Level 26 ~ Taecendar cont’d

“Come on, baby!” Nemera encouraged her daughter with an undertone of urgency, “We need to get further away from the village!”

“Mom! It hurts!” Layla staggered into a tree for support, clutching the oversized arrow in her stomach even as blood ran down from the one in her shoulder. “I want dad!”

“Sweetie, daddy’s buying us time so we can get away!” Nemera paused to let Layla rest a moment, but continued to scan the trees around them anxiously.

Suddenly a crash of a falling tree announced the arrival of three of the creatures attacking the village, “You thought you escape us? We smell you! Smell blood!”

With a curse Nemera spun around to interpose herself between the creatures and her daughter, hands raised like claws. Before anyone else could act though, Vixie dropped out of the canopy and buried her flaming claws deep in the neck of one of the creatures with a shriek.

“Leave my family alone!” Vixie did an agile back-flip off the shoulders of her target, taking its head with her.

Even as the other two creatures turned their attention to Vixie, Andrew cleaved one of them in half and destroyed the body with a blast of holy thunder. Taecendar slid in to square off against the last creature. Before Nemera had time to be relieved, Layla fell to her knees with a shriek that quickly turned into a roar. Wide-eyed, Taecendar looked back as spotted fur sprouted all over Vixie’s little sister and she turned into a cross between a girl and a leopard. Still winded and sweating heavily from his run up the mountain, Andrew finished the last half-troll with his second swing.

“You came just in time!” Nemera smiled to Vixie as she knelt down to sooth the trembling leopard-Layla. “Your father is fighting their leader again back at the house! He needs you now.”

“Wha-what’s happening to Layla?” Taecendar stared in disbelief at the little leopard-girl.

Vixie shook her head. “No time to explain now! She’ll be okay!”

Before he could say more, Taecendar heard the ratcheting clank of the black armored one approach through the trees. Vixie and Andrew noticed at the same time and all stepped into fighting positions to keep the monster away from Vixie’s mother and little sister.

“I’m glad you didn’t get too far.” The leader growled in two voices, a dry rasping one and a harsh gurgling one. “I don’t know where the little magic typhoon came from, but females like you will be perfect for rebuilding my army.”

“Go to hell!” Vixie screamed as she flung herself at the leader with tears in her eyes.

Before she could even get close to him he threw a quick jab with one of his spiked gauntlets, sending Vixie flying back into a tree with gaping wounds in her stomach. As Vixie slid to the ground Andrew rushed the leader with his own battle cry. Damn it! Taecendar only just heard what happened to Vixie, but if his guess was right then Andrew’s attack wouldn’t work either. Still, if he didn’t cover Andrew that was going to leave him alone against the monster that mortally wounded Warleader Hart. A quick jab of Taecendar’s staff threw the monster’s attack off just enough to have it smash Andrew’s shoulder instead of his face. All the same, the run finally caught up with the Demon Hunter—who fell to a knee.

“Ugh!” Andrew put a hand to his shoulder as he plunged his huge sword into the ground for support, “That armor… Must block scrying. I had no idea there was something like this here!”

“I’m not done yet!” Vixie snarled as she rose back to her feet, fur sprouting over her body like it had Layla’s. “I’m taking his head!”

Surprised, but determined, Taecendar nodded to Vixie and flashed his usual grin, “All right! I’ll cover you!”

Taecendar rushed in first. He didn’t stand a chance against this thing, but if he could hold its attention long enough, he trusted Vixie to make good on her promise. The initial skirmish went well. By focusing on reading his opponent’s moves, Taecendar was able to anticipate and deflect the first several attacks. Unfortunately the monster figured out a little too quickly to attack Vixie instead, so Taecendar changed tactics and thrust his staff between his opponent’s legs as soon as he had an opening. Once he had the monster on its knees, Vixie had no trouble keeping her end of the deal.

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