"Piss off. Nothin' to say to the likes of you off-worlders, or the Ul'Dahn bitch." The urge to put his fist through the young Ala Mhigan's face was strong, but Torvan choked it down to maintain a semblance of professionalism. This was the twelfth person the group had spoken to, and this was the twelfth person to shoot them down. As they reconvene at the Aetheryte, a man approaches.

"You lot! Over here! Friend of mine wants to speak with you, follow these instructions to reach the meeting spot. Move quickly, for he won't wait for you." Gwen opens the slip of paper, directions to a rocky area to the north.

"Looks to be a short hike there, not somewhere we can get the truck to without busting a tire or the suspension. Torv, Ari, we wanna start heading out now?"

Ari looked over her gear, intuition from years of combat taking over, making her think this was a trap. "Yeah, let's head out, just make sure we're careful. Heads on a swivel, people."

The hike was a short one, a rocky area just outside of the Blades' disinterested sight lines. As the three reach the meeting site, they spot group waiting for them, with a man at the front.

"Ah, the meddlers. Outsiders asking questions, while Ul'Dah treats us like animals in a cage!? Who put you up to this!? Gundobald!? He can sit and rot, he won't take action against all those who have wronged us, so he sends you!?"

The man and his group charge at the Scions, weapons drawn, as Torvan and Ari move to cover for each other, and for Gwen. The leader takes a swing at Torvan, as he catches the blade with his axe and turns it away, while another tries to attack with a spear. He deflects it with the handle of his axe as he returns to his stance. On the other side, two attackers rush Ari, one with a sword, and another with his fists. She blocks the sword with her left glove, while dodging the incoming punch. After the initial attack, the Scions go on their own offensive. Ari shoots a jab to the swordsman's gut, knocking the wind out of him, she then leaps forward, throwing a running knee at the chest of the pugilist. Torvan, knowing the goal is to wound, not kill, jabs and swings with the butt of his axe, trying to parry the spearman. The leader charges him once more, determined to spill the Scions' blood on the rocks. He swings wildly, had to be self-taught with that wobbly motion.

Torvan shifts his axe, and swings with the blunt end, knocking the sword from the leader's hand, then shoving the young Ala Mhigan away with his boot. As he falls, the spearman charges again, this time aiming for Gwen, who is in the no man's land between Torvan and Ari. Gwen draws her sidearm and takes aim, squeezing off a round at the spearman's shoulder. He moves before her shot fired, and charges, spear first, before being shoulder tackled by Torvan, who conjures an aetheric tomahawk, holding it at the man's neck to subdue him.

Meanwhile, Ari lets off a series of quick jabs at the unarmed attacker, further trying to exhaust him, as he stumbles, unable to block her, she delivers a sweeping kick to his ribs while the swordsman sees his leader fall. Once the shock wears, he tries to stun her with his shield long enough to skewer her on his blade. She shifts her stance wide as she takes the blow to the back of her head, trying to not go down herself. She feels a trickle of blood run down her head, and turns to face him once more, as he realizes all he did was make her angry. He thrusts, hoping to hit something, anything. He misses, and his blade goes between her arm and her torso, as she puts him into a headlock, keeping his arms in a position where he has no way to gain his footing back. As he struggles, she takes out his leg, and suplexes him onto the ground.

The Scions look around, trying to make sure it was only that small group. An archer pops up from behind a rock and tries to loose an arrow at them, Gwen, gun still in hand, and running on instinct, raises it. Two ranged combatants now, herself and the archer, she motions for Torvan and Ari to get down, hide behind something, and takes point.

Gwen stays low, making sure to be covered by the rocks, as she inches forward, as she stays low, so does he. The two combatants inch towards the midpoint between them, occasionally raising up to determine their positions. The archer spots her, and draw his bow, her back is turned, and by herself. He can take her out, then work on the other two, he thinks to himself, as he nocks an arrow. She realizes he can see her, and raises up herself, gun drawn, but still unsure of his location, she's not a soldier, not a fighter, and the reality of what she's doing dawns on her. Her hands are shaking, this is it, this is the end? "No, I didn't survive this long to die here." She bites down on her tongue to choke back her fear, and scans to her left, he's there.

His shot readied, the archer looses his arrow, but it goes wide and to her right as she ducks back down. As he rises again, and nocks another, he hears a gun fire, and before he realizes it, the bow is gone, and a pain shoots through his hand. He looks to his side, as he sees a Midlander with a pistol, still smoking from the round that took away his bow. He grabs his arrow and tries to stab her, as she swats at him with her gun. As the others arrive, they see the archer on the ground, breathing, but unconscious, and Gwen sitting on a rock, shaking as the adrenaline runs out, and the realization of what happened on her face. She has a stab wound on her arm from the arrow that will need to be cleaned and treated, but she's alive, if shaken.

"Gwen! Are you alright!? Talk to me, are you okay!?" Torvan rushes to her in a panic, more nervous now than he was with a sword and spear in his face.

"I'm okay, I think." Gwen's voice shakes, almost afraid to get up after her first taste of real combat. "We won, right? Please tell me we won."

Ari finishes zip-tying the Ala Mhigans wrists together as makeshift handcuffs, "Yeah, you did good kid. Where'd you learn to shoot like that anyhow?"

"Dad was a decent shot in his younger days, so, he taught me some. Didn't think I'd ever need it though."

"We're glad he did teach you, they'd have had us without ranged support. Can you walk?" Torvan, halfway between doting boyfriend and mother hen, offers to help her back to the settlement as he calls for the Blades.

The group wrangles the five attackers together, as Wilred, still full of bravado, even with his loss, lets the game slip as he boasts.

"You think this is over? These ties won't hold me, I'll show you, I'll show you that we'll bring down the Empire, burn them to the ground after what they've done to our home! We'll raze it to the ground, yes we will! And after that, you'll see our pain! Gundobald, Ul'Dah, none of them care! None of them will do ANYTHING to stop the Empire, so we will!"

"That's enough son, night in the tank will give you boys time to cool off. Hillway, Smith, Talchar, we'll take over from here. The Blade in charge, along with his deputies arrive to walk the attackers back to the settlement. He turns to his deputies and laughs, "Oi! You sons-a-bitches owe me a night's drinking now since I have to do a write-up on this!"

As the Scions return to the truck, and crack open the first aid kit to patch themselves up, they hear the rear gate open, and what sounds like a woman's voice loudly sobbing. Once the group reaches Gundobald's tent near the gate, he moves to greet them, and speak of what he discovered while they were away. "Welcome back, did some digging near those lads you fought off's quarters, knives, what looks like a map of Zanr'ak."

"Gundobald! Gundobald! Please, Gundobald!" The woman's voice from before, she runs to him, dropping to her knees in tears.

"Bertliana? Speak child, what is it? What troubles you?"

"Corpse....Corpse Brigade, I ran, I ran with what little I had left. I can't, it was..."

"Come, let us tend to your wounds, Scions, if you would, leave us for the time, I will call for you when I am free to speak again."


About the author


Bio: I’m a wannabe writer that wants to get some of the stories floating in his brain out before it gets too smooth in there. I blog some too, you should check that out. Might be interesting if you enjoy any of this.

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