Encounter 24

The rats launch themselves at Moor’s face. Though they move fast enough to become blurs of fur and teeth, Ignatious knocks one attack aside with the sword and stops another with an elbow to the face, leaving only one rat free to bite him in the leg. The former soldier stamps on this opponent as it tries to back away, pinning it beneath his foot and cutting off its head. The crowd cheer at this first kill, pleased to see blood. The two remaining rats back Ignatious into a corner, but perhaps underestimate his ability. Snarling viciously, they close in.

The mob take up Moor’s war cry as he slays the second rat, mimicking the raucous call in good spirit then laughing as the third rat jumps onto his back. Ignatious tosses the rat off. It squeaks and retreats a short distance, then attacks again. It gets sliced in half. Cheers and groans echo simultaneously from the crowd as bets are won and lost. The victorious warlord raises his arms in triumph and then embeds his sword point-first in the ground, certain that he has won the thugs to his side. From their sprawling ranks begins a new chant, “Bloodfang! Bloodfang!” Thugs move aside as something large passes between them. Ignatious re-arms himself with the sword.

A massive wolf pads into the fray. It circles Ignatious, drawing closer with each second. Its body is hard and muscled in odd proportions, its front legs huge in comparison to those behind. It salivates visibly as it growls, dripping flecks of oddly coloured spittle into the dirt. This is its lucky day. Ignatious loves wolves. Bloodfang feints an attack at the warlord and is encouraged when he fails to lash out in response. It tries to circle behind Moor, but he turns on the spot to match its slow pace. The wolf leaps to the side, running around the arena in a tightening wheel that Ignatious does not seem quick enough to match. Bloodfang jumps at its foe in an attempt to knock him off his feet with its thick forelegs.

Ignatious parries the blow, knocking the wolf out of the air with the flat of his blade instead of using its cutting edge. The wolf is undeterred, and gets back to its feet in a flash to attempt a second assault. Ignatious again attempts to deflect the attack without causing injury. The beast slashes his back open with a swipe of its paw. Even now, Ignatious has only pity and forgiveness for the wolf, and as it presses its advantage by barrelling him off his feet he ignores an opportunity to retaliate. The crowd curse and boo as their wager’s champion is torn to shreds in the arena, his mercy spoiling their fun. Bloodfang presses its adversary against the ground and moves to bite out his throat.

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Encounter 24

The Whisperer in Darkness Wistark