Ruin of the Bloodmoon

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Ruin of the Bloodmoon


"I w.. I wish you w..were a genie..."

"And I wish you were a cheese-elemental."

The joke brought the faintest smile to Lucien's face. He continued rubbing the rat between his fingers, holding the rodent carefully as he massaged the little cloak it wore. The boy's teeth were chattering as he muttered the incantation, but thankfully the rat sat still, almost looking bored.

The young wizard had found an oak tree to sit against, but it was no shelter from the rain. Lucien's outfit was soaked and there was mud and leaves in his hair. And what wasn't sodden from the rain was wet from his tears. The boy had been crying for the last hour, inconsolable and helpless. If it hadn't been for his rat, he wouldn't have even thought of casting the spell.

"He's... he's okay, isn't he? M..Mr T..Tumbridge? They w..wouldn't hurt him...?"

The rat glanced up at its master, then looked away. "Just concentrate on the incantation." The rodent felt its master crying again, another wave of grief making his shoulders shake. Then there was a short flash of energy as the Resistance spell took effect, shrouding them both in a thin veil of magic.

It was a small relief... but the rat knew it would not be enough.

Lucien would not last the night.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

A half mile away, six figures appeared on a hill overlooking the small forest. Behind them the town of Crowley was overcast with rain and chimneys were belching smoke as the townfolk lit fires and shut up their doors and windows.

Yet there would be no warm fire nor sturdy roof for these six men. For they had prey to catch this night.

"Little bastard must be dead by now!" spat the first thief. Beneath his hood bloodshot eyes glared down at the forest where Lucien had been hiding since he fled from the Antiques Shop.

"Shouldn't've killed the old man," said another, "Kid'll run to the militia first chance he gets."

"Not if I gut the little maggot first!" a third thief, with an Orcish taint to his voice, roared.

A fourth rogue with the supple figure of the Elvenkind moved between them with folded arms, surveying the small forest. "He's been in there for twenty hours now. He's too scared to break cover."

"Maybe the little fuck's already teleported!" gasped a large, burly man who was wheezing at the back of the group. "We're done for, lads! We're never gonna find the---"

"QUIET!" roared the leader of the thieves, who stood at the front of the mob. He was dressed like the others - heavy robes, hood and veil - but he carried himself with an altogether nobler poise. Twirling a curved blade in one hand, the man looked down at the forest, considering his options. A minute passed and then he pushed a path through his men and strode back down the hill.


On the sheltered side of the hill, near the road that led back to Crowley, the bounty hunters were waiting. The three men were readying weapons, neither really talking to each other, but each feeling the excitement that had brought them out of the town this night.

Soon it would be their turn to hunt.

They were Tallin, Joff and Fang... and their reputation in this town preceded them.

The leader of the thieves approached the bounty hunters, sheathing his sword and lifting a sack that was tied around his waist. Inside were the spoils of the Antiques Shop raid: over 10,000 gold. He took out three pouches from the sack, tossing one to each of the mercenaries.

And as his fellow thieves watched him from the hilltop, the leader's rasping voice spelled out the terms. "That's a thousand to start. The rest you get when you bring me the boy. Work as a team or on your own - I don't care. But I want him alive."

He closed the sack again and pulled up his hood as the rain fell harder.

"We'll be waiting here. Tear the forest apart if you have to."
Joff wasn't in the best of moods, having to come out here in the rain to find some boy. Joff didn't think much to his employer, but he didn't think much to many of his employers, all of them too lazy or inept to do the job themselves. He half considered going into the woods and then circling round and just killing his employer and his minions then just taking the money, while the others waste their time serching for the probably already dead child.
Luckily for his employer, and his minions, that Joff could see the potential in keeping this employer happy, for now. He could forsee many more well paid jobs commong his way.
Not paying too much attention to his 'compitition' or his employer, Joff strod off into the woods, confident the scared boy couldn't have gone far before fear had frozen him in place.
Some days, it didn't pay to roll out of your blankets. Others, you got paid thousand-lion advances to track scared boys through wet forests. Today was of the latter sort. He briefly wondered as to whether his employers would still even be alive when he returned, what with the way they were bickering, then decided that with an advance of a thousand lions, he really didn't give a rat fart one way or the other.

Nodding his agreement to the terms, he started off, first stalking through the gang of thieves to quickly reach the most likely area for him to pick up the trail. He left his axes in their loops - a good tracker does so without the aid of weapons. It wasn't long before he had a trail to follow. A boy, still a stripling and slight of build, with a quick, stumbling gait. Tracks weren't too fresh, but not old, either. Probably a day, maybe two. The rain made it difficult to be sure. Time would tell if it was the right one.

Track result: 17. (+9 ranks, +1 Wis, +2 Favored Enemy: Human)
The rain rolled off Joffs hat and he could feel it dripping on his back. The weather wasnt improving his mood, he couldn't help but think of being in a warm bed with a few high class whores, but that would have to wait.
As he stepped over a fallen tree he could see something off in the distance, at the base a tree a few hundred feet away. He crouched down and darted to a closer tree for a better lopok.
He took off his hat and had a peak round the tree.
He saw what looked like a wirey figure huddled by the tree trying to keep warm.
'How easy is this!' Joff thought with a sneer.
The lad had his back to him, Joff slid from tree to tree to get closer. When he got close enough he jumped out and grabbed the boy round the chest with one arm and his other hand round the boys mouth.

Lucien screamed into Joff's hand as he was dragged around the base of the tree, the sodden grass soaking his body further. Thorns and twigs dragged through his hair and the air was crushed from his lungs by the bounter hunter's other hand.

The boy twisted and wriggled in terror, but his attacker had him in a expert hold. There was nothing he could too. Tears streamed down his face as he was wrenched and manhandled backwards through the undergrowth.

Then suddenly...

"Yeeeaaaargh!!!" yelled Joff, pulling his hand away as a small pair of teeth but down to the bone. There was a defiant squeak and the bounty hunter staggered, staring wide-eyed at the rat down dangling from his hand. [2 damage to Joff!!]

With his mouth uncovered, Lucien struggled to get onto his knees. "Don't hurt him!" he sobbed, watching as the rat bit down on the bounty hunter's hand. Then he looked helplessly to the trees around the clearing.

Fang crouched in the shadows of the forest, choosing to observe his prey for a moment before striking. Unfortunately, Joff wasn't nearly as patient as Fang could be. The scarred man sighed as the boy was dragged around the tree. He stood and stalked calmly forward, coming out of the tree line just following Lucien's cry for help.

He didn't hurry, he didn't posture, he didn't threaten. He didn't need to. Instead, he stalked forward and let his cloak front catch the breeze and flip behind him. The moonlight, miserable and grubby as it was, caught on his axes and on his scar, highlighting the 'fang' that had given him his name all those years ago.

"The concept of 'subtlety' is entirely lost on you, isn't it, Joff?" he said in Common, before switching to Damaran and muttering, "{impatient fool.}"

Intimidate result: 21
It was shock more than the pain that made Joff reel back. 'what the hell!', he violently shaked his hand so the rat would fly across the wood. 'Where the hell did that come from' he thought after.
Just then he heard a voice which made him spin round and grab his Rapier, but with just a glance of this new 'intruder' stopped him drawing it. He reconised Fang, with his scarred face, and didnt like his tone of voice. Joff stood his ground in silence and defiantly stared at Fang.
"Aaaaagh!!! AAAAAAAAAAAGH!!!!" screamed Lucien as he beheld the second bounty hunter. It seemed this one was custom-built to instill gut-wrenching terror in any who looked upon him. Forgetting all about his familiar, Lucien curled up in ball, shielding his head and muffling the plethora of sobs and whimpers that spilled from his lungs. His other hand clutched his spellbook, bending the pages with his grip, as if somehow he could will the arcane powers to spirit him away from this place.

The rain was falling harder now, turning the clearing to mud. The rat familiar had been lost in the undergrowth, its master now lying helpless between the two mercenaries.
Fang stalked forward and nudged Lucien's spine with a boot. "Get up. And keep control of your familiar. I'll hold you responsible for anything it does." He glared at Joff for a moment before continuing, "Since Joff is so impatient, we'll go now. Get up and walk with us. If you disobey or try to run, neither Joff or I have any qualms about breaking your kneecaps." Without waiting for the boy to push himself to his feet, Fang started off towards the town, purposely choosing a slower route than necessary.

"Now. I'm curious as to why our employer would offer ten thousand lions for your capture. Enlighten me."
Sengir Glide had been sleeping in a nearby cave when he heard Lucien's scream. The child's yell rested the man from his dreams with a start, causing him to hit his head on a stalagtite hanging above his head. "Ouch! Sonuva...What was that? Didn't sound like a beast. Ugh, better go see what's up...and of course, it's still raining..." Sengir moaned, ending with a tired yawn. Sengir, who had never been a morning person, was even less of a 'rainy day' person, and to him, the two combined meant that today was going to be long and hard day. Gathering up his gear, Sengir put his hood up over his head, gave one last reluctant sigh, and headed off into the woods.
Lucien, still sprawling on the floor, reached for his spellbook but found that Joffe had already snatched it up. He gave another cry and turned, lunging towards Fang and clutching at the back of his cloak.

"Please! Don't take me back there! They killed him.. my master! Mr Tumbridge, he..."

As the mercenary pulled away, Lucien dropped back to the floor and curled up in the mud and leaves. The rain was falling heavier and all the forest hissed with the sound of raindrops on leaves.

The boy's rat familiar, looking no worse for being flung fifty metres, crept back out of the undergrowth, glaring up at Joffe as it skittered around his feet and moved to lick Lucien's fingers. Any other animal would have fled, while any other companion would have hidden.

But this rat was a familiar. It had no choice but to stay.

"I don't want to die," Lucien whispered as he took the rat in his hands and clutched it to his chest, a foetal position as the rain soaked his clothes and skin.
Kerby watched silently up in a tree as the bounty hunters took Lucian away. He really shouldn't get involved. Lucian seemed like a timid boy, but if there was a bounty on his head, he was getting what he deserved.

The tiefling looked around for Lilith. Where was that fox? He looked down and saw a furry, red streak heading straight to Lucian. Kerby put a hand to his forehead. That boy had a rat familiar. How could he forget! Kerby jumped down from the tree and ran over to the bounty hunters. Lucian already seemed to be screaming as Lilith began scratching at his chest.

"Lilith!" Kerby shouted in a rather smooth, but agressive voice. The fox backed off and hid behind Kerby's legs. "Terribly sorry about that," He commented to the Hunters.
Sengir heard another set of screams, this time coming from a slightly different direction. "Whoever that is must running from something...or been dragged off by something. Better pick up the pace." With another reluctant sigh, Sengir shifted his pack, and picked up his pace. Soon, he reached a tree with several boot-shaped, water-filled mud-holes at it's base. A few moments later and Sengir had figured out which way the tracks led and headed off in that direction. Realizing that he was now closer to who ever it was that had been screaming, and more importantly, whatever it was that had been making them scream, Sengir placed a hand on one of his swords, just to be ready for whatever waited for him ahead.
The boy didn't want to die, did he? Well, he certainly wasn't acting like it. Fang spun on the ball of his foot, reaching down and hauling him up by the hair so that they were face-to-snarling-face. The boy's familiar tried to look threatening, but it didn't impress Fang. He'd had to fight off worse as a seven-year old.

"You don't want to die, do you? Well, you're choosing a piss-poor way to go about accomplishing that. I'm not going to take fucking pity on you, you useless smear of boot scum. Show some godsdamned spirit, or at least answer my damn questions. They aren't that hard. Otherwise you're only useful for the money you'll bring me."

With that, he let go of the boy's hair and turned.

"If you're here to intercede for the whelp, Tiefling, I wouldn't bother. He's not worth the effort," he bit out, spitting on the boy's gasping form.
Elias was a Ranger. Always had been, now that he thought about it, even as a wee lad. He would venture into the forest with cloak and bow and axe, learn the land for another mile or two, and return in the evening covered in blood, mud, or some combination of the two. The forest was in his blood. It was a wonder he wasn't a devout follower of Mielikki. Oh, he prayed to her, but his goddess was, and always had been, Lady Luck.

He watched from the shadow of a large tree, barely a hundred yards away. He kept himself down wind, and moved with as low profile as he could in the rain. Rabbit was curled up against him, hidden underneath his forester's cloak.

Sorry, boy,
he spoke in his mind, mildly wondering if the dog could hear him. I'll get you your own cloak in the next town.

He watched with interest, his darkwood recurve bow gripped firmly in his left hand, strung and with an arrow nocked. He had it tucked close to him, trying his best to keep it hidden underneath his broad cloak. A wet bow wasn't a happy bow.

He squinted with his one good eye, and deciding he couldn't read their lips with this heavy rain in his way, began to move along the underbrush, closer to the now-growing gathering.
Joff stood there, arms crossed, smiling to himself. Watching Fang bullying the lad was something he could watch all day, however this 'tiefling interuption' was spoiling it for him. Taking a step forward towards the tiefling, looking directly into his eyes, joff said in an annoyed tone 'you have no claim here, so go about your business elsewhere, or else' , making it quite clear what he meant by 'or else'. He moved his hand to his sword and calmly rested it on the pommel of his sword, waiting for the tiefling to make his move.
Sengir crept up to a tree, making sure to keep out of sight of the group of people. From his count, there were four of them: A teifling, a human boy, and to men, though he was unsure if they were human or not, as their backs were to him. The scout listened to the conversation for a while, trying to get a grasp of what was going on, though from the looks of the boy and how he was being treated by the man, Sengir could tell at the very least that they were no friends of the child.
Kerby narrowed his eyes.
"Now, Now," He said, wrapping his hand around the hand crossbow on his hip. "I don't want any trouble. I'm headed to the nearest town, and I presume you are too?"
Lilith started to growl a bit and show her teeth.
Hm, things are escalating, Elias thought to himself as he crept closer. Rabbit had stayed faithfully where had told him, and was dutifully awaiting the next order. They had long since established verbal and visual commands, and Rabbit had been a clever companion. Sometimes he thought if there was more to the dog than even he realized...

He was now barely 30 feet away, still as a stone next to a massive tree, one side covered in heavy moss. He gingerly set himself down next to it, his forester's cloak turning him into a bush, his bow nothing but a stray twig having overgrown with no green leaves to show. An arrow was still nocked, the string taut and ready to be pulled, the arrow released.

But he wouldn't be violent; there are always circumstances. He wanted to know more, and he was close enough now to vaguely hear and, better yet, perhaps read their lips.

((Hide: 26. Listen: 29. Spot: 15. Honor system, yo.))