Surrounded and outnumbered fifteen to one, the odds did not look good for Buffel the mouse. He had been peacefully traveling when he was suddenly ambushed by a group of vermin, all of them armed. Desperate to escape with his life, he tried to make a break for a gap in the ring the foebeasts had formed around him. However, he had only made it a few paces before one of the vermin stuck out her foot-paw and neatly tripped him. The pine marten drew her blade and pointed it at Buffel, keeping him down. "Sorry mate, it's nothing personal," she said with a smile, "just our line of work!"

The others, apparently followers looked to the marten for direction. "Hey Slinky," she said to a rather thin weasel, "search him for anything of value."

"It's Slickpaw," the weasel muttered, approaching the fallen mouse.

"I don't care, just search him," snapped the marten. The weasel obediently searched Buffel, only coming up with a few coins.

"Eh, this is all 'es got boss," Slickpaw grumbled, holding out the coins to his leader.

"Give them to Groddle, he'll watch them," the pine marten said, indicating the ferret who was standing next to her with a smile.

"Yes Lysistra," the ferret said to his leader, "hand them over, Slinky." Groddle took the few coins from Slickpaw and slipped them into his pouch. Slickpaw muttered under his breath, but went back to his place without conflict. It was then that a big dogfox spoke up.

"I think we should kill th' mouse," the fox said, hefting a large axe, "he'll jus' go squeal if we let 'im go."

"No Krix, let him be," Lysistra said, "he's been cooperative, there's no need to hurt him." She stayed the much larger fox with her free paw. Sheathing her blade, Lysistra let Buffel get up and walk away. But as the mouse tried to exit the circle, Slickpaw stood in his way.

"I think Krix is right," Slickpaw said, feeling the need to be contrary, "we should jus' kill 'im an' be done!'

"Shut up Slickpaw," Groddle snapped, stepping towards the smaller weasel threateningly, "you heard Lysistra, jus' leave him be." Slickpaw, not wanting to get in a fight with the larger ferret, let Buffel run away.

"Come on, let's go," Lysistra said, leading her gang away from the path where the ambush had occurred and back into the brush.

"Hellfires, I hate Groddle," Slickpaw muttered to himself, "just because the boss has takin' a liking to 'im he's gotten all full of 'imself."

((OOC: Feel free to join with any character and in any way you want. This thread is mostly to introduce Lysistra.))

The vixen Zarusha Jett was in one of her fouler moods, trekking through Mossflower's expanses with a pair of her trusted Jettfoxes.  They were young, not very bright, but dutiful enough.  The older vixen looked back at them, struggling to make it over a fallen elm crossing the small footpath.  One overbalanced and toppled over, raising a small dustcloud from the pathside as he thumped on his back.

"Get up!" she hissed back at them, her ocher and brown-striped cloak fluttering about her as she turned sharply.  "We are supposed to be hunting and seeking healing herbs, not stirring up all the soil in the forest.  Keep it quiet now. You never can tell who or what might be out here in these woods…"

She carried on, her ears twitching at the sounds of the young dogfoxes fighting their way upright and hastening to catch up to her stiff and adroit stride.  Yes, it was true that the High Chieftan, a massive fox with pure silver fur named Pelater, had sent them on a routine mission of restocking victuals and healing supplies.  Zarusha, however, had one or two side-quests in mind.  It had been a long while since she'd seen this part of Mossflower.  The vixen took a deep refreshing breath of the good air as she stooped to collect some fresh wintergreen and stow it away in her satchel.

A sound made her go into a sudden crouch.  Peering around with her ears twitching wildly, she narrowed her eyes and slipped her plumbata, what somebeasts called a "dartslinger", out of her beltloop.  Out of a pouch on the other side of her belt came the ammunition, a stout little dart with a flint tip, flighted with stiff oak leaf fragments.  The two Jettfoxes came blundering up.

"Did I not just tell you lot to shut up?" she snapped at them.  The two took a step back in fear, "Get down and ready those bows.  Somebeast's coming up this way."

The figures of several unsavory types entered the vixen's line of sight.  She scrutinized them very closely.  Weasels, ferrets, some rats she could also tell.  By the way they were arguing and grumbling amongst themselves, Zarusha determined that they were robbers, vagabonds fleeing from some crime or other.

"Stand up," she ordered her two minions, "I said stand.  Stand up so they can see that we are armed." As she said this, she stood herself, her paw resting on the hilt of a straight-edged sword at her waist.  Her plumbata hung loaded in her other paw, ready for action if need be.  "And for the love of Vulpuz, don't say anything stupid, you hear?"

Her two underlings nodded silently and selected arrows, nocking them to their bowstrings but not pulling back just yet.  You never could tell.

Ignis Rwercia crouched low underneath some cover near the clearing. Having spotted a suitable target out of the group, a large fox just outside of the main mob. He loaded his repeater crossbow and silently aimed it at the fox, then loosed two shafts. Breaking cover, the Red Fox jumped out onto the path, but without realizing it, into the path of the second group.

Most of the vermin blundered on past the foxes, oblivious to their presence. But, Lysistra was more keen than her companions. "Halt you idiots!" she explained, raising her paw to halt the group, "can't you see those foxes?" The line of vermin behind her stopped, peering about for said creatures. A few of the smarter ones, like Krix, noticed Zarusha and her companions quickly.

A few of the vermin, more nervous than the others, drew their own weapons. Lysistra kept her sword sheathed and faced Zarusha confidently. She was smart enough to see that all three foxes possessed ranged weapons, and would be able to get off at least one volley before combat joined, and she didn't want to risk her life. So, rather than let the vermin run free and attack, the pine marten decided to use the safer option of just talking about the situation. Besides, there could be more foxes hidden in the brush. "Greetings, fox! What do you seek?" Lysistra called out in a cheerful but confident tone. She addressed Zarusha, who was clearly the leader.

It was just then that Ignis fired two bolts at Krix, the large fox in Lysistra's gang. One struck him in the arm, and the other in the chest. He collapsed to his knees with a grunt, the axe falling from his paws. The large weapon hit the ground with an audible thud. "Hey! They shot Krix!" Slickpaw yelled, "stupid foxes, let's tear 'im apart!"

Lysistra inwardly panicked for a moment, seeing that there was a fourth fox, and he had just taken out the main muscle of her group. "Wait, cease fire!" she called out to Zarusha, who she believed to command Ignis, "we mean you no offence, at least tell us what quarrel you have with us!"

Zarusha had been about to reply to the pine marten when the whistle of crossbow bolts cut through the air and thudded harshly into the one they called Krix.  Her head snapped around at the sight of movement to the very far side of her field of vision, and upon turning she saw another fox, a tall russet-furred one with a crossbow in paw.

The elder Jettfox's two guards jumped at the sight of the sudden death, and gaping open-mouthed at the new arrival, waited for the older vixen to tell them what to do.  Zarusha looked back to the marten; a cunning one she looked.  Cunning and also reasonable, for the leader of a mob of thieving vermin.  She thrust out a paw bedecked in silver rings to stop one of her dogfoxes from raising his bow.

"I have no quarrel with you just yet, marten.  That fox," she pointed a claw at the crossbow weilder, "is not one of my party." She glared through her even green eyes at those vermin who had drawn swords, knives, axes, staring down her nose just a bit, "I should not think your band is ready for a fight with the Jettfox tribe."

Her eyes flicked to Ignis.  She sensed some danger in that one by the look he was giving both her and the marten female's band.  The silver-clad paw went in his direction.

"And you," she narrowed her eyes, "Who are you and what is your purpose here? I do not recognize you from any of the Jettfox clans."

Ignis barred his teeth, glaring at Zarusha "I am not. My name is Ignis Rwercia, I have no quarrel with you vixen." He pointed a finger at the vermin band to his left "I have been on your trail for a week now Marten, tracking the destruction your band has made across this section of woodland. You will pay in full for the innocents you've killed on your spree." He raised his crossbow again, training it at another of the vermin mob.

"Trail of destruction? You should check your vision, fox," Lysistra growled at Ignis, "we're thieves, not murderers. Unlike you, it seems!" The marten drew her blade, as did any vermin who hadn't already. The ferret Groddle was particularly eager to attack and win his mistress's favor.

"Let me take care of 'im, miss," he said, brandishing a cutless.

"Oh, so yah can get all the glory? Fat chance, rock'ead!" Slickpaw sneered, pushing his way to the front, "Krix was me mate, an' I'm gonna skin 'at fox alive for it!" The weasel drew a pair of jagged skinning knives and licked one of them, a crazed look in his eyes.

"Stop you idiots," Lysistra commanded. She looked Zarusha again, looking to clarify her position. "I can't say I've heard of the Jettfox tribe, but I have no reason to want to fight you," the marten said, "as I said, we're just thieves, we aren't looking for a fight!"

"But, as for you," she continued, turning back to Ignis, "if you have something against me, take it up with me! Put down you crossbow and fight me face-to-face." She settled into a dueling position, holder her sword with expertise. The other vermin, seeing that their leader wanted to fight individuality, backed off.

Looking on with a forces blank expression, Zarusha Jett watched as the two duelers began to close on each other.  She eyed the idle band of thieves, knowing their dangerous presence without the martenmaiden to check their bloodthirsty tendencies.

"Do as I say," she whispered to the young fox on her left, not turning or stirring more than a whisker, "Slip away down the dry creekbed just behind us and get to the camp of the Western clan.  Ask for Dunnclaw and Fleetfang, and bring along any good archers or dartslingers you can find available." She narrowed her eyes at the russet fox, who looked about to unleash more deadly bolts upon his enemies. "Be quick about it, but tell them to come in silence. They don't know our number yet.  But they'll soon know." She glared, gripping her plumbata tighter, "Soon, the blackguards.  Look at them.  Vile."

Zarusha bet a solid wager in her head that at least one of the vermin thieves would have knowledge of the otters and shrews in the area, considering they had just robbed anybeast they could in this stretch of woods.  One productive interrogation session may be all it would take to win the upper claw, and her tribe's homelands, back where it belonged.

Ignis dropped his Crossbow, the weapon hitting the ground with a distinctive thud. "If it was not you who caused the destruction I was tracking, no, it was you." Ignis second-guessed himself as he spoke out loud "Yes, the trail of destruction. The beasts I've seen lying dead on the road with nothing on them, blood pooled around their corpses, houses ransacked and burned. The trail led me here marten. If you say it wasn't your mob, then you're lying!" Ignis drew his longsword from across his back, the blade shimmering in the sun.

"I've told you once, fox, I'm a thief, not a murderer," Lysistra said, her patience drawing thin, "I don't know who's trail you are following, but it isn't mine!" She slowly started to circle Ignis, moving more towards Zarusha and her followers. Her blade was held at the ready, looking for a opening.

Slickpaw watched Zarusha and the young foxes warily. "I don't trust 'em," he muttered, "I'm pretty sure they're workin' with that crazy fox!" He clutched his knives tighter and looked about ready to charge at the foxes himself.

"Don't be daft, they ain't important!" Groddle said, spitting on the ground in their general direction, "it's Lysistra's fight that's important. I can't let 'er lose!"

"So, yah think you're gonna be a hero an' save 'er or somthin'?" Slickpaw snickered, "it's a duel!"

"Shaddup Slinky!" Groddle growled, "you jus' a stupid little grunt, stay out of my way!" The larger ferret moved towards Slickpaw menacingly, forcing the the weasel to retreat. Both of the them kept their distance from the duel, for now.

"I am not a murder, fox. I only kill when I need to," Lysistra told her opponent, "like now!" She suddenly lunged at Ignis, thrusting her blade at a gap in his leg armor. She knew that her heavily armored opponent would be difficult to best in duel, but she hoped her speed and flexibility would give her a maneuverability advantage.

Ignis sidestepped the thrust, but cringed as the blade cut into his skin below his knee. Turning on point, he swung his longsword directly at the Marten's blade, hoping to disarm his opponent. At the same time he eyed his crossbow, sitting two yards to his right. Turning from the fight, and sprinting as fast as his armor would allow, he slid and grabbed the crossbow and while turning, loosed another two shafts back into the mob, depleting his ammo reserves to two shafts left in his clip. Pain slowed his movements as blood started to flow from the cut on his leg. Wielding the crossbow in one hand and the longsword in the other, and facing Lysistra once more, his blade down, he charged.

The young fox chose a moment when all eyes were concentrated on the exchange of blows between fox and marten, then with a sharp pat on the shoulder by his leader he slipped away, crouched with his bow lowered to avoid being spotted and disappearing into the understory.

Zarusha herself watched the battle commence.  The pine marten was indeed skilled, an instinctual fighter but not a reckless one.  The vixen could tell it had hardly required any effort of her to find the fox's weakness.  The fox was different, but also skilled.  She could tell his fighting reflexes had been honed and forced into him.  Both had the mark of a warrior, just a different set of marks.  The Jettfox elder pondered who would be more difficult to overtake; would it be independent rover, or canny thinker backed by a horde of thugs?

She spotted a few of the vermin looking as if they were going to come over to her, but stiffened her lip and ignored it.  She made the illusion of putting her dartsling away, tucking it so that a swift yank would be all that would be needed to bring it out again, and rested her paw on her hip, still pinching the long cords.

The two bolts flew into the scattered vermin, one striking a rat the right shoulder and disabling his weapon arm. The other hummed towards Slickpaw's head, but he managed to slip to the side just in time. "Eh, it isn't a duel anymore!" the weasel said, "he's shootin' at us!"

"Let's get 'im!" Groddle yelled, "I'll take care of 'im, Lysistra!" The burly ferret raised his blade and charged at Ignis, letting out an bloodthirsty yell. Invigorated and encouraged by Groddle's leadership, all the vermin left in fighting condition charged after him, wielding an assortment of weapons. Slickpaw stuck behind a few beasts, in order to screen himself. Lysistra gave them a quick glare, but she couldn't take her attention away from the fight for long.

Lysistra faced Ignis, her blade at the ready. As he charged, she took the initiative and and lunged with her sword at the fox's face. She then followed up with two stabs towards the body, trying to force Ignis back while advancing, not necessarily to draw blood.

Ignis dodged the thrust to the face, but felt Lysistra's sword hit his heavy chest armor. Ignis glanced behind the marten and saw the mob approaching him in a frenzied run. Ignis felt the urge to run, but remembering the vermin behind him as well, he stood his ground. Wielding his crossbow, with the long sword ready. He swung three consecutive times at Lysistria, one at the neck and another two at the chest. He stabbed twice at the marten, but suddenly, dropped his sword.

Zarusha watched the scene, her eyes cast over with disapproval until she heard the panting of her subordinate coming up behind her.

"Elder, they're comin'…" he informed her.  She twitched her whiskers and turned back to the sight, the vermin gang all rushing the battle, dashing all semblance of a warrior's duel.

"Get them into position, quickly." The vixen rasped, beginning to twirl her plumbata again, "And quietly.  A semi-circle of archers over there, beyond yon hill, and the dartslingers over here with me. Off with you now!"  The young dogfox hastened to obey.  Zarusha's paw stroked the pommel of her simple, but reliable, sword at her side.  It had been a few long moons since she'd needed to use it seriously.  Her eyes blazed as they looked on the chaotic forces, moments from clashing together.  But she had to wait; her beasts could not possibly be in position yet.

Dropping his sword was only a part of the plan that Ignis had formed. Drawing his duel dirks, he charged passed Lysistra, putting some distance away from her into the less skiled mob. Dodging a fierce stab at the head, he impaled a vermin with one of his dirks and slit his throat with another. a pair of blows hit him on his chest plate, quickly glancing around he spotted another foebeast coming up from behind. Chucking the dead vermin onto the ground, he charged again, with a trio of vermin closing tightly behind him. Using their comrade as a shield, he thrust his dirks into the vermin's back. The vermin screamed as Ignis twisted the diamond-coated blades into his spine, then went limp. The three vermin who were closing in on him made no movement to save their comrade, so when Ignis kicked the dead vermin off the three were right in front of him. Using his armor to his advantage, he advanced on one vermin, slit his throat open with one of his Dirks, stabbed another in the neck, and the third in the head, his blade penetrating into his skull. Ignis turned back on Lysistria, a wild, crazed look in his eyes, a tick developing in his right, his left bloodshot. His armor and dirks covered in the blood of her mob, he started to menacingly advance on her.

((OCC: I feel that my turn was skipped. >.>))

For a moment Lysistra was shaken and horrified. Her gang was a group of robbers and simple thugs, not trained killers. They stood no chance against this bloodthirsty murderer. The moment years ago, when her friends had been slain be Alastor Eriel, seemed to replay before her in bloody detail. He glanced nervously at the silver ring on her paw, her reminder of that day, while taking a few shaky steps back from the heartless fox.

Taking a deep breath, the maid regained her composure. Lysistra held her blade ready for Ignis to attack, glancing to see which vermin were still there. Most of them had backed off to a safe distance, except Groddle, who was split between helping Lysistra and saving his own life. In was then that the Krix, who had still been on his knees since he was shot, stirred. The huge fox slowly rose to his feet, looking very angry. He pulled the bolt from his chest, ignoring the splash of crimson that burst from the wound. He reached down and picked up his heavy battle-axe looking for the besst that shot him. Glaring at Ignis, he growled, "I'm goin' to make y' pay for hurtin' me, little fox!"

Seeing Krix on his feet again encouraged both Lyristra and Groddle. The pine marten faced Ignis confidently, taking a sudden step forward and lunging at a gap in the armor on the fox's right arm. She hoped to use her speed and the longer reach of her blade to keep the crazed beast at bay. Meanwhile, Krix and Groddle came at the murderer from behind. Groddle charged rather recklessly, his cutlass held high. But, Krix advanced slowly and steadily, his fangs bared in savage rage.

Zarusha held a paw over her eyes partway at witnessing the slaughter.  One by one, five vermin fell limply to the ground. The others had backed away in terror, all except one of the ferrets.

As Ignis turned on the pine marten yet again Zarusha's eyes were drawn to Krix, the large fox.  Teh Jettfox elder had assumed the large one had died; a crossbow bolt to the chest was likely to kill even a badger.  But Krix was not dead.  He, the ferret, and Lysistra, had banded together, all zoning in on their attacker.

"Stop!" Zarusha's voice was like hammer striking anvil. She raised the paw holding plumbata and swung it hard and fast.  It made a piercing whistle of a noise.

Instantly a circle of Jettfox warriors, armed with blades, bows and dartslings like Zarusha's stood from behind their places of concealment.  Their bowstrings were taunt and loaded with black-flighted arrows tipped with obsedian, and their plumbatas were twirling swiftly in preparation to unload.  The few who carried no missile weapon brandished long blades like the Elder's or twin sets of daggers.  Their faces were painted black for battle as was their tribe's custom.

"The first one to kill another beast shall be more hole than flesh!" Zarusha let a confidant smirk cross her grayed features, "Drop your weapons, or face the consequences!"

(OOC) Two Neutral to good characters and one that's Bloodthirsty and Psychopathic. This is starting to get fun…

BIC

Ignis saw the thrust coming from Lysistra and swung one of his dirks down onto the blade. The point sheared off like wood, falling uselessly to the ground. A cutlass slashed across his back, and he turned and savagely stabbed at Groddel, then, at the ambush by the Jettfoxes, stopped. He turned in the direction of the newcomers, highly organized and armed to the teeth with various weapons. He glowered at the newcomers, reason returning to his mind at the same time, and not wanting to die, he dropped his twin dirks on the ground.

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