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Uncharted Forest

"Look!" Norman cried out in surprise as they exited the edge of the forest after days of travel in the forest and came up next to the sheer cliff walls of Sawtooth Mountain. He pointed at a structure seemingly formed from the mountain itself, a fort right at the face of the mountainside. Lights lit up the side of the mountain and appeared to cast away the night from the fort.

Sergeant Eunos grinned, his white teeth a sharp contrast to the grey-black face paint, "Welcome to Fort Aegis!" He gestured to the stunned caravaners as the wagons rolled out one by one to full view of the stone fort.

Norman's eyes widen as they approached the dark gaping hole that was the gate into the fort. He noticed the surface of the walls were smooth and seamless, without any traces of seams or joints. His wagons stopped at the entrance and where several similarly dressed warriors without the facepaint and leaves and twigs stood guard. The stone grey walls had several long slit holes on their surfaces, spread evening among the wall and what looked like thin coils of wires covering the gateway.

The barbarian warrior next to him leaped off the wagon and navigated through the strange looking coils and approached the guards, doing some kind of hand gestures to the head before the one named Eunos walked back and waved them in and he suddenly blew a loud whistle which made no sense to Norman till his chief guard nudged him and pointed to the rear of the caravans.

He turned and looked, and was surprised again as scores of barbarian warriors emerged from the edge of the forest and into the lights cast by the fort, their strange outfits making them difficult to spot among the forest foliage. "We were guarded by so many barbarians?"

His guard shrugged, "I am not too sure, but I will expect so if they can fight and kill a bronze boa."

Norman was glad that he did not order his men to attack Eunos and his men if not his life will have been forfeited long ago by the barbarians surrounding them! He waved for the wagons to start moving forward, wanting to quickly unload the supplies and leave this place.

As they entered the gate, Norman was amazed by the strange strips of glowing light that lit the internal of the fort brightly. He noticed that the walls to the floor were a perfect even flat surface, no rough edges and he wondered how powerful the magic is needed to create such a perfect construct inside a mountain.

The guards led them to a huge cavern which was also brightly lit by the strips of strange magical lights and were told to unload within the yellow and white lines painted on the floor. Several strange looking people wearing uniformed grey clothes came up to the caravan as they stopped and asked, "Hey Sarge, who's the one in charge of this outfit?"

The barbarian escort jerked his thumb towards Norman who quickly went down his wagon to welcome the newcomers. "Greeting, I am the Trader Norman Stone, I represent North Star Trading."

"Sure, I am the Quartermaster here," the one that called out to their escort replied. He was shorter than the people around him and had jet black hair with slightly slanted eyes. "You can call me Chen." Norman suddenly stopped in his tracks as he noticed that the newcomers' ears were round and not long tipped!

The rumors and gossips he heard from others suddenly came into his mind, these must be the demons that the rebels had sold their soul to! His face turned ashen and he stood several steps away not daring to make a move as he stared at the hand offered out by the short one called 'Chen'.

QM Chen had held out his hand and felt awkward as the merchant looked frozen in his steps, his face looked pale and his lips were trembling. "Are you alright?"

"Ahh.. ahhh..." Norman trembled as he saw the short demon coming closer and jumped when someone tapped his back. "AHH!"

"Boss? Are you feeling well?" His guard looked at him with a strange look and Norman noticed him giving a subtle shake of his head.

"I... I am fine," Norman forced his emotions into control and gave a forced smile at the short demon. "Must be the weather, hot, cold, hot, cold..."

"Yea, I get that too, well, take a break if you need to," QM Chen gave a shrug, "We just need a few of your guys to do the stock taking, then we will be out of your hair."

Norman nodded hurriedly and made some agreeable noise from his throat and quickly disappeared to the rear of the wagons with his guard. "Demons!" He hissed in a low voice, "We are in a den of demons! Did you see their ears?"

His guard nodded, "But we have to pretend nothing is wrong, if not we only live to see the sun!"

Norman nodded worriedly, "Inform the men, tell them to act like nothing is wrong, and work quickly!" He ordered his guard, who nodded and left to tell the rest.

"Gods! Please keep us safe!"

-----

Falledge, a street away from the Prancing Pony Inn

Tyrier ran up next to Hitsu and slapped his shoulder, giving him a signal that he is next to him. Hitsu dropped down on one knee and swapped out his empty magazine while Tyrier advanced up firing his M2 with single shots steadily at the flickering blue white magic shield covering the Hero.

As Tyrier reached the girl, he took a knee and with his left hand he checked the pulse of the girl with keeping his steady fire at the Hero. "She still has a pulse!" He yelled at Hitsu who formed up next to Tyrier and the downed girl.

"Fark!" Hitsu saw the burnt and smoking wound on the back of Billy, her clothes burnt away and the white of bones could be seen glistening with blacken blood. "She looks bad! Young! I need you here now!"

"Got it!" Young replied on the squad channel, "ETA... Five mikes!"

"Reloading!" Tyrier yelled and Hitsu took over the cover fire, spamming shots at the Hero, preventing him from doing any action.

"Oh shit," Hitsu saw that the Hero started glowing, "He's gathering divine power! We need to get out of here now!"

"Go! I got the girl!" Tyrier yelled as he left his M2 on his sling and grabbed the unconscious girl up in a fireman carry. "Go, go, go!"

A sudden flare of bright light lit up the entire street like day, and the Hero in the middle of the eye scorching brightness and dashed forward, his right arm drew back in a punch.

"DOWN!" Hitsu yelled and threw himself out of the way of the Hero, while Tyrier dropped flat on the street, cradling and protecting the girl as much as he could when he felt the air on his back super heated up and a flash of light smashed into the gossiping crowd.

Wails and screams erupted from the crowd as bodies burst and burn, skin turning crisp and smoking as a concentrated beam of sun ray torched the watching crowd. Tyrier concentrated all his mana into his magical barrier, as the edges of the beam superheated the surrounding air and baked the steel plate in the leather armor on his back.

Hitsu after rolling away, scrambled up to a firing position and fired at the Hero, and cursed when he saw his bullets melting as they impacted the Hero's Sun Aura, leaving glowing red liquid dripping down. "Fark!"

The Hero looking like some superhero in the 2D picture movies Hitsu had watched back in base, was bathed in a white glow covering his whole body. The Hero turned and looked directly at Hitsu who was firing still at the Hero and closed the distance, swinging his arm, trying to punch Hitsu.

"Shit!" Hitsu kicked away from where he was crouching and rolled away, as the wall where he was at nearly exploded into smoke and pieces when the Hero's punch had landed. "These are the times, I hate magic!"

Tyrier pushed himself up and lifted the girl, "Distract him and I get the girl to safety!"

"Wh-what?" Hitsu yelled as he heard Tyrier's command in the comms, "Seriously? No help?"

"Loke!" Tyrier snapped as he took the opportunity to run away from the Hero who was busy trying to beat Hitsu up into a pulp.

"Wait one!" Loke's voice came back, "That crazy son of a bitch blew the building I was in up!" He climbed out from the rubbles covered in brick and stone dust from the second floor. "Goddamn it! I hate fighting magic users!"

"Ain't you one yourself?" Doth teased as he and Young appeared around the corner of the street, ignoring the overcooked bodies and the smell of roast meat. "Engaging!"

Sparks and molten lead dotted the Hero's body as rounds fired by Doth and Young slammed into him at the side. The Hero jerked in surprise despite the divine power protecting him, kinetic energy was still transferred into his body, knocking him around.

Hitsu took the opportunity to drop his emptied M2 on his sling and quick drew his Glock and emptied the whole 30 round magazine into the center of mass of the Hero, causing the Hero to cry out in pain and shock as he raised his hands to block the bullets slamming into him and toppled into the ruins of the wall.

"Now run!" Doth yelled and Hitsu turned without even bothering to check if the Hero was dead or not and just took off on his heels.

"Link up at the Merchant district!" Tyrier voice came in, "We are getting out of here now!"

----

Dante coughed and spat out blood as he laid in the ruins of the brick wall, his divine powers gently ebbed away, and the glow from his body died down. He pushed himself wobbly up and spat another glob of blood out of his mouth and rubbed his swollen arms and chest where the strange spells had hit him.

He bent down with a wince and picked up a piece of deformed lead, and crushed it in his hands. "Now this is something new," His cold and hard glaze disappearing and replaced by a boyish and charming smile. "I haven't bled in over fifty years!"

He stepped out of the ruins and ignored the cries of pain raising from the wounded and walked back to the New Dragon Gate Inn. Those that hurt him will soon face his wrath, and the Huntress will be able to track those that ran away tonight.

-----

Falledge, Merchant District Entrance

"Let's me see!" Young bent over the wounded girl and placed his hand over the wound, "Minor Heal!" He cast a healing spell to stabilize her condition and started cleaning and applying some medicine over the wound. "She's stable now but it doesn't look so good, we need to get her to a healing house or a proper hospital!"

"Shit," Hitsu cursed, "What now?"

"We find my friend," Tyrier said, "Then we get out tonight!"

"How about her?" Hitsu asked, gesturing the girl under Young's treatment.

"We bring her along," Tyrier hesitated before saying. "The Hero is willing to show his face to kill, she must know something that is able to make that guy go on a killing spree!"

"Damn," Young cursed, "I prep her for transport."

"Alright, you four stay here and keep watch for that maniac," Tyrier gestured Altied, Doth, Tavel and Young to stay. "I will go with Hitsu and Loke to talk to my friend first and get some supplies, then we move out."

"Got it!" The men nodded and spread out to take up positions to keep the surrounding area under watch.

"Let's go find Otoro and get the hell outta this place!"

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