, and that the ones he did not that they find the light of the gods and walk away from this dishonorable life. A single arrow embedded into the rafter right next to Koga’s head.
It was time.
Koga grabbed the rafter and swung down from his perch flinging himself through the air, flipping and landing in a roll. He sprung into action never losing momentum tripping the nearest bandit and crushing his windpipe on the ground. Koga stood up and released a roar of defiance as he leapt towards the bandit captain. He met resistance, but nothing he could not handle. A man stabbed at him with a dagger, Koga side-stepped as he disarmed the man at the same time breaking his arm and throwing the dagger into the throat of an approaching bandit. The man in his grasp muttered “Please I have children..” Koga replied “Then go to them.” as he put the man to sleep with a quick strike to a pressure point. Koga heard two men coming up behind him but he knew it didn’t matter. He advanced toward the bandit captain, his orders were clear. Cut off the head of the snake.
Koga didn’t have to turn around to know what happened. Hopefully Lucien wasn’t wasting costly arrows on these brigands. Koga was on the captain in a flash, leaping through the air in a perfectly formed kick which landed squarely against the leaders chest. Koga and the bandit captain exchanged blows for a time. This man was good, but Koga was better. The bandit captain lunged at Koga right as an arrow hit squarely in the middle of his shield. Koga seized the opportunity by seizing his spear, pulling it towards him and simultaneously snapping it while kneeing the man in the stomach. Koga put the point of the now broken spear to the bandits throat.
“I give you one chance, surrender.”
Before the captain could get the N out in “never” Koga put the spear through his throat. Turning around he saw the bandits now had a chance to organize, they slowly surrounded Koga, weapons drawn….
Lucien fired into the fray, taking down two bandits trying to get the jump on Koga. That was when he noticed the three orcs mounted on winter wolves trying to escape the fray, having no loves for any human let alone bandits. Lucien strapped his bow to his back and drew his two handed sword cutting off their escape, he could not suffer three abominations against Eluesari to escape to wreak havoc another day, and after the Stonefang mountains, what was three orcs. Besides, if he kept helping Koga it wasn’t fair for the bandits.
Lucien ran full speed at the lead rider, deflecting away a spear thrown at him and returning it with a thrown dagger to the throat. Continuing the charge of the now riderless winterwolf Lucien cut low, but the beast was a veteran of battle and leapt over the wide swing, hit the ground in a slide and turned around. The beast let loose its icy breath upon Lucien. Lucien brought his sword to bear conjuring the fires of the Phoenix, fiery wings spread from either side of his blade protecting him from the blast. Waving the sword in a wide arc, he sent the feathers of the wings like one hundred crossbow bolts right at the winterwolf. It lay dead, completely singed on the ground. Another spear came at Lucien’s back. He dodged and entered in the shadows of the forest coming to the side of the next wolf and lopping off its head. The rider cut across Lucien’s chest, but his Talesian hide armor took the brunt of the blow. Oh how Lucien loved irony.
After the last of the orc riders were dispatched Lucien looked up to see Koga in duel with the captain. He knew Koga would win eventually, but seeing the bandits gathering up around him he didn’t have time for eventually. Lucien removed his bow from his back and tried to find a shot, but had nothing. Well, Koga would just have to turn nothing into something, Lucien let the arrow fly at the captains shield…
Koga did a full turn and looked at all the bandits surrounding him. He was outnumbered at least twenty to one. Koga kicked up the remains of the captains spear into his hands and performed a dazzling display ending in martial stance his master often used. He looked up and said “The choice is yours.”
One by one the bandits put their weapons down. At this Lucien came in and said to the men “Return to your homes and disperse, this is no life for you or your families.” As the bandits began to leave Koga said in a stern voice “Wait!” The bandits stopped and looked back at him. “Swear it.” At this Koga pulled out his holy symbol and held it out towards the men. One by one they kneeled and swore to Herena to abandon the life of banditry. “Come Koga, we must tend to the Lion.”
As they approached the proud and noble animal, Lucien made some strange guttural noises and much to Koga’s surprise she flipped onto her back exposing her wounds. “Koga help me tend to her.” Koga prayed to Herena over the animal, and Lucien pulled out an injector as well as some herbs he had gathered on the way here and began applying Poultices and injecting her in key spots. She was going to make it. ”Herena be praised” Koga thought.
As Koga, Lucien, and the Lion approached the rendezvous point William was already there, cleaning a small blade with a cloth. He slipped the blade underneath the sleeve of his shirt.
“Was it Winthorpe?” Lucien asked. “No.” William replied. “Just an ex high ranking officer recruited, probably by Winthorpe.”
“And?” Lucien let the question hang.
William looked solemnly off into the distance, in his hand Lucien and Koga could see the cloth he was holding stained with blood. “Winthorpe will have to find another general.”