Carpathia III: Episode 95: The Boy With the Spear
Yseri, Forest Trail
Kaoru, Adell, Artemis, and the rest of the group pressed on through the forest. The journey was much cheerier than before they arrived at Jonas's way station, buoyed by the merging of the groups. Kaoru was particularly pleased at having found Adell and Artemis and eagerly practiced his new water manipulation abilities. He soon discovered that he could draw water from deep beneath the ground. He wasn't able to get enough to drink, but his hope was that, with practice, he would soon be able to do so.
The friendship that Wolfram and Reuli now enjoyed with Phobos and Deimos lifted not only their spirits, but Quilyon's as well, who enjoyed watching the four of them play together. The only downside was trying to prevent the boys from wandering too far away from the trail whenever they played hide and seek. Fortunately, Azrael was very deft at anticipating Reuli and Wolfram's movements and it only took a brief glare from him to send them both scuttling back to the camp.
Now, leading the group, was Azrael, Kaoru, and Quilyon. Adell and Artemis brought up the rear, with everyone else in the middle.
Azrael: We'll be coming to the end of the trees soon. After that, we must be more vigilant.
Kaoru and Quilyon looked at each other as they waited for Azrael to continue.
Quilyon: What's past the trees?
Azrael maintained his wandering gaze, constantly scanning the trees for anything suspicious.
Azrael: We will be passing close to Volcano soon. Past the trees, slave traders hide in holes, waiting for inattentive travelers.
Kaoru: I hope you know how to spot these holes.
Azrael: I do. Nevertheless, I believe it would be prudent to consider tightening our formation. Though these traders will not be difficult to defeat with a group such as ours, we still run the risk of injury.
Though Kaoru was focusing on Azrael, with Quilyon between them, he couldn't help but notice when Quilyon's ears twitched.
Kaoru: Quilyon, you hear something?
Without answering, Quilyon turned her head to the left and peered carefully into the trees.
Quilyon: Somebody's coming.
While Quilyon continued to peer into the woods, Kaoru turned and waved to everyone behind him. The group stopped right away and Kaoru pointed to the woods. Azrael rushed to the back and herded everyone closer together. After quickly getting the job done, Azrael and everyone else turned their attention to the same direction Quilyon was looking.
Kaoru: I hear something too.
By this time, everyone could hear the indistinct, distant yelling and it was rapidly drawing nearer. Soon, it became clear that someone was approaching in a panic and they could now see a distant figure darting between the trees. Kaoru sidled toward Azrael, who was standing directly in front of Reuli and Wolfram with his hand on his sword hilt.
Kaoru: What do you think?
Azrael kept his gaze forward, carefully watching the approaching figure.
Azrael: Too soon to say. It could be a trap and I'm not taking any chances.
Everyone watched the unfolding drama suspiciously. As the figure drew near, they could see that it was an overly skinny teenage nekohuman. He wore no shirt and his pants ended well above his ankles. In his hand, he carried a long spear with a curved point at the end.
As the boy with the spear approached, Adell held his hand out over the ground, ready to produce a stone to launch if there was any sign of malice. As the boy with the spear drew near, they could now understand his shouts.
Kagurain: Help! Help!
Azrael relaxed his hand from the hilt of his sword only slightly. Kaoru leaned in close and whispered in his ear.
Adell: Is it a trap?
Azrael answered loudly enough for everyone to hear.
Azrael: I believe his panic is genuine. However, of course I cannot ascertain about what he is panicked at this moment.
In short order, the boy with the spear was upon them. He came to a halt and everyone looked at him expectantly as the boy doubled over and clutched his kneeds, panting heavily. Through the panting, he desperately tried to speak.
Kagurain: Hairy... Monster... huge... teeth... long nose... friends... in danger...
Right away, Quilyon dove into the stash of guns that their little mule was carrying.
Quilyon: Razor bear!
Quilyon pulled out one gun and tossed it to Kaoru and took one for herself. Adell, though he didn't know what a razor bear was, understood from Quilyon's tone that the situation was serious and turned to Azrael.
Adell: Azrael, you stay with Zet and the boys. Artemis and I will go with them.
Adell pointed at the boy with the spear as he said his last sentence. Azrael suddenly became flustered.
Azrael: But Master Adell, my duty is to...
Not willing to waste time, Adell cut off Azrael before he could finish his sentence.
Adell: To follow our orders. We can take care of ourselves. Make sure no harm comes to Reuli or Wolfram.
Taken aback, Azrael quickly regained his composure and stepped toward Reuli and Wolfram.
Azrael: My apologies. I will ensure no harm comes to them.
The boy with the spear was clearly becoming more and more impatient as he jumped up and down, pointing towards the trees.
Being ready, Kaoru and Quilyon were content with allowing the others to catch up if they weren't.
Quilyon: Let's go!
Quilyon's call to action was the impetus everyone needed. The boy with the spear, along with Quilyon, Kaoru, Adell, and Artemis all raced into the woods together.
It wasn't long before the boy with the spear slowed and became hesitant as he made his way through the trees. Once in awhile, he stopped, quickly looked around, and then took off in another direction. The others did their best to follow, but it was becoming evident that the boy was lost.
Kagurain: I don't know which way!
Quilyon put her hand on the boy's shoulder, stopping him from going any further and sniffed the air a few times.
Quilyon: This way!
Quilyon darted straight in a new direction and everyone else followed their new leader right away. As Quilyon deftly weaved through the trees, the others had trouble keeping up. Only Kaoru had enough skill to keep her in view and the others did their best to track him.
Finally, Quilyon slowed and Kaoru could see ahead what looked like a large, bulbuous rock in the distance. As he came closer, he realized that what he thought was a rock was covered in fur. Quilyon stopped, allowing Kaoru to finally make his way by her side.
Quilyon: It's dead.
Kaoru looked around carefully for anyone else in the area. Peering around the dead razor bear, he spied a figure laying on the ground as the others finally caught up to them.
Kaoru: Over here!
Kaoru rushed around the razor bear while the others followed. The figure on the ground was covered in blood and his chest had deep claw marks running from his shoulder clear down to his waist. It took a moment, but finally, and to his horror, Kaoru realized who he was looking at.
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