[RP Episode] The Bloody Ballad


#101

So Zhou had been a real soldier once, and not always a grouchy, bitter elf. Halatir decided he’d have to do something about that, later, and fell in with the rest of the unit.


#102

They circled back the way they came from, and came upon the same bloodied spot they had originally encountered. This time though, there were a handful of dead Niirai scouts laying about the ground as well. There seems to have been a great struggle here, with the snowy ground completely ravaged so it was impossible to tell what exactly happened. The corpses did have claw marks, and none of them were either Ren nor Wei-Yong.

‘‘Fuq!!’’ cussed Fan-Zhou, panicking, but attempting to keep a calm and professional atmosphere, ‘‘We need to get back to base, and fast!’’
’‘We seem to be in the creature’s hunting grounds…’’ Liang observed, kneeling over one of the corpses while holding one of his hands over his own mouth as he turned it over.
’‘Liang, now!’’ urged the lieutenant, and the lot quickly departed the scene.


#103

Halatir waited for a moment by the corpses. ”Sir, a quick word.” he called out. ”The bodies. It didn’t eat them. This was either for sport, or defense, and the bodies are still warm. The creature is still here. I request permission to wait here for its return.”


#104

‘‘Are you mad!? It just butchered an entire unit, and we are half their number! Back to base, that’s an order!’’ he barked.


#105

Halatir ground his teeth. ”Sir, I strongly recommend not doing so. This is our chance to kill this beast. If we leave it will not return here.”


#106

‘‘I said BASE you dimwit, now fall in line!’’ the lieutenant urged once more.


#107

There was a moment of hesitation, while a spasm of anger played out in Halatir’s face. Mastering the emotion, he stepped back into line. Good soldiers follow orders he murmured to himself.


#108

‘‘I swear to the gods, you imbeciles will be the death of me one day!’’ he continued raving and pointing fingers. Then, from a distance, a screech was heard, and Fan-Zhou promptly shut his mouth with wide eyes, and slowly turned around towards the origin of the noise. Loud thumping across the ground drew ever louder just beyond the incline that obstructed their view, until a griffin pounced over its edge, opened its wings, and dug its claws deep in to the noisiest elf on the spot, and picked him up.

If the claws themselves didn’t kill Fan-Zhou yet, what it’ll do to him next definitely will…


#109

Halatir stepped forward into a crouch, his right hand slipped down to his boot. Jumping forward, adding impetus to the movement, he flipped his hand towards the griffin. The dagger concealed in his boot spun end over end, and buried itself in the beast’s left wing, right where the limb met the torso. With a shriek, the griffin swept back around to gaze at its assailant, blood spattered over the feathers of its chest and wing.


#110

It let go of Fan-Zhou, who tumbled to the ground, scarred and bloodied across his entire torso, with deep claw marks. He didn’t move. The rest of the unit drew their weapons, and spread out in a half circle around the wounded griffin as it screeched again, in pain this time. In a swift leap to its right most side, towards the right outer most elf, Dong-Rong, it cut him in half with its sharp beak almost effortlessly, blood and organs splattering all over the surroundings.

‘‘NO!!!’’ screamed his brother, and charged the beast.


#111

Slashing downward with all the power he could bring to bear, Halatir swung his Ji in a tight circle, and cut deep into the tendons of the griffin’s right wing, ignoring the bodies hitting the ground. Now with both its wings crippled, the griffin screamed again, and spun from one attacker to another. Then, as the Rong brother charged, the beast turned to face him, turning away from Halatir.

Still wielding his Ji, Halatir stepped forward and swung again, aiming for the creature’s spine. However, the lashing tail was his undoing. As the blade descended, the tail smacked the weapon out of his unprepared grip. With a crude, Halatir slid his shortsword from his belt, but it was too late. Before Halatir could strike again, Rong reached the griffin.


#112

As Biao-Rong swung his Ji at the griffin, it dodged the jab by standing up on its hind legs, and as swiftly as it did so, it came crashing back down with its extended claws on top of Biao, braking the shaft of his Ji, and pinning him down against the ground underneath its talons. In another swift motion with its head, the beast detached Baio’s head from his shoulders.


#113

While the hapless elf was butchered, Halatir saw one more opportunity. He ran forward, dodged the writhing tail, and body slammed the griffin from the rear, staggering it. Then with a thrust, he sank his blade deep into the creature’s side, aiming for where he imagined the heart to be. Both the griffin and the elf toppled over on top of the ruined corpses of the two brothers.


#114

The griffin growled for a bit while on the ground, its muscles twitching, but unable to move, until it finally let loose its last breath. The griffin was dealt with, but at what cost? The beast broke Fan-Zhou’s ribs with its claws, and he died of internal bleeding as blood filled his lungs, it butchered the two Rong brothers as if they were plushies, and by the looks of it, the scouting party that came before had a similar experience. A total of 15 bodies litter the ground, the snow flowing red with their blood, not counting the griffin. Only Halatir and Liang were left, Halatir who was now catching his breath on the ground besides the dead beast, and Liang who stood in the same spot he was before, completely paralysed.


#115

There was a long silence. Halatir finally healed himself to his his feet, and looked around. There was blood running down his face from a slash across his cheek from the griffin’s beak, with which he had collided in his tackle, but apart from that he was unharmed. He retrieved his knife, stabbed it several times into the snow to wash away the blood, and slid it back into his boot.

Halatir walked over to Zhou, who was staring lifelessly at the sky, his eyes vacant. After checking his pulse and feeling for a heartbeat, Halatir closed the body’s eyelids. He did not check the Rong brothers. It was quite obvious that they were dead.

After ascertaining that all the fallen elves were dead and not unconscious or wounded, he finally noticed Liang, frozen in shock. Halatir retrieved his Ji, wiped the blood and feathers from the blade, and moved to stand beside the elf. ”Are you hurt?” he asked, peering intently at the Niirai’s face


#116

Liang looked up and down at Halatir, ‘‘Not a scratch.’’ he said with a shaky voice, ‘‘This… won’t look good in my report…’’ he added, tightening the holster of his satchel uncomfortably.


#117

Halatir laughed, and spat blood out into the snow. ”It will look worse than you can possibly imagine. Fifteen dead, including the commander? One squad destroyed and another decimated? Liang, ‘look good’ does not say the half of it.” He looked around the bloody mess. ”Follow after Ren and Yong. Ren should return to the outpost and tell the captain, while you, Yong, and me will sort the bodies and the griffin’s carcass.”


#118

‘‘This is no laughing matter.’’ Liang pointed out, ‘‘I will return to the outpost and tell the Commander that the Lieutenant is dead, along with half our unit, and the entire scouting party. And you should too. Your Lieutenant’s last order was to return to base as well, after all.’’


#119

Halatir shook his head. ”And what about the bodies? Surely we cannot abandon them?”


#120

‘‘They will remain right where we will leave them, nobody will want to touch a fresh corpse, and no predator will dare come close to a griffin’s hunting ground until its scent is completely gone. We will come back for them.’’ Liang reassured Halatir, who even though he saw find some form of satisfaction in the slaughter, he did still show a respectful attitude towards the dead.