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Chapter 1: First Meetings


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Summer was the only time of the year where the small village where Ami lived remained snow-free All the time.  Of course the summer brought an abundance of food, for game was plentiful and the river nearby teemed with fish.   Of course, there were more threats about now as well.  Wolves were an ever-present threat to the sheep and goats.   While each family tended their own flock, they also maintained a small group of mostly men who went about their work armed, in case there was something one of the shepherds couldn't handle.  
 

Ami found herself with her family flock, the sun was high, but hadn't reached its zenith yet, everything was quiet, save for a gentle breeze, and the sounds of the flock grazing.   It was idyllic, perfect and yet somehow, she felt ill at ease.   The previous morning, one of the southern families found three of their lambs slain in horrific fashion.   The shepherd heard no noise, saw no sign of the attack, it had simply happened, and then they'd found the lambs in the morning.   It put the town on edge, for Ervan, the Shepherd had long been lauded among the best, having always retrieved any animal lost from whatever took it.
 

To this end, and perhaps because it was summer, one of Ami's brothers was there with her, an extra set of eyes watching their flock.  Her brother had a wife and child of his own already, and normally, he worked the fields farming with her father, but with her other brother having suffered an injury, He was here with her.
 

"I just don't see why you and Grandmother continue to turn down proposal after proposal.   The young men are those you've known, even some from other towns."  The last was something of a rarity, as they seldom had visitors, but even then, Their grandmother had rejected them on Ami's behalf."
 

It was clear he wasn't really harping on her.  As the eldest son, he felt it his duty to take care of his siblings, and he wanted to see Ami happy like anyone else.   He smiled at his younger sister.   She was the first baby he'd ever held, and he'd never forgotten that.   "Were none of them your type or something else?"  He knew Ami did men's work as easily as any man, and were it not for the recent attack, he wouldn't be here.  He had evidently decided to use to time to speak with her about this.

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Amisera glanced at her brother, Gird, he was the oldest, and Ami remembered how he had towered above her when she was a child. Now, he had to stand upslope to appear taller than she. She planted her shepherd’s staff onto the hillside and leaned on it looking across the valley below, she could see the village nestled among the fields where she could see the small figures of people working.

 

Many thoughts skipped through her mind on the subject. “I don’t want it. I have no interest in it. Adding more mouths to feed seems selfish. I feel I can make things better by being who I am not just as some ones wife.” She shot Gird a look, “Not that being a wife is not a worthy thing. I just feel I can do more. Did Papa tell you to bring this up?”

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Gird shook his head.  "No, he didn't.  Papa has given up on understanding you, or trying to make you do anything..  Not like he actually could."   He sighed.  "No, like I said. I'm asking as your brother, because I do want to understand."

He smiled.  "Grandmother says you have a destiny.  I believe her,  I just wanted to make sure you were happy, little sister."   the last part he said with a smirk.   "If you are, then I'll support you, even if everyone else turns away."   He had been their protector, and old habits were hard to break.   

"Still I doubt you need my help or protection.    Tell me, have you given thought to leaving the village before?"

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"Hmm, leaving." Ami turned back to her brother, "Of course I have. Who hasn't?" She sighed heavily and came to a decision. Ami didn't like keeping secrets, it made her feel guilty of some unnamed crime.

 

"Do you remember when those soldiers came through the village, two summers ago?"

 

Gird stiffened. Was his sister about to tell him that one of those soldiers had taken advantage of her?  "Yes, I do," he answered a coldness creeping into his voice.

 

"The older one, not the Dragon Born, but the one they called sergeant. While the men watered the horses and the Dragon Born bought food for his men, Sergeant told stories to the little one. I was near watching one of the soldiers work on his sword and I heard them. It was the first time I had heard tales of places beyond our valley not colored by our ways. So yes I wonder now what it is like elsewhere." 

 

Amisera looked around to see that the heard was settled and that nothing immediate need to be tended too. "Come I want to show you something Gird."

 

Gird was relived that what he had feared hadn't been, but now he was curious.

 

Amisera led him further into the hills along the main stream that fed into the valley then she crossed and followed a smaller stream to where they usually grazed the herds in winter. Eventually they came to two big rocks, boulders really that leaned against each other and formed a crevice at their base. Ami knelt down and dug in the dirt and then came up with something wrapped in what Gird recognized as her old cloak. "What is that?"

 

Ami slowly unwrapped it and then showed her brother her secret.

 

 

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Gird listened as she answered, and nodded.   "I think everyone thinks about leaving at least once or twice, though few actually have, beyond going to the next village over and back."   He  watched not all that eager to leave their flocks but this conversation with his sister was worth it.  When she withdrew the item that was her secret and unwrapped it, he truly didn't know how to process it.  It was of a yellowish color, and without any blemish or rust.   It certainly wasn't jade, it was an actual metal.  Clearly it was a weapon, but beyond being akin to a sword he wasn't certain of anything.

"Ami, this is amazing."   Then his face seemed to cloud over, and darken, as if half-remembering something he'd heard from one of the passing soldiers over a mug of ale.  "This is very dangerous too."   Still he made no move to take it from her as if he were afraid to even touch it.  

"Is this where you've been disappearing to?"

When she looked at him, he nodded.  "it's alright, but you need to show this to Grandmother.   She should know about it, and maybe she can tell you more about it than I can."   He'd seen a Dragonborn carrying a similar weapon made from Jade, but if this was what he thought it was, it was far more dangerous.  "I'll make sure no one tries to take it from you, it was found in our lands by you, so it is rightfully yours by our custom."

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Ami looked down at the sword, she had never thought of it as dangerous but the look on Gird’s face, his wide eyes when he had beheld it all made her consider what others might think or feel. Was this why she had kept the secret all this time. What was Gird afraid of. She had never felt fear.

 

But why had she kept it a secret?

 

She wrapped it back in the old cloak, “Alright, when we go back down I will take it to grandmother.”

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Gird nodded, and with that the two of them head back to the herds.   There were no issues, and as the day rolled by, there was little Excitement, and they would bring in the Herd.  Gird would see to his wife and child, and One of the young men from the Neighboring family would be watching the flocks that night.   Ami's Grandmother came over after supper, and once the children were taken to another room, She smiled at her eldest granddaughter.

"You have something to ask of me don't you Ami?"   A look to Gird, who had returned, and he shook his head.  Her grandmother knew despite being told.   Her father sat in his chair, concern etched on his face, but as she was an adult, he would only get more involved if what was said was more than a personal matter.  

Outside, the winds blew with increasing intensity, There was a storm coming, something they'd not seen on the horizon.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ami closed her eyes in thought, she had wanted to do this alone with her grandmother not in front of the whole family. But no the time for secrets was done. She opened her eyes.

 

"Something to show you first." Amisera took the long wrapped item and unslung it from her shoulder where she had carried it with a make-shift sling all day. She knelt on the floor and gently set the item down and started to unwrap it. Grandmother nodded, her father despite not wanting to see any of this leaned forward to see better.

 

Once it was unwrapped Amisera took it and stood. The sword lay in her upturned hands and she displayed it so all could see. Her mother had returned and stood behind grandmother, who was her own mother, she gave a little gasp quickly stifled.

 

"I found this last winter. I should have brought it to you then father but I didn't, couldn't. I had seen the soldiers with their swords and I wanted to learn how to use it like they did. So instead I kept it hidden, for I knew that if I brought it you would take it and trade or sell it for coin." Now she took it by the hilt and held it up, "I trained myself when ever I could. I taught myself how to hold it , how to do the movements I saw the soldiers do when they practiced. And more. I felt like I knew the right way but just needed to remember it."   As she spoke she moved the sword in her practiced manner, no flourishes but to show that she, at least in her mind knew what she was doing.

 

"Gird says it is dangerous. But I do not believe so."

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No one spoke for a moment, as everyone took in everything that had been said, and the secrets that were revealed.   Their father was the first to speak.   "You are probably correct.  I suspect such a thing would be a valuable trade good."   He was technically the head of the family, but he'd not been one to take things from his children unless they were dangerous.   This would have certainly qualified, but now, he had watched Ami with it, and there was a sense of wrongness at even the thought of separating the two.

"It is yours to do with as you wish."

Gird and her mother both sighed with relief, knowing it wasn't an easy thing, but still there was something off about the weapon.  There was still the uneasy feeling that it was dangerous.

Her grandmother smiled.   "You are wiser than you were before.   Separating the blade from Ami is something we cannot do.   To do so would be an ill omen, and we have enough of those as of late."   She looked to Ami and smiled.  "That weapon has a story,  one that is terrible, and yet, glorious. "  Her eyes shone with a soft golden glow."   

"I will tell it, if you would hear it,  and I think things might make abit more sense."

When everyone nodded, She began her tale.   It took nearly an hour, but no one left, save only to stoke the hearth, and bring drinks as needed.   She told of the Legendary rulers of the First Age, The Solar.    Created by the Unconquered Sun, they were the greatest mortals, with power beyond any other.   Like other Exalted, they had a special bond with a particular material.   This was Orihalchum, holy metal, which shone with the sun's light, and was harder and stronger than steel, yet lighter.   It was made to vanquish evil, and in that aspect, Solars and their weapons had no equals.  Then after their tasks were done, Creation was given over to them, and they grew drunk with their absolute power.   So much so, they did not see those beneath them conspiring, and they rose up, toppling them from power, and sealing them away.   Still while a great many wonders of the first age were destroyed in that titanic battle there remain many treasures that are lost, waiting to be found again.    There are even some that wait for the Solar to return.

"This weapon belonged to a Solar, and what's more, It is Alive."

Even at a small village, the story wasn't unfamiliar.  They'd met imperial soldiers, and those from whitewall and gethamane.   The Solar were deemed Anathema, a great peril and danger to all.   Still even here, They'd heard of the Bull of the North, and how his army of various tribes united under a solar general had destroyed the military of an Imperial house.   There was truth in the words that a Solar, that the Anathema held great power.

"What's more, I daresay everyone here feels great unease, when their thoughts turn towards it."  She looked to Amisera.  "Except for you."
 

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Amisera looked at the weapon as she pondered her grandmothers tale, and at the old cloak that she had wrapped it in which now lay upon the floor. She knew that her grandmother spoke true, she could feel the swords life and felt no threat to her. In fact she felt comfort and warmth, even love. The sword in her hand felt right and as she held it up point directed toward the sky, she felt righteousness and purpose.

 

"You speak truth grandmother. This blade is alive and filled with purpose. And you, father are also right. This weapon is mine but not to do with as I will, but to do what is right and just. And as it belongs with me, so too do I belong with it."

 

She glanced again at the cloak on the floor. "It will need a scabbard of good leather and seasoned fittings, to hold it and i will need a harness to wear it. I am not good at those crafts, mother, so I ask you to make them for me."

 

 

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Her mother and father nodded.   "We can do that for you, we'll measure it in the morning, and get you a fitting scabbard."   

This acceptance brought a smile from her grandmother.   "It is good then.   I would be careful who you show such a weapon to outside this family, and certainly in the future, but I believe that it will serve you well.   I do not know all the details, but I do know it to be good and strong."

"Do not be frightened by the tale I told,  for the Solar did craft many great wonders, and ruled for a long time.  Their power simply grew beyond their limits, and became a snare that lead them to ruin.   Remember that with power comes responsibility, and you alone must make an account of how you wield any power you possess.   That is something that holds true for everyone."

She had only just finished speaking when the alarm bell sounded from the small Watch station that had been erected.

 

 Gird and her Father were first into action, taking up their implements, and heading for the door.   When it was opened, they could hear the watchman  "Wolves are coming, a massive pack of wolves to the East!!"

Indeed they could hear the baying howls of what sounded to be over a dozen beasts, they were getting closer, even as the men of the village emerged from their homes, many armed with pitchforks, sickles, and picks.   Few had weapons, beyond maybe a dagger or a bow, for the huntsmen.

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Amisera paused only long enough the grab up a brand and light it from the hearth, it was still early but already the light had faded from the sky and while twilight was still good for seeing, it would be full dark soon. Once the torch was lit, she followed after her father and brother, but her grandmother called to her, "Ami! the weapon..."

 

"Will help protect our families." She called back and went on to face the wolves, sword in one hand held at her side, blazing torch in the other held high!

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As those who could fight marshalled to deal with the wolves, everyone else remained within their homes and barred and blocked the doors and windows as best they could.  Beds were overturned and children huddled with the elderly as everyone waited for the outcome of the battle.
 

Ami's Father was taking charge of a group of men, Gird among them, they had two hunters with bows as well, and they along with Ami were moving towards the fields.   More and more torches were lit, and at the edge of the light, she could see shadows moving, fleet of foot and fast enough to evade the hasty shots aimed at them.  "Don't waste arrows, wait until they come into the light!" her father bellowed, a sickle in one hand, and knife in the other.   Gird was there with the hunters, clearly moving to protect them should the wolves charge.

 

She could hear the shouts of more people coming, both men and women. A fel wind blew, carrying the scent of death, and ash.   As it sent a chill up the spine of everyone there, over a dozen wolves, each with jet black fur and blazing red-orange eyes emerged into the torch light, moving cautiously, and then from beyond the boundary of light, there came a terrible howl, and the wolves charged, quickly covering ground.  They'd be there before the other villagers would arrive, and already she could see blood dripping from the mouths of several.

 

Spoiler

we are now in combat, the wolves have a defense of 2.   you may move to engage as you wish, there are at least a dozen wolves, half of which will run straight for the archers and gird, the rest will move to engage Ami, her father and 2 other men, armed with a pitchfork and pickaxe.

 

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Amisera had never seen wolves act like this, and a quick glance told her that these were no ordinary wolves. Larger, bolder, no fear of attacking the village instead of skulking in the shadows waiting for a lamb to wander off.

 

Ami also knew that her people were not prepared for this sort of onslaught. Without any thought the sword bearing girl-woman dashed ahead of her father, brother and the rest, waving the torch about her and shouting to either scare the wolves or at the very least draw them to her.

 

The beasts ignored her and drove past. As Ami turned to catch the wolves, her foot caught a stone and the girl fell to the ground gracelessly!

 

Spoiler

botch on my build power roll. not a good start

 

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Several of the wolves rushed past even the archers, into the town.   For their part the archers almost managed to hit the quickly moving wolves, and Gird managed to take one of them in the side, drawing a whimper of pain.  Ami was grabbed and pulled along the ground by a pair of wolves, dragging her near the boundary of the light, before the light caught the sword, and the two wolves released her backing away.  Clearly the weapon was more dangerous to them.  Ami's father and the others took on multiple wolves, and though they didn't do any real damage to them they did draw their attention.  The wolves nipped and clawed at them but no one took an injury that would put them down.  Still it was tough odds.

 

Spoiler

round 2   several wolves failed in withering attacks but three did build up sufficient power to make decisive attacks this turn   Ami is up.

 

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As soon as the wolves that had her let go and backed away Ami rolled to her feet tossing the torch to the ground in front of one wolf and stepping toward the second and jabbing at it with the sword!

 

Spoiler

whithering attack on one wolf

 

Force+Close Combat
Dice Maiden
BOT
 — Today at 9:21 AM
nina_blain Request: [10d10t7] Roll: [10, 9, 8, 6, 6, 6, 5, 4, 2, 1] Result: 3

 

thats 4 successes 

 

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The wolf she struck growled, even as the other moved to circle her, attacking from behind, but a slight shift let her dodge it.   The wolves engaging the others all managed to connect, their claws and teeth tearing at the gathered men, though one wolf went down with an arrow through the brain.   Still the fight was against them, and a shiver of fear went up Ami's neck, there was something else here, something they'd not seen yet. 

From deeper in the village they could hear the sound of more combat, as some of the wolves had gone past them.

 

Spoiler

Ami gains 4 power points thanks to the benefit or orichalcum against these foes, and the attack intimidates that wolf into not attacking.   Gird has gained 3 power, her father 2, one archer crit to kill a wolf, and the other built 3 power.   Both farmers gained 2 power each.  The wolves engaging them each gained 2 power.

We are up at the top of round 3.

 

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Sensing the wolf's fear Ami presses her advantage against the wolf. She lunges toward the beast and then spins to its side taking the sword in both hands and chopping down at its neck!

 

Spoiler

her roll  5 force+ 5 close combat  she will use all available pp.  nina_blain Request: [10d10t7] Roll: [10, 10, 7, 5, 5, 5, 4, 2, 2, 1] Result: 3 with double 10s that is 5 successes

 

 

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It was something to see.  Ami had put her mind to it, and the blade answered her determination.   The Wolf's head separated from it's body even as she moved to face the other wolf.  Having seen what she'd done, the wolf bolted, into the shadows beyond the torch light.

As the other wolves moved to attack her father, the hunters and the two farmers, everyone could hear the whistling of arrows, before half a dozen fell from the sky, impaling each of the wolves, forcing them to break off their attacks.   Two of them went down to the hunters' attacks, and gird managed to leave a nasty slash along the side of the one he fought.   Something the size of a man landed off to the left of them, just within the light rolling on the ground before springing up revealing herself to be a woman, armed with a gleaming silver bow.   "DO NOT TURN YOUR BACK TO THE DARKNESS!"  Her voice rang out, her almost alabaster skin a contrast against the midnight black hair falling past her shoulders revealed by the torchlight.     Arrows were already knocked, and while it looked as if she aimed at Ami, Ami herself could feel that this outsider was aiming beyond her.

To the west, the rest of the pack, another dozen wolves, were attacking.  From the trade road, the Caravan had been set to bypass the small village, but with the ringing of warning bells, and all the light from the myriad of torches, the Caravan master, a Merchant named Marseille, shook his head.  "We will render aid to the village.   It would not do to be remembered later as a company who abandons others to their distress."   He looked to Tikki.  "Take five of our other guards and go, see what aid they require, and do what you can.  Use a red flare if you need more aid, and green when it is safe to come down.  We will not risk our cargo."

To the Captain of the caravan's guard.  "Prepare your defenses, and light more torches."   As he left to rouse those men who'd been off duty, Tikki was left to take a detachment to the village.

 

Spoiler

three wolves are down, one has fled, 3 remain.  On the other side of town, as Tikki draws near, she will see twelve wolves attacking, with three already dead at the feet of a group of 8 men.  There are two dead men, farmers by the look of them, and all of the 8 survivors are injured in some way.  It will take Tikki this turn to get to the Village on horseback.   We are at the top of the next round.

 

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Amisera's first thought was to run back to the aid the village and her father and brother but the woman with the bow gave her pause. Something else was out there, she knew that even without the warning.

 

Ami turned and faced the darkness and called her voice rising louder than the cacophony spawned by the wolves!

 

"Spirit of evil intent show yourself to those who stand against you and the fear you bring. Face us and learn your place!"

Spoiler

She readies herself

 

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"Yes, Caravanmaster," offered Tikki to Marseille's retreating back, standing up in her stirrups to look towards the distant scene of chaos, armor jingling softly with the motion despite its crafting in her ears. Something felt... right about the order, much as it ran contrary to both her cover and actual missions. *She'd* have wanted a band of heroes to come riding out of the steppe bearing torches and blades a few short weeks ago when the dead attempted to drag her and the others down into hungry death.

 

The blonde courier-turned-temporary-guard only took a quick moment to confirm that the small pouch on her belt was still secure before complying, settling down in the saddle, gaze sweeping left and right to take in the nearest mounted guards. She weighed personalities and skills, talents and tells, against one another in the quick, sharp way her experience among the couriers had molded her. Decided. Jumped. "Swen! Hans! Hanna! You're with me," she called, pointing out two more, "Tora, Klessa, guard our flanks!"

 

A mixed chorus of ayes returned to her ears and Tikki kicked her steed into motion against the snowy ground, leaning into the momentum to cut some of the icy wind snapping against her face. As she rode, she tapped into the bubbling roil of light at her core to enhance her eyes and her blade against the invisible, keeping the golden mark of her transformation from appearing on her brow. She hoped against hope that beasts and the hungry dead wouldn't be attacking together, but she wouldn't risk the lives of those following her on such an assumption. Not again.

 

Spoiler

Spiritcutting Glance active, just in case. 6/7 Motes available. 

Moving to arrive on scene.

 

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As the guards and Tikki rode in the villagers fought the wolves, but they weren't doing so well.  Another bow-armed hunter went down, and several more were injured, still the wolves hadn't seemed to notice them yet, despite riding into the light.  

On the other side of the village,  Gird and the others dealt blows to the wolves  putting another one down, which in a show of impossible archery, the Stranger then fired her own arrows, which put the remainder down.   On her brow, there was a faint purplish glow, and she sighed.   

Just then there was a loud yelp,  and the sound of flesh and bones tearing and being crushed.  Two right red eyes appeared and a wolf that stood taller than a man stalked into the light.   It made no sound, and opened its mouth, which in a moment was wreathed in flames.   A firery torrent spewed forth and struck the stranger full on.   There was no howl of pain, even as the remnants of her mantle and hood turned to ash in the night, what was revealed was the silver armor that clad her body, and a fearsome scowl, her hands now holding a shield and sword, still glowing with heat but cooling rapidly.  "A Hellhound, of course it is.."

She was singed,  and her pale skin burned in some places but she still stood.   She turned to Gird and the others.  "This foe is beyond you, go course and take down the ones that got past you.   The Swordmaiden and I will handle this foe."

 

Spoiler

Ami is free to act as she will.

Tikki, you and the guards have the better part of a dozen wolves to contend with, with 8 remaining villagers.

 

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Tikki wasn't any kind of peerless warrior, even after her fateful transformation, her informational position more a result of her care towards the other guards and general competence. At least she liked to flatter herself. Still, she had some prowess with the blade and her halberd was quite the blade at the end of a stick. She couched the polearm under one arm, spurring her steed to a final burst of speed as they closed the gap to the rear of the wolfpack, an unspoken order that made her chosen subordinates mirror her action a heartbeat later.

 

Unless these were very, very flighty manhunting wolves, this charge wouldn't break them, but it'd certainly lift some pressure from the villagers. She prayed anyway, to any kind god or spirit that was listening.

 

Spoiler

Withering Attack...

Exile_Jeane Request: [6d10] Roll: [9, 3, 2, 2, 1, 1] One Success to hit.

 

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The Hellhound was more than prepared for Ami's attack, deftly dodging despite its size,  still, it was telling that the creature dodged her attack, as opposed to simply taking it.  Gird, her father, and the others had hesitated for a moment despite seeing the jet of flame that had struck the Stranger, but then finally head off into the village, leaving Ami and the stranger to fight the hellhound.  

The stranger moved forward, her blade a shimmering silver blur in the moon and torch light, slashing against the side of the hellhound.  "Stay close to it, if we do,  it'll hesitate to breathe fire."

She managed to block the beast's swipe with it's ebon-black claws, as they skittered off the shield in  a shower of sparks. As she moved, she put the beast between the two of them, making it choose who it went after.

"Fell beast..."   The creature turned its head, giving Ami a limited window to attack.

Across the village, Tikki failed to actually strike the wolf, but she did get it's attention from the injured villager it had been going to attack.  The other caravan guards however, all hit their targets, drawing attention from the villagers, who were still fighting back. This additional pressure saw several wolves fall, but there were still plenty more.

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