Northern Bane (Vik, Dank, Pen)
Jen Ko sat with his back to the trunk of a tree, his cloak wrapped around his body, shielding it from the chill night air. He tended a small cookfire with a stick held in one paw, ocassionally stirring the branches and twigs, sending showers of sparks to join the stars in the sky. The raccoon had been in the northlands for about three days now, and not seen a living soul. He'd found several burnt out husks that had once been houses, and a few tracks, suggesting he wasn't alone in the forest, but other than that he hadn't seen any concrete sign of life since leaving upper Mossflower… until tonight that is.
He yawned, but refrained from going to sleep. Instead, he continued to swivel his ears, training them on the sounds on the other side of the tree he had his back to. A rustling leaf, a cracking twig, gently creaking armor, breathing. Most of it would have been too faint to hear if he hadn't trained himself to hear those sorts of things.
There were at least two of them, of that he was sure, and they were both experienced at not being heard. The armor was certainly oiled to minimize the creaking, their feet sounded as if they weren't even touching the ground the steps were so soft and precise, and even their breathing was regulated; slow and steady, made to sound like wind.
Jen Ko had been walking all day, still not sure what he was looking for, and he didn't want a fight. So, as the sounds grew close, he breathed deeply and let his muscles loosen up; he'd need to be limber for this. He waited, limp and tense at the same time. A leaf crunched beneath an unseen footpaw.
With a lurch of speed, coordination, and agility born of years of merciless training, Jen leapt up from where he sat, sweeping his foot out as he jumped into the air. His fire was obliterated into shadows by the wide kick and he stretched out his arms, latching on to a low branch. With a grunt he heaved himself up into the dark foliage above him, disappearing into the branches and leaves.
He came to rest crouching on a branch high up in the tree. With one paw wrapped around a branch above him for support and the other on his sword, Jen peered down into the shadows beneath him. He saw figures moving below, but he didn't know how many.
Feeling a bit peeved at having to give up his warm fire, Jen called down, moving to a different branch at the same time so they couldn't track his voice, "What is it you want with me friends? Answer quickly, I am not in the mood for games of tricks tonight." Positioning himself above one of the figures, he half drew his sword, poised to drop down like a hawk as he awaited a response.
(OOC: Oog, I feel like I had a brain-fart. It took me a good hour to think of anything of even moderate quality. Sorry if this isn't, well, good... at all. I blame sleep deprivation and evil Roomba mind control.)
"Ee are no friends of yurrs!" The taller guard, a weasel, spoke out.
"We's ordered ta chech dis fire out. General Bos dudn't like trespassers." The shorter guard, a rat, spoke shortly after his friend.
"Yeah! Bos said to foind the trek passer and bring 'em to 'em." The weasesl said lighting a oil lantern. "Er are yoo funy speech man?" He waved his lamp around looking for the raccoon.
"Come down eer an' show er self!" The rat yelled.
Jen ko raised his eyebrows, "I see. It would seem that our intentions are at odds with each other then not-friends, because I have no intention of coming down while you remain in the area, I have the complete intention to stay right here for the night, and I have had a tiring day, draining me of my patience, so if you do not leave me be within the next few minutes, I intend to… convince you, to go." He dropped silently to the ground on the side of the tree opposite the guards and drew his sword, pressing his back to the tree, "Whether your heads shall remain where they currently are, I have yet to determine."
The weasel laughed. "My head 'il grow back if it comes off!" His friend shook his head.
"No Red, it's lizerd tails that grow back, not weasel heads." The rat corrected.
"Steel, we hadn't the best day ether. We been walkin fer hours and I got meself chewed out by Bos becaws of ya fire yew got burning."
"Ya! Now give us all an easy time and come wit us." The rat said backing up his friend.
"Now get over here!" The weasel yelled.
"You and your companion seem fairly confident," Jen Ko commented, slightly impressed at the pair's boldness. Staying where he stood but holding his sword at the ready he said, "I am, after all, outnumbered and in obviously hostile territory. I'm certain you wouldn't be afraid to; tell me if I am saying this wrong;" His voice dropped so it was colder than the air around them, "come and get me."
"Auuhhh!" The weasel sighed clearly aggravated. "What you think worst? Goin after 'em, err dealing wit Bos angry?"He asked his friend. The rat rubbed his head, thinking carefuly.
"I dunno. On one paw, we could actualy do our job an' on the other, we could leave and say it wus jest one of our beasts setting up camp." The two looked at each other and shrugged shoulders.
"Bye funny talking beast. We gonna leave, ya not worth it!" They laughed full heartedly and turned to leave.
Hmmm, this Bos beast sounds like quite the powerful individual to make beasts choose seriously between death and getting him upset, Jen thought to himself as he listened to the guards walking away, *Perhaps it would be prudent to observe what manner of leader "Bos" is. It may be possible that he is a beast of honor."
Jen silently sheathed his sword and padded back around the tree. He listened in the direction that the pair had moved off in, but he looked around at the trampled remains of his campsite. He looked after the guards then hung his head and sighed. I may have to forgo sleep tonight, it seems. He crept off after the pair, using all the skills he posessed to remain unseen and unheard.
OOC: It is a bit short.
BIC: "Halt where you are, vermin scum!" a deep voice called out from the bushes, "drop your weapons or you die!" The foliage parted and massive badger in golden armor emerged. His blazing eyes showed no mercy as he pointed his giant blade at the unlucky beasts.
Behind Bronzestripe the badger lord, three other beasts appeared. They were of course the other three Avengers. Aislin and Galvin had their ranged weapons trained on the vermin guards and Loki held his daggers at the ready. "Now vermin, we are giving you a chance to save your lives," Bronzestripe explained, "but you will have to answer our questions. First of all, where is your leader?"
The weasel guard was at attention. He was saluting and had his eyes close, but he didn't speak. If his armour wasn't greased up, it would be ratteling. His rat friend took the weasel's and his own swords and threw them down. "Whi- whi- which one!?"
The rat stammered with feared. The giant bronze badger was the second scariest beast he has seen. "Our ge- ge- general or OOF!" The weasel elboed the rat, shaking his head.
"Don' tell 'em." The weasel whispered.
"Do not tell them!" He whispered again.
"Cause Overlord Bloodbane specificly told us, not tell them!" The tall guard said a little too loud. He covered his mouth with his paws.
Jen crouched in the brush a little ways away from the standoff, watching and listening to the encounter. Overlord Bloodbane? He shifted forward a bit so he could hear better. Something rustled a bush to his left and Jen's paw flew to his sword as he whipped his head around.
Sneaking through the brush several feet to his side, coming up behind the four odd beasts, were several other guards, at least seven. He saw the wicked edges of their blades and the murder in their intent eyes. Another patrol!
He remained yet unseen, but the four beasts would surely be in trouble if these vermin took them unawares from behind. A knife in the back- Jen thought, creeping in to intercept the beasts as he drew his sword, -is not honorable in the least.
With a fearsome growl, Bronzestripe grabbed the hapless weasel by the shirt and pulled his face close to his own. "You WILL tell me where your leader is, regardless of what Bloodbane told you," the badger roared at the guard, "for what I'll do to you if you don't tell me is just as bad as what he'll do to you if you do."
"At least if you tell us you'll have a chance," Aislin said, "because your leader is far enough away you can start running. But Bronzestripe is already here." Loki, the rouge of the Avengers, suddenly perked up an ear.
"Oy mates, I think we might 'ave company," the black mouse whispered as he turned behind him, "those vermin are sneaky blighters, but not sneaky enough for the master!"
"Oh drat, I knew it was a trap!" Galvin exclaimed a bit of squeak, "but no one ever listens to me!"
The weasel was near tears, that is, until he heard his comrads. "Die a horrid death striped dog!" He pressed the strapps on his armor, the metal came undone, and the two began their escape.
"We gonna tell Blood on ye all!" The rat yelled speeding off with his buddy at a 'respectable' pace.
The other guards clangged their swords and shields. They made disgusting laughs and hoots of blood thirst.
Jen Ko moved silently in the back ranks of the vermin patrol, his body low to the ground, his sword held in both paws at his side, and his ears pricked to hear steps behind him, despite the vermin's clamour. He crept up behind a rat with a large axe, intent on circling around and joining in when the battle began, but for all his stealth the raccoon didn't notice the rat's tail, right beneath his foot, until he stepped on it.
The wooden sandle dug into the rat's skin and broke some bones with a sickening crunch and tear. Jen winced and cursed himself as the rat screamed and jumped, pulling the tail from beneath Jen's foot. Unbalanced, Jen waved his arms and took a step back, trying not to fall over. Several other vermin looked back and noticed him. So much for stealth, he determined, regaining his balance as at least a third of the vermin in the back of the patrol rushed him. He took a fighting stance, sword held point forward near his shoulder, and leapt forward to meet them.
Bronzestripe threw the weasel's armor to the ground with a angry grunt. His eyes were already starting to become flecked with blood as he turned to face the new enemies. "Aislin, take care of the runners," the badger growled, "I'll hold them off." He gave a terrifiying roar and brandished his giant two pawed sword high. "Come at me vermin scum! Come to your deaths!" he called out in challenge.
Aislin raised her bow and sighted the arrow at the weasel guard. With deadly aim she let the arrow fly straight at the base of his skull. With long practiced ease she pulled a second arrow from her quiver and set it to her bowstring, then releasing it at the rat. Galvin also contributed several less aimed shots from his repeating crossbow.
"It looks likes some beast is got 'imself surrounded in there," Loki noted to Galvin as he caught sight of the glint from Jen's sword, "I wonder if I should fetch auld Colonel Buffington and 'is lads."
The rat stopped, shocked that his long time friend had been slain right before him. He ducked, doging the arrow ment for him and took back to running. He was fueled by vengence and grief not to let himself get killed . "Don't worry Red, I'll make sure ye get your due." The guard said, tears welling up in his eyes.
"Bloodbane gonna make yew all suffa for killn't Red! He will!" The rat picked up his pace and was soon out of shooting range, his goal clear as crystal. He ducked through foliage and jumped across roots. Though he was lazy, the guards, whitch also subbed as scouts, were trained to be the fastest of the hoard. His destination was close at hand.
Jen whipped his sword up, holding it above his head in time to block the axe wielding rat’s overhead chop. His knees bent a bit beneath the strength of the blow, but he quickly shoved upward, throwing the rat off balance and sending his axe up in the air. As the vermin reeled back a step, Jen brought his sword down and across in a sideways U, slicing the rat across the belly. The vermin screamed as his innards became outards, but Jen was already sidestepping a thrust from a weasel, at the same time ducking below the sweeping sideways arc of a cutlass.
The axe Jen had sent flying into the air thudded to the ground about five seconds later, joining two more beasts writhing in their death throws on the forest floor. Jen continued to furiously attack and defend, weaving about in the chaos of battle with all the energy and finesse of an otter riding a wave. But even the most skilled otter could be crushed if the wave was big enough. Jen could hold his own against most beasts, but he was doing far more defending than attacking as vermin closed in around him, cutting off retreat and attacking all at once from all sides.
Jen caught a glimpse of the rat fleeing into the night, but his view was quickly blocked by a spear aimed for his eye. Blast, He thought in irritation, Have to track him later. A thought that rarely occurred to him popped through Jen’s head as he felt the sharp sting of a sword tearing open the flesh of his upper arm from behind. Huh. I might actually be killed today. He brought his sword point down and back, driving it through the enemy behind him and feeling the sword tear back out of his arm. Might. He repeated to himself in satisfaction, gritting his teeth against the pain as he regained his fighting stance and steeling himself for what could be his glorious last stand.
However, this was not likely to be Jen's last stand. For Bronzestripe the Relentless, lord of Salamandastron, came to his aid. The massive badger charged the vermin with a roar and swung up his blade to meet them. His sword traveled in an diagonal slash from his right leg to in the air above the left side of his head. One vermin was nearly cloven in half while a second lost his head to the giant two pawed weapon. Bronzestripe's eyes were almost completely filled with blood now and an unholy rage gripped his very being.
"Looks like Bronzestripe is already hoppin' mad," Loki chuckled, "this lot 'ill be through in no time." The black mouse ducked a spear thrust from a fox that managed to get past Bronzestripe and hamstrung him, leaving the helpless beast writhing on the ground.
Aislin let out a very unladylike curse as the rat ducked under her arrow. "We can't let him warn Bloodchops," she groaned to Galvin, "we'll have to go after him."
"But how will we catch him? "Galvin asked, "he has a head start!"
The rat was crying tears of rage. His feet carried him like a leaf in the wind and in no time he was in the camp."Skurrvy! Why are you running!?" Bos Romana demanded from the rat. "And where's that shadow of your's?"
"The Avengers… They got him!" He cried. "The near by troops are handeling them, but they'll be dead with that badger of theres!" The guard told his superior. "They killed Red!"
"Report this to Overlord Bloodbane post haste! He'll be most please with the location of the group." The wolf commanded.
"I'll get your due Red, I will!" The rat took off for the fortress.
"Stupid rat. These thorns will be removed from Blood's side, even if he dose it himself!" The General drew his sword and grabbed his shield. "My vermin! We have the cursed Avengers close at our doors! Lets make sure Blood has some fun." The soldiers all rose from their tentsand dawned the armor and weapons of the wolveine's hoard, then they slowly began move away from the good beasts, and towards the entrance of Bloodbane's moutain fortress.
Jen glared, stone eyed, at a fox with a pike in front of him, and the fox smirked in return. Though Jen was considered tough, the gaping, bleeding hole in his arm was still slowing him down, and now his arm was beginning to get stiff. He was even starting to get dizzy from blood loss. He hadn't been fighting or bleeding long, but both he and his foes had been fighting hard. He had cuts everywhere, and with the skill of these vermin, it would only take one slip to make his next cut fatal.
The fox teased the samurai with his pike, fainting first to the left then the right. Jen growled deep in his throat, becoming irritated and getting a cramp besides. Suddenly a shadow fell across Jen from behind him and the fox's eyes bugged out. Jen was about to look over his shoulder whan something flew past him and crashed into the fox. Jen's own eyes widened when he saw it was the lifeless, not to mention headless, body of a weasel that had just flown over his head.
He turned around to find himself standing in the shadow of a massive badgerlord, at least twice his height. He wore gold colored armor, carried a sword like a metal tree cut in half lengthwise, and his eyes were blood red. Jen could feel the lust for battle coming off him and decided, friend or foe, it would be best to leave this particular beast, alone.
Dashing painfully to the side, Jen circled the badger, giving him a wide berth, to find a swath of dead beasts. Some sliced to bits by the massive sword, some shot down with single arrows, a few riddled with crossbow bolts, an inderterminate number even had their hamstrings sliced and were still trying to crawl away.
In front of him stood three of the beasts Jen had seen earlier, the fourth being the badger. They were an odd looking group; two mice, both oddly dressed and armed, a grim looking squirrel maid with a longbow, and of course the crazed badger.
Not about to be rude, even to such a strange assortment of beasts, and seeing that most of the vermin had either been defeated or fled, Jen tried to step forward to introduce himself. Unfortunately, he was weaker than he'd thought and his leg gave way beneath him on the first step, forcing himself to use his sword as a fast crutch.
"Oi, are you all right mate? You don't look so good," Loki exclaimed as grabbed Jen by the arm to help support him, "I think you better sit down for a bit. Aislin, do yah think you can calm down old Bronze?"
Aislin nodded and approached Bronzestripe slowly. "They're all gone Bronzestripe," she said softly as she placed a paw on his arm, "save your strength." Bronzestripe started to breathe more slowly and his eyes faded to their normal color, albeit still with a tinge of pink around their edges.
"Greetings stranger, I can see by your style of dress that you are not from around here," Galvin said to Jen as he shouldered his weapon, "I am Galvin Greenfield and we are the Avengers."
With no warning whatsoever, a sharply dressed military hare popped out of a nearby bush. He was an aging beast, but he kept his moustache and uniform in top condition. "I'm sorry to be a botherin' yeah lads and lassies," the hare said in a sharp Highland accent, "but Bloodbane's lot is on the move! We aught to be leavin' this area before they spring anotha trap on us!"
"An' this 'ere is Sir Colonel Lord Regent Alrick Buffington The Third, for short o' course," Loki said with a grin, "and I'm afraid 'es right. We should be moving."