Chapter 88: Escaping Afrin
In WhichÂ Our Heroes Get the Show on the Road.
Chris: Holst trots back into the building they came from, tossing the key ring into the yard on the way. â€œI’ll take us past the infirmary first.â€ After threading down a few halls, across a courtyard, into another building, Holst opens a door bearing a red cross.
Arrin: The otter’s eyes sweep the room briefly before they fall on the only figure in the room, a small figure curled into a fetal position on one of the beds. Slowly, the otter approaches. Soquan freezes as he hears a babe’s cry, and with a questioning look towards Holst, he moves again.
Chris: Holst stays at the door with the foxmaid. He merely shrugs at Soq.
Arrin: Soquan arrives at the female’s side, placing a gentle paw on her shoulder. Her head snaps up wobbly, and after a hushed, serious sounding conversation he stoops slightly to retrieve a swaddled bundle from close to the female.
He looks sadly at the female for a moment, giving her face a comforting stroke before his paw goes to the kitchen blade at his belt. All it takes is one quick movement and the female is gone, her head lolling to one side. His face grim, Soquan leaves the blade at the bedside and strides past Holst and towards the door, his voice full of emotion as he speaks. â€œLet’s go.â€
Chris: Luckily, Holst had anticipated something gruesome could have happened in that room and had kept the foxmaid in the hall. He was surprised at his own feelings however.Â Truthfully, not what kind of feelings, but the fact that he had begun to have them.
He nodded, closing the door behind them.Â After countless doors and passageways the two arrived to the yard and began heading to the guard house.
Catamount: Azrun and Jozra had met up with Zander soon after leaving the compound. Not that he was hard to find with his huge entourage of freed prisoners.
The woodrat had managed to get the people organized and they were gathering together supplies for the upcoming trek to Kodan. The group of children are quickly able to incorporate into the larger group, many meeting up with estranged parents and other adults taking others under their wings.
Mission completed, the three Scorpions quickly have a short conference and then Azrun and Jozra head off to the guard house.
Arrin:Â Soquan fusses slightly over the small bundle in his arms. â€œHe’s so tiny… how could anybeast hate someone this small and helpless?â€
Chris: Holst merely shrugs. â€œSometimes it’s not hate. Sometimes it’s just a lack of remorse coupled with orders. Since those giving the orders are distanced from what they’ve created, terrible things can happen.â€ He squeezes the foxmaidâ€™s paw unconsciously as he leads Soq out of the yard and eventually to the guard house.
Catamount: Azrun and Jozra arrived at the guardhouse before Soq and Holst. Had the otter and red fox approached a little quieter, they might’ve caught the ferret and kit fox acting almost like kids let loose in a toy shop.
Kids with the intent to take the toy shop with them.
Azrun opens the door as the others approach, quickly looks them over and beckons them inside. â€œGood, we’re going to need some help carrying all of this to the mob.â€ He gestures to the weapons bundled up and strapped together, ready to move.
Arrin: Soquan motions briefly to the babe nestled in one arm. â€œI’m afraid I can’t be too much help, but I’ll carry what I can.â€
Chris: Holst releases the foxmaid’s paw and walks into the structure with the intent to help. His eyes, however, catch a glint from something hanging on the wall. He walks over and almost ceremoniously dons his black duster, placing his chain across his shoulders before turning the collar down over it.
With a final touch he removes his gloves from the breast pocket, donning them as well. A thin smile spread across his face as he turned back to his companions. He paused almost as if to wait for compliments. â€œAw come on…â€ His fangs showed in a crooked grin. â€œYou know you missed me.â€
Catamount: The ferret chuckles, knowing the feeling. Almost of their own accord her fingertips brush the top of the hilts of both, both! her knives. Azrun is already wearing his bow and quiver like they’re a part of him.
â€œHere’s your pack,â€ Jozra hands the bag to Holst and then eyes the foxmaid. â€œDo you think you can carry some things for us?â€
Chris: Holst slings it over his shoulder and stoops to pick up a few things. He is delighted to note the foxmaid nods and stoops to pick up more than he had initially.
Catamount: Jozra smiles encouragingly at the foxmaid and then hefts some more items to carry herself. â€œWe only need to get this to Zander’s group. If we run into any… trouble, we’ll need as many beasts with weapons as we can.â€
Arrin: Soquan picks up a few bundles of weapons, carrying them neatly under his arm. â€œGood idea, Joz.â€
Chris: Holst walks outside with the foxmaid in tow. A rather diverse collective of beasts throng about randomly. He wades through the sea of beasts and comes upon a group of stout beasts dragging sledges. He sets his weapons down, grateful to strain his muscles on his own accord.
Arrin: The otter relinquishes his load as well, careful not to jostle the sleeping babe. He pauses a moment to adjust his cloak into a sling-like state before heading back for another load.
Catamount: Jozra and Azrun deposit their loads and as the kit fox heads back with the otter, Jozra approaches Zander. â€œAre we about ready? I think we need to be on our way as fast as possible.â€
Chris: Zander ticks a few digits as he collects his thoughts, ending the process in a nod and a bit of a grin. â€œWe’re ready to move as soon as the sledges are full, which should be …â€ He watches as the kit fox and a few others return with bundles. â€œNow.â€
Catamount: Jozra chuckles. â€œLets get this show on the road, then.â€
Arrin:Â Having been following the conversation between the small group, Soquan hops onto a boulder nearby that gives the otter enough leverage to look over the swarm of beasts. â€œAlright you lot, can I just say a few things here?â€
The otter doesnâ€™t shout, but he manages the make his voice carry over the rabble of beasts. The chaos stops and eyes turn towards him. â€œWe’re about to get moving here, and we’re going to be moving HARD and FAST. I know you’re all tired, hungry and overworked, but those hares will be riding our asses the whole time and we can’t afford much lagging. Now, you don’t have to come with us, although it’d be best if we all stick together.â€
He pauses to look over everyone again. â€œWe’re heading north, to a city called Kodan. Now, this probably won’t be a permanent home for most of you, but at least it’s away from here. Now, are we all ready to go?â€
Chris: A hush settles over the crowd. Then, waves of confused and discontent conversations roll across the beasts. Holst notes this and hops up onto the rock, placing a paw on Soqs shoulder.
â€œFriends, I too slaved away at the paws of these hares. This brave otter, however, I am proud to call a friend. He speaks for us. He is with us. Without him our escape would not have been possible. Trust his judgment as you would trust mine.â€
Arrin: Soquan turns slightly to grin at the fox before turning back at the group. â€œI don’t presume to be a leader, I really am just trying to help. All I know is that Kodan is the closest city that I know is safe.â€
Chris: The crowdâ€™s spike of conversation and discontent returns to a hush as the collective ruminates on what was said. Though it is obvious Holst’s words have turned their suspicion of Soq.
Catamount: Standing near Zander, Jozra has a good view over the heads of the mob and what she sees towards the city proper, she does not like. To Zander she says, â€œWe need to leave.â€
To the crowd, â€œLook, if you’re going to stay, stay. If you’re going to go, we need to go NOW.â€
And with that, she hops off the rock and starts walking towards the city gate.
Arrin: With one last look at the group the otter hops off as well, falling in beside the ferret. â€œQuick and straight to the point, I like it.â€
Chris: Holst hops off the rock as well, trotting up to the duo. â€œI hope we can keep this up, we need all the help we can get.â€
Catamount: Jozra nods. â€œI saw tall ears massing in the city. We need to get away before they can start a fight.â€
Arrin: Soquan hefts his pack. â€œI wonder how long they’ll chase us for.â€
Chris: Holst reflects a moment on Soqâ€™s comment. â€œNot too long, order in the city is paramount. We’re scum to them, not worth too much a chase.â€
Catamount: Zander nods in agreement. â€œThey’re not organized enough to do both at once.â€ His words are punctuated by a sudden flare shooting up over the crowds and back towards the city.
Jozra and the woodrat freeze for a moment, the image bringing back unpleasant memories. And just like her nightmares, there’s Azrun, nocking another flaming arrow.
Arrin: Soquan follows the arch of the arrow as it lands on the tinder-dry rooftop, causing it to go up into flames. â€œI suppose that means we need to move.â€