Three pieces of talisman burst into pale blue flames as they left Kaga's hand, and three white paper eagles dart out, each arrowing towards an owlbear. The paper eagles sharp edges drew paper-thin cuts on the faces and arms of the owlbears as they tried to block and swipe the flying inanimate eagles buzzing around them.

The slaves gave a tired cheer as they say the Owlbears were distracted by the paper eagles and quickly regroup and recover their strength. "Now! Let's go!" Young yelled as he saw the owlbears ignoring them.

Both Young and Altied dash past the owlbears, to the puzzlement of the slaves as they headed towards a small mound of stones near the river. Altied sprinted and slid to a halt on his knees directly next to the stones and quickly swept them away, his gloved hands started to dig at the loose soil together with Young.

One of the owlbears growled and with a lucky swipe, it managed to tear one of the paper eagles to shreds and its eyes glowing red with anger, landed on all fours and charged at the nearest creatures, which were the two Claymore One members.

"Oh shit! Here it comes!" Altied yelled in panic as he frantically, shoved a large handful of dirt away, "Which mother farker buried the cache so deep!"

Suddenly another paper eagle slashed across the path of the owlbear, its razor-sharp wings giving a paper cut at the left eye of the owlbear, slicing its pupils open and a clear fluid mixed with blood burst out. The owlbear screamed in pain and anger, blinded in one eye, it trashed madly, churning up the ground around it as it hammered and slashed its powerful claws wildly in pain.

"God bless that cat girl!" Young barely paused in his actions of shoving dirt, as he looked at the crazed owlbear just meters away, his stomach feeling like it had dropped somewhere as fear threatened to overwhelm him.

Just as this time, Altied's hand slammed on to something hard in the soil and he quickly swept the soil and dirt away, revealing an olive green wooden surface. "Got it! Quick, here!"

Digging up the edges of the crate, both of them tugged the long crate out and quickly opened it, revealing a couple of still factory fresh and greasy M1 Magelocks and cardboard boxes of ammunition covered in grease paper.

Ripping away the grease paper covering, the hooman's wording '6.5 x 75 mm - 50 Cartridges' could be seen printed on the side of the boxes of ammunition. They quickly tore the packaging away, and a started shoving the loose 6.5 mm rounds into the new rifles from the crates.

The owlbears had destroyed all the paper eagles by this time, and Kaga had run out of endurance, barely able to channel more of her spirit power into the talismans she was trying to draw. The slaves barely had recovered back a bit of breath, now faced two greatly pissed off owlbears covered in paper cuts.

The last half blinded owlbear's remaining eye gleamed with rage as it eyed the two two-legs and roared, ignoring the paper eagle as it decided to vent all its pent-up rage at the nearest thing it could kill. It roared again and its claws digging furrows into the soil as it bounced towards them.

"Here it comes!" Altied yelled, his fingers shaking slightly as he pressed down another 6.5 mm cartridge into the open chamber of the M1 Magelock. "Ahhh!"

"You shoot! I load!" Young yelled back, as he looked up at the looming owlbear charging at them at a pace that ate up the very short distance between them. The owlbear's wide beak opened up in a permanent growl as it ran on all fours, planning to use its beak to rend them to pieces.

Altied swiftly raised his half reloaded rifle and slammed the bolt forward in one deft move, and fired. The thunderous bark of the rifle and a dense dirty cloud of gunsmoke erupted out from the muzzle of the Magelock, the rifle butt slammed painfully into his already bruised shoulder felt comforting to him. He deftly worked the bolt, and fired again, not waiting for the gunsmoke to clear, as the huge shadowy figure loomed up in front of him, barely needing him to aim.

"Ahhhh!" Young scrambled out of the way of the crashing owlbear, spilling loose cartridges all over the ground, as the owlbear's limbs suddenly lost all strength and tumbled forward, its momentum carrying it forward directly at where Young was a moment ago. "That thing nearly crushed me to death!"

Young gave a cursed and yelled at Altied, "Here catch!" He tossed the fully loaded rifle over to Altied who caught it one-handed and tossed back the other rifle which Young grabbed and started to reload using the spilled ammo on the ground.

Altied went on a half crouch and started firing at the other owlbears, "Its bear season now!"


Uncharted Forest, Rendevous Point Red

Lt Joesph stepped out from the darkening forest and the first thing that greeted him was a small bonfire where a large group of ragged looking slaves has gathered around and roasting meat. He shook his head and turned to look at the advance party, who gave a helpless shrug, "We found them just like that too, Sir!"

"Well, whatever," Lt Joesph sighed, "Signal the rest to join us, and do a roll call."

"Yes, Sir!" The advance party replied and headed back into the forest.

"Sir?" Lt Joesph turned and saw two banged up looking individuals wearing leather armor with a tactical vest over it. "Specialist Young and Altied reporting, Sir!"

"What's this? A picnic?" Lt Joesph raised an eyebrow at the two soldiers.

"No, Sir!" Young reported, "We were attacked by owlbears, Sir! And the people had nothing to eat since yesterday, and the meat will just spoil if we just left it there..."

"At ease, soldier," Lt Joesph suddenly gave a grin. "I was joking, but is the area secured?"

"We did the best we could to mask the area with non-detection magic," Altied said, "But it might not work with the Hero since they found us the last time."

"We have few of the slaves walking the perimeter," Young added.

"Pfft," Lt Joesph snorted, "My Marines sneaked past them, and they didn't notice us till they announced their arrival."

Both Young and Altied just shrugged, "It's the best we could do with what we have, sir."

"For that, good work," Lt Joesph admitted, "Alright the rest of the men, and your guys will be joining us soon. Any more meat left?"


Kaga sat with her back against a tree holding a steaming piece of meat and watched the strange and similarly clothed men with paint over their faces, wondering where did these group of barbarians come from. The mercenaries that protected them were acting very friendly to these barbarians and even seemed to defer to one of them, wearing a sort of dark blue hat, that looked like a flatten slime on his head.

She also saw the leader of the mercenaries being carried in, his face pale and breathing laboriously. She wondered if he will be able to survive the travel through the forest. What had happened when they stayed behind to fight the Hero and the pursuing soldiers, she wondered.

Kaga bit into the cooled meat and oil and juices dripped out, filling her mouth with a strong gamey taste. She quickly swallowed the meat, not knowing when will they have another chance to eat.

"Hello," Kaga startled as suddenly someone spoke to her. She looked up from her half-eaten meat and saw the leader of the barbarians standing in front of her. She quickly got up and was able to give a greeting bow, and was stopped by the barbarian. "Relax, continuing eating, I just want to ask some questions."

Kaga nodded timidly, taking the opportunity to observe the barbarian in front of her. She noticed that his clothes appeared to be finely made, the color and patterns that seemed to turn them invisible to the eye in the forest, upon seeing the material closer, she realized that they just made out of perfect little boxes and long boxes!

Even the strange belt, with its many pouches, the material and workmanship was amazing, and suddenly the realization hit her, she saw the same gear worn by the mercenaries! And also, almost all the barbarians were equipped with the same items! Who in the spirit world was so rich to be able to make perfectly similar equipment of such scale and quality?

The barbarian gave a pearly white smile, giving a sharp contrast to his dark painted face, making him look like some sort of living plant with a smile, sending shivers down Kaga's spine.

"First of all, I want to thank you for helping them with your powers," Lt Joesph jerked a thumb towards the Claymore One members sleeping at one of the campfires. "My name is Joesph Tokin, I am a Lieutenant, in charge of this merry band of misfits."

Kaga nodded, "I was just doing what must be done at that time only..." She nibbled her meat nervously, her ears flattened on her head.

"Haha, don't be so nervous," Joesph said as he sat down before the girl, removing his beret and took out his water bottle and started to wash his face paint off.

Kaga gave a poke at the slime hat, wondering who would wear something like that but found the texture of the hat was actually some kind of cloth. She quickly tucked her hands away when Joesph wiped his face clean with a cloth. She then realized that Joesph was actually older than she assumed at first, as a weather hardened face soon appeared behind the cleaned war paint.

"Now, where was I," Lt Joesph kept the towel and water bottle away, "Ahh, yes, your powers."

"If I am correct, you should be a priestess of the Beast Clan, yes?" Joseph asked.

Kaga nodded again, wondering what he wanted to know.

"Well, it's very rare to find a priestess of the Beast Clan," Joseph continued, "May I know your name?"

"Kaga..." She replied after some consideration, "Tosa..."

"Ms. Kaga, if you don't mind, can you share how you came to be... a slave?" Joseph asked. "I know that priestess in the Beast Clans are considered leaders and elders and are quite respected in their communities."

Kaga nodded, she uses her powers had already attracted a few of the beast kin slaves who had earlier came and paid their respects to her already, treating her like royalty. "The capital had fell..."

"What?" Joseph looked shocked, "You mean the Beast City had fallen to the Empire? When and how? I remembered that the Beast City has a guardian that is able to raise a city protection spell!"

"Ahh..." Kaga looked down, guilty feelings resurfacing as she remembered how she failed her people trust in protecting the city. "It... fell... three or four months ago... I don't remember the exact timing..." Her ears drooped sadly over her silver-white hair, her tail laid lifelessly and tears started to form at the edges of her eyes.

"I... see..." Joseph noticing her distress, quickly changed the subject. "You earlier efforts today had saved everyone here." He dug into his pouches and removed a piece of chocolate and offered it to her.

"Eat it," Joseph said, "Don't think of the past, we live now and for the future."

Kaga took the offered item and pondered awhile before unwrapping the chocolate and gave a lick, before turning away and nibbling at it furiously.

Joseph gave a relieved sigh as he watched Kaga's actions, that piece of chocolate was given to him by the Princess when he departed for this mission and he knew it was her favorite hooman food ever since she had some during the first meeting with the hoomans.

"What is it with girls and chocolate?"

A note from neo Koh

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