[P] It's dangerous to go alone
#1
Quote:Wolfsbane II: Complete an altercation on all fours – defend our land from predators or fend off another Luperci.

P. Naomi! [+342]
The time of growth came slowly, and yet it had to come, and his task was to meet it. To harvest the first finds and put them to use to replenish supplies that the pack’s use had gradually drained. It was not a task he’d expected to be accompanied on. Not exactly. He supposed Ierian’s apprentice could have joined, but did not feel it was his right to exert authority over the girl. Although perhaps, had he consulted his brother, his sibling would have thought it fitting.

Instead, he was joined by someone less skilled in their trade, and yet still more than willing. All it took was for him to indicate the direction and imply that he could well go beyond the boundaries of the Realm. He did warn that he wouldn’t expect the results to be particularly exciting. There’d be sniffing out the early plants, there’d be digging, there’d be seeking the spots that the snow may have already released from its clutches. That his escort’s willingness did not dwindle meant either that this was not an issue, or that she didn’t really bother listening to him.

The one accompanying him didn’t favor Roaming Paw. Yet the journey could well take them far South and Bellad Songthorn opted to trot quadruped, his dark shape fitting as though into a painting when put against the etched trunks of trees, still stripped bare from the passage of Winter. His medicine bags hung on loosened cords around his neck, like the only remaining trappings of civilization upon him.

The black wolf paused and sniffed the air, cold snow at his paws. “Hmm… We should seek the homes of the Gone. Their domains often neighbor the herbs that we would find useful.” In the past he would have most likely done the task silently, not bothering to articulate it to somebody not directly related to that or to him. But he was much further now from a stranger. He was Malcrin, and he was known, and it paid to treat his peers with respect.
#2
[NC] Co-Ranks : City Watch Tier I Challenge Wrote:Protect the Realm or a fellow Caledonian from a threat.
(+480)
Optime | Northern Tides | cNPC: Ronin

Thanks for starting! Feel free to PP them moving about! ^__^
When she had heard that the large, scarred healer had interests in traveling beyond the pack’s borders, Naomi had been eager to tag along. The cold days of winter had started to become ever warmer, and the Stryder daughter had been curious to see how the world changed once more. She had been too young to remember the transition between the seasons, and her love for adventure had only encouraged her more. Not even the warnings of the tedious and hard work to be expected from the mini-expedition had deterred her. If it was for the pack, she didn’t mind.

Her friend, Ronin, had joined her when he’d heard that she would be traveling beyond the pack’s borders. Still relatively new to the pack, he seemed to find comfort with being in her presence as he still got the hang of things and got to know their fellow packmates better. Both of the yearlings had donned simple travel clothing; tunics, pants, and their bracers, and each had been sure to take a weapon with them beyond the borders. Ronin had taken his knives where Naomi had secured her new sword to her waist. While not as skilled as the rest of Naomi’s family, the pair had enough talent between them to find off any attacker brave enough to pester the traveling trio. She and Ronin had remained in their Optime forms for the trek. And, though Ronin would have been just as confident and comfortable in Lupus, he had been reluctant to burden Naomi with his weaponry for the journey out.

They had traveled a ways south, letting their superior, Bellad, direct their searching. Despite having volunteered to join the dark wolf, Naomi had had little interaction with either of the two Songthorn brothers. Her family lived relatively healthy, and had had little need to see the two healers for much of anything as a result. Still, the scarred male was not a stranger, though, was one she did well to act respectfully around because of his age and rank compared to her own.

Naomi’s attention wavered from her distant searching of the surroundings when she heard Bellad’s pace slow. His unique terminology of things had her blink as she deciphered what it was that he had meant. “The ruined buildings, you mean, right?” She asked for clarification as she paced up beside the large male. “What should we be looking for?” She was a warrior first, after all. Her expertise lied in weaponry and fighting rather than searching for helpful plants. Still, she didn’t think it could be too hard. She likened the idea to hunting, only, the prey was a plant rather than something with a heartbeat.

Ronin appeared a moment later. “No one seems to be in the area. We should be good to continue onward,” he reported.

Naomi Stryder
— The Roquen —
#3
ooc [+587]
The language, or rather terminology barrier still persisted. Although most of the time it was just a small gap to bridge. “Yes, the ruined buildings. Of those who preceded us.” He explained, though still somewhat cryptic. Not that his awareness of said precursors was more than vague rumors and fables. Still old habits died hard, and his peculiar terms and mannerisms certainly had a penchant for survival. His way of calling the forms of Luperci and the occasional references to the Myriad were some of the most glaring examples. “Hm… We are looking for early plants. They may be where the snow has retreated by now, or where the earth has been shielded from it.”

When Ronin reappeared after his scouting, the wolf nodded at him. “Then it is well. I shall count on your vigilance.” Despite the gap in age, Bellad regarded the two with a degree of respect. “I must warn you, when you find the plants, point me to them. Do not consume, do not tear them from the soil.” Respect or not, those warnings, as he’d learned, were warranted. Even if it was the two of them that carried the bags for him, still empty for now. With a nod he bid them move onwards.

Structures of the Gone dotted the land here or there, but often one had to travel a long distance to find where they converged. The Songthorn knew no maps, relying instead on instinct and memory. He knew instinctively that in the general direction was the town that he and Fennore had visited, then still being no Caledonians, but instead an aloof and secretive healer and one of a refugee camp.

“It would be best if we could find a farm…” He mused thoughtfully, rather than wax nostalgic about those days. They had closer adjacency to dire times, and the present he would say, with ever increasing confidence, was growing vastly more full of promise. That said, he had his doubts regarding how fruitful their findings would be in this weather. It helped to scout in advance. Even if they didn’t collect now, they could at least know where to expect larger outcroppings of useful plant life to sprout.

As though based on his musings, his escorts eventually pointed out some silhouettes in the distance, more blatant as the cover of trees ceased to obscure them from sight. “Very good. Then it is there that we shall seek.” Snow underfoot alternated with frozen ground. Before long said ground was no longer chilled soil, but rather cracked stone that served as an early warning of the past influence of the Gone. Bellad walked carefully, nose often close to the ground as he sniffed at any dark patch exposed by the onset of thawing, circling them rather than treading on them.

Here and there he saw meager shoots of grass, only beginning to sprout, tentatively challenging the air, frigid though no longer making for visible huffs of vapor to escape their mouths whenever they exhaled. The healer shook his head slightly. They needed to go further in, towards the buildings, and find outcroppings that had once been used, cultivated, before its seemingly inevitable abandonment. The vines that snaked up some of the buildings were at this time wiry naked stalks, like crooked cobwebs.

“If we split up and you find something, howl.” Bellad advised, convinced that by now the young warriors had to know how to communicate in this manner. If not… Well, he supposed there was room for a lesson.
#4
(+565)
Bathurst (Oxley) | cNPC: Ronin

Feel free to PP them finding stuff so that Bellad gets something out of this xD
He confirmed his previous diction, though vague as it might have still been, it was enough for Naomi to understood what he meant. She nodded to indicate her understanding as she sifted through her memories for a place that would yield the criteria that Bellad searched for. Abandoned structures outside of ruined villages and towns were infrequent, though, were not rare. The matter lied more in finding one that might have been fortunate enough to have green growth sprouting up from where the snow had melted. With the town of Bathurst so close, Naomi didn’t think they would have to look far.

Bellad gave the yearling pair a brief list of instructions before the trio could venture further. “Yes, sir,” Naomi said with a sharp nod. Not raised with the manners that the Stryder had been, Ronin merely offered a grunt.

They were no longer pups who discovered the world through their mouths, however, the warning felt warranted nonetheless. As a healer, the Tavar had likely seen and knew of all sorts of plants—both good and bad—and, Naomi thought it was safe to assume that he wanted to err on the side of caution just in case. It was easier to warn someone than it was to assume they knew better. He also probably didn’t want them to end up destroying an herb either in their desire to help him with his collection.

He mentioned a farm, though, the best Naomi could recall was an abandoned stable with adjacent pastures. When she had found it with her brother previously, the land had long since died with the arrival of autumn. However, with spring drawing ever closer, perhaps the place might have sprung to life with new shoots and other early-spring herbs and plant growth.

Onward, the group traveled until Ronin spied a promising-looking area. It was somewhat secluded, and certainly considered to be something that might have been considered part of Bathurst’s outskirts. The buildings had a different, more rustic look to them, and were more spread out. Trees and open areas helped divide the area up, and the winding, crisscrossing trails and stone paths linked them all together. In the warmer weather months, Naomi imagined that the place might have been overgrown with greenery if the various, naked bushes and withered, dried up vines that crawled up the buildings’ walls were anything to go by.

Naomi and Ronin both proceeded froward with their senses sharp and alert. The area was relatively quiet, with the only songbird tune being sung was from some distance away. Nothing seemed terribly off though. The footprints they found in the snow and mud were not fresh, nor were the scents that lingered here and there. Whoever had been through the area had not been around in recent days.

Bellad hailed for their attention with a new directive, and the two yearlings nodded in understanding. It’d be easier to search the little community that they’d found if they divided up the work rather than clumped together. Even with the days slowly growing longer, they only had so much daylight. It was best to not waste a moment of it. The quicker they could discern if an area had what they were looking for or not, the better.

Naomi ventured down an off street. Meanwhile, Ronin turned to patrol the perimeter buildings.

Naomi Stryder
— The Roquen —
#5
Getting in some action!~
Feel free to make assumptions/power play the attackers. I'm only implying an archer and an abstract "more of them". 
Set our odds however you like~
 [+776]
Young as they were, his escorts were quick to heed his advice. This alone was a credit to their decision to accompany him. He could see they took it seriously, and listened to him whether in regards to signaling one another, or in regards to the order of their search. Of course it might have been age, or rank, though he’d not made a point to reinforce either. Perhaps at times he forgot to recognize that he didn’t always need to for it to take effect.

Their understanding didn’t end with mere nods of the head and intelligent glances. With the healer in tandem they prowled the streets and scouted. He remembered this area from an excursion a long time ago. While some would say it made his present day visit to it redundant, he knew better. It was in the nature of plants to regrow, or even sprout in new places when carelessly carried on one’s paw or in one’s pelt. It paid to take stock of what a refreshed Oxley held in store for them.

Before long, short barks and calls to ask for his attention invited him to several spots. There they would see the white and black interspersed with budding green. He shook his head the first few times. Young grass would no doubt please grazing animals, but it was of little use to them. He did amicably, if still in a calm tone, inform them that if they wanted they could chew this grass. He also didn’t insist if they didn’t.

A few later finds were more promising. He was certain they’d found the beginnings of an outcropping of sage. The name seemingly confused at first, but Bellad assured it was of use. It was the first time they would see the healer dig with his front paws, expertly hollowing the earth till he could reach the roots. He then bid Naomi remove the plant with roots intact. They did not need to take all of them, but these few hardy saplings that proved strong enough to survive the Winter they could bring and plant back home. Young shoots of nettles were the next plant of use that they could find. Bellad warned the two to watch their paws and touch neither the stem nor the leaves. Yes, the plants were young, but already they had their sting.

It took a good amount of time, perhaps almost an hour. Their bags may not have filled to the brim, but gradually they became just a bit fuller. Mere saplings – there were no full grown plants to find right now. They were of more use for a future garden than they were for immediate use. But they would serve. This was going well, and the healer’s satisfaction was apparent. “Make one last round. You recognize now what the plants are meant to look like, so call upon me. We shall meet in a half hour at most. By the building strangled with dry vines.”

And off he trotted, Naomi and Ronin taking as much care of their scavenger hunt as they did of their safety. The quadruped Malcrin may have been careless to split away from them. But then, all was going well, and that could easily lull the senses. So he moved about the buildings, he came across some of the holes he’d dug himself earlier, retraced some of their very own tracks. Only to find new ones.

Bellad sniffed the tracks, which only served to confirm his suspicion. Not theirs. And fresh. He stood very still save for a slow movement of his head, nostrils flaring ever so slightly as he tried to find this scent elsewhere. If there were others here, they did not have to be foes. Yet they were hiding their presence, which did not bode well. Throwing his head up, Bellad let forth a sonorous howl. Like a calling card meant to inform, though of course it would be easily caught by his escorts. But the howl was not permitted to resound in full.

He’d heard the twang of a bowstring before. When King Iomair shot a boar the two of them were hunting. When the many archers at the tourney practiced his craft. And now, when a stranger from atop one of the roofs let loose an arrow that Bellad just narrowly avoided. The shaft protruded from the ground now, and the healer whipped about. He could hear them now. This wasn’t the only one. Naomi. Ronin. They could no longer be apart. “TO ME!” He howled and bolted off the spot, trying to get behind a building as another arrow swooshed just above his head.
#6
(+954)
cNPC: Ronin

Sorry for the wait (and this giant post)! @___@ TL;DR: Ronin is off going to distract/take care of the archer. Meanwhile, Naomi found Bellad and is taking on the blade-user. Leaving a guy with a “mean-looking” club to face off against Bellad!
As they searched the village of sorts, they found promising-looking herbs here and there. Some were more helpful than others, and others, not helpful at all. It was a fun learning experience, and, though she had no interest in pursuing medicine, Naomi was eager to hear all of the interesting little facts Bellad had to say about the herbs. For the ones that could hurt or might have been particularly useful to a fighter out on their own, she did well to commit the image of the plants to her memory. Ronin was less interested than Naomi about the various finds—he did not ask questions or engage in the conversation like she did—but, he was attentive all the same.

Slowly, the bags they’d brought along for the scavenging trip became occupied by varying degrees. It was no momentous find, though, with it being so early in the new season, it was good enough. At the Songthorn’s suggestion, the trio split up one final time in search of anything else that could be gleaned from the area before they moved on. The two yearlings had gone their separate ways at first, though, their paths had eventually ended up crossing once more. Naomi had been crouched down next to a building, sniffing attentively at a notable hollow that had been made in a bush’s barren branches.

“Che, I can already tell you that that’s not what Bellad wants,” Ronin said dryly as he walked up to her.

Naomi shook her head as she moved to stand. Her face was serious. “<I know. Someone’s been in the area since we’ve been here,>” she whispered in Japanese. “<Judging from the pushed and broken branches here, they squatted here for a little bit before they moved on.>”

Ronin’s hands moved subtly to his knives as he scrutinized about the immediate area. “<How long do yo—?>” He was interrupted by the sudden, demanding howl of Bellad. “Shit!” He snarled.

Both of them turned and ran towards the direction of the call, drawing their weapons from their sheaths in preparation for a fight. Bellad may have been a large, male wolf, but, he had been in Lupus all the same. To an Optime user with weaponry to wield in hand, he might have been seen as an easy target. Naomi mentally cursed the fact that they had not seen the signs sooner. Her mother would have found them sooner.

They rounded the corner to see Bellad racing down a side street. Behind him, two Luperci ran in hot pursuit, one with a nasty-looking club, the other, with a blade that was somewhere between a knife and a sword. Naomi’s lips curled at the sight of them, however, any thought of rushing after them was cut short as an arrow whizzed by her. It startled both her and Ronin, and the two instantly ducked for cover behind a building.

Ronin stumbled in his haste, and Naomi shot out a hand to grab a fistful of his shirt to steady him, grunting when he partially collided into her. She let go of him once he regained his footing, peaking her head out carefully from behind the corner of the building. Her glacier eyes searched the area quickly. She ducked back behind the building just before another arrow thwacked against the roofing in a shot aimed too high.

“<There’s an archer on a red-tiled roof four or five buildings over,>” she reported in Japanese as she looked back at Ronin.

“<We need to get to Bellad. He doesn’t have any weapons,>” Ronin nodded.

“<As long as we’re out of sight of that building, the archer won’t be able to get a clear shot of us.>”

Ronin decided quickly. “<You try to find Bellad. I’ll see if I can keep the archer distracted or catch them when they inevitably have to climb down from their vantage point to find another closer to the fighting.>”

Naomi raised her hand, and Ronin switched his knives before clapping his palm against her own. Smirking encouragingly at one another, they split up.

Ronin caught the attention of the archer and made them waste another arrow before he ran to another building. Meanwhile, Naomi raced in the direction they had last seen Bellad go in. She bounded from building to building, moving steadily closer to the sound of fighting while making sure to not be within the archer’s line of sight. Eventually, she finally made it to the same street as the healer and his two assailants.

She rushed forward as the one with the large knife tried to charge in at the dark wolf’s exposed back. She moved between them just in time with her sword raised, deflecting the strike intended for Bellad. The two blades of metal clanged loudly as they met, and the stranger visibly started at the sudden appearance of a new player to their fight.

Naomi snarled as she pushed roughly against her opponent, sending them stumbling backwards to maintain their balance. “Sorry for the delay, sir. Hope you didn’t have too much fun without me,” she said over her shoulder to Bellad as she took up a fighting stance. She allowed herself a second to glance over him and check for any injuries before she forced her eyes to return to her own opponent. The blade-wielder had regained their footing and seemed to be in the process of considering whether to rush Naomi or let her make the first move.

She didn’t give them ample time to choose before she launched herself at them, arching her sword in a diagonal slash.

Naomi Stryder
— The Roquen —
#7
Feel free to power-play Bellad into playing distraction and to move around the bandits however you like (and to assume Ronin's a badass and took care of the archer) [+746]
He ran, sensing movement behind is back. It seemed the flying arrows were not to be his only pursuers. Somebody else was on his tail. How could he not notice? Were he not forced to weave among the streets to stay out of sight of the archer he could perhaps outrun a Luperci in Optime with some effort. The healer had no such advantage. In fact he couldn’t so much as afford looking back to figure out how many they were dealing with.

The clash of metal rang in his ears, not immediately recognized for the favorable sign that it was. But he did not find himself wounded. Then Naomi’s address cemented the turn of events for the better. Hopefully for the better. Otherwise things were merely transforming into a different kind of complicated. "Fun" she called it. New Caledonians had the strangest definitions for certain things.

In his mind, notions wrestled. Naomi and Ronin, the latter unseen to him for the time being, came with him for protection. And yet somehow he felt the need to keep them alive and safe as well. There was little time to satisfy his sense of pride at needing to be defended so. “It is well. Keep your guard up.” He mouthed to his armed protector who confronted one of the pursuers blade to blade. Bellad, in turn, directed his gaze at the other one, approaching him while brandishing the menacing club.

“Why do you attack us?” Bellad demanded with a snarl. “There is nothing for you here and we’ve nothing to give you. Leave.” For someone who did not often call on his noble title, he didn’t seem beyond putting some authority into his voice, even while still in the form of a wolf. “Nothing to give?” The club spun in the bandit’s hand as his companion pressured Naomi to remain engaged in the fight. “We’ll decide that once we pick your corpses clean.” And with this grim promise he rushed Bellad.

It may have been the difference in height, or else the weapon in his hand that gave the attacker this sort of confidence. Yet now that he was able to focus on the attacker, Bellad would prove that skill at moving in one’s animal form went a long way. Deft Hands were not meant for harm. Not in his culture. But this, the Roaming Paw, was the form in which even the unshifting would hunt and fight for their lives.

He dodged a low sweep of the club, and leapt out of the way to narrowly avoid a downwards swing. “Stand still you mutt!” His attacker growled. Nearby Naomi was still locked in combat. He wanted to worry for her. He did in fact worry for her. He forced the helpful urge down for now, to help to prioritize his own issue. The issue took another armed swing at him. He nearly felt the weight of the weapon on the air. Then finally as the hand drew back to attempt to inflict another blow, Bellad leapt forward.

The unknown Luperci screamed as Bellad’s jaws clenched on his wrist, causing him to drop his club. With the size of the black wolf, his lower legs didn’t leave the ground as his mouth filled with his enemy’s blood. He felt a hand clench his upper jaw, trying to dig claws in under his teeth to force him to unclench. He bit down harder. A fist impacted his skull, causing him to dig in deeper with an angry snarl. Another punch and a jerk of the man’s arm finally tossed him off, skidding on his paws, lips curled up to reveal his bloodied fangs.

Abandoning the club the bandit clutched his bitten wrist, glaring spitefully at Bellad. And like an animal, no, as an animal, the healer circled him slowly, having had a taste of the fight now. “Leave.” Bellad repeated the prior demand, the ferocious sight of a crimson-toothed maw standing in for the more elaborate part of his request. Now disarmed and wounded, the man looked between Bellad and his companion, as though trying to see if they could get rid of the girl and tip the scales. The healer too sought an opening, but the wounded man put some distance between himself and the blade-wielding bandit. He could only hope the brave Stryder had the skill to either hold her own or hold out until he could find the opportunity to flank the one threatening her.
#8
(+889)
cNPC: Ronin

Feel free to PP the bandit(s) fleeing! I mentioned the club-wielding guy trying to make a baseball swing at Bellad xD
Looking torn between whether they should deflect her oncoming blade or dodge it, her opponent barely escaped receiving her bladed edge across their chest. Startled, they tried to make a hasty swing at her, but Naomi brought her sword up to block the poorly executed attack. “Already on it,” she replied to the healer as she angled her sword differently to block a follow-up attack from the rogue.

Her confidence in her own sword skills seemed to annoy her opponent. They bared their teeth and let out a growl in frustration as they made another swing, only to have her deflect it back at them and step into their guard. She rammed them with her shoulder, sending them sprawling to the ground. After eight months of a strict training regiment led by her mother, and plenty of sparring practice with her older brother, Naomi had more talents in combat than most expected of her age. She may have been born in New Caledonia, but, she was raised like a Cavalier.

The stranger flipped backward into a crouch before propelling themselves forward and towards her legs. They aimed to tackle her to the ground, where her sword would have been useless. Naomi sidestepped and swung her blade in the same stroke. Mid-motion, they were unable to avoid her sword’s swing, and they yelped as her blade caught them across their back, cutting through their clothing easily.

Naomi circled wide around the rogue with her sword held between them. Had she been raised with less honor—or if the situation had been more life-or-death—she might have continued her onslaught. As it was though, the stranger had hardly made themselves to be a real threat to her to warrant such actions from her. “I’ll only warn you once. Give up now, and that cut will be all you receive from me,” she said sternly, glaring down at the stranger as they stumbled to their feet.

“The fight’s only started, sweetheart,” they hissed, twirling their knife in their grasp. They charged her again, their speed greater than the first. When their blades met, Naomi grunted from the power behind the strike. They separated, only to meet again as they swung a second, a third, and a fourth time. She wasn’t sure if the other had simply been testing her before, or, if they had misjudged her skill level and gone easy on her. Either way, there was a noticeable difference between the swings dealt by her adversary now than they had initially.

Her sword gave her a longer reach and larger surface to defend herself behind, however, in such short range of one another, the shorter knife-wielder had the advantage. Had Naomi been any less trained than she was, she might have received quite a few nicks, if not a stab or two when the other decided to make a rare thrust when they believed there to be an opportunity. They danced, their blades clanging as they twirled and sidestepped around one another.

Out of the corner of her eye, Naomi spied the club-user trying to advance closer to her and their bladed companion. She turned sharply as she avoided a swing by her opponent, purposely making sure that her back was not to either one of the rogues. If they thought she was the easier target simply because of her age or because of her being a woman, she was going to have to dial things up a notch to show them just how wrong they were.

Bellad, thankfully, managed to return his opponent’s attention back onto him though as he took advantage of an opening. The club-wielding rogue snarled as he planted his feet and twisted, swinging out at the Lupus male. Naomi wasn’t able to see if they were successful, but, for the healer’s sake, she hoped he was fast enough to duck the wild swing.

Her opponent rushed her, and Naomi sidestepped and raised her sword to follow through. Their attack was a feint though, and they quickly shifted out of range of her blade as it swung down. Naomi flashed her teeth when she felt their knife nick her bicep, and was thankfully able to pull away fast enough to prevent it from slipping too deeply within her flesh. The other made a lightning-quick secondary attack, however, Naomi had been ready for it.

Their blades clanged sharply, and Naomi stepped back enough to allow her to maneuver her sword between them. With a sharp twist, she disarmed her opponent, sending the knife flying and clattering as it hit the wall of a nearby building. Her opponent quickly moved to go retrieve their weapon, however, they were stopped by Naomi’s sword blocking their path. “Leave it,” she growled as she stepped between them and where their knife had fallen.

Behind her, Ronin appeared, and he picked up the knife from where it had fallen. He had a few cuts on him, but, it was apparent that he had taken care of the archer in one way or another.

The blade wielder clenched his teeth as he looked between Naomi and Ronin before glancing back to his club-wielding companion. “Let’s get out of here!” He yelled, smartly realizing a lost fight.

Naomi Stryder
— The Roquen —
#9
Thank you for the thread! I suggest we wrap up here [+501]
Where Bellad fought with claw and fang, Naomi brandished her blade. It seemed the only aid she required from him was to ensure she only fought one opponent at a time. The quadruped healer did just that, if at times forced to keep dodging or covering the flanks with bared teeth. Adrenalin reduced the pain from the blows he’d taken to his head, letting him move about somewhat unimpeded. Before long, the last of their assailants standing were disarmed, putting the bladed duel to an end. And Ronin too returned a victor. With the bandits turning tail, Bellad finally gave himself the luxury of letting out a quiet grunt of pain.

“I am fine.” He assured his two companions. “I am fine… Thanks to you.”

This proved a new hazard to the task of a scavenging healer, and new proof of the pack that he now counted himself amongst. These two young Souls stood valiantly in his defense. The healer needed to make sure they did not pay a price too dire for their courage.

Without changing form, he walked over to both Ronin and Naomi in turn. Standing next to each one, he reached over to sniff and examine the wounds on them both. Ones they had, at least. He even instructed Ronin to show some of the cuts closer. None seemed too deep. The need for defenders would not cost the pack today. Nor would it burden his conscience with harm coming to younger pack mates.

Bellad took in a deep breath, trying to even out his heartbeat. The dull pain in his skull told him he’d do well not to undertake anything quite as extreme as fighting and weathering blows to the head anytime soon. “Well done, Naomi, Ronin. But we too should go. Lick your wounds for now. I shall see to them, but away from here. We do not know if there are more.” They still had their satchels, filled with what they actually came here for.

Satisfied with the examination, Bellad turned from them. And as he did, for just a moment his vision drifted to the side. He must have been visibly about to stumble, since he found one of his escorts by his side before he could possibly fall. “Ah… I’ll be fine… But perhaps we should go slow.” He suggested in response. This had to be simple enough to fix. Just something that would require a little rest, some water. First and foremost it required safety, and not one that had to be won through blood and steel.

He watched the two of them as they took positions, seemingly ready to defend him still. Perhaps he would need to consider need for such assistance in the future, all the more if the Realm were to grow even more vast and render his role more itinerant. But even now, on their way out of the derelict town of The Gone, Bellad felt he had someone to rely on in order to get home.


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