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Full Version: Warpath of the Wolf: The Plunder of Khaltet
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It was, for once, not raining in Araphen.

It was certainly cloudy, of course, because like it or not, they were in Lycia, which had as much audacity as a nation could to have completely insufferable rainy seasons and humidity. So it was humid, and the grass was wet and there were clouds in the sky, but for the moment, there were no clouds blocking the moon or the moonlight from hitting the ground.

That was the exact reason the small force of bandits were forced to hide belly first in the grass and behind just-large-enough rocks instead of standing like normal people.

At the head of the group, belly and tunic and cloak soaked in dew and hopefully just dew from the grass beneath him, Thestle the Toughneck just barely kept from grumbling. Despite his Toughneck nickname, Thestle bore the upbringing and dignities of a former noble's son with typical exiled grace, marked with bitter complaints and laments of his current station.

At the moment, that station was getting his stomach wet waiting for the Elimine-damned signal!

"When our scouts give the signal," Thestle whispered behind himself again. Again, because after being asked when they could go for the third time, he had simply resorted to repeating himself every so often. "We will spread out and sneak into Khaltet from the four main directions. When we get the signal."



"Tch. We heard you already, dumbass. Shut up already..."

Hunched down on his bear-fur wrap so his ass wouldn't have to get drenched in grass-dew, Nikang leaned back against his hiding-rock and grumbled. Beyond a doubt, the wait before an easy job was the worst thing, and having to listen to some loser who was barely a bandit, and was only in control because his ex-noble daddy paid for it was even worse. He steadfastly refused to even think on how Thestle's old man could pay bandits to get his son to lead something.

Nikang wasn't ready to understand that level of stupid.

Instead, he crossed his arms, rolled his eyes at Thestle, and continued to lean against a large rock in wait for the signal to get going. He'd left behind going back to Etruria for this—as a favor to the Djute, even! Tribe loyalty!—even if Etruria was currently swamped with Lycia's bulk of their military. The least that could happen was the scouts Thestle had sent ahead could hurry the hell up and give the signal!

"Anytime now..."
There was some irony to the current situation, that despite having left Etruria behind and joined up with a group of bandits, Elisa was currently working under the son of a nobleman. And it was about as painful as she could have expected. This was the kind of person who had to have been even more sheltered than Elisa herself back home. The entire way here he had complained about his current lot, and now that he was trying to act like a leader and give orders, Elisa was still unimpressed.

After the third time he told everyone to wait for the signal, a response finally came telling him to shut up. By the light of St. Elimine, someone give this guy (Nikang, of course) a medal for finally saying what everyone else wanted to. Elisa let out a soft but harsh laugh, adding her own thoughts out loud. "How did this guy get to be in charge, anyway? I've seen bigger balls in these dewdrops," she grumbled.

She shifted herself up onto her knees and turned on them to face forward and look over her own hiding rock. For one of the rare non-rainy days in this area, Elisa could hardly tell from how wet her legs and her furs were. The best thing that could be said about the current situation was that she was lucky enough to get a rock to hide behind, which meant she could grab her axe and get up more easily than the poor saps who were lying flat. Their 'fearless' leader, much to her delight, was one of those poor saps.

"I wonder how well 'the Toughneck' will hold up if it gets cut."
Fess rubbed her eyes with a yawn as she realized she'd fallen asleep mid-flight. It was miraculous that the dumb winged horse had kept flying and hadn't landed and dumped her off on the ground or something similar. Goodness though was it dark, she looked up to see the hazy form of the moon covered by a cloud, then looked to the ground... was that a village of some sort? She could barely see what looked like one, just enough light to make out the blocky shapes of buildings.

What was odd was the total lack of lights shining through any of the windows. She frowned, what if there was no where to go to get food? Her rumbly stomach was proof enough that she definitely needed to eat before going further... wherever she was. It was a ways back during her virgin journey away from the territory of her House that it was clear she was not cut out to navigate a map. At least asking locals for directions was a perfectly viable tactic.

It was poor manners to just land from the sky in the middle of a town street, so she directed Belphe to land in the grass a small distance outside of town. As the pegasus touched down, Fess sniffed at the air, and found it wanting. This was surely a place where filthy livestock was set loose on the fields, defecating and stinking up everywhere around them. Not that Belphe cared, as he immediately started nibbling at the grass next to his face.

Getting a better look at the town as the moon's light was no longer being filtered by a cloud, the whole place was completely lifeless. "Hmm, something here is definitely amiss."
In hindsight, wishing for something interesting to distract him from 'waiting for the signal, nyeh nyeh nyeh I'm a stupid rich boy loser nyeh,' wasn't the smartest thing to do. Least of all just before a raid, no matter how many times that Djute guy had reassured them they'd handle the bulk of the guards. Still, Nikang'd been bored and Thestle wasn't doing anything and taking in the sight of Elisa's full moons was only entertaining for so long, so he'd wished.

At the moment, Nikang was biting back some choice words about wishing on a cloudy night. Also swearing. And running.

Struck dumb the instant the pegasus woman landed, it'd taken Nikang a few seconds to close his jaw and get to his feet. He was lucky she was one of the dumbest Lycian scouts he'd ever seen, given she hadn't even noticed them hiding barely twenty feet away from her landing spot. That kind of luck didn't tend to last, though, especially when holy shit that woman could've been seen by the villagers ah fuck fuck damn it!

"Moron! You'll get us all killed!" Nikang hissed into the pegasus woman—more girl, really, if what he'd grabbed and tackled had anything to say—'s ear as he dragged her off her feet onto the grass. Ah, shit! Shit! Wet, wet, wet! He covered her mouth with his hand and rolled both of them over a few times back towards the other bandits, until he was back by his rock.

"Idiot, idiot, idiot!" He whisper-hissed again. "What if they saw you?!"
Fess could feel herself get very warm despite now being planted into the cold wet grass as some brute popped out from the grass and tackled her to the ground. A madman whispering something about "them seeing her", who? Only person around was him! Not that she could educate him on his idiocy as he had his filthy hand over her mouth. All she could do was scowl at him.

Belphe, of course, simply grazed and watched, the worthless beast.
Once again, Salem found himself in a situation he'd rather not be in.

It had been a simple enough request, really. A missing child, a few days gone, no clue of where to go or what to do. Finding children was (comparatively speaking) easy. Even out in a place like this, Salem didn't really have to think too hard or venture too far before finding the child. There had been a lack of any activities around the area that could be considered 'dangerous', at least in a sense that Salem would deem it to be. No violent sorts, no crazy people, no cults or witch hunts. It was Lycia, sure, but it was still relatively peaceful. Again, comparatively speaking. So he'd told the father that there'd be no issues there, and he'd find his son, and lo'. Salem was on his way. A little asking around, some small amount of detective work -- and Salem had been set in the direction that would inevitably cause him to find the child.

That had been roughly two days ago.

So now, Salem was in a worrisome situation. The recovered boy (a shy, reserved sort) held both hands upon his mouth in an attempt to seal the sounds of heavy breathing escaping his body. The scene had already been wrong, from the moment the village came into view once again. What had been a relatively active place was now silent. Whilst Salem's thoughts initially turned to the prospect of some form of attack, those ideas were quickly tossed aside. There wasn't a sign of any destruction, or even a struggle. Just silence. He didn't quite want to leave the boy out of his sights, and yet he didn't want to take the boy into the village for fear of whatever might have happened. In the end, Salem couldn't bring himself to leave the child on the outskirts of the village, so trail closely behind he did; eyes darting here and there in search for any semblance of activity in the place that was his home. Salem, meanwhile, had noticed some movements up ahead. Movements that caused him to sweep the boy up swiftly, and prop the two of them up by the nearby wall of a building -- out of sight for the most part. A little rough in his handling, Salem dropped the boy down to the ground, indicating a necessity for silence with his index finger against his lips. Peering out from around the wall's edges, Salem spied the one ahead.

It was most certainly a bandit. The clothing gave them away. Probably from some tribe, but Salem didn't know many of their customary attire by heart. He could just tell from a general style. Still, this one hardly looked like the perpetrator. There were probably more of them, but Salem could only see one. And this one didn't seem to hold the kind of air one would expect from...well, from someone (or something?) that could make an entire village vanish, seemingly without a trace. So an opportunist, perhaps? Maybe...but then, things would already be looking far messier than they did now. A few more possibilities ran through Salem's head -- but the shivering, tearful child next to him demanded action at that point. A clear look of reluctance upon his features (despite the obvious necessity), Salem indicated for the boy to stay put before drawing his blade from the scabbard upon the back of his hip. Stand straight, tall, and be prepared for a possible ambush.

Emerging from his not-so-subtle hiding spot, Salem cleared his throat before calling out to the bandit. That he was almost certain was a bandit. "Excuse me." Really? That was the best he could come up with? He blamed the weather.


Smitty whirled around, axe out and held at the ready to bash in the face of the poor, stupid, asshole that'd snuck up on him. That violent thought ended the instant Smitty saw that the asshole had his own weapon, and it looked a bit bigger and more face-bash-apt than his own.

"Y-You aint, uh..." Smitty gulped and took a step back, not exactly lowering his weapon, but trying to seem much less interested in getting into a scuffle. Honestly, the damn ghost village left him really not wanting to die here. Not that he wanted to die anywhere else. "Jeez, sneak up on a guy, don't ya? What're you doin, walking around like that?! People'll think you're some kinda thief!"
That...wasn't quite the response he was expecting. But good, good. It meant that he probably didn't have to do fight this one. Holding his hands up in a gesture to show he meant no harm, Salem soon caught on that such a gesture would be one hundred times better if he weren't still holding his blade. A quick, slightly awkward motion later -- and his blade was no longer in his hands. Much better. "Sorry for, er...startling you." The somewhat awkward silence that followed Salem's words was quickly filled by the boy in an effort to keep the flow going. And to not receive any axes in the face from the jumpy guy. "Uh...I'm not a thief or anything, though. I was running a kind of...errand, I guess. Couple of days back. It wasn't like this before, so I thought at first you might have something to do with it, but with a reaction like that..." He wasn't mocking the guy, it was just pretty clear now. "...Well, anyway. I'm Salem. Do you know anything about what's going on here...?"

The child, against Salem's words, had poked his head around the corner by now to look at the pair. The sight he saw (of his would-be rescuer being set upon by some axe-wielding crazy) elected a small yelp from him. Salem chose to ignore it.

"Damn, you ain't one of the villagers here, then..." Smitty grumbled, only to catch sight of the kid Salem was protecting. "Tch...You even got a kid here? Does he know where all the folks here, went? Last we checked, there were people here just yesterday, man!"
Salem only glanced over towards the child because of Smitty's line-of-sight catching him. Waving the child over, Salem spoke out. "It's fine, Robert. He's just a jumpy guy with an axe." Hardly comforting, but eventually the boy stepped over to stand directly behind Salem. His attention focused on Smitty again, Salem shook his head simply. "Doubt it. I was sent out to find him two days ago, and the village was fine then. 'We' checked? There're more of you?"

"Erk..." Smitty bit his lip. Not good. He carefully eyed Salem and the kid again, tense, but not lifting his weapon just yet. "...Look, buddy. I'm not a nice guy, but you got a kid with you. So listen t'me; get yourself and that kid outta here. Get out before you get caught up in the Vulture's traps, got it?"
So that was a slip-up? And who was 'the Vulture'? Someone he had to worry about? Well, actually. That didn't really matter; Salem shook his head in a slow, deliberate manner in response to Smitty's words. "Sorry, I can't do that. I said I'd get this kid back home to his father. So...that's what I'm going to do. If that means I have to find out what happened here first, then...well. So be it. But I can't go anywhere until I've done that." A pause. "Honour-bound or something, I guess."
Just how long were the scouts going to take, anyway? Even for something like this, it couldn't have taken this long to realize if there was or wasn't a military presence in the city. And beyond that, who even gave a shit?

Elisa was starting to suspect that something had happened. One of them was probably captured. Or killed. Or had stumbled across something really weird and gotten distracted. She wasn't familiar enough with any of them to say for certain how likely that was. For the moment, all she could do was wait and hope that Nikang would get bored of checking her out soon.

Then, as if on cue, something stupid happened.

Elisa's hand immediately went to her face when the pegasus woman landed. But what brought the second hand up, along with a sigh, was Nikang's reaction. Tackling her and dragging her behind a rock (her rock, for that matter, not his) was one thing, but the pegasus was still out there and would have attracted much more attention than the short girl who was riding it.

"Both of you are idiots," she hissed to them, shifting to one side to avoid being run into. "You really think people are going to notice her before the big dumb flying horse? And get back to your own rock."
"Oh, shut up, Elisa, you snobby bitch." Nikang scowled and gestured the pegasus girl at his fellow marauder. Okay, so maybe she had a point about the pegasus, but did she really expect him to tackle a damn horse? "Unlike this girl and you, that horse can't open its big fat mouth, and just look at the damn thing."

Nikang gestured the girl's face towards her pegasus. It continued to chew grass.

"It's not even doing anything. So maybe quit bitching about your rock, Princess, and do something useful like calling it over!" He hissed.

At least these two buffoons were too busy calling everything around them an idiot to keep a check on her. Fess took that opportunity to grab the hand Nikang had over her mouth and pull it away.

"I hope you have an explanation for this assault! No one's going to notice what you... you thugs are doing, haven't you looked? No one's around--save for you idiots." Honesty, what were these people doing hiding in the grass at night? ... wait, they weren't diseased were they? Fess tensed up as she started looking around for a way to get out.
"I don't care about it opening its mouth," Elisa hissed back. "If you're so worried about people seeing this girl, they're probably going to take more notice of the non-native flying horse." Seriously. Even Sacaean scumlords and their underlings should have known that pegasi were only native to Ilia. Maybe the townspeople or whatever guards were about weren't going to be alarmed by the presence of a pegasus knight, but when they'd already dragged the rider off behind a rock and tried to silence her...

"Besides, it's not like we can hide it even if I do manage to call it back here. You should have just let the girl go about her business and...sorry, what was that?" Her whispered rant veered off as her train of thought was interrupted by the girl finally talking. No one around? Really?

"...Where are our scouts? If there's really no one around, wouldn't they have given the signal by now?"
"To hell with scouts. Just walk right in. Can't make this any worse," whisper-sighed an irritated and resigned Maynette in reply from her own sunken bed in the soggy sod, resting her head between folded arms. She was convinced that any shred of stealth the group had clung to had been thoroughly dashed between when that damn pegasus blundered in and now.

May had half a mind to do as she herself suggested, but discipline yet held her whims in check. It wasn't that she didn't find the situation odd along with the rest of the party—really, what point was there in hiding outside an emptied village? No one to even cut!—rather, the plainswoman preferred to act rather than speculate. Given the brief fracas moments ago, further concealment seemed less and less necessary.

"Hey," Maynette whispered to Thestle now, once again resisting the urge to call him "Fluffneck" out of rising spite, "Got a backup plan? Gonna find and kill those dumbs scouts myself soon if not."

Smitty scowled, shifting his axe over to his side. "Baaaah...look, guy, if you're so worried about that kid, then stick with me and-"

"Well, well, it looks like we have some more stragglers to remove."

With another not-so-manly yelp, Smitty swung around to stand shoulder to shoulder with Salem, holding his axe out in the direction of the voice he'd heard. Any confidence he might've felt at having Salem to back him up faltered, however, at the sight of at least ten fully armed, armored soldiers led by a man wearing even more impressive armor.

The lead man eyed Smitty and Salem with casual disinterest. "Or perhaps just some rats trying to feed. No matter; you two are not getting out of this alive!"

"Shit! Let's go, man!" Smitty screamed and reached into his shirt, pulling out a bag. He threw it at the armored man's chest and turned to run, yanking at Salem's arm as he passed. "Get the kid and let's go!"

"Fools, you'll not esca-Ack! Gragh!"


"Just be quiet!" Thestle hissed to Maynette, making a shushing motion at her with his hands. Typical Sacaen savage; barely a head for tactics, let alone strategy. Oh, why did he have to suffer these injustices? Damn the Lycian emperor! "Shut up and wait for the signal like you have a head on those shou-"

"Oi! Thickneck, sir! There be the signal!"

Thestle whipped his head away from Maynette to look to the village, where a plume of wispy smoke began to rise from one of the houses. He squinted, waiting until moonlight reappeared from behind a cloud to reveal the smoke's true, reddish color.

"There it is!" But why was there only one? Well, no matter; the rest would follow eventually. Thestle turned back to his mixed hired bandit and Sacaen forces and motioned towards the village. "Time to earn our keep, people! Lieutenants, take your groups and spread out to the north, east and west points!"

Satisfied, Thestle watched most of his forces move out, only to turn back to Maynette's...unpleasant face. "Erghk..."

What to do, what to do...Ah!

"Maybelline." Thestle gestured to Maynette. "Congratulations; you're leading the south group. You'll be taking..." He looked around the remaining forces, looking for someone he didn't like enough to foist Maynette onto.

After a moment, Thestle smiled.


Nikang had half a mind to just throw the mouthy girl at Elisa and let the two of them insult each other. Too bad for him that he wouldn't wish Elisa's mouth on anyone, let alone some uppity, whiny brat who thought she could out-bandit him with her 'sensible observations' and 'logic'. Still, both the girl and Elisa had a good point; what the fuck were their scouts doing?!

"I'unno...maybe we should just git-"


Nikang scowled, mood immediately dropping. He shoved the girl off his lap towards Elisa and turned to give Thestle his most unimpressed, "I beat chumps like you for breakfast" look. "What, Fluffneck?"

"You...three?" Thestle paused, eyeing the girl and her pegasus for a moment, then shrugging. "You three are going with Mayday here to the southern point. Get moving or get lost."

The entire time Thestle walked away, Nikang entertained the idea of throwing a rock at the back of his fat, soft head.
Salem was going to mention that just ten of them shouldn't be -too- much of an issue, with a decent amount of positioning. And the fact that Smitty was apparently part of some kind of entourage would work in their favour too, right? He could just call his allies over or something to that effect, surely?

But then Smitty just up and grabbed him and started moving. After throwing something at the threatening lead man. That worked too. Salem did have a kid with him, after all.

Scooping Robert up under his left arm, Salem was hot on Smitty's tail; his slightly bemused expression leading into his question towards Smitty rather naturally. "Not your friends then, I take it?" With a small hum of excitement, Salem tossed a glance over his shoulder briefly towards the group behind -- eyes focusing for a short time on the snaking wisp of red smoke that rose into the sky. "Nifty. Some form of signal? Guess that's why you couldn't just 'call' anyone over..." Words spoken mostly to himself, Salem finally looked back ahead. "Do we have a place we're heading, or is the general plan just 'run fast'? Because I'm fine with either."

"We, ah...Yek!" Smitty yelped and started to serpentine when an arrow shot past his head from behind. Damn it all! "We're south! Definitely south! So we gotta get to the gate and-eeah!" Another arrow. "Get to the gate, then find the hole! Keep running!"

Behind them, two archers and two men with a lance and sword each trailed after them. The remainder of the group seemed to not have followed, but for how long was unknown.
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